Those of us who follow Jesus do good because we want the attention to be given to our Heavenly Father; not to us! Matthew 6:1-4 says “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.So when...
Normally when we think about quitting something it’s because it’s a bad thing, but the reality is some of you are stuck where you are because you won’t quit. Some of the things that you and I won’t quit are the very things that are keeping us from the life that we are...
To be saved is to let Jesus Christ, the son of God, forgive our sins and occupy our life. It is so much more than a fire insurance policy! Some of us are as passionate about Jesus as we are about our insurance policy; we really don’t value Him until we need Him! He is totally irrelevant...
Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” What would that look like in your home? What would that look like as you let go of some of the woundedness of the past and stood...
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Anytime that we categorize people into “us” and “them,” “them” is always less than “us.” The truth is there is only “us.” If we categorize people and buy into the legitimacy and validity of distinctions based on the pigment of skin...
'Loving God and living sin’- This is the idea that we can love God and make peace with the sin in our lives. This is religion at its core and the deceit that deadens the excitement and the power of God’s purpose in us. I can say that I love God, but I don’t have to live in a...
There is no way you can be married and walk this life together without it being hard sometimes. I realize that in marriage, there are a million different scenarios. I realize that everybody’s life is different, but I’m just telling you there is so much grace when we refuse to quit!...
When God acts in our lives and works to rescue us, there is a purpose for that. The purpose is that we get to live in His presence. We get to be with God; God rescues us to be with Him! When you are with someone you love, it’s a joyful thing and God’s joy is you! God’s heart...
There is a race that God has marked out for you, and it is a run to glory! You have to choose to get off of the easy chair and out of the lazy boy; off the couch and run the race marked out for you! Your race isn’t somebody else’s race, your gifts aren’t somebody else’s...
As a teacher of a Christian faith-based preschool, I teach virtues as a way of encouraging young children’s moral development as well as modeling the very characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ. During the month of November, the virtues of thankfulness and generosity are emphasized. For three and four year olds, I define thankfulness as, “being appreciative of all that you have and are” and generosity as, “happily giving away something that belongs to you.”
I have participated in the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) program at Severn Run for many years. God spoke to my heart when I realized that having my preschoolers and their families participate in OCC would provide a wonderful family-building experience as well as a real-life application of our November virtues.
Having already talked about and modeled the virtues of thankfulness and generosity within the classroom, I introduce the OCC program by reading Boxes for Katje written by Candace Fleming. It is a post World War II story about an American girl who sends packages filled with needed supplies to a girl living in Holland. After explaining the OCC program, we discuss the differences between needs and wants and then brainstorm about what items could be packed into a box. I later show them my completed OCC box. This whole process builds excitement about collecting and buying items to “happily give away!”
Newsletters to the families explain the program and while it is a prime example of modeling our virtues, it is completely voluntary. Children are able to show off their boxes to their peers, thereby further increasing participation and excitement.
Not only did I advertise the OCC program to the preschool families but in its second year, I also introduced it to the Methodist Church, which houses the preschool where I teach. Both the preschool and church families return the filled boxes to me. Now a mainstay at the preschool and church, OCC is continuing in its fifth year having provided 315 boxes!
What used to be two boxes filled with love and supplies from my family has grown to an average of 78 boxes per year donated by many families. While the ultimate goal is helping children in poverty-stricken areas, children here at home are learning spiritual and moral behaviors that hold the hope of glorifying God for a lifetime!
Christmas gifts in shoe boxes given to children all over the world. What a neat idea! Who came up with this idea?
Those were my questions many years ago, when I first came across this awesome program that brought joy, happiness and laughter to kids all across the world.
What is so interesting about Operation Christmas Child (OCC), is the fact that these delightful gifts are distributed at various times during the calendar year. Therefore, Christmas comes at different times for these beautiful girls and boys. I can imagine the squeals of joy and exuberance when they open their boxes of gifts wrapped with love and kindness from men, women and kids all across the USA. I was truly fascinated by this program. In those early years, I never packed a box, but I would sponsor the shipping costs of a number boxes.
Fast-forward to the year 2013 when I got connected to the Church at Severn Run. Here was my opportunity to be fully involved in this program.
Giving has always come naturally to me. I never give it a second thought. I can remember as early as when I was 12 years old, I was involved in significant giving that brought changes to the lives of poor children who lived only about 5 miles from our home.
So in November 2013, our family ventured to get fully committed to OCC. We were so happy to be part of such great operation. We set out to make list of items that we think would bring joy to these children. We followed the guidelines given by OCC program as to what is appropriate, and we added other small, delightful items.
In the years, since 2013, our gift boxes have gotten larger with the addition of even more gifts of love. In 2015, I brought OCC to my work place, and I got coworkers to sponsor boxers. From that endeavor, OCC got 5 shoeboxes. My coworkers were so fascinated by the idea, and super excited to fill these boxes. They even sponsored the shipping costs for their boxes.
Filling these boxes does not cost a lot.
Here are some ideas that my family and I have used to help fill these boxes without breaking the bank.
- Purchase school supplies during the summer months, they are all on sale.
- Look for the end of summer sales on toys, tee shirts and other small gift items.
- Dollar Store has great offers, such as 4 pack toothbrushes and multi-pack bar soaps.
- All through the year, I am on the look out for items, Flea markets can yield new and almost new toys.
OCC continues to inspire me. We can never out give God, and our investments in these children from poverty stricken lands will be rewarded.
Have you started your OCC Shoebox? Pick up and drop off your box at Severn Run this week!
The Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Shoebox Program is amazing, but if you think it is only about giving gifts at Christmas to needy children in the far reaches of the world you are greatly underestimating the power of a Shoebox. My family wasn’t going to church when we were first introduced to the shoebox. In fact, we were a little fed up with church at the time perceiving it mostly as a self-serving overly righteous entity. Harsh I know, but that’s exactly what happens when hearts get hardened.
My son was in Cub Scouts at the time, and the Den Mother presented an idea for a service project. She talked about this program that she had been doing with her sons for a number of years. The premise was to pack a shoebox with supplies for a child who essentially had nothing. We were immediately on board. We could use this program to teach our son about giving to others, how there are children in the world who live with so much less (not even electricity for video games), as well as the practical nuances of budgeting. We were invited to fill a shoebox on our own, or bring a couple of things from the list that the boys could all pool together to pack a couple of boxes collectively. After hitting up Target for supplies, we made it back to the follow-up meeting where we had a “Packing Party,” and the boys put together the boxes. They had a blast pulling all the stuff together for these kids who were their age and less fortunate than them. The Den Mother shared pictures and stories from some of the brochures of children who had received boxes in the past and showed us how we were going to track our boxes to see where in the world they went.
We met up later that week, full of excitement, to drop our box off at a Distribution Center at a nearby church. The people at the church were kind, not pushy, and genuinely passionate about giving to these kids, which I confess was a bit of a shock to our cynical selves at the time. There were no telemarketing fundraiser types to be seen, and we felt a genuine sense that God was doing something. An enthusiastic gentleman showed the boys around and let them gape at the piles of boxes ready to be shipped to South America. The gracious woman who volunteered at the make-shift front desk offered to pray with us that the box would get to the right child and bless the family who received it.
Keep in mind, this was the first time my family had prayed together in a way that was not just part of a cultural pre-meal routine, or obligatory bowing of heads when prompted by others. We didn’t know it at the time, but before that winter was over we would find our hearts opened again. We landed in a new church home fully aware of God’s blessing…and it all started with a simple shoebox.
The Church at Severn Run has begun collecting OCC Shoeboxes for 2016! Contact the church for more information.
As we talk about becoming a worshiping community of 5,000, it's not for ego -it's because there are 100,000 who don't know Jesus! We're not just gong to sit on the sidelines and watch them go to hell in disbelief...get out of the boat! (Matthew 14:22-33)
Nothing glorifies God more than leading people toward faith in Jesus!
Champions for Christ do things with their lives that get Jesus noticed! Are you doing anything with your life that gets Jesus noticed?
Today is a turning point. You can live your life as a sideline-sitting, fear-filled, embarrassed-by-Jesus "church person," or you can get out of the boat and get into the teeth of the storm!
You can listen to the voice of Jesus in your life and you can attempt something impossible! I pray over and over again for the glory of God --you are called to be a champion for Christ!
Don't settle for a life filled with fear and all of hells lies --you have a turning point decision to make!
Whether to continue to live overwhelmed by the bad of life and the bigness of fear or to live as a child of God and champion for Christ! Whether to be overcome by the world or to be overcomers -that's our choice today!
I'm asking you to make a move to declare that you're no longer a slave to fear but that you are a child of Christ and a champion! Live with courage--your faith! -Dr. Drew Shofner
When bad things happen to me, I feel sorry for myself. I interpret it as evidence of God's absence. His lack of favor, my inadequacy, and being cursed really. But when I read what God says to do, it reframes the bad with the good.
James 1:2-6 says, "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything..."
How could any of us with our three pounds of grey matter approach the decisions of the complexity of life confident in and of ourselves that we've got it right?
Humility says I do need wisdom.
Here's the great news of going to the good of God with the bad of not knowing: "5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God..." -It's prayer! "...who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you..."
If we have the humility to ask, God gives generously and abundantly. He gives wisdom to everyone who just dares to ask!
Now the believing part, is that we have to do it with confidence in God's present response.
"6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
So when we read, we read believing in the presence of 'the presence.' And when we pray, we pray believing in hearing the Father confidently and we trust that the good of God is actually bigger than the bad of the world!
I'm just telling you, something super natural happens in our lives as the good of God answers the pain of life...overwhelms it...then the good of God pours out of us in authentic, life-changing ways for us and the people in our path! -Dr. Drew Shofner