Compassion part 2

The events happening in the world this week bring me back to Christian Compassion.  We saw the white supremacist movement descend on Charleston.  Groups like this look at anyone who is different from them as subhuman.  This is true of the white supremacists, radical Islamics, and those who blow up abortion clinics as a protest.  When we can see those who are different as subhuman, we can do anything we want to them.

Christian Compassion, on the other hand, looks at others as creations of God who we are called to love.  We see people who are different from us and are not automatically going to see them as subhuman.  In fact, we see them as God sees them…as His loved creation.  “For God so loved the world…”  We see people with a different color of skin as people to be loved.  We see people with a different religion or political orientation as people to be loved.  We see those who are suffering from the effects of poverty as people to loved.  We see each person as someone to love.

We even see the groups spewing hate as people to be loved.  Does that mean we condone the hate speech and actions?  Of course not!  Love does not accept hate as a proper attitude.  We are called to speak against hate and to act to prevent acts of hate as much as it is possible.  As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  We must stand and denounce hate.  We must even act to stop it.

Christian Compassion drives us to bring justice to the oppressed, truth to the lost and correction to the believer.  More than that, we accept people so that we can earn the right to tell them about Jesus.  I have been praying for the marchers in Charlotte that God would reveal the error of their beliefs and that He would draw them to Him.  I have also been praying that God would change the attitude of those who spew as much hate toward the white supremacists as the marchers are spewing.  Finally, I have been praying that God would keep the hate from becoming a part of me and that He would show me how to act to stand up for love, against the hate.

Will you join me in praying?  God answers when we pray.  I can’t wait to see what He is going to do!

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Compassion

Recently, I have been thinking about Christian compassion. This thinking has been spurred because I have taken on the task of co-directing the local food pantry. If you have never been involved in a food pantry, it is a great place to volunteer and know that you are making a difference in people’s lives!

When I was asked to take this on, I took some time to find out if this was something God wanted me to do and to see if I really wanted to do it. It is a pretty significant commitment and I wanted to be sure I could carry out my part of the job. One of the things that I really had to figure out was why I would do this. It is not a paid position. It takes quite a bit of time. There is a bit of stress involved as the pantry isn’t funded very well. Why would I do it?

I came up with several reasons to take on this responsibility. First and foremost, I took it on because I feel like God called me to take it on. If I am not obedient to Him, everything else I do is wasted. Second, I take seriously Christ’s command to love others. The verse that kept coming mind was, “Then the upright will say to him in reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome, lacking clothes and clothe you? When did we find you sick or in prison and go to see you?’ And the King will answer, ‘In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:37-40 (NJB)

Christian compassion is showing our love for God by loving other people. Each person that walks through the door of the food pantry is a creation of God. They may have made some poor choices to get into the situation they are in, or something catastrophic may have happened to bring them to this point of life. Either way, God calls us to love them. One of the ways we do that is by giving them food.

Now, I don’t believe that this is all we are called to do. I know that God has called us to help those who want it to become more self-sufficient. There are plans to begin to implement some things that will help people in this way. The reason we do this is the same. As we love people, we are showing our love for God.

There is much more to say about this and I will in future posts. I’ve gotta go…there are people waiting to be fed!

Fireworks!

I love fireworks! Watching the rockets soar into the night sky and paint a cascade of colorful sparks takes me back to my childhood in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When I was a kid, we would buy a small package of fireworks (fountains and sparklers). After a great cookout at my grandparents, we would wait until dark and then, using my grandfather’s blowtorch, my father and grandfather would light the fireworks. After a couple of fountains, one of them would light a sparkler and hand it to my sister and I. We would wave it around for the ten to twenty seconds it would last and then drop the piece of wire that is left at the end of a sparkler. After we finished up our fireworks, we would pile in the car and go park on a street outside the University of New Mexico football stadium to watch the city fireworks display.

What a great time we had on the 4th of July! We would gather with family and friends to eat, laugh and enjoy the day. Since then, fireworks have evidently become much more dangerous (or people have become much more stupid) because fireworks are illegal in many places. Now my family lives spread out across the country and our friends have spread out as well. So this year, as in the past decade, I will not experience my childhood again.

This year, as I park on a street outside a fireworks display (some things don’t change), I will celebrate the great life that God has given me. I will relish being with my wife and daughters. I will thoroughly enjoy the people that we are with and I might even “ooh” and “ah” as the fireworks paint the canvas of the sky. I can do all of this for one reason…God has blessed America. He has given us prosperity and freedom. He has allowed the U.S. to be a leader in the world. God has blessed America.

This year as each rocket rises to explode beauty across the sky, I will be sending this prayer with it. “Dear Lord, thank You for allowing me to live in this great country. Thank you for Your blessing on my life and on the USA. Just as this single rocket explodes to share the beautiful light to everyone in the vicinity, let my life pour out on those around me, sharing with them Your beauty and Your light. Lord, let me be Your blessing for America.”

Faith and Life

As I was getting ready for Sunday, I was looking at Hebrews 11…the Faith Hall of Fame. There is an amazing number of things that we can learn about faith from this wonderful chapter. Faith lessons like how to have faith in adversity, how to have faith for our children, and even the great definition of faith early in the chapter can teach us how to live the life of faith.

One of the things that God has been showing me out of Hebrews 11 and through other situations in my life is the connection between faith and deeds. You see, everyone mentioned in Hebrews 11 had the faith to do something. Amazing miracles happened in the life of each person mentioned because they believed that God would take care of them. When God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham left not knowing where he was headed, but God knew and gave him a great place and great blessings.

I’m sure that it was difficult for Abraham to uproot his family and leave the comfortable and secure surroundings of Ur. I’m sure that he thought and prayed more than once, “God if you don’t do something, this is going to be a fiasco!” The good news is that God did do something. He brought Abraham and his family safely to the Promised Land and used them to bless the rest of the world. Time and again, God helped Abraham though difficult situations (usually of Abraham’s own creation!).

Every time I think about that I am reminded that God not only worked back then, but He will do the same thing today for us. He may call us to leave our comfort zone. He may call us to cast off those things that give us our security. The good news is that He who calls us is faithful…when we do what He asks us to do. He takes care of us because where God guides, He provides.

What is God calling you to do today? Where is He calling you to take a step of faith that seems too big? If you will do what He says, God will take care of you. I encourage you to ask Him today, “What do you want me to do?” Listen for His answer, and then, take a step of faith. Watch how things that you thought were impossible begin to happen. Watch as resources and helpers begin to come to you. Watch as the God of miracles does one in your life. Go on…ask…I dare you!

Rebuilding The Walls

The devastation was complete.  Those trying to live in the debris did everything they could to keep themselves fed, sheltered and safe from the criminal element that was constantly roaming the area.  Into this chaos, one man wandered.  He wanted to see for himself the ruin and heartbreaking loss.  He wandered here and there around the city.  There were times that he was not able to get to where he wanted to go because of the obstacles.  He saw the after effects of the disaster:  broken down walls, destroyed homes, and the debris of buildings burned and fallen down.  Over and over he thought, “This was a great city.  Now it is a ruin and a ghost town.”  The sound of pets that had gone wild to survive was eerie in the quiet of the ruined city.

After the trek through the city, he gathered together the leaders…the movers and shakers…the people who could get things done.  He called them together and said to them, “‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace…’  They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work.'” Nehemiah. 2:17-18 (NIV)

There are times in our lives that we find ourselves in a situation similar to Nehemiah.  We look at our life totally in ruins because of decisions made by us or by someone else.  We see relationships in ruin.  We see finances in rubble.  When we are at that point, we have a decision to make.  Are we going to follow God’s plan or are we going to rush off on our own?  Nehemiah took the time necessary to stop, find God’s will and pray until he was sure that he was ready to follow God’s plan.  What do we do?  I’m afraid that we often see the crisis and rush off to do something about it rather that finding God’s will.  We end up in worse shape than we were before.  However, when we wait for God’s will, miracles happen.

God’s people in Nehemiah’s day decided to rebuild.  They began the work that few thought would ever be completed and finished it in miraculous time…52 days.  That’s the thing about God.  When we truly trust Him and follow His will, things happen that we could never ask for or imagine happening.  What about you?  Are you ready to see miracles in your life?  Are you ready to take the time to wait for God’s plan and then follow it…even if it doesn’t seem to make sense?  What will you see?

National Day of Prayer

Today, May 4, 2017 is the National Day of Prayer.  I was privileged to be ask to participate in our local Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast by saying a few words, especially relating them to the theme.  The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer is “For Your Great Name’s Sake:  Hear Us…Forgive Us…Heal Us.”  To be really honest, that theme didn’t really resonate with me at first.  I really struggled to get my head around what it really means.

I wanted to talk about names because I have some great stories about names.  I mean, I go by “Wink”.  I know about name!  As I wrote it out, there were 3 or 4 completely different drafts.

Finally, I went back to the Bible to really look at the verse the theme was taken from Daniel 9:19.  When I saw that, all the pieces fell into place.  Let me help you with this.

Daniel is praying to God from a foreign land, Babylon.  He had been taken into exile from Jerusalem as a young man and brought up in the court of a foreign king.  During it all, he remained true and faithful to the God of his fathers.  In the prayer, Daniel remembers Israel’s past, and how the Lord protected and provided for them.  Daniel is asking for the Lord’s blessing once more.  He ends his prayer saying, “For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

When I understood that, the first thing I thought of was my dad.  You see, I bear my dad’s name.  We are both Oliver Windale Davis.  The only difference is I am the Second.  I go by Wink so that I can be myself but, I am my father’s name sake.

Having the same name HAS caused problems.  For a while, we banked at the same credit union.  To make matters worse, my account number was only one number off of his.  Our accounts were always messed up.

We also have our life insurance through the same company, yep, my cousin was the agent.  I thought this was pretty great because for 2 years, dad paid my policy without realizing it!  Then, because the error was with the company, they reimbursed him and didn’t charge me.  It was great!

I have discovered over the years that when you have the same name as your father, you can either make him look good or really discredit his name.

I think the same is true for our heavenly Father.  When we come to Him, we take on His name.  We bear His name.

We are fortunate to live in a nation where, once a year, the highest office in the land, the President, proclaims the first Thursday of May as the National Day of Prayer.  Prayer, fervent prayer, can be the catalyst of great change.  Prayer is how we communicate with our Lord and prayer is needed now more than ever!  Our nation is divided in numerous ways and it has become more and more difficult to see a way to unite America again.  We need the Lord’s help!

Because we are God’s people, we bear His Name.  Now is the time for us to rise up and begin to make His name look good and not discredit it.  Now is the time to turn to Him in prayer so that we can see the amazing things that He will do.  Now is the time to rise up in prayer, to see the amazing things He will do through us, His namesakes.  O God, hear us, forgive us, heal us for Your great name’s sake!

Learning From a Stump

I had a eucalyptus tree in my front yard that started leaning and we had it cut down a couple of years ago.  The guys who cut the tree down didn’t have a stump grinder and I was too cheap to rent one so I decided that I would try to get rid of myself using alternative methods.

I tried using tricks I found on the internet, because you can always believe everything you read there (please read that sarcastically!).  One of the things I tried was Epsom Salt.  The site said that you just drill several one inch wide holes in the stump six to eight inches deep and fill them with Epsom Salt.  So, on a hot July day, I drilled holes and filled them with Epsom Salt.

After a week, the holes were mostly empty so I filled them again.  And, a week later I did it again.  After about a month, the stump started to sprout again so I drilled even more holes and filled everything up again.  At three months, my yard guy was mowing the dozens of sprouts each week.  It was at that point that I decided that the Epsom Salt didn’t work.

About a year later, I needed to have my palm trees trimmed.  The tree guy said he would also grind out the stump for a few dollars more and I took him up on it.  The guys came with a stump grinder and, in a very short time, the stump was gone.  If I had just made the choice to do it with the grinder at first, I could have saved a bunch of time and sweat!

How many times do we do this with our problems?  We try to fix it on our own.  We search everywhere for solutions.  We try a bunch of different things to fix the problem, none of which work.  Finally, as a last-ditch effort, we turn to God and ask for His help.  Suddenly, the thing that was so hard and frustrating is taken care of.  We find we don’t have to worry about it anymore.

If I had used a stump grinder on my stump, I would have fixed the problem in a matter of minutes rather than months!  How much time, frustration and pain could we save by taking our issues to God first and trusting Him to take care of them?

Next time, I know what to do with a stump and it has nothing to do with Epsom Salt.  Maybe, the next time we have an issue in our lives, instead of trying to fix it ourselves first, we will choose to turn to God and watch the miracles happen.