Prologue:  After 3 1/2 months without a single post on this blog and less than a dozen entries to show for the entire year to date, I should, in the interest of honesty and accuracy, remove “blogger” from my bio!  For some reason, the terrible twins of “dread and drudgery” dominated my thoughts and feelings in recent months when I approached the task of writing.  Those symptoms have subsided considerably, and I am once again sensing the urge to blog.  No, I’m not making any predictions or promises about the frequency of posts in coming weeks and months; I’m just hopeful that my current outlook is an indication that I will once again find enjoyment in writing and sharing as I have in the past.  Thanks to those of you who have kept checking in periodically over the last few months, and welcome to those of you who just happened to stumble upon this blog! 

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My daughter Hannah and I recently returned from a two-week mission trip to Ukraine.  We were based in the city of Donetsk and worked with others from our home church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, in leading VBS/Bible Camps in the cities of Yasinovataya and Gorlovka, while other members of our team worked with churches in Khartsyzsk and Shaktyorsk.  Although Hannah had previous mission trip experience in Estonia and Belize and had traveled with me to Israel in 2006, this was the first opportunity that we had to work together in a mission setting as father and daughter.  What a memorable blessing!  I even got fairly fluent in saying, “She is my daughter,” in Russian.  We were also blessed to be able to work with Brandon and Katie Price, who are wonderful, young, gifted missionaries who live and serve in Kharkov, Ukraine, and are supported by our congregation.  I have previously written about Brandon and Katie. 

Hannah and I returned three days ahead of the rest of the group so that I could preach here in BA on Sunday morning the 15th and then leave that afternoon with Kim and Coleman on a planned vacation.  The journey home to the U.S. and our subsequent travel resulted in the following:  Wednesday night in Donetsk, Thursday night in Kiev, Friday night in Washington, D.C. (after a layover in Munich and a flight cancellation in D.C.), Saturday night in Tulsa (after a re-routed flight and layover in Chicago), Sunday night in Amarillo, and Monday night in Red River, New Mexico.  Three countries, four states, and seven cities in six days.  I think I even threw my jet lag into confusion and somehow managed to sleep soundly whenever I got horizontal and put my head on something soft (including the 3:15 a.m. to 5:15 a.m. “night” in D.C.).

On the flight from Chicago to Tulsa, I dozed off almost immediately after takeoff.  I awoke some time later, totally unaware of how long I might have been asleep.  I raised the window shade and looked down 30,000 feet through a cloudless sky to the ground below.  I had absolutely no idea what state it was.  Were we still over Illinois?  Had we crossed into Missouri yet?  Were we already over Oklahoma and getting close to Tulsa?  You see, the names of the states weren’t printed on the ground like they are on a map.  There were no dashed lines visible from the air that separated one county from another.  The terrain of European countries isn’t color-coded like it appears on a globe. 

From above, it all looks the same.  No borders. 

That’s how God sees the earth.  More specifically, that is how God sees His people in the church of His Son.  We are one family, one people, one nation, one body, and one kingdom, regardless of worldly nationality, language, or ethnicity. 

The Summer Olympics in London will feature impressive and elaborate (and expensive!) opening and closing ceremonies in which hundreds of athletes will march into the stadium behind their respective nations’ flags.  But, Christians of all nations stand united, first and foremost, under the banner of the Cross.  Yes, I feel extremely blessed to be an American citizen, and I experience patriotic stirrings of emotion whenever I see our nation’s flag, especially when traveling abroad.  But I completely agree with the sentiments of Russell D. Moore, expressed in the current issue of Christianity Today, that, “There will come a day when Old Glory yields to an older glory, when the new republic succumbs to a new creation.”

As a spoke to Christians in eastern Ukraine, most often through a translator, I talked about our “one family” in Christ.  I said that, despite our barriers of language now, when we reach our final destination we will experience the blessing of the reversal of the curse of Babel.   We will all speak one language.  Probably Russian, I told them!  They seemed quite pleased!  English?  Mandarin?  Greek?  Hebrew?  Esperanto, perhaps?  Whatever it is, we’ll all know it!  

We’ll no longer need passports.  All who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit will have their documentation that they are citizens of the kingdom of heaven.  And there will be no lost or misdirected luggage; we won’t be taking anything with us.  Everything we need will be graciously supplied and waiting for us there!

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