I, along with a number of my friends and about a gazillion other people, have been challenged by Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. I first wrote on it in August, 2010 in my post Happy 5th Anniversary to Me!!!. 6 months later, this book continues to come up in conversations with friends and family. Platt states things like…
- Today, over a billion people live (and die) in desperate poverty (less than a dollar a day).
- Close to two billion others live on less than two dollars a day.
- 30,000 children today will breathe their last breath due to either starvation or a preventable disease.
How do you and I feel about that? Do we believe it? It’s hard to make those kinds of statistics real. I just stumbled on a a new website…Global Rich List. According to their formula, if your annual income is $50,000 (US$) you are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world (yes…I said WORLD!!!). That means that out of 6,775,235,741 (that’s 6.775 BILLION!!) people in the world….you are # 59,029,289 (that’s 59 MILLION) At $125,000 (US$) it jumps to the top 1/2 percent; and you are # 29,907,929 (that’s 29.9 MILLION).
So, what are we called to do with all this money? Buy a bigger house? Buy a fancier car? The latest smart phone?? Guilty!!! I am soooo tempted now that Verizon and iPhone are working together!!! It’s getting harder and harder to hang on to my stuff; and I am getting ready to give it all away…in a reactionary way….wanting to purge myself of stuff that I feel like just weighs me down. Not to mention, I have to step over it, dust it, move it to make room for more, etc. It just makes me tired…really tired! Thankfully, Louis is slowing me down (so I don’t do something TOTALLY radical!!!) as we continue to pray through what God is calling us to do. Jumping into the deep end can be scary….so I think we will wade in. So…watch for us to have a big ole yard sale this spring. Our goal is to use the proceeds for the community. We have a small “sock fund” that we use to meet needs in the community ~ treat the kids to ice cream, pizza, or after school snacks, school supplies, Bibles, community meals, hats, gloves, and socks for those in the cold, etc.
On a more practical side…we have already been taking steps to decrease spending, out of necessity…with my corporate job ending and making a move to more community work (which has been a long time coming!). But, also out of a sense of calling…to be good stewards of what God provides us. A few examples…
- Why should we give over $100/mo. to Comcast when we watch only…maybe… an hour or 2 a week? So…we are now on the basic cable plan! It meets our needs…thanks to free programs like Hulu and inexpensive plans like Netflix!
- Got new bids on our home/car insurance and saved a TON of money there!
- Returning to coupon clipping…altho it seems they are never with me when I go to the store! Gotta work on that one!
- Louis continues to drive his ole “beater”. (I’ve called it that after it was totaled by our insurance company after it was vandalized multiple times by a neighborhood kid who acted out at us.) We want to pay cash for a new new-to-us (also known as used or previously owned) replacement. Or maybe we will continue to share the other car. I’m learning how to navigate the Richmond’s public transportation system! It’s been years since I rode the bus!
So…a lot of us are either being forced into reducing expenses due to economic downturn, or are choosing to cut back or do with less, maybe out of an urging from the Holy Spirit. What steps are you taking? What ways are you making that move? Would love to hear from some of you. Would love to hear more ideas on ways to save and ways to give more or do without.
Do you ever have some days that are just better than others? I guess we all do! When Louis and I were in Austin for Verge 2010 we learned this song by the Aaron Ivey Band…Oh Happy Day! It’s not the Oh Happy Day that we have all heard before…but a new and different one.Oh Happy Day! Happy Day! You washed my sin away! Oh Happy Day! Happy Day! I’ll never be the same! Forever I am changed!
Celebrate! Jesus is alive!
The quality of the video isn’t the best…but take a listen….You will get the drift of it! While in Austin, we found ourselves jumpin’ up and down just like these kids were!
This is how I feel today! So, you are probably wondering why. I’m not quite sure, but I am going to process it here for a minute. I was just sittin’ here taking a break from work for a moment…looking out the window of my office and was filled with this sense of peace and joy.
Louis and I had scheduled our 2nd retreat for yesterday evening, which didn’t turn out quite like we thought it would, for we had planned to go back to Richmond Hill. But our friend, Marc came by for a visit, which turned out to be a wonderful gift from the Lord! As we sat and talked for hours, the Lord revealed much to us. Later, Louis and I decided to review our list of questions from our previous retreat (which can be found in Enjoy the Journey), and we had received answers or confirmations to many of our questions.
In a nutshell….our answers were centered around the verse…Matthew 6:33:But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
So…today, as I reflect on yesterday’s conversation, I look out the window and see how the birds are provided food and water. Sometimes the Lord uses nature to feed those birds…where the birds have to work and work hard for their keep. Other times…there are people like me who provide it through a feeder and a birdbath…making it really easy for them. Regardless, the birds…they get some food and water.
So, with Louis going half-time and my job coming to an end some time this year, questions come up like…how are we going to make money and pay the bills? Sometimes there is a slight panic (or not so slight panic!) that Louis needs to hurry up and find something to earn additional money. But, we have been sensing… “not yet”. Then, yesterday…the answer became clear! Seek ye first the kingdom! We need to do what the Lord has called us to do to seek the kingdom…not seek money or jobs…but the kingdom. Then Lord will provide when the time comes. We need to keep our priorities straight.
This thought then led me to when God provided manna from heaven for His people when they wandered in the desert. As Louis and I had our retreat in our own home, we listed the times just recently that our Lord provided for us in many ways….in surprising ways…to meet our needs….our “manna from heaven”.
Some folks like to say that the Bible isn’t relevant today…or that miracles don’t happen in modern times. But I am here to encourage you….THEY DO! We just have to be open to seeing them!
Marc, Louis and I were talking just yesterday….that our journey of faith holds many levels. First…we READ stories of faith and provision in the Bible…stories of those who have gone before us. Then, we HEAR the stories of our friends and families who tell of their faith journeys. Then…the sweet spot…the best…..is when you have your own stories to TELL!
If that isn’t worth shouting about…I don’t know what it! As Shirley Caesar and Marc taught me…”Hold my mule. I’m gonna shout right now!…That’s how I feel right now!…I feel like praisin’ Him!”
So…If you didn’t read yesterday’s post (Change of Heart…Just in Time) be sure to. Otherwise, this one MIGHT not make a whole lot of sense.
I wonder…what would have happened if we decided to go out to dinner that night…or if we hadn’t gone out on Saturday night…or if I had in fact kicked Louis to the curb before this night….if I hadn’t given him another chance like my friends were encouraging….or if we had met back in the summer of 2007 instead of the end of December. ANY number of decisions could have changed the rest of this story…in SOOO many ways. Personally…I’m thankful they turned out the way that they did. So, I had a change in heart…just in time…for such a time as this. To be there…the night Frank got shot…..4 weeks after Louis and I had our first date.
Let’s pick up there.
It was about 8:30p on that Sunday night, January 27, 2008. After seeing the crime from the breakfast nook window, Louis went running out the door…stepping off the retaining wall (this was b4 the fence was built) onto the sidewalk and into the curb where the victim laid. He stopped and just looked at him for a moment…and I wondered…what is he doing? And mentally screamed…Give him first aid!!! I found out later that Louis was stopping to say a quick prayer before he did another thing. (Shame on me!!!)
I ran back into the house to grab some towels sitting on the dryer and some plastic grocery bags to use as gloves. I had been first aid trained many years ago, but have never had the use for the training (gratefully). Neither of us are medically trained, but we did have the Holy Spirit to guide us…and that was all the wisdom we needed! Louis took his lower body and I took the upper body. Frank was laying on his right side with his head in my lap. Not knowing whether a bullet had hit his spinal column or not, I braced his head in my lap. At that time, we found 3 wounds – left shoulder, gut and left leg. Later we learned that he was shot 9 times – left shoulder, left leg, right upper chest, right hand, and 5 times in the gut.
As he laid there while we attended to his injuries, I encouraged him and asked him a few pertinent questions ~ name, next of kin and her number, who shot him (he didn’t know), age, etc. Only one other person came to his assistance, held his hand for a moment, prayed and ran back in the house. I was so thankful for my neighbor! No one else came.
Then, Frank stopped talking to me. As his head laid in my lap, I encouraged him, prayed and stated, Frank…I know you are scared. I know that you are hurting. But, we are here to help; and you are going to fine. If you can’t say another word, just call on the name of Jesus. There is power in just His name. At this very second, Frank reached up with his left hand and grabbed my thigh. I knew then…that he was calling on the precious, healing name of Jesus. Frank would indeed live.
Although we had told the kids to stay inside, I remember looking up to see Lil Mike standing on the retaining wall looking down. What a frightening scene for a 14-year-old to see up close. Not to mention, I found out later that he knew Frank. I yelled for them to get inside…only for them to move to the front porch where they could still see from a distance.
The first responders (police, fire department, and ambulance) started to arrive. It was so surreal. Watching over Louis’ shoulder as the yellow tape was strung and people started gathering behind it. Fire Trucks. Police Cars. Sirens. ambulance. One officer gathered information from me while I was still with Frank. The paramedics arrived; and I was able to given them vitals:
Satan meant for him to die, but our Lord. He has other plans for Frank!
I have to admit…I have been very preoccupied the last couple of days. I typically write the first draft of my post a day or 2 in advance….and then tweak it as the “due date” looms. Well…due to distractions that regular life has brought me AND the recent funeral today plus the death of my neighbor’s grandson…I’m doubly distracted and not processing very well. So, I’m picking an easy (and welcomed!) topic today! Back to Louis and Me!!! YAY!! I can hear my friend Jeanine cheering! She encourages me to write more…and not to leave her hanging because she hasn’t heard the story before! So, Jeanine…this is for you!!! Thanks for your encouragement!! I need it! btw – check out her beautiful photography blog by clicking her name anywhere in this post!
Ok…so I left off with praying for the other ½ of my pair and Don telling me about a guy who never calls….right? If you need to catch up….click Louis and Me! in the sidebar to the right…
Marc continued to come into work…encouraging me…and telling me that he had been “puttin’ in knee time” for me! I still had my own copy of the list that I was praying over…along with my 2 friends’ lists (who I am STILL praying for!!!!!).
The work merger had been announced in the spring…and we were alllll wondering…whether our jobs were moving to St Louis (StL). That fall, the word came. Yes, my team’s jobs were moving. I was a leader of about 40 people in 2 locations, Richmond and StL….with about 25-30 people in Richmond…and they were deciding that all the jobs had to located in StL. I was praying for my team and me…for good decisions. (btw – some of them are still looking for jobs if you know of any open HR/Recruiting gigs in Richmond!!!)
I spent a many many night on my face asking the Lord if I should move to StL. I said…if that is what you are asking, then that is what I would do. I asked Him if I would meet my other ½ in StL? But that just never landed on me right. The Lord had said I would meet the other ½ of my pair to serve SBH. So how could I move, right?
But, I prayed for confirmation. And received it. I told my manager that I would NOT make the move. No amount of money or job position could convince me to move. But, fears set in. How would I make a living? Where would I get a job, etc? It was definitely a faith building time for me! I had to trust the Lord.
Meanwhile, I was sooo sure that I was going to meet the other ½ in December 2007, I stopped praying for it! Yes….let me repeat, I stopped praying for it to happen. I even told Marc to stop praying…but he insistently prayed although I said that God had already answered. (Love me some Marc Lundy!!
Before long, I joined a short 6-week Bible study at Needle’s Eye Ministries on Faith. It was now October-November 2007…coming up on the December date the Lord gave me! Figuring…if there was anytime I needed faith…I needed it now. This group of about 25 women gathered every week for 6 weeks at their office. I barely knew a soul!!! After Susan led us in our study, we always closed in prayer. I shared my story and asked them not to pray for my other ½ in the same way – that he would show…but to actually pray FOR him to prepare him. I often wondered if he knew what he was about to get himself into. So, the ladies agreed to join me in praying FOR him. I thank God for these ladies, whose names and prayer requests are in that journal! As I look down the list this evening, I wonder what other prayers have been answered?!?!
But, allow me to remind you…nearly 2 years had gone by since I prayed for the “bone” in December 2005. I had been praying for God to send me a husband. Over the following year, 2006, the Holy Spirit had used many situations, Don Coleman and Luke 10:1-7 to change my desires and my prayers. In early 2007, I had started praying for the other ½ of my pair in ministry to SBH. I had begun praying the will of God instead of Marti’s.
Learnings for me,
- Take prayer requests seriously. If you say Yes to pray for someone, be sure to do it. Don’t take it lightly. It’s serious business!!
- Be careful what you pray for….you just might get it!
- I’m often astounded at the sheer number of people God uses in this story. He doesn’t need to use us, but it is sooo fun when He does. At any point, if someone said “NO! Lord!”…the story may have turned out differently. Just like the story of Marcellous. If Marc, Emmanuel or I had said “NO! Lord!” at any point…the results might look different.
- These stories consistently remind me of the importance of listening and obeying. We are robbed of the blessing of being used by God when we say “NO! Lord!” Like the Nike slogan….”Just do it!” comes to mind!
Jeanine…sorry, I am going to leave you hanging…..AGAIN! Hugs to you!
I got to know Fritz Kling when I participated in RCLI (Richmond Christian Leadership Institute) in 2008-2009. You will hear more about RCLI in future posts. But…here are my 2 shameless plugs.
RCLI is accepting applications for its 4th class – 2010-2011.
Annually, RCLI selects a diverse cross-section of young Christian leaders, age 25 – 40 (yes…they made an exception for me….I was definitely over 40!!!), to participate in a nine-month leadership development program that connects them with each other and equips them for biblically-grounded, Christ-centered service in the Richmond, Virginia region.
Beginning with the overnight retreat in September and continuing through their June commissioning ceremony, the “students” gather one Friday evening and Saturday each month to explore issues confronting our region and to consider them from a Christ-centered perspective. A wide array of churches host these monthly sessions, providing a glimpse of the rich diversity of ways through which Christians worship and serve God.
Check out RCLI to apply! (Link is also in the sidebar to the right!) DEADLINE: April 1, 2010.
Fritz Kling authors and publishes his first book!
RCLI is also the brainchild of Fritz Kling. He recently wrote and released his first (of many, I hope!!!) books, The Meeting of the Waters. I can’t wait to purchase my own autographed copy! Here’s the trailer….Enjoy! May the Lord richly bless Fritz and his hard work and many late nights. May God be glorified through his book!!!!!