one thing we can do to love our needy world

I refinished my kitchen table and chairs last week. And one night while waiting on my paint to dry, I watched a video about the slaughter taking place in Syria. Slaughter of humans. While my paint dried. And I just sat there in a (hormonal) pile and cried over the chasm.

 

love God love others

 

True, God doesn’t call all of us to hop on a plane and fly to Africa. He doesn’t call all of us to enter the political arena and make laws or fight physical wars. Training up our kids in the ways of the Lord — pouring the love and truth of Jesus into their spirits day-in and day-out — is the call upon many of our lives in this day. And that’s a HUGE calling.

But I don’t want to live blind to the atrocities of earth. I don’t want to close my eyes to the pain of this world and think that someone else will pick up all the pieces. I want to be used-up, however my Father-God wills. Typed from my comfy seat at Starbucks while sipping a latte. Good grief. The chasm.

I don’t tell you this to heap guilt on your (or my) head. Guilt doesn’t motivate. Not for long, any way. The only thing — the only One — that motivates us to do world-shifting things is Jesus. Not because He has a finger pointed and a face scowling, but because of the opposite. His love and kindness delivered us. And when we dwell in the deep waters of redemption, eyes set on eternal things, we can’t help but be moved in compassion for a needy world. We can’t help but open our hands and loose our feet while saying, “Use me up for Your glory, Lord.”

 

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
1 John 3:17 – 3:18

 

All of this (slightly uncomfortable talk) makes me think about inspiring people like Kristen Welch. A couple of years ago I heard her speak for the first time. And what struck me was her normalcy. Her quiet spirit that wouldn’t, on the outset, appear to do things like shake nations and set captives free. Yet that’s what God is using her to do. “Just a simple family who said yes when God asked.” And in that saying “yes,” God has used the Welch family to help start Mercy House in Kenya and the Fair Trade Friday Club. A beautiful reminder that God uses normal, everyday humans to do soul-freeing, spirit-resurrecting, world-changing things when we say yes. Amazing.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, in addition to the emotional breakdown during my furniture painting, a couple of months ago I was asked to be a part of the Fair Trade Friday blogging team. And knowing what I know about Mercy House and the Welch family, I was totally honored to partner with them in telling the online world about this opportuntiy that you and I have — from right where we live — to help impoverished families across the world.

What is Fair Trade Friday?Fair Trade Friday is a monthly membership club that delivers high quality fair traded items to your door. The items in the box are fairly traded and provide employment to women all over the world. Plus, they are really cute!” Seriously. I personally joined, not because I had to as a part of the blogging team but because I wanted to. The items are beautiful and each come with a story to tell. You can find out more by clicking here.

 

fairtradefriday.club

 

Maybe fair trade shopping seems like a small thing to do when so much tragedy takes place across the planet. But it’s something. It’s a small something that you and I can do that provides a huge gift to families who were once without hope.

We’re only here on this earth for a vapor of time and we have some choices to make in this day. We have choices to make with our time, our actions, our thoughts, and our resources. In thinking of all the choices that we get to make today, I pray that we’re so full of the grace and love of our Maker, that we can’t help but make choices that pour out Jesus onto a needy, broken, hungry, bound-up world. Let’s keep running this faith race with endurance, sweet friends, eyes set on Him.

 

Some Easy Action Steps You Can Take Today

 

Oh and for the record, I still believe there’s a time and place for refinishing furniture. So for those who may be wondering, yes, my table and chairs turned out amazing.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How has God moved your own heart for our needy world lately?
 

3 Things for Christ-followers to Remember when Discussing Controversial Things

Wow. I’m apparently fully submersed in summer-ness which means that blogging has taken a back-back seat. Anyway, in efforts to dive right in because this post is longer than my norm, let’s talk about controversial things. Mmmm-k?

I don’t usually speak out about controversial things. In fact, unless specifically asked, I pretty much avoid controversial conversations because too often they end as heated discussions that leave relational battle scars. And since I’m a recovering people-pleaser, that makes me twitch.

But every once in a while a message burns in me and it seems that the only way for me to get it out is through words. So, after prayer and worship, I now type.

Three things for my fellow Christ-followers to remember before (and during) controversial conversations, both in-person and online. Oh, Facebook. How your drama makes me want to run away.

 

controversial things

 

  1. We vs. they verbiage breeds pride. We all do it. We have a “stance” about something and someone else doesn’t agree, so we draw harsh lines in the dirt. We vs. they. And then we start pointing and shouting and judging and demanding. I get it. We’re passionate about stuff. We believe with everything in us that we’re right and they’re wrong. But regardless of what’s ultimately true, regardless, “we vs. they” verbiage breeds pride.

    As I’ve thought more about it, it seems the more accurate verbiage for us as humans is us vs. HIM. Mere humans in relation to an almighty, holy, worthy, awesome, good God.

    I remembered that story in Joshua 5 when the angel approaches Joshua and Joshua asks, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” We vs. they. And the angel responds, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” God doesn’t pick human sides. He’s on His own side. His glory’s side. His love’s side. The question is, are we?

    Jesus came and walked this earth to usher in freedom and healing. He came to bring life and wholeness. He came to lead us into fulness of joy. He came to set captives free. And when His path crossed someone who was caught up in sin and idolatry, He didn’t speak condemnation. The world is already condemned. He spoke life and love. He said, “Come, follow Me. I’m the life you crave.”

    I want that to be my demeanor. I pray that I’m so full of Him that instead of shouting condemnation — that already lays heavy — I would declare the goodness of my God from the overflow of Him in me. Lord, help me.

    That said, there was one thing Jesus hated — despised. He despised hypocrisy. He hated when someone said they loved God with their lips while their heart was full of condemnation and pride. He hated it. And He spoke boldly to the people of God against this false understanding and representation of holiness.

    Everything is grace. Everything we know about God. Everything we are because of Jesus. Everything we overcome. Everything. So, fellow Jesus-follower, let’s remember from where we came and the grace that covers us. Not “we vs. they” but rather “us before HIM.”

  2.  

    “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.”
    1 Corinthians 13:1-3

     

    Whew. That was a mouth-full. Pressing on.

  3. The point is the glory of God. We have got to remember the purpose of everything that we as Christ-followers do and say and think. This is me preaching to myself. The point is HIS glory. HIS glory. Not ours.
     
    Because here’s the thing, God gives us His Word to reveal His glory. He gives us His Word to show us the way of life — the way He designed. When we walk in His ways, we experience the fullness of life He intends for His creation. We experience the joy and peace that comes from communing intimately with our Maker through Christ. And when we experience the fullness of life in Him, He is glorified. Not walking in His ways means we’re already missing the point of life. Which means we stand already condemned.

    The point is not to be right or point fingers or shout louder. When our eyes slip off of God’s glory, we as humans can all-too-quickly turn into those who Jesus despised — pointy, proud hypocrites. And the watching world, who is in desperate need of hope and peace and forgiveness and love, will miss seeing Jesus because we’re standing in His way shouting condemnation. Lord, help us.

    Instead of hatred spewing from our lips, the state of our culture should so break our hearts that we can’t help but tenderly and lovingly pray for and be poured out for those who haven’t yet experienced life in Christ.

    I’m praying this for myself. I’m praying that God would break my heart for my culture. That I would have the compassion of Jesus for those living in darkness, and that the compassion would overflow into bold words of truth, drenched and dripping with the love of the Savior.

  4. As believers, our ultimate hope is not in politics. Our hope is set firmly in God. I have dear friends who serve our nation politically. And I pray for them with high hopes that they will play a part in turning this country towards the glory of God when it comes to the laws of the land. And I’m thankful for solid Christ-followers who God calls to politically lead our nation. And yes, it’s good that we as Christians be politically involved in our nation — even though my political knowledge is infantile.
     
    However, my ultimate hope does not rest in the laws of this land. God has been very clear in His Word that He alone rules. He places people in positions of power to perform His good purposes. (There were a lot of “p” words in that last sentence.) He sits secure on His throne, and no one NO ONE can do anything that He has not allowed. He is our hope. He is our ruler. He is our judge. And His job is not up for grabs, ever.

    Yes, it would be glorious if this nation stayed true — not externally but individuals internally — to the good word of God. But this world is not our home. This isn’t it. Until Jesus comes back, wars and hatred and brokenness will be a part of our existence. Our ultimate hope cannot be found in created things — or created laws. Our ultimate hope is in the good and faithful character of the Maker of heaven and earth. May we find our footing in Him.

This post isn’t meant to be a full dissertation on the issues at hand, rather it’s laying a few bricks that we need to make sure we as Jesus-followers have placed under our feet before we get into controversial discussions with others. Because souls are at hand. Hearts and destinies are on the line. People that Jesus died for stand before us. Lord God, help us all.

 
Fill me, Lord…

What would you add to this list of things for Christ-followers to remember when discussing controversial topics?
 

Fruitful Affliction Week Six {video}

Well, for those who have been in the book club, it’s the final week in my study Fruitful Affliction. Which is bittersweet to me. Mostly bitter, because I don’t like it when a study ends.

 

week 6

 

I pray that God has met with you through His Word as we’ve walked with Joseph these weeks. And I pray that you know that you know that you know that we have a God who is both sovereign and love — a God who sits secure on His throne and is able to grow fruit in our lives even in the most desolate seasons. Only He could do such a thing.

In the final video I talk about the power of Christ in our lives. Yes, we will walk through lands of affliction. We will. Until Jesus comes back, hard things will meet us on this earth. But Jesus! In Christ, we will not be destroyed. We will not be forsaken. We will not be driven to despair.

 

Fruitful Affliction Week Six

 

I pray that the hope of Christ would seep down deep into your bones today. He’s being good and faithful right now, right where you stand, no matter the land of affliction. Press in and press on, my friends.

 
Fill me, Lord…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the study. What one thing do you want to remember?