Traveling light

John 8:12 ​When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I want to take hold of this. I want to take hold of it with my understanding. And I want to take hold of it as though life depends on it, my life and the life of those around me.

Light dispels darkness. This is easy to recognize in the physical realm – when a light is turned on, darkness is gone. In the emotional world, light can be felt. If there is a bright mood, it can be felt. And if there is a melancholy, that too is felt.

How about in the spiritual realm? Now I want to say that we are integrated physical, emotional and spiritual beings. Physical light can lift up a person’s emotions. Emotional pain can lead us to desire a dark and shaded room. What Jesus tells me, tells us, here in this verse, is that following him, imitating his way of life, and thinking his thoughts with him dispels darkness.

There is one source of spiritual light, Jesus the Messiah, light from above. The integration of our being means that light from above can become light within. Light within will spill out of our countenance, our speech and infect the people around us. Isn’t this what Jesus invites us to? “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16) and the counterpoint- “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22,23

If we read beyond John 8:12, we see that the Pharisees missed not only the point, but more importantly, the invitation. “How do we know what you say is true?” and they mistook not only the truth but the One who is the Truth.

God’s Word, God’s Spirit (the Spirit of Truth) and God’s People – Light from Jesus to light our way out of our darkness.

Psa. 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Psa. 119:130 ​The unfolding of your words gives light;

it gives understanding to the simple.

Is. 50:10 ​Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant?

​Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light,

​trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.

Following Jesus,



Work and the voice of God

“Team work makes the dream work”

I have been noticing something recently in my reading of the Bible. I have been looking for the context in the passages where God speaks clearly to people. Some of the events fit my preconception: God meets people in solitude.
➢ Zechariah hearing from God about the birth of John the Baptist while alone in the presence of God (Luke 1:5-22).
➢ Elijah hearing from God in that “still, small voice” while alone on the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:11-13)
➢ Samuel hearing the voice of God calling him in the night (1 Samuel 3:1-13)
➢ Isaac in the field meditating when God brings his wife Rebekah to him (Genesis24:62-65)
Sometimes I want to simply sit in solitude to “hear from God”. And that is good.
Yet there are other texts.
➢ Moses was working, tending sheep, when he heard God call him by name. (Exodus 3:1-10)
➢ Peter and Andrew and James and John were actively working as fishermen when Jesus called them (Matthew 4:17-22)
➢ Paul was working as a zealous Pharisee when Jesus spoke to him by name on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-9)
➢ Paul’s missionary team was actively working at their appointed task when God redirected their steps to the West, towards Europe (Acts 16:6-10)
It seems clear that God also speaks plainly to his people when they are actively working, not simply sitting in solitude. And that is also good.
What is not good? For Adam to be alone. Isn’t it interesting that in the perfection of His creative work, God saw one thing that was not good: a man working the garden alone. (Genesis 2:18)

Is this why the church, the pillar and foundation of the truth, the means of the revelation of the manifold wisdom of God, (1 Timothy 3:15 and Ephesians 3:10) grows as EACH PART does its WORK (Ephesians 4:11-16)?

What is the dream we are working toward? More disciples among more populations in amore caring and just world… Team work makes the dream work.

Gary Walter, our denomination’s president said “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I wonder, what is our part in the work? Because isn’t it possible that our desire to hear the voice of God will best be realized by our active engagement in the work? Is it possible that it is in working that we will be surprised by the voice of God?

Isn’t it interesting that our desire to hear from God and our desire to do something significant with our lives might find intersection in the work of the church, the pillar and foundation of the truth, the church that is the means for revealing the very wisdom of God to this broken world and even to the unseen world around us?

Tides of the season

We were staying in Bodega Bay over thanksgiving. The house we were staying in overlooked the bay with a full southern exposure. At this time of year both the sunrise and the sunset are visible with expansive beauty, inviting the soul into contemplation, reflection and peace.

Down the hill a bit, a short drive or a longer walk, was Bodega Bay itself. A wide bay with aquatic life of the avian and mammalian kind was visible at high tide. In addition to the mammalian wind surfers, sea otters were swimming on their back, sea lions were heard across the water, cormorants, pelicans, cranes and gulls all found life and sustenance from the shallow bay. At low tide the mammals were gone, and the birds were bold in their search for food.

A longer drive, around the bay and out onto a peninsula called Bodega Head, the waters were no longer sheltered and the waves of the Pacific crashed unabated on the shore. Yet the tides still rose and fell. Of all the rhythms of Creation, how, after all this time, do they still cleanse the beach? Marvelous and Wonderful tides.

It makes me wonder what is the equivalent of the tide in my spiritual life? Isn’t thanksgiving a rhythmic discipline and opportunity to experience marvel, wonder and cleansing? And Zechariah prophecies in Luke 1 about his own son John the Baptist:

76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;

for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,

77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation

through the forgiveness of their sins,

78 because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

79 to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

The knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of [our] sins… This also is a repeating, faithful spiritual tide that comes invitationally and unceasingly because of the tender mercy of our God.

As Thanksgiving yields to Advent and then into Christmastide may the tides of thanksgiving and of forgiveness cleanse us and guide our feet, as individuals, as a church and as a nation, into paths of peace.

Invited to the dance

“May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
– Larry Hein in the preface to Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

I know a bunch of people. One of the beautiful things about being a pastor is being invited in to the deep places of life. Good and bad, circumstances are a portal into a deeper humanity. They are not a porthole, something to be looked through to get a glimpse of life elsewhere. They are a portal to be entered in to as a passage to life that is truly life. Larry Hein captures this in his preface to the classic Abba’s Child. The goal of all this is the trinitarian relational richness maybe best captured by dance.

I really don’t like the fact that dance is the metaphor of life. I don’t dance well, at all. In Middle School and High School I went to the dances and largely stood outside looking in. I neither invited much, nor was invited much to the place where it was happening. Yet dance is inherently relational, integrating the inflow of music, the presence of others on the dance floor all while being intensely present to the partner.

Circumstances invite us on to the floor. Intensely present to the Author and Giver of life, to the sovereign over all creation, passing through the portal of good and bad circumstance , gives entrance to the place of deep joy, surpassed expectation and freshness of power to grasp the riches and depth of love with which we are all held.

What if…

A couple of days ago I became quite uncomfortable while out at the Zulu dam. Chills and shakes and intestinal distress severely limited my capacity to help the team. Riding back to Karawa in the front seat of a Toyota truck I couldn’t help wonder “why me?” The why me of my musing was Why did I get a ride? Why did I have the relative security of Malarone, a malaria prophylaxis, to ease my risk and concerns? Why do I get provision of care when other human beings, equally created by God, have neither access nor money to pay for care? It is not clear.
But Certain things are very clear here in Congo. It is clear that sporadic electric power makes the delivery of high quality medical care challenging, to say the least. It is clear that helping is a mandate given to the church, and it is clear that global differences exist. As a westerner, I can’t help but wonder what will happen if we invest money in the electrical infrastructure of Karawa Hospital. Will civil war break out again? Will politics of some kind give unequal access to the care we wish we’re provided? Will the system break down or be abused?

My pondering took me to Ecclesiastes:

I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19 NIV)

Uncertainty is not new. It is not ours to see the future. But it is given to us to help the poor, including preaching the gospel in word and in deed. This gives a chance of an empowered future whereas doing nothing would do… Nothing.

What if…

Congo update

What a fascinating journey! A trip is a place to go to and return from. A journey leaves us changed.

Today I met a 13 year old girl named Lundi. 3 months ago she had been severely burned on one side of her body. She was being transported several miles by her uncle who had lashed a chair to the back of a bicycle and was pushing the bicycle to the hospital here in Karawa. David and Debbie Williams (missionaries here in Karawa) just happened to be driving by in their mission truck and stopped. She was in shock, nearly dead. It is unlikely she would have survived the trip by bicycle. The medical team at Karawa Hospital went to work, without electricity and a fragile water supply they nevertheless were able to get her stabilized and when I met her today she is a happy, grateful and industrious teenager helping her family selling goods in the market.

A life saved, what will her future hold? Whatever it holds, it will be an actual future, thanks to Karawa Hospital.

How much more will be able to be done for others like Lundi when there is reliable power, reliable water, an economic engine and a stable political future. God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, but he also uses us to do immeasurably more than we think we are capable of, especially when we are in it together.

So far the engineering work is progressing with insights and understanding being developed with the cooperative spirit and excellent capability of the people involved. A rebuilt hydraulic crimper has successfully been used to splice some faulty cable, a TDR (time domain reflectometry) and a MegOhmeter have been used to measure fundamental properties of the cable that will guide the teams work next week. Stay tuned, and keep us in prayer.

(Check out for a news story about a house fire that happened in the house we were supposed to be staying in that happened the day before we arrived)


ps. Comments can be left at

What is good news to the poor?

There was article on the BBC website this week chronicling 5 centuries of plunder and woe for the Congo. In the face of persistent oppression and opportunism of the worst kind there is a less told story of courageous people with a different task.
Recognizing the stewardship of their own heritage and training they went away from power and privilege to sacrifice and service. In the Equateur Province is a small group of hospitals serving hundred of thousands of people in the midst of challenging (read virtually non existent) infrastructure. In the 1980s a small hydroelectric plant was built by missionary engineers. In the face of civil strife the plant was shuttered, the turbine broken. The turbine was repaired a couple of years ago only to discover that the transmission line carrying the power to the hospital was repeatedly failing. A fifty year lifetime showing regular failure in 1/3 of the useable time.
Powerless to help, literally, the Congolese medical professionals are severely hamstrung. Good news though, there are a few people from elsewhere (Canada, Germany and the US) who are paying attention. Some really smart and creative engineers are coming alongside some really smart and creative Congolese engineers and technicians to assess the state of the transmission line and make recommendations about repair or replacement of the line.
Jon is the technical team leader, a good friend who loves using his musical, PhD EE mind to solve complex problems. Drew is a EE, who is also creative and captured by the need and challenge of the problem. They represent a cadre of others who have been thinking collaboratively about the problem. I am accompanying the two of them with the hope that the church who operates the hospital will be strengthened, the hospital itself will see a path forward towards literal empowerment and the poor of the region will receive good news.