Caleb and Elizabeth working together

Photo of the Week – 28 November 2017

This week was a pretty quiet week. No real adventures out of the house. Just a week of school and admin work and living life in the beautiful place.

This week’s photo is Caleb and Elizabeth doing Caleb’s handwriting together.

Several years ago, we found this great handwriting curriculum called A Reason for Handwriting. Each workbook is a different Bible theme, but the work pattern is basically the same. Each day is different words or letters, and the last day is a coloring page where the student writes out the Bible verse they learned that week and colors a border around it. The kids really enjoy these books.

Caleb and Elizabeth working together

Caleb and Elizabeth working together

Lent 2013: Caleb and the Dragons

As we have done throughout previous Lenten and Advent seasons, we are again blogging through the Lectionary readings in this Lenten season. This year, however, due to our travels in Central Asia, we have asked a number of guests to blog for us. These guests are individuals who are influential in our lives and work. We're honored to share this space with them-and with you–in this season of reflection.

A reading from the Psalms

Live under the protection of God Most High and stay in the shadow of God All-Powerful. Then you will say to the Lord, “You are my fortress, my place of safety; you are my God, and I trust you.”

The Lord Most High is your fortress. Run to him for safety, and no terrible disasters will strike you or your home. God will command his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will carry you in their arms, and you won't hurt your feet on the stones. You will overpower the strongest lions and the most deadly snakes. The Lord says, “If you love me and truly know who I am, I will rescue you and keep you safe. When you are in trouble, call out to me. I will answer and be there to protect and honor you. You will live a long life and see my saving power.”

— Psalm 91:1, 2, 9-16 (CEV)

Anyone who knows my son, Caleb, knows of his great affection for dragons (both fire-breathing actual dragons and dinosaurs). He loves them, and has for a couple of years now.

The other day in our worship time with our team here in Central Asia, we were tasked to draw out what we felt God was saying about the city or nation in which we are living. I watched as Caleb very meticulously selected pencils and highlighters and markers and worked on his drawing. After some time, we shared what each of our drawings represented. Here is Caleb's drawing, and below is the explanation.

Caleb's Prayer Picture

Caleb's Prayer Picture

Caleb explained that the various colored lines in the outer edges of the picture were dragons. In the center of the picture inside of the “walls” were the people in this city who followed Jesus. The walls were protecting them from the dragons.

As I listened to him explain this picture, and then as various of our team members prayed about the imagery, I kept coming back to today's passage. He who dwells in the fortress that is our God will be protected from the strongest lions and deadliest snakes.

All manner of evil exists in the world. In this part of the world, the danger of following Jesus is extremely real. All sorts of risks are taken by individuals and families who say, “I will follow İsa (Jesus).” Risks that could range from being ostracized from family or community to death.

And here, in the pen of a four-year old boy, we are reminded that in the midst of the dragons there is a place of refuge. There is a place where the righteous can run and be safe.

It is important, however, that we view safety through a different lens. It isn't enough to assume that safety means there will never be a “successful” attack of the enemy. Safety is not God airlifting us out of the places of danger. Rather safety is knowing that as we walk through those places of danger, He is walking with us. He has parachuted into the midst of it and is walking with us through the heat of the battle. It is in this journey with that we find ourselves in the refuge of.

In this Lenten journey, we find ourselves like the believers in Caleb's drawing. We are surrounded by the dragons on every side, yet we rest in the midst. Our table set before us in the presence of our enemies. And, here in this time, we find our Lord not airlifting us out of it, but rather walking along with us through the heat of it.

As we continue on our journey between the manager and the cross, let us not forget those who truly are in the heat of it. Please, stop and pray–even now–for those who are risking family, friends, jobs, and life itself for the beauty of following the Messiah. Pray, not that they would be airlifted out, but rather that God would parachute in and walk with them through the fire. And that in their walking they will be ever bringing their friends and family closer to Messiah, and would be transforming their communities into refuges from the dragons.


Advent 2012: Preparing The Path: Confident and Joyful Expectation

As we did throughout Advent 2011 and Lent 2012, we are blogging our way through the Advent 2012 Lectionary Readings. We love this time of year, and sharing with you in this way. Our overarching theme during this season is “Preparing the Path” and our prayer is that as we march together toward the manger, we will prepare the way for Emanuel.

A reading from the Gospel of Luke.

John spoke to the crowds coming to be baptized by him. He said, “You are like a nest of poisonous snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming of God’s anger? Produce fruit that shows you have turned away from your sins. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father.’ I tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham even from these stones. The ax is already lying at the roots of the trees. All the trees that don’t produce good fruit will be cut down. They will be thrown into the fire.”

“Then what should we do?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “If you have extra clothes, you should share with those who have none. And if you have extra food, you should do the same.”

Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” John told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

John replied, “Don’t force people to give you money. Don’t bring false charges against people. Be happy with your pay.”

The people were waiting. They were expecting something. They were all wondering in their hearts if John might be the Christ.

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But One who is more powerful than I am will come. I’m not good enough to untie the straps of his snadals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His pitchfork is in his hand to toss the straw away from his threshing floor. He will gather the wheat into his storeroom. But he will burn up the husks with fire that can’t be put out.”

John said many other things to warn the people. He also preached the good news to them.

— Luke 3:7-18 (NIRV)

“What should we do?”

The question of the ages. We’ve heard what you said, and now we want to know, “What should we do?”

And, then, John prepares the path for the coming Messiah. He gives them an answer that leads to a great sacrifice.


You can’t wear two coats at the same time, so give one away.

Don’t cheat people out of money.

Don’t bring false charges.

Don’t live your life for yourself.

Here’s the voice in the wilderness, the son of Zecariah–the faithful servant–preparing the path for the coming Messiah. The King is coming, he would say, and when He comes so does the Kingdom.

Proclaiming the message of the Kingdom to a people expecting–hoping–for something. Hoping for rescue.

Hope. Confident and joyful expectation in the goodness of God.

Hope. Knowing that God is for you and in that knowing anticipating that God will act out of His goodness–His Character and Nature.

And, out of that place of Hope, the people wonder, “Is John the Messiah?”

That crazy man? Wearing camel skin? Gnawing on grasshoppers? Him? Messiah? Could it be?

But, John, almost reading their minds, tells them in no uncertain terms, “I’m not the Messiah. I’m not even worthy of untying His sandals.”

I wonder what the people were thinking after that. Here they are in a place of extreme hope. A place of confidently and joyfully expecting the goodness of God–the Messiah. A place of hoping that their rescue was nigh.

John, continues on with his message–the good news. The news that while he wasn’t the Messiah, He was indeed coming soon.

Here we are, two thousand years later, proclaiming that same good news. The King has come, and, with Him, He has brought Kingdom.

Yet, we live in the place of tension. We live in that same place of hope. That place between the now and the not yet. We live in confident and joyful expectation of the goodness of God.

We live in the place of hope that God is walking through the valley of the shadow of death with us. We’re not walking alone. We walk with Emmanuel. Because, we know, that God is truly with us. And, as the song says, “If our God is with us, then what can stand against us?”


Caleb at the Ancient Walls of Constantinople

Caleb at the Ancient Walls of Constantinople