• Brenda Salter McNeil
  • Jim Cymbala
  • Gary Haugen
  • Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Princess Zulu
  • Chuck Colson
  • Amy Sherman
  • Steve Chalke
  • Matthew Sleeth
  • Shane Claiborne
  • Star Parker
  • Rich Stearns
  • Jim Wallis
  • Bishop John Rucyahana
  • Heidi Unruh
  • Dean Hirsch
  • Dolphus Weary
  • Francis Collins
  • Gerald Durley
  • David Batstone
  • Bishop Horace E. Smith
  • Jason Russell
  • Christo Greyling
  • Bishop James Jones
  • John M. Perkins
  • Mike Yankoski
  • Miles McPherson
  • Philippa Lei
  • Romanita Hairston
  • Ron Sider
  • Sandra Thurman
  • Scott Sabin
  • Shirley Mullen
  • Stanley Green
  • David Anderson
  • Steve Haas
  • Steve Stirling
  • Tri Robinson
  • Zach Hunter
  • Joe Mettimano
  • Mary Nelson
  • David Beckmann
  • Noel Castellanos
  • Denver Moore
  • Ron Hall
  • Bryant Myers
  • Ron Nikkel
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Angela Thomas
  • John Thomas
  • Karen Kingsbury
  • Lynne Hybels
  • Jaime Jamgochian
  • Margaret Becker
  • Israel Houghton
  • Josh Wilson
  • Matt Maher
  • Warren Barfield
  • Brandon Heath
  • Anthony Evans
  • Tony Campolo
  • Group 1 Crew
  • Mike Weaver
  • Christopher Crane
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • Kay Warren
  • Rob Bell
  • Brenda Salter McNeil
  • Gary Haugen
  • Princess Zulu
  • Matt Williams
  • Brenda Salter McNeil
  • Jim Cymbala
  • Gary Haugen
  • Joni Eareckson Tada
  • Princess Zulu
  • Chuck Colson
  • Amy Sherman
  • Steve Chalke
  • Matthew Sleeth
  • Shane Claiborne
  • Star Parker
  • Rich Stearns
  • Jim Wallis
  • Bishop John Rucyahana
  • Heidi Unruh
  • Dean Hirsch
  • Dolphus Weary
  • Francis Collins
  • Gerald Durley
  • David Batstone
  • Bishop Horace E. Smith
  • Jason Russell
  • Christo Greyling
  • Bishop James Jones
  • John M. Perkins
  • Mike Yankoski
  • Miles McPherson
  • Philippa Lei
  • Romanita Hairston
  • Ron Sider
  • Sandra Thurman
  • Scott Sabin
  • Shirley Mullen
  • Stanley Green
  • David Anderson
  • Steve Haas
  • Steve Stirling
  • Tri Robinson
  • Zach Hunter
  • Joe Mettimano
  • Mary Nelson
  • David Beckmann
  • Noel Castellanos
  • Denver Moore
  • Ron Hall
  • Bryant Myers
  • Ron Nikkel
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Angela Thomas
  • John Thomas
  • Karen Kingsbury
  • Lynne Hybels
  • Jaime Jamgochian
  • Margaret Becker
  • Israel Houghton
  • Josh Wilson
  • Matt Maher
  • Warren Barfield
  • Brandon Heath
  • Anthony Evans
  • Tony Campolo
  • Group 1 Crew
  • Mike Weaver
  • Christopher Crane
  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • Kay Warren
  • Rob Bell
  • Brenda Salter McNeil
  • Gary Haugen
  • Princess Zulu
  • Matt Williams

"...let us begin"

 

Passion, Prayer, Muscle, Intelligence

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Today I'd like to ask you to read Eugene Peterson's translation parable of the Good Samaritan, as found in The Message. When you are done, please take a moment and answer the questions that follow. Thank you! 

Defining "Neighbor" Luke 10:25-37 (The Message)

"Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. 'Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?'

He answered, 'What's written in God's Law? How do you interpret it?'

He said, 'That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence - and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.'

'Good answer!' said Jesus. 'Do it and you'll live.'

Looking for a loophole, he asked, 'And just how would you define neighbor?'

Jesus answered by telling a story. 'There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill - I'll pay you on my way back.'

'What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?'

'The one who treated him kindly,' the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, 'Go and do the same.'

 


Questions:

Passion, Prayer, Muscle, Intelligence...

 

 

  1. Through which of these do you most often sense the love of God flowing out of your own life?
  2. Which of these seems to be the most challenging for you?


 


A Good Samaritan Lesson From the Emergency Room

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A few weeks ago my five-year-old son Jack started complaining about his ear hurting. He already had a stuffy nose, and so we thought for sure that an ear infection was developing. After a couple of days carefully watching to see if he was going to get better, we decided to take him to the emergency room.

Guess what…no ear infection.

Jack had a rock stuck in his ear!

We’re still not sure how the rock ended up in his ear, but after a dramatic experience watching the hospital staff flush it out, the rock is now gone. 

Jack has healed just fine!

Here’s the point:

We can’t act well until we see well.

What we thought was an ear infection was actually a rock stuck in our son’s ear!

And if you notice, the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 also had to see well before he could act well.

He had to see the person lying on the side of the road in need before he could show him mercy.

And that's how it is for us.

We can't act well until we see well.

This week I challenge you to ask God to give you eyes to really see people in need where you live.

Who are they?

What is life like for them?

What are their needs?

How can you help them?

Just start>!!!

Who is My Neighbor? A POEM

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The following poem is inspired by the chapter titles of Wayne Gordon's GREAT new book "Who is My Neighbor?"

My neighbor…

is hurting,

needs help,

is someone who cannot help themselves,

is someone who has been robbed,

is someone who is half dead,

is someone who is naked,

is someone who is unable to ask for help,

is of a different race,

is a stranger,

is someone who has been stripped,

is a foreign traveler,

has been beaten up,

might require me to take a risk,

can’t walk,

looks horrible,

is of a different religion,

is destitute,

is a victim of injustice,

has been passed by,

can’t say ‘Thank You,’

is someone who has been wounded,

is someone nobody wants to help,

is lonely,

will cost me some time,

is visible,

is a victim,

is someone who’s been violated,

is vulnerable,

is a human being,

feels humiliated,

feels helpless,

is poor,

is someone I’m afraid to help,

is someone who is dangerous to help,

is someone who is discouraged,

is someone who might cost me money,

is in need of tender loving care,

is someone who feels defeated,

is someone… 

I am able to help.


 




 

 

 

Mary McLeod Bethune - A Prayer of Commitment

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Mary McLeod Bethune was a daughter of slaves who had sixteen siblings. She was a columnist, educator, prayer warrior, and indefatigable voice for global equality before, during, and after World War II.

 

Please take a moment today and pray this prayer of thanksgiving and commitment to God, written by Bethune:

“Father, we call Thee Father because we love Thee. We are glad to be called Thy children, and to dedicate our lives to the service that extends through willing hearts and hands to the betterment of all mankind. We send a cry of Thanksgiving for people of all races, creeds, classes, and colors the world over, and pray that through the instrumentality of our lives the spirit of peace, joy, fellowship, and brotherhood shall circle the world. We know that this world is filled with discordant notes, but help us, Father, to so unite our efforts that we may all join in one harmonious symphony for peace and brotherhood, justice, and equality of opportunity for all men. The tasks performed today with forgiveness for all our errors, we dedicate, dear Lord, to Thee. Grant us strength and courage and faith and humility sufficient for the tasks assigned to us.”

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MLK and the Parable of the Good Samaritan

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In the time of Jesus, the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notorious for its danger and was known as the "Way of Blood" because of the violent robberies that took place there.  Martin Luther King Jr., in his "I've been to the Mountaintop" sermon, described the scene:

"I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem.  We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho.  And as soon as we got on that road I said to my wife, 'I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.'  It's a winding, meandering road.  It's really conducive for ambushing.

And you know, it's possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around.  Or it's possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking, and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure.  And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?'"

King continues:

"But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

And with this statement King spoke, and still speaks, directly to the two important questions at the heart of the parable of the Good Samaritan:

"Who is my neighbor?"  And "What should a neighbor do?"

Tips for Seeking Justice

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Today, January 11th, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

In honor of the day, we thought we would share with you several ways you can LEARN, LIVE, and LEAD a life that seeks justice!

LEARN

Get in the Loop

Join the Not for Sale Campaign’s e-distribution list to stay aware of opportunities for joining in the fight against injustice, both in the United States and around the world.

Download the App

International Justice Mission recently released an IJM Mobile App – to take you closer to the frontlines of their important work than ever before.  The app is available for FREE in the iPhone App Store and the Android Marketplace.

LIVE

Act on What You’ve Learned

Join the social justice committee at your local church.  If there isn’t one, consider starting one with other community leaders.  Check with missions coordinators for insight about how to establish a local outreach program in your community of faith.

Read…and Act

Select one of the following books and host a book club to learn how people have put their compassion into action to combat injustices around the globe: 




"Start With Me: A Modern Parable" by Michael Seaton, with John Blase 

LEAD

Rally Your Block

Organize a get together such as a block party with your neighbors, and invite a local outreach coordinator to be the speaker.  Ask him or her to explain opportunities that exist in your own neighborhood for fighting for others’ basic human rights.

Host a Justice Meal

Have your church or ministry team host a simple meal and ask the participants to make a donation that will be given to a local organization that works for justice in your community.

You can also find some of these ideas, and MANY more, in the "start> Becoming a Good Samaritan" Participant’s Guide, written by start> founder Mike Seaton, with Ashley Wiersma.

The Nose Picker

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 “He picks his nose, snorts loudly, rambles on an on about nothing, and I don’t want to talk to him.”

That was my thought as I saw Kevin enter the bookstore where I worked.  Kevin (not his real name) was a regular customer, and every time he visited I did everything I could to avoid him.

Great attitude for someone who calls himself a Christian, don’t you think?

Great attitude for someone who has been a leader in several ministries, don’t you think?

That moment, as a bookstore employee, and as a follower of Jesus…

Kevin was, to me…unlovable.

It hurts to be honest with myself like this.  To look at this situation and speak truthfully about what was going on. 

God has called his followers to represent Jesus Christ not only to people who look like me, talk like me, walk like me, vote like me…or even hold the same attitude toward personal hygiene as me…

God has called his followers…me...to represent Jesus Christ to every man and every woman who needs his care.

People like Kevin…

Question:

Who are the “Kevins” in your life?

Who have you considered unlovable?

I’d like to challenge you to think about it, and to think about what it means to represent Jesus to those people.

Not because I am someone pointing my finger at your shortcomings.

But because I can see Kevin in my mind, and it hurts. 

It hurts, doesn't it?

But it doesn’t have to hurt in the future.   Together we can love our neighbors, and love our “Kevins.”

We can choose today to start>

What Shall We Bring?

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 “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?  Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?  Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”  Micah 6:6-7

With what do you come before the Lord and bow down?   

Your perfect church attendance for the last year?  

The fact that you have never said a cuss word?  

How great your kids behave? 

These are some of the calves, rams, and rivers of oil we offer, and there are many more.

Listen to what the prophet says:

“He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

Followers of Jesus are to act justly, because God is just.

Followers of Jesus love mercy, because God is merciful.

Followers of Jesus are to walk humbly with their God, because God is holy.

How have you seen these character traits played out in your life? 

Take a few moments and finish the following sentences:

I’ve seen God’s justice when…

I’ve seen God’s mercy when…

I’ve seen God’s holiness when…

A Good Samaritan Prayer for 2011

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At the beginning of 2011, a year promising many Good Samaritan opportunities, I would like to ask you to take a moment and join me in offering a prayer of thanksgiving and commitment to God:

Dear Lord,

As someone who loves you, and who wants to love others in a way that speaks of your grace and mercy, I ask…

What do you want me to learn this year as I follow your son Jesus? 

What is mine to do?

How can I help a world in need?

Where would you have me start?

Give me your wisdom, and may I honor you with my life…

Amen

As you finish this prayer I want you to know that we are praying for you, and we are excited to see and hear how God uses you in 2011.  The start> Project has some amazing initiatives planned, and we can’t wait to tell you more!

Please don’t hesitate to contact us and share your start> stories and prayer requests!

You can email me at jaredy’at’c2mpg.com, or give me a call at 616-538-9895.

...let us begin!

Jared

QUESTION:

What Good Samaritan activities are you involved in this year?

 

Five Book Recommendations for 2011

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"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.  Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Okay, so you are either chuckling, or are thinking "That's disgusting!"

Either way, i thought I would share five start> book recommendations for 2011.  If you choose to read any of the books listed this year, I will be praying that they will help you grow in your love for God and your love for your neighbor.


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"Start With Me: A Modern Parable" by Michael Seaton, with John Blase

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QUESTION:

What books should be added to the list?

 



Show the World

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 “I can neither meet the needs of everyone in the world nor take anyone’s needs lightly.”  Lynne Hybels, author, speaker, and activist

recent article in Good magazine attempted to sum up the state of the planet Earth.  And while the article mentioned harsh details about the challenges presently faced, including a tumbling economy, ongoing war, pandemic diseases, widespread hunger and disabling poverty; the author’s conclusion carries much hope with it:

“The global problems are larger than before, but our capacity to meet them is larger still."

As the New Year begins, I’d like to invite you to explore what it means to move from creed (what you believe) to deed (how you act in response to your beliefs) on behalf of those in need around you.  If every man, woman, and child who is a follower of Jesus will join together and fight against today’s biggest threats, we can begin to show the world what the Kingdom of God looks like.

Your choices matter.  Choose today to start>.

Don't Trust the Religious Experts

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Last week Jen and I started reading a book called "One.Life" by Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies at North Park University  (Zondervan).  The book is written to help people discover what Jesus meant when he announced the arrival of God’s kingdom, and why his message had such a profound impact on his listeners.  We are finding that the book is giving our lives a renewed vision to live in response to the Good News of Jesus Christ!

I’d like to share a little from chapter three of the book, called “Imagined.Life,” where McKnight shares about the parable of the Good Samaritan.

McKnight writes:

“Imagine a world, Jesus tells us, where religious experts ignore those who are needy, but religious outcasts show mercy on the needy.  We call this…the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Jesus uses a Samaritan for this parable because Samaritans were an ethnic-religious group that lived in the area north of Judea.  They were seen as religious half-breeds by conventional Judaism.  Jesus’ point is so alarmingly clear: Go and do likewise, even if that means following the way of this Good Samaritan!

Who is responding to the people in Haiti who are suffering?  Who is taking up the causes of poverty in Africa?  Who is working to eradicate child slavery in Indonesia?  Jesus caught his readers up in questions like these and, instead of using a Pharisee or priest as a model of goodness, he grabbed a religious outcast.

In our day, Jesus would have used a Muslim or a Sikh or an atheist.  His words strike home even more forcefully and he looks through us with his all-seeing compassionate eyes: Go and do likewise.”

Imagine Jesus telling this parable today.

The Good Muslim

The Good Sikh

The Good Atheist

How would you respond?

Would your response be filled with defensiveness?

Or would you hear the message clearly:

GO AND DO LIKEWISE!

 

McKnight Book Cover

 

The Story of Mary Margaret Bartley

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Last night our family enjoyed one of our favorite meals - spaghetti!  Our daughter picked out which kind of pasta we would use (mini penne), and our five-year-old son ate a mound of pasta bigger than his head!

One of the highlights of the meal were fresh baked rolls, given to us by our next door neighbors.  They were delicious!  And as I reflect on our neighbor's generosity (not to mention the fact that they have daughters who are interested in babysitting for us - woohoo!), I am reminded of a story from the start> Becoming a Good Samaritan Participant's Guide.  The story of Mary Margaret Bartley:

Ten years ago Mary Margaret Bartley and her husband, Stewart, intentionally relocated to the neighborhood of Austin in Chicago, Illinois.  Soon after their arrival, they realized that they were surrounded by neighbors who wanted, like them, to honor both God and other people by being better stewards of the world in which they lived.

Before long, the Bartleys and their neighbors had made an informal arrangement to be generous with the everyday resources of life.  "It wasn't so much the practical part that compelled us," she explains, "but the overall idea that everything belongs to God, and we are simply called to steward well the things we find in our midst.  So far we have a shared vacuum, a shared table saw, a shared weed-whacker, a shared ladder, a shared lawn mower, and on and on it goes."  When asked who foots the bill when the lawn mower has an attitude, she didn't miss a beat.  "We pool our money and have it fixed."

The family across the street has two children and one car.  They take public transportation as much as possible, but when schedules are especially demanding, neighbors loan them a car.  "There are literally dozens of cars that sit unused all day long in this neighborhood.  My husband and I both work from home, for example, so there are plenty of times when we don't need ours.  We're glad to have friends who can use our resources when we aren't using them, and we treasure that type of cooperation in return."

Mary Margaret acknowledges that an urban setting makes an easier backdrop against which to live out this "shared" lifestyle.  But she's quick to remind suburbanites that there are small steps they can take.  "Sometimes progress is as simple as walking down the street," she says.  "If you have  a front porch, sit on it!  Host a block party at a local park or in your own backyard - do whatever you need to do to share a meal and a conversation with the people who live nearby.  Create room for relationships to be formed, and then just watch what God will do."

"We want to live with open hands," she says, "being good stewards of the resources and the relationships that God has entrusted to us."  What a gift to their community - and their God - that decision must be. (Based on author interview with Mary Margaret Bartley, 2009.  Used with permission.)

As you reflect upon this story, consider the following question:

1.  What is one way that you can encourage your neighborhood to model her approach?

Good Samaritan Song of the Year

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Last night Jen and I watched the 44th Annual CMA Awards.  For two country music fans, "Country Music's Biggest Night" is something we look forward to every year.  Jen grew up listening to country music, and I think she knows the lyrics to every hit from the 80's.  Her June Carter Cash impression is unmatched (yep, even better than Reese Witherspoon!).  I grew up listening to everything but, and so my love for country music is much newer.  Johnny Cash and Ernest Tubb are two personal favorites.

In honor of the event, I would like to present the award for The start> Project's first annual: 

"Good Samaritan Song of the Year!"

Ready?

Drumroll please...

And the winner is:


With lyrics such as "...and you just want to help not sure where to start..." it was an obvious choice!

Question:

What song, past or present, would you like to nominate for "Good Samaritan Song of the Year?"

Receiving David by Faye Knoll

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On a recent brisk October day I read a great book called "Receiving David" by Faye Knol.  It is a story about the struggles of disability, and the healing power of grace and joy.  I recommend it highly.

Here is a description from the author's website:

"David Knol was born dangerously premature in 1982 and wasn't expected to live more than a few hours.  Remarkably, he not only survived but also went on to live a life full of joy and blessing, despite severe physical and intellectual disabilities.

Now, years later, David's mother tells his story.  Through touching anecdotes and poignant recollections, Faye Knol shares the lessons that David taught those around him during his twenty-two years, reminding all of us that one person - even facing great obstacles - can profoundly impact a family and a community.  Warmth, laughter, pain, and passion shine through this mother's inspiring memoir about her son."

Here is a link to a recent article about the book:


You may order a copy from Eerdman's Publishing Company

If you are interested in learning more about helping people with disabilities and their families, please visit the Joni and Friends International Disability Center website.

The Good Samaritan Budget

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Let me tell you something about my wife Jennifer.  She is an accounting rock star!  As we are getting settled in to our new house, Jen is carefully preparing a budget that will not only help us climb out of the hole of debt we find ourselves in, but will wisely ensure that we can maximize every dollar.  In fact, I just reviewed the budget she prepared for November, and I have to say…she is awesome!

But with all of our talk about money and common "cents" (sorry...couldn't resist!), and whether or not we will have cash for a $5 pizza night, our desire to live like the Good Samaritan causes us to consider some other things when doing our budget.

For instance, there are approximately 6.9 billion people in the world today, and more than 3 billion of them – close to half – live on less than two dollars a day.  And trust me, although we are not millionaires, my family lives on much more than two dollars a day.

It’s an overwhelming statistic, and it is reflective of an overwhelming problem – too many people are forced to survive on too few resources. 

And here is the part that Jen and I think and talk about…

Jesus’ idea when he sends out his disciples, including you and me, is to reach the world with his message of grace which includes putting off our selfish concerns and sinful desires and putting on compassion for a broken and needy world.

Following him means following the example that he set: 

feeding hungry people

clothing people who crave warmth

providing resources to people who are poor

The stakes are high as Jesus issues this plea today. 

“From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48

You, like me, have likely been entrusted with much.  And a need-laden world is waiting to see if we will be Christ to them.  Poverty is real, and its devastating effects are seen on all sides.

Which forces Jen and I to view our budget differently, and to ask ourselves the following question:

How will we choose to start>?

And I will challenge you with the same question:

How will you choose to start>?

The Sometimes-Scary Adventure of Compassion

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 I recently spoke with Pastor Keith Allen Manry of Akron First United Methodist Church (New York).  The congregation there recently finished a start> Becoming a Good Samaritan church campaign, and I had the great opportunity to hear about how God has been using the series at First UMC.

One example is a group of women who decided to start> by cooking a meal at Cephas House, a Buffalo area nonprofit organization “focused on meeting the inner needs of men and women in prison and on parole.”

Pastor Manry shared that many in the group were at first fearful to serve at Cephas House, but their fears were calmed as they shared the love of Christ in the form of a meal and good conversation.  In fact, they are planning to return again soon!

This story reminded me of a quote made by former professional football player Miles McPherson in the first session of the start> Becoming a Good Samaritan DVD. 

McPherson said:

“Walking into the unknown and the unfamiliar is scary, but we have to remember that Jesus is always with us and has already paved the way for us.” 

With this in mind, consider taking a few minutes and answering the following questions.

 

  1. How does Jesus Christ convey his presence in your life?
  2. How do you know that he is near?
  3. How does knowing that Jesus is near affect your willingness to serve others?
  4. Where is Jesus “paving the way” for you to “love your neighbor?”  

 

Hoops of Hope

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As I have mentioned in other posts, my family and I just bought a house. 

One of the best parts about our house is that we have a small half-court basketball court in our backyard.  Simply put; it’s AWESOME! 

This, coupled with the fact that the new NBA season has started, has led me to share with you about "Hoops of Hope." 

“Hoops of Hope” is the biggest basketball shoot-a-thon in the world, much like a walk-a-thon.  You can join thousands of participants and teams from around the world who shoot free throws for children in need.  Ever dollar raised goes directly to a project you select, and every free throw will help keep children from becoming orphans. 

A few weeks ago Jen and I were talking about how we could use our house for God’s glory.  We want to use this great gift in ways that will tell others about his love and mercy.  A “Hoops of Hope” event is a way we can do that!

Perhaps hosting an event is something you, your small group, your friends, or your church might be interested in as well!  

By the way...go Pistons!!!

Caring for the Sick - What Can I Do?

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When I think about caring for the sick, fighting global epidemics and preventing diseases, I have to admit that I am not sure where to begin.  


For instance, today I read at ONE.org that "the most dangerous type of malaria-carrying mosquito is evolving into two different species, posing serious problems for controlling the transmission of the devastating parasite.  The revelation could present difficulties in controlling malaria because eradication strategies directed against one mosquito species may not be effective against another."

That's serious!  

And yet I struggle thinking "What can I do?"  I'm a Dad of three who works two jobs and has a lawn full of leaves to rake and a "Honey Do" list that keeps growing.  How can I care for the sick?  

My guess is you ask the same questions.

Here are some ideas:

1.  Pray for healing.  Get out your calendar and highlight days that celebrate various countries or holidays of various faith traditions.  Pray for the people of that country who are being affected by global health issues and then participate in a service project that reflects your compassion.  For example, you might celebrate Chinese New Year by collaborating on a community service project with a local Chinese church congregation.  On World AIDS Day - December 1st - you could invite people to make a donation toward the eradication of this disease.  Visit earthcalendar.net for a complete listing of holidays by date, country, and religion.

2.  Purchase Bed Nets For a Family. For $18 you can provide long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets that will protect an entire family from malaria through World Vision.  Since these nets can be used for approximately four years, that means you will save the life of a family for only 18 cents a month.  What an investment!

3.  Read a Book.  Consider reading a book such as "Warrior Princess: Fighting for Life with Courage and Hope" by Princess Kasune Zulu, "Love Mercy"  by Lisa and Ty Samson, or "A Positive Life: Living with HIV as a Pastor, Husband, and Father" by Shane Stanford


Home Closings and Advertisments

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On October 7th Jen and I closed on a house.  After many years of renting, we are now starting to settle into a place we hope to call home for many years.  As we unload boxes and try to figure out where to put everything we own, we can't help but think about the new neighborhood we live in, and what opportunities God will have for us to like the Good Samaritan. 

As such, I can't help but think about a quote from start> participant Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle:

"The only advertisement for Christ on this earth is we Christians - the body of Christ, the church of the Lord."  

This quote is forcing me to ask myself some hard questions, and I would like to challenge you with the same questions.

What do you want your "advertisement for Christ" to communicate to the watching world?

For me the answer to this question is that I want those around me to know that Christ is the center of my life, and that I live in response to the great mercy of God.  My love for my neighbor is fueled by a love for God, and a desire to share the Good News of his Kingdom in both word and deed.

Do you suppose that there is a disparity at times between what Christians wish their "advertisements for Christ" said and what the watching world actually sees?  

Unfortunately yes.  But while it would be easy to point out the flaws of others, the reality is that I must take care to address the disparity that exists in my own life.

How would you answer these questions?

Sitting on a cardboard box, computer on a card table,

Jared


Before You Seek Justice

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In Isaiah 1:16-17, the prophet conveyed instruction on God's behalf according to a vision he had regarding Judah and Jerusalem.  "Cease to do evil," said Isaiah, "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause (RSV)."

It is clear that God has high expectations for his followers' involvement in eradicating injustices in the world in which they live, but equally important is God's expectation for what they will do before they seek justice.  In the verse that precedes Isaiah's litany of commands, he tells the people - and Christ-followers today - to "wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes."

As you begin this week, ask God to show you areas in your life that need to be washed clean by his supernatural power, so that you will be able to approach the task of justice-seeking with pure hands and a spotless heart.

BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

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To CELEBRATE the release of Start with Me: A Modern Parable , by start> Founder Michael Seaton, with John Blase, we are giving away 2 signed copies of the book on Friday, October 1st!  You can enter from NOW until Friday!!!

There are THREE WAYS to enter:

1.  Leave a comment below

2.  Tweet about it on Twitter (make sure to include @letusbegin so we know about it, RT's count as an entry)

3.  Leave a comment on our Facebook page ( "start> Becoming a Good Samaritan")

(HINT: IF YOU DO ALL THREE YOU WILL BE ENTERED THREE TIMES)

On Friday we will pick 2 winners at random, and notify the winners for an address.

Let's be honest...that's easy...and the book is AWESOME!!! 


Categories? Or the Crown of Creation?

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It sometimes seems easier to consider those who are widowed, orphaned, and incarcerated as "categories" instead of as the crown of all creation, but those who love God are called to adopt an altogether different mind-set.

As you walk through the day, ask God for eyes that are open so that you can see suffering people as God sees them, for ears that hear clearly the stories that break God's heart, and for arms that will stretch themselves toward embracing people as Jesus Christ did when he walked upon the earth.

At some point every Christ-follower was in need of adoption, tenderness, and release from bondage.  Remember how you felt then, and let God use that empathy for good today!


When Sunday Dinner Becomes Pizza Rolls

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How is the new school year treating you?  Are you busy?

This year Jen and I can say that all three of our kids are in school.  Matthew is in 5th Grade experiencing his first male teacher.  Katie is in 1st Grade experiencing her first spelling list.  Jack is in Kindergarten experiencing a whole new world.  Matthew's teacher is in a rock band.  Katie's arms are covered with Silly Bandz.  Jack is the "student of the week," running around looking like an Ewok in an oversized t-shirt.

Needless to say...after two full weeks of school we found ourselves pretty tired this past Sunday afternoon!  What used to be a well constructed Sunday dinner became pizza rolls, and our family time consisted of watching the Detroit Lions football game.

Amid busy lives that yield jam-packed days, it sure is easy to focus only on your own tasks, troubles, needs, and plans.  But I'd like to invite you to look at the world from a vastly different vantage point - through the eyes of "unloved others."

God calls his followers to represent Jesus Christ not just to people who look the same, act the same, talk the same, and vote the same way that you do, but to every man and every woman who needs his care.

People, in the words of theologian Klyne Snodgrass, "who refuse boundaries for the identification of neighbor and instead love even their enemies."

With this in mind; I'd like to ask you to consider the following questions:

What does it mean to be disenfranchised?

Who are the "unloved others" in the area where I live?

How can I share the love of Christ with them in both word and deed?

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27





Defining Dominion

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Please read the words of Psalm 65:8-13 below, and then answer the questions that follow.

"The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.  You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.  The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.  You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.  You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.  The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing."

What do you believe is the Christ-follower's role in ensuring that "grasslands overflow," and that "hills are clothed with gladness" in this generation and in generations to come?

How does the "dominion" that humankind was given in the Genesis account relate to life today?  In other words, what does having "dominion...over all the earth" and all of the creatures in it (Genesis 1:26 KJV) mean practically for a stay-at-home parent or a busy business owner or a teen who is about to graduate from high school?

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." Psalm 24:1

Your Actions Matter...Your Choices Matter

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All people are "God's kind" of people - people who were created in the image of Almighty God and for an intentional purpose.  And while most Christ-followers agree that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, their spheres of influence can become strangely homogenous, filled only with friends who look, act, talk, dress, and vote just like them.  It's a far cry from what Jesus Christ intended when he instructed his followers to serve as light and salt in a dark, bland world.

What is the Christian's role in reconciling broken and bruised relationships in today's world?  It is, according to the well-known words of Micah 6:8, to "do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God."  It's an interesting triad to consider because it implies that kindness and humility alone are not enough.  It is the seeking out of justice, as well, that will prove to a watching world that the God we serve is good.

Your actions matter.

Your choices matter.

Choose today to start>.

"To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." Proverbs 21:3

(Excerpt from the start> Becoming a Good Samaritan participant's guide, by Michael Seaton and Ashley Wiersema)

What Are You Healthy Enough to Do?

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Global AIDS expert Christo Greyling said that upon manifesting his first AIDS symptoms, he knew that time was running out.  Greyling told his wife, "I want to be a witness for Christ, using this situation of HIV while I'm still healthy enough to do it."

As you consider your own life, what are you "healthy enough to do" today in terms of helping eradicate preventable diseases?

Take a few moments to complete the following sentences:

  1. In doing my part to help eradicate preventable or treatable disease, I could _______________, which might lead to _______________, which might lead to _______________ or even _______________.
  2. I could also envision myself _______________, which God might use to _______________.
  3. Truth be told, I'm even healthy enough to _______________, which might mean _______________ for all sorts of people in need of God's healing touch!
TIP:
Now you can see for yourself what it's like to live with AIDS.  "World Vision Experience: AIDS" offers an online look at the lives of two children - Olivia and Stephen - living in AIDS-affected communities in Africa.  The experience takes only a few minutes but has the power to change your perspective for the rest of your life.  CLICK HERE for this eye opening experience.

One Plus One Equals a Bundle

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"There's a Ugandan saying to the effect that one plus one becomes a bundle.  One compassionate heart.  One act of mercy.  One trip to see people in need.  One generous check.  One person, and then one more, and then one more, and then it starts to form a bundle of compassion and kindness and good that can make a significant difference in a world of darkness and suffering like our own."  John Ortberg

When have you been helped toward healing by the kindness or generosity of "just one person?"


The Fatal Four

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As Good Samaritans we must make a decision to care for the sick.  

In order to do so we must first learn about what deadly diseases are killing people around the world.

We'd like to introduce you to "The Fatal Four."

1.  CHOLERA

Agent: bacterium (Vibrio cholera)

First Recorded: 1563

Region: Africa, Asia, and Latin America

Symptoms: falling temperature and blood pressure; vomiting/rapid dehydration; organ failure; stomach cramps; severe diarrhea; leg cramps

Treatment: (clean) fluids and salt intake, or "oral rehydration therapy;" some antibiotics; some vaccines

2.  HIV and AIDS

Agent: virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

First Recorded: 1959

Region: global

Symptoms: weekend immune system leading to infection with other diseases, especially tuberculosis

Treatment: ARV cocktail, or "highly active antiretroviral therapy" including three or more drugs ingested at a time

3.  MALARIA

Agent: protozoan and mosquito (Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale, and Plasmodium malariae)

First Recorded: antiquity

Region: tropics and subtropics

Symptoms: fever; chills; headache; fatigue; possible vomiting; possible nausea; possible diarrhea

Treatment: so far, no vaccine has been developed, and parasites are good at becoming resistant to drugs; prevention is proving the greatest weapon and centers on insecticide-treated bed nets

4.  TUBERCULOSIS (TB)

Agent: bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex)

First Recorded: antiquity

Region: global

Symptoms: fever; fatigue; possible facial scarring; coughing; deterioration of lungs; chest pain; appetite loss; weight loss; possible stomach, bladder, and kidney problems; general muscle wastage

Treatment: combination of antibiotics for at least a six-month period

(From Dr. Peter Moore, The Little Book of Pandemics, London: Elwin Street Limited, 2007)

 

    

 


FIve Good Samaritan Book Recommendations

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"I just got out of the hospital.  I was in a speed-reading accident.  I hit a bookmark."  Steven Wright

For all of you Good Samaritan bookworms out there...here are five Good Samaritan book recommendations!





Question: What book or books do you recommend for Good Samaritans?

 

Pray to Have Impact; Pray to Be Impacted

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Mother Teresa once said, "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean.  But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."  

Based on these words, answer the following four questions:

  1. What do you believe you have to offer this world?
  2. What brings you the greatest joy?
  3. What is it that you just can't stand to see take place in the world?
  4. What might God be trying to convey to you about where he wants you to start> becoming a Good Samaritan?

Pray to have impact; pray to be impacted.  Pray the people whom you will meet and serve in the near future.  Ask God not only how you might impact their lives, but also what you might learn from them.

World Vision International President Dean Hirsch says that despite the size of the issues facing the world today, whenever he has chosen to reach out and serve someone in need, even in a seemingly insignificant way, he remembers the words of Mother Teresa: "Remember, God did not call you to be successful; he called you to be faithful."

Oceans and Rivers

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 (The following exercise is found on page 23 of the 

, written by start> founder Mike Seaton and Ashley Wiersma)

In Amos 5:21-24 the prophet delivers a stern warning straight from the heart of God:

“I can’t stand your religious meetings,” it begins.  “I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.  I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.  I’m sick of your fundraising schemes, your public relations and image making.  I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.  When was the last time you sang to me?  Do you know what I want?  I want justice – oceans of it.  I want fairness – rivers of it.  That’s what I want.  That’s all I want.” (The Message)

Based on this passage, what does God desire that his followers find “important?”

Oceans of JUSTICE

Rivers of FAIRNESS

With this in mind, please take a few minutes to think through the following questions:

  1. In a given week, what other things vie for top spot on your list of pressing priorities?
  2. What attitudes or habits would need to shift in your life in order for the goals of seeking justice and pursuing fairness to top your priority list?
  3. How might making such shifts draw you closer to the heart of God?

Let us begin!

The ENEMY Challenge

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“Disciples of Jesus are those who refuse boundaries for the identification of neighbor and instead love even their enemies.” Klyne Snodgrass, professor of New Testament Studies at North Park Theological Seminary

At the heart of the parable of the Good Samaritan are two important questions:

Who is my neighbor?

What should a neighbor do?

The answers Jesus gives are straightforward:

Who is my neighbor?  EVERYONE

What should a neighbor do?  EVERYTHING

Yet our response is often:

NOT YOU and NOT MUCH

Especially when it is someone we don’t like.  The person who cuts us off while driving.  The co-worker who gossips about us behind our backs.  The neighbor who won’t cut their lawn.  Fill in the blank…

Most certain when it is someone we consider an ENEMY.  Names and faces so personal we keep them to ourselves. A private list of enemies we cannot mention without burning with anger.

Yet the call of Jesus is still the same.  EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.

And so I would like to issue “The ENEMY Challenge.”

In order to participate, all you have to do is take a few moments and respond to the following three questions:

  1. Who is my enemy?
  2. Do I believe that the call of Jesus in my life is to love that person?
  3. What am I going to do about it?

 

 

 

Good Samaritan Slow Down

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BIG IDEA:

If you want to live like a Good Samaritan you may need to slow down.

Yesterday I left work in a hurry.  Jen and I are trying to buy a house, and we are busy as heck.  You get it.  My guess is you are just as busy.

As I was leaving my office building, headphones in my ear as I talked to Jen on my phone; I noticed an older gentleman struggling to walk down the steps to the parking lot.

My response was common.  I quickly interrupted Jen and told her I’d call her back, and then offered my arm to the gentleman so that he could make it safely down the steps.

We all do that.  We get the door.  We help people in obvious ways. 

We have degrees in common courtesy.

What about uncommon courtesy?

And that’s what bugs me…about myself.

I can see the common things, and I feel great about helping people like that gentleman in common ways. 

But I don’t feel like I even pick up on opportunities to show uncommon courtesy.

Several years ago my Grandfather fell in his garage.  He busted his hip, and lay on the floor of his garage screaming for help for several hours.  Eventually someone heard his faint cries for help and rescued him.

My fear is that my life is moving at such a pace that I wouldn’t even hear someone like my Grandfather screaming for help.

And that is why I propose a Good Samaritan slow down.

Let’s slow down and pay attention.

QUESTION:

What are some ways you could slow down and find ways to be a Good Samaritan at home, at work, in your neighborhood, and when you are in public settings?

Stop Injustice - 5 Weeks For Freedom

(Disenfranchised, Environment, Education and Literacy, Other, Good Samaritan) Permanent link

5 WFF Logo 


"5 Weeks for Freedom" is a major campaign to support International Justice Mission's work and give a voice to victims of modern-day slavery and other forms of injustice.  A team of ordinary people is giving up 5 weeks to cycle the 1800 miles of the Underground Railroad - a route that reminds us that change happens when ordinary people do what they can to stop injustice, that the evil of slavery has been defeated once, and that, together, we can do it again. 


Over the 5 weeks of the campaign - June 28th to July 31, every major city along the tour route will host events featuring music, celebrities, the tour riders and more, to raise awareness of modern-day slavery and other forms of violent oppression - and empower people to take action to stop injustice.

The cycling tour is led by Venture Expeditions, a non-profit organization committed to mobilizing support for humanitarian work through major cycling and climbing tours.  MEET THE RIDERS! 

We at start> would like to give you a moment to listen to the heartbeat of this campaign:

KUMAR'S STORY - INDIA

Orphaned at age five, Kumar became a slave in a brick kiln at age seven.  He was forced to carry heavy loads of bricks on his head and work through illness and injury.  While his peers were in school, he struggled daily with the physical stress of hard labor.

After several years at the kiln, Kumar was released from slavery through IJM intervention in collaboration with local authorities.  Kumar is now free to pursue his dream for the future: "I want to become a police officer so I can help and protect the good people of our village," he recently told staff.  He has excelled in school and has recently begun an internship with one of IJM's India field offices.

MANNA'S STORY - INDIA

When 14-year-old Manna ran away from her abusive home, she met a woman who offered her a job selling fabric.  She accepted the position, and the woman provided her a place to sleep for the night.  When Manna awoke in the morning, the woman was gone, and Manna discovered that she was in a brothel.  For the next two years, she was held in the brothel and raped by customers for the profit of the brothel owners.

She was freed when IJM investigators discovered her captivity and alerted local authorities, working with them to release her and three other young girls from the brothel.  The brothel owners each received five-year sentences for their crimes, and Manna was brought to an aftercare home to heal in security.

STEPHEN'S STORY - KENYA

Stephen was falsely accused of shooting a police officer and robbing the bank where he worked.  The officers who arrested him subjected him to savage beatings and psychological torture over five days, moving him to a different station every night so that his wife would be unable to find him.  When it was determined that he was innocent, the officers conspired with a corrupt judge to hold him in prison for three and a half more years.

When IJM Kenya learned of his situation, the team took on his case, proving that there was no evidence linking him to the crime.  As a result of IJM's advocacy, Stephen was released from jail and reunited with his family.  Today, he works for IJM Kenya, sharing the message of justice throughout the country.

As this team cycles all 1800 miles of the Underground Railroad, please pray that they will raise awareness of slavery and other violent injustice - and rally supporters to raise their voices on behalf of victims around the world!



Recapture Faith's Endless Summer

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by Michael R. Seaton, author of the upcoming Zondervan book "Start With Me: A Modern Parable" and creator of the "start> Becoming a Good Samaritan" DVD Curriculum


"What did you do on your summer vacation?" As kids we would often be asked that question just a day or two into the new school year, as if the measure of our success and worth for the upcoming school year hinged on how “cool” our summer was. And Summer was the best, wasn’t it? When you were very young the key joy of summer was that it seemed to last forever. As you got older it was marked by the “growing up” stages of life. For some that meant finding a way to spend endless days at the beach, for others it was that first job at the local hardware store. And if you were lucky enough—it was the also the perfect time to fall in love. With nothing but time and a few bucks in your pocket you could spend endless hours courting and pining over someone special.

But now we’re adults! Summer isn’t what it used to be. It’s over way too fast and seems to be filled with endless “around the house” chores that never end! Where is the romance, the sense of endless joy and hope that used to fill our hearts during the Summer?

Sometimes our faith feels a lot like our experience of summer. We come to know and love Jesus in the “summer” of our youth. And like the recollections from our youth it feels like “summer” will last forever. We don’t mind spending countless hours talking with him, looking for our “first jobs” in ministry, and feeling the first blush of a romance that is very special. But often times—not every time mind you—when we become adults and have worn our faith for so many winter seasons, it gets easier and easier to let worldly, practical responsibilities get in the way of our “summer” love for Jesus. How can we recapture that feeling? How can we get back our “endless summer”?

One of the things we are commanded to do as Christians is to “Serve Others”. Now after all I’ve said about the joys and freedom of summer you might wonder, how can I justify adding to your already busy schedule more work and personal commitment that comes with serving others? Well here are two answers—


1. You will gain perspective 
In the midst of a highly congested personal life overrun with financial, family and business concerns, nothingand I mean nothingwill slow you down and put the proper perspective on things like volunteering for 2 hours down at the local homeless shelter.

2. You will have fun 
Secondly, and please forgive me from being so bold, I think you may be looking at things the wrong way! I think that summer is the perfect time to get involved in service and volunteer projects. Why? Because if we can be creative on how we do it, it can be the most fun you and your family have had in years. Maybe all the way back to those summers of your youth. Here’s how...

• Make volunteering a family event 
Summer is the best time to pull the family together for a project. Admit it, you do it every Saturday for “chores” around the house. How happy and fulfilled is everybody after that day? Take a Saturday off and go out and volunteer in your community. I think you’ll get more high fives then you will for suggesting they weed the garden!

• Hang out with your neighbors 
Throw a block party. During the party casually start conversations that lead to recognition of issues that are facing your neighbors. Then lend a hand! Small or big, it doesn’t matter, once you become involved at this personal level with the day-to-day concerns of your neighbors, you are practicing on a very real and tangible level God’s command to love him and your neighbors.

• Take a (service) vacation 
Did you ever come back from a vacation thinking you need a vacation from your vacation? That’s because our vacations are events centered on doing as much “stuff” as time and money will allow. I bet if your vacation was centered on helping others you would come home more rested and satisfied – and have less suitcases filled with useless souvenirs!

• Celebrate 
After a day of serving together as a family, take time to celebrate! Celebrate the opportunity God presented, celebrate the joy you received, celebrate the new friends you’ve made. And we’ve found that a trip to the local ice cream shop is a pretty good way to start.


Recover the Endless Summer
Do you want to recover the summer of your youth? The sights, the smells, the warmth, the joy and the hope found in a beautiful summer day? 

Do you want to recover your faith? The sights, the smells, the warmth, the joy and the hope found in a beautiful relationship with your Lord, Jesus Christ? This summer search no further than the homeless shelter, the nursing home, the hurting in your own neighborhood and you’ll find him—and the “Endless Summer” you’ve be longing for!

20+ Ideas from World Vision for Good Samaritans

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Are you looking for ways to start>?


World Vision has created a place just for you!

You will find over 20 total opportunities to:

Show mercy...
Care for the sick...
Seek justice...
Honor the poor...
Tend to creation...
Love the forsaken...

To get started...

Book Review: Rediscovering Values by Jim Wallis

(Poverty and the Poor, HIV and Africa, Disenfranchised, Environment, Education and Literacy, Disaster Relief, Other) Permanent link

 “The economic crisis presents us with an enormous opportunity: to rediscover our values – as people, families, as communities of faith, and as a nation.”  So begins Jim Wallis’ newest book, which issues a rally cry to embrace a “transformational moment” in the history of America.  Wallis does this by identifying how we got here, what we got ourselves into, and the way out. 

Although I don’t agree with every point Wallis makes, he has challenged me to rediscover the core values of my faith and respond.  For example, as I try to live as a Good Samaritan, I was challenged to remember that “The gospel story of the Good Samaritan teaches an age old lesson that we must reach out to other human beings in order to be human ourselves and that we will likely have to cross some traditional social boundaries to do that.” 

Readers of the book will see how they can use this transformational moment to regain balance by remembering that enough is enough, that we’re in it together, and that our aim must be to “develop an ethic of a sustainable economy and sustainable communities and to teach that ethic to our children.” JY

Check It Out!

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Originally Posted on 5-18-09

Click Here! 

Keeping It Local

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Originally Posted on 5-15-09

There’s probably a myriad of reasons why we don’t start>, but one of the many reasons is time. So far in the project we’ve interviewed lots of people whose full-time job is working with the poor, spending time with the disenfranchised, or being a voice and an advocate for a specific cause. The questions come up, “That’s great that they’re helping, but how am I supposed to help? What am I supposed to do? And how am I supposed to fit it in my busy schedule?”

We wanted to know the same thing. So, we searched our own city looking for local Good Samaritans. And we’ve spent the past couple of weeks filming individuals making a difference right where they live! We found people of all walks, people from all different backgrounds, people with different passions and with different interests - each finding their own way to live out the Good Samaritan life.

As we sat down with Shane Claiborne a few weeks ago, he shared with us some of his experience with Mother Teresa. One of the things he told us about her was that when people would leave she would always say, “Now, go find your Calcutta.”

The truth is we don’t have to travel miles and miles to find hurting people in need (though God may call us to a foreign land to serve). But most likely God has something for you to do today, right now, right where you live.

Maybe just start> with this simple prayer:

God, I want you to use me today.
I’m here to be your hands and feet. Please show me my Calcutta.
Please draw my attention to the people and the needs around me.
Show me how to love.
Amen.

Kaylee, Project Manager

One Last Round

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Originally Posted on 5-14-09

This upcoming weekend marks our last week of travel and filming for start> Becoming a Good Samaritan.

We’ll make our way down to Birmingham, AL where we’ll catch interviews with Karen Kingsbury and Angela Thomas.

From there we’ll fly up to New York City where we’ll sit down with Mike Huckabee to hear how he got started!

It’s been an amazing adventure and we extend our sincere appreciation to all our new friends who took a moment to sit down with us, share their story and give us insight on how we might start> Becoming a Good Samaritan.

Kaylee, Project Manager

A Quick Jaunt Down to Elkhart

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Originally Posted on 5-13-09

Today we’re in Elkhart, IN filming an interview with Stanley Green from Mennonite Mission Network.

Kaylee, Project Manager

Participant's Guide

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Originally Posted on 5-5-09

The Participant’s Guide is just about ready to be submitted – and it’s fantastic! I was able to read through it the other day and I’m so excited for it to come out. As I read through it, I loved picturing people coming together to be a part of this small group study.

The Participant’s Guide is an amazing resource as it offers both opportunities to grow as a group and as an individual!

Kaylee, Project Manager

Tapping In

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Originally Posted on 5-1-09

So far, our interviews have been with authors, pastors, speakers, and activists. As we looked at our list of committed participants we realized we had a whole resource that we hadn’t tapped into yet --- artists!

Music is many things, but one thing it is for sure is a form of communication and many of our artists today are raising their voices on some of the biggest global issues facing our world today. With songs like “Give Me Your Eyes” and “Power of One,” we just had to hear the stories behind such empowering, melodious lyrics!

We were blessed have a number of artists commit to being a voice on start> Becoming a Good Samaritan and so we spent a few days in Nashville, TN during the Gospel Music Awards week. While there we interviewed Brandon Heath, Warren Barfield, Mike Weaver from Big Daddy Weave, Margaret Becker, Anthony Evans, Josh Wilson, Matt Maher, Jamie Jamgochian, Israel Houghton and Group 1 Crew.

So now our list of committed participants includes artists, but I firmly believe that we have only broken the surface of Christ’s resources. In fact, I know for certain that each person has the opportunity to live as the hands and feet of Christ.

With that said, one of the best resources we have yet to tap into is --- YOU!!

Come, join us here at start> Becoming a Good Samaritan. We need you, the world needs you.

Kaylee, Project Manager

5 States In 5 Days!

(Other) Permanent link

Originally Posted on 4-30-09

Starting out in Michigan, Mike Seaton and Cameraman, Andy Sheneman, flew into Boise, ID where they met up with Tri Robinson on his sustainable homestead. They conducted his interview looking over acres of rolling hills and expanses of blue skies – a perfect reminder of the beauty of God’s creation!

Mike and Andy hopped into the car and drove their way up to Montana where Eugene Peterson read us The Good Samaritan Parable from The Message.

Another drive brought Mike and Andy to Seattle, WA where they sat down with our good friend, World Vision. Rich Stearns, Steve Haas, and Romanita Hairston shared their expertise with start> Becoming a Good Samaritan. Christopher Crane even planned a special trip up to Seattle so as to sit down with us and lend his voice to the cause.

Catching a flight to Denver, CO, Mike and Andy spent a morning with story-teller Philip Yancey. With years of making scripture come alive, Philip brought the story of the Good Samaritan a bit closer to our hearts and lives.

Kaylee, Project Manager

Big News

(Education and Literacy) Permanent link

 Originally Posted on 4-28-09

 It’s official, start> Becoming a Good Samaritan was just signed on for a book!

Flying Solo - In more ways than one!

(HIV and Africa) Permanent link

Originally Posted on 4-22-09

Despite one of our crew members getting stuck in Amsterdam, nothing could stop us from sitting down with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Unable to wait for cameraman, Jay Irwin, to catch the connecting flight, our very own Paul VanNess flew into South Africa alone. Truly a one man show wonder, Paul filmed the entire interview by himself; serving as both interviewer and camera operator!

Kaylee, Project Manager

Fireside Chat with Lynne

(Other) Permanent link

Originally Posted on 3-27-09

A true delight, Lynne Hybels sat down with us to raise her voice to call the church into action.

She shared with us how the Good Samaritan story opened her heart to a new way of looking at the world, but with that in mind she had to ask herself, “Well now what do I do?” So she began praying that God would help her see through the eyes of the Good Samaritan, and that she would have the willingness to get up close to people in need.

Lynne keeps a quote on her lamp so that she can read it everyday. The quote reads, “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”

With that in mind, Lynne often has to ask God, “What is mine to do?” She told us that sometimes she needs to hear God tell her, “You know, I know you care about this issue, but it is not yours to do. That’s theirs to do.” But other times she needs to hear God say, “Yes, this is yours to do.” She expressed that sometimes “yours to do” might scare you a bit, push you, or stretch you, but we need to follow His guidance and with that, comes no regrets.

So what is yours to do? What is God calling you to be a part of? And what can you do to start>?

Kaylee, Project Manager

Here's My Question

(Other) Permanent link

Originally Posted on 3-25-09

Over a year ago when I first joined The C2 Group, I sat down with Mike Seaton to discuss the project. As we both shared our stories it was evident to me that God had been preparing each of us for this project and that He had brought us together at the perfect moment to be instruments of change to a hurting world!

As we gazed at the brainstorming white board, I had one question that gently tugged at my heart, a question that has stayed with me over the past 16 months. We see where God has taken us in the past, what he has done in us to prepare us, and we see that God has brought us together… but where is God taking us? What is God’s vision for start> Becoming a Good Samaritan?

With a lot of footage sitting in our editing suites ready for edits - all I can say for now is that God has great plans in store and I can’t wait to watch the story unfold!

Kaylee, Project Manager

Back Out East

(Other) Permanent link

Originally Posted on 3-20-09

This week we conducted interviews with the following:

Shane Claiborne
Ron Sider
David Anderson
Joe Mettimano
David Beckmann
Jim Wallis
Francis Collins

Broken GPS, $100
Time spent lost, 120 minutes
Vehicle Rental Adjustments, $80
Parking Ticket, $40
Looping around the block 5 times looking for parking, 30 minutes
Interviews filmed...PRICELESS!!

Kaylee, Project Manager

Interviewed by an Interviewee

(Poverty and the Poor) Permanent link

Originally Posted on 3-18-09

As mentioned in a previous post, we filmed our interviewee, Mike Yankoski, here in Grand Rapids, MI. During our time with him he asked me this question: What’s been your favorite part of working on the start> Becoming a Good Samaritan project?

Here’s what I told him -

My absolute favorite part of working on the start> Becoming a Good Samaritan project has been watching God work!

We initially had hoped that perhaps 20 individuals would step forward to be a voice on the five global issues addressed on the curriculum – and today we sit with over 70 participants on the project.

People questioned if we’d be able to schedule all of the interviews as most of our interviewees have incredibly busy calendars to schedule around; yet, we have had people bend over backwards to accommodate our schedules. We’ve had interviewees host us at their offices, their churches and their homes - sharing with us their stories and encouraging us along the way!

The number of itineraries we’ve had to piece together has been substantial and the details, at times, are overwhelming! But everything has progressed with minimal glitches along the way. It just goes to show that all things are possible with God and I cannot begin to explain how He has brought this all together.

I live for the moments when I take a step back and realize all that God has done! The past few months have been exactly that – moment after moment where all I can do is share with you that God is at work, we are not alone, and that this world will be reconciled to Him.

Kaylee, Project Manager

Snapshot

(Other) Permanent link

 Originally Posted on 3-13-09

I currently find myself sitting at my desk. Yes, my desk. I can’t believe it. It seems that the norm for me these days is airport food, hotel lodging, car rentals and luggage attached to the hip. In fact, I don’t know if someone would recognize me these days without a camera case wheeling behind me with my purse, laptop bag, and at least some other carry-on item hanging from my shoulders.

Here’s a brief snapshot of our traveling routine: We roll into our hotel anywhere from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. and then awake for the next day of filming anywhere between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. Our days are spent traveling to the various locations where we set up, film the interview, then move on to the next interview location….

I’m a bit tired, a big jet-legged, and quite honestly a bit unsure of how well I’m digesting the on-the-go “fast food” venues…But let me just say one thing: I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

I simply cannot believe that I get to be a part of this project. From front porch rocking chairs to yogurt ice cream shops I’ve met some really, truly amazing individuals doing extraordinary things.

Here’s a run-down of the past couple of months:

The 1st week of February we traveled to Atlanta, Georgia where we sat down to interview Gerald Durley, Sandra Thurman and Zach Hunter. We then drove on over to Jackson, Mississippi where we had interviews with Dolphus Weary, Steve Stirling and John Perkins.

And while we were down south, Mike Seaton was out in New York City filming a teaching session with Pastor Jim Cymbala.

We spent a Sunday afternoon filming Mike Yankoski on the streets of downtown Grand Rapids and then caught an evening flight out to Dallas, Texas. Traveling back and forth in Texas, between Dallas and Waco, we filmed interviews with Amy Sherman, Heidi Unruh, Ron Hall and Denver Moore, and filmed a teaching session with Kay Warren.

While we filmed in Texas we had a crew rolling cameras out in San Diego where we captured interviews with Scott Sabin, Jason Russell and Miles McPherson.

Then we had back-to-back, coast-to-coast trips (with a weekend filming of Brenda Salter McNeil here in Grand Rapids, MI). A trip out east sat us down interviewing Chuck Colson and Ron Nikkel, and we spent an afternoon filming a teaching session with Gary Haugen. Out west we interviewed Joni Eareckson Tada, Dean Hirsch, Bryant Myers and David Batstone. We spent a morning filming John Ortberg.

Last week I was in Chicago, IL filming an interview with Tony Campolo; Madison, Wisconsin filming an interview with Star Parker; and Houghton, NY filming an interview with Shirley Mullen.

This week I was back down in Chicago filming interviews with Princess Zulu, Dr. Smith, Mary Nelson and Noel Castellanos.

We have more interviews coming up, but so far the interviews have been absolutely incredible! I can’t wait for you all to hear what they have to say.

Kaylee, Project Manager

On The Road Again!

(Education and Literacy, Other) Permanent link

The upcoming travels are many, the hours of sleep are few, and I personally…couldn’t be more excited!

Here’s a snapshot of where our interviews are taking us:

Brooklyn, NY
Atlanta, GA
Jackson, MS
Grand Rapids, MI
Waco, Texas
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Washington DC
Capetown, South Africa
Houghton, NY
Chicago, IL
Elkhart, IN
Philadelphia, PN
Boise, ID
Seattle, WA
Lakeside, MT

It's a great day to be an instrument of change,

Kaylee, Project Manager

Promo

(Other) Permanent link

 

Whistle While We Work

(Other) Permanent link

Originally Posted On 1-12-09

Since the concept, idea, and dreaming of start> Becoming a Good Samaritan first came into fruition there have been numerous individuals working hard behind the scenes to make things happen!

To date, here is a list of tasks accomplished:

Over 50 participants are on board start> Becoming a Good Samaritan.

The DVD cover has been designed.

A 30 second descriptive promo of the project has been created.

An extensive Marketing/PR plan has been initiated.

95% of committed participants have scheduled film dates.

Two teachers and three interviewees have been filmed.

The participant guide writer, Ashley Wiersma, is off and running as she works to design an amazing experience for small group studies and churches!

Marketing tools for the National Pastors Convention have been designed, created, edited --- and are off to print!

As it all comes together,

Kaylee, Project Manager

Just a Hop, Skip, and a Jump Across the Small Pond

(Other) Permanent link

Originally Posted On 12-22-08

This month (December) Mike Seaton, Author/Creative Director of start> Becoming a Good Samaritan and TJ Rathbun, Director of Audio / Video Productions at Zondervan, made their way over to London where they filmed an amazing entourage of participants:

They met and interviewed Christo Greyling, a World Vision employee with an incredible story of his own experience with HIV / AIDS.

They then hopped on a train and made their way to Milton Keynes where they met up with another World Vision employee, Philippa Lei. Philippa is an advocate for education of children with disabilities.

The trip continued with the filming of Steve Chalke up on a rooftop in London. Then they made their way down to a coffee shop where Steve taught on poor and poverty.

They wrapped up standing outside of Parliament with Bishop James Jones as he shared his thoughts on creation care.

And then it was "Cheers!" to London.

Only some hours later, a few interviews completed, and a teaching session filmed - the crew returned (jet-legged) and with truly phenomenal footage!

Kaylee, Project Manager

Hello!

(Other) Permanent link

Originally Posted On 12-03-08

The Christmas Season is upon us (and in Michigan, so too, are mounds of snow!).

It seriously seems like just yesterday that I found myself in flip-flops and tee-shirts, enjoying the rays of sun beaming on my face and hitting the volleyball over the net (or at least making my best attempt at it).

But now - Now I find myself in a button-up light blue long-sleeve shirt with a wrap around sweater secured at the waist-line, boots up to my knees, my jeans then overlapping the boots, ice glazing my windshield and snow still dumping itself from the nimbostratus clouds.

It also seems like just yesterday we were inviting you to commit to start> Becoming a Good Samaritan. But as I reflect on this month's update, I'm blown away with all that been accomplished in such a very little time!

With a lot of hard work and dedication behind us, and a lot more ahead, let's move along with the start> Becoming a Good Samaritan update:

The Present of the Present

Only a few days shy of Thanksgiving we made our way down to Wilmore, Kentucky where we found ourselves welcomed with open arms by author, Matthew Sleeth and his lovely wife, Nancy.

To make the most of the daylight hours we filmed Matthew's outside B-Roll (hanging laundry, filling up his compost pile and gardening - it is to note that carrots are a bit small during this time of year. I found myself quite intrigued by the adorable little orange nuggets that Matthew wrestled out of the ground).

That evening Nancy fixed us an amazing plate of lasagna (the meat from a near-by farm), home-made bread, and carrots (right from their garden!). Matthew instigated the rest of the evening's course by lighting up the fireplace and guiding the record player's arm and needle so as to write Van Morrison across our ears.

I snuggled myself right next to the fire, nearly setting the back of my shirt ablaze. With no electronics to disrupt our fellowship and with the true hospitable nature of both Matthew and Nancy, I found myself in a place I hadn't been in for a while - I was fully in the present - and what a beautiful place to be!

We arose early the next morning and spent our day filming Matthew as he taught on Session 5: The Environment - Stewardship of God's Creation. We filmed most of the session in his living room and then made our way throughout the house showing different ways in which individuals can start> Becoming a Good Samaritan.

A blessing, a joy, a life-changing experience,

Kaylee, Project Manager

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