Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Just one more

I read these words last night.  They hit me hard.  I stopped and re-read them several times to let the reality of them sink in.
 – Katie Davis, “Kisses from Katie”
"The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children.  And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians.
The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.
This is the Truth.  I have the freedom to believe it.  The freedom, the opportunity to do something about it.  The truth is that He loves these children just as much as He loves me and now that I know, I am responsible.”  
Now that I know, I am responsible.
God has placed me in this land of freedom, given me the opportunity - the riches and means and stuff (which I waste, throw away, toss aside, take for granted) – to do something about it.
When I read my Bible, I don’t read words like, live the easy life, take what you can get and keep it, live for yourself for your days are short, buy as much stuff as you can and live in as much comfort as you can, ‘cause God loves me and gave it all to me and wants me to be happy.  No.
I read words like,
 “Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore, they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek.  They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper, and they do not defend the rights of the needy.  Shall I not punish them for these things?  declares the Lord.” Jer. 5:27-29

“if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted...” Is. 58:10
“Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Is. 1:17
And Jesus’ own words,
 “..whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a random for many.” Mark 10:43-45
When I read my Bible, I read words like defend, plead, seek, encourage – not apathy, indifference, affluence, retirement funds.  I read words like pour yourself out, not dribble a drop here, scatter some leftovers there.  I read words like serve, slave – not be served, be comfortable, and warm pews.
These words are hard.  But if the stats are correct in the quote from Katie Davis, if only 8 out of every 100 who proclaim to be Christians, acted out these hard verbs with the freedom and resources we’ve been granted to do so by the God we claim to serve, then the 164.8 million children in desperate need beyond my own comprehension, would cease to be living in these conditions.
That actually shakes me, knots my stomach, this thought that it is possible for there to be no more needy children.  How can I not do something about that?  Just one more?  I already support two, one across the world, one across town; one financially, one with the open arms and home of love – both in Jesus’ name.  But today, I will add just one more.
Will you join me in putting faith into action today?  ‘Cause now that you read this post, you know.  And now that you know, you too are responsible.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such a faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  James 2:14-17
Here are a few links, all serving faithfully in Jesus' name, to help you make that step of faith a little easier and only a click away.
  • Sixty Feet - ministering to imprisoned and abandoned children in Uganda by bringing hope and restoration to these desperate children in Jesus' name. 
  • Amazima Ministries - helping to educate and empower the people of Uganda with God's love
  • Compassion International - child sponsorship programs serving needy children around the world
  • Gospel for Asia, Bridge of Hope - serving the impoverished children within the Dalit caste of India, the poorest of the poor.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Five Minute Friday - Vivid

I walk along the river which is frozen and covered in a blanket of white.  The snow crunches beneath my feet, perfect snowman making snow.  All is white, brown, and dead.  Frozen-in-time, stiff, barren landscape surrounds me.  Winter’s blah.
Yet I breathe deep the fresh, crisp air and it brings my hibernating body back to life.  And my eyes see beauty.  Contrasting the drab white/dead background I see a bunch of bright red berries, wrapped in ice and clinging to a frozen branch.

I see a brilliant blue swing hanging still, frozen, blanketed and waiting to move for the squeals of summer.

I see a sunset over the quiet field, home to horses in warmer days, now empty, waiting in hope for their return, but graced by the fading warmth and beauty of the evening sun setting on the horizon.

I see contrast in this drab January land.  Vivid beauty painted by God in seemingly inhospitable conditions. 
Isn’t that what He calls us to in this life, those of us who are His children?  To live in contrast, to stand vividly against the backdrop of this world around us, shining, giving hope, making a difference to even one who might just breathe in, see Jesus, and gain life.  Live vivid.
Phil. 2:15-16
“ that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life...” 

Friday, 13 January 2012

The day Jesus kissed my hand

I don’t have a very good memory.  Some days I actually have concern for my lack of memory skills and if it wasn’t for my daughter acting as my vocal to-do list and regular reminder of what it is I am doing, or where it is I am going, I would be lost.
But there are a few moments in time which are etched in my memory, permanent God carved moments.  A reminder for those faithless, dry days, that God's Word is alive and active, that God is in the obscure, the small, the unexpected and isn’t always or mostly in the big and obvious places.
This January freeze we’re having right now, this cold stinging wind, it brings me back to one of these moments and I remember the day Jesus kissed my hand.
It was a January day three or four years ago, much like the ones we’ve had lately, but colder.  So cold.  Sunny January day, the raw wind blowing, biting, cutting, freezing everything in its path rock hard and instantly.
I travelled to the city to bring my daughter to gymnastics training.  After dropping her off I headed to the grocery store downtown – a necessary stop while in the city.  Stepping out of the car, the icy air cut my lungs sharp and I raced toward the store, beaconing in the dim of dusk and offering warmth.
As I approached, my eyes met those of a man sitting on a bench near the store’s entrance.  He was dressed in brown, shabby, dirty clothes ripped and ragged.  His russet and wrinkled hands, clothed in red gloves with cut-off fingers, clung to a jar he was holding out.  His face was weathered and worn and a wiry beard pierced through deep wrinkles and hung, stiff and grey and braided to a point.
As his eyes met mine, shamefully and quietly he asked, “Can you help me ma’am?”.  Shamefully and quickly I mumbled, “Sorry” and lowered my face to my chest as I walked through the doors of the store, relieved by the sudden blast of heat.
Before my shivering body could absorb the warmth, my heart was cut.  That sword.  The one that separates bone from marrow, cut piercingly through my heart - “I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. - and stopped me suddenly with a gasp.  Came from nowhere and stopped me cold.  I’d heard the Spirit could do that, but in these infant days of my Christianity, I had never really experienced it.  Until now.
“Oh LORD!”  Forgive me!” I wailed in my thoughts.  “What do you want me to do? I can’t give him money, what if he drinks it away?”  I decided to get him some food.
Hurriedly, I made my way through the store, praying the Lord would keep him there until I could get back out, trying to think of what would be helpful to this man.  Was he homeless?  Did he have a place where he could he prepare food?  Did he have a can opener?  Did he have a knife? Oh the things we take for granted!  I put in the shopping cart bananas, chocolate milk, bread, peanut butter, granola bars, oatmeal cookies, sandwich meats and some other items I thought might be hearty, warming and somewhat healthy.  I grabbed a few necessities for my own house and quickly went to the check-out and made my way outside hoping to see this man again.
He was still there.  Thank you, Lord! I breathed with relief.   As I pushed my cart up to him he gestured me to sit down.  I nervously took the bags of food and placed them on the bench beside him.  He looked confused.
“These are for you”, I said quietly, my voice shaking, afraid of what I do not know, “Food for you.”
My nostrils caught the icy air now filled with the warm sour aroma of alcohol from his breath.  His gentle eyes, they looked deep into mine as he took my hands, cold and exposed in the arctic evening air, and put them between his hands.  “It’s too cold for you to have nothing on your hands.  Do you have any gloves?” were his words to me.
Then he took my hand, brought it to his lips and gently kissed it.  As he did his tired, gentle eyes looked into mine and he said, “May God bless you.”
A moment frozen in time.  Etched, engraved forever into my mind.  My soul, rocked to the core.  Humbled.
Suddenly the air didn’t seem so bitter.  Dazed in unbelief at what just happened, I slowly made my way back to the car.  As I drove away in the January darkness, I glanced at the bench by the store entrance, but I couldn’t see him through the tears that now filled my eyes and poured down my cheeks, thawing my frozen face.
These words of Jesus came to life that day.  These sanctifying words of life burned deep as I saw their truth with my own eyes:
And the King will answer them, “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.”  Matt. 25:40
May I never forget.  May I never again turn away.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Deliberate New Year - 5 minute Friday

Been a while since I've been here.  Happy New Year to you!  I'm lost for words and looking for inspriation. So I've written for 5 minutes, no stopping, thinking, or editing (well I did spell check after the 5 minutes!) on this topic:  Roar.

The new year is here, in it came. So fast.  Christmas came so quiet and gentle.  A pause in time to reflect on the one who came to save.  And then, its over. 

The tree thrown out the door, decorations gone, the lights, white and twinkling and reflecting a soft, warm hue as they reflect of the log walls of the living room.  It’s gone.  A new year begun, in haste.  In hurriedness.  To. Get.  Things.  Done.  Already.  And to try to get things right this time around.
A new year. A new start. New mercies.  Much needed mercy. 
But without deliberate reflection, prayer and direction, the days will overtake me, and carry me away like the rushing of the river water after it has opened up from its winter freeze.  Fast, white waved-caps, dirt stirred up from its crashing force, roaring its way to the ocean depths.
Lord, help me to pause, to receive the new mercies of each new day, of this new year, and to deliberately seek your face each day for direction, wisdom and guidance. 
Let me, this year, make a difference in even just one life for eternity.
For your glory.
And for your great name.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to and end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."  The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him." - Lam. 3:22-25