What’s Happening at Missional Lifestyle and His Hands His Feet in 2018

Happy New Year! I enjoyed our holiday season, but I am ready to get back into a groove. It seemed like I was in the holi-daze from Thanksgiving through New Years. We did our annual beach week during Thanksgiving with my side of the family. Then Danielle, my son, and I took a 5-day cruise out of Galveston the second week of December. Then of course Christmas and New Years followed on the heels of that.

During the downtime and trips, I had time to think through what I hope 2018 to look like for me here at Missional Lifestyle and His Hands His Feet. (that is the blog and podcast for those who didn’t know) I am excited about this year. I hope you are too!

Here is what I am working on for 2018:

  • I will continue to create free written content that covers foster care/adoption and other missional topics like local ministry opportunities, foreign missions, mentoring/discipleship, generosity, and so on.
  • His Hands His Feet podcast enters its second year. I have more Dad to Dad episodes, interviews with foreign missionaries, interviews with non profit leaders, updates from Danielle and I about our adoption journey, and much more.

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My Motivation for 2018

You won’t find things like bringing a child into your family as your own, spending time with a lonely widow or homeless man, or visiting someone in prison on too many 2018 resolution or goal lists.

I don’t know many people who wake up in the morning saying, “Today, I am going to leave my comfort zone and hang out with someone who looks, thinks, or acts differently than I do”.

Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves just isn’t how we are hard-wired. Instead we think of ourselves and our own family and close friends.

We need a motivation that prompts us to do things outside of ourselves. For many that is a sense of justice. Maybe some do it out of obligation or guilt. For others it is for the recognition that it brings.

So what is my motivation for 2018?

I am like many of you, I set some business goals for my writing, blogging, podcasting, and a couple of new things for this year.

I also set a couple of personal goals too. They are quite simple. One is to avoid complaining and criticizing. I do this in my mind more than I vocalize it, except around home. The flip side to that is to use words of kindness and encouragement.

My wife is doing the happy dance about that goal.

The other is one that I know will impact every area of my life, especially when it comes to successfully living a life sent. It doesn’t have anything to do with the external motivations listed above.

My one other goal is to spend scheduled, intimate time with God.

On our property, down the hill from our house we have a large oak tree with two benches under it. I have spent a lot of time clearing cedar and brush on our property, and I will often take a break sitting on one of those benches. I find peace in the beauty, and it directs my thoughts and heart toward God.

But what happens far too often is that I don’t prioritize times to spend with God. Yes, I will read some scripture in the morning. Some days I will journal some thoughts or prayers.

So I decided that I will spend 2-3 mornings by going down the hill without my phone. Just my Bible, journal, and a pen. And spend time with God in what has become a sacred place for me.

Our church called us to a time of prayer and fasting this week. That is how I am beginning 2018. Praying and fasting as I seek God. He is who makes it a priority to place a child into a family, who cares for the widow and the one who doesn’t have a place to call home. God doesn’t forget the one who is in prison, and yes, He set the example of leaving His place of comfort, not just comfort, perfection, and entering our world.

As I spend time with Him…as we spend time with Him, His nature becomes our nature.

If that is the one and only goal that I accomplish this year, it will be the best year ever.

Did You Miss These Top 10 Blogs from 2017?

If you are like me and like to browse Top 10 lists, here are the top 10 blogs from 2017 on my website. I don’t include blogs written from earlier years in the top 10, but I will put links to the top 3 at the bottom of the blog if you are curious.

For newbies to my site, I write and podcast about topics that will encourage, equip, and compel you to live a life on mission. Categories include Foster Care/Adoption, Local and International Missions, Discipleship, and Lifestyle.

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5 Reasons Why We Should Be Better at Hospitality

At a recent small group gathering that we call community group we discussed this scripture verse, “Do not neglect hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

Interesting verse even if you don’t believe in angels which for the record I do.

As a group of suburban Americans we agreed that we do a poor job of showing hospitality to anyone much less to strangers. By hospitality I mean showing friends and strangers a warm, generous, friendly, generous reception into our homes.

Our tendency is to ask, maybe even demand, that guests schedule a time to come over to our house. Any spontaneous drop in gets met with a pause at the door and a look of “what are you doing here”.

What is it that makes it hard for us to be hospitable? Is it image management? Do we feel put out? Are we afraid of people we don’t know? Maybe we are just too busy.

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How Your Gifts and Talents Determine Your Purpose with Joe Sierra [Podcast 34]

We make a big deal out of finding our purpose in life. We want to have significance and do something great. But we can easily overlook what is right in front of us. God created all of us with talents, and He promises to give us gifts meant to accomplish His purpose.

In today’s podcast, I talk with Joe Sierra about how he learned about how God created him. What I have always admired about Joe is how he embraces his unique purpose. The cool thing is that in many ways Joe does this within the rhythm of his life.

Listen as Joe and I, two friends, sit on the back patio of my house and talk about how God will use us even within the things we enjoy.

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Identity, Purpose, and Belonging with Joe Elliott Founder of Catalyst Collective [Podcast 33]

Joe Elliott knew that he needed to do something different if he were to reach young adults. During a brain-storming session with several other youth pastors, many great ideas rose to the surface. But they all knew that if they began doing much of what they put down on paper, they all would get fired.

But Joe was in the right place at the right time to begin applying some of the ideas. Out of that the Catalyst Collective was born.

Joe is married, the father of three children, a dreamer, motivator, connector, and speaker. I look forward to you hearing from him.

Here is the interview on His Hands His Feet:

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Why Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground

If you are a Christian who goes to church all the time, who not only loudly sings worship songs at church but also always has your radio or Pandora tune into worship channels, who loves to read books and commentaries to learn more about God, who strives to always follow God’s laws and to honor Him—this is for you.

I bet you are a person who always asks, “What is the right thing to do?”, and you want God on your side.

This is for you especially if you strive to live life like this, but you wonder with bewilderment why your prayers go unanswered, and if your prayers even get off the ground.

You wonder if God even notices you.

God gave Isaiah a word several thousand years ago and it is recorded in Isaiah 58 (one of my favorite chapters that I to define my walk with God).

As it says in Isaiah 58, here is why our prayers often don’t get off the ground:

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Warning: Your Possessions Own You

When Danielle and I returned from living in Thailand for six months, we swore to not let the American consumer culture pull us back into its vortex. Those six months in Thailand showed us that our possessions didn’t dictate our happiness level. I think we unknowingly went through a six month detox.

When we moved back to America, a window of opportunity existed. We easily could have sold everything we owned and moved back to Thailand. In fact we planned on that. But God had a different plan, and we remained in the U.S.

Ten years after living in Thailand an honest self analysis tells me that I have not been very successful at avoiding the consumeristic mindset.

Here are some results of my self analysis:

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The Only Way We Will Ever Embrace Our Diversity

Our culture overuses the word diversity. It is forced upon us in the workplace, in our conversations, and everywhere we do life. I bet you just focused on the wrong part of that statement. Diversity isn’t a bad thing. Having it forced upon  us will never work though.

External pressure on anything that requires a heart change will always fail. Oh it might work for a short while, but then we always drift back to our default way of thinking.

The problem is our hearts. We will never embrace people who are different from we are when we have hearts of stone. Left to our own, our hearts will always treat others selfishly. We will always gravitate to those who think and act like we do. We will always shun, or do worse, those different from we are. Even man-made religion divides people into monogamous groups where everyone looks the same, has a similar economic status, and even thinks the same.

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5 Sure Signs that You Have Forgotten Your Purpose

What happens to a tool or a piece of equipment when we no longer use it for its intended purpose?It begins to rust and decay. Or if we use the tool in a way contrary to its created purpose, we end up damaging it, sometimes beyond repair. However, when we keep using that tool or equipment the way the creator or manufacturer intended, it remains useful for many years.

Our lives have an intended purpose just like a manufactured tool. A Creator made us with a purpose in mind, and when we don’t fulfill that purpose, we too, just like a tool, become useless over time. Of course we don’t rust, but I guess decay is inevitable for us all. We can become damaged though if we don’t adhere to our original design and purpose. Here are 5 things that happen to me when I forget my purpose or mission:

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