Monday, December 28, 2009

From Hoarding To Generosity

Recently, a good friend of mine challenged people on his facebook status to give their stuff away now that they have received new Christmas gifts. He wasn't challenging people to give away their gifts necessarily. He was challenging people to give away stuff they no longer need as a result of the new stuff they received. He then took it a step further and stated to not just give away our "junk." I really liked his idea. It reminded me of a message that I had preached on "Hoarding" two years ago from James chapter 5. The word "hoard" means to amass or reserve or lay up. In America we have become very skilled at hoarding. We stack things and store things and organize things in our cupboards, closets, basements, etc. We have even made the "Storage Business" a VERY lucrative one (think about that for a second!). The problem is that as we "amass" things/stuff, there are people in our own families, on our blocks, in our cities/towns, in our country, and around the world who could be blessed by the stuff we once "needed."

So with just a few days remaining in 2009, I want to challenge you (& ME) to examine your closets, cupboards, garages, basements, storage units, etc. and honestly consider what you can (or even should) give away. I would echo what my friend stated, "don't just give away your junk." Be creative. Think about who could make good use of your stuff. Research places online that will distribute resources to others. Pray and think about someone who could utilize something you have been "sitting on." Let's all repent of our hoarding, and give generously! Let's all do it either before the new year is upon us, or to start the new year!

Here are some ideas of who to donate to...
(1) If you are looking to donate clothing, toys, books, furniture items, or kitchenware, 2nd Chance is a great place to donate to. 2nd Chance is a ministry located just off of 67th & King Drive. The first floor is a "second-hand" retail store. It is set up very nice, and has a great selection of clothing and household items. If they can't use your donated items, they pass them on to homeless ministries such as Pacific Garden Mission. The second floor of 2nd Chance is a transition home for women ages 19 to 25 and their children.

(2)If you have computers you are looking to donate (either lap tops or desk tops) our/Sunshine's Community Technology Center will gladly take them. We will either refurbish them for immediate use in our computer labs or potentially give them to one of our class participants. We also share donated computers with our partner ministry, Africa Revolution, who ships them to South Africa and Swaziland to be used in church based computer labs that are doing amazing empowerment ministry!

(3)If you don't live in Chicago, the Salvation Army is always a great option. Or contact your church and ask them for a list of places to donate your items to.

If you are interested, share who (non-profits, ministries, churches, nations, etc.) you have given your things to - in the comment section. This may spur our collective creativity in generously giving.

James 5:1-6
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Charlie Bit Me

First of all, I have to give a shout out to my good friends Josh and Christy Axe for exposing me to this. This video makes me laugh every time. Enjoy...

If you enjoyed that one, check out the "Auto-Tuned Version."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

He Came Down

I have been thinking about the beauty of Christmas this month. I am thankful for attending a friend of mine's Christmas Bible study where he reminded us that Christmas is all about making much of Him! He is worthy of much celebration! Then this past Sunday, Pastor Ford preached from Like 2:14 reminding us that Christmas is about "Exalting His Person, Experiencing His Peace, and Exhibiting His Philanthropy!"

Here are some Scriptures worth thinking about during this season...

His Majesty
Isaiah 6:1-3
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

Colossians 1:15-20
1He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Hebrews 1:3-4
The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

His Humility
John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Philippians 2:5-8
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Mark 10:45
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

His Saving Work
Romans 5:8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 6:23
23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thoughts on Christmas should humble us, place us in a state of awe, and make us want to celebrate Him! He came down...God in the flesh!

Follow Up On The Christmas Store

We hosted our (6th Annual?) Christmas Store this past Saturday. It was a great day! We spent ALL of Friday sorting, pricing, and setting up the store. When Saturday morning arrived, we were ready! We had a great staff this year of Sunshine staff, volunteers, and friends. One of my favorite parts of the store this year was serving together all day. Forty-some families were able to come and shop at the store. I was outside during the store hours, greeting people as they came in and helping them load their cars if needed. That gave me the opportunity to ask people "how it went." Everyone seemed to have had a great time at the store, and for that we praise the Lord. We really wanted the love of Christ to be displayed and felt by all who came through our doors, and by God's grace I think this happened! Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions...

What did you do with the proceeds from the store?We gift-ed the proceeds to five families whom are in need of a little financial assistance this year. Pete, our youth pastor, delivered the gifts yesterday.

Did you have leftover gifts, and what do you do with them?We invited additional families to come in and shop Monday through Wednesday. In addition, we will use leftover gifts in our "Sunshine Stores" for the children in our after-school programs. In all of our youth programs: AWANA, Club 2-5-2, Horizons, and ASM - we have a mini-economy set up. Our students earn Sunshine bucks through attendance, good behavior, saying memory verses, academic progress, etc. Then every couple of months we set up a store where they have an opportunity to spend their Sunshine Bucks. This not only serves as a great incentive for the kids, it also allows us to teach financial literacy in an experiential way!

I want to thank everyone who donated to our store this year and everyone who served at our store this year! You are appreciated! I hope everyone has a Christ-filled Christmas!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Sunshine Christmas Store

What is the Sunshine Christmas store?
Each year we ask for donated gifts from our friends and supporters. We then set up a "Christmas store" on a Saturday where we sell the donated items for 25 cents on the dollar. For example, an item that would cost $25 dollars in the department store, will cost $6.25 at our store. We invite families whom we have relationships with through our various youth and technology programs. This serves as a way we can tangibly share the love of Christ by lessening some of the holiday burden, and providing a way for parents to shop for their children and grandchildren in a cost efficient way.

What do you do with the proceeds?
We redistribute all of the proceeds from the store, by giving financial gifts to needy families in our neighborhood.

How can you(and your family or church)get involved?
Our Christmas store event will be on Saturday December 19th this year. This means we need your gifts to be collected and ready for delivery or pick up no later than noon the day before. If you can arrange drop off at our location (500 E. 61st St), on or before noon on the 18th, that would be greatly appreciated. We are asking that no gift cost more than roughly $30.00, and be purchased new. Please do not wrap the gifts. We are looking for items ranging from crayons and play-dough to clothing and gift cards.

For more information check out

Friday, December 04, 2009

Jesus Wants The Rose

This is a powerful reminder of the gospel of Jesus Christ! I had to pass it on...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

You Have One Life...Do Something!

Our junior high tutoring program, Horizons, is doing a Character Development unit called "Living A Life That Matters." We are basically looking at different ways in which we can put feet to our faith. We are talking about being "doers" of the Word, world changers for Jesus! We watched this video and had a good discussion on Monday afternoon. (I didn't realize this at the time, but our discussion coincided with World AIDS day.)

Some things to think about...

Many African women walk 6 miles every day for water.
On average Americans walk 6 miles every month.

Every day Americans spend 1 billion dollars DINING OUT.
Every night 799 million people go to sleep hungry!

American teens spend $101/week.
$101/week will send 2 African children to school for a year.

Life expectancy in the United States is 77.
Life expectancy in Zambia, Africa is 35.

Are you tired of people saying there is nothing you can do?

Are you tired of the excuses?…
The problem is too big!
One person can’t change the world!

Or are you going to do something?

You have one life...Do Something!

1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.