The Power of an Orange Chair

isolated chair

THIS FREE DOWNLOADABLE BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE SELFLESS, PASSIONATE, GENEROUS SERVANTS OF GREEN VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH  http://www.live58.org/7mandates

I am a hungry student of Grace.

When I began to explore grace, it changed my world. It made me less religious and more graceful (except on the dance floor).

Grace made me less critical of others and more committed to growing my heart. Grace made me less fearful.

I became less exclusive and much more inclusive after realizing grace is for everyone.

I discovered freedom.

Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth.” But I think Jack was wrong. I think we can handle it. It can be scary—counter-intuitive—but it will set you free!

For those of you who have been hurt, shamed, abused and manipulated in the name of God, I am so sorry!

My heart breaks daily as I live in this paradox of being a pastor, yet see the hypocrisy in our religious world and even in my own heart.

But don’t run away from grace. Don’t run away from the truth that can set you free.

My life changed forever in college when I discovered grace.

The rest of the world operates on Karma. You get what you deserve.

But Jesus came and offered us this amazing, wonderful gift called grace, where we get something better than what we deserve.

Since grace happened to me, I don’t judge other’s beliefs or religions; I just hope they someday discover grace, because Jesus cut through all religious ceremonies and traditions to get to the heart of the matter. We need grace.

He did the only thing that could be done to get grace. It was the crucifixion.

This book aims to bring credibility back to the church and to obey Jesus’ call to share grace in tangible ways to our world.

Credibility comes from obeying Jesus’ teaching to shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, love the rejected, touch the untouchable, fight for the abused, and take care of the widow and orphan.

When the church begins to share God’s grace in those tangible ways, credibility will come back to the church.

This is my life mission and my life goal.

It’s all Grace,

Ken Burkey
Senior Pastor–Green Valley Community Church
burkeyk@gvcconline.net
http://www.kenburkey.com
twitter @kenburkey

THIS FREE DOWNLOADABLE BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE SELFLESS, PASSIONATE, GENEROUS SERVANTS OF GREEN VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH   http://www.live58.org/7mandates

Generous people are rarely mentally ill

Have you ever been so fired up about something that you didn’t exactly have a lot of tact when it came to communicating what you were fired up about?

My wife is a very laid back person. She is extremely talented so she doesn’t have to say a lot(unlike me).

It takes a lot for my wife to get fired up.

When my son was about eight years old he was riding his roller blades in our garage and drive-way and for some reason he decided to dart into the street in front of a car that was coming up the road.

The car almost hit him and then my wife almost hit him.

With great passion she yelled at him, “Don’t you ever go in the street again without looking or I will kill you before the car kills you!”

Neighbors started locking their doors!

There is a portion of scripture where the author James is fired up and is not concerned about the lack of tact in how he delivers this extremely important message.

“You rich people should cry and weep! Terrible things are going to happen to you.”

“Your treasures have already rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.”

“Your money has rusted, and the rust will be evidence against you, as it burns your body like fire.”

“Yet you keep on storing up wealth in these last days.”

“You refused to pay the people who worked in your fields, and now their unpaid wages are shouting out against you.”

“While here on earth, you have thought only of filling your own stomachs and having a good time, but now you are like fat cattle on their way to be butchered.”

C’mon James, tell us how you really feel?

James is pretty fired up because he is seeing rich people taking advantage of the poor.

He is seeing powerful people exploiting the powerless.

He is seeing excessive living that is keeping others from living at all.

The first century church took this very seriously.

They chose to live simply so that others could live.

The scriptures state about the early church that “…All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.”

The scriptures go on to say that, “There were no needy persons among them”

They ended poverty. Not the government. Not a NGO.
Not a few rich people. The church did!

The church ended poverty.

Could you imagine them saying that about the church  in the 21st century?

What a legacy we could leave.

I think it is a legacy we can leave. I am not the only one who thinks this.

Dr. Scott Todd writes in his book, FAST LIVING,

“22 countries have cut their malaria rate in half in only six years.”

“We used to say that 40 thousand children die each day from preventable causes. In the 1990’s, that number dropped to 33 thousand per day. By 2008, it dropped further to 24 thousand. Today, 21 thousand!”

“In 1981, 52 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today that number is 26 percent. We have already cut the percentage of people living in extreme poverty in half! And we did it in one generation.”

“And that is with only 9% of American Christians tithing. Do you see our potential?”

“If the 138 million American Christians who attend church at least twice per month were to tithe, it would result in two hundred and fifty billion dollars per year in philanthropy by simply obeying one of God’s biblical principles of generosity.”

The American church is the richest church in the history of the church so Jesus will definitely hold us accountable to the words, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

James words that lack tact are more relevant today and should lead us to urgent action!

My parents taught me the principal of the tithe when I got my first paper route when I was ten years old.

I delivered two hundred papers 3 days a week.

It was a lot of work for a ten year old.

I once crashed into the back of a parked pickup while I was looking sideways trying to throw the Orangevale News onto an elderly person’s porch. I was unhurt, but my pride was bruised and my front wheel bent.

After delivering papers for my first month and doing collections for a 35 cent a week paper, I received 40 dollars for one month’s work.

It was 1975 and I was ten years old.

You might as well have given me a thousand dollars.

I was so excited about the potential slurpies and baseball cards with bubble gum I could purchase at the local Seven-Eleven.

But before I could spend anything, my mom gently reminded me of the tithe and so I, not so much out of enthusiasm but more out of obedience, put 4 dollars into an envelope and saved it for the next Sunday’s offering.

Since then I have tithed my entire life. I am very thankful for my parents teaching and example.

It has brought me and my family much joy, peace and purpose to my life.

The root word of “miserable” is “miser”. Need I explain more?

Karl Menninger, the dean of American psychiatry, says “Giving is a criterion of mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill.”

I want to thank all of the generous people at my church who are helping end poverty in our own community and around the world.

I have always said that my church is not a rich church but a generous church.

These are my favorite verses about generosity:

“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” Proverbs 11:24 (Message)

“The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” Proverbs 11:25 (NKJV)

“God blesses everyone who is kind to the poor.” Proverbs 14:21 (CEV)

“Caring for the poor is lending to the LORD, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17 (CEV)

“Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.” Proverbs 22:9 (GNT)

“Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry.” Proverbs 28:27 (Message)

“Be fair and give justice to the poor and homeless.” Proverbs 31:9 (CEV)

“Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:9 (NLT)

4 Guarantees That Cannot Be Taken Away

There are a lot of things that cannot be guaranteed.

Will I live a long, healthy life?
Will I make a lot of money?
Will my candidate be elected?
Will I find the love of my life?
Will I get that dream job?
Will I be labeled “successful” by my peers and family?

I can’t guarantee those things for you.
You can’t guarantee those things for you.
No one can guarantee those things for you.
God doesn’t guarantee those things for you.

There are 4 things God guarantees for us, everyday, if we embrace them.

They do not depend on the right circumstances, the right candidates or the right economy.

They are secure and cannot be taken away.

The first guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the GIFT of being uniquely created

Viktor E. Frankl wrote this while in a Nazi concentration camp, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”

Everyday you can wake up and know that God uniquely made you for something greater than yourself.

You cannot be replaced. You are deeply needed.

You have unique strengths and talents that God has planned from the beginning of time to be used to bring hope and healing to this broken world.

No circumstances can take this GIFT away from you.

Everyday you wake up and look in the mirror, remind yourself that you are one of a kind, and God wants to use your talents, passions and experiences to make this world a better place.

Everyday you can live with the GIFT, hope and confidence that you are not an accident and you were created for this moment and this time in history to do something great.

Do not play it small. Do not wonder why you are here.

You are here on purpose. You are one of a kind.

Embrace this gift!

The second guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the JOY of forgiveness

There is nothing more paralyzing than the regret, pain and grief of past mistakes and sins.

Our self esteem plummets as we live with the consequences of what our past transgressions have brought to us.

Depression, addictions and other destructive behaviors try to mask the pain of our past.

Yet…you are no different than anyone else in the room.

You are no better or worse than the people to your left or to your right.

You are not a better or worse sinner than the people in your neighborhood.

You do not have the “corner market” when it comes to irreversible sins.

God sent his son Jesus to die for the sins of the world, and you are not an exception to the rule.

God is bigger than your sin.

God’s love for you is greater than your regret.

When we come to God with our grief, he is there to replace it with his forgiveness and that is a JOY we can embrace and live with everyday and nothing can take that away.

Someone once said, “After grief for sin there should be joy for forgiveness.”

C.S. Lewis said, “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

Knowing we are forgiven by God is the biggest step towards mental health.

Forgiveness is the greatest need for the human race.

The third guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the OPPORTUNITIES of today

Bill Keane said something deeply profound when he wrote, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

We are often so consumed by the regrets of the past or the worries of tomorrow that we miss the OPPORTUNITIES of today.

Scriptures remind us over and over that, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

They remind us to, “Remember how short our lives are so we should treasure and live each day wisely.”

They remind us that everyday, “God’s mercy, grace and power is offered to us, to do His will, to be His light.”

Everyday that we wake up and have breath is an opportunity to experience the abundant life God has offered to us.

Everyday is an opportunity to grow, learn, celebrate, laugh, cry, serve and love a world that desperately needs it.

“For God so loved the world…”, and it changed everything!

When we use every opportunity to “love the world…”, it changes everything, mostly ourselves.

Paulo Coelho, author of the powerful book “The Alchemist” wrote, “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

The fourth guarantee that cannot be taken away is…

…the PROMISE of tomorrow

We can live fearlessly everyday, embracing our uniqueness, celebrating our forgiveness and boldly loving in difficult places because of God’s promise of the future.

The Apostle Paul showed us that “No eye has seen, or mind can comprehend what God is preparing for those who love Him.”

He also reminds us that, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love.”

The Apostle John saw that we can live with the security that one day, “There will be no more disease, sorrow, pain, tears, abuse or regret.”

Jesus taught us that as we celebrate our uniqueness, are born again by forgiveness and love the least of these, that we are investing our lives in things that will last forever.

As we live in a fragile, painful world that does not have a lot of guarantees, the scriptures teach us that as we grieve because of disease, war, abuse and broken promises, that we should grieve with a powerful hope that has been promised to us from the beginning of time, that in the words of Pablo Neruda, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

Everyday we can offer our uniqueness, be freed from our sins, be energized by our daily purpose and can walk around with a silly grin, not because all things are well, but because…”it may be dark in the night, but joy comes in the morning!”

Each generation seems to boastfully declare they are the last one before God makes all things right.

I do not know the answer to that one.

When asked that question, Jesus said he didn’t know the answer either.

Because we do not know, our job is to know what is guaranteed in this life and to pass it on to the next generation.

That is our job. This is our opportunity.

Let’s make sure the children around us and children around the world know that there are 4 things that are guaranteed and cannot be taken away.

The GIFT of being uniquely made.
The JOY of forgiveness.
The OPPORTUNITIES of today.
The PROMISE of tomorrow.

Carl Sandburg once said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” I couldn’t agree more!

Contentment: The Elusive American Virtue

Most of our lack of contentment has to do with COMPARING.

When we compare what we have to what those around us have, we will never be content.

Living a life of discontentment affects our own personal happiness, our relationships, our finances and many times our moral choices.

Your life is unique.

You are one of a kind.

God made you and picked you and gave you a purpose that is like no other.

Your looks, skills and resources are original.

God does not want you to be like someone else.

He wants you to be YOU!

Your unique purpose is needed in our world.

You cannot be you while you are trying to be like someone else.

C.S Lewis very wisely wrote in Mere Christianity, “We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. Nearly all those evils which people put down to greed or selfishness are really far more the result of pride.”

Our obsession with riches really is an obsession of what I have compared to what others have.

The apostle Paul said some encouraging and powerful words when he said, “Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

Finding contentment in America is like fitting a camel through the eye of a needle. Hmm? Someone much smarter than I said that once.

Most of our problem with comparing ourselves to others is that we don’t really know who we are. We feel lost. We feel like we need to attach ourselves to what the world says is important in order to feel valuable.

Once a human finds out WHO THEY REALLY ARE, they then begin to find the real contentment that they have been searching for.

Our perspectives, hopes, dreams, priorities change when we realize WHO WE ARE!

Fred Craddick tells this story about the time he was vacationing in Tennessee.

Fred and his wife were seated at a table in a restaurant when an old man came up to them and asked, “Are you folks on vacation?” “Yes,” said Fred, “and we’re having a good time.”

“What do you do for a living?” the old man said. Fred was trying to get rid of the guy and he said, “I’m a preacher.”

“Oh,” the old man said. “Then let me tell you a preacher story.”

He pulled up a chair and sat down.

“I was born an illegitimate child. I never knew who my father was. That was very hard for me. The kids at school made fun of me and they called me names. When I walked around our little town I always felt that people were staring at me and asking that terrible question, ‘I wonder who the father of that little boy is?’”

“I spent a lot of time by myself and growing up I didn’t have any friends.”

“One day a new pastor came to town and everybody was talking about how good he was. I’d never gone to church but one Sunday I decided I’d go hear him speak.”

“He was good. So I kept coming back. But each time I went to church I’d come in late and I’d leave early so I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody.”

“Then one Sunday I got so caught up in listening to the sermon I forgot to leave early. The service ended, people stood up and I couldn’t get out the door. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder.”

“When I turned that big tall pastor was looking down at me. He asked, ‘What’s your name boy? Whose son are you?’”

“When I heard that question I just shook. But before I could say anything the preacher said, ‘I know who your family is. There’s a distinct family resemblance. Why, you’re the child of God.’”

“You know, mister, those words changed my life,” he said. The old man got up and left.

The waitress came over and asked me, “Do you know who that was?”

“No,” said Fred. She said, “That’s Ben Hooper, two term governor of Tennessee.”

A man learned he was the child of God and it changed his life.

All the depression and all the cuts and hurts and rejection he’d had through his life were eliminated by the power of God’s love.

And no longer could people diminish his sense of dignity because he was a child of God.

David wrote in the psalms “God is the Father of orphans, champion of widows, He makes homes for the homeless, and leads prisoners to freedom”

Paul wrote to the Romans, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs.”

That elusive virtue called contentment happens when we realize who and whose we are and that we have been called to a greater purpose and calling than just acquiring things.

We have been called to represent our Heavenly Father to a world that desperately needs to know about His love.

Mother Teresa said these beautiful words about our highest calling of representing God here on earth, “Hungry for love, He looks at you. Thirsty for kindness, He begs of you. Naked for loyalty, He hopes in you. Homeless for shelter in your heart, He asks of you. Will you be that one to Him?”

My son’s girlfriend, Pauline Hassan is a hero in my life. Her mother was born in Sudan, and Pauline was a young girl when they moved to San Diego to escape the persecution and danger of her war torn country.

I believe we can learn from her and her family about how right priorities and hard work can lead to a contentment in America that is greater than just how much money we can make.

They remind me to always make my life purpose greater than just about myself.

The news organization Al Jazeera interviewed Pauline and her mother Agnes talking about “Living the Modern ‘American Dream’”.

It is a very inspiring interview.

I am proud to know Agnes. I am proud to know Pauline.

Check out the link below

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There Are Voices In My Head

There is a Turkish proverb that says, “If speaking is silver, then listening is gold.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Everyday there are voices screaming in our heads and the question is, “Which ones will we listen to?”

One person said it like this, “I have voices in my head, but they’re all speaking Spanish, and I have NO idea what they’re saying.”

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

The psalmist wrote, “I will listen to you, Lord God, because you promise peace.”
Proverbs states that, “A smart person will listen to God and increase wisdom.”
It goes on to say that, “Whoever listens to God’s voice has security and has no reason to be afraid.”
It continues, “Listen to me and you will find happiness.”
Jeremiah wrote, “Call to God and listen to him and he will tell you things you don’t know anything about.”

It seems like a no-brainer to listen to God’s voice with those promises, but the problem is, there are other voices competing in our heads every day.

The truth is we will hear the voice of what we love and focus on the most.

At home, my T.V. can be on, with no one really paying attention until George Clooney’s voice comes on and my wife stops dead in her tracks and runs toward the screen.
There can be a lot of noise in the house, but if hunky George comes on the T.V. she will somehow hear his voice and stop everything else she is doing.

Why does my wife hear Georges voice above every one else?

Because we hear the voice of who and what we love and focus on the most.

I hate George Clooney.

What voices do you listen to?
What voices do you trust?
What voices are the loudest to you?

One of the loudest voices in our head is the VOICE OF OUR CULTURE.

The voices of our culture tell us to worry, hoard, don’t forgive and climb over people to get to the top

They tell us who is important, beautiful and successful.

Our culture shouts out very clearly who is valuable.

These voices lead to the death of dreams, joy, hope, relationships and many times the death of our spirit.

Proverbs tells us that “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

Another voice that competes in our head is the VOICE FROM OUR PAST.

Phrases like, “You have blown it”, “You have burned too many bridges”, “You had your chance”, “Why would it be any different now”, and “You will always be this way”, scream at us all day long.

Another voice that is debilitating is the VOICE OF OTHERS.

It is amazing how hard it is to forget words like, “You are fat.” “You are stupid.” “You are ugly.” “I wish I would of never had you. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

Besides the voices of our culture, past and others fighting for supremacy in our head, there is another voice at work full time and it is the VOICE OF THE ACCUSER.

Jesus said, “…he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The accuser will use whatever voice he can to lie to you.

He will use the voices of the culture to lower your self-esteem and cause discontentment.
He will use the voices of your past to make you lose hope for the future.
He will use the voice of others to keep you from dreaming big.
And he will use his voice to condemn, judge and tell you are unforgivable and it is too late.

I was just recently talking to a 19 year old young lady, who had been abandoned by her father, was involved in substance abuse and had compromised her values through many broken relationships.
She was listening to the voices in her head that were telling her that she was worthless, ugly and that God was done with her.
She felt it was too late and she had made too many mistakes.
She felt scared, alone and very fragile.
She was hurting so bad.

I talked to her about changing the voices she listened to in her head.

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF VALUE that says “You are not an accident and you are wonderfully and fearfully made.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF SATISFACTION that says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF WISDOM that says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice saying, “This is the road! Now follow it.”

I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF HEALING that says, “I have come to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free.”

And then I told her to begin to listen to God’s VOICE OF INVITATION that says, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”

I asked her, “Will you hear God’s voice?”
And then I said, “What is really amazing is that God will hear your voice…”
I read her Psalm 116:1, “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”

She decided that day to begin to change the voices she listened to.
Today, God is changing, healing and bringing joy and purpose to this beautiful young ladies life.

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

Will you take a few moments and listen to God’s voice speak to you through scripture:

For those who are tired, God says,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

For those who have been abandoned, God says,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

For those living with shame, God says,
“…as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your transgressions from you.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

For those searching for significance, God says,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

For those seeking salvation, God says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” John 11:25 (NLT)

For those needing wisdom for the future, God says,
“Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.” Jeremiah 33:3 (GNT)

For those figuring out what success is, God says,
“If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” Matthew 10:39 (CEV)

For those tempted to take short-cuts in life, God says,
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.” Proverbs 10:9 (NLT)

For those needing financial wisdom, God says,
“Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything.” Proverbs 11:24 (NLT)

For those who are buying into the cultural phrase that if it feels good do it, God says,
“Save yourself for your wife and don’t have sex with other women.” Proverbs 5:17 (CEV)

For men looking for ways to be a better husband, God says,
“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.” Ephesians 5:25 (GNT)

For those sorting out their priorities in life, God says,
“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” Matthew 6:33 (NCV)

For those who are looking for good investments, God says,
“Caring for the poor is lending to the Lord, and you will be well repaid.” Proverbs 19:17 (CEV)

For those who are looking to be blessed, God says,
“Be generous and share your food with the poor. You will be blessed for it.” Proverbs 22:9 (GNT)

For those who are feeling weak, God says
“My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NCV)

For those who are wanting to be productive, God says,
“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

For those who are discouraged, God says,
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

For those who need refreshing, God says,
“The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning;”
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NCV)

For those who want to be great, God says,
“If you want to be great, you must be the servant of all the others.” Matthew 20:26 (CEV)

For those who love to worship, God says,
“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the
Lord. Remove the chains of injustice. Free those who are abused! Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; don’t turn away your relatives.” Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEV)

For those who want to meet Jesus, God says,
“Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40 (CEV)

For those who need God to narrow it down to what is most important, God says,
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40 (NCV)

And to all of those who have lost someone close to them and need the hope of heaven, God says,
“Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)

WHO YOU LISTEN TO WILL DETERMINE THE DESTINY OF YOUR LIFE.

People’s Answers to Simplifying their Lives

These are some of the responses from my blog “I HAVE A QUESTION. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWER!”
I will continue to post more answers as they come in.

LORI
“Live simply so that others may simply live” Mother Teresa

“This is a spiritual principle that cannot be explained, only lived and experienced.”

“My husband retired a couple of years ago and we thought we’d have to reduce our giving due to reduced income, but decided to give the same amount for a couple of months, and we seemed to have the same amount of money left! It’s crazy, we’ve actually increased our giving, and now sponsor 7 Compassion children (but you know, there’s still space on the refrigerator for more pictures…)”

“When you tell God you want to be able to give to help others, HE changes your desires, and makes a way for it to happen, and brings you great joy.”

PAULINE
“I would like to simplfy my life and make it as honest as possible. Working through the 12 steps in celebrate is helping me with that and with your encouragement I will try harder.”

FORREST
“We have had the phone ring for more work 15 minutes after we prayed, cars that just kept on going even after they should have died, lived on a $500 dollar food budget per month……with a family of 10……..no, not a misprint…$500.00 for 10 people!”

TARA
“After traveling to Africa people often I ask why I like going there so much (not exactly a vacation hot spot . It is hard to explain, but in the land of such extreme poverty, disease, climate, religious bondage, life is simple. Instead of feeling anxious I feel at peace, I feel useful rather than useless, instead of rushed I know I am living exactly in God’s timing.”

ANN
“I do sponsor a Child in Africia(David) and hope he is blessed. I know I am. Especially when we get his letters.”

“We are learning to live on what we have, and help when we can.”

“This is what a Church should do help the people who can not help themselves, that have no voice and no hope, not only financially but in action and emotionally.”

CHERIE
“Every time we have needed Him, He has shown up for us. As a family, we have been through some unbelievable circumstances where we saw “no way out”.

“We have tithed faithfully, even when we felt fear about financial circumstances. I refuse to give in to that fear, because He has proven himself faithful to us, over and over.”

“It makes us feel like we are helping………compassion kids (when you really SEE the difference that SMALL amount of money makes in their lives, it’s like “I can do without this Starbucks every day).”

“When we serve at the Senior Centers, when we rake leaves in a mobile home park, when we help an elderly person navigate the supermarket, even, for me, at work……..the love of Jesus Christ can shine through me, in the way that I treat my patients, and co-workers.”

“Live a life in FULL VIEW, because He sees, even when others do not. Not like “geez, I HAVE to do this, or I’ll get in trouble”, but more like “Lord. I want to honor you”.

PAULA
“Lately, even though we make less now than we ever have, God has put in on my heart to not only give my 10% where needed but more, and with a little fear but lots of faith I have said okay and He is faithful. We have all we need.”

“There’s a sense of true love and family when people help each other and share what they have, even if it’s a cup of coffee. And my 5 year old prays at every dinner for Ines, our compassion child, that she has a nice dinner. He’s been doing that for a year. It warms my heart.”

TIM
“Responses to your questions from your blog.
Question 1. Basic cable $9.95 next step up almost $100.
Question 5. James 4:17. Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it sins. Ouch.”

Matthew 25 34-36 “And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25 40 “Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’

These are just some of the responses from my blog,”I HAVE A QUESTION. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWER!”
Would love to hear your response.

You Have To Go Out, But You Don’t Have To Come Back

On Nantucket Island, there is a little museum devoted to a volunteer organization formed centuries ago.

In those days, travel by sea was extremely dangerous. Because of the storms in the Atlantic along the rocky coast of Massachusetts, many lives would be lost within a mile or so of land.

So a group of volunteers went into the life-saving business. They banded together to form what was called the Humane Society.

These people built little huts all along the shore. They had people watching the sea all the time. Whenever a ship went down, the word would go out, and these people would devote everything to save every life they could.

They did not put themselves at risk for money or fame, but only because they prized human life.

In fact they adopted a motto that said: “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” Not a great recruiting slogan is it?

These were people who would risk everything—even their lives—to save people they had never met.

But over time, things changed.

After a while, the U.S. Coast Guard began to take over the task of rescue. Eventually, the idea that carried the day was, “Let the professionals do it. They’re better trained. They get paid for it.”

Volunteers stopped searching the coastlines for ships in danger. They stopped sending teams out to rescue drowning people.

Yet, a strange thing happened: They couldn’t bring themselves to disband. The life-saving society still exists today. The members meet every once in a while to have dinners. They are just not in the life-saving business anymore.

Two thousand years ago, a band of rag-tag followers of Jesus began to meet regularly to pray and strategize how they could rescue a ship-wrecked world.

It was a calling they took seriously.
Their motto was, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.”

The writer of Acts wrote as they embraced this slogan that “…they(the church) added to their number daily.”

Followers of Jesus were known as people who would adopt abandoned children, serve the poor, fight and die for justice, and stay in plague-filled cities to care for the sick, while others fled to safe places.

Rulers and governments were intrigued, confused and threatened by the willingness to give their life for others.

The early church left a permanent mark in the secular history books of the day.

What will history write about today’s church?
It was willing to go out, but it did not having to come back?
Or, it was judgmental, exclusive, irrelevant, fearful, turned it over to professionals, no longer in the life saving business but kept having meetings?

Peter Drucker says “It’s the human propensity to start with a clear vision and to get it muddied up along the way. It’s just kind of what happens to human beings in organizations.”

How badly the church is missed in our culture.
Yet there seems to be a church on every corner.
How can the church be missed when it is all around us?

The prophet Isaiah said that when the church is busy with meetings it becomes powerless.

The churches power comes from caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, fighting injustice, and protecting widows and orphans.

The impact of the church is not predicated on frequency of meetings and the eloquent nature of its rhetoric.
Its impact is not determined by a nice, accessible location.

The impact of the church has to do with its willingness to lay its life down for a ship-wrecked world.

When the church begins to re-live the motto, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back”, it will become relevant once again.

Let me share with you the Green Valley Life-Saving “Dream”.

The Green Valley dream is a dream where those who are hurting, hopeless, discouraged, frustrated or confused can find love, acceptance, guidance, hope, encouragement and forgiveness.

It is a dream of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in our community and beyond to the world.

It is a dream of thousands of people growing together in spiritual maturity through learning together, serving together, loving together, laughing together and giving together.

It is a dream where our love for one another would attract people to Christ.

It is a dream where people will look at Green Valley and say “Wow, church is a good thing!”

It is a dream where every person uses their time, talents, passions and resources for God’s purposes so that we honor God, by giving him our all, by giving him our best.

It is a dream where we continually reach back to invest in a new generation of children and youth who are our future leaders. It is where we look beneath the surface of their lives and see God’s gifts and potential in them.

It is a dream where we will serve the poor, take care of the sick, and love those who have walked down the wrong paths of life because that is where you actually meet Christ.

It is a dream that we will keep simple. LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE. And we will allow no other issues to get in our way.

It is a dream where we will constantly put ourselves in situations where we can’t do it ourselves, so that we will have to trust God and see him do amazing things.

It is a dream to never play it safe, but actually believe that God came to seek and save the lost. And actually believe that God told us that we must lose our lives in order to save them.

IT IS A DREAM THAT GOD LOVES.

It is a dream where He says, “Make yourself fully available to me. Fully available in your worship, talents, passions and resources. Fully available to love one another, forgive one another and serve one another. Make yourself fully, wholly, unconditionally, unreservedly, unashamedly available to me and I will blow your socks off with the miracles that I want to do.”

God says today, “Dreams do come true!”