The world is ending

image.jpg

(Spoiler alert: This post may offend some people, but it is not my intention.) 

I hear so much doomsday theology out there. "Christians" thinking the world is ending, the stock market is crashing, a natural disaster is coming...

Yesterday I got this email from a friend in China:

Hi Noah, just wanted to ask your opinion on all of the "doomsday" stuff going out on social media at the moment predicting total wipe out of stocks etc.?

Feeling a tad spunky and bold these days, I decided to shoot straight in my answer.  Here was my reply:

Hello my friend. Without going into too much detail and with the risk of sounding quite frank, I'll give you my uncensored answer. It's a lot of BS and these things require much discernment. Many of the people talking about end times and the world falling apart are highly religious… And I don't mean the good kind of religious. Most of this talk employs fear tactics which in my opinion are anti-kingdom.

The way of Christ is the way of peace and hope. And perfect love drives out all fear. So I choose to invest my energy, language and theology toward radical kingdom love and stay out of all of this other craziness.

If the world crumbles, my loving father is ready to receive me. Meanwhile let's just love the lord with all our hearts and love people. So much more fun that way! 

Is that too honest or offensive?

Noah

Now, here is the challenge for me...I need the Lord to help me keep a pure heart toward those who I disagree with. Real love cannot pick and chose who it will extend itself to. I must be just as driven to love the religious and afraid as I am anyone else. 

Jesus locked in a church

image.jpg

So, I've been conducting a 3 year long experience. I like to talk to strangers and make new friends. I know. You're surprised. I will often come right out and bring Jesus up. I'll say something like: 

 "I'm really fascinated with Jesus. He is so incredible. I love him so much. Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? What do you think of him?"

And here's the reply 95% of the time:

"Yeah, I go to church every Sunday!" 

Church? I never asked you if you went to church. I asked you about Jesus.  I understand the connection and the response. But it's very revealing. 

It completely terrifies me that so few "Chrsitians" can manage a normal discussion about the person of Jesus without bringing up a church.  

Is Jesus locked up in a church or alive in our lives?  

Let's talk more about Jesus! And let's not limit our discovery of and connection to Him to a certain time and place. 

The Hurtful Compliment

image.jpg

I love to affirm people. I find joy in stating God's truth about how wonderful you are. I've long felt people are too stingy with their affirmation. Some people think I'm too generous with it. But I don't plan on changing anything anytime soon. 

Strange as it seems, I have discovered a very hurtful compliment that many folks seem to easily give. It's caused plenty of people a fair share of hurt and confusion. The compliment? 

"You've grown so much! " (or some variation of such) 

Seems kind enough, huh? 

The problem is that sometimes they actually haven't grown. They've been this way a long time.  You've just finally taken the time and effort to get to know them! And now, what you've come to discover is so much more than what you (prematurely) judged. In fact, they haven't grown. You just never knew them. And now you want to blame their growth for your lack of effort. 

My advice? Be careful with this one. First ask yourself if you ever knew them, before you tell them how much they've grown. Otherwise you may just be revealing something unpleasant about YOU. 

You may wonder why such a nice remark could hurt. But it can. And it does. I've experienced it. And so have some of my friends. 

Let's take the time to know people before concluding their weaknesses. And let's be sure we've put in the time to know them before we draw out conclusions about growth in their personal journey.

Even though your heart may have been pure and the remark true to you....what you thought would be a compliment, may actually be an insult. 

Transition, Missed Flights & Underwear

 Feel like this photo captures something of family life amidst transition. Packed cars, no seats, improvising with foam purchased on the roadside.  

Feel like this photo captures something of family life amidst transition. Packed cars, no seats, improvising with foam purchased on the roadside.  

In the missions world you hear lots of talk about how "transition" is so hard. If I'm honest, I've often wondered why people act like it's such a big deal. I wondered if transition just took the blame for something else people weren't admitting about themselves.  

And then it hit me. And it hit me hard. Last month. On my way to East Africa. 

After a flurry of craziness to get out of the house with all our suitcases, we checked in and were rushing to the gate in Cape Town. Alas, we were off. We arrived in Johannesburg and made good on our coffee "layover" appointment with a friend at the airport. We thoroughly enjoyed our chat. So much so that I paid no attention to the time- or my boarding pass. After running through the airport (3 of us, mind you), we arrived at the gate at 9:51 for our 10:10 flight. The gate was closed at 9:50. And they were not budging. We missed our flight. I was flooded with emotion like I hadn't been in a long, long time. I banged the counter. Then stormed off. Within 60 seconds I was now crying. After negotiating for 2 hours, we nestled into the reality that we would not be getting to Nairobi until tomorrow and that I would be missing several strategic meetings. And not without spending more money (than we had budgeted). 

We arrive in Nairobi the next day, unpack, and realize I packed ZERO underwear.  

July 15: call Tricia from Johannesburg crying that I've missed my flight. #notme

July 16: call Tricia from Nairobi that I have no underwear. #notme

July 17: Tricia messages me "I'm very worried about you. You're really not yourself. I think you might be totally underestimating the impact that this transition is having on you." 

July 18: I cry a lot, grab hold of what I'm feeling and finally admit it. I'm not doing well. 

Transition is hard! And transition with a family is NO JOKE. 

My tendency is to happy-up the crowd. Minimize the pain. We got this. Come on guys! What an adventure. God is good. Yeah, Noah, God IS good, but transition is not always GOOD and right now it feels BAD. It hurts. 

In the days that followed our family journeyed around Kenya and Scouted Tanzania. And we felt many strange emotions. It was a "MESSessary" trip. We are so glad we went. We will be so much more prepared when we arrive in 2016.   

The more Tricia and I processed, God showed us what we are actually facing. Quintuple Transition! 

  1. Exit South Africa. 
  2. Enter America. 
  3. Have a baby.  
  4. Exit America.  
  5. Enter Tanzania.  

5 major transitions in 10 months. Starting now. On your mark, get set. Go!

This is not funny. With a family of 4, soon to be 5. But when this penny dropped for me, it changed everything.  

However, I still longed for language to capture what exactly makes transition so hard...until I had a deep heart conversation with a friend in Kenya who drove it home for me in a way I'll never forget. 

When we are in transition, we are forced to make many new decisions every day. Decisions you don't normally make. Strange ones. Hard ones. Emotional ones. Ones that impact your bank account. Your marriage. Your home. Your kids. Pack this. Don't pack that. Book that flight. Cancel that appointment. Change that plan. Schedule this. Sell that. And on and on it goes. Weird, new, once off decisions abound. And as you make them, your capacity (which is limited!) lessens. Your capacity for "normal" decisions just is not what it "normally" is. So a pile of clothes in the floor overwhelms you. "I can't pick that up right now", you yell. Or your kids first warning sounds like their fifth. You're on edge. You're actually literally less of a person in the midst of transition, my friend explained. And how right he is. 

Bandwidth is limited.  

Capacity is less.  

Transition is hard! And somehow now my missed flight and underwear adventure seems to make a bit more sense. 

What Happened in Tanzania?

 Davis helping Esther carry the morning bath water. 

Davis helping Esther carry the morning bath water. 

 (Here is our last newsletter. To join our mailing list, click on "contact us" above.)

Arusha is a great city! About 500,000 people in the city itself with more across the region. It is basically located on the equator, but It is about 4,500 feet above sea level making it cool every day. Days are normally around 70/75 and nights are usually around 60/65. (Sorry metric friends.) The city is at the foot of Mt. Meru, the “little brother of Mt. Kilimanjaro" which is about 100km down the road. Spectacular place, really. 


Well, we discovered that not learning Swahili is not an option!! When we arrived in Arusha the first day, I had to ask 8 people for help with directions before the 9th one spoke (some) English. Even one phrase of Swahili from a muzungu (white person) goes a long way toward building relationships. It is just more confirmation toward what the Lord has already spoken…we will be dedicating our first two years in Tanzania to learning language and culture (so, in case you want to ask what we will be doing….the answer is learning language)! We were already invited to lead a conference and training in April 2016 when we arrive. We declined. It will take loads of self control to obey this word of the Lord to stay focussed on language. We will need your prayers. 

God is for us! The favor and guidance of the Lord was so clear to us during our days in Arusha. One blessing led to the next. One relationship opened doors to the next. From silly things like bag storage to serious things like medical care, God seemed to coach us right along. Oh, and we even got 1 year visas at the border so they’ll still be valid when we move next year! 

People of peace! We were astounded by how the Lord led us to people that unlocked things for us. We met at least five significant gateway people in just one week. A missionary. A pastor. A real estate agent. A government leader. And a community elder (woman well respected in the city). That’s not to mention the woman that we met on day two that kept our kids for us several times (we all trusted and loved her instantly). Oh, and Davis made a great friend….a young boy named Daniel who spent lots of time with us. It was a major joy to let locals teach us about the city, to show us around. We NEEDED them. We could not have done it without them. We know that part of honoring culture IS to need them, and we don’t want that to stop. 

Finally, we discovered that it won’t be easy. This trip was extremely worthwhile for emotional preparation as a family! For those that know much about where we have lived for the last five years (Cape Town), you know that it is not hard. Arusha will be. In a sense, it’s like we are moving to completely different context even though it is still “Africa.” Tanzania is very different. Much harder. The roads are no joke. We had electricity about 12 out of 24 hours per day. The luxuries just aren’t there. But it’s good, because we aren’t going there for luxuries. We are going for people. And for Jesus, the one who spoke to us and called us as a family. So, the adventure continues! 

We love you and thank God for you!! Your partnership with us in faith, finance and friendship makes all of this possible. 

Noah, Tricia, Davis, Lily and baby boy whose name we've chosen (may share that soon, too). 😉

Visit our blog at www.noahkaye.com 

Donate toward our work at www.emm.org/donate 
__________

What’s our plan, practically speaking?

On this Wednesday, August 5 we fly back to Cape Town where we will enter into our final seven weeks in South Africa! Please pray that we finish well and go deep with people we love. We have set aside the next seven weeks for people! 

On September 25 we will depart Cape Town and begin our journey back to the USA…stopping in Europe for a 2 week "layover" to see dear friends and connect with partners in Germany and Switzerland.

Then, we land at BWI on October 12 to start our 6 month home leave. More on that in our next letter. 

May I Brag?

IMG_7568May I brag for a moment? Not about me. About my wife and kids. We are in the full on throes of transition as a family. We fly out for good on September 25. We have started our goodbyes, we are having many "lasts" and we are thinking and talking much about what's ahead. And it's not all easy or fun. Some of the emotions we are experiencing are hard.

But, what about all the practical things too? Lots to strategize about...

  • Do we sell or ship?
  • Throw away or give away?
  • Do we try to get a container or just liquidate big things?
  • What must we keep with us for our last few months in Cape Town?
  • What must we take to America for our furlough?
  • What can we send ahead to Tanzania?
  • And how can we do this most cost effectively?

On Wednesday of this week, Davis and I will head up to Kenya for a training I will be teaching at. The following Wednesday, Tricia and Lily will meet us. Then, we will head to Tanzania for 10 days of prayer, scouting, exploring and paving the way for our transition. Several dear friends will be joining us. 7 of us in total. 7 passengers = 14 total pieces of baggage. With some clever space sharing, it left us 10 bags to pack in. Plus the 3 I have already taken up to Tanzania in March and BOOM! We did it!

Everything that this crazy, international family wants to take from South Africa to Tanzania for our next season of life and ministry has fit into 13 suitcases!  And they are all packed (see pic)! Tricia knows exactly what she needs and what we want. She knows what toys the kids treasure and which ones they don't. She knows what they can't part with and what can be waiting for them there. Which clothes we need, and what we don't. We have packed towels and bath rugs. Curtains and sheets. Blankets and pillows. Knives and our favorite mugs. Tupperware and serving utensils. Did I say that Tricia is amazing? She knows what she will need for the baby that is better to get in South Africa (instead of America), bought it used for less here and it's packed. A portable high chair and a breast pump. Onesies and clothes. Our favorite books are packed. Oh, and she did all this pregnant and not feeling well.

And the kids....they have been so flexible and engaged. Davis was champ saying goodbye to his legos. And Lily keeps running up to us with her teddy bears saying "guys, this can go to Tanzania!" So precious.

I am just so proud of this tribe. They are BRAVE! They are adventurous. And they release the things of this world for the things of the kingdom. I'm just so proud.

But alas, our house is bare, empty and cold. But we chose to look on the bright side....our last few months here will be focussed on PEOPLE...and our packing for the states will be oh so easy.

Intimacy with Jesus

A few weeks ago I got an email from an outstanding young woman who seeks after the Lord with all her heart. She asked me 3 awesome questions. As I answered her, I thought the responses may be helpful for others too.  So here goes...

Define intimacy with Christ.

I would define intimacy with Christ in the same terms that I may speak of my marriage to Tricia. We are only intimate because we deeply KNOW and TRUST each other with all that we are. It is about sharing the deepest parts of who we are with one another. We only get there by communicating...openly, vulnerable, two ways, listening, sharing, waiting, failing, trying again...and in the same way that Tricia and I go in and out of seasons of deeper intimacy, so do Jesus and I.  The only difference is that it can get uglier with our marriage because TWO of us are running away. When things are cold with Jesus, I'm the one slacking and he is always waiting with arms wide open.

When do you feel closest to God? And is it even about a feeling, anyway?

Nope! Not about a feeling. It is about a deep knowing. Honestly, I feel closer to the Lord each year as I learn the TRUTH about how He made me, how He sees me and how He loves me. As I further comprehend grace as it was intended (which by the way is MUCH different from what I learned growing up in the church), I fall further in love with the Lord. The REAL good news (that it was FINISHED on the cross and I can't earn a darn thing now) is so good that it's almost tempting to dismiss as false theology. It's crazy. The Lord is totally and completely in love with us as we are...broken and all. It just feel insane to me. But the deeper I journey into grace, the more my identity is finally getting established. So in short, I feel closest to God when I BELIEVE what he did and what he says and what he sees....it has nothing to do with a feeling. It's a knowing. Feelings are nice from time to time, but they are emotional and temporary. Faith sustains us and stands forever.

Knowing what you know now, what do you wish you knew about intimacy with God as a teenager?

I wish someone would have drilled the following into me: do not waste your time searching for or earning a love and acceptance from people who will never do it for you. Instead just LOVE people needing nothing in return (including their affirmation). And instead....take hold deeply of the FULL love and acceptance of the Father that is ALREADY available to you in full and forever measure. Live out of the grace, love and acceptance of the Father and give it away generously to everyone around you. What a waste of energy and years to strive to impress and earn something I never needed in the first place!

Why so quiet?

coffeeI love writing. I went through a number of years of writing and blogging almost daily. But in the last few years, the Lord has in some way shut my mouth and slowed my pen. Many days I think about how I want to write again. And I sense that the day is coming soon where I will write more often and more freely again. Here are the top two reasons why I stepped back from blogging or writing as much: 1. I found that the deeper I dove into the world of social media, the less healthy it became. There were some years that I did not have it in its right place in my life. I used my online presence to gain identity and value (which will never work). The Lord has shown me again and again that people are more important that profiles, and an actual social life more important that social media. These last years have been about investing in the real thing (relationships), not a virtual reality on a screen.

2. I needed to learn to process a tad more privately (especially in the season of searching I have been in). I love learning and seeking, but I easily get emotional and carried away about ideas. And when I voice them too broadly or quickly, I risk influencing people into something unhealthy. Part of my journey into maturity has meant holding back and processing in a safer way than online with the crowds. It has started to teach me more discipline and has also deepened my face to face friendships.

3. Simply, time. My schedule and pace have meant that I have had to say no to some things to say yes to other more important things. Blogging and social media interactions had to decrease substantially in these last several years.

That said, I feel it's lifting.  The season to come will be different. I feel it. And I am ready to write again!

Calling or Sending?

(This may contradict the last post in some ways, but oh well, I learn out loud.) Here is what I have observed in missions over the years: generally speaking, people can only "GO" after they've been "called". Get a nation. Get a word from the Lord. And then, and only then, we can send you.

Here is what I see was more common in the pioneers of our faith: We want to GO to this region or that. And so we "send" people to those places.

And I am bothered. Sure, a few people get a clear word to go to a clear place, but most do not.

I am tempted to conclude that we have personalized mission way too much, robbing the church from vision for mission and missing out on a LOAD of people dying to go out, but with no idea where or how because they haven't had a "word" or "call" yet.

My suggested solution: "Send" everyone. Send people to places in our hearts. Ask people: "We would like to send you to Baltimore or Iraq, would you go?" They'll be so thankful. So empowered. So relieved. They'll feel so included. So needed.

Just dreaming here, but I wonder if many followers of Jesus are simply stuck waiting on a revelation they aren't supposed to get.

But this just opens up a whole different can of worms about asking God for things that he already gave us....we are all called, all sent. So, what are we wanting to hear now?

What do you think?

Hearing God about Transition

east-africaOur family has recently walked through a process of hearing God lead us into a transition for a move to another country (Tanzania). It's our second international move. Here are some of the more practical things we are learning. 1. Plant your heart where you are now! It's totally frustrating for you, and disheartening for those around you, when you let your heart, mind and speech drift into a season and place you aren't in yet! Bloom where you're planted until the day you fly away.

2. Bend your ear to God's voice. The key is to listen, more than to look. There's a difference. Our hearts follow our eyes, feet and mouth. Just listen at first. God often starts the transition process through whispers. When you're hearing consistent whispers in the same direction, you're likely on the road to transition.

3. Don't blow things out of proportion...you're not that important. Ok, you ARE important, but often we make a much bigger deal out of moving on than God or others do. He moves his kids around. Transition is natural and it's not the end of the world if its your turn. Relax and enjoy. Give yourself permission to keep walking ahead.

4. Let your planning follow the "cloud." Why not lay out your top 3-4 Good/God ideas for the future on the table. Don't limit your options to only one place at first. You may regret it later. If you're gonna make a big move, put some competitive ideas on the list of where you end up. Dream! And then follow the cloud of God's peace. Where does the peace rest? Now, make the call. State it.

5. Now, test it with an open hand in a small circle. This looks quite simple. Go to people that love you and clearly walk in step with God's heart and say something like: "We have listened and tracked with God's leading and we sense he is saying ____! Do you sense we are hearing from God? We don't want to miss Him." Then, listen to them and God some more over a period of weeks. Perhaps this will lead to a few adjustments. That's ok and probably a good thing.

6. Proclaim it with clarity to the larger circles. Announce the leading of the Lord with joy and grace! Start the practical planning. And take your time with the transition. It's almost always unnecessary to rush processes like these.

Dad's Business

A friend of mine in Cape Town named Kevin recently shared this status update on Facebook. It gave words to some of what has been germinating in my own heart these days. So, I thought I would share.

In my life, I've only met two people who have actually sparked a legit Church Planting Movement, and one of which was last night. The message was great, but it's so much bigger than my old paradigms ever allowed. Creating strategy is one of my most loved activities. The last couple years I've really become a CPM nerd, viewing Church Planting Movements as the holy grail of missions, the epitome of a Great Commission grand slam.

Admittedly, the notion of being given a geography, region or culture of which to ignite the rapid spread of the Gospel excites me at a level which few things rival. However, the closer I live by the Spirit, and the more I hear from the Father, I soon realize that all my strategy, intellect and models are worthless when measured against the Holy Spirit.

I am learning to lay everything I've been taught on the table, surrendering my own hopes to Him. He is showing me who I am. I am a son of the living God. He is a true Father. My identity is not in what I do, but in whom I love. He is so much bigger than our ideas. If we approach the Great Commission as finishing a task, we fundamentally miss the core of who He is and what He is after.

He is way bigger than our formulas and structures. When we create low risk systems that don't depend on Him, we place ourselves under a glass ceiling, which may feel secure, but inhibits us from flying at the levels He designed.

I know He's deposited something so precious inside me, the desire of His desire. I cannot be satisfied with one serving, or even the full course. I want it all, and will settle for nothing less, all the days of my life, for He who lives in me.

This world is His possession, and how blessed am I that I may journey together with Him, bringing the Kingdom to the forgotten places, which He never forgot. The Father's business is to reconcile those who are lost, heal the broken, and restore the corrupted to their original design and intent.

I'm in my dad's business.

"Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you!" - Jesus

Big News from the Kaye Family

Major things have been happening in our loves over the last few months. Below is the letter we sent to all of our supporters a few weeks ago. Now, we thought it was time to go even more "public" with our news. Read the news below! ----------------------

In the same way that Paul wrote to the Church at Philippi, we write to you and say that “we thank our God every time we remember you. In all our prayers for all of you, we always pray with joy because of our partnership in the gospel from the first day until now…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it to the day of Jesus Christ."

We write to you with lots of joy and excitement in our hearts.

First of all, we are excited about what is fresh on the horizon for the next several months. Tricia is 3 weeks (now 5) into Home Schooling Davis, and they are doing fantastic. We are doing so well as a family…feeling healthy, close and alive. Saturday we start our 5th CPx! 21 leaders (now 25) from 7 nations will be landing here Saturday (they are here). For the next 5 months, we are committed to pouring our lives into them to see them grow in passion for Church planting and making disciples of Jesus among the lost.

Amidst all of this action, we carry in our hearts a deep sense of relief and excitement. Relief because after having been actively asking the Lord his heart and will for us regarding our future as a family, God has spoken. Excitement over what He has said.

So, what is the big news?

We are moving!

We are in our 5th and final year in Cape Town! We sense that this INCREDIBLE season is to come to a close at the end of September. Even though we will leave with some sadness because we have loved and been loved, we have heard from God that our time in Cape Town is coming to an end.

So, what’s next? That is the question we held before the lord as we considered multiple possibilities of missions fruitfulness around the world. Above all and through all, we cannot escape the clear sense that the Lord has prepared us and highlighted for us East Africa. Our time on this great continent is not over! We are already deeply invested into Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda...with growing passion for several other nations in East and the Horn of Africa. The dream in our hearts is to coach and mobilize leaders and churches in East Africa to make disciples of Jesus among the lost. So much vision is growing in our hearts. We cannot wait to share more.

Where will we live? We will decide in July when we travel to East Africa as a family. We are leaning into Tanzania, with Kenya still on the table. We will dedicate the first season of time there to learning Swahili and acclimation as cultural learners.

Here's the timeline: We will leave Cape Town the end of September and return to the USA where will take an extended home leave as a family (5-6 months). Our family is very excited about times of deep connection in the states during this time and looking forward to mobilizing many to join into what the Lord is doing in East Africa. We will likely return to the field in March 2016.

Would you send us your thoughts? And your questions? But more importantly, your prayer and continued support? We do not take for granted the sacrifice of so many of you in keeping us placed where the Lord has sent us.

We cherish you and would LOVE to hear from you as we listen to the voice of the Lord in this transition!

Thanks for journeying with us as a family!

Noah, Tricia, Davis and Lily