Saturday, April 27, 2013

More Than Just Living.Hope.

Define Hope.
Not easy.
The very definition of an intangible is that there is nothing there to see. How do you describe something that is not there?
How do you grasp a vapor, a promise, a dream?
How do you curve a letter around a wisp of a thought? A sparkle of a grin?
Hope truly is defined by what it isn’t.

It isn’t a stone or stair but you can climb up on it to reach unsearchable places.
It isn’t wool and leather to guard you from cold but you can weave it about to guard your heart.
It isn’t breathless joy waiting around the corner but it will dance with your expectations in delight.

Hope is a choice we make when our dreams come outside of our sleep filled eyes and wake us with insistence.
“Believe!” it says.
“Have Faith”
The possibilities of hope can bubble inside of us like uncorked champagne.

And hope can burst and fizzle to nothing if not preserved and created anew.

Often those who know defeat the least will hope the best.
Children infinitely hope that distant bells mean ice cream trucks and bright colored packages hold answered requests.

But not all children can keep hope alive. Those whose eyes have aged as they witness too much pain and defeat sometimes just can not.

There is no greater task than to resuscitate that hope and give vigor to a little one as she hopes for more.

As she hopes for enough strength to get up a from a sick bed.
As he hopes for a school uniform and a desk to sit at.
As she dreams of giving back to a grandmother who has given more than she has to give.
As he longs for a night of sleep without terror of the unknown and the sorrow of the morning.
As they dare to look for a future where children will be healthy and dream of success beyond the dirt roads and into the stars.

Won't you join me in giving hope to God's children around the world? I support and

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

VIP...In Training??

Honestly, my first thought on seeing this picture is that our messed up North American thinking is making quite an ironic statement all the way in Kampala, Uganda...

V.I.P. In Training is printed on her tattered shirt.


I have battled for over 25 years with people in Christian leadership over the needs of children only to be subtly or not so subtly told that they are only children and do not count as worthy of time, attention or money.

You see the ugly truth is that most people view children as valuable only as far as their potential...
            "They are going to be valuable someday… They will be of value when they are voting, earning money, and spending money; able to really think and feel..."

                                          “Children are our future”                                               
they say with beatific smiles and placating pats on my shoulder.
                                                                            "We will take care of them."

Excuse me while I scream long and loud in frustration with that twisted thinking.

Listen to me. If children are our future then what you are truly saying is that we are not responsible for their now. We only need to meet the needs that will sustain them in the future, when they are like us, powerful adults whom we must respect. Who can contribute to our lives.
What this is saying is If children are our future how can we selfishly manipulate them to meet our own needs? It is our future after all, our unknown, and they must be made our servants to insure that we will be taken care of.

Please remember that I am talking about and to Christians. So I ask you, when and where does God’s Word say that we are to put our own convenient needs first above anyone else’s?  Why is it that your church has a worship band with expensive instruments, singers and musicians for the adults but your kids are learning how to worship to a beat up cd? Why is it that you can sell cd's of your sermons but you make the children raise their own money for a trip to church camp? Do you provide transportation for people who have no car or driver's license? How are they supposed to get to church? 
        When did God say that we are only supposed to take care of people who can return the favor? 
We just as easily refuse to give time money or a second thought for the needs of children globally for the exact same reason; they have no impact on our immediate life. We say we are not involved in meeting the needs of children  in missions because we need to meet the needs of our community first but we aren’t doing that either. 

The church today has no problem funding Men’s ministries. Men have giant conferences, where we send our guys to buy t shirts and ball caps and learn how to be a man and run the family and the church. Wonderful, training is important and God knows we need strong leaders. But what if we took the $100 registration fee for each man and asked him to pick a fatherless kid to mentor for a month? Take him out to eat, buy him a basket ball and play with him.
Women dump piles of cash into Bible study guides, cute jesus jewelry, and coffee cups. Dear God! What if we took the extra funds and mentored a teenage mother through a crisis pregnancy?   
We take trips to Christian theme parks and plays and buy a ton of books and journals when as little as 40 bucks a month can save a child’s life in a third world country.

It is so much easier to have the children’s minister haul the kids off to an Easter Egg hunt and let you hang with your friends during church than it is to invest your life into a child’s life isn't it?

Are children valuable or are they just waiting to be valuable?

Are they the most Very Important Person? Or are they in training to be valuable when they grow up?

Before you go there and decide Yes, I want to invest in children let me warn you of a few things
  • Children rarely say thank you. They may never stand up in church and sing your praises.
  • Children cannot buy you a cup of Starbucks or take you out to eat.
  • They will walk into your life and walk right back out and you may never know if you made a difference or not.
  • Sometimes they will fight everything you try to do for them. They haven’t yet learned to trust.
  • You will work long hours, very often alone.
  • Once you have seen them with God’s eyes they will multiply like space invaders. You will see needy little ones everywhere you go all over the world, looking at you with Jesus’ eyes.
  • Serving children will break your heart. And it will be a pain like you have never known.
  • Children are the ripest field for harvest. They are so fresh from God’s home that they leap at the chance to go back into His arms. If you take Jesus to them they will accept Him faster and stronger than any other people group.
  • Children will love you with the purest most valuable love God ever made between humans.
  • When they are not flesh of your flesh, natural born children and you love and serve them, a connection to God is formed in your heart that the Enemy cannot understand or penetrate. 
  • When you love a child through adoption, you love most truly as God loves us.

 This sweet girl with her disarming smile and her reticent stance is not by any means a V.I.P. in training. She is the most valuable gift the Father has lavished on us. The gift of life wrapped around an eternal soul created in His image.

Guard your precious valuables with all that is in you and you will see the face of God.

Thank you Friends of TOUCH for the photo.
Friends of Touch is a Christian ministry dedicated to giving children an opportunity and a voice. Our mission is to show Orphaned and Vulnerable Children the love of Christ in a tangible way – to nurse, equip and release them to be leaders and professionals, and to equip them to reach their God-given potential.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Letter to a Lost Lamb

Dear One,
First of all let me say I am very sad and sorry that you have been hurt. Please forgive me if I have ever hurt you. You are a child of God and therefore are deserving of respect and love. 

As a Christian I want to say that I have been ashamed of the words and actions of my brothers and sisters as well. They are a sometimes difficult bunch, but so are the people I have met who don’t profess Christ. So I just try to treat them all the way Jesus did, love and forgive, and move on.

I hear your cry for love. You see it in certain Scriptures.  Paul did write those beautiful words in Corinthians and Jesus was motivated by love but his mission in life was not just to be an example or to spread love. His purpose was to be the Messiah.

In Matthew, Chapter 16: 13-17 Jesus wanted to make sure his disciples knew who he was:
 “When they came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his followers, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" … Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus answered, "You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that.  My Father in heaven showed you who I am."
Again “Then they all said, ‘Are You then the Son of God?’ So He said to them, ‘You rightly say that I am’” (Luke 22:70).
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

He knew and taught who he was, not just another teacher or good man, but the Messiah, the Annointed One who came to offer reconciliation between God and all people. Why did we need that reconciliation?

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

The word “sin” is used in a lot of ways, but the essential meaning and result of sin is separation from God,  it involves pride -- man thinking more highly of his own ways than God’s. Without Jesus Christ, His sacrifice and resurrection, connecting to God is not possible because of sin. We all have sinned, the results of which are death and an eternity separated from God. Since God is Holy, there can be no imperfection in His presence.

But death was not God’s plan for us. Abundant and eternal life is what Jesus Christ came to bring.
Why? Romans 5:8 says, "But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."

You wrote that you believe in Jesus. But what does that mean? 
Do you believe parts like Mr. Jefferson and the bible he made by cutting out pieces of the Scripture and pasting them together?
Because to Jesus the only belief that mattered was belief in his ability to be the Savior.

 In John 11: 25-27 “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

I guess the upshot is the only thing that mattered to Jesus is that his sacrifice not be in vain. I am sure he is flattered that so many people like him and his teachings, but I think the purpose of his life was the atonement he offered for us, or the satisfaction he gained through his death.

I found this interesting from Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary:
Christ's work consisted of suffering and obedience,
 and these were vicarious, i.e., were not merely for our benefit, but were in our stead,
 as the suffering and obedience of our vicar, or substitute.
 Our guilt is expiated by the punishment which our vicar bore,
and thus God is rendered propitious, i.e.,
 it is now consistent with his justice to manifest his love
 to transgressors.

He who was guilt free stood before the judge and took our sentence: Death.
That means the most important thing in your life and mine is what we do with Jesus. No matter how many places we look and see hurt in the church that does not negate the fact that an innocent man loved you enough to cross death and hell to say I love you and I want to spend eternity with you.

Not many people can get past what his “followers” have done to what Jesus actually says. It is mostly and importantly about a relationship with Jesus. The others are secondary, albeit quite distracting and hurtful.
And please, please know I am not belittling your hurt. But just like in a romantic relationship you cannot let one jerk keep you from ever loving anyone else again.

The Shepherd of your soul is calling. He wants to patch your wounds and restore you to a place of peace and comfort.

I hope this is encouraging to you dear one, I do still pray for you.

You are very precious to your Heavenly Father and He thinks of you often, catching your tears in a bottle. (Ps. 56:8)

With all my Love