Sunday, September 6, 2015

Who's Lighting the Fire?

Who's Lighting the Fire?

We are having some friends over for a campfire tonight.  Al will light the fire.  He typically uses a little gasoline to help things along.  Last time he singed a few hairs right off his arm...too much help!

Sometimes Scripture surprises me by flipping a phrase on its ear.  We are all familiar with the phrase, "running around putting out fires."  Relationships gone awry, projects more complicated that we expected, multiple generations needing our attention, jobs, so many needs, so much uncertainty!   Angst can overwhelm!

Angst:  a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.  (Oxford Dictionary)

So when I read Isaiah 50 this week it caused me to take a deeper look.  Verses 10-11 read:
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him/her who walks in dark, who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.

 But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, 
go, and walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.

Not only does God say, "Stop running around and trying to put out fires all the time."  God also says, "Trust me! and stop trying to light your own fires, make your own light, your own way, your own solutions."  God promises to walk with us through the darkness and bring the light in his way and time.  Don't dig yourself a deeper hole! Trust God!  As our Haitian friends continually remind us, "God knows!" Trust God!

A friend of mine who was stressing out about her financial future, walked into church one morning and literally got a message from God on the overhead screen which read,  "TRUST ME WITH YOUR FUTURE!"  Every time she starts to fear she returns to this message.

But it is so hard for us!!  We are so sure we need to worry, fix things, be "responsible"!  It is amazing to me how often people try to justify worrying by equating it with caring. How do we trust when we don't see the light?  There is a lot of both/and in living this out.  A life with God often sounds paradoxical (Seemingly absurd, self-contradictory).  I need to care without thinking I need to be the answer, or at least figure out the answer.

It is pretty encouraging to do a Scripture study of the phrases Don't worry and Do not be afraid!  God KNOWS we are prone to worrying.  God wants to save us from ourselves.  

So the next time you find yourself swimming in angst I encourage you to check yourself, as I will be checking myself, and repeat a mantra that helps you turn to trusting the name of the Lord and relying on your God.  It might be repeating that verse, or even just saying the name of Jesus, or praying the prayer, "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me."  

What helps you? I'd love to hear the spiritual disciplines you use.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Carpet Cleaning with a Purpose

Carpet Cleaning with a Purpose

(Confession: This is not just a blog.)
Today I spent the day cleaning carpets. It provides great thinking time. Back and forth, back and forth.....

I got to pondering how I could raise the funds still needed this year for Help the Youth, in Haiti. I thought about ways other organizations raise money and how people get involved. Some use running, or walking, biking, or golf. We contribute to good causes by doing all of these things. Back and forth, back and forth....

Suddenly I began to wonder, “If people will sponsor people to do the things they enjoy, how much could I raise by cleaning carpets?” It is a service; lots of people need their carpets cleaned. It would give me a chance to share the story of Haiti as I visit people in their homes. It gives me time to think and meditate.

So this is what I came up with: in the month of September I challenge you to help me raise funds for Haiti. How can you do that?
  1. Hire me to clean you carpets and provide a donation for Haiti. (Please be generous!)
  2. Don't need your carpets cleaned? I'll bet you know someone who could use the help. Maybe your parents, grandparents or kids, maybe a sister or friend. Gift them with a clean carpet and help someone in Haiti.
  3. Want to do more than give money, and you own a carpet cleaner? Join me, even if it is long distance. Get the word out that you are willing to clean a carpet for a donation to Help the Youth, Haiti.
  4. Offer to sponsor me for every carpet I clean this month.
  5. Help me get the word out.

Here is the challenge. This fall we need to raise:
  1. $7000 for scholarships and program costs for the rest of the 2015/16 school year.
  2. $1000 for Christmas chickens, our gift to the students.
  3. $1000 for t-shirts, helping to build identity as a group.
Let me know if you think of easier ways to earn the money :)  But for now let's try this!  How much do you think I can raise?

For more information on Help the Youth check out some of my earlier posts or go to

Help the Youth is providing scholarships for 100 students go to school this year who have no other way to pay their tuition.  It is an indigenous Haitian mission.