Friday Faves

Is There a Their There?: Here’s a fun grammar lesson for us lovely nerds.

What Real Love Looks Like: This is a post from my Pastor, Chris Goins, related to Sunday’s sermon. It’s a list that explains what love really looks like–taken from Paul Tripp’s book What Did You Expect.

Christian Couple Maintains Abstinence Through Marriage: Speaking of love…this ain’t it.

This band is very close to becoming my favorite band of all time, and I get to see them perform next weekend. EEEKKK!!!

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Winner of Book Giveaway Announced

Congratulations to The Crunchy Christian (Thailer and Amber) for winning the book Passport Through Darkness from last week’s giveaway, celebrating Make Way Partners’ 10 year anniversary.

I encourage you to check out their adoption story. It is so good!

There are more giveaways coming, so don’t miss out! Just follow Servant Living and you will automatically be entered.

The “Beautiful Mess” of the Church – Part 4

This is the final installment of the mini-series “The ‘Beautiful Mess’ of the Church.” Check out Part 1,  Part 2 and Part 3.

To end this series, I would like to share with you a story by Mez McConnall, Pastor and author of Is Anybody Out There (you can read my short review here).  In this particular story, his church, Niddrie Community, is ministering to a group of broken individuals in order to share the gospel. It is beautiful. It is messy. And there is no better picture of the church Jesus died for.

Thank you for following along in this series with me.

Welcome To Our Church Weekend Away: Don’t Forget Your Beer

by Mez-

We have our annual church weekend away coming up this weekend at Niddrie Community Church. Last year we had an amazing time when at least half a dozen people made commitments to Christ. Of those, 5 of them are still going on a year later. That in itself is remarkable given the high fallout rate we experience in schemes with those professing faith.

We have such a mix of people that one of the biggest headaches (behind the scenes) is ensuring that everybody brings the right medication along with them to get through the weekend. We have to ensure that their doctors know they are coming and their care workers and/or social services are aware of where they are going to be. There is Methadone (a prescribed Heroin substitute) to sort out, Valium prescriptions, antipsychotics and a whole host of other things we need to be on top of to make sure things run smoothly.

Now I don’t want to give the impression that everybody is popping pills in the church. On the contrary, we have several coming along who are professionals in medicine, business and computing (to name a few). The beauty of working in Niddrie is that people of such differing backgrounds and worldviews can come together and sit under the teaching of the Bible for a weekend. Friendships are forged and strengthened and, God willing, souls are saved and encouraged.

Perhaps one of the people who cause us the most concern are our alcoholics. We don’t have that many with us at the moment but we do have a few. In many ways it is a much more pernicious addiction (not that we rate them) than drugs, often because of the very public nature of the problem once a person becomes overly inebriated (drug addicts mainly conk out when they have taken too much, Valium aside). Quiet souls can quickly turn into raging mad(wo)men. The problem with alcoholics joining us is that it’s not like we can pop to the pharmacist to pick up their medication and then help distribute it over the weekend. We have to actually ensure that they are drinking enough alcohol to keep them safe but not too much so that they become drunk. All while ensuring we are very clear that this is a lifestyle that is both idolatrous and wholly destructive! On top of that we have to be careful particularly with those who come who have had an alcohol problem in the past or are in the process of being alcohol free.

Let’s consider the case of one man currently with us:  His alcohol intake has been so staggeringly high for nearly 20 years (exceeding 15 litres of alcohol per day) that for him to stop outright – according to received medical advice –  has a high probability of killing him as his body goes into shock. This is a person who needs 3 litres of Cider and a six-pack before he can even get out of bed in the morning! He is 40 years old, has destroyed his life, doesn’t see his children and is estranged from his family. He can’t work and is barely able to function and has no true friends. When we found him he was at rock bottom and coming off the back of several suicide attempts. He turned up at the church one day as a last resort because he heard we ‘help’ people. In the last month or so he has been reading the Bible for the first time in his life, coming along to Bible studies and this week sat through his first ever Sunday service. He is very keen to learn more about the faith and asks all sorts of very interesting questions. He is what we would call a genuine seeker and is no danger to anybody but himself. He wants to come away for the weekend and learn more about Jesus because he likes our community life and because, frankly, he has nothing better to do but sit in his flat alone drinking day and night.

The question is: do we ask him to stay away because we know he will not survive the weekend without a drink? Or do we encourage him to get enough beer to enable him to function without getting drunk and ensure he spends a weekend with a variety of Christians, hears the gospel (that we believe God is drawing him toward), pray for his salvation and hope that this is the start of a spiritual awakening in which God is going to completely transform his life? My answer? Point me to the nearest shop and I will buy him the beers myself!

Sometimes work in this ministry is just not black and white. Should he be drinking? No. Never mind whether it’s at a Christian weekend or not. It is killing him. But I would rather him functioning and able to hear the gospel rather than (a) absent and drinking anyway (more so) or (b) so distracted by being dry that he doesn’t compute the message. The ideal is getting him into a drying out facility but even that is difficult because he would be considered ‘high risk’ by the medical profession given his levels of consumption. The probability is that he would have to do a community detox – bring his drinking levels down – before he could get into a serious rehabilitation clinic. Certainly, that’s the direction he is headed but for now we are seeking to treat his soul, which is in a far more precarious position than his drinking problem is masking. His unbelief will ultimately kill him. Forever.

Pray for us this weekend as we meet together. Pray for God to save souls and transform lives to be conformed to the image of Jesus. That’s what we ultimately want for each of us. But on schemes, the starting point is not always ideal and we have to live with that and adjust accordingly – not to worldliness – but to helping people out of the pit and leading them toward the glorious light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

About the Author

Mez has been the Senior Pastor of Niddrie Community Church since September 2007. Prior to that he spent 4 years with UFM Worldwide working with street children in Brazil, and planted the Good News Church in one of the most deprived parts of the country. He is married to Miriam and has 2 girls, Keziah and Lydia.

*The original posting of this story can be found here.

Make Way Partners Celebrates 10 Years–A Guest post by Kimberly Smith

It is my honor and privileged to introduce Kimberly Smith, Co-President and Co-Founder of Make Way Partners and author of Passport Through Darkness. “Fighting to end human trafficking in the darkest corners of our world, skeptics declared many of the tasks set before Make Way Partners as impossible. However, fueled by compassion and incensed by grotesque injustice, Kimberly led Make Way Partners to the successful completion of building the first orphanage on the border of Darfur, Sudan. Building supplies had to be transported nearly 2,000 miles over hostile terrain with no roads or bridges. She now leads the way to build a powerful, indigenously based anti-trafficking network spanning Africa, Eastern Europe, and South America. Kimberly is passionate about helping others to discover the unique dream God has for their lives.  She divides her time between each ministry location, writing, and public speaking in the US.  Kimberly lives in Sylacauga, AL with her husband Milton where they enjoy the out of doors with their ‘puppies’, adult children, and grandchildren.”

To celebrate Make Way Partner’s 10 year anniversary, I am giving away one copy of Passport Through Darkness. To enter, you must become a follower of Servant Living. (If you are already following this blog, you are automatically entered.) I will announce the winner Thursday, April 25th.  *Update* Click here to see the winner.

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Ten years ago, I bought a fourteen-dollar analog Timex.  It has traveled back and forth with me between so many time zones that sometimes I’m not sure who “sets” whom.  No matter where I am, I wear it 24/7, and even sleep in it.

I don’t use my watch to click off the moments of each day, as if time was limited or we could pin it down to best meet our purposes.  Instead, I wear my watch as an anchor to the present moment.  It reminds me that each and every tick of a tock is a breath of God keeping the heartbeat of mankind pumping the freedom of life across the mountains and plains of eternity.

Often, I awaken in a dark, foreign hotel room, tent, or airport, and for the first moment or two of stirring, I feel confused and disoriented.  In that moment, I have no cognizance of where I am or what time it is.  I push the tiny illumination button on the side of my faithful, weather-worn ticker, and it gives me the first bit of information I need to orient myself: what time it is, an anchor to the present.  Then, as my lids sluggishly widen and my hands grope about the surface of what my body rests upon, I begin to get a sense of the where I am.

Often, the present is the scariest place to be.  Our minds, hearts, and even bodies store up the past as voluminously as the congressional library.  Even if our past was difficult, there’s a certain solidity to it because we know what happened, we survived, and it helped us to get where we are in the present.  Thus, the past builds our faith.

When the present is confusing and we’re uncertain as to what to do, the faith—built upon knowing God made a way through our past—opens a window of hope for our future.

So while it’s true, we see in a mirror dimly, that’s okay because we only need enough vision to recall the past, and let it stir a warm breeze of hope within us for the future—to keep our finger on the tick-tock of God’s love in this present moment.  One tick-tock at a time will give us all the vision we need.  Picture1

Many times throughout these first ten years of Make Way Partners, the present has been so terrifying that I’ve wanted to get lost in the memory of past—“the good old days” when things seemed easier, simpler.  Or, I’ve tried to rid myself of the present fears by throwing all of my energy into plans for the future.  When I choose either of these escape hatches from my present reality, I lose my anchor—where I find myself in this precise moment of time and what God most deeply desires for me.

In this present moment, God has given us more than 1,000 unadoptable orphans to raise up in His glory.  These precious children are spread between three strategic locations throughout North and South Sudan in our anti-trafficking orphan-care network: New Life Ministry (NLM) on the border of Darfur, Hope for Sudan (HFS) near the border of Uganda, and Our Father’s Cleft (OFC) in the Nuba Mountains.

The present glory of these children is astounding.  So are their very present challenges.  While the nearly 800 children at NLM and HFS have complete housing and education, the 400 children at Our Father’s Cleft stand afraid in the present with no shelter, and no faith to billow a sail of hope.

Since the children of Our Father’s Cleft live nearly 1,000 miles away from the children of HFS and NLM, they’ve never been able to see what God has already done in the past.  They only have memories of dropping bombs, violent combat, and vicious slave raids.  If we want to transform lives and change the future, we must foster hope through building these precious children’s faith by being God’s Hands of Goodness, and thereby building a past from which to draw.

It has been nearly two years since we first expanded to the Nuba Mountains.  We literally gathered the orphans from caves, where they were literally starving to death while hiding from slave raiders and other atrocities.  Our faith, built upon the past of knowing what God did for NLM and HFS, gave us the hope to branch out and begin a food program.  God provided a pastor to care for their hearts, and lead them.  Under his direction, we hired teachers, caregivers, and a nurse who provides medical care.  Now, the children expectantly wait.  Their bellies are satisfied, their minds are stimulated, their hearts are healing and opening toward God.  Still, they need shelter, a home.

While I assess the tick-tock of this very present moment within the ten-year history of Make Way Partners, my hope is roused that we will soon be able to build a home for the 400 orphans at Our Father’s Cleft, even though I do not know who He will use to fund this hope, and make the orphans dream a present reality.

As you, who’ve journeyed so much of this road with us, join us in celebrating our tenth birthday, I invite you to remember the past (faith), let it stir your hope (future) to freely love with abandon today—especially the broken children stuffed in this particular pocket of time with us.
Love, your sister along the journey of faith, hope, and love,

k

Make Way Partners
Picture2www.makewaypartners.org
Celebrating 10 years of God’s work in saving lives & transforming hearts – one child at a time

Click here to download MWP’s 10 year anniversary newsletter!

To invite Kimberly to speak, contact audreym@makewaypartners.org.

 

Friday Faves–Skinny

There wasn’t a whole lot I enjoyed this week. So, here’s a skinny version of Friday Faves.

Happy Friday Everyone!

The Humble Pope: Hands down, this is the best post I’ve read on Pope Francis’ humble nature. Gotta love Tim Challies.

The Visiting Judge: “I had a very strange encounter today between worship services.  I was walking down a hallway when I happened upon an older lady in our church speaking with a man I have never seen.  The lady called me over and told me that this man was challenging her because she was wearing jewelry…”  Thanks to Derek Webb for retweeting this post.

Because this is hilarious!

 

The “Beautiful Mess” of The Church – Part 3

This is the third installment of the mini series “The ‘Beautiful Mess’ of the Church.” Check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Have you ever been hurt by the church?

I have. Many times actually. I’ve been hurt by the leadership of the church and friends in the church. I’ve been a part of church splits, seen Pastors lie and old ladies run the thing with their cane and checkbook. The church is sinful.

If not for God, then the sin of the church is all there is to it. It would just be a hypocritical and invalid “business.”

But God has decided to back the church with his very name. Every bride takes the name of her husband. Because of this, the story of the church doesn’t end with her sin and failure. It ends with purity, victory and Jesus– and for all eternity.

Until that end, we get to promote a holy God’s abundant grace. We get to stop pretending, and collectively as a church family, humble ourselves and proclaim our need for Jesus. This is freedom!

This is the only way we (I) can forgive the people of the church that hurt us. Not just forgive, but love and serve them with our lives. Jesus gives us the ability to do this, because it was never about us in the first place. We love because He first loved us. We serve the church and those around us as a response to Him. If we loved and served based off other people’s treatment of us, who would there be left to serve? There is more to Christianity than just me–all my desires, my feelings, my history, my future. Loving and serving the church is not about any of us. Forgiveness is not about any of us. It’s about God and who He is–Master and Creator, Lord and King, Savior and Redeemer of our souls. We forgive and extend grace because that is what God does for us.

It is in the mess that we have a wonderful opportunity to model Jesus to the world.

That is beautiful.

“What we must remember, especially when it gets really messy, is that no amount of mess will ever invalidate the church’s place as the principal context for service to God and one another. God calls us to serve regardless of the mess. He uses our service to address not only the mess, but messed up people” (Nate Palmer, Servanthood As Worship).

Friday Faves

Christians, here’s why we are losing our religion : Craig Groeschel–“the number of those religiously unaffiliated is increasing, there is little to no trend in the number of those who express atheist or agnostic beliefs. People aren’t saying they don’t believe in God. They’re saying they don’t believe in religion. They are not rejecting Christ. They are rejecting the church.”

Kermit Gosnell: Hopefully you have heard of this case by now. I posted to a documentary about the clinic a while back. But if you are still unfamiliar, please read and watch.

Jackie Robinson: Because the Jackie Robinson movie was released today (I can’t wait to watch it!), here is a post by David Mathis over at Desiring God. “Many tellings of the Robinson-Branch story omit the importance of their shared Christian faith, but a few biographers have endeavored to draw this out.”

Shai Linne, a Reformed rap artist, talks about his new single “Fal$e Teacher$.” It’s on his upcoming album “Lyrical Theology, Pt. 1: Theology.”

Here is the actual song. What do you think?