Ministry Info/Events · Spiritual Life

The SEVEN Experiment: Week 5: Media

Well, it’s been a week since we last met.  Can you guess what my week involved (or rather – didn’t)?!

Where shall we begin?… For some, I imagine this to be a really hard week and for others, perhaps not so much.  It was a little surprising in my household who had the toughest time with this.

Jen asked us the question “How plugged in do you think you are?” in our Group Guide last week.  How did you answer?  I think it would be interesting to ask yourself that same question also AFTER you complete your Media Fast to see if you answer differently.

A couple of key thoughts that Jen shared with us in her video that weren’t new concepts to me but hit the nail on the head (& I think we need to remind ourselves of from time to time):

  • Media is not a substitution for real life.
  • Media & technology can rob us of our time (oh – how the time flies!!!).
  • The key to introducing Jesus is relationships.  Real people, living real lives, in real relationships.
  • And on that note: real relationships take time.  You need to BE present.

In looking back at my notes, I was amazed at the number of times the word “real” had been used.  I felt that this could be a key word as we approach this week and so I did a quick search (yes – I used my online dictionary – way faster than trying to find a real dictionary, which is probably buried in a box somewhere in dark little cubby under the stairs…but I digress).  Here is what I found:

re·al

adjective

1. true; not merely ostensible, nominal, or apparent
2. existing or occurring as fact; actual rather than imaginary, ideal, or fictitious
3. being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary
4. being actually such; not merely so-called
5. genuine; not counterfeit, artificial, or imitation; authentic
Now if you use those definitions and take a look at your relationships – where does media fit?  I’m going to leave you to think on that one.
We were really encouraged this week to unplug from our media and really plug in to our neighbors, friends, & family.  To do so, we need to become present in their lives.  To care & to love.  To serve.  To be intentional.
Philippians 2:4 reads:
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Galatians 5:6b
“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.”
Galatians 5: 14
“For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.””
How will you engage this week?  I can’t wait to hear how your week(s) went.
Blessings to each of you today!
Val
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Ministry Info/Events · Spiritual Life

The SEVEN Experiment: Week 4: Possessions

This evening we were challenged by Jen Hatmaker to consider how our possessions are steering our hearts.  And not only that, but are they also stealing our time & energy, our money & our hospitality.  This prompted some really interesting discussion around our table, especially surrounding the topic of how our possessions may be stealing our hospitality.  It’s amazing how much pressure we put on ourselves – wanting to make a great first (or twentieth) impression; to have our home all pristine & orderly before allowing anyone outside your immediate family to step foot in it; to serve a gourmet meal prepped & ready to serve before people arrive; to have the table set with your best dishes & the centrepiece to be perfect, and the list goes on.  And how often do we find ourselves making excuses for this that or the other when it comes to our homes & the stuff in it.

Hebrews 13:1-2 (NLT) reads:

“Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.  Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”

Are our possessions getting in the way?  How will you approach this week as you fast from your possessions?  I want to encourage you to follow Jen’s example of not just purging your closets & homes to de-clutter but to find worthy, needy recipients who you could truly bless with your stuff.  I think for many of us (myself included) this is where it gets a little harder.  It’s definitely more time consuming & less efficient, but I think the benefits could be huge!  I challenge you to open your eyes & ears to the opportunities around you.

Some of these opportunities were shared this evening.

  • A fellow member of our church is collecting shoes (still in decent condition) to send over to Africa to those who truly need them.  He has a shipping container & someone to pay the cost of shipping these shoes already in place, but needs/wants to fill it fully.  Bring your shoes next week.
  • This same member is also collecting clothing, housewares, furniture, etc. for refuges coming to Winnipeg.  Feel free to bring these items with you next week or contact Shanon.
  • Our caregivers are looking for a small kitchen table (about 3′ x 3′) for a newly arrived refugee woman, along with 2-4 comfy chairs (to also act as living room furniture), a small desk, a desk lamp, and possibly a small loveseat (nothing too plush).  If you have any of these items, send us an email or contact Elaine (head of Caregivers).

As we look about our homes, may we be mindful of how we can create houses of love versus simply houses of beauty.

Val

Ministry Info/Events · Spiritual Life

The SEVEN Experiment: Week 3: Clothes

“Wherever our treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

How are you doing?  How are you feeling after your first week of fasting?  As you enter into your second week, I would like to inspire you with Jen Hatmaker’s words: “I encourage you to choose a path that will pinch – a fast is supposed to be uncomfortable; that is where the magic happens.”

How will you engage this week?  Will you follow Jen’s example of choosing 7 items of clothing this week?  Or one of her other suggestions on page 50 of your workbook?

In watching the video this past week on Clothing, it is impossible to miss Jen’s emphasis on justice.  This angle surprised some I think, who were possibly anticipating other directions or views of our clothing excess/consumerism.  Although all are valid, I admit that I have turned a blind eye to putting much thought into the history of where my clothes come from for the most part.  Check out the following video about the organization “Free 2 Work” that Jen made reference to.  It’s so easy for us to ignore what’s really going on in the world when it isn’t necessarily happening right in front of us.  Perhaps it’s time we educate ourselves a little so that we can become aware & make a difference in a major injustice.

Why not download the free app today & begin to find out where your stuff comes from.  For more info on how the app works check out this short video:

Another company I am passionate about is TOMS.  Their simple mission is “With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One.®.”  I happen to own a pair of TOMS myself & I have to tell you – they are wonderfully comfortable!!  It’s also kind of cool when you happen to see others sporting the “TOMS” logo; knowing that for each pair of shoes bought, someone in need received a free pair (of TOMS!).

Irma also shared with us about her girlfriend collecting used clothing for “The Wardrobe” at her church (Cornerstone Alliance).  Now is a great time to go through your closets and give some of those pieces you don’t seem to be wearing, etc. to someone who could really use them.  There will be a collection box at our next Women’s Bible Study (Wed, Oct 16th).

In Jen Hatmaker’s book, titled the same as our Bible Study, “SEVEN”, she writes: “God’s idea of a fast is less about what we’re against and more about what we are for.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
(Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV)

When we hear “fast”, we put on a yoke of self-denial.  When God said “fast”, He meant to take off the yoke of oppression.  The Isaiah 58 fast is not about the mechanics of abstinence; it is a fast from self-obsession, greed, apathy, and elitism…. While fasting from futile things, I don’t want to fixate on them, missing the forest for the trees.”

I pray that God would reach your heart & mine this week.  We are so blessed by our Mighty & Gracious Father!

Val

Ministry Info/Events · Spiritual Life

The SEVEN Experiment: Week 2: FOOD

“For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  I was in prison, and you visited me.  
Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?  Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality?  Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ ”
Matthew 25:35-40 (NLT)

I should probably confess right now that as I’m writing this blog post, I’m snacking on popcorn & drinking coffee.  Yes – I have a weakness and No – I haven’t officially begun my “Food Fast”.  I’m hoping to engage with my family in the next day or so to see if together, we can come up with something that fits where we are at right now and that will be meaningful for each of us.  (And no – I am NOT cooking four seperate meals.  I’ve gotta draw the line somewhere!).  I have a couple of ideas, but want to hear what my fam has to say first.

I didn’t have to look farther than my flyers, however, to get one idea.  Popping out of my mailbox was a brown paper bag encouraging us to “fill it with groceries and drop it off at any Safeway store or at Winnipeg Harvest by Thanksgiving”.  Coincidence?  I’ll let you decide.  But there is one idea for you &/or your family.  Visit www. winnipegharvest.org for more info or other ways you can help families right here in Winnipeg.

Cathy also shared with us last night about the need for healthy non-perishable snack items for the kids at her school.  A couple of ideas are fruit cups, applesauce cups, granola bars… just remember they need to be nut-free!  If you would like to contribute, bring your snack items to Bible Study next week & we’ll have a bin set up.

Jen Hatmaker provided us with a few great options as well for us to consider, which you can find on pg 30 of your workbooks.  In her video this week, she also referred to a micro-lending organization called Kiva.  It’s a pretty fantastic way to empower people with as little as a $25 loan.  Make sure to check out their website: http://www.kiva.org .   (A side note: this also makes a spectacular gift idea.)

Each of you had an opportunity to share or brainstorm around your tables last night, some ideas of how to proceed with your “food fast”.  We would love to hear what ideas came out & to help others in choosing how to carry out their week.  Post your ideas in the comments section below.

Further to the micro-lending that our table talked briefly about & the options Jen gave us, other ideas that came forth included:

  • eating locally grown food
  • trying to eat “for free” (ex. from your own garden or apple tree, etc…)
  • purchasing gifts to help sustain others from such organizations as MCC, World Vision, Compassion, etc.

Remember that this is not a guilt trip, a strict formula, an impossible template or a comparison game!  This is between you & God, with the backing of 65 other women cheering you on & doing it with you!  And as Jen encouraged us last week, whatever you do, “Don’t lose the spirit of the fast.”.

Blessings to each of you this week!
Val