Faith

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.

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

FELLOWSHIP IN THE TRENCHES

 FELLOWSHIP IN THE TRENCHES

He is standing before a drapery of smoke. Hair sweaty and long. There is a sword on his back, and when he draws it the metal shings in the silence. He smiles at me, then turns and runs into the fray.

This is how I’ve seen Jesus lately, and I think it points to an important truth: true fellowship with Christ is found in the trenches of our mission. Oftentimes, I am crying out for a greater sense of God’s nearness. Sometimes it’s as if I can see his form, but not his face, and my soul feels like it will break, like I can’t possibly wait to be closer to him. Led by the Spirit, this intimacy has the potential to grow like “an oak of righteousness” throughout our lives as disciples, but I think there is a key element, a “fertilizer,” if you will, that we often neglect.