Ep 12 – A Teacher Accepts a Bold Assignment

She’s a teacher who recently accepted a bold assignment to teach in a closed country.  Hear what she’s up to and the question that led her to pack up and go.  Discover how being used right where you are could you lead you to places you never imagined.

From this episode, two main questions emerge for all who follow Christ:

  1. How can I be used right where I am?
  2. What makes me think God would not call me to go to hard place (a closed country)?

Don’t limit yourself and what God is capable of doing with you.


He Gave His Life for Christ


Bayo Otiti. Servant of Christ.

A good friend, mentor, and servant passed from this life to the next today.

His name was Adebayo Otiti.  His friends simply called him Bayo.

He died after a battle with a blood cancer.  Ultimately his heart gave out.

The doctors might say the disease killed him.  I think his heart just gave out because he loved so much.

He was born in Nigeria, to a wealthy and powerful Muslim family.  His devotion to Islam was evidenced by the scar on his forehead from the years of bowing in daily prayer.  He memorized the Qur’an by age 12 and became an Imam.

As a child in Nigeria, one day he overheard a song that found its way into his heart.  He used to sing it over and over, not knowing the meaning of the lyrics.

The song is an old Christian hymn, but little Bayo thought it was a song about two people in love.

I gave My life for thee, My precious blood I shed,
That thou might ransomed be, and raised up from the dead
I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?
I gave, I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?

Later in life, Bayo would reflect on those memories and say that the Lord was pursuing him through this song, even though he didn’t know what it meant.

Bayo would eventually become a follower of Jesus and commit himself to bringing other Muslims into the kingdom of God through Jesus.

My Father’s house of light, My glory circled throne
I left for earthly night, for wanderings sad and lone;
I left, I left it all for thee, hast thou left aught for Me?
I left, I left it all for thee, hast thou left aught for Me?

For this commitment, Bayo lost a fortune and was isolated from his family.  But he never let that discourage him.  He was an eternal optimist.

I suffered much for thee, more than thy tongue can tell,
Of bitterest agony, to rescue thee from hell.
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee, what hast thou borne for Me?
I’ve borne, I’ve borne it all for thee, what hast thou borne for Me?

If you knew Bayo you knew him to be the best dressed man anywhere he went.  He always wore the finest suits.  Recently I saw him in a full length beaver coat!  One time he even showed up to a church workday dressed in a tie!

His wardrobe reflected his past in the high fashion industry in New York.  He was a master tailor.

But, fine clothes were his style, not his attitude.  For he lived what Jesus taught that the greatest must be the servant of all.

Bayo started ministries to Hispanic families and refugees from Somalia and Burma.  He was promised wealth if he returned to Islam, but he left it all to see that others would know Jesus.

And I have brought to thee, down from My home above,
Salvation full and free, My pardon and My love;
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee, what hast thou brought to Me?
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee, what hast thou brought to Me?

Bayo loved his Lord.   He knew Jesus had given much more than he could ever express.  He had covered his sin and shame and given him new life and new purpose.

In return, “what has thou brought to me,” Bayo gave his life to the very end.

I and many people from many nations will miss him deeply.  I am a better man and follower of Christ for having known him.

But pardon me if my grief comes with a grin.  For we who follow Christ know we will see him again.  The riches that Christ offers have blessings for today and an unbeatable hope for the future.

If only the example of Bayo was all I had, it would be evidence enough.

Later my friend.

A Great Book to Read with Your Kids

As a parent, I want to help my kids think about what is most important in life, like the meaning of
true friendship, the value of work, courage, honesty, loyalty, etc.

But precious little that is designed for kids these days encourages serious thought about such virtues. 
Recently, however, I have been reading “The Book of Virtues for Boys and Girls” with my 9 year old son.
The book contains short chapters filled with writings from classic authors and inspiring characters such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Robert Frost, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, and Aesop.  Stories from the Bible are also included.
The book focuses on the 5 virtues listed in the first paragraph of this post.  Reading it together has sparked wonderful conversations with my son. 

One insight comes from the chapter on friendship,

“Being a friend does not always require doing what your friend wants you to do.  Rather, it requires doing what you believe is best for your friend.”

That may sound simple, but later that week my son had a situation where, upon reflection, he realized that something a friend had done was actually not what was “best” but rather selfish.  Prior to our conversation, he might have seen it as wrong, but not put it in the context of what it means to be a true friend.

You can order the book here.  
In a world where books and programs for children often focus either on information or entertainment, it’s good to find something that helps kids think about virtue.  

Sign Up for the Baby Raffle!

Several of my friends have gotten involved in foster care.  It is inspiring to see how they have opened their lives and their hearts to kids they don’t even know with challenges they can’t imagine.

Me and my wife are looking into it as well.  All I can say is I’m glad we don’t do it like this anymore!

Check out this ad from France from January 1912.

Photo courtesy of http://www.retronaut.com!

Do You Believe in Karma?

 photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc

I stopped in at Starbucks looking for a little late afternoon pick me up.  Two  middle-aged Iranian ladies were in line in front of me having a good time making their order.

I enjoy engaging people from other cultures so I just mentioned that my Farsi was a little rusty.  In fact, “Farsi” is the only “Farsi” word I know.

So, they taught me to say a few words while we waited for our brews.

Then, they asked what I do and I told them.


Pastors should think twice before revealing what they do.  It’s usually a conversation killer.

It’s best to keep that a secret and just come up with something really cool instead.

“I train monkeys to shop for the elderly.”

“I test pilot rockets to Mars.”

“I run a non-profit that rescues kittens.”

Something like that would have turned the conversation in an entirely different direction.

Even so, they asked me to join them. We ended up talking for 90 minutes – about everything!

At one point one of them asked, “Do you believe in karma?”

I asked, “What do you mean by karma?”

She answered, “That if you do good things then good will happen to you.”

I replied, “No and I am glad because if I got what I deserved from all the bad stuff I have done then that would not be good.  We don’t always reap what we sow.  Some people live well even though they do bad.  Some suffer even though they do good.”

Not a bad answer I guess.  But then, I am one of those guys who thinks of what they should have said 5 minutes after they had the opportunity to say it.

Looking back, rather than just telling what I think, I would have asked a couple of questions instead.

New Iranian friend:  “Do you believe in Karma?”
Me:  “Let me ask, do you believe that everything good in your life is a result of some good you have done?

Possible answers:

New friend: “I would have to say no.  There are good things I have experienced that I have not earned.”
Me:  “Well, who do you think you owe gratitude for those things?”


New Friend:  “Yes.  I believe everything good in my life is a result of some good I have done.  Even if that means that good from a previous life has been passed on to me in this lifetime.”
Me:  “Tell me then, how much good did you do?  Who sets the standard for how much good you have to do in order to have good returned to you?”

Now I trust that they way the conversation actually went was helpful.  And, her question about karma did get me thinking about what the Bible teaches on the subject.

The Bible does teach the law of sowing and reaping.  That sounds like karma in some sense, that you sow what you reap (Galatians 6:8).  In context, however, the verse is referring to the fact that God cannot be mocked, not whether or not we will experience good things in life by doing good things.

God is a relational God in the Bible, not an impersonal law of the universe like the idea of karma.  God cannot be mocked means that you will reap what you sow.  If you sow to please the flesh (read selfishness, lust, pride) then God will see to it that eventually you reap difficulty.

If, however, you do the things that nourish the soul you will benefit greatly.

Jesus taught that suffering comes to the good and bad.  It rains on the righteous and unrighteous.  The idea of karma easily leads to the idea that if someone is suffering it is due to some bad they have done.

So, even a person’s social status could be due to good or evil they have done in this life or a past one.

But, Jesus teaches we are all as guilty as anyone else of doing evil.  Our good never outweighs our bad.  Unless we all repent, we all will perish.  (Luke 13: 1 – 5)

As it says in James,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  (James 1:17)   

All good comes from God and is not due to the good we do.  Sure, life can be better if you do good. But there are many places in this world where the righteous are persecuted, jailed or even killed.  The example of Jesus is that if you truly live a good life, you will likely suffer greatly.

The fact is that we have all received good that we have not earned, and to God we owe thanks.

We have all experienced evil that we have not deserved, and to God we ask strength and mercy.

But to say that our lives are subject to some impersonal law of the universe that somehow keeps track of what we do is to miss the very personal God who created the life we actually experience.

Karma sounds like cold, impersonal ‘justice’ to me.  You get what you deserve.

But God is merciful and generous, who, in Christ, has given us something we could never deserve.

So, no, I don’t believe in karma because I DO believe in Christ.

Oh, and be sure to say “salam [sa-lom]” if you see two Iranian ladies in Starbucks.