Jesus comes back as a reincarnation of Bruce Li and gives me a “Lyft” in San Francisco

OK….   So my Lyft driver, A combination of Bruce Li (Hé Zōngdào) and Jesus, asked me how I was going to make the world a better place.

I told him, that I was going to do this by sharing my authentic self.  By being “real” with people.

I explained:  “By allowing myself to be vulnerable with those around me:  listening to who and what they are and what they “really” have to say, then I am giving the gift of acceptance and love to them. If we are feeling loved, then we won’t be doing terrible things to each other.”

The driver and my girlfriend by my side both listened with bated breath as I took a very dramatic pause.

“These people that feel loved, will then love others.   Add 5 degrees of freedom…   before you know it we have full beauty pageant style world domination of love and “world peace!!!”

Boom Baby!  I win!  I know it’s cheesy, but it was my “real”, genuine answer….   and so I grinned at “Hieu”  (Yes, Jesus comes back as a reincarnation of Bruce Li named “Hieu”)…   I was smiling at Hieu, enjoying how clever I was…  Look at me being so “authentic” while telling him that my solution to world peace was “authenticity.”

Patiently not impressed, Hieu said:  “I think you are close, but you have missed it.”

“You cannot begin by giving your light to the world.  You must first give light to yourself.  You have heard of the Golden Rule yes?”  Hieu’s voice was peaceful but intense.

“Of course,” said the silverback, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

…and then Sir Hieu landed the big one that will forever change my life.  Every Miss America Pageant from antiquity to infinity will finally come true because of the great pearl of wisdom from my Chinese friend.

“Do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you.  Once you have the light, then you can give it away.”   -Hieu (actually Jesus coming back as a reincarnated Bruce Li).

So my friends:  be kind to others.  Listen to them.  Love them with all of your genuine heart and soul if you dare!   But before you pretend to love someone else….  you better love yourself first.   You might fool them….   but you didn’t “really” love them.   

You can’t give, what you don’t have.

Oh that Hieu…….

 

Here is a picture of my new friend Hieu:

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The Rice Line

We are born and then we die.  In the mean time, we want it to mean something.

Rice

Something meaningful is in this story for you or your money back.

I just ate breakfast with the most incredible man.  He told me this story and wept while telling it.  I wept while listening to it.  My friend wishes to remain anonymous, so I will refer to him as John.  He is Vietnamese, so there is no possible way his name is John.  I choose John because I am intimately familiar with just how common and anonymous this name is…  (Ha!  Name Joke!)

John is currently a successful engineer who lives and works in the greater Bay Area.  He designs things that people say are impossible, but they aren’t impossible:  Just really freaking awesome.

By any measure of human success, John has done well.  Married, happy with a child.  Financially retired, but doing what he loves to do.  Really talented – He is soft spoken, intelligent and powerful, in a humble sort of way.  You would never know that this blue jeans and polo shirt vietnamese guy is as accomplished as he is…  Even MORE incredible is that all of this success started as a college aged kid in a refugee camp.

John was attending university when the Communist part came to power in South Vietnam.  He was targeted as a threat “to the people” by the corrupt government and received a death sentence.  Not wanting to end his story just yet, he fled on a boat from South Vietnam to Thailand.

The Diner booth we sat in while he told me the story is almost 10 ft long if you include the padding…  And it seated two while we ate breakfast… 120 people were crammed into John’s 20 ft long vessel all the way from Vietnam to Tahiland.  Any way you slice it, that sucks.

There are many stories within this situation which I will skip for now.  I could write a book about John’s experience and I intend to.  It took his boat 30 days to reach the refugee camp in Thailand.  The boat encountered pirates, a woman was raped, a child was born and died, they ran nearly out of food after 15 days, water ran out as well not too long after…  By the time this boat reached the refugee camp, it’s passengers were what I will charitably call “starved”, but should more accurately call something else.  The fact that they made it across the sea is, in itself, a tribute to the human spirit.

After stumbling ashore, this motley crew of refugees were directed by the Red Cross towards the “rice line”.  Each person was to be given a small amount of water and rice per day.  The only rule with the rice line is that a person can only get in the line once per day…  Don’t drop your rice…

During the group’s first trip to the rice line, John was placed behind a young boy of maybe 8 years.  The boy was so weak from dehydration and starvation that he could barely hold the rice bowl empty, let alone full of rice…  As he was walking towards a place to sit, the boy dropped his rice.  Devastated and too dehydrated to cry, it was all the boy could do to stoop over and try to pull what was left of his rice out of the sand.

Without thinking, John bent over and held the boy: “Look.  It OK.  You have half.  I have half.  We come back tomorrow.”  The boy gratefully accepted the offer, scarfed down half of John’s rice and disappeared into the refugee camp.

………

John worked tirelessly to convince the US officials to grant him a Visa and give him a chance.   Fast-forward about 6 months of “rice line”.    It is FINALLY John’s opportunity to receive his last interview by an official with the US government for entry to America.  John has filled out all of the paperwork as best as he could and gone to many interviews.  It is now the moment of truth.  He sits tensely down across the table from the American.  John’s future is now in the balance and a bureaucrat that he has never met will make the decision.

John’s English was not so good, but it was good enough to understand this…

“Congratulations!  Your application is approved!  Please provide the $100 processing fee and welcome.  We are glad to have you.”

John’s heart was immediately jammed into his throat and his spirit crushed as he reached into his pocket.  John didn’t have $100.  He didn’t have $10.    John’s mind was racing.  John’s mouth speechless as he slumped down into the cheap plastic chair.  He survived a death sentence from the Communists, pirates, starvation, dehydration, all to continue a pathetic existence.  One does not get approved for America VISA twice from a Thailand refugee camp.  This is a once in a lifetime deal and John missed it.  The American looked compassionately, but sternly at John as John’s speech returned to him and he began to plead for more time to come up with the money.

At that moment a middle aged woman approached the desk and took a good hard (and awkward) look at John.  She then turned to the American and slowly counted out 100 crumpled, torn US dollars.  She asked the American if this would qualify for the processing of John’s application.  The American agreed.  The application was Stamped.  John’s life was now saved.

John couldn’t remember to say thank you with his words.  But I am pretty sure the woman could see it in his eyes when he asked:  “Why?”

She managed to smile as she explained that she was the mother of that 8 year old boy in the rice line.  “Remember”, she said,  “You have half.  I have half.  We come back tomorrow.”

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OK to be human

The picture says it all…

While traveling home from Malawi, South-East Africa this summer.  One member of my team lost her passport in Nairobi, Kenya (of all places…)  I stayed behind with her to sort out the issues and make sure she made it home safe.  This newspaper was sitting on the floor in front of my hotel room in Nairobi near the US Consulate…  It’s little things like this that remind me of how grateful I am to be an American.  We don’t have to threaten our parents to get our children in school!  And we don’t need armed Guards with AK-47’s outside of our hotels to keep us safe at night!

Have you ever been on a short term mission’s trip?  Never been out of the country?  Feel called to be God’s hands and feet to the lost and hurting around the world?  Looking for an adventure?  It’s hilarious newspaper headlines while trying to sort out passport issues in Africa that bring adventure to life.

Consider joining me on my next short term missions trip!  It could just help shape the rest of your life in a very good way.  Guaranteed to be an epic adventure.  Guaranteed to be an incredible blessing to both you and the Children you will serve or your money back (give me a call for details).  …And I will personally guarantee your safety (I already have one accomplishment in this regard…  🙂   )

A note from daily devotions

Scripture from Luke 22:

41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,

42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Observation:

Here we see Jesus being very…  well…  human.  At this point, he knew his purpose.  He knew that he was born not to be served, but to serve…  To give up his life as a ransom for many.  …but like any other reasonable person, he did not want to suffer.  He did not want to go through the torture.

We are taught that in the beginning there was the Word and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All at once, this “Word”, this “light” asks humbly that there might be some other way, while already knowing the answer.

Jesus: the essential picture of human paradox.

Application:

I get frustrated with myself sometimes.  My own human frailty.  My own weakness.  I fail often.  I like to think this is because I have set the bar so high…  But what of that?

When I succeed in accomplishing what I have set out to accomplish, I often second guess myself: my motives, my objectives.  Do my wishes line up with God’s?

…But I don’t have to.  Jesus, who was Himself God, spent much of His life in prayer.  God, only gave himself about 30 years on earth, and of this 30 years, he spent a huge portion of this time in prayer.

Perhaps, this was God’s way of coping with being human.

If God himself needed to ask one of the other three for advice, then how much more should I?

Perhaps, this should be my way of coping with being human as well.

Prayer brings my desires in alignment with God’s.

 

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His Ways are Greater

Some featured images from Malawi:

These pictures are taken at an orphanage just outside of Lilongwe, Malawi and show me teaching some important  behavioral modification techniques to one of the students…  🙂  One can clearly see the joy on these beautiful little faces!  Jesus is clearly at work with these Children.  You are clearly making a huge difference in the lives of these little ones!

A note from my devotions:

Scripture from Psalm 147:

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

The Lord lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.

Observation:

God is capable.  It is HE that lifts up the meek.  It is HE that casts the wicked down.  Not me, but HE.  Not the system that exists, but HE.  HE alone is capable, HE alone has the power.  HE alone has the wisdom to know the difference.

My thoughts are nowhere to be found in God’s conversation around Justice.

Application:

I have heard and I have seen God’s power at work.  I am a blessed man, but even after He has held me in His arms and strengthened me to stand, I find myself forgetting.  I find myself thinking that I should be at work.  That I should be affecting a change…  Indeed, I am called to work, and work hard I do, but I forget that it is God that ultimately holds me together.

God’s Word for me today is that I must find these things in HIM:

– Healing for the Heart

– Wisdom and Understanding

– Justice

—–

As always, if you feel led in any way to be involved in transforming a child’s life (such as the adorable little ones in the above pictures) please do NOT hesitate to reach out to me.  I would love to meet you for a cup of coffee and speak about the best way to get involved!

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