I remember as I walked through the compounds of Grand Goave’s Lifeline Christian Mission, I walked past a small little boy who was eating a simple rice and bean meal provided to him by Lifeline’s school. The meal was watered down in efforts to increase the portion size and fill the belly. The boy was sitting on a half-wall next to his friend, donning the Lifeline uniform and playfully giggling with his friend as they shared lunchtime together. In a world of instability and poverty, this lunchtime meal was something reliable. Many kids on campus receive the same meal and portion size but purposely only eat part of the meal so that they can take back the rest of the food to their families. Food is scarce; it’s not always guaranteed. Hunger is the constant, the reliable, the feeling and misfortune they are accustomed to.
The innocence and playfulness of the sweet little boy caught my attention. As I began to pass him in my stroll, I bantered making a “Mmmm” sound, pretending I was eating with him. Without hesitation, the little boy stuck out his spoon, offering me a bite of his only meal. My heart simultaneously overflowed and broke as I realized the pure generosity and trust this boy offered to me, a mere passerby. He was wiling to share his meal with me, a stranger, a well-fed American. I will never forget the beauty and weight of sacredness in that moment. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8.
I struggle to share my fries or a split half a decadent slice of chocolate cake. I can’t imagine sharing the only meal I had for the day especially with a stranger. That boy pointed me towards the heart of Christ because he modeled Jesus to me—he gave without hesitation, he loved without cause. It was a challenge to my own heart. “Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:2 (MSG)
Haiti has had a very challenging year, yet much of this remains out of the news. Millions of dollars worth of petro funds have been “lost” by the government which has created a tremendous fuel shortage. Riots, violence, and killings have ensued as the Opposition (Haitian civilians taking a stand) are seeking to get the government’s attention and ultimately overthrow the current president who they believe is responsible for the lost money. Because of this, streets have been full of violent blockades and inflation has spiked. It has made it very challenging for the Haitian children at Lifeline to get their steady source of food, since the schools have been on hiatus due to the violence. Additionally, since there is such a fuel crisis hospital/clinics, the Children’s Home and the Lifeline compound have very limited fuel to run the generators that provide electricity and running water to these facilities.
This is where Lifeline needs your help. First, please pray for Haiti—for the unrest to stop and for peaceful positive change. There is a long oppressive history between the government and the people. The people are desperately crying out for change even at the cost of their own lives. Please pray for salvation of souls and the protection of the children. Secondly, join the Let it Shine Initiative this Christmas. “If the campuses at Grand-Goâve and Port-au-Prince had solar panels, they would not be relying on fuel for power. The solar panels would provide power for the water pump, the administration offices, the clinic, the children’s home, and the mission houses. Installing the solar panels would also employ local Haitians, as we aim to get as many pieces sourced from Haiti as possible.” 1. Notify your work, create an awareness group, gather your coworkers, show your church…if we could get 18 groups to donate $1000, then we would exceed our goal and play a part of bringing peace to the chaos in Haiti. Please share this with others. If you personally would like to contribute visit:
If you need more help or information on how to bring the initiative to your church, please contact me at Rebecca.Mills@Lifeline.org.
I feel the weight of the Creator as I inhale deeply. Something is brewing. The immense beauty of this place, this moment, His creation. “What is it Lord?” I ask. “Is there something you want to tell me? Although I know you don’t have to. I don’t deserve it. Oh but if you are willing, give me ears to hear.”
I look out across the expanse of rich beauty–the lavish luster of the limitless lake. The sun is setting, cascading rays on the glistening ripples. The backdrop of the lake—crimson mixed with pines, in mountainous form revealing an underskirt of clay rock. The tiny sparrow flies by. The whip of the fishing rod hisses to kiss the lake’s crest as the ants busy themselves underneath my picnic table retreat. I look up to see the mighty oak planted firmly in the water. It’s decades, maybe over 100 years old, sheltering this alcove—straight, tall in righteous rebuke. Too much beauty to take in. My heart is filled, content—this is life.
“Oh so filling, Lord” my soul bursts out. A sparrow lands on the patch of leafy lake debris, perching so picturesque; completely oblivious to the majesty and wonder it carries. It tilts it’s head and my heart’s mind can’t help but overflow. Oh the serenity of it all. My heart cannot contain it all. Something in this place captivates me. “What is it Father? Oh please share if you are willing. Even if I don’t like the answer?”
The still, soft Voice:
“Do it for Me, Child. Do it for Me.”
That is what it is all about it. “Do it all as unto the Lord” Colossians 3:23. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked” Psalm 1:1-6. My delight must first and foremost and always be in the Lord. My delight is in His law and on it let me meditate, because then I will grow where I am planted and not wither away. It is from God that comes my strength, my endurance, my approval. He is what it is all about. Oh “taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8. Take in His Splendor. Create for Him. Abide in him. Run the race marked out before you, arms back, heart abandoned…don’t look left, don’t look right…look straight at the Creator.
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Let me tell you about our Great God…
There ain’t no mountain He cannot reach
There ain’t no valley that is too deep
Ohh let me tell you about our Great God…
When I was worried, He gave me strength
When I was tired He walked my length
When I was hurtin’, He healed my pain
When I was lonely, He did sustain
Ohhh let me tell you about our Great God, I said… let me tell you about our Great God…
You feelin’ dirty, He’ll make you clean
There ain’t no person He can’t redeem
You feelin’ hungry and need some rest?
You feeling empty? Don’t be hard-pressed
You lost and hungry? He’ll fill your cup
You scared and tired, He’ll hold you up
Ohhhh let me tell you about our Great God…
There ain’t no other who can compare
He has no limits, He’s everywhere
You need an answer, just call His name
He’ll come a’ running like a winning game
Oh would someone, someone, let me tell you about our Great God?…I can’t get enough…I said, I can’t get enough…
He’ll hold you tight, He’ll stay real close
More than a brother, He knows you most
Don’t miss His call, His lovin’ hand
You’ll miss the best, the Great I AM
He’s better than a diamond ring
The most amazin’, life can bring
Don’t believe me? Just stay awhile
Just give your heart, you’ll start to smile
It’s not too late to say you’re sorry Come to Jesus, join Heaven’s party.
And that’s the end to this short story
You ain’t seen nothin’ ’til you’ve seen glory.
Hallelujah… ohhh Hallelujah, can I get Amen? I can’t hear you! I said, Can I get an Amen???
When I think about how much you have done to pursue me, pursue us- this broken, defiled, beautiful human race- when I think about how you felt so much anguish that you sweated drops of blood, when I think how your name was drug through the mud and how people abused you and still mock you, when I think about how little time we give to you and how much time we give to ourselves, when I think about how much I still don’t grasp how much you sacrificed out of love me, I want to fall to my face and and kiss your feet. You are incredible. You are a loving and gracious God that feels our sorrow and enters our pain…all for the sake of love. You are so very good. I am a such a sinful person, I am so sorry. Thank you so much for all you’ve done and all you keep doing. You are “awe”-some.
May my heart never forget the depth of your love. Remind me when I am cold. Be my portion and my shield. Let me not forget all you gave, just so you could be with me.
I love you, my Savior, Amen!
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
“It’s weird, but when you write, or maybe anytime you create something, you want there to be a purpose. You want there to be an answer to something. Whether it’s an answer to the callings and yearnings of others or a tool used by God to bring finality to a question—you want it to have a point. …We’re pragmatic. We want there to be a reason behind the experience and a purpose for all the work….” But perhaps, maybe, “the purpose of creating is not to receive applause but rather to enjoy the gift of acting out one’s God-bearing image.”
“Sergei Rachmaninoff has written some of the most brilliant and masterful classical music ever performed. Its wonder and technique is vast in its challenge and unrivaled in its beauty. I once read an article about him that explained the history behind his Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18 masterpiece. When Rachmaninoff attended the premiere of his work, First Symphony in March 1897, he arrived at the concert hall only to find the conductor drunk and the performance a near-wreck. Cesar Cui, a prominent critic at that time, said,
If there were a conservatory in Hell, and if one of its talented students were to compose a programme symphony based on the story of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, and if he were to compose a symphony like Mr. Rachmaninov’s, then he would have fulfilled his task brilliantly and would delight Hell’s inhabitants.1
The whole event caused Rachmaninoff to enter into a deep depression that lasted more than three years. The depression was so severe that he nearly ended all efforts to continue any further compositions. Finally, his family got involved and forced him to see a psychiatrist who was known to cure depression through hypnosis. The doctor made Rachmaninoff repeat over and over again in his hypnotic trance, “You will begin to write a concerto…you will work with great facility…the concerto will be of excellent quality.”2 After three months, Rachmaninoff began to wake up to the inspiration that had lain dormant in him for so many years, and he began to create his magnum opus, Concert No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18. As I read this article by the dimly lit stage and house lights prior to hearing the orchestra execute its magnificence, I was naturally surprised. An accomplished, talented man whose compositions have been performed countless times for over a century had almost been shot down. Such splendor would forever have been withheld from millions of ears and—even worse—such purpose would have forever stayed trapped within a man destined to create.” Excerpt from RAW Inner Workings of a Reawakened Soul, Author’s Note pages iii-vi
I believe each of us has our own form of creativity. After all, we are made in the image of the Creator. We bear this God-given gift to be creative in our own right—tailored to the way He has made us. It’s easy to think of painting, crafting, drawing, singing, writing…etc. when we banter about “art,” which can be really off-putting for the left-brained dominate folks who may not really get much out of art and may even find it senseless. But thank God, the thread of creativity He has woven in each of us is not confined to our understanding of art. Creativity comes in all shapes and sizes—wood working, craftsmanship, new recipes, throwing a good party, making a house function, organizing a small space to it’s biggest potential, figuring out ways to motivate people to exercise, finding ways to save money, jury-rigging something broken into something functional, crafting a sentence that communicates professionally an essential key point…..these are all forms of creativity. Creativity is so limitless, just like the God it reflects.
Taking time to be creative can often feel wasteful and inefficient. It may involve troubleshooting, thinking outside the box, and extra mental space. But creativity is one of the many reflections of the glory and honor God placed on mankind setting man apart from animal. “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5. I’m not even sure if angels are privy to this type of autonomy and freedom of creative display. What a gift we have to be able to execute our personal expressions!
Take time today to “waste” in creativity. Invite God in, no matter how small the creative initiative is. When you acknowledge your creativity is an extension of your Creator Father, you have begun to worship in the midst of the mundane, in the midst of the troubleshooting…in the midst of just simply living life. May you enjoy being an image bearer of the Creator God in your own right, living out the gifts He has uniquely given you.
I am so grateful for this year. I think 2018 has been one of my favorite years, and I cannot thank God enough for the blessings He poured out. “Dreams fulfilled” sums up many moments of this year— to God be the all the glory! I know that many of you had quite the opposite experience, and I am well aware that most years are often not terrific, so I want to take this time to breathe in the goodness. I know hardship can hit at any moment, and I honestly do fear that, but I want to enter 2019 with gratefulness and praise to God who poured out His mercy and kindness more than I deserve. God is still good even in pain and loss, but it is human nature to see it more clearly during the good times. I must confess, I struggle to see in the bad times. So before the rain, before the sorrow, before the next blunt shock of loss, or the devastation of heartache, I am praising Him for the reprieve, a season of joy, a million gifts of blessing, and the moments when I realized, He has given me “more than I could ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). To those of you who have had a tough 2018, I pray God sums up 2019 with these three words: redemption, healing, and restoration. Life is fragile and Satan schemes, so may I wear the garment of praise so that I will not forget His faithfulness when the scary shadows of darkness role in.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
Deuteronomy 6:5-12 NIV
For all of those who are hurting this holiday season and feel a little less like decking the halls and more like you’re in your own silent night, my heart goes out to you. This week I’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories of many who have lost their loved ones…moms, dads, grandparents… around Christmas. As the world seems to spin merrily on high, some are hunkered down, wrestling with old memories of painful deaths, or new grief of fresh losses. Story after story I’ve heard this week from coworkers, friends, and patients, how Christmas rushes in with not only a whirlwind of preparation but a whirlwind of sadness fraught with the attempts to put the past behind.
As I sat listening to these stories one after another I was struck with 4 things that I reflected to God:
1.) Thank you, Lord, for my beautiful, simple life.
2.) I know life won’t always be this way– next year or 20 years from now it could be me grappling with the loss of a loved one at Christmas–so be grateful for the gift of peace, family, time together, laughter, and the rich goodness that surrounds you at this moment in time.
3.) Lord, I repent for complaining about so many things of such less importance when I have been blessed beyond measure.
4.) Oh Lord God, Christ incarnate, be near to those who are hurting.
It is at times like these that our hearts yearn for the gift of the incarnation. Jesus, Emmanuel…come. God be with us, now, in these moments, when Christmas feels heavy and pain has stolen all holiday cheer. John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The gift of the incarnation is when the Son of God left Heaven to hurt, to feel, to love, to dwell, to hold, to embrace, to save and to make New a hurting, broken world…this was the joy brought forth on the very first Christmas over 2000 years ago- the joy that collided with the sorrow.
I wonder as Mary held her baby boy, as she grappled with becoming a mother in the most unnatural of means, as she was exiled from home and learning her new husband… did she have sorrow? Did she know that this Divine moment would bring unmatched sorrow 33 years later when her baby would die for a world that hated Him? Did she know that He was the joy and the answer to all those who confront sorrow and loss? The Word, the Cosmos…God, became flesh. Heaven had entered heartache. God indwelled creation. Flesh on flesh, heart to heart– oh Holy night.
Psalms 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I am thankful for a God who cares and who actually cared so much He couldn’t leave a hurting world, alone. He needed to physically enter in… to hold, to rescue, to wipe tears, to heal, to love on the sick, to conquer death and provide a way to resurrection.
To all those who mourn this Christmas or mourn the loss from a Christmas long ago, may the Incarnate Christ hold your heart and whisper peace over your sorrow.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”