“Everyone is going to make it!” In Acts 27, these were Paul’s words to his fellow travelers who were on a ship, when everyone had lost hope that they would survive. And these travelers had very good reasons to have lost hope: an horrific storm that lasted more than two weeks, no sun or stars (so there was no navigation ability), sailors who were trying to abandon the ship, endless ups and downs, rain, wind and instability on a ship, and no sight or inkling of land for numerous days, to say nothing of not eating for two weeks because of raw nerves and fear.
In our daily living, we get to choose how we will respond to the ups and downs of life. The people around us can be despondent and lose hope, but let’s be the one who stands confident in God’s goodness and love, offering hope and future, just like Paul in the middle of a brutal storm. Let’s actively choose to trust in God’s love and goodness, while offering hope as a life preserver to anyone around us who may be discouraged by the storms of life!
Hard circumstances, unknown terrain, impossible journeys – these are all things in which God specializes. As you read this, maybe you’re in a financial crisis & Christmas looks impossible; maybe you’ve received a medical report that’s disturbing; maybe you have some toxic relational challenges that seem to be never ending; maybe you’re discouraged or depressed; maybe you have some work or school difficulties that are bigger than your abilities, time or energy.
Be encouraged today, that God can make a way when there seems to be no way. Remind yourself of how God delivered the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt:
providing a leader, Moses, who was educated & committed to their freedom
supernatural signs & wonders (10 Plagues) to break the slavery bondage
Passover to establish the relationship between God & the nation of Israel
plundering the Egyptians when the Israelites walked out of Egypt
split the Red Sea & drowning the enemies who were intent on dragging the Israelites back into slavery
God did lots more when He liberated the Israelites, so be encouraged that you’re not in a situation that exceeds God’s ability to transform nor redeem! Feel free to share this with your friends to encouage them as well!
“. . . . , those who previously saw him as a beggar.” John 9:8b
I read this verse today & it really stood out to me about the power of vision & how we see people. In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Before his healing, this man sat outside the temple & begged, so everyone recognized him as, ” that beggar guy.” When he was no longer blind, the people struggled to see him as anyone but, “that beggar dude.”
This has started me to think about various people I see: Bob the homeless guy at Starbucks, Tina the blind chick, Marion the needy one, Jerry the deaf dude, . . . .
If we see people only in the quagmire of their pain, dysfunction & disability, then maybe we’re limiting God’s power to work through us.
Maybe it’s a better strategy to ask God to reveal that persons true identity & divine design so that we call out their potential & not merely their inabilities & weaknesses. I’m more than a little grateful that God calls things that are not as though they are!
The day after Easter is always an interesting experience. It’s tempting to go back to “normal”, the regular routines & business as usual.
But this Easter is different for me.
It’s different for lots of reasons:
Jesus many unexpected appearances, reminding me to stay attentive & expectant to experience Jesus throughout any given day
Peter’s denial & Thomas’ doubt – exceptional grace to both men (Luke 24:34 & John 20:24-28)
The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead – more Heavenly Help!! Rom 8:11
Getting ready for Pentecost – grab a copy of Heavenly Help to prepare for this supernatural experience!
Memories are important ingredients for learning & sometimes the lessons we apply from various memories aren’t very helpful. For example, I remember an occasion as a kid when my dad came home from a later afternoon walk with our new puppy & my dad was sobbing & totally busted up. I could barely figure out through his broken words & tears that our new puppy had been run over by a car & was dead. My dad explained that our puppy had darted in front of a car into a busy street during rush hour traffic and was run over.
To this day, the place where my dog was hit still has negative associations for me & I find myself subconsciously avoiding that intersection. That negative memory has shaped my behavior & I’d venture to guess that you may have some similar memories that shape your current behaviors & values.
I think it’s super important that our experiences and memories teach us valuable take aways, but let’s be sure that we choose the right lessons.
Some important memory lessons could include:
mistakes and failures are merely practice and lessons for some great success, likely just around the corner
communion: Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” – may we never forget the infinite love Jesus expressed in His sacrifice for us
forgiveness – practice makes perfect
fond memories can be helpful motivations for endurance & perseverance 🙂
Recently, the controversial pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from being the lead pastor for Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Yesterday, the church announced that it was disbanding and dissolving all of its satellite campuses, giving each location freedom to chart it’s own path for the future. Being a pastor’s kid and having lived in church for most of my life, this announcement saddens me for various reasons:
as humans, we often fall into the trap of following people more than we follow Jesus
oftentimes the people we think are leading us closer to Christ are made of the same flawed flesh in which we live and breath
we struggle with how to keep each other accountable without being judgmental, intolerant or divisive
we are susceptible to many internal deceptions that stroke our flesh and poison our passion for Jesus
somewhere it talks about striking the shepherd and scattering the sheep
So here’s my point: there are lots of hurt, confused and disillusioned people from all of this fallout with Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll, many of whom have followed Jesus because of Pastor Mark’s leadership and influence, as well as the communities that had formed around the satellite churches connected with Mars Hill. In 1Cor 12, Paul talks about the how the body of Christ functions together, diverse parts and pieces working together in complementary more than competitive ways, promoting Jesus in all ways and opportunities. In Galatians 6, Paul talks about how we should bear each other’s burdens, restoring, assisting and being part of Jesus’ redemptive work.
So as members of the body of Christ, let’s be devoted to pray for this situation and moreso for the people who may find themselves floundering from all of these changes. Let’s pray:
that the enemy does not make progress with this opportunity for strife, dissension and conflict
for the body of Christ that has been a part of the Mars Hill fellowship – let’s pray for their hearts
I hate the word “fail” – it almost makes me have a visceral gagging reaction, borderline puking. Thankfully, if I take a minute to pause, evaluate and collect myself, I don’t puke. But if I’m not careful, I can easily throw things into the “failure” column and in a nanosecond find myself back to mental wrestling mat, almost down for the count. As God & I were talking about this whole failure thing this morning, I was reminded about how Jesus looked hanging on the cross, beat to a bloody pulp and possibly personifying the ultimate failure. He was betrayed by his friends, completely helpless, physcially obliterated and even yelling at God, “Why have You forsaken Me?!??”
Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked more like a failure than anything I’ve ever experienced & yet from God’s perspective, perhaps Jesus had never been more successful in His earthly existence, up to that point. Let’s be careful that we don’t frame failure in the context of defeat, permanent or hopeless. Jesus rose from the dead and living in our hearts, we have resurrection potential every day.
Be sure to pass this along to anyone you know who is struggling with seeming defeat or failure 🙂
Today, we walked through a few red light districts in India, doing some research for our nightcare program with Saving Moses. We’re coming to the end of our day & I find myself having some very mixed emotions. The women in these red light districts ranged in age from very young to very old, some with a seemingly sweet innocence & some very hardened, detached & icy cold. We happened upon a preschool community centre that looks after toddlers & preschoolers for a few hours a day – sweet, rambunctious & vivacious kids.
Exploring these red light areas is a very eye opening experience & I find myself needing to process some of the days sights, experiences & feelings. More to follow
I just returned last night from Cambodia, celebrating the grand opening of our second nightcare – so much goodness! Nightcare is our initiative with www.savingmoses.org
where we take care of the babies & toddlers of prostitutes while they work. Without nightcare, these babies & toddlers are at work with their moms – every horror you can imagine & more. The hopeless part is that I can get overwhelmed by the needs, atrocities & unimaginable devastation occurring every night in these neighborhoods without nightcare.
Hopeless happens in our lives when we stop moving forward, when we fixate on what is dark & evil. Hope is taking a step, doing something positive & loving genuinely. Love rescues us from being hopeless. Genuine love gives the escape
Sometimes we can be in really dark situations or seasons in our lives. Darkness can be lots of different things: bad environments, yucky people, wicked things that happen to or around us & lots of other things ( I’m reminded of one of the neighborhoods that I walked in for a possible new nightcare location in Cambodia with www.savingmoses.org – a totally evil & wicked place that was overwhelmingly dark even during the day).
With that being said, lets be mindful to keep Jesus as the Light in our hearts – dont let the darkness seep into your thoughts or emotions no matter how strong it may seem. Darkness never overcomes Light so lets stay full of Jesus in our hearts so that we can bring light, hope & genuine love to any darkness that could be in our lives 🙂
When I was recently in Angola with Saving Moses I had an experience that has really been haunting me. If I understood the situation correctly, I met a mom who had seemed to give up hope on her baby surviving and I’m deeply affected by this – so much that this experience is really starting to challenge some of my thinking. I think that there are situations where I quit too easily for various reasons (disappointment, discouragement, lack of progress, bad reports, setbacks, etc). Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that I should quit or give up. And even if I’m only making microscopic progress, I’m challenging myself not to quit.
In Angola with Saving Moses, I met a 3yr old little boy who was severely malnourished. His mom, Lucia, is a beautiful, engaged and very concerned mom who has a beautiful little baby girl, Josephine, who is about 2months old – bright, cheery & zesty! Segunda is very emaciated but I have really high hopes that he’s going to make some rapid improvement & be released within the next few weeks. Please be praying for Segunda & his mom, Lucia!
I think that it’s really important from time to time to get some fresh perspective on life & the world in which we live. Today has been a day of fresh perspective for me. I’ve met heroic & legendary moms & dads who are doing everything in their power to keep their babies alive. But I also met a mom today who was extremely discouraged & I’m deeply concerned that she may have given up hope. Her baby, Josephine, is only 10 months old but is extremely sick & close to dying. Her mom, Miciah, brought her to our malnutrition clinic to receive milk & medical help but was herself not feeling well. We took a short break for lunch & upon returning to the clinic, I started looking for Miciah & Josephine but couldn’t find them. As I asked around, the nurse said that Miciah had left the clinic w Josephine & the nurse strongly encouraged mom to stay. Miciah left, regardless of the nurse’s appeals & we don’t have a way to track them down – no address or phone number. I have tremendous concern for Josephine because she was not doing well at all. Please remember to pray for her – I’ve attached her picture so you can please remember her. The lesson for all of us is to never surrender hope.
Friday, my husband & I were taking our son & his friend to ski for the day to celebrate my son’s bday. Unfortunately, we hit a really icey spot on the road & proceeded to lose control at 35-40mph. As we were slipping around the road, we missed an 18 wheeler semi, dodged all of the oncoming traffic as we slid perpendicular to the road, slipped into a ditch on the opposite side of the road & almost flipped into a mini-forest. When the car finally stopped, we checked & no one was injured and we could all climb out of the car. After the very amazing extraction of our car, we checked over the car & the only damage was that the front license plate was dinged up. We drove away from this crazy experience and went skiing for the rest of the day, even though my legs were still rather shakey during the day.
I’m crazy thankful to God for protection, miracles and care. Hopefully, our story encourages your faith and confidence that God is very engaged with our daily living, even when things don’t quite turn out as we had planned or hoped.
I was reading this morning about how Jacob in the bible married Leah & Rachel. The Bible says that Leah was hated but Rachel was loved. There’s lots to be said about these marriages, but I love that Leah looked to God for strength & help – naming her 1st 4 sons: Reuben (God sees me), Simeon (God hears me), Levi (attached) & Judah (I praise God).
Regardless of what’s happening in your life:
*God sees you & has compassion on you
*God is listening with ears of lovingkindness
*attached – let yourself be completely attached to God
*never neglect to praise & give honor to God 🙂
Yesterday was an absolutely amazing day! I was able to visit our nightcare facility & to see it operational & blessing infants & toddlers in massive ways! God put this dream in my heart for almost 2 yrs & I’ve been trying to make this dream into reality with much effort, prayer, travel & persistence. Yesterday, I got to see the dream come true! I had the privilege of meeting several moms who are using our nightcare to provide a safe place with care, love & nurture for their babies. These women work through the night in various clubs & in professions that no woman would even remotely want.
I met a little boy, we’ll call him Sam, and his mom had no one to care for him while she worked through the night, so she used to leave him all alone, locked in an empty room. Now, with nightcare, she brings him to our shelter where he gets a nice dinner, love, care a comfortable bed & a safe place with loving moms who look our for him as he peacefully sleeps.
What an absolutely astounding honor that we get to express genuine love in such tangible ways.
Jesus says, ” When you do this for the least of these, you do this for / to Me.”.
Genuine love – nothing changes us more powerfully than genuine love 🙂
I had a really nice chat with some friends this morning over breakfast & we were talking about how our moms are totally for us & want us to succeed & do well. It was a fun to think & talk about that in both the roles of being a mom & being a daughter. This has started me to think about how much God is for us.
God is for you when it seems like no one else is for you
God is for you when it seems like everything else is against you
God is for you when you can’t encourage yourself
God is for you all the way through His death & resurrection
God is for you when everything is still & quiet
God is for you in the racket, noise & bustle of life
God is for you when you’re on vacation & just relaxing
God is for you when you make a mistake or when you have an outrageous success
God is for you when you get tired of your own self