True crisis

We insist on panic in areas that don’t need it. Ebola in America, for instance. We have completely ignored the heavier issue of West Africa… but what is that to us?

While we panic over a handful possibly contracting the virus, we continue to ignore larger issues.

ISIS is still tearing through Syria and Iraq and is bent on destruction.

If there are weightier things to pray about and, if you insist, be panicked about, you might want to give that some consideration. Personally, I’d start with prayer and simply ignore the panic.

Apprehended by Christ

I’ve been home a week and have hit the ground running. It’s left me little time to reflect on the Ethiopia trip, as I had to dive right back into teaching here, getting up to speed on our church property and how the marketing of the property is progressing, etc.

Preparing for Sunday, I’ve slowed down somewhat to look at pictures and think back over the trip. The Lord spoke specific words to me about WHY he led me to Ethiopia and opened up more things in prayer.

The best thing about going to Ethiopia? It was born out of prayer. I was not asking for anything in particular, but out of prayer these past two years, I have asked what God wants for me and the church. Out of that ASKING came the opportunities.

The best thing to come out of this trip is the sense that I only want to pray God’s prayers. I truly want to be captured by his vision! I am driven not by a desire for Ethiopia, but a desire to KNOW HIM… and that has led us to the opportunities that abound in Ethiopia.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Phil. 3:12)

I don’t want to press on to DO more things. I want to press on to APPREHEND CHRIST!

Being prayed over by the Gospel of John class I was privileged to teach at Addis Bible College.
Being prayed over by the Gospel of John class I was privileged to teach at Addis Bible College.

The ordinary radical

In the current tension between “radical” (via David Platt, Francis Chan, et al) and the case for the “ordinary” (latest from Michael Horton), there is some sort of balance to strike.

We don’t want complacency in our lives, but we should learn something of the term Paul calls content. 

We don’t want our lives so set on edge we burn the spiritual and mental gears out before we’re 30, but we need to hear the urgency of a world still needing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I think in living ordinary lives, walking intentionally with Jesus, we find extraordinary opportunities. They are not necessarily everyday, but they are wonderful. It was in a very “ordinary” service over 2 years ago the Lord first spoke to me about planting churches and then, a month later, “owning” a country. It was the ordinary daily routine a year ago the Spirit spoke and said, “You’ll be in Africa next year.”

And, in an extraordinary way, it happened.

It’s a both/and world, folks. Not either/or.

It’s hard to kill a dead man

I’ve met several missionaries who are part of the “Live Dead” teams being raised up to go into the hardest places of the world. They have been to my church. I’ve sat with them at lunch. They are incredibly determined people.

Meeting one in context is somehow a very different story. Sitting in another country, listening to them almost casually talk about being run out of one country and now the opportunity God has given them in a new hard area, and they rejoice.

To hear stories of missionaries barely making it out of a country like it was out of the movie Argo, without the camera lights and the Academy Awards, of course…

And they are praying strategically for the next thing God has for them.

It’s hard to kill a dead man.

They’ve obtained a prize. They have pursued Christ and found him to be everything. They have died long ago. They are now in LIFE like this world can’t know.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:8-11)

The opportunities we have as we pray

It was a little over two years ago the Lord challenged me with “owning” a country. He called on me to have our church really get involved in one nation. A year ago that narrowed to Africa. Over the past few months Ethiopia became the opportunity. As I’ve been here two weeks the Spirit is showing me the amazing opportunity in this nation. It is such a key part of what is possible in Africa, especially the horn of Africa, and then possibly into the Middle East. It is simply astonishing.

The church here is strong. It’s gone through a lot of struggle, but their leadership is emerging.

The missionary family here is amazing, and there is a growing group desiring to reach the hardest areas. They are so bold!

These are opportunities that have arisen out of prayer. I am so thankful for the challenge the Lord gives me in prayer. After these two weeks, I simply do not want to hold back in prayer. We have amazing opportunities regardless the size of our church.

May we walk with a new boldness in the Spirit as we move forward!

Random thoughts from Ethiopia, Part 2

One of the regular things that happen in Ethiopia is the power goes out. While I’ve been here it’s not been for any real length of time, thankfully. But tonight the power went out during dinner. I’m thankful for “roughing it” with long time missionaries who keep their laptops charged so I can fire off a few thoughts before the battery power runs out, too.

The teaching at the Bible college has been such a joy. The students are hard working and love studying. There is a good spirit in the college and they are eager to do well. We have great discussions.

Where the missionaries live (the ones I stay with) there is a guard dog that gets let out at night. He’s not the friendliest of dogs and I know I’m not going outside while I hear him wandering around.

There are calls to prayer all over the city. Orthodox is the dominant religion, so a nearby Orthodox Church has a loud speaker and they chant prayers for hours at a time. Right now I hear a call to prayer from a mosque. It will be much shorter than the Orthodox chants.

The news here is all international. There isn’t an Ethiopian news station. I can get world news all the time. It’s incredibly interesting and people here are incredibly informed.

The world is still a dangerous place and I notice the US is bombing inside Syria, now. Even before that, the news here shows things we don’t yet see in the U.S. because it hasn’t directly impacted the U.S. But it reminds me the world is still a scary place.

But our hope is greater. I meet amazing people who live in the power of the Spirit and they live with such hope. They serve with such joy. There are such great believers in Ethiopia, and some incredible missionaries. The ones I have met are so eager to serve here and they are so hungry to see the Kingdom of God come to reality in this nation.

I am abundantly blessed.

Batteries don’t last forever. The lights still aren’t on. I’ll find out more things to do in the dark now. But going outside isn’t one of those options. Not with Bingo the dog out there!