Passover to Pentecost

I wonder:

How many people that yelled “crucify him” during Passover (Mark 15) were then “cut to the heart” at Pentecost (Acts 2)?

Surely there were some?

50 days.

Enemies of Jesus.  Violent.  Hate-filled.

Suddenly transformed.

Do we believe that God can still transform lives like that?

Do we pray to that end?

Shouldn’t we???

 

Don’t Forget the Mission!!!

I was reading from Mark 13 this morning – as Jesus is telling Peter, James, John and Andrew about the signs of the end of the age. He’s telling them about what will happen to them and how they will have power (from the Spirit) to know what to say.

BUT, in the middle of it – as if he’s telling them “don’t forget the mission!!!” – he says “And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.” Just right in the middle.

Brothers and Sisters – let’s not forget that we have a Jesus Mission in the midst of all that is going on in our world! The gospel must FIRST be proclaimed to all nations (our own included!).

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” Mark 13:9-11

Make them dangerous!

I’ve said it before.  I’ll say it again.  This is not a mommy-blog.

That said, my kids started school today.  Aren’t they a great bunch???

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I saw a meme on Facebook today and it read:

Father,
Please keep them
safe
this year.
Amen

Hm.  I understand that the world we live in can be scary, but I propose that mission-minded families say a different prayer as we begin this school year:

Father,
Please make them dangerous!
Lead them to engage a broken world.
Strengthen their faith
and USE them for your glory!
Amen

That’s what I’m praying for these six.

Will you join me?

 

Living in the Not Yet; Longing for Redemption

We were riding in the car, talking about the day ahead and planning the schedule.  Our Brother said that there was an opportunity to go along and visit the home and family of three of the children living at the orphanage.  They had only been back to their home one other time and that was four years ago.

Did we want to go along?

I have learned that these opportunities are usually the very ones that God uses to stretch and grow me; the ones that aren’t on the original agenda.

We said “yes”.

The next morning, we loaded up and followed another car that carried the three children to visit their parents and “di-di” (little brother).  When I met these children just the day before, they greeted me with wide, bright eyes and smiling faces.  I caught a glimpse through our car windows that morning; their smiles were gone.

After driving for over an hour, the car came to a stop at the base of a foothill.  The area around us was stunning.  The land was lush and nearly untouched by industry and technology.  A short hike up the hill (in a skirt and flip flops, no less!) led us to the place these children had once called home.

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My team mate and I stayed back while the children, our Brother and our Sister, the orphanage director, went to engage the family.  I’m not sure the family knew we were accompanying the children on their visit, but they didn’t seem to care that we were there.

Our Brother came to us after a short time and started to paint the picture of the family situation.  Poverty.  Mental illness.  Misplaced value of marriage.  Selfishness.  As he spoke, my heart broke into a million pieces…

“Why in the world am I even here?” was the thought that pulsed in my heart and mind.

Left alone again with my thoughts, I looked out into the hills and wondered how many voices cried out from unmarked graves; victims of a family planning policy and hundreds of years of a cultural preference of sons over daughters.  My heart continued to break…

The family gathered for a picture.

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Mental illness allows a smile – one that is oblivious to the circumstance.  Apart from that smile, the picture is void of joy; the weight of the situation is evident in the faces of the other 5 members of the family.

As we prepare to leave, the di-di is overcome with emotion; the older three maintain a stoic mode that gets them through the good-byes.  Their mother waves and smiles; their father encourages them to work hard and succeed. Our Sister, the orphanage director, chokes back the tears.  She reaches for left-over breakfast food and runs it quickly to the di-di.

As we drive away, the tears swell in our Sister’s eyes; she can no longer contain them.  She wants to do more.  She wants to bring the di-di with us; he begged as we drove away.  She simply cannot house one more child right now.

The car ride back to the orphanage was silent.  Too many thoughts in our minds and hearts.  I was overcome with emotions I didn’t think I was capable of.  I was so frustrated!  Where could we even start to help?  How could we help without hurting?  How could we even begin to fix this?  No amount of community development can erase generations of tradition, thought and prejudice.

In that moment, the Father stepped into the middle of my thoughts and reminded me:

You live in the not yet.
I will step in and fix this all.
No more mental illness.
No more poverty.
No more fatherless children.
No more gendercide.
No more hunger.

Even as I recount that day – almost 2 months later – I have to allow God to remind me that we live in the not yet.  The faith He has grown in my heart that He will step in and redeem all this brokenness is what allows me to work on behalf of the orphan now.  In this not yet, He allows his people to be active agents of reconciliation.  We cannot fix it, but we can love like Jesus did.  And somehow, loving like Jesus did makes us more like Him.

Right now, that has to be enough…

 

(re)

Reconciliation!

Rejoice!

Revival!

I’m enamored by “re” words lately!  These are my current favorites.

One of my favorite songs is “Rejoice” by Dustin Kensrue.

Two books I am working thru are:

“ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church” by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch

and

“Replant: How a Dying Church Can Grow Again” by Darrin Patrick and Mark Devine

My heart is longing and begging God for revival…

Lord, reconcile a lost world – and your Church (!) – to Yourself!

Give us a heart of rejoicing in the gift of your salvation!

 

The Nations… Around the Dinner Table

The Mr. and I just returned from a week in Mexico.

Yes.  It was amazing.

He was invited to speak at a conference.  The host of the event was happy to have me along!  Basically, the Mr. worked all day and then we had our evenings together.  If he’s working all day and I’m at the beach, then this was bound to happen:

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The lighting was likely off in the room, but I did manage a pretty sweet tan.  And the Mr. looks like he went to a conference in a fluorescent lit building.

Part of his time commitment was dinner with the attendees of the conference.  I was kind of dreading it.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have anything to contribute to the conversation about business and marketing and such.

But, then God… isn’t he kind?

He sat me at dinner every night – with the Nations!

A couple from Australia.  A Scot that currently resides in Costa Rica.  An Israeli that lives in South Africa.  Italians. Canadians.  A Chinese man living in New York City.  A woman from Chile.  A handful of Americans from places far from me.  And many more that I didn’t have the pleasure of dining with.

It was amazing.

I loved it!  I truly believe that each and every person I engaged in conversation knew how interested I was in their country, their culture, their family and their stories.  Dinner every night was an incredible blessing and gift for my heart – not the boring business conversation I was dreading.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 

Oh, Peter…

I’m reading my way thru Mark right now.  Generally studying it with this question in mind: what can I learn from Jesus in this?

Today I was a little distracted by what I can learn from Peter.

Oh, Peter…

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say,Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul? Forwhoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” Mark 8:27-9:1

What struck me this morning was that Peter kind of goes full circle thru this very brief section of scripture.

He’s walking with Jesus and talking about who people say Jesus is, when Jesus asks Peter “But what about you?  Who do you say I am?”  Peter confesses that Jesus is indeed the Christ!  The one promised Messiah that he was raised to watch and wait for!  Jesus was him!

Then, as Jesus is sitting with his disciples, he goes on to predict his death.  Peter’s faith is NEW and fresh and he is madly in love with this man that he has just confessed as the promised Messiah!  And now – this Christ tells him that he will suffer and die.  Peter is blown away!  Not his Christ!  In front of all the disciples Christ rebukes Peter – calling out the enemy in calling him “Satan”!  Talk about a low point…

But, in the graciousness and kindness of the heart of our King, he ends this time of teaching about his death by saying that some of those standing in his presence will not die before the kingdom of God comes with power!

Oh, Peter!

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. Acts 2:14

Peter, you are the tool that God used to bring more than 3,000 people into the kingdom – with power – on that day of Pentecost!

Oh, Peter…

I’m thankful for you.  I’m thankful that your faith was new and fresh.  I’m thankful that you trembled in fear and doubt.  I’m thankful that God’s promise to use you was true.  I’m thankful that on days when my fear is crippling and faith is fractured, I can trust that God’s kingdom comes with power that isn’t dependent on me or my gifts.

Thankful for my Mr.

The Mr. and I recently celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  Oh, the bliss of maturity vs. the burden of naivety!  Our wedding picture looks fresh out of the pages of YM or Teen Magazine!  We were, after all, only 18 and 19 years old!

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Today, I am thankful that my Mr. pushes me to keep on working hard on the Jesus Mission.  One day, about a year ago, I wanted to give up on some projects.  I remember telling him “I don’t know if I have the strength to keep doing this!” and he said “You have to!”  He has cheered, loved and encouraged me to keep on pressing toward the goal!  I’m so thankful he did!

Happy 20th to my Mr.  I’m glad I have you on my team!

 

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

…and the places you never thought you’d go!

oh the places

If I’m using my passport, chances are that I’m hopping on a plane to China.  My passport could be used as evidence to show where my heart is: China and the United States.  If I’m filling out an entry card on a long airplane ride, it’s written in Chinese characters and in English.  The language of the announcements on the plane are Mandarin and Cantonese and English.  When I depart the States, I’m flying west, not east.

“Out there things can happen, and frequently do,
To people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.
Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!” – Dr. Seuss

Crazy things are happening in our family!  It seems like God is opening some doors for the Mr. and I to go the places we never imagined we’d go!  I’m leading a small team from our church to host a retreat for a missionary team.  We’re going to Senegal!  I promise that I never imagined Senegal!  And the Mr.?  He has been invited on an orphan care trip to Russia!  That wasn’t even on the radar just a few short months ago, but it seems that God might be leading him that direction.

We’re trying to “just go right along” and follow where God leads – allowing him to use us to mobilize more Believers to go!  We really do see these new places we’ll go for that purpose!

I’ve taught little kids using a passport as an object lesson in submitting their lives to the Lord and allowing him to fill up that passport with the adventures he chooses for them.  I guess it’s our turn to trust how he will use stamps in the passports’ of a Mrs. and a Mr. for his glory!