Ask questions, ask questions, and ask more questions: Lessons learned from Cross Cultural Ministry

Cultures different from our own can be intimidating.

People from different cultural perspectives may think differently from us, act differently from us, and even value different things than we do.

But goodness God does beautiful things to each of us, and our relationships when we step outside of our own culture for a moment and enter into another.

Missionaries Christel Neuendorf and Rachel Jaseph join  me in conversation to talk about lessons learned from cross cultural ministry.

I sat down and expected a discussion of language and communication struggles, learning where to go, and what to do in a new land, instead my heart and mind were opened to the reality that

culture is across the globe, but also right outside my door.

I think the lessons in today’s podcast will serve us all well, not only for ministry and knowing our neighbors outside of the United States, but for the work we have to do with meeting our neighbors everywhere.

A few of my favorite lessons you’ll hear include:

When in doubt, ask questions.

Often we think of poverty in financial terms, but there is also the reality of poverty of community.

Relationships first. Always.

When not in doubt, ask questions.

Be present with the people God puts in front of you.

Get out, go into your community and find out more, learn more, grow more.

Ask more questions.

Written in Iron Ink: Cross Cultural Ministry –

You can find Rachel and Christel and more information about their ministry at the following links:

https://www.lcms.org/neuendorf

https://www.facebook.com/sendjamesandchristel/

New Year, New Word: Beautiful

About this time of the year I find myself in a rut.

I take down my Christmas tree. All the sparkly presents are unwrapped and put away. I sweep up the living room and sit down, mourning the loss of the twinkling lights.

It’s cold. It’s windy. And everything seems kind of boring if I’m honest.

Every year I know these grey days are going to come, so I choose a word for the coming year, giving the days an extra dose of creativity and focus. I ask myself sometime mid-summer, “What am I going to work on? What do I want to be different in my life? What could be improved? Where would I like to be more intentional, gain some clarity?”

Past year’s words have included:

Warm

Brave

Hope

Fearlessly wrong

Sometimes I cheat with two words. I don’t like rules. 😉

This year, nothing came to me, so I just let it set. And set. And set.

Still nothing.

How in the world was I going to get through the January rut when I already lacked inspiration in late summer?

Then, we got on a plane and headed to Spain.

One day, we drove up a mountain in fog so thick that I thought for sure we would be run off the road by a tiny little European coupe that wanted to come down the mountain using the same lane.

We saw some stuff, headed down the mountain, watched some Star Trek, and went to bed.

The next day, the fog lifted, and we made the decision to head back up the mountain. When we reached the top, we got out of the car and my jaw dropped.

It was beautiful.

Mountains all around us, trees, dew, sunshine – all in the same place we had missed it the night before, veiled from our eyes.

I realized that this is what I wanted to focus on: Beauty.

I wrote a book about it, so you would think the journey would be over. But that day on the mountain, I understood that this was just the beginning.

I wanted to see beautiful like this in my every day. I wanted to stop and enjoy it. To breath it in, rather than pass it by.

Laughing on the top of a mountain with our friends about fog adventures, guardrails, and the cross-cultural similarities in school field trips, I remembered things I think I had forgotten just a little bit:

Life is Beautiful.

Conversation is Beautiful.

This world is Beautiful.

I want to see those truths every day – not just in my rejoicing, but in my rut as well.

I want to see it through the violence, through the mess, through lonely, and through the mundane.

This year, my word for the year is beautiful.

I want to focus intentionally on all that God has made and done and saved and just how beautiful that is:

I am beautiful.
This world, with all its heartbreak and pain…is beautiful.
Relationship, in its complications and mess…is beautiful.
This day, rain, sun, or shadow…is beautiful.

Join me on this journey of seeing beautiful, fixing our perspective together on the One who truly makes everything, everything beautiful in His time. Where do you think we often miss beauty in this life? Tell us about them:

Name one, two, three, or more things that strike you as beautiful today and share them in the comments.

Download this Beautiful Reminders page.

List three things every day that are beautiful around you. These can be things of physical beauty, or ideas, people, experiences, anything.

Study with me! Journey through Altogether Beautiful with me. Preorder from Concordia Publishing House , Amazon  or wherever you like to get your books. There are samples at the Concordia link and look for free stuff details to come.

I can just feel it…

this year is going to be beautiful.

An I Love My Shepherd Christmas Present

Merry Christmas, dear readers!

Isn’t this the day of days? Christmas amazes me by the sheer fact that we have a God who comes to earth to be with us, to walk with us. He spent 33 years getting to know us, our sorrows, and our doubts.

Of course He knows all and is in all.

Of course He never even needed to draw closer…

but He did.

He came to us.

Just as He comes to us every day in His Word and through our relationships with one another; as the Holy Spirit moves and does His thing changing hearts and lives.

Yay!

Even in a season of grieving, even in a season of blah, even in a season of busy- that is the promise we hold tight to.

This Christmas I’d like to give you something to help you to cling to that promise. Yes, baby Jesus is the best gift, but He’s not the only gift. 😉

Christmas Day only, please download the Kindle versions of my print studies, Think on These and Casting Stones for free.

Who doesn’t love free?

Here are the links for each book:

Think on These: A Study of Philippians 4:8

Think on These has 5-10 minute daily reads. It is meant to be short and sweet, but allow you to linger in the Word with questions and contemplation if you desire. It’s good for individual or group study. There are YouTube Videos to compliment your study if desired.

Casting Stones: A Study of Ecclesiastes 3

Casting Stones came out of a time when I was struggling and I think you can see, hear, and feel the struggle in this study of the seasons of life. This is a longer text, still with five days of study a week, but slightly longer daily reads for more contemplation. Color outside the lines! No need to follow the study each day. Pick it up, put it down, repeat. 😉

Merry Christmas!

And of course, a Happy New Year!

Things to look for in the New Year at I Love My Shepherd:

Our 8-week Spring Online Study -My Redeemer Lives!

***February 19-April 13 (Are you marking your calendar?)***

Podcast series that include:

The Truth about Mental Health – Anxiety, Grief, Suicide, and more

Ministry Moments – Happy Hour, Middle Schoolers, and more

Written in Iron Ink – Physical Wellbeing and Weightloss, Tending Marriage, Rest, and more

The print and Kindle versions of He Calls Me Loved: A Study of Isaiah

***June 2018***

and…

Altogether Beautiful: A Study of the Song of Songs

***release date – April 2018***

This study will be a full color layout, video driven study, available through Concordia Publishing House. Find more information on this study in the weeks to come! There will be pre-order freebies, a series of bonus articles related to beauty, relationships, and the study, along with all kinds of fun stuff in the New Year.

Now back to Christmas:

To Him who always give freely to us of grace and mercy…a very blessed Christmas to you all!