My African Adventure with Compassion International

A month ago I embarked on a two week adventure to the countries of Tanzania and Kenya with my family. The purpose of this vision trip was to journey to Compassion International program sites, meet our sponsor children and their … Continue reading

How much longer? No really, how much longer?

Have you ever been on an airplane with someone who forgot a nicotine patch?  It isn’t pretty.  One woman I had the pleasure of traveling with literally asked “How much longer?” every 20 minutes during the 7 hour flight!  Twenty minutes was all the time she could handle before needing reassurance once again that we were indeed getting closer to our destination.  How about you? Are you wondering how much longer? Do you need some reassurance today?

You are stronger than you think.  You are smarter than you think.  You are capable of more than you think.  The burden may be incredible at the moment.  What’s in front of you may seem insurmountable.  One obstacle may have been hurdled just to face another and another.  You may have a thousand questions.  You may be just plain tired.

There may be a multitude of voices telling you to quit, that what you are doing is useless.  No one would blame you for quitting or going another way. This path is difficult and sometimes it feels like you are walking through quick sand.

Remember.   You hear the faint whisper in you spirit.  Remember the purpose for what you are doing.  Remember the need is it fulfilling.  Remember who or what is on the other side of your effort.

You can endure and persevere.  You can because of the One who endured and persevered before you.  For the joy set before Him, you, He endured the cross and disregarded its shame.  He arose from the dead and as He ascended to heaven said, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Remember.  You are strong, smart, capable and able to keep going because Jesus, the ascended one, is with you.  Remember!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

The Solitary Place

Ever feel like you are in the solitary place?  It’s the place where nothing exciting appears to be happening.  It isn’t necessarily a dry desert place but it isn’t the place of abundant fruit either.  It’s the place where old ways of doing things just don’t seem to work.  It’s the place where ‘no’ is the answer of the day  and ‘yes’ has yet to be revealed.  It’s a place that feels silent, lonely and forgotten.  It’s the place where accusations are given voice and doubt knocks on the door.  “Did God really say….”

The solitary place.  It’s the place of work unseen.  It’s the place where roots grow deeper and stronger.  It’s the place that breaks the old way of seeing, hearing and doing things.  It’s the place that says ‘no’ to those things that once were necessary and vital so that no idol is formed.

It’s the place where the old is swept away and new is conceived!  It’s a place of excitement, anticipation and surprise!  It’s a place of intimate fellowship with the Holy Spirit!  It’s the place that says, “You are here because I love you and need you.  There is a storm coming and I need you strong.  I need you firmly rooted and grounded.  I need you to be shelter; to be food and nourishment!”

The solitary place.  It’s the place faith, hope and love take root.  It’s a place where Love abides.

May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.  May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen.”  ( Ephesians 3:17-21)

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

S-U-C-C-E-S-S…how do you define success?

I love watching the Olympics.  All the competition and drama, who doesn’t enjoy that just a little?  What I have always found fascinating is the different reactions the athletes have when they finish.  Some win a bronze medal and jump around ecstatic and filled with joy.  Others win bronze and hang their heads in utter disappointed. Same color medal.  Different reactions.  Why such extremes?  It has to do in part with how each defines success.

How do you define success?  The universal definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Logic follows that without an aim or purpose success is not possible. Motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale has said, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

Having a clear picture of what success looks like in a given area enables us to set appropriate goals that will  propel us toward that end.  We may not consciously think in such straight forward terms all the time, but if we have achieved a sense of success, subconsciously this is what we have been doing.  In our minds we have a worthy ideal for something and our actions lead us in that direction. When we arrive at that ideal we feel successful.

Knowing, articulating and sharing a common purpose on foundational issues brings unity and effectiveness to our businesses, churches, governments and families.  Without it there can be tension, frustration and confusion.  But, how could this translate personally?

Maybe one benefit is that in the little things we would have more grace for others.  Maybe I won’t be so quick to judge and devalue another’s response to shared experiences.  If I win bronze and am over joyed I won’t be so quick to judge or look down on the one who is disappointed with the bronze, and vise versa.

If asked the question, “Do you want to be successful in life?,” most people are hopeful and answer, “Of course!”  However, if asked the question, “How do you define success?,” most people struggle to answer.

 “But keep the Lord Christ holy in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

So, how do you define success?  May we be among those who are both hopeful, purposeful and articulate!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

Cloudy with a Chance of Clouds

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“Today’s weather is cloudy with a chance of ….”  In West Michigan this is pretty much how the daily weather report begins. Fill in the blank with snow, rain or sunshine, but the constant is clouds.  Compared to the rest of the country there just isn’t a lot of sunshine. Yes, everyday the sun rises, shines and then sets.  It’s just that frequently it can’t be seen. There are clouds in the way.

Clouds have many redeeming qualities.  They do provide shade and relief from the harshness of the sun. The ground is nourished by the rain or snow that falls from them.  Imaginations are stirred as they pass overhead on a warm summer afternoon.  However, when they linger too long and subsequent days of just clouds become weeks of just clouds, well, that doesn’t make them very endearing.

I would love to say that I am unaffected by the lack of sunshine we receive here in Michigan, but I would be lying. I am affected. The clouds have the ability to blur my vision. When my vision is unclear I find myself unmotivated, lethargic and discouraged.  Dare I say depressed?

How do I clear the clouds away and get my vision back, get my energy back?  There are some who would say to suck it up and change my thoughts and focus. Will myself out. Then there are others who suggest a Vitamin D supplement and an over the counter medication.  I don’t have an issue using either option.  But what if another solution is in the clouds?

 “By faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David and the prophets…Others were tortured and refused to be released…Some faced jeers and flogging…They we’re stoned, sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-the world was not worthy of them….(Hebrews 11)

Therefore, since we are surround by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that  so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)

Today it is cloudy with a chance of clouds.  But today I remember that I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses and I am thankful for the clouds. I hear the same One who encouraged their hearts encouraging  mine.

Fear not, for I am with you.  Be strong and courageous.  Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.  You are worth more than rubies. You are loved with an everlasting love.  You are always in my grip. I have called you friend. You are wise because Wisdom resides in you. I am the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. I am the Lamb that was slain for you. I died, was buried but I arose and conquered death.  I am the resurrected One who sits at the right hand of the Father and who intercedes for you. I am alive. I hear you. You are not alone.  I need you.

My heart is stirred.  I am encouraged.  I persevere.

Today it is cloudy with a chance of clouds. I may not see the sun today but I have full confidence that the Son is shining.

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Unhindered…live the masterpiece!