Saturday, February 28, 2009

discovering passions

What are you passionate about? Hopefully, we are all on a journey of discovering outrageous passion for God and for people. In addition, we are hopefully discovering unique passions that God has placed within each of us that He will use to grow His Kingdom on earth.

Our group in Dallas was discussing how we might help people discover and name their passions. I know for me, it's been helpful to think about passions by considering all of the places and positions I've been in over the years of my life. What have I found myself pursuing no matter where I've lived or what job I've had? For me, the common threads have been 1. Engaging people in service in their communities and globally and 2. connecting to God's beauty in Creation.

In 1990, Mike and I lived in Guam for two years, and I taught fifth graders in the public school system there. Outside of my school days, Mike and I were having a blast exploring the island with friends...Guam is full of amazing hikes, waterfalls, caves, and vistas. What I soon began to discover is that a lot of my fifth graders had never been to many of these places on their island. Many had never traveled to the southern part of the island, and Guam is only 28 miles long! When I asked the kids what they spent their time doing, I learned that much of their time was in front of the tv, either watching cable or playing video games. So, I began to take 3-4 students with me on weekend hikes and field trips. This was so fun! We also entered an environmental contest (we cleaned up a really trashy area on Guam, and raised public awareness about the harm done by littering.) The contest award was a trip for our class on a submarine sightseeing tour off the coast of Guam, an amazing experience. Our school was in the north near the humane society of Guam, so I began to serve there once a week with one of my students, Rex, who was one of my challenging students in regards to behavior. I grew to love Rex as we served side by side washing out kennels and feeding dogs and cats.

When I think back on other seasons of my life, I find that no matter what it is, I find myself connecting people through service. At college in Ames, I invited my roommate to a nursing home each week where we'd visit Agnes and Genevieve, two elderly residents who didn't get visits from family. When I taught fifth grade at Hansen Elementary, our class helped raise money and wrote letters to friends in an orphanage on the island of St. Croix, where two good friends of mine were serving as missionaries there. I also helped create the partnership between
Hansen Elementary and Sartori Hospital that is still going strong almost 20 years later. Nature is also a passion for me. In college, I spent a summer on Texas ranch living outdoors with students and helping them connect with God in nature. I led a group of high schoolers through the mountains of Colorado backpacking for a week. I love to be on the nature trails by myself or with my family.

Whether it be in my youth ministry years or in my years of raising our own children, I find myself connecting people into service, and I enjoy connecting with the outdoors somehow. Both energize me tremendously and are pathways for me to draw near to God.

What about you? No matter where you've lived or what job you've had, what do you find yourself seeking out? What makes you come alive and energizes you?

missional church

A quote from McNeal's latest book, Missional Renaissance:

"Missional church is not about "doing church" better- at least, not the way we've "done church" in North America. It is not church growth in a new dress. It is not adding a smoke machine for the worship center or hiring a new band. It is not about church renewal, which generally means trying to find some new way to revitalize the troops to do church better with the hope of poofing up the numbers as the end result. Missional church is not a fad, the next big thing. Missional thinking and living change the game completely. The missional renaissance is altering both the character and the expression of the church in the world.

Ours is an age that celebrates in fresh ways the potential of people to make a difference, just as the original Renaissance reawakened the human spirit to noble pursuits. This outpouring of good and hope in the face of so many daunting challenges, together with people's desire to grow and to experience genuine spiritual vitality, represents the spiritual awakening of our times."

Friday, February 27, 2009

connecting to resources

You'll find 2008's top urban ministry speakers, websites, and blogs at

I've heard several of the speakers at the CCDA conferences I've been to, and I'll vouch that they are highly inspirational and challenging speakers! You can hear a lot of them free on-line. (in all our spare time, right?)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

believe, belong, bless

Eric Swanson (you can see his blog at authored The Externally Focused Church and helped lead the MRLC this past week. He drew a cool picture of a celtic knot and talked about how we are all alike in that all people are made to bless. God made us to know Him, to live in community, and to make a contribution of positive significance in the world. How can we structure our lives and our outreach so that we are tapping into these needs and desires and helping people discover the truth and beauty in these three B's?

stories and learnings

Last month I told you that I spent time writing a missional narrative for a leadership retreat. It was an excellent exercise, as it helped to clarify learnings, values, and vision along the missional way.

We've been talking about the value of debriefing and conversation, so if my learnings can help you in anyway, then I invite you to download the missional narrative at the link below.

Download missional narrative file

I'd also encourage you to comment and let this reading community know if you share any of the same learnings or have had other insights that might help the rest of us as we journey in missional community.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

the debrief

One concept explored at the Missional Renaissance Learning Community (MRLC) is that in order to make discoveries about our lives and our world, we need to debrief our experiences....process them in conversation, reflect upon them by way of thought-provoking questions that require us to not only observe or evaluate the experience externally, but to also examine what happens inside of us. Jesus did a lot of deploying followed by debriefing with his disciples.

In my own life, I am somewhat of a debriefing type. I journal, and I'm generally a thinker, a processor. I also learn a great deal from conversations with friends as I hear their perspectives and insights regarding their experiences or shared experiences. As I think back, all of this has helped me greatly on the path toward discovery and growth.

Naming the importance of the debrief has really gotten me to consider how key this is and how we need to intentionally build in debriefing time as we serve together.

We're often so busy moving from one thing to the next that we don't stop to debrief, and we often don't see the value in debriefing because it doesn't "seem productive." We're more often geared toward action than reflection, and we're not often aware of what even drives our actions. We therefore need to get real intentional about debriefing.

The following things will be important to include as we move toward missional living:
- Building in time for debriefing into the experiences we offer. Asking good questions and helping people to process their experiences will be critical for the journey.
- Coaching people to include what the MRLC calls "white space" in their lives. Space and practices that allow for time to listen to God, listen to others, and listen to our lives.

Do you have any thoughts about debriefing that have helped you?

Reggie McNeal and Missional Renaissance

You can check out Reggie McNeal and an interview about his new book Missional Renaissance at the following link:

Church is a who not a what

RECOVER verb: to get back : regain2 a: to bring back to normal position rescue3 a: to make up for b: reach5: to find or identify again

I've come to think about the human life as being a journey of recovery. God pursuing us and recovering us to our intended state. Restoring us to the former condition in which He created us in His image. The Eden before the Fall. The "thy" will be done before the "my" will got in the way. It's a journey toward wholeness, and a process that won't be complete this side of life. But nevertheless, the journey is one of increasing freedom and abundant life if we follow Christ and surrender to God's love and recovery work.

It stands to reason, then, that since the Church is a community of human beings, there is need for the power of Christ to recover her to His original design. I just spent the past two days in a learning community in Dallas, TX, with 45 people representing 9 other churches around our country. Reggie McNeal and Eric Swanson, leaders of the learning community, spoke to us about being missional Church. I'll probably spend some time these next few days processing some of the learnings on this blog. As I listened to the men speak, though, it became clear to me that these learning communities were much like recovery groups I've attended. We grow in awareness as we share in community what we need to "unlearn" about the Church that is deeply embedded within us due to culture and structures/systems we've created. Ways we have replaced the reign of God with our own reign. Idols that have mastered us and enslaved us. We grow as we share the vision of what God's intended condition for His Church is, and as we encourage and inspire one another with tools and practices that help us to learn to walk in the freedom of the Spirit to be the community of faith that Christ intended. It is a journey from control to surrender/growth, a journey from fear to trust/freedom, a journey from brokenness to wholeness. I look forward to sharing with you some insights from this Missional Renaissance Learning Community.

10 reasons we don't like to talk about race

This is an article written by Eugene Cho. Eugene Cho, a second-generation Korean-American, is the founder and lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and the executive director of Q Cafe, an innovative nonprofit neighborhood café and music venue. He and his wife are also launching a grassroots humanitarian organization to fight global poverty. You can stalk him at his blog,

"Last week, I shared a post titled “a nation of cowards” and asked if we’re indeed cowards when it comes to the conversation of racism and the continuous work toward reconciliation.
One thing that is clear to me is that the church is quite silent. We talk often of reconciliation that’s necessary between God and humanity but need to keep pushing forward about how our faith informs and transforms our relationship with one another.
In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3.28/The Message)
Why is racism such a difficult topic and issue — including for Christians? Well, here are some of my reasons:
1. It’s hard work. And people can be lazy. And talking about racism is an exhausting conversation because it brings up some deep questions. Reconciliation is hard work.
2. Something called ‘Life.’ There’s lots of other things going on — umm, like the financial recession.
3. Confusion. People don’t like confusion. Folks like clarity and certainty. We like answers.
4. Conflict. People don’t like conflict and, well, the conversation of racism provokes conflict and strong opinions.
5. Fear. People are afraid. Afraid to consider the possibilities that we’re racist, prejudiced, or implicated by our silence. Afraid to consider that we live as victims in a “victimized” mentality. Afraid to consider that we need to “give up” something. Afraid to “count the costs.”
6. Apathy. People don’t care. We’re apathetic. And this is probably the scariest reason.
7. What? We don’t think it exists. What racism? What prejudice? And this is probably as scary as #6.
8. How? People don’t know how to talk about racism. We don’t have an agreed upon framework to engage the conversation and move toward peace and reconciliation.
9. We want to forget the past and just “move forward.” It’s over. Heck, Obama is president. It’s a new day.

Additional reasons?

The topics of racism, prejudice, and reconciliation are indeed painful conversations. While I don’t necessarily believe that the answer lies exclusively with the church, I do believe the answer lies with the gospel. It lies ultimately with the message of ’shalom’ that God intended for humanity to live in fellowship with God and with one another — because we are created in the image of God."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

With Justice for All ch. 4

In this chapter, Perkins shares about God's call on his life and then continues to address God's call on our lives. He speaks about how it's dangerous to go without being sent...but that if we are called, we must go, and in the going we find God with us; we find peace...even in the hard places.

Three years ago, I began to go through a period of restlessness and disorientation. After much time of paying attention, journaling, listening, I knew I was in the middle of some call process that God was taking me through. At the time, I was leading Sunday morning student ministry, but I knew God was up to something within me that was leading me in some other direction. It was a looonnnngggg period of at least 1 1/2 years of angst and discernment. I finally received the clarity that God wanted to keep me at Orchard Hill Church, but my focus would be in community outreach and ministry. I had no idea how it would unfold, but I knew I had to surrender and accept the assignment from God, even though He had not revealed much more than that to me at that particular time. God has been so faithful and good. He's continued to lead me, teach me, equip me, and surround me with amazing people throughout this call, this assignment. Through any times of insecurity or frustration, I can take myself quickly back to the certainty of this call on my life, and it makes it clear to continue on with confidence along this path that I know God has me on.

How have you been able to recognize God's call in your own life?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

compassion means "to suffer with"

I enjoy getting an email each day through Sojourners ( that gives a Scripture verse and a quote pertaining to justice and compassion. Here's a quote from Henri Nouwen. He is a tremendous person/author and has written a powerful book entitled Compassion: A Reflection of the Christian Life.

"Does the compassionate life not demand that we be present to those who suffer; does it not require that we enter into solidarity with the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden; does it not motivate us both to move into the thick of life and to experience the hardships of existence in solidarity with the outcasts?"

What have you learned about entering in with people in pain?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

aussie update from Molly

As I finish up my 6th week here in Perth, Australia...I am amazed how fast it has gone! . So far I've studied about, Target Diseases prevention and treatment, Eyes/Ears/Throats, AIDS/HIV prevent and how to help those infected with HIV, Mother and Child health, how to an injection and so much more!

Today was injection day, that's right we got to stick each other with needles, and boy did I enjoy it! One girl who was using my arm as pin cushion was not so confident in her skills, as she approached my arm I could see her hands shaking with fear, I tried to calm her down, but with great shakiness a piece of medal was pushed slowly and painfully in to my arm. Slowly she injected the saline water in to my arm, still shaking back and seemed like she thought it was more of a joy-stick to a video game then a needle inside of my arm. After that I picked a new partner.

So many the diseases that we in America don't worry about is because we have these wonderful things called vaccines. Polio, Measles, Mumps, Tetanus, Diphtheria Hep A, Hep B and more can all be avoided by a vaccine. But so few people do not have access to these simple things that can save lots of lives.

I also enjoyed mother/child health week. We learned about charting children's growth to make sure they are on the right track, helping more children stay away from malnourishment. We have some pregnant friends here in Perth, one of the mornings they came in and we got to palpate them (feel around the abdomen for the baby) and we also got to hear the babies heart beat! It was one of the most amazing sounds I've ever heard! It's sounds like horse running, it beats so fast, over 120 times per minute! It's such a beautiful sound!

We also learned how to have a anti natal clinic, for pregnant women, to help them make sure their pregnancy is going well. I feel like I know so much more now! After a week of talking about and looking at birth I'm still not to wild about it happening to me, but I like being on the side of helping others do it well! Yes, that's much more comfortable!

I am 1/2 way done here in Perth. At the end of March we (12 of us) will be heading to the Philippines for 7 weeks to work with a group of YWAM'ers with their community development. After that, I head to Vanuatu for a month! In 2006, while sitting by the ocean outside of Port Vila, Vanuatu I asked God, "Can I come back to the islands God?" And I'm going back!! For first 3 weeks in Vanuatu we are training a group of Ni-Vanuatu health care workers, they come from all the outer islands, they will be the primary health care provider on some of the islands and God is intrusting us to help them know how to help others! WOAH! I feel slightly under qualified. just slightly...yah. The last week we should have the opportunity to go with them to their island and help them at their local clinics. I am so excited for that month in Vanuatu!

If you ever think to pray for me, that would be fantastic. You can pray for me...
to comprehend all that I need to know to really see people's lives changed by offering them basic health care.

to get direction about how to take this back to Cambodia, what it looks like and how to use health care in the best way to glorify God!

to focus on what God has for me here in Perth. Yes, I'm here for training, but I've learned more than just health care. There are people here who I'm called to influence, there are people God has placed here to speak in to my life, I don't want to miss it. I have also been experiencing more of God's love. I've been learning how to stir up my own faith, taking responsiblity for my growth in being more like Jesus.

Thanks for praying for me and believing in me. I miss ya'll in Cambodia, Iowa and all the other wonderful nations of the earth...oh and pray that God would tell people from Perth to move to Cambodia! Yah!

peace. molly.

An airplane in a box!

Malcolm and Mary Cleope and family serve as missionaries in the Philippines. Malcolm flies for Pacific Missionary Aviation and sent this "Yay, God!" account just the other day. Please continue to pray for God's work in the Philippines through the Cleope's!

Over a year ago, our mission started a search to buy an airplane to fulfill needs in the PMA Flight School training department and for long distance flying. Our current airplane is excellent for grass runways, hauling heavy supplies, large groups, and taking short trips. But it is not suitable for training and long distances since it is expensive and slow. We prayed for an economical, fast, and smaller airplane to compliment our Islander. This was a very specific prayer request.

Last summer, a generous donor from Washington State gave PMA a twin-engine Piper Aircraft PA-30, known in aviation as the Twin Comanche! This 4-seater plane even had a certification to modify the inside – which meant that we could add a stretcher for patients. Our MedEvac distance would be extended, plus we would save hours and pesos in this time of rising fuel costs. The Piper PA-30 is a good, complex airplane for training. Those around the airport would take notice – since we would be the only organization in Manila to have such a plane. In terms of raising funds for our ministry, we would be able to accept charter flights for those calls previously turned down, because of the distance. God answered that prayer with a definite, YES!

The Twin Comanche was disassembled by our missionary mechanic in Washington State last September and shipped in a container to the Philippines. After two months at sea and numerous delays, it arrived in Manila November 30, 2008. The next two months we faced seemingly impossible challenges in having the plane cleared and delivered; we knew that our only way out was through the Lord. It was a "narrow gate". We encountered attempts of extortion and enticement to bribery from various government agencies. However, it has always been a policy of the mission not to pay bribes; hence this was not even an issue for us. Yes, we had moments of anger! We observed another group making the pay-off and receiving their shipment after 1 week. In the end, we had to pay about $2,000 in storage fees, while the papers sat on someone's desk. At one point, the airplane was even put on "abandonment" and almost auctioned off!

The airplane was delivered last Tuesday at midnight. What a fine sight that was when the 40-foot container rolled into our hangar! Thank the Lord. Our mechanic did an amazing job of securing all parts safely; everything arrived intact. I have attached a few pictures. God is always at work; He is the potter molding us everyday. Sometimes we get inpatient because we cannot see the finished pot. :)

Malcolm Cleope
Officer in Charge
Pacific Missionary Aviation

Jesus makes the difference

I was with a group of about 40 people who sat and listened to 4 people from Harvest Vineyard speak on the topic of homelessness last night. They shared their stories, they spoke on the contributing factors of homelessness and how people cope and survive. They spoke about the needs of our community. But through all of the storytelling and speaking, we could hear the hope of Jesus. People's lives changed inside out by our redeeming God. People's lives changed through a community of Truth and love, Christ's Church. Through the whole night, it was clear that Jesus is the healer and helper, and we are to be his incarnation, his hands and feet, to provide hope to hurting and homeless neighbors.

I have listened to others in our community speak on homelessness. I have listened as they also have spoken about the needs and the realities of homelessness right here in the Cedar Valley. I was so struck last night as I left the Harvest gathering as to what a difference I felt in my spirit last night compared to the other times I have been in a homelessness learning community. In the past, I have often left with a feeling of overwhelming despair and guilt. Last night, I left praising God, and though I still feel the burden for our community and the same sense of urgency, I experienced hope and promise and energy last night. What was the difference? Jesus. When you hear the story of Harvest and you begin to rub shoulders with this grace community of people whose lives are transformed by the living Christ, you can not help but be drawn into the community and to desire to live and love and work side by side in order to share Jesus with people in a very holistic manner.

It was a beautiful, holy experience last night. Thanks be to our big and loving and powerful God in whom nothing is impossible.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

With Justice for All ch. 3

As a white person, I can't say much about chapter 3 without the help of some black friends who are willing to share their thoughts about the black church.

Perkins, in this chapter, discussed how the black church in the 20th century had the opportunity to be the vehicle for change. It was the one setting where black leadership could arise, and it held within its grasp the means to bring to reality the hopes and dreams of black America. But, instead of Christianity being seen as a force for transformation, instead of leaders being raised up, the church became more of a release valve, an emotional outlet,in an environment of fear, hostility, and oppression. Black ministers were often given multiple congregations in which they had to travel from one to the next and never really got to know the people or the needs of the people. Perkins, with great passion and urgency, writes:

"Real change will come only when our leaders, filled with the Spirit of God and armed with the holistic gospel, relocate within the community of need. We must live among our people, agonize with them, make their needs our needs. Then we must join with them in solving their problems with God's power. We must truly shepherd our among them, love them, lead them." He speaks passionately about raising up leaders from within the community to help heal the community.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hear, O Israel

Many folks have committed to repeating the "Jesus Creed"...Mark 12:29-31 several times a day for 40 days around Orchard Hill.

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."

I've spend time this past month thinking a lot about how my ability to love God and love others is directly proportionate to my ability to receive God's love for me. How are you doing on the receiving end?

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

don't even think of...

I was at a Black Hawk Evangelical Association meeting last Thursday, and I listened to Pam Edwards do an amazing job upfront talking to our group about spiritual formation. There were so many great nuggets from her time of teaching, but two have remained especially close in mind the past four days:

- she mentioned that most people going to church these days look to be pleased, not changed.

- she held up what looked like a big street sign that said DON'T EVEN THINK OF and then she had duct tape over the next two words. She used this sign to talk about the fact that as we grow to be more Christ-like, evidence of that will be that we won't even think of __________ (fill in the blank with things like jealousy, lying, selfish ambition, etc...) Not only will we not ACT on feelings and thoughts of these sins as we grow spiritually...but as Christ is formed in us, we eventually won't even THINK along these lines.

With Justice for All ch. 2

When Perkins moved back to Mississippi, he was called to the ministry of reconciliation, and he knew that the solution to problems in their community-whatever it was- had to include both whites and blacks. He began to befriend two white pastors...both who ended up committing suicide after an enormous amount of opposition and pressure from their congregations for shaking up the status quo by presenting the plight of the black community and addressing issues of oppression and injustices in the community. Perkins writes,

"I began to see that white and black churches alike had so molded their message to fit within cultural, racial, and religious traditions that they robbed the gospel of its power. It was powerless to reach across racial, cultural, economic and social barriers. It could not make a real difference in the community."

A question for reflection at the end of this chapter: The author claims that the church is still the most racist institution in America, maintaining segregation long after racial barriers have fallen in other social institutions. How do you explain this fact when the gospel demands that the church lead the way in the work of reconciliation?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pursuing Kingdom Priorities

Pursuing Kingdom Priorities is the theme of next fall's Christian Community Development Association conference (ccda). I've been to two of the conferences...after going to the first one two years ago, I came back and said, "this is the conference I've been waiting my whole life for." The 2009 conference is in Cincinnati Oct. 21-25. We'll probably take some vans there, so be praying and considering....registration usually happens in April. Check out the video below:

friendship bread and the HyVee deli

A group of friends from church has been passing on the starter for Amish Friendship Bread. We ended up with a bag that we've been "mushing" over the past 10 days. Yesterday was the day to add some ingredients, divide out 4 bags of starter, and bake some bread. Yummy! Sara opted to bake mini loaves, and it has been fun to hear her think about who will be gifted with friendship bread today. This was a wonderful "Jesus Creed" activity for the day...causing us to think about how we might show a little love to a neighbor through a mini loaf of friendship bread.

I think what I've appreciated most about the 40 Days of Living the Jesus Creed (a series that we're going through at our church...Scot McKnight, author), is that it has caused us to stop and meditate, to fix our thoughts, on loving God and loving others. It is accomplishing Hebrews 10:24....."Let us consider how we might spur one another on toward love and good deeds." The book and the teachings have been wonderful in encouraging and reminding us of the great love of God that is ours to live in and live out of...

Sara and I had a girls night out the other evening and started out at the HyVee deli for a little supper. We spotted a friend from church, a single man, who was dining alone. Because of the practice of fixing our minds on loving God, loving others over the past month, it was a more natural, a quicker decision to ask the gentleman to join us for supper. It was an excellent reminder for me that the "40 days" of reciting the Jesus Creed daily is just the exercise to make this a habitual practice to live with in order to help us keep our minds fixed on loving God, loving others.

If you've been going through the series of the Jesus Creed, how has it impacted you?
Even if you have not, what has God been teaching you lately about loving Him and loving others?

P.S. Anyone want a starter bag for Amish Friendship Bread?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

With Justice for All ch.1

In this first chapter, Perkins writes, "God was beginning to show me that the gospel had to be more than just "evangelism." The gospel, rightly understood, is holistic- it responds to man as a whole person; it doesn't single out just spiritual or just physical needs and speak only to those."

JP and his wife, Vera Mae, began to understand this as they moved back to Mendenhall, Mississippi, in 1960. I began to understand this value of holistic ministry when I served at the House of Hope in 2003-05. Amidst my time with moms who were experiencing deep need, God began to help me see that the response to that need was both relational and holistic. Physical, emotional, spiritual needs were all a part of the same healing journey that God desired for these young women and their children. For my own journey too. God created us as a whole person and wants to redeem our whole person in Christ. In fact, that's what we are to be about in all of our church communities....holistic ministry.

What about you? Where has God shown you the need for a holistic approach to evangelism and discipleship?

What implications does this have for you as you or your church reaches out to people?

Thought for the day: Consider how Jesus's ministry was holistic. He most often addressed a felt need of a person before entering into spiritual conversation.

fasting in the Bible

Last night as I stood in line at the grocery store, I saw a friend behind me who attends another local church. In her cart were a few groceries and a book with the "Daniel Fast" title ( She and I conversed about this for a few minutes....she and her husband had been on two Daniel fasts previously, and I shared a little about being on a Daniel fast the first three weeks of this year. Both of us agreed that God had shown up in ways beyond our expectation and blessed us greatly in these times dedicated to Him. It really was a time where I was open to God's voice, sensitive to His leading, and focused on His character. It also was a blessing as a friend in drug recovery was living with us in January, and my abstinence and discipline worked well in tandem with her journey in recovery.

If you ever want to read some passages where people fast in the Bible, below are some Scripture references:

Joel ch.2 Jonah 3:5 Ezra 8:21-23 1 Samuel 7:6 Judges 19-20
2 Chronicles 7:14 2 Chronicles 20: 3-4, 13-17 2 Chronicles 33:1-13
1 Kings 3:10-13 Daniel 6:1-4, ch. 10 Luke 4:1-2
Jeremiah 6:15-16 Matthew 17:20-21 Luke 5: 34-35 Acts 9:7-9
Acts ch. 10 Esther 4:15-16

Thursday, February 5, 2009

phrases for life

God occasionally impresses one-liners on me that I believe He wants me to live with and get deeply embedded into my being.

In March 2004, I went into a Korean speaking worship service in Waterloo, and a very strong sense of God's presence came upon me during a worship song. Not long after, when the sermon was about to begin, a gentleman got up and came to sit by me. He whispered that He was led by the Holy Spirit to interpret for me. Throughout the sermon, He'd lean over and whisper a sentence in English to me. He only whispered seven statements to me through the whole sermon, but I felt like he was a conduit and God was speaking directly to me through him. Here they are:

1. You must be silent to receive the blessings of God.
2. You must open your hands to receive the blessings of God.
3. You must be humble and childlike to receive the blessings of God.
4. Being thankful helps us recognize our blessings.
5. Be poor in spirit.
6. Jesus lived a life of service and sacrifice. We must do the same in the Church.
7. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

Those seven messages from God continue to be guiding words for my life. In the last 5 years, God has from time to time impressed a few more phrases on me for my life.

Let love be your greatest aim.
Get closer.

And the latest God has for me,
Will you order your life as if reconciliation and justice matters?"

How about you? Do you have any words or Scripture that are your mandates from God?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

missional narrative

I spent a bunch of time last week writing my missional journey out on paper to read during a leadership retreat at our church. I needed to write one that was only 10 minutes in length to speak, so I actually have a 20 minute version and an edited version that helped me stay within my time frame.

This exercise was really good for me. It helped me reflect on what I've learned along the journey of serving the under-resourced in my life. I know life is busy, but I really want to encourage you to write your own missional narrative. Even if it's just for yourself. It seemed to clarify and help me articulate the learnings and the values and the vision, all within stories and experiences.

And if you'd ever want to share what you write, I would love to be an audience.

book talk

There are a few folks reading With Justice For All by John Perkins. This blog would serve as a good place for some conversation around that. Charles Colson writes a foreword to the book, and I'd like to share a few of his paragrahs below. If you haven't read anything of Perkins', I highly recommend you do.

"If effective, deep-seated change is to come to our nation today, it will come only through the leadership of Christians- not as a political force, but as a network of believers sharing the reconciliating love of Jesus Christ and the power of His gospel to meet the gamut of men and women's moral, physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.

As we see the power of that gospel communicated through the believing hearts and practical actions of Christians ministering in the weak places of our society, we will see committed Christian fellowships growing among the poor and oppressed in our ghettos, reconciliation between black and white in our cities, healing of the broken within our prisons. Though it may seem to be foolishness to the world, it will be from the ranks of the powerless that the powerful see the work of Christ.

As John Perkins makes clear, this work begins with you and me. As we ourselves have feasted on the good news, we must in turn proclaim liberty to the captives and justice to the oppressed. As Christ ministers through us, then we will begin to see healing in our land- not through government programs or distant relief funds, but by rolling up our shirt sleeves, taking on the concerns of the needy and sharing in their sufferings. This is the model Christ gives us- and it is leaders like John Perkins who show the excellence of their leadership by focusing our eyes on Christ. "

Monday, February 2, 2009

Strong and Courageous

Dante Marcellous Means ( is a friend and leader in SHOUT Ministries. Below he is sharing his thoughts around the inauguration and birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Thanks, Dante. And may God give us all strength and courage to follow His will.

Is it mere coincidence the first settlers arrived in Virgina 400 years prior to the year Obama decided to run for Presidency , and biblicaly the Israelite people were in bondage to the Egyptians 400 years. Maybe we can count it coincidence that after the Israelites arrived in the forest that they tarried in for forty years due to disobedience to God, and likewise after Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 we tarried in the wilderness of lost identities for forty years in America due to the same disobedience to God. I could even dismiss the fact that Dr. King spoke in his last sermon that he has been to the mountain top and he stated he saw the promised land; likewise Moses also saw the promised land yet like King never made it to the promised land. Even more facinating Obama stays true to biblical reference in his Innaguration day speech. He speaks of being strong and courageous several times throughout his historic speech. Like Obama in the first chapter of Joshua it is repeated several times for Joshua to be very strong and courageous. Biblicaly Joshua was the leader of the Israelites after Moses died. Our charge as people, even as Americans, can be found in the text of Joshua. It includes being strong and very courageous in what the Lord has asked each one of us to do individually and collectively.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Thousand Questions

Please take 10 minutes to watch this!! It's an incredible, incredible video.

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