Thursday, February 16, 2017

Golden Nuggets of Joy



In a week where we saw children with severe leg deformities, terrible rashes that covered the whole body and neck injuries causing paralysis that happened by falling into a gold mining hole; where we heard about a mother who took the lives of her two children and tried taking her own life because her husband took another wife…it is a small golden nugget of joy that we cling to.

Idrissa is about 17 years old. As a small boy he came to live at the orphanage because he was not cared for well at home. His father is blind and his mother is not mentally well and he was not going to school. As time went on it was evident that Idrissa was battling the wounds of his life. He would run away for periods of time, but he would always return. 

When he was about 13 we found a pastor willing to take Idrissa in and we enrolled him in a special school where he would have a basic traditional education and learn how to construct things out of wood. Even under this care Idrissa ran away two different times. He ended up back at the orphanage where we talked him through what this opportunity could mean for his future and he returned to the school. Unfortunately, the third time Idrissa ran away, he lost this opportunity and he simply disappeared.

In the past two years, Idrissa has dropped in to say hello once and just recently came back again. He told us how sorry he was that he did not take advantage of the help that we offered before and knows what it is like to truly have nothing. For the last year he was finding work some days doing odd jobs and was living on the streets with little to eat and was sick very often. He came to us to ask for any help we could offer. Idrissa came back to us time and time again because we were his safe place. He knew that he was loved and could have a meal and a safe place to sleep.

We came up with a solution for Idrissa. We would help him find an apprenticeship in town with a carpenter since he already had learned some skills in school. He would go to live in his village so that he could help his parents and rebuild that relationship and we would buy him a bike so that he could get back and forth to work. You could see that look of renewed hope in Idrissa’s eyes.

Through a generous donation from Grace Community Church in Canada, we had funds to buy Idrissa’s bike. The day he received it he smiled for a picture, but as he walked away with the bike it became clear. Idrissa, in his 17 years, had never learned to ride a bike! One of our boys spent three days teaching Idrissa, and now he is racing around beaming with pride.





The joy in others in infectious! I thank God for this blessing that he gave us and for his always perfect timing. God knows each of us. He knows our hearts, our needs, our suffering and desires…and he cares! Turn to God in times of trouble and he will be your refuge. Share your joys with God and he will delight in them with you.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

You are Invited!!!


If you are in the South Florida area on Sunday, July 17th, I invite you to attend the church service at Hollywood Community Church where I will be sharing stories of the work God is doing in Burkina Faso.

Lunch will follow the church service and there will be opportunities to purchase items from the Village of Hope Women's Crisis Center as well as unique items handcrafted by local artisans. We wil also have a table set up with information about sponsorship and how you can partner with us to change the life of a child.

Hollywood Community Church is located on the corner of Taft and 441 in Hollywood and service starts at 10:00 am.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mike's Last Sermon

It has been difficult for me to come on this blog and edit some of the information, but today I braved that storm.

After the attack that took Mike's earthly life I found a sermon open on his computer. He had just finished this sermon titled "Foolish" and was planning on speaking this summer during our return to the U.S. I wanted to share the sermon with you as Mike definitely had a way of challenging people to step out in faith and his message certainly spoke to me.




FOOLISH

adjective
1.  resulting from or showing a lack of sense; ill-considered; unwise:
a foolish action, a foolish speech.
2.  lacking forethought or caution.

We spend much of our lives simply trying not to look foolish, don’t we?
Even back in school I was the kid sitting in the back row…… ya, you know me.
Parachute pants, U-men sweatshirt in 90 degree weather. high top reeboks…. Untied, Velcro flapping. Full on mullet, No way I am looking foolish!

I would hide from the teacher when they were going to ask a question. I did NOT want to be called for the answer, because 9 times out of 10 I didn’t know it!  I would look foolish! People would laugh at me. If I looked foolish enough, other people wouldn’t want to be seen with me! They felt if they would hang out with someone that appears to be foolish, they may think that they are foolish too!

There are many Christians who believe if you ever look foolish, it is a bad witness to God. Because you are a Christian you act a certain way, you do certain things. You are to be reserved, and proper in the eyes of man. Because you are a Christian you need to deal with your money in a very responsible way, which is true! A way that nobody could ever question your wisdom in the choices you make regarding your future wealth. Right? We would never act childish, or...We cannot, and will not appear to be foolish in any way.

What if that part was not exactly true.
What if…. God clearly called you to appear to be completely and utterly foolish?
How many in this church today can say, without a doubt I’m all in.
WHATEVER God was to ask, without hesitation, I am in.
What I am talking about is not just a momentary act of foolishness, but something that could have people questioning your sanity! Or an act that has detrimental consequences to your financial security, or to your social status.

This is something we really need to ask ourselves, and be completely honest with ourselves.
See if we cannot honestly answer this question, we will never know the answer because we will simply ignore the call God is giving us. Chalk it up to “God never calls us to make a bad decision in the eyes of man, and certainly doesn’t ask us to look foolish.”

Are you willing to be laughed at, mocked, be thought less of in the eyes of others, If God asked you to?

Foolish with our money
Let’s look at money. This is a very touchy subject with a lot of people. Rightfully so. It’s our means of survival, it gives us our status, it’s what helps us help others, it can make us look like we really are good, or make us look like we are really foolish. There are about 800 scriptures that deal with money in the bible, Jesus spoke of money more than he did heaven or hell! When we think of money, most of us put all our thoughts in to how to get it and how to keep it for the future. When as children of God, we should be concentrating on how to use it, how to give it!
And yet, O Sovereign Lord, you have told me to buy the field—paying good money for it before these witnesses—even though the city will soon be handed over to the Babylonians.”

God is asking Jeremiah to make what in the eyes of man is a BAD investment.
Now this is where most business savvy people in the church will say, well God has given me business sense to know what a bad deal is, so he is expecting us to make the good financial decision.
God helps those who help themselves right? We are to use our own intelligence and allow God to pick up the difference which is out of our control.
No, this is not what God says.
God wants us to surrender it all to him.
Not just the things we think we can’t handle with our own abilities.

Foolish with our actions
Acts 16:23-25
23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. 24 So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

Praying and singing hymns?? Are you kidding me?
OK, the praying I get.
For most of us, there is nothing like difficult hard times or circumstances that make us pray! We have a bill coming due, and we have no money, we become prayer warriors! More seriously, we have something go seriously wrong in our lives. We lost that job, or that friend we thought we had seemingly stabbed us in the back. That lab result came back from the doctor’s office with a very bleak outlook. 
Woah….. What do we do then?
The world would totally understand the prayer. Amazing how many people begin to pray when facing life altering situations. I don’t care if you have never talked to God in your life, when that test comes back positive for cancer……… people pray.
But what the world cannot understand. What the world will not understand, is the man or woman brave enough, bold enough, wise enough to sing joyfully to the Lord at such a time! The world will look at you as a complete fool! This is not how you are supposed to act in the face of terrible news!
It would have been easy for Paul to be bitter at those who put him in Jail. He could have easily said “This must not have been of God, that’s why I am here stuck at the will of man in this miserable place!” But no, this is not what they said, but instead prayed and sang hymns, where ALL the others could hear.

Foolish with our praise
2 Samuel 6: 16-22
16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.
17 They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. 18 When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people returned to their homes.
20 When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”
21 David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!”

How people who do not know God expect people to act or react.
Obedience often looks like foolishness.
Willingness to look foolish.
Only works with the direction from God.
God appointed decision will never contradict the bible.

Something only appears to be foolish when we fail.
God never fails.
Paul may have looked foolish

It is good to use what you have learned here on earth in your day to day lives, but we must be willing to sacrifice our self taught wisdom when God calls to us. I am speaking of a radical love, that makes you do radical things. Things that people of this world cannot understand.
See if you try to convince yourself that God does not exist, if you take him out of the equation of a Christian life, our lives will no longer make sense to them.
They will try to convince you that you are foolish!
There is a whole different level of living above and beyond what the world deems wise and good.
A level where things happen than non-believers, and even young believers can’t understand, and will even at times mock. When we become Christians, God wants us to break free from the world. We are no longer of this world, but just visitors. You are part of a new culture, not fully understood by the other.
Sometimes we are nervous that WE will make God look foolish.
If this doesn’t work, God will look foolish.
God can never look foolish.
And if someone claims that God is looking foolish, they are acknowledging Him, and guaranteed, they are about to be astounded by Him!
Foolishness with our money
Foolishness with our praise and worship
Foolishness in times of despair and troubles
Do you feel like you may be being called to do something, but every fiber in your human body won’t let you do it because you have been so conditioned not to make yourself look foolish?
Have you dismissed any Ideas that may have been from God because they simply didn’t make sense to you?
We may not always be comfortable with what the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do, but His words will always lead the Christian to an abundant life.
You will never persuade someone that God has spoken to you by out-arguing them. Only God can convince them of the Veracity of his word to you.
You need to be patient and allow God to vindicate you in His time, and in His way, a time will come when the wisdom of your choice will be Evident LUKE 7:35
John 13: 7
Joshua 1:9