Shafts of Hope

Hey all: The Wilberforce Project just published another article I wrote, this one about living with an eternal perspective. So I'm writing over there this week - hop on over and let me know what you think!

As I mentioned once before this site is a very cool collaborative effort by Christian ministries and thinkers from around the country. Its goal is to offer lots of different types of biblical worldview resources to the church, in order to equip Christians for effective Kingdom impact in our fast-paced, pluralistic, multicultural world. The full launch happens this summer but there's already a number of great devotionals, study guides, articles and more all available and free. Check it out!

God Blew Me Away At Church Today - And We're Not Even Pentecostal!

Sometimes God moves in unexpected ways. And man, is it cool. That happened at Harvest Community Church this morning.

This is Patrick Dehler, a Senior student at Hillsboro High School who's part of our family at Harvest. I'm sure he'll really dig appearing on his pastor's blog. Everyone say hi to Patrick.

This morning during the worship service he told the congregation about a recent experience he had shortly after my good friend Rosemary Khamati (pictured below with my family) from the Sudan Evangelical Alliance came to Harvest and updated us on the ministry in Southern Sudan. Patrick felt a real passion to help support the ministry there, so he decided to head down to Portland with his guitar, his heart, and a sign that said "help me raise money for Sudan" to see if he could drum up some cash for the little village of Boma.

He opened his guitar case, set up the sign, and began singing. After over an hour of playing he had made a grand total of $1.25 - not exactly what he'd hoped for. Then the first really cool thing happened. A homeless guy came up in the middle of a song and peered intently into the case. Patrick thought what I would have thought: 'he probably wants the money.' But the guy didn't ask for money. Instead he read the sign, reached into his pocket, and plopped $1.00 into the guitar case.

Patrick was floored. Scores of people with fancy shopping bags full of stuff had passed by and not given a dime. But here was this homeless dude, much like the poor widow with two copper coins that Jesus taught about, who took from his poverty and gave. And with that Patrick was done with his story. Neat real-life parable, eh? Yet his afternoon in Portland had netted Boma a total of $4.

But this is where it gets really cool, because while Patrick thought the story was done (as did I) God decided it wasn't finished yet. As Patrick was headed back to his seat in church after telling the story, one guy got up in the middle of the service, walked up to Patrick, and handed him some cash for Boma. What a cool, unexpected gesture, I thought.

Then about 40 minutes later, after my home-dog Kenny Stone (Harvest's youth pastor) preached on Psalm 96 and we had Communion, the worship team started playing a couple worship songs. Well, Patrick was playing bass today so he was up on stage with the rest of the team. That's when it started. Someone got up from their seat in the middle of the song, walked up on stage, and tossed some cash at Patrick's feet for Boma - unfortunately his guitar case was backstage, so the floor would have to do! Then another came, and another. Spontaneously, totally unplanned and unsolicited, dozens of people got up during the music and contributed to this growing pile of cash on the stage.

My eyes were closed focusing on worship, so I didn't even see it begin. My unbelievably awesome daughter Elizabeth, who knows Rosemary well and has a huge heart for Sudan, nudged me out of my private worship moment and said "can I go give some money to Patrick for Sudan?" A little taken aback I said, "well sure, but not now!" Then I looked up to the stage and saw what was happening. I immediately apologized to her and asked her how much she wanted to give (since she had to borrow from me and pay me back when we got home). She told me and I gave her the money, and then sat back and watched my 11-year-old join dozens of others in spontaneously giving of what she had to advance the ministry in Sudan.

When the service was over people kept handing Patrick money. The funniest part of the whole deal is he thought the story was over at the $4 mark, but when we counted all the cash given this morning it exceeded $600! I've never seen a high school kid so stunned as he was, and I told him "it's amazing to see what God does, isn't it?" I was telling myself as much as him.

I also thought of the homeless guy who reached into his grimy pocket and pulled out a buck, just trying to make a difference. He may never know how God used him and a passionate high schooler to prod his own people into action. But 60,000% is a pretty good return on any investment - I'd say that's some serious leverage.

And I love watching my beautiful young woman make heart and mind choices that reflect God's heart and mind.

What do you say after such an experience? To whom do you shout your uncontainable exultation? Patrick? Elizabeth? Kenny? The homeless guy?


Anyone else and your missing the whole point of the whole deal. This is what it means to be full of energy, joy and excitement about who God is. That's worship.

Kids at the school in Boma, which our church helped construct. This is their first exposure to books!

Some of the Sudanese kids in Boma

Life is...

...about to get a bit insane around our place.

First off, the kids wrap up their school year next week and thus begin filling ever larger blocks of our daily planners with their delightful presence. Big man Tommy is dispatching 2nd grade, while his big sis (emphasis on big: that girl has shot up at least 6 inches in the last year and is now as tall as her mother) Elizabeth has ascended to the very summit of Elementary School.

And just when that change takes place I begin teaching a class once again at George Fox University called Christian Faith and Thought. This class teaches students how to compare major worldviews like Christianity, Naturalism (atheism) and Postmodernism, and challenges them to think through their own view of life more thoroughly. Students typically come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences so the class is always a lively, engaging and fun process both for them and for me! I really enjoy getting to do it.

This time around I'm doing two classes simultaneously while still working my "real" job - meaning that while I'll still blog some, the frequency of my posting may drop a bit until late July.

And thanks to all of you Harvest members who responded to my request for help last month. After reading all your comments I think I'll start up a discussion forum in late June or July after our current group of classes ends. We'll meet during the Community Cafe/summer breakfast hour to discuss the morning's passage. Emphasis on discuss! So read ahead and come prepared with questions, insights, or simply a willingness to learn together with other members of your church family! Watch the bulletin & Harvest web site for more info.

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