Archive for February, 2012
Good luck with that, there aren’t any.
If you hesitate when leaping from rope to another, you’re not going to last very long.
And this is at the heart of what makes innovation work in organizations, why industries die, and how painful it is to try to maintain the status quo while also participating in a revolution.
Gather up as much speed as you can, find a path and let go. You can’t get to the next rope if you’re still holding on to this one.
By Seth Godin
These words hit home so strong. There are so many words that I am finding in the most unlikely of places that are all saying the same things. Go for it. The timid only inherit regret. I’m realizing (because it’s literally in my face all the time) 2 things.
1. People who move and shake things are rarely understood and accepted by the majority.
2. If you want to be that person you must violently take whatever it is you want and not relent until you see your message/idea/dream/desire/whatever realized.
This can sound somewhat offensive and off-base but it is literally something the Lord has been telling me almost daily. There can be no hesitation or care for the repercussions. You must act on what you know to be right. It doesn’t matter if it’s theology, business, life, missions, dreams, whatever. The fact of the matter is you will stay small, insignificant, and unknown until something rises up in you to apprehend what you want with the utmost of force. These are things I have heard and read for years from people from the other side. People who have made the jump into greatness. They all say the same thing. Know what you want and get it. I (like a dummie) just now feeling it setting in. “They really mean you have to go after your dreams with everything to see them happen.” How many people make bucket lists and not only not do them but lose them and forget about them? How many people say, “I would love to see Europe someday” but spend all their money on flat screen tv’s and fast food? How many people remark that they would love to live overseas, volunteer at an orphanage, climb a mountain, bungee jump, have a business, be wealthy, publish a book, and the list goes on and on?
Everyone! Everyone wants to do something meaningful and lasting but so few do! I’ve been telling Sonja but really telling myself lately, “The great things cost more.” What I mean by is that to do big things you sometimes have to pay a big price. I’ve carried a message in my bones for nearly ten years now, I know I’m so young how can I have carried anything for ten years? But I mean it. It’s a message of the goodness of the Lord. At times I didn’t completely understand it and I still don’t completely but I know more now than I ever have, enough to articulate and to influence things. It’s this message that turned trusted friends and staunch supporters into backstabbers and hypocrites. It was retaliation to this message that caused the downfall of a valid and fruitful ministry. It’s this message has stirred up the ugliest of the ugly in people. And yet I cling to it. Why? Because I know it’s right. And I know that in 50 years this will be the new normal. I have no doubt of it. For the first time I feel the fires of the forerunner being stoked and focused. I’ve always felt the burn but now the flames have a purpose. I smile a little inside when someone disagrees with me and as we part they say, “I’m sure when we get to heaven we’ll all see things a little more clearly.” I smile because what they are really saying is that one day we’ll find out how we were both wrong. But the thing is, I’m not wrong on this one. And it’s that exact belief that is going to make this message a reality to a generation and generations to come. Personal conviction is a powerful, offensive, and effective key that I am only beginning to understand. I am no longer afraid to offend, I am afraid to betray this Message.
It’s not just this message that I feel this way about, it’s our whole life. It’s Sonja’s writing, my idea’s for life, business, and missions, both of our secret dreams that we’ve whispered only to each other. We are willing to take what we want and not take no for an answer. Yeah, yeah, all of you over 40 are thinking how headstrong I am and how much I have to learn about life. But let’s make a deal, in 20 years we’ll see if I’ve accomplished what I said I would do and if I haven’t I’ll join your doubting, self-loathing and excuse riddled little club. Harsh? Maybe, but harshness can often denote your level of passion. I hate inaction and empty plans. And I use my extreme dislike for people and words that never follow through to make sure I am never like that.
I told Sonja last week that I cannot go back to normal life. Even if after this season in Tanzania we feel called to the States I will not be found doing something ordinary. It’s like a switch was flipped inside me and it’s just something that will not happen, cannot happen. Whatever is next will be bigger, bolder, riskier, more rewarding, and more impactful than whatever it is we set our hand to in the past.
So I don’t know what I am trying to communicate here. Mainly that something inside me has changed, even in the last month and half that we’ve been here. The ships have been burnt. We’re not coming back the same people. We’re not coming back to dawdle around. Whatever we look to next will be significant, not just a 9-5, not business as usual, not Sunday church and a “God bless ya brother!” There is so much more than that. I would encourage you to ask God to stir the dreams in your heart. You may have forgotten your passion but God hasn’t. He put it there and is more than willing to revive it again. Most importantly ask for the conviction, fortitude, and determination to see it out. Dreams mustn’t stay in your head. They are the blueprints for reformation and revival.
So… Gather up as much speed as you can, find a path and let go. You can’t get to the next rope if you’re still holding on to this one.
Sonja and I returned yesterday from a quick 5 day trip to a village a good distance away from Moshi, where we live. I love village life. Without a doubt I could live the rest of my days in a mud hut and be utterably tickled. We were able to assist in the building of a house for an old mama who is taking care of 7 children on her own. Her own house was washed away by the rain (an unfortunate side-effect of mud bricks) and the community has been taking care of her and the children ever since. A father and daughter came from the states and had raised enough money to build this lady a very nice brick house. Work was halting so we found ourselves playing with the kids that had come to watch. We probably played with and loved on the kids more than we actually worked on the house.
One evening after work and ministry we walked to a nearby lake. Because of funky governmental stuff a lot of the lake had been drained considerably and turned into a massive meadow with a small creek running down the middle. We made our way through a herd of cows, sidestepping cow patties and abandoned boats that now sat surrounded by short, stiff grass. We walked all the way to the middle where the creek split the enormous meadow in half. The sun was just setting behind a small mountain range to the west and sky was aglow with vibrant orange and yellow. In the east were gray and white clouds that obscured a piercing full moon. The entire east was dark and blue, pregnant with the coming night. The easterly mountains seemed to give the moon a boost as it peeked its head from the last of the low lying clouds. And in the middle of those colors and mountain ranges was a simply massive meadow and in the middle of that meadow was a small muddy creek. Standing next to that creek was were we found ourselves, bathed in a completely surreal moment. The dust from 1/2 a dozen separate soccer games rose in the reddish light of the setting sun. Children everywhere squealed and darted and laughed.
It was between this moonrise and sunset that the rise and set of what we know as “civilization” has occurred. A forgotten people who have lived, worked, loved, begat, and suffered under the same sun that has fueled our Western growth. These people are as few as one old man with no food and nothing to his name but a plastic chair and a crumbling mud hut to as many as entire continents of overlooked people.
You will never know their name’s or their stories. You will never see their faces or feel their pain. But they exist right here, on the same planet that you wake up on, they suffer on.
What I love about places like Tanzania, Mexico, Mozambique or any other place where I have been that poverty dominates is the sharpness of contrast. The pain and suffering are so incredibly severe while joy and victory are so soaring that words hardly come close to appropriate. Sadly these are things you will never know until you go. The world’s best communicator can’t tell you. No book or movie can deliver to you the understanding of the pain and suffering that poverty inflicts. You must see it for yourself. You must hold the little girl who can’t hear or speak and has never known either of those functions. To see nearly every child in shreds of clothing with big bloated bellies will communicate something that I never could.
But oh the victory! Unfortunately you can’t understand the joy of holding that deaf-mute and whispering in her dead ear that she will hear. To see the broken be loved, the sick restored to health, and the poor given abundance is something too glorious for words. The smile on a woman’s face who has lost 3 of her 6 children means much more to me than the smile of a person who has known little to no loss.
Here we who know the difference are stuck in between 2 seemingly insurmountable mountain passes, with the dark of night on one hand and the setting of light on the other. We are in the middle of endless prosperity and dire poverty and the dust of a broken people rises in the fiery orange glow of sunset. It is hard for me to understand how this cannot be the one main focus of the church, if not the world. To bring an end to poverty, injustice, war, sickness, and death. I cannot see how anything could be more important. How do we justify our unnecessary indulgences? How do we balance living abundantly and laying down our lives for the lost? What really is the purpose of our lives? I don’t want to be alone in this. I want you too to feel the tension and the pain of a lost and forgotten people. I want you to give your time, money, and energy into something that matters not just another toy. I don’t want to be alone in the middle of the meadow. I want you to understand and to act here in between the rise and set.
Proverbs 14:31 He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, But he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.
I’ve been doing a lot of converting with currency lately. Here in Tanzania the numbers are big and it took some getting used to. For example 1,500 Tanzanian Shillings is about 1 US dollar. So a liter of milk is 3,000tzs, it can kind of throw you for a loop until you can get used to it.
I’ve also been forced to evaluate a lot of realities here. Realities that say things are a lot harder than you first imagined. Ministry threatens to be more difficult. Starting a movement or home or orphanage or ministry takes time, money, energy, and supporters.
And I’ve been thinking, “What is the currency and exchange rate of heaven?” There is a value system in heaven. The things we do on earth carry value and that value is reflected in eternity. So what carries weight? What is extremely valuable in the eye’s of the Lord? If you listen to KP Yohannen and many others who say that short term mission trips are hurting more than they’re helping you would think that people like me and Sonja carry little weight and have little influence on Heaven’s currency. The vibe from local missionaries I’m getting is that the most effective and sustainable form of ministry is training and releasing national leaders.
So I’m wondering what is the most valuable thing one can do in the Kingdom? Is it really training national leaders? For me, I don’t want to go somewhere where someone is at already. I don’t want to do something that someone else is already doing. I want to go where the bank account of the people is in the red, to those who have nothing, and I want to pour out there, where it’s needed most. So what is the most important thing?
I shared these thoughts with Sonja the other day and she was quiet as she thought about it for a second. Then she responded simply with, “I think love is the currency of Heaven”. I thought about it for a few and realized I couldn’t agree more.
Love is what everything runs on. It’s what the Father has in infinite reserve. It’s what fills the air, permeates our being and satisfies our soul. Love.
Actions are not measured by magnanimity of scale but by love poured out.
It’s almost as much of a head trip to pay 1,500tzs for a loaf of bread as it is to realize that God would send one person to the other side of the globe to love on one orphan one time just to show the depths of His love. He doesn’t care if He if it costs $10,000 to bring a hug and a kiss to where it is needed most.
A poverty mindset will force you into thinking that it’s not worth it to send inexperienced kids across the world for only 2 weeks of “menial” ministry with children. But when you realize the exchange rate you see that this thinking is silly at best. God’s desire for His children to be loved supersedes everything else. His love, converted into tangible needs like a plane ticket, a ministry, and food for the orphan and starving mean there is always enough. If His love is present there will most certainly be a way for that love to manifest. As long as His love is around there will be more than enough for plane tickets, living expenses, ministry costs, and whatever else living overseas tries to throw at you.
This is where I’m at. I know what is true and I’m doing my best to believe it. That is that I am valuable. What I do is valuable. And the people I love on are the most valuable people on the planet and that God will do whatever it takes to make sure they are loved. My job is to simply trust Him for provision, view my world with the eye’s of Love Himself, and do whatever it is He would do.
From what I hear the exchange rate is pretty good.