The Weather is Changing~

It was during my Junior year of college, summertime, that my view of the world was completely rocked!  I spent 3 months serving on a ministry team in Calcutta, India. My life had always been filled with blessing; faithful parents who loved God and provided well for our family of eight.  I enjoyed a good education, warm home, good food, nice clothes, and people who cared for me.  Imagine the shock to my senses as I walked along the streets of Calcutta seeing single mothers caring for their young children under cardboard boxes leaning against a dirty cement walls! I watched elderly people sitting in the same spot for days and days because they simply had nowhere to go; no place to call their own. This was the first time I had come face to face with real poverty, real homelessness.

Why do I choose to write about this today? Well, the weather is changing.  It is in the cold Winter months that those who live in poverty; those without homes, feel the sting of their situation the most. Poverty is not just in India; poverty is in my own town. My sister is a principal in our neighboring community; her school serves numerous families living in poverty, some even living in their cars.  These little children come to school cold, hungry, and tired.

Today I listened to an interview on Focus on the Family with Richard Stearns, the head of World Vision ( an organization the reaches out to meet the need of those in poverty around the world).  In the interview he shared about what it “feels” like to be homeless.  He expressed it this way:

“Imagine that you had only one set of clothing that you had to wear every single day.  Imagine you had no access to electricity; no lights, washer and dryer, no computer or phone.  Imagine you had no fresh water to drink or to wash with; your only way of getting clean would be a lake or pond somewhere.  Imagine you had no access to food; all you have is food you had to forage for.   Imagine you had no access to any medical care; no doctor, Tylenol, cough medicine, etc.  Imagine you had no place to call home; no bed, couch, bathroom, or private space of your own. Imagine experiencing all of this while thousands of people around you are enjoying all those elements of life.

How would you feel?  I imagine I would feel ashamed and hopeless.  I imagine I would wonder if I was invisible to the people around me.

I can hear some of you saying ” but there are people who make choices that cause them to be in a state of poverty”~~ I have said that myself.  But, everyone has a story to tell about how they became homeless; challenges they faced, and I know God’s heart is a heart of compassion.

Well, the weather is changing; snow and frigid temperatures are right around the corner.  How can we help the homeless in this Winter season?  Every town has a shelter that would love your support.  Ours is Bethlehem Inn, http://www.bethleheminn.org.  There are worldwide organizations such as World Vision to which you can give.

There is one need that I am particularly aware of and would like to tell you about:

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Rev. Rick Cole of the Capital Christian Center in Sacramento plans to leave his wallet behind, pick up his sleeping bag and ride light rail to downtown Sacramento. Pastor Cole said he feels his quest might have been divinely inspired. It popped into his head a few weeks ago while he was brainstorming with others about how to fund a program that buses about 100 homeless people on winter nights to area churches and synagogues, where they eat and sleep and get help finding work and more-permanent shelter. Pastor Cole plans to live on the streets of Sacramento until enough funding is raised to meet the incredible need of shelter and food in the winter months! Greg and I have known this pastor for well over ten years and can vouch for his authenticity;  he is not a mere attention-getter.  He sincerely wants to understand what it feels like to be homeless, he sincerely wants to get out of his comfort zone to make a difference in his community!  If you want to learn more go to #revonthestreets

As the weather changes and we nestle by the fire with a hot cup of Starbucks ,let’s ask God to show us ways that we can help those who are in need.

1 John 3:17 says; But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Matt 25:35-40 says; “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Be well.

 

 

“LIFE” happens to everyone

As a young girl in a strict thinking church denomination I can remember hearing of the illnesses or challenges in the lives of people in our church.  Conversations involving these folks would inevitably be followed with questions like, “I wonder what God is teaching them”, “they must have sin in their life” or “satan is really attacking them.”    Now, It isn’t my place to say whether those statements had any truth in those situations, yet as I watched my life and the lives of so many others I am much more reticent to attach those thoughts to someones life challenge.

I have seen hurtful and unkind people soar, while kind, giving people face challenge.  I have seen careless people experience financial blessing while frugal friends have faced financial loss.  I have seen folks who have a passion to have a large family experience pregnancy disappointments while others who are irresponsible with the children they already have appear to have a seamless time having more children.  I have watched people who focus on their physical health; making good choices in both food and exercise, face cancer or heart disease while others without concern for their health live to be 99!

“LIFE” happens to everyone.

We all face challenges in this life~ we have all looked toward heaven in wonderment asking God “but Why Lord? “.  Those who would be honest might speak of feeling abandoned by God, over-looked somehow, or perhaps have even questioned whether God exists at all.

As I interact with so many precious people on a regular basis I hear heart wrenching stories of loss and challenge. I remember last year when my nephew was so brutally taken from us all…I spent weeks crying out to God and asking “Why?”.  However, I am learning more and more that God never promised that we would be untouched by the challenges in this life.  He never expressed that an unchallenged life is proof that we belong to Him, nor that a challenged life is proof of His abandonment.

I address this simply to set the “plumb line” straight again. The Word says we will face trials and challenges, we will not always be in favor with people, we have bodies that may not be in perfect health in this life….BUT…………..

John 16:33 says; “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Romans 14 says ” Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.

Hebrews 13:5 says ” I will never leave you OR forsake you.”

Just those few verses alert me to the fact that He knew our questions would come; He is not surprised when we don’t understand the challenges we are facing. Yet, I imagine in those times that His compassion is over-flowing on our behalf.

As I again reflect back on those questions that often overshadow our judgement of one another as we watch each other navigate perilous waters; let’s be grace filled and slow to judge the circumstances as a “sin issue” or a “teaching opportunity ” for God.

Because….as we all know….”LIFE” happens to everyone.

If today “LIFE” is happening to you~ then I wish you His strength and grace today.