November 11th was National Orphan Sunday. Frankly, every Sunday should be Orphan Sunday.
Our church is advocating for John and other children in foster care. You can help John and other children find a forever family!
“John is a sweet 10 year old boy! He said, “I really, really want to be adopted!” He is described as being all boy. John loves playing outside and catching bugs. He is very sweet and fun to be around. John likes to make jokes, and his infectious laugh will spread to anyone around him! He is competitive, athletic and ambidextrous. John is artistic and loves to draw- especially Minions and Pikachu from Pokémon. He desires a family that will love him unconditionally and be patient as he works through his trauma.”
Nearly 7% of all orphans in the USA are in Texas
17,000 children in Foster Care in Texas
340 kids are currently in Tarrant County foster care waiting to be adopted
20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless when they reach 21.
7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.
25% of children who age out of the foster care system still suffer from PTSD
Not everyone is called to adopt or become a foster parent. However, everyone can advocate for children in the foster care system.
Creative ways to help:
Pray for children in the foster care system and families who choose to step in.
“There are almost 17,000 kids in foster care in Texas. That seems like a crazy number until you hear there are almost 30,000 churches in Texas! There is more to Orphan Care than just fostering or adopting. If one Christian family from every church adopted and that church agreed to support and wrap around that family there would no no more orphans in Texas.“
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
A few years ago, Kathryn and I owned a beautiful SUV. It was truly a work of precision German engineering. It was the top of the line of ‘top-of-the-line’ SUVs containing all the ‘bells and whistles’ one could possibly imagine in a fine motor car. It was stunning and impressive. The darn thing was expensive. The warranty expired and we learned that maintenance was darn expensive as well. The ‘special’ run-flat tires could not be rotated. They had to be replaced (usually two at a time). The tires alone cost $650 each and had to be replaced about every 10,000-12,000 miles. Do the math. That’s $2600 per year in tires! As a special bonus, we had the privilege of replacing a cracked wheel at the low-low cost of $900. In one year, we spent over $3500 on tires and wheels. Oh yeah, did I tell you that it was beautiful, stunning and impressive? You can learn something from car tires.
Materialism requires maintenance
Here’s the lesson that you should take away from my foolishness. If you place any of your personal self-worth on the stuff you buy, get ready to spin your wheels and work your arse off to maintain it. I don’t care if you have millions or billions, if you place your ANY of your self-worth on the stuff you can accumulate in life, you will live in a cycle of maintenance. Take if from me, I’m a recovering materialist!
Everything we buy ends up in a trash heap somewhere. That expensive SUV we owned will eventually end up a rusted hunk of junk in a junk yard. That expensive home will eventually be torn down. All the stuff that we buy to impress others and/or make us feel better will eventually decay in some hole in the ground.
The material isn’t the problem, ‘Materialism’ is
Owning nice stuff is not the problem. The problem is when we tie our value to the stuff we own. When we love stuff and our capacity to attain more stuff more than we love God and people, we have exchanged that which is priceless for something with a price tag. Stuff can become an idol. Eventually, we run the risk of allowing that idol to rule over us and we eventually end up in bondage. The stuff owns us.
I’ve seen too many people end up with a pile of really expensive junk and massive bank accounts only to spend their last days completely alone in the pit of regret. They don’t even have anyone to share the regret with except those who they hire to maintain their stuff while they die alone.
You don’t have to get caught up in the nasty cycle of Materialism! Ponder this…
Order you life: Life is about relationships. Who would you trade all your stuff to save their life?
Motivation of the heart: Have you ever asked yourself ‘why’ before you buy?
Value: Do you attach personal value on things you buy? A little status, perhaps? Be honest.
Envy: When someone else buys something you desire to own, does it make you angry or bitter?
People: Who are the people you spend the most time with? Are they people who work for you?
Generosity: One cure for materialism is to give stuff away. Give something you love away (rinse and repeat)
Cultivate Relationships: Seek time with God, family and friends. This means reaping and sowing. Do you invest in these three relationships? Are you generous with your time, talent and treasure?
What is true wealth? “Add up everything you have that money can’t buy and death can’t take away.” -Pastor A. Rogers
Explore these passages. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
“Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”” Mark 12:17
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22
The other day a friend casually ask me, “What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?”
I was caught by surprise by the question. Not because I couldn’t think of anything to be thankful for but, I was struck by another question that emerged in my mind. I must have appeared dazed to my kindly questioner because their smile turned into a puzzled look.
As my mind was flooded with memories, I stood paralyzed in thought and completely overwhelmed. The words left my lips as I mumbled, “Where do I begin?”
Thanksgiving is tomorrow. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve already noticed Thanksgiving themed posts streaming from the news feeds. Thanksgiving is taking over! In the midst of the turkey, stuffing, Black Friday and football, I think I found the real question behind Thanksgiving.
The real question behind Thanksgiving is NOT, “What am I Thankful for?”
The real question is, “Where do I begin?”
From the breath in my lungs to the love of my family and friends, where do I begin?
Is it that moment on a cool fall day when my face is warmed by the sun?
Where do I begin?
Is it for that moment when I get home from a long day and the love within washes over me?
Is it when I awake before dawn and realize I’m alive?
Where do I begin?
Is it when a friend passes through my life one last time before leaving this life behind?
Is it wrestling with my children on the living room floor?
What about the food on the table?
Is it the healing in a life of someone I love?
Where do I begin?
Is it for the calling on my life where I glimpse all of its parts masterfully woven together?
Is it for a loving letter from my mother?
The embrace of my wife?
The laughter of my children?
The chase that is my life?
Where do I begin?
The same place I begin is the same place I end.
The grace of my Savior, my brother and friend.
When I was in college, I was preoccupied with stuff. In fact, I attended college to learn how to make money to get my hands on the best kind and most expensive stuff. I wanted the nicest cloths, cars, food, vacations and toys that money could buy. I wanted to make a lot of money, pursue pleasure and comfort. Note: There is nothing wrong with nice things, money or stuff. It all comes down to how I relate to stuff, the significance I place on it and where I derive my self-worth. (more…)
Testing God: He challenges us to test Him through tithing “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:10)
In Tithing Part 2, I explained the mechanics and process of tithing from my perspective. Remember our focus should be on God through faithful stewardship. Tithing is not ‘Tipping God’; it is an act of obedience and worship that reminds us of our place in God’s economy. I can find no other instance in Scripture where God encourages us to test him except in regard to the Tithe.
Listen to me very carefully. I can give you dozens of examples in my life where I tithed on our income, knowing in the back of my mind that I did not have enough money left over to pay our bills. The first time this happened, I nearly came to tears in a state of panic and fear. I thought to myself, “What did I just do? I don’t have enough money left to pay our mortgage, buy groceries, etc.” I felt like an acrobat working without a net. Do you know what I learned at that moment? I had no other choice but to depend on God’s promise of provision (see Luke 12:22-34) (more…)
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