how our dreams shape us…

i was reading joshua 1 last week where God tells Joshua that Moses is dead and he is now in charge and will lead the people into the promised land.  what kept sticking out to me was the fact that God tells Joshua to enter the land that God had promised them but to be, “strong and courageous.”  he says it three times in the first nine verses!  now, why would Joshua need to be strong and courageous if he was about to enter the “promised land?”  this was the cumlination right?  i mean, they had escaped Egypt, walked through the desert for 40 years so i figure the destination should be a walk in the park right?  NO!!!

as i read through this passage over and over again, i started to see how God was telling Joshua to be strong and courageous in keeping His word; making sure that he doesn’t stray from it at all.  he didn’t say, “be strong and courageous” and go and build up your army.  he calls Joshua to trust in Him and to keep His word. what does this have to do with entering into the promised land?  maybe more than we think…

maybe the pursuit of our dreams has just as much to do with our formation as it does with reaching the destination.  maybe our formation is the purpose for God even giving us the dream/destination in the first place.  maybe walking 40 years in the desert was preparing everyone to trust in God’s provision every day rather than reacting to the environment. He keeps saying that He’s with us and will never leave us or forsake us.  But do we “believe” Him?  Do we “trust” Him?  More often than not, we don’t.  We give in to our fear, the circumstance and believe what we see rather than what we hear from God.  So, maybe God is constantly working to transform our life so that we’re looking to Him rather than what lies before us. Our dreams, then, have just as much to do with changing us as they do with changing the world around us…

remember where you came from…

where do you see yourself in a story?  i believe that more often than not, we assume the role of the hero and the protagonist.  so, when we read the Bible, we always ask ourselves the question of “what would Jesus do?” and live our lives from that perspective.  i was reading the story of the samaritan woman at the well in John 4 and my first instinct was, “i should talk to people that are social outcasts because that’s what Jesus did and would do.”  but as i read the story over and over again, i started to realize that if my perspective changed, so would my life.  i started to realize that i am the samaritan woman.  i have the tendency to isolate myself because of sin.  i am in desperate need of a savior.  i am lost and now found because of Jesus.  i don’t get what Jesus is saying to me all the time and can’t always see beyond what my physical brain understands.  i am the outsider…

knowing that i’m lost and in need of Jesus for my life changes the way i look at everything and everyone.  i think that there’s a difference when we look at those on the margins and find them to be different than us.  i think there’s a loss of humanity that occurs when we no longer know where we came from.  i think that we’ll have a limited compassion and see life from an egocentric worldview instead of a relational one.  we’ll never truly be able to love the way Christ calls us to love unless we know our own need for Him at every moment.

so, as i think about my brothers and sisters who are orphans, widows, homeless, and poor…  they are more than a recipient of my ministry…  they are my family, they are human, they are dearly beloved children of God…

Dreams and Fears…

Our church is launching a new teaching series on ‘Fear’.  As we launch this new series, we’re asking people that we connect with over the internet to join us in the conversation.  We’re hoping to hear your visions and dreams that are lying dormant because of fear and we’re also hoping to name the fears that are preventing you from living out those dreams.  You can join in here at my blog by posting comments, our facebook group, or follow us at twitter.  Either way, I hope you’re willing to join us as we discover our fears as well as discover what the Scriptures say about dealing with them.
So, to get things kick started, I thought I’d share a fear of mine that prevents me from being free with my thoughts, words, and ministry.  I have a dream of this church (convergence) and in my journey to plant this church; I’ve encountered my own fears of criticism and rejection.  My fears of rejection actually prevent me from writing, talking, and broadening my communication of this message that I believe that God has given me.  It’s so crazy.  I sometimes catch myself deleting words that I’ve written for blogs, sermons, and other communication because I feel like “It’s not perfect enough” or because I convince myself that it won’t amount to much.

my dream is for a church that reflects our city (Oakland) in all of its diversity.  my hope is for a community of faith that would seek Christ with every ounce of its being.  i imagine a community that serves their city and emanates the compassion, mercy, and justice of Christ.

what are you dreams?   what are your fears?  let’s help one another live the life that God calls us to live.  let’s serve one another by breaking down the barriers that prevent us from living our fullest life.  let’s be liberated and liberate!!!

shortsidedness…

i spent last thursday and friday at our denominational conference (PSWC) annual celebration.  it was a powerful time of listening, praying, and reflecting.  one deep conviction that is brewing in me since then is the importance and need to pray more.  i wrestle with this because most of the time nothing “happens” DURING my prayer time.  i’m always hoping that something miraculous will happen on the spot.  don’t get me wrong…  i think that there are moments where revelation and miracle happens in the midst of prayer, but for the most part, i don’t “feel” or “see” anything change during my time of prayer.

as part of the celebration, they honored our previous superintendent (John Notehelfer).  They particularly emphasized the fruit of his prayers in us ten years later.  it was at that moment that i realized that i am so shortsided.  i always want things to happen now.  i always feel like it’s pointless if things don’t change right before my eyes.  i think that it’s more productive to focus on what i can accomplish and finish quickly.  but real, lasting, impactful transformation happens through the power of God and the Holy Spirit.  and, it may not happen in a moment.  and it definitely happens when God’s people fall on their knees and pray. i mean, God calls us to this posture for healing of our communities:

“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

so, maybe we if we can get beyond the shortsidedness of our “quick results” oriented life, we’d get on our knees and truly know in our hearts that it makes a difference in our world when we pray…

can silence change the world???

we live in an age where efficiency and effectivity are the marks of success.  speed to delivery, visible change are all things that make me wonder sometimes if our spiritual activity changes anything.  i was reading some henri nouwen over the weekend and he talks about silent prayer and how silence actually changes us.  it was incredibly profound to think that God speaks to us in silence.  we’re constantly listening to a barrage of voices.  we listen to emails, txts, tweets, fb updates, websites, blogs, billboards, tv, movies, news, etc.  we’re bombarded by so much stuff that to sit in silence is outrageously difficult and painful.  there’s a detox or an “unplugging from the matrix” that is liberating and clarifying in so many ways.  i believe that by pursuing God in this venue that we ultimately change; thus, creating change in the world around us.  can silence change the world?  i believe it can.  as much as our productivity changes things, so can silence and the choice to stop and center ourselves on Christ.

i’m spending this week (passion week) in extended times of prayer (silence) and fasting.  as i enter into this week, i’m believing more and more that what we do in our spirit (spiritual disciplines) affects the world around us more than we recognize or choose to believe…

Change Happens…

Steve (dignitas country director) & tiffany (dignitas executive director) handing out new textbooks yesterday

Steve (dignitas country director) & tiffany (dignitas executive director) handing out new textbooks yesterday

when people make intentional choices to do so.  if you don’t alread know, last year i co-founded a non-profit organization called the dignitas project.  we work to help restore dignity that has been lost or taken away by and from children of impoverished communities.  our first project is in a slum area in Nairobi, Kenya known as Mathare.  we work with the community and help catalyze indigenous leadership that will help improve education and life for the next generation.  it’s an incredible privilege to work with some of the most passionate leaders i’ve ever

Students Taking Home New Textbooks

Students Taking Home New Textbooks

encountered.  everyday, these young leaders give everything they have and everything they are to the betterment of Mathare.  they are constantly investing the next generation.  it’s humbling because i typically serve/volunteer/give out of my excess rather than my core.  though some of these leaders may look to me for leadership and insight, i have learned so much from my fellow leaders on the ground.  i’m writing to let anyone who reads this know that this week our partner schools have received new textbooks.  textbook ratios for our schools were anywhere from 40-100 students to 1 textbook.  no, it’s not a typo and yes, it is completely unjust or downright wrong!!!  how can we create change?  how can we help fight injustice in this world?  how can we change the future for children who are radically affected by poverty?  by making intentional choices of getting involved.  change happens when we change our current course and give ourselves away…  take a look at our current cause.  we are still trying to raise more money to provide more textbooks.  help us change lives today!!!  go to our site and blog to donate or check out our cause on facebook