Do you face persecution as a faith person? Do you face trials that want to hurt your faith? We all face some kind of opposition in life, and even Jesus said, “don’t be surprised with people persecute you because of me, in fact, rejoice in your suffering.” We are called to a new perspective in suffering trials. Peter tells us to not be surprised with trials come, because we are enduring suffering with Jesus, as we walk by faith. Trials that come will make us stronger in faith when we endure to the end. We don’t want to be lawn chair Christians, kicking back and taking life easy. It seems like like would be better to not suffer for faith, but in the end that kind of easy life faith makes us weak and useless for God.
Tag Archives: Alaska
We get ourselves into a trap of pleasing others, which eventually makes us compromise our integrity, or sell out, or miss the goals we want to achieve. It’s easy to become a people pleaser if we remain obsessed with what people think about us. But when we embrace the identity that God gives us in Christ, we can live into the beloved child of God that He created. You choose. Keep people pleasing and feel empty, or be a God-pleaser and feel complete.
She saw the mission of God, working around the world. Little did she know that God would be building her up personally, as much as building up His Kingdom around her and through her. Join us as we hear how the work of God is seen in the world.
Pastor Reid Olson of Crossroads Church of Greeley teaches on wisdom as a spiritual discipline. People with faith in God are called to continue learning and sharpening their minds, so that they might honor God with all they have. Some people label Christians as following God with blind faith. They say, “How do you know if the Bible is true?” “Why would you put your faith into some God you can’t see?” Billy Graham said, “You can’t see gravity, or the wind, you can see the effects of each, but even though not seeing, everyone believes they are true.” People with faith in God believe that God exists and He wants us to truly know Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. You can know God personally, and even though it takes faith, we believe and continue to learn with wisdom how to trust in God.
This is going to be an amazing week.
I was asked to be the speaker for the mission trip with Redeemer Covenant Church, Orangevale, CA this week. They are a group of 29 kids and leaders who chose to forego their trip to Mexico this year, in light of the violence, and come to Soldotna, AK for a week.
Their goal is to minister to children through a VBS program all week. They are also connecting with young moms who are living in transitional housing and providing ministry connection points for them.
I have the privilege of hanging out with these 29 kids, learning their stories and speaking from the heart of God each evening. God is challenging me and my heart this week as a speaker. I usually come to camp, or mission totally prepared to share from God’s Word that which God has given me a couple months before a trip. This one is unique.
Matt, the youth pastor, asked me to come and hang out with kids, learn their stories and share from “whatever God is leading” in their lives. It’s a new adventure for me… and I like it.
This morning God lead us to Psalm 16:7-8 “I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
I will give praise to the Lord for he is good, delightful, forgiving, merciful, bountiful, able, abiding, redeeming, larger than our plans…
The LORD counsels me, even at night… God will lead us and guide us through our week as we venture into this “unknown” together. Even at night God will guide us and lead us into thoughts that bless him and bless one another.
I have set the LORD always before me… God is the one who leads me, and he is before me. I must follow God and listen to his voice as he leads our group to something that will glorify him.
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken… there is nothing that can happen this week that will shake us to the core, because God’s right hand will guide and comfort us.
I am going to enjoy this challenge of seeking the voice of God for Redeemer Covenant this week. God is already giving me ears to listen and a heart to seek His voice as I speak. Join me this week in praying for God’s clear leading in our lives together.
We are blessed to be a blessing.
My family has been enamored by the show Secret Millionaire recently. http://abc.go.com/shows/secret-millionaire
It’s a fantastic show for so many reasons. They find men and women who have been successful in business, own significant property and generally classify themselves as well-to-do.
The show re-locates a secret millionaire into one of the poorest, disenfranchised cities in the U.S., removes all funding, except for the equivalent of a weeks wages for a person on welfare in that city. They have to drive a beater car and survive on groceries that they buy with the $6/day provided for the week. One of the tasks of the week is for the millionaire to hide their identity and look for ways to volunteer and serve the community. It’s a touching show because after 4 days in that location, the millionaire has to be honest with the volunteer locations he/she has been serving and admit wealth. Then, with a stunning twist, they reveal a gift in the form of a check to each of the 3 or 4 volunteer non-profit centers in which they’ve been working.
Some of the millionaires will donate $10,000 to one group, then turn and give $50,000 to another. Each show, the millionaire tends to give away a total of $100,000 to unsuspecting community centers who are voluntarily making every effort to change their community from the inside out. I love this show, because I find myself so touched by the generosity and surprise element that the community volunteer hosts have to face in “receiving” such a gift. One of the last shows revealed that a married couple as the millionaires on the show, gave $400,000 away to various groups. I was in tears… and my kids are like, “Geez, dad, pull yourself together. It’s just a show.” It just grabs my heart every time, maybe because I can feel the heart of God wanting to fulfill His Kingdom on earth, as it is in heaven… and this is a small picture of that.
But wait… something is completely wrong here.
Nothing’s wrong with someone who’s so wealthy learning a little something about what poverty feels like again, and learning that giving things away like time, housing, nice cars and money is actually one of the most fulfilling acts of humanity on this planet. Nothing is wrong with that wealthy person returning home to their luxury and getting the sense that owning “things” isn’t the GOAL OF LIFE anymore. It’s even a little bit exhilarating to see how some millionaires must finally go ‘home’ and begin to think… “Why in the world do I live like THIS, when the majority of the world has no idea what this feels like?” Maybe it will bring about real life change and then again, maybe it won’t.
My big issue with the show, that’s really only made itself real to me in the past week, is…
Why the heck is it ALWAYS the “rich, white male (or female in some cases)” that gets all the attention (a show in ABC) for taking a break from his/her lifestyle, only to dip into the lower regions of how people in poverty live, and then they get to “rescue” the poor by giving them money? Where is the ethnic diversity in helping one another? Why is it “us” and “them”?
Oh, it’s philanthropy Reid, who else is supposed to help “those” people?
(Digression) I fully realize my own setting. I’m typing this post on a wireless keyboard bluetooth linked to my iPad, while sitting at my 10 year old daughter’s lyrical dance practice with Justin Bieber blaring on the speakers… my iPhone on the table near me, ready to receive texts or FB messages as I type… and I’m talking about millionaires. It’s hypocritical, I know.
What makes the millionaire (or me, for that matter) the savior for the poor?
A little time away from the mansion?!
Getting our hands dirty as we volunteer on skid row in L.A.?!
Leaving our smart phone at home in a drawer for a week?!
We get to go home again. We get to leave the ‘uncomfortable’ temporary situation and return home to luxury, in which few, if any, get to experience.
The bigger problem with the show, and it’s not only a show in my mind now, it’s how the world works, especially in missions is … how do Christians really serve in mission to God’s Kingdom when we have the mentality of “us” and “them”, temporary “trips” vs. “a lifestyle of serving”?
If we ever have the opportunity to serve on a mission to another location in the world, what’s the general attitude we bring with us?
“I’m going on a vacation, I mean mission trip, to serve “those” poor people who need my help.”
“At least this is temporary and I get to return home after a week of getting dirty for Jesus.”
“God, please help me get through this week, don’t make it too hard, I just want to be safe.”
What’s the point of traveling to serve another community when we don’t serve like it at home?
Remember those silly rubber bracelets that had “WWJD” printed on them years ago? The fad sure faded quickly when people challenged “Jesus’ response” to every possible situation known to our culture today and we just didn’t know how to answer. Then we changed the J to other things, rather than what would Jesus do, it became anything other than Jesus and then began losing impact. What would Justin do?
What are YOU doing with your life as you serve God’s people?
You may be a millionaire (I secretly dream of it), or maybe you’re not. Maybe you think of others more than yourself, and maybe… you don’t.
Maybe you’re going on a mission soon, like the kids from Sacramento, CA who invited me to speak for their youth group in Soldotna, AK as they serve a native Alaskan community housing development of single moms and children. Or maybe you’re part of our mission to Guatemala this summer who are going down to carry bricks and mortar to construct a local church.
What are you going there for?
Why did you choose to serve?
Why did God choose you to serve?
What are you SPECIFICALLY going to contribute to God’s kingdom mission while away from home? While back home?
What kind of attitude are you going to maintain while serving others unlike you?
Are the people you’re going to serve really that much un-like you?
What kind of similarities do you share with people with whom you’re going to serve?
What is your specific purpose… seriously, what is God going to do THROUGH YOU while you’re there?
Esther began her life as an impoverished Jewish girl, drawn into (maybe forced into) a beauty pageant for the King Xerxes of the fortress of Susa including 127 other provinces in the area of Persia. After a year of beautification and being selected as the next reigning Queen, young Esther is confronted with the choice of how to serve her community. Her cousin Mordecai was exiled after his parents were killed, he adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter…
He revealed the impending peril of the Jews to Esther saying, “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. What’s more, who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14). Mordecai called her out. She became the wealthiest female in the entire country, maybe even in her entire world, yet she couldn’t deny a calling from God to serve others.
Esther found a very specific purpose for her existence. Most biblical characters found their exact purpose for existence too. Noah – build a boat, saved the world. Moses – a baby in a basket in a river, sees a tree on fire, saves 2 million Jews from death in Egypt, speaks to God and receives the 10 commandments. Joshua – led those people into God’s promised land. King David – wanted a temple for God’s Spirit to reign on the earth, his son King Solomon built that temple. Mary – gave birth to the Messiah and savior of the world. Apostle Paul – wrote the letters which made up most of the New Testament teaching God’s people how to serve in this world.
Do you have a specific purpose in this world for God’s Kingdom? YES, you do.
Short-term missions is not a bad thing. Whether you serve as a lifestyle, or for a short time on a trip… your serving builds the Kingdom of God.
ABC’s show “Secret Millionaire” is not really a bad show… I’d like to see some ethnic diversity in the millionaires picked for the show, but it’s amazing really because it ultimately teaches those who participate, and those of us who watch it that “you were made for such a time as this”, like Esther.
Do you know who the real heroes of the show are? The real genuine heroes are the men and women who live and serve in community centers in the poor communities in which the millionaires come to visit. I think I’m brought to tears watching this show, not because of the money given, but because I see the true heart of Jesus lived out in the men and women dedicated to a life of service for those impoverished around them… while living there with them.
The man who gave up his dream of becoming a college basketball coach only to remain in the ghetto and volunteer to teach 8th grade girls how to play basketball so they might one day go to college. He’s amazing.
The woman who opens her home to special needs families that need housing, but can’t afford to pay. The guys on skit row who are committed to the street-league of 3-on-3 basketball for homeless to keep people clean and sober. The crew of men who drive their own vehicles to pick up trash in downtown Detroit so that the neighborhoods look cleaner.
These people have a specific purpose in this life… they have the heart of Jesus to serve and love their community enough that they bring “God’s Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
After the filming of the last show, ABC talked to Gary & Diane Heavin (owners of Curves) about their experience:
What surprised you most about your experience as a “Secret Millionaire”?
We realize that what we experienced for a week was just a very small sample of the difficult life so many people live day after day, with no end in sight. We didn’t think that living one week in rough conditions on a miniscule budget would transform us or even give us a better understanding of this life, however, it WAS a life changing experience and one that we feel blessed to have been a part of.
Has your life changed since this experience? In what ways?
We were so moved by the people we met and the courage they show, every day, that after the lights and cameras were gone, we slipped back into Houston over the holidays, with our daughter, to deliver Christmas presents and spend time celebrating the holidays with our new friends.
We saw firsthand, community in action. It takes everyone, using each of their gifts-resources, talent, time, support, love and good old fashioned kindness–to build a strong, healthy community. Everyone has something they can give, and the neat thing is, when you use your gift, giving is easy.
May you find yourself being more than a secret millionaire in your context as you serve people whom God loves. As you go on mission as a short-term or lifestyle, you are sharing the very heart of God, and that is your specific purpose in this life… and the next.