Is ‘Happy’ the Best You’ve Got?


Over the last few days there’s every chance you’ve been exchanging the customary greeting of “Happy New Year” with anyone who happens to cross your path. Even while you’ve been trying to grab a bargain at all the post-Christmas sales you’ve probably had complete strangers not only hurriedly scanning your discounted items from the other side of the counter, but wishing you happiness for the next twelve months. But is happiness what it’s really all about?

Of course I want to wish you a happy new year but I don’t want it to end there. I want more for you than happiness as you launch into 2014.

Happiness comes and goes and we all know that you’re not going to sail through 2014 with a smile on your face the whole time. There will be struggles and disappointments. I’m not wishing you difficulties but I’ve been on this planet long enough to know that each year will bring a mixture of good and bad. Sometimes there’ll also be extreme highs and devastating lows. With that in mind my wish for you goes deeper.

I wish you joy for 2014.

Joy is different than happiness. It’s more. It’s not so dependent on circumstances. There’s a strength in joy that goes beyond the happy times. It’s a confidence that no matter we’re facing, we can go on.

I wish love for you in 2014.

Love means a lot of different things for a lot of different people. We’ve all been let down, even by those closest to us. That’s not the kind of love I’m talking about. The kind of love I wish for you in 2014 is a deep, abiding love that never changes, leaves or disappoints. That’s the kind of love we need during the tough days in 2014.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below, indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

I wish grace for you in 2014.

What is grace? It’s been describes as undeserved favour but there’s more to it than that.

Grace is not only God’s disposition to do good for us when we don’t deserve it. It is an actual power from God that acts and makes good things happen in us and for us.

God’s grace was God’s acting in Paul to make Paul work hard. So when Paul says, “Work out your salvation,” he adds, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Grace is power from God to do good things in us and for us. – John Piper

There are many other things I could wish for you in 2014 like hope, peace, strength and wisdom but I’d be interested to know what you’d like to wish for others as we begin a new year. Leave your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

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Not Marked


Mary DeMuth has a story to tell. It’s a story of sexual abuse and it’s a story that others need to hear. I’ve read some of that story in her upcoming release  The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You.

Mary has written Not Marked, an honest book that provides a way towards healing for abuse victims and their families.

Sexual abuse does NOT need to mark you.

It did mess with me. For far too many years. Flashbacks invaded my sleep. I startled far too easily. Sex within marriage became scary and complicated. I often wondered if I’d ever be normal. I even disconnected from those I loved the most.

The mark that sexual abuse gave me felt indelible, permanently inked with a Sharpie pen. And no matter of scrubbing erased it. (Have you ever felt this way?)

The problem was, I felt that I should be “over” it (and well-meaning people said those same things to me.) After all, I became a Christian, and I heard all those sermons about everything being made brand spanking new. I believed that when I met Jesus, all those scars and marks and fears would instantly leave.

This book has amazing potential to help those who feel they’ve been marked by sexual abuse but Mary needs help to fund the publishing of the book.

Mary needs your help now to reach her goal so that others can be be helped and healed. Please visit her indiegogo page and consider making a contribution.

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The Face of Hope


I saw the face of hope this morning.

He was standing on the island of a busy street corner in an industrial area. I was cycling past on my way to work. His work boots and his high visibility safety shirt said that he was ready for work but there wasn’t any work for him today.

The string that ran across the back of his neck suspended an old piece of board with a hand painted message asking for work and listing just a little of his work history. A handful of words told me that he had plenty of skills and a wealth of experience but I guess it’s not easy to find a job when you get past a certain age. The lines on his face and his graying hair suggested he’d reached that age.

I’ve been unemployed a couple of times but I’ve never had to stand on a street corner on a cold August morning advertising the fact. Was this a brave move or an act of desperation? Either way I admired his courage.

As I waited for the traffic to clear so that I could continue my journey something beautiful happened.

A van stopped at the lights and a hand reached out from the passenger’s window. The hand offered a business card. I wasn’t close enough to hear the few seconds of rushed conversation but I’m guessing it was about the possibility of employment. The man darted into the middle of the road, quickly grabbed the card, stuffed it into his shirt pocket, and then retreated to the safety of the island as the van drove off.

His previously emotionless face lit up. He pulled the card out of his pocket and gazed at it as if it was the photo of loved ones, family, those most cherished. His smile seemed to light up the dark winter sky. He then shoved the card back into his pocket and continued trying to grab the attention of passing motorists with his sign.

The card he was handed probably wasn’t offering the certainty of work. If it was he wouldn’t have continued to show his sign to everyone who passed. But I’d suggest there was hope in that business card, a glimmer, the possibility of something brighter ahead, and that’s all it took.

I wonder where you’ve seen hope. Have you discovered a glimmer that has helped you move into tomorrow even though you’re not sure what it holds? What has helped you find hope?

If he’s there again tomorrow I’m going to stop and find out a little bit more about his story.

I saw the face of hope this morning and it brightened a busy street corner.

Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. – Charles H. Spurgeon

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Extremes of India


How do you reconcile all the extremes of India? How do you get your mind to balance the utter hopelessness of a red light district where thousands of women, many of them minors, are trapped in a life of degradation and exploitation with the kind of hope offered by SIMaid’s Girls off the Streets project?

I love India. I love the food, the people, the sights, sounds and even some of the smells but there are many things in this wonderful country that are absolutely heartbreaking.

Just days ago I travelled with our team down a road (not the one pictured above) which is the most well known red light district in Delhi. I sat in a cycle rickshaw as we were taken past a long row of buildings. The ground floors give a sense of decency to the buildings with hardware, plumbing and paint shops lining the street. They hide the real truth.

Stairways to Hell

Between each building is a very narrow stairway. The stairways are numbered 1 to 96. Up each flight of stairs, to the left and the right, are separate brothels, each run by a different madam or pimp. Each brothel holds 5 to 20 women, though an organisation has recently said that some brothels have close to 400 women in them.

When you start to do the math, you realise that there are more than 12 000 women being prostituted in that one road. However, it is believed that it’s likely that there are many more minors hidden in walls and ceilings who are only brought out at night for certain clients.

As the rickshaw made it’s way thought the stench and filth of that road I saw women peering through metal grills, beckoning men on the other side of the street. If you didn’t look up to the floors above ground level, you might travel the entire street without knowing the misery and exploitation happening just metres away.

There is Hope

As with most things in India there is a contrast, a contrast of hope. Authorities in India, including police, are working to rescue young women who have been trafficked into prostitution. Once girls are rescued some of them can begin to find hope and healing through a home supported through SIMaid and their Girls off the Streets project.

I had the opportunity within the last few days to speak with a number of the people involved with helping these young girls. The turn around in the lives of some of these precious young ladies is nothing short of remarkable. Some would say miraculous.

There are many reasons that girls end up being trafficked for sexual exploitation, and I’ll write more about some of them at another time, but for now just be assured that when you support Girls off the Streets, your support is making a very real difference in turning young lives around. The change is real. There can be hope. There can be healing. Will you support this vital work by giving to Girls off the Streets?

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An Indian Adventure


Touchdown. I’m finally back in Delhi.

It’s been almost eight years since I was last in Delhi. It’s a city that I’ve grown to love. This is my third visit and I’m really looking forward to seeing some familiar faces as well as meeting many new friends.

I’m wondering if it will feel strange not cycling while I’m in India this time around. My last two visits were all about riding. Those visits were part of an initiative to begin Bike for Bibles in Delhi. Cycling in India is an adventure, maybe even an extreme sport. One thing that will be easier is not having to drag a bike box around the airport.

Girls off the Streets

While I’m in India this time around I’ll get to see some of the work SIMaid is doing through their Girls off the Streets project. SIMaid is working to bring hope and healing to women who have been released from forced prostitution. It’s vital work and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’re helping to restore lives.

After seeing what’s being done in Bangladesh, I’m confident that I’ll be hearing about changed lives and restored hope. I’ll also hear about the heartache that has marked so many lives. How can trust be restored when a woman has been betrayed and abandoned?

I’ll try to keep updating you with what I’m doing and experiencing but n the mean time please take a few moments to explore the Girls off the Streets website.

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