Monday, October 16, 2006

Mission Network News

Wycliffe regularly shares ministry updates with our friends at Mission Network News (MNN). Once in a while, I do the interview. Because these interviews (or snippets from them) air on Moody (and other Christian) radio stations across the US, sometimes you (or others who know me) hear me. I've never heard myself except via the MP3 format...that would be strange to be driving down the road and hear my own voice on the radio. Hmmm.

[If you want to read or listen to these news stories, click on the title of this entry and you'll be whisked away to the MNN website. I've unashamedly pointed you to Wycliffe's page on their site -- but you can navigate around from there to see other stories from other organizations.]

Friday, September 29, 2006

...for free (continued)

Neither the hair shirt or the soft birth will do. The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

- Frederick Buechner

Me? I love to facilitate the "ah hah" moment. It's a huge part of why I loved teaching high school and why I've loved being a part of the communications team for Wycliffe USA. I've loved leading short-term missions trips, in part, because of this almost certain thing too.

I've found that whenever I'm obedient to God's call on my life -- whether it has been a call for a long or short season -- the "ah hah" seems to be involved. Often to my initial surprise. Often creating a personal ah hah or two along the way. And there, walking in obedience, I do find this meeting of my deep gladness and the world's hunger. Somehow, God orchestrates the universe so that each on of us is created for and called to a something that, when we follow, is fulfilling and is also true service. Maybe this is what a "spiritual act of worship" is all about in Romans 12.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

What would you do for free?

Neither the hair shirt or the soft birth will do. The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

- Frederick Buechner

A few years ago I had the opportunity of co-teaching a customized version of THE NETWORK course (developed for Willow Creek) -helping people in the church identify their unique selves and then connect that design with the needs in the church and community and world for service. While the ideas we explored were all new to some, most people didn't have big struggles figuring out personality identifiers or understanding spiritual gifts.

The challenge came when we started talking about passion. "What are you passionate about?" seemed to derail most of us. For some, it was a reality that we'd grown up in a religious culture that seemed to say that our passions should all be extinguished for the greater good of holiness and obedience. Thinking that the there might be a place for extraordinarily strong feelings about anything was rather new.

For others, this part of the discussion seemed out of place. While the other discussions were about how God created us (personality) and gifted us (spiritually) this was about something else. We'd walk people through discussions and quizes - "What would you like to do with the rest of your life if you knew you didn't have to worry about earning money to meet your needs or the needs of those who depend on you?"

We talked about the movie Chariots of Fire and the scene when Eric Liddel is explaining to his sister that he knows he's called to serve in China, but he also knows something else that he can't ignore: "...when I run, I feel God's pleasure."

(OK. That's the end of PART ONE of this rambling. I'll post this now and then come back and add to it later. I'll eventually get to the part where I explain the image I shared above. It's from Wycliffe new and soon to go live website.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fantasy Football 2006

This is my fourth season as a fantasy football team owner. My team is named the Hubbard Squash. Yes, I named my football team after a vegetable.

I lost game one by a rather significant margin - though my score wasn't horrid. The team I played against had a great game.

In week two, my opponent and I had a tied score. Because my benched players had more points than his, I received the "win."

I've been trying to figure out why I enjoy doing this. I'm only a lukewarm football fan. Maybe I always wanted to be a fan and this is a way to pretend.

Is there therapy for this?

Monday, September 18, 2006

I love them. I always have.

I love shells.
Shells and rocks.
Shells and rocks and flowers.

Shells and rocks and flowers and snowflakes and lakes and pine trees and song birds and rushing rivers and...

Well, I like all that stuff, but most of it I really can't put into my pocket and bring home to sit on a shelf or in a jar to remind me of things I love and the God who made them and who I love even more. But shells and rocks, yes. If you visit my house you'll see for yourself.

It's not a recent involvment. I've been picking up rocks and putting them in my pockets since the first time I discoverd pockets. My test of whether clothes were good or not was usually two-fold: was the fabric smooth or soft against my skin and were there pockets?

It has been, however, within the past few years - maybe since I turned 40 and I quit trying so hard - that I've not apologized for this non-scientific attraction to these things.

So really...when my birthday comes and you're feeling some sort of urge to send a or shells will do. You won't be the first friend to give me those things as a gift and, I hope, you won't be the last.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Long Walk Home

I've heard a few stories about long walks lately. They've been the kinds of stories that make me proud to be part of a long line of walkers.

Then I remembered this movie. The Long Walk Home. I used to show it to my American Literature students back in the day when I was a teacher in Indianapolis. In my humble opinion, every 16- and 17-year-old should be invited to have a conversation that this movie easily starts.

We'd watch the movie after we'd read Alan Patton's Cry, the Beloved Country. If I could have figured out how to cram it in without neglecting others important discussions of life and literature, I would have added Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird to the mix as well.

At the age of 17 I would not have considered myself racist. Does anyone? I suppose there are some who do so with pride. And truth be told, I was probably more ignorant than anything.

Today, more than 25 years later, I have a long ways to go before I'll say that I see people the way God sees them -- but He has, by his grace, walked me many miles in that direction. I'm thinking about these things more and more because of a new opportunity I have to participate in moving Wycliffe USA toward greater diversity. Ethnic. Gender. Age.

This new thing in my life is driving me to introspection and contemplation. I will likely be asking people to change their actions and attitudes and assumptions around this issue - that means I have to be willing to do the same. Lord, let it be so.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Sometimes I find myself saying that it's hard to know what God wants us to do. You've said it, too, at times when you are wanting to follow Him, but his shadow ahead on the road is so obscured by fog and darkness you can't even make out the shape of Him.

Then there are moments of uncomparable clarity. I find those often are woven into experiences of reading God's Word. He is at once mysterious and revealed. By the Holy Spirit living within us, we can understand.

Personally I'm grateful for men like Eugene Peterson who are gifted intellectually and wired poetically and submitted spiritually to Christ - and who paraphrase the Word in ways that wake me up. Like this passage from Micah:

This is pretty clear to me. And such a great reminder of perspective. Joel Hunter (my pastor at Northland Community Church) often reminds us that we take God very seriously, but not ourselves. We sometimes do silly things as part of our time together on the weekend to help us remember something we've been taught from the Word or to shake us out of our ruts. I know I need that. I need to remember to not take myself too seriously.

Does that surprise you?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

We just needed ONE good photo...

Well, that's easier said than done unless a person is particularly photogenic or rather likes to have a camera pointed their way. Me...I find myself thinking so hard about whether my left eye is squintty like it gets when I'm more tired than usual or feeling stressed, that I get stressed and squint. I wonder if the person taking the picture is thinking about whether something is hanging out of my nose or not and trying to comfort myself with the reality that PhotoShop can fix that...usually. Then, if all else fails, I put on a costume (even if only in my own imagination) and become someone else getting their photo taken who likes it a lot more than I do. That, I've found, can be dangerous.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Take My Hand and Walk

A few months ago I prepared to share a bit of my story with my colleagues and chose to do it with music. I looked over the decade past and chose a dozen songs that illustrated some highlights along the way.

One of those was a song by The Kry that I heard for the first time during my last year teaching high school in Indianapolis. It was the same year that Mom went into the hospital with congestive heart failure on a Sunday and had a stroke there before the end of the week. The stroke left her paralyzed on the left side of her body. Mom's need for care (full-time from Dad and part-time from me) and my teaching schedule made for a rather exhausting remainder of that year.

I had no idea at the time that I'd be walking away from my teaching job at the end of that year. Despite all the complications of life, I was having my best teaching year ever. When it became clear that God was opening a door of opportunity for me on the staff of my church...when I had to announce my plans of this new thing to faculty and students I loved dearly...when it all looked way too complicated or difficult, this was the song that reminded me of the ONE who was leading me along this unfamiliar and sometimes difficult path.

A guy named Billy Crocket who sang (among other things) the blues declared in one of his songs that when you get to the deepest, lowest, bottom-of-life places, you find Jesus is there. I'm so grateful for that.

Take My Hand and Walk
The Kry

I know there are times
your dreams turn to dust.
You wonder as you cry
why it has to hurt so much.
Give me all your sadness -
Someday you will know the reason why.
With a child-like heart,
simply put your hope in Me.

Take my hand and walk where I lead;
Keep your eyes on Me alone.
Don't you say "Why were the old days better?"
just because you're scared of the unknown.
Take My hand and walk.

Don't live in the past,
cause yesterday's gone.
Wishing memories would last;
you're afraid to carry on.
You don't know what's comin'
but you know the One who holds tomorrow.
I will be your guide,
take you through the night,
if you keep your eyes on Me.

Take my hand and walk where I lead;
Keep your eyes on Me alone.
Don't you say "Why were the old days better?"
just because you're scared of the unknown.
Take My hand and walk where I lead.
You will never be alone.
Faith is to be sure of what you hope for
and the evidence of things unseen,
so take my hand and walk.

Just like a child
holdings daddy's hand,
don't let go of mine.
You know you can't stand
on your own.

Friday, September 01, 2006

So, is this what it means to be GLOBALLY MINDED?

I can't help but wonder, too, if this is a happy cow from California...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Biblically Measured

“The purpose of knowing Scripture is not to help us get a 100 score on the heavenly entrance exam. It is to help us become equipped for good works.”
John Ortberg in The Life You’ve Always Wanted

For the Eskimos of northern Alaska, having good trails and following them is essential to survival. The vast land-–many areas of it without any natural landmarks–proves difficult to navigate. In a snowstorm, even people familiar with a trail could get lost and freeze to death. So, trails are marked by tripods-–each with at least one piece of reflective tape.

The language spoken in this area has a word that means, “to follow” or “to obey.” It’s the word used to describe people following the trail marker –they obey them in order to arrive safely where they want to go. When the trail beneath their feet is impossible to see, thy can always trust and follow the markers.

When Bible translators working in this language couldn’t find a word for “doing” that matched the meaning of “doing God’s will” they turned to this word that means follow/obey. John 6:38 in their heart language says “I have come down from heaven not to follow My own will, but to obey the will of Him who sent Me.” This makes it clear that following God’s trail is what the Christian life is all about. Where are these trail-markers found? In God’s Word. It is essential to survival.

1 Timothy 3: 14-17
“…so you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God.”

2 Timothy 3:14-17
“…(scripture) straightens us out and teaches us to do what’s right.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

He turns my mourning into dancing...

“We are above all things loved—that is the good news of the gospel…To come together as people who believe that just maybe this gospel is actually true should come together like a people who have just won the Irish sweepstakes.”
Frederick Buechner in The Longing for Home: Recollections and Reflections

Awkward and clumsy, our feet are too big for our legs and words mumble-flop out of our mouths as if our tongues have been anesthetized. While the “popular” kids are dancing, we fully expect to be left sitting on cold folding chairs. But this time it’s different. The Lord of the Dance has invited us to an eternal celebration in His honor. And he didn’t ask us to come and sit on the sidelines – He called us to be dancin’ fools at His party.

We are a people who admittedly and rightly deserve rejection – but instead, we are loved extraordinarily and eternally. The psalmist declares that this love is better than life itself. As we grow to know this love, we long for time with the Lover of our souls whose song of grace and truth makes all the earth sway in worship. We jump. We sing really loudly. We raise our hands. We lie awake at night thinking about all the ways He amazes us. Finding ourselves deeply satisfied by His love, we sing songs of celebration.

Johan Sebastian Bach was once asked how he could play so beautifully. He replied that he didn’t play the music; it played him. In the same way, the follower of Christ–the beloved and forgiven child of God–lives a life of worship moved by the Spirit of God Himself living within. It is the Spirit that teaches us to dance despite our big feet and clumsy nature. As we forget ourselves and see Him more clearly, this jubilant expression is less and less an event and more a way of life.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Here is one story I heard recently: The "G" translation team in (a country in Africa I'll not name) was checking 1 Thessalonians when one of the mother tongue checkers exclaimed, “I go to church every Sunday and listen to the Word of God being read, but I don’t understand it nearly as well as I did just now when we read from this "G" translated Scripture. This is wonderful!”

I frequently hear stories of an individual who loves Jesus and has been serving Him for many years. Then the day comes when they read or hear God’s Word in their mother tongue for the first time. Consistently, their response is extraordinary, even though often simple.

One woman from Asia described it by saying that reading the Word in the national language is like eating a banana with the peel on, while reading it in the mother tongue is like eating a peeled banana -- sweet and good.


When I was a kid I believed that God liked me especially well. It often snowed on my birthday (early in November) I had an uncle named Elmer who would play secret agent with me whenever I would ask. Need more evidence? My mom & dad loved to have company over for Sunday dinner – especially people who would laugh a lot and tell great stories (college students from local schools, missionaries home on furlough, and their own friends from seminary days). And what about this: I never had a shortage of Crayola crayons or No.2 pencils or college lined notebook paper. And in our house, when life gave us lemons, we scooped ice cream and got out the Hershey’s syrup.

My view of God has changed – as has my view of myself. I find it more difficult to believe that God loves me as much as He does. His extraordinary and extravagant love overwhelms my imagination, even on my best days. I also now know that His love for me is no more and no less than His love for any other person He created.

"For God loved the world so much, he gave is one and only Son..."

Monday, August 28, 2006


In Dr. Lamin Senneh'’s book, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel beyond the West, the author makes a pretty clear case for the foundational importance of Bible translation.

Senneh, a native of Gambia and professor at Yale Divinity School, answers the question of why Christianity has flooded Africa and Asia. He suggests that mother tongues—native languages as a means of translating the Gospel—were the catalyst for such change. The importance of mother tongue translation is found in the fact that the "New Testament Gospels are a translated version of the message of Jesus, and that means Christianity is a translated religion without a revealed language." Senneh builds on this premise, showing translation as a benchmark of the Christian Church.

He further involves the reader in discussion on the importance of mother tongue translation of the Bible, citing interesting facts such as the Bible adopted into its canon the indigenous names for God. Interesting argument. I'd never thought of it myself, that's for sure.

Rather than having a faith dictated to them, anyone (but especially the minority language speaker whose language, along with the rest of his culture, has been used to "prove" his low status) with translated scripture has a sense of pride—a sentiment born from the notion that God cares about them so much, he can speak to them in their own language.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Remember Bob Dylan’s declaration that you’ve “Gotta Serve Somebody?” Long before that, Jesus said “No one can serve two masters. Either he will love the one and hate the other or be devote to one and despise the other.”

We serve what we love, and that service IS worship. Genuine service points others to the one being served and away from the one serving. (I’ve been watching old British mysteries and learning a lot about servants.)

If you know me well, you know that I really like to THINK about stuff like this. I’m committed, though, to do more than think. I want my living and working to BE WORSHIP – to point others to God and His glory.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Costa Rica

1. Me and the Ox cart guy at a "tourist" stop on the way out of San Jose to the volcano. I paid him a buck so I could get my picture taken with him and his ox and his cart. He even let me wear his hat.

2. Susan, Dawn and me at a volcanic crater lake.

3. Justin looking down into the steaming volcano from a look-out platform.

4. A flower.

5. Looking down in the steaming volcano. It was fascinating to watch.

6. Bud by big leafed plants.

7. Typical Costa Rican mean at a place where tourist eat typical local food.

8. Joanne by the flowers at the coffee plantation. She's an ethnomusichologist.

9. Bud and me and people we don't know climbing the trail to the volcano's crater. The climb would have been mild except we were at 9000 ft.

10. Is this flora or fauna?

11. Before our ONE day of acting like tourists, we'd spent a few days meeting and planning and reporting with each other in English and Spanish. This presentation about the ministry of Tres by Olivia was really cool. It is so good to see how God is working in Central and South America, raising up missions leadership! This conference focused on ways for our organizations to work together in communicating opportunities for people to be involved in the global Bible translation movements.

12. A flower.

13. Meat and other things in the back of a truck on the way to market on Saturday morning.

14. Coffee plantation. Oh, Costa Rican coffee is...yummmmm.

15. San Jose.

16. Bud.