Bible literacy, Must-see films, short-term missions, and Micah Project

Hey, friends! Here’s another short-list of things you should read/click/watch/do. I hope this Monday is anything but manac and everything wonderful!

  • This series on short-term mission trips from the Gospel Coalition is extremely helpful in giving some understanding to a really hard topic. Short-term missions is just something Western churches do, even if it doesn’t need doing. Read the first article, “Celebrating the Short-Term Missions Boom ” and then the second, “Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short-Term Missions Trip .” There is a third on the way.
  • So, my favorite film critic Brett McCracken, has a list of Best Films of the first half of this year. Take a look and see what you think.
  • How many of you start books and never finish them? How many of you are “reading” 5 books at the moment and a few of those you’ve been “reading” for 5 years? This article, “Biblical Literacy Begins with Reading,” reveals a problem we may have thought little about. It’s not about getting the Bible into the hands of more people. It’s about teaching those people to obey (Matthew 28) by actually reading and understanding the Bible in a way that translates into life.  But not the kind of reading that we do haphazardly – intentional, focused reading with accountability.
  • There are a lot of Christian books out there about how to be radical today – how to live simply, be significant, make a difference, and all that jazz. Micah Project, an organization I worked with while I lived in Honduras, is not a tagline, but a transformational ministry. Take a look at this video to see their story (narrated by a boy who went from street kid to professional through the power of Jesus).
  • And, just because I don’t want your Monday to drag, check out this article on the “awe of God.” It puts theology and Mondays in their rightful places.
  • Here’s some background music for your morning:

Have a great day, my friends!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

learning gratitude

the smiles that love built

“Why do you love your mother?”

It was a simple question that came up last week at Bible study somewhere after, “Why do we suffer?” and before, “Will we recognize each other in heaven?”

It’s an old question that tries to probe the origins of love for others. We went around in circles but agreed our love for our mothers is a response. I would add that my love for my mother has grown as I’ve realized how it comes without condition… often before I call home to spill my guts she’ll have already anticipated my outburst.

Skip to tonight. I was at worship at the Micah Project where I heard a different Mothers Day story. Four of the littlest boys recorded a song to show their love for their mothers, though they do not know where their mothers are. The song broke my heart because it talks about trying to remember her face and her voice, but reassuring her that (wherever she is) she is loved.

I am overwhelmed. Not just that I have a mom who loves me without condition, but that I can picture her face when she is joyful, scared, sad, or with a fit of giggles. I know what she will look like when I get off the plane on June 24 and I know how her hug will feel. In many ways, my mom is home to me. So, when I see these boys throwing love out into the heavy night sky, I feel even more blessed to know exactly how my mom will answer the phone the next time I call.

And in all of this, I am learning gratitude. If I am loving my mom well, I am loving the Lord who shared her with me. If I am loving the Lord well, then I am responding first and always in gratitude to His kindness… and this means being a “mom” to those who throw love out to the night sky without knowing if it will return. With these boys and students and anyone God sovereignly places in my path, I want to be available to show the unconditional love of my Father (which will forever be on beautiful display in my mom).

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

g’day, friends!

I should stop describing my life or my thoughts or my un-diagnosed ADD as strange, because with its regularity it has established a very disastrous (and beautiful) normal. Having said that, I have several ironic things to report.

My last post, “unplugged,” surprised me by its multiple meanings (a strange occurrence – normally I squeeze out every possible meaning!) and so I’ll backtrack to fill you in.

On Saturday night, I went to the school fall costume party as a Christmas tree and literally spent the whole evening lit up… and plugged in to an outlet.

We were also literally unplugged for some of Saturday night and most of Sunday due to power outages. It’s no wonder when our power lines look like this:

Lastly, I can’t help but add that “unplugged” sounds similar to the familiar phrase, “coming unglued” or “undone,” which is what Jenna was thinking last night on the way to Micah Project when I covered the subjects of students’ college applications, baking, new friends made at the coffeeshop, paranoia with my car Louis, my dad selling a calf, plans for a pep assembly this Friday, and Christmas service schedule.

Whew! There you have it – multiple meanings for “unplugged.”

 

let LOVE fly like CRAZY

unplugged

Street in Tegucigalpa city centre, Honduras
Image via Wikipedia

Wow. What a weekend!

I continue to surprise myself at my own tendency for disorganization. I left my keys at work after conferences and my computer on the school bus on the way home. I’ve overlapped about 10 plans this weekend and have succeeded at about two. I am using a friend’s computer to assure you (in case you are staying up late at night wondering) that I’m still keeping it real here in Tegucigalpa… and the October newsletter is almost ready to post!

I do want to report that “God’s heifer,” (read here, bottom paragraph) as my mom has been calling it, resulted in a hefty check that I get to spread around the ministries here like a heaping spoonful of creamy peanut butter. It is truly a gift to watch God’s provision shared amongst those who depend on Him!

Today, I’m doing some reading and baking for the Micah Project folks. Hope to go for a run to clear all the dysfunctional cobwebs hanging out in my brain!

let LOVE fly like cRAzY

Monday are YUMdays!

MONDAYS are YUMDAYS

I love Mondays. No, really. I LOVE Mondays.

You think I’m kidding, but today sealed the deal. Here are some of the things today that overflowed my cup:

 

 

  1. I drove to school instead of rode the bus, which perfectly placed about 8.5 extra minutes to spend with David in 1 Samuel
  2. I ran out of coffee filters at my house, but savored a Vanilla Chai tea… delicious start!
  3. I met the day with uncharacteristic (before coffee), silly joy and greeted students with grand gestures and lopsided smiles.
  4. During our mid-morning break, I was heading back from an errand in the administration building, secretly hoping two certain, special students would be waiting in my office… and THEY WERE. I think I scared them with my loopy-ness and laughter, but I don’t care. I love it when I find students in my office… especially when the special ones appear!
  5. CHAPEL happens Monday and today was such a blessing! I am sure many of the seniors won’t admit it, but they want to know about hearing God’s voice. That was exactly the message!
  6. Then, I got to counsel one of my favorite students using a SWEET analogy about records playing in our heads. Sometimes we’ve let the record of lies steal the show and we listen to it over and over and start to believe all the foolishness it plays. We’ve got to put that sweet record called Truth on stat and then you better believe we’re gonna speak and act out of that life-giving overflow! I’ll admit, my favorite part was connecting it to a Corinne Bailey Rae song, “Put Your Records On” because every time I saw her I broke out into singing.
  7. I love that THIS was shown to remember our time at the SLEEPout!
  8. then…(drumroll) it’s MONDAY so that means culinary collision with two of my favorite ladies! I seriously can’t explain how beautiful and brilliant these girls are… so I won’t try. Just read this blogpost and you’ll get a little taste of the night (not a real taste, but a cyber-ish one:).
  9. I love praying in my car on the way back from Monday baking dates. Shoot, and I just have to say again how much I love these amazing high school girls. They may/may not be changing my life (mostly may).
  10. I may/may not have consumed too much caffeine today (mostly may), which means I might be up writing for awhile!

I hope you are going to

let LOVE fly like CRAZY

with a wink and a smile

I’m not sure why, but this song was playing in my head as I sat down to write today. I just lunched on my version of a Honduran staple – baleadas (substitute wheat tortilla, take out salty cheese, add salsa) – and now I sit helplessly waiting to hear back from students who are probably sleeping and completely unaware that my afternoon plans somewhat hinge on their replies.

In the meanwhile, I want to bring you up-to-date on some of the happenings here. In my typical, completely disconnected fashion, I’m giving it to you straight today about baking, meanings of words, and a strange desire to start a movement.

LovE CakE!

I’m still marinating on this idea of baking and sweetness and life and tasting … yesterday was the last day of chapel and I spent the morning hours (prior to 6:30 departure) baking up some serious pumpkin gobs with butter/cream cheese frosting. A week of creative treats for the seniors who bring their Bibles to chapel almost wore me right out, but there is a beautiful, redeeming quality to what some women painfully label a chore.

This redeeming quality to laboring in the kitchen is not the look on people’s faces when they eat your hard-won creation (though I’ve found I often make them eat it in front of me so I can see a reaction) nor is it the exclamations of delight and the serious battle for second helpings. The redeeming quality is an empty tupperware at the end of the day.

I (quite haphazardly) stumble onto the school bus in the morning in professional garb, toting a backpack and the familiar tupperware container with secret treats. By the time I get to school, I usually have frosting or chocolate or some unknown ingredient stuck to some inconvenient place. But, back to redeeming qualities…

The tupperware goes out from the house full and comes back empty. Every single one of the little, labored-over creations has found its place and that knowledge only finds me right back in the kitchen to make it happen again. What joy! Check out this video that my friend Kasey Miller (who, by the way, is one of my favorite inspirations in the kitchen!!) shared… this will make you want to LOVE CAKE too!

gracia and gracias

So, my word study on “pan” and “paneh” might have failed, but I’m very interested in the connection between the Spanish words, “Gracias” (thank you) and “gracia” (grace) and I think this will lead to something more conclusive. Both words are derived from the Latin root “gratus,” which means “beloved,” “agreeable,” “favorable,” and “pleasing.”

I was originally interested because at the Micah Project sometimes we just spend time in prayer thanking God for His character. Many times, this will come up, “Señor, gracias por tu gracia!” Maybe no one else takes notice or thinks it odd, but whenever I hear that, I wonder about the strange and beautiful connection between gratitude and grace. When we say thank you, we are responding to an action or a gift or something we have received. Gratitude is what happens (or should happen) after receiving something good. We feel strange accepting a gift or complement without giving something back, so we express our gratitude by saying, “Thank you.”

Here is where I get really interested… why do we use almost the exact same word to describe unmerited favor? The Miriam-Webster dictionary (and many Christians) gives the first definition for grace to mean what is received from God and that which allows one to have faith in what Christ did on the cross.

So – back to that Latin. If the Latin says, “pleasing, beloved, agreeable,” and “favorable,” why am I stuck on these two words? Well, if we say “thank you” because we have received something, that person or persons have become (in some way) beloved or agreeable to us. What is AMAZING is that we have done absolutely nothing to please or become favorable in God’s sight. Even our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but God called us “beloved” and showed us “favor,” though we came with nothing to deserve this response.

WOW!

starting a movement

Everybody is making movements these days, so I thought I would throw in my two cents about what deserves “movement” status. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting here waiting for a student to tell me if she does/doesn’t want to meet for coffee (though she told me for sure yesterday) or maybe it’s because I’ve been around young people long enough to know commitments are … fluid at best and often motivated by bad information.

So, I’d like to start a movement. The movement will be called, “we care and follow through with things that matter.” I know – it’s not very catchy right now, but I think I could hire some serious PR and those flaky kids would really start jumping on board. Well… they would jump on board if the message was so diluted no one knew exactly what kind of movement they were joining. But, they would join for sure, eventually. And, by that time the whole purpose of said movement would be moot (case in point).

That’s my point.

It is very easy to get kids fired up about things (there are many, many broken things to bemoan in this world) and very hard to get kids fired up about searching serious answers followed up by serious action. I’m not talking extreme, here, folks. I actually think things get extreme when we get distracted by flashy PR campaigns and people telling us what is important and what to do about it.

I guess it would be refreshing to see a youth movement with, as my high school history teacher used to say, “fire in its belly.” Everything from coffee dates to mission trips to environmental debates would be informed by something solid – something true and absolute and transformational. Let me know if you know of one and I’ll scrap the whole idea.

SLEEPout photo montage

Please enjoy these pictures from the sleepout last Friday. I know these can’t possibly tell the whole story, but I hope you get the idea: a LOT of joy happened.

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And, as icing on the cake, 6 Micah boys got baptized this past Sunday!! Praise the Lord