Thursday, May 29, 2008


I have been thinking about how easy it can be to become deceived. Although there are many forms of deception, what I am thinking about is deceiving ourselves. James tells us to “be doers of the word, and not only hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22) It is also important to understand that we need to do what God has uniquely called us to do. I have been thinking about this from a personal context and so I will explain what I mean and then some of the things I am learning.

I had someone who has been a pretty decent influence on my life tell me that he did not believe Sudan was a “calling” in my life, but only a “passion”. At first I was quite hurt by what he said. I could not understand how someone who has known me for several years could just make such a flippant comment. I wanted to justify myself and make sure that he knew what I believe God has called me to do in Sudan etc. The problem with this was several fold.

1. I became more focused on letting this guys words control me, than living out what God had already told me to do.

2. I had put such a weight in what this guy said that I started to let his words misdirect my focus (i.e. trying to justify myself instead of just living out what God has told me to do and let my actions speak). Therefore, instead of doing what God wanted me to do because I believe God told me, I started to think about doing stuff in order to prove myself (i.e. this is a huge form of self deception).

3. The deception that “doing the word” was good enough to prove I was “called” became part of my focus. I am not saying that we should not be “doers of the word”, but we must have proper information and focus behind what we are doing.

4. Ultimately, the guy is wrong. This is not necessarily bad to think, but the challenge is to not hold any grudges. For me this is a daily battle. Sometimes it can be easy to default into this thinking, yet this would be another form of letting his words control me in an adverse way.

You will almost always have people who try to detract you in your life. Sometimes they are speaking up for a good reason. Other times people just do not think about what they say. Yet, other times people just try to extinguish something in you. We must be people who live so near to God, that even in the face of detracting words we are able to use these comments as an encouragement to hear the voice of God again. This is not just some “fluff thinking”. This is how we begin to live out the life of being “more than a conqueror” (Rom. 8). We must strive to hear God at all times so that we do not deceive ourselves into acting or thinking in a way that is contrary to what God is telling us. I pray we do not become people who are deceived by others or ourselves. I also pray that we would be people who are so discerning that when people are warning us for good, we will listen.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Progressive Pessimists

I have been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is to be a pessimist.  What I mean by this is the focus of only seeing problems and deconstructing what other people are doing, while not offering a viable alternative.  The reason why I titled this entry as "Progressive Pessimists" is because it seems that many people are consumed with thinking that they should be taken seriously, while only offering negativity.  They get a following of people who think the leader is brilliant, but the main thing that is sustainable is indicting problems as a lifestyle.

The problem is that if we become people who do not offer a better way then it only leads to perpetual negativity.  I do believe that it is important to talk through issues and be open to changing our opinion if it is wrong, but we must be people who do this in a gracious manner because a better way is being offered.  

I was just having a conversation with a guy a couple of weeks ago who brought up some good points on areas that Christians need to answer better, but the problem was that he wasn't even concerned about offering a way to give an answer.  I understand that sometimes we need to have conversations in order to get our ideas out (even if it is only to see if we really believe what is being said), but the issue comes when we do not have the focus of searching out for answers.  I think this is a type of laziness that we must all be very careful with.  We must be people who humbly ask others who are only concerned with problems, "So, what would be a better alternative?  What would be your suggestions as to how we can help to change the opinions of people?  Can we try to search out answers for an alternative view together?"

I am saying all of this so that we start discussing how to give humble answers to the problems we see.  I say this so that we can all be warned so that we do not try to get people to follow pessimism instead of optimism (By the way, I think that an optimistic person is someone who is able to see a problem and also give an alternative view that would make the situation or thinking better.  He/She is not someone who "lives in the clouds" as if nothing is wrong, but instead he/she is not just controlled by negativity).  I say this so that we can be people who testify to the great words of Ps. 84.  This would mean that we would people who go from strength to strength.  When we come on the Valley of "Baca" (that is the word used in Ps. 84.  It means "troubles") we will be people who still have proper reason to have an optimistic hope.  We will be people who look in the face of problems and not ignore them, but search out answers.

I hope and pray you have a great week.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Secondary Schools

Hey Everyone,
We are trying to raise some funds for the secondary school that we are building in Southern Sudan. I have posted some pictures of what the school buildings will look like. Bishop (our head guy on the ground) needs to get $20,000 asap in order to procure some materials before the rainy season.If you, your church/organization, or anyone you know would be interested in giving to this project, please contact us at or visit the PARTNER page of our website for details on how to give.

Love Truth
Jn. 17:3

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Learning to Appreciate

Titus and I just got done going on two hikes in the last three days! It has been an amazing time to spend with him. Being in school full time and running His Voice has made times like this to be not as many as I would like, but nonetheless a blast when we get them. On the first hike, Titus walked for over 2 miles without me carrying him! Here are a few quotes from our times out:

1. "Daddy, did you know that you are special? Did you know that mommy is special? Did you know that I am special? It is because God loves us."

2. "Daddy, I love you."

3. "Daddy, you are my best friend."

4. "Daddy, why do turtles pee so much when you pick them up?!?!" (This was his response after we moved the turtle out of the middle of the road so that it would not get run over.)

Titus also told Amber this week that he did not need to hold her hand anymore because he was getting big. She responded by saying that sometimes we hold hands just to show the person we love them. His next response was, "Huh. Mommy, I am growing up. I am growing up."

The Lord used this response to challenge me with never trying to "grow up" to a point where I quit showing affection. I must admit that I have not been the best in showing Amber affection, but I do know that I want to get better at this. She is amazing! I pray that you will never be shy in showing your love for people. Live in such a way that you seek every opportunity to show people "Infinite Love".

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The "There" is a "Him"

I have been thinking a lot lately about how much heartache occurs from having a wrong focus.  So many times it is simple to say that God is the focus, but what does that mean?  Why is it that so many times the living out of Christianity becomes a search for an abstract place, instead of Him?

I think it comes out many times when people use the language of, "I am not where I want to be" or "I just wish I could be further down the road".  I am not saying that this language is always wrong, but if the end is not to be closer in relationship with God then the pursuit becomes vain quite quickly.  I have noticed from self evaluation and talking with a couple of people lately that when you ask, "Where do you want to be?"  the normal response is "I am not sure.  I just want to be further along".  The point I am trying to make is when relationship with God is not seen as preeminent then all other pursuits tend to legalism.  Even when someone says they want "to spread the glory of God", if they do not ultimately mean relationship with God they become like a functional Muslim.

A Christian who is like a functional Muslim is one who tries to apply God to every situation, but it does not lead to relationship with God, it only leads to some type of outward manifestation (that may look good), but ultimately the person uses God for a personally preferred outcome.  After all, one of the biggest problems with a Muslims view of Paradise is that it ultimately only uses God to get into Paradise and thus shows that Paradise is more important than God.  This root problem of being a "functional Muslim" is manifested when Christians look at the focus of life as mainly being a "place to get", instead of the focus of life mainly being about relationship, first and foremost, with God and then with others.  

Some of the Scriptures I have been meditating on that have helped to shape the focus of relationship as preeminent are Jer. 9:23-24, John 17:3, 2 Pet. 1:3-4, Phil. 3-4.

The "There" is a "Him".  When we see Him as our focus this does not necessarily change an outward circumstance, but it gives us hope in all circumstances, whether good or bad.  This is part of Paul's boast in Phil. 4.  He was a person who did not make a god out of suffering or good times because he understood that good times or suffering was not the main point.  This allowed Him to focus on Christ in all things and take the times of suffering ALONG WITH the times of good.