Like many of you, I’ve worked through The Journey a few times with groups of wonderful people. I’m in my fifth go round, still learning, still working through my personal journey, this time with a new group of friends.
Today I read something I’ve read before (at least four times, anyway), and it spoke to me again. These are Frederick Buechner’s words in the session titled, “Participating in God’s General Call.”
Things were very different just 500 years ago. The Bible was available in Latin – ordinary people like you and me did not have access to the Scriptures.
That didn’t seem right to William Tyndale. We all recognize his name – the man who defied the King of England to translate the Scriptures into English. His efforts changed England and changed the world.
But do you recognize the name Humphrey Monmouth? I didn’t until I recently read the book, “Gospel Patrons,” by John Rinehart.
Monmouth supported William Tyndale – his life and his work – and his zeal to get the Bible into the hands of people like you and me. The activities of Monmouth and Tyndale were illegal and eventually both were imprisoned. Tyndale was hanged and burned at the stake. God used their passion and sacrifice to change the course of history and the Church. Today, we can thank these two faithful visionary men every time we open our Bibles.
Think about the life change God brought about through your time in The Journey. What if that “change” was replicated in even more lives and churches across North America? What if more church attenders became even more dedicated followers of Jesus, considering first His way instead of our own? What could be the strength of God’s Church in Canada and the US if that happened?
I have a friend who recently completed The Journey. She grew up in church and has a strong legacy of faith. Yet in the midst of The Journey, something happened – she began to see things from a new vantage point . . .
Just this week I grabbed a swanky paintbrush along with trendy milk paint and moved mountains on my outdoor patio. This life-changing milk paint requires no furniture prepping, no matter what foundational shape it is in. With each stroke and glide of the brush, the foamy and runny paint covered nicely and adequately over the dark, unfinished wood coating my Adirondack chairs. I was enthralled at how nicely the paint set, leaving no streaks or drips behind.
As a hurried, restless, somewhat overscheduled woman who would typically prefer to purchase a prefinished furniture piece, I was surrendering my past ways of laziness and stepping into a delightful journey of DIY initiatives. The tedious hours spent painting and creating stirred something in my soul to come up for some air and bask in the glory of completing a project.
This is an excerpt from session one of A Way of Life. It bears repeating for me, and maybe for you, too.
There is a story of a five-year-old boy and his mother, who every night put him to bed. She came into his room to talk to him, and to tuck him in, and to pray with him. Some nights they sang together – “Jesus loves me, this I know . . .” or “The B-I-B-L-E! Yes, that’s the book for me” or “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine . . .” or any other of those many early songs he never remembered actually learning, but always somehow seemed to know.
One night while they sang, Mother began to harmonize with the melody of the song. As the boy stuck to the familiar tune, he could hear and feel the movement of her notes weave beautifully with his. Her voice added depth and breadth and beauty to this simple song. The song felt larger, more beautiful.
“What are you doing?” he asked her.
“I am singing the harmony,” she replied.
Harmony. He had never heard that word before. They continued singing. Mother harmonizing, now deepening, now widening, now filling in, her voice dancing lovingly around his. It was beautiful.
Then she said, “Now you try! You be the harmony.”
The Journey takes time. That issue makes some of us hesitate because we are always looking for quick fixes. But what are the results of “quick fixes?” Seldom are they long lasting. The Journey sets the bar pretty high. That’s what sets it apart, I believe.
We need time for growth. True discipleship doesn’t take place in a microwave environment. We need time for relationships. Our relationship with Jesus and our relationships with people all take time.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecc. 3:1-8
One definition of the word “catalyst” is “a stimulus to change.”
What happens when someone becomes a catalyst for any type of change? Maybe you’re the catalyst in your home for a change to healthier eating. Or maybe you’re the catalyst in your church for a move toward more intentional discipleship.
I recently made a trip to Indianapolis, Indiana where I met with pastors, facilitators, and financial partners of VantagePoint3. Quickly I found a common denominator in what I was hearing. One name, Beth Booram. Almost all of the people I met had been pointed to VP3 through the influence of this one woman who believes in the impact God is making on lives.
Money is always a touchy subject. We all have some and we have decisions to make on what we do with the amount God has given us. It’s always easy to look at those who have more, and figure it’s their responsibility to carry the biggest load. Then we’re challenged with “the widow’s mite,” and wonder where that leaves us – often someplace in the middle.
We have family members with needs, we have mortgages and car payments, our churches have building programs, and many of us have a cause or two. They’re all good and worthy projects.
I met a man recently who is bothered about the giving of people living in the Western world. His research shows on average we give about one percent, sometimes two. He is challenging his friends to look back over their tax returns and set a goal of giving at least five percent. How would our world be different if we all gave five percent? Would all the ministry needs be met?
I would guess that percentage jumps a bit for us “church folks.” If you’ve spent time in the Church, then the ten percent figure gets tossed around. (Our “tithe” has been described as 1/10th in Leviticus 27:32).
So we give as we hear needs, and then some extra at the end of the year. And sometimes my giving is stretched when I hear about an urgent need and I want to respond.
Then I read something like this . . .
“God doesn’t need our cash. He doesn’t come to us, hat in hand, sheepishly asking for funding for His mission. We don’t give because God needs it, but because in giving we declare His value to us and our love for Him. Jesus told us that if we want to know what a person really loves, we should follow the trail of his [or her] money… The world, of course, finds it absurd to be this open-handed with our resources (I earned it, I deserve to benefit from it!)…When was the last time your generosity made someone question your sanity?”
J.D. Greear in “Three Ways the Gospel Changes our Generosity” blogpost on 19 November 2014
That last question has stuck with me. When was the last time my generosity made someone question my sanity?
VantagePoint3 is looking for financial partners. We have a few. But if we are to respond to the growing need for this work, then we’ll need more. If God has used this ministry to make a difference in your life, will you consider joining us? We’re especially looking for people I call “sustainers,” those who share with us monthly. Even a small monthly gift will make a difference.
But if you want us to “question your sanity,” well that would be fine, too.
To give on our secure web site, go to: http://vantagepoint3.org/donate
And if you’d like to set up a monthly recurring gift, please fill out this form and return it to our office…
And for considering joining us, thank you!
God provides resources and we have so many choices of how to distribute them. It’s the almost daily question, isn’t it?
After the basics – shelter, food and clothing – then what? Where do we spend our riches?
Our mailboxes (and email boxes) are stuffed almost daily with requests for help – all from good projects.
I was in a conversation with a friend who was in the process of deciding how much to commit to some major ministry projects, he said, “I never thought of considering VantagePoint3 in that equation.”
We’re asking you to consider VantagePoint3 into YOUR giving equation. God has inspired us to take this work to more churches and more people across the U.S. and Canada.
Many who have been impacted by the ministry have already made the decision to partner with us. Linda is one such friend of the ministry:
About 30 followers of Jesus gathered together last weekend. We went to a beautiful place (Banff, Alberta) to discuss a difficult topic, “Walking with God and Others through Pain and Suffering.”
We quickly realized that most everyone in the room was experiencing pain of some kind – from the loss of a loved one to challenges with children to unexpected health issues We were encouraged to acknowledge our own suffering first, allowing us to better help others, a bit like putting on your own airplane oxygen mask first. “I am always first a sheep. The day I forget that, I’m a fool,” said Scott Shaum (our retreat facilitator from Barnabas International).
Scott set the foundation of the weekend with a challenge to always being “tethered to the Father” – relationally, biblically and theologically. I like the word “tethered,” because it gives me a picture of never being out there on my own. God’s love and strength are available to me, if I choose to stay connected.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians. 1:3-4)
Scott’s solid teaching connected with each one in the room. And as we thought about the many versions of pain we see in those around us, his words resonated: