Some things just get better with age. “The Wayback Machine” posts occur at the end of every month and reference the best posts of that month in years past. My hope is to provide a good jumping on point for readers whTho have never been to Pursuing Glory.
Weird, huh? I’m in Africa while you’re reading this and I was planning a trip to Africa (this time Ethiopia) two years ago. This was the start of an amazing journey with lots of new friends and spiritual giants. My time in Ethiopia changed my world.
The church of Jesus Christ has a particular obligation to care for widows. It should be difficult to separate the true church with the care of widows, but sadly, it’s not. This is one of my first “Notes from the Margin” posts where I’m wrestling through 1 Timothy and Paul’s prescription for the care of widows.
This post is a short meditation on the nature of movements. This thought came because of the love the people in my sphere had shown me. My hope is we all have a chance to be a part of something like this.
This post is me wrestling with my blogging style. Should I be a blogger who writes about whatever is in my mind at the time? Or should I be a strategic blogger, waiting for content that is relevant and in the Lord’s timing? I’m still wrestling with this idea to some degree. After the death of Osama Bin Laden, this post seems a little dated and a little timeless all at the same time.
It seems like no matter how many things change, they still stay the same. In 2007 I was planning my first trip to Uganda. By the time you’ll read this, I will be there again.
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“Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows,” (1 Timothy 5:3-15).
Paul in this passage is addressing a situation in the church at Ephesus. Timothy was left to set the church there in order and part of that process in Paul’s mind was straightening out the church’s support of widows. Now I’ve read these verses twenty times or so in the last few months and I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom Paul gives Timothy to lead those at Ephesus. But here’s what struck me the other day: the Church of the New Testament took caring for widows as a serious responsibility.
That sound’s like a “duh” statement, but think about it for a minute. Paul gives these instructions “so that [the church] may care for those who are truly widows.” At the heart of Paul’s instructions is this burning desire to make sure the church can care for those who are really widows. Paul didn’t write these words to show us who wasn’t worthy of care and he didn’t write this in response to an isolated first-century situation (cf. Acts 6:1, James 1:27).
But we have missed the forest for the trees. We talk about who should be on the list but we don’t support any widows. We don’t take care of women who cannot take care of themselves. We affirm the truth of what Paul writes but regularly ignore what Paul was actually doing. All of this is to say that the church needs to be about the things that are on the heart of the Lord. For Paul, this wasn’t just a mercy ministry, it was essential to the Gospel. He wrote these instructions so that we could care for widows well and teach those in our midst how to care for their family. This is part of the church being “a pillar and support of the the truth,” (1 Timothy 3:15). This is something we need to return to.
So…how are you caring for widows? Have you seen a church do this well in the past? In an age of social security and looking to the government to care for us, is this even possible? How would the way churches spend money have to change if this became a reality? Also, please remember Guideline #5.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my latest adventures and I’ve barely written about the thing that has been keeping me the most busy. I’ve been contemplating for almost a year now traveling with my friend John Gross to Ethiopia to begin the ground work for some strategic missions work there. Our specific goal is to build relationships with believers in Ethiopia and lay the groundwork for an orphanage there. Up until about two months ago it didn’t even seem like I would be able to go on the trip, so talking about it seemed premature. When everything did come together it became obvious that we had to move quickly to get everything done.
So now, in less than three weeks, a team of four of us from our house church along with John, Gizaw, and three others from Kansas City will be venturing to Ethiopia to see what the Lord would do when we show up. We would very much appreciate any prayer support we could get. Also, if you’re heart is moved to give towards the cause, we would love that as well. You can check out more details here if you’d like more information.
Because the time is short, if you decide to pray or give, leave a message in the comment section so I can connect with you somehow. Prayer is especially needed and we are quickly working on an effective way to organize our prayer support. Thanks to all of you who have become an amazing form of support to Christy and I.
We love you.
In an effort to try and keep everyone more up to date about what I’m up to, I’m posting House of Friends’ April Newsletter. It’s hot off the press with some great news about different things the Lord is beginning to do with the orphanages we’ve started in Uganda. You can read the newsletter by clicking here.
One of the areas of my life I’ve been a little bit silent about is my involvement with House of Friends. House of Friends is a group of people that was brought together by this guy in January of 2008 in an attempt to launch missions movements all over the earth in the context of orphanages, night and day prayer, and church planting.
Since I’m a huge fan of caring for the poor, touching the nations, night and day prayer and church planting, being involved was real no-brainer for me. I’ve been shocked at what Jesus has allowed us to be part of even though we aren’t very large. This summer I’ll be part of a team going to Ethiopia to scout out some possibilities for more involvement there. (You’ll probably here more about this later.)
Anyways, I’m going to make an effort to provide the cause a little more cover here on the blog, starting with publishing the most recent newsletter. There is actually a little more in-depth article about our time with Gizaw and John Gross which I talked about here and a lot of information about how you can get involved helping widows, orphans, and the lost of the nations. If you’re interest is piqued, you can check out our website here or join our cause on Facebook here.
Check out the newsletter here. I will post more as they become available.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)“
Neil Cole is blogging about who the Bible says should receive full time support from the church here, here, and here. This is a huge issue that needs to be addressed, especially in light of the current financial crisis which is now hitting churches everywhere. Neil is brilliantly simple and able to cut to the heart of a matter. I highly recommend checking it out!