Category Archives: Musings

Global Missions Weekend

Each year, our church spends a weekend focusing on Global Missions, with special speakers, extra events, and (usually) a concert of prayer as a finale. It was deeply irritating to Joshua that he would be out of town for this year’s missions event. Ever since his trip to Niger in January 2010, our oldest son has been interested in missions in general, and in Africa in particular.

Jon and Christine hope to return to Niger this summer.

“I’ll just tell the folks at church that you don’t care about missions,” I told him, consolingly.

“Thanks, Dad — nice to know you’ve got my back,” Joshua responded. It is these little moments of father-son bonding that make me so successful as a Dad.

This year, there was a missions speaker for the men’s breakfast on Saturday, and for all three services. Then there was a missions dinner celebrating the imminent sendoff of three families from our church — one to a rural church-plant project, another to a hospital in Ethiopia, and a third to Niger.

The Ayers family will be working at the Soddo hospital in Ethiopia

Whenever we have missions speakers, I tend to get charged-up about being a missionary myself. When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a missionary, and (even now) I still feel the pull of it.

After the sermon by Ralph Sauers (who was very enthusiastic), two of my kids were talking about going on a short-term missions trip. It is encouraging to see my teenagers catching the vision of God’s love for the world.

Carl and Drea will be serving with Village Missions in the rural village of Vesta, Washington.

Last year I started the online application for Wycliffe Bible Translators, but I soon became fearful, and never finished the application process. I was supposed to meet with the area IT recruiter for Wycliffe, but I never made it a priority. I find there are a couple of things that hold me back from being willing to take active steps:

  • I feel inadequate.
  • It has been said that if you’re not being a missionary where you are, then why would you expect to be any more effective when hampered by cultural and language barriers? My gifts lie in teaching and generosity, and (apart from my work in AWANA) there is very little of the evangelist about me. Also, I am in my mid forties, and I’m at least 40 pounds overweight. What if I couldn’t survive in a field mission environment, because the physical conditions were too difficult for me?

  • I fear discomfort.
  • As an American with a well-paying job, I’m used to a fair bit of comfort. I like having hot showers and cold Diet Cokes. What if God’s calling comes without some of the comforts I’ve come to expect from life? What if I have to scrimp and save just to keep my children in clothing, like many missionaries do?

  • I’m suspicious that my yearning for missions work is a thinly-disguised, Christian version of a mid-life crisis.
  • Maybe God has called me simply to be faithful in the work He has already given me — the work of being a disciple of Jesus, a husband, a father, an elder, an AWANA director, a Sunday School teacher, a friend?

I would love to hear a reaction to this, from any of you who read this blog posting. Do you think I’m deluding myself, building up a romantic picture of missions work in my mind, out of boredom? Or could this be a legitimate calling of God?


Carl’s Blog
Ralph Sauer’s website
Soddo Hospital, Ethiopia
Serving In Mission

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One Month to Live

One of the most influential pastors in my life is Dee Duke, pastor of Jefferson Baptist Chuch. He’s been preaching a sermon series entitled “One Month to Live” for the past four or five months (he’s not afraid of a long sermon series).

Dee Duke

I’ve not yet listened to more than a few of the sermons, but I find the thought provocative. Would I live differently if I knew that I had only 30 days left to live?

Just a borrowed logo from some church's sermon series by the same name

Pastors have often preached about how you should live if this was your last day before you died, or Jesus returned? I suppose you might call all the people you never really witnessed to properly, or perhaps you’d write a really top-notch statement to be read at your funeral. Maybe you’d borrow a lot of money and spend it all on a day of self-indulgence, or you might spend the day setting right any wrongs you had done. You could probably do without sleep if you really knew it was your last day — indeed, for a short time, you could probably make all sorts of temporary changes.

But if you knew you were going to live just 30 days more, you’d still need to sleep, and eat. You’d likely continue many of your everyday habits, like showering and brushing your teeth and eating healthily — who wants to go around with grimy teeth for 29 days? On the plus side, thirty days is enough to actually accomplish some things that couldn’t be done in a single day. For that reason, I think this way of thinking is more helpful than supposing you had only one more day.

Or maybe I'd just spend 30 days eating cookies.

In Isaiah 38, the story of King Hezekiah’s illness is told, in which he is told by the prophet that he is going to die. Hezekiah appeals to God, and is given another 15 years. I never thought of it this way, but I suppose Hezekiah probably kept track. At first, 15 years probably seemed a lot of time, but eventually, it must have dropped to two years, then one, then six months, then only one month left to live. How would I react to the sure knowledge that I had only 30 days left?

Duke suggests that we might focus on these areas:

  • Our relationship with God
  • Our relationships with each other
  • Our work or accomplishments for God
  • What would I stop doing?
  • Where am I going?

If you had only 30 days left to live, what would you do, how would you live?

Thoughtful video


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"Help!  I'm being loved to death!"

Sarah and the Cat (not the fat one)

It is still very strange to think that we have two cats. We call them ‘the fat one’ and ‘the other one’, and we hope they can’t understand us.

Of course, as Rachel pointed out, if they can understand us, they have some explaining to do: why they don’t obey us, come when we call, etc.

"Help! I'm being loved to death!"

The ‘fat one’ label is courtesy of the vet, who called our cats ‘fat and happy’. Rachel took it to heart, and has tried to avoid over-feeding them since, but the little black kitten still seems a little, well, portly.

Anyway, the other kitten (aka Miri) is mellow and enjoys being petted and held, considerably more than the ‘fat one’ does. We love ‘em both, though.


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Cara and Kathy were roomates, back in Cabell 303 days ...

An Early Taste of Spring

Today we had the privilege of a visit from some old friends from our college days. Tod and Cara moved back to the area a while ago, but we haven’t had a chance to see them since they returned. It was very kind of them to graciously drive down from North Seattle to spend the day with us.

Cara and Kathy were roomates, back in Cabell 303 days ...

We had a lovely vist with Cara and Tod, talking about churches and photography and showing off our children. With the weather so Spring-like, we took them down to Sunnyside Beach in Steilacoom, which was a big hit with the kids (especially since Nancy and her kids were there).

Frozen yogurt at Black Bear and a delicious meal of stew and fresh Mesa Manna rounded out the day magnificently.

Rachel also had a lovely visit with her friends, Sarah and Jenny

Sunshine and temperatures in the upper 50s — it hardly seems possible that just two weeks ago we had eight inches of snow on the ground. Then again, this is Washington.

There's nothing quite like the feeling of cold sand on bare feet in February.

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Use your phone to read the Bible

and He Will Have an Abundance

As I do most years, I started 2012 with some recycled goals, and a few new ones. It is sometimes helpful to have a fresh start on old goals — like Bible reading, for example.

Last year my goal was pretty modest — to read at least one chapter a day. The focus was on sustainable daily reading — I usually read two chapters, but didn’t remember to read every day.

Use your phone to read the Bible

YouVersion is a great Phone App for reading your Bible!

This year, I decided to try something a little more ambitious — Professor Grant Horner’s Reading Plan. Kathy was using this plan, and she often thinks it would be more fun to have me join her in such things, so I agreed.

Professor Horner

Grant Horner, the designer of the "10 Lists" reading plan

Horner’s plan operates on a principle of ten lists — you end up reading ten chapters a day, repeating some (like Acts and Proverbs) much more often than others. It takes me about 35 minutes a day to read through the day’s selection — if you’re very familiar with your Bible, you may be able to read it in less time.

On day 13, I came across this passage in Matthew 13:12:

Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

I’ve never really liked that verse; it seems patently unfair to me. But as I began to think about it, in context, I understood that it is referring to those who seek knowledge of God with an eager heart. Such people (who already have an understanding of God) will be given even more, to the point of abundance. Others, who don’t value their knowledge of God, will lose even what little they have. Jesus is explaining a spiritual law every bit as critical to our understanding as the law of gravity.

Another plug for my favorite phone app

As I’ve been working on this reading plan, I keep expecting to reach a point where I begin to dread the work of the reading — or where I begin to begrudge the time spent. After all, last year I read my Bible nearly every day, and I spent far less time at it.

Instead, I am discovering that my love and eagerness to read the Bible is increasing, the more I read.

Today, I was reading Matthew 25 (I started the plan late, and I’ve missed a few days, here and there) and I came across almost the exact same words I found in chapter 13 — this time, in 25:39:

For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

This seems to me to be a profound truth — God rewards those who diligently seek Him, as is promised in Hebrews 11:6.

I read the plan on my phone, where the YouVersion people have it waiting for me each morning. If you haven’t started a reading plan this year, it isn’t too late to jump in on this one!

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