Got a minute?

’cause if you do, I’d like to share a couple of neat opportunities with you…

When I went overseas, I had about 11 weeks to find enough folks to commit to giving about $1,200 a month for at least a year while I was gone. Once I had been gone for a couple of months, a good bit of my support dropped off. I ended up having to watch my finances very carefully, and I still spent a lot of my own money.

The day I got home, I pretty much had nothing in the bank, and I actually owed some money to cover travel expenses for getting home.

Missionaries shouldn’t have to deal with that.

Fast-forward to today: God is good and He takes care of me. Steph and I are ironing out some financial rinkles and God is teaching us in the process. But I want to introduce you to three friends who are now in the shoes I was in a couple of years ago:

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1) Meet Tricia and Matt. Tricia is my sister from another mother. She was with me in Uzbekistan, and is one of the awesome-est (yes, I just made that a word) people you’ll ever meet. Since we’ve been back, she and Matt got married and started a life together.

In a couple of weeks, they will be moving to Thailand to spread the Gospel. They will earn their place in the culture by teaching english to elementary school students at this school. Once they arrive in the country, their expenses will be paid as part of their teaching positions, but they are responsible to cover all of their travel expenses, which will be several thousand dollars.

Up until now, Tricia has been working at a church, and Matt has been working part-time while going to seminary. This is another way of saying, “These kids have been living on a string and a couple thousand dollars doesn’t come easy.” If everyone who looked at this blog yesterday gave 20 bucks, we could pay for their whole trip. Please pray about it and let me know if you wanna help!

Continue reading

Reconciling the beatitudes with being American

I was reading in Luke 6 this morning. After Jesus pronounces His ‘blesseds’, He pronounces His ‘woes’:

24(AS) “But woe to you who are rich,(AT) for you(AU) have received your consolation.

25“Woe to you who are full now, for(AV) you shall be hungry.

“Woe to(AW) you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”

And I asked myself, “What’s fundamentally wrong with being rich?”

And I responded (to myself), “Because all rich people know some poor people, and that means that they are withholding their riches at the cost of their friends’ comfort and provision.”

And then I thought, “Well, most people seem to agree that all Americans are pretty much rich by the rest of the world’s standards. So, who are the poor people that we know?”

And then I thought, “Well, pretty much the rest of the world.”

And that’s kind of funny

…for about 5 seconds.

And then it’s disturbing and overwhelming.

I’m typing this on a computer that cost more than many people will make in the next 5 years.

What kind of steward am I being?

What kind of steward are you being?

A quick thought

This morning, on the way to work, I heard a short interview with a guy from Iraq.

He was really excited because this is the first wekk in at least four years when he feels comfortable leaving his wife and kids at home while he goes out to do something.

Hmmm…

Kind of puts my day in perspective…

What’s your brand?

I came across this today.

I like the idea of it, because we often wear our faith as a brand — as if we’re in the ‘christian fish ‘ club, and that makes us better than people in the ‘Buddha’ club or the ‘Rainbow’ club or the ‘Liberal’ club…

And what’s heartbreaking about that is that many of us wear that ‘christian’ brand as the extent of our faith… it doesn’t go any farther than a bumper sticker and a trip to church every week (the club meeting) — and when that’s the case, it usually leads to the judgmental attitude that christians are often known for.

But…

I do choose to wear a brand. I am branded by Jesus. He is my Creator, my Author, my Artist. He created me and branded me with His name. Then He pursued me, ransomed me, and signed me with His blood. His brand on me means that I am the least of the least in this world. I am nothing. I am called to be a fool. I am called to love to a degree that is impossible in human power. I am called to be compassionate, and to look up to everyone — from my knees — because I’ve seen the cross, and I know Who is was that gave His life there… and I know He did it because of my junk.

The Jesus brand means that I am adopted as a child of the Most High.

It means that I am not home yet.

It means that YOU are my neighbor, and I am responsible for your well-being.

It means that I have a purpose.

Am I in the small-c ‘christian’ club? Not the way most people think of it.

But I gladly wear a brand: Jesus Christ

Perspective From “Voice of the Martyrs”

I have my default webpage on my personal computer set to “Voice of the Martyrs“. I do this for two reasons:

1 – I need to see this page on a regular basis

2 – I probably wouldn’t navigate there very much if it didn’t come up every time I open my web browser.

Why wouldn’t I go there? Because it can be depressing. They have a little news feed right on the homepage with updates about missionaries being persecuted around the world.

It doesn’t give me the quick, fun distraction of a silly blogpost somewhere. It doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy feeling I get by checking out the latest series by a pastor. It doesn’t give me the self-righteous indignation I tend to fall victim to when I read the news about how messed up our world is.

It just makes me sad.

But it also helps me remember.

It helps me remember that this world is temporary.

And Jesus has overcome the world.

And He left me with a mission.

And it has nothing to do with my bank account or the size of my TV or the number hits I’m getting on my blog.

And that gets me excited.

Here’s the headline I clicked on this morning:

CHINA – Children Arrested for Attending Bible Study
March 3, 2008
On February 28, 11 children and two adults were detained by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials while attending a house church Bible study in Qingshuihe township, Xinjiang province.

According to China Aid Association (CAA), “PSB officials disrupted the gathering and detained the minors along with Ms. Fu Jun, 41, owner of the house and Ms. Lu Lanxiang, 42. The children, aged, between 16 – 17 years of age, were brought to the Qingshuihe township PSB office in freezing weather and were not allowed to bring adequate clothing.”

The report added that CAA had confirmed PSB officials had imprisoned the believers under the charge of “illegal religious gathering;” their wellbeing was unknown and their families had been denied visitation.

Christians in China remain faithful despite the Chinese Communist government’s increased persecution leading up to the Olympics later this summer. The Voice of the Martyrs supports believers in China with medical costs, Christmas Care packs for Sunday school children and literature to strengthen believers spiritually. Pray for these courageous children and adults as their faith is tested. Ask God to encourage and protect them. Pray He gives them grace to forgive their persecutors and for the Holy Spirit to draw them into fellowship with Him.

Take five minutes and pray for this situation with me…

In Case You Think You’re Having A Bad Day

I’ll bet this isn’t how you got to work.

(ht: Justin Taylor)

“Belief” by John Mayer

I love listening to music while I work. I find that what usually happens is that, even though there are like 15gb of music on my work computer, I get in the mood for something particular, and I’ll listen to one artist or album for a good chunk of time, rather than just shuffling through everything.

One album that I’ve listened to a LOT lately is John Mayer’s newest album, Continuum. One particular song on the album is absolute genius. It might be the best secular song writing I’ve heard from my own generation. The song is called ‘Belief’ (iTunes link). 

The heart of the song seems focussed on war vs peace and finding common ground. But what really strikes me about the song is how it applies to faith. Part of the chorus says, “Everyone believes. From emptiness to everything.” The idea seems closely tied to the reality that everyone worships something, though not necessary the one true God.

Have a look at the lyrics and let me know what you think:

Is there anyone who
Ever remembers changing there mind from
The paint on a sign?
Is there anyone who really recalls
Ever breaking rank at all
For something someone yelled real loud one time Continue reading