29 April 2009

be of one mind, united in thought and purpose

quick update: remember this post? i'm not the only one experiencing and marveling at the inseparable connection between God's overwhelming love and grace, our call to be a light in the darkness, and the need of salvation from opression for the poor. God has such a heart for them, tapping into His love for them is like opening a waterfall from a mere faucette.

Here's an excerpt from what Beth Moore's daughter recently wrote about the subject on the LPM blog:
"Can I just tell you that the more I fall in love with the people in Calcutta the more grateful I am that we serve a God who cares deeply about the poor? I could list verse after verse as far back as Genesis all the way through Revelation that reflect God’s concern for the poor and oppressed... but right now I am far too consumed with Isaiah 58, especially the first eleven verses.

I am especially stricken by Isaiah’s definition of true religion. I hope you'll take some time to study this passage on your own but in brief, the people of Israel cry out with frustration because they do not feel that God is responding to their pious fasting. The text goes on to convey that, in fact, God really isn’t all that impressed by their outlandish religious demonstrations like bowing their heads in “humility” or laying in sackcloth and ashes.


His definition of fasting is cast in remarkably different terms. If the people of God want to fast in such a way that they just might get God’s attention then they need to start being agents of justice in a broken world. They need to stop believing that humility before God and apathy toward their fellow human beings, especially the poor and oppressed, could ever co-exist. They need to loosen the chains of injustice. Set the oppressed free. Share food with the hungry. Clothe the naked. The incredible part about this passage is the promise that if the covenant people of God would really truly fast in such a mind-boggling and earth-shaking way, then light will break forth like the dawn. The Lord will turn his ear toward them and His very glory will be their protection. I take so much heart in the fact that our God is a God who loves the people in Calcutta who are bound by the tight grip of poverty. That He thinks that caring for them is essential, that it is at the very core of our personal and corporate spirituality. What a vivid picture of the bountiful and impartial love of God."

then a quote from Richard Bauckham:
“Poverty, in a sense, exposes the truth of the human situation in its need of God. It dispels the illusion of being self-sufficient and secure, with no need of God. The poor are those whose material condition enables them to see more clearly than most the human need to be wholly reliant on God. It is in this sense that the biblical poor are understood as paradigmatic in their faith.” (Richard Bauckham, Wisdom of James, disciple of Jesus the Sage, 190).

and finally says:
"Perhaps Jesus speaks of the poor as the paradigmatic people of God because the poor, kind of like the chronically ill, are most likely to recognize their utter need for God’s saving power. Perhaps the Lord commands the rich (which in context of our global economy is you and me, even the poorest among us) to empathize and identify with the plight of the poor and care for the needy so that they too can glean this truth. Humankind in its totality is completely dependent on God’s power and provision. There are no exceptions. All material wealth is fleeting and fading quickly."

i love it. and i love learning more about experiencing and understanding and taking-in this kind of love, this level of devotion, this extremity of adoration.

13 April 2009


here are some of mine and grant's really good friends. please pray for them as they raise support and figure out life in ministry with a heart that is kid-centered, a ministry that is grounded in Atlanta, and with hearts that yearn for global impact. they are amazing. and we are lucky just to know them ;)

oh, and please check out their awesome pics. wow.

10 April 2009

good friday

couldn't have said it better myself

good friday

08 April 2009

revelation on giving

i have recently had a revelation on giving. i think a combination of truly seeing people experiencing the toughness and roughness of the downturn in the economy paired with where i work and the reality of poverty, sub-standard living, and homelessness in downtown atlanta along with a recent sermon has resulted in the following change in my lifestyle:

i will give to the fullest extent of my ability to anyone who asks.

seriously. pondering hannah's happiness fast, i decided on a generosity fast--giving to anyone who asked me and actually a few who didn't, but were in obvious and dire need. a few days after starting this, i heard a sermon by andy stanley on giving with a different expectation for a different person with a different heart/mind-set.

my reasons:
1. i have been blessed with much, and to whom much has been given, much is expected (luke 12:48)
2. i have only been given what time/money i have by God for God--for the Kingdom; furthermore, i know that i am only a steward of what God has given me, and that everything He gives us (good or bad) He wants us to give back to Him
3. i can't justify not giving when Grant and i have been so stable, so sure, so steady in a time of national crisis
4. with a different expectation and a different heart/mind-set i love giving and i only want to have more to give more--it has become a lifestyle and a joy.

it is an amazing thing and, like most joys in the Lord, is overwhelming and difficult to explain to others.

the verse from the sermon that confirmed with God's word what was already written on my heart:

Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

Do Not Judge Others
37 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Luke 6:27-38

as andy explains in his message, giving for all kinds of reasons is good--giving at all, is a good and right thing--but when Jesus opens with, "but you who are willing: listen," He is inviting us into a different kind of giving. giving paired with loving compassion minus the typical expectations we have in giving--waiting for repayment, acknowledgement, credit, honor, change, a "fixed" person or situation, or even a "thank you."

God does not give with expectations.

Jesus died for us when we were yet sinners--wicked and ungrateful, undeserving and unchanged. (romans 5:8)

andy goes on to say that the focus cannot be on the people and circumstances here on earth--they may never change, but we should still give lavishly (because our Father gave so adoringly to us). the focus must be on God, on being like God, on representing God as a light unto the darkness--for even sinners give to those who love them and to those who deserve it, but who gives to the undeserving if i don't? who is left to love and accept and support and take in and cherish and meet the needs of the homeless, the loveless, the widows, the orphans, the foreigners, the minorities, if not you and me?

Jesus died, not for our salvation--which is an incredible benefit that brings me to my knees--but to please the Father; to bring glory and recognition to the Father (john 12:27-28). His focus was on heaven, on the Almighty God (john 5:19).

the focus must be on the Father and bringing Him glory.

and finally, we must change our hearts, our mindset. we live in a wealthy nation where--unlike many others--our government has a system (albeit flawed and abused) for taking care of and somewhat providing for people "in need." somehow this had ingrained in me the assumption-turned-accepted-as-fact that it's not our responsibility to provide care, money, food, shelter, clothes for the poor--especially the "wicked" the "ungrateful" the "unworking poor" the ones "who will never change"--because it's the government's responsibility. not only is this misguided, but it is simply unbiblical (james 1:27). Jesus dines with, loves on, speaks to, cares for, demonstrates love and miracles for these very people--and aside from that, He continually loves and provides for you and me everyday, and i am certainly undeserving of His constant grace, constant mercy, constant sustenance, constant compassion, and constant forgiveness.

when i experience the joy of giving freely without expectation, the desire somehow grows. i can't explain it, i can only attest to it and simply say that this is a life-changing experience, a life-long habit, a renewed spirit of thinking, and a revelation on giving for me.

Jesus has invited us into a new kind of giving, where--giving without expectation, focused on the Kingdom not this earthy world, and bringing the Father, and not ourselves, glory--we have the privilege of walking around as his arms, heart, head, eyes, ears, mouth, feet and hands, if we but have ears to listen and the obedience of love.

any takers? ;)

02 April 2009

where am i

As I step off the train and onto the platform, I am surrounded by people. I meld into the flood of faces and feet as the wave of motion picks up. I hear several students speaking French and I note three veiled women conversing in a beautiful tongue, as colorful in sound as the garbs of their saris. As I mind a dirty sleeping man, I reach for a few dollars to give. Above the stench of urine and rain I can smell a small bakery opening its windows and doors. I search the fresh market and find two green apples for a mere handful of change--it's the mart owner's son's birthday and I see a sign with a card autographed by the local regulars and smile. I thank him.

As I make my way across the street I appreciate the architectural diversity of old vs. new in the heavy marble buildings contrasted with the glassy sky scrapers. Taking a crunch out of one apple, I quickly cross diagonally to the park and observe the community: old, young, loud music, mid- and quarter-life crises, backpacks, suits, hobo packs, a side walk preacher, bikes, an empty police station, mopeheads, a saxophone playing jazz, fast cars, and a "keep of the grass" sign.

What place is this? Am I stepping off the subway in New York? the tube in London? the Metro in Paris?

No. I'm in my favorite little non-european European town: 5 points Atlanta.

I take Marta to work some days. I absolutely adore the eclectic mix of people and restaraunts in this area. So much is happening. I wonder--how did I not uncover this gem before?--as I pass a man preaching to a crowd about a march on Washington, a mother consoling her child, a life-size chess match, two men waiting side by side who would never stand beside each other again.

This is Atlanta--with all its guts and all its glory.

And 5 points at the heart of downtown is my favorite place to be.