Thursday, September 24, 2015

What's Up?

Dear, dear friends! When things get quiet on the blog it's because life is hopping in real life! I hope that when you're not hearing from us, you're praying extra hard because that means we are running extra hard. I've entered into a travel season, and will be bouncing around the globe for a few weeks. But in the midst, I wanted to just give you a few highlights and prayer requests:

Church Plant in Old Lyon

  • The People: We are loving our new home and already finding opportunities to engage our neighbors. I had an unexpected time praying with my new language helper, and I think God is already at work in her life. We have invited  all of our neighbors to an Open House this Saturday, and they all seem eager to come. Pray for the seeds of friendship to be planted and for open doors to the Gospel.
  • The Need for a Building: Two of us from the team went to a meeting with the deputy mayor last week to make inquiries about abandonded buildings in the neighborhood. There are many vancant, vandalized buildings that do not have any contact information on them and we wanted to find out how to get in touch with the owners. We did get some leads, and today another team member is going to attempt to track down some phone numbers of owners through the avenues suggested by the mayor's office. Please pray for success! And that the Lord would lead us to just the right location. We'd like to be able to use the location for not only church services, but daily prayer meetings and also as a means to bless the community, perhaps through art exhibits or offering shared office space to starting entrepreneurs. 
  • The Team: As we get together twice daily to pray for the city, the project, and each other, the Lord is knitting us together as a team. I am so excited about the gifts and experiences that each person brings to the table. David and I have started training two members on how to preach, and for the past three Sundays we have worshipped together as a team and then our teammates have practiced preaching to us. This gives them an opportunity to try out their new skills without too much pressure, And we are also able to give them feedback to help them contiue to grow and develop.
Other Ministry Endeavors
  • Regional Church Planting Training Center: Today David is at a meeting in Paris for those who would like to open regional church planting training centers. This is a big part of our vision for Lyon, as we don't want to just plant one church but help to facilitate a church planting movement in the city. Please pray for wisdom and resources as David seeks to put all of the pieces in place that are needed in order to be certified to establish a regional training center here in Lyon. We already have one guy who is asking about enrolling in the program--which we hope to launch in the Fall of 2016.
  • Trampoline: I don't have the time to go into too many details at this time, but this is the name of a ministry that I am hoping to launch in France in 2016. I am in the throes of doing research and making contacts and laying groundwork, and the response from all sides has been highly positive. The purpose of the ministry will be to help new missionaries who are arriving in France to reach deeper levels of integration, higher levels of effectiveness, and  greater levels of longevity on the field. I'm sure I'll be sharing more about this in the future, but for the time being I could use your prayers as I seek to develop a program that honors the vision and calling of missionaries as well as the faithful work and wisdom of our French brothers and sisters.  
  • Church Planting: On Sunday I will go to Madrid for a conference that will bring together leaders from 16 different European countries to talk about leading national processes for church planting. Over 80 leaders will attend, and the conference will be led by a consortium of european leaders who have had successful experiences in this endeavor--some of which are my French colleagues. I have been invited to lead the times of meditation/reflection for this conference. My prayer is this: Word of God, speak through me. 
Family Adventures
  • Flying: After a year of dashed hopes and false starts, it looks like David may actually be starting to do some flying here in Lyon. He has built a business relationshp with a plane owner and a travel coordintor, and he is starting to receive requests for his piloting services. Our hope is that he would be able to fly one day a week, which would help to offset my seminary tuition costs and would give us some credibility/relatability in the eyes of our French friends and neighbors.
  • University Students: Chan has jumped into medical school with both feet, and seems to have settled into a routine. Graham is regularly texting us about the diversity of speakers that he gets to hear at convocation at Liberty--you know, like David Platt one week, and Bernie Sanders the next. This week they had someone from Lord of the Rings.
Well, friends, that's a snapshot of our life at the moment. I've left a lot out, but at least I've hit the highlights. We are so thankful for your prayers. So thankful. In all of these things, we want to see Jesus lifted high.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fill Their Treasuries

I was raised by a man who was well-traveled. My father's work took him around the globe, and he never ceased to be amazed by his adventures. But the continent of Europe always held a special place in his heart. For years he corresponded with a German pastor who had come to a living faith long after he became a pastor in the State-sponsored church. My Dad often dreamed about the possibility of moving to Europe to start small group Bible Studies or even house churches. While he had a vision for what could be--he never received a Call. And so he remained faithful to the Call God had given him--serving in the local church, teaching Junior High Sunday School, leading Agape Groups, chairing Elder Boards, fathering his daughters (and countless numbers of their friends), and loving his wife.

When I tell people about our call to mission service in France, I often explain that I have the sense that my Father's heart is beating in me as I live out this call. And I never get the feeling that Dad was disappointed wth his own call--he served (and continues to serve) with joy and grace and passion. Yet, he can hardly talk about what I am doing in France without tears in his eyes. Part of that is simply a Father's pride. But most of it is a sense of fulfillment. The vision he had is being fulfilled, and as God's vision for Europe moves towards a time of great fruitfulness, Dad delights to watch it happen. My participation just gives him a front row seat to the action.  

Still, I couldn't help but wonder for the past five years if Dad was experiencing regret. Did he wish it had been his call? Today I have a new insight.

One of my sons is writing a book. This morning I received a draft of the preface, and as I read it my eyes welled up with tears. It's brilliant, real, and profound. I have dreamed my whole life of writing a book, but as I read the words written by my son, I knew deep in my soul that he would be the first one in the family to publish a book. And in the same moment, I realized that the thought of my son publishing a book brought me much MORE joy and satisfaction than the thought of publishing one myself. 

Similarly, there was a time when David dreamed of being a surgeon. Clearly, that was not God's call on his life. But this morning we sent one of our boys off to his first day of medical school. The thought of his son becoming a doctor brings David much MORE joy and satisfaction than the thought of becoming one himself ever had. 

Which makes me think of King David, and his vision to build a Temple for the God he dearly loved. There is no doubt that the vision was God inspired--but the call would belong to another. It was David's son Solomon who saw the vision come to fruition. But David played his part. He recognized that God had not called him to build  the temple, but God did give him the joy and the privilege of gathering supplies. For years King David procured materials and built up storehouses so that when the time was right, Solomon had everything that he needed to build the temple. The vision was so sure in David's heart, that he planned for it to become a reality even though he himself would never see it.

My Dad gave me storehouses of resources that are fueling the work that I get to do. It is out of those storehouses that I find my own sense of joy, grace, and passion for my call. And I can only hope that my sons are as richly supplied. For this is the best inheritance we can give.

Parents of little ones--think even now about the storehouses you are filling--for it may be your babies that will live out your God-inspired vision. Are you equipping them for task?

I walk in the path of righteousness,

in the pathway of justice,
that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,
and that I may fill their treasuries.
Proverbs 8: 20-21

Monday, September 7, 2015

It might just be... favorite kitchen ever.

It's quirky and bright and I absolutely love it !

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

...and the meditation of my heart

This morning, as I sat with the Lord, Psalm 19:14 came to mind:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

    be acceptable in your sight,

    Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

It's a familiar Psalm, and one that I often pray. And I often pray it because, well, let's face it, the words of my mouth get me into a lot of trouble. At best, I'm painfully direct, and at worst I'm disrespectful and self-righteous. Sometimes the things that come out my my mouth offend my very own ears, so I'm sure that they are not acceptable in the sight of the Lord. Nevertheless, redemption is woking its way to my tongue, and little by little, I find myself speaking with greater care. 

This morning, I was drawn to the second phrase of this prayer: "and the meditation of my heart." As I am learning to submit to the Spirit-lead censorship of my speech, I am becoming more aware of the thought patterns from which my words proceed. Are my thoughts, my inner musings, my mental tapes pleasing to God? Are they acceptable in His sight?

Oh how I long for sanctification to seep beyond behavior modification and move deep into the inner-workings of my heart and my mind! Jesus once reprimanded the Pharisees because they had perfected their outward allegiance to the Law without having surrendered the motives of their hearts. He tells them that they are like cups that are clean on the outside but dirty on the inside. 

The Psalmist was insightful with this prayer. It's not simply what comes out of us that matters. God sees my thoughts. And that's an interesting use of words, isnt it? The Paslmist doesn't ask for his words and thoughts to be acceptable in God's hearing, but in God's sight. For God, words are visible. Just as the WORD took on flesh and dwelt among us. 

God isn't simply hearing my thoughts, He's seeing my thoughts. What does He see today?

Does He see a troubled, anxious child, fretting over things despite her Father's promise to meet her every need? Or does He see a content daughter, fearless, and hopeful for the future?

Does He see unkind thoughts towards another that He deeply loves? Or does He see compassion, generosity of spirit, and grace?

Does He see scheming and calculating over a problem that seems insurmountable? Or does He see a confident faith that rests secure in every circumstance?

Father, I want my thoughts to be acceptable to you. When my mind is spinning out of control, when I'm stewing over an issue, when I'm angry and hurt, will you turn my heart to you so that the things I think are pleasant for you to see. And when I'm filled with excitement, resting in Your peace, or overflowing with gratitude, take joy, my King, in what you see.