Tuesday, February 23, 2016


The tip of the spear is a phrase that has been used in so many applications from military to missions. Regardless of the application, it is a reference to the first ones to penetrate a new area. This might be an offensive push into enemy territory taking new objectives in the name of your country, or someone like Nate Saint who was killed taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Huaorani tribe in eastern Ecuador.

As believers, we are all called to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. But can we all be those first ones in? Can we all be the ones to see the people coming to Jesus, turning from old lives to a new freedom and life found only in Jesus Christ?  Romans 12:4 reads "Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way, we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another."

We are individuals uniquely gifted by God to do the task set before us. We cannot all be the tip of the spear because if we were there would be nothing to drive that spear toward it's intended target. A tip of a spear is just a point. and while that point is very important to penetrate the target, without the weight of the spear behind it, or the power of the one delivering it, a point is nothing more than a nuisance.

We all have a divine purpose in our lives. God has ordained tasks for us to do before the foundation of the world. Not all of these tasks are going to be the out front, everyone see type of tasks. But this does not make any of them any less important. The tip of the spear is what pierces, but that is not the whole thing. Just like the tip without the spear is a nuisance, a spear without a tip is a stick. While the stick may have many uses it is not a spear.

The Lord has shown me over the past year that it is not my job right now to be the tip of the spear. I am somewhere farther back. I have longed to be out front as we have many unreached hearing the gospel for the first time, but that is not what the Lord wants of me right now. There have been times when I was out there, but this is not it. If I try and press myself into that position it is going to be at the expense of what God has for me to do right now and I would be doing things that I want to do and not what the Lord wants me to. I guess that would be the definition of sin and rebellion against God.

So I am content being in the background because I know the Lord is guiding my steps. I will be faithful every day to the work that the Lord has for me to do and rejoice with others as many are coming to Christ.

So if you are also not the tip, rejoice that the Lord has given you a place to be involved in His work, we all have a place. Watch Him work and be amazed.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

An Open Letter to Missionaries and Other Expats.

My Dear Friends,

You have chosen to leave your life in your home country and move across the world to a place that may or may not speak the same language, have the same currency or even similar weather. It is an admirable thing that you have done.

I understand the desire to make things as comfortable and familiar as you can in order to adjust to your new surroundings. If you have children, that desire can be even stronger in an effort to help your children adjust.

You look for things that you can bring into the home setting to make it feel more like what you are used to. Could be furniture or wall hangings or pictures of the family back home. But please consider, before getting a pet the consequences of that choice.

Most missionaries go for terms os one to two years and then go back home for a period of 4 to 6 months. Pets are a commitment. A long term commitment. A dog or a cat cannot just be put away like the belongings you put in storage.

Someone down the road is going to be forced to make the tough calls that you didn't have the guts to make when you left. No one likes making the choice to put an animal down. Why force someone to take care of an animal that you selfishly decided to get for a few years and then had to leave it for others to deal with.

Please, unless you know you are going to be someplace for the next 10 years, think twice or maybe three times before getting that nice little puppy or kitten. I know there are valid reasons for having both, but unless you are willing to do something BEFORE you leave, don't. And no I don't mean emotionally blackmailing another person to say they will care for it.

If you really want an animal, get a fish or a hampster. Or better yet get a chicken or pig, or cow. Have mercy on those coming after you.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

You Don't Know What you've Got Till It's Gone.

If you are singing that title you must be as old as I am. ;)

The life of a missionary is a life of many comings and goings. People come for a season and then move on, places change, things seem to be always changing.

This past week we came within hours of being pulled out of Doro due to fighting that had broken out in Upper Nile State. This is where we call home these days. The fighting itself did not really endanger us, but it threatened to pull us in the fighting because our airstrip would be the only one left in Upper Nile State if the one in Poloich had fallen to the rebel forces.

We got the message that we were going to pull our team out on two flights, one on Thursday and the other on Friday. I was quite surprised by the emotions that this raised in me.

If our entire team was pulled out it would be weeks before getting back in. Then it would take more time to get reestablished and back up and running. The thought of this made me ill. If you had asked me a week before this happened to tell you what tasks I do that hof any long term importance, I might have had a hard time giving you a list.

But as soon as I was told we would be leaving, it occurred to me. What about the school that is supposed to open June 1. These students cannot afford any more time away before they have to face the national exam. What about Ruth's English class that I teach the Bible section for? What about the young man that I have been developing a disciplining relationship wih in the past few weeks? All this is just going to end? I was mortified that so many people were going to be impacted by this decision.

The people here are used to this. They have been running from war for the last 30 years. But that doesn't change the relationship  I am trying to develop with them. Scripture tells us that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. How can we do this if at the hint of trouble we head for the hills.

I struggle with what the correct response is. Do I fly off to safety because I have the ability to do so at the first sign of trouble? Do I hang in there until the bullets are flying around me?

I am thankful that I did not have to make that decision this time. By Thursday evening, after half our team had left, the UN cancelled the relocation and we were able to stay. Lord willing school will start on time. The relationships I had begun will continue. These people get to live in peace for a while longer. How long? Only God knows. We pray it will be a very long time.

So while people come and go. Governments rise and fall. it is the relationships that we develop that endure. So as you look at the things in your life, what is it that you value most? Job, house, car, all these things can be gone in the blink of an eye. What will live on even after you are gone is the relationship you had with others.

How will you live on in the lives you have touched?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Step Over This Line

Step Over This Line

Today is our Anniversary. Forty one years ago at the ripe old age of nineteen we said I do to one another and pledged the rest of our lives in front of God and family.

I have had people ask me "what is the secret" and I have thought a while on that since it really does seem that so many people are not making it to forty one years. I have come to one conclusion. Most people have no idea what marriage is.

I think most people think that getting married means that two individuals agree to "share" their lives together in order to make each one more fulfilling. While this may sound very comforting, I believe it is a complete falsehood put forth to trap people in a no win situation.

God created marriage back a long time ago in the garden. One man and one woman ( I know, I never claimed to be PC) joined together for life. This is what happens when two people get married. God created the contract of marriage, therefore He gets to write the conditions. Everyone who gets married enters into this contract. It does not matter if they believe they are doing that, they are.

Once you step over that line, once you say "I do", something happens. Matt 19:5 says and He also said: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh".  Now people can say I don't believe the Bible, it doesn't matter. I can say I don't believe in gravity, that does not give me the ability to fly.

This was put into words by a Psychiatrist friend of mine Jeff. The moment you enter into the covenant of marriage, the creature that was know as I or me, ceases to exist. And a new creature is born. This creature is the "us". This us creature is going to have different priorities than the I did, it is going to have different goals than the I did and it is going to have different strategy of life than the I did. Every decision made from here on out must be made to benefit the us.

This new creature can bring you great joy and a very fulfilling life, if you acknowledge it and respect it. If you refuse and attempt to drag back in the I, you will be frustrated, angry and both will be destroyed.

I have often thought of it this way. If you take two different colors of Play Doh and join them together they become one lump. Now while it may be theoretically possible to get the two back apart it is going to require quite a bit of pulling and tearing, and I doubt you will ever them them back without leaving at least some of the other behind.

 Once the two are joined, to bring the I or me back into the picture is to begin the tearing process. It is going to happen. It does to everyone. The question is are you willing to kill it when it does.  Only one can exist over time, either the I or the us. Too much of the I is toxic to the us and the I cannot remain within the us.

Sure there are going to be moments when like a screaming child we demand our way, but anyone who has been married knows what that does.

So before you step over that line. Before you walk down that aisle. Are you willing to give up the I? Is what you want more important than any other thing right now? Or are you willing to give up your hopes and dreams for the chance at something better with the us.

We did not come to this realization for many years after we said I do and we have the scares to prove it. Once you are joined there will be great pain getting the I back again. Think before you step over that line.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Now It Feels Like Africa

We have been in Nairobi now for three almost  weeks and it was always missing something that made me think that maybe Africa had changed. I mean there are malls and regular supermarkets. You can walk pretty much anywhere and not see the extreme poverty that Africa has had on display in our previous times here. There are brand new Mercedes driving around very nice apartment building line many streets.

Not that I believed Africa had this major overhaul in the past 8 years, but it is different, until today.

We were walking back from the office this afternoon and came upon a man laying in the ditch in obvious convulsions. Laying in a drainage ditch, foaming at the mouth and convulsing. Another man and myself managed to get him turned on his side so he wouldn't choke and put something under his head so he wouldn't smash his  head against the concrete curb.

As the man began to come around he said he needed some water, which he had in a bag he was carrying. He then explained he was a diabetic and need something with sugar. We got him some juice and some biscuits. He then explained that he was not only diabetic but also had epilepsy He had been to the doctor that morning but could not afford the medication. This man also had a large oozing infection puncture wound on his neck from when he fell last week.

This brings me to the question; what should be our response to this situation? At first glance this seems to be a real life Parable of the Good Samaritan. This man was not pulling some scam to try and get money, he was truly in dire need of help. Can all the arguments presented in the parable be applied here, maybe even more? Can we all come up with a valid reason to ignore the situation? By the way calling 911 is not an option.

Anyone who has lived in a developing country has faced the same question. The needs are so great that one could completely give away all that you own in very short time.

I do not have an answer to this situation, I responded as I felt the Lord would have had me done, but then again I could be just making excuses myself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Knowing God

To Know Him And Him Only

As we have gone through this process of preparation to leave the good old USA and move to a place that we have never been, but are called by God to go we have had to review so many things in our life and what we value. The Bible tells us, "where your treasure is there your heart will be also". Treasure can come in so many forms besides money, gold and jewels. Treasure can be homes, jobs, lifestyle of just comfort.  I have always found great truth in the words of a song Me and Bobby McGee Freedoms just another word for nothin left to lose". You are never truly free so long as you have treasure in this world. In this world there is decay, thieves, and all kinds of things that will try to take your treasure. In order to prevent you losing all your treasure you must be vigilant, watching for any one or any thing that might threaten your treasure. Unfortunately when to make the attempt to keep some people away, you can keep all people away.

This is not the way we were designed to live. Relationships are what we were created for. Relationships with each other, but more importantly, relationship with our creator and father. We have had to look at this relationship and assign a value to it in our lives. This has been a very enlightening experience. While I think it would be possible to do this without actual circumstances that threaten your earthly treasure, I am not sure the experience would be as real. How do you reach the point that is expressed in Philippians 3:10 All I want is to know Christ and the power that raised Him from death. I want to share in His sufferings and be like Him, even in His death.

The more I know about Christ, the more I realize that He is so much bigger, complex, eternal, and wonderful than my mind can grasp. I can spend my entire life trying to know Him, understand Him, and still not begin to grasp who He really is and how He works. The idea of a completely sovereign God is so hard to grasp. To often we want hold His actions in judgement, as if it it is us who actually knows best and can see into eternity.

I pray that every day He will show me more of Himself and my trust will grow to the point that I can say with all assurance All I want, ALL I WANT is to know Him and the power that raised Him from the dead.  It is then I will be rich beyond everything that I might possess here on earth

Monday, August 11, 2014

What Do I Really Own?

We as a society in the U.S. have become increasingly materialistic.  The more technology advances, the more we feel the need to have the latest and the best, and the fastest thing on the market. Our possessions have taken ownership of our souls and we must maintain at all costs.  As you drive across the countryside passing through small town towns of less than one thousand people, chances are you will see a storage unit business. In larger cities there are massive buildings choked full of stuff people do not have room for in their house, so they have to rent more space to store the stuff they might need someday. There is even television shows of auctions of stuff that people have abandon in these storage units.

In the Bible when a man who had acquired much did not have room to store all he had he said to himself      "This is what I will do, I will tear down my barns and build and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I'll say to myself, you have plenty of grain Laid up for many years. Take Life easy, eat, drink, and be merry."

Are we as a society so different than this man?

In the decision about what to do with our house before leaving for South Sudan I was faced with a side of my self that I admit made me think.  I am a firm believer in the idea that the Lord is the owner of everything that I possess. However the thought of selling our house and getting quite a bit of money to stash away in the bank sounded really good.  I said to myself, "with that kind of money, I could be very self sufficient, I would not have to rely on any one for my needs and wants while in South Sudan"

I have not viewed my self as really materialistic, but when faced with this I had to reconsider.I do like financial security. I do like not have to wait on any one else when I need something.  The Lord showed me that my security must come from my position in Christ not in the abundance of my possessions.  My riches must be found in the relationship with Him and those around me, not the stuff of this world. This was not the easiest thing for me to grasp having grown up in the U.S.

This is the true riches that will bless you and everyone around you now and into eternity.  Nothing or no one can take these away, but the things we collect and call riches will all be lost as you pass over.

"But God said to him, you fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself."

Luke 12: 18 - 21