God Doesn’t Tweet

The other day, I was helping facilitate a conference call with about a hundred people on the line. In an effort to mute our line, I hung up on the entire group. Whoops! This was the same day that one of my best friends, teasing me, relayed to another co-worker that my texts are often (almost always) garbled and nonsensical. Are you beginning to get the picture that you should keep me far, far away from technology? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets can be great tools to connect and engage with friends near and far. I personally love being able to be a part of the lives of friends who are scattered all around the world. I do, however, firmly believe that we meet God in our stillness, when we give Him the first fruits of our day, when we sit at His feet in eager willingness to listen to His voice. He instructs us to ‘Be still and know that He is God’, not run around like a crazy person trying to discern who He is at a red light.

After spending years reading here and there through the Bible, I realized that I knew very little about it’s overall content. Like, shocking little. In His grace, I believe that God has allowed me to come to know Him in a way that I didn’t think was possible for someone who wasn’t a pastor or missionary. I firmly believe that this change would have never occurred without making the time and effort to spend time at God’s feet. I know that a verse a day would have never revealed God’s character to me. We are a culture of convenience, but in trying to microwave our faith, we are destroying all the nutrients. God has so much He wants to bless us with, but we’re too busy, too tired, too stressed and too over scheduled to be blessed.  I get it – working and caring for my children and taking care of my marriage and being a good friend and trying to save the world – it’s hard! But, I don’t run this race alone, and that makes all the difference in the universe.

The bottomline is this: God is not going to send you a tweet. If you want to really feel a peace you’ve never felt before, if you want to experience joy in the midst of sorrow, if you need love or reassurance or hope: sit down and open your Bible and spend time with the Lord in prayer. Don’t know where to begin?  Ask a trusted friend to help guide you – discipleship is an important part of our faith. You’d be doing them a favor in allowing them to pour into your life. Don’t have a Christian friend who can disciple you? Below are a couple suggestions of things that have worked well for me:

  1. Read a short devotional each morning to get you centered in God’s word before you begin to pray. I especially like the First5.org devotions and use their iPhone app to access them.
  2. Begin a prayer journal and use it to speak to God – everyday. I have a habit of journaling at least one page each day. Anything shorter and I’ve found that my prayers remain very self centered. By developing the habit of journaling more to the Father, you begin to ask Him what else you should be praying about: Our country? Refugees? Your church? Your children’s school? Difficult relationship? What God wants you to be doing or not doing?
  3. Download the Bible.com app on your phone and work through a Bible reading plan. I especially like the Chronological plan as it helps you understand the events in the order they happened, whereas reading the Bible from cover-to-cover will allow you to read like kind books together.
  4. Write what God teaches you in your Bible. What section spoke to you the most? What is the context of that section? How can you apply that to your own life? My Bible is so crazy marked up in places where I’ve really spent time that it looks like a marker factory exploded. Don’t worry about ‘messing up’ your Bible – it’s meant to be more of a handbook than a shelf warmer. Not sure which translation to buy? Try a couple different translations on your phone and see which is the easiest for you to understand. I personally found that the NLT was a great Bible to help me connect with and understand scripture in a whole new way, but others like the NIV, ESV, KJV or another translation. Here is my post on the NLT My Fair NLT – The Bible I Actually Understand

Whether you’ve been studying your Bible for years, or your pages are still very crackly, I hope this post will inspire you to ask God to reveal something new to you in how to connect with Him and grow closer to Him.

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In Our Backyard: Sex Trafficking in the Midwest

Sex trafficking is NOT a far off problem in a far off land. It is here, in the US, and these are HUMANS who are being trafficked, folks.

SIUE Women's Studies Program

Today’s post comes from Criminal Justice professor Erin Heil. She began studying domestic human trafficking in 2008 and has since published numerous articles on the subject, as well as the book, Sex Slaves and Serfs: The Dynamics of Human Trafficking in a Small Florida Town.  She shares this post with us in anticipation of the upcoming panel, “Sex Trafficking and Exploitation,” co-sponsored by the SIUE Women’s Studies and Peace Studies Programs on Oct. 21 at 12:30 in the Morris University Center.  At this event Prof. Heil will be joined by Congressman John Shimkus, FBI Intelligence Analyst Derek Velazco, Rescue and Restore Coordinator Kristen Eng, and Covering House representatives Deidre Lhamon and Lindsay Ellis.  The event is free and open to the community.

“I was taken from my doorstep…I was sold for sex with men in exchange for money and drugs. I was forced to work out of motels, brothels, prostitution houses…

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Why Benjamin’s Mom Feeds Him Mud Pies

IMG_5639If you’re a mom, it’s unlikely that you’ve never yelled at one of your children, “Don’t eat that, it’s dirty!”  I’m a bit of a germaphobe.  M would probably count this as an understatment, but I like to think the darling little petri dishes that run around my house have loosened me up a bit.  However loosened up I am, we do not eat food that has fallen on the ground though.  At my house, there is no five second rule, no three second rule, no one second rule.  If it’s been on the ground, don’t put it in your mouth.  That’s the rule.  But, I’m not Benjamin’s mom and I don’t have to send my two year old out for 6-8 hours a day in search of water from a pond that we share with animals, a pond teaming with bacteria that could give my child diarrhea – something that can be very deadly in underdeveloped parts of the world.  I feel like I barely get my kitchen cleaned up before two little garbage disposals come in whining that they are hungry.  Again. But, I’m not Benjamin’s mom who can only feed my child maize, peanuts, cassava, beans sweet potatoes and fruit.  Once a day.  I don’t watch my child burn all their calories carting heavy buckets of water all day, every day.  I put large, nutritious dinners on the table every night and when my child doesn’t want to eat, I tell them about childen like Benjamin who would like to eat the roasted chicken.  I sigh as I sweep up the quinoa that has somehow managed to coat my entire kitchen.  But, I’m not Benjamin’s mom and don’t have to listen to my baby cry because he has worked hard all day long in the hot sun and is now hungry and knows there is no hope that tomorrow will be better.  I don’t have to mix a little oil with a little sugar and some mud to feed to my child so that he won’t feel so hungry.  I don’t have to worry that once asleep, mosquitoes won’t infect my sleeping baby with malaria.  Each year in the Congo, malaria steals 82,000 children under the age of 5.  Think of city of Bellingham, WA or Bloomington, IN or Concord, NC being full of only babies and preschoolers – stolen from their mother’s arms by a disease that could be prevented for no more than a couple dollars.

Martain Luther King, Jr. once said:

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

I don’t know about you, but I hope Benjamin’s mom see us as better than “good” people.

What if tomorrow, Benjamin’s mom was told that someone she’d never met, someone on the other side of the world, thought that this kind of childhood just wasn’t fair?  What if she heard that this person had $8 per week that they could spare without taking food off their own table?  What if she heard that they believed Benjamin should have a chance at not only survival, but a future?  What if that person thought that all kids, regardless of latitude, ought to have their basic needs met.  What if they were just a normal person who partnered with an extraordinary organization who had the knowledge and experience to make a difference for Benjamin.  What if today that person was you?  Contact me directly to sponsor Benjamin or click on Benjamin’s picture to find another child who needs YOU to make the difference in their life between barely hanging on and actually thriving.

For the record, I don’t know that Benjamin’s mom actually feeds him mud pies, but this is a common practice in many areas of the world where food is especially scarce.