A number of years ago, when I lived in the Nashville, TN area, a news story broke that was an eye-opener for me. The report said that a number of Hispanic women had been discovered, held against their will for the purpose of forced labor…in Nashville! I though, “Surely this is a mistake. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in the United States.”
In 2008, however, I attended my first Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, during that meeting an Atlanta pastor gave a brief testimony of his own experience. He had become aware of this global atrocity of human trafficking…enslavement of people for the purpose of exploitation. He felt that their church must become involved somehow, so he began his research into the problem. To his amazement, the very corner in Atlanta on which their church stood was one of the areas of highest activity in human trafficking. A sobering discovery, indeed.
I have friends who are in Brussels this morning waiting on their connecting flight to West Africa. This team is going to the Ivory Coast in order to help conduct a medical mission, conducting scores of surgeries and addressing the physical needs of the people of that region. While there, they will talk with people about Jesus. They will have evangelistic outreach efforts while they meet the physical and material needs of the hurting. This is a very intentional mission…help the hurting and introduce them to Jesus. I’m praying that they see many come to Jesus Christ in faith.
I love our LifeGroup. We are a diverse group, but we have meshed so well. Last night, in our gathering, a theme seemed to emerge out of our discussion of the authority of Christ. Coming out of our Lead Pastor’s sermon from Sunday (our groups are sermon-based), we were discussing how Jesus’ authority emerged from His submission (Mark 1). His submission to John’s baptism, to the Father’s plan, to being tempted, to preaching the gospel…all lead to his authority as He was described by John the Baptist, as the One with authority to preach the gospel of repentance, as the Teacher who speaks with authority concerning the Scriptures, as the authority over demons, as having the authority to heal the sick and dying…I think you get the idea.
I’ve never done any sailing. I’ve not even spent a lot of time on the water, really. I’ve gone fishing, I’ve done water skiing and wake boarding, I’ve even done a bit of canoeing and kayaking. In my limited amount of maritime experience, however, I did have one experience in which a storm came up while we were out on the water and we had to make it back to the shore as quickly as possible to avoid “rough seas.” It was a little unnerving, but we made it and didn’t have to weather the storm at all. I remember, however, a friend sharing an incident he had on the Chesapeake Bay that wasn’t quite so good. The storm came up so fast on them, they didn’t have time to make it to shore. They had to ride out the storm near an island of the Bay Bridge-Tunnel and by the time they were done, the waves were breaking over the bow of their little motor boat. It was a pretty precarious situation, but they made it through.
I am a Starbucks Gold Card holder. What that means is simply that I make enough purchases on my Starbucks card so that I get a free beverage of any size every time I make 15 purchases. So pretty much, every month I get a card in the mail that entitles me to any beverage they carry for free.
Now…I don’t drink a lot of lattes or cappuccinos…as a matter of fact, almost never. I like the brewed coffee…give me the bold blend, please! So, for a grande, I spend $2.12 in my town. With my own cup discount, that comes to $2.02 for my usual “poison.” Frankly, it seems to be a waste to use a card for a free beverage of any kind that could be worth up to $5.00 for a $2.00 cup of coffee. Do you feel me? So, I’ve been saving up these cards in my messenger bag and not using them until this past Monday, when I had a brainstorm! What about a French press! I queried the barista, who did his magic on the register and sure enough, it works! I can use my free drink card for a free four-cup French press. So, as long as I have the time to sit and enjoy it, I get a great deal on my coffee when I use one of these free drink cards. Awesome! Opportunity maximized!
Accountability…that word scares some people to death! However, it is something that we all have to face in some form or fashion. If we engage in the workplace, it is likely we are accountable to someone. We have supervisors or bosses, we may be part of a team…even if we are self-employed, to a degree, we are accountable to our customers, or we won’t have customers for very long. When we were growing up at home, we were likely accountable to our parents.
I remember when our daughter first started driving, we had given her a cell phone and the rule was she had to call us when she arrived at her destination and, if plans changed, she had to call us to tell us the new plans, then, she had to call us when she was heading home so we’d know when to expect her. She hated it at first, and after a couple of rough spots, accepted it and appreciated it. As a matter of fact, there was an incident where she was being “stalked” by some guys at Target and in that situation, being accountable and having a “tether” to home was welcomed.
My journey has taken me many places at home and abroad. I’ve had the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life and each one has enriched me in some way. Through each phase of life and ministry, there are special faces that grace my memory and represent a life that has rubbed up against my own and that of my family. For each one I’m grateful.
When I came to my current ministry in 2009, I met a couple who have become blessed friends and co-workers. Wayne Wasser has served as a deacon here for a number of years and his wife, Kathy, has been very involved in women’s ministry leadership. They have served as missionaries to Bolivia, sent by our church. They have worked with our youth ministry in a “past life” and for the last several years, have worked tirelessly with The Verge, our college ministry. That is where I have most closely labored elbow-to-elbow with them. Because of my passion for 20-somethings and their discipleship, I have had the opportunity to partner with this couple in hanging out with, teaching and counseling our college students. Their wisdom, humor, spiritual insight and commitment have been a blessing to many over the years…and a blessing and challenge to me.
Bitter Sweet Moments
I’ve seen it many times over the years. People with whom I’ve ministered and come to love and appreciate, sometimes move on. That is the case with Wayne and Kathy. Wayne’s job is moving them to the Dallas area and we’re losing two very valuable laborers in the Kingdom here in our community. They have requested that we have no special occasion to mark their transition. They just want to quietly move on…a sign of their own humility and maturity, perhaps. Regardless, I just wanted to give this little tribute to their ministry among us. I am thankful, and I’ve only known them for 2 1/2 years. There are many others who’ve worked, grown and ministered with them far longer who have an even deeper appreciation for their investment here and in Bolivia. We are all thankful.
Every life that touches mine provides an opportunity to learn something…these take-aways are the blessings of shared story and life. Here are a few of those I’ve gained from Wayne and Kathy Wasser. Continue reading Phases and Faces→
I was in the 8th grade and I had been chosen to be the escort for our homecoming queen candidate, Connie. She was pretty and I was excited to be getting to do this. It was pretty cool to be chosen by my class to be in the court. The week of homecoming, I was in the boys bathroom at school, when Darryl and two of his buddies came in and surrounded me, backing me up against the wall. It turns out that Darryl was Connie’s boyfriend and he didn’t like it that I was the one escorting her in the homecoming court. He wanted to know if I had any intentions toward her and to make it clear who’s girlfriend she was. A wadded-up shirt collar, a fist held against my face and a profanity-laced warning were all it amounted to, but I was a bit nervous that it wasn’t going to stop at that. I didn’t back down or run away, and I think he saw that, and maybe the bully was a little intimidated to take it any further…who knows, maybe I’m just flattering myself. At any rate, I was a victim of bullying.
Why do I bring this issue up? It just seems that it’s been brought to my attention too much recently to ignore it. Let me share.
Time management is always a challenge for me. I have to be very intentional about it in order to be effective in my work and personal life. The fact is, if you don’t budget your time with your own expectations, there will always be others who will place their expectations on you. Your spouse, your parents, your employer, your friends…all of these people have certain expectations about what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your time. Some of these expectations are legitimate and some are not.
I read a post by Michael Hyatt that speaks to the issue of workload management and it is worth the read. You can find it here. He shares some very helpful insights into managing workload in this post. He highlights the Franklin-Covey method of prioritizing tasks which I think if very helpful. He says that we can categorize our tasks by the following tags in order to determine the order in which to “attack” them…if we do so at all. Here is the tagging system: Continue reading Time Management and Relationships→
I’ve said many times, “Anything worthwhile in life is worth working hard to achieve.” Honestly, in many ways it’s easy for me to say that, I’ve had a lot of support and encouragement along the way. Of course, I’ve had some definitely struggles and hurdles to get over, but there are many who have dealt with much more than me. My adversity in life pales in comparison to so many. However, the truth remains for all of us…no matter our circumstances…we can make choices to survive and to thrive. Any “raw deal” we’ve gotten in life…or even brought on ourselves…can make us bitter or make us better. It is, to a very large degree, up to us. Continue reading Overcoming Adversity: No Excuses→