Archives For endurance

With all the bad news this year and challenging times, it is more difficult than ever to remain hopeful and positive. There seems to be a constant stream of negativity and pessimism.

When I began in missions 28 years ago, Americans were known around the world as hopeful and overcoming. This seems to be changing. We now seem to be negative and cynical proclaimers of doom and gloom.

As Christians, we are the only people in the world that have grace. This should help us to have a different perspective on hardship. The reality of grace becomes even more real during times of struggle.

When I see the Biblical authors speaking about grace during trials, it was not something they learned in a classroom or a textbook. It came from facing much more than we have. 

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I have an attraction to leadership books which describe real leaders, rather than those with a polished, corporate facade. I fully acknowledge we can learn from books touting secrets and methods, but I find much more encouragement in those which help me lead in and through my weaknesses.

An all time favorite of mine is Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender, which I have spoken about multiple times on this site.

A new addition to these ranks is a book I am currently reading. The Way of the Dragon, the Way of the Lamb by Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel is study of leadership in weakness.

Coupled with their musings, they interview multiple humble giants of the faith. The authors spent time with J.I. Packer of Knowing God fame, Eugene Peterson who paraphrased the Message, and several others. The heroes share many of their observations on the North American church, which has been largely influenced by power, prestige, platform and personality.

I was in America for the first time in forever on Memorial Day. This is a day where we remember the sacrifice of many who fought for the freedom of America. Drive down any street and you will see flags waving on houses with patriotism abounding. I found myself in the heartland of America this year. As I watched a military color guard present the Stars and Stripes for the national anthem of a baseball game, it struck me.

I live here now. This is not a visit, it is a move.

Perhaps my love for baseball made this epiphany so poignant. I simultaneously felt my love for America swell in my heart and my nervousness at returning after 12 years overseas cause my stomach to churn.

We are living in the most connected time in history. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, Facetime……

Why is it we have an epidemic of loneliness coupled with a lack of vulnerability?

Depression, anxiety and stress are at all time highs.

We are desperate to be known, yet terrified of being discovered.

We are able to create a public face to be anyone we want to be.

This face is merely a cover story, not reality.

Loneliness, Isolation and Self-Pity are our companions.

We are not alone in this…and not without some Biblical insight.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah has the classic confrontation with the prophets of Baal. He challenges them to call down fire from heaven from their gods of wood and stone. When it is Elijah’s turn, he soaks his offering with barrels and barrels of precious water during a drought. God answers with fire from heaven, consuming the water and the sacrifice.

Why is it we feel we must portray a model of perfection as Christians?

For as long as I can remember, the stereotypical Christian was one who cleaned up well and always answered the “How are you Doing?” question with positive enthusiasm.

Do we present a church which has arrived and is all together, or one filled with people on the journey of figuring it out?

Donald Miller, in his refreshingly candid book Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy says,

“Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Those who can’t accept their imperfections can’t accept grace either.”

A photo by Keith Wickramasekara. unsplash.com/photos/C-6TaN2fxK8

Sometimes it is these imperfections which bring beauty.

Miller would imply Christianity, at is core,  is an admission of weakness. We seem to grasp this as a way to enter the door of faith.