Good news: 13-year-old donates toys to hospital

For six years, a 13-year-old Columbus, Ohio, boy has been raising money to buy toys to give away at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. This year, Caleb Silvia raised $5,000 to buy 500 toys for those who are hospitalized at Christmas.

Caleb, who founded Caleb Cares 4 Kids, which is an Ohio nonprofit LLC,  knows what it’s like to experience hospital smells and lie in a hospital bed. For Caleb, his fundraising and helping others is personal.

When Caleb was 2-years-old, he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Kawasaki Disease and spent time at Nationwide where he recalls the toy cart. Although he’s been free of the disease for years now, he recalls what it’s like to be in the hospital.

At 8 years of age, Caleb decided to donate some toys to the children in the hospital at Christmas. Now, his efforts have grown. Recently, Caleb and his family brought two vans overflowing with toys. They were met at the door by hospital employees who helped load up the carts and distribute the toys.

Says Caleb, “The ability to give back to a place close to my heart … it’s just something I feel passionate about.”

 

Would you give up giving gifts this Christmas?

“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world”— 1 John 2:16 (ESV).

http://theconversation.com

Why all the Christmas stuff? We haven’t had Thanksgiving yet!”

You might expect these words from an adult who has become disenfranchised with the commercialism of Christmas. However, I overhead a boy, approximately 12-years-old, make this statement several weeks before Thanksgiving. I was attending a local charity event where some of the vendors had their booths stuffed with Christmas gifts and décor. While I tend to agree with the youngster, I understand the purpose of these events.

What I don’t like is seeing Christmas merchandise on display in businesses before the calendar reveals it is still September. I understand the “why.” However, I don’t have to like it.

What the polls say

A recent “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” story headline touted the following: “Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say they’d give up gift-giving this holiday season. Would you?”

According to the news article, a recent Harris Poll survey revealed that “69 percent of Americans said they would.”

The online U.S. poll, conducted over a three-day period, included responses from 2, 158 American adults, ages 18 and older, with 1,986 respondents saying they spend money on holiday-related items. However, 43 percent of those polled said “they feel pressured to buy gifts and spend more money than they can afford.”

The poll also revealed that with “the extra time and money saved by eliminating gift-giving, 60 percent of Americans said they’d spend more time with loved ones, 47 percent would save money or invest it, 37 percent would pay down debt and 25 percent said they would use the money on activities with friends and family.”

We are the Hands and Feet of Jesus

“When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality”—Romans 12:13 (NLT).

https://thebreakthrough.org

Newspaper photos, social media posts and live TV coverage depicted the devastation. Those viewing the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey could only imagine what the Texas victims were experiencing. For those of us who have experienced the aftermath of a hurricane, the reality is familiar.

However, anyone who has either viewed or experienced a disaster like this is familiar with the sacrifices of those who respond to the call for help. As responders poured into the southeastern Texas areas hardest hit, I marveled once again, not only at the sight of trained rescue workers, but the volunteers who leave their jobs, homes and family to provide assistance to those affected by the flooding.

Stories continue to reveal those moments when all hope seemed lost. Then, someone who refused to give up, showed up and answered the call for help.

I listened to TV coverage as victims and rescuers were interviewed. One man, a volunteer rescuer, paraphrased 1 John 3:17, which states, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

We Are One in Christ Jesus

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus”—Galatians 3:28(NLT).

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The video of the speeding car slamming into a crowd of protesters left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Three died, including two police officers. More than 30 were injured in a Virginia riot on August 12.

Immediately after the event, people took to social media, pointing fingers. Too many, including Christians, began to assign blame for what happened. First, let me say as a former school teacher that pointing your finger doesn’t solve problems. A relevant adage reminds the pointer that three more fingers are pointing back at you. Jesus reminds us of the same.

Matthew 7:5 tells us, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

We’re all to blame if we haven’t followed the teachings of Jesus. If we treat others with contempt, we’re mistreating a person created in God’s image. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination dishonor the work of Christ on the cross.

What Can Unity Accomplish?

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”—Psalm 133:1(NIV).

unityoffortmyers.org

These people are not drowning today!” This thought entered Jessica Simmons’ mind when she watched as six members of a single family struggled after a powerful riptide had swept them away at a Panama City Beach.

Others had tried to reach the family in trouble, but each previous rescue attempt left more people stranded. A lifeguard was not on duty. A rescue boat had not yet arrived. People began to use boogie boards, surf boards and their arms and legs to attempt a rescue.

When someone shouted, “Form a human chain,” five people volunteered, followed by 10 more. Then dozens more joined as the rescue mission grew increasingly desperate. Simmons and her husband, Derek, swam past the 80 or so human link and headed for the stranded swimmers. The couple managed to reach the children first, passing them via the human chain toward the beach.

Nearly an hour later, through the efforts of the growing human chain, linked together with wrists, legs and arms, the last of the 10 stranded swimmers were rescued. One of the adults rescued said, “It actually showed me there are good people in this world.”

Whether all of the rescuers that day were believers or not, their selfless act should be an example to everyone. Through their unified actions, 10 people are still alive.

Finding the Best during the Worst of Times

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”—Isaiah 41:10 (NIV).

 

compendium.co

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

So begins “A Tale of Two Cities,” written by Charles Dickens, a prolific British author. Published in 1859, this historical novel takes place during the French Revolution. If you reread Dickens’ opening paragraph, you might think he was describing today’s world.

In a sermon by Pastor John Piper, he said, “The same is true today: It is the best of times and the worst of times. Perhaps this is true at every point in the history of a God-ruled, sin-pervaded world. It was true in 1859, and it is true today.”

He will not leave you or forsake you.

Since the beginning of creation and the fall of Adam and Eve, our world has been defined by the best of times and the worst of times. As the author of Ecclesiastes wrote in the first chapter, verse nine, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Recently, a 14-year-old Owasso, Okla., student, J.J. Willis, made the news with a poem he wrote and recorded inside his mother’s minivan where it was quiet. The poem was inspired by the current political atmosphere stirring up hateful arguments—even among Christians—across social media.

In his video, Willis said “We’re all proud and arrogant, and we believe we’re always right. Things should be different.”

Can We Give Better Gifts?

The perfect gift is that He gave His only Son.

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had” – Acts 4:32 (NIV).

sharing-the-gospel-with-your-children

www.focusonthefamily.com

Three words at the top of a brightly colored advertising insert in my daily newspaper captured my attention. “Give better gifts.”

The insert was only one of 25 stuffed inside to lure customers into shopping Black Friday sales. Retrieving the heavier-than-usual newspaper off my driveway on Thanksgiving Day reminded me that Christmas isn’t far off and I’d better get busy shopping. However, I abhor crowds so I tossed the advertisements in the trash.

I’m not opposed to saving money when shopping. However, I have come to detest the commercialism now associated with a sacred Christian holiday. Recent TV commercials and a story in the business section of the newspaper several days before Thanksgiving made me want to cheer. Many businesses are refusing to open on Thanksgiving so that their employees can spend the day of gratitude with their families.

Gifts of our time and our presence are better than any store-bought gift.

One company has gone one step further by announcing for the second year in a row that they will be closed on Black Friday. In fact, according to the article, they are not offering any Black Friday deals online or otherwise. REI, a national outdoor retail co-op, is dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Passionate about the outdoors, the company is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.