• Hope In Their Eyes
    Hope In Their Eyes
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    I spent the morning at a Kenyan prison.

    It was an incredible experience. Striking actually.

    Even as I sit here to write about the experience, I am left without adequate words. Over 700 men that we visited today at Athi River Prison in Nairobi had a contagious unmistakable hope in their eyes. Through Celebrate Recovery, these men have come to realize that they are not the sum total of their mistakes, that there is grace and hope found in Jesus.

    I met men who have been given second chances, who are pursuing a brighter future by receiving the hope that only Jesus can bring, and who are applying themselves to become the men that they were created to be. They are becoming skilled artisans in art and trade. They are discovering that they need not return to their failures but can rise above their past through freedom that Christ brings.

    What struck me was the hope that I saw in the eyes of these men. It was not a false hope, or a ill-grounded hope. It was hope in Jesus Christ alone.

    While my words fail miserably to articulate the fullness of the experience, these photographs might help. I was reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 today:

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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  • Need for Resistance
    Need for Resistance
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    I recently picked up “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield again and have began waging war to win my inner creative battle. If you are a creative, dreamer, entrepreneur, or leader, you NEED to read this work. It will challenge you deeply, encourage you greatly, and strike deep chords with your heart.

    That aside, I have been experiencing a lot of resistance lately as I pursue what I truly believe I have been created to do.  I have seemed to hit wall after wall.  If there is a rock in my path, I have stubbed my toe on it.  Lots of resistance.  I read this thought from Pressfield:

    “Resistance is directly proportional to love. If you’re feeling massive resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.

    The more resistance you experience, the more important your unmanifested art/project/enterprise is to you – and the more gratification you will feel when you finally do it.”

    Personally, I have faced physical resistance from circumstances, time constraints, and mere coincidence.  I have emotional resistance in the forms of doubt, fear, anxiety, and insecurity in my ideas, in my art, and in my abilities.  I have experienced incredible spiritual resistance.  Everywhere I turn, resistance is prowling, at times in the shadows and, at others, staring me right in the face.

    Tonight, I remind myself and those of you who wrestle with it as I do, that resistance is necessary.  It is a clue to you that what you are chasing is indeed worth it.  It will change the world around you.  It has incredible value.  Your vision is revolutionary.  Resolve yourself to this:

    Stare resistance in the face.

    Believe.

    Press on.

    Celebrate victory.

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  • We Are the Comeback Kid
    We Are the Comeback Kid
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    We all love a good comeback story.

    Whether it be in sports, in a movie, in the pages of history, or life, we are smitten with the notion of someone coming from behind battling and overcoming great odds to achieve some unexpected feat. Something inside of each of us loves seeing the odds defeated.

    Why is that?

    We identify with the comeback kid. We identify, in some way or another, with the team of “screw ups” who have no shot at a state championship. We identify with the Rocky Balboas. We identify with stories of overcoming adversity.

    We are those people. Their stories reflect our own stories.

    We all in need of a second chance. We have been told “we can’t”. We have been told that “we will never”. We have seemingly had the deck stacked against us at one point or another. Progression is part of being human. We are a continual work in progress that needs to be reminded that our failures, shortcomings, or circumstances from yesterday are by no means final or an indictment of who we will forever be.

    The triumph of others reminds us that we too can be triumphant.

    Consider this. When Jesus met Simon in John chapter 1, Simon was an impetuous, impatient, and hot-tempered fisherman that would later slice the ear off a guard. Simon had a past, most likely riddled with impetuous, impatient, and sometimes brazen behavior. Simon was erratic. Simon was surely inconsistent at best.

    Yet when Simon comes to Jesus, notice the remarkable moment in verse 42:

    “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).”

    Cephas (Aramaic) and Peter (Greek) both mean “rock”. Jesus looked straight into the eyes of this erratic, inconsistent, hot-headed man, who undoubtedly was acutely aware of his own issues, and called him a “rock” to symbolize solidarity and steadfastness.

    Jesus did not define Peter as a sum total of his mistakes, failures, character flaws and the like, but chose to see him as the man he would become.

    Peter is a man of second chances. Peter’s story is the comeback story we all identify with. Peter was a man on the journey between who he once was and the man Christ determined him to be.

    We too are works in progress that are not seen by Christ as a sum total of our mistakes, bad choices, circumstances, attitudes, hurts, or hangups. He who looked on the impetuous Simon and renamed him “Peter” looks upon each of us with grace, offering us both forgiveness and strength so that we might be set free from ‘what was’ in order to fully become who He has created and has now renamed us to be.

     

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

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