My Soul Thirsts For You

go-out-and-love

When the Psalmist sings, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land…Because Your loving kindness is better than life.”…
…I think of the woman at the well, the shame of five failed marriages, an outcast in her own village, soul parched and empty, going back to tell them about this amazing Savior she had met, transformed by his gentleness and grace, declaring that His kindness is better than life.

When God speaks through the weeping prophet Jeremiah, “Come home to me again, for I am merciful.”…
…I think of the Prodigal son, ashamed of his past, hopeless in his present and fearful of his future, sitting at the banquet table that was set for his return, overwhelmed by his father’s unreasonable mercy.

When Jesus says, “I knock on the door of your heart, and if you open it, I will come in and have a meal with you.”…
…I think about Zaccheaus, insecure, empty, shallow, crooked, betrayer of his own people, sliding down the lookout tree as fast as he could, generosity springing forth out of his bones, going home to have dinner with the God of undeserved gifts.

When Solomon writes, “Come now my love, my lovely one, come.”…
…I think of the woman, ashamed of her past, tears in her eyes, anointing the feet of the one who did not judge her.
And while the religious voyeurs are scoffing and condemning, hearts of stone, the son of man, looks deep in her eyes, and for the first time, there is a man who does not want to take something from her but wants to give her everlasting worth.

When the prophet Jeremiah declares, “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast.”…
…I think of 10 men, full of sores, untouchable, being touched by Emanuel, God with us, no longer exiled, future renewed, dignity restored. Strangely, only one comes back to thank him.

When I read in St. Matthew that, “he healed every kind of disease and illness.”…
…I think of the woman, twelve years searching, bleeding from childbirth, finding no answers, fighting the crowd, ignoring the rebukes, stretching as far as she could to touch the remnant of her healer, and with one last chance, she feels his spirit flow through and her body is whole.

When we are taught to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”…
…I think of that same gentleness and grace, that same unreasonable mercy, those same undeserved gifts, that same everlasting worth and that same healing power that is available to every broken, rebellious, wayward, ailing, greedy, lust filled, wronged and mistreated person today.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

When I think about who we have given our life to, the only thing I can say is, “Go out and love someone.”

The Power of a Letter

Esther

Esther

Marcos

Marcos

Angie

Angie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esther and Marcos work at the Compassion Office in Lima, Peru. They help process letters between sponsors and sponsor children. They were both sponsor children themselves.

Angie lives in Ica, Peru. She has just recently been sponsored.

I wrote this poem after meeting them.

The three of them taught me about the power of a letter.

Compassion published this on their website on April 8th under their blog section.  http://www.compassion.com/

The Power of a Letter

Esther grew up poor in the country of Peru
She wanted to dream but didn’t know how to
Her stomach often empty, holes in her shoes
Poverty doesn’t ask, it’s not something you choose

Marcos had a mother, she did the best she could do
Life was hard, his belly hungry, in the sands of Peru
He longed for a father, he longed for a dad
He grew into adolescence, he grew into sad

Angie’s sister was sick, her 4 siblings prayed
Their face full of tears, while at church they played
Momma held her tight, through the Peruvian night
But her sister grew weak, and gave up the fight

Esther found hope, she found God’s love redeems
She found a church that cared, they told her to dream
They gave her food that filled, and shoes that were whole
She discovered new skills, new purpose, a new soul

Marcos learned to read, to write and to finally understand
That he had another Father, who loved him and had a plan
The church taught him, fed him, quickly growing tall
But he still struggled and wondered the meaning of it all

Angie hugs her momma, she squeezes out the grief
She tells her sis is in heaven, it’s the core of her belief
Her dry mouth is thirsty, water comes once a week
She’s thankful for the church, it delivers her relief

Esther has a new friend, a sponsor from another land
They say they really love her, yet letters they never send
Everyone else seems to get one, a new one every day
She sits, watches and wonders, will one ever come my way

Marcos brain is spinning, he’s wondering if life’s worth living
He doesn’t know where to go, is another day worth giving
But his new friends who sponsor, who write him quite often
Remind him of some wisdom, and his heart begins to soften

Angie’s roof is leaking, it’s made of straw and hay
But her smile is a sign that she’ll make it one more day
Her house is very fragile, but she is standing strong
Around the world a sponsor is telling her she’s not wrong

Esther grew into a woman, with great faith and passion
She grew as a leader, it’s what was taught by Compassion
She struggled not knowing her sponsor’s opinions
So she made a vow it wouldn’t happen to other children

Marcos read the letters, memorizing his sponsor’s scriptures
It brought healing to his mind, and to life a clearer picture
He now makes sure that children receive the same gift
By processing words that give them an affirmative lift

Angie is still young, she will have a sponsor for years
But she is still yet to get that first letter, so she fears
Will she be like Esther, waiting day after day after day
Or will it be like Marcos, receiving words that will light her way

The good news is Jesus lives in Esther, Marcos and Angie’s heart
Their sponsors gave willingly and it played a huge part
But don’t underestimate the power that a simple letter can make
God’s wisdom does not return void, it’s a gift you can’t forsake

So if you sponsor a beautiful child made by God’s own hands
Write a letter today and tell them about God’s amazing plans
Write them a scripture, one they will surely memorize
Maybe it’s Jeremiah 29:11, God’s promise they will thrive

Give an Honest Assessment of Yourself

strengths-photo

When we are honest about our strengths, there is a freedom to be fully who we are and we don’t have to pretend to be something we are not.

I see people struggling, frustrated, not advancing in their lives while their real strengths are being underutilized.

I see bosses struggling, frustrated and constantly challenging those that they lead to get better at their responsibilities, yet the real underlying issue is that those they are leading are not operating in their strengths.

Simply put, too many times we are trying to put square pegs in round holes.

Why do we do this?

Why do so many live in frustration and underachievement?

There are a few reasons.

Sometimes it is because we need a paycheck.

I may not be operating in my strengths and I may be frustrated but I have to pay the bills.

I understand this, but this should not be a long term strategy. To spend your whole life doing something that you are not wired up to do with excellence just to pay the bills is sad, and it hurts you and the people around you.

Another reason is we don’t want to admit we are not operating in our strengths.

The Apostle Paul says in the 12th chapter of Romans, “Give an honest assessment of yourself.” This isn’t always easy to do but this is the start of real progress.

When you are honest about your strengths, there is a freedom to be fully who you are and you don’t have to pretend to be something you are not.

Another reason we may continue to operate in our weaknesses rather than our strengths is because the people around us will not address the issue.

They may continue to pound and pound and pound the square peg into the round hole.

The result of this is usually frustration on all sides.

There is one more reason we continue to operate in our weak areas and not our strengths is because we don’t know what our strengths are.

These are a few ways to find out.

One, ask yourself what things energize you? What things do you think about constantly? What things come easily to you? What things fire you up?

Donald O. Clifton, co-author of “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” writes “But if you find yourself thinking in the future, if you find yourself actually anticipating the activity-‘When can I do this again?’-it is a pretty good sign that you are enjoying it and that one of your talents is in play.”

From a very early age, I liked to talk. I liked the feeling of getting up in front of a lot of people and sharing my feelings. I love the feeling of being able to motivate people towards a greater cause.

I think about it a lot. I am energized by it. It’s a strength that I have leaned into and taken responsibility for.

I am blessed to have a life where I can use this strength often.

I have had jobs where I was making very good money, but was operating nowhere near my strengths. I was not a very productive employee and I was drained and miserable.

Two, ask your supervisor, co-workers and friends to give you an honest assessment at what they think your strengths are. Listen to them and don’t get defensive.

Three, read “Now, Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.

This book has helped me immensely. It will show you what your top 5 strengths are and how to lean into them.

When you have done these three things, then do what the Apostle Paul told you to do and give an honest assessment of yourself.

Do your strengths line up with your job description and expectations?

Do your strengths line up with what you do most during the day?

Do your strengths line up with your future goals to change the world?

If yes, then embrace your strengths, lean into them, and manage your weaknesses.

As Marcus Buckingham writes, “Each person’s talents are enduring and unique and each person’s greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.”

If not, change your job. Change your activities. Change your life.

It’s not fair to you if you don’t.

It’s not fair to those around you if you don’t.

The world needs your strengths.

To invest in your strengths and to be honest about your weaknesses is a key sign you are moving from childhood to maturity.

Marcus Buckingham declares, “If nature didn’t whittle down your network to a smaller number of strongly forged connections, you would never become an adult. You would remain a permanent child, frozen in sensory overload.”

The Day After

day-after-easter

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder what is going to happen?

This weekend thousands of churches put on their best show, with worship leaders showcasing their finest music and pastor’s doing their best to wax eloquently.

Lots of time, energy and resources were put into these services to make them the best they could be.

Many of the services came off in a spectacular way, but sadly, these kinds of services do not happen the rest of year.

This weekend hundreds of millions of people around the world went to church in light of the tradition of Easter.

Most people who would consider themselves Christians or believers of God made it a point to find a church and take time to hear and be reminded about the ramifications of the resurrection.

Many people, I am sure, enjoyed the music and were moved by the message, but sadly, they will probably not return next week, or the week after that, or the week after that.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if the churches that took so much time and energy to present the Easter message in a spectacular way are working just as hard on this next weeks music and message.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if church leaders know that their will be broken, hurting people showing up to their church this week who didn’t make it to church last week who need excellent moving music and a passionate, deeply thought out message.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if church leaders realize that their will be some people returning this week after being moved and encouraged by last’s weeks Easter service.

I wonder what they will experience?

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if the people who attended and were motivated by the Easter service will take the time to come back and learn more about God’s grace.

It’s the day after Easter and I wonder if that motivation will lead to different behavior?

Will they choose Grace over the prison of legalism?

Will they choose to forgive rather than remain in the dark room of bitterness?

Will they choose to serve others and turn away from the emptiness and dissatisfaction of consumerism?

Will they choose to work on their vices or will they fall back into destructive patterns that tear away at relationships?

Will they choose to be less fearful or will they play it safe, running as quickly as they can back to their comfort zone?

Will they choose to allow their heart to be broken for the poor or will they guard their heart, staying distracted by the busyness of their culture.

Will they choose to save an extra $1 or so a day and sponsor a child thus introducing them to their savior Jesus, removing them from extreme poverty, saving them from fatal diseases and protecting them from the horrors of child slavery or will they buy things they don’t really need to impressive people they don’t really like?

Will they choose to make a new habit of coming weekly to church to learn new things, to make new friends and to grow new strength that can only happen by worshipping together?

It’s the day after Easter and people must decide do they really believe that God so loved the world that he sent Jesus do die for their sins and whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

The word “believe” that Jesus used is the Greek word “pisteuo” which means, “to trust in, to cling to, to rely on, to commit to.”

Over 80% of Americans believe intellectually about what Jesus did and said.

But Jesus says, to believe means to trust him with your life, and to rely on his Grace and to commit to his ways.

It’s the day after Easter and people must decide if they really believe(pisteuo).

It’s the day after Easter and these are my questions.

It’s the day after Easter and this is where the real work begins.