Tag Archives: Serving

Serve or Die

Dr. Paul Brand told me of his most memorable visitor to Vellore, India, where he directed a leprosy hospital. One day a French friar named Pierre showed up. Over the next few weeks he stayed with the Brands and told them his life’s story. Born into a noble family, he had served in the French Parliament until he became disillusioned with the slow pace of political change. After World War II, thousands of homeless beggars lived in the streets. Pierre could not tolerate the endless debates by noblemen and politicians while so many street people starved outside.

Philip YanceyDuring an unusually harsh winter, many of the Parisian beggars froze to death. Pierre resigned his post and became a Catholic friar to work among them. He concluded his only recourse was to organize the beggars themselves. He taught them to do menial tasks better. They divided into teams to scour the city for bottles and rags. Next, he led them to build a warehouse from discarded bricks and then start a business in which they sorted and processed vast quantities of used bottles from hotels and businesses. Finally, Pierre inspired each beggar by giving him responsibility to help another beggar poorer than himself. The project caught fire, and in a few years an organization called Emmaus was founded.

But now the organization was facing a point of crisis. After years of this work, there were no beggars left in Paris. “I must find somebody for my beggars to help!” he declared. “If I don’t find people worse off than my beggars, this movement could turn inward. They’ll become a powerful, rich organization, and the whole spiritual impact will be lost. They’ll have no one to serve.”

At a leprosy colony in India, five thousand miles away, Abbé Pierre found at last the solution. He met hundreds of leprosy patients, many from the Untouchable caste, worse off in every way than his former beggars. As he met them, his face would break into a huge grin. Returning to his beggars in France, he mobilized them to build a ward at the hospital in Vellore. “No, no, it is you who have saved us,” he told the grateful recipients of his gift in India. “We must serve or we die.”
~ Philip Yancey in Reaching for the Invisible God (239 – 40)

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

6 Comments

Filed under Compassion, influence with the world, Loving others, Philip Yancey, Serving

Mourning turned to dancing… in the aisle!

Max is the twenty-three-year-old autistic grandson of Chuck Colson, founder of BreakPoint Ministries. The following account is first maddening and then pure delight.

*****

A few months ago Max’s mother, Emily, and Patty Colson took Max to see “Muppets Most Wanted” at a Boston-area theater. After settling themselves into their seats, the previews began. And that’s when things went south.

The MuppetsNormally, Max gets a bit excited at the beginning of a film, and then he calms down. But life with autism is unpredictable, as Emily wrote on a special needs parenting site. When the first preview exploded loudly onto the screen, Max covered his ears and shrieked, “I want to go home!” Emily tried to calm him, but as soon as Kermit the Frog appeared on the screen, Max shouted “The Muppet movie!”

When the volume spiked again, Max shouted once more “I want to go home!” That’s when other movie-goers let Emily know in painful and no-uncertain terms that Max was not welcome.

As Emily and Patty escorted Max out, the audience began to applaud. “It was the sound of an angry mob chasing us away with their jeers and taunts,” Emily writes.

It’s hard to recover from experiences like that. But God used it to offer a mighty blessing, not only to Max and Emily, but to hundreds of other special needs children.

Not long after Emily wrote about unexpectedly becoming the entertainment at the theater, a woman named Renee came up to Emily after church. “Do you think Max would like it if we rented a theater?” she asked.

The following Sunday, Pastor Paul told the congregation what had happened to Max, and announced Renee’s great idea: “She rented out an entire theater so that friends of Max can watch the Muppet movie with Max.” Pastor Paul declared, “If you’re a friend of Max, you’re going to the movies, whether you like Muppets or not!”

“Everyone laughed. And everyone bought tickets,” Emily writes.

A local newspaper picked up the story. Hearing of the event, called “Love to the Max,” a limousine company owner offered to take Max and his friends to the theater in style in a 37-foot limousine. The employees fought over who was going to have the honor of driving Max. The winner? A man whose own grandson was autistic.

The CEO of a local Friendly’s Restaurant offered gift certificates for ice cream or meals. People volunteered to help out at the theater, doing everything from taking kids to the bathroom to bringing them popcorn.

So many people bought tickets that the Regal Cinema had to expand the event to two theaters. In the end, 500 children, with their families and friends, went to see “Muppets Most Wanted.”

This time, when the Muppets began singing their first number, “the music catapulted Max right out of his seat,” Emily recalls. He began dancing in the aisle. The audience began to applaud as Max danced his way down the aisle, “grabbing hands and pulling others into his dance.”

The children enjoyed the film, and as it ended with a final Muppet song, nobody wanted to leave. “Suddenly, people flooded into the aisles [and] began to dance. Everyone free. No armor. No barriers between us,” Emily writes. “I looked around and wondered if this is what Jesus envisioned when he said, “Love one another . . . The joy was contagious.”

As Chuck would have said, this was the Church being the Church. People came to love on these kids, “the least of these” and their families. And they were living out 1 Cor. 12, which reminds us that all parts of the body of Christ should be valued and honored.
~ By Eric Metaxas of BreakPoint Ministries

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2014. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Adversity, Compassion, Dance, Friendship, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Kindness, Loving others, Serving

Joining God in His story

get_lost-featured1Genuine expressions of your love for Christ are often quite small, simple even.

  • Join the girl no one ever sits with at lunch.
  • Baby-sit for a single mom.
  • Take a meal to a sick family.
  • Rake the leaves in the yard of the grouchy old man next door.
  • Take a walk with the little girl down the street whose parents are never home.
  • Clean the house of a family in which the financially struggling parents are both working two jobs and never have time to catch up.
  • Sit on the street with a homeless person, and listen to her story.

Your opportunities to work alongside God will be revealed through your friendship with Him. He will invite you into His story in ways that uniquely fit you—but He may also lead you to do things that are not in your comfort zone.

~ Excerpted from Get Lost by Dannah Gresh

How will we join God in His story today?

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

1 Comment

Filed under Christianity, Compassion, God, influence with the world, Loving God, Loving others, Serving

What will you do?

question mark orangeWhat will you do with your life today
to contribute
to something
bigger than your life?

~ Rick Alvey

Leave a comment

Filed under influence with the world, Kingdom of God, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

More Than Once a Year

Josh Wilson is one of my favorite musicians and I discovered this song just before Christmas. You might think I’m sharing it a bit late since Christmas was a couple of weeks ago but if you’ll listen to the message – wonderfully displayed in the video – you’ll understand why I waited to share it.

P.S. – This song also features Andrew Peterson, another of my favorite musicians!

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Music, Compassion, influence with the world, Jesus, Loving others, Music Video, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

May God bless you…

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen.

– Franciscan Benediction

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Authenticity, Christianity, Compassion, Grief, influence with the world, Justice, Kindness, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality, Serving, Suffering

Our ultimate hope

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

~ 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Leave a comment

Filed under Christianity, Death, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Hope, Religion and Spirituality, Scripture, Serving

Radical Faith: Why one church gave away their tithe for a year

What follows is by John Richardson.
***

Do you remember the story of Jesus walking on the water?

The disciples were half-way across the Sea; Jesus was standing alone on the bank of the water; the Father said, “Go ahead, step on top of the waves.” That’s an amazing moment of faith to me.

I completely understand that Jesus is fully God. But the reality is also that He is also fully man: a man who “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7) So stepping on top of the water must have been a remarkable moment of faith.

In the logic of the moment, Jesus obviously realized that this had never been done before. People don’t walk on water.

A few species of lizards can run across the water, but they know not to slow down. Several bugs can float on top of water, but they don’t have the mass of a fully-grown man. And in this moment, the Father is telling His fully-grown-man-Son to stand on a liquid surface.

The amazing part is that Jesus trusted Him enough to take that first step. That’s a ridiculous amount of faith. It’s in the realm of God asking you to flap your arms and fly. It defies all laws of nature. But Jesus trusted enough to follow in simple obedience.

Not too long ago, our church stood on the bank of the water. We’re kind of slow. We didn’t even understand how close we were to the water’s edge – and to a ridiculous faith challenge.

Our prayer was simple, but honest. We came to God asking one question that we genuinely did not know how to answer. We prayed,

“What can we do so that our neighbors will consistently see You when they interact with us?”

Much to our surprise, we sensed that the answer from God was, “Become generous as I am generous.”

And as we prayed further, we realized that He wasn’t kidding. He was prompting us to give away all of our tithes and offerings for an entire year.

For our small church community, this was one of those “Go ahead, defy the laws of nature” moments. God was challenging us to put our faith in action. He was asking us to love our neighbors with our resources.

After much fear and trepidation, we decided to go for it. Our faith paled in comparison to that of Jesus, but the Father held our hands as we stepped onto a liquid surface.

From April 2010 through April 2011, all of the tithes and offerings that were given to Traceway went to help the abused, neglected, sick, poor, and unstable of our city.

These gifts from God went to keep a few families out of home foreclosure after job losses. Other gifts went to provide housing for abused mothers who escaped literally with their children and the clothes on their backs. Some gifts went to pay medical bills and build handicap access ramps. Others went toward providing a vehicle for a family and aiding in disaster relief after a devastating local tornado.

These gifts were not a redistribution of wealth. The gifts were an entry point into the lives of these families. Each donation provided an open door for sharing the love of God and providing these people with a church community that would embrace them.

To be completely honest, not all of the giving turned out the way we hoped.

We had a few Peter-esque moments where we thought we were going to sink. At other times, we struggled because of the attitudes of the recipients. Some of them wanted a handout and nothing more. One lady even got mad at us after the 1997 Toyota Camry that we donated to her was not up to her standards. In those moments, we saw the mess that often accompanies incarnational-giving.

But we also learned how deeply God values our willingness to walk into the unknown with Him.

Potentially on par with that, we learned that God values our willingness to walk into the mess with Him. After all, that’s what He does…day after day after day. He joins each of us in our mess. He loves us and generously gives us gifts that nudge us closer to Him.

The faith of the people who make up Traceway Church is typically closer to that of a sinking Peter than that of a buoyant Jesus. But we are learning to trust the voice of God and stay alert to His movements.

As God calls us to follow, we hope to run forward with courageous faith. We are learning to trust the voice of the Father and create environments to unleash radical faith as He leads.

How will we trust God today!
***

John Richardson has been a pastor and church planter for over ten years. His passion is to see the church more accurately reflect the heart and ministry of Jesus. His first book, Giving Away the Collection Plate is available at http://www.tatepublishing.com. John and his wife, J.D., have three daughters and live in Mississippi.

3 Comments

Filed under Choices, Faith, Generosity, God, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Loving others, Money, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

Man arrested… for not leaving jail!

Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

Rodney Dwayne Valentine had just been granted his freedom from the Rockingham County jail in northern North Carolina on a recent Saturday morning. But when Valentine refused to leave the prison, police arrested him for trespassing and sent him back to his cell.

According to The News & Record of Greensboro, the 37 year 0ld Valentine reportedly refused to leave the jail site, after authorities declined his request for a ride to a local motel. He had been in prison since May 22 on a charge of damage to personal property.

Officers reportedly suggested that Valentine simply take a cab to the hotel, but he allegedly refused. When he still hadn’t left the premises that afternoon, Deputies charged Valentine with second-degree trespassing.

And now, Valentine is being held on a $500 bond while he awaits a scheduled court appearance on August 9.

Have you every heard anything so ridiculous?

I have!

In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a parable about a servant forgiven a debt he could not possibly hope to repay, who then goes out and demands a few dollars back from a fellow servant.

When the forgiving king hears of this he brings the first man back and reprimands him for not extending the grace he himself had received.

All to often, we are that first man. God has lavished us with immeasurable grace. Yet we tend not to be as lavish in extending it towards others.

For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love  serve one another. ~ Galatians 5:13

***

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under Choices, Christianity, Forgiveness, Grace, influence with the world, Loving others, Mercy, Religion and Spirituality, Serving

On mission with God

Today a group of 11 people – 8 teenagers and 3 adults – loaded up and headed down to Nashville, TN for a week of mission work.

It’s easy to think of “mission work” as being only what happens in another country but there are many people and locations right here in the USA that are desperate for help both physically and spiritually.

It should be an interesting trip as the mission trip veterans are four of the teenagers. The rest, including the three adult sponsors, have never done a week-long mission trip. I’m excited for all that God is going to do in them and through them.

Would you take a moment to offer up to God a prayer for our group? Most importantly, pray that God would get ahold of their hearts and overwhelm them with His grace and mercy and glory. Some of the most meaningful experiences I’ve ever had were on mission trips.

Thanks!

And as you get ready to start another week, another ordinary week, keep in mind that God’s mission work isn’t limited to special trips but is going on all around us all the time.

How might God want to use us today or this week as we do life as His missionaries to a lost world?

***
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

6 Comments

Filed under influence with the world, Loving others, Missions, Religion and Spirituality, Serving