Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another Insight

Just another insight from the 30 Hour Famine...
It is EXTREMELY difficult to concentrate when you are hungry!! I found my mind wandering, and I could not concentrate.
It's great that American schools (more and more of them) are now serving breakfast as well as lunch. I wish we could get the breakfast thing going in other countries. It is a vicious cycle that when people are hungry, they cannot concentrate, and when they cannot concentrate, they cannot get or hold a job, and when they don't have a job, they are hungry...
Test it out, if you wish! Go a day without food and see how your mind wanders.

Thank you, thank ya very much!

Sorry 'bout is a better pic. It's funny that there are two GROWN MEN arguing about who I look like!! hhahaha, it's kind of like the Twilight Zone. (My wife says I look kind of like Fred Savage from Wonder Years sometimes. But that's because she had a crush on him back in the day.) Thanks for your comments...thank ya very much!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

30 Hour Famine

We did it!! Friends and family came through and pledged to give $520 to World Vision to help feed hungry kids. So, as promised, I shaved off my beard!!
The Famine was awesome...I am SO proud of the teens at Southwest! I only heard a few complaints, but they were all in fun, and in good spirits. Never angry or bitter.
Some other things that stuck with me...
  • Over 26,000 CHILDREN have been kidnapped and forced to kill for the "Lord's Resistance Army" in the country of Uganda. Sometimes they have even forced the children to kill their own parents. I have a hard time deciding which is worse, the things they do, or using the Lord's name as a cover for those activities.
  • These children find hope at the World Vision Children of War Rehabilitation Center, where they are welcomed, counseled, and shown God's love. The Rehab Center has an amazing theme song that is sung every time a truckful of ex-child soldiers arrives..."God Has Saved Us." WOW! That is powerful.
  • Isaiah 58 has a lot to say about the way God wants us to fast. When we fast, just because we go without food doesn't mean we can do other things to please ourselves. In fact, it says that when we are hungry, we should FEED OTHERS!! Just read's awesome.
  • A bunch of babies are still dying of malnutrition EVERY DAY. We saw one community of 300,000 that had only ONE hospital with ONE doctor (see my last post.) It's still a problem. I challenge you next time you see those heartbreaking commercials...will you flip the channel?
As a group, we received pledges of about $2,100. What does that mean in the big scheme of things? It means that we have fed 6 kids for one year. I think that's pretty awesome. I think our teens are awesome. But above all, I think God is awesome. And I hope He sees these kids being fed and taken care of...and smiles.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chapter Two??

Chapter Two(?) – Christians As Healers

In March of 2000, American missionaries held their annual conference near Vitoria, Brazil. I was blessed to be present at this event.

One evening, we had the always fun Talent Show. The cool thing about talent shows is that you are STILL a star even if you possess ZERO talent!

I particularly remember laughing with several LST students who had been in Brazil for almost a year. After their skit, a couple of the boys went back to their room because one of them was complaining of a headache.

The rest of us continued to laugh and talk together until we noticed several missionaries exiting with very concerned looks on their faces.

Soon, we discovered that our young friend’s headache had grown worse. It became a pounding headache accompanied by dizziness. After a while, he was on the verge of being delirious when he yelled, “It’s trying to claw it’s way out of my head! Make it stop!” He lost consciousness and his friend ran for help.

As they carried him through the lobby, his brow was furrowed in pain, his head jerking from side to side, mumbling incoherently. Fright flashed through our minds as we dwelt on the fragility and uncertainty of life.

And yet, as we all dealt with our anxious thoughts, a gleam of hope flashed through.

“Anyone who wants to can join me in my room to pray for him. Be there in 15 minutes.”

I went straight to the room, wasting no time, and found others already there, whispering with worried looks on their faces. Others joined us after making sure their kids were tucked away in the rooms safely.

With lights low, we gathered around the bed in that hotel room, held hands and knelt to the ground. I don’t even know how long the prayer lasted. We all lost ourselves in the mission of petitioning God on behalf of our brother. I have never felt so connected to a group of strangers as I felt that night.

Reluctantly, we pulled ourselves away and went to our rooms for the night. With the morning came reports…

“He regained consciousness when we reached the hospital…”

“The doctors did a brain scan and found nothing…”

“He is sitting up and hungry. He says he feels OK now. It’s like nothing ever happened!”

I have no doubt in my mind that God intervened that day. He heard our prayers and smiled as He wiped away the pain and took care of the problem. God still heals.

And, yet, within my “tribe” of church (the Churches of Christ), we seem to have forgotten this aspect of Christ’s life. If we wanted to really be Christ followers, wouldn’t we give our lives to heal others?

It seems like we should take a hint from our Catholic and Baptist friends, who seem to have the monopoly on hospitals! ALL churches who want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus should start erecting hospitals IMMEDIATELY!! And if we cannot build hospitals, let us become known as healers in other ways!

We need more Christians to become doctors, nurses, dentists, research scientists, and nursing home workers. We need Christian doctors who are willing to give away a free treatment once in a while! We need nurses who will give injections for no charge!

Where did Jesus venture in His lifetime? Many of his recorded days were spent in homes, in “sick communities” (would that be like a hospital?), and at funerals.

Jesus also healed people in a unique place. A place where we have not allowed healing for hundreds of years. A place that we have a different function for than healing. Jesus modeled that the “place of worship” is also a place of healing! We think that our church buildings exist for us to worship! But Matt. 21:12-14 says that Jesus healed people IN the temple! How about us? What would we do if someone knocked on our church’s door during worship? Would we hurry to “heal” them or get annoyed at them because they had interrupted our worship?

At times, (if I was to be honest) I get fed up with needy people. They are everywhere! But these words of Jesus always convict and challenge me, “I assure you, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.” (Matt. 25:45)

There are SO many opportunities out there for us! Hospitals, hospice care, funerals, reading the obituaries and randomly picking a family to help, feeding parents who are at hospitals (away from home) to get care for their kids, taking soup and 7-Up to your sick neighbor down the street…

How many ideas can YOU come up with?

Where will YOU begin to serve?

In what ways will YOU become a healer like Christ this year?

Where will you look for needy people?

How can you better see the face of Christ when you look at others?

How can you make your church’s meeting place a “place of healing?”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chapter One???

Chapter One – Christians Ask Hard Questions

“What would you do if you were given a million dollars?”

Every time I hear this question, I get excited! It carries with it a connotation that it IS POSSIBLE to win or inherit that type of money. I also get excited because this question allows me to dream. What WOULD I do with that kind of money? Pay off bills? Give it away? Buy something nice for myself and my family?

This is one of those questions that you really have to think about! It makes you take stock of your life and your belongings. It opens you up to future possibilities. It could also suck your soul into a pit of greed. It makes you want things you will probably never have. It is a window for others to see where your heart REALLY lies.

Let’s try another question…

“What is the WORST thing you have ever done in life?”

Now, if a complete stranger approached you and asked you this question, how would you feel? You might tell them to go away. Maybe you would get angry. Or perhaps you would get embarrassed and run away.

Both of these questions have something in common: They are very similar to questions that Jesus asked. And that is the first point in our experiment: JESUS ASKED HARD QUESTIONS!

Let’s look at a few examples that prove this point.

In Mark 10: 35-45, we see James and John approach Jesus. They say to Him, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask” to which Jesus replies, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Sound familiar? Have you ever heard this question before?

Let’s keep in mind that James and John had already seen Jesus do several miracles. He had walked on water, He fed 5,000 people with next to nothing, and He had healed countless numbers of people.

And now this ALL-POWERFUL person turns to them and says, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I don’t know about you, but this question sounds a lot like the one we asked earlier, “What would you do if you were given a million dollars?”

By asking this question, Jesus found out VERY quickly where their hearts were. They wanted power! They wanted prestige!

Does that make you want to change your answer now? Lord, if I get a million dollars, let it be to help someone!

Another example…have you ever been caught doing something wrong? When I was a senior in high school, I decided that I was old enough to stay out all night. At about 5 A.M. I crept in through the front door. Oddly, there was a light on in the living room. I only had to cross about three feet of open space before entering the hallway that led to my room. As I crossed that great expanse, I glanced into the living room and met the eyes of my mother! She was reading her Bible, of course, which just made things worse! She didn’t even have to say anything…I grounded myself for a week!

Jesus caught His disciples being disobedient once. In Mark 9:33-37, we see that the disciples had been arguing along the road about which one of them was the greatest.

Jesus brought their selfish attitude into plain view by asking a simple question, “What were you arguing about on the road?” They couldn’t answer Him because they knew they were wrong!

What about you? Would YOU have a similar reaction if Jesus suddenly appeared and asked, “What have you been doing?”

Here are some more Jesus-type questions…

  • Who or what is the master of your life?
  • Do you love me?
  • If I were to follow you for two weeks, what would I say were your top 5 priorities? (Matt. 6:25)
  • What worries you? Why? (Matt. 6)
  • Have you been overly critical of anyone lately? (Matt. 7:3)
  • What are you afraid of and why? (Matt. 8:26)
  • Do you believe in Jesus? (Matt. 9:28)
  • What’s more important to you…your routine or God’s will for your life? (Matt. 15:3)
  • Who was Jesus? (Matt. 16:15)
  • Who is the last person you fought with? Why did you fight? Did you “turn the other cheek?” Did you show them God’s love? (Mark 9:16)
  • Tell me the story of the Bible. How do you read it? (Luke 10:26)
  • What do you hear others saying about God? What do YOU believe about God?
  • When is the last time you gave away something of great value?
  • Is there a person in your life that let you down? Someone that makes you mad just thinking about them? Why haven’t you forgiven that person yet?
  • What fruit have you produced for God’s kingdom lately?
  • What is the hardest commandment for you to follow? (If you choose, you can be specific here: What is the hardest commandment for you to follow from Matt. 6? Colossians 6?)
  • What do you think makes people do bad things? What makes them do good things?
  • How do your friends know you love them? Using those answers, could Jesus say you love Him, too?

*Please take your time with these questions and don’t just scan over them like I do when I read these kinds of books!

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Book Intro

I thought that I might share some chapters from a book I am writing over the next few posts. The book is tentatively called "The Jesus Xperiment." Here is the introduction, which will hopefully give you a taste of what's to come...

Do you call yourself a Christian? Do you know what that really means? Different religious denominations have several explanations, but they have never really cut it for me. I myself have taught people what it means and what it takes to be a Christ-follower…and I fear I haven’t taught them the whole truth.

If I call myself “Christian”, doesn’t that mean that my life should look like the life of Christ? What did His life really look like? How can I do a better job of making my life look just like His? How can I do it and not just talk about it?

These and other questions have haunted me while researching for this book. Perhaps you feel the same way! Maybe you look in the mirror and don’t see Christ. Or maybe one of your friends or co-workers has pointed out that your life doesn’t jive with your beliefs!

I hope you don’t just look at this as another book. Read it with some friends. Study it with a loved one. Make homework to do each week with your Bible study small group. And remember…Jesus wasn’t just a man of talk, but a man of action!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Interesting Topic

Why are Heaven and Hell such interesting topics for us?

Is it because we are just interested in things to come? Or are we anxious about the future? Maybe it's because we have a hard time imagining such places. Maybe it's because we have a hard time with absolutes (a place for evil and a place for good, not mixed together!)

I think one reason is because we are worried. Worried about being in a strange and different place. Worried about our loved ones. (Will we know them in heaven? Will we recognize loved ones are NOT in heaven?)

Not everyone is worried, of course. Some have the gift of faith more than others.

What a great topic...a topic that causes us all to dream, to hope, to have faith in a loving God.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

GREAT Teens at Southwest

This is a clip we used during our recent ministry fair. Some pics are from Akastasia and some are from SW activities. I LOVE these kids!! They are so cool and it is a blessing to be with them.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Back from Vacation!

Back from vacation in sunny Florida. I had the opportunity to read a couple of novels, and one of them has really had me thinking (uncommon for a novel!)
The book is written by Ted Dekker (a Christian author) and is called "Three." If you haven't read him, I would suggest you do so. I just started and he writes at break-neck speed using Christian premises.
In this particular story, a stranger (who somehow knows the main character Kevin) calls a cell phone and tells Kevin that he will blow up his car in three minutes unless he confesses his sin to the world...YIKES!!
Confess my sin to the world?
When I was younger, I envisioned the process of going to Heaven as a huge waiting room. When it was your turn, a movie of your life was played...sin and all. Of course, if you prayed "up to the minute" prayers, your sins would be wiped out and forgotten. Or would they?
Since then, I have changed my view on Heaven, but I am still intrigued by the thought of confession.
Why is it so hard for us to confess?
The Bible tells us, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)
And yet, we all continue to keep our lives "in the dark" so to speak.
We have the dual nature at work within us, Godly versus "the flesh."
These are a few of the thoughts this book brought up. Sorry if my thoughts are incomplete...they are still "cooking" in my mind!! (I confess! hahaha)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Blogging Anniversary

My two-year blogging anniversary is coming up. February 24th, I think! Since we are leaving on vacation tomorrow, I just thought I would post my favorite posts of the past few years (just click on the links to read them) ...
And possibly my favorite:
Enjoy! Be back next Saturday. Please pray for safe travel! Grace and peace.