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I'm back in the travel mode. Actually, I'm sitting here in the Detroit airport, waiting for our last connection to Milwaukee. We'll grab our rental, head to the mall to find some clothes that I can use for Sunday, then meet Troy and Heidi for a bite to eat.

Tomorrow morning we'll drive down to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois for the missions convention.

I love Moldova.
I love my kids.
I love sharing about Moldova and helping people get a vision for the work.

So I have a week of travel, a little jet lag, and lots of talking about God's work!


We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!  (2 Co 1:8–9)
--Eugene H. Peterson, The Message

I like this passage of Scripture.  I know there are a few people who get bent out of shape over The Message, but it is a refreshing paraphrase that I often read in parallel to my NIV.  It makes some ideas pop off the page, and this is one of the phrases.  (and if you are one of those that gets bent out of shape, take a deep breath and relax.  Sheesh.  Aren't there more important things to get worked up over?)

Paul had some DARK times, difficulties that you and I can rarely comprehend.  It was so tough that Paul was unsure whether he would survive.  That is not one of those exagerrating phrases ("If I don't eat this ice cream, I'm going to DIE", says the child), but a clear description of how tough it was.  Death was a strong possibility.  Prison was a reality.  It was TOUGH.

But Paul recognizes afterwards that the entire time had been a blessing.  It was one of those times where he could NOT depend on his abilities and cleverness.  He had to depend on God.

We have a few situations like that now:

    -a girl at Freedom Home that needs to move out on her own, still a corrosive personality.  Her hurts are deep, and how can leaders show grace and mercy to her?  They need to learn that kind of grace.

    -the well-drilling rig is still not perfected, and we are still scratching our heads on how to get that thing figured out.  Trying get deeper through a water layer, fighting casing that keeps getting stuck, and more. 

    -an entire young demographic that we are unsure of how to reach, but realize that they are missing from the churches.  How can we do something that is beyond our strength and wit?

I know our situations are not survival issues, but they are beyond our strength and wit.  We need God.

The interesting thing is that "as it turned out, it is....the best thing that can happen to us" when we are out on a limb, beyond our abilities and strengths. 


Can I Get A Raincheck?

I am sitting in my office, waiting for a phonecall. That call with mean one thing...I need to go to Freedom Home for one of those conversations I'd rather avoid.  It looks like we need to ask one of the residents to leave.

Seems strange to do something like that, but she has crossed the line of threatening one more time.  We've done intervention, group and individual confrontation, defined the acceptable behavior over and over again.  But the key value is that the Home is not just for her benefit, but for everyone else too. 

Can I get a raincheck on this meeting today?

I've had that thought before.  When I pastored, I had a few Sundays that I wish I could have taken a raincheck.  I still have a few Sunday afternoons, when 3 pm rolls around and I know I need to head out to set up for the International service.  Or when the alarm rings at 6 am and I know I need to drive three hours on Moldova's lousy roads.

I've wanted rainchecks on some tough conversations.  There was one time where I had to call someone on their lack of submission, on their lousy and sinful attitude.  I once had to confront someone on their devisive theology, trying to get them to stop tearing the church apart.

I once had to visit a couple in the ER, standing together with them with their baby that had just died of SIDS.  I've talked to rebellious teens, unfaithful spouses, and a deacon with an integrity issue.

I sure wish I could have pulled out the raincheck on all of those!

But leadership means we step up and face the issue.  You can't postpone it forever.

So pray for me in my issue today.  And pray for yourself, that you will do the same.  We need people who will step up and quick looking for the easy out.

  • Ask your pastor today where he or she needs help...and do it.
  • Get your body out of bed this Sunday and get to the service...and the Sunday after, and the Sunday after....
  • Honor your commitment, even when you don't feel like it.
  • Read a book to your child, even if you'd rather watch ESPN.

I know far too many "spiritual kids" who look for the easy route, not ready to take responsibility.  It isn't easy, and God knows that I skirted more than one issue in my life.  But for the Church to impact this world (and your community), we need men and women who will stand up and say

"Here I am--today--ready for action."


Value

_D2X9589I am confronted with value every day in Moldova.  The moment I drive through Chisinau, I drive past a myriad of signs like the one on the right, listing today's exchange rate.  I know each day how many lei I will receive for my dollar.  When the number drops, everything is more expensive for me.  When it rises, I know I have greater buying power.

But I see that same pressure each day in a different way.  Our world reveals its system of values by the way it treats people. 

  • When the elderly are dumped into a scummy building, they are valued at "dispensible."
  • When a woman is valued if she has plastic surgery enhancements, she is valued as "merchandise."
  • When a child is neglected or abused, they are valued as "incidental" and "second class."

When I sit with a girl at the Freedom Home, our society might have written her off as used property, but I don't.  If that was the case, then we all are just used property.

We all are broken.  We all have sinned.  We all are imperfect.

I want to show each girl that they are valuable, simply because they are made in the image of God.  They are valuable because they are loved by God...and by us!  Their rate doesn't go up and down daily, but it is stuck at "priceless."

Are you treating people with value today?  What value are your actions showing?  Do you treat your neighbor, co-worker, or family member as "priceless?"  What does your checkbook reveal about your values?  Are you valuing coffee more than missions, clothes more than children?

What is your currency exhange board showing of your life?