A Story Of Need

A well spun story can stir great emotions. A story can cause us to shriek with laughter. A story can stir deep emotions and thought patterns. A story can take us on a journey of imagination and discovery. A story can also move us to tears and break our heart. It is the latter of these that has stirred me this morning.

My husband told me a true story last night about a teenage boy who was so hungry he was gathering up the scraps of food that others had discarded in the trash. This story moved me to tears, and it broke my heart to know that this was happening in my county. We see in the media all the time the need of children around the world who do not have enough to eat. We help when we can, but when we hear of children and teens in our communities struggling to find their next meal how can we not be moved to action. Some might say, they get meals at school. Two, in fact, are available to them. What happens though to these on the weekends or during the summer? There is a great need.

” For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in… And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:35,40 

In the verses above, we find a message from Jesus himself. We find a call to action. Jesus wanted us to know that when we extend kindness and meet a need in the life of a child we are doing it unto Him. We are living out our faith by reaching out to another. As I think on this, we must meet the need for physical food, but it doesn’t need to stop there. We need to also do all we can to meet the spiritual needs of these dear ones. We need to point them to Jesus who loves them. We need to be the hands reaching out in Jesus’ name.

So how do we accomplish this? We must pray for guidance. We must also be moved to action. Knowing that when we reach out to the children of our communities, we are doing this for Jesus.

When Compassion Meets Opportunity

And of some having compassion, making a difference.’ Jude 22

Well, we are headed back to the ball field. Tonight our little corner of southwest Georgia has begun our annual church softball league. I will say up front that as a former player of this sport, I love when the season comes around again. There is something electric when you get to the ball field. I loved playing softball in high school. I loved watching my boys play baseball growing up. Now, I get to watch them in the church softball league. I’m excited.

I do know that there are times when stuff that takes place at the ball field gets a “bad rep”. Parents going overboard, or kids having meltdowns etc., but in all fairness there is a lot of positives that can happen on our favorite diamond. One it teaches our younguns teamwork, and how to get along well with others. When they get out on the work force after school has ended, they are going to have to know how to get along with other people. It teaches to pursue excellence and doing your best. Also, great lessons to learn before thrust into the situation in your twenties. So for all intensive purposes, you can learn what to do when the pressure is on, and also what not to do.

It really warms my heart when I look back at the coaches my boys had at the ball field. They both had ones that worked with them and helped them, and above all showed them compassion when it was needed. They took the opportunity to show my boys the character it takes to achieve greatness. The boys often discuss the ball field antics now that they are older. The coaches that they remember are the ones that showed them how to strive for excellence, but also understood that character and compassion would be what they would benefit from the most.

So for all those sweet folks that will be out there on ball field across America. Remember, your kid might not be the next great one on the ball field, but if he is wouldn’t it be better for him to have character and compassion before he takes on the world of sports. We sure to need more of those!

Taking the Lead

In the world in which we live today, we often have to look high and low to find people or things that inspire us. Last Sunday, I didn’t have to look far.  I found inspiration and encouragement in a 12 year old boy, my son.

It was Sunday afternoon and “World Hunger Sunday” at our church. It is one of the days we set aside to remember those who are in need, those who do not have the food they need on a daily basis. At our church, we go out as a group in the community and collect can goods and donations. These goods are donated to the Grady Co. Baptist Association to help them when they receive calls for families in crisis or food needs. With all the things that have been happening in the world lately, I was wondering how much response we would have yet, I was overwhelmed at the generosity of those in my community. We met at our church and gathered our bags and fliers to distribute, and decide which section each team would cover. We did not have as many come out this year as usual. We had an equal number of adults and children. So we decided that each adult would take one child and go together. I asked my two boys who they would like to go with and my oldest, Clay, said he would go with Mrs. Judy and Glen decided he would go with me. We prayed and went to our cars.  We had very fruitful results. 149 cans were collected. Everyone was so excited.

Clay and Mrs. Judy were the last group to show up and when I found out why I was overjoyed. Mrs. Judy told me that she and Clay took a street and He went down one side while she went down the other always keeping the other in sight. After several houses, She turned around and saw Clay standing under a tree in the shade with 3 boys talking with them. She told me that she thought they were talking about things that boys talk about as she walked over to them. In a moment, everything was suddenly quiet and she heard Clay talking and she saw the three boys hanging on his every word. Tears came to her eyes when she realized that Clay was telling them about Jesus and going through the plan of salvation with them. She came upon them as Clay looked up and asked them if they would like to receive Jesus as their Savior. He asked Mrs. Judy to lead them in the sinner’s prayer and all three accepted Christ.

The first thought that entered my mind was “a little child shall lead them”.  My dear son inspired me not only in leading these three to the throne of Jesus but also in his boldness to share what Jesus had done for him. He didn’t let fear get in the way of what God was leading him to do. I pray he will keep this boldness for Christ.  Now, I do not write this so you will say what a great mom I am because It is not about me. I fail God and my family so often. What I would like you to see is God can use anyone who will open their heart and let Him lead them. There are those in our churches that will  tell the children that they will make an impact for Christ when they become a teenager or even an adult, but as a child there is not much that they can do. I strongly disagree. God can take any of us whether 5 or 95 and use us if we will open our hearts and lives and offer it to God for his filling and use.

Clay came up to me with eyes shining and gave me a big hug. “You’ll never guess what happened,” he said, “Three boys accepted Jesus today.” His heart was full and mine was too. In Heaven there was rejoicing among the angels all because a child took the lead. 

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”  ~Psalm 25:5

It’s not what you think…

In the last few weeks, the media has posted quite a few stories on the who’s who and what about the who’s who of Hollywood.  One incident in particular has graced the magazines, Internet and newsrooms.  About a month ago,  Owen Wilson, a comedian who has made his mark in the movies, tried to commit suicide.   It seems we have heard that several comedians of the last 20 years have tried successfully or unsuccessfully to end their life.  It gives us all cause for reflection. Was this a shock to his friends and family? or did they see something traumatic on the horizon?  I wonder how many people hide the hurt, depression, and darkness in their life behind laughter and smiles.  It is probably more than we realize.

The Bible tells us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.”  I am afraid that we take for granted that people will hide what is really going on inside. At what point to we start hiding the feelings of our heart from others.  As children our parents could tell if something was bothering us without us having to say a word. We can tell with small children especially a stuck out lip or tears.  Even in a church setting many people are not comfortable showing or relating to others when they are in sorrow over something or battling problems in their life.

I think it is time for those of us who name the name of Christ to look deeper.  Many times people will say, “I’m fine.” when their world is falling apart. We then may think how can we help them if they won’t share what is going on? 

One way is to be men and women of prayer. When we pray how often do we ask the Lord to make us sensitive to the needs of others.  Gordon, my husband, at Heavenly Heartburn has written a great article on being a sensitive leader like Jesus.  When I don’t know the answers to questions, I can pray.  When I see someone is hurting, I can pray.  When the Lord brings a person to my mind, I can’t help but think he has done this so I might lift them up in prayer.  God honors and blesses the prayers of his children. Prayer can open our eyes to other’s needs.

The second thing we can do is follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says regarding the Holy Spirit that “he will guide us into all truth.”  How often does the Holy Spirit nudge us with the feeling we are not getting the  whole story when talking with someone.  Are we moving so quickly through life that we do not stop and listen to others and wait for the Holy Spirit’s leading?  When we meet people outside of the church setting, do we take time to stop what we are doing and just listen to what they are saying? To often, we wave across the store and move on without speaking.  It could be the Holy Spirit was waiting to lead us and we blew him off.

It could be when talking to others about their lives that it is exactly what you think…then again it may not be so.  We should all pray for the Lord to lead us to people who need to be encouraged. Then when we see them face to face, take the time to listen and be lead. 

Ultimate Survivor

One of my favorite things to do at the mall is to find a place to sit and watch people.  This, of course, is done after I have exhausted myself shopping and I find one of those big, black chairs you put change into. The more I watch people the more I realize times may change, styles may change, but people are basically the same.

The basic drives of humanity were played out again in the 14th season of CBS television series Survivor: Fiji. I have only watched only the last two seasons, but it has been an eye opener in the people department. If you want a way to show your kids the craziness people will go to to win $1,000,000 dollars, Check out this show. 

I had been cheering all along for a 54 year old man named Yau-man.  Of all the ones who played the game this season. He kept his integrity through the entire 39 days.  He didn’t win the million dollars, but through every round he managed to stay afloat so to speak when you thought he would be sure to go.  He made it all the way to the final four.

As a watched, My favorite player was deceived, lied to etc.. The resounding answer when they were asked, “why did you lie, cheat, etc.? They would reply, “It’s just  a game.”  Unfortunately, with the same attitude, most people approach life the same way.  It is in human nature to be selfish, and any excuse can be thought of to justify wrong doing. The fact of the matter is it is so easy to offer excuses and/or blame others for our actions.  We live in a world that does not take personal responsibility for what they do and say.  All of us are capable of acting in the same way. When we fail to let the grace of God daily renew our mind, we can and will be caught in the trap of selfishness. 

Our guard must be in place against temptation.  David in the psalms was constantly praying  “guard my heart”, “keep a watch over my lips”, “keep me from the snare of the fowler…” etc.  We must also pray daily for help against temptation.  People have warred against it since the creation, and today we must fight against it as well. One of the amazing things about God is, He is there to help us in time of need. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we read, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  A promise from God is given to us. We can rely on it and rest upon it. God will help.  We can survive temptation. He will provide a way of escape if we will take it.

We don’t have to go to the other side of the world to be the ultimate Survivor. We can do the right thing at the right time because we have the right help available.

Busy, Busy!

The busyness of these last two weeks is beginning to wear on me a bit. Between home, church, family visiting this weekend, and the boys baseball schedule, I have been running around like a wild woman. I appreciate all who have stopped by, dropped a comment, or gave a word of encouragement.

One of my favorite verses is Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”  This verse has been going around in my mind for the last two weeks.  From time to time we can get weary, but God is our strength and our comfort. When we are down, we can always find encouragement and love in him.

While I am sharing a favorite verse, I feel compelled to share another one. Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” We usually don’t have to look very far to find something to smile, laugh, chuckle, or even “snort” over. I wanted to share something with you that struck me funny.

Hugh Grant, notorious actor extraordinaire, was arrested for assault. Assault with what you ask?  He did not go for the photographer with fists, clubs, or any of the normal assault type weapons.  He threw with grace and poise a can of baked beans at him!  Go figure. Now we around the world need not be afraid in grocery store parking lots.  We can whip out our can of baked beans, and aim for their “noggin”!

Hey, If it’s good enough for Hugh Grant, it’s good enough for me.