Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Remembering Memorial Day

PBS gives a great summary of the meaning and tradition behind Memorial Day: http://www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert/meaning/

I found it very interesting that it was previously called "Decoration Day." This does, however, make sense; when we honor someone for what he/she has done, we "decorate" them with praises or rewards for a job-well-done. When someone passes away, we honor them with flowers and mementos of personal significance. 

Our country has been through so much; so many soldiers lost in wars and battles. I can't help but believe that every person knows someone who gave their life for the safety of others in war or battle. However, how quickly many of us move on or forget the real meaning behind National Holidays such as Memorial Day. 

No matter what we go through within our country, there are so many who gave everything to protect it and its people -- us. I feel like many of us are apathetic about National Holidays such as this; we get the day off and enjoy a long weekend with family and friends. Although there is nothing wrong with enjoying that time with family and friends, I think we need to be more patriotic and passionate about the country that we live in. 

So, now post-Memorial Day, what can we do to be more passionate and patriotic about our country, soldiers fighting for us now, soldiers now retired, and soldiers lost in war? How can we continue to honor, decorate, and remember what they do, did, and have done for us for so many years? Maybe a good start is remembering why we celebrate Memorial Day. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hidden Treasures: Can Good Come from Bad in Joplin?

It really was an excellent reminder about God's beautiful love and mystery amidst trials and disasters. The author of the article, Will Cunningham, quoted James 1:2-4, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

I love that passage. It's like a slap-in-the-face, convicting truth. I find it interesting that it says, "let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." What does it mean to let endurance have its perfect result? Does it mean do nothing about the situation and God will take care of everything? Absolutely not. From what I have read and learned from scripture, it means the exact opposite. We don't grow if we don't do something about the situation.  

Check out the next part of the chapter:

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." James 1:5-8

So we must ask God for wisdom! Taking initiative and going first to the only One who can give guidance and wisdom amidst trials. Here's what comes next:

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." James 1:12

So we must ask and then persevere, because God has promised us a crown of life in the end. We are acting and living through trials and disasters by asking God for help, believing and trusting Him without doubt --which takes all the strength and power in the world at times-- and persevering with God's grace. But it is not in vain! We will receive a crown of life as our reward. 

"This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does." James 1:19-25

This passage reiterates what I studied and wrote about yesterday. We cannot be lazy in our faith; faith in God is a call to action. God commands us to be excellent listeners, to think before we speak, and patient people (vs. 19). We must put aside filthiness and wickedness, and put on humility. A very big undertaking that cannot be ignored. 

Finally, God commands us to be doers of the Word, not simply hearers. So, what does it mean to let endurance have its perfect result? 

"If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:26-27

Prayer for Joplin

It's crazy how one storm can do so much damage. After hearing the news and seeing the pictures, it's almost indescribable. This article from RELEVANT Magazine, however, inspired me: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/current-events/features/25716-real-stories-from-joplin It's so cool to see the family of God come together and reach out wholeheartedly to those in need. 

Two passages of scripture come to mind when I read this article: James 1:27 says,  "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." And 1 John 3:18 says, "Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." 

The cool thing about these two passages is that the words "religion" and "love" are used as verbs; they produce actions, deeds, movement! James is telling us to visit the orphans and widows, and John tells us to "love...in deed and truth." I love how IgniteChurch.tv, Convoy of Hope, and all the volunteers stepped up and put love into action. This should always be our mentality when it comes to serving others with Christ's love: love that flows from doing something and taking initiative. 

So what can we do do help Joplin? You can make donations directly to Convoy of Hope, Red Cross, or WorldVision, however if you would like to purchase a gift-card to send to the victims in Joplin, we will make sure it gets there. Contact me, Allie Goodrow, or Dave Bos at Alternatives of Kalamazoo.

phone: 269.345.1740 ext. 11 or 16; 
or email: dave@alternativesofkzoo.org & allie@alternativesofkzoo.org

Let's put Christ's love into action!