Category Archives: missions

words for these days

DSC_0494There are two ways of living:

 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy a field.

Living for the kingdom is not a careful, calculated decision but a wild abandonment of everything else in life. It’s not even a choice, but an irresistible compelling. We are citizens of heaven, people under the enchanting spell of grace. In contrast, the careful, calculated decision of the rich young man come from groveling servitude. “He did not own his possessions; they owned him. If he had owned them, he could have been free of them.” (Bernard of Clairvaux) It is impossible to live for stuff and God because it is an issue of worship. What we allow to dictate our days, order our emotions, what we serve and worship shows what we love. Like Hansel and Gretel dropping crumbs in the forest, the little choice we make about what we give and what we take and what we labor for leave a telltale trail straight to where we really are.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Furthermore, it is impossible to truly own anything already destined to be destroyed by sin. No matter how hard I try, I cannot hold on to anything material in this life. The only things I have a lasting part in are the eternal, the “treasures in heaven” that God gives. Granted, the eternal and the physical are so intertwined as to be nearly inseparable—and this is why throwing away a shirt or bowl or blanket can feel like throwing away a memory or a friendship. But it is not. Serve what the creation was designed to enable and flesh out rather than the creation itself and embrace the fearlessness that an offer of eternal life can give us.

This is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life–whether you have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they don’t harvest or store food in barns for your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Can all your worrying add a single moment to your life?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously and he will give you everything you need.

Worry is completely unproductive. In my mind, in the alternate reality I’ve constructed, I think that stuff makes a life and that I control that stuff (by planning, purchasing, choosing, worrying, etc.). But every good gift comes from our Father above whom me call “Abba” to and only have to ask for whatever we need. The stuff? The unbelievers run after these things…

If you think this is a show-uppance (because I think I’m doing this), I wish I could show a replay of the many moments lately where I’ve been the rich young man with the Holy Spirit prying my white-knuckled fingers off of shiny trinkets. But this is not who I want to be—I want to be the girl who sees the treasure, throws comfort and caution to the wind and runs after it. Don’t you?

Bonus: songs for these days

Love is not the easy thing…walk on. What you’ve got they can’t deny it, can’t sell it, can’t buy it. Leave it behind, leave it behind… from U2

I am a poor, wayfaring stranger traveling through this world of woe. I’m only going over Jordan, I’m only going over home. I’m going there to meet my Savior, to dwell with him and never roam. From Wynter Poe

Let’s do this right, you know what I’m talking ‘bout!?” from Lecrae

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ! From the Na Band


1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living, missions, Scripture, Uncategorized

May Update

Our latest update letter

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, missions

April Update

Here is are family update:

After 5 minutes in the car leaving NYC this month, Clive was out cold–he wore himself out that weekend.

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, missions

March Update

Here is are family update:

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, missions

in us and among us

repost from November 2010

We were at a missions conference last week where I taught a workshop on discipleship and sanctification. The title was initially proposed to me as “Sowing where the Gospel has been preached,” and in that conversation, the next phrase that immediately came to my mind was “keep preaching the gospel.” And when you start talking about how to preach or know the gospel, you can’t get very far (or even start) without the Holy Spirit. If the gospel is Christ (as Paul states in Rom 1.3) and the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, then we need to be careful that all this gospel-talk is not just busy back-patting fact-rehearsing, but a talk empowered and sweetened by the Spirit to change our lives.

In my preparation for this workshop, I read a lot of James Dunn and some of the things he said are still swirling in my head. Here’s one: “The ‘functions’ of the body are precisely the charismata of the Spirit (Rom 12.4)…Charismata (or charisms) thus understood are the living movements of the body (1 Cor 12.14-26, Eph 4.16). Without them the body is dead. Christian community exists only in the living interplay of charismatic ministry, in the actual being and doing for others in word and deed…There are no dead organs in the body of Christ…”  (Dunn, The Christ and the Spirit, p. 249, emphasis mine).

First, don’t jump when you read the word “charismata.” Having and using these (the Biblical word) doesn’t make you one (the English cognate). Dunn uses it here in the best sense and it’s a word Gordon Fee defines as “a concrete expression of grace.” Now what could be more beautiful than that? And Paul uses it of lots of things other than specifically Holy Spirit-dispensed actions (such as eternal life and marriage, to name a couple). But the work of the Spirit in our lives is also in this category and I’m learning that nearly everything the Spirit does He does to us. Not just me. I used to think that the Spirit has regenerated me, sealed me, illumined my mind… But after reading Dunn, I started looking at those passages in Greek and realized that Paul kept talking to the saints in second person plural, which is difficult to translate into English. So Paul doesn’t pray (for example) that, “he may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being” but that God would grant you all (me, my sisters and brothers in Christ, the church) to be strengthened.

The image Dunn gives really helped me to process this: the Spirit’s work is the movements of the body. A body naturally does things; muscles and tendons and bones work together to go somewhere and do life, to live. But without those parts working together, no movement happens. And then our “body” is just a collection of pointless parts. That is why he says that the Christian community (and evidence of the Spirit) exists precisely in the interplay of our ministry to each other. I think I’m just beginning to understand this, but it has already changed the way I’ve experienced my conversations with fellow believers this past week. The Spirit’s goal in gifting us is uniting us to Christ and each other. This might sound goofy, but I think we often live out the body like an octopus body—each person connected to Christ, but barely connected to each other. This isn’t the Spirit’s design, though, and Christ is exalted and His work on earth furthered by our connection to each other. Not just as I read my Bible and try to become more like Christ on my own, but as the Spirit uses that process to enable me to encourage others to become more like Christ as well. And really, what kind of “Christlikeness” would focus only on my own spiritual state and leave others in the dust? Not the kind that looks like the Christ who abandoned all self-interest. So where is the Spirit’s body? Not at an address, not in a random collection of individual mystics, but in the interaction of Christ-followers as they discover the “concrete expressions of grace” in their lives. As we talk and give and serve and pray and push out into the world everything that God dwells in us to give.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Living, missions, Scripture, Theology