Monday, December 22, 2014

Compassion, Action and Boldness; Even When It's Scary

Over the last several months, I have had the privilege of being part of and watching bold compassion in action around AC3 and I have been changed.
  • When you see a body of believers embrace a 'No One Fights Alone' attitude and actively join a family's battle against cancer, you are reminded that life on this earth is short. I will live life fully with eternity in mind.
  • When you witness Seeds of Grace volunteers choosing to walk beside those on the fringe of society and offering them real friendship, you are reminded that 'things' are 'just things'. I will live life on purpose and in relationship with those that God brings into my life.
  • When you watch a group of bikers provide an atmosphere of recovery and recreation for those fighting drug addictions with opportunities to 'give back' to their community, you experience hope (SOG was the recipient of their food and toy drives this holiday season). I will live life with hope, knowing that everyone can 'be changed' and 'make change' in the lives of others.
  • When you watch a group of preschoolers participate in compassion by creating homeless bags to give someone in need or on a street corner this holiday season, it becomes clear that everyone is called to serve. I will live life serving others, doing my best to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
This blog post was inspired by a recent yet very simple Facebook post by my daughter-in-law Amanda below. It reflects a simple compassion story of handing out their SOG homeless bag to someone with my first grandson Jonah, five years old.
"Finally got to give our Seeds of Grace bag that Jonah put together in preschool to someone in need. Jonah was scared at first but I took the opportunity to explain to him that helping people is not always easy. It's easier to just keep walking. We gave the man our bag of goodies, said Merry Christmas and it was done. Then Jonah started asking questions on the ride home about where that man slept, etc.

Another opportunity to talk about how Jesus calls us to help others and about being grateful. Then it turned to talking about the best, final home we have to look forward to (heaven) and what we are called to do here on earth until we are called home. Love God, Love each other and Love the lost. 

Amazing moment with Jonah... I could see the wheels turning in his head. I pray he has a heart of compassion that leads to action and boldness to do God's will even when it's scary." - A :)
 A few Facebook comments: 

"Ever since the day they made them and we gave it away the same day, we've been finding more and more opportunities to help people out, even if it's just a bottle of water! I LOVE what God is doing in MY heart by giving me a kid to raise I'm so excited for you to have had such a deep conversation!! SUPER cool!"

"Way to go!! Proud of you guys. Love that you told him "it's not always easy."

"♡♡♡♡♡"

"Great teaching moment!"  

"I love witnessing God doing work!"

"Beautiful! Thanx for SHARING with us the opportunity you took to be Jesus to someone...and to teach Jonah what that looks like! Merry Christmas!

As we head into the new year, let us not forget that compassion is not always easy but it is to be a very real part of every Christ followers lives. Let's live out compassion with action and boldness with fresh awareness, even when it's scary!

Twila

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Hineni"



The Bible teaches, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.

I’m increasingly reminded of this as I look at our world, from the micro to the macro, from global, to local:

-In Ferguson Missouri the fact that African Americans are routinely mistreated because of their skin color is justification for robbery and assault; evil is called good.

-In New York the fact that police officers routinely face life threatening situations in the course of their work is justification for police brutality, even homicide; evil is called good.

-Bombs are dropped in Syria and Iraq (again) in the name of “Hope”; Evil is called good.

-Men are tortured in the name of “Security”; Evil is called good.

-Marriages are torn apart in the name of “Happiness;. Evil is called good.

-A child murders 4 other children and severely wounds a 5th but he is a “victim”; Evil is called good.

At this point, let me state, without qualification, that I do not believe a person is defined by any one act they commit, whether good or evil. Yet “persons” commit evil acts all the time, and these acts are sourced within that person.

Richard Rohr said,
Watch your thoughts, they become words
Watch your words, they become actions
Watch your actions, they become habits
Watch your habits, they become your character
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny

I believe there are two primary reasons we feel compelled to “call evil good”.

First, we are being altogether robbed of the category “Evil” by an increasingly subjective culture. In a world where the highest value is “tolerance” and truth is relative, declaring any act evil will inevitably result in someone feeling that their “truth” is being attacked and the critic will be instantly labeled “hater”, “bigot” or worse. Just review the list above and then:

“Pick a side, people: Do you hate Black People or do you hate the Police?”

Those are your options.

If, like me, you reject being forced into one of those two categories, then you must consider the idea that a category called “Evil” should be re-established, and violent criminals as well as brutal police officers should be placed in it. 

Having “evil” removed as a category is like being asked to carry 50 gallons of water…but without a bucket. There’s just no place to put it.

The second reason is that we confuse “Fault” and “Responsibility”.

Jesus told the story of a man who was mugged and left for dead. 2 prominent citizens came upon the wounded man, but did nothing. A third man, an outsider, stopped and did everything he could to see to the man’s needs.

The story does not explicitly reveal the motives of any of the 3 men. There are some hints, but we are left to fill in the blanks.

Among other more subtle motives, I believe the core motive for the first 2 men ignoring their neighbor is they did not believe they were “responsible”.

“I did not mug this man. “It’s not my responsibility.”

Wrong.

What they should have thought is: “This is not my fault. But I am now responsible.”

None of the three men had committed the evil act. It wasn’t their fault. But when they came upon the results of evil – it became their responsibility to act.

No – it’s not your fault that the planet’s climate is changing. But it is your responsibility to stop driving that gas-hog SUV, start living within your means and maybe grow some of your own food.

No - It’s not your fault that women are routinely subjected to all kinds of sexual assault, but it is your responsibility to hold yourself, your neighbors and your community accountable to fight against it.

No – it’s not your fault that the cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School is no longer suitable for use after the murders which occurred there. But it is the responsibility of the tax-payers in this school district to pay for having it changed…

It’s the responsibility of the teachers and counselors to guide traumatized students through the aftermath...

It’s the responsibility of parents to keep their kids safe…

It’s the responsibility of everyone to ask, “how did we get here as a society?”…

It’s the responsibility of other school districts around the world to re-evaluate their policies, of law-makers to examine legislation…

It’s the responsibility of the victims parents to find a new way of living that does not include their children anymore…

None of these people asked for these responsibilities.

Nobody wanted them.

These responsibilities were forced upon us because of one evil act.
Forced upon us by the will of one person, and one person alone.

We need to be reminded that when we call that act evil, we are not holding at fault the parents, the Tribe, “society”, “culture” or the “system”.

Yes – each is now responsible to bear a part of the load. We can’t just pass by it because it’s not our fault.

Please pray for the parents of the child who did this, who, apart from the parents of the victims, have a responsibility to bear for a lifetime that is un-imaginable. But in extending them compassion; in avoiding laying fault at their feet, let us not call evil good.

In the Hebrew language, there is a single word which literally means “Here I am”. Scholars agree that while this translation is accurate, it does not contain all the nuances of the word; nuances like, “Here I am…I’m listening.” or “Yes, I’m here and I’m ready.” And I would venture to say “Here I am. I will be responsible for whatever comes next.”

This single word was Abram’s response to God when he called.

This single word was Moses’ response, and Elijah’s when God called to them as well.

“Yes, Lord? I’m here. I’m listening, and I’m ready to carry out your will. Whatever waits around the corner, whether great beauty, or great evil, I will be responsible to respond to it as you direct.”

Hineni. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

AC3 VB *Special* Farmers Market


Enjoy this VB special as Dan talks to Jared (Our PR Director for the Marysville Farmers Market) about why a Farmers Market here in Marysville is needed.