It’s OK to Grow as You Go [day 17: grow]

I have fond memories of playing in the park while my brother was on the baseball diamond as a child. There was flower picking, gravel scooping, and begging mom for slushies. It was the magic childhood is made of — at least, that’s what it seems like looking back. Little friends would chat, and sometimes we would get past “what’s your name?” and “what is your favorite color?” No one had ever told me not to talk to other kids about Jesus, so I asked my playmates if they were saved like they had any idea what that meant. I barely did. I just had Jesus in my heart, and everything on my heart came out eventually.

As I got older, fear of not presenting Jesus perfectly or having something in my life that would block the effectual working of the Gospel kept me from exhibiting this type of boldness. I knew I didn’t know everything, and I thought, “If I share my faith, someone is going to ask me a question I can’t answer.” So I just didn’t. I started to hear things like, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” I began to think it was OK, as long as I didn’t live like the lost, to keep my mouth shut about the greatest gift ever given to me. I’ve come to find out I was wrong. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

I needed someone to tell me, “It’s OK to grow as you go.” I needed permission to share my faith without an undergrad in apologetics. I wish someone would have encouraged me to live faithfully as a Christian witness, speaking the truth in love while humbly admitting when I made mistakes. I would have benefited from a reminder that fear is a tool of the enemy which keeps me from fulfilling the will of God laid out in the Great Commission. Maybe someone did tell me, and I just wasn’t listening.

But now I know — when I celebrate small, I thank God that I don’t have all the answers. I find joy in the fact that I will never know everything about Him or truly understand the scale of what Has he has done for me. I relish each opportunity to share Him, and I trust Him to do a good work in spite of me. If I wait to live missionally until I’ve achieved spiritual giant status, I will miss out on great things God wants to do through my life. As I celebrate small, I praise Him for the understanding He gives along the way, and I trust He will polish my witness in his power while covering my flaws in His blood.

I think back and wonder how things would have been different had someone given me permission to be imperfect. I trust God was working even in my silence, but I think I think I’ll speak up from now on. I may have to pretend I’m still the brave little girl picking dandelions and spilling my heart to anyone who would listen.

What keeps you from living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

See Yourself in Stories of Missional Living[day 16: read]

I love a good missionary biography and not just because I am a missionary myself. I liked them way back in the day before I met Jesus and surrendered to serve Him with my life. There was always something exciting and adventurous to me about tales of faraway places, foreign tongues, and run-ins with all types of creeping things. I kind of glossed over the parts about God’s sanctifying and redemptive work because I didn’t have spiritual eyes to see the wonder of these things yet.

Now that I am on the mission field, I am less wowed by the things that used to blow my pre-adolescent mind. In fact, today I had a stray cat run into my house and made eye-contact with a gecko who had made a home in the box of Cheerios atop the fridge. I spoke my second language imperfectly all day and spent time with a new friend. This place is now my home and doesn’t seem exotic or as foreign as it once did. Life here is just that now — life.

I read stories of missionaries a bit differently now. I see myself in their tales — in dreams that turn out differently and hearts that experience major overhaul at the hand of the Holy Spirit. I walk with them through true faith crises brought about by cultural clashes and coming face to face with all kinds of spiritual darkness. I feel solidarity with people who fight to love Jesus in a world that hates Him.

I don’t see superheroes like some of you may think of when you consider those who have answered the call to missions. They’re just people struggling to love their families, figure out communication and a new way of living, and take opportunities to tell the old story. I glimpse a gracious God who grants the heart’s deepest desires and allows His servants to celebrate small successes in ministry, never knowing the scope of what He has done through their measly offerings.

Missional living isn’t about where we are; it’s about who we serve. It’s not even about who we are but what God is able to do despite our imperfections. It is a willingness to say “I can’t, but He can” and take the small steps of faith to follow Him into hard places and love people who may be difficult to love. It’s about sinners that have been saved and given a great job to do.

When we celebrate small, we see what a great privilege it is to live missionally for the Savior. We praise Him for each opportunity He gives to speak of His goodness and each trial that brings us into a more intimate relationship with Him. We find mission fields in our front yards and in the car pick-up at our children’s schools and say “yes” where we are and to who God puts in our lives. We run the race and tire, but we are carried. We fail but, we are forgiven.

A life changed in Nepal. God is faithful.

I challenge you to read stories of what God has done and is doing around the world. I hope you will read them with fresh eyes. Ditch the notion that those living missionally are super special people. Missionaries are just like you — they are super-loved by God. They make tons of mistakes, but they celebrate big when God gives small victories in their lives and ministries. I urge you to see yourself in their stories.

Consider your own biography of missional living. What has God called upon you to say “yes” to? Who has he put in your life to minister to and to share of His goodness? How has God used you already? What big, missional dreams has He placed in your heart for the future? What is He at work redeeming in your life now? How do you sense His mighty hand at work in your life?

You can have your own thrilling adventure in missional living when you choose to celebrate small and trust God will use it to bring about big. Read some missionary biographies and you’ll see — He’s quite good at that.

How are you living missionally?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

God’s Grace To Me in Plan B

Five Minute Friday: PLACE

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This place was Plan B.

Plan A was a dream given, and we had hopes to see it fulfilled. Plan A ended abruptly with denied entrance to set destination, and plan B erupted just as quickly. I didn’t choose it. I didn’t even want it. When we parked it in plan B, this new place we knew next to nothing about, I felt just about as hopeless as when we didn’t have a plan at all. I had to face that I was here to stay. I knew I had to learn to love this place lest we all wind up miserable and longing for home.

I’ve had to work at being happy, learning a language, and making friends. I’ve had to learn to love all the peculiarities that make this lovely culture what it is. I’ve had to swallow my pride countless times and wipe tears off shame flushed cheeks more than I care to recall. It’s tempting to think about how Plan A could have unfolded and what life would have been like in that place that seemed to have slightly less unknowns. But, in time,  I’ve come to know this place. I’ve come to love this place. This is my place, and these are my people. Praise God, the faithful One.

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Emotional Highs and Lows of Church Planting

Sometimes it all feels like a little too much. One week, we are riding the high of a baptism and high attendance. The next week, not one of our faithfuls are there, and we are wondering what we did to scare them all off. To say church planting is an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Unless, maybe, we’re comparing it to the recurring dream I have where I’m riding the Vortex at Kings Island Amusement Park, and my restraint won’t stay down leaving me tethered only by my frail arms to this life I’d like to keep living. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

I have written before about the burden church planters carry being a heavy one. Undoubtedly, the dream of a church planting family is to see souls saved, lives changed, and men and women called into the ministry. When I get a taste of this sweet success followed closely by bitter disappointment,  it’s tempting to stop trying all together. To say to my family, “Pack it up, guys, we’re going home!” Because it’s so stinking easy to jump right from a joyous peak to the depths of despair when I am looking only at the present situations at hand.

Philippians 4:6-7 provides some advice for handling these moments before I take that plunge…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

It has been said by some that the Bible is just a collection of ‘Dos and Do Nots.’ In the case of this excerpt of scriptural wisdom, that is true. I, for one, am grateful for this guide printed in plain terms for me. Certainly, it’s for my benefit.

DO NOT be anxious.
DO be thankful for what He has done.
DO ask God for more.
DO trust Him to do the rest.

 

I wish the rest meant this whole country receiving the Gospel. However, the rest is a Christ-centered, God given perspective that mirrors more of His heart than my vain ambitions and gets me off this crazy train of emotions. To me, this seems potentially more challenging than evangelizing a nation because my emotions tend to run the show. The possibility passes my understanding, but it’s true that Christ wants to give me peace as I follow Him. Rather than being an unwilling passenger, I can be an active participant in the continual renewing of my mind that leads to that peaceful place where Jesus works, and I just stand in awe of Him. Everything beyond that is just bonus.

What kind of emotional ups and downs are you riding today?

Share with me in the comment section below how God is working in your life.

 

Thank God for the Pit Stops

Five Minute Friday, JOURNEY

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“We traveled for two years and visited over 200 churches sharing about our missions endeavors. We spent A LOT of time on the road and racked up thousands of miles. Along the way, we made lots of pits stop. Generally, we just stopped for fast-food and potty breaks, but occasionally something else would demand a stop. We were too tired to keep our eyes open anymore. Our toddler ran out of juice. Flat tire. Nauseous pregnant lady. Saw friends getting off and exit and had a spontaneous double date at Waffle House.

These unplanned stops often weren’t welcome on our journey. They seemed to be an inconvenience when we just wanted to get from point A to point B. But they were necessary. We needed to stretch. We needed to rest, run around, stretch our legs, and nourish our bodies. We needed the pit stops.

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I think of the pit stops along the way of our journey to the mission field. The financial support that got a slow start. The family member that spent months ill before passing away. That car accident that rocked our world, took our baby, and canceled a whole month of meetings. The waiting and waiting and waiting for a visa that never came. These things were all unplanned and unwelcome.

But these times were all a part of the journey. They have made us the family that we are, serving in the country where we serve. During these times, we have been forced to seek the Lord and know His heart better. We have learned about ourselves and about each other.

We’ve learned to thank God for the pit stops.”

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