Tuesday, April 29, 2008

really covered

"don't worry, I got ya covered".....

That's a common saying in our culture, wouldn't you agree? You hear it from your coworkers when you've forgotten your wallet and you're in front of them trying to buy lunch. You hear it when a friend wants to go to dinner and you don't have enough cash on you and not enough time to run to the ATM. Sure, some times "i got ya covered" means "you're in my way...hurry up". But remember how it felt when someone came in when you were really desperate and took care of you? There was a peace, a calm...you caught your breath and you were saved from the moment.
Well, that's what happened the other day at our church...and let me tell you, how it was done was absolutely amazing!
God calls us at all times to be faithful, and to let Him worry about being successful (2 Sam. 10:12) so I cast a vision that I was given and here is what happened. I was urged by the Holy Spirit to run a rather unique tag sale...honest!
I walked through town (with my daughter in the stroller) and asked to put up signs for our benefit tag sale. Each person I spoke to I was given the opportunity to share the joy of the abundance of Christ, and talk of the plight of those who live in areas devastated by malaria. These signs not only advertised our sale, but a number of folks called or just came by with donated goods to assist us. Everyone who gave us us money was given this short little track

A little goes a long way!
……Here’s where your little went today! Each dollar you spent will travel to Tabora, Tanzania in East Africa. That’s over 8,000 miles away from where you are standing. That’s a long way…..

Each dollar will help three children be tested for malaria, and if needed to be treated. The thirty five cents they don’t have to spend will buy food for days….that’s a long way

In rural Tanzania many don’t have the money to pay for testing or treatment…thanks to your help, they do now. Hope came from this little town in Connecticut….that’s a long way…

Every 30 seconds in Africa a child dies from Malaria. There is no need for this at all. Death can be prevented by testing and treatment when they are sick, and illness can be avoided by a simple $5 mosquito net. But for thousands a day, that small bit of hope is too far away…until today. Thank you. The little you spent today reached
__________________ Kids
Why did we run this event? God gave us a little child, Jesus, to bring us a long way back to Him.
In the blank space we calculated how many children could be treated by multiplying what they spent by three...
I wish you could have seen the faces of the hundreds of people who read this...many came back after they had walked to their cars and put more money into the donation jar, many held up the constant line we had and asked more questions. And I am sure, that all went home with a deeper understanding of how much they had, and how thankful they should be for the providence of God...
So what did we raise in our "little" tag sale...
We cleared just over $2,000...that's enough to test and treat 6,000 people...and that is the estimated number of people who die each day in Africa from untreated malaria...
So our little tag sale, in effect, covered the entire continent of Africa for a night... how good is God!
...let us never forget, that it is only by the blood of Jesus that we are covered. God gave more than spare change, He gave his very life.
blessings to you all
...in the love and mercy of the Overseer of our Souls

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

a tight squeeze

The other day I was sharing what I'm doing to help reverse the devastating effects of malaria in Tanzania with a group of high school kids who are chasing after Jesus. They're pretty much new to the faith and have that wild-eyed look of abandon and passion that I'm sure the disciples had when they were accused of turning the world upside down.

So during the meeting, one of the leaders shared a story that hit me on several levels...She was visiting her daughter at college and the two of them caught the train to go out one night. It was rush hour and they were packed in so tight that a number of times they couldn't close the doors. She noticed a man sitting by himself on a triple seat, taking up almost 3/4 of it himself...due to his rather large size (perhaps 400 lbs.). She sat next to him in the remainder of the space and they chatted for the next half hour. They were about to leave when he stopped her and asked "are you a Christian?" Without hesitation she responded yes. "I thought so" he said, "no one ever sits with me." ...when she finished telling the story my mind raced. It had all the classic elements of the parables that Jesus used with the religious elite...the stories of the great-reversals...I was left with these challenges and thoughts and I pass them onto you;
Jesus said don't only love those who are like you (Luke 6:27-32) who am I sitting next to?
Why am i sitting next to them? To show how great I am, or because Jesus has given me a new heart?
Am I called to change, and will I do it...
I praise God for my friend who loves Jesus so much that she says all the time, "change my heart Lord, I want to be more like you"...praise God we worship a savior who took the seat next to us, and not in spite of who we are, but because of who we are...no matter how difficult or uncomfortable the space was.
... "Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing;he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross. Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. "
Philippians 2:3-11

...blessings to you all....get on the bus

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Reflecting the Providence of God

I've been really busy as of late with a program I launched at our church called "One for You". It's pretty simple..
We've got a table in the back of our church where we're learning how to receive and reflect the Mercy and Providence of God. When you receive a gift or purchase a new item, you're asked to bring the one that was replaced into church (if it's in good shape). You place the item you're offering(donating) on the table and pray "Lord, thank you for the new (whatever) I pray that you be with those who have no (whatevers) and remind me that all (whatevers) come from you. Amen...
In this simple act, we acknoldwge that all we have is a gift from God, the Author and Creator of everything in the world...we humble ourselves before the giver of Life...and offer what little we can. We remember that all gifts have their source in Him. With a heart properly oriented, we then can reflect the love and light of Jesus into some pretty dark places...I have a rather wide network of organizations where I bring the offerings...teenage mothers, divorced folks, just off the streets, single mom's doing their best...and man does Hope shine bright when you just show up with the merciful full hands of God.
shine my friends, press deep and shine