Called To Help – Red Nose Day

As we near the start of summer and think about vacations and time off with families there are others who are not nearly as fortunate to enjoy those luxuries. On May 25th NBC television will air Red Nose Day, a live telecast aimed at ending child poverty.

Red Nose Day is unique in that multiple charitable organizations will benefit from the three hour live program that night. The event is all about coming together, to have fun, and make a difference for kids in need.  The goal is to end child poverty, here in the U.S. and around the world — one nose at a time.

The fundraiser began in 1988 by U.K. director, Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) and recently started in the U.S. Red Nose Day raised over $36 million in 2016, and over $23 million the previous year, totaling over $60 million in its first two years in the US.

The two charities among many others that will benefit from Red Nose Day are Covenant House and charity: water.  These are just one of many organizations that everyday work tirelessly to make a difference here at home in the U.S. and around the world. What’s staggering with the statistics is that this is happening right here in the U.S.

We’ve learned from Red Nose Day charities that:

  • 1 out of 5 young people live in poverty.
  • Every Year, More Than 2 Million Kids in America Will Face a Period of Homelessness.
  • 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.

It’s heartbreaking with regards to the homeless kids and youth as it puts them in such danger of human traffickers – something I know so many of our churches and organizations fight against.  We have an opportunity to make a difference and keep some of these kids away from the streets.

We hope you will consider taking the time to help those in need and checking out both ministries and finding a way however big or small to support them. We’re called to help those in need and we often forget that although we are fortunate to live in a country that provides us with a lot – there are many children right in front of us who struggle to even get a meal a day. We hope you’ll think about ways you can help our youth and even join in on the fun and put on a Red Nose and post to your social channels with the hashtag: #rednoseday

Red Noses are available at all Walgreen locations.  For those wanting to do something fun and get involved, stop by Walgreens and buy a red nose.

We do believe that if we can all raise awareness about this issue – we can all end child poverty one nose at a time!

Check out the videos below highlighting this movement:

 

Stages of Life

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They (insert your own definition of they) say becoming a parent changes you. I suppose that is true, for most folks. The problem that I have is that I also turned thirty shortly after becoming a parent. I suppose both of those things connected have influenced my thoughts. To be frank, I cannot determine which one has changed me more.

There is no doubt in my mind that when a person enters into this thing called parenthood that they really did not know what to expect. You can prepare for it as best you can. You can read all the books, listen to the podcasts, and hear from your coworkers, but you cannot know the actual feeling until it happens. When it happens it seems like you look at the brevity of life more. You see decisions that you make through a new lens. You are more aware of the impact your life is having on the world.

Turning thirty is one of those weird milestones for society. Prior to that it seems like society still treats you as a child. You can serve in the military, risk your life enforcing the law, and wire millions of dollars around the nation to keep the economy flowing, but you have not reached the age that makes you an adult. Having made it half way to thirty-one I have seen a shift in my perspective. For me, I do not think the shift happened last October, but rather it occurred a couple of years before. I do believe it was more of a gradual thing. It is not something that you wake up one morning and feel different. Things gradually slide in the direction of having a different perspective to where when it happens you cannot pinpoint an exact time of change.

I am confident that there are other stages that change a person. I know I will continue to change each and every day I am alive. This is only the beginning of my thoughts on the subject.

Have you noticed a change of perspective of your life? When did it happen? Do you agree that the changes listed above influence your outlook on life? If you haven’t experienced either of these, can you think of another time when your outlook on life has changed?

To Seek Justice Is Admirable

I have been involved with my town government for a few years now. It is something that is rewarding, but also has its share of challenges. There are times where you feel your efforts are not worth the effort or even where you know someone is being taken advantage of in order to benefit someone else. It may happen all the time, but it does not mean it is right.

Throughout my time I have been introduced to many people and one that stands out to me is an older, retired lady who has lived in the town for about fifty years. Despite this fact, many people still consider her an outsider. That has not stopped her for standing up in the face of opposition for the good of every citizen of the town. I have learned a lot by observing her and understanding what it means to persist even in the face of all odds.

She is one member of the town that I admire because she has been given a multitude of reasons to quit and simply pass her remaining days in peace; however, she has made it a point to keep seeking justice. While I would have likely said when I retire that I would not want to be bothered with such issues, she has shown me that my thoughts were not appropriate. I should seek the justice of others at all times in my life, even when I may not feel like pursuing it. In the end I have to ask myself if I would be willing to die for this person since I admire her? I would like to take the Christian way out and say yes since that is what the love of Christ compels us to do, but I cannot make that statement because in the heat of the moment anything is possible.

The Promise is a new movie releasing next Friday (April 21) starring Christian Bale. It is a story of sacrifice and love. It centers on two characters who model sacrifice and justice in their own way. I for one cannot wait to see it when it comes out and I hope that you will go see it as well. The movie trailer and poster are below.

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An Unwanted Child

I do not have to look far for a courageous woman in my life. I wake up to her decision every morning. You see, my wife was a child conceived out of wedlock. While this may be more socially acceptable now, during the late 1980s in the rural Appalachian region, this was something to be shunned. This truth is not one that we promote, but it is one that we do not consider a secret.

It would have been easier for my mother-in-law to have cast her child off and left her forever, but instead she chose to overcome the obstacles in front of her. She wound up marrying the father of my wife and the two remain married to this day. In the early years of my wife’s life this meant her mom was the sole provider of the home as her dad had some vices he had to work through.

Through getting to know her through the past decade, she has encouraged me to take risks that I didn’t know would actually materialize. Instead of sitting back and wondering what might have been, she has instilled in me a desire to make the best of my situations. If things do not always work out exactly the way I had planned, then call an audible and do the work to make it happen.

Is there a woman in your life that has taught you to overcome obstacles? If so, I would love to hear about her in the comments.

The Zookeeper’s Wife is a new film coming out that will inspire you to stand tall in the face of your opposition, whatever that may be. You can find the synopsis and a trailer below:

Synopsis:

In 1939 Poland, Antonina Żabińska (portrayed by two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh, a European Film Award nominee for the Academy Award-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown), have the Warsaw Zoo flourishing under his stewardship and her care. When their country is invaded by the Germans, Jan and Antonina are stunned and forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Golden Globe Award nominee Daniel Brühl of Captain America: Civil War). To fight back on their own terms, the Żabińskis covertly begin working with the Resistance and put into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and even her children at great risk.

Trailer:

Zookeeper’s Wife Trailer

I Am Thomas

Doubts come and go. There are times in life where everything is going great and then something tragic happens that somehow manages to pull the proverbial rug right out from underneath us. I have had my fair share of trying situations in the past where I struggled with my faith. I had to wrestle with the doubts of my own whether I was committed to the cause of Christ or if I should throw off the teachings.

I have learned to lean on it because during those trying times it is the only place to go. Although we would like to lean on friends, the most troubling times are often when our friends end up forsaking us. Rather than getting bitter, those times have managed to drive me to a deeper faith in Christ and his teachings.

The story of Thomas is applicable in modern times like this because we can see a man who has invested years of his life following a teacher that he hoped would be around longer than just three years. Thomas had spent time following Jesus and had expected him to produce some other outcome than a death on the cross. He had his hopes and dreams shattered after this leader died.

We will sacrifice years of our lives for friendships, corporations, and marriages and ultimately some will fail. There will be a friendship that is ruined because someone walks away. There will be a job that is suddenly gone after the boss sells the company. There will be marriages that are ruined because a spouse decides that you are no longer enough. However deep this wound may cut, this should not be the end of our faith.

When Thomas was least expecting it, Jesus appeared and comforted him. When we least expect it Jesus will walk right into our life and comfort us. It may not be when we wanted it and we would have preferred to avoided the situation entirely, but Jesus will always shop up when the time is right. We simply have to hold hope and wait on him to arrive.

Season 2 of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact Forgery premieres Sunday, March 5 at 9 PM ET/PT on CNN. I encourage you to tune in as we search for Jesus. I have linked the trailer below for your viewing pleasure.

An Unlikely Champion

It is hard to believe that I will be thirty years old next month. A new decade approaches and I am not sure what it will bring. What I do know it will bring is a chance for people overcome their situations and become an unlikely champion. I have seen it happen in a few lives. I live in a fairly rural area where there are many people living in poverty. I know the region and its struggles and have tasted them myself.

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Today’s post I want to talk about one individual who has become an unlikely champion. I went to high school with the individual and, at the time, he was known for his mischievous ways. He was always looking to instigate some sort of joke or spout off a comment or take some sort of action to provoke a response from those in leadership. It was not that he was a terrible guy, but rather one that liked to press the buttons.

After high school, he took a couple of years to find himself. That is the best way to put it, I suppose. He had a small run in with a police officer and had to fight a battle in the courtroom. Rather than letting this be his new normal and the way things would be for the rest of his life, he found mentors that were willing to help guide him to a better way of living. He had to overcome the obstacles of his past and his locality, but these can be see as excuses or a reason to put in the extra work required to make a better life.

He then enrolled at the college with the determination to not only survive, but thrive. Through the guidance of some inspirational figures around him, he managed to complete his degree in business and economics and was sought after as an employee when he graduated. He has since moved out of state, but now has a thriving career with nothing but potential in a field that is growing.  I fully expect him to be one of the most successful individuals to come out of our small town, but it was not without work.

I am thrilled that there are inspirational movies being pushed to the big screen. This Friday (September 30th), Disney is releasing a new film called Queen of Katawe and it is one that will inspire you. If you are like me, you may not have heard of the film before now. However, after watching the short clip below I cannot wait to see it for myself.

Who knows, maybe I will see you there!

 

My Favorite Hillsong Song

The title seems generic and almost a tongue twister to where you question if this will be a thoughtful post. Truthfully, it is and my answer is different today than it was last year and that it will be next year.

Narrowing down the catalogue of Hillsong songs is quite difficult. It’s difficult enough as it is, but if you consider United and Young & Free, you add even more great songs that fight their way to the top. I have always had a drawing towards the United stuff simply because I believe it resonated with me more during my teen years than the Hillsong Worship and Y&F was not even an idea there. So, what is my favorite Hillsong song?

Right now I would have to select Scandal of Grace as my top song from Hillsong. Could it change tomorrow? Yes. Will it change? Maybe. This one has meant a lot to me since I first heard it a few years back. It was reinforced even more after my visit to Hillsong New York where Brian Houston brought a message by the same title. It helped solidify just how scandalous the death of Christ was and still is. When you understand the nature of a scandal and how Jesus was willing to be involved in this for us, it puts everything else in perspective.

That’s my favorite song from any Hillsong outfit at the moment. I hope to hear more songs just like it on the big screen when I view their new movie Let Hope Rise when it is released on September 16th.

Do go out and support the film. I have known about it for quite some time now and am even more excited now than I was when it was first mentioned.

Do you have a favorite song from Hillsong? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts.