Barefoot Blog

Join the Journey

This blog is where we process questions about theology, community, and life after the walls of Modernity are fallen.

This is a journey, barefoot, unprotected, unguarded.

We don’t always know where this journey will take us.

We are seeking a community of adventurers who choose to be a witness of Christ's resurrection in a pluralistic society.

Join us. Let us know if you’re also going barefoot.

Going Barefoot

Luke 10:3-4 Go! …Do not take… sandals.

I love to go barefoot in the summertime. I love sand between my toes. But going shoeless has a much deeper meaning.

Think about it. We wear shoes to protect our feet. Removing your shoes makes you vulnerable. Symbolically, biblical characters would remove their shoes in obedience to God. It demonstrated their willingness to give up their rights and to be vulnerable. It's like removing shoe leather that protects the heart. When we "go barefoot," we gain greater intimacy with God.

David wept when his son led a rebellion to take over the kingdom of Israel. When he walked out of his kingdom, his “head was covered, and he went barefoot.” (2 Sam. 15:30) David was guilty of adultery and murder. Therefore, he denied himself the right to fight for the throne. But because he gave up his rights, God promised David a kingdom that would never end.

Each of us has rights as citizens of our nations. We also have a right to food, water, clothing, family, and home. But when we hold too tightly to our rights, we often do so at the expense of a relationship with God and others.

Here's the thing. You cannot enjoy intimate relationships with anyone without giving up rights.

God gave us mothers as a perfect example. They deny their rights when they carry us in their bodies for nine months, suffer labor, and bleed. Then, when we are born, they wake up all hours to tend to our needs as helpless babies who can do nothing in return but smile and poop!

Denying rights is about winning and losing, but not the way you think. We may try to win by holding tightly to our rights, but then we lose real relationships. Suppose we refuse to relinquish our rights to comforts, privacy, time, money, and even the right to offer our opinion. Those who fail to give up their rights cannot enjoy being around people, including family, neighbors, and strangers seeking friendships.

Moses was told to take his shoes off when he met God at the burning bush (Exo. 3:1-10). When he obeyed, his feet were unprotected. He became vulnerable. He was told he stood on holy ground. It was a moment of intimate connection with a holy God.

What is intimacy? It's being close enough to hear the heart of another person. Moses came close enough to hear God share his breaking heart over the suffering children of Israel.

Going barefoot is a sign of a person who has given up their rights to become an intimate friend of God.

Jesus went barefoot. He gave up his rights more than any other. Jesus gave up the glories of heaven for less than a foxhole. Jesus because he laid down his life for us (John 10:17). Jesus came to show us the Father. When we give up our rights, we also help others to know God. Let’s go barefoot!

How to Discern Your Calling

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet."

  • Frederick Buechner

The Problem of Pain

“In creating beings with freewill, omnipotence from the outset submits to the possibility of… defeat. What you call defeat, I call miracle; for to make things which are not Itself and thus to become… capable of being resisted by its own handiwork, is the most astonishing and unimaginable of all the feats we attribute to the Deity.”

  • C. S. Lewis

Do not Fear

Fear may be the most significant obstacle that keeps us from fulfilling our purpose.

What is FEAR? Here's a definition: False Expectations Appearing Real. F.E.A.R.

Ultimately, FEAR is less about what we know than it is what we do not know. It’s worry.

Worry is a bunch of negative thoughts, images, and emotions flooding the mind. Worry makes you feel powerless. Most worries are about something that doesn’t even exist.

Isa. 43:1b-2 “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Stay a while

Where do you experience the deepest friendships? There’s something about the table, sitting with family, friends, and especially strangers welcomed with a cup of coffee or tea, a shared meal, and a conversation.

It’s easy. Food is more than a necessity. It’s a celebration of life. Mealtimes are opportunities to connect with neighbors. Invite someone to stay a while. Listen to their stories. Who knows what difference a table conversation might have?

"What is there more kindly than the feeling between host and guest?" – Aeschylus

When Your Degree Doesn’t Matter

Wil Schroter, CEO at Startups.com writes,

“Your degree is just the most expensive piece of artwork from your past.”


Ouch! Why? He explains it all in this one sentence:

“In our time we’ve seen very little correlation or causality between the level of education people have achieved and their ability to excel at their jobs.”


So, take a look in the mirror and get real honest with yourself. What do you seek? GPA? Salary? Stuff? How about thinking bigger? How about making a difference?


Time to think about making your mark. Steve Jobs said,

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”


Challenge yourself. Consider the difference you can make for others. Your future is just up ahead.

Fly like an Eagle

Can you recall that moment when you overcame a fear? Like learning to ride a bike, or going out on your first date, like traveling to a foreign country, or standing up to sing a solo or give a speech?

When you did that, your world became bigger. That’s when you fly like an eagle.

Why do people get inspired by an eagle in flight? Why do we hang portraits of eagles and place them on our coins? Why don’t we do the same with chickens? Because a chicken has too small a world to inspire us. They peck at the ground by their feet. Eagles have perspective.

Passion

Passion is a word used in philosophical discussions about emotions. Passion means “to suffer.”

Have you ever taken a personality test? Have you assessed your spiritual or motivational gifts? These tests will not reveal your passion or what you are willing to suffer.

Darrow Miller, the author of Life Work, writes: “We spend 50 to 75% of our waking hours and 60 to 90% of the years of our lives working. Yet many of us never invest even a fraction of that time exploring the vision that drives our lives and work.”

Fork in the Road

We have one choice. Like a fork in the road, there's a signpost with clearly inscribed names for two pathways. One road is named "The Way of Increase," and the other is named "The Way of Decrease".



Unbreakable?

"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. To keep it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."

― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

You are made for love. Walls may be built around your heart because you are too afraid to get hurt. But take heart. Be strong. Be courageous enough to be vulnerable.

You are made for love. Get out there and love the world God made for you.

Tomorrowland

On a flight from Singapore to Tokyo, my conversation with the man sitting next to me took a sad turn. He’s a merchant marine on his way back to sell his condo in Boston and build his new house on 12 acres in Maine. He said,

“When the nukes go off, radioactive fallout will be driven across much of the Mid-Atlantic, but the currents won’t reach Maine.”

He asked what I do, and I replied that I equip people from many nations with a gospel of hope to do valuable service in every sphere of influence. He said he’s a Christian too, but then he said:

“People aren’t prepared for the end times.”

It seems we have two very different views of the future. Two very different gospels.

One, I believe, is filled with fear and despair resulting in desperate acts of self-protection. The other is marked by faith and hope for a future that ultimately fulfills Christ’s great commission to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:18-20)

Though the perils of the fallenness of our humanity and the wicked schemes of our adversary may tragically affect some of us, I believe God’s will is to complete that which he began. He watches over all of his Word to perform it. (Jer. 1:12)

On this same flight, I caught a Disney movie called Tomorrowland. George Clooney stars in this apocalyptic story of the future. I’ll not spoil it for you, but I will give you a central theme. Casey, a teenage girl, recalls a story with a question her father, a NASA scientist, told her when she was a small child. It goes like this:

“Two wolves lived in the wilderness. One is despair and hopelessness. The other is hope and possibility. Which one survives?”

ANSWER:

“The wolf that survives is the one you feed.”

I suggested to my new friend that he consider Abraham’s prayer for his neighboring cities. Abraham appealed to God to hold back his judgment if only ten righteous people could be found there. (Gen. 18:32)

God responded to the prayers of one person who believed he could be appealed to for a different future. Today about 2.5 billion Christians are living on this planet. Sadly, not all of those believers are in a conversational relationship with God. Not all are “feeding” hope and possibility. Not all are dreaming of God’s big dreams for all humanity and all of his creation.

We don’t know better than God, but he will respond when we talk to him and listen. He has dreams for tomorrow and every tribe, tongue, and nation.

What are your dreams for tomorrow?

George Washington Carver

You know the hero’s tale. An unlikely and ill-prepared young person is caught up in the broader story, rising out of devastating difficulties only to change history. Do you know anyone like that? One of my heroes is George Washington Carver.

George was born an African Slave as the Civil War ended. His father died in a tragic accident when he was still an infant. He was kidnapped, and severe whooping cough permanently affected him physically.

To make matters worse, his mother and sisters died. However, he and his brother were raised by a German immigrant couple. George worked very hard to put himself through college at Iowa State. Soon people across the country heard about his research in Agriculture.

Booker T. Washington invited George to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he put together their Agricultural Studies Department. He did practical research to help farmers. He taught them crop rotation, fertilization, erosion prevention, and soil depletion due to years of repeated cotton growth.

Carver’s work helped revolutionize the South’s economy by discovering and popularizing uses for the peanut and dozens of other crops.

Carver was a spiritual man. Devastating loss, which might have caused him to become bitter and angry, did not stop him from seeking ways to make the world a better place, especially for former slaves in the South. He writes:

“Human need is really a great spiritual vacuum which God seeks to fill. God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed before if we put our hands in His.”

What makes a hero? It’s their spirit. Heroes stand apart from the majority because they believe. Here’s another revealing look at the spirit of George Washington Carver. He encouraged his friend James Hardwick:

“I am praying that God will come in and rid you entirely of self so you can go out after souls right, or rather have souls seek the Christ in you. This is my prayer for you always.”

The Bible is filled with hero stories. The stories in the Bible are great reading. But more importantly, reading those stories can change your spirit too. It can send you on a hero’s mission.

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” – Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia

(Many thanks to Bill Federer for much of his research for this post.)

A Church that Loves

By John Henry


Imagine a church that loves God enough to make the Mission of God their highest priority. Imagine being a part of a church where you regularly hear a passion for God’s Mission. Here is a list of nine characteristics, like the nine Spiritual Gifts in 1 Cor. 12, that represents a church that loves God’s Mission:

  1. A church that loves God teaches the Mission of God, that every Christ follower is called to participate in His unswerving commitment to transform every nation through every vocation. The Leaders understand that the Great Commission includes simultaneously reaching people who have never heard the gospel while also shining the light of God’s truth in every sphere of influence in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).

  2. A church that loves God is committed to the missionary task until every unreached people group has an indigenous multiplying church movement and the Bible in their language. The leaders know that God is calling some members to become full-time vocational missionaries to be sent by the church. Everyone knows God is working in the church to challenge every believer to give, pray, go, or help in some way. The church members know that Jesus is coming again. However, they know God is calling them to finish the task he gave them. And they know they should not only go overseas but also cross cultures in their city and nation where there are people who have crossed cultural barriers from distant countries and unreached people groups, some of whom will be found in university communities, in the marketplace, and the neighborhoods. (Matt. 24:14)

  3. A church that loves God loves all peoples, every ethnicity in every nation. The church members believe everyone must hear the gospel to become Christian. The leaders recognize they are to “call out the called” that everyone needs to know God and to make Him known. They know the Bible’s teaching about lostness and salvation for everyone who calls on His Name, which truly motivates them. One of the ways they participate is by showing hospitality, opening their hearts and homes to genuinely love strangers from distant places. (Heb. 13:2)

  4. A church that loves God plants churches among the unreached. The church’s budget shows missions to the unreached as a priority. They have adopted an unengaged, unreached people UUPG group to pray for—and make sure to pray for them in worship services and small groups. (Rom. 15:20)

  5. A church that loves God measures church growth by the number of members sent out as missionaries and those actively making a difference as representatives of God’s Mission in their daily lives. They do not only measure growth by the numbers brought to services, conversions, or in various disciple groups but also by affirming and celebrating members of the church who are taking the gospel to the nations and bringing Christ’s lordship to every sphere of influence. (Acts 14:27)

  6. A church that loves God recognizes they are to teach a “Christian understanding of work,” that work is the natural exercise and function of humankind – because we are made in the image of God. The Leaders give frequent and urgent calls to join God’s Mission to redeem every sphere of influence through their work. The Leaders affirm every kind of work as worship. (Col. 3:23)

  7. A church that loves God gives sacrificially toward short-term missions and to long-term missionaries. The church knows they are called to participate in God’s Mission to “fill the earth with His glory,” and among those who participate in short-term missions, some will be called to long-term missionary vocations. The church’s budget, therefore, is heavily committed to the support of missionaries, and they frequently give unique offerings for missions. Sacrifice marks the people. (2 Cor. 9:7)

  8. A church that loves God takes good care of its missionaries. They commission and send them out, but those are only early steps in the care of cross-cultural workers. They pray for them, provide care packages, occasionally send short-term teams to support them, and keep the church informed about them. They have a dedicated and trained mission board, committed to keeping the vision of God’s Mission and the missionary task at their church's core. (2 Cor. 9:12)

  9. A church that loves God provides missions training and typically requires it, for anyone participating in a short-term trip. They know the importance of presenting the gospel. (2 Tim. 2:2)


The truth is, God’s Church does not have a mission (as if it were a department or a budget line item); instead, God’s Mission has a Church.


This is not a legalistic set of rules. Every church, like every believer, is on a journey toward a more profound love of God. The fact is, there are no perfect churches and no perfect believers. God chooses to use imperfect people, but when we love God, it’s easier to prioritize His Mission.

Holiness is more than intimacy with God

At Easter I wrote about Holiness, that holiness is intimacy with God. I described how Bernard of Clairvaux’s 14th-century hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, was a personal and public pre-Reformation plea for an intimate relationship with Christ.

I return to this subject because I did not adequately describe the beauty and purpose of holiness. There’s something else at work here. Holiness is also an outward response to that intimate friendship. To live in holiness, we must walk in holiness. The apostle Paul writes:

I am a prisoner because of the Lord. So I am asking you to live a life worthy of what God chose you for. – Eph. 4:1

Building on the foundation that I laid in the previous post: Holiness is more than intimacy with God. Holiness is both:

  1. Personal intimacy resulting from relationship in righteousness through faith and

  2. Public witness of ethical behavior. God’s people are called to represent God’s holiness to a hurting world.


Holiness is not merely intimacy; it is also action and ethical behavior within the community and with all people. Old Testament scholar Christopher Wright‘s book, The Mission of God, explains that holiness is manifest through ethical behavior, works of righteousness. The New Testament narrows it down to loving our neighbors. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you have fulfilled all the law and the prophets. Holiness, in contemporary language, may best be summed up in social justice. Paul writes:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Please understand, you do not earn holiness through any actions of your own. Neither are you holy if you simply do good works of social justice. However, those who have been called to intimate friendship with God have no choice about whether or not they are to love their neighbor, through ethical behavior in and through their community and through acts of mercy and social justice among the nations.

To be sure, holiness literally means to be ‘set apart,’ to be wholly different. God is holy, completely different, other than all other gods. And God in Christ Jesus calls his people to be holy as he is holy. Israel was also called to be holy, unlike any other nation.

In his book The Mission of God, Christopher J.H. Wright outlines the nature of being “set apart”, the election of Israel. Israel’s election:

  • Is in the context of God’s blessing of “every nation”

  • Does not imply rejection of other nations

  • Is not due to special features of Israel

  • Is founded only on God’s inexplicable love

  • Is instrumental, not an end in itself

  • Is part of the logic of God’s commitment to history

  • Is fundamentally missional, not just soteriological

When God accepts us and welcomes us into close fellowship with him through the blood of Christ, we are “MADE HOLY.” That holiness calls us to be wholly different:

Finally, brothers and sisters, we taught you how to live in a way that pleases God. In fact, that is how you are living. In the name of the Lord Jesus we ask and beg you to do it more and more.You know the directions we gave you. They were given by the authority of the Lord Jesus. God wants you to be made holy. – I Thes. 4:1-3

Photo of YWAM university ministry in Cartagena, Colombia.

Pray for Universities


From The Invitation, A YWAM International Prayer Initiative. (September 9, 2021)

by John Henry.


Pray with us for God’s purposes for higher education. More students than ever are enrolling in universities. A newly updated study by the ICEF Monitor, the leading market intelligence resource for the education industry, shows that the number of students attending university has doubled in the past 20 years and is projected to double again in the next 20 years. The future will be shaped by these students and their ideas and practices as well as the events that occur on their campuses. Please pray for these students right now and on our prayer day, September 9.

  1. Pray for universities and students near your community, and for any institution of higher education where students you know are enrolled. Pray for those suffering from anxieties and other mental health issues. Pray for those experiencing Covid-related stress. Pray for good relationships between students and their parents.

  2. Pray for former YWAMers and other believers currently studying in university. Pray for their continued spiritual formation and active engagement in Christ’s mission. Pray for believing students to study abroad as a means to become ambassadors for Christ in other nations. Pray that stories of faith and courage on campus would be retold and published to encourage a new generation of students to join Jesus’ mission.

  3. Pray for international students from unreached people groups and creative-access nations, for the planting of campus fellowships for them. Pray that these students would be empowered to reach their own people throughout the world.

  4. Pray for YWAM’s Campus Ministries. Pray for YWAM’s University of the Nations Student Mobilization Centre (http://stucentre.com), which aims to mobilize university students of all nations on every campus worldwide to God’s purposes for their lives. Pray for a new wave of student interns led and hosted by YWAMers and friends of YWAM (www.ywamconverge.org). YWAM interns have established therapy routines in orphanages, set up working pharmacies, developed healthy nutritional plans for hospices, taught forgiveness education to refugees, and created curricula for schools. Pray for equipping new YWAM missionaries to universities through training programs such as the School of University Ministries & Missions (Course Details).


Suggestions for Group or Individual Prayer

  • Take two minutes to jot down a list of former YWAMers and other people you know currently in university.

  • Visit a local university and pray there.


Take Action

  • Show hospitality to international students far from home by providing transport, sharing a meal, or through language practice.

  • Help students to serve and learn about poverty, disease, illiteracy, impure water, human trafficking, domestic violence, drug abuse, homelessness, at-risk youth, etc.

  • Partner with student organizations to distribute Bibles and conduct Bible engagement activities.

  • Set aside time to pray on campus and then post a video or blog about the prayer time. #PraytheCampus