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

Cultivating Daily in the Marketplace: a few insights from an attorney friend living sent in the marketplace.

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Continuing today sharing some insights from a friend, this time about how he is cultivating daily in the marketplace. Rod is an attorney and a good friend of mine. I am very grateful not only for his friendship but also for how he encourages and challenges me to live to help others know that they are loved by the God who came near.

Below, my questions are in bold. Rod’s responses in italics. Hope they encourage you and others you know who are cultivating the near love of Jesus daily at work.
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:: why do you think it is important to cultivate the near love of Jesus daily in the marketplace?

Because He asked us to do so. Jesus wants us to love our neighbors, like the good Samaritan. In other words, love those that are on our paths. For those of us on the path daily in the market place, we need to cultivate love where we are.

:: what are two examples of how you have done this?

Being that I am a lawyer, I will give a general response to this specific question. At our firm we try to regularly engage in bible study together, to pray for each other and to allow our respective lights to shine. I think it is important for every Christian leader in the marketplace to try to encourage an environment that results in people feeling comfortable to share their Christian values, and at the same time, foster a loving environment that for those that are not Christian, they too would feel loved and encouraged. (How about that for a lawyer answer!)

:: what are three encouragements you would give to someone wanting to live sent in the marketplace, understanding the challenges that come with it.

1. Remember that you play to an audience of one. You should be less concerned with what those around you may think about you and strongly consider what He thinks about you.

2. Keep an eternal view. I think Solomon or one of those old testament guys said this life is all smoke. What we do in this life matters, but only in as much as it effects our eternity.

3. You never know what impact you could have on someone on your path, what you say and do can change someone’s life.

Thanks Rod. Much love.
-jason

Cultivating Daily into Family: @GHGuthrie shares 4 suggestions for cultivating the near love of Jesus into your family…

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some guest insights from folks whom I have asked to share four suggestions for cultivating daily into family, into neighbors, into the marketplace, unto the nations, and for the sake of unity, respectively. Today the suggestions come from husband, father, professor, Bible scholar, avid reader, and all-around great dude – Dr. George Guthrie. Make sure and check out Read the Bible for Life as well as Reading God’s Story, both works that He either authored or compiled and invaluable resources as we all continue to learn and live the ways of Jesus in the daily rhythms of life.

He was my professor and mentor in college, is my friend, and will be a blessing to you I am sure as he has always been to me. I asked him for four suggestions for cultivating the near love of Jesus into family, based upon what he and his wife lived and did with each other and their kids. Thanks Dr. Guthrie for doing that.

Here is what he shared:

1. Cultivating space for our relationships with the Father. The good news is that God wants to know us face-to-face and has paid a price to make that possible.  Among other dynamics, the new covenant involves us all knowing God.  So, we have made time with God priority for us, and we have taught our children to have such time as a normal rhythm of life.

2. Cultivating our family relationships with gospel conversation around the table. As family members we also need face-to-face time with each other, and meals tend to be a great time to communicate. For our family, we have seldom done conversation about the Bible as a program; such conversation has tended to happen naturally as an outgrowth of our individual times in the Word. Our children have consistently asked sincere (and sometimes very difficult) questions about the Bible. The conversation is in the air we breathe as a family.

3. Cultivating our hearts and minds with good media. When the children were small, they were only allowed to listen to “Jesus music” (e.g. Michael Card’s “Sleep Sound in Jesus” CD) or the Bible (either in dramatized form or just being read) as they fell asleep at night; they did watch or listen to other types of materials at other times. We really worked at only allowing age-appropriate movies as they were growing up. We placed strict limits on video games. On the other hand, we have made reading central to our home (rather than a TV).  We and our children have been exposed to lots of great theology and stimulating stories that have developed our thinking about God, the world, and ourselves.

4. Cultivating space and resources for ministry to others. Ministry in and through the church has just been a normal, consistent part of our lives. We have involved our children in giving from their earliest days. We constantly have people in our home, either to live with us for a time, or to feed and minister to them for an evening (we currently have 15-20 students over for a meal every-other week). We are not naturally great at cultivating relationships with our neighbors and still are learning how to do that more effectively, but we have tried to develop an “others focused” mentality for our family.

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Thoughts? Questions? If you do have questions for Dr. Guthrie, comment here and I will ask him to interact with you when his time allows.

Hopefully these suggestions have encouraged you as you cultivate daily into family.

-jason