Good, Perfect, Pleasing Non-Balance

Two kids were arguing over cookies. The third was at gymnastics. Her bag was sprawled out on the floor. Husband just completed his masters. She is getting ready to enter into a new community project. This young neighbor, leader and friend said, “I can pick your brain…How do you balance it?”


Before meeting her at the coffee shop, I had led a Bible study on the end of Romans 11 — “Everything is from God, through God, for God and to His glory.” It’s all His. That is the calibration of the “life scale.” All His — from, though, for and to.

We talked for a bit and I threw out a few quips about how our family has tried to balance three decades in ministry, schools, sports, vacations, lawns and life on the Rutledge.

I ordered my coffee and headed to my continuing study of Romans. Romans 12 starts, “Therefore…” In other words, “Now that you understand, know, comprehend what was just shared, here is the next step…”

With all that was said at the end of verse 11, we now have the opportunity “by God’s mercy, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.”

As I read, I’m reflecting back to my simple discussion of balance. Again to properly calibrate the scale, it’s “All His” on one side and “Living Sacrifice” on the other.

With this targeted reality, where do we even get the concept of a balanced life? We get that picture from everyone else. “We could move out to the country so I can have horses.” “I cannot engage with my neighbor.” “Avoid the inner promptings to love or care because it might be awkward.” In other words, “conform to the pattern of this world”… the second verse of Romans 12.

So “How do you?” It starts at the end of Romans 12.2. It starts by knowing “His good, pleasing and perfect will.” The will of God may be complicated but there are a few priorities that can help us find balance in life. The famous NFL football coach, Vince Lombardi, would speak of God, family and football. He would tell his players that they are to love God, care for their family and “Give everything else to the Green Bay Packers.”

It’s not only clear from Vince. The Bible also make it clear that the base to a balance life is your relationship with God. It’s the foundation. You start to discover balance by having a regular relationship with your Creator.

StemsThe Bible’s greatest commandment says that you are to love God and love people. “People” starts with your family and your family starts with your marriage. Today, Vince would have said, “God, Marriage, Family, and Football.” If you are married, your primary earthly relationship is your spouse. Many, many people get out of balance because they lose this priority. They will blame “needy kids” or a “busy schedule” but the reality is they’ve lost this primary focus.

Then your kids. Young kids won’t fall out of priority because they cry or get into trouble. Older kids will quietly fade out of priority and into everything else.

With God, marriage and family properly prioritized, you can totally give everything else to your calling and community (note that I say “calling and community.” I believe that wherever you are is where you are called. It really doesn’t matter where you are or why you are there, you are there for a reason.)

So, balance? I am not sure it is the right question. There may be periods of balance, yes. For the most part, though, life in Christ is laying your life down for others.

That is not balanced, but if you have your priorities right, you will find it “good, perfect and pleasing.”


Rohingya Visit and Report

Rohingya refugee camp.
Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.

“It’s impossible—and that is why we are there.”

This is the conclusion by World Concern President, Jacinta Tegman, after her visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh last month.
Jacinta and a team of World Concern staff visited the Rohingya in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh. Upon her return, she gave our Seattle-based team first-hand reports about the world’s largest refugee crisis. This report is fresh and from the front lines.
There are more than one million people currently seeking refuge in Bangladesh from abuse and persecution in Myanmar. It is believed that over two-thirds of those people are under the age of 18.  As adults and parents have either sent their kids to safety or simply did not arrive safely themselves through the difficulty and abuse of the migration.
In many American cities, we have small “tent cities” sitting under bridges or city forests. These areas house a couple dozen people. “Imagine the kind of enclaves we see in Seattle, but one that houses one million people,” Jacinta said. “That is what it is like (in Cox’s Bazaar).”
The main “street” between these shanties is maybe six or seven feet wide. The small shelters, made of anything people can get their hands on, are nearly touching at the overhangs. If one falls, many fall. If one burns, many burn.
Sewers literally overflow. They aren’t large enough, deep enough or distant enough from the clean water wells. Dirty water runs down the middle of that six-feet wide “main street.”
Nearby forests have been stripped of timber to provide much of the structure for these shanties, which now exist on those bare hillsides. The monsoon season is coming and the rains will most likely bring these hills down.
These are the physical realities. There is also psychosocial trauma. Nearly everyone has seen a family member die. Some have lost their entire family. Many of the kids no longer have parents. Educated, capable people have nothing to do. The current existence is physically, emotionally and socially terrible.
Jacinta told one story of a 20-year old woman, who looked 14 (see picture below). She had lost her whole family. She tried to tell her story but it just came out as tears. Jacinta took her in her arms and caressed her hair. This young girl had many needs but in that moment, she needed someone to love her.
Our limited staff are working to not only love on the Rohingya, they are also working to provide. Working in partnership with other agencies, it is a full-time work of food, sanitation, medicine, etc. We work closely with the Bangladesh government who has strict directives on service. The government is proud and expects agencies to provide excellence. We are honored to be present in Bangladesh whereas other agencies have not been welcomed or even sent home.
You may not have even heard about the issues in Bangladesh. Go back and look at previous “Life on the Rutledge” emails. We have included links to a few of the powerful and heartbreaking stories. The truth is, as Nick Archer, Vice President of World Concern said, “This refugee crisis is the most under-reported crisis in the world.”
It’s impossible work, but we serve a God that loves “impossible” tasks. Please join us in prayer. Specifically for:
  • The Bangladesh governmental leaders
  • The Christians in the country (about .3%–yes one-third of one percent) whom are “direly needed” to be salt and light to the Rohingya people
  • The angry youth—can you imagine what 600,000 kids are going through, many of which have seen their parents killed or their family members die in route to Bangladesh?
  • God to continue to move
  • The governments of the world would provide program funding. World Concern needs $1 million per year for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for joining us in prayer and linking hearts with these people.
This article was originally published in the “Life on the Rutledge” enewsletter.  To subscribe, click here.

Middle East Meeting

Middle East TrainingYesterday we received a field report from the Middle East. Our Community and Public Health Tech Specialist, who is purposefully remaining nameless, just returned from extended time in the region.
In the Middle East, specifically Yemen, World Concern is in the business of capacity building. Few NGO’s are able to get into the country.  Since we are present, we provide our expertise to a number of local agencies on the ground. Our focus is on ensuring that the work is done right, specifically around WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).
Airports are frequently shut down. Little aid is coming through the ports.  Neighboring countries have created blockades.  World Concern is delivering aid through these constraints.
Yesterday, Chris Sheach, World Concern’s Director of Disaster Relief, shared, “This situation is much more complicated than we think, but we are called to give them love.”
This article is from the “Life on the Rutledge” enewsletter.  You can subscribe by clicking here.