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! 🙂
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.
In America this week, we had a national & local election, so all media outlets were fully engaged with debates, advertisements, etc. There are plenty of folk who prefer less campaigning & not just a few of us are weary of the deceptions & hostile conflict that politics has become. As a follower off Jesus & His teachings, there are a few takeaways to maintain regardless of your political affiliations / preferences.
Be compassionate – Jesus was helpful, kind, forgiving, healing & generous to marginalized people
Be prayerful – Jesus taught His disciples to pray, a constructive habit we would be wise to cultivate
Be loving – Jesus said that His followers would be recognized by their love for each other.
Some things are difficult & we want to find excuses or reasons to avoid such difficulties. We might want to sidestep a challenging conversation or greeting a prickly person. We might prefer to ignore the scale in the bathroom since it may tell us something unpleasant. And there’s always the “busy” excuse that’s convenient for all kinds of stuff we’d prefer to avoid.
Despite our best efforts, however, whatever we try to avoid, ignore, deflect, etc it’s still there & will likely remain present until we step into the issue. Here are a few ideas that might help us to show up:
Pray: let God know you don’t want to show up & ask for divine Help
Deep breath: this can often help to clear the cobwebs in our thinking & give us some energy to take a step
Anticipate good: it’s possible that whatever we might be avoiding has some unexpected good stuff
Love truth: sometimes we avoid truth bc it might be painful or unpleasant. But ultimately, deception is more destructive than truth!
In America, we are in the full season of politics, elections, candidates, ballots, etc. Two years ago, this space was toxic, combative & divisive on a good day. I’m grateful that this political season isn’t quite as venomous as the one two years ago and we would be wise to pause and reflect.
Regardless of your political affiliations or bend, I’d like to propose a few questions for your consideration:
Have you educated yourself on the issues, candidates, platforms, etc?
Are your thoughts and emotions based around genuine love? Is there fear, greed, power, insecurity lurking in your soul that could influence your voting?
If someone votes or thinks different than you, can you maintain a respectful conversation?
Have you prayed for this election, the candidates, ballots, our nation, etc?
Regardless of how the elections turn out, let’s be committed to express genuine as followers of Jesus! I say this because of His words in John 13:35, “They will know you follow Me by your love for one another.”
You are magnificent when you are you!! When you try to blend, conform or be someone else, not so much. I say this because I’ve brought my daughter for a college visit & I remember my insecurities in college & being uncomfortable in my skin. I’ve always been a little quirky & when I’m settled with myself, that’s fun. When I’m unsettled with myself, the quirky and fun side of me gets quiet and even disappears.
All of us have insecurities and internal struggles. At the same time, let’s rest in the truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image of our Heavenly Father. We are valuable, important and have divine purposes and plans. Indeed, in Ephesians 2:10, it says that God has already laid out good works for us to walk in and no one can do these good works, except you because they are divinely appointed for you, living in your skin and being wonderful YOU!!!
Being that today is Halloween, the last day of October, it’s a great day to celebrate genuine love! I say this because Halloween was always a scary holiday to me, with all the skeletons, tombstones, ghosts and macabre images. When I was a kid, this day often left me fearful. In contrast, 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. So instead of accentuating fear, today I choose to celebrate genuine love!
Here are a few suggestions that might help you celebrate genuine love today:
Look for people to encourage throughout today – what they’re wearing, nice hair, friendly smile, beautiful eyes, witty wisdom & LOADS more
Let Jesus love you throughout today – reject the enemy’s lies that say you’re inadequate, have no hope, going to fail, or that you’re a mutant
We can go through seasons in our lives when there’s an abundance of lemons. By this, I mean that sometimes life serves up lots of bitter stuff, such as: a bad medical diagnosis, poor results on a test in school, an unexpected bill when the money isn’t there, emotional struggles, extra responsibilities in an overcrowded life, relationship catastrophes, etc.
So how do we make lemonade from the bitter experiences that can happen in life? Here are a few suggestions:
Prayer: take whatever is bitter & bring it to Jesus for divine input
Choose to trust: after prayer, make the consistent decisions to trust Jesus to bring good from bad, order from chaos, blessing from curse
Gratitude: even though we don’t like hardships, struggles & lemons, James 1:2-4 says that such difficulties can work into a blessing & become lemonade. So maybe gratitude is some sugar to sweeten the lemons
Here’s to letting God turn lemons into lemonade in our lives!
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!
Philippians 3:8 (The Message):“everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.”
There are lots of things that we think are important: schedules, money, education, family, jobs, achievement, sports, entertainment, travel, etc.
No doubt that these things are important, along w stuff I haven’t listed. But let’s be very clear about what is most important in our lives based on Phil 3:8. Paul said in these verses that nothing in is life was more important than knowing Jesus – not his education, his heritage nor his upbringing. Paul considered everything as literal “crap” compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus.Let’s be like Paul & make knowing Jesus the most important focus & goal that steers our daily living!
How can I get this done? Where will I get the time for that? How should I use this money or talent that I have? Have you asked God these questions? Often, such questions are anchored in the requirement to trust God
And sometimes trusting God can be both challenging & frustrating! I’m in Cambodia for a super quick trip. This morning I was trying to figure out all of the moving parts for today, since my flight leaves tonight. I couldn’t make everything I needed to accomplish today, fit into a schedule. So I decided to trust God when I left the hotel this morning & I’m pleasantly surprised at how well God has put together this day!!
Trusting God can be a daily & even an hourly discipline, based on Proverbs 22:19. And this trust is an essential ingredient to a closer walk with God!
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!
I just finished a few days in Dubai & it’s very impressive what has been accomplished there in a few decades. Before 1970, the area was a small fishing village & the people there worked hard to squeak out a living in place with abundant heat, sun & sand but not much else. A leader in the area, Sheikh Zayed, had vision for the future that would use the discovery of oil to position this region for abundance, modern developments & opportunity. Today, the United Arab Emirates is highly developed & very impressive.
When we consider what is around us & what the future could be, let’s do some important things:
Hello from Dubai!What an interesting city & diverse population!Our guide told us that about 85% of this city is not local & only 15% are native born. So I’ve been here less than 12hours & I’ve met folk from Bangladesh, Greece, India, Afghanistan, Egypt & lots of other places!With such diversity, it’s helpful to be friendly, smile & be a learner. It seems to me that when I’m open to learn, that often helps me to love & in particular learning from people who are very different from me.
Some thoughts for loving well:
See people & not objects, projects norfunctions
Serve & smile
Flexible let’s me adapt to enjoy & thereby love better
I’ve definitely had my share of flops, failures and screwups! When I was younger, I’d get massively embarrassed & it would take me awhile to recover. Now that I’m “older”, it’s easier to laugh at myself & put mistakes in the “practice” column ,)
I’m in the middle of a youtube series about people in the Bible who messed up. Feel free to watch this really short video about a Bible character & I’m inviting you to subscribe to my youtube channel as well! Happy viewing!
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