Month: February 2017

more

I met this little boy while visiting a Compassion project in Tanzania.  After touring the facility and worshipping with the children,  it was time to eat. We served approximately 100 children a meal of rice, chicken, and fruit.

This little guy was not enrolled in the Compassion program. I don’t know the reason. But he, like others, stood outside the windows. It was rewarding and exciting to be sitting with the wonderful children enrolled in the program. But it was heartbreaking to realize there are always more children. There are always more children who are on the outside looking in. There are always more children longing for a warm smile and a loving hug. There are always more children with empty stomachs. Ugly truth: there are always more children in need.

I reached out and took his hand. I squeezed it and tried to convey as much love in that touch as possible. I didn’t see the cross in his photo until later, but it is there. The Cross is there reminding me to ‘keep on keeping on’ for all the children on the outside, like this dear little boy.  It reminds me there is much work to be done on behalf of the children living and dying in poverty around the world. The Cross reminds me, “whatever I do for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, I do for Christ”.

So I advocate and sponsor children with Compassion International because there are always more children. There are more lives to be touched, more smiles to be shared, and more bellies to be filled. If you look, you will find a child who needs you. Let the Cross guide you to him or her. Then there will be one less child standing on the outside looking in.

 

 

 

 

shape

It’s pruning time in North Carolina. Northerners by birth and in heart, we are in unfamiliar land. On their daily stroll, our neighbors kindly remark, ‘You need to prune that’ pointing to the crepe myrtle in our front yard. Yes, we know. All around the neighborhood, pruning and shaping is taking place.

So we read and watch YouTube videos to gain semi-confidence. Gloved and armed with pruners (short and long), we approach the victim. Vase shape is the goal without cutting off too much. Will this lovely tree ever bloom again? Only time will tell, but we hope our neighbors notice and applaud our effort.

Many years and dozens of cookies ago, my physical shape resembled a banana but now I identify more with a Bartlett pear. A recent church message encouraged me to consider my spiritual SHAPE as defined in Purpose Driven Life by Pastor Rick Warren.  I can best serve God when I am operating and serving within my SHAPE.

S– Spiritual Gifts     H– Heart     A– Abilities     P– Personality     E– Experiences.

What is my shape? How can I best serve God based on my shape? As my physical shape changes so does my spiritual shape. Thirty years ago, my shape was a stay-at-home mom of two little blessings. Later, called to serve and lead ministries, a different shape took form.  In each season of life, God drew out my gifts, passions, abilities, personality traits, and life experiences. Some previously unused, now emerged. Some faded to the background, some blossomed; all by His Hands and at His timing.

In the Bible, I read about Joshua’s shaping that began under the whip of an Egyptian taskmaster.  God continued to prune and reshape Joshua from the bloody doorposts on the first Passover, through the dry Red Sea, and into the Promised Land as a spy. Joshua stood firm before the nation and gave his surveillance report. He spoke truth with confidence because of his shape.

Wandering in the desert for 40 years, God continued reshaping Joshua. He would be the one, not Moses, to lead the Israelites and conquer the Promised Land.  As he followed and obeyed, the Master Gardener shaped. God equipped Joshua for what he needed, as he needed it. As Joshua was faithful, God was abundantly more faithful. Joshua’s shape changed as God moved him through his life seasons until calling him home at the age of 110.

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Looking at the bare branches of our vase-shaped crepe myrtle, we have faith the beautiful blossoms will cover the tree this summer. The flowers will serve as proof that the cutting, pruning, and shaping were necessary.

As God continues to shape me so I can best serve Him, I endure His pruning. In time, blossoms of the Spirit’s Fruit will emerge; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. A wonderful shape for this pear tree.

 

 

celebrate

Tomorrow evening, Falcon and Patriots fans will celebrate their team’s accomplishment as they face off in the Super Bowl. The rest of us, the non-Falcon and non-Patriot fans, can choose to cheer for one of them (please not the Patriots) or just show up for the commercials. I view the time as four hours to chill out and eat my weight in junk food.

There will be celebrations over sacks, hard-hitting tackles, field goals, and touchdowns. I hope to celebrate the evening with some belly laughs! With a 5 million dollar price tag for commercial spots,  there better be off-the-chart entertaining  commercials!

As the final seconds ticks away, confetti will reign down and the Lombardi trophy will be kissed and passed around. For the victors, there will be much to celebrate.

On Friday evenings, I sit in a circle of women and we celebrate victories, some big, some small. There are no touchdown dances, mostly tears, hugs, and knowing smiles. We gather for Celebrate Recovery; a safe place to admit our habits, hang ups, and hurts.

Celebrate Recovery is the creation of Pastors John Baker and Rick Warren at Saddleback Church in southern California. Warren shares, “The Bible clearly states “all have sinned.” It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too.  Because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us. This means each of us need repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.”

About 30 men and women come seeking recovery, a reason to celebrate. We want to live our lives the way God intended: whole and free. All of us desire to be free of whatever entangles our minds and bodies. To show up on Friday night, feels like reason in itself to celebrate. Some share reports of a good week, some tear up over their hard week.

We come to the local church as believers in Jesus Christ, that is who we are. Our identity, the very core of who we are, is in Him. Our habits, hang ups, and hurts do not define us. They are not who we are. They are our struggles but we do not struggle alone. That realization is another reason to celebrate.

The Super Bowl offers hype and hoopla. Celebrate Recovery offers hope. Tomorrow night, many will celebrate. But on Friday evenings in a small classroom tucked inside a local church, the purest, truest, and deepest of celebrations are occurring. To God be all the Glory!

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Philippians 4:4,5 (MSG)