Sunday, November 29, 2009


So have you ever felt like your life was insignificant? I have. In fact there are times when I wonder if I am making any difference at all. I often feel like my contribution to this world is like a tiny pebble being thrown in an endless ocean where any ripples created are immediately swallowed up, disappearing without notice or impact.

Then there are those moments when God allows you to see how you have touched someone's life. You know what I mean, you do something for someone and somehow brings hope where there was hopelessness or comfort to someone who is hurting or brings joy to those shrouded in sadness. These are the times that make me feel like I have something to contribute to this world. Though they may be few and far between, I think we have all had these moments.

So why do we feel so insignificant when we have the power to bring comfort, hope, joy and even life to people when they are desperately in need? Could it be that as much as God wants us to experience these things and share them with others, there is a battle raging to keep us feeling small and insignificant? Could it be that we are no different from the "insignificant" men and women who have gone before us and are written about throughout the pages of history? Just think for a moment about some of the people that God has used in the past. Moses, who didn't even think he could speak well enough to represent God let alone lead His people. How about David the shepherd boy who was overlooked by his father? Or the same David who was an adulterer? How about an insignificant teenage girl named Mary? Or a small group of fishermen and tax collectors who would literally turn the world upside down with their message and by laying down their lives?

Our lives are filled with meaning and purpose. This world is filled with meaningless stuff that is put here to distract us and keep us from experiencing all that God has created us for. Some people go with the flow and live for their own selfish ambition, while others will move to the beat of a different drum. They make decisions not based on what is best for them but what is best for Him and His Kingdom.

Today I was encouraged to continue swimming upstream and I thought that I would just write a little something that just might encourage some others to do the same. You have nothing to lose when you give your life away to others, but you have everything to lose when you give your life to this world.

I think Jesus said it best when He said:"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39) and "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36)

One day we will all breathe our last breath and on that day we will really know how significant our lives were.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

whatever happened to community?

A friend recently shared this quote from a book and there is no way that I could come close to doing it justice without just posting it. It is a bit long but worth every minute you will spend reading it.

"Our weaknesses and fears, much more than our achievements and successes, drive us inward and put us in touch with what is deepest, softest and most worthwhile within the heart. In that part of the heart we discover who we really are and there we understand that we are not what we achieve, but what is given to us.

Outside that, when we posture strength and lie and pretend, we learn falsely that life is not a gift to be shared, but a possession to be defended. The road to love and intimacy lies in a compassion born out of the perception of shared struggle and shared fear. When we genuinely see another's wound and struggle, then that other enters a deeper, more real, part of us.

But it is precisely here that the problem lies. More than anything else, we struggle not to reveal our pain and fears to others, for we have been falsely taught that community and love are grounded upon something else, namely upon impressing each other. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to intimacy and community is that propensity to believe that others will love us only when we are impressive or strong.

Because of this, we go through life trying to impress others into liking us. Rather than sharing ourselves as we really are--vulnerable, tender, struggling, full of fear--we try to be so sensational that there can be no possible reason not to love us.

Like the inhabitants of Babel, we try to build a tower that is so impressive that we overpower others. The result for us, as the result then, is counterproductive. Because of pretense, we go through life "speaking different languages," that is, unable to find a common ground upon which to understand each other. Understanding takes place through compassion and compassion is itself the fruit of shared vulnerability.

Thus, as long as we hide our struggles and fears, we will not find intimacy. When fears and struggle are hidden, when achievement, health, attractiveness and friendship are projected as automatic, then our talents, intelligence, wit, charms, beauty, and artistic and athletic abilities cannot be seen for what they are intended to be, namely beautiful gifts which enrich life.
They are projected, then, as objects of envy and they become forces which create jealousy and further wound.

When there is no shared vulnerability life becomes what we can achieve, and our talents are possessions to be defended.
We must therefore admit to each other the cost of our struggle. Our real fears must be allowed to surface. Intimacy lies in that.

Intimacy and community will be achieved only when we are so vulnerable that others can see that we share with them a common condition.

The threads of compassion and a concomitant intimacy will appear automatically when we present ourselves as we really are, without false props, as tender."
-Ronald Rolheiser

I have often wondered "whatever happened to the love and community that I read about in the New Testament?" "Why is it that to a large degree, the church today looks nothing like the Church we read about in the Bible?" Could it be that a lot of it has to do with fear? For instance, pastors are afraid to let people know that they don't have it all together and they don't have all the answers. In turn, people are then afraid because they now have this "superchristian" example that they feel like they need to live up to and the last thing they want is for others to find out that they are actually human. As a result, there is less intimacy and vulnerability and the church and the world are worse for it.

Or maybe I am just crazy and everything is OK. Maybe God never intended for us to live like the people in the New Testament. Maybe he just put that there so that we would learn and become so enlightened that we would never have to suffer like them or die to our own selfish wants and desires. Maybe in our day and age we wouldn't have to be failures like virtually every person (outside of Jesus) that God has ever used in a powerful way.

Yeah maybe everything is just the way that he wants it in our little world of fish sticks, i mean stickers, and Sunday morning churchianity...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Could It Be?

I recently returned from a mission experience in Guatemala. Inevitably after each of these trips I hear similar feedback and comments. One thing that people often ask is "why is it that I sense God's presence more in Guatemala than I do when I am at home in the States?" People also say things like "it seems like I can actually see God working here in a way that I don't see back home".

Is God more present in a third world country than He is in the U.S.? According to the Bible the answer is a resounding "NO!" God is omnipresent which means He is in all places at all times. So why is it that time and again people feel like this?

I am reminded of a story in the Bible where Jacob had a dream and encountered God. When he awoke he said "Surely the Lord is in this place and I was unaware of it." (Gen. 28:16) Could it be that as it was with Jacob, the Lord is actually "in this place" and we are simply unaware of it?

But what would make us more aware of His presence in a place like Guatemala as opposed to here?

Well, there are a few things that are different in Guatemala. First of all there is no television available to us. We have no access to the Internet and only limited access to a phone while we are there. We are not driven by time and our days are consumed with serving others and spending time in community as well as corporate worship and prayer.

Could it be that the reason we are able to see and sense God more during times like this is because we have less to distract us? Could it be that in some ways many of the "blessings" we enjoy have become a form bondage that keeps us from seeing and experiencing God in a deeper way?

Could our experience or lack thereof really have more to do with our own personal choices than God's presence being stronger in one particular place than another? Could it be that it is God's desire for us to experience Him in this way on a regular basis?

What a tragedy it would be if day in and day out "the Lord was in this place" and we were simply unaware of it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Predestined to be divided?

I often get questions about theology, doctrine and hot button topics. One that has come up a few times lately is the issue of predestination. While I feel that it can be profitable to explore such issues, it has also proven to be quite divisive.

Why do we feel a need to be so dogmatic about things that God has not spelled out clearly in His Word? Nowhere do find a neatly packaged explanation of the mysteries of divine sovereignty, predestination or election. If these issues where so important as to divide churches and break fellowship among brothers, why wouldn't Jesus have sat down and clearly laid this out to his disciples?

It is funny to me that so many followers of Christ feel the need to have ALL the answers. It is like they have to have God totally figured. What happened to the childlike faith that Jesus talked about. I am not talking about a faith that asks no questions or that doesn't challenge things. I am talking about an educated faith that is mature enough to allow room for God to be God.

In case you are wondering where I stand on this, I will simply say that I do believe that God is sovereign as His Word says. I also believe that we as individuals have the ability to make choices as we see throughout God's Word as well. When it comes to reconciling the two, I choose to leave room for God to be God.

I whole heartedly agree with A.W. Tozer who said:
"God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, "O Lord, Thou knowest." Those things belong to the deep and mysterious profound of God's omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints"(The Pursuit of God, pg. 64)


Were you predestined to read this or did you have a choice? Can you choose whether to agree or disagree with what I have written or was that predetermined? Must I keep typing because I was predestined to do so, or can I choose to get on with living a life that brings glory to God?

Could the answer simply be...yes?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What do I seek First?

This morning I spent some time with a small group of guys talking about a passage in the Bible where Jesus commands us not to not worry but rather to seek first His Kingdom (Matt. 6:25-35). Could it be that the reason we worry so much is because our focus is on so many things other than God's Kingdom? He says that worrying cannot add a single hour to our life and it solves nothing. If that is true, why does it consume us at times? Is it a lack of faith and trust that God will provide for our basic needs or is it that we have become so attached to our American lifestyle that we fear being stripped of some of our luxuries? I think for most of us it is the latter. Our fear isn't that God will fail to provide for our basic needs, our real fear is that we might be reduced to such a lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the blessings of living in such a prosperous country as much as the next person but it is sad to think that we often worry and fret over losing things that many people in this world only dream about ever having.

I just want to know the contentment of Paul who said; "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Contentment brings peace and I believe it is the cure to the bondage of worry and fear.

God help me to seek First You and Your Kingdom and to be satisfied with what you give and what you take away...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

19 Years and Counting...

My wife and I just recently celebrated 19 years of marriage. It is crazy to me to think that we have been married for that long! Time has flown by and I just love her more and more as each year passes. We have gone through a lot together and learned a lot in the process. I am forever thankful that God gave me such a beautiful, godly woman to share life with.

I read this note on her Facebook the other day and I couldn't help but share it with you. Rox, I hope you don't mind...

What I learned in Guatemala (Roxane Cuccia)
Fear not!
Do not be afraid of what people think about me, what people might do to me. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

Love more.
Love as Jesus loved. See past the person and into the heart. Be the hands and feet of Jesus by loving. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Things deceive.
American culture teaches us selfishness, self-centeredness and greed. Things are to become powerless in my life. They will rob me of my joy and steal my attention. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.

Live simply.
Live simply so I can share all I have with others.
I can buy new GAP jeans, or I can feed a family in Guatemala for a month. Do I really need GAP jeans? Am I afraid what you will think if my jeans are from Walmart or the thrift store? I tend to be shamelessly self-absorbed. What would Jesus choose? What would Jesus have me choose?

"If anyone is to follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

It is a profound privilege to have met the beautiful, precious people of Guatemala. It breaks my heart that they work so hard every day of their lives, just to survive.

If I choose to live with less, I could give away more. Give away food, medicine, love, life.

What is God calling you to do to make this world a better place? It will be a better place if we start to live a radical Christian life that is not about us.

Sweet Jesus Christ my sanity
Sweet Jesus Christ my clarity
Bread of heaven broken for me
Cup of salvation held up to drink
Jesus the mystery
Christ has died, and Christ is risen
Christ will come again.

After the last tear falls, may God be pleased with the way I loved His creation, and may my children see that they can change the world – one sandwich, one smile, one person at a time.

Friday, March 20, 2009


How ironic is it that the Bible clearly tells us "Be Still and know that I am God" (psalm 46:10) and the world that we live in is filled with things that distract us by the minute? Why is it so hard to be still? What is it that keeps us from the quiet? I have recognized that even in the "quiet" moments where there is no sound, there are distractions that flood my mind. In fact, even as I type this in the quiet space of my office I have been distracted by the buzz of my cell phone vibrating on the desk from an incoming call that I "had to take", another buzz from a Facebook post that I "needed to look at", the office phone ringing which I actually did need to answer so I could buzz someone in downstairs and the ringing sound of my computer telling me I have a new email. Literally this was all in a five minute period. And we wonder why it is hard to be still and know that He is God. Often I invite "noise" in my life more than I invite God in on a daily basis.

To know that He is God is to be reminded of who He is and to know, believe and understand His goodness, love, grace, mercy, compassion and endless blessing in our lives. If I could just be still long enough to ponder these truths maybe life wouldn't be so stressful. Maybe anxiety and worry would wash away as the truth of His presence in my life washes over me, giving me the peace He promised.

Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us "The Lord's lovingkindesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness." He is faithful and He is true to His word. Too often we overlook His faithfulness and focus on the things that we don't have. Much of the time what we don't have, we don't need and what we do have, we overlook as His blessing. As the verses above state, His lovingkindness Never ceases and His compassion Never fails, they are new every morning. He gives us enough for today.

He promises to give us enough for today and my hope and prayer is that I can learn to be quiet and slow down enough to recognize His provision and simply rest in that. Tomorrow will bring a new set of needs, concerns etc. and along with that will come a new dose of His provision, which is..."new every morning" great is His faithfulness!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another Man's Treasure

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a cornstalk hut with a dirt floor in an area where the temperature gets down to the 40s during the winter and upper 90s in the summer? No bed, no heat, no air conditioning. Just a dirt floor with some blankets and walls that you can actually see through. During the rainy season, not only do you get wet but the floor turns to mud.

Now think of a young child that you know and love. Maybe your own child, a sibling, niece or nephew or a grandchild. Can you imagine what it would be like to live in these conditions with that beautiful child by your side? How would you cope? What would your conversations with God be like? Could you bring yourself to believe that God is good even if you had little hope of change, outside of a miracle?

It's hard to imagine what that would be like. Most of us will never experience such struggle and pain personally, so when we see pictures or hear stories it is difficult to grasp the reality of it. It is so far removed from the way we live that we cannot understand the gravity of the situation.

So you can only imagine the rush of emotions I felt as I stood in the center of this very primitive structure that a beautiful family of four once called home. Words cannot do the experience justice. I can only say that it caused me to rethink almost every aspect of my life.

Thanks to the generosity of some God loving people, this family now lives in a modest block home that keeps them sheltered from the elements. Although the parents and children share the same room, they actually now have a floor to stand on and beds to sleep in. By our standards this would still be considered "extreme poverty", but they are not only content, they are extremely grateful. They would even call this a miracle.

Try to wrap your mind around that for a moment. We have all heard the expression "one man's junk is another man's treasure". These people look at this new home as an incredible blessing from God, while many of us would feel abandoned by God if we were reduced to such living. To give some perspective here, most of us park our cars in nicer structures than the new home this family enjoys.

Yet God loves us all just the same. God loves the people of Guatemala as much as He loves Americans. God loves Rosa and Luterio and their two beautiful sons, Manuel and Oscar, as much as He loves you and your family.

So why are some so blessed while others struggle desperately to survive? Why do some of us get to choose from a variety of colors of paint, carpet and tile while others don't even have walls around them or a floor to stand on?

Maybe we have some responsibility in the matter. Maybe the fact that we sometimes spend more on one meal in a restaurant than some families earn in two months time says something. Maybe it actually has something to do with obedience. Consider the words of John the Apostle who said:

"This 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. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
1 John 3:16-18

My hope and prayer is that this makes you as uncomfortable as I was when I stood in the middle of that cornstalk home less than a week ago. I can only pray that the people of God, including myself, would come to a deeper understanding of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Someone once said "there is too much need, we can't do it all". I would agree and simply say that God never intended for us to do it all, He just wants us to do our part. The big question is this; how will we respond to what God puts before us? Will we be obedient and help or will we be selfish and hoard?

The way I see it, God is inviting us to join Him as He answers the prayers of those in need...what an awesome can we pass that by?