Jun 28, 2013 - Below the Line    No Comments

Challenge Complete!

4 days ago we started the Live Below the Line challenge with open hearts and open minds-praying that God would open our eyes and use us this week, as we set out to live on less than $1.50 a day and dive into some pretty heartbreaking topics. Each day brought new challenges, new experiences, and new areas and statistics to explore. We were honored to have the opportunity to share the story of Korah with everyone around us and to spend time in prayer each day interceding on their behalf. We hope that this week was a blessing for you guys as well and appreciate those who took the time to walk this journey with us, and for everyone who donated to A Heart for Korah. We discovered this week that the effects of hunger are wide-reaching and inner-connected. I spoke with someone this morning who asked, “How can one person help?” My answer was based off a statement from an A21 supporter, “We can’t do everything, but everyone can do something”. I encourage everyone to research Live Below the Line Challenge and further explore the topics that we touched briefly on this week on your own. You will find that while they appear overwhelming, simple steps can be taken to make a difference. Together if we all “do something” we can “change everything”.

P2-girl-in-class

Tonight we will explore the topic of education and how it is connected to the topic of hunger. Earlier this week we watched  A Place at the Table, a movie that focuses on hunger and poverty issues in Amercia. Rosie, a young girl in the movie, discusses her inability to focus in the classroom because she instead focuses on her stomach pains. She shares this struggle with 1 in 4 children in America who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This movie also explores the budget cuts and lack of funding for quality school lunches in America, averaging out around $1.00 available per student to cover lunch. This often leads to preprocessed, low-nutrient foods being offered to our students.

These students are in school, but globally many children are unable to attend school. As we explored in Day 2, sometimes children cannot attend school because they sent out to seek resources, like water. Day 3 showed us that sometimes schools are taken over by rebels as a base-station and students are unable to attend or students are forced into joining militant forces. Day 4 showed that millions of children around the world don’t have an education because they are enslaved to child labor or are kidnapped on the long walk to school and never returned. These are the forces that are working against a child in extreme poverty to keep him from gaining an education and giving him the ability to break the cycle of poverty in his life. It has been shown that children who are born to an educated mother have a 50% better chance to live past their 5th birthday. Sponsoring a child to provide them an education often means that they will be more educated in areas of life such as hygiene, avoiding land mines, how to avoid disease, and how to sterilize water properly. In President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” state of the union speech, he said “How can we expect someone to be productive in society without the proper ability to read and write?”  We need to also improve the quality of education in impoverished countries through government funding. In Sub-saharan Africa children with a 5th grade level of education only have a 40% literacy rate. The level of education is at the very core of breaking the cycle of hunger and water insecurities, war and slavery, and sex trafficking. Below are some links to explore on your own:

 

Brian Day 5

I began this week anticipating to be changed. I had explored some other people’s youtube video journals of their Live Below the Line challenge and knew that it would prove to be challenging to stay the course. I was able to explain to my Promise Keepers group this morning some of the unique challenges that we faced this week and describe some of the emotional and physical tolls that we paid. I gained a tremendous perspective this week; however, I  can NEVER fully understand what it is like to go live in extreme poverty. One person put it best this week that the best we can do is “attempt to walk their mile, in our shoes” and this is truly what it is. This weekend we will return to normal eating habits. We will be asked, what was the one thing was missed the most? What was our least favorite thing to eat? and a host of other questions. The answer to all these questions will be based on a week long journey of eating under $1.50 a day that was temporary. I will be forever changed and burdened by those who’s Live Below the Line challenge is permeant-stories like the lady from Northeast Philadelphia who doesn’t have enough money to feed her kids because she works a full-time job that puts her over $2.00 over the limit for welfare, or the woman that Mike shared with us today who has leprosy and is disfigured to the point that she must solely depend on others to live. These people will be forever on my heart.

Perhaps the most challenging part of  this week was the parallel to our children’s birth country. There stands a great chance that his/her birth family will be in extreme poverty and that, at some point in their lives, our children will experience one of the topics that we explored this week. I will choose to move forward on the words of “we can’t do everything, but everyone can do something” and as Josh Wilson so beautifully puts it “I refuse to do nothing”.

Thank you to everyone who donated this week to A Heart for Korah and/or joined us at 1:50 pm to intercede on their behalf. I pray that God has taken each of our prayers and whispered them in His Father’s ears that the people of Korah may have a God-moment this week. They would receive a cool-breeze at just the right moment, a feeling of being covered in prayer and love, or get valuable supplies from a missionary group or local church. I appreciate you reading our blog this week, I hope to bring follow-up topics periodically for us to explore and will be forever linked with this area of Ethiopia.

 

Heidi Day 5

If you told me on Monday morning how much this week would change me, challenge me, ROCK me, I would not have believed it.  This challenge really impacted me in ways that I really didn’t know were possible.  It seems so simple: live on $1.50 a day.  I am a fairly disciplined person, so, honestly, I didn’t really think that it would be that big of a deal. However, limiting my options of food, going to bed and waking up feeling hungry, and reading about and praying for all the people around the world that are living “below the line” really pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Wow, has my heart been burdened.

Today was probably the most challenging day, physically and psychologically.  I was tired of eating the same bland foods, and just felt plain hungry.  I had a headache for most of the day and felt frustrated at my lack of energy. I kept thinking about how I can’t wait until tomorrow- to go back to my normal way of eating, and, more importantly, to feel healthy.  I can’t wait to get rid of my hunger pains and to feel energetic and nourished.  I can’t wait to be able to go for my run and not feel famished after, and I can’t wait to indulge in goodies! There is an end for me; I know that tomorrow my hunger will end.  For that, I feel incredibly blessed. For the people living “below the line,” there is no end in sight.

One thing that I constantly think is, “why me?”  Why do I get to live here, while millions of innocent babies go hungry? Why is my belly full, when my own babies’ bellies may be empty? Why do I get to be safe when millions of people live in dangerous places?  Why do I have access to an abundance of clean water from my sink when millions of people have to walk miles just to get a drink? Why, why, why….the list goes on….Thinking like this can literally drive you crazy and make your heart hurt SO bad.  When you really think about it, it is absolutely overwhelming. However, I do not think that we should apologize or feel bad for our blessings.  They are exactly that- BLESSINGS.  The blessings that we have from our Lord are not intended to make us feel guilty or overwhelmed; rather, they are to equip us with the ability to share what we have- to serve and glorify the Lord through our abundance.  The question,then, changes from “why?” to “how?” How will I use my blessings to God’s glory? I pray that this week has glorified the Lord. I pray that our experience has raised awareness for the “least of these,” and that God has heard and honored our prayers for all the people of Africa, the United States, and all around the world that are living in poverty. Mostly, I pray that the Lord continues to challenge me and that my life can be more of HIM and less of me. Thank you for reading and following along on our journey.  I pray that God has spoken to your heart this week!

 

We will be providing the sum of our donations to A Heart for Korah soon. If you have not had the opportunity to donate and have prayerfully considered it we ask you to click the link below or visit the A Heart for Korah blog. Thank you so much, your blessing will truly make a difference.

 

 

Donate directly through A Heart for Korah Bloghttp://aheartforkorah.blogspot.com/

Jun 28, 2013 - Below the Line    No Comments

Prayer for Korah

Today is the last day of our Live Below the Line challenge, while just another day for the 1.4 billion who don’t get to end their struggles as easily.

We focused this week on the people of Korah, a 1 kilometer area in the poorest section of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I asked my good friend Pastor Mike Conroy to give us an inside perspective on the area where he recently visited to pray with and interact with the street children and people of Korah, please see his comments and photos below:

Korah is a place in Addis Ababa that was started by lepers and other outcasts around 70-75 years ago. There are many people with leprosy, who live there. Although, more people are plagued with AIDS and HIV now. It is a little village surrounding the city trash dump and the people pick food to eat from the trash, or things to sell. Some people actually live right in the dump itself, others live in houses surrounding it. It is about 1 square kilometer and around 120,000 people live there.

The rest of Addis view them as worthless, and very few people go there to visit with the people. It is a very hard place to live. The one old woman in the bed has no hands or feet from leprosy, yet she blessed us when we were leaving her house. I toughed and held on to her hands and it meant so much to her because no one wants to touch her. They love to read Matt 8, where Jesus touches the leper. That is such a BIG deal to them. That Jesus reached out His hand to touch and heal a leper.

Matthew 8

 

Today, as everyday this week at 1:50 PM we lift the people of Korah and all those who are affected by extreme poverty and live on less than $1.50 a day. They are not of the trash that surrounds them, they are deserving of the same freedom and basics needs that we were blessed to have in our lives. They are God’s children, they are our brothers and sisters and are loved. I found this beautiful prayer early in the week and wanted to share it with you so that we may collectively pray these words for these beautiful people today.

Lord you have brought some of us over the oceans and across the miles to share with us what lays heavy on your heart.   You have given us a glimpse, a small window into Korah.

We have seen the faces of those who grip your heart, who live under circumstances that grieve your spirit. These are your precious children; men, women and children, whom man has forgotten and ignored, living in oppression, in garbage dumps and makeshift homes filled with darkness. We are no longer innocent or uninformed, but we have had a glimpse of their reality. Their need is overwhelming, compassion floods our soul, we grieve. In these moments, as our hearts connect with yours, you remind us that the night is as day to you. You are there in their darkness! “Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:12

We pray for those living in Korah; may they see YOU in the darkness and may You turn their darkness into light. “You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.” 2 Samuel 22:29.

For too long the people of Korah have been forgotten.  For too long they have walked the path of pain and suffering.  We pray Lord; bring them on unfamiliar paths of love, acceptance, healing and hope. Open their eyes that they may see they are not alone and they are not forgotten; for Lord – You know each one by name! We pray for the healing of hearts, homes and lives in Korah.  A new dawn of hope and healing draws near – for You O Lord, have not forgotten Korah!  “For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant… I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:14

We pray for those whom you are raising up within Korah itself; for GreatHope Ministry, for Sammy and Pastor Antonoh, the men and women who work along side them. For those you are calling from near and far. We thank you for the amazing miracles you have done in their lives. We pray for your protection, your guidance, your wisdom, your strength and your provision for their lives and for their part in your ministry.  May they be sensitive to your spirit, may they hear your voice and see your vision for your ministry. May they do your work and not their own!

Lord we pray for ourselves. We may not have been born in Ethiopia, but you have chosen to share Korah with us.  May we be one with You. May we hear your voice and see your heart for your people. Help us not to turn our heads away. Help us not to forget, but instead we ask that you teach us how to pray for Korah – may our hearts and ears hear what it is You truly desire for this community, for these leaders, these Christian brothers and sisters who remain in Korah to minister and to love your people.

We pray that your light will continue to break through this darkness; through those who are there and through us who are here. Show us how to spend ourselves in behalf of the hungry and to satisfy the needs of the oppressed. Specifically show us what that means for us – for each one of us individually – it may be different, it may be the same. Please open our eyes and our hearts, so that our light – Your Light may rise in this darkness and the night that Korah experiences will soon become like the noonday – full of joy, healing, and HOPE!  “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood. Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say; Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the  pointing finger and malicious talk and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then  your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:6-10

We love you Lord and we pray all of this in
Christ’s precious name.

AMEN

 

As I have mentioned this week, we are collecting funds to send to A Heart for Korah, an organization that directly works with the people of Korah to provide critical supplies. They will be taking medical supplies and hygiene supplies there in August. Please take a moment to visit their blog, LIKE them on Facebook, and if you feel called make a donation by clicking on the link below on our site, or the link on their site. We are close to reaching our goal of $200.00 raised this week. Will you prayerfully consider helping us meet or exceed that goal today. We would love to bless as many people as possible on their upcoming trip.

Even a donation as little as $10.00 could have a huge impact for the people of Korah. There are a number of ways to make a donation, the first would be by clicking on the donate button below. Make sure that you make a note that it is for the Below the Line fundraiser. You can also visit A Heart for Korah blog and donate directly through their website. I would ask that you would make the same notation that it is for the Below the Line fundraiser. If you do not have a PayPal account, please feel free to email us and we will provide you our address to send a check. We thank you in advance for any prayers or donations you feel called to offer.

 

 

Donate directly through A Heart for Korah Bloghttp://aheartforkorah.blogspot.com/

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Come back this evening for our Day 5 area of focus, education, and a recap of our week. God bless.

Jun 27, 2013 - Below the Line    No Comments

War on Poverty

Welcome back to Day 3 of of our Live Below the Line challenge. We thank you again for all of those who have been praying with us at 1:50 each day as we continue to lift the people of Korah in Ethiopia in prayer, interceding on their behalf.  We pray that God will find a way to bring them comfort and love and to let them know that they are more than the trash that they are surrounded by- that they are a precious gift- and that there will be a day with no more suffering, no tears, no disease.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. – Revelations 21:4

Today we will focus on a topic that often leads to the water and hunger insecurities that we discussed earlier in the week, this topic is war and violence. In the year 2000 it was reported that an approximate 1.6 million people died as a result of violence.  Half of these people died from  suicide, one-third from homicide, and one-fifth from global conflicts. Gone are the days of major world-wars between countries; today’s wars are mostly fought within a country’s own borders. Often, rebels in the countries will steal or murder for life saving supplies or prevent their delivery all together, causing malnutrition and dehydration amongst innocent civilians.

Perhaps the practice that disturbs me the most is the use of children in war and violence. There are approximately 250,000 children soldiers around the world, in about 60 countries, with 40% of these being girls. In war torn areas a majority of civilian casualties end up being children, who are either innocently killed or forced into being soldiers. Often children enlisted in rebel forces are required to maim or murder their own family, thus forcing them out of their village and making it impossible for them to return home. War affects children in many ways just like adults, but there are additional hardships endured. Children are dependent upon the adults that love them. In war torn areas these bonds are often severed, leading to high depression rates. War also has many longterm affects on children who may loose a limb and be injured for life. Young girls may be raped and considered outcast in their communities, transmit deadly diseases,  and be considered unable to marry. Of course, the worst outcome for the children is death. It is so senseless that children have to die as a result of war and violence.

4

Of the topics that we have looked into this week, war is the most difficult to see an immediate solution. There are tangible solutions to  hunger and water insecurities; however,  war is a much more complex to resolve. This blog is not intended to find a solution to violence and war.  Rather, the goal is to examine its direct compounding impact on hunger and dehydration around the world. There are solutions to mitigate damage and heal children after wars, and I have  listed some links below for you to explore on your own. One solution is education—Schools usually provide a safe, protective environment and a chance for children to socialise with each other. They teach children how to stay safe – both in terms of avoiding landmines/unexploded ordinance but also in terms of avoiding disease, treating drinking water properly etc.

 

Brian Day 3:

Today began with a growling belly when I woke this morning and feelings of lack of sleep. I took time this morning as I prepared my coffee and oatmeal to spend some time in prayer for the people of Korah and those who are suffering from the pains of hunger and dehydration around the world. As I headed to work I grabbed a banana and began my commute. On my way to work I peeled the banana looking forward to some extra food to get me through the day and was quickly confronted with a bruised banana. This was a challenge for me given that I’m already not a big fan of ripe bananas, but I thought of something I mentioned earlier in the week. When your living on $1.50 you can’t afford to have things go wrong. A simple bruise on my banana and some spilled coffee earlier in the morning were trivial reminders compared to other things people struggle with like illness, natural disaster, war, and much more. I made it through most of the day and battled through some hunger pains as I was a little more active today at work than typical. Perhaps the most challenging aspect that came to the surface for Heidi and I today was the pain that greeted us this morning as we woke up will be most likely felt by our children at some point before they are referred to us. If not hunger, they or their family will likely face the challenges that we are discovering this week. To grieve for the people of Korah, the 1.4 billion people who live on so little is difficult. Having a much more personal connection to our children who will suffer great tragedy before coming into our lives has taken this next level on many aspects.

 

Heidi Day 3:

This challenge was Brian’s idea.  When I agreed to complete the challenge with Brian, I never realized how deeply it would impact me.  Day 3 has rocked me to my core.  I woke up this morning feeling hungry- a gnawing pain in my stomach.  I could not help but think of the millions of children that wake up every.blessed.morning with that feeling- with no end in sight.  My heart literally felt like it was breaking.  This feeling is compounded by the realization that my children will be hungry.  In fact, my children could be very hungry right this very instant.  This is the reality of adoption- children are not placed up for adoption for no reason.  Adoption is beautiful, redeeming, and wonderful; but is it also hard- with hard stories. As a mother, I am overwhelmed with worry, fear, sadness at the thought of my babies being hungry, scared, unprotected for even one second.  Feeling hungry today made my heart grieve for the hunger that my babies will inevitably experience.  I think that it is something that we do not like to think about- we hear about hunger, hear about poverty….but it is always happening to those “other” people.  When we think like that, we can emotionally disconnect from the reality of this world.  I am guilty of this. However, when I think of it as MY CHILDREN, my heart, my everything.  Well, it is just overwhelming.  As I cried out to the Lord in prayer, I heard His gentle reminder that my children and all the people of the world are precious in His sight- HIS children.  He loved my babies before I ever did, and He cares for them.  I am trusting and believing that the Lord is gently holding our babies right in the palm of His hand, that they are able to feel His mighty hand surrounding them- and the love of their mommy from across the world- even in the midst of despair.  Trusting in God’s redeeming love to bless it.  One of our favorite songs is called ” My Own Little World-” such a beautiful prayer in that song:

“Father, break my heart for what breaks yours.  Give me open hands and open doors.  Put your light in my eyes and let me see, that my own little world is not about me.”

Praying for the Lord to continue to reveal His love, His plan, and His glory in our journey.  Bless it, Lord.

Jun 27, 2013 - Below the Line    1 Comment

The 99%

Day 4 is coming to an end and we are so very appreciative for those who have returned daily to follow along on this journey. Tomorrow will be our last and final day of the Live Below the Line challenge.

Today’s topic is one that doesn’t always make the front page, is still considered taboo to many, and is among the toughest of topics to dig into because the information is staggering and, in my opinion, disgusting. We will take a brief moment to focus on human trafficking and slavery as it relates to the topic of food and water insecurities.

In the time it took for you to make it this far into today’s post, someone was a victim of human trafficking. Statistically, there is a 99% chance that this person will disappear and never be relocated. This happens every 30 seconds, resulting in 27 million people globally who are forced into slavery, with most of them being women in children. The captives are rarely convicted and often blend into society and go unnoticed. Human trafficking is quickly becoming the number 1 crime in the world; humans are second most trafficked item next to drugs.

If not for sex and abuse, children, from countries like Africa and Thailand, are often enslaved as workers for agriculture and industry work. 215 million children slaves make up the largest amount of child laborers in human history. This issue goes hand in hand with people who may be living under $1.50 a day.  Poverty makes a person more vulnerable to sex trafficking and child slavery.

Victims of human trafficking are often the most desperate, needy and vulnerable people in a society. When you’re hungry, nothing else matters. Hunger controls you. A mother experiences helplessness when she is unable to feed her children and most parents will do just about anything to ensure their children have food. The feelings of desperation that the poor experience due to hunger make them vulnerable to the devious ploys of traffickers. (WorldVision)

Cocoa-Child-Laborer

This topic is one that is overwhelming and absolutely heart breaking for us to wrap our minds around. Below, please find several links below for you to reference if you would like to know more.

 

Brian Day 4

Today I experienced the blandness of diet that someone living on $1.50 must deal with day in day out. I normally struggle with eating the same cereal two mornings of the week.  I realize that I enjoy the luxury, that so many in the world do not have, of the variety of flavors and spices in our pantry. My meals at lunch today were very bland—just lentils and split peas with plain rice. It was a struggle to finish the meal because it was so tasteless.  Today I think of the people of Korah who would give anything to consume fresh clean lentils daily that wouldn’t be scraps from a trash dump. I am looking forward to returning to a normal diet and prayed heavily about this today. I pray that God would take this opportunity to change my perspective and appreciation for the blessings of meals in my life. How often as a child did we say grace before dinner but never appreciate or explore the words within a simple prayer. For 1.4 billion people “my daily bread” has such a deeper more impactful meaning than we could ever imagine.

 

Heidi Day 4

Like Brian, I am feeling tired of eating plain oatmeal, lentils, rice, and eggs.  Our diet is very boring and I am finding myself fantasizing about eating fresh fruit, greens, ice cream, bread….the list goes on!  It is humbling to think about the people of Korah and how they would probably so appreciate fresh, clean lentils, oatmeal, and eggs.  I also think of the people in the United States that shift through dumpsters, beg on the streets, and have to live off of processed cheap meals, like Ramen noodles.  It truly does give a whole new meaning to “our daily bread”.  The Lord has blessed us with so much, I only hope that we can be grateful for what we have and strive to be His hands and feet.

Jun 26, 2013 - Below the Line    1 Comment

Linchpin

Thank you for joining us again today as we continue on our “Live Below the Line” challenge. Yesterday we looked at the issue of hunger, an issue that affects more than 870 million people around the world. Today we will look at an issue that affects over 1 billion people globally, and that is the inability to have clean drinking water and proper sanitation.

As the video above states, Water Changes Everything. In Africa, there is a saying that “Water is Life”. Just like hunger, it is an issue that has wide-reaching effects that trickle down such as the obvious—chronic illness, but also affects education, job loss, and food insecurity. In developing countries, where 99% of the water shortages occur, the average time a woman or child spends collecting water a day is 3 hours. That is 3 hours taken that could be spent towards education, farming, or sustaining a business.

Just like hunger, water is a solvable problem. There are many innovative ways to make a huge impact in the lives of over 1 billion people that require little effort on our part, but rather a collective effort from the world. There are new inventions in water filtration, such as filtered straws and filtered water bottles, that can take unhealthy water and filter out sickness and disease, while tried and true methods like digging wells and water sheds can change an entire villages sustainability. Although 99% of water shortages occur in developing countries, natural disasters can strike at any moment, such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that leave people without water for up to a week.

The statistics on the inability to obtain clean drinking water are staggering. Approximately 4,100 mothers lose a child to diarrhea daily, which is one child every 21 seconds. This is at the equivalent rate of a jumbo jet crashing every 4 hours.

Rarely discussed, but equally important is a topic that goes hand-in-hand, sanitation. Did you know that the shower we take each morning is equivalent to the amount of water someone in Africa would use in an entire week? More people in the world have a cell phone than a toilet.

So what are we to do? How can we help those so desperately in need of something so simple?  I have placed some links below with organizations that are seeking to make changes in how people obtain, clean, and maintain water sources in an affordable and sustainable way. I invite you to check them out to learn more. Please leave a comment below if you know of additional resources. This week is a learning experience for both Heidi and I and we would welcome any input you would have.

 

Brian Day 2:

Today was an interesting lesson and learning experience. I forgot to prepare my lunch meal the night before so I had to wake up at 4:30am to prepare my meal in time to leave for work. Lentils and rice take a considerable amount of time to boil down. I thought about those who have to prepare food in developing countries and how much effort it must take to do this daily, expelling valuable energy and time in the process. I had the comfort of turning my gas stove to boil and filling it with water from the tap, a process much more difficult for others that I had never considered.  I also noticed that I was considerably more tired today than yesterday and it’s probably the lack of nutrients and sleep combined, not to mention I’m missing my normal 4 cups of coffee in the morning. I made it through the rest of the day okay by spacing out my meals better and just finished a delicious bowl of Roast Chicken Ramen noodles…yum processed. Heidi and I watched A Place at the Table tonight and I was left speechless. It is easy to envision starving children that we see on television from developing countries and be disconnected, but this movie faces the problem of hunger in America, a country that has more than enough food to sustain its population, but chooses not to through government bureaucracy and greed. It also tackles the parallel between hunger and obesity following the story of those who have to choose saturated and processed foods over healthy alternatives due to cost and lack of supply. A particularly shocking observation was from the midwest where residents have to drive over an hour to a grocery store to get fruits and vegetables because the smaller mom & pop stores simply don’t carry them.

Heidi Day 2:

Today I had the pleasure of spending some time with my best friend, Kate, as she anxiously awaits the arrival of baby Molly. Kate and I are both preparing our hearts to become mothers, and we discussed how awful it must be for mothers around the world who do not have enough food to feed their children and who do not have access to clean drinking water.  The highlight of my day was being with Kate at 1:50 and being able to pray together for the people of Korah, of the United States, and all around the world, that go hungry and do not have access to clean water. We live in  a time and place where drinking filtered water from disposable bottles is a fad- while people walk 3 hours just to obtain the water that they need to survive.  Among other things, today has definitely changed my perspective on and appreciation for clean drinking water and access to food.  We are blessed beyond measure.

 

How can you help?

Please join us again tomorrow at 1:50 PM to lift the residents of Korah and the 1.4 billion people in the world who are struggling to meet their most basic needs. Tomorrow we will focus on the important issue of war . If you feel called, you can click on the Donate button below, or visit the blog, A Heart for Korah, an organization that provides direct aid to this area—you can find a link on our sidebar. If you donate below or through their site—please include “Live Below the Line” fundraiser in a message to seller. You can also email us for a physical address to mail a donation. Thank you in advance for all of your support.

 

Jun 25, 2013 - Below the Line    1 Comment

A Place at the Table

Each day this week we will take a moment to focus on a specific area of poverty; each are a fact of life for a majority of those living on less than $1.50 a day. Today, we will take a brief look at the area of hunger.

Current statistics show that there are roughly 870 million malnourished people around the globe, which means that 1 in 8 people globally do not get enough food to be healthy and live an active life (World Food Programme, WFP). In the US, 1 in 4 children don’t know where their next meal will come from (A Place at the Table). Hunger does not respect borders, class, race, gender, or any other definition. It is not always spotted on the surface, and is often responsible for disease, lack of physical and mental development, reduced productivity, and increased risk of premature death.

If you did not see it when it came out in March, I would encourage you to rent or purchase “A Place at the Table” (DVD), due to be released on DVD tomorrow. It is a documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, and proposed solutions to the problem.

World Food Programme defines hunger as the world’s greatest solvable problem. One of the topics discussed in “A Place at the Table” describes how the US government began to actively pay farmers to not produce crops to ensure that they could maintain financial stability, when the previous program of allowing the farmers to grow crops (that eventually set in silos and rotted) became frowned upon. According to WFP, it would take $3.2 billion dollars annually to feed the 66 million school aged children in the world. It is estimated the US spends $2 billion dollars a year to prevent crops.

I could spend an entire week on this single topic alone, but will instead direct you towards several articles or videos that I found that gave me a different perspective on the issue of hunger, both locally and globally. This week I would encourage you to seek out your own opinions and think about how you can help. Do not feel overwhelmed as neither you nor I alone can solve these issues, it will take a planet of people working together and putting feelings and greed aside. One man invented a product called Plumpynut that is helping dramatically save malnourished children around the world.

Brian Day 1:

Breakfast went well this morning with an adequate amount of oatmeal and a cup of coffee. I prepared my lunch the night before by soaking my lentils and split peas. I discovered this morning that rice takes a considerable amount of time to cook. I tried to stretch it as far as I could until lunch today, and made it to 2:00 pm before caving. I tried to drink water today at the times I was hungry, and that seemed to help. With each sip, I couldn’t help but think of the videos of women and children walking miles for water that was filled with dirt and disease. We are so very blessed when it comes to something so simple. It’s very humbling. We finished out the night with a buttered biscuit and Ramen noodles for dinner. I will attempt tomorrow to eat dinner closer to bed time to fight off the late night sweet tooth. Day 1 down and 4 to go, I anticipate tomorrow to be extremely difficult.

Heidi Day 1:

While discussing Live Below the Line this weekend, one of the quotes that Brian shared with was, “We are not walking a mile in their shoes…we are walking their mile in our shoes.” So true. We are making choices this week to limit our food, however, we know that at the end of the week, things will go back to “normal.” I know that even though I am hungry tonight, I will not be hungry this time next week, and I certainly was not hungry this time last night. Perspective is everything. I can’t help but think of the million of people around the world, in my children’s birth country, and right here in my back yard that do not have this perspective. For them, hunger is real…with no end in sight. Today was an active day for me; I went for a 5.5 mile walk with my friend, then ran a mile, then cleaned by house and reorganized our bathrooms this afternoon. As I sit here tonight, I can feel sluggish. I keep thinking about all the moms around the world that work, physically labor, take care of their children, all while hungry- with hungry kids. I just cannot imagine. So, do I feel hungry tonight? Yes. Do I know what it is like to truly be hungry? I never have- and I feel blessed by that. I pray for all the people for whom that feeling is all too familiar.

 

How can you help?

Please join us again tomorrow at 1:50 PM to lift the residents of Korah and the 1.4 billion people in the world who are struggling to meet their most basic needs. Tomorrow we will focus on the important issue of clean drinking water and sanitation. If you feel called, you can click on the Donate button below, or visit the blog, A Heart for Korah, an organization that provides direct aid to this area—you can find a link on our sidebar. If you donate below or through their site—please include “Live Below the Line” fundraiser in a message to seller. You can also email us for a physical address to mail a donation. Thank you in advance for all of your support.

 

Jun 23, 2013 - Below the Line    2 Comments

Preparing our Hearts and Pantry

We are counting down the hours until we begin this week’s “Live Below the Line” challenge. We are looking forward to taking this week to reflect on some of the greatest issues that so many people around the world are forced to face daily and hope that you’ll join us this week by joining us in prayer each day at 1:50 PM to intercede on their behalf.

Step one of the week is to purchase our food for each day. We are allotted $1.50 to cover all meals and liquids, excluding water. We can pool together our resources to make it through the week, and are very fortunate that, unlike 1.4 billion others around the world, we won’t have to factor in healthcare, sanitation, housing, and clothing. In the photo below, you will see the food that Heidi and I will share to make it through the week.

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Left: 10 packs of Ramen Noodles (Roast Chicken, Beef, Shrimp), 2-sticks of Salted Butter, 10 Biscuits, 1 Bag of Yellow Split Peas, 1 Bag of Lentils, 2 Bags of Long-grain Brown Rice, Multipack Flavored Oatmeal, Old-Fashioned Oats, Coffee, 2 Dozen Eggs, Bananas.

Purchasing food within our budget proved to be a eye-opening and humbling experience, the first of many this week. Our first step was to take a walk down the aisles and weigh out our options (something that within itself is not a possibility for many around the world); in addition, Bottom Dollar is also within a short distance to our house and it is readily available with food that was safe and packaged.

When planning ahead for our meals within such a strict budget we began to think of food in a completely different view than we would normally, looking at each item and asking “will this sustain us?”. In some instances we had to make compromises, putting taste and quality aside, such as the Ramen noodles. You can see in the photo below that on the nutrition scale they aren’t very high, but when they only cost $0.20 they have a little more value.

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We will spend this evening breaking down our foods into single portions to ensure that we don’t eat it all at once, something that I normally would never do, because it’s easy to take our next meal for granted. Only on nights when Heidi will be away for dinner do I ever question, “Where will my next meal come from?“, but this is a very real question that billions are faced with each and every day. When we added up all of our totals and reviewed all of our labels, we computed that we will consume roughly 1200 calories a day at $1.48 a day. Trying to think strategically about when we eat proteins versus carbs, I’m sure that the next 5 days will be a learning process.

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Hours away from Day 1 of our 5-day challenge, I am overcome with feelings of being richly blessed in our lives. Our basic needs are exceedingly covered daily and our lives are surrounded by comfort compared to others. As mentioned earlier in the week, we will be focusing on praying specifically for the people of Korah, a slum area of Addis Ababa.  Korah houses approximately 130,000 residents; many of whom live on less than $1.00 a day. While we were shopping in an air-conditioned food store, stressing more over how we could meet our budget than how we could have enough food to sustain ourselves for 5-days, a story like below is a sad reality for the people of Korah.

“We had just come from a woman’s house down the hill in Korah. She was house bound because she had lost her leg. She had stepped on something sharp in the dump while she was scavenging and didn’t have the money to get her foot treated for the wound. That foot wound infected her leg and eventually turned into gangrene. She became very ill and had to have her leg amputated as a result. It is maddening that such a simple thing like a cut foot ends up taking someone’s leg and ultimately, their livelihood. That would never happen here in America, yet it happens every day in Ethiopia. My friend Abbey, who is a nurse, was with me on this trip and EVERY wound she cared for was a foot wound. Every single one. You can’t imagine the types of plastic shoes that people walk through the dump in – they are completely unprotected. People contract HIV by stepping on needles that have been used to treat an infected person. People wear bloody clothes that they find in the dump from hospitals. They walk through all sorts of feces and bacteria. This garbage dump is so much more than a place that holds trash. It is a place where the people who come start to believe that they are the very garbage they are there to collect.” (Source: Children’s’ Hope Chest, The Garbage Dump…aka Hell on Earth)

Korah, Addis Ababa trash dump

Korah, Addis Ababa trash dump

Shoes referenced in the quote above.

Shoes referenced in the quote above.

How can you help?

Please join us tomorrow at 1:50 PM to lift the residents of Korah and the 1.4 billion people in the world who are struggling to meet their most basic needs. If you feel called, you can click on the Donate button below, or visit the blog, A Heart for Korah, an organization that provides direct aid to this area—you can find a link on our sidebar. If you donate below or through their site—please include “Live Below the Line” fundraiser in a message to seller. You can also email us for a physical address to mail a donation. Thank you in advance for all of your support.

 

Jun 20, 2013 - Below the Line    2 Comments

Below the Line

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What is the last thing that you spent $1.50 on this week. Was it the purchase of a cold soda? A download of the latest App? Or perhaps a frappuccino at the drive-thru. In America, it is very easy to spend $1.50 on small items of content or refreshment and not even think twice of such an insignificant amount, but to many in the world it is not so.

The statistics are quite shocking when you think about it: 1.4 Billion, that’s roughly 4x the population of the US, people in the world live in what is considered extreme poverty (Below the Line). Well what defines extreme poverty? It is defined as an individual that lives on less than $1.50 a day, in some countries $1.25 a day. This includes everything in that individuals daily walk such as, meals, healthcare, clothing, and housing. It is difficult for us to even wrap our mind around. When is the last time we had to decide whether we were going to eat a meal or visit the doctors to get a prescription. You can’t do both—so which is it? I can’t even fathom that. You? See when you live on $1.50 a day—there is no room for error. You simply can’t afford to get sick. You may have to put up with unfair trade practices and corruption, hope an illness will pass, skip a vaccination, or result to living on scraps from others just to make it until tomorrow. To further complicate the issue, many people in this situation lack one of life’s most basic needs—clean water. In fact, globally, 1 in 9 people don’t have access to clean drinking water. They may hike for hours to get a water source that is riddled with disease, and this is their only option. Statistics show that nearly 2 million children die annually from drinking unclean water, which equals roughly 6,000 children a day (UNICEF).

The Village of Korah—Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

For the 130,00 residents of the urban slum of Korah in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia this is a daily reality. What began as a leper community many years ago, is now a third-generation community that has  many other struggles including starvation, HIV/Aids, TB, and many other preventable diseases. Residents of Korah live in shelters built from recycled trash including items like scrap metal and blankets. Because they are considered outcast from their community, many people live on less than $1.00 a day and are forced to secure food from the local landfill as their only means of food. Below is a brief documentary based on this area and some of the struggles that they endure.

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12: 33,34

So what can be done for these people?

Step one must be prayer. I would ask that you would join Heidi and I as we pray this coming week for the residents of Korah and all of those who suffer from extreme poverty globally.

Step two is awareness. Poverty has existed forever, but often gets placed on a shelf and forgotten about in our busy lives. How easy it is for each of us to be comfortable in our lives and dismiss the billions of people that we share this planet with who are struggling daily, dying by the minute, often from preventable diseases and things that already have a solution, but require support and action. We recently watched a documentary from World Vision from the people of Rwanda. Did you know that for $50.00 you can provide a child clean drinking water for an entire year. A year! Clean water alone can reduce water-related deaths by 21%. If you look at that number I provided earlier of 6,000 children a day. That’s 1,260 children a day that would be living. I can’t begin to wrap my head around this.

Lastly, we can offer support, and that’s where Below the Line comes in.

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During the week of June 24th — June 28th Heidi and I will be participating in an effort called Below the Line, and were asking for your help.

During these 5-days we will limit ourselves to $1.50 worth of food per day, equaling $7.50 for the week. As I mentioned above, 1.4 billion people in the world must limit themselves to $1.50 to cover much more than just their food.  Below the Line created this challenge as an awareness campaign that anyone can participate in throughout the year. Through the website a number of organizations are available for support, each one offering different groups of people all over the world a variety of relief from global poverty, sex trafficking, education, to micro-loans.

We have chosen an organization outside of the website that we feel called to support that will directly provide relief to the people from Korah that I have mentioned above. We will be partnering with A Heart for Korah. This organization offers assistance in the form of medical supplies, housing relief, and family sponsorship. They have a blog where you can find out more information about their day-to-day efforts, or if you feel called partner with them for sponsorship of a family in need. They are currently holding a fundraiser that will provide hygiene and medical supplies to the area through a mission trip that will be traveling in August and will be adding as many as 15 additional sponsor families soon.

So how do you help?

We would ask first for your prayers during next week for the people of Korah and globally that suffer from extreme poverty. We would also request prayers for Heidi and I as we break from our traditional routine and seek to align our diet with what so many people have as their only option. I’m sure that it will be a challenge and a learning experience that will test our commitment and patience. Each day starting Sunday we will be praying at 1:50 pm. Would you join us?

To help support the people of Korah, we are also seeking to raise donations next week to provide to the organization of A Heart for Korah to use for their upcoming mission efforts and continued relief efforts. Would you prayerfully consider a donation? Even a donation as little as $10.00 could have a huge impact for the people of Korah. There are a number of ways to make a donation, the first would be by clicking on the donate button below. Make sure that you make a note that it is for the Below the Line fundraiser. You can also visit A Heart for Korah blog and donate directly through their website. I would ask that you would make the same notation that it is for the Below the Line fundraiser. If you do not have a PayPal account, please feel free to email us and we will provide you our address to send a check. We thank you in advance for any prayers or donations you feel called to offer.

 

 

Donate directly through A Heart for Korah Bloghttp://aheartforkorah.blogspot.com/

Lastly, check back throughout the week on our blog as we will providing updates and details of how we are progressing through the week as well as offering some additional information on global poverty and what people are doing to help advocate for others and find simple solutions to offer relief to the billions of people around the world.

If you have made it this far down to the blog post—I thank you from the bottom of my heart. We look forward to seeing what amazing things God has planned for us and the people of Korah next week.

Dec 3, 2012 - Our Story    No Comments

30 days

Last month, our church hosted a Youth Conference, entitled “Who Do You Think You Are?”Heidi and I had the privilege of being on the planning committee. The three-day event focused on showing teens their true identity in Christ, compared to what they are consistently bombarded with on a daily basis from the media. It featured two key speakers and over 100 volunteers that helped throughout the weekend. Each night included worship music and small group sessions, with a Saturday evening that included a bonfire, basketball tournament, movie, and lots more. Sunday evening featured a family-night worship experience for parents and children of all ages.

In the planning stages of the youth conference I was looking for unique ideas that could be shared during the Sunday evening family service that would be enjoyed by people of all ages, when I stumbled on a great idea on YouTube called “splat art”. Splat art is a performance art that uses brushes or a performer’s hands to paint a picture on a canvas in a 5-10 minute time frame, usually accompanied by music or narration. I saw this done previously and it was absolutely breathtaking. I thought, what a great idea, this is perfect! After I looked at several examples I found one that really stuck out to me and I suggested to the committee the following week that we include it. When asked, “who we could get to do the performance?”, I said nervously “me”. I had thought to myself prior to the meeting, I think I can do this. I had prayed about it previously and felt a reassurance that I should do this, so I decided that, with enough time to practice, I might just be able to pull this off.

Excitedly I went out to the store the very next day and purchased several small canvases to practice on a a few tubes of paint. The first step in the performance would be to memorize the beginning script of 30 words that are narrated to describe the many beautiful aspects of our Savior. I sat in the parking lot of a UPS store on the day we needed to renew our fingerprints for USCIS and ran through each of the words, sketching them out in order on a sheet of paper as I waited for Heidi to meet me on her way home from work. As we ate dinner that evening I sketched them out on a napkin and got about 80% of them correct. I practiced each day over the next week writing the words as I read the script until I had them memorized. The next part would prove to be the most rewarding, while most challenging part of the process. For the splat art performance, after writing the 30 words in the shape of Jesus face, I would need to use only my hands and 3 colors (orange, yellow, & white) to paint a portrait of Jesus that would measure 4 foot x 6 foot. During the service, I would have approximately 8 to 10 minutes to complete the painting, including the 30 words.

The first evening I painted my test canvases black and grabbed a stick of white chalk to write down the words. As I waited for the black paint to dry, I said a small prayer that God would allow me to be patient in learning this painting—realizing that it wouldn’t be an overnight process. I prayed that He would allow others to see His glory through me and that He would reveal Himself to me over the next 30 days. I poured out some paint on a plastic plate and begin to paint, looking at the screen shot that I had from the YouTube video I previously found. I got a majority of the words correct, but had difficulty in getting the painting portion down.

First painting of Jesus

I would go downstairs the following evening to try again. Once again beginning with a prayer and using the time as a true worship experience. I played several praise & worship songs from my iPod and used the time to truly focus on not just painting, but the subject I was trying to glorify.

Second painting of Jesus

Third painting of Jesus

I found that as I kept practicing each day, it was a different experience every time. Each day was led with prayer and was an opportunity for me to spend time during my day just focusing on what Jesus really meant to me.

Sixth day of painting

After several days of painting on smaller canvases, I realized that if I was going to learn this properly, I would need to move to a larger full-sized canvas and start working on the timing of narration and the music. I took a trip to Home Depot to pick up a canvas drop-cloth, some Gesso, and some staples and knew just where I could setup a make-shift studio. I spent the evening picking out songs and settled on a song that our youth often sing during the Wednesday night worship service entitled “Inside Out” by Hillsong. I found a live version on YouTube that I thought would be perfect for the performance as it allowed me a little extra time to complete the painting than the original song used in the original splat art performance I had found.

The next morning I went downstairs before work and pulled up on my iPod the original performance I had found on YouTube. I began to write the words in unison with he narration and switched over to the Hillsong video for the painting portion. That morning was the most impactful yet. Although I wasn’t overjoyed with how the painting turned out, I was pleased that I had completed my first full-size painting of Jesus.

First full-size painting of Jesus

I had now moved on from smaller canvases, so each evening when I came home from work I would need to paint over that mornings painting to make room for a new one. The first time I did this I felt like I was a terrible person. How could I have just painted the face of Jesus? The next morning I woke up early to try again.

Second full-size painting of Jesus

Third full-size painting of Jesus

Fourth full-size painting of Jesus

By the fourth day, I was beginning to feel comfortable with the medium, but quickly realizing that it would be impossible for me to match the speed of the narration on the YouTube video. Each morning’s prayer and painting revealed a face of Jesus to me that was just perfect. It was the perfect way to start my day and allowed me to begin my mornings focused on Christ. What a rewarding experience and surreal chance to worship God each morning.

Final painting before performance

In the days leading up to the conference, I built a custom canvas that was stretched on a frame with a stand that could support it on stage. Focused on getting the narration and song timing down, and spent lots of mornings stepping back from a canvas with chills as the song and entire experience of seeing Jesus’ face come to life, to became a truly moving experience.

The night of the performance I was a complete nervous wreck. I prayed with Heidi before leaving for the church that God would speak through me that evening and that His name would be gloried through it. I hoped that He would use this opportunity to speak to those in the crowd that were seeking Him. To those who have accepted Christ into the hearts previously, I hoped that it would provide them an opportunity—as it did me each morning—to worship Jesus like never before. Its odd to explain, as I know that it’s just a painting and it’s not actually Jesus standing before me, but I felt like I was in his presence many days and I hoped that others would share in that experience.

I sat on the front row, nervous, palms sweating and saying one last prayer that Jesus would guide me through this painting just as he had each day leading up the conference. Amazingly, as the moment drew close I felt a peace come over me and a reassurance that “He’s got this one, just like He had the last one”. The lighting dimmed, the crowd silenced, and I rose to my feet to walk towards the canvas.

 

Wow! I walked off stage with the largest smile on my face and a sense of accomplishment. I heard the applause as I stood in a dark hallway behind stage and said a quick prayer to thank God for leading me through the performance. I had managed to make it all the way through without messing any of the words up in the narration and smearing any paint where it shouldn’t be.

Click below to see the video from that evening

Who Do You Think You Are? Splat Art Performance

I learned in the 30 days leading up to the performance to trust in God and be patient with His plan. Something He has been working on teaching me for the last several years through our journey. I have received such positive feedback from those who viewed the performance that evening and look forward to finding other ways to offer creative worship to our church for special services. I also found a strengthened relationship with Him through my morning worship time and a renewed passion to take time to each day to focus on worshiping the God who has blessed me beyond belief in my life.

Thanks goes out to those on the committee who trusted and encouraged me through the process of learning this painting, to my wife who helped encourage me each day and provide me creative advice, to those who helped make this possible through transporting my canvas, video projecting  my performance, and providing amazing voice over narration. What an awesome experience to take part in and I pray for those who may have been encouraged to try new things, and to trust in the Lord.

 

 

 

Dec 1, 2012 - Other    No Comments

Slow Down!

Each morning I hop in my car and drive to work from Pennsylvania to New Jersey along the I-78 corridor. For those that travel this same route, you know that recently there has been a construction setup that knocks 3 lanes down to 2 lanes, causing traffic jams in the evening while they are working. During the morning commute several workers are present, but the great majority are gone with all 3 lanes open and clear for driving. At the beginning entrance to the construction area flashes a giant lit sign that reads, “55 MPH, Slow Down”, “57 MPH Slow Down”, “56 MPH Slow Down”. Its purpose is to alert drivers that they are exceeding the 45 MPH speed limit of the construction zone.

Each morning, along with 1,000′s of other motorists, I breeze by the sign at an easy 65+ MPH, blending in with traffic and breaking the law. Why do I not slow down?! The sign is giving me a heads up that dangerous road conditions are ahead, that people are working in the area, traffic patterns may be changing. I suppose I do not slow down because most mornings I’m blended in with the crowd of cars surrounding me. Some mornings, I’m running behind schedule and slowing down would be too inconvenient for me—I’ve got places to be. While other mornings, I think it might be dangerous for me to drive 45 mph, because everyone else is going 90! I risk getting hit myself or sticking out from the crowd, being “that guy”.

Friday morning during my commute, I got a little help in slowing down while proceeding through the road work area. Shortly after breezing by that sign, there he was. A state trooper with his lights on, nestled in between several of the road cones where there were workers on the side of the road jack hammering up part of the macadam. This is the exact thought that went through my head, and inspired this post. “Mannnnn, why you got to make it so difficult for us. We all knows it’s a construction zone, there’s a large flashing sign to tell us. You can’t expect me to actually go 55 MPH, right?“. Well luckily for me, even though I was doing 62 at the time, there were people on either side of me going much faster and the officer didn’t even budge. After I pumped my breaks and proceeded to slow down until the end of the construction zone, I took the next few minutes of my commute to think about this.

I wonder if sometimes we treat God like a State Trooper in a construction zone? The officer in that car is there for a purpose. He’s there to keep others safe and to make sure that the law is fulfilled. When becoming a state trooper, he is sworn under the creed to protect and to serve. Here I am, driving 65 mph, thinking he’s cramping my style. I think about the laws that God provides, and sometimes they aren’t easy to keep either.

If we keep God’s commandments, while others around us are breaking them, it’s human to be concerned that others will think you’re “that guy”. The Word says to not worry about the world’s opinion: “If you were of the world, the world would love ⌊you as⌋ its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. ” James 15:19.

It is also human to think that if you follow God’s laws that you’ll be missing out on something, but Jesus says otherwise, “15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For everything that belongs to the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle — is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” 1 John 2:15-17.

I consider the laws that God provides and his commandments to be just like that flashing construction sign. It is there to provide direction to safety for motorist and to keep the workers and other drivers in the area protected. God’s laws shouldn’t be viewed as limiting us from life, but instead providing us the true meaning of life. Just like that sign, God’s Word provides a specific look at who we are and what were doing in our life. It provides guidance to get us through life safe to our final destination. “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105. Keeping His Word will not always be the popular thing to do. It will sometimes appear that you should go your own speed and ignore the flashing sign, but one day during your normal routine, you may see Him—Heaven’s State Trooper—He was there all along, trying to keep you safe, trying to protect you. You knew you should be keeping His laws, but you choose to go your own speed. Only this time He may not simply let you pass Him by, that day He may be handing out tickets. “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” Matthew 12:36. I hope that I can keep this in mind the next time I pass that sign and the next time that I feel torn between what the world says, and what God says. That He’s not there to cramp my style; it’s out of love that he’s there to protect.

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