PARACLETOS BLOG

Time out…

Time out…

We are going to be out of the country for the next couple weeks visiting BAM missionaries in Belize, so this blog will go on hold until we return. Looking forward to reconnecting with you after May 6.        

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What is Spiritual Anemia?

What is Spiritual Anemia?

Would you be able to tell by looking at someone if they were anemic? Unless you are a medical professional, probably not. The same is true for detecting spiritual anemia. Apart from a general run-down look (which could be due to any number of causes), there are no...

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Spiritual Anemia

Spiritual Anemia

Doing should flow from being. When a missionary becomes detached from the One who is life, meaningful ministry evaporates. The key to fruit bearing is abiding; the quality of the fruit is directly related to the consistency of the abiding. What happens when...

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Chronic Transition

Chronic Transition

We all go through transitions, but cross-cultural workers go through more than the average person. And the nature of their transitions is often much more profound than what you or I go through. For many missionaries, transition is a chronic reality. Some people hate...

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Earning the Right to Ask

Earning the Right to Ask

You can't ask just anyone about the condition of their soul. You will likely get either a "mind your own business" type of response or a blank look. You must have permission to ask personal questions like that. So if you care enough about a missionary to truly know...

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The Many Faces of Stress

The Many Faces of Stress

Is your missionary friend overly stressed? How would you know? There are many types of stress, and they aren't all bad. When a missionary is dealing with detrimental stress, you won't always know it. Cross-cultural workers learn to blend into their surrounding...

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The Promise of Paradox

The Promise of Paradox

The essence of paradox is that two seemingly contradictory things are actually both true. When recalling the good and the not-so-good aspects of any given experience, our tendency is to minimize one side of the equation: The rain caused us to cancel our picnic, but we...

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The Problem of Paradox

The Problem of Paradox

Paradox. Or as we tell young children when trying to explain the concept, a "pair of ducks." There is a "yeah duck" and a "yuck duck" - both of which could be used to represent the same event. And there you have the essence of a paradox: two seemingly contradictory...

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Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Six

Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Six

Unhealthy scenario #6: Logical Fallacies* Bigger is better. If a little is good, a lot would be even more so. Time is of the essence... There are so many variations of American culture's idolization of productivity, and most are far from healthy. When they are...

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Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Five

Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Five

Unhealthy scenario #5: Tendencies* Binary thinking. Compartmentalization. Artificial constructs. These are tendencies that inhibit spiritual, emotional, and relational health. An example? How about when we divide things into sacred and secular categories. Separating...

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Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Four

Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Four

Unhealthy scenario #4: Delusions* To deny the affects that our past has on our present behavior is delusional. We are all the sum total of our past experiences. Good, bad, helpful, hurtful - what we have lived through impacts what we will live through. In the realm of...

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Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Three

Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Three

Unhealthy scenario #3: Dying to the wrong things* Part of being in relationship with the living God is having him implant desires within our hearts. For missionaries, those desires include discipling various people groups. No global worker would want or expect to die...

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Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Two

Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part Two

Unhealthy scenario #2: Ignoring negative emotions Emotions are a part of being human, and  every human experiences all the emotions. Missionaries are human. Normal humans. That means that they experience the same emotions the rest of us do, and that includes sadness,...

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Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part One

Emotionally Healthy Missionaries, Part One

Unhealthy scenario #1: Running things for God to keep from running into God Some missionaries use ministry busyness as a way to avoid dealing with things God has identified in them that need work. This is one manifestation of a "life over God" paradigm that can so...

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In Suspense and Incomplete

In Suspense and Incomplete

Today's thought is compliments of Teilhard de Chardin. Good words for shepherds as well as those they tend. Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. Your ideas mature gradually--let them...

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Something and Anything

Something and Anything

Doing something is almost always better than doing nothing But doing anything is not often as good as doing something. Just about anything you do to encourage and care for a missionary will be helpful. Doing something that includes an understanding of their needs is...

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Progress and consolidation

Progress and consolidation

Sometimes, the wisest move is not to move at all. Because there is so much more work to do than most missionaries have time in which to do it, they are tempted to spread themselves too thin. They spend more time on the work of the Lord and less time with the Lord of...

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Connection and Production

Connection and Production

Help wanted: Vice President in charge of production at The Amalgamated Futility Company. Who would apply for that job??? Some quotes stick with you decades after you first hear them. Like the one above. Or like this one: Merely because we are busy, or even skilled,...

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Work and Rest

Work and Rest

We are not computers. No surprise, hopefully. Kinda difficult having a relationship with a machine. We were crafted and created by a relational being. He did not make us to be a collection of on/off switches. Nor does our world consist of mostly either/or options....

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Performance and Perfection

Performance and Perfection

There are two things that will ruin any ministry: a performance orientation perfectionism The desire to work, and to do good work, is not bad, but it can get out of hand. Our (North American) culture will ensure that it does. The needs on any given mission field...

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Come on vs Go on

Come on vs Go on

It's a key principle of leadership. It's also a well-known truth in advertising (you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar). But what do either of those have to do with shepherding God's global workers? Well, it's actually quite simple: sheep follow shepherds....

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Work of the Lord vs Lord of the work

Work of the Lord vs Lord of the work

We have, all of us, been invited to be co-laborers with the Lord of the harvest. It is indeed an honor to be engaged in the work of the Lord. It is even more of an honor to be in relationship with the Lord of the work. The former should never eclipse the latter. Too...

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Impart vs Imprint

Impart vs Imprint

We live in the age of information. We have more information available to us than we know what to do with. That is not a good thing. Good spiritual hygiene is more about who you know than what you know. The Shepherd's goal is our transformation. Too much "what" can...

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Independence vs In Dependence

Independence vs In Dependence

We were created to live in dependence: dependent upon our Creator, first and foremost, and dependent on one another. Long ago humankind decided it would rather live independently. Our culture in particular values independence above most everything else. That is bad...

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Intentions vs Intentionality

Intentions vs Intentionality

Intentions are good, and good intentions are worth something. But intentionality is worth infinitely more. Our intention is to care well for those who are entrusted to us, but all too often that care never materializes. The tyranny of the urgent pushes our intentions...

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Related to vs relationship with

Related to vs relationship with

What's the difference between being related to someone and being in a relationship with them? Well, for one thing, we don't have much to say about who we are related to (much as we'd like to, sometimes). At least, not on the upstream side of the family line. The only...

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Profession vs Possession

Profession vs Possession

Evidently, when it comes time for Jesus to evaluate and reward ministry done in his name, there will be a lot of disappointed people. A. Lot. There is a huge distinction between what a person claims to believe and what they actually embrace. Profession does not...

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Compelled vs Impelled

Compelled vs Impelled

Shepherding is not a mechanical endeavor. We can have all of the right characteristics (proactive, predictive, practiced, prepared...), all the right protocols, all the right policies and procedures... But if we do not have the right people, none of the rest matters....

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Prepared vs Pretentious

Prepared vs Pretentious

pretentious: adjective characterized by assumption of dignity or importance, especially when exaggerated or undeserved making an exaggerated outward show full of pretense; having no factual basis; false Sober warnings for those of us who are entrusted with...

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Practiced vs Performance

Practiced vs Performance

4625. That's how many times Yul Brynner put on his gold braided royal Thai costume and strode onto the Broadway stage for his part in the musical The King and I. Every line, every movement, every facial expression were permanently etched in his memory, just waiting...

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Predictive vs Presumptuous

Predictive vs Presumptuous

Good shepherding is forward-thinking. It looks ahead. It anticipates without presuming. Certain struggles are common to all people, and certain challenges are predictable on the mission field. We can prepare ahead of time for coming alongside global workers to speak...

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Proactive vs Reactive

Proactive vs Reactive

Shepherds will be consistently tempted to react to the challenges they face, but good shepherding is built on pre-determined attitudes and perspectives: She has the missionary's best interests at heart (not her reputation or comfort). He assumes the best whenever...

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Progress vs Perfection

Progress vs Perfection

Done is better than perfect. That's what my board of directors is fond of reminding me. I am a bit (OK, a large bit) of a perfectionist. I don't like to even start something until I have a pretty polished end product in mind, and a detailed game plan for how to...

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Process vs Program

Process vs Program

Shepherding is not a system of checking the boxes, going through the required motions. It is the step-by-step process of developing trust. It is the day-by-day walking alongside. It is the gradual blossoming of mutual respect. It is the accumulated results of...

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Transactional vs Transformational

Transactional vs Transformational

We live in a consumer culture. We have been conditioned to think of the exchange of goods or services or ideas as transactions. We decide which transactions are worth engaging based on what we think we'll get out of the deal. We don't like trading at a loss - getting...

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Growth vs Nurture

Growth vs Nurture

I am the oldest of four brothers in my family. The last brother is nine years younger than me, and the rest of us hardly let him forget his place in line. One day I walked into his bedroom. He must have been around four or five. He was sitting on the floor and pulling...

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Preventive vs Curative

Preventive vs Curative

Which requires more skill: to cure a disease, or prevent it? Which is indicative of more compassion? It's not a simple either-or question. Compassion dictates that we treat injured souls when we encounter them; wisdom would instruct us to avoid the injuries when...

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Systemic vs Symptomatic

Systemic vs Symptomatic

Way back in the last century, when I owned a want-ad newspaper, a client described his business in a way I have never forgotten. The man had a tree care service. Specifically, he was paid by people to keep their trees alive and healthy. His approach was, to me at the...

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Barriers to Shepherding

Barriers to Shepherding

I think the legitimate barriers to shepherding can be summed up in two words: SORDID GAIN Sordid gain is that which is disgraceful, dishonorable, base. Financial gain is the most common application, but it can also include the desire for power, recognition,...

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Imaginary Barriers to Shepherding

Imaginary Barriers to Shepherding

Most of our barriers are imaginary. (Michael Hyatt) Obviously, there are real barriers that really do preclude certain activities. I, for instance, will never be able to wrestle sumo style; I do not, and never will, have the right form of body. Neither willpower or...

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The Dance

The Dance

Long before the creation of anyone or anything, the Trinity existed in an enviable mutuality. They enjoyed each other, loved each other, respected each other. That relationship has been described as perichoresis: the circle dance in which love and being are exchanged...

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Hindrances to Shepherding, Part 2

Hindrances to Shepherding, Part 2

God has designed the body of Christ in a way that every member is vital. There are no insignificant players, no reservists, no second string. Everyone has a strategic role to play. And when we're hitting on all cylinders, the entire church is built up (see Ephesians...

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Hindrances to Shepherding

Hindrances to Shepherding

There are two kinds of people in the world... (you know how this goes). We in the U.S. live in an either/or culture. We sort everything into categories like black or white, right or wrong, productive or wasteful, professional or amateur. Or clergy/laity. That last...

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Shepherding Work

Shepherding Work

What would it look like if you were to shepherd a missionary? Here is a starter list of ways you could consider doing shepherding work (based on Ezekiel 34): Search: Take the initiative. Don’t wait until your missionary friend comes home in a basket. Be pro-active in...

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Shepherds after God’s heart

Shepherds after God’s heart

What can earthly shepherds teach us about the heart of our heavenly Father? Shepherding is not a glorious profession. There are a lot of hardships to endure: being out in the elements in all kinds of weather sleeping on the ground, oftentimes being alone and isolated...

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The not-so-good Shepherd

The not-so-good Shepherd

One way of knowing what good shepherding looks like is to read what the Great Shepherd has to say about not-so-good shepherds (see John 10): They flee when danger approaches. They are not concerned about the sheep. They are ultimately thieves and murderers. (Ouch!)...

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One Another Shepherding

One Another Shepherding

No matter where you are today, somebody helped you get there. (Martin Luther King) We have an unfortunate tendency to place missionaries on a pedestal. We say things to them like, "I could never do what you're doing" or "I wish I had your kind of faith."And while it...

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Shepherding vs Sheep Herding

Shepherding vs Sheep Herding

You don't have to know sheep in order to herd them. They can be driven by dogs or by helicopters (and I suspect robot shepherds operating on artificial intelligence will eventually replace animate herders of any sort). And sheep don't need to know the dog or the...

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The Shepherd’s Voice

The Shepherd’s Voice

In order for a shepherd to effectively care for his sheep, there must be trust. That trust is born of familiarity, and proximity. There must be a physical presence and a presence of heart. The Great Shepherd said that his sheep follow him because they know his voice....

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Where There Is No Shepherd

Where There Is No Shepherd

One of the oft-observed characteristics of Jesus on earth was his compassion. His heartfelt concern ranged from the mundane to the mortal. From the discomfort of an empty stomach (Mark 8:2) to the deadliness of demon possession (Mark 9:22). From the bereaved (Luke...

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