Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER...


Last fall I wrote this in a post called "We Are God's Masterpiece"

"A friend once told me that we are like ants crawling across a painting by Rembrandt. We crawl across the dark brown and think all of life is dark brown. Then we hit green and think, ‘Oh, this is better. Now all is green.' But soon comes the dark blue and then a splash of yellow, a streak of red, and then another patch of brown. On we journey, from one color to another, never realizing that God is actually painting a masterpiece in our lives using all the colors of the palette. One day we will learn that every color had its place, had a reason, nothing was wasted or out of place..."

I had no idea that 2 weeks later I would I find myself nearly unconscious from shortness of breath and on my way to an Emergency room in Taipei. 3 weeks later --after conflicting medical results and language barriers, we were heading home from Taiwan...again. So began the start of one of the darkest 'brown patches' I have ever been through. I reeled for months after our return. I wrestled with sadness and a suffocating sense of failure. How could God let this happen again?

It has been 8 months since our second Missionary Journey to Taiwan ended. During this time I have experienced the love of my Abba Father in ways I never imagined. He has carried me across the browns and into the vibrant greens--reds & yellows! He has not only forced my roots deeply into His heart, but he has completely healed me!

I am overwhelmed by the grace He lavishes on us as we crawl through these dark places. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:6-7: "There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine." Genuine faith is something I never gave much thought of before. But now I am beginning to see the beauty and blessing it is to have a glimpse of it. One thing I have learned is that faith is not really faith unless it's tested. Maybe truly trusting God cannot happen unless we come to a place of utter desperation.
In His care,
Dawn

Friday, October 08, 2010

"We are God's Masterpiece..."

(Painting by Rembrandt: Crossing The Sea of Gallilee)

During this season of transition I am comforted by the truth that God is working in me, around me and through me in ways that I may not perceive until much later. The tapestry of life is always beautiful when we are in the Master's hands.

I recently read this devotional by Ray Pritchard that really touched my heart:

"A friend once told me that we are like ants crawling across a painting by Rembrandt. We crawl across the dark brown and think all of life is dark brown. Then we hit green and think, ‘”Oh, this is better. Now all is green.” But soon comes the dark blue and then a splash of yellow, a streak of red, and then another patch of brown. On we journey, from one color to another, never realizing that God is actually painting a masterpiece in our lives using all the colors of the palette. One day we will learn that every color had its place, had a reason, nothing was wasted or out of place. Just as there is a time and a season for everything, there is also a color for every stage of life’s journey. When the painting is finished, we will discover that we were part of his masterpiece from the very beginning. Time is the canvas on which God does his painting, and eternity is the perspective from which we will see the beauty of his handiwork.

History is His Story, the slow outworking of God’s plan across the years, the generations and the centuries. It is so much bigger than you and me that we can’t begin to comprehend all that his plan contains. If we focus on our current troubles, we are likely to be discouraged, disheartened, confused, angry, frustrated and depressed. We will doubt the Lord and be tempted to turn away from him. Many people have done exactly that. They have pondered their own suffering and the pain of the world around them, and that has caused them to give up their faith.

It all goes back to whether you are willing to believe what God said in Jeremiah 29:10. If you are a Jew in exile, it’s not easy to hear that you will be in Babylon for seventy years because that means you probably will die there. On the other hand, God is promising to bring his children home at last. So it is for all of us. There is no respite from the pain and suffering of this world. Think of it this way. If you were a Jew in exile, in one sense it didn’t matter whether you believed God or not. You’re still in Babylon either way. But on a daily basis, either you live with hope or you don’t. And you pass that hope along to your children and grandchildren. And that matters"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ambassadors of The Kingdom of God...


As we continue to walk forward in faith in this our '2nd missionary journey'...we have been praying and meditating on what it means to be Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God in Taiwan and anywhere else we find ourselves on this earth. A close friend recently shared this passage with us from the Message translation...we thought we would share it with you all as you also persevere in REpresenting Christ as Ambassadors of the Kingdom in your own circle of influence.

Romans 12 'The Message
' Place Your Life Before God
1-2 So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well- adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 3 I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. 4-6 In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't. 6-8 If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face. 9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. 11-13 Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. 14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. 17-19 Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it." 20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Extravagant Love of Jesus...


We heard a wonderful message on Sunday from Cindy Lee, a Taiwanese American serving at the Pearl Church in Taipei. She taught on God's extravagant love & grace from Luke 7:36-50 and how we must humble ourselves to receive it. Recognizing our need in the same way as the women that poured herself out before Jesus. She also shared about her personal experience and understanding of the extravagant love of God through a story from her childhood. I asked her if I could share a part of her message with you:

"I think there are so many lost Christians in this world because we haven’t truly received. There are so many lost Christians in this city, and many who come through this church. It seems like a contradiction to say lost Christian. Isn’t Jesus the answer? And that’s right. Theologically, it’s impossible to have a lost Christian. And yet…so many of us live like lost Christians. We live confused, like we don’t know who we are, like we don’t know what our purpose is. If that’s you, then maybe you’ve never truly received.

Allow me to give an illustration, and hopefully this will help. For those of you that grew up in the church, what is one of the first songs that you learn in Sunday school? Most likely it’s Jesus loves me. Well, I grew up going to a Taiwanese immigrant church in a suburb near Chicago, and we did sing Jesus loves me, but we had to learn it in Taiwanese. The parents thought we should learn about Jesus and learn about our culture at the same time. So instead of singing Jesus loves me this I know, we sang “Ya Sou Tia Wa, Wa Zai Ah.

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized they changed one of the words to the song. In Taiwanese, they changed the word for love.

If you looked at a Chinese hymnal, you would see the Chinese word for love, which most of you know is Ai. And there is a Taiwanese equivalent to that, just a different tone, Ai. But that’s not the word they sing. The Taiwanese dialect doesn’t have a written form, but when Taiwanese congregations looks at the Chinese hymnal, their mind instinctively replaces the word love with Tia.

Tia is most often used when talking about a parent’s love for a child. Tia is feeling plus action put together. It means, because I love you, I’ll take care of you. It means, because I love you, I’ll provide for you. What’s strange is that Tia also means hurt. So the Chinese character is teng which is the same character and same word for hurt, implying that there is also pain in this kind of love. Because I love you, I will make sacrifices for you. I know it’s confusing, but it’s the gospel in a Taiwanese word.

Here’s another example for those of you that didn’t grow up in a Taiwanese household. Think about your Taiwanese friends, or the Taiwanese people that come to this church. How do they serve you? How do they serve the church? Well, most of them are really good and taking care of people and taking care of whatever needs to get done. Whenever you have a need, they’re the first to offer help. That’s Tia. It’s like Tia is the spiritual gift of the Taiwanese people.

But doesn’t that change the song? Not only does Jesus love you, but Jesus takes care of you. And that’s exactly what so many of us have trouble receiving. Yes, you know Jesus loves you, but that love remains abstract, and you’ve never experienced the very tangible, very real, very intimate and very caring love of Jesus Christ. You don’t know Jesus in that way. You’ve never full received.

Maybe you would never dare or risk to put yourself in such a vulnerable position as this woman did, and trust that Jesus will respond. Maybe you’re like Simon, showing respect to Jesus on the outside, but skeptical of Jesus on the inside. You don’t trust Jesus enough to actually let him make changes to your life.

It’s fitting that this woman’s actions were so extravagant, because God’s love is extravagant, but it must be received..."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Father is Always Working...

This last week we had a glimpse of how God is breaking through in the lives of the Taiwanese around us. We had the honor of joining Pastor Matthew from the House of Praise on a ministry home visit Friday. The sister we visited is a gifted artist and had recently recommitted herself to the LORD. She had some artwork and things from the Buddhist temple that she wanted us to help her destroy as well as praying a blessing over her home. After helping her destroy the things used in temple worship...we prayed for healing and blessing...such peace and joy came over her. Praise Jesus our healer and redeemer! We also got to participate in a baptism service (see video) with our new friends at Taipei Pearl Church. Two people were baptized on fulong beach--what a glorious day!

video

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tri-focals? by Mike

I recently got tri-focals. I never knew there was such a thing. You may think that change comes easy to me…after all, I just packed up my family and moved to the other side of the globe. I struggle with change like everyone else. After two weeks of wanting to throw my new glasses in the garbage, I now wonder how I got by without them. Being far-sighted, there was a whole world in front of me that I was missing.

Jesus modeled this. Loving the one in front of us. I was reminded of this yesterday while curtain shopping (it’s cool—I still have my man card). Our bi-lingual friend Ellie, took Dawn & I to an older part of Taipei yesterday to pick out fabric for our curtains. That’s how they do it here…you walk through rows and rows of textile vendors until you find the fabric you like, and they make your curtains. Part of my problem about missing “the one” in front of me is I get so task oriented. I was obsessed with getting our apartment set up before we start language study. Task for the afternoon---buy curtains! God had other plans. Mr. Wang (who will be sewing and hanging our curtains), was very curious as to who we were and why we were in Taiwan. Through some interaction, we eventually found out that Mr. Wang was interested in finding out more about Jesus. He pulled out a little Gideon Bible that a missionary had given him. Some of the pages were marked and you could see that he was reading it...but he admitted to us that he was having problems understanding.

The Holy Spirit immediately reminded us of Philip’s question to the Ethiopian eunuch…
"Do you understand what you are reading?"

As a missionary, this is what you pray for…a captive audience, someone asking you about your faith, someone obviously seeking. Dawn & I shared some basic truths with him and even though we were in his place of business, he didn’t seemed concerned with the other customers. I asked him if I could pray for him and that I would pray that God would give him 'understanding' of the scriptures. “ méi wèntí” was his reply, which means “no problem”. So there in the middle of the bustling textile mall, we asked in the powerful name of Jesus, to open this man’s mind to the scriptures and for God to reveal Himself to Mr Wang.

We don't know how but we believe that God will answer that prayer. I think we are praying bolder, more confident prayers than even a week ago. It was a week ago that we found out that after years of prayers, Dawn's dad accepted Christ only days before he passed away. We continue to be amazed by our "above & beyond" Father. We are excited that Mr. Wang will be in our apartment next week measuring our windows and we will get another chance to interact with him.

I almost missed this one in front of us. I think having a vision is crucial to ministry…but I was reminded in a strong way yesterday that bringing God’s Kingdom doesn’t necessarily need a formulated plan, detailed strategy or spectacular ministry…that His Kingdom is breaking through here and now! We only need to look through the bottom half (or third) of our glasses to see it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"New WineSKINS"" posted by Dawn


I have been meditating and praying through this passage in Luke 5:37-38
"And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will gush out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins." Now, I am not trying to give a theological discourse on the point Jesus was making to those He was speaking to at the time...but I can see the principle of 'New wine & wineskins' as it pertains to my own current season of life. Jesus was stating a cultural fact that they all knew: you can't join the new to the old skin or you'll ruin both. The gas 'pressure' from the fermentation is eventually so great that the inflexible old skin ruptures, and the new wine spills out onto the ground and is wasted.

As I pray through this principle, I am beginning to see some parallels as we enter into this time of great transition. God is doing a NEW thing in us--through us and around us. It is hard to keep up with all the emotions associated with all the new. In my quiet times, the Spirit has reminded me that I MUST humbly put on the 'new wineskin' in order to yield to the intense pressure and stretching of the Father's 'new wine'.

One of the new wineskins is the letting go of and launching our daughter as she gets married in a week. For over 20 some years the old wineskin of 'protecting, nurturing,
providing for, rescuing, discipling and directing' our daughter is no longer fit to contain the new wine God is making her into. I confess that I am struggling in the letting go--it is painful--like a cutting away--for both sides--but glorious to watch the metamorphosis of her becoming the beautiful young women of God He is making her to be.

Another new skin, is the letting go of our "Western" mindset and culture in order to humbly assimilate into the Taiwanese culture. I recently received this quote from Nancy Leet who wears the hat of Language/Culture Coach for TEAM Taiwan: "Your attitude should be the same as that of the most excellent missionary...this excellent missionary knew he was completely ethnic and fully competent and a leader in his own culture, but did not consider his own ethnic values, his expertise at home, or even his own language something to cling to. On the contrary, he counted his cultural ways as mostly inappropriate in the new context, choosing to add a new cultural side to his personality and working hard to think, act and talk more and more like the people he came to serve. And having successfully acculturated himself among the people, he humbled himself before God and the people, and became a servant no matter what the cost...even unto death, but mostly unto inconvenience." (Greg Holden, "Helping Learners Develop Second Language Proficiency")

Once again I have a confession: I really wrestled to let go of the 'old skin' when we first went to Taiwan
. I know that I was leaking 'New Wine' all over the place! I know this time is different--My Heavenly Father has been making me into a "new wineskin" for this 'new wine'...it has been a painful and humbling process...but I am so thankful for it.

There is another dimension to this season, and that is the fact that the TEAM we are rejoining has also been going through this uncomfortable process of putting on a 'new skin' for the 'new wine' God is doing through the new vision He is revealing.

I found this quote in a New Test. commentary: "that the New Wine may not be as smooth to the tongue, and finely aged as old wine. It may be a bit sharp and unrefined. But it is ALIVE! You can't contain it in old structures. You must find new wineskins for it or none at all..."

"Lord, continue to prepare us as you continue to fill us with your New Wine. Help us to contain it and grow with it, rather than lose it through stubbornness and inflexibility. Help me, Lord, to recognize the powerful new ways you want to work in me that I may bring you glory. In Jesus' name. Amen"


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

''TIGHT SHOES' Update from Mike:

It doesn’t feel like three years have gone by since Dawn & I felt the call to cross-cultural missions. I can still remember the fear involved when it was time to strap on my “missionary shoes”. The only paradigm I knew was that I had to take off my size 12 “wing tips” (I never actually owned wing tips) & trade them in for a pair of size 10 ½ missionary sandals. No, the analogy I’m going to make here about tight shoes does not involve suffering for Christ. The new shoes I stepped in just seemed a little clumsy & a bit awkward. I knew the call to missions was real. God convinced me the call to Taiwan was real. But fitting into the role of what I thought a “missionary” was left me a bit frustrated and searching for answers. God, what exactly is a church planter…and how do I fit in?

The last year and a half has been amazing. The fact that I can type that last sentence after how I was feeling on our return trip from Taiwan in January, 2008 is amazing in itself. So many things that God did in our family. So many things that God has taught Dawn & I. I believe with all my heart that I am supposed to serve & love the people of Taiwan. I don’t believe I have been true to who God has called me to be and how He has gifted me.

I’m half way through a seminar in Colorado Springs called iBAM, which is short for “Business as Missions”. The apostle Paul was a tent-maker…so the concept i
s not really new…yet BAM is really not tent-making. Honestly, the dust has not yet settled on what exactly to call this “movement” of Kingdom businesses that is spreading rapidly around the world. In fact “Kingdom Business” is one term that has been suggested. There are many: Transformational Business, Missional Business, Mission through Business or Marketplace Transformation. The BAMers of today do see a name change in the near future to accurately describe what this is. Here’s a shot in one sentence: Business as Mission views business as a primary vehicle to holistically serve peoples’ needs in a way that demonstrates the reality of Gospel and the Kingdom of God.

To say I’m excited by the concept would be an understatement. To say this week has been incredibly encouraging would be another understatement. In t
he last week, I have met businessmen from Pakistan, the U.K., Thailand, Singapore, Canada, U.S., India, South Africa, Sudan, South Korea, Afghanistan, and a couple more countries I’m embarrassed to say I can’t pronounce. Creative people, created by God, who are truly walking in their anointing as they spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through business.

Why am I so encouraged? Is it because of all of the “out of the box” thinking that I’m being exposed to? Yes! Is it because I am getting a glimpse of God moving around the world in a way that I couldn’t have imagined? Yes! Is it because I get to spend 2 weeks with like minded, like hearted people? Yes! Is it because Pike’s Peak is right outside of my window? Okay, yes. But that’s not why I am most encouraged. Acts 4:13 says “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had had no special training.They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.”

I am so fired up this week because these are “ordinary Joes” just like me. Confirmation again that it is not our “adequacy” that God is looking for, it’s our obedience & commitment to knowing His heart, & then selling out for it. These men I’ve met in Colorado Springs, though not extraordinarily qualified, have clearly “been with Jesus”. They are betting the farm…no, selling the farm on the fact that Jesus is King and his introductio
n is needed throughout the nations.

I have been truly blessed this week. It’s like God has turned on a light switch inside of me…or better yet, more like a dimmer switch that He contin
ues to turn brighter & brighter. So I go back to Taiwan…still as a church planter…but in a whole different paradigm of what “church” can look like. I think we have to be careful on how we use the term “missionary”. The truth is, we are all called to be missionaries…the businessman, the church planter, the painter, & the girl behind the counter who serves your coffee.

I expect that as Dawn & I enter back into language school & start serving the people of Taiwan, He will start to put hands & feet to this vision He has seeded in us. It will be a long road, but I feel like we’re on the the right road. David, a BAMer from the U.K. who has businesses throughout Asia and funds mission’s movements around the world, gave me some great words of wisdom the other night. He advised me to “Dream big, start small, & build deep”. It’s advice that will stick with me in the years ahead. The best news: my shoes fit perfectly this week!

Friday, February 26, 2010

TAIWAN prayercast

Over the last two months Mike & I have been involved on a project with OneWay Ministries called prayercast. We gathered input from several mission agencies and churches in Taiwan to for a prayer to record for the Taiwan prayercast videocast page.

The vision of Prayercast is to be a catalyst in helping God’s people to actively intercede for the nations of the earth. The needs of the world are so great that without a powerful move of God’s Spirit, there is little hope. But with Him, all things are possible (Luke 1:37). And because He has chosen to work through the prayers of His people when it comes to the affairs of men, our obedience in intercession becomes a critical matter.

To accomplish this vision, Prayercast harnesses the fluidity of the internet with the strategic use of media, music and, of course, prayer. New Prayercast videos are regularly released, highlighting a specific world need. See prayercast below:

http://prayercast.com/taiwan