Check Out Our Website

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Do Something - Day 7

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

Have you ever been watching the news, listening to the radio or sitting in church and heard a story about some kind of crisis or injustice going on in the world and thought to yourself: “Somebody should do something”?
Have you ever considered the source of that thought? Where did that thought come from? Do you think that maybe … just maybe … that thought could have come from God? And maybe He’s wanting you to be the somebody who does something?
Nancy Zirkel and her husband, Doug, first learned about the AIDS pandemic when Princess Zulu came to speak at their church. Princess Zulu grew up in Zambia and lost her baby sister to AIDS … then her mother … then her father. At the age of 14, she dropped out of school and got pregnant. When she was 17, Princess married her boyfriend, a man 25 years older than her who had already lost two wives to AIDS. Now, at 28 years old, she is HIV positive. Although she knows that she will one day leave behind her two daughters, Joy and Faith, Princess says that God has given her joy and hope in the midst of her devastating circumstances. Because of her desire to do whatever she can to help others infected with HIV, Princess now travels around the world telling people about the AIDS crisis in Africa and urging them to do something to fight its spread.
When Doug and Nancy heard Princess Zulu speak about the devastating effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, they were blown away by the fact that the greatest humanitarian crisis in history was happening right now and they didn’t know anything about it. They thought to themselves: “We’ve got to do something! We’ve got to help. And if we didn’t know anything about it, most of the people we know—our family and friends—probably don’t know anything about it either. And if they knew, they’d certainly want to do something.”
So the Zirkels decided to raise awareness of this global crisis by throwing a party and inviting everybody they knew over to their home. They asked Princess Zulu to come explain to 50 of their friends and family about what was happening in Africa because of AIDS and then ask them to help by sponsoring children. Speaking about that night, Nancy says: “Doug and I planned to ask everyone at the end of the night to help by sponsoring a child in Africa through World Vision. But we also wanted to make sure people continued to respond after the night was over. We thought it would be a great idea to ask everyone if they’d like to throw a party of their own for their friends and family. I was the one elected to get up in front of all my family and friends and speak, and I was nervous about it. At the last minute, I started to chicken out and told my husband ‘I can’t do it! You go ahead and do it!’ And Doug, being the wonderful, supportive and encouraging husband that he is, simply said, ‘You can do it. I know you can do it. Now go.’ And he just kind of gave me the little push that I really needed. As I walked up there, I threw up a quick, ‘Please help me, Lord. Give me the courage, and put the right words in my mouth.’ Then I got up there and did it. I asked everyone if they would be interested in having a party. I told them, “If two or three of you guys have parties, and two or three of your friends have parties, this could grow and multiply. And who knows how many kids could be sponsored and how many lives could be saved!’”
Because of that night, new doors started opening for the Zirkels and wonderful things began to happen. World Vision approached them about taking their idea of throwing house parties and turning it into a national program to promote in churches across the United States. Nancy was also asked to speak to a group of children from kindergarten through fifth grade about how they could get involved in helping kids infected with AIDS in Africa. Knowing that many children feel like they can’t really do anything significant because they’re young and nobody pays attention to them, Nancy wanted them to fully understand that the opposite of that is true. So she talked to them about how the apostle Paul told Timothy, “Don’t let anyone treat you as if you’re unimportant because you’re young.” Nancy then gave each of the kids a little coin bank to fill up with change. Within a few weeks, the children had raised over $15,000! Recalling that moment, Nancy says, “It was amazing! These kids came in with their banks filled to the brim. We had them dump their coins into buckets. They brought in so much change, the handles even broke on some of the buckets because they were so heavy! But these kids kept bringing in money with joyful hearts and compassionate spirits … it was just beautiful to witness.”
For Nancy and Doug, the act of “going” simply began by inviting friends and family members over to their home. When God placed a burden on their hearts, they didn’t sit back passively and say, “Somebody should do something.” No, they chose to act on it. And their willingness to trust and obey God’s leading bore fruit in ways they could have never imagined. Their simple act of obedience sparked a ripple effect that is continuing to impact the lives of countless others.
Maybe the thought of going out and doing something that God is leading you to do seems daunting. You may not even know where to begin. That’s OK. You don’t have to do something huge or complex. Simply ask God to show you how you can obey His leading. Then act on it, and trust Him to be faithful to do the rest.
Things great have small beginnings. Every downpour is just a raindrop; every fire is just a spark; every harvest is just a seed; Every journey is just a step because without that step there will be no journey; Without that raindrop there can be no shower; Without that seed there can be no harvest.
William Wilberforce


Monday, January 9, 2017

Let's Go! Day 6 A Drop in the Bucket

Day: 6
One of the disciples—it was Andrew, brother to Simon Peter—said, “There’s a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But that’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.” … Then Jesus took the bread and, having given thanks, gave it to those who were seated. He did the same with the fish. All ate as much as they wanted.
Taylor first heard about Cans for Africa while serving on a leadership council at the University of Central Oklahoma during his freshman year. A man from Kenya by the name of John Kipsitet came and talked to the leadership about Cans for Africa—an organization he started because he wanted to do something to help African children affected by AIDS. His desire was to raise money to build a shelter, a clinic and a school for the orphans of Africa.
The concept behind Cans for Africa was birthed when John first visited the US and saw empty aluminum cans lying discarded everywhere he went. He was dumbfounded by what he saw, because in Africa, cans are a valuable commodity. You never saw a can on the ground, because to the people there, it represented money. John realized that if people would just collect the cans and turn them in to a recycling center, they could raise money and make an eternal impact in the lives of millions of kids affected by AIDS in Africa.
When Taylor heard about John’s vision, he was compelled to act. At this point, Cans for Africa wasn’t much more than the vision of one man, and John had come to the leadership council at the University of Central Oklahoma asking for help. As John spoke, Taylor recalled the words Jesus had spoken in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much” (Matthew 5:46). He realized that Jesus didn’t do things for others based on what He could get back from them; He did it out of the overflow of His heart.
Challenged to step out of his comfort zone, Taylor decided to get involved. He was appointed as the leadership council’s chairperson responsible for overseeing the Cans for Africa project. He made it his mission to galvanize support for the organization by creating thousands of flyers and spreading the word as much as possible. And together, Taylor and John have raised 20 thousand dollars by collect almost one million aluminum cans.
What’s an aluminum can to you? Probably nothing whatsoever. It’s little more than a drop in a bucket. But to those whose lives are being impacted by Cans for Africa, a can is the difference between life and death.
The Bible tells us the story of a boy who didn’t have much but turned what little he had over to the hands of Jesus, and as a result, thousands of people were fed.
Jesus had been teaching and healing people all afternoon, but now it was getting late and people were starting to get hungry. Not wanting to deal with the prospect of a hungry mob of people at least ten thousand strong, the disciples came to Jesus urging Him to send the crowd home so they could get food for themselves. But rather than heeding their advice, Jesus told His disciples to go out themselves and give the people in the crowd something to eat. The disciples were stunned. There was absolutely no way they could get enough food to feed such a large amount of people. They would all have to work a month just to get enough money together to give each person a tiny piece of bread!
The disciples halfheartedly made their way through the crowd, checking to see if anyone had brought any food with them. Peter’s brother, Andrew, happened to stumble across a young boy who had brought his lunch with him to come hear Jesus that day. We don’t know much of anything about this little boy. We don’t know his name, his age or where he was from. What we do know is what he did … he gave his lunch—everything he had—to Jesus.
The lunch wasn’t much. It was simply five pieces of bread and two tiny fish. It amounted to nothing more than a drop in a bucket compared to what they needed to feed a crowd of five thousand hungry men, plus their wives and children. The boy was probably reluctant to even offer his lunch. In the face of such an overwhelming need, it must have seemed puny. Nevertheless, the boy surrendered his lunch of two fish and five pieces of bread. He didn’t make his decision to give Jesus his lunch because it was logical or practical; he made it based on faith.
Jesus took the bread and fish, thanked God for providing it, and gave it to His disciples to disperse to the crowd. The disciples looked at each other in confusion, shrugged their shoulders and proceeded to obey Jesus although they probably thought He was going crazy. As they distributed the bread and the fish, something miraculous happened. The more food they gave out, the more food kept appearing! Not only were the disciples able to feed everyone in the crowd until they were full, but they were able to gather twelve basketfuls of leftovers!
To the vast majority of people, five pieces of bread and two small fish or an aluminum can are totally insignificant. It’s a tiny drop in a massive bucket. But a tiny drop in the hands of God is more than enough to feed a multitude of more than ten thousand people or build a shelter, clinic and school for orphans in Africa.
What about you? Will you give everything you have—whether you think it’s much or just an insignificant drop in the bucket—and surrender it into the hands of God? If you’re willing, God can take what you’ve given and miraculously use it to bring glory to Him.
Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee … take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Frances R. Havergal

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Let's Go! Day 5 Guess Whose Coming to Dinner?

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

Born and raised in a strong Christian home, Micah spent most of her life actively involved in her home church until she moved away at the age of 18. Over the next seven years, she drifted away from church because she just couldn’t find one that felt like “home.” Shortly after she turned 25, Micah went through some situations that caused her to realize she desperately needed a radical change in her life and her hunger for God began to intensify.
She visited some churches near her home, but she felt isolated and alone when she was there. One Sunday morning, Micah decided to check out Gateway—a local church that some of her friends had recommended. Arriving about 25 minutes before the service began, she noticed that, unlike the churches she had previously visited, the greeters at the door looked her in the eye and immediately made her feel welcomed and at home. Micah found an empty seat near the front and patiently waited for the service to start. Mike and Karen Maddox, along with their three kids, sat down in the seats next to her, and quickly struck up a conversation with her.
The service began and Micah found herself drawn in and engaged by the worship and the message. When the invitation came at the end, Micah slipped out of her seat, made her way down to the front and waited for someone to pray with her. To her surprise, Karen Maddox came down to the front as well and asked Micah if she could pray with her. After they finished praying, Karen turned to Micah and asked, “If you don’t have any plans after church, why don’t you come over to our house and have lunch with us?” Micah gladly accepted the offer and went over to the Maddox’s home that afternoon. Mike and Karen made Micah feel like part of the family. That day, a relationship began that has continued to impact her life.
Although she thoroughly enjoyed the service and her time with the Maddox family, Micah didn’t go back to church until she lost her job nine months later. That experience completely rocked her world, and Micah realized that only God could help her now. The next Sunday, she went back to the church where she first met the Maddoxes. At that service, Micah made the decision to relinquish control of her life to God and depend solely on Him.
Micah quickly became a member of Gateway and joined the small group hosted by the Maddoxes. The group prayed for Micah’s job situation, and soon she got a job as a graphic designer at the church. After being a recipient of the Maddox’s example of kindness and hospitality, Micah has since opened her own home to host a group for young single ladies … all because of one family’s sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading to extend a dinner invitation to a young woman.
The Bible tells about another person whose life was transformed because of a dinner invitation. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector for the city of Jericho—similar to an IRS employee. He was notoriously famous for cheating people and had amassed a fortune by overtaxing the people. As the most corrupt guy in town, he was both a social and religious pariah, and people hated him.
When news reached Zacchaeus that Jesus had come to Jericho, his curiosity got the best of him and he decided to go see what all the fuss was about. Being a fairly short man, he wasn’t able to see above the crowd gathered around Jesus. But Zacchaeus didn’t get to where he was by not being resourceful. Looking around, he spotted a sycamore tree with limbs low to the ground that were ideal for climbing. He quickly scaled the tree, so he’d have a prime view of Jesus when He was passing by.
As Jesus was walking by, He looked up and saw Zacchaeus sitting perched up in the tree. Not having a house of His own, Jesus invited Himself over for dinner at Zacchaeus’ home. The Bible says Zacchaeus “took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy,” so it’s obvious that people really enjoyed being around Jesus. He never religiously judged or condemned people or looked down on them, except for those who were legalistic, hypocritical and judgmental themselves. In fact, it was the judgmental people who had an issue with Jesus going to Zacchaeus’ house, but of course, Jesus didn’t let that stop Him. And as a result, Zacchaeus’ heart was radically transformed. Here was a man who was as crooked and corrupt as they come, but because Jesus invited Himself over for dinner, Zacchaeus ended up not only giving away half of everything he owned to the poor, he also vowed to pay back four times the amount to anyone he’d cheated.
“Going” isn’t by any means limited to packing up everything you own and moving overseas to minister to tribes in the jungle. In fact, one of the most effective ways to minister is simply going out of your way to invite people over for dinner. Everyone has to eat at some point in time, right?
How hard is it to walk up to someone and say: “Hey, come over to my house and have dinner with my family and me this week” or “Let me buy you coffee this week”? It’s really that easy, and it’s always worth it!
Each of us is hardwired to pursue God wholeheartedly and to love one another without reservation. That’s the essence of the two greatest commandments—love God; love others. God wants us to reach out to others through our relationships with them. What better place to start than around the dinner table?