An Open Letter to Martin

In just about 3 weeks, I’ll have the privilege of traveling to Adacar, Uganda with a team of 10 other people through the organization, Children’s HopeChest to meet this guy for this fist time. His name is Martin, he is 15 years old, so I guess he is, and has been a teenager for a couple of years. I’m going to be honest here: teenagers make me break out in hives, mostly because they know more than me about the important stuff: celebrity gossip, cellular phones and pop music, and that makes me feel insecure and sweaty. Oh well, I think I’ll be sweaty there anyway so maybe I can hide my inherent fear behind a floppy hat. My care package for Martin is ready to go. It’s got a t-shirt, a couple of pairs of underwear, art supplies (I know he likes to draw), a harmonica (something he can annoy his grandmother with), and a deck of Uno cards. Uno cards are universal, right? I only know a handful of things about him, purely based on the description I received from Children’s Hopechest, so it will be awesome to get to know him a little bit more. He doesn’t know I’m coming, so I’m sending him this cyberletter to prepare him.

Dear Martin,

I pray for you every day. You know those letters I send you about stuff in the Bible? I really believe it because I’ve seen it work with my own two eyes. I see God’s hand of provision, His hand of protection and I see His hand of love. He loves you and wants you to know that. I’m coming to show you that you are set apart and loved. I haven’t met you yet but I know that you are an awesome kid. You probably like sports, but I’m really bad at sports, so you and I can play cards together.

I’m hoping you can teach me a few things–maybe sports? Or maybe a song in your language, or maybe you can just show me what you do every day.

I know I’m sending this digitally, so try to act surprised when I get there. See you (really!) soon. I’m looking forward to it.

with love,


*If you’d like to start a relationship of your own with a child almost as terrific as Martin. Click on one of the links above to get started. Children’s HopeChest is an awesome organization to partner with.

Hero of the Week: Lori Ventola

Two stories have been resonating in my brain over the last few days and I’m beginning to draw correlations. Correlations to my walk, to my faith, and what God needs us to learn about partnering with fellow believers in the work of the Lord.

I “met” Lori Ventola at last year’s Storyline conference in Portland. As much as you can meet anyone by being an audience member while she’s up on stage sharing her testimony and life’s work and then following her progress and exchanging a few personal e-mails this last year. Lori is amazing. She is establishing a mobile education system to educate children of the homeless. Her passion and vision had her winning a prize at the conference to further her work and she shared that vision with the members of the Storyline conference. Her story won a standing ovation from my friend and I (ahem, the only ones standing up, but I digress).

Lori began her work from her hometown of Denver, CO and this year her dream has grown, she’s “franchised” and is now having discussions with Missions and church leaders as to how to accomplish this effort in LA. Storyline members have been following her closely, supporting her financially and praying for her as well as contributing their own efforts. I had tingles down my spine when I read this post this other day. Lori is transparent. She writes when she feels discouraged, when she is fearful and when she sees the hand of God working. It’s this transparency that draws me in.

Then I got to thinking about the passage in Exodus 17: 8-15. Moses had commissioned Joshua to fight for the Israelites against the Amalekites in the desert. Moses, along with two men, Aaron and Hur, stood on a hill overlooking the battle. As long as Moses held his staff up, Joshua’s army was winning. But the battle waged on–and on, and when Aaron and Hur saw that they might be there for a while, they got a rock for Moses to sit on and the two of them held up Moses’ arms, it says, “so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

Friends, we have the privilege and the opportunity to see our brothers and sisters in Christ overcome the enemy, accomplish God’s work here on earth and as a blessing, we can see them succeed. It may be a tireless effort, we may feel like we never see the light at the end, but there is victory on the other side. We also have the privilege to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” Keep encouraging, keep praying, keep putting some muscle into it.

What can you do to hold up your friend’s arms today?

The Joseph-Jesus Correlation

It wasn’t until today’s devotions that I could really see, for the first time the Joseph-Jesus connection. This is a snoozer for you seminary kids and bible scholars, but for the rest of you, I hope you get something out of it:

What was the result of Joseph’s 17 years mistreatment and imprisonment?
Through this, one man ushered in the salvation of an entire nation.
He was beaten, bruised, wrongly accused, betrayed by his best friends and family.
Loved, so much, by his father–but separated.
Yet, after all of this, through all of this, he was raised to a higher place.
From that higher place he could offer salvation for a starving people and brothers desperate for forgiveness whether they knew it or not. Reconciliation for a family.
And so it was for Christ
Falsely accused.
Separated from his Father. A father who delighted in him.
The higher place He was initially lifted to was called the Place of the Skull, a place where previously death had prevailed. Yet when He was elevated to that place He was able to offer forgiveness and grace. Even while He hung there, He offered a thief a place with Him in paradise.
Then God gave Him a name. A name that is above every name and that at that name, Jesus, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord–the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
And so that grace never ends.

All Access

Did You Know?

-We have Someone who will guide us into all truth?

-Someone who speaks only what he hears from the Father?

-Someone who will tell us what is to come?

-Someone whose purpose it is to bring glory to God the Father and God the Son by taking what belongs to the Son and giving it to us?

-Everything that belongs to the Father and the Son is all available to us through…

The Holy Spirit
(John 16: 12-15)

This why we have faith that will move mountains, that can heal, that can bring the dead back to life, in the name of Jesus. When Peter explained to the beggar in Acts 3: 6, “I don’t have silver and gold, but what I do have, I’ll give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk, friend.” I don’t think that Peter was giving this man simply an amazing gift of mobility, he was giving him faith, he was give him hope and a gift that is available–within the grasp of every believer, to accomplish a miracle, through Him, the originator of miraculous feats.