Devotional: What can God do through you?

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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My family and I went to church this past Sunday and was met with an incredible message. Like usual.

Saddleback Church is currently teaching angle of the Bible called “Everyday Heroes” – where God takes ordinary people like you and I and equips us to do meaningful work with His power, and not our own, limited capabilities. This squashes the excuses we give ourselves and others to why we can’t do things that matter, and eliminates the roadblocks to change our lives and that of others.

Below are a few verses from the Bible, takeaways from Pastor Buddy Owens, and my commentary on them.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us years ago.” (Eph. 2:10)

The call to be saved is the call to serve. When you accept Jesus into your life, your priorities change from being worldly, selfish, and/or short-sighted goals; to loving and serving others. And love is one of the only things that lasts far beyond our human lives and into eternity.

“He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20)

This is a reminder that we need to stop making decisions based on our own abilities or knowledge – they equal to only a grain of salt compared to the power and wisdom that God makes available to us if we tap into His grid (the Bible).

Not using it is like driving a car past a gas station on every corner, never stopping in, and running it until it’s dead on the road.

“Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years He gave them into the hands of the Midianites.” (Judges 6:1)

God is a loving parent who will take away things and put me in difficult situations to build my character, change my bad habits, and learn to depend on Him instead of other idols (possessions, power, prestige, etc.). This verse scares me a bit because I know I have to learn the hard way for many things. I’m super stubborn like that.

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12)

I love this verse – it gives me a lot of hope.

For context – this story is about Gideon, who is the youngest child in the weakest family in the smallest clan of Israel. By social status measures, he was an absolute nobody; but with no military training or no noteworthy strengths or skills of any kind, God still called him “mighty.” The reason why is because he didn’t fight the Lord’s battle on his own merit or with his own weapons, but humbled himself and let God’s power fight the fight.

And because of that, his small army of 300 men were able to defeat 135,000 enemy soldiers. That could only be won on faith and with God’s help.

“‘But sir,’ Gideon replied, ‘if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.'” (Judges 6:13)

This is the part in the Bible where Gideon complains about why his nation – the Israelites, supposedly God’s people – are being oppressed and why it seems as if their Heavenly Father has left them for dead. This reminds me of times where I feel discouraged, alone, angry, and neglected when something doesn’t happen the way I expected, or I don’t get what I worked hard for or did the right thing to achieve.

Pastor Buddy shares that Gideon doesn’t have the right perspective and isn’t looking at it from both sides. While he’s trying to victimize himself and shift blame, he forgets that his people have lost their way as well – in worshipping other idols, committing countless immoral transgressions, and not listening to His guidance. And like a loving parent who wants what’s best over what’s comfortable or pleasant for their child, God needs to take things away in order for their children to realize what they’ve done.

Gideon also forgot about the process and only cared about results and his circumstances, and that’s something I want to remember in my own situations. I need to first hold myself accountable for wrongdoings that may have caused my struggles in the first place; understand that God is putting me in the desert to build muscle, depend on Him, and teach me something valuable; and have faith that He is working everything in my life for the good.

There was also a section in the Bible where Gideon thought he heard God speak to him, but he wasn’t sure, and conducted a few tests with fleece and the ground. I won’t get into details of that exercise, but what I wanted to focus on was that Gideon didn’t doubt God, but he doubted his ability to hear Him.

It’s a healthy practice to find out whether ideas are truly answered prayer or not; and that I’m not trying to force my own agenda and sell myself and others on it, or that I am being seduced by the devil. That happens a lot.

“The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14)

When there is an idea that you are inspired by and know it’s answered prayer (for me – I get excited and consumed by a thought, it’s consistent with the Word, the current circumstances validate it, and it’s an opportunity to serve others), it most likely will be so big and far-fetched that you’ll feel incapable of achieving it.

Be excited to know that if the calling isn’t big enough, you’re not living by faith; if it scares you half to death, you’re probably on the right track; and if God has compelled you to pursue it, go with what you have and He will provide the resources needed to carry it out.

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” (Ecc. 11:4)

Don’t make excuses or wait for circumstances or levels of comfort in order to jump in when you know it’s what you should be doing. God isn’t looking for ABILITY; He is only looking for AVAILABILITY.

As Pastor Rick Warren says: “God’s will done God’s way never lacks God’s help.” If He’s sending you, then He’s obviously confident that you’ll get the job done, and I’d put my bet on that.

Devotional: When to move fast and when to move slow

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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Today’s devotional came from Daily Hope – messages taken from Pastor Rick Warren‘s sermons at our Saddleback Church. It’s how I get my daily bread when I can’t wake up to read at my leisure, have to be on the road somewhere, and still want to start my day with God.

Here is the message, and below are my takeaways.

* Don’t move fast if you are angry, stressed, or depressed; it almost never is an optimal result. Move slowly when you feel this way – because feelings lie and are temporary at best; and doing so creates time to ask God for His direction. And His wisdom is always better than ours.
* Whatever you aspire to do, consult with people who have done it before you. You are not meant to go at anything alone; it will save from critical, avoidable, and stupid mistakes; and God speaks through other people as well – use this valuable resource.
* The Bible says to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). Most of us do the exact opposite of these principles and that’s why there are so many relational rifts on all levels – in business, in the work environment, in politics, family, etc.
* When you are slow to speak you have a better understanding; you are thoughtful; and you give God a chance to enter and say the right things through you.
* What is happening in my life right now right need to slow down?
* Proverbs 4:26 says: “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet…” If you carefully consider your decision, you have a better chance at success. Ask yourself what you need to do today in order to achieve what you want tomorrow. Ask if what you’re doing right now is honoring your goals.
* After you’ve planted that seed, be patient and trust God. Know that the season in which you sow is different from the season you reap. Don’t constantly dig up the seed to see if it is growing. Know that whatever you plant you will always get back more than what you put in – be it negative or positive.
* On the flip side, know what needs to happen immediately, like following your purpose or keeping God’s commands. Partial or delayed obedience is still disobedience, and a blockade for God’s blessing.

Throwback: Book of promises & blessings

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on June 8th, 2014 (three years ago), Saddleback Church sent me a list of promises in the Bible that God has made to us. Pastor Rick Warren reminds us that we can’t enjoy all of the benefits of something unless we read the instruction manual; and to read this list gives me so much comfort, protection, and love for my Heavenly Father.

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We don’t deserve God’s blessings.

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16 (NIV)

But God enjoys blessing his children and wants to bless you!

“I will enjoy blessing them. With all my heart and soul I will faithfully plant them in this land.” Jer. 32:41 (GW)

“My blessings are for Gentiles, too, when they accept the Lord; don’t let them think that I will make them second-class citizens. They can be as much mine as anyone.” Isaiah 56:3 (LB)

God promises to bless you IF you follow his instructions. Every promise has a premise. There’s a condition attached.

“You will experience all these blessings IF you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in your towns and in the country. You will be blessed with many children and productive fields. You will be blessed with fertile herds and flocks. You will be blessed with baskets overflowing with fruit, and with kneading bowls filled with bread. You will be blessed wherever you go, both in coming and in going. The Lord will conquer your enemies when they attack you… And the Lord will bless everything you do and will fill your storehouses with grain.” Deuteronomy 28:2-8 (NLT)

God wants to bless you visibly in front of others as a testimony.

*“Lord, you have stored up great blessings for those who honor you. You do much for those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.”* Psalm 31:19 (NLT)

God blesses you so you can be a blessing to others!

“I will cause my people and their homes around my holy hill to BE a blessing. And I will send showers, showers of blessings, which will come just when they are needed.” Ezekiel 34:26 (NLT)

God’s blessing can be passed on to generations. You can create a legacy.

“After Abraham’s death, God poured out rich blessings on Isaac.” Gen. 25:11 (NLT)

It’s never too late to start living a God-blessed life!

“The Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the first half of his life.” Job 42:12

God promises to bless my life IF I meet with him daily.

“Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching DAILY at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Prov. 8:34

God promises to bless my life IF I study and do his Word.

“Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his word he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Ps. 1:1-3

“The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25

God promises to bless my life IF I tithe my income.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malachi 3:10

God promises to bless my life IF I help others in need, especially the poor.

“God blesses those who are kind to the poor and helpless. He helps them out of their own troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies.” Psalm 41:1-2

“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Prov. 22:9

God promises to bless my life IF I share the Good News.

“I pray you will be active in sharing your faith, so that you will fully understand every blessing we have in Christ.” Philemon 1:6

“The man who PLANTS and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” 1 Cor. 3:8

Good people bless and build up their city.” Prov.11:11

God promises to bless my life IF I participate in fellowship with other believers.

“I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other.” Rom 1:12

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed IF you DO them.” John 13:17

SOME OF THE MANY VERSES ON BLESSING IN THE BIBLE

“The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” Proverbs 10:22 (NIV)

“For those who are always generous and lend freely, their children will be blessed.” Psalm 37:26 (NIV)

“If you return to the Almighty, you will be blessed again. So remove evil from your house.” Job 22:23 (NCV)

“Even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” Luke 11:28 (NLT)

“(Help the unfortunate…) and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:14 (NIV)

“Give freely and spontaneously. Don’t have a stingy heart. The way you handle matters like this triggers God, your God’s, blessing in everything you do, all your work and ventures.” Deut. 15:10 (Mes)

“Worship the Lord your God and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.” Exodus 23:25 (NIV)

“‘Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

“Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” Deut. 15:10 (NIV)

“Happy are those who respect the Lord and obey him. You will enjoy what you work for, and you will be blessed with good things.” Psalm 128:1-2 (NCV)

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12 (NIV)

“If they listen and obey God, then they will be blessed with prosperity throughout their lives. All their years will be pleasant.” Job 36:11 (NLT)

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” Job 5:17 (NIV)

“Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers.” Psalm 1:1 (GW)

“Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” Psalm 40:4 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who dwell in your house to worship; they are ever praising you.” Psalm 84:4 (NIV)

“Give freely to the poor person, and do not wish that you didn’t have to give. The Lord your God will bless your work and everything you touch.” Deut. 15:10 (NCV)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12 (NIV)

“If the place of worship is too far from your home for you to carry there the tithe of the produce that the Lord has blessed you with, then do this: Sell your produce and take the money with you to the one place of worship.” Deut. 14:24-25 (TEV)

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.” Psalm 89:15 (NIV)

“Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.” Psalm 106:3 (NIV)

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.” Psalm 128:1 (NIV)

“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.” Psalm 41:1-2 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32 (NIV)

“Each of these blessings depends on your not turning aside in any way from the laws I have given you; and you must never worship other gods.” Deut. 28:14 (Living)

“Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law.” Psalm 94:12 (NIV)

“It is sin to despise one’s neighbors; blessed are those who help the poor.” Proverbs 14:21 (NLT)

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35 (NIV)

“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Prov. 22:9 (NIV)

“Good people will be generous to others and will be blessed for all they do.” Isaiah 32:8 (NLT)

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom and gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 (NIV)

“A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
Proverbs 28:20 (NIV)

“The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous.” Proverbs 3:33 (NIV)

“People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.”
Proverbs 11:26 (NIV)

“He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.” Proverbs 14:21 (NIV)

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.”
Proverbs 16:20 (NIV)

“An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end.” Proverbs 20:21 (NIV)

“It will go well with those who convict the guilty and rich blessing will come upon them.” Proverbs 24:25 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” Proverbs 28:14 (NIV)

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.” Jeremiah 17:7 (NIV)

“The best of all the first fruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.” Ezekiel 44:30 (NIV)

“Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deut. 16:17 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on is word he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”’ Malachi 3:10 (NIV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:3-11 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 (NIV)

“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed.”’ John 20:29 (NIV)

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'” Acts 20:35 (NIV)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephes. 1:3 (NIV)

“The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25 (NIV)

“Even if you should suffer for what is right, you will be blessed.” 1 Peter 3:14

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1 Peter 4:14 (NIV)

“If you can’t carry that ten percent of your harvest to the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped; if you live too far away, or if the Lord gives you a big harvest, then sell this part and take the money there instead.” Deut. 14:24-25 (CEV)

“You should be happy to give the poor what they need, because then the Lord will make you successful in everything you do.” Deut. 15:10 (CEV)

“… Each man is to bring a gift as he is able, in proportion to the blessings that the Lord your God has given him.” Deut. 16:16-17 (TEV)

“Obey the Lord your God so that all these blessings will come and stay with you: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. Your children will be blessed, as well as your crops; your herds will be blessed with calves and your flocks with lambs. Your basket and your kitchen will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and when you go out. The Lord will help you defeat the enemies that come to fight you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will run from you in seven directions. The Lord will bless you with full barns, and he will bless everything you do.” Deut. 28:2-8 (NCV)

“I will also bless the Gentiles who commit themselves to the Lord and serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who have accepted his covenant.” Isaiah 56:6 (NLT)

“A beautiful palace does not make a great king! Why did your father, Josiah, reign so long? Because he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him.” Jeremiah 22:15 (NLT)

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Good will comes to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.” Psalm 112:1-9 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed.” Proverbs 3:13-18 (NIV)

“The memory of the righteous will be a blessing.” Proverbs 10:7 (NIV)

“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Proverbs 16:20 (NIV)

“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” Proverbs 21:21 (NIV)

“Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'” Luke 14:12-14 (NIV)

“You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.” 2 Cor. 9:11 (CEV)

“The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25 (NIV)

“If the place of worship is too far from your home for you to carry there the tithe of the produce that the Lord has blessed you with, then do this: Sell your produce and take the money with you to the one place of worship.” Deut. 14:24-25 (TEV)

“Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deut. 16:17 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2 (NIV)

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” Proverbs 3:13 (NIV)

“Blessed are those who keep my ways.” Proverbs 8:32 (NIV)

“They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” Psalm 37:26 (NIV)

“The best of all the first fruits will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.” Ezekiel 44:30 (NIV)

“Give freely without begrudging it, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor and with others in need.” Deut. 15:10-11 (NLT)

“Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in his times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.” Psalm 41:1-2 (NIV)

“Good people will be generous to others and will be blessed for all they do.” Isaiah 32:8 (NLT)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 (NIV)

“I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other.” Romans 1:12 (NLT)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”’ Mal. 3:10 (NIV)

“The best of all the first fruits will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household.” Ezekiel 44:30 (NIV)

“You will be blessed in every way, and you will be able to keep on being generous. Then many people will thank God when we deliver your gift.” 2 Cor. 9:11 (CEV)

“If the place of worship is too far from your home for you to carry there the tithe of the produce that the Lord has blessed you with, then do his: Sell your produce and take the money with you to the one place of worship.” Deut. 14:24-25 (TEV)

“God blesses those who are kind to the poor and helpless. He helps them out of their own troubles. He protects them and keeps them alive; he publicly honors them and destroys the power of their enemies.” Psalm 41:1-2 (LB)

“Give freely without begrudging it, and the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some among you who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share your resources freely with the poor and with others in need.” Deut. 15:10-11 (NLT)

“Now that you know these things, you will be blessed IF you DO them.” John 13:17

Throwback: Rwanda- and purpose-bound

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on May 23rd, 2013 (four years ago), after I had asked my CEO Dan Rowe for a temporary leave to prepare for and serve on a missionary trip in the country of Rwanda – where a team of us spent time with the poor and helped them build sustainable preschools that hopefully gave them life-changing power.  

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I had a hope that reset blog would be done just in time for my mission trip to Africa; and thanks to making time and an amazing web site designer, it met the deadline.

I am very entrepreneurial and hard-working by nature; and I used to subscribe to the philosophies of: “I work 80 hours a week so that I can avoid working 40 hours;” “I can sleep all I want when I’m dead;” “Work now so that you can enjoy life later;” and a host of other Kool-Aid flavors I was drinking and getting unhealthy sugar-highs from.

There are a series of events that happened in my life that caused me to change all that – and I’ll save that for future blog posts – but learning the hard way, finding my way back to God, being introduced to Tim Ferriss and the 4-Hour Workweek philosophy, Zen Habits, and other signs and nudges…compelled me to make some major, major changes.

For the focus of this blog post, I’ll mention the major one: I changed employers.

Whereas I used to work for Fransmart full-time as their Senior Director – I am now working full-time for God and serving people. Fransmart gives me work I enjoy, and I do quite successfully at it – but my main purpose is to do eternity-based work that I was created to do, and money does not last.

What lasts are God, His Word, and people. That’s a compensation that no firm on earth can match; a retirement that lasts forever; work that is recession proof; and work that is truly meaningful.

It was scary and I am taking a huge risk and leap of faith…but I have confidence that God will provide. And so far, because of the move to leave my career, Fransmart generously offered to keep me on payroll as an advisor. I’ve learned that I don’t need too much money to be happy (in fact, it may be a hindrance, actually); I am no longer stressed by and make any money-based decisions (and those type of decisions are always poorly-played out); and I am thoroughly enjoying my new lifestyle.

One of my biggest life decisions was to go on a mission trip to Rwanda to build preschools for the materially poor children there. It’s an initiative under The PEACE Plan via Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California – one of the biggest churches in America. The idea that I could be used by God to bring people closer to Him; lift the materially poor out of poverty and its horrible effects (sex/labor trafficking, drugs, violence, gangs, etc.); help people become self-sustainable; and in the meantime work on my own brokenness, because I have issues, too…I couldn’t think of a better use of my time, than time spent with and for Him.

 

It’s crazy – I don’t know anything about construction, school planning, caring for children, teaching, etc. but I love children and knew that God would fill in the gaps and details.

And fill in, He did – God has blessed this initiative above and beyond, and I haven’t even touched down in Kigali, yet:

  1. For me, He used my love and knowledge of social media, business, and marketing to build awareness and shared excitement for this and future trips. I believe He’s been working on me in preparation for this – and spiritual maturity takes time.
  2. Financially, the initiative has gotten so much monetary support – that not only are the intended project needs met, there are enough funds to build 1 more school than initially planned (I am out there to follow-up on 3 schools already up and running, and identify sites for 3 more). I am so humbled by God’s people and their like-heartedness, and the power of prayer.
  3. And for my team – teachers, child psychologists, and people who have been to Rwanda have joined my team and will be working alongside me.

Whoa. Talk about getting hooked up.

I am currently typing this blog post from my plane flight from New York City to Brussels, before making the final connection from there to Kigali, Rwanda. I’m not sure how the Internet access will be there; nor will I know if I’ll even have time to write – as I might be out all day working – but I am honored to be doing this mission and sharing it with you.

You can keep your job; but reset your answer when asked who you are truly working for.

Throwback: The power of prayer

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on May 23rd, 2013 (four years ago), after I had asked my CEO Dan Rowe for a temporary leave to prepare for and serve on a missionary trip in the country of Rwanda – where a team of us spent time with the poor and helped them build sustainable preschools that hopefully gave them life-changing power.  

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I don’t want to underestimate the power of prayer anymore.

People usually only pray when they are in the deep trenches of trouble – I am guilty of that crime as well. But if God always answers prayers, shouldn’t we:

1. Pray more often to increase our chances of success?
2. Pray first, before worrying about or doing anything? And
3. Turn down the world’s volume, so that you can hear what He’s telling you?

I’m currently reading a book called “Be Determined: Standing Firm In The Face Of Opposition” by Warren W. Wiersbe. It’s a dissection of the Bible’s story of Nehemiah, and it’s also a devotional for my PEACE Preschools Rwanda team while we are there serving.

It’s such an encouraging book, and I urge you to read it. But for the sake of this post…

It talks about how Nehemiah was so in love with Christ that he prayed before he took any actions, before he freaked out about obstacles in the way, and simply prayed just to give thanks. And he was heavily blessed in the process.

If God encompasses everything and makes all things possible, why aren’t we leaning on him more?

Let’s reset the idea of what prayer is all about – it’s not a ritual where you’re just citing some memorized, unpersonal verse; it’s a conversation with Him, it’s a request of Him, and it’s a worshipping of Him.

There’s no wrong way to praise Him – He’s willing to listen…if you’re willing to speak with Him.

In fact, you can even yell and be pissed off at Him – it’s in these angry moments that you become closer to and have a real relationship with Him.

Prayer has allowed me to: (1) leave my job temporarily in confidence and serve Him; (2) receive more donations than I needed for my mission trip to Rwanda; (3) love people more; (4) endure the most difficult times of my life; and (5) take away so much stress and unnecessary roadblocks in my way.

As a side benefit, prayer has forced me to be more patient and wait for God. I’m the type who likes to move fast, get things done and moving, and see results. By praying and waiting on the Lord, I am learning to not go faster than He wants me to go…and in the process, I make less mistakes; receive more blessings on the way that I might’ve overlooked; and I know for a fact that I’m not doing it alone.

“He that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isa. 28:16)

“Stand Still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” (Ex. 14:13)

“Sit still…until you know how the matter will turn out.” (Ruth 3:18 NKJV)

This is one of the easier RESETS with infinite ROI. You can pray about anything you’d like, right away.

Rest, recharge & redirection 

Good morning to the my audience of three (the blog reader who stumbled on this by accident, my dog Sugar who was sitting on my lap when I wrote this, and myself when I was editing lol!) #sosad

Pastor Rick Warren at my Saddleback Church has always reminded me that in order to know how something works and what the function of something is, you need to consult the Owners Manual. And with that logic, if God is my Creator, then it’d be wise to look to the Bible to see what I was built for and how to use me correctly so that I don’t miss my purpose or harm myself or others.

It’s a combination of being young, immature, and too proud; being seduced to get my guidance elsewhere; and needing to hear it 1,000 times before it seeps in (I’m quite stubborn)…but I never really tried to read the Bible, interpret it, and apply it until recently.

And just like meditation, exercising, etc…it’s been life-changing.

Here’s a Bible verse that I’m going to try and memorize, keep it in my heart, and use it to drive everything I do this week and beyond. Hoping it does wonders for your soul as well, and inspires you to open the Bible so that God can open His mouth.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me besides still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the right paths for His name’s sake” (Psalm 21:1-3).

How can I not be comforted and secured by this passage? Not “most” or “some” of my needs are met – ALL of them are…so I can stop looking in all sorts of unhelpful, unhealthy, and unusual places.

We are a product of our environment, and if our surroundings are beautiful (green pastures) and nourishing (still waters) – then we can truly relax.

Many things can recharge my body and mind i.e. Nutritious foods, meditation, exercise – but they are only temporary, and God isn’t about short-term leases. He goes past the physical, mental, and emotional layers of my my being and makes sure my soul revving at 100%. That’s more sustainable and powerful.

And most importantly, he eliminates stress, uncertainty, and lost time and energy by putting me in the right direction.

I truly don’t need to look anywhere else for provision. You can’t get a better deal than this.