Fostering the Sultan of Swat

Babe_RuthI was an avid baseball fan as a kid.  I remember when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and my mom would leave my brothers and I in the public library while she ran errands.  I remember those times as formative years, where I would learn much of what I knew about the great baseball players in history.  I would immediately go to the section where I knew the baseball history books were.

That is where I learned about Babe Ruth.

Babe Ruth was a foster kid.  He was placed in foster care at age 7.  While in foster care, he learned to play baseball, and of course we know what happened next.  He grew up to be a legend, one of the greatest baseball players ever, hitting over 700 home runs and going down as the greatest Yankee.  Many will remember that Yankee stadium was called the house that Ruth built.

What is interesting is that in most books that tell his story, very little is told about those years.  What most books say was simply that he was a rough kid, and lived in a reformatory.  But I do wonder what allowed George Herman Ruth to survive those times, and what allowed him to succeed in life where others did not.  It seems to me that the Babe was able to succeed because of baseball.  I mean, he was able to find something he was good at, that lifted him out of his situation.  I suspect that those around him in his care recognized his potential, and encouraged it.  How different would his life had been if he had not had that encouragement, or if he had been placed in a reformatory where baseball was not played.

I guess my point is how fragile we really are as humans.  No matter how much talent we have buried deep inside of us, we just cannot do it alone.  We can all look back into our childhood and remember that one person, one event, one season in our lives where our abilities were brought out of us.  How different would our lives be if that didn’t happen, of if for some reason, we failed to take the opportunity when it was presented.

I see foster parents today as fulfilling that role.  We are the spark that can either ignite a child, or extinguish them.  It is a big responsibility that God has placed on us.  Don’t get me wrong.  A Babe Ruth may only come around once in a lifetime.  But maybe we have the next president, or singer, policemen or fireman in our home.  Whatever this child may become, it is us that can make the difference in their lives.

I pray that God gives us the time, strength, and wisdom to pour out His love and His plan for the life of this little child.

I also pray for those souls who don’t have someone in their lives to fulfill this role.  May His love and guidance bring them out of their present situation.

Play ball!

 

Are you doing what you wanted to do when you grew up?

Baseball_kidToday I have been thinking about what people’s lives are compared to what they wanted it to be as children.

When we are kids, we are always asked that question.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  If you listen to children, you will usually hear things like cowboy, astronaut, doctor, sports athlete, or fireman.  Those are all wonderful career choices.  As children grow, however, those choices change.  Our likes and dislikes, as well as our aptitude in different skills dictate what we eventually do when we grow.  Even more than that, are the life circumstances during our early years that often decide what we eventually choose to do with our lives.

 

But the most important decision maker in my mind is God’s plan for our life, combined with our free will to choose or not choose that plan.

I started out wanting to be a professional baseball player.  I was an avid fan as a child.  I couldn’t wait to get home from school so I could grab my glove and ball and go outside to play.  I knew all of the stats for my favorite players.  Being a Yankee fan, I knew every player on the team, the lineup, pitching rotation, and pretty much everything else that mattered about the team.  I just knew that eventually, I would be a Yankee too.

But life changed.

As I grew older, I realized that my skill level just wasn’t there.  Sure I could keep up with my team members in the league I played in.  And I was generally better than the average neighborhood kid.  But once I got to high school, I realized that my dreams of playing in the big leagues was just that – a dream.

So my interests changed.  They changed several times.  Eventually I ended up in my current career.  It is a career I absolutely love.  I am one of those people that love what they do.  I enjoy working.  And I believe it was God’s plan that I end up doing what I do.  I believe that throughout my life, he was shaping me, molding me, and making me into the man I am today.

But what about those people in the world that have fallen?

What about my little one’s mom?  I cannot imagine that when she was young, she wanted to grow up and have her children turned over to the state.  I am sure that as an innocent child, she wanted for herself a wonderful life, a wonderful upbringing, a wonderful career.  I am also convinced that God also wanted that for her.  I am even more convinced that God’s love has not changed, and that He continues to want that for her.

So today I wonder if it is God’s plan all along for some to fall?  Did God want my little one to be taken from her mom all along? No I don’t believe so.  I believe God want us to bear children, then protect them and keep them safe, raising them to honor Him.  I think it is our free will and the human race’s fall from grace that causes us to do things that do not honor Him.  We live in a fallen world, a world that contain great good, and also great evil. Because of the grace of God, my wife and I went one way, and my little one’s bio family another.

As our little one grows into a woman, I pray that her dream about what she wants to do when she grows up, combined with her free will, and God’s plan for her life, results in a positive and enriching life that honors God always.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

What are you doing now?

God will prevail in the face of adversity

notbemovedWe received a call this morning, one we were not happy about.  While I cannot reveal the detail, suffice it to say that God is throwing us a curve ball in our foster care journey.

Is it a test?  Is God trying to strengthen us for this challenge?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that our resolve has not been shaken.  Our little one has us in her corner, and the love of Jesus flowing through us to her has no end.

So I am confident He will prevail.

Today, we will lean on scripture

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. Peter 4:12-13

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

 

My prayer for today…

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

–Romans 5:1-5

Easier said than done.

Rejoice in suffering?

Really?

Sorry God, I am not there yet. I cannot rejoice. Yes I have lived that passage. I have seen suffering produce endurance. I have seen suffering bring out character. With that suffering – I always had hope, and I have seen God’s love persevere.

But I cannot rejoice. I am weak. I cannot understand why we suffer in this life. All I know is that this suffering has to be for a reason.

And yes, I hope, and I surrender. I give you the power, and my hope lies in you.

“So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
–Proverbs 3:4-5

Please God, I don’t need to understand.

I just need my prayers answered.

We Need to Pray for People Like This….

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/08/17/nypd-seeks-pack-of-thugs-who-beat-rob-fordham-heights-man-of-his-bible/

The link above is to a story of a senseless crime. Of course, we are all de-sensitized to this type of crime in America. It happens every day – an innocent older man, beaten by 3 thugs for his cash, cellphone, and his bible.

What?

Yes I said that right. They stole his Bible.

We should pray today that these youths actually open that Bible and read it.

Maybe, just maybe, that Bible will be put to good use.

Praying for Norway

“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.    “
–Eziekel 18:20

What prompted a Norwegian     man to kill 93 people?  What caused him to believe that the right course of action was to place a bomb in Oslo, then go to a youth camp and slaughter children?  What kind of world do we live in that contains animals like these?  It is really hard to understand.

I don’t know the reason.

We are now seeing plenty of experts in the headlines with possible answers.  Maybe it was caused by politicians and leaders sparking hatred amongst extremists.  Maybe it was because he had a difficult childhood.  Maybe it was a particular traumatic event that led him to commit this horrible act.  Maybe he is clinically insane and was off his medication.  I suppose there could be many reasons.

Maybe – he is just evil.

I think sometimes we try to make sense out our fallen world.  We try to find the magic pill or cure that will prevent mad men from committing crimes. If we just medicate them correctly, or if we just fix the issues in society that led them astray.  Why is it that we just can’t come to grips with the fact that there is such a thing as evil in this world?  Why can’t we just understand that there are people in this world that don’t want to be good people?

Don’t get me wrong.  I completely agree that medication and finding resolutions to societal issues that cause crime are worthy endeavors, especially since I know that through God – all is possible.  But evil people have existed since this world began.  As much as we try, they will always be among us.  Since the day Adam fell in the garden of Eden, evil has existed, and until our Messiah returns, life in this fallen world will be a struggle.  Some will unfortunately choose evil rather than good.  Some will fall.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
–Matthew 6:13

I truly believe that the farther we stray from God, the easier it is for us to be tempted, and the closer we come to evil.  It can happen to any of us. While most of us would never commit a crime as a result, we are all susceptible to it.  We are all imperfect, and such can be tempted to act in a way that does not honor God.

So how should we react to this horrible act?

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
–Romans 12:21

The Bible will always hold the key.  I believe it is very clear how we should react.  We can overcome evil only with good.  We cannot do it through revenge, since that right belongs to God.  It is not through anger, as that will simply tempt us to stray from God.  It is only through our adherence to the Bible, and God’s word that we can overcome such a horrific crime. Hey, I know it isn’t easy, but Jesus never told us that following Him would be easy.

Today, we pray for Norway.

We pray for the children and all who lost their lives.

We pray for those that have survived and are finding a way to make sense of the senseless.

We pray for ourselves, that we continue to follow our Savior, and that evil is overcome in the arms of Jesus.

Your Help is Needed, America

“Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
–Proverbs 31:9

America is still the richest country in the world.  We can be thankful to God that He has blessed us with a country where most people have a place to live and food on their table.  Even during a recession, with an uncertain future, we are not doing nearly as bad as other countries.

In fact, according to an article from ABC News:

  • In 2005, the American government gave about 28 billion in foreign aid.
  • In the same year, private Americans gave about 33 billion to other countries.
  • Immigrants send about 62 billion to their families in other countries.
  • A few years ago, the American government pledged 900 million in Tsunami aid, while the American public gave 2 billion for the cause.

That is awesome, and no country comes close to us in giving to other countries.  The fact is that America is simply a generous country.  We can be very proud of that fact, except for one thing.

People are still suffering.

With all of the money that we send to other countries to help, there are still children in other countries who go to bed hungry, who don’t have the proper clothing, who are not getting the education they need.  The fact is that with all of the money we send, it simply is not enough.

It is easy for us to look at the statistics and say “we have done enough”.  But that is not what the Bible tells us to do as Christians.

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.”
–Leviticus 25:35

Throughout the Bible, they are many examples of how we are to treat the poor.  The fact is that Jesus gave a commandment to love our neighbors as we love our God.  As such, it is our responsibility to not turn a blind eye to the poor and needy in this world.

Here are some of the statistics from Compassion International:

  • Children under age 18 make up nearly 48 percent of the population of the world’s least developed countries, compared with 21 percent of the population of the world’s industrialized nations.
  • More than 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity and modern forms of energy.
  • Over 1.4 billion people in the developing world live below the poverty line (U.S.$1.25 per day).
  • More than 9 million children under age 5 die each year. Two-thirds of these deaths — more than 6 million every year — are preventable.

The bottom line is that our help is still needed.  It does not matter that we already provide so much help.  As Christians, we are called by our Savior to provide help for our neighbors, and it is obvious that more is needed.

How many times do you go to a restaurant and spend at least $40 or more?  Do you know that $38 a month will feed, clothe and educate a poor child for a month?  Do you know how many children have been saved from poverty by Compassion International in countries like Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and others?  They are currently helping 1.2 million children, yet so many are still not being helped.  It is Americans like ourselves that can mean everything to one of these children.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are not just sending money to an charity.  The money you send is going directly to help a specific child.  Your contribution will clothe that child, it will feed that child, and it will educate that child.  They will teach the child about God.  You will have the opportunity to write the child and influence their life directly.  You can even visit the child if you choose.  You will have the opportunity to pull that child out of poverty, and give them a chance they would never have had otherwise.

Will you make a commitment today?

Click here to sponsor a child.