Tag Archives: compassion

Be just and merciful. Be inspired.

be inspiredAs part of our month-long be inspired series, here’s one more conversation from the archives with Erina Ludwig, a Londoner now living in Indianapolis. Erina is  half of the musical duo The Yellow Kites (with her husband Kendall) and is the author of Unnoticed Neighbors: A Pilgrimage into the Social Justice Story. 

• • • • • 

1. Why are you passionate about biblical justice? www.bohemianredimages.com

When I hear the words biblical justice it conjures up images of divine wrath but also an unyielding desire to see every human being flourish.

I am in no way tied to rules for the sake of keeping up appearances. I don’t do things because they’re written down somewhere. I find compassion is written in my very core and I am moved to action because of it. I see us, human beings, as being capable of so much and yet bypassing it for other trinkets. And so biblical justice is remembering we’re all walking this earth together, to remember each other, to be kind, to feel anger but let it go and for the love of all that makes us human, to treat others with respect and dignity regardless of how different they are.

The few stories we have of Jesus’ dealings with people in the Bible best capture that desire. The woman caught in adultery and dragged to Jesus’s feet and his delicate but divisive response makes me cheer. He knew how to love others and what right to be done to them.

unnoticedneighbors2. Injustice in our world can seem so overwhelming and discouraging. Ever felt that way? And how can we overcome discouragement & inertia and move forward into hopeful action?

I have a quarterly crisis throughout the year as I try and work out how we get out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves here in life. I feel overwhelmed and simply weep. I used to think that was a pointless response, but I have since learned it means my heart is still soft and still feels — which is legions better than a calloused old beater! I think it’s best to pick one thing that hits you in the guts and makes you want to vomit. Grab a hold of that injustice and start working towards chipping away at it. Remember what we do won’t always be explosions in the sky, but every act of kindness counts and changes this world we live in. (Whether it wants to be changed or not.) Continue reading

Advertisements

Leah Kostamo: Care and Keep

In honor of Earth Day today, I’m excited to welcome author and conservationist Leah Kostamo. Leah’s book Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community tells the story of her and her husband’s pioneering Christian environmental stewardship work in Canada. She’s a transplanted Arizona girl, a mom, and–as I discovered as we laughed and talked–a kindred spirit. Join our conversation . . . 

* * * * *  

leahheadshotLeah, let’s start by hearing a bit about what you do in your work.

About 10 years ago we started the first Christian environmental center in Canada with A Rocha, an international Christian organization that works in 20 countries around the world. For people who haven’t been to our center before, I describe it like a youth hostel meets the Sierra club and then wrap that all up with Christian hospitality on an organic farm.

We focus on doing three things: First is environmental education. Then we do conservation work—basically just studying the habitat where we are and working to preserve it. (We’re on a stream that has four species of salmon so we do a lot of work on the stream). And then the third thing we do is we have a big organic garden and we have an organic box program where about 100 families get food from our farm, along with food banks and other means of help for those in poverty.

On my blog this month, we’ve explored environmental stewardship from several angles. I realize not everyone is as enthusiastic about this issue as you and I are, Leah! So if you were talking with someone who had concerns or was skeptical about the idea of environmental stewardship, what would you most want to say to that person?

 I would start with Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” That’s our starting point. I think it is also important to primarily use the word creation instead of environment because “creation” assumes a “Creator.” If there’s a Creator, then we turn to the biblical narrative in Genesis and see that it assumes stewardship. The two words used in Genesis 2 are care and keep. These are the same words used in Aaron’s blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you.” It’s critical that we understand this is God’s charge to humanity: to care and keep creation. Continue reading

Do: Shine!

“. . . in which you shine . . . like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:15).

“You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).

star nightMy new Flourishing Faith Bible study Shine Your Light explores service, compassion, justice, action . . . the doing side of our faith. Take time to journey through this excerpt as we wrap up our discussion on doing.

* * * * *

 “I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18b). Faith—believing in the good news—is intricately interconnected with action. Just as faith demonstrates itself in works, works proclaim our faith to the world. Our actions, demeanor, words, character, and way of life declare a message!

. . .  One powerful theme interwoven throughout the book of James is that what we believe ought to show itself in what we do and how we act:

• We’re to truly listen to God’s Word and respond by doing what it says (1:22-25)

• As believers in our compassionate, just, and merciful God, we’re to live the good news by caring for the poor, vulnerable, and overlooked (1:27; 2:1-13).

• Living the gospel means loving our neighbors as ourselves—and that includes seemingly “unimportant” people (2:1-13).

• Belief in the gospel demonstrates itself in our actions (2:14-26).

• Our actions and demeanor reveal that we are aligned with a new way of thinking as we live by values “from above” (3:13, 17-18).

• When God leads us to do good, it’s imperative that we respond (4:17).

• Materialism and injustice toward the poor are absolutely contrary to the gospel (5:1-6).

• Intimacy with God through prayer empowers a gospel-transformed life (5:13-20).

. . . What can you do today to proclaim the gospel through action? Continue reading

Loaded with Love

What a fabulous weekend I had serving as the speaker at Faith Church‘s women’s retreat this weekend!

This month, November, we’re diving into the idea of “doing” after a month-long reflection in October on “being.” However, since I’ve been away over the weekend (and, prior to that, was busy preparing for the retreat), we’ll start our discussion of doing with revisiting a blog post I wrote a few years ago: a short & sweet reflection on the wisdom Mother Teresa can bring to our “doing.”

• • • • •

I deeply admire Mother Teresa.  I have a book that compiles many of her powerful, written words (called A Simple Path) and in getting to know her through these words, I cannot help but be convicted and inspired by her devoted obedience to Christ — whom she deeply loved and proclaimed to be Lord (Romans 10:9) — and by her compelling life of service to the poor, sick, and lowly.

blog.love heartIn  A Simple Path, Mother Teresa’s words speak this truth into my life: “[T]his is God’s wish for us — to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.”

The second part of this statement is so crucial. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world. What issues can we address? Who can we serve and how, when so many need so much? But the Holy Spirit will guide us. If we are attentive to the Spirit, our task is to obey when he leads us. We are called to no more than that . . . and certainly to no less.

I also find inspiration in the words that the Missionaries of Charity have on a poster in the headquarters: “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into the doing.”

Teach us to load our service with love, Lord. To put deep, overflowing love into the task of service your Spirit has before us — whatever it may be.

Soul Pilgrimage: Meet Phileena Heuertz

As we wrap up this month’s focus on “being” and transition to a focus on “doing” for next month, I’m excited to invite you to take part in a conversation with author and ministry leader Phileena Heuertz. Through her own faith journey, Phileena’s been carving out a compelling marriage between being & doing — between the contemplative & active parts of Christian spirituality.

* * * * *

phileena2Phileena, welcome! Tell my readers a bit about yourself.  

It’s a pleasure to be a part of your blog today. I’ve spent my life in social justice work among the world’s poor. I’m a member of the New Friar movement, and for nearly 20 years my husband Chris and I co-directed Word Made Flesh (WMF). During that time we served in more than 70 countries building community among victims of human trafficking, survivors of HIV and AIDS, abandoned children and child soldiers and war brides.

Chris and I founded Gravity in 2012. Gravity is for people who care about their spirituality and want to make the world a better place. My primary work is public speaking, teaching and writing on contemplative spirituality, facilitation of contemplative retreats, and spiritual direction.

I’m a member of the Red Letter Christians, featured on The Work of the People and Q Ideas and known for my theological narrative, Pilgrimage of a Soul (IVP 2010).

Pilgrimage of a Soul - phileenaYour book Pilgrimage of a Soul describes a bit of your own journey from working as a missionary among the world’s poor to a much-needed sabbatical that eventually revolutionized your faith. Can you tell my readers a bit of your story? 

Sure. I had spent many years serving among people in poverty—children and families affected by HIV and AIDS in India; women and girls enslaved in the commercial sex industry all over Southeast Asia and South America; children living on the streets in urban centers across the globe. And I thought I’d seen it all—the worse of poverty and injustice. But then my work took me to Freetown, Sierra Leone at the peak of the war over blood diamonds.

The human brutality I witnessed in Freetown was like nothing I’d ever seen. Young girls forced to watch the horrific amputation and murder of their parents, taken as “war brides” and subjected to every form of abuse—often gang-raped.

Boys as young as 5 and 6, forced to amputate the arm of their parents or be brutalized themselves, conscripted into the military or rebel army, given drugs and involuntarily compelled to carry weapons that were at times too heavy for them and forced to commit unspeakable crimes of massacre, murder and rape.

I returned from Freetown empty of answers for the world’s problems and questioning God’s goodness. This crisis of faith plunged me into a classic wrestling with God scenario in which I became very aware of my limitations and deep need for God. Continue reading

You . . . Shining

I return again and again to this passage – for conviction, for inspiration, for realignment, for truth. God’s people were worshipping him through fasting and rituals, but God asked for something deeper . . . for something harder.

light flower“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to cloth them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear . . . If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land” (Isaiah 58:6-11).

God invites YOU to shine your light. To shine your light through good-news actions of mercy, through compassion, through justice. To shine your light through good-news words of truth, of grace, of the Cross, of the empty tomb, of freedom. The light of the world lives within you . . . and shines through you.

ShineYourLight CVR-1Thank you for joining me this month in our discussion of justice! If you want to explore this topic further, check out my new Flourishing Faith Bible study Shine Your Light. Along with justice, it digs into scriptural themes like service, evangelism, mercy, and compassion.

Next month, we’ll look at a theme close to my heart: Cherish Your Family.

Just 3: Amber Robinson

Join me for a great conversation in which I’m asking just 3 women just 3 questions about living justly. Today meet Amber Robinson —  a speaker for Compassion International, the author of Mercy Rising: Simple Ways to Practice Justice and Compassion, and a talented pianist. I’m so privileged to count Amber as one of my friends.

* * * * * 

amberrobinson.com2_1. Why are you passionate about biblical justice?

I never set out to be “passionate about biblical justice.” In college, I took a spiritual gifts test and scored high on a couple gifts, medium on many others, and glaringly low on one gift – and that gift was mercy. So it’s ironic that many people say that justice is my “thing”, when it is obviously something that I don’t come by naturally.

Through a very long trial with health issues, God revealed to me a lot of selfishness. I realized that my world was all about me.

I began reading Scripture more earnestly – I was amazed by all of the commands to help those in our society who face injustice, and knew I needed to act on these commands. It was very hard to reorient my thinking because we are taught, even in our faith culture, to focus on ourselves and our nuclear families.

I am passionate about my work with Compassion International and slavery prevention because it works. I have seen the lives of children all around the world changed. Despite the population increases in poor countries, we are turning the tide on poverty.

Beyond the help for others, we are really helping ourselves. It is an emotionally, spiritually, physically healing journey to die to self. I feel a joy and peace that I never had before.

I feel like my life has more clarity and focus and integrity. My old thought pattern was, Once I get my finances, health, etc. in order, then I can do justice, but God’s way is this: Die to yourself, obey me, and I will give you all the rest.

We can’t give in to the lie that the people who are immersed in this kingdom work have an easier life in some way and that is why they are involved. We all have big reasons not to do this. But we can get past these excuses and start living the abundant life promised to us.

Presentation-Color-2-291x3002. All the wrong and injustice in the world can feel so overwhelming. How can we overcome discouragement?

We have a choice to make about how we will view God. We see a servant in Matthew 25 who viewed God as a harsh taskmaster, buried his talent, and did not make an impact on the kingdom.

In contrast, David and John saw Christ as a gentle, good leader. They described him as a shepherd. There were two common shepherding techniques in the Middle East:  drive the sheep from behind or lead them from the front and let them follow your voice. In Scripture we see the tenderness of the Shepherd leading the sheep from the front, finding them when they are lost, and leading them to food, drink, shelter, safety, and rest. Continue reading

Just 3: Erina Ludwig

I’m so happy to invite you into a conversation with 3 amazing women where I ask just 3 questions about what it means to live justly. Today meet my friend Erina Ludwig, a Londoner now living in Indianapolis. Erina is  half of the musical duo The Yellow Kites (with her husband Kendall) and is the author of Unnoticed Neighbors: A Pilgrimage into the Social Justice Story as well as the forthcoming book The Unnamed (coming September 2013). Join in on our conversation . . .

• • • • • 

1. Why are you passionate about biblical justice? www.bohemianredimages.com

When I hear the words biblical justice it conjures up images of divine wrath but also an unyielding desire to see every human being flourish.

I am in no way tied to rules for the sake of keeping up appearances. I don’t do things because they’re written down somewhere. I find compassion is written in my very core and I am moved to action because of it. I see us, human beings, as being capable of so much and yet bypassing it for other trinkets. And so biblical justice is remembering we’re all walking this earth together, to remember each other, to be kind, to feel anger but let it go and for the love of all that makes us human, to treat others with respect and dignity regardless of how different they are.

The few stories we have of Jesus’ dealings with people in the Bible best capture that desire. The woman caught in adultery and dragged to Jesus’s feet and his delicate but divisive response makes me cheer. He knew how to love others and what right to be done to them.

unnoticedneighbors2. Injustice in our world can seem so overwhelming and discouraging. Ever felt that way? And how can we overcome discouragement & inertia and move forward into hopeful action?

I have a quarterly crisis throughout the year as I try and work out how we get out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves here in life. I feel overwhelmed and simply weep. I used to think that was a pointless response, but I have since learned it means my heart is still soft and still feels — which is legions better than a calloused old beater! I think it’s best to pick one thing that hits you in the guts and makes you want to vomit. Grab a hold of that injustice and start working towards chipping away at it. Remember what we do won’t always be explosions in the sky, but every act of kindness counts and changes this world we live in. (Whether it wants to be changed or not.) Continue reading

Just 3: Shayne Moore

For the next 3 posts I’ll be interviewing 3 different women with just 3 questions about living justly. First is my writer-friend Shayne Moore. Shayne is a Chicago-land mom and the co-author of Refuse to Do Nothing: Finding Your Power to Abolish Modern-Day Slavery as well as the author of Global Soccer Mom: Changing the World Is Easier Than You ThinkSo grab a cup of java, get comfy, and listen in as Shayne joins us for “Just 3.”
* * * * *
1. Why are you passionate about biblical justice?
shayne-logoThere is much division in the world. We are divided by issues of religious belief and practices, racism, sexism, agism, you name it. I grew up in the conservative Evangelical church. It is my faith family and my heritage and there are many positive aspects of my tradition I happily pass on to my own children. Yet I admit to being soured by the fighting and division over issues such as women in leadership/ministry, worship styles, and what to do with homosexuals in our midst.
When I woke up to the reality of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the church was just beginning to talk about it and to be aware of the crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. When I learned how mothers and children, families just like my own were struggling in unthinkable poverty, disease and death, it broke my heart.
An internal mantra began to play over and over in my soul: On Earth as it is in Heaven. . .
There are many things of which I am unsure. Many doctrines, practices, traditions, teachings that I will never be 100% sure of and, if others are honest, neither will they. I am not God. It set deep within me I might be wrong about a lot of things — but if I am spending myself on behalf of the poor and oppressed (Isaiah 58-59), I’m not wrong. There is no HIV or AIDS in heaven. There is no sex trafficking and rape of children in heaven. There is no labor slavery in heaven. On Earth as it in heaven. 
I can work tirelessly on behalf of those struggling in extreme poverty, preventable disease, the evils of human trafficking, lack of education, political influence, property rights, and know I am not wrong. In my adult life, this truth has informed my faith and how I live it out. It is, quite frankly in the current tone of Evangelical sub-culture dialogue, one of the only things that makes me passionate about my faith. It brings meaning to my faith and the sometimes dark world we live in.
2. Injustice in our world can seem so overwhelming and discouraging. Ever felt that way? And how can we overcome discouragement & inertia and move forward into hopeful action?
Perhaps cliche, yet it runs through my head often: The reminder that working on issues of global social justice is not a sprint. It is a marathon. I have found a great way to not get burned out or discouraged is to surround yourself with others who are also passionate about bring change to our world and to our generation. The Body of Christ is so diverse and so are the ways every person can make a difference. Continue reading

Dig Deeper

chainsWant to explore justice further? Dig deeper by checking out these articles I wrote for Relevant magazine examining what biblical justice really is and what it can look like in our lives:

• What Does Justice Look Like?

• Kingdom Living From the Middle of Normal

• A Justice Manifesto

Also, my friend and justice scholar Chet Wood has a fantastic teaching series available on his web site In Paths of Righteousness. I highly recommend!