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Day 6 – Planned Acts of Kindness (PAK) Challenge and it’s getting challenging. Yesterday’s challenge was to call a family member or friend you have not talked to in a while and tell them you were thinking of them.

Now family matters are personal stuff. Usually when you try to ask people too many questions about their family they get uncomfortable. You run the risk of getting too personal. Yesterday’s challenge made me get personal.

I realized two important things because of yesterday’s PAK – 1. It’s easier for me to stay in contact with work related associates than some of my relatives and 2. Even though we have more methods of communication (text, email, facebook, twitter), we are losing the personal touch.

So yesterday I called a couple of my aunts and an uncle who I had not spoken to in a while. We had great conversations and instead of just firing off a text or poking them on fb, it allowed us to get personal. We could hear each others laugh, talk about nothing and simply catch up. If you didn’t do it, try it. Let’s get personal – call (or if it’s possible, visit) a family or friend you’ve not talked to in a while. You’ll be glad you did (and maybe they will too).

I hope by now you have begun doing the daily Planned Act of Kindness (PAK) Challenge that we are encouraging through the 40 Days of Service campaign on wiiserve.org. If not you are missing a blessing. It is true what the Bible says that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Today’s challenge was to write a thank you note to your mail carrier. We expanded it to writing a thank you note to someone who typically serves you. That includes mail carriers, cafeteria workers, cashiers at the local store or restaurant servers.

I had written a note for the mail carrier who delivers to my house while at work. While sitting there I heard the mail man at the office. I quickly went and wrote him a thank you note. It was a pleasure to deliver this envelope without a stamp to him simply to say thanks.

Now do we really have to thank these people? Really they are getting paid to do it. It’s their job. And the truth is we don’t. But I think it helps us to recognize that they are more than what they do…they are real people with families and lives and instead of treating them like objects, saying thank you affirms them as people.

So this thanksgiving season, beyond saying thanks to God, thank someone who you usually take for granted because of what they do. I challenge you to do it in a written format instead of just verbally. Thank them for what they do and more importantly for who they are.

Day 4 of our 40 Days of Service and 2nd Day of Planned Acts of Kindness (wiiserve.org). Well today’s challenge was to share your umbrella with someone. An umbrella in use would generally accompany rain falling. And rain falling is not something we can control. As much as we have good intentions of performing that task, we can’t do it without help.

Today I am glad to report that it rained in Kansas City. Usually I’m not a fan of the ran but today I was glad about it. It allowed me a chance to open up that umbrella and share it with one of my co-workers as she walked to her car.

Helping others requires divine intervention. Rain usually symbolizes blessings. Serving others requires God’s blessings to be present for us to share. We can never allow ourselves to be proud about all the service we are doing because if God didn’t send His rain, then we wouldn’t be able to do the small tasks we do. Remember He controls the rain.

Well today was the first Planned Act of Kindness (PAK) challenge for our wiiserve 40 Days of Service and Sacrifice. (If you want the full calendar go to wiiserve.org and click Calendar).

Today’s challenge was to open the door for a stranger. I was on my last stop before heading back home, at the library and I had not had an opportunity to open the door. I whispered a prayer silently to God to give me an opportunity to do so. On my way out, someone walked up to the door and I was able to get the door for them and give them a nice smile.

Now I know this doesn’t seem like a biggie – open the door for a stranger. Some of you do it everyday. But what’s the big deal for me is that God answers our prayers to provide opportunities for us to serve others for Him.

Over these 40 Days, why not seek God daily for an open door to serve others for Him. Partner with Him to touch lives of those around you. It’s so much more awesome serving with God than on our own.

I’m about to get in shape…again. The tool of choice this time is going to be P90X. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a revolutionary workout, diet program that is guaranteed to sculpt your body in just 90 days. So I’m about to try it.

But it hit me that this revolutionary tool has a lot of company in my never ending quest for physical fitness. It lines up behind my exercise bike and Ab cruncher in the basement. I used them for a few weeks faithfully but then stopped due to some reason (a goood one). This journey has also included my pedometer where I was doing my 10,000 plus steps a day. Walking vigorously lasted a few months but then my pedometer broke and I never replaced it.

This exercise quest also included early morning jogging. I bought some running shoes, clothes and an ipod to listen to music. That lasted a few weeks but then my shoes hurt and I never got them fixed. We then started using the Hip Hop abs video exercises (please don’t tell anyone I did that). It worked for a few weeks but then I got tired. Then it was off to the gym for some months. Actually enjoyed it. But then it got too cold to go out and so we canceled the membership.

Lastly I bought the Nintendo wii fit. That had to work because I didn’t have to go out and it was fun. Except I only lasted two sessions.

Well here we are – P90X. The truth is I just need some consistency. So here’s what I’m trying. I’m coming clean and asking you to help keep me accountable. When you see me ask me how the exercise program is going. Hit me up on fb and make sure I’m off the couch and working out.

I don’t think I’m the only one that struggles with consistency in exercising,work, time with my kids, even devotional habits. Let’s become a community where we help keep each other accountable. We’re not always strong on our own. Let’s lean on each other. That will help our consistency.

“Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he (Jesus) got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. Matthew 8:26

I grew up in a family with three rambunctious boys of which I’m the oldest.We competed and fought all the time. In order to get the upper hand I have to shamefully admit I exploited my brothers’ fears. Now don’t let them know I said this but one was afraid of the mop. To get him in check you just had to grab the mop and the scraggly strands would scare him straight. My other brother (who can probably break me in two with his bare hands now) had an even more irrational fear. He was afraid of cotton. All I needed to do to get him in line was to threaten to bring cotton to him. He would be shaking.

My parents would sometimes intercept and ask them “Why are you afraid?” It’s the same question Jesus asks the disciples in Matthew 8:26 when they frantically awoke Him during the storm. And I believe it’s the same thing He asks us when we get all scared during the stress of life.

I’m sure the disciples thought they were justified in being afraid. And we usually come up with good reasons for our fear. But if we’re honest we let fear paralyze us and take it to an irrational point.

Don’t let fear stop you for moving forward, stepping up, serving, doing something great, pursuing your dreams, making a change in life. Instead have faith in God and His ability to calm not just the storms outside us but the storms inside us like fear, anxiety and despair.

Why are you afraid? And what can you be doing if you exchanged your fear for faith?

Every Friday evening at 10 pm Central, there is an online rap session hosted on the wiiserve.org website. Our regular host is Pastor Donald Rolle and the title of this interactive bible study, discussion time is Servin It Up.

Each week those who log on to the show are blessed. On one of the past shows Pastor Rolle discussed having a connection with God. Here are some of the responses listed below for features that people wanted in their “wireless connection” with Jesus.
Great stuff! Check it out.

I want in my wireless connection (prayer life) with God…

RIREZY: it should look good! no one wants a phone to look like a land line!

discomookie: its cool to have it

wiiserve: Unlimited Minutes= prayer without ceasing

RIREZY: Sturdy and long lasting= to PRAY FAithfully not matter what!

lpayne7: Strong connectionI want a prayer life were I doesn’t lose a connection.

KYKY23: txt to God

discomookie: unlimited text messages = staying in the word

icemanrolle: a personalied phone = because god understands and knows me…

wiiserve: No drop calls= God hears me and doesn’t ignore me

DarrienLinwood: STRONG connection and unlimmited everything= praying life better plus when i say Fatha hears me

Dbedward011: Wifi+ 3G= A connection with speed always

Stigmeister: My phone has to be international. We have to commucinate no mater where I am.

PCPhD: Face to Face video conferencing

discomookie: preach collins

discomookie: that is coming

discomookie: its in the next upgrade

Dbedward011: Not international Universal

drewpy_boo: unliminted talk-= no matter what time of day it is, you will always be able to speak with him

wiiserve: How about a network that can “hear me now”

DarrienLinwood: i hope so

PCPhD: Fave All

RIREZY: warranty= i cant get back to praying when i fall in the water and get a few scratches and mess up the screen of my life

ZoZo963: aww shoot that was dope

icemanrolle: lol

PCPhD: No Faves

DarrienLinwood: 4G

discomookie: rirezy that is nice

DarrienLinwood: the new connection

Dbedward011: Noise Canceling= Clear understanding and can recives signs easily Tmobile= Get more God

RIREZY: Ringtones=So catchy that when god calls i cant help but answer

discomookie: custom ringtones = you know who it is

KYKY23: international locations for traveling to you

PCPhD: SYNC

lpayne7: iphone= a prayer life that is worry free

DarrienLinwood: Ringtones= so when God calls i knw who it is

PCPhD: Text to Speech

Dbedward011: Touch One Dialing= NUMBER 1 777-777-7777 (GODS NUMBER)

KYKY23: call me

discomookie: that’s deep collins

DarrienLinwood: “call him up, tell him what want”

wiiserve: Prayer Bible text: Luke 11:1-13

PCPhD: pray shows up 365 tims on Biblegateway

DarrienLinwood: thanx cause i have a friend whos needs help

RIREZY: prasie him!!!

ZoZo963: Proverbs 5

DarrienLinwood: Psalms 23

wiiserve: Nehemiah is the Book of the Week

discomookie: 1st Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer,

wiiserve: Challenge to pray at least 15mins per day

PCPhD: Hebrews 5:7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his submission

PCPhD: Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

KYKY23: psalm 143:1 hear my prayer o lord; listen to my plea!

For an even greater blessing come online this Friday and every other one at 10 pm Central to Serve it Up…

The two simple words “thank you” can be used as a tool for ministry. I found that out this week through two simple examples.

The school my children attend, V Lindsay SDA Elementary School, hosted Pastors’ Appreciation Day. They brought the local pastors in (including me) and through word and gifts said “thank you.” It is amazing the simple things that these little ones and their teachers said thank you for. However it is the fact that someone notices those little things that is encouraging. Let’s be honest we don’t work for the appreciation but it certainly makes the load a little bit lighter. One of my pastoral colleagues remarked that it was one of his best ministry experiences. All because these teachers and children said thank you.

The second experience occurred when my own children made a thank you card for my Administrative Assistant. She loves baking and sent home a sweet potato pie for our family. They were moved by her kindness and wanted to do something in return. So they made a thank you card with drawings and sentiments of gratitude and love. It was so pure, innocent and at the same time powerful.

Children notice and want to give thanks for the simple things. The things you do that a lot of times go unnoticed. Maybe you can minister to someone today by noticing the simple things they do and telling them thank you. It will make a difference.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Between readjusting to a 7 hour time zone difference and catching up on all the work left behind after two weeks away, it’s been hard getting time to write. But I’m back now. I will be sharing a little bit about my experiences in Lesotho next blog.

I’m here at Oakwood University, a Historically Black Christian University. I was talking with a student from East St Louis, Karyle Barnes Jr, who has worked with me before. He is presently studying to be a minister. Karyle is a deeply spiritual young man but one who has a good grasp of contemporary culture and is able to reach his peers.

We were talking about ministerial experience and preaching opportunities here at Oakwood and the fact that all theology students don’t get an opportunity to preach on campus at some of the “spotlight” occasions like chapel and student worship services. That’s where everyone on campus gets to know who you are and your renown is established.

But Karyle related to me a ministry that he is involved with called Stand Ministries. In his low key manner he spoke about going to a local juvenile detention center every Friday to speak to the young men about life and making good choices. After speaking to the entire group of teens, these collegiates sit down in smaller groups with the detainees and dialog with them. Some weeks they just play games with the boys and have fun.

Now that is ministry! It’s not in the spotlight but it’s following the light. And there are so many others who are doing sacrificial service that do not appear in the limelight or get recognition but I am confident that God is smiling down on it.

If you are one of those persons, whether it’s helping a neighbor, or contributing to someone’s well-being anonymously, know that you are following the light – Jesus Christ. “For as much as you’ve done it to the least of these, You’ve done it to me (Jesus).”

Well it’s evident I was not very successful in my goal of blogging daily. We have had challenges with internet connection. However my experience has been rich enough to fill out a few blogs. I will be dedicating a few more of my blogs even after I return to the blessings we have received while here in Southern Africa.

This past week has been spent doing quite a bit of traveling. We moved from Hazy View to Johannesburg (a 6 hour bus ride) on Monday. On Tuesday we traveled from Jo’burg to Ficksburg (another 6 hour ride) right on the border of South Africa.

Wednesday and Thursday we crossed over into the Kingdom of Lesotho, a country that is completely surrounded by the country of South Africa. There we visited the Maluti Hospital and the Maluti Adventist Christian School. I’ll be writing about the wonderful ministry being done here later. For this blog allow me to recap something from last week.

Last Thursday I wrote about our visit to the Khomelela Community Services Project. We had a wonderful opportunity to see the dream of Pastor Paul Mawela and his wife Martha, come to reality. Pastor Mawela had retired from official church work and decided to move to Dwarsaloop to start a church among his people. He was met with resistance and all his efforts were thwarted. The Lord led him to begin ministering to the community through addressing the needs that arose due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

At the Khomelela Community Service Project we saw some great ministries taking place. The community asked them to start a preschool program. One of the reasons for to provide a place for teenage mothers to drop their children off so that they can go to school and complete their education.

I was particularly impressed with the care giver ministry that is operated out of Khomelela (it means “Hold On”). They go out and assist refugees from neighboring Mozambique and the elderly who need food and other services. Without them these people would be forgotten. We traveled with two care givers – Yvonne and Tinswello.

These ladies blew us away when they told us the sacrifices they were making for this ministry. Tinswello travels 2.5 hours one way by foot to come to the center arriving each day at 8 am. She then goes out to see her clients and ends her work at 4 pm. She does not arrive home until 6:30 pm or 7. In addition she is presently doing this work voluntarily. There’s more. She was not complaining about her work or travel or lack of pay. She was excited and smiling. Here are her words. “I’m proud to serve others.” She takes pride in knowing that she helps others. She was recruited because they were looking for people who wanted to help others. It is a badge of honor and a source of pride that she can minister to the needs of others.

How wonderful it is that the motivation for service is service itself? If we could all realize that being able to help others is not a burden but an honor.

We have been blessed to meet such wonderful agents of the love of Christ here. I pray that I would be able to say like her, I’m proud to serve others.