The news the past couple of weeks has been full of stories of organizations taking stands for traditional marriage or for gay marriage. Social networking is all a buzz with opinions and calls to boycott or show support. There are certain places I personally have chosen to not shop at because of what they support. When a store prints a catalog with openly gay advertisement & chooses an openly gay spokeperson as the face of their company, then that store will not get my business. Just like a company that openly supports Christian values & principles will get my business. Based on financial reports, I'm not the only one who has made that choice. However, when we get caught up in the emotion and frenzy of joining boycotts or support rallies we can miss something very important....The Gospel.
Have you ever thought about what it's like to be your friend, your spouse, your co-worker, or your neighbor? Have you ever wondered how your presence affects those around you? We all have people in our lives that encourage us and inspire us. We also have those people who continually drain us or irritate us. There are those whose temperament causes us to constantly walk on eggshells because we don't have a clue how our actions will affect them today. There are some who we enjoy spending time with because they uplift us as a mom or friend. Then there are those who are never happy no matter what we do for them. When I think about the people in my life, it's fairly easy to see how their presence affects me and my mood. But what about me? How does my presence affect those around me?
Of course we all want to think that we are always great friends, loving spouses and helpful neighbors. We've all done something nice for a co-worker or family member and wished they would do something half as nice for us. As a wife and mom, I can find myself focusing on all that I do for my family and forget how my attitude impacts them. But if I am honest with myself, I know that there are many times when my presence brings stress and frustration to them.
When I start barking orders and allow my selfish desire to just vent come before showing love, I negativley impact the climate of my home. When I expect my family's love to fill the void that only God can fill then I negatively impact the climate of my home. When I don't listen to my children share their feelings because I'm too tired or too distracted, I negatively impact the climate of my home. When I'm not consistent with my daily study of God's Word, then I negatively impact the climate of my home. When I choose to let an issue slide because I want to avoid conflict, then I negatively impact the climate of my home. However, I can also have a positive impact on the climate in my home as well.
When I take time to do devotions with my children, it has a positive impact on the climate of our home. When I use kind words and remind others what God expects of us in certain situations, it positively impacts those around me. When I joyfully serve and put others first, it has a positive impact on the climate of my home. When I start everyday soaking up God's Word and taking every care and concern to Him, then I positively impact the climate of my home.
Our presence will have some kind of impact on those around us. It's our choice as to what we want that impact to be. Do we want people to feel uneasiness or dread when we walk through the door? or do we want them to experience joy and encouragement while they are with us? Do we suck the life out of others or do we
I heard a pastor challenge his congregation to ask 3 people to honestly answer this question: What's it like to be on the other side of me? And when you ask it, you don't get to defend yourself, argue with the person or explain anything. Just listen to what they have to say. I'm gonna do it and I challenge you to do the same. Let's see what it's really like to be around us. Just be prepared for answers you may not like.
Well, I did it. I went 24 hours with no food. The first 8 hours were easy because I was sleeping. The second 8 hours were not too bad. I was on an outing with some kids from our church and was too busy to really think about food. During lunch, one of the kids asked me what I brought for lunch and I shared with him that I was doing a 24 hour hunger strike. Of course then all of the kids wanted to hear about it. It was great opportunity to share with them why I chose to go without food.
The final 8 hours of the strike were very difficult. I had to go to the grocery store to get food for my kids for dinner. Everything looked so good and the bakery smelled wonderful. I also started getting a migraine headache. The headache caused me to be extremely nauseous. I was also very tired and had no energy. So I decided to lay down and take a nap. When I woke up from my nap, my headache was worse but I couldn't take medicine on an empty stomach. As I dealt with the pain and nausea, I wanted to just give in and eat. About 10:00 pm, I even cooked my dinner so I could eat. But as it was cooking, I kept thinking about the moms in East Africa and in other countries that deal with hunger everyday.
I could picture them in my mind and see their faces of desperation. I thought about how they must deal with the physical affects on their bodies while continuing to care for their families. I knew that I had to continue the strike until midnight. I didn't do it because it makes me a better person or so I could add some accomplishment to my list. I did it because I wanted the famine in East Africa to become personal to me. Because when an issue becomes personal to us then we do something about it.
I can sponsor other people, buy t-shirts or make donations to help someone else's cause. But when I do that, it doesn't become personal to me. I can make my contribution and then just move on with my life and never really think about the issue again. However when I experience hunger or see the devastation of poverty firsthand, I am forever impacted.
I am reminded of Jesus' commands in the Bible regarding our love for the poor and hungry. 1 John 3:17-19 says But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him--how can God's love be within him ? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord. James 2:14- 17 says 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. Matthew 25: 34-46 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
Matthew 25 is a very clear command to the Christian. When we help the poor and needy we are really serving Christ. The seond half of that passage is even more important. When we see someone hungry or in need and do nothing, then we are rejecting Christ and His commands.
Is there a need that God is calling you to meet but you have been putting it off or trying to ignore it? Is there something you can do to make an issue personal to your life? I challenge you to stop waiting and do somethingtoday to .
At midnight tonight, I will begin a personal 24 hour hunger strike to help bring awareness to the famine in East Africa. In August 2011, The Hunger Strike made a committment to send 100,000 nutritious meals and fund a missionary in East Africa to share the love of Jesus. In the past year 90,000 meals have been packaged and sent. On September 5th, the final 10,000 meals will be packed at a packing party in Maryland.
Each day leading up to that event, one person will choose to go without food to bring awareness to the current crisis in East Africa. I chose to participate because my children have never had to go hungry. There has always been food on our table. I can't imagine the grief and anguish that a mother experiences when there is no food to feed her children. The agony of watching each day as your child slowly starves to death.
If my going without food for 24 hours can help just one other mom feed her children then it will be well worth the temporary stomach growling and hunger pangs. If we all do something, no matter how small we think it is, then we can make a difference in East Africa.
The Hunger Strike is fulfilling their mission of serving Jesus by feeding the hungry. Join me and help them make a difference for the people of East Africa. You can make a donation to the hunger strike here. Or if you want to sign up for your own personal hunger strike, there are still dates available. www.thehungerstrike.org/signup
I would like to ask you to please pray for me as I go the next 24 hours without food. Please pray that the final 10,000 meals will be funded before the packing party on September 5th.
Last night as my kids were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, they were discussing who was going to grow up to be the best looking. They were talking about who was thinner, who had the best looking facial features and what other people liked about their appearance. It was a wonderful opportunity for a quick lesson on what God says about outward appearance. So I decided to join their conversation and remind them what the Bible says.
One thing that I continually try to teach my children is that when you focus solely on the outward appearance and spend no time focusing on your character then you are just a pretty face that is worthless. 1 Samuel 16:7 says "But the Lord said to Samuel. "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward apperance, but the Lord looks on the heart." Someone's outward appearance cannot predict whether they will be faithful to the Lord. Our willingness to be obedient to God comes from our hearts. The word "heart" in the Bible means our moral and spiritual life. This includes our emotions, will and reasoning.
As a parent, of course I want my kids to take showers and wear clean clothes. I want them to use manners and behave a certain way in public. I want them to excel athletically and academically. But that cannot be my primary focus. That cannot be my ultimate goal......for my kids to make me look good in public! I need to go deeper and work towards a more eternal goal...Godly character. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 says "Have nothing to do with irreverent silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." If we only care about our physical bodies then we are wasting our time here on earth. If we care more about what we know than who we know then there is a problem.
Spriritual training of ourselves and our children is hard, exhausting, grueling and painful. And many times, we are training right alongside of our children. That training has value now and in eternity.The saying "No pain, No gain" is used often when talking about physical exercise. I think it applies to spiritual training as well. When we say "No" to our will and "Yes" to God's will it can be painful. When we say "No" to our fleshly desires and "Yes" to God's plan it can be painful. When we endure trials, we can become weak and weary. But if we perservere, our endurance will produce a step-by-step transformation of our character that makes us more like Christ. And that's what really matters to God.
It's easy to become preoccupied with labels, styles and trends. But as Christians our focus must be on becoming more like Christ in every area of our lives. Are you setting aside time each day to train spiritually? If not, then your character will be underdeveloped and weak. You will be an easy target for the devil's attacks and ineffective for the kingdom.
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.