Acts 16:6-10

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Our return from Oyugis to Kisumu was not direct. Although Diane and I were not to fly out of Kisumu until 7 p.m., our traveling companions were to catch a bus in Kisumu at 1:30 that afternoon. Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda President Charles Bameka, his colleague Odoo James Okello, and PLI International Director Dr. Scott Rische were to have traveled to Kampala that afternoon. Our hosts, however, had other plans. We were to attend the graduation ceremony at the Matongo Lutheran Teachers Training College. This set into motion a chain of events ranging from authentic ethnic dances and pageantry, to hurried meals (and a case of mild food poisoning), to missed busses, a memorable and humbling visit to our driver’s home, and a late-night border crossing for our Uganda brothers and Dr. Rische. Scott’s words in regard to the border crossing:

I can’t wait to share about my journey last night. It went well but you will have been glad not to have accompanied me. :) We finally got here to Jinja at 11:30 pm after a bus, walking across the border at night amidst all the trucks, two more taxis (one a van with 20 people in it) and then changing to a smaller taxi. Crazy wild. Too much to write here…

Diane and I had a quite different experience after we left our friends at the bus station. Peter, our driver, ended up inviting us to his home. Of course we could not refuse and ended up in a two-room mud house in Mamboleo, a town on the outskirts of Kisumu. He introduced us to his two children and his wife (whose name we never really caught). They served us coffee and bread and butter sandwiches. As we sat in their home, we were humbled by their hospitality and prayed for our safety (concerning what we eat and drank) and for their blessing as a family.

The children in the neighborhood sang a song about Jesus’ love, and we were thankful for the hospitality and friendliness we experienced. I wonder, however, whether I might have been more direct about his and his family’s relationship with Jesus. Perhaps next time I am delayed I will be more aware of how God is offering an opportunity for his message to be proclaimed.

Acts 16:6-10

And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Our return from Oyugis to Kisumu was not direct. Although Diane and I were not to fly out of Kisumu until 7 p.m., our traveling companions were to catch a bus in Kisumu at 1:30 that afternoon. Lutheran Church Mission in Uganda President Charles Bameka, his colleague Odoo James Okello, and PLI International Director Dr. Scott Rische were to have traveled to Kampala that afternoon. Our hosts, however, had other plans. We were to attend the graduation ceremony at the Matongo Lutheran Teachers Training College. This set into motion a chain of events ranging from authentic ethnic dances and pageantry, to hurried meals (and a case of mild food poisoning), to missed busses, a memorable and humbling visit to our driver’s home, and a late-night border crossing for our Uganda brothers and Dr. Rische. Scott’s words in regard to the border crossing:

I can’t wait to share about my journey last night. It went well but you will have been glad not to have accompanied me. :) We finally got here to Jinja at 11:30 pm after a bus, walking across the border at night amidst all the trucks, two more taxis (one a van with 20 people in it) and then changing to a smaller taxi. Crazy wild. Too much to write here…

Diane and I had a quite different experience after we left our friends at the bus station. Peter, our driver ended up inviting us to his home. Of course we could not refuse and ended up in a two-room mud house in Momboleo, a town on the outskirts of Kisumu. He introduced us to his two children and his wife (whose name we never really caught). They served us coffee and bread and butter sandwiches. As we sat in their home, we were humbled by their hospitality and prayed for our safety (concerning what we eat and drank) and for their blessing as a family.

The children in the neighborhood sang a song about Jesus’ love, and we were thankful for the hospitality and friendliness we experienced. I wonder, however, whether I might have been more direct about his and his family’s relationship with Jesus. Perhaps next time I am delayed I will be more aware of how God is offering an opportunity for his message to be proclaimed.

Acts 16:1-5

Paul[a] came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

PLI International is working in several countries throughout the world – only at the official invitation of the church body in that country. This can bring occasional challenges, but the practice has yielded great blessings and a clarity of mission that Dr. Scott Rische articulates quite well. He sees this as the means by which God leads their efforts as a servant of Christ and his mission. He makes no promises or seeks no special favors in order to bring the missional focus of pastoral leadership to pastors and their wives. When invited by a church body, if possible, they go and teach.

From Dr. Rische:

By God’s grace and power and leading, PLI International continues to receive invitations from all over the world to bring leadership training to pastors and their spouses. This video link provides the latest as far as where work is being done by PLII, and where work may possibly be starting in the future. It is a gift and honor to be a part of the work that PLI is doing, and I thank the Lord for the encouragement and direction and blessing being given by Dr. Jock Ficken, PLI Executive Director, and the BOD of PLI!

Key elements of the four year curriculum are “Visionary Leadership, Leading Change, Multiplying Missional Leaders, and Multiplying Missional Movements.” Diane and I were in Oyugis, Kenya for the fourth year conference with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya. We interacted with 22 pastors and 19 of their spouses for the final year of their program. We were very well received, and even invited back to help the church bring this training to more pastors and their wives and so direct its work more fully on the mission of God.

It was a great privilege and joy to be part of the PLI International experience in Kenya. The trip was difficult in several ways…from the long hours on an airplane to the challenging conditions in a rural third world setting. But the expressions of great appreciation and the break-throughs we saw – especially with the pastors around issues of authority and servanthood – made the trip very worthwhile. We are thankful to have been part of God’s work there.

Acts 15:37-41

Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

There is controversy and division within the Lutheran Church in Kenya. We heard of this from several different leaders and even from those who are in opposition to one another. Without going into details – and that at least in part because I know only the most basic facts of the matter, and that only third hand – the division is so deep that individuals have excluded themselves from one another. Sad to say this is nothing new. Even Paul and Barnabas experienced a rift between the two of themselves that they withdrew from each other and were not partners on this second missionary journey of Paul.

Ultimately, thankfully, the two were reconciled as is noted the the notes from the Reformation Study Bible:

Though the remainder of Acts contains no further record of Paul working with Barnabas, Paul mentions Barnabas in a positive light in 1 Cor. 9:6. Paul’s later high regard for Mark is evident in Col. 4:10; Philem. 24; 2 Tim. 4:11.

I pray that God will bring these divided persons together again under the cross of Jesus Christ in humility, faithfulness, love, and unity in the mission of God. For only under the cross of Jesus Christ are we able to accomplish anything. We are all broken. We are all a mess. We all need God’s grace and forgiveness – sometimes because of willful sins, at other times because of our absolute ineptness at life and love.

We also experienced a bit of that lack of planning, preparation, and good communication even in getting to the site of the PLI International conference. We thought it was to have been in Nairobi, the capital city into which Diane, Dr. Scott Rische, and I flew. We soon discovered that we would fly to Kisumu. We discovered, once there, that the conference was not to be there, but about 3 hours south in the little town of Oyugis. Even that discovery was somewhat circuitous.

Acts 15:36

And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.”

Diane and I were able to travel from Nairobi through the Rift Valley to Kilgoris, the site of a church where I and other members of St. John had done vision work through Vision for Kenya. Our hope is that this small fledgling group will be able to build a church building in town. The small building pictured in the gallery above is outside of the town and very difficult to get to. They have purchased land and have great dreams of a building there – perhaps beyond their ability to realize. We shared our desire to pray for them, and encouraged them to consider an approach like the building pictured above (with the cows!) which we saw on the way home. If they are able to lay the foundation and build the walls/supports, perhaps we can get a group to travel there to put on the roof.

The lack of a building is a challenge for a traditional church. But God’s word lives in the hearts of his people. If they lay hold of the dream of building a facility for worship, God can move them step by step toward that goal. Certainly their meager and very humble current circumstances and location would testify to their love for God and desire to honor him. A larger building would allow more people to join them in that praise.

Ephesians 1:15-23

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

The exterior of the library at Ephesus

The exterior of the library at Ephesus

I recall a moment of great relief when a medical test proved that one of our children did not have a serious disease. I was moved to a deep sense of thanksgiving and praise to God. I recall receiving an unexpected gift of money from an anonymous source, and the great joy that it brought me with praise to God. I recall a moment in worship when I sensed that we were one within that body of believers, and the sincere thankfulness that welled up in my heart. I occasionally remember the time in our life when we would have to think twice or three times about whether or not to buy a $5 bottle of wine, as I enjoy a glass of wine today, and give thanks to God that I can pay $20 for a bottle of wine today with little debate.

Those momentary flashes of thankfulness are real, sincere, and worthy cause for praise to God. But they are incidental, and not what Paul speaks of here. Paul never stops giving thanks to God. Because he saw God’s work in the lives of the people of Ephesus: their faith in Jesus and their love for one another. Beyond that, however, he prays for their continued connection with Jesus Christ, giving all glory to God.

It is also remarkable to me that Paul does not encourage them to love one another (though he will certainly speak to that later in this letter). He speaks here, however, of the source of our love for each other. When we embrace the love of God in Christ by faith most fully, we will be moved to love one another. He is the source of our love for each other as well as the inspiration for our love for him.

That is why all glory goes to God. And Paul’s expression of praise to God is vitally important, even as he prays that these people will know Christ better, and be enlightened as to our hope in Christ.

I get that, and hope that somehow I can have that same thankful attitude to God for his people whom I serve. I am writhing this for my own personal spiritual edification. But if you’re reading this now, please know I thank God for you and pray that we together may give all glory to him…now and for all eternity!

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