Tag Archives: love

Why World Water Day Should Matter to You?

Today is World Water Day. Currently, there are almost 1 BILLION people without access to clean drinking water. To put that in perspective, that is 1 out of every 8 people on the planet.

Some quick facts about water (credit is due charity:water for these facts):

  • Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war.
  • 90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old.
  • In Africa alone, people spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water. Women and children bear the brunt of this labor.

Here’s the deal. We have many problems in America. For the most part, access to clean drinking water is not one of them. I completely agree we should work on problems here, but that need not necessitate us leaving millions without hope. For the price of a night out to eat, a movie, or a couple of Starbucks, you can drastically change someone’s life.

Christians, let us put our money where our mouths are. “For God so loved the world” means more than our tiny part of it. We build up vast nest eggs to live lives of luxury by the time we are 60, but can we spare a few dollars for some who may not see 60 without our help?

Let me be clear: this IS a gospel issue. Why on earth would people care to hear about a loving God if His people will not care for their most immediate needs? Let us not be so cruel as to send missionaries to the farthest corners to share the Good News, but willfully neglect millions (many children) as they suffer the cruel fate of being born into an impoverished area.

Love knows no borders. Love knows no race. Love knows no culture.

If you would like to give, these organizations do fantastic work (there are others, just do your homework before you donate):

charity:water
Samaritan’s Purse
Wine to Water

Even if it’s just a few dollars, would you please consider giving the gift of water to someone today?

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Filed under Challenges, christian, hunger, making a difference, poverty, Serving Others, Uncategorized

Courage in the Face of Cancer

I hope you’ll find this story as inspirational as I did. I ran across it while visiting HelpOthers.org.

I work at a Care Center where most of the people are elderly. About a year and a half ago a 59 year-old lady came to us who had cancer. She had to have her right leg amputated and she didn’t have a family to take care of her after the operation.

This lady was a quiet lady who mostly stayed to herself. But in the afternoons, when she was feeling well, she would go visit the other residents in the home. She would visit a lady who was blind and read to her. She would go into the room of a young girl with severe cerebral palsy and sing to her. In her quiet gentle way, she would go about the Care Center doing good.

She passed away last Wednesday and after her passing, stories are coming forward of her quiet acts of kindness in her own hour of sorrow.

We never know what impact we have upon others. She had every reason to be bitter, to be angry, or to be swallowed up in her own grief.  But she wasn’t. She didn’t have a family and probably felt forgotten, but her small and quiet acts of service made an impact upon the entire Care Center.

Each of us are better people for having known her. We have pledged to be more aware of the service that we can offer to others.

What an amazing outlook on life! She had every reason not to love and serve, yet she did. Small, silent acts of service speak volumes about a person’s character.

Do you share the same attitude? What things tend to paralyze you from serving and loving others?

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Filed under Challenges, making a difference, selflessness, Serving Others, Uncategorized

Are Dogs the Best Christians?

The epitome of a Christian?

There is an unfortunate myth that perpetuates itself throughout church communities. It can be fairly well summed up in an old saying I once heard: “I don’t drink, smoke, chew, or date girls that do.” The myth is that Christians are just supposed to stay away from a lot of things and they’ll be good.

Don’t drink. Don’t lie. Don’t have premarital sex. Don’t cheat. Don’t gamble. Don’t…..and the list grows depending on which church you attend.

Unfortunately, many people ascribe to this belief. But, that is NOT Christianity. If it were, your dog would be the best Christian around. He doesn’t cuss. He doesn’t get drunk. He doesn’t go out doing bad things. What a great dog! He’s so good.

But no, that is not Christianity. Paul addressed this issue in the letter to the Galatians. Listen to what defines a Christian life for Paul.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,         faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Paul is telling them that their individual lives and their community (the “church”) should be defined by these things. How many people in your community, when asked to describe your church, would even mention this list?

Fact is, we spend so much time trying to “overcome” sin on our own that we miss out on the fruit of our relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Abiding in Christ, relationship with God – that is what produces that fruit Paul talks about.

And I found this interesting: The word “fruit” in Paul’s passage is singular. Love, joy, peace, etc. is one package. They are not just a bunch of individual things we work really hard on. They are a bundle of fruit blossoming from the vine. Think of it like a bunch of grapes. One fruit, just a bunch of it. That’s the fruit of the Spirit.

What if our church was known for its love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? People long for that kind of community. Instead, we spend the majority of our time focused on the “shall nots.”

Do you see this fruit in your life?

Does your Christianity consist mostly of no’s?

Do you abide in Christ each day or work on your own power?

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Filed under christian, Scripture, Uncategorized

Redeeming Time

We all wish we could add time to our day. The reality is…we can’t. It’s just not possible.

But, what we can do is make intentional efforts to make the most of the time we have. This is part 4 in thinking through time management. You can find the first three parts here, here, and here.

Today’s post is an easy read. Here’s a simple list of things you could do to free up time to show people God’s love.

  1. One Minute Email Rule: My email is a complete fail. I have thousands of emails just taking up space in my inbox. I can’t remember where I read this rule, but I love it and I’m going to give it a shot. Open your email and do one of three things. First, if it’s trash, delete it. Second, if you can respond in under a minute, do it and put it in a “processed” folder. Don’t put it off. Third, if it requires more attention, then put it on your list of things to do. The reality is most email requires a minute or under to respond. Simply clearing out those emails will make you vastly more efficient and disciplining yourself to respond immediately means less people go unanswered.
  2. Schedule Time to Serve: Most of us have good intentions. We want to serve, but our week is packed. BUT, most of us have no idea what we’ll be doing June 5 (pick any random day in the future). Sign up for Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or whatever. Just put it on the calendar. Make it part of your schedule and that will give you time to find a babysitter or get other work accomplished. Make serving a priority by intentionally scheduling.
  3. Make the Most of Meals: A common refrain I hear from pastors and leaders is that they have no time. But we eat don’t we? You’ve got three meals a day. Make the most of that meal by not going it alone. Invite someone to lunch. Meet someone for breakfast. Welcome another family into your home for dinner. Some of the best conversations people have are around meals. It’s a chance to listen to people, learn who they are, and you may learn of a need you could meet.
  4. Serve as a Family: Many times, especially at churches, we separate our families. One night, dad will go somewhere. The other night, mom…and so on. Seek out, discover, and invent ways to serve and volunteer together. I recently heard a friend of mine whose family sponsored a cookout to raise money for people in Haiti. That’s a great way to not only serve, but also to invest in your family. Time well spent.

Those are just four simple ways to start getting the most out of your time. There are a million more out there on the internet, but those hit home with me.

Got any time management tips that you think are essential? Don’t be bashful, share them!

Have a great day and don’t forget to ask yourself the question:

How can I Become Last today?

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Filed under Time, Uncategorized

Take a Time Inventory

This week, we’re taking a look at time management. If we’re going to effectively love and serve others, time is a resource we need to make the most of!

In this first post, I want to encourage you to fight the idea of time apathy. DO NOT settle for doing just o.k. or even good. I’m fond of the saying, “Good is often the enemy of the best.” You’re on this planet for a reason (several, really). But so often, we become content just doing things the way they’ve always been done. We get used to living our life a certain way and it becomes comfortable.

I heard a great illustration yesterday. Apparently, there is a sign on an Alaskan highway that reads, “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next two hundred miles.” Yikes! That’s also a pretty accurate description of the way we use our time. Being creatures of habit, it’s important for us to constantly reflect on our time usage and see where it could change.

Maybe Your Day Looks Like This

In order to do that, we need to take a time inventory.

They say the first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one. This is why it’s so important to count up our time. Seriously, this may seem basic or tedious, but until you figure out where your time is going you’re never going to be able to maximize its effectiveness.

To do this, take a 7 day week and count how you spend your hours. Don’t make a schedule, just divvy out the hours. Here’s an example:

There are 168 hours in a week so we start with that. Now, how do we use them? Your numbers may vary from mine, but you’ll get the point.

8 hours of sleep per night = 56 hours
8 hours a day at work for 5 days = 40 hours (most people work more)
Time spent preparing, eating, and cleaning meals = 11 hours
Time spent driving (commuting, going to friends, church, etc…) = 12 hours
Time spent watching tv or movies (if you don’t watch tv, insert whatever hobby you have) = 20 hours
Church/Religious activity/Volunteering = 7 hours
Recreation with family/friends = 8 hours
Time on Internet (News, Email, Facebook, etc) = 14

Clearly, those are just rough estimates. They vary from person to person. But think about how you spend an average week. Count up those hours and see what you do. Make sure it adds up to 168. Try to be as accurate as possible even if takes you a few minutes to think through each thing you do. You may be amazed at how much time you spend in certain areas!

A few months ago, I realized I spent 15 minutes of my morning on the internet (games, Facebook, sports, news) before work. I did this 3 times a week. That’s 45 minutes. I challenged myself to use that time in some other way. I could pray, write someone an encouraging note, read the Bible, clean up for my wife. The options are limitless. Sad to say, it’s much easier to get on the internet and so most of the time I do! I’m still working to change that, but I never would have realized it had I not done some self-examining.

That’s the point. We must know where our time is going. Challenge yourself to count your time up honestly. Maybe I’m alone. Maybe I’m the only one who feels he wastes our most valuable resource. But, I expect some of you will do a double take as you count up your hours. Regardless, you’ll find this exercise to be useful guide as we discover more practical advice each day.

Besides sleep and work, where did you find most of your time went?

Did you discover anything shocking?

Am I a nutball for counting up my time? (don’t answer that!)

Do you think you could use your time more effectively?

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Humility

There’s been one word that won’t escape my mind recently: humility. It’s one of those words we use a lot, but is typically left up to the interpretation of the one using it. We all have this idea of humility in our minds. We can see it being displayed and recognize it, but it’s difficult to define.

Even more difficult is recognizing that we are often not nearly as humble as we wish ourselves to be. Maybe we don’t stare at ourselves in the mirror in vain. Maybe we don’t spend our time bragging over our accomplishments. At first glance, it’s easy to come off as fairly humble, but are we really?

Some things to think on:

Do you feel the need to one up? I had a conversation recently where, no matter what I said, the guy would come back with a bigger, badder story. “Disc golf? I used to be ranked in the state!” “Baseball? I hit over .400 one time until the coach sat me down for some reason, but I was so good” “Hopscotch? National Champion in 4th grade…” O.k., kidding about the hopscotch, but there was always this tension of him wanting to one up any part of the conversation. I’m completely guilty of this sometimes. I think we just have this tendency to feel validated and so we look for ways to share our exploits. You want to make someone feel good? If they are excited about their accomplishment or something their kid did, just affirm them. Be excited for them. Don’t just look for the next opportunity to jump in with your even crazier, awesome story.

Do you compare yourself to others? Many times people think about this in physical terms. That’s certainly true. But, I’m more referring to when we verbally use other people as affirmation that we are better. Recently, it’s Pat Buchanan and Tiger Woods. If you want to score some points with the crowd you are around, just throw out a random Buchanan or Woods bashing statement. It automatically sets up this moral hierarchy where you are above them. We’re always going to talk about the news and that’s not necessarily wrong. But here’s the question. Do people’s moral failings tend to validate your own self-righteousness or do they remind you of how easily we can screw up? I think a proper response to stuff like that is worship. “God, I screw up all the time. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercy.” Humility doesn’t use others to prop itself up.

Humility is certainly not self-hatred. We can be proud of our accomplishments. We can even hold each other accountable, but I think we have more of a tendency to automatically assume we are humble rather than think about it.

Have a great Thursday.

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We Are All Tiger Woods

Take a deep breath. Relax. And say it with me now: “My name is _____ and I am Tiger Woods.”

In no way do I want to condone or legitimize what Tiger did. I’m not his apologist. He failed his wife. Big time.

But, I’m more concerned about our reactions to events like this. Sure, there is disappointment. I bet there are many kids who looked up to him. There may even be some anger. No one likes cheaters or repeat offenders (and he was both).

At some point though, shouldn’t we eventually get to a place where we say, “I am Tiger Woods.”

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Jesus (Matthew 5:27-29)

I’m sure many of us have read those verses. We probably felt good about reading them and said, “Yup, Jesus is right. He’s so smart.” But when a situation like the one with Tiger Woods becomes news, our hearts rage against verses like these.

We think, “Jesus didn’t really mean that!” But He did. I figure He probably even chose His words carefully considering He knew they would be recorded for all time. The principle is there:

Looking lustfully = Committing Adultery

Tiger Woods is an adulterer and unless one of us claims to have never, ever looked lustfully at someone, we are adulterers too. But that grates at our pride. It’s one thing to admit we’re flawed. It’s another thing altogether to admit we’ve screwed up just as much as Tiger. We want to weigh all our sin/junk/screw ups and come out lighter and holier than him. We want to pretend we’re better. But we’re not…unless Jesus was joking.

Shortly after the scandal broke, a buddy of mine sent an email to a bunch of folks. I can’t remember his exact words, but essentially he said, “Without the Holy Spirit and God’s grace, we are all Tiger Woods.”

His point is not to justify what Tiger did. He’s saying, given the right circumstances, we could find ourselves in Tiger’s shoes. Most likely, he made small decisions over time that steamrolled into larger, more destructive decisions. If we just count on ourselves being really good, we could very well end up in his situation.

Maybe it’s not adultery, but maybe it’s gluttony. Maybe it’s gossiping. Maybe it’s pride. Again, we want to have this hierarchy of sin where we can say ours isn’t as bad, but it all comes from the same place: a defiant heart.

Would it be unchristian of us to love the guy? He doesn’t “deserve” it, but again, do we really deserve God’s love? Who are we to have been given unmerited, unlimited grace and mercy to deny extending the same?

There are consequences to actions and rightly so, but as I said, I’m more concerned with our response as Christians than what he did. Did Christ not befriend prostitutes? Did he not dine with “sinners”?

There is a Tiger Woods in all of our lives: someone who has messed up big time in a public way. I believe it’s our job to help them through it. Not condone it, but be there unconditionally to help them make the right decisions. It’s easy to love people when they are perfect. It’s Christlike to love people when they aren’t.

And when we hear news of someone failing that we’re not closed to…shouldn’t we be the place where the gossip stops? No matter who we hear about that screwed up, shouldn’t we be the wall that puts out the wildfire of “news”? I once heard that “Christians don’t gossip, they share prayer requests.” How true.

When we hear the latest failure of _____(fill in anyone’s name), it’s right to pray for them. We should. But we don’t have to tell everyone, “Did you hear what so and so did? Imagine that. Terrible. Oh, we should pray for them.” I know there is a way to share a request legitimately, but where’s the line between gossip and sharing? It’s probably more prudent to leave it anonymous unless you really trust the person and you will actually pray for the “offender” right then.

It’s the times when someone screws up the most that they need prayer and a rock-solid friend. If someone at your church was making destructive decisions, would they feel good about confessing and receiving help, support, and prayer or would they be afraid they’d be kicked out, shunned, or slandered behind their back? Again, I’m not saying there is no time for discipline or consequences, but those should never be done without a healthy portion of grace, love, faith, and mercy.

Remember, we are all Tiger Woods.

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Filed under Challenges, christian, Prayer, Realizations, Scripture, Uncategorized