Thursday, June 30, 2011

The office is quiet.

I don't like it.

Teams have dispersed around the world. All are on the field but a couple of us. Those who usually make the most noise, are out serving.

It can be hard to feel you are a part of things when you are in a quiet office and the people you interact with are already believers.

Perhaps I should welcome the noise reduction. There is an edge of pleasantry to it.

Nope, I like the din of activity.

This is not too dissimilar from transitioning to a suddenly empty nest.

Deanna and I do enjoy the time we have together each day, but miss the sudden eruptions and volatility that children tend to bring to our current solitude.

It's quiet at home. It's quiet in the office.

With all the noiselessness, I should be able to get a lot done.

It's not happening. Apparently I need the noise to be productive.

Perhaps that is why I stayed up past midnight a couple of nights ago, driving my bride crazy, while discovering the 'noise' some of the apps on my phone will make. She kept laughing at me and telling me it was time to go to sleep. I wanted more noise. I still do.

Sometimes I am desperate to hear the noise of his perpetual conversations. It's coming up on six years, and it seems like we lost him yesterday. I just cannot believe it. I am inspired by his surrender. I long for him to lean on me again and call me "Poppy."

There were times it was just noise to me. Not any more.

When I reread his words, I hear his voice. It stirs something in me. A longing that has consumed too many seasons without expression.

To many, he is a face on a book alongside Macchu Picchu. An inspiration for a song never released. An example of 'how we should then live.'

To me, he is memory, and unforeseen dreams. A twinkle only relevant to a few. A longing deep within me that elicits unanticipated emotion. A joy. A searing pain. Love.

To my Savior, he is a warrior. A "kernel of wheat." An ever present worshipper. A love worth dying for.

It's too quiet.

I miss him.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Huaraz, Peru

I just finished two weeks of training students and leaders who are now on the field.
It was an amazing journey, and filled with His encouragement!

I am so thankful for the young men and women the Lord has allowed me to come alongside. Seeing their passion for His heart is such a deep blessing. It brings me such a sense of God's pleasure.

It can get discouraging watching brothers and sisters fall. Encouraging them to get back up and walk out obedience to Him is much of where my passion lies.

I know His heart is full when we take His Great Commission seriously, whether it is across the street or across an ocean.

In the last 24 hours, teams have landed in Peru, Latvia and Cambodia. Warriors are taking the Gospel to South America, Europe and Asia. You can follow their journeys by visiting and clicking on trip updates.

Last week, I had the privilege of talking to a couple of missionary kids in Central Asia! They live in a country we'd consider hostile. Hearing their hearts, and finding out what was important to them was such an encouragement!

They spoke of everything from their opportunities to share Truth with people to the animals that reside in the countryside nearby. They are 11 and 13. One of them is reading our book and was excited to be able to have a conversation via skype.

They understand the Gospel and the importance of sharing it in ways many of us do not. They live a half hour from harms way. They are around those who do not believe, everyday. The people group they live among, follow Islam. Imagine trying to find encouragement as a believer when you live among those whose family members are put to death for receiving Christ as their Savior!

These young people are heroes to me! They have spent half of their lives or more in a foreign land. Their very existence is fulfilling the call on each of our lives... to go and make disciples!

Apart from geography, they are just like young people here. However, their world view is far more informed than most. They understand the desperation of making Him known. They also know families who have lost loved ones through "honor killings" and other incomprehensible means.

I just received follow up email messages from them.

What an incredible God we serve, that we can bless and encourage hearts across oceans, who believe, but have no "body" to fellowship with!

His kingdom is advanced, each time we encourage another. Of course, it can be hard to encourage if we are empty ourselves. We need to press hard into our Savior, and as He spills into us, we can slop some on another!

Go forth and slop!


Monday, June 13, 2011

People of Cambodia assemble to hear the Truth of Jesus.

The time has come again.

I begin training our leaders for our summer teams this week. It is an intensive time of teaching, where 14 or 15 of us come together and have everything in common. We eat, worship, pray, study and fellowship, all day long. The leaders even sleep under the church roof, so they truly come out from the world and are separate (for a season).

It is such a sweet time together! I am very thankful for godly young people who have a passion for Jesus. They stand out in their circles of friends, and are not ashamed of the Gospel.

These are 20 somethings who would rather talk about Christ than the pleasures of the world. I do love their hearts!

This weekend we will all head to train and receive the rest of the teams in Dallas. It is a bit strange to not be heading overseas. The team Deanna and I were to lead, had to be canceled, due to low student numbers.

Our other three teams are heading to Cambodia, Latvia, and Peru. None of them are full. However, we know the Lord will use their surrendered lives to impact the lost of those lands!

I will be handling administrative duties, stateside. Hardly the 'sweetspot' of missions, but a needed role, nonetheless.

I would appreciate your prayer support for our teams! We also have several church group teams, and then a final 10 day team of our own, all heading to Panama.

Whether you are heading across the street or across an ocean, please remember to pray and to speak the Truth of Jesus, no matter the cost to you.

The blessing you receive in your obedience will eclipse the nervousness you have in opening your mouth. He will help you. Just be obedient.

Thank you for praying!!!


Monday, June 06, 2011

Mekong River, Cambodia

Doing disaster relief can bring the lives of victims under closer scrutiny than ever anticipated.

This can be good, bad and/or a growing experience.

I was made aware of a story of one clean-up participant that arrived on site of a victim, as instructions were being given to those volunteering.

He felt compelled to skip the briefing and head onto the property to scope out what remained. As he did so, he came across a bag and several individual copies of an adult men's magazine.

Most of the volunteers being briefed were students. Realizing the potential "fall from grace" this Christian homeowner might experience if these things were discovered, he quickly gathered them up and made a trip deep into a dumpster to bury them from sight.

Out of sight is not always out of mind.

The recounting of this story, caused me to take inventory of my own life. Were my home visited by those wishing to help, would they find things ungodly?

Is my heart filled with pockets of deception that I foolishly think are hidden from His view?

This volunteer's story captured me in a unique way.

Was his action the right thing to do? Certainly, he protected young impressionable eyes from lustful possibilities. He also protected an already hurting Christian man from embarrassment.

However, it's apparent that conviction needs to take place. Or perhaps it had, but the remnant had not been eliminated. The promise of sin lingers when the house has not been cleaned.

It could also be that the finder needed to take a look at his own life, and relinquish control of abscesses in his own heart.

Regardless, I must be sure that my life is not marked by such filth.

Some time back, I relayed a story of when I was young, and was playing hide and seek and stumbled upon a neighbor's stash of similar magazines. This memory always makes me feel dirty... like I need a shower. This volunteer relayed similar sentiments.

A man's mind is a battlefield, and the enemy fights hard to stake claims in the recesses held within.

This makes us easy targets for such foolishness.

I need to be sure my own house is clean. I need to pray for the men in this writing, that their hearts are submitted to cleansing.

It's easy to judge, and and harder to surrender.

There is great reason to say, "I surrender all!"


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Deanna and I spent this past Saturday helping our friends clean up the wreckage that is their home (from the tornado). The picture in my last entry just begins to show the reality of the devastation.

Their home and possessions are virtually a total loss. The power required for this level of destruction is incomprehensible!

As my friend Steve covered his fiancee (Pam) with his body he was praying aloud. As he prayed his house disintegrated around him. His account of the saga, proved early info I received, inaccurate.

He peered out a window, with no warning of the twister. What he saw probably still haunts him.

The lake he's fished for years was aswirl from ground to sky. He moved to another window and saw a debris cloud swirling around as his house began to creek and come apart. He grabbed Pam and they ran for the hall. He pushed her down and fell on top of her, using his slightly raised hand and arm to protect his head.

His house went in every direction. As he turned his head for a view back, a piece of guttering slammed into his wrist. Blood began to pour.

He covered his head and lay until the tornado passed.

When they got up, they saw the only section of roof intact was over their heads.

He soaked through three towels as he tried to stop the bleeding. An ambulance finally arrived and carried him to help.

The day we were there, each former home, had many people working in it's yard. Most were church groups. At Steve's two church groups worked alongside of us for hours, cleaning up the debris.

Numerous other groups stopped by to offer food our assembled group of nearly 50. We were already fed, by those who planned ahead!

We were overwhelmed at loving, giving spirit of those who were present!

I am thankful for a God who gives, and takes away. We are often reminded of what is truly important in life. Steve and Pam were/are thankful to be alive. The stuff is just stuff. They know they didn't need it, and have amazing attitudes about starting over!

When things get difficult, who we really are gets tested, and surfaces.

I was thankful to stand by my friend who kept giving glory to God!

Thank you Lord for how you minister in our hearts! Thank you for allowing us to try and do likewise!