Haiti: We can do more than pray

This is long but please read

Please don’t turn a blind eye to those in need in Haiti. They are suffering in ways that are unimaginable. Lately, the Lord has been stirring our family’s heart toward those who are in need – namely, the poor, the hungry, the naked, the blind. Our initial motivation to help was to appease our guilt or some similar reason, however, as we read the words of Christ, I cannot help but see his compassion and concern for those who suffer in poverty.

LUKE 14:12-14

Last week, I listened to these verses read in Luke 14:12-14 where Christ tells his audience to not serve those who are able to pay you back but to bless those who are “poor, crippled, lame, blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS

I plead with my fellow believers, for the love of Christ, to put feet to our theology and have compassion on those who are helpless and unable to ever repay you. Your reward will be great in heaven!

I read this indictment against Israel, and wonder how much this applies to me.

Ezekiel 16:49 “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.”

I ask myself, Did God place me in one of the most prosperous nations in the world only to pad our retirement funds, stuff our waistlines, adorn our houses and divert our attention to pleasure? I really don’t mean that saving money and eating etc. are sinful. But we can forget that the Lord has equipped some to be able to jump in when necessary to minister to those who can’t help themselves. I do believe that if you are able, now is one of those times. Praise the Lord that He is merciful and abundant in His provision to us!

What happens in the next few days are critical as they will need equipment to move large debris that will save people trapped under collapsed buildings, they need the basics – food, water, shelter, and medical supplies – so that those who survived the earthquake will survive the elements and injuries they’ve sustained. They need money to mobilize aid in the places that are needed most with the supplies that will be most helpful. If you can, I would urge you to take two minutes and make a donation to any of these organizations that I have listed below. If you know of others that are respectable and honorable in their ministry, please post them here.

DO MORE THAN PRAY: SPREAD THE WORD

Of course, we will pray. We will not forget that the God of the universe, the Sovereign Lord hears and answers prayer. However, another thing you can do is spread the word. It’s another world out there, one that doesn’t touch us. Look at those images and see if your heart doesn’t get stirred by the suffering. We can lift up prayers and open our eyes in response to the gospel that Christ preached. But we can do more than pray.

* Copy this and post it on your own facebook notes. Tag as many people as possible.

* Take one day and encourage others to take a few minutes to pray and make a small (or large) donation!

* How about challenging people to give up one night out and donate the money saved to Haiti?

* Wouldn’t it be surprising if we opened the news and there were no headlines drawing our attention to the disaster? How about giving up your status update for one day to remind our friends that there’s more to life than the errands we ran that day?

* I’m not writing this as an indictment. Just a heartfelt plea to come out of our comfort zones for just a little and take a good, hard look at what people are suffering right now!

TEACHING COMPASSION TO OUR CHILDREN

I have some ideas of what we’re going to do with the children in order to give my children opportunities to extend compassion and aid. I’m really bad about this as I’ve taught my kids the opposite!

* I’m putting up a little map of Haiti in our kitchen.

* Print out the page on Haiti from Operation World and start praying for this people group

* Get a roll of quarters and let your children do extra chores, etc. and give them money to put into a donation jar. Let them watch you make the donation on a website.

* Read verses that speak of Christ’s compassion.

* Sell some items (toys, books, clothes) and raise some money to donate.

* Let your older kids get exposed to some of the photos that vividly show what happened. I think we shield our children too much sometimes. Shield them at your discretion, however, let them see some of the nightmare that these children in another part of the world live through.

* Fast through one or two meals. Every time they feel hunger, have them put a coin into a donation jar.

* One person wrote that she’s making bread and baked goods to sell to raise money. Great idea!

ORGANIZATIONS

Children’s Hunger Fund

Samaritan’s Purse

Compassion International

Sovereign Grace Ministries Disaster Relief

Feed My Starving Children

Northwest Haiti Christian Mission

World Vision

Cancer in Light of Eternity

Wow. I haven’t finished watching this video yet.  However, I want to share this link of a young mom my age, who is not going to live to see her 38th birthday.  What is considered by most to be a tragedy is bringing great glory to God.  You often hear that only the weak and the simple need the crutch of religion (i.e. Christ).  The strongest people I know acknowledge that it is the truth and that the strength they exude is from Christ alone.  

“Cancer does not define me. Neither does being a wife or a mother. All these things are part of who I am but they do not define me. What defines me is my relationship with Jesus.”

“Run in With Robbers”

Oh my. Please read this account of this man getting attacked and robbed.  

After that, read the latest update here.  I am in tears to see not only how God takes the scum of the earth (me!) and does a life-changing work, He gave His precious Son, Jesus to do it! 

Thank You, my Lord and my God!

Prayer for Joni Eareckson Tada

I’ve been thinking of Joni Eareckson Tada all morning.  What grace the Lord has shown to me through her life!  I have much to be challenged by considering her suffering and her understanding of God’s sovereignty.  Justin Taylor has a video of one of her latest talks on his website and you can see her struggling to breathe: Between Two Worlds

Justin Taylor:  I asked her how readers of this blog could pray for her.

 

She wrote: I’ve been doing better and feeling much stronger since that presentation at the Dallas Theological Seminary chapel. If I were to ask for anything, I would say…

 

Pray that my very thin fragile bones gain bone mineral density from the quarterly Boniva treatments.

 

Ask God to help my family and care givers “be careful” when lifting me in or out of bed and other transfers onto airplanes.

 

Ask God to infuse courage into my heart daily! Pray away anxiety and fear of the future.

 

Help me not to become me-centered when I’m in pain!

 

Ask God to bring a helper who might be able to assist during nighttimes once a week — I’d like to give Ken and my friend Judy a break.

 

Ask God to alleviate the side affects of the pain medication I take… eventually I would like to wean myself off of it!

 

Plead to God that I might know Jesus better through all of this and not “waste” my sufferings!!

 

So would you consider taking these requests before the throne of grace? I know that she is deeply thankful.

Please join me in praying for this dear sister in Christ.  She has ministered to so many over the years.  The Lord has strengthened and inspired His people through her courage and dependence on her Savior.

Am I a Selfish Little Clod?

A wife writes to her imprisoned husband, Christopher Love, a 17th-century Puritan martyr with powerful and heavenly-minded words as he awaits execution for false charges while demonstrating unshakeable faith.  She beseeches him not to be overly concerned for herself or their numerous children.  Rather, she reminds him of the incomparable riches of glory that await him and urges him to look ahead. 

“Thy Maker will be my husband, and a Father to thy children.  O that the Lord would keep thee from having one troubled thought for thy relations. I desire freely to give thee up into thy Father’s hands, and not only look upon it as a crown of glory for thee to die for Christ, but as an honor to me that I should have a husband to leave for Christ… Thou leavest but a sinful, mortal wife to be everlastingly married to the Lord of glory… Thou leavest friends on earth to go to the enjoyment of saints and angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect in glory…If natural affections should begin to arise, I hope that spirit of grace that is within thee will quell then, knowing that all things here below are but dung and dross in comparison of those things that are above.” ~ Mary Love

The rest of the letter demonstrates an amazing trust in the good and wise God who decreed that this ‘little stroke’ should separate them earlier than they might have expected.  Reading passages like these make my heart cry out, “What has changed?  Where is faith like this now?  Lord, grant me even a small fraction of this kind of faith!”

I’m reminded of a quote I read earlier of those who live life with a heavenly mindset and those who fuss and fidget away every precious earthly moment:

“This is true joy in life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a  feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” ~ George Bernard Shaw (quoted in Crazy Love by Francis Chan)

Lord, please help me live in light of eternity.

My Failures, His Mercy

My thoughts were jarred this morning when I read “A Marriage Prayer” in my study this morning “As Unto the Lord: A Tool for Wives Who Want to Glorify God” by Doorposts.

Teach them that marriage is not living for each other…

May they not expect that perfection of each other that belongs alone to Thee.

May they minimize each others’ weaknesses…

Give them a little something to forgive each day, 

that they may grow in the grace of longsuffering and of love.

Now make such assignments to them on the scroll of Thy will

as will bless them and develop their characters as they walk together.

Praying that God would give us “a little something to forgive each day”???  Think about it!!!  Meditate upon it and perhaps you will be surprised, then ashamed, then repentant, then thankful for the manifold opportunities to “develop our character”.  What is the Lord teaching me lately as I run across those (like those in today’s readings: Pam Forster, John Piper, Thomas Watson, and Marsha) who consider failures as God’s mercy, trials as God’s grace, suffering as God’s love.  Let me explain.

Instead of viewing my weakness with despair, can I give thanks to God for the opportunity to depend wholly upon Him for strength?

Instead of seeing my shortcomings with frustration, can I embrace my All in all as the Author and Perfecter of my faith?

Instead of considering my failures with self-condemnation, can I kneel before my Savior with a repentant, contrite heart?

Instead of being seized with fears without and within, can I cling tightly to my Lord and cry out ‘Abba Father’?

Can I allow my tears to keep me ‘tenderhearted’ towards my God and others? (thought from the prayer)

Can my hurts keep me sympathetic and merciful?

Can I view life’s interruptions as divinely-ordained practice to perfect patience?

Can my children’s exasperating behavior strengthen the resolve of my peace?

Can the trials that storm me undergird my submission to Sovereignty?

Can others’ mistakes and wrongdoings create exercises of forgiveness?

Can I view all these things without self-centered eyes – sharply aware of my own need for His grace, quietly acknowledging His merciful plan for my sanctification?

And it IS merciful.  Our flesh thrives in lukewarm, untroubled water.  He is merciful for not letting me continue on my laodicean way.  His rod of discipline administers loving and purifying blows.  His staff leads me in paths of righteousness but often I first must pass through the valley of the shadow of death.

The more I read about George Muller, the more I’m stunned by the grace of God marking His life.  When his only child was struck with a deadly illness, he recalls this:

While I was in this affliction, this great affliction, besides being at peace…I also felt perfectly at peace with regard to the cause of the affliction.  Once on a former occasion, the hand of the Lord was heavily laid on me…it was the Father’s rod, applied in infinite wisdom and love, for the restoration of my soul from a state of lukewarmness…  At this time, however, I had no such feeling.  I was assured that this affliction was not upon me in the way of the fatherly rod, but for the trial of my faith… by God’s abundant mercy, I own it to His praise, I was enabled to delight myself in the will of God; for I felt perfectly sure, that, if the Lord took this beloved daughter, it would be best for her parents, best for herself, and more for the glory of God than if she lived:  this better part I was satisfied with; and thus my heart had peace, perfect peace, and I had not a moment’s anxiety.

By God’s grace, she was spared but his wife died several years later and this is what he said:

Psalm 119:68 “You are good, and do good.”

1. The Lord was good, and did good, in giving her to me.

2. The Lord was good, and did good, in so long leaving her to me.

3. The Lord was good and did good, in taking her from me.

Everyday I see more and more how great is her loss to the orphans.  Yet, without an effort, my inmost soul habitually joys in the joy of that loved departed one.  Her happiness gives joy to me….  God Himself has done it; we are satisfied with Him.

From The Pleasures of God by John Piper, p. 182-184

So, my blemishes, my flaws, my sufferings, my trials, the irritations, the frustrations, the inconveniences, the unfulfillment… all are visible displays of His mercy.  For He exchanges His strength for my weakness. And that is merciful indeed.

Deep Love for the Father’s Glory

September 11th, 2001   I pray that we remember what happened on that awful day.  I pray we are thankful for the relative peace and freedom we enjoy by God’s grace.  For me, 9/11 was the one day in my life I can look back and pinpoint when God shook me to the very core.  9/11 bookends my spiritual awakening with the startling realization of the awfulness of sin, the depravity of man, the futility of life, the waste of human sacrifice – all without Christ.  To continue life without seeking Him seemed strikingly meaningless and senseless.  I can distinctly look back and draw a line before and after 9/11.  I believe life has never been the same again.

I think of another horrific event in history that we should never forget.  One Man died, not 3000.  One Man was sacrificed but not unwillingly.  It was a plan conceived before the beginning of time, not a senseless murderous plot to destroy, but a purposeful act of love to redeem.  It wasn’t a blood-thirst for appeasing hatefulness, it was the deepest love for the Father’s glory.  Let us never forget.

“When the Father forsook the Son and handed him over to the curse of the cross and lifted not a finger to spare him pain, he had not ceased to love the Son.  In that very moment when the Son was taking upon himself everything that God hates in us, and God was forsaking him to death, even then the Father knew that the measure of his Son’s suffering was the depth of his Son’s love for the Father’s glory.”  John Piper, The Pleasures of God

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