Browsing Category: Missions

The Beautiful Mystery of Tension

It’s been just over three months since I got back from China. That trip was the first time I’d been out of the states since my junior year of college. (Entirely too long!!) And my first trip that wasn’t just traveling. It was traveling with purpose. I went because not going didn’t seem like an option.

Coming back home was nothing like I thought it would be & everything like my friends warned me it would be :) Endless questions. Processing that seems to simply spin me in circles. And an aching in my heart to go back. When I say I want, with everything that I am, to be here in Nashville doing exactly what I’m doing, & at the same time that I want, with everything that I am, to be “there”…somewhere on the other side of the world simply loving on people, I mean it. I know that may sound impossible, but it’s the best explanation I’ve got.

Being back home means living in the tension between here & there. Between community & justice. Between comfort & risk. It means loving what I get to do for a living  my heart is breaking because I see the faces of those still in the darkness of unbelief flashing through my mind.

How does one live in this tension? What does that look like? I don’t know. I still ask myself that question every day. But in the meantime, I’ve learned to try and embrace it…most of the time. God gently refocuses me & reminds me that it’s not about me, about my processing, my time, my not understanding.

No, it’s all about Him. His plan. His time. His grace. His knowledge. His purpose. I’m learning that sometimes in order to prepare my heart for what He has next for me He may need to plant some questions..ignite some mystery. And if there’s anything tension does, it’s ignite mystery. A mystery that if I’m just willing to have a little patience, can be quite beautiful.

Have you learned to fight beauty in the mystery of tension?

Just Go

“What if we identified where God was moving & joined him?” That was a question Jamie posed my first Sunday at Journey after moving to Nashville exactly a year ago today. And that question has been in the back of my mind ever since.

I think sometimes we make it too complicated. God is always working which means there is always something for us to join Him in. Unfortunately I think we spend so much time trying to make our own dreams or projects into His will that we miss thousands of opportunities He has for us to join Him in the incredible things He is already doing.

When God says, “go,” go! Stop analyzing. Stop trying to be sure. Just go. And if He hasn’t said “go here,” then look at where He’s working & join Him. Because the truth is, we’ve already been given to the command to go. All of us. Go may mean across the world, it may mean across the country, or it may mean just across the street or even across the room. It’s all going.

Either way, I think most of the time it really is that simple. Just go.

 

One Simple Question

I was listening to a missionary give a talk recently & he asked a simple question that has been haunting me since: “Have you put your ‘yes’ on the table?”

He had just gotten done talking about how all God asks is that we put our “yes” on the table. Fully on the table. And then we’ve got to walk away. We can’t stand next to it with one finger on the corner of the paper waiting to pull it back if the conditions aren’t comfortable. We can’t stand off to the side ready to sprint to the table if the timing isn’t what we wanted.

My conviction in that one simple question? I’ve put my yes on the table but I haven’t walked away. It’s still on my terms. And while nothing is impossible for God to work through, He’s asking for my full, complete, unhindered “yes.” And, He deserves that.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not about going. It’s about being willing to go. Willing to leave it all behind. To walk away from the known & into the unknown “yes” that God has for you.

Have you put your “yes” on the table?

 

Throwback Sundays…Needs No Words

My heart has been breaking for all of Asia over the last three months. Breaking in ways that are bigger than me…beyond my control.

This little boy’s face has been at the forefront of my mind since I met him in Memphis this last July. I believe he is from Burma.

Today, my heart is breaking for him.

You can read my first post about this little boy here.

Because I Love Sharing Stories

For most of my life, Asia wasn’t a place I wanted to visit. In fact, if I’m completely honest, it was a place that I had a lot of negative stereotypes about in my head. I lived in a dorm in high school along with about a hundred students from all across Asia. A few of them became very dear friends, but most of them drove me absolutely crazy at age 15.

So, the fact that God has been breaking my heart for that part of His world over the last 6 months or so is quite comical to me. It’s completely His way. And I love that.

In February a few people from my church, people I am honored to call friends, are headed over to Thailand. My heart and prayers will be going with them and I want to share their story with you. Because one of my favorite things in life is seeing how God uses people for His Kingdom purpose, especially when those people are my friends. And I love love love sharing those stories with others.

But, they can tell their story much better than I, so take a minute and watch the video:

The Story of Journey & Thailand from grateful inconvenience on Vimeo.

Please keep them in your prayers. If you want to be a part of their story…of God’s story in Asia, you can donate here

The Twenty – #1: The Most Difficult Thing about Working at a Church

Gary Molander is someone I have great respect for and someone I think you should know. And when Gary posted a list of 20 things he wanted people to write about I got some inspiration. So, welcome to The Twenty series. One post a week. One topic from the list each week. Some of them I already have countless ideas for. Others, not so much. So, it ought to be a good challenge. :)

#1: The Most Difficult Thing About Working at a Church

Looking back I honestly think that the most difficult thing about working at a church for me was what came after I left.

I have struggled since leaving my position at a church to feel like I am living my purpose. And I’ve just recently begun to understand why. I feel called to serve the Church. And for the last 7 years of my life serving the Church has been my job. Though I was only on staff for 2 years at a church prior to that I served in roles that were volunteer staff for lack of a better description. So for 7 years what I have labeled ministry has been very regular, very scheduled, very constant in my life.

Fast forward to now, and I am not doing anything close to that. I am involved in my local church and volunteer a bit outside of that as well, but not nearly on the scale that I have for so long. Yet, I still long to live for something greater than myself…to feel like I am living my God-given purpose.

I’ve come to the realization that I have defined ministry as a job rather than a lifestyle.  I came to equate serving the Church with vocational ministry and ministry with being on church at a staff. I put serving the Church in the box of church staff and ministry in the box of church staff. In my mind the way to serve the Church was to be on church staff and ministry was being on church staff. And the reality is I think many who work in churches today end up doing that same thing without even knowing it.

But ministry is so much bigger than being on staff at a church and serving the Church is so much bigger than vocational ministry. Ministry is life. Life is ministry. At the end of the day ministry is people, it is serving the Church, it is compassion and caring and supporting and encouraging and admonishing and discipling and mentoring and loving. It is life. And it happens in schools and department stores. On blogs and on airplanes. In medical offices and art studios. It happens wherever it is that God places you. And so does serving the Church.

As I retrain my brain and learn redefine the term “ministry” I see that I really am living my purpose. If I am loving Him and loving others. If I am living out my faith, using the gifts He’s given me, then I am living my purpose. I am serving the Church. I am doing ministry.

How do you define “ministry” and “serving the Church?”