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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What freedom and forgiveness ARE NOT

For my generation, especially those that have grown up in the church, or been in it long enough to be jaded by the humanity of it (the imperfect, hypocrites that fill the church) of which they themselves fall into, the idea of “freedom in Christ” has turned into a poison that means “I’ll do what I want, and I know God will forgive me”.

Of course there is scripture that directly rebuttals this, I forget exactly where, but I know Paul does write about the “abuse of God’s grace” – getting drunk, and knowing that you will, and not caring, because “God forgives” is an abuse of grace. God isn’t going to forgive a person for something unless there is a truly repentant heart, unless he or she is convicted in their heart and mind that they will change their behavior, but most of all the heart behind it, that they’ll change their heart response.
Yes we have freedom in Christ, freedom to choose his straight path, and freedom to go off of the path.

We have freedom to do just about anything as long as it doesn’t dishonor God. Yes he forgives, but if we choose to do something dishonoring, knowing that it is, and with the dangerous attitude of “he’ll forgive me” then we have a lot of scary things to come. This is pride at its best, and at worst it’s blatantly defiant to the God of the universe, whose forgiveness is NOT free, and whose forgiveness DOES have one condition, of a repentant heart that is willing to humble itself.

We have the church, in all its crap, all its humanity, and in all its beauty, it is here to help us see what we cannot. I’m sorry it’s hurt so much, I’m sorry I’ve hurt so much, but at the heart of it, there is love.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Got sick?

Yep, I have got sick...

The first sickness in well over a year, possibly two... and it's nasty. Cold sweats, hot flashes, headaches, coughing, and all over muscle pain... not so fun.

Been this way since Wednesday, had a breakthrough on Thursday night where I felt normal after asking for some prayer, but I think God wants me to simply have some rest. And that I am... I've been in bed more than I've been out of bed... Rest is good... A little extra strength Tylenol and at least the aches and pains are gone... and I am a staunch "I don't take medicine" kind of person... but I needed relief.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Birthday Wish List

Okay so here is Travis' official 26th birthday wish list!

1. Money - You can PayPal me :P
2. Brian McLaren's "Everything Must Change"
3. Brendon DuBois' "Twilight"
4. Donations for Poland (see the side bar)
5. Update 1/25/08 as my bride pointed out I also want a digital photo frame, not a huge one, just one to go on my desk so I can enjoy my bride, family, and friends.
6. A Thousand Splendid Suns

Dangerous Territory

I know I'm in dangerous territory when I'm feeling discontent. Sometimes discontent is a sign of moving forward, desiring more from life or a person. But I know that in my current scenario, it is not that... I know my direction, I know where I'm headed, I'm just being impatient.

I'm tired of the IT world, I know there are many opportunities to see people and "be a light" in many different places, but my heart is for discipleship. I know that at any point in time the Holy Spirit could guide me to bring people to Him and he could use me for evangelism and I also know that my gift, my "sweet spot" you could say, is for seeing people grow to new understandings and depths in who they are with and in Christ.

I hate offending people, and I hate the awkward pause or looks when people realize that I'm a "church goer"... but I just gotta be me. Most of all I know that Jesus offended people, I'm okay with offending people with His truth... but I refuse to offend people in the name of a "church" or "organization" that calls itself a house of Jesus followers when really all they are doing is shaming people rather than setting them free with God's grace and truth.

So I'm discontent because computers are 1. Not very responsive to God's truth 2. Certainly don't understand grace and 3. Are not very open to discipleship.

Monday, January 21, 2008

How to stay steady...

HA! I have no idea. Everyday is a new day, and each day brings its ups and downs. But, I choose to remain dependent on God and inter-dependent on my brothers and sisters in Christ. I choose to allow my bride to love me, nurture me, and be my helper, and I choose to be vulnerable with her through my ups and downs, and her ups and downs.

For when I fail any of the above, the downs are never padded and feel like I've fallen hard onto concrete and ups take me way out into an orbit beyond Pluto. Neither of which is very healthy.

So I'll stand and remain balanced holding onto what God has shown me, told me, and provided. I'm here to serve, love, and be loved.

and oh yeah, keep it sweetly simple (new version of KISS).

The drive into work.

These pictures don't give any justice to the glory I witnessed this morning. But believe me it was great.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Am I a jack or do I just feel like one?

As I have grown up, moved out, moved on, and moved away from home I have always had a lurking voice and feeling that I'm "just a jack of all trades, and a master of nothing".

There are certainly some things that I'm close to a master, my career for one, but even in that I sometimes feel stupid for not knowing things at times - but that's all of us in this field of I.T., there is just too much to know, it's better to be specialized.

So, with a baby on the way, there's just one more thing to try to measure up to "good dad". Now I "know" that I don't have to measure up to anything, and I know my wife will think I'm just being hard on myself (which again, I "know" I am) and at the same time I am keenly aware of areas that I need to work on. I know that in God's eyes, it only takes effort for him to call us "good and faithful servant". This is what I need to focus on... another step by step moment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

At work

Mobile picture. My cube at work. Fun eh?

Just testing my mobile blogger settings, and it seems that my MMS is now working for larger pictures, yipee!

Monday, January 14, 2008

It makes me cringe

Late last spring Alexis and I were asked to be on one of our church's rotating worship teams, to be background "worshipers" (singing is not our forté). Alexis stepped down once she realized she was pregnant and the rehearsal schedule is pretty tough... for a few months I was just on an off microphone, but after that I was put into the monitors and given the tenor part to sing (there are two other guys and two other woman as well). Everything has been pretty cool, until last Saturday. You see, sometimes we practice the week before, and this week I was the only male voice beside the lead singer/guitar player. Of course that meant I was the only harmony male voice singing the tenor part.

Normally the songs we practice to have each part individually recorded, well we added a song that doesn't yet have that part recorded... guess who got to record... yeah me... SCARY, and HUMILIATING... but a good experience.

Every time I listen to the track it makes me cringe to hear myself, it's quite rough around the edges, a bit out of rhythm (due to being nervous I think) and at times a bit off key... not as bad as I had thought, but bad enough to make me cringe. The worse part is that the other guys, who have infinitely more experience than I, will hear this "master piece" as well and attempt to practice with it... oh fun.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The next step

The moment I gave my life to the Lord was right in the middle of a worship song, and the words were "And step by step you'll lead me, and I will learn to walk in your ways" a song that had been written (at that time) ten years earlier.

I am so thankful that I am still taking each step, learning to walk in His ways. Although I have a bit of a job crisis, and the financial future is unsure, each day brings a blessing of provision, not just in our personal lives but also in our calling. The trip to Poland is almost fundraised, about another $1,000 and we'll be on budget. Praise Jesus.

The words of Jesus say it all "Do not worry about tomorrow, for today brings enough worries of its own".


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The ups and downs

Ever since New Years Day I have been struggling with a case of the "ups and downs". I go from feeling discouraged and unmotivated to amazing God-praising spouts of joy. So what's the root of all this? It's a number of things, thoguh I think the catalyst was finding out at a company meeting that we would all be getting a 25% pay cut for the next 60 days in order to save our bottom line.

That put me into a world wind of emotions, from fear (of the unknown financial impact) to anger (caused by the fear) towards the management for not being more forward looking. I am thankful that they want to keep our team and not let anyone go, but if after 60 days things don't look up, they better let go of some folks, or else I'll be forced to look for a new job, and that is stressful when thinking about having a baby and the insurance ramifications.

I know the next few months won't be easy, many of the little things we like to do (Starbucks, Grabbing a bite with friends, etc) will need to be cut. However, even with the cuts my projected budget shows a shortfall of just over $1,000 a month... that spells doom and gloom towards my "be the provider" mentality.

However, I have found a new spark in all my worship, a new meaning for "surrender", and a new love for the song "Blessed be your name" by Matt Redmond.

Monday, January 07, 2008



  1. To give up into the power, control, or possession of another; specifically(Military) to yield (land, a town, etc.) to an enemy.
  2. To give oneself up into the power of another, especially as a prisoner; to submit or give in to.

Last I checked I wasn't a prisoner of Jesus. Bond-servant yes. But have I given my power, my control, my possessions to Jesus? I have a lot to surrender, from a Lord who does not demand it.

A new read: Holistic Liberal Christian

I found a new blog via "Backyard Missionary", called "Holistic Liberal Christian" (HLC) whose personality desires to be Speculative, broad-minded, frank, and intellectually independent. Already is on the same page as I, although I appear to be on the "mainstream" much of the time, I'm more and more into the ideals of HLC than the main. However the importance of the fellowship is so key to my (and I believe all others) development as a diciple that I feel I have a mission inside the exsisting structure to at least put windows in, where there are 3 feet thick walls at the moment.

So, take a look, the books, videos, and other resources are great brain food especially considering missions.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My internal conflictions

A quick list of things that I'm struggling to grasp right now in my life and walk with Jesus.

  1. Raising funds without sounding like a broken record/beggar (see previous post, didn't the apostles help the beggars though , but they didn't enable them to continue in poverty, right?)
  2. Dicipling a generation and/or individual people that are not open to confrontation, either they are afraid to confront others about moral issues, or they don't allow others to confront themselves. The big defense: DON'T JUDGE ME! Where did this reaction start? Where did loving someone into a closer relationship turn into condemnation?
  3. How to love people through differences. I'm a person that loves to disciple people, hates to offend, yet I am a disciple of Jesus, which Jesus naturally offends people. Sometimes I am so passionate about discipling on things like, the importance of living above reproach, all are called to ministry (we all have gifts for the kingdom), the blessing of living and walking in moral authority, that all I want to do is either ring people's necks who blatantly live lives contrary to this, or I just get depressed and grieve over the state of people I love.
  4. A regular, near daily, prayer-life. A prayer life that focuses on God, and his relationship to me and others, not just a selfish, me-centered prayer life, but one that is about moving forward and listening (such as listening about these four areas).
  5. Added 10:05 - The conflict of our needs, and other's resources. This is a completely jealous conflict ion, but one none the less that I struggle with. Alexis and I pour a lot of our resources into our calling, our time, our money, and our relationships, it's all about our calling for discipleship. All around us though we see people spending their time and money on their own desires, cars, houses, that in our opinion (and judgmentally) are well beyond what they need. Why does a single 24 year old need a new Mercedes? Why does a single 25 year old spend over $600 a month in entertainment? Just some thoughts.

So those are the four, now five big things in my life that I feel stuck on right now. I don't expect to just "get it" one day, I expect though to process through these things, some of them probably for the rest of my life (2 and 3). But I do expect for me to take responsibility in these areas, to do the hard things and ask, to address people on things when I feel conflict yet all in Grace and with the basis that no matter the outcome my care for them won't change - that my friends is how Jesus lived.

Updated 10:00 am. - Each of these things I think is related to surrender, we/I need to surrender and allow God and his church to do it's work, unhindered. We have to live as examples, so if we do something that isn't above reproach - that is against the path that Jesus has called us to live - we must surrender it. It's not easy, it's a self-less act that says I will follow my Lord, even though my desire is something different. Sometimes even our God-given desires are not the right path, for the time. I know this, I've lived it, I'm living it right now. So instead of crying about it, I'm living my life on the path, and it's full of blessings! A CHILD! A BABY GIRL. That wouldn't be such a blessing if I/we had gone on our own whim on our own path.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

So it takes money... and some honey.

I have been struggling with the idea of fundraising for a long time now. One part of me would like to do some tent making after we move to Poland, or find some way of supporting our selves, the other part really does not want to take time away from ministry.

So I struggle with asking for funds because I am an independent person, I struggle with not asking because my heart wants to be available for full-time ministry. The truth is that we must find a balance between being funded from outside and doing tent-making. Full-time missions and ministry will certainly become much harder in the years ahead, and I'm sure that if we are anywhere near the end-times it won't even be possible.

I'm glad that I have skills that can be used all around the world, who knows, maybe my company will expand to Europe, maybe it won't, but maybe I can become the remote admin or something. There's a lot of things I could do.

Thinking back though I should also hold onto a promise we heard God tell us a few years ago, that we would be sent, with full financial and authoritative support from our church body. Right now though, that's just a glimmer, we haven't started any formal process, except leading small teams on short trips. What does full financial support look like? I guess that is the real question. Is it a job? Is it committed donors?

We don't want to be independent, we want to be inter-dependent on God and his body, and the gifts he's given us. So the honey? It's the sweet reasurance of God's provision and hand in the unknown. With the knowledge and faith of all that he has given and continues to provide.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Trip update and newsletter!

Cześć! Każdy! (chesch kashzdy, y makes an i sound as in it)
Hi! Everyone!

Yep, I know, most of you are tired of reading letters, updates, etc... I know I have a hard time reading them as well. So here's the scoop. Please read the letter, it's much more interesting and has information on our FUTURE beyond the short trips, but if you truly don't have the time AND you already know our hearts, and you just want the basic information then read below and skip the letter.

When: February 16-24
Who: Travis and a friend from Arizona (as Alexis is pregnant, and baby Emma is due on March 30th!)
What: A leaders retreat, to train and equip Polish leaders in doing ministry in their own country
Where: Poland, where else? :P
Cost: Plane tickets are purchased, we still need about $2,000 Asking for only $30 from 80 more people.

Serving our Lord with your parnership,With love,
Travis & Alexis Mielonen

Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. – C. S. Lewis