Jesus Loves Me

Several weeks ago, I saw Ragamuffin.  It is a wonderful film about the life of Rich Mullins.  This clip has got me thinking about various things.  Here is a clip of one of the things that stuck out to me most about this movie.  This preacher had just finished his sermon proclaiming obedience to these sets of rules.  The last thing he leaves the audience with is this questions, “would Jesus be proud of you?”  Well, in the movie Rich gets up and this is his response to that question.

Just in case you don’t recognize the instrumental of this song, here is another version with a little girl singing the words to the song.

I think that this is so simple that we tend to glance over the truth of it.  Jesus loves me?!?  It is such a radical proposition.  Jesus is the Lord of the universe… In Him all things were created… Yet, He loves me?!?  How can this be?

The answer that we all can shout is a resounding, YES! He does! He loves me!!! Here is the kicker… It isn’t because we have done anything to deserve it.

It isn’t because I work in IT as a missionary in Kenya.  Not because I went to Seminary.  Not because I try to help people. It isn’t about anything that I am able to do.

So, how does this make sense? How can the Lord of the universe love me?  What did I do?  Who am I that He should love me?  The only answer that I can come up with is that it is all about who God is and not about me at all.  So, I think one of the answers that God gives for these questions, is I AM.  This is the same answer that he gives Moses when Moses asks God’s name.  God responds with, “I AM who I AM.” (Exodus 3:14)  It isn’t about what I did, or the things that I have accomplished.  It is all about who God is.  God is… God is Truth… God is Jealous… God is Love…  That is why He loves me.

I don’t know about you but I think that there is something tremendously freeing in these realizations.  Jesus loves me, not for what I did or for who I am.  He loves me in and of Himself.  That means that if I can’t earn God’s love through what I say or do, then I can’t lose it either.  I don’t have to worry about ever not being loved by him.  He will always love me.

So, is Jesus proud of me? No, probably not all the time… But He does love me all the time.

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Furaha Mwaka Mpya! (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year from Kenya!  Right now, it is midnight on New Years day in Kenya.  I had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you did as well.  This was the second Christmas that I spent here in Kenya.  This time it was very different.  I will write more about this a little later in this post.

As I promised in my Christmas prayer letter, I wanted to write a more complete update about the what has been going on.

At the beginning of December I went to GOA’s Annual International Youth Conference.  This was the second time that I have had the pleasure to be a part of this conference.  This time, I was not the only American in attendance.  Over the last several months God has blessed me with a good friend, George.  He is over here until February working with another organization.  The conference was a good time of fellowship and worship.  I apologize for the video quality, I took these on my cell phone.

In this song, we are singing “receive our praise oh Lord”

In this song, we are singing “Ni wewe Bwana” (You are Lord)

I was able to reconnect with a lot of the people that I met last year.  I was also able to understand and use a lot more Kiswahili than last year.

Here is my attempt at capturing a beautiful sunset on our last night.

Sunset1

Sunset2

On our way back from the conference, George and I stopped at one of the new Dominos and Cold Stone Creameries in Nairobi.  It was the best pizza that I have had since arriving here.  In my opinion it rivaled the pizzas in the US.

When SIM and GOA closed for the holiday on Friday (Dec. 19), I headed up-country (outside of Nairobi) with a group of friends from SIM.  We went to Samburu National Park.  It was a good time of rest and relaxation.  There were a couple of hiccups along the way.  While my friend was driving up there, his car engine broke.  So, we packed on into a couple of other vehicles in the caravan and carried on our journey.  Thankfully, since getting back he has been able to have his car repaired.  The other incident was that I placed some money into the safe at the Ashnil Tented Campsite that we were staying at only to have 2,000 KSH of it stolen (~$22).

We arrived back to Nairobi the following Monday night and I spent the week lounging around not doing much.  I was able to celebrate Christmas by Skyping with my family back home, and helping George bake some brownies and going to a potluck at the SIM Compound.  It was a lot different than my other Christmas here.  It has been a good time, but I really missed my family this year.  I look forward to being able to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years back in the US next year.

Today, has been filled with watching TV Shows, Movies, and now I have begun to watch College Football games.  I wish many blessings to you and your family in this New Year.  Furaha Mwaka Mpya! Happy New Year!

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Multiplied

So… Once again, it has been a long time since I wrote last. Not much has changed since the last time that I wrote.  I don’t like taking time to sit and reflect because generally it makes me miss home more.  However, I have come to a realization that I will always miss home.  When I am here in Kenya, I will miss the U.S.  When I am in the U.S., I will miss Kenya.  So, I am stuck in that Catch 22.  I will always miss home.

When I woke up this morning, I had received an email from a friend.  She encouraged me to listen to this song, Multiplied by Needtobreathe.  I have decided to reflect on this song.  One of the verses of this song says, “I have surrendered to Your design.”  I have been thinking about what is meant by that statement.  I know that God has a plan for each of our lives.  I know that He has designed not only this world but also me.  I don’t really like the use of the word “surrendered” in this case.  Surrendered seems to place a fatalistic connotation towards His design.  Instead, I am in awe of His design.  I am captivated by it.  I love it, because I love the One who designed it.  The best example that I have for this is caring about that hand drawn picture that a kid makes for you.  Someone that doesn’t have a relationship with that kid isn’t going to appreciate it in the same manner.  Someone who doesn’t love that kid doesn’t place the same value on that artwork.

Now, the title of this song is multiplied.  The chorus calls out asking for “these Halleluiahs be multiplied.”  Faith produces Halleluiahs (praises).  So, Halleluiahs can be multiplied when faith is multiplied.  One of the ways that faith is multiplied is when shared with others.  Today during our office devotion the text was on John 17:18 “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”  This was part of Jesus’ High Priestly prayer.  He was sent with authority and I have that same authority.  He has sent me out, so that my Halleluiahs to Him can be multiplied.  Not just in my life but in the lives of those around me.

God, please let these Halleluiahs be multiplied!

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The Cost

I apologize that I haven’t written in a long time.  I haven’t wanted to write… There isn’t really much new news.  I am settled into daily routines and found a church with great people that I enjoy being able to fellowship with.  So, life seems to have a lot of normalcy to it.  The other reason that I haven’t written is that when I stop to write.  It is hard not to think about The Cost.

This is the title of a song by Rend Collective.  As I have written before, I hadn’t really counted the entire cost.  I didn’t know what it would be like to make a new life for myself over here in Kenya.  I didn’t know about the vast amount of good and bad experiences that would come along the way.  I really like this entire song.  However, this verse “I do not need safety as much as I need You. You’re dangerous but Lord, You’re beautiful.”

The cost pales in comparison to the gain.  I am able to gain love, life, freedom, and grace.  Yes, it does cost a lot. I’m pretty sure that I won’t really ever know the full extent of the things that it has cost me.  No, it is not always easy.  But it is worth it still.  It cost me a lot to take this step and move to Kenya.  However, I have gained so much more.

Even though I know that I have gained so much more than it has cost me.  I still don’t like to think on the things that it has cost me.  It is hard to face those losses.  I would rather think about what I have gained.  I would rather rejoice than to grieve.  It seems that you can’t know joy without knowing sorrow.  You can’t know peace without knowing turmoil.  You can’t know grace without knowing judgment.  If I don’t think about these things then I don’t feel the grief, sorrow , turmoil, or judgment as much.  In order for me to write about these things, I first must think about them.  I don’t like thinking about them because they become more real. Generally, after writing I am able to experience joy, peace, and grace.  However, going through the process of writing isn’t fun, it isn’t easy, it costs a lot.

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Still Listening

Lately, I have been reflecting back on the past.  I came across this song, Still Listening by Steven Curtis Chapman.  I still absolutely love the way that this song begins.  These little children are singing that same bed-time prayer that I always prayed.

As the song says, “The years can take us far away from the simple child-like faith.” This unfortunately is true.  There are several times when I have thought that God doesn’t listen to my prayers.  Sometimes, this would lead me to stop praying all together.  If He isn’t listening, why keep praying?  Isn’t it just wasted effort and time?  Those are the questions that I was angry enough to even ask to other people.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized that God really did listen to my prayers and one of them in particular.  Not in the way that I was wanting initially, but when I realized that He had listened and answered ‘Yes'(albeit not the way I really meant for it to be) a sense of joy filled me.

As I reflect back on all of those hard times, I can see that God was still listening and acting.  Yes, His answer hasn’t always made sense to me.  It certainly hasn’t always been ‘Yes.’  More times than not, it is ‘Not yet’ or ‘No.’  However, the answer that He gives brings about one of the things that I have been wrestling with for a really long time to try to understand.  There was one time when His answer was so clearly ‘Yes,’ yet somewhere along the way that changed into a ‘No.’ So much so, I ended up slamming into a locked door.  I don’t know how to reconcile that situation with my understanding of who God is.  God is unchanging.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever more.

Well, it is getting late now.  I’ve had enough reflecting for the night.  So, I’m going to end with this even though I haven’t made sense of God changing His answer, I do still know that He is Still Listening.

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