Monday, September 30, 2019

Don't tell me you're too busy

I heard a speaker recently who told me the same unfortunate information that my pastor has told me for years:  don't use busyness as an excuse.  I have passed this message on to many of my students over the years.  My pastor would say, "Stop saying you are too busy.  Get control of your schedule."

I say that is unfortunate information because saying "I'm so busy" is such a nice excuse for not getting something done or for getting sympathy from the listener.  Taking the ability away to use that line means that I have to manage my time and make sure that my "yes means yes."  Think of the number of times we have either heard or used that line.  As the meme states, we can often use that line as a competition with our peers to "one-up" each other in terms of bragging about our work or demand.

But this speaker that I heard last week went further.  He told his staff that they were not allowed to say that they were too busy to get this or that done.  They were only allowed to say, "I didn't get it done, because it was not a priority to me."


That will make you pause and think before opening your mouth regarding not getting something done.

Figuring out our priorities and how to spend our time is important.  Of the three resources that God has given us (time, treasure, and talent), time is the only non-renewable resource of the three.  Losing the ability to say "I was busy" and having to rephrase it to "It wasn't a priority for me" can really help us sort out what we can and can't do in the short amount of time we have.

May God help us!

Monday, September 23, 2019

DML is growing up

On Thursday, at our DML meet and greet event, we informed our friends and partners that Discipling Marketplace Leaders will be spinning off from International Christian Ministries by the end of 2019.  Discipling Marketplace Leaders started under ICM in 2013 and has received a very gracious growing space from them.

However, as DML has been growing quite rapidly, we believe it is time that we form our own 501c3 in order to have a Board of Directors that is more directly involved in how this particular ministry grows, especially as the number of partner ministries that we network with also grows.  The DML leadership and the ICM leadership spoke about this growing realization and ICM has given its blessing to DML to spin-off on its own.

This is both exciting and scary at the same time.  It is exciting to watch the growth of this ministry and how God is using it to build His church.  It is exciting to be told by partners that it is time for a prayerful, thoughtful team to give leadership to DML, who can be more objective than Dr. Walker or myself who are "deep in the forest and often can't see the trees."

This is the third ministry that I have been involved in starting, and the second time I have gone through the process to get non-profit status.  There is a tremendous amount of safety being under another organization's umbrella as it relates to accounting, audits, and legalities.  Dealing with bureaucracy is not my favorite thing to do, so it is scary as well.  I am the type of person who likes to "set up shop" and not necessarily "keep shop."  So I know that this is the type of thing that drains me of energy rather than gives it, but again the time is right for this to happen.

So we are going through a rebranding process, looking at DML from all different angles as we prepare for this launch.  One of the things we are looking very seriously at is how our ministry can also fulfill a quadruple bottom line: missionally, socially, environmentally, and economically.  If we preach it, we also need to do it!

This week I will be in Texas, with the Global Alliance for Church Multiplication forum, looking specifically at how the Marketplace is used to grow the church through a number of other ministries around the world.  These are the types of things that we want to get better at as a ministry - networking and continuing to watch where God is working and join Him in that work.

More updates to come!

Monday, September 16, 2019

News from Discipling Marketplace Leaders

This week is an exciting week for us.  Both Dr. Walker and Emeline Nde, DML-USA staff, will be coming to Grand Rapids as we will be doing a professional video shoot of our two-day workshop for pastors and church leaders, that can be reproduced for our teams in Africa.  They have been asking for this for a long time, and we have a number of copies of videos that were done on-site but the quality, especially sound, has not been good, so we are going to do the "real deal" this week.

Additionally, we are having a "Meet and Greet" on Thursday evening for friends of DML to hear the exciting things that God is doing to grow, build and equip His Church in Africa through DML.  If you are in the Grand Rapids area and would like to join us, please email me at for more details.

The opportunity to share these stories comes on the heels of the DML East Africa Regional Meeting that just took place on the Nile River in Uganda, with our teams from Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya (the teams are in the boat that is pictured).

Hearing them share their stories, their ideas, and how God is working with them to share this message AND the DML method, was inspiring for the teams.  At this particular meeting, we not only had our five teams from four countries, but we also had key denominational leaders from the four denominations that we are working with join these meetings.  This ended up being a very good investment, as the picture of how to implement this ministry became much clearer during those days together.

As the Church grows in Africa, and as the population and economy grow in Africa, we believe that Africa has the potential to fulfill the Great Commission IF it can unlock its members from the building, to be the church every day of the week in the Marketplace.

Enjoy some pictures from our teams, and thank you for praying and supporting this ministry!

Uganda DML Team, with the Pentecostal Assemblies of God reps.

Tanzania DML Team, with Full Victory Gospel Ministries reps.

Kenya DML Team, with Anglican Church of Kenya reps.

Ethiopia Teams, with reps from Kibir and the Kale Heywet Church

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Life Without Despair is a Life Without Hope

I heard this phrase recently and it made me stop and think for some time.

Can you wrap your head around this concept?  A life without despair is a life without hope.

No despair - no hope.

We like hope.  We don't like despair.

Can't we have hope without despair?  Not real hope.  Not deep hope.  Maybe superficial hope.  "I hope it doesn't rain today" kind of hope.

But hope for change...for the world to be a better place...hope for people to understand the real meaning of grace and mercy...hope for healing...hope for relief...the deep hopes that come from pain in the soul.

What are the longings of your soul?  When was the last time that you differentiated between your superficial human longings and the deeper desires of your soul?

It makes me think of Ruth Haley Barton's book, Sacred Rhythms, and her description of the conversation that Blind Bartimaeus had with Jesus.  Jesus had a habit of asking people deep questions like, "What are you seeking?" or "What do you want from me?"  He was going after spiritual hunger, reflected in the honest reflection of the person being asked.  This particular story and question comes from Mark 10:46-52:
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Barton invites us to imagine (just for a few seconds) being Bartimaeus and thinking through how you were going to get the attention of Jesus.  What words would you use?  What emotions would you feel?

Then imagine that Jesus turns to you, looks you in the eye, and says, "What do you want me to do for you?"  What would you say?  What answer would you give?

We may need to peel back a number of layers to get to the bottom of what we really want from Him.  It may take some honest reflection and soul searching.

A life without despair is a life without hope.  What are you hoping for?  What drives it?  Where have you been and what have you seen that drives both the despair and the hope?  And how do you take both the despair and the hope to answer the question Jesus asks, "What do you want from me?"

That is your story.  That is the uniqueness that is you.  I'm sure many of our answers would be different but in some ways, I would guess that they may point in a similar direction.

As I wait for news about my health, I consider something a friend said to me this past week.  He said, "I pray for health for you or something better."

I like that.  Maybe that is what I would say to least for today.