Thursday, October 31, 2013

CAMBODIA: Sweet & Tender Encouragement

I discovered firsthand that EVEN half-way across the world, sin that easily entangles will rear its ugly head. For me that sin has and always will be PRIDE.  On one day in particular, the Enemy baited my mind with prideful thoughts.  In retrospect I see that his goal was to thwart God's purpose for the trip by turning my focus inward rather than upward.  

You see, my fleshly mind began to dwell on wanting recognition.  I began to feed my pride with thoughts of self, self, self.  I am quite ashamed to have to admit this to you.  So often we think that when we walk in obedience to God, we are free from fleshly temptations.  Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.  It is WHEN we are stepping out in obedience that the Enemy kicks things up a notch.

By the grace of God, I was able to clearly see what the Enemy was trying to do.  And by the counsel and power of the Spirit, along with prayers from many of you, I was alert and equipped to resist him and stand firm in HUMBLE faith.  My strategy: I beat my mind into submission with truth from Scripture and kept my focus on Jesus.  I frequently prayed, "You, not me Lord.  You, NOT me."

I can honestly say, the sin struggle was short-lived.  Praise God!

Had the story ended here I would have so much to thank Jesus for.
But because He is loving & compassionate He not only gave me victory over sin, He also lifted me out of the pit with sweet and tender encouragement. 

Simply, He provided opportunity for me to be used by Him in the area of teaching.  For a day, I'd allowed my desire to be used by Him to mutate into prideful thoughts.  After receiving victory over those thoughts, God graciously still considered me worthy of using.   

And so, I was given multiple opportunities to do what I love best and what I believe God's function (or gift) for me is:  TEACHING [Romans 12:3-8].

I went into the Life Center school on two separate occasions and taught.  My "lessons" weren't ground breaking or special, rather they were simple and common.  Yet, in those teaching moments God sweetly and tenderly encouraged me.


And THEN, He placed a cherry on top!  Vadna, the local missionary I grew to deeply respect, said something to me on our last day I will never forget.  It was as though God spoke directly through her. 

"I see gifting in You as a teacher.  You are fun and creative with the children."

Friends, our God is so sweet and tender.  Here I was, a wretched sinner whose pride demanded recognition.  And God not only forgave me, He also affirmed me. 

Since returning, I see the lesson God wanted me to learn:  When I walk in obedience, "God will meet all my needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus[Philippians 4:19]  The true measure of God's blessings is in Christ alone.  When I humbly love and serve Jesus, my needs are met.  I had a need to be used by Him, and for a moment that need turned to sin.  But as I kept my focus on Jesus, God was gracious, forgiving, and so incredibly generous to meet my need in His own perfect way.

As I think about my children, I want to pray that Jesus would sweetly and tenderly meet ALL their needs as they humbly love and serve Him.

Jesus,

You always provide a way out in temptation, especially when the sin of pride rears its ugly head.  I pray my children would not be so easily entangled in pride as I am.  I pray their focus would remain upward, toward YOU, in all that they say and do.  Grant them the gift of faith to humbly love and serve You.  And as they do, would you sweetly and tenderly encourage them, meeting ALL their needs according to Your glorious riches.  For the true measure of blessing is NEVER in recognition, but rather in the indescribable joy of being Your servant and letting You sweetly and tenderly use and encourage Your children.  I pray my children would live life in light of this truth.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

CAMBODIA: Breaking The Silence



When it comes to sex trafficking we CANNOT be silent any longer!

God gave my dear friend Nicole a clear vision after her December 2012 trip to Cambodia with Life Outreach International.  She saw firsthand the intense evil surrounding the trade of sex-trafficking.  She met young girls locked up in brothel rooms forced to service 8-10 men a night.  She witnessed girls being herded into brothels like cattle wearing numbers across their chest, waiting for a man to "purchase" them and do to them whatever they like.  She talked with mothers who were tricked into selling their daughters to sex traffickers believing they were sending their daughters away to a life they couldn't give them with better opportunities; completely deceived to the reality that their daughters would be beaten, electrocuted, and tortured into becoming sex slaves. 

Nicole was completely and utterly heartbroken as she witnessed this modern day slavery.  



The 10-1 brothel room
She also became very aware of the truth surrounding the enslavement of over 27 million people across the world:  Regardless of nationality, victims are systematically stripped of their identity, battered into gruesome submission, and made to perform humiliating sexual acts on up to 40 strangers every night. Most are held in dingy apartments and brothels, forced to take heavy doses of illegal drugs, and monitored very closely. Victims are often thrown into such ghastly oppression at 13 years old. Some are abducted outright, while others are lured out of poverty, romantically seduced, or sold by their families. [Nefarious]

As her heart broke for the millions of people victimized AND as the truth permeated her mind, she knew God was asking her to enter the battle and fight against this social injustice.

Thus the reason for our trip to Cambodia.  Her goal for our team was to go into the remote villages in the Cambodian countryside and educate the people about trafficking in hopes to prevent parents from being tricked into selling their daughters.


Our team spread this anti-trafficking message, coupled with the Gospel message of hope, to over 2,500 Cambodians.  We traveled to four villages and three high schools where (at each location) we were welcomed by a crowd of over 400 people.  

Our Program:

First Chetra & Vadna, our local missionary couple, used anti-trafficking charts written in the Khmer language to educate the people. 

Then Nicole shared (with translators) her childhood story of sexual abuse and the stories of several Cambodian mothers whom she had met on her last trip who were both tricked into selling their daughters.  She told the heart wrenching details of one mother, Yem, who unknowingly sold two of her daughters.  One daughter returned with extreme mental and physical disabilities and the other she has never heard from again. 


Nicole proclaimed to each crowd:  "Do not believe these evil people.  They will promise your daughters a good job and great money, but they are lying.  They will hurt your daughters.  So please protect your girls.  Send them to school, this will ensure a good job and salary in the future."


Then Nicole talked to the people about her book, Hush, and about how the only reason she has overcome the abuse she suffered for nearly a decade as a child was because of JESUS.

 
Then Nicole handed the microphone off to Janice & I to share the Gospel.  Many raised their hands and accepted Jesus right then and there.  We had a local Christian pastor with us at each location to follow up our sharing with more information for the people regarding where they could attend church and receive a Bible. 



Then Meagan & I led a "special number" teaching the Cambodians the song & motions to "If You're Happy and You Know It!"  Meagan and I both commented to each other about how FUN this part of our program was.  Seeing their smiling faces laughing and singing along was, for lack of a better word, AWESOME.



Then we passed out shoes to the children, Hush books (translated in their language) to the high school students and adults, and writing pads with a ruler & pen to the students.  



Finally we said our goodbyes and took lots of pictures. 

As I looked about the crowds at each of the villages and high schools we went to I ALWAYS picked out a young girl amongst the people.  A girl sitting on her mother's lap, a girl dressed in her school uniform, a girl smiling and playing like young girls should, a girl with her whole future ahead of her. 

And I prayed with all my heart, "Dear Jesus, may her parents hear this message today.  May they protect this beautiful young girl.  May they give her a future by sending her to school.  May they never out of financial desperation OR deception sell this precious girl into modern day slavery.  And may she meet Jesus today and be forever changed by His love."

Since having a daughter, my heart's cry for the protection of these young girls has been deeper and stronger.  Because I simply CANNOT imagine what it would be like if I were one of these mothers who had been tricked.  I simply CANNOT fathom the immense grief and torture I would feel finding my child wasn't getting an education or given a good job, but rather that she was being beaten and tortured into submission to then perform horrendous sexual acts...one after another.

It's hard and emotionally disturbing to even think about our own children enslaved in this fashion.  But we must.  Because when we do, we understand how vital it is that we do whatever is possible to fight against this injustice. 

It is this understanding that drove Nicole and I (and the rest of our team) to travel half-way across the world.  Because if we could stop just ONE girl from becoming a victim, it was ALL worth it.

I suppose we will never know how many girls were saved as a result of our educational message.  We hope and pray there will be many.

One thing we DO know is that hundreds of these young girls (and their families) heard about the love of Jesus and invited Him into their hearts.  

This Jesus is the one...
 
who proclaims freedom for the prisoners & releases the oppressed [Luke 4:18],
 
who brings peace in the midst of trouble,
 
who tells His people to "Take heart! I have overcome the world," [John 16:33]
 
and who unconditionally and beautifully loves each and every person in this world.

It is His love that drove us to those villages and high schools.

And as I walked the streets of Cambodia, held the hands of orphan children, handed out shoes to the poor, hugged the least of these, educated, and spread the Gospel message I fell madly and deeply more in love with Him.  And I prayed and prayed that the Cambodian people would as well.  For His affections toward them; His love for them is their only TRUE hope.

So we MUST teach our children about His love.  And we must teach them to do what He has shown us is good:  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. [Micah 6:8] 



As our children truly understand how deep His affections are for them, His love will passionately drive them to fight against injustices in this world.   

May I end with a request?  We have spent the last 9 months praying for our own children, but TODAY I'd like us to pray for the millions of children enslaved all over the world.  And also, for those beautiful Cambodians with whom I spent 10 days with. 

Together, on our knees
LET'S PRAY.
Jesus,

The Enemy of our souls is at work in this world.  His evil is devastating.  But we cling to the truth that You have overcome this world and all the evil within it.  So with humble faith we ask that You would overcome and end this modern day slavery of sex trafficking. 

We beseech Your throne and pray You would bring justice for the millions of children enslaved.  We know that You love justice and that the earth is full of Your unfailing love [Psalm 33:5].  Would you secure justice and uphold the cause for these poor and needy children! [Psalm 140:12] 

We believe that You long to be gracious and that You rise to show compassion, for You are a God of justice! [Isaiah 30:18]  Would you be gracious and compassionate to the people and children in Cambodia, would You be their God of justice!

For Cambodia, would You, "Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." [Psalm 82:3-4]

And would you stir within us AND our children a passion to fight injustice.  Teach us to be Your hands and feet & to battle this wretched evil.  May we never turn a blind's eye or deaf ear to those enslaved.  May we fight for justice and obey Your call to Act Justly!

To You be All The Glory!!!  We are forever changed by Your love and forever drawn to tell of it ALL OVER THE WORLD. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CAMBODIA: Leaving A Lasting Jesus Impression

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." 
Hebrews 10:23-24

Have you ever met a person in your life, perhaps you spent only a short period of time with them, yet they forever changed you? Someone who embodies this Scripture; who has spurred you on toward love and good deeds?

One of THE most special aspects of my trip were the people I was able to meet.  Hearing their stories, watching them reflect Jesus in all that they do, and humbly serving alongside them HAS CHANGED ME FOREVER.  Without question: Meeting them has spurred me on toward love and good deeds.

I'd like to introduce you to a few of these people.  My descriptions will NEVER do them justice.  These are incredible people. 

Meet Chetra & Vadna
Our Leaders

This incredible Cambodian couple run the Life Center.  They provide and care for the orphans.  They teach in the Life Center school (which is open to local village children as well as the orphans).  They pastor the Life Center church (comprised of the orphans, Life Center staff, and Cambodians from the local village).  They have two beautiful children; a one year old daughter & a five year old son.

Chetra is a charismatic man of God.  He's an encourager.  He's a visionary.  He's faithful to what Jesus has called him too.

Vadna is a strong, godly woman.  She is a teacher & a preacher (we discovered her preaching skills while watching her translate the Gospel message in the villages and high schools).  She is bold and strong.  She is kind and nurturing.  She is full of God's love. 

Honestly, I was (and am) in awe of this couple.  Their love for Jesus drives ALL that they do.  Their faithfulness and commitment to what He has called them to do is remarkably inspiring.  I was completely humbled and honored to spend a week with them.  God taught me a handful of lessons simply through watching them.

Meet Win
Our Driver

Win drove us around all week. 

Win has one of those powerful stories of coming to Christ.  As a young man his life was deep in sin, yet God miraculously put people in his life who introduced him to church and to Jesus.  Slowly he began to read the Gospels and came to know Jesus personally.  Jesus changed his life.

He teaches at the Life Center school.  Less than a month ago, he and his wife had their first baby.  A little girl they named Sarah. 

He is a bit shy, but witty and outgoing when he finally comes out of his shell.  He has the heart of a servant.  He is one of THE most humble men I've ever met.  His heart is tender for God to touch the hearts of his people.

Win affirmed for me the power of humble service.  His witness for Jesus was illuminated and effective as he day in and day out served.  Pride never reared its ugly head, even after 2 flat tires, one transmission break down, and a van completely stuck in a deep rut... he still remained humble AND he never stopped serving.  What an example for me when it comes to motherhood.

Meet Moto
Our Chef & Friend

Moto cooked delicious meals for us at the Life Center.  He also traveled around Pursat with us to the villages and high schools, helping wherever needed.  He became incredibly dear to us; a friend for life.

Moto was an orphan at the Life Center.  He now works there helping run the place.  He will be moving to Phnom Penh (the city) this coming year to find a job.  He believes it is time for him to make his own way.

Moto is a tender soul and so incredibly kind.  From the first day we met him, he extended his hand in friendship.  He has a true heart for worship, loves to sing praise songs.  He walks with Jesus and has a humble heart to serve Him.  He was incredibly warm with the orphan children, a strong brotherly figure to them.

Moto taught me the power of friendship...how no matter how different I CAN reach across the aisle and show sisterly love to each and every woman and child I meet.  His tender soul spoke volumes to me about kindness and caring for the people God puts in my path.

Meet Janice
A member of our Team from Texas


Here she is catching a lizard in my room.
Janice is a photographer for Life Outreach International.  She has literally traveled all over the world capturing sights we couldn't possibly imagination.  She's had a baby die in her arms of malnutrition in Africa, she's witnessed the horrors of sex-trafficking in places like Cambodia & India, and she's seen devastation & death all around the world because of a lack of clean drinking water.  The images she has captured on film would simply blow your mind and break your heart.

Yet, her love for Jesus inspires her to bring HOPE to the many people across the world she has met.  She has a fearless passion for serving Him.  Her heart has been broken by the oppression and pain she's seen across the world, and she is doing something about it.  She is the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she goes.

Listening to her stories, hearing her share the Gospel, and watching her photograph taught me many things.  She is a woman who makes no excuses and doesn't get caught up in what she doesn't have.  She serves Jesus with a joyful heart and looks for any and every opportunity to tell others about Him.  I am thoroughly impressed by her dedication to the Gospel message and am spurred on by her to love others however I can.

I hope you have caught a glimpse of how incredible all these individuals are.  These individuals have given me courage to be bold for Jesus.  They've shown me that no amount of weakness or shortcoming need get in the way of God's call on my life.  They've displayed the power of a humble and kind heart.  They've inspired me to serve Jesus without excuse.  They've highlighted the importance of encouraging and nurturing the Body of Christ.  They've given me new vision for helping the poor and oppressed.  And they've spurred me on toward righteousness and good deeds.

And as I've thought about how they've changed my walk with Jesus, I cannot help but pray there will be people who come into my children's lives and do the same.  People whose life choices humbly reflect Jesus and set an example for the believers; spurring them on toward righteousness, love, and good deeds.

I've also thought about myself.  I've wondered if my daily life choices leave a good Jesus impression on others.  I've wondered if in me others have seen compassion, humility, and kindness.  I've wondered if my walk with Jesus has set an example for believers; spurring them on toward love and good deeds.  I pray it has and I pray it will.

Join me today and let's pray.

Jesus I pray that my walk with You impresses and changes others for the good and for Your glory.  Likewise, I pray that my children's lives and relationship with You would impress and change others.  In pray their words and actions would spur others on toward love and good deeds.  I also pray that they will have the great privilege of meeting incredible men and women of God like those I met in Cambodia; men and women whose reflection of Jesus is so incredible that it changes them and make them more and more like You.   


Monday, October 28, 2013

CAMBODIA: THE Special Number




Hello Friends!  I will be writing about Cambodia this entire week.  I wrote a post last week while I was there, if you'd like to read it as well click on Loving & Caring for the "Least of These"  

I hope you will stop by daily to read about the unforgettable spiritual journey I had for the past 10 days as I was half-way across the world.
 
Coming home is bittersweet.  Sweet to hold my children in my arms again.  Bitter to be miles away from the orphan children of Cambodia who are now dear to my heart as though they are my own. 
 
I begin with a tribute to them.
"Special Number" so to speak.
 
All week I was pegged the "Special Number" member of our team.
 
In case you've forgotten this popular 80's church lingo...I was in charge of "special" music "numbers." 
 
I imagine my singing songs with the orphans our first night there had a little something to do with this.  As a result, the local Cambodian missionary couple Chetra & Vadna (who I will be writing about later this week) asked me often, "Will you do a Special Number?"
 
The team and I joked the remainder of the trip about my "Special Numbers."
 
I led a few "Special Numbers" during worship at the Life Center (orphanage and school) church service on Sunday. 
 
 
Meagan (another team member) & I led a "Special Number" by the name of "If You're Happy and You Know It" at each village we spoke to (approximately 1500 people total). 
 
 
About a dozen orphan girls and I choreographed a "Special Number" dance to the song "Shout to the Lord." 
 
 
 
 
And THE most rewarding "Special Number" of the week I happened to video tape on our last day at the Life Center.  It is comprised of a beautiful rendition of the song Bless the Lord performed by many of the older orphan children.
 
Had I known I was going to be leading so much singing, I'd have taken a few voice lessons prior to leaving.  Ha!  I do love to sing.  And I guess I can sort-of carry a tune.  Yet I consider singing to be more of a hobby than a career AND I plan to keep it this way here at home.
 
However, traveling half-way across the world because God told me to didn't leave room for me to wimp out OR refuse jobs Jesus laid at my feet.  So when the pegging of "Special Numbers" came to me, I thought "What the heck!  Here I am God.  Let's do this."
 
Turns out all these music numbers were a tremendous blessing to me on so many levels. 
 
Especially the one you are about to see and listen to.
 
You see, listening to another people and nation of children sing praises to God will leave you speechless.  It will fill your soul with unexplainable joy.  It will ignite a stronger, more fiery, love for our wonderful God.  And it will invite & bring the presence of God like you've never seen before.
 
God inhabits the praises of His people.
And what else could be as Precious In His Sight as the scene you are about to see.
 
I showed my kids this video yesterday. 
Grayden recognized the song immediately.  He saw kids half-way across the world praising the same Savior he praises.  And he couldn't help but start to sing along as he watched. 
 
Oh how I wish he could have been there to watch and listen to these beautiful orphan children unashamedly sing praise song after praise song to Jesus. 
 
Children whose parents are dead.  Children whose parents had to give them up because they loved them so much and simply couldn't provide for them.  Children whose parents have abandoned them for inexplicable reasons.  Even children whose parents are in jail for committing horrendous crimes (3 siblings watched their father kill their mother with a machete).
Yet, without excuses, they sing!
With no inhibitions they praise.
With great faith they worship.
And with unashamed and humble hearts, they are absolutely precious IN HIS SIGHT.
 
Theirs are hearts and voices that my kids can learn from & sing along with.
 
For as Psalm 117 so perfectly proclaims, God's greatness reaches across continents and is so worthy of praise from ALL people.
 

"Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. 
For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD."
 
So today, for all of you reading this,
 
I pray you are blessed beyond measure as you watch this video.  I pray the voices of these children singing praise to God will ignite in you a new and pure heart for worship.  I pray their beautiful sound of praise to God will deepen your desire to unashamedly sing praises to Your God no matter where you are.
 
And for our children, I pray they will see these children and desire to join with them in song and praise to their GREAT God.  I pray they would learn to praise their God with no inhibitions.  I pray they would fearlessly and unashamedly  proclaim the praises of their God to the ends of the earth.  And I pray their sweet, little voices praising God would be precious in His sight!
 
 
 

Friday, October 25, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Unavoidable Flaws & Undeserved Redemption

GUEST BLOG
written by Leah

My cousin and friend.  A godly woman full of wisdom.  She is pregnant with her first child!!  God is good.  May her words and prayer speak to all our hearts.
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My husband and I are having our first child in March. This journey to parenthood has not been without struggles, grief, and God's comfort and sweet presence. I am not so much excited and squealing about this baby as I am wholly content, quietly joyful, tears-in-the-eyes grateful.
 
As we hit the halfway point in the pregnancy, I find myself pondering everything about this baby's life. I've wondered what Baby will inherit from me and what from Nate.

Sometimes these thoughts verge on trivial…I'd like Baby to have Nate's red hair or my curly hair. I don't want him/her to deal with acne, as both of us have. I hope Baby is drawn to the library, to evening cuddles on the couch, to walks in nature. I want he/she to love being passed around from person to person, to be flexible with late nights and loud worship music. These things are a huge part of our lives, and it'd be nice if Baby just jumped right in without putting up a fuss. (You mothers are laughing at my idealistic hopes, I'm sure.)

But sometimes, sometimes, my hopes for Baby are anything but trivial:

 Please don't let him/her be so easily annoyed and mouthy, like I am.

 Lord, can you just let him/her skip over the mistakes of adolescence, of teenage years, of college years?

 God, sometimes I'm so prideful. I don't want that for Baby.

 Please God, no sexual sin or abuse. No bondage to anything that is not of you.

Nate and I are opposites in many ways, and I'm sure this child will be a mix of our personalities and quirks….and flaws. God has been reminding me that faults and mistakes and bumps in the road are inevitable, but that He is a God who hands us victory, healing, and comfort.

When I look back at the stupid things I've done in the last 29 years, they seem trivial in light of His cleansing forgiveness. It will not be any different for my baby. There will be beauty in watching God redeem my child from his/her sins, in seeing Him refine Baby's flaws into gorgeous character traits.

God, we pray Jeremiah 24:6-7 over our kids. Just as you promised the people of Judah, I pray that you will also give my children a heart to know you. I pray they will be your people and you will be their God. No matter what sins they stumble into and what mistakes lie in their future, may they return to You with all their heart so that you can build up what has been torn down in their lives and so you can plant what has been uprooted. Watch over them for their good, God. Thank you for taking care of and "fixing" them in ways I can't. Amen.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Listen To My Voice

GUEST BLOG
written by Angie

Angie & I met in college.  We both married within a week of each other and we spent the first year of our marriages in a newlywed coed Bible Study together.  It was during this year that I grew to deeply respect her walk with Jesus.  She is currently a mother of 3 girls.  I know you will be blessed by her praying heart.

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I don't know about you, but I feel like there are a lot of voices out there.  We live in a very connected world and information flies into our minds (and our hearts) almost constantly.  

And, if you are like me, even when I am in complete silence, there are still "voices" in my head.  I hear my own thoughts and worries.  Conversations or events that happened earlier run around and around in my head.  

In the midst of that, there is the voice of God.  

And also the voice of the Evil One.  


Jesus speaks to the voices we hear in John 10 when he tells the story about the sheep and the Good Shepherd.  He was speaking to the religious leaders of the day and he said that the true Shepherd goes in through the gate and "the sheep listen to his voice (v.3)".  He goes on to say that they follow him because they know his voice and they will never follow a stranger because they do not recognize a stranger's voice (v.4-5)."  

Jesus goes on to talk about his care of the sheep- that he is the Good Shepherd to his sheep, that he lays his life down for His Sheep (v. 11), that He does not abandon them when a wolf comes to attack the Sheep (v. 12) and that he came for the Sheep so that they may have life and have it to the full (v. 10).  

I love this story because it speaks to the intimate way that Jesus wants to live with his children.  

In order to know someone's voice, you have to spend a lot of time with them, listening.  Hearing the voice of someone we love, like our spouse or a dear friend or family member can bring such comfort when we are hurting. We can probably all think of a difficult time in our lives when we experienced comfort at the sound of someone's voice.   

As we seek to obey God, we begin by listening to the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd.
As we seek to find God's will for our families, we begin by listening to the voice of Jesus.  

As I teach my children about God, I continually come alongside them and teach them what the voice of Jesus sounds like.  

This can happen through reading the Word together and pointing out how God interacts with His children.  

This can happen through praying together and making space in prayer time to wait quietly and see if God might speak to my child's heart.  

And, when I see my children listening to the voice of God, I can affirm that in them so they grow in their awareness of His Voice.  

My children are still pretty young, but they are already making many choices.  Right now, they have a safety net of making choices mostly in my presence and I can actively guide them through that process.  However, this will change quickly and the number of choices they will make independently will only increase as they grow.  I won't always be there to help them.  

Thinking about my children growing up and making choices that will have significant impact on their lives can overwhelm me.  

But I find so much comfort knowing that God is ever-present in each of my children's lives.  He is speaking to them and desires for them to listen to His voice and follow Him. If they know the voice of their Good Shepherd and they listen to His voice, I know that He will be faithful to lead them.  

Jesus, we thank you that you are our Good Shepherd. Thank you for giving us your voice to listen to.  I pray that you would teach us to know your voice more and more.  Thank you for speaking to our children.  We pray that each one of our children would know your voice.  We know our children will have many voices in their lives, but we pray that your voice would be the voice that they listen to and follow.  Thank you that as we follow Your voice, You give us life to the fullest.  We love You.  Amen.  

CAMBODIA: Loving & Caring for the "Least of These"


How can I teach my kids to have empathy and compassion for those children across the world who have very little? 

This is a question I've asked myself so many times over the years.

Especially when I sense and see my children display a spirit of entitlement about what they expect to have and what they expect they should get to do.

Especially when their hearts are ungrateful.  Complaining about what's set before them at dinner.  Grumbling about the abundant clothing hanging in their closets.  Whining about being bored with their fully stocked toy shelves.

As I've driven around this country of Cambodia and seen what the children & many orphans here have, in my heart I've begun to desperately cry out to God that my children would be granted the revelation I have received of just how great they have it and would live life with hearts of gratitude.

Even more, I am praying that as they see & hear about my time here in Cambodia that their hearts would be drawn to the children and orphans here.  That they would care deeply and be completely disheartened in seeing the economic disadvantage these Cambodian kids live with on a daily basis.  AND that they would be compelled to help kids like them who have great need.

KIDS JUST LIKE THEM.

Kids who laugh & play.



Kids who sing & dance AND play UNO.

 
Kids who loves sports. 
 
 
Kids who want to learn. 


Kids who want to be loved, cared, and provided for. 


 

BUT KIDS WHO ARE IN GREAT NEED.
 
Kids who live in houses such as these with brown drinking water.


Kids who live & sleep next to filth and garbage. 


Kids who are without a mom or dad. 


Kids who desperately need food & clothing.


Jesus cared deeply for the poor while on this earth.  And He still does. 

In Matthew 25:31-46 He gives His expectations for us in regards to how we are to treat those in need.  Would you take the time to read this passage of Scripture with me?

The Sheep and the Goats

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Scripture is clear:  Jesus expects us to care for those in need.  And His expectation isn't an "if you feel like it kind of thing."  It's an absolute, "I'm dead serious," without a doubt kind of expectation.

And I believe there is no better place to start with our kids than to help & encourage them to care for OTHER kids.  Those close to home and those across the world.

Will you join me today and pray that God breaks the hearts of our children for the children across the world who are in great need...that our children will be a generation that love Jesus so sincerely that they would care for the "least of these."
 
Jesus,
 
Your love runs deep for the children of the world.  They are precious in your sight.  I pray you would open the hearts of my children and give them Your love for those children across the world who are in great need.  I pray they would have sincere hearts for the least of these.  And would that love & sincerity compel them to HELP; drive them toward good deeds.  Deeds that provide care, clothing, food, water, education & demonstrate and proclaim the Hope of Jesus. 
 
And may ALL of us see the needs of others as an opportunity to be the hands & feet of Jesus to this world!