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!

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