LENTEN DEVO

LENTEN DEVO

The Christian life is given a voice in the telling of a story. It is a story of how the Creator of all things is working to restore a broken universe, a universe broken by the very creatures God created. In particular, this story focuses on how God became human and took on the role of a servant, so that those who trusted in God could be redeemed from their condition of sinfulness.

Often in telling this story we place an emphasis (rightly so) on the way that Jesus’ death on a cross is a key event in God’s plan to redeem humanity. Sometimes, though, we neglect a very important element in the equation: the resurrection. While the death of Jesus is important to emphasize, it would all have been for nothing without the resurrection.

FOCUS

FOCUS

This week I've been feeling a bit out of sorts with a loss of focus.

I love rhythms and routine, and when those things are interrupted I feel out of focus. On Monday, we moved our offices at work and that threw me off in terms of preparing for the week at work. At home, I've been waking up later than usual and haven't had my time in the morning to focus and get going. This happens every now and again and it used to take me days to get focus back. I've learned some things that have helped me get my focus back in minutes rather than days. It's a three step “Process for Focus.” I hope it helps you like it helps me:

REFRAMING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS, PART 2

REFRAMING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS, PART 2

This is a continuation of our first blog on reframing short-term missions, found here

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Moving from FOR to WITH (Us & Those We Serve)
Poor posture: The Church in the Majority World looks like the Church in the West, and the Western Church sets the tone for what the global Church looks like, acts like, is motivated by, etc. 

Often times we in the West see ourselves as representative of global Christianity today. Which may have certain ones of us stressed out, given the way things are going in our postmodern society. Christianity is not thriving in Western culture; some would say it’s on its way out. With globalization on the rise and the spread of the gospel in the last 50 years, you may be surprised to learn that the average Christian is more likely to be an African woman than a white American or European. In the words of Paul Borthwick, the Church today is nonwhite, nonWestern, and nonwealthy. The Church is spreading fastest among some of the poorest ethnic groups in the world, and in some of the most dangerous places. Korea is the second largest mission-sending nation. It’s estimated that by the year 2025 there will be more than 1 billion believers in Africa. 

REFRAMING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS, PART 1

REFRAMING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS, PART 1


Short-term missions are a controversial part of the missions landscape today...From stories of modern day colonialism, to hyper-emotional narratives about participant life change (separated from any tangible impact on the ground), to missions “tourism,” where it seems like the trips are more about visiting an exotic new place (and taking an inordinate amount of selfies) than they are about partnering in ministries for the long haul.
 
As a part of the landscape, we believe that short-term missions are here to stay, but we also believe that somewhere along the way, our posture became a bit skewed. Wrong posture leads to misalignment, often resulting in pain or damage done to the Body. By reassessing where we’ve gone wrong, and focusing again on solid biblical (not cultural) missiology, we can redeem these short-term experiences for the benefit of the Church.

SLAY THE DRAGON OF INSECURITY

SLAY THE DRAGON OF INSECURITY

I have a confession to make. A confession that only those closest to me know about. I am incredibly insecure.

I constantly wonder what people think of me and feel constant disapproval. Regularly, I live under this idea that no one likes me, or they think I’m a jerk or just don’t want to be around me.

There are times and seasons where it's better or worse. But insecurity is the dragon I do battle with. I always question every decision I make and regularly experience feelings of failure and self-loathing.

I struggle with feeling good enough. Smart enough. Competent enough. Rich enough. Successful enough. And if I let those voices run rampant, I start to get paralyzing anxiety, depression and fear.

A LIFE OF PRESENCE

A LIFE OF PRESENCE

Lately, I have been learning to stay present.

It started, in a way, by necessity. Life is crowded, and the first thing to go is patience, contemplation. It seems our youngest always wakes up whenever I’m sitting down with coffee and my Bible. It took me too long to realize that God is available to us even when quiet time with Scripture is not.

However, there is a much more human problem at play. I like to live everywhere but now. I plan, worry, and work - and live my days entirely in the future. Or, I remember, regret, and wallow in shame - still stuck in the past. My drive to work. The time it takes to shower. The walk from my classroom to the copy machine. All of these, I know, are opportunities to take root and connect with the Vine, but I pass them as I usually do. Worry, planning, regretting. 

4 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF DURING TRANSITION [PART 1]

4 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF DURING TRANSITION [PART 1]

Let's talk transition--more specifically moving from one culture into another.

You just packed up your life in one suitcase, two if you’re lucky, and moved to a brand new city and quite possibly a brand new country.  You just left the familiar.  You just said good-bye to your car, to your regular routine, to a job that you were good at, to your family, to your favorite grocery store, and your favorite cereal.  Tears were shed as you packed, anxiety was battled as tickets were purchased, and prayers were prayed as money came in.  As you got on the airplane, there was a sense of accomplishment.  I did it.  I raised enough money, I packed everything in under 50 pounds, and I grieved what I was leaving.  I said "good good-byes".

What you were not prepared for, perhaps, is what it looks like when you step off the plane:

BETTER

BETTER

It’s usually only after fighting for Our Way that we realize God’s Way was actually much better. Scripture is loaded with stories of folks like us, from Old Testament heroes to Jesus’ own disciples, who thought they knew best, but learned that God knew better.

A classic example:

In Acts 1, after Christ has risen from the dead and spent 40 days continuing to teach His followers, it says the apostles “kept asking him, ‘Lord has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom.’”

As was His typical way, Jesus didn’t really answer their question, at least not in the way they expected or hoped! They were looking for a physical kingdom, an overthrow of the Roman regime, the restoration of their own people. But Jesus wanted so much more.

MISSION LIFE

MISSION LIFE

If you’ve ever been part of a meaningful cross-cultural experience, you’ve probably found yourself wondering after your return home, “Now, how do I live here in light of what I learned there?”  This is a necessary and challenging question, meaning you don’t just see this as a stand-alone event to check off of the Christian to-do list. We at Envision pray and hope that these “mission trips” merely serve to be a continuation of a life lived on mission.  But, we know that it’s a lot easier said than done.

There’s just something about the mission TRIP mentality that is hard to translate into a true missional way of life. I’ve certainly been convicted and humbled to recognize the disparity between I am on the “mission field,” and who I am at home. Why is it so much harder to be a light in the darkness in my own city than it is in Indonesia or inner-city Chicago? Why are the practices that come so easily for me on a short-term trip, like fervent prayer and daily Bible study, not an absolutely essential habit in my long-term real life?  Why do I seem to have more boldness, passion and burden for the lost when I cross a national border than when I cross my own street? 

WEATHERED OBEDIENCE

WEATHERED OBEDIENCE

I’m doing intentional reflecting on 2016. I’ve been convicted lately that I move on too quickly without pausing to reflect. Ok, let me be honest, pausing in general is tough for me. My friend Thomas George recently talked about the importance of journaling. He uses it to remember. Do we ever stop to think about how often in the Bible it tells us to remember? Journaling is about looking for God at work in your life. It’s about sensing a theme, paying attention, and stopping to remember. So today I cracked open my journal to remember. Before you put me on some sort of journaling pedestal let me say this, I journal sporadically. Most often I write while flying. If my heart is heavy I journal, if I’m elated I journal, if things are steady I don’t journal. 2016 kept my journal busy.