T.I.A.

Your first instinct is to say “I’m a sorry sack of crap…” The second instinct is to tell yourself  “I can fix this…”  Then finally, after days of heat exhaustion, guilt and emotional turmoil it sinks in that…this is Africa… t.i.a.  So now the question becomes: what will you do from here? Being in Africa and seeing what I’m seeing… breaks my heart. It also breaks  God’s heart and as I begin to understand this truth, I also realize this – I can walk away from this  and do nothing or I can let this change in me lead to something great… something beyond me.

It DOES break God’s heart to see any of His children hungry or suffering. but it breaks His heart even more to see His children do nothing when they have the means to help His other children ease their suffering and they do nothing.

Ngariam, Katakwi

Just before lunch

I cannot save this country. I cannot feed this country. I cannot clothe this country. But I CAN feed One child. I can help One child. I CAN clothe One child. It’s One life that I can participate in helping God make a difference in. This is overwhelming in my spirit. I cannot expect you to understand this kind of pain. How can you hurt for what you’ve not seen? And today, that is all that God wanted me to see. He doesn’t expect me to feel guilty… He only wants me to feel the compassion and the hurt that He feels for these children. He only wants me to search my heart and then do whatever it is that He may ask of me in helping Him help these children. The greatest question for all of us on this trip is simply this: what will change… AFTER Africa?! When I get home and find myself satisfied once more, will I stay as hungry in my spirit as I feel tonight? I am amazed that I have wanted for nothing this week and have never experienced such a transparent joy as I have even just tonight. I can make a difference if I’ll only listen to what my God asks and go where He sends.

In Africa, nothing is simple from the inside while outside it is a life that is nothing BUT simple. It rains when it rains. You eat when you can. You work and you sweat everything but the small stuff. And you expect nothing but what’s in front of you. Because… This – Is… Africa. I cannot expound anymore then this. I don’t feel eloquent or articulate. I can only tell you tonight that here, in Africa, God is just as present here as He is surely present today exactly where you are as well. If nothing more, Africa is teaching me to love what I have greater and believe that even a sack of crap like me doesn’t stink so bad because… I CAN make a difference. This IS Africa… we all can!         Blessings and Peace from Uganda       SAG

Handing out letters that first day in Ngariam

letters to the children

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A Mom’s Prerogative

Children are God’s perfect blessing to their parents. At least… that’s what we’ve always been led to believe. I remember growing and, in her perforated and (at the time) absolutely frustrated state of growing rage – my mom turned to me, fist clinched – eyes bulging – face contorting and she said “Children are God’s perfect blessing!” She looked crazy, as she repeated this over and over and over. It was kinda freakin’ me out, man. It turned into this sort of mantra, if you will, almost like… if she stopped saying it, something awful might happen. Or like, she was trying to remind herself, no – convince herself – that this was true. I was holding one of those “fake” apples, with a big chunk missing about the size of my little mouth and I’m pretty sure that – while this hadn’t been the worst thing I’d done that day – it very well was about to be the last thing I did that day. Judging from her crazy expression, maybe the last thing I ever did, period.

Parents snap on a regular basis. Take that lady who actually pulled over and left her children by the side of the road. That was probably, in hindsight, not the right option to take. (I’m thinking, next time go with C) instead, whatever option C) is!) I mean, we’ve ALL wanted to do that, haven’t we? But at the end of the day, well… we just can’t. Though the “blessings” may be driving you nuts, you can’t leave them by the side of the road! In these moments, we must look beyond the frustrations and somehow be able to see the blessings before us in their imperfect, little states to recognize what a treasure we’ve really been given! Moms are better equipped with this kind of eye – sight then dad’s. I think that’s why most dads should be working all day! In that moment, my dad would’ve laughed. But I never would’ve survived long enough to reach that moment simply because my dad would’ve ended my life after about the second thing I did after being told not to do it! Moms are moms because of the incredible amount of endurance God equips the female species with! Generally speaking, women can withstand pain far greater then most men. Their patience stretches to the heavens while a man’s barely reaches the ceiling. Women have a longer memory of sins done against them, with memories like an elephant’s trunk in length and a historians ability to instantly recall them whenever needed; yet, memories equipped to just as easily cling to a single, even simple joy against a thousand hurts and sorrows. Tell your mom she looks pretty when you’re four and she’ll be telling your kids about that moment thirty years later. Make your mom a macaroni smiley face and she’ll still have it (minus a few macaronis!) when you’re fifty. Mom’s are into the simple pleasures in life and they generally require simple returns, like love – honor – phone calls – and kisses…lots and lots of hugs and kisses! Mom’s have the right to always call you her little baby, tell you you’ve grown but you still could use a little weight (even when your forty and fat). Moms have a right to judge, to “suggest”, and to nag… over the silliest of things. I always knew I was about to be seriously annoyed and irritated when mom would start a sentence with “Now, honey… this is just your Jewish mother making her little suggestion, but I think… blah – blah – blah…” We’re not Jewish, but I didn’t know that for the first 15 years of my life. Moms also have the right to cry, although my dad once said that’s pretty much women in general. “A woman’s prerogative is to change her mind… and cry over whatever the heck she wants.”

My mom loves old crosses and flowers

I love my mom. Sure, we’ve been through some rough times, but she’s my mom. She’s known me for longer then anyone else on this planet. (Nine months, to be exact). She knows my very fiber and can still read me better then just about anyone, although my wife is getting pretty good at it. My mom’s love has shaped my heart; my mom’s disciple has shaped my spirit; but it was my mom’s pain that was the beginning of my existence. And for all the good and some of the bad, I am grateful that she decided to bare it for my sake. Maybe I’ll call her today and remind her just how grateful that I am… and how much I love her, too. She can tell her grandkids all about in another twenty years! After all, it’s a mother’s prerogative to hang onto those simple joys and blessings… its how moms roll! Blessings! And bless your own mom today, in prayer if not in person! Peace!       SAG

Sean Gutteridge – May 9, 2010

This Approaching Boldness

"I'm King of the..." oh, forget about it.

I‘ve always struggled with boldness. I am the least bold person that I know, you know? I love bold people. I admire their fearlessness, their tenacious spirit and unyielding conviction. When a bold person knows they are right about a thing, there is no swaying them. They will die before they yield their convictions. This can sometimes create problems for them because every once in awhile, well… they are wrong. But no matter, they’ve erred with the best of intentions. Now a not so bold person (me) may know they are right. They may have strong convictions – often this is the case – yet, something inside of them creates hesitation. It goes well beyond fear, though in the end, I do believe that it is fear of some nature which lies at the source of this roadblock to a boldness they do not own. I hate not being bold – especially when I know that I am right. I’m the guy who asks for mustard on his hotdog and is satisfied with ketchup because, well… no sense in pissing some stranger off when ketchup on a dog isn’t so bad. Besides, the guy who made it looks really angry right now, and who can blame him? How happy would you be if you had to make hotdogs all day for a living?

I like jumping out of airplanes. I love toying with danger, going to dangerous places in far away lands. It fulfills my sense of excitement and adventure. But I think the deeper reason for doing some of these things is some messed up notion subconsciously within me, that somehow doing some of these things will compensate for that lack of boldness that I crave. Jumping out of an airplane is exhilarating! It also makes me feel a little less of a coward. But at the end of the day, well… I am still quite scarred of a great many things. It’s that fear of unknowing which drives every human into one state or the other: it’s a rush for those with boldness. For the rest of us, it’s also a rush… a rush of absolute terror! I think at the end of the day, it is about trust. Sky – diving isn’t really as trust driven as one might think. Oh sure, there’s a calculated risk involved. I can personally testify to that first hand. I’ve had my near – death experience! But looking at the numbers, they’re in your favor. Research how many sky – diving deaths there are annually and you’ll understand that not many people die from that sport. When you jump, you know exactly where you’re trying to get to; it’s just a matter of getting there. And some days, because of wind and weather conditions, it can be tougher then other days. Essentially, however, it really is all up to 3 people: the pilot getting me close enough to the drop zone, me doing my job properly (which includes packing my own chute – usually), and the stranger who packed my reserve chute. Granted, there’s not a huge margin for error, but still… the odds are stacked pretty high in my favor!

Pool of Bethesda

God gives us each a spirit of boldness, not of timidity. Some of us just have difficulty finding it! Being bold isn’t being loud. Boldness is being confident, confident and sure of your objectives. Following God confidently means even when you can’t see the drop – zone (so to speak) you’re confident that He’s putting you out in a safe place where you’ll have a better then decent chance at getting where He wants you to land. People who are bold can step out in confidence because they’ve prayed that God would lead them. And when He does, they move without hesitation. They can be cautious but when the time comes to move, they move. They are not so tied down to this world that those things can keep them tied up and prohibit their own movements for God.

Josh at Maggido

My baby brother, Joshua, is a bold person. I love his passion for the gospel and his commitment to all things Christ. His fire is contagious and his spirit, unbending. He sees a thing, and he attacks it with purpose. Four times I’ve seen him pack up his family and move them half way across the country. No job waiting on three of those occasions. Why? Because he was certain, after great prayer that each move was exactly where God wanted him to go. When he left for Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute, he wasn’t even sure how he would pay for his school let alone provide for his family. But he had confidence that just as God had given him the green light to go to Chicago, it just made sense to him that God would ultimately be his primary benefactor as well.  Josh is probably THE

“His FIRE, contagious; His Spirit…unbending.”

Boldest person I’ve ever known. I have no shame in saying that this is a quality (among many) for which I deeply love and admire in my brother, Joshua.

I’ll tell you who else was bold: (can you see this one coming?!) You bet Jesus was bold. Bold to preach an unpopular message with the religious establishment; bold to love the unlovely; bold to give a life for so many so undeserving; bold to know the pain He’d have to bare ahead of time and STILL go through with it! And it is this SAME BOLDNESS which rests in every believer. As I begin to rest in Christ and rely more heavily upon Him, boldness approaches my spirit like a coming storm. It crashes on the beaches of my heart like a hurricane bringing resolve with it dashing those structures of instability called fear and unknowing. And it approaches with fury!

Deep down, I know that we all have the ability to be bold for Christ. We may also be bold IN Christ: “Approach the throne of Grace with boldness” I believe the Word reminds us. We have been given that spirit of boldness. Perhaps what needs to be worked out first, however is our trust! Knowing God is in control and living under God’s control are two completely separate notions. Work out you trust in your prayer life first and then watch as boldness begins to present itself more and more. Boldness is not something to be wished for; it is something to be seized! But until I’ve worked out my own faith in how much I trust my God, I won’t be able to recognize when boldness appears before me. I’ll be to busy looking elsewhere for my safety! SAG

Sean Gutteridge

The Breaking of Emotion

The Casting Shadow at Arbel

a great place to feel perspective, not find it.

There is a great misunderstanding within my spirit: it thinks it knows how to navigate my life. By “it” I mean, of course, my emotions. How often they dictate which direction I end up heading or even if I end up going in any direction at all. The surplus of emotions has been a curse to me my entire life. Very little good has ever come from any of my emotions and yet, they must serve some purpose or surely God would never have cursed us with them to begin with! I suppose the key lies in learning to not just curve the emotions or even “control” them (an oxymoron if ever there was one – you don’t control emotions, it’s impossible!) but you learn to master the emotions of the human heart. But how? How does one control the uncontrollable? The same way that one controls a horse: before you can become its master you must break it.

Can you break your emotions? I believe that you can. A wild horse is always wild it’s just that after time it forgets that it is wild. It learns to trust the one holding the reigns and riding its back. But horses still get spooked, don’t they. And so do emotions. And when they bolt out of control, it is up to you to gently pull the reigns to regain control – even pulling with more force when needed to gain their attention.

Arbel

THEY MUST FIRST BE BROKEN

Mastering the emotions is also learning where to steer them and where NOT to steer them. When you begin to recognize where danger lies and what situations might spook your emotions, learn to not travel in those directions or go near those places. My emotions master me, yet I have the power to become master over them at any time. But they must first be broken. And… I will certainly need the help of God’s Holy Spirit to accomplish this enormous feat. Being emotional is never a bad thing… it’s where you allow those emotions to take you that can be dangerous. Learn to drive them where YOU want to go; places where they can be of the greatest benefit to God. And then enjoy the freedom you have in being emotional! Pretty soon, it won’t be you driving your emotions anymore… it will be that Love of Christ and His Holy Spirit taking over the reigns…and that’s the ultimate destination!

Sean Gutteridge