31 December 2008

He said, "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God..."

Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset... (from The Times) read more

When the rain comes...

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Rain is important. Too much rain, you get a flood. Too little rain, you have a drought. Just the right amount of rain, you have a harvest.

Harvest! The sound of the word rings in my ear.

And we await a spiritual harvest. A time, not when the Spirit is poured out as rain, but the time when the seeds have germinated and born fruit. When the rains have saturated the ground with moisture and have called forth the life in the seed.

We wait, we work for harvest.

28 December 2008


By repentance "...Jesus was summoning his hearers to give up their whole way of life, their national and social agendas, and to trust him for a different agenda, a different set of goals. This of course included a change of heart, but went far beyond it."

(N.T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus, p.27)

27 December 2008

Where does all this intersect?

Well, Christmas 2008 is past. History. Over.

But I'm still thinking about it. I got a Twitter (Tweet?) from Len Sweet on Christmas, something about trying to move his kids toward a "kiva.org Christmas" and I've been thinking about that ever since. That and the question about "us being right and them being wrong." My answer to the right/wrong question was very missional - about going and serving. But how do we (you and me, and mostly me!) changr to a kiva.org way of thinking?

And add to this, I keep thinking about something I'm developing to teach regarding "scorecards" for life and ministry. Included in this scorecard are:

  • Vision
  • Values
  • Resources
  • Strengths

Vision is about what you see, where you're going. Values have to do with our orientation for decision-making and our internal integrity. And what we actually reward. Resources refer to those things we can use and utilize in life: time, money, people, technology. And of course, strengths have to do with who we are and the things we are innately good at doing.

(For some of you who don't know kiva.org is an internet micro-finance system where penny-ante investors can invest internationally in third-world projects. Kiva,org supplies small loans to worthwhile entrepreneurs. You don't get interest on your loan. you do get it paid back, but with no profit. At least in dollars and cents.)

And "kiva thinking" falls into this scorecard grid. Somewhere. Somewhere in the middle of values, vision and resources there is the Jesus-thing of giving and living. And living to give. And it's point somewhere in time and space where they intersect. Living and giving in the real world.

And that's where I want to live. And teach others to live.

Pray for me!


"Rethink your life for the Kingdom of the heavens is now open for all..."

- MAT 4:17

26 December 2008

I believe in the Israelite...

Christmas is not the fairy tale we've made it.  It's still about Jesus - the Israelite!

Two Blogger-folk tell us the Best of '08... I'm sure others will weigh in later...

So let's end the year doing Top Tens and favorites...

  • David Fitch says these are the best Missional Posts for 2008...
  • Jordon Cooper says these are his favorite blogs for 2008... and these are the best freebie downloads...

Now, I respect David Fitch and Jordon Cooper.  I've read David's (or since we're not really that close (grimace), maybe I should call him Dr. Fitch!) book, The Great Giveaway and I read his blog very often.  He has amazing insight into what's happened and happening in the church and the North American culture.  And I've been a lurker on Jordon's blog since way before we moved back to the USA.  Although he's Canadian and I can't grasp some of his thinking (sigh - who can understand Canadians?) he says amazing things and does amazing research.

And here's what's double cool: They both talk about people I actually know!  (I feel like Buddy the Elf, "Santa's coming?  Santa's coming here! I know him!  I know him!)  I've met some of these guys and have sat in the room with them and eaten at the same table and laughed at the same jokes.  And one of these guys that they say are cool says he reads my blog.

So, my conclusion is that these awesome bloggers - heavy-lifters of the blog world - like people that I like! 

Take that big old impersonal interweb!  I have friends in high places!  And Jordon says one of them might just be right!  Whoa!

Boxing Day thoughts...

Today is "Boxing Day" in a large part of the world.

But this year we are not in a "large part of the world," we are in South Georgia, so Boxing Day will not be observed. For many friends, they will have the day off but it's just because it's Friday after Christmas. And some people will have to work and some people will have to shop.

I keep thinking about 2009... It seems to be just around the corner and it seems to loom over me fraught with huge possibilities and dangers. Here's what some of it looks like:

  • Globe International - training
    • Institute for Global Ministry (IGM)
      • Pensacola - we begin on Tuesday 6 January. This is our third IGM and we expect over twenty students. IGM is for exploration of missions, cross-cultural work and God's calling for people living in the Pensacola area. It involves lots of study, inspiration and projects.
        • Unreached People Group (UPG) research paper
        • 3 Weekend seminars (elective)
        • Ethnic church apprenticeships
        • Pathways and coffee
      • Development of possible IGM's in Michigan and Pennsylvania for 2010
        • This is going to take some work and coordination! Yikes!
    • NextStep - missions training course
      • We've changed the name of Boot Camp for 2009 to NextStep to better indicate what it's for. We will maintain the same intensity and up-early get-it-done atmosphere, but it will perhaps be a little longer and include a practical service project to actually put into practice some of the things learned. We are still working on both dates and venue for NextStep 2009...
    • Globe School of Ministry (GSOM)
      • I hope to further develop GSOM into a more powerful instrument of learning for Globe missionaries, interns and candidates. Often people are weak theologically and biblically not only in missions but in most areas. GSOM continues to be used to bolster this up and give strength for service.
    • Globe EDGE
      • Right now I'm looking at some pre-publication books to use for EDGE. Some months back we studied The Shaping of Things to Come by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost and it was interesting to have people from all over the world studying the book together with interweb interaction. The goal here is to keep skills, spirituality and knowledge "sharp."
    • Launch - Globe Candidate School
      • development for 2010
    • Passport - Globe Intern Program
      • assisting the revamping and and development
  • International teaching, training and travel
    • Sochi, Russia - March 2009. I'll be doing some teaching and working to help Nick and Olga develop a house church network.
    • NextStep - June or July 2009
    • Egypt ??
    • Morocco ??
  • The Book
    • Why God Thinks He Can Use You
      • I'm determined to have this done this year. And it's closer than it has been. Sooo close - but yet so far away...
  • Eikon Associates - coaching for life's journey
    • I am in process of certification as a coach (life coach, career coach, transition coach - call it as you see it). Coaching is a highly structured, biblically grounded process aimed at providing the tools to 21st century Christian leaders for growth and focus. I will begin more to offer my services in this capacity.
    • Certification should be complete by June, but I'm beginning to coach now...
    • I hope to network with other coaches who offer expertise in many areas...

So, I'm thinking this morning about a lot of things. And writing them down - even in a blog - helps me sort them out.

Please pray for me! Yikes and double yikes!

24 December 2008

Christmas is almost here

Well here it is Christmas Eve and we're in south Georgia where it will be hot and muggy for the holidays.  Hot and muggy today and tomorrow, when it was only 42 degrees all day long on Monday.

So how will the Hatcher's celebrate this year?

Jane is 21 and Zach is 28 so there will be no surprises like in days gone by.  Instead of surprises, we seem to more have memories...

I remember when Zach was just a little guy - must have been two wonderful life years old - and we'd just launched into full-time faith ministry.  (That means we'd left our real and regular job with a real and regular paycheck...)  We were pretty tight in the pocketbook, and we were in a store and there was a bright yellow front-end loader that Zachary could ride and play on.  Both Phyllis and I looked at it and then walked away.  Then returned and looked at it again.  It was beautiful - in a way that only first-time parents can see beauty.  And basically we had no money.  So we decided that we would not buy for each other, but would buy this big old toy for Zach.  It became known as his big 'chinery.

And we can fast forward to the Christmas I went crazy and bought Zach and Jane a little beagle puppy: Cindy Lou.  She was cute that Christmas but grew up to chew up everything and could not stay in the yard.  She dug out, climbed out and wandered all over town.  We had to chase her and find her and eventually bail her out of the pound.  I went crazy at Christmas.

And then there was that one Christmas in Cyprus when once again we were between "provisions."  Zachary was in college in the USA and we were in Nicosia.  Somehow we just didn't have the money to fly him home for Christmas.  And although he was philosophical about it all, Phyllis, Jane and I were pretty bummed.  So, we made an executive faith decision: we'll use all our money to get Zach to Nicosia and give no gifts to each other.  Zach will be our gift!  So we scrimped and saved and bought a ticket.  And somehow we all gave each other scarves.  Wooly, wrap-around-your-neck-keep-you-warm scarves.  We refer to this as the Scarf Christmas.

So what will we do tonight in Valdosta, GA? 

We'll get together - the five of us (cause now we're including Jane's boyfriend Mike) - when everyone's off work.  We'll have oyster stew and potato soup, since some of us don't like oysters.  (The oyster stew is a carryover from the Traynham Christmas Eve.)  We'll listen to Christmas music and open presents.  (This year I think there are some - but not so many.)  Then we'll load up and attend Christ the King Episcopal Church for their midnight service.

Tomorrow - Christmas Day - we'll do a brunch (Zachary's cooking so it will be exotic and suave, I'm sure.) and relax.  We had Hatcher Christmas on Sunday in Donalsonville and we'll have Traynham Christmas on Saturday after Jeff and his boys arrive on Friday and Jay and his family get here on Saturday.

No big things... just family and friends.

23 December 2008

"...our dreams can disappear without leaving us depressed."

Some years ago I stumbled across Jean Vanier.

Not literally. No I didn't find him sitting on the floor in a library somewhere and literally stumble over him when I turned the corner and there he was.

I don't know how, but somehow in my quest for genuine community I came across his name. But in the pre-Amazon.com world of South Georgia, I could never find his books. He was not as popular as James Michener in the secular bookstore or Frank Peretti (he's been around a long time) in the Christian bookstore. Go figure. Why was there no following for a Catholic guy who founded communities for mentally-challenged people in South Georgia?

So the very first time I went to Kenya in 1991, I stumbled into the used bookstore in Yaya Centre hungry for something to read to divert my mind from my teaching schedule. And there on the shelf, tattered, dog-eared, underlined and ugly green was Jean Vanier's
Community and Growth. Trembling in disbelief, I took it from the paperback-packed shelf and thumbed through it. My first thought was, "who in Nairobi would read this?" So for some price in Kenya Shillings, I purchased it and took it back to Rick and Cheri's apartment, and sitting in their verdant red-soiled garden began to devour it.

And in this book was a level of spirituality and reality that I had not encountered before. At least in print. So this morning as I was perusing Deb and
Alan Hirsch's blog and I saw this quote, I thought I need to share this with a lot of folks... include them in my journey and my discovery!

“It seems to me more and more that growth in the Holy Spirit brings us from a state of dreaming-and often illusion-to the stage of realism. Each of us has our own dreams and projects, which prevent us from seeing ourselves clearly and accepting ourselves and others as we are. Dreams throw up a strong barriers. They hide the psychological, human and spiritual poverty which we find hard to bear in ourselves. And sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the dream-aspiration that motivates and inspires our lives and the dream-barriers which are flight and illusion.
The work of Jesus and his Holy Spirit is to touch us more deeply than do dreams. When we discover that God lives in us and carries us, our dreams can disappear without leaving us depressed. We are held by the gift of faith and hope, that fine thread which binds us to God.” -- John Vanier, (Community and Growth, page 74.)
When I read this I had this great urge to run and find my copy and begin reading it all over again! But I'm in Georgia for Christmas and (hopefully) its old worn and raggedy self is somewhere on my shelves in Pensacola, Florida. I'll just have to wait.

And now I discover that Jean Vanier is still alive! Still living! I assumed that he was dead years ago, but nope, he's living in a L'Arche community in France and has recently published a new book with Stanley Hauerwas entitled Living Gently in a Violent World.

Okay, so chances of me finding it in the used bookstore in Yaya Centre are slim (since I'm not there and it's brand new!), I'll just have to look in my stocking hanging by the fireplace.

15 December 2008