June 26, 2017

“If you do not work, you do not eat.” Yourself to Blame….

2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 The Message (MSG)

10-13 Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.

I think you can honestly see the message of this blog entry. I think this brilliant poem and The Scriptures validate a point Dr. Carson understands well. Please realize I do not intentionally point the blame towards those who seek working work in hard times, the widowed, the orphaned, or even those suffering from special needs. However I believe families remain responsible for their kin and those able who sit around doing nothing. Statistically many fathers own the blame for abandoned children and a spiral of violence for kids started on the wrong path for life without such a figure to follow.

Yourself To Blame
by Mayme White Miller

If things go bad for you
And make you a bit ashamed
Often you will find out that
You have yourself to blame

Swiftly we ran to mischief
And then the bad luck came
Why do we fault others?
We have ourselves to blame

Whatever happens to us,
Here is what we say
“Had it not been for so-and-so
Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”

And if you are short of friends,
I’ll tell you what to do
Make an examination,
You’ll find the faults in you…

Your the captain of your ship,
So agree with the same
If you travel downward
You have yourself to blame

Dr. Ben Carson, as a neurosurgeon with 38 doctoral honoree degrees and a John Hopkins Director of Medicine, understands that knowledge and education hold key significance in our current society. I rarely fail to comprehend how one could think differently with common sense. Truth spoken just makes sense unless in denial of statistics and facts.

Dabo Swinney – The Miracle Worker, A Visit to Grandma’s House.

On Monday, my Grandmother was told that someone was coming to visit her. My uncle Ray kept teasing her, telling her that Elvis was that special visitor. Though Elvis was a “no show,” the person who DID make an appearance was Dabo Swinney, Clemson’s head football coach. Actually, he made more than an appearance. He made an impression. He made a memory. He gave my family encouragement and laughter. He gave his time, his story, his faith, and his affection. He was interactive, and he listened as much as he talked.

Now as an Alabama native, I seriously wonder if coaches within our state would do the same. I really am not sure what to think of Gene Chiziz anymore, fired head coach this past year of the Auburn University Tigers. Nick Saban seems consumed with his dynasty for yet another national championship year after year without notice of what transpires outside of a football stadium. And with Gus Malzaln, the new head football coach of Auburn, there have been no apparent gestures of this kind. You cannot help but like Dabo, even if you hate Clemson University (do remember to Love Thy Rival). He is just someone you want to pull for, an underdog living the dream to better influence lives like my Grandmother. After Dabo beat LSU in this year’s Atlanta Peach Bowl, fan or not, with his adverse background, you could not help but like the guy and be happy for him.     

My Dad wrote the following message regarding Dabo’s visit:

Every now and again someone acts in a way that helps restore my faith in humanity. If you have been on this earth long enough, you know what I am talking about. Additionally, you hear much about what’s “bad” in college athletics, and seldom do you hear about the “good.” Well, yesterday, I witnessed a wonderful meeting between a woman struggling to beat cancer (my mom) and a NCAA Division I head football coach (Dabo Swinney). Dabo took time out of his very busy schedule two days before national signing day to meet, encourage, and pray over Mom.

Mother has had to resume chemotherapy (after a two month reprieve) because of the renewed growth of the cancer. And while chemo is hard on her, she seems to be singularly focused on seeing her granddaughter (my sister’s daughter) get married in May. And while this is a worthy goal for her, we all felt that she needed a “boost.”

My brother, Ray, had seen on one of the Clemson University websites that head football coach, Dabo Swinney, had done some visitations to Clemson fans who were undergoing hospice. Ray thought that it would be a worthy endeavor to write Dabo about our Mom, what she was going through, and ask if he would be willing to pay her a visit.

**(Footnote: It’s important to note that Mom, like many in our family, is an avid Clemson University fan and loves football. Also, Mom and Dad make their home in Easley, SC, which is about 15 miles from Clemson, SC.

About 1-2 weeks after sending the letter, Ray received a call from Don Munson, Director of Creative Media Services, Clemson University. Don indicated that Dabo wanted to visit Mom, a date was set based on Dabo’s schedule, and the visit occurred yesterday at Mom & Dad’s home.

Ray, Susan (my sister), and I were in attendance when Dabo and Don arrived at my parents’ house. Mom knew someone was coming, but she had no idea of the mystery visitor’s identity. One hint that she was given was the fact that he was a Clemson fan. And lest any of you think that this was about a media event or publicity, nothing could be further from the truth. The only ones taking pictures were Susan and me. This WAS a very intimate meeting between Dabo and my mom. And while the rest of us did interact with Dabo, the focus was Mom, which was exactly what we wanted. Dabo loved on Mom, encouraged Mom, and prayed over Mom. His words and actions were both encouraging and inspiring. He was patient. Dabo wanted to know all about Mom’s illness, so he would know “how to pray.” He was personable, telling us stories about his wife and sister’s struggle with cancer. He told us about his mother and her struggles with scoliosis. His 30 minute visit turned into an hour and twenty minutes, and he didn’t seem to want to leave. He was gracious in every way, even with the signing of Clemson souvenirs for all of our family members.

I could go on for quite awhile about Dabo’s visit but will simply say, it was a wonderful memory that my family will cherish always. We will never be able to thank Dabo (& Don) enough for what we believed was a very timely visit with my Mom.

I ask that you continue to lift Mom up in prayer.

God Bless!
JimBo

Relationships – What do I know? What do you know? But this is funny, I do not care who you are.

You may have noticed that today I was tweeting through my Twitter account some dating advice provided by Eharmony and even me perhaps just as a joke, but a conversation with a student I am mentoring from Southern Polytechnic University here in Atlanta, Georgia spurred these tweet tidbits.

Naturally as guys, we talk about possible female prospects in our dating life. Well, Martin has been extremely affectionate towards the same girl for about the last three months, really since I first met him. And yes, I have Martin’s permission to write about this!

I have had a leery suspicion with this particular girl from the very beginning. For the sake of anonymity, let’s name her Dolly. Dolly only eats organic food. You should check out the prices of organic food in stores. Dolly also attends yoga classes three or four nights a week, which is also very expensive. The girl drives the priciest 2013 Ford Mustang on the market, which her Dad “momentarily” pays for with the car note. While she did finish her associate’s degree as a physical therapy assistant at Southern Polytechnic, she continues to live at home without a job two years after graduation.

At one point, she moved to San Francisco on a whim with a physical therapy assistant short term contract only to move back after six months because she did not like California. She just happened to wreck her newly bought Silver Ford Mustang on the way out to California. And these are just the details I remember off the top of my head. And never once did Martin mention a strengthened relationship with Christ other than that she recently experienced salvation through a yoga epiphany. As if not enough, she constantly complained on how she could not practice yoga or meditation at home because of her “noisy” siblings. Please keep in mind she lived at home for FREE!

In a final message to Martin, she wrote, “I need you to understand and continue your journey to happiness elsewhere.”

That may have been my last sign of hysteria! Sometimes we see something in someone that at least for the moment does not exist. Chris Hodges, the senior pastor from Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, calls this “missionary dating.” We try to save the person from something that we fictionally create in our minds. Please understand I have there as the salvation soldier.

I think Martin finally gave up on this lost cause after four months of frustration and continual perplexed confusion after admitting that there is more to a relationship than just “being pretty.” This is what happens when someone lives in what I call a “make-belief” world. This person has never truly suffered for anything. So everything up to this point in life has been expected and in some ways thought of as deserved.

I believe that relationships are more complex than they need to be these days. I think it is okay to ask a girl out and have fun, but in southern culture, that is rarely the case. Usually from the second you ask a girl out forward or even express an interest, serious takes over. And then nothing fun occurs.

The other night hanging out some extremely cool people from my church, a girl remained perplexed that I had a list of characteristics I look for in someone I want to marry. I simply asked, “Do you want to marry a man with a strong intentional conviction and relationship with Jesus Christ?” Of course, she responded, “Yes.” Then she seemed less perplexed when she also realized she had her own unstated mental checklist in a man she wanted to potentially marry.

I think as Christians we usually know when someone is on fire for God versus stagnantly constantly “trying to figure things out.” With a mutual attraction, that is usually the first sign that peaks my interest. There is nothing complex about my relational approach. If I want to know you, I usually just ask and seek information about the person’s personality. I will ask a girl to the circus. I will ask a girl to coffee. I will ask a girl to throw the Frisbee in Piedmont Park. If she has it going on for Jesus Christ, I got it going on to try and know that person.

But the first signal is and always will be the same for me: does she love God? If yes is the answer to this question, then I ask a few more questions of conversational interest.

The following video dives deeper humorously into Biblical relational dating. I think this preacher is hilarious, but I also think the minister rings true that a relationship with Christ comes before a relationship with someone else. I think Martin finally learned this lesson the hard way. I think whether we consciously admit or not, many believers, including me, learn this lesson the hard way.

My Friend Jedd Medefind from The Christian Alliance for Orphans – Orphan Sunday Series, Part 3

Why is the CALL FOR THE ORPHAN great? Watch the following video to statistically understand the meaning of Orphan Sunday and Jedd Medefind’s work.

Orphan Sunday, occurring on November 4, 2012, is a national movement joined by churches all over the world though an organization known as The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). These three blog entries introduce three dear friends I met through this Alliance with brief information about their respective organizations. My last entry highlighted Dave Wood from Lifeline Children’s Services.

Connected through Greg Buzek, one day I received an email from Jedd Medefind, the previous Special Assistant to the President and Acting Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, author of three books, and now active President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). I thought to myself, “Who is this guy that wants an Auburn Master’s degree graduate to do another free internship?” After our brief interview, I thought this guy must be crazy. When I prayed and meditated about the internship program, my role, and Jedd’s possible friendship, I realized this might be the opportunity for a lifetime moment to remember. And so my journey with the Christian Alliance for Orphans began! ….with a volunteer internship and a guy named Jedd.

I experienced dark times when I began the internship, possibly another reason why I accepted the chance to become a part of something special. I wanted to feel hope again in my relationship with God. While Jedd often remained busy with the approaching Summit 2011 conference in Louieville, Kentucky (an international celebration and reunion of fatherless advocates from around globe), he constantly made time to occasionally speak with me over the phone and write inspirational emails of encouragement. Even Elizabeth Wiebe, Director of Outreach for CAFO, continually mentioned that “we will make this work,” when I felt overwhelmed with both a full time job and this fully engaged internship, especially when tornadoes ripped my Alabama home state apart. Both Jedd and Elizabeth turned my valley into a mountaintop experience that continues to this very day as the Orphan Sunday State Coordinator for both Georgia and Alabama. They rejoice with me when I live with successful forward movement and empathize with me when down and discouraged, usually with a kind word to lend.

Jedd continues to serve as a powerful presence in my life with prayer, his leadership and communicative styles, and even his example as a devoted author, father, and husband. Like Dave Wood and Larry Bergeron, Jedd is just someone you want to be like, not because of his success but rather because of his humility in Christ. I truly believe God brought the Alliance together under the leadership of this man to eradicate the epidemic of the fatherless so that every child in this world will have an eventual healthy Christian-focused home. It is with Medefind-size faith that I believe and know in my heart this truth.

I have always had a soft spot for children, hence why I currently still work with youth in ministry. While I did not see it when my internship originally began, God brought us together for BIG FULFILLMENTS in Kingdom-building missions, promises, and mentalities. Mentioned as before in other blog entries, some believe ministry is a usual eight to five o’clock job, but in reality, the call to ministry is a twenty-four hour, fourth quarter drill to an eternal finish line. The salvation of others and saving orphans lies in each second of the day. I would say that sometimes Jedd more than likely exhausts himself in traveling, speaking, writing, and making appointments with individuals to serve an awesome God, but he just gets it: the simple truth that a relationship with God brings the greatest blessings and rewards anyone could ever experience in life. Humility plus good works equals explosion of God’s Love for us as believers.

Celebrate with Jedd, myself, and others from around world the cause of the fatherless on this Orphan Sunday, November 4th. We can and will make an eternal difference if we put aside differences and unite for orphaned children! Jedd understands that is about the fatherless and that this thing called life was never meant to be about just us and our personal selves. It is about Him!

Zambia’s Gift to the World from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.
(This text was quoted directly from the Christian Alliance for Orphans website.)

In 33 unforgettable minutes, Zambia’s Gift to the World weaves the unlikely story of how Orphan Sunday began in a humble, hard-pressed church in Lusaka, Zambia…and today is impacting lives around the globe.

You’ll encounter vibrant African Christians and the children they’ve embraced…favorites like Steven Curtis Chapman and Francis Chan…as well as remarkable believers from around the world—all sharing of the beauty that rises when Christians reflect God’s heart for the fatherless.

Enjoy the film…and join us in praying that God will use it greatly to stir Christians across America and far beyond!

Zambia’s Gift to the World from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

My Friend Dave Wood from Lifeline Children’s Services – Orphan Sunday Series, Part 2

Orphan Sunday, occurring on November 4, 2012, is a national movement joined by churches all over the world though an organization known as The Christian Alliance for Orphans. These three upcoming blog entries introduce three dear friends I met through this Alliance with brief information about their respective organizations. My last entry highlighted Larry Bergeron of A Child’s Hope International.

I met Dave Wood, the Vice President and International Director of Lifeline Children’s Services, briefly at Summit 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky, and I think we had an instant connection through our comedian-like routines. While serious in both our advocacy efforts for the orphan, the joy of Christ is evident through both our hearts with our laughs and smiles to encourage those we are around. Many in the Lifeline alumni and staff network mistakenly think I look like Herbie Newell, the Executive Director of this adoption ministry, however after meditation and prayer, I really believe my heart and personality resembles that of Dave. I still imagine the day we work together in director-position nonprofit ministry peacemaker roles. Perhaps then we will really through the power of God provide a healthy home for every child in the world, all 147 million of them. It is in fact possible! Sometimes you just in fact have to believe in yourself and your eternal cause and vision!

Dave and I have that big faith that this dream of fate could really happen. We both write. You will notice one of my favorite pieces by Dave in this blog entry, entitled Lifeline. I believe the piece will touch your heart. We both like to laugh and goof off. We both live with an eternal mindset. I hope that as Dave reads this he does not mind my comparison, but he is indeed the kind of person you hope to emulate and be like.

Dave has long had it on his heart to publish a book. Well, I believe it is time we encourage and push him to get there. It is not a matter of whether his material is great enough. It certainly is that and more! I believe in the preaching of the Hip Hop preacher, Eric Thomas. Now is the fourth quarter. Publishing books and advocating for orphans is not easy. If it was, everyone would do it! Let’s pray, push, and press Dave to publish his book through accountability. That is indeed on my list of goals in 2013. So be looking out for one of my favorite people’s writing, Dave Wood! His is book is coming because I believe in his hard work, his real hard work. When you want to be successful as much as you want to breathe, then you will be successful. Eric Thomas informs us to “not talk about it but to be about it.”

LIFELINE!

by Dave Wood on Monday, September 5, 2011 at 12:28am •

Oh darkness lies entrenched within my heart
Fears, like ocean waves flood over my soul
Drowning in the abyss of a sea that is all mine
These black storms have left me without hope
I’m a sinking ship that is listing and all alone
So desperate this very moment for a lifeline
But in this churning flood there is not a lifeline
Only sorrow upon sorrows drowning my heart
The rising sea billows have washed over any hope
Speechless and unattended I am a mortified soul
And though I hear the cries of others I am alone
A vanquished life with nothing left that is mine
I do remember a time when things were mine
There was no thought and no need of a lifeline
I sometimes felt lonely but never really alone
There wasn’t yet a broken and battered heart
The future was still unknown to my naive soul
Back then my tomorrow’s were filled with hope
Skies were clear and a bright magnificent hope
As if a postcard that said the world was mine
The warmth of the sun was peace to my soul
The gentle breeze upon my sails a steady lifeline
Calm waters brought comfort and gave me heart
Too taken to realize I was enjoying this bliss alone
Then one day an unexpected storm cloud rose up alone
This tempest would only grow overtaking all my hope
A fierce head wind pushing against my anchored heart
Waves of thunder burst threatening all that is mine
An ominous beast and not even a compass for a lifeline
Lightning strikes illuminating the hidden dread in my soul
The ship that carried me has now abandoned my soul
Broken into pieces an orphan castaway that is all alone
Longing through tears to be thrown a life saving lifeline
Looking for a brilliant lighthouse to point the way home
All that I ever dreamed for was a family that was mine
To be rescued from this storm and save my dying heart
Oh what my sad soul would give for such an abiding hope
No longer alone and fully loved by parents that are mine
A family is my only lifeline and the sole desire of my heart

Sestina Poem
Copyright © 2011 Dave Wood

I am fired up, pumped up, and motivated to know Dave and his family. He changes lives through his written words, his speaking, his traveling, and his role in ministry. There is something extremely satisfying about living for others, instead of living for retirement. Dave just gets that idea. Dave works at a ministry headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama known as Lifeline Children’s Services where I believe he will complete his journey in faith perhaps until the day he dies. Dave lives for others and has often dedicated his valuable time to point me in a positive direction through mutual discussion and belief in each other. I believe in Lifeline! I believe in Dave! And I believe together one day we just might live with a fourth quarter mentality to push all barriers to publish our books and save orphans. Now is the time to change lives of the youth we work with, and while in different ministries with different purposes, Dave continues to change the lives of thousands. Admire him. Know him. And support his ministry!

Listen and learn, readers, through this video! My hat is off to Dave and his lifetime of lifeline desires and ministries!

 

I WILL FIND you on my KNEES – First Day! New Transition!

“All I can is that John and I wanted more than anything to follow God’s will for us and our family. We had a holy fear of acting outside God’s will, so we agreed to pray that He would show us what that was.” – Kelly Rosati in her book, Wait No More (John is her husband).

I started my new job at the Southern Territorial Headquarters today, and I find myself refreshed by other like-minded people who tick like I do, focused on Jesus as believers in a collective group for Kingdom-building mindsets. After orientation, I found a card from someone in my office with the mention that she would be praying for me this week as I transition into this new career. I have long dreamed of a job that I do not beat myself up and over to drag out of bed to get by, simply for a paycheck. I feel awakened and encouraged to do this job and rise as I encourage others with a meaningful purpose for something bigger than myself. As many say, knock on wood, I may have found something in that passion area of public relations where I campaign and market for a cause I believe in. I find it mind-boggling (“Am I really here in Mid-Town Atlanta?”), a little nerve-racking (new job, new city, and knowing no one), and exciting (“Wow, this could potentially become something amazing!). All the thoughts combine mutually for a few hours of lost sleep and doubts creeping into my mind.

The decision to be and move to Atlanta is now made, and I am not looking back! I am a new creation with a new opportunity with individuals that obviously believe in my abilities to lead, create, and build the face of a reputable organization to the southern youth of America. In the midst of hardship and economic uncertainty, this generation could use more Jesus in any capacity. And I am glad to bring that message of hope to anyone through creative communications.

I keep thinking, “How did I get here?” I prayed to God, sometimes loudly stuck in the stagnancy of survival and routine with a Thank-God-Its-Friday job rather than Thank-God-Its-Monday job. With this phrase, I mean I want to be so excited to get back into the office I cannot hold or hide my excitement for what I love doing. I admit that I need to spend more time with God in His Presence, praying in thankfulness, reading the Word, and believing in the requests I make like this new position, PRAYERS ANSWERED!

Another analytic wonder is the blessings shown to me in a new full time opportunity of epic proportions and another part time opportunity possibly coming behind it. What further astounds me is the support and belief of my family. My father and mother have done everything, and I mean EVERYTHING to transition, to believe, to push, to inspire, and to encourage me with this move to a new city with a new career direction. While we have sometimes not always seen each other eye to eye on my own mental adversities, I owe my success with this new adventure to them just as much as I do God. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

I believe when you find God on your knees, God explodes blessings and favor into your life. Now please understand I do not just mean the routine legalistic bedside manner prayer. “God, please do this. Please be with this person. Please help me to sleep well. Please help me to be promoted. Please help me to pass this test even thought I never studied.”…..I mean when you really get down on your knees and say, “Okay, I am not sure where you have me or how you will have me, but here I am. Here are my true passions. Please place me appropriately where you will call me to obey you in line with these passions.” When you seek God with sincerity, He will answer your prayers with that same sincerity.

Like Kari Job says in the following song, I will find you on my knees! When you truly want something in change for God’s Kingdom, find it on your knees. Ask. And like me currently in shock, God will call you by name! I guarantee it! My life serves as living proof.

A Simple Message and Current Theme in My Life – Success Comes Finally! DO What We DO!

When I first graduated with my Masters from Auburn University in Communication, I thought I would catch fire in both the job market and publishing my first major book. I got somewhat sidetracked with two brief anthologies of twenty-three poems and successfully published both collections with book signings and what continues to be a consistent following on a redesigned blog. However I eventually ran out of money and needed to work somewhere, anywhere.

I started off with any-whatever-job I could find two years ago, selling ladies’ shoes at the Belk Department Store at Brookwood Mall in Homewood, Alabama (a suburb outside Birmingham, Alabama for those of you not from here). I quickly decided retail was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life with a Masters education. Then I moved forward six weeks later as an admissions representative at Virginia College Online Division. While Virginia College has been extremely good to me for the last eighteen months, it was again apparent that this was another venture I did not want to pursue also for the rest of my life, selling education through a proprietary mindset. It was a great place for me to learn business corporate policy from management from those who worked in industry far longer than me. In other words, Virginia College Online became a stepping stone to move forward for where God would have me now, the Salvation Army.

I know I applied for well over 500 jobs before the right fit came along. I took on several interviews and was offered several positions but never felt spiritually at peace about anything that presented itself until just now. The Salvation Army Headquarters in Atlanta offered me a job, as a Creative Marketing Strategist for their youth development department. I knew confidently and peacefully that God called me to move to Atlanta for this new opportunity to change adolescent lives through the influence of Christ and Biblically founded beliefs. In addition to this pursuit, I continue to push hard with both my writing and photography endeavors and online teaching.

In the pursuit of passions, I was often discouraged from what appeared to represent a lack of movement and upward mobility. I am not always sure what to do with my time to move forward in growth with my own life. Often times I just do what I do (advice I learned from Tony Dungy). I implement both a short term and long term vision plan and with each day push as hard as I can beyond my day job to make dreams happen. I write when I do not feel like writing. I exercise when I do not feel like exercising. I get up and go to my day job when I do not want to. I study to reach another graduate degree to stand apart from those in the masses. I do what I do even when I do not want to. Those who become the most successful still do what they do even when they do not want to. That is true motivation. Motivation is not a bright Tinker Bell feeling. It is doing what you know you need to even when you do not want to.

You may lose sleep. You may become frazzled. You may need to pull some hair out when you want to quit. But please see my life as a small step forward in the right direction. Finally after two years of completing my Master’s degree at Auburn University, I am moving to the BIG Atlanta CITY for a job I REALLY WANT, but it took two years. It may take another two years to complete another Master’s degree, to get my photography business off the ground, to attain a book contract, and continue performing a meaningful day job. But my day job will turn into my dream job as the transition continues in the right direction. I will continue to do what I do even when I do not feel like it. And with that approach, I will inevitably be successful in any goal I pursue. Just do what you do to honor God, and I firmly believe and know He will honor your work for His Glory. My life stands as a testimony to His Scriptural Promises. Speak it into existence, and watch the magic happen!

Tony Dungy’s words continue to resonate with me through his testimony here! If you love football, you will love the Quiet Strength expressed through this video!

 

A True Hero’s Welcome and Response – a continuation from the last entry!

Gary Sneider responded to my last blog entry with his own time in the message listed below in this continuation for churches to step forward in action, not just empty words. I get all sorts of feedback with my blog, but you will find that Gary’s response required time and some meticulous attention, something that might also attribute to his character in this ministry. Sometimes I find myself too tired to respond to emails with the attention they many times deserve, like the example Gary sets here.

Sneider expresses his educated thoughts on why churches fail to engage the cause of the fatherless, beyond my simple assertion of laziness. His years of experience become evident in his insight and logic to this lack of attention churches give to save God’s children. You could consider his words more graceful and gracious than my own.

Gary Scheider is the Founder and President of Every Orphan’s Hope, dedicating his life to the fatherless in the country of Zambia. The Christian Alliance for Orphans recognizes Gary as the originator of the Orphan Sunday, a movement that brings awareness for orphans around the world on a joint coordinated Sunday in November, this year on the 4th day of the month, the first Sunday. Orphan Sunday in Zambia seems glorious! The attached photo is an orphan who attended the event at Woodlands Stadium, Lusaka, Zambia. There were 68 churches participating, and they transported 1,864 children to the event (a huge expense for so many impoverished churches). Quite frankly I have never heard of an event that occurred in the United States on this magnitude where churches covered the costs of orphans to come together in a national venue like this.

James,

I appreciate your passion for serving the fatherless and hope your efforts as a State Orphan Sunday coordinator motivates many to get involved!

I’m getting ready to celebrate Orphan Sunday in Zambia with the CAFO team. They’re here shooting the movie Zambia’s Gift To The World – Orphan Sunday. We’ve had an amazing week and please join us in prayer as tomorrow is Zambia’s Orphan Sunday.

Why do churches fail to step up for the orphan?

(1) Experience. It has not been their experience to see hundreds or thousands of impoverished, abandoned, lonely, abused and neglected children. They’ve not taken time to understand the plight of the orphan. They’ve never met an orphan. Out of sight, out of mind.

(2) Education. Until a person has searched the scriptures and understood the Father’s heart-revelation throughout scripture, they don’t have a clear picture of God’s compassionate call for his people to care for the orphan. They’ve not understood the promises and commands of God and the compassion of Christ for the orphan.

(3) Connection. Who was the first person God raised from the dead? It was a nameless orphan, the child of a nameless widow from Zarephath (1 Kings 17). Who was the first person Jesus raised from the dead? A nameless orphan boy, the son of a nameless widow from the town of Nain. We all know Lazarus’ story. He has sisters. Mary and Martha loved him and grieved his loss. But the nameless orphans who were the first to be raised from the dead, their stories remain largely unknown. Same miracle of God, but who can relate to nameless orphans and widows, there’s no connection.

(4) Cost. There is a cost to follow Jesus. To care for the orphan is costly on all measurable levels. The church must be ready to embrace the cost of following Jesus to the point of raising orphaned children to life, as their own, in whatever form that takes; adoption, foster care, or global orphan care.

I try at all costs not to give “Orphan Statistics”. Honestly, the number of breast cancer patients doesn’t connect me to the millions of women suffering breast cancer. But one story about Mary, whose brother and mother loved her…you get my point.

Rebecca was the mother of Mary, David and Michael. At birth, she chose their names carefully. In choosing their names, she envisioned their future, before she knew their personalities, she began shaping their character, their dreams and their lives simply by the rich Biblical heritage of their names. 12 years later, as Rebecca lay on her bed terminally ill with HIV/AIDS, Mary, David and Michael stood helpless by her side. Rebecca called her church elders and she called upon the God of Mary, David and Michael to care for her children. She would not live to see the promise of her children’s future fulfilled. The only one she could entrust their future to was the God of the Bible and the Body of Christ in her community, there was no family alive to care for her children. As she slipped into the arms of her heavenly Father. She trusted the arms of the Father’s Son would wrap around her children and bless them…and He did! He did, because God’s people understood the Father’s heart and the compassion of his Son and they were by Mary’s bed and assured her, we will take your children and do our best to see God’s promise for their lives fulfilled.

Today, the promise of Mary, David and Michael’s lives are a powerful testimony of the faith of a mother, Rebecca and a body of Believers who understood the Father’s heart and responded sacrificially to the compassionate cause of Christ.

James, continue your heroic effort to help the Church understand and engage with the cause of Christ on behalf of the orphaned!

Blessings,

Gary

The Call From the Orphan – God’s Heart! Why Do Churches Hesitate to Rise Up?

I once heard Chris Hodges, Senior Pastor of Church of the Highlands, ask his 15,000 member congregation, “Do you know why some people are gay? I think I figured this paradigm out.” We all sat on the edge of our seats with the expectation of some Scripture revelation, the secret this long debated question about to be answered. Hodges continued, “I think it is because they are lazy.” The building audience erupted into laughter at his proclamation. He asserted that a relationship with the same sex was much easier than one with the opposite gender. I must agree that my guy friends and I never fight! I really cannot remember the last time I fought with a guy, seriously. I admit that a relationship with a significant female other is real hard work. I understand Hodges’ logic on some unusual levels. After his awkward moment of humor, Hodges began his Sunday sermon.

Does this same statement apply to churches that ignore the cause of the fatherless (in addition to the widow, the poor, the diseased, the underprivileged, and so on)? Are church leaders and passive congregational members lazy? Most will claim that the temptation to fall into complacency in Pop Culture Christianity is easy. How many people genuinely volunteer and serve in capacities outside of a Saturday Southern football tailgate? In my opinion with where I worked in the past two years (not the Salvation Army headquarters), most settle for each night’s schedule of sitcoms and sporting events on ESPN. Many don’t do anything outside of family and watching television for the local community and international relief. Even my own family is guilty of this epidemic on several accords. We conduct ourselves according to convenience.

I serve as the current Christian Alliance for Orphans State Coordinator for Orphan Sunday. I am responsible year round for gearing and managing events, seminars, discussion panels, and anything related to the cause of the fatherless, even radio interviews. We specifically focus on Orphan Sunday, November 4, with a concentration for a national and international movement where thousands come together for one day to stand for the orphan. The Christian Alliance for Orphans stands as a joint coalition of over one hundred organizations who commit themselves to save every orphan for the sole sake of God’s Glory. We were after all adopted by our Heavenly Father!

Recently I approached several churches in the Greater Birmingham metropolitan about participating on Orphan Sunday, November 4th. Between last year (2011) and this year (2012) with this annual celebration in advocacy for the orphan, I definitely received more “No’s” than “Yes’s,” sometimes even with simple requests for orphan-focused prayers, still to receive another “No.”  I even had ministers commit to events this year with their given word without following through, some things I worked hard on through my own free time through volunteering, only with nowhere to implement my hard work.  A great example of someone who fights for the orphan is Jon Walden, Executive Director and on air personality for Revocation Radio, a nonprofit radio station who plays Christian music that honors God, healthy for the ears of youthful listeners (as opposed to the cussing of gangster rap or any other colorful music).  Jon is interviewing five individuals over the air with leaders from five different orphan-related organizations. Walden remains busy with public appearances, youth rallies, a family, and his own mission with his nonprofit ventures. He makes the extra effort for the sake of ministry, not excusing the assistance with his own busyness with life responsibilities. Many could learn from his diligence for all the causes he stands for simply for the sake of Christ. Nothing more else motivates him so. Jon Walden rises to the challenge, and I wonder if other nonchalant ministerial leaders will do the same.

Another example to emulate as a country is Rwanda who seeks to eradicate orphanages, YES, THERE WILL BE NO MORE FATHERLESS in the next twenty years within this country! I mean no disrespect to this country or any other African country, but in the eyes of western politics, this is a third world entity. Countries with much more economical means stand still while those less fortunate pave the way for something many should have initiated a long time ago! Leaders in Rwanda have risen together as The Church to train citizens within their country to raise orphans. Rwanda does not ship their troubles to other countries. Internally they seek to improve as a country within their own borders. Nothing wrong exists with international adoption; however I am inspired when a country heals an epidemic for the fatherless at home, for example our failing foster care systems, which we still have yet to remedy in the United States.

While hosting events is not necessary with commitments, fighting and caring for the orphan worldwide is not an option. In fact, God commands it through His Biblical Word. For those of us who lack initiative, reference the following Scriptures:

Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.”

James 1:27 (NIV)

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Exodus 22:22-24 (NIV)

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”

John 14:18 (NIV)

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Psalm 82:3 (NIV)

“Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

I think the question remains worthwhile to consider: Are leaders in ministry too lazy to fight for the cause of the orphan? The blessing and burden to carry the cause cannot fall solely on those who actually rise to acknowledge the world’s fatherless. The rise for change is not easy. Anything for the sake of Christ will never be easy. But leaders like Jon Walden step up to play for eternal reasons often beyond those who live more on earth than in heaven with human indulgence. I grow tired of fighting without the support of local church leaders. I challenge the next time a door opens for church leaders to rise, instead of offering lame excuses for why this conflicts with a year round sermon scheduled series, year after year ignoring our call to solve the problems of this world. If Rwanda can, I am confident any United States congregation can as well. It is time to stop the laziness and to work hard for God’s Glory. Together we can and together we will fight for the fatherless and end the orphan epidemic. It is not impossible! It is very doable! And if you make the decision to lead and take a stand, God will honor our hard work for His Heavenly Heart.

Personally seek to feel the CALL of the ORPHAN through this video about Orphan Sunday, 2012! We are adopted! God never abandoned us! And we should never abandon them, the fatherless!

Orphan Sunday 2012 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

NOW IS THE TIME TO RISE! GREATNESS IS UPON YOU! ….my own rise in down times.

Ephesians 5:13-14 (NIV)

But everything
exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes
a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Have you ever sat in your cubicle wondering to God, “When will my time come to rise and fulfill my passions’? The battle of everyday survival floats around bills paid and the suppression of dreams. With the unwise decisions of leaders in this country, opportunity for young professionals appears dwindling! …the truth is it is!

I applied for at least four hundred jobs before something of true dreamlike essences patiently prevailed. I skimmed all over the country for hope where my day-to-day existence became more than routine. It became dreamlike. Eventually the monsoon rolled where the hard work snowballed. Each day brought a new surprise and phone call from a prospective life-changing moment. I am also almost complete with a three hundred page manuscript of my first major memoir, each chapter edited seven-ten times, a two year project in the making.

I faced the largest challenges and adversity when I felt no motion in my life, no momentum towards a given goal in my mind. I incline to feel the least motivated in life when I see no growth, no movement forward. At this moment in my life I never measure life monetarily as a single Christian but instead through growth to reach a level of leadership unprecedented by all before me. It is those who are most motivated who continue to do what they need to, even when they do not feel that motivation emotionally, or simply “just don’t feel like it.”

I cannot describe the sudden drive in my life or where it came from. However when I tasted a sweet notion of success and saw God’s work in my life, I wanted it all the more. I realized that many individuals, including me, wait to rise up. We can wait forever for things to look up, to feel better, or to achieve the dream constantly on our heart. NOW IS THE TIME TO RISE! We fail more than we succeed, but with each failure we step closer to success. As I tasted success with a recent life victory, then the failures faded into the background. We cannot forget the sweet tastes that come with a new job, an upper level graduation day, our firstborn child, our wedding day, or in my case, a first major book contract. Those successes push us to yearn for more, but not for ourselves, but rather for God’s Glory.

LATER IS NOT THE TIME! NOW IS! When you doubt where to start, just go! When I cannot think of a blog entry or chapter to write, the best strategy begins with just starting. Eventually while maybe not at first, meaningful words flow.

If you are like me, I am tired of sitting on the sidelines. NOW IS THE TIME TO RISE! ….not tomorrow but today, starting with simple progression through small steps. We bring world change one small step at a time until the snowball launches down the ski slope. On the 400th job application, we get that interview offer we want. And then we feel the rise and crave to rise in the moment this very day.

Through Christ, we are truly risen! With our personal resurrection, we already live in the light through salvation. Now with each blessed day, rise with me! Rise together! Rise up! Now is the time to rise! And with Christ, it is up to you! Do not procrastinate. Do not quit. Do not put the project down. Rise to become more and reach your fullest potential! …for that is the only place where God truly will have us!

Believe inspirational speaker, Eric Thomas, when you realize GREATNESS IS UPON YOU! This video WILL FIRE YOU UP! He coincidentally happens to be speaking to the Auburn football team. WAR EAGLE!