Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the year in review

Each time I get on the internet, my homepage shows, and there seems to be all sorts of end of the year articles these days reviewing "10 best films of 2009", "2009's worst scandals", "greatest sports moments of the year", etc., etc.. Before jumping into new year's resolutions for 2010, it's common for the media to help us look at the year in review.

A few years ago, a friend from church gave us a little self-assessment entitled, "10 Questions to ask to make sure you're still growing." I thought it would serve as a good self-awareness tool to help us do a year in review of our own lives. Here, at the end of 2009,

1. Are you more thirsty for God than ever before?
2. Are you more and more loving?
3. Are you more sensitive to and aware of God than ever before?
4. Are you governed more and more by God's Word?
5. Are you concerned more and more with the physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual needs of others?
6. Are you more and more concerned with the Church and the Kingdom of God?
7. Are the disciplines of the Christian life more and more important to you?
8. Are you more and more aware of your sin?
9. Are you more and more willing to forgive others?
10. Are you thinking more and more of heaven and of being with Jesus?

Am I more like Jesus than I was a year ago? How might I order my life in 2010 to give God access and permission for spiritual growth?

May God richly bless your life in 2010 with more of Himself in your life!

Monday, December 28, 2009

how do you read the Bible?

I'm curious to know how you determine what you'll read in the Bible from day to day. How do you decide? Do you have a plan?

I've approached this in a variety of ways. A few years ago, I read through cover to cover. Other times, I have spent one month in an OT book and the next month in one or two NT books. One year, I worked through a big ol' commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Sometimes I'll be reading a book that has several Scripture references that I'll look up and spend time with. Now and then, I will hear a speaker give a talk on a particular passage of Scripture, and it will prompt me to read through that book of the Bible. Lately, I've had the desire to read through Acts, so that is what I'm currently doing.

What I do know is that I have to be intentional. I can go periods where I'm reading a lot of other books and not reading the Bible much. God has prompted me to fast from time to time from other books just so that I'll get my nose back in the Bible. When I look back at my life, the times I've experienced God's power and His Spirit the most are when I'm immersed in His Word...soaking my soul in it. I need a huge and straight-up diet of His powerful, life-changing Word in my life.

How about you? How do you go about reading the Bible?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

beauty will rise

Steven Curtis Chapman's newest cd, "Beauty will Rise". Oh, wow. The entire cd is a litany of Chapman's personal psalms as he and his family grieved the tragic accident and death of their preschool-aged daughter, Maria, in May 2008. If you want an example of someone's faith journey through the dark night of the soul, this is an incredible testimony of one who is holding on to the goodness and faithfulness of God despite the circumstances. A beautiful testimony of someone grieving with hope. I listened to the whole cd four times straight through and read the cd jacket cover to cover. Chapman shares his experience in moving song and lyrics, and I believe it will be a source of comfort, hope, and strength for those who are lost in grief and seeking answers in the spiritual realm.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas at your house

I'm banking on the odds that my family does not read this blog much, so I can share that I plan to write little affirmation notes to stuff in each of their stockings this Christmas next to the Dilbert calendar we get for Mike each year and the annual Christmas ornaments that go in the kids' stockings. As I consider ways to celebrate Christmas in meaningful ways, I'm curious about you...

What is something you do to help keep Christ the center of Christmas and to help make the holiday more meaningful?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I was alone in my home last evening which is a rarity. So, what did I do? I addressed Christmas card envelopes and watched a movie on Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I found at the library. I was so amazed at how many times he could have chosen to save himself and self-protect, but every time he chose the sacrificial route for the greater good. And in every new environment he found himself, he was a presence of peace and wisdom, an aroma of Christ to everyone around him.

Toward the end of the movie, when the war is almost over, he finds himself able to go into a decimated church with 3 fellow prisoners, and he briefly gets to share his thoughts with them, saying,

"I've been thinking what Christ will mean in the future. We'll need a new form of Christianity in a time when the world has come of age. I think there's only one purpose of religion in a modern world where people must come and share each other's suffering and share the suffering of God in a Godless world. We'll need more than just religion in the former sense. We need faith and Jesus Christ at its center."

And then he was off to Flossenburg where he was hanged with less than a month until WW II was officially over. A doctor who witnessed his execution said that in all his years, he'd never seen someone walk so composed and bravely to his death, completely submissive to the will of God. A few other quotes from Bonhoeffer:

"To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ."

"To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only Him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us."

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christian Community Development in Action

I like to see concrete, tangible examples of Christian Community Development happening around urban centers. One such model can be found at Neighborhood Ministries in Phoenix, AZ. Check out NM at their website at

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Patterson 6

Ben and Liz just adopted four siblings from Poland...ages 5,4,3,2!
Merry Christmas from the Patterson Family
Wow, it's so good to be home!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family :)

Things are FANTASTIC for the Patterson Family. We made it home a-okay (although it was a wild adventure with the snow) and we've settled into home. The kids have been rockstars and have adjusted very well to everything. Now begins the wild streak of "doing everything for the first time" like going to church, visiting school, and flushing an American toilet. Craziness!

We cannot thank you enough for your love, support, and prayers throughout the entirety of this two year journey. The kids are an amazing gift to us and we are extremely grateful for all the blessings that have been heaped upon us. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Smile and enjoy the photos :) The kids love their Christmas sweaters! Please feel free to pass this message on and on and on and on. Merry Christmas, Jesus Loves You!!!

Ben, Liz, Claudia, Veronica, Miko, & Cooba

brokenness and grace

"Brokenness is a gift." This is something I told a good friend awhile back as I shared with her that every time I have experienced genuine brokenness, I am humbled, I receive a fresh wave of God's grace in my life, and I can more freely be a person who then offers grace to others. In fact, I sometimes pray for God to break me when I recognize a hardened heart within me and am experiencing difficulty loving or being a person of grace.

You gotta love a good spiritual friend in your life. Last night, my friend said to me, "I'm so glad you consider brokenness as a gift because I think you're going to need to experience that gift (in a particular relationship)." She laid out what I've already known intellectually for a time but find so difficult to live. It's difficult to genuinely think grace and actively extend grace in a relationship where there's been hurt. It's so much easier to know it and talk about it, and much easier to "assume" grace in a somewhat removed relationship, and it's so much more difficult for grace to be a daily reality in those close-to-us relationships. In writing this, I feel exposed as a schmuck and feel that I might be alone as "the one who suffers a severe grace deficiency." I do know better, however, that I am not alone in this challenge of grace. I also know that the remedy is a breaking of my heart that allows me a real encounter with God's unconditional love and grace poured out for me in Christ which then allows me to offer His love and grace to others. I am so aware how this "saved by grace" through Christ is both a "one time experience" and a "constantly needed new experience" in my life.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

John Perkins: Saturday Morning Bible Study: CCDA 2007 Video

John Perkins: Saturday Morning Bible Study: CCDA 2007 Video

If you've never seen or heard John Perkins, I invite you to click on the link above and listen to even the last 15 minutes of the video. You'll get just a taste of the man who founded CCDA and who is a prophetic voice in our world today.

If you'd like to see or hear more from Christian Community Development, you can go to and download or watch several keynote speakers from the past several years of CCDA conferences.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas gifts

The Wise Men brought Jesus three gifts at the manger; Jesus brought three gifts to us today with the names Marla, Sarah, and Maribeth. For seven straight years, these friends have been planning an annual Christmas craft fair that is a homerun every year. Today's Christmas craft fair was at Harvest Vineyard and was an array of young and old alike eating a pancake breakfast served by Harvest and making homemade Christmas gifts with materials set up by Orchard Hill. The morning brought volunteers and partners, smiles, introductions, and good conversation around tables. I believe I counted a dozen stations- hot chocolate, bath salts, earrings, pins, photos and photo frames, ornaments, Bible verses on an easel, cards and envelopes, and more. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning in this season of remembering the greatest gift of all, Jesus.

Christmas craft fair

Christmas craft fair at Harvest

Christmas craft fair

Christmas crafting at Harvest

Christmas craft photos

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cedar Valley Hospitality House

Joni Hansen saw a need and did something about it. She knew that our community's homeless often have no where to go throughout the daytime. They can get a meal at the Catholic Worker House and Salvation Army, but neither place allows for those without a home to be there during the day. Even the public library put a limit of an hour stay recently, as the library was finding people spending their entire days inside their walls, especially in cold weather.

At the end of October, Joni met with a few friends to share her burden and vision. Two weeks later, they had rented a house at 1003 Mulberry St. in Waterloo and began a 6 week effort to paint walls, get new carpet, and make the house look warm and inviting. This Tuesday, December 15, the Cedar Valley Hospitality House will open its doors from 9-4 each day of the week to offer day-time hospitality to those who are homeless in our area. People can get a warm cup of coffee, take a shower, wash their clothes, make local phone calls, go on-line. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, a light lunch will be prepared for guests.

George and Judy Marshall and myself went to the open house at 1003 Mulberry today. I met Joni and some others involved in the effort and got a tour of the Hospitality House. Joni mentioned her vision for this to be an inter-faith effort. The team is currently seeking volunteer hosts to staff the hospitality house each day during a morning shift from 9:00-12:30 or an afternoon shift from 12:30-4:00 p.m. There will always be two volunteer hosts each shift. If you're interested in volunteering, please contact Sue Dean at 236-0455 or Rose Quirk at 232-3177.

Global Missions Health Conference

Bonnie and Dennis Pruckler attended the GMHC last month, and Bonnie summarizes it as follows:

Where is God at work in the world and how can you be part of it?

"The Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC) has answered that question hundreds of different ways for thousands of different people over the past 12 years.

Attend the GMHC and you’ll hear stories of service to those in need.

You will learn about effective community change.

You can attend workshops about current field work best practices, and network with other people just like you.

You can share innovative ideas for health care professionals and students to use their medical skills to make more disciples of Christ in the United States and throughout the world.” This is a quote from the website on the Global Mission Health Conference.

The conference was held in Louisville, KY on Nov 12-14 this year. Next year it is scheduled for Nov. 11-13, 2010.

It was a joy to be with others passionate about using their medical skills for Jesus. Conference speakers were from many parts of the world. The two exhibit halls were a great source of information, books, and other materials.

The Global Missions Health Conference is a way to bring Christian healthcare professionals and students together to network with missions and ministry experts. More than 2,000 people attend. Anyone seeking opportunities in short-term and long-term medical missions or a medical missionary looking for partners, the conference gathers together Christians from all areas of health ministry around the world. It was a wonderful place to be inspired, learn, and network.

beauty in the day

There's some material that has been taught through the years at our church that addresses "pathways to God"....ways that we best connect with God day to day. Intellect, activism, contemplative, worship, community, nature, and I think there's one or two more. Nature is sure one of those pathways for me.

God's character and His heart for beauty and wholeness is never more clear to me than when I see that beauty in His creation. The new fallen blanket of snow and the bright blue sky above helps me to envision that "shalom" that God is about when everything is right and nothing is missing. What helps you connect with the heart of God day to day?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Love INC of the Cedar Valley

Well, thank you for reading this past week's posts about Love INC. I haven't been very successful in my attempts to elicit comments or conversation on this blog, but hopefully a few people are better informed or get food for thought from reading the posts.

How can you help with the Love INC of the Cedar Valley?

1. Pray. Pray for God's Spirit to move powerfully in this new endeavor. Pray for God to draw and call the future executive director in a very clear way. Pray for our community and for the churches within our community.

2. Help arrange venues for vision casting. Love INC is currently going about to churches and agencies in the Cedar Valley to cast the vision of Love INC. If you know a place that would like to hear more about Love INC, contact me, and I can help arrange someone from the Board to do just that.

3. Financial Support. Love INC is currently raising money to get off the ground operationally and to hire an executive director. Grants, organizations, and individuals are needed to invest in this important movement.

For more information about Love INC of the Cedar Valley, you can contact the Board through this blog or you may email me at

"The adventure of compassion is the journey for which you were made" - John Ortberg

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

some advantages of Love INC to churches

The literature I have about Love INC lists the following as advantages of Love INC to the churches in a community:

1. Helps generate untapped resources that already exist in local churches to meet needs both within and outside of the church.

2. Screens request for help as to nature, extent, and legitimacy.

3. Helps prevent church duplication of existing services already available in the community.

4. Discovers if those requesting assistance are already receiving help from other churches or agencies. The Love INC screening process ensures legitimate needs are met.

5. Provides long-term, self-help solutions for those who are chronically in need or have multiple needs.

6. Enables churches to assist those outside of their own congregation and be good stewards of church resources.

7. Helps prevent churches from building dependency in those they assist by discovering and solving problems at the root level.

8. Helps the church to “own” its ministry to those in need, since Love INC is a Clearinghouse to assist churches to reach out.

9. Helps provide specific, manageable opportunities for churches to reach out with God’s love to people in need.

10. Lessens the burden of any one church by increasing the use of volunteers to meet legitimate needs and rotating assistance among network churches. Love INC is cost-effective.

11. Offers a unified witness of God’s love to the community as Christian churches work together in the Name of Christ.

12. Offers a proven, replicable model that can be easily translated in new communities. Love INC has an established track record in cities of all sizes.

Any thoughts from you as you read through this list?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

life on life in Love INC

I spoke about Love INC at an area church on Sunday and showed a clip from a dvd that National Love INC provides their affiliates. The dvd shares two of a family being helped from the brink of bankruptcy by a Love INC network, and the second story of a woman who had a past of chemical addiction, had been helped through Love INC, and was now clean and serving full-time in a furniture ministry at a Love INC affiliate.

These stories showcase Love INC at its best. The first story had a wonderful testimony of a friendship built between a married couple and a Love INC volunteer who used his passion of accounting to help the family create a budget, hold them accountable, and coach them financially. More than that, the husband began to read the Gospel of John at the encouragement of their Love INC friend, and all would say that their relationship helped them grow spiritually.

So, as nice as it is that Love INC might be able to serve as a coordinating crossroads for someone's used living room furniture and someone who could use living room furniture, the ministry of Love INC will ultimately be as successful as the transforming relationships that will be built through it. Distribution of goods and services will not a transformed community make. We can already see that if we just look out at our community. It will be reconciled relationships between people and God (people finding their identities in Christ and their calling through Him) and between person and person that will restore a community to wholeness.

That's my prayer for Love INC..that Christian community would be built among those who enter into the ministry of Love INC so that all involved would experience the love of Christ in such a supernatural way that they give glory to our Father in Heaven.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

how Love INC functions

Love INC is developed to operate in a three-tiered model...

Level 1: Clearinghouse

The Clearinghouse is the foundation of Love INC. Love INC receives requests for help, screens the requests for extent of need and legitimacy, and refers the requests to a local church ministry, church volunteer, or community agency. Love INC follows up to ensure the need was met and to offer spiritual support. Through the Clearinghouse, Love INC also identifies gaps in services and resources in the community and helps churches develop ministries to "fill in the gaps" of needs not being met by government or agencies.

Level 2: Relational Ministry

Love INC helps individuals and families in chronic need make lasting changes in their lives. Through relational ministry, Love INC trains and links church members with people in need on a long-term basis to provide mentoring, goal setting, skills training, and spiritual and emotional support, along iwththe full array of services and resources available through the Love INC network.

Level 3: Comprehensive Community Development

Love INC goes even further to meet the needs of communities by addressing the deeper issues that contribute to poverty and hopelessness, such as lack of affordable housing and health care resources.

In your experience, what gaps in services and resources do you know of in our community?

Love INC Learnings

What did the Holland, Michigan Love INC learn as they began to minister in their community?

  1. Churches want to minister and reach out.
  2. Needs that are specific , manageable, and legitimate net the most effective results for volunteers and recipients alike.
  3. A consistent follow-up process helps church leaders, staff of community agencies, and those in need evaluate the helping process.
  4. Churches will work together when the shared focus is ministering to people instead of denominational affiliation, race, economic base, or location.
  5. More than money, the core of effective Christian ministry within the community is building relationships with people. Christian caring penetrates to the roots of people’s need for self-respect, confidence, living skills, friendship, and hope.
  6. Using the Love INC model to provide volunteer time, skills, and material resources costs a congregation and community far less than equivalent services provided through agencies.
  7. Pastors and agencies value the support of Love INC’s screening and placement services. Eliminates chronic over-users, non-legitimate requests, and unnecessary duplication of care options.
  8. Ministering to those in need is an integral element of evangelism.
Any thoughts, questions, or push backs from the learnings above?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Love INC History

"If we wish to see God, look at the point where a caring Christian intersects with a person in need." -Virgil Gulker, one of founders of the original Love INC

Love INC National History:
- The first Love INC was started in 1977 in Holland, Michigan, as a way to help the Church help people. It was formed to help the Church work together in unity to meet the needs of people in the community. From the beginning, Love INC has acted as a Clearinghouse to pool resources of time, talent, treasure of Christians and match them to the needs of people in their community.

- There are now 135 Love INC affiliates in 30 states. Love INC National is located in Minneapolis, MN. You can read more about each affiliate at

Love INC of the Cedar Valley History:
-Over the past five years, as churches united for Love Cedar Valley, a day in which churches gather to pray, serve, and worship together, friends caught a vision of what it looks like for the Church to come together in unity to reach out into the community in the love of Christ. Carolyn Cleair, a core team member of LCV, learned about Love INC and continued to feel nudged by the Holy Spirit to pursue it.
- A Development Committee was formed in fall 2008, and by July 2009, Love INC National came to Cedar Falls for the first training weekend.
- Currently, Love INC of the Cedar Valley has received its 501c3 status and has begun to form its Board of Directors. They are currently sharing the vision and raising support so that an executive director can be hired in the future.

There have been many times in which I've received a phone call from someone who has a washer, dryer, refrigerator, or some furniture to donate, but at that particular time I have had a hard time finding the need for that item. Sometimes the opposite happens, where it's difficult to find the something that a person has need of... I believe the Love INC Clearinghouse Model will begin to help to facilitate those matches more readily for people in the community. What do you hope Love INC will be able to provide for our community?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Inviting conversation about Love INC

Over the next seven days, I am going to blog about Love In the Name of Christ, and I'd like these blog posts to serve as not only information and an introduction to Love INC, but also as an invitation for comments, hopes and dreams, ideas, questions, or concerns from a cross-section of friends around the Cedar Valley.

To comment on a post, you must first sign in up in the upper-right hand corner of the screen. You may sign in and comment anonymously or identify yourself. Then, under each post, you can click on "comments" if you wish to make one. I thought this would be a good venue for discussion as the foundation for Love INC gets laid here in the Cedar Valley. Please join in the conversation!

Love INC ( is a Christian ministry that networks churches together to better serve those in need in our community. The mission of Love INC is to mobilize the Church to transform lives and communities In the Name of Christ.
Love INC is:
- a strategy to help churches help their neighbors in need.
- a network of churches that link volunteers to people in need.
-a cooperative effort between churches and service agencies to provide effective help for the disadvantaged.
-a vehicle that helps churches, collectively and individually, fulfill their biblical mandate to reach out to those in need.

For any of you who are already somewhat familiar with Love INC, how do you see it filling a need in the Cedar Valley?
For those of you who are relatively unfamiliar with Love INC, stay tuned over the next week...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

a new order

Will I order my life as if reconciliation and justice matter?

I've been pondering this question lately...considering the old world order of my life and the new kingdom order that I believe Jesus continues to call me into as his follower.

I ask questions like, if I really believe seeking reconciliation and justice are foundational and Scriptural mandates, how does my life reflect them? Do I believe all Christ-followers are called to reconciliation and justice (making things right), or do I believe that God only calls a select group to be about them? Do I largely continue on in my old world order and try to sprinkle a little reconciliation and justice work in on the side, or is God challenging me to consider how I've set up my life and what I could do to re-order it in such a way that the whole of my life reflects Christ's work of reconciliation and justice?

I think I'm getting why most missional material I'm reading these days, along with ccda components, hammer on relationships, relocation, incarnation, joining with. Without this lifestyle change, this re-ordering, the old world set-up will win out everytime in our schedules and priorities. Without the re-ordering, we end up keeping distance, and we generally don't reconcile or change the make-up of our circles very much. And when we end up keeping reconciliation at a distance, justice generally doesn't come about much.

I am aware that if I consider reconciliation and justice as "side dishes", then I will likely only get so far missionally before I get stuck. It's kind of the I'm-willing-to-do-this-much-but-then-I've-got-to-get-back-to-my-real-life-and-responsibilities kind of mode. But because we've set up how we do "real life" and how we do church in daily ways that largely ignore the poor and generally don't include people very different from us, then we will continue along without genuinely coming together to know one another and share life together.

So, I ask myself lots of questions. Where is my time spent? To what end? What am I hoping to produce? In the order of my life right now, how much of the activity leads my heart into God's love and heart for people, for reconciliation, for justice? How much of my life helps lead my children's lives into God's values of reconciliation and justice? How much do I self-protect? How and why do I keep distance? If I'm too busy elsewhere, is the substance of that busyness leading myself and others into being people of reconciliation and justice? Where is the current order and set-up taking me? It's a strange question, but I keep asking myself lately, "what am I breeding?" All questions to help me listen to my life and seek to stay in step with the Spirit of God.
Some good Scriptures for me in the questions and the steps forward:

Psalm 25:4-5 Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.

Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Harvest friends

This group of friends from Harvest Vineyard met last night to debrief their experience and learnings from the CCDA institutes last month at Orchard Hill. Great discussion about God's call as He continues to move them as a community of faith and grace amongst their neighbors.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

revisiting Lupton

I spent a little time tonight looking through my notes from when Bob Lupton was with us last month. Just a few more random notes and quotes from Bob:

"New wine has to go in new wine skins. We have to be bold enough to create new structures for this harvest season."

"The Kingdom of God is multi-lingual, multi-racial, and multi-ethnic. I suspect then, that we should worship together, work together, live together."

"What's wrong with this picture? We have a sense that something's not right...."
- programs don't fix it.
- service does not equal empowerment.
- doing church does not equal empowerment.
- proximity does not equal community.

"Servanthood is not what we want. Partnership is what we want."
"The Gospel of community is key."

"There needs to be someone who is tending and intentional and identifying the gifts of each person in the village. A community chaplain who is building community, promoting love of God and neighbor, someone who is helping to make visible the invisible kingdom (Colossians 1:15)"

During lunch, Bob was telling our table how he met with some experts to ask them how to retard the inevitable institutionalization of a program or structure because they ultimately become about self-preservation. The experts told him three things:
1. Don't hire staff. They become dependent on their paychecks.
2. Don't acquire property.
3. Let go and give away as much and as often as you can...(properties, titles, positions, etc..)

Advent Conspiracy

"The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.
So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.
And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?
What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
Welcome to Advent Conspiracy."

This quote is on the home page of Check it out. Also, check out and find practical ways to increase meaningful giving at Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Saturday of Service- Parkview Nursing Home

Here are some photos from November 21's Saturday of Service. This group went to Parkview Nursing and Rehabilitation Home. There, they played music for residents, raked some leaves, and made crafts together. The Great Adventure kids at OHC made some wonderful tray favors and Thanksgiving pictures for decoration at Parkview.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

b'golly it's Molly

Molly Hagen's home from Cambodia for a short visit, and we had the privilege of hearing from her this morning at church. Mols could be a ccda keynoter. Her love and passion for God and Cambodia and the witness of what God is up to in! Another example for me today of how God is on the mighty move at the margins.

I jotted down some notes today from Molly's talk:

A bit about Cambodia:

- Approx. 14 million people living in Cambodia. Half the population was born after 1987.
-From '75-'78, Khmer Rouge killed 2 million Cambodians.... 1 of 7 people were killed.
- 1/3 of the nation lives on less than $1 a day.
- Only 37% adult population can read.
- There's only 1 inpatient mental hospital in the country and 20 psychiatrists.
- There are 16 doctors for every 100,000 people.
- There are at least 100,000 commercial sex workers in Cambodia.
- There are now 47 colleges in Cambodia/8,000 graduates a year.
- 95% Cambodians are not Christian.

A bit about Molly:

- At age 19, Molly went to a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) Discipleship Training School (DTS). Her DTS took her to Somoa for outreach. During this time with YWAM, Molly fell in love with God and made God the Lord of her life. She received God's call to go to Cambodia and has been there since 2002.

- Molly works on YWAM base in Battambang, Cambodia, where God is currently multiplying their staff and raising up indigenous leaders like crazy. I believe Molly said that there were 10 YWAM staff in 2006...2 being Cambodian. There are now like 45 on staff, and I counted 28 of them as indigenous leaders. Outrageous! Molly talked about the Kmai staff. Many have little education or have gone through elementary school only. Yet, God is faithfully equipping those he's calling, and there were many fantastic stories this morning of God at work as these young staff members share the Gospel and teach the Bible, start youth centers, plant churches, start coffee shops, open a home for HIV/AIDS babies, reach out to neighbors, teach farmers planting techniques, and instruct villages in basic health care.

- Molly is actively teaching health care clinics throughout the region. She showed slides this morning of clinics where she and other YWAM staff teach about sanitation, hygiene, wound care, nutrition, and as they work to help people purify their water to control water borne disease.

-Molly has caught a fire for Jesus, and she had good words for us about our calling from God. First, she quoted Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China who said, "The Great Commission isn't something to consider, it's something to obey." Go and preach the Gospel and make disciples is not an option, it's a command. Molly exhorted her listeners to let Christ lead and to passionately go where he calls us. Second, Molly talked about how God doesn't choose those who are already qualified in their own strength, but he qualifies and equips those whom He calls. She spoke about many of her Kmai staff and how God is providing and growing and using them.

All about Jesus:

I was so inspired today by Molly. She talked about how they "see a need, meet a need" in Cambodia, and as they meet people's felt needs, they share with people about the hope and life found in Christ. Pray for Molly and YWAM as they make Christ known in Cambodia so that Cambodia may know Christ.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


My husband, Mike, loves a good adventure. He's a skydiving instructor who gives tandem rides, and he's been given the opportunity and thrill this past year to jump out of hot air balloons with passengers. He even took our son, Nathan, for his first tandem skydive out of a balloon yesterday, and our daughter, Sara, got an hour long balloon ride today at 8,000 feet. She did a great job with the camera on these photos too.

This quest for adventure that Mike lives has led me recently to pull a book off my shelf that I haven't cracked open for about 8 years. It's a book that impacted me deeply though, and it addresses our heart's longing for beauty, adventure, and intimacy. The book is The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge. A few words taken from the book and workbook:

"Something calls to us through experiences like these and rouses an inconsolable longing deep within our heart, wakening in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty, and adventure. This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality. It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for a sense of being truly alive. However we may describe this deep desire, it is the most important thing about us, our heart of hearts, the passion of our life. And the voice that calls to us in this place is none other than the voice of God....

God is the One behind all the things that have ever moved our hearts. We know, for example, that the world of 'creek-side singers and pastel sunsets...the austere majesty of snowcapped mountains and the poignant flames of autumn colors' (and brilliantly colorful hot air balloons against a bright blue sky..italics mine) has all been given to draw our hearts to God."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

thank you, God

For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

For the beauty of all you've made, thank you, God.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

quote of the day

The main stimulus for the renewal of Christianity will come from the bottom and from the edge, from sectors of the Christian world that are on the margins. - Harvey Cox, Religion in the Secular City

Monday, November 23, 2009

building capacity

Ever since Bob Lupton left us with his institute teachings a week ago, I've been thinking about him challenging us to "build capacity" within people and organizations. Development work is about building capacity, and building capacity will require relationship.

I served with my daughter on Saturday at Main Street Waterloo. While she and I were working to change out light bulbs on the big wreaths displayed on 4th Street, I found myself having conversation with a man who works on the design team for Main Street Waterloo. He asked me what I thought about the improvements downtown, and I told him that I really loved the brilliant magenta flower baskets that hung off the street lights all summer. The gentleman told me that it actually takes water everyday to keep them so vibrant, and that they pay an employee 4 hours daily to water them. I inquired if a job like that is ever given to someone who is under-resourced, and he replied that the person, of course, needs to be reliable, and that Main Street has learned some by trial and error with their hiring practices.

This conversation made me consider some questions. How many jobs are out there with easily attainable job skills that would offer work to those in poverty who need work? How can we connect these jobs and people? How can we work with people and walk with the under-resourced to help them become reliable, dependable workers and to grow in responsibility and excellence, relational intelligence, etc... Is there a way to become a liason between the job place and the employee to help improve the chances of success for the employee?

All of this would be relational work, but I haven't found an answer for development that isn't. And it's hard work that is not guaranteed. I have tried to do some of this in a relationship that I'm involved in, and my friend ended up not showing up for work several times and losing the job anyway.

All this to say that I just think there's no easy formula and that development work is going to require people getting involved with people. Programs won't transform...they might provide a structure or a resource that is helpful, but it will be life on life that will help a person build their capacity over time. I've discovered that the only thing I think is guaranteed is that it will be a messy journey. I only have to look at the areas of my life where I desire "capacity building" and change to recognize the familiar zigzag pattern in a life.

So, is there a hopeful word at the end of this post? Yes, two. Jesus. Thanks be to God for His good news of rescue and redemption and grace and lifechanging power through Jesus. And people. Thanks to people who are hard at the work of mentoring and sharing in life with people who need this this kind of a hand up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Concluding Challenges for the Heart '09

Well, we're wrapping up the series of Challenges for the Heart at Orchard Hill. What has God been teaching you as we've focused these past three weeks on "becoming a good Samaritan"?

I'd love for you to comment on how your heart and mind and life may have been challenged.

Certainly, asking God to grow our hearts and lives in compassion isn't something we'll now shelve until Challenges for the Heart '10, so my prayer is that God will continue us along this adventure of compassion together so that the world will better know the love of Jesus, and so that we might all truly be reconciled and made whole through Christ.

This blog will continue along with some musings along the missional way. Feel free to continue reading along...and I love company, so please join in the conversation and share your thoughts as well!