In Case You Missed It

At the Southeastern Women’s Life blog, Amy Whitfield shared about her first overseas trip in over a decade, and the first for her two children. Amy writes:

As 2016 came to a close, I found myself with the strange emotional mix of anxiety and anticipation. Three days after Christmas I was getting on an airplane (five airplanes, to be precise) and headed to the other side of the world. My husband was leading a trip to Southeast Asia and our whole family was going with him. It was my first trip overseas in over a decade, and the first time our children (ages 11 and 13) would ever leave the country.

 

In a post at the Baptist Press, Amy King also shared about taking kids on overseas mission trips.

We were celebrities and oddities in a rolling caravan. And by rolling, I mean with actual wheels — a double stroller and several wheeled suitcases trailing my husband Steven and me as we careened through an Asian airport with our two boys, ages 3 and 1.

 

In an American airport, perhaps we would have been a passing entertainment, avoided in security lines and processed with great pains. Yet in this Asian country, as I sweated my way through an immigration line, it was as if we had a golden ticket.

 

“This way!” the security manager called, waving us to a VIP line with no waiting. The once-stern boss then proceeded to coo and teach our boys how to count to 10 in the local language.

 

We had arrived on our first mission trip as a family of four, and I quickly realized my children had broken down barriers from the moment they stepped, or rode, into the country.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Lauren Hansen shared a post titled: “My Empty Womb and a Forgotten Prophecy“.

In May 2014, I found out that my friend Carter had died. That was 28 months into my infertility journey. Twenty-eight months of Please, God, pleaseNo, Lord, no; and Show us your grace, Father. Twenty-eight cycles of wait, despair, and trust in the One who planned purpose in it all. My husband and I had endured the tests, taken the standard medication, administered the shots, and had found ourselves with medically diagnosed “unexplained infertility.” And we were two months from the end of our treatment plan and from giving over our unmet hope of biological children to God and resting in him there.

 

We had tried to figure out why God would withhold a child from us. Was he disciplining us? Was he protecting us from something we didn’t know? Did he have an entirely different purpose for our lives that could not be fulfilled with biological children? We never landed on an answer, but we knew God was at work. Like Jesus in Gethsemane or Paul with his thorn, our heavenly Father always has a greater purpose that requires quiet obedience. Job did not receive explanations, only assurances of God’s character. God is full of surprises, and by his grace we found peace in whatever his plan for our lives—with or without kids—because we learned to trust that we truly wanted what he wanted for us.

 

And we wanted what he promises: more and more of himself.

 

At The Intersect Project, Harper McKay posted an article discussing the refugee crisis with a reminder that as followers of Christ, our lives must be about God’s glory among all nations. Harper writes:

It was just a few years ago. News started to pour in that refugees were fleeing war torn and oppressive nations in North Africa and the Middle East in unprecedented numbers.

 

After my initial shock and incredible sadness for these people escaping for their lives, my next thought was, “Aslan is on the move.”

 

If you’ve read the famous tale, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” you know that Aslan is the great lion king who conquers the evil witch and saves his people in the land of Narnia. In the beginning of this story, Narnians start to see changes around them that are bigger than they are, more powerful than they could muster. They perceive that Aslan, their King, is working, and although they are still frightened, they have a sense of wonder and excitement about what is coming.

 

Amy Medina posted at her blog discussing 10 myths about Africa many Americans believe.

I am going to debunk the following myths with what I have learned by living in Tanzania, since that is the country I am most familiar with.  However, keep in mind that I will be speaking broadly, and knowingly countering the stereotypes about Africa with more stereotypes (albeit, hopefully more accurate stereotypes).  In any culture or country, people live along a spectrum, and it’s important that we don’t ever lump an entire group (or continent) of people under any particular label.  My main goal is to use what I have learned in Tanzania to change the mental picture many Westerners have of Africa.

In Case You Missed It

Keelan Cook proclaimed in a recent blog post: “Missions is changing, and we need to keep up.

Our great-grandchildren will read about this moment in church history textbooks, if the Lord does not return first. Global changes are taking place that will forever affect the way churches fulfill the great commission, and our generation is standing at a major turning point in the history of the church.

I like to call this change the democratization of global missions. That is really a fancy way of saying that for the first time in history, every, single member of your local church can be directly involved in international missions. I am not referring to praying for missionaries or giving to support their cause. These crucial tasks have always been available to church members, and they are perhaps more important than ever. But now, every member can actually participate in cross-cultural ministry.

Chuck Lawless addressed the issue of why pastors have few deep friendships in a recent blog post:

I’ve heard it so many times that I almost expect it: pastors are lonely. They often minister among people they say they love, but don’t know well. They have few deep friendships. Here are 10 reasons why we struggle with finding friends.

At First Things, Peter Leithart published an article discussing what we get from worship.

It is often said that we come to worship to give and not to receive. That is a dangerous half-truth.

Praise, thanks, adoration are all part of worship, of course, and God delights in our praise. But in worship as in all of life, we have nothing to give unless we have first received. We give praise to God because He first gives gifts to us, and our gifts to Him are simply an Amen to His gifts to us. We come to worship to receive, so that we can give.

Earlier this week Thomas S. Kidd published and article which addressed the issue of how and when to say ‘no’. Dr. Kidd writes:

When do you say no? How do you choose between many promising-sounding opportunities? And how do you say no without seeming like a prima donna?

The key to this discussion is grasping that you need to focus on your core calling(s), and that the nature of your work in those callings changes over time. For example, if you are single, or if you are married with no kids, or are empty nest, then the question of saying no looks different than if you have kids at home. Or if you are a doctoral student writing your dissertation, saying no looks different than if you are a tenured full professor.

The basic principle is that a modicum of success or career progress, or additional family responsibilities, normally requires more saying ‘no.’ Instead, people often keep trying to shove more stuff into their schedule, leading to mediocrity across the board.

Finally, Amy Medina, who is has been serving in the East African city of Salaam since 2001 recently published an article: “Sometimes Africa Scares Me.” Pray for Amy and her family as there is potential for some political unrest where she is located:

The elections are two weeks from today.  But what can we do?  We stock our pantries; we fill up our gas tanks.  And we pray:  for peace, and for a government with integrity.  We pray for safety but remember that’s not always the most important thing.  Instead, that the gospel might go forth, no matter what.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.  

Thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.