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"Lollipop and Pearls" - Jared Kraft

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"We are the World"....Part 4.....GOOD NEWS!

I love autumn! I stand amazed that trees can bear green leaves in the Spring; remain green all summer long; gradually turn from green to vivid hues of yellow, orange, red, brown, or some combination thereof; fall from the trees just before winter, leaving branches devoid of their natural d├ęcor; only to have those same branches birth new leaves again in the Spring!

The cycle of life as designed by the Master Artist Creator of the Universe…God Himself!

God looked upon each part of His Creation and said, “It is good!” He determined the necessary conditions for life to burst forth, to thrive, and ultimately to pass away. Before the fall of man, a perfect world existed…and it was good!

Because of “man’s” insatiable appetite for things forbidden, sin entered the perfect world, incessantly leaving its revolting stain on humanity! The consequences of sin include (but are not limited to) pain, suffering, guilt, anger…and above all else, spiritual and physical death! Those consequences are

inconceivable.
inevitable.
unavoidable.
unpredictable.
… incomprehensible.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful natureand following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Eph. 2: 1-5 (NIV)

(There is so much more to share from this book, but I don’t want to belabor the topic for too long! PLEASE purchase the book, read it, then pass it on for others to read. Knowledge is POWER! Together Everyone Accomplishes More—that spells TEAM!)

THERE IS GOOD NEWS!!!

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why he allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it.”
“Well, why don’t you ask Him?”
“Because I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.” ~Anonymous

This race we are running is a marathon, not a sprint.

From p.163 in the book A Hole in our Gospel, Stearns records these stats:
~Life expectancy in developing nations increased from 6 years in 1960 to 66.1 in 2005.
~The under-five child mortality rate has been cut in half since 1070.
~Preventable child deaths have fallen 50%since 1960 from more than 20 million per year to fewer than 10 million
~The percentage of the world’s people classified as hungry has been reduced from 33 to 18% over the past 40 years.
~The percentage of people with access to clean water in developing countries went from 35% in 1975 to 80% in 2007.
~Polio has been almost eradicated from the globe.
~Adult literacy has risen from 43 to 77% since 1970.”

Another very encouraging cause was developed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2000 known as the “Millennium Development Goals”, with the following ambitious goals:

~~Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
~~Achieve universal primary education
~~Promote gender equality and empower women
~~Reduce child mortality
~~Improve maternal health
~~Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
~~Ensure environmental sustainability
~~Develop a global partnership for development

It does my heart good to see efforts being by various groups at the local, state, country and international level to eradicate world hunger and it’s devastating results. Still far from where we need to be, we are making progress. The one thing we ALL can do, no matter our location, age, ethnicity, or status, is PRAY!!!! As the old African proverb says: “Pray, but when you pray, move to your feet!” To the degree that you are able, move from prayer only to prayer with action. In the words of Paul Harvey: “We’ve drifted away from being fishers of men to being keepers of the aquarium”. Not everyone can physically hook the fish ~ some need to care for them in the aquarium. Yet, there are many unaware of their calling to be “fishers of men”, with a “I can’t do it!” YES. YOU. CAN.

“I CAN DO all things through Christ who gives me strength” ~ Phil. 4:13
“I can do ALL THINGs through Christ who gives me strength” ~ Phil. 4:13
“I can do all things THROUGH CHRIST who gives me strength” ~ Phil. 4:13
“I can do all things through Christ WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH” ~ Phil. 4:13

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Tension of Faith

Billy is a friend of ours from a former church! His faith in a living God, personally and intimately acquainted with each of us, and his living testimony of that in his life, is nothing short of amazing~ truly a "God thing"! Billy knows what it is like to live in plenty and in want; the season of his life is uncertain just now. Yet, he believes in those 2 favorite words of mine in the whole of the Bible: "But God..." And he knows that God WILL SUPPLY ALL his needs "according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus" ~ Phil. 4:19! What a testimony to each of us in this day and time! Be blessed!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harvest orf Friends Block Party!

BEGINS: Monday October 19th (at 12:01 am Central Time)
ENDS: October 24th (at 11:59 pm Central Time)
**Click here to link up!!! (Starting Monday)
_______________________________________
Lynnette is hosting this "Harvest of Friends Block Party" and has invited us to participate. So, please join us this week, share about you, and hop around through Mr. Linky to learn about others. Be sure to leave comments: it should encourage others to visit your site AND it you link up through Lynnette's site, you are eligible to win prizes! WOW! Thanks, Lynnette! So, here we go! Sssssssssssoooooooooo......in Lynnette's words:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Okay, so it's only been a few months since the last one, but I'm ready for another blog party! How about you?
The last "porch party" was a huge success! I had 119 people link up! I had so much fun visiting EACH and EVERY one of you!
Why another blog party already you might ask. Just because. Is that specific enough?
Well, actually... since we all hop around to visit each other on a regular basis, I personally think it's fun to get to know everyone better, and what better way to do that than at a PARTY! Plus, you never know, there may find a kindred spirit out there that you haven't met yet!
Besides... parties are just plain ole' FUN!
It's not a big formal event like the annual party through Five Minutes for Mom (Oh heavens no! I'm not nearly that organized and I hate formal events!) - it's just another fun - spur of the moment - Lynnette event.
So, here's how we'll do it this time...
1. JUST LINK UP! You don't HAVE to do anything special. (Now is that easy or what?)
2. If you want to (and I hope you will), create a blog post introducing yourself! I'm going to provide 20 questions. You may answer them all or just pick a few (or come up with your own) - it's up to you. They're just off the wall, fun questions that will reveal a little about your personality.
3. Please do your best to hop around and visit other party participants through the week.
4. So that we can get more participants (thus more visitors for you), make sure you let your readers know what you're doing by putting up the Harvest of Friends - Blog Party button on your blog post AND your side bar (just through the week) and tell them to join you in the blog party. *Blog buttons are in this post.
5. Link up to MckLinky (starting on Monday). If you do a blog post for the party, please link up that actual post for us.

SO ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY - LINK UP!!!
I plan (hope), once again, to come by and meet everybody (although if it's a big party, it might take me a little while - but I promise to try to come by!).

20 Weird Questions That Will Give a Little Insight Into Who You Are
(Pick whichever ones you want to use , use all of them - or make up your own)

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while you're blogging? Pop Secret Homestyle Popcorn and Coke Zero
2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without? My bioidentical hormone creme compounded just for my body!
3. Beach, Mountains or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice? Love to visit the beach but wouldn't want to live there; love the mountains and changing of seasons and LOVE SNOW...so I would say "mountains"!
4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty? Cleaning commodes--Detest it!
5. Who do people say you remind them of? Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter)



I used to have dark hair so use your imagination, OK?

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying at home with the fam? I'm a social butterfly and love to entertain in my home; I also love to spend quiet time with my family!
7. What's your all time favorite movie? "The Sound of Music"
8. Do you sleep in your make up or remove it like a good girl every night? Most of the time I sleep in it; however, I wear mineral makeup so it's not too bad for my skin!
9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it? I can raise the left side of my lip only while raising only my left eyebrow; I desire to learn to play the guitar

10. What's one strange thing you're really good at? Find errors in the printed word on any source of print
11. What first attracted you to your spouse? You really want to know? His butt!
12. What is something you love to smell? Wysteria, Lavendar
13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people. Telling them the details of things, meaning I talk to much!
14. When you have extra money (HA!) what's the first thing you think to do with it? Give it away to some person in need or one of the children we sponsor
15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest? Usually a loud laughter; hearing embarrassing moments, seeing funny videos, listening to my son do imitations
16. Where is your favorite place to shop? Thrift stores/Goodwill/Yard and Garage Sales
17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time? Watercolor paint/scrapbook
18. Are you a big spender or frugal? Fairly frugal, but don't mind spending a lot if it's something we need (like a new roof, major yard work, new used vehicle, etc.
19. Who is your favorite character of all time (from a movie or book)? (Can't be real) Eeyore
20. Would you want to be famous? No, don't want that pressure and everything that goes along with "status"; only would want to be famous in God's eyes by being obedient and by caring for the helpless/poor/orphans/widows

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"We are the World" ~ Part 3

Please meet beautiful 4 ½ year old Mary Stephen Mmari from Tanzania. Mary is the precious child our Thursday evening ladies Bible study group sponsors thorough Compassion International. She and her 2 siblings live in the home with their mother, who sometimes works as a seller in the market. Mary’s job responsibilities in the home for her family are: carrying water, washing clothes, and working in the kitchen. She attends kindergarten and performs at an average level. Mary loves to play with dolls, play ball games and group games. She regularly attends Bible class and church activities.

Mary lives on the plains of Fuka in a house made of mud walls, dirt floors and tin roofs. This area has approximately 5,000 residents. Her diet consists primarily of maize, beans, bananas and potatoes. Common health problems for this area include malaria and typhoid. Most people in the area are unemployed. Those who DO have jobs are subsistence farmers and earn the equivalent of about $26 USD/month. This community needs schools, vocational training, a water supply and access to modern farming equipment and technology.

Because of our $32/month sponsorship (divided by approximately 10 of us that works out individually to be $3.20/month or $38.40/year!), Mary is provided with Bible classes, health screenings, hygiene education, picnics, sports, educational materials, field trips and uniforms.

“…and whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.”
~Matt. 18:5

We send monthly contributions, but that’s not all. We write her as a group on occasion; now we can email individually, and they will translate into her native language and get it to her, saving time and postage money. Any additional monies we send will provide a Christmas gift AND assist her other family members. We are investing in lives that have eternal value! Our investment is minimal; the return of blessings is without measure! The decline in the economy cannot effect what we are doing with Mary; the opportunities she is afforded will mean the difference in eternal life or eternal death for her! Additionally, there will be a ripple effect within her family, and hopefully even in her community. So our $32/month will likely positively impact many lives….all for an annual cost to me of 8 Dollar meals at McDonalds (1 McDouble, 1 small fry and 1 large sweet tea at McDonalds costs $3 + tax. Do that 8 times over 12 months and that equals my portion of the sponsorship for this precious child!) A simple sacrificial expression of love to one so much less fortunate…

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

"…more than 26,500 children died yesterday of preventable causes related to their poverty, and it will happen again today and tomorrow and the day after that. Almost 10 million children will be dear in the course of a year. So why does the crash of a single plane dominate the front pages of newspapers across the world while the equivalent of one hundred planes filled with children crashing daily never reaches our ears?...If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we simply have less empathy for people of other cultures living in faraway countries than we do for Americans. Our compassion for others seems to be directly correlated to whether people are close to us socially, emotionally, culturally, ethnically, economically, and geographically. But why do we distinguish the value of one human life from another?” (p. 107)

“For some reason we are wired in such a way that we can become almost indifferent to tragedies that are far away from us emotionally, socially, or geographically, but when the same tragedy happens to us or someone close to us, everything changes…our problem is that the plight of suffering children in a far-off land hasn’t gotten personal for us. We may hear about them with sorrow, but we haven’t really been able to look at them as if they were our own children. If we could, then we would surely grieve more deeply in our spirits. We would weep for their parents, and we would respond with far greater urgency. How might God think about this issue?...God surely grieves and weeps, because every one of these children is His child—not somebody else’s”. (p. 108-109)

I look into the eyes of precious Roshni and Mary, and even though I’m looking at a photograph of that child, Roshni is a living human being…Mary is a real human being! I read their little letters and see the beautiful drawings they send to us, and my heart literally aches. The same thing happens when I hear from Rahel and Asheber, and Polon, Ashley and Clara. These are real human beings; some I’ve met personally, others I have not. But they are God’s children, just as I am His child. When I see their faces, up close and personal or in a photograph, and read their letters to me, those children, who belong to someone else, become very important to me. Now I know their names and have looked in their eyes. “I come back home, angry at myself, incensed by my own apathy, with a fresh resolve and a renewed passion to crusade on behalf of these kids, to fight for them with every breath in my body”, says Richard Stearns in A Hole In Our Gospel (p. 109). My prayer is that of World Vision’s founded, Bob Pierce: “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

I get weary at times, feeling helpless and frustrated, because I want to do so much more! I want to GO to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopa and meet these precious souls! I want to help my sweet friends—the Oatsvalls, the Mihnovich’s—who are adopting even more children from Africa (The Oatsvalls have 2 already adopted 2 beautiful girls from China and have 2 biological children; the Mihnovich's have 2 biological children, precious Levi from Ethiopia, and are now anxiously awaiting 4 siblings from Ethiopia to be home in Tennessee); countless others I know have/are in process of adopting! It blesses my heart so very much, and drives me to want to work even harder to help those who cannot help themselves.

“Children are not statistics to God” (p. 113).

I keep pressing in, pressing on, and pressing through….holding tight, enjoying the journey, and looking for the prize…the high calling of Jesus Christ.







Monday, October 12, 2009

"We Are the World"...Part 2

I hope you have purchased/ordered A Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns. I am continuing on with information from his book, and how it has/is impacting me.

“Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out;
Your are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
And yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.” (p. 13)
~SAINT TERESA OF AVILA

Richard Stearns notes that Christianity is meant to be spread ~ not through coercion or dictation ~ but through demonstration. Our job is to share the Gospel in ways that others can see, feel, and hear God’s love in tangible ways. It is God’s job to work in people’s hearts to lead them to redemption (p. 18). To use one of my favorite explanations: we are seed planters; God brings about the harvest. We may never be privileged to meet Roshni face-to-face; yet, Roshni knows we love her and care about her well being by the things our monetary support provides for her, coupled with the personal letters (even emails now!) that are translated into her language, and then given to she and her family. I LOVE THAT!

“The true gospel is a call to self-denial. It is not a call to self-fulfillment” (p. 25).
~JOHN MACARTHUR

Remember the story referred to as “The Rich young Ruler” found in Matthew 19? He asks what he must do to get eternal life. Jesus goes on to list things like “do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” He feels pretty good about where he stands with those commands! Strangely the man asks what else he lacks? I believe I would have stopped with the previous answer! So, Jesus then instructs the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give to the poor, and then promised that he would have a treasure in heaven. Then Jesus tells him he is to follow Him. He asked; Jesus told! And the young man wished he had never asked in the first place. The man appeared to be doing all the right things on the outside, but the condition of his heart was not good. His “stuff” meant more to him that his God did. Jesus does not want “part” or “most” of our life; He wants unconditional surrender, no strings attached or conditions placed upon Him (p. 37-39). Here’s something to think about: do you control your possessions OR do your possessions control you?

“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied… But written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.” (p. 95)
~JOHN BERGER

President Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting poverty and disease. After visiting 200 countries, meeting heads of states, and evaluating the chasm that exists between the world’s richest and poorest, he said this:
“…..Citizens of the ten wealthiest countries are now seventy-five times richer than those who live in the ten poorest ones, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them. The results of this disparity are root causes of most of the world’s unresolved problems, including starvation, illiteracy, environmental degradation, violent conflict, and unnecessary illness that range from Guinea worm to HIV/AIDS” ( p. 98).

This speech was given in 2002. Note that, in addressing the greatest challenge the world faces, President Carter did not say 9/11, global warming, HIV/AIDS, global terrorism, ethnic or religious differences, hunger, disease or illiteracy. He stated that it was the “disparity between the rich and the poor”. So do we just accept that it is what it is, and continue down the same paths ~ greedy, selfish, “it’s all about me” mentality ~ OR do we choose to implement changes ~ do we deliberately and willfully choose to follow Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” ? (Mark 12: 30-31)

There has always been a debate over who my/your “neighbor” is; there are as many opinions as they are people. However, opinions are just that! Based on man’s interpretation, prejudices, likes and dislikes…when truly our “neighbor” is whoever Jesus says it is. What does Scripture say about the “who” of our neighbor? There is the story of the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10. Two religious leaders passed the beaten man by, doing absolutely nothing! It was a Samaritan (considered “half breeds” – p. 100) who helped the man! In replying to the question posed to Jesus “who is my neighbor”, He turned the question around on them, and asked which one of the 3 people in the story was a neighbor. Of course, their response was the Samaritan. Then Jesus boldly commanded each of them: “Go and do likewise” (v. 37).

Stearns states: “According to President Carter (the disparity between rich and poor nations) didn’t even exist before 1800. According to Jeffrey D. Sachs, in 1820 the difference in per capita income between the wealthiest region of the world and the poorest was perhaps four to one. Compare that to the 75 to 1 cited by President Carter in 2002. Prior to 1800, disease and inadequate health care were facts of life that affected all people. Lack of clean water and sanitation would have been virtually universal….Illiteracy was common everywhere…perhaps the exception to this was the thousands of missionaries who traveled to other nations to reach out to their neighbors….But for the general public, 3 major impediments stood in the way of anyone wanting to love their distant neighbors, even into the mid-twentieth century: awareness, access, and ability” (pp. 100-101).

Guess what? With the age of the internet, awareness is no excuse anymore. We hear on the radio/TV/internet; we see on the TV/internet/magazines/newpapers. We have the awareness!
Access can no longer be a legitimate reason to do nothing about the poverty around the world. We can be on the other side of the planet in fewer than 24-hours (p. 102). Access is readily available!

“But I don’t have the ability or gifts to do things like this, especially on foreign soil!” God does not need your ability; He simply wants your availability! He used everyday, ordinary, sinful creatures just like us to heal the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry and provide for the poor! Fishermen…murderers…harlots…children…We all have the ability; we may lack in willingness but we have the ability!

“Here is the bottom line: if we are aware of the suffering of our distant
neighbors – and we are – if we have access to these neighbors, either
personally or through aid organizations and charities – and we do – and
if we have the ability to make a difference through programs and technologies
that work – which is also the case – then we should no more turn our backs
on these neighbors of ours than the priest and the Levite should have
walked by a bleeding man” (p. 104).

Let’s read on (p. 104): “Fifteen thousand Africans are dying each day of preventable, treatable diseases – AIDS, malaria, TB—for lack of drugs that we take for granted. This statistic alone makes a food of the idea many of us hold on to very tightly: the idea of equality. What is happening to Africa mocks our pieties, doubts our concern and q2uestions our commitment to the whole concept. Because if we’re honest, there’s no way we could conclude that such mass death day after day would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else. Certainly not North America or Europe, or Japan. An entire continent bursting into flames? Deep down, if we really accept that their lives – African lives – are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out. It’s an uncomfortable truth” (p. 104). Know who said that? BONO! Not some big time church leader, but a rock star, who has fought for the causes of the poor for the last 25-years. I close today with more words from Bono:

“We can be the generation that no longer accepts than an accident of latitude determines whether a child lives or dies – but will we be that generation? Will we in the West realize our potential or will we sleep in the comfort of our affluence with apathy and indifference murmuring softly in our ears? Fifteen thousand people dying needlessly every day from AIDS, TB and malaria. Mothers, fathers, teachers, farmers, nurses, mechanics, children. This is African’s crisis. That it’s not on the nightly news, that we do not treat this as an emergency – that’s our crisis. Future generations flipping through these pages will know whether we answered the key question. The evidence will be the world around them. History will be our judge, but what’s written is up to us. We can’t say our generation didn’t know how to do it. We can’t say our generation couldn’t afford it. And we can’t say our generation didn’t have reason to do it. It’s up to us” (p. 105)

Remember Roshni from yesterday! Please continue praying for her! Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3.

I must leave you with this precious photo of Miss Molly, preparing for her dirt bike ride:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"We are the world..."

There are 6.7 billion people living on the earth! If everyone alive joined hands to make a human chain, it would circle the globe 250 times. Get this! Only 4.5% of the world’s population are Americans (p. 121)~ makes you feel kind of small, eh?

In order to make it more understandable, let’s pretend that the 6.7 people could be represented by one village of just 100 people. This is what that community would look like:

Out of 100 people:
60 would be Asian
14 would be African
12 would be European
8 would be Latin American
5 would be American or Canadian
1 would be from the South Pacific
51 would be male; 49 female
82 would be non-white; 18 white
67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian (p. 121)

I can hear my Daddy saying right now “Now, put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

Let’s divide those7 billion down another way ~ the haves and the have-nots! (i.e. defined by income):

“The average income in America is $38,611 per person or about $105 per day”.

“Compare that to the shocking daily reality of almost half the people on earth:
2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s people) live on less than $2 a day
1.0 billion people (15% of the world’s people) live on less than $1 a day
0.3 billion people (4.5% of the world’s people) live on $105 a day (U.S.A.) (p. 121)

So, $1 a day to more than $100 a day! Is there a disproportion represented by these facts? The average American – that’s most, if not all, of us reading this – makes more that the bottom billion people on earth!

If a portrait were painted of the aforementioned village, how distinctive would we Americans appear?

I am in process of reading perhaps the most consequential book I have read in years ~ The Hole in our Gospel (What does God expect of us? The answer that changed my life and might just CHANGE THE WORLD) by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision U.S.

(I encourage, urge, beg, plead, beseech, implore, entreat, and pray that you will get this book ASAP and read it, share it with your family ~ including your children ~, friends, and church community!!!)

The information cited above and much of what will follow in my posts for the next several days will be from this book, as I share the impact it is having on me. I welcome your comments/feedback anytime, as I am extremely passionate about the disparity that exists between the “poor” and “rich”.

God Himself, the Creator of the Universe and of all people, from Adam until the end of time, said this: “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Deut. 15:11 (bold mine) A command to whom? “You”! That means me and that means you! And is it an option, according to the words from the very breath of God? NO! He says, “Therefore I command you…” Just as the “10 Commandments” are not called the “10 Suggestions”, this passage states authoritatively, as an order (command), that we are to follow. But God…(have I told you how much I love those 2 powerful words)…in His mercy and love allows each of us to choose to obey or defy that command (with resulting blessings or consequences).

Please meet sweet 5-year old Roshni Munda from Tukuria, India. Roshni is the little girl my Tuesday morning ladies bible study sponsors. She lives with her mother and is responsible for running errands. Sometimes her mother works as a laborer. Currently, Roshni does not go to school; however, she loves to play with dolls, jump rope and place hide-and-seek. She does regularly attend church activities.

Tukuria, India is home to about 32,000 people. Most of the houses are made of mud walls, thatch roofs and mud floors. Roshni’s diet consists primarily of maize, potatoes and rice. Many of the children in this area suffer from fevers, malaria and scabies. Most of the adults of Tukuria are unemployed but some are laborers and earn about $23 USD per month. They need potable water, electricity, alcohol rehab programs, and proper sanitation. For our $32/month (through Compassion International) Roshni receives Bible teaching, medical exams, health education, nutritious meals, recreational activities; it also covers her preschool tuition and classes when she can attend. The Hope Child Development Center, of which she is a part, also provides meetings and parental training programs for Roshni’s Mom.

Sweet Roshni is God’s precious child, created in His image, just as you and I are. She is a victim of her circumstances ~ she did not choose to be born in poverty-stricken India. She did not choose how she lives, and has no control over her circumstances. She has NO options. But I DO have options/choices! I have the option to sacrificially give some of my income to help provide a more “normal” life for her! (Note the loose meaning of “normal” compared to our “normal”)! And, that “sacrificially” means perhaps a cup or 2 of Starbucks a month, or one nice dinner out, perhaps a manicure….something for my pleasure that, willingly and sacrificially given, can mean the difference in life and death for this innocent, helpless, child of God! She is only one of millions in need~ the women in my group and I, individually, are only one—helping one--- but never underestimate the POWER of ONE helping ONE! And…the blessing we receive, the warm fuzzy feeling we experience each month, overwhelms us! I believe we, individually and as a group, are receiving as much of a blessing, if not more, than Roshni and her Mom receive. Why? Because “it is more blessed to give than receive” (“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' "-Acts 20:35)…and…it feels good to obey God, knowing the rewards I/we will receive. Luke 6:38 says: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." AMEN!



I close today with the lyrics to “We Are the World” (written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie—USA for Africa)
There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And its time to lend a hand to life

The greatest gift of all
We cant go on pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We are all part of gods great big family

And the truth, you know, love is all we need

Chorus:
We are the world, we are the children We are the ones who make a brighter day So lets start giving

There’s a choice were making
Were saving our own lives
Its true well make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart
So they’ll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stones to bread

So we all must lend a helping hand

Chorus:
We are the world, we are the children We are the ones who make a brighter day So lets start giving

There’s a choice were making
Were saving our own lives
Its true well make a better day
Just you and me

When you’re down and out, there seems no hope at all
But if you just believe there’s no way we can fall
Well, well, well, well let us realize that a change can only come
When we stand together as one

Chorus:
We are the world, we are the children We are the ones who make a brighter day So lets start giving

There’s a choice were making
Were saving our own lives
Its true well make a better day
Just you and me

Thursday, October 1, 2009

'Baaaaaa" - Sheep or Goats Part 2

Yesterday I posed the question: “Are you a sheep or a goat, in terms of your relationship with Jesus?” We compared characteristics of sheep to similar characteristics in humans. Most of us would likely profess to be sheep in the Kingdom of God. Today we will examine some characteristics of goats…maybe, just maybe, some of us may find we are actually more goat than sheep.

Even though they rarely are given credit for being smart and loving creatures, goats ARE very intelligent, curious and loving.

Most of the folks in my concentric circle are smart, loving, and many are very curious ~ especially about the ways and mind of God.

Goats do not pretend to be any other animal; they are goats, and everything they do is “goat like”.

Some Christians personify the purest definition of Christ followers; many others seem to wear the mask of a believer when needed, yet otherwise wear the mask most pertinent and convenient to the circumstances surrounding them.

Young goats, also called “kids”, are raised on a bottle. Kids (kid goats, that is) learn from their mothers, other adults in the herd, and from older kids. If, however, they are bottle fed, they will not learn to eat grain or hay; nor will they learn to drink water as easily. If they have no older goats to learn from and if they are allowed a bottle whenever they are hungry, they will not want to try new foods. So they must be gradually weaned from the bottle and offered other food. Goats love to chew and climb…they hide and get lost…and they are known to head butt and head push.

“Baby Christians” are bottle fed the Word in the beginning, always with the goal of maturing in their walk, graduating to the “meat” of the Word, going deeper, always learning. We need to immerse ourselves in a local church, to fellowship with other believers, to learn and to grow in faith together. We also must discipline ourselves to study of the Word and pray in personal times of respite. If we are only spoon-fed on Sunday morning by the preacher or during a Bible study class, we will never learn to feed ourselves. We are to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8) and that means in a corporate body of worship AND in the alone and quiet times reserved for He and me.

Like goats, we humans ~ yes, even Christians ~ in our carnal states can head butt!

Adult female goats and neutered male goats tend to fight for dominance, by tongue flapping, leg pawing, back arching and squatting.

Sound like any Christians you know? As believers, we are IN the world, but we are not to OF the world, as those who do not claim Christ as Savior and Lord. Even in some churches today the hierarchy of leadership may feel stifled in their ability to lead and/or in competition with other spiritual leaders, which, in turn, might manifest itself in tongue flapping, pawing or back arching! What satisfaction Satan receives through those times, and how dishonoring it is to the Lord!

Baby goats can easily get lost, as they like to hide in small places and lay very still and quiet. Its mothers may be grazing and not even realize one of her kids is lost. Nor is she always quick to go and find that lost one, even if she does miss him/her.

Unlike the mother goat, Jesus always knows where we are, even if we think we are hiding from Him. Ps. 139 tells us that He knows even our thoughts before we think them and our words before we speak them. We are never out of His sight OR His care. He DOES miss us when we wander away, and He will continually try to draw us back to His side. What about the church? Does it notice when someone is lost, or has strayed? Does the church pursue that person and nurture him/her back to the Lord? Or is the church either complacent because it is comfortable OR is it seeking big numbers of attendees to make itself look “mega” or “good”?

Goats love games, and jumping and climbing are some of their favorites. Baby goats climb on their own family, and if they are allowed to climb on another goat, that goat is considered “family”. However, only Mother goats allow their babies to jump on them. No other adult goat in a herd will allow a baby to climb on him/her.

Do you allow other Christians to “climb on your back” and become a part of your family? For believers, climbing on someone (perhaps “walking alongside” would be a better description than climbing) allows both parties to learn from one another, to grow together, to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2) and to hold each other up through good and bad times.

Now, I ask you to reassess your life, and revisit the question: Are you a sheep or a goat, in terms of your relationship with Jesus? Be honest! Only you and God know the answer. Yet, each of us is known by the fruit we produce (or don’t produce) ~ Gal. 5:22 ~ what fruit do others see you producing?

Disclaimer: I realize I have posed some hard questions and made some dogmatic statements. Please know that these are my opinions, based on personal observation, and not meant to condemn, criticize, or least of all judge! Judgment belongs to the Lord. However, I am responsible to be about His business while there is still time, and my heart breaks when I observe so many with “religion” but no “relationship”; with head knowledge but no personal intimacy with their Creator; and worst of all those who have deliberately denounced Him. Allow the Lord to break your heart for what breaks His!

Choose to be blessed this beautiful fall day....and enjoy the precious video below!

"DEER FOR BREaKFAST"



Last, but certainly not least, I must brag a bit: