Monday, April 18, 2022

Garden to Graveyard, Graveyard to Garden

Yesterday we celebrated Easter, the resurrection of Jesus. 

Sometimes celebrating Easter is difficult when in the midst of seeing suffering and death all around.  From a shooting death in what should be simple traffic stop in Grand Rapids MI, to kidnappings in Kaduna Nigeria, to the war in Ukraine, the words "death where is your victory" can sometimes ring hollow.

But yesterday I was reminded of the shift from garden to graveyard, and then graveyard to garden.  Our pastor reminded us that in the recounting of the fall in Genesis 3, Eden moved from being a Garden to being a Graveyard.  Adam and Eve, who were created to work and care for the garden, suddenly knew death. This garden that was created for flourishing and life had the shadow of death cast over it.

From that time on, the world knew daily the reality of the graveyard.  

But then Jesus came to earth, lived and died, and was buried in a tomb which was located in a garden.  He defeats death.  And the first person He appears to, Mary Magdalene, confuses Him for a gardener (John 20:15). 

And as it turns out, she is not mistaken.  Our God and Father, and Jesus the Son, are indeed gardeners.

Author Larry Peabody (God Loves Your Work) reminds us that God used words in the creation of this world.  Genesis 1 says over and again, "And God said..."  But when God made man, there is different terminology.  God "formed" man and "took the rib" from man to form woman.  You can speak from a distance, but God's hands got dirty when making humanity.

During Jesus' time on earth, his hands got dirty again.  Very dirty.  Calloused, splintered, and injured as a carpenter for 18 years, and then scarred as the nails pierced them as a result of an unjust trial, sentence, and execution.  

You can't garden from a distance.  You have to get your hands dirty in the soil.  And thankfully, God does not garden from a distance.  We are told in John 5:17 that, "My Father is always working, and so am I."  

And each of us, in our own gardens, cannot garden from a distance.  And so, our hands get dirty with the invasive species of sin that has filled our own gardens:  in our homes, with our loved ones, in our churches, in our communities, in our nations, and in our world.

Death has lost its victory and has lost its sting.  The graveyard has become a garden again.  

We lament when there is death and sickness and suffering.  We lament when there is war and kidnappings and fear. 

But we do not despair.  We do not grieve as if we have no hope.  Rather we join the God that saved us by getting His hands dirty and continue to get our own hands dirty.  We get in the dirt, we pull the weeds, we plant the seeds, we labor as gardeners using our time, treasure, and talent.

And in so doing, we strive to join with our Father in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, a little bit at a time.  

I thank God for an Easter that allows for both lament and rejoicing, for the now and the not yet.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Keeping it real: We were made to work!

This week, our partner from Burkina Faso posted this video on our Global DML WhatsApp platform, with this comment:  

Work is just part of our spiritual and physical DNA. Even when we lose all our ability, we still want to work because Work is part of God's image in us.

When I watched the video, I was struck by two things:

  1. I should never complain about hard work!
  2. The need, desire, and joy of work is deep and real!

This joy in work has been frustrated by sin.  As we see people rediscover their joy and purpose in work, we find that there is an attitude change which then results in greater productivity!  When I work for money or I work without joy, my eyes are cast down on myself.  But when I work as a calling, work for the Lord or for the flourishing of humanity and creation, my eyes are lifted up!

For those who are partnered with us in getting this message out, we thank you!  If you are not, we invite you to join us in our effort to get this message across Africa and beyond by becoming a Gospel Patron!  For more information or to join us, please click here.

Monday, April 4, 2022

DML's Scholarship Campaign

Discipling Marketplace Leaders is running a scholarship campaign during the month of April, in an effort to raise $30,000 in 30 days to provide scholarships to pastors, church leaders, and marketplace ministers through our partners across Africa and Nicaragua.  These scholarships allow these leaders to attend DML workshops and trainings and access the on-going support and resources to implement workplace ministries in their church as well as mentoring for business leaders. 

That is a goal of $1000/day and I am praying the goal will be met so that we can continue to spread the message of a healthy theology of work! 

In 2021, we were able to train almost 3,000 pulpit pastors and 6,400 marketplace ministers, many of whom paid fees to cover the costs of these trainings but for those 10% who had financial challenges, these scholarship funds covered their expenses, which allowed for more people to hear this good news!  

It only costs about $20/person to have a pulpit pastor/church leader attend our foundational workshop and about $50/person for a business owner to go through our twelve-week workshop. And we know that these trainings will help churches equip the priesthood of believers to be the church every day of the week, and will also increase profit, household income, and create jobs in the businesses!

We can't do this without your support!  As a donor, you become a "gospel patron" on the DML team.  

During April, we will be sharing a number of brief videos that our partners have sent of pulpit pastors and marketplace ministers who share the importance of understanding that God works, that we were created to work, and that work can be an act of worship. Here is a brief video from our partner in Burundi.  The language that is being spoken is Kirundi, but the subtitles are in English.

Please consider joining us in April by giving toward this goal!  Click here for more information.

As I stuffed envelopes for this campaign, I had to chuckle over the picture below, sent to me by someone in the fundraising arena.  This feels true at times!  But God is so good in calling us to link arms together to combine the three resources (time, treasure and talent) that God has given each of us in order for us to work together for the flourishing of humankind and creation, to the glory of God.  Amen?