Friday, June 19, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover

The Extreme Home Makeover show crew is coming to Erie this week to bless a local family with a home makeover.  I have to say that I'm not much of a fan of the show because the practicality in me says that they could help many more people if they were a lot less 'extreme' with the makeovers.  I always wonder how the families who receive those extravagant homes are able to maintain them after the show is over.  

And when you've watched a Jamaican mother with three children cry for joy because you built her a 10 foot by 10 foot one room home, it's hard to keep a positive perspective on the TV show.

Still, I know that Jesus is moved by extreme generosity; after all, He is the ultimate giver.  It's just that He sees who is truly generous and we often don't.  

I imagine if there had been TV cameras in Jesus' day they would have been filming the public good deeds of some lavish building program.  But over there in an obscure corner of the temple Jesus was watching a widow give two very small coins--all that she had.  No one else even noticed her but Jesus memorialized her extreme generosity forever and we can still read about it in Luke 21.  

I think about that when it comes to Operation Christmas Child.  I think about Rose, a woman of modest means who attends a very small church.  That little congregation has banded together to collect and recycle aluminum to fund their shoe box packing and last year Rose led them in packing 342 gift-filled shoe boxes to show God's love to needy children.  No TV cameras filmed them, but I know that Jesus noticed.  And Jesus notices the person who packs one shoe box with extreme sacrifice.

God, I want so much to learn how to be extremely generous.  Show me how to give until there's no more left.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Voices In The Night

Woke out of a sound sleep at 1:08 am and then again at 2:15 am.  What is it that jolts my mind into consciousness and moves me immediately to prayer?  

Same thing happened last night, too, and the theme of those prayers was begging God for wisdom to find the right yard sales to buy stuffed animals.  He answered those prayers with a haul of 353 of them.  That means over the past two weekends alone He's provided 777--a perfect number.

As I unloaded the car after the sales, Jim informed me that his sister and her significant other are coming to stay with us for a few days this week.  Yikes!  Where am I going to hide all this stuff?  Not enough space to stash all the blessings.  

And should I drive to Hagerstown, MD to pick up white shoe boxes?

I think of these questions in the night and then I turn my voice back to prayer.  I remember leafing through the book of Joshua in my Bible a few days ago and seeing in chapter 10 how God made the sun stand still when Joshua prayed.  Verse 13 says, "And there was no day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel."  Oh to be heard like that.

God, when you wake me in the night I'm not asking for the sun to stand still, but I am asking You to listen to my voice.  I'm asking You to work out the myriad of details and provide 10,000 shoe boxes this year--and the stuff to fill them and the volunteers to pack them.  

And I'm asking for 18,000 boxes from our Northwestern PA area and 600,000 boxes from the Mid-Atlantic region and 5.2 million boxes nationwide.

Because there are children's voices calling in the night--children who need to know You love them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Alabaster Box

And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.  Luke 7:37,38 (KJV)
I was looking through a concordance to see if I could find any Bible references to the word 'box' when I came across this passage in Luke.  We always hear about Mary and her jar of perfume but I was intrigued to see the King James Version calls it an "alabaster box".
I started thinking of all the white cardboard boxes we fill for Operation Christmas Child.   They are our alabaster boxes.  We offer these treasure-filled boxes to Jesus and pour them out on the 'least of His brethren' as a means of anointing Him.  
We recognize that all our treasure is pitiful compared to His glory but it's all we have and so we pour it out.  We let down our hair and open ourselves up to disgrace just to show our love for Him.  We're willing to do the inconspicuous behind-the-scenes day-to-day menial work of sorting and hauling and packing and stacking and the even harder work of praying and trusting and hoping.
The irony is that He is the one who provides the offering.  Just today He answered my continual prayer for more crayons by allowing Mt. Carmel School to loan me 151 boxes of Crayolas from their school store with the promise that I'll return them when the back-to-school sales come around in a few weeks.  
He gives us these alabaster boxes and then He allows us the privilege of spilling them out on precious children in His name.
Thank You, Jesus--for being the gift and the giver and the gracious recipient.