This last Sunday I shared the vision with our Heartland family that we need a miracle, but we can be someone else's miracle right now.
I presented the decision of the leaders to commit $150,000 to World Hope International for a new well drill rig to begin to provide clean water to the 1,000 villages that have no access to this basic need of life.
I told everyone not to feel guilty but to leverage gratitude for all God has done for them, and to be the best stewards they can be with all God has given them ... for their sake and their children's sake.
Imagine what could happend if everyone in our church, out of gratitude to the Lord, did the hard work of getting out of debt?! People could leverage huge percentages of their "extra" to change the world! This kind of incredible generosity would catch the attention of our entire community and even beyond.
The response so far has been amazing. The first surprise was Dr. JoAnn Lyon of WHI showing up at my home on Sunday afternoon. She had been the Commencement Speaker for the IWU's graduation ceremonies. Then she spoke at a church in Michigan on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon she drove down to personally thank us for our commitment.
While she was sitting in our living room, there was a knock on the door. A couple who had heard me on Sunday morning was deeply moved by the need and wanted to respond immediately. She handed me a thick card and said, "open it." I said, "Why don't you come in and give this directly where it's going. Imagine their surprise when I brought them in to meet Dr. Lyon. Tears popped into both their eyes, as they handed me the card and asked me to read it. Here's part of it ...
"I could hardly sit through the remainder of the service. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, how to do it, and how much to give. So here is a $5,000 contribution towards the $150,000 commitment. God spoke to me ... and I not only heard Him, but I listened to Him. May others be so fortunate."
It was an emotional moment considering the convergence of all of our obedient responses to get us to this moment: My obedience to share the need; Dr. Lyon's obedience to drive down from Michigan; and these folk's obedience to respond immediately by coming to my house. We all arrived at the house at the same time: We arrived from our small group. Dr. Lyon showed up from Michigan. And this couple showed up 10 minutes later.
What has God been saying to you? You have no idea what lies on the other side of an obedient response.
Amazing things happen when we obey immediately. Not only was part of the need met, but we had a unique moment when all of us were aware of the Presence of God. It was a holy moment and it was priceless!
This is going to be huge! I have no idea where this is going or how much money we'll be able to give away, but in the end I believe we are going to see God and it's going to be breath-taking.
"Father, may everyone see you. Jesus, be lifted up. Holy Spirit, speak to us loudly that we may obey you without reservation. O Lord, may you visit us and our children. We want to see You! Amen."
Back in January myself, and a team from Heartland, including my son Nick, made a special vision trip to Sierra Leone in West Africa to see the work that World Hope International is doing there. WHI is a faith-based relief and development organization
Sierra Leone is the poorest country in the world. The most critical problem for this tiny nation of $6.5 million people is clean water. 80% of the country does not have access to it. For the whole story, here is the Video of my message.
Here's an entry from my personal journal entry for last Thursday, (4/24) about how this need came to the surface now:
Ever since we've come back, I've known that we need to provide World Hope with a second water drilling rig. Even 50 wells a year is too slow with so much at stake. 1,000 villages! I've been thinking about a special Christmas eve offering. We could give, we could invite others in the community to give, like Rotary ... $150,000 is a lot of money but with enough preparation I think we could do it.
Why am I waiting until Christmas? Am I really going to wait until we meet all our own financial need until we meet this need? There is no way God would be honored by that. That goes against everything I know about how God works. We need a financial miracle, but we can be their miracle right now. It's within our reach to give $150K away ... we should do this. What if we just went for it? It's a scary thought. But I think it's the right one.
"Lord, I'm willing to do whatever you want, just make it clear. I have to be sure this is you. Help me to know what you want, and I'll obey You! You know my heart."
Within an hour of my writing this, I had received an email from David Cranor, a member of Heartland. He had been contacted by his boss, Dr. JoAnne Lyon, Executive Director, asking about the status of Heartland getting involved with a rig project because the current rig had broken. The drilling had stopped.
Wow. I could not believe the timing of her request, considering what I'd been pondering and praying about less than an hour before. I took this a clear confirmation of the impression I believed I had from the Lord.
I then called Pastor Gary and each Elder one at a time. Without any hesitation (and to my wonder) each one said, "We need to do this!"
So we unanimously decided to respond to this urgent need in Sierra Leone by committing $150,000 to purchase a new well drilling rig, above our One Life Commitments. Even though we will need a miracle to reach our own goal, we can be their miracle right now. This coming Sunday we'll receive a special offering for this need at our big outdoor One Life Festival!
I have posted my Sierra Leone speaking note and PowerPoint file online so that anyone can spread the word and share the need with their network.
If you'd like to make a timely contribution, give online (select "Misc" and write, "SL Water Project" in the memo box, or please send your check to:
Attn: Sierra Leone Water Project
9665 Hague Road
Indianapolis, IN 46256
I've been reading through the Book of Joshua and came across a powerful story in Chapter 22 where a war almost began because of hearsay and false assumptions.
Here is a short list of observations that I believe are a summary of God’s way of dealing with a situation when you are told something bad about someone else.
Listen to the entire CONFLICT series here.
Here is great coaching advice from Indianapolis Colts Coach, Tony Dungy.
At a team meeting, I ran through a laundry list of excuses our players could easily hang a poor season on if they chose to:
Those were all great excuses, and we could have used any and all of them. However, our goal was to win football games, and excuses were not an option. Instead, I told them we expected several things from them:
Whatever it takes.
No excuses, no explanations.
From QUIET STRENGTH by Tony Dungy, © 2007 Tyndale House Publishers, p. 116.
You have a story to tell that can make a difference in the lives of other people.
God does not want you to waste the hurt or the problems you've experienced in life. Here's two ways to share your story:
1. Be humble. We're all in the same boat. We're all fellow strugglers. Even Billy Graham once said, "Sharing the good news is basically one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread." None of us have it all together so be humble and just say, "Here's what happened to me." Humility is not denying strengths. It's just being real about weakness. That leads me to the next one ...
2. Be honest about your hurts and faults. People want you to be real, not ideal. Tell the truth about your mistakes. People will learn more from sharing your weaknesses than almost any other thing.
Every sin is a liability, until God forgives it ... then it's an
asset. It's an asset because you can now help somebody because of what
you've been through. God can use your experience to make the difference
in the life of someone else.
"If someone is overcome by some sin, humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be you who is in the wrong. Share each other's troubles and problems and so obey our Lord's command." Galatians 6:1–2
Notice, to tell your story is commanded. God doesn't say, "It's a good idea if you share." He says, "Do it." If you are a believer, you are to share in the problems and troubles of other people.
I'm grateful to be a part of a church family where real people can share real problems and real solutions without feeling put down or feeling guilty about it. We are committed to maintaining that atmosphere of acceptance at Heartland Church. You help other people by being honest about your hurts. It helps them open up. The other amazing thing is when you share your story it not only gives hope to them but gives healing to you. Every time you share your story with somebody, you get a little bit stronger. You're healed a little bit more.
I invite you to share with others what God is doing in your life. Download a file here that will help you organize your thoughts and share them with me.