A Lesson in Love — Three R’s Revised — cRazy, Radical, Relentless

There are three words that I keep hearing in relation to God’s love for us and His expectation of our love for others.

Crazy.  Radical.  Relentless.

Crazy:  being out of the ordinary; distracted with desire or excitement; absurdly fond; passionately preoccupied.

Radical:  very different from the usual or traditional; favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions

Relentless:  showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace

[http://www.merriam-webster.com]

Can you imagine the world if people loved each other the way that God loves us?  The Bible says that we love because He first loved us.  He gave us this amazing example of loving others.

Passionately preoccupied.  To be so preoccupied with loving others that you don’t have time to think about yourself or worry about your own needs.  I just love that phrase…passionately preoccupied.

To be very different from the usual, extreme change in existing views and habits.  To completely change how you see and behave in the world.

Showing no abatement of intensity or strength.  This isn’t temporary or for a season…it’s forever.

Can you imagine what would happen?  How would you feel?  Where do you start?

I believe that one of the first things that you can do is to love the person in front you, just as they are.  Just love them.  Show them Christ’s love for them through you.  Change is possible, but it has to start with love.

Challenge: Put Up or Shut Up

I found a blog today from the CNN Religion Blog…It’s title is My Take:  On adoption, Christians should put up or shut up by Jason Locy.

This is My Take.

Christians usually have a lot to say about things, especially in these challenging times where it seems like morals and values are gone and those who want to preserve them are attacked around every corner.  I hear a lot of preaching and people saying they love community, people, Jesus, want to spread the Word of God, there are new churches I hear about all the time.  BUT…these very same churches are doing NOTHING about the orphan crisis.  There is a Biblical mandate to care for the orphans.  All of them.  Period.  Open your wallet, open your heart, sell your stuff, move, preach, educate, whatever it looks like, you need to be doing it.  Today.  Everyday.  Until there is no orphan going to bed tonight, cold, alone and unloved.

According to The Children’s Bureau, there are around 105,000 waiting children in the United States of America.  http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report19.pdf

 According to Christianity Today, there were 247 million Christians in the US in 2010.  http://christianity.about.com/od/denominations/p/christiantoday.htm

We don’t even need to do the math to realize the solution.  Christians could easy adopt every single orphan in America.  It’s a minuscule amount in comparison.  However, I find a startling number of Christians who feel like it’s for someone else to do, not them.  If you believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and that you are to obey it, then it’s for you.  Otherwise, please stop referring to yourself as a Christian.  You cannot be lukewarm.  You cannot serve two masters.  You are either in or you are out.  Choose this day, whom you will serve.  Yourself or your God.

On a bigger scale, there is between 143 and 210 million orphans in the world.  Again, less orphans than Christians.  This should not be this hard!!!  Some are standing, some are following Christ’s words, but not enough!  We ALL need to do it.

This is my favorite quote from the blog I mentioned earlier.  It says, “It is time Christians decide to either step up or shut up. If a Christian group wants to wade into the discussion over who should adopt, it needs to put its money and manpower where its mouth is.  That means not only challenging families and churches to adopt from foster care (which costs virtually nothing financially) but also to adopt children resulting from unplanned pregnancies, children with special needs and children of mixed race or minority ethnicity.  If Christians’ only desire is to fight the culture wars and score political points, then they should continue to lean on empty rhetoric. But if they truly care about the family and the Bible, they’ll begin caring for children who desperately need a home.”

Amen.  So, what are you going to do today??

He is Enough

I just finished reading Kisses From Katie, which I highly recommend.  I thought about writing a few of my favorite excerpts, however I then realized that would be the entire thing!  I haven’t read a lot the last few months and I finished the book in less than 24 hours.

My heart broke over and over again, my longing to be in Africa and serving those who are “the least of these” grew exponentially.

If I could explain just one thing that I really learned was that love is, and always has been, the most important thing.  Love people.  Love Christ.  Just love.

And that when we give, whether it’s love, money, stuff, whatever, to those who are in need, God always provides.  A stark realization hit me.  I am selfish, I mean, I knew that, but I am selfish in ways that I didn’t realize.  And I don’t like it.  The thought of really giving up everything to move to a place where there are lots of bugs, snakes, rats (that’s the really bad one if you know me, I am TERRIFIED of mice and rats), and weird food (also not so good for me) — it’s almost too much for me to think about.  What on earth am I thinking?

But then I think about not going.  And it’s just not an option.  I feel that God has placed this longing in my heart, this love for people I have never even met because it’s His will, His plan for my life.  I want to be uncomfortable for the cause of Christ.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that being a Christian is signing up for the “good life.”  I mean, it’s signing up for the best life, but in that it’s also being uncomfortable and stretching yourself.

And I am ready.  Fully committed.  To whatever God has for me, wherever He places me, to love whoever is in front of me…because I love Jesus more than I love anything else.

Sac.ri.fice

Something that has been a recurrent theme in my life and on my heart recently is sacrifice.  I decided that meant I should take some time to see what God has said in His Word and what He wants me to hear on this subject…and now I am sharing it with you 🙂

A pretty basic definition (I am HUGE on defining words) is offering something of value to God.

Here are some verses to check out:

Genesis 12:1-11; 22:1-19

Leviticus 1-7

Isaiah 53

Romans 12:1-2

Hebrews 10

Sacrifice had a purpose — in fact 3 distinct purposes:  cleanse from sin (Jesus paid this for us in His sacrifice of His life); show complete dedication to God; and then fellowship with God.  Each of these required a different type of sacrifice.

I want to focus on the second part — showing complete dedication to God.  One example of this would be God requiring Abraham to sacrifice his son.  This is made especially clear in that Abraham had only one child, his son and they had waited and prayed for years and years to have him.  Abraham willing went to sacrifice his son, to show his complete dedication to God.  Wow.  Of course, God stops Abraham and honors him for his dedication and provides a different offering in place of Isaac.  It wasn’t the actual sacrifice that was important to God, it was the heart and motive — the complete dedication to God.

As shown in Leviticus, this theme continues.  God told His people that when making their offerings and sacrifices, He wanted their best animal — not just any animal, a flawless animal, it couldn’t be sickly or weak.  And when offering their grain offering — it was their first grains, not whatever was leftover.  This not only showed complete devotion to God, as these were things of value but also of God’s place in their lives — FIRST.  They offered God their best and they offered it to Him first, because they loved Him and they served Him.

More verses:

Matthew 8:18-22; 10:39

Luke 9:57-60:  As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” [My emphasis]

These verses are Jesus speaking about the cost of following Him.  The cost of following Christ is to immediately be ready, we can’t wait until we are ready.  He is calling us NOW.

Matthew 10:39

Luke 17:33

Luke 9:24:  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

These are so powerful!  What does it mean to “lose” our lives?  I don’t think God is referring to death here.  But giving our lives to Christ, in essence we are giving up or losing our wants and desires and using our lives to serve Christ and follow His will for us.

So, what is God challenging me and you to lose in our lives to His purpose?  What is He calling us to sacrifice for His Kingdom?

$30,000 in 3 Weeks!?!?!

Launching our new campaign tomorrow morning!  We need to raise $30,000 in the next three weeks.  I realize that this is an insane number.  To break it down…that’s $10,000 per week or about $1429 per day or $60 per hour, every hour.

Through Christ, impossible things for us become possible.  We are simply trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to serve Him and His children.  And we are believing in faith that He will provide the funds to protect His children.

The reality is, the orphanage we are working to purchase cannot sustain any longer.  There is no money for food, medical care, or school fees.  They have taken local loans for food and their credit has been maxed out.  The children were only eating once per day, now they are not even getting that.  As it is the rainy season, transportation has become all but impossible.  I was not aware of this until a couple of days ago, but because the director felt that we were the right people to purchase the orphanage, he ended all advertisements of the property.  I also feel that God has called us to this, but they are in desperate times.

The only other offer is one that will immediately close the orphanage and it will be re-purposed.  The children will then be moved to other orphanages or quite possibly, let to fend for themselves on the streets as most orphanages are already over crowded.  This orphanage maintains a wait list of over 100 children and has 50 beds that are full.

I view this possibility as heartbreaking.  For the orphan who has lost everything, this is again a total loss.  They will be forced to leave their community and their school.  For the orphan who still has extended family, they will be losing that tie with their family, their community, their school, everything.

One of the children that comes to mind is seven year old Oliver.  She is HIV positive and lives at the orphanage.  She was found along side the road with her elderly sick grandmother.  She has two sisters (one HIV positive) and a brother who still live with their grandmother, but will need care as the grandmother is dying.  Oliver was taken in because there was room for just one and her condition was most severe.  If the orphanage closes, she will either be left to care for her younger siblings or she will be forced to move away from everything she has known to another facility.  Please remember, she is SEVEN.  The age of most first or second grade children.  These are real children, who are innocent and vulnerable.

Please consider a donation for this cause, like us on Facebook, share us with your friends, pray for us, come to Uganda with us, volunteer with our local Spokane projects.  There is so much need…what is God calling you to?

More Reality.

Let’s give credit where it’s due…http://www.odt.org/Pictures/popvillage.pdf

I love this!!!  I have modified it a bit, so feel free to check out the entire post at the above address.

STATE OF THE VILLAGE REPORT

If the world were a village of only 100 people, there would be:

60 Asians,
14 Africans,
12 Europeans,
8 people from Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean,
5 from the USA and Canada, and
1 person from Australia or New Zealand.

In this 100-person community:
80 would live in substandard housing.
67 adults live in the village; and half of them would be illiterate.
50 would suffer from malnutrition.
33 would not have access to clean, safe drinking water.
24 people would not have any electricity.
Of the 76 that do have electricity, most would use it only for light at night.
In the village would be 42 radios, 24 televisions, 14 telephones, and 7 computers
(some villagers own more than one of each).
7 people would own an automobile (some of them more than one).
5 people would possess 32% of the entire village’s wealth, and these would all be from the USA.
The poorest one-third of the people would receive only 3% of the income of the village.
The following is also something to ponder…
If you woke up this morning healthy… you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the fear and loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture,
or the pain of starvation… you are better off than 500 million people in the world.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep… you are more comfortable than 75% of the people in this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace…you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
If you can read this, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, it becomes both evident and vital that education, acceptance and compassion are essential for the progress of humankind.

Reality.

So, I have been reading a lot of blogs and stuff lately, in some type of attempt to figure out where we are going, put it on paper, what the real needs are of people, and how to best help.  I am in awe of the great needs and a dismal lack of caring of most people.

One of the sites I was reading today was an organization that is in Uganda called Judan Say Yes Children’s Center  (http://judanscc.cfsites.org/)

They talk about the problem Uganda is facing is multi-faceted:  social, health, and economic in nature.  Of course, those most affected are the children.  Children are so vulnerable and Ugandan children are often orphaned (through disease or war), not in school and end up on the street struggling just to survive.

[Pause]  There is a whole new language I am learning with orphan care.  There are double orphans (children who have no living parents); single orphans (one parent has died); and economic orphans (may have one or both parents living but living in poverty has caused them to abandon and/or place their child in institutional orphan care).

These “economic” orphans make up a HUGE portion of the orphan statistics.  Poverty and HIV/AIDS seem to be the overwhelming reason for the orphan crisis, with war coming in next.

School is different in Africa, most schools charge fees for children to attend.  This causes a lot of children to not be engaged in school.  Even free schooling poses many challenges for Ugandan families.  Lack of education inevitably leads to other societal issues… prostitution and crime, as well as becoming more vulnerable to drug use, exposure to HIV/AIDS.

Many NGO’s and CBO’s have tried to address the problems but a constant lack of resources makes it difficult.  They rely heavily on western support.  As orphanages are forced to close, the effects on the children are worse than they were originally.

So…with that realization…where do we go from here?  A multi-faceted problem requires a multi-faceted response.  I believe it really lies in microfinance, access to resources, adoption, and most importantly…relying not on western support, but on God and His provision.

Are you up for this challenge?  Do you want to join us on this adventure?  Each and every one of us have a part to play…ask God what is His part for you.