We Are the Hunger

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We Are the Hunger

A version of this post originally ran in August 2012.  I got a nudge on Saturday from God to rerun it. You’re welcome.

… and if you offer yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday.  ~ Isaiah 58:10

Enjoying the summer weather on the beach in Florida is a favorite past time for many and the other day found me with a bunch a people who’d picnicked together and throughout the day, eaten our fill of fried chicken, baked beans, coleslaw … the works … complete with several desserts.   As we were packing up to leave there was a little more than half a chicken left, some baked beans, some pieces of fruit and a bunch of cookies.  No one wanted to take them and I watched as our hostess moved to throw them away.

Horrified, I stopped her.  “Let me take them,” I said.  “Surely there has got to be some homeless around I can give this too.”  The hostess shrugged and packed up the food in a large plastic grocery bag for me.

A man who’d overheard me waved his hand in a flourish and asked, “Who’s hungry around here?”

I looked at him incredulously and countered, “How many streets west do you think you’d have to drive before you’re out of the multi-million dollar beach front?”

“About six, I’d guess.”

“Well, in about six blocks I bet I run across some hungry people.”  I took the bag full of leftovers and trudged off through the sand to find some homeless.

I don’t know what made me turn down that particular street, but as I drove slowly into this area I saw a few people fishing from a pier and a lady walking toward me with a little dog on a length of string.  She was quite thin, had lovely long wavy blond hair, and had on a shirt, cut-off denim shorts, and flip flops.  Our paths were going to intersect and as she got closer, I stopped my car and rolled down my window.

“Excuse me,” I called out.  She looked up and made her way to my car.

Coming closer I could see that she wasn’t just slender – she was rail-thin.  The kind of skinny you get when you don’t have enough to eat.  She also looked much older than I originally thought she was and I could see her hair wasn’t blond at all, but gray.  I’m not good with ages, especially when someone has lived a hard life, but it didn’t matter in my mission.

“Do you know of any homeless around here or anyone who is hungry?”  I asked.

What a question, I thought to myself.  Do you ever say something and then have that sinking feeling that you could have said what you said a whole lot more eloquently?  I smiled expectantly at her hoping to erase that awful inquiry as the words hung between us.

She smiled an almost toothless grin and said, “We are.  We are the hunger.”

“Oh good,” I blurted out.

What was wrong with me?  I thought to myself.  I continued quickly, “I don’t mean good that you’re hungry, but good that I found you because I have some food.”

She laughed and repeated, “We are hunger.”  I guess she knew what I meant.  I handed over my bag of leftovers, immediately sorry I didn’t have more.

Taking the food, she looked me in the eye and said, “God bless you.”  I shook my head not at all in a position to accept the blessing – she was blessing me!  For a few scraps of food!  It was too much!  mainly because I know that only a slight twist in my own past could have easily put me in her position.

I don’t know about you but I get angry that there are hungry people in the US, one of the wealthiest nations on the planet.  And I get irritated when I hear people with more than enough questioning the fact that there are actually people in need right here in our neighborhood.  And I become very sad that we, as a nation, don’t do enough to make sure that there are no homeless and no person going hungry.

Jesus said we will always have the poor with us.  (Matthew 26:11)  It’s what we do for them and how we treat them that defines us as a society.

But on this day I slid my car out of park and drove slowly away wiping tears with the back of my hand and repeating her words …

We are the hunger.

 

 

End of the World?

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This is a re-post from a blog of a talented Christian woman and artist named Patsy Paterno.  I’ve been following her blog HeARTworks for a couple years and am always amazed by her art and blessed by her message.

“The Son of Man is coming at the time you least expect.” Matthew 24:44

Yesterday I was curious about what my father was so concentrated on and when I asked him, he showed me this website which had so many pictures of oil spills, garbage in Manila and India, smog in China, a multitude of fish dead in the sea and a polar bear teetering on what was left of his ice perch. The title was sort of, “How We Know the End of the World is Coming”.
An inordinate percentage of people believe Jesus is coming soon. 41% of Americans say Jesus will return within the next 40 years. What’s ironic is even if they believe, they do not prepare or make themselves ready for the eventuality. Jesus Himself compared this to a master off on a trip. His servants know he is coming back but they do not know when. Some are faithful, far-sighted and diligent. When the master arrives, they are at work and ready to take care of whatever he needs. Others however take the opportunity to go out, become drunk with worthless friends. “Stay awake!” Jesus tells His disciples. This is insider information! “You must be prepared!”
Lord, I know I must be prepared to meet You at any time today, tomorrow or the next day. Help me to be more zealous about obeying You, and loving You and my neighbor!
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About Patsy:  Greetings from the Philippines! My name is Patsy and I’ve been married for 19 years to a man with a good heart. We have one son who is as funny as his dad. I have been working in our family business, papemelroti, since I was 11. When I get home from work, I stay in my craft room and make collages, scrapbook layouts, ATCs, and think of ways to re-use things normal people would throw away. I would be happy for you to use anything on my blog, but please link to me and leave me a comment. I want to be passionate about God’s passions so I also made a blog, Hebrews 13:3, about our service in the QC Jail.

ScripturePicture ~ Psalm 71:8

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Psalm 71-8

I chose the Angel Trumpet for this ScripturePicture because it is so so beautiful and paired perfectly with the Message version of this verse. But I have to say, since we’re talking about praise this week (at least so far), I really like the way it reads in the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

My mouth is full of praise and honor to You all day long. ~ Psalm 71:8

Psalm 71 is primarily David asking for God’s help in his old age and there is so much good to read and study here.  Though you wonder why we should praise God all day long?  Maybe you should return to my praises of yesterday (here) for a couple of ideas.  What has God done for you?  Start to write it down.  You may have already thanked Him for it, but you can remember what He has done by praising Him – daily.  And if you’re anything like me you can easily become distracted and stop thanking and stop praising and sooner or later you’ll stop loving God as much as you do today.  You’ll be like the church at Ephesus which Jesus rebukes because they lost their first love … Him.  (Revelation 2:4)

Let us not forget our first love, Jesus the Christ, our Messiah.  I love this verse that comes at the end of Psalm 71 (emphasis mine):

My lips with shout for joy when I sing praise to You because You have redeemed me.  Therefore my tongue will proclaim your righteousness all day long. ~ Psalm 71:23-24a

… because You have redeemed me.  Can there be anything better?

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

 

Shout Praise to the Lord!

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SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!Tim Keller Book

He is my Rock and my Salvation.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

He is my ever present help in times of distress.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

He is my strength in times of weakness.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

He is my ally in times of joyous celebration.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

He is my protector in times of trouble.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

He forgives what is, to me, unforgivable.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

He is faithful to abide by His promises.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

Without Him I would not be where I am today.

SHOUT PRAISE TO THE LORD!

His glory shall shine on Earth and in Heaven forever.

 

It’s good to shout praises to the Lord.  I was just reading the devotion for today in Timothy Keller’s “The Songs of Jesus” (based on Psalm 95: 1-4) and while I usually don’t praise God out loud, except for singing worship songs, this entry made me want to.  Really shout.  And what you read above is what I really and truly shouted.

And it felt good.

It made me smile.

It warmed my heart.

I think God liked it.

I kept doing it!

Try it.  I’ll bet you’ll want to do it again too!

 

The Quickening

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The Quickening

Is it fiction, or is it real?

There’s a quickening occurring and it’s got me curious.

Oh I’ve been noticing it for a couple of years now.  Time speeding up … and not just because I’m getting older.  But an unearthly accelerating is occurring on many fronts and I’m wondering … what’s coming?

Morals and customs have been pushed to the breaking point and soon, too soon, everything will be permissible and good if you want to do it.  Truth is relative.  What is my truth isn’t and doesn’t have to be your truth.  It’s amazing how far we, as a society, have strayed from God’s Word – the Ultimate Truth.

Our political system appears to be out of control.  Laws are broken by the elite of society with hardly a wrist-slap as punishment.  Presidents can circumvent Congress to make new laws at their slightest whim and even the Supreme Court has taken up the law-making business … which isn’t their business at all.  And there is no reaction, no repercussion.  The world just keeps turning.

Less than 1% of children and teenagers in the world get cancer.  Alternatively, advancing age is a precursor to get this and other deadly diseases and the larger the older population gets in America the more we’ll see.  Yet I’ve noticed that recently so many people in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s are being diagnosed and sidelined.  It seems almost every day I hear of some relatively young person who has been diagnosed with some dreadful affliction.

Persecution of Christians and Jews is at an all-time high.  The nightly news seemingly can’t be aired unless there is at least one report of another terrorist attack, another push of insurgents, another bombing, stabbing, or other killing.

Never before in my existence has life seemed so disjointed.

I look around me and see people handling these happenings in many different ways, not any of which are particularly useful.  There’s the head-in-the-sanders, the I’ll-just-binge-watch-another-zombie-moviers, tons of shoulder-shruggers, (say that 5 times fast!) and an indignant remnant who want to make life ‘right’ again but honestly don’t know how to begin to accomplish that.

I don’t want to scare you.  Or do I?

I don’t think there’s much we mortals can do about what is happening but cling hard to Christ as the world spins out of control.

Have you read Daniel?  I think we’re still waiting for the last 10% of his prophesy to be completed.  What about Revelation?  Reading that awesome book definitely proclaims that the writing is on the wall.

To quote Daniel 5:27 in the NIV – we’ve “been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

What should be our response?

First and foremost, Christians must remember that nothing happens on this earth without God allowing it to occur.

I believe when we are facing individual trials, God is training us up.  Testing our faith.  I travel in circles with a substantial number of born-again Christians.  The fact that so many Christ Followers are hearing the awful news of a cancer diagnosis, reeling from the devastation of job loss and damage to their livelihoods, even losing their homes; makes me wonder if God isn’t quickening the building of our faith to ensure those who are worthy are ready for that day when the trumpet is sounded.

But when we’re faced with national trials, perhaps God is judging us corporately.  All too frequently in the Bible, God allows wayward and stiff-necked nations to go to their own ruin.

Regrettably, it seems to be happening here.  People may want to blame God for what is happening, but how can they?  They simply don’t want to take responsibility for their part in the play.  It’s so much easier to point a finger at and blame a God you don’t even believe in.

While I was contemplating this post, God sent me into 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 (HCSB). What I found there was both comforting and chilling.

“Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches — about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you endure.  It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength in that day when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admired by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed.”

Individual trials and/or nationwide tribulation, we can rest assured that this is by God.  How?  Remember – nothing is done without His permission.  Not by Satan, not by demons, not by unbelievers, nor even by believers.

He is on the throne and in control.

That is what we are to take hold of, Christian.

He is the Creator, our Judge, our Father, and our Savior.  He is faithful. He is loving.

And above all … He reigns.

 

Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

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Feeding 5,000 & Other Miracles

Recently we discussed the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in a Bible Bite of John 6:12, which if you missed, you can just click HERE and have a nosh.

But let’s not stop there.  I wanted to turn that Bible Bite into a full blown Scripture Snack and look at the next verse too!

So they collected them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. ~ John 6:13

What’s so interesting is that along with John, Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record this miracle and each mentions 12 baskets of scraps.  In the Bible, the number 12 usually signifies God’s power and authority.  There were 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples, 12,000 of 12 tribes (144,000) to witness in the end times. {Check out biblestudy.org which goes into great detail about the number 12 in the Bible.}

It’s certainly a marvelous display of His divine authority to multiply five barley cakes and two fish from a young boy’s sack lunch!

Loaves and FishesWe don’t know how large the baskets were.  Were they small handmaiden, Sunday-go-to-meetin’ baskets or were they large collecting hay and straw baskets?  Does it matter?  There were over 5,000 people that ate their supper on a mountainside that day provided by a blessed-by-God sack lunch.

Who is this then who can feed over 5,000 with a few choice items?

And does He continue to send us the miracle of multiplication today?  He sure does, and I’m a witness.

Dateline Chandler, Arizona and I was attending a small group going through the ALPHA program.  The hosts are a lovely couple and each Wednesday night as we gathered for group, they would feed us dinner prior to our worship and study.  Eventually the group began to divvy up the responsibility and soon we were each bringing a portion – making it a pot luck meal.  It’s also important to know that the hosts have two sons that were both steeped in ministry in different churches.  So we had a core group of 12 participants plus at any given time we might have up to 4 guests.

One week, close to the end of the program, we had planned a fried chicken dinner.  Two people would each bring a 20-piece bucket of chicken from KFC and the rest of us added the sides and desserts.  On that Wednesday night I arrived with my ‘famous’ potato salad in hand, and walked into the house where an issue was erupting – one of the group members’ car had broken down and two people had forgotten their food.  The main concern was that the person who had broken down was one of the ones that was supposed to bring chicken making our total 20 pieces chicken for 13 people.

We decided as a group that we’d start by everyone having one piece of chicken and load up on sides.  I took a thigh and passed the bucket to the man next to me who loaded his plate with three pieces!  I started to say something but then realized that (1) he hadn’t been in the room when we discussed the one-piece business and (2) the bucket was almost around the table so everyone would get chicken.

After we’d finished eating a couple of the participants had gotten up for seconds and the guy who had been next to me walked back to the table with another piece of chicken!  My mouth watered as I watched him tuck in so I got up hoping that there might be a wing left in the bucket.  I peered in and was surprised to see two pieces of chicken left – a wing and a thigh.  I scooped up the wing and made quick work of it.

We finished dinner and moved into the living room to begin the study.  While we were immersed in Pastor Gumbel’s video message and subsequent discussion, the host’s two sons arrived.  I overheard their Mom tell them that there probably wasn’t much left but they were welcome to whatever was there.  We continued to discuss our study and both sons filled their plates and came in to join us.  I was amazed to see that BOTH had TWO pieces of chicken on their plates!  Driving home that evening I contemplated chicken.

When I took the last wing out of the bucket there was one piece left – a thigh.  I quickly start to think about what everyone ate at dinner.  I know that 4 guys had (at least) 2 pieces each (8), I had 2 pieces (10), the guy next to me had 4 pieces (14), and everyone at the table ate chicken so I figured that the remaining 4 women and 3 children each had one piece (21) and then the boys came home and had 2 pieces each (25).  I was astounded!  I counted up the numbers over and over making sure my math was right.

Arriving at ALPHA the next week I was so enthusiastic to discuss my observations I didn’t even sit down before starting, “Before we get started I have to discuss something about last week’s dinner.”

The group looked expectantly at me and the host blurted out, “The miracle of multiplication!”  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who had caught what God had done.  I smiled and looked at him, his eyes were twinkling.

“We witnessed a miracle, didn’t we?” I asked.  He agreed and we filled the group in on what had happened.  As I laid out what I deduced I was interrupted as several of guys revealed they’d actually had three pieces and a couple of the ladies had two rather than the one I’d concluded.  If all that wasn’t amazing enough … remember the guy who sat next to me stuffing down all that chicken?  He pronounced that he couldn’t believe I’d left that thigh in the bucket and figuring that everyone was done eating, he ate the thigh!  That meant that by the time the host’s sons arrived, there actually was an empty bucket – should have been an empty bucket and yet they pulled out 4 pieces of chicken.  Isn’t God great?  We had such a glorious time of worship that night … pouring out our love to our Father … our amazing Provider.

In hind sight it was silly, really. God providing chicken to some of the best fed people in the world.  He didn’t have to do it, no one in that room was anywhere close to actual need, no one was going to go hungry, and no one was dying of starvation.  But He did it anyway ~ He broke chicken and fed us all until we were full with no scraps left over.

What a blessing!  How astounding that the Creator of the Universe provides for us!

Has He provided for you in some manner?  Let me know!

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*** One other juicy tidbit: this miracle (the feeding of the 5,000) is one of only two miracles that appear in all four Gospels.  The other being Jesus’ own resurrection.

 

Through Jesus’ Eyes

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Through Jesus’ Eyes

I was thinking the other day about how Jesus loved everyone while He walked on earth.  Of course He loves everyone even today, but think about it.  He loved every sinner … the lame, the diseased, the hungry, the poor, the disciples, Herod, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and even us, before we were born.  Every. Single. One.

And we’re supposed to be like Him.

Huh?

I can’t do that.

I want to, but I always seem to fall short of the goal.  My selfish nature worms its way into the mix and trips me up.

Oh, I’ve gotten better at it the longer I’ve walked with God, but it’s still a struggle and I often wonder if I’ll ever be like Christ.

Some of my favorite scriptures about this can be found in 1 John 3: 16, 18, and 23:

16 This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us.  We should also lay down our lives for our brothers.

18 Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth;

23 Now this is His command: that we believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another as He commanded us.

Can I love others better?

Absolutely.  I’d hate to think that I couldn’t grow from where I sit today.  But how to do that?  Where to start?

I started by asking God to help me to see people through His eyes.  He didn’t waste any time answering me.

Within days I noticed a slightly perceptible change in the way I was viewing people.  I might be able to describe the change like this … people started looking softer to me.  Fuzzy around the edges.  More pliable, perhaps weaker … but not in a bad way.  Easily injured.  Almost as though everyone’s heart was very close to the surface, even if they thought that they had thick skin.

Lots of changes came quickly for me after that, but most importantly was the way I treated others.  I became outwardly kinder – more considerate.  I’m softer with others.  Not so quick to judge.  And if I do make that mistake, I apologize – quickly – to the person and to God.

I also started really listening to the way people spoke to each other.  Sometimes I overhear one person talking to another and I cringe.  I wonder … if we even had half a clue about the damage our speech does to others would we stop?  Would we zip our lips?  If we could see the internal destruction, would we place our heads in our hands and cry?

If we didn’t I don’t think we could call ourselves Christ’s followers.

Will you try this, this weekend, dear friend?  Will you ask God to show you how He sees people?  Be ready.  He will do it and you will be astounded.

Prayer:

Father, please be gentle with us.  We know you want us to grow into a mirror image of your Son, but we are mere humans, warriors for you and yet fragile beings in this sinful world we live in.  Help us to view others through your eyes and keep us strong through the reality we will begin to see.  Through this change in understanding we will become stronger and more able to bring your love to the world.  In the name above every other name, our Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

ScripturePicture: Deuteronomy 32:2

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De 32-2

I’m thirsty.

Are there days when you get up and get moving and don’t stop to read His word?

Me too.

And on those days do you find yourself, perhaps mid-day, craving Him?  Oh you know immediately what the “problem” is … you know what’s wrong.

You didn’t allow Him to talk to you that morning and now you feel empty.

It’s not enough to pray – I pray all the time.  Devotionals are not enough – I read a few of those most mornings.  But I need HIM in my life – daily.  As surely as some people need their hit of caffeine in the morning – I need my full measure of God.

I’m writing this Tuesday (yesterday) afternoon after running around all day from about the moment I fell out of bed.  If I don’t go talk to Him right now and let His love and His teaching wash over me, I’m going to go cray cray … I think literally.

If you haven’t yet today, go pour yourself a tall cool glass of Him and quench your thirst.

I’ll see you by the water cooler,

Felecia

 

Bones of My Soul

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Every once in a while I like to try my hand at poetry …

Bones of My Soul BS

Let your past memories slip unnoticed through your soul.  Don’t allow them to anchor, to irritate, or to kidnap your thoughts.  God uses your past but forgets it as soon as it’s over.  It’s an example we should follow … to treat our history in the same manner.  Valuable because it made you what you are today, but already forgotten because you are so much more.

So. Much. More.