IMG_4168I am sitting in Norway where its cold, dark and far away from my usual American Thanksgiving, yet I am very thankful. There are many things that I could complain about, but that is easy and not very encouraging to anyone. Today on this American Thanksgiving lets commit to be thankful regardless of our circumstances. God knows our needs and he, our heavenly father and provider will meet them.

Here are a few things that have marked my life over the past year:

  • The great community we were a part of with YWAM Kona
  • My family who brought countless times of laughter and joy
  • Amy
  • Travel
  • The early mornings that I was able to sit, drink good coffee, read, pray and reflect
  • The respect the corners Cross fit box in Kona
  • Friends who asked me the hard questions
  • A health marriage
  • Seeing my children smile
  • Opportunities to teach, lead mission trips and facilitate times of learning
  • Coming to Norway to be apart of the Justice DTS
  • Breath
  • Health
  • Music
  • My iPhone 4S (old but keeps on going)
  • Refugees being received and welcomed
  • Freedom
  • Peace
  • Direction
  • Faith
  • The scholarship I received for pursuing my masters degree
  • Support
  • The thanksgiving meal I am going to eat on Saturday.

There are so many things to be thankful for. There are also many things to complain about (legitimate complaints for sure). Today though, lets live in a place of thanksgiving, hope and life.

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adventI wonder if the world has always been as messed up and broken as it is right now or are we just hearing about it more now because of the internet and social media? In my 0pinion, it has always been this messed up and broken, but now we know about it instantly.

This is a gift to us from the Lord. Really, it is. Back before social media and instant news through the internet we would hear about issues of brokenness and injustice during the 5 o clock news or in the next days paper. Now we hear about brokenness less than a minute after it happens.

This, though a gift to us comes with it a huge responsibility, the responsibility to act, to do, to respond. So many times in my life I have looked back and said “oh man, I wish I had of done something about that issue of brokenness and pain.” If I had only known sooner I could have responded. Well guess what, now we do know about it sooner, like right away.

How are we dealing with this as followers of Jesus and advocates for equal and universal human rights? My prayer is that we are dealing with it by responding. There are a few ways we can respond:

  1. Pray
  2. Give
  3. Share
  4. Go

We should at lease be doing one of these things every time we hear about the brokenness in our world. In the past month there have been many ways to respond, unfortunately. There has been:

  1. Refugees coming over from Syria
  2. Mass killing in Paris, Lebanon and Nigeria
  3. ISIS

We need to respond. lets never look back with regret saying “I wish I had done something more.” It only takes a few seconds to pray, a few minutes to share and a few dollars to go. Lets do something.

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ReCreateI like coffee, I like good chocolate, I like soft t-shirts and I like justice. I also work for a non profit organization and raise all my own support, so I am very conscience about money and what I spend it on. We all live by faith, faith that we won’t lose our jobs, faith that our jobs will still be there tomorrow, faith that (I’m my situation) my supporters will no lose their jobs so that support continues to come in. As a result of this, I used to spend minimal dollars on things that I need/want, like chocolate, coffee and soft t-shirts.

Lets go back to the first sentence where I wrote ‘I like justice.’ Justice is a right relationship between God, man and creation. Justice is giving that which is due, injustice is the abuse of that. When I purchase goods at the cheapest price there is a good chance I am not giving that which is due, but actually doing an injustice. When I purchase something that is fair or direct trade then I am (to the best of my knowledge) giving that which is due and doing justice.

I used buy the cheapest things, and sometimes still do. To be brutally honest I am hesitant to spend a lot of money because I am cheap. I live in the space that if I  buy the cheaper brand I am being a good steward of the money I receive, when in reality I am actively living in a way that I hate, unjust.

I have been challenged lately with my view of God as father and provider. Does God care about justice? Yes. Does God want me to do justice? Yes. Is God a provider? Yes. So if God cares about justice, if God wants me to do justice and if God is a provider then why in the H would I purchasing the cheap goods at the risk of doing injustice? I should be purchasing goods that are ethically made, pay a living wage and provide jobs and life for the farmer growing the coffee, cotton and cocoa that I buy?

Do I have enough faith that God will provide for me if I spend more money on items that I know are giving life to others? This is my hope and prayer. I have faith in a God who does justice, yet I struggle with the thought of “can I buy this as I am not sure how much money I will have next month.” I am not talking about consumerism here, I am talking about using our money to give life to others and in turn meet a desire that I have.

Finally (for now) buying ethically made goods taste better, last longer and make you feel better about yourself in the long run, which is all around a beautiful thing.

Check out a few places doing great things:

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Cambodia_SoJ_Aug2013_2-36I have been leading short term trips for the past 20 years. I have brought teams to Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, Cambodia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Seattle, San Francisco, China, Korea and the Philippines. Even though all of these trips were short term trips and even though I work with a short term mission organization called YWAM, I don’t believe in short term missions.

Let me explain. I believe in short term mission trips. They are effective, they are life changing and they are worth every penny (if done right). This is very different than short term missions. The concept of short term missions is that I only do missions short term. It says that sometimes we preach the gospel, sometimes we go on trips and sometimes we don’t do anything. There is no where in the scriptures that commands us to into all the world on a short term basis and preach the good news at certain times and in certain seasons. In fact, the scripture says in Timothy that we are to be prepared in season and out of season.

This summer we are bringing people to Cambodia on our Matthew 25 trips. These trips are one step that we can take as we live our lives on mission, it is an introduction to mission for some, and a refresher for others. This trip is set out to show us how we can live life as missionaries in all circumstances and situations. The call on all followers of Jesus is to live life on Mission. This call has no end, it is a call on all of our lives  weather or not we are stay at home parents, students, career workers or full time/long term paid/supported pastors or missionaries.

The reason Steps of Justice exists is to provide practical ways that you and I can live on mission, the mission to Love God and Love others. We are called to to this regardless of what we do as our full time work. It all starts with one step, and maybe for you that step is coming over to Cambodia with us this summer.

Written by me.

Picture by Lindsey Brunsman

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justiceThe last thing Jesus said before going back to the father is found in Mark 16:15-18. “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

What is the gospel that Jesus speaks of in March 16:15? Other versions translate this word ‘gospel’ to say ‘good news.’ The good news of the Kingdom is that Jesus came so that we could have life and life abundant. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not just in the afterlife, but life hear and now. The Kingdom of God is upon us, which means the ‘Gospel’ is fullness of life which comes from Jesus life, death and resurrection.

Jesus spent his live doing two things very well:

  1. Loving God
  2. Loving Others

Everything Jesus did came out of these two commands. How did He love others and how did He call us to love others? Here are a few examples:

In Matthew 25 Jesus says that those who served the least of these were serving Him and those that denied the least of these denied Him. Those who denied the least of these spent eternity separated from Jesus. This is a strong word. Jesus is basically saying that if you call yourself His disciple you will love others out of your love for Him, this should be the natural fruit that comes out of being rooted in Jesus.

This in short is why I believe strongly in social justice, because it is following in the example of Jesus. It is not just getting people into Heaven and it is not just meeting peoples needs here on earth, it really is both and. I am not into helping people out of my own compassion, I am into helping people out of my faith, love and commitment to Jesus Christ, this is why we ‘do justice.’

A book that I am currently reading helps a lot in why we ‘do justice’ and what that looks like. Check out Rethinking Social Justice here.

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