When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in?

The Masterpiece Fund has a mission to help people. Spiritually, physically, emotionally. Jesus asked us to do two things—love God and love each other like He loves us. He didn’t specify they had to look like us or speak our language to love them.

I have a lot of genealogy information on both the Crowe’s and my mother’s family. My ancestors came from France, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and England. Some came in the 1600s, others in the next two centuries, but all came across the ocean in ships with very little and worked hard and made their mark in our history. Many became soldiers, politicians, inventors, missionaries, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and settlers. People who made important contributions to our country. A lot of them faced oppression in their own countries and many experienced persecution and discrimination when they came to America. But now, because of them, I am the recipient of “white privilege.” Just think of what our country could be missing out on if we keep out our future scientists, leaders, teachers, inventors, and entrepreneurs from becoming citizens or even allies and friends in regions that are hostile to us.

The Masterpiece Fund’s most recent donations were given with the hope that our brothers and sisters around the world who are fleeing their homes—places they want to stay and return to, but are forced to leave, will receive help and loving support. These desperate souls are risking their lives and giving up everything they have because the alternative is death and torture from their oppressors.

The Masterpiece Fund has made two donations, one to the International Rescue Committee and the other to the American Refugee Committee. This is not a political statement, this is an effort to reach out to human beings who are already suffering and for some, losing a chance to find safety in my homeland.

I love my country and I try to help people living right around me when I can.  I appreciate my countrymen wanting to feel safe and secure. But I don’t want us to live and act out of fear. Fear is the enemy’s weapon. And I also think some American’s don’t appreciate just how rich and fortunate we are.  I see so many people spending time, money and resources on things that are silly or superficial, and keep thinking how much some of us look like the people on Hunger Games who lived in the Capitol. And the districts are the poor countries of the world. How much time and energy do we spend on extra clothes and accessories, entertainment, following the going’s on of celebrities? How many conversations do we have about petty concerns and ignoring the plight of humans who really need our attention, our prayers, our money, our compassion, and our defense? I’m not saying we shouldn’t enjoy life, but we can still be extremely happy and satisfied on so much less, while sharing with others to lift them up. I don’t believe the government should be forcing people to share—but rather I wish people would do that of their own volition. Compassion and love for others that comes from the heart is what Jesus wants for us. See the many biblical references on how we should treat foreigners and refugees below.

Here is some information on the two highly rated and wonderful organizations the Masterpiece Fund supported:

International Rescue Committee

Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC delivers lifesaving care to people fleeing conflict and natural disaster. Year after year, the IRC is one of the highest-ranking nonprofits for accountability, transparency, and efficient use of contributions. In 2016, more than 26 million people benefited from IRC programs and those of its partner organizations.  Read more about what they do and how they help with healthcare, education, training, counseling, legal defense, and more.

American Refugee Committee

American Refugee Committee is and always has been about amazing global citizens taking action to change our world. ARC works with its partners and constituencies to provide opportunities and expertise to refugees, displaced people and host communities. They help people survive conflict and crisis and rebuild lives of dignity, health, security and self-sufficiency. ARC is committed to the delivery of programs that ensure measurable quality and lasting impact for the people they serve.

Our Lord, Jesus was a child refugee as his family fled to Egypt to escape evil oppressors.

Mathew 2:13

“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”

Leviticus 19:33-34

“‘Suppose an outsider lives with you in your land. Then do not treat them badly. Treat them as if they were one of your own people. Love them as you love yourself. Remember that all of you were outsiders in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 10:18-19

“He stands up for widows and for children whose fathers have died. He loves outsiders living among you. He gives them food and clothes. So you also must love outsiders. Remember that you yourselves were outsiders in Egypt.”

Mathew 25: 34-39

“Then the King will speak to those on his right. He will say, ‘My Father has blessed you. Come and take what is yours. It is the kingdom prepared for you since the world was created. I was hungry. And you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty. And you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger. And you invited me in. I needed clothes. And you gave them to me. I was sick. And you took care of me. I was in prison. And you came to visit me.’

Then the people who have done what is right will answer him. ‘Lord,’ they will ask, ‘when did we see you hungry and feed you? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in? When did we see you needing clothes and give them to you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘What I’m about to tell you is true. Anything you did for one of the least important of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

YOU can make a difference in a human life. Nepal needs us.

I read a Facebook post today that made me overwhelmingly sad about the evil that pervades our world. In the midst of a devastating crisis in Nepal where thousands have lost their lives and tens of thousands have been injured and lost their homes, there are enemies of God and man taking advantage of victims and enslaving young women to work in the human sex trafficking industry.

How do we as individuals so far from the disaster combat these demons and help our sisters (and brothers) survive this tragedy? Well for starters, there are angels and saints at work who ARE helping these people—getting them medical aid, food, shelter, and protecting those who have been enslaved and abused. As I see it there are several ways we can help them.

  1. Donate money to a reputable charity. The Masterpiece Fund has just made a donation to Christian Aid. They assist mission workers who are onsite and helping right now in the dangerous trenches. As they explain it… their local Christian workers know how to get aid to people deprived of their homes and come alongside the shell-shocked survivors in their trauma. The ministries that Christian Aid assists can inexpensively purchase food, water and tents from local sources and effectively get the supplies to those in need, even carrying large bags of food on their backs up the steep mountainsides. Your tax-deducible gift today helps victims of these devastating earthquakes in Nepal. You can make a difference in their lives through material provisions, and – more important – the gospel.Donate today at christianaid.org/Nepal or to any organization you believe in.
  2. Spread the word about this atrocity and let your network know there IS something they can do today that will directly impact a human being in need. If your daughter, niece, granddaughter, sister, or friend was taken and beaten and raped on a daily basis, how much would you do to get her home and in the safety of loved ones? Another thing to consider, the culture there unfortunately puts blame on the girls and they are often disgraced and disowned by their own families.
  3. Pray. And pray some more. I have recently been reading a book called the Red Sea Rules and the author mentioned the power of earnest prayer and the power of group prayer. When two or more gather in His name and pray for His grace and mercy, miracles can happen. I ask you to pray with your families, small groups, on your own throughout the day, and with your congregations. In fact, I’m going to call on all of you readers to pray for the Nepalese victims.

I call on everyone—Christian or not—to pray to God every day for the next week (or more if you will) at 8 am and 8 pm. Let’s raise our prayers to heaven at the same time—whether you are still in bed just getting up, brushing your teeth, driving to work, watching TV, etc. You don’t have to be in a quiet place, just start asking God for help for our brothers and sisters.

I will be praying the following and ask all of you to put your heart into asking God to save the Nepalese people.

Lord Father, we love you and thank you for all the blessings you give to us on a daily basis. You truly provide for us and we are grateful for your mercy, grace, love, and support. We ask you to forgive us our sins against each other and you. Lord Father in your ultimate and merciful power, please lift up your children in Nepal who are suffering from the effects of the earthquakes. Place your protective arms around them and keep them safe from the slavers and traffickers. Allow the missionaries and rescue workers to reach them with provisions, love, and support. Give them the tools and the words to make a difference in the lives of the victims. Stop your enemies from taking girls and abusing the people there. Open the hearts of the families of the abused girls so they can come home to love and protection of their families. We ask for your full blessing on the victims and ask that you help us get the word out to others throughout the world who can add their support and prayers. Thank you Lord and may we be filled with your Holy Spirit each and every day.

If you have ideas on charities or prayers please submit your comments. Love and peace to you all.

Proverbs 14:31

“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

Psalm 82:4 

‘Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

 

Your generosity is another person’s miracle.

I’ve been coming across many references of God’s and Jesus’ miracles recently. For example, I visited many sites of their miracles on my trip to Israel this summer, our current series at church is based on my pastor’s latest book, The Grave Robber, and my small group is discussing a bible study called Miracles: Signs of Gods Glory.

Today Pastor Mark was taking about the miracle of the fish and loaves. I love this miracle and it is an inspiration behind my family’s charity, The Masterpiece Fund. We believe that God will multiply the generosity of others so that we can bless more and more people who need support and comfort.

And while Pastor Mark preaches about how much more we will be blessed the more we give, he makes sure to note that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme and the blessings may not come back via financial returns. Blessings come in many forms—a sense of what is important in life, becoming content in what you have and not chasing after material things, the spiritual lifting of your heart knowing you’ve helped another person, and yes, sometimes God just plain provides what you need, just when you need it.

I have witnessed God’s blessings many times. There have been many stories from people I know who with an ounce of faith were rewarded many times over. Here are a few examples.

About 10 years ago, a friend of mine was suffering from cancer and was unable to work. Our friends created a fund to help his family pay some bills while he was getting treatment. One friend only had a few dollars left in her checking account, but felt overwhelmed by a sense from God that everything was going to work out. He had always provided for her and she just knew by faith that it would work out and it did. A week after she sent that check, her boss told her she was getting a mid-year promotion and a raise.

Another friend lost his job a few years ago. Even though he was out of work and cutting the budget pretty deep, he continued to tithe. He kept watching his spending and praying for a job, but he also had faith that somehow God would take care of him even though the savings was drying up. Just at the time when the checking account was about to empty out, he received a significant financial gain via an insurance policy that had been contested for two years. It came at the exact time when it was most needed.

About 2,000 years ago, a little boy who most likely was poor, offered up his lunch to Jesus. Jesus used that little boy’s generosity to multiply those fish and loaves to feed thousands of people. Multiply is the key word here. God can do more with our small offering than we can possibly imagine. Don’t discount Him—after all, with just a mustard seed of faith, He can move mountains for us.

We each have gifts we can offer. Sometimes it’s financial and other times it’s giving our time, support, love, a shoulder, a place in our homes, a phone call, a laugh, a prayer, help repairing a faucet, carrying a heavy load, healing a broken arm, and so much more. Anything you can do to give that will benefit someone—whether they are a rich neighbor or a poor orphan—your kindness is making our world a brighter and more blessed place to live in.

Go ahead and test God on this. Give with your heart for the purpose of glorifying God and helping others. Keep a gratitude list and pretty soon you’ll start seeing the blessings pouring in.

Be someone else’s miracle. Here are a few ways you can be part of the loaves and fishes miracle that continues today.

The Masterpiece Fund
This fund invests the generous donations of people like you and uses the interest gained plus the donations to give to Kingdom causes. In its first year, we have given to the International Justice Mission, The National Community Church’s Dream Center, and the New Life Bible Camp.

Redeeming Grounds
This organization partners with coffee growers in highly distressed areas such as Columbia and buys their coffee at above-market prices. These farmers are able to get out of growing coca (cocaine) leaves and help restore their communities and share the Gospel.

National Community Church Missions
There are a number of mission trips that are organized by members of National Community Church. These mission trips help people around the world. For example, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself in tears as I witnessed three beautiful girls standing up front next to one our campus members testifying to their faith. Our church member missionary makes frequent trips to Nigeria to help the people there who are being persecuted and in this case, kidnapped and harmed. A few months ago, terrorists captured 300 young girls and held them captive. The world was appalled. Three of those young women had great courage and jumped from moving vehicles, leading several other girls into some scary woods where they trekked for several days before finding safety. And now they are safe in Virginia with hope for a wonderful future because of missionaries willing to go into these violent regions.

Luke 6:37-38
“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Happy campers and happy wanderers.

We love God for sure. And we also love camping. Camping has been a favorite pastime for the Crowe family. When my brother Greg and I were little, our parents took us camping in one of those pop up campers. And throughout our childhood, we both attended various camps—bible camp, sports camps, YMCA camp, girl scout and boy scout camps, and more.

Camps can instill excellent values and feelings in children and adults alike. Campers learn new skills and gain confidence, how to share, and how to live with groups of people. And the beautiful nature that normally surrounds camps—lakes, woods, green fields, birds, and animals—all create a space that allows for peaceful meditation and great exercise to boot.

The New Life Bible Camp in Buffalo Mills, PA, is a special place that my nieces and nephews have enjoyed for years. My brother Greg also loved this place. He saw what the camp did for his children and made good friends with the camp directors. The camp’s mission is “to establish, maintain, operate and conduct a Christ centered camp to the glory of God; to proclaim the Word of God in its entirety, that sinners may come to repentance and be born again through faith in Christ; that Christians may be edified through the teaching of God’s Word and made useful for His service; to promote Christian activity in harmony with God’s Word.”

And of course the kids love the waterslides, hikes, rope swings, and the beautiful surroundings. Once when I was talking to Greg about New Life, he mentioned how he liked to go up for visits when the kids were there. He said his daughter was a different person there. I asked him, “In what way is she different?” Greg replied after a moment, “Well, she’s nice.” Okay, I guess for a teenage girl that’s a pretty good thing!

The Masterpiece Fund was established to provide funds for organizations that help people and who spread the good news of the Kingdom. As a place close to our hearts, the Masterpiece Fund is happy to announce the New Life Bible Camp is the most recent recipient of our support. We pray that children in need of funds to go to camp will have the opportunity to enjoy nature and get love and encouragement along with the message of Christ this summer through the staff and directors of New Life Bible Camp.

We encourage all of you with children to consider sending them to this amazing place and see how “nice” they are when they return to you!

Mathew 18: 3-5

“Then he said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me.”

This is a fun song my mom taught us (and sung on more than one occasion) as we wandered through the woods on vacations and trips.

What do you get for doing good? Nothing. Or Everything.

I was thinking this morning about why we call today Good Friday. Every time I think about what Jesus endured for us, I admittedly feel ashamed and sad. I’m very grateful and love Him for his sacrifice but it’s a little hard to think about how ugly we are and how brutal we can be to each other. It’s hard to think how that is good.

Christians know why it’s good. Because He saved us. He showed us mercy. He began a new day, a new covenant, and now we can have a direct relationship with God and hope for eternal peace and love. That’s not good, that is AWESOME!

After pondering that some, I began to move along in my day and saw this video online (see it below) about a guy who spends his day giving of himself, his time, and his money and doesn’t get any tangible rewards in return. What he does get is love and gratitude from those he helps. He also gets to see how his actions positively affect the world around him. I know it’s some kind of Thai insurance commercial but it was touching and it made me think about Philippians 4: 8-9.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

It’s a great way to live and an attitude like that will help bring you peace and contentment. We can’t save the world the way Jesus did, but we can do a little bit each day to help those around us. All Jesus asked us to do was to love God and love each other.

May you all be blessed on this Good Friday and know the love of Jesus and accept the gift He gave us on that Easter Sunday so long ago.

Isaiah53: 5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  

Random acts of kindness from our youth.

It seems to be a season of giving. My church recently did a series on giving and I’ve been seeing a lot of examples of generosity lately. As my niece puts it—you tend to become more aware of certain things happening around you when you are thinking about those things. I would agree. And maybe…just maybe…when you notice acts of kindness, you’ll be inspired to act that way toward others.

Sometimes those lessons in humility or bravery or kindness come from unexpected sources. Last week I heard of two examples of young college students committing random acts of kindness. Normally in our society, college students tend to be “poor.” So their acts reminded me of what Jesus said in Luke 21: 3-4, “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” I  think we could learn a lot from these two young people.

Hungry Woman Barred Entry

A friend of mine told me a story about her dauther who is a college student. It goes something like this.

“As I was waiting for my daughter to come out of this building from her appointment, I noticed she stopped to talk to a woman in ragged clothes sitting outside a restaurant. I was worried at first, then noticed my daughter going in to the restaurant. She came out with a bag of food and handed the woman some money.”

My friend asked her daughter what happened and she replied, “The lady had money to buy lunch but was not allowed in. So I went in to buy her lunch but just paid for it myself.”

The next day my friend checked her daughter’s bank account to discover a balance of $11. And she just spent $7 of it on a poor woman she didn’t even know.

Reese’s Pieces vs. Starbucks

My niece told me the other day she encountered a homeless man who asked her for some money. She told him she didn’t have any but she could use her bank card to buy him lunch at Starbucks across the street. He declined showing her a lack of teeth and inability to eat real food.

He then asked her to go to the CVS to buy some Reese’s Pieces. You are probably thinking what I thought at this point—the man is failing in the mental health department. Yes, he was ill, but that didn’t stop my niece from going out of her way to find some cash for him. She returned to the man and handed him some money for lunch. After pulling a secret agent spy-like maneuver, he left.

Wow, what can I say? Both these young women don’t have much financially but they gave of themselves. They gave time and respect to two human beings who needed love and support from those of us who are blessed with so much. I think most of us would have hurried on to what we thought was more important and rationalized not helping them. But the truth is, these two human beings were much more important than getting home faster or to an appointment on time.

Do you have any stories of generosity? Share them and help us inspire good deeds everywhere. And if you want some creative ways to share your blessings during this time of lent, check out 40 acts. We love creativity and sharing and this is right up our alley!

Proverbs 19:17
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.

generosity

Photo source: http://ryanpeterwrites.com/2013/06/matthew-and-money-generosity-is-always-right/

Render unto God your heart.

The theme of National Community Church’s recent sermon series is I Like Giving. One of my favorite guest pastors, Dick Foth, gave a sermon last week about giving. It wasn’t the typical speech about the importance of tithing; this was something so much greater. It reflected the greatness of giving in the way God wants us to give.

Foth read a familiar scripture to us, but the way he read it—with non-verbal communication that included in a new reflection of how I’ve heard this scripture before—gave it completely new meaning to me. Foth was describing how Jesus most likely delivered the words He said in Mathew 21-21. When the scholars were trying to trick Jesus by asking Him if they should pay Roman taxes, Foth said he imagined Jesus saying, “Let me see one of those coins… then after looking at it and holding it out to the scholars, Jesus said, “Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar’s.” Then Foth imagines Jesus tossing the penny on to the ground as if it didn’t mean anything, saying, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” and Foth then imagines Jesus pointing to each person and saying slowly and deliberately as if looking into their hearts, “and unto God the things that are God’s.”

You see, that coin was made in the image of Caesar—just a coin, nothing that really means anything—and it was all Caesar could claim. But God—He made you and me in His image. We and the universe are all God’s and He loves us. God wants us—our hearts—not money that we collect.

When I truly thought about that it was very powerful. I write checks to help people but God wants more of us. He wants our hearts to be in it. It’s easy to give what you have extra of. It’s harder to give what you really value and don’t have as much of. To me, that is my time. Lately I’ve been living in a situation where I’ve been giving up more of my private free time to help family, friends, foster dogs, and those who need some comfort and help of others. It doesn’t come easy to me. I’m used to owning my time and loving my privacy, but giving more of me is what God wants. And the more I give up my tight hold on my time for myself, the more I get out of myself and become a better person. A more loving and caring person. Someone that would make Jesus smile. Someone who brightens other people’s lives instead of sucking the light in for me. I’m still working on it (one small step at a time), but God has been blessing me lately with opportunities to help loved ones and friends.

Jesus gave us a gift not to be surpassed. He gave us His life. We cannot out give God but we can strive to give more of ourselves.

John 15:13
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

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