Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Distorted 2I was part of a group of people once that was setting out to accomplish a certain task.  We had several meetings before we left so we could get to know each other and to have a clear understanding of what our goal was and what it was not.  Everything went great, with no hints of a future issue until we got to our destination.  We no more hit the ground when one individual became someone they didn’t reveal beforehand.  The next thing we started realizing is this one individual had their own agenda and goals.  Worse yet, as they went about to achieve their goals they hurt others on the team by being rude, condescending, and hurtful.  I wanted to ask them, “Just who do you think you are?”

Consider Psalms 69:5:  God, you know every sin I’ve committed; My life’s a wide-open book before you.

God knows who you are better than you know yourself.  Wouldn’t it be better to be your true self at all times then?  To be an open book in front of everyone?  So anyone who meets you sees the real you no matter what setting you are in?  Perhaps that individual in the group was thinking, if I show who I really am I may not be allowed to go on this trip.  I don’t honestly know what they were thinking, and in spite of them, the main goals set by the team were met, but there were souls wounded in the process, and the worst part of that is it was from friendly fire.

I have recently heard from an old friend.  In the process of catching up I told them they could ask me anything.  I told them, “My life is an open book where God’s the author.”  I went on to say that the chapters I tried to write are messy.

Be open with people.  Be honest.  Be who you are.  You won’t be all smooth and polished, for no one is perfect yet, but at least others who encounter you will know what they are getting into when they get to know you.  That you too, like them, are a work in progress.  Last night in a conversation with a friend where we were talking about how imperfect we are at times he asked, “Why do you think God continues to love us and put up with us?”  I thought for a minute and replied, “Because He must think we are worth it.”  He knows who we are, but He keeps His focus on who we can be in Him.

What’s wrong with This Picture?

DSC_5568I just spent a week in Ndola, Zambia.  If one just drives through some of the poorer communities, as we did, you are filled with guilt, compassion, and sorrow.  We in America think we know how fortunate we are, but until you see firsthand how others on the same planet live you really don’t know the depth of our fortune.

This trip wasn’t just to drive through their communities, but to get out and to walk among them.  To talk, to listen, to build relationships that encourage, and to make sure their hope continues.  We were careful not to promise them resources that would be a strain to sustain, for that would be helping that hurts.  The perfect plan to change someone else’s living conditions is to find ways to get those that live there to come up with the plans that will change their lives, change their communities.

Building those relationships started out slow, but by mid-week bonds were beginning to form.  Smiles begin showing up on faces that on day one were not there.  It was strange being in a community where you were the first mazunga, “white” person some of the kids had ever seen.  I have recently learned there are three things that crosses any boundary; love, laughter and God.

DSC_5473By the end of our week some tears were shed as we cDSC_5524elebrated God together and said our goodbyes.  A lot had been accomplished as we visited each church of the seven in Fubuku.  As we led a bible study in spiritual gifts, as we “tried” to stucco a mill house, and as we moved most of the 3000 concrete blocks into positions so those who did know what they were doing could put them in place.  As we did some home visits to those who were HIV positive, or the widow who was raising 10 orphans on her own.  This group of God believing, God fearing Zambians find ways to survive, not just
every month, but every day.

DSC_5150We feel our goal of building relationships was accomplished.  We even gave them a DSC_5309picture of a person from my church section with their name, so they could pray for them.  Then likewise we took their pictures holding up the photo of the one they selected.  The response to this was overwhelming.  They stood in a line, some for 30 minutes waiting for their turn to be photographed.

Yes, there is a lot wrong with the picture of their lives, their schools, or lack of, but today their hope is stronger than ever as they now know there are disciples of Christ who live 8252 miles away, who are praying for them, love them, and who believe in them.

If you haven’t seen it yet check out the short video of our trip:



seedlingI just watched the movie, “The Martian”. Well written movies usually inspire me to write, so here I go. I am on my way to Zambia. Right now I am somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. 41,000 feet up in the air. The outside temperature is -85.0F. At least that is what flight status is telling me. Just watching the movie makes me aware there is a lot that could go wrong, but I have hope that we will arrive at our final destination.

Back home, the people in my church will be packing seeds next weekend into small envelopes. Some of those small envelopes will make this same trip over the ocean and one of the places they will arrive is where I am going. Those seeds provide more than just needed food and income, those seeds provide hope. So those same people are packing hope.

God knew after he made man that he would soon sin. He knew his hand made being would be in need of hope. So God too packed a seed… but he placed his seed into a virgin. The seed sprouted and slowly grew. The seed became strong, and grew in wisdom and knowledge of the One he was fashioned after.

After many years of growing it was time for the seed to produce good fruit, and so it did. After three years of producing the local farmers decided they had enough of its fruit, so they killed it.   They thought that was the end of it. Three days later the seed came back to life, and shared with its seedlings. The seed had become the vine. Those seedlings learned if they wanted to grow they would have to stay connected to the vine.

The moral of the story is this; the Seed was Hope, and Hope was Jesus. Hope can never die again. If you believe in Jesus then no matter what, you have hope… and Hope will get you there to ‘’your’’ final destination.

Who’s Remembered?

“If I hear you died, I would only cry one hour”, says my ex-girlfriend.  Gees, was I that bad?  I can’t explain it, but going on a big trip makes me think of death.  It makes me think of the people who are, or have been in my life.  If the worst happens how will I be remembered?  Will the thought of me bring a smile or a few “choice” words?

What about you?  If you left the lives of those you do life with today, how would you be remembered tomorrow?

Those that did life with Jesus never forgot him.  Never stopped being a witness of his love, his mercy, his grace and his power.

The truth is, one isn’t likely to die on a big trip, but can just as easily die during the process of living life in a very predictable way.  The point here then is to live that predictable life in an unpredictable manner.

Live it in a way that causes those around you and those who encounter you toth
sit up and take notice that there is something indeed different about you.  So strikingly different they inquire of what sets you apart from the rest of humanity they live with.  Then you will have the incredible opportunity to be a witness of Jesus and his love, his mercy, his grace and his power.

The main goal of my life is this:  It’s okay if people don’t remember me when I die, but I hope they never forget the One (Jesus) I tried my best to live for, and smile.