Children typically love to sit in their parent’s lap. My little one who is four is super-active and can be found running all over the place. But it also amazes me, with all that energy, how still he sits in my lap, and for how long he is happy to stay there. What does he […]
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My friend Melissa invited me to meet with her at a restaurant in an area of the city with which I was unacquainted, so I programmed it in to my phone to use the navigation system. Using its navigation system has always been risky because my phone only has access to data when I am at home on my WIFI; I have had problems with the program losing access to the directions in the middle of a place I did not know, leaving me to fend for myself. My husband suggested I take his phone instead, to avoid that problem this night. I happily took his suggestion…and his phone.
As I began my drive, I heard the comforting voice of the GPS navigation lady telling me to turn right. A few seconds later, I heard the muffled voice of my phone’s GPS navigation lady telling me to go a different direction. I guess I had…
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Is there a problem in this world that needs your help? Is it bigger than you can conquer?
I remember when I heard about the great devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast. It made me want to do something. What I wanted to do was pick up and go down for a long time to help people rebuild and recover, but I was only one thirty-year-old woman who didn’t really know anything about disaster relief…at all. So what could I do? Where could I start? I really did not know, so I did nothing.
I sat and did do nothing…until Pastor Ian from my church asked the congregation for volunteers to help out with answering phones to help the Red Cross raise funds for disaster relief for the victims of the hurricane. That was something I could do. It was better than doing nothing, so I signed up for answering calls early in the morning along with Ian and another friend, Shannon, from our fellowship group. We went to the radio station and jotted down payment information for the phone call donations that came in. After our time was over, Pastor Ian, Shannon and I went to McDonalds for a coffee and breakfast, and a talk that would maybe change the course of all of our lives a bit.
We sat and discussed how satisfying it was to help. But I still couldn’t shake the idea that I didn’t do much that day, I wanted to do more. But how? I expressed this nagging thought to my friends, and they thought about that, too.
A month or two passed. Surely it was beyond the time I could be helpful there. Then one day, Pastor Ian announced that they made a connection with churches working down in Mississippi. These churches had been bringing the needed food in to hurricane survivors and were going to be moving on the colossal task of gutting houses and rebuilding. Our church was going to send a team down. I made a deal with God. I would go down if He would work out my schedule to go. In another month or two, I gave my notice at work for a different purpose—to move to another state out West. Before I left, however, I would take a week to fulfill my vow to God to go to Mississippi. A group from our church would soon be going again to help for a week, and I signed up to go. My friend Shannon from our church group had already quit his job to go down indefinitely.
When I went down, we all worked very hard. The devastation was great even several months after the disaster, and the need of people tugged on my heart. I had planned on moving to South Dakota in another couple of weeks for ministry there, but I ended up taking a longer detour to help with the immediate needs on the Gulf Coast. The parable of the Good Samaritan came to my mind…how could I pass by the desperate need here to go on to another “call of God”?
I spent half a year serving with awesome people, hundreds coming in every week from all over the United States to help, some there for a little longer than others, and all bringing a lot of hope to a largely devastated group of hurricane survivors. We gutted, repaired, painted, dry walled and roofed houses and reminded people of the goodness of God.
Is there a need in this world that is knocking on the door of your heart? Don’t be afraid of its size. Dream big and don’t despise small starts. Just do something toward meeting that need. Answering phones was not how I had envisioned helping, but it planted a seed. That was the beginning toward doing what was on my heart to do, though the problem of how to get there seemed insurmountable.
A little step can lead to another, and another, until you are actually making an impact on the world around you in the way that you had dreamed. And others will follow. The breakthrough you bring will bring others around you who can go beyond that door you’ve pushed through. Pastor Ian’s connection to the disaster relief in Mississippi brought Shannon through that door– he stayed there helping in disaster relief efforts for a long time. Eventually Ian’s efforts brought me through as well, not to mention many, many other members of the church who were able to tangibly help bring healing to a hurting place.
In the book of Zechariah, chapter 4 (of the Bible), the prophet Zechariah has a God-given vision of what was happening in the spiritual realms in Jerusalem. In reality their city was in devastation– they had returned from captivity to rebuild what had been great once and now stood in ruins. Their leader, Zerubbabel, had laid the foundation of the temple in Jerusalem, but people were feeling overwhelmed with the task ahead. Could it even be done? Would what they could do even make a difference in Jerusalem and to the temple? Then an angel asked Zechariah “Who despises the day of small things?” Were they despising the little bit they had begun? Possibly—it is easy to do! God encouraged them; the temple would be rebuilt–even in Zerubabbel’s life time.
How would that happen? “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” And that is for us, too. How will we ever accomplish bringing change for good to this world when so much is against us? Not by might, nor by power. Just by the Mighty Spirit of our Great God. That’s all. Don’t despise the day of small things.
“When you sit to dine with ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies for that food is deceptive.”–Proverbs 23: 1-3 (NIV)
Our culture is not a more self-restrained one. And yet, that is exactly what this Proverb is promoting–the fruit of the Spirit of self-control. What do we do when we are around wealth and things that we do not have? Do we crave those things? Or are we content in the face of what we do not have?
Well, this Proverb says it is better to put a knife to your throat than to crave the delicacies of a king. That is some seriously opinionated view! Why do you think that is?
I believe that God will bring us to places of influence. But if we lose focus on…
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Dear Native American/ First Nations Friends, and to those who do not want to call me friend,
I am writing this because I felt that God was saying this was necessary. There are more wounds than what I will say, but these are the wounds I will address on behalf of Christians in America.
Please forgive my nation. Forgive us for believing that our culture was superior to your own. Forgive the Christians in this nation for forcing our culture on you and saying it was God’s way. For not being wise enough to discern what was our culture from what was God’s way even though we had been shown grace when our peoples first became Christians—this was when the followers of Jesus had the grace to say that the new the European followers of Jesus did not have to obey all of the cultural practices of the Jewish people to worship God—that they should only have to give up and change a few things that related back to their past religions and take on a heavenly culture. We did not say that to you.
Did we tell you there was a better culture than our own that we should all have to change to follow? Our Great Heavenly Father’s culture and his ways? That those ways are love? Did we forget to say that and show that? I am so sorry. Did we fail to understand God’s words in Revelation where all tribes and nations were gathered before God to honor and praise him? Do all “tribes and nations” mean that we all looked the same and sang him the same songs? Did we fail to say you can sing your songs to Him your own way? With your own instruments? In your own language? In your own clothes or regalia? I am so very sorry because I believe we have broken our own God’s heart by crushing you with our own vanity—you, a beautiful people whom he made to honor him with their own song, not ours. Please forgive us.
We have been very unkind brothers and sisters at times. Please know that our Father God is far, far more loving than his children have represented him to be. Some of my nation still does not see what we need forgiveness for. Can you forgive that too? Can you find it in your heart to love us with a love and forgiveness as great as our God’s?
I love my church family. Always. But I have had more than my share of hurtful experiences from the church as well. Some of the most hurtful people that I have met and known have been leaders in churches (though I have also had my share of wonderful leaders as well!) and I wonder how can that be when we are meant to love each other. But people are not our God. God is our God. So I have kept my eyes on Him at hard times. My kids fight a lot. They do not always reflect my values. But they are still part of my family…I am not kicking anyone out of the family! That is how it works. We don’t usually blame mom and dad because our sister hit us. Blaming God for hurts from Christians isn’t the best way, either. They are growing and learning just like we are.
What has been your experience in the church?
I have been sitting, biding the time, waiting for my son to finally wake up and realize that he is hungry so that I can feed him and spend time with him. I am longing to spend time with him–I just love to be with him. I think that is how God waits for us. He patiently waits for us to wake up and realize we need spiritual food from him–that we need him to feed us. And he just loves to spend time with us, just to be with you and me.
Maureen Silveyra 10/19/2012