After I moved to Africa, a couple living in the US contacted me and said, “We’d like to make a financial contribution to help you with your ministry in Uganda.” Because my job at the time didn’t require that I raise funds, I thanked them but declined their generous offer.
The other day I read two passages in Deuteronomy and Numbers with similar messages. They caused me to recognize more deeply the consequences of disobeying God and failing to heed His warnings. Put succinctly: Moving forward without God’s leading, permission, or assistance, regardless of how we justify our words or actions, will lead to His judgment.
On October 31, 2003, 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off the North Shore in Hawaii. Bethany survived, but she lost her left arm and more than 60 percent of her blood in the assault.
In the book Bono: A Self-Portrait in Conversation, the legendary U2 vocalist shared these thoughts on God’s love with author Michka Assayas. “My understanding of the Scriptures,” Bono says, “has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. . . . God is love, and as much as I respond in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion.”
Mark 5:25-34 contains what I call my “If only I” steps. They’re the desperately needed, often last-resort, actions I often take to reach out to Jesus and find the healing and deeper intimacy I need.
Pay it forward entails the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it by doing something kind for another person—not the original benefactor. In our fallen world, however, we sometimes “pay forward” pain by hurting someone in response to offenses committed against us—perhaps in the past—by a different person.
A group of friends and I are in the midst of attempting to read through the Bible in 90 days. Since beginning this endeavor, we’ve been surprised at the way God’s Word has become so alive for us.
I was babysitting two 5-year-old boys while their mothers went shopping. They were having a fun time playing together until one of the children threw a ball that accidentally struck the other on the nose.
Following a mass shooting in which a dozen victims were murdered, a writer lamented that the horrific event received a lack of media coverage and national attention. “What number of dead here would it have taken to give the nation pause?” Cynthia McCabe lamented in a blog post. While some people moved on quickly from reflecting on the senseless crime and those affected by it, many individuals, organizations, and churches demonstrated compassion for those affected by the tragedy. That includes my friend Heidi who—along with other members of her local church—chose to remember the victims in a tangible way.
The film Noah’s Arc: The Noah Snyder Documentary tells the story of Noah Snyder and his unique journey from growing up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to establishing a professional surfing career. As my son and I watched it, we were moved by both the stellar surfing and the deep truths found in the story. It was inspiring to see Noah and several of his childhood friends mature from mere thrill-seekers to young men embracing purpose, responsibility, and a relationship with God.
During a difficult season of life when I questioned God’s kindness and care, many believers in Jesus came alongside me. They allowed me to be real with my struggles, but refused to let me dwell on them. They pointed me to Scripture, prayed for me, and helped meet my needs. Their compassion helped me experience Christ’s gentle love (Deuteronomy 32:2). Rather than judge me for my weak faith, my confidants proved that “a friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need” (Proverbs 17:17).
There was a season when my son Wasswa and I had 12 little guests at our dinner table in Uganda every night for 3 consecutive years. Previous to our sharing dinner with them, the children had often gone entire days without food. They began coming to our house when they heard that I would feed them. Many of the boys and girls—some as young as 3 years old—walked nearly 5 miles to reach our home, so I gave them a ride home each evening.