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Thursday, December 22, 2016

DAY 4 - Let's Go!

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” He said. “Be healed!”

As a gifted bass fishing pro, Sonny made a great living touring, competing on ESPN and dining with celebrities at the finest restaurants in America. He was well on his way to becoming a millionaire until he got caught up in a horrible crack addiction and began to sell off all his things—his house, his boat, his Harley … everything.
Sonny wound up homeless, living on the streets of Las Vegas. For eight months, he woke up every morning and washed people’s car windows. Most days, the only thing he’d ever say was “Thank you” as people gave him a tip. Later in the day, he’d hop on a bus, ride across town to buy crack and then come back to where he slept in a field beside a church.
Sonny didn’t want anything to do with God, but one day, he walked into the church because he heard that he could get a shower, food and some clean clothes. It had been three months since his last shower, and he stunk so horribly even the homeless guys had started avoiding him. Yet, when he walked through the doors of the church, a woman named Michelle—a soccer mom—looked directly at Sonny and said to him, “You look like you need a hug.”
At that moment, Sonny said all he wanted to do was put a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger. He looked at Michelle and said, “You don’t want to hug me.”
She said, “No … you look like you need a hug.”
Despite the fact that he absolutely reeked, Michelle walked up to Sonny and embraced him. Looking in his eyes, she said, “Jesus loves you.”
Sonny later said, “I hadn’t been hugged in months. With all the street preachers I had encountered, all the tracts people had given me and all the ‘Christian stuff’ I’d seen in my life, nothing prepared me for that moment of genuine human contact.” As he looked Michelle in the eye, something cracked in his heart.
Sonny took a shower, got some clothes and checked out a Bible from the church’s library. A few weeks later, he got on his knees and prayed, “God, I’m done. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this addiction. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to move forward, but I surrender my life to You.”
Fast forward four years … Sonny got married and started his own business. While watching the news one morning, he heard that the mayor of Las Vegas wanted to pass a law forbidding individuals from feeding the homeless. You couldn’t give them a sandwich, a cup of water, anything. When Sonny heard that, something within him said, “That’s just wrong.” And so he filed a suit on this motion against the mayor of Las Vegas.
When Sonny’s complaint finally came to a hearing, the judge looked at it and declared, “It’s unconstitutional to intentionally discriminate against a specific group of people,” and he threw the case out.
So the reason you can give someone a sandwich on the streets of Las Vegas today is because a former homeless guy named Sonny was hugged by a soccer mom named Michelle. And both of them, by seeing themselves in Christ, were transformed to make a difference in the world.
The Gospels tell us that whenever Jesus encountered someone in need, He didn’t just passively stand by and offer encouraging words. He always responded by actively reaching out and touching their lives, whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. And He calls each of us to follow His example and do the same—to be His hands and His feet to those we come in contact with each and every day.
When it comes down to it, that’s all “outreach” really is … it’s simply reaching out. Imagine what kind of difference you can make if you just allow God to use you to reach out and touch those in need around you!
If we could only be a bit more like [Jesus], the world would be transformed.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bio Sand Water Filters

BioSand Water Filters This non profit out of Olympia, Wa provides inexpensive, durable biosand filters for approx $50 providing clean water to a family lasting for up to 30 years with almost no maintenance.

Rather than go into the hows, whys and what-for's, I will direct you to that area of the website so you can read what you want of it.

This page will give you basic information on their product. You can also contact them by email at!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Let's Go (Day 3)

Led by the Spirit


Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
Growing up in churches and religious schools with strict expectations, Amy couldn’t wait to graduate from high school and break free from all the rules and constant shame she felt every time she messed up. Once she graduated and began living her own way, she eventually found herself single and pregnant at the age of 19. Scared with no one to reach out to, Amy felt alone and confused—so much so that she contemplated getting an abortion even though she knew it wasn’t the right choice. She needed just one person to love her and accept her. She needed one person to tell her it would be okay. She needed a friend.
Amy went to an abortion clinic, and the sonogram technician told her that since she was almost seven weeks pregnant, it was way too late for her to do anything other than keep the baby, give it up for adoption or have an abortion. Not knowing what to do, Amy went home, still scared and lonely. Then out of the blue, her phone rang. It was Sacha, an old friend from high school who had gone through a pregnancy during their senior year. Amy told Sacha about her situation and the choices she was wrestling with. Encouraging and uplifting her, Sacha stayed on the phone until she was sure Amy knew that this pregnancy wasn’t the end. Sacha told Amy that it was just the beginning, God would be faithful to turn everything for good, and her baby was going to be a tremendous blessing.
Amy chose to keep her baby and soon married the love of her life. She gave birth to a baby boy and decided to name him Jess which means “gift from God.”
While at a women’s conference at Gateway Church in 2008, Amy heard Christine Caine talk about seeking God to find His calling for your life. On the last morning of the conference, God gave Amy a vision: She saw glimpses of her day at the abortion clinic, full of sadness and loneliness; but then the vision shifted to her full and happy life with her beautiful children and husband. It ended with her helping a single, pregnant woman and throwing a baby shower for her. Afterwards, Amy spoke to her friend, Salina, who had been with her at the conference and found out that she had also received a word during the conference about helping “mommies and babies!”
Six months later, after several meetings and going through some training, Amy and Salina started an outreach for single, pregnant women called “Embrace Grace.” This group ministers to young women by encouraging them and teaching them how God’s grace covers all; they simply need to receive His gift. Since the group has started, they’ve witnessed many miracles and transformed lives. And it all began because Amy’s friend, Sacha, was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading to pick up the phone and make a simple phone call.
The book of Acts tells us about another individual who was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and willing to be open to whatever God had in store. When the early church first began, it grew so rapidly and exponentially that it became difficult for the apostles to distribute food and money to its needy members without neglecting their primary ministry of prayer and preaching. Some widows came to them complaining that they were being overlooked and not receiving their fair share of food and money. Realizing that somebody had to be responsible for administrating the daily business of the church, the twelve apostles appointed a group of seven men who were full of faith, wisdom and the Holy Spirit to oversee this critical need. Philip was one of the seven men chosen.
One day, an angel of the Lord came to Philip and said to him: “Get up and go down the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Even though this particular road stretched for 50 miles through the desert and although he wasn’t told the reason for his journey or where it would take him, Philip obeyed and went where God told him to go—no questions asked, no hesitation.
We don’t know how far Philip walked down that hot, dusty, 50-mile road through the desert before he heard the sound of a horse-drawn chariot thundering up behind him. As the chariot flew by him, Philip caught a glimpse of a high-ranking Ethiopian official sitting in the chariot reading a scroll. In that moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to Philip and told him to go overtake the chariot. Even though the chariot was being pulled by horses and Philip was making his way on foot, once again, he didn’t hesitate or question. He simply obeyed and started running.
When Philip drew near to the chariot, he heard the Ethiopian official reading aloud a portion of Scripture from the book of Isaiah. Running alongside the chariot, Philip asked the man, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” He answered, “How can I understand unless someone explains it to me?” The official stopped the chariot and invited Philip to climb in and sit with him. As the two men continued to journey down the road, Philip began to explain how the passage from Isaiah was a prophecy from hundreds of years before that had recently been fulfilled through Jesus, the Son of God, who was crucified but three days later rose from the dead.
This message of good news resonated so strongly within the Ethiopian’s heart that he started to get excited. Spotting a stream of water, he asked Philip, “Is there any reason why I can’t be baptized right here and now?” Philip led the man into the water and baptized him. As they came out of the water, Philip suddenly disappeared! After obeying the Lord and accomplishing what the Lord had sent him to do, the Holy Spirit miraculously took Philip away. He later appeared in the city of Azotus, some 19 miles away from Gaza, where he continued to preach the gospel everywhere he went. Meanwhile, the official continued home to Ethiopia full of joy and excited to share the good news about Jesus with his own people.
Philip, Sacha and Amy were all where God wanted them to be … in the right place, at the right time. More importantly, they were sensitive to hear, believe and obey the Holy Spirit. Because Sacha was willing to obey the Holy Spirit’s prompting to call her friend, not only was Amy’s life transformed, but ultimately so was her family as well as every young woman who has and will come to the “Embrace Grace” support group. Likewise, Philip was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading even though it didn’t make sense and seemed a little crazy. Nevertheless, he obeyed, and as a result of his willingness and openness to hear, believe and obey the Holy Spirit, the Ethiopian man’s life was changed and the lives of all those he shared the gospel with.
Are you—like Amy, Sacha and Philip—tuned in to the Holy Spirit’s voice and sensitive to His leading? Ask the Holy Spirit today to show you specific ways to reach out and show His love to someone around you.

Friday, December 2, 2016



“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.”
“The poor you will always have with you.” As a young girl, Jessica Jackley’s heart was troubled when she read those words in her Bible. At first, she was terrified by the thought of poor people following her around her entire life asking her for something. But then she read Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me,” and her attitude towards the poor began to change.
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Jessica had a variety of experiences that ignited a passion in her for the poor. At church, she heard numerous missionaries from around the world speak about people overseas living in desperate conditions. She gave money every month to help sponsor and feed a child in a third world country, and when she was a senior in high school, Jessica chose to spend her spring break on a mission trip in Haiti. Seeing kids her own age spending their entire day working—just so they could eat—left a lasting imprint on her heart that she couldn’t forget.
A few weeks after she returned from Haiti, she was getting ready for her senior prom and was struck with the sudden thought: “Although it feels like those kids in Haiti are a world away, they’re really not. They’re only a plane ride away. They aren’t unreachable. I’m going to do something with my life to help them.”
Figuring that the best way to make a difference in places such as Haiti was to get involved in government, Jessica went on to attend Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where she majored in philosophy and political science. All the while, she continued to pursue her passion of helping those in need by interning at World Vision. During her junior year, she enrolled in a study abroad program called “Semester at Sea” and spent three months circling the globe on a ship and visiting various countries. Then, when she was a senior, Jessica attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. where she met Matt Flannery, a student from Stanford University in California. The two immediately hit it off and soon began a long-distance relationship.
Shortly after graduating, Jessica moved to California and got a job at Stanford Business School while Matt worked on his Master’s degree. They joined a 13-week pre-engagement class at their church and met with other couples to talk about important life issues such as faith, family and finances. One week, about midway through the course, the group members began discussing their long-term career goals. Matt started off: “I want to live in the Bay Area and work at a high-tech startup in Silicon Valley.” Jessica then followed him by saying, “Well, I want to live in Africa and work in finance to help the poor.” Suddenly, it was very awkward. There was sort of a deafening silence in the room, because everybody—including Matt and Jessica—realized they had a problem they needed to work out.
A year later, Matt and Jessica got married in spite of this issue, rationalizing that somehow the situation would eventually work itself out. Six months into their marriage, Jessica was offered the opportunity to pursue her dream job and spend half a year providing business training, funding and mentoring to farmers in rural areas of East Africa. She accepted the offer and headed to Africa while Matt stayed behind in the San Francisco Bay Area and focused on his new job at TiVo, Inc.
While Jessica was in Africa, Matt took several weeks off to visit her. During that trip, the couple prayed and decided to combine their individual passions and form—a microfinancing website that allows an individual from anywhere in the world to directly lend small amounts of money to an entrepreneur in a third world country who would not otherwise be able to receive any funds. This in turn helps the poor who receive the loan to improve life for themselves, their families and, ultimately, their communities.
At first, Matt and Jessica viewed their website as nothing more than a hobby—a little side project—their friends and family could get involved in. But word about Kiva spread like wildfire. Soon their site was averaging over a million hits per day, and Matt decided to quit his job at TiVo to focus on Kiva full-time.
What started off as a simple desire to follow Jesus’ call to help those in desperate need eventually evolved into a little side hobby website and has now turned into a massive international non-profit organization that’s been featured on The Today ShowThe Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, FOX News, TIME Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. Today, Kiva helps the poor all over the world by distributing over $100,000 in loans every 24 hours! More than 500,000 individuals from 182 different countries have loaned almost $100 million dollars to 228,000 entrepreneurs in approximately 50 countries. What’s even more astounding is that Kiva’s current repayment rate for their loans is 98.5%!
From the time Jessica was a little girl, God placed a dream deep within her heart to help the poor. He knew all along the twists and turns her life would take. God doesn’t do anything by chance or coincidence. He brings specific people and experiences into our lives that shape us for His purposes. Jessica’s life is a beautiful example of how God orders our steps to accomplish His purpose … to advance His kingdom. Because of her passionate, unwavering desire to follow and surrender to God’s leading, He orchestrated the events and opportunities of her life that step by step, bit by bit, led her to where she is now—a young woman pursuing her dream of making a huge difference in the world by offering hope to the hopeless.
God wants to use you … to send you. Don’t think you’re too young or too old for Him to use you. Regardless of your age, His plans for you are so much greater than you could ever imagine. What stirs your heart? What burning passion has God given you? Don’t grow weary and give up. The dreams He has placed in your heart He will accomplish—in wonderful, creative, unexpected ways—if you choose to seek Him, trust Him and obey Him. Ask yourself today: “Am I willing to be open to God’s will for my life?”



Then the Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied. “Throw it down on the ground,” the Lord told him.
It was just another ordinary day. Nothing special. Nothing out of the norm. For Moses, it was pretty much the same routine it had been for the past 40 years: Wake up. Take care of sheep all day. Go to bed. Start all over the next day. His years spent growing up as a prince in Pharaoh’s palace on the beautiful banks of the Nile seemed a lifetime away. Now his days consisted of taking care of his father-in-law’s flocks of sheep out on the dry and dusty desert plains of Midian. At 80 years old, his life was over. Whatever dreams he may have once had were now long gone.
It wasn’t a horrible life. In fact, it was pretty peaceful. In spite of his education and learning, Moses had come to accept his lot in life and resigned himself to it. But then he came across a burning bush. God asked him a question. And life as Moses knew it forever changed.
The sight of a bush burning in the desert probably wasn’t terribly shocking to Moses. But then, when the bush continued to blaze without burning up, his curiosity was piqued, and he drew closer to investigate. At that moment, Moses heard God’s voice coming from within the burning bush, calling him by name.
Imagine how Moses felt when God told him He had seen the agony of His people in Egypt and heard their cries for deliverance, and He was sending Moses to lead them out! For 40 years, he had led nothing but sheep. Is it any wonder that Moses responded with, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”
Do you know how God chose to answer Moses’ question? With a seemingly unrelated question of His own: “What’s in your hand?”
Now Moses must have wondered why God would ask him a question He obviously knew the answer to, but he simply replied, “A shepherd’s staff.” And then God commanded, “Throw it on the ground, Moses.” So Moses threw it on the ground, and lo and behold, it turned into a snake! Naturally, Moses turned and ran; that is, until he was stopped in his tracks by God’s command to pick up the snake by its tail. With a considerable amount of nervousness, Moses cautiously reached out his hand and picked the snake up by its tail, and it immediately became a staff again.
We don’t know how long Moses had been using that particular staff, but odds are that it was quite a while. Most likely, he had grown pretty familiar with all of the staff’s little nicks and grooves, and the passage of time had probably weathered the wood to the point where it was now smooth and completely at home in his hand. His staff represented so much more than just a walking stick. First, it represented his identity. Just as a stethoscope represents a doctor or a tool belt represents a mechanic, Moses’ staff was the most recognizable symbol of his occupation as a shepherd—his career, his job. Secondly, it was a symbol of his income. In those days, people didn’t have bank accounts, credit cards or hedge funds … they had cattle, goats and sheep. And as caretaker of his father-in-law’s flocks of sheep, Moses’ income—his money and possessions—was inextricably linked to his position. The third thing the staff symbolized was Moses’ influence. Because when a shepherd uses his staff to move sheep from Point A to Point B, he is essentially influencing them.
So in essence, when God asked Moses, “What’s in your hand?” and told him to “throw it on the ground,” He was saying, “Are you going to lay down your identity? Surrender your income? Let go of your influence? Because if you do, I’ll take something that seems dead to you, and I’ll make it come alive. I’ll make a miracle out of it. It may seem like an insignificant stick to you, but if you surrender it to My hands, I’ll do things you could never imagine possible.”
The question that God asked Moses so many years ago still resonates just as strongly today: What’s in your hand? Your talent, background, education, freedom, health, contacts, opportunities, mind, passions, wealth, ideas, creativity … What’s in your hand?
The first step to going out lies in giving in. Before we can “go,” God wants us to “let go” … to totally, completely, unconditionally, absolutely surrender to Him each and every single day.
So ask yourself today, “What’s in my hand?”
God can’t give you the blessings He has for you until you first put down the other things you are clutching in your hands.
Richard Stearns

Let's Go!

JOIN US FOR 21 DAYS AS WE FOLLOW GATEWAY CHURCH'S Let’s Go devotional intended to encourage and inspire you to follow Jesus’ Great Commission to “go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone” (Mark 16:15).
When we think about “going,” it’s easy to immediately start thinking about packing up everything we own and heading out to a foreign country to live as a missionary. And while that is a part of it, that’s not all of it.
Going is simply reaching beyond ourselves—stepping out in faith as God leads. It’s about stepping outside of our comfort zones and taking our faith beyond the four walls of our church buildings and homes. It’s about sharing the message of Jesus’ good news in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our schools, our cities, our nation and around the world. It’s about obeying God’s call and partnering with Him to redeem our culture—our world—from darkness and sin.
Over the next 21 days, you’ll read stories of men and women who obeyed Jesus’ call to go. You’ll see how God used their willingness to go to transform lives around the world. For some, it was as simple as giving a hug. For others, it involved leaving their family, friends and home to minister in another nation. The single common thread throughout all of these true stories about real people is that each person heard God, believed Him and obeyed His call to step out and go. Our prayer is that through these stories you will be inspired, challenged and, ultimately, motivated to go.
Before you begin each day, we encourage you to ask the Lord to let your spiritual eyes and ears be open to whatever He wants to say to you and show you. Ask Him to break your heart for the things that break His. And then, be willing to trust Him, step out and go.
Ready? Set? Go!