"Finish Strong!" This is what I keep telling myself over and over again. I need to finish strong, and keep looking forward to accomplishing this amazing opportunity of graduating with my Master's degree by next July (although I get to somewhat party with walking in May...oh yeah). One of the factors that continues to motivate me to finish strong this semester is the thought that I'll be in Guatemala for about two weeks in January with the School of Leadership at USD.
“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” Luke 16:8-9 (MSG)
I find this verse very relevant to my experience so far here in Nairobi, Kenya. As I tour around the city, I sense a hunger for spiritual things…yet very creative spiritual things. I was glad to hear that a majority of the people here are Christians. Yet, it is sad to see a country that is barely developed in the simple things such as a limit to clean water and stable road ways. As I was asking God to give me a verse, I was prompted to look for the word “creative.” Finding this verse I saw it fitting perfect for my first day here in Nairobi. People here are constantly on alert (especially when walking/crossing in front of cars nearly getting hit), spirituality is definitely at a high, and I can see that people here are doing what they must to survive.
Here’s what gets me the most…the potential for their creativity and what they could do with it to revolutionize this nation. So far that’s some of the questions I have for the students I’ll be interacting with the next few days, how is their creativity motivated? and how would they use their creativity to make a difference in their communities?
According to the book of Genesis we were made in the image of God. We have His characteristics engrained in us. One of those characteristics is creativity! We are a society that has come a long way in the last 200 years from Henry Ford and his Model T to Steve Jobs and his corporation of Apple. I mean, even someone put a bathrobe on backwards and developed the snuggie. Creativity is just something that is instilled in us naturally. So my question for myself, the students in Kenya, and for you would be…”Are you doing something with your creativity?“
*The photo attached is me in front the world’s largest (concentrated in population) slum, Kibera that consists of 1 million people. Tomorrow I will be going with my University of San Diego team to observe another local slum area…I ask you for your prayers in health, communication, and more importantly establishing an encouragement!
To all my family, friends, and readers of my blog! I know it’s been a few months since I’ve written anything, but here I am preparing myself for my first trip to Africa in the next 24 hours. I’m excited and confident in all that will take place during this trip. It’s not a usual missionary trip as we would expect, but rather it is a study abroad trip for a couple of weeks in which I will observe several schools on their instruction, curriculum, and school philosophy. My main project is actually to instruct teachers and students in how to use some of the ipads and ipods, we will be leaving as gifts, as a learning resource to enhance what they already are learning (or subjects their struggling with).
Ultimately, I know that God has given me a gift (and appreciation) for technology and to teach. I love putting those two together. More importantly, I have a love for people from all cultures and this is a great opportunity to exercise everyone of those aspects. I hope to keep you posted (depending on my internet access) through this blog and my youtube channel for vlogs.
If there is one request I have from you as a reader is that you keep me in prayer. Specifically for health, safety, and ministry opportunities. I hope to not only teach, but encourage, pray, and find solutions for the needs that may be encountered in such a trip!
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (ESV)
The gathering rendition of Lover of Your Presence by Bryan and Katie Torwalt.
I love this verse! And while, 80 percent of the time it’s been referenced in the use of relationships these past few months it’s had a whole new meaning in my life. This new meaning has brought up this question for every motive, every reason, and how I react to anything that has happened during this time period…“Chris, what’s the motive of your heart?” That question has tore me up, mended me up, and made me stronger.
Asking this question, has prepared me to make sure that my heart is in the right place to minister to anyone and everyone at any given moment. We all have our own issues, insecurities, and stuff that we’re ashamed of (doesn’t matter if they’re wrong decisions of sin, our past, or even our own culture…that’s another discussion for another time). Truth of the matter is that whatever it is, we constantly need to check ourselves and see if our heart is in the right place for ANY decisions we make in our lives.
With all that said today I heard an amazing message at my church, The Experience, in which we started a new series on “Idol Slayers.” If this is the last message I ever hear, that’ll be enough to get me through life (thankfully it isn’t). An amazing rubric to determine whether we’ve allowed idol’s in our lives is that if we hold value, significance, and worth to anything other than God. I know that my family holds value, significance, and worth to my life but no more than God. This rubric here leads me to keep a check over my college education, my successes, and current (along with future) relationships I find in my friends and my future spouse. It’s important to understand that we cannot “let a good thing in our life become the ultimate thing.”
The last question that was presented to me was “what would bring you despair?” Meaning, that if there was something that you lost today…your education, your 401k, a loved one, a relationship, or whatever…could you go on? The first answer that came to my mind when I heard this was…”God your daily grace and mercy!” I started to think how I valued my communion with God more than my education, my status, my car, and yes even my family. I hope to leave you pondering with what I’ve been hearing from God the last few months. “What’s the motive behind your heart?” & “What do we hold with value, significance, and worth?”
I should be writing a paper over a lesson plan I taught with an English Language Learner right now, but I thought I’d take a quick few minutes and see what was up with twitter. So I log on and I find that TJ Anglin is following me (probably because I started following him), and he’s seriously the strongest individual in the City of San Diego right now….don’t believe me check out this link
While on his twitter feed, I see that he retweeted one of his wife’s tweets (RIP Letta). So I view her twitter page and notice that she recommends this thought/blog by Pastor Steven Futrick. The title immediately grabbed my attention because that is the theme that God has been speaking to me about. It was the title of a message that I shared with at the UC Davis Chi Alpha (aka Davis Christian Fellowship) Fall Retreat this past October. However, what’s a crazy is that I looked at the date… “Oct. 17, 2011″… that’s the day Pastor Steven Furtick published his blog. I’m in shock because on Oct. 17th, 1999…that’s when I decided to give my life wholly to God in baptism. Not only that but it hasn’t failed that God allows me to have some crazy act of obedience on Oct. 17th’s. So with that said, here is the thought/blog that caught my attention from Pastor Steven Furtick….Enjoy, listen, and do something about it!!
Obedience Creates an Opportunity
His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
I think there’s a major misconception that exists about how God gives opportunities to His people to do something for Him. Many people want God to first give them great opportunities so they can display great obedience. But often until then, they won’t be obedient with what they’ve already been given.
Maybe it’s the church planter who wants to preach for 5,000 people before he’ll preach with faithfulness and excellence to 500 people. Or 50 people. Or 5 people.
Maybe it’s the person who would love for God to give him $1 million to be generous with, but won’t even be generous with the paycheck he is receiving right now.
Maybe it’s the college student who is willing to die for his faith in the Middle East, when he can’t even share his faith with his roommate.
If you read the Bible, it’s pretty clear that that’s simply not the way it works with God.
Joseph had to be faithful and obedient in slavery and prison before he was put in charge over Egypt.
David had to herd sheep before he killed a giant.
Stephen had to wait tables for widows before he defended his faith to the masses.
God won’t give you more to do for Him until you can do what He’s already given you to do.
Stop praying for a life of impact and do something impactful.
Stop praying for a bigger platform and use the one you’ve been given.
Stop praying for a better assignment and start performing better with the one you have.
Obedience creates opportunity, not the other way around.
Do something right now with what you have and watch the miraculous power of God multiply what you have. Be obedient with what God has given you, and He’ll give you more to be obedient with.
And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, “Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we’re off to such and such a city for the year. We’re going to start a business and make a lot of money.” You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, “If the Master wills it and we’re still alive, we’ll do this or that.” As it is, you are full of your grandiose selves. All such vaunting self-importance is evil. In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil. James 4:13-17 (MSG)
We all have plans, that’s just how we do life! I have plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas break, vacations, careers, goals, and dreams. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, we have to plan…however nothing is promised to us. Today, at our gathering we were given the news about a young couple who went to the hospital here in La Jolla to give birth to their second child.This has to be an exciting moment for the father, the little brother and of course the mother. Yet, this morning the news of tragedy is what made headlines. The mother passed away as she was giving birth to her second son. What should have been a joyous time to add to the family ended up being a time of mourning. My heart felt heavy, torn, and shattered as I heard this news. And note that I don’t even know this family but the thoughts of that pain the husband and father is going through felt overwhelming and I could see how it was tearing up some of my friends who were close to this family.
I began to reflect on my own life and how God spared me from a car accident. Other opportunities that I’ve shown myself to be obedient to the point where I’ve been humbled and humiliated. And seriously, I can say that I’m thankful for grace and mercy that has kept me alive, along with picking me up when I did humble myself. There’s such a freedom that comes when you realize that you have to make things right TODAY! There’s such a liberty to know that you only have to please God and that what other people think about you is none of your business. In a world where people want answers, others want to see you fall, or even you not succeed in your own dreams…it’s all good because tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. Rather, to live in the here and now is what I’m focusing on and what you should be too! I’m so thankful that I’ve been given this second chance to bring closure to things in my life that held my mind to a captivity that wasn’t from Him! I’m thankful that I have life now and that I said “I love you” to my family and showed appreciation to those who I care about! That’s another thing…giving love and encouraging people even when you don’t here a response. I don’t have to hear back from anyone because that’s what unconditional love is all about.
Really this morning, my mind was focused on two things. “Enjoy the here and now!” and that “there is no law against love!” What am I trying to say in all this…it’s simple, enjoy life today, make things right with God and those you care about, and demonstrate the love of God without expecting anything in return!
(If you’re wondering why the picture of the African child…it’s seriously becoming a stronger dream to go visit Africa and work in ministry/education there for a while. That’s my dream and plan, we’ll see what God wants)