We are now on ‘furlough’, what Salvation Army officers call vacation.  I am catching up on reading email.  Most of it:  delete.

I do check NY Times for Verlyn Klinkenborg columns, notes from friends (Dean Kellenburger’s Wisconsin outdoors news), and FCS Urban Perspectives from Bob Lupton in Atlanta.

Bob writes from an experience typical among those who work in urban settings, in hard places where great needs are met by too few resources, too few friends.   In these conditions the survival of urban missioners requires transformation.

In a recent blog Bob expresses his contentment in “a simple belief” that has developed over several decades serving in urban communities.  What he suggests may have implications for your personal faith.  It may make you feel uncomfortable, even alarm you.  I recommend it.

We generally avoid going places where our faith is rigorously challenged.  We tend to feel uncomfortable when we are not surrounded by fellow believers who look, sound and act like us.  We prefer to be safe, to be comfortable where our views are bought and sold.  Like a Christian bookstore.

Mission means going to unlikely places.  Not politic places (John 1:10-11).  We need times and places for rest and comfort, our ‘furlough’.  But design a Christian lifestyle, our life of service, around permanent ‘furlough’?  How about a nice temperate place, neither hot nor cold?

In mission, as we go and give in this world that God so loved, we are challenged and changed.

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  (Matthew 25:32)