Kenya Recap

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you  that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

~ Romans 1:11-12

 

 

What a trip Kenya was, I am still trying to process through everything that we saw the Lord do and all that we experiences. This is a trip that I can say I returned with a full heart and greatly encouraged by the work that is going on in Kenya, specifically through the ministry of SIM and Sports Friends.

Trip Recap:

We traveled to Kijabe, Kenya for purpose of connecting with missionaries from our church to assist them in the running of a sports camp for Special Needs children in the area. However, this camp was so much more than simply playing sports with some children for a few days. As we arrived at Camp Wendo (think Baptist encampment in the States) we quickly learned that many believed that this would be the first camp for children with special needs ever put on in Kenya, you see many see disabilities as a curse in their culture. Those born with disabilities in Kenya are often ignored, marginalized, or treated even worse.

This camp consisted of two parts: 1) Connect with the Children and 2) Connect with their families. To show the children they are seen, known and loved by God; as well as help the families know they are not alone, but are also seen, known and loved by God.

Connect with Children

These children, were so precious. The camp was set up for ultimate attention to the children, each camper had one American coach and one Kenyan coach assigned to them. It was then our joy to love on them and serve them for three days. Through eating breakfast, lunch and dinner with them; accompanying them to chapel, and playing many different activities with them. For some this meant kicking of a ball for hours on end, and for some this meant sitting in the sun allowing the child to feel the warmth of then sun. The three days were draining and filling all at the same time; physically tiring as some campers had to be carried everywhere, and spiritually filling as we were blessed with the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ in this campers life.

Connect with Families

Many of these families have been living in isolation for many years. All of these families were from the same area and yet did not know each other. While our team was loving on and playing with the children, the local staff with SIM was loving on the families through a workshop for them.  Answering questions such as, “Are there people with disabilities in America? or just Kenya?” And hearing comments like, “I thought we were the only ones with a child with a disability, I had no idea there were others!”

It’s hard to put into words the apparent impact of this camp, we heard one mom testify that at the end of the camp she now saw her son as a blessing, no one had ever told her that before, and she had never seen it.

Takeaways:

  1. Importance of Community – These families had no idea there were others in the world and even in their neighborhoods that were in the same situations as them. Until we are willing to be venerable and let others into our lives we will face many circumstances feeling alone. Walking in community reminds us we aren’t alone, and we aren’t the only ones, facing whichever circumstance we find ourselves in.
  2. Freeing of the Gospel – It’s the Gospel that sets us free and allows us to serve out of this freedom. As the truth of the Gospel was revealed to these families, burdens that had been carried for years were lifted. The Gospel frees you to step outside your comfort zone to love on those who don’t speak your language, look like you, or can ever repay you.
  3. Global Work of God – We serve a Global God who is doing a Global work all around the world. This week in Kenya reminded me that He is doing a work of drawing people to Himself of every tribe, nation and tongue. He allows us to play a part in this process, though we aren’t needed.
  4. Encouragement of the Saints – There is a strengthening of souls that occurs as saints labor alongside one another for the sake of the Gospel. Both our missionaries and the team I was blessed to serve alongside displayed not only to the campers and their families but also to me, Jesus. Watching their actions helped me see Jesus more clearly and love Him more.
  5. People are People – Despite language barriers, culture difference, abilities or disabilities, people are people. Precious image bearers of God who are seen, loved and known by Him. A smile, a hug, attention to them goes a long way to connecting with them and pointing them to Christ. This takes effort, comes easily on a mission trip, but it is imperative that we practice this in our lives daily with those we do life around.

I could go on and on about this trip, I don’t have time to go into all that I learned from being around Shane, Allyson, Shaun, Abby, Stephanie, Sheri, Greg, Cambi and others. The Lord is doing some amazing things in Kenya, I’m thankful for the opportunity to see a part of it.

One final thought, let us not neglect to remember those whom have gone from us for the work of the Gospel around the globe. Remember to pray for them, reach out to them, remind them we are all in this together, that they are not alone. It’s the people of God, doing to the work of God for the Glory of God!


“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”

– John Stott


 

Learning to Lament

 

“A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance”

~ Ecclesiastes 3:4

 

 

There are commands in the Bible such as Philippians 4:4, commanding us as believers to “rejoice in the Lord always,”and in case we missed it the first time Paul adds an echo, “again I will say, rejoice.” Yet, there are also commands such as Romans 12:15, to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

Here is the unique collision, to rejoice and to weep, when needed. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that there are seasons for both. How do we do this well? When we need to weep and long to weep how do we weep/ mourn well? We lament.

In a recent article on Desiring God, lament was described as:

Lament is God’s people desperately crying in faith to their Lord until God shows himself to be the faithful one he has promised to be.

Webster dictionary defines lament as:

to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively

We see examples of a holy lament throughout the Bible, there is a whole book dedicated to this theme, the book of Lamentations. Also throughout the Psalms we see example after example of lamenting before the Lord. Psalms such as 142, where we see David crying out to the Lord as he is hiding in a cave. To lament is to be honest before the Lord with where you are, how you are hurting, how you are struggling to see Him rightly. To lament rightly is to in a holy manner weep before the Lord.

In an article for the ERLC (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), looking at Psalm 142 they list out four points in learning to lament:

  1. Turn to God
  2. Cry for Help
  3. Speak the Truth
  4. Trust the Lord

I have learned that in lamenting I must:

  • Be Honest with Myself: I must admit, I don’t like this step, perhaps because I am a dude and we don’t like trying to figure out our hearts. However, in order to lament rightly I must look into my heart, be honest with myself, with how I am feeling and deal/ wrestle with it not suppress it.
  • Be Honest with the Lord:Once we are honest with ourselves we can then be honest before the Lord. Lets be honest, He already knows, how we are feeling, He knows how we are wrestling, He knows our concerns and hurts more than we know. So tell Him all of it. He is big enough to handle it. If you are frustrated, tell Him. If you are hurting tell Him. He already knows!
  • Focus on the Lord:The point of lamenting rightly is to pour out our hearts before the Lord. In focusing on Him, we are turning to the One who already knows what we are going through and to the One alone who is able to hear and answer. Who alone is able to heal the hurting, answer the searching, and restore the broken.
  • Remember Who He is: Once we have set our focus on the Lord it is then that we begin to remember who He is. That He is good and does good (Romans 8:28); that when we cast all our burdens on Him for He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22), that it is He alone who satisfies the longing soul (Psalm 107:9), that we can wait on Him and trust on Him for He is our refuge (Psalm 62:8), that when we wait on the Lord it is He who restores our strength (Isaiah 40:31), and that it is the Lord who helps us, strengthens us and upholds us (Isaiah 41:10).

Lamenting rightly reestablishes my trust in the Lord, taking my eyes off self and placing them onto Him who is able to do abundantly more than I could ever ask (Ephesians 3:20). It is here that I am able to begin to rejoice again in the Lord, no matter my circumstances.


Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart.

~ Ann Voskamp

Come to the Throne of Grace

I recently picked up again  The Power of Prayer in a Beleiver’s Life by Charles Spurgeon, it is a top three read all time for me. This morning I was reminded of the hope we have in prayer, that we  do not approach a Priest that is unable to sympathize with us; He sees us, He hears use and He knows what we are experiencing. On this Spurgeon writes:

And so, all the petitioners miseries shall be compassionated. When I come to the throne of Grace with the burden of my sins, there is One on the throne who felt the burden of sin in ages long gone by and has not forgotten its weight. When I come loaded with sorrow there is One there who knows all the sorrows to which humanity can be subjected. Am I distressed? Do I fear that God has forsaken me? There is One upon the throne who said, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). It is a throne from which grace delights to look upon the miseries of mankind with a tender eye – to consider them and to relieve them. Come, then, you who are not only poor but also wretched, whose miseries make you long for death, and yet you dread it. You captive ones, come in your chains; you slaves, come with the irons upon your souls; you who sit in darkness, come forth all blindfolded as you are. The throne of Grace will look on you if you cannot look on it and will give to you, though you have nothing to give in return, and will deliver you, though you cannot raise a finger to deliver yourself.”

To the wanderer, the weary, the heavy-hearted the call this morning from the Throne of Grace is to come; as you are in your mess, in your hurt, in your despair and there you will find grace upon grace.

 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need ~ Hebrews 4:16


Quote taken from  The Power of Prayer in a Beleiver’s Life by Charles Spurgeon, Chapter One, page 24.

Appearing Full, Yet Empty

FullSizeRender-3For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

~ Jeremiah 2:13


Earlier this week I read Wright Thompson’s piece on Tiger Woods entitled The Secret History of Tiger Woods” and found it a spectacular read, as Wright is extremely good at what he does, but also found it tragic and sad. Much like Wright’s piece on Michael Jordan last year,Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building” we are reminded that fame and fortune doesn’t satisfy. In both instances Wright peels back layers into the lives of seemingly two of the greatest athletes of all time and what we see is men on top of the world, in the worlds eyes, lost and lonely and searching for more. Looking for something else that will satisfy, looking for somehow to recapture the glory they once had, and something that will scratch their competitive itch. Much like the now famous Tom Brady interview on 60 Minutes, where he declares “there has to be more than this;” after he had won three super bowls, signed a $60 million dollar contract and married the top supermodel in the world, we are reminded that things of this world will never fully satisfy. As Christians we remember:

  1. Life is Only Found in Christ (John 10:10) That all longings and pursuits outside of Christ will only lead us empty.
  2. Treasures on Earth Will Fade (Matthew 6:19-21) But that there are treasures to pursue and store up that will never fade or be destroyed.
  3. We Were Made For Eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11) The longing in our hearts and lives are meant to remind us that this is not our home, we were meant for another place.

Augustine said it best when he declared:

 “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Looking into he lives of todays heroes we are reminded that no amount of money, sex, power or fame will every satisfy. There is One who will satisfy and we were made for Him!


Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.”

~ King Solomon


On the Horizon

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Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

~ Revelation 21:1

 

 

 

Almost three years ago I moved to the Big-D, Dallas, Texas and have fallen in love with this city. It has become my home, not just the place I currently live, but home. It’s here, Dallas,  where my community is, the place I work, and the place I long to see the Lord move and do a great work.  Anytime I travel away from the city there is always a healthy-longing to be back home, with my family, friends and my church. This is what home does for us, when we are present it reminds us that we are where we are supposed to be and when we are absent it reminds us that we are not where we meant to be. Anytime I am traveling back to Dallas and get about twenty minutes out, I see it, the Dallas skyline, reminding me that I am almost there, that home is near, and my travels haven’t been in vain.

This past weekend as I made a quick weekend trip away for ministry on the way back I saw the Dallas Skyline and was reminded that this is not our home. There is another City, a Heavenly one, awaiting us. One that we should long for and be looking for. As we look around here on earth, we should be reminded that this is not our home. Our Home is on the horizon and when we see it we will know that we have not traveled in vain. Home is near lets us not forget Paul’s reminder:

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. ~ Philippians 3:20-21 

This is not our Home, our Home is awaiting, let us not travel this life in vain. At the end of our days may we be able to say with the Apostle Paul:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ~ 2 Timothy 4:7 

The longing in us as we look around is to remind us that this is not our home, but our Home is coming. Look out to the Horizon.


“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.”

~ Jonathan Edwards 


2015, Production of Hope

FullSizeRenderNot only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

~ Romans 5:3-5

2015, what a ride. To say that it was a roller coaster would be an understatement; this year had many highs and many lows, and an ever-present constant:

The Lord is Faithful. Loving. Present.

2105 was one of the hardest years of my life and yet because of the Lord’s faithfulness, one which I grew the most and thus it became one of my best years of my life. This year was one which brought suffering, that turned into endurance, that ultimately produced hope, and the Lord was at work in every aspect of it, even lovingly working before hand to prepare me when I had no idea what was coming.

Last December, I was privileged to preach at a church back in my hometown, and the main passage of the message was Hebrews 11:8-16; looking at how Abraham and Sarah never returned to where the Lord called them from because their eyes were focused on where the Lord was calling them to. Application being the truth that we too have been called to a promise land, that this is not our home and there is coming a day when we as believers will be with the Lord for all eternity. So whether 2105 is the best or worst year of your life, there is coming a day when it will be better and we will be with Him.

Little did I know, but the Lord was driving that deep into my heart as I studied and as I preached, lovingly preparing me for 2015. Three weeks after delivering this message, I was let go from my job, and it was stressful but honestly I thought I would find a job quickly. You see, I have a good resume, I have good work experience, and a good education while living in Dallas that has thousands of job openings all over DFW (all would prove to be misplaced hopes). But the Lord had other plans, for five and half months I applied and applied and applied all over the metroplex. For jobs I was qualified for, for jobs I was over qualified for, and jobs I was under qualified for, with no results. For five and a half months I wondered what the Lord was doing, wondered where He was.

He was there lovingly performing surgery. In His love He was removing all misplaced hopes in my life with the only Hope that will never fail us, Himself. For five and a half months He provided over and over for me. For five and half months He reminded me that He had called me to Dallas, and that yes life was currently hard but I was right where He wanted me.


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

~ Lamentations 3:22-23


2015 brought many lows:

  • Unemployed for five and a half months
  • Lost two Grandparents
  • Sickness hit the family

And many highs:

  • Saw a sister whom we have prayed and prayed for come to know the Lord as her Savior.
  • Saw the Lord prove faithful over and over
  • The Lord blessed me with many ministry opportunities to be used by Him.

And He has given me Hope, hope that doesn’t put us to shame, because hope in Him never fails. We misplace a lot of our hopes:

  • in a spouse
  • in health
  • in a job
  • a new home, car, etc.

But only hope in Christ can sustain us when the world is crashing down around us. All misplaced hopes can fail us, but there is one hope that never will, and that hope is Christ.


The hope of the righteous brings joy,

~ Proverbs 10:28


In 2015, the Lord lovingly brought me to a place when I could lay face down on the floor and honestly proclaim, “Lord I don’t know what You are doing, but I trust You.” And that is so freeing, and a gift that makes 2015 a great year.