Saturday, November 12, 2011


"Go hungry, so children don't have to." That was the challenge brought before our church. Honestly I was excited to be a part of a body that was coming together in sacrifice and determination to meet an immediate need for starving children. I'd never received that kind of invitation before. Of course I have heard requests for fundraising, been solicited to donate or help out people in need, but this was different. This was the first time I felt like I was given an invitation to truly participate, and get a (very small)glimpse into their need.

Neal and I are World Vision sponsors. We sponsor two different children, a boy, Jose, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and a girl, Rahel Juju who lives in Tanzania. Each of them are the same ages as Ethan and Victoria respectively. We do help these children, our support makes their world different, and World Vision is an amazing organization. At our church our pastor is currently doing a series on the book "A Hole in Our Gospel," which is written by the president of World Vision, Richard Stearns. But the fact is, I don't even see my payment go to World Vision. It's an automatic payment that it withdrawn monthly from our bank account, it's just a part of our budget, and I don't even give it much more consideration than being aware of it when I balance our checking account. It by no means diminishes what the money does for those children, but I am realizing it has diminished what it does in my heart.

It was only for 24 hours. Eat an early dinner on Thursday night and a late dinner on Friday, and honestly it was only two meals we were asking to say "no" to. The goal was to take whatever money you would have spent on eating out or groceries and donate it to feed children in the Philippines instead.

I was excited because for the first time in 20 years Neal wanted to participate in a fast. I was so excited when I looked over in church a couple weeks ago and saw him check the box. The truth is, the things we've been hearing on Sunday mornings lately have been stirring both our hearts. We're coming to realize that maybe our faith hasn't been all it could be. Maybe in the "circle" of our lives, we were a little more center than either Christ or others, and that is, in essence, the HOLE in our gospel.

We decided to participate as a family. Giving up food isn't easy. Headaches, crankiness, but we were being asked to catch a glimpse, a tiny little glimpse of what millions experience daily. I couldn't have my 9 and 10 year old go to school without food. The reality is, I don't think the school would allow them to go the whole day without. I have on more than one occasion been charged for a $6 "emergency meal" because my kids forgot their lunches on the counter at home. So the children's breakfast and lunch were going to be rice and a little but of canned tuna. It was the closest I could come up with to be the equivalent of what the kids in feeding centers are finding to be a blessing and a bounty. I was hoping to create a little gratitude in the heart of my kids. As for their part in the challenge, the children's ministry was participating in a canned food drive for local families who are battling their own form of famine and need.

There were two things that really stuck with me about the day yesterday. The first was late Thursday night when I was preparing the bowls of rice for my kids. As I tried to find a balance of not giving them "too much" to diminish the insight for them, I thought about what it must be like for the mother finds herself wondering how to find enough. Here I was trying to figure out how not to give my kids too much. I can't imagine what it must be like trying figure out how to make something from nothing.

The second thing that really struck me was how hard it was to avoid food. Jacob came to work with Neal and I that day, and the thing I was most aware of was how much food there was to say no too. There was popcorn and chips to choose from on top of the refrigerator, a salad and yogurt inside of it. There was a box of Gingerbread Men in my desk drawer that I joked about them mocking me all day. It was hard to avoid food. I can't even begin to comprehend what it is to live in so much lack like the children we were trying to help.

I'm a little embarrassed to admit the revelation I was having. I'm not a cold-hearted or insensitive person. I DO care, that's why we are World Vision Sponsors, but my compassion lacked awareness. I'm excited to be a part of a place where I'm not allowed to be blinded to the needs of others any longer. There is pain in opening eyes to a light that it has been shaded from for many years, but it is better to see. Because only when we see can we make a difference. I feel like yesterday, my and my family's eyes were opened a little further to the truth of the needs of the world around us. I just pray I keep them open.

We when we gathered to break fast with communion last night, all of us were challenged to pray a prayer, "Break my heart, with what breaks Yours, Lord." I am praying that prayer now, and I hope it makes me a better tool in the hands of God to touch the world for Jesus. A small group of people raised enough money in a single day with a modicum of sacrifice to feed 185 children for a month! Why wouldn't we want to do that more?? We have the power to change the world, in Jesus' name!

The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern.

Proverbs 29:7

*** Want to help feed a starving child? Check out where you can click on "give" and designate to "Manna" or consider sponsoring a child at***

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Have you ever eaten so much that you made yourself sick? Have you had the kind of meal that you ate so far beyond your capacity that it incapacitated you? Maybe a Thanksgiving dinner? Or a potluck? You've stuffed yourself full and you know you should stop but you don't? Have you ever made it your lifestyle? To the point that every time you step on the scale you've found the numbers going up a pound or two?

Physically, I think we've all done at least the meal. Some people like me can relate to fighting to overcome the bad habits of the lifestyle. Fat people live and eat differently than "naturally" thin people. For the thin, food is fuel, a stop in the road. For the fat, food is a destination, a place to get to. Whether you are fat or thin in body, you are one of these types of people in your head. You may have the will to overcome it, you may counter it as best you can with exercise and movement or by limiting what you take in, but if you are "fat-minded" food is still a destination and not a pit stop, and that means there is a problem, to be specific, a sin problem.

The food itself isn't the evil (truly thin people do not find themselves consumed with the count of every calorie, carb or fat gram.) The "evil" lies in the control that the food holds over us. It's the hidden spiritual issue that needs to be overcome, and probably why God listed "gluttony" as one of the seven deadly sins. I don't think He was expressing a concern about diabetes or high cholesterol, I think he was addressing "heart disease," and I don't just mean physically.

The tightening in my waistline has made me very aware of the physical ramifications of that kind of the fat-minded person's lifestyle, but only recently have I seen the depths of living that way spiritually. And I know I'm not the only one. Spiritually speaking it isn't "food" that makes us fat, but like the overeaten meal on Thanksgiving Day, it's the overabundance that incapacitates us. I think of Jesus' interaction with the rich young ruler in the gospel of Luke chapter 18:

18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”[a]
21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

I think this young man was spiritually "fat." He had stuffed himself so full, that he couldn't even move. He wanted to follow Jesus, but his overabundance of "satisfaction" kept him from being able to get off the couch.

I think when we get spiritually "fat" we lay aside our commission to become "fishers of men" and turn ourselves into keepers of an aquarium. Forgive the multitude of metaphors here, but we become so satisfied with what's on our own table, and in our own bellies, that we become completely oblivious to the starving just outside our door. And when I say starving, I refer both to those starving physically and those starving spiritually.

I don't think it's intentional, but I think it is the risk we run here in the American church with our abundance; and the "heart disease" that comes from spiritual gluttony is a huge issue we need to overcome. We sit and thank God for our bounty, but our memory of what it was to be hungry (physically and spiritually speaking) is so completely faded, that we don't really appreciate what we have. And instead of being satisfied with "enough," we overindulge, and even suffer a consequence for it with a stagnation that is easily ignored if you find yourself surrounded by other "fat-minded" people.

It's then that we become "aquarium keepers" rather than the "fishers of men" we were called to be. We get focused on wrong things. First off, we forget that what we "have" isn't really ours, and was never intended to lull us into a place of complacenncy. We get to thinking of ourselves as owners rather than stewards. Like in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), what God has given to us was intended to be multiplied. Not for the purpose of us having more, but for the purpose of furthering of His kingdom.

There is a need to become "spiritually thin." In Hebrews 12:1 the Bible tells us "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us I think God is calling us to thin out, and cease to overindulge. We need to remember what it is to be spiritually hungry.

I know I have a habit of not allowing myself to find physical hunger, but only recently have I begun to realize how much I have been too "satisfied" spiritually for too long. One of the most obvious ways to realize you are "fat" is to be surrounded by thin people. Never am I more aware of my thick waistline than when I am standing next to a thin friend for a photograph. Likewise, what I am finding, is that when you enter into a place of "spiritually thin" people, it magnifies your awareness of being spiritually fat as well.

God has brought me into a place where I am suddenly surrounded by the spiritually thin (and interestingly enough, many of them seem pretty fit and thin physically as well) and all I can think is how much I want to get to that place. I want to get to the place where I am focused on fishing men, looking outside the confines of my aquarium.

I want to find my way back to physically thin, but never have I realized the need to get there spiritually as well. I want to touch the world for Christ, and point people to the cross. There's a world starvig out there, and it's time to get off the couch and do something about it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

100 Verse Challenge - Week 9

Super excited to still be here in week 9 learning the Word of God with those of you who are joining in with me. I look forward to Sunday each week finding out what the new verses of focus will be. I have a spiral notebook of index cards that I write my verses out in each week. I try to keep it with me regularly. When I'm driving it's in my center console so I can practice it with my kids. It's always part of our morning routine on the way to school. I also take it in and place it on my desk when I am work every day. It's an excellent way for me to practice the verses continually. This week as I was flipping through pages, it was exciting to realize that I've hidden these verses in my heart. I may not be able to memorize every single one verbatim, chapter and verse, but it's close. It was also fun when I was doing some reading along with my Bible reading that several verses in the commentary were familiar to me because of this Challenge. I hope everyone else participating is enjoying the experience as much as I am.

This week in 100 Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart we are going to be memorizing and meditating on the last 2 verses in the section titled "Listening: The Word of God and Prayer." As has been the case on occasion in previous weeks, this week's two verses are consecutive, and so they will be written out as a single passage. If it's easier for you, feel free to break them up as the two individual verses, but be aware that they do go hand in hand. So here's our passage (2 verses) for this week:

Now this is the confidence we have before Him:
whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
And if we know that He hears whatever we ask,
we know that we have what we have asked Him for.

1 John 5:14-15

I think it's important to point out a particular phrase in this week's passage, ...according to His will. So often these days I hear a preaching of what has been come to known as the "Prosperity Gospel;" it is the name it and claim mentality of a lot of Christians. "Speak it as it is so," which I personally find to be a set up for disappointment in believers and a stumbling block for blaming God when people don't get the answers they to their prayers that they hope for. But it's clear from this passage that a huge prerequisite to God hearing and answering our prayers is that they are lined up with God's will.

Robert J. Morgan talks in the 100 Verses book about the importance of realizing that every prayer should in addendum speak a silent "if it be Your will." It is good to understand that our own perspective is limited, and therefore we should be willing and active in our efforts to defer to the leadership of the Father who knows exactly what the right answer is for our prayers, as Morgan puts it because "His perfect,providential oversight makes no mistakes and always results in the best for His children." Isn't that an exciting revelation??