Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What If?

When I teach a seminar for the “Isaiah Challenge” the main question is:  WHAT IF?  That is a question we seem to ask ourselves a lot anyways.  What if I had more time to spend with my family?  What if I could just get that promotion at work?  What if I finally lost that last 20 pounds?  Most of the time the “what if” question is self focused; what if we made that question outward focused?
What if as women we stopped complaining that we have nothing to wear (as we stare at a closet full of clothes) and instead we volunteered time at a homeless shelter?  What if as parents instead of complaining that our kids are driving us nuts we took the time to, not only invest in our own children; but look for the fatherless and the orphan to reach out to as well?  What if as teachers we decided that we really do make a difference and instead of focusing on the twenty we don’t get through to, we look at the life of the one we can make a difference in and decide that one is worth it!  What if instead of going to Mc Donald’s every day and supersizing the meal, we all took a brown bag lunch and used the savings to send to those starving in third world countries?  What if instead of complaining in the check-out-line that we had to wait 10 minutes, we smiled at the clerk and said a silent prayer that God might bless their day?

What if we decided to live outside of ourselves and our own little world.  What if we decided to prefer others and live lives of servitude?  What if we really took care of “the least of these”?  What might our world begin to look like?  As the Isaiah Challenge prepares to take off in the Texas Panhandle area, I ask that wherever you are. . .join with us!  Please send in your “what if” Challenge stories  to share with others.  Please recommend the Challenge page to your face-book friends and help be the “trend-setter”.  I will be giving updates and photos of all the different events via face-book and blog. . .I hope and pray you will all have one to share with us!

What if. . .we change the world?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Sin of Sodom. . .it's not what you think!

If you ask almost anyone why God judged Sodom and Gomorrah you will 99% of the time get the same proverbial answer.  (You can all fill in the blank on that here. . . .).  Several years ago I was studying scripture and found that my belief was wrong.  As I read and studied I was shocked to find an unexpected answer.  Look with me at Ezekiel Chapter 16 starting in verse 48.

48 As I live," says the Lord God, "neither your sister Sodom nor her daughters have done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.

Did you catch that?  God’s judgment came because of:

1.    Pride

2.    Fullness of food

3.    Idleness

4.    Failure to reach out to those in need


Now let me give you a few statistics:

*This year Americans spent an estimated 370 million dollars on Halloween costumes for their PETS!!!!

*We spent over 70 billion dollars on soft drinks last year.

*It would cost about 30 billion a year to END WORLD HUNGER.

Is it safe to say that America has a fullness of food?  When we spend 370 million on pet costumes is it safe to say that we are idle to the needs beyond our borders?  Is it possible we are also prideful about our position in the world?  We love to point the finger at someone else.  It grieves me to see a popular face-book post of the Catholic Pope in a gold liturgical robe with a starving child pictured right next to it.   It does not grieve me for the reasons you may think. Did you know that the Catholic Church is  the largest charitable organization in the U.S? They sent over 5 billion dollars to aid the poor in 2010.  My grief in the face-book post is how quick we are to point a finger without realizing we have four fingers pointed right back at ourselves! Myself included. . .  I have recently asked myself to take ‘revenue’ of everything I have.  To count all my blessings and name them one by one.  How many outfits, shoes, jewelry are in my closet?  How many sets of dishes do I own?  How much do I have set back in storage because my cup truly runs over and I don’t have room to contain everything?

My point is not that any of us should feel guilty about the blessings we have.  My point is that we need to examine WHY we have those blessings. . .are we blessed to grow full bellied and idle or are we blessed to extend our hand to strengthen the poor and the needy? 

Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'

'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

City Wide Effort!

This past week has been a blur of events for me.  I did a mini-seminar at Cal Farley’s training center for the ISAIAH CHALLENGE.  The meeting was for those who are involved in providing community needs.  (Pastors, AISD members, United-Way, etc).  This meeting led to much dialogue among the different organization leaders.  The premise of the Isaiah Challenge is that it has no limits in who it can help or how it can help.  If your heart is for children in Uganda then your organization might provide and Isaiah fund for orphanages;  if your heart is for victims of child abuse then your organization might provide a mentoring program for neighborhood children.  The premise of the Challenge is to lay down your own comforts and needs in order to help others who are held under a “heavy yoke”. 

Isaiah 58:6- Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

How can your business, church, school, etc help loose the heavy burdens that others carry?

How can you do this, while reaching your own personal goals?

How can one community make a dent in the suffering of our world?

All of those questions are answered in the Isaiah Challenge. We will not only be tackling the hard issues that plague or society, but our own personal bondages as well.  Financial issues, weight-issues, stress issues, etc.
We are in process of creating a city wide kick off for the Challenge.  Both Canyon and Amarillo Texas will be involved.  If you’re a small business owner, pastor, teacher, city-leader; etc, this event will be for you!  Please keep your radar up for more details.  Choose your hearts cry and dare to make a difference!