Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Little Help

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know how often I write about change. In fact, about every other post has been change related. The reason: I believe that this life we live is simply a progression of changes that takes us from birth to death and beyond. From the physical changes that occur with our bodies as we age, to the mental processes that allow us to “mature” and function in a society that expects a certain level of civilized behavior; as I’ve said before – change is constant.

Then there are the moments of lucidity along the way that enable us to gain a little traction on our journey. Oprah calls them “breakthrough” moments, I’ve heard them described as “ah-ha” moments as well. Those times when we see things clearly and are able to change a behavior or understand how things are really affecting us. Usually, those times are life changing, because we finally see something for the first time and fully realize the impact it’s having on us and our lives and because of that new point of view, can make a course correction that forever changes us. Counselors and therapists are trained in helping you discover those. I purposely write this blog to hopefully get you thinking in those kinds of directions.

But today, I write about a different kind of change – changing someone else’s life. What if you could radically altar someone’s future for the better, would you? What if just a little money, the cost of a meal out, could help someone be successful at the work they do, would you help? Read on……

I have long believed in helping others, it’s a central point of the faith I profess. But I must tell you that I often wrestle with the effectiveness of the help I give. I work in an area that often sends teams of missionaries around the world to underdeveloped countries to help build or give medical treatment, or just spend time with orphans; you know – being Jesus in the flesh, meeting people at the point of their need. However, I have always had trouble in my own mind reconciling the amount of money it takes to get a single person from this country to another, to spend what amounts to a few days laying bricks or driving nails, or whatever the scenario is; and how helpful that really is. Listen closely here: I am not condemning those who do this or the ministry that comes from it, I’m only saying that in my own mind I have trouble justifying it, period. There is no doubt that lives are touched on such trips and I encourage you to do that if you feel led.

A dear friend of mine told me years ago to “maximize my ministry”. In other words, spend your energy on those things that have the greatest impact. For some time, the thoughts in my mind have been that if there was a way to put that money (the cost of getting me somewhere and back) in the hands of the people I was going to help, it could change their lives even more. So today I want to share with you something I’ve found that does just that. allows individuals to make $25 loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world (it’s called microfinance). By doing so, people like you provide affordable working capital for the poor (money to buy a sewing machine, livestock, etc.), empowering them to earn their way out of poverty. These people are already working at changing their lives and most would pay exorbitant interest rates if they were able to obtain loans from sources in their countries. The money you loan is offered to them at greatly reduced interest, enabling them to succeed. I encourage you to check out the website and educate yourself about it, I think it could change the world, or at least offer a little help to someone. will take the top spot on my link list to the right. You choose whether or not it has place in your life. My family is pretty excited about this too. We spend an evening now and again, choosing who we’re going to help, we keep their names in a journal and pray for them regularly. For me and my house, this makes sense in our minds at this point in our lives, and if you know me at all, you gotta know that could change, right? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

You Matter

To be known is the cry of many a heart. In our western culture we call it celebrity. We consider people famous for achievements that are ultimately petty and meaningless. But even those of us who will never see our names in a headline or mentioned around a water cooler have an inner need that longs for recognition.

The need be recognized and affirmed that one matters haunts so many and drives us to behavior that oftentimes resembles a train wreck. Sometimes in very public ways that cause others to scratch their heads and ask, “What were they thinking?” Most often though, it’s subtle and goes unnoticed by much of society as we put in the extra effort and hours working for employers who never seem to notice, leaving loved ones at home wondering if they matter to us. Or tie ourselves in emotional knots trying to prove our “goodness” to parents who never learned how to affirm us. This need, this desire, this void in all of us can be insidious, and cause frustration in our lives.

I have good news for all of us. We do matter and we are important. So much so, that the One who created us saw our deepest need – the need for salvation and eternal life – and died to give it to us. And He wants to tell us every day how much He loves us, if we’ll listen. Take time today to stop, step off the path you’ve been running on, and listen for His voice. It may not be something you hear with your ears, but deep within your soul, you will know it’s Him. God loves us with a love we cannot understand or comprehend. It isn’t conditional, it doesn’t keep a record of our mistakes and it never ends.

I’m praying for you today to know that love. To know how much you matter to Him.

I’m rather fond of you too, in my human-bound, finite understanding of it all. ;o)


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Change Is Constant

Hey there! Hope you’re having a great week like I am. I must tell you though that I’m tired, but it’s a good tired. Ever been there? I hope so because the fatigue usually comes from putting forth a good effort and getting a good return for it. In the midst of it - it may be tough, but at the end of it - it’s usually very satisfying. Let me share my week and I hope you’ll share yours.

I have 2 out of 3 girls that still live at home. However, one is in college and spends about eight months out of the house at a campus across state, but still has a room at home. Until now, it’s been the bigger of the 2 girl’s rooms. The time has come for the youngest to occupy the larger space, another transition is at hand! Granted, it’s coming much too late according to the youngest, but the time has come.

In preparation for “the move”, new paint colors where scoured over and chosen last weekend. With great excitement, they made their way to the paint store with their mother and purchased the new hues that would adorn the walls of their new living spaces. With absolute giddiness, they arrived home to show me these wonderful bright, very “girly” colors. While not my cup of tea, I expressed my approval of their choices and exclaimed to their mother that now was the time to make “the list” of things that needed to be done before painting could begin. Obvious things like cleaning, removing wall hanging, filling holes, preparing the surfaces, etc. And while not too extensive, completing the list would require probably a full day’s effort to complete.

Well, you’d have thought I killed the family dog from the looks I got from my children. Apparently, in their minds, the “work” had been done – the color was picked! From their reaction, the list I made could have been written in a foreign language, because it made no sense to them at all. What was all this other “stuff”?! The process that I had outlined had never entered their minds in relation to exchanging rooms. Blame it on all the home improvement shows that never really capture the amount of “work” it takes to transform a space, blame it on their youthful exuberance for something new and exciting, or blame it on me ‘cause I’m an ogre (I actually think that crossed their minds)…regardless, it rained on their parade a little.

Fast forward to today – one room is completely finished, the other will be done before I hit the pillow tonight, dad’s tired from working day and night, mom’s tired of the mess and chaos and 2 girls are returning to giddy. It’s been a good week and one that is my entire life compressed into 7 days, maybe yours too.

God knows me because He created me. He sees what I can be. Jesus has picked out my new colors and has begun the work, the “list” if you will that needs to be completed in my life to get the new color on my walls. I get frustrated that it takes so long, and often I’m sitting in mess and chaos. But day by day, I see progress. Progress leads to hope, hope gives way to sight and I begin to see the vision God has for me. When I choose to lend a hand to help, or at the very least get out of the way – progress comes quicker.

Occasionally, people notice the changes that are occurring and I become aware of just how much in my life is different. And I stop and thank God with all my heart. I’m committed to becoming all that God sees in me, which means there’s still plenty of work to be done in me. Which is why it’s the absolute truth that change is constant? What do you think?


Thursday, June 07, 2007

I Wonder......

I find myself wondering today (aloud here, as it were), “Can people really follow Jesus in an authentic, real, and sustainable way in the ‘American’ church?” I suppose the perplexing part is that I work in an American church. And I’m perfectly happy doing so, but……

Following Jesus doesn’t seem to always fit into the programmed, pre-packaged, organized, systematic, time-regulated, have all the answers for all your questions box that far too many American churches seem to operate in.

Perhaps you’d agree that life is difficult. Even if you’re not personally dealing with pain and struggle in your life, I bet you know someone who is. Or at least have heard of the pain and suffering that goes on around the country and the world. What happens when the stuff in the church box doesn’t have any affect on those situations? What happens when “doing all the right ‘church stuff’” doesn’t change any of it one bit?

I’ll tell you what happens because I’ve seen it over the course of my career. People get disillusioned and lose hope in something they were told makes a difference in their lives. They stop going to church because the people there are no different than anywhere else, and apart from meetings that take up space on their calendars, it has no impact on their lives.

I’m not claiming to have an answer to my original question, in fact I’m wondering myself. I am not disillusioned or losing hope, but I wonder. I wonder out loud to you to see what your thoughts are. I know this for a fact:

Jesus radically changed 12 guys that decided to hang out with Him for a few years. Those 12 guys were so changed that their friends and families noticed and became changed as well. And on and on it went. More than 2000 years later, Christianity – the belief that Jesus is the Christ (Savior) continues to change lives, mine included. I know in my heart that the difference is a relationship with the person of Jesus, and not just “doing all the right church stuff”, but does everyone else?

What about you? Do you have any experience with church - life changing or no? What about Jesus? Does it make a difference in your life? Would your friends and family agree? I’d love to hear from you.