I asked someone a question recently & when they replied, I asked, “Is that the real answer or the right answer?” When I asked this question, it began to circulate in my mind & I wondered how many times I give the right answer but maybe not always the real answer. I know what I’m supposed to say, so I give the right words. And I do this because I know that the “real words” could be challenging not only to hear, but also to speak. It’s very wonderful when both the real & right words are the same!
I’m grateful to realize that God can help us grow & change such that our real words can also be the right words more & more!
Just a little friendly food for thought on this nice Monday 🙂
In that today is Christmas Eve, or maybe Christmas when you read this, we might be thinking about Jesus’ birth 🙂
And in the story of Jesus coming to live among us, there are some interesting things we can consider for our daily living.
*Unexpected Coincidence: the shepherds in the field were doing a normal night of shepherding when there was a supernatural interruption. Let’s be mindful that a supernatural interruption can sometimes be dismissed as an unexpected coincidence, causing us to miss something God wants us to know or experience
*Inconvenient Journey: the wiseman took the Star as a signal to go on a journey to seek out something unknown but important. Let’s be mindful that what could be inconvenient and unfamiliar has the potential to lead us to know Jesus more deeply and in a richer experience.
*Unconventional Relationship: Joseph decided to keep Mary as his fiancé even though she was pregnant out of wedlock. Let’s be mindful that being merciful, gracious and generous can position us to bring Jesus to people in meaningful and life-giving experiences.
Let’s keep finding Jesus and helping others experience genuine love through finding Jesus!
Moses is a familiar character particularly in the Old Testament but Aaron isn’t as known. And the truth is that Aaron was a massively significant partner to Moses to help him be effective & fulfill Moses’ divine destiny. God even assigned Aaron to be Moses’ mouthpiece for interacting w Pharaoh with the 10 Plague stuff. And Aaron was the first high priest in Israelite history, along w being a military support to Moses during a battle against the Amalakites.
Sometimes I think we mistake significance with fame or visibility. And even though Aaron messed up w the Golden Calif thing at Sinai, God didn’t shun Aaron & delete his participation in helping form Israel into a nation.
Let’s be sure that we stay engaged in community & a contributing partner no matter our shortfalls or visibility!
Over the last week, it’s been fun to be around LOADS of sexworkers in Bangledesh, nice church folk in America, random & fascinating travel peeps & best of all, my family. And I enjoyed each exchange & interaction.
Were some people cranky?Yes
Were some people strange? Yes
Were some people brilliant? Definitely
Were some people hurting? Absolutely
Were some people broken? Everyone
And I’m so grateful that God is teaching & helping me to both enjoy & love people, full stop. Sometimes I do this better than others, to be sure. And it’s immensely helpful just to relax, smile & enjoy people no matter what!
“We aren’t doing that!” This morning, I read in Exodus about the Egyptian midwives who didn’t follow Pharoah’s command to kill all baby boys born to Hebrew moms. They ran against the grain & took a risk when they didn’t comply. Because they didn’t obey Pharaoh with his command, God blessed these midwives greatly!
I find the behaviors of these midwives to be very interesting: they aligned themselves with a nation to whom they didn’t belong, they protected the most vulnerable, they were advocates of life and they found a “convenient reason” to explain their non-compliance to Pharaoh.
Sometimes we need to run against the grain of what’s popular around us to live as advocates & examples of genuine love! 🙂
“You can’t do that!”“That’s ridiculous & never been done before.”“We aren’t interested in that kind of thing here.”“NO!!!”
I’m in Bangledesh sitting with our Saving Moses nightcare team, comprised of nannies, administrative support, guards & assistants. This team looks after babies & toddlers every night while their moms work in the adjacent brothel. When I came to this area last year to present my idea for nightcare, I already had many years experience where people told me all the things I listed at the beginning of this blog & even more. Thankfully, the people in Bangledesh weren’t opposed to my idea, although definitely surprised. And today, I’m abundantly fulfilled to sit with this wonderful team – grateful for each of them & believing in nightcare!
So when you face opposition, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful:
See the goal – this helps to stay focused
Take a step toward the goal, no matter how small
Be creative – there’s more than one way to achieve a goal
Failure is learning rather than defeat
Encourage someone else – it helps to keep your heart joyful
It’s 5:30pm here in Bangledesh & I’m listening to happy little voices singing & chattering in the room behind me. So everything in me is smiling & deeply fulfilled.
Last year, I came to Bangledesh four times & we worked really hard to open nightcare for the largest brothel in this country. Tonight, I’m sitting in our nightcare center & enjoying the sights & sounds of our firsts nightcare in this country. Nightcare is one of the things Saving Moses does, where we look after the babies & toddlers of sexworkers while they work. Without our center, 80% of these kids would be on the bed with their mom as she works.
And this is the nature of nightcare – it’s deeply rewarding & painfully tragic, a roller coaster of rich satisfaction & abysmal horror.
And tonight I’m celebrating progress & the power of genuine love.
I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America.
As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:
Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights
At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂
Hello from Dhaka Bangledesh! Clearly, Dhaka is a very different place than my home city, Denver.
Also, I’m continually astounded by the things I hear & see here in relation to the babies & toddlers of sex workers.And I’m all the more astounded when I learn about the difficulties that floating sex workers have in particular when they work & looking after their babies & toddlers.
A floating sex worker in Bangledesh does not have a permanent brothel & has many dangers they navigate daily. Such dangers include having their baby / toddler stolen & sold in a market for a minimum of $50 – an atrocity that unravels even the most hardened sex worker.
While there are some organizations that help the moms, there is no assistance for their babies / toddlers. And that’s why Saving Moses is here today & we are making some headway to open nightcare for the babies & toddlers of these floating sex workers.We are very serious about Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 to look after the least of these & I see the least of these, being the babies & toddlers of floating sex workers.
Some days I imagine that I’m an incredible basketball player. I can see myself stealing the ball, being really agile & shooting the lights out on 3 pointers. But alas, I know full well that such a fantasy could only be realized in heaven.
On this side of heaven, I also like to imagine what it would be like to have babies & toddlers out of harms way at nighttime while their moms work in 3rd world countries, as sex workers. This imagination has led to our expression of genuine love with nightcare. I imagined nightcare around 7 years ago & started exploring this possibility. I found that no one had ever heard off this idea but everyone with whom I talked thought it was a MAGNIFICENT idea!! Seven years later, Saving Moses has 6 nightcare centers with over 100 babies & toddlers out of harms way while their moms work. And we are continuing to expand.
Let’s imagine good things in the world around us & then start taking steps to make our imagination into a reality!!!
It’s getting colder & the days are getting shorter as we begin to move towards Winter. In the southern hemisphere, they’re approaching Summer and it’s getting warmer there & the days are longer. So it depends on your location on our planet, in approximation to the sun, whether you’re getting warmer or colder, more or less light. By default, heat & light also have a direct impact on how much life there is. Where there is less light & more cold, life is less abundant.
Let’s make the same parallel for Jesus, God’s Son. When we revolve our lives closely around the Son, we have more light, greater warmth & consequentially, more life. We can also consider that perhaps there are some areas in our lives that need to be around Jesus more – particularly if we recognize the absence of light, warmth & life. Jesus says that He’s come to give us life & life more abundantly – so let’s stay close to Jesus in every area of our lives!
Presently, I’m in Cambodia & yesterday I was in Dubai. Tomorrow, I fly back to Denver so I’m changing lots of time zones. I’m hopeful that I’m not a babbling idiot as I interact with various folk, since my sleep is a little bit whacky. It’s understandable because Dubai is 10 hours ahead of Denver, Cambodia is 13 hours ahead of Denver & Friday I’ll be back in Denver – so I’m going around the world in 7days. This means lots of geography changes & navigating time zones.
And times are changing around the world. In the US, the generational shifts are obvious & sometimes difficult for adjusting. Furthermore, time seems to change as we age – maybe it speeds up? Here are some ideas that might be helpful for changing times:
be present today: yesterday is over & tomorrow isn’t here; so now is a wonderful place to reside
trust that our times are in God’s hands, based on Ps 31:15
time is irreplacable so let’s be intentional about how & where we invest our time
let genuine love be our top priority regardless of how the times & people are changing!
What is difficult for you to do?Do you struggle with self control on various things like eating, sleeping, Netflix or something like that?Is it difficult for you to engage with people or do time alone?All of us have things that are difficult to do. And sometimes we just flat out don’t do what’s difficult even though we know we should.
Here’s some help, possibly, to do difficult:
Start w what’s most difficult & finish with what’s easiest. This can help you keep going
Coach the mental game – recognize that your thoughts play a role in doing what’s difficult
Pray for Heavenly Help – Holy Spirit helps us do difficult things
I was in a parking lot today and watched the drivers from two cars get in a honking battle. They concluded their exchanges with middle fingers, yelling and mean looks. I would suspect that perhaps these drivers have different sides to their personalities, such that they don’t go through their lives everyday with expletives, middle fingers and combative behaviors.
Just because someone is hostile or cranky with us doesn’t mean that we have to repay the same acrimony. Indeed, such moments are opportunities to do a quick heart check on ourselves and choose better. Furthermore, we can go the extra mile & look for constructive ways to bring out the best in people. Here are some suggestions for your consideration:
encouragement, gratitude and polite words make a comfortable runway for others to be gracious
a soft answer turns away wrath – Prov 15;1
forgiveness is a decision to reflect God’s DNA in us, since we are liberally forgiven even more than we realize
what a person “deserves” is best left in God’s hands, since we are commanded by Jesus not to judge in Matt 7:1
Let’s endeavor to bring out the best throughout our daily exchanges!
There’s lots of stuff in the Bible about wisdom, even a whole book, Proverbs, that’s devoted to the topic. It’s also mentioned in the NT a fair amount, like in James 1, where it says that we should ask for wisdom. So given the frequency of this topic, perhaps it would be helpful to think about what it is, along with what it is not.
In the “wisdom is not” column, here are some things to remember. Wisdom is not:
merely information; facts, formulas, information and details
advanced degrees, memorization or books read
In the other column that defines wisdom, based on the Bible, here’s what we can say. Wisdom is:
grounded in “fearing God”; this means that having a healthy and robust respect for God in our lives is the pathway to facilitating wisdom
discerning the times and seasons in our lives
appreciating what is appropriate and helpful in various situations and events
recognizing when to speak and when to listen
Lets always be ready to get more wisdom & let wisdom be active in our daily living!
There are many things that can be shocking, such as a precipitous drop in the stock market, unexpected news from a relative and sometimes, God does stuff that’s shocking. It seems to me that most of us don’t like stuff that’s shocking, such that we stay away from this kind of thing or we insulate ourselves, to minimize the exposure.
And yet, sometimes, things that are shocking can help us to get out of a rut. For example, I think Jesus was very shocking to the religious establishment in His day. Indeed, He challenged not only their assumptions and traditions, but also their practices and daily interactions:
He ate with sinners.
He associated with tax collectors.
He kept company with the irresuptable.
All of these actions of Jesus were very shocking to various upstanding citizens. And yet what is more importance than the shock value, is the reality that Jesus did all of these “crazy things”, from the premise and core motivation of genuine love. Sometimes, genuine love is the essence of shock value 🙂
I’m writing this post, sitting outside of my hair salon with foils in my hair, looking semi-chic 🙂
And of course, I get some odd looks, people thinking I’m the reincarnated character from “My Favorite Martian”. But alas, it’s just the normal hair dye appointment, where the grey gets covered over & I maintain the look that says I’m at least 10 years than my birthdate would confirm.
And whatever we may look like on the outside isn’t as important as the decisions we make on the inside. Our internal thoughts, emotions, values, decisions and perspective are loads more important than the external image. It’s in my thinking processes where I:
make decisions to be generous,
decide to act from various insecurities,
consider how another may be affected by my words / actions
choose to be afraid or choose to be constructive
So no matter how we look on the outside, let’s be certain we make internal decisions to be generous & loving people. What’s on the inside is what will often regulate what happens on the outside 🙂
In the last few weeks, I’ve learned of various people who have committed suicide and it’s heart wrenching. A few of these individuals have been pastors, which hits even closer to home considering that I’m a pastor’s kid, I’m married to a pastor and I am a pastor. These events have also made me reflect on various people over the years who have committed suicide.
As much as I want to be articulate in this post, I feel so deeply about this subject that I can’t seem to get my words or thoughts into some semblance of order or cohesive progression. So maybe I’ll just free flow with this post and pray that it’s helpful to you, somehow.
More than anything, I hope that you will be gentle, tender and kind with others and yourself, regardless of any external veneer. When we are in a car and see a handicapped license plate, sticker or a “baby on board” sign, we will often give that person a little extra consideration, grace and space because we know there’s a vulnerable / fragile person inside that vehicle.
May we also have the same mindset with the people in our lives, appreciating that each person with whom we interact, has their own internal struggles regardless of what the exterior looks like or how they behave. Let’s be purposeful to:
“Why is He eating & drinking with sinners and tax collectors?” This is what the scribes of the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples in Mark 2:16, when Jesus got all cozy with these less than upright scum. The tax collectors and sinners were considered “yucky people” by the religious leaders and zealots of Jesus’ day. So no wonder they questioned Jesus’ decision to not only associate, but also get cozy with such reprobates.
And I’m so thankful for His reply in Mark 2:17, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Thankfully, Jesus has never required us to get everything clean and pristine in our lives before He would hang out with us. Not only does He accept us as we are, but He makes us better because of His genuine love for us. In the same way, let’s be certain that no one in our lives gets the “yucky” treatment, being ostracized, belittled or shamed. Indeed, Jesus loves us and wants to love through us!