Mary was in the process of leaving physical therapy in her car in a parking lot. She looked to her right and saw nothing but didn’t look to her left. As she began to pull out the oncoming driver laid on the horn letting Mary know her displeasure. Mary quickly realized her mistake and put up her arms to acknowledge her error and rolling down her window told the other driver, “I’m sorry.”
Later as Mary was pulling into a fast-food restaurant she noticed the woman she had almost cut off was in line in front of her. When it came time for Mary to drive up to the window and pay for her food the attendant said the woman in front had paid for her meal!
Two exhausted, firemen came into a diner around 6 a.m. after working tirelessly for 12 hours to put out a fire. Liz Woodward took their order and just happened to overhear the two firefighters discussing their tiresome battle. Later, when Tim and Paul went to pay for their breakfast, their bill contained this message:
Your breakfast is on me today—thank you for all that you do; for serving others and for running into the places everyone else runs away from. No matter your role, you are courageous, brave, and strong. Thank you for being bold and badass everyday. Fueled by fire and driven by courage. What an example you are. Get some rest.—Liz
Zechariah 7:9—“The LORD of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.”
It is cold outside—twelve degrees above zero. Snow is on the ground and from inside my office window it looks beautiful. It’s a matter of perspective. December can be a wonderful time of warmth for many people; a chance to be with family, to take a break from work and to enjoy each other’s company. But I could equally write that this month is a frozen, depressing period for many people; the reminder that loved ones are gone, unemployment a reality, and a feeling that few care or understand.
I want to share with you a moment burned into my mind as a poignant testimony to generosity. My daughter, Sarah and I, experienced this moment in the city of Cerro de Pasco, Peru, in 2002. In the course of ministering to a small church in this town located at the top of the Andean mountains, we met street children who were collecting trash or anything of value they could find on the streets, in order to garner a handful of coins.
Although home to one of the deepest silver mines in the world, Cerro de Pasco’s 70,000 inhabitants are mostly poor. One would think that any money a child could scrape would be zealously guarded and used for food or clothing. But these joyful children tithed from what they had in order to give to missionaries. It was a demonstration of the poorest giving to the poor to honor and expand God’s work. Someday I hope to learn how God blessed them!
Donna sat next to me on my plane flight home. I was blessed to get to know this incredible woman. Donna is the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HMS, a company she started. As she shared with me some of her life story I was most impressed by her humility and her sense of gratefulness.
When asked what she wanted for Christmas the little girl responded, “I want an I Phone and everything that starts with I.” You have to love the simple honesty of a child. How many adults would admit to the same self-gratification?
3 John 5-8—Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love in front of the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth.
What Christian is not frustrated in trying to live a godly life? Why is it so hard? For starters, we are flawed. We enter the world dripping wet with a sin nature and from the very outset need God’s grace. A baby’s temper tantrum was not learned behavior it was already ingrained. We grow up enamored with the world’s offerings—what man is not drawn to lust after a sensual woman or woman drawn to the need for security? We are stubborn, preferring to do what we want. It is completely counter-culture to pursue holiness. There is nothing easy about achieving purity and we are quickly frustrated by adversity, failure, and the clever attacks of Satan who will do all he can to disrupt us from fellowship with God.
I just finished reading the best book I ever read concerning Biblical principles on giving wisely. The author is Jonathan Martin and the title of his book is Giving Wisely? You can find and purchase it from www.amazon.com.
Luke 16:10-12—Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own?
A nonfiction book that I highly recommend is Hard Faith. You can buy it off Amazon.com or purchase it directly from us. I love Hard Faith because I know the author Dan Berg and I’ve seen firsthand how he successfully overcame incredible pain and adversity with his wife. The only reason Dan is walking well today aside from the ever-present grace of God, is that he stuck to his values. He wore the robe of faith when the world suggested other attire.
God broke my heart on January 24, 2007. This was our third day of teaching in Eldoret at Bishop Bondet’s Evangelistic Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The theme was disciple making. But before Dad taught his segment, we traveled to Reverend Ombima’s orphanage.
We walked down a dirt road too rutted to allow vehicle passage. On the right side of the Kenyan clay open sewage flowed. In that putrid water we walked past pigs happily foraging. Surrounding us were the homes of many squatters—families eking out a living in a destitute slum. Finally we reached the property where World Revival Evangelistic Ministries (WOREM) five-year old Jireh orphanage is located. S.I. Ombima and his pregnant wife Metrine, humbly live here along with Sylvanus Mukhaima (Moses), their talented and inspiring 21 year-old worship leader.
Standing in line in Dubai ready to get our tickets, my brother, Nate, talked to the Emirates ticket representative. She was from Nairobi and was impressed to hear Nate was doing humanitarian work with an orphanage in Kisumu. So she upgraded all our tickets to business class! We arrived in Nairobi, refreshed and encouraged at God’s blessing.
As we prepared to fly to our next destination, Kisumu, it became clear that we would be heavily taxed for our excess baggage. Nate suggested we drive to Kisumu and save expenses. Because this would give us a better opportunity to see the countryside and save money we all agreed. Thus began a grand adventure.
Bryan and I watched an exciting High School football semi-final game at PGE Stadium in Portland. We were excited to cheer for the Southridge Skyhawks, the team he helped manage last year. They played superbly, won their game and will play for the state championship. I imagine it must be a pretty heady feeling to win big and feel the love and adulation of adoring fans. Unfortunately, fame and fortune are all too fleeting. The need to be noticed and to be important lasts for a while until some new hero or star emerges.
Have you ever wondered whom God notices?
William did an amazing thing this past Christmas. The eleven-year old son of Cindy and David carefully selected each Christmas gift for his parents and his older brother, Walt. The dynamics of this family are not unusual. The oldest son has close ties to his dad while the youngest is close to his mother. That is why William’s gift was so special. William desired to have a better relationship with his father. So he wrote David a touching letter that pointed out his own understanding of why their relationship was weak. Then he mentioned his desire to be close to his father. Inside the letter was $10 William gave to his dad to purchase a fishing pole so they could go spend time together as father and son—fishing.
1 Kings 17:14—For this is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.”
In the early fall of 1976, homesick Panya Sawan walked the streets of Newberg, Oregon. While his feet moved his mind questioned if he made a big mistake. Yet, as much as he missed his family, the thought of returning to his Thailand home was equally painful. Would his family consider him a failure?
Once upon a time a man and woman lived off Dutch Canyon Road in Scappoose. They had six children all of whom were in their 20’s. The father was a wealthy man, well beloved in his community, but terminally-ill with cancer. One day while reason still lingered, he asked his beloved wife to invite their children for dinner and an important announcement. Curious and concerned they all came.
Felipe dresses up as a clown. Each Sunday he and his team of fellow youth workers from Iglesia Misionera Evangelica (I.M.E.), go to the poorest sections of Cerro de Pasco to minister to the children. As many as 40-60 kids come out to watch the antics of Bomba the clown, to sing and dance to Christian music and hear Bible stories. Wonderful boys and girls glow with expectant smiles. Their lungs produce hearty cheers and sweet melodies. They held on to us with forever-loving grips. In truth, they ministered to our team more than we did to them.
As I read Scripture, I am continuously impressed with our Heavenly Father’s desire to bless us. From Genesis to Revelation runs a consistent theme—God loves to give to His children. As a parent I understand some of what God feels. I look forward to giving my children gifts. There is something profoundly special about favorably touching lives.