I heard a song the other day by Josh Wilson called "Do You Want to Know?". The song talks about asking God to give you a heart of sympathy for the needs of the world, but to realize that once you know about the needs you'll have a desire to do more. This song spoke so strongly to me. I think it's because in recent years I've had my heart and eyes opened to the needs of others in my own community and around the world. And it has completely changed how I live my life.
As Christians God calls us to show love to one another by serving the needs of others. "But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" (1 John 3:17) "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." (Heb. 13:16) "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1Tim. 5:8) "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:14-17)
What confuses me is how some Christians can read those verses and see needs and do nothing. Many Christians talk about how we should be helping our family, friends and neighbors but they take no action. They say they love others but 1 John 3:17 says that if you have the ability to meet a need and don't then God's love is not in you. Their words are empty and mean nothing without action. They may say "I'll pray for you". I think that saying "I'll pray for you" is used too many times as an excuse to take no action to meet a physical need. It is dead faith according to James 2:17. Some Christians say that they love God and others but they don't want to be inconvenienced from their own frivolous spending to show it. If helping others means one less trip to the mall, one less outfit purchased, one less trip to a restaurant, one less day at the amusement park, or one less of aything they want then they're not interested.
Others say "I'm only one person, I can't change the world". Actually all it takes is one person doing one thing to change the world for one other person. This begins a ripple effect of change. Here are just a few of the things that one person can do to impact the world:
$1 can provide clean drinking water for one person for 1 year.
$5 is an entire day's wage in Nicaragua
$8 provides soccer balls and other sports gear
$9 feeds a hungry baby for a week
$10 provides life saving mosquito nets
$15 can provide 3 Bibles
$35 provides loving care for an orphan for a month
$60 can provide a bicycle for a pastor in Africa to travel several miles between villages
As Christians we should start each day asking God to help us see the needs of those around us. Then we must be willing and ready to take action to meet those needs. It's the second greatest command that Jesus has given us...To love one another. Be prepared to be changed when you begin to see the world as God sees. Your desire to do more will increase and you will live each day showing trying to show God's love to others around you. Are you ready to know more?
If you want a heart of sympathy Then pray to God to help you, please
See the world that Jesus sees Yeah
But be careful what you ask Him for Cause if you’re gonna open up that door
There’s no going back to before
Cause once you see a mother who can’t feed The baby that cries in her arms
Your heart will break and you’ll lay awake
No, sleep won’t come quick anymore So do you want to know?
You pass him on the way to work He holds a sign beside the curb
You look away and avoid the hurt Cause why should you be held responsible
Besides, he’ll probably just spend it all On cigarettes and alcohol
But once you see that the man on the street Has a name and a family like you
Your heart will break and you’ll lay awake
Cause you’ll understand God loves him, too
So do you want to know?
If you want a heart of sympathy Then pray to God to help you see
But once you see a world that’s in need And a sorrow you just can’t ignore
Your heart’s gonna break and you’ll lay awake
Cause you’ll know you could do so much more
Do you want to know?
~ Josh Wilson - "Do You Want to Know"
I'm currently participating in a Bible study by Beth Moore entitled "The Patriarchs: Encountering the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." We've spent the last few weeks studying Abraham and his faith to "Go". In Genesis 12, God told Abram to leave his home country and his family and to Go. Not knowing where he was going, he took Sarah and they went. Abram had faith in God's plan for him and Sarah even when he didn't know any of the details of the plan. My family has made several major moves, and most times we had a plan laid out. However, our most recent calling to "Stay" has proved to be the one that has required the most faith.
We have only experienced unemployment twice in 16 years as a couple. The first time it happened in 2003, we picked up and moved from Pennsylvania to Washington State. That move proved to be a major turning point in our relationship as a couple and our personal relationships with God. Most recently, however, we felt that God was telling us to stay when my husband lost his job. This was a new concept for us. Our pattern had always been to pick up and move for better employment and income opportunities. However, God had been doing some major work in our lives over the past 3 years. He was stripping away parts of us, pruning us, molding us, burning the fake off of us and calling us to something bigger. While we knew there was a calling to go into full-time FCA minstry, we had no way of knowing how it would unfold. And to be honest, if I had known all of the spritual attacks, tests and divine interventions we would encounter, I would have probably run in the opposite direction.
We lost the opportunity to purchase a home we loved, had to move out of another house because of lack of heat, lived in a hotel, job opportunity in GA fell through at the last moment, Rich had neck surgery, I had sugery to fix a hole in my diaphragm, Rich was on disability for 6 mths. due to stress & back related issues, we travelled to Nicaragua on a short-term missions trip, moved into a rental home owned by friends that's within walking distance of the kid's schools. Those are just some of the things we've gone through since we first had a desire to join FCA 3 years ago.
While many of those things were not fun or enjoyable to go through, they each were used by God to prepare us for this next chapter. When you are living in a hotel, you lose the desire for aquiring material possessions. When a loved one is ill, you forget your own selfish desires and focus on them. When your door to "worldy success" is closed by God, you redefine success in God's terms and see His plan. When you are living on an extremely tight budet, you separate needs from wants. When you travel to another country and see the poverty and devastation, you realize that filling our lives with stuff is such a waste of God's blessings. You begin to look outside of yourself and see the needs of those around you. But just seeing it won't be enough...you'll have to do something!
When we felt God telling us to "Stay" in Ohio and fulfill His calling on our family, our minds were filled with the normal human questions. Questions like "What about money to pay bills & buy food?" How are we gonna be able to afford another car?" "How can we pay for gas in the cars?" "How is FCA gonna work?" "Is God really telling us to stay?" We are finding that each step of faith in obedience is drawing us closer to God and His plan. God has supplied every one of our needs and at just the right time. His blessings are confirming to us that we are exactly where we need to be.. As we continue to be obedient to Him, His grace gives us the ability and power to do His will.
A week before Christmas, while driving to church, the transmission messed up in the blazer. It was my car and I was not thrilled!! Since it was so close to Christmas we just put off having it checked out until after the holidays. We were down to one vehicle, so I didn't schedule any work assignments for myself. With all of the other activities it was just too hard. Instead I used the month of January as a time to do some organizing & planning my goals for 2012.
About mid-January we finally had the blazer towed and checked out. The verdict was that the transmission was caput and would need replacing. That wasn't something we wanted to do or could afford to do right now. So we continued to pray about another vehicle. Hubby received a text message from a friend telling him to see him at church the next morning about the blazer. This friend had an Acura that he wanted to sell to us for a very small price!!! It needed a little repair work, but the costs were covered by selling the blazer to a junkyard. It is so great to have a second car again....especially one that gets such great gas mileage!! We feel so blessed to be a part of a church family who is open, willing and ready to help others. We are so thankful to God for his provision for us and want to shout his praises for all to hear.
And that's where this bog originally ended, but God was still working on another blessing. We should have known that He wasn't done yet. Especially when we know that he "does exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever ask or think".
Last week we got a call that another friend had a van that they wanted to give to our family!! I've never experienced anything so generous in my life. We were speechless and still don't have the words to describe how thankful we are to this family for their willingness to live out Scripture.
God uses things in our lives and works them out for His glory and our good!! Even something as frustrating as dead blazer becomes a blessing!! So as you go through your daily struggles or trials, and wonder how things will ever come together.....Remember "Nothing is impossible with God".
Valentine's Day is only one of 365 days that we get to celebrate our love for each other. I can't afford lavish gifts or special outings to say "I love you!". Trips to fancy restaurants don't fit in our shoestring budget. Our Valentine's Day celebration will include pizza and 3 hours of Upward basketball practice with our kids. I consider myself blessed to be spending it with you, my valentine!! This Valentine's Day I want you to know how much I love you.
First and foremost I love your heart for God and your desire to serve Him with your life. I love your desire to raise our children to be godly young men & women. You show your love to me in simple but profound ways everyday. You continue to love me through my moodiness and emotional days, even when you don't understand them. You defend my honor against negative comments, even when you told me that my words would be twisted or misunderstood.
I love how you show our boys the importance of responsibility and hard work and doing everything with excellence. I love how you show our daughter how a man should love a woman and honor her with his words. You teach our boys to respect their mother, sister and other females in their lives. I love your sensitivity to the needs of others and how you humbly serve them with joy.
On this 17th Valentine's Day that we have celebrated together, I thank God that he brought us together under the most unlikely of circumstances. I love you my valentine.
This month is a big month for me. It is the month that I turn 40. And to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it. I've actually told my chlildren that instead of turning 40, I will now start going backwards. So this year I will go from 39 to 38!!
What is it about turning 40 that's difficult for me? I think it's the way the number sounds in my mind. Forty! Or maybe it's the thoughts I have from my younger years when 40 seemed like it was so old. Forty!! Possibly it's because of the dreams I had of who I would be at 40. Childhood dreams of the perfect life with the perfect family living in the perfect house in the perfect location. Forty!!! When I think of a 40 year old woman, I think of someone who is distinguished, wise, successful and a mentor. Do any of those words fit who I am as I turn 40? My first thought is "No, not even close". But then God says, "Really?Look again and see who you are because of Me".
Am I distinguished? The dictionary defines distinguished as "characterized by excellence or distinction; a difference or contrast, a separation" As Christians we are called to be set apart from the world, to look different and to behave differently. But what is at the heart of that difference? It's walking in His presence daily. John 15:4-7 tells us that we are to remain in Jesus and His words then He will remain in us. Walking each day in Jesus' presence distinguishes me from others who are walking through this same day.
What about wise? James 1:5 says "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives generously and upbraideth not". God says he will give His wisdom to those who seek Him. As I seek God daily in all areas of my life I gain more of His wisdom. I learn that a wise woman builds her home, listens to God's instructions and discerns right from wrong. To be a godly wife and mom I must consistently seek God's wisdom.
In worldy terms I would not be considered as successful. I do not have enough of the right material possessions or prestige. But I do not define success like the world does. My definition of success has more to do with being obsessed with Jesus Christ and His plan for me. Success is using my time and talents to honor God and serve Him. Using the resources that I have been given to have eternal impact. Success is living each day pleasing to God.
I'm a mom and a volunteer but am I really a mentor? A mentor is a teacher, counselor or person of influence. I am a mentor to my children. I am a mentor to the kids that I work with at church. I am a mentor to anyone that I share my story with. The story of God's love, sacrifice, provision, and deliverance. We are all mentors to someone. There is someone out there that is watching us. As Christians, how we live each day has an influence on another's view of Jesus.
As I officially turn 40 on the 17th of this month, I will do so knowing that I am just beginning to know God's plan for my life. Only in Christ, am I distinguished, wise, successful and a godly mentor. I will surrender the rest of my days to Him and His transforming power in my life. And as for those childhood dreams of the perfect life....the reality of God's perfect plan for me is exactly what my heart desires.
January was a great month of renewing for my spirit, my body and my mind. I had planned to take a few days at the beginning of the month to focus on my roles as a Christian woman, a wife, a mom & a part-time professional. My purpose was to try to realign my focus and streamline my daily to do's. God took those few days along with the rest of January to show me so much more.
As I was evaluating my roles as a Christian woman, God showed me that other things were taking up too much of His time. I was allowing ample time for TV & internet but not spending enough time studying His Word. It takes time to go deeper in God's Word and to listen to what he's trying to speak to me. I couldn't do that in the few minutes that I had set aside each morning. As I looked at my role as a wife, God showed me that I needed to spend more time praying for my husband and being his support. It takes godly wisdom to know when to listen, when to encourage, and when to speak truth in love. As a mom, God has given me the great responsibility to train and discipline the children He has given to me. Sometimes I was allowing behaviors to continue that shouldn't because it was "too hard" or "too exhausting" to confront an issue. At times I chose temporal peace over eternal training. In my part-time work I was taking on too many assignments and allowing the stress to affect my relationships with the rest of the family. Even though my intention was to work extra to benefit the family it was having the opposite affect. I was trying to "help" God provide for our family. I knew I needed to set aside certain days for doing assignments and not let it interfere with my real job as a wife & mom.
While January was a time of focus and renewing of my purpose, God has shown me that as a Christian renewing my mind should happen every day. Romans 12:1-2 says:
"I appeal to you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living scrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
This passage confirms for me that in order to follow God's will for my life, I need to know what His will for me looks like. And that will can only be known when I read His Word and allow Him to change me. This is not externally focused change. This is inside-out transformation. We are called to be "Christians whose consciences, minds, and inner man is captive to the Word of God because the Christian life flows from a renewed inner man".
This passage also shows me that I have not been giving God whole-life worship. I need to give myself totally to Him. That means every thought, every action, every word, and every want need to be given to God. I need to die to myself and surrender it all to Christ. Dying to self is not just a one-time thing when we get saved. It is a daily choice to die to our flesh and follow Christ. He doesn't want just our heart. He wants ALL of us.
So in 2012, my goal is to spend each day glorifying God in everything that I do.
I know it's just the beginning of February but the countdown to summer has already begun at my house. We currently have 76 days of school until summer vacation begins. Thanks to a later start to the 2012-2013 school year our summer break will be 3 months and 3 days long. That's 94 days to enjoy family life without worrying about a schedule. Well at least not a school schedule. With football players in the house there will be lots of football stuff going on. I also learned several years ago that we still need a daily routine to make the days more enjoyable. Otherwise the house is a mess, the kids are irritable from too many video games and not enough sleep and mom finds herself needing some Calgon to take her away several times a week. So we still do a few chores each day, monitor the time spent playing the Wii or Xbox, visit the pool a few times a week and get lots of sleep.
Last summer we had the opportunity to do several things with our church both locally and overseas. We also had lots of down time to watch movies, play games and go to the pool. It was one of the best summers that we had ever experienced as a family. I think that's because we had a good balance between serving - working - playing. So this summer my plan is to be intentional with our activities and live each day with the purpose of glorifying God.
One of the highlights of our summer will be missions trips. This year my husband, myself and our 14 yr old will be travelling with a group from our church to Managua, Nicaragua. Last year we went and took our oldest. It made a huge impact on all three of us. This year our oldest will be travellng to Haiti with a group of youth and adults from our church. We will also be doing other outreach projects within our local area. I want my children to be willing to serve others here and in other countries. I am very thankful that my children are reaching the age where these types of family projects are possible.
Another highlight of our summer is Vacation Bible School. I absolutely love working with the kids during VBS. It's exhausting work planning and prepping for the week. However, sharing the love of Jesus with children is a life-changing experience for me and the kids. In VBS four summers ago my daughter accepted Christ. So VBS is very special to me.
One thing that a friend challenged me to do was to get to know my neighbors and to pray for them. Get to know them so you can celebrate the great things in their lives and be a support to them in the tough times. Pray for an opportunity to share Jesus with them. I believe when God says "Go into all the world" he's not just talking about going to a foreign country. He wants us to be his missionaries in our own backyards. I'm excited to take on this challenge and .
What about you? Is there something you and your family can plan to do this summer that will make an impact for Christ? Does your church need VBS volunteers? What about helping in a small group and giving the regular teacher a Sunday or two off? Do you know your neighbors? Are there needs you can meet?
It's not too soon to begin looking for things that you and your family can do this summer to make it more than just a vacation full of lounging by the pool and sleeping in.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.