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Generous Giving

II Corinthians 8

As missionaries we live on the receiving side of generous giving.  We have individuals and churches who have supported us regularly for 30 years.  It's good for us as missionaries to stop and reflect on how much love, prayers, and sacrifice have gone into contributions to our support.

We also have chances to give generously, especially since we live in the second poorest country in the world according to the UN's Human Development Index.  Some times the opportunities for giving are so numerous and so real that I actually develop feelings of resentment towards needing to give yet again (just being honest!).  I guess it's called "donor fatigue".  Probably I experience donor fatigue when I'm giving out of feelings of guilt rather than out of true generosity, out of a heart responding to God's grace.

The story that Paul relates here in II Corinthians 8 isn't so much about generosity as it is about what God is doing in the life of the church …
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Healthy Emotions: Joy AND Sorrow

Sometimes our ministry can be discouraging.  It is easy to be weighed down by the hard things, to think that I've made a mess of everything, and to carry the concern about people who aren't living the Christian life to the fullest.  And then somebody says something about how you've made a difference and it is really encouraging!  (This has happened to me recently!)

I've already shared how our church in Niger went through some tough times.  Yet it led to godly repentance for many, most notably those in our Bible study group.  As we were preparing to leave Niger, we shared with the elders and one of the lay leaders who had done a lot of teaching during this time, how God had worked in the lives of these students. We didn't give names or share details, but just told them how God was at work. This was really an encouragement to them to see how God had been at work in spite of the stressful and difficult time they'd been through.

Paul had been careful to not exploit, …

The Christian Life Is a Paradox

II Corinthians 6

Paul continues to defend himself to the Corinthians in this chapter.  He says he has loved them and all he wants is for them to love him back.  You can't get more vulnerable than that!  You can sense Paul's tender heart towards them and how much he wants to be understood.  Paul shows how much he loves them by a series of paradoxes.

But first, what is a paradox?  It is two statements that seem contradictory, but yet are somehow true.  It's used often in literature to get a point across.  For example, in George Orwell's Animal Farm, he says, "All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others."  

Jesus' life itself was a paradox.  He was the King of kings, born in a stable in extreme poverty.  He died the most abhorrent and debasing of deaths in order to conquer death.  He served others even though He had created them and was their Lord.  The term "servant leader", which Jesus exemplified, is a paradox.

Paul la…

September Reading List

I know, I know, we're half way through October and I'm just now posting my September reading list.  I spent most of September working on our audio-visual presentation, and kind of forgot to blog.

My first book was Chasing the Sun by Tracie Peterson.  This is definitely a light read which makes perfect bedtime reading.  Many of the situations in the book seem implausible, the heroine seems a bit stupid and naive at times, but I think the author also does a good job of portraying Texas in its early days of statehood.  You can't go wrong if you want a clean book, historical fiction, and light reading.

My second book was The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji. Saira is an American of Indo-Pakistani descent. This story is one of a third-culture kid, living between two cultures and the tensions that can cause. It is also a story of family secrets many of which come to light while Saira is growing up. I thought this was a good book. I appreciated that even though some of the fa…

What's My Motivation

II Corinthians 5

A lot of times I do things without really thinking about what motivation behind it is.  I need to more often ask myself questions like "Why am I doing this?", "Who am I doing this for?", "What drives me?",  "Do I like what I'm doing?", "Am I trying to please somebody and if so why?"

Paul has been defending his ministry to the Corinthians and now he tells them why  he does what he does.  It is the Messiah's love, he says, that makes him press on.  It literally compels him; it pushes him forward; it drives him.  We often thinking of being compelled to do something as being forced to do something we don't really want to do.  But for Paul it's not negative at all.  It's more the idea of an engine in a car that moves it forward.  Christ's love is within him, it's full of energy, and it's moving him forward to share the gospel.

I think we can sum up Paul's reasons  that he must share the gosp…

Fragile Jars of Clay

II Corinthians 4

There is so much in this chapter!  Wow, I hardly know where to begin, so the easiest thing is to look at it in three sections and I promise I will only touch on the highlights.

Power cuts are common and frequent in Niger.  Sometimes the power will be off for a few minutes and we just sigh and put up with it.  Sometimes it's off for hours and that can be frustrating since we don't have a generator.  It inevitably happens when the major item you need to cross off your to-do list involves the use of electricity!  Power cuts that last into the night are especially frustrating because that means no fan or air conditioner when the bedroom is 90 degrees. 

Paul continues the defense of his ministry by contrasting darkness and light.  I can imagine that as Paul wrote this he is thinking back to his conversion experience when he was blinded by the Light of Heaven.  Paul is also saying that in his ministry he has never had a "power cut" in which the forces of…


II Corinthians 3:7-18

One thing I love about God's Word is the richness and depth of it.  Every time I read it, I glean new things from it.  It's impossible for me to plumb its depths in my lifetime!  At the same time, there are passages that are like an old friend, that I return to over and over again for comfort or encouragement.

This passage today is one that I think that there is so much depth to it, I'm not sure if I'll ever fully understand it.

The word "glory" or "glorious" appears 12 times in these 12 verses, so something tells me this word is pretty important.  But how in the world do you define glory or glorious?  To me it's a pretty difficult term to define or wrap my head around.  The dictionary tells me that it is very great honor, distinction, or praise; a source of honor, praise, admiration; adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving; resplendent beauty or magnificence; a state of great splendor, magnificence or prosperity; the splend…