To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Justine Sacco, a 30 year old senior director of corporate communications for a large company, begin sending out tweets on her trip to South Africa. During her lay over in London she jokingly sent out a tweet saying “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS…”

As she pushed “send” to her 170 followers she would have never imagined how her world would be altered during the 11 hour flight to Cape Town. Her tweet was re-tweeted and went viral as thousands read it and responded with outrage. Her careless words cost her job, friends, and reputation.

Social media has vomited out opinions, personal bias, and hate at a supersonic speed for all to see. How should followers of Christ respond to to this cultural phenomenon? I recently read a book by R.T. Kendall called More of God. Kendall states that before we speak we should ask ourselves four questions, represented in the acrostic NEED (p. 110).

Is it Necessary?- Is it necessary to say what I am about to say? If not, I won’t say it! Remember too, when words are many, sin is not absent (Prov. 10:19).

Is it Emancipating?- Do you realize that 100% of people you will meet today have a guilt problem over something? Say what will set them free! That is what Jesus did with His words. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Is it Energizing? – There are two kinds of people: the energizers and the complainers. Complainers will zap your energy, however energizers will breathe words of life and strengthen you.

Is it Dignifying? – Through out the Gospels we see Jesus using words to give people dignity. The woman caught in adultery dreaded how Jesus respond, but He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

Patty and I were recently out with another couple and I was “sharing” something about another person when I heard her quietly say “NEED, NEED!” It took me a moment and then I promptly shut my mouth.

So the next time you send out a Tweet or make a comment on Facebook, ask yourself, “Does this NEED to be said?” Will my words bring blessing and life to those who will read or hear them? I know I can’t do this without the help of the Holy Spirit, who only speaks Truth & Life (John 14:16). Daily I have to pray “Holy Spirit take control of my tongue today let me know when and what to speak!” May the Holy Spirit grant us grace to speak words of blessing, but also to receive His gracious forgiveness when we stumble.

Trust Your Feelings!

As my daughter Anna got into the car and she said to me “Dad that’s Kingdom!” We were both bubbling over with joy after filling 72 backpacks with school supplies for needy children in our community. Take a glance at the picture above and you will understand the source of our joy.

My partner for the evening at Parker Task Force was Heather. She was meticulous about what color folders we picked out for the the students and how we placed everything in the backpack. But she also had a crush on one of the other Rotary Volunteers and would giggle every time she caught his eye. Heather’s beautiful smile and love for life was contagious and you could feel droplets of Heaven’s grace overtake the place.

As we drove home I thought about how God’s tangible presence was in the room. It spurred my memory to reflect on times when I have felt the Father’s presence, His Kingdom coming to earth. Just than I got a text from my friend Steve who runs Parker Task Force, “This is my Africa!” Translated to mean you don’t have to travel all the way to Africa to feel the Heart of Father God.

He’s right, God’s Kingdom and God’s presence is all around us and you can feel it and find it if you’re willing to go look for it. Perhaps some of you are taking exception to the title of this blog, “Trust Your Feelings!” Many of us have heard the opposite, “Don’t Trust Your Feelings!” – because feelings can be deceptive and it is possible that feelings can lead you down a painful path.

I agree in part to that statement, but I have also realized over the years that feelings can be a strong indicator of The Father’s Heart. Our Father, a serving God and saving God sent His only Son Jesus to live amongst us by humbly coming to earth to die for our wicked hearts so we could be healed and know lasting love. Yes, Jesus came to serve us.

When we receive His gracious service-by faith-and turn around and serve others-we begin to experience and feel His Kingdom, yes feel it! It maybe loving orphans in Africa or washing dishes for your wife, but when you serve out of the Father’s love for you kingdom’s collide and you can trust that feeling as it is connect to heaven above which is always overflowing with love.

Anna and I felt it as we served alongside special needs adults who served needy kids in our community with a joyous freedom beaming with hearts of love. It brought to my mind 2 Corinthians 3:17:

Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, He gives freedom. (NLT).

Can you feel it? When you start severing others-Heaven’s love is given to you-you will feel it-and that is a feeling you can trust because it comes from the Spirit of our Father. So find someone you can serve today and let me know if you felt it? After all, HIS PRESENCE is all around us!

Winter is Over!

Picture by Katie Mullen

Or perhaps I should say, “hopefully winter is over.” It has been a long winter here in Colorado and just when you think it’s spring-it snows. The older I get the more I long for spring and the promise it brings of warmer days and the breaking forth of new life in a multitude of hues.

Our Good Father knew that spring was the perfect time to unwrap the gift of salvation in the death and resurrection of His beloved Son. Creation shouts of winter’s death-giving way to the abundant resurrection of life. The French biblical scholar Pierre Benoit prayed over the passion and death narratives found in the gospel of Luke for 35 years. After all those years of study He concluded that as God, the Father saw His Son’s torn and bloody body surrendered in perfect obedience for His lost children, He spoke these words to Jesus from Song of Songs 2:10-13, NIV:

Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with Me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come my darling; my beautiful one, come with Me.

Of course no one knows for sure if our Abba Father spoke these words, but this song undoubtedly declares the Father’s love, a glorious new season has broken forth. As I write this blog I hear birds singing joyfully as the sun chases away the darkness, the tree in my backyard is bursting with white flowering buds. All of creation is shouting out that a new season is dawning.

Right now we are in between the Jewish feast of Passover and Pentecost and I sense in my spirit that the Father is singing to us these words from Song of Songs. He is calling us to live into the resurrection season and await with glorious hope the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

A new day is breaking forth for the Father’s children. Winter is coming to an end. We are invited to receive the gift of His love through Jesus. Don’t expect to hear this song from the news or social media, but do take a few moment to quiet your spirit and focus on the resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead! The Apostle Paul reminds us that this same power also lives in us (Ephesians 1:19-20). Claim this truth, hear this love Song of the Father and believe these words are intended for you!

I believe a fresh Revival of His Love is about to break forth over our world. I felt this hope last month in South Africa and this past weekend here in Colorado as a pastor called his flock to prayer and repentance to prepare hearts for what God is soon bringing. As we hear His song over us (Zephaniah 3:17), and are awakened by His life transforming love we will begin to sing to our world “The winter is past; the rains are over and gone…” The Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ is covering the earth with the Father’s glory.

During this spring season take some time to be in creation and reflect on the glory of the resurrected Jesus, how He longs for you to have His resurrected life transform you. Hear your Father sing these words over you.

Your winter is over-I’m bringing you into a new season of Heaven’s love that will revive you and those around you for My Kingdom glory and your good!

Picture by Katie Mullen

Hand It Over

Drawn by Maleteka Joy Haakonsen

Both my older brother and sister are often mistaken as my younger siblings. Curt has a full head of hair with no gray and Cindy, well not sure if she does something to her hair or not but it sure looks good. Maybe I got the wrong genes or maybe it is a reflection of the war with worry in my head that literally reveals itself in the gray invasion and thinning scalp.

Whether my gray hear is the result of decades of shepherding or shear worry-a few more hairs have turned again- as we start planning for what we believe is the path set before Oceans. The heavenly Father continues to be loving and gracious and gently calls me to hand-it-over. (Whatever the “it” may be.) During the last trip to Africa we met with African Leadership, a ministry we plan to partner with to train and disciple leaders in the nearby townships.

Carlisle & Sharon from African Leadership

As we were sipping our coffee a lady came up out of no where and started to whisper in my ear, “the Lord bless you and shine His face upon you and He will establish the work of your hands as you wait on Him, He will do it…” This was not an everyday occurrence and as I turned to see if I knew her and ask why she was doing this she quickly walked away.

I knew God was trying to help me in the worry war but not sure what it all meant until we arrived at Ray Haakonsen’s house later that day. Ray’s daughter Maleteka, one of the first children Ray & Sue took in when they started Beautiful Gate in Lesotho, is an incredible artist. I asked her to show me her latest work and she brought me this picture of the hands.

Over the last several years God has spoken to me about resting in His hands. Trusting in Him by waiting on Him through prayer as He continues to remind me that He will accomplish His purposes. His Sovereign hands control the world. This certainly comes out in Maleteka’s magnificent drawing. Her work brought to mind one of my favorite text’s about the Father’s hand:

“So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” (Isa. 41:10).

This is the Word from the LORD that helps me in my worry war. The Word that calls me to look away from the impossible and look to the one who not only created the world but covers and controls it all with His loving hands. In fact, I was just reading Isa. 40:12 this morning which also emphasis the work of His all powerful hands:

“Who else has held the oceans in His hand? Who has measured off the heavens with His finger…”

This amazing Father God continues to ask me to give up the worry war and hand it all over to His mighty, loving, forever holding hands. He keeps saying to me, “just rest in the palm of My hands and I will establish the work that I have called you to do despite your weakness and worries!”

Look at Maletka’s picture again. Notice the hand of God writing. He is writing your story and mine and the most important part of our story is trusting Him with our lives. To follow the example of His Son Jesus and say “into Your hands I commit my spirit.”

Today, join me in the war on worry by handing over your fears, worries, and cares in prayer to your Father. Rest in His creative, all powerful, loving hands and wait for Him to do more than you could ever hope for or imagine.