Dad's Proverbs


We all are quite screwed up.


God loves screwed up people. We were created to live loved. God’s wondrous love for us never changes. Living "unloved" (or seeking to be loved) causes so many poor decisions and deep wounds in people of every culture, race, and class.


Missionaries are not worthy of admiration. People who are surrendered to, and intimate with, Jesus (and humbly like Him) are worthy of admiration regardless of their place of residence or occupation.


Love and affliction both change one's soil, so that planted seeds can grow.


To selflessly care for one suffering is equally as beautiful as to suffer well.


Conflict, difficulty and pain are not expected at a party. All are, however, certain in war. In the “abundant life,” are we to expect a party or a war?


You are injured and must travel for medical help through a dangerous swamp that contains many pockets of quicksand as well as insects, reptiles, and other creatures that can further harm you. You may choose a guide. Your choices are as follows:

Continue reading


Teaching old dogs new tricks is a chore. Develop good habits early.


To love someone often indifferent, antagonistic, self-centered, insensitive, unaware of their "blind spots", and completely different, is the love of marriage. This also describes perfectly God's love for me.


It's often easier to serve God than to walk closely to Him, to trust Him.


A wise child is truly a parent's delight.


Growing older is over-rated. Cherish your youth!


Suffering is no respecter of persons or cultures.


The work and the burden are His. He builds His church. He heals. He transforms. We get to participate.


People who live many hours from any medical help break bones and have asthma, headaches, meningitis, diarrhea, lacerations, strokes...


Laughter is good medicine! Prov 17:22


I have seen joy in those desperately poor and misery in those with great wealth.


When we serve God in a foreign land, "self" is there


Why, within the church, do we esteem success, charisma, and confidence when the Head of the church honors and delights in humility?


20)To work for a "Thank you!" seems healthy but pleasing people invariably leads to frustration.


Maintaining intimacy (love) with God, our wife/husband, our kids, and our friends is a battle against many enemies (none of which are God, our wife/husband, our kids or our friends!).


A man finds a certain, needed fulfillment in work.


If luck or fortune influence any outcome, then God is either absent, impotent, or indifferent.


People are very much the same anywhere. They both reflect the beauty of their Creator and manifest the wounds of lives lived independently of Him.


Communication, principally through conversation, is the foundation of intimacy in any relationship (with God, our spouse, our kids, our friends, those we lead...).


The outcome of obedience often looks different than what you may expect.


Advice is typically responded to neither immediately, nor exactly in the manner advised.


Wise counsel must be owned to be beneficial.


A journey is simply the accumulation of many small steps toward a destination. Life is the accumulation of many little lessons learned, many little wounds, many little failures, many little joys, many little encounters, many little special moments… Embrace the “little” things today


You will not "arrive" in this lifetime. Appreciate the journey.


The wounds caused by a friend or brother hurt more profoundly because of a perceived violation of trust.


I can change no one.


"Should" carries burden not from our Father. Those truly loved don't know this word.


Pain and illness are worse without transportation, a soft chair, and some savings.


Needs are opportunities for God's children to approach their Father and inquire if and how they might respond. Our calling is not to meet needs but rather to walk in intimacy with our Father; He will direct us to the needs (where He is preparing the soil for His seeds).


To chase after certain results or outcomes is exhausting. We are called rather to "delight in the Lord" and "seek first His kingdom".


God, life, love, and people (including me) are beyond my understanding. Actually, most things are beyond my ability to understand but not beyond my ability to appreciate.


A sense of wonder ("Wow!") honors the Creator. Sincere gratitude honors the Giver.


If we look, we will see God's provision in every situation and we can acknowledge His purposes, though we see "through a glass dimly."


Trust is gained over time and testing, and can be lost in a moment.


Our enemy frequently whispers suggestions and lies. Jesus constantly knocks at the door of our heart. We choose, moment by moment, who we will invite in, embrace and follow.


To forgive is to free the offender, but even more to free the offended.


God takes special pleasure in bringing life to that which is dead, light to darkness, wholeness to that which is broken, freedom to one held captive, and joy to those oppressed. If you seem dead, in darkness, broken, captive, or depressed…


To trust in God's love, goodness and control is to live burden-free.


Passion comes and goes but love endures our fickle emotions.


To work hard, and to provide for oneself and one's family, is better than receiving something for nothing.


Encouragement is greatly undervalued and desperately lacking, within the church.


Criticism (speaking ill to another) and slander (speaking ill of another) have more power to harm than physical assault. Most people would never physically assault another, but …


To ask questions and listen is to honor and love.


Joy results from focusing on God's beauty and goodness, not on mine.


God's will for your life has more to do with where you are than where you are to go.


Nothing of value is gained without effort and cost.


Duty and obligation are motivators when love is doubted or unknown.


God prefers to use broken, screwed up people.


I have more than a few regrets. All of them resulted from choosing for a season to walk independently of my Father.


Kingdom thoughts: "Father, what do you think about this?" “Father, what would you have me do (say)?"


Marriage and raising young kids are like working a 24 hr shift or living in a hot, bug-infested shack; who you really are is revealed.


I need often to rest and be still.


Facades (the most common: "I have it all together.") deceive and harm both the owner and the observer. Humility, confession and transparency edify especially others.


Fear (of loss, failure, embarrassment, etc,) motivate many decisions in people of every culture.


For all of the (human) faults in the Christian church, the beautiful, consistent, unmeasurable (human) sacrificial work done in Jesus' name, historically (and presently), for the hurting and helpless is not matched even remotely in Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, Islam, Socialism, Secularism, or any other religion/movement…


Many Christian leaders love the crowds and not the people.


Perfection can be experienced by never being imperfect, or by having all imperfection erased.


Too much of something healthy can be unhealthy.


Seeds won’t yield a harvest from soil that hasn’t been well prepared.


Expectation of life, people, and ourselves is inversely related to contentment (more expectation - less contentment; less expectation - more contentment).


To lose a known love (through death, rejection, separation…) is to be wounded deeply. Jesus said, "I will never leave nor forsake you."


A thankful heart is deeply healing.


“Christian” religion is one of our enemy's most powerful tools.


All people, in every culture, are wounded, broken, weak, and afraid. Some realize it.


A healthy rhythm for living: Pour yourself into work and into relationships and take time to recover.


Learn in order to gain appreciation rather than understanding.


Those who wound you don't fully realize what they are doing.


To lead is to initiate - in encouraging, serving, listening, forgiving, supporting, steering, correcting, loving...


To trust is to loosen one's grip.


Your trial is for another’s benefit.


Humility’s reward is often humiliation... ignored, misunderstood, disregarded, disrespected, rejected, irrelevant... To follow Jesus is to walk in humility.


When we condemn ourselves for our past, we are one person judging another.


Our "illusion of control" excludes God.


God is interested in developing much more in us than ease and prosperity would provide.


Different cultures are fascinating to compare. It's easy to see our own culture's strengths and another's weaknesses, but all cultures have plenty of both.


Maturity is measured not in years but in wisdom.


Wisdom is demonstrated in the making of sound decisions.


Because we all so often err, perhaps the most valuable genuine words of any relationship are, "I'm sorry."


Decisions made for short-term benefit will increase long-term liability. Decisions made for long-term benefit will require short-term cost.


A problem requires a response, not a solution. The solution/outcome is God’s responsibility. Only my response is my responsibility.


In our American church culture, we greatly encourage people to spend much time and effort building huge, beautiful, elaborate mansions on sand. Many of our leaders live in such dwellings. Few build on rock.


Spiritual and emotional wounds often contribute to physical ailments.


How you say something communicates more than your words.


Success is more about how you journey than about the destination.


Balance your time and effort between your tasks and relationships.


To know truth and not apply it is to carry water in a cracked bucket.


Banana trees are abundant in the Amazon. To seek bananas in the woods of Ohio is silly. To pick and enjoy a fruit, one must search for the tree that produces that particular fruit, where it grows. Happiness is the fruit of healthy relationships and work well done. These are accessible only with significant effort.


To seek one's value in the praise of men is to seek nourishment from chocolate.


Physical exercise benefits the mind as much as it does the body.


Those who die as the result of their folly are many; those who die as the result of their wisdom are few. 
— African Proverb



To hear God's “voice” takes practice and effort. Anything of value requires the same.


98)More resources (money, relationships, knowledge, gifts, etc) require more decisions.


Religion promises God and delivers self.


Grace and mercy, purely given or received, are miracles of healing on the level of giving sight to the blind.


A self-worshipping man who is transformed and worshipping Jesus is a far greater miracle than a paralytic walking, yet which would more excite most "Christians?"


Success in God's kingdom is not about results or achievement. Success is walking humbly as a son/daughter, listening to what the Father is saying, and obeying.


In this world you will see and receive little grace (unearned favor), therefore extend grace.


Most of us would never think of building a boat and journeying to Brazil without instructions or experience, yet in adolescence, marriage, and parenting we begin journeys infinitely more complex and yet think that we need neither instruction nor experience to journey well.


One who is humble is always learning. One who is proud never grows.


Today is greatly affected by yesterday and will significantly impact tomorrow. Focus on today.


The things of this world (success, esteem, security, pleasure, etc) can appear quite attractive. To seek them is to search for a purported great treasure that, when found, is a beautiful, empty chest.


One who follows “the crowd” loses his identity.


Our character is revealed not in how we feel about something, but rather in how we respond.


A kind word brings light and warmth to one whose day may be dark and cold.


Those who know God desperately want to know Him.


Conflict is not unhealthy. Your response to it may be.


He who is faithful in little things will be given more.


In the work place, honesty, integrity, hard work, and good people skills will always have more value than ability, education, and experience.


Illness is no more of the devil than a hurricane or a physician's error. The real question is, "Do I trust God?" (Who is all-powerful and good, cherishing all involved, and who could have altered the circumstance, yet chose not to).


To murder is wrong. To shoot someone in the back is to shoot one defenseless, and is worse. To slander (speak ill of one not present) is the same.


He can be trusted who knows that he will one day stand before God.


Our choices affect our health and well-being far more than do other people.


Many who are in want choose to be.


God loves allowing people to participate in His works of love, healing, rescue, teaching, encouraging, listening...


The participation of the hand in a task created by, chosen by, and guided by, the Head, in no way indicates that the Head didn't create, choose and guide the work.


No storm continues forever and the most severe are usually the shortest.


Why does physical healing need to be miraculous (in our perception) for God to receive glory and gratitude?


Each and every breath is a gift that, before our birth, we didn't request or earn.


You see a life "cut short" as a travesty, but when was the last time that you thanked the Giver of life for this single, additional, given day?


Regarding God, seeking to understand Him and His ways completely is like seeking the end of a rainbow. The closer you think you are, the less you see.


He who respects will be respected.


In this world you will see little just and fair; be just and fair.


Worship is not singing. It is a pleasure, however, to admire, appreciate, and surrender to God (worship) in song.


The way of the Kingdom is usually opposite of our desires and the ways of the world.


To gain experience is to experience failure. Experiencing failure provides opportunity to gain valuable experience.


Many think that knowledge (education) equals expertise. True expertise cannot, however, be gained without much practice and experience, over much time.


To love is to experience pain, rejection, disappointment, misunderstanding, and vulnerability. Love still, for life without loving is worse than any of these.


Those things most significant in this life are unseen (Love, hate, peace, joy, despair, desire, hope, trust, faith, etc). "See" these!


The world unseen is at war. One who seeks peace, joy, faith, and love steps into this unseen, yet very real, conflict.


To neglect the unseen in this life is to walk through a rose garden blindfolded. You are able to still appreciate aroma, texture, etc, but you are unable to appreciate that part of the garden most beautiful.


Every person, thing and circumstance has within it and about it both good and bad, both beautiful and ugly, both strength and weakness. We choose, however, on which we allow our eyes, ears and hearts to focus.


To do good things is not "Christian." To live in intimate relationship with Jesus is "Christian."


Why do preachers need to shout and carry on so when they speak about the Kingdom? When did Jesus do that?


Jesus didn't call us to be good people, He called us to Himself.


In every circumstance and in every encounter, there is more going on than we perceive.


Desire is like a knife. It can be sharp or dull, strong or weak, large or small and can be used for either constructive or destructive purposes.


Pain and loss are difficult for anyone to endure and require time from which to recover.


Don't make decisions of any significance when you are tired.


To have a good sense of humor is to smile easily, not to be able to make people laugh.


For every personal strength, there is a corresponding weakness. For every personal weakness, there is a corresponding strength.


To dwell on what you lack is to not appreciate the much that you have.


You've been called to do what you can do, not to do what you can't do. The ear has been called to hear but it has not been called to smell or run. Focus on that which you can do, and do it well.


With decisions, the choice is often between inner peace, accompanied by outer conflict, and outer peace, accompanied by inner conflict.


An excellent metaphor for life is that of a journey. To remember that a difficult uphill climb will always be followed by a downhill grade offers hope. To remember that an easier, downhill stretch will most certainly be followed by a tough climb keeps one humble.


The counsel of one 70 has been tried more than that of one 50, and the counsel of one 50 has been tested more than that of one 30.


To love without receiving love is as unhealthy as receiving love without loving.


To be critical of the behavior of someone who doesn't know God's love is to criticize, from the comforts of civilization, the decisions of one stranded for many years on a deserted island.


God doesn't need missionaries to accomplish His work to the unreached just as Jesus demonstrated clearly that He doesn't need physicians to heal. He also doesn't need preachers to communicate truth or to lead someone to Him and He doesn't need us to pray for Him to respond to a crisis. But He enjoys greatly allowing the people that He loves to participate in what He wants to accomplish.


Before giving advice, listen, think and pray. Flippant, dispassionate advice is too often voiced and most often best held.


Give an opinion if asked for it. Soil must be ready for the seed to yield life.


Silence is better than many words.


Opinions are a dime a dozen. Remember this when you hear or give one.


Loss and pain challenge trust.


God draws people to His kingdom, God frees the captive, God heals disease, God gives hope to the brokenhearted, God gives life, God gives wisdom and understanding, God comforts the wounded... and He may use you to accomplish any of these!


People are too caught up in their own affairs to spend much time dwelling on you.


Seek to free rather than to control.


To love my enemies and those difficult requires trust in God's care for me and in His complete ability to intervene in any circumstance at any time.


Do you want to learn? Observe, ask questions.


Repetition is the key to learning information and skills.


The wonder of God's creation is endless for those who will wonder.


In decisions and responses, what you think is more important than how you feel.


Consider the heart of the hearer before speaking.


To compare oneself to another is to compare two movies after viewing one completely and looking at a single frame of the other.


God's directing of your journey and His joy in creating uniquely you is discounted when you compare yourself to another.


We need to be reminded often of the truths that we already know.


The "Good News" is that screwed up people are loved and cherished by a wonderful Father.


To worship is to focus one's "eyes" on the object of worship.


Seeds of correction, instruction and discipline planted in soil not fertilized with encouragement will not yield growth.


Opinions are a dime a dozen but correction brought by one willing to contribute to the solution is worth hearing.


Love freely but trust must be earned.


One who doesn't appreciate the value of something cannot be trusted with its care.


Aspire to that which you admire.


In what manner do you love to serve people (work)? Pursue this as a vocation.


Superficial experiences and an inward-focused intellectual learning too often mark today’s church, rather than intimate and transparent outward sharing of our lives with one another…


Those who abandon their earthly lives because of Jesus cause confusion and wonder. Those who seek comfort and prosperity and also speak of Jesus communicate a double-mindedness that impacts little the people around them…


We are called to proclaim the Kingdom in season and out, with our lives and our words, and we are not called to stand in front of a group and speak.


Too often, we live the life that most benefits us and we look for ways to love/serve “on the side”. The global needs (in people just like you and me) are beyond description, and are largely going unmet by those who attend church on Sundays…


We can arrogantly dictate or declare what our Father should/must do or we can humbly seek His wisdom and abilities to bring about a result pleasing to the One who knows best. It is this trust that leads to “peace that passes understanding” not the granting of our every request and desire (which He doesn’t do anyway). He invited and promised to respond to our every “knock,” our every request. Sometimes the “treatment” or solution, however, requires a painful remedy, and we reject it as from Him because it isn’t immediately pleasant. Trust in our Father (as with a doctor, mechanic, veterinarian, etc) requires trust in One with more insight/experience/wisdom/ability than we have…


We are called to abandon our lives to love our Father and to meet needs, to serve, and to love our fellow man. Can you imagine what this world would look like if all who called themselves Jesus-followers searched out real human needs that were not being met? If all selfish pursuits were disregarded because we passionately believed in God’s pleasure rather than our own, in the well-being of others before our own, and that He is really preparing an eternal home for us that makes this world look like the trash pile which embraced my ultrasound? Keith Green used to say that if Jesus is taking several thousand years to prepare heaven and He created this world in six days…


Without active and conscious surrender to Jesus… I will seek to be loved rather than to love, I will seek to be served rather than to serve, I will seek man’s praise/favor rather than my Father’s pleasure, I will seek to be honored rather than to honor, I will seek personal comfort/ease rather than comfort for another…


When we pray, like many patients, instead of presenting to Him our concerns and seeking His “treatment” or solution, we arrogantly tell our Father what to do. How much better to present to Him our difficulties, hurts and challenges and humbly request whatever solution He deems best (trusting His experience and wisdom)?


We forget that our Father’s Kingdom is about His grace and undeserved love (running father of the prodigal son), not human goodness, performance or “character”. Those transformed by grace value and adore the One who affectionately and joyfully embraced them (and other screwed up people) when they didn’t deserve it, but there are many proud, religious and “upright” (based on comparative performance) prodigal older brothers who weekly attend (or lead) church services and value/emphasize human goodness.


We become frustrated and disillusioned by people’s errors and mistakes and forget that their hurtful or neglectful behavior is normal and human. If we think someone is “good,” we simply don’t know him/her well enough!


Everything is difficult at first, but nothing remains difficult with a little practice and experience.
—One of our minimally educated nurses in Cavango



If we can maintain the humility of a learner and appreciate the reality/necessity of gaining experience (giving ourselves and others permission to fail and make mistakes), we will grow into that which now seems overwhelming.


The ways that we can deeply impact people – serving them, expressing our joy in them, affirming them… require little skill, talent, knowledge or intelligence…


From the God-is-at-my-beck-and-call perspective of much of today’s American “church,” one can understand the draw of this reasoning (supported by a host of bible verses), but hungry and homeless Jesus responded by essentially saying that there is so much more to life than one’s wants and needs, that man isn’t satisfied in having his earthly desires met and that seeking earthly satisfaction is not mankind’s principal pursuit.


Jesus people no longer “want” not because our wants are given to us by our Father (the message of many preachers), but rather because we are so committed to our relationship with God (and surrendered to Him) that our earthly wants grow dim in the light of our passionate pursuit of Him. We develop a godly carelessness about satisfying self as we seek first His kingdom, and we rarely pray for personal “bread” because we are so preoccupied with others lack of “bread” and with our Father’s heart to be known by those who don’t know Him.


Many Christians today live what they consider a “biblical” life (going to church, being nice, helping others, praying, reading their bible…) and yet know little of peace and joy (the fruit of the spirit has nothing to do with earthly circumstances). They ignorantly miss the enemy’s deception (that was clearly outlined in Jesus’ wilderness encounter) and agree with the enemy that they should not experience hunger and should always have “bread.” They think that, because they are a “new creature,” they will be happy/content/satisfied and, because they now belong to God, circumstances will favor them (they think this is “abundant life”). Disillusionment follows because reality never lines up with this theology…


As He did with His Son, our Father chooses earthly difficulty for those that are His! He sends His beloved into battle, into circumstantial tribulation, difficulty and darkness, into pain and into discomfort for the sake of those that He loves who are wandering in the darkness and haven’t yet encountered the Light.


When Jesus-people worship and follow God in humility, weakness, brokenness and loss, that our Father is truly glorified in our works, causing hungry people to take notice and seek out His Light.


What passionate Jesus-lovers “gain” is disregard for their own ambitions, disregard for their own success, and disregard for their own comfort. They become concerned about others’ gain and become burdened with compassion toward those hurting. They embrace living with less so that others can have more. They go to where there is need, with disregard for their personal “security,” safety and happiness. They don’t ask their Father to satisfy their hunger and they aren’t consumed with their own wants and health because they “take no thought” of their temporal desires so that their lives can be consumed by responding to the hunger and loneliness of their friends and enemies (Kingdom love). They know whose they are and where they are going, and this enables them to have no earthly concern for “bread.”


If you are today facing earthly affliction, illness, loss, or tragedy, you have been placed in a position of great potential usefulness to your Father and to others. For a short season, you’ve been chosen to enter the cold darkness of pain and/or loss, to radiate warmth, light and your Father’s presence where it is not expected. Your response to your pain (seen by those around you) gives evidence that light (even a little) is so much more powerful and beautiful than darkness.


When our lives come to be written at last, God grant that they be not only our sayings, but our sayings and doings.



Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.


Being misunderstood is a given when walking with Jesus.


As the healed blind man can forget what it was like to be blind and take his sight for granted, we can take our Father’s presence with us for granted and forget what life is like without Jesus. As the seeing man can choose to be blind again, we can choose to live independently of our Father, each with its respective consequences.


We can live today in expressed gratitude and worship for His demonstrated love for us, for the joy He has in us, and that we can trust Him that EVERY detail (pleasant and unpleasant) of our lives has an eternal purpose…


In one thousand years your painful, tragic circumstances will look differently as you embrace your once-lost loved one, as you are embraced by someone who saw Jesus when he saw you walk with Him through your earthly pain and loss… and as you are embraced by another that met Jesus because you could relate to her brokenness and hunger and truly care…


There is nothing more beautiful than a genuine smile that radiates from a joyful heart!


Our joy in another affirms their value and warms a cold and lonely heart. It is similar to how knowing Jesus transforms us. Nothing “lifts my spirit” more than remembering my Father’s joy in me…


It is a unique satisfaction that ANYONE can experience; to serve the truly needy, to love those others will not love, to go where others are unwilling to go…


In being responded to when they have desperate, seen/felt earthly needs, those hurting often become open to Jesus’ unseen, eternal Kingdom.


Conflict and confrontation are often catalysts that stimulate change in a relationship. Like anything volatile, however, they can be powerfully constructive or powerfully destructive.


The church in the west models that materialism, comfort, and technology are “life.” Our words preach Jesus and our lives (our house, our work, our technology, our mode of transportation, our clothes, etc.) preach materialism…


In the western church, we have forfeited so much of the Kingdom in our pursuit of temporal, material wealth and comfort…


No message is valid without credibility and the greater the cost or risk required by the message (following Jesus requires abandoning one’s life), the more necessary the credibility of the message and/or the messenger.


Jesus’ Good News is about eternal life, uninterrupted by inevitable death. It is about hope… in the midst of pain, hunger and loss (Jesus stated that in this life we would all face trouble and difficulty). The reality of His Kingdom offers hope for a life eternal, better than anything this world can offer. Our choice is to believe and pursue Him or to believe and pursue that which we see, feel and understand.


“Abundant” earthly life has always been “daily bread” and the “fruit” of intimacy with God’s spirit and nothing is new under the sun.


That we are on a journey is key to understanding our Father’s kingdom… each of us on a unique journey with our Shepherd. The more closely we journey with our Shepherd is dependent on how much we abandon or diminish other pursuits and desires (we – I – try so hard to serve many masters). Each journey passes through seasons pleasant and unpleasant, and involves turns (decisions) made wisely and poorly…


Our respective journeys (with our fellow man) have apparent similarities, but only for a season, like two people crossing paths (we have paths in rural Angola instead of streets or sidewalks). Where each came from and where each will go is completely unique to the other, and we can do much harm in assuming that the perspective/journey of another is similar to ours. It is always far more different from ours than it is similar…


There is a solid “why” behind every one of my Father’s commands and every bible passage has spiritual and practical implications. For example, Jesus admonished us to “deny ourselves.” A primary and practical reason for this command has become increasingly clear to me as we have worked among those with great needs. If I primarily focus on my own life/blessing, the lives and needs of others are primarily disregarded. If I disregard myself, others receive what otherwise would have been mine. Since my Father promises to care for me, I can give to others what He gives to me and trust His continual care for my needs. We all benefit greatly from our Father’s “other-focus” and His Spirit in us is always seeking an outlet…


The pervasive (it’s in every church/denomination) health and wealth movement of today has missed our Father’s heart. Jesus emphasized that we are conduits, blessed to be a blessing. He knew (and communicated repeatedly) that abundant life consists of possessing nothing and blessing others abundantly. To focus on one’s own happiness/“blessing” is to miss Jesus, while to empty oneself of personal ambition and to focus on benefitting others is to become full. This is a kingdom paradox that remains hidden in our superficial church age, often characterized by the pursuit of “personal” fulfillment and “healing.”


It seems that the only time I hear someone speak positively of sacrifice (a four letter word these days) is in relation to how good, or how much satisfaction, the one making the sacrifice will feel. When we first left for cross-cultural work among the “poor,” I can’t tell you how many people said to us, “I hope you find fulfillment” or “I hope you find what you are looking for,” because this is the mindset of our American culture (and church). Our journey over the years has confused many who have not embraced Jesus’ emphasis for His people (which was His own motive): go and give your abilities/energy/life for the sake of others, for the sake of others, for the sake of others… He left His home and gave His life to meeting the needs of others…


The emphasis in the church today is so often about my salvation, my fulfillment, my joy, my faith, my health, my peace, my ministry, my doctrine, my achievement, my, my, my…, while the Kingdom emphasis has always been… “they”/“their”. Like Jesus, we are to live for their salvation, for their healing, for their peace, that their joy may be complete, that they may be one, that they may know Him… they/their…


Superficiality (emphasis on the seen and on what money can buy), arrogance (the humble are always seeking/learning; the arrogant always “know”) and distraction (our attention diverted by the bombardment of the superficial and temporary) will define this modern age. That we are a pornographic culture is evident in that in so many ways we would rather experience (and purchase) artificial and immediate gratification, than pursue (over time) the beauty of the deeper, unseen relational fruit of Kingdom life. Are you and I a product of our age/culture or set apart?


In the west, we make decisions based on our emotions and what we perceive will bring us pleasure (make us happy). This cultural phenomenon is (and always has been) found only among the extremely wealthy. On our journey, we’ve been able to see first-hand that the poorer cultures don’t have this liberty, as they must do (regardless of the resulting emotions) what is necessary (for themselves and the community) or they won’t survive. Expectations from life are minimal and desires beyond the necessary are not considered relevant. Only in extreme prosperity can one consider “happiness,” or the pursuit of the same, as relevant to life. In all cultures since the flood (until very recently, historically), working (hard) for needs has been the priority, rather than even considering “wants.” “Happiness” in the west consists of an accumulation of wants/desires, as no one would be “happy” with having only their needs met. Contentment (different than happiness) in rural Angola is found in many who have nothing more than their basic needs of very simple food (same meal -grits- twice/day), water, clothing (debatably necessary, depending on the tribe) and shelter (a roof under which to sleep in the rain and to store dried goods).


The pursuits of personal happiness and prosperity necessitate very different decisions than those made so that everyone in the community (or world) has their needs met.


This world lacks no resources (even for six billion people), but the hoarding of resources by those chasing “happiness” is the primary cause of global poverty (lack of basic needs), and always has been. It has been my observation over years that desire for, or pursuit of, anything more than our needs promotes ill health over the long-term, even as it gives short-term pleasure (like overeating, which we now know is as chronically unhealthy as under-eating). Prosperity promises much and yields fatigue, frustration, anxiety and emptiness. There is an epidemic of anxiety and depression among those living in the wealthiest cultures in history, where the pursuit of happiness is the cultural norm.


Personal, community and global health would be realized if we disregarded, rather than pursued, desires beyond our basic needs.


The age-old struggle to see people as distinctly beautiful, whole “persons” rather than as objects has become more profound as we see even ourselves as comparable commodities rather than as uniquely and purposefully gifted creations. Becoming “comparably better” has replaced embracing and valuing “uniquely beautiful.” Realizing and valuing the uniqueness of each person eliminates comparison, while seeing people as objects invites comparison. Today, everything, including people and churches, are analyzed by comparison.


The bible speaks of the self-focused, never-satisfied, five-senses “flesh” (the physical body) and how it has the ability to destroy the real, inner person, which is “housed” in the body. The emphasis in much of the church today on the appearance and health of our body and on what we experience with our senses (the flesh), is a concerning emphasis indeed, and evidence of our embrace of the superficial…


Rural Angola is a world of margin. There is never hurry or “too much to do and too little time.” There is always time for a conversation or interruption. Everyone gets plenty of sleep, as they follow the design of the day, typically resting or sleeping for 11-12hr/day. Again, our attractive technology and “progress” has promised leisure, margin and happiness and has caused over-commitment to the irrelevant, resulting in stress unknown in rural Angola. Productivity in the west has yielded an ever-hungry covetousness that no previous culture has known. I marvel (from Africa) that some of the candidates in this year’s presidential election in the US (2016) are appealing to the voters by communicating that the US economy needs improving. The richest country/population in history…


I’ve come to realize that with virtually every purchase we make (or consider), we add superficial distraction to our lives (“worried and bothered by so many things”), which moves us further away from our Father’s unseen Kingdom and the conscious appreciation of His presence. I’ve heard so many American Jesus-lovers (including me) over the years wonder why they don’t know “peace that passes understanding,” and I believe the answer lies in the overwhelming distraction that inevitably accompanies prosperity. This rural Angolan culture knows little of distraction, as the people here make almost no purchases at all (our village has no store) and peace is more prevalent here than in the US, even in the midst of great need and suffering.


I’ve lived among people experiencing profound tragedy, significant loss (including death of a loved one), severe acute and chronic pain, and none of these push us away from our Father and the life for which we were created more strongly than does material prosperity.


When the “seen” becomes our passion, we have turned our back on our Father’s Kingdom (can’t serve two masters), who has designed this life like a parable, where only those hungry for Him will seek out and find Him (to seek one thing requires the neglect/abandonment of other pursuits). The riches of this life are unseen (God himself and His fruit – Gal 5.22-23) and when we focus on the seen, we are distracted from the unseen. To “walk in the Spirit” is to follow an unseen God, to listen to a “still, small voice,” and to emphasize the unseen priorities of His kingdom. Would our priorities, our passions, our purchases, etc change at all if God’s Spirit left us? It was for our benefit that Jesus said that one cannot serve God and money…


Humility is such a necessary component of a Jesus ministry. We are not called to have all the answers, to fix all the problems, to lead crusades, or to have it all together, but rather we are called to be witnesses of the impact of encountering the risen Jesus and living in His presence. I must remember that, in the eternal scheme of things, I am quite insignificant (many people in Angola haven’t even heard of the United States, let alone me). It’s taken me more than a few years to realize and embrace this insignificance, and to see that we are called to have a small impact on a few insignificant others, all of whom are cherished by our Father. Little opportunities to make a small impact on a few are always before us…


We will encounter on our journey a few who are hungry for Jesus, and it is to these few that we must devote ourselves. Jesus prioritized Peter, John and James and we, also, are called to deeply impact a few… Let’s keep our eyes open today for the one or two… the one or two that we can befriend, who will receive from us, and who we would die for.


When we are serving Jesus well, we won’t know how we are making an impact, as we won’t be interested in counting our fruit (numbers), but we will be consumed with the others’ benefit and our Father’s pleasure. Humility isn’t interested in personal success or ambitious goals because its focus is “other” (it won’t even remember what it did yesterday because there are many to serve and encourage today).


An outward, today focus is the key to kingdom life! This focus is not the key to happiness, as it quite costly, but it is in this focus that we find our Father’s pleasure (quite different from personal happiness). Many of the early disciples suffered miserably and lost their lives while in their Father’s pleasure…


So much in this world aims to steal our passion for Jesus and we need help to maintain “our first love.” We aren’t necessarily empowered by Sunday speeches, rituals or programs, but from sober connection with like-minded Jesus-lovers we will always find encouragement. This encouragement from kindred spirits pushes us… to further abandonment from the superficial pursuit of self-fulfillment, and will empower us to continue to follow hard after Jesus, no matter the cost/hardship/pain. Who can you join with today to encourage, helping each other to give your lives away for the sake of another?


My still-present, self-pleasing nature (“all is vanity”)… It is with me all day, every day and constantly pits itself against what is wise, good, and healthy for me and for others. The battle within of wise vs unwise, healthy vs unhealthy, me-focused vs other-focused, God’s will vs my will, etc rages continually. One would think that after so much time and experience, the battle would be easier. It isn’t. Perhaps it’s easier once one leaves house and home for His sake? It isn’t. The daily battle to walk closely with our unseen Father, even when He has “revealed” Himself to me so many times and in so many ways, is… a battle. One day we will see our reward, in the form of their presence with us around our Father’s throne…


The good news of my Father’s grace is no less significant to me now than it was thirty years ago. My nature is still contrary to Him. I am still screwed up in so many ways. I am still not “good” and I’m often indifferent, rebellious, distracted and unaware. But Him? He is beautiful… and more beautiful to me today than thirty years ago, because for thirty years He has forgiven me, cleansed me, given me umpteen new beginnings, picked me up, lifted my head, directed me, rescued me, encouraged me, embraced me… My heart is full of worship this morning because of who He is, not who I am. When I look at myself, my work, the world’s mess and pain, the evil all around me, the way people are treated by others… I can become quite discouraged. But when I look at Him… what joy!


“I will remember today, and trust in, both my Father’s goodness and my own ignorance.”


Our ministry to those materially and spiritually "poor" is not, "I can help you live a better life," but is rather "I am messed up, you are messed up (in many different ways) and knowing Jesus and His love can transform us both."


I still make unwise decisions and I pay the consequences, sometimes with shaking fever and chills. No matter who we are, we reap what we sow. Those around us also are erring every day. Whether conscious of it or not, they are struggling in the same battle and, like us, they often miss the mark. We can be critical, angry or irritated… or we can be people of grace, for ourselves and for those who offend, ignore or wound us… because we have received such grace (unearned favor) and it has transformed our soul!


Because of love for the world, He left home to give His life for the benefit of others (you and me), and we are called to follow Him (do the same).


For all of the (human) faults in the Christian church, the beautiful, consistent, immeasurable (human) sacrificial work done in Jesus’ name, historically (and presently), for the hurting and helpless is not matched even remotely in Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, Islam, Socialism, Secularism, or any other religion/movement…


Man’s greatest weakness today is his lack of self-awareness.
—AW Tozer (quoted from memory – paraphrase).



Make choices today based on wisdom, rather than on what I might feel at the moment.


Everyone has an opinion, everyone enthusiastically passes on what they “know”, and everyone is “right” in their own eyes.


In stark contrast to the message of “Christianity” today, knowing our inherent value to God and living transparently and genuinely were far more important to Jesus than performing well, being good, etc.


Only grace (unearned favor) and mercy (unearned forgiveness for errors/offenses) allow the “screwed up” to know love and acceptance apart from performance of any kind. Only in an environment of grace and mercy can we acknowledge our flaws without fear that those same flaws will condemn or ostracize us. In an environment of grace and mercy, we can be transparent and let go of any need to perform a certain way (or refuse to see our flaws) in order to be accepted (even in our own eyes). This is authentic Christianity, it has nothing to do with religion, and far too few (even within churches) experience its beauty. There is nothing more profoundly beautiful than Jesus’ grace. Nothing.


Please remember with me today the extravagant beauty of Jesus’ grace and mercy that we likely took for granted yesterday… and join me in proclaiming to someone (anyone) the good news of our Father’s unmerited favor for someone even as screwed up as me (and you)!


In the modern western culture, “affluenza” has promised contentment but has rather done what Jesus said it would do – move people away from a humble dependence on Him – and to the discontentment that follows.


A very practical dependence-on-each-other becomes a primary source of community, as it promotes treating each other with respect, kindness and deference, as everyone knows that they will need help from others to survive. This dependence-on-one-another sense of community has been beautiful for me to behold (though at times uncomfortable) in rural Angola and is in stark contrast to the “rugged individualism” of the west.


His “purposes” are rail thin, have beautiful, toothless smiles, are dressed in ragged clothes, are covered in flies and scabies…


Often, it is very difficult to assess specific blame in a situation and most commonly the ones who suffer bear little or no responsibility for the outcome.


One of the saddest “developments” in Christianity is the modern emphasis on how following Jesus benefits “me.”


Unearned favor (grace) and forgiveness (mercy) are simply not found in this world apart from the Kingdom of God and maintaining a positive self-image without transparency and honesty often involves great effort (often unrecognized) in self-deception, self-defense, self-protection and self-promotion.


When Jesus’ feet were covered with Judean sand, His focus was always on the glory/love of His Father and His love and concern for others. He repeatedly said that “life” was only found in a focus on the Father and a preoccupation with the good of others.


The flaws of the body of Jesus (the church) receive much attention in today’s world (and media), but His body is also incredibly beautiful, indeed!


I wish everyone could experience the joy of serving hurting people who have no other means of help.


All of His desires for us could be summed up in two directives – love God and love people. Love resigns itself to blessing/edifying/benefitting the other. Love serves, defers, submits… Love frees the other to respond as they will.


When we view God as an object, we expect Him to respond to our desires as would an object with a button to push. Have you heard some people dictate to God what He should do (when they “pray”)? People disappointed in God see Him thusly (He didn’t/doesn’t respond as they deem fit). To see God as a person is to give Him the freedom to respond as He will, and to honor Him no matter what His response.


When we see people as objects, we require/expect them to respond to our desires/directives in the same way. To honor people as created and equal persons is to see them as worthy of being served and free to respond as they will. How often have I expected my Father, my wife, my kids, my friends, my patients, etc to behave as I desire and as I see fit (objects), rather than as they desire and as they see fit (persons)?


Greed, the desire for “more,” is destructive. It destroys individuals, it destroys marriages, it destroys beautiful works of service, and it sets itself against God’s Kingdom. Jesus said that He and (a desire for more) money could not be served together…


A hungry and frail beggar finds food, eats his fill, and then seeks out his family and friends to guide them to the rich and plentiful banquet. Some of his friends admit their hunger, follow him and are filled. Others refuse to go because they simply don’t believe that he has found food. Still others accuse the satisfied messenger of being disingenuous and critical of their lack of food. While the beggar’s love and concern for his friends compels him to introduce them to the food, only the extent of their hunger combined with his credibly transformed health will convince them to follow him to sustenance. May our words, our passion, and our credible health and vitality convince those who know us (and some who don’t know us) that we have found Life…


The “majority world” can be a cruel place, which is why Jesus spoke so much of life with Him after this life’s end.


I’ve moved from a “Martha” culture to a “Mary” culture (see Luke 10:38-42). The western cultures have great difficulty is “finding” God in the midst of extreme business, infinite distraction and the “tyranny of the urgent”. There is never time to sit at Jesus’ feet and to build deep relationship with Him and with one’s neighbor. This is not the case in rural Angola, where there is lack of much, but always enough time for meditation, conversation and being still.


Counsel and advice are received if the source is trusted and the receiver has the humility to desire input.


Enter a new culture as a learner, ask questions, and focus on honoring the local people and their customs.


You will never be able to measure your influence for good.
—Thomas Monson



People today are unreached and neglected by both the world and the church for a reason – they live hard lives in hard places, involving discomfort and/or danger from disease and their environment. To love and serve them, therefore, involves discomfort and personal risk… and they are so worth it!


Our Father died for, and is pursuing, each and every one. As He pursues, He allows each of us to face various trials and blessings and He heals/rescues/prospers some, while others face injustice/debilitating illness/persecution/loss.


The location/vocation/acquaintances of my Father’s kids, at any given point in our lives, are chosen for many divine purposes, and I can usually only appreciate a few of them (sometimes none of them).


All beauty on this earth is imperfect, yet indeed beautiful.


He is more interested in what He’s doing in you than in what He’s doing through you.


Our Father is interested much more in our journey than in any of our “important” destinations…


Mother Teresa did what the most unskilled could do; she and her colleagues left their homes and families and went to where the needs were great… they embraced, sat with, dressed, bathed and listened to those whose simple needs others wouldn’t meet… They simply sought out, found, and served those with needs that were not being met… Jesus has called all who are His to do the same…


Every day is an adventure/gift. One never knows what will come his way.
—Rural Angolan



I must be reminded often (even through exhausting and “wasted” days, collapsed bridges, etc) that His reign is eternal and His perspective, the same. Our (my) temporal perspective, influenced by desires, expectations, emotions, lack, ups and downs, etc must be surrendered often to the consideration (and trust) of my Father’s eternal purposes and His ability to accomplish His good and beautiful eternal will, even in this tainted and, for so many, painful and confusing earthly existence.


Humility considers irrelevant its own strengths/status/flaws/struggles, prioritizing the other, even at its own expense.


Hunger, both physically and spiritually, always changes our perspective.


Jesus’ calling is so remarkably simple when I let go of my own desires, dreams, and ambitions; it’s impossibly complex when I try to serve others and me.


I’ve grown in my understanding of what Jesus felt when He overturned tables in the temple as He saw “His people” caught up in profit and comfort while unconcerned for the heart of His Father. Where are God’s people today? For all of history, like Jesus, His people have been drawn to the forgotten, the hurting, the displaced and the disenfranchised, with radical lack of concern for personal safety, ambition and comfort. If we are not preoccupied with the same people that concerned Jesus, mustn’t we ask ourselves if we are really His?


I’m concerned that, like the people in the temple who upset Jesus, so many in the American church today are more preoccupied with their job security, their three meals/day, their latest technology, and their “dreams” for this life than they are concerned for the temporal and eternal health of their “neighbor.”


Are beautiful hurting and neglected global neighbors not worth the sacrifice of our pursuit of personal happiness?


You will never be closer to your King… than when you are, with Him, embracing the smelly, sweaty, dirty, broken, weeping, confused, disagreeable, offensive, unappreciative, beautiful “least” that He so cherishes…


We work for One, and it must always be, and only be, His pleasure that we seek.


I take Jesus at his word of life in His kingdom without end, without tears, without good-byes…


An accurate and challenging application of Phil 2:3 might be, “…in humility, count others’ opinions as more significant than your own…”


I have no idea all that goes into my Father’s care for me and I so often take all of His work, effort and affection for granted…


Our perspective as elders is needed. We’ve seen and experienced (often through our own failures) what brings lasting peace/pain and we must share with those younger, always remembering that our daily integrity and care determine the weight of our words to the next generation(s)…


We too often prioritize (measurable) change in us and in others, rather than seeking intimacy with Jesus, allowing Him to be the motivator for our changes and the source of our fruit.


We become Martha so quickly and forget about the “one thing necessary.” We forgo milk for meat and end up with malnourished “Christians” seeking nutrition from the things of this world.


We tell them that to grow they need to study “the word,” go to church, and do “Christian” stuff… when they need Jesus. Life is Him! In His love/grace for broken people, in His beauty, in His (unchanging) nature, in His character, in our trusting Him… We find Him by abandoning the pursuit of the things of this life and seeking closeness with Jesus first, and so few realize this as they seek life in healing, acceptance, experiences, friendship, marriage, knowledge, prosperity, achievement… Life is in Him!


A life surrendered to God is not an easier life, it is a surrendered life. It’s not fuller, happier or more satisfying… It’s surrendered…


We can’t be someone’s mentor/discipler apart from respect gained via a relationship where we are transparently known.


I wonder whose life is richer, and who is living in freedom (those who strive to fulfill their desires or those who choose to consider fulfilling their personal desires irrelevant)?


We are to be always looking for opportunities to make disciples, through relationships, built on trust, over time.


Our lives and words are forever scattering seeds on others’ fields (inner person), and the more time we are with someone, the more opportunities we have to scatter Kingdom seeds (encouragement, love, affirmation, correction, words that point to Jesus, etc) in their “field”.


Intimacy (closeness) in relationship needs trust and understanding, and trust and understanding need time…


He left home to rescue, serve, teach, heal and free those in need, where they were and as they were… He had no interest in personal comfort, success, retirement, longevity of life, food selection, style/decorating, financial security… He did what His Father told Him to do… He taught on His Kingdom…He focused on relationship with a few key, solid, trusted followers, and He sought out those who were failures, lonely, rejected, confused, disenfranchised, wounded, ill and broken, pointing all to His Father and His Kingdom… We are to be about our Father’s business/pleasure…

Kingdom Truth Reminders, Life Observations…

These “sayings” were originally written to help my adult kids navigate the confusing array of “messages” with which they are confronted in this world, both within and without the bible-believing community. Many readers have shared how they have been encouraged and challenged by them, so they are published here. I hope they impact your journey and draw you closer to the Truth, the Way and the Life.

More about us:

All text and images are property of Dr. Tim Kubacki, copyright © all rights reserved.

Designed by Coughlin