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Disturbing the comfortable & comforting the disturbed.

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

Sunday's Takeaway - Shame On You

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

I heard a great message yesterday morning. I will summarize my take away.

Like many who grow up in a religious context, guilt and shame are part of the package. They are used to motivate, control, prescribe and separate. Even though they come from the desire for right living, they are the wrong motive. We often feel that making someone feel less about themselves will somehow give them a desire to act better.

I learned yesterday that guilt = “I did something bad” and shame = “therefore I AM bad.” And even though shame is often part of religious culture, it has nothing to do with God. Of course I am guilty when I do something I shouldn’t but the unbelievable truth is that God doesn’t think any less of me.

Get a load of this…

The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
    nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
    he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
    is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:8–13 (NLT)

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2014 in review

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

When we give our hard-earned money to someone, we usually expect something in return. Whether the return is tangible or intangible, we exchange something of value for something else we value. We do this every day, whether we are picking up groceries or making larger investments; but do we think this way when we make a gift? What is it that you get when you give?

I believe it’s legitimate to ask this same question when you partner with organizations like HFL. And, we want you to know that what you get when you partner with us is changed lives...that’s our bottom line. HFL addresses spiritual and physical poverty around the world—and so, what you get when you partner with us is spiritual and physical life. Your gifts have kept us busy.
Your gifts have enabled more children to go to school, provided clean water for communities and food for those who are hungry, and enabled healing for the sick and the provision of tangible care for orphans and widows. Your gifts have served to equip hundreds of volunteers to spend themselves in many developing countries; this results in changing their own lives as much as much they change others.

However, much more important than keeping us busy, your gifts have changed lives. Thank you for letting us help you have impact; an impact that points people to the love of Jesus.

With immense thanks,
Dave Blundell
Executive Director

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Whichever of you has never sinned...

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

I read John 8 today. Wow.

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:2-11 (NIV)

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Photocopy Jesus

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

It doesn’t matter where I go and in what complex situation I have found myself over the years and around the world…

  • hunger
  • conflict
  • poverty
  • sickness
  • brokenness
  • loneliness
  • death
  • need for resources
  • need for people
  • need for purpose
  • need for compassion & empathy
  • the absence of leadership
  • the need for wisdom
  • the need for humility
  • the need to know what to do and say

… the answer, in every single case, is the same.

Every single one of these (and any other need) is addressed when I become like Jesus. When I have one goal… and one purpose… and one mission… All else is taken care of. It may not be easy but life is really not complicated. To all that life presents as broken or need-ridden, there is nothing that is not addressed by people who take literally the mission to be like Jesus.

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Proof of our Faith

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

“… lead a life worthy of your calling. For you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults, because of your love. Make every effort to make yourselves united in the Spirit…”

Ephesians 4:1–3

Think about every relationship you have for a minute.

Are you always humble and gentle? Do you make allowance for their faults? A pretty tall calling? Not my words. Being always humble and gentle is a life worthy of our calling. Let’s not make any excuses with talk of personality difference. The more like Jesus I am, the more patient I will be, making allowance for the faults of others.

Do I get easily pissy with people? Am I quick tempered? Am I always complaining about the weaknesses or mistakes of others? Do I feel constantly “let down” by others? Am I short with my family? Do I say things to make people look small (Just Joking!) so that I can look big? Do I project an image of prideful togetherness that you want as the standard for everyone?

If this describes me… or could be attributed to me… or defines my general countenance… what do I do with that in light of “always be humble and gentle… making allowance for each other’s faults”? If it does… I need some serious face time with Jesus until it doesn't.

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Beaten Up?

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

I really don’t like these two passages from 2 Corinthians. Yes I want the effect, but no I don’t want the cause.

“God is our Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. The more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

2 Corinthians 1:3–5

So… the only way to experience the richness of comfort is to suffer?

“We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.”

2 Corinthians 1:8,9

So… the only way to stop relying on myself and learn to rely on a God (who raises the dead) is to be crushed and overwhelmed beyond my ability to endure? How much really do I want to experience and know Him?

There is obviously something miraculous and world changing that we have the opportunity to find at the end of ourselves. When our own strength ends, we find His. But the process of finding the end of ourselves is painful. It is often after times of great drought, that I look back and see they were times of incredible spiritual wealth.

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A preacher with a prostitute

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 1 minute read

God’s grace and love never reaches a human-like limit. The depth of His compassion is always deeper than my depravity. The expanse of His faithfulness always has more reach than my faithlessness. His patience with my failings far exceeds any understanding of love I can fathom.

Hosea’s message of a preacher with a prostitute explodes any semblance of religious propriety I have ever known. God instructs this preacher to marry a prostitute so that He could illustrate an unfathomable love and passion for His people. Hosea takes her as his wife, full-well knowing that she would break his heart… over and over again. And each time his love is rejected for a cheap substitute, the chase is on. Hosea determines to woo her back to what is eternal and real, only to have her leave again. What a painfully awe-inspiring illustration of unconditional love.

At the end of the book God lays out the point of His pain.

I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.

Hosea 14:4 (NLT)

I don’t understand why I am so worth His love; but I am compelled to live my life to show how much His love is worth.

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Big Babies

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 3 minute read

When it comes to the demonstration of extreme grace, kindness and understanding, “Christians” aren’t much better at it than the rest of the world. 

I absolutely love watching little kids. I love the look of wonder and amazement when they see the Christmas tree lights come on. I love the look of pride and accomplishment when they put two lego blocks together. I love the look of joy when they kick a soccer ball… in any direction. I love the look on their faces when they feel like they are priceless. I love the look of vulnerability and dependence when they instinctively need the care of a parent. I love watching their arms go up when they need to be held. I love the look of innocence when they think they might be in trouble. I love the look value on the face of a little kid that gets to play with the big kids. There is something about little kids that draw out the best in almost everyone.

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How God shows up

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 2 minute read

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”

John 15:5-8 (Msg)

For those who have any desire to make an impact for the Kingdom while they are in this world, John 15 couldn’t be more paramount.

I have been to my share of conferences about how to be effective in ministry. I’ve read my share of books that propose how to grow organizations. I have attended my share of seminars and courses that talk about how to have an ever-increasing impact. All all of these have been valuable.

However, these four verses, if lived out, is what will cause us to have the greatest possible impact. 

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Anyway

Thoughts by Dave Blundell – 1 minute read

I love the Paradoxical Commandments by Kent Keith:

  • People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
  • If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway.
  • If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.
  • What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway.
  • If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway.
  • Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway.
  • You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

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