Monday, June 26, 2006

A New Law

Isn't this video by Derek Webb so true?

Right now we are traveling around the country, speaking in several different churches and Christian venues, and meet so many with their blindfolds on. Sometimes we wonder why we even try to share the story of God's activity with the church, because so many don't get it or don't care.

But there is a remnant that DO see and DO care, and they transcend generational and denominational boundaries.

Last night we got to be part of just such a group, and it was so refreshing. We went to the "Midrash" service at Fusion--a church plant in Oklahoma City (

God is really moving in this little group of believers. Their members are so hungry for radical Christian living. They are desperate to reach the unreached, and are heading to the Himalayas in a couple of weeks to put feet to their passion. They live to see Christ glorified throughout the nations, beginning in dowtown Oklahoma City.

We were eating dinner with their pastor last night. He was sharing how it sometimes gets messy, and it is not safe. But it is oh, so cool to see people living lives that are sold out for Christ. We enjoyed being with these kindred spirits who have taken their blindfolds off and are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them into new and unfamiliar territory.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sabras of the New Jerusalem

The Summer before my Senior year of high school, my parents took me to Jerusalem. It was my graduation present, because I had always wanted to visit the Holy Land.

We were able to stay in a hospice in Old Jerusalem, right on the Via Dolorosa. Our rooms were actually above the Lithostrotos, where Jesus was sentenced.

It was on that trip that I met my first "Sabra." A "Sabra" is a Jew born in Israel.

Being a Sabra is an honor that carries with it both a birthright and responsibility. The name is taken from the word for "prickly pear", a fruit which has a tough, prickly outside, but is soft and sweet on the inside. Native-born Israelis are often compared to this fruit. Their tragic history has caused them to become tough and a little harsh on the outside, yet if you can get beyond the hard exterior you will discover a warmer, softer side.

Sabras are born with a national identity unlike that of any other. They love their country and are proud of their heritage. There is an understanding that they are to guard, defend, and protect Israel above all else. They are fierce patriots, and their citizenship takes precedence over their individuality. Many of them are farmers, and connected to the ground itself. They feel a responsibility to cultivate and nourish the land with which they have been entrusted.

They all serve in their military for at least two years. No one is exempt--both men and women serve in the armed forces. Each of them is assigned a weapon, which they must guard at all costs. It becomes their constant companion for the duration of the time that it is in their possession.

I recently found a great analogy in scripture to this concept of being a "Sabra." I was reading Psalm 87, and as I got to verse 4, it hit me. All of us who are born into Christ are Sabras of the New Jerusalem, and citizens of Zion!!!
Psa 87:2 The LORD loves the gates of Zion More than all the other dwelling places of Jacob.
Psa 87:3 Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. Selah.
Psa 87:4 "I shall mention Rahab and Babylon among those who know Me; Behold, Philistia and Tyre with Ethiopia: 'This one was born there.'"
Psa 87:5 But of Zion it shall be said, "This one and that one were born in her"; And the Most High Himself will establish her.
Psa 87:6 The LORD will count when He registers the peoples, "This one was born there." Selah.
Notice the nations which are mentioned in verse 4. The present-day locations would be Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Sudan. Those are Muslim nations today!!!

So in a sense, every single one of us who have come to faith in Christ, regardless of what nation we come from, what language we speak, and what background we have, are "Sabras" of the city of Zion. Our citizenship carries with it a birthright and a national identity, as well as a responsibility to uphold the honor of our country. We were born to fulfill the purposes of our King.

We are also to be faithful members of the military of our nation, and to maintain and carry our weapon at all times. We are to be prepared to defend our faith, and uphold the honor and glory of our King at all cost. Our lives are not our own. We are Sabras of the New Jerusalem.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Message Rubs the Wrong Way

Doug speaking at the Younger Leaders session on Monday night

Today's blog comes from a very special guest--my husband, Doug. He is not a regular blogger, but wanted to write a post today. Doug was unable to attend the final session, because he was back at the hotel with our two exhausted and convention-weary children. However, he watched the entire service via webstreaming, as many of you did that evening.

Bobby Welch delivered a message that was somewhat offensive to many younger Baptists during the final session of the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention. There were a few things said that came across as jabs, but two stood out to me.

First, Bobby Welch was emphasizing the need for intentional personal evangelism. I totally agree! Yes, ALL of us (myself included) need to be more deliberate in sharing the redeeming story of Jesus Christ.

Bobby Welch then stated that people needed to quit spending so much time on blogs and web sites and get out there in the streets to share their faith. This was obviously a political comment directed toward the younger Baptist who network and communicate with each other through blogs. From his statement, it can be assumed that Bobby Welch, and possibly others, feel threatened by the free exchange of ideas shared amongst younger Baptist in the blogging world.

In some cases, what Bobby Welch said was true. I’m sure there are a few Baptists who spend way too much time blogging and rarely share their faith. Blogging could even be an idol for some. However, Bobby Welch failed to mention the multitude of other ways Southern Baptist waste time and neglect to share Christ with others.

Many of us are obsessed with leisure, entertainment, and easy living. We have an unholy and egocentric worldview of ourselves, our resources, and our time. Our lifestyles rarely differ from the culture at large. God’s Word teaches that we are no longer our own, but that we belong to Christ. Our lives should be consumed by His purposes. Our time and resources should be totally yielded to God.

In addition to blogging less, maybe we should snap out of our hedonistic materialism and move away from our consumer lifestyle. Maybe we should go to fewer movies and stop watching TV for six hours a day. Maybe we should play less golf, go on fewer vacations, and stay out of the shopping mall. Maybe it’s time we cast down our idol of spectator sport, quit going into debt, and quit buying bigger houses and expensive cars. Maybe we need to quit being so self-absorbed, learn to die to self, and truly obey and follow Jesus Christ.

The second and most notable thing Bobby Welch said was “if you younger people leave the Southern Baptist Convention, you will be showing your ignorance”. Considering the context and the framing of this statement, his comment seemed to be based on two rather arrogant assumptions. The first assumption is that younger people are ignorant. The second assumption is that God is exclusively or preferably using Southern Baptists. And, that if one were to leave the Southern Baptist Convention, then it would be their loss.

While I could relatively care less about the first assumption, the second assumption is rather dangerous, and quite frankly prideful and dead wrong! God is working all around the world in multiple ways and through multiple groups of people. While I see God working through Southern Baptist, I also see God working outside of the Southern Baptist Convention. Just take a good look at many of the para-church organizations, some of the non-SBC mission agencies, and the church in places such as China and South Korea. Southern Baptists are a very small part of God’s total redemptive work. To assume otherwise indicates a dramatic underestimation of God and His power.

For me, I choose to be Southern Baptist, I agree with Southern Baptist doctrine, and I know God has called me to serve Him through the Southern Baptist denomination. However, if I were to leave the Southern Baptist Convention, I assure you it would not be because of ignorance. It would be because God is leading in a new way and I’m choosing to follow Him. But, some other younger Baptists may leave the convention because they continue to be disrespected, disregarded, and not listened to by some of the older established leadership. Bobby Welch’s message illustrates my case and point.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Slap in the Face

All the excitement and hope we had felt Tuesday was completely deflated after the events at the convention yesterday. We felt totally misunderstood, misrepresented and misjudged.

The implications made by Bobby Welch in his final sermon were a slap in the face to all of us who blog.

His words were unfair and untrue. We are not spending all of our time blogging, and many of us have a deep passion for evangelism and compassion for the lost. If he had actually taken the time to read any of our blogs, then he would know that.

Much of what we write is iron-sharpening-iron stuff about church planting, discipleship, evangelism, or simply testimonies of celebration about what God has done. Many of the bloggers are missionaries.

We also have built a practical network of support and encouragement as ministers who feel alone and isolated much of the time in our ministries. We have not found solutions to meet those needs within the traditional avenues of the SBC. So we adapted and got together to be that resource for each other.

Let me give you practical examples of what I am talking about. Recently, the baby son of one of our bloggers was diagnosed with cancer. We have been able to pray with him and support him through surgery and the first round of chemo. Another blogger was being really beaten up in the church where he was serving, and was isolated and in despair. Others came to his side.

We have connected for missions opportunities. Kevin Bussey, and a team from his church, just returned from helping Jason Sampler gut houses in New Orleans. And I can testify personally, that in some tough moments these guys have called just to pray for us in big decisions that needed to be made, and even helped us financially.

Because we are Mission Service Corps, we don't get a penny of CP funding. But when we had a dream to take students on a Spring Break mission trip (for the first time EVER), it was fellow bloggers who prayed with us that God would raise the money needed if it was His will. Then some of them put words to their prayers by sending us checks. We were overwhelmed by the love and support of these guys. As a result, we were able to take students to both Peru and Quebec, and then this Summer we have five going overseas to serve.

Which is amazing when you remember that we are a 2 1/2 year old ministry on a secular, hedonistic campus. It has been because of the PRAYERS of these fellow ministers who stood in the trenches with us.

Now that we are realizing God is leading us to plant a church in Oakland, we turned again to our blogging friends. Many of them have been processing with us, praying, sending us material on church planting and giving us personal advice from their own experience. Two key bloggers in this area have been David Rogers in Spain, and Guy Muse in Ecuador. Their experience and wisdom about church planting has been invaluable to us.

Two others called to pray over us before a crucial meeting regarding the church plant.

To be brutally honest--I have never received that kind of hands-on support and direction from the "traditional" SBC channels. I have been referred to a lot of books and programs, most of which are completely irrelevant in our context. I have been blown off or ignored by many of the leadership from whom I've asked questions, simply because we are not "important enough" in the social circles of the SBC. The blogging community has been our lifeline, and they have lived out Acts 2 fellowship with us, even though it has been long-distance.

The SBC is going to have to wakeup and realize that our culture is changing and adapting, and we must keep up with the impact that technology is having on our society. The SBC did not invent blogging. It is an effective communication tool that has been around for years. Most of our students have been engaged in this form of social interaction since they were young teens.

Cyber connection among people is something we are just going to have to accept. It is going to exist in spite of what certain leaders of the SBC feel about it. Blogging, chat rooms, internet resourcing, message boards and web site development are entrenched forms of communication in our global culture. Rather than criticizing what we don't understand, we need to find the value in it and embrace ways to use it to further the gospel.

I have had three random college students connect with me through my blog. Each of them stumbled upon it while going through a major crisis in their life. One was suicidal. But for some reason they felt "safe" talking to me, and it has been an opportunity for me to minister to some hurting young women around the world.

I would also like to address another fallacy that was directed our way last night, and that is the implication that we are just seeking power within the convention.

THAT IS NOT TRUE. I know that many of these guys have had opportunities to serve in various capacities and have chosen not to at this time. I have turned down two opportunities this year myself, because I did not feel like God was leading in that direction.

The politics within the SBC makes us want to retch. This is NOT about power or position. This is about the integrity of the Word of God, and about keeping missionaries where they need to be to accomplish the task. We are taking a stand against unreasonable, narrowing parameters of cooperation, and proponents of getting back to the MAIN THING.

Finally, my support of Dr. Page was not to leverage influence, but because I felt he was the best man for the job. Let me give you reasons why I felt this way.

1. His support for missions and the Cooperative Program. Go to his church website and read everything connected with missions. Their program is extensive and is built on an Acts 1:8 principle. I knew that he would support missions in regions like ours outside the Bible Belt.

I'm also a believer in the cooperative program, even though I am one of the SBC missionaries who has to raise their own support because there are not enough CP dollars to go around. Dr. Page believes in getting back to the heart of cooperative missions.

2. He LISTENED to me. I wrote him an email when he was first nominated, and he replied the very next day. The other candidates did not even make themselves available to the grassroots people. Then Monday, when I happened to see Dr. Page at a restaurant, he walked up and introduced himself to me, and knew my name. He asked about our ministry in Pittsburgh. He is CLEARLY interested in the younger ministers within the SBC, and in hearing the challenges, needs and questions that we face as we try to serve in the trenches in some tough regions of the world.

3. Over and over and over again he has emphasized prayer. I have heard him admit that he does not have all the answers, but will continue to seek direction through prayer. I sense that he is a man who goes straight to GOD when a problem arises, rather than to the latest book, program or trend. He is a man who I believe can bring reconciliation between growing factions of the SBC, and bring back the unity we so desperately need. He is not a politician, and he has not used mean-spirited, underhanded means to gain this position. He has not stabbed any fellow brothers in the back to leverage himself to leadership. He has simply served where God has placed him, and now God is allowing him to be in a position to influence our convention.

I am a little knocked down today, but we will get back up. Because our GOD is bigger than the SBC. He is at work, and we are going to finish the task. It just may not be through the great and wonderful denomination that has been a foundation for all of my life. But HE WILL BE GLORIFIED, and WE WILL REACH THE LOST PEOPLE OF THE WORLD!!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Radiant Faces, Radiant Lives

I have been privileged to be around some amazing people these past few days. These individuals embody what I would like to be when I grow up. : ) They have qualities about them that are really special and worth far more than any title or position.

Take Steve Walker, for instance. Steve is a pastor in California, but within seconds of being around him, you will realize he is a man of prayer and passionate about missions. I was so touched Monday night when I got to witness an interaction between Steve and my Mom. They were talking about the people of Afghanistan, and their faces were glowing. They both reflected a love, concern and compassion for a people group clear on the other side of the world.

I witnessed much of the same thing in talking with Elaine Meador. She is the wife of Clyde Meador, VP of the International Mission Board. They both are amazing individuals. But Elaine has a sweetness and beauty that just radiate from her face. Her heart beats missions, and she is as real and transparent as can be. After talking with her, I found myself wanting to get on a plane and go work in Central Asia.

Then there is Bob Stith. Our relationship with Bob goes back a few years. We met at the Texas Motor Speedway, while serving in TxArm, a ministry to NASCAR fans. What I love about Bob is his passion for people. He is no respecter of persons, but sees value and beauty in every person he comes across. Bob and the TxArm team taught us how to meet people on their own territory.

Bob is a great listener, and genuinely hears the stories of the people he encounters. He seeks to find their "cultural heart language", and looks for a way to communicate value to each person he meets.

I saw him yesterday at a booth for his new ministry, which reaches out to those engaged in homosexual lifestyles or who are struggling with same-sex attraction. I am not surprised that Bob would be engaged in reaching such a tough segment of society.

As he was telling me about his organization, he clearly had a deep love and empathy for those held in bondage by this sin. Bob is one of those quiet spiritual giants. His name may never be well-known, but his faithfulness and impact will one day come to light. Bob has always been willing to serve with little recognition or feedback. His humility and selflessness reflect the true depth of his character.

Two of my favorite leaders in the whole SBC are David Waltz and Gail Hallman. I got hugs from both of them yesterday, and was reminded how blessed I am to get to know and learn from them. David is the Executive Director of our PA/SJ convention, and Gail is our Director of Mobilization. Both are warm, loving, passionate about missions, driven to reach the people God has entrusted to us, and so supportive of our team.

They are genuine, approachable, and real. One of the first things that David did yesterday was ask how things were going on our campus, and communicate his love and appreciation for us. Then he bent down and spent time talking to our kids. Davud and Gail are the real thing. We know that they pray for us, because they ask about specific topics weeks after we requested prayer. We are so grateful for the amazing leadership we have in Pennsylvania.

Another new friend is David Rogers. I have gotten to know and appreciate him from our little blog world, but got to meet him live and in color this week. He is every bit as warm and kind in person as he is online. I was impressed with his gentleness, and his sincere heart for the people of Spain. He is a person who could use his name for leverage, and could hold positions of power and influence. But instead he chooses to faithfully serve in the land where God has called him, and desires the approval of God far more than the approval of man.

Finally, the last person I would like to mention is John--an accountant who was working at the Guidestone booth. I did not know John before yesterday, but was deeply touched when he told me that he prays for us and our ministry in Pennsylvania. It gave me chill bumps to hear how this total stranger intercedes for us, and was so encouraging to know that there are people like John fighting for us even in those times when we feel isolated and alone. In the few minutes I spent talking to him, I knew immediately that he was a prayer warrior, and walked away knowing I had met a kindred spirit.

So what is the common denominator in all of these people? I was laying in bed last night, turning that question over in my head. And then it hit me.

Without fail, every one of these individuals have a powerful outward demeanor, because they have a deep inward relationship with God. They place a high priority on consistent, meaningful, private time with the Lord.

Seeing them has challenged me. I want to have that kind of devotional life. I want to BE a person whose face radiates because my heart has communed with God.

I know that I still have a ways to go in that area. I am not as disciplined as I would like to be, and often do seek the approval of others more than the approval of God. I don't pray as much as I would like and wish I was more patient, and gentle and loving.

But I'm on the journey. I am just thankful for these amazing people whose steps I can follow in and learn from.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What a Day!!!!

Today was quite a day--filled with hope for our future, excitement over the general spirit and direction the SBC seems to be taking, and a sobriety at the realization of our shared responsibility.

Several things encouraged me about what happened today, so I'll tackle them one by one.

1. The proposal to invite the WMU to come under the umbrella of the SBC was shot down by messengers, and by a good margin. Let me tell you why I see that as significant. I love the WMU. I have a debt of gratitude to this wonderful organization of women. As a little girl, they taught me about the Cooperative Program and what it means to be Southern Baptist. When I was an MK in college, far away from home and so alone, it was WMU women who encouraged, hugged on me and brought me cookies. They instilled in me a passion to pray for our missionaries. To me, they are the heart of the SBC.

So I was concerned when the idea was proposed to take an organization that works so well, and that God has used so mightily, and bring it under the controls and constraints of another entity.
Apparently my fellow Southern Baptists agree, and they voted to leave the WMU alone. I am praising God today for that.

2. Dr. Frank Page being elected as the new SBC President. Dr. Page is a man who sees missions as priority. He not only voices that conviction, but puts words to action through the ministries of his church. And he is against narrowing the parameters of cooperation.

Today's vote spoke volumes. It told me that many of my fellow SBCers still see missions, and support of the Cooperative Program, as priorities. In spite of all the issues that have been on the table recently, when it comes down to it, our chief concern as a denomination remains the desire to take the gospel to every nation, tribe and tongue.

3. A hunger to get back to the things that count. I have been overwhelmed and greatly encouraged by conversations with fellow Southern Baptists this week. One thing I am hearing is a hunger for Christ to be glorified, and a desire to see all the nations come to Him. I have heard so many amazing and powerful testimonies of things God is doing all over the world. There is an excitement and anticipation that God is at work, and that the best is yet to come.

4. Validation of a new generation of Southern Baptists, coupled with words of wisdom from those who have blazed the trail before us. It has been so affirming to hear many respected leaders speak inclusively of the younger generations within the SBC. There seems to be a desire to adapt and change in order to be missional, and I sense that our leadership is listening to the concerns of the missionaries, pastors, and laypeople at the grassroots.

But I also appreciate their words of admonition and caution. Some of the best advice I have heard recently came from Dr. Iorg on Monday night. He warned of the danger of distractions, and recommended that we choose our words carefully and wisely. This week, numerous people have told me, "I read your blog." That humbled and scared me. I suddenly realized the awesome responsibility that our words carry. As ambassadors for Christ, we need to be so on guard that the things we say bring Him glory and not dishonor.

5. Emphasis on prayer and the leading of the Holy Spirit. It was wonderful today to hear that IMB missionaries all over the world are joining us in prayer for the duration of the convention. Prayer is the key to everything.

Multiple times this week, in sermons that were preached and in conversations with individuals, there was an emphasis on prayer until. That means being obedient to go where God sends us, and then waiting for Him to reveal the next step rather than taking a pre-conceived program and trying to fit God around it. I am convinced that God will move in a powerful way through us when we become a people of earnest, persistent prayer, and when we get still enough to listen.

What an incredible, wonderful, exciting day. I can only respond by saying, "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."


Yesterday we finally got to put faces with many of our fellow bloggers. What an amazing group!!!

These guys (and girls) are sharp, and really have a passion for the Lord. We were able to eat dinner with Marty and Sonya, Paul, Todd, Joel and Amy, David, Wes, Tim, Alan, and Kevin. (Sorry if I left anyone out. I'm a little tired this morning.) Dr. Frank Page also happened to be eating at the restaurant where we were, so we were able to speak to him for a minute as well.

Doug and I came away refreshed and excited about the future of our denomination. Even the program yesterday was great. Nelson Searcy, Kerry Shook and Erwin McManus all preached, while music was led by Shane & Shane, and the worship team from Johnson Ferry.

The Younger Leaders meeting was incredibly encouraging. I was so proud of Doug, too. : ) The tone that was conveyed by all of the men who spoke was that changes are happening in the convention, and that we are not alone in our desires for the denomination. There was a sweet spirit of fellowship and cooperation within the group. We are excited about getting to know many of these young leaders better, and being able to partner with some of them in ministry.

I also got to see five different friends from college at the meeting. That was pretty cool. It's so fun to see what all has happened in our lives in the past 16 years.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the course of the next two days, as we get down to all the business. I am praying that the Holy Spirit will guide and direct the decisions that are made.

Final note: my one regret yesterday was that I did not get to meet Dorcas Hawker. I'm hoping I can track her down today, and we can go get a coke or something together.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Blast from the Past

I still keep up with my friends from the American International School in Johannesburg through a shared message board.

Sometimes I get openly persecuted for my beliefs, and even just for what I am. Being in vocational ministry is not PC with this group. A couple of them believe it is absolutely bigoted to say there is only one way to God. Some are Buddhist, Bahai, Hindu, Mormon, Unitarian, Atheists and various other faiths. So I am clearly the minority in the bunch.

But we still connect through our shared memories of high school. So when a friend posted photos this week, we had fun looking through them and commenting on past events.

This one is of me in 10th grade, with my two constant companions, Chrissy and Kim. We were inseparable, and everyone called us the "Three Musketeers"!!!

I am thankful for these two. They were amazing friends to me, and provided me a "home away from home". Both came from strong Catholic families, so provided a good moral foundation for me and a "safe" place to go when I needed to retreat from the MK home. They were good girls, and we had so much fun together that we never even considered getting into trouble. I did, however, try my first taste of alcohol at Chrissy's house. I had a bad cold and her Mom insisted on giving me a shot of brandy. I remember thinking my throat was on fire!!!! : )

I went to Mass with them sometimes, and was privileged to be invited to Kim's confirmation. They were both military brats. Chrissy's dad was in the Navy, and Kim's dad was the Air Force attache and pilot for the embassy. Through them I was able to meet the Ambassador and lots of other important dignitaries. We also liked to hang out at the Marine house, especially for patriotic celebrations.

Their diplomatic immunity could be really convenient at times, too--especially since we lived in the throes of apartheid. When we wanted to take our "non-white" friends out to restricted eating establishments, all it took was a flash of the diplomatic pass, and nobody could refuse us service. I guess it was our way of protesting the racist system, and taking a political stand.

I was glad to find an appropriate way to protest. My best friend from Zimbabwe, Indira, was considered "non-white" under the standards of the South African government. That made me really, really angry. She and I would not have been allowed in most stores, restaurants or even neighborhoods together. Her uncle was murdered in a South African prison by RSA policemen after he was arrested for his involvement in a protest. (Indira's family were also personal friends of Nelson Mandela.)

So my political activism was in honor of my friend, as well as a stand against the moral injustice of the system.

But we also tried to do our part to help in non-political ways. We raised some money and went into Soweto to help with a humanitarian aid organization. I will never forget the despair of the people in the shanty towns, and the utter hopelessness in the eyes of the children. In actuality we probably placed ourselves in grave danger by going there. But God protected us, and those images impacted my life from that time on.

Pray for my friends from AISJ. They are spread all over the world, and most of them have everything that you could ever want from a worldly viewpoint. One is even a succesful actor in Hollywood, having appeared on shows like NYPD Blue. But they are so completely lost, and their personal lives are just empty. I can read the hollowness between the lines of their posts.

It breaks my heart sometimes to even think about them, and I will never give up hope. I am holding to the promise of James 5:16, that fervent prayer can accomplish much.

A Life that Counts

A few posts ago I told you how I had been able to reconnect with an old friend from Zimbabwe.

Today I received an exciting email. It was from a guy named Rob, who also knew the Drewitz boys. Here's what he had to say,
If you could put me in touch with them I would be very grateful as those two had an effect on me giving my life to the Lord, and they do not know it. I actually use them as an example of how we witness through our actions when nobody is looking or watching. I was.

I was an exchange student from Seattle, WA to Bulawayo that year and would be very grateful if you could give me an email address to get in touch with them.
What a precious email!!! The thing that struck me was the power of a quiet, consistent, Christlike life. I was trying to peg what quality the Drewitz boys had that was so exceptional. And then it hit me.

They HONOR others. And it is from the heart. I truly think they see value in everyone they meet. I know that one thing I have heard them say is, "everyone has something to contribute, no matter how small."

In a world that values being RIGHT, Stefan and Samuel value kindness even more.

As we prepare to leave for Greenboro tomorrow, this was a timely reminder for me. To be honest, I'm weary of the conflict and struggle and messiness within our convention. I have been meditating on 1 John 1:7 this morning. If we are all walking in the light, then why is our fellowship so broken? Lord, heal us!!!! Have mercy on us!!!

I agree with Steve Walker--my truest hopes for Greensboro are that God would get hold of our hearts, that we would be focused on Him, that there would be brokenness and unity, and that HE would be glorified in a way never seen before in our convention.

Lord, above all, teach me to honor others in the way that you would honor them. Let me be a channel of your love and kindness. And may my life bring glory to you. AMEN.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

3 Days and Counting!!!!

On Friday the World Cup begins with Germany playing Costa Rica. Later that same day, Poland will face off against Ecuador.

I can hardly wait!!! And I have to pack for Greensboro in the midst of all the excitement.

In addition, my all-time soccer hero, Pele, is going to be at the opening celebration. I doubt he'll be doing any of his famous bicycle kicks, but it is still really cool that he will be there.

The US will play their first game, against the Czech Republic, on Monday the 12th. And my second favorite team, Argentina, will kick off the Cup series by playing Cote d'Ivoire on Saturday the 10th.

There has already been some drama, though. Both Argentina and England have key players who are injured. The verdict is still out on whether either will be able to play. Lionel Messi is a top scorer for the Argentinian team, so I'm holding my breath on that one.

Are any of you soccer fans? Anyone else interested in doing brackets with me? (just for fun--no gambling involved.)

The Antichrist?

My friend Kelly has a great post on his blog today. Check it out here.

My Place in the Big Picture

A recent post on my friend Tim's blog got me thinking. Who am I? Have I accomplished what I had hoped by this stage in my life? Have I really found where I fit in the big picture?

It's strange--all my childhood I strove towards achieving this ultimate goal of adulthood, but upon reaching it, found it rather anti-climactic. I love being a Mom and really enjoy campus ministry. But on the inside, I question my capabilities sometimes.

I still don't even feel like a "grown-up". I keep waiting for this magic moment when I will finally arrive. That point where I have wisdom, maturity, can parent with grace and flair, and breeze through ministry knowing just exactly what to do and say in every situation. I had imagined that by 37 I would be further along than this.

But the truth is, I still spend a lot of my time crying "Help!!!" to God. I don't know exactly how to navigate through ministry. It's a day-to-day thing for me, and I spend a lot of time on my face seeking direction. I'm just thankful that He is a graceful, patient and very ever-present God. There is NO WAY I could ever have made it this far without Him.

Even in parenting, there are days I stop and look at my kids and think, "What was God thinking? Couldn't He have found someone more capable to be their mother? They deserve better!!!"

And like Tim, I struggle with pressure from the worldly standards for success. I also had high expectations for my future, and was serious about academics. As a woman, I have battled the added pressure to be skinny, charming, graceful and beautiful. (But unfortunately, I didn't come with the tall and svelte, socially elegant DNA package!!!)

I often find myself caught in the "significance" trap--looking for validation and approval from others. However, that hope will always dissapoint, because it is not the true source of our value. It only causes a downward spiral into self-deprecation.

In reality, the only opinion that really matters is GOD's opinion. He says we are chosen, dearly loved, called, forgiven, fearfully and wonderfully made, powerful, holy, righteous, valueable, capable, purposeful, precious, mighty, beautiful, rich, and destined for greatness. He has made us intentionally to accomplish a very specific task. We have an intricately designed personality, spirit and set of gifts that are totally unique and special. Nothing about us is accidental. We are not mistakes. We are amazing creations of an Almighty God, who will one day be fully complete and whole when we are united forever with Him in Heaven.

WOW!!! 'nuff said.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blue Man Group

I really enjoy the Blue Man Group. Not only do I like their unique sound, but they are always so creative and visually exciting.

But I have never gotten to see them in concert. I have heard that it is an amazing sensory experience.

We just found out they will be in Pittsburgh at the Mellon Arena on September 30. If there is any way posssible, I'm planning to be there.

Have any of you seen them? Any other Blue Man fans out there?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Mission M Possible

I came across a fantastic website this week, and connected with some guys who are doing great stuff with youth. I think they are really on to something here!

As a college minister, I'm excited about the prospect of getting youth like this coming to our universities. How incredible would it be to have strong Christian students, trained and equipped, intentionally coming to plant their lives as missional students on our campuses?

We hear from our college students all the time that they want more depth. They want comprehensive teaching and tools to help them dig into God's Word. They desire hands-on, practical, applicable discipleship. And they want to be mentored.

Most say they did not get that in their youth groups.
Many of them have told us they are tired of having church "marketed" to them. They see through the entertainment, the facades, and the glitzy little packages. This generation is willing to go anywhere and do anything for the things they believe in. They are passionate, courageous and strong. But we've been giving them milk when they want meat.

How cool would it be if we started getting youth coming to college, ready to plug into our campus ministries, who were already strong in discipleship and equipped with the knowledge of how to plant a church? Can you imagine the impact we could have on university campuses across the world?

I would encourage you to check out Mission M Possible

Let's get serious in our churches about equipping our youth. I believe Geoff Baggett is right--if we engage them at this level, I seriously doubt we will continue to see students dropping away from church at the rate they have been in the past decade.

Alternative Bumper Stickers

I found this cartoon from Great Britain and thought it was hilarious.

Today as we were driving to church, Doug and I were taking note of all of the annoying bumper stickers: "Honk if you love Jesus", "Proud parent of an honor student", "You're lookin' at my kid's inheritance", etc.

So we started talking about alternative bumper stickers we would like to create. Here's some we came up with "Proud parent of a "D" student", "Honk if you're an idiot", and "My compact car didn't bury me in debt like your sports car."

One other fun sticker we would like to put on our little Toyota Echo: "When I grow up I want to be a Suburban."

What bumper stickers annoy you? And what alternatives/fun bumper stickers would you come up with?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Want a hot dog?

Katie, who is a 10-year old GA in GA, sent me this picture of her dog, Peanut. I thought it was so cute that I had to post it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Good News from a Distant Land

Downtown in Granna, Sweden

Last night, as I lay talking to God, I asked Him for some refreshment. This has been such a lonely year, and I was really feeling it yesterday.

God is so good! I woke up this morning, and had an email in my inbox from a very special childhood friend. His name is Stefan, and I have not seen or talked to him in 21 years. He and his wife Anette now live in Granna, Sweden.

Stefan and his brother Samuel were some of my best friends when we were teenagers in Zimbabwe. Their parents were Nazarene missionaries from Graaskarg, Sweden. The Drewitz boys, along with my good friend Bev and I, would laugh until it hurt. They were funny, and crazy, and embraced life with passion. They also loved God, and enjoyed having discussions about what they were learning in His word.

Their whole family was amazing. The best way to describe them is "warm and gentle." They had five kids, of which Stefan was the oldest--all with bright blue eyes, blonde hair and rosy cheeks. They were a very close, happy and loving family, and sang beautifully. They went to a different church, but would come and do specials at ours. It was like watching a scene from the "Sound of Music."

Stefan and I didn't really hang out with the same groups at school. But he was the kind of friend who I could pass in the hall, and he would always give me a huge smile and encouraging greeting. Then on weekends, when our youth groups would get together, we would pick up where we left off the week before.

And that's exactly what we're doing now. Even though 20 years have passed, we just caught up as if we'd never been apart. It is so cool to have some of those special people in life--who are loyal friends, even across miles and years.

God knew that I needed that reminder of His love and faithfulness. I am thanking Him today for this special blessing.

Proverbs 25:25 "Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land."