First, Ministry and More…
Family is doing well. Jill and I are planning to spend next weekend in Alexandria, MN celebrating our 45th anniversary. Moriah will be staying in Minneapolis, enjoying some space. Mo is taking classes online this summer and working as a nanny. She is already signed up for her Fall classes online and will start working with another family nearby for the season to come. Fortunately, because of our limited space, Jill has been able to go into her office for the past few months. I have been working from home.
This seems a little crazy, but I’ve been very encouraged by the direction of TLI during this travel shut down. We just finished our Administration meeting a few minutes ago. Each department reported some pretty amazing initiatives that I believe the Lord will use in incredible ways in the days ahead. I’m thrilled to be working with a small team developing training for church planting. The International Trainers have been focusing on our certification through our new curriculum. That has required focused online meetings and a bunch of eye-opening, heart-dissecting reading. Our travel has been suspended indefinitely, so I’ve been working with our guys in Uganda and the St Croix Valley to strategize how we might approach the January training. Currently there are two possibilities on the table. If we can travel from the US to Uganda (which will likely require a 14 day quarantine when we arrive in Uganda), we may try to travel, quarantine, then do two back-to-back weeks of training. Then, fly back to the US to quarantine again. If we can not travel in January we are considering how we might do online/video training of the six Ugandan Lead Trainers in order to prepare them to lead the training. I have no doubt they are capable, but I would so prefer to be able to train them in person! Maybe my preference is insignificant. Please be praying that the Sovereign Lord will cause us to see with His eyes and His heart as we prepare.
Finally, I want to thank all those who continue to faithfully support this work in prayer and in giving. One of the most stretching realities for me is that I am consuming kingdom resources while I wait. God is sovereign over these days too and has been reminding me I was consuming resources before this. These resources all belong to Him. Please pray that I can rest in peace as I prepare to rise and run.
It has been longer than usual since I wrote. I have friends whose schedule has been loaded over the last few months. Not so for me. I came back from Ethiopia in early March to self-quarantine. That’s kinda been my life since. I’m working from home. Meetings online. Church online. Shopping online. Life online. There has been a pretty dramatic reduction of activity, but that hasn’t increased my sense of peace. I’m sometimes tempted to think, more rest would produce more peace? Umm. No.
Just a few weeks ago I was part of an online (did that really need to be said again!?) time of prayer. It’s fascinating to me how a different setting can affect my awareness. I love to Prayer-walk. Walking and lifting to God the things that I see, hear, observe, think. It’s amazing what God points out during those times. But, let’s get back online… Several were praying about time sensitive stuff. Consistently when time came into play the word “quickly” was used. And, I wondered, is that really what I should be asking? What if the sovereign God wants us to wait? Guess what. We will wait. That often brings more frustration than peace.
We live in a world of activity. Hurry. Perform. Produce. One of the most common responses to the gratuitous question, “How are you?” is, “I’m sooo busy?” We should just go ahead and add, “…because I am sooo important.” The world needs me to do this, be there, experience that.
From time to time I enjoy watching “Get Up” on ESPN. Mike Greenberg is a great host. I love the way Greeny so consistently affirms the contributions of those he works with. But, I can’t think of a single time I’ve tuned in that Mike Greenberg doesn’t begin the show with something like, “Thank you for joining us for what will be a very busy day on Get Up.” I just want to say, “Greeny, chill! We haven’t had live sports for four months, how can it possibly be a busy morning!?” The fascinating thing is, morning by morning they fill the time, and even seem busy!
Several years ago I was confronted with my propensity to overload my schedule. It felt good to say “yes” to every request. Until it didn’t. Then, it just about killed me. I liked being busy, and wanted, and needed. I felt like the center of so much important stuff.
I have always valued the wisdom God has made available to me through godly people around me. I had a long season of correcting my “yes” default. Was that to please the Lord, or to please other people, and me? Of course my misguided motives became evident early in the process, substantive correction took much longer.
Here are a few of the more important, more challenging steps I had to take.
Prayer became much more essential, focused, and practical. I also had to communicate more honestly with people. When I needed to say “no” I needed to be thoughtful, and clear in communicating why. (This also became critically important to the ongoing crucifixion of my ego!) Some who would agree that I am not the Messiah, kinda wanted me to be their Messiahn at times. Recognizing my need to say no to some things also helped me become a better leader and equipper. The things that needed to be done by someone other than me caused me to value the body of Christ more highly. In several cases I became aware that I needed to train others to do what I needed to say no to. I needed to be content moving at God’s pace rather than the pace of the world. Another absolutely essential piece has been practicing Sabbath. A day to be with the Lord, rest, and reset; no agenda except to be in the Lord’s presence. In a world of busy, stopping is radically counter cultural, Kingdom of Jesus stuff. This is where I became most convinced Jesus would build His Church (Matt.16:18). He didn’t need me, but He would be pleased to use me.
These are things God has shaped over several decades of struggle and led to my response to the guys in our small group, when the question was asked why God was allowing this pandemic.
I replied (and they asked that I write this down, and share it)… The best that I have is this; God is making His glory visible. God is shaking the world and my grip on the world, making known that the things we might be tempted to trust cannot be trusted. He is calling us to live as people who rest in Him ALONE. Those who follow His Word, and demonstrate in our lives the peace He brings to the person who trusts and moves, and rests in Him. In Peace. Even when I don’t like what is happening, I can know WHY it is happening. God is revealing His glory! And, He is revealing His glory through me, when I am faithful.
Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
And so, I invite you to rest in peace. Rest in the only Savior who can be trusted always. Jesus died to make this season meaningful. We can rest in peace. I’m sure you’re well aware the most common use of that phrase is in regard to people who are no longer living. But, if our life is in Jesus we can experience the resurrection. True life in Jesus Christ.
If you are tempted to think learning to wait on the Lord is a small matter, I have included a few verses for you to ponder.
Genesis 49:18 I wait for your salvation, O Lord.
Psalm 25:3-5 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 25:21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.
Psalm 27:13-14 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 31:24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!
Psalm 33:20-22 Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
Psalm 37:7-9 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
Psalm 37:34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
Psalm 39:7 And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.
Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 52:9 I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
Psalm 62:1-2 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
Psalm 62:5-6 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
Psalm 106:13 But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.
Psalm 123:1-2 To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.
Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 145:15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
Isaiah 8:17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.
Isaiah 25:9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Isaiah 30:15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling,
Isaiah 33:2 O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 49:23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”
Isaiah 51:5 My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.
Isaiah 64:4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Lamentations 3:25-26 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Hosea 12:6 “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.”
Micah 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
Habakkuk 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait for me,” declares the Lord, “for the day when I rise up to seize the prey. For my decision is to gather nations, to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger; for in the fire of my jealousy all the earth shall be consumed.
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 25:1-13 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept…
Luke 2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
Romans 5:3-4 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
1 Corinthians 1:7 So that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.
Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Colossians 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
Titus 2:13 Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
James 1:1-27 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
James 5:7-8 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
James 5:11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
1 Peter 1:22-25 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
2 Peter 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Jude 1:20-21 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Revelation 6:10-11 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.