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.

FORGET ABOUT GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE

FORGET ABOUT GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE

This is one of the chapter titles In Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God. There have been times in my life where I was so concerned about what was coming next in my life, that I wasn’t present and engaged with that God had given me to do right where I was living. “It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what he wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day,” Chan says. As I interact with people who want to go overseas and serve with the Alliance, I like to know how they are using their spiritual gifts right now either in their church or in their community.  

HIS PROMISES & HIS PRESENCE

HIS PROMISES & HIS PRESENCE

Somehow he knew today was going to be a day like no other.  The air seemed fresher, the sun brighter, and oh, how the stones of the city walls gleamed as the sun rose! No wonder they called her Jerusalem the Golden. As the old man went up the temple steps, a spontaneous thought came to mind - “There he is!” as he caught a glimpse of a young couple carrying a baby. Simeon was overjoyed! Though his eyes were fading, he saw clearly the light for Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel. God had kept his promise to his people and a personal one to him. Now he could go in peace. He had seen the anointed one.

FINDING BEAUTY IN THE JOURNEY

FINDING BEAUTY IN THE JOURNEY

I’m currently flying home from a quick week trip to Europe. It was partially work and partially fun. Once upon a time I was a missionary in Vienna working with kids at an international school as their elementary chaplain and counselor. After 6 years away I had “all the feels” at finally being back in my European “home” city. I walked through the city my first night there and took in all the familiar sites and smells. I felt completely at home surrounded by a sea of people from around the world. My German fooled the shopkeepers momentarily and the pastries were still swoon-worthy. I walked miles that evening simply taking it all in. My heart was full and I breathed out “thank you, Jesus” with nearly every breath. 

One of my dearest friends lives with her Viennese husband and their two girls just outside the city. I took an entire duffle bag full of American treats to them and I’m lugging the same duffle bag back home full of European treats. A couple of nights ago I had their 4-year-old daughter on my lap and we were reading through one of the Christmas books I had brought. I

A LETTER TO ALEPPO

A LETTER TO ALEPPO

To the people of eastern Aleppo,

I was asked to write about your city this weekend. I just spent two hours researching to try to understand and make sense of it all. It’s complicated. It’s desolate. It’s maddening.

But here I am sitting in a Starbucks drinking a warm Gingerbread Latte. I’m listening to Christmas music. I have five layers on—inside—because rooms in America are never warm enough for me.

I feel safe.

MOVE OVER FOR MILLENNIALS

MOVE OVER FOR MILLENNIALS

His text lit up my phone like a Christmas tree. “Can we meet for breakfast?” It came from one of the guys who went to Africa with me and it seemed important, so I swallowed my fatigue and lack of coherence and said sure. 

Ben and I had just spent 10 days in Burkina Faso, West Africa. We went with Envision and we traveled in the bush, the wild places of Africa with no access to phone or internet. We built a church, saw some wells our church helped to dig and met some of the most incredible people. Coming home, I was looking forward to spending time with my family and catching up with them, but Ben seemed to want to meet urgently.

A PRAYER FOR MIXED MOTIVATIONS

A PRAYER FOR MIXED MOTIVATIONS

Abba,

You said that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for you. And yet, as I open my heart and put my hand to the plow to cultivate this small corner of your creation, I become aware of a tangle of motivations behind my service. Part of me wants to try to earn your approval, even though it is boundless and given freely. Part of me just wants to be liked. Part of me wants to do this myself, Lord, and to take the glory that rightly belongs to you. 

BY WAY OF THE WILDERNESS

BY WAY OF THE WILDERNESS

Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way we planned. The death of loved ones, unemployment, unfulfilled dreams, failed relationships, denied visas, sickness… the list goes on.

There are some chapters in life that we just don't understand. They seem to derail us from the journey we expected to be on, the milestones we thought were certain. All of a sudden, we find ourselves on a different path, reeling with grief, confusion, and anger. We want answers, we want clarity, but these don't come. It's in these moments, that we approach a fork in the road, leaving us with two options. Do we continue to trust that He's good? Do we press in to believe the truth that He's got this; or do we allow for doubt to be planted into our souls and start questioning His goodness? Is He really a God to be trusted?