All posts by Operation-GO

Haiti Updates 10/29/21

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

We cling to these truths with deep gratitude.

The situation in Haiti is deteriorating rapidly. The assassination of Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse on July 7th followed by a 7.2 earthquake on August 14th and Tropical Storm Grace on August 16th were only the beginning.

Demonstrations, rioting, roadblocks, kidnappings, growing food shortages, rising food costs, and exorbitant fuel prices – currently running at $25/gallon for diesel and $30/gallon for unleaded fuel – are the new “normal”.

Gangs are growing in power and controlling the release and delivery of fuel from the ports; sections of the city have been overtaken, driving inhabitants to abandon their homes, businesses, and ministries; most recently a group of 18 was kidnapped by a known-to-be vicious and violent gang, including a Haitian driver, a Canadian citizen, and 16 American citizens – including 5 children – one who is only 8 months old.

Our Ministry partners, Maranatha Children’s Ministries,Updates

Our Haitian staff is currently safe, although understandably unsettled. Two of our employees live in the vicinity of the above-mentioned kidnapping.

Our American staff: Sue is in Haiti staying at the children’s home and helping to oversee the details of the school. Byron, Shelley, Dom, and Belle are in Idaho helping to care for Shelley’s father, Pete who is about to go meet with Jesus after a fight with brian counselors.

Our school, Garden of Development, continues to serve children from ages 2 through grade 7. We have grieved as a number of our students have transferred to schools that are closer to their homes, but understand that the state of the country has driven these decisions. God has brought new children into our school, and we now have 165 students enrolled.


Things are at a standstill in Port-au-Prince. The “G9” gang from Cite Soleil is not allowing any of the fuel trucks to leave the Port. There is no longer public transportation because there is not any fuel for sale. BY GOD’s GRACE we are receiving between 3 and 6 hours of EDH (city power) each evening. Between these hours of power, and the power generated by our solar panels, we have been able to keep our freezers and refrigerators running. We are no longer able to use the generators.

Cell phone service and internet service have become very spotty and unreliable. Many of these companies rely on generators for their operations, and they are unable to obtain the fuel they need to run them.

Prayer Requests:

Continued safety for our staff and students. Continued favor with the gang in our own neighborhood.

The school will be in session daily. We were unable to have classes for two days last week, and have not had class this week.

God will continue to show us where and when to locate the necessary supplies, especially food supplies for the children’s home, school, and orphanages.

God will stretch our resources.

We will not be afraid or anxious. That God’s call on our lives will be freshly affirmed as we serve in Haiti.

God goes before the Tluceks as they prepare for their return to Haiti.

Our landlord has asked us to purchase the home which is rented for the Tlucek family and the school. Talk about timing.

Pray for truth and justice in Haiti and in our world! Peace in the process and hope in Jesus!

Update is written by Shelly Tlucek


Haiti Updates 2/17/21

We are postponing to March 13th as of now. The political situation in Haiti has resulted in violence and protesting in the streets. In a nutshell, the President says his 5-year term is not over until 2022 but the opposition says his term is over now, both have a point as this article explains. It is hard to tell when the situation will settle down.

So, we are going to watch the situation weekly and pray it is calm in March! This week is better than last, so that is promising. We are taking a small group that can be flexible with travel plans.

We are collecting items now and want to have the bags packed and ready to go by March 6th so we need all donations by March 1st. We are collecting the following:

  • Sheets – all sizes and types (except pillowcases) in good condition
  • Beanie Baby size stuffed animals
  • Matchbox cars
  • Kids multivitamins with iron
  • Large suitcases
  • Girls underwear (all sizes)
  • Cash donations – more on this below
You can read more about the situation in Haiti in our last blog post. Please consider donating to help us as well as Byron and Shelly as all expenses have doubled as explained in that post. You can give online here or you can bring/send checks to Operation Go 229 High St Mineral Point, WI 53565. The kids need to eat every day, we send money monthly, please consider donating monthly. We will be sending regular updates and monthly Christian devotionals, if you are interested, please sign up for those updates here.

Haiti Updates 2/8/21

We ARE planning to go to Haiti this year but the timing of the last week in Feb may very well change. The political situation in Haiti has resulted in violence and protesting in the streets. In a nutshell, the President says his 5-year term is not over until 2022 but the opposition says his term is over now, both have a point as this article explains. It is hard to tell when the situation will settle down.

So, we are going to watch the situation weekly and go when we can, hopefully by sometime in March at the latest. We are taking a small group that can be flexible with travel plans. If you are feeling you should go, please let me know, otherwise pray for us!

We are collecting items now and want to have the bags packed and ready to go by Feb 20th so we need all donations by Feb 19th. We are collecting the following:

  • Sheets – all sizes and types (except pillowcases) in good condition
  • Beanie Baby size stuffed animals
  • Matchbox cars
  • Kids multivitamins with iron
  • Large suitcases
  • Cash donations – more on this below

Haiti went to a new level of crazy this year when all the banks banded together and decided to make their own exchange rate. It was 140 Gouds to 1 US dollar and they changed it to 70 Gouds to a dollar. This has not changed the price for anything on the streets! That means this is greatly affected all international missions working there. It now costs DOUBLE to pay staff, by food, ect…

For example, it has been costing $3000 a month to pay for food for three orphanages and cooks for FREM, now it is over $6000 a month! That is a big deal!! There are not places to go and buy things cheaper, Shelly and the team are looking at every option. And it IS NOT AN OPTION to send less because that means literally taking food from the kids. I cannot even think of doing that especially if we are sitting down to eat each day with plenty on our table. This is not just money, it is vital food and nutrition for kids who cannot do anything to care for themselves.

Shelly and Byron have 30 employees and 150+ kids at their school they feed each day. The 30 employees support their families, and in Haiti, that is not just their spouse and kids, but often extended family as they live together in family groups. So that translates to easily 200 people that rely financially on Maranatha (Shelly and Byron’s ministry). ALL THEIR COSTS HAVE DOUBLE too! 

The story on this page explains this even more.
WHY? HOW? Because of corruption. Because there are no checks and balances in the country. Because the Theif comes to Steal Kill and Destroy (John 10:10)

There is not an answer other than that. Ministries in Haiti (including us and Shelly and Byron) feel responsible both to continue their work in Haiti and to be good stewards with resources others are giving to them. This is not their fault, they still want to do both and are doing both yet they worry that people will doubt the latter. Don’t! Instead, be made at the enemy and fight the spiritual battle with us!

But please pray. Pray for corruption to be exposed (in Haiti and here). Pray for God to supernaturally provide for all the ministries in Haiti dealing with this, pray God would do miracles and multiple resources (like the jar that never ran out for the widow who helped Elijah or the bread and fish that Jesus multiplied to feed thousands…)

And please consider giving!! Give what you can, give what God tells you but give somethings. We have probably taken over 100 people to Haiti over the years, more have wanted to go but haven’t been able to and more are interested in what we do… If everyone gave, there would be more than enough to feed the kids and help Byron and Shelly.

One of the worst things about 2020 is that it made our nation even more self-centered, stay safe, stay home… Yes, we have a lot going on here, yes people in the USA are in need, and Yes, we need to be praying about all, trusting God like never before, and doing what we can to help where we can with what God puts in front of us. 

You can give online here or you can bring/send checks to Operation Go 229 High St Mineral Point, WI 53565. The kids need to eat every day, we send money monthly, please consider donating monthly.

You could also consider doing a fundraiser by selling with Papillon…. That helps Haiti in two ways! 🙂 

God is still God, His Name is above EVERY name. Our Trust is in Him! But He uses people like you and me! How cool is that!!


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Making Him Number One in 2021

At the beginning of every year, I often think of a theme for the year. I am not into New Year’s resolutions in the traditional way, but I like to set goals that often relate to the theme and encourage others to do the same. Last year, as cheesy as it is, 2020 Vision was my theme. It was about having a 2020 vision, a clear vision for life, a 2020 vision for myself, our business, and helping others to clearly see the vision for their life.

2020 was anything but clear! It was a crazy year filled with uncertainty, lockdowns, and political “war” unlike anything in recent history. For some, fear and anxiety were the major emotions, for others, it was a reevaluation of life and priorities. Everyone was affected in some way, nothing seemed clear.

So looking back, the better saying and theme could be that hindsight is always 2020! As time passes, I believe we will be able to look back at last year and see things more clearly, both on an individual level and also as a nation. This is my prayer.

Looking into 2021, the first thought that came to my head was it is going to be fun! I do believe that. I believe as truth is revealed, it is going to continue to be interesting, but in the end, we will all be grateful and better because of it!

However, that is not my theme for the year. My theme for this year is this, “Make Him Number One in 2021! God needs to be first in my life, not just in word but in action. He needs to be first in our nation again. Our country was founded on Godly principles, one nation under God! It is time for Christians to be leaders and that will happen when we make God number One.

Especially after last year, we all need hope and that hope comes in Christ alone. He is the only constant for any of us. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.”

As much as there has been a political war raging, there is a spiritual battle as well. A battle of good vs evil, light vs dark. A battle for who or what is number one in our lives.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

To make God my number one means that I seek Him every day, that I go to Him in prayer (constantly) when I don’t understand, when I am thankful, always. He is who I always run to!

It means letting Him guide my life and trusting in His plan, His ways.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

It means to have an eternity mindset.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

It is easy to get distracted in life. I often start my day off right, in prayer or with my Bible, and then will go the whole day without talking to God again. I don’t want to do that anymore! How much am I missing because I am not open to His guidance? How I long for His presence!

Making Him number One is not a once and done. It is an every day, every hour continually process but the more I do it, the more you do it, the easier it will be. And the more we will experience God, the more we will see Him move in our lives and the more He can touch other’s lives thru us.

2020 Perspective ~ Freedom, Faith, Love and Justice

This has been a crazy year for all of us and has caused plenty of emotions and questions within me. I am sharing my thoughts not because I have it all figured out, but because I don’t think I’m alone and I am hoping my thoughts will help others to0.


With COVID came restrictions and lockdowns. For me and most Americans, freedom is something we take for granted. Freedom to do what we want, say/think/believe what we want, go where we want… When I can’t go where I want or enjoy the freedoms we are accustom to, it bothers me. Yet, it has also caused me to pause and consider what others in our world experience all the time.

There are many places around the world where freedom is just a dream. Where woman are not allowed out of the house without a man, where being a Christian is a crime, where everyday freedoms we take for granted have never been experienced.

There are people who are in slavery in our world right now who dream of freedom. Men, women, and kids made to work long hours in harsh conditions. As I write this, as you read this there are women and kids being sexually abused, so perverse that we can’t even fathom it. There are people in prison just because they are Christians.

When I think of all this, it puts all we are dealing with in a different perspective. Honestly, we are pansies. We live in a country with the best healthcare in the world, we have a government that provided stimulus checks and other help to both businesses and individuals. We have opportunities, we still have freedoms and yet we whine, complain, and even live in fear. In truth, most of us have not experienced even a glimpse of the “hard times” others face. I know this is true for me…

Which brings me to Faith

Where is my faith in all of this? Where does my joy, my purpose, my security come from? From the freedoms, I enjoy or from my God?

There will be a day when life doesn’t return to normal when it gets way worse before it gets better before Jesus comes back. (Revelations) I don’t think this is it, but I do know I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and build my life on Him and Him alone.

Security – God is my provider. He is my father.  The Lord’s prayer, “My Father… give me this day my daily bread…”

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

Joy – If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His loveI have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. John 15:10-11

Purpose – We are created for a purpose.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

It is not just enough to think about all those I mentioned early who are living in worse conditions with no freedom and then have a better perspective/attitude myself. I am not better than them. But I do have freedoms they don’t so I better use those freedoms to help them.

So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. Galatians 5:13


Putting love into action is part of our purpose. Loving and serving others, especially “the least of these” in this world is part of what God asks of all of us. This time has helped me relate to them just a tad more, not that I can even slightly say I know what they are going through. It just makes me think more about the trials of their lives.

The Sheep and the Goats – Matthew 25

31When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.

34Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, 36I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me.’

37Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39When did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

40And the King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

41Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44And they too will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’

45Then the King will answer, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.’

46And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Where I struggle with most when it comes to loving others is loving and respecting those with opposite viewpoints. I don’t care what “side” you are on politically or on any topic, this seems to be an issue in our country in general. We talk about acceptance yet we are very polarized in our views.

I think about Jesus who sat and ate with those who were completely opposite then him. He treated them with respect and love. That is what changed people. Not debates or arguments love in action. And not all changed, yet he still loved, even praying for those who were putting Him on the cross. I have a lot to learn in this area.


My prayer should be for truth and justice in our world. Truth to be revealed so that justice can happen for all those oppressed. Oppressed by fear, oppressed by others… truth and justice to bring freedom to all those oppressed.

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Isiah 1:17

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. Matthew 10:26

Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished. Proverbs 11:21

Impact Focus of the Month – Education

I was recently at the National Football Hall of Fame for Brett Favre’s enshrinement. (This is not about Brett, but he is simply the best!) Anyway, one of the new attractions at the Hall of Fame is the Game of Life locker room. It’s really a series of advice from different players and coaches lead by Joe Namath. Allen Page, a former member of the Vikings Purple People Eaters, talked about the value of education. He said, “Education will allow you to choose where you go.” He is now a Supreme Court Justice in Minnesota. He lived that statement! Education can make a difference in people’s lives, no doubt about it. Many in our world lack the opportunity to receive basic education or further their education to learn skills needed to start a career or make a decent living.

This month, our Impact Focus is Education. Here are some ways you can make an impact through education.

  1. Ask your local school how you can get involved. Some of our clients volunteer in the classroom, read to kids, organize book drives to give books to kids and donate supplies. I am sure they can use your help.
  2. Help us send an orphanage to school in Haiti. Each year about this time, we receive requests from our four orphanages in Haiti asking for help for school, including vocational training for older kids. On average, these requests are about $5000 per orphanage (about 30 kids per orphanage). School is not free in Haiti. This cost includes books, tuition or teachers, uniforms and supplies. We cannot provide for school on our own, as this is in addition to the monthly support we send for food and basic living. Click here to donate online or give us a call to learn more. Also, consider joining us this winter on a trip to visit these kids in Haiti.
  3. Consider giving to a scholarship fund at one of the local colleges. We have a couple clients passionate about their trades/fields who inspire to support the next generation. Giving a scholarship is a great way to do so! Go! Make an Impact!

Lord of All vs Genie in a bottle God

I have been thinking about writing this for a while, but after the series Culture Clash at Hidden Valley, I thought this was fitting.

Jesus lived a life of obedience to the Father, servanthood and surrender – words many of us don’t like to hear.

Jesus said, “The most important commandments are to love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:27-28

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow me.”  Luke 9:23

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate* father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, even their own life, such a person cannot be my disciples.” Luke 14:26 (*Matthew 10:27 says love more than me)

“In the world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John16:33

Almost all of his disciples were killed for their faith. To follow Jesus meant total commitment and surrender.

Yet, many American churches and Christians seem to view God more like a genie in a bottle. We want God to bless us, make things easy, answer all our prayers…

We pick out verses that fit this view on God…

He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

“Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you…” John 15:7b

Ask and it will be given to you…” Luke

The problem, we like to pick out part of the verse the fits and not the whole verse in context.

This is the entire verse and some other verses in Psalms:

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (4) Commit your way to the Lord, Trust in Him and He shall bring it to pass. (5) Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him… (7)

When we just quote the second half, we thing God will give us the desires of our heart so we can be happy. We are asking God for this or that to make us happy… If I just had a relationship, a new car, this job… This is the desire of my heart God, give it to me and I will be happy. But if we are truly delighting ourselves God, we are happy with God, God alone. Than our hearts desires will be God or God centered. They could be the same desires but for God’s purpose, and our happiness is not dependent on the desires, our happiness (delight) is in God.

The same concept is true with the next verse. How often do we want to make plans and then say God will bring it to pass. But the first part says commit your way to the Lord. One definition of commit says to give in trust or charge, to consign. That would mean the we would give in trust our plans to God, He would be the one to set our plans, then we can trust Him to bring it to pass. Not here’s what I am going to do God, make it happen.

So, not only do we want to use these verse to get our desires and have God make our plans happen, we also want it done right now! God’s timing is not our timing. Verse seven tells to wait patiently for Him. We don’t want to wait for anything, yet often God asks us to wait. Abraham, the Father of Faith waited over 20 years for the promised son! So even if our desires are God’s desires, it our plans our His plans, we still may have to wait.

Here is another verse we like to quote part of but don’t always read in full context:

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:7-8

Jesus is saying that He will do whatever we wish when we remain in Him, just like delighting in Him and then it is His words (His wishes) in us. The purpose is threefold; to give God glory, to bear fruit and to show that we are His disciples.

Luke 11… Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

So He said to them, When you pray, say:

Our Father in heaven,[a]
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.[b]
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.”[

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[d] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

A couple thoughts… Ask is followed up by seek. Could it be to seek God’s will on what we are asking? Then knock, if you look at the story illustrated in the previous verse, it was took knocking, waiting, persisting… Then verse 13 says He will give us the Holy Spirit. So, what we are asking for is His spirit so we can seek His will and be encouraged while we knock, wait and persist. If you look at the verses just before, it is the Lord’s Prayer which says… your will be done… give us our daily bread… just food for thought!

There are other verses we could dig into, but I think it is clear that the Bible is not giving us magic words to use to get what we want. Jesus did not teach that, He taught and modeled a life of obedience and surrender to the God, a life of servanthood. Servants do what their master says. So is God the Lord of all our Life or do we look at Him as a genie in a bottle to get what we want?


** As a follow up… Jesus does promise to be with us always (Matthew 28:20) He promises to give us abundant life (John 10:10) but this life is not always easy (Matthew 7:14). His plans for us are better have we can ask, think or imagine (Ephesians 3:18-20). He has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11). But to get all He has promised, the life He has promised, we have to be willing to first lose (surrender) our life. (Matthew 10:39)

Raw Christianity – Good Friday 2016

I woke up early this morning and made myself get out of bed. It is so much easier just to sleep than to get up and spend quality time with God. I wish I could say that wasn’t true, I wish I could say that I pop right out of bed at the chance to be alone with God… It’s not that I don’t enjoy time with God and feel alive, invigorated and revived when I hear from my maker, I do, but reality is I’m human and still like the easy way. This reminds me of the disciples in the garden with Jesus the night He was betrayed. Jesus asked Peter, James and John to watch and pray with Him, but they just couldn’t stay awake… So, at least I am in good company 😉 The battle between sleep and prayer was even an issue for Jesus’ closest disciples! But today I win, I am up, spending time with Jesus and writing this, something He has put on my heart for a while… I am not letting sleep win (although tomorrow will probably be another battle).

Anyway, the real focus of my writing today is Peter, one of the guys who also struggled with sleeping as I mentioned above. Peter is one of my favorite disciples. He was quick to act, to speak which meant He experienced some great things with Jesus, walking on water for one, but he also had some epic failures which is why I can really relate to him! One time as they were talking, Jesus asked who people said he was, then who they thought He was. Peter answered right away that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus praised him for his answer (Matthew 16:15-17). Then, just a couple versed later (22-23), Jesus was telling them about His upcoming betrayal, death and resurrection and Peter tries to rebuke Him so Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” Wow, from praise to strong rebuke in a couple verses… this is why I like Peter!

The story that has really challenged me and caused me to write this comes towards the end of Peter’s time with Jesus. It is the night Jesus will be betrayed and Jesus is again telling His disciples what will happen to Him and that they will all scatter. Peter says no, not him… he will die with Jesus before he denies Him. Jesus knows the truth, he tells Peter that before the rooster crows, Peter will deny Jesus three times… Skip ahead a little to after they are awoken in the garden to a group with swords and clubs coming for Jesus. Peter pulls out his sword to fight for Jesus, he cuts off the ear of one of those coming against Jesus. And what does Jesus do? He doesn’t praise him but gently rebukes him and heals the guys ear. Then, we all know what happens. Jesus goes willingly, He knows this is part of the plan, and all of his disciples flee, just as He predicted. Peter does follow, but at a distance and as you probably know, he denies even knowing Jesus three times that night just as Jesus said. (Matthew 26:31-75)

This really got me thinking… I believe Peter was 100% committed when he said he would die for Jesus (and he eventually did), but what he really meant that night was that he would fight for Jesus, he would die in battle, but what Jesus did, what He ask us to do is surrender.

How often do I want to fight for Jesus but not surrender to Him? It is easy to fight for who or what we care about. When it comes to one of the passions in my live, I can fight for them. I fight to defend them, fight to make things happen, fight to keep going… but surrendering my will to Jesus, that is a little harder to do. I think many of us are just like Peter, we want to fight, but not surrender.

The end of the story for Peter is a good ending, Jesus restores their relationship and Peter is one of the leaders of the first church. Peter learned to surrender and He was used by God in great ways!

The question for me, for us is that same… Are we willing to surrender to God’s will instead of fight for our own way?

Today, Good Friday reminds us that Jesus was the ultimate example. He surrendered to the Father’s will. He gave His life… So, when He asks us to surrender, He is not asking us to do anything different than He did.

I am often asked or hear the question, “Why should I go on a mission trip instead of just send the money?”

First, I believe in following what Jesus says. The last command He gave, known as the great commission says “GO into all the world and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”

During my trip to Haiti this fall,I spent some time reading the last words Jesus shared with His disciples before he was betrayed and crucified. If I want someone to remember something important, it is usually the last thing I tell them before I go. Jesus had previously summed up the entire law saying we are to love God and love people, love our neighbor (more about that in a bit). What really struck me when I started reading the last words of Jesus was that the last parable in Matthew had to do with taking care of the least of these. Jesus said that someday He would separate His people like a shepherd who separates the sheep and the goats. To the sheep He says, “I was hungry and you feed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison (think here for a second about what that might mean, maybe just a place you are stuck in as well as a real prison) and you came to me… What you did for the least of these you did for me.” To the goats He says …”Depart from me because you have not done these things…” Notice Jesus says you visited me, you came to me… these are action words, they involve personal contact, not just sending money.

One of my favorite stories of Jesus that I think can teach us a lot about this subject is the story of the good Samaritan. In the end, the Samaritan did “give money” and went on his way coming back to check on him, but let’s look at what he did first. The first two men in this story saw the man hurt and walked on the other side of the road, however the Samaritan saw he was hurt and went to him. He bandage the man, he looked him in the eye and opened his arms to help him. I think many times it is easier to walk on the other side of the road and we do this often. We know there are problems in this world, kids starving, people sold into slavery, extreme poverty, people dying… but we choose to walk on the other side of the road, not look these people in the eye, not make it personal. You see going on a trip makes you vulnerable, you are now looking these people in the eye and opening your arms to help them. It doesn’t mean you have to stay forever, like the Samaritan you may have to give money for their care and go on your way to attend to your business but like the first two men in the story, you probably won’t give anything (or very little) until you see these problems as people and make that personal connection. I could put a picture of a malnourished baby on the street and many would walk by and not notice, not give. However if I put that same baby in your hands, your heart will be moved to help her.

In Acts 2 Jesus says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem (local), Judea (national), Samaria (cross culture) and to the ends of the earth (international).” I think it is clear, God wants us to go, He gives us His power to Go… Isaiah 6:8, I heard the voice of the Lord saying “Who will go, who should I send”… and I said, “Here I am, send me.”

Gifts for a King

What gifts should we bring before the King this Christmas? There are two stories that I believe show us how we can bring gifts before Jesus this Christmas.

The first is the story of the Wise Men. The wise men looked for Jesus, they came to Jesus. That is really the first and most important gift we can ever give to our God, to watch for Him in our lives, to search for Him, to be present with Him! However, the wise men don’t end there, they bring gifts of value to give the King.

The second story is not recorded in the Bible but passed down as a legend. True or not, we can learn from this too, the story of the drummer boy.

According to legend, there was once a young boy who was asleep in his house. A sudden sound woke him up and he was startled to find a parade taking place right outside his house. As a child, this young boy called Zach, was fascinated with parades and always wanted to be a part of it. He would often dream about dressing up and marching with others in the parade while playing the drum. Incidentally, Zach’s parents gifted him with a drum set for his birthday the previous year, and seeing the parade taking place outside his house, Zach realized that it was his only chance to get out, play the drums and be a part of the colorful gala.

He was stunned to see that the people who were parading outside were not ordinary men and women. They looked like wealthy people who were sitting on camels and were richly dressed. There were servants who led these camels, and Zach believed that this parade was headed towards Herod’s palace.

Therefore, like any other inquisitive 12 year old, Zack slipped out of his house, making sure not to awaken his parents and took his drum with him. Once he crept out of the door, he began playing the drums once he got in line with the parade; somewhere behind the last camel. He was unsure of where the big group was headed to, and he began to get carried away with his drum. He forgot that the people in Jerusalem were sleeping and all the noise that he was making, might actually awaken them. People scowled, yelled and even threw stones at poor little Zack, but he refused to stop playing. Little did Zack know that the parade was actually headed towards Bethlehem, and that he was headed towards a shed where a baby boy was born.

The people knew right away that the new born baby was special because there was a single star that shone brightly in the sky above. All the wise men on the camels and the shepherds who were part of the parade carried princely gifts with them, but little Zack had nothing with him, but his drum. Zack noticed that the poorest widow at the shed also had something to present to the newborn, and gave in everything that she required to live, to this unique child.

After all the other onlookers had left, the little drummer boy stood alone in the shed; his presence unnoticed. He was disappointed for not having brought a single gift with him. Without knowing what to do next, he began playing his drum, slow at first and then loud. Legend states, that Baby Jesus responded to the sound, turned his head towards the drummer boy and smiled; the first response to any gift presented to him on this special day. The drummer boy was no longer sad, as he believed that he presented Baby Jesus with the greatest gift of all; the gift of love.

I believe these stories illustrate the gifts we should all bring to the King. The first gift is the gift of your presence. To watch for God’s work in our lives, to seek to be near Him as the wise men and Zack, the drummer boy did. Then we should bring gifts of value (or our money/wealth) as the Wise Men did. Today that doesn’t look like expensive boxes filled with gold presented to a poor family in a stable but it is our financial gifts given to the poor of this world. The drummer boy also shows us another girt we can bring, that is our time and talents. This can be in spending time with God and also using your time and your talents to serve people. A talent doesn’t have to be something big, in Haiti holding and loving the kids is a talent and a way to love God.