True Confessions Of A First Time Dad: 10 Things I Learned From A 2 Year Old At Christmas

10.  Travelling in a car with a 2 year old is the #1 reason why every parent should own an iPad preloaded with enough Disney Movies to make Mickey Mouse blush.

9.  It is hard to convince a 2 year old that it’s Christmas when there is more snow in the Wal-Mart parking lot than on the ground at Mimi and Papa’s house on Christmas Day.

8.  Christmas ornaments are much more fun to look at when they have pictures of mommy and daddy from when they were younger.  Especially the ones when daddy had hair.

7.  There is no such thing as “too many” soft fluffy things you can put into a Pack-N-Play.  Even if the amount in it makes it almost impossible for you to lay down.

6.  Sitting across from Poppa at dinner will guarantee that food will be slowly eaten and attempts at winking will be many.

5.  When wrapping presents for a 2 year old, less is more.  Especially when it is given to one that doesn’t like tape stuck to her hands, any kind of mess, and the patience of a neurosurgeon.  If you do not listen to this warning you will still be uwrapping presents on New Years Eve.

4.  Disney is a sick and twisted genius of a company.  The people they have locked away in a secret cave somewhere and are refusing to feed until they create new ways to repackage 8 princess is working amazingly.  Just when you think you have them all…

3.  The best way to see if a new dress is any good is to put it on and then spin in the mirror until your nearly fall over.  Any other method is just madness and you might as well wear pants the rest of your life.

2.  If you give a 2 year old a small Christmas decoration snowman that lights up and changes colors right before she goes down for a nap, make sure you remove the decorative snowflake attached by a wire on top of it’s head.  That was a close one Mimi :)

1.  You know your 2 year old understands the real meaning of Christmas when she is able to tell you about Jesus from birth, to him growing up, to him going to the cross, to his empty tomb, and ending with “Jesus is ALIVE!” all by herself at the dinner table.  It makes a mommy and daddy’s heart melt.

 

Gang, don’t believe the lie that children don’t understand or are too young to comprehend what Christmas is all about.  Heck, don’t believe the garbage that children don’t understand what’s going on around them in general.

They understand way more than you think so teach them more than you think you should.

Our kids are sponges of knowledge and I’d much rather take the time to have them soak up the Truth about Jesus early in life when their sponge is empty instead of when they are bloated with all the lies of the world.

Love your kids enough to teach them the Truth about Jesus now.   You’ll never regret it and neither will they.

“Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 3:3 – An Eifel Tower On My Back

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;

bind them around your neck,

write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Proverbs 3:3

A couple of years ago my wife ran the Chicago Marathon.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever watched in my life and not just the race itself.  For MONTHS Cherie trained for this one day.   She would get up early in the morning to run anywhere from 3 – 20 miles depending on the training schedule, but she couldn’t have done it without her good friend Connie.   I was so impressed with how hard she trained and the mental focus she had to keep going.

When race day arrived Cherie and my brother Brad took off when the gun sounded. In my anal retentive fashion I had figured out 3 specific spots that I should be able to see them along the route and had used their pace time as the gauge for when to be at each one.

Tragically both my strategy and the alert system the race used to tell the pace of the runners failed miserably.   I only saw my brother once and I didn’t even see Cherie!  I was so upset.  But as I watched the runners go by dying in the heat, I noticed a man running with a 9-10 foot model of the Eifel Tower on his BACK.  Yes a grown man, running in near 90-degree heat, with a miniature monument on his back.

Why?  Who knows…he’s an idiot.

I mean it’s hard enough to run a marathon in perfect conditions with all the right running gear, but to add the weight of a Tower to the challenge is absolutely insane.  I’m pretty sure this is not one of the training techniques Nike recommends to its runners.   A marathon is hard enough on its own; it doesn’t need our help to make it more difficult.

I believe we do the same thing to life.

We tend to forget that plain old vanilla flavored life is difficult all by itself.  It doesn’t need our help to make it more complicated.  Yet, somehow we decide to strap on brick after brick of stress, worry, anxiety, laziness, and frustration to to our backs.  With all this extra baggage it’s no wonder love and faithfulness are a fading!  Who wants to add one more thing to their life?

But Solomon tells us something different.   In Proverbs 3:3 we read we should bind love and faithfulness around our neck and writing them on our hearts to keep track of them.   I don’t know about you, but when I first read that it sounded heavy.  The words “bind”, “never”, and “write” seemed to jump out at me as a convicting finger being pointed at me by God.  But the more I thought about it, I realized this Scripture is very freeing.

Solomon is saying that love and faithfulness should be a part of our normal training routine.  They are so important to our life that we should find a way to attach them to our very soul.  Not so we feel guilty or weighed down because of them, but so that we can be free.

Regardless of what the world says, love and faithfulness are not the burdens in our life.   In fact if we stop carrying these on our backs and start tattooing them on our souls, we can run faster, we can adjust quicker; we live stronger not having to account for balancing love and faithfulness in our lives because they are always with us.

When this happens, love and faithfulness become part of our normal operating system and the other things that weigh us down don’t make sense to hang onto.  We begin to rid ourselves of the self-inflicted bricks in our lives and live differently.

We stand tall living with love and faithfulness as our support and not our Eifel Towers weighing us down.

So make an appointment to the local tattoo shop and stop carrying Love and Faithfulness on your back and get them tattooed on your heart.

It will leave your hands free for so much more that God has in store for you on this race called Life.

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The Day After Syndrome

“…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. 

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger…” 

- Luke 2:7a

So by now, I’m in Iowa doing the same thing you are doing.  Trying to figure out what in the world just happened yesterday!  Months and months of buying, planning, shopping, budgeting, and fretting all culminated in this one magnificent day and now…it’s over…again.

December 26 always seems like such a weird day to me and I call it the Day After Syndrome.  I mean, don’t know if I feel relieved or bummed out.  I’m not sure if I should quickly put away my Christmas decorations or be like my friend Brianne and keep them up until Valentine’s Day.  Christmas music seems annoyingly out of place and songs I was singing just hours before are now noise to my brain.  The site of red, green, and white are the equivalent of a red cape to a bull at some points in the day, but then you see your daughter playing with all her toys and you kinda want to snuggle back into the Holiday feeling a little longer.

It’s a weird day.

I bet it was even weirder for Mary and Joseph.

Up until this point there was, an immaculate conception, awkward conversations with a fiancé, a visit to a family member’s house where a baby jumped in the womb when Mary came near, donkey rides to Bethlehem, bad news at the Hotel front desk, battling oxen for space in a barn, a heck of a lot of pushing and screaming, catching a baby, cutting the umbilical cord, cleaning the baby, wrapping it up, and then trying to get some sleep on a dirt floor, but not really sleeping because every movement the baby made woke you up.  But now…it’s the next day.   Now what?

Mary and Joe don’t know the shepherds are coming.  They don’t know Wisemen are camel-ing their way across foreign lands to visit.  They don’t know an emergency trip to Egypt is eminent.  All they know is that at this moment in front of them lies a baby who angels told them is the Son of God.

Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly what they did in those moments, but I’m fairly confident I know.  I believe, they picked up Jesus and fed, consoled, held, burped, and loved Him.  They did what any parent does after being given the gift of a child; they enjoyed every minute of it.  Only for them, their minutes were spent tending to the Son of God and basking in the wonderment of His plan being started through them.

We miss out on this in our lives all the time.

Mary and Joseph were not paralyzed looking at this baby in a manager waiting for the angels to tell them to pick Him up and feed Him.  In the same breath, we don’t need an angel from heaven directing every step of our lives either.   We simply need to slow down and do what God intended for us to do with the life and gifts He’s given us.  Enjoy them.

Christmas aside, everyday we hurry by opportunities to enjoy the gifts God has given us.   We rush to work at the cost of our children.  We hurry to the Internet to talk to our “friends” instead of enjoying real time with our husband.  We eat meals in our cars by ourselves instead of sitting down together as a family.  We allow “life’ to get in the way of a relationship with God.  We choose a couple more hours at work instead of an hour at a Small Group.  All these different ways that distract us from the gifts and opportunities God has laid in front of us to enjoy.

Maybe we need to rewind the DVR on our lives and look back at all that God has done.  It may serve as a healthy reminder of God’s greatness and open our eyes to what God may be doing right now.

Don’t let yourself live each day with the Day After Syndrome trying to figure out what’s next.  Because sometimes what’s next was given to you yesterday to enjoy today.  Open your eyes, pick up the gift, and start doing what God has called you to do.

 

PS:  364 more days till Christmas! :)

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Seeking Wisdom: Proverbs 2:2 – Searching For Understanding

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ears to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. ”

Proverbs 2:1-5

If you ever travel to a foreign country (no, Canada does not count :) ) it doesn’t take long to realize you are “not in Kansas anymore.”  For me it happens when I get to the baggage claim area in the airport.  As you wait for your bag and become hypnotized by the passing conveyor belt you start to hear a rumble of voices as people greet loved ones and talk to colleagues.  Except this time you have no idea what they are saying and you feel like you are caught in a beehive of activity with no stinger to defend yourself.

It only gets worse as you interact in the cities or even get something to eat!  Fortunately for us the rest of the world is more educated than we are in the US and learn more than one language.  However, since English is their second language you have to listen so closely and lean into every word the servers or employees are saying just to survive.  If you don’t purposefully seek understanding in those moments of conversation you will be lost.

Searching for wisdom is a lot like that.  When you desire to know the will of God and are truly seeking wisdom in your life you have to lean in a bit more to understand it.  You have to be willing to search for understanding if you ever want to achieve it.

Solomon gives us very practically wisdom when seeking to understand God in our life, and we see it in verses two and three.  He says:

  1. Turning your ears to wisdom – We must start by turning our attention, our ears, to the voice of God and not the voice of the world.  The voice of God needs to perk our ears like a whistle to a dog.  It has to cut through the noise and affect our souls to draw our interest from the mass amounts of noise to the still small voice of God.
  2. Apply your heart – Saying you want wisdom and aggressively searching for wisdom are two different things.  Something becomes important to you when your heart begins to ache for it.  Only when the heart and soul of a person are starving for Truth do we change.
  3. Call out for insight and cry aloud – Solomon is saying don’t sit back and wait for wisdom to come to you through osmosis.  You need to get aggressive, you need to call out for it, you need to get in your Bible, get in a Small Group, go to church, serve on a serving team, and, and, and.  If you want something bad enough you do all that you can to achieve it so don’t wait.

Be willing to search and seek wisdom with passion and veracity.  Change your prayer life to one of boldness and not just traveling mercies.  Switch your Bible reading to wisdom mining and not loop hole diving.  Desire an honest relationship with God and not a bumper sticker, wristband, window cling, t-shirt, or necklace only friendship.

As you begin the hard work of searching for wisdom, let God start to pierce through the noise in your world.

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A Call to Pause: A Christmas Prayer

As I type this blog I’ve just finished leading worship at our Lockport Campus.  This was our last service before we begin the marathon Christmas Eve services in a few days.  It was a great time with amazing men and woman of God that I LOVE serving alongside.

I vividly remember looking out at a packed worship center filled with people entering into worship of God.  I could literally feel my soul warm.    I love seeing people let the Holy Spirit grab them and stir something inside.

That will never get old.

What concerns me is what happens when we leave and Tropical Storm Christmas causes wave after wave of distraction to come our way.  How do we keep the worship moments with the Holy Spirit Alive at Christmas?  How do we keep the focus of Christmas on Christ?

I believe it happens in simple conscious decision; a decision to pause.   It’s a moment of conscious reflection before the waves start to crash and the gifts start to be ripped to shreds.

It’s a pause to pray.

Maybe this Christmas you and I both guide our families to pause a moment before the madness begins to say a short prayer thanking God for the gift of Jesus.

If you aren’t a real good “pray-er”, maybe you could use this one.

 

Dear Mighty God,

Today we celebrate Christmas, but before we open presents, eat food, or hang out with family we want to stop and remember why we are celebrating. 

Lord, we want to thank you for the gift of Jesus today.  A gift You gave the entire world by allowing Your one and only Son to be born as a baby and to live a life amongst Your creation.  We know that You left the beauty of heaven to come to this earth and that alone was a great sacrifice. 

But Jesus, we know that you grew up to be a man and lived a perfect, sinless life.  You were killed on a cross and buried in a tomb for our sins, but raised to life three days later defeating death and sin forever.  You did that for us so that we might have a way back to God and into heaven through Your gift of Grace.

 A gift we don’t deserve, but one You give us freely if we will only accept it. 

Thank You Lord Jesus for this amazing gift. 

Lord God, we want to acknowledge how awesome You are today and how thankful we are for all the things You give us.  Our families, friends, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, jobs, health, food, and even our church are gifts from you.  Thank You for always providing for our every need and for loving us unconditionally. 

May this day be a celebration of You Lord Jesus.

In Your Holy and Powerful Name we pray,

Amen.

 

No matter what you do this Christmas, make sure you take time to reflect on why you are celebrating.  It doesn’t have to be long or drawn out, but it should be purposeful.  Begin a new tradition of pause in your home that allows for a spirit of thankfulness to God to fill your home and soul.

I believe then your Christmas will take on a whole new meaning and purpose.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Seeing Wisdoms: Proverbs 1:1 – Been There Done That

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel.”

Proverbs 1:1

When I played baseball I was constantly working on my baseball swing.  I was the first person to show up to practice and the last one to leave almost every day.  There was nothing I wanted more than to become a better hitter.  So I worked extremely hard at it.

One of the key things I did when working on my swing was listen to my coaches.  Now, I had some great coaches and I had some coaches that were terrible.  What made the difference between a great and a terrible coach was usually one thing.

Experience.

The coaches I leaned in and listened closest to were the ones that had ACTUALLY PLAYED BASEBALL and played it at a high level.  These were the men that I could look in their eyes, listen to their stories, and look at their statistics and know they knew what they were talking about.

I let all the 3rd string, cut by my Jr. High JV team, played more video games than real games, and never won anything higher than a participation ribbon instruction go in one ear and out the other.   These coaches may know OF baseball, but that didn’t know ABOUT baseball.

Our journey through Proverbs begins with establishing whom we are listening to.

The writer of much of Proverbs is King Solomon. The son of King David, Solomon was considered one of the richest most successful men in all of history with his wealth nearing the trillion-dollar mark by our modern standards.

However, even more important to his credibility was his decision making.  In 1 Kings 3:5 we read that “At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”  You see before all of his surmounting wealth and power Solomon was given a chance to ask God for ANYTHING.  Maybe I didn’t make myself clear, God said ask for ANYTHING and I will give it to you.

Solomon fought the urge for wealth or success or power and chose instead something totally different.  Here are his words:

Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” – 1 Kings 3:8-9

Given the opportunity to ask God for anything Solomon chose wisdom and in doing so God found favor with him.  So when we read in Proverbs 1:1 that these are “proverbs of Solomon” we should find great confidence knowing that these are wise words given from God to Solomon.  This is truly someone that has “been there done that.”

I want us to find power in the Word of God.  I want us to find confidence in the Word of God.  I want us to find peace in the Word of God.  I want us to find wisdom in the Word of God.

We only find these things when we stop approaching the Bible as a self-help book.  We must stop looking for it to make us feel better or to find a loophole to keep sleeping with our girlfriend.

Pursuing wisdom through Scripture means we let it speak to us not us speak to It.

We need to lean into the inspired authors and let the words of God change our lives and in the process we become wise.  Solomon chose wisdom over the fleeting pleasures of money and success.  Those things came, but only as a result of choosing wisdom first.

You and I would be wise to do the same.

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Seeking Wisdom: Looking Beyond Our Comfort Zone

Isn’t it funny who we listen to?

If you really sit back and think about it, the people we respect, take advice from, and even surround ourselves with tell us a lot about who we are as people.  They usually look like us, dress like us, hobby like us, and live much of their lives like us.

In most cases this is AWESOME.  We all desperately need that connection with one another.  We need people we can relate to and can live life amongst.  This is completely God’s plan.

But, there is a problem…

If we are surrounded by people like us, then when we are going through troubles or need direction we will most likely hear the things we would normally tell ourselves.  The voice of wisdom and reason we receive will probably be exactly what we WANT to hear, not what we NEED to hear.

So what’s the solution?

Proverbs 9:6 says “Leave you simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.”

The solution is to surround yourself with Godly men and women who may not exactly look like you, think like you, or live life like you.  It means leaving our simple, comfortable ways of thinking behind to search for a greater understanding.  By diversifying where we gain our knowledge from and being open when we receive guidance, we will expand our portfolio of wisdom to new levels.

However, the hard part will be what you do with what you hear.

Will you embrace this new outlook with open arms or will you put your fingers in your ears until your “real friends” come back?

Will you believe that truth can come in all shapes and sizes or will you keep your worldview so small that you can easily put it in your pocket never letting it get too big?

I’m going to encourage you to embrace wisdom outside of your comfort zone in this next series of blogs.  I’m asking you and I to listen to the words of God spoken through the writers of Proverbs.

Fight the urge to think of these as just poetic lines meant for fortune cookies.  Consider them with more weight and more openness to allow these inspired writers words to change you.

I’d encourage you to stick with me on this journey in search of wisdom beyond our comfort zones.  Try to memorize the verses we look at and commit them to your spirit in a meaningful way.  I know that I’m hoping to see God penetrate some calloused areas in my character and spirit and fill those wounds with His love and direction.

Join me over then next few weeks as we look to Seek Wisdom through this journey through Proverbs.

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16 Funny Things I Learned in Kenya

Well I thought it was time to break away from some of the serious stuff I learned in Kenya and share some of the lighter side of our trip.  I present to you 16 funny and sometimes disturbing things I learned in Kenya.

  1. If you breed a rooster and a duck you get the ugliest animal on earth.  I’ve lovingly named it the “Duooster”.
  2. Walking to lunch and dinner each day dodging live chickens only to eat a meal made out of chicken seems eerily close to living on death row for poultry.
  3. The worst way to attract a wife as a single man is to follow up any question about marriage presented to you with the phrase, “but I’ve lived with this guy for 8 years”.   This is guaranteed relationship kryptonite.
  4. Roosters have a crazy ability to tell time.  Without fail they do their crowing at 3:30 AM each day.  I hate roosters.  On a brighter note, I think that one of them has a smoking problem or at least it sounds that way when it winds up to crow each morning so maybe it will die before next year.
  5. Pushing a Safarii Van out of the mud in the middle of the African plains only to come across a lioness 1/8th of a mile from the spot you just got stuck at will make a grown man cry inside.
  6. A man who can cut the grass of a schoolyard with a machete is more of a man than I’ll ever be and also a better guitar player.
  7. Normal people do not eat bugs that could be used as stunt doubles for pterodactyls by grabbing them by the wings and putting them directly into their mouths.  Only superhuman men like Moses can do this.
  8. Americans should never drive in Kenya.  Some Americans shouldn’t be allowed to drive in America, but no American should drive in Kenya.
  9. During a worship service in Kenya a keyboard with any number of dated sound effects on it is appropriate to be played.  It does not matter if it’s in the right key or even appropriate at the time. You can’t hold back the keyboard.
  10. Michael W. Smith is the #1 artist in Africa for 20 years running.  His music can be used for background music for any and all purposes including alter calls, weddings, and chastising high students when they talk during a teaching session.
  11. Despite what we as ignorant Americans think, Kenyans can already play basketball.  Additionally they will play in their bare feet or sandals and even if they cut their foot and blood pours out of the wound they will not stop playing.
  12. Chickens can hop onto beds and prefer laying next to Takamine guitars.
  13. Taking a bucket shower is hard.  Taking a bucket shower and then forgetting your towel and having to make the wet walk of shame is harder.
  14. Kenyans celebrate birthdays by hiding around corners and dumping buckets of water on the heads of the birthday person.  I have an ice cream cake.
  15. If you attempt to give a group of Kenyan students candy while standing on the edge of a stage you are putting your life in danger.  Think about the scene in A Bugs Life when the ants become aware they out number the grasshoppers if that helps.
  16. In Amsterdam airports woman can clean the men’s bathrooms with men in it.  I’m just saying it can happen to you.

Sorry, but every now and then I need to loosen up the spiritual factor and just have some fun.  Hope you enjoyed!

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The Penn State Scandal & You

Recently, there has been a horrific tragedy unearthed at Penn State University involving sexual abuse by a formal football coach, Jerry Sandusky.  This unspeakable situation has gripped the nation causing outcries from all of humanity.  It has caused and will continue to cause lives to be lost, innocence robbed, careers to be forfeited, and legacies to be tarnished.  And although many of us are just sitting back as angry spectators as it plays out in front of our computer screens or TVs, we need to realize that this scandal is actually about us too.

 

Light Will Fall On Darkness

“He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him” – Daniel 2:22

Light is now being shed on this tragedy but it’s been in the dark for a long time.  We too have areas of sin in our life that we’ve heaped mounds of darkness on top of hoping no one will uncover it.

 

Sin Grows If Not Killed

“For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths.  The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast.  He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.” – Proverb 5:21-23

I have seen that the conscious sin seeds that are planted in our lives grow faster than anything.  Those areas in our life that are left alone, ignored, and swept under the table are the most lethal to our lives.  We must destroy and deal with our sin as quickly as we can before it consumes and chokes our life out.

 

The Truth Will Set You Free

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

Had the truth been made known earlier in this tragic case many young boys lives could still be in tact.  Instead the truth was hidden until it finally peaked it’s ugly head out.  As Christians, Christ calls us to truth especially when it comes to sin.  As soon as we can get our sin into the light of God’s grace the sooner we can begin to heal.

 

We All Have A Grand Jury Report

God, you know every sin I’ve committed; My life’s a wide-open book before you.” – Psalm 69:5 (MSG)

At the heart of this scandal is the Grand Jury report that details all of the testimonies of the alleged victims.  It’s a detailed description of each of the offenses that are facing this former coach.  As difficult as it is to read, the report that details our sin that God will read at our judgment will be even harder to stomach.  Our only hope of surviving this list of offenses is through the Grace of Jesus Christ that deletes our transgressions.

 

Victims Do Not Go Unnoticed By God

“Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the LORD understand it fully.” – Proverbs 28:5

Lost in the chaos of this story have been the voices of the victims.  For years these young boys have remained silent in fear, shame, hurt, and anger.  The accused was a man they trusted and gave their respect only to have that abused in more ways than one.  Although hidden in the darkness for so long God was not unaware.  He is a God of love and mercy, but He is also a God of justice.  One day we will all stand in account for the sins we have committed and at that time justice will be handed down.  For those that are apart from Christ that just punishment will be given to them for eternity.  For those of us that are adopted children of Christ, our punishment was taken by Christ unjustly on the cross and we will receive the eternity we don’t deserve in heaven.

 

Forgiveness Will Need To Happen

“But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” – Psalm 130:4

Even though the thought of forgiving in a time like this seems audacious and even insane, it needs to happen.  We should be quick to remind ourselves though that the forgiveness is not for the person receiving the forgiveness but for the person granting it.  Forgiveness is relinquishing the control the other person has on you by granting them an underserved gift of grace. Forgiveness frees us from the anger and sin that comes with holding onto our pain and drenches us with the love of God.
 

God’s Gift of Grace and Forgiveness Is For All

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”  – 2 Peter 3:9

We are just as much of a sinner as Jerry Sandusky and we need God’s grace.  Even as horrible and unthinkable these allegations are, our sin is just as disgusting to God.  We need the Grace that only Jesus’ death on the cross, burial, and resurrection can provide just as much as anyone.  In heaven there will be former murders, adulterers, thieves, and on and on it will go, but the common thread we will all have with them is the love of Jesus.  A love that wipes the sin slate clean and covers it with the blood of Christ.

I pray that as we watch and scrutinize this case over the next months and years we can remember to pray for all involved even Sandusky.  Pray that the Light that blinded a murdering man like Saul and transformed him into the Christ following man of God Paul can work that same miracle.  Pray that the healing hands that touched lepers and blind men can touch the lives of the victims.  Finally, pray that we as Christians stand up in times like these and show what true Christians should act like.  Ones filled with the Spirit of God that judges slowly and loves quickly to all involved.

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8 Spiritual Truths I Learned in Africa

Upon returning from Africa for the second year in a row I’ve been overwhelmed with what God is doing in the hearts of the people of Kenya and in the hearts of the American teams we send over.  I wanted to share just 8 Spiritual Truths that I learned over the course of my time in Kenya.

1.  The Word of God Transcends All Boundaries Impacting Those That Hear It.  Race, ethnicity, border, government, or socioeconomic status does not limit God’s Word.  It impacts the souls of those anyone who encounter it.

2.  Powerful, Gospel-driven, African Pastors Are Preaching God’s Word.  There may be a shortage of the number of Christian pastors in the country of Kenya, but the men that we support are doing a tremendous job.  The power and unwavering love of the Gospel is palpable in every message preached.

3.  Kenyan Christians Pray Much Stronger Than We Do.  Prayer to the people of Kenyan is not just a spiritual discipline it is a necessity of life.  They eagerly expect the God of the Universe to supply their needs and pray with the confidence that it will happen in a far greater way than we as Americans every do.

4.  Being A Christian & Following Christ Is A Problem In Africa Too.  Even though I’ve seen powerful men and women of God in our time in Kenya, I have also seen many people claiming to be Christian’s but no fruit to prove it.  Similar to the US, the application and implication of being a fully devoted Christ follower sometimes can be too daunting in the face of the pressures they face.

5.  Health and Wealth Preachers Spit Venom In Kenya Too.  The evil of health and wealth doctrine has permeated the African culture.  Preying on the poorest of the poor, these men and women will preach that with a “little faith” they can leave the slums of the valley and rise to the palaces of the rich.  This evil is so detrimental to the vulnerable people of Africa that I urge us to pray against this type of teaching to protect the good work being done.

6.  Women In Kenya Are Being Empowered.  Over the past two years, I have seen such a tremendous rise in the empowerment of the young woman we come in contact with.  Certainly the teachings of our One Light Self-Defense team have played a role, but more importantly I see God working great things in these girls.

7.  We Need To Empower Africa Not Make Another America.  One of my many failures in thinking going to Africa was that I thought the answer to solving the problems of Africa was to make them American.  Boy was I wrong.  The reality is that we need these Christian men and women to impact Africa to make the best Africa not make another United States.   Or even worse “save” these people we come across by bringing them to the US.  We need Jesus centered people in Africa making a difference for the Kingdom.  If they all come to the US what good is that to Africa?

8.  More Work Needs To Be Done.  God is doing great things in the lives of the people of Africa.  More than ever I feel the presence of God permeating the slums of Kenya but also the lives of the people in them.  However, more work is left to do.

There is such a need for the Living Water that only Christ can provide that we can’t stop our efforts in getting it to the people that want it.

So if you are sitting on your hands at home saying “I wish I could go on a missions trip” or “I am nervous to go out of the country” or “Missions is only for a select group of people” I’d encourage you to reconsider. Before you make up your mind, hit your knees and see what God would say to you.

I believe, that money will be raised, fears will be lifted, and false thinking will be cleared up when you set out resolutely to follow the calling of God.  Consider leaving the comforts of the US for the mission of the work of God.  You’ll never wish you didn’t and He needs more people to spread His truth.

 

 

Well that is just off the top of my head.  I’m hoping to share more of what I learned in Africa throughout the next blogs, but I thank you all for your prayers.

 

God Bless!!!!!

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