“Ridiculously Beautiful”


I had never heard the word combination “ridiculously beautiful” before but it worked. The other week my wife Patty and I were hiking and reached our destination of a mountain lake with legs aching and hearts pounding. As we contemplated our turn around a family bounded down an unmarked trail. When we asked what was ahead and if it was worth continuing on the father in the family exclaimed with a huge grin that there were a number of hidden lakes, it is “ridiculously beautiful!” He encouraged us to go on, and promised that just beyond the snow and a slight climb the path gets easier and we wouldn’t be disappointed.

Inspired by his words we ventured ahead to encounter one of the most breathtaking hikes ever experienced. My words won’t do it justice so you will just have to come with sometime and then you will understand “ridiculously beautiful!”

As I contemplated the phrase that inspired Patty and I to further our hike I reflected on the powerful use of words to encourage others in their life journey. My thoughts went back to Lesotho Africa and the time at the Good Shepherd Center. Diane, one of our leaders, shared her own life journey with the team and the teen moms in particular. She too was a young single mom facing some impossible mountains trying to raise her daughter on her own. Yet God’s powerful love moved the mountains before her and made a way when it seemed there was none.

Diane’s story broke down walls and the moms opened their hearts to her and she became known as “mom” to the girls at Good Shepherd. Diane ministered to many that week but one teen mom in particular. This young girl shared with Diane her battle of depression and hopelessness and on the very last day wrote a heartfelt letter and thanking Diane specifically for the loving impact of her words.

As I returned to the Good Shepherd Center two weeks later I met and prayed with this young lady and I heard how Diane’s words forever changed the course of her life. Before Diane and our team arrived in Lesotho this teen mom had thought about giving up her baby, even selling the beautiful child because she was so overwhelmed trying to raise this child with such limited resources in a country overtaken by poverty. Yet because of a testimony from another single mom that included many talks, hugs and tears, hope entered the situation. This hope enabled her to keep her child and journey ahead knowing God’s love would not leave her or her child. What a beautiful picture! A teen mom embracing her baby with an infectious smile birthed by hope, yes she could continue on the path ahead, it was “ridiculously beautiful!”

May our Good Father use you today to encourage someone to keep hiking up the mountain into his faithfulness and find Him “ridiculously beautiful!”

And let us consider how we may encourage one another on toward love and good deeds… Hebrew 10:24

The Psalm 73 Answer

On the morning of July 7th I was reading Psalm 73 and then later in the day I was alerted to the violent eruption in Dallas. Here again was yet another report depicting a world hemorrhaging with pain and violence. I went back to Psalm 73 that evening and thought about the Psalmists honest struggle with the injustice and evil that seemed to flourish while the followers of God floundered,

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked, (Psalm 73: 2-3). 

And the more the author thinks about the apparent prevailing of the wicked the more depressed he becomes:

All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning…When I tried to understand all this it was oppressive to me, (Psalm 73:14,16).

Can you identify with this uneasy tension that feels like nausea in the gut? When you reflect on Isis, Paris, Nice, racial unrest, Orlando, religious persecution, our political situation, and on and on, how is your faith? I’ve just returned to the states after spending a month in Africa and I hear about Von Miller, a talented Denver Bronco football player paid 114 million dollars to play 6 years of football while my friends in Lesotho Africa can’t find a job or eat a single meal a day, and I ask myself, “Where is the justice?” Yes, I’m a true blue Bronco fan but it is getting harder for me to swallow as the disparity is beyond extreme.

All that is going on in our shaky world can cause the strongest of faith to shatter just like Asaph, the writer of this song. But praise God for where his search into all of this evil and injustice brings him:

“till I entered the sanctuary of God…,” (Psalm 73:17).

Right there is the Psalm 73 Answer! The answer to the problem of evil and injustice will not be found in a political solution, military action, or more education. It can only be understood in the presence of a Sovereign God. Yes, the world will say that is ignorant and simplistic, but those who have followed the Psalmist into the House of the Lord to turn their eyes to King Jesus who is at the right hand of the Good Father know. They will join in and sing out the truth found in the glorious ending found in Psalm73.

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.



The Ripple Effects of Faith

While in Africa I had the blessing of doing a podcast with Bryan & Anita Geurink, directors of Beautiful Gate Care Center in Lesotho. The Geurink’s step of faith has had a ripple effect that God has used to transform lives all over the world. As I listened again to their remarkable “yes” to God’s call and the specific details of their daily journey, I was challenged anew to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and step out of the boat. I pray you will be blessed!

geurink pic


Beautiful Gate pic

The River Chapel was overflowing with volunteers, Beautiful Gate staff, government workers, house moms, and two families holding two healthy Basotho boys clinging to their new parents for an adoption ceremony. Even though it was a chilly morning in Lesotho Africa, the room heated up quickly as the festive celebration began. The housemothers, those who helped raised these two young boys, began the morning with songs, prayers, and of course dancing. The joy was contagious in the room, as the Beautiful Gate Staff knew these boys were going to godly homes where they would be nurtured and loved for the rest of their lives.

At one point house mom Ma Judith, who helped raise one of the adoptive boys from birth, shared about the blessing he had been to the Beautiful Gate family. It was a bitter sweet moment as she reached out her arms to hug the young child but he held tight to his new parents who he had just spent the week with. How hard it was for Judith to let go but as she turned around she led the ladies in another dance around the room rejoicing that the boy has already adapted to his loving home.

As I write this blog 10 days removed from the adoption ceremony I can still replay the scene in my mind in vivid detail. It truly was a spiritual experience for many reasons. First of all it was a God honoring day for the Beautiful Gate staff whom daily sacrifice to take care of (Matthew 25:40). It was God the Father saying, “well done good and faithful servants.” You could almost hear Heaven cheering in the chapel that day.

Secondly it was a day where a river of love flooded the room with powerful emotions of the Father’s love. As I leaned against a sidewall I watched tears flowing generously from volunteers, staff, and the families that were adopting, as well as several from our own team as we sat as bystanders. This is what happens when “true religion” takes place and God’s Kingdom breaks forth with joy that goes beyond words.

As both parents took pen in hand and signed the official papers making the long and costly adoption final, I pondered what my Abba Father did for me. How as an orphan child separated by my sin, shame, and a sickening spiritual death, he reached out to me through His only Son Jesus and purchased my life through His perfect, costly blood. The words from a song kept going through my mind during this ceremony, “I’m no longer a slave to sin but I am a child of God.”

That Friday morning in Lesotho Africa my soul was once again awakened to my own costly adoption and with great joy I joined in the singing and dancing giving praise to a good, good Father for His perfect love given to me His son.

“In love He predestined us to be adopted as his son through Jesus Christ …to the praise of His glorious grace,” Eph. 1:4-5.