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.’”

Advertisements

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.  

Do you have junk in your trunk?

Sometimes when sitting in church, I wander a bit during the sermon. My mind goes to all sorts of places—some spiritual and some secular. And sometimes during those moments  I get brought back with a proverbial slap and think, “WHAT?” The pastor said something huge that convicted me or recalled a memory that elicits an emotional response. And sometimes he says something that I never thought would come from the mouth of a spiritual leader.

Today our pastor was talking about how it’s okay not to be okay. That church should be a place where you feel God’s grace. Not a place for saints to pat each other on the back, but an emergency room of sorts for sinners. He then says, “Everyone’s got junk in their trunk.”

My immediate reaction was, “Did he just say that? I wonder if he even knows what that means.” He’s a pretty savvy guy who is very connected and aware of trends and current events and knows how to communicate with both young and mature audiences. Hmmm. After a minute (of what I’m sure was some silence after some awkward laughing) he said to take that literally. Okay, yes, if that’s the case, I have an enormous amount of trash, laundry, dog food, bags, soda, wood, and empty bags of chick-fil-a all strewn about my car. A little like my life, so okay, I’ll use that analogy and not take it personally that my pastor thinks I have a huge backside. Which I do, but that’s irrelevant. God loves all of me.

Anyway, fun aside, the message is clear and comforting to those of us who don’t quite make the grade of perfection. But that’s the point. Jesus was perfect and he gave himself up for us. That is what makes the gift worthy. We are not perfect. And no matter what your sin, don’t give up. God forgives everyone. Even Cain, the first murderer, got a break. God forgave him and protected him from the angry mobs, and Cain went on to have a productive life—a family, career, and a life worth living.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t compare your life to anyone else’s. It’s a losing battle. There are 7 billion people on this planet. Almost all of them are much poorer than you are. And there are people who seem better off. But you don’t know what is going on in their life, in their hearts, in their heads, or in their relationships. The only thing you should be concerned with is your relationship with God. He really doesn’t ask much of us if you think about it. Accept His gift and love Him. Then just try to be good. You can’t be perfect so don’t condemn yourself or give up. Just clean some of the junk out of your trunk and keep moving.

John Crowe on a road trip circa 1960s. John went on to lead a monastic life, with very few possessions and a strong commitment to God.

John Crowe on a road trip circa 1960s. John went on to lead a monastic life, with very few possessions and a strong commitment to God.