President Obama has officially declared West Virginia a disaster area.
Record-breaking rainfall drenched our brothers and sisters in West Virginia last weekend leading to the third-deadliest flood in the State's history. Around twenty-five people have been confirmed dead, and many homes have been damaged or destroyed. Infrastructure in some communities is in shambles, but disaster response work has begun.
Have you ever been to the wilderness?
You know what the wilderness is. That dryness that creeps into your soul like the heat creeps from the sun. That arid desert of doubt that dehydrates your faith. That crackling time of trial that breaks you like the dried out dirt. Have you been there?
So have I. You are not alone.
Severe drought conditions and extreme summer heat have caused hunger, dehydration, and acute health problems throughout much of India. In the month of May temperatures topped 120°F in several regions. As a result, there were reports of heat related deaths in multiple states.
"And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay." - Matthew 10:7-8
Evangelism can be as easy as knocking on your neighbor's door, or as simple as a small act of kindness for another.
However, in countries that are "closed" to the Gospel, evangelism is not that easy. Whether the country has a nationally declared religious system, or the social culture is built around a different faith than Christianity, it can be incredibly difficult to find ways to openly share the Gospel.
However, difficulty does not make evangelism impossible.
It’s another Monday, and you are just sitting down at your desk to begin the day’s work. You turn your computer on, it starts it’s loading process as normal. As you open up the first couple of tasks for the day, you decided to turn some music on and begin checking your email.
All of these processes start to bog your poor computer down, and then…frozen. The ever-rotating “loading” icon just keeps spinning and spinning. The computer is in full mutiny against your work day. Frustration builds as your blood stream starts to boil, furiously clicking the mouse as if the one-hundred-thousandth click might do the trick.
Nothing happens—still frozen. What do you do? Everybody knows the answer to this.
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10
Right now, there are human beings living in dumps in Thailand.
"The refugees who had abandoned their villages to escape the fighting between government troops and the rebels left without any provisions or materials for housing and food storage. The first village is called Dump Village because it is located on the large dump of the refugee camp."
Imagine for just a moment, being forced from the comfort of your home because of how close the gunfire is getting. After traveling by foot for miles and miles, carrying whatever you could on your back, you stumble upon a "village" of other families just like you and yours, searching in even the dirtiest of places for peace and refuge.
"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." - Romans 8:24-25
Another 50 human beings are dead after the worst mass-shooting in the history of the United States of America.
The shooter opened fire with an automatic assault rifle inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida late Saturday night.
Regardless of what we may believe about the lifestyles of the victims, this is an absolutely horrific tragedy. Fifty people - real human lives - one act of violent hatred. Truly, this is a low point for our nation as a whole. It seems that darkness has won again.
The sad thing is that this tragedy is only one of several dozen you will hear about on the news tonight. Sin ravages our world and takes captive our brothers and sisters of the human race, and also ourselves. What are we supposed to think? What are we supposed to do in the shadow of these terrible events? How are we supposed to respond?
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." - 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
There's something quite beautiful about the resilience of some communities struck by disaster.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of resilience is, "the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens; the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc."
On April 16, 2016 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook the foundations of coastal Ecuador. Over 600 people were killed and more than 27,000 were injured. Thousands more lost their homes or were displaced by the carnage.
"I say to God, my rock: 'Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?'
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
'Where is your God?'
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God."
Maybe, it's a bad habit that won't go away.
Maybe, it's that snarky relative you can't get along with.
Maybe, it's the coworker who constantly pesters you with mean-spirited questions about your faith.
Maybe, it's that looming doubt that perhaps not all is as it seems within your faith.
Maybe, it's the depression that pulls you deeper and deeper into reclusiveness.
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” - John 6:9
"I have wondered what it must have been like to have had a ringside seat that day on the Galilean hillside 2,000 years ago, amidst 5,000 men--plus women and children--listening hungrily to God’s message delivered in person by His Son. Then, as the sun was setting, the entire crowd was dizzy with hunger, but gradually realizing there was no food, and dreading the long hike home on empty stomachs..."
Empty stomachs is a daily reality for desperately poor families in Papua New Guinea.