What Is Your Life?

We were in Honduras during the last major election cycle, locked down and humbled by two back-to-back Hurricanes and a landslide that took everything but our lives and left us homeless in the third world.  It was a three-hour drive to the US Embassy if we wanted to vote.  Needless to say, we didn’t.  We just prayed. I’d never placed much hope in politics but 2020 marked the official end of Mat 16:6 and Mark 8:15 leaven in my life and surrender to the truth that it is God who changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings… Dan 2:21

When God Wants To Judge A Nation, He Gives Them Wicked Rulers.” -John Calvin-

I have friends from Marxian a.k.a. progressive parts of the USA who joke about our new residence in Appalachia. They imagine the locals here as toothless, stereotypical hillbillies instead of American archetypes like Davy Crocket.  The Godless snobbery and blatant deconstruction for which Marxist America is known is enough to tempt me to categorize myself as a Confederate. I’m kidding. Still, my flesh despises everything for which those on the left stand!! Meanwhile,

The cry of my soul mirrors that of Habakkuk.

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. Hab 1:2-4

Davy Crocket was born just a few miles from our current home. While he had very little in the way of formal education he wore many hats in his life including frontiersman, trapper, farmer, soldier, and US congressman. He met his demise at the hands of Mexican soldiers at the Alamo. He became my categorical model of fearlessness, selflessness, risk-taking, and adventure to which I aspired.

Men like Davy Crockett defined the line between good and evil.

I remember pretending to die like Davy at the Alamo

My categories were simple. America was good. Anyone opposing America was bad. Killing bad people was good. If I represent America then by extension anyone opposing me was bad. Television programming reinforced this paradigm.

There’s a tale about Crockett conversing with one of his more sophisticated congressional peers from Massachusetts when a herd of Donkeys passed by. “Aren’t those your constituents Crocket? the Yankee asked. “Why yes,” Crocket replied.

“I believe they’re on their way to Massachusetts to teach school.”

I also aspired to be witty like Davy as he so clearly articulated how I felt growing up in what I now know to be pre-Marxian America. While it might seem that the Godless deconstruction surrounding us now is new, anyone familiar with things like the Frankfurt School, Postmodernism, and Critical Theory will know otherwise. Still, now that I live in the heart of what still might qualify as the America I once imagined, there’s a stirring in my flesh and soul to identify with the voices that cry,

Meanwhile, the still small voice of God within me echo’s the words of John Adams,

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

And the words of Jesus to Pontius Pilot,

“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36

There’s no natural, let alone a political solution to what ails us as a nation.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

There is a point in the life of every mature believer where a line must be drawn between the carnality of the flesh, the mind, will, and emotions that comprise the soul and the regenerated spirit-man. It is the point where the truth of God’s word must supplant common sense and what appears to be an immutable fact.

It is a putting away of childish things we still hold as sacred in adulthood.

Today I understand that it was my childhood formations that compelled me to enter adulthood as a US Marine ready to kill whomever I was told to kill. My programmed tendency to choose a side in any conflict still lingers in the back of my mind even as it is renewed. Rom 12:1-2 My worldview remains framed by proverbial hills for which, and upon which, I am willing to die.

Now here I sit amidst another election cycle in the great Volunteer State of Tennessee. I am filled with Holy Spirit and acutely aware of my hypocrisy reflected in the mirror of God’s Word. My carnal flesh and soul driven by a hundred childish categorizations snarls and spits like Barabas in chains waiting to be chosen over Jesus by the crowd.

Barabas was a zealot.

Zealots were Jewish nationalists.

How easy it would be to unleash my inner Barabas and destroy my witness for Jesus in the name of protecting and preserving all that I call

“My life.”

It really got me thinking… 

Before I try to answer ethical questions related to the preservation of my life; shouldn’t I first examine my presuppositions regarding;

What is my Life?

I find it interesting that the Bible says more about what my life is not.

My life is not the world or anything in it.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15

My life is not a human relationship.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

My life is not something I should cling to.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Mat 16:24-26

My life is not on earth.

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:3-4

My life is not MY identity.

For me to live is Christ. To die is gain. Phil 1:21

My life is not mine.

…You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor 6:19-20

Whatever it is, my life is cryptic and in Christ Jesus.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which HE loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace, you have been saved—and raised us up with HIM and seated us with HIM in the heavenly places IN Christ Jesus so that in the coming ages HE might show the immeasurable riches of HIS grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:4-7

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:1-4

Today’s hard red pill.

I wrote about Adam and Eve’s focus before and after the fall and the subsequent selfishness and self-centeredness that distort our identities in Pressure. Dietrich Bonhoeffer went a step further in his final work “Ethics”. He begins with the presupposition that “The knowledge of good and evil” not just evil itself, separated us from God.  The result of Genesis 3 was the self-centeredness that we call our “identity” today. It supplants God’s sovereignty. At the end of the day, “Christian ethics” is an oxymoron that makes us His enemy. All of our very best judgments about right and wrong, good and evil are the fruit of the original fall from grace. That those in Christ Jesus are a new creation 2 Cor 5:17 applies to the extent that we take our eyes off ourselves and focus on Him and Him alone.  Assuming Bonhoeffer is correct, the very part of us that categorizes new and old and so joyfully and exuberantly proclaims,

“I am a new creation!” is not the new creation.

It’s paradoxical but the unholy trinity of flesh otherwise known as”Me, Myself, and I” is the part that dies when I am born again.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Chew on that.

The root of the problem

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” Rev 12:10

“Accuse” is katēgoréō from which the English word category is derived.  While Adam was assigned the job of categorizing everything in the Garden, all of our post-fall categorizations are the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Turns out all of the righteous patriotic criteria and resulting categorizations formed in my childhood were from hell.

Who knew?

Still, my self-righteous carnality recoils at this.

Perhaps yours does too.

It only makes sense in the realm of spirit and truth to which all believers are called.

I’m pondering my own repentance here, not preaching down from a proverbial pulpit.

If I’m honest, there’s not a day that I don’t organize and view people, places, and things according to categories. Those familiar with cognitive science know that categories are foundational to language.

That’s a tree.  That’s a rock. Trees are plants. Rocks are not.

We categorize before we vote.

Aren’t you taking all of this a bit too far, Brian? We all have to function in a world of categories. Yes. But what if God meant exactly what He said, in Isaiah 55:8-9?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

It might be worth considering, as we go about proclaiming God’s character, and plan, His will, and His thoughts about us and others in our daily lives. At the end of the day, everything we think we know might be wrong and we actually don’t have a clue about anything beyond the fact that

we desperately need Jesus.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

The other day I told a younger brother that it seems that God’s purpose in our 30s and 40s is to generate enough proof of how little we understood by the time we are 50. The older I get, the more clearly I see how completely inept I am and how absurd it would be to even consider answering the question;  

What is your Life?

And while I have experienced what I assume to be His presence in manifold ways that my soul tries to interpret and my words articulate, all I can do that is worth doing at all is to ponder and recite God’s Word as it is written.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

I know in part and I prophesy in part. When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, and I reasoned like a child. Now that I am a man, I must give my up childish ways. For now, I see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  1 Corinthians 13:9-12

What is my life?

God’s word says it is Jesus.

I cling to that.

His kingdom is NOT of this world.

MARANATHA

Peeling the Onion and Learning to Abide

Still Growing Down in Honduras

The name “Gray Hope Missionaries” has occasionally caused a few eyebrows to rise.  “What does that even mean?” they ask with a familiar reticence in their voice. I’ll admit it does sound a bit self-centered. I originally coined the title with the idea of it being a conversation starter. That’s manipulation code for initiating an evangelistic or “support us” sales pitch.

We all know God’s will requires funding.

Amirite?

Gray is the color between black and white, light and dark. It’s how I imagine hope. It’s also a Scotch Irish name that literally means hope. According to Google, the family crest which may or may not be my family crest, is an anchor.

That we live in the gray is another way of saying we see as in a glass darkly.

We need as much hope as we can get.

If you ask a missionary what life on the mission field is like you will often get an oral or written narrative along the lines of our most recent Hope In Time Newsletter, the ministry with whom we currently serve. Yes, we really do what we say. That’s not the point.  Increasingly, we find ourselves cringing at what inevitably ends up looking like horn-tooting, self-promotion. It’s a Catch 22.  We can’t be accountable to supporters without pictures of us doing what we say we do. But then it’s hard to direct the reader’s attention to God while staring at our mugs amidst a story about some tin we just nailed.  

I’ve come to almost despise the drudgery of self-promotion if only because it’s not biblical. Mat 6:1-4  When I think back to the marketing videos I regularly produced until two years ago I am embarrassed that I cultivated so much narcissism and self-aggrandizement. Yet narcissism and embellishment are just good business these days. They are expected and even praised in our consumer culture. That this is accompanied by a corresponding subconscious distrust of anyone asking for money seems rather ironic. That we associate meekness and humility with failure, and grandiosity with success, may offer some insight into why our culture has so little wisdom and discernment and continues to select psychopaths as leaders.  

But I digress.

In my experience, being a missionary has been more about coming to terms with things that people preoccupied with the first world rat race never have time or perhaps the desire to think about. 

I liken it to peeling an onion.

We began with peeling away our previous assumptions about ourselves, missions work, God, His Word and the world, as well all the ethical dilemmas that result from pride-ridden dreams of being a “world changer”.

This is counterintuitive as we are taught that success is contingent upon one’s ability to portray it.

Next came a season of preaching one thing and doing another. In my case that looked like talking about abiding while franticly striving to live up to prophetic words about my being a “world changer”.

Turns out telling people they are “world changers” is also a marketing strategy.

This recurring motif frequently ends in missionary burnout. Either we learn that,

“His strength is made perfect in weakness. We would rather boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us.  For when we are weak, then we are strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 

or we quit. 

This may seem simplistic to those whose careers and prosperity are the fruit of their dependency on God. But try it after slaying prosperity on the altar. This is where we encounter our inner Judas.

Mary, therefore, took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” John 12:3-6

The temptation to do everything apart from the literal commands of Jesus can be strong. There’s always an excuse. I have learned that given a severe enough tragedy or perceived inequity, and there always is, darn near any worldly strategy can be justified in support of financing God’s will.

Yet Jesus assured us there will be no human solution to the world’s suffering and problems. That includes poverty, climate change, and injustice to name a few. The Christian walk is not about world-changing effort and success let alone how God uses the almighty “us” to do it. It’s about being broken as we learn we can not. Only brokenness teaches us to be utterly dependent upon Jesus. That is the kingdom definition of success.

It begins with accepting the abject silliness of our self-imagined significance. John 15:1-17

You can do nothing” is not hyperbole. “Nothing” means “nothing”. Hence, I’m thinking a better word for “missionary” might be

“Abidinary” – one who abides in the vine.

In our case, becoming an “abidinary” has meant dwelling both literally and prophetically in the wilderness. This has been especially true since moving into the mountains when the entire world was locked down. Our driver’s licenses expired and we don’t have a car.  Every time we are tempted to think it is coming to an end, another mutation and mutant worldly narrative kicks in. We are stunned and amazed at what the world has become and is becoming. It seems that everything we knew could happen – but probably wouldn’t – is happening. Maybe you can relate. Each time we learn that normal isn’t coming back the Lord brings us back into the Book of Exodus. We shed another onion layer as we look into the type and shadow of our own impatience, impertinence, and ingratitude.  Sometimes we are at the Springs of Marah in Exodus 15 grumbling that the living water is not sweetened to our taste.  Other times we are in Exodus 32 carving a golden calf 2.0.  Our calf isn’t made of gold but steak dinners and dreams of RV living while touring the US.

Meanwhile, God keeps placing us at the proverbial entrance to the Leviticus 8:35 tent.

For the record, I am not claiming to be a Levitical Priest.

Rather there is just so much history and depth in the original Tabernacle and Priesthood. Leviticus 8 is about the consecration and ordination of the priests. Many believers discount the Old Testament, especially Leviticus. “That was the old covenant,” they say. “Only the new one applies today.”  And let’s be honest. Detailed descriptions of donning one hundred pounds of priestly garb before tying a bull to the altar, slaughtering it in the heat, and spreading the blood and guts around can be boring and well…gross. 

Still, everything points directly to Jesus and lends greater depth to our understanding of Him and our relationship with Him. 

The bull was first and foremost symbolic of the priest tying himself to the altar. What took place there was a prophetic depiction of Jesus who would be both the final and perfect sacrifice as well as the high priest who offered it. It was symbolic of the depth of what is required if indeed we offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Rom 12:1-2.

Meanwhile, we sing “Come to the altar” as if it were an invitation to hug Santa Claus.

The altar is an invitation to tie ourselves up, be slain and die.

The tying, which is submission, is up to us. The slaying is a job for the High Priest. That’s Jesus. Anyone who has ever slaughtered a bull knows the sheer brutality, labor and gore involved. That the same sacrifice was immediately repeated with a ram only makes the scene seem more burdensome and intense. We may not slaughter animals as a propitiation for sin today. But shouldn’t our alter calls reflect the same sober intensity? Interestingly, Lev 8:3 lends deeper context to the scene when we consider that the entire congregation was required to be present. 

This was church. 

The Levitical Priests were just getting started.

“And you shall not go outside the entrance of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the days of your ordination are completed, for it will take seven days to ordain you. As has been done today, the Lord has commanded to be done to make atonement for you. At the entrance of the tent of meeting you shall remain day and night for seven days, performing what the Lord has charged, so that you do not die, for so I have been commanded.” Lev 8:33-35

There is mind-numbing, soul-shaking, typological, depth to this for those who understand. Suffice it to say that in addition to the wilderness, this is the place where God has repeatedly placed Cathy and me for the better part of two years. It is an uncomfortable place, albeit an often joyful place, a paradoxical place filled with futility and hope and the realization that our best efforts are analogous to a finger painting by a three-year-old presented to his father. Perhaps the desire to please God alone would qualify as an acceptable sacrifice. But then who can honestly say they do that? Hence, the bible says our best efforts are filthy rags. It seems more likely that our worldly displays before man for which people so often praise us has become our reward in full. Peeling the onion has shown us that

The counterfeit of true worship and sacrifice is the worship of one’s own reflection in the eyes of another and as we might imagine it in the eyes of God.

We are the tabernacle today. The tent entrance is symbolic of the place of coming to terms with ourselves as God reveals the deepest parts of ourselves in answer to prayer. Residual parts we don’t like and wish were not there. It is always parts we wish were not there that need to be cut away, discarded or burned. The altar is hard work. But the hardest part is in the submission to waiting.  

The entrance to the tent is a most necessary place.

It is at the entrance to the tent of our tabernacle that we wrestle with drudgery, immobility, and loneliness. We are all strangers in a strange land. But Honduras is a place where no matter how low and slow we go we will never be seen as equal, a part of, or the same. We are gringos. We are opportunity and blessing, consumers and cash. Sometimes we are bipedal ATMs. The deafening silence so devoid of true fellowship at the tabernacle door can produce the temptation to retrieve what was slain and return to comfort in the land of the prospering dead. We are here for seven days, however long or short a time that may actually be, according to His will and “so that (we) do not die.” There may be a different season and assignment on the horizon. In the meantime, this is what it looks like to learn to abide. John 15:5 

We are “Gray Hope Abidinaries”

Maranatha!

Still Growing Down in Honduras

A Gray Hope Missionaries Update

When people ask missionaries about missions the easiest answer is to give details about ministries and what we’d like to think we see God doing through us and around us. There have been times when our own reports sound more like an investment prospectus than a report of what God is doing. Most missionary blogs and newsletters do not begin with a list of failures and brokenness.  And while the secular cults of personality and comparison have invaded the church and made the quest for personal significance and success into idols,

His strength is made perfect in weakness.” We would rather boast in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us.  For when we are weak, then we are strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Brokenness remains the key to missions.

Therefore we are always compelled to first qualify ourselves according to our failures and infirmities before we qualify any ministry we do. Our lives before Christ included things like addiction, divorce, suicidal ideation, and prison to name a few. I struggled with alcoholism for two decades and failed at everything before being instantly delivered from it and the buckshot coming my way amidst a point-blank shotgun blast. I wasn’t looking for Jesus at the time. I was looking to die. I did. Cathy was essentially looking to do the same when Jesus delivered her. John 15:16

The extent to which God uses us today remains a function of our brokenness and the utter dependence upon Jesus that flows from it.

That brokenness is not just historical.   

Like most aspiring missionaries we had dreams of changing the world for Jesus when we began. That’s before we accepted that God may use us but He doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He places us where ever He does because where He puts us is the best place for Him to conform us to His image. Rom 8:29 As easy it might be to tell tails of adventure and harrowing brushes with death, and how we are saving Honduras in spite of it. The fact is that while the adventure is real it is God and sometimes Hondurans who save us. If that weren’t bad enough, for the record, we have never led a single person to Christ. We have planted and watered a lot of seed. 1 Cor 3:6-8 We have also been present when people made the decision to surrender John 4:36-38. We have never healed anyone. We have seen God heal people when we prayed for them. John 11:4 I once saw a demon-possessed man set free on a short term mission trip as I prayed. But honestly, I only prayed because I was last in line in a fire tunnel and the pastor was yelling at me. I didn’t know what to say so I just started saying “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over until he fell down sobbing at my feet. People said it was amazing. I was more amazed than anyone because I didn’t believe in any of that stuff at the time. When we teach we assume we are there for one person because most people usually don’t care what we say. As it turns out we frequently teach in tongues. Many times we hear, “Wow I really liked what you said.” Only we never said what they heard. My point is that our path was and is one of God accomplishing His will in spite of us rather than because of us. We are not spiritual special forces as some are prone to view missionaries. We are people that God uses to prove that He can use anyone anywhere provided they are a yielded vessel. He is the potter. We are His cracked pots. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other as His will and purpose unfolds before us.

Most times it feels like we are just along for the ride.

I realize this might not be the purposeful and intentional way in which many imagine the great the commission should unfold.

However, it does lend some perspective to Eph 2:8-10

The valley of Megiddo from the Mount of Transfiguration. We received a free round trip to Israel last year.

There is a tendency in the contemporary body of Christ to pursue Mat 17 Mount of Transfiguration type experiences.  Many Christians spend their entire lives chasing prophetic affirmations mostly about themselves and encounters with the manifest presence of God. Yet the mountain top is the place where God reveals Himself as the anchor to which we tether our faith as we venture into the valley below. It is the firey crises of faith in the valleys of life that burn off the dross and purify us.

Becoming a missionary is volunteering for the valley.

COVID was one such valley for us as we found ourselves locked down immediately after moving to a remote mountain village where we didn’t know anyone and many had never even met a gringo before. The State Department kept sending emails advising us to evacuate. When the border closed we knew we were committed and that we were on our own if we get sick. Several months in, depression and anxiety crept up on Cathy. A sense of futility bordering on apathy snuck up on me as I heard that familiar Gen 3 whisper, “Did God really say?…” “Did God really place you here? Or were we imagining things?” There were only two places to go to at this point. One was what AIM alumni know as the “Q” zone (the quit zone) deep in the valley of the “Project Mood Curve”. The other was deeper into the Secret Place.

  Thankfully we were both compelled toward the latter.

Yet even that was a function of His grace more than it was our will and our choice.

That’s when His purpose opened up. God confirmed that we are exactly where He wants us.

Perhaps the biggest difference between full-time missions in the third world and ministry in the first is that missionaries have fewer options from which to choose before God becomes the only one. While the first world rewrites the book of Ecclesiastes, missions offers a short cut to the truth in chapter 12.

Never the less it is a paradoxical process of growth that He brings us through.

“When you are done growing, you’re done.”

-Heidi Baker-

We want less of us and more of Him.  John 3:30-36

So we keep growing down.

All that being said, “becoming” a missionary is simple.  It is hearing and being obedient to God’s call regardless of whether it makes sense.  It is counting the cost and laying down in faith whatever is, for what God’s word says could and should be. 

Being” a missionary is living in James 1:4 and sometimes enduring the reality of the verses immediately before. 

Lately, it’s been walking through mountain jungles to deliver food because of the lockdown. 

And filling the gap at our house because fear canceled school. 

Of course, the true purpose is neither food nor school but opening doors to eternal Truth. More often it means planting in hope that another may harvest. One thing we have learned;

People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care. 

We Do.

We are into our fifth year on the field and our fourth year in Honduras. 

Right now, we are in a fairly remote mountain location called Cerro Azul Meambar and in Luke 10 forerunning stages of a new ministry among partly Miskito Indian people. That means going low and slow, building relationships and trust, and becoming a part of our new community. We do a lot of children’s ministry. Children are great ambassadors between us and sometimes more skeptical adults.

Our real heart is for discipleship which among other things means involving kids ages 10 -13 in outreach.

The second aspect of forerunning is not as fun. It is finding and binding the Mat 12:22-30 strong man. In missions terms, the strong man is the person, issue, or situation that impedes gospel truth. It can be an individual, political party, or social issues like poverty, domestic violence, or addiction, etc.  After nearly six months we are narrowing it down. Most children here only attend school up to the 6th grade at which point they might grow coffee and net an average $3 for every hundred pounds of beans they grow.  If they harvest for someone else, they might make $2. 

Hondurans are notorious for their stoic, and fateful surrender to hopelessness.

Our prayer is that the fateful become faith-filled.

That said, the strong man appears to be alcoholism here.

It makes perfect sense in the spirit.  In addition to the two of us being former addicts, I was an adolescent substance abuse counselor and a clinical supervisor for a decade before I was a missionary. For fun, Cathy and I ran a faith-based co-ed transitional housing program for prison inmates. We lived with 5-10 inmates and sometimes their children for twelve years. As much as we have tried to get away and do something different, God continues to place this population in our path.  It was our brokenness that led us to Christ.  Apparently, it is still the same brokenness that continues to qualify us in ministry.  Ok, Lord.

Thy will be done.

Maranatha!

Que Rompe Tu Corazon?

– What Breaks Your Heart? –

One of the most frequent questions we are asked by visitors is,

“What is it like to be a missionary?”

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To be a missionary is to pursue brokenness. It is first and foremost about love.  Love in the context of a relationship with God and with each other.  Everything we do is rooted in intimacy with Him and each other in Him. The greater the intimacy the greater our recognition of our dependence. Dependence on God is a to key success on the mission field.  It is the understanding that apart from relationship, the words “love” and “God” are meaningless.

 

Sometimes the gospel is more effectively preached with a smile, a hug or a small act of kindness that leaves people with questions rather than answers to questions they never asked.

Being a missionary means understanding that preaching a sermon and cleaning a toilet might be one in the same. 

Being a missionary means having set schedules that rarely pan out because like everyone else, missionaries are gifted and dysfunctional.  It is understanding that the patience spoken of in James 1:4 is an end and not just a means.

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Some days begin at 3 AM in the back of a pick-up truck on a muddy road in the rain and end at 10pm in the same.  Others might start at 10 and end at 3.  Sometimes we are hot, hungry thirsty and sick.  Sometimes we are cool, relaxed and full of energy.  Sometimes we have electricity and water.  Sometimes we don’t.  The periodic absence of first world comforts begets a greater sense of gratitude for the little comforts we once took for granted.

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Being a missionary means not punching a time clock

or looking for one to punch. 

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It means not coveting Friday and a bigger paycheck.  It means not working for the next vacation or retirement. It means not being afraid of being late or failing to perform. It means not being distracted by materialism, the latest styles or trends or the busyness of first world life. It means not being consumed by sports, politics and sewer-stream news.

It means keeping the eternal end in mind.

It is freedom from fear of suffering and the death that no one escapes.

Being a missionary means being willing to live in the desert, proverbial and literal rather than paradise.

Being a missionary means more than being a humanitarian.

It means honoring an old man or  shaking a hand dripping with slime at the dump knowing that you can wash your hands, but he can’t and may die because of it.

It means traveling for an entire day to hug a suffering child.

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It means paying attention to the little things, those who don’t matter to the world.

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It means understanding the words of Mother Teresa,

“the most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.”

That these words apply to eternity.

That eternity apart from God is the quintessence of loneliness.

We can tell people ad infinitum that Jesus loves them, put on our best Jesus smile and our best Jesus act in hopes that they will see Jesus in us and raise their hand at an alter call.maxresdefault We can pat ourselves and each other on the back in celebration of decisions for Jesus on a given day.

But at the end of the day it’s about us seeing Jesus in them, “in the least of these” in the ONE in front of us.Gerson2.mp4.00_00_47_03.Still010

It means staying in touch with what breaks God’s heart. 

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There is a reason that it is written twenty-three times in the New Testament that Jesus had compassion.  Compassion (literally to suffer with) is the door to God’s heart.  Knowing what breaks His heart is the key to intimacy with Him.  Intimacy with Him is the path to joy in Him.  Being a missionary is about joy. It is the freedom to follow the call of God we received as a fruit of our relationship with Him.  It is a freedom that comes with the knowledge and understanding that if we delight ourselves in Him he will give us the desires of our Heart, of His heart.  He has.

To be a missionary means to be fully human.

To be human is to be paradoxical.

The blessing is in the brokenness.

Que Rompe Tu Corazon?

      Africa Bound

Well it’s been a long time coming but it should come as no surprise to those who know us well that we are giving all to become full time missionaries.  

Granted we’ve been short term missionaries in Honduras since 2008, however this different. 

We have also run a faith based transitional home and lived with furloughed inmates since 2005 which probably seems crazy enough to most, however we’ve always had financial security, and a place to lay our heads in a paradise that most people only dream of visiting.  In a word we have lived the proverbial American dream.  

Giving everything up now in hopes of serving the poorest of the poor in the most impoverished and worn torn corners of the world might sound like foolishness to some.  However this has been our dream since before we were married.  In fact we have both known since we were children that we were made for this day.

As Christians we are called to live and walk by faith.  There’s really nothing in the bible that even hints that we should play it safe.  In fact Jesus gave us the formula for success.  Those who will lose their lives for His sake will gain true life. And so we are going.  We are going with a goal of loving the lost and unloved in hopes of one day becoming love ourselves.  This is our theory.  This our plan.  To be perfectly honest we don’t really know what that looks like or even means at this point.  We are simply stepping out with child like faith, knowing only that we know nothing especially in terms of what lies ahead.  We are only certain that God has called us to a deeper place, a place of knowing Him more, a place of acquaintance with His sorrows and with those sorrows, an unspeakable joy that we know will be our inheritance if we remain obedient to His call. 

We will be departing Kauai to attend the IRIS Global Harvest School of Missions in Pemba Mozambique on Oct 4th.  This is a turning point and not just an event.  God willing we will eventually be in places like South Sudan, Honduras and wherever the Lord calls us from here on out. 

Follow us here if you’d like periodic updates as we journey deeper into the heart of God and endeavor to love Him by loving His children here on earth.