Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

For a little background information, I got back to the states from Africa a week ago today. A few days ago I read a verse from Nehemiah and was like Whoa, I totally need to be studying this. So, I have been reading through Nehemiah and learning so much about his faith and also reading these small devotionals that were given to us by Visiting Orphans to read during and after our trip called Experience and Reflect. To be honest I didn't really read much of Experience while I was there so that is why I am reading it now, but God totally wanted me to read it now.

The first thing I wanted to share was this quote, pg. 75 for my team who has them :). It says, "When we learn to see people with God's eyes, we see past the situations and see the souls God has created. We see people that God sent his Son to die for. We see people that have value and worth, people worthy to be served no matter what their outsides look like. We see what God sees."

Ok, so now I'm going to get a little deep, well maybe a lot deep. Fair warning this will probably be long. :)

This section, by Wade Landers, starts on page 41 with a checklist of possessions. Halfway through you begin to start feeling sick because you know where he is going with this. If you check off the majority of the list (if you are sitting at a computer right now then I'm sure you could too), then "you are one of the richest families in the world." He asks, "what are we doing with all our stuff?" Well good question Wade, you made me cry. Luke 12:15 are words from Jesus, "a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Here are some estimated statistics that he shared, "about three billion people live on less than two dollars per day; up to a billion people worldwide live in the slums; approximately thirty thousand children die every day from hunger and poverty-related diseases; and sadly, Americans spend over a hundred billion dollars annually on fast food!" I'm pretty sure those statistics probably have you feeling pretty disgusting because they sure did/do to me. I was reading that last night feeling a little hungry (not for long) and I sit here writing this eating a hot breakfast. Probably just last week I spent some time fretting over money. Well I definitely had more than $2 while I was worrying. Have I eaten fast food this week, surely. 

The passage then led me to read Luke 12:13-21, 32-34 but I suggest just go ahead and read Luke 12:13-34.  It is The Parable of the Rich Fool (AKA the rich American) and then Jesus commands his disciples (and us) "do not worry." "O you of little faith!" Jesus says to us. I think about that verse often. How do I continually have such little faith in the God of the universe and in our Savior who died for us? It was even harder reading that passage after experiencing such extreme poverty, seeing God totally provide for people with very little to nothing but the clothes on their backs and I worry daily about clothes, my car, jobs, money, my future...the list goes on.  Why? My Father was PLEASED to give me the kingdom! (Luke 12:32)

Reading the remainder of that section I could no longer hold back my tears from the conviction I felt. Laying in my big, comfy bed I got up to get a tissue. I look around. Stuff everywhere! (Now don't get me wrong, my room isn't a mess.) I have so much stuff moved into my apartment (not including the stuff at my parents house) that I am running out of clutter free places to put things.  I frequently complain about size of my room. Complaining that it is too small and looking forward to my own apartment or house with more room to put, you got it, stuff. I literally thought about that yesterday! The room I am sitting in is two times bigger than the whole house of the woman we visited in Korah and probably a large majority of people in third world countries. Now don't start to take this the wrong way. I am incredibly thankful for everything that I have been blessed with but I am clearly not obeying commands from Jesus himself! Luke 12:22-34. Verse 23 says, "Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes." If seeing what I saw did not show me that then I am blind! Verse 29-31, "And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." I think it is safe to say that many of us, including myself, do this in the opposite order. We first seek stuff and then squeeze in time to seek God and his kingdom. 

Many people wonder, why is it that we are so blessed and have so much when there are billions of people with nothing? I strongly agree with what K.P. Yohannan writes about in his book, Revolution in World Missions. It isn't a sin or a bad thing to have everything we have.  It is how we use it. I have no clue why God choses us to have so much but I do believe that we have it in order to bless others with what we have and ultimately pointing them towards Christ. As I am writing this I was going to include the following quote so I Googled it to see who wrote DUH! Right here in Luke 12 written by JESUS! Luke 12:48, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." That is, in my opinion, the problem with many Americans, including myself. We have been given so much but do so little with what we have. So much of the stuff I have in bins crammed everywhere are clothes I still have for "when I get high school skinny again" (ha! jokes on me) or things that I "may use again for __(fill in the blank)__." I just thought about this last night but maybe I can have a yard sale or something and use the money to send me back to Africa. Ebay would never work, I would lose too much money... Just a thought. (Please let me know if you have any ideas.) 

One suggestion at the end of that section was to fast once a week. I can't even think about the word fasting without immediately thinking of the word, impossible. Then I remember Moses (with 60 Feet, the children's prisons) telling us how after the second day with nothing it feels like your blood is boiling. And need not I mention Somalia because I'm sure you have seen some pictures. The devastating fact is that children are starving everywhere all of the time regardless of peace or war. The Lord asks me to fast and I can't go like four hours without getting hungry and thinking about food, or giving in, when all around the world men, women, children, babies starve. 

Wow, God has really been speaking to me! The readings I "chose" (God totally planned it) spoke straight to me. 

Feeling very convicted.  Lord, I pray this is not a temporary feeling but that you would use me and everyone who this has reached in convicting us to serve you with all of our hearts. Help us to trust you wholeheartedly with every aspect of our lives and to worry no more. Thank you for everything you have blessed us with. Thank you Jesus for loving us so much and thank you Father for loving us so much regardless of our greed and sinfulness that you would continue to pour out your blessings on us and that you sent your Son so that we could one day live with you in your perfect kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

Please let me know if you want to find out more about any of the organizations you can help or want to talk with me.