Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deanna, the Wild Blackberry Picker (and baker), extraordinaire...

Last year when I was in Africa, and traveled through Kenya and Uganda, I had an encounter with a young woman whose situation has moved me deeply.

I was actually preparing to fly home, and as I was waiting for my flight in the Entebbe airport, a young woman struck up a conversation with me.

Her name is Emily. She is from Australia. She was 23 at the time, and today she turns 25.

As we traded questions, she learned of our journey, and I learned of hers. I gave her a copy of our book, and she was moved by BJ's story.

Her story is one of radical obedience as well!

At 23 (now 25), she is running an orphanage in Jinja, Uganda! She oversees an entire staff and meets the needs of the parent-less of that area! I struggled to fathom the responsibility she carried! So many depending on her for so much! I was overwhelmed.

When God is in control of your life, your age does not matter! He can accomplish great things through you! He has huge plans for you, and is interceding for you... even now!

For those like BJ and Emily, who recognize this, they walk in His power, and strike awe into those of us who had to learn this at a much older age.

I often wonder how different our world would be if each believer, embraced the opportunities the Lord set before them.

I am inspired by passion! I am moved by the passion of those who get it early, and live it, daily!

They are the true movers and shakers for a mighty God! They refuse to accept traditional wisdom about when they are allowed to make a difference. They embrace the gifting the Lord has given them, and pour it all out at His feet! They are not waiting to get into His heavenly presence to do so, they are doing it now, everyday, and changing lives by their obedience!!!

I love that! I am stirred at their passion! I weep at their understanding! I hunger to see more of us, regardless of age, do likewise.

The eternity of a lost world can be changed by a few willing witnesses.

What would happen, if there were more than a few?

Those who learn to deny themselves for His glory, will usher in the King of kings!

I don't want to be caught on the sidelines!


Friday, June 25, 2010

my wed twuck at the fawm...

What an incredible week or two it's been!!! God has been preparing the hearts of students and leaders for an incredible journey on the mission field!

I have been working with both to help them be ready to serve. They have all just arrived in their country of ministry, and are anxious to get started! Some are on the road or in the air as I write, heading from airport to ministry cities!

As I've said before, if one could measure the warfare from the enemy as an indicator of the magnitude of the Glory that will be brought to our Savior, then incredible things are coming for Him, this summer!!! He is such a mighty God! These teams fight FROM His victory!!!

You can follow their journeys by visiting www.awestar.org and clicking on the "trip updates" bar. Please join me in lifting them up over the course of the summer.

Deanna and I continue to be humbled at how many students surrender to GO as a result of the work God does in their hearts, through reading, I Would Die for You. We serve an amazing Savior.

It will be very different for me this year, as I work in the office, rather than being on the field all summer. I will take a team to Panama in late July for 10 days, but this feels a bit strange. However, I know I need the rest, and am thankful for it.

There is just nothing like watching the love of Christ become the life of students. Nothing else compares to it. Being completely surrendered allows us to see Him work in incredible ways.

Far too many of us live mediocre Christian lives with the expectation that He should greatly bless our meager existence. No question, He does bless, but those blessings are often to encourage us to sink more deeply into His life, not to answer our presumptive expectations.

He is worthy of total surrender.

The significance of life in Him is seen in far greater ways for those who leave all else for Him.

If our knuckles are to be discolored, let it be from battling for Him, not sickening white from a tight grip on the world.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Deanna picking and eating berries at our hunting farm/lease.

My heart is broken for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the process of, or have recently gotten divorced. It is not my intent in any way to judge any who might have found themselves in this situation. Rather, I am angry at the enemy for having such a field day in the lives of my Christian siblings and their children. However, we are not without fault.

Yesterday, my pastor preached on this timely subject. He covered nearly every passage of Scripture that deals with divorce.

The bottom line is, marriage is intended to be relationship. Relationship stops happening when one or both begin seeking to have their own selfish desires met without communicating well with the other.

This is true of our relationship with Christ as well. And this relationship is to be the model for the marital one.

Every story is different. There are varying benchmarks for failure in every relationship. Unfortunately, the only one that is completely covered by His grace is the one with Him.

We do not extend grace to one another as we should. We each reach the breaking point at a different intersection.

We grow apart while living together.

How does this happen? What does it say about our relationship with Christ, when breaking the bonds of our marriage is more attractive or more of a relief than battling through side by side.

As I look around me at some of the marriages that are failing, I wonder, why Deanna and I still together? What we have endured is certainly different than what others are going through, but we have fought hard to seek Jesus, and to love and serve each other.

I am far from a "great" husband. It seems she has had to do more than her share of compromising. Still, according to our frequent conversations, I feel like our marriage is thriving. We give glory to our Father in Heaven, as we are very broken vessels and I tend to be selfish to boot! We lean on each other. We talk to each other. We hang together and love doing so. We "play" together in areas of similar 'likes,' and "play" apart on others.

I believe it works because we are seeking Him. That sounds like I am saying others aren't... and I know that not to be true. What is true, is that when personal selfishness overtakes time investment in relationship with Jesus, failure results. Sometimes on a grand scale, and sometimes its less obvious.

I am overwhelmed at the grandiose scheme of failure in Christian circles in just the last couple of years.

Who wins? The divorcees don't. The children don't. Extended families don't. Certainly Jesus doesn't. THE ENEMY DOES!

None who get divorced intend to trample on their witness for Christ. I do wonder though, how many who end their marriages, do so because they do not truly understand who they are in Christ?!

So many times, one partner does and one doesn't.

In a world of immediate gratification, who can wait upon the Lord? Apparently, 50% or less of believers.

If we didn't serve a God of mercy and grace, more of us would burn for our even greater failure in keeping relationship with our Savior.

Every person is important to Him. Our heartbreak is His heartbreak. At some point, we need to be responsible for what He has entrusted to us.

I must be sure I am doing all I can to serve my Lord, then my wife and then others. Any other order, brings about great potential for failure.

Please pray with me for our brothers and sisters who are facing this ugly venture in their lives.


I begin training our summer leadership then teams, tomorrow through next week. This will likely be my last writing until late June. The team Deanna and I were to lead to Asia had to be canceled for various reasons. The Lord had already raised up the leaders for our other trips, so I will be home this summer, except for a Panama team I lead July 25 - August 1. My daughter Lauren is leading our Peru team (her first trip to the land and people her brother loved so much).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Deanna and my sister Lynae

A very good friend of mine is getting ready to head to the mission field for a two to three year tour. She is heading to one of those countries in a Muslim land that we cannot mention.

She is gifted in building relationships with the women of that and other cultures. While at her University, I have seen her befriend and spend much time with non-believing women, in an effort to share truth with them. She has done so.

She does this with such love and grace that these women long for more time with her. When one is around others who shows the true heart of our Savior, they are drawn in by the uncommon display of true caring.

Too many cast judgment, and cause these same people to feel they have no right to be here. The way some look down on them is hurtful... both to the unbeliever and to the witness they are supposed to be for Jesus.

My friend stands out in our society, because she cares, like Jesus. She loves like Jesus. She makes a difference for Jesus.

She leaves our culture with minor apprehension about what is ahead. Of course she is nervous. She knows she may never return. It doesn't matter. She has been on the journey of her calling for many years. What is important to her is Jesus. Because of this, she willing walks where others will never go.

There is no doubt in my mind that she will impact the kingdom for Him. She already has! She has done more for our Savior than most will do in their lifetime. Because she cares... about Him, His desire, His will, and their lostness.

Should she be afforded the poverty of returning, she will no doubt have stories that others will struggle to believe.

I have seen her make a difference in my own ministry. Her wisdom exceeds her youth... because of her Christ-likeness. She has a strong grasp on the needs of others, believers and non. She tends to those needs, because her godly mother was a wonderful example... of Jesus.

She lost her mother when she was 14. Through such a dark time, a loving father helped her carry on.

She left her University to come and work along side me and other staff. She changed to a part time student to work in missions and lead teams. It was just one more leg of her journey... to follow Jesus! She learned much, but she taught much. She sharpened the iron in many lives.

Her new life will be very different from her current one... except that she will be following Jesus.

I wonder who will take her place? Who will pour into the lives of those who have been blessed to know her for a season. Who will deny their own desires and follow Him, because He calls them to, not because it is the cool thing to do? Who when suddenly thrust into the spotlight, will point to Jesus, and bow out of His way?

My life will be harder, because I will not have her nearby. Though barely older than the students she served, she has taught me much. My life is better for having worked with her, ministered beside her, and led teams to multiple countries as her partner.

I Praise God for you KK! I will miss you more than you can possibly know! You are one of my heroes of the faith!!! I stand among a great cloud of witnesses in awe of your radical obedience... to a mighty God! I will forever praise Him... beside you.

I am proud of you!

Godspeed my friend!


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Whitney with her dog, Sig

We had a blessed time with family and friends in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee over last week! It was a joy to be with each of them.

I am stirred deeply by real passion. Simultaneously, I struggle to understand those who seem to lack it.

I believe we were created as people of passion. Passion gets us into trouble when self-control is on hiatus.

Titus 2:11-14 says: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."

If I'm honest, I am eager to do what is "good" for ME. I am not equally enthused to do what is "good" according to his Word.

I am not alone. When I look around, others who claim to be believers focus on gathering around them the things and comforts deemed important, individually. I see few who are radical or passionate about fulfilling the obedience we are each called to.

Much of the time, we are creating disciples for the things in life we love. For some reason we can replicate interest in things unimportant far more easily than moving people to serve as He did.

This has something to do with the gratification that comes from filling our flesh. It happens immediately, but is very short lived. Then we plan for the next moment we can imbibe. Short term gratification produces long term dissatisfaction.

Only Jesus slakes the thirst that lust seeks to entertain.

Too often, real passion for Him only gets stirred on the heels of loss or significant conviction.

Few of us allow significant conviction to happen in our lives. We hold firmly to the things we consider dear... even at the cost of disobedience to the One who died for us.

I must allow Him to eviscerate the pursuits from my life that produce an impotent warrior.