Sep 16 2010

Out Live Your Life - See the Need; Touch the Hurt (Chapter 7)

 *Chapters posted will be made available on the Lisa & Eric page for one week.  To purchase Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado, click here. All author royalties from the book will go towards building water wells in Uganda*

Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado

Chapter 7

 

 

See the Need; Touch the Hurt

Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye . . . He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up.

—Acts 3:4, 7 (msg)

Click Here to listen to what Max has to say on this chapter

 

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

(Mark 6:34 niv)

Gracious Lord, in the Bible you are called “the One who sees me,” and I know that your eyes are always upon me to guide and protect and bless and correct. You have given me eyes too. Grant me the power to use them to truly see. Help me see those you put in my path—really see them, with all their hurts, their desires, their longings, their needs, their joys, and their challenges. As you open my eyes, prompt me to open wide my arms to offer whatever help and encouragement I have to give. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

Questions for Discussion

1.   “Human hurt is not easy on the eye.” Tell of a time you encountered suffering that was painful to observe. Describe a time you were hurting and someone made you think he or she really saw you.

 

2.   What does it communicate to people in need, especially those who are not beautiful, when you look directly at them, in their eyes?

 

3.   Take note of each meaningful touch you find in the following miracles of Jesus: Matthew 9:20–22; Mark 1:40–45; Mark 7:32–35; Luke 8:51–55; Luke 13:11–13; John 9:1–7. Did Jesus need to touch people to heal them? Why do you think some form of touch was part of each healing?

 

4.   Peter and John gave more than the money the crippled beggar asked for in Acts 3. What resources do you have—beyond money—that you could give to people in need?

 

5.   For Peter and John the strategy of kind eyes meeting desperate ones and strong hands helping weak ones unleashed a miracle of God. How could you live out this strategy?

Ideas for Action

 Take time this week to look people in their eyes. When you talk to someone you know is needy, maintain eye contact with him or her much longer than you normally would. Reflect on how this helps you really see people’s needs in a new way. It will have greater impact if you keep a journal or write a summary at the end of the week, describing how this experiment affected your perspective.

 

 This week, go out of your way to visit a person in need. When someone you know is in the hospital, visit that person to show you care. Go to a nursing home this week to extend a compassionate touch to others. Start by shaking people’s hands or giving them an appropriate hug. Ask if you can pray for them, and lay a hand on their shoulders (you could even pray silently if you feel more comfortable doing so). As you head home, reflect on how meaningful the visit was. Also, consider how you feel after these visits, compared to how you felt on the way there.

“Reprinted by permission.  Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference by Max Lucado, 2010, copyright date, Thomas Nelson Inc. Nashville, Tennessee.  All rights reserved.”

Sep 15 2010

Out Live Your Life - Open Your Door; Open Your Heart (Chapter 6)

*Chapters posted will be made available on the Lisa & Eric page for one week.  To purchase Out Live Your Life, click here. All author royalties from the book will go towards building water wells in Uganda

 

Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado

 

 

Chapter 6

Open Your Door; Open Your Heart

They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts.

—Acts 2:46 (ncv)

Click here, to listen to what Max has to say on this chapter.

 

Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

(1 Peter 4:9–10 nlt)

 

Heavenly Father, every breath is a gift from your hand. Even so, I confess that sometimes my own hand remains tightly closed when I encounter the needs of others. Please open both my hand and my heart that I might learn to open my door to others. As you help me open my heart and hand, O Lord, I ask that you also prompt me to open my life to those who need a taste of your love and bounty. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

 

 

Questions for Discussion 

      1.   Do you know someone who is a great example of hospitality? What makes that person seem hospitable?

2.   How are you currently using your home as a tool in helping others? How could you make your kitchen, your backyard, your living room, or even your dorm room into a place of intentional hospitality?

 

3.   What keeps you from inviting others into your home? How could you remove those barriers? In what ways do you too often listen to the “Martha Stewart voice” and miss the point of hospitality?

 

4.   Read each of the following passages about hospitality: Acts 16:15, 34; Acts 21:8; Acts 28:2, 7; Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 5:10; Titus 1:8; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9–10; and 3 John 1:8. How should we view hospitality in light of these verses?

 

5.   Name some people you would like to invite into your home soon. Set a time in the next two weeks to open your door to one or more of these people.

Ideas for Action

  Start a routine of hospitality in your life so it is always happening. Designate one meal a week as your “hospitality meal,” and always plan to have people over. For example, you could invite friends every week to watch a ball game—an open invitation to enjoy your hospitality and your television. Or prepare a pot of soup every Saturday night. Set up a hospitality station on your front porch or in your driveway, and serve bowls of friendship to your neighbors.

 

 Intentionally include others at your special family events. Invite a single person over for Christmas Eve dinner. Have a family in need join you for Thanksgiving, or take the turkey and have the meal in their home. On Mother’s Day celebrate some of the older women in church who never had children or whose children are far away. Keep an eye on individuals who sit alone or have yet to make friends in your church, and invite them over for a meal (even if you get take-out food on the way home).

 “Reprinted by permission.  Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference by Max Lucado, 2010, copyright date, Thomas Nelson Inc. Nashville, Tennessee.  All rights reserved.”

 

Sep 14 2010

Michael O'Brien

Michael O'Brien has had a career in Christian music for over 20-years, as both a solo artist and with the band Newsong. He joined us for a morning mixed with fun songs (click here to listen to his "Low Fat Latte" song) and his raw, honest story.  For years he battled a secret sin that nearly destroyed his marriage and the health of his family.  See Michael's incredible testimony of how God set him free and restored his family below ...

 

Sep 14 2010

Out Live Your Life - Team Up (Chapter 5)

*Chapters posted will be made available on the Lisa & Eric page for one week.  To purchase Out Live Your Life, click here. All author royalties from the book will go towards building water wells in Uganda*

Chapter 5

Team Up

Now all who believed were together.

—Acts 2:44

In 1976 tremors devastated the highlands of Guatemala. Thousands of people were killed, and tens of thousands were left homeless. A philanthropist offered to sponsor a relief team from our college. This flyer was posted in our dormitory: “Needed: students willing to use their spring break to build cinder-block homes in Quetzaltenango.” I applied, was accepted, and began attending the orientation sessions.

 

There were twelve of us in all. Mostly ministry students. All of us, it seemed, loved to discuss theology. We were young enough in our faith to believe we knew all the answers. This made for lively discussions. We bantered about a covey of controversies. I can’t remember the list. It likely included the usual suspects of charismatic gifts, end times, worship styles, and church strategy. By the time we reached Guatemala, we’d covered the controversies and revealed our true colors. I’d discerned the faithful from the infidels, the healthy from the heretics. I knew who was in and who was out.

 

But all of that was soon forgotten. The destruction from the earthquake dwarfed our differences. Entire villages had been leveled. Children were wandering through rubble. Long lines of wounded people awaited medical attention. Our opinions seemed suddenly petty. The disaster demanded teamwork. The challenge created a team.

 

The task turned rivals into partners. I remember one fellow in particular. He and I had distinctly different opinions regarding the styles of worship music. I—the open-minded, relevant thinker—favored contemporary, upbeat music. He—the stodgy, close-minded caveman—preferred hymns and hymnals. Yet when stacking bricks for houses, guess who worked shoulder to shoulder? As we did, we began to sing together. We sang old songs and new, slow and fast. Only later did the irony of it dawn on me. Our common concern gave us a common song.

 

This was Jesus’ plan all along. None of us can do what all of us can do. Remember his commission to the disciples? “You [all of you collectively] will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8 niv). Jesus didn’t issue individual assignments. He didn’t move one by one down the line and knight each individual.

 

“You, Peter, will be my witness . . .”

 

“You, John, will be my witness . . .”

 

“You, Mary Magdalene, will be my witness . . .”

 

But rather, “You [the sum of you] will be my witnesses . . .” Jesus works in community. For that reason you find no personal pronouns in the earliest description of the church:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy. (Acts 2:4246 nlt)

The cameo contains only plural nouns and pronouns.

 

“All the believers.”

 

“Devoted themselves.”

 

“Awe came over them all.”

 

“All the believers met together . . . and shared everything.”

 

They sold their property and possessions and shared.”

 

They worshiped together . . . and shared their meals.”

 

No I or my or you. We are in this together. We are more than followers of Christ, disciples of Christ. “We are parts of his body” (Eph. 5:30 ncv). “He is the head of the body, which is the church” (Col. 1:18 ncv). I am not his body; you are not his body. We—together—are his body.

 

But his body has been known to misbehave. The brain discounts the heart. (Academics discount worshippers.) The hands criticize the knees. (People of action criticize people of prayer.) The eyes refuse to partner with the feet. (Visionary thinkers won’t work with steady laborers.)

 

A clear case of mutiny on the body.

If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. (1 Cor. 12:15–18)

The early Christians surely chuckled at these word pictures. What if the whole body were an eye? If you were a collection of eyeballs, how would you function? Five eyes on your hand, which is an eye, attached to your arm-sized eye, affixed to a torso eye from which extends your neck eye, and . . . The thought is ludicrous! You’d have to bathe in Visine. But, then again, you couldn’t bathe, for you wouldn’t have hands.

 

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” (v. 21).

 

We cannot say, “I have no need of you.” The megachurch needs the smaller church. The liberal needs the conservative. The pastor needs the missionary. Cooperation is more than a good idea; it is a command. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3 niv). Unity matters to God. There is “one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16 niv).

 

What if the missing ingredient for changing the world is teamwork? “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there” (Matt. 18:19–20 msg).

 

This is an astounding promise. When believers agree, Jesus takes notice, shows up, and hears our prayers.

 

And when believers disagree? Can we return to my Guatemalan memory for a moment?

 

Suppose our group had clustered according to opinions. Divided according to doctrines. If we had made unanimity a prerequisite for partnership, can you imagine the consequences? We wouldn’t have accomplished anything. When workers divide, it is the suffering who suffer most.

 

They’ve suffered enough, don’t you think? The Jerusalem church found a way to work together. They found common ground in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Because they did, lives were changed.

 

And as you and I do, the same will happen.

 

We will help more and more people, such as José Ferreira. He runs a small pharmacy in a slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s really more a tin-walled shed and bench, but since he sells medicine, it bears the hand-painted sign Farmácia. He started his store with three dollars’ worth of medical supplies that he bought from a larger pharmacy downtown. As soon as he sells the medicine, he closes his store, walks to a nearby bus stop, rides one hour to the larger pharmacy, and buys more stock.

 

By the time he returns, it is dark, so he waits until the next morning and repeats the cycle: open, sell the product, close the store, and travel to purchase inventory. Some days he does this twice. Since his store is closed as much as it is open, he scarcely makes a profit. He and his family live in the back of the shack and subsist on the equivalent of three dollars a day. If rains flood the favela and wash away his shack, he will lose everything. If one of his children comes down with dengue fever, he likely will not have the money for medicine. José knows this. But what can he do? He indwells the low-ceilinged world of the poor.

 

But while José is struggling in Rio, God is working in London. A good-hearted taxi driver named Thomas reads an article in a magazine. It details the fascinating process of microfinance. Microfinance provides small loans to poor people so they can increase their income and decrease their vulnerability to unforeseen circumstances. Thomas is not rich, but he is blessed. He would happily help a fellow businessperson on the other side of the world. But how can he? Can a British taxi driver help a Brazilian merchant? Through microfinance organizations, he can.

 

So he does.

 

A few days later José is offered a microloan of fifty-five dollars. In order to qualify for it, however, he has to join a borrower group of six neighboring businessmen. Each one receives a loan, but each member of the group cross-guarantees the loans of the other members. In other words, if José does not repay the loan, his friends have to cover for him. (Peer pressure turned positive.)

 

José puts the loan to good use. With the extra capital he is able to reduce his purchasing trips to once a week and keep his store open all day. After two years of growing his business and paying back his loans, he saves a thousand dollars, buys a plot of land in the favela, and is collecting cinder blocks for a house.

 

How did this happen? Whom did God use to help José Ferreira? A taxi driver. A humanitarian organization. Fellow favela dwellers. They all worked together. Isn’t this how God works?

 

This is how he worked in Jerusalem. The congregation is a microcosm of God’s plan. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. And when we do, statements such as these will be read more often: “The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them” (Acts 4:33–34 nlt).

 

Our only hope is to work together.

 

Some years back a reporter covering the conflict in Sarajevo saw a little girl shot by a sniper. The back of her head had been torn away by the bullet. The reporter threw down his pad and pencil and stopped being a reporter for a few minutes. He rushed to the man who was holding the child and helped them both into his car. As the reporter stepped on the accelerator, racing to the hospital, the man holding the bleeding child said, “Hurry, my friend. My child is still alive.”

 

A moment or two later he pleaded, “Hurry, my friend. My child is still breathing.”

 

A moment later, “Hurry, my friend. My child is still warm.”

 

Finally, “Hurry. Oh my God, my child is getting cold.”

 

When they arrived at the hospital, the little girl had died. As the two men were in the lavatory, washing the blood off their hands and their clothes, the man turned to the reporter and said, “This is a terrible task for me. I must go tell her father that his child is dead. He will be heartbroken.”

 

The reporter was amazed. He looked at the grieving man and said, “I thought she was your child.”

 

The man looked back and said, “No, but aren’t they all our children?”

 

Indeed. Those who suffer belong to all of us. And if all of us respond, there is hope.

 

Two are better than one,

because they have a good return for their work:

If one falls down,

his friend can help him up.

But pity the man who falls

and has no one to help him up!

 

(Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 niv)

O Lord, I have been called to be part of a holy community. You did not call me in isolation but placed me in the body of Christ, along with every other believer in Jesus throughout the world in every age. Let us grow as a team, work as a team, worship as a team, weep, laugh and live as a team. Grant me the wisdom and the strength to partner with you and with my brothers and sisters in Christ. For Jesus’ sake and in his name I pray, amen.

 Questions for Discussion

1.   When have you, as part of a group, faced a challenge so enormous that it caused the group to grow close? With what group of people are you facing a challenge right now, and how could you team up with them to face it?

 

2.   What creative teamwork stories or opportunities have you heard that are like the microfinance story about José in Rio and Thomas in London? Do you know of anyone doing great work like this or responding to other areas of need? How do people get started making such innovative connections?

 

3.   Consider traditional methods of helping people that also require teamwork. Have you ever been involved in these kinds of efforts? What was the impact on those in need? What did you learn from the experience?

 

4.   “Those who suffer belong to all of us.” How can you and the people closest to you lend a helping hand to those who suffer?

Ideas for Action

          “None of us can do what all of us can do.” Become a part of something bigger than yourself. Tackle a very large project that you could not do alone by finding out what your church is already doing. It may not be what you would do on your own, but you will make a broader and deeper difference than if you worked alone.

 

          There are many ways to partner with a team that is already in tune with and actively responding to people’s needs. Consider your own area of giftedness, and select a ministry that could use your talents to help others.

 

          Gather your neighbors to brainstorm needs in your area. Develop a plan of action that you can accomplish as a group.

 “Reprinted by permission.  Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference by Max Lucado, 2010, copyright date, Thomas Nelson Inc. Nashville, Tennessee.  All rights reserved.”

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