Saturday, November 21, 2009

“It Goes On Forever...”

All three Waves (or should I say: the people in all three our Waves, team included) are doing really well… One of the things I like best about my ‘job’ is being involved in the lives of people, and just watching what Jesus is doing in them… and for them... and through them… It’s a ripple effect, isn't it???

Some of the folks in BGF who have not been able to be a part of the Wave this time round, have asked us: “So, what about us? Is there nothing for us?” Good question! And so we have developed individual and shorter bite size bits of the Wave and are calling it… you guessed it: ‘Ripples’! We’ll probably only start with these ‘Ripples’ in the New Year, since December seems to be a pretty hectic time of year here in Barbados. (Can you believe it? It’s almost Christmas! Where has the year gone…?)

I've been thinking about the ripple effect thing… Throw a few little pebbles onto the glassy surface of a dam… and immediately those ripples start to form and circle out… wider and wider until they just about cover the entire surface, creating all kinds of the most beautiful and amazing patterns. The effect one tiny pebble has on the surface of a large piece of water is rather amazing.

Here in BGF, the ripple effect has started… long before we have even thought of offering the “Ripples”… In fact, long before we folks from Atlanta had any idea that one day, our lives would be forever linked to the lives of the folks here in BGF… Because God has been the One who threw those little pebbles into the waters of our lives… He always has been a ‘Pebble Thrower’, hasn’t’ He? A ‘Creator of Ripples’… a Renewer of hearts and lives… that’s our Jesus! And we all get to participate with Him! And it’s exciting and amazing as we watch God tossing these pebbles into the waters of the lives here in BGF… and transformation happens… not because folks have received some new bit of information, but because God Himself, through His revelatory (fancy word huh?) relationship with us, has touched our lives… And then we all, through relationship, touches the lives of others… becoming little ‘Pebble Throwers’ ourselves… little ‘Creators of Ripples’ – after the image of the One who created us… and the Ripples go on…and on… forever…

'Little Creators of Ripples' ... fashioned in the image of our Father

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Special Sunday in Barbados

It’s early'ish in the morning. I have a nice cup of hazelnut-flavored coffee beside me. The hot coffee is in a mug bought in a tourist shop on the island. It has dolphins and starfish all around it and the words “Barbados” written across the bottom of the mug. Yes, I did succumb, for one moment, to being a tourist. Or maybe make that two moments!!

I find myself reflecting on the places in the world that I’ve spent time in, led mission trips to and visited teams on the mission field. I am compelled to say that Barbados is probably the most beautiful. It is small, so getting around is easy and we don’t have to deal with lots of traffic. The weather is beautifully sunny every day and, although there are heavy rain showers almost every day, they never last and only serve to freshen everything up and make it look even more green and tropical.

But what about why Laurie, Retha, Barry and myself are here? Is it just a nice spot in the tropics to while away the time?

Or is something meaningful, life changing and eternal taking place?

The answer, of course, is that we are most privileged to be living our lives with the folks of Barbados Grace Fellowship. They are hungry for God and are teachable. They love each other and us.On Sunday 8th November, we were asked to be responsible for morning church. (We will do this twice a month and also on Christmas morning). We took our theme from Mark Ch. 2:1-12. This is the account of the four men carrying their paralyzed friend on a stretcher and lowering him through a roof to bring him to Jesus.

Let me pause for a moment. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you have felt paralyzed, perhaps with fear or dread? Or your circumstances have been so difficult that you were unable to move forward or backward? Who were your “stretcher bearers”? Who were the dear folks who brought you to the feet of Jesus so that he could minister to you?

These were the questions that we asked on Sunday morning. We moved everyone into a large circle and asked that they would consider a time that someone had brought them into Jesus’ presence when they were unable to come of their own accord.

What followed was a wonderful time of sharing as people opened up about Stretcher Bearers had impacted their lives, broken through their circumstances and brought them to Jesus. We gave them cards and pens so that they could write notes of encouragement to others and so become “stretcher bearers” themselves.

We finished our time of sharing by recognizing that there were times in our lives when God himself was our Stretch Bearer: a time when He would allow no one else to carry us but himself. Perhaps a time when Jesus said. “Come to me.”

I absolutely love the way Matthew 11:28-30 is expressed in The Message.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

We stayed in our circle and shared communion together. Later, we were very encouraged by people’s responses to our rather different way of doing church.

Hopefully, you now have a little insight to what church was like last Sunday. We really enjoyed being able to contribute to the life of BGF in this way and are anticipating many more times of Sunday morning fellowship with our wonderful new friends.

For The Wave Team and BGF. LOL.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Glory and the Mess!'s been a while since I've been on here! So...I guess I owe you (LOL!). Let me explain something to all of you who follow our BLOG...we love talking about what's happening here and there is ALWAYS something to say. However, getting still or focused long enough to actually get it done, seems to be a huge struggle for all of us. It's not personal and it's certainly not because there's nothing to write's just planning it into our schedules and remembering to do it. So, it is the team's desire to be a little more proactive in this area and to post an entry at least twice a week from here on out. So...please be looking for the updates and we'll try our best to keep up with it.

Now...let me tell you about my last couple of weeks...wild, but wonderful; exhausting and exhilarating; miraculous but messy. I still haven't captured the paradox for you, but in telling a few stories, hopefully it will help paint the picture.

Me Tteaching on the DTS
Almost three weeks ago I spent a week teaching on the local Youth With a Mission (YWAM) base here in Barbados. YWAM is the largest missionary organization in the world at present and is about to celebrate its 50th birthday. I spent nearly 7 years on staff with them based in Amsterdam and loved it in nearly every way. Since I've been living in Atlanta I've been still connected to the mission through teaching on various training schools they offer to people. So, this week I was teaching on the Discipleship Training School (DTS) which is the entry point for anyone wishing to participate long term in YWAM. I taught on the subject of "Dealing with the Past." The main focus was understanding how we come to believe what we do about ourselves, God and others based on our experiences in life. I taught on subjects like "Why Do We Do What We Do?"; Emotions and Beliefs; Forgiveness; and Identity. It was a powerful week and also very challenging for many of them as their "understanding" was shaken and challenged sometimes at the core. However, in the end, I had some amazing feedback about how many of them had come to see themselves totally different and as the true "beloved sons and daughters" of God that they are. Cool!

An amazing God-connection happened during the week on the DTS as well. One of the young gals on the staff of the school had her mom visit during class that week. They are from Barbados and "mom" (Jasmay) is a school teacher and local preacher. Towards the middle of the week she began telling me of what a divine appointment the week had been for her. She said, "I think this week was more for me than anyone else." As we chatted a bit I learned a little about her life and her experience in the church. In the end, we recognized clearly that this intersection of our lives was no coincidence. So, we're going to get together soon (for coffee of course!) and she has asked me to come speak at the church. In my heart is a desire to watch what Father has planned in our connecting, not just for us, but even for how BGF and this local fellowship might have a future relationship. Wouldn't that be spectacular?

As well as teaching that week I was also still with the WAVE groups in the evenings, meeting with the leadership of BGF and those with whom I'm mentoring. you can was a very full week. And, at the end of it, as we were having a Project Day with Wave #3, I jumped on a plane back to the USA in order to speak at a retreat in Minnesota and just catch up on life in Woodstock. It was a very full and fast week.

I spoke Sunday morning at Grace Life church (after only getting to bed around 2am so I was a little fuzzy) catching them up on life in Barbados and the wonderful privilege it has been so far. I shared that morning on the ever-pursuing love of Jesus, coming to us to convince us at every moment of His delight in us. It was a good morning. From there, it was people as much as I could fit in (along with a trip to the dentist to crown a broken tooth!). I was able to be with both of The Rides and my Wednesday night Grace group. So good to see everyone and hear about their journeys of late. In between I was shopping for all the stuff we "NEEDED" back here and preparing for the retreat in Minnesota. Like I said, crazy week, but oh so rich!

Me Teaching on the Retreat

The Wonderful Ladies of Open Arms COG

I landed in Minnesota to a pretty amazing snowfall. It didn't stick, but it was coming down. I liked that even though it was pretty dang cold to my Barbados adjusted thermostat. The theme of the retreat was "Amazing Grace!" Now I'm sure you must have know what a struggle it was for me to speak on that - LOL! I had such fun with these ladies right from the start (we played BUNKO the first night - and I was the champion - and it took so much SKILL - right!). I concentrated throughout the weekend on Grace is...Jesus! We looked at how He came to us to reveal life and grace to us, completely as a gift, totally because He wanted us free, and to give us a miraculous destiny in Him and through Him. All throughout the retreat I was overwhelmed at the preciousness of His presence with us and His revelation happening in the hearts of us all. What an amazing bunch of ladies these dear Saints are and I felt so fortunate to have those three days with them.

By the lake at the retreat center

Then began the long (and I do mean LONG) journey back to Barbados. I sat at the airport in Minneapolis for over 5 hours waiting for my plane to take off. Finally arrived in Atlanta around 12:15am (and of course it took them 45 minutes to get the luggage to us weary passengers) only to get in bed at 2:15am. Was up at 7am to make my final dentist appointment and get packed up for my return to Barbados. The flight from Atlanta made it early to Miami and I even had three seats to myself. However, after arriving in Miami I soon realized the plane to Barbados was not going to leave on time. And, it was again a long and frustrating wait, and again it was a 2am bedtime once actually getting back. And, we had the morning WAVE the next day so no sleeping in! But, despite the long trek I was thrilled to be back.

This past week has been so good, and once again, very full. It was GREAT to be back with the WAVE groups, catch up on what was happening in their lives, and just be together. Along with that I've met with individuals and heard more specifically what God has been up to in their journey, and it's nothing short of a miraculous mess. Yep, messy and miraculous all at once. Can you relate?

Often times we have a perception of the way life in Jesus is supposed to go. Surely it might be a bit of a struggle when we begin, after all we're only rookies...but, after a while, most certainly it will begin to look at least a little like we know what we're doing. However, I think that's deception at its best. Life (in Christ and on earth) was never supposed to be "together", tidy, and/or perfectly controlled. However, most of us, ok, well ALL of us, have at some time bought into the idea that if we just work at it hard enough and long enough it will get there at some point. So, we live with this elusive (and unobtainable) goal somewhere out in the future, and we spend our time and effort to just even just get one little bit closer, only to find the horizon is a lot further away than we had originally determined. And so we redouble our efforts and try again...and fail again...and try again...and fail again! It's a ridiculous and insidious cycle! But, it's NOT Life.

Yes, the journey can be a grand adventure and a grand mess all at the same time. That's what makes it amazing and Jesus the miracle worker. If it were as simple as us getting it all together and making "right" choices, we wouldn't have needed a Savior and we wouldn't have chosen independence from God. We would all be living in the Garden of Eden, naked and unashamed. But, that's not our reality. We are inheritors of THE LIE and and without the mystery of the Living Christ in us we would be bound to live by it forever. BUT GOD! Just at the right time...He came and brought us, in us and now through us...IN CHRIST. But, living out of that Life is a process (some call it the "P" word around here!). And, it is often messy. However, it's no surprise to God and He is completely able to deal with the mess, and believe it or not, He doesn't even need your help to do so. Spend some time with that thought for a while.

So, a new week begins here in Barbados, on the Wave, in my life and yours. I wonder what it will hold? I really don't know but more than ever I'm believing it's going to be GREAT! (I sound like Tony the Tiger!). So, relax, enjoy the moments that make your heart come alive, embrace the struggle that brings your self-sufficiency to naught, and most of all, let it all remind you of the ONE who thinks so highly of you that He calls you His Child! And I don't know about you, but the last time I was around a child, it was not without dirty hands and faces, toys strewn all about, and lots of spills and falls...but, the delight and laughter within it, couldn't make me wish for a clean and organized life...not one bit. Till next time...