With intense interest I watched the events unfold on CNN and BBC this morning as Saddam Hussein was executed. Then, the video of him being led to the gallows and the noose being placed around his neck. Afterwards, his body, laid out in a sheet, with his neck elongated. Dead. But even worse: lost.
They said he went to his death with the Koran in his hand and shouted out "Allahu Akbar" moments before his death. Now, he knows the truth. The tragedy is that he never "knew" the Truth before it was too late. For His name is not Allah. It is Jehovah. It is Yahweh. It is "I AM".
As this tyrant refused multitudes of people basic human rights, he went to the gallows as a common criminal. As he acted as a demigod on earth, so he will now bow to the King of Kings in the after-life. Hussein has eternal life (of sorts); it just happens to be outside of the presence of God. And that is for eternity.
On earth, he deserved what he got; after death, we all deserve the same. But God has demonstrated His love for us, while that were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us. I am no different from Saddam Hussein except that God has reconciled me to Himself through Jesus.
Thanks be to God, who is indeed great.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
With intense interest I watched the events unfold on CNN and BBC this morning as Saddam Hussein was executed. Then, the video of him being led to the gallows and the noose being placed around his neck. Afterwards, his body, laid out in a sheet, with his neck elongated. Dead. But even worse: lost.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
How in the world can it be the end of another year? I remember back when it turned to 1970. I decided that I was going to go honk the car horn 70 times. At about 35 honks, my grandpa came out and put a stop to my personal celebration. Of course, that was WAY before car alarms which honk way more than 70 times when a trash truck goes by, right?
Now, 36 years later, we come to the end of yet another year. Reflecting on the events of this year, I'm not sure how to rate this year. We had a lot of transition. We moved to yet ANOTHER country and started yet ANOTHER new language. There is LOTS of stress related to moving to a new country. The kids have had trouble adjusting to the school. We have had trouble adjusting to our new lives here.
It hasn't been a particularly spectacular year in the "Main Thing". I think I have been faithful to share with many people, but I don't recall actually leading anyone to the Lord this year. There have been many times with large seed broadcasting, but no "one-on-one" experiences, other than sharing with folks. I have seen my kids faithful to share with others, and that makes me very happy. I console myself with knowing that God calls us to faithfulness and He will bring folks to Himself in His time. I question and challenge myself with making sure that I am as faithful as I can be. A missionary (or anyone else, for that matter) doesn't "save" anyone; that is the job of the Holy Spirit. It is my job to share with people and be available to be used by God.
It has been a particularly discouraging year. As I said before, my kids have had a hard time adjusting to our new situation and their new school. My wife has battled with severe migraines and more recently chronic pain that required minor surgery. Unfortunately, the effects of the surgery hasn't been all that we had hoped and she has only seen minor improvements. We have had many personal crises with our family back in the States, from aging parents, a grandmother basically going blind, a nephew in prison, another nephew divorced, a young brother-in-law suffering a stroke, and most recently, the "burning-to-the-ground" of my childhood home. Above all, and through all, I can honestly say that "God is faithful" and He has not forsaken us nor has He left us. But, through these difficulties, He has been faithful to love and support us either by His Spirit, or by the extended family He has provided in the Church.
Perhaps one of the most significant things that happened, in a personal way, this year was that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and am now using a CPAP machine to breath at night. For the first time in years, I am dreaming and I actually feel rested. Previously, I was sleep deprived and was becoming (as I'm sure my wife could testify) quite the cranky old man. Now, I can concentrate all my efforts in just being crotchety! ;-)
There have been many, many blessings this year as well. We have been blessed with a very nice, "biggish" flat in our new city. Generally, my family's health has been good and we have made it through the year with only my wife's surgery as a hospitalization. In fact, one of my kids has asthma, and since moving to our new country, they have weaned them self off the asthma medicine and is doing very well. My kids are making friends here and are getting along better in school.
Now then, with all this said and written, what are my goals for next year?
I will to continue to be faithful to share with folks as God brings the opportunities;
I will finish language school;
I will begin the work for which we moved to this new country;
I will be a better husband by spending less time on the computer;
I will be a better father by spending more quality time with the kids;
I will be a good son by writing my folks at least once a week;
I will be a good friend by being available to those in need;
I will be a good colleague by not complaining and being willing to do what is needed;
I will loose weight by exercising and following a sensible diet;
I will be less crotchety (God help me);
I will be a better adopted son of the Most High by spending quality time with Him and being who I know He wants me to be.
May God bless you for a Happy, Healthy, Blessed 2007!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
This is to Dorcas:
I don't know what changes you made to your blog, but I am locked out. I created a Wordpress account just so I could log into your blog, but it won't let me. Please let me read your stuff; I like what you have to say.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
For Southern Baptists, this is the height of the push for giving to missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. For those of you who are not SB, let me tell you what a good thing we got going!
About 100 years ago, there was a little bitty 4 foot nothing woman named Lottie Moon who was a missionary in China. She heard that Methodists were collecting an offering for missions and thought that Southern Baptists could collect more. She challenged a group of women back in the States to take up an offering specifically for missions. The tradition began.
Now, it accounts for somewhere around 40% of the budget of the International Mission Board. The rest of the budget comes from a really cool thing we call the "Cooperative Program". It is where SB churches from all over the US voluntarily contribute part of their weekly offering to support things like the IMB, the mission board in the US (called the North American Mission Board), seminaries, and some of our other denominational organizations. Part of the budget also comes from endowments and investments.
What it essentially does for us, the IMB missionaries, is provide our salary, our housing, our health insurance, our transportation needs, our logistical support on the field and in the US, continued training, retreats, meetings, and a whole lot more that I can't seem to remember right now.
In any case, you, even though you may or may not be Southern Baptist, have an opportunity to contribute to this missions offering. You can mail your check to:
International Mission Board
3806 Monument Ave
PO Box 6767
Richmond, VA 23230-0767
Or you can give online at: http://resources.imb.org/index.cfm/fa/store.prod/ProdID/256.cfm
Do something special with your giving this year. Make an eternal impact. Give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. You'll be glad you did.
For those of you who are SB, thank you for your generous, faithful, continued support through the LMCO and through your regular giving throug the CP. We really, really appreciate it and find it an honor being "your" missionaries. May God bless you this Christmas season!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I finally heard something from someone in my home church about their pastor passing away. It was actually a response to the prayer request for my wife's surgery. In any case, I was quite saddened/alarmed to hear that the church hasn't yet ordered any Lottie Moon Offering promotional material and was wondering whether or not the offering would be "worthy" this year.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
I have a conflict going on in this pea-brain of mine. It is one that is embarrasing, but it is there nontheless.
The pastor of my home church, back in the Greatest State in the Union died today.
I did not really know him. He came to my church since we have been overseas. I confess that I wasn't fond of him, for he didn't have "any use for missions" and he sure didn't appear to like us. Our last stateside assignment, I tried to find a time with him where I could speak to our home church. He said that he wasn't really sure when that would happen, because he didn't foresee a time when he would need pulpit supply in the next several months of Sunday nights! Our first Sunday back in our home church during stateside assignment, he didn't even acknowledge our presence in the morning service, despite a personal introduction a few days before and greeting him before the service. (not that I needed acknowledgement, but it was my home church and it isn't all that big; it was an obvious breech of protocol, noticed by all) He polarized the church in that you either loved him or you hated him. He alienated most of the older members of the church, focusing on younger families. While focusing on families is fine, you simply cannot neglect the majority of the church.
My conflict is this: I am sorry he died. I am happy that the church will be getting a new pastor.
I feel bad over this conflict. I feel bad for his wife and extended family. I feel bad for the members of my church who are hurting.
I also feel bad that the church has been without any kind of a mission emphasis for quite a few years now. I feel bad that many church members have quit going to that church because they didn't like the pastor. I feel bad that many members feel like they haven't had a pastor, but only a preacher, for the past several years.
I am not happy he is dead. But, I know that he is in the presence of the King right now.
I don't really know what I should be feeling. I guess that is why I am deeply conflicted.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Without divulging too much personal information, I need to request prayer again for my family. My wife will have surgery this weekend to determine the cause of constant pain she has been having.
Our request is that the doctors would be able to completely take care of the problem DURING this first surgery. If a second surgery is indicated, recovery time would take up to six months.
Thank you for your prayers.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I was reminded tonight of how we must be very careful of the words we say. Even in jest. You might not know what someone is going through and your clever words, meant to delight, can have just the opposite effect and cause embarrassment and a heavy heart. This is especially so overseas, because EVERYTHING is exacerbated and exaggerated.
We know that "many a truth have been spoken in jest", so the receiver of the words ponders what he has done to justify the harangue. If the receiver is already feeling stressed or overwhelmed with circumstances, then they could very well spend the rest of the day trying to over-analyze the situation, when in fact, the speaker may have truly had something to say and just said it "wrong" or "too strong". I know, for I am usually guilty of trying to be cute and end up being hurtful. I got a taste of my own medicine tonight at a dinner meeting.
It is certainly no big deal, but I am sure pondering the implications that my own words have on others when I am trying to be the center of attention or when I think I am being clever or when I think about a split-second after I have spoken.
It is bitter medicine; but it is good medicine.
This is for me:
Eph 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (NASB)
Thursday, November 02, 2006
First of all, I want to thank all of you who have prayed for us. We really appreciate your prayers. When you pray for us, you join us in our ministry and share a portion of it.
Second, I can say that we can honestly see a difference since you have prayed. One thing that you need to realize is since we didn't recognize this as a spiritual attack for so long, there are some wounds that now need to heal. Attitudes have been affected; relationships have been altered. However, we feel the major portion of the attack has been stopped.
Our children have been at the center of this attack and they seem to be doing better, but we still have a long way to go. Another thing being attacked was my family while I was away each week on business. Since the prayers started, I can say that this last week was the first week without a major "incident" in three months!
Thank you for your prayers; please don't cease to pray!
Monday, October 30, 2006
My family has been under intense spiritual attack for the past 3 months or so. We have finally recognized it as such. We thought we were just having a series of incredibly bad days, but my wife's mother called it for what it was and now we are able to pray against it.
Will you please join in prayer for me and my family? We could really use the relief.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
John 10:10a "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; (NASB)
Utter discouragement. Profound despair. Spiritual attacks. Seemingly endless gloom. "Deep dark depression; excessive misery". (in the words of the Hee-Haw crew)
Not exactly a pretty picture. Certainly not the picture of a "spiritual" "holy" "chosen" "missionary". That makes it even that much more discouraging.
Missionaries are people, too. We don't get a special dispensation of holiness or strength; well, I least I didn't. Some seem to have, at times. Living overseas only exacerbates and amplifies any attacks of depression and discouragement.
Doubt creeps in. Satan attacks your children and they say just the right things to make you question your own call. Satan attacks your spouse and she ends up feeling useless or discouraged or both. Satan attacks you and you feel like giving up.
I remember my first year on the field in a very difficult situation. I was shaving one morning and my oldest child came in and saw my face covered in shaving cream. Innocently, the statement was made, "Daddy, you look like a clown." I have never had such an innocent statement cut me so deeply. What was going on? I certainly didn't know at the time.
Satan can attack the most sacred of partnerships; your marriage. Not in the so obvious ways of immorality (although, for some, that has certainly been a problem), but in subtle ways, like building walls, or discontentment, or silly little arguments. Sure, this happens in the US, too, but overseas, EVERYTHING is amplified. Everything.
Satan will attack your sense of self; your qualifications, your talents, your abilities, your desires, your habits, your hobbies, your thoughts. Everything. Sure, this happens in the US, too, but overseas, EVERYTHING is amplified.
John 10:10b I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (NASB)
Praise be to God who gives His Son and His Spirit to give life, comfort, and direction.
"I will never leave you nor forsake you" - The special promise that I have from God that no matter what, it will be 'OK'.
Pray for us.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
My dear fellow SBC bloggers,
I have received several emails in the past week asking "who's side" I am on, that is, am I "for or against Wade Burleson".
I am on Jesus' side.
Please accept my declining to engage in political blogging on the basis that it, in my humble opinion, does not serve any real purpose but to divide.
To be honest, this whole "political thing" within the SBC is absolutely disgusting and quite discouraging. In the pathetic words of Rodney King, "Can we all just get along?"
Now then, how about everyone deciding today what you are going to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering this year. Then, go out and tell somebody about Jesus.
God bless you!
Pray for missions.
PS: This post is not "aimed" at anyone. There is no intention of offending anyone. If I somehow accidentally offended you, please accept my sincerest apologies.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Level 1 - Everyone knows you are a missionary. Your mom can freely proclaim it on any website or blog and you drive around in a 4x4 with "Mission Baptiste" or "Baptist Mission of Wales" or something like that. You sport a missionary visa in your passport and are asked by the local Baptist Convention to preach at various churches, give the commencement address at the Baptist Seminary graduation, etc. Your name can be listed on IMB "stuff". When you attend a Global Impact Conference (GIC), you get to use your real name and tell anything and everything about your work. You get letters from GA's, RA's and Little Blue Haired Ladies. (The life-line of missionary work, cause they actually pray for you!). Almost everyone was a Level 1 missionary until the non-resident missionary program. (some of you older timers correct me if I'm wrong here.) There aren't too many left in these last days.
Level 2 - Everyone knows you are a missionary. Well, probably. At least you don't advertise it, though. You live and work in an area, or with a people group that isn't necessarily excited about your being there. You start using silly substitute words in your emails back to Mama. You may still drive a 4x4, but your RL made you remove the magnetic signs on the doors. However, you have kept them for travel around the country, anyway, because "up country" there is still a "mystic" of the "holy man". You get an occasional letter from a missions group, but not very often. At least your name is still listed in the "Open Windows" so you can get prayed for by name on the Wednesday night closest to your birthday. You still get to use your real name at GIC's, but you hesitate to tell all about what you are doing overseas. You have to modify your blog or website to be careful about what you say. You give security a thought maybe once or twice a month, if that often. A great deal of field personnel are Level 2.
Level 3 - Everyone knows you are a missionary. Let's face it; to most people overseas, they think that if you are an American, you are a Christian. If you aren't a spy, then you must be a missionary. Some of our folks are fortunate and can get away with the "authorities" knowing that they are Christians, but, because they don't make too many "waves" or provide the government with a good excuse to "keep" you in country, you are allowed to stay with an infrequent interrogation by the local security bureau/agency. Others really have to work at a legitimate reason to get to stay in country. For many of our folks, it is extremely illegal to be a missionary in their country. So, they are teachers, or consultants, or specialists, or yada yada yada. After all:
Rom 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching?
Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!"
The next part should be, "And how can those who are sent continue to have access to the lost, unless they have a residence visa". (No, I'm NOT adding to the Word; just making a point) My point is most security level 3 folks spend an inordinate amount of time making sure they are able to keep the visa in their country. They must be constantly concerned with information security. Much of the time, it isn't necessarily for their own safety, but for the safety of local believers. These saints (the local believers) can be beaten and/or tortured for simply implied association with IMB personnel.
I have heard that there are several countries where the government knows "who's who", but, because, as a general rule, IMB folks aren't "flamboyant" or cause embarrassment to the government, we are tolerated. Sometimes, just flat ignored. However, if the line is crossed, out we go!
You must protect all identifying information over the internet; you have to have an anonymous blog. I I have heard that there are even some of the "young ones" who use fake names at MLC. Personally, I think that it is taking it a bit too far, but that is their call. At GIC's, you use only part of your name or a pseudonym. You haven't heard from a blue haired lady in years. You are listed in a "clump" in Open Windows, as "Last Frontier". You can't answer the question "So, what do you do", without some creative license. In any case, there is a LOT of stress associated with being a level 3 missionary.
Level 4- Supposedly doesn't exist. Supposed "private" appointment services with only a few trustees, Jerry, and a VP or two, simply never happen. I might have accidentally met one, briefly, once. No way to prove it.
Pray for us.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I ate with one of my kids at McDonald's today. (not my choice) While sitting there, we noticed two Mormon "Elders" sitting with a young man. I assume they were "witnessing", "prostylizing", "wining and dining", or whatever they call it. I was overwhelmed with a sense of anger. These two young guys will move on in two years and leave in their wake more confused people than they found when they got here. I mean we already have to deal with the local religion and it is bad enough. But then you get these fakers who represent the great faker leading people on a road to false truth. Can lost people be more lost than they were before Mormons got to them? No, I don't think so. After all, lost is lost. However, I think they can cause indescribable damage. I really, really hate Mormonism.
I visited the offical Mormon website after going to Mickey D's. I have studied it on and off for years (not for personal gain, but for battle info). They are so full of lies that I couldn't look at if for more than 5 minutes without feeling ill. I really, really hate Mormonism.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Parenting is an adventure no matter where on earth you are at, but it can be even more of a challenge, and more of a delight when you are overseas.
Everyone has a cute MK story about this or that, and my regular public blog (which shall remain unknown and unlinked to this blog) is full of funny stories about my kids. I'll spare you the stories and focus on the challenges of raising "Third culture kids". The notion of TCK's is that they don't fit in their parent's culture and they don't fit in their host culture. They have a culture all their own. And when you have lived in as many countries as we have, we aren't even sure of what they call their own...
What got me thinking about this particular subject today is a derogatory comment my pre-teen said to my wife today. The comment was something like "Why can't you make this 'home'"? Of course, that is about the worse thing a kid can say to their mother. Our youngest child, simply couldn't even understanding the sibling asking that question and got rather upset that it was asked, because that child's definition of home is "where ever your suitcases are". The basis of the pre-teen's question is rooted in the many, many moves we have made over the past years and having to say numerous good-byes and having to start over making friends.
So it got me thinking about what "home" is. For me, "home" will always be back in the Greatest State in the Union. Even if I NEVER live there again, I'll always consider it "home". Even when I lived in Hell (Los Angeles), I went "home" for Christmas. I asked my wife what home meant to her. She said that it used to mean the Greatest State in the Union, but now, she doesn't know any more. She said that she has tried really hard to make a couple of the places to feel like home, but they really never got there, except in two instances. She said she is really, really trying to make this new place seem like home. Me, too.
Back to MK issues... Their normal growing up years is so vastly (and sometimes ghastly) different from mine. I lived in the same town until I left for college. I had a yard, two dogs and two cats. I went to a rural school through 8th grade. I lived in the same town as grandparents. I went hunting practically whenever I wanted. My kids had a dog, but it was bitten by a black mamba and died. My kids live 10,000 miles from their grandparents. My oldest child started off in pre-school in a foreign language school, where this child didn't speak one word of the language. This child ended up being first in the class in both pre-school and kindergarten! Private ownership of guns has been illegal in every country we have lived in, so hunting is just out of the question for my kids.
In my growing up years, all we had to worry about was Viet Nam or the Cold War. I never saw any act of "civil disobedience" during the civil rights 'era'; my home town was just too small and didn't care. My kids have seen extreme poverty, public riots, and incredible hostility. They have heard bombs, grenades and machine gun fire. In fact, several years ago, we were in the US. An ambulance happened to go by and my mother asked one of my kids if they heard lots of sirens over there in Lalaland. My brave little child answered, "no grandma, just machine gun fire". That statement haunts us to this day.
I have ended up with some incredible kids. Well, despite the fact that they don't like hot dogs, they speak multiple languages, understand nuances of different cultures and can sing the national anthem of several different countries. They understand lostness. They understand the need for compassion. They ask deep questions, not just about silly things. Yes, they are still kids and as a parent, I still have to get on to them. They certainly aren't perfect. But I'll bet they will be some of the most interesting people their friends will ever meet when they go off to college!
Saturday, September 09, 2006
It isn't any fun being sick. Back in the States, I hated that feeling that comes on when you're getting the flu. For me, my hips start to hurt first, then I get all 'achy'. That is usually just an inconvenient sickness, that is, for someone my age, usually not life threatening.
I've never broken a bone (thank the Lord!). Of course, I have known many people who have broken various bones. It is a scary time and, I'm told, it hurts like heck. I hope I never have to know.
Cancer is a whole other story. That is some bad stuff. My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all affected by cancer. My grandma and mom are cancer survivors. That is a horrible, trying time for the whole family, not to mention the patient. The treatment can be almost as hard on you as the cancer itself. You sure want to have someone who knows what they are doing to deal with it, especially if it is caught early. Cancer is just plain 'bad'.
A heart attack is scary. It has some warning signs, and there are perhaps, 'high risk groups' for having one, but you really just don't know what is going on inside that ticker of yours. People as young as 40 can drop dead without warning. Of course, it is sometimes survivable if you are able to get help when it first starts. You need some big time health care to survive a heart attack.
A stroke is a nightmare. I know several stroke victims. I had a great aunt who literally just killed over with a massive stroke. My brother-in-law has had a couple of stokes and he is struggling to recover. PTL he hasn't lost any function from these mind scrambling events.
Being sick yourself is one thing; it is quite something else when your child is sick. You tend to panic, especially if there is any difficulty of breathing or a high fever. At least "Urgent Care" is open 24 hours. Right?
Well, if you live in the States it is. If you live overseas, especially in the 10/40 window, your chances aren't so great of finding any kind of medical care you'd send your dog to, much less your children.
I have been associated in some way with helping other missionaries get health care in the various regions I have lived. The very first "city" we lived in on the mission field (before helping folks) had a "medical" clinic. It actually had a price list of medical procedures painted on the outside wall. One of the procedures that has stayed with us was "caesarian section". It listed its price as about $15. It listed a C-Section WITH ANESTHETIC at $25. We reasoned that it was listed that way because some folks couldn't afford the extra 10 bucks for the happy juice! OH MY GOODNESS!!!!
I have seen the terror on a mother's face when something is wrong with their child and they are 10,000 miles from "home" and the only medical care is something along the lines that I described above. Medical care is reimbursed where ever you decide to have it, but in order to get your travel and lodging reimbursed, you have to have pre-approval. Of course, procedures exist for emergencies, which vary from region to region.
However, you can't just zip down the street to you local ER or urgent care facility. In our first city, we lived about 5 hours from the capital which had one negligible hospital that we weren't too uncomfortable going to for basic stuff. However, when my wife needed to give birth, we packed up the family and went to a different country for nearly two months to give birth in the very best hospital in the whole region, which was on par with a rural county hospital in the US. This hospital was clean and nice, and offered a measure of assurance, but for anything major, you had to be flown to Europe or back to the US. Any kind of heart problem? BOOM! Back to America. Any kind of cancer? BOOM! Back to America. Broken bone? Boom! Go to the regional hospital. Appendicitis requiring emergency surgery? Boom! Go to the regional hospital. Need to give birth? Boom! Go the regional hospital.
Where I am now is not much better. I'd say that more that 90% of all the folks who live in my current region must go somewhere else for birth, surgery, etc. Same for the folks in the surrounding regions.
Well, I see that this is now too long for most folks to read. If you have continued this far, this is definitely something that separates living in the US and living overseas in the 10/40 window. Pray for us.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Yep, that's right. I missed the band wagon regarding a timely blog about the controversial chapel service at SWBTS. I did some commenting, but, quite frankly, I don't think I can add anything to what has already been said.
Except, perhaps, for this:
I address this to all believers, not just leadership, and not just SBC: Remember that we are God's ambassadors on Earth. Our job is to RECONCILE people to the Lord; not be a stumbling block. We must live our lives and conduct our business as if the whole world was watching. Every time one of us trips (Flockhart) or does something questionable (SWBTS censorship), the lost are looking at that and at how the rest of us responds to the problem. We are ALL in this together.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I respect my fellow bloggers who are much more educated than me, are better thinkers than me, and are better debaters than me. However, for me personally I would much rather talk about this Calvin:
than this one:
The main reason is this: most people whom I have contact with care more about the first than the second. True, the first is just pretend. But the second is dead. It's not that I don't understand the implications of the second, but the first one is just a whole lot more fun. Discussion of the second one seems to depress me, mostly because it turns into fruitless arguing.
(Unfortunately, I tend to identify more with the first, inasmuch as I am easily distracted and tend to spend a lot of time daydreaming.)
I like this kind a tulips:
a whole lot more than this tulip:
But that is just me. A plain ole simple small town boy who ain't very good with big words and lofty ideas. I like the poster on Ken Sorrell's blog that says "With Jesus in my heart and a Bible in my hand, I have everything I need to start a new church."
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Many of my missionary colleagues (anonymous and nonymous?) together with other bloggers are discussing extra-Biblical junk that is presented by our culture which gets in the way of a Christ-centered life and/or missions. The example I bring to the discussion table is miniscule in reality, but it represents the broader, deeper problem.
Last week, at a church I was attending, they had a "children's sermon" or "Kid's moment" or whatever. That part I didn't have a problem with. What concerned me was at the end, the woman who was leading this (didn't have a problem with that, either) said something to the effect of "OK, now, everyone assume their prayer posture". (That was the part I had problems with). This statement, "Prayer Posture" is extremely important in some cultures. People seem to think that they must be in a certain position or posture to be able to pray, whether it is kneeling or prostrating themselves. In this overseas Baptist sub-culture I am in, I have NEVER heard anyone talk about a "prayer posture". I think I know what she meant, that is, bow your head and close your eyes, but to ask/tell children to assume their "prayer posture" simply went over the top for me.
When I was a kid growing up in church (not a Baptist church, by the way) we all knew that you were supposed to close your eyes and bow your head to pray. But sometimes, as a kid (and maybe sometimes now) I looked around at people while they prayed. There was this one older man who closed his eyes, but he NEVER bowed his head; he ALWAYS looked up. Being the inquisitive kid, I asked him why. He said that as a kid, he was always taught to look at someone when he was in conversation with them and he assumed the Lord was up, so, he always looked up. I thought this was a little weird, but I decided that it was OK with me.
My first year on the field, a missionary who had been there a couple more years on the field mentioned that he didn't like the way I prayed. Being the inquisitive kid, I asked him why. He said that my body presentation didn't look like I was being sincere. I asked him to explain further. He said that instead of "sitting up, with my feet on the floor" I continued to sit in whatever position I was in and prayed that way. He said it looked like I didn't understand the solemness of prayer. I thanked him for sharing his feelings with me, and I thought I was quite gracious to not say much at all. I understand his point, but.....
Some of the things the Word says about prayer is to"not pray on the street corners to be seen by all, but go into your private closet"; "don't pray as the pharisee who wasn't repentant, but as the publican who beat his chest with remorse"; "don't use meaningless repetition"; and "pray without ceasing". (paraphrased missionary version PMV). I don't recall reading a portion that said that we must sit upright with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, with our feet firmly on the floor.
Am I way out of line with my thinking? Do I need to encourage others to sit or stand or kneel a certain way for their prayers to be effective? Am I taking this much too personally?
I know that there are much more important extra-biblical mal-practices, but what is your take on this? I'd really like to know.
I define culture stress as "having it up to here (hands pointing to the top of your head) in dealing with your host culture". I know that isn't the MLC definition, but it works for me. (I heard they changed it to ILC; another paradigm shift?)
I am dealing with a bit of culture stress. Specifically, the bus system. Being in the country I am in, I am not afforded a vehicle by my region. I really miss having a vehicle. I don't mind taking the bus, especially since they are now (mostly) air conditioned. You can get around to anywhere on the bus, or a combination of buses. There are several different bus companies/systems in the city where I live. There is the regular bus service then a series of smaller independent type bus services. They are very convenient, but the system is hard to figure out. A few minutes ago, I tried to catch one of these smaller buses. The driver let a whole slew of passengers off his bus, but waved me off when I tried to get on. For the life of me, I can't figure out why. So, while walking on home, I was left to ponder the reasons why. I never came up with a good explanation, which leaves me with culture stress.
I think I am ready for furlough, oops, I mean Stateside Assignment (another paradigm shift).
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I am currently at a meeting with many of my colleagues. I learned that I missed yet another paradigm shift. The IMB is no longer refering to the 10/40 window as the "10/40 window", but as the "Last Frontier".
I had seen in some of the literature and stuff where they were using "Last Frontier", but I didn't realize that they weren't using "10/40 Window" anymore.
Well, tough. I happen to like the term "10/40 Window". I'll continue to use it until I get my own "pair of dimes".
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Friday, August 18, 2006
I am sometimes asked what it's like to be a missionary (mostly when I am in the US). There is nothing else on earth like it. I consider myself to be a "Servant of the Most High God". That is my calling.
To try to tell you what it is like is actually very difficult, because it is so multi-faceted. It's NOT like the Peace Corps (well, not all the time). It's NOT like the military (well, not all the time). It's NOT like Diplomatic Service (well, not all the time). It's NOT like ex-pat work (well, not all the time. It IS rewarding. It IS dangerous (at times). It IS hard. It IS easy. It IS lonely. It IS overwhelming. It IS challenging. It IS wonderful. It IS exciting. It IS frustrating. It IS stressful. It IS very stressful.
- Rewarding: there is NOTHING in the whole world like seeing the faces of people, or an entire village receive the Gospel or a portion of the Bible in their own language for the very first time in their life.
- Dangerous: you can take all the contingency training you like but NOTHING will prepare you to have REAL AK-47 shoved in your face. 3 days of pretending at MLC just isn't going to cut it.
- Hard: when the kids pull out the "Grandma" card, or the grandma's pull out the "I'm missing their entire childhood" card. That is very, very hard.
- Easy: seeing the best the world has to offer and making really great relationships and fun contacts all over the world.
- Lonely: at times, no one seems to be able to really "connect" with you and you can feel isolated and alone, even in a city of millions.
- Overwhelming: realizing that if you swerve the wrong way, you could send 2 or 3 dozen people screaming into eternity without the Lord. Realizing that even with a lifetime language learning, you'll ALWAYS be a foreigner, an outsider.
- Challenging: trying to live and function in a culture that is hostile to your presence and looks at you as a threat to culture and religion. Trying to bridge that gap with the Gospel.
- Wonderful: seeing people's lives and even whole villages change with the new knowledge of and life in the Living Word.
- Exciting: being a part of the cutting edge of missions; knowing that what you are doing is actually making a difference for the Kingdom of God.
- Frustrating: seeing people make bad decisions/choices which bring about a negative effect on your work, other's work, or the church in general.
- Stressful: trying to learn yet ANOTHER language in order to make relationships, etc, knowing that the foundation that you lay in the beginning months make all the difference in years to come, but having to deal with all of the above, plus culture shock in those first few months.
- Very Stressful: did I mention language study and culture shock? add in having a baby overseas. That'll put you right over the edge.
I love being a missionary. If I ever had to stop being a missionary, I really have no idea what I would want to do. I see it as "who I am".
I'll write more about this later.