Burnout For Jesus

I felt a call to be a missionary when I was 17yrs old. It started with a concert put on by an organization called Operation Mobilization. I read a book written by the guy leading the organization (George Verwer) and I started filling out an application to join them. It was part way through the application that my heart sunk right to the floor…

They wanted to know if I’d ever struggled with depression.

Bummer. I had and I did.

At that point I actually allowed the question to stop me from moving forward. I can’t remember if I thought I might ‘get better’ and be able to apply later on or if I just lost hope in fulfilling this great calling.

Four years later I went to Bible college for a year because I thought maybe this would be the preparation that I needed to finally become a missionary. Unfortunately, I didn’t do very well academically. The only class that I passed the second semester of my freshman year was Christian Missions. It was in that Christian Missions class that I began to understand a little bit more about what missions might actually mean… but it was a strange lesson. A few books I read informed me about the experience of past missionaries; From Jerusalem to Iryin Jaya, Bruchko, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, and a book that pertains to ministry, A Man Called Peter. There were others, but these are the ones that stick out to me…. Continue reading “Burnout For Jesus”

With Feeling

Every once in a while I imagine I can reach higher than I’m meant to on my own.

Yesterday in worship we were singing something about God’s glory coming down to us. Sometimes I worry that what we’re all looking for is just a feeling… just the power and not the person. So I was praying something really spiritual to God about wanting what he wants more than I want to have an experience… I want his real presence more than I want to just feel something. Maybe that’s not all that spiritual, but it was heartfelt enough.

Usually when I ask God for something I will automatically picture what it could look like for him to answer ‘yes’ to my prayer. Sometimes the picture I get causes me to modify my prayer.
And so as I pictured what it could look like to not feel God’s presence or experience him somehow with my senses, I realized that although it could prove I had a lot of faith, it would require a lot of grace from him to live that way. I’m just human and I am strongly influenced by my emotions and experiences. The truth is I do want to feel God’s presence, I do want to know he is near with my senses and I do trust him when I don’t feel him.

We love you God! Thank you for loving us. You know better than we do what we need! Help us to know you better today.

What to Expect

Without planning it, my room decor and bedding all match. I noticed this as soon as I cleaned up a little.

Maybe there will be surprises like this around other corners.

It’s not that I put a lot of stock in the much anticipated new year. They happen with increasing frequency. What I do put stock in is God’s character, which I have recently discovered to be wild, deep, loving and fearless. I want to be like him, sure, but more than that I want to just keep seeing him more and more. And somehow the year ahead feels like a clean canvas upon which he will paint something beautiful…. Continue reading “What to Expect”

The Unknown God

This post was birthed in the last, but when I finished writing this bit I realized it deserved its own place. Jumping off of thoughts about what might be next, I got caught up in what God is doing in the present to reveal himself.

I’ve discovered, while studying the Bible so in depth, that I have a lot to say. I can suddenly see my own context and the larger context of living… the things that make us human and human for a reason. The why of my existence along with the bigger why of existing for humanity. Not like a tidy religious package, as you might assume, but… well… It’s like Love, for example. Everyone has their perspective on love. When we spend too much time immersed in media and fake intimacy then we stop craving anything deeper,  so to others looking in on ‘media lovers’,  love looks cheap – because it is. It doesn’t cost anything. Others spend time learning that love is a list of rules, lines to not cross, words to not say and so their love might actually look like hate to others because ‘rule lovers’ have taken the idea of preferring the other person and turned it into correcting the other person. There are many other ways to look at love, my point isn’t to point out failures but to give an example of something really big that can be made small…. Continue reading “The Unknown God”

Future Tripping

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately. Not always a wise investment if it means skipping the present, but for a slow processor like myself, a certain amount of time spent in my head is necessary. I don’t think it negates trust or robs Being Present. Lately trying to avoid thoughts of the future have only made me cranky.

Last night I had a really disturbing dream. This huge eel was threatening to hurt me and then I did get hurt (although some other way) and I suddenly had this fountain of blood shooting out of my foot.  The blood looked like tomato soup. In fact, in the midst of my anxiety over the eel and the blood I thought, “Wow, they could use tomato soup for blood in movies. This looks so much like tomato soup.” I woke up while trying to squeeze the wound spot to make the blood/soup stop. BAM 5:30am and my toe, at the end of the bed, was pounding with my heartbeat.

What does this have to do with the future? I don’t know. Something threatening, a gushing wound. That tomato soup thing fits me, too because I do tend to have the most random thoughts whilst going through crisis…. Continue reading “Future Tripping”

Birds Have Nests

The simple definition of sojourner is “a temporary resident”. To me the word conjures up so much more.

As we were reading Exodus, I was moved by the command in 23:9 which says “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”  God is talking to people of Israel who had spent the last 400 years as slaves in Egypt. They were clearly not treated like honored guests there, but driven hard. They were oppressed, to be sure.

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Anytime, too that either Exodus or Leviticus talks about a Sabbath rest of any kind, it mentions the sojourner or the “alien” among them… Make sure they also get to rest. Any guest should be treated like family. Conversely in Leviticus 25 it talks about what you should do when your own brother is too poor to own his home or even “maintain himself” (vs. 35), you are to treat him like a sojourner- you won’t make him work for you like a slave, but treat him as an honored guest.

There is God, being funny again. Treat strangers like brothers and brothers like strangers. It actually makes so much sense, right?.. Continue reading “Birds Have Nests”

The Cryptic Apocalyptic

We’re studying Revelation this week. I’m taking a breather right now to digest what we’ve heard in class and read thus far.

Just as the book itself seems to depict layers of the same “event” and from different perspectives, I have had layers of reactions to it and tried to view it from different perspectives. For a book with so much potential to confuse, I love one of the opening statements…

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” Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” (1:3)

If you’re like me, you just don’t read Revelation ever… except maybe pieces. Over the years I have especially loved chapter 21 which talks about heaven. I have also loved the letters to the churches in the first 3 chapters because there are practical things in there I can relate to. Don’t be lukewarm in your faith, don’t give up, remember that enduring to the end leads to eternal reward… stuff like that…. Continue reading “The Cryptic Apocalyptic”

After the Storm

I did not end up having very much time alone during the break to read, but yesterday and today the perfect thing happened. I realized how much I needed to purposefully get alone and I found the perfect book to end this Week of Worry. A few weeks ago a guy came to teach in one of the schools here. I hadn’t met him, but there was quite a buzz about his presence here as he is well known and well loved by many. As a result of what I heard and then a story he told one night in a big group meeting, I was quite interested in his books.

What I picked up to read yesterday was his personal account of being imprisoned in Iran in 1997 for 9 weeks. This is not even close to the same as my current situation, but what was similar, which is impacting me right now, is God’s character throughout this man’s story. While he tells the story from his own eyes with humble honesty, what stands out is this mutual and deep love between him and God. What it is like to walk with God is so palpable and transparent and so completely my experience that it was almost as if I came to a friend and told them how I was struggling with worry and they told me their own story to remind me of the truth…. Continue reading “After the Storm”

His, Mine and Ours

In light of my last post, how things look when I try to do everything myself, I want to think through something we talked about in class the other day…

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (2 Peter 1:3-9)

It may sound like he’s saying that you have to create these qualities within yourself, but the word supplement is the same word he uses in verse 11 when it says  “For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
HIS divine power has granted us everything we need…. Continue reading “His, Mine and Ours”

Whole Hearted

Life, as a concept is much like a real human being. Blood and bone and muscles… gooey organs packed into a flesh container. It seems pretty precarious and complicated – how it functions, grows and then deteriorates. And so many things effect its processes.

There are positive equations- exercise, vegetables, sunshine, sleep. Friendship, hugs, worship of God, rest.
And negative, too- laziness, sugar, drugs, insomnia. Enemies, loneliness, self-centeredness, distraction.

We think if we just do enough of those positive things to tip the scales then life and body should be good. But there are always factors outside of our control.
And where does “inner peace” come from? Do you experience it? I know that I do and sometimes the distance between inner war and inner peace is merely shifting my focus. Sometimes it’s a matter of doing battle against whatever is coming against the peace. Sometimes I have to do battle with myself.

Where am I going with all of these random thoughts?… Continue reading “Whole Hearted”

Kingdom of the Heart (part 2)

Each week we have about 100 verses of Psalms as part of our assignment. I started way late yesterday and had just a little over an hour to get the Psalm assignment done. I was  bummed that I’d shoved this into such a tight space, because there is potential for the homework to actually be a really good time with God. So I did the out loud reading and  focused. I moved quickly but purposed to be present and take it all in.

This week we were to read Psalms 10-18. Of those Psalms, 18 is the longest. We’re supposed to read them all aloud, give them new titles, record what kind of Psalm each is and who wrote it and then do a “build” on one of the Psalms. The build is similar to the work we do for the rest of the books of the Bible in that we record observations, details, we interpret an observation and then do some personal application of that interpretation. Psalm 18 is, by far the longest. Clearly, I told myself, I would not be doing a “build” on that one.
But what do you know, that’s the one that impacted me the strongest as I read.

“I love you, O Lord, my strength.”…. Continue reading “Kingdom of the Heart (part 2)”

Kingdom of the Heart (part 1)

This has been a pretty intense week between Staff Conference and the book of Acts. I just barely got my work done and turned in on time, but pushing really hard all week (except for when I fell on my face Friday and struggled to regain motivation) was really worth it. Today I am really grateful and want to share two things I gleaned this week from the Bible. In two parts because it turns out to be a lot of words 🙂

Paul. I’ll be honest, in the past I have not been a big fan of the guy. I have often felt like there was no way I could uphold his standards. I mean, he went immediately from hard core persecuting Christians to proving that Jesus was the Christ in a very short space of time. He’s headed like a freight train in one direction, meets Jesus on the road to Damascus and BAM he’s headed the other way in an equally unstoppable manner.
There is something in Paul’s heart which encourages God to interrupt him and change his course. Paul heard Stephen’s beautiful speech (Acts 7) before the religious leaders killed him and maybe there was even something in Stephen’s face which deeply disturbed Paul. Maybe in his zeal for God he felt he was facing a powerful adversary and he himself needed to strike back with strength against whatever Stephen had. Until he met Stephen’s reason for preaching and realized that Jesus was actually the God he thought he was defending…. Continue reading “Kingdom of the Heart (part 1)”

Who do you say that I am?

I’m so impressed with Jesus.

Does that seem funny to say?

While reading the book of Mark several times now I have had a lot of thoughts- a lot of reactions which might be confusing if I write all of them down here.
The big thing that hit me at about the third reading is something a classmate expressed really well. She said, “the Jesus that we pray to? He’s the same guy we’re reading about right now.” For me it was more of a feeling or a kind of paradigm shift. Reading this “action” gospel, this telling of the ministry of Jesus which uses the word “immediately” so much as to be comical, I was suddenly reading a letter written by a friend about a friend. It stopped being a history book or even a “holy” book and became a first hand account of a man I know well. He is right here…. Continue reading “Who do you say that I am?”

The Meaning of Life

Continuing with thoughts from Perelandra… here is something I’ve been meaning to share for a few weeks. The way I have been spending my time has not lent itself much to reading and with school coming I must make time to read, but probably not this great book.

As you may know, Ransom spent the first book of the “space trilogy” on a planet called Malacandra- which we know as Mars. It is his and our introduction to  life on other planets. While he is there, he becomes close with a particular “tribe” of beings. He learns their language and their ways which serve to be part of the reason he is commissioned to take another trip in the second book…. Continue reading “The Meaning of Life”

Wake me up inside

Last night I watched the movie Amazing Grace with a few friends.
I heard about William Wilberforce during the school I did last fall on communications and I am again moved by his dedication to fight injustice… and keep fighting when it seemed too few were listening.

After the movie and while waiting for my laundry to dry I was thinking about this passionate abolitionist and, as

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usual, pondering what I will be when I grow up. I made some steps forward this week by letting go of some responsibilities that were not ‘the thing’  so that I can be freed up to for whatever ‘the thing’ might be. At the same time I have been totally exhausted and realizing that wherever I go I always end up having more people in my heart than I have energy to effectively walk with.
So I need boundaries and I need to stay really close to God who sees it all and knows for whom and how much I should be poured out…. Continue reading “Wake me up inside”