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
 

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

 

Our hearts are longing for the more-ness of our Creator.

One of the greatest challenges we have as parents is to keep our children from settling for less.

The world offers less.

The great lie is that our heart’s longing can be satisfied with the lesser things of this world. We attempt to make a god of created things instead of worshiping the creator. This is why we never find a sustained sense of satisfaction or contentment. Our hearts are longing for the more-ness of our Creator. 1

The beauty of the Creation story is that it paints a picture of the one we worship. The all-powerful, all-sovereign, all-loving, all-just completeness of our God. Here’s the opportunity:

Our struggle as parents will always be to keep the bigness of God in our homes. As parents, we get the enormous opportunity to help our children connect the dots of their deepest desires to the source: their magnificent God.

So let’s help them DREAM and let’s help them to SEE the realities beyond this world. Through it all, they just might develop a taste for the kingdom of God. God is and will always be the best conversation that you can have with your children.

Rooted in Scripture, this prayer of the Apostle Paul for us and with us:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being…
—Ephesians 3:14-16

SC-prayer-day-01

Story Catechism Prayer Challenge

  1. Day 01, Story Catechism Back 2 School Prayer Challenge
 

The beauty of duty and dependence. 

It is the beauty in Christ that fuels true obedience in us.

“Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before,
Since we have seen His beauty,
Are join’d to part no more:
It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call,
To love Him beyond measure,
And serve Him with our all.”
—John Newton, “We Were Once As You Are” (Olney Hymns)

We delved into this dynamic last Sunday with “Beauty of Duty & Dependence“.

“Do not rest until love and faith in Jesus are the master passions of your soul.” —Charles Spurgeon

“We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” —A.W. Tozer

 

Renewing Advent: Rescue is on the Way

“Christmas has become cozy.
Advent calls us to stay awake.”
—N.T. Wright

The forgotten season of Advent is upon us. What’s this “Advent,” you say? Well, it’s akin to Christmas but much bigger — and better — I say. Advent is a forgotten season because in the Christian Church around the globe we know Easter is a big deal, even though it moves around from year to year, can vaguely remember there’s something to give up during Lent (was it all sugar or just chocolate or do we give up unforgiveness?), and Pentecost sounds like a party with a delicious potluck.

Advent: Rescue is on the WayBut why Advent, and why not just call it Christmas-time, or even more broadly, “Happy Holidays”?

Well, let me say this at the outset: I’m not outraged when someone neglects to say “Merry Christmas,” or when a certain purveyor of caffeinated beverages takes those words off their red cups in order sell more of those red cups.

Christmas is so special, and the Holidays are “Holy Days” because JESUS is so special. He alone is Holy, pure, whole. That’s why we care, and He’s the reason for the season. His image is meant to be impressed upon every aspect of our lives. No gift or purchase can do that for me; I must enter into God’s Story and discover the meaning of Jesus personally.

I won’t rail against consumerism (much) here, nor rant about how we should have more Christmas cheer and be making more merry. I will say this: I long to embrace and embody the kind of Hope I find in the great promises of God. Advent is a reminder that I don’t often do this, and how we can again. More than one message, Advent is an unfolding narrative — the whole of Scripture and all of history — coming together in the incarnation of Jesus. This God-Man moved into the neighborhood and made God’s promises real. For us. To us.

So for this season of six weeks, we as a church family and as families within the church will join with our brothers and sisters around the globe keeping watch and waiting for the coming (again) of our King Jesus. Advent means “arrival” or “coming,” derived from the Latin word Adventus. So, as we celebrate His arrival through an unexpected and miraculous birth, we keep in mind His second coming, for the Son of Man will come again to wrap up the scrolls of history and right every wrong. And much wronging there has been! Jesus will make every sad thing untrue (as our favorite children’s Bible reminds).

Our efforts this season will be guided by the Advent Catechism 1, a helpful resource for all ages. Each Sunday from November 29th to January 3rd we will dive into the rich themes of the Advent Story, for all ages of Renew Kids and the main sermon teaching as well. I’m excited! 2Advent Catechism

Why six weeks? There’s much more to be discovered about this season 3, but suffice to say that the weeks leading up to Christmas Day cannot tell the whole story. There’s the travels of the Magi to come and behold the newborn King, on the day known as Epiphany (celebrated on Sunday, January 3rd, 2016). Technically, it’s really four weeks of Advent, followed by two weeks of Christmas.

Here’s the plan of emphases we’ll follow, each Sunday kicking off a new week:

11/29 (wk 1) A Distant Promise
12/6 (wk 2) Silence Broken
12/13 (wk 3) Hope Dawning
12/20 (wk 4) Beyond Belief
12/24 (Christmas Eve gathering @ 5 PM @ the Revival Building)
12/27 (wk 5) An Unlikely Rescuer
1/3/16 (wk 6) The Longing (+ Benediction)

Each week’s entry in the Advent Catechism has a story centered on that theme, bringing to light the promises of God and hopes of His people. All are encouraged to READ, MEMORIZE, CHAT, and PRAY. This four-fold pattern helps us remember well God’s remedies for what aches our souls. And it’s a helpful way to invest time around the dinner table.

This first week we honed in on the first lesson of Advent: “A Distant Promise.” With five responsive lines of biblical history we see God’s promises becoming a clearer reality:

Will you join us for Advent?

Advent is an invitation to ache with the longings of the world by believing that the incarnation of the Son of God is the solution to all of our problems. It’s rare to hear about a problem in today’s world that does not have a promising human-made solution, only to realize that today’s solutions will inevitably create tomorrow’s problems. On and on it goes, and without God and the Hope He brings by entering the Story, we will be left to our own devices.

Let us keep focus upon the coming of Jesus our King. He comes in unexpected ways, disrupting history, illuminating God’s promises, waking us up to the stunning reality of His promises.

But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

—Ephesians 5:13-14

Advent Catechism

  1. Available for purchase in print ($15) or to download as a PDF ($10). Email hello@Godrenews.us to get your copy.
  2. There are many more helpful guides to the Advent season. My friend Tyler Braun has sound guidance on embracing and entering Advent, some of Bonhoeffer’s writings on Christmas and Advent have been edited for us, and I find that in every season the Mosaic Bible (NLT) helps me return to gospel roots each week of the year.
  3. See Justin Holcomb’s summary “What is Advent?”
 

Create a Crisis for a Change.

“Is it okay that I read your wife’s blog? Her writing challenges me every time I read.”
—recent comment from a man friend 1

Right now our kids are scurrying from the yard to driveway pretending to be a peregrine falcon and Thompson’s gazelle, respectively, so we’re safe to write for a few minutes. Until a playful predator comes.

That would be a crisis to their uninterrupted play time.

That’s what I want to talk with you about: crisis. Crises, in fact. Lots and lots of mini-crises, created from our own hands.

A crisis is when you need God to come through, because otherwise you’ll fail. You don’t have what it takes, so you take what He alone can give.

Of course, we cannot create anything ourselves, but all of our creative powers — our creativity — is on loan from the Creator. It’s borrowed to be used well. Whether we steward these powers for good or spend them foolishly on self, we better know what kind of power we’re dealing with. Too many people use their supposed “power” to play it safe, seek comfort, take no risks. That’s some kind of tragedy. A power failure. (Others create all sorts of drama for themselves and every moment seems like a crisis. That’s sad but not in view here.)

RUNRISE

Humanity has been made in God’s image. We may not look like Him in outward appearance, or take a representative form too often, but our essence, our createdness, is in the similitude of God. Makes sense, since He’s our Father.

God has created us for crisis. We were made to shine brightly in dark situations. Yet a person will only know if he or she is ready to trust Him in the inevitable big, unplanned crisis, if they’ve first learned by experience to trust Him with many mini-crises.

That is one secret to Jesus’ life. He is the definition of true humanity, coming to recreate what has been broken lost in us. Yet He did not do it by Himself. Jesus the Son depended moment by moment on the love, approval, and power of God the Father. He imaged the Father well. Perfectly, in all manner of crises. Never hurried, ever-present, calm and collected to unleash the power of God on the situation of Their choosing.

~~~

On my wife’s blog Sacred Mundane (on which this post first appeared) she reflects on various mini-crises encountered each week. As crises help you consider ours, each can find perspective to keep on creating these crises and growing as people. It is because of her steadfastness in the face of these crises, forged in fact by each crisis itself, that each us gets to read on the Sacred Mundane. That’s why many men I know read her blog. There’s meat there, substance more than mere style. Using the mundane moments of each life, what seems at first so un-spiritual, she makes connections to the Gospel. Every man, woman and child can benefit from that. Kari makes public many private details, though each is processed in prayer and with her husband (me), and together we sense the Spirit’s leading for her to share. Frankly, it would be easier to not share anything personal. Just “write about God,” but while the words would be true, they would not be real.

Realness is where the crises happen. Realness is what we’re after.

Actually, wholeness is the goal. Wholeness in Christ. We’re convinced real wholeness is only found in Him, and only on the other side of embracing realness.

There is a gap for each of us between the ideal and real, between what we say we believe and how we really live it out.

Most men I know … scratch that: every man I know likes to do things he feels confident about. Some only do the things they feel confident about. It’s why some don’t search for a better job, and why others like to fish. Confidence makes one work on their own car, and for the same reason others take it to the dealer to get serviced. Confidence. One can have the appearance of confidence with mere talk, yet to truly reveal one’s confidence, a crisis has to do it’s work.

Continue reading

  1.  This post originally appeared on Sacred Mundane, as guest writer for my wife Kari.
 

Good Friday, the forgotten holiday.

Good Friday is the forgotten holiday that speaks honestly (and brutally) about your past while inviting you do bury it with Jesus.

He died in our place, bringing us back to God. 1

We gather in reflect in the dark, without the cultural decorations (and relative obligations) of Easter Sunday, for each day needs the other. Without the resurrection Jesus’ death seems heartless, yet, through the cross the eternal life He offers carries the weight of God’s love.

When He cried out, “It is finished!” Jesus accomplished far more than we’ve ever dared to imagine.

I encourage you to find a Gospel-centered local church and participate in a Good Friday gathering, sharing this day with others near the foot of the Cross.

If you’re in Clackamas County, please join us as four Oregon City churches collectively contemplate His words, work and worth in the Cup, the Garden, the Trials, and the Cross. 

GOOD FRIDAY

 

  1. 1 Peter 3:18