It’s all about me or is it?

Deuteronomy 8

14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 1

6 He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

Earlier in my career, I was quite cocky about all I had done to get where I was. It was all me and all my hard work.

My first two jobs I didn’t even apply for, but was asked to come on board. I thought it was because I was really a lot better than every one else. Of course I never said this out loud to anyone.

Just six years into my career I lost my full-time job due to the economy and was laid off. It was then I cried out to God why? I could have easily seen God wondering why am I asking him to intervene, since I had done it all myself. Just like the scripture says, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”

The next three years were ones where I had my wilderness experience. I was just surviving and not having lots of fun. But I was grateful to be paying the bills. I decided to go and get my seminary degree during this time. My experience was only 3 years of turmoil, not like Israel’s 40 years.

My job right out of seminary I was hired without ever having met my employer face to face. This time I knew it wasn’t me but God who was in charge of this journey.

Today when I get jobs I still want to celebrate about my talents being honored. However, today I am even more aware of how many other photographers could have been hired to do the job. Now when reading the scripture, “…remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today,” I pause and remember my three years.

If I had not experienced the layoff, I doubt I would have come to understand how much I accomplish not due to me but because of my God who has given me blessings of health, opportunity and relationships which allow me to succeed.

While I would like to say I learned my lesson—I didn’t. There are times as a full-time freelancer the phone doesn’t ring. I have thought of everything I can to promote myself. I have consulted professionals and taken there advice after much prayer, but I am still finding myself every once in a while sitting up at night and wide awake.

This is when I am reminded of what hope is all about. Hope is the assurance of things to come (it will all work out) because of looking in the past of things done (Jesus’ victory over death) that is now a settled, unshaken, well-grounded, immovable persuasion and certainty.

When we forget where God has brought us from we will loose hope. Remember all he has done and is doing.

20/20 hindsight?

I am not sure the American people would have authorized our government to invade Iraq some three years ago, knowing how many innocent people would die.

We know today that 188,896 Iraqi civilians have been killed and 340,012 seriously injured (March 2006 figure).

There are more and more indications that more citizens are being killed than when Sadam was in power. This is not even considering the military losses:

    2,299 U.S. TROOPS KILLED
    33,094 SERIOUSLY INJURED March 2006
    30,000 IRAQI TROOPS KILLED
    90,000 SERIOUSLY INJURED Aug. 2003

Our problem wasn’t America’s Intellegence Agencies, it was the abuse of them by the administration which put us in this situation.

    “The blueprint for the … Bush policy had actually been drawn up five years earlier by three of his top national security advisors. … they were Richard Perle, Doublas Feith, and David Wurmser. Ironically, the plan was originally intended not for Bush but for another world leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    “At the time, the three officials were out of government and working for conservative pro-Israeli think tanks. … The Perle task force to advise Netanyahu was set up by the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Politcal Studies, where Wurmser was working.

    “… the centerpiece of their recommendations was the removal of Saddam Hussen as the first step in making the Middle East into a region friendly, instead of hostile, to Israel.”

    — A Pretext For War: 9/11, Iraq, and the abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies, by James Bamford

Another aspect of the public’s ignorance is believing the mainline media isn’t telling the whole story. Actually, everyone who says this is over looking the most obvious question which undermines their statement–How do you know? The answer to this points out they are getting their information through mainline media.

The media’s role is not to support the government or any particular party. They are to give the facts they have to the public. To expose all the information they uncover and can support. The media’s role is to not be the advertising arm of the government.

Health Care

Today we took our son Taylor in for knee surgery. He had dislocated his knee cap. This made me flash back to Nalerigu, Ghana where hundreds of people were in line to see one doctor. We were in and out in just a few hours.

While I am thankful for the medical care available here, I pray for those in Africa who are not getting the care. They need more doctors. The 2 fulltime doctors are seeing 400 patients a day. Hopefully others will feel the call to serve in Africa.

West Africa

In October last year I had the rare opportunity to go to West Africa for three weeks. The people of West Africa were so kind and wonderful. Here is a Foulani boy who is watching the families herd of cattle. Marlboro has given many of the Foulani herdsmen hats like this one being worn by the boy.
Earlier the children learn to carry things on their heads. The posture of the people is incredible.

Since they do not have sugar in their diets like Americans, their teeth are in better condition.

Complete Acceptance

This is the season of weddings. Weddings are one of the highlight events of our time here on earth. Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding and he used the wedding as a metaphor in his parables.

John 3 29The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

There are very few people who can interrupt whatever I am doing and have my full attention. Each of these people is what I call my closest friends.

You can even know when someone else is interacting with a close friend. The mood changes and you are seeing a glimpse of the joy in their hearts when they interact with their friend.

Jesus talked about what friends will do for one another.

1 John 3 16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

What is so special about friendships that we stop what we are doing and give our full attention to these relationships?

Forgiveness is at the core of friendship. Tom Peters says corporations should actually reward people for failure, because failure means risk; and without risk there can be no success. In Laura Beth Jones book, Jesus CEO she relates a story:

I was once in a self-discovery group where people were not mincing words. One man, sitting very stiffly and quietly, was a candidate for promotion within his organization. His body language was a picture of caution and fear. Finally, a woman gave him this sound advice: “You just need to fail a few times. Then you will understand that people are going to love you even when you are not perfect.”

We have all taken risks with people in the past and for many of us we have been sorely disappointed. We found out who wasn’t our friend for sure. Most of us then learned to take fewer risks so we would not feel the pain of the disappointment.

God did not rest until he created mankind in the Garden of Eden. He wanted relationships. Being his workmanship we were created in his likeness to desire relationships as well.

As we read through the Bible each story centers on the character’s relationship to others and to God. God allowed Job to be tested because he knew how strong the relationship was to begin with.

James 2 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[a] and he was called God’s friend.

The footnote in my Bible for “God’s friend” says, “This designation (see 2Ch 20:7) further describes Abraham’s relationship to God as one of complete acceptance.

It has been said to have a friend you must be a friend.