Monday, April 23, 2012

Guest Post: Our Love Is Too Safe by @Moe_NYC

This week I am proud to share this space with an author that I really respect. I think you will enjoy what he has to share. Moe (@Moe_NYC) is the author of betachristian.net.

He is a a native New Yorker who loves God, family, others (in that order). My regular readers might find it ironic that I am introducing you to a New Yorker as we firmly disagree on baseball and football teams, but he has his redeeming qualities. He is a pretty outgoing person who loves to be competitive and hungry for the things he is passionate about which include: teaching, tutoring and leading people. He believes in books (both physical and digital), organization (love GTD) and growing people (everyone has potential). If you spend anytime following him on twitter or reading his blog, you will quickly pickup on the fact that he loves coffee, writing, reading, photography and really cool software (not necessarily in that order but pretty close). I will shut up now.

Here is Moe:

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Our Love Is Too Safe


In the New Testament we read how Jesus came to earth and how bold He lived His life. He spoke against the religious elite, He "worked" on the Sabbath, He invited himself to people's houses, He was the "drunk and the glutton", loved to have his feet cleaned in hooker tears and chased out the temple merchants, turned their tables and borrowed Indiana Jones's whip.

As we move over to the Epistles, and eventually to Revelation, we see more boldness, more valor and more desire to spread this Gospel with fervor. It rarely feels like safe Christianity.

What made Jesus so dangerous and so threatening was that He was intentional in desiring to be in people's lives. He wasn't satisfied with a handshake and a "Shalom". He wanted so much more. He desired a place in the heart of people. He made the long trip through Samaria, not around it. He wasn't satisfied with just knowing there were Samaritans confused and fighting for the rights to a well. He desired to be part of their lives.

Today, we confuse love with a romantic feeling of butterflies and pretty words. Real love is having the ability to be dangerous and bold and seek those who need to be found. Not only those who agree with us, who we like, who look and dress like us. The love I see in my Bible is a love that goes against anything cute and pretty, but seeks to find the ugly and dangerous. True love is dangerous and uncomfortable.

God didn't come to create a society of Christians that lived safe, loved safe and spent more time making themselves comfortable rather than dangerous. We have made the greatest news ever heard, the greatest event in history about us, rather than about Him. God didn't come to earth so that we have all of our little itches scratched.

We have become a people that don’t intrude, that never demand, never judges, never meddles. We have become a people who keep their distance and doesn’t crowd. Jesus's theology was one of involvement, not one of avoidance.

As the Christian church, we’re supposed to be one body, and we should be standing together seeking to love dangerously and seek that which was lost. We need to listen to what Jesus is saying and to follow his teaching and principles. Jesus wasn’t afraid to speak out for others, and we shouldn’t be either. Let's move past the books we read, the conferences we attend and the romantic gospel we preach, and move towards a dangerous mob of people who are bold in doing what God demands of us.

Let's move out of this safe love and make it dangerous. Let's be more intentional in seeking friendships with those who people do not accept today. I believe that these dangerous friendships reveal true love and become much stronger than doctrine, rules, and tradition.

Let's show this world that we can bear fruit, not fungus or empty acorns.
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Let me also recommend you swing by Moe's blog and read his three part testimony.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hunger Hits Home



Food Network showed this report this past weekend. If you missed it, it tells the story of hunger in our country today, and it illustrates the need that we are working to resolve with Feed the Hungry Forsyth. Our efforts are to recover food that would otherwise be thrown away and deliver it to food pantries to provide to the hungry in our area.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Review: Barefoot Church - Serving The Least In A Consumer Culture

Barefoot Church - Serving The Least In A Consumer Culture by Brandon Hatmaker



"Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." - Matthew 25

How many times have you heard someone say or maybe even you have thought to yourself, "The church ought to care for the poor and help the orphans and widows." But then ask yourself, "what am I doing?" Someone once said, "I want to ask God why he allows pain and suffering in the world, but I am afraid he will ask me the same question."

This book tells the story of how a young pastor quit a comfortable job in a mega church and worked to form a church that puts its focus on serving "the least of these." Brandon challenges the reader to be the living epitome of the good news to the lost, broken, hurting world. He challenges the reader with Micah 6:8, "act justly and to love mercy". Mercy offers relief and compassion without judgement to those in distress while justice offers action, awareness, advocacy, and right action.

The Bible calls us to love our neighbor and does not cut us any slack for the neighbor that is a pain to tolerate or does not smell good. If we call ourselves believers or disciples, then we should see poverty, hunger, homelessness, and injustice as wrong and we should be motivated to fight to make it right.

"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." Isaiah 1:17

Are we doing that? Or are we walking past the homeless guy holding our breath and trying not to make eye contact?

For far too long we have talked a big talk. Its time to stop the talk and start doing. As another quote says, "nobody cares what you think until they think you care."

If this book doesn't make you stop and question what you are doing, I don't know what will.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Holding Up Moses Arms

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. - Exodus 17:10-13 NIV

Over the last four months, I have been under a lot of pressure and at times feeling torn in multiple directions. Working a full-time job with a daily commute that is 1 hour each way, going to night school working on my graduate degree, leading a small group of 6th grade boys, leading a couples small group with my wife, and launching a non-profit. At times, I have wondered if I have over-committed and if I would have to drop something, which spinning plate would it be. But God is gracious and has mercy on those who seek him. I have prayed daily for wisdom and perseverance.

One of the greatest answers to prayer has been the four people that have accepted positions on the board of the non-profit. Each one has brought individual giftings and talents. They have embraced the vision and mission and have rolled up their shirt sleeves and begun actively taking part. We began planning a fundraiser to get things off the ground and retained the services of an event coordinator who has also been a tremendous help. The support of my loving wife has been tremendous during stressful times, she calmly reminds me, "If it is supposed to work out, God will make it happen. If it is supposed to fail, it will."

And then volunteers have begun to contact me and say, "how can I help?" Just this week, I have been overwhelmed by the support of extremely creative and talented volunteers willing to contribute their time and talents to the cause.

As I quietly reflect on what all is going on and how much support I am receiving, I cannot help but think of Moses as he stood on the hill watching the battle knowing as long as he held his arms up, the Israelites would win the battle. but when his arms dropped, the Israelites would begin to be defeated. Poor old Moses arms ached and he could barely hold them up any longer. Aaron and Hur saw what was happening and leaped to offer him the assistance. They move a large stone for him to sit on, and they each grabbed an elbow and held his arms up. Over the last two weeks, I can relate. I have felt like I was at the point I could not hold up my arms. And, just when I thought I was at my end, board members and volunteers have said, "Let me take some of the load." And it has been a huge relief.

Have you got an Aaron and Hur in your life?