Lollipop Moments

I was at work the other day when a family came in to take care of some business.  One of our employees handed the little 3 year old girl that was there a lollipop.  You would have thought that we handed her a million dollars.   With great glee in her voice, she exclaimed "Mommy!  I got a lollipop!!"

When is the last time you had a "lollipop moment"?  When was the last time you got excited when you received a simple blessing?  Truth be told, we can have moments like that every day!  God provides a lot of simple blessings each day…the beauty of a sunrise and sunset, a cool breeze on a spring day, a refreshing rain, the beauty of spring as it blooms, friends and family that love us and we love them, three meals per day.  Sadly, here is often our running commentary….this sunrise is so early, the wind is messing up my hair, spring means pollen…oh my allergies, you don't know MY family, I don't like THAT brand of soup!

When did we become so ungrateful and such sour pusses!?  When did we lose the joy of each day of life and the blessings it brings?  If we try hard enough, God can help us find some lollipop moments even in the very worst of days.  God never stops providing the blessings and the joys, we just stop looking for them and seeing them.  Life can make that happen if we let it.  Losing contentment in our heart can make it happen as well.  "Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Phil 4:12, NASB).

"This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps. 118:24, NASB).  It's good to start the day looking for the blessings.  Jesus said, seek and you will find…why not look for some blessings today and have a lollipop, God's treat!

Another Reminder of How Fortunate We Really Are…

5 million.  This is the number of precious children in Ethiopia that are orphans at this very moment.  Many of them are orphans because of their parents dying from AIDS, because of poverty, because of populations that are growing faster than needs can be met.

These are children Jesus loves and died for, and His heart aches for them.  The true question is….does ours?  When we see the hurt, the heartache, the hopelessness found in so many places around the world, what we complain about seems so trivial.  Yes, I know, not having our favorite breakfast cereal or running out of our favorite bath soap really SEEMS like a crisis, but I don't think it really is.  We have shelter, food, clothing, resources, and are more blessed than we can even appreciate.  "And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content: (1 Tim 6:8, NASB).

Here's a link highlighting the plight of so many precious children.

Ethopian Orphans

Be sure to stop and thank the Lord for all He has blessed you with.

Will We Slow Down Enough to Feel?

I saw a commerical on TV a couple weeks back that caught my attention.  it was for Downy fabric softener.  It showed several scenes in which people were in a hurry, made a quick connection, and then left.

The tagline for the commercial was "Does rushing to do more cause us to feel less?"  Their point was that the great smell of Downy would keep people around each other longer.

Ok, yes, I know, I don't buy it either.  There is, however, a very real truth to their premise.  We live our lives in such a way that we do rush, rush, rush, all the time.  In doing so, we probably do feel less. We stay busy to keep us from feeling pain, hurt, fear, loss, happiness, sadness, almost as if we can't stand the thought of being with ourselves because we would need to come face to face with what lies inside, our uncertainty, our insecurities.  At the same time, staying busy is also a great way to avoid Gos speaking to us as well.

The Psalmist wrote "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps 46:10a, NIV).  The Scripture also speaks about how deceptive the heart can be.  Staying busy keeps us from confronting God and the issues of the heart, and keeps us from intimacy with God and others.  That type of intimacy can be very scary.

How great it would be if we were rushing to do less so we could feel more…more of the joy that Jesus died to give us.

More Hunger

It seems like many of my posts as of late have been about the global hunger and food crisis.  It appeared again on the front page of the USA Today.  Maybe it concerns me because it seems that Scripture says that when we minister to those in need, we are ministering to Jesus Himself.

31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All
the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the
people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the
goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

 34"Then
the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by
my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since
the creation of the world. 35For
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you
gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

 37"Then
the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and
feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

 41"Then
he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I
was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you
did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after
me.'

 44"They also
will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger
or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

 45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matt 25:31-26, NIV).

How can we not be moved to compassion when we see images such as these:

Hunger in Ethiopia:  The New Famine

We cannot stand by and let the world suffer.  We must ask God what He would have us do to make a difference.

Is It Really OK?

I saw a TV commercial that really made me think twice.  The ad was for the Discover Card, and the dialogue was:

"We’re a nation of consumers, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  The trouble is, there’s so much cool stuff, it’s easy to get carried away.  But what if more credit card companies were like the Discover Card…"

This commercial speaks to the heart of so much of what has gone wrong with our nation, and what we struggle with as Christians living in our society today.

It’s true, we ARE a nation of consumers, but the truth is there IS something wrong with it.  We spend so much on things we don’t need, while many others around our nation and our world struggle to survive while we determine which of 30 breakfast cereals to get at the store, or what style of I-POD we NEED to listen to.

I have struggled with this.  Our society is so fixed on needing more, wanting more, that there is no sense of contentment with what we have.   Our sense of want and need has become perverted in such a way that we have lost our ability to determine the difference.

I believe the church struggles with that as well.   There are so many things we think we NEED in order to be successful in reaching people, when all we really need is God, the power of the Holy Spirit, the person of Jesus.  How did the New Testament church do it when they didn’t have all of the things we deem necessary to impact the world, such as buildings, programs, websites, equipment.  Are these helpful?  Of course they are, but when we get to the point where we need any of them more than we need the Living God, we are doomed for failure, no matter how gifted we might be.

What do we really need?  We need to depend on God and God alone.  I have always been impressed and humbled by the life of George Mueller.  His total dependence on God to house, feed and clothe orphans in England in the 1830’s and beyond, with only letting his need be made known to God.  He trusted God to provide for every need with him telling no one but God.  What an amazing measure of faith and a dynamic, powerful, intense prayer life that kind of faith took.  He showed that when God is all we need, He will give us all that we want.  Our problem is that we say we need and want God, but don’t have the gumption, faith, perseverance to stay with God until the end, and we want to start with what we think we need and then add God to the mix.  It doesn’t work that way.  Scripture says "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart" (Ps. 37:4, NKJV).  He obviously knows what we need, much better than we do.

It’s not really OK that we are a nation of consumers, because it leads us to treat God as if he is something we can "consume" in a nice little daily Bible reading and prayer, and then get our free refill tomorrow.  it has turned Christians into consumers of church, and we end up asking the wrong question.  The question isn’t "What programs does this church offer to meet my needs?", but "How can I serve God in this place?  It turns us away from being a consumer into a servant.

So, no, it’s not really OK that we are a nation of consumers, for God is not a commodity to be consumed.  if anything, we are to be consumed by the totalness of all that God is.   When we are, many things start to become clear.