Since you did not pull yourself out of the pit, nor illuminate yourself.

Quote

“A company of travelers fall into a pit: one of them gets a passenger to draw him out. Now he should not be angry with the rest for falling in; nor because they are not yet out, as he is. He did not pull himself out: instead, therefore, of reproaching them, he should show them pity. . . . A man, truly illuminated, will no more despise others, than Bartimaeus1, after his own eyes were opened, would take a stick, and beat every blind man he met.”
—John Newton2
Let us embrace the tenderness of Jesus and embody this habitual tenderness to others.
  1. Read Mark 10:46-52 to see the scene when Jesus restored blind Bartimaeus’ sight
  2. Cecil, Memoirs of the Rev. John Newton, p. 105.
 

What does clean water do?

Last Friday I shared with three fifth grade classes about the global water crisis. And what clean water does. 

In our brief time together I shared the story of two five-year-olds girls in Kenya and how clean water has the power to free a child to flourish in life, in whole communities. While I spoke broadly of this the direst of all global crises, the reality of 1,000 children dying today due to diarrhea from lack of clean water and sanitation can only hit us if we consider children are real people, and we enter their story. 

Children make the long walk home with containers of polluted water they scooped from holes they dug in a dry riverbed. (Note: Cheru out of the frame in these photos.) Carrying a tea kettle, Cheru Lotuliapus, 5, (wearing red skirt and green shirt below) walks with other children twice a day to dig for water in a dry riverbed in West Pokot, Kenya. A first-year kindergarten student, she carries water to school and returns home by way of the waterhole to refill her kettle. With other school children, she walks more than 6km a day for water.
Kenya (West Pokot County). Location: Ptoyo; sublocation: Kesot; village: Chepoyotwo. Sook program area

What is the power of clean water? What does it do?

Consider how two five-year-olds, Cheru and Kamama, who live near one another in Kenya. Yet their days and lives are vastly different due to one difference: Continue reading

 

Running their race for water with them

This week I read that every day, women and girls spend 200 million hours walking to collect water for their families. That’s 8.3 million days. More than 22,800 years. All in one day!

That figure is so daunting. Where can one begin to make an impact for these women and children? It’s not just the quantity of hours amassed, it’s also the dangerous treks for fetching poor quality water!I look at my eight-year-old daughter and ask why can she go to any faucet in the house and get clean drinking water on demand?

We get to be leaders in providing clean water, for the world’s future leaders. Every child deserves clean water, and those 200 million hours from each day can be better put to use in seeing families, villages, whole communities, regions and nations flourishing.

Families gather for Renew Church’s 6k for Water event in Oregon City, OR (April 2016)

Last year we hosted a 6K for Water in our city. The enrollment was gradual, and then some signups were rushed near end. While I tried to hand out flyers, I found that the real key was a personal invite. Known as a runner, many thought I would be able to compel other runners. Well, I’m here to tell you it is the unlikely ones who rise to the occasion.

6K for Water

The 6K isn’t really for runners; it’s not even for us.

My friend Dawson has two daughters, and is (or was, and used to proudly say) “NOT a runner.” That all changed last year, after he carried a five-gallon jug of water during the 6K for Water.

“How hard can it be?” he opined, later admitting it was the hardest physical challenge he’d ever endured. What’s more: young girls in Africa do this every day.

Dawson carried 5 gallon (40 lb) jerrycan full of water on the loop back

As the father of two daughters, he wanted to do it for them, and with them.

It wasn’t long until one step led to another as Dawson got motivated to change his life habits and patterns. We joke together that we who have so much comfort get most active when trying to get comfortable. It’s been fun to see him pursue discomfort. A few months into his running journey, accompanied with a plan of bodyweight exercises for whole health, and getting serious about the food the family ate together, Dawson asked if I’d select a course for a run test.

Taking last year’s 6K for Water signs, we set up a simple out-and-back course. He wanted to run at 6:00 AM on Monday morning, because that’s when his body wouldn’t feel like it. Plus, the early dark hours are when women and children must go the distance to fetch water.

During the effort, empowered by God’s Grace, Dawson reflected on his reasons to get healthy. I made him bark out the reasons: that he wanted to be healthy to play with his kids, and one day hold their kids. He ran further than he ever had before, beat his goal time, and afterward I knighted him, “You, my friend, are a runner.” 

My friend could change his life because someone came to run alongside him. And it hit us that this is what we get to do for those in Africa, Haiti, and India. Let us run with endurance their race alongside, for Jesus and all His saints attest it is worth it, and this life of faith can be run. In the most practical ways, clean water unlocks all their potential, and allows them to flourish in this life, learning of the One who offers them eternal life.

Setting audacious goals

Hunter family ready for the 6K for Water

Hunter family ready for the 6K for Water

Dawson and his wife Anna are now the 6K for Water host-site leaders for Team Renew for Water (join or donate here). We’ve set an even more ambitious goal, to more than double last year’s goal of providing water for 116 children. Let’s go for 250 or more! (Actually, let’s make it 500.) 

We’ve set an ambitious goal as church family. If we say “we’re a family of missionary servants,” that means we must also become willing to get uncomfortable and be inconvenienced. It starts with leaders who embrace and embody these truths.

Dawson and Anna now have the personal credibility to challenge everyone in the church to sign up, and offer a simple invitation for global change: we get to be a part of this! Of course, it’s just one hour for a 6K, and the inconvenience of fifty bucks. While I’m not convinced the imperative will work for everyone, we won’t stop the constant reminders, like a leaky faucet of clean water. I know the personal invitations offered with care and insistence will work.

Dawson’s oldest daughter Reagan asked if she could run with him. So one recent Saturday morning Dad delayed the day’s workout until she was awake. They laced up and ran a lap around the driveway. On the second lap Reagan stopped, revealing disappointment. What’s a matter? Reagan confided,

“I thought we were going running! Where are all the kids, where’s the face-painting, and the snacks?”

6K for Water kids bibsHer mind connected to the last time she ran with Daddy: amidst a big party, at a park where the 6K for Water started and ended. And while she may not (yet) grasp the whole run-for-others, it’s clear Dawson gets it.

Think about those 200 million (daily) hours noted above. These are women and children who matter.

They deserve access clean water. We can redeem their time and provide this water.

Would you give one hour to change that?

Since this week was World Water Day, you’re invited to use registration code WWD2017 for $10 off registration for both adults ($40 instead of $50) and children under age 15 ($15 instead of $25) — through Sunday night, March 26th).

originally posted on the World Vision Churches blog
 

In darkness: do you carry a lamp?

I like running in the dark. At first, it was unsettling to be surrounded by so much, well, darkness. Yet this happy discipline has grown on me. A habit of sorts, forged over these last few years (in patience), and I run early in part because that is the time of day when I’m not needed elsewhere. Four or five AM is well before responsibility gives a hug and won’t let go.

A question often comes up: isn’t it dangerous to run in the dark?

(You’d probably have to ask about the dangers the millions upon millions of women and children face while traveling miles upon miles every day to fetch water— six kilometers on average. Did you know that every day 200 Million hours are amassed in fetching water, mostly unsafe water, in developing nations? You can change that for someone, in just an hour. Join the 6K for Water. Do it!)

Running in the dark, where I live, is probably not as dangerous as running in the daytime. You see, there’s this phenomenon of being surrounded by massive bullets flying around, without much attention paid to where they’re going. (Cars, those bullets are cars driven by people.) That is, a daytime runner has to be constantly on the watch for inattentive drivers. Distracted, looking at devices, not looking for a runner, walker of cyclist. Pedestrians have the Right-of-Way, until they don’t and it’s too late. Plus, early mornings are quiet and peaceful, even (or especially?) in rain or snow; these are times I relish for moments to think, pray, BE. The lonely miles are always accompanied by LIGHT and reflectivity. Simply investments in rechargeable hand lights and headlamps make one seen and safe at the same time. Dark mornings are when one must bring a lamp. And a gift from our church family last Fall made capturing some of these moments quiet fun. “GoPro take photo,” is a simple voice command that later reveals a beautiful scene. Like this one …
Track Tuesday
In meditative moments like this, the Scripture comes into focus:

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Let the reader understand: there is plenty of darkness even in the light of day.

Coupled with this reflection on that verse:

“We are walkers through the city of this world, and we are often called to go out into its darkness; let us never venture there without the light-giving word, lest we slip with our feet. Each man should use the word of God personally, practically, and habitually, that he may see his way and see what lies in it. When darkness settles down upon all around me, the word of the Lord, like a flaming torch, reveals my way. Having no fixed lamps in eastern towns, in old time each passenger carried a lantern with him that he might not fall into the open sewer, or stumble over the heaps of ordure which defiled the road. This is a true picture of our path through this dark world: we should not know the way, or how to walk in it, if Scripture, like a blazing flambeau, did not reveal it.”
—C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David on Ps. 119:105

It must be asked: Do you use the word of God personally, practically, and habitually, that you may see your way and see what lies in it? (Find some good helps here.) 

Will you do this in the early hours, or in the “darkness” of daytime, even before discouragements and disagreements mount their assault? When all the good news and fake news and whatever news dissuades your heart from keeping up the good work of following Jesus no matter the cost? If you do this, in the darkness, your feet will not slip.

The most healthful thing you can do today is not so much run a mile, in darkness or daylight, but rather this: take the lamp of the Word of God and let it shine brightly on the world, on your mind, bringing light to your heart. Then you will be able to see clearly, to “capture” with the lens of the mind’s eye the beauty AND brokenness in each scene. Then you will be able to see reality as it really is. In His light do we see light. Even, and especially, in darkness.

Track Tuesday
(Photos by the author. Please do not use without my permission; happy to lend permission if you ask.)
 

Building on the Word of the Lord

We start a new year with a renewed emphasis as the Renew Church family.

worshipersartboard-4I’ll be preaching on how we can Build the Altar to God in our lives, a short three-week mini-series to commence 2017. We start with Worship (message for 1/1/17), and Community (1/8), and then our physical health (1/15). We want this to be Grace-driven effort, and mostly we want to please God (2 Corinthians 5:9).

As you consider your life in 2016 and lean into the new year, I invite you to ask the crucial question(s), and consider the direction you’ll take.

We can set goals, which can be a helpful exercise — for productivity, and any area of life, including exercise. If you’re a goal-setter, go for it.

Many people I know, mostly men in my anecdotal experience, roll their eyes when New Year’s Resolutions come up in conversation. Cynics say (or think), “I’ve tried that before … never again!” Or perhaps it’s best to keep one’s ambitions private?

In any case, let me suggest another route: envision your direction for the new year.

This way the mileposts are not bolted to the ground, but the trajectory of your life is set on course. What way will you go? What routines and habits will get you on that journey? Let’s call these routines and habits “rhythms”: ways of living and being and worshiping and serving. This is the “sacred mundane.” What direction will you go, and why rhythms of life will get you there.

When the Gospel is your reason for living, then you’ve have gospel reasons for how you plan out a life, a year, a month, a week, even a day or hour.

When I pause to consider my life’s direction, and ponder the simply rhythms it will take to stay on course, I’m at a posture of a worshiper. What in my life will worship Christ in the new year? And how will I go about it? Life becomes simplified, attainable.

From this perspective there are then a handful of essentials I’ll bring into each day, which when given priority, have the power to change me from the inside out. These are:

  1. Worship & Learn » how will I worship Christ through prayer and reading His Word?
  2. Serve & Be » how will I serve others and be in genuine relationship with them?
  3. Go as a Son » how will I please God the Father today in all I do?

These are the essentials, providing the values for the rhythms (routines and habits) I’ll pursue.

They flow out of an identity, for contrary to what Aristotle supposedly quipped we actually are not what we repeatedly do. WHOs come first, then DOs. Continue reading

 

More by less.

Every time we add something new to our schedule, we must take something out. Alongside your ‘to do’ list think about keeping a ‘don’t do’ list as well.

“Many times, developing the ability to spend time in the Bible and to hear what it’s saying is less about our aptitude for scripture and more about all the noise that exists around us. We all know we could use more Bible, but we often forget we could use less of everything else.”
—Jared Wilson, Abide

 

A Space & A Place: on being a Leadership Portrait.

“You may not think of yourself as a leader, but someone looks to you for leadership.”

This Summer our friend Lee Edward came to see us, set a microphone on the table, and interviewed Kari and me at our home. His stellar podcast is called “Leadership Portraits” [see SoundCloud or iTunes] and is worth a listen of each episode.

Leadership Portraits with Lee Edward

Thank you Lee for your care for us as people, for asking stellar questions, and listening with rapt attention. Your aptitude for reducing down our shared words to the most helpful parts is a gift you’ve cultivated well.

All are welcome to take a listen of episode seven:

Lee mentioned Kari’s e-books, found here. Next year her book Sacred Mundane will be published with Kregel, and her blog “Sacred Mundane” is karipatterson.com/sacredmundane. Some notes on my training and journey as a grace-driven effort endurance athlete (runner and triathlete) with Team World Vision can be found at renewjeff.com.

Some quotes and lessons Lee mined from the episode/interview: Continue reading