Chapter OneGUT CHECK 1.0
Flip on tonight's news or go to a news blog and you'll
learn all about the wretched things that are going on
in our world-famines, epidemics, earthquakes, hurricanes,
rapes, beatings, political chaos, slavery, human
trafficking, just to name a few. When you look at all of it,
it's enough to make you feel really, really small, like there's
no way you can make an impact.
Well, I want to let you in on a little secret: The world
is not yours to change. None of us is big enough, influential
enough, or powerful enough to end any one of the
world's major issues. The only person powerful enough to
eradicate poverty or cure all disease or stop earthquakes is
Jesus. But He didn't do any of that. Jesus, in His wisdom,
knew He couldn't just come down here and fix everything
for us; He knew we wouldn't learn anything that
way. Instead, He showed us how to live by spending thirty
years on earth, setting the ultimate example for us to follow.
He didn't end poverty. Instead, He reminded us that
"you always have the poor with you" (see Mark 14:7).
But that doesn't mean Jesus did nothing to help the
poor, nothing to reach out to those whom everyone else
shunned. Instead, He lived with them, listened to them,
ate with them (sometimes He brought the food), partied
with them, healed them, wept and laughed with them .
Same with us. Yes, the world is messed up. There are
a lot of hurting people and a lot of important issues. You
can't end poverty, stop earthquakes, or feed every person
on the planet. But that's no excuse to do nothing. If you're
a Christian, loving other people is not a "calling" you can
patiently discover or wait for God to reveal to you. It's a
direct, nonnegotiable command.
Some of us are called to go and be in the places where
the biggest problems are. Some of us need to be there,
working, helping, serving, not only on two-week trips in
the summer but for years at a time, even lifetimes at a
time. But some of us aren't supposed to do that now. It's
not the right season. We're in school or providing for our
family or training to go somewhere in the future.
But don't buy into the lie that "ministry" only happens
overseas or during summer trips or on Tuesday evenings at
small group or Sunday mornings at church. Ministry is
about people in need, and those people are all around.
How can God use you to impact, change, affect, influence,
love on, and meet the needs of the people all around
you? What's holding you back? How can you break out of
the fear and questions that keep you from "loving your
neighbor as yourself"? (see Matthew 22:37-40).
That's what this book is all about: helping you ask and
answer questions about yourself, your world, and your
God that you might never have asked before-and then
discover huge ways God can work in and through you to
affect the people around you.
Lord, thank You for the opportunity to spend some
serious time in Your Word, learning how to love
others like You do. I pray for the discipline to stick
with this devotional and allow Your Spirit to move
and work in me. Be with me when I'm reading these
words, affect me, change me, move me. Show me how
I should be treating people differently in my life, how
I can reach out and do a better job communicating
Your love. These are big prayers, Lord. Help me not
to get frustrated or disheartened, but to keep going,
trusting that You're working in me to make me more
like You. Amen.
If we only listen or read, it's easy to just go through the
motions. Writing stuff down helps make it stick. The
"Notes to Self" sections are meant to help you record
and remember your steps through this devotional. Think
of them as big, yellow, sticky reminder notes. Jot down a
phrase that sticks out or a verse that has struck you. Write
the name of a person you've been praying for, or tape in
their picture. Once a week you'll have room and time to
work through what you've read, prayed, and experienced.
Before we start, here's a "Personal Inventory" with a few
questions to help establish a beginning point. At the end
of these thirty days, we'll look at a similar survey to help
you gauge your progress.
1) A new person arrives at my church or youth group. What
is my response? I:
1. Introduce myself.
2. Make fun of their clothes.
3. Pretend I don't notice them.
2) I'm downtown with some friends and walk past a homeless
person sitting on a bench. What am I feeling?
3) On the freeway ramp, I drive past a man flying a sign reading:
"Hungry. Anything helps." I (do/don't) believe his sign.
1. Pretend to try to find a new radio station.
2. Glance and make eye contact and then react
as though I've been caught doing something
3. Roll down the window and say hello.
4. Wish I had some food to help meet the need.
4) I'm feeling like God is asking me to do something really
1. Refuse to budge and put my head down,
trusting it will "all go away soon."
2. Promise I'll pray about it, but forget about it
when quiet time comes.
3. Seek counsel and find out if it's really the
Lord's call on my life.
5) I just received a flier in the mail for a local homeless ministry.
They're asking me to consider volunteering and/or helping
1. Throw it away.
2. Put it in the drawer to look at next month.
3. Write a check so I don't feel guilty.
4. Write a check and find a time to deliver it
while I'm volunteering at the mission.
6) What is my comfort zone? What are three things that
make me uncomfortable?
7) Who is a person (or group of people) it's hard for me to
feel like loving?
8) What kind of candy bar would be most difficult for me to
ARE YOU WILLING TO MAKE A COMMITMENT?
Lord, help me. I want to grow closer to You. That's
why I'm doing this whole devotional anyway. Help
me to grow, to realize what You want me to realize.
Change my ideas about who I am, who others are,
who You are, and what Your church is, so that I'll
love others as You would have me love them.
I pledge here that I will try to find time every day to
seek after You by working through this devotional.
God, you know I'm busy and there are a ton of things
competing for my time. Help me to have the discipline
to do what I say I'm going to do, but also help me not
to be too hard on myself when I fall short. Thanks for
loving me so much. Draw me ever closer to You. Amen.
I, _____________, pledge on this date, __________,
to seek and earnestly desire to know God deeply and
more fully. When this devotional asks me to do things
that are challenging and outside my comfort zone, I
will seek the Lord for the courage to step out and trust
with everything I am that He will lead me where He
wants me to go.