I arrived safely in Sarajevo yesterday afternoon and was met by a sweet welcoming party of friends. Will leave for Medias, Romania via train tomorrow morning at 7:15 am. It’ll be a two day trip, and I’ll begin teaching on Tuesday morning. My good friend, Clay will be traveling with me, which is a huge blessing.
Even though I’m back in town I’ve barely had time for more than a quick greeting with my Bosnian friends. But they all seem healthy and well. Down on the main street they have huge fruit sculptures: apples and strawberries. Clay says it’s God’s way of encouraging us that there’s fruit on the way. I like that.
In the disarray of my present circumstances, (which is to put it mildly), I’ve neglected to mention that I’ll be returning to Sarajevo this Thursday, April 24th. A good portion of the Summer will be taken up by traveling and teaching in Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Hungary, and Bulgaria. And the in-between time will be spent in Sarajevo following up on ministry and relationships in the city and trying to hear a clear word from God about whether or not I should re-establish myself long-term in Bosnia.
Thanks to all of you who pray for me. The next month looks especially exhausting with all the travel, and especially now that I have no place of my own in Sarajevo. Please pray for the students to discover their “Kingdom eyes”, and for me to have the stamina I need as I travel.
Spending a week at home, I’m learning a few things about the hidden aspects of this battlefield we find ourselves in. For as far back as I can remember my tired little hometown in Western Maryland has been a quaint community where neighbors cared for each other and local excitement was mostly confined to an occasional house fire or George’s Creek overflowing its rocky banks. Overall it’s a pretty safe place to raise a family.
But Alleghany county is also a region of quiet hopelessness. Few people in these parts embrace change, dream big, or think creatively. Welfare rolls are high, industry is sluggish, and properties sink into shabby disrepair.
I believe it has to do with hidden forces at work opposing the Kingdom at every turn. “…though we’re human, we don’t wage war with human plans and methods. We use God’s mighty weapons, not mere human weapons to break down the Devil’s strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:3-4) Evidently in a Biblical world there are spiritual forces of passivity, hopelessness, and poverty overshadowing this community.
God’s Kingdom is spiritual / natural, and by far the easier part to understand is the natural: “Feed the hungry, stand up for justice, and love your neighbor in practical ways.” But the hidden part of the battle consists in dark, spiritual strongholds that incessantly whisper, “The hungry need to look out after themselves, standing up for justice will just get you knocked down, and those neighbors are so cantankerous that no one could love them!”
Kingdom people have got to learn to see the whole picture, to embrace both the practical as well as the spiritual. Hard work, wisdom, and even money have limits that only prayer can break. So here at home, as in every place I go, I’m asking for eyes to see what’s really happening behind the scenes.
Something about the idea of “living the Christian life” puts me off. Conjuring up visions of checklists and performance charts, it leaves me thinking “Oh dear. I don’t know if I can pull that off.”
But enjoying a relationship with Jesus is another thing altogether, kinda like the difference between “being a good husband” and “being in love with your wife.” One follows the other, but to frame the thing in terms of “being a good husband” seems to miss the point altogether.
I’ve never been particularly successful at “living the Christian life.” It wears me out and leaves me choking for air. But walking with Jesus has proven to be a constant adventure of discovery and shared joys, bumps, foibles, lessons and laughter. And I don’t remember Him ever sitting me down for a good chat about “living the Christian life.”
For those who have been wondering, the outreach to DC was powerful and intense. We partnered with Justice House of Prayer and YWAM DC, interceding in various locations over such issues as justice, compassion, the sanctity of life, government, and the strongholds at work within our nations capitol. It was a rare treat to partner with young people who are committed to praying until the mountains of injustice are moved.
Midnight prayer watch at the Supreme Court.
Tomorrow after church a group of five of us are heading up the road to DC for a four day prayer outreach. The guys, (high school students, Zak, Josh, and Kyle), along with Avie and I have been preparing for the past two months for this mission. We’ve been asking the Lord about scriptures and prayer targets, and our intention is to pray at the Capital, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, the Holocaust Museum, and National Cathedral. It’s all very exciting. I’m stoked about sharing this experience with these young spiritual warriors. Stay tuned!
With common names like James, John, and Joshua, people in Bible times were often distinguished by their Father, their passion, or a prominent character trait.
- Joshua, the “Son of Nun”
- Barnabas, the “Son of Encouragement.” (Imagine what a great friend this guy would be!)
- James and John, the “Sons of Thunder” (Drama, anyone?)
- Judas, the “Son of Perdition.” (Damnation)
- Jesus, the Son of God. (A definite conversation starter in first century Jerusalem.)
Then there were the “Sons of the Kingdom,” (Matthew 13:38). Can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone referred to in such terms. But I think I’d like that. Maybe when people thought of us, they’d remember the kingdom, and think, “Ah yes… the kingdom! What a sublime and glorious idea, and what a worthy and beautiful King.”
Been thinking about Truth for the past several weeks. For most of my life I’ve viewed Truth as something found in a series of propositions: God is omnipotent, omniscient, almighty, merciful, etc. Sometimes we build our fellowship around systems, concepts and ideas like “Baptist, Pentecostal, Evangelical”, etc., and we end the day separating into doctrinal puddles like oil in water.
But the Truth is a person (John 14:6), and it seems likely we’ll best discover Him in relationships. That’s gotta be the reason why I get such a kick out of talking with my buddies at Aroma Underground about the mysteries of the Godhead. The very act of sitting face-to-face in friendship reveals – in a small way – the relational nature of God.
Of the commandments, God instructed Israel to “…talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road…” (Deut 11:19) “Wherever two or three of you are gathered in my name, there am I in your midst.” (Matt. 18:20) Don’t you see it? A loving trinity of friendship is a thousand times better picture of Father, Son, and Spirit than pages and pages of theology. If only we could catch hold of the notion that fellowship ought to be built around Jesus Himself rather than statements about a him, perhaps the world would begin to see the True Christ.