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It is hard to believe that summer is gone and it is time to fight school traffic and all the joys that brings. But beyond the traffic and the lunches and the paperwork (yes, the same pages you filled out last year) there is something intimidating about this day for kids and parents as well.

For kids, there is the excitement of something new and challenging mixed with the fear of the unknown and the dread of homework.  But for parents, the intimidation is different.  It comes more in the form of losing control.  That child that has been under your exclusive care is now out of sight and the care is coming from someone else.  That is scary in many ways.  But take heart and find peace in the fact that God is never absent!  So today, when you feel that concern – simply pray.  The reality is – that is the best thing you can do for your kids – and yourself.

Lord God, I pray today that you will protect our kids. Please grow them into the responsible people you want them to become. Develop them into sincere followers of Jesus so they can make a difference in their schools, in our communities and in our world. And walk with us as parents today.  May we know the peace and comfort that comes with the realization that you have our kids in your hands.  Be with the teachers and administrators in our schools.  Strengthen them and guide them as the strive to pour into the lives of our kids!  Amen!

And It Continues

On Sunday, 7 kids and 3 adults loaded into a van in Littlefield, Texas and emerged a few hours later in the heart of the Metroplex. The task at hand? To serve people in Arlington through the ministries of Mission Arlington.

Day 1 was spent traveling and settling in but day 2 began with getting our assignment for the morning. We drove to an apartment complex in south central Arlington and stepped into a world somewhat foreign to the world our kids know. But they adapted and quickly jumped into building relationships with kids through playing soccer in the parking lot or coloring pictures with some. We sang songs and played games. We had a Bible story and prayed.

After lunch we headed to another apartment complex with 20 cases of avocados to give away. We went door to door (to well over 200 doors) giving away the fruit to anyone who wanted it. We had an opportunity to brighten the lives of many people all while serving. We prayed with some, talked with some and smiled a lot – even amidst the heat and humidity.

Day 3 took us back to the same apartment complex we had served the morning before and many of the same kids we met on Monday.

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In fact, Adrian and Frankie were ready to go when we got to their apartment. They were excited to see our group back for another day but I may have been more excited to see them than they were to see us. Frankie and I hit it off on Monday so I was looking forward to seeing them on Tuesday.

Our kids have begun to experience some pretty important realizations. Missions is not necessarily specialized work done by a select few in some foreign country. Missions is a lifestyle that should come naturally. Our ministry should be an outflow of the love we have for Jesus. And we don’t have to travel across the state to practice this lifestyle. We can serve others each and every day regardless of where we are standing.

Today is our last day. I wonder what God will do here?

What will God use you to do on your mission field today

And So It Begins

You haven’t lived until you have taken a group of 4th, 5th and 6th graders on a mission trip – well – that may be overstated. I’ll be able to confirm that in another day or two. I am writing this on Sunday night after a 6 hour drive in a van with 7 kids so it may be too early to tell.

Two other adventurous adults are along for the ride as well. They thought that it would be a good idea to bring a group of adolescents to Mission Arlington to experience getting out of our comfort zones and serving others less fortunate.

Now I know that there is no need to travel 6 hours away to serve others who need to see the love of Jesus. In fact, we should be showing the love of Jesus to everyone we meet each and every day. But there is something transformative in a person’s life when they are willing to go out of their way to serve. God blesses our efforts, as meager as they may be at times.

So today, I ask for your prayers. Pray that God will use these kids to speak into the lives of others. Pray that God will grow them through this experience. Pray that God’s hand of protection will overshadow each of us this week. And pray for the adults who bought into this vision in the first place.

I am holding to the hope that my opening statement will still be true two days from now. Right now, I am just wishing they would go to sleep!

Be a blessing today!

What does the Spirit of God look like? The Spirit has been described as wind and as fire. There is the accepted idea that the Spirit can’t be seen but just as we can see trees move and know the wind is affecting the change, so I believe we can see the Spirit’s moving and affecting change.

Yesterday in worship I witnessed the Spirit of God moving. I watched as a man with arms decorated with artwork made his way to the front of the church to share with our family that he wanted to be part of our community. I then watched as our family lined up to pass by him and hug his neck. The Spirit was busy.

And then later on in the day, I watched as I presented an idea to our church family for making a significant change to the way we do things. I was not nervous but I was cautious in presenting the idea because of the nature of this change. But I heard one after another endorsing the idea. The Spirit was moving each person present out of their comfort zones.

So what does the Spirit of God look like? I can’t say. But I can say that the affect of the Spirit’s movement is changed lives.

Let the Spirit move in you today!

Be blessed.

Today, my commute to the office was accompanied by a gentle, refreshing rain.  I could see through the streaks of rain running across my windshield how the ground was welcoming the moisture by changing colors – from it’s normal reddish sandy color to a deeper, richer brown.  Our land has been so dry for so long – it is a refreshing sight to see God’s blessing falling all around us.

As I have continued to reflect on God’s blessing, I am reminded that God showers blessings on us on a daily basis.  But how receptive are we of those blessings?  Or are we even aware of how God is at work all around us?

As we open our hearts to receive God’s blessings, we should begin to take on a different appearance.  Just as the soil welcomes moisture and is changed, our countenance should become deeper and richer.  Our faces should reflect God’s joy.  Our words should carry comfort.  Our actions should reveal compassion.

God is constantly blessing us.

How receptive will you be today?

Love and Light

Have you ever thought about what our world would look like if all the churches in it were focused on being God’s love and light?  At the risk of being labeled judgmental regarding the church, I have to wonder if all the churches on the planet are really being the church God ordained.  If they are, then why does our world look the way it does?  And understand, I am not looking past our walls and pointing the finger at all the other churches in the world.  The church in which I serve could do better as well.

God called us to be known by love and to be children of light.  Our world is suffocating – sin, corruption and evil are choking the life out of our culture and the love of God is the only hope of resuscitation.  People are groping around in darkness thinking this is as good as it gets when all along, we have the true light that illuminates life and offers direction.

When will the church wake up, rise up and live up to her calling?

I say today is the day!  I say it is time!  I say let it start with me!

We Have No Idea

A little over a week ago, I had the blessing to spend two days with pastors and their spouses in Juarez, Mexico.  I mentioned a little about it here.

As I have reflected on my time there and the relationships God continued and some that were begun, I have been drawn to pray for one couple in particular.  On Saturday morning of the retreat, sitting around the breakfast table, I listened to a couple who are struggling with a true dilemma.  They explained their situation.  The church in which he pastors is growing and they both feel God is blessing their work in the church.  But on another front, they have witnessed a terrible crime, they believe to be related to the violence that has plagued their city for the past six years.  If they approach the authorities, they will become targets themselves.  If they say nothing, they feel they are not fulfilling their ethical responsibility for justice.

While much of the communication was through a translator, I understand enough Spanish that I could pick up most of what they were saying.  But the anguish and concern they both displayed transcended any language barrier that might have been present.  The tears shed at that table over that hour were real.

I have continued to think about this couple and their situation and ask myself what I would do if I were in their situation.  I have to honestly say, I am not sure.  When I think about the fact that God promises to be with us always then I think, maybe I would stick it out.  Then I think about Jesus’ words pertaining to dealing with the world when he said to be as wise a serpents and gentle as doves.  God gave us a brain to be able to discern what is best.

What would you do?

Regardless of our answer, the main point I would make today regarding this story, is that I am reminded that here in the US, we really don’t have a clue as to what kind of persecution is happening around the world.  We struggle with carpet colors for the hallways or what temperature to keep the thermostat set on in the worship center so that the fewest people complain.  We wonder why people choose to have their children so involved in sports that they no longer have time for church activities.  And while they are frustrations, we really have no clue what real struggles are like.  We have it so easy.

Father, forgive me for my shallow faith.  Forgive me for being concerned about things that don’t really matter when all around me, people are struggling and need your hope and your salvation.  Make me a light today!

Amen

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