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Friday, April 26, 2013

Excerpt from a Godly Warriors lesson for Today at Aikido of Northwest Kansas

It's a funny truth, but Jesus talked a lot about how we had to surrender our lives to gain true life. He made it clear that if we did surrender everything that we would gain everything, as well, but we still had to give it up (Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”). Ironically, AFTER trusting and following Jesus and while 'giving up our lives' continually, we get the Holy Spirit whose gifts include SELF-CONTROL. This may seem funny, at first, that we have to give up our lives to gain life and THEN we get more ability to control ourselves, but it actually makes a lot of sense and parallels Aikido progress.

In Aikido new students have to learn to 'go with the energy given' in a technique and just move. This can be one of the hardest parts of Aikido for many—especially for perfectionists or those who feel they need to have control at all times. There are SO many things that we can focus on in even the most basic technique—say cross-hand wrist-grab wristlock-throw kota-gaeshi. It is possible to write pages on that technique about foot position, timing, balance, breathing, shifting weight at the appropriate times, angles, torques on and through wrists, maintaining extension, keeping centered, making sure to keep weight underside, being relaxed throughout the technique, blending with the attacker's direction and energy, and even where the eyes should look at different parts of the technique. However, the more a new person focuses on more and more details and tries to CONTROL every aspect of the technique, the worse the technique usually gets. The mind literally cannot keep all the details going at once when consciously thought through. We HAVE to learn to let go of our need to control everything with force of will and muscle and RELAX while just starting with one or two things. Only once we let go of our rigid control can we let the movements of the technique and the actual DOING of Aikido teach us. We may have additional help from those who have more experience (as we do in a Christian walk) or even direct advice from instructors or manuals (again parallels the Christian way), but we still have to learn to LET GO and RELAX and TRY. Ultimately, our greatest teacher is the movement and the flow itself as we learn to listen to it (much like we learn to listen to God and the Holy Spirit). Eventually, a student gets much better at this and can even 'see' and guide many techniques with a high degree of accuracy while they are occurring; in the sense that they can now hear the flow and move within and even guide a technique (as opposed to how they started off by trying to forcefully control a technique through exerting their internal strength and power) they have gained so much more control of any incoming attack and of a technique—and in a way they never could have done by controlling every little detail. This is a great irony, and it is a great truth in both Aikido and the Christian walk. To truly listen and 'hear' and learn, we have to first give up our need and desire to control all parts of our lives/the techniques and attackers in our lives. Only then are we TRULY able to learn from the Aikido/from God and life.

More details about Godly Warriors lessons can be found at (

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Unite Game Night April 19th

We had a PARTICULARLY fun Game Night last Friday with a large variety/spread of students attending.  Check out some photos on facebook here (  We've also posted one or two below--enjoy!

Saturday Small Group

It was SO GOOD to meet with the all-guys Bible study/small group community yesterday!  It feels like it’s been hard to get us all together as busy as the semester has been, but three of us made it, and we had a truly refreshing time in the Word and sharing. 
Some days such readings and discussions can be good and thought-provoking, but somehow this one felt different—at least to me.  There was a lot of prayer and time spent listening between thoughts and readings, and we received some really interesting insights.  We discussed how in John, Jesus answers the question about how He is only revealing Himself to the Jews by talking about the Holy Spirit in believers and how, ultimately, (when that info is correlated to Hebrews) Christ WAS revealing Himself to everyone (not just the Jews) through the Holy Spirit in believers.  We also discussed how many in the John verses before couldn’t hear what He really meant (or did hear in part but wouldn’t change for fear of being thrown out of the synagogues) and how in Hebrews it explains that the Holy Spirit opens ears and hearts and eyes and minds…  In other words, that method is what is required to help people hear when Jesus does reveal Himself.  It was interesting to reflect on.  What was equally if not more important to me, though, was just being with the guys in the quiet of the day with God.  It was very needed and refreshing.  I am excited for the next time we can join together.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Hello everyone!  In response to newsletter readers’ suggestions, I am making the newsletters shorter, but I will begin posting more frequently here on Unite's prayer blog!  The posts online will cover some of my ministry adventures along with more in-depth updates, stories, encouragements, and prayer requests.  I may still put out longer newsletters from time to time, but I will attempt to keep most of them shorter.  Please check out this prayer blog and let me know if you think this is a good, bad, or neutral change!  I have already posted an update to the prayer bog that would have normally

been last month’s newsletter, so read it and let me know what you think!  For this month’s newsletter, I have included some photos.  The photo above is from our creative stations of the cross experience that we set up for Good Friday at Unite Game Night.  Besides the stations of the cross experience, we also had a coffee demonstration that night and gave information about the slave trade in coffee production.  Since Jesus came to set the captives free, we felt it was appropriate to read about ways we could help set others free, too!  Not many students went through the prayer stations that night (not too many were there at all—many had gone home to be with family), but those who did seemed to have a genuine, positive experience.  Overall, Unite Game Night continues to go strong, and we hope that it serves as a good place to find community and to act as an alternative to the typical Friday night activities in Hays (photo of game night is below). 


On a completely different ministry front, a few of the Aikido of Northwest Kansas students who also go to Unite Game Night accompanied me on a Godly Warriors Aikido demonstration for a youth conference in Hoxie (photo above).  We were very privileged to be one of the two main speakers/demonstrations at the Way of the Warrior youth conference.  We gave two demonstrations, and I talked about being a Godly warrior (more info at  It was a good time for those of us who went, and I think it was a blessing to those at the conference, as well.

Prayer Requests

Please pray that the NOMADS trip in late April be used by God for good purposes.

Please pray that God direct us as we seek to meet with outside entities about [alt] this year and as we discuss how it may look.

Please keep several local ministries in your prayers that are seeking to start up or drastically shift gears as new leaders come in.

Please pray that God help me connect with new churches and private individuals who would want to fund the ministry endeavors out here; as I prepare for marriage and increases in expenses, I need my salary to increase to closer to minimum wage (and ideally to closer to my goal amount).

Please pray for my fiancé Tella, and I as we go through pre-marriage counseling; we are very excited!

Please pray that God help us find a good house to buy (or a good place to rent if we aren’t to buy a house right now); we are interested in buying a house near the college sector in the short term in which we could rent out the basement to help finances; long-term we might be interested in using such a house as a ministry house in which we could rent to Christian college students for discipleship or to just anyone or to international students in particular as an outreach ministry.

Please keep our small groups in your prayers—as finals approach, it is harder and harder for students to gather in community and study the Word.

Finally, please pray that the churches in the region unite in love and continue to serve others as the Body of Believers!  As always, thank you for your prayers and for your financial support!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Brief Reflections on My Day

This morning, I met with a college-aged man in the chapel of the Protestant Campus Center as is my weekly custom.  Most of what we talk about is private, but I can say that the conversation gently reminded me to relax back into spending more quality time with God daily—though I have been praying and seeking to move in the Spirit, I haven’t taken the Sabbath time I need to not only rest in God but also to digest what He has been teaching me.  The conversation was interrupted by thunder and some gorgeous heavy rain along with hail.

After that meeting, I met with a local area pastor (as is my weekly custom).  It was an excellent time to sit and listen over lunch, and later to share.  Again, most of what we speak about is private.  This conversation encouraged me in a few ways that I cannot share, but it also encouraged me to keep praying and not worrying about life too much as I seek to live for the Kingdom daily.  In truth, after praying and doing all I can do, there really is nothing else I can do in most situations; though there are several things that I could try and think through and worry about in life right now—they really are in God’s hands.  I am excited to see what He’ll do.

The rest of my day involved a brief community time at a small group I lead; I am excited to be able to likely spend more time talking and reading the Bible next week!  I also taught Aikido, spent some time with my fiancé, and took care of quite a bit of office work that needed done; there’s still more to do!  Now, I am TRULY excited to let my head hit the pillow and to sleep in my warm house.  The weather is bitterly cold (it dropped from sixty something today to under twenty), but it is warm inside, and tomorrow, for the first time in a LONG time, I can sleep in a bit and almost make 8 hours of sleep!  Good night, and God bless!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Wednesday before Easter was a surprising day—I had been feeling under the weather, so I slept in a bit.  I figured that in the long run it was more important to get well quickly than it was to get in an extra hour of work; I also knew that I could work really hard to make my time up.  I had a LOT of work to get to!  There were a million little detail-things that needed done for promotion material for the upcoming Unite Mission Trip, some work for upcoming [alt] coordinating meetings, and work for an awareness drive reminding the churches of The Welcoming Event for next semester.  Little did I know that my planned work day was about to change course drastically. 

The night before, a Chinese college-aged student had stopped in the dojo during open mat time and asked me if I could help him with his car.  His window wouldn’t go up.  It didn’t take long to figure out that his window arm regulator was shot.  With a little bit of work we got his window back up and sent him on his way with info for a mechanic.  I also had left him my ministry card for him to call me if he needed any help.

Now in the middle of my busy Wednesday (right as I sat down to work, actually), I received a call from him.  It turned out that the mechanic couldn’t help him until next week, and the student needed to leave in a couple of days (he wasn’t an FHSU student—he was just visiting friends who were, and he needed to get home); so, I directed him to another mechanic.  Then he called back with the same result.  After another such call or two, I suggested we meet back at the dojo so I could see what we could do.  On the way, I called a mechanic from my church who said he could help out the next day.  After some work and a call to the mechanic from my church with both the student and me on the other line, we got it all figured out.

By now, I had lost a lot of my work time, so I called my fiancé to see if she wanted to join me for a Wal-Mart run instead of a bike ride; I had to get out there to buy some things for an upcoming event at Unite Game Night.  She understood the change of plans and agreed.  We dashed through the store and loaded up our car.  In the lot as we were about to step into the car I got an excited wave from a college-aged guy I know.  He parked and came over and shared a very exciting and encouraging story about what God had been doing in his life.  Within a very short period of time, it became apparent that he needed to express what all had been happening, and I truthfully wanted to listen as did my fiancé; so, we did.  The story was great, it had a good lesson for me to ponder in my life, and we all left happy—gladder for the conversation—about forty-five minutes later.

By now, most of my day had been eaten up by seemingly chance encounters, so I hurried to drop my fiancé., Tella, off at her Perspectives class (after getting us both some food); afterwards I was going to head to the youth group I help with on Wednesdays.  As I dropped Tella off at her class, she said something prescient—“if you end up talking with a student late, don’t worry about it; I have a book so you can pick me up as late as need be.”

Well, sure enough, I ended up in another long (though EXCELLENT) conversation.  This time, the lesson at youth group was good for me to reflect on AND it related to the lesson I had received earlier in the day when listening to the young man in the Wal-Mart parking lot.  One part of that lesson was to not let life distract me but to focus back on Jesus and the Kingdom (the people He came to save).  At the end of our time in youth group, a young woman whom I know was sitting in a corner by herself, seemingly lost in thought and upset.  I sat down nearby and just chilled in silence.  Eventually, we began having an excellent conversation.  Over time the youth pastor (Jeff) joined us, and we continued to talk for almost another thirty to forty-five minutes.  The talk was deep, critically important, and one that I very much enjoyed.  I would not have traded it.  Afterwards, I hurried to pick up Tella at Perspectives, which had been over for awhile.  It turned out that she already had a ride home, so I met her there and hung out with her for a little bit before going to bed and crashing from a long day.

The lesson I learned about not being distracted in Youth Group very much applied to my day; it had started busy with many worries about logistics for valid ministry things; however, my focus was off—it was on them in a stressful light.  By the end of the day, it became obvious what at least three of the things had been that I was really supposed to have done that day, and all of them weren’t on my radar screen.  It was an excellent reminder of what God’s Kingdom Work really is—people.  It’s not to say that those other things don’t need done or don’t benefit people.  I also acknowledge that there are times that I have to get that work done to facilitate good God-moments with other people.  Both things are a part of it; however, it can be very easy for me in my busy days to get so focused on those details that I am too busy to stop and listen to the real opportunities around me in the actual day that is occurring.  I am a firm believer that the Bible talks about planning for the future wisely to some degree; I also see that it says not to WORRY about tomorrow and that it seems to emphasize living prayerfully in the moment now—for that is the only moment we have.  It is within the balance of those two truths that I seek to live—and man can that be hard some days!  Please feel free to pray for me in that ;)  Still, when I am in the balance between those two, I find that I can both listen to the opportunities and engage them as they come AND get the work done when the windows for such work come, too.  Days that flow beyond well like that seem rare, but they are sure are cool when they happen!  What’s much cooler is that I have a God who is willing to help guide and direct my stubborn self into the moments in my day even when I am unaware of them.  Thank God for that and for special moments with others—they are part of an abundant life and the abundant life to the full that Christ came to freely give us!  Moments like that with God and others are special to me beyond words.  I pray that you may have some special moments with God and other people in your future, as well, and that you are listening to the opportunities in the day and seize them!

In an effort to keep newsletters smaller in future, I will be publishing more reflective pieces like the one above on the prayer blog ( and on the Unite Facebook page.  I will still occasionally feature them in newsletters, but the newsletters will be shorter and present more of an overview of the month (with some exceptions).  If you like this idea or dislike this idea, please email me at and let me know your thoughts.  As always, thanks for reading and may God bless!