Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Short Term Missions

I’m a fan. What can I say?
“How about WHAT you’re a fan of,” a random surfer could ask.
Well, random surfer, let me tell you what I like.

I like it when people take a period in their life and dedicate it to the Lord.

It is no secret that I support mission work. Today is Mission Monday if you needed any other hint. I’ve blogged frequently about Youth With A Mission (YWAM), a non-denominational mission organization that I did two training programs with in the 90’s. (Yeah, way back then.)

When I was 18 I attended their Discipleship Training School (DTS) in Lakeside, MT. Even though they have these programs all over, the rustic mountain location was a great place to get away from distractions and spend time with God. We spent three months learning about God, His character and ways, His word, prayer, evangelism, and missions. This time changed my life, from letting me see the depth of the Father’s love for me to His heart for the whole world to come to know Him.

Our school then did a two month outreach in Asia, with my team going to Thailand and the other to Taiwan. Now we put our newfound knowledge and experience to test in the real world. We went to parks and prisons to share about His freedom. We did acts of service and prayed for a demon-possessed man chained to a bare-bones hut in a remote village. We tried to love as best we could. We even played Christian music in a Thai disco on New Year’s Eve

This changed my life forever in so many ways. I not only knew more about Jesus, I had experienced so much of Him. I got away from the small town in Idaho and saw the big, bad world. I learned that we are incredibly blessed in the West, and that there are tremendous needs around the world. Even though I have not been called (so far) to work overseas, my heart has been to shine a light on these needs to people here at home since going.

But this is not the biggest way that my life was changed by a short term mission trip.

My older sister, 15 years older, was often like a second mom to me. She got active in Campus Crusade for Christ while in college. She served a couple of summer outreaches with them, and became dedicated in her walk. At the time our family was not going to church back home. When my sister moved back for a while, she started taking me to the local Southern Baptist church where I got saved and ended up becoming a true disciple in my high school years.
If it weren’t for her influence, and the influence of her short term trip, I may not be standing here today. (And I’m literally standing – I have this cool desk that elevates and…never mind)
This is why I’m an advocate for people to do some kind of trip or service to the Lord where they get away for even just a few months and dedicate it to Him. The rewards are more than you can imagine – IF you let it transform you, and you stay with the Lord.
It isn’t a panacea to all problems. I have had friends who have done these trips and have not continued leaning on God afterwards, and they have had trouble in life. I’ve had my share of trials too, but by trying to stay close to Him, I have by His grace weathered every one so far.
YWAM is awesome, but it is not necessarily for everyone. There are many ways Christians could partake in the type of experience I am talking about today. I encourage anyone reading this to consider taking a similar opportunity if possible.
It may just change someone’s life. Not just your own.

Invitation

You’ll never believe the invitation I received this weekend.

A man in a black suit, wearing an earpiece and sunglasses, came to the front door. He handed me an official-looking envelope with a presidential seal on it. (He then proceeded to search my property for possible evil-doers, which was creeping me out, but that’s another story.)
Opening the seal, I pulled out an embossed invitation, words jumping off the page in a bright red:
Mr. Joyner,

You have been chosen, by the President of the United States, to join him in his work to help the country move forward. You do not need to apply or get approval or clearance. All the work has been done for you. The POTUS would like you to be his ambassador. You will speak in his name, and you will have all the rights and privileges that he enjoys. This is more than a government job. You will not need to face scrutiny or Congressional approval. You have, in a sense, been adopted into his family. It is an executive order, and nothing can change that. You need only to accept what is being offered to you.



Sincerely,


The President

Wouldn’t that be something? Of course, nothing of the sort happened. I didn’t have a Secret Service agent on my steps or checking through my shrubbery. I didn’t get a White House invite.

I’ve received something better though.

Instead of a special message from Washington D.C., I have an invitation all the way from Israel, the Mediterranean, and Egypt. It has been waiting for me for around 2000 years.

The Lord of heaven and earth has asked me to be His child. I didn’t do anything to earn it. I couldn’t do anything to earn it. But He has adopted me as His son, and wherever I go, I am His ambassador. I speak in His name and try to work for the betterment of His Kingdom. I don’t always do my best, but I am working always toward the goal of pleasing my Father. The little story above is a weak analogy to what it is like to have this gift of adoption into His family.
If we were asked to serve our country, most of us would be honored, even if we didn’t always agree with the current administration. How then, should we consider this invitation we have from the God of the Bible?
What would you do with a White House invitation? How do you think it compares to what I am claiming the Bible offers?
(This idea was blatantly stolen from my good friend Kerry Neve, who said I could)

Invitation

You’ll never believe the invitation I received this weekend.

A man in a black suit, wearing an earpiece and sunglasses, came to the front door. He handed me an official-looking envelope with a presidential seal on it. (He then proceeded to search my property for possible evil-doers, which was creeping me out, but that’s another story.)
Opening the seal, I pulled out an embossed invitation, words jumping off the page in a bright red:
Mr. Joyner,

You have been chosen, by the President of the United States, to join him in his work to help the country move forward. You do not need to apply or get approval or clearance. All the work has been done for you. The POTUS would like you to be his ambassador. You will speak in his name, and you will have all the rights and privileges that he enjoys. This is more than a government job. You will not need to face scrutiny or Congressional approval. You have, in a sense, been adopted into his family. It is an executive order, and nothing can change that. You need only to accept what is being offered to you.



Sincerely,


The President

Wouldn’t that be something? Of course, nothing of the sort happened. I didn’t have a Secret Service agent on my steps or checking through my shrubbery. I didn’t get a White House invite.

I’ve received something better though.

Instead of a special message from Washington D.C., I have an invitation all the way from Israel, the Mediterranean, and Egypt. It has been waiting for me for around 2000 years.

The Lord of heaven and earth has asked me to be His child. I didn’t do anything to earn it. I couldn’t do anything to earn it. But He has adopted me as His son, and wherever I go, I am His ambassador. I speak in His name and try to work for the betterment of His Kingdom. I don’t always do my best, but I am working always toward the goal of pleasing my Father. The little story above is a weak analogy to what it is like to have this gift of adoption into His family.
If we were asked to serve our country, most of us would be honored, even if we didn’t always agree with the current administration. How then, should we consider this invitation we have from the God of the Bible?
What would you do with a White House invitation? How do you think it compares to what I am claiming the Bible offers?
(This idea was blatantly stolen from my good friend Kerry Neve, who said I could)

My Treasure

I came across this while cleaning out some files. I thought I’d share it, rather than have it sit around. I wrote it in 1995 while I was in the School of Biblical Studies with Youth With a Mission in Canberra, Australia.

Lord, where is my treasure? It is not where it should be. I had it all in hand, so that You would not have to worry about me.

I considered, “What will be the best? I do want to take care.” Perhaps it would be wise to spread my treasure around. “Diversify,” the money-man says. And if some disappears, I will have the rest to come back to, in my need of the days.

So I proceeded with my plan. I looked about, and I saw people cross my gaze. What a beginning-my fellow man. I then gave of my treasure: a man, a woman, relationships special and dear. But when I came searching, there was none to be found. Portions were gone, not to be returned, others strewn on the ground. “I am fortunate though, I have more.” So I moved to my next trove.

What will make a mark in this world? What I can do, my knowledge, my talents, my potential. Of course I deposited a cache there. It was all in my power. But treasure was lost in each dream unfulfilled. Who can reach all their expectations? Not one, I’m afraid. More treasure in ruin, and less to get me by.

“I must take care of myself,” was another consideration of mine. We only have one body to carry us through. It made sense, therefore, some treasure would stay with me. My strength, my mind, my pleasures were investments of sure benefit. Yet I am just flesh and mortal, no force in my own. The tears and the years each steal their own share. And from all of my efforts, my treasure was gone.

Lord, please tell me what happened! I thought my treasure was so secure. This was not supposed to take place; now all I am is broken.

My Lord spoke to me, “My child, now you will see. It is not in yourself that your treasure is protected. You were never asked to defend and stand your ground. My heart, My hand has always been available to cover what is precious to you. But only in your point of loss would you realize your fraility.

Now your treasure will be laid up in heaven-from My throne it will be guarded. It was never a burden for me, to be the watcher of your soul. Now you can rest in My delight, and know that you will find My inheritance for you!”

Inspired by the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verses 22-34.

My Treasure

I came across this while cleaning out some files. I thought I’d share it, rather than have it sit around. I wrote it in 1995 while I was in the School of Biblical Studies with Youth With a Mission in Canberra, Australia.

Lord, where is my treasure? It is not where it should be. I had it all in hand, so that You would not have to worry about me.

I considered, “What will be the best? I do want to take care.” Perhaps it would be wise to spread my treasure around. “Diversify,” the money-man says. And if some disappears, I will have the rest to come back to, in my need of the days.

So I proceeded with my plan. I looked about, and I saw people cross my gaze. What a beginning-my fellow man. I then gave of my treasure: a man, a woman, relationships special and dear. But when I came searching, there was none to be found. Portions were gone, not to be returned, others strewn on the ground. “I am fortunate though, I have more.” So I moved to my next trove.

What will make a mark in this world? What I can do, my knowledge, my talents, my potential. Of course I deposited a cache there. It was all in my power. But treasure was lost in each dream unfulfilled. Who can reach all their expectations? Not one, I’m afraid. More treasure in ruin, and less to get me by.

“I must take care of myself,” was another consideration of mine. We only have one body to carry us through. It made sense, therefore, some treasure would stay with me. My strength, my mind, my pleasures were investments of sure benefit. Yet I am just flesh and mortal, no force in my own. The tears and the years each steal their own share. And from all of my efforts, my treasure was gone.

Lord, please tell me what happened! I thought my treasure was so secure. This was not supposed to take place; now all I am is broken.

My Lord spoke to me, “My child, now you will see. It is not in yourself that your treasure is protected. You were never asked to defend and stand your ground. My heart, My hand has always been available to cover what is precious to you. But only in your point of loss would you realize your fraility.

Now your treasure will be laid up in heaven-from My throne it will be guarded. It was never a burden for me, to be the watcher of your soul. Now you can rest in My delight, and know that you will find My inheritance for you!”

Inspired by the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verses 22-34.

Father’s Day

I have been wonderfully blessed with three special boys (yes, so far we specialize). I know that it is by God’s grace, because I do not deserve my beautiful wife and these three gifts from heaven that we have to raise.

However, I still have some issues when Father’s Day comes around. My father died of a heart attack at the age of 52; I was only 5. My mother did over and beyond what she could in my life, but there was always a void from being fatherless. Part of it manifested through being one of the youngest and smallest in my class. I don’t know for sure, but I believe that I would’ve had more self-confidence and ability to stand up for myself if my dad had been around. I never quite fit in with my peers. High school was an awkward time for me, to be sure.

After high school I attended a Discipleship Training School through YWAM Montana . This is an intensive three month training program, emphasizing the character and ways of God, followed by a two month practical outreach. It was an amazing time that really cemented a lot of things in my walk with the Lord. Nothing compared, however, to the teaching of David Graham on the Father’s heart.

He shared for a week in September about how the Father loved us so unconditionally. He described the adoption we have in Him, and how it made us sons and daughters of the King. Me, a prince of Heaven? It sounded wonderful, but it was all head knowledge. Thankfully, God has a way to move beyond our intellect.

David was speaking out of Romans 8 and Galatians 3:26 – 4:7 one day. He shared how our adoption gives us the stature of God. We take on His character and standing through this. As he described how God “sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6, NKJV) Abba is an Aramaic term that shows deep affection, like the term Daddy in modern America. This hit something deep within me, and I felt the churning of emotion and hurt inside.

David began to minister to different people in my school who were undergoing similar revelation from God on what it meant to be a child. Finally, it felt as if a fount, long blocked up by junk in my life, was released. A torrent of emotion and pain flooded out of me, washed away with divine love from my heavenly Father. No longer was I fatherless. No longer was I insignificant. I was a child of the King. So much fear, self-doubt, and insecurity was cleaned out of my life that day. I truly felt like a “new creation” at that time.

That was 9/24/91. It was my 18th birthday. It also became the first Father’s day that I truly could comprehend. Now I have a Father in heaven that looks over what I do, and it is my greatest joy when I hear, “Well done, son.”

My prayer for my boys is that they will understand the Father’s heart for them without going through the turmoil that I did. I also pray that anyone who reads this, and doesn’t know about the glorious freedom of the children of God, will also experience God as their Father.

Father’s Day

I have been wonderfully blessed with three special boys (yes, so far we specialize). I know that it is by God’s grace, because I do not deserve my beautiful wife and these three gifts from heaven that we have to raise.

However, I still have some issues when Father’s Day comes around. My father died of a heart attack at the age of 52; I was only 5. My mother did over and beyond what she could in my life, but there was always a void from being fatherless. Part of it manifested through being one of the youngest and smallest in my class. I don’t know for sure, but I believe that I would’ve had more self-confidence and ability to stand up for myself if my dad had been around. I never quite fit in with my peers. High school was an awkward time for me, to be sure.

After high school I attended a Discipleship Training School through YWAM Montana . This is an intensive three month training program, emphasizing the character and ways of God, followed by a two month practical outreach. It was an amazing time that really cemented a lot of things in my walk with the Lord. Nothing compared, however, to the teaching of David Graham on the Father’s heart.

He shared for a week in September about how the Father loved us so unconditionally. He described the adoption we have in Him, and how it made us sons and daughters of the King. Me, a prince of Heaven? It sounded wonderful, but it was all head knowledge. Thankfully, God has a way to move beyond our intellect.

David was speaking out of Romans 8 and Galatians 3:26 – 4:7 one day. He shared how our adoption gives us the stature of God. We take on His character and standing through this. As he described how God “sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal 4:6, NKJV) Abba is an Aramaic term that shows deep affection, like the term Daddy in modern America. This hit something deep within me, and I felt the churning of emotion and hurt inside.

David began to minister to different people in my school who were undergoing similar revelation from God on what it meant to be a child. Finally, it felt as if a fount, long blocked up by junk in my life, was released. A torrent of emotion and pain flooded out of me, washed away with divine love from my heavenly Father. No longer was I fatherless. No longer was I insignificant. I was a child of the King. So much fear, self-doubt, and insecurity was cleaned out of my life that day. I truly felt like a “new creation” at that time.

That was 9/24/91. It was my 18th birthday. It also became the first Father’s day that I truly could comprehend. Now I have a Father in heaven that looks over what I do, and it is my greatest joy when I hear, “Well done, son.”

My prayer for my boys is that they will understand the Father’s heart for them without going through the turmoil that I did. I also pray that anyone who reads this, and doesn’t know about the glorious freedom of the children of God, will also experience God as their Father.

Our Father’s Pleasure

Saturday was more like a mid-summer day here in Idaho. The stifling air wilted me as I mowed my lawn in the heat. So much for the idea of getting up early to work in the coolness of the morning. The grass wasn’t going to cut itself, so I pressed into the machine, trudging behind like a slave to suburbia.

My two older boys played happily on the slip-n-slide I had pulled from the garage earlier. We don’t always get to pull out the water toys this early in the season, but no sense in waiting if the weather cooperates. Besides, it kept the kids from begging for some Xbox time, so when there was enough grass mowed I had put it out so the boys could be boys.

Finally the heat had worn down my resistance. I found the siren call in the freezer-ice cream. A couple of scoops should help me conquer my task. I whipped out the scooper and soon had a foaming Coke float for me, while the boys would enjoy a bowl with chocolate syrup drizzled over their treat.

I walked carefully down the stairs, not wanting an ice cream bath. The boys squealed with delight at their bounty, and sat in the grass content with the cool confection sliding down their throat. I sat in the shade, taking my time before braving the elements once again.

As I tossed back the yummy mixture of melted ice cream and Coke, my middle son walked up to me with his empty bowl outstretched. His blue eyes sparkled. A wide grin extended across his small face. Silently he handed off the dish and started back toward his playground. One more glance back to his dad, the fresh smile still plastered in place, before he turned his attention to noise and splashes.

There was something that passed in that simple exchange of a smile between a son and a father that day. No words were spoken, but the love he had for me was evident in the fixed gaze he held with me. The gift was acknowledged and more than compensated in that quiet moment. I don’t know what his eyes saw in return, but I hope the love and pride I have in him as my precious son was shared with him in a similar manner.

Sometimes our relationship with our Father God is just as simple. Whether appreciating the smooth taste of vanilla, sugar, and cream, standing on a rocky outcropping watching the view unfold below us, smelling the freshness of impending rain in a summer thunderstorm, or the kindness of a helping hand at an opportune time, we have an encounter with the divine in such moments.

He didn’t create automons to obey His every command. He made us with significance and honor, the price being the very real likelihood that we would walk away from Him in our pride and doubt. Still, we had the free will to choose life or death, and continue to do so every day. Why He was willing to do such a thing will always be a mystery to me. Maybe when I get to heaven I can ask Him if it was worth it all. But I think I had a glimpse of the answer just this weekend.

It was in ice cream with chocolate syrup and the smile of a young boy.

Our Father’s Pleasure

Saturday was more like a mid-summer day here in Idaho. The stifling air wilted me as I mowed my lawn in the heat. So much for the idea of getting up early to work in the coolness of the morning. The grass wasn’t going to cut itself, so I pressed into the machine, trudging behind like a slave to suburbia.

My two older boys played happily on the slip-n-slide I had pulled from the garage earlier. We don’t always get to pull out the water toys this early in the season, but no sense in waiting if the weather cooperates. Besides, it kept the kids from begging for some Xbox time, so when there was enough grass mowed I had put it out so the boys could be boys.

Finally the heat had worn down my resistance. I found the siren call in the freezer-ice cream. A couple of scoops should help me conquer my task. I whipped out the scooper and soon had a foaming Coke float for me, while the boys would enjoy a bowl with chocolate syrup drizzled over their treat.

I walked carefully down the stairs, not wanting an ice cream bath. The boys squealed with delight at their bounty, and sat in the grass content with the cool confection sliding down their throat. I sat in the shade, taking my time before braving the elements once again.

As I tossed back the yummy mixture of melted ice cream and Coke, my middle son walked up to me with his empty bowl outstretched. His blue eyes sparkled. A wide grin extended across his small face. Silently he handed off the dish and started back toward his playground. One more glance back to his dad, the fresh smile still plastered in place, before he turned his attention to noise and splashes.

There was something that passed in that simple exchange of a smile between a son and a father that day. No words were spoken, but the love he had for me was evident in the fixed gaze he held with me. The gift was acknowledged and more than compensated in that quiet moment. I don’t know what his eyes saw in return, but I hope the love and pride I have in him as my precious son was shared with him in a similar manner.

Sometimes our relationship with our Father God is just as simple. Whether appreciating the smooth taste of vanilla, sugar, and cream, standing on a rocky outcropping watching the view unfold below us, smelling the freshness of impending rain in a summer thunderstorm, or the kindness of a helping hand at an opportune time, we have an encounter with the divine in such moments.

He didn’t create automons to obey His every command. He made us with significance and honor, the price being the very real likelihood that we would walk away from Him in our pride and doubt. Still, we had the free will to choose life or death, and continue to do so every day. Why He was willing to do such a thing will always be a mystery to me. Maybe when I get to heaven I can ask Him if it was worth it all. But I think I had a glimpse of the answer just this weekend.

It was in ice cream with chocolate syrup and the smile of a young boy.