reflections on taking chances

I was 23.
April 2008.
Nearly a year of wonderings and wanderings after graduating from college.
I was ready.
Ready to spread my wings and fly,
ready to take a chance.

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In 2007 I graduated with a degree in music.  In my young, naivete I thought I would immediately be hired in full-time music ministry and that church job offers would simply flood in as soon as I walked across the stage with my diploma.

(I was wrong, by the way).

That summer I travelled to India for a two-month long mission trip.  In many ways, that trip changed my life.  My first time overseas, my first time fully immersed in an eastern culture, and the first time I really caught a glimpse of life abroad serving a God who isn’t American.  A God of all nations.

I returned home more sick than I’ve ever been in my life, and still had no job and no direction for my life.

The difficult months that followed shook me to my core: extreme culture shock, depression, meandering and wanderings…  but then in April of 2008, everything changed.  You see, when I returned from India, my team spent several days in Bangkok, Thailand debriefing.  I had a distant feeling in my heart, a feeling that I would return to Thailand one day.

Ten years ago, in April 2008, I interviewed for a Music Teacher position in Bangkok, Thailand.  A few weeks later, I boarded a small airplane with 2 large suitcases (and a very heavy carry on) and moved to the other side of the world.

I didn’t know a single soul.

But that decision – that chance.  It changed my life forever.

The friendships forged during that year forever changed me, the students I taught showed me what compassion looked like with hands and feet, and living in another culture taught me how to be empathetic.

That chapter of my life opened up doors for me to later serve in full-time Worship ministry, and the relationships there inspired me to pursue seminary.  Many of the co-teachers I taught with are still my friends today.

The thing about taking chances is this: when the Holy Spirit of God prompts us to take steps of faith, or “chances” in our human thinking, the greater chance to take is to ignore that prompting and taking the wider, easier path.

I’m so glad I took that chance.

S6300051India, June 2007

S6300243.jpgKolkata, India, July 2007

IMG_1493_7Thailand, October 2008

IMG_5313Our street, Nonthaburi, Bangkok, Thailand


That which Christ calls us to do,
he will enable us to accomplish.

This is the message of the Miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.
The only miracle recorded in all 4 Gospels, this seems to be the message for the disciples: when Christ would leave the earth, they would be empowered to carry on his message.  And the ability of them to carry out this ministry would not be of their human strength, it would be the power of God.  The power through His Spirit.

Christ called them to feed the multitudes, “You give them something to eat.” (Matt. 14:16)  And amongst the people, five loaves of bread and two fish were found.

Jesus prays a prayer of thanks, breaks the bread, and from this, the food just kept coming.  More and more.  More than they needed.

And the disciples did the work to distribute the food to the people.  “They all ate and were satisfied.”  And “the number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (Matt. 14:20-21).

Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the people, and through him, they were able to accomplish what he called them to do.

The same is true for us today: That which Christ calls us to do, he will enable us to accomplish.



The more days I travel as a pilgrim on this earth, the more I am convinced of this truth: to live is to lose.  As young children, somehow we think we can grasp and hold onto the things of this life, but to me now as an adult, loss seems to mark my journey more than gains.



The only loss we will not have as followers of Christ is just that: Himself.

The time we spend earning more material possessions or working hard to maintain our neat squares of grass called “yards”… less time we have to spend with the One who will carry our souls into eternity.  Where yes, we will spend the rest of time, until there is no more time.  Forever.  With Him.

God.  The triune God.  Father, Son and Spirit.

The more time we spend on this earth being quiet before Him, and allowing those “things of earth” to grow “strangely dim”… He will become more beautiful to us.

He will become that which we desire most in this life.

And that my friends, is GAIN.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 34:4)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)


sometimes it just can’t be spoken… must be put to music.  Or in the words of another…

You say to us seek Your face
Our hearts reply, Your face we seek
And come teach us Lord, reveal Your ways
Anoint us for the greater things

We have gathered with one thirst and hunger
We’re here to drink of glory and wonder,
Here to cry out
Come and fill this place
Come and fill this place

And our single wish, our sole desire
To gaze upon Your beauty God
We will not rest, nor will we cease
Till with our eyes, Your face we see

We have gathered with one thirst and hunger
We’re here to drink of glory and wonder,
Here to cry out
Come and fill this place, this place
Come and fill this place, this place

We wait for You to come and show Your glory here today…

Alleluia come, Alleluia come, Alleluia come, Alleluia come!

God’s heart for the poor

The God of the poor.  God has a special place in his heart for those who are poor, not only that but the poor are part of WHO God actually is, and names he is called by:

  • Defender of the fatherless and widows (Deut. 10:18; Psalm 10:16-18; 40:17, 68:5; Jeremiah 22:16)
  • Protector of the poor (Psalm 12:5)
  • Rescuer of the poor (I Sam 2:8, Psalm 35:10, 72:4, 12-14, Isaiah 19:20, Jeremiah 20:13)
  • Provider of the poor (Psalm 68:10, 146:7, Isaiah 41:17)
  • Savior of the poor (Psalm 34:6, 109:31)
  • Refuge of the poor (Psalm 14:6, Isaiah 25:4).

I’ve been thinking a lot about this.  God honors humility and those who see their need for God.  Hunger- both physical and spiritual is the starting point for change.  Necessity.

Matthew 5:3 (ESV) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3 (MSG) “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more room for God and his rule.”

Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God = for those who are poor.

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Thirst and hunger makes me think of desperation.  If someone is so empty, they become desperate for anything that will satisfy.  If we are searching for righteousness, we will be satisfied.

I’ve thought about this on and off for the past 4 years or so, ever since my trip to India.  The poverty was astounding.  People dying on the sides of the road, and children begging on every corner you turn around.  It’s almost more than you can even imagine, if you’ve never experienced it.  I’ve been reading “The Hole in Our Gospel” by World Vision President Richard Stearns, and it’s given me some more perspective.  Check out this link to more scripture concerning poverty, and what the Bible says about it.  Why is it that we seem to skim over these sections of scripture, instead of actually thinking about it?  Have we made poverty something that only exists third world countries?  Have we distanced ourselves from this, simply because we don’t see ourselves as “that rich” here in America?  Those of us who are “middle class” don’t see ourselves as wealthy?

More to come in future posts.  It becomes so easy for us as Americans to sit back, cross our arms and talk all day about poverty.  It’s sure easier to do that than sell all our belongings and give to the poor.  Talk is talk, and talk is cheap.  It’s faith in action that requires more.  A lot more.  Maybe everything we have.


“Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast”

Here are the beautiful words to one of Charles Wesley’s hymns, I don’t know the hymn, but the words are touching, and so rich.  I’ve been reading through a book for the past year or so, divided into 52 weeks with different Wesleyan meditations.  Each lesson includes a different hymn by Charles Wesley; this is one I recently read, then discovered again today, and was touched.

This is the book here, if you are interested, “A Life Shaping Prayer”.

Come, sinners, to the gospel feast;
let every soul be Jesu’s guest;
Ye need not one be left behind,
For God hath bid all humankind.

Sent by my Lord, on you I call;
the invitation is to all:
Come, all the world; come, sinner, thou!
All things in Christ are ready now.

Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed,
Ye restless wanderers after rest,
Ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind,
In Christ a hearty welcome find.

This is the time: no more delay!
This is the Lord’s accepted day;
Come thou, this moment, at his call,
And live for him who died for all!

prepare the way

Prepare the way for the LORD.
A voice.  In the wilderness.
Calling.  Shouting.


I was reading in Isaiah 40 this morning, actually, I was reading at first in Luke 3, then refrenced back to Isaiah 40… the prophecy of John preaching in the wilderness.

John’s central message was preparation, but part of that preparation was “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”.

The Season of Advent has finished, and we are now in the Season of Christmas.  The central theme of Advent is looking at Christ’s first coming, but looking forward to his second coming is also another theme that is often overlooked or missed.  This morning, I was struck with a question I hadn’t really thought about before…. what does it mean for US to prepare the way of the LORD?  For his second-coming?

Verse 5 in Isaiah 40 talks about the Glory of the LORD being revealed and says, “all people will see it together” in NIV, in another translation it says “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God”.  I still can’t help but think of the second-coming of Christ in this statement.  All people saw the salvation of God in the face of Jesus Christ, but when he comes again, we will ALL see with our own eyes what we’ve lived out in faith.  It also made me think of 1 Corinthians 13, the latter part of the chapter, verse 12,it says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known…”.

Soon we will see it all together.  The Glory of God.  Revealed.  The fulfillment of our faith and salvation in the face, body, and death of Jesus Christ, and in his return for us.  What do you think, what does it look like for us to help prepare the way for the LORD today?

I think Matthew 28:18-20 gives us just a small glimpse of our duty and role

Repentance, Forgiveness, Baptism… same message still today!

Brandon Heath- No Not One

If you get a chance to listen to this song, or this album, DO IT!  Brandon Heath’s album- “What if We”, is an incredible challenge to Christians, just give it a listen and you’ll be blown away.  It’s been on my ipod for a few months, but I’ve just recently discovered the richness of Brandon Heath, especially this particular song- “No Not One”.  Other great songs on the album are: Give Me Your Eyes (no, it’s not encouraging stealing of others body parts), Trust You, and Love Never Fails.

Listen Here:

No better word than from your lips
No perfect life than what you lived
No greater gift, no not one

No brighter star has ever shined
No better hope for all mankind
No higher mind, no not one

No one has ever known
This kind of love you’ve shown

There has never been a greater love
Than your son
No, not one
And there’ll never be a name above
No, not one
With his life you have forgiven us
Hope has come
Hope has come
And there will never be a greater love
No, not one

No image true or sweeter frame
No simple word can match your name
No greater fame
No not one

No one has ever seen
The depth of your majesty

No greater call
You gave us all a reason to live
No greater love
You gave us all a reason to give
No greater life
You gave us all a reason to shine
No greater love
Forever mine

God of Justice

Micha 6-8 (JustWallpaper).preview

For those planning to attend this Sunday’s Prayer and Worship Night at FBC, here is just a taste of what you’ll see, and what we will be praying about for our city and community… it’s something that has been on my heart for quite some time, but read over the lyrics to Tim Hughes’  “God of Justice”, taken from Micah 6:8.  As we pray for our communities, let us remember the heart of our call as believers, and remember how simple it really is.

I often forget the simplicity of our call… Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly…

God of Justice, Savior to all
Came to rescue the weak and the poor
Chose to serve and not be served

Jesus, You have called us
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

We must go live to feed the hungry
Stand beside the broken
We must go
Stepping forward keep us from just singing
Move us into action
We must go

To act justly everyday
Loving mercy in every way
Walking humbly before You God

You have shown us, what You require
Freely we’ve received
Now freely we will give

Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out
Fill us up and send us out Lord


The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
For a class I’m taking right now, there are several disciplines we have to experience, one of those is praying the Lord’s Prayer every day for a month.  Some days I wake up and right away, I remember to pray it, but more than just “pray it”, I try and think through what it means.  As a Christian, and really for anyone in any organized religion, it becomes easy for things to become routine, and by acting in those things that are required, we miss why they are important.
Just like we should all pray.
Just like we should all read our bibles.
It’s interesting how the disciples, of all the questions they could have asked Jesus, they ask to be taught how to pray.  Father tells us that we are on a personal level with God.  Hallowed reminds us of how holy he is, and how un-holy we are.  Asking for His Kingdom and will to be done gives God full power and control in our lives.  Asking for him to give us our daily bread teaches us to ask only for what we need, and to know that he will meet and provide that need.  Asking for forgiveness for our sins, and for those who have sinned against us teaches us humility as we place in God’s hand our own humanity.  The KINGDOM, the POWER, and the GLORY should belong to him forever, and we lift up these characteristics of God, knowing that he will show these things in our own lives, but to the entire world.
Maybe you’ve strayed, maybe intentionally, or maybe each day you’ve let yourself slip away from the Lord’s presence, whatever the case, sometimes it just begins with a prayer of faith, a verse of encouragement, but either way, he’s whispering for you, because he’s a Father who cares.