Break the Hold (a poem)

Broken GlassBreak the hold of evil here
Silence all the evil jeers
Put Your love in place of fear
Wipe away these children’s tears

You are present in this place
With the dregs of human race
Reach into the filth and waste
Show the victims Thy great grace

Lord, we know that right makes might
Giants fall when shepherds fight
Evil thieves in dark of night
Lord, burst forth with rays of light

Trampled underfoot are these
Only you can hear their pleas
Break their bonds and set them free
Give them hope their eyes can see

So break the hold of evil men
To their strongholds armies send
Infiltrate the wicked dens
All the broken hearts to mend

(Copyright 2014, by Leah E. Good)

This poem was inspired by a quote in Terrify no More, by Gary Haugen.

Originally posted on May 12, 2015.

Borrowing God’s Smile

Borrowing God's SmileLast Saturday, I had the privileged of hearing Joni Eareckson Tada speak as the keynote at a banquet we attended. Everyone agreed that her presentation was powerful, but one part of one story stood out to me. She said that many mornings, if her husband needs to run errands, she wakes up to hear one of her girlfriends making coffee in the kitchen and finds herself unready to face the day. Soon her friend will walk into the bedroom with a cup of coffee, a cheery good morning, and the intent of helping Joni through an arduous morning routine necessitated by her quadriplegia. On those mornings, Joni said she begins to pray, telling God how tired she is, how little energy she has, and that she lacks a smile to give to her friend when the woman walks through the bedroom door. As she reached that part of her illustration, Joni smiled at the audience and said, “I don’t have a smile. But God does.” When her friend comes into the room, Joni has a smile for her. The secret is getting God’s smile instead of relying on her own, non-existent smile.

Hearing Joni’s message was a good reminder to me. I tend to want to do things in my own strength. Far too often when Mom asks me, “Well, have you prayed about that?” I have to admit that I forgot to ask God for help or guidance. Oops! Bad idea.

In one of my personal favorite blog posts, Just Buy Diapers, we considered how David wasn’t intimated by the size of Goliath (his problem) because he knew the size of his God. I think the idea of borrowing God’s smile runs along the same lines. Before we look outside of ourselves for a solution, we have to recognize and acknowledge our own lack. After we realize we need help, we can turn to God for his strength, wisdom, creativity, peace, patience — His smile.

This past week, considering Joni’s smile from God prompted me to go to the Lord and tell Him how hard writing has been for me lately. Progress on the sequel to Counted Worthy has been at a standstill for months because my creative well was dry. So I asked Him for His creativity to mold the story and push it forward. Guess what? He’s been giving it to me. A little every day.

Whether we’re struggling to write, smile, do our school work, reach for excellence at work, reach out to others, or minister to orphans, the answer is recognizing that we lack and God has. He has everything we need, especially when it comes to the resources we need to serve Him.

What Does Intercession Looks Like

IntercessionThe title of this blog is Teens Interceding for Orphans, but what is intercession?

Over the past month, several posts here on TIO have focused on the concept of prayer. One of the “visions” cast in the post, Renewing the Vision, was a dedication to praying for orphans, particularly those posted biweekly in the Advocate & Pray posts. We looked at how to use the prayer chains and how to use Scripture to pray for those we don’t know well. These posts have been practical, how-to type posts. This post is intended light a flame of enthusiasm for prayer.

Prayer is something each and every one of us can be active in, but we need a vision for it or else it just won’t happen. Prayer is hard, and it can seem boring. We need determination and diligence in prayer. This sermon casts a vision for filling the gap by being willing to stay behind the scenes, on our knees, engaging in battle through prayer. If you don’t have time to sit in front of your computer and watch the message, you can download the mp3 to your mobile device and listen on the go. Will you be the man under the stage for orphans?

Want to hear more of Mr. Ludy’s messages on prayer? There are lots of them!

120 Disciples Turned the World Upside-Down

120 Disciples

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) –Acts 1:15

Our church just started a study in the book of Acts. We’ve been working our way through chapter one for the past three weeks. Each time we read through the chapter, verse fifteen begs for my attention and contemplation. The very first time we read the chapter in our midweek Bible study, I turned my Bible sideways and penned in the margin,

By 120 disciples, the gospel spread for centuries. What impact could we have if we only tried?

Imagine those 120 people sitting together in the upper room. Most Christians in the United States consider a church with 120 members to be tiny. But, think about that number of people in a different setting. A business with 120 employees is a pretty large company. If it’s run well, those employees can be organized into a formidable workforce that can get a lot accomplished.

Now add God into the mix. Image 120 people working, not to advance a business, but to advance a kingdom, a purpose, a cause. And not working alone, but working with and for an all powerful, all knowing God. Ordinary people with an extraordinary hope and purpose. That’s the group that inhabited the upper room, and they shook the world.

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; –Acts 17:6

In the face of intense persecution, these first Christians spread the gospel to the corners of the world.

Guess how many followers this blog has? 137. That’s more people reading this post than the number of people responsible for beginning the domino effect that lead to us hearing the gospel, and (hopefully!) becoming followers of Jesus.

(If you haven’t accepted the free gift of salvation and want to learn more, use the contact me form to shoot me a message with your questions. I’ll do my best to answer them!)

Speaking of Jesus, the domino effect didn’t really start with 120 people. It started with one. It started with a baby in a manger. It started with a man who lived a perfect life, spoke the truth, and showed his love and justice to the people he came into contact with every day. It started with a corpse taken from a cross and buried in a grave. It started with a Savior, risen from the dead and extending the gift of life to the people he died for.

It started with One. And that One left behind 120 to carry on His work. And those 120 turned the world upside down with a message and a commission that continues to impact the world today.

Guess what? That One still works in and through people today. You could be one of the 120 of this generation. It might not look the same as it did back then, but God is still the same, and his calls and commands to us remain constant. Go to all nations and preach the gospel. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and mind. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Visit the fatherless and widows.

Next time you feel discouraged, whether it’s concern over the enormity and confusion of the orphan crisis, or simply feeling insignificant in the grand scheme of the world, remember the 120 in the upper room and the impact they had on their own generation and all the generations that have followed. It only takes a spark to get a fire burning, and God can set a life on fire.

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. –Joshua 24:15

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. –Philippians 4:13

Valentine Card Challenge

make one cards, for one child, change one life

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Crista Moriah at Uniquely Fashioned for His Glory. Some of you may already know about her challenge from her blog or her post on The Rebelution. As a commenter on The Rebelution said, this challenge is a brilliant way to turn one’s focus away from self and channel it into service this Valentines day. But, instead of continuing to talk about it myself, I’ll let you read what Crista has to say.

~*~

Jesus broke my heart into so many tiny pieces when I learned of the imprisoned children of Uganda.  I read over my dad’s shoulder the story of how a ministry Sixty Feet was born to serve these orphans and bring them restoration and hope in Jesus’ name.  My life has never been the same since.

He captured me with a love that mirrored His.  It was fearless, bold, dreamed big, and knew no boundaries.  It was willing to do anything to be a voice, to defend these kids, taking the stance of an advocate.

You might say I fell in love with a country, a people even while they stretched oceans apart from me.  Jesus was my Matchmaker, pairing me up with who I needed.  Only He could arrange something so perfect.

A few weeks ago, He leaned in close.  Whispering a whimsical, beautiful idea gently to my heart: Cards.  Bright, hope filled messages that would serve to spread His love to the world.  To orphans.

On my first trip to Uganda, cards brightened the day of many lives in the prisons.  I knew how much they would mean to these orphans.  It made me realize just how tender, how compassionate is the heart of our God.  The Father to the fatherless, Helper of the orphan reaching down with a simple way to tell them “I love you.” My heart thrills at the thought.

That’s what brought about this Valentine Card Challenge: 1,400 Cards by Feb. 14th.

 There are approximately 200 children in each prison and 7 prisons exist in Uganda.  That means in order for every child to receive a card, we need 1,400.

Please be the balm of healing to these broken hearts.  Share God’s love letting it spill out of your hearts and onto the pages of just one card, for one child, to change one life. We are called to do this. God calls anyone who considers the helpless blessed.

This is my Valentine Card Challenge to you.

Will you take it, for one?

Here’s what to do:

1. Make a simple card(s) with the John 3:16 verse written out, and “God loves you” or in Lugandan you could put “Jesu Okwagala”; sign your name. Please have your brothers & sisters make one, your friends, parents, family, people at your church.  Anyone can help participate to meet our goal.

2.Write “Valentine Card Challenge” on the back of the envelope. (If you have a lot of cards, just send it in a large envelope or box. )

Address & send to the ministry SixtyFeet:

Sixty Feet Inc.
2451 Cumberland Parkway
Suite 3526
Atlanta, Georgia 30339

3. In order to keep a tally, please comment on this post or under “Contact Me” telling how many cards you sent in.

Also, please feel free to share this on your own blog, through email, Pinterest, whatever you like.

That’s it!  Three simple steps that can change the world with God’s love.  All it takes is ordinary people willing to do what He asks of them to make an extraordinary difference in the lives around them and across the globe.

~*~

So, what do you think? Will you send a card (or two … or three … or more)? Let me know if you do!

The Power of Possessions

The Power of Possessions

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. –Matthew 6:21

This is Part Three of the Matthew 6:21 Series. We’ve been contemplating different types of treasure in our lives and how they can be recognized and utilized to help others, especially orphans. Things like personal knowledge instead of distance acquaintance and the value of time. This post is about the power of possessions.

Possessions are a more obvious treasure, similar to the most obvious treasure–money. My first thought when I began this post was of the man who built bigger barns in Luke chapter 12.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. —Luke 12:16-21

As with all the treasures God gives us, the purpose of possessions is not to hoard them for ourselves. This can be hard for any of us to remember. We enjoy our comfortable lives. There is nothing wrong with that. When my brother and I went on a missions trip this summer, one of the missionaries encouraged us not to feel guilty when we went home.

God placed you where you are for a purpose.

So, yes, don’t feel guilty about what you have. Whether you have much or very little, God gave it to you for a reason. Your job is to be a wise steward. Look at what you have and determine how you can use those possessions to serve God.

Most of the time when I contemplate that question, my first thought is getting rid of stuff and giving it away. Sometimes that’s an accurate conclusion. If the rich man had given away his grain with a heart of service, his story would have had a much happier ending. When Jesus showed the rich young ruler where he lacked, he asked him to sell all that he had and give to the poor, and by so doing lay up treasure in heaven. However, being a good steward of your possessions does not necessarily mean getting rid of them. Instead of limiting yourself to disposal, challenge yourself to find creative ways to employ your possessions for service.

Recently, I’ve been able to share books from my small-but-growing library of orphan care books with a family beginning the adoption process. Some unused stocking stuffers from last year went into Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Stationary and stamps can be used to write letters of encouragement.

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. —Luke 11:33

Just like the purpose of a candle is to shed light, the purpose of treasure is to be used for service. When it is stored away, hidden for only one person to enjoy, it’s potential is wasted. Don’t let the things you own become a candle under a bushel!

Can you think of and share some creative ways to use what you already have to serve others? What are some other ways we can learn from the man who built bigger barns and the rich young ruler?

 

The Power of Time

The Power of Time (1)

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. –Matthew 6:21

Several weeks ago I posted part one in the Matthew 6:21 series; a group of posts exploring the reasons and ways we form connections and become dedicated to certain causes. Part one was The Power of Knowing and looked at how an intimate acquaintance with people and missions affects how invested we are in them. This post will focus on how important the treasure of time is.

Time is one of our most valuable resources because it’s not replenishable. Once a minute is gone, we can’t get it back. As Job said,

Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? –Job 7:1

The Bible tells us to be good stewards. Time is definitely something that is important to manage well in order to be a good steward. (I’m pretty sure all of us are aware of areas where our time manage could improve!) God puts a high value on time.

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time because the days are evil. –Ephesians 5:16

Redeem the time. Redeem means to rescue from loss. To buy it up. To not let it go to waste.

This week many of my friends are in or preparing for finals week at college. They are very aware of the value of time right now. College students across the country would pay money to get some extra time to prepare. Which leads to the main point of this post.

When you think about college students, how do you separate the serious scholars from the kids who are at school to party? How they spend their time, right? It’s a pretty safe bet that the kids who aren’t studying for their finals don’t place a very high value on their test scores. But guess what? The students spending hours pouring over text books and fighting exhaustion to polish their papers have a very strong interest in the grades they will get.

The same concept applies to the rest of life. You will be invested in the things you choose to dedicate time to. (Side Note: The time investment=dedication thing doesn’t seem to work as consistently with activities you are forced into.) As a very simple example, my mom likes jigsaw puzzles. She has a much stronger sense of achievement when she finishes a 1000 piece puzzle than when she completes a 300 piece puzzle. Why? She invested a lot more time in the bigger puzzle. To give another example, I’m an author. When I write a novel, I care much more about its success than I care about the success of a three page short story I wrote.

You can see how this applies to “serving the least of these.” When you care about orphans, you invest time into learning and serving them. The more time you spend, the more important it is to you.

Many times we view a lack of money as a huge barrier to helping orphans. But really, time is even more valuable than dollar bills. Even if you have an income, you must invest time to earn it. If you don’t have a job, that time is available for you to use in a different way. Just like putting effort into knowing orphans is an important aspect of serving them, consciously dedicating time to service is of great value.

God has given each and every one of us treasure. He’s watching to see what kind of stewards we will be. How will you manage your time? Where does your treasure say your heart is?

The Power of Knowing

The Power of Knowing

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. —Matthew 6:21

Over the past few months, I’ve been contemplating what causes us to become invested in certain people, organizations, and causes. What makes us form emotional attachments or diligently pursue something when there are few positive emotions present? As I’ve been thinking about the subject, Matthew 6:21 has continuously popped into my mind.

Usually when I see that verse, my first thought is “treasure = money.” But that’s not necessarily the case. There are many things that we value. Over the next few posts, I’m hoping to do a series of blog posts examining different “treasures” and how they affect our attitudes towards orphans and ministering to orphans.

This particular post has it’s roots in a video one of my best friends shared with me about a month ago. The Courage Home video introduces viewers to two young American women and the eleven special needs orphans they are fostering in India.

As I told my brother earlier this week, I knew as soon as I saw the video that I was a “goner.” That realization actually confused me a little. As much as I love orphans, the special needs spectrum usually overwhelms me. Because of this, special needs orphans and ministries that reach out to them rarely captivate my attention. The Courage Home grabbed not only my attention but my interest and enthusiasm. Why?

I think it’s because they are known. The children at the Courage Home are not pictures with a brief, descriptive bio. The posts made about them are not put together by representatives living far away. They’re not being explained by aid workers who only spent few days with them. Instead, these children are introduced through the love, concern, and knowing of their foster moms.

That thought reminds me of a poem titled A Woman of no Distinction. It’s about the woman at the well, and the recurring phrase of the poem says,

For to be known is to be loved,
And to be loved is to be known.

I have such respect for people like Tori DiMartile and Nikki Cochrane because they have left their homes, family, culture, and comfort to know and love these children. I am grateful for them (and others like them) because they make it possible for others to know and love as well.

Their work is a beautiful picture of the gospel. Jesus left his place in heaven to come to earth and know, experience, and love humanity. By that process, he became the bridge between heaven and earth; the mediator between mankind and the Heavenly Father.

Jesus understood our need to be known. Instead of being a benevolent but impersonal God, he took the form of a man.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. —Hebrews 4:15 

We form connections by knowing. Not just knowing facts and figures, but knowing hopes and dreams, personalities and habits, hurts and joys. We put more effort into getting to know people we like, and the people we become closest to are often the ones we love the most.

If you want to help and understand orphans more effectively, strive to know them and the people working directly with them. Even more importantly, throw yourself into knowing God more fully and allow Him to give you His heart for the fatherless.

Can you think of any ways to know the fatherless? Can you think of other “treasures” that guide our hearts?

P.S. Louise, the current Advocate & Pray child, is from the Courage Home. Consider joining the prayer chain and sharing the post to help her fill her sponsorship needs!

Read more of the Matthew 6:21 Series.

Just Buy Diapers

Just Buy Diapers One of the ladies in our church is a weekly volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center. She has a huge heart for the ministry accomplished there, and is very invested in the needs of the organization. Last month, she arrived at church with the announcement that the center was in desperate need of diapers. She told us what sizes were needed and asked anyone willing to purchase diapers to bring them to church the following week. Several families did, but she wasn’t able to make it to church that morning, so I volunteered to drop the diapers off.

When I opened the door to the crisis pregnancy center, I was greeted by a very excited and thankful volunteer. She gave me a big hug, and gushed over the diapers. I left feeling warmed and happy about the delivery.

So often when we are faced with huge problems like abortion, starvation, HIV/AIDS, overcrowded orphanages, and all the other painful problems of sin, we become overwhelmed. Standing at the base of such huge mountains, we feel insignificant and unable to make a difference. Delivering those diapers last month reminded me that we often make helping too complicated. Sometimes all it takes is diapers.

When we look at mountainous problems and become overwhelmed, we forget something very important. I’m reminded of the story of David and Goliath. The Israelite army looked at the huge, intimidating, Philistine warrior and quaked in their boots. They knew no man among them had the power to defeat the giant. Then David showed up. He listened to Goliath mocking the people of God and responded with righteous indignation.

And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

Instead of being intimidated by Goliath, David wanted to be God’s tool to take away the reproach of Israel. He knew that God’s people should stand up to this Giant who mocked them. When Saul told him he wasn’t big enough, old enough, or trained enough to take on Goliath, David was ready with a bold answer.

Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.

David wasn’t intimidated by the size of the problem, because he was focused on the size of his God instead of the overwhelming size of his opponent. He was telling Saul, “This enemy of God has insulted the people of God. The Lord has helped me defeat problems before. This giant isn’t too big for God to conquer.”

A song I enjoy says, “So when you come to face a mountain so high, One glimpse at God brings it down to size. Satan will flee, you’ll gain victory, when you compare it to Him.”

A stone taken from a brook made a big impact (no pun intended), when God’s power was behind it (1 Samuel 17). A boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish fed thousands when blessed by Jesus (Mark 6). The early church turned the world upside down when fueled by the Holy Spirit (Acts 17:6). Who’s to say that our small contributions to big problems–like diapers for a crisis pregnancy center–can’t make a big difference when guided by the Lord?

So next time you feel overwhelmed by a problem, remember that small things become big in God’s economy. Instead of focusing on the problems, focus on walking in God’s will, and He will accomplish whatever He desires through you.

What problems seem overwhelming to you? Does recognizing the size, power, and wisdom of God make that problem seem more manageable? Are you able to trust God’s will about issues that are important to you?

Father of the Fatherless

Father of the FatherlessLast Friday, my brother and I attended a small Bible study/discussion group that a friend of ours is trying to get started as an outreach. The topic was, “What is our purpose.” It was an interesting discussion. After a brief overview, the guys starting batting around Bible verses and talking about how each of those verses could be applied to determining our purpose in life.

The conversation started with the basics (serving God) and briefly touched on the memorized, Westminster Catechism answer before moving into deeper waters. What verses in the Bible give direction for how to serve God and live our lives? After a while, one of the guys mentioned Isaiah 58:6-8, which says,

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.

That verse made my brother think of Galatians 2:9-10 and Psalm 68:5.

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of widows, is God in his holy habitation. –Psalm 68:5

A father of the fatherless is a phrase my brother and I have talked about a lot. Several years ago, we heard a lecture by Eric and Leslie Ludy titled, The Power of the Poured out Life. In that lecture, they talked about how God is a father to the fatherless through us. That as the Lord’s representatives here on earth, we are his hands and feet to bring this verse to life.

That’s an important responsibility. It’s also one I’ve wrestled with. Many people use that verse to support adoption. The beginning of verse six goes on to say,

God setteth the solitary in families:

I agree with the people who use this verse as a foundation for pursuing adoption. There are children around the world who desperately want and need families. But it always felt like there was more to it. After all, only 1% of orphans will ever become available for international adoption. Of course, there are Christians in every country who could be the fulfillment of this verse for the children there, but such a purely human interpretation still felt lacking.

As my brother mentioned that verse on Friday, one of the other men nodded and said,

…don’t just be “a” father to the fatherless. Be THE Father to them.

That comment grabbed my attention and held it. I’ve been thinking it over ever since. He’s so right. Adoption gives orphans a physical father, and that’s wonderful. I firmly believe the Bible supports that. But there is, indeed, more to it. We are to represent The Father to those around us. Leslie Ludy addressed the concept of secular humanitarian efforts versus Christ-centered outreach in a blog post titled True Rescue Work.

Some people accuse Christians of adopting simply as a way of proselytizing. They claim we care more checking off a box on our Christian achievements list than we do about helping needy children. But that’s not true. Carrying for orphans as a Christian should be a beautiful combination of both physical and spiritual. Giving orphans a physical father is a wonderful thing, but representing The Father to them is so much more. It goes even deeper.

In Ephesians 5:25, God tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. It’s not a perfect comparison, but I think that’s the idea behind representing the heavenly Father to orphans. It doesn’t erase the need to provide physical parents to children who need them, but it opens the doors even wider. It calls us to a greater level of love and excellence. It calls us to represent The Father even to the children who can’t be adopted. It allows us to be part of the calling even if we’re not in the position to adopt. Isn’t it a beautiful, sobering privileged to represent our Lord here on earth?

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: —2 Corinthians 5:20

What do you think representing The Father to the fatherless looks like? Do you agree that Psalm 68:5-6 is talking about more than physical parenthood? What are your thoughts on this subject?