Monday, January 31, 2011

Transformational book about serving the poor...

The last book I finished was transformational.
I say this because I first picked it up when I heard that reading this book alone had transformed the Eastern Kentucky ministry called GAP which we have supported in the past. Thay are in the process of phasing out an old way of ministry and phasing in a new one, after reading this:
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating poverty without hurting the poor...and yourself. By Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

I was also interested in it because I was looking for a balanced response to the increased emphasis on social justice among young Christians. It's not that I'm against helping the poor. On the contrary, I'm glad this issue is at the forefront of the church, because I am convinced that the Gospel changes everything, including systems that keep people broken and in poverty.

However, my concern is that in helping the poor, we were doing it correctly. I believe this book helps us do just that. Anyone who is interested in this topic at all, anyone who is in leadership in a church or ministry that oversees practical, outreach or missions ministry, needs to read this book.

Some practical highlights that will stick with me:
1. It is true that Jesus' gospel can tranform communities and alleviate poverty, and it is the gospel that must be central to our efforts (this is the thing that kept me reading).
2. We are all in various stages of restoration/brokenness - we cannot place great gulfs between us and the materially poor.
3. The greatest mistake that the American church makes in their local neighborhoods is distributing relief when community development is what's needed (let's face it, there are hungry people in our cities and there are people that need jobs, but the majority of us are not facing tsunamis, earthquakes, or flood situations.).
4. We need a balanced outlook on short-term missions. We can't throw them out altogether but neither can we make them something they're not.

Great quote from the book:
"Poverty is rooted in broken relationships, so the solution to poverty is rooted in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection to put all things into right relationship again."

On a side note - if anyone wants to read this book, there is a copy at the public library in Berea! You can read it for free! Stop in and see me and I'll help you find it or put it on hold. Libraries are great...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

David and Mommy Discuss Heaven

Today TJ and David had to preach the word to me together, so TJ chose an easy Bible verse for David. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world..."

We discussed each word. David was most interested in the idea of eternal life.

David: "Will I be big in heaven?"
Me: "You will have a glorified body. A body better than this one. It won't grow old. It won't feel pain."
D: "Yes, but there won't be animals in heaven."
M: "Well, I'm not sure. I think that God likes animals, He may have some there."
D: "And fruit?" [what?]
M:  "Yes, lots of fruit. Best fruit you ever had in your life."
D: "Like the gooey fruit we had in Costa Rica?"
M:"Yes, only better."
David giggles with anticipation. He likes fruit.

D: "Will I be naked?"
M: "Well, you can't take anything with you, so you won't have clothes. But I think He will give us all robes."
D: "Woo-hoo!"
(I realized at this point David is thinking of a bathrobe. Which to him is a great thing. If it was up to him, he'd walk around in a bathrobe all day.)
M: "Probably not a bathrobe though."
D: [Frowning].
M: "And probably a crown."

D: "Will I be able to see space below the clouds?"
M: "Um, I guess so." [???]
D: "Maybe Jesus will give me a spacesuit so I can push the clouds away and go down into space."
M: "Maybe... or you might be able to go there without a spacesuit."
D: "What?"
M: "When Jesus was in a glorified body, He could do stuff like walk through walls."
David's eyes got bigger.

D: "Will we sit in heaven?"
M: "Sit?"
D: "Yeah, sit down."
M: "Well, the Bible says Jesus is sitting on the right hand of the Father, so yes, we will sit in heaven."
David ponders this for a while, and then in a loud voice, with a confused look on his face, he asks:

D: "Jesus is SITTING ON God's HAND? Why does He have to sit on His hand?"
M: "DAVID!!!"