Christian Music

Christian music can be entertaining.  There's nothing wrong with that.  More importantly, however, is music's ability to inflame the recesses of our hearts.  I think that's why the Psalms can be so potent for those hungering for that connection with God.

It'd been a while but Peg and I were able to enjoy a MercyMe concert last Saturday.  They certainly didn't disappoint.  Over the ten years since "I Can Only Imagine" became a hit, the band, rather than losing their passion for the Lord, has only grown in their fervor.  The music can be fun, uplifting, and enlightening in our souls.  Their lyrics challenge us to see the world through God's eyes.

With all of the tragedy and violence in the world today, it's easy to be discouraged.  Throughout the day, I find it useful to have a good, uplifting chorus ringing in my head.

Here are a few more of my favorites (and favorite song by them):

  1. Casting Crowns ("Who Am I": Despite our relative insignificance, God cares.)
  2. Third Day ("Cry Out to Jesus": ...There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary...)
  3. Sidewalk Prophets ("Change This Heart": We're helpless to escape the darkness yet run away from only hope.)
  4. Sanctus Real ("Lead Me": As a husbands and fathers, we can get caught in the superficial assurances, ignoring what our wife and children really need from us: Strength and Love.)
  5. Steven Curtis Chapman ("I Will Be Here": Our wedding song.)
  6. Tenth Avenue North ("Oh My Dear": "Oh, my dear I'll wait for you.  Grace tonight will pull us through."  We often allow our guilt and our own lack of grace to come between us and God, the Lord with eternal Grace.)
  7. Kutless ("What Faith Can Do": "Impossible is not a word. It's just a reason for someone not to try...You will find you way if you keep believing.")


Abandoned on the side of the road in her condition was effectively a death sentence.  In Kenya, and throughout Africa, it's said that everyone is directly affected by HIV/AIDS.  Many still mistakenly believe that it can be spread by touch.  In some villages, those with HIV/AIDS are forced to live outside of town and away from their families.

The New Hope Village outside Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon is a leper colony.  Shunned and feared by their own family, those with Hansen's disease are left to fend for themselves.  For centuries, lepers have been treated as the untouchables. 

Imagine a life where everyone you met was afraid of being too close to you.  Imagine going weeks, months or even years without physical contact.  People walk by as if you don't exist.  Even when you're acknowledged, it's with a frown of disapproval.  Even friends and family illogically believe that they'll catch your condition just be being close to you.  Some may even believe that you're deserving.

Sadly, this is what the homeless face everyday in America, this great land of opportunity.  Many of us find comfort with the justification that they brought it on themselves.  Our thinking implies that since they deserve their condition we have no obligation to help.  They just need to buck up and work harder, right?

Throughout Scripture, we, of the faith, are told again and again to care for the hungry and the downtrodden.  (See Prov 25:21, Matt 25:35, Matt 25:42, James 1:27....and so on)  Our calling is to love our neighbors without condition.  Where would we be, as believers, if our Heavenly Father imposed the same conditions for his love?  We are called to love without judgment...a love that requires action.  It's not enough to say that we give to charities and do no harm.  We must not cross the street to avoid the downtrodden.  As His light, we are called to walk to them and give them hope.

In Kenya, the "Samaritans" at HEART rescued the woman from the side of the road.  Today, after some vocational training provided by HEART, she's able to support herself and her loved ones.  More importantly, she has hope.

In Cameroon, the Baptist Convention provides the residents of New Hope with the health care required.  However, the healing that matters most comes from the visitors who reach out to touch them.  After all, aren't we all to follow Jesus's lead?

Inspirational Youth

My heart was bubbling with pride and ached for the children.  Possibilities swarmed my mind for ways to serve our Lord.  All of this because some 'youth' from our church retold their recent trip to Kenya.  Their genuine love for the children they met was evident in the sparkle in their eyes, the tears held back so they could speak clearly. What would drive these teenagers to leave material comforts to brave stifling heat carrying 40lb sacks for 'strangers'?

I was convicted by my biases.  These weren't mere youth.  They're leaders in all the ways that matter.  Those they served are no strangers, they are the neighbors.  The Lord, through Kenyan voices, called and they responded.

I'm proud not because of my doing or even what our church is doing...I'm proud because I believe God is pleased.

Leap or Be Still

We feel the urge to serve, perhaps in a radical way, but are not yet sure how.  One day, I feel like we need to take a leap of faith.  The next day, I feel like we need to be still and be led.  Each day, I pray that our hearts be open and that our hearts be true.  And, due to the thickness of my flesh, if He calls and I don't respond, please call again.

143 Million Orphans

UNICEF estimates there are at least 143 Million orphans in the world today.  I thought about adding a lot more data and statistics to illustrate the problem.  But do I really need to?  Considering how hard it is for us to leave our kids for a weekend, it's unfathomable to imagine the number of kids who have no Sunday night to look forward to.  For most of these kids, hope died with their parents.

For years, Peg and I have sponsored orphans through Compassion and World Vision.  Every month or quarter, money is deducted from our account to support a child in Somalia and another in India.  For ~$1/day, these children are provided with food, clothes and education.  It was an easy decision...perhaps too easy.

We recently finished reading Radical, by David Platt.  "David Platt challenges Christians to wake up, trade in false values rooted in the American dream, and embrace the notion that each of us is blessed by God for a global purpose."  (Wess Stafford, President and CEO, Compassion International)  I'd recommend it to everyone but brace yourself.  Platt challenges us to alter our thinking from "What can we spare?" to "What will it take?"  Parts of it are hard to stomach, so I can't honestly call it a "good" book.  But it's a good helping of green vegetables for the body of Christ.

We ask that you join us in heartfelt prayer as we seek ways to serve.  As Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, once prayed, "Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."  "Lord, We thank you for all the blessings in our lives.  We willingly give back to you all that you've entrusted with us.  We thank you for the opportunity to be your hands and feet."

Private Faith vs. Greatest Sale on Earth

For many, faith is a private matter.  That's hard for me.  One of my great fears is that I will stand at the gate of judgment and see a loved one on the wrong side.

I'm a bargain hunter (which is a nice way of saying a cheapskate).  Some of my great joys (to Peg's chagrin) stem from finding the good deal.  Imagine finding an ad for a $100 new car.  Wouldn't you want to share that with your loved ones?  Now imagine if you hadn't and they later found out about it.  My choice to accept Jesus is such a bargain.  For nothing out of our pockets, He gave us the choice of blissful eternity.  With any great bargain, there's the fine print.  1) This is a limited time offer.  I can't tell you when it expires and that expiration varies for each of us.   2) You must make a choice.  Not choosing is, in itself, a choice.  3) Though the choice itself it free, life after that choice may not be easy.  You may be shunned, mocked, or even persecuted.  But eventually, the warranty kicks in, restores us to better than new condition, and lasts forever.

I'm not here to make you choose, nor am I going to try to convince you any further.  There's another greater than I who'll do that.  However, because I'm bubbling with excitement, I'm always eager to talk about my personal bargain and try to answer any questions you may have (I do a lot of research when bargain hunting). And, when the time comes and you need a ride or just want some company, give me a call!

Why Blog?

Several months ago, when I'd embarked on an adventure to Cameroon, I created a blog to keep family and friends up to date on preparations.  I found it a useful way to exchange heartfelt ponderings.  For a self-avowed geek, my brain works slowly.  Some blog entries have taken days to evolve.  I know it's hard to believe considering the quality of some of those entries, but imagine the quality if I'd just blurted it out.

Most of my entries will center around my walk with the Lord, Jesus Christ, because much of what's on my mind and heart is Jesus Christ.  I admit, it's scary to walk so openly.  It's a step of faith, if you will, as I expect to be held accountable.  Whether you're a follower of Christ or not, I hope anyone reading (which may just be my wife) will challenge me to walk a straight path.  I will assume that any criticism you have is out of love and concern so fire away.  I blog for the sake of transparency.

While there are a lot of "I's" in this entry, I hope anyone reading will take a seat in this virtual living room and have a chat!