I hate to say it, but summer is winding down. Our Summer Book Club is finished and boy did we learn a lot! The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Streans single-handedly changed.my.life. I cannot encourage you enough to read it. You won't regret it.
An incredible woman, Lisa Schluchter, led our week night club in her home. We met four times over the summer and it proved to be a good schedule -- not too big of a commitment but still enough time for everyone to get to know one another and make some great new friendships. We are going to continue this format in the fall and our new book club selection is (drum roll...) The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay. Have you heard people say "I like Jesus, I just don't like Christians?" Actually, Ghandi said it:
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
Our prayer is that after reading and processing this new book, we'll be able to better BE LIKE CHRIST. We know from The Hole in Our Gospel that it's our privilege and responsibility to represent Him and bring the Good News to the poor, the oppressed, the widows, the orphans...anyone who is lost and hopeless. And as God's solution to the problems our world faces, the best way to make a difference is to build relationships. We're hopeful this new book will show us how.
Stay tuned on our website and facebook page with info on when we'll start this new book -- we'll have both an 11:30 class as well as a week night group again. We hope you'll join us!
This is Lisa's response to The Hole in Our Gospel. You'll see why I love her so much...
"After launching myself into the Women’s Ministry summer book club, The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, I haven’t been quite the same. Something is stirring. God has surely captured my attention, and not to sound dramatic, He’s breaking my heart to bits. This moment has been many years in the making, and it’s fairly uncomfortable. For example, God regularly wakes me at 3am to pray for children I have never met--brutal for a recovering insomniac.
The “hole” referenced in this book is the church’s mediocre effort of actualizing God’s kingdom on earth: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and giving justice to the poor. Or simply stated, it’s taking the hands-on part of the gospel (which the author calls the 3rd greatest commandment) too lightly. In a time where poverty and injustice are on the rise, so is the apathy from those of us who live far from it. The statistics are hard to digest: millions of children are without clean water, serve as the heads of households because AIDS has killed one or both parents; they are sold, beaten and brutally forced into sex slavery, and are simply unable to grow up, play, go to school, and become who God created them to be.
This book has caused me to ask many questions: What am I doing about this? How important is this to me? Is my comfy spot in Chicago satisfactory to God when others across the globe are struggling to survive? Do I truly value others above myself? Why has it not become personal? The only possible answer: my heart is not fully broken for those in great need. If it was, doing my part to help would take top priority. According to the author, the gospel-in-action (part 3) completes the full picture of God’s love on earth: loving God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind (part 1), and loving your neighbor as yourself (part 2).
God through His mercy has pointed out the error of my own interpretation of the gospel: I’m not a full-picture Christian. But His love is far-reaching, and He has changed my heart on this subject forever. He is also one step ahead of me in the “plans” department (Proverbs 16:9), so I just need to trust Him and let Him lead. There is simply no small role when it comes to advancing the kingdom of God. Every deed, every moment and everyone matters in helping to reveal this…And so many need to experience it right now.
My hole-is-in-repair-mode takeaways:
· Become affected by the statistics. Poverty is not what you think; it’s much worse. Prayerfully ask for a compassionate, broken heart and read this book. Visit www.theholeinourgospel.com
· Seek the Lord’s will daily, submit completely and amp up “part 3” of your Christian life. He will ultimately use this expression of obedience for His glory (and story) on earth.
· Consider the author’s 7 points to finding your calling: be quiet to hear God’s voice, faithfully read Scripture, pray diligently, follow the Lord’s teachings, listen to wise friends, be available to serve, and remain open and willing to God’s possibilities.
Amazing grace, how sweet it is. It took a book to get on my knees and God’s mercy to break my heart. Whatever the Lord has planned for me next, I’m so over being a 'hole-y girl.'"