Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 4

A day off?!  Already?  It feels like we just got started!

Oh well...  I guess we'll suck it up and do some exploring!

No devotions with the whole group this morning, so instead we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at the house and planned our day.  Kathy, Beth J., Beth R., and Megan would head out to the Badlands and Wall Drug; and Carol and Amy would stay a little closer to Rosebud and explore the Nebraska town of Valentine - waterfall and all!

A few pictures from the Badlands adventure:
(Kathy, Beth, and Beth.  Notice the haze in the air?  It's at least 98 degrees!)
(Megan - enjoying a picturesque rest...)
(Our new friend - a bighorn sheep!)
(Lunch and some fun at Wall Drug!)

And a couple from the beautiful waterfall (perfect in 98 degree weather!):
(A perfect way to enjoy a hot day!)

And now, to continue sharing about Tree of Life Ministry, here are interesting facts about the Rosebud Reservation and the ministry being done there:

"*  7 of the poorest 11 counties in the USA are the reservations of the Sioux Tribe.  South Dakota's average household income is $39,000/year, but on the Rosebud reservation it is only $7,200/year.  Unemployment is 80%.  To have an idea of what a yearly income of $7,200 would be - try living on a grocery budget of $21 a week.
*  Because of this poverty, health is very poor on the reservation.  70% of the population suffers from diabetes.  The average life span for a man is 54 years old, 58 for a woman.  Suicide is twice as high as the national average, and 4 times as high among teens.  70% of 12 year olds through adults suffer from alcoholism.  (Alcohol poisoning is not an uncommon cause of death amongst children and teens.)
*  Tree of Life Ministry has been on the reservation since 1986 - since it's humble beginnings, it has grown to the 2nd largest destination for United Methodist Volunteers in Missions.  In 2008, 1,300 volunteers from 10 different denominations came to the Rosebud Tree of Life location.
*  The mission of Tree of Life is to build a "bridge of trust" between the Sioux and the Church.  Because of the negative meaning given to the ideas of "Christian" and "church," we usually just say we "walk the Jesus path."  An enemy is not interested in hearing about your faith, so we must first show that we are worthy of trust, and able to be a friend showing the love of Jesus.  As these bridges are built, dialogue might begin on an individual basis, and the good news may be shared and understood.  The Tree of Life mission statement says, "Nurture the Body, Strengthen the Culture, Enhance the Spirit."

In summary, Tree of Life is building a bridge of trust between the Sioux and those who follow the Jesus Path.  Most of our history with the Sioux has been filled with treachery, betrayal and lies by the Wasicu ("those who take the fat", meaning that we often took the filet of meat and left the natives with the poorest cuts).  We are part of a generation that seeks to overcome our past history and offer respect and understanding.  We are called to reach out in friendship to those who live on the reservation, and show them the essence of real Christian faith.  The Sioux are a joyful and friendly people, who consider us to be "mi-tak-u-ye o-ya-sin" (all my relatives)."
--Facts taken from the Tree of Life information packet handed out at orientation

"When the world looks at the church, they should see something different.  They should see something that's so different from their own way of doing things, in fact, that they're compelled to ask what causes the difference to happen.  The ability to live an unselfish life, to really be able to pour yourself out in service to others, makes people sit up and take notice...

"...Are we using what we do have?  Are we willing to step out there and let God pick up the slack?  Amazing things can happen, you know."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

(All photos courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 3

Day 3 - Already?!  It seems like time is flying!

Again, we woke up, shared breakfast together and headed to the main building for morning devotions.  It really is such a nice way to start the day - outside, listening to all kinds of inspiring things, and laughing together.
(Carol's ready and waiting for what we might learn today!)

And we're off - ready to head to our jobs for the day:

Beth J., Carol, and I headed to the town of St. Francis to help some kindergarten-3rd graders with their reading skills.  We were able to listen to their morning lesson, help them pronounce, read, and write their words for the week and learn a little bit about their lives in the process.  We played at recess (man, I got tagged a lot!).  We sat down with them at the lunch table, accompanied them through the free-book-mobile (where they were able to take 3 books home for free!), and read and played with them til it was time to go home.  This was summer school - a class of about 14.  Their teacher, Mrs. G, was amazing - so devoted to these kids!  Her warmth and dedication was inspiring to all of us.  And the kids!  They were so fun, so smart, and so deperately wanting attention and love - and that, we were able to give in abundance!  (I think many of us wish we could have done this all week!)
(Mrs. G and Clinton)
(Carol and Logan)
(Victoria, Beth J., and Lakota)
(McKenzie, Kalieb, Megan, and Lakota)
(Reading their new "Berenstein Bears" Book!)

Amy got to help with gardening and landscaping around the grounds today. She loved the hard, dirty work - and the areas she cleaned up looked beautiful when she was done!

Beth R. returned to her post in the thrift shop - she loved it so much, she didn't want to try anything else!

And Kathy tried her hand at working in the sewing room - making curtains and shopping bags.  A nice way to spend part of the day - quiet, air-conditioned, and self-directed.

After our days of work, back to the house for some relaxation, showers, and quiet time.  And Amy continues to take good care of us with great meals!

Since we got home early today, I took some pictures of our house.  Let me show you around!
(The living room - many evenings spent talking, laughing, and (some of the team) knitting here!)
(Our breakfast nook - another nice place to hang out together.)
(A typical bedroom.  Since we were a small group, we had the upstairs 3 bedrooms - so only two of us to each bedroom.)

Tonight our activity choices were 1) Participating in a traditional Sweat Lodge Ceremony or 2) Learning the story behind and how to make Dreamcatchers.

Beth J. and I decided to brave the sweat lodge ceremony.  Uffda.  That is HOT!  But so amazing.  Our tribal leader, or medicine man, was Duane Hollow Horn Bear.  He is a well-respected leader among the Sioux, has had a fascinating life (including being part of the boarding schools when he was young, has overcome drug and alcohol abuse to be a powerful role model to his people today AND he has traveled all over the world trying to get other countries to recognize the Reservations as sovereign nations - even as far as having an audience with the Pope!).  He did a wonderful job of explaining the spirituality of his culture, of explaining the purpose and power of the sweat lodge prayer ceremony, he sang tribal songs, told the creation story, and all-in-all made me greatful to be in his presence.  As we began the ceremony, the door closed to the tent-like lodge, the heat rose up to almost unbearable, the darkness was complete, and Duane began to sing in the Lakota language...  It became a powerful, prayer time.  It was so easy to find myself meditating on all thet I was learning and asking God to open my eyes more and more everyday...  And God certainly found a way to open my heart as well.  A beautiful experience.
(This is the lodge a couple of days later - no pictres are allowed during the ceremony since it is a sacred space.)

Here is a wonderful description of a Sweat Lodge Ceremony if you are curious to learn more.

The others went to learn about Dreamcatchers - and brought back beautiful new creations!  (I'm hoping next year to do that, too!)

Once again, the evening ended with devotionals.  We shared highs and lows of the day and read the story of the Good Samaritan.  We had an interesting discussion about the ways we see ourselves in that story and how we react to others...  It's amazing what being in a place of such poverty brings out in conversation.  Once again, we prayed our thanks and our concerns and ended the evening feeling lucky, alive, and blessed to be here!
(This is our picnic space in the backyard of our house - such a nice space to have!  And... look at those ladies holding up their Bibles!  What a good church group!)

"The best servers are not those who are the most talented, gifted, or trained.  All of these qualities are important, but the real productivity comes through connection with God.  When we are willing to get beyond ourselves and into his strength and abilities, that's when God's love flows through us and touches the lives of other people."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

"If you can't feed one hundred people, then feed just one."
--Mother Teresa

(All photos courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 2

Up and at 'em!

Breakfast at the house, devotions at the main ministry building.

Russell did a great job of leading morning devotions - bringing our Christian faith and the tribal spirituality into focus in a way that helps us see the beautiful similarities.  He taught us about aspects of the culture, Lakota words, and some tribal history that helps us to learn why things are the way they are.  I found myself wanting to sit and listen to Russell all day!  He was interesting.  Enthusiastic.  Funny.  And he LOVES the people on the reservation and wants so badly to help us to love them, too.  He does a wonderful job.

After devotions we were off to our jobs!  Beth J. and I headed to the clothes closet to start unpacking boxes - sorting what could be used and what should be thrown away.  We organized, hung up, folded, and made the clothes look nice for today's customers.  It's amazing how many clothes are donated!  (And how many are not able to be used...  Just a note for future donators - no corduroys or turtlenecks for the reservation.  They just get thrown out.)
(We made it through all of those boxes and MANY more throughout the day!)

Carol worked in the "Warm Welcome" the area of the thrift store that serves breakfast and lunch.  She got to help prepare and serve meals (hard work!) and chat with the people as they came through...  She was even known to entertain some little kids in the meantime!
(Carol made that pretty quilted sign for the Warm Welcome area.  Isn't it fun?)

Beth R. started out in the warehouse unpacking food items and stocking the shelves - but was quickly snatched up to work the front desk!  She loved the responsibility and the joy of talking to people and seeing their smiles as they left with what they needed.

Amy and Kathy made the drive to the town of St Francis to help tutor small kids in reading for half of the day.  A VERY rewarding way to spend the day!  When they returned, Amy went back to the house to rest and prepare our meals...
And Kathy was all over the place!  She got to work in the warehouse unloading and shelving food, making room for new shipments coming in.  Hard work!  Then, in the afternoon, she joined me in the clothes closet.  It's really amazing how many clothes you can go through in one day - and how many are taken home! 

In the afternoon, we were able to go back to the house (where Amy had chocolate chip cookies for us!), shower, eat dinner and relax before our evening activities and devotionals.

Our evening fun tonight was one of two choices:  1) Learning about Native American "Handgames" or 2) Listening to a speaker about Native American artifacts.

I chose Handgames.  I was ready for some fun and excited to hang out with the youth group kids from our house.  Our whole group decided to take part in this activity.  Midas, our teacher, is one of the people on the Rosebud Handgames team that won the national competition this year - so we were being taught by the best!  It's really a guessing game.  You hide things in your hands while the other team guesses which hand has the right object.  The fun is - you're allowed to distract and tease and have fun with the other team...  Amy decided to distract and tempt the men (when we were playing men against women) by offering them our chocolate chip cookies and cold milk.  To much laughter - it worked!  The boys couldn't help themselves, lost focus, and - lost the game!  We had so much fun laughing as we learned about this ancient game - Midas was a great teacher!
(These are the sticks you are trying to earn - all handmade!)
(These are the "bones" you hide in your hands - the "guesser" is looking for the plain one."
(Amy's "hiding the bones" while Midas teaches us the way to play.)
(The first round, Beth R. and I were on a team with some men-folk from the other group.  We won!)

After the program was over and everyone went their own ways, we spent some time talking with some of the adults staying in our house... and then got around to our devotions - again outside on such a nice night!  We shared our highs and lows of the day, read scripture, talked about what "service" really means and discussed what it means to truly "see" the needs of those around us.  To wrap up we prayed - offering thanks and lifting situations that we witnessed throughout the day that needed a little extra prayer...  A great way to end the day.

Life is good on the reservation.  Hard work, lots of smiles and laughs, learning lots, and loving this experience!

"The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
--Albert Schweitzer

"You and I were created for a purpose, and that purpose is to serve.  His Word says that if we want to be happy and fulfilled, we'll never get there just by receiving.  We also have to give...

"...Love has to be the motivating factor."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

(Photos courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Rosebud Reservation 2010 - Day 1

We're on our way!

Carol, Beth, Megan, Beth, Amy, and Kathy - cars are packed, it's early and we're smiling, we're ready to hit the road!
The 9-hour drive to Mission, SD, was full of lively conversation as we continued to get to know one another, and share expectations (and fears) about what we would see and learn in the coming week.  We saw the recent tornado damage around southwestern MN and were shocked at the destruction.  And gradually, the landscape began to change - rolling, green hills were beckoning us (as well as Wall Drug signs)!  It was beautiful!  I couldn't wait to see a sunset over those hills!

We arrived at Tree of Life Ministries around 5pm.  We unpacked.  Amy made us a delightful, healthy dinner!  We had a few moments to meet the other group that would be co-habitating in the house with us (a youth group from Indiana - nice to have such energy and enthusiasm in the house!).  And finally, we had our orientation for the week.
(Our dining area in the house - Perfect for our group!)
(Mmmmm...  Stir-fry!)

Russell, the Tree of Life Ministries coordinator, led our orientation about what the week would entail.  His passion for this ministry and the culture of the Lakota Sioux was very apparent and made all of us excited to share this experience with him! 
We signed up for our jobs for the week - everything from working in the Thrift Shop, the Warm Welcome Center (serving meals), the sewing room, tutoring young kids in reading, construction, sorting clothes and food in the warehouse, gardening and landscaping, etc.  Lots of choices!

We ended the evening with our own small group devotionals outside on a gorgeous evening!  We talked about gratitude in the midst of the unexpected - and handed out gratitude journals for the week.  On a mission trip, you just never know what frustrations may pop up - but at least we were ready to look at everything the happened with a lens of gratitude and watching for God in the details.
It's going to be a good week.  We can all feel it.  And we're ready to see where God leads!

"God has a place for every person.  And when he gets them there, he empowers them to do what he needs done...

"...Doing the best we can, with what we have, where we are - is the biblical standard of serving."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

(Pictures courtesy of Carol E. and Megan A.)

Friday, June 25, 2010


"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
--Albert Einstein

"As a follower of Christ, serving isn't really an option.  It's essential.  If we are ever to live life with a capital L, we have to understand that true joy and fulfillment come only when we give out what we take in, and pass on to others what we have received...

"...I'm not talking about material things.  I'm talking about giving of yourself, your time, and your talents, just for the joy of knowing it was you were created to do...

"...That's how God works.  He has things he wants us to do and places he wants us to serve, but it's not really about us.  It's about him working through us to accomplish his plans.  When we understand that, fulfillment comes, because we become part of a larger picture, a greater role.  We start to see how our little piece fits into the grand puzzle of life."
--John Ed Mathison, "Treasures of a Transformed Life"

Thursday, June 24, 2010


"Without love, the outward work is of no value; but whatever is done out of love, be it ever so little, is wholly fruitful.  For God regards the greatness of love that prompts a man, rather than the greatness of achievement."
--Thomas a Kempis

"I can genuinely say that each experience has changed me for the better.  Each time, the focus of my life has not been me and my needs, but the needs of others.  And over time, this cannot help but change my overall perspective in life to be less self-centered and more other-centered...

"...When we take time and make space for God to move in our lives, we then have the resources necessary for true servanthood.  Ultimately, how you serve Jesus and God's creation is a reflection of your personal spiritual health."
--Tony Jones, "The Sacred Way"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Even Me, Even You

"Nobody is too good to perform the lowliest task.  People who worry about the loss of time that such petty, outward acts of helpfulness might entail are probably taking themselves and their careers too seriously..."

"The ministry of bearing with one another is more than simply tolerating difficult people.  It is also learning to hear God speak through them."
--John Ortberg, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

Life hits us where we least expect it sometimes.  We're humming along, doing our thing, feeling good about ourselves and our accomplishments and... BAM!  Something - or someone gets in our way.  A child is lost and needs help finding her parents during your busy shopping day.  A homeless man is asking for money for lunch.  Someone at your workplace needs a ride home from work.  Someone at church is sick and could use a meal delivered.  There's litter in your path as you take your daily walk.  Your spouse has had a bad day and needs someone to talk to.  Your child needs help with their homework.  Your parent needs a ride to the doctor's office.

So many things can stop us in our tracks and get in the way of our perfectly planned days...  Some of them are easy to do, only take a few minutes, and you enjoy the person that needs help.  Ok.  Done.

Some of them take you away from where you want to be and what you want to be doing.  Some may feel risky.  Sometimes the people involved are difficult and ornery.  God still calls us to put aside our prejudices and selfishness and help out... and sometimes...  we hear God's voice coming through loud and clear when we help those we would rather not.  An ultimate lesson in humbleness and service.

As you walk through your day today, and as I walk through mine - let's notice what's going on around us.  Who could use some help - or just a smile?  How is God speaking to you through the people you pass by everyday?  Take some time to travel the day a little slower - look around and really see the people in your life...  How is God calling you to serve?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

God's Community

"It is almost impossible to to serve without creating a greater sense of intimacy and community."

"Authentic community is characterized perhaps more than anything else by mutual servanthood and submission.  When Jesus said the last shall be first, and the least shall be great, and the slave the greatest of all, he wasn't giving orders.  He was simply describing the truth about God's kind of community and how different it looks from the way things generally work in our world."
--John Ortberg, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

Have you looked for a way to serve someone within your church community yet?  Are you able to humble yourself enough to be the last, the least, the servant to someone else?

Can you think of a time that you have been served or served someone else, when a sense of intimacy and community has been created?

I'd love to read your stories!  Feel free to leave a note in the comments!

Monday, June 21, 2010


"Humility, if we ever could grow into it, would not be a burden.  It would be an immense gift.  Humility is the freedom to stop trying to be what we're not, or pretending to be what we're not, and accepting our appropriate 'smallness.'"

"Jesus took a little child into his arms and said, in effect, 'Here's your ministry.  Give yourselves to those who can bring you no status or clout.  Just help people.  You need this little child.  You need to help this little child, not just for her sake, but for your sake.  For if you don't, your whole life will be thrown away on an idiotic contest to see who is greatest.  But if you serve her - often and well and cheerfully and out of the limelight - then the day may come when you do it without thinking, 'what a wonderful thing I've done.'  Then you will begin serving naturally, effortlessly, for the joy of it.  Then you will begin to understand how life in the kingdom works."
--John Ortberg, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

What a picture!  Start with a child.  Serve that child often, well, cheerfully, and out of the limelight.  Just help people.

I love it.

Who is one person you could start serving today?  One person that you could. just. help.

Friday, June 18, 2010

No Recognition

"In the discipline of service we learn to see who we are really serving: ourselves or others.  This discipline helps us uncover ungodly attitudes in our acts of service, such as a need to get recognition for what we do or a willingness to serve only if it's a big, glamorous event...

"In this discipline we can let go of needing a thank-you note or our name in the bulletin for things we do for others."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

Many years ago, I was working with another youth group and we spent an entire summer focusing on Random Acts of Kindnesses.  We did all kinds of things for people without them knowing it - strangers, friends, families, each other - anyone we could think of.

We had a lot of fun coming up with ideas, and a ton of fun being sneaky about making them happen...

But we also had the let-down of not seeing the reactions, getting thank-yous, or hearing the stories of what people felt when they received their act of kindness...  It was a hard lesson in being a servant, without expecting a reward for our actions.

But it was totally worth it!  Eventually we did hear stories of people doing Random Acts of Kindness for other people - the ripple effect was happening...  Our community was benefitting from the time and energy our kids had put into serving others - and now the others were finding ways to serve MORE people! 

It was a new kind of feeling for many of us.  We were happy to see the joy spreading.  Proud to watch other people take ownership of their actions.  Excited to keep finding new ways to serve!  And all of it in the name of the love and grace of God.  Pretty amazing stuff when we can take ourself out of the equation and focus only on doing good in God's name!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


"True service builds community. It quietly and unpretentiously goes about caring for the needs of others. It draws, binds, heals, and builds...

"At first thought it would seem that hidden service is only for the sake of the person served. Such is not the case. Hidden, anonymous ministries affect even people who know nothing of them. They sense a deeper love and compassion among people though they cannot account for the feeling. If a secret service is done on their behalf, they are inspired to deeper devotion, for they know that the well of service is far deeper than they can see. It is a ministry that can be engaged in frequently by all people. It sends small ripples of joy and celebration through any community of people."
--Richard Foster, "Celebration of Discipline"

What would happen if we became better at serving each other - even within the church?  It "draws, binds, heals, and builds..."

Even as a church, we are all human.  We see differences, disagreements, annoyances...  What if we tried to serve one another more - especially using yesterday's ideas about relationships?  Can you imagine the strength of a church that puts differences aside and truly seeks to serve each other AND the community and world?!

Read the book of Acts.  The early church was all about working together, pooling their resources, caring for each other, sharing, loving, etc.  And I'm pretty sure all wasn't perfect.  It never is in any group of people...  But what a goal to strive for!

What's one way you could serve someone from your church community this week?  Maybe someone you are different from... someone you've had disagreements with...  someone you just don't know well yet...  What is one way you can begin the process of "drawing, binding, healing, and building" in your church this week?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


"True service... can listen with tenderness and patience before acting.  It can serve by waiting in silence....

"There is a discipline in holding one's tongue that works wonders within us...

"Guarding the reputation of others is a deep and lasting service...

"There is a service in common courtesy ...  It is one of the few ways left in modern society to acknowledge the value of another... to acknowledge others and affirm their worth.  The service of courtesy is sorely needed in our increasingly computerized and depersonalized society...

"There is a service of listening...  The most important requirements are compassion and patience...

"To listen to others quiets and disciplines the mind to listen to God.  It creates an inward working upon the heart that transforms the affections, even the priorities, of life.  When we have grown dull in listening to God, we would all do well to listen to others in silence and see if we do not hear God through them...

"There is the service of bearing the burdens of another...  Love is most perfectly fulfilled when we bear the hurts and sufferings of each other, weeping with those who weep."
--Richard Foster, "Celebration of Discipline"

How can you serve better in your relationships this week?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Against the Grain

"Service enables us to say 'no!' to the world's games of promotion and authority."

"True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need...  True service is a life-style.  It acts from ingrained patterns of living.  It springs spontaneously to meet human need."

"More than any other single way, the grace of humility is worked into our lives through the Discipline of Service."
--Richard Foster, "Celebration of Discipline"

It's not the way the world works today, is it?  Serve your neighbor - whoever that may be?  Don't take credit.  Don't boast.  Don't look for payment or payback.  Don't expect only good things to happen to you in return.  Don't look for everyone's approval at the good thing you just did.

The way God calls us to service goes against everything our society stands for, doesn't it?

I love that quote about learning the "grace of humility" through service.  Humility is something we think of as bad in today's modern world.  Everyone should be assertive.  Powerful.  Indepedent.  Blah blah blah.

God says to serve.  Be humble in what we have - for it was given to us.  We were blessed with the grace and love of God.  Do we really need more than that?  Or should we be happy to simply spread that love and grace around? 

Take notice this week...  Are you able to stay humble?  To just say "you're welcome" when a gift of service is noticed  - and even better, to do the service in a way that the recipient doesn't even know it was you?  Or are you looking for credit and approval?

This is a hard one.  We're programmed one way - and God is calling us to be the other.  This week, try to follow God's calling to your heart, and leave the world's earthly values behind...

Monday, June 14, 2010


"So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other's feet.  I've laid down a pattern for you.  What I've done, you do.  I'm only pointing out the obvious.  A servant is not ranked above his master, an employee doesn't give orders to the employer.  If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it - and live a blessed life."
--John 13:13-17 (from The Message)

"Jesus took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness."
--Richard Foster, "Celebration of Discipline"

When we think of "doing service" sometimes we get caught in the thinking that our service has to be a large gesture.  Something that everyone can see we're doing.  Something that takes huge sacrifice - so we're aware that we're doing it.

But Jesus simply grabbed a towel and basin and knelt on the floor to wash his disciples feet after a long, dusty day of walking...  A simple, small gesture.  A wonderful example.

"True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service.  Where a difference is noted, the true servant is often drawn to the small service, not out of false modesty, but because he genuinely sees it as the more important task.  He indiscriminately welcomes all opportunities to serve."

Keep your eyes and ears open today!  Maybe you'll find some simple, small ways to share the love of God...  and be blessed yourself in the action of doing it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Anybody and Everybody

"Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.  You don't have to have a college degree to serve.  You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love."
--Martin Luther King, Jr

A heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.  It is enough to make a truly great difference in someone's life.

Who has been that heart of grace and soul of love for you?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


"God's trajectory is to bless the earth through his people.  And to show them exactly what he has in mind, he comes to earth as one who serves (Luke 22:27).  Jesus is God with us.  And he calls us to serve (Matthew 22:37-39)..."

"...The Christian Discipline of service is the way the world discovers the love of God.  We are the way God blesses the earth..."

"...God intends to bless the nations through us and our lives of service.  Christians are the very presence of God to others.  We become God's vehicle of blessings on planet earth."
--Adele Calhoun, "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook"

So what are you waiting for?  Get busy!

If we are the only blessing someone might perceive as the presence of God...  Doesn't that give us a reason to share God's love with everyone we meet? 

When I think of how my life has become richer, fuller, and more beautiful with God's constant presence - I want to share that.  And maybe...  just maybe...  the simplest acts will convince another person that there is some good in the world, and encourage them to look further and deeper for where that good comes from...

Open the door for someone - with a smile.
Offer to pray for someone.
Buy someone a meal.
Help carry groceries.

It's a blessing.  An open door into the workings of God in the world.  A picture of the kingdom here and now - of serving one another...

Something small.  We can do this.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


"Love your neighbors as yourself."

Do you love yourself? Really love yourself?

I sometimes wonder if I truly love myself...  If I did, wouldn't I eat better?  Exercise more?  Find quiet time more frequently to rest my body, mind, and spirit?  Wouldn't I think nice thoughts about myself - instead of constantly doubting and putting myself down?

If that's the way I "love" myself...  No wonder I'm not the best at serving and loving others!

Assignment for today:
Stand in front of a mirror.  Find the things you truly do love about yourself.  Say them out loud. Write them down.  Whatever you have to do to make yourself heard.  Do this everyday for awhile...  As the negative thoughts try to sneak back in - fight them off with love and forgiveness and grace - for yourself.  Pray for God's help in this process of learning to love yourself - learning to love the person that God made - and already does love.

The sooner we can really accept and love ourselves, the sooner we can be more loving to those around us!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


"Service is a way of offering resources, time, treasure, influence, and expertise for the care, protection, justice, and nurture of others.  Acts of service give hands to the second greatest commandment: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
--Adele Calhoun, "Spiritual Disciplines Handbook"

What's that story in the Bible about "who is your neighbor?"  Hmmm...  Oh yeah.  The Good Samaritan.

That story tells us that everyone is our neighbor, right?  Not just those who physically live next door or on the same street.  Not just those who go to our church.  Not just those who look like us, dress like us, think like us...  But everyone.

Wow, that's hard to wrap your head around, isn't it?  We are to love the sick, the mean, the lonely, the oppressed, the dirty, the uneducated... the sinners...  just as we love ourselves.  Whoa.

Kind of takes away the "I'm better than you" attitude, doesn't it?  Or it should, anyway...  But do we really change our way of thinking to include everyone as our neighbor?  Everyone - as people who deserve love and grace?  Everyone - who deserve my love, and my service?

Something to think about.  Go through your day and notice how many times you pass judgement on other people...  Catch yourself.  Then, say a prayer for yourself (to be more open-minded and open-hearted, and then for the ther person).  Why do you automatically feel you're better than the other person?  What would God say to that?

I'll be working on this for awhile...  I hope you'll join me in the challenge!

Monday, June 7, 2010


"God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another...  I have a part in a great work; I am a link in a chain; a bond of connection between persons.  He has not created me for naught.  I shall love as Christ loved, I shall do his work."
--John Henry Newman

God created each of us with specific gifts, personality types, talents, and goals...  Created us to take part in the bigger picture of a world filled with grace and love.  A world where the kingdom is here and now.

Me.  You.  We are a part of this picture - but we must choose to engage and act out our faith.  One of the ways we do that is by following Jesus' lead and taking on a servant heart.

Make a choice to be that link and that bond between people.  What can you do today to love as we are taught to love?

Friday, June 4, 2010


"True service springs from a heart of compassion and humility, a heart like Jesus'.  Jesus did not direct his compassion only to individuals caught up in tragic circumstances beyond their control.  If we are seeking to be his disciples, we will be open to serving anyone who has a need - even those we think have created their own personal crises."
--Valerie Hess, "Habits of a Child's Heart"

Wow.  I felt that one right at the gut level - did you?

If we are truely seeking to be like Jesus - we would help ANYone...  Not just who we think is worthy of our time and effort...  But anyone in need.

How many times have you heard conversations about situations in the news, and people just say, "well that's their own fault."  They moved to that neighborhood.  They went for a walk late at night on their own.  They chose to live in the flood zone.  Blah blah blah.

Ok.  So what if someone did make a poor decision - or just a decision different than we would've made?  Does that mean they don't deserve help when they need it?

This is a time when the phrase "What Would Jesus Do?" could make a real impact and change our own reactions...

Service = having a heart like Jesus.

Something to think about the next time we find ourselves judging another's situation....

Thursday, June 3, 2010


"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.
Do not say to your neighbor, 'Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it' - when you have it with you."
--Proverbs 3:27-28

"We have all hurried by a friend or a stranger in need, telling ourselves that we would help if only we had more time, more money, more courage.  'Next time,' we say to ourselves, knowing full well that there might not be an opportunity tomorrow..."
--Richard Foster, "A Year with God"

How many times have you listened to someone's troubles, witnessed someone's pain or frustration, and thought to yourself, "it's not my place to help...  it's not my talent that will help...  I don't have time right now, someone else will help..."

I do it all the time.  Unfortunately. 

If we were all to think those thoughts all the time...  Some people would never get the kind word, helping hand, or moment they need.

So as you go through your day today - as those negative thoughts pop into your head as you see someone in need.  Take a moment.  Stop.  And serve.

Maybe you don't have the money that could solve a person's dilemma - but you could listen.  Maybe you don't have the time to make everything all right - but you know of someone who could help.  Maybe you don't know the answer - but you could give a hug.

Start small.  Ask God for help.  Listen.  Then, act.

God will be there in the moment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


"Many of us view service as an occasional commitment that comprises a small part of our day or week or month, but [in Colossians 3:22-24] Paul tells us to view every task as service not only to those around us, but to the Lord...

"This week try to put Paul's words into action.  Put yourself wholeheartedly into every task...  Whenever possible, look for additional ways to serve or to lighten another's burden.  If you can perform your service without notice, all the better."
--Richard Foster, "A Year With God"

If we were to look at every task as a form of service...  we would be serving all day long?!  What have you done today - as an ordinary part of your day - that you can now see with new eyes as a form of "service"?

Praying.  Loaning a pencil to a friend.  Giving a hug.  Opening a door.  Smiling at a stranger.  Listening.  Asking about someone's day.  Offering a hand.  Picking up a piece of trash.  Being positive.

Just a few I've done today... that I wouldn't have thought of as "service" until now...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


After spending the month of May talking about the Spiritual Habit of Guidance… I ask you… Are you feeling guided? Are you taking the time to listen and notice where God is leading you in your day to day life? Is the Guidance of the Holy Spirit inviting you to look at the world around you in new ways? Inviting you to get involved in God’s world in ways that share the love of God with others?

As we move into the month of June, we are moving into a month of Service. A month of looking outside of ourselves and embracing the commandment to “love others as yourself.” A month of truly seeing the needs of the world around us, and doing something about it.

“The Christian Discipline of service is the way the world discovers the love of God. We are the way God blesses the earth.”

“We will never really serve others unless we see that the needs of our neighbors are as real and important as our own… Service is rooted in seeing—in seeing others as God does.”

“True service ministers simply and faithfully because there is a need… True service is a life-style. It acts from ingrained patterns of living. It springs spontaneously to meet human need.”

“More than any other single way, the grace of humility is worked into our lives through the Discipline of Service.”

“When Jesus said the last shall be first, and the least shall be great, and the slave the greatest of all, he wasn’t giving orders. He was simply describing the truth about God’s kind of community and how different it looks from the way things generally work in our world.”

Be ready to jump in and find new ways to serve! Be ready to tell us about the wonderful ways you DO serve! Be ready to share what serving has changed in you… Be ready to discover the Holy Spirit moving through each one of us and this community!

We Serve because we are Thankful; We Serve because God calls us to be Generous;
We Serve God and others in the Simplicity of daily life; We Serve God in Worship;
We Serve through Prayer and Fasting for the hurts of the world;
We Serve God when we Celebrate the lives of others; and We Serve God and others when we allow ourselves to be humbled and Guided by the Holy Spirit into a life of Service.