Wednesday, April 22, 2009


God's call to action in our lives is invigorating. There is no stronger pull out of bed and into the cold morning darkness than a day of pursuing His work....and knowing what that is! The emotional high that comes from connection with God and the pursuit of His plan is extraordinary. We move with laser-like focus and assume we always will. Then, out of the blue, it hits.


Oh, how I thought the hard part was determining what God was trying to tell me. If I can only hear Him clearly, I'll know what to do. Then I'll do it. The End. Yeah, right.

For several months I have pursued God's vision of establishing a school in Africa. I've done it cautiously and at a tortoise's pace, but I have moved. I have not doubted.....until several days ago. The process of thinking through the details had me second-guessing myself over and over again. That old saying, "The devil is in the details," comes to mind! My passion suddenly gave way to planning and practicality. Yes, I know those are vital components to a well-run project. But there are times we have to balance faith and control. We have to walk without clearly seeing the path. We walk by faith, not by sight. It can be hard.

I sat with my devotional and my Bible in front of me. It was one of those doubt-filled mornings and I needed some inspiration. My devotional has relentlessly inspired me for months, and I was certain this day would be no different. I read the day's words. Nothing. I pored over the day's Scripture. No sparks. All I could do was share my heaviness with God, and wait. I prayed. Father, I am not at all feeling good about this. Is this really what you want for me? Do you want me to pursue this school in Africa thing? Did this vision come from you or am I making it up? Are these doubts and distractions an attempt to throw me off course? If they are, Lord, please continue to confirm I am doing the right thing. I just don't know. Please show me. 

I continued to sit, devotional in hand, my heart stuck in the mud. I thought, Well, maybe I'll flip through last month's lessons. They were really good.  I grabbed a chunk of pages between my thumb and fingers and flipped backward through the book. The first place the book fell open was February 29th. It says (and I am NOT making this up):

You are on the right path. Listen more to me and less to your doubts. I am leading you along the way I uniquely designed just for you. Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking. But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone. Do not expect anyone to understand fully my ways with you, any more than you can comprehend my dealings with others. I am revealing to you the path of Life day by day, moment by moment. As I said to my disciple Peter, so I repeat to you: Follow Me.
Uh, God, this really doesn't cut it, but......thank you?

Doubt throws us off course so well. Maybe it is also an indication we are headed in the right direction. Whatever your path, wherever God leads you, and whenever doubt strikes, there is a set of directions that never fails. You won't find them on Mapquest, but commit them to memory because you'll never be lost.

Follow Me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Lyric from Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise":
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

A paradox. It seems self-contradictory but expresses truth. Nowhere else than before God can we simultaneously fall and rise. We fall on our knees, or surrender our lives to Him, and rise. We rise on eagles' wings. A steady, graceful rise, propelled by God. 

As we sang "I Will Rise" on Sunday, it occurred to me how often the Bible expresses paradoxical statements and ideas.  We find truth in unlikely statements. Look at the following:
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39
"One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth." Proverbs 13:7
"Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: ...... genuine, yet regarded as imposters; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and not yet killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." 2 Cor 6:4, 8-10
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ." Philippians 3:7
Outside a Christian walk, these make little sense. Only through the love of Christ do we find meaning.  And what is the lesson? There are many and I will miss most! But here is the one that reaches me: each verse calls us away from those things deemed important by the world and toward life through Christ. The world tells us to control our lives, to find happiness in money and possessions, to be strong and independent, and to take pride in our accomplishments. Scripture tells us otherwise. There is an antidote above for each of these wordly "treasures." Consider how they apply to your life; I will be doing the same.

It could be no accident that Scripture uses paradox to teach these messages. Living a life committed to Christ often means we live against the way of the world. Scripture trains us accordingly by using lessons that contradict themselves, yet speak truth. 

Your walk with Christ may run contradictory to the world but you, too, can speak truth through it.
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise." 1 Cor 3:18
Time to get smart and be a fool.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


"Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the Lord."
Psalm 27:14

"I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.'
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord."
Lamentations 3:24-26

The Hebrew word for "wait" in both passages is qavah. It is not simply the passage of time. Its definition is "to wait, look for, hope, expect." 

If you wait, then wait and look with hopeful expectation.  

What a gift it is that as children of God, we don't have to wait without knowing. We know he is with us. We know he is working. We know he waits alongside us. 

If anything makes the wait easier, He does. 

Friday, April 03, 2009

Pure and Faultless

Last month I posted about my dream to establish a school in Africa. It is a desire born from a passion laid on my heart by the Lord. I cannot explain it any other way. The pursuit of this dream is a real test of obedience for me because, hey, does this make ANY sense?, but God continues to affirm the call. I am grateful that my God not only understands my need for encouragement but so freely gives it. He provides it in the tiniest details of every day life: the excitement and support of this endeavor from friends and family, the connection with hearts similarly aligned, and the steady unraveling of a plan before my eyes...His plan.

I have to go on record to say this: if there is a day when this school opens its doors, ALL praise and honor and glory go to God. This is His plan. He is reaching out to the people of Africa and calling them to Him. He wants them to know they are His children. He wants them to know what it is like to abide in His love. He wants them to know freedom and have hope. And He want us to know that He loves them JUST AS MUCH AS He loves you and me.  The parable of the lost sheep ends with this: "In the same way your father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost." He wants them to be found.

The Bible also instructs us to care for widows and orphans.  James 1:27 says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Wow, that verse packs a double punch when I think of how it applies to Africa. War and disease are rampant in Africa. A heart-breaking result are the number of orphans and widows left to fend for themselves.  Our offering to them is accepted by God as pure and faultless. He also accepts as pure and faultless when we keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. Does anyone else wonder why these two, seemingly separate ideas are placed together? Is it possible that scripture is nudging us to realize how service to widows and orphans cuts down on our "pollution"? Do we make ourselves "pure" and keep ourselves from being polluted by the world when we serve the widows and orphans? I also consider how the pollution of the media and our American lifestyle leads us to believe that Africa is a far-off place, too dangerous, too dirty, with too much of nothing. 

It is a lot to think about. Service to Africa is an opportunity to introduce the lost to a life in Christ. It is also a chance to live out James 1:27. I would like to offer something pure to God. I want to avoid the pollution of this world. Or maybe, by looking into the eyes of "the least of these," God will show us purity. And as they look into ours, pray they will see His love.