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Do Something

  • Posted on: 20 May 2016
  • By: Randy Wollf

*When my 16-year-old daughter Alketa saw the photo of the little boy washed up on the beach, her heart broke for people from Syria. She was compelled to raise money to help. God has a special heart for refugees, too.

“Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world” (James 1:27, The Message).

The wars in Syria and others places produce new victims every day. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are almost 12 million people displaced from Syria alone. In Matthew West’s song Do Something, he looks at “a world full of trouble,” and asks, “How’s it ever gonna turn around… God, why don’t You do something?” The answer he hears is “I created you.”

If not us, then who

If not me and you

Right now, it’s time for us to do something

If not now, then when

Will we see an end

To all this pain

It’s not enough to do nothing

It’s time for us to do something

In January, our family heard about a unique way that we could do something.

New Hope Community Services Society (www.newhopecs.org), an organization with a passion to help refugees settle into life in Canada, had recently purchased a 13-suite apartment building in the Whalley district of Surrey, B.C.

Most of the suites were for refugees, but they wanted three local families to move in to provide stability, build relationships, help where necessary and be the light of Christ to these newcomers to Canada.

We volunteered for seven months.

The first refugee family to join the New Hope Community came from Africa.

Temara and her five-year-old daughter Nehi lived as refugees for many years before arriving in Canada in February. Temara is originally from Ethiopia, but had to leave because of ethnic persecution.

I remember the day we took them to a large playground in our neighbourhood. Nehi wasn’t sure how the swings worked, but that didn’t curb her enthusiasm to try everything in sight. We later learned that they would have had to pay an entrance fee at this kind of playground where they lived in Africa.

My wife Lore and Temara have become good friends. Lore has helped her with tasks like using laundry facilities and unlocking a cart at the local grocery store. She also assists Temara with some of her English language learning. (“Saskatchewan” is pretty hard to pronounce!)

Two Alternatives to the Universal Question

  • Posted on: 18 May 2016
  • By: Keith Reed

I hesitate whenever I’m asked how I’m doing. I blame this partly on society’s strange social norms (does this person really want to know how I’m doing?) and partly on my upbringing (cashiers never noticed when my mother replied with a grunt). But I will admit that my delayed response is also the result of needing more time to develop an answer. I am asked this question by others far more often than I ask it of myself.

When a close friend asks how I’m doing, this question takes on new meaning. I believe they're asking me to share the status of my soul or my being. Even so, I will sometimes choose to talk about my latest doings of life which doesn’t reach the heart of the question. Talking about my doings doesn’t always address the health of my soul because my doings may be fine, but my being may not be (and vice versa).

To make this question even more confusing, consider it within the context of pursuing Jesus. “How is your spiritual life?” is a question that understandably stumps many people. I think it might be more complex than the unwritten rules of baseball. Once again, responses to this question often focus on doing actions such as Bible reading, prayer, and church involvement. Our souls are shaped by spiritual habits, but they don’t tell the whole story. 

The questions that we ask each other should reflect what we really want to know. “How are you doing?” may work in some cases, but if we want to stir up self-examination, I think we can do better. 

Dallas Willard and John Ortberg crafted two insightful questions that I discovered several years ago. They aren’t perfect, but they dig beneath the surface and serve as excellent conversation starters: 

  • Are you becoming increasingly more irritable? 
  • Are you becoming increasingly more discouraged? 

When I ponder these questions, the activities of my life collide with the condition of my soul. I discover the connection between my doing and my being. This helps me consider the reasons and causes for why I’m feeling the way that I am. For example:

A Ditch And A Shovel

  • Posted on: 25 April 2016
  • By: Keith Reed

The Transform Conference is over, but I’m still processing many ideas and phrases that I heard nine days ago. Here are four concepts that are still echoing in my head:

A Ditch and a Shovel

Chris Price began his teaching by providing an image for raising up gospel-loving kids. It went something like this: Imagine that God has given you a shovel and that He has asked you to dig a ditch in the life of your child. A ditch in which the love of God and the truth of Scripture can readily flow. And the deeper you dig that ditch, the harder it will be for them to get out of it and the easier it will be for them to fall back in.

A child may try to climb out of the ditch. A child may teeter on the edge of the ditch and spend time exploring the area above the ditch’s valley. A parent really can’t control these things. But a parent can choose to keep their hands on the shovel. And a parent can keep digging and keep praying.

“You love me”

Chris’s prayer is that whenever his kids think of him, their first response will be, “You love me.” Regardless of the beliefs or the behaviour that his children may develop, he wants this to be the foundation of their identity as his children. The experience of unconditional love is what will they will remember when they are later faced with the pluralistic idea that biblical teaching is harmful or unloving. The love of their father will keep pointing them to the Author of Truth. 

Guilt is a poor motivator

In theory, I understand the difference between character development and behaviour modification. But in practice, I find that I spend a lot of time explaining the cause-and-effect principle to my children.

Chris concluded one of his sessions with a powerful statement. “Guilt is a poor motivator; love is a lasting one.”The gospel turns our feelings of guilt into signposts of God’s grace and mercy. Trust the power of the gospel in your parenting.

We reproduce what we are