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!
And that’s the good word for today!
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.
(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.
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!
What’s the good word? I’d like to share another story from Ethiopia with you as it’s been on my mind lately. If anything, it helps me keep things in perspective now that it’s been a month since I have been back and life seems to be getting crazy again. Not only that, but this really helps keep in the forefront what ministry is really all about as one can get bogged down in the day to day stuff.
Meet Mambisto. She is a 37ish year old woman who came to get water from a 3′ wide and 40′ deep hole in the ground that sat in the middle of a field surrounded by cattle, goats and donkeys. She had walked her entire life to get this water and carry it on her back to her house that sat about 1 hour away from where we now sat.
When asked what this water well meant to her and you could see a small tear form in her eye, but a huge smile on her face. She proceeded to say that she could not really express everything in words, but that it meant health, sustainability, less work and less back breaking walks for her. She spoke of how her and her family had experienced many water borne illnesses from the water and that at times the children were so sick that she feared for them. She had at times had to leave her three small children behind unattended so that she could go get this dirty, contaminated water.
When asked if she was happy and before the interpreter could tell her answer one already knew from the huge smile that crossed her face that she was, but she went on to tell us that her children would probably be able to go to school now and her husband would not have to worry so much.
This is is ministry. This is what church is all about. This is the good word for today.
What’s the good word? Well, I’m back from Ethiopia, and I must say that the experience was truly life changing. My next several posts will most likely be about my time there and my thoughts on what I saw and heard. It seemed that every where that we went in Ethiopia the people were happy. As I walked into little mud and straw huts no bigger than the size of my living room, families were happy. Happy for me to be there, happy to show me their less than adequate (by our standards) home, proud of what they had. People suffering from lack of nutrition, lack of proper medical care, and lack of clean water, happy. Happy to see me. Not because I represented “money”, but because I cared enough to show up. It made problems back at home look petty and small. I began to ask myself, “Why was I upset again? Why did I feel that I had it so bad?” We often ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I wish I knew. But I place my hope in Scripture, that when Jesus tells his disciples that it isn’t God that makes those things happen, that it really isn’t God. I don’t think these people that I met blamed God, in fact I saw faithful and devote believers. More faithful and devout than many people I know who are here in the states who have it good, myself included. Then I came across a verse on my trip that caught my attention. It’s from Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk though the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Do you know that the word bridge doesn’t occur in the Bible? Not one time. Some say it is because God doesn’t build bridges, God divides seas. And others say that usually God’s people must pass through the difficult currents in life, not simply ride over them. Here’s what I find in Scripture, that God promises to be with us as we travel “through” rivers, and seas, and troubles. I don’t think I ever read a verse that talked about God promising to be with us as we travel “over” rivers, and seas, and troubles. God promises to be with us in life and in death. Through the good times and the bad times. When we were in the village of Robit we saw the bridge above. As we met with the elders and the village, they time and time again talked about this bridge. Every year during the rainy season, the river floods and the majority of folks on the other side are cut off from the rest of the village. Cut off from the water wells being built, cut off from medical supplies, and cut off from school and church. For days, the village is flooded and folks flee to their rooftops to wait it out. Once the river goes back down, they come down and proceed to pick up the pieces. I guess you can say that the people of Robit get the whole “God doesn’t build bridges” thing. For they have gone through the trials and tribulations of the river time and time again. And yet, they have faith. Faith in God, faith in each other, faith in their fellow brothers and sisters that they will help. Next time you are swimming through the floods of life, remember that God is with you, and that our God is in the habit of parting waters, not building bridges. And that’s the good word for today!
What’s the good word? This week found myself in Ethiopia. We came here to help finish the water well our congregation sponsored. It was great to meet the people of the village. so warm and friendly. Wednesday was a day of celebration, as the water well sponsored by Messiah Lutheran Church was to be finished. After waiting around for a little over an hour due to some difficulties, the well was finished. Words cannot describe the feeling of seeing the water come out of that well for the first time, and I really wasn’t the beneficiary of that water. I can’t imagine what was going through their minds as they saw that water. When the first bit came out there was clapping and yelling. Pure happiness. I myself, couldn’t help but tear up. As the pastor of Messiah Lutheran, I got to say a few words and I said a prayer over the well. Then it was the turn of the villagers. All gave thanks for the well and for those who donated for the well. My favorite moment and one of the most enlightening moments came when one man talked about the kids going to school. What would you think the link is between school and water? It is something you don’t think about probably at all. Today it was made real for me. As he spoke he talked about how the kids could now go to school. The parents were happy about this. Before the kids would spend too much of the day having to go get water for their households and couldn’t go to school. Now they could. We often think about the connection of water to life, but in this moment I was reminded that life is much bigger and wider than one could possibly imagine.
There was food and drink. The locals got out some of the local whiskey. It literally burned just to smell it! Others said words of thanksgiving and then we got to mingle with the villagers. Before we left, we gave the village children a soccer ball so that they could play with it. I presented it to one of the leaders, and got an equally enthusiastic response for that soccer ball. Something so simple. But wasn’t it Mother Teresa who once said, “None of us can do great acts, but we can all do small acts with great love.” That’s what kept ringing in my ear as I left. It was hard to leave. The waves from the people and the excitement on the kids who were already kicking that ball around was difficult to leave. But this is only a beginning in the relationship between Messiah and this village. I believe God has great things in store for us all!
We left there and then went to a local market. The market was busy with people. I instantly felt like a movie star. Everyone starring and kids coming up to us wanting to hold our hands. One is hesitant at first and then you are reminded of Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me.” Jesus goes on to say that one must have faith as one of these. I know what he means now. There they are and they don’t know us at all and yet grab our hands as if we were their brothers or their best friends. Faith I guess has a little audacity to it. I get that now.
And that’s the good word for today.
What’s the good word? This Sunday I started a new series at Messiah based on Max Lucado’s book Grace. It’s the most important series I have ever done. It was the perfect Sunday to start this series, with it being Easter. Here it is:
And That’s the good word for Today.