Over the last couple of years our work in Burkina Faso has benefitted a great deal from people going to their employers to ask about matching funds. In many cases it works like this; if you as an employee donate to a nonprofit, your business will donate money back to the same nonprofit (Engage Burkina) at a pre-determined match. We have had companies match gifts dollar for dollar, double or triple a gift, and some companies have even thrown in more for good measure because they had the ability too.
We have received matching gifts from companies all over the country such as Tiffany and Co., Liberty Mutual Insurance, Illinois Tool Works, and more.
Maybe your family would like to sponsor a bike for someone immobilized by disease in West Africa, or maybe provide clean water to a village. Why not get some help with a matching gift from your employer? Of course, not all companies offer this, but for the right opportunity they just might.
You can go here and download our Case Statement, and share with your Business or School. http://tinyurl.com/ebcasestatment2013. Our tax exemption letter from the IRS is available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go to EngageBurkina.com and found out how you can bring hope and sustainable solutions and engaging the people of Burkina Faso.
She had been in school the morning we came to her village on a trip assessing the water needs in some of the most untouched villages in Burkina Faso. There are easily 75-100 children in her elementary classroom. When she gets thirsty she doesn’t go ask her teacher if she can go get a drink of water. Why bother? They will never even know she is gone. She’s not being mischievous, just thirsty.
There is one well in this village. Though we don’t know the exact population it is well beyond the capacity of one. Rather than wait her turn at the water pump, or elbow her way to the front, this sweet, meek little girl goes for a walk. On this day, the distance she walked away from the school and the local drilled well is not the issue. What’s more important is what she found for a water source. It was just a local cistern. A hole in the ground designed to catch some rain from the months before and be used for whatever is convenient like bathing, or watering animals. The bottle she was carrying to fill says it all; this water should not be drunk.
I think of this little girl often. She is another face of the water need all over Burkina Faso. Engage Burkina and our partners are currently raising funds to bring drilled wells to this and as many other villages in this region as we can later on in 2014.
At Engage Burkina we are working to bring hope and the water that sustains life to villages just like this one.
You can help us at http://engageburkina.com/donate
“Let every vein of your heart be full to the brim with the rich blood of desire, and struggle and wrestle and strive with God for it, using the promises and pleading the attributes of God, and see if God does not give you your heart’s desire. I challenge you to exceed in prayer. I throw down the gauntlet to you. Believe Him to be more than He is.” (Charles Spurgeon)
Excerpt from Week 2 of the ‘Make Room’ Lent Reading plan at West Ridge Church in preparation for Easter.
Pushing some of life’s subtle distractions to the side brings life into greater perspective. Combine that with inviting God to search us and know us and to pull the weeds of sin clears our view so that we can truly fix our eyes on Jesus. As we look forward to Easter Weekend the cross standing in the distance comes into focus, and with every day of preparation we take a step closer.
There is a danger in removing the things that have cluttered our lives. Sometimes the clutter and the weeds have crowded out so much that when we remove them we end up with nothing left. Empty, hollow, and meaningless are not good feelings. So we put our focus on filling back up. On being filled by God’s word and by His Spirit.
In Ephesians 5:18 the Apostle Paul encourages the Christ follower to be continually filled by the Spirit of God. He already resides within the believer, yet too often He is crowded out. The challenge is to give Him full access to every area of our lives. Allow Him to fill our thoughts and direct our actions. He does that when we Make Room for Him to intervene in times of prayer and reading the scriptures.
Some of the recommended scripture reading:
A couple years ago I heard author Ray Vanderlaan do a talk about God’s instructions to Moses for creating the wilderness tabernacle. He said this (I’m summarizing), “God created the world and created man to fill it. (That obviously didn’t work out) When creating the tabernacle God said, ‘You make the space and I’ll fill it.'”
It’s an intoxicating thought. Create a space in your life that God can fill. The genesis of the thought is from Exodus 25:8 where the Lord says to Moses “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them.” The Spirit of God already lives in those that have put their faith in Jesus, but so many things try to entangle us and crowd that out.
The best gardens are the ones where the farmer tends to the weeds every day. Pulling them up by the roots so that they don’t take any nutrients from a healthy crop. But if you have ever had a garden you know how easy it is to allow weeds to crowd out growth. For me, inevitably, I have to spend extra time pulling out weeds because something prevented me from doing it every day as I should.
That is a little of how the season of Lent works for me. It restores healthy rhythms and creates extra space for God to search me and know me and help me see what I have been missing.
You never know how He might fill just a little extra space.
If you are a Christ-follower there can be a pretty regular sense this time of year that you should be reading the Bible and maybe starting a reading plan, but you just don’t want to. The #1 reason: The fear that you are going to flame out somewhere in Leviticus. Even if you haven’t made it through the whole thing before, don’t shy away from the opportunity to refresh some healthy rhythms in your life.
Honestly, the more I read the Bible the more I love and crave it. It took me while to get there though. (Is that ok for a Pastor to say?) Here are some things that help me keep it fresh:
1) Try a different translation. It’s not so much that it is going to make a huge difference in your understanding, but refreshing the language is a great way to mix of the cadence of your reading. How do you know if you have picked the right translation? As long as it doesn’t have the words Mormon, Jehovah or Witness in it you are probably ok.
2) Listen to it. When I first started listening to scripture it totally changed my understanding of some passages. Especially if you can carve out enough time on a drive or a workout (I listen while riding my bike) to listen to a whole book (Like one of Paul’s letters) all at one time.
3) Read it chronologically. You may not realize this, but the Bible is not written in chronological order. It’s grouped largely by the types of writing it contains (Like books of Poetry or History). It can be really eye opening to discover who are contemporaries of one another in scripture, and make you want to dive in and sleuth some things out a bit more. This is great for the little ‘CSI’ in you that is waiting to be let loose.
4) Read It Real Fast! If you have never done it I would encourage you to read the Bible as a narrative at least one time. From cover to cover and front to back. Whether or not you have ever read the Bible before take the posture of someone who has never read it before, and ask yourself the question, “What is this book about?” I’d love to hear what you come up with.
The best plan I ever saw for this was a 90-day one that came out some years ago. Here is a link to the reading plan I found; http://www.haventoday.org/schedule.pdf. For ideas on a bunch of plans that will fit your goals and growth for this year head on over to Bible.com.
Any other ideas out there? I’d love to hear what you do to keep it fresh!
Every year at this time Christians all over the world begin with a scripture reading plan, and every year people get through different amounts of that plan. Think of what this time of year would be like if we were all finishing up our reading schedules together. The sense of shared accomplishment and unity that would bring to the Church would be palpable!
One of the most inspiring and worshipful gatherings I ever attended was at a Messianic Synagogue in North Atlanta. I was attending with my oldest son to see how they celebrated the Feast of the Tabernacles, and have a teachable moment with my boy. It’s my favorite of the Old Testament Holidays both because of what it means and the intentional planning of time to just worship!
I was a little surprised by something else being celebrated that night. The holiday is called Simchat Torah, and it means ‘Rejoicing with the Torah’. Here is the core thought for this:
When Israel studies the Torah, the devil accuses them, saying, “Though they have begun to study it, they will not finish it.” On the day that they finish Deuteronomy, he says, “Though they have finished it, they will not study it again.” To prove him a liar, we begin reading Genesis as soon as we have finished Deuteronomy. (Learn More Here)
There is a schedule for reading the first five books of the Old Testament known as the Torah of Books of the Law. They are seen as foundational for understanding the rest of the scripture including the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. The schedule includes some other readings from the Hebrew scripture.
I love the idea of reading the scriptures ‘To prove the devil a liar’. It’s just the kind of dare and challenge that someone with my competitive nature needs. It may not be the best motive for keeping up with a scripture-reading plan, but a motive nonetheless.
Need a plan to begin the New Year? Head on over to the Bible.com and pick a plan that helps you cover a small portion or all of the scriptures this year. I’ll even bet on you to finish it!
A couple of years ago my friend Andrew Pray, myself, and our wives were online looking at ‘Awkward Family Photos‘. I told him I felt like I had one that qualified. When I showed him this photo he laughed as hard as I ever saw him laugh…and it went on for a while. I promised him that one day around the start of the Christmas Season that I would either submit this to the Awkward Family Photo web site, or just post it myself.
On this day, his birthday, and in the hopes of making others smile and laugh as hard as Andrew did, I submit to you ‘Christmas Eve 2008’. What can I say? We have a Disney Side! For the record, my wife looks amazing, my boys are handsome rascals, but I look like a Christmas Creeper. Celebrating the life of my friend, who is gone far too soon, with a wink and a smile.
There are moments and days you will never forget. Most of them are filled with happiness and blessing. Some of them are filled with loss. This is one of those days. I remember almost everything about November 21st, 2012. It is the day my friend Andrew Pray was tragically struck and killed by a bus while cycling on Hwy 41 North of Atlanta.
To know Andrew was to love and be valued and loved in return. He was a fully devoted follower of Jesus, and a lover of God and people. He was a top tier Worship Leader in every aspect that goes with that. He invested in others heavily, and was completely present with whomever he was with. He was a tremendous Dad to Noah, Halle, and Carson, and loved his wife Courtney completely. He believed in all of them with everything inside of him, and wanted to see all of God’s plans for them fulfilled. He made all of us want to be a better Husband and Dad.
For me, he was my closest friend. This past year there have been some intense moments of sadness and grief, combined with lots of happy memories and immense gratitude.
Lately when I think of Andrew, which is daily, I think of a story from the Bible. In his late teens and early twenties, before he was enthroned, King David, had a close friendship with King Saul’s Son, Jonathan. They had some of the deepest level of friendship the Bible can describe. It was pure hearted, strengthening, encouraging, and sharpening of one another in ways that we get very little of in our lives. That is certainly how I would describe my friendship with Andrew. Seldom has someone pushed me farther and believed in me more.
It’s unclear how long they were friends. It was for just a few years. One thing is sure, this friendship marked King David’s life for the rest of his days. Year’s after Jonathan’s death the fruit of this friendship brings us one of the greatest stories of grace found in the Old Testament. In Second Samuel 9 it says, One day David asked, “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family? If so, I’d like to show him some kindness in honor of Jonathan.” What unfolds as a result of this question is pretty incredible.
The word used for kindness carries some others with it like faithful love, and grace. For the rest of my life there will be moments where the urge will strike to show that level of kindness to Andrew’s family, and to others that shared friendship with him.
To honor the God who gives and takes away and whose name is blessed, the one who everything He does is kind, and to carry the legacy of those we love, forward consider who you might show kindness to. In doing so you will celebrate life, and write new stories of grace that others will want to read.