Posts Tagged ‘jesus’

Last week someone asked me about the ministry I am involved in, meaning the non profit that I run. I spent the next few minutes telling her everything that I do, trying to make it sound as interesting and full as possible. I found myself getting lost in what I do, and not talking about who I am.

I have been a bit haunted by this over the past three days. It has caused me to really think about who I am as a person. I know what I do, because I do it every day, but what I do is not fully who I am, its just an outward reflection of who Philip Cunningham is.

So who am I? This is what I need to dig deep into again, because when I am no longer doing what I do, I want to still be ok with who I am. The things I know about myself are the basics. I am:

  • A husband
  • A father
  • A follower of Jesus

What I do is connected to these things, but somehow takes on its own identity, an identity that I have tried to promote for the past 25 years as a staff member with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and Steps of Justice. When I write newsletters, I write to communicate to others what is happening in our lives. I also write to seek prayer and communicate the need for continued financial support, as that is how we raise funds. I rarely write about who we are, and so I find myself focussing more on what I do, and missing who I am.

Many of you have been following me for years, and you see what I do, which matters greatly, but here is who I am, outside of all the work I do with refugees, the poor and the vulnerable.

  • I love 80’s hair bands. I don’t buy the music anymore, but when Guns N Roses or AC/DC come on the radio, I turn it up to 11. I also like worship music, specifically old hymns done in new ways.
  • I love laughter and laughing with friends. A good friend is someone who can laugh with you when you are at your worst, helping you focus on the joy of life.
  • I cry easily when someone has a victory, or is unjustly treated.
  • I like making coffee. I like the process, the art and the feeling of turning a brown bean into a tasty drink in my cup.
  • I like exercise, and feeling like I am in control of my fitness.
  • I love getting up early (not sure when this happened, but it wasn’t when I was a teenager).
  • I love road trips.
  • I am a fixer. I am a 2 on Enneagram (the helper). I love helping others and being with others when they are hurting.
  • I am empathetic, and a man of faith. I have always had an extremely strong faith in Jesus, His provision, His word and his protection.
  • I am old, 47 to be exact.
  • I like being different, and not going with the flow. It’s not that I try to be this way, it’s just that trends seem to turn me off, and always have.
  • I like a clean/orderly house. I am slightly OCD about this, sorry Amy and kids.
  • I am anxious and slightly insecure (working on this or sure).
  • I am…

I don’t want to forget who I am, because if I do, one day I will wake up not doing what I do, and not knowing who I am. I want to laugh more, rest more, live more, love more, care more and be less anxious. I want to live the way God made me, and in that, I do the things I do, but also rest in the person that I am.

Last year I read “Kill The Spider” by Carlos Whittaker. I am realizing that the spider I need to kill is the finding my identity in what I do, and not in who I am. This spider is literally taking me down, as it is growing and growing, and I am having to do more and more to find satisfaction in who Phil Cunningham is, and this is not the fullness of life that God promised.

Today is a new day, a day where I get back to who I am. I am not going to change what I do, because it comes out of who I am, but I am no longer going to find my identity in it.

Here we go.

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These past couple of weeks I have been reading The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World by Rosaria Butterfield. I am not pounding through this book, I am just taking my time and soaking it all in. Rosaria is writing about the way that I want to live, but have yet to get the courage up to dive all in. The book is inspiring, as is Rosaria’s story, courage and convictions.

As a YWAM staff, I have been around good hospitality all over the world, but this book is different, it is talking about hospitality to my friends, my neighbors and the stranger. I have also learned a lot about hospitality from my Syrian friends over the past two years. I see the importance of hospitality, bringing people into your home and loving them as a brother or sister.

One of the sections of the book that is sticking with me is where Rosaria talks about being a guest and a host. She talks about how we are never just guests, and we are never just hosts, we need to be both. When we go to a persons house for dinner, as a guest, and there is still work to be done to get the food ready, we become the host, jump in, and help cook. When we go to church, we sit and learn, as guests, and we give our tithes and help with childcare, as hosts. This is such an important life hack for sure.

I recommend picking up this treasure, it will fill you with faith, hope, and love, in a time where our nation is full of doubt, fear and hate.

The Gospel Comes With A House Key- Amazon.

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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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Sitting in the airport waiting to board my flight home. The time is Cambodia was life changing. New friendships were made, lives were changed and there is no turning back. Thanks for your prayers. Here are a few pics from some of the team to show you a bit more of what it was like.

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