Monday, July 19, 2010


I was reminded today of a trip several years ago to the York County Fair. My wife and I decided to spend a few dollars and tour the sideshow, just off the carnival midway. It was painted with the typically sensational murals – the bearded lady, the world’s smallest woman and the like.

Having never been to what used to be rather cruelly called a “freak show” before I didn’t know what to expect. My experience that evening was so excruciatingly uncomfortable it remains a vivid memory: people on display, to be looked at like specimens in cages, oddities behind glass. Except that they weren’t behind glass! They were on display and in most cases in little more than cages and boxes – and as I looked at them, they looked at me. Nothing separating me from them; and as I looked into their eyes I realized that they were people – living, breathing creations of a Loving God. And it was wrong. Just so starkly wrong that I couldn’t stay and complete the “tour.” I was ashamed of myself for having gone in to begin with.

I was reminded of this by a movie we watched tonight called “The Butterfly Circus.” One scene takes place in a circus sideshow and as the barker prepares to throw back the curtain he says, “a man [so deformed] that even God has turned his back on him.”

The group I’m with talked for a few minutes tonight about that single line; “even God has turned his back.” I was excited to be able to say to them, “That is not the way God works!”

We may feel worthless and insignificant, but in God’s eyes we have infinite value. Humanity looks on the outward things. God looks on the inward things and examines our heart. Our worth is not determined by the value that others place upon us, but by the value that God places upon us. There is nothing about us that’s accidental or insignificant. Because of Christ, we are  filled with promise and purpose. That makes all the difference in the world.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mission Trip Reflection – Wilmington NC

The week of June 20-26th was spent on a mission trip with youth and adults (mostly youth) from my church in Wilmington, North Carolina. We repaired homes in the area with Group Work Camp. In the middle of serving and working all week I found it difficult to get time to think and reflect on my experience there, but as I look back – even from just a few day’s distance – there are some things I am struck by and want to share.

1. The power of faith in action is tremendous. As a person who spends a significant amount of time every week stringing together words to communicate the message of life with Christ, its easy to get lost in those words and forget the power of our actions. Faithful living has a different kind of power to affect people than do words and its a power that can too often be overlooked. I’m not advocating an either-or approach; I’m saying I’ve been reminded that, at its heart, life with Christ is words and actions (all of life really) united together.

2. Students have tremendous potential and impact. I can’t possibly convey here how touched I was and how impressed I was with the students from our group. They worked hard. They chased hard after the things of God. They made a difference last week. As they were serving, I hope they got a glimpse of their power and the potential they have. They really could change the world. If they put themselves wholly into it, with the help of God, they could make an impact that no other generation could  rival.

3. When you serve you always get more than you give. That’s not why you serve, of course, but its still true. I experienced that first hand this week in the kindness and grace of the woman in whose home we worked. She would be genuinely embarrassed for me to mention it, but she was one of the most valuable gifts that God gave me last week. She renewed my soul.

4. Too much ministry happens inside our church buildings. The more we are in here the more we miss the opportunities out there. And again, its not an either-or proposition. It’s about something more balanced. But for too long the life of the Church has been out of balance. The lives of many believers have been out of balance. We spend too much time looking at the world through rose colored stained-glass windows. It’s long overdue for that to begin changing.

I am so glad I went to North Carolina last week. God had a lot of special people and important lessons waiting for me in Wilmington. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss them.