Time Management

When I met Beth a few years ago, I remember that because of my interest in her, I would purposely go to places where I would run into her. Once we started dating, she became even more of a priority in my life. I was intentional about making time to go out with her. Naturally, there were other things that I used to do with my time that went on the back burner.
When the infatuation turned to love, however, then aside from the Lord, she became my number one priority in life. Everything else in life, like hobbies, interests, and even my job, took second place. I once quit a job simply because the schedule was such that it made it difficult to be with Beth. When you love someone, you will manage your time in order to be with them. You don’t have trouble carving out chunks of your busy schedule to prioritize the person you are in love with. 

I’m sure we all make time for our spouse or our children. Even our hobbies.
How much time do we give to Jesus? Do we make daily prayer or Bible reading a priority in life? Or do we give God whatever is left out of the day?
Jeremiah 2:32 “Does a young woman forget her jewelry? Does a bride hide her wedding dress? Yet for years on end my people have forgotten me.”

Imagine how offended my wife would be if I gave her three to five minutes of communication a day, and I always rattled off the same words like a robot, never deviating from the script. It wouldn’t take long for her to wonder if my affection was really sincere.
Or suppose she wrote me a love note, but I ignored it for several days, and then when I finally dusted it off and opened it up, I fell asleep reading it.
If she dared to ask why I don’t hang out with her more often, I protest that it’s simply boring and that I feel most connected with her when I smell the nice clean laundry or taste the food she prepares. Isn’t that good enough?

Sadly, many ‘Christians’ are totally content with rattling off a memorized prayer every day (when they remember), they fall asleep at the mere thought of reading the Bible, and insist that enjoying His blessings or creation is akin to spending real, quality time with Him.
Does that a demonstrate a love for God?
Would you be convinced that the person you love loved you back if they treated you that way? If you want to cultivate a deep, intimate relationship with someone, the only way to do it is to spend time with them.

I know that sometimes we are guilty of taking advantage of those we love, and we end up unintentionally neglecting them because we know they are always with us. It’s not too late to change.
Let us take a moment to look at our busy schedule and ask ourselves, “Have I been neglecting my greatest relationships in life?” My spouse, my children, and especially my relationship with God?
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8

Strong Roots

I remember shortly after moving to Tri Cities, I was amazed at how many young trees in people’s yards would die or be blown over by the wind. It didn’t take long for me to figure out why. If you plant a tree, you want the roots to go down deep into the ground, so that they can draw out nutrients from the soil, and also so they can be strong enough to weather storms. But this takes time.
However, what seemed to happen all too often is that someone would plant the tree where it was constantly getting sprayed with irrigation water twice a day. So rather than shooting roots deep down into the ground, they spread out shallow enough to absorb the easy water that comes from irrigation. The problem with that is, it doesn’t take much more than a drought in summer or a strong storm for it to either blow over or die of dehydration. That’s the result of shallow roots.

I talk to and counsel a lot of Christians who wonder why they don’t have a deep relationship with God or why they compromise and fall into sin so easily. It doesn’t take long to figure out why.
Many of them simply have very shallow roots. Their prayer life is abysmal. They have no hunger for the Word. They don’t really enjoy going to church, and they rarely, if ever, share their faith! That’s sounds terrible, but one or more of those may describe some people reading this. I don’t write it to be condescending, but to help identify the problem, so we can grow out of it.

Trees that only want fresh new easy water don’t have deep roots. Christians who only want fresh new easy experiences and don’t practice spiritual discipline to grow are shallow. They will be vulnerable to the storms and the dry seasons of life.
Look at Colossians 2:6,7 “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

Proper growth takes time. A strong tree with deep roots doesn’t grow overnight. It happens as we discipline ourselves to follow Christ. Sometimes, in fact most of the time, Bible reading is a matter or discipline. We don’t have earth shattering epiphanies every single time we open the Scriptures. And we don’t hear audible voices every time we pray. God does speak to us in prayer and through the word all the time, but sometimes I’m reading just because I love Him and I apply myself to being a disciple. Going to church isn’t about me and what I’m getting out of it. It’s about being around God’s people and serving wherever I can. Sharing your faith is the surest and fastest way for you to grow and develop in your faith. You’ll experience the power of the Holy Spirit in a way you never have before.
The growth that occurs because of these disciplines is something that happens over the course of time. But the roots you put down will go deep into Christ.
Your relationship with God will be strong and fulfilling, even during a drought or a storm. You won’t be easily ensnared or overcome by temptation, and you’ll be filled with thankfulness to God.

What kind of roots do you have? Are they deep or shallow? Are you only interested in seeking God when it’s easy and convenient? Or do you discipline yourself to seek and follow him?

The Real Deal

A number of years ago I was talking one day with the guys on the construction crew about wanting to see the latest movie. One of them told me I could save a ton of money by buying the dvd from a local store he knew of. “How could I do that if it’s still in the theater,” I asked him. He insisted that they had it, so I checked it out.
The store he spoke of was more like a flea market, but sure enough, they had the movie on dvd for $10. I bought it, took it home, and played it. But immediately I knew something was wrong. The picture was fuzzy and was even shaky. This wasn’t the real thing. My suspicions were confirmed when all of the sudden a dark figure stood up and walked across the screen. Someone had taken a video camera into the theater, recorded the movie, and was selling it for $10!
Of course I quit watching and threw it away.
It was pirated! 

Have you ever known someone who was a phony? A faker? A poser? People pretend to be something they are not all the time. In relationships, in the workplace, in sports, and even in religion!
Isn’t it refreshing when you meet someone who is the real deal?
Lots of people say they know about God, and even insist that they know the way to Him. In case you haven’t noticed, there are multiple religions around the world, and seemingly countless churches scattered all over our towns and cities.
Who holds the truth? Who is the real deal?

This is why it’s SO important for us to have a relationship with God that is real and experience Him for ourselves. We don’t ride into heaven on the coattails of our parents or our pastor. There are a lot of people have given religion a try in some fashion, but have not yet received the Holy Spirit.
Salvation comes from knowing God. (John 17:3) Not merely knowing about God, but a real relationship.
You won’t know the reality of that life with God as long as you are just trying to connect with a particular cause, church, or leader. All the religious ceremonies and outward acts are just fuzzy pictures of what the real experience of a walk with God is like.
You won’t know the “real deal” until you’ve received the Holy Spirit.
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.” 1 John 2:27

So when I talk to people who say they’ve tried all the religious stuff, but its all fake, I ask them a simple question. “Did you know the Lord?” If they did, then they are admitting that they are living in direct contradiction to what they know to be true. If they didnt, then they were never really a Christian. So I follow up with some more simple guidance. Something like this: “Have you experienced the Holy Spirt? He’s not trying to hide from you. Stop trying to please or appease God with all those other things, let go of your own works, and pray a simple prayer of faith, asking Him to fill you, change you, empower you. He will!”

The important thing for us is to make sure that when the world looks at us, they see the real deal. Don’t be the phony, the faker, the poser. Make sure YOU are filled with the Spirit before you tell others to do so!

Hearing from God

Sometimes I get irritated that the volume on my phone doesn’t get loud enough for me to hear certain videos or music. Even if I turn up all 16 bars on the volume control, the slightest bit of background noise is enough to drown out what I’m trying to listen to.
But if I play something at night, when the kids are in bed and the tv is off, no dishwasher is running and no cars are driving by, free from all the other noise of the day, then the volume is so loud and clear, I have to turn it way down to about three bars, otherwise the kids are shouting that they can hear it from the other room!

Some people are frustrated that they can’t seem to hear God’s voice or obtain God’s guidance. They hear people talk about how God speaks to others, but why doesn’t God ever speak to them?
For some it’s been so long since they’ve heard from God, they have accepted that God simply doesn’t speak to people anymore like the Biblesays He does, or that the people who think so are either misled or lying.
So what’s the truth? Does God speak to us? And if so, how do I learn to listen to what He has to say?

When Jesus taught us to pray, he said we should enter into our prayer closet, and shut the door. Matthew 6:6 There is something about getting into a quiet place, where there aren’t any distractions, and focusing on the Lord. It’s important that we free ourselves from background noise that can drown out the voice of God.
Here is Elijah’s experience: “Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And the conversation continues from there.
(I Kings 19:11-13)
Sometimes God does speak to us loud and clear, but most often, we communicate with God in the quiet places where we intentionally get rid of distractions and tune into Him. Some Christians have never developed the discipline of spending regular quiet time with God. too busy too listen

Think about it. When your favorite show is on tv, or when your favorite team is playing, do you turn the volume down and have all sorts of other things going on? No! In fact, we turn off all other distractions, keep the kids out of the room, maybe even close the blinds and turn down the lights to enhance the experience.
Shouldn’t we give at least the same amount of effort to our quiet times where we focus on the Lord?
Find a place where you can eliminate background noise and hear the still small voice of God. You’ll find that He has had things to say all along. You were just too distracted to hear it!

Overcoming Spiritual Blindness

Yesterday I got into a huge fight with this idiot blind man over what color looks like. He had all these moronic preconceived notions about it that he held onto even after I shouted at him that he was wrong. So I got really angry at his stubbornness and proceeded to ridicule him for it.
Just kidding, that never happened! But can you imagine how rude and inconsiderate it would be for me to get angry with and fight with a blind man about something he CANNOT see?

This is how silly it is to me when I see Christians getting so upset and angry at the world when they don’t understand spiritual things. Guys, they can’t see. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4
It’s not a matter of whether or not they WANT to see, they literally CANNOT see.
You wouldn’t go over and kick a blind man if he stumbled over the curb in front of you, would you? Of course not! You would help him, and love him in spite of his weakness.

That’s why it’s entirely possible for me as a Christian to hate the abortion industry, but to show love to the individuals involved in it. I can have a genuine hatred for all the different facets of moral and sexual depravity affecting our society, but give patient love to individual people. If you think about the hot button issues of our day, most of them really boil down to people being blinded. All you have to do is mention certain inflammatory subjects, and you can have a knock ’em down drag ’em out fight on your hands. It’s so easy to fall into the temptation to argue, even to ridicule people for holding onto their ideology and beliefs.

Is that the standard a Christian is called to? How differently would we react to people if we kept in mind that they have been blinded? That they cannot see? How differently would I treat the person in front of me if I remember that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
I think we would do well to remember that when we engage in discussions or debates, we don’t fight spiritual battles with scarcasm, ridicule, or anger, but that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

How are you representing Jesus in the way you engage your culture? With patience and gentleness, or with anger and frustration?
One parting scripture:
“But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
II Timothy 2:23-26

Mission Update

Hey friends,

This week, rather than posting a typical blog, I am going to fill you in on whats been happening here in Honolulu and what the near future is looking like.

I just completed the lecture phase of the School of Missions and Evangelism, and the outreach phase has begun. The outreach for the school was originally supposed to be in Indonesia and New Guinea, but considering the crisis happening in Greece, we switched the outreach location to Lesbos Island in Greece, where literally an average of 6,000+ refugees are arriving daily. The rest of the students are already there, but I won’t be heading over until January.

Because I am a married father of 5, they have been very flexible with me not having to be gone the entire time, so I am fulfilling much of my outreach here in Honolulu, which isn’t too hard of a place to find unsaved people to talk to! However, I have a pretty tight schedule planned out over the next 3 months. Next week I will be in Kona, which is the largest YWAM base. Then I’ll be home for Christmas with the family. Our church is flying Berth and I back to WA for the week following Christmas to do some teaching on evangelism, and also to be the speakers at a retreat for young adults on that weekend.

We will get back to Hawaii on Jan 4, then continue to do a lot of local ministry, but I will be heading to Greece for at least two weeks of January. Then I’ll come home for a couple of weeks, and head out again in February to spend a couple of weeks in India and Sri Lanka. I was supposed to go to Armenia in February also, but that has been postponed for a few months.

Beth and I have been keeping the Kyllonen Family Mission Facebook page updated, but honestly we have been so busy every day with new and exciting things. If you haven’t been there and ‘Liked’ the page, you are missing out on those updates. The page doesn’t tell the half of everything going on. We spend a lot of time doing street evangelism, in all kinds of forms. From simply passing out tracts to people, to engaging in conversations, to full blown open air preaching, we cover a lot of ground. I would give you a bunch of cool stories, but this would get pretty extensive. So I’ll share just two:

Last tuesday night we went out to Chinatown with a bunch of DTS students. I had a couple of girls with me, and we walked around, approaching people, handing out tracts to break the ice and get conversations started. We had a lot of great encounters with people who were open to hear the word of God. WE also got to pray with a lot of hurting people. On one occasion, we were beginning to pray with a couple of guys who had just heard the entire gospel and said they wanted to follow Christ, when a drunk man came up and joined our prayer circle. As we prayed, I looked up, and to my horror, he was vigorously rubbing one of the girls on the back while looking at her with a big dirty smile and trying to hit on her. She was trying to shove him away but he was too strong for her. He happened to be directly across from me, so I leaned forward and literally kicked him, and shouted, “Hey! Watch it, or I’ll break that arm!” Suddenly, he bowed his head with his hands behind his back as we finished the prayer.  I laughed so hard because I’ve never had to do anything like that during evangelism before!

A couple of days before that incident, a group of about 5 of us was on a corner of Waikiki trying to get a crowd gathered for open air preaching. I was really trying hard to get people to listen, but this area has so many people handing out advertisements and brochures, they weren’t responding to any of our tracts or to me, even as I tried to give away money! I had a fake human heart in my hand, and I was asking trivia questions about the heart, when a demon possessed man walked straight up to my ladder and stood an inch for my face and yelled that he was going to kill me if I didnt shut up. I was delighted! Finally, some action. “This ought to draw a crowd,” I thought. So I asked him, “What’s your name, buddy?” “Don’t call me buddy, you blankety blank blank!” This was even better than I thought. So I asked him what was in my hand, to which he replied, “I’m gonna rip your heart out of your chest, hold it in front of you, and make you put it back in!” I laughed. But as I looked around, nobody was paying any attention. As soon as I stopped speaking to my new friend, he lost interest and disappeared. I don’t know why, but even on that busy street corner, with literally hundreds of people passing by every few minutes, I couldn’t get anything going. I tried and tried, but I just could not muster a even a small crowd. Sometimes we have an evangelistic failure. No biggie. There are too many successes to focus in on those what don’t work out.

Thanks for praying for us on this journey of faith. Just about every day I still have moments where I am blown away by what the Lord has done this past year. We have some pretty major decisions to be making in the next few months about where to make a long term commitment to settle in and begin leading a School of Evangelism of our own. Its becoming more and more clear to us where we should be, but God can do whatever He wants. We are open to His leading and are ready to take on the tasks He gives us.

God bless you and thank you for your support. And don’t forget, if you haven’t been following our Facebook mission page, go there and get on board. You’ll receive a lot more updates, even with pictures!

 

Evolution and the Bible

I often get asked if I am an old earth or a young earth creationist. Do I believe that God created the world in a literal 6 days, or could He have just initiated the Big Bang and then watched evolution take place? Could God have used evolution when He created the world? And if so, couldn’t He also have set in motion the process of natural selection to create man and the rest of all living things?

The answer is that “Yes,” He could have, if He wanted to. But that is not the creation account we read of in Scripture. He chose to create things His own way.

Here are a few verses that demonstrate that evolution is not scriptural. Bear in mind that I am answering the question of whether evolution is compatible with the Bible. Can a Christian believe in evolution AND the Bible?
The answer is no. He will either have to believe that certain passages are not correct, (the Bible is flawed) or he will have to believe that man’s scientific hypothesis is not correct.

1. Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in his own image. Adam was complete upon his initial creation.
2. Jesus quoted Genesis 5:2 in Matthew 19:4 when he said that “in the BEGINNING (emphasis added) He created them male and female.”
If an asexual creature was reproducing just fine on its own, why would the process of natural selection decide to complicate things in developing male and female parts?
The Bible teaches that they were male and female from the beginning.
3. Genesis 2:5 “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
This is a specific moment of time. There was no evolution or life until God breathed life into him.
4. Genesis 2:21-24 tells about how God put Adam to sleep, took one of his ribs and made Eve, then brought her to him.
Again, a specific event.
5. Genesis 3 describes the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, bringing death and decay and the curse of sin upon all of humanity and even nature. Death is the direct result of sin. Before this point in time, there was no death, no millions of transitional forms struggling for survival of the fittest.
This is a very important fundamental doctrine that cannot be dismissed if one is to understand the rest of the book, the root of humanity’s problems, and the remedy presented in the gospel.

Evolution, as it is taught in schools and universities, is not compatible with the Bible. To believe it, one must either play word games with or entirely disregard clear teachings of scripture, and that is a slippery slope that leads people further and further from the truth as they wrestle with and explain away every other passage that gives them moral or intellectual trouble.

The plain and simple truth is that science, as we call it, is constantly changing its position and its stance on evolutionary theory. A theory of which we have plenty of conjecture, imagination and hypothesis, but do not possess one iota of fact. The Bible, on the other hand, has never changed or been proven wrong. Not once has ‘science’ effectively or convincingly provided sufficient proof that the Bible contains errors. On the contrary, the Bible has repeatedly proven itself to be a solid record that has been handed down and preserved accurately for thousands of years, has remained steadfast, unchanging and true while withstanding the tests of skepticism and scrutiny.

Pictures

My screensaver on my phone is a picture of my wife. Sometimes I click the power button on my phone just so that it will light up and I can see her face. But when my wife walks in the room, I put the phone down. Imagine how silly it would be if she came up for a smootch, but instead of embracing my wife in real life, I pull out my phone and kiss the photo!
That would be offensive to her. My wife wants our relationship to be deep and meaningful, with real communication and affection. 

Sadly, this is exactly how many people treat their relationship with God. They grab ahold of pictures instead of experiencing Him for real. That’s why Colossians 2:17 says, ““So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
Colossians 2:16-17
It really is a danger that some people will never let go of those things that are just a shadow, or a picture, of what a real relationship with God is supposed to look like. Jesus stands at the door and is available, yet many would rather hold onto rituals and religious ceremony rather than experience the reality of His presence.

People who lack the reality of a vibrant spiritual walk with God tend to gravitate towards legalism. This condition is worse than if they completely rejected the truth of God altogether. For their outward observances are the deadly opiate by which they console themselves that all is well.
Can you imagine how terrible it will be for the multitudes who protest on the last day, “Did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not do this and that in your name? Didn’t we do many wonderful works?” Only to hear the sobering words, “I never KNEW you.” Matt7:23

Do you know the Lord?
“And this is eternal life, that the might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Sowing Seeds

After some street witnessing Thursday night, we were talking on the way home and sharing stories of the encounters we had. One of the girls was telling us about a person she met who had all sorts of weird ideas about God and the Bible. She was wondering if their conversation did any good at all.

Have you ever been there? Have you spoken with someone who adamantly insists that the Bible says some crazy thing, (which you know it doesn’t) but they can’t remember where it says so? Or else people say things like, “I believe God is like this,” and go into describing some far out fairy tale?

I know it can be a bit unnerving to deal with these situations, and you can even walk away feeling a bit defeated if it appears they don’t receive the truth when you present it to them. But don’t be discouraged! Think about it. Every weird doctrine of false impression that person holds is something that someone taught them at some point in time, and they remembered it. That little seed that someone else sowed bore fruit. It shaped their view of God. Now YOU get to be the voice of reason who shows them, from the Scriptures, what is really true. You never know how far that seed of truth will go, or how much fruit it will eventually bear.

If I think back to before I was a Christian, I can remember believing all kinds of far out things about God. There were people at different occasions who took the time to correct those false impressions. I even remember being contentious with some of them, but the truth did stick with me. Not one of those people ever saw me come to Christ, but they all played a part in leading me to Him. Each of those people had a hand in planting the seeds which eventually bore the fruit of bringing me to the Lord.

So when you are sharing the gospel with your friends, neighbors and loved ones, aim for repentance. Aim to bring them to Christ. But if all that happens is you get to sow more seeds of truth into their lives, rejoice! Your work is not a waste! Pray for that person, and know that God’s word doesn’t return void. He loves them more than you do, and He is pursuing them and working on their heart all the time.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Something to Tune Into

In order to post this message, I’m wirelessly connecting to the Internet with my laptop. Pretty amazing, when you think about it. I can type my thoughts for the day and instantly share them with people literally all over the world in seconds. Alternatively, I can simply call or FaceTime a friend and have a real-time, face to face conversation, all because of the advances in technology.
Right now, there are millions of bits of information passing in front of you. Radio programs, conversations, television shows, etc., are being transmitted through frequencies that just need the right receiver to be tuned into. Any piece of news, scientific discovery, or information from world history is available to me at any moment if I just get on my mobile internet. Crazy!
Flash back just 200 years, and try telling the average person about these advancements. They will think you’re crazy! Try telling them that you can talk to another person, literally on the other side of the world, in real time, with a small 3″x5″ device in your hands. Your voice goes into a machine, which converts it into data that it then sends to a tower, which sends it to a satellite, which then sends it to another tower, which sends it to the other person’s phone, and it comes out sounding exactly the same. And it happens in less than a couple of seconds. All while there are millions of similar conversations happening simultaneously, and they don’t get mixed up! You will have a very difficult time convincing anyone that this is even possible.

This is what it feels like to explain a relationship with God to skeptics. People sometimes think I’m loony when I tell them about Jesus living inside of me and speaking to me in different ways. They think I’m either lying to myself or that I’m out of my mind!
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Cor 2:14
But when people receive the Holy Spirit, they are able to “tune into” spiritual things and begin to understand and experience Him for themselves. The Bible comes alive in full living color!
The Bible tells us that spiritual things are “the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1Cor 2:9-13

Do you have the Holy Spirit? Are you able to comprehend spiritual things?
I understand that for many people this is difficult to grasp. But there is a spiritual reality and a vibrant, fulfilling relationship with the God of the universe that is available to all who will come to Him through Jesus Christ.
Foolishness to some, but an everyday reality for many.