Saturday, September 27, 2008

to be with us


I have been learning so much about how God wants to be with us in who we are as we are. He will sometimes change our circumstances, but He longs so much more for us to know and believe and trust that He wants to be with us completely in who we are, how we are, as we are. He wants to be with us in our fear, our brokenness, our addictions, our joy, our laughter, our dancing, our singing. He wants to be with us. We are loved as we are, in our anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, helplessness, etc. And it is God who is strong when we are weak, and this doesn't mean that He makes us feel strong necessarily.

He may not take our struggles away, but what is it we really want? Yes, we want someone to sweep in and get rid of our struggles, insecurities, mistakes, and take care of our problems but even more so don't we want someone to tell us we are loved as we are and to be with us in our weakness? His strength in our weakness means that He does not change. Our worrying, fears, hiding, mistakes, hate...won't cause Him to worry. His love is firm, strong,'s staying. He will wait, He will be, He will love because that is who He is.

Like most times when God is really drawing me to Himself in powerful ways I have also been attacked hard at one point. The evil one has been noticing God's work in me lately and has been trying to destroy what God is doing as quickly as he can. I can say that last week I had the worst week I've had since I've been at OMS International. It's hard to face these things while living alone. I have felt very weak and have needed people.

God will help us grow, but He will not fix everything. What we need is not to have all the struggles swept away, but to be able to allow ourselves to rest in Him in our struggles (instead of focusing on them and letting them overwhelm us, which I admit is impossible for me to do sometimes without the help of others). Our struggles (or as 1 Peter puts it, our trials and James, our tests) strengthen and teach us. They prove and strengthen our faith, though the pain is unbearable sometimes.

I can stop seeking Jesus when it gets hard and still have joy without him (and I have done this in my actions). But without him my joy will never be complete, which has been proven to me over and over again.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Moving to Contentment - 3

What is true blessing? I think many people within the consumerist mindset skew blessing.

I believe it is the gift of not needing to find our identity in looking better or having better things rather than receiving a raise on our job.

I believe it is the freedom from feeling you need more money, food, friends...freedom from fear that Jesus is leading you in a direction that seems “downhill” or on a thinner, less walked, harder road rather than the fact that there was a sale today and you saved a few bucks (when you, like me, might already have a ton more than most of the rest of the population in the world).

I believe it is the freedom to doing the simple, “little” things like knowing, loving, and serving people in their brokenness rather than...I think you get the idea.

Our focus should not be on “the things of the world,” but on confidence and contentment with God and what His kingdom brings.

Paul considered everything (a good name, stable income, respect, being accepted by the culture or religious system...) as loss compared to knowing Christ.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

May They Be One - 2

Jesus' final prayer was that believers would be “one”.

So I ask “How do we as people separate ourselves from each other? Do we help the weak, the struggling...with our being, not just our money/resources? Do we let charity keep us feeling good and at a distance?

Do we live in the pattern of this world (worried about what we have/don't have, who knows us and how, if people like us, if we look good...) or are we transformed by the renewing of our mind (truly seeking first the kingdom of God (rather than our own) and trusting that what we need will be provided (Matthew 6:25-34) – and I don't think what we need necessarily means a nice house, nice clothes, safe neighborhood...what some might call the "American dream"). Who is missing love? Who is missing food? Who is being pushed under the rug by society?

I ask and hear Jesus asking me, "If you're holding on, are you willing to let go?"

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Disturbing the Religious Side of Society - 1

these thoughts have been rolling in my mind for some time. this past sunday they distracted me during the sermon, so i roughly scratched them onto a few pieces of's the beginning...

I used to write "seeking to be His hands and feet" at the end of e-mails I sent people ("His" referring to Jesus). Now I write "learning to be His hands and feet" because I started to actually think about Jesus' hands and feet, where they walked, what they did, what they were willing to do. I started to think about how he lived and what he said, and how he said it to whoever he said it to. I am learning this because while I have the knowledge, it means nothing if I don't live currently God is beginning to teach me what it means to live it, and it is a hard lesson.

So I asked myself "how did Jesus live? " I came to the conclusion that he befriended the outcasts. He loved and defended people who most in society didn't love or defend (and so i ask "who might that be in my or your neighborhood, town, city..."). He touched the "untouchables".

He spoke truth, the honest truth, which disturbed the society he was raised in, especially the overpowering religious part of the society. This makes me wonder what he would say (or have me or maybe even you say) about or to the religious part of our society today...which I can't write without also saying that I think we need to be careful we don't carry our own agenda with our words.

sidenote: You and I need to express Jesus' message, which he spoke with the help of the Father, not our own. And people need honesty, not hate. And even if you do have things to say, you need to consider that there is a time to speak and a time to listen (James 1:19), a time to do something and a time to wait. We need to seek the Lord in speaking. And in speaking, we need humility. None of us should consider ourselves better than others (Philippians 2:3)...but recognize that we are flawed as well, and God is in love with everyone else as much as He is in any individual.

James says that "religion" acceptable to God is that people would take care of "orphans and widows" and keep themselves from being "polluted" by the world (I believe this has less to do with things like smoking, drinking, swearing the things some religious circles talk about as evil – and more about how we do things and who we are in doing what we do whether we're having a beer, talking about the day, playing a sport, or at work).

I feel there is more to life than "church". There is being the hands and feet of Jesus...together. There is being the Body, ready to speak truth in love, willing to wash dirty feet (John 13:1, 12-15), and learning to let go of our lives in order to truly live.

Monday, July 28, 2008

James says that every good and perfect gift is from above, but how do we know what is "good and perfect"?

I feel like it's easy to make what we want to do seem as though it is "good and perfect" for us, but perhaps God sees things differently. We need to listen to His voice with open and willing hearts.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why So Hostile?

Today a man pointed his finger firmly into the air and told me that "Jesus was the best carpenter ever, so when you work you should do it for him, and it should be your best." Looking into his eyes, no matter how much I searched I did not see kindness or love. He was trying to intimidate me/guilt me into painting his house the best I could, and he did not know me. I listened and tried to communicate that he could trust us with his house.

While I painted I kept thinking about how he treated us. I asked myself, who's to say Jesus was the best carpenter ever? Who cares if he was or not. What matters is that he was loving in all he did. He treated people with kindness and respected people, even the fishermen, drunkards, prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors...and I'm sure he would treat painters the same today. Unfortunately this man did not have the gospel right, focusing more on doing a "good job" in life than on loving as Christ loved.

The apostle Paul once wrote, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."

This man reminded me of how much the gospel has been and can be twisted in the mind of those who have met Jesus, but have not followed him, who have forgotten what he taught.

Jesus said to "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart," and "love your neighbor as yourself," not "do the best you can at your job."

Mother Teresa, a woman who sought after Jesus so much throughout her life, used to say, "We can do no great things, just small things with great love. It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Final Prayer

The final prayer of Jesus was that the believer's would be one (John 17). I have been pondering this lately, kind of been challenged by it.

The idea of oneness is something that people talk about, but don't exhibit, including myself, because we struggle with discomfort. To be one we must be willing to step out of our comfort zone.

To understand that you are loved by God, you must also understand that everyone else is also. We are all different.

The initial idea of following this concept of oneness begins with dressing ourselves with new eyes.

I was recently at something called P.A.P.A. Fest (People Against Poverty and Apathy). There were many people talking about issues with not connecting with the poor, issues with people who hide themselves in suburbs and leave the poor to themselves, etc. Some people focused on living with less, protecting the environment (God's creation), learning to live a life in rhythm with God instead of the world, etc.

While some people were in "intentional communities" with the poor and others desiring to alleviate the injustice done to the poor, they seem to cut themselves off from those who live in suburbs and serve Christ in other ways. This happens in the vice versa as well. Not all people do this, but some split things.

I was riding my bike through suburbs and thought to myself "I would never want to live in a house like that with a yard and stuff." It felt uncomfortable now that I had been accustomed to living with less. Vice versa, many people in those houses would say that same thing to perhaps those who live with less. The thing is that this un-comfort keeps us from meeting each other and getting to know each other, though we may be brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a separation.

We must learn to accept each other, to recognize that we all grow up in different places, are in different walks of life with God, are all called to help different kinds of poverty in this world we live in.

It only becomes a problem when we isolate ourselves, when we keep ourselves from being one in Jesus Christ. We must be willing to step out and meet our neighbors to understand the way they live, to reach out to people without assumptions (not including times where there is real reason to have assumptions to protect ourselves...unfortunately we have to do that). We must meet people with innocence and a clean plate for where to place our understanding of them other than where they live, how much they live with, the way they dress, or the color of their skin.

I struggle with all of these pieces of people. It can keep me from engaging people with love instead of fear. Let us seek out what it means to be one.

There are so many more thoughts I have been having about this, but I can't remember them now. I hope that these thoughts encourage you in some way and get you thinking.

Challenge yourself to meet people you might feel uncomfortable getting to know whether it is in your neighborhood or at work.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

about peru

today is a new day
reaching into what was old
searching through pages i've looked at before
trying to understand it all
and knowing i'll never get there

Friday, May 9, 2008


Today I was at the bus stop area in La Victoria where a lot of the boys catch buses to play music on. While saying hello to one of the boys I knew, I caught the eye of a boy I had never seen before.

I felt the need to reach out my hand and say hello, so I did and we began talking.

He shared from his life and I shared from mine, and when the bus I needed to take arrived we said goodbye. What was so awesome about the conversation was that the entire time he never asked me for "plata" (money), which does not happen very often. When I am in a poorer areas of Lima, even if it is spoken like a joke, people ask for money. It felt so good when he didn't ask.

I was wondering at this the other day when Ben and Darcy shared a story with me about their day.

The two were visiting someone in the outskirts of Lima and a boy who was about four ran up to the house where they were standing and started saying "Quiero plata. Quiero plata" (I want money). Nearly every question they tried to ask him was returned with the words "Quiero plata."

Compassion is not giving someone money and watching them walk away, it is entering the life of another. It is so difficult to show people real compassion when they will not talk about their life with you and/or they do not want to listen to you talk about your life. (and often times there is ample reason for this)

It feels so good to be talked with, to be seen as a person and to have the chance to bond with someone.

I was thinking about these stories today, mine and the one from Ben and Darcy, and I realized that sometimes when I have talked with God all I have asked for is "plata."

How can we experience God's compassion if we never share life with Him, make Him a part of our lives by speaking sincerely and listening sincerely. He does not simply want to take away pain. He wants to experiece life with us, the joys and the pain.

He created us to "be" with Him, not to use Him as a means to happiness or a cure for problems. He desires so much to "be" with us.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I am learning to share my heart and give my heart to God.

Monday, April 7, 2008


about a month ago I had a thought about Jesus that I wrote down somewhere and I haven't had the chance to write it out in the blog until now. the thought was...

"Jesus didn't come to have huge statues built of him....or for that matter to have pictures of what people thought he looked like posted of him posing in one way or another."

we were going through the outskirts of Lima when I saw a huge statue of Jesus in the distance. that is where the thought began.

in Paul's letter to the Philippians he writes that Jesus humbled himself completely, that while he was God he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. he did not come for power, or to show his ability being God but for something serve and share the Truth, to share hope, faith, and love. this was revealed throughout his life serving and teaching and when he humbled himself to death.

pictures of Jesus are everywhere in Lima. they're in taxis, on random walls, and in shops and restaurants sometimes with the opposite wall posted with a picture of a half naked woman. (and I ask the question "why is he there? is there any real significance except to have a picture of him on the wall? is he just good luck?")

Jesus came to proclaim a message. he came to begin a kingdom where people love each other, even their enemies, where difference is welcome, where personal gain is placed behind encouraging and serving each other.

He came that people might know who Created them and that they might draw closer to Him and become one community driven by His great love and compassion.

Jesus is not a poster-boy. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

is Jesus sitting on the wall, some picture, or do we allow his message to become a real part of our lives?

what is important is what is in our hearts, not what is on the wall.

Friday, April 4, 2008

a portrait of ministry

yesterday i saw a mother teaching her daughter to ride a bike. she fell a lot. sometimes when her daughter fell off she would pout and leave frustrated at her failure, but her mother would be patient and continue to encourage her, believing in her ability to ride the bike. then the girl would return and try again. sometimes she was hurt when she fell, but still her mother encouraged, and the girl would try again.

the girl doesn't know what it is like yet to ride a bike, to feel the freedom of wind rushing past her. she doesn't even know yet if she can really do it. but her mother believes and knows.

would she keep trying if she did not have the support of her mother?

the Word Made Flesh staff here is a continuous encouragement for the boys and girls who live in the street, someone who believes in them. the boys have yet to believe that they can get more out of life, that they can ride the bike and get out of their place in the street. sometimes they try, and they may fall back to the streets, but that's not the end. we will be patient and continue to encourage them to try again. it is hard for them to believe when all they hear is that they are "piranhas" and bad kids by the public, the news, the police, etc.

so we will continue to pray for Richard and the others. it's not easy to try to ride the bike with so many obstacles.

think about it...if you were handed a poor deck of cards in life (lack of knowledge, of how to live life, of how to express yourself in a healthy way, of how to trust people, etc.) and had no support and encouragement (more so the opposite), how motivated would you be to try for greater things? we all need support and encouragement to live.

we are the family, the support for the youth who do not have any.

it's not easy. it takes time. it takes prayer. patience. love.

these were my thoughts yesterday as i sat in a park.
i hope you are blessed by these words.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pity & Love

My thoughts continue to be drawn towards my response to the marginalized.

I have had so many encounters that I could write about. I think that what I really struggle with is the concept of pity.

it seems that...

In pity we look down at someone and remain in our position,
In love we go to them and look into their eyes.

I do not want to just give people money, walk away or have them walk away, and then forget them or have them believe I will forget them. I want to hear their "voice." I desire for them to know that I care about their life.

I am still learning how I can love the poor.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Walking From Affluence To Solidarity

The other day we (the servant team and I) were walking up some stairs from under the road and I saw a man sitting on the side with a sign around his neck begging.  I don't know what the sign said because I averted my eyes not knowing what else to do.  I didn't feel that I had the option to talk with him partially because I didn't know how to speak Spanish that well and I didn't want to slow down the group, so the only thing I felt I could do was to just walk past him and avert my eyes.

We sat down to write about our surroundings about one hundred feet from him, though we couldn't see him anymore.  Rachel was sitting by me and mentioned that she was thinking about getting him a muffin and bringing it to him.  To be honest, I wasn't really comfortable with that.  I guess I felt like it would be better if we could at least talk with him or something, not just give him a muffin and leave, but build a relationship.  But since we couldn't really do that, I thought, 'why do it then?'  It's such a small thing, but I didn't know when the last time he ate was.

Rachel went and got a muffin while I kept writing, and then we both went back to the man.  As we walked up a police officer was making him move further down the stairs to kind of hide him more so that he couldn't be seen so much.  We then walked up to him.  Rachel handed him the muffin explaining what it was.  As I looked at his face I noticed that he was blind.  I took his hand for a moment and said "Dios te bendiga" (God bless you).  I wish there was more we could do.

There is so much poverty here.  And I feel that I don't just want to walk around giving people muffins and saying "God bless you."  I mean it with all my heart and find joy in giving and fulfilling immediate needs, but I want to do more than that.  I don't know what to do.  

I guess that's why I was opposed to getting the guy a muffin when Rachel suggested it.  I want to help him find the opportunity for a job so he can get his own muffins.  He is more than a beggar.  I understand that immediate needs are important too, but I want to do sustainable development.  When I see a beggar, I want to be able to create a program that will educate and train beggars (disabled or not) so that they can find sustainable work or for those who can't work to have a place/center where they can be loved and cared for within a supportive community.  Then I can offer something more than a moment of satisfaction.  More than hunger met, but also a relationship where they can trust and/or a job where they can support themselves.  I want to restore their dignity in the eyes of the world.

I have yet so much to learn.

Friday, February 15, 2008

El Primero Seis Horas (The First Six Hours)

(written on Feb 11th at 2am...when I arrived in Lima)

Well, I´m here. I live in a yellow room on the second floor facing the street. Light pours through the window. The air is hot, but there is a cool breeze that occasionally finds its way into the room. Ben, my team mate, is sleeping. I can hear him lightly snoring. There is an occasional car that swishes by or a moped buzzing or trucks rattling. The streets are so empty. It smells like...Lima, I guess. I am in prayer for the team, Word Made Flesh staff, and my family and friends at home. This will be my first night. May God be glorified. May He shine.


I woke up to a clear, sunny day bouncing off the yellow walls and the sound of dozens of different horns going off sporatically....nearly every other second (I don't know if I'll need an alarm clock :)

The birds sing a different song in Peru, when you can hear them.

five days later = today.....

I am in limbo...waiting for what God has planned while I am here in Lima. i don't feel like i have culture shock. I love my host family. They are fairly poor, doing whatever they can to make the money they need to pay for daily living, and are so generous. Sarah has a juice stand connected to the apartment-house-thingy where she sells juice, bread, and other yummy things (she also does other various things to get money). Eduardo does a variety of jobs. Carlos is maybe fourteen (i forgot what age he was), but school starts for him in March (it's summer here right now :-)

They speak very little english, so it's been great getting to know them and tell them about my life in Spanish/little English and hear about theirs. I have really enjoyed our conversations. Last night I helped Sarah and Eduardo put together clothing tags for brand-name clothes (Tommy Hilfigure...) and we talked about random things and laughed and whatnot. It was a great time. I love their simplicity. I really really do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The other day I was talking with a friend about expectations for the trip to Peru and I realized that I really don't have expectations so much as hopes. I hope to learn a lot from those we will be serving (the street kids, the girls from the red light districts...), as well as the team who has already been working there and anyone else I might meet. I hope to let go of and be freed of fears and restraints that I put on myself to step out, to grow in confidence with the words God speaks to me saying "I trust you; take that step."

One big lesson that I am learning lately is patience. I am learning to understand more how much I don't have to prove myself to God, that He loves me for who I am and He is guiding me and transforming my mind, heart, and spirit into greater love, compassion, humility, service, mercy, justice, and truth. I am learning that even if I grow very little, if I seem to never conquer bad habits or selfish ambition, or if I seem to backslide He is there, holding me by my right hand. We are children so greatly loved by a Father of Love.

A Psalm of David has really encouraged me lately...

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast...
Even the darkness will not be dark to you;
The night will shine like the day
For darkness is as light to you."
- taken from Psalm 139

in His loving arms,