The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Archive for July 2006

While packing

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suitcases.jpgI hate to pack. Hate it badly enough that I get the jitters when packing time comes around.

So we’re on vacation in Minnesota. After a week at the cabin, it’s time to go home. Pack-up and clean-up day. Jitters day.

Perhaps I’m jittery because I’ve often done poorly at interacting with the people I love while packing. And perhaps I’ve often done poorly at loving them then because I’m overwhelmed by the task. (I’m supposed to figure out what to wear next week? You want to get home with even numbers of shoes? Honestly, now, isn’t this a little perfectionistic?) Read the rest of this entry »

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July 31, 2006 at 6:26 pm

from missionaries Marvin and Patty Thrasher in PNG

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Rec’d this update from friends Marvin and Patty in Papua New Guinea. I publish it here with their pethrasher-marvin-patty-1.jpgrmission, along with this map. Maybe you’d like to pray along with them . . .

Dear Friends and Family, It has been too long since we’ve sent you an update on what is going on in PNG and in our lives. God has richly blessed us in many ways and we want to praise and lift up His name.District Assemblies were held in March with Dr. Nina Gunter presiding as our General Superintendent. She was very well received by the people of PNG, blessing and inspiring all of us with her powerful sermons. There were three ladies ordained at the Western Highlands District assembly. They were the first women ever to receive elders credentials in PNG. [Hooray! – Monte]

The MNBC building projects are progressing at a satisfying rate. God has been faithful to provide funds in so many different ways. The first six new houses for married students Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

July 22, 2006 at 9:10 am

Make Poverty History

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Have you seen the website of the UK organization Make Poverty History? For those of us who live in the US, it’s a thought-provoking approach to one of Jesus’ passions. Click the pic to see it.

I’d especially encourage you to check out these excellent short video clips: click to go to vids.  There are links for both 56k and broadband connections.

Your thoughts?

Written by Monte

July 22, 2006 at 8:37 am

Posted in Poverty

Talking and listening

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I’m talking to a friend. She tells me something painful about herself. I know something about that situation. I tell her what I know.

In Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Science of Everyday Life, Steven Johnson writes of Mouth of Bachchatting up the therapist who was giving him a biofeedback session. Johnson makes a witty comment, and the electronics spike. Later on, another joke, another spike. So it goes.

Turns out the machine measures certain chemicals present in the body. Whether the chemicals surge when he readies himself to spring the joke, or just after, in the satisfaction of having been amusing, he can’t tell. But he knows he is a person who all-too-readily cracks jokes in uncomfortable – even risky – social situations. Could it be that the reason for the humor is to receive a chemical rush of comfort? Not to entertain others, but to self-medicate?

Johnson’s story reminded me of my conversation with my friend. I wish I had asked her more about what she was feeling. I’d like to know more about how what’s going on in her life is affecting her. I could, at least, communicate that someone wanted to see, to hear.

Instead, I talked about myself. Why?

Maybe I deal with awkwardness by reassuring myself that I know things. Maybe my worth in my own mind hinges upon having some expertise to contribute. Maybe I turn conversations to deftly edge them away from others’ pains and toward my own comfort. Likely, the process squirts some chemical around in my brain that says, “Ah, relax. You’re not an idiot. You know something. They’ll be impressed. Doesn’t that feel good?

And it does. Trouble is, it isn’t love. Maybe it’s a habit left over from a default self-image that Jesus Christ is gradually healing. At any rate, it seems like an unnecessary self-indulgence that uses my friends – rather than serving them – all the while masquerading as compassion.


I wonder if Jesus was funny. I am pretty sure he saw value in play, and that he enjoyed people a great deal. But as I read of him, I am often astonished at his emotional wholeness.  He wouldn’t need to crack jokes to calm his own heart. His humor – and his conversation generally – would serve another purpose. He would be free – free to love, having found his own needs met in quietness before his Father.

What does that look like? As my own wholeness grows, what will I look like?

Written by Monte

July 18, 2006 at 10:21 am

Posted in Jesus, Loving

Strength and weakness inside-out

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Here are a couple of treasures for Sunday, July 9. What a joy it will be to preach these diamonds of grace! What beauties will they uncover about our Master and his kingdom? Can’t wait. Especially, I catch the breath of the coming kingdom in the un-needy-ness of Jesus, and in the way weaknesses become paths to God for Paul. Ooh – ooh! Better than fireworks!

What surprises do you find? Could you share them with me (us)?
Mark 6:1-13

Just a Carpenter

He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along. On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. “We had no idea he was this good!” they said. “How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?”

But in the next breath they were cutting him down: Read the rest of this entry »

Despair to hope

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click for larger versionEeyow! Last Sunday’s lectionary Scriptures, at first glance, looked, uh … impossible comes to mind.

First, there was David’s lament over the tragic deaths of Saul and Jonathan from 2 Samuel 1. Now there’s good news to work with.

Second, there was Psalm 130: From the depths of despair I cry to you . . .

Then things got brighter. The gospel reading was about Jesus healing a woman with a menstrual problem while on the way to heal a bigshot’s daughter (from Mark).

And the epistle reading was Paul’s admonition to the church in Corinth to give generously to support the starving church in Jerusalem.

I’ll confess, a week ago I wondered if there was some mistake here! What could God possibly have to say through such a diverse set of Scriptures? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

July 5, 2006 at 12:22 am

An Email to the Governor

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Ordinary personIowa’s Governor Tom Vilsack has recently and publicly hoped that the Democratic party agenda will be shaped by ordinary people. Feeling ordinary enough, I decided to send him a note, which I include here:

Dear Governor Vilsack:

You have publicly expressed hope that ordinary people will shape the agenda of the Democratic party in coming years. Here is an ordinary person’s agenda item:

Why not create a foreign policy that addresses the causes of terrorism, rather than its results alone?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

July 4, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Iraq, Terrorism