Are you Content?

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:11-12

Let’s be honest. There are parts of the Bible that are frustrating. Like where Paul talks about how he’s “learned to be content.” I mark up every book I own and the Bible is no exception. I took the liberty to jot down my own thoughts in the margin next to Paul’s words. I wrote, “How do I do that?” Profound I know!

How do you learn to be content? It sounds a lot harder than riding a bike. In fact, if your life looked anything like mine did at the time I wrote my own commentary on the passage, you’d down right think to learn to be content is well, impossible.

I scribbled that question in the margin of my NIV sometime during 2007. That year was a blur so don’t ask me to remember exactly when it was during 2007. What I do remember of that year is wiping toilets and cleaning up putrid smelling vomit at the Tragic Kingdom, which you may know as the Magic Kingdom. I was a seminary graduate with a newly achieved Masters of World Missions and Evangelism degree and I worked as a self-proclaimed “Mistress of Custodial Arts.” It was better than restroom cleaner, janitor, custodian and all things to do with trash and vomit. In less than a year I went from Master to Mistress.

Needless to say, I was a bitter beast during that time and I was anything but content.

Wouldn’t you know Jesus went to work with me every day as I cleaned toilets, sprayed enough air freshener to put a hole the size of Texas in the o-zone layer and go down on bended knee to clean up the aftermath of someone who ate too much junk food before hitting the rides. I didn’t recognize him at first, not because he looked any different than he does any other day but because I wasn’t looking for him. I was so consumed with Me, I didn’t see Him.

Until a precious, tiny woman with a broken heart invaded mine. Less than 5’ tall, Sam was also a “Mistress of Custodial Arts.” Her husband was abusive, her kids bad behavior a simple and understandable reflection of their chaotic home life; she felt like her world was crumbling right before her eyes. In a custodial closet filled with toilet paper and air fresheners, Sam poured her heart out to me. Her desperation for hope rang loudly through her every word. She was tired, lost and hopeless.

Something fantastic happened. I stopped dwelling on my own toilet scrubbing state and I saw Jesus. Not physically, wearing the stereotypical long white robe with a baby blue sash and long flowing hair. No, I didn’t see him, but I knew he was there and I knew, in that moment, that Jesus had some things to say to sweet Sam. I knew he had put me in that depressing restroom stock closet to share with Sam what Jesus thought of her. So I sighed, put my hand on Sam’s tiny shoulder and began to talk to Jesus. She cried, I cried, and together we asked him for wisdom and hope and peace to swell over her and her family.

Later that day I decided to try listening to Jesus, who I was now sure was with me as sure I was I cleaned toilets for a living. Up to this point, I’d been doing a lot of talking at him, asking him questions like, “Why did you take me 3,000 miles from home to go to seminary and learn about evangelism only to bring me back home and the only job you provide is cleaning toilets at an amusement park?”

Jesus, being the man of mystery that he is, didn’t exactly speak as quickly as I wanted him to during that season, but slowly, I noticed a much needed change taking place in my heart and in my attitude. I was humbled that even in a season when I was bitter and frustrated with God because I blamed him for not fulfilling my expectations for my life, he still extended such love and grace towards me in that he’d perfectly orchestrated Sam and me to be in the custodial closet at just the moment we both needed to meet with Jesus. I slowly, very slowly, began to realize that what I do for work, regardless of my title, regardless of where I live or any other circumstance around me, has absolutely nothing to do with his fierce love and purpose for me. He can and will use all of it for his good work and purpose.

Sam wasn’t the only person I had a Jesus conversation with after that day. In fact, there were many more that heard and sought out Jesus. It saddens me to think I may have missed opportunities to share his love with others because I was fixated on my own problems.

Paul’s statement doesn’t seem all that difficult to understand now. I too learned to be content when I set my pursuit in life on Jesus; not on myself and certainly not on my circumstances.

Regardless of where I work and where I live, what my Creator requires of me is simple. He asks me to love him before all else in this life and to consider and love those around me. Contentment ensues here on out and it’s beautiful. I am a Master of Evangelism. All those who follow Jesus are. By our love others will know his great love. I didn’t expect to be an evangelist in a restroom, but in that moment, it didn’t matter where we were. All that mattered was Jesus was there and he intimately and radically showered Sam and me with his unfailing love.

So whether you’re a Mistress or a Master I encourage you today to look not unto your own works, hopes and dreams for yourself, but into the One who created you with hopes and dreams. For in Him and Him alone you will find contentment. Wipe toilets or build skyscrapers. Whatever you do, do in love for Him and love others.

Do you also find Paul’s statement to be frustrating? Are you feeling discontent? Spend some time in stillness and quiet and listen for Jesus. He will meet with you where you are when you’re ready.

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Tags | Global

Why did God allow the tornadoes?

This blog originally appeared as an op-ed piece in

In moments of severe disasters like the tornado in Oklahoma, people of faith will often speak of “praying for the city” or “praying for the victims.” As the massive tornado outside of Oklahoma City annihilated buildings including a school with students and teachers, some people of faith used social media to speak messages of prayer and hope in God. However, some atheists also posted in social media, referred to this natural disaster as a “gratuitous evil” or evidence against God’s existence. One atheist tweeted:

“NEWSFLASH—If god cared about Oklahoma he wouldn’t have allowed the tornado in the first place. #PrayForOklahoma #Atheism

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Learning to Work with Girls at Risk

When Frederick Douglass said slavery "has been called by a great many names and it will call itself by yet another, and all of us had better wait and see what new form this old monster will assume,” he knew what he was talking about.

Modern-day slavery looks different than it did during the nineteenth century when Douglass spoke those words. Today, slavery is not bound by borders, race, religion, economic status or social class. At its core, slavery is the exploitation of the most vulnerable. 

Orange County, CA has one of the highest populations per capita of homelessness in the U.S., with only 3,400 temporary shelter beds available. An individual needs to work 141 hours per week at minimum wage in order to afford average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment. It should come as no surprise then that hundreds of homeless families find themselves residing in motels. This working homeless population is a socially neglected, ignored and an extremely vulnerable population. 
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Jesus met me at Starbucks this morning

Originally posted 3 years ago, here is a Christmas season repeat of hope, justice, Jesus and latte's. 


I broke routine this morning. I interrupted my morning commute to work with a pit stop at Starbucks and a book in hand. It’s been a very long time since I have sat and read over a latte and to my surprise, Jesus was there.  


I ordered a sinful Caramel Brulee Latte and took a seat along the perimeter so that I could watch the subtle rain drops collide with the ground outside. I opened my book in hand, Just Courage by Gary Haugen and reached for my latte. But before I could take in my first sip of that delightful little beverage, I was met by Jesus who had appeared somehow on my Christmas themed cup.

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Why the Congo Conflict Matters at Christmas

It seems as though the Christmas shopping season, which officially kicked off on Black Friday, is a bigger deal than ever this year. For the first time stores opened on Thanksgiving rather than waiting until the wee hours of Friday morning to welcome hoards of shoppers. Some people, eager to be the first to snag a killer deal on a 50-inch LED television, camped out in front of stores like Target and Best Buy Best for a week.

Truth be told, I don’t have a problem with Black Friday and Christmas shopping or with people camping out on sidewalks across the nation for days in order to get a good deal. I mean, who doesn’t want a great price on everything these days?

But I do have a problem when this consumer nation is uneducated about the products they are buying such as how objects are made and where the materials to make all the products we love so much come from. Sometimes it seems that America, a country in which education is freely available to any and all who desire it, operates as one of the more ignorant, uneducated nations in the world in terms of understanding how things work globally. 

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Is God Angry at the East Coast? God, Hurricanes, the Bible, and Pain

Global catastrophes sadden us. The images are terrifying and experiencing such moments in history are painful. Why does God allow this to go on? Is He causing it? Where is God in hurricanes and pain? Here are some answers that make sense biblically.

God Is Opposed to Storms

When God first created the world, He pushed back the chaos. He brought order where none existed. This is what much of Genesis 1–2 is about. This is why God’s focus at the beginning is the sky and the waters. He is pushing back the madness. He calls doing so “good.”

When God’s will is connected to natural disasters in the Old Testament—like the flooding of the earth—God is not happy about it. It’s a last resort. It means God letting His own work be undone.

Of Course I'm Political, I Believe in Jesus

Jesus is political. That’s how He died.

In this season of everyone pitching their political beliefs—including my favorite kind of naysaying, Facebook critics—Christians quickly get out of control. In the midst of it all, it’s really easy to lose sight of who is really ruler, Jesus, as Eugene Cho recently pointed out. It’s also easy to lose sight of just how political Jesus is and what that means for us.

Our Opposition Is Everywhere—That’s the Choice We Made

Jesus’ entire identity opposed the worldwide power of Rome.

The Extremes of the Abortion Issue

I have never been one who has fought against abortion. By that I mean that I have never carried a sign that says, “Stop Abortion Now,” nor have I ever participated in a pro-life rally.

However, that doesn’t mean I waver in my belief that abortion is wrong and is tantamount to taking the life of a precious, innocent, fully alive though not fully formed human being. I believe that completely. I’m just not an active opponent of those who believe in a woman’s right to choose (to use the common language of those who favor abortion rights). Instead, I’m a passive proponent of a child’s right to live.

And you know what? I’m ashamed to tell you of my passivity, especially after reading two articles that came across my radar recently.

The first was a disturbing piece entitled, “The Three Deadliest Words in the World: It’s a Girl.” Reported by A.G. Harmon on, the piece focused on a new documentary produced and directed by Evan Grae Davis. I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the film trailer, but be forewarned. It will disturb you, not because it’s so graphic (it’s not), but because it shows everyday people in India and China admitting to killing their newborn daughters in what is known as gendercide, “the culturally-based killing of a child (overwhelmingly female) on the basis of sex.” It is estimated that as many as 200 million girls are “missing” from the world’s population--whether killded, aborted or abandoned--due to gendercide.

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Do Capitalism and Christianity Fit Together? Let's Just Say It's Complicated

I like doing more than having.  Anti-consumerism just seems right to me. To be a lover of God and humanity more than a lover of things, to be a Christ follower who chooses abstracts like love and peace over crass commercial objects--this world view feels, to me, like a soft blanket I just discovered in my closet. On most days Henry David Thoreau feels legit. 

But my house is full of those same crass objects I claim to dislike. I bought a new messenger bag the other day when I already have two, and I was certain that the made-in-China wooden bird I bought for my kitchen table would make my house feel, you know, more bohemian. The capitalists who have custom-built their jacked-up mansions along the bluffs outside my city have also bankrolled dozens of charities and helped pay my salary as a public school teacher. In short, the paradoxes of capitalism are keeping me up at night, especially in an election year. To make things worse, most of the Christians I know don't see the paradoxes at all. 

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Why Christians and Politics have a hard time

When your heart and soul belong to a kingdom-oriented system rather than a world-oriented one, things get tough.

Especially around election season.

The early Christians weren’t willing to concede that Caesar was God or even “god-like”. They fed the poor when others wouldn’t. They viewed people as more than “shadow” as was the prevalent worldview fed on by the masses from Grecian philosophers.

In today’s political climate, there’s a lot of demagoguery. People pander to whichever group they’re speaking to and truth becomes hard to separate from fiction.

I’m under no illusions. I don’t equate Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or Independents as Christian. I expect the lost to behave as lost people. My base of expectation is that “all have sinned” and are fallen. So the notion of “trickle down” tends to sink in the wake of sinfulness. It’s just easier to buy a jet ski than it is to give money to the poor. At the same time, those who are interested in creating systems to capture people tend to believe that people need capturing. And yet the Christian believes in the freedom of personal choice. God allowed us to choose Him even as He pursued us.

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