Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From Out of Nowhere

No words can describe God's power to amaze - it's deep, endless, skillful, incomprehensible. It's, well....amazing! The Biblical narrative itself is amazing. I'm wrapping up a seminary class on Genesis and have found it all to be amazing. Jesus the Christ, who we read about and follow today led a life on this earth that amazed many. Two thousand years later, He's still amazing millions.

In the feeding of the four thousand recorded in Matthew 15, the scriptures say, "Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them." These people must have known there was something miraculous about Him. His reputation preceded Him. They had all heard how this man from Galilee (a very ordinary region) was doing extraordinary things.

He was bursting with life and power and energy! Everything He touched received a beautiful piece of that life and power and energy. For this scene in Matthew 15, the backdrop is a dark and cold - a forgotten place. The people there are sick, lonely and dying. Then Jesus passed by and as He touched things, the colors return. Things and people sort of wake up when the Son of God steps into their presence. After Jesus healed the people in this story, the writer explains, "The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel."

Here's where I'm going with this. I have been amazed by God once again. We are in the middle of this adoption; this very expensive adoption. Inexplicably, I have never stressed about the money nor where we would find it. Somehow, I knew God would provide us with the means to do the very thing He placed on our hearts. Each time large payments were due to our adoption agency, we have had just enough. Now we are at this unique point in our fundraising - we have done the yard sale, the 5K run, the T Shirts, the coffee, etc. etc. So now what? We still have thousands to raise and there's only so much of that stuff you can do before you just start annoying people.

From out of nowhere, I really believe Jesus has touched my wife and something that was formerly asleep is now awake. She is in the process of uncovering gifts no one knew she possessed. It started with simple cards like party invites, birth announcements and more on an Etsy site. Good photoshop work but nothing crazy. This continues to grow as she is completing 4 to 6 orders per week.

Then she compiled a cookbook with 300 recipes from family & friends. Every page is custom-designed and the cover is pretty nice. Her photoshop skills are growing every day. The cookbooks are selling one notch under "like hot cakes," whatever that is.

Also, we recently purchased a good camera for our upcoming trip to Ethiopia. Now, she has always taken lots of pictures of our kids with a simple point & shoot. Every now and then we would get some shots that were "keepers." But they were our kids so naturally we thought they were good photographs. But then she started experimenting with the new camera and getting really good. Lately, three of her friends have offered their kids as guinea pigs for an official photo shoot. Jenny reluctantly headed into the opportunity lacking confidence but reassured that she would at least make a little money for the adoption.

Long story short, check out these photos!! After only THREE official photo shoots, this is what God is producing in her. How do thirty-some years go by before one finds and opens this sort of hidden gift? I believe it's because Jesus has touched something inside of her and has loosed abilities and creativity placed in her long ago. In this way, Jesus continues to amaze. He continues to bring life and power and energy to those who place their faith in Him. Praise God!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Orphan Sunday - November 7th

This coming Sunday, November 7th, is National Orphan Sunday. People of God's church all over the world will give pause to the many millions of orphans around the world. Some estimate the total crisis now includes over 150 million children. This figure is growing at a rate of nearly 12 million per year.

This coming Sunday, many church goers here in America will be more bothered over the recent election results than the couple thousand children who will starve to death during our Sunday school and "worship" time. Nonetheless, we will give pause as we lift our pathetic worn out songs of praise. We'll oblige by airing a two or three minute video giving the fatherless a proverbial head nod. And most of us will walk away from that experience feeling better as if we have somehow contributed to the solution.

"Whoa! Slow down there, Duane. You sound angry." I guess I am. While I do not pretend to be the judge over anyone, we all stand before the one true Judge and He can see our actions. He can see our lives. He can see our hearts. He is watching as we indulge ourselves and ignore the needs of others around the world. He knows that His church is forgetting the orphan, the fatherless. And we will be judged accordingly.

Isaiah 1:17 urges the people of God, "Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. DEFEND the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows." Most understand that DEFENSE is hard work. In battle, in sport, and in Christ's community, defense is not for the faint of heart. If as a church we decide to remain weak-minded, fearful, complacent, silent and spineless, the blood of orphans will be on our hands.

Too many of us are unaware of, disconnected from, and completely uninvolved with the orphan crisis. Often we prefer to remain numb to the painful realities around us. So we settle for the status quo and avoid like the plague the rocking of any boats. Fact: God cares about orphans! Therefore, if I am going to be a God follower, by nature I must care about orphans. Is there any possible Biblical argument against this notion? More men and women of God must be willing to stand up and boldly proclaim the simple truths revealed in scriptures concerning this marginalized segment of the global population.

Do something! Today. Start asking questions. Begin praying. Consider emailing my friend at World Vision and sponsor a child on a monthly basis. Families - consider fostering a child or legally adopting a child. Network with others. Talk about the crisis at school and at work. Research the matter and come to your own knowledge and understanding of what's driving the crisis. Will it cost you? Absolutely. Can you possibly make a difference? Absolutely. Does the gospel demand it? Please...please believe that it does!