Over the last week, it’s been fun to be around LOADS of sexworkers in Bangledesh, nice church folk in America, random & fascinating travel peeps & best of all, my family. And I enjoyed each exchange & interaction.
Were some people cranky?Yes
Were some people strange? Yes
Were some people brilliant? Definitely
Were some people hurting? Absolutely
Were some people broken? Everyone
And I’m so grateful that God is teaching & helping me to both enjoy & love people, full stop. Sometimes I do this better than others, to be sure. And it’s immensely helpful just to relax, smile & enjoy people no matter what!
I’m in Bangledesh with Saving Moses. I love to watch the people here & reflect on their daily living. I see shopkeepers, garment factory workers, kids walking to school, brick makers, farmers, etc. There are lots of differences here in the daily living with what is familiar to us in America.
As humans, however, there’s lots of commonality that we’d be wise to acknowledge. No matter the differences, let’s remember some helpful things:
Respect: being respectful of differences helps us learn & know people
Compassion: the road each person travels has unique struggles
Learning: new experiences can facilitate some incredible insights
At the core of these three things is an internal perspective that we can cultivate. When we lack these things, then it’s helpful to take an internal inventory to consider why something is missing. Selah 🙂
I’ve definitely had my share of flops, failures and screwups! When I was younger, I’d get massively embarrassed & it would take me awhile to recover. Now that I’m “older”, it’s easier to laugh at myself & put mistakes in the “practice” column ,)
I’m in the middle of a youtube series about people in the Bible who messed up. Feel free to watch this really short video about a Bible character & I’m inviting you to subscribe to my youtube channel as well! Happy viewing!
There’s lots of stuff in the Bible about wisdom, even a whole book, Proverbs, that’s devoted to the topic. It’s also mentioned in the NT a fair amount, like in James 1, where it says that we should ask for wisdom. So given the frequency of this topic, perhaps it would be helpful to think about what it is, along with what it is not.
In the “wisdom is not” column, here are some things to remember. Wisdom is not:
merely information; facts, formulas, information and details
advanced degrees, memorization or books read
In the other column that defines wisdom, based on the Bible, here’s what we can say. Wisdom is:
grounded in “fearing God”; this means that having a healthy and robust respect for God in our lives is the pathway to facilitating wisdom
discerning the times and seasons in our lives
appreciating what is appropriate and helpful in various situations and events
recognizing when to speak and when to listen
Lets always be ready to get more wisdom & let wisdom be active in our daily living!
When I was growing up, my dad would take me to garage sales, art galleries, museums, estate sales, hospital visits, nursing homes, etc with an occassional stop at Arby’s for a jamocha shake & potatoe cakes – yum!! So during my childhood, I was around lots of people who were very different than me. It helped me a lot that my dad was very personable & never knew a stranger because I was realtively quiet & reflective.
As an adult, I also have the privilege of getting to meet lots of people from all walks of life. I meet poor folk & prosperous folk, educated & uneducated people, polite & rude folk, insightful & obtuse . . . . Some people are alot like me & we see life from a similar perspective. In contrast, I’m also around alot of people who are very different from me & I love this!! What is wonderful about each person that I meet, is that they are deeply valuable, highly esteemed and massively loved by our Heavenly Father. Let’s be intentional that we cultivate connections with people are different from us & make the committment to express genuine love regardless of our commonalities or differences!
I was getting fuel this morning & there was an employee standing by to help or answer questions a customer might have. Since most of us could put fuel in our cars with our eyes closed, this employee didn’t have much to do other than circulate & be friendly. So we engaged in trivial chit chat: where are you from, nice weather we’re having, etc. We had a lovely chat & I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him better so the next time I get fuel there, he won’t just be the “gas dude.” Additionally, we prayed together for our health with working out and making better eating decisions.
All of this happened while I was pumping fuel & a few minutes longer. The extra few minutes we give, can be an invaluable expression of love, since everyone is so “busy”. Let’s be lavish with our love by giving an extra few minutes to listen, affirm, engage and acknowledge people & not just functions 🙂
“We interrupt this program for this important message . . . . “
All of these examples remind us of things that arrest our attention to focus & tell us to focus on something different, even if just for a few minutes. In general, I don’t need any help to interrupt my focus because I can be easily distracted. Consequently, I do as much as I can to eliminate distractions and interruptions. While this strategy can be helpful in being productive, it is also possible that God might be trying to get my attention and I’m dismissing the “divine interruption” because I perceive it as a distraction.
In the Bible, there are some great examples of God interrupting a person’s daily living to grab their attention & invite them to make a course correction. Such examples include: Moses & the burning bush, Samuel as a little boy with Eli, Gideon hiding in the winepress with the angelic visit, the Samaritan woman at the well with Jesus & Saul on the road to Damascus.
We would be wise to pause at what could be a distraction or interruption and reflect for a few moments to listen and watch for God to speak with us. Sometimes God interrupts our daily living to help us make some important decisions & course corrections 🙂
I’m in Cambodia & have met women here in the sex industry & their eyes are vacant. On the surface, our initial reaction could be one of shame, disinterest, judgment, revulsion or not even seeing her. When a persons eyes seem empty or vacant, it can be easy to overlook them. But we need to see past the surface & we need to look beyond our initial reactions to see a human for whom Jesus died & deeply loves.
No one, including you & me, wants to be ignored, overlooked, shamed, judged nor rejected. With genuine love there is never a scarcity, so this helps us to see beyond the surface. In contrast, there’s always a shortage with transactional love.
Let’s let Holy Spirit Help is to see beyond the surface!
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.
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:
Do you like Easter?I thoroughly enjoy celebrating Jesus’ resurrection & His defeat over death!The next big celebration on the church calendar happens with Pentecost, the outpouring of Holy Spirit, & what a massive demonstration that was!!!So what about the middle time between Easter & Pentecost?What should we do in the middle, between these noteworthy events?
It seems to me that there’s a lot of our walk with God that happens in the middle. For example, we pray for something & then there’s often a middle time before we receive an answer. Or think about a time when God led you to start something & maybe you’ve done the beginning but you’re in the middle now, before you see the full culmination of what God has spoken to you.
In between Jesus’ resurrection & Pentecost, Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they’re clothed with power from Holy Spirit. I’m really confident that when Jesus told His disciples this, they didn’t know what to expect – they didn’t know what Pentecost would look like for them. They just knew there was something more on the horizon.
And I would encourage you, in the middle seasons, to anticipate & earnestly desire more of Holy Spirit in your daily living. More Holy Spirit can look lots of different ways for each of us, so let’s be careful not to specifically define what more is. Let’s just be open to having more of Holy Spirit in our lives!
Death is the pre-requisite for resurrection & today is that middle ground. Death happened on Good Friday & resurrection happens tomorrow. But the disciples didn’t know that Jesus would raise tomorrow, no matter how much He told them. And they knew He was dead with lots of uncertainty on the horizon. This is often how the middle feels – uncertain & tenuous.
I don’t think there’s anyone who is reading this now who isn’t in some middle place in life. We can find ourselves in the middle of: schooling, fighting a disease, a financial crisis, a relationship challenge, a difficult decision & heaps more.
So what do we do in the middle? Here are some suggestions that could be helpful:
1 – community: the disciples held together when they found themselves in the middle & waiting for what was next
2 – faith focus: let’s keep our attention on God who works all things together for our good, as we stay in love with Him
3 – purposeful farming: be sure to plant healthy seeds like patience, gratitude, diligence & others since we will reap what we sow 🙂
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.
“Jehoshaphat was afraid & turned his attention to see the Lord & proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” 2Chron 20:3
Being afraid is a universal experience to every human & maybe there are times when we have more or less fear. But fear is not a rare emotion in our human living. What we do with fear is more important, in my opinion, than the actual fear. So when I read about Jehoshaphat being afraid & turning his attention to the Lord, it gives me some good input on what to do with fear. I’m thinking also that this could be helpful for you too!
Rather than biting your nails, fretting, getting jittery, nervous eating, etc, when we have times or experiences with fear, let’s be certain that our default instinct is to turn our attention to God, remembering that nothing causes God to “bite His nails.”
I’m sitting in an English class of one of my kids & learning about gerunds, infinitives & participles. Maybe I’ll learn about these sentence parts this time around, possibly. It’s fun to watch a teacher who is excited not only about their content but also about their students!
In a similar way, I think that God gets excited about teaching us!! It seems to me that God takes us through various classes to help us grow & do better. Such classes include patience, endurance, truth with love & discretion to name a few. As much as I want to think that I’ll graduate & never need these classes, that will likely only happen in heaven. So today, I’m learning & growing one decision at a time, leaning into the Holy Spirit for supernatural help!
Take a quick minute to remember a few of the ways God has shown up in your life, met various needs & resolved things that seemed impossible. I’ve been looking over the last several years today & seeing God’s hand throughout the years in so many magnificent & unexpected ways! As I look back, not only do I see God’s faithful provisions, but I’m astounded at the perfect timing of His work, weaving random experiences into a gorgeous tapestry of grace & genuine love.
Whenever you get discouraged or begin to question God’s input in your life, take a few minutes to look at what God has done in your past. Most assuredly this will encourage your heart that God is very present & engaged in your life!
““I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In Luke 5:32, Jesus told the religious leaders these words in reply to their complaint about Him eating & drinking with shady characters. And throughout all of Luke 5, the people who get a sharp tongue from Jesus are the religious leaders.
As I’ve thought about this, maybe Jesus was loving this group of people by being cranky & confrontational because they were deceived. Perhaps Jesus wanted to heal the deception in their lives so they could have an intimate relationship w Him & they needed the non-gentle approach. Let’s remember that genuine love celebrates truth 🙂
If we don’t feel pain, we run the risk of being unfeeling, insensitive, cold & apathetic. But for the people who live with chronic pain, feeling pain isn’t good. It’s also difficult to see people who are in pain. So what do we do with pain? Anesthetizing pain with entertainment, booze, exercise & other stuff turns out to be a very destructive way to cope w pain. So rather than anesthetize pain or run from it, let’s consider that we can ask Jesus to take away the pain & help us know Him better through the pain & suffering. Consider what Paul says in Phil 3:10-11, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
skme of the greatest potential for intimacy can happen through the shared experiences of pain & suffering. Even though we don’t like the idea, it’s true nonetheless. Think Gethsemane. Pray when there’s pain & watch what God does.
We all lose things: car keys, sock mates, computer files, credit cards, water bottles, etc. So how does a parent lose a child? That’s exactly what happened to Joseph & Mary when Jesus was 12 y/o, st the annual festival they attended in Jerusalem. His parents thought that Jesus was with the caravan returning to their village, so they didn’t look for Him nor worry about Him until a day had passed. When they began looking for Him, He wasn’t with everyone, so Joseph & Mary made their way back to Jerusalem to find Jesus.
Similar to Jesus’ parents, we can sometimes lose Jesus in the festivities & hubbub of the Christmas celebrations. So let’s be committed to keep a continual lookout for Jesus throughout each day of this Christmas season, watching for opportunities to be kind, loving generous & Christlike. Indeed, some of the best ways to experience Jesus is to spread His love in our daily living!
A few years ago, there were some cute movies, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory. Each movie was about the long search to find a missing son & a beloved friend. When I think about finding Jesus, I’m encouraged that Jesus is accessible throughout every day! Check out this video: