Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Reality of Orphan Sunday

This past Sunday was National Orphan Sunday. It is the day set aside for churches to celebrate, pray for and advocate for the children around the world who have been orphaned. I was privileged to pray at my church for the children at Beautiful Gate and others around the world who find themselves labeled fatherless. I saw many many posts of Facebook and Instagram on Sunday regarding orphans and children in foster care. But here the thing that I cannot shake, today that those children are still considered fatherless, but are we still praying for them? As the body of Christ are we still fighting for them or have we checked that of the list of to-dos once orphan Sunday was done?

Today my heart feels the weight and the heaviness of childhood abandonment, orphans and the families who are stuck. You see it is very easy to push people into doing something. It is very easy to make a post about doing something, and I agree, if we all played our part, there would be less children in foster care and orphanages, but my heart is so heavy for the people who are doing something but are just plain stuck. For one Sunday a year they hear all about how they should be doing something to help these precious children, but when the hands on the clock move past midnight, the reality is they so desperately want to do something but they can't. They just have to wait. They are stuck and some where in a different country their child is stuck too.

Friends, orphan Sunday has past, but let's not forget the many children in orphanages that long to have a home. Let us also not forget the many families whose lives feel like they are in limbo because nothing is happening in their cases. Many we not forget to pray everyday for every side of the orphan crisis, for the children and the waiting families. If you know of a family that is currently waiting, send them a note, a card, a hug anything to let them know that you are still supporting them and they are not alone.

Thursday, November 5, 2015



Really God do I have to write about this? His answer was very clear, "YES." A week ago I sat in my room, with many thoughts racing in my head all centered on one thing...forgiveness. The reason why, was because I have had to ask for forgiveness from people recently. As I look joyfully into my last year serving at BG, I cannot help but think about all the changes that go into this. As a reader turns the page of a book to start a new chapter, I feel like I am 10 pages to the end of a chapter. Recently I had feelings of not wanting to read anymore pages to prolong the end, but that is not what God is calling me to do. He is calling me to "read," and "read" well! In doing that though I cannot help but think about the changes that go into a new chapter. The Lord has led my heart to "living together" with those in my path. In doing this, you have to put yourself out there. You need to live honestly and openly for it to work. But in doing this I have discovered that there are things in my life that I do not want to live openly about. There are things from my past that I have held on so tightly to that they have shaped the way that I see things. Here is the thing, living with a tight grip on hurt from the past, only makes your future a little more tainted. You cannot fully embrace the path in front of you if your hand is reaching behind you holding tightly to something from 5 or 10 years prior. At some point in time there is a big distance between you and the hurt that it your hand causes your whole body to turn around see that the hurt from your past is inhibiting you from truly living in the joy of your future. This is where forgiveness comes in.

Seeking out forgiveness, is not easy. It is humbling and down right painful, but the end result is a fuller, richer life with those the Lord places in your path. Forgiveness is so important, that it is what Jesus taught. "He went into all the country around the Jordan preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Luke 3:3) Forgiveness was so important to Jesus that it is what he taught about wherever he went. He wanted people to live without holding on to the past and put focus on what is ahead of us.

Forgiveness is two fold. First you need to seek out forgiveness to those you have wronged. You need to go to them in love and humility and see their forgiveness. Just as Christ forgave us, we also ought to seek out forgiveness from those we have wronged. "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32). Second, you need to forgive those in your path that have wronged you. Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 2:7-8, "Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore to reaffirm your love for him." Paul URGES us to not only forgive, but then love. Loving those around us is not an act Christ takes lightly. Our love is what shows him the true desire of our heart.

In Luke 7, we read the story of Jesus at a Pharisee's house and as he was sitting at the table he was anointed by a sinful women. As everyone in the room stood appalled that she came into their party, Jesus looked at her and said, "Therefore I tell you her many sins have been forgiven as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." (Luke 7:47). The NIV version says, "she loved much." Jesus forgave her because of how she loved. May we all love much so that forgiveness is the thread of our relationships with others.

A week ago I was talking with a very wise friend about forgiveness. She said something that has become a truth I haven't forgotten. "Grudges are what fuels us when the caffeine runs out." Isn't that the truth. There is a part of us that loves to hold on to our hurts. That part is sin. We want to let others know that we have been hurt and that they should feel sorry for us. Some of us love to just feel like a victim. But here the truth we all need to cling to, God did not create us to be a victim. He created us to be a warrior for him. he created us to go into the battles of life and boldly share his forgiveness. If we are holding onto an old grudge, there is no way we can full fight for God's kingdom. We are not fully affective for him if we are fueled by the things of our past. To me grudges are darkness, I know this because when I hold onto my own grudges, I feel dark. But as the Word says, "This is the message we have heard rom him and declared to you: God is light and in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5.) In God there is no darkness, which means if God doesn't have grudges we also should not have grudges. We shouldn't hold no to the hurts, because God doesn't hold on to the hurt that we cause him. God wants so desperately to have us live in His light.

His forgiveness for us, is woven into a huge comforting blanket that we can wrap ourselves up in.   But if are holding onto grudges, there are holes in the blanket not because of His lack of love, but because our lack of receiving it fully. Listen to Jesus words as he hung on the cross, waiting for God to take him up to glory, "Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34.)  Jesus looked out over the people that beat him and nailed him to a cross and pleaded for God to forgive them. As people living with sin in our lives, our grudges are keeping Christ on the cross.

I have written and rewritten this blog over and over for the past week. Ultimately I could not post it until I walked through this myself. I have had to seek forgiveness from others as well as seek forgiveness from God. I write this to not "show off" but to say I understand and am journeying this path with you too. Each day I pray more and more that the Lord shows me His face and I can let go of the grudges in my past and openly place my hands before him asking him to use me wherever he wants me to go. I deeply desire to be wrapped up in God's arm blanket that has no holes in it because of my doubt and the grudges I hold onto.

Take the step friends. Ask God what is in your heart that you need to let go of. After he reveals it, go and act. Do not hold it to yourself. Let go of the hurt and "love much."

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life Together is Just Plain Fun

For awhile now I have been encouraging you all to go and love others, to simply do life together. Well let me tell you why...

Doing life together is just plain more fun!!! 

There is no other way to put it. Being surrounded by people who you want to serve God with and just do life with you is fun. Here is an example. Every year at this time I try to convince myself that I should watch a scary movie. I am not one for the anything bloody or gory, but I do like a suspenseful movie from time to time. I am partial to M. Night Shyamalan's movies Signs, The Village and The Six Sense. (Seriously friends, who thought the guy was dead the whole movie.) I enjoy a movie that gets your heart pumping. When I was a teenager, I watched Steven King's "The Shining." I remember being so incredibly scared. You guys there were not enough blankets for me to cover my face or pull over my head. The musical score to that movie was so intense, that a times I just watched it with the mute button on. I remember dreaming about that movie for weeks. I would go to bed and once I closed my eyes, BAM there stood the two girls in blue dresses in the corner of my room. My mind had a great way of playing tricks on me. It just creeped me out!!! And as it should have, because that movie has been quoted as one of the scariest films ever made. That movie came to my mind again this week and I thought that I should watch it. Maybe being older would make it easier to watch. If not, I would just hide under the blankets again, hit the mute button and come to the conclusion that I am a big, big wimp. Saturday night, my friend and I curled up on her basement couch to watch it. There was a small part of me that was a little concerned how I would react to the movie and I have to say I was a little nervous that I didn't see any blankets to cover my head with in case I needed them. But then within the first 3 minutes of the movie, my friend and I started laughing and for the next 3 hours, we continued to laugh. Yes there were parts of the movie that were a little creepy, and we would tell the characters out loud that what they were doing was stupid, but my perspective was different. I wasn't alone, I was with a friend.

In life there are things that if we face alone, can make us want to hide under the blankets and never come out. A new diagnosis or the loss of a loved one or the loss of a dream can make us want to retreat from whatever is in front of us and hide until our heart stops beating so fast. There are moments when all we want to do is push the mute button on whatever is ringing in our heads so that we can take a break from the confusion and hurt. But here is the thing, if you face it with a friend, it is easier. I am not saying the pain won't still be there and there still won't be moments when you want to hide under a blanket, but when you do and you look over and see someone else who is willing to crawl under the blanket with you, the burden is lighter. Friends the Lord never created us to do life alone. This truly reminds me of the villages in Lesotho where people simply do life together. One person has a nice garden, another has a cow for milk and another chickens and they all share. Doing life together makes everything just a little lighter. That doctor's appointment that you dread going to, when faced with a friend the time passes quicker and your courage to do whatever the treatment plan is, is bigger. The grief of losing a person you love, if faced with a friend can be a time of celebration through the tears of that person's life and how much they will always mean to you.

When we face hard things in life, we should always turn to God first. He is our ROCK. He is our stronghold. His ways our Sovereign. But we can't stop there, because God uses the people around us to bring His hope. He places people in our paths to explode His joy. He equips others to be His hands and feet to those around them. And each day, He is equipping you to do the same. You see doing life together is two-fold. One, it is opening yourself up to others and allowing people to journey with you. But also it is allowing others to open themselves up to you and allowing God to speak through you in to their lives. If we choose to do life under the covers, not only are we limiting the joy we could be having, but we are limiting the joy that someone else could be having because of our relationship to them.

How are we doing with this? Are we truly openly up our lives to be able to do life together? Are you raising your children to see the value in doing life with trusted friends who become family? Or are you trying to do it alone always making sure there is a blanket or two close by so that you can cover up when things get hard?

Friends life is going to bring rain, there is no doubt in that. There will be moments of great heartache and confusion. There are also moments of great celebration and joy. There will always moments to see God's promises written out for you and those around you. My question is are willing and able to step out in the rain and hold the umbrella for someone else? Are you willing to get wet, knowing that after the rain there are moments of sunshine and rainbows? I truly, truly hope you are, because even in the rain, while holding an umbrella for someone else or letting someone hold one for you, when you are wet and cold and the wind is getting you from every angle, there are moments of pure uninhabited joy. Moments when your heart wants to hit the pause button, because life just can't get any better than this.

Take time today friends, to hold an umbrella for someone else or to allow someone to hold that umbrella for you. Your life will be fuller and richer because of it and it will be a lot more fun than you could imagine it.