things to think deeply about… have fruitful conversations and prayerfully dreaming together to find solutions … to then prophetically engage and network, working for the good with community, as God gives wisdom and leading
Abraham’s journey included periods of silence with no apparent direction from God. He was exposed to foreign gods, ungodly people, and conflict with neighbours. He faced family conflict, failed expectations, and personal weakness. Yet, he believed God. Through the exercise of his faith he came to know God and to be known by God as “Abraham my friend” (Isaiah 41:8).
The scriptures are a type of spiritual GPS for us. We have a church community and spiritual leaders for encouragement along the way. We have the Holy Spirit as a voice within telling us when to “turn around.” Still, we sometimes face doubts, spiritual confusion, and personal weakness. Sometimes we don’t understand God’s leading and our prayers are met with silence. Like Abraham, we must exercise our faith one day at a time until a lifetime of days has taken place and our journey is complete. Abraham was a man who lived by faith and died in faith. His friendship with God was based on simple daily trust. “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17).
Terrance Roth in PK 6.3.19
Stewardship, not ownership
Since everything in the world belongs to God, it is infused with a dignity and worth conferred by God’s own integrity and glory. In other words, that which belongs to God, which is not limited to believers in Christ but includes all creation, shares the value that God places on it. This view leads to a model of responsible stewardship as opposed to an exploitation model. By sharing value with God, humankind has been given stewardship, not ownership of the earth. Dominion, therefore, is properly exercised only when done in sucdh a way as to fulfill the intent of the owner, and living as one created in thee image of God requires a life consistent with God’s purpose.
Michael Frost in Exiles, Hendrickson Publishers, 2007
Our job is to reveal God to people. He is present in His Word, fellowship, Communion, and prayer. Rather than creating our own pep rallies, our calling is to simply put Him on display and watch as He draws people to Himself. If they are not interested in [God], what do we think we’re accomplishing by trying to lure them by other means?… We just need to be sure that it’s really God we are putting on display. Otherwise we run the risk of people attending our services who have merely fallen in love with us.
Francis Chan in Letters to the Church, David C.Cook, 2018 Crazy Love Ministries
Our success-driven culture scorns failure, powerlessness, and any form of poverty. Yet Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount by praising “the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3)! Just that should tell us how thoroughly we have missed the point of the Gospel. Nonviolence, weakness, and simplicity are also part of the American shadow self. We avoid the very things that Jesus praises, and we try to project a strong, secure, successful image to ourselves and the world. We reject vulnerability and seek dominance instead, and we elect leaders who falsely promise us the same….
Francis of Assisi (1181–1226), made a revolutionary and pre-emptive move into the shadow self from which everyone else ran. In effect, Francis said through his lifestyle, “I will delight in powerlessness, humility, poverty, simplicity, and failure.”
Richard Rohr, CAC 9.8.19
The example of Jesus, when authentically understood and appropriated, makes us ill at ease with comfort and security. It propels us into the lives of others. It sends us out to serve someone or something other than ourselves. In short, it lands us with the mission of practicing generosity, hospitality, justice and peace.
Michael Frost in Exiles
speaking hope and encouragement into the lives of friends who are dealing with self-injury
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:11)
The Bible speaks about hope over and over again. 1 Thessalonians 5 encourages us to place our hope in each other, our faith, and in God.
We all know someone who struggles, but how do we respond to that person?
Is self-injury the only way you know how to cope with a bad day, bad relationship, bad grades or anything else that has gone wrong recently? Karen Conterio, in her book Bodily Harm, says this: “There is nobody on earth who can, or will, save you from yourself. You are going to have to do it yourself—but not by yourself.” That means family or friends are not the ones to make you stop.
But like the passage from 1 Thessalonians, they can give you the support you need. Stopping has to be a conscious decision of your own. It won’t be easy, but it comes down to where you see hope coming from and who can speak hope into your life. The problem is that we struggle with speaking hope and encouragement into the lives of our friends who are dealing with self-injury.
Most people who come out of a life of self-injury usually note one person, one person who never left their side. Marv Penner, in his book Hope and Healing for Kids Who Cut, challenges us to be available to that one person in the life of a young person who entrusts his or her story to you. We can be that person.
Excerpts from Brett Ullman in media.faith.culture Parents 101 (Word Alive, 2011)
As long as I have been alive, church attendance has been in decline (compared with overall population growth). So it’s not surprising to see well-intentioned pastors trying to makee the Church more popular. … In nineteenth century Denmark Soren Kierkegard was appalled at the state church, which he believed had grown apathetic and insincere. Kierkegard believed that true Christianity is costly and demands humility. ….. But what Kierkegard saw in the Church, were constant attempts to make Christianity more palatable, more popular, and less offensive.
Francis Chan in Letters to the Church
Florence Nightingale (founder of modern nursing) was thirty years of age when she wrote this in her diary: “I am thirty years of age, the age at which Christ began His mission. Now, no more childish things, no more vain things”. Years later, near the end of her illustrious and heroic life, she was asked for the secret of her life. She replied: “I can only give one explanation, that is this -I have kept nothing back from God.” Kept nothing back ….
Am I willing to keep nothing back in my life and this world to become a disciple of Christ? When I share the gospel with others do I leave out the cost of following Christ?
Travis Whims, Director, Discipleship International
Much of Christianity seems to have forgotten Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence. We’ve relegated visions of a peaceful kingdom to a far distant heaven, hardly believing Jesus could have meant we should turn the other cheek here and now (Matthew 5:39). It took Mohandas Gandhi (1869–1948), a Hindu, to help us apply Jesus’ peace-making in very practical ways. As Gandhi said, “It is a first-class human tragedy that peoples of the earth who claim to believe in the message of Jesus whom they describe as the Prince of Peace show little of that belief in actual practice.”
Richard Rohr in Essential Teachings on Love, Orbis Books: 2018
Nonviolence is not ineffective, passive, weak, utopian, naïve, unpatriotic, marginal, simplistic, or impractical, but it recognizes evil in the world and responds to it with good.
I would come to learn that that nonviolence is actively confronting violence without violence; creatively engaging conflict; and nurturing just, peaceful, and sustainable alternatives. . . .
Ken Butigan, “Personal Narrative: The Journey to Nonviolence,” presented at the University of San Diego (10.17.2017)