Jul 10 2014

Mission Trip Day 6


I didn’t sleep very well the first night of the mission trip. I didn’t have that problem last night.

The first night, the unfamiliarity of it all kept me awake, I think. My air mattress wasn’t the same as my bed at home. There were so many different noises, ranging from other people snoring, to whispers between friends, to the normal whirs and bangs of air conditioning in a church gymnasium (in which we slept the first night).

But last night was a totally different story. I fell sleep pretty much the moment I closed my eyes. I don’t think it was because these unfamiliarities were no longer there (although we did switch from the gym to Sunday School rooms), but rather because I was just so exhausted from the day’s work.

Hard work tends to do that.

Today was filled with more hard work.

My group finished the ramp that we’ve been working on all week, as well as some miscellaneous projects inside the building. The girls I brought from my church painted, cleaned, and surveyed a community for a church. We worked hard.

There’s an old hymn that says, “We’ll work ’til Jesus comes.” Life is not meant to be a vacation. While it’s certainly appropriate to rest from work from time to time, or even for an extended period of time in order to be refreshed, most of our lives ought to be spent working.

The work we do over the course of our lives takes many forms. Sometimes it’s at our place of employment, sometimes it’s with friends, serving our church and other churches, sometimes it’s serving the lost in order to show Christ to them.

And oftentimes our work is with our families, raising children, and serving our spouse.

I can’t wait to get home tomorrow. I miss my wife. I miss my kids. I miss my bed. But in going home to be with my family, I don’t for an instant pretend that my work is over.

I will need to have energy to play with my kids. I will need to watch them and give my wife a break, since she’s been taking care of them mostly by herself all week. I will need to do my part in cleaning, and in leading family devotions, and in doing all the other things families do together.

This work, of course, is a joy (or ought to be), just as all the work we do ought to be a joy as we serve the Lord. Romans 12:11 says, “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” (NLT)

Whether on a mission trip, or at work, or at home, or anywhere else, we need to serve the Lord enthusiastically.

I’m so greatly looking forward to going home and seeing my family tomorrow, and I’m also looking forward to a little bit of rest. But even as I enjoy these things, I pray that I will continue to work hard as I serve God with joy.

Jul 9 2014

Mission Trip Day 5

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When I woke up this morning, for some reason I anticipated that today would be a fun day. And I was right.

It’s not that we partied today. We didn’t go to an amusement park or a ball game. We didn’t even really get much of a chance to sit around and talk.

We worked. And we worked hard.

And it was fun.

In fact, a lot of things didn’t go perfectly. We took a wrong turn on our way to our work site. We had to redo one aspect of the project we were working on four times. We ran out of materials when we thought we had everything we needed to finish.

And yet we still had fun.

A lot of how we experience life comes down to our own attitudes.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Notice that this assumes first that we need medicine. We should expect difficult times. That’s life! Why do we often get so surprised and bent out of shape when things don’t go our way, when it’s actually pretty rare that we ever fully get our way? Getting our way is not what we really need in life. We need to learn to have a cheerful heart even when things aren’t going our way.

Jesus makes this possible. Jesus took our sin upon Himself so that we can have abundant life! He gives us reason to rejoice, even when we were hopelessly stuck in our sin.

So the next time you feel like throwing a pity party, remember the biblical command to “rejoice in The Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice!”

Jul 8 2014

Mission Trip Day 4


Today was a grind.

At this point in our mission trip, we’re in full swing. We all know what we’re doing, and we just need to keep at it.

I continued working on the ramp, and the girls I brought from church continued doing all the things they do (leading VBS, leading backyard Bible clubs, cleaning, painting, helping in the kitchen, etc.). It seems like they’re all having a good time, but you can also tell that it’s all becoming routine at this point.

I guess the most positive way to put it is that we’re in the groove.

But another way to put it is that hard work is hard work, even if it’s for Jesus.

That’s also how real life is. Life is not lived on the mountain tops. Every moment is not packed with excitement. Everyday life is full of everyday moments.

But it’s in these everyday moments that our faith is truly tested.

Jesus said in Luke 16:10, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.”

God wants us to be faithful during the grind. He wants us to get in the groove of doing hard work for Him, even in the seemingly mundane moments of life.

But we also need to remember to do everything through Christ. He is our strength. He is our hope. He is our joy. And when we forget that, we lose out on our greatest help throughout the grind of life. But with Jesus, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

Jul 7 2014

Mission Trip Day 3


I tried something new today.

I basically had the choice between either helping with two backyard Bible clubs, or helping to build a ramp on the side of a church building. I’m not completely sure why, but I chose the latter.

Typically I shy away from physical labor. I’ve just never been that good at it.

Seriously, ask my wife. She gives me man points whenever I accomplish (or even attempt) a manly project at home. Once I get to 100 man points, I’m sufficiently able to accomplish any home remodeling project necessary.

Today, the ramp project overseer said that he would sign off on the remainder of my man points.

I drilled, I hammered, and I did a whole lot of sweating. It was great.

Sometimes God wants us to step out of our comfort zones by doing something new for Him. There’ s certainly something to be said for faithfulness to a particular task or ministry, but sometimes we can get so used to doing the same thing over and over for years that we might miss some opportunity that God may be giving us.

I got to spend all day working with young Christian men, getting to know them, joking around with them, and encouraging them to work hard. I also got to talk briefly with two key members of the church we were building the ramp for, sharing part of my story with them, and pointing to Jesus Christ as our greatest joy.

It was a joy to serve Christ and His Church in this way today.

I hope that when I get home at the end of the week, I’ll remember that I’m still on mission, and that I’d be willing to try something new for Jesus. Will you?

Jul 6 2014

Mission Trip Day 2


It’s hard to put today into words. In some ways, it was a continuation of yesterday, in that we continued to plan ministry projects and figure out what we’re doing. But it was more than that as well.

Most of us visited several ministry sites today in order to get a better idea of their needs and to meet some of the people in those churches who we would serve and serve with. Some groups began the first day of their VBS, while other groups threw block parties, and still other groups tore off roofs and started laying shingles.

So as you can see, there was quite a bit of variety.

But I think if I had to pick a word for the day, it would be encouragement. As we went to all of these places, we met discouraged people. We met church members and pastors who have been working hard for years and not seeing the results they long for. And even though we and they know God is the one who brings the harvest, it’s hard sometimes to have hope when we have to wait so long.

So it was our job to point them to the hope that we have.

I personally had the opportunity to meet and talk with four pastors of four churches. I asked them about their stories. I asked them about their challenges. And I encouraged them to continue to be faithful. I praised them for pressing on even through the trials, and I reminded them that Christ would never leave nor forsake them.

But as I encouraged them, I was also encouraged by them. It’s crazy how that works. When we seek to be a blessing to others, God often chooses to bless us as well.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

God uses believers to encourage each other, teach each other, help each other, and help each other grow. We do these things as we follow Christ and glorify God. And as we sharpen one another, we become better equipped to minister to the world around us, encouraging them also to follow Christ and glorify God.

Because ultimately, it’s not about what we can accomplish for God, but about what God will accomplish through us, according to His wisdom, and for His own glory.

So we should all be encouraged that God has a plan, and we get to be a part of it.