As Christians so often we are known for the behaviors and causes we oppose. But do our Facebook friends and communities really know what we are for?
Here’s part of our problem: We are told that when we give to God we should give in secret. We also want to follow Jesus, who was a portrait of humility. So…much of what Christians do to serve others flies beneath radar. But sometimes we work as a team. And as a team leader I want to give a shout out to the team and not just tell, but show how our Community Connection Team made a difference in someone’s life.
One of our team members is a physical therapist. As we considered who we wanted to help on our next Saturday of Service he gave us the name of a disabled widow who lived in the basement of her home because her leg had become so bad that she could no longer access the main floor. She wants to move to assisted living but doesn’t have the help she needs to prepare her home for sale so she could make the move.
On a bright, cool Saturday morning about 25 of us gathered to help prepare this home for sale. We rented a big blue pod and began filling it with boxes of trash.
Lent, Triumphal Entry…days teaching and healing in the temple, final words to his disciples, crucifixion and today…resurrection. In this season of reflection and entering into the story of how Jesus loved, died and lives again I close my Bible and whisper…this is exactly who I want my God to be. From my thanksgiving journal…Thank you Jesus that…
…you ride into town… the king on a donkey… the lion-like lamb
…you throw the money changers out of the temple..the lamb-like lion
…you challenge the chief priests, scribes and elders with such courage–in the temple day after day, healing and teaching and disputing with them in what they think is their house. Telling the Sadducees to their faces, “You are quite wrong.” Always respectful. Always brilliant. Again and again they challenge you and fall quiet at your knowledge of truth and Scripture and your ability to intellectually thrust and parry.
Please join me in spreading this video and Brooke’s story within your circle of influence. And praying for women to be set free. Also, please pray for Brooke as she stands against powers of great darkness.
When Brooke was seven her Mom, Mollie, was hospitalized with a severe reaction to environmental poisoning. Her Dad traveled extensively for his business so they decided to put their two sons and Brooke in the care of a series of nannies.
One, a seminary student they thought they could trust, repeatedly sexually abused Brooke, even trafficked her to other men, as she recalled in a piece titled “What I Know of Silence,” written for an anthology of women’s writing in 2012. She was so ashamed it was years before she shared her experience with her family.
Last night, after a clip by President Obama on the subject of violence against women, Brooke briefly shared her story of another, more recent episode of sexual abuse by her boyfriend.
We who follow Jesus have a high calling. And often a high privilege of telling others about him and his way of life, equipping or simply encouraging them on their journey. But we are all sinners, desperately in need of God’s saving grace. So when our lives haven’t aligned with the way of Jesus how do we decide if we still should speak (or write) about following Jesus in that way?
For example, How can we best honor Jesus and speak with integrity to our children about sexual purity if we were not sexually pure?
Or should we counsel and minister to other couples about how to have a strong marriage if we’ve struggled in our marriage or been separated or divorced? What if we’ve committed adultery?
Should we counsel others on how to help their children love and follow Jesus when our children have not followed him? Do we have anything to say? Should we keep silent? If not, how might we speak with integrity?
I probably have as many questions as answers on this so I’d love for you to think and engage with me on this topic…even give me your advice.
Another beheading. More Christians raped, murdered and fleeing ISIS in terror. The enemy wants us to feel powerless. Hunker down. Circle the wagons.
But Jesus always calls us to something richer and life-giving, even in the midst of death. After we’ve written a check, after we’ve gathered in our churches and prayed for our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, after we’ve signed petitions…then what? What can we actually DO in a hands on way?
With earthly love, often what you experience at first is not so much love, but what author Lauren Winner calls ‘ego blast.’ You are excited that someone so great is into you! But until you come to appreciate his beauty it isn’t really love, it’s using someone for your own gain.
In the same way, in our relationship with the Lord, we first long for what he can give us–salvation from hell, relief from suffering, material provisions…Jonathan Edwards reflected that religious people find God useful, but Christians find God beautiful.–Dee Brestin, Idol Lies
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What a relief. God never labels me a Loser. He never dismisses me. Writes me off. Withdraws from relationship.
But it is one of the Holy Spirit’s jobs to convict us all of sin. And we’ve all felt his sharp elbows in our guilty little ribs. So what is the difference here? How can we live the difference between conviction that brings a proper response to the grave reality of our sin without getting sucked out to sea in an undertow of self-condemnation and regret?
Not so long ago…if someone phoned you and you didn’t answer…they just called you back.
Then, If someone emailed you…you responded within a day or two. All was well.
Then came instant messenger and Facebook messaging. We see you are logged in on Facebook so we kind of expect you to respond…
Then came a river of tweets rushing by…I know you’re always checking your feed…Tweet me back!
Then came texting. Immediate. In the moment commentary. Can you believe that touchdown?! And this:
Now there is a demanding expectation. Answer me, dang it!
(“Best of” blog)
After months of transition, job search, selling a home, finding a home, a month of waiting for the new home sale to close, we have finally, actually, irrevocably MOVED.
What seemed so daunting and risky and unknown has become, step by step, reality. Actually, God is in the business of moving us all from HERE to THERE. And as Bill Hybels pointed out at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last week: the essence of leadership is to lead people from HERE, the current reality, to THERE, the much preferred future.
Is your brain like a German autobahn with lots of slick, European sports-car thoughts…zooming in out of nowhere…inspiring…creating…(distracting)? Creativity is a joy to give away–writing, cooking, festive table settings, gardening, crafts, ministry projects, lesson preps—all these rich gifts God has given us. But there’s a downside too.
(“Best of” blog)
It’s high graduation season—the time when Valedictorians and VIPs rifle their mental files for Something Significant to say about new beginnings and the quest for the good life. A couple of years ago on our radio program The Things That Matter Most I interviewed Dallas Willard about how we can live a successful life.
The interview began with questions about an essay in Atlantic Monthly. Journalist Joshua Wolf Shenk was allowed access to the archives of The Grant study, a long range Harvard research project that asked, What Makes us Happy? What should one do to live a successful life?