Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bungy Jumping

Our team went to Queenstown for two days last week. If you have ever seen the Lord of the Rings, this is where most of the mountain scenes come from. It is the extreme sports capital of the world, and is also the place where bungy jumping was invented. I have always been the kind of guy who loves getting an adrenaline rush from things like that so I decided to go bungy jumping with a few of my friends...  I have been bungy jumping before, and it was the scariest thing I have ever done... this bungy was 4 1/2 times higher than the one I did previously, making it in the top three highest bungees in the world and New Zealands highest. 

The name of the bungy was Nevis. The platform was suspended between two very tall mountains... We had to ride a gondola to get to the jumping platform. You jump, then fall for nine seconds, ( it doesn't seem like a long time, but look at your watch for nine seconds... that's a long fall) 440 ft down towards a rocky river then bounce back up. It was terrifying! 

The night before the excursion I sat on my bed trying to imagine what it would be like jumping of a ledge and then free falling for 440 ft. I wondered if I would be able to throw myself off that ledge. Then I realized the spiritual implications of a bungy. The Christian life is like bungy jumping in so many ways. 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life...” Matthew 16 :24-26

As Christians we are called to have faith and believe in Christ for our salvation. When I was about to bungy jump, everything in my flesh told me not to jump. My flesh would say,” no that's a stupid idea... it will be scary, and you might get hurt or even die”. But I had to have faith in that bungy cord in the same way that I have faith in Christ. If I jump in a spiritual sense outside of my will and into his, then my life, though uncomfortable, will be so much more fulfilling... and in the bungies case, thrilling. I had to die to myself and all my fears or worries and jump. It might sound cheesy, but if you have ever heard of a leap of faith, this is a good example. To be a Christian seems silly to most people... to jump off a ledge that's 440 ft above rocks seems silly too... without faith it would be silly. We as humans may be able to conjure up  faith in a bungy cord on our own, but only the Lord can give you true faith that leads to repentance. 

Before the Jump

Me right after I jumped off the platform


A Shot from the mountain. This picture doesnt show how long the drop is. Below me are mountains, and a river.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Swine 09

For the past week I have been sick... with what you might ask.. I am not totally sure... but I have a feeling that it was the swine. It might be the weirdest sickness I have ever had... and now I have developed a sinus infection. Don't worry I will be fine, but please pray that I will get better soon. I really want to be able to get on campus this week. I got some antibiotics today so hopefully that will help. Sorry this is a short post, but I didn't really do much but sleep this week. Sweet as...

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Furnace Burns

The theme of our time here in New Zealand  is boldness... To be bold with the gospel of Christ. But it seems that I have adopted a different theme. One of the things that I have been praying for quite some time is that God would help me to be humble. Where I may seem like a fairly humble person on the surface it is not so in my heart... at least not apart from constantly catching myself in the midst of prideful thoughts and prideful motives. 

I read a verse in 2 Cor this morning and as I thought about it I became broken over my sin.

“And even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this age (satan) has blinded the hearts of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.(This next part is what hit me) For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake.” 2 Cor 4: 3-5

For us as Christians to be able to proclaim “not ourselves” but Christ, we can not be wrapped up in ourselves at all, but only in Christ. In my pride I often convince my self that  Richie is more important than Christ. With this unspoken thought in the back of my mind I go onto the campus of Otago and try to build relationships with students... and I make contacts and get phone numbers just like my team mates, but if I dig down deeply into my heart I must confess that I didn't love those students for Christ sake and for the sake of the kingdom, but for the glory of Richie. You could reword the verse to in 2 Cor to better fit my thoughts if it said: 

For what we proclaim ( at least in my heart) is not Jesus, but Richie Lisenby as Lord, with Jesus as your servant for Richie’s sake.’ 

So many times in ministry I end up doing it for the glory of me, not the glory of God. Even when my motives seem pure and I really and truly feel broken for people and long for them to know the Lord, somehow a Richie centered thought creeps into my mind... “I must be a pretty Godly person to care about these people I don't even know.” It makes me realize  how warped my view of God’s kingdom is... You don't realize how wrapped up in yourself you are until your summer job is loving people. I am  glad that God is breaking me of my selfishness and of my pride... but its definitely not fun. 

But the great thing is that even in my sin... my pride and selfish motives, God can still work for the good of His kingdom. He can do a mighty work through a week jar of clay like me. 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Rugby Day

As you all know I am a small person. Small person + Rugby = Broken Person. On Saturday I joined the rugby team of Selwyn College, which is one of the dorms at the university. If you are unaware, the best way to describe rugby is American football without any pads. I only got the ball twice, and each time it was less that two seconds until I was tackled by a HUGE man. Although I could here my body crunch when I hit the ground I survived and was able to make some friends in the process. Please pray for the guys that we are meeting in Selwyn college. Also pray that I don't die playing rugby... really I'm not kidding...

That is me on the ground...
(below) I am the one on the end... facing the Asian guy

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

hip to the hop

Yesterday was an exciting day because I finally got to see exactly what kind of ministry I will be doing. I am taking a class on hip hop dance and a break dancing class to build relationships with people, and I joined a rugby team that is run by one of the dorms. I also joined Japan club... I am really looking forward to see what God will do this summer through these classes. I am constantly reminded how great God is. Yesterday, Jeff and I (my ministry partner) were walking around campus ( keep in mind that we don't know anyone here) and we were supposed to go "build relationships." I don't know about you, but I think that just walking up to people is a little strange and we didn't know how to just meet people in a campus of 25000 students. So we sat down and prayed that God would bring us to someone from a specific dorm and that they would let us be on their rugby team. About 15 minutes after we prayed we met a guy who was more than enthusiastic about getting us on his rugby team. It was so cool!

Last night at about 9:20 there was an earthquake here. I thought it was awesome but apparently the US news is saying that it will cause a tsunami. Dont believe it... we are fine and there is nothing to worry about. I can see the water from most places in this city and it has not started rising yet. Thanks for the concern though!

Its a little overwhelming to make friends with random strangers all day every day. Please pray that our team would be able to build relationships with ease and that we would be able to clearly share the gospel with them in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tropical Rain Forest? far from it... everything stays green even in the winter
The road closed sign on our way to Wellington.

Sheep I have discovered are very dumb creatures...
Some of the hills outside of Christ Church

They do get a little cold here I'm not going to lie.

Most of your team. There are students from 7 different universitys.
My first look at New Zealand.

I wrote this post over a week ago...but I had no internet


I have been in New Zealand now for about 4 or 5 days... I am really not sure how long to tell you the truth. The semester begins next week at the University of Otago and so we have one week to get adjusted to your new time zone (which is 17 hours ahead) and learn a little about Kiwi culture. The first two nights we stayed with a host family in the city of Christ Church before driving down to Dunedin. The weather here is cold... maybe not that much colder than an alabama winter, but there is usually not much heating in the houses... this is what makes it seem so cold. Usually I can see my breath inside the house. This makes for a chilly night and a very chilly shower experience. I was so thankful for the electric blanket in my bed at the host families house. 

Two days ago we left for the city of Wellington (the home of the first ever bungi jump in world). The drive should have taken about 8 hours... its not that long of a distance, but we had to drive through the Southern Alps. We drove about 4 hours and then it started snowing... 5 hours and it was a winter wonderland... 5 and a half hours, it was a blizzard. The next thing we knew there was a sign saying road closed... we had to find a new route. If we went ahead to Wellington we might have gotten stuck in the snow and even if had made it, the forecast said that we would have been snowed in Wellington for almost four days. So our guide (a kiwi university student named Amy) brought us to stay at her families house south of Dunedin. It just so happened that her family owns a christian youth summer camp that was vacant so we have had a place to stay these last few days while the snow storm subsides in Wellington. 

Today I slept while everyone was taking their showers... It was a bad move... its about 35 degrees outside... I would guess its about 50 inside... and the hot water ran out. I therefor took the coldest shower of my life. It was COLD! I cant even describe to you how it felt. My whole body was numb. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Nineteen days and counting till I leave for New Zealand. I am currently out of school and staying at my parents house in Dothan where I have nothing better to do than constantly think about leaving for New Zealand. Some days I wish I were leaving sooner, but I hope to utilize this time to really prepare for a hard summer. I want to get all the fresh bread of the word I can while am here so as to fill my heart to the brim  that I may overflow once in NZ. This has been hard to do at home away from most of my strong christian friends. 

I recently went down to the beach to visit my friends who are at summer beach project. It was so refreshing to get to see how God has been working in their hearts. I am unable to describe how good it was to worship with my friends after the month that I have been on summer break and taking summer classes. There was a beauty in this worship that was rare. .. such that I longed for heaven more than ever. Light is always more beautiful in darkness. Summer break for me has been shrouded in darkness and therefore the light that I met during that worship was exquisite. I think its bizarre that in Christ we will never cease to experience more, for God is infinite in all aspects of his being. This fact is staggering! To see light so beautiful is worth traveling through darkness.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Monestary

“Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul.” - Thomas Merton

In early January two friends and I  traveled to Kentucky to stay (5 days) at the oldest Trappist Monastery in the United States... “The Abby of Gethsemani.”  Several months before that my roommate and I were talking about how it would be so much fun to just take some time off after school and use it to read, pray and meditate. When we joked around about turning our house into a monastery after we graduate, a friend who was in the room said, “You know, there is a monastery in Kentucky.” This is where it all began. As we researched more about Gethsemani we found out that guests could come and stay at the mosastary for a small donation and act like a monk for a few days. They call this their silent retreat. Each retreatant gets a room to himself in the monastery. In this room there is a twin size bed, a desk, and a bathroom (if you stay in the nice building). 

Silence takes some getting used to. As soon as you step foot on the walkway leading to the door there is a sign that says “Silence Beyond this Point.”  As you walk into the lobby a monk greets you and gives you your room key. Its is some what of a peculiar feeling to say goodbye to the world and hello to solitude... even if it is only for s few days. 

The first 24 hours was the hardest. I went to my room and sat down in the chair... I didn't know what to do with myself.  I had five days devoted solely to meeting with God. I opened the window that looked out into a courtyard and sat in the window seal and journaled for a while and then went to bed. Sleeping was not at all scheduled for those five days. Three hours of sleep at a time is how worked... I dont know why, but it just happened that way. When I would wake up I took a stroll down to the kitchen and grab a bite to eat (the monks are vegetarians!) and then spend some time in prayer. 

The monastery has countless acres of land outside of the walls. The land is beautiful and covered in trails and lakes where you can walk (in silence ofcourse) and enjoy just spending time in reverence for God; enjoying and worshiping  him. It snowed while I was there which made it even more quiet. I really feel like the silence helped to renew my soul. There is a point a which you are silent for long enough that all thoughts of the outside world cease. When this happens all you can see is God and your own sin. In this state you must deal with the sins that you have put off for a while... because if you dont deal with the sin (which is the only thought in you mind) you cant truly rest in the presence of the Lord.

My time at Gethsemani was great and I will definitely be going back sometime in the next year. There are so many things that can be found from just being quite and still before God and listening to what the spirit might be saying.