Small Thoughts: giving some stray ideas a place to land

Sometimes I cough up small thoughts. You know, the one-liners or one-paragraphers that end up floating, never finding a place to lay their pretty little heads?

Well, here are a few small thoughts. Some are text, some are short videos, all are simple. They range from post-fall marriage to emotional nomenclature, from guilting people into evangelism to a lullaby for spiritual warfare. Hopefully, there will be a little something for everyone.

Happy Monday!

Feelings Wheel
Sometimes, like Groot, our vocabulistics are limited. Especially when it comes to emotions. (If that makes no sense, don’t worry about it. But watch out for raccoons.)

In any case, a lot of my clients find this tool extremely helpful in identifying specific emotions and feelings. Start in the center and see if there’s a more accurate word for whatever it is you’re feeling. Note: THIS IS ALSO HELPFUL WITH TEENAGERS. : )

It’s easier to deal with my feelings (or someone else’s feelings) when I identify what it actually is that I’m (they’re) feeling.

With special thanks to Geoffrey Roberts. Visit his site for a printable version.


Circles of Intimacy
Regarding boundaries, Jesus, and the dangerous idea that we should all be BFFs. It’s a six-minute video.

These ideas are especially important for missions teams.


“New Guilt”
Why do we invite people to Jesus, telling them their guilt and shame will be taken away, and then, when they come to Jesus, immediately burden them with NEW GUILT by telling them that their failure to evangelize will cause the blood of the lost to pour all over their heads? That’s crazy!

There’s got to be a better way to mobilize cross-cultural missions (which is a great idea!) than saying, “Look, your guilt is gone. You’re free! Now here, hold this NEW GUILT while you ponder the eternal destiny of everyone in the world and how it’ll all be your fault if they don’t get to heaven.”

I think Paul’s on to something when he simply answers, “For Christ’s love compels us…”


Marriage Post-Fall and Pre-Christ
“You will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)

Many marriages continue to operate under the curse paradigm, with an ongoing fight for control. The woman yearns for control and maybe freedom, while the man, simply put, rules over her. Societal norms, physical power, and even religious pressure, may be used by the man who seeks to dominate.

But this type of marriage is post-fall and pre-Christ.

When Christ rolls back the curse, this is part of it. And any echoes of control or dominance (by the man or the woman) are echoes of the fall. The curse continues.

But it doesn’t have to.


17 years of marriage, and this is all we’ve got
From our house to yours, here are eleven articles about love, marriage, and sex.


The two questions that will help people feel loved, heard, and truly seen.
If we can learn to ask these two questions (and deeply care about the answers), we’ll be a step closer to loving people like Jesus loves people. This is a three-minute video.


Spiritual Warfare Lullaby
Sometimes I get tired of the fight. I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes I do, so I wrote this lullaby. Perhaps it’ll remind you of the Truth. And for the record, if someone with more skill would like to appropriate this and improve it, go for it. God bless!

Greater is he who is in me,
Than the one who’s in the world

There is no power in Heav’n or hell or earth
That can ever separate me
From the love of God our Father
From the love of God above

Like a Good Shepherd he leads me
Besides waters still and calm
In the presence of all of my enemies
Still the presence of God above

I will not fear the terror
Of the day or the night
For I know my Father is with me
In the dark he is my Light.

All the hosts of Heaven are shouting
At the victory he’s won
All of Hell continues to tremble
At the love of God above


Airplane photo by Tom Rogerson on Unsplash

The Ineligible Bachelor Overseas

By Dave Parker

I began what I thought would be a long career as a single male missionary in 2002. My years of education and preparation got me through many challenges, but when I arrived, I was not ready for the impact of cultural gender roles.

I soon learned I was an enigma in the culture. At the age of 32, most men are married and have children. So to arrive single, white and rich (according to their economy) set me up for some interesting interactions. It was assumed I could bless my neighborhood. It was taken for granted in the markets I could pay more. And everyone assumed I needed help finding a wife.

One of the staples in West Africa is rice and sauce. Vendors typically place themselves under large mango trees. They have spent the morning cooking rice and sauce over wood fires. For the equivalent of 25 cents, you could purchase a heaping plate of rice and sauce. So being poor (by American standards), it was a great bargain.

There was a mango tree outside the gate where I worked. Each day, the nationals who were constructing our new office building would gather to eat. I often joined them, but I noticed the guys were going out earlier and earlier, while I ate at noon. Often the rice and sauce was gone when I arrived. What happened next should have been a yellow flag.

The vendor began keeping a plate for me so I could eat at noon. This meant the two of us were alone while I ate — a cultural signal for a different kind of relationship. Her French was poor, and I barely knew more than greetings in her language. We smiled at each other a lot.

I came to realize she wanted to marry me, despite the fact that she was already married. I met her husband one day, and he seemed to be OK with that arrangement. She began pressuring me with family concerns. I discussed all of this with my supervisor, and it was clear I wouldn’t be able to marry any Africans. I explained this to my new friend. She soon left to be near her aging mother, and I learned an important lesson in culture and communication.

I had other marriage proposals, sometimes as direct as an old man pointing at some women nearby and asking whether I wanted to marry either of them. Sometimes when I was out with colleagues, nationals would hint that I should marry one of them. I handled these as delicately as I could.

I tell this story to illustrate the importance of understanding the culture of those you serve. Learn about cultural cues and taboos you will likely encounter from your experienced teammates. Knowledge in advance is far better than learning from a mistake or misunderstanding later.


Dave Parker served as a missionary for three years in West Africa, managing a print shop that produced Scripture and literacy materials in a dozen languages. He has also served for ten years in the Communications department of Pioneer Bible Translators and Seed Company. Dave and his wife are the proud servants of their golden retriever, Jenny. He lives in Ft Worth, Texas, with his family and his drums.