Tuesday, March 31, 2009

God-Shaped Hole

I am sitting in my kitchen listening to the rain and thinking about what really matters in life. Shepherd Smith from Fox news is reporting in the background, something pertaining to the needs of broken people no doubt, and I am left to wonder what I could ever do to bring about some semblance of change in the world. I have these thoughts quite often, seeing the hurts and deprivation not only in the news and in foreign lands, but also in my neighbors, my church body, and undeniably my own heart. We are truly desperate people in need of One Thing. How is it then that this One Thing has alluded us? Will we honestly settle for Hollywood and financial security, for acceptance and the American Dream and say at the end of the day that our souls are satisfied?

As my husband Jacob and one of my favorite bands, Plumb would say, "There's a God-shaped hole in all of us." The song goes on to say, "And the restless soul is searching, There's a God-shaped hole in all of us, And it's a void only He can fill." How true that is. We were imagined in the heart of the Infinite Creator God and crafted by His hands to take on His very image. We were created for a relationship with the Divine, to walk and talk with the Almighty, to be known and ever loved by the Most High God. To know Jesus, this is the chief end. It's the bottom line. If we don't get anything else into our hard human heads, we must get this. Paul did. In Philippians 3:8 he boldly and blatantly declares, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." I have quoted this verse many times, but never have I faced the persecution and hardship that Paul endured in his years of knowing Christ. And yet I find myself so easily distracted, so quickly "entangled" and led astray by my own selfish agenda, forgetting the main thing and striving toward my own end, whatever pointless endeavor that might encompass at the moment. I realize that self-bashing is no solution, and the last thing I want to do is trample the grace of God so evidently at work in my life by saying that it is not enough. On the contrary. The relentless grace God offers is more than enough. I am amazed every day at how the Holy Spirit beckons me nearer still, even in my stubbornness and self-sufficiency. 

But that's just it! It's God's mercy revealed anew every morning that propels us into this love relationship with His Son. We realize that we're not getting what we so deserve because Jesus, being the perfect sinless man that He was, wrapped Himself in our sin, bore our shame, and took our punishment from God the Just so that we might be free from our heavy chains of addiction and pride and...the list goes on. I can't fully get my head around such a sacrificial expression of forgiveness and love, but I know that this truth is slowly but surely transforming my life. My flesh is still weak and the fight will not cease until I breathe my last earthly breath, but I know that my life has meaning because of this man named Jesus Christ. 

Perhaps I'm being so blunt because I need a swift kick in the pants to remind me that my life is not my own (1 Cor. 6:19-20, 2 Cor. 5:15). Perhaps we the Church, being identified with Christ as His own body, need to get back to the basics...loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourself. Whatever the case, we cannot expect to make a dent in the world we live in apart from the Word and Spirit of God flowing through us. We have nothing to offer that could ever save anyone. But we don't have to. The Savior is alive in us and desires to take our meager offerings and multiply them for the glory of His name. So let's rise up, Church. Let's get back to seeking the Lord first. Let's dust off our Bibles and commit to spending more time in God's Word than on facebook (yes, I just went there). Our souls are thirsty for more truth and less fluff. Who's with me?

Friday, January 23, 2009

We Ask For India

Jacob and I had the chance to visit India right before Christmas, a trip that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Here are some of the faces that grace our memory and compel us to tell their stories.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Orphan's Cry

My heart is heavy and I'm feeling completely helpless. My emotions have been tapped out in a matter of just a few days. I've heard stories and witnessed transformations that so stirred my heart that I thought I might jump out of my skin. My prayers have come out in hurried, jumbled exclamations because I have had an awakening that I cannot contain. I can no longer sit still. I am antsy, wringing my hands and wracking my brain as to what my plan of action must be. There are so many souls, so little time. You see, just this weekend I was invited to lead worship for an Adoption Expo outside of Winston-Salem, NC, but little did I know the impressionable mark it would leave on me. I have always been an advocate for adoption (after all, it's been in my blood ever since my parent's adopted 3 boys from the foster care system in NC...3 boys that I will forever call my brothers) but over the last few days, God has revealed to me His heart and intentionality and purpose for the fatherless like never before. It was like someone switched on a light bulb in my soul and as I continue to study God's word, the light is only becoming stronger and brighter. My impulse is to find out how to adopt as many children as possible as soon as possible, and while there may come a time for that, I am now trying to quiet all my thoughts and listen for His voice. I must sit in the presence of my Lord and be still. He has spoken in thunder, and now I need to see through the clouds. Until He moves me in a direction, I will wait and trust. 

The longer I wait on Him to whisper His wisdom, the more He is breaking my heart for His orphans. They are His, He knows their names. Not one of them goes unnoticed or unloved by the Father who holds the world in His hands. He has numbered the hairs on each head of these precious ones, even if no one around them shows them compassion or gives them the time of day or offers a cup of cold water in Jesus' name. These orphans are special in the eyes of God and He sees beyond color, race, social background, disability, disease, and age. He only sees that they are His sons and daughters, created in His image for a glorious purpose. Does He need us to solve the orphan crisis in the world? After all, there are over 143 million orphans all across the globe. Surely He's given out of resources to care for every child in need. On the contrary, my friend. God is in need of nothing. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Everything we see and have comes from Him. He could snap HIs fingers and the world would be no more. Yet a grave emergency lingers, one that has to do with the lives of 143 million people. God, in His sovereignty, has put us here on this earth for more than mere existence. He has called us to offer ourselves (that includes our time, money, resources, energy, and hearts) to those in need. We have the privilege of serving the least of these, those abandoned and rejected by society and even their own parents, many orphaned by  the spreading HIV/AIDS epidemic and left to fend for themselves at a young age. God has handed us the opportunity of a lifetime, to discover a higher and more important agenda...one that has nothing to do with our comfort and everything to do with our transformation...to embrace these little ones and love them like Jesus. 

Whether you can open your wallet or open your home, whether you hit your knees or grab a mic and challenge your local church body, we must DO SOMETHING. You may be in a situation that is bleak and difficult, convinced that you have nothing left for someone else, much less your own family, but trust me when I say that you will receive an eternal blessing that far outweighs your circumstances just by being willing and saying to Jesus, "Here am I." God can use the most meager of offerings and the most humble of hearts. That's what He is looking for. You don't have to find a cure for AIDS...simply be obedient to what the Lord has placed upon your heart. He will equip you for the task He has called you to. Let's rise up, Church. The time is now. If we don't meet the needs of a hurting, dying world then who will? We are Christ's body, His hands and feet, and we have been blessed with the knowledge of HIs grace and mercy in our own lives. How then, can we ignore the cries of the fatherless? May we learn to show the same mercy to these little ones that God has shown to us. We simply must. Their lives depend on it.

If you're looking for a ministry to get involved in that cares for orphans visit hopegivers.org. Also, I recommend the book Red Letters by Tom Davis for a clearer picture of the desperate situation the majority of the world is in as well as other practical ways to get involved in extending Christ's love to the poor.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Holiday Festivities

Thanksgiving horsey.
Japanese steakhouse in Waikiki.
In Hawaii.
After White as Snow.

Fun interview with Candace Cameron Bure.
With my parents, aunt and uncle and cousin on Christmas.

The Sooters. 
New Year's in New Orleans with friends.


I am smitten. My heart was stolen with just one smile. His name is McKinsley (spelled this way for us American folks) and he is a precious 6 year old who lives in a Hope Home in Haiti. McKinsley is a normal, happy boy...he loves spaghetti and Speed Racers and bubbles. He is rather affectionate and perhaps the most unselfish child I've ever met. His six years allude him because of his small frame, and at first glance you'd think he was a thin 4 year old. He could easily be described as frail, but his size is easily forgotten once you look into those big dark eyes. Spending time with him for just a short time and seeing how much he loves life, you would never guess he was HIV positive. But this lurking threat of a disease has been his reality since his birth. Found abandoned in a market place just over the Dominican border when he was 2, McKinsley now battles his sickness as an orphan, but he seeks no pity. He is a fighter. He lives in an orphanage with over 30 other children and you can tell he loves his life there as well as his many brothers and sisters. Whenever music plays, he gets up and proceeds in a dance we have deemed "the grandpa dance" since he simply stands in one place and slightly bends his knees to the music, all while a bit hunched over like an older gentleman. Hilarious, I tell you. I can't wait to see him again. You can bet we'll play some music and I'll imitate his dance just to get him going. What a joy he is, in every way. His big heart has impacted me so. I can't wait to see him again, but until then he will be looking at me every day from the picture on our refrigerator and I will never cease to hold him close to my heart. 

For more information on how you can visit McKinsley and other orphans like him, visit hopegivers.org.

Haiti in Pictures

Playing Catch Up

I've obviously been a bit delinquent in tending to my blog and for that I apologize. Since I last posted, Jacob and I spent Thanksgiving in Louisiana, traveled to our honeymoon spot in Hawaii for a concert with Third Day, Brandon Heath, Building 429 and Francesca Battistelli, provided the music for a women's Christmas event at Harvest with Candace Cameron Bure, went to India, spent the holidays with both sides of our families, and have just now begun to get back into the normal routine of traveling and serving at Harvest. I will try and bring you up to speed with some pictures and video. It's been an amazing last couple months, and the Lord is increasing our desire for more of Him and putting within us a greater compassion for the least of these. I am so excited to see what the year holds! All I know is 2008 will be hard to beat, but chances are good for 2009!