Today Only Comes Once

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

As I worked out in my basement one morning last week, something in the periphery caught my eye. It was not out of place, but the bright pink and blue color snapped me out of my exercise routine for a second. Looking to my right, there they were, two small scooters–one blue, and one hot pink. The pink one slightly taller than the blue one, just like their riders, my daughter and son. With two kids below the age of five, toys in my basement are a normal sight. However, for some reason that morning it was as if I had never seen them before.

As I took in the sight of these two wheeled contraptions of plastic and metal, my mind suddenly jumped forward twenty years. Instead of a two and four year old riding the scooters, I pictured two adults standing next to them remembering what it was like to traverse around our unfinished basement. They were still my children, just no longer carefree kids, unencumbered by the realities of this world. I could feel the tears forming behind my eyes. I could not compartmentalize the weight of this picture. I knew my kids would one day grow up, but it was as if I truly came to terms with it for the first time that morning.

I often swing back and forth between the desire for my kids to grow up and the impossible urge to keep them little forever. Watching my children grow and learn, slowly becoming their own person, is an incredible blessing. At the same time, it is a reminder our of own mortality and inability to rewind time. The truth is my son and daughter will only be this age once. When they are screaming, unable to provide for themselves I am thankful for this reality. However, as I think back over the moments of joy each age has brought a sense of longing wells up in my heart. That moment has past–a memory only to be relived in our minds.

It is easy get stuck here–to truly try to keep your kids from growing up, or to keep some other relationship or moment in time from changing. However, this is not only unhealthy, it is an impossibility. As hard as we try, we cannot stop time–but we can slow it down.

As I pondered those scooters and the image in my mind, I remembered the importance of savoring each moment. It is so easy to go through life living for the days to come instead of the day we are in. It is as if we are standing in a time machine, willing the future to come as quickly as possible. The problem is we miss the joys of the moment we are in. A hard as they might be, these moments have something to offer us and it is only available once. By choosing to be present, we can slow down time, taking in everything today has to give us.

This is my hope–I want to experience my kids joy as they ride on their scooters. One day, probably sooner than I realize, they will outgrow them, but I will worry about that day when it comes. Today only comes once, I want to make the most of it. I hope you will choose to do the same.

James Belt

Change Starts with an Acorn

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” – Greek Proverb

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

The Greek Proverb above is something about which I have written in the past, but means more and more to me as time passes. As I consider the process of creating change, especially in areas as challenging as poverty and racial justice, the words of this simple statement ring incredibly true. It would be easy to dismiss them as a call to complacency or to “be patient” as some said to Martin Luther King, Jr. and others fighting for change over the years. However, I believe it is quite the opposite–it is a call to world-changing action.

Consider an Oak tree. How does it start? As an acorn, one to six centimeters in length. Does this seem significant? Unless you are a squirrel or a chipmunk the answer is probably no. You do not have to walk around an acorn, or worry about hitting it with your car. Unless you are looking for it, you will more than likely miss it. An acorn, on its surface, appears to be small and insignificant. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

It is not the acorn’s current reality that makes it what it is–it is it’s potential. What happens when you plant the acorn in fertile soil and invest in it, not for what is today but for what it could become in the future? The potential inside the acorn is released, sprouting a stem that goes from being almost unnoticeable to as grand as one-hundred feet tall and four feet in diameter. What once seemed small and insignificant becomes majestic and impactful to the world around it.

Was planting the acorn an act of complacency? No, of course not! It was an act of intention to change the environment in which is was sowed. This is what I believe the words of this Proverb are meant to teach us. Often, we gravitate to “solutions” that appear to make the biggest splash in the moment without considering the longevity of their impact. We treat the symptoms without rooting out the problem. It feels good in the moment, but leaves us searching for another “silver-bullet” when the symptoms return. In contrast, “planting trees” feels rather unsatisfying in the moment, but grows into generation-altering change in time.

If you find yourself “planting acorns” wondering if it will ever make a difference, take a walk and find an oak tree. Enjoy its shade and remember where it came from. Then, go back and keep “planting trees”, not for what they look like today but for the change they will make for generations to come. What may seem small to you may grow into something great for those who come behind you.

James Belt

Don’t Be Distracted by the Clutter

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Standing in my house, staring at my kitchen table, I could feel my blood pressure rising and my vision narrowing. Why was it so cluttered? With two kids under the age of 5, clutter is a part of our life. Regularly, my wife, Jen, will clean something up during the day only to have the “toddler tornado” leave a path of destruction in their wake. Honestly, I do not know how she does it and maintains her sanity. Still, the mess on the table had me particularly bothered. Never mind the fact that the mess was at least half mine, mail I had opened and left for “filing”. It wasn’t that I was frustrated at someone for the mess. It was the stress that is created from living in disorder. Except, that it wasn’t.

When I finally broke my stare, I looked around realized the house was actually quite clean and organized (thanks for the best wife on the planet!). The clutter on the table was not my problem. My issue was my inability to see the bigger picture. Had I zoomed out, I would have realized the mess on the table was only a tiny percentage of my overall house. My limited perspective had hijacked my brain, preventing me from appreciating the size of the problem in relation to my reality.

This can be a bit comical when it comes to messes on the a kitchen table, but it is not nearly as funny when it affects our actual lives. How often do I get stuck in one spot because I fail to see the opportunities around me? How often do I allow small issues in my life to keep me from enjoying abundance of blessings that far outweigh them? How many times have I allowed frustration to prevent me from making the most of my time with my wife and kids? Maybe you can relate.

I am now thankful for that clutter on the table. It reminded me to take a step back. To stop allowing the small frustrations of life to hold my hostage and instead to open my eyes to the opportunity I have to truly live. I hope you will choose to do the same. We only get the chance to live this moment once. Don’t be distracted by the clutter.

James Belt

Living to Honor Their Lives

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Over the past few years, I have tried to be more intentional about remembering the true significance of Memorial Day. While war can be a controversial topic, the willingness of a person to put their life in harm’s way on behalf of another is not. It is the ultimate form of love. In the words of Jesus, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” John 15:13 NIV. This is what we remember on Memorial Day–incredible acts of love on our behalf.

The significance of the these incredible sacrifices became even more real to me when I had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery with my grandfather in 2016. Walking through the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery is sobering. To know each grave stone represents the life of someone who was willing to die on my behalf puts life in perspective. That two of the gravestones bear the names of two of my grandfather’s brothers, Claude and Edger, makes it personal. While I never had the opportunity to know Claude and Edger, I live because they were willing to die.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” This is what I believe our response should be to the sacrifices of Claude, Edger, and the many others who died on our behalf. What is our responsibility? It is to live fully for those who could not, and to, like them, provide the same opportunity to others.

As I have thought about the best way to honor the life and sacrifices of someone who went before me, I have asked myself what their answer would be. How would they say I could best honor them? The conclusion I have come to is to live a full and meaningful life. Think about it. Their loss is a demonstration of how precious life really is. By choosing to live a full and meaningful life, we are recognizing the incredible opportunity we have been afforded. This is even more true when honoring the life of someone who sacrificed their life on behalf of our freedom. What better way to honor them than to fully enjoy the freedom for which they died?

Equally important, we get to provide this same opportunity–the opportunity to live fully–to others. This is what Edger and Claude did for me. Why wouldn’t I do the same for others? Honestly, I cannot think of a better way to live a full and meaningful life. This could take many different forms. For me, it is reminding others of their God-given potential through real opportunity and a reframed identity. It is believing the lie of hopelessness that perpetuates poverty can be overcome by the real power of practical and spiritual hope.

What does it look like for you? What would it mean to live fully? How could you provide the same opportunity to others? I hope you will give these questions some consideration this Memorial Day as we remember those laid down their life on our behalf.

James Belt

From Full of Problems to Full of Potential

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Do you believe you are full of potential? How do you know? How does your view of your own potential impact the way you live? I would say quite a bit. The amount of potential you ascribe to yourself will shape the way you see your future. As humans, we are masters of self-fulfilling prophesy. If we believe we are hopeless and destined for a life of “less than”, apart from divine intervention, there is a strong likelihood we will consciously or unconsciously make decisions make decisions that lead us to that end. Conversely, if we believe we are full of potential and made for something more, there is a good chance we will live a life of significance.

How about others? Do you believe other people are full of potential? As someone who is married to an amazing wife and father to two incredible kids, my answer to this question is very important. This is because, fortunately or unfortunately, we have the power to influence the way those closest to us see themselves. If I believe my wife and kids are created to live a life of meaning, I will treat them as such. The words I speak to them, the actions I take on their behalf, and the way I generally treat them will reinforce this perspective in their lives. This will aid them in turning their potential into a reality. The opposite is true as well–if I see them as lacking potential, I will knowingly or unknowingly treat them accordingly, potentially impeding their progress.

How about the man or woman holding a sign at your local intersection? What about the person living in an impoverished neighborhood in the nearby city? The person growing up in poverty in a developing nation? What do you believe about their potential? What judgements do you make about what they could make of their lives? I have certainly been guilty of assuming certain people in society and our world are hopeless at times. If we are honest, I think we have all had those moments. What if we changed our perspective?

What if we began to see the person living in the midst of hopelessness as full of hope and potential? Might it change the way we treat them? Might it open up opportunities for people to write a new story?

Beginning to see people living in poverty as equal creations of God, full of potential but needing a opportunity to exercise it, will change the way we treat them. It also has the potential to change the way they view themselves. Think about it, if someone else believes in you, how much more likely are you to believe in yourself?

It is time we go from seeing the world and the people in it as full of problems to full of potential. It could potentially change the world.

James Belt

Living Water for Today

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

Does spiritual hope make a difference in a person’s life today? Can it change a person’s view of themselves? A formerly hopeless woman who had a life changing encounter at a well would say yes.

She was an outcast, even among her fellow outcasts. As a Samaritan, she was born on the “wrong side of the tracks”, seen as unworthy of association by the Jewish people. As a woman who had been married five times and was now living with a man out of wedlock, she was even rejected by her people, the Samaritans. This had become her identity. Wanting to avoid the glares of others, she went to fetch water from the well during the hottest hours of the day as she knew she would be alone. “Better to endure the sweltering heat than be reminded how little her life mattered”, she thought. She seemed to be doomed to a life of “less than”.

Getting closer to the well, she noticed someone else was unexpectedly there. Her plan had not worked. Even worse, it was a Jewish man. “Why would a Jewish man be at a Samaritan well in the middle of the day,” she pondered as anxiety began to set in. She would just try to avoid eye contact and make it a quick trip. “He will want to stay as far away from me as he can anyway”, she reasoned. Except she was mistaken.

“Will you give me a drink?”, he said.

“Realizing she had nowhere to hide, she replied, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir”, the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”[1]

 The surprise interaction goes on. Jesus goes on to tell her he knows her story. He knows her life circumstances had become her identity. She saw no way out and believed the lie that she was hopeless and why wouldn’t she? Society said she was hopeless. Her reality looked hopeless. Why would she believe anything could ever change? However, Jesus did not leave her there.

After making clear he knew her story and current reality, Jesus painted a picture of a reframed identity. At the end of this fateful conversation, she said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

The Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”[2]

Do you see it? A woman who believed she was forgotten and unseen by God at best, and cursed at worst had an encounter that showed her otherwise. If the Messiah, the Savior sent by God in her faith tradition, would choose to step into her world to offer her new life, how could she not see herself differently? In “living water” Jesus offered a spiritual hope that changed a woman stuck in hopelessness into a beacon of hope for her community.

How do we know? Later in the recounting of the story, we are told she, who previously avoided everyone, went back to her town to tell them about this Jesus and what he said. The change in her must have made an impression as many of these Samaritan ”outcasts” grabbed onto the same spiritual hope.

Spiritual hope connects a person with their true, God-given identity. Changing the way you see yourself, changes the way you see the future. Changing the way you see the future can change the way you live today.

It did for this Samaritan woman and it can for you and me.

James Belt

[1] John 4:7-15

[2] John 4:25-26

Revisiting Why Into the River?

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

As I considered what to share today, I thought it might be interesting to revisit a post from the past. The post below was originally written a month or two into my time living in Nicaragua. If you ever why I chose the name “Into the River” for this blog this post is for you. Enjoy it!

If you have taken the time to check out this blog (thank you!), you may be wondering why I titled it “Into the River”. Being that I think that is a fair question, I thought it would be equally fair for me to share the answer with you. So here we go…

When you here the phrase “into the river”, there are more than likely a lot of things that come to your mind. Whether it is a childhood memory of jumping into a river on a hot summer day or throwing rocks in the river and watching the ripples, there is much fun to be had at a river. Maybe you think of launching a canoe or a fishing boat for life’s next big adventure or just relaxing by cool, waters contemplating life. Much of this comes to my mind as well when I hear those three words, but it was something very different that lead me to this name. One day as I was reading the Bible, I came along a story in the book of Joshua. Like many stories in this part of the Old Testament, it was about the Israelites’ journey into the Promised Land. Specifically, it is the story in Chapter 3 of the Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan River. As you may remember, Joshua tells the people to prepare themselves for God to do great things and instructs the priests to take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and pass on ahead of the people. After Joshua offers these instructions, the Lord tells Joshua to have the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant go to the edge of the Jordan River and then to go and stand in the river. Joshua communicates the Lord’s words to the Israelites and tells the priests to go into the river with the Ark of the Covenant. Picking up with Joshua 3:15 it says, “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (this is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:15-17 NIV)

This wasn’t the first time I had read this story, but it was the first time I realized the challenge and opportunity presented to the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant. You see, I think it is easy to read this story and think about how awesome it is that God stopped the river from flowing, but miss the “step of faith” these priests were asked to take. Certainly God had promised through Joshua to stop the river as soon as their feet touched the water, but I can only imagine the myriad of thoughts that were probably going through their heads as they approached the Jordan. If you journey back in the Old Testament, you will read that people died just by touching the Ark of the Covenant. These priests were being asked to walk into a river bed, with the river flowing (prior to them stepping in) none the less. If you have ever walked into a river bed, you know it can be treacherous. The Ark of the Covenant was created based on God’s request and carried the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. What if the Ark of the Covenant was swept away by the river? It said the Jordan River was at flood stage. What if it doesn’t stop flowing and the priests are drowned? The challenge presented was great and it is easy to understand why someone might say “thanks, but no thanks”.

However, so was the opportunity? What if God is faithful and stops the Jordan River? The priests had an incredible chance to be a part of God’s amazing plan. As we know, that is exactly what happened. The priests came to the river, trusted God, stepped and the river stopped flowing. Not only that, but they were able to stand in the middle of the river until all of the Israelites had crossed over. Do you think their lives were different because of this experience? What if one of the priests “called out sick” that day and didn’t take the opportunity to be a part of God’s work? Do you think he would be asking “what if?” for the rest of his life? We will never know the answer to these questions for sure, but this I do know, those priests chose life. Despite what looked to be an impossible challenge, one that some might call crazy, the priests decided that God was big enough and the chance to be used by Him was worth the risk. By walking into the Jordan River and risking everything, they found life and, I would think, were different for it.

I believe God gives us the same challenge and opportunity. We are standing on the edge of what looks like a raging river wondering how stepping in could possibly be a part of the plan. We too have a choice. Step into the river and experience life to the full or wait on the bank and ask “what if” for the rest of our lives. As I have grown in Christ, I have come to realize that real life is found in the river. Even when it looks a little crazy, following God’s call on our lives presents us with the opportunity to see God work in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Will it be hard? Yes. Maybe even a little scary? More than likely. But when you step into the river, I believe that you will find that it is worth the risk and exactly where you are meant to be. So this blog is my challenge to you. Will you step into the river or miss your chance to be a part of advancing God’s Kingdom? The choice is yours.

What river might God be asking you to step into today?

As I mentioned last week, I had a neat opportunity to “step into the river” last week with a group of guys from Northern Virginia and Virginia Beach. Monday of last week, we loaded up three four wheel drive trucks with supplies and gear, and headed to Albellanas, a small rural village in Nicaragua. With the exception of Roger, who grew up in Albellanas before moving to Managua and eventually the United States, and a couple of the guys who had been there before, none of us knew what to expect. As usually is the case with “getting into the river”, God did more than we could ever imagine. Albellanas is a very remote and poor village with no access to running water or electricity. It is also a very challenging place in which to go due to the condition of the 8 kilometer road/path from the main road to the village. In fact, it took us well over an hour to travel there in vehicles equipped for the conditions. Upon arriving at the village, we had many opportunities to share meals and life with the people of Albellanas. Over the course of the two days we were there, we did build a structure for an outhouse, leave material for other outhouses, fix electrical issues and play games with the kids, but the real joy of the trip was the life change we saw. From getting to pray with a few of Roger’s family members who came to know the Lord to seeing twenty-two people give their lives to Christ after the Jesus film, the way we saw God move will impact us for the rest of our lives.

I will share more about the trip and what I feel God revealed to me while I was there next week.

Have a great week and get into the river!

– James Belt

Thoughts from a Control Freak

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Hi, my name is James, and I am a control freak. It is not so much that I need to be in control of every moment of my life but rather that I need to be in control of the outcomes. How about you? Do you ever find yourself trying to will an outcome into existence? Controlling outcomes sounds great except for one tiny problem–it’s impossible.

For example, have you ever grown a garden? I have. You can carefully prepare the soil, plant the seeds or plants just perfectly, water them regularly, and keep the weeds under control, but you cannot will the tomatoes into existence. No matter how hard you try, the outcome is not in your control. No matter how much you want it, all you can do is wait and see if those little red tomatoes emerge. More than once, I can remember doing everything “right” only to see my vegetable plant inexplicably wilt away.

Where does this leave us self-professed control freaks? As I have wrestled with my desire to control something uncontrollable it has led me to one place–surrender. Not the “sit on the couch and hope for the best” kind of surrender but rather the “understanding my role” kind of surrender. In other words, I have my part and God has his part.

My part is to put myself in a position to be successful. It is the tilling, planting, and watering part of the vegetable gardening process. It might mean making a step in a certain direction. It might mean making a phone call. It might mean spending the extra time to make sure something is the best it can be. Surrendering in this case does not mean deciding it is just not meant to be. Instead, it means finding peace in the reality that you did all you could do to make it happen.

God’s part is to make it grow. Once you have put the plant in the ground and given it the best care possible, the amount of fruit that is produced is in God’s hands. This sounds great in theory, but is hard in practice. However, does my struggle with it make it any less true? No, of course not. No matter how much I want to control outcomes, the truth is still the truth. Coming to terms with this reality is hard, but it is made easier by my understanding of who it is I am trusting with the outcomes.

Easter provides us with a beautiful picture of why we can trust the God who created us. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he wrote, “You see, at just the write time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) If God loves me enough to send Jesus to die for me, why wouldn’t I be able to trust him with the outcomes in my life?

My prayer this Easter is to live fully into this surrendered life. I hope you will join me on this journey!

James Belt

I Care Too Much about What You Think

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

I have a problem. Truth be told, I have many problems, but that probably comes as no surprise to you. In the midst of my many issues, one stands out above the rest at the moment–I care way too much about what you think.

I know, this is probably a strange admission for a blog post given the point of writing a blog is for other people to read it. Isn’t that kind of the point? To have other people like what you write. To some degree, sure. However, I care way too much about whether or not you like it. Whether or not some likes what I write or say holds way too much power over me if I am honest. If I am completely honest, it is because I care way too much about whether or not you, or anyone else, likes me. Do they see me as likeable? Do they think I matter? Do they want to be my friend? Do they see me as valuable?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. The truth is relationships are important. I do not think it is a great idea to make it our goal to have everyone dislike us. Ultimately, it is a really a question of how much weight the opinions of others holds in our lives. In my case, the answer is way too much. I sometimes find myself valuing someone’s opinion of me more than the degree to which I am true to myself and my beliefs. While this might produce some short-term joy it leads to long-term emptiness.

Why is this such a big deal? It’s not, I guess, if you are fine with living a less than full life. You see, I have come to realize living for the opinion and pleasure of others leads to a life of captivity. Instead of being free to fully be the person I was created to be, I mute myself at best or pretend to be someone else at worst, all in the service of being liked by others. In doing so, I give the keys to my life over to the people whose opinions matters the most to me. Ironically, in most cases these people have no desire to hold me captive to their opinions, putting unfair expectations on them. I have quite literally put the handcuffs on myself.

This is not the life for which we were designed. We were created for freedom.

How do we get there? For me it starts with changing the object of my affection and my formula for achieving a full life. Proverbs, the book of the Bible referred to as the “Book of Wisdom” says, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (Proverbs 29:25 MSG) We care about the opinions of others because that is the way we were designed. The problem is we put the wrong opinions in the position of power. We were only designed to live for the opinion of One–the God who Created us and desires the best for us. When we make his opinion of us the object of our affection, we begin to see the full life for which we were created.

This leads to a change in perspective on the formula for a full life. A full life is a life full of freedom. A life full of freedom means fully being the person God created you to be. The challenge is living this way stands juxtaposed to living for the opinions of others. If we are true to the person God created us to be it is almost certain to run contrary to the opinions of someone in our life. This means elevating a life of freedom and congruency above a life of being loved by others. It means choosing to be loved for who you truly are instead of who others want you to be.

This is my desire. No offense, but I want to care less about what you think and more about who I was created to be. In the end, I think we will both find ourselves more free.

James Belt

Have You Ever Believed a Lie?

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

Have you ever believed a lie? I would imagine the answer to the question is yes. If you believe the answer is no, refer back to the question. All of us who have lived more than a few days on this earth have believed a lie or two (or a hundred) over the course of our lives. I certainly have. Some of the lies we allow ourselves to believe are relatively harmless. When the scale says we have gained weight, we believe the scale must be broken, discounting the possibility that the couple of pizzas we have eaten over the last week may have more to do with it.

However, other lies we allow to take residence in our minds can have long lasting and damaging impacts on our lives. Someone tells us we will “not amount to anything” and we buy the lie. This can begin to shape the way we see ourselves and the decisions that we make. Instead of believing the future is bright, we begin to believe we have no future. Maybe the lie is more of a personal rationalization about the way you live or see the world. In a world full of information, confirmation bias is alive and well. If you want to believe something, you can find someone who agrees with you. The problem is this never forces you to confront the possibility you are believing a lie. The longer the lie lives within us, the more it begins to become a part of who we are. Eventually, it becomes difficult to discern between the lie and the truth, even when we want to change.

What’s the solution? Replacing the lie with the truth. For example, hopelessness. I used to believe people and places could be hopeless. After spending many years combating and trying to understand poverty, I have come to realize hopelessness is just a lie. People are only as hopeless to the degree to which they and, in some cases, others believe they are hopeless. The truth is there is hope for people trapped in apparent hopelessness and it starts with eradicating the lie by infusing the truth–you were created on purpose and with a purpose by a God who desires for you to thrive. A change in perspective matched with an opportunity to maximize one’s potential can change a life.

Overcoming the lies I believe has been an incredibly important and ongoing process for me. What has made the biggest difference in my life is leaning into the ultimate source of truth–the God who created me. The more I discover and eradicate lies in my life the fuller my life becomes. It has not been an easy process and I am far from a finished product, but the end result is worth it. I want to live a life connected to truth–a life without regret or the need to hide. A life full of love and hope. This starts with asking the question–Am I believing a lie?

James Belt