Monday, June 13, 2011

What keeps us from knowing God...

I have two videos to share today.

I know many don't have time to watch videos...yet these two, together, strike something deep within my heart. I long to know God...and because the very little I do know of Him is so indescribably awesome and life-changing, I long for others to know Him as well, for He is the only thing that satisfies the longings of our soul.

Yet we get in our own way of discovering it.

These videos are both of Francis Chan sharing. Some of you may know more about him than I do...but frankly, that matters little to me. What does matter to me is that every word that he speaks in these two videos echoes what is in my own heart.

This first video is similar to what I've posted before, using space and the solar system to prove the smallness of us and the bigness of God. But instead of talking about the size of the stars, he powerfully introduces us to the size of our solar system...our galaxy...our 'little' corner of space.

As Psalm 19 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God."

Watch this only if you want to be impressed by how big God is.

Now that you know how big He is...

This second message has very little about erasing hell and/or the book he wrote by that name, compared to what it says about our arrogance and how great it is. (Skip the last minute of the video of you don't want to hear him ask for prayer as he writes the book.)

Some humans use the same arguments to not believe in God that we Christians use to not believe the difficult things in His Word.

I love Francis's heart in this...for as he points out, Psalm 25:9 says that the Lord shows Himself to the humble. I think we all need to dare to face what he's talking about here, if we want to truly know Him.

Does anyone want to share their thoughts?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hope is calling...

I've struggled these last few days with how to wind up the blogger's trip to the Philippines. The post I knew I'd read, I lost and couldn't seem to find, and nothing else seemed "right."

I found it just now.

To all of you who actually read these posts, I want to make sure you know something.

These trips and pictures and stories are not about pity. They're not about being grateful for what you have, either--that's just a side effect. They're also not about money, for there are plenty of opportunities surrounding you, wherever you live, to minister to people there without affecting your budget in the slightest.

No, to me, these blogging trips are all about hope.

I think Tsh's post tells is the best, for Tsh is a woman who has traveled the world and seen a lot. She introduced us last Friday to two teenage sisters who have experienced the power of Jesus to turn their lives around, and then she writes:
My family and I have lived abroad and seen the simplicity of other cultures first-hand. I’ve lived on the Serbo-Kosovar border in the former Yugoslavia, not long after MiloseviƧ swept through with his atrocities. I’ve visited Russian orphanages mere months after the Iron Curtain fell.

But I admit that this week has been the first time I’ve seen real, hard-core, true poverty with HOPE enveloping each of these hearts. These kids, loved on individually by Compassion sponsors, have hope. Their families may live in homes not larger than the bed I’m typing on, but they have hope. You can see it in their eyes.

What about you? It really doesn't matter whether you're struggling to find hundreds of dollars a month to keep your house, or whether you're struggling to earn $1 to put food on a rough wooden table in a shack. Regardless, there is an enemy--the prince of darkness--who does all he can to extinguish hope.

But it's there. It's found in Jesus, and in Jesus alone.

It's not found in a job that'll bring enough to pay all the bills. It's not found in a that special someone you hope to find or think you've found. It's not found in a government that gives help, nor in a government that protects freedom. It's not found in a clean bill of health, and it's not even found in a world where everyone is treated right.

Only in Jesus.

Sometimes, I think our 1st world is spiritually darker than theirs. After all...which is darker? A world that has no hope except Jesus, or a world that is filled to overflowing with empty hopes that lead to nothingness. Which is easier? To accept the true Hope when it is the first ever offered to you, or to believe in a hope that someone says is real, even though it looks a lot like the fakes that have always burned you in the past?

If you have no hope and are seeking it...go back through these posts. Read all the Compassion Blogger posts if you like. If your life feels as dark as theirs, admit it! And don't feel guilty about it...hopelessness is no respecter of persons or of income levels.

But find the hope. It's there. The same Jesus that offered it to them, offers it freely to you as well.

And if you have found the hope, then let your light shine! The world around you needs to see it, and the world 10,000 miles away needs to see it. Don't ask God if He wants you to do something; ask Him what He wants you to do. And do it. For in giving, you will receive even more.

Maybe you'll discover God's finger pointing somewhere near you.

If not, then maybe the convenience of sponsoring a child in poverty is where God is asking you to start. (Yes, I said convenience. $38/month isn't going to go far to help many people in our country, but God can use it to turn an entire family's life around when it's accompanied by willingness, prayers, letters, and commitment. Even without the $38, you can provide the other four things to a child that's getting the money alone...just call Compassion and ask if you can be a correspondent to a child whose sponsor isn't writing. Trust the bloggers from the makes just as much a difference as the money does...possibly more. And it doesn't even have to cost more than one stamp, because you'll be able to send letters from Compassion's website. Or go to Tsh's post and discover six small sacrifices that could make that $38/month possible.)

If you already sponsor a child, go write another letter.

But no matter what, let God show you that His heart is that you will know what is the hope of His calling...and discover how that calling is going to somehow fit in with His heartbeat until you are showing others what is the hope of His calling in their lives.

Hope is a powerful thing.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Standing out, being outstanding...

More from the Compassion Bloggers trip to the Philippines...

You know what I think blesses and benefits me most as I follow along with these Compassion Blogger trips? It's the clarity I gain in my spiritual vision. It's the dividing line between what is really blessing and what isn't always. It's the finger of God pointing to what hope really is...for in our culture, there are so many things masquerading as hope that we often wind up chasing the wrong thing for most of our lives.

This post has two aspects to it.

Stephanie, who blogs at Keeper of the Home, wrote yesterday about how easily and quickly we in the United States forget the poverty that others live in on the other side of the world. But she encourages us...

[The kids] do not forget what sponsorship means to them. They do not forget how it has changed their lives.

Did you know that every child that we have asked can tell us the name of their sponsors and where they live? I had no idea. They know how many children their sponsors have, and what they look like, and often what they do for work. They anxiously await each new letter from their sponsors and treasure each one of them.

That is so encouraging! (I went and wrote my kids again yesterday. And today, after I read that only 7000 of the 57000 kids that are sponsored in the Philippines get a letter in any given month, I called to see if I can be a correspondent for another child. How can I not?)

Stephanie goes on to write:
Today we met 4 of the most phenomenal, Jesus-loving young women I have ever met. Meet Maann, Myra, Kleng, and Faith.

If you've ever wanted to know what the results of child sponsorship are, look no further. This is la creme de la creme. These four are Leadership Development Program scholars, a rigorous program designed to offer further opportunity for children who have been sponsored and are showing excellent potential as they graduate from high school.

The students must first be recommended by their child development center workers, who have noticed academic potential, leadership ability and Christian maturity in them. Then, they go through an intensive application process. Once selected, they receive free tuition and school supplies to go complete a university degree while receiving training and mentorship in servant leadership.

The results? Nothing less than phenomenal. As these precious daughters of the King each shared their stories and testimonies and dreams with us today at lunch, I and probably half of the other bloggers could not stop the tears from streaming down our faces.

Don't let the beautiful, put-together, confident faces in these pictures fool you. These girls lived in dire poverty. In fact, they still do. We visited two of their homes this afternoon. Walking into their slum, down a narrow, pitch black walkway barely wider than my shoulders, I was actually afraid.

I had the privilege of talking in depth today with Kleng...

Would you like to be encouraged and inspired by Kleng?
Go ahead and meet her...

I think these kids could teach me a lot.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Hope and thankfulness...

I'm not posting much today. Just a video and a question.

The question is this. Have you ever been thankful because the fish swimming through your flooded home provided the meal you needed that day?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A house made by Compassion...

This is a post by Emily at Chatting at the Sky...

A House made by compassion...

I kept my hotel key in my pocket all day today. At first it wasn’t on purpose, just a convenient place to keep it after eating breakfast. Later, as we sat listening to the children sing at the Child Sponsorship Development Program about an hour away from our hotel, I noticed the outline of my keycard in my pants. I started to take it out and put it in my backpack, but something stopped me, and so I left it.

Five hours later, I was on a boat with one of our Compassion trip leaders in a more rural area than yesterday. It was a boat made of styrofoam, fastened together with boards between. It was big enough for three of us to sit on (very carefully) and one person to push in the back, standing with a bamboo stick. It was the only way to get from the road to Emily’s house. I thought it couldn’t get worse than Rose Ann’s house in the city yesterday. Turns out, it kind of can. If you add water.

As Emily continues...going there and reading this isn't about guilt. It's about hope.

Go see for yourself...

Is this a sudden flood to have done this to their home? Well...actually...water in the home is normal for 9 months of the year. As in mothers-wear-rubber-boots-while-they-cook. But this is all they can afford. Yet, there is joy and laughter. And there is hope. And a mama over there and a mama from here share common hopes and dreams for their pretty daughters.

Go meet these precious people...

Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion