Hey Blogger Buddies!!! I am so excited about this book club. We have had a LOT of people sign up to participate. I am so thrilled that so many of you want to do this with us. If you haven't signed up you can still go grab your book and catch up. We would love to have you along for the ride. :0) Even if you haven't officially joined up please feel free to comment and participate.
Let's try this system. I will write down my thoughts. Then I will ask a few questions. I encourage you all to comment and give your "two cents." I know we can all learn something from one another.
OK!!! HERE GOES!!!
Steven Curtis Chapman's Forward...
Well... first of all, if you didn't read the forward from Steven Curtis Chapman you will really like that. It is beautiful. When I read it I felt like I was reading my own words. His heart is an adoptive father's heart. Not only that... after seeing the truth during his process of adoption he doesn't want to ignore it anymore. The man is on FIRE to change things. I greatly respect him.
I love this part....
"As my wife, Mary Beth, so clearly put it, "When they handed me Shaohannah, God was more real to me in that moment than He had ever been. It about knocked me down!"
Even as I type this tears fill my eyes. This is my experience. Meeting Zoe was an experience that is hard to describe. It was so deep and personal. I have heard many people say that their experience of meeting their child was the same as giving birth. I can see that... for me it was in some ways like that but still very different.
Seeing Zoe for the first time was one of the most powerful moments of my life. The adoption process was the most powerful year of my life. When I held Zoe in my arms it was not the same as when I held Kaitlyn the day she was born.
When I first saw Kaitlyn it was this overwhelming maternal love. It felt a bit awkward but fairly normal to me. With Kaitlyn my love just kinda grew and grew and I never noticed how strong it was until I realized I couldn't breathe if I thought she might be in danger.
When I met Zoe I felt.... how do I explain this... I felt completely overwhelmed with GOD'S love. It was beyond myself and my ability. I felt like the scales started to fall off my eyes. Suddenly the pain in this world I had seen from the outside I now FELT on the inside. I had stepped into Zoe's pain and her joy the way God steps into our pain and our joy.
The process of loving Zoe has been very different but no less special. In some ways it is more profound. I chose to love my Zoe before I knew her. I loved her before she loved me. There was a day, here in this house, where I knew she had chosen to love me too.
In these moments I have felt like I could understand just a bit more God's love for us. I was living it out on a teeny tiny scale. I was choosing to love this child not because she had my blood in her veins. I simply wanted to love her. It wasn't the same... it was much scarier and a more deeply profound moment in my life.
That moment started a much deeper understanding of God for me. I was experiencing His heart in a new way.
Here is something else Steven Curtis says..
"Now we look at our family, and we can't imagine missing something so key in what it means to walk close with God."
Amen. What more can I say? I am sure many of you have seen this video but if you have not please don't miss it.
The introduction was great too. It is talking about God's idea of treasure. It's encouraging us to search after what is important to God. Here is my favorite part.
Maybe you are thinking, Well that's nice Tom. I want to know what God cares about. But where does excitement and joy come in?"
I think a lot of us have a very limited concept of joy- we tie it to what makes us feel happy. But real joy goes even deeper, and it's not always found in obvious places. Instead it hides in corners, waiting to be discovered when we sacrifice our desires for God's desires."
WOW! This hits the nail on the head. So many of us are roaming around searching for significance in life. We somehow think we will get to that place of meaning if we can just find what makes us happy. Yet God's idea of joy is so different from this search for happiness. We are so scared to let go and sacrifice what we THINK we want. The process can be painful and scary... but on the other side is joy and peace beyond what we could have planned for ourselves.
The First Chapter...
This is a great chapter! If you haven't ordered the book yet you can read part of this chapter in line here http://www.amazon.com/Fields-Fatherless-C-Thomas-Davis/dp/0971410011/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-7618469-5805763?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188229749&sr=8-1
Tom Davis speaks about his first experience working with orphans in Russia.
...The second truth was how much of God's joy could mine when I participated with him in doing something that mattered so much to Him! I had never before experienced God's pleasure and approval as strongly as I did in Russia.
And I had to know why.
As I said earlier I have felt this same thing...that I have suddenly tapped into God's heart in a new way. Yes, I served God before. I have been a passionate Christian since I was very young. Yet here was something much deeper than what I had ever seen or felt before.
Tom goes on to discuss this scripture WHICH I LOVE!
Psalms 68: 5-6
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he brings out those who are bound to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
and this one...
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.
and this one...
"At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
UMMMMMMMMM!!!!!! DID THIS VERSE CATCH ANY ONE'S ATTENTION??? WHAT is this talking about??? OUR TITHE???
My hubby Russ and I were studying the old testament together a couple of years back. When we fell upon this verse we were a little floored. This was a little different than what we had been taught.
I don't say much about this verse cause I don't want people to get all riled up. I KNOW! I said I would stop censoring myself. OK here goes.... Now I don't claim to know everything by any stretch of the imagination. So I could be wrong here. It's just that when I read this scripture I don't see anything about having an automatic draft from your account to the church office's account of EXACTLY 10% each month.
It seems to me that YES!!! we are to provide for ministers and their needs. They should be well cared for. I believe we, very often, do this well as a nation.
BUT I have yet to find a percentage named. If you know where that is please point me toward it. Maybe you know Tom!! :0) I have searched to no avail so far. (Krystal has some great thoughts on this in the comment section. Check it out) OK so I decided to google it after reading what Krystal said. Why have I never thought of THAT before DUUUHHH! Anyway... here is something that I found. I thought it was good.
What does the Bible say about Christian tithing?
Question: "What does the Bible say about Christian tithing?"
Answer: Tithing is an issue that many Christians struggle with. In many churches tithing is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the Biblical exhortation in regards to making offerings to the Lord. Tithing / giving is intended to be a joy, a blessing. Sadly, that is rarely the case in the church today.Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were give 10% of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle / Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5).
Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites of the sacrificial system. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).The New Testament nowhere assigns a certain percentage of income to set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with his income” (1 Corinthians 16:2).
The Christian church has essentially taken the 10% figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. Although the New Testament does not identify a specific amount or percentage to give, it does talk about the importance and benefits of giving. They should give as they are able, “in keeping with his income.” Sometimes that means giving more than a tithe, sometime that may mean giving less than a tithe. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Each and every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom as to whether to participate in tithing and/or for how much he or she should give (James 1:5). “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The biggest thing I see is this
and the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
This specifically states that a LARGE portion of our tithe should be going to these specific groups. Furthermore, it states that we should be active in participating rather than pawning it off on others.
Check this verse out.
"When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.
We are supposed to be ACTIVELY participating in helping widows, orphans and strangers. We aren't supposed to write a check to our church every month and pawn it off on them... "Oh I'm sure they will take care of that"...
As Tom states
When you think about God's church, it is extremely important not to picture it as an institution surrounded by walls. The church consists of people who represent the physical body of Christ on Earth. We put flesh to His words and make Him alive to those who are desperate to know He is real.
... Today many well meaning Christians have lost sight of what God cares about most.
"Pure and faultless religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."
"he who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given"
Sadly, many of us have taken our hearts out of the equation. We don't want to get messy and in the trenches of what is happening. Yet, that is exactly what God wants from us. Not because He wants us to suffer, because He wants these people to be rescued and loved. WE are God's hands and feet in this world. We can choose to turn a blind eye and continue to be comfortable. Or we can give up what we think we want and experience joy.
Please take a minute to watch this video. It's good stuff.
1 What part of this portion stood out the most to you?
2 Why that part?
3 Do you think the average church in the US is hitting the mark in this area?
4 Why or why not?