One Less.

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The following post was written by World Impact missionary Adria Medlen.  As we face the brokenness of the city we celebrate in knowing that we serve a God who has conquered death and breathes new life into all who believe in Him.  

One less. As we made a right-hand turn onto Grand Boulevard in front of our ministry building, there were
remnants of the crime scene from the night before. White ash dotted the black asphalt where the flares
had warned off traffic. Crime-scene tape hung without purpose, now that the light of day had brought
back regular activity. One less. The thought of there being one less person in the world, in our neighborhood,
weighed heavily on me (Adria) as we rounded the corner, our day proceeding as usual. For another
family, this loss of life will leave a gaping hole that will make it impossible for this to be another day as usual,
and for one forty-year-old man an eternal destiny, of either life or death, has been decided.

No doubt there will soon be a memorial erected on a sign or light pole beside the street, flowers and teddy
bears marking the loss of his life. We see it many times here in the city, pillars of stuffed animals charting an
all too familiar path, winding its way through city streets toward eternity; violence abruptly ushering souls
from their bodies, some prepared to meet their Savior, and some not. If I let myself dwell on it, pain tightens
my chest. Too many, Lord. Too many lives lost in life and in death.

Death and brokenness are daily realities in the city. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but I find both anguish
and mercy for those of us who remain. The loss of life will always bring pain, but facing it regularly
keeps us focused on the frailty of life. Death provides an urgency that usually wanes in our complacent
hearts. As followers of Christ we are here with a purpose, one that we must not take lightly. There are lives
that hang in the balance.

With the prevalence of death in the city, it is easy to let discouragement creep in; but this month as we celebrate
the death and resurrection of our Lord, I am reminded that we serve a God who conquered death.
He is a living God, with the power to breathe His resurrection into any and all who accept it. What a gift of
freedom for the city, locked in the bonds of death and brokenness! Ministry in the city can feel daunting at
times, but Christ’s freedom and power are unleashed in the world
through His people. This is why the only answer in the face of death
and brokenness is to invest in the expansion of God’s Kingdom.

I cannot reach everyone, but if I disciple even two people who each
disciple two people, who each disciple two more, we will soon have
the resurrection power of Christ rushing through the city streets.
Churches of the lost, who now are found, will multiply with eternal
force bringing the hope and freedom and healing and power of our
Savior. This is our prayer; this is our mission.

Praise God, death has no hold on us in Christ! He has risen!

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Answering the Call

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God continues to call His best and His brightest to work in the inner city.  This past weekend a young family in Pennsylvania loaded all of their earthly belongings into a moving truck, said goodbye to friends and family and began the two day cross-country trek to inner city Saint Louis to serve as missionaries with World Impact.

We are very pleased to announce the addition of Jordan and Kathryn King, along with their five month old son Mason, to our team in Saint Louis.  Over the last year we have gotten to know them and the calling that God has placed on their hearts to serve among the urban poor.  Their desire to serve is evident and their willingness to follow God’s call is encouraging.

For the last several years Kathryn has served in various roles at World Impact’s Harmony Heart Camp in Pennsylvania.  During that same time Jordan has worked as a family counselor in the Scranton area and also helped around the camp when available.  We are anxious to see how God chooses to use their gifts to impact His Kingdom in the city.

Please pray for Jordan and Kathryn as they settle into their new home.  Pray for a smooth transition, for peace and protection, and for quick and easy relationships with their neighbors.  Pray for their need for additional financial support as they continue to seek partners who will support their ministry.  Most importantly, pray that God will use Jordan and Kathryn and the example of their family to build and bring glory to His Kingdom.

Back in the Game

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After two and a half years of dormancy I’m making a return to this blog.  When I last posted Hannah and I had just moved to Saint Louis and three weeks later welcomed our first child, our daughter Mona.  Needless to say, life was busy and blogging dropped down on my list of priorities.  Over the last couple of years I took to mini-blogging on Twitter and more recently have been posting my thoughts on my World Impact Blog.  Much has happened over the last couple of years, including the birth of our son, Gavin, last December, and there is still much more to come. I look forward to sharing thoughts on life and ministry in the inner city with you.

What would you like to hear about?

B90X

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Hannah and I have looked into a workout program recently that you’ve probably heard of.  It’s called P90X.  Anyone that I hear talk about using it talks about how difficult it is but if you stick with it for 90 days, “It’s life (and body) changing!”  I’m usually somewhat skeptical of these types of things and don’t want to waste my money so I was hoping a find a bootlegged version online.  After searching for all of about 3 minutes I lost interest and had pretty much forgotten about it.  This all happened about a month ago.

Yesterday, while scrolling down my home page on Twitter I noticed a new tweet by Gayle Wiese saying that she had just finished day 82 of B90X.  I had never heard of this B90X so I thought I would check it out.  Come to find out it’s not any sort of normal workout program, although I’m sure it’s “life changing”.  B90x is a reading program in which you read the Bible in it’s entirety in 90 days.  Pretty lofty goal! I’m going for it and am much more excited about it than I ever would be with just another workout program.  I have finished day one, Genesis 1:1 – 16:16.  I plan to complete the program.  Hold me accountable.

Tweet Tweet

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I’m always skeptical of new things….especially when it comes to social networking.  Over the last few months I have thought a lot about Twitter.  I have been mostly leaning against it.  Who really wants to know what I am doing all the time?  My friend Troy joined and I gave him a hard time about it but then just a few weeks later I saw him put it to good use when his wife, Shari, and their newborn daughter Ashlyn had to spend several days in the hospital.  I found myself checking his Twitter homepage for updates.  Well, with my own daughters arrival due anytime I have decided I am going to give this thing a try.  I will use it to update during Hannah’s hospitalization and the delivery.  If all goes well, who knows, I may decide to keep using it.  You can follow me by going to my Twitter homepage.

Destination: St. Louis

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As long ago as during our engagement, Hannah and I began to feel drawn to urban ministry. At the time, Indianapolis was the only city we were very familiar with so we began looking for opportunities to minister there. It seemed that no matter where we looked or how much we tried to take things into our own hands, nothing seemed to work out. It was frustrating for us at times and we couldn’t really figure out why nothing was working like we thought it should.

Shortly after that we came across the opportunity at Mooseheart. Even though it was a bit of a different direction than we thought we were headed it seemed like it was the right thing for us to do. For the past year we have lived and worked with 10 high school girls from various backgrounds. Looking back on the last year, I see it as a year of learning. But all along our desire and passion to be involved in urban ministry has not left us.

A few weeks ago, we became aware of the ministry of World Impact. World Impact is an urban missions organization that has ministries in several urban areas across the United States. After looking into the organization a bit we visited their ministry center in St. Louis and met the staff there. After much consideration and prayer over the last few weeks, Hannah and I believe we are being called to serve as urban missionaries with World Impact. This has all come together pretty quickly and we will be making our move from the Chicago area to St. Louis at the end of May. We are very excited about how God is working in our lives and are anxious to be part of this great ministry. I am going to leave it at that for now, but we will keep you up to date with more information later. Please keep us in your prayers as we seek to follow His will for our lives.

The Great Change

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I’m reading a biography of William Wilberforce entitled Amazing Grace. Wilberforce led the effort to abolish the slave trade in England in the late 1700’s. However, he did not take up this cause until after making a decision to give his life to Christ. The following excerpt describes the changes that took place in Wilberforce’s life.

When Wilberforce returned to the House of Commons in 1786, he was a different man. He had not yet officially discovered the two great causes to which he would give the rest of his life–what he would later call his two “great objects”– but he seems already to have been sauntering in their direction. He had lived so long for his own ambition that to live for God, as he now longed to do, was a foreign and strange proposition and would take time to sort out. Two changes manifested themselves right away: the first was a new attitude toward money, the second toward time. Before “the Great Change,” Wilberforce had reckoned his money and time his own, to do with as he pleased, and had lived accordingly. But suddenly he knew that this could no longer be the case. The Scriptures were plain and could not be gainsaid on this most basic point: all that was his–his wealth, his talents, his time–was not really his. It all belonged to God and had been given to him to use for God’s purposes and according to God’s will. God had blessed him so that he, in turn, might bless others, especially those less fortunate than himself.

A great example to follow.

Running In Circles

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I like to run.  I ran track and cross country in high school and have continued to run off and on since then.  Last fall I ran a half marathon in Chicago, my farthest race so far.  With that being said, I’m no expert on running.  I just like to run.  Well, the Mooseheart girls track team was without a coach this season and were having a hard time finding someone to take the position.  So….guess who the new track coach is.

We had our first couple of practices this past week.  Motivating girls to run is not real easy.  I can’t figure out why girls who don’t like to run come out for a track team. 

It should be an interesting season.  I’m looking forward to some successes and bracing for some disappointments.  I enjoy the challenge!

Peace!

Hungry!!

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hungry-children

Today is Global Food Crisis Day.  A day set aside to draw attention to the desperate situation that is happening all over the world.  The UN World Food Programme calls the current global food crisis “a phenomenon, a silent tsunami,” that is affecting millions of families in every nation on every continent. This global food crisis is more rapid, urgent and devastating than any other in the history of our planet.

The cost of food staples have roughly doubled in many countries due to unstable oil prices, increased meat consumption in countries like India and China, droughts in major crop-producing countries, and increased production of biofuels as well as other factors. 

This is a crisis we cannot ignore.  As christians we are called to feed the hungry.  You can learn more about the Global Food Crisis and find out how you can help by following this link.

Affluent Church

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The following is a piece I ran across on RELEVANTMagazine.com.  It’s title is A Letter to the Affluent Church by Jeff Goins.  It could seem a little harsh but has some pretty good points.

Dear Christian,

Please stop complaining about the economic recession in America. Seriously. It’s beginning to bug me. I’m bothered by the mass layoffs as much as the next person, but I just can’t help but be irked by how you’re coping with this so-called crisis. So, if you don’t mind, please stop your whining.

Please stop thinking that the “blessed are the poor” verse in the Beatitudes now applies to you, because you had to stop going out to eat more than once a week. I would appreciate it if you would stop lamenting how you’re strapped for cash and forced to “cut costs” just after you bought your teenager her very own cell phone with text messaging plan. There are real people who are hurting during this time, and it’s apparently not you. Not while your kids play their hand-held video games in the backseat of the Suburban and you and the Mrs. enjoy worship tunes blasting from the iPod. Not while you drink Starbucks coffee after church and spend your Sundays taking naps in a well-heated home.

 

No, you’re not “hurting” as badly as you’d like to think. So, give it a rest, would you? Your “sufferings” are insults to those who have been laid off and tossed to the curb. Your “trials” are simply offensive to those who have lost their homes in the past six months. Frankly, right now, I’m a little ashamed to be included among you.

 

 

However, I’m concerned that there may be more at stake here than just your family’s ability to go on vacation or buy more plasma screen TVs. A world that has been skeptical of evangelicalism for awhile now has an opportunity to be proven wrong, and I’m worried that we’re missing it. Because we’re caught up in the melodrama of our own inconveniences, we’re missing the chance to show those who have yet to see true Christianity in action. I’m not talking about megachurches and light shows. I’m talking about the kind of Christianity that puts generosity above self-preservation. I’m talking about the kind of Christianity that gives not just out of its affluence, but even out of its poverty. I’m talking about the kind of Christianity where solidarity doesn’t just mean being united in orthodox beliefs, but it also means sharing each other’s resources.

There is something else that really puzzles me, dear Christian. If you’re really hurting during this recession as you claim to be, why in the world haven’t you turned off your cable or satellite service in order to make this month’s rent? Why do you still drive that new gas-guzzler all over the suburbs? And why the heck are you still buying brand-name foods and clothing?

Let’s be perfectly clear—I don’t have anything against SUVs, nice restaurants, or even home entertainment. But you said, “Times are tough,” and I’m just failing to see it. If that were the case, wouldn’t your spending habits have changed by now? Wouldn’t you stop going to the mall every Saturday afternoon? Wouldn’t you have been forced to sell something in order to feed your children? Or was that not necessary? Did you mean to say, “I can no longer comfortably consume everything in sight without seeing the natural consequences of my greed”? Is that what you meant?

I’m not trying to be a jerk; I just want you to see that there are bigger things happening than your own excessive wants not being met. Consider the possibility that some families in your neighborhood have recently lost all forms of income. They’re hurt, confused, and scared. A Jesus-follower like yourself could do them a lot of good, if you were aware of their plight. Be warned—it’s impossible to significantly help others, if you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

I am sure that you’ve heard Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents” at some point. You may have even listened to a preacher pontificate on the principle that God doesn’t give us “much” until we’ve proven ourselves trustworthy with “little.” I wonder if maybe the opposite is now happening—that our Lord wants to see what we’ll do with less than we’re accustomed to having. Will we bravely give, even when our own creature comforts take a hit, or will we get caught up in our frustrated pursuits of consumption and excess? I realize that you may have had to make some real sacrifices lately, and I don’t want to make light of that. If that’s the case, then I challenge you (and myself) to consider how God may still be calling us to be courageously generous. Maybe during this recession, He is calling us to bless others. Not because we can afford it, but because we, as members of an invisible kingdom that offers freedom from the world’s system, can’t afford not to be so bold with whatever He has entrusted to us.

Hymn

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On most days I use a book entitled, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People, as a guide for prayer and Scripture reading.  It is based on the Christian calender and each week has a different theme.  A part of each weeks’ guide is a hymn, many of which I’ve never heard.  This normally isn’t my favorite part but every once in a while I run across a good one.  Here is this weeks:

O God of every nation,

Of every race and land,

Redeem your whole creation

With your almighty hand;

Where hate and fear divide us,

And bitter threats are hurled,

In love and mercy guide us,

And heal our strife-torn world.

From search for wealth and power

And scorn of truth and right,

From trust in bombs that shower

Destruction through the night,

From pride of race and station

And blindness to your way,

Deliver every nation,

Eternal God, we pray.

Lord, strengthen all who labor

That all may find release

From fear of rattling saber,

From dread of war’s increase;

When hope and courage falter,

Lord, let your voice be heard;

With faith that none can alter,

Your servants undergird.

Keep bright in us the vision

Of days when war shall cease,

When hatred and division

Give way to love and peace,

Till dawns the morning glorious

When truth and justice reign,

And Christ shall rule victorious

O’er all the world’s domain.

 

-William W. Reid Jr.-

Weekend

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Hannah and I were able to go back home to visit friends and family in Indianapolis this weekend.  Some highlights:

We were able to visit with my former co-workers at Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service, who I’m proud to say were recently named as one of six finalists for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.  Congrats to all of the great people there, your caring professionalism and compassion does not go unnoticed!  During that visit we also went to lunch at the new Bella Vita restaurant in downtown New Castle.  I was impressed.

We visited and had dinner with three couples that we used to go to church with and were part of our small group.  Good food again, this time at Puccini’s Smiling Teeth.  Congrats to Chad and Brittany Smith who are expecting their first child!

Breakfast at Panera with Wade and Stephanie Carignan.  Good friends and owners and artists of Carignan Gallery.  If you are in need of photography, fine art, print design, or web design the Carignans are amazing!

Celebrated my Mom’s and Hannah’s Dad’s birthdays with our families.  Sixty how many Mom?  Always great to spend time with our families!

Were able to meet Brayden McHone for the first time!  He’s the newly born son of our friends Ryan and Tiffany.  Cute kid!  I do feel somewhat guilty for buying him a Chicago Cubs onesie, but hey losing teams need fans too!

Hung out with the Knightstown gang, my buddies who I’ve known most of my life and are like brothers to me. 

Learned more about two awesome ministries in Indianapolis.  We had dinner with Doug and Judy Litsey who recently started Fletcher Place Ministries in the Fletcher Place Neighborhood.  Very cool ministry that I’m sure I will talk about more as things get underway.  We also worshipped at Shepherd Community on Sunday morning.  We were blessed to be a part of their services. 

On our way back to the Chicago area we made a pit stop in Lafayette to see Troyand Shari Hochstetler and Kyla.  Troy was one of our pastors in Indy and is now senior pastor at Lafayette First Church of the Nazarene.  The Hochstetlers have been great friends over the last few years, we’re excited about their upcoming baby too!

Does it sound like we were busy?  We were.  I’m tired.  Now, back to work.

Peace!

Transition

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A few observations from President Obama’s inauguration today.

– The United States does this transition thing really well!  We are really good at coming together only a couple months after a brutal campaign and at least pretending to get along. 

–  No matter what your political pursuasion is, it is a great accomplishment for the United States that an African American man was sworn in as President.  We have come a long way in a short time. 

– I was proud of Pastor Rick Warren for being man enough to pray in the name of Jesus.  We need more Christian leaders like him.

– President Bush has aged way too much in 8 years. 

– Why did they pick one of the smallest ladies at the event to push Vice President Cheney in his wheelchair?

– Aretha Franklin is not a good singer anymore.

– I’m no fashion expert, but Michelle Obama’s green gloves looked kind of funny with her gold outfit.

– I liked former President George H.W. Bush’s fuzzy hat.

– I wonder who felt the most resentment at having to attend.  John McCain or Hillary Clinton?

–  President Bush and Laura Bush are genuinely nice people.  It was obvious that they have formed a close relationship with the Obama’s. 

– Ballots do work better than bullets.

Todays Prayer

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I recently downloaded Brandon Heath’s song, “Give Me Your Eyes” onto my I-pod.  I can’t listen to it without feeling like I should pray the words of the chorus.

“Give me your eyes for just one second.  Give me your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing.  Give me your love for humanity.  Give me your arms for the brokenhearted–the ones that are far beyond my reach.  Give me your heart for the ones  forgotten.  Give me your eyes so I can see.”

These words stir something up inside of me.  They make me feel guilty, they make me feel sad, and they make me feel passionate about walking in the steps of Jesus.

Listen here.

Family

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I am thankful for my family.  I am thankful that I have been blessed to have a family that is not divided.  It’s nice to be able to get together with the whole family for special occasions. 

My parents taught me from birth that a relationship with Jesus Christ was the most important thing in my life. I’m thankful for that. I love my parents!

I don’t see my sister all that often these days, she’s in California and I’m in Chicago.  It’s good to see her when she comes home to visit.   I’m thankful for her and her family.  Her husband Paul serves our country in the U. S. Navy while Belinda works full time as a wife and mom to Kaitlyn, Karissa, and Lauren. 

My brother Dave and I are close.  I’m thankful for that.  We tend to think alike.  It’s scary sometimes.  I enjoy our disussions about politics, Butler basketball, and poking fun at people.  It’s good times.  Dave and his wife Joy have always been understanding and helpful in any situation.  I’m thankful for Dave, Joy, Evan and Allie. 

I’m thankful for all of my extended family.  I have been blessed by having a great mother and father-in-law and brothers and sisters-in-law. 

I never want to take my family for granted.  I am blessed.

What are you thankful for?

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Thankful

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I don’t say “Thank you” enough.  I am thankful, I just don’t always do a good job of showing it.  Over the next several days leading up to Thanksgiving I am going to disuss a few of the things that I am thankful for. 

One of the major blessings in my life is my wife Hannah.  I am thankful to God for her. I love that we get to spend a large majority of our time together.  She is, without a doubt, my best friend.  Hannah is one of those people that everyone likes as soon as they meet her.  I am thankful that she lives a life that is devoted to Christ.  I am thankful that we have been given the blessing of life.  She will be an amazing mother, just as she is an amazing wife!

What are you thankful for?

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Baby Riggs!

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It’s true!  Hannah and I found out about three weeks ago that we are being blessed with the gift of life, Hannah is pregnant!  We of course are pretty excited!  We traveled home to Indiana this past weekend where we were able to share the news with our families and friends.  On Sunday evening we shared the news with our girls here at Oregon Home and they too are more than a little excited.  If you want all of the details you may want to read Hannah’s blog, she’s much more detailed than I am.  We will keep everyone updated and hope that you keep us in your prayers!

Words from Troy

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If anyone reads this blog very often, you will know that I rarely….ok, never make two posts in one day.  In fact recently I have had a hard time making two posts in one week, but I’ve been distracted by the election….I’ll get back on track.  Anyway, today after I had written my first post I was checking out the blog of my friend Troy Hochstetler.  Troy is a good friend of mine who I would consider to be one of the biggest influences on my spiritual life.  He has an awesome way with words and his latest blog entry is an excerpt from his journal that is worth reading.  Click Here.

Aid to Pakistan

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One of the struggles that I think a lot of us have when it comes to poverty and needs of others is the question of “What can I do to help?”  It seems difficult to know how we can make a difference, especially if your financial resources are limited.  One of my goals with this page is to provide answers to that exact question.

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One inexpensive way that you can help is my filling an Action Pack through Voice of the Martyrs.  VOM is currently making an effort to send 10,000 Action Packs to Pakistan to help those in need.  When you request an Action Pack, VOM will send you an empty vacuum bag that can be filled with supplies by you.  Socks, coats, clothing, blankets  and other new or lightly used items can be put in the bag before sending it  back to VOM.  They will then make sure that it is delivered to Pakistan along with copies of the gospel storybook, He Lived Among Us.  This is a project that you can do as an individual, with your family, small group or youth group and is a very inexpensive way to show Christ’s love to those in need.

Candidates: By the Numbers

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Much of what we discuss on these pages has to do with giving.  Giving of all resources, but often we discuss financial giving to worthy organizations.  With a presidential election looming just a couple of weeks away I thought it would be interesting to see what the candidates are giving and who they are giving to.  It should be noted that in the numbers shown below, Barack and Michelle Obama file joint tax returns while John and Cindy McCain file separately.  The income for the Obama’s is for both Mr. and Mrs. Obama, much of which was book earnings from Mr. Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope.  In comparison, the Obama’s 2006 earnings were just under $1 million.  The income for Mr. McCain is his income only.  Cindy McCain has not released all of her tax information but portions released show that she earned an additional four million dollars in 2007. 

                                                                                Obama                                          McCain

2007 Adjusted Gross Income            $4,139,965                                $386,527

Charitable Gifts                                               $240,370                                   $105,467

Percentage of Income                                        5.8%                                           27.3%

Obama’s Charitable Causes Supported in 2007:  United Negro College Fund ($50,000), CARE ($35,000), Trinity United Church of Christ ($26,270), The Rochelle Lee Fund ($10,000), AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families ($5,000)

McCain’s Charitable Causes Supported in 2007:  Operation Smile ($25,000), The HALO Trust USA ($25,000), Craniofacial Foundation ($10,000), School of American Ballet ($5,000), Scottsdale Christian Academy ($5,000)

Source: Tax Returns of candidates/opensecrets.org/world magazine

Poverty Today

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Today is Blog Action Day, an annual nonprofit event that aims to trigger a global discussion.  Each year a specific subject is determined and bloggers across the world tackle that particular subject.  This year just happens to be poverty and today is the day, pretty fitting huh? 

Poverty is a huge subject to try to wrap your mind around and I will be the first to admit that I can’t completely grasp it.  I can’t explain why one child is born into wealth and luxury while on the other side of the world another is born into conditions where every day is a struggle for life.  Rather than longing for the newest video game or tickets to see their favorite team play, this child hopes to get a spoonful of rice after his siblings get their share and maybe even a drink of dirty water.  What is fair about that?  How does God allow that?  How do we begin to understand that?  What do we do about that? 

I don’t have answers to all of those questions, but I am not willing to sit back and wait until all of the answers are given to me.  Here are some of the things that I will do to address poverty in the world today and I ask for you to join me

1. Read and study what the Bible has to say about poverty.

2. Pray for God’s will to be done “on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

3. Sponsor a child.

4. Give a gift to those in need.

5. Raise awareness.

All of these are fairly general ideas and you can find more specifically what I’m referring to by clicking on the links. 

What else can we be doing to address the issue of poverty?

Noelia

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About 6 months ago, while attending a Jeremy Camp/Toby Mac concert, Hannah and I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion.  We were given a packet of information to fill out and in that packet was a picture of Noelia Arely Sorto Gomez, an eight year old girl from El Salvador.  Our card gave us a few details about Noelia: she lives with her parents and 4 siblings, her father is sometimes employed while her mother maintains the home, she likes playing with dolls, and she attends school where her performance is average.  By becoming a sponsor we were making a commitment to make a small financial donation each month and to also stay in contact with Noelia through letters.  Sponsors are encouraged to stay in touch with their sponsored children because it helps the child to know that someone is praying for them and thier family.  However, Hannah and I have found that we are the ones who are encouraged by what this little eight year old girl writes to us.  In recent letters she speaks very little of herself: 

“I greet you in the name of the Lord, hoping you are in good health……I am happy and excited of what you told me that you take care of children.  You must love the children very much.  I know that you love me too.  I think of you. ……Please pray for my brother, so that he will not get sick…….With much love, Noelia”

 “I greet you with much love.   I wish success in your daily activities.  I wish you are fine with all the ones who round you.  I am very good of health.  Only my brother is a little bit sick. Please pray for him so God heals him soon.  I always pray for you so God keeps you wherever you are.  Where do you live?  Does it snow or rain? I’ll pray for you.  Until soon, Noelia”

The thought of Noelia praying for Hannah and I is amazing to me.  We are supposed to be her sponsors yet I feel that we benefit just as much if not more from the sponsorship than she does.  I would encourage any of you who are thinking of child sponsorship to consider Compassion

 

NO HOT WATER!!!

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As I start this new blog I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I take the things that I have for granted.  I feel like for the most part I am thankful for what I have, and am pretty aware of the poor quality of life that many others live in daily.  I make an effort quite often to talk to our girls about being thankful for what they have, even though they come from homes where they haven’t had much, I try to explain to them that compared to many others in the world they are blessed.  This past Sunday we woke up to find out that we had no hot water in our home.  I must confess that the girls weren’t the only ones complaining.  Even though we had perfectly good water, we were all really frustrated that it wasn’t the right temperature.  On Monday our water heater was repaired but since they had to shut the water off for a while to fix it, when they turned it back on our water was a little dirty.  Again, you would have thought we were going through a major crisis, even though there was a water cooler for drinking water in the next room!  I’m not sure that I can quite get words around what I want to say, but let me try.  I am in no way saying that we should do without warm or clean water.  We should use the blessings we have been given.  But we need to be very aware and thankful for what we have that many don’t.  The fact that we were so bothered by the very small inconvenience of our water being the wrong temperature concerns me.  Something seems completely out of wack when half of the world is struggling to survive because they can’t get clean drinking water and we use it to spray on our grass. 

                                            

Unsafe water kills over 5,700 children a day.  You can help by giving a gift through World Vision.

One Less.

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The following post was written by World Impact missionary Adria Medlen.  As we face the brokenness of the city we celebrate in knowing that we serve a God who has conquered death and breathes new life into all who believe in Him.  

One less. As we made a right-hand turn onto Grand Boulevard in front of our ministry building, there were
remnants of the crime scene from the night before. White ash dotted the black asphalt where the flares
had warned off traffic. Crime-scene tape hung without purpose, now that the light of day had brought
back regular activity. One less. The thought of there being one less person in the world, in our neighborhood,
weighed heavily on me (Adria) as we rounded the corner, our day proceeding as usual. For another
family, this loss of life will leave a gaping hole that will make it impossible for this to be another day as usual,
and for one forty-year-old man an eternal destiny, of either life or death, has been decided.

No doubt there will soon be a memorial erected on a sign or light pole beside the street, flowers and teddy
bears marking the loss of his life. We see it many times here in the city, pillars of stuffed animals charting an
all too familiar path, winding its way through city streets toward eternity; violence abruptly ushering souls
from their bodies, some prepared to meet their Savior, and some not. If I let myself dwell on it, pain tightens
my chest. Too many, Lord. Too many lives lost in life and in death.

Death and brokenness are daily realities in the city. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but I find both anguish
and mercy for those of us who remain. The loss of life will always bring pain, but facing it regularly
keeps us focused on the frailty of life. Death provides an urgency that usually wanes in our complacent
hearts. As followers of Christ we are here with a purpose, one that we must not take lightly. There are lives
that hang in the balance.

With the prevalence of death in the city, it is easy to let discouragement creep in; but this month as we celebrate
the death and resurrection of our Lord, I am reminded that we serve a God who conquered death.
He is a living God, with the power to breathe His resurrection into any and all who accept it. What a gift of
freedom for the city, locked in the bonds of death and brokenness! Ministry in the city can feel daunting at
times, but Christ’s freedom and power are unleashed in the world
through His people. This is why the only answer in the face of death
and brokenness is to invest in the expansion of God’s Kingdom.

I cannot reach everyone, but if I disciple even two people who each
disciple two people, who each disciple two more, we will soon have
the resurrection power of Christ rushing through the city streets.
Churches of the lost, who now are found, will multiply with eternal
force bringing the hope and freedom and healing and power of our
Savior. This is our prayer; this is our mission.

Praise God, death has no hold on us in Christ! He has risen!

Answering the Call

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God continues to call His best and His brightest to work in the inner city.  This past weekend a young family in Pennsylvania loaded all of their earthly belongings into a moving truck, said goodbye to friends and family and began the two day cross-country trek to inner city Saint Louis to serve as missionaries with World Impact.

We are very pleased to announce the addition of Jordan and Kathryn King, along with their five month old son Mason, to our team in Saint Louis.  Over the last year we have gotten to know them and the calling that God has placed on their hearts to serve among the urban poor.  Their desire to serve is evident and their willingness to follow God’s call is encouraging.

For the last several years Kathryn has served in various roles at World Impact’s Harmony Heart Camp in Pennsylvania.  During that same time Jordan has worked as a family counselor in the Scranton area and also helped around the camp when available.  We are anxious to see how God chooses to use their gifts to impact His Kingdom in the city.

Please pray for Jordan and Kathryn as they settle into their new home.  Pray for a smooth transition, for peace and protection, and for quick and easy relationships with their neighbors.  Pray for their need for additional financial support as they continue to seek partners who will support their ministry.  Most importantly, pray that God will use Jordan and Kathryn and the example of their family to build and bring glory to His Kingdom.

Back in the Game

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After two and a half years of dormancy I’m making a return to this blog.  When I last posted Hannah and I had just moved to Saint Louis and three weeks later welcomed our first child, our daughter Mona.  Needless to say, life was busy and blogging dropped down on my list of priorities.  Over the last couple of years I took to mini-blogging on Twitter and more recently have been posting my thoughts on my World Impact Blog.  Much has happened over the last couple of years, including the birth of our son, Gavin, last December, and there is still much more to come. I look forward to sharing thoughts on life and ministry in the inner city with you.

What would you like to hear about?

B90X

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Hannah and I have looked into a workout program recently that you’ve probably heard of.  It’s called P90X.  Anyone that I hear talk about using it talks about how difficult it is but if you stick with it for 90 days, “It’s life (and body) changing!”  I’m usually somewhat skeptical of these types of things and don’t want to waste my money so I was hoping a find a bootlegged version online.  After searching for all of about 3 minutes I lost interest and had pretty much forgotten about it.  This all happened about a month ago.

Yesterday, while scrolling down my home page on Twitter I noticed a new tweet by Gayle Wiese saying that she had just finished day 82 of B90X.  I had never heard of this B90X so I thought I would check it out.  Come to find out it’s not any sort of normal workout program, although I’m sure it’s “life changing”.  B90x is a reading program in which you read the Bible in it’s entirety in 90 days.  Pretty lofty goal! I’m going for it and am much more excited about it than I ever would be with just another workout program.  I have finished day one, Genesis 1:1 – 16:16.  I plan to complete the program.  Hold me accountable.

Tweet Tweet

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I’m always skeptical of new things….especially when it comes to social networking.  Over the last few months I have thought a lot about Twitter.  I have been mostly leaning against it.  Who really wants to know what I am doing all the time?  My friend Troy joined and I gave him a hard time about it but then just a few weeks later I saw him put it to good use when his wife, Shari, and their newborn daughter Ashlyn had to spend several days in the hospital.  I found myself checking his Twitter homepage for updates.  Well, with my own daughters arrival due anytime I have decided I am going to give this thing a try.  I will use it to update during Hannah’s hospitalization and the delivery.  If all goes well, who knows, I may decide to keep using it.  You can follow me by going to my Twitter homepage.

Destination: St. Louis

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As long ago as during our engagement, Hannah and I began to feel drawn to urban ministry. At the time, Indianapolis was the only city we were very familiar with so we began looking for opportunities to minister there. It seemed that no matter where we looked or how much we tried to take things into our own hands, nothing seemed to work out. It was frustrating for us at times and we couldn’t really figure out why nothing was working like we thought it should.

Shortly after that we came across the opportunity at Mooseheart. Even though it was a bit of a different direction than we thought we were headed it seemed like it was the right thing for us to do. For the past year we have lived and worked with 10 high school girls from various backgrounds. Looking back on the last year, I see it as a year of learning. But all along our desire and passion to be involved in urban ministry has not left us.

A few weeks ago, we became aware of the ministry of World Impact. World Impact is an urban missions organization that has ministries in several urban areas across the United States. After looking into the organization a bit we visited their ministry center in St. Louis and met the staff there. After much consideration and prayer over the last few weeks, Hannah and I believe we are being called to serve as urban missionaries with World Impact. This has all come together pretty quickly and we will be making our move from the Chicago area to St. Louis at the end of May. We are very excited about how God is working in our lives and are anxious to be part of this great ministry. I am going to leave it at that for now, but we will keep you up to date with more information later. Please keep us in your prayers as we seek to follow His will for our lives.

The Great Change

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I’m reading a biography of William Wilberforce entitled Amazing Grace. Wilberforce led the effort to abolish the slave trade in England in the late 1700’s. However, he did not take up this cause until after making a decision to give his life to Christ. The following excerpt describes the changes that took place in Wilberforce’s life.

When Wilberforce returned to the House of Commons in 1786, he was a different man. He had not yet officially discovered the two great causes to which he would give the rest of his life–what he would later call his two “great objects”– but he seems already to have been sauntering in their direction. He had lived so long for his own ambition that to live for God, as he now longed to do, was a foreign and strange proposition and would take time to sort out. Two changes manifested themselves right away: the first was a new attitude toward money, the second toward time. Before “the Great Change,” Wilberforce had reckoned his money and time his own, to do with as he pleased, and had lived accordingly. But suddenly he knew that this could no longer be the case. The Scriptures were plain and could not be gainsaid on this most basic point: all that was his–his wealth, his talents, his time–was not really his. It all belonged to God and had been given to him to use for God’s purposes and according to God’s will. God had blessed him so that he, in turn, might bless others, especially those less fortunate than himself.

A great example to follow.

Running In Circles

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I like to run.  I ran track and cross country in high school and have continued to run off and on since then.  Last fall I ran a half marathon in Chicago, my farthest race so far.  With that being said, I’m no expert on running.  I just like to run.  Well, the Mooseheart girls track team was without a coach this season and were having a hard time finding someone to take the position.  So….guess who the new track coach is.

We had our first couple of practices this past week.  Motivating girls to run is not real easy.  I can’t figure out why girls who don’t like to run come out for a track team. 

It should be an interesting season.  I’m looking forward to some successes and bracing for some disappointments.  I enjoy the challenge!

Peace!

Hungry!!

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Today is Global Food Crisis Day.  A day set aside to draw attention to the desperate situation that is happening all over the world.  The UN World Food Programme calls the current global food crisis “a phenomenon, a silent tsunami,” that is affecting millions of families in every nation on every continent. This global food crisis is more rapid, urgent and devastating than any other in the history of our planet.

The cost of food staples have roughly doubled in many countries due to unstable oil prices, increased meat consumption in countries like India and China, droughts in major crop-producing countries, and increased production of biofuels as well as other factors. 

This is a crisis we cannot ignore.  As christians we are called to feed the hungry.  You can learn more about the Global Food Crisis and find out how you can help by following this link.

Affluent Church

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The following is a piece I ran across on RELEVANTMagazine.com.  It’s title is A Letter to the Affluent Church by Jeff Goins.  It could seem a little harsh but has some pretty good points.

Dear Christian,

Please stop complaining about the economic recession in America. Seriously. It’s beginning to bug me. I’m bothered by the mass layoffs as much as the next person, but I just can’t help but be irked by how you’re coping with this so-called crisis. So, if you don’t mind, please stop your whining.

Please stop thinking that the “blessed are the poor” verse in the Beatitudes now applies to you, because you had to stop going out to eat more than once a week. I would appreciate it if you would stop lamenting how you’re strapped for cash and forced to “cut costs” just after you bought your teenager her very own cell phone with text messaging plan. There are real people who are hurting during this time, and it’s apparently not you. Not while your kids play their hand-held video games in the backseat of the Suburban and you and the Mrs. enjoy worship tunes blasting from the iPod. Not while you drink Starbucks coffee after church and spend your Sundays taking naps in a well-heated home.

 

No, you’re not “hurting” as badly as you’d like to think. So, give it a rest, would you? Your “sufferings” are insults to those who have been laid off and tossed to the curb. Your “trials” are simply offensive to those who have lost their homes in the past six months. Frankly, right now, I’m a little ashamed to be included among you.

 

 

However, I’m concerned that there may be more at stake here than just your family’s ability to go on vacation or buy more plasma screen TVs. A world that has been skeptical of evangelicalism for awhile now has an opportunity to be proven wrong, and I’m worried that we’re missing it. Because we’re caught up in the melodrama of our own inconveniences, we’re missing the chance to show those who have yet to see true Christianity in action. I’m not talking about megachurches and light shows. I’m talking about the kind of Christianity that puts generosity above self-preservation. I’m talking about the kind of Christianity that gives not just out of its affluence, but even out of its poverty. I’m talking about the kind of Christianity where solidarity doesn’t just mean being united in orthodox beliefs, but it also means sharing each other’s resources.

There is something else that really puzzles me, dear Christian. If you’re really hurting during this recession as you claim to be, why in the world haven’t you turned off your cable or satellite service in order to make this month’s rent? Why do you still drive that new gas-guzzler all over the suburbs? And why the heck are you still buying brand-name foods and clothing?

Let’s be perfectly clear—I don’t have anything against SUVs, nice restaurants, or even home entertainment. But you said, “Times are tough,” and I’m just failing to see it. If that were the case, wouldn’t your spending habits have changed by now? Wouldn’t you stop going to the mall every Saturday afternoon? Wouldn’t you have been forced to sell something in order to feed your children? Or was that not necessary? Did you mean to say, “I can no longer comfortably consume everything in sight without seeing the natural consequences of my greed”? Is that what you meant?

I’m not trying to be a jerk; I just want you to see that there are bigger things happening than your own excessive wants not being met. Consider the possibility that some families in your neighborhood have recently lost all forms of income. They’re hurt, confused, and scared. A Jesus-follower like yourself could do them a lot of good, if you were aware of their plight. Be warned—it’s impossible to significantly help others, if you’re feeling sorry for yourself.

I am sure that you’ve heard Jesus’ “Parable of the Talents” at some point. You may have even listened to a preacher pontificate on the principle that God doesn’t give us “much” until we’ve proven ourselves trustworthy with “little.” I wonder if maybe the opposite is now happening—that our Lord wants to see what we’ll do with less than we’re accustomed to having. Will we bravely give, even when our own creature comforts take a hit, or will we get caught up in our frustrated pursuits of consumption and excess? I realize that you may have had to make some real sacrifices lately, and I don’t want to make light of that. If that’s the case, then I challenge you (and myself) to consider how God may still be calling us to be courageously generous. Maybe during this recession, He is calling us to bless others. Not because we can afford it, but because we, as members of an invisible kingdom that offers freedom from the world’s system, can’t afford not to be so bold with whatever He has entrusted to us.

Hymn

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On most days I use a book entitled, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People, as a guide for prayer and Scripture reading.  It is based on the Christian calender and each week has a different theme.  A part of each weeks’ guide is a hymn, many of which I’ve never heard.  This normally isn’t my favorite part but every once in a while I run across a good one.  Here is this weeks:

O God of every nation,

Of every race and land,

Redeem your whole creation

With your almighty hand;

Where hate and fear divide us,

And bitter threats are hurled,

In love and mercy guide us,

And heal our strife-torn world.

From search for wealth and power

And scorn of truth and right,

From trust in bombs that shower

Destruction through the night,

From pride of race and station

And blindness to your way,

Deliver every nation,

Eternal God, we pray.

Lord, strengthen all who labor

That all may find release

From fear of rattling saber,

From dread of war’s increase;

When hope and courage falter,

Lord, let your voice be heard;

With faith that none can alter,

Your servants undergird.

Keep bright in us the vision

Of days when war shall cease,

When hatred and division

Give way to love and peace,

Till dawns the morning glorious

When truth and justice reign,

And Christ shall rule victorious

O’er all the world’s domain.

 

-William W. Reid Jr.-

Weekend

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Hannah and I were able to go back home to visit friends and family in Indianapolis this weekend.  Some highlights:

We were able to visit with my former co-workers at Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service, who I’m proud to say were recently named as one of six finalists for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year.  Congrats to all of the great people there, your caring professionalism and compassion does not go unnoticed!  During that visit we also went to lunch at the new Bella Vita restaurant in downtown New Castle.  I was impressed.

We visited and had dinner with three couples that we used to go to church with and were part of our small group.  Good food again, this time at Puccini’s Smiling Teeth.  Congrats to Chad and Brittany Smith who are expecting their first child!

Breakfast at Panera with Wade and Stephanie Carignan.  Good friends and owners and artists of Carignan Gallery.  If you are in need of photography, fine art, print design, or web design the Carignans are amazing!

Celebrated my Mom’s and Hannah’s Dad’s birthdays with our families.  Sixty how many Mom?  Always great to spend time with our families!

Were able to meet Brayden McHone for the first time!  He’s the newly born son of our friends Ryan and Tiffany.  Cute kid!  I do feel somewhat guilty for buying him a Chicago Cubs onesie, but hey losing teams need fans too!

Hung out with the Knightstown gang, my buddies who I’ve known most of my life and are like brothers to me. 

Learned more about two awesome ministries in Indianapolis.  We had dinner with Doug and Judy Litsey who recently started Fletcher Place Ministries in the Fletcher Place Neighborhood.  Very cool ministry that I’m sure I will talk about more as things get underway.  We also worshipped at Shepherd Community on Sunday morning.  We were blessed to be a part of their services. 

On our way back to the Chicago area we made a pit stop in Lafayette to see Troyand Shari Hochstetler and Kyla.  Troy was one of our pastors in Indy and is now senior pastor at Lafayette First Church of the Nazarene.  The Hochstetlers have been great friends over the last few years, we’re excited about their upcoming baby too!

Does it sound like we were busy?  We were.  I’m tired.  Now, back to work.

Peace!

Transition

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A few observations from President Obama’s inauguration today.

– The United States does this transition thing really well!  We are really good at coming together only a couple months after a brutal campaign and at least pretending to get along. 

–  No matter what your political pursuasion is, it is a great accomplishment for the United States that an African American man was sworn in as President.  We have come a long way in a short time. 

– I was proud of Pastor Rick Warren for being man enough to pray in the name of Jesus.  We need more Christian leaders like him.

– President Bush has aged way too much in 8 years. 

– Why did they pick one of the smallest ladies at the event to push Vice President Cheney in his wheelchair?

– Aretha Franklin is not a good singer anymore.

– I’m no fashion expert, but Michelle Obama’s green gloves looked kind of funny with her gold outfit.

– I liked former President George H.W. Bush’s fuzzy hat.

– I wonder who felt the most resentment at having to attend.  John McCain or Hillary Clinton?

–  President Bush and Laura Bush are genuinely nice people.  It was obvious that they have formed a close relationship with the Obama’s. 

– Ballots do work better than bullets.

Todays Prayer

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I recently downloaded Brandon Heath’s song, “Give Me Your Eyes” onto my I-pod.  I can’t listen to it without feeling like I should pray the words of the chorus.

“Give me your eyes for just one second.  Give me your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing.  Give me your love for humanity.  Give me your arms for the brokenhearted–the ones that are far beyond my reach.  Give me your heart for the ones  forgotten.  Give me your eyes so I can see.”

These words stir something up inside of me.  They make me feel guilty, they make me feel sad, and they make me feel passionate about walking in the steps of Jesus.

Listen here.

Family

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I am thankful for my family.  I am thankful that I have been blessed to have a family that is not divided.  It’s nice to be able to get together with the whole family for special occasions. 

My parents taught me from birth that a relationship with Jesus Christ was the most important thing in my life. I’m thankful for that. I love my parents!

I don’t see my sister all that often these days, she’s in California and I’m in Chicago.  It’s good to see her when she comes home to visit.   I’m thankful for her and her family.  Her husband Paul serves our country in the U. S. Navy while Belinda works full time as a wife and mom to Kaitlyn, Karissa, and Lauren. 

My brother Dave and I are close.  I’m thankful for that.  We tend to think alike.  It’s scary sometimes.  I enjoy our disussions about politics, Butler basketball, and poking fun at people.  It’s good times.  Dave and his wife Joy have always been understanding and helpful in any situation.  I’m thankful for Dave, Joy, Evan and Allie. 

I’m thankful for all of my extended family.  I have been blessed by having a great mother and father-in-law and brothers and sisters-in-law. 

I never want to take my family for granted.  I am blessed.

What are you thankful for?

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Thankful

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I don’t say “Thank you” enough.  I am thankful, I just don’t always do a good job of showing it.  Over the next several days leading up to Thanksgiving I am going to disuss a few of the things that I am thankful for. 

One of the major blessings in my life is my wife Hannah.  I am thankful to God for her. I love that we get to spend a large majority of our time together.  She is, without a doubt, my best friend.  Hannah is one of those people that everyone likes as soon as they meet her.  I am thankful that she lives a life that is devoted to Christ.  I am thankful that we have been given the blessing of life.  She will be an amazing mother, just as she is an amazing wife!

What are you thankful for?

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Baby Riggs!

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It’s true!  Hannah and I found out about three weeks ago that we are being blessed with the gift of life, Hannah is pregnant!  We of course are pretty excited!  We traveled home to Indiana this past weekend where we were able to share the news with our families and friends.  On Sunday evening we shared the news with our girls here at Oregon Home and they too are more than a little excited.  If you want all of the details you may want to read Hannah’s blog, she’s much more detailed than I am.  We will keep everyone updated and hope that you keep us in your prayers!

Words from Troy

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If anyone reads this blog very often, you will know that I rarely….ok, never make two posts in one day.  In fact recently I have had a hard time making two posts in one week, but I’ve been distracted by the election….I’ll get back on track.  Anyway, today after I had written my first post I was checking out the blog of my friend Troy Hochstetler.  Troy is a good friend of mine who I would consider to be one of the biggest influences on my spiritual life.  He has an awesome way with words and his latest blog entry is an excerpt from his journal that is worth reading.  Click Here.

Aid to Pakistan

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One of the struggles that I think a lot of us have when it comes to poverty and needs of others is the question of “What can I do to help?”  It seems difficult to know how we can make a difference, especially if your financial resources are limited.  One of my goals with this page is to provide answers to that exact question.

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One inexpensive way that you can help is my filling an Action Pack through Voice of the Martyrs.  VOM is currently making an effort to send 10,000 Action Packs to Pakistan to help those in need.  When you request an Action Pack, VOM will send you an empty vacuum bag that can be filled with supplies by you.  Socks, coats, clothing, blankets  and other new or lightly used items can be put in the bag before sending it  back to VOM.  They will then make sure that it is delivered to Pakistan along with copies of the gospel storybook, He Lived Among Us.  This is a project that you can do as an individual, with your family, small group or youth group and is a very inexpensive way to show Christ’s love to those in need.

Candidates: By the Numbers

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Much of what we discuss on these pages has to do with giving.  Giving of all resources, but often we discuss financial giving to worthy organizations.  With a presidential election looming just a couple of weeks away I thought it would be interesting to see what the candidates are giving and who they are giving to.  It should be noted that in the numbers shown below, Barack and Michelle Obama file joint tax returns while John and Cindy McCain file separately.  The income for the Obama’s is for both Mr. and Mrs. Obama, much of which was book earnings from Mr. Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope.  In comparison, the Obama’s 2006 earnings were just under $1 million.  The income for Mr. McCain is his income only.  Cindy McCain has not released all of her tax information but portions released show that she earned an additional four million dollars in 2007. 

                                                                                Obama                                          McCain

2007 Adjusted Gross Income            $4,139,965                                $386,527

Charitable Gifts                                               $240,370                                   $105,467

Percentage of Income                                        5.8%                                           27.3%

Obama’s Charitable Causes Supported in 2007:  United Negro College Fund ($50,000), CARE ($35,000), Trinity United Church of Christ ($26,270), The Rochelle Lee Fund ($10,000), AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families ($5,000)

McCain’s Charitable Causes Supported in 2007:  Operation Smile ($25,000), The HALO Trust USA ($25,000), Craniofacial Foundation ($10,000), School of American Ballet ($5,000), Scottsdale Christian Academy ($5,000)

Source: Tax Returns of candidates/opensecrets.org/world magazine

Poverty Today

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Today is Blog Action Day, an annual nonprofit event that aims to trigger a global discussion.  Each year a specific subject is determined and bloggers across the world tackle that particular subject.  This year just happens to be poverty and today is the day, pretty fitting huh? 

Poverty is a huge subject to try to wrap your mind around and I will be the first to admit that I can’t completely grasp it.  I can’t explain why one child is born into wealth and luxury while on the other side of the world another is born into conditions where every day is a struggle for life.  Rather than longing for the newest video game or tickets to see their favorite team play, this child hopes to get a spoonful of rice after his siblings get their share and maybe even a drink of dirty water.  What is fair about that?  How does God allow that?  How do we begin to understand that?  What do we do about that? 

I don’t have answers to all of those questions, but I am not willing to sit back and wait until all of the answers are given to me.  Here are some of the things that I will do to address poverty in the world today and I ask for you to join me

1. Read and study what the Bible has to say about poverty.

2. Pray for God’s will to be done “on Earth as it is in Heaven”.

3. Sponsor a child.

4. Give a gift to those in need.

5. Raise awareness.

All of these are fairly general ideas and you can find more specifically what I’m referring to by clicking on the links. 

What else can we be doing to address the issue of poverty?

Noelia

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About 6 months ago, while attending a Jeremy Camp/Toby Mac concert, Hannah and I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion.  We were given a packet of information to fill out and in that packet was a picture of Noelia Arely Sorto Gomez, an eight year old girl from El Salvador.  Our card gave us a few details about Noelia: she lives with her parents and 4 siblings, her father is sometimes employed while her mother maintains the home, she likes playing with dolls, and she attends school where her performance is average.  By becoming a sponsor we were making a commitment to make a small financial donation each month and to also stay in contact with Noelia through letters.  Sponsors are encouraged to stay in touch with their sponsored children because it helps the child to know that someone is praying for them and thier family.  However, Hannah and I have found that we are the ones who are encouraged by what this little eight year old girl writes to us.  In recent letters she speaks very little of herself: 

“I greet you in the name of the Lord, hoping you are in good health……I am happy and excited of what you told me that you take care of children.  You must love the children very much.  I know that you love me too.  I think of you. ……Please pray for my brother, so that he will not get sick…….With much love, Noelia”

 “I greet you with much love.   I wish success in your daily activities.  I wish you are fine with all the ones who round you.  I am very good of health.  Only my brother is a little bit sick. Please pray for him so God heals him soon.  I always pray for you so God keeps you wherever you are.  Where do you live?  Does it snow or rain? I’ll pray for you.  Until soon, Noelia”

The thought of Noelia praying for Hannah and I is amazing to me.  We are supposed to be her sponsors yet I feel that we benefit just as much if not more from the sponsorship than she does.  I would encourage any of you who are thinking of child sponsorship to consider Compassion

 

NO HOT WATER!!!

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As I start this new blog I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much I take the things that I have for granted.  I feel like for the most part I am thankful for what I have, and am pretty aware of the poor quality of life that many others live in daily.  I make an effort quite often to talk to our girls about being thankful for what they have, even though they come from homes where they haven’t had much, I try to explain to them that compared to many others in the world they are blessed.  This past Sunday we woke up to find out that we had no hot water in our home.  I must confess that the girls weren’t the only ones complaining.  Even though we had perfectly good water, we were all really frustrated that it wasn’t the right temperature.  On Monday our water heater was repaired but since they had to shut the water off for a while to fix it, when they turned it back on our water was a little dirty.  Again, you would have thought we were going through a major crisis, even though there was a water cooler for drinking water in the next room!  I’m not sure that I can quite get words around what I want to say, but let me try.  I am in no way saying that we should do without warm or clean water.  We should use the blessings we have been given.  But we need to be very aware and thankful for what we have that many don’t.  The fact that we were so bothered by the very small inconvenience of our water being the wrong temperature concerns me.  Something seems completely out of wack when half of the world is struggling to survive because they can’t get clean drinking water and we use it to spray on our grass. 

                                            

Unsafe water kills over 5,700 children a day.  You can help by giving a gift through World Vision.