Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shepherds and Sheep

It's no secret (at least we hope not!) that we have come to feel an increasingly stronger call to long-term, bi-vocational ministry over our past few years as volunteer missionaries. Indeed, in some ways it feels like a natural extension of the sort of multifaceted work we've been doing in coffeehouses overseas.

For those reasons, this morning's reading from our devotional guide resonated even more strongly as we begin to think and pray and dream about what sort of pastoral opportunities God might be calling us to in the not-so-distant future:

"The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. 

"You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them.

"So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep were scattered, they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with no one to search or seek for them." -Ezekiel 34:1-6 (NRSV)

Such challenging (and convicting) words for ministers and missionaries everywhere! :) We all know sheep who have been lost for some of these reasons - and some of us have even been the sheep who got lost for these reasons!

We invite you to pray alongside us as we seek to know God's will and plan and (especially) timing for the things God is calling us -all of us- to do, and that we might be the people that God is calling us -all of us- to be. :) God can be trusted!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I think.

There is always enough money for our needs.
That's God's provision, I think.

But there is seldom (ever?) enough money for our wants and needs.
That's stewardship, I think.

There is never enough money, it seems, for everyone's needs.
At least not if we're all wrapped up in pursuing our wants.
That's why we're called to social justice.

To feed the hungry; to nourish the thirsty; to shelter the stranger;
to clothe the naked; to visit the imprisoned.

I think.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Disciples serve.

"The world's system of reward has nothing to do with the disciple's reward. A disciple of Jesus Christ is called first to be servant of all, and the leader is to take the lowliest position of service. 

This system turns the world's concept of leadership upside down. The first disciples found it hard to understand and even more difficult to live by such a value system.

But Jesus seems to say there is no other way.  Disciples serve.
-Reuben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God

Friday, February 7, 2014

All Things in Common

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

"Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 

"Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. 

"And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." -Acts 2:42-47 (NRSV)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Still at work...

For the past few weeks, I've been taking a class for ordination called "Providing Christian Education." It's a very interesting class in some ways, less so in others...but in the midst of this week's reading, I stumbled across this humbling, encouraging, inspiring nugget:

"Have you ever preached a sermon and  realized it was terrible and prayed just to finish and just leave without anyone talking to you? Then, after the sermon someone says that the Lord really spoke to me today through your words? 

The Holy Spirit worked in spite of you. 

This is because the student has access to the Holy Spirit just as much as the teacher does.

That gives us hope when we teach because even though we want to do our best every time, we don’t have to be perfect. Even when we fail, God’s Holy Spirit is still at work."


An Invitation to Simplicity

We've been thinking a lot about simplicity and intentionality lately.

We travel a lot for work, so we're constantly learning better ways to travel light. How to emphasize the essentials, and hold all things loosely. What really matters and what's just "stuff."

We're also going to be house-sharing with some good friends of ours for the next four months while we're back in OKC on home assignment. And while most folks would see that as inconvenience, in a lot of ways it suits us (and them) just fine!

We're beginning to think that a life that's lived to its fullest -socially, economically, and spiritually- is by definition lived in community. And perhaps that's why today's devotional reading hit me so hard:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David."
-Isaiah 55:1-3

Simplicity. Intentionality. Community. Love.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All Things are Passing.

"Only the practice of faith can verify what we believe. Does faith permeate your life? Does it form your judgments about death, about success?

Does it influence the way you read the newspaper? Do you have a divine sense of humor that sees through people and events into the unfolding plan of God? 

When things are turbulent on the surface of your life, do you retain a quiet calm, firmly fixed in ultimate reality? 

As Thérèse of Lisieux said, 'Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God alone remains.'" -Brennan Manning