On the way to Sunday … the usual

I’m not thirsty,
but I’m standing in line.
I’ll have the usual
I’ll have the usual

from John Hiat’s song The Usual

The 2010 estimate, the most recent, says that 925 million people were undernourished in 2010.  925 million people is 13.6 percent of the estimated world population of 6.8 billion or almost 1 in 7 people are hungry.  Nearly all of the undernourished are in developing countries. The number of hungry people has nearly doubled since 1995.  More information about the world hunger problem is available here.

The increase has been due to three factors:

1) neglect of agriculture relevant to very poor people by governments and international agencies

2) the current worldwide economic crisis and

3) the significant increase of food prices which has been devastating to those with only a few dollars a day to spend.

Children are the most visible victims of under nutrition. Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year–five million deaths. Under nutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria. The estimated proportions of deaths in which under nutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhea (61%), malaria (57%), pneumonia (52%), and measles (45%). Malnutrition can also be caused by diseases, such as the diseases that cause diarrhea, by reducing the body’s ability to convert food into usable nutrients.

Simply put every 6 seconds a child dies in the world as a result of hunger related problems.

If that is the usual, then something should change.

Thankfully it can thanks to organizations like Pack Away Hunger.  My church has partnered with this organization to help provide meals to people in Central Indiana and far away places like Africa and Guatemala.  Mark your calendar now for our Annual Fish Fry – June 14-16 as proceeds from this event will help fight hunger and nutrition problems.  You can volunteer to work or just come and eat!

Until then … join us on Sunday … as we explore what more of the usual looks like in the weeks following Easter morning!

See you Sunday …

Friendships that Last

30572339_10215685149304739_8661607258183958528_n.jpgI had the chance this past weekend to catch up with and play golf with someone I grew up with – Jeff Leonard.  We have been friends for over 4 decades.  I can’t even begin to count the number of rounds and/or hours we have spent together on the golf course, the arcade, or one another’s home.  We don’t get a chance to be together very often because we live states apart – but this past week while in Florida, we were able to get our families together for lunch one day and we played a round of golf together as well.  We shared a lot of stories and memories as we spent time together.

Back in the day, as the saying goes, we were fairly even matched on the links – But not anymore.  I was witness to a game of golf I am not familiar with – Jeff was a collegiate golf champion and played on the PGA Tour.  He now is the Head Pro at Fox Hollow Golf Club in Florida.  I was glad we were on the same team and that I didn’t embarrass myself on the course!

During the day on the golf course, I kept wondering-  “Would we be friends if we just met or are we just living in the past?”

For me the answer was clear … and it is “yes!” … for a couple of reasons:

1) Our friendship was never just about golf, or euchre, or car chases, or spring break, or any number of things or events we shared together in the past. Granted all those things make for some great stories and points of connection, but there was more . . . which is my main point.

2) We are still friends and will remain because of that which we both have in common – We both love the Lord and are seeking ways to honor Him in our lives. This common ground will always keep us connected and is the bond of our friendship – whether that friendship be 4 decades old or 4 minutes old.

I hope you have a friend like that.

Friends that keep you grounded.

Friends that you keep you connected to who you have been, who you are, and more importantly who you are striving to be.

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And if you have a friend like that who also happens still enjoy playing golf with you – even better – just make sure they give more than a few strokes a side or better yet – just play on the same team!

 

Here’s to the good old days – old friends – and the days yet to come!

 

The Easter Surprise!

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I love surprises.

Did you know that God loves surprises also?

Easter is the reminder that God loves us, but it is also a reminder of how surprising God’s love can be:

 

Let me share with you some of God’s surprises.

God told Noah to build and ark because it was going to rain, but no one had ever seen rain before but then … SURPRISE! it rained and God saved Noah and his family because of their faith.

Shadrach Meshach and Abendigo refused to worship anyone other than God and so the King had them thrown in the fiery furnace but then … SURPRISE! God saved them from the fire because of their faith.

Daniel refused to stop praying to God and so the king had Daniel thrown into the Lion’s Den but then … SURPRISE! God saved Daniel from the lion’s because of his faith.

God promised that He would one day come as a King but then … SURPRISE! God arrived as a baby born in a manger.

Zacheaus just wanted to see Jesus so he climbed a tree for a view, but … SURPRISE! Jesus went home with Zacheaus and ate dinner with him.

The disciples went fishing but didn’t catch any fish, but then … SURPRISE! Jesus said try one more time on the other side of the boat and they caught so many fish the boat nearly sank.

The disciples got caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee and they were afraid the boat would sink but then … SURPRISE! Jesus came to rescue them walking on the water and then … SURPRISE! Peter walked on the water because of his faith.

God loved us so much that Jesus died for us as payment for our sin and was buried in a tomb, but then … SURPRISE! Jesus is alive.

After Jesus conquered death, He went up into Heaven to be with God, but … SURPRISE! Jesus promised that one day He would come back to us.

Until that day, Jesus promised that we would not be alone. He also promised that we didn’t need to be afraid because He was with us. The way that God cares for us can be surprising. God loves to use surprises to remind us over and over again how much He loves us.

So, don’t forget that God loves you.  Jesus died for you – and today we know the good news – What is it? SURPRISE! Jesus is Alive!

Jesus is alive and promises that if we believe that one, day we will get to be with Him in heaven.

As you hunt for Easter eggs today, remember that the Egg is a reminder that the tomb was empty – After all the candy is gone the empty egg is a reminder that the tomb was empty.

Be open to the surprises of life … they are simple reminders that God loves you!