Time is an interesting ingredient. I say this because my kids took me to my bus stop today so I could catch the bus to the airport. It felt a bit surreal to get dropped off by my daughter at my bus stop. And there’s lots to be said for the taste improvement that can happen when meat gets some time to be marinated. The same is true for a cake baking in the oven – take it out too early & it’s more like thick soup.
The common denominator for these experiences is time. Time is very interesting. We can often have very strong opinions about time when we don’t have enough, when it moves too fast, when we have uncertainty about the future or when it seems to age us in ways we don’t appreciate.
With that said, I can appreciate that in God’s time, we are improved, we grow, learn, get wise and see things from different perspectives. I’m grateful that God isn’t done with me & uses time to make me better 🙂
On any given day, we will have ups & downs. This is the nature of life. And sometimes we need a little help with our perspective so that we don’t get stuck in a down quagmire. Here’s something that could be helpful:
I’m in Jerusalem with my family, friends & church family seeing loads of biblical stuff that is nothing short of epic! For example, we’ve seen the synagogue where Jesus taught in Capernaum, Gethsemane, David’s palace, the Temple Mount & heaps more. I feel like a kid in a candy store to the 10th power!!
And as I walk around all these sites, reflecting on the associated Bible verses, I’m deeply moved. If I’m only a tourist, then this is a journey of visual information, interesting to my mind but not so much for my heart. As a pilgrim, however, I participate in this journey realizing that my heart could change along the way & I could be different from having taken this journey. A tourist could have less risk but a pilgrim could have more reward.
So I pose to you the question: will you be a tourist or a pilgrim on this day? We get to make this decision everyday 🙂
I’m in Israel today & we just visited the pagan temple of Pan, where they sacrificed holy goats, a very long time ago before Jesus was alive. The local people were very sincere & committed to their worship.
And I think that today we have our own versions of holy goat worship. Indeed, whatever we allow to consistently capture our attention & affection could be considered a holy goat.
Let’s be open for Holy Ghost to expose whatever may be “goats” in our lives where we should have the Lamb of God as our first & essential affection & worship!
I’m in Israel & just visited the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter had a vision & learned that God is including the Gentiles for redemption (Acts 9-10). It’s mind blowing to visit such an historical site & consider the ramifications of Peters experience but even more so God’s character, which is timeless.
When I get to visit these kinds of historical sites, it refreshes my gratitude that God is loving, inclusive, patient & forgiving. And no matter where you are today, what is happening in your life & regardless of your feelings / emotions, God is never changing & God’s character is genuine love, full stop.
“Did someone bring a bird on this plane?” The passengers around me kept asking about the chirping sound that we were hearing when suddenly the light went on for me.
“I’m so sorry!” I felt like an idiot when I realized that the ambient forest sound on my phone was on full volume & everyone around me thought there were birds on the plane with us. Maybe everyone thought he airlines was trying to make the flying experience more natural :/
Sometimes I think Gods input in our lives is a little like the chirping bird sound on the plane. We can be “flying” & doing daily life, but the anomalies around us should make us listen & lean in to hear our shepherds voice more clearly 🙂
Remember that Jesus says in John 10 that we are His sheep & we know His voice!
In that today is Christmas Eve, or maybe Christmas when you read this, we might be thinking about Jesus’ birth 🙂
And in the story of Jesus coming to live among us, there are some interesting things we can consider for our daily living.
*Unexpected Coincidence: the shepherds in the field were doing a normal night of shepherding when there was a supernatural interruption. Let’s be mindful that a supernatural interruption can sometimes be dismissed as an unexpected coincidence, causing us to miss something God wants us to know or experience
*Inconvenient Journey: the wiseman took the Star as a signal to go on a journey to seek out something unknown but important. Let’s be mindful that what could be inconvenient and unfamiliar has the potential to lead us to know Jesus more deeply and in a richer experience.
*Unconventional Relationship: Joseph decided to keep Mary as his fiancé even though she was pregnant out of wedlock. Let’s be mindful that being merciful, gracious and generous can position us to bring Jesus to people in meaningful and life-giving experiences.
Let’s keep finding Jesus and helping others experience genuine love through finding Jesus!
Over the last few months, I’ve been traveling a fair amount & almost every plane is packed to the gills, such that sardines might be an accurate metaphor. And we Americans have this major issue w personal space – don’t touch, don’t lean, don’t talk, etc. We all wear our headphones / earbuds, keep the arm rests down & send out nonverbal cues that say “unavailable.”
But today has been a nice exception to the standard porcupine posture. My seat mate engaged me in conversation & I learned some cool stuff! We didn’t solve any global crisis but the interaction reminds me to be hospitable & cordial.
Sometimes we have to be willing to go past our comfort & culture to having meaningful connections. It’s good to talk with people who don’t look nor act like we do!
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.
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
When you’re driving and you look over your shoulder to check your blind spot, has your car ever veered to the side? When I took driver’s ed, the instructor taught us that we need to be careful about keeping the car centered at the same time we would check our blind spot. “Your car will often follow where you look.”
I’ve followed this advice mulitple times and reflected on the times when I let myself get distracted from a goal or destination with the subsequent collision or loss of direction. So it always helps me to remember Hebrews 12:2 where it says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author & perfector of our faith!” Jesus is our goal, so let’s keep focusing on Him throughout each day!
“Wakey Wakey,” said my body at 4am this morning. When I looked at the clock, my brain said, “Sleepy! Sleepy!”And that’s the challenge with jet lag: you wake up at crazy hours & you want to sleep when it’s time to be awake. I’m just back from Cambodia, so it takes a little time to reset ones clock & let the body catch up to the proper time zone. Getting upset won’t help the reset.
Sometimes, we also need to reset our focus & priorities to what is best aligned with genuine love. Instead of managing to the culture around us or pursuing creature comforts, let’s upset the mundane & conventional to go after what’s exceptional & revolutionary.And we can start today by doing the quote from Mother Teresa, “Do little things with great love”
I wonder how many wonderful experiences & people we miss because we make these 3 C’s our endgame. Presently, I’m riding in a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia & I can decide which filter in my thinking will be my perspective. I can choose the 3C’s & everything will be hot, noisy, smelly, loud, annoying & repulsive. Or I can choose the Adventure filter & my ride will be informative, interactive w the people around me at stoplights, breezy & bright.
So let’s consider how we think & the possible filters that we use to affect our perspective. And above all, let’s love lavishly & authentically since this is how we are loved by our Heavenly Father 🙂
I’m presently riding through what seems to be a desert in Arizona, disappointed that there’s no In-n-Out burger stand anywhere on the horizon. It looks barren & desolate with little tufts of gray foliage scraggling it’s way on the endless sand, to the end of the horizon.
For some folk, this vista is austere beauty in perfection. For others, the seeming absence of life & vacancy is nothing but unattractive.
And I’m grateful that God has made not only this austere beauty along with rainforests & snowcapped mountains. Equally true is that God has made you beautiful & you’re highly desirable to Him, regardless of how your look, your talents or inadequacies, etc. You are never ugly nor repulsive to God!!
I’m making my way back to Denver from Angola Africa, where I’ve been for a week working with our baby malnutrition initiative with Saving Moses. I think this is my 6th trip to Angola & it never fails to bring me to my knees, almost literally.
On this trip, I’ve never seen, held or experienced so many malnourished babies possibly combined in my whole life – over the course of close to 5days. And I’m coming home with all of these experiences swirling in my heart, thoughts & emotions. Clearly, this will be a journey for processing, literally. And at the same time, I’m compelled to do more.
It seems to me like we all want to do more. But I wonder if we want to do more of the right stuff?Sometimes maybe we should think about what it means to “do more” prayerfully considering if our more is being directed by God.
I’m in Germany & slowly making my way to Angola for some work with Saving Moses & our malnutrition clinics there. Our layover in Germany afforded some time to get out of the airport & catch a train to a nearby city. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention to the train stops, so we went too far & included some extra sightseeing. I felt like an idiot because I’m not an amateur traveler & this isn’t my first train ride in Germany.
But we kept trying & alas, had a lovely afternoon outside of the airport, with delicious food, glorious sun & some nice walking.
Just because we make a mistake doesn’t mean that we quit trying. Mistakes can be frustrating but also informative & sometimes God has some unique opportunities to redeem our mistakes, if we keep a healthy attitude & humble heart 🙂
I’m flying to Angola today, where we have 6 malnutrition clinics to save babies & toddlers. I haven’t been in Angola for 3years because of various technicalities. And Saving Moses has these malnutrition clinics in Angola, because of such a high infant mortality rate.Angola is the country where I first experienced the realities of emaciated babies with xylophone ribcages, hallow eyes & labored breathing. I have yet to experience anything in my life that compares with holding a baby who is feather light with fleeting breathes from being malnourished. So this is a tough trip.
I like to avoid tough & embrace comfort, reject inconvenient but welcome smoothy groovy.
But genuine love steps into things that are tough, heartbreaking & impossible, even though I drag my feet. Choose genuine love with me 🙂
When I go to the grocery store, I expect to find groceries & when I go to my health club, I expect to find weight machines & workout stuff. So people come to church & expect to find Jesus, but here’s an interesting exception for you to consider:
I hate this word & I’m learning to appreciate it at the same time. When I hear the word, “recalculating” it’s usually when my phone is giving me driving directions & I’ve missed a turn or I’m lost. More honestly, it means that I wasn’t listening or paying attention to the instructions, which happens more than I want to admit.
This makes me wonder how often Holy Spirit recalculates our journey together.And some questions begin to circulate in my thoughts:Are we walking toward the same goal?Do I want what Holy Spirit wants? Am I walking in step with Holy Spirit?Am I listening to the directions throughout any given day?
Not only do I want Holy Spirit to recalculate my journey so that I stay in step together, but I need Holy Spirit to recalibrate my attention so there’s less recalculating 🙂
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.
Traveling can be lots of fun – an adventure & opportunity to grow. New experiences, people & cultures can help us see things from different perspectives & learn new ways of doing things / communicating.
Here’s a quick video that could be helpful for blending Jesus with traveling 🙂
This summer, my family took a road trip to the west coast in a minivan. It’s was a lovely experience & I learned a lot about teenagers as we were together almost nonstop for 12 consecutive days 🙂
So traveling with people helps you get to know them in deeper ways than the occasional lunch or coffee. Here’s a link to my new series, road tripping with Jesus 🙂