Random thoughts on Life, Leadership, & Messy Spirituality

Posts tagged “suffering

Christmas Conspiracy – Part 2


Be sure to watch the above video & if you missed “Christmas Conspiracy – Pt. 1” go back & read it first – so that you’ll get this part 2 in context.

Listen – if we as Christians don’t step up and address these issues – people starving – parents burying their kids – kids being orphaned by diseases all over the planet… I think years from now people will look back at the 21st century Christian church and ask – “What were they thinking?” “How could they not do something?” It’s like the way we look back at the church – who for 300 years read their Bibles – and kept their black brothers & sisters in slavery. Tell me how that works? How do you justify that? The problem is that we don’t have enough people who will take action!

I had a conversation a couple of Christmas’ ago with a pastor friend. We were kind of making fun of the people who boycott stores that do not say “Merry Christmas” – during the month of December. I don’t think I’ll ever forget – my friend said – “I want to boycott those stores that invoke the name of my Savior – in the name of the almighty dollar. I had another conversation with my daughter Brianna – who asked me – “Daddy, why is it Jesus’ birthday and everybody buys all kinds of gifts for everybody else – but Jesus doesn’t get anything?” She said – “If it was my birthday – and everybody except me got gifts except me I’d be pretty upset.”

Then I did a little research and found that the average family in America spends $1600 buying Christmas gifts – that’s just the average… Some spend a lot more – & too many go into debt pulling off Christmas. We spend a ridiculous amount of money on gifts for everyone we know – on video games, iPads, clothes, and all kinds of stuff that our kids can’t begin to be grateful for or appreciate. Question – does this in any way sound like a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – of God’s love coming to earth in flesh? To me – it is more of one giant orgy of materialism – and it’s sickening!

I am challenging all of us – and everyone who will listen – to drastically cut back on Christmas gifts this year! I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath ——-  But guess what? Christmas is not my birthday – & I don’t need anything! It’s not your birthday – and you really don’t need anything! Now, I know this is a hard pill, especially for our teens and kids, to swallow – but compared to 99% of the other kids in the world – our’s live like stinkin’ royalty! 99% of the kids in the world would trade places with them in a heartbeat!

So, in our family we’re calculating the maximum amount we can afford to spend on Christmas, without going into debt – which isn’t a whole lot on a pastor’s salary, paying off adoptions, etc… We’re cutting that in 1/2 and using 1/2 to buy gifts &  taking the other 1/2 and giving it to Jesus for His birthday. Now, how do you give the Jesus – who is not here in the flesh? You could give to His work – the local church! And we should definitely be doing that. But Jesus also said that when you do this for the least of these – people who are suffering – starving – dying from diseases – you are doing it for Me. It’s easy to get overwhelmed – when you look at the incredible needs all over the globe – and think what could I do about all of that? Well, you can’t fix it all – but we can each do our part. We could come together and address a small portion of it.

During the month of December we’re doing a “Serve the World: Christmas Offering“. This offering will help fund our church’s local & global mission work  for 2014. Please help us provide for Children’s homes, Homeless shelters & struggling families locally, as well as, provide food, schooling, immunizations, medical care & the love of Jesus Christ in parts of the world where the average family lives on less than $2 a day. This offering will also  fund the local mission work, community service days (Faith in Actions), & benevolence assisting struggling families with financial needs & counseling.

We’re encouraging people to go above and beyond their normal, ongoing support of all the ministries & mission work we do here at Eagle Pointe Church – & give to support our Serve the World: Christmas Offering. Please pray about it & see what God leads you & your family to do. In addition to giving on Sunday mornings at Eagle Pointe – you can also give generously towards this effort by GIVING ONLINE.


Faith In Action – Heart & Attitude

EPC - Faith In Action Sunday - Web

I want to briefly share a few things regarding the heart & attitude we all need to have when it comes to Faith in Action Sunday – or anytime we’re helping & serving our community & world in Jesus’ name. The reality is that this should be a lifestyle for all of us, not just a couple times a year kind of deal.

1) It’s not about me! I think most Eagle Pointe’rs get this idea. (This one of the many things I love about our church family). It’s not about my goals, my agenda, my feeling good, what I want, how I like & want things to be… It’s not about people seeing how wonderful & spiritual I am. It’s not about me! It is ALL about Jesus & those we are serving in His name!

2) Meeting physical needs opens the door to meeting spiritual needs. This is the model Jesus gave us & this is the model we follow with all of our local & global mission work. Jesus met real, practical, tangible needs & then had the opportunity to address their true #1 need. He healed the sick, made the lame walk, etc & THEN shared with them about the Kingdom of Heaven. He knew what he was doing! So long as people are starving, homeless, their kids are sick & dying, etc – they do not care about their spiritual needs. Meet those physical needs & then you have a platform to address the spiritual needs. As I often say, people do not care how much I know – until they first know how much I care.

3) Some things will NOT go as planned. Sorry – but that’s just the reality of mobilizing a few hundred volunteers & having them working at 6 different locations on the same day. As much as we plan, organize & strategize – some balls will get dropped, some details will be missed, some problems will arise & some things will not go exactly as we had thought & hoped for. So, WHEN that happens – just roll with it & help us make the best of it. Jump in, take some initiative & help your project coordinator quickly solve & move forward past the problem. BTW: That’s what leaders do – they don’t complain about problems – they solve them! Again, It’s not about me!

4) We “serve the world” in order to point people to Jesus. This is the bottom line. This is what it ALL boils down to. My challenge to you is that AFTER you have served & helped – AFTER you have shown that you truly care – do not be afraid to share with those people why you are doing this… “I love Jesus, Jesus says we are to love & help one another, & we are here demonstrating the love He has for you.” Ask people if you can pray for them. Let God work in their heart & give you an opportunity to point them toward Jesus.

5) Invite your friends to join you. This Faith in Action Sunday is a HUGE God-sized opportunity for you to invite your friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc to join you. Listen – even those who could give a rip about Jesus or church – like the idea of helping kids, single moms, homeless, etc. The idea of community service resonates with them – that’s the way God wired all of us up. Joining you this Saturday will give them the opportunity to meet & work alongside other Eagle Pointe’rs & see that these “church people” aren’t that weird. (At least we’re weird in a good way – right?) This may be the very thing God uses to bring down their defensive wall enough that they would be willing to give church a try. So, get busy inviting people to join you for Faith in Action!

6) Our generosity involves more than just our time & effort. Since we will not have church services – we will not have offerings on Sunday. However, we will still have bills to pay for facilities, ministries, etc. Help us make up for that & please consider making an above & beyond gift to help us cover all of the materials & supplies that will be needed at all of our different work locations!  I also encourage you to take advantage of our Online Giving.

I am SO pumped & cannot stinkin’ wait for this Faith in Action Day! God is going to use all of us to make a difference in our community. God is going to change lives – the lives of those that we serve as well as our own lives.

I’ll be making the rounds to all of our location & I hope to see you out there next Saturday.

CLICK HERE for all the details, locations, directions, etc for all of our Faith In Action Sunday locations.

Haiti Mission Trip – Last Items Needed

EPC - Haiti Mission - Howard FB

We have a team heading back to Port-au-Prince/Carrefour, Haiti June 8-15. We will run a free clinic for the week seeing 300+ families a day. We will also be providing medical care at 2 orphanages & 2 tent cities that we work with. In addition, we will be building & painting homes around the local community. And we need your help to pull this off!

Below is a list of the last bit of supplies needed for our Haiti mission trip. PLEASE help us round up these supplies & donations. We need supplies dropped off at Eagle Pointe by Monday June 3rd – so we can pack everything up & have it ready to go. You can also donate online HERE  (be sure to select “Serve The World”)  or email me.

General Items:

  • Tooth brushes
  • Tooth paste
  • Candy to giveaway to children (lg bags of smaller pieces)
  • Battery powered fans
  • AA & 9V batteries

Medical Items: (We need LOTS of these medical supplies) 

  • Anti-fungal medicine (Lotrimin or other otc athletes foot meds)
  • Permethrin cream 5%
  • Benadryl  (tabs & children’s liquid)
  • Ibuprofen (adult and children’s liquid)
  • 1 % hydrocortisone cream or other prescription steroid cream
  • Antibiotics by prescription  (Amoxicillin, Keflex, Bactrim, Ciprofloxacin, Augmentin, etc)
  • Antibiotic eye drops – by prescription
  • Visine and Visine allergy
  • Albuterol inhaler by prescription

Please help us make a difference in the lives of so many struggling people & families in Haiti & show them the real, practical, & tangible love of Jesus!

Faith in Action Sunday is Coming!

EPC - Faith In Action Sunday - Web

On Father’s Day – Sunday June 16th we’re canceling all of our weekend worship services and sending our entire church out into our community to help and serve those in need.  Basic premise – “Don’t just go to church – BE the church!

I cannot wait for this day when we have a few hundred people working at a children’s home near red top mountain, doing mini-home improvement makeovers for single moms in our area, working at a Children’s Home, a Women’s Center, & more.  We will also have some amazing people staying behind at the church to provide childcare for babies and toddlers from 8:15AM – 12PM.

We will mobilize a small army to head out into our community to serve in real, practical, & tangible ways. This is the model Jesus gave us – meet people’s physical needs & then the door is thrown wide open to begin meeting their spiritual needs. What a great way to demonstrate what Jesus is ALL about – by GOING, DOING, & BEING what Jesus has commanded us to.

In, addition to YOU joining us for Faith in Action Sunday – I hope that you will invite your friends, neighbors, & co-workers to come join you. Get them involved in helping others & making a difference in our community. A church doing this kind of thing does not compute for most people & blows them away. Who knows? Maybe this is the kind of thing that will resonate with those you know who are disconnected from God & His church. Maybe this will “change the way THEY think about church” & help them get connected. Give it a try!

You can sign up for a location each Sunday right outside the cafe at our Faith In Action Sign-Up Area. We will also have new Faith In Action shirts available for $5/each. You need to let us know the qty’s & sizes you want when you sign up.

Below is a list of our Faith in Action locations, as well as, a link you can click for a “project info sheet” for each location. These sheets explain the work being done, what you can bring, directions of where to go, etc. Please be sure to get the info for your location. (***After you have signed up – if you have not heard from a Project Coordinator  – we may have read your email address wrong on the sign up sheet. Please email them a.s.a.p.  Each project leaders email is listed on the info sheets below…

We ask that you arrive at your location no later than 8:45AM (you won’t hurt our feelings if you’re early). At 8:45AM each location will have a group meeting & prayer time before starting to work.

Flowering Branch Children’s Home – FIA – Location Info – Flowering Branch

The Women’s Extension – FIA – Location Info – Extension

Heroes 4 Heroes (Lunches for local Police & Firefighters) – FIA – Location Info – Heroes 4 Heroes

Single Widowed Mom/House Angels – FIA – Location Info – House Angels

Playground Construction at Eagle Pointe – FIA – Location Info – Eagle Pointe Playgrounds

Childcare @ Eagle Pointe – FIA – Location Info – Childcare

***AGAIN: We will offer childcare for Babies through Kindergarten children starting at 8:15AM that day – & all children must be picked up by 12:00PM.

Also, below is a video to give you an idea of what will be doing on Father’s Day!

I look forward to seeing all of you at Faith In Action Day – it is going to be an amazing day of God working in so many lives!

BTW: We do this twice a year & the next one will be at Thanksgiving time.

Thinking the Unthinkable

I’m sharing this on my blog today because I believe this is a long overdue discussion that our country needs to have. It’s time to push aside all of the philosophical & political rhetoric and find a way to help these families & children. Please take the time to read & absorb every word of this mother’s cry for help!

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Michael holding a butterfly

In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me.

A few weeks ago, Michael pulled a knife and threatened to kill me and then himself after I asked him to return his overdue library books. His 7 and 9 year old siblings knew the safety plan—they ran to the car and locked the doors before I even asked them to. I managed to get the knife from Michael, then methodically collected all the sharp objects in the house into a single Tupperware container that now travels with me. Through it all, he continued to scream insults at me and threaten to kill or hurt me.

That conflict ended with three burly police officers and a paramedic wrestling my son onto a gurney for an expensive ambulance ride to the local emergency room. The mental hospital didn’t have any beds that day, and Michael calmed down nicely in the ER, so they sent us home with a prescription for Zyprexa and a follow-up visit with a local pediatric psychiatrist.

We still don’t know what’s wrong with Michael. Autism spectrum, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant or Intermittent Explosive Disorder have all been tossed around at various meetings with probation officers and social workers and counselors and teachers and school administrators. He’s been on a slew of antipsychotic and mood altering pharmaceuticals, a Russian novel of behavioral plans. Nothing seems to work.

At the start of seventh grade, Michael was accepted to an accelerated program for highly gifted math and science students. His IQ is off the charts. When he’s in a good mood, he will gladly bend your ear on subjects ranging from Greek mythology to the differences between Einsteinian and Newtonian physics to Doctor Who. He’s in a good mood most of the time. But when he’s not, watch out. And it’s impossible to predict what will set him off.

Several weeks into his new junior high school, Michael began exhibiting increasingly odd and threatening behaviors at school. We decided to transfer him to the district’s most restrictive behavioral program, a contained school environment where children who can’t function in normal classrooms can access their right to free public babysitting from 7:30-1:50 Monday through Friday until they turn 18.

The morning of the pants incident, Michael continued to argue with me on the drive. He would occasionally apologize and seem remorseful. Right before we turned into his school parking lot, he said, “Look, Mom, I’m really sorry. Can I have video games back today?”

“No way,” I told him. “You cannot act the way you acted this morning and think you can get your electronic privileges back that quickly.”

His face turned cold, and his eyes were full of calculated rage. “Then I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “I’m going to jump out of this car right now and kill myself.”

That was it. After the knife incident, I told him that if he ever said those words again, I would take him straight to the mental hospital, no ifs, ands, or buts. I did not respond, except to pull the car into the opposite lane, turning left instead of right.

“Where are you taking me?” he said, suddenly worried. “Where are we going?”

“You know where we are going,” I replied.

“No! You can’t do that to me! You’re sending me to hell! You’re sending me straight to hell!”

I pulled up in front of the hospital, frantically waiving for one of the clinicians who happened to be standing outside. “Call the police,” I said. “Hurry.”\

Michael was in a full-blown fit by then, screaming and hitting. I hugged him close so he couldn’t escape from the car. He bit me several times and repeatedly jabbed his elbows into my rib cage. I’m still stronger than he is, but I won’t be for much longer.

The police came quickly and carried my son screaming and kicking into the bowels of the hospital. I started to shake, and tears filled my eyes as I filled out the paperwork—“Were there any difficulties with….at what age did your child….were there any problems with…has your child ever experienced…does your child have….”

At least we have health insurance now. I recently accepted a position with a local college, giving up my freelance career because when you have a kid like this, you need benefits. You’ll do anything for benefits. No individual insurance plan will cover this kind of thing.

For days, my son insisted that I was lying—that I made the whole thing up so that I could get rid of him. The first day, when I called to check up on him, he said, “I hate you. And I’m going to get my revenge as soon as I get out of here.”

By day three, he was my calm, sweet boy again, all apologies and promises to get better. I’ve heard those promises for years. I don’t believe them anymore.

On the intake form, under the question, “What are your expectations for treatment?” I wrote, “I need help.”

And I do. This problem is too big for me to handle on my own. Sometimes there are no good options. So you just pray for grace and trust that in hindsight, it will all make sense.

I am sharing this story because I am Adam Lanza’s mother. I am Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s mother. I am James Holmes’s mother. I am Jared Loughner’s mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho’s mother. And these boys—and their mothers—need help. In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map). Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

When I asked my son’s social worker about my options, he said that the only thing I could do was to get Michael charged with a crime. “If he’s back in the system, they’ll create a paper trail,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re ever going to get anything done. No one will pay attention to you unless you’ve got charges.”

I don’t believe my son belongs in jail. The chaotic environment exacerbates Michael’s sensitivity to sensory stimuli and doesn’t deal with the underlying pathology. But it seems like the United States is using prison as the solution of choice for mentally ill people. According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S. prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise—in fact, the rate of inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated population. (http://www.hrw.org/news/2006/09/05/us-number-mentally-ill-prisons-quadrupled)

With state-run treatment centers and hospitals shuttered, prison is now the last resort for the mentally ill—Rikers Island, the LA County Jail, and Cook County Jail in Illinois housed the nation’s largest treatment centers in 2011 (http://www.npr.org/2011/09/04/140167676/nations-jails-struggle-with-mentally-ill-prisoners)

No one wants to send a 13-year old genius who loves Harry Potter and his snuggle animal collection to jail. But our society, with its stigma on mental illness and its broken healthcare system, does not provide us with other options. Then another tortured soul shoots up a fast food restaurant. A mall. A kindergarten classroom. And we wring our hands and say, “Something must be done.”

I agree that something must be done. It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal.

God help me. God help Michael. God help us all.

This was first published online by the Blue Review.

Haiti Mission Trip – We Need Your Help

EPC - Haiti Mission - Needs

We will have a team heading back to Port-au-Prince/Carrefour, Haiti June 8-15. We will run a free clinic for the week seeing 300+ families a day. We will also be providing medical care at 2 orphanages & 2 tent cities that we work with. In addition, we will be building & painting homes around the local community. And we need your help to pull this off!

Below is a list of supplies needed for our Haiti mission trip. As well, there is also a list of the money for projects we need to fund-raise between now & then. PLEASE help us round up these supplies & donations. We need supplies dropped off at Eagle Pointe by Sunday May 26th – so we can pack everything up & have it ready to go.

If you are unable to bring items to Eagle Pointe – again, donations of money are definitely needed (we will be buying a lot of needed supplies in Haiti – easier than carrying it all & supports the local economy). You can donate online HERE  (be sure to select “Serve The World”)  or email me.

General Items:

  • Tooth brushes
  • Tooth paste
  • Small toys, dolls, etc to giveaway to children (LOTS of small items are easier to pack in suitcases & can cover more kids – ‘happy meal size’ is ideal)
  • Candy to giveaway to children (lg bags of smaller pieces)
  • Reading glasses (varying strengths)
  • 2 Laptop computers

Medical Items: (We need LOTS of these medical supplies) (Donations to help purchase these are greatly needed as well)

  • Anti-fungal medicine (Lotrimin or other otc athletes foot meds)
  • Permethrin 5%
  • Neosporin/polysporin
  • Benadryl  (tabs & children’s liquid)
  • Ibuprofen (adult and children’s liquid)
  • 1 % hydrocortisone cream or other prescription steroid cream
  • Antibiotics by prescription  (Amoxicillin, Keflex, Bactrim, Ciprofloxacin, Augmentin, etc)
  • Mebendazole by prescription
  • Antibiotic eye drops – by prescription
  • Visine and Visine allergy
  • Albuterol inhaler by prescription

Money – fundraised:

  • $3000 – for medical supplies (purchased in the U.S.)
  • $600 – local laborers to assist w/ construction projects
  • $2000 – food for feeding programs (local church & while we are there)

Please help us make a difference in the lives of so many struggling people & families in Haiti & show them the real, practical, & tangible love of Jesus!

BTW: If you are unfamiliar with our work in Haiti – here is a glimpse of just some of what all we do…

Haiti Mission Trip + Last Minute Supplies Needed

EPC - Haiti Mission - Howard FB

Our next Haiti Mission trip is coming up next Saturday. I & our team from Eagle Pointe church & a team from Mountain Lake church, will head back to Port Au Prince/Carrefour Feb. 16-23. Our team will be providing basic medical care in areas where there is none. We are also providing feeding programs, working with an orphanage, & building homes. ***See the video at bottom of this post to see some of the work we’re doing.

I will be posting updates, pictures & videos, all next week on my Facebook page & Twitter. I hope you will follow the work we are doing & be praying for us & the Haitian people we will be serving.

***NOTE: Below are some last minute items we need to round up right away to take to Haiti… (If you can help – please EMAIL ME immediately)

1) We need a good Electric Guitar for our church in Haiti.

2) We need lots of  small toys (happy meal size is ideal), small stuffed animals, & bags of candy (lg bags of smaller pieces) to hand out to kids at our medical clinic & orphanage. ***The Dollar Store is a great place to get these.

3) Misc. Medical items: ***The Dollar Store is a great place to get these.

  • Anti-fungal medicine (Lotrimin or other otc athletes foot meds)
  • Neosporin/polysporin
  • Benadryl  (tabs & children’s liquid)
  • Ibuprofen (adult and children’s liquid)
  • Acetaminophen (adult and children’s liquid)
  • 1 % hydrocortisone cream or other prescription steroid creams
  • Visine and Visine allergy

4) We still need about $2000 to cover Construction supplies we will purchase in Haiti.

Again, If you can help with any of these items – please EMAIL ME immediately and/or bring items with you to Eagle Pointe this Sunday.

BTW: Our next Haiti Mission Trips are June 8-16. ***We may add a 2nd week in June due to demand. ***In addition to construction types & general helpers – we ALWAYS need doctors, nurses, EMT’s, etc for these trips. Let me know if you are interested in going.