Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: will you love the nations with me on @TOMS “One Day without Shoes?”

I have done it now for two years. One day in April, I go without shoes. It is in hopes of someone asking me why and thus the opportunity to encourage them to do something about people in other parts of our world who do not have shoes.

Grant it, this is one of the best marketing ideas a company could have. It is a viral, grass-roots-driven, don’t-wear-shoes-so-people-will-buy-our-shoes-and-we-will-also-give-a-pair-away genius of an idea. And I understand that it does encourage people to buy a product, but it is a product from a company that is not perfect but is at least serious about providing a pair of shoes (and now eyeglasses, too) for people around the world who don’t have one.

Will you join me this year? 

April 10th. Don’t wear shoes.

Prepare your boss / teacher / place of business that you won’t be wearing shoes that day and tell them why. Encourage some other folks to do it with you. And don’t do it to get a pat on the back. Do it simply to encourage people to love the poor in a tangible way. It’s an easy thing to do that also raises our own awareness about how much we take for granted that we do have shoes.

Jesus mentioned something in Luke 3:11 I know is not easily lived and unfortunately is not often lived.

11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”

May we think about how that might apply to what all is in our closet and pantry. In the meantime, may we go barefoot on for just on day.

And if you don’t own a pair of TOMS, I recommend them. I am wearing my fifth pair. But I won’t be on April 10th.

Will you join me?

CLICK HERE to read more about “One Day without Shoes.” And check out the trailer below for April 10th, 2012.

Looking forward to having to push the gas pedal in my car barefooted.
-jason

 

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: i’d like to hear from you – one organization loving the nations you have worked with and want to recommend to others???

Good Thursday to you! I wanted to take the post today for cultivating daily unto the nations to ask for some feedback from you.

What is one organization that is loving the nations in some specific way that you have worked with or supported that you would heartily recommend to others? What did you do with them? Is it an ongoing relationship or a one-time opportunity?

If anyone anywhere happens to read this and wants to chime in, please do so! I for one would like to see what you say. Please leave the name of the organization and your comments in the comment section of this post.

My friends Jamie and Zack just returned from Zambia, and I can tell you they were thoroughly impressed with Lifesong for Orphans and their work there. If you know anything about them, let me know, too, if you don’t mind.

Grateful that Jesus loves us like He does and invites us to experience His love as we love the nations together!!!

-jason

Cultivating Daily in the Marketplace: I asked @FLVSjyoung, CEO of @FLVS to share 4 ways she loves people in the marketplace…

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Julie Young is one of the most forward-thinking, discerning, innovative, encouraging, thoughtful, team-building, and wise leaders I know. She leads the Florida Virtual School, an accredited, public, online, e-learning school serving students K-12 all over the world. Almost 15 years ago, FLVS was founded. It was the country’s first state-wide, internet-based, public high school and has grown now to over 122,000 students and 1400 staff members. FLVS is part of the Florida public education system and serves students in all 67 Florida districts, 49 states, and 57 countries.

I had the privilege of coaching her two sons, and I am blessed with a friendship with her husband. I have utmost respect for them, and that’s why I asked her to share with me four suggestions regarding how she is cultivating daily in the marketplace – loving the people she encounters and leads there in hopes that they will know that they are loved unconditionally and graciously by the God who came near in Christ.

So grateful for Julie. Hope these will encourage you, too! Here are her four suggestions:

1. Share God’s love for them.
Even if you do not put the “God” label on it, you can share God’s love with others in the workplace by letting them know how special and precious they are. Even a simple note of thanks or praise can brighten someone’s day and turn off the negative thoughts and feelings that the Devil has planted in their minds. People need to know that they have a purpose. Others can usually point out someone’s strengths a lot easier than they can, and this can be linked to God’s love for them when it encourages them with the simple message, “You are the only one that can do what you do!”

I constantly try and recognize others publically for the good work they do, both with staff and students. I relish sharing the notes that come from parents who are obviously believers. It often allows me to share God’s Word as many parents will quote the Bible or thank God for their experiences and FLVS. One of my goals is for all staff to feel that I love them regardless of our distance or lack of a face to face relationship. I try to make the environment fun and relaxed and playful.

2. Give the grace you have been given.
We all get frustrated and flustered with co-workers from time to time. But no one is perfect. God gives me grace when I don’t get it right, or when I am just plain wrong. May we not neglect to give others the same. Just like the slave whose debt was forgiven and then refused to forgive other’s debts to him, you can end up in a bad situation.

I try to continually emphasize the value of mistakes and only ask that people try and not make the same mistake twice. I also look closely at whether or not a “mistake” is negligence and intentional or an honest mistake. I take those mishaps and turn them into learning lessons for all. In addition, I believe in second chances for those who have a committed heart to the organization. A person who may be unsuccessful in their role but is clearly dedicated to the organization and its leadership will have an opportunity to take a mulligan and move to another position in the organization if available and start over.

3. Create an environment with your words.
The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. You are the only one who can control what comes out of your mouth. So choose to create a positive and uplifting environment by speaking positively even if you have to give someone a correction or discipline. You will be amazed at how people’s attitudes will change when the positive words you speak start to take life as they are planted in the hearts of those around you.

Using the words, “blessed, loved, give back, be an example” etc. in notes and verbal comments often let people know where your heart is. It also gives them permission to express themselves. Using quotes from John Maxwell (some of my favorite leadership books), Andy Andrews, and others who are Christ-followers often times sends folks to those books for a good read. They get a two-for. :)

4. Set an example with integrity.
Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. Jesus was the greatest example that we will ever have of that. Even when tempted after fasting 40 days and nights, where no one could see him, He did not waiver in doing what he knew was right. Remember, even if no one else is looking, God is, and our Father lifts those up who listen to Him and put Him first. He gives them favor, not only with those around them but also with authority as well.

One of the greatest ways to cultivate the Gospel is to refuse to come down to the world’s standards by maintaining your integrity everyday. My goal has always been to operate with transparency. If I make a mistake or have a gap, I share it and take public responsibility for it. I work diligently to set the example for others rather than be the exception due to my title. It’s funny, my team is always trying to give me a reserved parking spot or an exemption from a rule that others are expected to follow. I make it known in a humble fashion that I am no different; I just have a different job. I hold myself to the highest standards when it comes to budget and people management.
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Great stuff, Julie!!! Thank you so very much for sharing these suggestions with us and for your leadership example.

Give Bruce a hug from me. And tell him I said I hope UK can win the 2012 Duke Invitational Tournament, I mean the 2012 NCAA Tournament. It is after all the 20th anniversary of “THE SHOT.” :)

Much love.
-Jason

Cultivating Daily into Family: “how a 6th birth is a new experience” or “are we grateful each time?” Exciting news!!!

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Because we both have six kids, we get asked this one question a lot. It is always meant as a joke, and honestly I never get tired of being asked. Maybe it’s because I never get tired of the subject of the question, but that’s more of a Valentine’s post. Today’s post is for some breaking news celebrated from a grateful heart.

Oh yeah, the question we get asked because we both have six kids? Here you go – “You know how that happens right?”

And the antecedent of “both?” My brother Erik and I both have six kids, although my sixth isn’t due for face to face arrival until early August sometime.

And the exciting news?!? Erik and Erin’s sixth little gift arrived this morning!!!!!!!!!!

Emery Elaine Dukes comes into a family of five brothers. She will likely alternate thinking about them as a bunch of Knights in Shining Armor and a bunch over-protective, insensitive, annoyances. I am biased since they are my nephews, but I bet they will be the former much, much more than the latter. What is for sure is that the atmosphere of their home just got pinker and purpler and prettier. :)

And the picture that my wife sent me of Erik holding his brand new daughter was so breath-taking.

It was Erin’s sixth child born, and Jen got to be there this time for the first time. It was Erik’s sixth child born, but it was his first girl. And as a little brother, I don’t get to experience many things first before my wonderful big brother, but I have already held three daughters and look forward with excitement, Lord willing, to holding a fourth this summer. Erik got a whole new experience this morning holding a child that belonged to him that was not of the male persuasion. And it was breath-taking to behold knowing what was racing through his mind and heart.

It was exciting news! And we all are so grateful, celebrating each birth as though it actually is a gift from God that we in no way deserve.

Thank you Lord.

So cool that my dad has eleven grandchildren and one more on the way.

-jason

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift, the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
(Psalm 127:3 MSG)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!! Three short videos to celebrate the day…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone!!! I saw these three videos and thought you might enjoy them, too. The first two are short stories on St. Patrick, one from Brown Bag Productions which is an award-winning film company out of Europe. The third video is an online commercial from the Guinness company that is pretty funny – a sheep dog gathering folks together for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

The fact that St. Patrick tends to be celebrated and highlighted more in the pubs than in church buildings possibly suggests two things – (1) that folks are quick to use a good excuse to party hard and (2) that the church should consider having more of a presence at Matthew’s house than at their own house (Matthew 9 and 10). Just thinking / typing out loud :-)

Much love. Grateful for the story, although definitely debatable and not definitive, of a guy like Patrick who prayed a lot and talked about Shamrocks a lot and seemed to love people with the near love of Jesus.

Don’t forget to wear green!
-jason

Here are the videos:

The Story of St. Patrick

A Short Story of St. Patrick

“Round Up Your Mates” from Guinness

Cultivating Daily: educating myself for St. Patrick’s Day. Do you know the basic history of Patrick? Read it here…

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So, other than the really well-done cartoon Veggie Tales did regarding St. Patrick, I don’t really know much about him. After reading some history on Patrick, sounds like Phil Vischer and the gang did a great job accurately sharing his story.

One major highlight is that he highlighted the unity of the Trinity in his preaching. Catholic.org, in their section on saints, had this to share regarding Patrick. Hopefully it will equip you to do more than wear green tomorrow :-)

Here’s hoping you don’t get pinched.
-jason

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St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints.

Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461.

Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when everyone’s Irish.

There are many legends and stories of St. Patrick, but this is his story.

Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies.

As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.

During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote

“The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same.” “I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”

Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britian, where he reunited with his family.

He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.”

He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.

Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.

Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick’s message.

Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.

He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.

Why a shamrock?
Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.

In His Footsteps
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. He feared nothing, not even death, so complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission.

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: @AnnVoskamp shares her mother’s heart upon her oldest son’s leaving & returning from international missions.

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Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts and blogger extraordinaire on aHolyExperience.com, recently wrote her heart onto page regarding her oldest son’s first international mission service experience. He left. She prayed. Little bit of worry. He returned. She shared her reflections the whole way through.

In the context of cultivating daily unto the nations, I thought this was worth sharing. Worth sharing for anyone learning grace and love and service. Worth sharing for any mom and dad facing the notion now or later of “letting go and letting God” have your kids, and worth sharing for anyone encouraging those who serve internationally.

Hoping these three blog posts will encourage you as we cultivate the near love of Jesus by going near to the nations.
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Here is the post Ann wrote as she was preparing for her son to leave:

What a Parent Needs to Say to a Child Before They Leave

Here is the post Ann wrote as her son was gone:

When you’re worried while they’re gone: What to do in Hard Times

And here is an excerpt of her reflections upon his arrival home. She was reflecting upon the fact that he certainly was no prodigal for going away in this way, but her mind went to the heart and emotion of a parent eager for a child to return home. What if we parented like a “Prodigal Parent?”

Check this out:

I know there are no guarantees that anyone comes home again.

I know sometimes what messes our life up most — is the expectation of what our life is supposed to look like. Entitlement can leave you feeling entirely empty.

I know the He only means everything to reshape us and nothing to reduce us.

“Just…” I reach over to pick up his bag at the top of the escalator and I don’t know how to say this or why it even matters because he’s just come home from a mission’s trip and his eyes are all lit and he can’t stop smiling.

He’s hardly the prodigal but I want to kill the fattened calf and celebrate the miracle of return and how do I make sure he always knows?

“Just — no matter what story you’re carrying,” We pause at the top of the stairs and I reach over and grab his arm, the closest thing I’ve got to a bone marrow transplant. “Know you can always, always, always come home.”

Who, if you knew their whole story, wouldn’t you love?

He nods and forget wondering if maybe someday, some son will be a prodigal. Forget wondering if someday some prodigal son will come home again.

Forget that.

Because I”m the Prodigal.

I’ve been the Wayward Prodigal Parent. Prodigal in the negative sense. The wasteful one. Irresponsible in my spending.

The Prodigal Parent who’s extravagantly wasted too many gold moments, too much priceless time, too much of my spiritual inheritance on the blinking and the shiny and the fleeting. He takes his bag from my hand and I have no idea how his shoulders got so broad. We only inherit so much time.

How do you live so that when your kids think of the Grace of the Gospel, they think of you?

That’s the crux of the thing: By being the Wholehearted Prodigal Parent. Prodigal in the positive sense. The lavish one. Extravagantly, sacrificially abundant in my giving.

The Prodigal Parent who extravagantly loves, recklessly spending on sacrifice. The Prodigal Parent who wastes time waiting up, listening for, praying long.

The Prodigal Parent who lives this lavish mercy, this opulent, offensive grace.

I look over at my boy come home. Why hadn’t someone told me that parenting was less about avoiding prodigals but more about becoming a better Prodigal parent?

You can read Ann’s entire post by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks, Ann, for blessing us with your gracious heart and practical thoughts of living out a Father’s love as we cultivate daily.

-jason

Cultivating Daily into Neighbors: author @HelenLeeAuthor of the book @TheMissionalMom guest blogs with insights about living sent to neighbors…

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Helen Lee guests blogs today for “Cultivating Daily” with four suggestions for cultivating the near love of Jesus daily into your neighbor. She is the author of The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home and in the World, available on Amazon.com, and she blogs at TheMissionalMom.com. Both are very much worth the read.

Below are Helen’s wise suggestions and insights on how we, as followers of Jesus, can love our neighbor. Thanks so much for sharing these with us, Helen!

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1. Expand your definition of the word “neighbor.”

“Neighbor” is not just the person who lives next door to you, but the person whom God brings into your path at the time He appoints. It could be the fellow mom walking to school to pick up their child at the same time as you. It could be the person at the checkout lane in the grocery store that you see every time you are there. And certainly, it could be the lonely widower who lives next door to you. Who does God bring into your line of sight and into your life on a regular basis? Consider that person your neighbor.

2. Take intentional steps to be a light to that “neighbor.”

Once you have a greater openness to the people God is bringing into your life, the people he wants for you to see as your neighbor, start taking steps to reflect the light and love of Jesus in your interactions with that person, however brief. In all his interactions with people around him, Jesus was unforgettable; be that person who radiates God’s joy, peace, and kindness, trusting that even the shortest of those divine appointments will make an impression.

3. Pray regularly for those “neighbors.”

Pray specifically that the Holy Spirit would use your time with your neighbors in a purposeful way, revealing more of Jesus to them every single time. Cultivating the Gospel into your neighbor is not merely about transmitting words and ideas about who Jesus is; it is about introducing them to the person of Jesus as he resides in you, and as you share his love to those around you.

4. Take relational risks with those “neighbors.”

This is the hardest part: once you have made a relational connection with that neighbor, pray for an opportunity to take the relationship one step further. Perhaps it would be to ask if you could pray for them in some way; perhaps it would be an invitation to coffee or dinner. And if the person declines, continue the earlier steps and to pray that another opportunity will arise to take the relationship further. But be patient–relationships can take time to build!

Cultivating Daily into Family: awesome suggestions from author & my friend @TashaLevert on “cultivating daily with elbows on the table”…

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Great suggestions and insight from author and friend Tasha Levert. So grateful she was willing to share this with us. I will have another post from Tasha in a couple of weeks. If you want to read her awesome book that encourages moms with an engaging mix of wisdom and humor, you can get is on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks Tasha for sharing this with us. Give your sweetheart Tim a big hug from me, too :)

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Cultivating Daily with Elbows on the Table

Suppertime has not always been the highlight of our day. Tim and I have three daughters, and when the girls were younger, the hours between 5pm and bedtime were crazy around our house.

Each night, reality would waltz into our dining room and crush my Focus on the Family inspired visions of quality time at the dinner table as peas were chucked, milk was spilled, and tantrums were thrown. I remember feeling so discouraged one evening that I wondered if chucking my own peas would make me feel better. It didn’t.

Today, our girls are 11, 9, and 7, and while their table manners are still up for debate, I can say proudly that we have made it through the pea chuckin’ phase (all of us ;)! In fact, suppertime has actually become one of the best parts of our day.

Our tradition is to eat supper at the table with the television off (gasp!), and when we gather, we ask one of two questions:

:: What was the best part of your day?
:: What has God said to you lately?

We ask the first question every night (even if we’re hosting guests). I love this question: “What was the best part of you day?” The question gives all of us a chance to see a glimpse of each others’ life. Tim and I get a snapshot of what’s going on in their world, and the girls get a picture of ours. Some of our moments are blatantly Kingdom focused. Some aren’t. Regardless, the time spent sharing connects our hearts and our lives in a way that I think makes Jesus smile.

The second question, “What has God said to you lately?” is one that we only ask every few months. Our goal is to help the girls learn to hear God’s voice and to know that a HUGE God has something beautiful to say to everyone, no matter how small. Sometimes they can answer the question. Sometimes they can’t. If they have nothing to report, we don’t freak out, nor do we jump into a 10 week family devotion on discerning the voice of God. We simply encourage them to remember to listen for His gentle whisper as we dive into our dessert.

There is something right about breaking bread together. Take time to share a distraction-free meal with your family. Whether you’re chucking peas or sharing your God moments, the Father is pleased.

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: how @TimTebow’s comeback against the Dolphins caused one couple to want to serve in Zambia…

It was all Tim Tebow’s fault.

He seems to get a lot of credit and blame lately. This is for something pretty cool, though, that hopefully in time will have as much impact as he and his family have in the Philippines.

Tebow’s first start was against the Dolphins back in October. It was the start of a winning streak that included 15 points in a little over two minutes. To be there live was amazing!!!

I am not gonna lie. I prayed hard in that 4th quarter for the Lord to give Tebow and his team the strength to pull that comeback off, trusting that Tebow would not steal the glory from the One who gave him this platform in the first place. I even cried when they scored the go-ahead 2-point conversion. You might say we were into the game! :)

My son and I had gone down to Miami for the game with some friends of ours from the church family of which we are a part, along with this guy named George. We picked him up on the way down along the Turnpike.

No, seriously, he was visiting with our family from Zambia. I had met him earlier in May, 2011 at an event I was teaching at in Philly. We really connected, and I was so grateful for his encouragement and new friendship. When he was in the states again, he was gonna come and visit with us. It happened to be last October when that happened, and it happened to be the weekend we had planned to go down to see Tebow and the Broncos face the Dolphins.

Equipped with his brand new Tebow T-Shirt, George accompanied this little section of the Westpoint family down to Miami.

The night before the game, we ate at an Outback Steakhouse. I like their croutons, but that is not important in this story. A husband and wife who were with us had been praying specifically for the Lord to show them a way that as a family they might give themselves away globally in a long-term, impactful way, impacting hopefully the folks they would serve but also understanding the impact it would have on their family. Well, who knew that the Holy Spirit wanted to have dinner with us at Outback just north of Miami. I guess he likes their croutons, too.

By the end of the dinner, that couple looked at each other with that “I guess Zambia is it” look.

Fast forward to today. In fact, to exactly an hour ago at 3:30. That husband, along with another husband that walks with them as family of God together, flew out on a jet-plane to Africa. They will be there for a few days exploring possible partnerships and opportunities. PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES, FOR SAFETY, WISDOM, AND DISCERNMENT.

I can’t wait to see what comes of this!!! How cool is it that God not only put His love on display for us, but also invites and involves us in getting to give His love away into others, even around the world. And how awesome that God loves us enough to invite us to experience what it is like giving His love away, understanding that we fully live when we fully love, as He has loved us.

May we continue to listen to God and do what He says, cultivating daily both among neighbors and nations, inviting a few other folks along for the journey with us.
-jason