Monday, June 25, 2012

ONE body of BELIEVERS...

I don’t have to tell you that there are so many children in need of love, care, and attention in this world. One can be overwhelmed by the photos of so many children in orphanages, on the streets, and in foster care. To hear the number 147 million orphans in the world is staggering & painful.

Several years ago, God provided the opportunity for me to go on several missions trips to various countries. Each of these countries were vastly beautiful with God’s natural creation, yet just to look at the children close by was a stark reminder of the poverty they lived in.  As I left the airport I was shocked at the site of children begging, their clothes tattered and torn, and their little eyes so weary from the worries of life.  Despite the fact that the caregivers were trying their very hardest at what they knew to do,  I was saddened by seeing babies lying in their cribs day in and day out with very little attention.   These little ones were rocking back and forth to soothe themselves most of the day.  One caretaker told us that if we took a baby from a bed, to put them back in the same bed as their names and birthdates were written on a little piece of tape to each bed; otherwise they would not know who they were.  Their cloth diapers were only changed a few times a day and were so thick that these little ones could not roll over or even touch their toes. Bottles were propped and they were not held while they ate. In the bottles was a mixture of pureed vegetables and potatoes.  With streams of tears running down my face and a loss of what to do, I did at that moment the only thing I felt I could do, I gently told each one of them, “Jesus loves you so much”.

The older children, ages 4 and 5, flocked to you like a magnet just wanting a smile and some attention. If you sat down on the floor with them, they sat with you and would not let you get up. When you did leave, they would bang their heads on the floor crying at the top of their lungs. How my heart broke and once again, tears streamed down my face for these precious forgotten children.

But… they are not forgotten, no not a single child!!  Jesus our savior knows every detail of their heart and soul. He wants the very best for them in a family and someone who will tell them on a daily, moment-by-moment basis how much Christ loves them and wants a personal relationship with them. He knows them not by a piece of tape with a name and birthdate written on it, but he knows them as HIS child.

Once again we ask ourselves, how do we deal with the number of orphans in this world?  How do we feel like we can make a difference? Anyone can make a difference even if you are 7 or 107 years old.  ALL believers are called to help! Each and every one of us who have Christ as our Savior are united together into one body of believers.

1 Corinthians 12:20 says: But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”: nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you”.

Here at Lifeline we are also of one body in Christ.  We work together as a team to help make a difference for as many of His precious children as we can! 

So, now the question is for you - Can you foster, or adopt, pray or give of your resources, or time? We would love to talk with you about Lifeline and how you can be a part of HIS hands and feet for HIS children. Please pray and give us a call.

Angela Beemer, Lifeline Children's Services of Kansas Administrative Assistant

Thursday, June 21, 2012

His Timing

My name is Lauren and I have recently joined the Lifeline family. I am serving as a foster care recruiter and trainer for new foster parents in Lee County, Alabama. I am so excited to have joined in with Lifeline and that I am able to be a small part of witnessing Christian families serving as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Through God’s provision, we will be able to witness these foster families making an eternal difference in the life of a child by teaching these children God’s love for them. Although I am very excited to have this opportunity, I should forewarn you that I am not a blogger and that this is my first experience in blogging so bare with me.

I have been thinking of what I would like to share for sometime now and I keep coming back to God’s timing. I have always thought of myself as a very patient person. Through my many adventures to get to Lifeline, I have begun to realize that I am not as patient as I thought I was. Before I started with Lifeline, there was not a Lifeline ministry in Lee County. I previously worked for the Department of Human Resources completing Child Abuse and Neglect Assessments. This job was extremely hard, but very rewarding. There were many times where I felt like I could not go another day, but I am well aware that Jesus led me through those trials. In November, I left my position at the Department of Human Resources and took a huge leap of faith. It was very scary, but I felt that God was leading my path. I was no longer able to serve as the mother and wife I wanted to be due to the stress I was experiencing at the time. This is where I lead into God’s timing. He led me through two amazing years at DHR that gave me so much experience and knowledge into Child Welfare. When I left, I knew that I still wanted to work in Child Welfare in some way, but I was not sure how this would look. I prayed constantly that God would find me a place that would allow me to continue to serve children through social work, but would allow me the time to be the mother I have to be. It is amazing how God answers prayers. Almost immediately after leaving DHR, I was told at church one Sunday that our church was working with Lifeline Children Services to start a foster care ministry. At the time I thought this was very interesting and that I might be able to volunteer, but never considered they might be hiring. I should add that my family had recently moved to the area two years before and had tried several churches to see which church God was calling us to. Cornerstone Church was our first visit and even though we visited several other churches, we always felt pulled back to Cornerstone.
Shortly later, I was contacted by an employee of our church and also a foster parent who I had previously placed children with, that Lifeline was looking to hire a foster care worker and if I was interested, this is the name and number that I should call. Wow! I was amazed and I think I sent an email within the hour! I knew that this was God’s plan for my life.

I was hired within the next two months and have slowly started making contacts in Lee County Churches to initiate our foster care ministry. I am so happy to say that we start our very first foster care training class this next Monday night. I feel that this is just the first of many amazing things that the Lord is going to do in Lee County. We have amazing support including a wonderful DHR team and an amazing family court Judge who is very dedicated to seeing more Christian homes in our county. We are all thrilled at what we will be able to do in the lives of our families here. It is still amazing to me that God placed my family at the right church, knowing that years later this would church would be called into an incredible foster care ministry and that God would bless me with being a part of this ministry.  I know that God has placed all of these events to take place at the right time, His Timing! This gives me the knowledge to realize that when something does not happen as I expect or want it to; it does not mean that I should be discouraged or give up. It may simply mean that it is not meant to happen at this time.
“To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the Heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

“But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy Salvation.” Psalm 69:13
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Lauren Penton, Foster Care Social Worker

Friday, June 15, 2012

This is War

Comfortable, peaceful, my own way I’ll strive,
Millions more walk around, not even alive.

Little discomfort, always something delightful to eat,
While droves of children with mud pies, no hope, surviving on the street.

There’s a war around me, am I ready to fight?
Am I armed with God’s truth, His spirit, His might?

I have everything I need to wage this war,
Yet, so often waking, for me, wanting “more.”

More acceptance, more security, more comfort and relief,
Now brought to my knees reminded, “this is war”, only the gospel brings peace.

Fathers, the fatherless, many in darkness so black,
Lost and unable to see the constant attack.

When wartime is real, we do not even open the door,
before we hear the shots, the cries, and people fall to the floor.

As believers we stand, with the power of the King.
Ready to wage war, confident His glory, He will bring.

Fully armed Body, ready to march forward,
Belt-breastplate-shield, helmet and sword.

Let’s look around us, without fear,
Fervently praying for those who’ve not yet heard, to hear.

The battle we must fight, His righteousness our sight,
The Savior has come, the war has been won.

The Body of Christ, stand ready to fight,
Not against flesh and blood, but against powers of the dark with hatred toward light.

Let’s exhort one another to spend our lives for God’s glory and fame,
Worthy of breathing, living, and fighting, is No other Name.

Krisha Yanko, Development and Marketing Director

 Ephesians 6:10-18
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Philippians 1: 18-30
            Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
            Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Love is just the skin of knowing..

Seven years ago, I married a guy I thought I knew well and honestly, I had no idea the gift God gave me in him on that day.  He has used my husband nearly every day since that sweet day to stretch my heart in ways I never dreamed possible.

Eight months ago God gave us this little guy to stretch our hearts in new and incredibly beautiful ways.

I love a quote from The Shack that reads, "So many believe it is love that grows, but it is knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing.” 

"...Love is just the skin of knowing."  The more I know my husband, and the more we get to know our son the MORE WE LOVE.

Then I think of these words…

"Love the Lord your God with ALL your Heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind and with ALL your strength." Mark 12:30. Ouch.

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL your heart." Jeremiah 29:13. Ouch, again.

How can I love my God with ALL of me and not love His word and thirst for time spent in fellowship with Him above ALL else?

I confess this, that there are days when the urgent crowds out the important, days when I get so wrapped up in parenting and working and serving;  and even times, if I am really being honest, when I am just plain selfish.

Then when my heart is pricked, I make time to sit and savor His word and I read something like this, from Ephesians 1:3-14, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory."

His word, and time spent with Him, completely takes my breath away. I am reminded of the lyrics of a song: “In the quiet, in the stillness, I know that You are God. In the secret of Your presence, I know there I am restored. When You call I won’t refuse! Each new day again I’ll choose! There is no one else for me, none but Jesus! Crucified to set me free, now I live to bring Him praise.”

How can I not desire this time with Him in the same way I desire time to fully know and be known by my sweet husband and little boy?  Each morning, may I wake to look eagerly into His face the way I do my child's. May I hunger for His love above my husband's love.  May I always choose His voice over a thousand others. May I search out the riches of God, may I eagerly learn to know HIS WAY, and may I love Him more for it.
Lauren Strickland, South Alabama Social Worker

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In Love and in Season

Christians are obligated to share the word of God with unbelievers.  There are times when we may find ourselves at a loss for words.  God will open the door for each of us to minister to the hearts and minds of those who are hurting, lost, and broken.  In those times we have to remember the words God spoke to Moses, "Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say".

Each morning I ask God to direct me in my speech.  My time at Lifeline Village has taught me the importance of speaking the right word at the right time.  Roger Ray wrote the below poem and the words remind me daily to speak in love and in season.

Kesha Franklin, Lifeline Village Program Coordinator

The Right Words

Lord, give me the right words to say
To broken hearts that come my way
To those who have been hurt before
That, I not hurt them any more

To those whose hearts have hardened up
To those who won't hold out their cup
That, Lord, You long to overflow
With love and mercy.  Lord, let me know

That I might have the words to say
That I might plant a seed today
That glory would be given to You
Through all I say and all I do

Lord, give me the right words to say
More hearts are breaking every day
They're out there crying in the night
I long to help them see the light

But, fragile are those souls and weak
So this is why Your words I seek
And pray Thee give me words to say
That I, not one soul, turn away.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Respectable" Sins

Last week, I began reading a book that I have read before but felt the need to reread. This book is called Respectable Sins. The premise of the book is that all sin is a crime against God, but we have made certain sins “respectable.” These sins include: jealousy, pride, over eating, envy, etc. Of these four just mentioned, I am chiefly guilty, and I too have fallen prey to the belief that they are “ok.”

I live as though my sin only affects me, and I have missed the glaring truth that MY SIN is what crucified my Savior. Every time I tolerate these sins in myself, I “presume on God’s grace.” I nullify all that he has done and essentially spit in His face along with those that did that very thing while He was led to the cross. 

I do not understand the sufficiency of what Christ did for me on the cross. Romans 6:10 says, “For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives he live to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
I LONG for a proper understanding of Christ’s sufficiency! For as this understanding grows my tendency towards sin, even the “respectable” ones, will diminish because I am seeking eternal pleasure (Christ) over temporary pleasure.  My object of focus should not be my sin, but my Savior. He IS sufficient to save, and His death paid the price for my life.  “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 3:24-25)

I leave you with a quote from the author of Respectable Sins. May we not see our sins as an island that affects only ourselves. May we recognize that our sins spits in the face of a Savior that has set us free!
“. . . as God is holy, all holy, only holy, altogether holy, and always holy, so sin is sinful, all sinful, only sinful, altogether sinful, and always sinful . . .Whether it is large or small in our eyes, it is heinous in the sight of God. God forgives our sin because of the shed blood of Christ, but He does not tolerate it. Instead, every sin that we commit, even the subtle sin that we don’t even think about, was laid upon Christ as he bore the curse of God in our place. And herein lies chiefly the malignancy of sin. Christ suffered because of our sin.” ~ Jerry Bridges

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

Jessica Oetting, Administrative Assistant