“Here ya go!” As I was standing on the sidewalk on cold winter day, my friend flung me a seriously AWESOME winter cap that she had made me. I caught the cap with utter shock, checked it out & beamed from ear to ear. She had knit me this thoroughly magnificnet blue & white cap that has been my favorite for years. She later explained that she had to figure out a creative way to get the cap into my hands because of my difficulty to receive gifts.
Each of us have quirky hangups that can create obstacles for connecting in healthy ways with others. Maybe you have a sense of superiority over others & feel the need to help them improve – that’s an obstacle for connecting. Perhaps you see yourself as a victim from a past trauma or abuse, so it’s difficult for you to trust, another obstacle. I could endlessly list all kinds of obstacles we may have for connecting with others, but let’s be thankful that God has already overcome all of our obstacles and quirks because of genuine love. While there may be hindrances and obstacles along our horizontal journey, our vertical relationship with God is never in peril nor compromised – for the simple reason that God never stops loving us. His lovingkindness is everlasting!
I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible. In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes: getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.
No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard. But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it. I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence. From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.
If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try! Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!
I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally.
On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more.
It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God.
I’ve never had a day Ike today, feeling overwhelmed & inadequate to everything around me. I visited one of our malnutrition clinics here in Angola & when we landed this morning, there were 98 babies who were being looked after for malnutrition. That’s a HEAP OF BABIES & I’ve never experienced malnutrition in such high numbers. So walking around the buildings this morning, I seeing babies at various severities of malnutrition, this was definitely challenging. And I don’t find myself numb from the sheer numbers of babies. I’m able to recognize the distended bellies, stringy arms, knobby knees, glassy eyes, xylophone ribs, lightened hair . . . . I know the symptoms & it’s difficult to see each baby struggling to survive, along w each mom, abundantly stretched with worry & care from looking after their baby whom they deeply love.
By the time we left this afternoon, the clinic had 125 babies & everyone was trying to figure out where to let everyone settle for some space & hopeful rest / recovery.
When I’m past my breaking point, it helps me remember that whatever we do to the least, we do to Jesus. So let’s love well, no matter where we are nor what’s happening around us.
When I’m in a malnutrition clinic here in Angola, I’m delighted to hear crying babies drown out any cricket noises. A crying baby in a malnutrition clinic means they have enough strength to cry. A quiet & lethargic baby in a malnutrition clinic can be very disturbing to me. It’s even worse when a quiet baby in these clinics looks into my eyes & I don’t see anything beyond a glassy stare.
I’ve just spent the day at one of our 6 malnutrition clinics here in Angola & it’s uniquely unraveling to watch a baby struggle to survive.Add in a stretched thin mom, worried for her baby’s life, and this can become very unsettling. So how do I process not just one mom & baby in this scenario but not less than ten?
It helps to pray, for sure & it helps me to spend time & give genuine love. I know that God lives to spend time with you & enjoys your company!
Arriving & Improving: I prefer arriving over improving because to me the difference is destination versus journey. And yet here in Angola, with Saving Moses, I’m reminding myself that improvement is an essential ingredient for destination & change.
I say this having driven by one of our malnutrition clinics today & observing the improvements to the lodging arrangements. In the past, this clinic had 3 large huts, poorly ventilated & lit, concrete floors & abundant flies. Today, the lodging has vastly improved – I’ll describe it here on my blog tomorrow.
And still I see friendly moms with malnourished babies, waiting daily for their baby to improve & hopefully return home healthy & strong. Malnourished babies & toddlers meet your eyes with a dull stare or achy eyes. Their motions are lethargic & labored, so as to minimize the energy expense. Sometimes their bellies are swollen with edema & almost always their ribcages look like xylophone strips. And their heads are disproportionately large on their underdeveloped frames.
So when I see babies in these conditions, it’s difficult to look at the building improvements because people always trump facilities. Nonetheless, I can choose to celebrate progress even if I have yet to see the full realization of helping Angola live in the state of declining infant mortality.
I’m flying to Angola today, where we have 6 malnutrition clinics to save babies & toddlers. I haven’t been in Angola for 3years because of various technicalities. And Saving Moses has these malnutrition clinics in Angola, because of such a high infant mortality rate.Angola is the country where I first experienced the realities of emaciated babies with xylophone ribcages, hallow eyes & labored breathing. I have yet to experience anything in my life that compares with holding a baby who is feather light with fleeting breathes from being malnourished. So this is a tough trip.
I like to avoid tough & embrace comfort, reject inconvenient but welcome smoothy groovy.
But genuine love steps into things that are tough, heartbreaking & impossible, even though I drag my feet. Choose genuine love with me 🙂
I recently had the opportunity to wear fake eye lashes & after a few hours, my eye lids were tired & droopy. Obviously, if I were to wear fake eyelashes on a regular basis, I’d need to find some eye lid muscle building exercises so they could hold up the extra eye lash weight. Or maybe I just could wear EXTRA HEAVY mascara toget the eye lid muscles more toned.
But alas, I don’t feel a calling nor interest in wearing fake eye lashes on a consistent basis, so I’m not concerned about my eye lid muscles ,)
Sometimes, I think we get concerned about things that are possibly not all that important in the grand scheme of things.So as you think about your week, I’m encouraging you to ask God for divine input & priorities for what’s important, medium important & not important. Let’s prayerfully keep our priorities aligned with God’s essentials & not get lost in stuff that unimportant ,)
Each of us have different perspectives about “on time.”For some folk, “on time” means 10minutes before the appointment / event.Other people, “on time” is anything +/- 10minutes of the appointment.And this can make a rub between folk who have these different perspectives, as well as how we perceive God’s involvement with time.
Consider that not only are God’s ways higher than our ways & also God’s timing is far superior to our timing. And with this thinking, God is neither late nor early, but always in divine time, giving what we need, when we need it. God’s timing is always perfect!
“Oooooos!”I wish I had a dollar for every time I said something I wish I could’ve retracted. And then on the other side, there are also many times I wish I would’ve said something but didn’t. Too much talking or too little talking, each have their own shortfalls. So having discretion & wisdom with our words is massively helpful & constructive!
Here are a few ideas that could be helpful with minding the mouth:
Affirmation – being encouraging is very helpful!
Graceful truth – important investments that help us grow!
Saying good – words that speak life rather than death express genuine love!
When I go to the grocery store, I expect to find groceries & when I go to my health club, I expect to find weight machines & workout stuff. So people come to church & expect to find Jesus, but here’s an interesting exception for you to consider:
Over the last several months, I’ve experienced some amazing coincidences: meeting people who have common ministry goals, reconnecting w people from my distant past, stumbling into situations where I thrive, receiving unexpected financial support & loads more. With such “coincidences” I can choose to see them as happen chance & accidental or I can see them as divine encounters and appointments.
I choose to see such miraculous coincidences as divine direction & answers to my prayers for God to direct my steps. Indeed, I pray almost everyday that God would direct my steps & that I won’t follow the enemy’s whispers, suggestions or influences.
So I’m celebrating today, that God is directing my steps!I’d invite you to join me in that daily prayer for God to direct your steps as well for divine appointments & direction in your daily living!
I received a text message from a friend this morning with a totally fantastic prayer & this has made me smile almost continuously!I’m smiling because her prayer was very personal to me & deeply encouraging. As I’ve thought about this, it’s brought to mind that her text prayer to me is an expression of genuine love, which makes me think of lots of different ways we can express genuine love today!!Here are a few suggestions:
Encouraging words – meaningful compliments & heartfelt affirmations are great ways to communicate love!
Post some kind words in a friends FB wall.
Run an errand that could free up some time for a friend / family member.
Send a nice card in the mail to someone who wouldn’t expect it.
Be friendly & engaging with the check out person at the grocery store.
Do something meaningful for your mate or a family member that lets them know you love them, unique to their preferences (not just what you would like).
I recently enjoyed watching the NCAA college basketball championship game & the most common question was, “Who are you cheering for? Which team do you want to win?”
In essence, which side are you on? As we walked into the arena, we were inundated with Michigan fans so I wasn’t too keen to shout out, “GO ‘NOVA!!!!” But I had definitely picked a side & cheered accordingly.
The same holds true for all of us in the narrative between what the enemy says in contrast to Holy Spirit’s narrative.
The enemy accuses, condemns, shames, deceives & is always trying hurt, kill & destroy us.
On the other side, Holy Spirit advocates, convicts, comforts, leads us into truth, makes us alive, confirms our true identity & continuously pours love into our soul.
So pick your side & actively select the narrative to which you’ll listen & entertain / converse with, keeping in mind the respective outcomes that go with each side 🙂
I always think that Easter is a sunny day, but in Colorado, that’s not always true. Our weather can be quite unpredictable, regardless of the weathermen & their best forecasts.
No matter what the clouds do, we can have light in our hearts because Jesus is the light of the world. And celebrating His resurrection this weekend, is the exclamation point to living in light & love! I can totally appreciate that we go through seasons & struggles that can darken our mindset or discourage our hearts. But let’s remember that Jesus, the light of the world, lives in our hearts & His lights can illuminate any darkness or discouragement in which we may find ourselves. Today can be a sunny day my friend 🙂
Resurrection is just around the corner & I’m SO EXCITED!!!! And the Biblical events of this week all point to Easter, a time of celebrating life triumphing over death. As Jesus walked through this week, He was intentional to facilitate connection, defy religious traditions & ground His disciples in their relationship w Him.
Please take a quick moment to watch & share this video with your friends!
“It’s not supposed to be like that!!” I’ve been reading in Acts about Peter going to Cornelius, a Gentile, ministering to his household & the outpouring of Holy Spirit on these Gentiles. The Jewish believers initially had a difficult time accepting this new reality with the Gentiles. Nonetheless, despite what the Jews expected, God didn’t stay in their confined expectations.
And I would encourage you & me to remember that God defies impossible. And it’s not uncommon for God to do what we don’t expect, answering prayers in often surprising & fun ways. Let’s also keep in mind that God doesn’t often conform to our limits & boxes. We would be wise to follow God’s leadership rather than trying to define or limit God 🙂
I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.
Theoretically, I like to learn. In practicality, sometimes it’s difficult for me to learn. In full disclosure, I struggle to learn to trust God & I have a difficult time learning patience & being steadfast, along with many other things.
But it’s interesting that Jesus’ disciples were called “learners”. So when I follow Jesus, my mindset needs to be that of a learner & to live in a continuous state of learning. I want to encourage you to keep a learning mindset, so that our following Jesus keeps getting better & closer everyday! With the help of Holy Spirit, we learn to be better parents, mates, students, employees & humans. So what are you learning?
In church life, it’s pretty common for people to have great ideas but not much elbow grease to do the great ideas. I wish I had a nickel for every time some has said, “Hey! Y’all should do . . . [insert great idea]”
In the early days of the church, there was a problem related to the food distribution & the apostles’ answer was to tell the congregation to find men who had a good reputation & filled with the Holy Spirit to take over the food distribution.
Rather than take over the problem, the apostles used the challenge as a way to increase the ministry. They continued to pray & preach while adding on a hugely helpful component of humanitarian ministry.
Maybe the things that get you frustrated, angry or upset could possibly be the places where God would have you roll up your sleeves & invest some elbow grease 🙂
It’s something to think about today!