I have a good friend who is from the local community in South Africa near my home. He organizes a number of after school programs to create hope in the young people.

He regularly tells me stores of how he receives cookie donations from older (insert the race which is economically better off) for his young, poor (insert economically worse off race) kids.

“These folks feel so good about helping these poor kids!”

This friend is an honest voice in my life to point out the sometimes misguided attempts to help people. I’m so grateful for this refreshingly honest voice.

He can tell when people really love those they are serving or if they are merely looking for photo ops or feel good moments.

Recently I have been able to step back into the classroom of our local Bible School. For the last few years, I had been serving at the regional and international level. Returning to the local level and interacting with the same group of students as they journey through Scripture has been so refreshing.

I speak to many of my co-workers who express how little they interact with the “everyday common” person. The higher they climb on the leadership ladder, the less they do of what they truly love.

Much of our time ends up in meeting and committee, deciding policy and executing projects. If we are not careful, we lose touch with the life and vitality of ministry at the grassroots.

This tendency to drift is common to so many areas of our lives.

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“King Solomon was wiser when he was young than when he was old.”   Dr. Ron Smith

Considering Solomon to be a major contributor to the book of Proverbs is a sobering thought.

Solomon is famous for asking for wisdom when God granted him any wish. He received great wisdom, loved the Lord (1 Kings 3:3), and even had God appear to him twice! (1 Kings 3;5, 9:2)

But right before his love for God was recorded, we see him entering into a marriage alliance with the Pharaoh of Egypt. This was the beginning of the end for Solomon, culminating in 700 wives and 300 concubines.

How could a man with so much experience with God and wisdom, end up this way?

I’ve recently had the privilege of teaching the book of Proverbs. Here are a few things we can learn from the fact Solomon had wisdom but failed to finish well.

America, Meet the World

March 28, 2016

Hello America. Meet the Rest of the World.

Note; This is not a political post but one of identification.

The closer we get to the election in the United States, the more comments, eye rolling, and jokes I am hearing as an American living overseas.

My journey as an American in missions has spanned over 25 years. When I began, everyone loved and warmly welcomed Americans. I can remember being in the Philippines and everyone shouted, “Hey Joe” at me, referring to G.I. Joe. It was with warmth and not derision.

The looks of disbelief started with the war in the Balkans and increased with the invasion of Iraq.

Upon moving to South Africa under Bush II, I often wished I could change my accent. Things improved remarkably over the last eight years under Obama. His African roots may have had something to do with this.

Jesus is the Center.

We say this phrase often, but when have we last had someone we respect, tell us how this works in their lives?

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, all of your Soul, all of your Mind, and all of your Strength.” (Mark 12:30)

So what does that mean?

When I was younger I was told several things reflected having Jesus at the center.

  • Raising your hands signified to my classmates I finally was saved and not one of the Christian school “rebels”.
  • As I got older, I was told being demonstrative and loud in worship was needed to be a leader.
  • In some circles, speaking in tongues publicly is the key.

I remember reading Brother Lawrence’s story of redirecting his thoughts to God once a minute. As I tried to “practice the presence of God”, I never achieved once an hour for the entire day let alone once a minute! An epic fail in keeping Jesus at the center!