Disturbing the comfortable & comforting the disturbed.

Staff thoughts and life lessons about poverty, injustice, leadership, religion and other social issues in the world today.

Never Enough

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

Are you ever overwhelmed by the unrelenting and exhausting feeling that it’s never enough?

And by “it," I mean everything. It seems that in almost every area of our lives, I need to be doing more of something. The list feels endless. 

I should exercise more. I need to get to those unfinished projects in the house. I should spend more time with the kids. I should be spending more time with my spouse. I should visit my grandparents more. I really should be connecting with extended family more. I should take baking to the neighbors. I should read that book that my friend recommended to me last year. I should get together with those friends who are hurting. I should really go to the hospital to visit my uncle. I should be making more money. I should call that person back and respond to a bunch of emails. We should have those friends over.

Then you add the spiritual to the list and the weight of guilt can be even more heavy.

I should pray more. I should give more. I should be reading my bible more. I should sign up to serve in a program. I should go to church more. I should be in a small group. I should be doing more outreach. I should share my faith more. 

Our society honors people who are busy. We value those who can do more. We measure people by their accomplishments and we motivate with guilt and obligation.

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Does God exist for you?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

Does God exist for you or do you exist for Him?

I don’t think there is a more critical question for us to answer. The way you answer orients the direction of your life and also sets foundational expectations upon which you will evaluate the quality of your life. Our secular culture has convinced us that our life is only about us, and that happiness comes from a greater focus on self, which has actually led us to greater emptiness.

Our self-obsessed western culture has dramatically affected how we answer the question. We think the world revolves around us. Individual rights have become the paramount value in our society. The default purpose of life is my happiness and my comfort…and nothing should get in the way of that.

And, even worse, spiritual people carry that same value into our spirituality. We think and act and pray like it’s God’s job to exist for our own wellbeing. He exists to make my life better, less painful, and more comfortable.

We treat the God of the universe like He is our personal assistant.

We think the best way to represent God is when our lives are healthy, prosperous and all-together. Not only is this incredibly unbiblical…it’s an insult to the millions of God’s people around the world who suffer daily and who still choose to constantly worship Him.

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Freedom From Religion

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

I desperately want to be freed from religion. I grew up religious; I trained for a religious career; I’ve traveled and been exposed to most of the world’s major religions. I’m done.

I have never been more finished with religion than I am today, and I have never been more in love with Christ either. I like how Paul said it. “I consider all my religious background as animal poop compared to the greatness of knowing Jesus.”

Phil 3, Paraphrase

By religion…I am referring to any system of belief that compels people to please a deity with rules, rituals, systems, and moral behavior. Religion is all concerned with the way we behave. It is rooted in the concept that God is good, we are not, and we need to act better. Religion is like a heavy backpack we wear that constantly reminds us we are not good enough, and we never do enough. And, it seems the more devoutly religious we are, the more we need to obsess on what we should be doing less of and more of.

Jesus came to show us the futility of religion and to free people from it. He came to end a religion that had become behavior focused. So many think that Christianity, or most religions, is about a behavior improvement process. The truth is that, because of grace, God actually changes our very nature. Grace and mercy don't mean that God tolerates our sin, it means that God completely removes our sin: past, present, and future.

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2015 Annual Update

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

We all want to have an impact. We all want our lives to have meaning and to make a difference. That desire in all of us is the image of a giving God living through us in a world that is desperate for His love. The reason you are receiving this is because you have made a difference, you have had an impact. Thank you for giving, or going, or in some way partnering with us in our vision—to see a world transformed by a global movement of compassion and justice, evidenced by the eradication of needless suffering.

As you thumb through this newsletter, know that these are just samples of transformation and impact. This newsletter isn’t to just report on charitable activity (it is easy to be busy and still not have an impact). Our prayer is that after you read through, you will be left with a deep sense of awe in what God has done in the lives of people He has placed on our path. Where there is spiritual apathy, we envision spiritual vibrancy. Where there is extreme physical suffering, we envision human flourishing. We are all about moving people toward life.

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Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

Is being altogether loving mutually exclusive of black and white? In today’s climate of moral relativism and faith-based reverse discrimination, isn’t it possible someone can be both full of Christ-like love AND convinced of the reality of a right and wrong? Can we love completely and still say, “You’re wrong.”?

I am tired of being misrepresented by narrow-minded, politically right, evangelical figures who have somehow figured out how to get an audience on a regular basis.

Their speech is full of “us and them” rhetoric I can’t see anywhere in scripture. They often use Bible proof-texting to justify their version of the “Christian life” and our need to go and make the rest of the world “like us”. Unfortunately, the media gives these people way more airtime than they deserve. They are embarrassing, and they make me want to drop my labels.  

But I am also tired of being misrepresented by equally narrow-minded, politically left, popular figures who claim I am phobic or hateful because I don’t agree with them. These leaders also get lots of airtime and have created a reverse discrimination and phobia towards the modern version of “Christianity”. And while I can honestly sympathize with how this “angry attitude” formed toward faith, it is childish to rant and lash out blanketing everyone who says they follow Christ.

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Leadership Pain — Book Review

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

As a leader, I was incredibly drawn to the title of this book. What leader doesn’t experience pain? At first, I thought the book was going to have a masochistic message. I was expecting, “Every leader experiences pain. Jesus did. So suck it up and keep serving.” I was wrong. Having read my share of leadership books, Leadership Pain is definitely among the most helpful books I’ve read that speaks to a leader’s soul. It’s a book that should be required reading for any leadership training or preparation.

Leadership Pain is both challenging and shepherding to leaders. Specifically, I really liked how Samuel Chand started each chapter with a testimony of leaders who have experienced pain. I also really loved how each chapter ended with a summary, suggestions on how to take the thoughts deeper and with a reminder of the main premise of the book: “you’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.”

I appreciated Chand’s tone in this book. He validates and identifies with leaders in their pain, but he also brings hope and meaning in the pain. Here is an example of why the book is so needed in our North American culture of Christian leadership.

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Are we Christ-like or just nice?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

It's never been more clear to me lately that the only way people will want to come and have a relationship with Jesus is when they see him in our lives. Yes…there will be a few that come because of tragedy, signs and wonders. But the only reason the rest would ever want anything to do with Jesus is if they are attracted to him; when they see him in us. I realize that isn't a new or profound thought. Probably every follower of Jesus would agree with me.

However, I don't think we realize the extent to which we would need to love and demonstrate compassion in order to present the attraction to Jesus. I don't think most followers of Jesus are ready or willing to die to self, lay down our time and resources, truly empathize, or seek to understand people so that we can show the kind of compassion that makes people see Jesus and not just a nice version of us.

I have had the opportunity lately to know a really great group of primarily non-religious people. They are kind, helpful, understanding, caring, and happy, just like many believing people I know. In fact, the only significant difference between these two groups of people is not in their lives but in their schedules. The later attend some sort of religious gathering on a semi-regular basis. That's about it.

When I think of the difference between "nice" and "like Jesus" I am overwhelmed by the gap between the two in my life. The gap that's evident when I read 1 Corinthians 13.

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Why is your missions comittee so frustrating?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

Having worked in a church, and now from working with hundreds of churches in global mobilization, it’s often the very group of people who are supposed to champion missions who become the obstacle.

Missions committees are those things in churches we seem to need but don’t really know why they are there or what specifically they are supposed to accomplish.

The idea of a missions committee dates back to the days of missions conferences in churches. Their responsibility was to put on those week long conferences to raise the missions awareness. They put out the flags, arranged the schedule for the visiting missionary, and set up the missions banquet. Now most churches have done away with the traditional missions conference, so we needed a new job for the missions committee.

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When not helping hurts more

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

I have been part of the international relief and development community and discussion for about 13 years now. And for all of the right reasons, there has never been such a huge discussion and focus placed on not doing harm when we are trying to help the poor. All the buzz words right now have tipped the scales toward considering “best practice” to maximize our aid effectiveness.

You can find countless books, articles, and conferences all pontificating about sustainability, dependency, asset based development, local participatory considerations, aid effectiveness, not hurting when we help, not sending western volunteers and there are many good thoughts in all of this thinking. I advocate for many of the same considerations.

I think there is a huge however to all of this that I’m not hearing anyone say.

While we sit around and conference about how not to screw up our help, there were 24,000 children that died today because they didn’t have a bowl of rice, or a cup of clean water, or $5 for anti-malarial medications, or $10 for a hospital visit to stop an infection.

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I’m flawless?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

Apparently I am, and that is the gospel. The gospel is not only that I’m going to heaven. (And, doubtless, it is good that I am spending eternity with God as a result of the gospel.) But, for the here and now, the Good News is that because of the cross, I’m flawless.

I grew up with this notion that, while I was saved by grace, I had to behave right and religious in order to keep God pleased with me.

I learned that if I behaved right, I was blessed with His presence in my life. And if I sinned, He was displeased and would withdraw His presence from me. I knew that my good works didn’t save me, but I was taught that I had to keep my salvation by doing a list of things and not doing a list of other things.

Apparently not.

Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

Galatians 3:2–3 NLT

My sin no longer separates me from God, because in Romans 8 nothing in all creation separates me from God. If that is true, then I can’t separate myself from God. We have bought into the idea that Christianity is all about behavior modification.

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