Main Street; Morrison, Illinois

Is home the same place you grew up?

Hopefully, you don't think the question is stupid, mundane, or trivial. I think it's important because I think most people are searching for home. Current refugees are in search of a place where good wins out and where they can put down roots and live in peace. Soldiers fight for our homeland. We lock doors at night because we want to protect loved ones and because we want to rest at home.

Yet, my current home is not where I grew up--though Morrison remains my hometown. My stepfather's real estate office is on Main Street, right across from where the bakery used to be--where my grandfather bought me donuts every Friday morning during my middle school and high school years. There is an annual 'paint the town' event on Main Street and it's where homecoming parades marched down and I remember the storefronts being decorated for some home basketball games.

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Upstate New York

Most people are busy. That's what we say to each other. 

"Hey, Fred, how are things? Are you keeping busy," asks Barney.

"Yep, looking forward to a break," says Fred.

And they pass each other thinking that that is good, normal, and productive. Keeping busy has become an expectation. We expect to be pulled in different directions and we expect others to also go from one activity to the next. And we hardly give such things a second thought.

But busyness is not a sign of good work or productivity. Busyness, in fact, may be a form of lazyness. It may be a way to avoid setting priorities and it may be a way to numb out and it may be something that is simply not good.

Traveling recently to upstate New York to get away, I found a sense of rhythm again. Unforced and unrehearsed. And guess what? I was still productive. I still managed to get some things done.

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Dubai: Reflections on Modern Change

On the way to Africa a few years back, I stopped in Dubai. It's like Phoenix, with way more money. The airport is impressive and the clash between what's modern and what's tradition and what's western and what's eastern is both dazzling and dizzying.

If you've seen the MIssion Impossible: Ghost Protocol film, you'll note that Dubai is prominent as the heroes navigate tall buildings and sandstorms. Dubai encapsulates modernity's rise in a centuries old desert. Os Guinness notes in his book The Last Christian on Earth that "Christians have always shown a curious inability to consider things from a long-term perspective." The latest isn't always the greatest.

How, then, do we hold on to ancient wisdom in an era of restlessness? What happens to long-term or longview leadership in an age of start-ups?

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I Can't Think Of A Better Word, Sorry

In a world where Christians, in the name of holiness, arrogantly distance themselves from everything "secular"......and like the Pharisees, can't figure out what it means to be "in" the world but not "of" it........

In a world where Christians, in the name of holiness, arrogantly stand back and bash non-Christians for living like, well, non-Christians......

We need to check these actions and attitudes with the scriptures.  I have a word I sometimes use to describe this type of activity.  But I want to warn you, this could be bad.  I only use this word in conversations where people know my heart and theological convictions.  Posting it publicly like this could get me in trouble.  I don't mean to be rash by using this word, but I honestly cannot think of one that better describes this type of activity by the very people that are supposed to be following the example of Christ.

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So what's the scenaRIO ...

Today's my first day back. For the past week, I was in Rio de Janeiro working with two organizations -- one focused on church planting and the other on social justice. In a profound way, both are working for the Kingdom of God. 

Restore Brazil is an organization run by Jay Bauman, who is both a prolific leader as he is a social media nut. You can find him on Twitter at @baumanjay and on his blog. Please check out his organization, Restore Brazil.

Rio de Paz is an unabashed human rights organization run by Antonio Carlos Costa. They work for human rights for prisoners and social justice for the poor living in the favela. They're organization focuses on three main plagues of Rio: violence, poverty, corruption. Antonio is also has a strong social media presence, albeit, in Portugese.

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::informed by the end of the world::

I attended a lecture this week from teacher and author Michael Goheen. He said something striking and it's worth noting. Here's my paraphrase: how you understand the end of the world will inform what you believe your mission to be.

The band, R.E.M., used to close many of their concerts with their song 'it's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fine.' Interestingly, the song is informative and not far from Goheen's point. To feel fine about your mission, you must come to grips with what you believe about the end of the world. But, for many, the world may never end and for others, this is simply paranoia. But, think about it. Goheen's point is that the end of the story informs what we believe our part to be in the story. In fact, Goheen writes,

 

Michael W Goheen
 Heaven, which has been separated...by sin...now is joined in harmonious unity with earth.
 
 (it's worth reading the entire article here)
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21 Days for Global Harvest

"Prayer is the greatest force that we can wield. It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.” - John R. Mott

Prayer.

It doesn't come easy to me. I don't know if it's because it feels like I'm talking to myself at times or because I lack faith. I just know that's it tough. I also know and believe that it is prayer that God desires from every person; those who believe in him and those who don't. I believe the Biblical author and friend of Jesus', John, when he said he saw bowls in heaven filled with the prayers of the saints. I believe that a friend of mine was cured from an incurable disease because people prayed. I also believe another friend of mine survived the most critical days after contracting cerebral malaria just this week because of prayer. I believe God bends down on one knee, like a father bends down to greet his child running towards him, and lowers his ears towards Earth to hear the words we, his children, share with him.

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Prayer: Answered

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience volunteering at Royal Family Kids’ Camp.  You can read about the importance of the program here.  I recently returned from another week at camp and as expected, returned physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and hesitant to re-enter my “normal” life knowing these kids returned to a life of loneliness, heartache, and continual disappointment.  Soon, I will re-learn how to hold conversations with people older than 8 years old.  I will stop expecting a hearty, kid-friendly meal at exactly 8 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m..  I’ll be able to sleep through the night without having to escort a child with a small bladder to the bathroom at 4:00 am.  And I’ll stop “seeing” the children from camp at the grocery store, or McDonald’s, or Disneyland, my heart skipping a beat each time.   

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The Heart of God is You

Recently, a friend asked me to explain to her the difference between ‘mission’ (singular) and ‘missions’ (plural).

Over time, mission and missions have become interchangeable.

Put into the simplest terms, mission is what God does to reconcile with  his children. Missions is what we do in response and obedience to that.

Once upon a time, there was a garden. There was a couple living in the garden, along with some rivers, lots of animals and God. There was also a serpent in the garden that coerced the couple into eating some fruit found on a tree called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was the same tree God had told them not to eat from (Gen 2:16,17).  They ate the fruit anyway. What was the result? The couple had to leave the beautiful garden, therefore leaving the presence of God.

Since then, every person who has ever lived has been born outside the garden.

God never wanted his children to live outside the garden and away from him. He created them inside the garden to be with. He has always wanted them in the garden with him again. In fact, God even started his search for the couple while the two were still in the garden.

“Where are you?” God cried out (Gen. 3:9).

Since the garden incident, God has been relentless in seeking after his children, even though they are outside the garden.

As you read through the action packed Old Testament (OT) stories, you’ll see a common theme weaved throughout. God is actively after his people. He shows up on the scene in some pretty remarkable ways at times. Some of the familiar ways we see God in the OT are in the burning bush or the thunderous cloud hovering the top of Mt Sinai. These supernatural revelations of God are called Theophanies. But God didn’t just use the supernatural approach. The scriptures say there are times when he speaks in a still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:12).

The most incredible act God has done to reconcile with his children was done through the birth, the life’s works and teachings, the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God went so far to get his children back he literally gave up his beloved son, Jesus, so that the gap that was created when mankind left the garden could be closed once and for all.

When Jesus Christ conquered death he paved the way for us to re-enter the garden. In other words, we can live in the presence of God again, just as the couple did while they were in the garden. In fact, the presence of God dwells within us. Incredible isn’t it?

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