Social Justice

Obscure, No name, Unseen People

Photo Credit: Sam via Unsplash

 

The other day I had a conversation with someone about being called to minister to people no one sees—obscure, no name, unseen people.

This conversation has had me thinking a lot about the people Jesus reached out to.

If you know anything about Jesus from the Bible, then you know the stories of him touching lepers, healing the blind, and paralytics. You might even have heard the stories of Jesus reaching out the likes of tax collectors, harlots, and even the occasional religious leader gone astray.

All these incidents serve as reminders and examples for followers of Jesus to go an do likewise.

But it's, it's the obscure no name, unseen people that have me pondering—the few obscure stories about obscure people I'm questioning, thinking, and praying about.

About Jesus...

In a way the scriptures talk of Jesus being someone people didn't value or weren't mindful of.

This is what was said of him:

“He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.” Isaiah 53:2-4

So it seems natural for Jesus to love those who society doesn't value or afford dignity to—the people no one thinks about or the people we turn away.

Jesus loved them and interacted, even when he had nothing to gain from them.

I know many times in my ministry and Christian walk I subconsciously or at times consciously interacted and ministered to people because there is something to gain from them—whether it was for the ministry I was leading or even for my own dignity and self-worth.

But the power...

I believe the power of our witness of Jesus lives in the fact we have nothing to gain. I know Jesus did many things and got either accolades or condemnation, but it is his conversations with obscure no name people, people who time had forgotten—its these examples that show the power of his love, grace, and forgiveness.

Take the story of the Syrophoenician women and Demoniac in Gerasenes. Neither of these people were brought to Jesus like many of the others. They either came to Jesus on their own or Jesus crossed paths with them.

Demon Possessed Man (Luke 8:26-39)... The demoniac didn't even have his own name. His name came from demons. When he was set free, the people didn't care about him, they only cared about their livestock.

Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30)... She came to Jesus herself. She was willing to be likened to a dog eating scraps fallen from a table, if only Jesus would heal her daughter. Talk about someone with no dignity left.

We, Jesus followers are people of a second chance, and some of the people who need a second chance on life the most are people who we can't even put a label on and many times we don't even see or choose not to see.

Jesus doesn’t need your cool for His kingdom. He needs you to love obscure people.

Do you have any people in your life who don't even cast a shadow? Do you notice them? Can you love them?

Three Recommendations From a Former Archbishop

pope selfie_2658134b  

There is so much chatter on the line (another way of saying on the internet--you can thank the movie The Internship) about gay marriage, progressive vs conservative Christianity, women elder/pastor, should women be allowed to preach, and etc...

I'm sure these topics need to be discussed and the conversations need to be had.

But much like the WorldVision incident, the ones who get lost in the shuffle in these debates are the least, the hurting, and the lost.

I am reading a book about Pope Francis, by Michel Cool called, "Francis: New a World Pope." It's a quick read, only about 80 pages or so—it's a short biography about, well, the new Pope. (All Evangelical people can gasp now)

Cool mentions three things Pope Francis would say to parish priests when he would make pastoral visits to them, when he was Archbishop of Argentina:

"His three recommendations: practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all."

 

Photo Credit: Telegraph.uk

 

These are good and wise words for all Christians to hear and practice—practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all.

No matter what side of the issue(s) you rest your feet on, it would be good for all of us to undertake these three recommendations of Pope Francis, and demonstrate them to our neighbors.

When we do this, we bear authentic witness of Jesus to those who oppose us, to the least, the hurting, and the lost.

Like I said earlier, I am sure the topics I mentioned need to be discussed and debated, but may it never be at the expense of our Christian witness of the exalted Jesus and His work of forgiveness and reconciliation, and those who need to hear the message.

Restoring human dignity is more important than proving someone is wrong.

When our main objective is to prove who is right and who is wrong, we in fact create a kind of Pharisaic system that neglects the people underneath the issues. We can inadvertently drive people away from the message of the gospel and ultimately Jesus. Yes, both progressives and conservatives can become Pharisaic and cause people to stumble and fall.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Three Recommendations From a Former Archbishop

pope selfie_2658134b  

There is so much chatter on the line (another way of saying on the internet--you can thank the movie The Internship) about gay marriage, progressive vs conservative Christianity, women elder/pastor, should women be allowed to preach, and etc...

I'm sure these topics need to be discussed and the conversations need to be had.

But much like the WorldVision incident, the ones who get lost in the shuffle in these debates are the least, the hurting, and the lost.

I am reading a book about Pope Francis, by Michel Cool called, "Francis: New a World Pope." It's a quick read, only about 80 pages or so—it's a short biography about, well, the new Pope. (All Evangelical people can gasp now)

Cool mentions three things Pope Francis would say to parish priests when he would make pastoral visits to them, when he was Archbishop of Argentina:

"His three recommendations: practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all."

 

Photo Credit: Telegraph.uk

 

These are good and wise words for all Christians to hear and practice—practice mercy, have apostolic courage, and make yourself available to all.

No matter what side of the issue(s) you rest your feet on, it would be good for all of us to undertake these three recommendations of Pope Francis, and demonstrate them to our neighbors.

When we do this, we bear authentic witness of Jesus to those who oppose us, to the least, the hurting, and the lost.

Like I said earlier, I am sure the topics I mentioned need to be discussed and debated, but may it never be at the expense of our Christian witness of the exalted Jesus and His work of forgiveness and reconciliation, and those who need to hear the message.

Restoring human dignity is more important than proving someone is wrong.

When our main objective is to prove who is right and who is wrong, we in fact create a kind of Pharisaic system that neglects the people underneath the issues. We can inadvertently drive people away from the message of the gospel and ultimately Jesus. Yes, both progressives and conservatives can become Pharisaic and cause people to stumble and fall.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

What's on my mind this morning.

What's on my mind this morning:

- I'm so thankful that I get to be the pastor of Ascent Christian Church - I really love preaching. - And I really love preaching through our current series--I believe it will have a huge impact on our church. - We have some amazing people leading ministries in our church. - I'm very excited about who God has placed at our church and the gifts they have. - I am very excited about this coming year. - And the ministry that will be happening at Ascent!

- The realization that we are all made in the image of God is having an impact on how I view and treat people. - #LoveYourNeighbor - We are all broken people. Just some recognize it. Get healing. and become better for it. - I love the fact our church family is willing to acknowledge our messy spirituality.

- The state of Oregon just passed legislature on Marriage. - It was an emotional moment in Oregon history. - #OregonMarriageEqualityRuling. - I don't agree with everything Rep. Mike McLane said. - But he had some wise words to say to the people of Oregon:

20140519-214147-78107394.jpg - Regardless your view of this legislation, we are all made in the image of God and need Jesus. - Now is the time for the church to live out Jesus commandment to love your neighbor. - Luke 10:25-37 - #LoveYourNeighbor

- Humbled that I get to be a part of the Sisters, OR church plant management team: Mountain Range Christian Church - This makes me look forward to our next partnership church plant in Oregon with the OCEF.

- There are a lot of exciting things happening at Boise Bible College in Boise, ID.

- Jeff Walling is one of the best story tellers I've ever heard.

- You're never to old to get a lecture from your dad... - I did yesterday. Yes I deserved it. And no I'm not ready to talk about it :) - I have the best wife a man could ever hope for. - I don't deserve my kids--they are most amazing people I've ever met! - My kids have made some really cool friends--they are a blessing from The Lord.

- I'm fortunate to have friends like Mike, Tony, and Gavin--I love those guys from Warrenton and Astoria, OR.

- Prineville, OR is a beautiful place.20140519-212815-77295210.jpg - I went to The Kilns coffee house yesterday--it's in Bend, OR. - It has a very cool vibe. - And it houses Kilns College. They have a Master of Arts in Social Justice, which I find a bit intriguing.

- The movie 12 Years A Slave, makes me angry (I watched it last night for the first time). - I prefer Smallville over 24. - I like beards. - And probably will grow mine back in the next couple of weeks.

Joe

#BringBackOurGirls: Keep Hope Alive For The Missing Girls In Nigeria

#BringBackOurGirls: Keep Hope Alive For The Missing Girls In Nigeria

I am normally reserved when it comes to social justice issues—not that I don't believe in activism, it's just I usually go about my involvement quietly or in less discreet ways. However, something has caught my attention that I can't seem to shake.

Many of you are aware of events that took place in Nigeria back in mid-April, where over 276 young girls, between the ages of 15 to 18 years old, both Christian and Muslim alike, were kidnapped by extremists simply because these girls were getting an education.

If you want to read more in depth details about this incident, New York Times columnist, Nicolas Kristof, wrote an article on this atrocity here: 'Bring Back Our Girls'

Today the Nigerian government has asked for help from the United States government. Relevant has an article on this developing story: "Nigerian President Asks U.S. to Help Find Kidnapped Girls."

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But what can we do to help advocate for these girls?

Should we keep silent and assume world governments will be on top of this? My answer is no—we need to be a voice for the voiceless, and keep hope alive for these young women! You are not helpless. You can make a difference.

 

Social media entrepreneur and social justice activist/advocate, Shaun King, recently started tweeting the names of the missing girls on his Twitter account. As Shaun has indicated in the tweet above, we need to fight for their rescue and advocate for them.

You can follow along with Shaun King's tweets here: @ShaunKing.

As a dad of two girls, I can only imagine what fathers in Nigeria are going through... As a dad of two daughters, I am outraged and sickened by this evil!

shaunkingtweet1photo 2

Somethings you can do to help...

I want to encourage all my readers to take timeout of your busy schedules and read through Shaun's tweets and pray for the missing girls and remember their names. Pray for them and their families. Pray for their kidnappers, that they will release them.

If you're on Twitter, follow Shaun King (@ShaunKing) and retweet the names of the girls he is tweeting. Write your congress person and tell them you want them to get involved, and the list could go on and on...

#BringBackOurGirls: Keep Hope Alive For The Missing Girls In Nigeria