Toxic Desires

Recently, I went snowboarding with the men in my family and had a wonderful time, minus the crowded lift lines.  The sun was out, snow was pretty good, it wasn’t too cold and I stayed warm throughout the day (except for getting some snow down my pants).  The toxic desire part, however, happens for me when I want to keep the same speed as my teenage sons.  They have been skiing for more than ten years and they’re very proficient and fast.  The problem is that I also like to go really fast and watching them jet ahead of me, is like throwing down the gauntlet with an irresistable challenge.  But alas, from innumerable injuries that need no details here, I’ve concluded that snowboarding as fast as my teenage sons isn’t good for my health, regardless of what I want.

So let’s remember that not all of our desires come from God (Ps 37:4) and let’s stay mindful not to allow the toxic desires to override common sense and obedience to God’s Word 🙂

Proper Care & Feeding

  
We are on the cusp of entering a new year & there’s a chance you might be thinking of a few resolutions or changes you’d like to make for 2016. 
Let me propose an essential: the proper care & feeding of your heart on a daily basis. I believe with all of my heart that if we will make daily prayer & Bible reading, with attention to grace-empowered obedience, we will be better people & overcome hardships & struggles that would be impossible in our own strength. Furthermore, staying consistent in church also gives God a platform to speak to us in ways we might conveniently ignore & serving others is a core imperative to following Jesus. 

Let’s keep up, everyday, the proper care & feeding of our heart! 🙂

Intervention

I’m in Angola finishing up our first day – highs & lows. At our first stop, we hopped out of the car only to meet face first a baby who just died along with her mom who was just shattered. I’ve landed at this clinic too many times to come with flippant indifference. The fight for life here is literally every day. 

On a relatively positive contrast, I visited a neighborhood & keyed in on a baby who’s not doing well at all.  Please pray that she turns up at the malnutrition clinic in the morning, her name is Josephine.  While I’m extremely sad to see Josephine’s condition, I’m also thinking that some prayer & proactive work has a really good chance to keep this baby from dying. 
God redeems pain & maximizes opportunities to maximize life!

un-grinch Christmas

Most of us are familiar with the story of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  The grinch was an evil villain and the antithesis of Christmas – no one wants to be a grinch, particularly at Christmas, bleck!  But there is a very ugly, mean, destructive and abhorrent grinch doing it’s level best to ruin Christmas for no one less than helpless & vulnerable babies.  This grinch is what the disease ebola is doing in three countries in West Africa (Guine, Liberia & Sierra Leone).  What makes this grinch so wholly abhorrent is how it has stolen the lives of moms & dads in these nations, stranding their babies often with no care, support, protection or food.

Saving Moses is conducting a campaign throughout December to raise anti-grinch funds to provide food, nurture, medical care & protection to these abandoned babies.  Please consider joining our anti-grinch campaign & give these babies genuine love, a chance to survive another day & thrive into the future.  Thanks so much for your prayers & consideration!

insomnia

Is insomnia ever a good thing?  When I do some int’l travel or when I have alot of things on my mind, I can have a few challenges with the insomnia thing & if I’m honest with you, I don’t like it one bit.  My brain is hazy, my conversations seem sluggish and I’m just slow.  Sometimes at like 1:30 or 2am, I’ll pop in a movie that puts me to sleep, like Return of the Jedi.

But there’s a “person” for whom insomnia is no problem.  Consider Ps 121:3,  “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.”  I think this is uber cool – God who watches over me doesn’t sleep.  God is keeping us, watching over us and is attentive to us 24/7.  So for God, insomnia is no problem 🙂

Maybe this is kind of like nightcare/

😀

From trash to treasure :)

I just had an interesting conversation with my kids about how they treat each other when they’re struggling or have had some failure. I’ve noticed that they often don’t want their siblings to know about an area in which they’re struggling because they don’t want to get teased or picked on. Sound familiar? I’ve been thinking about this problem not only with my kids but also with my brothers and sisters in Jesus. Far too often I’ve seen Christians “eat their own”& when we see this kind of treatment it makes us distrustful & reluctant to share about areas in which we struggle or have failure. In my mind, this is a super effective strategy the devil uses to divide & conquer. Jesus personifies redemption & when His disciples failed & had shortcomings, He didn’t toss them in the trash & sever His relationship with them. Jesus is in the restoration & redemption business. As His follower, I want to let His redemption & restoration flow not only to me, but also through me. Just some friendly food for thought on this happy Wednesday 😀

Goodbye & Hello!!

Today is our last full day in Cambodia. We have been here a week & it has been quite amazing. I love that I could have my family with me on this trip. I love that our church could connect with such wonderful people & ministry at New Life Fellowship with Pastor Jesse McCaul & his uber cool team. I love that I got to catch up w some of my friends & have some great connection & chats. I have loved this trip for a plethora of reasons.
This trip has been particularly significant for Saving Moses because it’s the 1st time I’ve been able to see nightcare up & running. Nightcare is how we take care of the infants of sex workers while they work. I think that probably one of the most powerful revelations of this trip has been the 100% need for nightcare. I heard stories about what happens to these babies while their moms work that would parallel the atrocities of various genocides in history. The longer I’m here, the more passionate I become about the need for nightcare.
We get to come home tomorrow, but part of me will stay here. Nightcare with saving Moses is all about the tangible & continuous expression of Genuine Love. Please help!!

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weight lifting

 A few years ago, I started to lift weights w a friend & began to really enjoy this form of exercise.  I like all of the benefits that go with lifting weights – clothes are more lose, better muscle tone, bone strengthening, etc.  But today, I’m reminded that Jesus tells us to cast our burdens onto Him because He cares for us.

So please let me encourage you to give your burdens to Jesus, the burdens of family concerns, financial uncertainty, job / school challenges, health issues, etc.  There are so many things that can become heavy burdens in our lives, but Jesus is standing close to you waiting for you to lean into Him and hand over these burdens, challenges, weights, struggles and difficulties.

friendships & reciprocity

I have some really fun friends in my life & enjoy them lots & lots! Truly, I’m thankful for the various friendships that I have in lots of different contexts. But something that’s important to me is that I want to be sure that I add value to the various relationships that I have. I don’t want them to be one-way streets, where I’m always receiving & not reciprocating.
This morning I was thinking about this idea of reciprocity as it relates to God & I was thinking about how I could be value added to God in my relationship with Him. After some reflection, it seems to me that one of the best ways that I can add value to my relationship w God is by loving others well, being concerned about what’s important to Him & by looking for ways to improve the situations that break His heart. For me, this is one of the reasons I’m so devoted to saving Moses 🙂

another courageous conversation: concern

 I know I worte yesterday about Joseph having a courageous conversation related to his boss’s wife trying to hit on him, but Joseph had other courageous conversations as well.  Another example of his courageous conversation is his discussion with some servants of Pharoah who had been thrown in prison w Joseph – the cupbearer & baker.  In this conversation with these men, Joseph interpreted their dreams.  One would live & be restored to his position under Pharoah & the other would die. 

Now, here’s why I think Joseph’s conversation with these men was courageous – he was concerned.  The reason I think Joseph’s concern was courageous is because the opposite of concern, apathy & selfishness, are the coward’s reply to the needs of others.  When these men told Joseph their dreams, there wasn’t much that Joseph could do to help them, but he could use his God-given talents with interpreting dreams to express his concern. 

In a similar way, there are probably some people in our lives with whom we need to have a courageous conversation to express our concern & care – maybe concern about their choices, relationship w God, etc. 

Apathy is for cowards, but concern is for the courageous

growing part 2: love is generous

Of late, I find myself being challenged to love more authentically.  To me, this means that I’m challenged to love w less selfishness & with more generosity.  Here’s an interesting example, after church yesterday, Reece took us to a nice restaurant for Easter lunch – the only challenge was that the waitress was having a rough day.  Consequently, our meal took more than 2 hours from start to finish.  So here’s my choice:  be grumpy w the waitress who is already having a tough time or be super kind, generous & helpful.  Hopefully, I landed on more of the “kind & generous” side of the choice, even though I felt impatient, etc. 

I find God challenging me to love people more genuinely & less for what they can do in return for me – to love without expecting acknowledgment, gratitude or even retribution.  Here are some ways that I am being challenged to authentically love:

  • time:  taking time to listen, engage, be present, to be less impatient & worried about being inconvenienced
  • care:  to express care by expressing genuine interest – asking questions that reflect concern, interest & engagement
  • affirmation:  using words that encourage, promote excellence, strengthen a person’s value, brighten another’s day, forgive quickly, validate & affirm the person even when I disagree w their choices or behaviors

I think that God loves the hell out of us in many different ways.  I hope He uses me to make His love a daily reality to those with whom I interact – that’s a tall order that only He can accomplish 🙂

An Amazing Woman in Calcutta

I met a really incredible woman in Calcutta, named Kali. She is extraordinary in several ways, but let me 1st share a little bit of Indian culture that was explained to me while I was there. Generally, the Indian society is male dominated & females are generally relegated to a strictly domestic role, particularly in the older generations. With this in mind, let me have the privilege of introducing Kali to you:  she is probably around 50 years old w a few grown daughters who have several children themselves.  I think that Kali’s husband left here many years ago & she lives in a very poor village with no apparent way for any improvement or opportunities to excel. Her village is so poor that Calcutta Mission of Mercy has been delivering food to this village 6 days a week for more than 5-7 years.
Here’s one of the things that makes Kali so marvelous:  she made the decision that she didn’t want to see her grandchildren (who are quite small) continue in this seemingly hopeless squalor & crushing poverty. So one day, she asked one of the food delivery men from CMM about the possibility of having someone come to her village consistently to teach the children to read & provide some basic education. She explained about her grandchildren & agreed to provide some space for this requested education. Some space turned into a small dirt floor classroom where now there is daily education for all the children who have agreed w their parents to be a part of the educational program w CMM.
We had the great honor of getting to watch some of this training for the 3-5 year old group (pre-kindergarten & kindergarten ability) & I was really moved to see these little people learning their ABCs, reading, writing & some basic English.
As we were finishing our visit, I was told that because of Kali’s generosity to donate the classroom space, she is now considered to be the village grandmother & is very highly respected.
When the aid workers asked her why she had decided to pursue some education for her grandkids, she explained that just because she & her daughters live destitution, she wanted to give her grandkids a chance for a better life by getting them some education to open more opportunities for their future.
I’ve thought about this in relation to saving Moses & I’ve concluded that it’s extremely important for the kids in the older range of saving Moses to receive some very fundamental education so that they can begin to walk the path of education to not only better themselves but also their community & to extend Jesus’ love to & through them.
Kali, may God richly bless you for your vision, heart & generosity. You are changing the future one child at a time.
Check out this video w the kids learning their ABCs 🙂