The End of The Day

The end of January can feel celebratory if the year is off to a jump start! But it can also feel deflating if the resolutions, goals and hopes for a new year are not being met. The truth is, the way you finish the year is much more important than how you begin. This is also true for our days – and at the end of a day, we always know the sunset is not the end of the story.

One night in Israel, the sun set fantastically along the horizon as we floated on the Jesus-Replica on the Galilean Sea. Two thousand years ago, the sun set on that same horizon line with Simon Peter, Thomas and Nathanael squashed together on a boat too small to host their discouraged and wearied hearts. The Son of God had hung high on a Roman Execution tree just days earlier, his blood mixing with tree bark and the disciples’ tears mixing with deep confusion. All was lost. The darkness of the night seemed inescapable. However, just as sure as the sunset promises a new sunrise, the disciples were about to see a Great Son Rise too. Discouragement can sweep in from all sides of life and the battles we face can rage. The darkness can feel encompassing, but be assured, the Sun will rise because the Son did rise. Hours after the sun went down around the disciples, light broke upon the shores of the sea and God himself stood in flesh. He was made new, and the disciples raced to the shore to experience communion and intimacy with Christ over a fish breakfast. Similarly, God can make every piece of your life and circumstances new through your intimate connection to him, made possible by the darkest night of all followed by the Greatest Son Rise known to man. With God, the dark night is never the end of the story.

Stop Signs

Stop signs can feel so annoying when you are in a hurry to get somewhere. No one rejoices at the blinking of a big old red light. But The lights are actually what keep us safe and allow us to travel with peace and security. Often, The stop signs we face in life feel limiting when in fact they are the protection we need to navigate with wisdom and to receive guidance from God. It’s often at those stop lights that we take a moment to reflect and even redirect our route to go where we most need to be and to do the things that are best to do. I’m learning to love the stop lights and learning to trust they are for my good and benefit. God has placed stop lights strategically and with love and they are more important than they seem.

“You gave your good spirit to instruct them.” – Nehemiah 9:20

Marching in Haiti

“You are not merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” – Woodrow Wilson

It’s funny how quickly an incredible job and unparalleled opportunity can be taken for granted.

How often do I “impoverish myself”?

Impoverished … Poverty.

Many people think of third world countries as “impoverished”.

I remember Haiti after the earthquake… I remember the image that has stayed with me ..

Hundreds of Haitian children wearing bright blue uniforms marching around the school field … Children in the community chosen to be sponsored to go to school. They marched with confidence, they had been chosen. They marched with purpose; they got to “learn”. They marched with pride; they made the cut. Unfortunately, many others were not as fortunate. Those less fortunate knew the value of being in “the group”. They too wanted to walk with confidence, purpose and pride.   As young as they were, they knew the ones with the bright blue uniforms had “the edge”.

Marching off to the side was a little boy in tattered clothes. He did not get sponsored. He was looking from the outside in, at the children with the “slight edge” in life. He was trying to get the right footing, trying to join in. He must have wondered what it would be like to have the edge, however slight.

Poverty is not always about finances.

“True poverty is an acceptance of meager possibility. It is a lack of courage and personal vision – it is being governed by the belief that you don’t have enough.” – Graham Cooke

This week, our math class rolled back to school a little sluggish. Most of us weren’t feeling the wonder of opportunity, the priviledges of Canada, learning opportunities or community. Most of us were feeling tired and disengaged.

Our feelings dictate our actions and behaviors – they matter – and we can change them!

I asked my students whether they would rather be strong physically or mentally. At first, several of them said they would prefer to be physically buff – imagining a ripped physique and intimidating muscles the world would envy. After some discussion, we surmised mental strength will propel a person further in the world and produce happiness that physical strength alone can’t generate.

So we pulled out our gratitude journals and we wrote. And we wrote. And we wrote. And the room changed and the list-toppers were shared and we felt like the high-knee marchers from Haiti. Confident, Purpose and Pride – Aliveness.

Sometimes I have felt like the boy marching on the outside of the fence – I haven’t known where to put my feet, or what decisions to make. It’s not easy to take steps when you don’t know the outcomes. However, Paul says in 1st Corinthians the best life is experienced when we Live by faith and not by sight –and we take the small steps of faith – like practicing gratitude – when we can’t instantly see the benefits or consequences of our decisions.

Life is generally not about taking leaps and bounds, but about the moments you edge forward slightly, because of a series of small decisions that lead to growth.

It’s in the small steps that strength is built, the mind is renewed, and the heart feels full. It’s out of these moments that motivation comes to engage at work, to notice blessings and to be the blessing.

Motivation comes to pick up a small blue sponsor card with a picture of a little boy in tattered clothes from Haiti standing outside a fenced area…

Maybe I needed to see his marching so I could avoid living impoverished.

Maybe His poverty and my poverty can be expelled together.

Maybe his marching tall outside the fence taught me to march tall in my life.

Maybe, just maybe, if we both continue to march tall and take slight edge steps – we really can live with the words of Woodrow Wilson: You are not merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope.

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2018 Praise Promise

The hospital room was quiet and dim. A man who spent his whole life farming, feeding, growing, leading, and singing sat in a small Saskatchewan hospital room with flowers and cards on the wall on New Years Eve. He knew me, my sweet uncle.

A few years earlier – we had sung together on Christmas Eve. We sang his favorite Christmas worship song boisterously, Go Tell It On The Mountain. My aunt Vera, who passed just over a year ago, had bobbed with marked enthusiasm as we harmonized.

This New Years Eve – his sparkless eyes met mine with weariness. I asked several questions, but he was having a hard time hearing and understanding me. It seemed unlikely to bring life this difficult hospital room.

I remembered The Christmas Gospel chant.

Mountain Measurer becomes Creative Carpenter. The love song. Grace.

I asked my uncle to sing. His eyes grew large and his voice bounced down the hospital walls and halls.

And we sang, Go Tell It on The Mountain.

And the Gospel lived loud in the silent hospital on New Years Eve.

And we joined the choirs in paradise where Vera lives now.

And God reminded me, I can count on His promise.

Whatever 2018 may bring you – supernatural joy is at your disposal and praise will lead you there.

Praise births passion. Passion drives a purpose-marked life.

Jesus himself gives joy-filled passion as we celebrate Gospel truth.

Our relationship with Him is restored. Acceptance, forgiveness and freedom.

He has a unique path marked for your 2018, and as you practice praising – you will unleash all you need for your 2018 God-breathed mission.

Let songs of gratitude and praise fill and spill from your days in 2018.

Whether you find yourself performing for massive crowds or tucked in a silent hospital room – the joy of Jesus will be yours in full as you go tell it on your mountain.

“…The joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10