Participating in suffering to give birth to something more: A Good Friday reflection

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"On the cross we see the true nature and character of God: one who is willing to absorb our messiness and hatred, while responding in love."

A Good Friday reflection from blogger Benjamin L. Corey, and an invitation to follow in Jesus' footsteps.

***

As someone who makes his living writing books and giving talks, I am well aware that all compelling stories are marked by a meaningful introduction and conclusion. How one introduces the story, and how one ends the story, has the ability to send a message that will reverberate long after the story is over.

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    Be a blessing

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    When bestselling author Debbie Macomber sits down to write a mission statement, you might think she would focus on writing or selling books.

    But instead, her mission was inspired by God's covenant with Abraham—"I will make you a blessing"!

    Read how she's been led to bless others.

    ***

    I truly cannot express what a blessing World Vision is—it brings me such joy to be partnering with this incredible organization. My hope is that as we start 2017, together we can be a blessing to children, and their families and communities all around the world. But for me, this journey really began a long time ago.

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      Loving through our differences at Thanksgiving

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      Especially as we come together with friends and family during the holidays, we can find ourselves so easily divided by differences.

      But we can overcome our differences by focusing on what we have in common and loving our neighbors the way Jesus showed us, both here and across the globe.

      This Thanksgiving, Rich Stearns encourages us to pray for those—like refugees—who don't have the homes, food, and family we celebrate today.

      ***

      When Reneé and I get all our grown children and their spouses and children around the table for Thanksgiving, which isn’t often, it gets a little complicated. We’ve got five carnivores, three vegetarians, three vegans, one gluten-free eater, and a child with a peanut allergy. So some people can’t eat the turkey. Others take a pass on the stuffing and rolls.

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        Pancakes and prayer

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        Josephine in Uganda makes 650 banana pancakes every Sunday and sells them at church for a penny each. She raises her 13 children and grandchildren on that income: $6.50 a week.

        See what it's like to make this recipe, and how love and prayer keep her going. 

        ***

        I learned two things last night. First, I’ll never be a food blogger, and second, I’ll never be Josephine Bingi. I’ll tell you why.

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          The wisdom of compassion

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          Living a life of compassion and justice is obedient to how God wants us to live as Christians. God says that it is advantageous to our own souls to choose to care about the poorest people in the world.

          Blogger Haley Bodine explains how the book of Proverbs—a book about living wisely—tell us it is not only good of us to love the poor … it is also good for us.

          ***

          If given the choice between being known as a wise person or a foolish one, most (dare I say all?) of us would want to be known as the former. We want to be known as people who live wisely in our homes, at our jobs, and in our communities. We would rather be known for being wise than for being the village fool.

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            Christ first, America second

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            As we celebrate America this holiday weekend, World Vision USA president Richard Stearns reminds us that we are citizens of Christ first.

            God has blessed our nation, but for Christians those blessings come with a purpose. See the priorities our faith commands:

            ***

            The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. Every year Reneé and I throw a barbeque for friends. We started this tradition in 1976, America’s bicentennial and our first year as a married couple. Ever since, we’ve fired up the grill and laid out a spread of hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, and homemade ice cream for as many as 120 people. I’ll never forget the time a guest stood up and read the entire text of the Declaration of Independence. It was hard to get people to come back the next year.

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              My favorite conspiracy

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              What could happen if we invited our churches to celebrate Christmas differently?

              Read about the "Advent Conspiracy" — a movement to make Christmas a revolutionary event by worshiping fully, spending less, giving more, and loving all. 

              And … see how next week you can make twice the gift and send twice the love to families in need!

              ***

              In the face of upsetting world events and unsettling debates about how to respond to those events, I’d like to tell you about my favorite conspiracy. In fact, I’m asking you to be a part of it.

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                Faith rises from communism’s ashes

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                Faith without works is dead—but in Armenia, faith-fueled works are breathing new life into a nation that is rising from the ashes of communism and walking into a bold future.

                Read about this resurgence of faith, and how Armenia's young Christians are taking action.

                Faith without works is dead—but in Armenia, faith-fueled works are breathing new life into a nation that is rising from the ashes of communism and walking into a bold future. - See more at: https://blog.worldvision.org/content/faith-rises-communism#sthash.D3mU4f...
                ***

                For those of us blessed to live in a country where faith is a protected right, we might just take that freedom—or even faith itself—for granted.

                But when I visited Armenia last spring on assignment for World Vision magazine, I witnessed the devastating reality of what happens to a nation when God is outlawed.

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                  A revolution of tenderness

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                  Living a Gospel-centered life is "revolutionary precisely because it begins and ends with service." Jesus himself came to serve.

                  Guest blogger Elizabeth Esther explores what it means to serve with a tender heart … and how we can live that revolution every day.

                  ***

                  Just before coming to the United States, Pope Francis offered a gentle entreaty: “We are asked to live the revolution of tenderness, as Mary our Mother did.”

                  The revolution of tenderness.

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                    Throwback Thursday: Impossibilities made possible

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                    Fourteen years ago, World Vision launched the Hope Initiative: our groundbreaking effort to engage U.S. donors and churches around the tragic effects of HIV and AIDS around the world, but especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which was hardest hit.

                    Today, our Chief Catalyst Steve Haas takes us back to 2001 when this initiative began, to look back at the challenges faced … and the "unimaginable" transformation that's happened.

                    See where the AIDS crisis is today, and how you can continue to help bring hope to those affected.

                    ***

                    In the early days of the Hope Initiative, our mission to awaken the U.S. Church to the ravages of global HIV infection could have easily been relabeled, “The Impossible Dream.” Every indication was that much of the U.S. Church populace was resolute in their stance that AIDS and those whose lives were impacted by it were none of their concern.

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