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  • Look Up
    Look Up
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    Autumn is my favorite season of the year. Growing up in California, we were taught about the four seasons, but in my experience living there, fall was the period of three days between when summer decided to finally say “adios!” right before winter came and camped out for a couple months.

    While I was taught there were four seasons, my experience was 2 solid seasons with a few days of fall and a week or two of spring. That was about the extent of my “seasonal” experience.

    Moving to Nashville ruined me. Living in the hills of Tennessee for over 5 years exposed me to the true beauty of Autumn. I remember my first visit to Tennessee during the fall months before we would move. I was astonished at the magnificent colors of the harvest season on majestic display! Every hill was covered with deep reds, fiery oranges, and golden yellows all signaling the changing of the seasons.

    Even though I appreciated our short lived seasons of fall in California, Tennessee solidified my affinity for the season. I looked forward to it every year there.

    Then we moved to Texas.

    Don’t get me wrong. Where we live here north of Houston is a beautiful place. We live among the trees. You can’t even find large stores because of the trees. It really is a unique place. But, the climate here usually does not exactly create the “cold snap” required to get the fullness of the fall colors of Autumn.

    So imagine my disappointment during our first fall season here last year. We had a splash of color on a handful of trees. Everything else was gorgeous and green, but I wanted the Autumn experience that I had grown to love in Tennessee. I might even be said that I was a bit depressed during the months of Autumn…ok not really depressed but I did miss my favorite time of the year.

    Thanks to the devilish tools of Facebook and Instagram that were loaded with photos from my family and friends from Nashville, I did have to do business with a small bout of jealousy and envy.

    God knows the desires of my heart. He knows what I long for and what makes me happy. He knows intimately the wiring of each of us; We are His creation, the works of His hands. As the Creator, the Artist, and the Lord of it all, He is gracious and good to us as we delight ourselves in Him and in His plans and purposes. (Psalm 37:4) He desires to bless His children.

    Often we fail to see His everyday effort to bless us along our day-to-day journey.

    As I was walking into work this morning, I took a moment to stop and look up. We have had a great Autumn here in Texas this year. We have experienced some cold weather. Colors I missed last year have began to explode from the trees all around. With a mild Texas winter, Autumn has seemed to be prolonged a bit. Leaves have been lingering on the trees all the while displaying the radiant colors of Autumn.

    And up until this morning, I had failed to stop and appreciate the fullness of it. Busyness of life had strangled my ability to be still and simply appreciate God’s blessing of the season; I had failed to appreciate this little blessing that God had given to me personally.

    This morning I slowed down and looked up.

    Friends, take time today to be still and look up. Appreciate what is all around you. Call to mind the simple blessings of God in your life. Exercise thanksgiving.

    Look up.

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  • A Father’s Heart
    A Father’s Heart
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    Have you ever had one of those moments where you come face to face with a harsh reality, one that you knew existed but in an instant it becomes all the more REAL to you?

    In these moments, every fiber of my being fights to put that experience somewhere. I have to do something with it. It has begun to disturb and disrupt me and is changing me at some level. Ultimately, my behavior is about to be tweaked because my world view has been radically invaded and tweaked.

    I had one such moment this last week in Haiti.

    Let me first say that orphans have always been real to me. I have worked with a number of organizations around the globe in their initiatives to care for orphans and the families that have taken it upon themselves to care for these forgotten and abandoned children. Even at a heart level, now having established friendships with orphans, it has been real to me. it is not as though I thought it to be some social anomaly that existed in some other place. It has been right under my nose for years.

    An encounter with a 3 year old Haitian boy named Emmanuel rocked my world.

    It struck a different chord in my heart.

    I had multiple opportunities to pick him up, hold his hand, make him laugh, and simply do whatever I could as an english speaking “le blanc” to make him feel the love of Christ. As I interacted with Emmanuel, I saw my own 3 year old son Ethan.

    That is when it became REAL.

    My heart began to break as I allowed myself to engage Emmanuel, and the countless orphaned children his story represents, as a father. I envisioned my own son staying in the orphanage that Emmanuel called home, sleeping on the bed that was his, not having a mom or dad to read to him or kiss his head at night as he drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face. I imagined Ethan walking the steep hillside hand in hand with the other children as they looked out for each other…who else would? As we checked each child during a well clinic and treated their various sickness and infections, I imagined Ethan standing in line sick with any one of the infections we saw and patiently waiting for someone to help.

    My prayer with every team that I lead,with every journey I take, and wherever I am in the world is that God would break my heart for what breaks His.

    I have not quite finished placing this experience anywhere yet…and to be honest I am not sure I am ready to. I want to let it continue to mess with me because my heart has been softened to a new place, to feel in a new way the hurt the Father feels for these children. It has brought new resolve and a fresh reminder of why we do what we do.

    So I’ll continue to wrestle. Thank you Emmanuel for revealing the heart of the Father to me in a way that you will never fully comprehend.

    Merci Jezi.

    * This post is cross-published at WCMissions site. For more information about the work of Woodlands Church and WCMissions, visit the site here.

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  • Fight On
    Fight On
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    Some interesting conversations start on an airplane.

    You know…that awkward moment when you realize you are encroaching on someone else’s personal bubble while you sit 3 to a row but you might as well be ok with it because nothing is about to change anytime soon.

    Personal bubble aside, there is something to striking up a conversation with a complete stranger who is your captive audience for at least an hour, if not more.

    Inevitably, after normal pleasantries of name and where you are traveling from/to and why you are traveling are exchanged, the next question usually is, “So, what do you do?”

    This is where it gets fun.

    “I’m an International Missions Pastor,” I answer, knowing that there will be a follow up question after a seemingly puzzled look as he or she tries to digest my answer and attempt to size up my work placing it into some compartmentalized mind space complete with it’s own set of stereotypes.

    “So you take church people on trips,” is usually the truncated synopsis I receive back.

    Well, not exactly. Opportunity presents itself to start sharing the various types of work that Woodlands Church, our global partners, team members, pastors, leaders, and business men/women are engaged in around the world, both domestically and internationally.

    Diving deeper into discussion with a score of questions being asked and answered, there is this hinge point in the conversation. It is the moment where the light bulb in the mind of my captive audience begins to flicker with a “get it” factor.

    And yet at that very same moment, there is a wrestling at the cognitive, emotional and spiritual levels. It is a common wrestling; a wrestling of skepticism if you will.

    Does it really matter? Does it really make a difference?

    Fair enough question. We live in a world with seemingly insurmountable problems…problems demanding solutions that often require systemic change. While systemic change, or the eradication of poverty, aids, and the like are not overnight or even quick processes, the fight to procure these goals is not only worthy, but efforts are being proven effective.

    The end result, the imaginable goal, is worth the fight.

    In fact, we have no option but to keep fighting, even when most would willingly admit the cause is daunting, or quite possibly impossible in nature.

    But that is ok. I serve a big God. I like my chances.

    “Sometimes a disease can be knocked out; sometimes sex traffic can be considerably reduced; sometimes slavery can be abolished in a region; sometimes more equitable laws can foster justice and reduce corruption…In these and countless other ways cultural change is possible. More importantly, doing good to the city, doing good to all people (even if we have special responsibility for the household of faith), is part of our responsibility as God’s redeemed people.” – Timothy Keller, Generous Justice

    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact; it’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration; it’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”  - Muhammad Ali

    Fight on friends. Fight on.

     

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Christ follower . husband . father . strategic leader . ENTP . photographer . humanitarian . creative . writer . collaborator . lover of people . dreamer of the day . seeker of social justice . coffee snob

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