Have you ever wanted to go to Israel?

What’s stopping you?

More important, why is it stopping you?

How is what you have “not enough”?

Are you certain it’s not enough?

Here’s what happened the last time I led a group to Israel…

We received a list of items need by Bridges for Peace, where we served in Israel.

  • New baby clothes
  • Children’s toys
  • Toothbrushes
  • Backpacks for kids for school
  • School kits (pencils, erasers, crayons, glue stick, scissors, pencil sharpener, etc.)

We gathered as much as we could pack, and we lugged around our extra suitcases for the first several days until we began serving. We combined our bags and packed them on the bus. We rolled them into the building where they would sort, store, and distribute the items, and we started unpacking.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (5)


Little by little, those working and serving at Bridges for Peace that day came to see what all the commotion was about. They found an explosion of suitcases as we filled bins.

And they had tears in their eyes.

We started with a list, but what we didn’t know was donations were down because of the change in airline baggage fees.

We didn’t know they had been out of baby clothes for three months.

We didn’t know the baby clothes we had brought were enough for six months.

We didn’t know they had been praying for provision and witnessed God’s answer.

They cried for joy, hugged and thanked us.

11.4.14 Bridges for Peace (23)

We cried, too…partly for joy, and partly because we wish we had known. We wish we had done more.

It was pretty easy to gather items, pack them, and roll them on and off our planes and buses. What we thought was “not much” was an abundance for those in need.

Yes, we could do more, but what we did was…something.

Look around. You are surrounded by needs in your home, church, community, and world. You can’t solve every problem or meet every need, but you can do something. Don’t let “not much” stop you. It might just be more than enough.

And don’t let your “not enough” stop you from exploring the possibilities of journeying and serving in Israel. Space is limited, so we can get to know each other well and serve and travel well. Click here for more information.

Are You Available to Help?

2015 PurePurpose.org

2015 PurePurpose.org

Yesterday, I shared my experience of grocery shopping in an unfamiliar store. Besides prompting an online search to find out more about jack fruit, the store spurred something else–a reminder to be available.

I don’t think I ever walked more than two aisles without finding a store employee, always willing to help. The majority spoke to me, asking me if I needed any help finding something or simply greeting me and asking how my day was going. I didn’t feel as if the employees were reciting a rehearsed script, although I’m certain they had been given a bank of possible interactions in their Customer Relations 101 course. Since I was just exploring up and down the aisles, I repeatedly told employees I was just meandering and didn’t need help right then. However, when I came to the end of the aisles and still had a couple necessities unfound and unchecked on my list, I approached someone. I felt completely comfortable walking up to the nearest employee, even though he hadn’t personally spoken with me yet, because of the ease with which the others had interacted with me. They weren’t bothersome. They weren’t sugary-sweet. They simply spoke to me, made eye contact, and let me get on my way if that’s what I chose to do.

How available are you to help others, and how do you respond when they prefer to get on their way? As Christians, do we work together even though we’re living separate lives, planting and nurturing seeds that we might never see mature? Are we responsive to noticing and helping people we have never met or poured into? How well do we do our part without trying to control the situation? How well do we stand our ground because it’s where God has placed us, not because it’s where we are most comfortable or because it’s our right to stand where we want to stand and say what we want to say? Are we authentic, or do we sound like a recording from our Christianity 101 training, complete with lingo from past decades?

We have a part to play, but we’re not the only ones working for and serving God. Be available. Be willing.

But don’t be annoying, robotic, or controlling.

Enjoying the Unfamiliar

Sometimes I enjoy exploring the unfamiliar store. Typically, I’m a mission shopper, especially when it comes to groceries. I have a list, organized by categories of food and other items in the order they’re placed in the store. I cruise up and down the aisles like a boss, grabbing what is on my list and avoiding everything else. I’ve avoided a lot of unnecessary purchases and wasted time because of my process.

But I also miss out on discoveries. I miss out on what others experience when they walk into an unfamiliar place. Instead of helping others, I have to ask for help more often. I notice more details, more choices, more people.

I was recently in a different town and decided to pick up my groceries (to save the time of an additional, out of the way stop at my regular store on the way home). I wasn’t concerned about time. I simply chose to enjoy the experience, try to get as much as I could on my list but also look around and see what other goodies I could discover.

I learned I could buy a jack fruit for $40. I have no idea what I would do with it, but I’m sure it would feed a small army.

2015 PurePurpose.org

2015 PurePurpose.org

I found a GuS (Grown-Up Soda)–in my favorite flavor, pomegranate–and sipped it all the way home.

I appreciated some of the prices I normally pay (especially for pecans and walnuts) but was thankful for a wider selection of natural options.

I walked up and down every single aisle.

I’m not going to leave my routine shopping behind, but I need to leave my comfort zone more often.

We all have routines that help us manage the to-do lists of our lives. But sometimes we need to let go of the to-do list long enough to appreciate the experience. It might be inconvenient and uncomfortable, but if we only stay in our comfort zones, we’ll miss out on a lot.

Go to a different grocery store, coffee shop, church, or restaurant. Take a different route on your walk or run. Meet someone new. Engage in conversation that might make you squirm a bit but teaches you something in the process.

And if you find a need for a giant jack fruit, I know where to find one.


When the Freezer Thaws

©2015 PurePurpose.org

©2015 PurePurpose.org

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (Psalm 145:13)

I expect the freezer to keep my food frozen. I expect the clothes I put into the washing machine to come out clean. I expect my laptop to load my inbox messages. Despite the trust I’ve put in these things, I’ve been surprised when I find soggy, spoiled food in my freezer, soapy, drenched clothes in the washing machine, and an error message in my email inbox.

It’s not just machines and electronics that let me down; I’ve also been disappointed by people I’ve trusted. I’ve been untrustworthy at times, too. But God is completely trustworthy every single moment and every single situation.

When we’re in situations where we feel challenged, threatened, or unsafe, we might question God’s presence and His trustworthiness to care and provide for us. But God’s goal is not for you to remain safe from all danger and mishap. If you’re looking for a cave of faith in which to hide for the remainder of your life in preparation for joyful eternity in heaven, you’re not going to find it.

Some of us seek safety, and others seek adventure. If you enjoy the comfort of safety, God will challenge you with adventure. If you prefer adventure, He will challenge you with stability. God gives us safety when we need it, but He doesn’t give us a place to hide when we need to face a conflict, person, or fear. He knows when we’re depleted or in danger versus when we’re running to hide from something or someone we need to face.

We can trust God to give us security in any situation, whether we need to retreat to His safe haven or advance with the security of His boldness and provision. Ask God to help you fully trust His timing, provision, and guidance today.

Digging Deeper. Climbing Higher.

©2015 PurePurpose.org

©2015 PurePurpose.org

The first time I visited Israel, it was as if I sliced through a tell and looked at the grandness of the cross-section. As tell (or tel) is a layer of civilization. It’s a mound-like structure created by a long series of human occupation and abandonment. As I experienced the cross-section, I savored as many details as I could, but I mainly tried to see the bigger picture so that I didn’t get confused by disconnected pieces.

I connected more pieces when I returned. I recognized roads and oriented one location to another. I steeped in familiar places and discovered new ones. With nearly every step, something “clicked” as if I could identify something familiar with something new. Not all the connections were between the two trips. Many were between places, stories, people and the Bible. Some involved research and reading I had done in preparation for the trip.

If my first trip was like slicing through a tell, my second trip was sitting at various layers and studying details.

Of course, the more I experience, the more I know there is to experience. The more I know, the more I want to know.

Learning is a lifelong adventure. No matter how much you know, there is more to learn.

Faith is no different.

No matter how strong your faith, it is only a fraction of the faith you can have. We can focus on the faith we have and be content. We can also focus on the faith we don’t have and give up on growing. Neither is productive. Instead, we can claim the faith we have, stand firmly on it, but continue to examine, tear down, build up, and take one more step at a time.

Faith is a journey. It is an adventure.

Adventures in Faith: Soaring!

adventures in faithToday is the final post in the Adventures in Faith series. Thanks for joining the journey. Let’s continue together with new adventures, beginning tomorrow!

Children, come and listen to me. I will teach you to worship the Lord. You must do these things to enjoy life and have many happy days. (Psalm 34:11-12)

Ponder It.

What’s one adventure that thrilled you?

What’s an adventure that challenged you?

Consider how you grew through each.

Receive It.

When Mom looked out the kitchen window, she saw us in the second-story barn window. My older sisters held me by my legs and arms, and they swung me back and forth several times before tossing me out the window.

What she couldn’t see was my landing. The garage obscured her view. She charged out the door in a panic, rounded the corner of the garage and…saw the hay truck stacked with straw and me rolling in laughter and delight. What a great day! Mom, on the other hand, didn’t share my joy. She was relieved I was okay, but her initial fright gave her enough momentum to yell at all of us and demand we stop the fun.

Bummer! I was having a blast. It might not have been the safest way to pass the time, but many of the “fun” things we did on the farm weren’t necessarily safe. Some of the most memorable experiences are the adventurous ones. We’re creative through adventures. We learn through adventures. And we often struggle through adventures. Struggling often produces growth.

Adventures often involve risks and usually involve excitement. Approach today with an anticipation of adventure. Learn. Struggle. Be creative. Make some memories.

Live It.

This is it: the launching pad of the next season of your adventures. Your adventures didn’t just begin, and they’re not going to end anytime soon, especially as you commit and yield to God’s will. He has a journey of adventures for you. Embrace every single one. Soar!

For more stories about life growing up on the family farm, check out Farm Days.

Adventures in Faith: Opportunities for Adventure

adventures in faithShout to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with joy; come before Him with singing. Know that the Lord is God. He made us, and we belong to Him; we are His people, the sheep He tends. Come into His city with songs of thanksgiving and into His courtyards with songs of praise. Thank Him and praise His name. The Lord is good. His love is forever, and His loyalty goes on and on. (Psalm 100)

Ponder It.

What’s one opportunity you missed and have regretted?

What’s an opportunity you are very grateful you didn’t miss?

What’s an opportunity you would love to experience?

Receive It.

We have a lot of opportunities throughout life and throughout every day. We have the choice not only to take or refuse the opportunity but also to take or give credit for the opportunity. We sometimes feel we’ve “made our way.” We take credit when, in reality, we haven’t gotten where we are on our own. In fact, we don’t achieve in isolation. Even when we think our efforts paved the way to where we are, opened the doors, and made the right choices, we’re surrounded by others. Our lives aren’t lived in isolation. Our paths are paved with relationships. Sometimes, we feel we’ve messed up everything. Taking responsibility is one thing, but thinking we’re powerful enough to mess up everything is the same as thinking we’re powerful enough to achieve anything we want. Whether we think too highly or not highly enough of ourselves, we have pride issues, and just about the time we excuse our pride as necessary confidence, we’ll trip over the stumbling blocks pride puts in the way.

We are never so low that we cannot go higher, and we can never get to a height from which it’s impossible to fall. We have responsibility, but God gets the credit. Obedience is the responsibility; guidance and provision only comes from God. He defines who we are and determines when we’re letting pride slip into our lives. Whether we’re giving ourselves too much credit or not enough credit, our credit is misguided. It’s not about our credit; it’s about God’s glory. So, when you’re faced with an opportunity, give it to God. Let it filter through His fingers and will. Let Him decide how you’re supposed to best respond. When you’re faced with an opportunity, get prayed up and prayed for. Each is indispensable, and neither should be done just when you feel it’s an emergency. God’s presence and will isn’t just the only way when we can’t see another way. It’s the only way when we can see thousands of ways ahead of us. Many ways may look beautiful to us, but only God’s way is undoubtedly, incomparably, the most beautiful ever.

Live It.

Place one of your hands under a faucet and let water run over your palm. Try to hold as water as you can. Turn off the water. As you watch the remainder of the water run down the drain, commit to not wasting a single opportunity God gives you today. Opportunities slip too easily through our hands.