When Missionaries Starve

It’s something that’s caused the rise and fall of kingdoms. It’s confused the most erudite of the educated and been understood by the most childlike of children.

It’s been cherished and treasured by some, burned and ridiculed by others, and it’s absolutely necessary to your emotional health while living and serving abroad.

It is the Word of God.

The more pastoral counseling I do with cross-cultural workers and missionaries – and the more I get to know myself – the more I believe in the Power, Beauty, and absolute Necessity of the Word of God.


Many of us study the Bible as part of our jobs. We read it, parse it, argue about it, and teach it. But sometimes, in the middle of all of that, we forget to eat it.

We end up trying to feed ourselves with yesterday’s manna, and we starve.

We need to return to the slow chewing of the Word. For our own sustenance.

We need so much more than yesterday’s manna, so much more than the gorging of conferences or the regurgitations of famous teachers.

We need time with God and his Word. Today.

Each bite will not be Instagrammable. Each bite will not be magnificent and earth-shattering and memorable, and that’s as it should be, because sometimes you just need the calories.

Regular, non-crisis reading of the Word may seem to make zero difference in your life today or even tomorrow. But I promise you, in a year or ten or fifty, the consistent ingesting of the Word will make all the difference.


The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.
Psalm 119:130


So let’s remember what we already know: the Word of God is Powerful, and Beautiful, and Necessary. And after that, let’s consider a couple of cautions.


The Word of God is Powerful
An American friend of mine recently visited North Korea as a tourist. I don’t know if you read the news much, but North Korea and the United States aren’t exactly buddy-buddy.

He told me he brought his Bible with him, and you know what? They let him in. They let him in with his English Bible, but they inventoried it at the border, and they made sure that he knew that when he left North Korea, that Bible better leave with him.

Why? Because they recognized what we often forget: the Word of God is powerful, transforming nations and families and hearts. The Word of God empowers the weak and gives hope to the hopeless. And hopeful people are dangerous people.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Hebrews 4:12


The Word of God is Beautiful
It is beautiful because it shows us Christ. The Scriptures reveal the heart and mind of our glorious Creator. In the Scriptures, we see his character and his wisdom. And through the Scriptures, our Father reveals his plans from ages past and into eternity.

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
Isaiah 40:8


Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Matthew 24:35

The Word of God is more desirable than USD and sweeter than high-fructose corn syrup. It magnifies his magnificence, redirecting and refocusing us on the Almighty.

Imagine what would happen if we consistently opened the Word and invited the Spirit of God to show us the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father. It would be amazing. It would be absolutely beautiful.


The Word of God is Necessary

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.
Psalm 19:7-8

Too often, when we want revival or wisdom or joy or insight, we don’t look to the Scriptures. In fact, the Word is typically the last place we look. If we’re looking for wisdom or insight, we’re likely to Google something. If we’re looking for refreshment or joy, we’re likely to ogle something. (And I’m not just talking about porn; there are many, many other things we stare long at, believing that “that thing would solve my problems or at least make me feel a bit better.”)

But there is a better way, and Jesus knew it.

Jesus spent a lot of time in the Hebrew Scriptures, directly quoting from every book in the Pentateuch, and many others besides.

In what seems to me to be a fascinating move for the Son of God, Jesus refused to solely rely on a direct connection with the Father for “fresh revelation.”

Particularly during the hard times, Jesus relied on the Scriptures. This is sobering.

You know the story, Jesus is tempted three times, and three times he responds, “It is written.”

 “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4


The Word is Necessary because God loves to echo himself
Have you ever heard people use the God Card? I think it happens a lot in our line of work. Folks say, “Oh, God told me to do this,” or “God wants me to do that.”

Sometimes, God really does lead people (amen!) and speak to people (praise God!), and sometimes, people hear him wrong. In my pastoral counseling practice, I often lead people in listening or healing prayer, where we bring issues before God and invite him to speak truth and healing to their specific situation. But how can we be sure it’s God?

It’s a valid question and it’s one we must ask. I answer my clients by telling them that we’re listening for the echo. We’re asking, “Where has God said this before?”

Here’s my simple two-part test in determining whether or not God has spoken:

  1. Is it Biblical?
  2. Is the fruit good?

If there is Biblical support for what the person thinks God just said, and if the fruit in their life (more peace, a desire to forgive, increased love, repentance, etc.) is good, then I’m ok with saying they heard from God.

But before we can answer the question, “Is it Biblical?”, we’ve got to spend some time in the Scriptures. Before we can say, “Yeah, this sounds like God,” we need to hear regularly what God sounds like.


CAUTION: Two things to watch out for
Some folks read the Scriptures without the Holy Spirit. Others want a relationship with the Holy Spirit but without the Scriptures.

Both are dangerous.

I grew up in a tradition that was all about the Word. We taught it and knew it and loved it, but I don’t think I ever heard anyone mention the Holy Spirit. That’s an absolute travesty!

On the flip side, I come across folks who are desperate for a prophetic word from God, passed down through a prophet or gifted teacher. They’re hungry to hear from God, but they’re not opening their Bibles. That too is terribly sad.

So can I just say this, if you’re hungry for a special word from the Lord, but you’re not spending much time in the Word, you’re not as hungry as you think you are.


Like newborn babies [you should] long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may be nurtured and grow in respect to salvation.
1 Peter 2:2 (Amp)


The Scriptures teach us what God sounds like. They help us to hear his voice, see his hands, taste his wine. The Scriptures show us his character as Warrior and Lamb.

The Scriptures, while certainly not a fourth member of the Trinity, help us to know and love and serve the God who Is.

May we be a people who praise God for the gift of the Scriptures. May we be a people who view the words of the King with deep reverence and overwhelming joy.

May we be a people, a diaspora even, who love to come home and sit together in the Father’s house, under the Word of God, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, through the blood of the Son.

Send Someone Else

Do you ever have days you wonder why God sent you?

You doubt in the dark what you knew in the light?
Questions about whether we are making an impact set in.
As you contemplate your next big endeavor, you feel like saying…

“Please, Not Me!”

You are in good company.

This is exactly the same response Moses had when God told him His plan of setting Israel free from slavery in Egypt.

When Moses was called, his response was less than stellar.

“Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ (Exodus 4:1)

So God gives him some visual aids to convince the Egyptians (and Moses himself). He turned his staff to a snake and his hand leprous. God went so far as to even promise a future sign of the Nile turning to blood. All this is follows the calling at the burning bush!

What more do you need, Mo?

“They will not believe me or listen to my voice,”

Moses is the picture of reluctance.


“But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”  (Exodus 4:10-13)

Moses reminds God of his lack of qualifications.
He lists the reasons he cannot communicate to rulers of nations.
Should the exit appear, Moses is ready to head towards it.

“Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

God reminds Moses who is in charge.

How many times do we feel as if we can not communicate well enough for the job?
After hours and hours of language class, do we feel like God sent the wrong person?
Upon giving yet another unproductive message, do we question our ability to speak in terms which change hearts and minds?

Perhaps Moses was struggling with unworthiness or guilt from his past. He did kill a man after all.

God doesn’t give Moses an exit plan, he holds him to it.

He does provide Moses with strategies, a partner in action, and more direction in accomplishing the mission.

Feeling overwhelmed or resistant is not reason for disqualification.

Rather, it puts you in good company.

God seems to like reluctant leaders. Moses, as he walked through his resistance, became one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen, leading a million people out of slavery.

This is especially true when God is calling us to something bigger than ourselves and our own abilities.

People who would be tempted to say “send someone else”, will tend to rely on God more than an over-confident, self-reliant individual.

Reluctance in leadership or in mission is often a sign we are in the right place! It means we realize the enormity of the task.

Photo By Dominik Martin

Missions and Money: A Never Ending Tension

The Bible is full of truth.

Sometimes, the challenge lies in which blend of truth to apply. Many of these tensions surround missions and money.

Let me present three areas missionaries deal with.

1. Raising support as a missionary or minister.
2. Being generous to the poor and needy.
3. Saving money for your future, children’s education, and ultimately an inheritance. 

All these areas are supported by a multitude of Scripture. We cannot pick and choose our favorite, but rather find a way to apply an aspect of all these truths.

Some rights reserved by epSos.de
Some rights reserved by epSos.de

Here is a small sampling of the truth Scripture presents in these areas. The Bible talks about money often, we should take notice! (All verses from the English Standard Version)

1. Raising support as a missionary or minister.

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”  (1 Timothy 5:17-18)

“In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14)

“One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” (Galatians 6:6)

2. Being generous to the poor and needy.

“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:11)

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)

“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

3. Saving money for the future of you and your family.

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” (Proverbs 13:22)

“Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.” (Proverbs 13:11)

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

I realize these verses are but a sampling of the dilemma we face. It would be easy to dismiss them saying, “Yes but…”

As believers and missionaries, we tell people they can’t pick and choose which truths to apply. Neither can we.

As missionaries we need to have a degree of application stemming from all these truths in our life.

I would go so far to say all missionaries need to wrestle with issues of financial support, being generous to the poor, and saving for our future. Neglecting any of these is neglecting a part of the Word of God.

I have witnessed missionaries who ignore truth in these areas. Some are now older and wondering where they will be since they have lived a life of trusting God to provide.

Trusting God is true. But trusting God is one truth. We cannot take it at the expense of others, including providing for our future.

My goal is not to make absolute statements, rather to provoke “A Life Overseas” discussion.

Would you help us learn from each other by answering one or both of the following questions:

For a moment of honesty….which one of these is most difficult for you? (Just because we are in ministry, does not mean being generous to the poor is always our easiest one. True Confession. It is the hardest for me!)

What is your experience in dealing with blending these truths? How do you reconcile them?

Ready! Set! Discuss!

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog: NoSuperHeroes   Twitter: @lautsbaugh   Facebook: NoSuperHeroes

The Joy of Giving


In 1 Chronicles 29, David prays a prayer over the new temple in Jerusalem. In verse 14 he says, “Who am I, and who are my people that we should be able to give like this?”

He was mystified that the creator of everything would deem him and his people worthy of giving anything. He goes on to say, “I have seen with joy how willingly your people have given to you.”

There is no question that giving evokes a deep sense of internal joy. David understood this and was experiencing it when he prayed those words.

I work for an organization that builds houses for people that have earned them by volunteering in their community. In order for us to build a house, the person has to own or be paying on their land. Amparo is a mom who volunteered all of her hours (well over 200) only to find out that she did not truly own her land. She thought she did, she had been paying a little bit on it every month, but something was wrong with the paper work and she didn’t legally own it. She had already volunteered her hours and the land only cost $180, about two months wages. We decided to gather up some money and drive down to city hall and get this straightened out.

On our way to city hall, I got a phone call from one of her neighbors. Her neighborhood had taken up an offering and was just $20 short. The neighbor wanted to know if she could get a ride to her pastor’s house to see if the church could help out. It took a few extra days, but Amparo was living in her new house within the month and her neighbors all came to help her build it.

It would have been easy for us to simply pay the $180 and move on. It would have been the noble thing to do and it would have felt really good. Without knowing it, we almost robbed Amparo’s neighbors of the joy of giving.

When we do things that a community is capable of doing for itself, we are robbing people of joy. 

No matter what aspect of overseas work you are involved with, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do the people I serve experience the joy of giving?
  • What actions of mine could send the message that their gifts aren’t enough?
  • Have I ever discouraged someone from giving (on purpose or not)?
  • How am I encouraging people to give?

A new measure of success you could start using is: How much are the people I serve giving?

If I saw some old widow trying to give away everything she has, I’d probably sit her down and convince her that giving away 100% of her money was bad stewardship. Jesus commended a woman for doing just that.

The joy of giving is such an essential part of maturity and development. Be extremely careful that you aren’t robbing anyone, or any community, of this joy.

What are some things we do that may be unintentionally robbing people of the joy of giving?

– Dustin Patrick,  1MISSION in Mexico & Central America

Blog: GoodMud | Twitter: @DustinPatrick

Sunday’s Inspiration

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Your Children

– Max Lucado, in response to this week’s school shooting in America
Read the above and more from Christian Post  here


“God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. Its a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. . .

When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. . . .

Why?  Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return.”

– Lamentations 3, The Message


May this Sunday find you resting from worry, waiting  in hope for Messiah, and tasting the reality of Immanuel.

Struggling with something in particular? Experiencing anything deeply good? We’d love to hear about it.  You can comment here. 

Sunday’s Inspiration

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?

Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me— watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

– Jesus, The Message, Matthew 11


The Middle Mile

“To most of us, the most important parts of a journey are the start and finish. But the part of a trip that really tests the traveler is neither the beginning nor the end but the middle mile.

Anybody can be enthusiastic at the start. The long road invites you, you are fresh and ready to go. It is easy to sing then.

And it is easy to be exuberant at the finish. You may be footsore and weary but you have arrived, the goal is reached, the crown is won. It is not difficult to be happy then.

But on that dreary middle mile when the glory of the start has died away and you are too far from the goal to be inspired by it, on the tedious middle mile when life settles down to its regular routine and monotony–there is the stretch that tires out the traveler. If you can sing along the middle mile, you’ve learned one of life’s most difficult lessons.  It proves, as nothing else can, that character. And it gets least attention from the world because there is nothing very dramatic about it.

It’s a hard mile, for it’s too far to go back and a long way to go on. But if you can keep a song within and a smile without on this dreariest stretch of life, if you can learn to transform it into a paradise of its own, you have mastered the greatest secret of victorious living, the problem of the middle mile.”

-Vance Havner, as found in The Family Book of Christian Values


As a way to build community that matters here, take a moment and leave a comment letting us know of something you are struggling with or something we can pray for you about. Happy Sunday, friends.

Sunday Inspiration. Sunday Prayer.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life– your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering.

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

– The Message, Romans 12


So, today, on this Sunday, how can our community pray for you? Leave a comment with a prayer request, and we’ll intentionally lift you up this week. If you would, read the prayer request from the person who commented right above yours. Either pray for them on your own, or write them a short prayer in the comment that you leave. This is a practical way we can all offer spiritual encouragement to each other, even, literally, separated by the continents.