Gift-wrapped present

Fundraising Therapy

For years as a fund-raising missionary, I was taught that raising support was an integral part of my ministry, that fundraising not only made it financially possible to do the ministry I loved (a means to an end), but that it was a ministry in and of itself (its own end). It allowed me to:

  • connect with people
  • share my life and my ministry with them
  • give them an opportunity to participate materially with what God was doing, and
  • help them grow into generous stewards of their resources, regardless of whether they chose my specific ministry to support or another one that better aligned with their “Kingdom values.”

It was such a beautiful vision of support-raising, and I believed it in theory. But I had a few hang-ups that got in the way of fully embracing it.

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Green leaves

The Half-Scorched Tree

I love trees. They speak to me metaphorically, providing significant analogies and life lessons about growth and beauty and provision and purpose. I can sit for an hour pondering my life (a form of meditation) in the vicinity of trees, and I’ll almost always walk away with new insights.

I’m also drawn to Bible verses that refer to trees and plants as a symbol for a person’s healthiness and vitality, or lack thereof. Psalm 1:3 is a prime example of this. Referring to those who meditate on God’s word, it says, “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not whither. Whatever they do prospers” (New International Version, 2011).

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Hiking in mountains

Mountains of Decisions, part 1


I am not a hiker. And although I appreciate the beauty of green and flowering things from behind the glass of a window, I’m not even really that fond of being outdoors. So I was surprised to discover that the image that came to me year after year as an analogy to describe my life, was a mountain. Complete with hiking trails.

The first time this mountain/hiking imagery graced my life I was a college senior asking what I should do after graduation. More specifically, I was asking if I should intern with the campus ministry that I was part of in college. As I asked, this picture unfolded: it was me walking up a trail, starting at the base of the mountain where the incline was gradual, continuing to more steep sections, and occasionally stopping to enjoy the view and to survey how far I’d come. There was a sense of satisfaction that the hard work was well worth the vista point. And there was a deeper sense of God’s presence and his promise that he would always be with me, in the easy aspects of ministry and in the difficult ones, on the days that felt like accomplishments and the days that felt like failures, and that his hand would reach out to help me up the steeper parts of the climb.

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Compass in hand

God Told Me We’re Getting Married

I used to think that people who claimed God had spoken to them were crazy. With some people, I still do, depending on what they claim they’re hearing. But over the years I’ve rubbed shoulders with all sorts of Christians and gleaned from them what makes their faith so vibrant and relevant. Those whose faith I came to respect the most are the ones who both speak to and hear from God on a regular basis. And so, taking many of my cues from these spiritual mentors, I tried learning how to cultivate that ability to hear the voice of God.

Early on in this process I learned that extra wisdom and caution is necessary in the areas of romance, money, and power. When we want one of these things we tend to want it so badly that we can easily superimpose that desire over what God is actually saying. The desire itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a misinterpretation of God’s will regarding that desire can lead someone to do or say something really stupid. That’s why sometimes a random guy will walk up to a girl he doesn’t know claiming that God just told him that she is his future wife. I mean, some girls go for that, but most rational women will object. One of my favorite responses I’ve heard to that line is, “Well, he hasn’t mentioned you to me!”

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