Friday, June 15, 2018

Old Testament Scripture: Rack, Shack, and Benny

Daniel 3: 1-6; 12-13; 16-18 (CEB)

3 King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue. It was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up in the Dura Valley in the province of Babylon. 2 King Nebuchadnezzar then ordered the chief administrators, ministers, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to assemble and come for the dedication of the statue that he had set up. 3 So the chief administrators, ministers, governors, counselors, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. They stood in front of the statue the king had set up. 4 The herald proclaimed loudly: “Peoples, nations, and languages! This is what you must do: 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, lyre, harp, flute, and every kind of instrument, you must bow down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Anyone who will not bow down and worship will be immediately thrown into a furnace of flaming fire."

12 Now there are some Jews, ones you appointed to administer the province of Babylon—specifically, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—who have ignored your command. They don’t serve your gods, and they don’t worship the gold statue you’ve set up.” 13 In a violent rage Nebuchadnezzar ordered them to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They were brought before the king.

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar: "We don't need to answer your question. 17 If our God-the one we serve-is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your majesty, then let him rescue us. 18 But if he doesn't, know this for certain, Your majesty: we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you've set up. 

I want to share something I saw on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. The video pointed out that millions of people go to worship on Saturday or Sunday each week. Some even go to worship other days throughout the week. And if they can't make it to worship they sometimes even watch on television and online. People gather with fellow worshippers well before worship and talk about their excitement for the upcoming event. They go to worship and raise their hands, cheer, pray, and even get excited when worship runs long. Of course the worship I'm talking about is not actually church, it's football. Professional football and college football. And it's not just football but it's baseball, basketball, and golf just to name a few. And it's not just professional and college sports but its those sports that directly affect families on a more personal level. Kids are increasingly playing sports on school teams, club teams, and all star teams and practices for each. I see parents sometimes celebrating and sometimes lamenting the fact that their young kids have 3-4 games on a given weekend.

Here's a link to the video I referenced: Idolatry and Sports

Sunday morning used to be reserved for church but that simply is not the case anymore. Society as a whole has a problem with worshipping false idols. And this includes you and me. My wife and my mom joke and roll their eyes at me and say I need to dump some of the useless sports information and statistics from my head and put some more useful information in there. I mean how does knowing the score of every super bowl from 1986-2018 really benefit the Kingdom of God? If someone knows how that would be useful please let me know. No matter who you are there is always the threat of a false idol. It may not be sports. It may be money, societal status, online shopping, eating, binge watching on Netflix, etc. Everyone has some sort of false idol or temptation they struggle with and it's not a new thing. The worship of false idols has been around for centuries which brings us to our scripture today.

We have the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Of if you prefer the VeggieTales version (which I do) then the story of Rack, Shack, and Benny. So forgive me when I refer to the characters as Rack, Shack, and Benny from here on out. In the story of Rack, Shack, and Benny we have one of the most obvious examples in scripture of worshipping a false idol. For crying out loud King Nebuchadnezzar wants all the people to worship a 90-foot golden statue. (Or if you have watched Veggie Tales, a 90-foot chocolate bunny). King Nebuchadnezzar orders all his officials, governors, treasurers, counselors, etc to tell everyone that they are to bow down and worship this great golden statue whenever they hear the instruments and entire musical ensemble played. He wants them to fall down and do honor which is another way of saying "worship." The king wants the people to worship him on command. But there are three who resist and they are questioned by the King: "You do not worship my Gods and honor my statue?"

Despite his requirements and numerous chances he give Rack, Shack, and Benny to bow down and worship the statue they refuse. And then we get one what I believe to be one of the strongest statements of faith in scripture:

"If our God-the one we serve-is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your majesty, then let him rescue us. But if he doesn't, know this for certain, Your majesty: we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you've set up."

Rack, Shack, and Benny did not hesitate whether they should comply or not. Life or death was not their main consideration, obedience to God was. They must obey God rather than man and they would rather suffer than sin. Because of these convictions they would not be yield to the threat of death. So how do we have that type of faith? How do we resist false idols?

It takes conviction and making worship and God a priority. We can worship whenever and wherever we are able but when we do we must not simply go through the motions. We must worship God and not think about where we are going to lunch or think about our to do list for the week during worship. We must be keenly aware of our worship attitude and posture. But what about those false idols that tempt us? Let me wrap around to where I began. I mentioned earlier about the demands on people's time, specifically to how sports and kids sports take our time. Carson has played baseball and Courtney has had t-ball and dance which has made a serious demand on our time over the past couple of months due to practices, games, and performances. What Kathy and I decided years ago was that these extra curricular activities would not interfere with or take precedent over church worship. If the kids were to have a game on Sunday morning there would be no question as to what would happen: they would not play in that game and we would go to church. For us this is because we want our kids to grow up making church and worship to our God a priority and nothing will take precedent over that. It's a matter of offering our full selves to God and not "worshipping a false idol."

Grace & Peace


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Missing Piece of Moses' Story

Numbers 20: 3-12 (CEB)
Lawsuit over water and Moses’ disobedience
Then the people confronted Moses and said to him, “If only we too had died when our brothers perished in the Lord’s presence! Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this desert to kill us and our animals here? Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place without grain, figs, vines, or pomegranates? And there’s no water to drink!” Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the meeting tent and they fell on their faces. Then the Lord’s glory appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses: “You and Aaron your brother, take the staff and assemble the community. In their presence, tell the rock to provide water. You will produce water from the rock for them and allow the community and their animals to drink.” Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, as the Lord had commanded him.10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. He said to them, “Listen, you rebels! Should we produce water from the rock for you?” 11 Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice. Out flooded water so that the community and their animals could drink. 12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you didn’t trust me to show my holiness before the Israelites, you will not bring this assembly into the land that I am giving them.”

I used to like puzzles when I was growing up. Well I should say that I used to like completing puzzles when I was growing up. I hated it when I couldn't complete a puzzle, especially when it was because the puzzle was missing a piece. It's still frustrating when I don't complete any sort of puzzle. And really the only "puzzle" I like doing these days is sermon writing. Putting together a sermon is very similar to building a puzzle for me. Each part of the sermon must be put in a specific place once all the parts are there so that it makes sense for me and hopefully for everyone who hears it. The process includes picking a scripture, determining where that scripture fits in the larger picture (both in a sermon series and in its biblical scope), looking at feasting on the word and commentaries, looking at historical context, and finally fitting the sermon in with the overall bigger picture. And those are just some of the pieces. One thing I have found and surprised me a bit is that I really enjoy the sermon preparation and the struggle that comes with it week-to-week. One struggle I do have with sermon writing is after the sermon is finished and I think of something else entirely that I believe could have made a sermon better. (In fact this introduction is not the introduction I used when I preached a couple weeks ago on Moses) So let me ask you a question to begin with. Does it bother you when something doesn't get completed? Or more specifically when you don't get to see something completed?

Most of us know Moses' story and all the things he did. He was protected as a child, spoke with a burning bush, parted the red sea, led the Israelites out of oppression in Egypt, and was given the ten commandments. But one thing that may get overlooked from his story is that he leads people to the promised land but he DOES NOT actually get there himself. In the above scripture from Numbers we have the Israelites so frustrated from wandering in the desert that they are actually saying it would have been better to die in captivity than struggle and die in the desert. Their frustration is understandable as they have been wandering the desert for nearly forty years and they are venting and questioning Moses. So Moses and Aaron go and speak with God. Moses then strikes a rock and water pours out of the rock for the community to drink. The problem is that Moses takes credit for providing the water from the rock because he struck it with the staff. Bear in mind, the staff was provided by God and Moses did not do as God had instructed. God's response to this "disobedience" is that Moses and Aaron will not bring the Israelites into the land that was promised because they did not trust God to show God's holiness to the Israelites. At first glance this seems like a harsh punishment for Moses and Aaron because they simply took credit for something. Does it really matter who gets the credit? In this case yes-credit should have been given to God. 

It must have been difficult for Moses to not be able to lead his people into the promised land. Moses has led the people out of oppression in Egypt and led them in the desert for years but God's message and fulfillment of them reaching the promised land will be left in the hands of others and not Moses. I believe this is an early example of God's message being carried on from person to person. 

There's a movie called Exodus: Gods and Kings from a few years ago that ends with an older Moses riding in a caravan looking out upon the horizon to what is likely the promised land and at that point he passes. Moses started something by leading his people out of oppression and hopefully he found solace in the fact that his people would get there and they would be able to carry on what he started. He does not get to the promised land but he does get to see it just before he dies...

Deuteronomy 34:4 Common English Bible (CEB)
Then the Lord said to Moses: “This is the land that I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I promised: ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have shown it to you with your own eyes; however, you will not cross over into it.”

Moses sees the promised land but doesn't cross over into it. I wonder if this was frustrating to Moses because he was so close that he could see it or if it was uplifting to Moses because he had led his people there and they could continue what God promised. I hope he saw the potential in the people and that they would get there.

As far as completion of God's purposes, I (we) must trust and have faith that what we start God will fulfill to completion. I think that Moses had that type of faith. We don't always see the completion of the fruits of our labors and we must be okay with that, we can be okay with that. I won't get to see everything that youth who I have mentored accomplish. I won't get to see everything that my own children do in the future. I won't get to see the completion of everything they do in their lives. But that's okay. It's okay because I know that God has a bigger plan for each of us. We simply trust in that plan and God will see it through to completion.

Grace & Peace

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Old Testament Scripture: Jonah

Jonah 3:7- 4:1(CEB)

Then he (Jonah) announced, “In Nineveh, by decree of the king and his officials: Neither human nor animal, cattle nor flock, will taste anything! No grazing and no drinking water! Let humans and animals alike put on mourning clothes, and let them call upon God forcefully! And let all persons stop their evil behavior and the violence that’s under their control!” He thought, Who knows? God may see this and turn from his wrath, so that we might not perish.10 God saw what they were doing—that they had ceased their evil behavior. So God stopped planning to destroy them, and he didn’t do it.

Jonah balks at God’s mercy

But Jonah thought this was utterly wrong, and he became angry.

I have always pictured the story of Jonah and the whale much like the great white whale in the novel Moby Dick. It's a huge whale that seems to be really outlandish and almost cartoonish. But all the stories I remember about Jonah growing up from Sunday School and vacation bible school the whale is what I believe most people commonly remember because of its outlandishness and grandeur. The whale is huge and memorable. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble but the whale isn't really that important in Jonah's story. The entire book of Jonah is 48 verses long and the whale is mentioned in only two verses. In fact is it's only eleven verses from the first mention of the whale (swallowing Jonah) to the last mention of the whale (vomiting Jonah up on dry land). The belly of the whale is simply a place for Jonah to contemplate running from God and not doing what God asks and maybe even experience spiritual desolation. It could have just as easily been that the fisherman tossed Jonah overboard into a lifeboat and he could have contemplated and prayed for three days in the lifeboat. He could been stranded on a deserted island somewhere contemplating if he wanted to do what God called him to do.

The entirety of Jonah's story is that God asks him to go speak to the people in Nineveh and have them change their evil ways, Jonah sails away in the other direction and in the process puts others at risk, the whale swallows Jonah and finally decides to do what God asks of him and he reluctantly goes to Nineveh. And after they repent and God shows them mercy Jonah is overjoyed and excited. Well not exactly, he pouts because God has shown mercy to others. He's not happy that the people of Nineveh are going to do better and goes to a cliff and pouts under a tree. The tree dies and Jonah is upset that he can't even have a tree for shade. And then God basically tells Jonah that he did nothing to cultivate the seeds and help the tree to grow. Jonah's anger continues and at the end of the book of Jonah, Jonah is distancing himself from God. The book of Jonah ends as it began with Jonah separate from God.

I like to believe that Jonah has a choice to make while he is sitting on the cliff of how he will respond to God. Will he stay angry or will he decide to get to work? He can sit there and sulk or he can climb down from that cliff and help the people of Nineveh. After all they are going to need to learn how to turn away from their evil ways and need help in their spiritual growth. I like to think that Jonah turned toward Nineveh and and goes to do what God called him to do in the first place and preach to the people of Nineveh through his words and his actions.

Like Jonah, sometimes we have a choice to make and do what God calls us to do. And like, Jonah sometimes that can be difficult because we get held up on what we want to do and what is easier for us. Sometimes we must do what is difficult and not what is easy. But much like Jonah, remember that what you do for God matters.

Grace & Peace

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Old Testament Scripture: The Missing Piece

We recently began a sermon series entitled Old Testament Scripture: The Missing Piece? This title is intended to have a double meaning. First, I don't think I myself as a pastor have focused on the Old Testament enough and by doing so we miss part of God's scripture. In fact I went back and looked at all the sermons I have preached in the Gap and Iredell over the last two years to see how many times I used the Old Testament as the primary scripture text. Out of 91 sermons I preached only 10 of them used an Old Testament as the primary text. I'm not great at math but I know that's less than 10%. So obviously I haven't focused on it enough. Second, there are certain Old Testament Passages that when we focus on them we miss certain aspects of the passage. I think we miss things primarily because of what we learned about those passages as children. All those stories we learned in vacation bible school and Sunday school that focus on the fun part of the story. For instance in the story of Joseph when I asked pastor friends of mine what they first remembered and what first came to mind they remembered "the coat of many colors" or "the technicolor dreamcoat" or that Joseph was an interpreter of dreams. As for Jonah, they remember the whale. And for Moses, they remembered the ten commandments and leading his people out of Egypt. When we focus on these parts of the stories we miss a piece of the story which is in my opinion more important.

Today: a quick look at Joseph. If we only focus on the "coat of many colors" or his interpretation of dreams then we miss a more important part of the story. A little backstory, Joseph was the favorite of their father and his brothers were jealous of him. I see Joseph as a bit of a "know it all, smarty pants" type who rubbed his brothers the wrong way, including sharing a dream where the images of his grains stalk was taller and his brothers grain stalks were bowing down to his. They were angry and said: "will you really be our king and rule over us?" This made them hate him even more. His brothers plot to kill him and lie about it but ultimately sell him into slavery. Years passed as he was a slave, wrongfully imprisoned, and then he became the right hand of the pharaoh. And then Joseph's brothers come to him (not knowing he is their brother) for help during an extreme famine. After some waffling about how to handle his brothers we have these words from Joseph which I see as the most important part of the story when he makes himself known to them:

Genesis 45:4-8
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me.” And they came closer. He said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years; and there are five more years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God; he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 

There are two important takeaways from Joseph's words here. First, he recognizes that it wasn't his brothers who sent him there but that "God sent me before you." Joseph goes through many trials and tribulations because of his brothers betrayal but realizes that because of that and because of God's protection that he was there at that moment to preserve his brothers and many others in their time of trial. Second, it shows the power of forgiveness in Joseph. He had every right to be angry and don't forget he doesn't forgive them right away. He doesn't reveal who he is to them right away. In fact, he sets up his brothers by planting stolen goods in their bags of grain as they are leaving. So know it all Joseph tortures his brothers a bit while he is struggling with how to respond. But ultimately he responds with love and forgiveness.

What I now know and take from Joseph's story is not that he had a nice coat. What I remember about Joseph is that he accepts where he is and what he can do and gives credit to God for the position he is now in so that he can help people. And he is able to overlook and forgive his brothers who were willing to kill him when they were younger. If we could understand and enact those two things in our lives wouldn't we be much better off? That's a rhetorical question-of course we would. So I encourage you, wherever you are, to look for why God has put you there at this time and in that place. And I encourage you to show the power of forgiveness by forgiving those people have wronged you. And just think, when you forgive someone else you are also lifting an unnecessary weight off your shoulders as well.

Grace & Peace

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Easter Hangover

Easter is the most important Sunday of the year on the church calendar. Pastors and lay people put time and energy into hospitality, sermons, music, and lent and worship services all leading up to the culmination of their hard work-Easter Sunday. Many people go to church on Easter Sunday that are not frequent attenders. Families get together and visit and hopefully go to church to reflect, remember, and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. And then, just like that Easter has passed. Generally pastors and church staff take some time off to relax and rest from the busyness.

It's important to remember that we don't just stop with Easter and wait for the next "big Sunday" of the year. Did you know that there are actually seven Sundays of Easter? The lectionary scriptures in regards to Easter lead all the way up to Pentecost and the birth of the church. The New Testament scriptures within that time frame include (but are not limited to) Jesus talking with disciples after the resurrection, Thomas and his doubt, Jesus walking on the road to Emmaus, and Jesus ascending to God. The road to Emmaus in Luke's gospel is one of my favorite texts between the resurrection and the ascension:

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 

~Luke 24:13-32

These two are on the road to Emmaus but really have no clue where they are going or what they ought to be doing. They are in a sense on the "road to nowhere." They are recounting the events that changed the world and they say they had "hoped that Jesus would be the one that would redeem Israel." But the Jesus' death has dashed their hopes. They are lost both physically and spiritually...and then Jesus comes along beside them. Jesus begins to talk with them and allow them to work through their disbelief. He doesn't just walk up to them and say: "I'm Jesus, I'm the Messiah." I think that is important because it shows that Jesus has genuine compassion and understanding for these two who are walking along the road trying to make sense of what has happened. This event that even Jesus' closest friends are doubting. By walking with them Jesus offers hope. So what is the hope? The hope that Jesus is sharing with them along the road is hope for those who are struggling to believe. They are struggling with what has happened and doubting, just like Thomas. Jesus opens up the minds of these two to the scriptures. Jesus opens up the scriptures to them by explaining about himself and the scriptures to help their unbelief.

Jesus then breaks bread with them and "their eyes are opened." Jesus has transformed their lives. It's important to remember now that Easter Sunday is past that we don't put Jesus "back in the tomb." (credit to Wade Killough for the not putting Jesus back in the tomb quote). If we put Jesus back in the tomb has Jesus really transformed our lives? The two on the road to Emmaus go and spread what they have experienced through the presence of Christ and we are called to do the same. Spread the news that has transformed our lives. Spread the good news of the gospel by when we break bread and fellowship with one another. If, or better yet when, we do that then we can continue to be Easter people.

Grace & Peace

Friday, January 19, 2018

Ura River School Medical Clinic

Today we visited the Ura River School to conduct a medical clinic for kids and adults. There were hundreds of children and adults who were there for the clinic. The clinic itself was a first step in cooperation with the Maua Methodist Hospital where the hospital and volunteers will conduct a clinic every six months so they can follow the progress of children to keep track of their health. The hope is that groups such as ours will return and visit the same school each time so the teams can develop a relationship with a specific school.

We were greeted with smiles, high fives, and excitement. We spent the first part of the day in an open field talking, high fiving, running, and simply sharing smiles with hundreds of kids. Even though we were different we were not met with fear but with curiosity and excitement. We even got the kids (and ourselves) to act a little bit goofy...

Then Eric and I went to four classrooms to give deworming medicine and helped with height and weight measurement for two of the classrooms. After getting the medicine the kids were given a sucker which they absolutely loved. The classrooms were not what we are used to. The classes were pretty big (around 50 per class) and met in rooms with open windows and dirt floors. It was a very eye opening experience. What I noticed that even with 100 kids in a room (there were two classes combined) that they were very well behaved. They were even asking for pictures and for us to play outside with them throughout the day.

After lunch, I helped with eye exams for adults and we were able to hand out reading glasses for those who needed them. Two instances in particular stood out. First, was a man who was not in need of glasses but was squinting because he needed sunglasses. We didn't have sunglasses, except as luck would have it we had one pair (in the right perscription) that we found about two minutes after the man left. I was able to find him and he came back and got the sunglasses that he needed. He was so grateful that he jogged with me back to the room to get them. And he had a look of pure joy on his face. Stanley got so excited when another man could see with his new glasses and excitedly jumped up and down saying it was "a miracle." Stanley does so much for the people of Kenya, he is the embodiment of that miracle for so many.

Between the eyeglass exams I was able to blow bubbles with the kids. It was great fun even though I was very quickly surrounded by 30-40 kids furiously trying to pop the bubbles. They really enjoyed and I enjoyed the excitement on their faces. It's amazing how something so simple that we sometimes take for granite can cause such excitement.

We were able to help people in need today and have a fun at the same time. It is a great program that has been well thought out by the Maua Methodist Hospital to go to six different schools every six months to track the health of the students and provide medical exams such as looking at blood pressure, testing for diabetes, and checking eyes for adults. The adults and children can follow up with the hospital and get the help that they need. I was glad that we could be a part of this medical clinic today and help so many people. I believe there were over 500 kids that were there and almost the same number of adults (but don't quote me on that). I just know that it was quite a few people.

My prayer for today is that we open our eyes and see the true spirit and nature of God. That God loves all children and all people no matter how different we are. And we are called to do the same. We have been given so much and we need to respond by giving of what we have. We can give hope to so many in the way we use all of our resources. I pray that we would do the best job that we can and use the gifts and resources we have been given to help others in need. Let us not forget that we are all God's children and we need to help one another despite any differences that we may have. Let us greet one another as children of God with excitement, wonder, and high fives.

I will have plenty of time to process what I have seen as we leave Kenya in a couple of days. Going back and looking at pictures, reading what others have posted and blogged about, and sharing what I have experienced will help me fully process the experiences of this pilgrimage. I truly have been blessed to be a blessing. Maybe that's what it's all about.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

A House of Blessings

This afternoon we went to dedicate the AIDS Orphan home that our team has been working on all week. It was an amazing "event" to be seen. Not only were the new home owners there but so was a lot of the community and other organizations that helped. It was truly amazing to see the number of groups represented such as the West District team, the house work team, the Maua Methodist Hospital Community Health Department, and women's group among many others. It was a celebration that brought out a lot of groups who helped in the process of making this a home for Alfred and Bessie. Alfred (15) and Bessie (18) are two AIDS orphans who have lost both their parents to the disease. They were overwhelmed by the celebration and dedication as many of us were. As far as we can tell, they had been living in a shed shack that was about five feet tall with corrugated metal sides. The home they will now live in which is pictured above is a 10X20 two room house which greatly improves their living conditions. As Corey said: "it's not often that you get to see a moment that truly changes someone's life." And he's right, it was very powerful. We have had a couple of those moments this week. They now have a home which we all hope and pray will be a house filled with blessings for years to come. We got to see two youth get a new home and we have got to know the work crews at both the AIDS Orphan Home and the Maua Methodist Hospital. Lisa had the idea to call the house a "House of Blessings" and those words are written on the house along with the date the house was dedicated. It truly has been a week filled with many blessings and the week isn't over yet as tomorrow we will go to serve a neighborhood school by conducting a medical clinic. 

The question in our devotional for this evening was: "what will you tell someone who wasn't with us at the dedication about today?" I believe it was Harrell who said he would tell them everything. And I think that is key. I have been writing this week each day with my thoughts from the day but that doesn't begin to describe the week. I want people to experience it for themselves. I want people to know they we can do more and we can't forget about others. We have been given so much and we should be expected to give back. As uncle Ben from Spider-Man puts it: "with great power comes great responsibility." Or the gospel of Luke puts it this way: 

"Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked."~Luke 12:48

We have been given so much and we should be expected to give back as much. We have so many material things and we don't need them all. We suffer from the burden of having too much while others, such as our Christian brothers and sisters in Kenya suffer from the burden of too little. As we were leaving the building of "The Great Wall" at the Maua Methodist Hospital today I was struck by what our fellow worker and new friend Patrick said to me, Eric, and Margie. He said: "Don't forget about us." 

I can't and I won't.

It's on me, it's on us to go back and share everything about our experience. To share all the blessings that we have given and also the blessings we have received. The blessings that we have received from our God.