Archive for December, 2013

Dec 28 2013

Hearts On Fire

Published by under Life,Relationships

Spend 10 minutes outside in 10-degree weather with 10 people. Then walk inside. If there’s a fire in the fireplace, you’ll see pretty much all 10 people congregate around the fire.

Most of us human beings want our bodies to be warm. We pay big bucks for warm coats, warm cars (with heated seats!), and warm homes.

What if our desire for physical warmth is just a symbol of our internal desire for soul warmth?

Maybe who we want to be and who we want to be with are people with hearts on fire.

God led the Israelites out of Egypt with fire.

He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night.
_Psalm 78:14

God himself is fire.

…the Lord your God is a consuming fire…
_Deuteronomy 4:24

After Jesus walked with the two men on the way to Emmaus, the men later exclaim…

Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?
_Luke 24:32

We’re attracted to fire.

We’re mesmerized by it when wood burns.

We call beautiful people hot.

Do you wonder why you’re not attracted to anyone in your life right now – either with friendship or romantically? (And, romantically, you might be in a relationship with someone you don’t like too much). It might be because the people you’re around aren’t warm in their hearts.

People always wonder how average-looking dudes end up with beautiful women. Sometimes it’s money. Sometimes it’s because the dudes have hearts on fire – filled with kindness and love and joy.

Find people with hearts on fire. Be friends with them. Spend time with them. Their warmth will probably transfer to you.

Be someone with a heart on fire. Make other people better. Transfer yourself to them.

How? It might sound hokey, but somehow, I believe John the Baptist when he talked about Jesus and said…

…after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
_Matthew 3:11

God is fire and he puts that inside us.

Oh, to burn for real with hearts on fire!

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Dec 21 2013

How to Deal with Doubt

Published by under Life

Sometimes I don’t believe Jesus is real.

And sometimes I don’t know if the bible is true.

And usually that makes me feel like a piece of crap.

AT BAT
When I was 12, I played on a pretty good baseball team. I hit tons of singles and scored a lot of runs. When I moved up a league at 13, it all changed. I couldn’t hit a lick. My dad and my coaches were stumped – I’d always hit well. Then pops had an idea. He took me to the optometrist. His hunch was right. I literally couldn’t see the ball. My vision had become 20/40 in both my eyes. I got contacts and immediately started hitting well again.

AT RISK
John the Baptist found himself in a similar situation. Matthew 14 tells about how John called out King Herod for doing immoral things. Through a series of events, Herod put John in prison where he would soon be beheaded. As John sat in prison, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus and asked him, “Are you the one who was to come or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:19)

180
This is the same John who, only six months earlier, had absolutely and confidently exclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) His confidence had completely melted into question.

John’s expectation of how life would turn out was gone. He was about to be murdered. Disappointment and disillusionment were his companions.

SHOW AND TELL
When John’s disciples went and asked Jesus the question, he didn’t immediately answer them with words. The bible says…

At that very time, Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses, and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”
_Luke 7:21-23

DON’T SWEAT
Rubbish batting was the failure of my eyes.

Doubt is the failure of faith.

Our doubts don’t mean we suck. They mean we’re real. And human. My dad didn’t yell at me when I couldn’t hit the ball anymore. And God doesn’t yell at us when our faith fails. Want me to prove it?

After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John…”I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John…”

Jesus didn’t have any problems with John’s doubt. We don’t need to feel bad when we doubt!

BEING REAL
We often try to pretend everything is ok even when we’re falling apart at the seams. In life, shirts with missing buttons are only made right when we take them to be fixed.

With God, when we admit our doubts, he can do something about them. He can fix it and show us truth and build our faith again. Jesus performed the miracles as a reminder of who he is. He built faith. And God will step in and address our doubts, too. He’ll rebuild our faith. We just need to be honest and let him know the doubts we feel in our hearts.

It doesn’t matter if we feel like we’re on shaky ground. He’s got everything under control.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful…
_2 Timothy 2:13

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Dec 19 2013

Now the Hard Work – Honduras Trip 1 Day 7

Published by under Honduras

It’s almost time to leave Honduras. My first trip here has been a huge success. Before I go, I have two observations and a truth I’d like to finish out with.

OFF-ROAD
All countries have things that foreigners find amusing. One peculiarity about southern Honduras is that people regularly sit on the road. They park themselves right on the white line like it’s a bench – as cars speed by them at 50mph.

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OFFICIAL
I posted on Twitter earlier this week that Welch’s is the official grape juice of communion. After a week here, it may be equally true that Pepsi is the official sponsor of Honduras. Everywhere you look there’s a pulperia (corner store) with a sign out front sponsored by Pepsi.

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Joke’s on them. I drank Coke all week.

REMEMBERING
As I pack my bags to leave Honduras, I’m reminded that experiences like traveling to a foreign country are difficult to remember once some time has past. The painting that was fresh quickly dries and fades as the days wear on.

We go home and tell stories of what we’ve seen and done, so often remembering the events of the trip but not as completely remembering the people.

Truth be told, sometimes we want great stories so people think more highly of us. But it seems the only real reason to remember things is so we can DO SOMETHING about what happened previously.

We remember a birthday so we can buy a present.

We remember what God did in the bible so it encourages us not to fear the challenges of today.

REMEMBER PAUL
In Acts 20, Paul knows he’s close to dying. Before heading for Rome, he says goodbye to his friends for the last time. These are his last recorded words to them…

In everything I did, I showed you that by…hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

There are all kinds of weaknesses in people the world over. They need help with various things. Paul reminds us we’ll be happy if we fill up what’s missing in their lives – if we give – our time and our money and our hearts.

STUDYING OUR ROLE
And how does this happen? Paul tell us. Hard work.

We can’t let ourselves go home and only tell stories. It’s too easy. Going on the trip is even easy.

Each day needs time set aside to remember the weak and consider our role in changing things.

The people in a poor place will OFTEN say to you, “Please remember me. Pray for me.”

Our consciences will often say, “Don’t forget them.”

Jesus was seemingly so concerned about us forgetting him that he instituted communion – a reminder of his sacrifice for us. He said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

We can read books, talk to experts who do this work regularly, or wise friends who can help us process things if we’re having a difficult time with that.

We can’t just go home.

The picture will fade and we’ll miss out on the happiness of playing a role in helping work happen in these countries.

To set aside time to consider all these things each day once we return home is one of the highest forms of love and respect we can show the people of poor places – both the poor themselves and those doing work with them.

Trips and experiences end. Love never should. I want to see the people of Honduras prosper – in all areas of their life. Now comes the hard part. It’s time for me to prove it!

The work of Mission Lazarus continues on down here.

May God give all of us wisdom about how to help the poor! Adios from Honduras!

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Dec 18 2013

Meeting Superman – Honduras Trip 1 Day 6

Published by under Honduras

My Spanish isn’t the only thing that’s failed me on this trip, yo. Common sense, as usual for me, is absent. I didn’t use sunscreen yesterday. My neck got a little toasty. Sunburns basically yell to the world, “I CAN’T TAKE CARE OF MYSELF!!!”

LA ISLA
Today we went out to a Honduran island called Amapala. What a place! We docked around the back of the huge island in the middle of the photo.

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What kids!

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EL TRABAJO
Do you know what it takes to do this kind of work with the poor? Four things: God’s hand, poor people, rich people, and people with big hearts who actually do the work. Mission Lazarus has all four. They do work in 28 communities here in southern Honduras which equals about 120-150 full-time employees depending on the time of year. Here are a few of them…

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UPPER LEFT: Jarrod and Claros
UPPER RIGHT: Emma, Marina, and Immanuel
LOWER LEFT: Victor and Roberto
LOWER RIGHT: Justo (on a WELL-DESERVED lunch break!)

They all work long hours with big hearts and little pay. People like these deal in different currencies – invisible currencies: compassion and mercy and love. They may never win awards. On earth. But they will when they breathe their last.

LOS HEROES
This is ANOTHER reason why seeing the works of organizations like Mission Lazarus is huge. You get to meet real-life heroes.

We know it’s heartbreaking to see poverty in pictures and videos. Imagine you’re not LIVING in poverty but working daily with the people who are. Yes, there are victories, but there are sadnesses each day – death, illness, corruption, opposition from people in the country and people at home, money issues, and even, at times, self-doubt. With God, the workers are more than conquerors because they’ve made a choice and they make it daily – to love.

EL AMOR
“There are six million ways to die,” the lyrics to a Honduras song begins. “Pick one.” The workers here and those who do similar work around the world choose love – practically, actually, really. It’s not a tag line or bumper sticker. It’s life.

“Outwardly, we are wasting away,” the apostle Paul wrote, “yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

Like Paul, the workers do this work in the real world but they do it with an eye to the spiritual one.

“We fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.”

If it’s true we become like the people we hang with, then this is the company I want to keep as often as possible. Because I want to be just like them!

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