Surprise

March 29, 2014 1 comment

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What’s the good word? If you let God surprise you, be prepared. So many times when we are in our comfort zones, we get so routine that we don’t allow God to surprise us, or God does and we just don’t even recognize it. That tends to be different when we are out of our comfort zones and bring our guard down. That was true, time and time again today.

We headed back out to Robit today. We were going to meet with the regional representative that looks after all the schools for the government. He wanted to see the books we bought and he needed to officially record them so that they would be handled properly. We learned a lot and are looking forward to continuing this relationship with him in the future. 

Yohannes, our guide, wanted us to talk to an orphan boy by the name of Mulugete. His father died when he was an infant and with no income his mother died when he was two. He has had no education and has been living off of what folks in the village were giving him. Sleeping wherever he could. The elders and community members were worried about him. His story touched my heart, and as well of the hearts of those on the trip with us. We all decided to split the cost and sponsor him through our friend Michaels new organization Tesfaye Ministries, an organization that seeks to help widows and orphans. Mike set up the program, and well let’s just say that at the end of this day, Mulugete will have a place to sleep, new clothes, food in his belly each day, full vaccinations (Thanks to the local nurse Mengiste) and Agmas, the principal will see to it that he is in school. He will help at the school and clinic to do chores. I wasn’t expecting this, and God showed up and surprised me.

This evening after dinner there was a birthday party Ina group just across from us I. The hotel dining room. The guide of the group asked if we wanted a piece of cake, and then that started the conversation. We talked about our ministries to the schools and we now have an advocate and someone willing to deliver supplies if we need to. I wasn’t expecting this, and God showed up.

They don’t happen every day, but when they do you know it. God’s timing is perfect. And that’s the good word for today.

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Hospitality

March 28, 2014 1 comment

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What’s the good word? Hospitality. It’s everywhere here in Ethiopia. No matter how little they have these people continually give back. Today we delivered the books to the school in Robit, Ethiopia. As soon as our truck enter the village, through my window that was rolled down, I heard “Welcome to our village!” As we walked around the school we entered into the library and were greeted by chants, in English, “Welcome to our school! Acts of Wisdom! We love you!” After we presented the books, the chief elder and administrator of the education system invited us into his home, a big honor! While, we ran out of time and will visit his home tomorrow, we did go to Mengiste’s home where we were greeted with a traditional coffee ceremony and celebration bread. Each house you are invited into, you can count on being served. Even as we are there to serve, we ourselves are being served.

Paul said, “…I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Of course he was talking about the physical marks of suffering and persecution which identified him with his Lord. But tonight I want us to once again consider the fact that our lives ought to be marked for the Lord. Not physically, but spiritually! There should be some characteristics in our lives that will identify us as followers of Jesus. One such mark is hospitality. Hospitality is something that drew people to the message of the Christians early on. Romans 12:13 encourages us all to practice hospitality,whether it is our spiritual gift or not. And let’s face it, we don’t have to be Martha Stewart here. The Greek word philiozenia is actually a combination of two words- philos, meaning “affection” and zenos, meaning “stranger.” While usually translated to mean hospitality, philiozenia signifies affection toward strangers. 

1Peter 4:8-10 in The Message says, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless-cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you.” Whether we have the spiritual gift of hospitality or not, it should be a part of our lives. I see that in the lives of the people here. They are living examples of this. And for that example that they are living, I am grateful.  

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Worth-ship

March 27, 2014 Leave a comment

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Day 2
What’s the good word?
There are two things that stuck out at me today in our adventure here to bring quality education to children in rural Africa.

God is so much bigger than we are. I know we say that, but it’s true. As we sat with the school principal today it quickly became apparent to us that the school in Robit needed more than we thought. We were given only those children under the age of 6 (preschool). That number was 208. We “thought” we were getting the entire primary school number. That number was over 1,000. Not only that but throughout the day language barriers kept creeping in as we kept getting conflicting reports. But God is bigger than any situation. No proble. We will buy e books for the pre-k students and then as funds come in, we can hit one grade level at a time.we will build the foundation. It’s still relatively inexpensive to equip a school in the gran d scheme of things. Today we bought 208 students all four of their required school books, preparation books for the 7th and 8th graders to prepare for their exams, AND sports equipment. All for $2500. That is a lot of lives. Not only that, but these books will be passed on to the next generation. So there it is. As I sit worried that we aren’t going to make a big impact, God takes something small and makes it into something much larger. Where we see challenges, God sees opportunities. With faith and determination and God’s supernatural power, we can truly accomplish much. 

The second thing was, worship doesn’t happen Ina building. I know, me the pastor saying that. I’ve said it many times before, but sometimes you need reminders. Worship is derived from the word than means worth. Anything that brings worth to God is worship. Today we came together for a common purpose, we laughed, we celebrated, and tonight we danced traditional Ethiopian dance (and got danced under the table)! All of these are worship. Go out and find something that brings worth to God today.

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Family

March 26, 2014 2 comments

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What’s the good word? When one leaves a place like Ethiopia, having experienced what I did, one never thinks that they will return. Today I landed back in Ethiopia. The flight was as long as I remembered it to be. This time was different though. I don’t know what it was. Was it the familiarity of having done this before? Was it elation for being back? It probably was some of those things, but really it wasn’t until I saw my brother Yohannes waving at me that it clicked. I was back with my extended family. 

La Familia is a concept I became very aware of in seminary studying  Latino/a culture and theology. We are all part of a bigger family. We are a part of something g greater than ourselves, our immediate communities and local congregations. It’s what the ELCA is getting at with their new phrase “glocal”. These people I met last year quickly became part of my family. It was like I never left. The warmth of the people here, the humbleness and generosity speaks to my soul. 

I speak often about the importance of being in community in my congregation. One thing we have blurred the lines on in the church is that we often think of the church as a building. But it isn’t just a building, a place you go, it’s really a family you belong to. And we sing about it as children in church all the time- church is not a building, church is not a steeple, church is a people. But we have to intentionally make time for this. Relationships just don’t happen overnight. We have to go out of our way to cultivate them. 

Today was about reconnecting with family. It served once again as a reminder that church family, and family itself, extends further than we realize. And that’s the good word for today.

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Lent

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? Good grief! I haven’t had a post yet in 2014. It’s been that kind of year already. Just an update on my nonprofit that it seems I wrote about last. Acts of Wisdom is up and going! You can head over to www.actsofwisdom.com and check us out and join our campaign with your support. Any little bit helps. Pray for us, as a couple of us travel to Ethiopia at the end of March. We will be delivering books and supplies to 280 children!! Praise God! Thanks to all who have pitched in. It’s $15 a YEAR for a child! That’s about $1.50 a month.

Lent is coming up next week. It’s an ancient Christian practice. I’m always looking for  something new to do for Lent and I found this chart through The Slate Project. It gives you a word to meditate on each day, PLUS a weekly lenten challenge. Looks cool and I think I’ll do it!

Here’s the link: http://www.slateproject.org/uploads/2/3/4/3/23431822/screenshot_2014-01-30_12.39.37.png

And that’s the good word for today!

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New Venture

December 6, 2013 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? Well, I have decided to set out on a new venture and go off into the non profit world. I am creating a new non-profit organization that seeks to bring institutions of learning to children in rural Africa called Acts of Wisdom. The stats are staggering 145 million children in the world do not have access to education, yet children still dream of becoming doctors, lawyers, and teachers. This new non-profit grew out of my experiences in Ethiopia where I saw first hand the hunger these kids had for knowledge. In the Book of Acts an Ethiopian Eunuch asks the Apostle Philip about Jesus. Philip is stunned that he doesn’t know, to which the eunuch replies, “No one has ever taught me.” Part of the cycle of poverty is not having access to education, where children can learn and grow so that they can get jobs and help generate income for their families. In the US, Acts of Wisdom will work with individuals, churches, schools – anybody who shares this passion to bring schools to communities who need them. In Africa, Acts of Wisdom will partner with local NGOs who are familiar with the countries and the communities to build the schools. At the core, Acts of Wisdom believes every child, every where, should have access to education and to teachers willing to take time to teach them. How might we strive to make the world a better place and bring about peace if we don’t educate the children of the world. My hope is to create faith based learning centers, where not only knowledge is shared, but also the love of God in Christ Jesus.

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(A 3rd grade classroom I visited in Ethiopia)

Well, that’s it. I have a Board of Directors (waiting for my last one to let me know if they are in or not), I have the mission and the vision, now comes the difficult task of getting this off the ground. There are a number of costs involved in starting this non-profit and if you find this cause as worthwhile as I do, my hope is that you can help contribute to the start up costs. By doing so, you will be a part of this story! If you can and are willing please click on the donate button below. Give what ever you can. Anything helps. And let me first say, Thank you!! And that’s the good word for today.
Donate Button with Credit Cards

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Merry Xmas?

December 4, 2013 1 comment

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What’s the good word? Sorry it’s been forever since I have been on here. I didn’t even realize how long it had been, but it looks like I’ve been busy since my trip to Ethiopia as that was about the last time that I posted something! BUT, here I am, and hopefully I will get back to normal blogging. It’s now the season of Advent, a season in the church year designed to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. In the church this looks far different from what we find in the world. Outside in “the world” we see people rushing around in a frenzy, fighting one another for that good deal. But Advent actually teaches that to prepare for the coming of Jesus that we should slow down, meditate, be still, and be alert so that we don’t miss the coming. I can relate. How many of us rush and hurry to prepare for something, like a child’s first birthday, or Christmas, and the next thing we know it’s over. We have to go back and look at pictures, as if we weren’t really truly present in the moment. I didn’t always like Advent, I wanted Christmas to get here and fast. But then I realized that many times I was present, but I really wasn’t PRESENT!

While I am on the subject of Christmas, I also want to talk about this whole notion of putting Christ back in Christmas. I’ve seen the signs, I’ve abbreviated Christmas before with the “dreaded” Xmas. But wouldn’t you know, that isn’t actually a bad thing. You see the New Testament was written in Greek. And in Greek the name for Christ is spelled: Χριστος. Uh, oh! Do you see what I see? (get it?) Looks like Christ begins with an X, or the letter Chi in greek. So does that mean we really aren’t taking Christ out of Christmas? YES! We are actually putting Christ in Christmas, only in Greek! Instead of always writing the full name Χριστος, we see in early Christian history a trend to abbreviate Χριστος as simply Χ. As Greg Carey, Professor of the New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary writes: “Early manuscripts of the Greek New Testament dating to the third and fourth centuries used “X” as an abbreviation for Christ…The abbreviation helped manuscript writers fit more words on a page, reducing the time and cost of producing the texts…”

Well there you go! Problem solved. Don’t need to feel bad about writing Xmas. Actually you should feel good, and smart! You now know GREEK! LOL! Be present in this moment my friends, and truly take in all that this season has to offer! And that’s the good word for today!

 

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