15th Dec, 2009

Finding Purpose Through Poverty

I love how God invites us to deliberate with Him, not just talk to Him or about Him or only say good things to Him. He calls to us to share our hearts.

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18.

We see David, the man after God’s own heart, time and time again, crying out to God about his troubles. It is as though he were a lawyer making his complaint.

 9 I say to God my Rock,
       “Why have you forgotten me?
       Why must I go about mourning,
       oppressed by the enemy?”

 10 My bones suffer mortal agony
       as my foes taunt me,
       saying to me all day long,
       “Where is your God?”

 11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
       Why so disturbed within me?
       Put your hope in God,
       for I will yet praise him,
       my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:9-11.

None of this offends our amazing God. He cherishes us and cherishes when we express our heartfelt emotions to Him.

It was in one of those moments that ouTside the boX was born. In less than 8 hours my wife and I and our three kids will be on a plane headed to the Philippines. We are going to celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by giving our Christmas away. Hundreds of people are joining us in this exciting celebration with their gifts and prayers. All of it started with a simple time of prayer, during which I wasn’t exactly filled with moving words of praise and thanksgiving.

I was jogging. I was pondering our lives. We are here at the University of the Nations, thousands of miles away from what we knew for over 30 years and our families, and the Christmas season was nearly upon us. I considered whether we should go to be with our families, but I felt as though the funds that we might use to do that should be used for other things, even though we and our families would love to be together during the holidays. As I recognized that before the Lord I also realized that I had no real desire to sit in Kona and celebrate Christmas.

It was in that moment of a poverty of spirit about our choices for Christmas that God spoke to me and asked me why I couldn’t give our Christmas away. Suddenly my heart leapt as I thought of spending our family Christmas in the Philippines, giving people who otherwise wouldn’t have a Christmas, many reasons to celebrate. There really is no joy like discovering God’s purpose for your life.

As a result, we are preparing gifts for over 300 families. People from Canada, Arkansas, Australia, England, Oklahoma, Texas, New Zealand, Hawaii, and who knows where else have given money and items for us to bless families in the Philippines. We are giving away bibles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, laundry soap, food, toys, shoes, and more to each of the families. Tara packed up 9 suitcases today, not filled with stuff for us, but filled with stuff donated to give away to needy families there.

So, off we go. I cannot wait. Our three kids are brimming with excitement. And we will be meeting not only material needs, but we also will be giving the most important gift, that which is ouTside the boX, the gift that God gave in Jesus Christ. We will be able to tell people that the reason why we are there, giving away our Christmas, is because God so loved them that He gave Jesus Christ so that they can live in relationship with Him.

O what joy fills my soul!

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