Friday, April 30, 2010

No Good, Very Bad Day Morning

As we wrapped up our time in Africa, I looked back over some of my old journal entries and found a few that I would like to share. Today's is from later on March 16, 2010:

Today has been a bit of a challenge. I am badly sunburned and covered with huge mosquito bites (but I can't scratch because of the sunburn). I am sick with a runny nose (a roll of toilet paper that doubles as kleenex is my constant companion), sinus headache, and a cough. My lungs hurt quite badly- I am not sure if it is the cough, altitude, or adjustment to humidity. Maybe it's all three. I can't take my medication that requires electricity, because we don't have any power. I broke my white sunglasses 2 days ago, and my black ones fell off my head today under a waterfall, so no hope of recovery. As I opened our cabin door, something on the other side stung my finger. Then I walked into our slanted door frame while borrowing Josh's sunglasses and they shattered on my head. Who knew they were actually glass? This was all before lunch.

The caretaker suggested maybe I should just sit down and rest... so I did : S

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Truth About Evangelism

As we wrapped up our time in Africa, I looked back over some of my old journal entries and found a few that I would like to share. Today's is from March 16, 2003:

I was thinking a bit today about evangelism, especially in regard to a couple we have had the privilege of talking with lately, who are both seeking. I know there is so much bad evangelism in the world today, but I wonder what makes up good evangelism. I think the key is not necessarily that you have to know so much about your faith, but rather that you have to believe it. It is only then that you can encourage people to seek truth.

No one is going to be offended by being encouraged to seek truth, because it still respects their right to decide for themselves what they believe truth is. It respects their ability to reason. It prevents you from coming across as if you think you know better than they do. People know, deep down, that they were created for a purpose, even if they aren't sure what that purpose is. This means they know (at least on some level) that they have value, even when they don't always feel like it.

Traditional evangelism, in which we tell others what they need (Jesus), how to get it (prayer, repentance, relationship), and when they need it (now- or maybe yesterday), may certainly work in some situations. But it assumes they want to know our views, and may give the impression that we think we know more than them or are smarter than they are. Far too often, although we have the best of intentions, this pushes people away. It leaves too much opportunity for us to come across as bossy, self-righteous, or condescending. There is too much chance that our human way of doing things (which is often woefully inadequate), will get in the way of the Gospel.

But, if we believe Jesus Christ as truth, we can encourage others to seek truth, all the while knowing that God is faithful to draw truth-seekers to Him.

Sometimes people will ask what you believe, and of course we should use every opportunity to share our Christian faith. But oftentimes I have come into contact with people who aren't really looking for yet another opinion or belief- they want fact. They want truth. They want Jesus, even if they don't know it yet. If they seek truth, they will find Him.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

As Long As We Both Have Breath

As we wrapped up our time in Africa, I looked back over some of my old journal entries and found a few that I would like to share. Today's is from March 5, 2010:
Today we had the opportunity to swim at the edge of Victoria Falls. Literally at the edge (see photo):

This is the only time you will likely ever see me in a bathing suit. I feel it is crucial to the integrity of the story (sound familiar?). Moving on...

I kept marveling at how much water was going over the falls- they are more that 1.7 kilometers long, and 100 meters or so to the bottom. The river was high, and massive amounts of water rushed over the edge of the cliff. It seemed like so much, but in reality it only fills the Zambezi River. It reminded me of God's power, but I was completely struck when I realized this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of water He flooded the earth with when Noah built the ark!

I was so glad to see this sight with Josh. If he hadn't been there, my experience would not have been complete. Several years ago, a young friend became a widow when her husband was killed in an accident. I cried and grieved for her, but the magnitude of her loss didn't hit me until a month or so later. As I was staring out at the game refuge behind my parent's house, the wind was blowing the long grass, making it look like waves in a green sea. It was so peaceful and perfect; the only thing that could have made it better was for Josh to be there to share it.

Then it hit me: she would never again share any experience with her husband, even those precious everyday moments that we take for granted. I grieved for her in a whole new way.

I always love Josh, but I don't always like him : ) Of course, I say this tongue-in-cheek, but those of you who are married know exactly what I mean. Remembering this story reminds me of how blessed I am to have him on loan from God, and that I need to cherish every day. We aren't guaranteed even another breath... I am certain my friend would sacrifice almost anything to have more time with her husband. Leaving his clothes on the floor or not taking out the trash would seem inconsequential. I pray I remember that, too, while we both still have breath.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Attitude is Nine-Tenths of the Law

As we wrapped up our time in Africa, I looked back over some of my old journal entries and found a few that I would like to share. Today's is from February 23, 2010:

We are trying to straddle so many areas of life at once right now. We are trying to wrap up ministry and leave relationships in a good place. We are planning our overland trip. We are packing. We are trying to take care of grad school and housing and jobs for home. At times I feel like my head is just spinning.

Through all this change, Lord, help me to focus on you, and to know that everything here on earth is temporary.
“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered-how fleeting my life is.
You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
At best, each of us is but a breath.”
-Psalm 39: 4-5

Today in “Streams in the Desert,” it says

“Every difficulty and every temptation that comes our way, if we receive it correctly, is God'sopportunity.”

That's a thought-provoking idea, and one that should liberated us from fear of difficulty and temptation. But, the clear stipulation is that you have to receive it in the right way. I am not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds like it has a lot to do with attitude. I pray I can grow to have a learning attitude towards trials and challenges, because they are always going to be a part of life.

Monday, April 19, 2010


As we wrapped up our time in Africa, I looked back over some of my old journal entries and found a few that I would like to share. Today's is from January 24, 2010:
What is the value of a life lived for oneself? At best, you can impact one life-your own. But a life lived with the purpose of glorifying God by serving and loving others has the potential to change the world.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Joy to the World

As we wrapped up our time in Africa, I looked back over some of my old journal entries and found a few that I would like to share. Today's is from December 5, 2009:

Tonight [at camp] we watched a skit on Creation. In it, the soundtrack said that man was created on the 6th day, with a purpose to make babies and enjoy God's creation. As believers, I have to imagine there was more to it than that, and we are to share the Gospel, love others, and glorify God.

But what if that is what we were truly created for?I know it was before the Fall, but might God still want these to be a part of our lives? Like a significant part?

How many people do I know that I think of as joyful? I know people whom I consider to be industrious, gracious, successful, faithful, sensitive, and a million other positive adjectives, but very few who I would describe as joyful. In fact, if I think of the top 3 characteristics (as I perceive them) of people I know, not many are joy. This should not be considered a negative reflection on them; rather, I think they may be a representative cross-section of our culture. Is it culturally motivated? I don't know. It certainly doesn't seem to be a priority in our society.

Another possibility is that it has to do with me. No, I am not suggesting that the mere circumstance of knowing me strips one of one's joy. However, it may be that I don't know how to recognize joy. I wouldn't say it is one of my 3 primary characteristics, or even my top 10. If this is what we are created for, that's a scary thought.

Maybe it is a result of sin being in the world...that sin would rob us of our joy doesn't seem far-fetched.

Are we really even sure of how to define joy? Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that if it is what God created us for, I want more of it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

“We can do no great things, just small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.” - Mother Theresa

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

“You are worthy, O Lord our God,
To receive glory and honor and power.
For you created all things,
and they exist because you created what you pleased.”

- Revelation 4:11

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

“No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.” - Oswald Chambers

Monday, April 12, 2010

“I will never fail you; I will never abandon you.” - Hebrews 13:5

Sunday, April 11, 2010

“The deepest desire of our hearts is for union with God. God created us for union with himself. This is the original purpose of our lives.” -Brennan Manning

Saturday, April 10, 2010

“Charity wins awards and applause. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order.” - Shane Claiborne

Friday, April 9, 2010

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” - Philippians 3:8-11

Thursday, April 8, 2010

“We, too, have been freed- freed to serve God without looking over our shoulders to see if He is glaring at us with suppressed hostility, freed to offer ourselves as servants, and freed to accept the commission.” - Jim McGuiggan

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

“Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks.”-
Phillips Brooks

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” - Nelson Mandela

Monday, April 5, 2010

“I am alone, surrounded by unbelieving activists and inactive believers. Where are the true Christians?” -Shane Claiborne

I am pretty sure this is not the way it was in the Acts church.

This Is No Sacrifice

We are home in the States, safe and sound.

Even though I have quotes set to continue to load every day for the near future, I felt a pull to post today. After all, this post needs to come on Easter...

Today, as I was sitting at Josh's parents house, I was thinking about Easter and all that it means. It seems that with all of the traveling and reacquainting and settling in and jet lag (we slept 15 hours on Saturday!!!), I have hardly had time to focus on God this weekend. I know most people use "not enough time" as a lame excuse, but I am completely serious and literal about it right now

Of course, that just isn't good enough. It is in these times that we must push ourselves to make time, and to show God that He is our priority.

Everyone goes on about the sacrifices Josh and I have made this last year- being away from family & friends, living in a brutal climate, acclimating to a new culture, etc. And yes, while the last year has been a blessing and privilege in many ways, it has also been a sacrifice. As a result of our decision to be obedient to God's calling on our lives, our families and friends have also had to sacrifice. It has been a challenge for us all.

But when considering "sacrifice", the term is somewhat relative. Relative to the cushy American lifestyle of TV, internet, personal vehicles, homes with multiple bedrooms, vacations, fast food, etc., our choice might look somewhat significant. But this weekend we celebrate God's sacrifice, when He gave His only Son to die for our sins. On a cross; a criminal's death. He was perfect and had done no wrong, but He suffered the consequences of my sin. He died for the salvation of the whole world, but He would have done it for any one of us.

That's real sacrifice. That is the measure against which I want to model my life. To know that my life is no sacrifice, because it isn't really mine at all.

Our dear friend Britt taught a song (by Jason Upton) that has really resonated with me this past year. The chorus says:

"Your thoughts are higher than mine
and your words are deeper than mine.
Your love is stronger than mine.
This is no sacrifice; here's my life."
People often ask us if we will return to Africa. The reality is that we just aren't sure. At this point, it seems that God may be leading us back there, but all the details are hazy and incomprehensible, so really nothing official to report. What I do know is this: I pray God will give us the courage and strength to obey His call, no matter what it might be- whenever, wherever, however. It is terrifying, especially given the fact that we know God may call us to things that are a little different than for most. But what is my life for, if not to do His will? There is nothing I can do to repay Jesus for His mercy, love, generosity, and selflessness. As I see it, all I have to give Him is everything that I am.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

“Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws; our hearts desire is to glorify your name.” - Isaiah 26:8

Saturday, April 3, 2010

“Although it seems safe and logical to be in charge of your life, being in charge becomes a heavy, lonely responsibility. Your Father graciously offers to take your life, protect you, strengthen you, and comfort you on your journey. You need not fear relinquishment for it leads to freedom, security, and the real you.” - Cynthia Heald

Friday, April 2, 2010

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, April 1, 2010

“The place where God calls you is where your deep gladness and the world’s great hunger meet.” - Frederick Buechner

If all goes according to plan, we should be on an airplane heading home today. Please pray for protection and guidance. We are so excited to see our loved ones at home!!!