What Is Sacrifice?

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.

Late Wrappers

Wrapping Christmas presents isn’t in my top 5 thrilling adventures. So I’m a late wrapper. In addition to being a late wrapper, I’m also not a very good wrapper. I have the “get ‘er Done” mindset. But lest we miss the whole point, keep in mind that we’re endeavoring to express genuine love & generosity, regardless of the wrapping or when we wrap our presents
I’d propose that our Heavenly Father wants to let us a know a few things this Christmas to reinforce His genuine love & generosity to us:

  • Wrapping: Jesus, the Fathers ultimate gift to us, came wrapped in human garb, as a newborn
  • Timing: Paul says that in the fullness of time, Jesus became flesh to live among us. God’s timing is perfect!
  • Spectacular: despite being wrapped in human garb, Jesus’ arrival was announced with splendor, grandiose display & jubilant celebration.

It’s ok if you’re a late wrapper, a crummy wrapper or if you’re a timely & spectacular wrapper! No matter what, let’s keep genuine love & generosity our primary goal!

Christmas Shopping

Do you have people for whom it’s very difficult to buy gifts? What do you get the person who has everything? Or even more importantly, what do we give Jesus in this Christmas season?
Here are a few ideas:
Presents – the Wise Men brought Jesus gold, frankincense & myrrh, gifts befitting a King, from the resources they had. Let’s be generous with our resources!
Fame – the shepherds, upon finding Jesus lying in a manger, went out & spread the news about His birth & heavens announcement to them via the angles. Let’s be committed to promoting Jesus more than anything or anyone else!
Presence – never diminish the truth that Jesus enjoys your company, so don’t overlook the pauses & moments throughout this season to give your attention & your self to Jesus 🙂

Driven or Directed?

I desperately want to be led by the Holy Spirit, in every area of my life – my decisions, conversations, priorities, relationships, etc. If I’m honest, however, sometimes I’m more driven than directed.
For me, here are some key indicators that I’m being flesh driven rather than Spirit led:

  • my flesh tends to dictate my actions.
  • my perspective gets very self-absorbed.
  • I can be more results oriented than relationship attentive – achievements become more important than connecting with people.
  • Fear often dilutes any expression of genuine love from me.
  • I become more consumer minded rather than thinking how to be generous.

Let’s be careful that we stay in Step with the Spirit & not controlled by our flesh 🙂
Be sure to pre-order my newest book about how to stay In Step with the Holy Spirit!

Extra & More!

This morning I overslept so I missed my normal Bible prayer time. Sometimes this makes me cranky & my already shady social skills deteriorate.  On these occasions, I try to keep a wide space from people to minimize the offense potential. 
But this morning, I tried a different strategy. Rather than withdraw & be sullen, I decided to attend a moms prayer meeting that I’d never been to before. It was a 50/50 role of the dice & it turned out A-MAZING!! Despite not feeling like it, I went the extra mile & received way MORE than I anticipated. 

Seems like this kind of lines up with what Jesus says about going the extra mile & giving with generosity, no matter how we feel. Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to help us go the extra mile today 🙂

Heart of Gold

I have a friend in Cambodia & he has a heart of gold. Vimean is his name & he always provokes me to love well. He lives on the outskirts of a massive garbage dump & he’s always generous, super encouraging, positive & eager to share about Jesus. Vimean’s heart is golden. I was thinking about him in contrast to some other folk who have gold in their hands. Sometimes wealth in our hands can be really helpful but let’s always be sure that our hearts are full of gold no matter if our hands have money or not. Money in the hands doesn’t guarantee that a person has a heart of gold. 

Christmas Presence

  
If you look carefully at this picture, you’ll see that Jesus is inside a transparent “box”, made to look like a present. And it’s not a stretch for us to see Jesus as God’s present to us. John 3:16 comes to mind with God loving & giving Jesus to us. 
But let’s think about this in another way: perhaps Jesus modeled for us God’s core desire – presence equals present or gift. 

When we give God our presence, this is one the greatest presents we can give God. Of course money, serving & worship are vital gifts that we give to God, but giving God our presence is the expression of whole hearted love. Let’s be sure to make time in this busy season to be present with God 🙂

hot topic: Nepal & Earthquake Babies

The recent earthquake in Nepal is massively tragic!  More than 5,000 people have died and there are tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands and possibly millions who have been affected by this tragedy.  With our work with Saving Moses, I’m super concerned about the babies and toddlers who can easily be overlooked when these kinds of tragedies happen.  So here’s some helpful insight about these babies.  Please feel free to help us send relief and aid to these babies, who desperately need our help, attention and tangible love.  Let’s love lavishly with divine extravagance!

so much FUN!!!!

This is a outright advertisement for Saving Moses!  I 100% love the work I get to do with Saving Moses, for reasons too numerous to list here and I want you to buy one of our tshirts 🙂

Please note that we have a really limited suppy, so first come, first serve 🙂

Here’s the link and thanks for your consideration!!

savingmoses.org

Hot Topic: parking tickets

The bad news: I’ve had a problem with parking tickets, in the past
The good news: I figured out a solution to prevent the parking ticket “challenge”
The quick story: I never have change for parking tickets & I’ve struggled to figure out how much time to put on the meter when it can accept a credit card. Most of the time when I earned a parking ticket it was because I didn’t have enough money on the meter.
Solution: fill up the meter to its maximum regardless of how long I plan to stay. This fixes 2 things at the same time – no parking ticket & blessing someone after me with some free parking.
Moral of the story: being stingy is expensive ,)

Christmas cranky

Christmas brings out the best & the worst in us.  We tend to be more generous & compassionate but at the same time more impatient and cranky.  Christmas motivates us to see the needs of people around us, like Saving Moses, but because of the increased pressure & work that can come with this season, we can also be more self-centered and less flexible.  In the next few weeks, I’m planning to do some really practical & honest blogs about dealing with Christmas.  Below are a few ideas about handling cranky people in the Christmas season:

  • remember that Christmas isn’t an easy season for many people to navigate (deaths in family, difficult memories, loneliness, financial pressures, etc)
  • if someone is cranky, don’t let their behavior & attitude infect your words or attitude
  • plan ahead to be extra patient, gracious & kind (pre-planning our attitudes is a great tool to have available when the need arises)
  • gain satisfaction from being generous & kind, not from the person’s reaction (internal versus external fulfillment)
  • keep Jesus at the center – full stop.

Jesus Chicks: nameless generosity

Today is my weekly Jesus Chick post where I get to briefly share some cool stuff about some of the amazing women in Jesus’ life. Of course Jesus had His 12 disciples & men are clearly an important part of Jesus’ life. But here’s an often over looked woman who caught Jesus attention: the widow’s mite chick.
When you read what’s happening around this nameless chick, there are lots of people giving offerings into the Temple treasurey & Jesus was not only watching the people, but He was watching the amounts that they were giving. Some were giving heaps & some giving what seemed paltry. Please keep in mind that in Jesus’ day, women were frequently overlooked as His world was primarily male dominated. So the fact that Jesus calls out a woman who was giving a very minuscule amount says something of premier importance – she caught Jesus’ eye more than anyone else. She caught Jesus’ attention because of her extravagant generosity, not because of the massive quantity. From watching this amazing & nameless Jesus Chick, we learn that is more a condition of the heart than the size of the gift 🙂
Happy Thurs!

A cheap but meaningful gift

With Mothers Day coming up this weekend, it frequently reminds of me about being generous & giving meaningful gifts. However, not all of us have access to resources to get some WAY cool gifts. So here’s a really wonderful gift that is extremely meaningful but not pricey: listening 🙂
Listening is a great gift because its wholesome, it gives respect & honor, it also means that you are present with then other person & that’s an awesome gift! So lets be generous & listen 🙂

Valentines Day is not a “SAD” day

One of my friends told me that for people who aren’t married or dating, Valentines Day can be SAD – Single Awareness Day. Initially, I kind of chuckled at this acronym, but it also made me think about this. In my opinion, I think it’s very “sad” that we’ve allowed a holiday that’s about love to be turned into something almost entirely devoted to romance. Of course genuine love is more than just romance. Genuine love is about connecting with God & connecting with people – celebrating the amazing ways that we can experience & give love. Genuine love isn’t “sad” 🙂

Valentines Day is not a “SAD” day

One of my friends told me that for people who aren’t married or dating, Valentines Day can be SAD – Single Awareness Day. Initially, I kind of chuckled at this acronym, but it also made me think about this. In my opinion, I think it’s very “sad” that we’ve allowed a holiday that’s about love to be turned into something almost entirely devoted to romance. Of course genuine love is more than just romance. Genuine love is about connecting with God & connecting with people – celebrating the amazing ways that we can experience & give love. Genuine love isn’t “sad” 🙂

A secret for some happiness

Last night I had some friends over for dinner & I really enjoyed making a nice dinner for everyone (I even tried some new recipes that weren’t too bad). As I sat & enjoyed the fellowship, my family & food, one of the things that I enjoyed the most was that our meal couldn’t be repaid.
This is my same experience with saving Moses – I get to give to babies & toddlers with a pure heart & no strings attached. It brings me great joy & happiness when I get to freely give & bless others. Somewhere it says that it’s more blessed to give than receive ,)

Behind Door #3

I’ve been thinking about some of the moms that I’ve met over the last few years in my travels with Saving Moses. In some ways they are 100% the same as us & in some ways they’re 100% different than us. They’re 100% the same in their love & passion for their kids – maybe even more pure in their love for their kids. What makes them different than us is that they don’t have have all of the “stuff” that we have. This has started me thinking about who I am if you strip away all of my education, stuff & sophisticated living. These are some questions worth consideration:
*Am I a nice person without all of the accessories that cushion my life?
*do I want to help people regardless of what I get in return?
*am I sincere & authentic?
*am I growing & letting God strengthen the weakspots that I avoid?
*does my education & sophistication enable me to help people more or do I use these only to my own advantage?

Just a few things running around in my head today 🙂

I get by with a little help from my friends ,)

In yonder years gone by, the Beatles sang this song & when I read the lyrics, I think it had something to do with getting high.  I still like the idea, however, of getting & giving help to others.  What’s made me think about this today is watching a guy sit & do nothing to help a crippled lady who was totally struggling to open a door.  I looked into his eyes after she finally got the door open & he was completely indifferent.  To this apathy, I found myself becoming outraged!!

Then I started thinking about this lady’s observable disability – I was extremely motivated to help her when I saw her need.  But I felt the Holy Spirit ask me if I was equally as motivated to help those who do not have an observable disability.  Just because someone looks put together & functional on the outside doesn’t mean that they’re not falling apart or disabled on the inside.  I can’t count the number of times that the Holy Spirit has helped me through various people when I’ve been falling apart on the inside & trying to look put together on the outside.  Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to freely express His help and character through us as we help others regardless of how they look on the outside.

On being authentic

I had an interesting experience with someone that has really made me think about my behavior. I was recently trying to be very nice to someone & it wasn’t working. This person was responding with very rude behaviors & comments. Because they were acting so poorly, I wanted to be mean back & express that I was really displeased with their words & actions. I started to think about my behavior & suddenly I was confronted w the truth that I was being manipulative. I was trying to control the other person’s behavior by being nice rather than just being a genuinely nice because that’s who I am.
So here’s the quick conclusion: let’s be nice because we are nice people & not for the purpose of controlling another person’s behavior. Dear friends, let’s be nice because we are nice & not because we’re manipulative 🙂

friendships

  When I was growing up, I used to complain to my parents about not having any friends – it was partly true, because I wasn’t a very friendly person.  Nevertheless, my parents would always encourage me that I had lots of friends & they were always very affirming on this topic.  Here are some other pearls of wisdom they taught  me in relation to friendships:

  • diversity is good – its good to have lots of different kinds of friends:  smart, funny, healthy, beautiful, chubby, witty, deep, seasonal, insightful, superficial, . . . . .   Diversity is the spice of life!
  • in order to have friends, we must be friendly:  smile, be forgiving, generous, seeking to understand
  • be more concerned about being interested rather than interesting:  listening can be a timeless gift
  • a friendship isn’t merely about what you can get out of the relationship, but also what you can give
  • don’t be disappointed because someone is unable to give something you want in a friendship – maybe they don’t have that skill set or ability, just like you also have some shortcomings
  • give the benefit of the doubt:  don’t assign malicious intent
  • no one person can be your everything in life – this expectation is unhealthy & ultimately idolatrous
  • be the friend you would like to have 🙂
  • forgive, forgive, forgive & be prepared to continue forgiving