Monthly Archives: January 2012

My brain is constipated…

First off, I need to share a few things.

1. I LOVE to read…fiction.  Cry the Beloved Country, The Brothers Karamazov,  Wuthering Heights, Harry Potter, Fellowship of the Ring, Hunger Games…and it would take multiple posts to go into all the reasons I think a good story is actually an amazing way to enter into a good discussion about God, the author of the greatest story ever, a story that we get to be a part of…but I digress.

2. I don’t so much love to read non-fiction (unless its a biography…i.e. a story about a person’s life).  Especially when it comes to “church-y” non-fiction (the Bible not included in this category, of course, although my favorite books happen to be “story”…Genesis and the gospels!).  Pete LOVES to read church-y non-fiction.  He’s already talked on this blog about some of his favorite authors…Bonhoeffer, Nouwen, Willard, etc.  I can’t even count the number of books Pete has read about leadership, discipleship, Christian ministry, church planting, etc.  He’s awesome.  (I did convince him to read Harry Potter, by the way, and he’s glad he did.  Just saying.)

Well, everyone, I just made Pete fall in love with me even more because in the past month I finished not one but TWO non-fiction church-y books and I ENJOYED them.  Seriously enjoyed them.  But now my brain is constipated.  I really want to review them for you, but it’s late and some really smart people have already reviewed the first one I want to talk about…so I’m just going to direct you to some reviews and then share just a few things I learned from the book.

First…When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert.  If you are at all passionate about ministry to the poor, this is a must read, in my opinion.  I was challenged, but also encouraged, by this book.  There are quite a few reviews of the book out there by various bloggers.  One such review is by Kevin DeYoung…if you want a good general overview of the book you can read his 3 part review: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

My thoughts:

1. It’s really hard to read a book like this and not feel like I personally need to refocus on simplicity and generosity.

2. I love that the authors have a balance in the book between the realities that poverty is a result of both broken systems and broken individuals.  They highlight the need to work for justice in broken systems and redemption in broken individuals. (read…social justice and evangelism…they go together, they really do…)

3. The authors define poverty as existing where one or more of the four foundational relationships for each person are broken: a relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation.

4. One of the central points the authors address in the book is that “one of the biggest problems in many poverty-alleviation efforts is that their design and implementation exacerbates the poverty of being of the economically rich (their god-complexes) and the poverty of being of the economically poor (their feelings of inferiority and shame). (p. 65)

5. Poverty alleviation is the ministry of reconciliation: moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation. (p. 78) (In my opinion…this would be something we ALL need, which I think is one of the points the authors are trying to make.)

6. Material poverty alleviation is working to reconcile the four foundational relationships so that people can fulfill their callings of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of that work. (p. 78)

7. There is a distinction in the type of alleviation measures we should take in different situations.  The authors elaborate on the differences between relief (urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid), rehabilitation (seeking to restore people and their communities to the positive elements of the pre-crisis conditions), and development (process of ongoing change that moves all people involved–both helpers and helped–closer to being in right relationships.  “The key in development is promoting an empowering process in which all the people involved become more of what God created them to be.” (p. 105)

8. And the kicker: “One of the biggest mistakes that North American churches make–by far–is in applying relief in situations in which rehabilitation or development is the appropriate intervention.” (p. 105)

9. The authors go on from this point to give more great examples and principles for helping without hurting, but all of the principles take TIME, are PROCESS oriented, RELATIONALLY driven, and are NOT QUICK FIXES.  We so desperately want quick fixes.  I love quick fixes.  But that is not helpful in most cases in poverty alleviation.

Read the book!  Let me know what you think.  Ponder its implications.  One of the things I really love about the book is that the authors are concerned about poverty everywhere…not just in the Majority World, but also in the US.

Next up…remember, I read TWO books…I’ll be trying my very best to review some things from The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch

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Categories: Church, Mexico | 1 Comment

Sent People

We take Ali to our (former) neighborhood school twice a week for speech and language.  We have been very impressed with all of the people who have worked with us in our public school district.

At our particular school, approximately 86% of the students are on free or reduced lunch, which usually means those students also eat breakfast at school.  This year, Ali goes to school at the very beginning of school, so the students have time to eat their breakfast and then go to class.  A little girl comes and talks to me every time I am there waiting for Ali to be done with speech.  Her name is Tori.  She and I met last year; she noticed our family make-up and asked if I adopted Ava.  I said yes, and then she told me she hopes to be adopted soon, too.  She’s a foster kid.  Her mom’s in prison.  She doesn’t know her dad.  Last year she was in second grade.  She’s in second grade this year, too.  “Statistics” don’t look too good for Tori.  She needs people who are “sent” to her school, to her neighborhood, to her.

We are all called to be living as those “sent.”  As we get ready to leave for Mexico, there are so many people praying for us, but I want you to know that we are praying for you, because you all are “sent” too! Our King and Savior told us, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16)  We can’t hide it, ya’ll.  We’ve got to let it shine, everywhere we go.  Kids like Tori need us, need you, need Jesus in us!  We love what so many of you are doing…cleaning pregnancy centers, leading worship, working in the foster care system, counseling kids at risk, rocking it out as teachers, hosting art classes for neighborhood kids, being volunteer mentors and tutors, praying before you treat a patient that you could not only heal a wound, but speak into the heart…the list could go on and on…I guess if anything, we would say, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)

Don’t give up.  We have a party waiting for us in heaven.  And the deepest friendship we could possibly have with one another is a friendship that is based not on physical proximity and playing fun games together and going out for coffee (although we are going to MISS that, MISS you), but a friendship that is based on serving our God, worshiping Him as His people, and actively seeking and living our lives on behalf of those who have not yet come to the banqueting table of our King.  We need to go out and seek, go out and serve, go out and feed, go out and heal…all so that our Heavenly Father can be glorified as He calls people to Himself.  Don’t give up.  Don’t hide.  Don’t forget.

We’re praying for you.  Pray for us.

Categories: Church, Mission, prayer | 1 Comment

Need Help…What do you think?

Here’s some pictures of our trial runs on how we may be getting our family and stuff down to Mexico! We are trying different packing scenarios to see which we like better.

What do you think?!

 Emily and the girls will be flying and Pete will be driving down with our car and the rest of our stuff. Whatever doesn’t fit one of these two ways won’t be going with us…so we may not be too far off from one of these!

Categories: Family | 3 Comments

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