by Jason Cruise
At the moment it is 4:14 am on February 21, 2012. I'm in Chisinau, Moldova, the poorest country in Europe.
Yesterday was a day I'll never forget as long as I live. I saw with my own eyes the power of hope once it's born into the life of someone who has never had it.
"and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - Romans 5:5
The girl in the picture is Mihaela, or "Michelle" in English. Six months ago, when I took this picture, I met this tall, skinny, 11 year old girl who owned the saddest eyes I'd ever seen.
The odd thing was that she was not gloomy, and she didn't pout. No, in fact, she had perfect posture, and walked with a purposeful step, as if it were by keeping her head held high she was refusing to quit, though the possibilities certainly seemed bleak. The orphanage director told me that Mihaela is smart, in fact, very smart. So it then made sense to me as to why she had sad eyes when I met her on a playground at a former Soviet summer camp in July 2011.
You see, Mihaela, even at the age of 11, had already done the math. She had nowhere to go when her time at the orphanage was up ... and she knew it. It's hard to feel loved when the idea of what we call a family is something she could only read about in a book. So, six months ago through Justice and Mercy International, my wife and I began sponsoring this incredibly beautiful girl who rarely, if ever, smiled.
Today, as I walked down a hallway of the school on the campus of the orphanage, I was stopped by some orphan boys who I'd recognized from trips past. As we swapped hugs and hellos, a fellow student must have gone ahead of us and evidently had told Mihaela that I was on the campus.
I looked up and what I saw was breathtaking.
It's true, no angels sung. No bright light ran through the snow covered window. Even still, what stopped my heart was that this girl with sad eyes was now walking quickly toward me not only smiling, but with her smile came a new countenance. Her face had literally changed since I last looked upon it six months ago.
You can fake a smile. We've all done it. What you can't fake is joy, especially when it's sprung forth from a heart which has a new song in it. Why? Because our great God, the perfect Father to the fatherless, promises that hope does not disappoint.
For the next fifteen minutes I sat on her bed gathering every word I could find to try and explain to her how much she was loved by my family. For the next fifteen minutes, as I spoke, she smiled and she never stopped smiling. No not once did she stop smiling.
I sat on Mihaela's bed giving her clothes, shoes, and other gifts from my wife and our boys. I told her that because the love of God was alive in us, we wanted to love her, and that as long as I was alive on this earth, she'd never again have to worry about her future, nor was she going to have to worry about whether or not she was going to make it. I told her that my family was her family, and we were going to make sure that her future was secure.
She smiled. And so did her eyes.
by Jason Cruise
No doubt we all, every single one, go through times of incredible angst. Like acid reflux of the attitude, we have those days where things start out bad only to get worse. Sometimes those bad days turn into weeks, and even sometimes more, they can turn into a season where a reason to smile is all but impossible to invent.
Serve the Lord with gladness ... Psalm 100:2
No person is exempt from a dry season, but friend do understand this: a dry season in the life of a follower of Jesus the Christ should be but an exception in your life and not the norm. As a believer in the risen Christ, you of all persons should know of the deep riches of His grace, His benefits for those ransomed by His own blood, and of the tangible power that is reserved only for those grafted into His family tree.
There is nothing mortal about the Giver of your salvation, therefore no mortal can take it from you. If no mortal can steal your eternal security, then why give mortals the ability to feed upon your daily bread which is not theirs to feast?
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Why? Because you can.
The Power Of Partnerships.
by Jason Cruise
Be imitators of God ... but among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
Therefore do not be partners with them... be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise. (Ephesians 5:2-15)
How do you turn a battleship?
The answer is easy: constant pressure on a small rudder. Over time pressure wins even though it must turn a massive vessel.
It's not just true in matters of faith, it's true in every area of life: you eventually adopt the mentality of the people around you. Why? Because the people closest to your heart and mind simply shape your way of thinking.
It's the word "partners" that stops me cold. Holiness is forever tied to the power of your partnerships. What you choose to watch on TV, or listen to in music, is your entertainment partner. Who you choose to read is your life-philosophy partner, because you are allowing them to shape your thoughts. All of it matters, because you are giving those authors, producers, as well as those colleagues, friends, and golf partners the precious asset of your mind. Holiness matters because what you value ultimately drives your decisions.
An unrighteous partnership will always cloud your ability to discern truth from error. Which is why Paul tells us to live "not as unwise but as wise." Wise men guard their influences with a holy tenacity because they deeply desire to be tenaciously holy.
Jason Cruise is the founder of Mission. Mission was created to "vindicate the fatherless" in a country known as Moldova. To learn more go to www.themissionvision.net Jason is a well known speaker traveling across the country sharing his love for Christ at wildgame dinners and conferences. Jason has created many valuable resources for the outdoorsmen to take them deeper into their walk with their Creator. These items include DVD's, Bibles, and Bible studies.