It’s Not About Emotion

Mouslings_BlogWhen I was little, one of my biggest dreams was to raise a baby animal. Fledgling birds nudged from their nests captivated me. My parents never let me take them in. Most of the ones I found probably had mama birds still looking out for them. My parents also knew that most baby animals don’t survive human efforts to raise them, and they didn’t want me to be heartbroken when they finally died.

Then, a few years ago, it finally happened. As my dad was turning over the garden to prepare it for planting, he accidentally uncovered a nest of baby rabbits. With their home destroyed, he put them in a cardboard box and asked my brother and I if we’d like to try raising them. I was so excited! Until they started dying. One by one the fluffy little bunnies seized up and stopped breathing. It was awful.

That experience was in 2011. Just a few weeks ago, it happened again. My brother was cleaning some wood out of our stairwell (we heat with a wood burning stove), and he flushed out a mouse. The mouse ran outside and all was well. Until he discovered a baby. He took the tiny mousling to me and asked if I wanted to raise it. I didn’t. I learned my lesson with the rabbits. The thought of taking the tiny, squirming pup only to watch it die made my chest tighten. Nope. I didn’t want it. But I didn’t want to leave it to die either. A few minutes later I was online Googling what to feed a day old mouse baby. An hour later, my brother found the mouse’s two siblings. I begrudgingly took them too (those are them in the picture above).

The same change in attitude can happen in orphan care. There is an emotional pull towards helping those weaker than ourselves. You can imagine how sweet it will be. How happy you will be to help. And then you reach out and get your heart stomped on. The person you tried to help rejects you. Your gifts are not appreciated. Suddenly helping the fatherless looses it’s appeal.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz, author of Hope Runs, talked about the change in her attitude towards bringing donations to an orphanage. When she first organized donations, she was excited about it. She felt like she was doing a great thing. And then she witnessed how some kids got left out. How others were disappointed by what they received. How some fought over the gifts. Giving became a lot harder. She started dreading trying to distribute donations or selecting kids for special events.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? –Jeremiah 17:9

This message is the opposite of the one preached by our culture. We’ve all heard people say things like, “How can something that makes me feel so happy (loved/secure/content/etc.) be evil?” Or, “This is the only thing that’s ever made me feel good about myself. It can’t be wrong.” Or, “That makes me miserable. There’s no way God would want me to do it.” Sound familiar?

If we base our actions off how we feel, we’ll quit when the going gets tough. Or we’ll dive into things we know nothing about and end up causing even more problems.

Oh LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. –Jeremiah 10:23

I encourage you not to get sucked in by inspirational stories and cute pictures. Instead, go to God’s word and find out what He says to do. Don’t do something just because it feels right, and don’t quit because your “bunnies die” (aka, the positive emotions disappear). Seek God’s will and guidance instead of trusting your own heart, and walk in His way. If we do that, we’ll become far more effective as servants of God.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. –Psalm 37:23

Just in case you were wondering, the mouse pups all died. But not all stories have sad endings. One of our bunnies from 2011 survived and we were able to release it back into the wild.

Agua, our surviving bunny from 2011

Aqua, our surviving bunny from 2011

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Be Not Troubled

Be Not Troubled

And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: —Matthew 24:6a

Last night as my dad, my brother, and I drove home from prayer meeting, we started talking about ISIS and the Ebola outbreak. My Dad pointed out how the media likes to emphasize the frightening aspects of world events. It creates a lot of hype and gains attention because people get scared.

Peace seems to be a lost art in our culture. Between the frantic pace of life and pressures coming from every direction, we struggle with stress, depression, fear, and the overwhelming notion that there will never be enough hours in the day to get everything done! We constantly try to do things in our own strength. Like the famous story of Peter, we take our eyes off Jesus and look at the waves, and we begin to sink as soon as we do.

I share these things here because, when we love and care for the fatherless, the vulnerable, the hurting people in this world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the waves. By the enormity of the situation. My heart breaks when I hear of the innocent children being slaughtered by ISIS. I don’t understand why God allows such things to happen.

Many people a lot smarter than me have tried to tackle that question. Why does God allow such horrible things to happen? ou probably know the answers that such evil exists because of mankind’s free will and the problem of sin. For some people, those answers are enough. Others continue to wrestle with the issue.  I’m not going to try to expound on that question. What I do what to encourage is that you don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the troubles.

In 2001 my family watched two movies, Luther and Hotel Rwanda, in the same week. Watching two movies in one week is extremely rare in our house. I remember both movies because I wrote about them in my journal. Both movies were hard. Both depicted the massive slaughter of innocent people. After finishing Hotel Rwanda I wrote in my journal,

Yes, my God is big enough for holocausts and personal enough to tend to my personal hopes and fears. God is what makes Hotel Rwanda different from Luther. In one, triumph is dependent on the spirit of man, which is proven to be wicked. In the other, all rests on God. Man’s task is simple [to say], “I am yours. Save me.”

This is the truth I come back to over and over again when the tragedies of the world begin to feel overwhelming. When I hear of children trafficked, abused, and dying without families and my heart grieves for them. When I feel helpless.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. — Matthew 10:29-31

You and I are very small pieces in the grand puzzle of the universe. And, yes, problems like orphan care are too big for us. But they are no too big for God. So next time you feel overwhelmed or insignificant–next time you feel like you can’t make a difference–remember that God is orchestrating things. When we surrender our fears and our lives to him and allow him to direct us, he can fit us into the right place on the puzzle. Orphan care is important. It’s good to be educated about it. But it’s not our focus. If we’re not careful, it can become a wave pulling our eyes away from Jesus. Don’t let that happen. Keep your eyes on Him. If You walk where He leads you, you’ll make a difference and you’ll have a lot more peace on the journey.

What troubles you? Do you think looking at Jesus instead of the storm would help you find more peace in the midst of difficult situations?

Work with a Smile

Work with a Smile

With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: —Ephesians 6:7

At the beginning of July, my brother and I had the opportunity to go on our first missions trip. If you missed reading my first post about the experience, it’s titled Encountering the Fatherless. The main purpose of the trip was construction. While giving the team instructions, the missionary in charge said something that really made me think.

He told us that one of the most valuable things we could do was work with a smile. He told us to smile while we were making cement, cutting rebar, and playing with the kids. Why? Because when the people see foreigners not only working voluntarily, but doing so cheerfully, they wonder why? They ask why strangers would be so happy to come and help people they don’t even know. In turn, those questions would give the missionary an opportunity to share the gospel.

I think that concept is true throughout life. When people observe Christians working, serving, and worshiping with joyful hearts, they ask questions. Begrudging service is not attractive to anyone. We are to be lights in a dark world, and our smiles are tools to help that light shine brighter.

…he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. —Romans 12:8

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. —2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Missions Trip_2Working with a smile can be applied effectively to serving orphans. When we talk about orphans, does the joy of serving the Lord by helping the fatherless bubble out of us? Our smiles can show that others that we’re not doing this because we’re duty bound to it. We don’t love orphans simply because God told us we have to. We care because we love God and he loves them. We are happy to serve. We are investing of ourselves cheerfully.

All of these things can be communicated by working with a smile. People will take notice when that type of joy starts flowing out of God’s servants.

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. —Psalm 5:11

Do you serve the Lord cheerfully? Is your joy visible to those who see you? Have you ever had something special happen because you were working with a smile?

Delighting in Orphans

Delight in OrphansDiscussing orphans and orphan care often becomes depressing. There are so many seemingly insurmountable problems, so much suffering. Even our reasons for caring about orphans as Christians often sound dreary. We “grieve for what grieves God’s heart,” which is a good thing, but my tendency (and, I expect, that of others as well) is to get stuck in the enormity of the problem. Philippians 4:6 says,

Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Being careful (or anxious) doesn’t do anyone much good. It doesn’t help us or the orphans we are concerned for. But God takes things a step further in Psalm 40:8,

I delight to do thy will, O my God…

These words were spoken prophetically about Jesus, but I think they apply to us as well. How can we delight in doing God’s will by serving orphans? How can we keep from becoming anxious and overwhelmed?

God’s got it under control.

…the poor committeth himself unto thee, thou art the helper of the fatherless. –Psalm 10:14

We have all heard the phrase that God loves someone more than we do. He loves our family more than we do. He loves our friends more than we do. Well, he also loves each and every orphan more than we do. While we see numbers, He sees the intimate details of each child’s life. I can’t explain why so many of these children suffer so much and are never rescued. But time and again I come back the understanding that I don’t need to understand. As Corrie Ten Booms father once explained to her,

It would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.

Our job is to do what we can, but we don’t need to try to carry a knowledge too heavy for us. Surrendering that anxiety to God can free us to serve more joyfully.

Orphans are fearfully and wonderfully made.Psalm 139-14

I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. –Psalm 139:14

Just like every other person, orphans are marvelous, wonderful creations of God’s hands. As a homeschooled student, I’ve attended many homeschool conference. Many times I’ve heard speakers encourage parents to step back from the incessant concerns, problems, and challenges of raising their children, and take time to delight in their kids. To appreciate their talents, their strengths, their potential. I think the same is true of orphans. We get bogged down in the magnitude of the problems and forget to be amazed and inspired by  the care God put into making them. The way their hands move, the smiles that cross their faces…everything about them is a miracle crafted by the hands of God.

Orphans are a blessing.

Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. –Mark 10:14

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. –Psalm 127:3

The concept of children being a blessing has largely been lost in our culture, yet the Bible is quite clear that they are. Orphans are no exception to this rule. They are gifts to be treasured and loved.

As you seek to partner with God’s heart by helping orphans, don’t become discouraged. Delight in doing the Lords work instead of letting it become depressing and overwhelming.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. –Galatians 6:9-10

Do you take joy in serving orphans? Can you find God’s hand at work in their lives? Can you share any examples of  delighting in orphans?

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.

Orphans and Evolution

evolution-steps_17-205021450Worldview plays an important role in every persons life, whether they realize it or not. Our perspective of the world and our role in it develops throughout our lives, shaped by our experiences, observations, and what we are taught.

Schools across the country and around the world teach children the worldview shaping ideology of evolution. If the concept of evolution is followed to logical conclusions, the resulting view of life is frightening. For example, if improvement of species happens through survival of the fittest, why should anyone protect orphans and other vulnerable people? According to survival of the fittest, these people must be lesser life forms and the human race will improve if they die.

A biology textbook published in 1914 and titled A Civic Biology Presented In Problems stated,

“Just as certain animals or plants become parasitic on other pants or animals, these families have become parasitic on society. They not only do harm to others by corrupting, stealing, or spreading disease, but they are actually protected and cared for by the state out of public money. Largely for them the poorhouse and the asylum exist. They take from society, but they give nothing in return. They are true parasites. If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading.”

Of course, most contemporary people who believe in evolution do not believe this. Textbooks have been modified to include only the politically acceptable components of the science they teach. However, the morally eroding nature of evolution still simmers below the surface.

The degradation of the sanctity of human life has already become prevalent with the acceptance of abortion and the push for euthanasia. Asked if they also support killing orphaned children living miserable lives, most people would react with horror. Of course they don’t condone such a thing. But the worldview is there.

The more I dig into the issues surrounding orphans and other vulnerable children, the more I realize how essential God is. Solutions not including God merely put a band-aid over the festering wound. God’s worldview is needed to change basic beliefs that undermine the value of these precious children. Rather than condemning the weakest of humanity as parasites, God gives them value as living souls made in His image and commands His people to care for them. He assures them that they are worth far more than animals.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

feed-the-children_2772820This is an area of orphan care that doesn’t carry an age limit. You don’t need to be a certain age, have a lot of money, or obtain complicated skills in order to tell people about Jesus and point out lethal flaws in what those around you believe. It may not seem like an important way to help orphans, but surgery and rehab take longer than slapping on a band-aid. It takes longer to see results, but the results last.

Ultimately, orphans need people to see them the way God does, and to take action from there.

How do you think the belief in evolution has impacted people’s perspective on orphans?

For those interested, the train of thoughts that inspired this post began while watching the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham debate. I encourage you to check it out.