Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Floating Hearts

Has your heart ever been so heavy you thought it would never beat again?

This week as I read the story of Prophet Elisha and the floating ax head, the Holy Spirit breathed fresh life into a familiar story.

As one man was cutting down a tree, the head of his ax fell into the water. He yelled, "Oh, my master! I borrowed that ax!"

Elisha asked, "Where did it fall?" The man showed him the place. Then Elisha cut down a stick and threw it into the water, and it made the iron head float. Elisha said, "Pick up the ax head." Then the man reached out and took it. 2 Kings 6:5-7 NCV

In Elisha’s day an ax was a necessary tool for survival. Can you imagine the horror the man felt when the borrowed ax head plunged into the water? He knew it was probably gone forever, but Elisha had a plan and in a matter of moments the iron ax head was floating on top of the water. I’m sure relief flooded over the man’s heart as he snatched it up. The lost had been found!

Jesus cares about the everyday ax head situations in our lives. He has provided godly leaders who love and support us when we are drowning in suffocating circumstances. Our shepherds lead us to the foot of the Cross, where the presence of the Lord has lifting power. The Holy Spirit comforts and strengthens us so we don’t have to live “under” the difficult circumstances of life.

Burdened hearts are heavier than iron ax heads, but when one tiny sliver of Calvary's cross is inserted in a bleeding heart, it can rise with our Savior’s resurrection life and beat again.

Be encouraged today. The God of Elisha is your God, too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Little People

We’ve all experienced it. We’re reading a familiar Bible story, and suddenly the words leap off the page and scream, “This is for you! Yes, you!”

I recently had this experience with the beautiful story of Naaman and the little maid found in 2 Kings 5.

Naaman was a powerful Assyrian leader with a deadly flaw. He had leprosy, a disease that did not discriminate. Even though he was a man in a position of political power and influence, he was susceptible to a common man’s illness.

A little servant girl of Naaman’s wife had the courage to share about Elisha’s power to heal the sick.

So Naaman took a road trip to meet Elisha.

Elisha gave specific instructions for Naaman’s healing. “Go dip in the Jordan River seven times.”

Naaman’s response showed the condition of his heart. He felt he was too important to dip in the muddy Jordan.

Fortunately, Naaman had a wise servant. His counsel was able to put the situation into the proper perspective. “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do some great feat, you would have done it. Now why can't you just wash yourself, as he said, and be cured?”

The servant’s words made sense to Naaman. He obeyed Elisha’s command and was completely healed.

Life application for us:

Many of us feel God has called us to serve, but when lowly service is presented, we respond like Naaman. “I refuse to dip into the muddy Jordan. This is not what I expected ministry to look like.”

But then the Holy Spirit, like Naaman’s faithful servant, responds, “If the Lord had told you to do some great feat, you would have done it. Can you do this little deed for Me?”

I meet people who insist, “God has called me to write.” But when the writing assignments are not huge book contracts, they refuse to write.

How can we solve this problem? I believe it’s an easy fix.

For those who feel the Lord is calling them into ministry:

Begin serving where you are. Don’t let what appears to be lowly service stop you from being a blessing. Remember that even a cup of water given in our Savior’s name will receive a reward one day.

For those who feel called to write for the Lord:

Start writing where you are. God has miraculous ways of getting your writing to the exact places He wants it to be.

The longer I live I am more convinced that God uses “little” people to do “big” things for God. The “biggest” people in God’s kingdom are those who stay “small” in their own eyes.

Will you be like the little maid and let the Lord use you today?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Operation Cinderella

Two years ago our son John married Natasha Stamman. Our beautiful daughter-in-law has been a wonderful addition to our family and a loving wife for John. Natasha’s father and his wife founded Impact Ministries International, a ministry for orphans and the poor of the world.

Last week I went on a missions trip to Honduras with John and Natasha. During the day we mainly camped out at an orphanage in Comayagua and in the evening we attended special church services, supporting local pastors and their ministries. On Sunday, we distributed food and clothing to the poorest of the poor in Honduras. Hundreds of needy souls stood in line for a bar of soap, used clothing, and a bag of rice, corn, and beans.

                                                           Selina's old shoes.....

Selina and Dixie

During the distribution a little girl named Selina came up to me holding a shabby shoe in her hand. She said something in Spanish and I knew she was asking for a new pair of shoes. We had just distributed the last pair. My eyes filled with tears when I told her there were no more shoes. She was devastated, but slipped her foot back into her pitiful shoe. In that moment I realized her foot was about the same size as mine. I kicked off my white flip-flops and gave them to her. She smiled and hugged me tightly. We said our goodbyes and I never expected to see her again because she wasn’t part of the orphanage and didn’t live in Comayagua.

The next night we drove to church. I looked over the large crowd and whispered a prayer for Selina. As we hurried to find a seat, I felt a little tap on my arm. I turned and to see who was wanting my attention. “Selina!”

She pointed at her feet.

“You’re wearing the flip-flops. They look so nice!” I threw my arms around her neck.

Selina linked her arm in mine throughout the praise and worship. Our hearts were cemented together despite our language barriers.

That night when we returned to our motel room, Natasha, John, and I couldn’t stop talking about how a simple pair of flip-flops could bring so much joy to a little girl.

The next evening Natasha and I attended a special women’s meeting. After the service a woman came up to me with a huge smile plastered on her face. She kissed me on the cheek and said something in Spanish.

I shrugged and shook my head. “No, hablo espaƱol.”

Selina's Mother at Ladies Night

She pointed to her feet. I squealed when I recognized the flip-flops. I motioned for our interpreter. “What is she saying?”

Angelica, our interpreter, replied, “She said that she is Selina’s mother and Selina let her borrow the new flip-flops so she could attend the special meeting tonight.”

As I returned to my motel room, I couldn’t help but think how it really is the little things in life that can make huge differences in the lives of the poor. May we all find some way to bless those in need today. I also learned that Cinderella isn’t the only one whose life can be changed by a pair of shoes.

If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor, your cries will go unheard, unanswered. Proverbs 21:13 MSG

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