WESS Weekend #3

We arrived at WESS this past weekend just as the rain began to let up, allowing enough time to unpack our gear and also take some pictures of the most spectacular cloud formation I have ever seen!

The rest of the night went well…wet, but well. In the morning, the largest group yet showed up for the prayer meeting at 5:30…although two very dedicated Georgia cadets woke up at 3:30 (forgetting about the recent time change and different time zone.  🙂  ). Over the next hour, cadets shared their testimonies of how they had come to know Christ and how their relationship with God has been growing. What a beautiful time it turned out to be! Over the course of the meeting, I began to realize what an impact having a relationship with God can make on a person’s life. Knowing He is real is one thing, but experiencing His love, His peace, and His joy, is something else. The entire base had a scheduled power outage about the time everyone had finished their testimonies, but several cadets grabbed flashlights out of their gear and the meeting continued.  Cadets shared afterthoughts, comments, and analogies of the points other cadets had made that impacted them and expounded on their experiences throughout their walk with Christ. The atmosphere that surrounded our meeting reminded me of the scripture that says, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them.” Although He is with us everywhere, His presence seems that much stronger when His children come together to share of their love for Him.

After the prayer meeting, my battle buddy and I headed for our class and learned more about search patterns and plotting the search patterns on sectional charts. After lunch, we headed out to the airport and flew for about an hour and a half. Since I did not have to work the radio this time, I focused on looking out the window and practicing search techniques. Later in the day, I had the chance to give the sortie debrief for our flight and observe how the sortie is logged into our sortie management program.

Besides going to WESS itself, another huge blessing I had was the opportunity to fly back home! The pilot flew an IFR flight (Instrument Flight Rules…so he can fly in conditions where instruments are required.) which was my first time flying IFR in a non-commercial aircraft. I learned that there is no better way to learn to use the instruments than when you are in the middle of a cloud! The clouds were breathtakingly beautiful, so much so that if heaven were really just walking around on clouds for eternity (which it is not), then I would want it to look like it did on that flight. 🙂  I had an outstanding flight to Huntsville, however, the descent turned out to be more than I had planned. Unexpectedly, my left ear refused to equalize during descent which resulted in a lot of pain. It turns out that I have an infection in my left ear…either as a result of my ear not equalizing or the cause of the ear not equalizing. While this will not effect my flying in any way, it is on the extreme end of uncomfortable and it is my prayer that it will not be a continuing issue.

Regarding my atheist friend whom I had hoped to speak with this week, there ended up not being a time that seemed appropriate to bring up the topic. Throughout the weekend I looked for opportunities to start a conversation, but the timing never was right. Although I did not get to speak with him this week, I will continue to study the evidence for Jesus Christ and hope that God will bring about the opportunity to speak with him in the near future.

To sum it up, the third weekend of WESS was a great experience. Each weekend brings about new experiences and more opportunities to learn more about my God, emergency services, and aviation. Looking forward to next time!

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Did Jesus Christ Really Exist?

As a Christian, the answer may seem pretty obvious. Even most people who are not Christians acknowledge that Jesus once lived and was in fact a historical person. However, during a discussion I had last month with my atheist friend, he stated that Jesus never existed. This was a new claim I had never considered before. As a Christian, I know that Jesus is real through His Holy Spirit, which I experience all the time…leading, guiding, and answering prayers in ways that pure chance will never explain. Yet I had never really considered what evidence there is for Jesus Christ outside what I experience subjectively in my own life. While I vaguely remembered hearing examples of evidence for Jesus’ existence in the past, my friend’s statement motivated me to search for myself to find out if there is truly evidence for Jesus Christ in history. The conclusion of my research? Absolutely!

First, Jesus is proven through the gospels. While many people claim that the gospels were written by crazy, unintelligent fishermen and filled with myths, this is disproved by examining their writings.

  1. Their writings were written in sober, meaningful accounts that included details which would be unnecessary and embarrassing if they did not have a purpose. Some examples are: 1. The inclusion of women as witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. (During the time and place of the gospel writings, the witness of women were considered invalid.) 2. The virgin birth. (This would be considered impossible.) 3. Jesus weeping at the news of Lazareths’ death. (Showing that he was human and had emotions.) 4. Jesus’ death on the cross. (The death of one’s leader, especially by such humiliating punishment, would put shame on those who followed him.) Each of these accounts would not have been included in a myth, yet not only one, but several writers affirmed these details and many other “unnecessary” details as fact
  2. The gospels were all written within 80 years after Jesus’ death and by people who had lived alongside him. (The first biography of Alexander the Great was written 400 years after his death.) Historians agree that 80 years is way to little of a time for a myth to have been cultivated and spread so fast, especially since it typically takes several generations to come to the point of popular exception.
  3. More than 5,000 Greek New Testament papyri manuscripts have been found to date and the only other ancient manuscript that even comes close to touching that number is Homer’s Iliad which has 650 Greek copies. Plus, it was written 1000 years before the writings of the New Testament which gave it even more time to grow and yet it did not even reach half of the amount the New Testament did.
  4. While it is a popular argument that the translations of the scriptures changed significantly over time, archaeological evidence and translation of the 5,000 Greek copies of the New Testament have shown that the text is 99.5% pure.

“In no other case is the interval of time between the composition of the book and the date of the earliest manuscripts so short as that in the New Testament.”

-Sir Frederic Kenyon (Former director of the British Museum and author of The Paleography of Greek Papyri.)

Second, Jesus is written about by several other historians and writers besides those included in the Bible including: Julius Africanus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Flavius Josephus, Lucian of Samosata, Tacitus and also a possible reference by the philosopher Mara Bar Serapion. This excludes the gospels and also Gnostic writings such as The Apocryphon of John, The Treatise on Resurrection, and the Gospel of Thomas.

While most of these writers did not believe in Jesus as God’s Son, they did believe in Jesus as a historical figure and several affirm the events that happened in Jesus’ time such as the census, crucifixion of Jesus, and the disappearing of the body.

In fact, we can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic”, led Israel into new teachings and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed, worshiping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).

-GotQuestions.org

An important question to ask could also be why other religions and people who opposed Jesus and the Christians did not rise up and deny the very existence of Jesus if he wasn’t real? For example, the Jewish Talmud talks about Jesus and how His teachings were incorrect. If the Jews hated Jesus so much, why did they just not discredit His very existence? Maybe because He did exist. Imagine how ridiculous a racist would sound if he said Nelson Mandela never existed? People would call him crazy because everyone knows that he was a real person and just because the racist does not like Nelson Mandela does not make Nelson Mandela any less of a historical person than he is.

This study provided me with plenty of examples to show that Jesus Christ is a real historical person. However, one of the articles I read gave the reminder that “We can’t prove absolutely that Jesus existed, but we can give sufficient evidence…It’s up to the person to decide whether or not to accept or reject the evidence.” It is my hope and prayer that God will provide me an opportunity to share this evidence with my atheist friend. I earnestly pray that he will accept the evidence or at least even reconsider his conclusion that Jesus Christ never existed and begin reexamining the evidence. Please join me in praying that God will be present throughout any discussions we have and that His promise will be fulfilled:

“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

Weekly Prayer Request

Hello Friends! This week, please pray that God will guide me as I study about the historical evidence for Jesus Christ and that He will give me a spirit of boldness to proclaim the truth in love. My goal is to begin reading The Case For Christ and Evidence That Demands a Verdict which I hear are right along the lines of what I am looking for. Lately, I have been reading Lee Stroble’s book, The Case For Faith, which is very thought-provoking and deals with several barriers that keep us from putting our trust in Him. I imagine that The Case For Christ will be likewise as convincing. Do any of you have recommendations for other books that discuss the historical evidence for Jesus? If you do, feel free to leave a comment below.

Thank you for lifting this request up to our Heavenly Father! Also, thank you to those of you who have provided financial support for this mission over the past week! It means a lot to me and to our heavenly Father!

 

WESS Weekend #2

It has been another amazing weekend at the Wing Emergency Services School! Everyone stayed safe, had fun, and I even got to fly!

After preparing our flight plans Saturday morning, we headed out to the airport. This was my first time observing a flight plan being created…so that was pretty neat! Each crew had three people on board: a pilot, an observer, and a scanner. The observer and I practiced fueling the aircraft (first time for me) and running a preflight. I’m not going to lie…fueling an aircraft for the first time can be stressful. 🙂 But by the time I finished fueling the second wing I had gained a measure of confidence that I previously lacked. After refueling, we were ready for takeoff. Or so we thought. Sadly, just as we prepared to crank the engine, another pilot came out and informed us that the man at the weather station had just advised us to wait another hour. What a bummer! Thankfully though, 60 minutes later the clouds had lifted and we took off. We flew for about an hour and a half. During the flight I practiced scanning techniques, keeping a log, and also operated the radio for reporting to WESS Mission Base. I also tested out the new aviation headset that my parents bought for my birthday. They turned out to be the most comfortable headset I have ever worn and they worked wonderfully! This flight included many “firsts” in my aviation journey. It was my first experience with fueling an aircraft, working air to ground communications in an airplane, and being a part of the flight planning and weather briefings. I learned a great deal!

I have a prayer request for you all as well. I had the opportunity to speak with an atheist who is a fellow aircrew member about Christianity. As a result, I am studying historical evidence for Jesus Christ (something he says does not exist) so that I will be prepared to give proof for His existence next time this topic comes up. Please pray for me as I study this topic and also for this person, that he will seek to find the truth and that the truth will set him free. Thank you!

Over the course of the weekend, I heard rumor that there might be some night flying opportunities in the next few months! Can’t wait! Stay tuned to hear more.

 

Stop Praying Easy Prayers

The past few days I have been reading in Acts. What a better way to learn about missions than studying the lives of the very first missionaries themselves? In preparation for a short bible lesson I will be giving this weekend, I decided to take one of the key verses that stood out to me in Acts and turn it into a challenge. The challenge is this: Stop praying easy prayers. Let me explain.
I was reading Acts chapter 4 the other day, and as I reached verse 31, I just had to stop. The previous verses had narrarated a prayer by the apostles after they had been thrown into jail and then threatened to stop proclaiming the words of Jesus Christ. The prayer goes like this:
“O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples devise futile things? ‘The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ.’ For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.  And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
Well, when I made it to the end, I just had to stop because I had been expecting a very important line in the prayer…that wasn’t there! After re-reading it, I paused in awe. After being put in jail and threatened, not once did they pray for safety or protection! Their only request was for confidence in speaking His word, His healing, and for signs and wonders. It hit me that that their chief motive was to win hearts for Jesus and if they had to suffer or die to achieve that goal, it was fine by them. One of the last words Jesus spoke to them before He ascended into heaven was that He would be with them to the end of the earth. They knew that whatever happened, whether suffering or comfort, it was His will, so whether it was His plan for them to go to prison or escape, live or die, they knew they could trust Him. Their example really inspired me to examine my prayers. Is my desire for comfort hindering my opportunity to reach lost people with the Good News of Jesus Christ? So the challenge I have is this: Instead of praying the easy prayer of comfort and safety when sharing the news of Jesus, may I be willing to give up everything for the goal which is more important…the salvation of those who are lost. And when those trials come, may I have the same boldness Peter and John had to say, “We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Weekly Prayer Request

It is my hope to start a weekly prayer request post where my spiritual support partners can begin lifting up this mission and myself to our Heavenly Father. Will you join this mission in becoming a spiritual support partner? I long to know that you will! Above all else, I desire to lift up this goal to God because I know that He “inhabits the praises of His people”, and I earnestly want Him to be a part of every piece of this dream. So here is my prayer request for this week:

Please pray that our Creator will spread the news of this mission to many people, and that they will be encouraged and inspired to fulfill the great commission as well.

Thank you SO very much for your prayers! It means a lot to me to know that fellow believers and approaching God to intercede on behalf of this mission!

P.S. If you are committing to be a weekly prayer partner, feel free to drop a comment below letting me know!

WESS Weekend #1 in Review

Two weeks ago I attended the Mission Aircrew course as part of my Emergency Services work in the Civil Air Patrol. Sadly, it consisted of all on-the-ground work…so no flying…but I learned a great deal. Despite the snow, sleet, slicing wind, and freezing temperatures, I had a wonderful time! To my great joy, I finally mastered how to plot latitude and longitude on a sectional chart! (It has been a struggle for me ever since I tried to learn it last summer.) Besides learning how to use the sectional charts, we practiced running pre-flight inspections for the airplanes, filling out logs and forms for various items, basic radio communications, and best practices in searching for missing persons or aircraft “off field landings” (aka “crashes”). My battle buddy at WESS is a super sweet homeschooled girl from Georgia. We shared several laughs and encouraged each other throughout the weekend. I also met several friends from previous CAP activities and made a few new friends as well.

I also would like to share a little praise report that happened on Sunday morning of the training weekend. In spite of much sleep deprivation, my sisters and a friend of ours planned to wake up early Sunday morning before classes to hold a quick prayer meeting. My courageous 12 year old brother heard about it and took it a step farther by announcing the prayer meeting to his entire barracks and encouraging them to attend. Around 4:30 that morning, 5 sleepy boys walked into the prayer meeting…and the planned prayer group doubled in size from 5 to 10 cadets. The cadets spent about 10 minutes in prayer, each pouring out their heart to God for safety over the day’s activities and strength for each of their own fears. It was a moving time and I am so blessed to have such a godly brother who is not ashamed of our Lord!

Well, a great weekend of outstanding training has gone by…and a new one is soon to come! Please continue to pray for my family who is attending WESS this year; that God will give us strength, wisdom, and courage to complete the missions assigned to us and even more importantly, to not be afraid to let our lights shine and share the gospel of salvation to a dark world. Thank you!

Quote of the weekend:

WESS Director: “Hopefully  it will warm up next weekend so we can go out and hit the woods for some more training.” 

Aircrew Lead: “Uh…you mean the ground teams. Not hitting the woods is Aircrew’s goal!”

 

 

 

 

One of Those Mornings

Yes, it’s one of those mornings. I’m sure we’ve all had them. We wake up and feel so terribly out-of-touch with our Maker. The morning drags on and on and on and there is this crazy gnawing feeling in your stomach that something’s not right. For me, there’s just so much to do in life right now: school, chores, preparing for the Mission Scanner course this weekend (yippee!), that it seems like there’s no time for anything else. As soon as my eyes open in the morning, it’s all Go! Go! Go! Yet the day seems so incomplete without spending time in His presence. Looking at the glass half full, I only lasted a couple hours until breaking down and getting my priorities lined back up. But looking at the glass half empty, I wasted several hours this morning trying to accomplish tasks without having God’s joy in my heart and His Word on my mind. Yes, I am a sinner. This morning was a prime example. However, I am reminded of a line from one of our family’s favorite audio dramas: “The path of the righteous is not determined by the fall, but by the rising after the fall.” Finally, I ignored the cries of my earthly body reminding me over and over again of my Saturday to-do list, and sat down to meet with my Creator. The issue of poor time management so that I could meet with Him when life is busy greatly pained me as I met in His presence. As I sat there, God reminded me of the movie War Room, and how Miss Clara had challenged Elizabeth to create a “battle plan” for her prayer life. It clicked that perhaps I too should create a battle plan for my mornings. On a notecard I jotted down six ideas to help me be in God’s presence before I even step foot out of bed in the morning. As much as I dislike putting my Christian walk on a to-do list, it is true that sometimes I just need it written out and in list format…until I am strong enough to complete the goal without the notecard prompt. It is my hope that Yahweh will give me the strength to passionately accomplish the goals on the notecard every morning, so that I have Him on my heart and mind first thing.

  1. Pray and repent for any sins. (Either sitting up or kneeling beside the bed…so I don’t fall asleep.)
  2. Give thanks to God.
  3. Pray Psalm 3 (Currently, I am working on memorizing it.)
  4. Listen for direction from God.
  5. Put on a good attitude and plan how I will overcome the struggles ahead through God’s Word.
  6. Thank Him again.

So this is my “battle plan” for beginning my mornings with my mind on the things of the Spirit. This goal is my “rising after the fall”, so to speak. Once I complete the list, I spend more time in God’s word, pray, and write in my journal. After getting up from my Bible study, I truly felt ready to make the most of my day. What is impossible if God is with us? I will probably say this for the rest of my life, but it never ceases to amaze me how forgiving God is, that we can fall so many times, yet He quickly grants us mercy when we repent.  His love is overwhelming!

Indeed, my morning started as “one of those mornings”, but the rest of my day was a cup running over with blessings. It’s late in the afternoon now, still several hours ahead of me, yet much has already been accomplished…worked on school plus I completed a school subject (hooray!), wrote an outline for a short film, and lost quadruple foosball (foosball, but with four balls) to my 7 year old brother, among many other things. As the time ticks by I am reminded of a verse from Matthew:

 

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

CAP Aircrew School

 

This month I will be attending a course in Civil Air Patrol, earning the Mission Scanner rating! A Mission Scanner is the first rating one receives to become an Aircrew member on CAP missions. In the case of a real life mission, my primary job would be to visually watch the ground below in search for the crash site or person of interest. Besides searching, my job includes planning for the mission, checking the equipment on board, assisting in setting up and operating radios and navigation equipment. I’ll be attending this course one weekend each month for the next five months. Last year, I took the Basic Ground Search and Rescue course…so I am super excited that I will not be sleeping in makeshift shelters with the spiders this year! 😀 Can’t wait to be up in the air learning how to assist my fellow CAP members in saving lives! Stay tuned for photos and stories to come!

MS