Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reflections on South Korea

I returned Monday from a 11 day trip to South Korea. During that time, I had the opportunity to preach 5 times and teach a 3 hour intensive for Liberty University on Biblical Theology. I also had the blessing and privilege of meeting and fellowshipping with some wonderful people. Dr. Timothy Chong was a marvelous host and translator. Since I have been back, I have taken some time to reflect on the experience. Permit me to share with you what I observed.

First, it stuck me how similar seminary students are all over the world. With the exception of he language barrier, which seemed very minor, the students I taught in South Korea were similar to students I have taught in Fort Worth, Nashville, Lynchburg, and Kansas City. They love the Lord, feel called to ministry, want to prepare as best they can, are somewhat idealistic, and have a ton of questions concerning the practical side of ministry. It was a real joy to spend the week with them.

Second, I was struck by the strategic importance of South Korea. As goes that nation, so goes the nations of the Pacific rim. Many philosophies are vying for the soul of that nation. Islam is making strategic inroads, Communist agitators have infiltrated from the North, and traditional eastern religions like Buddhism and Taoism are still very prevalent. At the same time, with South Korea's upward social mobility, secularism and atheism are also pulling at the cultural fabric. Korea is a mixture of extreme light and extreme darkness.

Third, I was struck by the need in the churches for equipping. Churches in Korea range from the largest in the world to very small. Pastors are honored and diligent in their desire to walk in obedience to the Lord. The greatest challenge from my observation is training the churches in how to reach people with the Gospel. Equipping pastors to equip their people to reach their country and culture seemed of paramount importance. Equipping the people in Apologetics and particularly how to present the Gospel in light of competing world-views struck me as a first priority.

This is a great time for Liberty University and Liberty Korea to be crafting a strategy to equip pastors and their churches to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. I am grateful for the godly leadership of Dr. Timothy Chong. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to play a small part in God's big work in such a strategic place in our world.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3 Steps to Lowering Anxiety

For most people, anxiety is no stranger. It shows up like an uninvited guest. It is a feeling that can be triggered by circumstances good or bad. So,  the question is how can we deal with this feeling effectively?

Specifically, anxiety is that uneasy feeling that circumstances, real or perceived, will spiral out of control. It is a feeling of fear, worry, or uneasiness which is generalized and unfocused. Anxiety is rooted in fear of the unknown, fed by a personal sense of inadequacy and a sub-conscious sense of unpreparedness. The question is, how do I minimize this anxiety?

First, try to pinpoint the source of your anxiety. Do you have family concerns? Are you insecure with respect to your job? Do you have uncertainty over your finances? Are you dreading a doctor's appointment? Do you have the pressure of a deadline? Is there a rational explanation for what is "eating at you?" Identifying its source may help you deal with it more effectively.

Second, understand that the best way to deal with uncertainty is to prepare the best way you know how. Here are some ways to cope.
1. Plan your time.
2. Work off a "to do" list.
3. Anticipate possible scenarios.
4. Establish your projected course(s) of action.
5. Prioritize your work. Do the most important things first. Choose to minimize unnecessary 
6. Remember that the more time you spend planning, the less time will be required for execution.

Third, remember that you can trust your unknown future to the known God.
1.    He created you.
2.    He knows you.
3.    He loves you.
4.    He wants to bless you.
5.    He wants you to be fruitful in your endeavors.

The closer you get to God, the less anxiety will adversely affect you! Recall Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:25-34, He addresses the issue of worry and anxiety. He concludes the matter by promising, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things (whatever you need) will be added to you." Peter said, "Casting all your care on Him because He cares for you." These promises are for you.

Use your anxiety or whatever might be causing your anxiety as a springboard to motivate you to chase after God who does not want you to live as a captive to anxiety.