Last Week. This Week. And. Next Week

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PT Live July 2019

PT Live Staff and Students

Last week. Roseville, Minnesota. Pre-Field Live Training. A few days of working with missionaries headed to the field. Subjects ranged from culture shock to spiritual vitality to ministry effectiveness. Thoughtful, get-to-know-you conversations occurred around the tables as we pastored this new group of missionaries.

This week. Bloomington, Minnesota. Debriefings. Two days with another great bunch of missionaries. Coming off the field, these Jesus-followers are facing home assignment or some type of transition. In our roles as pastors to missionaries we debrief them about their lives. Their ministries. Highs. Lows. Joys. Concerns. Good conversations.

And. Next week. Tallin, Estonia. Europe Conference. The ReachGlobal missionaries scattered across Europe will gather in Tallin for their biennial conference. Worship. Teaching. Workshops. We will be there! Conversations already are scheduled for every meal. Pastoring is our priority in those conversations, and as we assist in staffing the prayer room, as well as conduct a workshop centered on the “Threads and Strands of Grief”.

Three unique weeks, all in the month of July, each one particularly and exclusively designed with a purpose. Missionaries training for the field. Missionaries coming off the field. And, missionaries being sustained on the field. Each week representative of what we do as pastors to missionaries. Training. Debriefing. Supporting. And more. Sometimes here. Sometimes there. All done in His strength. The strength of our Lord.

“God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit…God himself is behind it all.” I Corinthians 12:4

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2019: Week #28: Bring Out the Cake!

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A big slice of cake. A round scoop of ice cream. It must be a celebration! Birthdays.IMG_2220 Graduations. Anniversaries. Sweet days of remembrance. Memories gathered into the heart.

And yet. Ordinary, run-of-the-mill, routine days are often strung together with comfortable sameness worthy of celebration. Unremarkable becomes wonderful, even significant, when God’s hand is detected.

In the ordinary He crafts. He creates. He brings together. And He, our God, shines. In that comfortable sameness He stirs. If we would but notice.

Then. In noticing. In heeding. There is celebration!

Celebration in the ordinary. And the extraordinary. God is working! Bring out the cake. It is time to celebrate our God! To celebrate His astonishments. To celebrate His hand in our lives. In the sameness. And. In the remarkable.

“Be glad and celebrate! God has done great things.” Joel 2:21

2019: Week #27: To Bend and Not Break

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2019-07-01 09.59.15Tucked in the corner of the garden. A small tree. Not planned. But. A volunteer growth.  Beautiful. Leafy. Green.

Tucked in the corner of a summer night. A storm. Wind. Rain. And. More wind.

Pressed against the fence, the tree met the wind. And. Could. Not. Bend. Inflexible, the sapling could not manage the gusts. Cracking was inevitable.

So. There in the light of day. The tree was found. Split. And broken.

Oh, to bend and not break against the wind of life. To endure. With patience. With fortitude. With praise. With gratitude. Because of Him. Our God. Full of tenderness and mercy.

“Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life…That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.” James 1:12 and 5:11, The Message

2019: Week #26: Settle In

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It is time. Time to make time. Time to settle in. Time for quietness. And thought. Time for2019-06-30 09.15.06.1 self. And Jesus. Time for prayer. And contemplation. Time for God’s Word. And meditation.

Opportunity beckons. Settle in. Find comfort. Be challenged. Settle into, and with, God’s Holy Scriptures.

Settle in. Quiet heart, mind, soul. Settle self.

Settle in to learn. To find wisdom. Acquire discernment. To know God and His love. Settle in to be challenged. And equipped. To express sorrow. And joy. To know peace. Settle in to ask sacred questions. To listen. Settle in to give thanks.

Settle in to sit with God. To be washed in His Word.

Settle. In.

2019: Week #25: Shelter

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2018-08-21 11.55.41Life is good. And hard. Days are sweet. And sour. Work is satisfying. And emptying. Relationships fill. And drain.

Life is laughter. And tears. Energy and exhaustion. Hope and disappointment.

At the end of the week, and the beginning of the next, shelter becomes a priority. In the good and the bad, in the easy and the difficult, there is protection. Sweet, sweet protection. Safety. Security. Comfort. Peace or storm, Jesus is our rock.

A Shelter in the Time of Storm

The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
We’ll never leave our safe Retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

                                                                                (Charlesworth and Sankey)

2019: Week #24: Take Courage

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Courage: “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain,2018-10-29 17.43.47.1jpg etc. without fear; bravery”. 

Take: “to get into one’s hold or possession by voluntary action; to hold, grasp, or grip”.

Written in black and white, dictionary.com appears to indicate courage is a simple choice of making up one’s mind to be brave. But. Then. Life happens.

Fear creeps in. Illness rises. Loss crouches. Death snatches. Relationships crumble. Security is nowhere to be found. So much for courage.

Yet. A choice is offered. Take. Action. Take action. Choose. Choose to be courageous. Even in the face of fear. Even when it takes away the breath. And the pulse rises. And the perspiration beads.

Yet. This is not a choice to be made alone. Rather, it can be, should be, made in the face of a relationship with the Lord. Our Lord. It is He who says: “Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will go with you wherever you may go.” Joshua 1:9

So. When the ticket agent tells us, “There is no way to get there from here,” we, Brian and Diane, choose courage in our missionary journeys. He, our Lord, is with us. When fellow missionaries look to us as their pastors when they face huge transitions, deep questions, and agonizing hurt we take courage, knowing courage comes from His nearness. His provision.

And. In our own family. We take courage. We choose. Because of Him. We are not alone. He is near.

When the waters rise. And the wind blows. The skies darken. And the pulse races. There is a promise: “But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’ ” Matthew 14:27

 

 

2019: Week #23: Affirmation

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We all need it. Long for it. Hope for it.

2019-06-04 10.54.44.2Affirmation.

The little boy, safe in his grandpa’s arms. Safe in his grandpa’s affirmation of who he is and how he is developing.

The dark haired girlie waiting for her program to begin. Looking for the affirmation in her parent’s eyes.2019-05-22 10.55.22.1

The momma who longs to hear “Well done,” instead of “Why did you do it that way?”.

The grandparent who likes to hear “way to go” just as much as she likes to give it.

2019-06-03 17.28.21.1“Atta boy.” Important coming from the bull pen. And. From the office.

Affirmation. Emotional support. Encouragement. Sometimes quiet and tender. Other times loud and boisterous.

You. Me. Our children, our siblings, our parents, our friends. We are all waiting for that sweet give and take of strengthening affirmation. Those words and actions that establish, sustain, and support.

Affirmation. Sending one another out into life with strength and the will to keep going. Affirmation. A conduit for courage and hope. Affirmation. “You’ve got this. And I love you.”

“Then Judas and Silas…spoke to them affirming words that strengthened the believers.” Acts 15:32, Passion Translation

2019: Week #22: Catch Your Breath

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Brian.Fish.May31Your life. My life. Our lives. Planning. Organizing. Making lists. Ignoring lists. Doing. Working. Being busy.  Staying on top of things. We tell ourselves to just keep breathing. Do the next thing. One foot in front of the other.

And then. The punch comes. The wind gets knocked out of us. We can’t breathe. We wake up tired. Or, surgery stops us. Or, we can’t think for ourselves. Or, we can’t possibly do the next thing. Or, we find it impossible to pray, to sit with the One who loves us so.

We have forgotten what it means to take a deep breath. To give ourselves breathing space. To wait. To rest. To catch our breath.

So. Catch your breath. Breathe in the God-colors. Catch a fish. Soak up the sun.

Catch your breath. Porch sit. Drink lemonade. Rock in the swing.

Catch your breath. Lift up your eyes. See what you are missing. Broaden your scope.

Catch your breath. Savor the God-flavors. Sip your coffee. Feel your heartbeat.

Catch your breath. Steep yourself in God’s Word. Immerse yourself in what He has to say to you. Be restored.

“Lord…in your tender kindness, breathe life into me again.” Psalm 119:159, The Passion Translation

 

2019: Week #21: Drawn to the Water

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Drawn by the music of the running stream and falling water we make our way down the2019-05-15 17.36.14.1 hillside. Tumbling water. Sparkling froth. Refreshment.

In our roles as pastors to missionaries we travel to remarkable places in the world. Caring for remarkable people. People who crack open spiritual doors, giving invitation to follow Jesus Christ. Beckoning to life. Bidding others to drink of the water of life He offers. A full life found in a singular Savior. Jesus Christ.

Flowing water. From the Baltic Sea to the Danube, from the Mediterranean to the Miljaka River, and back home again to Prairie Creek we are drawn to the water. Sometimes still. At times roaring. A picture of the true water found in Jesus Christ. The true life.

In Him is the invitation to put down roots. To be as a tree planted by streams of water. Prospering in a spiritual life with Him. The invitation is given throughout the world, whether along the Danube or Prairie Creek.

Jesus said: “Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”  John 4:14

2019: Week #20: All Creation

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2019-05-15 17.40.24.1What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all…made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Psalm 104:24

An ordinary Wednesday afternoon in May. Time for a pause, a break away in the everyday.

Camera and walking sticks. Hot dogs and kindling. The mid-day adventure takes us to Big Woods State Park. A world away. Just down the road.

Hiking paths winding across the hills. Soft undergrowth. A tumbling waterfall. Lofty, soaring trees breaking out in fresh green. And. Tiny peeping frogs calling out the arrival of spring.

God’s creation. Trees brushing the sky. Flowers here and there. A happy stream bubbling toward the falls. Frogs tickling the earth. Peeping wildly. Singing out the sound of God’s goodness.

God’s goodness. Wild and wonderful. On an ordinary Wednesday afternoon in May.