linvilles in life

When it doesn’t pertain to prayer, Bible study, fellowship, giving, or sharing the Gospel, it ends up here. Such would be Lexi’s crafts or Levi’s music.

linvilles in Love with village-side anniversaries

Dearest prayer warriors,

We feel like failures. Tomorrow we celebrate our one year village-side anniversary. What, pray tell, have we accomplished in a year?

1. Not dying

Seriously! This is not a joke. Staying alive is a big deal, and it is not easy here. Living in the village has exposed us to enough death to last a lifetime. Women walk the streets carrying and wailing over their lifeless babies for days; young rickshaw pullers living off of a handful of rice a day fear going to sleep at night because they’ve seen so many of their friends lie down to rest and never rise again. The emotional stress on some is so enormous that they have heart attacks and die just from hearing thunder! If this wasn’t enough, there’s the work & travel related accidents that claim hundreds of lives each week because safety isn’t emphasized or enforced here. Beyond this, the newspaper is bursting with stories of mothers murdering their children, husbands murdering their wives, children murdering their parents; and it’s over things like smartphones, dowries, or school tuition – material concerns.

Nevertheless, we live, and that’s no laughing matter.

2. Making a disciple

Yep. Just one. No, we didn’t lead him to Christ. No, we didn’t baptize him. No, we haven’t taught him to obey all that Christ commanded. He knew all that before we met him. So, why claim to have “made a disciple”? Because disciple making is just as much about journeying through sanctification as it is about leading one to Christ for justification. Is a gardener only she who tends to plants she’s personally grown from seeds? No. We’re making a disciple by maintaining his discipleship and it’s hard work. He arrives at 8am in the morning and leaves between 8 and 10pm at night everynight. He sees us laugh, cry, fight, forgive, struggle, and succeed. He sits at our table for every meal. He knows exactly how much money we make, save, spend, give, and waste. He knows our flaws, our secrets, our strengths, our fears, and our joys. As we are Christian, so shall he be Christian (hence the importance for contextualization). This sacrifice of privacy is the most terrifying gift of Christ to us, but it’s undeniably the most helpful in conforming us to him.

3. Still struggling to learn the language

Learning a language is hard, but I never imagined it would be this hard; especially since I’ve got that magical element of immersion. I hear Bangla all day everyday, but I still talk (& comprehend) like a six year old, respectively. If you haven’t talked to a six year old recently, go find one and have a conversation. You’ll quickly learn that speaking and conversing are very different. Like a six year old, my problem is comprehending what’s being said in regards to how it applies to the conversation. For instance, I’ll mention that it looks like it might rain and the guy across from me says: “Yeah. My uncle was buried last week.”

DrSpockFascinating

This doesn’t make sense until you learn that it’s quite common in the village for dead bodies to wash out of new graves during heavy rain because of flooding. The man’s reply reflects what the upcoming storm means to him – what he might have to deal with – and could’ve inspired a great conversation about Christ if I hadn’t been silenced by my utter confusion.

And that’s it. Not dying, making a disciple, and maintaining a continued struggle with learning this language – that’s all we’ve got after living in our village for an entire year and it makes us feel like failures.

Is this feeling from God? Absolutely not. How do I know? Because it centers on us!

It completely ignores the sovereignty of God over our lives by enthroning the shortsighted ambitions that seem right and good to us.

The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, proclaimed the most amazing message (31:27-34) that the people of Judah ignored for all of Jeremiah’s forty years of ministry. Was this why he wept? Nope. In 9:1, Jeremiah says:

The Weeping Prophet

“Prophet Jeremiah” fresco by Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel, circa 1508-1512.

Jeremiah wept for his people who had been slain for their persistent rebellion against God. He wept over their failure to repent. He wept for Judah, not for himself. God had chosen him and enabled him to prophesy so he only spoke as God spoke through him. For Jeremiah to think, “I’m a failure” would be like him thinking “God’s a failure” since he was merely God’s messenger.

Is God a failure? No. Am I ever tempted to think that God has failed me?

Yes.

And whenever this happens I can be assured that I’ve departed from faithfully walking with Him.

Put it together. If we feel like failures – like we’ve failed to do what God has chosen and enabled us to do – what does that say about God?

It says that we feel like God has failed us.

Are we aware of how stupid this is? Certainly. Is it obvious to us that we’re the ones who have failed God? Absolutely. Are we confused about feeling like we’ve failed God in doing what God promised to do through us?

Yes.

Through this week, please pray

  1. For our personal quite times: that we’d be consistent and determined to meet with God daily.
  2. For our disciple (Jell): that we’d do more to challenge him to grow and make a disciple of his own.
  3. For our language learning: that we’d commit to spending at least two hours a day learning new vocabulary.
  4. For these updates: that I’d be more consistent in providing y’all with the information you need to intercede for us and thereby plant new churches with us for God’s glory.

I’ve got no resolution for you. This is how it ends. This is how we’re feeling right now, despite how this feeling completely ignores the sovereignty of God over our lives. We need your prayers and please leave us your comments. Any encouragement and wisdom that you can spare would be greatly appreciated.

in Love,

the linvilles

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linvilles in Love with 2015

A quite road through our village near our home.

A quiet road through our village near our home.

How are those New Year resolutions coming?

I made New Year’s resolutions 2 days ago that I’ve already failed to keep! I failed to keep one of them this morning after I slept in, and I failed to keep another one soon thereafter. Two days ago, I resolved to get up at 3:50am everyday to study Scripture and pray. When that alarm went off this morning, I hesitated. Never hesitate with resolutions. I was sound asleep again in seconds. The next resolution I broke was actually the prescribed consequence for breaking a resolution, which is to fast through the next meal.

The cards were stacked against me.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, Mrs. Linville had made cinnamon rolls from scratch, and thus it was over before I knew what hit me. It was worth it. In my opinion, a fast is a great consequence because it creates time to do what I missed out on, and gives me practice in the self control I lacked when I turned my alarm off and went back to sleep, but that’s not to say I’m doing all this on my own:

“Resolutions don’t work without a partnering consequence and consequences don’t work without an external source of enforcement.”

Mrs. linville being beautiful!My wife is my enforcement, and she will ensure that I will be enjoying the rest of the day without food (two meals for two fails). Now, to be clear, please know that I’m not mistaking my consequence-fast with a pray-and-fast kind of fast. No way. While it’s inevitable that there will be spiritual benefits, I acknowledge that this is more psychological in nature. I understand that the devil is capable of causing people to sleep in, but this time, I just wanted more sleep.

I slept in because Mrs. linville and I stayed up celebrating the completion of all my course work for the two intensive graduate classes I need for my masters degree. The classes start Jan. 5th and will be held in Chiang Mai. I’m excited about everything I’ll be learning, but I’m not looking forward to being away from my family for two weeks. Please pray for us. For those curious, my 2015 resolutions are: to rise, to rush, to run, to reach, and to reign.

– To rise before the sun.

– To rush before the Throne.

– To run away from sin.

– To reach for God’s Word before anything else.

– To reign with Christ in my responsibilities:

1         + Over my fears: to dwell in Christ by striving after Him in word and deed.

1         + Over my faith: to share Christ with everyone everywhere in love.

1         + Over my flesh: through wise nutrition and exercise in Christ.

1         + Over my family: to love, serve, lead, pray over, provide, and protect them.

1         + Over my friends: to love, serve, encourage, pray over, and exhort them.

1         + Over my foes: to love, serve, pray for, and make peace with them in Christ.

To be honest, these have been my resolutions every year for over a decade. I imagine these could be your resolutions too, and you may have them! While I’m familiar with the resolve, I’m not as acquainted with the consequence. That part is new, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Okay, now my enforcement is telling me:

“Here’s a loop hole: you had to sleep in because we celebrated so late last night and your today need not be punished for your yesterday’s folly!” – Mrs. linville

(-_-) … …  I’LL TAKE IT!  (I mean, I fasted through second-breakfast, elevenses, AND lunch; plus it’s roasted chicken night guys!!!)

I’m beginning to see a weakness in my plan… (laughing out loudly).

Backpedaling!

Everyone who knows my wife would agree with me that she is the epitome of empathy, hence the quote above, but let the record show that her empathy was not the weakness in my plan – I was. Everyone who knows me would agree that I’m a little too spontaneous for my own good.

“I’m great at making quick decisions, but not so great at making the best decisions quickly.”

My wife was stern but loving  with me regarding my consequence as I fasted through the afternoon, but she had made a good point. If failing to get out of bed was the compromised resolution, why wouldn’t fasting through lunch count? Specifically, why must it be the very next meal that I fast from? Perhaps the stipulation is too strict and needs revising. And indeed it did, and indeed it was. Now there’s a good enforcer: one who knows not only how to enforce, but what to enforce. Ultimately, this is about growing in my walk with Christ, so remaining focused and obedient to Jesus is the blessing beneath the burden.

I resolve to follow Christ.

Jesus didn’t call us to be Pharisees – making rules for our rules – he called us to be his. Resolve to follow Christ! Failing in that resolution is its own consequence, for not following Christ means so much more than not going to heaven. Not following Christ means following something else, and everything else is inherently wanting. Following what will only deplete and can never revitalize is the essence of being spiritually dead; following one’s own misguided appetites, but never knowing fulfillment. Nope. Let’s resolve to follow Christ.

Now its time to pack for Chiang Mai! Please pray for my safe travels, I greatly appreciate it! Please leave a comment: if you know of any fun Chiang Mai activities or if you made any New Year’s resolutions!

Thanks for reading,

In Love

the linvilles

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linvilles in Love with getting wet

I have a confession: there’s going to be a change around here. After recently going through our permanent pages (the Welcome page, About Us page, etc.) I realized that I have not done with this blog what I intended to do.

My original intentions are still spelled out quite clearly on the Welcome page, as I had learned to do from the many “how to start a blog” blogs out there, but I have failed to produce a single post that conformed to my original intentions.

The reason I started this blog was so that we could have an outlet for confession.

I think I started the blog out to formally. I put too much time into it and I made it into a treasure. When I finished setting everything up, I began writing about others instead of myself. Consequentially, I got off course.

I confess, often the Lord really shows himself spectacular in my life, but it’s usually because I’ve really messed something up, and it’s hard – due to my pride – to confess that failure and give God the glory he deserves for it, but that’s what I started this blog for.

I’m a wreck of a man, but God never leaves me or forsakes me, despite my incompetence. He’s put in me an unquenchable joy in Jesus Christ and he’s placed me at the ends of the earth to preach Christ, and Christ crucified, but I mess up. This blog exists to testify to how God works everything out when I mess up.

The hope in doing this is to inspire YOU to get out there and try. Try to start and lead Bible studies; try to start homeless ministries; try to start orphanages; adoption programs; emergency pregnancy centers; Alcoholics Anonymous meetings; international ministries; or immigrant acclamation services. Prayerfully Try!

I’ve changed the sub-heading of this blog to “Confessions of faith & failure” to convey a sense of realism to radical Christian service – that walking by faith means getting wet, and often very wet, but that getting wet is a good thing. Do you think that after Christ pulled the Apostle Peter back up onto the waves, chiding him for his lack ofwalkingonwater faith, that Peter regretted getting to walk on the water with Jesus? Perhaps. But he would be forever stuck with the memory of what it feels like to walk on water, upheld by the power of his King! Nevertheless, despite that powerful experience, would Peter mess up? Yes. And not once, but thrice (haha, I got to use ‘thrice’).

The Apostle Peter “wept bitterly” for this, confessed and repented, and eventually became a contributing agent in turning the world upside down for Jesus. Getting wet, walking by faith, does not entail success, but by God’s grace it does entail progress, and progressing towards being made into the image of Christ should be the purpose of our lives everyday!

But first we must put aside our fear of failure, and nothing eradicates fear like familiarity. So, henceforth, I hope to expose you to my greatest blunders, my most fantastic mess ups, and my most devastating failures, for the purpose of demonstrating that God isn’t thwarted by my shortcomings, but glorified in them.

But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

So, move! Go! Speak up! Standing in line at Wal-Mart? Share the gospel! Arguing with a friend about predestination, start a Bible study! Have a cousin in jail? Start an inmate outreach. You can do it, and be excited about messing up!

One of the most influential quotes I ever read came from a biography I read on the 26th president of the United States of America. Enjoy his insight:

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

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