Proud to Love an Orphan

A friend just got home from Haiti, and she had a tough, tough time. She spent a few days at an orphanage in Les Cayes, just hanging with some orphans and hearing their stories. One little boy was abandoned by his family on a filthy river bank when he was just 18 months old. His mom and dad simply couldn’t take care of him. So they left him, hoping the orphanage would take him in. It did, of course. He’s nine years old now, and my friend sat with him in the evenings after school. She told me how quiet and still he was. A boy like that should run and play and laugh, but he just sat near her. They had yarn and parachute cord, and she made bracelets with him, noticing how easily he would get discouraged. There wasn’t much she could do, beyond being there with him and encouraging him. She couldn’t bond with him, make promises to him, or raise expectations in him. She was just a visitor.

When she got to the airport in Port-au-Prince, she ran into a Christian group from Illinois. She said they were glowing and happy. They had also just come from an orphanage in Les Cayes. They’d just put a new roof on the main building. They told her their church had been helping the orphanage for several years. They love traveling down to Haiti. They get such a charge from doing good works. She couldn’t help but love them for their happiness and enthusiasm. She told me that she understood why they felt so good about what they had accomplished.

But she also wondered how she could be so sad. God had given her such a special opportunity to serve. She’d had a chance to be present for that little boy. She wondered why she didn’t have the same joyful buzz as those Christians from Illinois. I encouraged her on this. She shared the love of Jesus with that little boy! I know she’ll reflect joy in that, probably as soon as she recovers from the trip.

Her story got me thinking about how we are as human beings, and how we function. Pride is part of our human flesh. “I did something good enough for God to smile! Look what I did, that He smiles on me!” It feels awesome. I think we look for opportunities to feel that way.

But I have news for you. God is smiling on you anyway.

Pride makes us forget about grace. Take any good, solid, decent human being. If they get enough money, if they get enough fame, if they get enough people telling them how awesome they are, they can get pretty full of themselves. It is so easy for a good person to be corrupted with pride.

God knows how the human mind behaves. He knows that we are prideful. He knows that we like to brag and that we enjoy getting recognized for our accomplishments. He knows we’re not perfect! That’s why He sent His Son, who is perfect in every way, to die for us.

It is only through the death of His Son that we can get into heaven. It is the only way. I don’t care how much work you do, you have no shot. It is through His death alone that we enter the Kingdom. Don’t brag about all the great things you have done for God. We are only welcome in His Kingdom because of what His Son did for us, not for what we did. We didn’t do anything.

When Jesus died for us, He took away our right to boast. He took away our pride. He took it for a reason. Pride is too tempting! He had to save us from it. The only option was to eliminate it. This is the genius of God! The only person to get credit for getting us into the Kingdom is also the only person that won’t feel pride because of it. Jesus! He won’t brag about what He did. He’ll only say, “I’m just so glad you guys are all here, man!” You know?

So praise Jesus for what He did! He came in human flesh, dying for mankind. Now we are in Him, and He is in us. He brings us into the Kingdom of God. He brings us to eat at the banquet table of the King. We did nothing to get here. No money, no fame, no lottery ticket. No orphanage roofs or bracelets made from yarn. Nothing! Jesus did it all. Boast about that!

Fulfilled by Work

Last time I suggested that working to earn money and achieve our goals is important, but that we as human beings need something more. Let me put that into perspective. Americans aren’t the only people to work hard, but we are among the few who are able to achieve success from our hard work. In some countries, people never make more than two or three dollars a day, no matter how hard they work. They never work their way out of poverty because they literally can’t. There’s just no way to do it.

There are so many people out there in the world who work just as hard as we do and will never, ever, ever, be able to make more than two or three dollars a day, unless something changes. You can help. Continue reading

Why Do You Work?

Why do you work? If you work because you need a paycheck, or because you want to make tons of money, I understand.

And maybe you also work because you’ve set goals. You have said, “I want to achieve something great. At my job, greatness comes with a raise or a promotion, so that’s my goal.” You work hard for your goals. I really do understand that.

Suppose I say to someone, “You have to work hard if you want to become the president of your company.” And they say, “Yeah, I want to do that.”

Then I would ask, “Okay, why?’ Continue reading

Satisfy Your Soul

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We did not choose to be born in America. We could have been born in Uganda or Haiti. Imagine that! I respect that I was born in America.

But we weren’t born here because we’re lucky. We were born here because we are blessed.

We are blessed to be born in a country where we have freedom and prosperity. We are blessed to have the opportunities that freedom and prosperity make possible. I know some people think we’re not prosperous. We hear a lot of concern about the economic crisis. But unless you’re making less than four dollars a day, you’re making more than 90% of people in the world. Continue reading

Serving Like Jesus

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Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share my dreams with you by describing my organization’s REACH program. We’re trying to create a generation that has come alive in Christ.

REACH starts with water. Water is the source of life. But people all over the world live without access to clean water. Their water makes them sick. They need wells.

For eight thousand dollars your youth group can build a fresh-water well. You’ll change a community of fifteen hundred people! It’ll erase 90% of diseases in that community. They will flourish!

Generation Alive is trying to get youth groups and young kids to try this. Suppose you have a youth group of one hundred kids. We want to get one hundred kids to figure out some way to raise eighty dollars each in three months. Eighty dollars! That’s it.

Do you think we can do that? Continue reading

Selfless Love

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Those of you who have not attended a Feed the Hunger event should consider staging one in your church, school, or community. Everybody deserves to experience it at least once!

These kids had so much they could have done on a Saturday afternoon in winter. We have so much outdoor stuff to do. But they said, “No, we’re going to help someone who needs to be helped.” It was the greatest thing. For four hours we saw selfless love, complete and utter selfless love. Continue reading

The Fulfillment of Work

Why do you work? If you work because you need a paycheck, or you want to make tons of money, I understand that. To a point.

But I also understand that for most of us, we can do something more. Even if you have fifty cents, a dollar, two dollars extra, you can pay for someone’s day. That’s the same amount of money that people in some countries make in a day. So if you give a little extra, you can support somebody’s one day paycheck. You really do have the ability to do that.

And maybe you work hard because you’ve set goals. You say, “I want to achieve something great. At my job, to be great, you have to get that raise or that promotion, and I want to be great, so that’s my goal.” I really do understand. But it can’t stop there, because by itself, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I mean, what is the point of being great? Continue reading