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Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

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I’ve been a huge supporter of Blood:Water Mission for some time now. I love their passion for clean water in communities in need and their projects to build water wells. On occasions I will partake in their water challenge fundraiser around lent season. When I traveled to India, I had the opportunity to dedicate a water well. To see the joy in people’s faces who have never had clean drinking water is something I’ll never forget. It cost $1200 to build a water well in India and I am raising 10% of that from giving up some my personal pleasures of life during lent. Watch some of these videos for the Save a Life campaign for Rwanda and be inspired by the work Blood:Water is doing. You can give to my campaign here. Thanks! God Bless!

t3

t4

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 Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a reminder and celebration of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance to God. 

photo

photo by Travis Chavez

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’” – Matthew 3

Lent is always a special time for me. I’ve done the coffee fasts, etc and always felt good about what I had accomplished during those times. But for some reason, this year I seem to be a little more in tune with the upcoming 46 days to Easter and what it is all about. I went to a beautiful service at Mission Community church tonight. Pastor Ed Gungor spoke a message from the above passage that helped explain was lent was all about while David Gungor led in worship with some beautiful songs of cleansing. Repentance is a key part of lent as we confess our sins to the Father. It gets us back on the path to God. Giving up something for lent is about moving aside the things we hold onto so we can make room for God. The ashes represent our human mortality and that we won’t live on this earth forever but that we will spend eternity in heaven. As Christians, we shouldn’t fear death. I was thinking about my Grandma who has been ill. She is such a Godly woman and yet despite her condition, she is ready to meet our Lord and Savior. She doesn’t fear death and is very thankful for her time here on earth. As I took my ashes, I heard the words of this verse in my head:

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.
Genesis 3:19
Symbolism has always been a way for me to remember Jesus. It’s easy to get caught up with the legalistic/religious part of it if we are not careful. I didn’t quite understand the groups of people taking pictures with their ashes after service. But I guess when you have an Ash Wednesday service at a protestant church, it’s easy to get a little excited. Seeing the cross on my head and knowing my time isn’t long here puts things in perspective for me. Just as Advent was the time of anticipating our Lord and Savior, this time of lent will be a time for me to reflect on how Christ died on the cross for us.

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HE IS RISEN!!!
Good Friday

Worship service in the Student center

Cornerstone hosted a Good Friday worship service. They held it at noon in the student center. What an amazing sight to see many come out on their lunch breaks to give thanks to the Father. Thanks to Ryan and Brain for putting this together.

Later that evening, we attended a Friday night service at Redemption church. It was a beautiful outdoor setting at the Gilbert campus. It was awesome to see 3000+ come out to worship under the stars and give thanks to God for giving His son to die on the cross for us. Pastor Justin spoke on how much God loves us to do this for us. I love the illustration he gave about God even giving His son despite those that reject and turn away from Him.

So what does life look like beyond Easter? When the busy week comes upon us, do we stray and forget about the cross? How do we live our life for Christ day in and day out so we don’t have to constantly live for high moments in order to correct our paths when we drift?

All church Friday night worship service at Redemption Gilbert campus

For Easter, Christin and I served at Cornerstone Saturday night. We met up with our mothers and attended service later that night. Cornerstone had this “Egg your City” theme in which they used eggs to help promote the Easter service. The cool thing is that they also challenged those that attended to “Change the World”. They asked if we would donate $15 to help clothe and feed a child in India. Cornerstone has a strategic partnership with Harvest India and there is a huge need to feed these orphan kids. The goal was to feed 2500 children. Between the 6 services, people stepped up and sponsored over 4300 children ($63,000). Praise God!

I loved how Pastor Linn tied in the feeding of the hungry with an Easter message. What we believe in is a big deal. Deep down our hearts are hungry for something and we look to the wrong things to fill us. The majority people in India are Hindu. In Hinduism, they believe in karma and this idea that we get reincarnated into something better in the next life if we live out our lives well. Well.. we need something more to satisfy our hunger because the result from us filling it with worldly stuff (accomplishments, relationships, etc) produces bad fruit like worry, anger and pride. These things will build a wall that will separate us from God. We need to make contact with God and let Him fill our hunger and deepest needs. Christ is the bread of life and if we believe, we will never go hungry or thirsty.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. John 6:2-27

Earth Day

Good Friday was also Earth Day. I saw it as a day to celebrate God’s creation and how we need to take care of it as inhabitants of this Earth.

Lent – Week 6

Final week of lent. I have really enjoyed using the resources of World Vision ACT:S as I participated in lent this year. The information they provided really got me in tune to the world and the need out there. God has really made my heart ache for those in poverty and how I can be used to be a voice for those that don’t have one. Please pray and consider how you can be an advocate and be a part of creating a modern-day book of Acts of living.

This is Romeo. He is one of many growing number of street kids that are roaming around Albania. His family left him and he was forced to live life on his own around the age of 12. He is often ignored by those passing by as he has to beg and steal in order to eat and live. There have been many times I have felt forgotten or left out. In fact, I have done this to God – forgotten about Him. Yet, God never leaves me and is always there. This gives me hope that we are never forgotten and that He will use us.

A great example is the shepherds in Luke 2: 8-11. Shepherds were forgotten people in their society back in biblical times. Yet God used them to spread the news to them of Jesus’ birth. How awesome is it that a great host of angels appeared to them that Christmas morning to proclaim the birth of Christ. God then used their excitement to spread the news to others. God will use anyone for His purposes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (NIV).  

Jesus came to this broken world to be one of us. Because of what He has done for us, we have the opportunity to partner with Him and be a light to those that know Him. Imagine if instead of ignoring a street child like Romeo that we give him food and shelter. What a way to impact someone who needs to see and know the love of Jesus. God has called us to be missional and to seek justice for His people. I want that for my life, to see the world the way Jesus did and to love on others the same way He has loved me.

May we bless the world with comfort. Comfort when a child is suffering and no parent can help, so that we may become the arms of a God who heals. Amen

May we bless the world with peace. Peace for the persecuted and those who struggle to provide, so that we may become the feet of a God who brings good news. Amen

May we bless the world with love. Love for the ones who only encounter the demons in others, so that we may become the heart of a God who feels every human affliction. Amen

May we bless the world with wisdom. Wisdom to pass wisdom, so that we may become the mind of a God whose dreams become reality with the breath of a word. Amen

And the blessing of God, who provides comfort, peace, love and wisdom, be upon us and all that we love and pray for this day, and forever more. Amen

Today marked the end of my 40 day only drinking water as a beverage campaign for Blood:Water Mission. This year it was a lot easier for me to give up my morning coffee. I either really don’t need it or God is really working in me. But this lent season was very impactful for me as it came at a time that God is refining and restoring me to be who He wants me to be. I am grateful for the prayers and support from everyone while using this time to learn more about myself and drawing closer to God. God is working!

Pumping a water well after dedicating it in India - a huge blessing for me!

The work that is being done in Uganda and others parts of the world have really been inspiring to me to learn more about water. I have always had a heart for these water wells and how they can provide clean water for an entire village for very little money. God has really taught me a lot through Blood:Water mission about how much water we waste here in America and how we take it for granted. From not drinking coffee and tea for 40 days, I saved $105 and I will be donating that money to help fund water projects in Uganda. Please read this inspiring story of how God is working in Uganda here.

Oh coffee. How I missed you..

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Palm Sunday. It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. At Cornerstone, Pastor Linn wrapped up a series on what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. He preached out of a passage in Luke 9:57-62 that says nothing should hold us back in following Christ. So he challenged us to give up that thing that is holding us back and stop being a ‘casual Christian’. Ribbons representing our sins were laid upon the cross stating we are done with living life for ourselves. I love that they did this a week before Easter. This year’s lent campaign has been a tremendous time of healing for me. I have spent since November allowing God to strip me down and refine me to be the man He wants me to be. It has been incredibility difficult facing my garbage and baggage. But at the same time, God is using all of this to mold me into a better man and an effective Christ follower. I’m done with my continued issues with anger and lust and everything else I find myself carrying. I’m done being a slave to these sins and I am ready to lay them down at the foot of the cross and be all that Christ wants me to be.

This is Ka and she lives in Cambodia. She comes from a very poor family and has even scavenged through trash in order to find food at times. At 16, she left to the Thai border to find work because of the poverty. She ended up in a karaoke bar that was a front for a brothel. She was lured in with nice clothing and things and eventually found herself being forced to performed sex acts. After trying to escape, she owed money and ended up in forced prostitution to pay her debt. She would work 5 to 10 men a night and still was unable to pay her debt no matter how much she ‘worked’ . She felt she had no chance and continued to live this life of sin in order to get by.
Many times I have found myself in desperate situations and took sidesteps in order to get what. I’ve lied and cheated to get by. I eventually had to ask myself the question “Do I trust God that He is big enough to be Lord of my life? Am I willing to let go of my life of sin in order to grow and to be set free?” (John 8:31-34). Sin separates me from God. It causes me to hide and be ashamed. God is big enough to handle my stuff and I want to surrender it to Him so I can walk with Him and be in tune with what He wants to do with my life. (Isaiah 59:1-3). I’m done with being a slave to sin.
This is holy week and it is a week we Christians celebrate Christ dying on the cross for our sins. He paid the ultimate price for my sins and I no longer need to experience the pain and guilt of being enslaved to them. I praise God everyday for His grace and for loving me enough to forgive me. I am praying for continued strength and hope in the areas I struggle with. (Galatians 5:1)

A photo from Cambodia of how hard it is to get water

Another video from the field in Uganda… please continue to support my campaign to help support these causes.

A story from the Blood:Water Mission’s blog page:
Childhood is not quite the same in Africa as it is in America. In America, children go to school because it’s required. School is simply part of the deal of being a kid – regardless of whether you go public school, private school, or home school. In Uganda, not all children go to school, and it is not always for the reasons I would imagine.
laundry2.jpg
As I walked through the village of Alobo Rom in Northern Uganda to check out an unprotected spring of water, I met Janet. She had a small pile of laundry in front of her and was washing her clothes by hand. When we started talking, she said that she did not go to school that day because her clothes were dirty. At age 13, Janet was washing her clothes rather than sitting in the classroom.
A lot of things ran through my mind at that point. Why would she be kept out of school for dirty clothes? Why were her clothes not washed the night before? Was there no one to help her? When did she stop being a child? Yet – I know this is part of life here. I know that the rest of her day is likely full of other chores, including carrying water for the family needs. I hope that some day this is not her reality, and that nothing will keep her from school – not laundry, not carrying water, and not illness. On the day that I met Janet, all I could do was share a smile and wish her the best when she returned to the classroom.
~ Pamela Crane, PhD., Africa Field Manager

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Shimelis came to Christ in Ethiopia in 1984. But during that time, Christians were persecuted as the government tried to ‘destroy’ Christianity. He had to hide to worship and read his Bible and ended up joining an underground church. In 1990, he was caught worshipping and sent to prison where he was beaten. He was held in a 6′ x 6′ room with 15 other people. Lice, worms and flies entered their bodies as they had to lay on each other to sleep. They bore many scars from being persecuted and some of them even died (story at World Vision ACT:S).

I read this and I can be honest in saying that I have taken owning a Bible for granted. I have forgotten to bring it to church many times and I’ve even gone days without reading it. This frustrates me about myself. I want to be more understanding of what people like Shimelis go through. I want that same type of faith that he has and stand up for the gospel when facing persecution.

As the body of Christ, we need to unite and stand up for those that are being persecuted for their faith. We need to be a voice for our fellow Christians in the world who don’t have one and fight for injustice. Those that don’t know Christ are watching us Christians and how we live out our faith. Our boldness in Christ is what draws people to Him – not our flashy comfortable lifestyles. God will use someone like Shimelis to advance the gospel because of his willingness to stand up for Christ and live out the gospel.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.     James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Even in tough times God provides comfort. Sometimes he provides it in small ways – like a verse or the presence of a friend. According to scripture, He provides all we need to get through life. I love how God uses little things to speak to me and to slow down my day.  It’s how He reminds me that He is here for me and that He wants to comfort me. God also wants us to be joyous in our trials because he uses them to mold us into the person He wants us to be. We need to trust Him and endure what we are going through so we become mature and complete.

I had to take pictures in my class this week for a particular poem I enjoy. I chose one by C.S. Lewis because he writes about going through trials and how He became a better man from going through them. I love the last line in the poem.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls. The pains You give me are more precious than all other gains. “As the Ruins Fall” – C.S. Lewis

For more information about persecuted Christians and how you can be a voice, check out Voice of the Martyrs.

Blood:Water mission

Blood:water is sweetening the pot on the beverage fast with a contest to get more people on board. I’m actually doing well going without my coffee every morning. God has really been speaking to me during this time of lent. Continue to follow my campaign and please pray about giving to this cause.

TOMS 

I love TOMS Shoes. They had a “One Day Without Shoes” day on April 5. I love causes like this. Check out this video about it.

Streetlight 

During my Pathways class this week, Pat McCalla was our guest speaker. Pat works for Streetlight – an organization that takes in victims from the sex slavery here in Phoenix and helps rehabilitate them. Here is a link to a news story talking about what is going on Streetlight. Fox10 news.

April 7 was World Health Day. Here are some facts on global health.

• Malnutrition contributes to more than half of all child deaths. (Source: World Health Organization)

• Every year, 8.1 million children die of poor health. That is …
22,191 per day,
924 per hour,
15 per minute,
1 child dies every 4 seconds.

• 195 million children are stunted due to hunger (1 in 3 children in developing countries).(Source: UNICEF, “Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition,” November 2009)

• In the time it takes you to brush your teeth in the morning (average of 45 seconds), another child dies of malaria in Africa.(Source: World Health Organization)

• Each year, 272 million school days are lost for children due to diarrhea. (Source: UNICEF)

• 193 million children are malnourished with impaired cognitive growth by the time they reach primary school age. That’s more than three times the state population of California. (Source: UNESCO, “Education: roads closed,” 2008)

• An estimated one in three school-aged children in the developing world are infested with intestinal worms. (Source: UNICEF)

• 14.8 million iPads have been sold to date. That’s also the number of children who die of AIDS each year in sub-Saharan Africa. (Fact source: UNAIDS, 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic)

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Isaiah 49:1. What is worth? God reminds us of our worth in this passage and how He created us to be who we are. We like to determine our worth by money, status and material things. But Jesus sees worth in all of us. I mentioned that last week’s ACT:S is a story about a woman names Sylvie. She lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo and is raising kids on her own and they make their income from digging in dirt for quality rocks that they can sell. Her story makes her look worthless to many of us, yet her story has enriched me. We need to see our worth in Christ and embrace it. I used to struggle with self-worth and how people viewed me. But today I love how God uses me and I see my worth in Him. I no longer need to worry about what people say about me or look to their approval.

Luke 12:22-24. God provides and He gives us all we need to get through life. We need to not worry about tomorrow just like the birds don’t worry about food each day. God sees us as more worthy than the birds. I know I used to worry about how to pay bills each day and found myself in credit card debt in the past trying to make things happen on my own. I need to trust God that He will provide and know He will take care of me. 1/3 of the world lives in poverty and I am truly blessed compared to most people. I want to be a good steward of my finances and leverage it for the Kingdom.

So how do we define poverty? Most of us limit it to just personal wealth. I like to also include lack of resources like education and medical care as well. I’m reading Psalms and the passage in Ps. 40:16-17 says we are all worthy and that God helps and delivers us from tough situations. He blesses us and He cares for those in poverty situations. God opened my eyes to poverty on a trip to Belize in 2006. I want to look at people in poverty-stricken situations and see the same worth Christ sees in them. God’s love for me has given me love for others. I may not have a lot of finances to give to others, but God has given me many other talents to help those in need. I am praying that He continues to work in my heart to be a blessing to others.

You can continue to monitor my drink fast here. This week is World Water Day (March 22). Here is a video on how you can organize your own water:walk.

On March 11, a massive 9.0 underwater earthquake hit near Japan which caused a tsunami. Thousands of people were killed by flooding and collapsed buildings. There are times I find myself questioning God when these crisis happen. But at the same time I do I see how it opens the doors for the gospel to presented. Japan is 67% unreached and Christianity makes up only 1% of the population. I downloaded a prayer guide that I will be using to pray during lent. I’m praying for the many families. I’m praying for relief and for the hearts of the people to receive the gospel.

 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.  Psalms 40:1-3 (NIV)

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I’ve always liked this idea of lent and giving something up for 40 days. I find it freeing and I like the spiritual discipline. I have given up all beverages but water this week for Blood:Water mission. I am also giving a luxury each week during lent (this week was Facebook). For Ash Wednesday, I spent the day in repentance and praying for my shortcomings. I have also been praying for wisdom from God in the areas I need direction.

I am thanking God for the blessings in my life. I have a tendency to look at the difficult things that are going in my life and forget the many wonderful blessings I have. I have so much more than many other people in the world and I take that for granted. One of the things I am grateful for is an education. It’s one of the biggest things I see people wishing for when I travel overseas. I got my bachelor’s degree years ago and I continue to take classes because I like to learn new things. But there are so many that would be happy to finish an elementary education. I try to give back in this area by teaching 5th/6th graders at church. I love pouring into them and it is very fullfilling to me.

As I been journaling this week, I have been writing down areas that I feel God is challenging me and areas I want to be better at. I know that I’ve always had a heart for young adults and singles. I just think that this is such a great age to make a difference in the world. I lived from the passage in 1 Corinthians 7 about having the undistracted time you can devote to Christ as a single adult.  I want to be a better advocate for the poor. I want to be better at raising awareness of the needs of the world and what we can do here in America. Last, I want to be better in my prayer life and worship with God each day. I want my life to reflect Christ and how He wants to use me.

Despite some slight headaches, giving up coffee has been good for me. I want to be uncomfortable so I can rely on God more.  The first story in the World Vision ACT:S was a story of a widow and her kids from the Republic of Congo that spend their time digging through dirt to find good quality rocks to sell for money. It is her only source of income. It’s a dangerous place for kids to be at and they are at risk of mudslides. It doesn’t pay much and barely covers their home, food and school costs (about $30 US). What is the worth in this woman’s life? I’m sure she doesn’t see her life as a life of worth. Many of us here in America probably see this woman’s life as worthless. But Jesus sees our worth in Him. I want to be able to see worth in people the way Jesus does. I will admit I’m just as judgemental as the next guy when I see those that are struggling. I want to change that attitude of mine and be better. I want to love on people because I know Jesus can use anyone for His purposes.

I am praying for the people of Japan during this difficult time for them due to the devastating tsunami that hit there.

 The money I save from only drinking water during lent will go to help build clean water projects in different communities in Africa. Here is a video about what they are doing in these communities.

Here is something I learned from BWM during my fast..

From Blood:Water Mission Blog: 40 days without bottled water isn’t enough.

Yesterday was Bottled Water Free Day, and throughout the 40 Days of Water Campaignwe are encouraging you to cut out all beverages but tap water – this especially means bottled water. But why bottled water? Well, it’s not just about the cost of the individual bottle, even though if you do the math, the average retail bottle at $1.79 is over 2,000x the cost of tap water. There are also major environmental costs and health concerns all for something that is proven to be no safer or cleaner (in fact, often no different) than your public tap water.

Americans alone purchased over 33 billion liters of the 200 billion liters of bottled water sold  last year. Why do we continue to spend so much for what we already have? Today, we want to shed more light on this issue so that we might all better understand the implications of our choices. We’ve chosen a few videos to inform and promote a bottled water free lifestyle beyond the just the 40 Days, because when $1 provides safe water for a person in Africa for an entire year, we simply can’t afford not to make this change. After watching the videos, read below for ways that you can make a difference by cutting out bottled water.

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Lent 2011. The 40 days of Lent correspond to the time Jesus spent being tempted in the desert before beginning his public ministry. During Lent, Christians examine their hearts and are particularly diligent about putting away sinful behaviors. People often give something up for Lent – examples are a particular item of food or a bad habit. This period is a reminder that following Christ means dying to myself every day. I have always wanted my observance of lent to be a little more outspoken in being an advocate for a particular cause near and dear to my heart. So for the past two years I have observed lent by taking on a challenge from Blood:Water Missions. They have asked us to fast from all beverages with the exception of water for 40 days. They then ask that we donate the money we save from that cup of coffee that we buy each day and donate it to their clean water projects in Africa. This year I am also taking on another challenge from World Vision ACT:S (a ministry that challenges us to create a modern-day book of Acts with our lives) and will be giving up six luxuries each week during lent in addition to drinking only water as a beverage for the 40 days. Each day I will be posting on my Facebook/Twitter a particular cause/ministry/missionary dear to me and a scripture verse that speaks to me during the 40 days. I plan on reading out of Psalms and Proverbs during this time and the gospels leading up to Easter. I will also be blogging each week and let you know how God is working in me during this time. I am excited this year as Christin will be joining me in this fast. I am looking forward to doing this alongside her as well as having the extra accountability.

Will you pray for us during this time? Will you also consider observing lent and give up something that is meaningful and use this time to draw closer to God? If you would like to contribute to my campaign for Blood:Water Mission you may do so here and put my name in the box as the person you are donating on behalf of. Lent starts this Wednesday March 9 (Ash Wednesday) and ends on April 23 (day before Easter Sunday). Thank you for your support and prayers. God Bless!

I will be wearing these silly bands of Africa and a drop of water during the 40 days I fast to remind me of how I am impacting a life in Africa with my beverage fast.

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