Category Archives: Uncategorized

Stepping out of the Junk

Today, during my centering prayer time, I saw Jesus.

I was standing in my yard surrounded by my “stuff”

Not material things.

My baggage.

Shame,

Regret,

Impatience,

Frustrations,

Self Doubt,

Judgements,

Depression.

 

All littering my space.

Distracting me. Dragging me down.

Killing my spirit. Paralyzing me.

 

When I looked up I saw Jesus across the street.

He beckoned.

C’mon, my love.

Cross the divide.

Leave the junk.

Just focus on me.

You remember,

The one who died for you.

The one who carries you.

The one who wipes away every tear.

 

I took the first step…..

Watch Your Language!

Did you ever hear “watch your language!” as you were growing up, raising children, or maybe even out on a sports field?  I sure did, and I hardly ever swear.  Yep, hardly ever.  I love Jesus but I cuss a little.  Very little, but you can still pray for me.

It has been 12 years since my first mission trip, and in those 12 years I have been learning a second language.  Not Spanish, Thai, Serbian, Arabic, Japanese, or any other ethnic language of a country I have visited.  Not at all.  I have been trying to learn the language of mutual partnership, humble servanthood, and human dignity.

How do we, the church in the USA, talk about short term missions?

Are we going to do something for someone? Or are we walking alongside them, supporting what they are already doing?
Did we decide to go somewhere?  Or were we invited by a missionary or national partner already serving in the area?
Are we talking about what can we give to the community we visit? Or are we interested in what we can learn about the community, God’s work in the world, and the faithful brothers and sisters reaching others with the gospel?

Hmmm…
do something vs walk alongside
decide to go vs invitation
giving vs learning

Our words and actions carry a great deal of weight.  When we enter a community with the attitude that may convey “I’ve got it but you don’t” or “I am here to do it because you can’t”, we rob our brothers and sisters of dignity through our best efforts to help.

As I grow in my relationship with Jesus, meet God in the place of grace, and practice mutual partnership, humble servanthood, and lifting up human dignity, I am becoming more consistent speaking my second language when talking about short term missions.  I am not perfect, not by a long shot.

I invite you, sisters and brothers, to hold me accountable and to join me in watching your language as you talk about short term missions and put into practice this second language… and make it our first language, rooted in love, respect, and grace.

reposted from my Volunteers in Global Missions blog 2014

Lighthearted Venting…

I was inspired to write this after my morning walk…

Walkin’ round the hood
In the early morning sun,
Talkin’ with my friend
And havin’ lots of fun


When I got home 
I was feelin’ pretty blue
I smelled somethin’ awful
It was dog poo on my shoe 

Walked around the house
Before I sniffed it out
Spent an hour cleanin’
Tryin’ not to pout

The carpet and the floor are clean, 
The poo is off the shoe
They mystery is how I got that
Poo stuck in my shoe

I guess I’ll never know whose dog
Left a treasure on the road
But I have a favor to ask y’all
If I may be so bold..

Please clean up after your dogs
When they poo upon the road
Your neighbors would sure appreciate
clean shoes, cause poo gets old.

Scribbles on the Pew

I was watching a little girl in church on Sunday.  Not quite three, she was an engaging child, sitting with her mom and older sister.  Well behaved, and minding her mom….. or so it looked..

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the little girl doing something.  Mom spoke to her, I couldn’t hear the words, and then the little girl bowed her head against the pew in front of her and burst into tears.  Inconsolable, heartbreaking tears. Mom quickly slipped out of the service with her sobbing child in her arms.

It wasn’t until after the service did I learn what had happened.

The little girl had drawn a beautiful loopy line in pencil on the back of the pew.   Mom had said quietly and gently, “Did you draw that?”   The little one bowed her head in shame, she knew that was a no-no, and then her overwhelming guilt burst forth in tears.  Mom wasn’t mad, instead gathered that little bundle of remorse in a hug to comfort her and reassure her.

We’ve all been there, right?

How many times do we have lapses of judgement ourselves?  Like a child who knows not to write on the furniture, sometimes we forget.

We do stuff we know we shouldn’t..

We say things we know we shouldn’t..

We fail to do things we know we should…

The difference between us and the little child is that we seldom burst into inconsolable, heartbreaking tears in remorse.  Yet, we know that we are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Will the little girl have lapses of judgement again?  Of course.

Will we?  Of course.  Daily.

Will we be forgiven?   Over and over and over again.

May we know the sting of guilt, the pain of remorse, and the deep, deep love of Jesus.

 

Jesus dies for your sin and pain.

Lift your head from shame to grace.

May the God of hope fill you

With all joy and peace in believing,

Wo that by the power of the Holy Spirit,

You may abound in hope.

Martin Rolfs Massaglia and Romans 15:13

Witness Protection Program

Witness Protection Program or  “Why I don’t have a fish bumper sticker on my car”

I try to be a pretty nice person. Most of the time.

I try to see the bright side of things. Most of the time.

I try to see the better in people. Most of the time.

But then, I fail. FAIL. Miserably.

I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.

But my failure is not just about me.

Its about what others are witnessing when they see me.

It’s about who I want to be a witness for.

I am an awful witness for Jesus.

I was relieved when I traded my Ford Focus in years ago. Relieved because I couldn’t live up to the witness that the little fish emblem on the back of the car implied. I got my only speeding ticket in that car. I ran very yellow lights.  I may have annoyed my share of other drivers.  All while I was proclaiming “I’m a Christian”.

I am an awful witness for Jesus.

I caught myself the other day.  After long days in airports, which I actually enjoy, I had a chance to volunteer to take a different flight.  Why not?  For once, I finally had the freedom in my schedule.  It wouldn’t bother me to go at my scheduled time or take the next flight.  No biggie. But wait.  They couldn’t tell me if they wanted me to actually volunteer until everyone boarded. EVERYONE.  It seems they had to weigh the plane.

I had a great seat.

Extra leg room.

On a regional jet.

Carrying a backpack.

And there was NO room in the overheads by the time I got on.

NONE. NOWHERE.

Everything I was carrying had to go under the seat.

Where my feet go.

So my knees aren’t under my chin.

It is easy to be a good witness for Jesus sometimes.

This wasn’t one of them.

I was ticked.

I didn’t cuss, but I am sure that Jesus didn’t like my attitude.

I sure didn’t. Grumpy. Sarcastic. Snarky.

And what’s worse?

My seatmate was chatty.  Nice guy.  Funny. Interesting.  We showed each other pictures of our kids and grandkids.

And then… THE QUESTION

“What line of work are YOU in?” he asked.

Uhhhh….

“I work with volunteers.” I said.  And changed the subject.

FAIL!!

I love talking about what I do, and I love Jesus.

But at that second, I needed a Witness Protection Program.

To protect the guy in 4B from my bad witness.

“I love Jesus” Angela was a sharp contrast to the grumpy, snarky, reeking of bad attitude Angela that this nice young man was sitting next to.

So I was quiet.

I was a non witness instead of a bad one.

Score for Witness Protection Program.

It was amazing and humbling to see how fast my desire for wanting some leg room and overhead space spiraled into grumpiness.

At the end of each day I know I have unintentionally offended and hurt more than I have encouraged and lifted up.

The lyrics to this Casting Crowns song echos in my head

Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away

We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing

Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see

The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me

Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded

A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided

 “Jesus, Friend of Sinners”, Casting Crowns

“The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me”

Yep, I admit, I don’t have it all together.  My cheese is slipping off the cracker.  I’m ok with with being broken.  I’m not ok with tripping people on their way to Jesus.

So here’s the thing.

Maybe the answer isn’t having a bumper sticker to show I am a Christian.

Maybe the answer is to live more intentionally like Jesus.

How?

“And what does the Lord require of you? Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Stay. Give. Pray.

We know you have seen the devastation after the Nepal earthquake.  Our hearts are broken for our sisters and brothers as they grieve loss of family and friends.  Our first instinct is help.  Our instinct is RIGHT, but in the most appropriate way, and at the right time.

Nepal does not need our physical help.  

This is the time to send volunteers who are professionally trained for a specific aspect of disaster response.  Post-disaster situations are physically and psychologically extreme.  Only specially trained professionals hooked into response networks can be effective.  Others put a logistical and financial strain on the resources of the affected people.

International Ministries is not a first responder organization.  Our strengths lie in walking alongside our partners, supporting them in their long term ministries and the strategies they know will work best in their own communities.  Although we know there are many of you who are eager to go and help in Nepal right now, the most help we can all give is to stay home.  Why?

Our partners in Nepal are consumed with recovery and daily life right now.  Imagine having a disaster in your own neighborhood, every family affected, all homes and belongings have been destroyed.  Hundreds of well meaning, but uninvited folks come to help.  Where will they stay?  How will they be fed?  How will you take care of them when your own resources are gone?

Nepal does not need our stuff.  

When we send material goods, those goods compete with the resources that are needed most.  They take people, time and energy away from unloading and distributing the things that people need the most.  Keep in mind that there is no climate controlled storage in these situations for the donated goods—-so food spoils, clothes get moldy, etc. There is also limited space, space needed for emergency housing and for the relief teams to stage distribution of goods acquired that can meet the needs of the people.

Nepal does need our monetary donations.

Right now, the best thing we can do is to pray and giving monetary resources.  Donating funds enables the flexibility for our partners to respond to needs as they change. They can purchase supplies that are sourced locally that are “fresh and familiar” to the affected people.

International Ministries has already sent $25,000 to Nepal through One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) for initial relief work, but more is needed.  Read here how funds are have been initially distributed through three Nepal Baptist partners, with more relief funds needed. OGHS has a long history of accountability and transparency in providing relief funds around the world.   “The One Great Hour of Sharing offering is the most transformative way that American Baptists respond to the emergency phase of disasters here and around the world through our historic Baptist partners.” Rev. Dr. Elmo Familiaran, American Baptist Churches of New Jersey.

Nepal does need our prayers.

Pray for:

  • Nepali Baptists and all faith organizations as they minister to the earthquake victims.
  • Energy and endurance for rescue workers as they search, and also strength of spirit as they deal with such devastating loss of life.
  • Comfort for those grieving over the loss of loved ones.
  • Hope for the future for those who face such devastation and tragedy.
  • Wisdom for those who have the responsibility to plan development and rebuilding.
  • That God be glorified in each breath of every believer in Nepal to be the face of Jesus to the Nepali nation.

Unsettled

Unsettled.

I am unsettled.

It is the day after Palm Sunday, and while it seems that the rest of the world celebrated Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, waving palms and singing songs of rejoicing, I am unsettled.

Would I have been one of the crowd celebrating Jesus coming into the city?

Would I have even known he was there, riding on a little donkey?

Maybe I would have been at the other end of town, watching the Romans parade in with all of their might and pomp and glitter and swords, and war horses.

Would it have mattered?

Had I been ignorant, not even aware of this Jesus, would I have been any less guilty of his arrest, persecution, and death?  For the ones who greeted him into the city with palms and rejoicing were the same ones who yelled “Crucify Him” just days later.  Would I be any less guilty of denying him like them, or like Peter?

Today I wonder the same.

Today, I try to know Jesus more each day.  I wake in the morning with the greatest intentions to praise and listen and follow Jesus. But at the end of the day, I have certainly denied him three times or more.  I have not loved my neighbor as much as I could have.  I have likely been sarcastic, unkind, and unloving… all before lunch time.

Now,  I move towards the end of the week,  knowing I am fully capable of shaking my fist at God and turning my back on what I should do to glorify God and instead waste my time on meaningless things.  All I want to do this week is to be crumpled at the foot of the cross with a broken heart.

Broken for the grief Jesus felt those last few days.

Broken for those who don’t know God.

Broken for those who have  intentionally turned their backs.

Broken for each of us as we wake each morning with a renewed sense of hope, yet fail miserably.

As hearts break, so are they healed.  My great Healer came to the earth fully God and fully human.  His feet got dirty, he ate, he burped.  He loved, he wept, he laughed.  He fully experienced each hurt and pain and joy that we would.  He was perfect, living in this imperfect world, and he died a painful and humiliating death for me.  For us all.

Crumpled at the foot of the cross, broken hearted, I have hope.  The tomb is empty, but the journey from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the resurrection is one that is unsettling each year.  I am thankful that I have the space to experience it for the sacred time that it is.  To God be all the Glory.

I originally wrote this April 2014.  Rereading it this year, I needed the reminder…