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Enjoying Nepali hospitality

You don’t really know a person until you sit and eat a meal with them. And I would even venture to say you really don’t know a culture until you share a meal with the people.

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Typical Nepali dish Dal Bhat

Recently on a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal in South Asia, I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor of a tiny one-room home eating Dal Bhat, the native dish of white rice and lentil soup, with six local believers including two young people, our translator and two sisters.

Another American, Keith, and I were teamed together. Keith serves a volunteer with Inter­national Commission, which worked to coordinate this multi-day trip. After the meal, I pulled out my EvangeCube and asked Keith if we should teach these believers how to use this tool in their poor village on the edge of the city.

Keith launched into a short training session on presenting the gospel with this Rubik’s Cube like pic­tograph. While he demonstrated the cube, one of the sister’s faces lit up. She was very interested, focusing intensely, smiling and nodding her head.

After Keith finished, I gave the older sister my cube and asked, “Who do we need to share this message with in your village right now?”

The older sister got up and then took us around her neighborhood, telling people to come meet the Americans.

At a small concrete grocery store, I used the cube to share the beautiful story of the gospel with about a dozen men, women and children. A few people came and went. A crowd gathered, and a few people started asking questions.

Several people were displeased with our effort.

“You are teaching people to leave their reli­gion,” one woman told us. “We do not need this in our village.”

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Equipping a village pastor with one of their deepest needs, a Nepali audio New Testament

I turned on a Nepali audio Bible and let God’s Word do the talking.

The crowd grew to about 20. Even construction workers about 75 feet away stopped working and listened. I then shared some thoughts about the stories we heard from John chapters 3 and 4 about being born again and worshipping in spirit and truth.

What happened next was breathtaking. The elder sister pulled out the cube and began telling the gospel again. It was a beautiful thing to see her owning her faith, telling others about the love of Christ and evan­gelizing her own neighbors.

After the resulting chatter and discussion died down, we made an invitation. No one responded.

We did ask if they had prayer requests and some people did respond. We prayed for their requests and said goodbye, knowing gospel seeds had been planted and that a local believer was now empowered and equipped to better share her faith.

Please pray these seeds of faith grow. Pray for this woman who boldly professes the gospel in spite of family and cultural rejection.

Next, our guide took us to another one-room home. There, a man and his 19-year-old son heard about Jesus. As Keith presented, I prayed. Both of the men listened, but afterwards they looked at each other and asked what to do. The young man wanted to respond, but without his father he wouldn’t commit.

In their culture, the religious, cultural, economic, politi­cal and even family systems are tied together. When you invite someone to follow Christ, you essentially ask them to remove themselves from all that—much like removing a single thread from a sweater.

The next day was a turning point for our team. The local pastor and translator had planned a few visits, but God had planned something special.

The first visit was with a Hindu woman and a college-aged man. The pastor introduced us and indicated that the woman had been waiting for us to come, and that she was ready to accept Christ.

Keith led her in a beautiful prayer of dedication.

Afterwards I asked her how she felt.

“Very happy,” she said.

We shared some Scripture with her and prayed for her to grow strong in the Lord.

Pastor Saroj said he had been witnessing to her for eight years.

Eight years.

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My Nepali brother, Pastor Timothy

This serves as a perfect example of some sowing and some harvesting. God had been working on her for quite some time. There also is inspiration for us to draw here. Don’t give up praying and witnessing for your lost loved ones.

Over the course of this mission, six teams witnessed to many people in and across the Kathmandu valley. In schools. In the mountains. In the slums.

There are many stories that could be told about the trip, yet the most important one is that we have nearly 200 new brothers and sisters in Christ who we will one day meet again in eternity and share another meal…the marriage supper of the Lamb.

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On this 9/11 anniversary, I wanted to share this post from a previous blog from several years ago.

To put this in context, I had gotten out of the military but followed the news surrounding my old unit. After our post-9/11 deployment to Germany, many members were sent back overseas, this time to Iraq.

June 27, 2007

On Saturday, I shook the hands of men. 

Despite the doom and gloom on the 24-hour news networks, despite all the paralyzing fear and worry and despite the efforts of lunatic jihadists, they all came home. Thirty-four heroes returned home Saturday after a 15-month-long deployment to the war-ravaged city of Baghdad. The soldiers of “Charlie” Co., 2/123d Armor, a rural-based National Guard unit, were nearly hugged, kissed and applauded to death by the small community of Benton, Ky., again. 

No more sand, no more bunks and no more worries about ambushes, IEDs or snipers. Again, Benton’s small town streets were lined with hundreds of familiar faces, American flags, homemade banners and happy children. 

I was proud of these men again. They had left their lives and their loved ones to cross the Atlantic Ocean and fight the war on terror again. These courageous Americans witnessed first-hand the clash of civilizations and the struggle for democracy again.

And again I felt the overwhelming flood of newness, hope and gratitude that only deployed troops know. 

Nearly six years ago, I deployed as a sergeant with these “weekend warriors,” most of whom were just awkward boys, quick to talk about their high school days, dream cars and favorite baseball players. One guy, who I’d rather not name, was the company goof-off, the boy of the boys. And although you didn’t know whether to laugh or blush at his jokes, you always knew he needed to grow up. Another was a part-time-working pot smoker with the worst mouth on anyone I’d ever met (that’s saying a lot considering my prior four years in the Marine Corps). His incessant and excessive cursing was both embarrassing and hilarious. His well-known marijuana habit was demotivating and the subject of many jokes.

With a big smile and a firm handshake, I walked around welcoming home “Charlie” company. Those who shook back were not the goofy boys I once knew who guzzled German hefeweisen and shouted drunken obscenities down cobblestone streets. Those boys lived lifetimes ago. These men now had mature glares, confidence, presence and unspoken knowledge of weightier matters.

The company goof-off was now a Purple Heart recipient; his Humvee had been rocked by an IED, and he lost part of his right hand. He now shook with his left hand and with an awareness that life at home would be different now.  And the loudmouth pot-head was now a quiet, commanding sergeant with clearer career goals and Visine-white eyes. 

On Saturday, I didn’t shake the hands of boys I once knew; on Saturday, I shook the hands of men I’d never met.

Earlier this week, my family and I went to Chick-Fil-A on family night. (Read why here). Usually after eating, I’m the only parent in the kids room. You know, the one with 20 screaming kids in their bare feet running up the slide?

This night was different because two other dads were in there with me. We were checking Facebook on our phones and waving at our kids in the cow car 10-feet up in the air…just doing the dad thing.

Then, this little boy, no older than 6, came barreling down the slide and walked over to one of the dads, the one who was red-headed with a full beard. The boy stood right in front of him and sneezed in his face. Red-headed bearded dad, said “HEY!” And the little boy laughed.

Then, the boy acted like he was going to sneeze again. The next thing I know the boy spit in the dad’s face.

“If you do that again, I’m going to punch you in the face, little boy,” yelled the dad. (It was at this point I realized the boy and dad didn’t go together.)

The little snot replied, “Oh yeah, and I’ll kick you.”

“Try it and see what happens,” Red said.

Snot backed up like Charlie Brown and kicked Red hard in the left shin. All three of us dads were in total shock.

“Where are your parents, little boy?” Red asked.

“I don’t have any parents. They are dead,” Snot said. He spouted out how he came to the restaurant by himself and how he didn’t have any grown-ups watching him. (That last part was evident by now.)

The third dad walked out into the dining room to show Red where he’d last spotted Snot with some grown-ups. Red grabbed up his daughter and tromped over to the table.

At first, I couldn’t see Snot’s dad. I was thinking “if the dad is anything like the son, then this could end badly.”

Then I saw Snot’s dad, a pudgy, 5’3” guy with a depressing gait, gesturing and obviously apologizing. Pudgy dad and Red exchanged words through the glass and then both headed back toward the kids room. Pudgy had Snot come over and tell Red he was sorry. As expected, Snot was reluctant with no remorse or sincerity. Pudgy said, “Again, I’m terribly sorry.”

“You’d better be,” Red said.

Snot and Snot’s dad quickly left the building, but Red was still fuming.

I broke the silence. “If his dad would’ve been a big guy, I had your back.”

Scanning my 6’4″, 190-lb-frame, he said, “I wouldn’t need it. I don’t do much well, but one thing I can do is fight.”

I nodded.

“If this would’ve been McDonald’s, I would’ve beaten that guy’s EXPLETIVE. Chick-Fil-A saved that guy’s life tonight,” Red said.

“You know he has to know his son behaves like that. Why wouldn’t he be in here with him?” I puzzled.

“Because, he’s a sissy,” Red pronounced. “He’s probably been a sissy his whole life and now he won’t discipline his kids because he’s scared to.”

He then went on a lengthy monologue about what he would’ve done if that were his kid spitting on people, lying to them and kicking them and how his dad gave him tough love. I didn’t hear much of it because my mind stuck on his choice of the word, “sissy.”

I hadn’t thought of that word since the third grade, but found it an appropriate descriptor of Pudgy.

Wikipedia defines “sissy” like this – a pejorative term for a boy or man who violates or does not meet the traditional male gender role. Generally, sissy implies a lack of courage and stoicism, which are thought important to the male role.

The thought of being scared to discipline my own children was absolutely foreign to me. Now, I’m not a heavy-handed dad and rarely spank my 3.5-year-old. But I discipline her daily because I love her. I love her too much to let her live life without structure, rules, manners and decency. I love her too much to let spitting in a stranger’s face pass for acceptable behavior.

Good fathers discipline their children
We discipline out of love not anger. We discipline intentionally and consistently. The Bible says God disciplines His children too. I’ve been a first-hand recipient of divine discipline and it’s no fun. Zero. Zilch. 

This got me thinking about Snot’s dad…where he could be in life and what his fathering or apparent lack of was resulting in. I mean, I’ve never seen a kid act this terrible in public. (The third dad said Snot had been grabbing food from other people’s tables and bullying the other kids too.)

Dear dads, please discipline your children.

I know it’s easier not to.

I know you may be depressed. I know you may be struggling with unrealized dreams or crippled by debt. Or you may be unemployed right now and that’s got you on the ropes. You may be going through a divorce. I know how men are smothered, suffocated and choked with life addictions, like substance abuse, pornography, gambling, etc.

I know you may have had a bad dad. I know you might not have a good example (or any example) to follow. Your marriage may not be going the way you wanted to. Your dreams may have been crushed by a relative, spouse or work situation.

You may not know God’s love for you. You don’t understand why he loves dirtbags like us. You may think church-going men are weak. You may not have ever looked at God the Father with the right perspective because of heavy-handed, hypocritical religious parents.

But you need to be a man and be a good dad for your kid. Your love for them should override your need for their acceptance. You need to discipline your kid.

Don’t be scared to discipline your kids. Don’t be a sissy. But, don’t be a bully either.

Be the man of your family and stand up to your kids now. If you don’t, someone is probably going to punch them in the face. And if you bring them to Chick-Fil-A and they spit in another dad’s face, you might get punched in the face…even if you’re 40 years old.

First, let me say thanks to all the readers of this blog. I really appreciate the visits, the comments and the opportunity to share a part of your day and life through this creative outlet.

If you are new to Learning to Lead, I post weekly links to parenting experts’ articles, and I call them Beta. Beta is a climbing term. Here was my first Beta post.

To be a wise person and leader you must keep yourself exposed to as many diverse sources of information as possible. — Rick Warren tweet

All Pro Dad always has informative, list-based articles. Check this one out – 5 Toughest Things for Children to Talk About with Their Parents

I couldn’t agree more with Eric Geiger on his recent post called Experiences Not Toys

Here are two fascinating health articles to read, which got me thinking more about my children’s diets.

  1. This is is from Fast Company–with a nice infographic–about the benefits of breakfast.
  2. This health article from The Atlantic discusses how immediate gratification can be a predictor of adult obesity.

As my children begin to age I am more and more intentional about sharing my faith in Jesus Christ with them. I found this article helpful, and I hope you do too.

This funny image below explains a lot these days…

I was scared hanging 40-feet up on an overhanging granite wall by my fingertips and tiptoes. I knew my belayer had me if I fell, but I was scared, tired and ready to quit.

I yelled, “Let me down; I’m done.”

His reply was the inspiration I needed, “Are you sure?”

I pushed through the mental and physical challenges to top out on that route, and it was at that moment I knew I was hooked on rock climbing.

Hooked on a hobby. Again.

See, I’ve had so many hobbies that recently I realized my hobby is collecting hobbies.

Like all experts, I started collecting hobbies when I was young, baseball, then bike riding, then video games, then skateboarding, then girls, then the Marine Corps, then SCUBA diving, then journalism, then world travel, then girls, then backpacking, then survival, then girls, then the Army, then college, then my wife, then Jesus, then non-Christians, then missions, then contentment, then Jesus again, then rafting, then backpacking, then gardening, then skiing, then…

I realized that my hobbies had dictated the direction of my life. I’m thankful for where I’m at today, a great wife of 10 years, two incredible kids, an amazing place to serve, guys that exemplify friendship and a real, practical and personal relationship with God.

I wouldn’t have gotten here if I had kept on with those trivial pursuits. My life would’ve been much different and much less meaningful. There are times when love of self and hobbies almost took away the best blessings I’ve known.

What passions drive you? What road will your pursuits lead you down? Not only do these passions propel you down the road of life, they also set the expectations that others will have for you.

I began to ask myself, “What traits must authentic, world-changing men have?”

The first is passion.

I say authentic men must have a passion for living. I’m talking real passion, not just lust, greed, or some burning selfish desire. They must have a passion for living a meaningful life. Passion for a life well-lived, full of substantial, intentional and lasting good.

What really sets your heart on fire? Is it something damaging or harmful? Is it something that will enrich your life and the lives around you?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. (Proverbs 14)

It’s not too late to make a change in your passions.

I read about a man with real passion. King David, one of the most famous, successful kings in Middle Eastern history, was a man after God’s own heart. He worshipped His maker, His Savior, His protector and His anchor. He was zealous to please God.

Yeah, he slipped up with a hottie named Bathsheba (the wife of another man who was off to war who was later murdered), but David came back to his passion, knowing, serving and worshipping God.

We can learn from this leader’s example by coming back to God and giving up those old, destructive patterns, admitting our need for Him. David did, and he lived a meaningful, significant, world-changing life.

Read the song David wrote in Psalms 51. David was really sorry because he knew this grieved the one was most passionate about, God.

Get passionate today. Get passionate about finding out if God exists and knowing Him in a real way, not some TV evangelist way. Get passionate about surrendering that “thing” to God. Get passionate about His Word. Get passionate today.

Tenth Avenue North released their new album, called The Struggle. Check out their first release called Losing.

 

Here are the lyrics to this song:

I can’t believe what she said
I can’t believe what he did
Oh, don’t they know it’s wrong
Don’t they know it’s wrong
Well maybe there’s something I missed
But how could they treat me like this
It’s wearing out my heart
The way they disregard

This is love or this is hate.
We all have a choice to make

Oh, Father won’t You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

Well it’s only the dead that can live
But still I wrestle with this
To lose the pain that’s mine
Seventy times seven times
Cause Lord it doesn’t feel right
For me to turn a blind eye
Though I guess it’s not that much
When I think of what You’ve done.

This is love or this is hate.
We gotta a choice to make

Oh Father won’t You forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’ (oh no)
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

Why do we think that our hate’s gonna break a hard heart
We’re rippin’ arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
Cause pride wont let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but it’s just to burn them down
We think our pain is own apologies and get them to stop
Well truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not
Cause freedom comes when we surrender to the sound
Of Your mercy and Your grace, Father, send Your angels down

[X2]
Oh Father won’t you forgive them
They don’t know what they’ve been doin’
Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’
I feel like I’ve been losing

Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them
Cause I feel like the one losin’

More lyrics
All about Tenth Avenue North

The coolest softball field ever!

Being an office dweller by day, I try to keep the grandeur of God in front of me. One way I do that is by having awesome desktop photos. Here’s one of my favorite sources – Awesome Grand Canyon photos

I don’t wear a watch, but if I did, I’d like it to be one of these bad boys – Watches Men Like

Wildfires have been wrecking the western states the last couple of years. Several deaths, lots of property loss and acreage burnt (Some from arson too).  But did you see this house that barely escaped the flames?

The coolest link of the week…Why Climbing Should be in the Olympics

Check this video of a New Mexican bear roaming through Angel Fire ski resort lobby.

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