Category Archives: Feeding

More Than Caring

More Than Caring“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”

James 2:15-16

 

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own life that we forget about those all around us who are in need. We can’t save the whole world, so we don’t try to save just one. “Someone else will help”, we think as we walk away. But James says that we have to do more than just “care” about the poor, we need to help. In his book, “Irresistible Revolution”, Shane Claiborne shares about a survey he took of American Christians. He found that 80% believed that Jesus spent time with the poor. When asked if they spent any time with the poor, only 20% of the same group said, “yes.” Shane concluded, “We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours.” James talks about our apathy toward the poor in this way, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”  It is not good enough to care about the poor. If we follow Christ we need to do something.

 

 We have to ask ourselves, “Where are we making a difference?” Is it in the entertainment industry? Is it in business ethics? Is it in the societies’ views on sex and marriage? Is it in the justice system? But, you say, “That is the world’s system.” That’s my point! When did we abdicate the decisions on morality, love and justice to the world? When did we leave the room? Why isn’t our corporate witness making a difference? Why isn’t the love of  God in His people making a bigger difference in the world? It can, if we choose to live according to His word.

Over and over again in the Old Testament we read about God’s judgment on His people for turning their back on poverty and injustice. God was appalled at the fact that the poor were ignored. In his classic book, “Visioneering”, Andy Stanley shares what he felt was Nehemiah’s compelling reason for casting his vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Andy points out that Nehemiah told the people, “Come let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Why rebuild the walls? Because the torn down walls were a disgrace to God and His people. One translation uses the word “reproach”. The torn down walls, the disgraced city was a disgrace to anyone who called themselves a Jew and brought reproach to God in front of all the nations. We need to see that the American Suburban Church sitting with all its wealth and resources, with neighbors all around in utter poverty is the same reproach to God. Why? Because it is a gross misrepresentation of the love of God. As a result, the world does not see God or His church as a significant influence or reason for hope. Instead, our Government and corporations are seen as the savior of the solution to blighted communities. We need to glorify God by showing what His power through His people, people of all races working together, can do. Then maybe the world will join in on the song, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

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Do you want to know more about your Spiritual Gifts? CLICK HERE to download your free Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

To learn more how you can get started in ministry, CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?

Want to know how to use your business skills for ministry download a free copy of Compassionate Capitalist

 

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We Have A Great Hope

WE HAVE A GREAT HOPE

We have a great hope
that together
we can make a difference,
that one day we will see:

the promises of our faith,
the fruits of our labor,
and the results of our perseverance.

With churches reaching out to communities,
sharing the gospel and meeting the needs of
the poor and needy, we believe it is possible to have:

Neighborhood sanctuaries full,
 integrated with people from all races
praising God together.  

Streets that are safe to walk on,
without gangs or violence.
 
Families intact, so no spouse or
child will ever suffer from abuse.

Every student excelling, in good schools,
having an equal opportunity
to reach their fullest potential.

The elderly living in comfort and dignity,
in communities with neighbors
of all ages, races and income,
gladly loving each other.

Job readiness, retention and advancement for all people,
allowing families to earn the income they need.  

Mixed income neighborhoods,
not displacing the poor, but living as equal.
 
Every person with enough to eat,
no more need for homeless shelters,
soup kitchens or begging on the streets.

Every family with access to the best medical care.

We have this hope because of the living God,
His Word and His Church.

A hope kept alive,
because we are the called ones
commanded to live a life of love.

But hope without obedience is despair
and faith without works is dead.

Therefore we will strive, one community at a time,
churches joining other churches
making a difference
house by house, street by street
fulfilling His great desire, that

“as you have done it to the least of these,
you have done it to me.”   
      
REO

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For more information on how your church can get involved in reaching the community e-mail Ron Ovitt at ron@calvaryop.org and we will send you a copy of Close To The Heart of God. Also go to www.layministry.com for helpful materials.

Do you want to know more about your Spiritual Gifts? CLICK HERE to download your free Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

To learn more how you can get started in ministry, CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?
 

Are We Jesus?

We are called to make a difference, yet as a church we have to ask ourselves, “Where is the proof of our existence?” Is it in the entertainment industry? Is it in business ethics? Is it in the societies’ views on sex and marriage? Is it in the justice system? But, you say, “That is the world’s system.” That’s my point! When did we abdicate the decisions on morality, love and justice to the world? When did we leave the room? Why isn’t our corporate witness making a difference? Why isn’t the love of  God in His people making a bigger difference in the world? It can, if we choose to live according to His word.
 

Over and over again in the Old Testament we read about God’s judgment on His people for turning their back on poverty and injustice. God was appalled at the fact that the poor were ignored. In his classic book, Visioneering, Andy Stanley also uses the story of Nehemiah as the basis for his book. Pastor Stanley shares what he felt was Nehemiah’s compelling reason for casting his vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. What do you think the reason Nehemiah rebuilt the city was? Was it for protection from their enemies? That is certainly important but not compelling. Was it beautification? That is nice but not enough. Was it so they could reunite as a nation and become an economic power? While national unity and pride is important, Andy Stanley pointed out that Nehemiah had another compelling reason for rebuilding the walls. Nehemiah told the people, “Come let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Why rebuild the walls? Because the torn down walls were a disgrace to God and His people. One translation uses the word reproach. They were a disgrace to anyone who called themselves a Jew and brought reproach to God in front of all the nations. 
 

We need to see that the American Suburban Church sitting with all its wealth and resources with neighbors all around in utter poverty is the same reproach to God. Why? Because it is a gross misrepresentation of the love of God. As a result, the world does not see God or His church as a significant influence or reason for hope. Instead, our Government and corporations are seen as the savior of the solution to blighted communities. We need to glorify God by showing what His power through His people, people of all races working together, can do. Then maybe the world will join in on the song, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”  
 

In their book “Calling” Frank Tillapaugh and Richard Hurst gave six reasons why the average person in the pew is not involved in ministry. The one reason that spoke to this issue was what they referred to as Church vs. Kingdom. Their opinion is that the Church has lost the sense of what the word Kingdom means. Jesus spoke of Church only twice. Instead, what Jesus spoke about over and over again was His Kingdom. We are called to make an impact beyond the four walls of our church. The Church is not just for us to worship in, it is not just for edifying the saints but just as importantly, to equip the members for ministry. And not just ministry to ourselves, but ministry that brings the good news of the kingdom to those in the larger community. We are called to live the love of God in mercy and justice in the Kingdom not just the Church. This is what Jesus did. In Matthew 9 we see a poignant view of Jesus and His love for the towns and villages He visited. Matthew writes:
  Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. (Emphasis added) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.’

  Brennan Manning in his book “Signature of Jesus” uses a story to ask a critical question of you and me. He writes of five businessmen who take a train from Chicago to Milwaukee for a sales meeting. They promised their wives that they would be back that evening in time for dinner. The sales meeting went late so they had to hurry to catch the train in order to get home on time.

 As the salesmen raced through the terminal, one of them inadvertently kicked over a slender table on which rested a basket of apples. A ten-year-old boy was selling apples to pay for his books and clothes for school. With a sigh of relief, the five clambered aboard the train, but the last felt a twinge of compassion for the boy whose apple stand had been overturned.
 He asked one of the group to call his wife and tell her he would be a couple hours late. He returned to the terminal and later remarked that he was glad that he did. The ten-year-old was blind. The salesman saw the apples scattered all over the floor. As he gathered them up, he noticed that several were bruised or split. Reaching into his pocket, he said to the boy, ‘Here’s twenty dollars for the apples we damaged. I hope we didn’t spoil your day. God bless you.’
 As the salesman started to walk away, the blind boy called after him and asked,

‘Are you Jesus?’

  Let me recite the Biblical passage in Matthew 9 about Jesus one more time.

 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Are we Jesus?

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For more information on how your church can get involved in reaching the community e-mail Ron Ovitt at ron@calvaryop.org and we will send you a copy of Close To The Heart of God. Also go to www.layministry.com for helpful materials.

Do you want to know more about your Spiritual Gifts? CLICK HERE to download your free Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

To learn more how you can get started in ministry, CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?

We are calling upon the Church to join in a revolution to rebuild impoverished communities

We are calling upon the Church to join in a revolution to rebuild impoverished communities through:

Church Ministry Partnerships
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches in impoverished neighborhoods. This can be accomplished through assisting in neighborhood evangelism, building adequate facilities, aid in mercy ministries and support in any teaching or pastoral capacity if needed.

Eradication of Poverty
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by the eradication of poverty. This can be accomplished through assisting local churches in job training, placement, retention and advancement. We can also assist these sister churches by mentoring, teaching job skills and helping create entrepreneurial opportunities. We can advocate for fair living wages and affordable daycare.

Quality Education
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with communities to help provide quality education. Whether it is assisting local churches to provide alternative education or working with existing schools through facility repairs, tutoring, after school homework centers, summer learning academies, churches can aid in quality education to the children of the community.  

Affordable Housing
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by assisting in the clean up of neighborhoods, remodeling distressed properties, building of affordable homes and mentoring potential new home owners.

Youth Programs
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches and assisting where needed in the provision of day care, youth programs, educational enhancement and parenting training.

Assisting the Elderly
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with their sister churches in providing elder care, senior housing, and adequate health provisions.

Health Care
 We call upon the Church to get involved in helping rebuild communities by partnering with sister churches and making sure that quality affordable health care is available to all members of the community.

What Then Is Our Response?
When we look at Acts at the very birth of the Church, how can we consider living any different than they did? In Acts 2:42-47 it says:

 They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
 
 Again in Acts 4:32, the scriptures say:
  
 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

You Are The Church. What Are You Going To Do?
There has never been a better time to get involved in community development. Municipalities are looking for assistance in the face of an over burgeoning social issues and shrinking revenue. What if churches would work together in entrepreneurial ways and create results? What if the impact of a sustained evangelical community development project reduced crime, teen pregnancy and lowered the recidivism of people back into the penal system? What if faith-based economic initiatives and mixed-income housing actually did bring back the economy to distraught communities? What if we could rebuild neighborhoods without displacing the poor? What if churches again became vibrant assets to a community in which it was located? Maybe then not only we, but the world would understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Taken from Ron Ovitt’s book Close To The Heart Of God. To learn more about making a differnce go to www.layministry.com

Do you know your Spiritual Gifts? If not CLICK HERE for a FREE Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook.

All of Us Can Do Something To Help Those In Need

 Viv Grigg has spent his life among the poor and recruits many others to do the same. One would think he would be insistent on everyone relocating to a poor village. Instead he talks about God’s calling. In his first book, Companion to the Poor, he writes about commitment without total identification.

 People often ask “Were you called to minister to the poor?” We are all called to minister to the poor. Such a ministry is the logical obedience of any disciple imitating the attitudes, character and teaching of Jesus. He commands everyone to renounce all (Luke 14:33), to give to the poor and live simply. But we would need a special call to minister primarily to the rich or middle-class, for the focus of Christian ministry is ‘good news to the poor.’
 Not all, however, are called to a life of total identification with the poor by living among them!
 Lazarus, Mary, and Martha are examples of the middle-class of Israel. They had a large home, kept it, and used it for the Lord and his disciples as a retreat center.
 I have not discerned God calling many of my middle-class friends to lives of identification with the poor. Some heard and refused his call, but in general, the Lord seemed to be calling them to a ministry among their middle-class peers. To expect them to choose identification with the poor was to expect them to become apostles and missionaries across a great social, economic, and cultural barrier.
 Nevertheless, like Lazarus, Mary and Martha, the middle-class can have a significant commitment to the poor.

 By the time he wrote his second book, Cry of the Urban Poor, Viv Grigg was recruiting missionaries from all around the world to live among the poor. He has a passion for urban ministry but again he writes:

 As Christians, we must encourage all people in all levels of society to have a focus of ministry to the poor. This does not imply that all should live among the poor.
 We must call all people in all levels of society to lives of simplicity so that others may simply live. This does not imply that all should live among the poor. We must call all to the patterns of renunciation that we see in Jesus’ teaching. This does not imply that all should live among the poor.
 But we must also hold out to people the further call of Jesus for many to take up an apostolic lifestyle of identification with the poor in order that the poor people’s church might be established. 

 In Companion of the Poor, Viv Grigg continues this line of reasoning.

 Over the years, my hall of fame has grown to include the lives of Calvin, Finney, Booth, Wesley, Assisi, Xavier, Mother Teresa, and many others committed to the poor.
 There are marked differences in the lives of these people. Yet all understood the centrality of preaching. And all understood the necessity of focusing on the poor as a priority.
 Kagawa, Assisi, and Xavier lived as poor men among the poor. Booth, Wesley and Calvin chose simple lifestyles. All moved from lives as pure evangelists to become evangelistic social reformers: fighters against sin and fighters against poverty and social injustice at every level of society.

 St. Francis of Assisi himself set up a ‘third order’ for those who wanted to work for the poor but could not live a life of poverty with him. Bernard Christensen in the book, The Inward Pilgrimage, shares an account from The Little Flowers, a book about the life of Assisi.

 In a village where he (St. Francis of Assisi) first preached, his message was so well received that all the people wanted to join the order; but Francis told them not to decide too quickly, and in his mind he began to plan the organization of a Third Order to be made up entirely of lay people who continued in their regular callings but still followed certain religious devotions and services ‘for the salvation of all people everywhere’. Thieves and robbers joined the order because he dared to treat them as people.

 Viv Grigg closes his argument in Companion To the Poor with a challenge for us to live by. He writes:

 One day I was sitting relaxing with some middle-class friends eating ice-cream. The Lord brought to mind the passage immediately preceding His call to renunciation. Jesus said,
 ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your …rich neighbors…But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.’ (Luke 14:12-14)
 We are to enjoy life, but with and for the poor and needy. We are to die to our economic selves, but we are to live glorious economic resurrection lives for others.
 My message to the middle-class could be summed up by the following five slogans: Earn much, Consume little, Hoard nothing, Give generously and Celebrate life.

CLICK HERE to ORDER Viv Grigg’s book, Companion to the Poor: Christ in the Urban Slums
 

CLICK HERE to ORDER Viv Grigg’s book, Cry of the Urban Poor: Reaching the Slums of Today’s Megacities

Developing a Heart of Compassion

Ever drive down the highway and after a few miles, all of a sudden you wonder, “Where have I just been?” You become aware that you were deep in thought driving on autopilot, not noticing the scenery around you. Or how about when you go down a road for the 1000th time and suddenly say, “I never noticed that house there before!” Life goes by in a blur and, if you are like me, you can plow right through a week and not make a difference in someone else’s life. Sure, help your customers at work, or a relative, but forget about having time to help someone you don’t know. And yet every day 1000’s of people, only a few miles from our front door, are hurting financially, physically, emotionally and spiritually. If the church is going to make a difference, then someone has to take responsibility to bring the needy into our focus. I find that books can help do that for us. Today I want to recommend three books that can help change you and your church into a more socially responsible church.
 
IRRESTIBLE REVOLUTION
This is a new book written by Shane Claiborne. It is a passionate plea to the church and those that call themselves Christians to become radical in our love for other people. Shane went to Calcutta and worked in the streets, developing a love for the poor and needy. He came back to Philadelphia and started a community living in an old house. They have no huge social agenda other than loving those in their community. This alone has made a tremendous difference. Shane is passionate and his book will challenge the young and old alike. ORDER this book and start making a difference.    

EXTERNALLY FOCUSED CHURCH

This book was written by two Pastors from Colorado who have a church that is really making a difference. The plea of the book is for the church to come out of its four walls and start to make a difference in the world around us. The main question that the book asks is, “If your church were to close its doors today, would anyone protest? Would anyone in the community notice that you were gone? Would your help in the community be sorely missed? If we were honest, most of us would have to say, “No!”
This book doesn’t just challenge, it gives concrete examples of what to do. We bought this for our staff and ministry leaders and it has helped flame a fire in our church. ORDER this book for your staff and discuss how your people can start to implement some of the ideas in the book.
 
PRESENT FUTURE
This book is a classic. It is written to help get churches off their pew and into making a difference. The main premise is that we worship in “Spiritual Country Clubs” and have lost our heart for those that don’t know Christ. We are running under false pretences thinking that today’s society is going to flock to our church services when in reality, fewer are going to church each passing year. His plea to the American church is to wake-up and become missional. We led Bible studies on this book with the staff, Elders, Deacons and ministry leaders.  It has rallied our leadership and helped us develop values reflecting a more missional midset. ORDER this book today and start to become a missional church.

You can go to our bookstore and order copies of these books. Have there been any books that you have read that have made you more aware of the need around you? If so share them with the rest of us.

Are The Poor In America Really Poor?

There is a myth that makes it hard to concentrate on the needs of those who are suffering in this country. It is the myth that the poor in this country are not really poor. It is due to a comparison of those suffering in this country with those in third world countries. Whenever I speak on the needs of the poor in this country, inevitably someone will bring up the needs of those overseas.

I took a group of young people from a large Chicago suburban church on a mission trip to Chicago’s inner-city. The Minister of Missions let me know that he was on the trip reluctantly because he had serious doubts of the value of our trip. He felt that there was so much more need overseas. He gave me the impression that the trip was a waste of time. I shared that I did not see it as an “either/or” situation. There are obvious needs overseas, but there are needs here too. We were simply responding to those in need close to home and, hopefully, that this trip would raise awareness to the needs of those in other countries as well.
 

How many times have we heard the expression, “The poorest person in this country is rich compared to those living in third world countries”. But is this true? Is the poorest in this country far better off than those in third world countries? Now please, I have seen the pictures, I have seen the bloated stomachs of children. I have next to me, only three feet away, a picture of an Ethiopian Famine Camp taken in 1988. I took it with me when I left World Relief as a constant reminder of those suffering around the world. Not for one second would I try to minimize the need of those starving refugees around the world. But I have also been in cities and rural areas in this country where homeless live in rubble eating rats, garbage and whatever food is given to them at homeless shelters. I have been in neighborhoods where mothers were not able to put food on the table for days at a time and where children are living in the streets digging in garbage cans for something to eat. 
 

Viv Grigg has studied poverty around the world. In his book, Cry of the Urban Poor,  he refers to “slums of hope” and “slums of despair”. You cannot judge poverty just by the physical element of food, water and shelter. Hope and despair are two important factors that must be counted too. Many of the third world poor have come to their slums, as bad as they are, thankful for a chance to have a meager paying job and very small plot of land to put their makeshift shack on. Mr. Grigg calls these slums of hope. They have hope that their opportunity will grow and their future children will prosper because of this chance that they have. Vig Grigg writes:
 
 The poor will not go back. [to the rural areas from which they came – my comment] This indicates how they feel about their lives in the city. They are hooked. For all of the deprivations and depravity, they are better off. They have hope. They have access to health and education for their children. They are city dwellers, urbanites who no longer fit back in the home town. They have come from being hopeless, landless farm laborers. They are moving into the city of gold. The momentary problems of the slums can be suffered for such a glorious dream – even for a generation or two.
 
 In comparison, many in this country believe that there is no hope of change. They eke out their existence feeling that it will never get better. This is what Mr. Grigg refers to as slums of despair. Viv Grigg has created the chart, Levels of Urban Poverty, that helps us compare poverty in different countries. He suggests that the complexities in the nature of poverty make it hard to differentiate between poverty in various cities and cultures. He created four catergories: Housing; Unemployment; Social problems; and Malnutrition. He then took each catergory and created five degrees of severity. If we took a family in Calcutta that has a small business, is socially stable, living in a poor shack and 1st degree malnutrition and compared him to a person in Chicago that is homeless, no source of income, addicted to crack, but eats better because of our food in America – we could be tempted to say that the person in Chicago is poorer and in more despair.

The point is this. We need to be helping the poor around the world. But let us not forget that there are those not that far from our front door that need help. There are the “really poor” in America.