Sunday, December 5, 2010

Eric Ludy - Depraved Indifference

WE, are the body of Christ. But are we working for Him and doing what He calls us to do?

Friday, December 3, 2010

A 25¢ Gift

What can you buy with a 25¢?
My Facebook friends said:
2 gum balls from Walmart,
5 minute parking in a SF city,
an iTune,
25 rides on the horse at Meijer.
In Malaysia, a 25¢ will be close to 1 Ringgit Malaysia.
You can buy either:
1 and 1/2 hour of parking,
10 pieces of candies,
1 package of nasi lemak,
1 cup of black coffee from a traditional Malaysian coffee house,
4 pieces of fried bananas.
In Hong Kong, it will be a tram ride fee for a senior or a child.
Not much huh, this 25 ¢.  We can buy little with it, and those we can buy are either small pleasures, or small conveniences.
But what if I tell you, 25¢ can buy a gift.  Not only it can buy a gift, but it will be a life changing gift.

It can buy hope.

Yes, it can buy hope for the least of these.

Photo copyright of Amazima.

I asked someone from Amazima, how much it will cost to provide a meal for the people they care for in Uganda.
Gwen replied me saying, a healthy meal of rice and beans costs about a quarter.  Yes, a quarter, my friends, it only costs about 25 ¢ to feed a meal to these people.  Nothing fancy, just rice and beans.  But it fill their stomaches.  It gives them nutrients.  It helps to sustain their lives.
It gives them hope.

25¢!!  My beloved, can you possibly understand this??!!
A 25¢ cannot change a world, but a 25¢ can change the whole world for one of these people!
A couple more can change a couple more people's worlds!

What do we do with our 25 ¢?
What do we do with a couple more 25¢?
How many 25¢ there is in a cup of Starbuck?
In a nice meal we eat out in restaurant?
In a book?
In a movie?
In an Ipad?
Most of us spend it all for pleasures, don't we?  Most of us spend it all for things, while there are lives wasted away each day, when these money could have been helping them to live.

I'm sorry if this has put a dampen on your Christmas spirit.  But my beloved, what is the Christmas spirit?
Is caring and loving not the true Christmas spirit?
What are we giving this Christmas, my beloved?  To whom are we giving this Christmas?
Are we giving more gifts to ourselves? To our children?  Are we buying more things, giving more toys?
Have we forgotten, Christ, sacrificed His deity for us?  He sacrificed His life for us?  He sacrificed His relationship with God the Father for us while He was on the cross?
He sacrificed, my beloved.

Yet what are we bringing Him each Christmas?
A few of Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes?  Some unwanted and old toys donated?
I'm not saying these are unworthy or wrong, it is only wrong if that is all we give when we can afford to give more.
And most of us can afford to give more.  Take a look at our life style.
But we sit in our comfort, and bring those "offering" to Him. We cast them down at His feet, and said, there, I have given, I have cared, I have done what you called me to do.
I'm not asking us to sacrifice for Him, for what possible can we "sacrifice" for God?  Anything we do, in comparison to what He did for us, comes not even close to be considered as "sacrifice" .
We can only give, and give up.

What are you willing to give up this Christmas for His sake?
I am not asking you to give up everything, sell everything, move to another country to care for these people.  Only God can call someone to do that.  And if He did call you to do that, I pray that you will be as courageous and faithful as young Katie, and you will go like her.
All I am asking, is for us to give up part of our comfort.
What will you give up for the King?
A haircut this month?
Your pedicure or manicure?
A Christmas dress or shoes for your daughter?
New make-up?
Your Satrbuck?
A Christmas tree?
Some gifts off your children's Christmas wish list?
The gadget you have been waiting all year to get it?
A magazine?
A computer game?
A necklace?
A movie?
A few of the Christmas decorations?
A pet toy?

When God started to convict me of not caring and loving enough, I stop buying things and spending for my own pleasure.  I cannot do it anymore.  Yes, this thing is really cheap and it might come in useful someday, or I might enjoy it, but how many people will it feed? Zero.  How many lives will your new phone/computer/gadget/T.V save?  Zero! What good will that pretty bow on my child does to a child who is dying of extreme hunger?  Nothing!
According to Holt International, there are 18,000 children dying every day for lack of the very basics.
Katie wrote on her blog, 30,000 children will die today because of hunger or preventable disease.
When are we going to stop throwing money away in investing them in material things, and start pouring money into lives?
When I see people keep buying, and I heard churches spending a few thousands on their church wall mural or in "upgrading" their churches' building/equipments, my heart raged and grieved.  Think of how many lives these money could have save.  How does God feel when He sees what we are doing?  We can keep ourselves looking attractive and good, our homes nicely decorated, our churches growing larger or having all the latest technologies, but if we fail to love and care, we are only but a whitewashed tomb, my beloved! Beautiful outside but dead inside!

Proverbs 24:12 says,"If you say,"But we knew nothing about this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?  Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?" A quote from the recent Holt International newsletter explains this scripture well. "Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible for act."
When I am holding my sweet babies in my arms, kissing them on their warm pudgy cheeks, watching the sparkles in their eyes when they laugh, I can't help but see those children who have sunken cheeks, they have no lights in their eyes, bones protruding under their skin.  It broke my heart.  My children have known nothing but love, but those children know nothing but hunger, despair, fear, and death.  I can't turn away from my children, I can't turn away from those children neither.  For do they not all belong to God?  Does God love them one more than the other?

So, I am asking you this Christmas, what are you willing to start giving up?  Will you write it down and put it somewhere you can see daily to remind yourself?  Will you dedicate that to the Lord?  Will you pray over it?  Will you set the money aside and give it to the people who need them?  Will you teach your children to do the same?
If you are not a believer, will you not give to help the least of these people too?  Do you have no conscience? Do you have no feelings? Will you not hope some day if you or your children are in the same position, someone, someone will reach out to them to love them, to help them?
My young friends, if you are reading this, you have no excuse neither.  You might not have the resource, but do you not have time? Do you not have strength?  Will you stop playing games or using your computer or reading comic and go and give your love and strength?  You can volunteer in a local hospital, children shelter, or doing work for someone who is sick.  You can raise fund, you can start being responsible of your finance. You can raise awareness.  You can be the influence.
For those who really can't afford to give, will you not pray?  In fact, we all need to do so.  We need to pray more for these people, and less for ourselves.
We shall pray, we shall be the voices, WE SHALL ACT.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Heart of Thanksgiving

I sat at the Thanksgiving table this year with a heavy heart.
The Lord has blessed us beyond measurement, and my heart is overflow with thanksgiving and gratefulness.  But in my thanksgiving, I was reminded, the mail I received early November, from a local shelter asking for donation to feed the hungry’s on the day itself.  The mail I stashed away with others, with the intention of I would get to it to write a check and mail it out.  The mail that was lay forgotten among the stash.  I was reminded, on the day itself, I have forgotten, not the mail, but the hungry ones.  I am convicted, on the day itself, I have forgotten about the hungry and needy people out there, while I sat down to enjoy the abundant warm meal with my beloved family, these people, some without home, are looking for a shelter to shield them from the cold, are looking for a warm meal to fill their stomach.

I was convicted.

For you see, I know.  I know the fear of being hungry.  No, I do not know hunger itself, but I know the fear of not having something to eat for the next meal, or more accurately, the fear of not having my need met.  The fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
I came from a poor family.  My parents worked very hard to provide for us, a family of six.  My father was often gone out of state or out of country, for the work that paid more than the little wages he could earn in the little village we lived in.  My mother was not only a mother, loving and caring for us, she was also our ever absent father, she was also the cook, a nanny for others' children, a seamstress working from home,  and a woman who did all kind of odd and ends at home to help make ends meet.  But I knew no hunger.  My mother made sure she has hot food for us on the table everyday.  Occasionaly the children missed one or two meals, only due to our own silliness or tantrums.  But hunger, was not a familiar friend.  We were poor, but we were as happy and as without worries as other children.

Yet one day I saw my mother deep in thought.  Worries etched out on her face, that was unusual for me to see.  My mother was a strong woman, whom had never cried in front of the children no matter how dire the circumstances-except when her mother passed away.  To see her being so wrapped up with worries deeply toubled the nine year old me.
What is it, mama?  I asked.
She was still in thoughts, and without realizing it, she said it out, we are running out of rice…..she trailed off when she realized I was listening.  I am sure she said all sort of things to comfort me, and promised everything would be fine, but the shock I experienced was so great, I cannot forget about it 21 years later.  I think I secretly peered in the rice bucket we had, and saw there was only about a cup of rice left, fear and worries rose up like a great moutain, and it put mighty weight on my heart.  I went to school that day not as the usual bubbly cheerful me, but a gloomy nine year old girl.  Not being able to pay school fees on time and having the teachers rolled their eyes at me many times, that I could bear, but no food for dinner, that I feared.  If we did not have enough for dinner, how about tomorrow?  What would happen to us?  Many many questions hanging over my head, I was such a miss misserable until my little friends could not help but noticed, and they asked, what is it?

I remember the shock on their faces when I said we were running out of rice. One friend tried to comfort me by saying there would be enough, but I assured her there wasn’t much left. Amidst all the talking and trying to solve the problem, one of my good friend, who was from a wealthy family, she took this one Riggit (Malaysia currency) out from her pocket, which was her allowance for lunch that day, and placed it in my hand.  Ask your mother to use this to buy some rice, she said.  I was speechless.  I do not remember my other friends have given me their money or not, I was speechless because of her genorosity, her kindness and her compassion to me.  I was also speechless because my daily allowance for lunch was only 20 cent (which is about 6 cent in US currency), and her allowance was 5 times more than mine.  One Rinngit was a lot of money to us back in the 80’s.  She could have buy 5 lunches with that money.  Yet she gave it all up to me without hesitant, I was very grateful to her.  And to this day I am still.  I do not remember what was my mother’s reaction when I passed her the money, while the adults turned their noses at my family, or rolled their eyes or spoke harshly when my mother went to them to borrow money or rice, this little girl had given her all with compassion, and without asking us to pay her back.  The money itself was not enough to buy rice, and I do not remember my mother made me to give it back to her or not.  To me, the problem was solved, some one cared for me, some one had reached out and helped.  Some one had not only loved but acted accordingly.  My memory ends there.

So I know, I know the fear, and I cannot imagine people who not only know the fear of hunger, but also truly know hunger itself.  They know of lost hope, they know of despair, they know of suffering.  How could I forget about them?  How could I not love and care more?
And how about you?  How about us whom we call ourselves Christians?  Do we celebrate Thanksgiving by indulging in the abundant of food and by joining in the shopping madness to get ourselves more stuff we desire?  What do we do with the overflowing blessings the Lord has poured out on us?  We do nothing with them, we sit on them and we ask for more!  Who come to the Thanksgiving table with true thankfulness, with a heart to love and forgive those who have done you wrong either with intention or without realizing it.  Do we remove the bitterness or resentment we have towards someone and thank the Lord by bringing that person into our life?  Do we stop and ponder on His goodness?  Do we pour out the blessings He has so generously pouring into our lives into His people who are in need, whom also have souls that have been carved into His image?

I am ashamed to admit that I did not.  I feel as I have, and we have stained the real Thanksgiving.  I seek for forgiveness in the Lord.
But it does not end here.  There is Christmas coming, are we going to stain the real meaning of Christmas too and grieve Him?  Or are we going to repent and turn our way?

Whom shall we give gift to this Christmas?  To ourselves, or to Him?
So my question and challenge to myself and to you is this, are you going to bring something to the feet of Jesus and offer that to Him, or are you just going to put another gift under the Christmas tree?
Before you make a decision, take a look of this picture I got from Katie's blog (with permission).

Picture copyright of Amazima

Read also this blog post of Katie, "Just In Case You Were Getting Too Comfortable...".
If your heart doesn't break after seeing and reading it, if you can still sit back in your comfort and sleep in peace, you shall look deep within your heart, whether you are what you call yourself, a Christian.