A little girl taught me a big lesson about light when I was passing out food


By: Lea Ann Sherwood
Originally posted on Lea Ann’s Blog: In Deed And Truth

I live in a very nice home in a large “golf-club” community in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. While there may be some neighborhoods around that are more upscale, ours isn’t too shabby. Our house isn’t the nicest in the sub-division, but it’s not on the low end either. I would say it’s somewhere in the middle. I have enjoyed living in this house. It’s too big for just Tim and me now, but we sure have made good use of it over the seven or so years that we’ve lived here. We’ve raised up our girls, had one young lady stay with us for awhile who’s now become like our third daughter, had wedding in our basement (!), had some pretty lively discussions on our screened in porch (if those walls could talk), and had more people over than I can count. But even though I love my house, and even though we’ve done some great things in it, I always try to remember that there’s a big world out there beyond my home.

At this point in the blog most writers would start quoting statistics. Not me! I always hated statistics in school so I’m not going to bother. Instead, I will tell you what I see. I think by looking around the area where I live (and most of you who live in upper-middle class suburbia can attest to this), I can tell you that I see a lot of nice houses and well-dressed people. I also see some nice cars driving around. What I don’t see is a lot of obvious poverty. However, if you take your car out for a drive, you might be surprised at what you find. Poverty is everywhere. You really don’t need to look all that hard to find it. It’s even in the backyard of the really nice golf-club community where I live.

I work with a wonderful organization called Streetwise Georgia. They work in our community to help folks in need by offering spiritual as well as physical assistance. On Thursdays a group of us go to a nearby area to pass out food for Streetwise. We’ve been visiting this area for awhile, so we’ve all built up some relationships with the folks there. This past week I was visiting a family who had just moved from one apartment to another. While I was in the home, a little girl who lived there was jumping up and down with excitement as I was talking to the adults in the room because she had something she wanted me to see. Finally, the adults stopped talking and she got to show me what all the excitement was about. In the bedroom that she and her mother shared, on a small table next to the bed, was a lamp with a purple lampshade. We all had to stand in the room while her mother turned the lamp on. When the lamp lit up, the girl got excited and started jumping up and down, her excitement spread to me, and I started jumping up and down, too! Next, we turned the overhead lights off in the room and turned that bedside lamp on again. Imagine our excitement then!!! Now, it doesn’t take much to get me animated about things. One time my husband asked me if I was thirteen. As I considered this, I thought he probably should have taken that number down to nine, or maybe seven. I have a batman and superman figure on the dashboard of my Jeep just because it makes me happy. I like working with the youth in my church. Sure, I like working with the young people, but this also lets me do things like play Jenga, Pretty Pretty Princess, Candyland, and color in coloring books. But seeing that little girl’s reaction over that light created a different type of joy in my heart.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that girl and the light in her bedroom ever since. I could talk about how she was living in a very needy area, didn’t have much, but was happy with a light, and what an example that should be to all of us – especially since many of us have children who have loads of toys, electronic gadgets, etc… and seem to take them for granted. But that isn’t what has stuck with me. What has stuck with me is how in an apartment that was once a chicken coop, a little girl and her reaction over turning on a light brought real joy to my heart. She also made me think about the true light, and what an impact it has on a person’s life. It has made me hope and pray that I can be that kind of a light to others.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 ESV) 

I have done mission work overseas as well as here in the states. I have so often found it to be the case that when we are sent to help others, we are oftentimes the ones who are helped, or taught, or blessed. I am so thankful for the wonderful time that I spent with this little girl last week. She taught me a lesson that I hope I always remember. A wonderful illustration of light.

Advertisements

Don’t Worry

A couple of weeks ago we unpacked Matthew 6:25-34 where Jesus exhorts His disciples to not be anxious.  You can listen to the audio of the sermon here (sermon title: “Don’t Worry, Be Godly”), but I thought I would share with you some thought-provoking quotes I came across as I studied for this sermon.  I pray these bless you by encouraging you to have greater faith in your amazing Savior!

Charles Spurgeon – Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.

Anonymous – Worry is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.

Corrie Ten Boom – If a case is too small to be turned into a prayer it is too small to be made into a burden.

Corrie Ten Boom         Look around and be distressed.  Look inside and be depressed.  Look at Jesus and be at rest.

E Stanley Jones – Worry is the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles

DA Carson – the root of anxiety is unbelief

George Mueller – The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety

Worry

…gives a small thing a big shadow

…is the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles.

…over tomorrow pulls shadows over today’s sunshine.

…is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.

…is an indication that we think God cannot look after us. (O. Chambers)

…is putting question marks where God has put periods. (J R Rice)

…is the interest we pay on tomorrow’s troubles. (E S Jones)

…is an intrusion into God’s providence. (J Haggai)

…is a guest admitted which quickly turns to master.

… never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its strength (A J Cronin)

… is  the interest paid by those who borrow trouble (G W Lyon)

…is practical atheism and an affront to God (R. H. Mounce)

Sunday Service 11/6/11

Text for Sunday:  Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

A couple of weeks ago we began looking at this passage by talking about where our treasure is.  Our treasure is what we love most deeply and what we long for most desperately.  Where is ours?  Is our treasure in the here and now, or is our treasure in heaven.  We concluded that day with the probing question, “when we die, will we be leaving our treasure or going to it?”.

This Sunday we’ll conclude this passage by considering our vision and our master.  What is our vision (iow, what or who so fills our vision that our life becomes defined by our pursuit of it?), and who is our master, “God or mammon”?

I don’t know about you, but in considering these things, I have recognized a disparity between what I say love and what my life (my actions, attitudes, decisions, etc.) says I love the most.  I say with my lips (and I even truly hope this to be true of me) that Jesus is my treasure, my vision, and my master, but far too often my life does not sing the same tune.  There’s a disconnect.  I live life in the world of “here and now”, and it is so easy for my heart to be given to earthly treasures.  I find that my vision is often clouded by worldliness.

But I don’t want this to be true of me.  I want Jesus to truly be my greatest treasure.  I want His glory to so fill my vision that my life becomes defined by the pursuit of glorifying Him.  Only Jesus can transform hearts from treasuring things of this world, to treasuring Him.  Only Jesus can remove the film from our eyes so that we can behold Him in all of His majesty and beauty and glory.  As we prepare for Sunday, let us make the lyrics of this treasured song the prayer of our heart…..

Sunday’s Worship Song List:

Sunday 10/23/2011 addendum

Text for this Sunday, Matthew 6:19-24

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

I don’t know if we’ll get all the way through this passage on Sunday (don’t laugh please), but atleast this is where we’ll start.

What does it mean to store up treasures in heaven, as opposed to storing them on earth?  What does it mean to have a healthy eye and so have a life full of light, as opposed to an unhealthy eye, and have a life full of darkness?  What does it mean to have God as my master, as opposed to something else mastering me, like money?

Jesus is using three vivid analogies to illustrate that we have a decision to make, and the decision is, “Whom are we for in life?”.  That’s the question that Jesus is using to cause His disciples to do some self-evaluation.  Whom are are you for in life?  Is your life ultimately about you, or is your life ultimately about your God?  Whom do you serve?  Whom do you really worship?  Whom do you consider first?  Where we store our “treasure”, which kind of eye we choose to see through, and who we call our master will help us answer that ultimate question… “Whom are we for in life?”

Let us prayerfully prepare ourselves to hear from the Lord this Sunday, and trust Him to give us both the courage to be honest with Him and the faith to be transformed into people who are truly “for Him”.

 

 

Sunday Service 10/16/11

This week’s Scripture text:

Matthew 6:16-18

16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your 
Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

In this week’s text Jesus returns to His warning the disciples about hypocrisy.  He has talked about hypocrisy in giving and in prayer, and in these verses He talks about hypocrisy in fasting.  Fasting is certainly not prohibited by Jesus, but He does make it clear that we must check our motives for why we fast.  Each of the three examples of hypocrisy that Jesus has given in chapter 6 have been examples of different scenarios in which we come to God in a kind of “fake worship”; pretending to hunger after God when our true heart’s desire is to be seen by others as being holy or spiritual.
If Jesus took up half a chapter dealing with this issue…at the very outset of His teaching ministry, and devoted 3 distinct illustrations of it, then shouldn’t we take notice that this is something He really wants us to watch out for in our own hearts?  What about you?  What areas of your own heart a prone to pretend with God?  What impact does that have in our relationship with God?  How does it impact our service for God?  And most importantly, how do we get out from underneath that kind of “performance mentality” and stop faking it with Him?
Again, let’s be prayed up and ready to hear from the Lord this Sunday.

What Forgiveness IS and IS NOT

This past Sunday we spent time in Matthew 6:14-15 where Jesus emphasized the importance of forgiving others.  During the sermon I referenced a chart I had run across to help define what forgiveness is, and what it is not.  I also mentioned that I would put it up on this blog, and am just now getting to that.  Anyways, I pray this helps you as much as it has helped me in understanding the kind of forgiveness I need to be able to offer to others.  Because the Gospel is true, we can trust in Jesus to transform us into forgiving people.  Amen?

Here’s the chart (I did not come up with this, and I don’t know whom to credit, except that I found it at preceptaustin.org, which is a great online Bible study tool):

FORGIVENESS –
WHAT IT IS AND IS NOT

FORGIVENESS IS…

FORGIVENESS IS NOT…

A choice
An act of one’s will.

A
feeling

.Based on the truth that God
in Christ has forgiven us
Eph 4:32

Based on
what is “fair”

Supernatural

Natural

Spirit
empowered

A legalistic or fleshly
“grit your teeth” response

Emanates from a renewed mind
Eph 4:23

“Mind over matter”
2Co 3:56

Unconditional

Conditional

From a new heart
Mt 18:35Ezek 36:2627

Just with your lips…
“I forgive you”

Often a process
Mt 18:22

Usually a one time act
Lk 17:3

To be “holistic”
Canceling the entire debt

Selective or partial
“Stuffing” or suppressing your anger

 Acknowledges
the debt owed you.

Pretend that you
were never hurt

Commanded as a lifestyle
Mk 11:25

A suggestion or
an occasional behavior

Allows God to execute His justice
in His time and way.
Ro 12:19

Circumventing
God’s justice
Ro 12:17

Moving the guilty from
your hook to God’s hook.

Letting the guilty
“off the hook”

Possible with only
one party

Reconciliation
which needs both parties

Acknowledging unjust behavior is
inexcusable, yet still forgiving.

Excusing
unjust behavior

Complete…
Resolving the anger/resentment
by releasing the offense and offender

Incomplete…
Keeping a record of the wrongs
1Cor 13:5

Feeling the hurt
but releasing it.

Denying that
you hurt

Includes remembering
before you can forgive

Forgetting

I added one more in the sermon….forgiveness is not “earned or deserved”….it is given as a gift.

Father, make us more forgiving…in light of the grace with which You have forgiven us!

Sunday Service 10/9/11

This Sunday…

Matthew 6:14-15

 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Why does Jesus say this, and what does it mean?  Does this mean that God will forgive me because I forgive others, and conversely, if I don’t forgive others then I will not be forgiven by God and that the reason for my not being forgiven is because of my unforgiveness toward others? What exactly is Jesus saying, and what is He not saying.  Certainly there are extremes to avoid here, but after we untangle ourselves from those extremes, it is clear that Jesus is teaching about unforgiveness.  He wants His disciples to forgive those who sin against them, and teaches that there are serious consequences for not forgiving others.

Harboring unforgiveness is serious business with God, and indicates that something is amiss in our walk with the Lord.  So, what about you.  Is there someone you need to forgive?  Why do we tend to hold on to unforgiveness, what does forgiveness look like in practice, and where can we find the strength to forgive those who have wronged us?

Let’s prayerfully ready ourselves to hear from God about these things this weekend.