Monthly Archives: October 2012

Chapter Four – The Towering Pillars of Compassion and Justice

“God saw through their veneer of religiosity.”

Did it take you a bit longer to get through this chapter? It did me. It was one I stepped lightly through instead of one continual read. I kept having to stop and think, “how am I doing here?” Or I’d find myself lost in thought over a particular concept. I love this stuff.

A few things that really caught my attention (although there was a lot of underlining happening here). This concept of Action. Tangible Action. “Doing” – as I wrote beside quite a few scripture passages. And promises.

Doing – The Israelite nation who’s prayers were ignored by God at that time. Why? Because they were speaking, but not doing. But when we do God offers a promise. It’s a pattern that is consistent.

Do – “For this kind of kingdom community, a people whose actions demonstrate this level of authentic personal and social change…”

Promise – Isaiah 58: 10-11(ish) – “he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Being somewhere that has experienced a drought this hits home (none like other parts of the world, but we certainly got a taste).

Jesus encouraged he was the Messiah by pointing to tangible evidence. He was doing – and b/c of it that was his encouragement.

Two quotes that I have underlined and starred multiple time that for me offers a hope and a realistic expectation that I can certainly accomplish – along with one that offers conviction and the motivation to keep growing in this area.

Hope: “I only propose that a genuine concern ‘for the least of these’ that finds tangible expression must be woven into the pattern of their lives and faith.”

Motivation (altered Rich’s words to make it a personal question): “Will Christ find evidence of my genuine concern for His beloved poor when He looks at the fruit of my life on that day? Further, what might He be calling me to do today?”

Can I work into our budget another $35 to sponsor another kiddo from Hosean International Ministries (HIM)? Yeah. I can. B/c the 10 times I’m too lazy to cook and instead go out to eat junk? That’s meals for a MONTH plus school plus healthcare that a kiddo could have. I have been reminded over and over that what we give that seems so small God can multiply. I was looking through pictures of my good friend’s trip to Africa last year. He is the director of HIM. He was asked to travel through Africa to do some seminars and preaching/teaching/encouragement to pastors throughout the country. Giving a little to HIM and God multiplies it farther than we could even imagine.

Can one more pair of shoes from Target that I buy myself have the same impact? Not likely.

What are tangible ideas that you have?

And can someone please also start the discussion on the AMAZING story of the World Vision’s Children of War Center? B/c that gave me goosebumps.

 

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Chapter 3 – One Thing You Lack

I ended this chapter with tears in my eyes. I was incredibly moved by Rich’s story and by his heart. Walking away and this concept of him trying to run away only to find God waiting there. Even in running he must have had a sensitive heart toward this. Although God certainly was shouting!

The part of the story where he was offered the CEO job of the biggest tableware company in the world AND being 10% owner in it – and ultimately the connection with World Vision, etc… it blew me away. Would it have been hard for you to walk away? Because I sit and wonder if I could have, and pray I could have. God reminds me to show myself grace b/c if I am striving to be that individual at least I am mindful and working towards becoming who He wants me to be.

Two other areas that really stuck out to me.
1. This quote: “I don’t believe Jesus was saying that all of us have to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. No, Jesus was looking into the heart of this particular young man, and He saw that he had not relinquished his life unconditionally.” – It is somewhat of a relief and I love to see it written out. Even know I believe that I think in the back of my mind there’s still all of these pictures of people and Bible stories, etc of those who have sold it all. God uses what we have, and He calls us all in different ways.

2. This concept of the “prosperity gospel” – the belief that God rewards faithful and sincere Christians with success, good health, and material prosperity. I know all of these things are not to be assumed – but I’m just curious as to what you all think about that??

(Also, total side note- Is anyone else interested in taking the lead on any chapters? I can but don’t want to dominate this thing since we’re all doing it together).

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Chapter Two – A Coward for God

I both loved and somewhat despised this chapter if I am to be honest. I loved it because I thought it screamed something that God desperately wants us to know, “I am not a God of condemnation and to show you this I’ll let you know that you are not alone.” Here is a guy who leads World Vision for goodness sakes – and he was curled up in a ball in his pajamas, bawling, and fighting God because he:

  • Wasn’t qualified
  • Didn’t know anything about poverty
  • Didn’t want to commit career suicide
  • Was making a lot of money
  • Liked his car
  • Liked his house
  • Needed to put his kids through college
  • Didn’t want to experience poverty, slums, dying children
  • Was scared

Sound familiar? I am not alone. However, did you notice who won? Yes, Rich absolutely could have said “No.” He would have went back to his huge house and new Jaguar and made a lot of money – perhaps. What angst fighting God caused. But what joy saying “yes” brought.

Here’s what made me cringe,

“Are you willing to be open to God’s will for your life?… God was asking me this day to choose. He was challenging me to decide what kind of disciple I was willing to be. Two decades earlier I had “bet the farm” on Jesus Christ, and now He was asking me to hand over the deed. What was the most important thing in my life?”

I made the commitment. Could I hand over the deed? What is the most important thing in my life? I want to say it is that commitment. I feel like I need to be getting ready. What can I do to prepare my heart, my life, my faith, my actions NOW to where I’m standing at the ready in case God calls? It is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. And something I’m putting a lot of thought into. I have been praying that God make painfully obvious areas of my life I need work in. This is one of them. I feel like I need to get a little bit uncomfortable. I am planning a trip to Haiti – oh my goodness, I said it out loud. I have made it public. I’m looking at dates in 2013. I guess this serves as accountability – I should act on that. But is there more? Maybe what I consider to be little but could mean life or death – Do I need to also sponsor another child?

What about you? Do you think you are being called to take action in one area or another? Big or little, what are some ideas you have?

~Tiffany

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Chapter 1. To Serve, noun.

Of course, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I’m reading this book and the past two sermons by my pastor have been titled “Love” and “Serve.” Serve (n) –one definition of the word reads “an act of helpful activity; help; aid: to do someone a service.” An act of helpful activity – we have so many options.

To serve is to do. God commands our service. There are some things I love to do: baking for my family, selecting the perfect gift for someone, taking on additional work for a struggling co-worker, or even an anonymous donation to someone in need. These things are easy for me. Going to Haiti to install water purifiers, even just a day trip to Mexico to spend time with orphans terrifies me.  I like being comfortable, let me just write a check and let someone else go. Ouch – I think the lightning just struck.

I know this is not what God wants, but I can’t seem to conquer my fear. Question 1: Do you have fears of service? I know God wants more from me. Just like God wanted more from our author.

The comment Mr. Stearns makes on the last page of the chapter I think is my biggest challenge and maybe yours too, “getting what I knew in my head into my heart and out to my hands and feet was the challenge.” Back to that word – serve. Question 2: What does God expect of us (Christians in general)? Question 3: In what areas do you think we are living up to His expectations and in what areas do you think we aren’t?

One additional thought. Question 4: Does service start in the home? This comment made by Mr. Stearns also struck a nerve with me, “When we are living out our faith with integrity and compassion in the world, God can use us to give others a glimpse of His love and character.” This is what I want to do, to be, and I thought I was. Question 5: How do I do this in the world when my own child doesn’t see this in me? (And I know that it’s God who works in his heart.)

One more quote to leave you with as we continue our journey together:

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

~ Kim.

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Intro and Prologue. Rich comes out swinging.

I know we technically start next week with Chapter 1, but as I found myself getting back into this book and reading through the Introduction and Prologue I realized that even in these beginnings I am challenged and motivated and yes, moved to tears. With many of you expressing to me that you’ve begun reading The Hole In Our Gospel and that you are excited about it I thought we could start discussing even this. I don’t know about you but I’m learning a lot about me – even the 2nd time around.

I love that the very beginning of this book challenges us on our foundation. What is our foundation that we build our perspectives off of? What is the lens that we view not only the world through but our part in the world?

The Johnny Cash lyric, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good” made me stop and think. I am really focused a lot on personal growth and development. Am I any earthly good? Am I making a conscious choice to be earthly good?

It continued in my thoughts as Rich challenged us, “When we committed ourselves to following Christ, we also committed to living our lives in such a way that a watching world would catch a glimpse of God’s character…” Do I truly know God’s character? What do the people I know who don’t share the same beliefs as me – what do they know about God through me? Not what do they know about ME, but about the creator whom I claim to serve? I can answer what I hope they know, but honestly, I’ve never thought to ask. Do I even have the guts to ask?? Am I scared of the answer?

Have you ever asked?

And then comes along little Richard who lives in Rakai, Uganda. Thankfully Rich knows through his own experience how easy it is for me to check out when times get tough. When I am faced with little kids like Richard who at 13 is raising his two brothers, watched his parents die of AIDS, walks past their graves every day… well I have done so many times in the past what Rich did. “When such things intruded, as they rarely did, a channel could be changed, a newspaper page turned, or a check written to keep the poor at a safe distance.”

How did he know? How did he know it’s what I wanted to do? What I have done? Kids dying in India and the man in the pulpit is so passionate about it preaching and sharing. Well, I write a check. I’ve done my part. And walk out of the sanctuary, satisfied that I’ve done my part.

I am LOVING that Rich doesn’t allow it. Who among those that I live life with sees that check (or even knows that) and attributes it to the character of who the living God is? Rich does NOT allow me to check the box and ease my conscious. Dang, again, this book simply won’t allow it. And while it hurts to be faced with my own reality of who I am, what I have done (or not done), and if it is enough – it is necessary.

I did a google image search of rakai uganda. It brought the message home. Images filled with little Rich’s. It can be haunting, and maybe should be. Images filled with little Rich’s who stake their claim on a Jesus they love. Who “love to read the book of John, because it says that Jesus loves the children.”

Gah. That’s the Jesus he loves. Do I? Yeah. I do. So, what am I going to do about it? If through me people know God’s character, do they know how much He loves the children?

There are so many questions that even while I know the answers, they are so hard to type out and it’s because I don’t like the answers. Here’s the great thing about grace, I’ve got time to change them. And in the course of it all, hopefully change a few lives too.

What about you? Was there anything that stopped you in your tracks? That you liked? Or didn’t? Agreed with or not? Let’s discuss!

*Photo credit Lightstalkers.org

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