Thursday, January 30, 2014
We are only heading into Week 5 of the study and I have learned an interesting concept which is what this post is about. You see in the story there are actually two stories. The Upper Story and The Lower Story. The upper story is God's story and plan. The lower story is actually our story. In the beginning these two stories would actually be one story running together in Eden. However as I said we messed it up and the two stories diverged. However they are still intertwined until the very end where they will join together as one.
Let me give you an example of this through the life of Joseph. In his story he is abused by his brothers, sold as a slave to gypsies traveling to Egypt, becomes a servant to Potiphar, falsely accused and thrown into jail, interprets dreams for the Pharaoh and becomes second in command and finally creates a conservation plan that saves both Egypt and Israel. Interesting story filled with ups and downs. I am sure many times Joseph was wondering what was going on and where his life was leading him. In God's story He has a plan. He is going to make Israel into a great nation. Israel would be his chosen people and a would redeem the world. They would be an example and the path to salvation. This is the overall Upper Story-God's plan to bring us back to Him. The Israelites would need to survive a famine in order for this part of the story to continue. God put everything in motion through the Lower Story to keep things intact for the Upper Story. Do you see what he did there? The Upper story is written all the way through to the end. The Lower story interacts and intertwines with in to bring it to conclusion.
How does this relate to us? It is important to remember that each and everyone of us has a story that is being written and that it relates to God's story. We may feel lost, afraid, unwanted, unloved and not worthy. However that is not true. God loves us and is using us to bring His story to fruition. This is something that I am trying to remember now on a daily basis. "How does my lower story relate to His Upper Story?" I may not understand it fully but as I meditate on it I can begin to bring my story more into line with His. Each day I need to pray that I am growing closer to what He wants with my life so that as I finish I can end being blessed and knowing that I have done what He wanted. That my story has contributed to His in the way He wanted. <><
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Karen and I work diligently when speaking to potential sponsors (through Compassion) to explain that it is not the dollars but the relationship that is important to the child. As the child is sponsored and begins to attend a project they begin to grow in a relationship with caring adults as well as learning about God. Sponsors who write further that relationship and in fact create an entire new relationship where a child is valued and cared for by someone they do not even know. The program works as I have seen children blessed by those letters. On the other hand sponsors who do not write hinder the relationship and often leave children wondering why they are not being written too. For a child in poverty a letter and a relationship is a treasure thing.
This post comes as a result of my recent trip to Romania through Remember the Children. One of the gifts I received on this trip was being blessed through forming relationships. I came back with a renewed sense of how important relationships are. My work with Compassion and which I constantly speak of is being "relational". I can speak well of it but this trip brought it home to me. Seeing children climb into the laps of team members, seeing the gypsies dancing with us, seeing an elderly orphan cry in happiness at being baptized and seeing strong family units that are put together through God brought it all home. A smile or silly face can bring sunshine to a dreary day. A hug and a smile can bring light to a child's eye. Sitting down with an elderly orphan and just listening (even with a language barrier) can be life changing. Handing out those Christmas boxes to children began a relationship with them and the local church that proved they were loved and cared for.
Just remember that it is our calling to be relational to everyone we encounter. Just taking a minute to "step into" another's life and letting them know we care and are there for them can be life changing. <><
Monday, December 30, 2013
I am going to do something here and ask for accountability. I am placing three goals here in writing on my blog. I challenge anyone that comes across this post anytime during the year to ask me how I am doing and am I continuing in my resolutions. I am keeping it simple and setting three goals that I wish to work on this coming year. God, Family and Self are the three areas that I am addressing.
The first, I am most excited about as it will be the focus of the first eight months of this year. My church is doing the study "The Story"- the entire church from children to adults will be aligned at the same time studying the same lessons. It is my resolution to remain true to this study as well as committing to a deeper quiet time with God. This year in addition to meditating on my readings in "Our Daily Bread" I am going to be doing a daily meditation from an "Experiencing God" devotional. I hope to grow closer to God and find better direction in my life with all three of these.
Secondly I want to be a better husband and father to my family. I obviously am not perfect and would like to concentrate on making my actions count for more. I need to watch the tongue and let things go. I want to continue to grow the relationship Karen and I have. I know God has things planned for the two of us and I want to be more in tune with that calling.
Finally there is the matter of self. I am now middle aged and need to pay better attention to my health. Already I have started this journey by getting a physical (which I put off for too long) and need to work on getting back into shape. I can stand to lose 20-30 pounds and of course need to get back to the gym. This starts with the New Year. I am committed to this.
All three of these are probably your typical resolutions but it is my plan to make them a reality. I am going to start out gently with baby steps. I will do my quiet time each day without fail. I will watch my words and think before I speak. Finally I will commit to going to the gym a minimum of 3 times a week for at least 30-45 minutes. I can grow from there. All I ask is that you hold me accountable. Thanks!
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
With an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education I know the importance of reaching out to children in their early stages of development in order to make a difference. Giving hope and helping them reach their potential should be every adults focus. This is my wish for this Christmas. As we prepare to sit down in our comfort with our families I pray that we take a minute and remember those that 'have not". Offer a prayer, sponsor a child, make a contribution to some fund that will assist those less fortunate. This year reach out an make a difference. Please!
My specific prayer this Christmas that I will offer up this Christmas Eve will be for each of my sponsored children. May they know the potential they have and continue to strive for that. I will pray for Southern Mexico Missions that they will continue to reach the unchurched and spread the Good News. I will pray for the continued growth of the Christian church in Romania. I specifically lift up the new friends I have there and pray that they will continue to be encouraged. Finally I ask prayer for direction in my calling. I would love to be 100% working for God and I know what He has placed in my heart. I pray for openings if this be His will. Please join with me in prayer. Blessings <><
Friday, December 6, 2013
- Today our week begins to come to an end. So many amazing memories and stories to tell. I know one thing though. As usual I am coming away more blessed than when I entered this amazing country. I have been touched by the welcomes we have received, the hugs and the smiles. Several amazing moments are standing our for me right now:
- In all of the churches we visited the children had taken the time to prepare a song for us in English. As bad as our attempts to speak Romanian have been they were amazing in singing to us in English. Funny thing is often we would try to say something to them in their language and they would respond in English.
- Going into the schools to celebrate Christmas and tell the Christmas story. Again each of the schools had prepared a presentation for us. Can't do that back in the United States.
- Sitting in a church in a remote village when the pastor walked in and up to me and said "Chuck, how are you?" Standing there with my mouth open he explained he had "friended" me on Facebook. Amazing how much smaller the world has become but equally cool because I now have friends overseas. I have added several friends including including Pastor Danny (who we are partnering with here) so that we can pray and make a difference together.
- Going to a church that was dead three years ago and walked in to 175 children clapping and cheering for us as if we were celebrities. Talk about a humbling experience.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
We arrived there and were heartily greeted. There were only a minimal amount of children. We did our candy cane story, gave out some candy, danced in the street and played some games. It was muddy and dirty but our hearts were filled. We decided we would come back later when their were more children and promised to do so. We visited another church for about two hours before heading back to the village. When we returned the children ran and gathered around us. The chief of the village came and helped organize the distribution of our boxes, coats and shoes. I need to add that Tony ( a member of our team) brought along boxes of sunglasses and crocs to be handed out. They proved to be a blessing. Distribution was organized chaos as some wanted more than what we could offer but the chief kept things in control. On a negative note we think we saw some of the things that we provided being resold on the street as soon as we gave them out. That is the way of life here and I can only imagine that there was a greater need for the money rather than the coat or shoes. God is in control and we can't let disappointment get in the way of His plans.
Speaking of plans, Danny (the pastor), also has this village on his heart. He lives nearby and is active in this community to bring the gypsies to Christ. Sadly many years ago the Word was brought here but no one followed through. Danny has vowed to change that and is working hard here. Other local churches will not welcome the gypsies into their places of worship. It is part of Danny's plan to build a church here in the village. It will cost 20-25 thousand USD but it can be done. Danny's wife would also like to see an after-school care for the children as part of this plan. I know this can be done with help and prayer and we are excited to be a part of this and watch it unfold.
Monday, December 2, 2013
We left on Friday morning (11/29) and traveled for close to 26-28 hours. We went from Baltimore to New York to Paris to Budapest and then drove over into Romania. This was perhaps the part I dreaded most. Just being idle for that long period of time is really not my thing. I did not really sleep during that period but overall I survived.
So we are now in Romania. We have had food beyond belief. I will be coming home heavier then when I left. Our hosts make sure we have plenty and we have to eat what is given. I officially had Hungarian Goulash and some other neat stuff. We worshiped on Sunday in two churches. The first was just a little church with few members. Those that attend are shunned by neighbors because they are going to a Christian church and not an Orthodox one. Still they remain strong. The second church was larger and I shared my testimony. It was a blessing. We worked in the warehouse unpacking the large boxes and going through the Christmas boxes. We needed to make sure that there were no inappropriate items and each box had at least the minimum that should be in each. I did find my own box which is cool. Hopefully I can hand deliver it to someone. <><