Wednesday, December 30, 2009
A few years ago, a friend from church gave us a little self-assessment entitled, "10 Questions to ask to make sure you're still growing." I thought it would serve as a good self-awareness tool to help us do a year in review of our own lives. Here, at the end of 2009,
1. Are you more thirsty for God than ever before?
2. Are you more and more loving?
3. Are you more sensitive to and aware of God than ever before?
4. Are you governed more and more by God's Word?
5. Are you concerned more and more with the physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual needs of others?
6. Are you more and more concerned with the Church and the Kingdom of God?
7. Are the disciplines of the Christian life more and more important to you?
8. Are you more and more aware of your sin?
9. Are you more and more willing to forgive others?
10. Are you thinking more and more of heaven and of being with Jesus?
Am I more like Jesus than I was a year ago? How might I order my life in 2010 to give God access and permission for spiritual growth?
May God richly bless your life in 2010 with more of Himself in your life!
Monday, December 28, 2009
I've approached this in a variety of ways. A few years ago, I read through cover to cover. Other times, I have spent one month in an OT book and the next month in one or two NT books. One year, I worked through a big ol' commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Sometimes I'll be reading a book that has several Scripture references that I'll look up and spend time with. Now and then, I will hear a speaker give a talk on a particular passage of Scripture, and it will prompt me to read through that book of the Bible. Lately, I've had the desire to read through Acts, so that is what I'm currently doing.
What I do know is that I have to be intentional. I can go periods where I'm reading a lot of other books and not reading the Bible much. God has prompted me to fast from time to time from other books just so that I'll get my nose back in the Bible. When I look back at my life, the times I've experienced God's power and His Spirit the most are when I'm immersed in His Word...soaking my soul in it. I need a huge and straight-up diet of His powerful, life-changing Word in my life.
How about you? How do you go about reading the Bible?
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
What is something you do to help keep Christ the center of Christmas and to help make the holiday more meaningful?
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Toward the end of the movie, when the war is almost over, he finds himself able to go into a decimated church with 3 fellow prisoners, and he briefly gets to share his thoughts with them, saying,
"I've been thinking what Christ will mean in the future. We'll need a new form of Christianity in a time when the world has come of age. I think there's only one purpose of religion in a modern world where people must come and share each other's suffering and share the suffering of God in a Godless world. We'll need more than just religion in the former sense. We need faith and Jesus Christ at its center."
And then he was off to Flossenburg where he was hanged with less than a month until WW II was officially over. A doctor who witnessed his execution said that in all his years, he'd never seen someone walk so composed and bravely to his death, completely submissive to the will of God. A few other quotes from Bonhoeffer:
"To endure the cross is not tragedy; it is the suffering which is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ."
"To deny oneself is to be aware only of Christ and no more of self, to see only Him who goes before and no more the road which is too hard for us."
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
If you've never seen or heard John Perkins, I invite you to click on the link above and listen to even the last 15 minutes of the video. You'll get just a taste of the man who founded CCDA and who is a prophetic voice in our world today.
If you'd like to see or hear more from Christian Community Development, you can go to www.ccda.org and download or watch several keynote speakers from the past several years of CCDA conferences.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Joni Hansen saw a need and did something about it. She knew that our community's homeless often have no where to go throughout the daytime. They can get a meal at the Catholic Worker House and Salvation Army, but neither place allows for those without a home to be there during the day. Even the public library put a limit of an hour stay recently, as the library was finding people spending their entire days inside their walls, especially in cold weather.
At the end of October, Joni met with a few friends to share her burden and vision. Two weeks later, they had rented a house at 1003 Mulberry St. in Waterloo and began a 6 week effort to paint walls, get new carpet, and make the house look warm and inviting. This Tuesday, December 15, the Cedar Valley Hospitality House will open its doors from 9-4 each day of the week to offer day-time hospitality to those who are homeless in our area. People can get a warm cup of coffee, take a shower, wash their clothes, make local phone calls, go on-line. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, a light lunch will be prepared for guests.
George and Judy Marshall and myself went to the open house at 1003 Mulberry today. I met Joni and some others involved in the effort and got a tour of the Hospitality House. Joni mentioned her vision for this to be an inter-faith effort. The team is currently seeking volunteer hosts to staff the hospitality house each day during a morning shift from 9:00-12:30 or an afternoon shift from 12:30-4:00 p.m. There will always be two volunteer hosts each shift. If you're interested in volunteering, please contact Sue Dean at 236-0455 or Rose Quirk at 232-3177.
Where is God at work in the world and how can you be part of it?
"The Global Missions Health Conference (GMHC) has answered that question hundreds of different ways for thousands of different people over the past 12 years.
Attend the GMHC and you’ll hear stories of service to those in need.
You will learn about effective community change.
You can attend workshops about current field work best practices, and network with other people just like you.
You can share innovative ideas for health care professionals and students to use their medical skills to make more disciples of Christ in the United States and throughout the world.”
The conference was held in Louisville, KY on Nov 12-14 this year. Next year it is scheduled for Nov. 11-13, 2010.
The Global Missions Health Conference is a way to bring Christian healthcare professionals and students together to network with missions and ministry experts. More than 2,000 people attend. Anyone seeking opportunities in short-term and long-term medical missions or a medical missionary looking for partners, the conference gathers together Christians from all areas of health ministry around the world. It was a wonderful place to be inspired, learn, and network.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
1. Helps generate untapped resources that already exist in local churches to meet needs both within and outside of the church.
2. Screens request for help as to nature, extent, and legitimacy.
3. Helps prevent church duplication of existing services already available in the community.
4. Discovers if those requesting assistance are already receiving help from other churches or agencies. The Love INC screening process ensures legitimate needs are met.
5. Provides long-term, self-help solutions for those who are chronically in need or have multiple needs.
6. Enables churches to assist those outside of their own congregation and be good stewards of church resources.
7. Helps prevent churches from building dependency in those they assist by discovering and solving problems at the root level.
8. Helps the church to “own” its ministry to those in need, since Love INC is a Clearinghouse to assist churches to reach out.
9. Helps provide specific, manageable opportunities for churches to reach out with God’s love to people in need.
10. Lessens the burden of any one church by increasing the use of volunteers to meet legitimate needs and rotating assistance among network churches. Love INC is cost-effective.
11. Offers a unified witness of God’s love to the community as Christian churches work together in the Name of Christ.
12. Offers a proven, replicable model that can be easily translated in new communities. Love INC has an established track record in cities of all sizes.
Any thoughts from you as you read through this list?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
In your experience, what gaps in services and resources do you know of in our community?
- Churches want to minister and reach out.
- Needs that are specific , manageable, and legitimate net the most effective results for volunteers and recipients alike.
- A consistent follow-up process helps church leaders, staff of community agencies, and those in need evaluate the helping process.
- Churches will work together when the shared focus is ministering to people instead of denominational affiliation, race, economic base, or location.
- More than money, the core of effective Christian ministry within the community is building relationships with people. Christian caring penetrates to the roots of people’s need for self-respect, confidence, living skills, friendship, and hope.
- Using the Love INC model to provide volunteer time, skills, and material resources costs a congregation and community far less than equivalent services provided through agencies.
- Pastors and agencies value the support of Love INC’s screening and placement services. Eliminates chronic over-users, non-legitimate requests, and unnecessary duplication of care options.
- Ministering to those in need is an integral element of evangelism.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
I've been pondering this question lately...considering the old world order of my life and the new kingdom order that I believe Jesus continues to call me into as his follower.
I ask questions like, if I really believe seeking reconciliation and justice are foundational and Scriptural mandates, how does my life reflect them? Do I believe all Christ-followers are called to reconciliation and justice (making things right), or do I believe that God only calls a select group to be about them? Do I largely continue on in my old world order and try to sprinkle a little reconciliation and justice work in on the side, or is God challenging me to consider how I've set up my life and what I could do to re-order it in such a way that the whole of my life reflects Christ's work of reconciliation and justice?
I think I'm getting why most missional material I'm reading these days, along with ccda components, hammer on relationships, relocation, incarnation, joining with. Without this lifestyle change, this re-ordering, the old world set-up will win out everytime in our schedules and priorities. Without the re-ordering, we end up keeping distance, and we generally don't reconcile or change the make-up of our circles very much. And when we end up keeping reconciliation at a distance, justice generally doesn't come about much.
I am aware that if I consider reconciliation and justice as "side dishes", then I will likely only get so far missionally before I get stuck. It's kind of the I'm-willing-to-do-this-much-but-then-I've-got-to-get-back-to-my-real-life-and-responsibilities kind of mode. But because we've set up how we do "real life" and how we do church in daily ways that largely ignore the poor and generally don't include people very different from us, then we will continue along without genuinely coming together to know one another and share life together.
So, I ask myself lots of questions. Where is my time spent? To what end? What am I hoping to produce? In the order of my life right now, how much of the activity leads my heart into God's love and heart for people, for reconciliation, for justice? How much of my life helps lead my children's lives into God's values of reconciliation and justice? How much do I self-protect? How and why do I keep distance? If I'm too busy elsewhere, is the substance of that busyness leading myself and others into being people of reconciliation and justice? Where is the current order and set-up taking me? It's a strange question, but I keep asking myself lately, "what am I breeding?" All questions to help me listen to my life and seek to stay in step with the Spirit of God.
Some good Scriptures for me in the questions and the steps forward:
Psalm 25:4-5 Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.
Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O Lord, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.2 Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
"New wine has to go in new wine skins. We have to be bold enough to create new structures for this harvest season."
"The Kingdom of God is multi-lingual, multi-racial, and multi-ethnic. I suspect then, that we should worship together, work together, live together."
"What's wrong with this picture? We have a sense that something's not right...."
- programs don't fix it.
- service does not equal empowerment.
- doing church does not equal empowerment.
- proximity does not equal community.
"Servanthood is not what we want. Partnership is what we want."
"The Gospel of community is key."
"There needs to be someone who is tending and intentional and identifying the gifts of each person in the village. A community chaplain who is building community, promoting love of God and neighbor, someone who is helping to make visible the invisible kingdom (Colossians 1:15)"
During lunch, Bob was telling our table how he met with some experts to ask them how to retard the inevitable institutionalization of a program or structure because they ultimately become about self-preservation. The experts told him three things:
1. Don't hire staff. They become dependent on their paychecks.
2. Don't acquire property.
3. Let go and give away as much and as often as you can...(properties, titles, positions, etc..)
So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.
And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?
What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
Welcome to Advent Conspiracy."
This quote is on the home page of http://www.adventconspiracy.org/. Check it out. Also, check out http://www.rethinkingchristmas.com/ and find practical ways to increase meaningful giving at Christmas.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I served with my daughter on Saturday at Main Street Waterloo. While she and I were working to change out light bulbs on the big wreaths displayed on 4th Street, I found myself having conversation with a man who works on the design team for Main Street Waterloo. He asked me what I thought about the improvements downtown, and I told him that I really loved the brilliant magenta flower baskets that hung off the street lights all summer. The gentleman told me that it actually takes water everyday to keep them so vibrant, and that they pay an employee 4 hours daily to water them. I inquired if a job like that is ever given to someone who is under-resourced, and he replied that the person, of course, needs to be reliable, and that Main Street has learned some by trial and error with their hiring practices.
This conversation made me consider some questions. How many jobs are out there with easily attainable job skills that would offer work to those in poverty who need work? How can we connect these jobs and people? How can we work with people and walk with the under-resourced to help them become reliable, dependable workers and to grow in responsibility and excellence, relational intelligence, etc... Is there a way to become a liason between the job place and the employee to help improve the chances of success for the employee?
All of this would be relational work, but I haven't found an answer for development that isn't. And it's hard work that is not guaranteed. I have tried to do some of this in a relationship that I'm involved in, and my friend ended up not showing up for work several times and losing the job anyway.
All this to say that I just think there's no easy formula and that development work is going to require people getting involved with people. Programs won't transform...they might provide a structure or a resource that is helpful, but it will be life on life that will help a person build their capacity over time. I've discovered that the only thing I think is guaranteed is that it will be a messy journey. I only have to look at the areas of my life where I desire "capacity building" and change to recognize the familiar zigzag pattern in a life.
So, is there a hopeful word at the end of this post? Yes, two. Jesus. Thanks be to God for His good news of rescue and redemption and grace and lifechanging power through Jesus. And people. Thanks to people who are hard at the work of mentoring and sharing in life with people who need this this kind of a hand up.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I'd love for you to comment on how your heart and mind and life may have been challenged.
Certainly, asking God to grow our hearts and lives in compassion isn't something we'll now shelve until Challenges for the Heart '10, so my prayer is that God will continue us along this adventure of compassion together so that the world will better know the love of Jesus, and so that we might all truly be reconciled and made whole through Christ.
This blog will continue along with some musings along the missional way. Feel free to continue reading along...and I love company, so please join in the conversation and share your thoughts as well!