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How Trader Joe's is helping us get to our new location…

…and they really don’t know they are doing so.

One of the few things we are going to miss about where we currently live when we move to where we are going to live is the proximity of having a Trader Joe’s nearby. TJ has been an oft frequented store for us for a variety of reasons, one of those reasons being a variety of food. We’ve very much enjoyed having TJ near us, and I suppose we will have to craft a strategy for getting to the Trader Joe’s closest to us (in Olympia) once we move. I’ve never really enjoyed grocery shopping, but on the few times I’ve been asked to do it, and if TJ is on the list of places to go, I do get a little excited. Not sure how to explain, even less sure I want to waste your time and mine attempting to.

Anywho…Trader Joe’s is helping us get to Vesta. The beautiful bride stopped by earlier to ask them if we could get some of their used boxes to help us box our place up for the move. They said to come back later and take what we wanted/needed. I showed up at the appointed time, was offered a cart, and ransacked the place (with permission!) of their boxes. In all of this box gathering, I did make a bit of a blunder. I went to the store in a pair of jeans and a black coat zipped all the way up. Having that outfit on, with slightly tousled hair and glasses with black frames, combined with me using a knife to break down boxes did confuse a few people. I ended up directing someone to the location of the organic vegetables, and had to inform another that “we” were in fact out of the rice krispy like cereal, but that “we” would be restocking the shelves soon, so please do come back. With that, my 327 seconds of volunteering as a Trader Joe’s mate came to a close.

I didn’t count, but I’m guessing I walked out with 50 boxes tonight. Who knows how far that will get us, but it is a great start, and even better, something we were offered for free. So, Trader Joe’s in University Place, WA, thank you, thank you, thank you! We appreciate your help, even if you have no idea what you helped us with.

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Stress producing, or a benefit?

I’ve taken a bit of mental inventory of what our upcoming move with Village Missions entails. In so doing, it has come to my attention that there are several items we will be dealing with that tend to show up on lists of “most stress producing events” or “life changes that are most stressful” or something along those lines.

Need a recap? We’re expecting a baby. We’re moving to a new location. I’ll be beginning a new job. The only thing we’re missing from the list of most stress producing is a death of a  family member – for the record, I’m not asking for that to happen.

Now, add to that list some of the “lesser” items that could be stress producing: continuing to raise prayer and financial support, the physical act of boxing everything up and getting it ready to move (by the way, if you are local to us and have boxes to spare, we’ll be glad to take them), getting all the baby gear down from the attic (which was done a little over a week ago, thanks to my nimble sons!), beginning our farewell process to friends, the list goes on.

Nimble sons in attic, with bags of baby supplies behind them. Not pictured - slightly concerned mother in living room

Here is what I say to all of that: none of those things are stressful. Not a one. Even from the list of “major life change events” none of them are stressful. If you are the curious one, you might say, “oh, Carl, how are those things not stressful?” Thanks for asking, but brace yourself for my response.

I do not claim perfection, and I do not claim skill, but I will say that I endeavor to live and think critically and biblically. As such, I choose to operate under words and categories that are found in the preciously preserved pages of Scripture. When it comes to “stress” in the way it is most often used in our culture, here is what I find: in my two favorite Bible translations, the ESV and NASB, the word never occurs. In the two versions I like and respect, but are not my favorites, the word never occurs. In a translation I do not like, the word occurs just once, in Titus 3:8, which says “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” That’s it. That’s the only time the word stress is used, and if you re-read it, it is very clear that the meaning of the word in that context has nothing to do with the modern understanding of, and attempt to manage, stress.

What does all of that mean? If I am facing “stress” my best help is Scripture. If I go to Scripture, and if I cannot find “stress” then what hope do I have? None! Sure, you could debate that I’m splitting hairs, or there is nuance with language, etc. But what I’m appealing to is using the words and categories that are actually in Scripture. So, while Scripture says nothing about stress, it says plenty about: trials, tribulations, fear, anxiety, worry, responsibility and more. What then is my response? How am I to think?

What would appear to be my responsibility is to first rightly diagnose, according to Scripture, what my problem is. Using a (biblically speaking) nothing word like stress is not at all helpful, and I will find no prescription in Scripture to address my problems.

Second, I need to be honest. Am I being fearful or anxious? Am I in the midst of a trial? Am I facing the responsibility before me? Once I settle that, I can find hope in the Bible to help me.

So, here is where I am at. I am not fearful, but I will confess to a degree of anxiety – not a debilitating form of it, but enough that I ask questions of my self like: will I serve the people of the church and community well? Will my influence be gospel saturated enough to lead people to greater depths in their spiritual walk? Will we be able to get everything done that we want/need to get done prior to our move? What will challenges or opportunities will we face when we arrive?

This is where the Bible comes in and proves itself to be so faithful to us. Romans 8:28-29 says:

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

All things. Not some things, not a few things, all things. All means all. So, each of these things are designed by God to make me more like Christ. Rather than recoil from all that we are facing, or to seek ways to avoid whatever amount of effort or discomfort these things will bring, I should instead embrace them and praise God for them. He has divinely and uniquely (and dare I say graciously) brought them into my life that I might become more and more like His Son. I welcome them, knowing that they are designed for my benefit, and to equip me to serve and benefit others.

Am I stressed out? No way. Though my flesh is weak, I’m eager to face that which God has intended to be for my benefit, to make me more like His Son, and to keep me as close to Him as possible. I may wilt, I may even fail. But I will not be stressed out!


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At last, we can tell you

Thank you all for being so patient with us as we have hidden information about where we are moving to with Village Missions. At first, we knew where they were thinking about sending us, then that “thinking about” was upgraded to “would you be willing to serve here.” If you have followed us on this blog, my beautiful bride’s blog, or in person, thank you for not hounding us too much about where we are going. At long last we can tell you that we are moving to Vesta.

Photo courtesy of NASA at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/dawn/multimedia/pia14313.html

Wait, let me get more specific. We will not be moving to the above asteroid Vesta, but rather to Vesta, WA. I tried to find pictures of Vesta, WA, but could not find any as easily as I could find pictures of an asteroid 121 million miles from Earth – do with that what you would like. Vesta (the town) sits just a couple miles south of Cosmopolis. If your western Washington geography is not honed, Cosmopolis sits roughly in between Olympia and the Pacific Ocean.

We will be serving at North River Community Church, which as you may have guessed, sits right near the North River (100 yards from the church property).

Preaching of the Word, with lunch and fellowship right after? I'm in!

We are beginning to learn about the community we will be living in – Vesta has about 400 people, with the towns of Brooklyn and Artic being smaller but close-by. The church is the only church in an 18 mile long valley (where the 3 towns mentioned above are also located). At this point, we don’t have much in the way of history of the church. We did learn that they have been without a pastor for close to 6 years, and currently the church attendance is 35+, though we have heard at one point that number was 12.

I’ve already had a couple of conversations with one of the individuals of the church, and if he is anything like the rest of the church (or rest of the church like him) we are going to really enjoy serving there. They are a tight-knit church family, eager to serve and bless each other, wanting very much to share the gospel with those in the community, and above all, proudly proclaim the name of Christ.

We are of course ecstatic. There is a much longer story, but the short version is that when I first pursued Village Missions, and when I learned of this church, I began praying and asking the Lord if He would consider sending us there. That was 6 months ago, and though we have to wait one more month, we are humbled and honored that we have the chance to serve there. Our first Sunday is February 26, so there is much to do between now and then. We’d be very grateful for your continued prayers for us. Even though we know where and when we are going, we are also trusting the Lord to bring in the rest of our support. We are very close now, say less than $300/month close. If you would consider partnering with us prayerfully and financially, it would be our privilege to have you on our team. Whether you can afford $5 a month $50 a month, every little bit helps. Hopefully now that you can see where we are going (and that it is a real place) you will be even more inspired to join us.

You can expect updates as we take further steps, either here or at rurbanfamily.wordpress.com, so stay tuned!


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The Tapestry of Scripture

Many thanks to Tony Reinke, who operates the Miscellanies blog, for finding this, and then posting it for all to take a gander. I say this up front so that it is plainly evident that I can take no credit for: a. writing the post below or, b. finding the subject of the post below.

Before we get to it, allow me the freedom to promote Tony’s blog. I do not know Tony, he does not know me, we live on opposite ends of the country, we’ve never emailed each other (though I have left a comment on his blog once or twice, which is not a sarcastic understatement, but is in fact an actual reflection of the number of times I have done so) and we’ve likely been in the same state as each other only a handful of times. All of that to say, I am promoting his blog because of content, not because of personal ties (not that there is anything wrong with that).

If you like to focus on the gospel and on the cross, you’ll like Tony’s blog. If you like to see the relationship between gospel centered writing and your life, you’ll like Tony’s blog. If you like quotes and insights from dead men who lived long ago (as I do) you’ll like Tony’s blog. If you like books, book reviews, and discussions about book construction, you’ll like Tony’s blog. This is a weekly, if not more, habit of mine. I could not commend it to you any higher. Read and enjoy.

Now, with that lengthy preamble out of the way, let’s get on with it. Below is the full text of his post, one which struck me visually. Here is the link to that post.

That list of biblical references running down the gutter of each page the ESV Study Bible is a compilation of thousands of cross-references that point to other thematically related parts of Scripture. All told the ESVSB has 80,000 of those cross-references.

There’s a history to who actually made those connections. The references found in the ESVSB were compiled by a team of Bible scholars from Oxford and Cambridge Universities over 100 years ago. Their work was first used in the English Revised Version (RV), a version that appeared in 1881.

A few years back Lutheran pastor Christoph Römhild wondered if an infographic could capture cross-references like these for the purpose of visualizing the tapestry of Scripture. He contacted Chris Harrison, who said yes, and together they created this:

Each bar along the bottom represents a chapter from Genesis (left) to Revelation (right). The length of the bar correspond to the length of the chapter (Psalm 119 is easy to find in the middle). The cross-references are arched and colored by arch length. In all this graphic represents 63,779 colorful cross-references (I’m unsure how they arrived at this number, cross-referencing being something of an art — the Thompson’s Chain-Reference Bible has over 100,000, for example).

Beautiful graphic, isn’t it? This is a wonderful visual reminder of the thematic unity of Scripture, and it serves as a great personal reminder to read every verse in light of the bigger biblical storyline.

You can find a large version of the graphic and more information here.


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Fishless Fishermen's Fellowship

I won’t pontificate much on the video below. I think it does a great job by itself.

To all of our Village Missions Candidate School co-laborers, does this seem familiar? Dare I say (in the nicest, most respectable way possible) preferable?

Many thanks to Living Waters for producing this, and to NCFIC for posting it.


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Another example of what Village Missions does

Perhaps I’ve been a bit verbose in the past few posts. As a reward for you who follow this blog, let me share with you another example of what Village Missions is all about. In a previous post, I shared a video about a church in Jennings, MI. This time, we head west to Helix, OR. Take a look.


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Guess what? We're moving to…

Well, I can’t really share that with you yet, for 2 key reasons:

1. Our support, though very healthy and generous, is not quite where it needs to be. Of the $1300/month we are committed to raise, God has seen fit to bring in $900/month so far, for which we are exceedingly grateful. If you are one of those God has used to kindly and graciously support us, please let me say thank you, thank you, thank you. You have been an encouragement to us, and as grateful as we are for your financial support, we are even more grateful for your willingness to commit to pray for us. That includes the gentleman who sent back his prayer card and rather than check a box of either daily, weekly, or monthly, instead elected to create his own box entitled “yearly.” You know who you are, and so do we. If you are one of those who is still praying over how you would like to support us, we are honored that you are thinking of us, and the sooner you are able to arrive at a conclusion, the sooner I can tell you where we are going to go.

2. There are still lots of moving pieces involved. Village Missions still needs to confirm where they want to send us. They also need to communicate with the church to let them know that they have identified us as being their pastor/missionary family. It takes time to get the parsonage ready. We still have to have a baby (coming soon – you’ll hear about him/her in February). We still need to pack our stuff. Like I said, lots of moving pieces.

But here is what I can tell you: Village Missions (VM) does have a place they would like to send us – though not official yet, there is a relatively high degree of confidence. VM believes the church and community are an excellent fit for us, and based on what they have told us so far, we believe the same. When we get the opportunity to share it with you, if you know us at all, you are likely to have the same opinion. That is, unless you are most familiar with the east coast version of ourselves – the west coast version of us is vastly different (and we think for the better). We are very excited about this location for a variety of reasons. We are compelled by the need expressed at this church and community, and already God has drawn our hearts to not just their needs, but also the opportunities in front of them. We are eager to partner with the church in preaching and living out the gospel, and trust that God will do the work in this rural ministry. I think I’m safe to say that this location is in the Pacific Northwest, but at this point, that probably should be the only geographical information I offer. I know, the suspense is wiping you out. Check back later (not like 30 minutes from now – give it a couple of weeks) for the stirring conclusion to our journey!