"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Saturday, January 30, 2010


We all need to have a little distraction now and again. It is very sad, I know, but we had been looking forward to this "Way Out West" mystery party for weeks. Brian was a trusty ranch hand and I played the part of the young "good-time girl." It was a really fun night!
I guess it was just fun to pretend to be someone else for awhile and get dressed up and not think about anything too much. And laugh a lot too!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I have a job interview today. It is only the second time (I think) that I have had an interview. Am I nervous? I’d be lying if I said no. It is a new experience for me. So yeah, I’m a little nervous. I see it as a two way interview. They are looking to see if I am a good fit for their company and I am interviewing them to see if I think that I can do the job. I don’t want the job if I don’t think I can do it. Right now I am just grateful to have an interview. There are many out there I know that would like just that much. So we will see how it goes. There are questions I have for them about the job and I still have the consulting job that is still in the wind so I will have to see how that may fit. Most jobs out there are looking for someone who has experience and the only way to get experience is to get a job in that field. So it is often a catch-22, so when the opportunity comes it is a good idea to take it. But no matter what it will be something to pray about and get some counsel on. That really is the only way to make life decisions.
In the last post the question was asked, is the answer still yes? And for me right now I would lean towards “no”. Yes, I said no. It is where I am at. I am extremely gun shy when it comes to things of ministry. Yet Kelly has noticed that when I am in those settings I become very comfortable and things seem to flow. I don’t know why. When I am not thinking about it and it happens it seems to be a natural outpouring. Maybe it is where I am supposed to be. But I still have some big struggles with self-confidence. It comes from the feelings of failure from some of the lies told. I know they are lies but they still affect you. They still get inside your head and they become a daily battle. And instead of dealing with them you/I try and drown them out by occupying my time with other things. I am not saying that is all bad but a time comes when you have to face things and deal with them. Mine is I gave someone too much power (not God) and their words were like a knife in my heart. And it doesn’t matter how much everyone else encourages you, you still hear those words that cut you up and down. You retreat into yourself to protect yourself; it becomes hard at times to be honest with those closest to you (Kelly) because you don’t want to be honest with yourself. You want to believe that you are stronger than you are, that this “stuff” doesn’t really affect you when it does. So what do you do, the worse thing possible: You lie to yourself.

Monday, January 25, 2010

is the answer still "yes"???

Is it time to go back to the question? What was the question? The big question: “will you obey Me?”. And we answered “yes”, without even knowing the specific question. The new question I guess is, “did you REALLY mean it? Are you still willing to obey WHATEVER it is I ask?”
Wow. That one seems a little harder to answer right now. Of course I want to and do say YES, OF COURSE I MEANT IT!!! And I would do it again! But, what if I am really ASKED to do it (anything) again? Walking it out…a whole other question. Will what I say, be what I do?
So what is this all about? As you all know, we are life in limbo. Waiting, waiting, waiting for God to tell us what to do next, to provide the next light in the doorway we are to walk in to. We are praying, so are you. And what is happening? So far five different ministry opportunities have popped up. One was a definite no-go, one we started looking into, and three we haven’t done too much with. Why? If we are asking and God is showing, what are we to do? I said before we were at least looking into all possibilities. But are we REALLY looking? Or is it just curiosity, platitudes? Are we looking with the idea that we will say yes and KEEP walking through doors until the end? I don’t know. I don’t think we are.
It’s understandable of course. We were hurt bad. There is fear, there is apprehension. But…have we let that fear become sin and let it paralyzed us?
We’ve been told to not think about doing ministry for a year. Is there something magic about a year? I don’t know. I’ve learned enough though, to know that God’s timetable isn’t the same as ours. Is a year the “safe” number? I don’t know, I am just asking.
A few things hold us (me) back. One is the thought of raising support again. Ugh. That is just a tough thing to do. While there are many who gladly and faithfully supported us and would again, there are often more rejections than partnerships. That’s just part of it, but it can be emotionally hard to deal with. But God was faithful the first time, would He not be the again? Especially if He is the one behind it? In Malachi God tells us to TEST Him with money. I have heard this, not sure if I have it right, but money is really the only area where God invites us to test Him, tells us to. So if we were to have to raise support, would He not provide? Most if not all of our supporters supported US because of us, not necessarily the project. So would they support US again?
But how do you go back and ask someone, convince someone that now THIS is where God called us? We were so convinced before, how can we be convinced again? It looks to the outside world like we were WRONG. We have come to accept that yes, we were called to Zambia before, for that project, for what we ended up DOING, not the original plan WE had. We accepted GOD’S call, and thus fulfilled GOD’S plan for us, not our own. We know that, and believe it, but will others?
And while we know all that, we can’t help but feel like failures. We said we were going to do “x, y and z” but we didn’t. We did God’s “a, b and c”. But our self-confidence is still gone, like really gone. It affects all areas of our lives.
So I guess I am wondering two things. Do all these ministry opportunities come up to:

-distract us, get us too busy, put us in a position we aren’t ready for-is this from the enemy?
-is this God asking us, putting opportunities up for us to have to CHOSE to TRUST Him again? Will God show us anything HERE (in the US) before we are again willing to go THERE (wherever that may be)?

Which is it? How can we know? Are we just so tired of being in limbo land we are looking for ANYTHING that looks like a step forward? Is this just enemy placing forks in the road to get us to step off the path? Or are ours and your prayers being answered by opportunities brought to us? We aren’t actively seeking them out.
So how do we even start? We need to PRAY. But not just pray because that is what we are suppose to do. We need to pray and know that whatever it is God asks, the answer is YES. Otherwise, why pray about it?
Will you pray with us in this direction? That we will once again be willing to answer yes, whatever the question may be. There is a Third Day song that says:

Please take from me my life, when I don’t have the strength, to give it away to you Jesus.

We don’t have the strength right now to do it on our own. We need Jesus. And maybe, no-I know, that is where we are supposed to be.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haven’t had too much to say lately. Not a lot of motivation to do…anything. Living in “limbo-life” really affects your whole attitude and just everything. We’ve even mentioned not blogging anymore…there is just nothing going on. But don’t worry, we will :-) They may just be a little further in-between right now. We still have a lot of posts written that need to be edited and put up. Maybe we’ll get to them now, but then again, I think I have said that before…
So what is going on? We are starting to meet with a small group on Friday nights. We are all looking for community. We are not planning to do a book just to do a book/bible study. We hope to be intentional about talking time to get to know each other and where we are at and what we are feeling and then be able to minister to each other wherever it is needed at the time. It will involve prayer nights, fellowship nights, and studying together, usually a topic taken out of our times of prayer.
Brian is still (somewhat) going to a Thursday morning study on character and I started our women’s bible study. I am studying Ephesians.
I am right now in the middle of the 7 day cabbage soup diet (google it if you don’t know it). One of my friends did it. I looked it up and read the soup; hmm, looks familiar. Looks like what we basically ate for the four months the summer teams were with us last year. There are a few differences though. In Zambia we don’t add the celery and carrots and they don’t make it as a soup, there isn’t as much water. Oh yeah, and I didn’t bathe it in oil like the Zambians do! So I took the plunge and made up a few batches. While I won’t say I crave it, I do somewhat look forward to it each day. One of the recipes is definitely better than the other. All I am missing is the nshima (and yes, we REALLY did like it!). The kids aren’t doing it with me, but some of them are still eating the soup because they like it!
Brian went turned in an app and resume to a staffing place this week and there is definitely a lead or two showing up. They were going to send his info on to one of the potentional companies today. The consulting gig in Tanzania still looks like that is going forward as well. That is a “one-off” event as far as we know so he could still do both. Please keep praying for wisdom and discernment and provision as we try to figure out where we are to be in the next stage of our lives. If you picture a 12 inch ruler, we have always been that wide, if not over. Now it feels like our lives are only an inch or two. We’re in the stage of almost feeling like, this is it? This is all there is right now? We want more. We know we need downtime to process and get through some things too, but really, this is just icky and boring to be honest. So also pray that we would find things even right now that help us feel more fulfilled.
The speaker shared a few things at bible study this week that I have been thinking about.
-do I know my kids well enough to know exactly what they like? Where they would want to eat, what kind of foods they like? Simple and bigger things like that.
-she also shared about someone who was going through a big loss and just felt guilty because she wasn’t more devastated by it (my word, not hers, I can’t remember exactly how she said it). The speaker had suggested to this gal that maybe it was because so many people were praying for her and she was being sustained by the Lord. That just struck me. During our year in Zambia GOD SUSTAINED us through YOUR prayers. During our transition back here and all the whole mess that that entails, GOD SUSTAINED us through YOUR prayers. You will never know just how big of a role you have played in our lives. A role we can never adequately thank you for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

some fun family photos with our new dog

We had to take Grings back to the Humane Society. She began doing some very naughty doggy things that we just couldn't handle in a house that wasn't ours. And that's okay. :-)
When we brought her back there didn't seem to be anything we were interested in, but then we asked if there was "anything in the back" and that is where Shera was. She had just come in so hadn't been check out or anything. We decided to wait a few days and have her all checked out. I wasn't real sure, just 'cuz she is SOOO BIG!! But she just looked like this big teddy bear lovey dog. Brian wanted her, so that is who we came home with.
She really is a big teddy bear who wants to cuddle and climb in your lap. No one who cases the place and sees a 120 lb Rottweiler is going to stay around too long, so Brian feels better that way.

Not really sure what this was all about... (that is Henry)

Friday, January 15, 2010

money stuff

There are so many people that are having financial problems right now and sadly for many the first thing to get cut from the budget is giving to God (the church). Some may say, but I am giving my time or my talent. So what? Where your money is/goes so there is your heart also. You want to get out of debt? TITHE (which means give your money). A tithe is an amount of 10% according to some scholars. It is a good starting point, NOT an ending point. You should start at 10% and see where you can go from there. You can never out give God. Take a look at your check book and see where your money goes. Or if you have a budget (which you should) what is in the giving column compared to the rest of your expenses? Do you only give if there is some left over? Our Father calls us to give of our FIRST fruits, not what is left over, if any. You are not giving what is yours anyway; you are giving back what is already HIS. I am sure some (maybe quite a few) will say “but I am in debt up to my eyeballs”. Well I gotta ask, did God put you there or did you do it? Why punish Him for your mistakes? And the Truth is, you are not punishing Him, you are only hurting yourself. I have heard some say, “I’ll start giving when I get ahead”. And the truth is, NO you won’t. Why? Because money is your god. If you are not willing to commit yourself and your finances to your Father when things are tough you certainly are not going to if things get better. This is a matter of the heart and nothing less. We have personally seen our Father provide and multiply in ways that I cannot even explain. We look back and wonder, how was that possible? And the fact is, it was not us. It was our FATHER, His blessing. I am not a health and wealth prosperity kind of guy. Personally I think that stuff is a lot of crap. The idea that “if you do this God will do this”, there is no truth in that. God does not promise that. Christ promised a life of persecution and suffering, which does not sound like health and wealth to me. We can still have Joy but that does not mean a fat billfold. It might mean living from paycheck to paycheck, not having a big retirement account. Those of us who have put our faith in Jesus Christ, we have a heavenly Father (aka: a good Dad) who loves his kids and HE takes care of them. He expects us to be responsible, to be good stewards of what HE has given, whether a lot or a little, it matters not. Like any good father, he wants his kids to enjoy life. HE provided it, so it only makes sense that He wants you to enjoy it. But enjoy it while loving HIM and serving HIM. You will only experience real joy by doing that. So love HIM by showing HIM (and others) that everything belongs to HIM. That is a testimony that we all should strive for.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


What is a church? Who is it for? We say the church is a body of believers. If this is so, what should we do about non-believers who attend church? Should they? If they do, are we supposed to be worried about offending them? Isn’t there a verse that says we are an offense to those who don’t believe? Aren’t we supposed to be so different that we offend them? Yet there is something in that offense that is attractive, something they desire, but don’t know what it is. Are we supposed to cater to them? Just be so happy they decided to come? What is happening to our churches because of the influence they are bringing in? Are we letting the enemy in our door? That sounds harsher than it really is, I just can’t think of another way to put it. If a non-believer wants to be a part of your church, but what you do offends him (and what you are doing is scripturally sound, etc), should you change for him? Compromise just so he will stay so you can get him saved? Is church supposed to be used for outreach or as an outreach? Or is it supposed to be used for believers to gather together for teaching, rebuking, correcting, training, and the building up of the body of believers for the outreach they are to be doing the rest of the week? Is a church supposed to be everything to everyone, saved and unsaved, just keep them coming in the door? Awhile back we had the “seeker-sensitive movement”. What did that do for the church? Did it strengthen it or hinder it/soften it? What happens when a church hits “it hard”-takes a hard line on sin, preaches the Word, and delves deep into God? That’s right-attendance usually goes down, and with it, the offering. Often we have so many “programs” we need to fund (often to get the non-believers into the church) that we water down the message so the money keeps coming, but then what is the use/depth of the message they are getting? Is it worth it?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

understanding culture

To be able to minister in another culture you must be able to understand that culture. (And let’s face it, there are plenty of different cultures right where you are-you don’t have to go outside of your own hometown often to find different cultures. But this is more related to other geographical location cultures.) How do you do that? Reading about it is a good place to start to begin to learn about another culture. Talking to others that live in the culture (or have lived) full-time is an excellent way. From there experiencing it yourself is the next step. I am not really talking about the 2 week mission trip. They are fine; I see the good and bad in them. (another post for another time) But on those trips, you do not get a realistic picture of what the culture is really like. You run from one place to another doing “ministry”, and the nationals you spend a lot of time with put on a good show for you. I’ve seen the show put on for several months and as soon as the westerners leave, things change. To a large degree we have created this culture. How do I mean? We have created an entitlement culture. It is bad enough that we have done it over here, now we have gone and done it over there. A lot of Zambians believe the government is supposed to take care of their needs (fertilizer for farming, good prices for their crops and more). They often see missionaries and other ex-pats as an ATM. The 2 week-ers feel bad because they have “more” then the national. Wrong perception! Many of the nationals do just fine without our handouts. Or they say the national does not make enough because he is only making $3 a day. Wrong perception again! $3 a day out in the bush is an excellent wage. You can screw up a local economy very quickly if you decide that they should be making more in line of the Westerners. You must work within their parameters- not ours here in the west. Zambians grow up thinking that personal comfort is a privilege and not a right, whereas Americans are brought up to believe the opposite.
I have seen a great deal of damage done by those that have meant well because they assumed they knew and understood the culture. {this is not necessarily just about our experiences-some of this has come through talks with other missionaries.} Can you imagine how much fun it is for the full time missionary to have to try pick up the pieces after a team leaves? And of course the team has no idea that they have done any damage, they just feel good because they “helped” someone (often it is more about them than the nationals). From what I have seen or heard there is very little training done for those who go on a “summer team”. There is a term that someone coined “the 2 week expert”. It is someone that comes in thinking they are going to solve all the problems of an area in 2 weeks. They mean well but they have little or no understanding of the culture. And the problems they are going to solve have been there for centuries and they are not going to fix it in 2 weeks. They typically do not understand why the missionary there does not do it (their way) and can be critical of that missionary. All you have to do is “this.” The 2 week-er does not understand the culture; their perception might very well be correct, but they do not understand that as soon as you leave they are just going to go back and do it the way they always have. You may think that sounds fatalistic, and maybe it is but it is also true. It is not fair to the national to expect them to do it (anything) in a western way. If you want it done in a western way, have a westerner do it.
You might say that that is a good reason to support nationals and not the western missionary. Support the national missionary so that the Westerner doesn’t come in and try to do things the Western way. (Well, if you believe that that is all a Western missionary does, you don’t know how most missionary agencies are set up. Most go to where the people are and learn and study and become a part of THEIR culture, so their knowledge can be passed onto the nationals in a culturally relevant way. There are many missionaries out there who don’t necessarily plant churches. They are out there training church leaders and helping with oversight of existing churches) I have to mildly disagree based on my own experiences and what I have heard from other missionaries on the field. I am not saying that we should not help people, we should. I am not saying one way or the other if you should or should not support national missionaries. Just asking questions. The first question that needs to be asked, is it Biblical? Remember, it is not about you and if it makes you feel good. Is it Biblical? Who should support your local pastor, you or someone else? If you are not because you chose not to or cannot, should someone else from outside your local church do it? Are you robbing that church and its pastor of the joy of seeing God provide (through themselves?). There are good arguments to why one should. But is it Biblical? That is and should be the bottom line. To further it though, does it matter if it is Biblical? Is it wrong to “help” someone out? We give to charities and other causes here in the States, is it wrong to do it around the world? If it is not specifically Biblical, when does it become Unbiblical? This is another area where you need to understand the culture. As you write your check, you think you are giving a support gift, something to help someone out. But in their culture…they see it as a paycheck, their church sees it as a paycheck so they don’t even have to support the pastor (and they could, they have nice church buildings, sound systems, etc). In fact, we have seen it become a status symbol. You can tell who has help and who does not. Most of the pastors are still going to have their own farms or other jobs even with your gift (or I should say their wives are going to keep farming. That could also be another post. One of our other missionary friends also wrote about it on his blog. During his training he found it was the men’s job to sit and visit while the woman did the work. We saw this too. It was much easier to teach the woman about agriculture than the men, they were willing to try new things. The men usually did the plowing, but the women did the planting, fertilizing, hoeing, and harvesting. Anything we tried to teach the men wasn’t passed on to the women; we had to go directly to them if we wanted to suggest they try something new. I always thought it odd that the men acted like they knew everything there was about the farming when they didn’t even do the work, so how did they know?!). It is just a bonus. Which in a way, is what you are giving them, but do they think of it that way? (disclaimer-we are not singling out any one agency. There are numerous agencies that do preacher sponsorships, Gospel for Asia, Final Frontiers, our former agency; do a google search and find more. There is another kind that supports the national church planter until the church is going and established. Then the support switches over to the church. Then the church planter goes out to start another church before his support starts again. So we have seen and know many organizations that do gifts directly to the national.) I have seen on both sides of the ocean pastors that do what they do because they were called by GOD and they do it no matter the hardships, they do it because they love Christ and I have also see that there are some that are just in it for the money. Often in Africa, as well as many other countries, they blend Christianity and local pagan religions into a perverted form of religion and they see nothing wrong with it. All too often culture supersedes scripture instead of scripture superseding culture. We all do that because change is hard. And going against the flow of culture can be very isolating. The hard part is standing firm on what is solid scripture and being able to bend in the other areas of the culture (a GREAT book to read is “Bruchko” by Bruce Olson on his work with the Motoline Indians). The waters often get rather murky at times. The key is to know scripture, not just read it. It is studying it in context and then understanding it and then applying it. I think that a lot of believers (including myself) are rather illiterate when it comes to scripture. It is human nature to add a bunch of rules that are not there and then ignore the ones that are there.
In Africa I was told that if you drink alcohol you can NOT be a Christian, if you smoke you can NOT be a Christian; but they see no problem going to a witchdoctor.
It is okay to call on a spirit of divination to find water.
If something is left outside it is okay to take it, it is not considered stealing. It is not stealing if you don’t get caught.
Lying is accepted and expected. (We have friends who have a list of about 30 culturally acceptable lies in Zambia) It is not lying if it helps you survive or if you benefit from it or if it is what I think you want to hear.
Balancing the books and keeping close tabs on the money is considered being stingy and it is frowned upon if a national is doing it.
If someone says “maybe” to something it means yes. There where may occasions that a part-timer said that they “might do something, or they would try” and it was seen and heard as -it was going to happen. Then I had to come back and explain. They see the westerners as people who do not keep their word.
Do you see where this is going? These are things the part-timer does not know. But the full-timer does. But if the full-timer is not listened to (which is often the case) things can and do get very frustrating for the full-timer. Often the full-timer has all the responsibility but no authority. That just does not work. To try and run a business from a distance (here in the States) often does not work all that well. Then, try and do it cross-culturally where the Leadership often doesn’t understand the culture themselves because the show is always put on for them. You need to either be there or you need to give the authority to the one who is there, that is just the reality of it. In our discussions with other missionaries, it was very sad to see that there was only one where its missionaries really felt like they had the say and it was the Home Office who had their back; not the Home office giving the orders and the missionaries don’t have much of a say, even if they know it won’t work or whatever. I am not saying that you don’t need oversight, but the full-time people on the field really need to be listened to.
So should you not do short term trips? Not to give another post away, but to end this one. Yes, short term trips can still be good. Just do your research before you go! Email your missionary or someone in country or who has been in the country before you go. Go with the idea of ASSISTING the missionary in their work; not coming to solve problems. Find out what and where they are already working so they don’t have to come up with a project just for you. Listen to what the missionaries on the field tell you, don’t think you know better. Strive for better understanding once you are there so you know how more effectively you can pray when you get back. Oops, better stop or there goes another post…
I guess this post is really going in a lot of different directions! Here is a quote from “Bruchko.” (It is now on the “recommended reading list”). He says, “My experience with the Motilone Indians has taught me how to deal with other cultures; how to promote positive change without tearing social structures apart at the seams. I try to share these things. But the most important thing that I can say to those who want to help primitive people is this: They will not be helped very much unless they find purpose in life through Jesus Christ. Without Him whatever development takes place always will be twisted or corrupted. It will embitter those who try to hold it together, and those who don’t care about it will be ruined by apathy and alienation.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” Philippians 1:29

“Two gifts of God most don't want. Faith: Because we want to cause it ourselves. Suffering: Because it hurts.”—John Piper

Friday, January 8, 2010


We could both really use your prayers right now. We are both struggling with some things. Truth be known, I don’t even know what it is I feel like I am struggling with. I just am. In between me trying to “deal” and Brian dealing, there are seven kids and a house and a life to deal with.
I feel like I am in the desert, sitting right on the edge of the oasis; not a mirage, the real thing. I am enjoying the rain that splashes over to me sometimes, and I am so close that I will occasionally stick my arm in there and get a drip of refreshment. But for some reason, I don’t go in. Why? Do I feel like I am not “bad enough off” yet? Or is it just the thought of getting up and plunging in is too much work? I know the benefits of it; I know and see what is happening as I don’t, but I still don’t. I am too tired to. The thought of getting up just makes me tired. Has the load gotten comfortable? No, it’s a pain in the butt, but now it’s there and oh well? I want someone else to fix it all up, but I can’t expect that if I won’t even do anything about it myself. Time to lace up those boot straps and start pulling.
And why in the world would I be telling you this? Admitting to the whole wide world that I am depressed and life just is blah, blah, blah. Maybe this is my first real bout of the winter blahs after being in the sun for over a year and a half. I remember Lori being almost horrified when I told her that someone had told me they were upside down on their mortgage. She just couldn’t believe that we would ever talk about stuff like that. I guess that is one good thing about our generation-we’re pretty transparent. Or maybe it’s not so good, ‘cuz we sometimes talk about things like they are no big deal and they really are.
Anyway, I am telling you because as usual, I (we) could use your prayers. I sometimes feel hypocritical that I am encouraging someone about something, when I don’t seem to be taking my own advice. But then I am thankful that the Lord is who He is, His Word doesn’t return void, and His working doesn’t depend on me and what I feel. I also tell you because part of our mission has become being real to whoever needs and wants to read it (you). Our pastor has said numerous times “you Christians lied to me. You told me when I asked Jesus into my life everything becomes wonderful…”
We don’t want to lie to you. We want you to see that the Christian life is hard-full of trials, full of griefs and sorrows. That’s how we become more like Christ. Nobody likes to hear that part of it. But the Christian life is full of joys too. We aren’t dismissing that; but you can read about that anywhere. Ask anybody how they are, what’s new and they will tell you all the great or just okay things of life. Nobody says I am struggling ‘cuz nobody really, really wants to hear it, do they?
There’s that community that everyone longs for again. We all LONG to tell someone, anyone the truth about where we really are, but we don’t want to take the time to develop the community to be able to do that in. We want to encourage you to become real to and with your own body of believers and see what the Lord will do. Will it be easy? NO. Will you get hurt? At some point, probably. Is it worth it? YES.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Right is right, even if everyone is against it
wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.
-Shelly on FB (don't know where she got it)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The feeling of community is something that everyone longs for. It is imbedded inside each one of us. It has been placed there by God. And it is so incredibility hard to attain. Do you know what I am talking about? Many do not. They long for something but do not exactly know what, so they look any and everywhere. It is something we have discussed at length in my small group for years. The last time it was in the context of discussing Paul’s letter regarding slaves. I have seen on many occasions criticism aimed at missionaries for having “house help” or such. People here in the west, particularly in the north, somehow they see it as a modern form of slavery. It is sad, because it is often the furthest from the truth. If anything it fosters community. How you wonder? In our experience with the people we had work for us, they were employees but they were also family. In the west that is hard to understand because we view things in an employee/employer context. There your employee becomes part of your family. His/her family is a part of your extended family. Their problems become your problems. Community becomes an outpouring of the culture. When you go to church and worship with your employee they are family not just a worker. You know what is going on in their life and their families’ lives. Your care for them does not end at 5pm Monday thru Friday. Over there in a church people see each other as family; over here we have a church of individuals that worship together. That is a big difference, one that causes a tremendous amount of isolation. We as a culture are just too busy to invest the kind of time and energy it takes to build community. It is also dangerous, because for community to happen you have to become vulnerable, open yourself up to others. And that is hard, especially if you have not done it before, if it is not the way you were raised. The Church was designed to be a “community” of believers. That community would show the love of Christ to each other and make itself attractive to the rest of the world. Instead the rest of the world sees very little different between the church and the world. We focus so much on outreach, when the main outreach needs to be within the walls of the church not outside. I think if we were doing the things we should be doing (creating community) a lot of the outside world would be knocking on the doors to get in. Why do a lot of people go to bars? Join gangs? Join cults? They desire a sense of community. Why do people try to escape by doing drugs (whether illegal or prescription)? They are trying to escape the pain they feel and a lot of that is loneliness and self-hate (I know what I am talking about, I have been there, done that, got the tee-shirt). They do not know what it is like to have people around them that genuinely care about them. That is community, what the church is to be, what it was designed to be. The question is: do you want it? Are you willing to work for it? Are you willing to sacrifice for it? Or do you want to go it alone? Or are you too busy to do what it takes? Do you really want it? Then go about doing it-quit talking and start doing it.
We have had and do have that community with a group of our dearest friends. Even when we have each gone our separate ways for various things, all it takes is a few minutes, and that community is there again, just like that. It doesn’t matter how long it has been, it’s there. Kelly and one of the gals have had some “discussions” that would have destroyed just about anyone else’s friendship, but not them. In the middle of one of them we went to their house for supper and laughed for hours like nothing was going on. It’s hard for people to understand. Why? Because of community. Community is time with each other, talking, laughing, living. It is calling each other to the mat on areas in our lives that we’d rather ignore or keep hush-hush. It is being a family. Family with a common bond. You can have great friendships with non-believers and you should, but there is just something about the spiritual bond of believers in Christ, being in community.

Friday, January 1, 2010


How long do you submit to an authority when you believe what they are doing is wrong? What a question-especially in America today! I won’t say they name, but I heard a world-renowned man might have said (I don’t have the info so don’t want to put it in writing yet) he and his wife may have to move out of the country…or go to jail because they can’t pay their taxes if the money will go for federally funded abortions. Wow-that’s a stand. But really, how long do you submit?
We submit ourselves to Christ. He is the ONLY PERFECT authority.
We submit ourselves to church leadership. But I think of the things you may disagree with-music, preaching style, etc, etc. Do you have a duty to express your heart? But once you do, if it doesn’t hinder your faith and integrity (you just don’t personally like it), you choose whether or not to stay with them or not. You may choose to stay under that authority.
You submit to your boss at work. But, if they do something you see as unethical, what do you do? If you don’t say anything, there is a chance you would be implicated, or at least viewed as approving of the situation. What if you do say something? Yup, 99% of the time YOU are the one who suffers and may even lose your job. Brenda would say, “I am not going to prophesy, I am promising…” But at least your personal integrity is intact, and I think God will bless you for it in the long run.
If we know that Christ is our only perfect authority how are we to view how we place ourselves under earthly authority? The Bible says that those in authority will answer for more (sorry I don't have the verse), but that doesn’t just excuse you. So how far do you stay under that authority when their decisions affect you? Or they don’t affect you on the outside, but inwardly they make your spirit ache because your name and reputation are attached? Do you stay silent so as not to be labeled as rebellious (or as they say in Africa-have the sin of witchcraft)?