Find Your Way Home

fywh-cover God has been, as I asked Him to do, breaking my heart for what breaks His. What moves Him to show love, grace and compassion to me and the rest of the world… how can I do the same?

How can I live as Jesus lived? When I see pain and suffering that I do what I can to reach out and share the abundant love and compassion God has given to me?

Put together as a short devotional book, “Finding your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart” broke my heart and then inspired me. The women (over 100 contributors) who are current residents, graduates, staff and volunteers of Nashville’s Magdalene house put their collected experiences into a little book that left me smiling and weeping. It won’t take you long to read it, but it will take days to process their moving stories of life on the edge.

The most powerful statement to me came in chapter 3 “Cry with your Creator.”  The woman writes of being sick, skinny, and filthy.

“I will never forget just standing at the edge of Dickerson Road with tears streaming down my face.  Someone please help me.”

I read it and cried.  I could not stop crying.  I tear up every time I think about it. How many people drove by and didn’t notice her?  How many people are begging on the inside for someone to see them? To be kind to them? It was personally convicting in that I would be one of those people – so busy, so distracted that I would not look around to see who was hurting and how I could provide comfort.

Matthew 10:42 states “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (NIV) That would include the bag of chips and soda that brought one woman to Magdalene (ch. 12 – Show Hospitality to All.)

The Thistle is the symbol of both the community and the farm that makes body care products. Why the thistle?

“Thistles grow on the streets and alleys where the women of Magdalene walked. Considered a weed, they have a deep root that can shoot through concrete and survive drought. And in spite of their prickly appearance their royal and soft purple center makes the thistle a mysterious and gorgeous flower. Being a Thistle Farmer means the world is our farm, and that we choose to love the parts of creation that others have forgotten and condemned.”

I love that there are ministries (within churches and para-church) that are reaching out to those that are largely forgotten. Examples include Hookers for Jesus and in Nashville, Emmaus Church does outreach to strippers, the gay community and the homeless saying ‘God loves you as you are.’

What I take away from this book:

  1. God loves everyone more than we know.
  2. There are people out there who will love you like He does.
  3. I need to learn and continually practice how to love like He does.
  4. Small kindnesses matter.

Each chapter paints a picture of love and grace. It shows the long process of healing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But the love remains.

Just a quick editorial note: I was asked to write a review and received a copy of the book. Also, the book should not put off anyone who does not believe in God. While we can argue about eternity later, I believe we can all agree that the world is in dire need of more love, compassion, and grace. The source of that is your choice.

See also: Born into Brothels, The Pussycat Preacher (both documentaries are available to rent on Netflix)

“You can’t save them all…”

WorldNetDaily linked to a story that is an update about one of the young stars from one of my favorite documentaries ever, Born into Brothels.

A full update from early 2008  on the kids may be found here.

Avijit, who is why I adore the film, is attending NYU.  Others are married.  A couple of others are still in school.  When Avijit said “there is no hope to be found here” (paraphrase), I cried.  It breaks my heart that he felt that way.  I sat there, convicted… having been given means and an opportunity and did nothing.  I did buy two prints that went into the charity they established.  My full thoughts from April 2004 may be found on my old blog.

The Times of India caught up with Puja.  She was given a chance to study in the US and her mother refused to let her leave.  I know they arranged for schooling in India.

Now Puja has entered the sex trade… like her mother.  She’s financially well-off.  Pays for her apartment, her mother’s and another room to meet clients.

My heart breaks for this young woman.  I read her story and cried.  I couldn’t stop crying.  To have help presented to you, to reject it for whatever reason, and enter a life that may appear glamorous but is really a prison… that is full of risk of disease and death.

Then it hit me…

Our Heavenly Father’s heart must break in ways similar every time we reject Him.  He offers us love, grace, forgiveness, peace, kindness… and in our pride, we turn on our heels and move away from Him.

What to Believe In

William said this in a comment

Obama is… a kind of secular god-as-government messiah.

I was listening to James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word from a day or two ago.  He was talking about an exchange he had with John Piper at a conference.  Piper talked about being a Calvinist.  MacDonald took issue with that word.  In an exchange of letters after the event, MacDonald explained that he believed John Calvin, John Wesley, Augustine, Apostle Paul, etc… were brilliant men who helped to enrich our faith, but to refer to ourselves as anything other than a Christian was wrong.  It was elevating a human to a place reserved for Christ alone.

He also warned of placing our hope IN people for provision, salvation, etc…

I had to pause the audio, sit there, and think.  I never liked the term “Obamessiah” because I thought it was way too over the top and divisive.    His campaign slogan is “change we can believe in.”  This implies that he is the agent of that change.  Believe in him and off we go to a glorious new future.

However, given the reaction by ardent supporters and the every day people I ride the bus with… it isn’t too far off from the expections people have of him.  This has caused a change of rhetoric from him – being very cautious with his words about how fact the economy will recover (for example).

Their hope is IN him – to fix, to provide, to save them and the US from complete and total destruction.  I would hazard a guess that their faith in Obama is equal or greater than their faith (speaking of those that are Christian) in Jesus Christ.

Where is the line between supporting someone (a candidate or past0r) and putting your faith, hope and trust in a created being rather than God?  I am not sure.  It did cause me to reflect on how I view certain pastors – that maybe I was a bit starry eyed and let myself get swept away with their words rather than those of the Bible.

Back to what MacDonald said, I don’t think it is wrong or bad to use terms like Pauline (to refer to the Apostle Paul and his teachings) or Calvinist (those of John Calvin) and so on.  If you are using them as a descriptor of their teaching and position, ok.  When you start to go into “If you aren’t a Calvinist, you are going to hell” then…. we may have some problems.

They are synchronized…

1)  This is why most white people shouldn’t dance

2)  This is why the Church of Christ prohibit dancing

3)  This is a really good example of why the World thinks Christians are lame

But, you know… even after saying all of that… it’s clear they practiced and worked hard on it.  I know I shouldn’t judge it because maybe they are really trying to praise God and because I happen to think it’s lame doesn’t diminish their worship.