I’m reading Philip Yancey’s book "The Jesus I never knew" . It brings up a lot of feelings of appreciation for Jesus, or should I say love for the King I follow. I am pulled into His presence and intrigued by the way He lived life on earth. My mind is going through the chapters of the gospels and also through the chapters of my own life getting more clarity of His involvement in my life and how much He loves me.
It is fascinating the way He journeyed through His last three years on earth. The way He could live His live in the knowledge of the big picture. He knew who He was ( how much I would like to know who I am), He was totally secure in His relationship with the Father and the purpose of His live. Reading the book makes me aware again that He is the person I want to follow.
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Yesterday I had a shower in the middle of the day. Just to cool down. It felt so good. As I was standing in the shower I realized that hot season is approaching. The time when everything takes extra effort. Especially mental activities. Today is 33 degrees. Next week 36 is predicted. With April being the hottest month I’m not really looking forward to the heat and sweat. (expect while being at the beach)
On the positive side. The pool will be warm enough for my taste. I like it when the water is more then 25 degrees. We are also closer to our holidays. Something I’m in desperate need of.
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Here some strange things Christians told me over the years about missions or missionaries. Some hurt, some are just funny. Other have some truth within them.
1. If you go on the mission field you will miss the coming revival in Switzerland
After being oversees for seven years, they are still waiting. Perhaps I will be back in time for the big one.
2. Missionaries steal the resources of the local church.
One of my favorites. What shall I say. Whose resources are they anyway?
3. When you will go back to Switzerland, you will be on social welfare
This one is for missionaries living on personal suppport (living by faith) "Seek first the Kingdom…consider the lilies…" There was some genuine concern behind that one. I trust for God’s provisions wherever I will be. Not always easy, but extremely good for faith building.
4. Missionaries destroy the local cultures
(unfortunately true in some cases) I think the real problem lies in exploitation of the rich and powerful over the poor. It lies in the motivation, the strategy and ethics of the missionaries going about their calling. I think globalisation, tourism and quick money are more dangerous to local cultures. Everybody rather uses the motorbike then going by foot. The accousation mostly comes from tourists/travelors to those cultures bringing their strange customs, money and ideas as examples. They also want to go to places where there are no tourist (to the "untouched" hilltribe village)
5. Missionaries are to expensive...
…let the nationals do it themselves they are cheaper. Again there is some truth behind this one. As if God has a resource problem. I never knew that money was an issue with God.
6. You are throwing away your gifts and talents
True. What if I would have stayed? I could be more efficient. Then is it really about my gifts, talents and efficiency or about serving the King? I’m in His service. If He wants to use me with my gifts or just to wash someones feet is a question of do I serve Him or myself.
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This morning I’m going to teach English. Something I did for the last five years. The places are changing. I taught at different schools, different ages. At the moment I teach at the tourist police. It is just a couple of hours a week and i do it on a voluntary basis (meaning for free).
All the children seem to learn English from an early age in Thailand. Still there are not that many people who can speak or carry a conversation in English. I met English teachers in Thai schools who themselves didn’t speak English. Often reading and writing as well as understanding simple texts are not a problem. It is the speaking part which seems to scare them. Sometimes it’s fear of "loosing face" when making a mistake, the fear of being laughed at, or the intimidation of the "farangs" (foreigners) loud voice and self confidence. I have sometimes similar problems when I speak Thai on a bad day. The tones would be wrong, people don’t understand what I’m saying and I would get insecure.
Living oversees shows me how important it is to know English. I cannot get around without. Of course even better would be to learn the language of the country (there are just so many). Specially when you stay in one country for a longer period of time. I encourage people who come here for up to a year to learn the basics of Thai language.
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On Monday I went up to the mountains again after my break. (I was in bed with severe food poisoning) I took me quite a while to get my strength back. The first time I went to the Gym, it felt like I haven’t done any sports for a decade. But now I feel well again. Monday morning I was on my way to the mountains again. I listened to a sermon I downloaded from the Internet and reflected on the last month. Our work was very stress full and difficult. Sometimes I really wonder why I’m doing this. There is no fame, no pay and no end to the work. Anyway, to be honest I like the adventure out of the normal, the challenge and the idea that I do something that counts on my ongoing journey. I had two very good days with Enoch and Mida. Both have been friends of mine for many years now and I enjoyed the meals and the talks we had. We have changed as a team, growing older, trusting each other a bit more. I say this because in a cross-cultural setting this means something. I am not their boss, telling them what ministry they should do. It is walking together, finding out what works God has prepared for us to do.
We talked about Hui Kau laam and the families struggling in poverty and social problems. We talked about the ones who are entrusting their lives to Jesus and want to get baptized. The little victories and the sad defeats. Mida told me that last week when she was in a meeting, that she felt God healing her from stomach problems while someone was preaching. Enoch told me his desire to go into Burma to support pastors. We talked deep into the night. Sharing about life and our stories with Jesus. Even through cultural and language barriers we are connected through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
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I just red a book called "The Emotionally Healthy Church" by Peter Scazzero. It is yet another book with solutions (six principles) to a healthy church written by a former (or still?) driven person, who has a "conversion" after his wife wanted to leave him. There is a lot of good stuff in the book. I personally don’t like the way it is written and how stories of church members and a lot about himself is used to make his points. It seems to me that he has still a load of programs the people are channeled through to make them healthy. I’m aware of the difficulty to judge the whole thing without knowing neither the people nor his church. The principles though are very convincing and are worth more consideration. It would be nice to see this in real-time somewhere, and of course be part of a healthy church.
Here are the six principles:
1. Look beneath the surface
…the other 90 percent of the iceberg. Be honest with yourself. Don’t cover up the emotional shortcomings.
2. Break the power of the past
…everybody is shaped and influenced by their families. Even though we are adopted in a new family we still have to deal with the baggage from our past.
3. Live in brokenness and vulnerability
…in opposite to pride and defensiveness. We need God to empower us and work from a base of dependence
4. Receive the gifts of limits
…see Jesus accepts God’s limits. It is not on us to do everything. learn to say no. No limits in church burns the leaders out. learn to set boundaries.
5. Embrace grieving and loss
…most of our sinning comes from the escape of the pain we feel. To quickly forgive or move on leaves the pain deeply hidden and not being grieved. There is a need to acknowledge that pain and the loss and work through them.
6. Make incarnation your model for loving well
…do we really love and understand the people on our way. Are we wearing their moccasins. It is all about being a good listener.
Here is a quote from the book I really liked.
"His (Jesus) relationship with his father freed him from the pressures of those around him. He was not afraid to live out his own unique life and mission, regardless of other people’s agenda for his life."
("The Emotinally Healthy church"; Peter Scazzero; p.33 italics mine)
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