Monday, February 28, 2011

And The Winner Is. . .

Red Carpet galas are flooding the airwaves – the Grammy’s, the Emmy’s, the Oscars – it’s clearly Hollywood’s season to celebrate their own. 

All this hype got me thinking…what kind of awards show would God put on? The world gives trophies for beauty, talent, and popularity, but I have a feeling God’s criteria is exactly the opposite. Actually, I was just reading a great verse that confirms this hunch. 

Philippians 2:29-30 says, “Welcome him with Christian love and with great joy, and give him the honor that people like him deserve.  For he risked his life for the work of Christ, and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.” 

Here, Apostle Paul describes the true award-winners: those who offer their lives for the work of Christ. The “God-Oscar” is presented to those who willingly give up titles, prestige, and possessions. They live as a love offering to their Maker, raising the bar for faith and sacrifice. The applause of Heaven is reserved for such as these.

Just for fun, I’ve listed my own nominations for God-Oscars. This is just a short list, but if you know of an individual or organization that deserves honor, would you kindly leave a comment or send me an email? You just never know what might touch someone’s heart and get their mission spinning in a new direction!  By clicking on any of these names, you'll be directed straight to a website with lots more information about their activity.    

Christie Cotney -- Christie fell in love with Jesus last year and quit her job, sold her car, and left her comfortable American dream to serve the people of Uganda. She is the hands and feet of Jesus as she brings education, clean water, medical care, and compassion to the Bugaboo Village. There are lots of ways to partner with Christie to see lives changed for eternity.

Orphan Helpers -- This is an incredible Hampton Roads-based ministry changing orphanages in Honduras, El Salvador, and Panama. Only 1% of orphans will ever be adopted, so what happens to the other 99%? Orphan Helpers provides loving, caring, Gospel-centered support to government-run orphanages in Central America. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to many of these places to witness the mission being carried out ... today’s orphans truly are tomorrow’s helpers when their lives are given eternal purpose through a ministry such as this. 

Sanctuary of Hope Children's Home -- With a staggering number of orphans in the world, some of these children can be found in Nairobi, Kenya, home to 600,000 people within six square miles. Pastor and Mrs. Karau have started two children’s homes right in the midst of the despair and suffering. True miracles are taking place as children are given hope and security through the tender love of this ministry. You can also read more about Esther, a two-year old our family sponsors to help with medical needs.    

All Nations Church -- I might be a little biased, but at our church I see scores of folks who offer their lives for the cause of Christ. I listen to my children re-tell Bible lessons and sing words of worship long after we leave the church doors. Their teachers are eternity-changers waving the banner of Christ week after week. Many in this congregation feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and reach the prisoner. By God’s grace, All Nations is a place where the least, last, forgotten, and forsaken are welcomed and received. What a privilege to partner with such a group! As a side note, Brian just finished a message series called, “The New Normal.” In case you want to listen, you can easily download the messages on iTunes or visit the message archives here. 

 Compassion International World Vision -- Both of these organizations are reputable forces in the fight against poverty and disasters. With a huge reach into over 100 countries, they need our help. This is a powerful way to battle malnutrition and preventable disease, end child trafficking, educate and empower girls, provide crisis relief, and so much more. Sponsoring a child in one of these impoverished countries can literally be the difference between life and death.

P.S.  I love Paul’s descriptor in the end of Phillipians 2:30, “…and he was at the point of death while doing for me what you couldn’t do from far away.”  So much of what these people and organizations do seems so far away. They go into places many of us may never go, but our prayers and financial support bridge the gap and truly honor them. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by the many needs, but if each of us does just a little more, we’ll see a snowball effect. There’s no trophy on earth that compares to the honor of participating in the work of Christ!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Words. . . Not My Own

     So I was having major blogger guilt by the fact that I haven’t posted in a few weeks, and then I realized I should just get over it and jump back in without another second to lose.  I laugh because I never imagined joining the blogging world before a few months ago.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading other blogs -- I just didn’t think I wanted to read my own.  Oooh!  That’s when it hit me.  I was caught up in those two little words, “my own.”  My own words, my own time, my own money, my own family, my own house, my own life, and even my own Jesus.  I don’t really want to let people into my world of  thoughts and mental processes.  Ouch!  A sense of entitlement comes to the surface even in how I attempt to posses my own words.  Despite the fact that some people refer to pastoral ministry as living in a glass house, I find myself pulling the shades down tightly around me.  I seek privacy in the sacred spaces, and sometimes I get pretty possessive when I find something that I can keep “my own.”  

     But interestingly enough this is opposite of God’s thinking.  All that I am and all that I have belongs to God. . . even my words.  I’m just borrowing human skin to carry around His instruments.  It comes down to a stewardship issue for me.  God breathed life into me, and I have a daily choice of how I’m going to manage those breaths.  Can I be transparent enough to share my struggles if God can use them to encourage someone else?  Can I be bold enough to ask for help if God wants to grow someone else’s faith by meeting a need?  Can I be humble enough to offer thanksgiving if it can bring glory to God?  Can I be silly enough to laugh at my humanity if God wants to reaffirm someone else’s security?  Oh, how I want to.  I want to let go of bubbles and opinions and pre-conceived notions.  I’ve decided that blogging is a good tool for me, too.  I don’t need a ticker that counts how many people see what I write.  I want to give my words as an offering to God and as a written record of His grace working itself out in me.  I want to keep letting the SON shine in as I find peace in being vulnerable before an audience of ONE. 

     On another note, these last few weeks have been filled with lots of fun news for our family.  First, we are so very thrilled to welcome Charles Lee Grey to the family!  He was born January 28th to my brother & sis-in-law, Seth and Hannah.  I had the wonderful chance to spend a precious day in Atlanta with baby Charlie and big brother Chase.  We are counting the days until our next visit in a few weeks.  This auntie wants to smell her some baby!

     I’m also ecstatic about welcoming another member to the family, but this time it’s an addition happening by marriage.  My sister, Mary Kathryn, is now engaged to marry someone we’ve all come to love and respect, and we are so very happy about God’s choice for her husband.  It’s going to be a wonderful day in the not so far-off future when she becomes Mrs. Ben Profitt and we have another brother and uncle in our crazy clan!

     Finally, I always want to remember to how special Valentine’s Day 2011 was.  My 1,000 Gifts List continues as I thank God for the way He loves me in such special ways:

67.  Sacrificial love (John 3:16)

68.  Heart shaped chocolate-chip pancakes

69.  “No school today” because we can make the rules

70.  Almost 70 degree spring ticklers

71.  The Master’s Creativity shown through colors, shapes, and sizes exhibited at the
       Norfolk Zoo

72.  Chick Fil A’s 100 calorie chargrilled fillets with 20 grams of protein

73.  Mushy kisses and carefree laughter that teach kids what marriage can really be

74. Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha (skinny) ordered Extra Hot and delivered by an Extra Hot

75.  Family candlelit pizza dinner eaten on fine china and crystal while dressed in our finest

76.  Shoeboxes filled with homemade Valentines that surpass Hallmark any day

77.  Leftover Christmas gift cards that provide a night at the movies for a family of 6

78.  Gifts of LIFE that show Christ's love