The development of a philosophy of missions #1, Or Becoming Missional…

It’s a long title, I know… This post, & the next few are a part of a project I’m working on to help answer “Why are you always going to Germany?” & “How come Hillside has a ‘sister church’ in Frankfurt?” It will chronicle the thought processes behind my own development & understanding of what missions is, as well as the situations, people, & happenings that have most shaped me & my outlook on missions, & what it means to me to live out faith, missionally.

At the end of my Jr. Year, in the summer before my Senior year, the youth group I was a part of was participating in a “mission team” to Mexico City… the city that was hosting the World Cup, a place that the whole world would be descending upon for a short time with the focus being on who had the best soccer team in the world. The purpose of the trip was to ‘evangelize/share the gospel message with the people coming to Mexico City.’ Our youth group was partnering with 2 or 3 other groups from different parts of California, most notably San Mateo, to put together ‘outreach teams’. My youth pastor asked me to consider going – I spoke broken Spanish, don’t you know? – & helped me raise the money to go. I was working a job in landscaping & through that & a couple of well-meaning donors, I was able to raise the $700 necessary for the airfare & all of our ‘in-country’ supplies.

I’d never been on a mission trip before, & didn’t know what to expect. We met as the Reno group a couple of times in advance of our trip to talk about what we’d be doing (though I don’t remember what we talked about,) & 1x with all the other youth groups that would be going too – to familiarize ourselves with them; to work out an organizational plan so that no one would get lost in the biggest city in the whole world at a time where more people were descending on the aforementioned biggest city than could be imagined… My group (which existed for the purposes of travel) had 5 people in it, & we named the group the “Jackson 5” – (back in the day when they were Oh So Cool, & before Michael became… Michael.) The idea of a large group travelling in a bunch of smaller groups to avoid confusion in airports, subways, train stations & buses is something that I carry with me to this day…

It seemed like such a good idea at the time. We were going to go to Mexico City, which I imagined as very impoverished & needy of the gospel of Jesus, to present the gospel through some amateur plays, songs in Spanish (that we’d just learned,) & by handing out gospel tracts in front of the main stadium where the semi-finals & finals of the Copa Mundial were to be played.

As we arrived by plane in the city, it became very clear to me that every thought of what I had imagined would be happening on this mission trip went out the window – looking as far to the left & right that I could, seeing only the vast expanse of big city, La Ciudad, Mexico City.

to be continued…


This afternoon offers the opportunity of doing laundry in preparation for “the packing” in preparation for my upcoming trip to Deutschland on Tuesday.

As usual, I’m conflicted – don’t want to take the big suitcase, & also don’t want to end up wishing that I’d brought more stuff with me. But, I usually end up taking about 2-3x as many shirts, pants, & warm stuff than I need. And every time I get back, I promise myself that I won’t make the same mistake again. Which, of course, I inevitably do.

But this time will be different. Really. It could happen.

The 1st 4 days of my trip I will be in a place called “Gau Algesheim” – about a 2 hour train trip from Frankfurt. I’m headed there right after my arrival (early Wednesday a.m.) to spend some time with my friends Alex & Linda – something that I’m greatly looking forward to, as they are always ‘highlights’ for me to spend time with – for their wonderful personalities, great senses of humor, & determination to follow Christ, all of which are an inspiration to me.

After that, I’m off to Oberwesel – don’t know anything about that, other than its by the Rhein River, which makes theBean more than a little jealous, as seeing lights on water, at night, is her favorite thing. I’ll be there through the following Wednesday, 12 November, at which time its back to Frankfurt for meetings with friends at TPLF. Our sister church has a new pastor, Eddy Dueck, & I’ll hopefully be able to spend some time with him during the last days.

I don’t QUITE have my accommodations when I’m back in Frankfurt arranged. Which means that after 12 November, I don’t know where I’ll be staying, or with whom. And its not that I’m worried about not knowing, but I think I’d probably sleep better tonight, where I’ll be sleeping then.

Ok. Time to load the washer.

Friends #6 – Or more off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts

About 3 years ago, I read one of the most influential books I’ve ever come across – called, Love Is A Choice. It made an impact because it brought to light & illustrated the human condition & how/why we connect with others… esp. in unhealthy, selfish, &/or destructive ways.

One of the things that stood out to me, (at least from the thoughts that ended up being provoked OUT of having read it,) was that in order for a friendship to be healthy & life-giving, both parties had to be ‘givers’ (my word;) nurturing, feeding, building up the relationship & the other person – a relationship where 1/both are ‘takers’ (again, my word) ends up with 1/both being taken advantage of, used & abused, all in the name of friendship.

It made me think about what I’ve tolerated (& also watched others tolerate) in the name of “keeping a friendship.” Things like:

  • 1 persons constant tardiness or not showing up at all, & when they’re questioned, saying, “Oh, I was busy,” or offering up some other excuse. Always.
  • The blowing up in rage, pouting in petulance, avoiding in silent treatment upon saying “No” to a request (demand?), & seeing the behaviors (& acceptance) change only upon giving the “right” answer, “YES!” – do what I want.
  • 1 person being the one that kept communication going – in emails, letters, phone calls, with the other always being ‘too busy’ or ‘not good at” initiating contact.
  • Having been asked, “if you see something in what I’m doing, who I’m seeing, places I’m going that seem destructive, would you please tell me?” & actually believing it & doing it, to find that what you end up with is a person that ‘dumps’ you from the friendship because of what you’ve said, finding out too late that the fine sounding words spoken in a point of seeming relational intimacy were not quite what was meant.
  • hearing from someone just when they need something, & going weeks, months, & even years when they don’t.
  • Not being able to talk about anything significant or important to being really real friends, because it just might upset the other person – meaning we wouldn’t be able to maintain the minimal & surface-ey contact we have.

    Maybe it’s just that I have a different set of definitions when it comes to what a friend is & what a friend does & doesn’t do. Maybe it’s not being willing any longer to live with the sham of “as long as you’re feeling ok & not offended today,” relationships. Maybe it’s being tired of carrying both sides of the relationship. Maybe it’s the realization that there are many, many great people that hold a high value on true friendship that makes fakin’ the funk not worth it, no matter how long standing the contact or how much water has gone under the bridge…


  • fall…

    The crispness in the air is refreshing… makes me glad to live in Reno/Sparks, where we get to have all 4 seasons… The more I travel, the more I’m thankful for the change in temperature, the occasional frosty dew on the grass, & even the need to bundle up before going out. Even the brown that is the normal Nevada landscape is something I appreciate.

    Life is short, & time goes by so quickly, hidden in the change of seasons, the rhythm of the familiar, which seemed to take forever when I was but a wee bairn, & now seems to roll as quickly as a slideshow on my IPhoto…

    The last 3 months have been a time of reconnections – I’ve gotten more contacts from people from my past through Facebook in that time period that I had heard from in the previous 20 years. Very interesting to be able to hear from people who have been significant in my life at some point, & now to hear/see what is happening in whatever phase of life that they’re in. And seeing the fruit of the choices that have been made too. Cool beans.

    It seems that the “falling back” part of Daylight Savings Time should be happening sooner than November. What the heck? We go through ALL of October with no recompense for the travesty of the Spring Forward? I’m a standard time guy. Forget Ben Franklin, forget the ‘practicality’ of the sin of packing more into the day than can fit in the 23 hours 56 minutes we’re allotted by the Most High…

    Diet Sierra Mist rocks the world. The DSM with Cranberry is on another level as well. Absolutely incredible. I shall pour me another.

    A wise man once told me…

    …nobody owes me anything.

    The cause of a lot of offense, frustration, disappointment, & unmet expectations is an underlying belief that I might not have even identified, let alone articulated… someone owes me an explanation. Some thoughtfulness. Time. Respect.

    Nobody owes me anything.

    It’s easier to say, “I don’t owe anyone anything,” but I believe that might have to do with the selfishness of the statement, which speaks to the ability to live life with a reckless abandon in regards towards the feelings & perceptions of others.

    Nobody owes me anything.

    I don’t have a claim on being treated appropriately by anyone else – & clinging to my claim, however well founded in my own mind, (& in public opinion) doesn’t change that fact. The more I cling to my ‘rights’ the more I am hamstrung by my own woundedness, & I limit where God can work in & through me…

    Nobody owes me anything.

    Philippians 2:3-11
    3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

    4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

    5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

    6 Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.

    7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[b];
    he took the humble position of a slave[c]
    and was born as a human being.
    When he appeared in human form,[d]

    8 he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

    9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,

    10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

    11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.


    …to CS Lewis, the guy in the picture, smoking his pipe. I love the way he communicates in his writings, without hesitating to move into the difficult areas of life. Pain. Failure. Temptation. Struggle. Hope. Joy.

    He has been an inspiration to me … And every journey through Narnia. The Sci-Fi Trilogy. Mere Christianity. The Problem of Pain. Surprised by Joy… Brings a bit of joy to me.

    some days…

    Seems like there is a conspiracy of some sort… a conspiracy to antagonize me until I finally snap, & really lose it. Get angry. Throw stuff. Yell. Have a fit. This isn’t a new thing. It happens all the time. A little something something pulls at me, twists me to give in to the rage, to “vent.” To allow myself the indulgence of a rant.

    Yet there’s the whisper that says no. Don’t. I don’t need to. It won’t bring the relief that it promises. The resulting frustrations & regrets far outweigh the false luxury of temporary giving away of control.

    It doesn’t really matter if it’s been “dumb people,” as I know that I am someone’s dumb person. (BTW: please don’t write me to confirm. I really, really would encourage you to KITY, which is my own acronym, just created for Keep it to Yourself…) Life is full of frustrations. Long lines. Computer updates that create snafus with the other programs on the computer. People that one has to interact with in order to transact business, eat a meal, fill a prescription, find necessary information… if I were to lose it every time I was justified in “losing it,” I think that I’d be going off pretty much all the time. And the issue would be selfishness. Self-focus. Pride. Me issues.

    And the indulgence of flesh gives place to the dark-side… provides a pivot point, a manipulation station the enemy can work from, in complete anonymity, hiding behind my well-developed sense of offense, wronged-ness, & me-ness.

    Note: please go easy on the scoey-isms that have entered the blog. If you’re reading, it’s late. I’m tired. Frustrated. Bothered at several wasted hours. At dust & dirt. Silly dogs. Eyes that itch & burn & are really red, that EVERYONE is finding it necessary to point out to me.

    what is the measure of your success? and other questions to ponder…

    Feeling a bit pensive today- & wanted to share the love.

    How does one know if what they’re doing is a success or a failure?
    What constitutes a successful life?
    Is it silly to think in terms of success & failure when it comes to evaluating a life/life decisions?
    Is it accumulation of stuff? Wealth? Friendships? Philanthropy/benevolence/humanitarianism? Education? Accomplishments?

    What standard will I be measured with? Against?


    © Roland Steven Taylor, from the Album “I Predict 1990”

    In this city I confess
    I am driven to possess
    answer no one, let them guess
    are you someone I impress?

    I am a big boss
    with a short fuse
    I have a nylon carpet and rubber shoes
    and when I shake hands
    you’ll get a big shock
    you’ll be begging for mercy when the champ is through
    you’d better believe I’ll put the clamps on you

    In this city, be assured
    some will rise above the herd
    feed the fatted, leave the rest
    this is how we won the West

    I am a safebox
    I am the inner sanctum when the door locks
    I own the passkey
    you say you can’t take it with you?
    we’ll see about that, won’t we?


    In this city I confess
    god is mammon, more is less
    off like lemmings at the gun
    I know better, still I run

    I am an old man
    and the word came
    but you can’t buy time on a good name
    now when the heirs come around like buzzards on a kill
    I see my reflection in their envious eyes
    I’d watch it all burn
    to buy another sunrise

    Some men find the fire escape
    old men learn it all too late
    push…push…push the alarm
    old MacDonald’s bought the farm

    Friday fodder (on the other side of moving…)

    I’m waiting for the DirecTV guy… impatiently…

  • What is it that makes a person hold onto their ‘stuff’ when its obvious that they’re never going to even take the stuff out of the box its in, let alone use it? I have boxes in the garage that have been in every garage I’ve had since I got married. If they’re not empty by November 30, they will be thrown away, no questions asked, no looking inside. Write it down.
  • We had a lot of people give us boxes for our move, boxes that they’d used for their own moves – on one hand, it was nice not to have to find our own boxes, but on the other hand, it was pretty confusing to try & figure out just what was in each box because there were 3 different identifiers written on them… but, as my great-grandmother would say, “Beggars can’t be choosers…”
  • We’re approximately 53% unpacked & organized. Points of great need: closets; window coverings; hangage of posters & pictures.
  • Our 1st College Group of the semester is happening Sunday, 9/16 – we’re celebrating our “comeback” with a great dinner & communion. I can’t wait.
  • It’s amazing how wonderful & smart I am when people like what I say/do; it’s equally amazing how the same people can think I’m a flipping moron when I say/do something that they don’t agree with.
  • Fantasy football is better played with friends. And a smak board.
  • My new toilet flushes very, very well. Bring it.
  • I don’t think we really understand the significance of the cross.
  • A perfect day involves a comfy chair, an endless supply of great coffee, & a book. Gives me goosebumps thinking about it.
  • Blogging is often pointless, yet it’s a beautiful thing. Some people talk to themselves; others blog. I do both. :)
  • I’m still having Germany-team withdrawals – one can really get used to the community aspect of seeing people every day for huge chunks of the day…
  • On that note, good friends are priceless. I love the people I work with, & am fortunate to have them as friends.