Tag Archives: discipleship

Succeeding in Failing

Failure One time, I told a mom I know, “Wow, you’re really patient!” She laughed, rolled her eyes, and said, “I wish! You must only see me on my good days!”

Another time, I told a friend, “You play guitar really well! You’ve definitely got a gift.” He responded, “Yeah, well, you should see the guys who really know how to play. I try my best, though…”

Someone told me once, “I really like your artwork. You’re really talented.” I immediately responded, “Well, I like doing it, but I still have a hard time getting the proportions right, and on this one, this part is all wrong, and this part didn’t turn out how I wanted…”

Because I have some natural talent in art, I see all my failures when I make a piece of art. I see the shapes are wrong, the colors are ugly, the piece is expressionless and without emotion… I see these failures because I have a talent here. If I had no talent in art, I would not see my failures. I would have no idea of how far I was from where I could be, should be.

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Letter from Iran

Iran has recently been on my radar screen.  First, I began to read Persepolis, an autobiographical comic book about a young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution of the 1980s.  I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s definitely an entertaining, engrossing (I don’t even know what that word means), and enlightening look at a country known in the U.S. mostly for terrorism.

Then, a friend posted this article on Facebook about Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen of Iranian descent who’s currently being held in an Iranian prison and denied proper treatment on account of his faith.

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Bringing Risky Back – Sent As Sheep Among Wolves

I spent about ten years living and ministering in a small town in southern Wisconsin.  A number of the families in our church body were raising farm animals.  One family had goats.

Not once (in all my years in that fellowship) did I ever hear that family express worry over what would happen to the poor coyotes and mountain lions if one curious little goat managed to escape the pen.

Because we all know full well the fate that would await such an adventurous little guy:  coyote food.

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In Matthew 10:16, Jesus gathers together his disciples to give them an encouraging word about his calling on their lives.  So, what does he tell them?  How he will always be with them?  How he has given them every place they set their feet?  How a thousand may fall at their side, ten thousand at their right hand, but it won’t come near them?  How power will come on them and they’ll be witnesses to the outermost parts of the earth?  How he loves them so jealously?

No, he tells them simply, “Look, I’m sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”

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A Saint on the Road to the Army Encampment

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I’ve written before about Vasilica, her faith, her life, and the difficult situation she is in.  As we visited her last night, I was reminded once again of the power of God to turn normal, insignificant people into men and women of destiny, into saints.

For saints are not merely extraordinary Christians dead and gone, people to admire.  Rather, every follower of Jesus is called to be a saint, a holy man or woman of God, full of his power and love.  Saints are simply nobodies who said “yes” to the One and so became somebody.

1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”

Ephesians 5:3, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”

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Sharing the gospel, fighting cockroaches, and surviving without Facebook

The last few days have been interesting here in Bucureşti.  It started with losing our internet connection, then a massive influx of cockroaches, and then lots of days out on the streets sharing the gospel with Jake Martin.

I’ve known Jake for about two or three years, and he’s definitely an awesome man of God. In the states, he was nicknamed “The Evangelism Machine” or simply “The Evangelist” for obvious reasons. Due to a funny mistranslation fo the nickname, we started calling him the “Evangecar” or “Evangemobile” during his two weeks with us.

We decided to put our language-learning on hold and go hardcore with evangelism while Jake Martin was with us. We spent almost every afternoon out on the streets. We passed out tons of tracts, spoke to dozens of people, and watched God at work outside the church buildings. Man, it’s been an exhausting and exhilerating week, and we’ve got Jake for another seven days! Praise God!

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Elvis *IS* Alive

Today, headed out to Ferentari for some street evangelism.  Our four-person team was truly international, featuring two from the United States (Jake and I), one from Great Britain (Jacob, in the middle), and another from Canada (Jason, on the left) who can speak Romanian.  Samuel (Romanian) and Sorin (Gypsy) had hoped to join us but couldn’t make it today.

To give you some background, Ferentari is Bucuresti’s poorest neighborhood.  It is also the most notorious for crime, and it’s the home for many Rroma (Gypsy) people and so largely avoided by Romanians.  When I asked the Bucuresti police if there were any areas they hated to work, they told me unanimously that it was Ferentari.  Unofficial statistics I heard were that 3 women disappear every night in Ferentari and are sold into the sex trade.  That statistic seems high, but I don’t know.  We learned that last year a pile of dead children was found in the neighborhood.  Every one of them had his lungs ripped out, probably to be sold on the black market.  In a dark city, this is the darkest place (other than, perhaps, the political areas), and so we headed there to bring some light.

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A weekend with Spiritual Revival Church

We headed out from Bucureşti Thursday morning, catching a tramvai (tram) to a metrou (subway) to a tren (train) to an autocar (coach bus) to Rotbav.  Rotbav is a beautiful village of 1,000 to 1,500 people that’s only about 120 miles but 3 to 6 hours from where we live.  It’s a neat little town, and it would be our home away from home through Sunday afternoon as we enjoyed fellowship and ministry with Spiritual Revival Church.

Thursday, our train to Braşov was late, so we missed meeting up with the greater portion of the Spiritual Revival crew.  But Pastor Peter and Dan (pronounced “Dun” here) waited for us so we’d get on the right bus from Braşov to Rotbav.  Dan is 6-foot-something, became a Christian in March, and translates many Sundays.  He has a very easy-to-like personality, and I really enjoyed getting to talk with him and learn about life in Romania.

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Staying Up Late Talking About Jesus

It was a late night yesterday for me–or an early morning, depending on how you measure it–but it was awesome!  I got home from the men’s group around 8:30, and I planned to talk with James and Seth about some issues going on.  They were both gone, so cooked up a pizza then grabbed my guitar and spent some time worshiping.  That was probably the best thing I could’ve done (the worship, not the pizza).

When they came home, I never got around to the issue I wanted to bring up.  (In fact, worshiping and getting my heart right had made it no longer an issue, anyhow.)  Instead, we talked about Jesus for the next 4 hours.  We prayed, laughed, cried some even, spent some time worshiping, shared how Jesus has been leading us, shared our concerns and questions…  It was great.  I got to encourage both of them with the calling on their lives and challenge them to give themselves fully to that call.  Man, it was great.

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Are you sure you wanna leave?

“Are you really sure you wanna leave?”  I’ve been asked that question many times over the last few months.  Partly, I think it’s asked because people will miss me here, but also I think it’s asked because things are starting too get exciting here.

A few years ago, when I first began to seriously consider leaving, the desire was born more out of frustration than anything else.  I had grown tired of small town ministry, frustrated with watching people grow cold in their love for Jesus, and just plain weary of having few like-minded believers here.  Basically, I had grown tired of my post, wanted out, and was contemplating shooting myself in my foot to get an early discharge.

But, though I was stir-crazy and worn out, I didn’t sense God’s permission for me to leave.  So I hung in there.  I figured I’d give it a few more years so I could end with a nice round 10 years of service under my belt.

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Why I missed the last few days

I’ve been trying to post something every day, but the last few days have been just crazy.  In a good way.

For starters, this has been a full week subbing.  Counting when I head in today, it’ll be all five days.  With preparing for Romania and then my normal ministry responsibilities and wanting to spend time with God, it became difficult to get on here.

Things have been good with subbing, though.  I had a number of chances to talk to some of the staff about how I’ll be heading to Romania to work in missions.  The conversations I had were all very encouraging.  One of my biggest prayers, though, is that God would give me grace to use these conversations to spread the gospel.  I want to do more than just inform; I want to share in a way that would bring conviction of sin and selfishness.

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