Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5 Day Challenge

I once took my son to a nursing home just to walk around and visit. It was remarkable to see the way the residents brightened up when they saw a toddling one year old walk past them. Smiles crossed confused and frustrated faces. It was as if upon seeing a child these people who spend their days confined, waiting, and wandering, were for a moment healed by the joy a baby brings.
One woman even claimed my son was her grandson and took us through the halls introducing us to her friends as her own relatives. She beamed with pride that her “family” had come to visit.
That morning I had prayed for God to use us, lead us, show us someone in need.
About an hour after I prayed, this “home” popped into my mind. Quite honestly, it was the last place I wanted to go. I thought it would be awkward. But I had a feeling the Lord knew better, so we went. And how thankful I am that I trusted. (Unfortunately, there have been many more times I have not followed those promptings.) I left that place overflowing.
Here’s the deal.
Jesus shows a preference in scripture for the poor and the broken. He loves them in a special way. We see explicit instruction throughout the Bible to care for, serve, and act justly on behalf of the poor and marginalized. 
As a mom, I’ve found this to be difficult. Any visions I had pre-kids of serving in a soup kitchen with babies strapped on my front and back quickly dissipated with the realities of naptimes, house keeping, and of course, safety.
But God requires obedience from us. 
And do you know what else he desires for us? Joy. 
Obedience and Joy: They cannot be divorced. They go hand in hand. Neither can be realized apart from the other. (Sound similar to anything you try and teach your kids?)
When we obey God we find our joy in him, and we cannot find fullness of joy in him without obedience.
Here’s a question: What kinds of things allow you to see with greater clarity the character of Jesus?
For me, it’s often a display of radical obedience for the sake of glorifying God and sharing the love of Christ. Less talk, more action.
When I see my husband discuss recovery options with a drug addict, research and draft new legislation proposals for prostituted women, or zip up a homeless man’s jacket because his hand is too crippled to do it on his own.
When I see my sister befriend and invest in an international student, eventually [leading to] the young woman’s surrender to Jesus.
When I hear of friends in another city housing a single mom and her three girls in their small apartment and working hard to help her get back on her feet.
I can’t read an adoption story without crying. 
I’m floored by the humility and self-denial I’ve seen in people who love Jesus, look at his life, and simply follow suit.
This is what I want my children to experience in their home. I want them to be moved and compelled by the character of Jesus through seeing their mother live as he lived. That’s the legacy I want to leave. 
So here’s the challenge. 
Over the next five days let’s make a simple commitment.
Each morning ask the Lord to direct you and your children to a person who needs to be loved or an area of brokenness in your neighborhood, city, or world that could be mended with the love of Christ. Ask God to expand your family’s vision of what it means to follow Jesus, a man who loved sinners, sick, lost and the poor with reckless abandon.
Ask him to break your heart for what breaks His.
Let’s see what happens in our hearts and in our days. Let’s glorify God, enjoying him through our obedience.
Let's start small and then pray for God’s guidance and direction as we take bigger steps in faith.
Here are a few ideas of ways to love, serve, and practice generosity alongside our children:
Let's start small and then pray for God’s guidance and direction as we take bigger steps in faith. Here are a few ideas of ways to love, serve, and practice generosity alongside our children:
  • Garage Sale: Sell stuff you don't need, and maybe even a thing or two you especially like. Have the kids contribute as well. Donate the proceeds to the cause or group of your family's choosing.
  • Purge and Give: Spend a day going through toys, books and clothes and then drive the goods to a donation spot with your children. Or better yet, get to know some people who may be in need and ask what they could use. 
  • Gardening: Children can be easily integrated into serving during a couple hours of morning yard work and landscape, and they love it. Call a local Senior Citizens Center, a shelter, or a charity. Typically they will be more than happy for you to come out and spruce things up.
  • Fundraiser: Help your child set up a lemonade stand or bake sale where proceeds go towards a children’s home, a missionary, or an adoption savings fund.
  • Expanding World View Through Photos: Simply pull up pictures on your computer of children in other countries who have less to play with and less to eat than your own, or print the pictures out and stick them on the fridge. Talk about and pray for them together.
  • Bake and Take: Think of a neighbor who has a need or has lost a loved one. Bake a treat and walk it over with your children.
  • Educate yourself on issues affecting the world around you. There are an endless number incredible books and websites out there. Tie this into daily conversations with your children.
  • Birthday Gifts: Allow your child to join with all his friends in making a difference. Ask children to bring a donation of the birthday kid's choosing to the party in lieu of gifts.
  • Gift Catalogs: Choose a holiday and then look through a World Vision or Compassion International (or similar organization) catalog and choose a gift for a family, possibly forfeiting a few extra treats for your own family. Discuss the joys of generosity with your children.
(Article from