Mix It Up!

What are you planning for your vacation this year? Are you going to do the regular stuff: pools, driving, sunburns, etc? Why not try something new?
Here’s a cool idea: come with me to Cambodia & make a vacation that you’ll never FORGET! I’m taking a small group with Saving Moses to help with our nightcare work in Phnom Penh. The cool stuff you’ll get to do includes:

  • experiencing a new & incredible culture,
  • meet babies & toddlers who will steal you heart,
  • do some cleaning, painting & renovating with our centers,
  • meet Jesus in the faces of desperate people

Let’s make your vacation this year something fresh, unique & possibly life changing!!

Here’s how to get started: LETS GO!!

Space is really limited, so apply fast before we fill up!

When Control Is Good

“Control” is a loaded word.  It can evoke a visceral reaction in various individuals, in negative or positive ways.  And as Americans, we cherish our freedom sometimes to the point of demonizing any form of control.  We don’t want people to infringe on our rights, we want to speak freely without consequences and we want to the freedom to make decisions often without the complementary responsibilities.

If we are followers of Jesus, however, there’s an alarming verse that recently arrested my attention: 2Cor 5:14a, “For the love of Christ controls us, . . . ”  When I read this, I tried to find some wiggle room in the Greek for the word “control”.  But alas, I had no luck.  I’m supposed to be controlled by Jesus’ love.

So if we identify as a follower of Jesus, this means that His love:

  • influences my conversations to make them edifying rather than snarky
  • priorities my resources to be less selfish & to consider others
  • applauds those random acts of kindness that run contrary to my fleshy instincts
  • filters my thoughts & emotions to remove unforgivness, judgment, condescension, etc

Let’s allow Jesus’ love to be the controlling & defining essential in our lives!

Turkish Get-Ups

This is a picture my friend took last week when I was showing her how to do a Turkish get-up in the local coffee shop. The purposes of this exercise is to improve ability, strengthen the shoulder & probably make a person look super silly. I say this because whenever I do them, I feel not just a little goofy.

Sometimes, our spiritual development can feel to our flesh like a Turkish get-up. Growing spiritually doesn’t always make our flesh feel comfortable & svelte. But growing spiritually helps us to go through life’s ups & downs with more agility & this also helps to strengthen our core self, grounding us in prayer & the Bible.

Don’t minimize the importance of doing the daily disciplines of prayer & Bible time that foster spiritual growth!

Find Some Fun!

Do you like otters?  They seem to be a party wherever they go with lots of humor, energy and a playfull mindset!  I’ve always enjoyed watching them, maybe because I bend toward a serious nature & the contrast is refreshing!

Otters remind me that there’s a playful side to wisdom, from Proverbs 8:30-31.  In these verses, you can also replace the word rejoice with the word play since the word in Hebrew is used both ways:

Then I [Wisdom] was beside Him, as a master workman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in the world, His earth,
And having my delight in the sons of men.

Sometimes we would be wise to lighten up and be a little playful!  Here’s a joke that could help:

What’s the one vegetable Noah refused to bring on the ark?

Leaks 🙂

What Do You Repeat?

Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.

For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂

Hot Topic: Inauguration Day

Our nation is extremely divided along many lines:  economically, politically, socially, in morals and loads more.  And tomorrow’s Inauguration is a reflection of these divisions.  I’ve been thinking and praying about this for quite some time, asking God for perspective, wisdom and compassion.  In my prayers, I was reminded of the bloody transition in 2 Samuel from the house of Saul to David.  This transition took many years and was not just a little tulmutuous.  Then I also remembered reading Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.  I was deeply moved by his words & would strongly encourage you to read this

very powerful, insightful and sobering speech.

Let’s be sure to pray these points every day:

  • pray that our nation would experience an outpouring of genuine Jesus!
  • pray for our new President, based on 1 Timothy 2:2
  • pray for yourself to know Jesus’ love for you & to let that flow from you without flaws or distortions

Be sure to share this with your friends by email, FB, etc 🙂

Does the Bible Know You?

I appreciate that this is a weird question & kind of a backwards idea to knowing the Bible.  Nonetheless, I think it’s a really significant thought & definitely worth your consideration.  I say this because I grew up with heaps & heaps of Bible content:  my mom started memorizing Proverbs when I was around 8years old, I went to Sunday School every week, took Bible classes in high school, etc.  I would say that I have a relatively firm grasp on the Bible.

But I don’t think that having a sturdy grasp on the Bible is as important as the Bible having a firm grasp on us.  I say this because we can far too easily quote the Bible instead of live it, or let the Bible live through us.

I think about this in terms of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:16, about the Word of God living richly in us.  If I’m going to let the Bible know me, then I need to give the Bible access to my thoughts, emotions, secrets, dark corners, painful memories, relationships, character, priorities, etc.  When the Bible lives richly in me, when the Bible knows me, then I find that I grow & mature in being Jesus’ follower.  Let’s not only know the Bible, but let’s allow the Bible to fully know us!

Broken Trust

Everyone has experienced the pain that comes from broken trust – it’s the pits. I’ve been reading about King David in 2Samuel & how he was betrayed by his son, Absalom. On top of Davids son breaking his trust, Davids main counselor, Ahithophel defected to Absalom to advise him – a double whammy.

So what to do with broken trust?
Some key takeaways would be:

  • Forgiveness – this is a non-negotiable
  • Destination – don’t get quagmired in the pain, look forward & keep going; David didn’t hang around to wallow in the betrayal
  • Friendships – just because someone betrays be careful that you don’t pull away from everyone; David’s friend Hushai was essential to helping David stay alive!

Rest On All Sides

Rest On All Sides

At the end of last week, I returned from a whirlwind trip to Bangladesh for Saving Moses. In our short time there, we accomplished loads of stuff because I think that a person should do everything to maximize their time. Upon returning home, I find myself more than a little spent. I feel puny, my sleep is messed up, my emotions are everywhere & I can’t seem to quiet my brain.
Thankfully, I was able to join our entirely glorious Sunday School class yesterday where we took a deep dive into 2Samuel 7 – a chapter about David wanting to build a temple for God. The first verse of the chapter says that David had “rest on every side.” One of the ladies in our class observed how wonderful this would be to have rest everywhere in our lives! In our discussion, we camped on this idea for awhile & it was amazing!! As I thought about this, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me that this rest was available to me not only on the outside, but on the inside as well – rest on every side.
So let’s allow the Holy Spirit to give us rest, maybe more than any place, on the inside with our emotions, thoughts, desires, etc

Fear or Unfamiliar?

Do things that you’re unfamiliar with make you scared? I don’t think this is an uncommon experience for most people. On the other side, I think that we should sometimes be scared of the familiar or at least uncomfortable. I say this for lots of reasons. Being familiar & comfortable can:

  • create an illusion of safety & stability
  • lull us into taking stuff for granted
  • tempt us to rely on our own wisdom rather than trusting God

Let’s be careful that staying familiar keeps us from following God, growing & looking forward!

Stay Simple

I’m flying back to the US today from Bangladesh, so it feels like the day that never ends. When I get toward the end of these long journeys, I get really punchy & goofy. But I also try to keep things as simple as possible because my mental ability to do anything complicated gets close to non-existent. So “simple” is my operative word.

I think keeping stuff simple is generally a good rule of thumb. I remind myself that simple is loving God, loving people & loving myself. With all of our technology, communication abilities, etc, let’s never get so sophisticated & savvy as to forego the core basics that Jesus taught: love is the defining characteristic of anyone who follows Jesus!

Love to Understand

“What’s wrong with her?” I was recently walking through the largest brothel in Bangledesh & noticed a lady sitting on a bench & she was crying. I immediately sat next to her & put my arm around her, feeling her sadness pouring out of her. Some people with me asked her in the Bengali language what was wrong & there was a brief dialogue where she said why she was crying in seemingly few words. I continued to hold this young lady, absorbing her pain & she began to cry heaps more.

She was crying because she was homesick for her parents who live in a different district & she had been working in this brothel for more than a year.

I could continue explaining more & more details of her life to help you, my reader, understand why she was crying.
But let’s be careful that we don’t qualify our love on understanding first. Indeed, I sincerely don’t think we begin to understand until we decide first to love.

If you truly want to begin understanding someone, decide that you will love them & you’ll find that you begin to understand them more & more!

Not Safe

It’s 3:45am & I’m in Bangledesh. Just when I thought I was safe to take out my ear plugs, the prayer call thing started up again. Maybe tonight is a special occasion for some city-wide prayer meeting via the Goliath loudspeakers blaring outside my window.

It’s one thing to struggle with changing time zones & getting decent sleep with the blaring city-wide prayer call. It’s another thing to think about the babies & toddlers I met yesterday whose moms work in the largest brothel in Bangledesh. When I asked these moms about where they keep their babies when they work, 7/10 said that their babies & toddlers are on the bed with them as they work because these moms have no other option for their babies. And many of these are at risk from being abused by their moms clients.

So these babies & toddlers are NOT SAFE. Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In nightcare, we provide a safe place for the babies & toddlers of sex workers to sleep while their moms work. We have been doing nightcare in Cambodia for almost 5 years & I’m super keen / eager to open nightcare here in Bangledesh.

The moms of these babies desperately want to keep their babies safe so they’d can keep a “fresh mind.” This was a quote from one of the moms I interviewed. It unraveled me.

Be the Difference!

This morning I enjoyed some very tasty chai some where in rural Bangledesh. As my friends and I waited for the gentleman to make the chai, a crowd accumulated around us as we were definite novelties. A person could get jittery surrounding by curious strangers with no communication possibilities. Then add on that we were the only females in the group & a person could be intimidated, even scared.

But I’ve found that being friendly & fun can make these kinds of situations into loads for fun everyone! Furthermore, if a person doesn’t take themselves too seriously it’s even more entertaining for everyone!

Let’s be the difference in our world – full of light, love, joy & LIFE!!

 

Love Is Light

There’s plenty of darkness in our world & lots of that darkness comes from letting hate & apathy into our hearts. For example, my friend was telling me about a brothel in Bangladesh where the underage workers are forced to take bovine steroids to force their bodies to develop & be more appealing to clients. Obviously, the steroids have very negative results on these girls’ bodies to say nothing about the babies born & toddlers raised in this environment. Truly, brothels like the one I described are dark & deplorable.

Enter nightcare with Saving Moses. In Cambodia, we have four nightcare centers where we look after the babies & toddlers of prostitutes while they work. These sex workers have no way to look after their babies or toddlers while they work, so our centers are essential to the nurture, upbringing & worldview for these lovely treasures! Jesus talks about caring for Him when we look after “the least of these” in Matthew 24.

Be sure to watch my blog over the next week as I visit Bangledesh to bring love & light to the least of these!

Liability or Strength?

What are your strengths?  Do you ever feel like your strengths are also your greatest liabilities?

I have a friend who says that I fire & then aim, or I leap & then look.  It’s true.  I tend to jump in with both feet & then cry about what I’ve gotten myself into.  I admire the people who are more methodical and take things a step at a time & I’ve sincerely tried to do this better.  But alas, I’m still learning, still.

In my thinking, this “all in” mindset has been a significant liability for me & I’ve berated myself repeatedly about not learning from my mistakes.  Except last night, I had a wonderful epiphany.

This “all in” strategy serves me really well in walking with God because I’m not half-hearted & I’m quick to turn up the heat if I feel like I’m being luke warm.

All of us are fearfully & wonderfully made!  We have definite strengths & with God’s help, the downside of these strength can be continually worked on so that we grow!   The enemy of our soul would have us minimize the gifts that God has given us, causing us to be less than the full person of God’s design!

Let’s be thankful that God made us with such careful & creative design, while remaining committed to the continual pruning and sculpting the Holy Spirit does with us every day!  You are AWESOME!

#heavenlyhelpmoment

Redeeming Messups!

I’ve been reading about King David in 2 Samuel lately & this morning I was struck by the severity of his shortfall with Bathsheba.  There are a boatload of things he did wrong in that scenario:

  • should’ve been out fighting with Joab, but he stayed home
  • secretly watched a naked woman bathing
  • continued his interest in her by inquiring her name
  • brought her to his palace
  • slept with her, knowing she was married
  • tricked Uriah, her husband
  • sent Uriah to be killed in battle

Bathsheba became pregnant after sleeping with David, their son was born sick and died after seven days.  This story is an epic tragedy full of death, pain, suffering, selfishness, deception and loads more!  It seems to me that nothing good could come out this whole mess, ever, never and in no way.

Enter Solomon.

Solomon was considered one of Israel’s greatest kings!  He built the temple in Jerusalem, wrote two books of the Bible and was one of the wisest men who ever lived.  Solomon was the son of Bathsheba and King David, after the baby died who was conceived from David’s sin.

Let’s remember that there’s no weakness or failure in our lives that God cannot redeem & make into something entirely glorious!

Celebrate the Victories!

Did you make some resolutions for 2017? How’re doing on keeping them? It takes some definite commitment to hold onto these resolutions & seem them become reality. Indeed, sometimes we can fall short on our resolutions. But here’s something that can be helpful: celebrate the incremental victories to keep up some momentum & continue making progress!

Consider what David said to Saul in relation to killing Goliath: I killed a bear & I killed a lion, so this giant will be like those vanquished foes! David strung together seemingly smaller victories to encourage himself about conquering Goliath!
Let’s remember to applaud the steps & not just the destination, lest we get discouraged on the journey & quit.

Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who’s made some resolutions for this year to encourage & applaud each victory, no matter how small it may seem!

Hot Topic: Sometimes No

I really like to tell my kids, “Yes!” I like to tell them yes to eating salad, working out, studying, reading good books & hanging out with constructive friends. All of these get a hearty “yes and AMEN!” from me. But alas, they don’t always ask me for these kinds of things.

Sometimes they ask me:

  • to eat cake when it would be better to have some beets.
  • to sleep in when they need to go to school.
  • to hang out with a shady person when it would be better to do their homework.

Sometimes we ask God for stuff that’s not good for us & we often don’t like God’s answer. We can even deny that God is answering our prayers when we don’t like the answer. But alas, God answers prayer even when we don’t like the answer! Let’s trust that when God says no, it’s in our best interest & there’s a better plan or answer than what we’ve been requesting!

Saying Goodbye

The Bible has lots of “goodbyes”:

  • Paul on the beach saying goodbye to the Ephesian Church,
  • Jesus telling His disciples goodbye before the cross,
  • David saying goodbye to Jonathon

Goodbye’s are necessary for Hello’s. It seems to me that we often allow things that should stay in the “goodbye” compartment seep into new opportunities & sometimes undermine a new beginning.  So we would be wise to take some moments to reflect on this past year & take an inventory of the things to which we need to say goodbye. Perhaps it’s time to say goodbye to some conversations that have been unhealthy. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to some dysfunctional eating or spending habits. And maybe it’s time to say goodbye to the lies from the devil that we’ve entertained though various mental conversations.

Before we can heartily welcome 2017, let’s be certain that we’ve made the necessary goodbyes to stuff from 2016 & the past!

Feel free to pass this along to any friends or family that could find this helpful & let’s set up 2017 to be STELLAR!!