A Pile of Shoes
Not your typical church service. But then with God, what is typical? The lady got up in front of the church and was sharing with the church how she is going to Mozambique again to help her friend for a while. She wanted to bring a gift to her friend – a practical type of gift. And as she inquired of the Lord what she should bring, she heard this small voice say “shoes.” Shoes? For her? For others? Who, Lord?? “Bunches of shoes…” Okay then! She didn’t know sizes, types, styles, gender, or anything. Just shoes. There was no email, no Facebook post, not even a phone call. Just this impression in her heart: “Shoes.” So she shared with the church that last Sunday she would be there for a while that the Lord laid it on her heart to ask for people to donate shoes, if anybody was willing. So, at the end of the service, they had a rather strange offering. People by the scores went up and left their shoes at the altar. Nice, ugly (those would have probably been mine!), new or used. The picture above does not do justice. It was a LARGE pile of shoes and boots. And, in keeping with “strange” that day, many families went home barefooted! They literally left their shoes at the altar for unknown people 10,000 miles away – in Mozambique.
On the other side of the world, IN Mozambique, the missionary lady was in pain. She had sickness, she had been digging worms out of the feet of other people for weeks and months. Even she herself had been hospitalized with the worms. They were eventually eradicated from the missionary’s body, but her burden of love for these people she was ministering to was to give them something that would prevent them from getting those worms, or getting re-infected with them. She prayed for shoes. Sandals. Boots. ANYTHING that would prevent these people from getting these worms as they walked around barefooted.
And from a small church on the other side of the world, God spoke the answer to the missionary’s prayers, and an entire church heard a call to leave their shoes at the altar, and a great number did just that, and went home barefoot.
When the missionary’s friend arrived in Mozambique, she asked her, “I don’t know why, but I felt the Lord wanted me to bring shoes?” The missionary broke down and cried. She had wondered if the Lord had heard her request for shoes. Would she even get them? And if so, how? She had thought about sending out a newsletter, or a Facebook post, but the Lord in His infinite love and sovereign power had beat her to the punch! “Shoes you want? Shoes you shall have!” Box after box after box arrived at the compound in the truck. The nice thing was that these shoes and boots were already broken in! People could now walk around in shoes, boots, sandals, anything that fit their feet – and they could avoid a worm infestation in their body that had very painful implications. How beautiful is the body of Christ!
You might ask how I know this story? Is it one of those “urban legends”? Well, this last weekend, Sept 21st, I attended a church called Convergence Church here in South Fort Worth. Convergence is the church from whence the shoes were donated. My son is a student at their school of supernatural ministry, and he really wanted me to come and hear Heidi Baker speak there this weekend. “Heidi Baker??” I asked…I was in like flint! Heidi was that missionary. She and her husband had come to the US on their yearly speaking tour and Convergence church was definitely on their itinerary after the shoe experience. As she stood in front of Convergence church and started sharing the story of the shoes, she broke into tears, and just stood there. Tears of thankfulness. Tears of overwhelming love. Tears of knowing there is God in heaven who actually hears our cry. Trying to regain some form of composure standing in front of hundreds. But she lost it. Probably 2-3 minutes went by. It was truly a beautiful time of love being poured out. Probably not a dry eye in the place. Love is a powerful thing. And those shoes are doing a work of love as people wear them over in Mozambique. I can only imagine what some of the men are wearing.
So this is in perfect line with what the Lord has been weighing on my heart these past few years.
Not only that, but 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.
So the love is there! The first question is then why does the world not see it as much as it should? The second question is how many of us continue block that love? For years I did that. I have a trail of damage behind me to prove it. How many of us have too many layers of paint over the original beautiful wood boards to see the beauty God created in the wood grain? How many of us let our hurts cover over the love HE poured into our hearts? He doesn’t pour it into our hearts so we can just hang onto it and “feel the love” – it is to become rivers of living water flowing out of us.
It is an extravagant love. As I read Ephesians, I am struck by just how extravagant His love really is! And it dwells inside of each one of us who call Him our Lord!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
1 John 4:7-8 says “God IS love” as true as 4+5 = 9. God = Love. If we see God, we are seeing love personified. IF we have God dwelling in our hearts, then to the extent that we allow Him Lordship over us, we will love. Truly love. We will take off our shoes, and go home shoeless so that somebody 10,000 miles away might be blessed to have our shoes by the Love of Jesus. We will give the person ahead of us in line at the grocery store the extra $1 they need to pay their whole ticket when they come up short. We will walk up to a perfect stranger at the mall with an injury and offer to pray for healing from them in the love of Christ (Warning! Healings may occur!)
1 John 4:7-8:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.
Go. Love people in His Name and for HIS Kingdom’s sake.
Not Home Yet…
I was engrossed by the headline. A child had found her own biological mother years after being stolen from her hospital bed at just a few days of age. The thief was never caught – and the child was never recovered…until recently. How could this happen? As the child grew older, she just had this feeling that “she didn’t belong with the family raising her.”
Ever had the feeling you that you didn’t belong where you were? Felt like you were meant for something so much better? You were! Just like in the article above – this place we call home – it really isn’t our home! Designed to be born into God’s Kingdom of love, instead, we were given over to satan’s kingdom at birth because of Adam and Eve’s choices:
Rom 5:19 tells us that “by the one man’s disobedience the many were made [members of satan’s kingdom].”
I know. I have often struggled with that verse as well. We would like to say, “But I never made that choice! How can I be held accountable – even guilty – for a choice somebody else made?” Apparently, good ol’ American values don’t line up with those of the rest of the universe! God – and satan – think generationally. Always have. But, there is good news too!
Romans 5:15 “But the free gift is not like the trespass… For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ…Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
There are times where generational consequences don’t do us any favors. Satan knew if he could win my paternal grandpa over with alcohol, and have him die from a swimming accident due to his drunkenness, then that blow would sink the rest of his family for generations. Indeed! Furthermore, if he could do the double whammy of getting my other grandfather to be abusive to his family, then become an absent father, and then commit suicide after terrorizing his family, surely satan would put that family into a tailspin from which they could never recover, right? Except God.
Ephesians 2:1-3, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind…”
This is my favorite part of the passage…
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus…”
So here is my question: How many leaders do you know who are willing to “show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us”? Drawn by God’s amazing grace, we were born into the household of God. Now, you can tell a lot about a King, by looking at their kingdom. The picture below is a fine collection of some of this world’s most powerful dictators in this century, along with a measure of the health of their fine kingdom.
The numbers under their name represent the number of people killed under their regime and with their blessing. Why? They didn’t think exactly the same way as their leader. Some were caught sneaking into the kingdom. Others (most) were caught trying to sneak out. Then there were those who dared to have a different skin color, or religious (or athiestic) beliefs, or culture. Penalty for any of these great acts of disobedience? Death. The above passage in Ephesians was exactly correct! Those people were children of wrath, dead in their trespasses in their respective kingdoms – just as we are if we are in satan’s kingdom. But God…
Don’t believe me? Ever known a partier who tries to quit the party scene? What do their friends do? Try to get them back! Ever known an alcoholic who tries to quit? What do their friends do? Ever known an addict who tries to quit? What do their friends do? The kingdom of satan cannot (and will not!) handle loss…But God…
Now of course, there is always the criminal element as well. What do you do with murderers and rapists, thieves and violent types? Well, let’s take a look at the “law” book that governs God’s Kingdom:
1 Corinthians 6:9, “…do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Forgiven. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on us who fear Him (Psalm 103:13).
Who is your daddy? In whose kingdom do you belong? If we have given our life to Jesus, then the answer is simple. Do you know Him?
Our true citizenship is in heaven. That might explain a few things!
That is why Jesus told us what He did in John 15:19,
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
And again Jesus confirms this in John 17:14,
“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world…”
Philippians 3:20 tells us “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” Not only is our citizenship in heaven, that is where our true family is as well, as Ephesians 2:19 tells us:
“…you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”
Hebrews 13:14 “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”
Here is what is awesome…are you ready for this? Because we are members of God’s Kingdom, we are here on this earth as ambassadors.
2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…”
Legally, ambassadors are not under the law of the land they are in – they are governed under the law of their citizenship. Do you understand what that means for us? Everywhere we set our foot, we represent the grace and kindness of our God. We EMBODY the grace and kindness of our God. Every where we walk, every person we talk to, God makes His appeal through us.
And what is His appeal? Earlier on, He tells in verse 18 that “Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…”
We truly do not belong in this place. But while we are here, we live for Christ. We are not home…yet…