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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Contributor Chagrin?

The national economy is not a support-raising friend. Corporate America may be doing better, but small business.....NOT! But even corporate America reflects the economic pinching. Down sizing adjustments have been made in work schedules, employee numbers, hours worked, bonuses, healthcare packages, etc. The money is just not out there.  

So what's a God-trusting wanna-be-campus- missionary supposed to do? Well, it still crystallizes around TRUST.

 I'm frequently asked, "What do you do knowing that so many of the people who supported you in the past are now on fixed incomes?"...a question I have found myself answering multiples of times in the past months. The answer to it is simple: expect less. 
 Unless you've done some support raising or you've been faith-supported yourself, you can't know the solid sense of exhilaration I get when someone makes a monthly commitment of $10, $15, $20. It's HUGE! It's like lifting a cold drink to one's lips on a really hot working day. In the context of faith support it merely means I need many more of those. The reassurance I get when my friends--the people who know me well--are behind me, that they are there, praying and emotionally invested...well, it's irreplaceable

I've also discovered Contributor Chagrin. That's my label for what friends feel who want to give, but slip into a three step faith-deterioration skid.  Sympathetic and well-intentioned they realize they can't give "enough." Disappointed and maybe even a tad ashamed(?) of what they can give, they procrastinate and....and then don't do anything! Oooh, that's thrice the pain! It's painful for them that they can't give "enough," that they've done nothing  yet--and then don't do anything; and it's painful for me because I know they intended to support me, but they haven't, and my support account's growth curve is flat, flat, f-l-a-t. So, please let me encourage you, "Don't be that guy!" I can promise  you that what you think of as "a little bit" will go a long, long way. So, again, here's my  Missions Door web page, see the top right-hand corner, and click!

In just a few days I will be flying to the Tucson area. I'll be joining other Missions Door ministry staff from the Southwest and Rocky Mountain mission regions for a collaborative conference. It'll be encouraging to spend time with these men and women similarly focused on ministry efforts throughout these two regions. The event, referred to as SWaRM (Southwest and Rocky Mountain...hmmm), will offer some strategic encouragement, program planning insights, spiritual focus, and fellowship.

Thanks..n..keep praying.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

OK, so how do you spell relief?

Take that question out of the narrow context of a Rollaids commercial. Then, if we make it about stress management, it asks a broader and every bit as practical question: "How do we manage stress; what's our chosen method?" 

I think as a general rule we learn how to deal with stress at home growing up. Dad and and mom, brothers, sisters, uncle Fred, ...and even our friends "teach" us.  Of course the most influential members in that very abbreviated list are those closest to us, those around whom we spend our most formative hours, days, months, and years. We watch and learn the details of the stress-management process, the necessary management tools, how and where to get those necessary tools, and what the process is supposed to look and feel like. 

As we get older we tend to apply those stress-management skills to all kinds of things. It's become pretty automatic; we just tend to do it. Again as a general rule, I think that's probably not a bad thing in and of itself, but it can get really out or hand. It can get crazy and personally destructive. As our stress mounts--around personal issues, work challenges, relationship issues, money concerns, academics, romantic drama, competitive goals, etc.,--our stress management "stuff" can shift into overdrive, and get really out of hand before we even realize it! With all that stress around us we just want to feel good. That occasional cola can become an every several hour "gotta have one." That wonderful morning coffee can become a love affair with the coffee pot. Shopping for our weekly needs becomes shopping for shopping's sake--all just because it's a welcome diversion...and it feels so good. We're visiting feel-good places, experiences, substances, things, people, situations more, and we linger there or with them a little longer. I'm sure you get my drift. We can very happily become the "bond slave" of our own stress management tools and behaviors.  So, I've discovered it's often necessary to take a close-up and carefully examine my own stuff!

 In his Epistle to the Philippians the Apostle Paul emphasizes moderation--"Let your moderation be known to all men..." (Phil. 4:4ff). And in his Letters to the Romans (12:1,2) and the Corinthians (2 Cor. 14:14 ff.) he challenges us to develop intentional, conscious awareness of our mental and emotional routines...and to be always carefully aware of them and managing them. The gospel writer, John, late in his life, similarly engages this theme when he closes his First Epistle with the fatherly admonition, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols!" (I John 5:21).

So, how do you spell RELIEF? Let's support one another around the development of good "stuff self-management" skills, and in ways that do not become self-compromising or self-destructive. In a world that appears to be going crazy with excesses and related excuses for all kinds of craziness (around things that used to be recognized unequivocally as aberrant behaviors), may we support one another to do the good disciplines. Let's vow to keep ourselves free so we really can be Children of God who love and do "good works." (e.g., Matt. 5:16; Titus 2:7)


 Missions Door page (click there)