I have a friend in Uganda. His name is Charles.  He has a quick and broad smile and a compassionate heart.  He wrote this short devotional thought. It touched my heart and I wanted to share it here.  What a beautiful thought that the our acts of love leave a fragrance on our own hands.  This made me think of the opposite too….how are we tarnished when we acts in ways that are unbecoming?  I will remember that today.

Melissa

Devotion: Fragrance On The Hand Of The Giver

from LHM International Blog by Noel H.
The owner of a large estate once gave his gardener some red roses to take home to his wife. The flowers, however, never made it to their intended recipient. On the bus that afternoon, the gardener sat next to a widow who spoke of her loneliness. Knowing his wife would understand, he gave the roses to the lonely widow and brightened up her day.

But the widow didn’t get home with them either. At the grocery store, she came upon a tearful young girl. The girl’s mother was very ill. “Here,” the widow said, handing the flowers to the girl. “Give them to your mother; tell her I’ll be praying for her tonight.”

Gratefully, the girl accepted them and took them to her mother. The roses cheered the bedridden woman, but even she didn’t keep them. “They’re too beautiful not to share,” she told her pastor when he came to visit the next day. “I’d like the church to have them.” So the pastor took them and placed them in the sanctuary where his congregation could see and enjoy them. After the service, the minister gave single roses to some of the church members as they left. The beauty of the flowers was extended once more before they wilted.

There’s a beautiful poem entitled, “Flowers Leave Their Fragrance on the Hand of the Giver,” and the words are true. Every good deed, every selfless kindness, every thoughtful action which comes from a heart full of faith — a heart touched by the abundance the Lord has freely given — has a way of blessing the giver and multiplying the gift. Like the ripple effect of a stone tossed into water, the circles that emanate can reach many unseen shores.

So it is with the greatest love of all. Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross comes to us through God’s Word. By the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, we are made clean and acceptable to God through faith in the salvation Christ has won for us. God’s fragrance, the perfect sacrifice of His Son, is offered to everyone.

It is free. Share it the next chance you get.

THE PRAYER: Thank You, Father, for Your love. Help me today and always to have the courage to pass it on. Amen.

Biography of Author: Pastor Charles Bameka has directed LHM-Uganda since 2002. From an office in Kampala, volunteers and staff help people in need through Equipping the Saints, Bible Correspondence Courses, and the This is the Life TV program. Ministering to those living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda (more than 500,000 are afflicted with this disease) is a critical aspect of LHM’s mission there.

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Pray…think….deliver (part II)

How often we pray a quick “ohhhhh, help me God” when we are tackling something challenging…..and this is usually on the fly!  I do it.

How often we run through a mental “to do” list or think about a project and say “this goes first, then this….I need this and that to complete”?  I totally do this.

I am realizing that I do this way too often and don’t really take the time to pray things through (spending some time reading God’s word……then—and this is the big one—–really meditating what God wants to communicate to me and teach me).  Neither do I always take the time to really think things through…….. What is the reason for this?  How is this advancing my ultimate purpose ? Is this connecting with who I intend to reach?  Just who is my audience?  Is this the best way to accomplish my purpose or am I doing it this way because I’ve always done it like this before?  Are we using any kind of filter other than expediency and familiarity?

I know, we are busy …. way too busy for our good, it’s true!  I am realizing that whether I am being a mom, a daughter, a friend or whether I am working on a project, I need to take some time to pray and think……because I want it to count, I want it NOT to be busy work but really accomplish the things it should for the people that are important to me and the projects that will be better for my unique, creative gifts and talents and really achieve the goals that impact people positively.

The “deliver” part….well, that’s for another post.

What are your ideas for taking the time to really PAY ATTENTION to your life?  You can share them with me by leaving me a comment! I love comments….

Pray….Think…..and Deliver!

I belong to an organization that raises millions of dollars for support of mission work all over the world and is committed to encouraging all women of the church to grow very close to God and to serve His church with the gifts He has given each woman.  Man, these women lean hard on God, work hard and pour out their hearts and best efforts in service with no reservation or equivocation! I have the privilege of leading a national team of women who come from diverse backgrounds and who are generally new to the organization.  They inspire me deeply and have taught me things that have had a profound impact on my life.

My friend Angelina, I found out just this weekend, actually made the decision to retire early because she wanted to serve the church and the organization well in this appointment to the Heart to Heart Sisters Task Force.  She said she prayed long and hard about this decision and knew this was the work to which she wanted to devote concentrated effort.  She said, “Yes, I pray and think but now I want to deliver well!”

Wow! What an inspiration.  I am going to post this to my wall in my office:  “Pray…..Think…….Deliver!”

Here is Angelina, me and the Vice President of Gospel Outreach, Marilyn McClure. This was our interdepartmental planning meeting in St. Louis this weekend (where we plan the entire biennium!) I am very excited to work with Marilyn…..she is a close friend, former career missionary….a godly woman of bold faith and a gentle spirit…..and my mentor!

Great first “preview” worship service!

Great Sunday.  You can read about it below in the note I wrote the prayer partners who are helping pray for this new mission launch.  You will read about my friend, a young mom with three young children, who suddenly lost her mother on Friday night.  She was very close to her mother and this was so unexpected, you can imagine how hard this is….and will continue to be for her.

Her mother’s funeral in on Friday and she will fly home next Monday.  I think she would be touched to receive cards of encouragement and comfort.  Would you have time to write and send off a note or send a card?

For some of you this will be an act of love,  for others an act of mercy, for those who don’t know Disa, this will be an act of random kindness (the kind that is really good for the soul!)

Join me by sending a note/card to:

Disa Z., 2521 Coyote Ridge Terrace, Chula Vista, Ca 91915

Thank you!

Melissa

Thank you prayer partners for praying for our first “preview” worship service.  The week leading up to Sunday had some big challenges.  We were making changes up until the last minute. Pastor was on a ladder minutes before church adjusting wiring above a ceiling tile.  The machines (copiers, printers, etc) were either not working or ink was unavailable. . Several key team members—two the day before– became very ill, one staff member went into the hospital, even tragedy visited us when a volunteer leader’s mother died suddenly and without warning of a heart attack on Friday night.

The week of challenges drove us even more intentionally and intently to Christ in prayer all week and we were grateful we had prayer partners also standing in the gap for us.  The apprehension on Sunday morning was palpable (at least for me) but as we came together to pray it melted into trust and surrender. What a gift!  Here are a few photos of the morning early in the service before things got too busy.

Once worship began things went relatively smoothly….we were so grateful.  We have received alot of feedback data and this will help us tremendously as we prepare for the next preview which will be on November 8.  Please pray for that service.  There is so much to look at and think through again…..tweek after the testing…..improve and focus.

We had 105 in attendance for the service!  Considering we are only able to set up 150 chairs in this provisional space (two future preschool rooms revamped for worship space), the room looked comfortable full!  People came who had seen a promotional piece, seen the sign and banners outside the preschool and lived nearby, had been invited by the preschool teachers and were families from the preschool or were invited by others connected with the church or school.

We have collected alot of valuable feedback through a survey people either complete that day or online.  People were thoughtful and gave good and honest feedback.  This will help us see where the “hits” and “misses” were.

Thank you again for your prayers.  Please pray us through the next four short weeks as we prepare for preview number two!  Your partnership in prayer is so important to this mission launch…..and we are so grateful.

Blessings,
Melissa Salomon
Community Life Coordinator
Concordia Lutheran Church and School
melissa@concordiachurch.com

First “preview” worship service coming up on Sunday.

Yes, THIS Sunday, October 11.  I can’t believe after so much planning, it is finally almost here……and still, it seems it has snuck up on us (yeah, there have been a thousand other things to tend to as well.) October is here already!?

We are so excited to invite people to our creative testing ground……experimenting with interesting ways in which families can experience faith together…. interacting as part of the experience on Sunday morning….. and carrying on the conversation as a family throughout the week.  A big challenge…..making those lessons sticky!

Throughout this four month process, it will especially be important that we get some honest feedback and see if we are hitting the mark so that we can refine during these monthly previews until the launch on February 14, 2010.

We will be testing, trying, tweaking and asking God to lead us to those things that in keeping with Concordia’s unique DNA, we will either table or treasure!

If you live in the Chula Vista, Otay Ranch, Windingwalk….or any part of the greater San Diego area……please join us and be a part of this experience.  You will be blessed and you will be a blessing too as we figure out together how to help people journey to learn about God and His amazing love and grace.

Details:  Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 10:45 a.m. at Concordia Church and School, 1695 Discovery Falls Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91915. Map HERE.