Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: will you love the nations with me on @TOMS “One Day without Shoes?”

I have done it now for two years. One day in April, I go without shoes. It is in hopes of someone asking me why and thus the opportunity to encourage them to do something about people in other parts of our world who do not have shoes.

Grant it, this is one of the best marketing ideas a company could have. It is a viral, grass-roots-driven, don’t-wear-shoes-so-people-will-buy-our-shoes-and-we-will-also-give-a-pair-away genius of an idea. And I understand that it does encourage people to buy a product, but it is a product from a company that is not perfect but is at least serious about providing a pair of shoes (and now eyeglasses, too) for people around the world who don’t have one.

Will you join me this year? 

April 10th. Don’t wear shoes.

Prepare your boss / teacher / place of business that you won’t be wearing shoes that day and tell them why. Encourage some other folks to do it with you. And don’t do it to get a pat on the back. Do it simply to encourage people to love the poor in a tangible way. It’s an easy thing to do that also raises our own awareness about how much we take for granted that we do have shoes.

Jesus mentioned something in Luke 3:11 I know is not easily lived and unfortunately is not often lived.

11 He replied to them, “The one who has two shirts must share with someone who has none, and the one who has food must do the same.”

May we think about how that might apply to what all is in our closet and pantry. In the meantime, may we go barefoot on for just on day.

And if you don’t own a pair of TOMS, I recommend them. I am wearing my fifth pair. But I won’t be on April 10th.

Will you join me?

CLICK HERE to read more about “One Day without Shoes.” And check out the trailer below for April 10th, 2012.

Looking forward to having to push the gas pedal in my car barefooted.
-jason

 

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: i’d like to hear from you – one organization loving the nations you have worked with and want to recommend to others???

Good Thursday to you! I wanted to take the post today for cultivating daily unto the nations to ask for some feedback from you.

What is one organization that is loving the nations in some specific way that you have worked with or supported that you would heartily recommend to others? What did you do with them? Is it an ongoing relationship or a one-time opportunity?

If anyone anywhere happens to read this and wants to chime in, please do so! I for one would like to see what you say. Please leave the name of the organization and your comments in the comment section of this post.

My friends Jamie and Zack just returned from Zambia, and I can tell you they were thoroughly impressed with Lifesong for Orphans and their work there. If you know anything about them, let me know, too, if you don’t mind.

Grateful that Jesus loves us like He does and invites us to experience His love as we love the nations together!!!

-jason

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: @AnnVoskamp shares her mother’s heart upon her oldest son’s leaving & returning from international missions.

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Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts and blogger extraordinaire on aHolyExperience.com, recently wrote her heart onto page regarding her oldest son’s first international mission service experience. He left. She prayed. Little bit of worry. He returned. She shared her reflections the whole way through.

In the context of cultivating daily unto the nations, I thought this was worth sharing. Worth sharing for anyone learning grace and love and service. Worth sharing for any mom and dad facing the notion now or later of “letting go and letting God” have your kids, and worth sharing for anyone encouraging those who serve internationally.

Hoping these three blog posts will encourage you as we cultivate the near love of Jesus by going near to the nations.
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Here is the post Ann wrote as she was preparing for her son to leave:

What a Parent Needs to Say to a Child Before They Leave

Here is the post Ann wrote as her son was gone:

When you’re worried while they’re gone: What to do in Hard Times

And here is an excerpt of her reflections upon his arrival home. She was reflecting upon the fact that he certainly was no prodigal for going away in this way, but her mind went to the heart and emotion of a parent eager for a child to return home. What if we parented like a “Prodigal Parent?”

Check this out:

I know there are no guarantees that anyone comes home again.

I know sometimes what messes our life up most — is the expectation of what our life is supposed to look like. Entitlement can leave you feeling entirely empty.

I know the He only means everything to reshape us and nothing to reduce us.

“Just…” I reach over to pick up his bag at the top of the escalator and I don’t know how to say this or why it even matters because he’s just come home from a mission’s trip and his eyes are all lit and he can’t stop smiling.

He’s hardly the prodigal but I want to kill the fattened calf and celebrate the miracle of return and how do I make sure he always knows?

“Just — no matter what story you’re carrying,” We pause at the top of the stairs and I reach over and grab his arm, the closest thing I’ve got to a bone marrow transplant. “Know you can always, always, always come home.”

Who, if you knew their whole story, wouldn’t you love?

He nods and forget wondering if maybe someday, some son will be a prodigal. Forget wondering if someday some prodigal son will come home again.

Forget that.

Because I”m the Prodigal.

I’ve been the Wayward Prodigal Parent. Prodigal in the negative sense. The wasteful one. Irresponsible in my spending.

The Prodigal Parent who’s extravagantly wasted too many gold moments, too much priceless time, too much of my spiritual inheritance on the blinking and the shiny and the fleeting. He takes his bag from my hand and I have no idea how his shoulders got so broad. We only inherit so much time.

How do you live so that when your kids think of the Grace of the Gospel, they think of you?

That’s the crux of the thing: By being the Wholehearted Prodigal Parent. Prodigal in the positive sense. The lavish one. Extravagantly, sacrificially abundant in my giving.

The Prodigal Parent who extravagantly loves, recklessly spending on sacrifice. The Prodigal Parent who wastes time waiting up, listening for, praying long.

The Prodigal Parent who lives this lavish mercy, this opulent, offensive grace.

I look over at my boy come home. Why hadn’t someone told me that parenting was less about avoiding prodigals but more about becoming a better Prodigal parent?

You can read Ann’s entire post by CLICKING HERE.

Thanks, Ann, for blessing us with your gracious heart and practical thoughts of living out a Father’s love as we cultivate daily.

-jason

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: how @TimTebow’s comeback against the Dolphins caused one couple to want to serve in Zambia…

It was all Tim Tebow’s fault.

He seems to get a lot of credit and blame lately. This is for something pretty cool, though, that hopefully in time will have as much impact as he and his family have in the Philippines.

Tebow’s first start was against the Dolphins back in October. It was the start of a winning streak that included 15 points in a little over two minutes. To be there live was amazing!!!

I am not gonna lie. I prayed hard in that 4th quarter for the Lord to give Tebow and his team the strength to pull that comeback off, trusting that Tebow would not steal the glory from the One who gave him this platform in the first place. I even cried when they scored the go-ahead 2-point conversion. You might say we were into the game! :)

My son and I had gone down to Miami for the game with some friends of ours from the church family of which we are a part, along with this guy named George. We picked him up on the way down along the Turnpike.

No, seriously, he was visiting with our family from Zambia. I had met him earlier in May, 2011 at an event I was teaching at in Philly. We really connected, and I was so grateful for his encouragement and new friendship. When he was in the states again, he was gonna come and visit with us. It happened to be last October when that happened, and it happened to be the weekend we had planned to go down to see Tebow and the Broncos face the Dolphins.

Equipped with his brand new Tebow T-Shirt, George accompanied this little section of the Westpoint family down to Miami.

The night before the game, we ate at an Outback Steakhouse. I like their croutons, but that is not important in this story. A husband and wife who were with us had been praying specifically for the Lord to show them a way that as a family they might give themselves away globally in a long-term, impactful way, impacting hopefully the folks they would serve but also understanding the impact it would have on their family. Well, who knew that the Holy Spirit wanted to have dinner with us at Outback just north of Miami. I guess he likes their croutons, too.

By the end of the dinner, that couple looked at each other with that “I guess Zambia is it” look.

Fast forward to today. In fact, to exactly an hour ago at 3:30. That husband, along with another husband that walks with them as family of God together, flew out on a jet-plane to Africa. They will be there for a few days exploring possible partnerships and opportunities. PLEASE PRAY FOR THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES, FOR SAFETY, WISDOM, AND DISCERNMENT.

I can’t wait to see what comes of this!!! How cool is it that God not only put His love on display for us, but also invites and involves us in getting to give His love away into others, even around the world. And how awesome that God loves us enough to invite us to experience what it is like giving His love away, understanding that we fully live when we fully love, as He has loved us.

May we continue to listen to God and do what He says, cultivating daily both among neighbors and nations, inviting a few other folks along for the journey with us.
-jason

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: how a picture on the fridge and a letter to a stranger and a prayer from a child can love the nations.

 

So organizations like Compassion International and World Vision and others get criticized sometimes for being too big and too many admin costs and not enough local leadership and local economic stimulation around the world. But sometimes I wonder if we criticize organizations for not doing it all the way we would want to or think it should be done, when maybe we ought to be more grateful that they are doing something that includes great resources, loads of relationships, and evidence of transformed lives.

I sponsored a Compassion kid back in 1993 while I was a college student. I wasn’t quite sure how I was gonna send that $30 every month, but I sensed that I should, no matter what. That child graduated from the Compassion program to move on into adult life with an education and some skills he might not have had otherwise. Most importantly, he graduated walking with Jesus.

My wife and I continue to sponsor two kids with Compassion. The most meaningful part to us, besides that those two kids are hopefully being encouraged and fed and taught from people who love them with the selfless love of Jesus, is to watch our kids grow in their awareness of the needs of other kids around the world.

Our kids see the Compassion kids’ pictures on the fridge. Our kids write them letters and draw them pictures. Our kids even pray for them from time to time.

And they may not realize it, but their Jen and I are intentionally cultivating into their growing hearts a love for the nations. We pray it will bear much fruit.

We also pray for the fruitfulness of the lives of those two Compassion kids. And how cool would it be for our kids to actually meet them one day! For now, the letter and picture relationship will have to be enough. But hopefully, our kids will think far beyond a college diploma and a good job and a spouse and kids.

Lord, we surrender our kids to you. May they love both neighbors and nations. May they give away what has been given to them, dreaming Your dreams and loving like You love.

Grateful. Hopeful. Both for the futures of those Compassion kids as well as our own.
-jason

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: one couple’s story of how they love the nations from right where they are…

My friends Chad and Cindy got wrecked by this transforming love of Jesus that compelled them to love neighbors and nations. They began to pray for specific, relational wisdom as to how they would could love the nations from where they are with their precious family. I asked them recently to answer a few questions that I thought would encourage the rest of us as we seek wisdom on cultivating daily unto the nations from right where we are.

Here are their responses:

:: you decided to use your everyday energy and resources to cultivate the near love of Jesus unto the nations, specifically to people in Ethiopia. Why did you do that?

Over several years, God gave us compassion for the children of Africa. From the child soldier in war ravaged Uganda, to the poorest of poor in Ethiopia, and to families to lack clean, safe water. Over time, that feeling of compassion and ever evolving understanding of the Gospel led us to action. Understanding (as best we could) the saving grace of Jesus Christ compels us to love our neighbor. For us, it’s a form of worship. We are so thankful for the blessings God has given us and want to share those blessings and the Gospel with those neighbors.

:: what have been some of the challenges along the way?

Some challenges were trying to discern between the general call to love the poor and the specific calling on our lives and how God wanted us to specifically respond. We strive to be faithful to God’s call. Also challenging is helping fellow Christians understand the need to love globally. Americans in particular need to look beyond our cities and our needs; we need to respond locally and globally. Ultimately, we know it is the Holy Spirit who must spur someone to act in love toward their neighbor.

::  what are two stories of fruit you have seen from what you have cultivated so far?

First, we were absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Advent Conspiracy in 2010. Many churches raised funds for a well at Chapa School in Awassa, Ethiopia. Many sites struggle for years to raise necessary funds and the Churches of West Orange did it in two months! The well was installed in June 2011 and I’ll always remember the absolute joy at the thought of what that clean, safe water will mean to that community.

Second, Chad and I felt compelled to raise money for Living Water International for more opportunities for clean water by running a half-marathon in January 2012. We set our goal for $1300, which would mean clean water for 13 families for an entire generation! We hit our goal and the funds went to the most needed places, particularly the Horn of Africa where there has been a horrible drought and famine. It felt wonderful to run for someone else! And drinking water at those water stops along the way of the race was very meaningful to me. I will never look at water in the same way again.

::  what would you suggest to someone wanting to get started in doing this themselves?

Just do it. Maybe God has been pushing you toward a particular action. Don’t be afraid to step out in faith with action. Some excellent books in understanding the need and how you can respond are:  Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt, Fast Living: How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty by Scott C. Todd, PhD., and Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

:: any specific ways someone can support what you are doing right now?

We are always looking for people willing to sponsor children at Chapa School. Children’s HopeChest (hopechest.org) is the sponsoring organization and they have many needs. Also, Living Water International (water.cc) is an excellent organization that a person could support.

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Thanks Chad and Cindy. So grateful for you. You can read more about Chad and Cindy at the “Go and Do the Same” website, the name of the ministry they started to love the nations.

May we go and do the same.
-jason

Cultivating Daily unto the Nations: a few thoughts on loving the nation that happens to also be our neighbor…

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It seems so far away from Orlando. And yet it’s only about a 2 and 1/2 hour plane ride. In today’s world, that makes them our neighbor. In terms of countries, in terms of states and provinces, they are. Canada to the US. The northeastern states to Quebec. And the largest city there is Montreal.

If I told you that demographic data states that less than 1% of the population there claims to be Jesus-followers, would you believe me, or would you think I was mentioning an eastern country that is far, far away from these “Christian” nations of the west?

If I told you that there were cities, not just communities, in Quebec that did not have a visible church presence, would you think I was speaking of another continent than our own?

This is where the water hits the wheel for me. This past summer, I began to ask myself what my belief in Jesus really means to me. Because if I really believe that the lost can be found in Him, that purpose is defined by Him, and that hope arrives in our lives because of His presence and His love, then would I not be burdened to take His love to both the neighbor next door and even the nation next door?

Or is this “Christian” stuff just for me and my wife and kids and our betterment and our blessing?

Please pray with me. I am not suggesting that we all need to learn a polished presentation and be armed with a truthful tract and go declare a meaningful message to a people we don’t even know. I guess what I am praying is that the Lord will awaken me, awaken us, to how His love given compels the one to whom it is given to live with personal presence embodying God’s glorious truth displayed via consistent compassion in the midst of ongoing relationships among a people we are really wanting to know. A people whom we care more about what they are becoming than about our own betterment.

This is what God did. The presentations of previous messengers had not been enough. Truth declared alone had not restored. But God in skin delivering truth in the embodiment of love, that was enough.

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 HCSB)

And Jesus said to His followers:

As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21 HCSB)

We do not save. But we are sent. And sent together simply to “make disciples.” To go be the family of God in the midst of the lost and lonely like Emmanuel has done with us. And we go as a learner of His ways empowered by His Spirit to be a lover in His way that those who have not found their way may find Him and simply believe that they are loved by a near God.

How might we embody both truth AND grace to both our actual neighbors (those in our daily pathways) as well as to our neighboring country?

Please pray, if you sense His leading to do so, for wisdom and response that we all might feel compelled to give the love that has been given to us.

-jason

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