Friday, September 26, 2008

I will Be There (a devotional)

A couple of weeks ago the Serbian team landed in-country.  I like this pic of them taken at Copper because it reminds me of the promise Jesus made after giving the Great Commish. 'I am with you always, to the very end of the age'. 

Now I am not saying Evan (on right) is perfect but he is most likely to play the lead in a Passion play and I think he was the model for the pic of cool Jesus.    

All kiddin' aside there is great comfort not only to the trio of guys serving in Serbia but for all of us.  He didn't just say "Here's something to keep you busy for the next couple of millenniums, send in your monthly stats and I will be back some time when you least expect it." So in turn we say to each other, "Jesus is coming soon... so look busy."  No, Jesus promises His presence not just when the work is done but even now as we help build His Kingdom among all peoples.    

So all year-long  - He is there.
When you are out trying to find others to talk to about Him - He is there.
When you are rejected - He is there.
When in joy you get to led someone to life in Him - He is there.
When you weep over disciples who are considering walking away - He is there.
When you feel lonely - He is there.
When you are sick - He is there.
When you are wondering what the spank you are doing - He is there.
When you are serving the least of these - He is there.
When you dread getting out of bed  - He is there.
When its a perfect STINT day - He is there.
When you & your roommate are arguing over who left the unwashed dishes in the sink - He is there.
When you feel misunderstood - He is there.
When you are at your greatest height of joy this year - He is there.
When you are at the depths of despair - He is there.

He is with you.  Not just some mystically apparition.  This is not just some token forgotten phrase as He saw you off at the airport.  "Dude, I am there for you."  It's a promise.  A vow. A guarantee.  Take it to the bank.  (Oops, maybe not a confident phrase in today's market.)  Count on it... whether you feel like its true or not.  He is with you.

What hope that gives!  What confidence!  What reassurance!  What power!  What joy!  You cannot fail.   He is there!

PS.  Pray for the Serbian team as Brian, Chas & Evan have challenged 5 students - Mico, Dijana, Teadora, Zizi & Johana - to serve on a leadership team with them.  This is not just a committee but they have asked these young believers to function fully with them as the team this year.  Pray that this year will go a long way into helping them see a fully student-led movement in Novi Sad.

Friday, September 19, 2008

On Suffering (a devotional)

Sometimes Stint feels like trying to juggle live animals. Just when you feel like everything is under control, the animals writhe around and you lose your balance. There are times when the suffering--whether from homesickness, culture shock, interpersonal struggles on your team or fatigue from doing evangelism--seems unbearable.

On top of that, there's a subtle belief in American Christianity that if we follow Jesus, nothing will ever go wrong for us. It's not a new idea. In fact, in Matthew 16 we see Peter saying much the same thing to Jesus. Jesus shares (in verse 21) that he will "suffer many things" and then be killed and come to life again.

Peter, no doubt with good intentions, pulls Jesus aside and rebukes him. "This will never happen to you," he says.

In a famous moment, Jesus says, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men." Jesus calls Peter's philosophy of the future satanic and tells him that he has in mind "the things of men."

I'll be frank. I prefer a life without suffering. Who doesn't? Even Jesus told the Father that his preference would be to avoid the cross if possible (Mark 14:36). But Jesus tells us that we if we live a life of avoiding pain and suffering, we can't truly become like him. In fact, immediately following this conversation with Peter he turns to the disciples and says, "If anyone will come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? "

There will be times of temptation on stint, when you will look at the world around you and think, "Why am I making all these sacrifices? I have Christian friends back home who are making plenty of money and living a life of ease. And here I am, suffering and in pain. What is the point of this?"

Remember, Christ suffered. If we are to become like him, we will experience suffering as well. And remember, too, that Jesus has called you to stint this year. Your friends may have been called to another context or job or place in life this year. Who know what the future holds? But for today, pick up your cross and follow. He has walked this road ahead of us, and he will give us strength to do the things he to which he has called us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Invitation to a Cool Event

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 9 a.m. Craig Johring, who has been a key player in Enfoque Mexico (the City Focus strategy in Mexico City) will be doing a 35 minute training on how to launch movements on multiple campuses. He's presenting it in Minneapolis, but it will be available on the web, free for all. Because that's the way the internet should be.

Here's the link... there's no login or cost of any kind*.

*Because the internet should be free.

That's How We Roll

You might think that we here at Casa WSN don't know what your life is like. You might think that we tell you "Love Your Team" but we don't have to live that out. Here's a picture to show you that just ain't so. Look how we cram in together on our way to meals. We take our closeness as a team seriously.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One Dog Allowed

Lima, Peru has just passed a law that residents in the city can only own one dog. This is an interesting clash of values for us as residents of the U.S.A. What can we learn about Peruvian attitudes toward community, personal responsibility and concepts of freedom from this legislation?

And what can we learn from the fact that no similar ban exists for cats?

Meanwhile, in China we see winged cats. I'm not kidding, and no, it's not a hoax. *

Also in China we can see evidence of the difference between a guilt-based and shame-based culture as a major city decides the easiest way to deter jaywalkers is to post pictures of the jaywalkers in the newspaper.

*It's just matted hair. Sorry to wreck the illusion.