Thursday, November 4, 2010

You ... complete ... me

Eph. 5:33 "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (NIV)

Southbrook Church began a marriage series this past Sunday bringing us back to the basics of God's plan for marriage, partly based on Dr. Emerson Eggerichs book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.*

Among the many lessons that stood out this week for me was one that spurred from Jerry Maguire's famous line " complete me." We can all picture the moment when Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) delivers that infamous line to Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger). perfect. And, that's what we are taught to expect, right? In order to be happy, we need to find our "soulmate" out of the billions of people on earth and slip effortlessly into that blissful "completed" feeling of romantic love forever.

This morning, while flipping channels, I caught a show called "It's So Over: 50 Biggest Celebrity Breakups." In light of the most recent Charlie Sheen fiasco, I perked up when he came on-screen describing his marriage to Denise Richards which was new at the time:

"She's just that part of me that was, part of my life was missing. Everything else got put back together for the most part and that's the one element that wasn't present."

Really? That so-called "completion" lasted two years amongst other forms of Mr. Sheen attempting to "complete" himself with affairs, drugs and gambling. How tragic is that!

It looks like the part that is missing in his life has yet to be found. He's an extreme example, but with a divorce rate of > 50%, a lot of married people are out there trying to complete each other and failing. When things don't feel right - when the blissful romance slows down or hits a rough patch - we turn on each other, we blame each other:

"I need to find my soulmate."

"I love you, but I'm not in love with you."

"It can never be the same."

"I can never forgive you."
And half of us move on, desperately seeking to fill the void in a new relationship.

What if that relationship we need is not a new husband or wife?
What if the only thing that completes us is God?

I believe that and my own marriage is living proof of this truth. I am ashamed to admit that I used to blame my husband for things that felt wrong in my life. Many times, I treated him like the source of all my discontent instead of showing him respect. Check out the book I mentioned above to find out about the vicious cycle this sets off in a marriage. It's so simple when you get it, it's confounding how we all at some time or another overlook or ignore that message in Eph. 5:33. Thanks to God and other Christ-centered marriages around us, I came to realize that the source of discontent in my life wasn't my marriage or any other external circumstance - it was my desire for communion with the loving, all-powerful, eternal living God. Jesus calls himself "living water" (John 4:10) and "bread of life" (John 6:35) because only He can satisfy our most basic needs.

Many, many people are living through this cycle right now.

Many of them are to the point that they don't even recognize how much they are disrespecting each other or how much love they are missing out on.

If your relationship is not joyful - in a constant, deep, lasting way - then you will, at some point, seek to remedy that. Your first instinct will be to look outside of your marriage for that person, that drug, that experience, that lifestyle, that you think will bring that completion. My hope is that you will first look inside - at yourself, your relationship with God, your devotion to His purpose for your life, the way you act out love (or unlove) to your family - and uncover the joy he intends for us in marriage and in life. In the words of Jesus, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10, ESV)

*Video message at

Friday, July 30, 2010

Communication and Service: Two approaches to help teens

In a response for one of my counseling classes, I described how I could help teenagers reduce their risk of long-term effects of poor choices.  As a parent of a teenager, I was not aware of the biological changes taking place inside the adolescent brain which impact how teens manage their emotions, make decisions and control impulses.  Although they may physically begin to look like adults, they are still developing their adult cognitive and psychological abilities and perceptions.  Above all, they, like children and adults, crave love and security.  Be patient with these guys...they have a lot going on! 

Adolescence is a difficult time of transition which, I believe, is made more difficult by cultural influences in the U.S. today. Immense physical, psychological, social and emotional changes take place all at once and, as a result, relationships with family, peers and even self-esteem change rapidly in the span of a few years. There are two primary ways I can help teenagers emerge from these tumultuous years with fewer scars from poor choices.

One way I can help teens is by promoting education and communication about key issues that they face. In my experience working with teen girls through student ministry events and small groups, allowing time for guided discussion about relationships, sexuality, and social difficulties such as cliques and gossiping is a welcome activity. Most girls are eager to discuss problems and fears they have in these areas. Discussion provides a forum for teens to learn more about the appropriate ways to respond to a situation or challenge and also builds camaraderie and trust among the group members. Providing scriptural teaching gives teens a God-given basis for their understanding of who they are and how these sometimes confusing issues were actually designed to be some of the best parts of life. Teens are able to come to understand how these issues have been hijacked by Satan and distorted to become the most common idols that people seek in place of a relationship with God (I Thess. 4:3-5; I Cor. 18-20; 2 Tim. 2:22-24). Separating the Truth from the lies and teaching them to discipline themselves (such as delaying romantic relationships, not engaging in negative discussions about people, taking care with the media they expose themselves to, etc.) can reduce the chances that teens will suffer negative consequences from a poor decision.

Secondly, teaching teens to look outwardly and providing opportunities for servitude counteracts our culture’s egocentric emphasis that is especially present during adolescence. Feldman (2008) states that adolescents develop a metacognitive ability called “adolescent egocentrism” which is a sort of hyperawareness of self (p.388). Culture in the U.S. leads teens to focus on physical appearance, possessions, athletic abilities and social power through the emphasis placed on these things in all forms of popular media. The biblical view is that one should clothe oneself with humility (I Peter 5:5-6) and consider others’ interests (Philippians 2:3-4). In Mark 10:44-45 Jesus states “…whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Teens should be given opportunities to live out these commands and learn to value themselves not for how they look or how popular they are, but for the impact they can make on the world in the name of Christ.  Teens can contribute a lot more than you might think.  Redefine your expectations for them beyond texting, shopping and video games and you'll be surprised what they are capable of! 

Feldman, R. S. (2008). Development Across the Life Span. Uppersaddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In the midst...

In the midst of a famine, a move to a foreign country, the deaths of a husband and two sons, would we be faithful to God?

Naomi was!

She didn't know the outcome or purpose of everything happening around her; she didn't know the end of the story.  How many times must she have felt alone, abandoned or hopeless through those long, hard days?  She even says "The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me" (v. 21b).  But, she sought His guidance and remained faithful through it all and the purposes, in the end, were GREAT...beyond anything she could have imagined.  May this help us to be faithful even in the midst of what seems confusing, impossible or even tragic.  We can't know the end of the story, but we know that it is in God's loving hands (I Peter 5:6-7; Romans 8:28).

Read this short book starting here:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Going Viral

"Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you, never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna tell a lie and hurt you...."

You know this're already singing along!

"Thanks to a very common Internet prank called Rickrolling, the music video for singer Rick Astley's 1987 song 'Never Gonna Give You Up' is one of the most viewed viral videos ever. Rickrolling is a simple prank—the prankster convinces his or her victim to click a link, telling them it's going to be one thing (like a funny video, an interesting news story, or whatever might interest the victim). But when the prank's victim clicks the link, they are taken to the music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up." That person has just been 'Rickroll'd.'" (From

No doubt you may remember being "Rickroll'd" or Susan Boyle, or The Evolution of Dance.  Most viral videos you probably don't remember, though, despite the joy they brought to you and your friends that dreary afternoon in your cube. I love this quote from our Southbrook Pastor, Rob Singleton:

"...once those things kind of burn bright and hit their peak, they burn out...they fizzle out. They're here today and gone tomorrow. They don't make much difference. I'm fascinated on the other hand why things like 12 ordinary, blue-collared men 2,000 years ago can hang out with a street preacher, who is the Son of God, for three years, see incredible things happen, then can fan out and change the world to the tune where 2 billion people today call themselves Christians....that's a viral thing to beat all viral things." (From "The Woman at the Well", November 22, 2009)

I love that the name of Jesus went viral when there was no internet, no telephone, no radio, no airplanes, no international postal service, no printing press.  And it endures, as Truth does.  

"For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sexuality and Spirituality

If you asked most people if sexuality and spirituality had anything to do with each other, I think most people would answer "No."  Unfortunately, sexuality has been hijacked and distorted as the #1 replacement for deep, meaningful connections to people and to God.  

In his book, Sex God: exploring the Endless connections between sexuality and spirituality, Rob Bell, a pastor and author, uses plain language and scripture to wildly un-distort sex and marriage.  Bell's style is refreshing because it is current and provocative in a good way.  He doesn't mince words - his examples are true to life and not watered-down.  The message is creatively shared through real-world examples; from the Bible, of celebrities and of people that Bell has known in life.  He speaks to an audience that is not necessarily Christian or studied up on the Bible (for instance, when quoting the Gospels for the first time, he tells the reader that these are accounts of the life of Jesus).  People in all stages of seeking truth about God, sexuality and marriage can read and easily understand the message. 

Today, most people, inside and outside of Christianity, would probably tell you that becoming a Christ-follower involves "toning down" their sexuality, but Bell argues that, to the contrary, the communion and connection found in a relationship with God and inside marriage (ultimately, a picture of relationship with God) is the supreme fulfillment of the desire that God placed inside each one of us.  Sleeping around, sexual deviance, pornography, infidelity, addiction....these are all of the tragic results of people desperately seeking this connection in the wrong places.  These issues are pervasive.  They harm us, our marriages and our children.  Bell's book allows us to understand sexuality from an unsecular perspective, which is, perhaps, a new and different one - how it was intended by our Creator.   

Monday, January 4, 2010

Is this love too crazy?

A friend of mine sent me a copy of Crazy Love by Francis Chan to share with a family member, but I read it first....and I am grateful that I did.  

Chan's book is a call to act on Scripture and to pursue the purpose that God has planned for each one of us -- even when it means radically changing your lifestyle or even threatens the safety most of us spend our lives trying to ensure for ourselves and our families.  This book will challenge you to give more - to give sacrificially - in ways you may not have thought possible before.  My favorite chapter is where Chan simply shares brief stories of people who have, and are, living fully for Christ.  It goes well beyond attending service on Sunday and "trying not to cuss."   

Chan's chapter on "safety" as top priority really struck home with me.  "Safety" is ultimately what we want for ourselves and our children, right?  Jay and I want to live in a safe neighborhood, send our children to safe schools, save enough money to retire comfortably.  Above all else, we want to protect each other and our children from physical harm.  When we consider doing something more, it is hard for us to go past the point where we would jeopardize our lifestyle, our health or our lives to serve God.  We need to reprioritize and make sure that safety isn't keeping us from living out Christ's commands.  Isn't living for God and trusting Him to care for you better than living a long, safe life having done little or nothing to impact the world? 

Chan does a great job of describing how service motivated by Love - not obligation - will drive you further than you ever dreamed and fulfill your life in ways you haven't even imagined.  Paul writes in Acts 20:24, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." 

Father, in all of our actions and decisions, may we remember this ultimate task and be grateful that we are able to help fulfill it.  Help us to fully trust You so that we won't hold back our talent, our possessions or our love from others in the name of safety or fear.  Fill our hearts with urgency and courage so that we will fulfill the purpose you have for us every single day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It will never be enough

I'll be reading Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Timothy Keller. 

We have all been reminded lately of those who seem to have it all, but still seek more (ummm..Tiger?).

Money, Sex, Power, Outer Beauty, Drugs and Alcohol DO NOT FULFILL - it will never be enough.  But, we all keep trying! 

"Whether we’re athletes, artists, businesspeople, or preachers, Keller says, we all suffer from the same malady—trying to fill our empty spaces with achievement when only accepting God’s grace can do the job. 'We want to feel beautiful, we want to feel loved. We want to feel significant and that’s why we’re working so hard and that’s the source of the evil.'"

Read more: Why Are So Many New Yorkers Flocking to Evangelical Christian Preacher Tim Keller? -- New York Magazine

Keller's previous book, The Reason for God, is directed at the curious non-believer or unsure seeker and takes an academic approach to Christian theology, especially targeting those who deny the plausability of God, His Word and His plan for salvation on the basis of reason and science.  It is a fascinating book and a great first step for someone who is searching for Truth.  In the same breath, I caution those like me who tend to LOVE explication and analysis that in my experience, God doesn't make Himself any more accessible through intellectual exercises than He does through prayer and the tactical exercise of living out His commands.  No matter how complex or profound the path, we all arrive at the same place: that we love Him and love each other. That's reason enough right there!    

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: The Hour I First Believed

The Hour I First Believed
by Wally Lamb
***Spoiler Alert***

I really, truly disliked this book for the first 350 pages or so. It just seemed that the main characters were living life in a fog, not really impacting anything or allowing anything to penetrate them.

Once Lydia Popper, the 19th-century teenaged version of Caelum Quirk's great-grandmother entered the story, I gained interest. Finally, there were some redeeming characters in the book who I did enjoy getting to know.

What follows is a slow awakening - both by Caelum as he comes to understand who he is and has some critical questions answered that help him understand why his life was the way it was - and by the reader, as we, alongside Caelum, learn of his interesting family history and witness his redemption manifested in forgiveness and love, even when unexpected.

Like the Quirk's corn maze on their family farm, there is a maze of characters in this story, each tied to the protagonist and many impacted by chance occurences. One of my favorites is the young substitute who just happens to be subbing for Caelum on the day the Columbine massacre occurs. He confesses to Caelum at a gas station - not knowing it was Caelum he had subbed for that day - that he is no longer frightened about becoming a father, and, in fact, will be a better one because of what he witnessed that day.

Beauty out of tragedy is a theme in this book. There are many unrighteous decisions or chance occurences that develop into positive action. The main character struggles throughout to process why things happen and later finds that the "how" is the critical part. How a character handles the "cards dealt" to them determines much of the unfolding plot. Caelum presents himself honestly to the reader which makes this book both uncomfortable to read and impossible to put down.

Many of the characters are asked to make peace with people who have wronged them - Caelum must forgive Maureen for her affair and make peace with himself for attacking her lover, jeopardizing his career and ultimately the chain of events that put Maureen in the Columbine library on April 20, 1999. Lizzie Popper raises, unsuccessfully, her husband's illegitimate child. Jesse Seaberry is both forgiving and forgiven, becoming the unlikely father of Caelum's "grandchild." Maureen's exit as an angel of mercy - even to a former insolent cellmate - reinforces the book's main point through yet another tragedy. Maureen is redeemed by her faith and good works even while she serves a prison sentence for murder.

I love the way the book weaves in a decade of recent history as well as mid-nineteenth century politics and Civil War. I appreciate the brute honesty in which it deals with the most common manifestations of misplaced hope - drugs, alcohol and sex.

In the midst of the book, the maze is confusing. The presence of all of the various characters, time periods and external circumstances is overwhelming and their purpose is questionable. But, like the aerial photograph hanging in the Quirk's living room, it all makes sense when viewed from above. Yes, it is complex. No, we can't understand all of it. But, Caelum is full of hope and belief in the end, and the reader is expectant that his redemption will be complete.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What on Earth are you living for?

A few years ago, I realized that I no longer had a relationship with God. I had spent a few years trying to live life my own way, sprinkling in some church services here and there, but it wasn't penetrating me. See, I grew up going to church three times a week, attended a Christian school and, unfortunately, had a few life circumstances that left me confused and misguided.

So, I tried it my own way. I didn't understand God and why life was the way it was. I, frankly, didn't agree with it. Why are we here? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why is life so hard?  Without understanding the source of my constant anxiety and depression, I invested a lot of time and energy trying to find fulfillment in other things. For instance, I spent some time volunteering as a political activist...maybe I could make a difference that way. That led to finishing my degree in Economics with the aim of becoming a government policy maker...maybe that's how I could fulfill my life's purpose. Certainly, it wasn't fulfilled in raising my son, or in being a part of a compassionate church family. I didn't fit those roles. I was too independent, too transient. I didn't need anyone. I, I, I. My life was centered on myself.

Over time, while re-reading the New Testament and other books and spending much time thinking, praying and meditating - What it came down to is that I didn't understand what love was. I didn't know that love was all about giving of yourself for others. I had known a lot about the Bible and had spent a lot of time in worship services, but I had missed the main point! God is love. He loves me. He calls people to love others. I had reacquainted myself with Christ and found I didn't ever really know Him in the first place.  I didn't understand the depth of His sacrifice; this ultimate expression of love.

Slowly, over time, God began unfolding a beautiful renewal for me and for my family. This renewal has replaced my anxiety and depression with peace and compassion. And I am infintely grateful.

Now I know my purpose - it may take many forms and may sometimes not work out, but I know that my purpose is to Love and Serve God and others.

I won't ever have all the philosophical answers I'd like to have. Even committed Christ-followers have moments of doubt and nagging, unanswered questions. That's why it requires Faith! I choose to believe because I believe who God is and in what He has done and still does for us. I choose to defer to God that things are the way they are for a reason. Who am I to question it? I have found great peace in surrendering this quest for answers.

God is beauty, truth, compassion, love. When I weigh these things on the balance scale against what a life without God has to offer, there's no comparison. God cannot be packaged up and sold on or added to Oprah's list of Favorite Things. It's's bigger and greater than anything we can imagine. That may be difficult for some to accept...that we can't know. That God has chosen not to reveal everything. Others believe there's nothing to reveal - this is all just a cosmic accident. What then is the purpose? Our emotions are just chemical reactions - there is really no such thing as absolute truth, love and beauty? I choose not to believe that.

All I have to do is go look at my children, read a story of someone's sacrifice for another, stand on a mountainside and look across a valley at sunrise, and hundreds of other life-inspiring things - there is God.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Be careful what you wish for

Sometimes I feel like nothing's going my way.....well, maybe it's not. But, MY way isn't the best way.

Say it again....MY way isn't the best way. That's tough to say!

But, I can say that because I've discovered that God has a plan for my life...the best plan.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:10

Sometimes we forget about this. We mistakenly think that we know what's best for us NOW and we want God to be an on-the-spot wish-granter.

As an example, read about Abram (Abraham) and Sarai (Sarah) beginning in Genesis 12. God had promised Abraham a son through which all nations would be blessed. But, they had no children. Sarah was old - around 90 - how could she have a child? So, she took matters into her own hands. Sarah convinced her husband to sleep with her maidservant and bear a child through her. This decision caused unbearable pain, jealousy, hatred and division in their household.

14 years later, God did grant Abraham and Sarah a child, Isaac, and fulfilled His promise:
"Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised." Genesis 21:1

- We make decisions in our lives based on what WE think is the right outcome and the right timing; the consequences can last for a lifetime and beyond.
- God will fulfill His plans in His way and in His own time; even when we think it's impossible
- God can bring us back to His plan, but it takes us on painful detours in life

I love what Francis Chan of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA says in his One Prayer message: "It's God's universe and God has His way of doing things. You may have a better way, but you don't have a universe."

God is powerful. There's so much peace when you surrender to Him. Avoid the painful detours and decide to follow His plan for your life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Share your UN-FAITH

It takes courage to admit that you haven't always had it together. When you share your faith with friends and strangers, don't leave out your Un-Faith. Don't hide the BEFORE of your "Before and After" story. People need to see the transformation. People need to know that your struggles without God in your life were just like theirs. Share your Un-Faith and why you left it behind utterly and completely for a life following Jesus Christ.

Tell them how selfish you were. How your most precious possession was your pride. How you kept working hard for worldly rewards like money and still felt empty. How your marriage was barely making it because you were both self-seeking above all else. How relationships with family and friends endured lies and hurtful, selfish acts and mistrust. How you were depressed and anxious about the future; how nothing felt real. How you felt ALONE.

People will recognize this, unfortunately. Something about it will be tragically familiar.

THEN, tell them how you couldn't live this life of Un-Faith anymore! Tell them how you gave your life to Christ and you seek to follow Him above all else. How your emptiness has been filled with a joy so un-superficial that you feel it in the deepest corners of your soul. How your most evil, vile and selfish acts of the past have been forgiven and washed clean. How your spirit is renewed each day in prayer with your Perfect Father. How you have found purpose in servanthood to others and contentment in His Perfect Love.

THEN tell them how they can have this life, too; Eternal Life by beginning a relationship with Jesus, by being baptized and joining the Body of people who have found unmatched peace in the same forgiveness, the same love.

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6

There is only ONE WAY.

It's a tough message for some and believing it means we can't always be tolerant, we can't COEXIST, we can't offer up political correctness and politeness as an excuse for not sharing our stories.

There is no greater story, no greater love, nothing more.

No one can deny the ultimate Beauty and Truth of this story, of the story of Jesus:
- God is our Creator, He loves us, He seeks relationship with us
- Jesus is His son, sent to earth to experience life, temptation, struggle and pain - He became one of us
- Jesus's sacrifice through his death frees us from our ugly, selfish sins
- The first two commandments asked of us are 1) to Love God and 2) to Love others
- If we're truly following those two commandments, nothing will be able to stop us from following this one:
"Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20

Read more: Matthew 10:32-33; I Timothy 6:10-12; Ephesians 2:1-10; Galatians 6:2I; Corinthians 16:13-14; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-4

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Review: The Shack

I recently read The Shack by William Paul Young. A lot of people are talking about this book right now - it's a "crossover" book - and I had to find out why! I do agree with the consensus that it is an exceptional book and is definitely worth reading. Instead of just saying, "It's amazing," I wanted to share why I feel that way about it:

The "shack" is a place that each of us have. It's where the darkest parts of our lives - past experiences, present struggles or future fears - reside.

Most of us like to pretend it's not there most of the time. And we don't tell ANYONE about it. But, God is there. He's everywhere. I knew that before I read The Shack, but this book gives that Presence a look and a feel that brings it to the surface. It's undeniable and it's powerful.

In The Shack, the main character, Mack, takes a literal visit to his personal Shack and gets to have a face-to-face conversation with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the flesh. It makes you think, "Wow...I wish I could have a face-to-face conversation with God!" Then, it hits you. You can. He's right there. Always.

And, He loves you!

The Love of God is the centerpiece of the book's message. The Shack, through sharing Mack's familar doubts, fears and anger, demonstrates the tangible peace that a relationship with God provides.

It's all about RELATIONSHIP. Not RELIGION and RITUALS. And you can start from anywhere...from right where you are.

Like a lot of readers, there are some parts of this book that made me squirm a little bit. But, this book deals with the most difficult and profound subjects possible. Subjects that every living human being has or will consider and that even the most learned scholars have debated for thousands of years. I commend the author for tackling this.

I think that the book will have the most impact for those who consider themselves "churched" yet discontent. They will read it and find the God they have been looking for all along. They knew He was there, but He was hidden behind all of the "stuff" we try to organize around Him. Then, reread the Bible, and see what you couldn't see before: "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

P-N-G - Where Jesus is the "sweet potato" of life

You mean you didn't know? PNG stands for Papua New Guinea. And the sweet potato? I'll get to that later.

Jay and I learned about "PNG" when we met Paul, Kelly and Piper Stewart. This cool little family was just one of many blessings that God put in our path over the past couple of years while we've lived in Charlotte.

Not long after we met Paul, Kelly and newborn Piper in February 2007, they told us about the journey they were about to embark on. They had been planning this for a long time. Kelly taught us another term "MK" - "Missionary Kid." I was a "PK", I guess. Kelly grew up as an MK, and this was the life she had chosen to lead for herself and her own family.

Paul and Kelly are amazing people. They faithfully accept "sacrifices" in their lives - like the latest and greatest of anything material - that most people wouldn't even consider. They have complete faith and trust in God that their needs will be met. It's not even a question - and they have many incredible stories demonstrating how God provides for them.

As of February 2007, they were finishing up lengthy preparation which included training, language study, personal financial management, fund-raising - and "pre-purchasing" everything their baby daughter, Piper, would need over the next two years! They lived in a small apartment in Waxhaw, NC, on the grounds of JAARS, a partner of Wycliffe.

Paul and Kelly are missionaries, but we learned something else from them...there are many ways to be a missionary and they don't all involve being a Bible scholar and preaching the Word in remote places (ex.: urban missionaries). Paul is a pilot! His mission is to transport said Bible scholars - and language, translation and support workers - to the remote areas they are working in.

And there are plenty of places to go! There are over 800 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea. 200 New Testaments have been completed and over 300 are currently in-progress. One key to effective translation is translating not only words, but meaning. To us, Jesus is the "bread of life," but in PNG, where bread is uncommon, Jesus is the "sweet potato of life."

You can read more about Paul and Kelly (and see pictures!) here:

They have one-time and monthly supporters and if you would like to get involved you can do so from their website.

Until they return to Charlotte on furlough, we miss you, Paul, Kelly, Piper and soon-to-be baby Stew #2! You are in our prayers. May God continue to bless you and the work you are doing!

(Source for facts about Papua New Guinea:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where will you be in 2025?

How much impact will what you do today have on people in 2025?

For the 128 hours per week that I'm NOT at work (and, thank God, I have a job now!) and, minus the 56 hours I'm sleeping, I have the remaining 72 hours to make an impact.

Strengthen my relationship with Jesus
Care for my Family
Nurture my Relationships
Reach out to Others

What about daily prayer? One way to make your prayer life more impactful is to pray for specifics. Beyond the "thank you for this food" prayer before dinner...beyond the last minute "help me ace this interview" prayer...PRAYER is a way you can reach out - next door or around the world - to ask God to grant his Power and Peace to others.

Wycliffe is an organization with a mission to "see Bible translation in progress for every people group that needs it by 2025." There are over 6000 languages...WOW...that's a big mission.

Wycliffe offers a really cool way to get involved - Bibleless Peoples Prayer Project. I signed up last week and today, I received a letter in the mail letting me know I am assigned to the Demta speakers in Indonesia. The letter includes information about the people group, their region, and the project. I can support this work by praying specifically for this group of people and the workers who will one day make their way to them. I will receive updates and one day will learn that they have received the Holy Bible in their own native language - their heart language.

Here's the link to the program:

Here's a partial list of world languages - there are thousands (although the number is shrinking):

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Improve your Image

Another borrowed post - this one from Planet Wisdom .

Kids are going back to school. At the beginning of the year, kids have an important choice to make...continue down the same path they were on or alter their image.

Kids can easily reinvent themselves and just chalk it up to some profound experience they had over the summer. Here is some guidance to help the kids you know improve their image:

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Proverbs 11:22

"Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion."

Nostril rings are somewhat fashionable these days - but I bet you haven't seen a really expensive one on a pig. In fact, I don't think I've seen any pierced pig nostrils. That would be a waste of a perfectly good (and pricey) gold ring - to stick it in the snout of an animal that burrows his nose in mud (and other disgusting things) all day long.

Solomon said it's that same kind of waste when a beautiful woman isn't discreet in her lifestyle.

Several gorgeous Hollywood stars come to mind. Their beauty is wasted by their sleazy behavior.

It must be tough to be a woman these days. Society demands so much of you gals: Have the perfect body. Show it off in the perfect way. Don't be too feminine. But don't be too masculine either. Find the perfect guy, then get him to fall for you.

It's hard to do all that and be discreet - or wise - in the way you live.

Solomon was saying that a woman can be a total babe - just the right height; not too fat or skinny; just the right sized . . . everything; cute little nose; pretty little feet - and it's all just wasted if she lives like the world, letting it all hang out and giving her affections away to any guy who will pay attention to her.

God also set high standards for women. But they're very different standards - ones that will make women beautiful from the inside out. He wants women to have "noble character" (Proverbs 12:4).

He wants them to worry more about having the right attitude toward God than having the right clothes and hair (1 Peter 3:3-4). He wants women to fear (or completely trust and obey) Him (Proverbs 31:30).

God said those kind of women will have a beauty that lasts a lifetime - and they won't waste their youthful, physical beauty on worthless, degrading relationships.

Ladies, enjoy your youthful beauty. But set your standards way higher than the ones you see on TV or at the mall. Ask God to help you want to please Him more than anything else in your life.

And guys, we need to set our standards higher too. Look to spend time and build relationships with the kind of women who are noble and show an inner beauty. Outward beauty is great - but don't waste your time with women who "show no discretion."

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised," (Proverbs 31:30).