Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tornado of 2011 Now What

On June 1st Western MA was devestated by a tornado, the first in over 70 years.  The landscape of  Springfield, West Springfield, Wilbraham and     Monson has been changed for ever.  Those of us from Western MA who watched the tornado and it's aftermath on  television were stunned and amazed.  Those who were huddled in their basement holding on to their loved ones and praying were also stunned and amazed.  Stunned that in just a few moments much of their worldly possesions were scattered for miles and that their home was no longer on its foundation and amazed that they had crawled out of the rubble alive.

Watching the aftermath of a disaster from a distance will move you with emotion, but standing in the aftermath will bring you to your knees.

I am honored to be working with a group of Christian men, women and children from various churchs that spread out in work teams with chain saws, rakes and hearts for service.

Prepared with tools to cut trees, trim branches and rake debis I assended on the ravaged neighborhood believing that the "S" on my chest and the chain saw in my hand would actually make a dent.  But as I was driving through what remained of a neighborhood my "S" faded and my chain saw seemed as a spoon to empty the ocean.
I just stood in the rubble, took a deep breath to hold back the tears and dug in.   Sometimes the homeowners join in, sometimes they just stare with a blank expression.  They have been at this for days, often alone.
What do say as you stand with them in a pile of what  was their life?  "How are you"" seems foolish.  Should you ask them the same questions that they have already been asked many times? Should you ask, "how can I be of help"?  Sometimes in life there are no adequate words.  My Dad taught me that you shouldn't speak unless you can improve on the silence .....at this moment that is sound advise

I decided just to introduce myself and stand with them, often in silence, visually review the mess and start to work, just go ahead and start like I knew what I was doing.

The Bible also has sound advise for this situation, Paul said   "Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep".  Romans 12:15  This was the scripture that kept coming to mind.  Often the victims wanted to tell you how lucky or blessed or fortunate they were to be alive and so, standing in the mist of their life you rejoice with them.  Often  you could see desperation and fear in their eyes so you just stand and weep with them. 

It's kind of like going to the wake of someone that you never knew.  You are among people who have suffered a loss looking at a life laid out before them but you have no connection to the death.  So you just weep with them.

I am glad to report that we did make a dent after all.  But it was not the "S" on our chest that made the difference.  It was the heart in our chest that had the most effect.  We cleared many trees and picked up tons of debris but often the most important thing we did was to show up.

Milestone has also been providing needed supplies to the hundreds of families who are now living in a shelter because their home was destroyed.  If you would like to help you can donate on line at http://www.milestoneministry.org/.  100% of your donation will be used for the victims....no fuzzy math.

You can also help with prayer.  Just pray for restoration and deliverance.  God will respond.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Are Crumbs Enough?

It is always exciting to sit at the banquet table, and on many occasions I have been blessed  to enjoy that abundance.  But I have come to learn that I can live well on the crumbs. My daily bread is often what was left behind or ignored by others...... and that is sufficient for me.

Her daughter was sick, "demon - possessed", and she would do anything to make her well.  She'd heard there that there was a Jewish man named Jesus passing through her town and  that He had been healing the sick and casting out demons. 

Could it be true that her daughter might finally be healed.  If only she could meet Him and beg  for help. What are the chances?  As a Gentile, to approach him would be bad for her reputation.  What would her friends and family think?  Even if her daughter was healed who could she tell and who would rejoice with her.  Who would believe her?  Surely she would be chastised and possibly expelled from her people and her church.  But this was for her daughter and she was willing to risk it all.

She cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, Son of David, my daughter is severely demon possessed".   His disciples urged Him to send her away; "she is not one of us".  But He answered and explained that He was sent first for the lost sheep of the house of Israel and she was not among that tribe.

This persistent Mom could not be discouraged so she worshiped Him, saying, "Lord help me!"
He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."
She pressed on, "yes Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."

Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire," and her daughter was healed from that very hour.

This story as noted in Matthew 15:21 is one of compassion, faith, desperation and a simple prayer.  This Mom knew that the crumbs would be enough.  "Lord help me"was her simple prayer.

She came to Jesus the same way that many people seek him;
- they have a need/problem beyond their own ability to solve
- they come to  cry out (worship), often out of desperation
- they have faith that He can help, but wonder if He will

I find it exciting that due to the cross our access to Jesus and His mercy, healing, compassion and deliverance has no restriction.  Regardless of who we are, what we ever thought about Him  or were taught about Him, He will still receive us.  A recovering addict once said these beautiful words to me, " when I got to the very bottom, my lowest point......Jesus was there."

About 24 years ago I reluctantly exchanged everything that I thought was important for just a few crumbs.  I am glad to proclaim that God responded.  Today my plate is full everyday..... with plenty to share.  For this I am grateful.  Alleluia.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do What Matters

On June 4th My Father’s House was blessed by 16 wonderful folks from all over the region. They were loaned to us for the day while visiting Springfield for the New England Synod Assembly of the Lutheran Church. The results were stunning.  Our carriage house was painted, our flower gardens were refreshed, trees were chain sawed and best of all we had a great time. My thanks to all those who
participated.....you have been a blessing to us.