Ceasing

For the past few years, I have regularly considered giving up blogging. Every three or four months or so, I would wake up, think about all the things going on in my life, and I would be 100% ready to stop blogging. And every time, that very same day, I would get an email, or a note, or a text thanking me for having written something that encouraged or motivated them.

And I would get back to my laptop and hack away at it.

Sometimes those encouragements would be from a close friend, and sometimes from someone I knew casually, and sometimes from a completely stranger. It never ceased to amaze me how God would use my ramblings to help someone else, and to give a voice to the voiceless and an image to the unseen.

But now I am sure that I need a break from blogging. Not just a week or a month, but for the rest of the year (or longer).

Read more about why I’ve made this decision…

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Summer Opportunities

MVF Serenity Farm
Hannah volunteered with Mill Village Farms. Now she’ll be working for them.

This summer will be busy with a new season for our family. And we are glad.

This will be our first full summer in Greenville in 5 years, and there is no doubt that that 2015 is very different than 2010. Five years ago, we had a house with a neighborhood pool, our kids went to a week of VBS, and we spent a lot of time with friends. (Of course, since I was a children’s pastor, summer was very busy.)

All of those are fine and well, but now we are in a new season. Part of the change is because our kids are older: Hannah (about to enter high school!) was our youngest’s age when we last lived in Greenville. And part of the change is that our focus is very different.

This summer, Hannah will be busy working her first real job, and for the first time ever, we will be assisting with (but not in charge of) a summer camp for local children.

Click here to learn more…

Job(s) Update: Have I Enjoyed Teaching?

Lead Academy

Next week, middle schoolers across the state will begin taking standardized tests. This includes my math students at Lead Academy.

Most teachers love the few weeks after testing and before the end of the year, since they get to come up with fun and engaging projects. Not me. My expertise is not in designing and leading projects, and I’m more about “working hard” than “having fun.” (Not exactly what middle schoolers look for in a teacher.)

Have I Enjoyed Teaching?

Over the past few months, when people have asked me if I’ve enjoyed teaching, I . . . hesitate . . . and . . . pause . . . for . . . a . . . while. . . . That is usually all the answer they need.

Don’t hesitate. Click here to learn more…

Clubhouse Kids: A Piece of the Puzzle

Let’s be clear about Clubhouse Kids, the new after school program in the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood (downtown Greenville, SC).

  • We are not substitute parents. Each of these children have a family that loves them, and that is their primary relationship.
  • We do not offer intensive tutoring and remediation. With the number of volunteers (anywhere from 3-5 on a day) and students (up to 18), we cannot give individual attention to every children who needs help with reading and homework.
  • We are not a counseling service. Some of our students have emotional challenges. While we aim to show love for each child, we don’t have time (or the know-how) to talk in-depth with each student.
  • We are not a local church. While we teach the Bible, communicate the gospel, and pray, we are not a replacement for a community of believers.

We are not replacements for parents, educators, counselors, or churches. But we can be a piece of the puzzle. Home and school are the biggest pieces of these children’s lives, but we believe that we can come alongside those other institutions.

And that’s what we are hearing from our students, their families, and their schools. Here are just a few examples:

You don’t want to miss these…

How to Solve Global Poverty

elephant_chainsxchu_siewlian1Don’t you wish it was that simple? Don’t you wish someone could come up with a solution to global poverty, in just a few easy steps.

We know that if solving poverty was simple, it would already be done. Still, we do not need to despair. Way-smart people have some great thoughts on this matter. We should all take heed.

In The Poverty of Nations, Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus describe “79 factors that will lead a nation to prosperity.” You can read this book (it’s on my list), or you can read this summary article on the Crossway blog. And if you don’t even want to read that (lazy!), just know that the main take-away is “work hard.”

Or, as a friend (who has read this book twice) notes, “The phrase repeated continually throughout the book is ‘a nation must produce more than it consumes.'”

Seriously. Read the book, or the article.

Another Option

Are 79 factors too much for you? Than you may prefer this video of Dr. Jay Richards. He boils down those 79 factors into 10 tough steps to ending poverty. (The video is 90 minutes long — 60 minutes of his lecture, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. It’s totally worth it.)

I didn’t agree with all of his ideas. But that doesn’t mean I’m right. I like being challenged with new ideas, to help me either to confirm what I believe or to grow in my knowledge.

Here are Dr. Richards’ principal requirements for a nation to be prosperous:

  1. Rule of law
  2. Government must focus only on maintaining the rule of law
  3. Property ownership that is accessible and consistent
  4. Economic freedom and free-trade
  5. Stable families and other important private institutions
  6. A belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense
  7. The right cultural mores (delayed gratification, willingness to risk, respect others, etc)
  8. A proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty
  9. A focus on your comparative advantage
  10. Hard work

My other main take-aways from this presentation:

  • Get away from continuous foreign aid, although “aid can help around the edges” (idea of the poor gleaning from fields in the Old Testament).
  • “People get wealthy in a free society largely by serving other people, by producing things for other people that they want and that they’ll buy.”
  • “The number one predictor of childhood poverty in America is whether the father lives in his home or not.” (see principle #5)
  • These 10 principles are all immaterial things, and not based on a nation’s access to natural resources.

Dr. Richards makes a good case that these principles apply at all levels — from whole nations to smaller communities. Which, for example, explains why Nasha Lending is working to enable individuals to become producers.

And remember, all these ideas are worth nothing unless we mobilize ourselves to put them into action.
Related Links:

**image courtesy of siewlian via sxc.hu

Lead, Again

Last Monday I posted this on Twitter:

This tweet only got one “favorite” — but it’s the one that counts: my employer.

The corresponding post on Facebook received 70+ likes and about 10 comments. I guess I know which social media account my friends prefer.

Learn how God answered my prayer, and why I need you to pray for me…

Engaging Your Business and Your Community

missiontoworship_14Nov Last fall, Grace Church hosted a Mission to Worship event. In case you missed it, I thought it would be beneficial to re-post the videos (and some thoughts) from the two main teaching sessions.

Building Significance in Your Business

First, Brian Gural facilitated a conversation with businessman Mike Pereyo. If you are a Christian business-owner, you will be challenged and encouraged by watching this. And even if you’re not (like myself), you will love the story of this company.  Click here to continue…