making space

This is one of my favourites.

This week we will be committing to: not being the one to end a conversation.

I love this one. It’s such an easy choice that gives so much space for relationship to grow.

Think about how often we are too busy for people. Too busy to connect, too busy to talk, too busy to see someone? This is an easy way to create space for people in your life.

What I think you’ll find is that it doesn’t strain your time as much as you might worry it will. I remember a while back Sarah told me about when she was out walking. She was walking with our first son, our second hadn’t been born yet, and ran into someone we knew. Sarah chatted briefly then excused herself to get home.

But she wasn’t doing anything at home. There was no rush. No reason to jump out of that conversation other than to just finish the walk and get home.

I think we do this a lot more than we realize. We end conversations so we can finish whatever we are doing with no real time pressure being there. We artificially create a busyness that we can’t just connect.

Or the things we NEED to do don’t NEED to be done. It would be good if I got back from my walk and did the dishes, but they will be there in 10 minutes this opportunity to connect won’t. We forfeit this very time sensitive relationship for chores or activities that have no real time connection other than our own personal desire for them to be finished.

Give it a try. Don’t be too busy for people or for relationships.

Instead invest in people. Give them space to share what matters and to connect. So often people just want to be seen. They want someone to give them the time of day. This is a great way to do that and it gives God loads of space to move in a conversation and to give openings for real depth that wouldn’t be there if we rush.

Relationships take time, be the one to make it this week.

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tithing is outdate right?

If you are not a churchy type of person I’d skip right to the bold words even if you’re not churchy this stuff still applies, because today I’m going to talk about tithing and giving to church to start, but there is something I think for you at the bold marks (also thanks for reading, let me know if there are some other not so churchy/religious things you’d be interested in reading about or stuff I’ve written that was applicable to you. You’re just as much a part of this journey even if religious churchy stuff isn’t your thing).

Ok back to talking about money.

This is not the first time I’ve touched on it. I like talking about money here, here, here and here. I suppose it’s because I like taking about things that we often don’t talk about. Money is definitely one of those topics.

Bruxy talk about it on Sunday and so it’s on my mind again, specifically the idea of tithing.

Couple of starting points.

No your time doesn’t count.

Yes it should go to the church.

No you don’t have to do it anymore.

There we go all sorted, right?

Ok, so were starting at the same point and I suspect you’re thinking “do you have anything remotely helpful here or are you just filling space?”

I hope so and not the just filling space part.

To start then, why the church? The tithe is to help the poor and widow and others group do that.

Support them for sure. I wrote about giving to cbm (which you should go do right now). But do that over and above. Let the tithe to the church be the starting point or a primer for your generosity not the end.

I think where our money goes says a lot about what we value and who we trust.

I think when we keep out tithe from the church what we’re really saying is “I don’t trust you with my money. You don’t love the world the way I think you should and I’m going to put my money somewhere that does it right.”

I think it says “while I appreciate all that you do to pour into me and support me I’m not going to help sustain this. I’m just going to take.”

I think at times it says “I know best.”

You think that helping orphans in Uganda is more important than the work your local church is doing.

If that’s true you’re part of the problem. Why are you not connecting with your leadership and asking them to support orphans in Uganda or whatever you think is more important than what the church is doing now? Why have you not started the ministry through your church that you are so passionate about or made the connection to the group that supports orphans for the church? Why does none of this misuse of dollars involve you, an engaged member of the local church?

Again, remember you should still support MCC or World Vision or cbm. But if we gave generously to the local church and those in leadership knew the heart of their community was for the work of cbm, cbm could be supported by the church organization. But we do it as a community, pulling our resources together and working as a community.

Instead we take OUR money and give to OUR charities because the church isn’t going to do it right.

If you’ve spent much time here you know I’m hard on the church, but I really believe that’s the way it was supposed to be. A community pooling it’s everything to support what God has called them as a community to support. And I get that sometimes your passion and the vision of the church or the leadership can’t seem line up. We’re a bunch of imperfect people doing imperfect work. But you need to start there. Give church a chance to be what it was meant to be first. Do your part to build church the way Jesus wanted it.

We need to be committed to the church. There has been a long period of my life where I struggled and questioned if that was true but we do. Jesus called us to church. We need to support and foster the community it was designed to be and committed giving is part of it.

If you still don’t believe me go read your bible. 1 Corinthians 16 sounds an awful lot like a community (the church) consistently pooling it’s resources.

Re-cap:

  • give to the church first
  • if your church doesn’t’ give the way it should your responsible for that miss too
  • if the ministry you’re passionate about isn’t there go start it with the support of your church (or at the very least try first)
  • keep giving to worthy organizations. This is not an excuse to stop giving to other spaces.

Even if you’re not churchy this stuff still applies.

The idea of a tithe, committed consistent support of a cause you are passionate about, is so important to this life of compassion.

I run a community centre and when we get donations it really speaks to me. It so clearly shows that the person believes in what we do and that what we do matters to them.  We don’t have anyone that gives monthly to us. But that commitment would be amazing. It would speak volumes about how that person sees the work that we do.

Pick something that your passionate about and invest in their work, consistently. It may be a stretch and it may be hard but the life of compassion is hard. It opens you up to being a more generous person on the whole. Continued, committed generosity breaks the hold money can have our lives and lets us be the generous people a person marked by compassion should be.

Tomorrow, how much.

worth standing in the rain

We have really screwed up the message of Jesus.

A young lady comes to my door and asks me to help support Amnesty International and their work in Syria and I don’t think it’s strange.

This young lady was not embarrassed at all.

This was a cause worth standing in the rain for. This was a cause that would change people’s lives not just now but in a fundamental way for generations. The work to end a genocide resonates through history. She wasn’t embarrassed to say she believed in the universal rights of people. She didn’t shy away from asking me to get involved. She was cryptic about what she was asking.

People are not being treated like people and we have the means to help. We must help.

And sometimes I don’t want to even tell people I go to church let alone that I’m a committed Christ follower (note how I won’t even write Christian down. Serious cognitive disconnects going on).

We have be invited into a life of depth and meaning. I’ve written about it before. But somehow we’ve become embarrassed to share that life. We’ve made it so complicated with rules and politics. We corrupted it a point where the church becomes the oppressor.

But the message of Jesus is love.

A radical,

life changing,

live giving,

undeserved,

unprecedented,

over the top kind of love that changes not only people today but generations. Families and their children’s children.

There is nothing embarrassing about being a follower of Jesus. There is nothing embarrassing about living another centred life marked by reckless love and grace.

But if your faith is church on Sundays, do’s and don’ts, and judgment then I can see why you’re not as excited to share it. It’s just too bad we haven’t been able to find the same Jesus.

two sides from two brothers

My brother and I were talking about church.

We talk about church a lot. We’re both always right so it’s good we are on roughly the same page. We talk about all aspects of church. Growing up as pastor’s sons and my brother now a pastor it’s been a part of our lives since the very beginning.

We talked a little about how to encourage people to live a more compassionate life. We agreed that there is a large portion of people who have the language (you might say missional, other centred, whatever) and but still don’t’ apply it.

I said it was priorities that hold people back.

He said it was time.

The more we talked about it the more we realized that priorities and time are two sides of the same compassionate life style blocking coin. It’s a big complicated coin.

I said it was priorities because people make time for what matters. They do what’s most important first and work their way down. I’ve written about this before.

He said that part of the problem about saying its priorities makes it sound like something else. Another thing that needs to be added. I’ve got work, soccer practices, church, Home Church, volunteering, date night and now you want me to add compassion into that too? Nope, sorry I’m just too busy.

He’s right (and so am I but we’ll get there).

Talking about it like a priority makes it sound like more. The idea is that you live a life of compassion. It’s not something you add it’s how you go to work, soccer practices, church, Home Church, volunteering, date night and the way you spend your time while you’re there. Is the way you live your life.

Not something more, a change to how. So he’s right. That’s the call of Jesus in our lives.

But that’s big and scary and for a lot of people who are working towards the life style, the all-encompassing nature is too much. It’s all or nothing. So he’s right.

And that’s why I often start with priorities. Changing the way you live is hard. It will take commitment and effort and a struggle. So I ask you to start small. Prioritize this new way of living over a few other things in your life by engaging in timed events to get started. Planning to meet with your neighbours, plan to go out to the pub with a co-worker. Prioritize relationships as a start.

In the end it won’t be a priority but rather a way of living. For me though, I think prioritizing some time for relationship is a good first step to that changed life.

to long

 

Writing about expectations the other day reminded me of story.

It was a Sunday morning and my father was preaching. I have no idea what he was talking about. I’m sure it was stirring. At the close of the service, I’m not sure how it happened but a group had gathered at the front to pray for my dad. He’d been ill for years at this point.

It was a passionate group. They prayed with depth and hope and cried out for God to move.

After they were done a wise friend came up to my dad and said “there’s a lot of pressure on you now isn’t’ ere?”

Didn’t see that coming.

I have a very close friend who deals daily with a persistent illness. She told me that she no longer ask for prayer at her bible study. She did for a while and people were full of passion and hope for her, but as she continued to not get better she started to feel uncomfortable asking.

She felt that everyone was tired of praying the same prayer and frustrated with HER that she wasn’t better.

I’ve felt this way a bunch. You can see the eyes roll before you even ask. Somehow the choice of God not to move slowly became the result or choice of the one being prayed for.

It goes like this.

Pastor teaches people to pray. Pastor tells people that God is good and full of grace and hope.

Pastor gets ill. People pray.

Nothing happens.

People pray. Nothing happens.

How long until people get frustrated? How long until they not only question but question the pastor?

How long until the bible study stops praying with passion and hope for the ill. How long until they are frustrated and tired of the same pain and same despair every week? Seriously how long can someone expect us to keep praying for them and supporting them when they’re ill? Life and people have to move on, right?

Your life and focus might change and shift and to be honest the ill person’s life has changed too because once they had community and support and now by simply being ill for too long they lose community too.

home church in action

This should be easy right? The church, for all its flaws, cares about those in its community really well, right? We love and share and comfort really well, right?

Well I think we can all agree that our call to love each other in the church is clear. We know it. I doubt anyone is surprised by the statement ‘you should love and care for the people in your home church’.

Moreover if asked I suspect we all think we do.

But be honest, it’s not always there is it? You’ve gone home and said ‘wow, I really thought they would care more about me losing my job/ family member passing/ tough week at work/ frustrating child’.

There is nothing wrong with those feelings. I bring it up to say that despite our best intentions we fail some times. We don’t love those in our community that we see in need the way we maybe should.

Sometimes we just don’t get it.

I found one of the greatest supports to me when I lost my job a few years ago were other people who had lost their job. They got how embarrassing it was. They understood how emotionally difficult it was to send out resume after resume and hear nothing back, essentially being reject 10, 15, 20 times a day. No one wanted me and only people who had been though it saw that pain right away.

So yes, we will miss, we won’t understand and we won’t love maybe the way we should. It happens even though it shouldn’t. I don’t want to focus on that this time though. I just wanted to say to those who feel it, I understand. But all we can control is what we do. All we can do is be the ones to start the love.

This story isn’t about the times we didn’t know better, understand the situation or act the way we should. This is a fantastic story of love.

Like I said I’m going to share stories I hear from different places about how amazing our community is. This is one.

A home church was sitting chatting near the end of a meeting. It was an unexpectedly small group of people that evening. The conversation drifted here and there. How do we love others, what does it look like, etc.

Then someone said ‘look it’s all fine and well, but we have lots of need here, in this group. I was talking last week with one of our members and she mentioned how they wouldn’t be having much of a Christmas this year. Moneys to tight and the kids may not get anything.’

And in that moment the group understood. Weather they knew it or not they chose to live the life of compassion. The conversation quickly turned to, well then what do WE do. Not some conversation about the theology of God providing or praying for someone to come and help. What do WE, her community, do?

‘We have some gift cards’ one family said.

‘I could run to the bank and get some money’ said another.

And that was it. They gave it all to one of the ladies present to pass along.

Love in action.

That’s a life of compassion. That’s how we love in community. A need was seen and a need was met.

How do we live a life of compassion in home church? Honest real interactions, bearing our joys and difficulties and as a family coming around our members to love them. Not talking about it but doing it.

Actions of love.

That’s how a life of compassion works in home church. Like all other spaces, in action.