Tag

prayer

Switchback

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

Sometimes you feel like you’re taking a step backward.  Other times 2 steps forward and 1 step back.  Other times, just chasing your tail in circles.  Today is a switchback.


 

A switchback takes the long way to go a short distance.

But because the grade is steep, it’s too difficult or dangerous to tackle head on.


 

A switchback is a road where it’s hard to see around the bend.


 

Spiritually speaking, a switchback is a process for us to keep moving forward and put our trust in God.

He knows the reasons even when we don’t.

He sees the destination even when we can’t.

He puts value in the process despite our desire to avoid it.

He uses the switchback to help refine character, develop patience and perseverance, increase humility and dependence – all while keeping us safe in the palm of His hand.


Today is a switchback because Lovekin didn’t get to go see the specialists, we don’t have a treatment plan, we don’t know anything more than we did yesterday.  Another day of nothing.  My heart is restless, but I know He is present.  As present for her as He is for me.  God doesn’t ask me to like it.  It is.


 

Keep praying; stay faithful.  Keep your eyes on Him, all the way around the bend.


 

Photo credit: Chris Harnish

Heartache

By | Blog, Involve, Personal

Lovekin was born in August 2015. Her mother died a few weeks afterward due to complications from childbirth, and most likely from AIDS.  Her father was not involved in her life and her grandmother is struggling to care for her and cannot afford to feed her.  When we met her she was malnourished and had a fever and a variety of minor medical ailments.  To avert her grandmother deserting her, the Chanje Movement engaged in her life and took care of her immediate needs, including baby formula and medication.

We were in the intake process for Lovekin at Chanje Lakay in hopes of saving her life when we discovered she is HIV positive.  Our shelter is not equipped to deal with the care for her, so we are actively trying to find her a home where she will have the best care.  She is a delicate bundle of joy despite the circumstances of her early life. She has a sweet, contemplative demeanor and loves to be held!

We have created a designated fund for Lovekin to provide for her needs in the weeks, months and (prayerfully) years to come.  In the event that the generosity of donors outlasts her life, the remaining funds will be used to care for other Haitian babies and children who are HIV positive.

We will be posting actively as her story unfolds…

The Beauty of “No”

By | Blog, Envision, Equip

Three things happen when you say no to an opportunity, invitation or appointment.

First, you create margin in your life.  When we say yes to too many things – even good things – we fill our schedules and lives beyond our capacity.  You’ve probably heard the expression, “the good is the enemy of the best.”  One has to say no to appointments, invitations and other opportunities to leave margin in life.  For the person living within appropriate margins, when something excellent comes along, he or she can say YES.  For the person juggling all the balls in the air, adding another thing simply means something else must fall.  Wouldn’t you rather be ready for the best than under a pile with the rest?

Second, when you say no, you make room for God’s peace and leadership in your life.  Remember the scripture that begins God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble? Just a few verses later, the psalmist prescribes how to find your rest in His fortress: Be still and know that I am God.  The visual of the peaceful, empty park bench also communicates that quietness; He offers us communion with Him when we cease striving.  When we say yes too often, we don’t have time to pray, to connect with the Lord, to discern His path for our lives and relationships.

Third, saying no develops your character.  My friend Don recently shared a quote with me from a Sunday sermon he heard years ago: “The rejection of adversity is the mark of an immature soul.”  Think about it… aside from the unrealistic dream of vast lottery winnings, there really is no “something for nothing” of true value in this world.  Victory in virtually everything with high value is accomplished through adversity.  Even in salvation, we receive Christ by grace alone through faith alone, but remember the price Jesus paid on our behalf.  My character needs me to say no to easy but meaningless ventures and to say yes to challenges with depth and worth.  Too often we shy away.  When we say yes to the boring, the mundane and the mediocre, we reject healthy growth and maturity.

Reject the lie that being over-capacity honors God or is useful.  Good stewardship of my life isn’t visible in a hectic and frenetic schedule.  My decision to say no clears away the detritus and pollution of my life, and frees me up to be the person God wants me to be.

No can actually be very beautiful.  When free to choose, take your margin, peace of mind and maturity into consideration, and ask the Lord for guidance.  He always leads faithfully.

Finding Jesus in the Chaos

By | Blog, Equip, Headfirst, Personal

You may have seen the jokes posted with the tag #FirstWorldProblems.  They ridicule the frustrations of our lives in contrast to the life struggles of the 3rd World.  Some are mean-spirited, but many raise awareness that sometimes our “big problems” are insignificant when held up to the “big picture.”  I’d like to offer one contrast of my own: Too busy for God.  This applies to Christ-followers and unbelievers, but my comments here are intended for the believers who are drowning in this conflict every day.

This isn’t a book, so let’s skip the chapter where I try to convince you that there is chaos in your life and you’ve allowed it to distance you from God.  If you don’t have this problem, move along.  I do, so I’ll just write for myself and you’re welcome to read along as an observer.  (Yeah, I just said that I have chaos in my life, and even the calling to lead a missions ministry has not made me immune.  Actually, it contributes, just like any other occupation.  It just has it’s own unique twists.)

So let’s embrace reality: my work, recreation, health, family, iPhone, friends, hobbies, travel, responsibilities and to-do lists…  they’re all part of a noisy, clanging, distracting battle where focusing on God and my relationship with Him gets obscured and lost.  Not because they are bad things, but because they aren’t Him.  They don’t simply dovetail into a beautiful symphony.  Some people recognize this, begin to re-prioritize, and re-launch the search for the elusive “balance.” (Surely if all my choices are honoring to the Lord, then everything will supernaturally sync.  Right?)

Let’s go after this from the other direction.  I want to find Jesus.  I want Him everywhere in my life.  I want to walk with Him but my life is full of chaos.  Not because I’m making horrible unbiblical decisions.  Rather, because I don’t live in the Garden, and I’m plagued by the consequences of sin and all its deformities.  Death and disease have come into this world, and I must work and sweat and battle.1  Jesus has won the war and I am victorious in Him, but every day until His Kingdom, I must battle.  One of those battles is against chaos.

There are two pillars I’ve learned that guard my soul in the fight against chaos so that I might walk closely with God.  Their names are Peace and Order.  We need to see that when we instill peace in our lives, we restrain chaos.  Peace means more than quiet (though silence is certainly peaceful.)  Quieting my heart means slowing, slowing, stopping.  My mind begins to drift to other thoughts that are not of Jesus…  stop.  Come back.  Slow.  Easy.  Nothing else, just Him.  Peace means surrender – of my soul.  Learning to be present in His presence.  “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”2  How could my heart be still then?  Only in my abandon to the Shepherd of my soul.

Order also restrains chaos.  It is more than structure – putting things in their places so that nothing distracts.  Order is intentionality.  Singularity of purpose.  I have no other agenda.  The Creator brought order out of chaos.  He can do the same in the depths of my heart.  “No weapon forged against you will prevail.”3  Purposefully give Him His rightful place and deny that which brings distraction and disharmony.

When I guard my heart and mind in Christ, when I let His peace and order reign over me, the chaos fades and I can find Jesus.  It’s not easy – surrender never is.  I must lay my will down and lift His cup.  “Not my will but yours be done.”4  It happens in His power or we fail every time.  I’ve been learning to invite God into moments and to ask Him to help me yield to Him.  To usher in His peace and His plan… and to let me come to a stop and purposefully surrender, that I might know Him.  More and more.

This week, the Lord brought to mind how much I need Him every moment.  A hymn came to mind and I decided it would help me build the pillars higher as I battle chaos.  I found this version on YouTube – the author (Sam Robson) seems to have created a number of these moving performances.  It was exactly what I needed to help me enter His presence.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3wSbLa2uGg

  1. Genesis 3:17-19
  2. Psalm 23:5
  3. Isaiah 54:16-17
  4. Luke 22:42

Persistence

By | Equip, Personal

Sometimes I don’t even have the persistence of peanut butter.

If you put a healthy portion of Skippy on your PBJ sandwich, you’re going to need a tall glass of milk.  That concoction of starch and spread has the ability to relentlessly bond to the roof of your mouth.  Someone will inevitably ask you, “How’s it going?” when you can’t even mutter in reply.  But with a nice glass of milk, it all washes sweetly down.

That peanut butter has a certain persistence – but it also has its limits.  And that’s the point of my thought at this moment.  What is the limit of my persistence?

God has told us many things about prayer in His Word – here are just a few:

If you’re like me, you have many needs and wants.  Are you persistent about praying for them?  Or have you been more like I’d been recently – lackadaisical, inconsistent, perhaps even lazy or fatalistic? (i.e. if God wanted it to happen, it would have happened by now; He doesn’t need me nagging; my prayers won’t change a thing.)

The Persistent Widow?

Our family has a yellow Labrador retriever.  Gabi is the sweetest pup on earth and extremely affectionate with all of us. (She really liked our boys when they were little – she would clean the extra food off their faces!)  But sometimes the reason Gabi licks me isn’t solely because she loves me – sometimes it’s because she wants something.  Her kisses mean something along the lines of  “Hey, I love you, please take me for a walk,” or “You are so awesome – when you share your steak with me!  Go ahead!  C’mon!  Please?”  She can be extremely persistent.

So I was pondering this morning, as Gabi affectionately (and repeatedly) asked me to walk her, how persistent am I in asking my Master for what I want?  Honestly!  If I’m so aware of my needs, why am I so reluctant to fervently appeal?  God tells us to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11.)  Stop right now and put this into practice – fill in the blanks with your needs:

Jesus – I need You!

I need You more than anything!

For everything else I need, I ask You now, and will continue to ask You for Your blessing.  For … …  … , I ask You, and for … …  … , I ask You, and…

I don’t know if what you want is what God will give you.  There is no formula.  I don’t know if it’s His answer, His timing, His method.  But isn’t it time to rightly value the power of God, the love of God, and the call of God?  He is able, He gives good gifts, and He wants us to ask!

Let us pray persistently, expectantly, urgently and without ceasing, that the God who loved us enough to die for us would answer our prayers.  Won’t you join with me?

And now I need to go make a PBJ.  Maybe a couple.  As it turns out, Gabi likes Skippy too.

Haiti Video Recap

By | Envision, Involve

Here is a moving video which is an excellent wrap-up and moving video of last month’s recent mission trip to Haiti.  Thank you to Jake Hart for his work producing the video.  To answer the inevitable question about how to get a hold of the soundtrack, you can purchase ‘ “Hold On” by Rapture Ruckus from iTunes, Amazon or your favorite media store.

We’re grateful for your partnership with The Global Mission!

When you can’t get along

By | Equip, Personal

Anger.  Frustration.  Anxiety.

What happens inside you when you experience conflict?  And what do you choose to do with the relationships that bring this conflict?

This isn’t meant to be a treatise on conflict, but I do have a few thoughts as it relates to ministry.  Whether accurate or not, haven’t you heard the contention that the number one reason for missionaries to leave the field isn’t lack of fruit, opposition or finances – but conflict with teammates?  Or watched a church split that wasn’t really about theology or ministry philosophy, but actually about personalities? Read on about dealing with conflict

The Centurion

By | Envision
Roman Soldier

Tomas Arana as the conflicted Roman leader Quintus in the movie Gladiator

Here’s what I love about the centurion – he’s a man of honor, faith, and respect.  He is well-trained, and ready to implement his training.  When he comes into a conflict, he is ready for battle and chooses the proper weapon for the fight.  Never identified in the Bible by more than his rank, this soldier comes to Jesus with a God-sized problem – one of his servants is paralyzed and in great pain.  (In today’s society, the servant would be an excellent candidate for euthanasia, particularly in the Netherlands.)   He doesn’t seek a doctor, because a doctor can’t heal paralysis.  God can, so the centurion goes to Jesus.

Click for how the centurion teaches me to live

Suppressive Fire

By | Envision, Headfirst, Involve
24's Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer

Kiefer Sutherland as 24's Jack Bauer (courtesy of Kelsey McNeal/FOX)

Tracing back over several hundred years, the battlefield technique of suppressive fire was enhanced in World War II by the introduction of hand-held automatic weapons.  The thrust of the tactic is to respond to a threat with a barrage so powerful that the enemy is forced to temporarily stand down or withdraw from a battle, allowing safer maneuver of troops.  In modern media, a protagonist such as 24‘s Jack Bauer will request suppressive fire with a phrase as simple as “cover me.”

In Afghanistan, Master Gunnery Sergeant Peter Proietto of the U.S. Marine Corps was on a patrol ambushed by Taliban fighters.  His story and more

Vulnerable

By | Headfirst, Personal
John Eldredge

John Eldredge, courtesy of Ransomed Heart

John Eldredge posted an article last month in which he unpacked the connection between the pace of life and our weakened resistance to spiritual attack.  “The world is utterly draining,” he wrote, “and when we are drained, we are vulnerable.”  He also offered eight suggestions for drawing close to the Lord and building our defenses against the adversary.

I agree with John in his assessment of my vulnerability.  Whether it’s a direct spiritual attack or just the barrage of the world system, my defenses become worn down by the distractions and pressures of life.  Like all believers, I need to refresh and refocus on Christ through prayer, study of the Scriptures, solitude and the practice of other spiritual disciplines.  The power of God in answer to prayer cannot be overstated. Click for my prayer needs