Not your Mother’s Missions Conference- Part One

Between Christmas and New Years I had the privilege of attending the CROSS Conference in Kentucky-a new missions conference for college students focusing on bringing attention to the cross cultural needs of unengaged and unreached people groups.

I’m going to be honest with you here. Normally at missions presentations or conferences, I end up walking away from said event full of –not the desire to go or serve-but full of guilt. Heatedly they stand before us, waging their fingers, condemning us for frivolous spending and living here in America when thousands upon thousands of people are: insert any host of horrible things that go on on this repulsive planet.  I try and hide my Starbucks cups, and even more try and hide my obvious discomfort with the idea that I might be “called”.

This conference was different.

Don’t get me wrong. Facts were still presented. The need is real. The need is great.

But I found not anger and coercion on the lips of the speakers, but instead passion and gratitude. It is only from a heart overflowing with thankfulness for salvation and a true comprehension of the reality of eternity that anyone should be a missionary. Not pressure to be a “super-Christian-missionary” or because of a “love for culture” –but because of a love for THE GOSPEL, a desire to go, and the ability to go. This was articulated and praised so consistently and so clearly. Missions is a vital, wonderful, incredible part of the Christian life, and I am so thankful for this conference for reminding me of it’s beauty.

I could literally type for days on all the different thoughts and convictions I experienced during those three days (I took over 30 pages of notes…) but for time’s sake I’ll share just one takeaway with you today.

It’s called the 747 concept-and it is simply this: Don’t imagine for a minute that if you were to decide to go do missions cross culturally that you would board a 747, fly across an ocean, and sometime between the first passing out of peanuts and the final descent, a miraculous-magical-supernatural-holy spirit-intervention would happen inside of you. Don’t think that you’ll automatically become comfortable sharing the gospel with the bread lady, and your neighbor, and that you’ll of course know how to disciple and successfully lead Bible Studies and prayer groups. Here’s the thing:

If you are not doing it here-you will not do it there.

And if you are not doing it here or there-you are in sin.

That is me! I seriously think that if I chose to spread the gospel in a foreign land-that I’d go all Nike on myself and “Just Do It”! But if I do not do it here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave-why do I think I would consistently do it well somewhere where I am an alien?

So the take away is this-if you (and your local church) feel that you are called to the missions field, make sure you are doing here what you want to be doing there. America is the melting pot-you can find people from all over the world to meet with and talk to to understand their culture, practice speaking their language, and invest in!

And if you are not a “goer” but a “sender”, here are two things for you, 1.) You are just as responsible for making disciples as a missionary-so get your rear in gear and minister the way God has equipped you to! 2.) Give ridiculously. Work hard. Earn lots of money! So you can give more to the spread of gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation!!

This post requires action! Are you going to be more intentional with who and how you disciple? Pray for evangelistic opportunities? Re-vamp your budget to give more? All the above? 🙂

The Good Samaritan-sort of…


A couple thousand years ago, as Christ begins his journey to Jerusalem and to the cross, a pompous religious man told Jesus that if he loved God with everything he had, and loved his neighbor as himself-that would be enough to earn his way into heaven (Luke 10:25-28).   Jesus-wanting to teach the man that its not the ones that “get everything right religiously” that are seen as righteous in God’s eyes- told him a story about an unlikely character (a Samaritan) who was more obedient to God than men who devote their entire lives to doing everything right-but miss the point of God’s grace and love given to them that they should bestow to others.

Here is my version of an updated, creative way to hear the story:

The Good “Samaritan”

I normally love doing business trips. I like the drive. I like hotels. I like being in new places. I was traveling for work to go to a week long seminar at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. It had been wonderfully profitable for our organization, and to celebrate, I had decided to stay in the city that night for drinks with some of our new legal partners. After some good laughs, and getting a bottle of their house wine to go, I was ready to head back to my hotel.  It was getting late, and since my ride wanted to stay for a few more drinks, I decided to catch a cab and head back to the Upper East Side. Besides, checkout was at 10am tomorrow morning and I was ready to relay all the good news to all my higher ups via email from the comfort of my own home.

What happened next was much of a blur. To this day, I don’t’ know if I told the taxi driver the wrong street name, or if he was part of the plan, but somehow I ended up being dropped off somewhere near Carol Park in West Philadelphia. By the time I had gotten all my belongings out of the taxi and realized that I saw no sign of my hotel-the car was long gone. Dazed, buzzed, and frustrated I started walking down the street, hoping to find another driver. I heard feet behind me. Heavy feet. Quite a few pairs of feet. My heart was racing, but I blamed the alcohol and told myself to just keep moving. The faster I heard them move, the faster I moved my 4 inch heals.

I’ll spare you from all the gruesome details, but the long and short of it was, I got mugged. Praise God, that’s all that happened. One had a brick, another some sort of metal bar, and the third guy, the ringleader, was the one who used his hands. I am a fighter. I yelled and screamed and put up as much as a fight as I could. I was terrified of being raped and murdered; I thought for sure they weren’t going to stop at my purse. I am not sure what stopped them. It sure wasn’t me-their crowbar and brick left me bloody and helpless, and there sure wasn’t any outside help stopping them. For whatever reason, they left. And I couldn’t move. I was pretty sure I had broken ribs, my jaw was dislocated, and I was loosing blood fast. I knew I was going to die if I didn’t get up out of that ally.

It was probably going on two in the morning, but I looked up and could see some activity in a window above me. I called out as loudly as I could for help. Though it was probably only seconds, it seemed like an eternity until a middle aged white woman popped her head out of her window. She looked down at me, we made eye contact, her gold chain rosary sparkled. Then she slipped her head back in her window and slid the window shut. I still couldn’t’ move. I don’t know if it was because my body was in shock, or my spirit was. Did that woman really just shut her window? I blacked out for a while, I don’t know how long, it still wasn’t light out, and I knew I didn’t have much time. I crawled to the edge of the ally and lay there, trying my hardest to not let me body shut off. My head on the pavement, I heard footsteps. Too weak to get up I just opened my  eyes a sliver-just enough to see a pair of shiny black men’s dress shoes coming closer to me. I closed my eyes and opened them again; only to this time find the shoes further away, instead of closer. They had quickly crossed the street and I was beginning to lose hope. The next thing that I opened my eyes to, was a long pair of legs, covered in holey, fishnet stockings. I could hear a loud voice asking me questions, but I couldn’t answer anything. I heard snippets of what she said-something about getting blood in her car, and something else about my hotel. But I quickly blacked out.

The next time I woke up, I was in a hospital bed. White sheets, white walls, white blanket, white robe, and then a visitor-the same fishnet stockings, 7 inch bright red heals, little red and gold sequence dress, and makeup on her face for days. She smiled at me, introduced herself, her profession as a prostitute, and our story. She found me on the side of the road right after she got off work a couple of nights ago. She saw my nametag incredibly still attached to my coat jacket, that though torn and bloody, still showed what agency I worked for-a law office from Pittsburg. She put me in her car, my blood staining her new seat covers, and took me into the hospital. While I was there she called my office, informing them of what happened, acquired my hotel information, and got my bags to be delivered to the hospital. Each night when she goes in to work, she pays my hospital bill and then gives the nurses extra cash-saying that if I wake up and need anything, to make sure I get it . 

So at this time, I might look at a religious, prideful man and ask, “In this story, who was being most God-honoring and obedient to Scripture? Who would have been more likely to “earn” their salvation, if anyone?” Well of course, it was the prostitute. Because, unlike all the other characters in the story, she was loving and sacrificing for someone who didn’t do anything to deserve such care from her. She was loving her neighbor. What a shot to the pride to say that, if based on works, a prostitute is closer to the gates of heaven than a man of the church.

If based on works.

But of course, redemption is not based on works, for no one is ever good enough to earn their salvation. That’s the gift and the beauty of the gospel. He who knew no sin became sin for us. We, unlike the woman in this story, put ourselves in this situation, and were dead. Not just mostly dead, (Princess Bride reference) but completely dead and unable to call out for help.  In a way, Christ is the Ultimate Good Samaritan who though despised and rejected by men-this sinless Savior, seeing us dead in our sins, came out,  saved us, and reconciled us to a healthy relationship with God.

Our lives should be a response to that payment. Our lives should be lived out of gratitude and love for the God who saved us and gave us everything so that we may rejoice in and be satisfied in Him. Thank God for the Good Samaritan, and his example of love and selflessness, but even more-thank God for Christ, the incredible gift of salvation, and the matchless beauty of grace.

A Question about the Super Bowl

THIS ONESo though I’m not a huge football fan (I don’t know what a linebacker does, or how many downs does what, or the names of any NFL head coaches) I do enjoy watching the game with others, and I enjoy playing flag football as long as the temperature isn’t less than my age.

I don’t especially understand when my friends yell at the T.V. when a bad play happens. Not necessarily when an UNFAIR play/call happens-I get the frustration there…I don’t understand the anger so much when a poor play happens.  “How could you miss that field goal?!?!   IT WAS RIGHT THERE!!!” or “I CAN’T BELIEVER HE JUST DROPPED THAT BALL!!! UGG! WHY IS HE EVEN ON THE FIELD?!?!” I’m the sympathetic voice in the background saying, “It sure looked like he was trying hard. Poor guy. He is still very talented. I bet he is having a rough day. Maybe his kids are sick! Maybe he just had a fight with one of his best friends!” (Imagine me sounding like Marcell the Shell) So, come the Super Bowl, though I don’t quite understand, I will still absolutely enjoy watching the game. But that isn’t what I am normally MOST excited about.

Like many people, I looked forward to the Super Bowl because of the commercials.

They are so bizarre and entertaining-it is a great thing to look forward to! Well, that and the possibility of buffalo chicken dip. I don’t know if I’ve just become more sensitive to it over the past few years, or if it has become more of an epidemic, but holy cow…the sensuality and sinful sexuality interwoven into the Super Bowl and it’s commercials. Last year, and the year before, I felt uncomfortable many times, as for 30 seconds to a minute, I had to sit there watching a promotion of fornication or an enticement to laugh at the sins for which Christ died.

I’ll be going to a Super Bowl party, and though still looking forward to the commercials, I am also anxious about some of their provocative moments. I’ve still got a lot to look forward to (read: fellowship, and buffalo chicken dip) but am now anticipating frustration in some of what I might see.

So my question is, what are we to do? Anything? Do we look away? Change the channel? Discuss the worldview portrayed in each “Go Daddy” commercial?  Am I overreacting? Do we just “suck it up” and realize it is part of our culture? What do you think?

A Parable Based Poem (Luke 14:28-32)

There is so much to research

When making decisions

So many options to weigh.

We don’t just go and do,

Decide and like

First we search all night and all day.

Before buying a house

We research our credit score,

Get our mortgage preapproved

See what we can afford.

We save for down payments

And review closing costs

All before our first bid,

So no money is lost.

We perseverate.

We investigate.

We deliberate-

We do not quickly decide.

An investment as big as a house,

Should not be made in one stride.

Or imagine a king

Wishing to go off to war

“Get ready your armor”, he shouts

“Sharpen the blade of your sword”

Wait! He must wait! There is much to discuss

To debate; Premeditate.

Before the battle-is a must.

Would he not first sit down and meet round a table

Discussing their chances of woe?

Would he not first calculate the size of each army?

Before deciding to stay or to go?

For if he does not first look

At what may be ahead

Thanks to poor calculation

His men, His Kingdom, Himself

May all soon be dead!

Now of greater importance

Than either of these things

Is the choice of WHO GOD IS

And what that choice brings.

Don’t be quick to decided,

Give your life or

Say your prayer.

Understand the risk,

Understand the cost,

And then go on from there.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” ― A.W. Tozer

Needing Reminders of Truth

(Myrtle Tree)

This week especially I needed to be reminded of a few things.  I needed to be reminded of the greatness and the goodness of the God that I serve.  I needed to be reminded of His glorious attributes and the magnificent gift of Salvation, and of His love for His children. I needed to be reminded of Truth.

So here is some truth found in Isaiah:

“Ho! Every one who thirsts, 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 do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
“Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
“Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
“Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,
declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

12 “For you will go out with joy
And be led forth with peace;
The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you,
And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13 “Instead of the thorn bush (that which is temporary and is burned with fire in other parts of Scripture) the cypress  (an evergreen) will come up, And instead of the nettle (that awful stuff that makes your skin burn) the myrtle (it has beautiful pink flowers!) will come up,
And [e]it will be a [f]memorial to the Lord,
For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off.”

Then, Charles Spurgeon reminded me of a few more things I needed to hear:

This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help thee.” “It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside my glory and became a man for thee; I gave up my life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. ‘Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. Help thee?’ Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. I will help thee.'”

O my soul, is not this enough? Dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here–thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper!

And lastly, Job 42 reminded me of a proper response to God’s matchless majesty:

Then Job answered the Lord and said,

“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”

Praise the LORD for His patience with us as we foolishly forget and question His power and graciousness.  What a blessing to have Scipture in our own language that we can read and receive absolute truth and nourishment for our souls.

I hope this reminder was as encouraging to you as it was to me!