Dear Friends and Family,
Just in case you have been asking yourself, "Self, what am I going to get Jon Wilson for Christmas this year?" I have the answer! I recently (and by recently I mean yesterday) committed myself to a mission trip to Concepción, Chile. December 27th through January 9th I will be joining a group of friends from a church in Portland (Gladstone Christian Church) in assisting a missionary family I have known since childhood (the DeLeons) in the construction of a new church sanctuary. The cost of said mission trip is about $2400 and I am asking you, your families, your friends, your friends' families and your friends' families' friends to help me raise enough funds to make it happen. So, instead of that perfect pancake maker, new toaster, fruit cake, paisley tie, or argyle sweater you were contemplating sliding under the ol' tree with my name on it, I would be very grateful for your participation in this work.
I know many of you may be asking yourselves, "Self, doesn't Jon Wilson already work for a missions organization in which he is required to raise financial support?" Yes, I do. And I am so thankful to all of you who support me and Amor Ministries with money and prayers. This trip to Chile is an opportunity for me to grow outside of my work with Amor - to stretch myself a little (or a lot) -to reconnect with the reasons I started in this crazy missionary business in the first place.
If this sounds like something you could be on board with (and I pray it is), please respond to this post or write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I would love to talk to any of you more about this if there are any questions. And if by chance I raise over the $2400, the extra money will go to help others on the trip or to help the church in Concepción. Thank you all and God Bless.
I have a problem...okay, I have many. But one particular affliction seems to strike me from any side at any moment. Again, I say the problem is mine...so I do not fault the messenger (or more accurately the offender). I've labeled this problem christianese. The most recent occurance referred to striving to be in the center of God's will (uh, yes we were praying). A worthy goal, to be sure. But what was likely once the theme of an evocative sermon series has now been in circulation long enough in the church to become a catch phrase. Personally, being in "the center of God's will" raises a lot of questions. Do I really want to be there? Is there room to stretch out a little if that is where I'm standing? Is it a personal will, or more corporate? Do I desire for me, or us, to be there? Is there only one center, or multiple? Is the view of the center better from one side or the other? Do democrats habitually reside left of center and republicans right? The only answer I've been able to come up with is I don't care. God's will has never seemed like something one could orient geographically. Either we are there or were not, right? No edges, now middle, no bulls eye. Can't I just thank God for his grace and offer him my life daily to do with as he pleases? Must I reduce God's great design to pinpoint accuracy?
This was just the most recent, so it is fresh in my mind. I have some other favoritos as well. You may have heard of the famous "Hedge of Protection." This usually accompanies "traveling mercies" in prayer for those loved ones about to undertake a journey to a far away place like say, Mexico, where they might be imbedding themselves in a potentially dangerous short term mission trip. Now, I've seen hedges, friends...they ain't that menacing. They don't appear to be the protective metaphor I think people are hoping for (Though, one time, when I was four, I rode my motorcycle into a giant blackberry bush, which is sort of like a hedge. It did stop me quite well.). If you pray for protection for me for some reason, which I will definitely need and appreciate, please use something more in line with the Great Wall of China or, better yet, a force field. I just want to give God's ability to protect a little more cred.
This leads me to proportionality. Another piece of christianese that makes me forget whatever is said after it is anything in "double portion." Do I want a double portion of garlic mashed potatoes with my steak? YES! Do I want a double portion of ColdStone ice cream? Bring it on and don't forget the caramel. Do I want a double portion of God's wonderful blessings. I guess I'd have to say no. I'm of the opinion God will give me what I need and his first portion will be sufficient for me. Or in other words, I want my cup to runeth over, but I'll let him decide how much it takes.
I guess my real issue is not the use of the terms amongst Christians. Though, if you say them around me, please know there is a good chance I will snicker. Rather, I fear we get so intrenched in our Christian vocab we become unintelligible to those we want to reach. I just don't want to start interpreting what we say vs. what we mean. People already have a hard enough time understanding us.
But just for discussion's sake: If I am in the center of God's will, am I surrounded by a double portion of a hedge of protection? Hmm...
A very good friend of mine is right now driving to his grandparents house in Datona, FL from his condo In Ft. Lauderdale. He has had no electricity for several days and has officially run out of food (and the boy is skinny - so this is a problem). But these are the worst of his problems. Many are suffering far worse from the damage of the recent hurricanes, but when I try to be sympathetic to their plights, collectively or individually, I struggle to understand their pain. I don't know what "thousands dead and injured" looks like. The death toll from the earthquake in Pakistan is astronomical, but I can't wrap my head around the numbers. I can't see their faces.
But I can see his. I understand what he is going through because I was able to hear the relief in his voice today as he was driving himself to safety. I was able to compare that with the stress in his voice a few days ago as he sat alone in his small, dark, third-story condo recalling how he had never before been afraid for his life and didn't know what he would do next. I felt deeply for my friend. It was then that it hit me. A small voice from somewhere started asking, "and what about them?" Knowing my friend was in pain, as lucky as his situation is compared with countless others, gave a face to the disaster.
It was the same with the tsunami. My mind drew a blank on "100,000 dead." But it ever so clearly saw Ellen, my friend who survived in Thailand and who carries the experience with her every day. I tried to picture a hundred thousand Ellens, and it made me sick at the loss of life.
Not that there needs to be a point to this (I think you all get it), but it put into perspective for me again how skewed my sense of neighbor is. I need to keep reminding myself a neighbor is anyone I have an opportunity to love - anyone who has need around me. For me, they just need a face. What does Jesus look like again?
The Lord is able to make me stand. For to him alone do I rise or fall. Will his hand lend me to ascension? Is the lifting up in the very act of dropping to knees as I say even now, “My King, I have failed in my service to you. Forgive a wretched and wandering servant?” Does he then say aloud as though many were listening, “He will stand. For I am able to make him stand.”? From this I again choose the yoke of my king. I know I cannot stand under another. I cannot stand with none. We never take a step in freedom. Rather we choose the yoke of servanthood or the whip of slavery. Placing his burden on my shoulder is the release of a thousand others. It is me agreeing to work out my salvation with fear and trembling under a purposeful guidance rather than get beat down in the pursuance of a fulfillment of directionless cravings. Some are able to make this decision daily. It seems I am faced with it almost hourly. This is on my mind even now. By the way, welcome to my blog.