Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Opening Old Wounds

Dragging out my files and putting time into this effort has been tough on my wife and daughter. They just want this to be behind us. They don't want to re-live the experience, but every time I decide to jump back into this project, they feel like they have to.

It's tough on me, too. It's kind of like pressing on an old sore just to see if it's still painful. It is. There's been unbelievable healing in our lives, but it's painful.

If that's how my family feels, you might ask yourself why I'm doing this. For one reason: writers write.

Writers work out their experiences in print. In private, they pour out what's inside into a journal, note pad, or computer screen and process what they're thinking, what they've learned, or how they're healing. As much as I hope you reading these words will add something small to your life, this is mostly about me working things out. There. I said it. This is about me. But I think you already knew that.

I learned something from a writer named Frank Schaeffer. I read his book Crazy for God and reviewed it on my blog. The book was fascinating and irreverent and even, in my opinion, disrespectful to his family and the religious tribe Frank's family was a part of (I'm loosely affiliated with the tribe Frank exposes in his book). And I asked the question: "Why would he write this?" He personally responded to my post: "Because I'm a writer."

So here is the fourth post from my book-blogging project. Thanks for taking the time.

Read the fourth post here.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Kindness vs Severity

"Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is severe toward those who disobeyed, but kind to you if you continue to trust in his kindness. But if you stop trusting, you also will be cut off." 
–Romans 11:22

I love Tom Wright's comments on this passage. They're so practical.

Some people imagine God to be always severe, always cross, always ready to find fault. Such people urgently need to discover just how gracious God has been in Jesus the Messiah, and how this grace is theirs for the asking.

But other people sometimes imagine that God is simply kind and generous in a sense which would rule out his ever rebuking or warning anyone about anything. Such people urgently need to discover just how much God hates evil in all its destructive and damaging ways, and how firmly he confronts, and ultimately rejects, those who persist in perpetuating it.

–Paul for Everyone; Romans Part Two

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Names have been changed

The third post of my book blogging project is live.

In this bit, you'll meet three people: John, Timmy, and Ruth. I've changed their names because I've worked hard to be friends. We're all about to go through an ordeal in this story, and no matter who gets hurt by whom, as difficult as relationships get in this narrative as it moves forward, the Charming and Beautiful Susan and I have prayed hard that grace will rule the day.

We decided this on day one. We decided long before we felt like deciding this. We decided this long before we ever knew there were going to be struggles and trials and pain and anguish and disappointment with God and life and people. We decided this before we knew we would feel hate or think about revenge.

Making this decision crowded out some of those negative, cancerous emotions.

I picked the name John because that was the name of the disciple Jesus loved.

I picked Timmy because Timothy was a student of Saint Paul, wise beyond his years and teachable.

I picked Ruth because she left everything familiar and comfortable in the midst of her grieving to care for the family that remained.

These names aren't just names, they're prayers of blessing over people we've come to care about.

This is the beginning of intertwining journeys.

Read third post here

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Call it a premonition

There's trouble on the streets tonight 
I can feel it in my bones 
I had a premonition 
That he should not go alone 
–Glen Frey 

Do you feel like something is going to happen? Something bad? I’m not talking about normal pessimism where you think the rug is going to be pulled out from under you. I’m talking about an impending feeling of doom. Maybe you sense the death of a loved one. Or maybe it's some other tragic event. You don’t  talk about it much because people will think you’re weird or paranoid. Or maybe the event has already happened and if you tell someone you knew it was going to happen, they’ll tell you you’re Monday morning quarterbacking. It’s easy to predict events that have already gone down.

I put the question out in a Facebook status update recently, and people weighed in immediately in great detail. In some cases, people shared their premonitions with shocked, vehemently unresponsive listeners. When tragedy hit, the same people said, "You saw this coming!"

Why does it happen? How? Did you know it’s Biblical? In the second post of my book blogging project, I write about how God gave me a premonition of tragic events coming my way. I think God was preparing me for what was coming. The event can’t be changed, but you and I can be.

Read the second post from my book blogging project, Where are my Angels.

Read the second post here


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Friday, January 06, 2017

Book blogging (or blogging a book)

It was two and half years ago when I finished writing a book. Sort of. I found out about a contest a book publisher was running where the top three finishers would get a free publishing deal. I had written about 75,000 words on my blog and various articles and, over a period of a month, pulled them into a book. A little too quickly. The book was not ready to be submitted as a manuscript but I thought our story about Allie would be compelling enough to overcome some of the book's incompleteness. The book got finished, but the manuscript was rough and unedited outside of my own proofing. When I didn't place in the contest, I had an editor friend and some other writer/editor friends give me some feedback and we went back to the drawing board.

A book on a blog?

Here's the thing, though: once you get published, especially if you self-publish, you have to promote, distribute, build an audience, do ebooks, etc. Even really well-known authors have a hard time these days getting any kind of return on everything they put into it. Publishing houses are shutting down left and right or merging with stronger competitors. Because of the internet.

Because of the internet, anyone can see their words in print and hope to be found and build an audience. You don't have to mail tons of manuscripts to publishers or pay to self-publish. You can publish your work your self on your website or blog. All it takes is your time, your work, your story, and your passion.

We've been on a journey for the past decade that has revolved around caring for the most awesome, loving little girl in the world. Allie was born as our granddaughter but we've adopted her as our daughter. She has profound special needs. There are snippets of the story here on this blog, but the complete story is emerging here. We'd love it if you joined us as we tell how this little girl has changed our lives.

Read the first post here.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Free Water

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” -John‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The water Jesus gives is free. You don't have to dig and dig, drop down a bucket, and then heave it back up. You don't have to purify it or wonder if it is diseased or poisoned. You don't have to worry about if it will nourish you. You won't have to hike to go get it and bring it back home so you can cook with it, bathe with it and do the dishes. You won't have to ration it, horde it, or worry about it running out. It's not metered; you won't be billed for it. You'll never have to call a plumber. It's free. It's endless. Jesus delights in sharing it with you. There won't be a drought or destructive flood. He gives you what you need each day, every day. Drink up.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Place of Preparation

Greg Clark was running toward me. AT me. The football was descending in a perfect arc. I was prepared. My feet were planted. I was going to receive the kick. I watched the ball. I watched Clark. The ball falling and Clark running; both happened in slow motion. He was wearing a white jersey in practice that day. He’s number 44 this year, I remember thinking. Wasn’t Clark number 40 last year? He’s got those new cleats on. They’re really tearing up the turf. I’m going to catch this ball. Clark is going to flatten me. The ball made a THUNK! sound as I caught it. Clark’s helmet made a CRACK! sound as he plowed me down.

During preparation, time stands still

Time stands still when you’re waiting. Every single one of those thoughts went through my head while I waited for that ball to descend into my arms. To this day I remember Greg Clark’s number. Both numbers!

If you’re a missionary waiting to leave for the mission field, time is frozen. It’s like you’re in a science fiction movie and moments you’re walking through right now have stretched themselves into transparent worm holes. You’re watching people in the world around you whiz by. You see every acute detail, but, for you, time is warped around you; it’s dragging by.

Embrace it. This time warp is God ordained. The purpose: preparation.

If you are a missionary destined for cross-cultural ministry on a foreign field, time is standing still. You’re trying to sell your house. Your days on your “real job” (that’s what your dad calls it) are coming to an end. You’re beginning to put together a fund-raising plan. You’re crafting an elevator pitch about what you’re doing, where you’re going, and how God called you to this craziness. You just get there and get this new life started. But God has you waiting.

This is a time of intense preparation. Relax (crazy advice right now, I know). In your situation, this is normal. Be wise and prayerful and, like an athlete, be methodical with this time. In this season, you’ll be able to take in and process a lot more information than you realize.

The Apostle Paul relied heavily on word pictures of athletes and sports to illustrate the biblical principles he taught.

Runner and boxer

In Philippians 2 and Galatians 2, Paul writes about a runner in a race. Runners are always running so that when they race, they’ll finish well. The key: practice, training, and preparation.

In 2 Timothy 4 and 1 Corinthians 9, Paul talks about runners in a race, but he also tosses in images of boxing matches. Not only do runners run, but fighters fight. If they don’t it before the match, they won’t be any good in the match.

Listen up, missionary minded Christ-follower: if you’re not doing it now, chances are, you won’t do it later. This a time of preparation.

Free climber preparation

In this video, you’ll meet Alex Honnold. Honnold is a rock climber specializing in a discipline known as free soloing. Honnold and a buddy spend time together preparing the path that Honnold will later free-solo.

If Honnold falls, he dies. Ultimately, more time and relationship building is spent preparing for the climb than the actual climb. Watch as time stands still for Alex Honnold.

The runner and the spectators

In Hebrews 12:1, the author describes a runner running a race. In this example, however, those witnessing the event – your event – are who the author focuses on as if your race takes place in a sports arena. Those watching your life are on the edge of their seats. “What’s going to happen next?” Everyone watching you wants to know.

People are watching you now. But this is only the beginning. From here on out, you will be the subject of intense interest for those witnessing your life. God’s called you to this. The effort you put into preparation now will determine how the race is run. What’s your story going to be? Decide now before time speeds back up.

This blog post originally appeared on the Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators Blog.