TLW Aconcagua: Donate, Give Water, Accumulate Experiences

I know that you’ve heard of the many needs around the world of those in poverty and those without clean drinking water (more stories). Is the problem too big for you to solve? Yes! But, can you solve it for just a few (starfish story), or maybe all of Liberia? Yes!

I am partnering with The Last Well (TLW) to provide safe, affordable drinking water to the entire nation of Liberia and preach the Message of Jesus Christ to those we serve (TLW Vision). I ask you to support me in changing the lives of hundreds of Liberians by donating to the cause.

Aconcagua Expedition: I will be climbing Cerro Aconcagua (Argentina), the highest peak in South America (22,841′ -the highest peak in the world outside the Himalayas), January 2011. This team has a fundraising goal of $5000/person toward providing water to Liberia by drilling or repairing wells. All costs of climbing the mountain are paid by the climbers (your support isn’t paying for our adrenaline highs or perils).

Engaging in something bigger than yourself: I recognize that going on an expedition like this isn’t for everyone, but we can all agree that having clean, affordable drinking water is. Why is this my current passion?

  1. Dream dreams destined to fail without divine intervention: Providing clean affordable water to all of Liberia isn’t something that I can myself, it’s not something this team can do, and it’s not something that our organization or church can do. This dream is something that can only be done if God is involved – What other type of dream would you want to be pursuing?
  2. Criticize by creating: Rather than criticize the big companies, massive charities or governments to solve Liberia’s clean water issues, I will point the finger at myself and ask, “What am I doing to leave a lasting impact on lives I can impact?”
  3. Accumulate experiences: There are many worthy causes, but for me this one provides an experience of a lifetime – with many stories to share and challenges to overcome. Aconcagua is an experience that will test my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual character.
  4. Share your best: Think of a time when you were excited about a deal you got, a song you heard, or a hilarious joke. What’s the first thing you wanted to do? Of course, share it with your friends and those around you.
    In the same way, I believe the best thing we can share is gospel of Jesus Christ. I can’t think of anything more exciting, more valuable or more appropriate. That’s why every community that receives clean water from your support will hear the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Something rather than nothing: You and I are fortunate to not have been born in these destitute regions of the world, but that doesn’t mean we should fortunately ignore or forget those who are. It’s not fair that we have so much, which compels me to ask myself, “Is it true that when we choose not to help the poor, needy and thirsty that I’m actually robbing them?” We’re all in this together.

My Father – Deserving of Honor and Respect

Dick Lund 2009Every so often we’re hit with these moments where greatness is displayed. The thing is, greatness doesn’t show up in the midst of bright lights, crowds or power. I immediately think of our Lord Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane where he prays “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” It’s in Christ’s humility that greatness is revealed.

Christ’s dedication, love, humility and sacrifice are so clearly depicted that we respond with respect and honor. I want to share another similar moment witnessed with my own father demonstrating greatness.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer after 36 years of marriage to my father. During this highly taxing time, my parents were going to take a week’s vacation in the mountains of Virginia. However, my mom’s health took a tragic turn for the worse when she became very ill due to the compounded effects of the chemotherapy. Through this time, my dad would spend all day each day in the hospital with her while she was too weak to eat, move around, and even talk.

My dad and I drove home late one evening while leaving the nightly care of my mom (his wife) to the nurses. My dad was very drained and frustrated because there was nothing he could do about the situation except wait and hope. Of course, these health issues along with the many other life stresses were wearing against him physically, emotionally and spiritually. However, it’s these times (some call it testing) that our true character shines through. I tend to think that these “tests” aren’t for God to see how true we are to him, but for us to realize that our life experiences have moved the faith of God the 18 inches from our head to our heart.

So, it’s this evening of frustration and confusion that my dad makes this profound and heartfelt plea, “I just want my wife back. I don’t know, maybe God is trying to teach me how to love my wife better.

These are the words of greatness – words of a man filled with love and humility, but dedicated to sacrifice (similar to our Lord). It’s these moments that solidify what I’ve seen continually my whole life – a man of integrity, dedication, and relentless sacrifice.

As I reflect on those people who I look to as heroes, my dad is right there. There are a lot of weak men – losers – who live for themselves and aren’t worthy of any respect (no matter how successful they may be professionally), but then there are men like my dad who carry forth the torch of goodness in this world through pain and uncertainty. These are the men deserving of honor and respect. These are the men that the rest of us can admire, be proud of and model our character after.

Dad – you are a man deserving of much respect and honor. You continue to set a profound example of worthy character for me to follow. Thank you for being a hero and role model who stands far above many other fathers I’ve seen. I am truly blessed.

Celebrating Mom's Strength

I think te are a lot of things that we don’t share with each other for some reason or another. I hope that I don’t continually miss the opportunity to share. I believe that one of the tactics of Evil is to keep us isolated where we believe lies such as “they won’t understand” or “nobody really cares or knows me.” Community is radically healing and empowering for joy!

So, I admire my mom (not just today) for allowing her friends and family to be with her as she fought the good fight this past year. She continues to bring joy and blessing into our lives just as before. I was asked yesterday of one of the good memories of my mom and the first thing that came to mind was this:

When I was in grade school, my mom would come into my brother’s and my room (with me on the top bunk) to wake us up for school. But, she would take the time to make it fun. She had these little hand puppets that were such an expression of her being – fun and loving. She would poke at us for a bit and then have them talk to us in funny voices and they would sneak around when I rolled over as if these little animals wanted to play. I also distinctly remember many times waking up before she came in, but pretending I was sleeping hoping that it would be a morning of the little hand puppets.

So, I wanted to take this as an opportunity to share a bit more about my mom and consolidate some of the notes, activities and details of this past year for me, my family and friends.

  • My mom’s breast cancer blog that she updated throughout the journey (registration required, but free): http://www.carepages.com/carepages/strongtower
  • Pictures of a party celebrating the last chemo treatment: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2317991&id=1508003
  • Excerpt from my dad’s take on the journey (75MB): Dick’s Celebrating Strength Speech
  • My first publication about how I was dealing with it (not long after the news): http://www.jason1365.com/2009/05/03/i-trust-you-audioblog/
  • Finally, more than anything, my friend Abby absolutely was/is an angel. She jumped in as soon as she found out and called my mom frequently (having never met her before or anything); she sent flowers and packages to my mom with all the items that would make her day; she drove down to the farm to work and support my mom; she made a scrapbook for my mom; she reminded me about how to support my mom and she eased my own fears. I cannot say enough good things about her; she is probably the sweetest girl I know. She is a nurse and helps run Georgetown’s ICU. Finally, she has battled breast cancer twice and knows the difficult journey well. I don’t know how our family would have dealt with this without her. Was it divine intervention that I met her a few months before my mom was diagnosed? Or just coincidence?

Strongtower / Celebrating Strength Scrapbook

Continue reading Celebrating Mom's Strength

Dream Session – April 2010

When was the last time you daydreamed? Have you dreamed about life goals, ambitions and the full life?
Let’s dream dreams that are destined to fail without divine intervention.
Some of us have dreams that we never talk about or pursue. Some of us share the same dream and would go for it, if only there was somebody to go with us.

The Guidance/Input

  1. Guiding Deck: Dream Session 2010-04-24
  2. Book Highlights: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
  3. Men for Marriage (for men only)
  4. Living a Good Story, an Alternative to New Years Resolutions
  5. Let Story Guide You [MP3 Excerpt (2MB)]
  6. Facing the Giants [YouTube, MP4 (13MB)]
  7. The Best Motivation Video [YouTube, MP4 (3MB)]
  8. Lecrae – Go Hard [YouTube, MP4 (9MB)]
  9. Disney Pixar Up! – Married Life, Carl & Ellie [YouTube, MP4 (66MB)]
  10. Randy Pausch – Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams [YouTube, FLV (229MB)]

In Action

Results

We each leave the time with a list of goals, dreams, ambitions and new friends. We realize that wanting to have lived a good life requires intention throughout. We have looked at each other’s goals and have figured out ways to take the next step for each other. We are connecting our friends with other friends and colleagues; we are affirming dreams; we are coming alongside our new friends to pursue the same dreams – together!

Next next step is accountability. We’ll need to make sure that we all take the time to move on the next step:

  • Develop the plan
  • Call the friend, relative or connection
  • Do the research and move in the direction we know to be right

There seems to be some demand for another one of these sessions from some friends who weren’t able to attend. We’ll see what happens – who wants to spearhead the next one? Follow your dreams and make simple things like this happen!

Valentines 2010: Live boldly. Love boldly.

Live boldly. Love boldly.

A great idea, but how exactly do we do this?

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner — Do we cringe at the thought of sappy declarations of love, pink teddy bears and over-priced flowers? Or do we consider that this may be a prime opportunity to bring truth, love, forgiveness and joy into the relationships we have with those around us, particularly our immediate family? Sometimes we may find it is easier to reach out to strangers rather than to those who share our very own DNA. But, consider this…

  • What if we loved out loud?
  • What if we took a leap of faith and put ourselves out there?
  • What if we reached out… first?

You are invited to do exactly that — love a family member out-loud this Valentine’s Day. Set a goal to connect– or re-connect — with a parent or immediate family member on a day that is ripe for meaningful expressions of love. Be intentional and take the time to convey a sincere, concise heartfelt message to a parent, parents, or other immediate family member. Humble yourself, give or ask for forgiveness, share how they have impacted you. By making a simple, deliberate and direct effort, you have the potential to impact the future trajectory of your relationship. Don’t underestimate the power of your words — for better or for worse — and make a commitment to share your love openly.

Of course, loving boldly can be scary – examples, stories, motivation and resources are attached.

  • Valentines 2010 Details: The specific details, an approach, a framework, tangible ideas and resources to further facilitate your move to live and love boldly your immediate family. Intrigued? This is where to start.
  • : Transformed her relationship with her mom after asking herself, “Do I wish I knew my mom better?”
  • Integrity – The Journey by Jason: Communicated to his father the message which had never been clearly told, “You ARE an amazing, loving, sacrificing, compassionate, and noble father’ to his father.”
  • Daring to Love by Andrea: Persevered through heartache with tangible direction to begin the journey to a revitalized relationship with her farther.

Those who accept the challenge, let’s celebrate your admirable act of love on Feb. 19, 2010.
RSVP and details: http://www.pingg.com/rsvp/3g8wny38zx37w6jwc

Everything is more fun with friends – pass this on to your friends so that they are reminded to convey a sincere, concise heartfelt message to a parent, parents or other immediate family member.

For me, ultimately, this motivation comes only because of Christ’s outpouring of love for me. I am compelled to express, only in a small way, what Jesus has given me and offers to you – a life of fullness and joy.

I’m always available and my door is always open, if you ever need anything. Many blessings!

I consider it an extreme honor

Haiti has been hit with an earthquake which has brought massive devastation on the already incredibly poor country. With untold numbers of causalities and dead bodies lining the streets, the people and country are in deep need. I am so very impressed with the compassion of the world to come alongside the country which is hopeless without this undeserved grace. Haiti doesn’t have anything to offer the other countries of the world neither before this disaster and even less-so afterwards.

Not surprisingly, I’d love to go over there and help in whatever capacity I can. I have been blessed by so many others that I am compelled to do the same (not from a sense obligation or guilt) because love begets love. As I think of this idea of sacrifice, love and faith in light of what I’m currently studying (the Gospel of John) – other ideas begin to connect.

My Hope and Salvation (Jesus Christ) humbled himself as the Creator to become the created. He was deity who chose (for no good reason) to come as the most ordinary to relate to his beloved (all of us). Jesus said of his faithful forerunner, “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt 11:11). John fearlessly lived out his faith by fulfilling his calling – to proclaim repentance and the coming savior of the world, Jesus the Christ. His public calling for repentance angered the powerful – religious, noble and military – which led to his martyrdom only a little more than year after he began. Jesus faithfully obeyed God the Father for three years before humankind rejected his message and demanded a gruesome torture and death because his message was so contrary to our natural selfishness.

I thought of these ideas as I’m running up the final hill to my house the other morning. And, I asked myself, “If I go to Haiti, what opposition would I run into?” Most notably, I believe that my physical safety could be jeopardized and that well-meaning and caring people would advise against such an endeavor. Then, this verse (Phil 3:8) finally made sense (going from head to heart) – “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

For me, there are many things I want to believe and then there are the times when I realize that I actually do truly believe them. The ‘rubber meets the road’ (when life gets difficult and tragedies hit my relational life, financial situations and family members) is where the training is proven. So, that morning I honestly said to myself and God, “I consider it an extreme honor to die in the name of Christ (for I am entirely unworthy), if I can live out God’s call for my life even one day.”

Profound Leadership – Jesus Christ

Jesus, as a leader, continually served those around him with complete humility.How profound is it that Jesus did not exalt or praise himself nor did he seek the approval and praise of others.As I choose to learn about leadership characteristics of Jesus’ life, I see a man who had every right to correct, condemn, expect praise, etc.However, Jesus met and accepted people exactly for who they were and revealed God to each of them.Jesus’ patience and love for each person is so out-of-this-world.”The woman at the well” story shows Jesus (1) intentionally taking himself out of the position of piety, (2) patiently revealing life-giving truth, and (3) persisting in love even though the woman attempts to deflect the conversation away from her personal life of sin.

For me, it’s hard to see a leader as somebody like Jesus.I guess, I’m used to thinking of a leader as more of a powerful manager.So, if I attempt to think of myself as a leader, I feel that it’s my responsibility to instill some sort of conformity of what is right across the board.However, Andy Stanley states that the manager “manages to sameness” while the leader “leads into chaos” (Catalyst OneDay 2009). The disparity is apparent when I examine my actions and my convictions and conclude that they are not in concert. I strongly ascribe to beliefs that diversity is to be cherished and no two situations are the same and cannot be solved with the same approach.Moreover, I am drawn to this believe so much because it requires continual dependence upon the Creator for direction as well as consistent submission that my own ideas are lame and entirely insufficient.However, my actions dispel a counter message – one of conformity, performance and fear.

What is a leader then?How does that play about?What does that mean for me?Today, I see that I need to embrace the following leadership characteristics:

  • The leader serves: I must look to serve those whom God calls me to lead
  • The leader is a cheerleader: I must celebrate the good (rather than condemning the bad)
  • The leader does not change others: I must continually follow and point to Christ
  • The leader is authentic: I must seek God’s revelation into my own heart and motives and His strength and wisdom to walk in faith

To conclude, “That is wonderful and inspiring.What happens next – if anything?”Rather than answer that question myself, I seek your response.Enjoy the goodness!

Finally, I reflect on the influence of Jesus Christ:

Nearly two thousand years ago in an obscure village, a child was born of a peasant woman. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life.

His greatness has never been paralleled. He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries of the country could not hold the books that have been written about Him. He never wrote a song, and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs that all the songwriters combined. He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students. Every seventh day the wheels of commerce cease their turning and multitudes wind their way to worshiping assemblies to pay homage and respect to Him. The names of the past proud statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone. The names of the past scientists, philosophers, and theologians have come and gone, but the name of this man abounds more and more.