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Toxic Charity Book Review–thank you Metanoia (Bill Stanfield)

05/05/2012 Comments off

This is the a rare review without an assignment from a publisher, this book was referred to me by Bill Stanfield of Metanoia, who is DOING (James 1:22 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F59001022(ESV) what this book talks about, I was referred to him through numerous non-believers in the Charleston area that are struck by what he is accomplishing (1 Timothy 3:7 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F54003007(ESV), and good book referrals are an evidence of God’s grace in a world of 140 characters of less.  Thank you Bill!

I heard someone say, we are so busy with our meetings, service projects, outreaches, and programs that believers cannot ever truly make an impact with their neighbor.  A few years ago I was convicted through reading When Helping Hurts, that there is something wrong with the way ‘ministry’, ‘charity’ or ‘benevolence’ work is done.  What I have realized since then, is that good intentioned believers may read a work like this (Toxic Charity or WHH) and like my years with trying to engage other believers with the presupposition of true biblical counseling, the eyes are opened for a short while, but later with the pressures of ministry, congregations, and depravity, it is back to the way we are used to doing it.  Back to the ‘Christian’ programs, back to the ‘Christian’ food banks, back to the short, quick fix, did-my-good-deed-check-my-box without a commitment.

Although TC is not as saturated with scripture as WHH and tends to be a little more caustic, it is still a new book in my arsenal of removing the haze from their eyes when it comes to rethinking making an impact with others.  This book was interesting to me, it challenged me, and enlightened me, that this topic is not going away.  Other believers are trying to wake up Christians as well, and it appears that maybe a few are listening? I think the thing that strikes me the most about these works is that many of the foundational principles are already in effect because of common grace, but in many instances, non-believers are convicted, apply, and see the implications better than routine believers.

What do I mean?  I think quotes will help with that;

Dependency.  Destroying personal initiative.  When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them. (3)

Our memory is short when recovery is long.  We respond with immediacy to desperate circumstances but often are unable to shift from crisis relief  to the more complex work of long-term development. (6)

Everywhere I looked, I observed the same patterns, from overseas church mission trips to the inner-city service projects of campus organizations.  Wherever there was sustained one-way giving, unwholesome dynamics and pathologies festered under the cover of kindheartedness. (35)

Churches want their members to feel good about serving the poor, but no one really wants to become involved in messy relationships. (57)

Relationships built on need tend to be short-lived. (60)

The local church is an institution with institutional needs.  It is important to understand this.  It begins with an informal group of like-minded people who come together for fellowship and worship, it evolves into structured organization with budgets and staff and buildings, and finally it matures into an enduring institution.  It functions like all other institutions—with stated mission and an intrinsic motivation to preserve and protect its own interests.  The lion’s share of church budgets are spent on meeting the needs of the congregation, not for the needs of the outside communities.  To earmark mission-trip expenditures as primarily for spiritual benefit of members would be in keeping with traditional church budgeting.  It is important to understand this so that we will not be disappointed by unrealistic expectations. (70)

And the number of church members volunteering in outreach programs measures only activity, not outcomes.  (76)

When leadership is committed to outcomes rather than activity, to measureable results rather than budget size or number of engaged members, changes in mission focus can be navigated with an acceptable level of disruption. (78)

For disadvantaged people to flourish into their full, God-give potential, they must leave behind dependencies that impede their growth.  Initiatives that thwart their development, though right motivated, must be restructured to reinforce self-sufficiency if they are to become agents of lasting and positive change. (102)

Experienced microlending organizations have identified three essential elements for successful microloans:  The borrower must have (1) an ingrained work ethic, (2) a demonstrated entrepreneurial instinct, and (3) a stable support system. (120)

Is your church engaged in community development ministry?  All answered in the affirmative.  But when asked to name their target neighborhood and there transformative goals, none was able to give a definitive answer.  All were in engaged in community service of various sorts, but none were focused on transforming a specific community. (133)

What is required to transform a deteriorating neighborhood is a geographically focused vision with measurable goals over extended time. (133)

In short, become an expert in your community.  Immerse yourselves in every aspect of community life.  Volunteer as appropriate, but make no long-term commitments.  Be interested, supportive neighbor for at least six months before attempting to initiate any new activity. (160)

Is there a way we can bring more human dignity to the process of exchange rather than simply using one-way giving?

Can we increase our personal involvement with those in crisis to assist them with housing, day care, or other support while they get back on their feet? (182)

Robert Lupton (author) does make you think about your activities with charity.  The material was well laid out, held my attention (lots of great application stuff in it as well), and the information was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner.  I think more scripture, possibly from a creation, fall, redemption and consummation perspective might bring some more convicting applications, but also driving home implications of what is being suggested.  I would highly recommend this book to ANYONE (believers and non-believers)

076205: Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
By Robert D. Lupton / Harpercollins Publishing

Public service is a way of life for Americans; giving is a part of our national character. But compassionate instincts and generous spirits aren’t enough, says veteran urban activist Robert D. Lupton. In this groundbreaking guide, he reveals the disturbing truth about charity: all too much of it has become toxic, devastating to the very people it’s meant to help.

In his four decades of urban ministry, Lupton has experienced firsthand how our good intentions can have unintended, dire consequences. Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, battering the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environment. We fly off on mission trips to poverty-stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaways-trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in "turning my people into beggars."

In Toxic Charity, Lupton urges individuals, churches, and organizations to step away from these spontaneous, often destructive acts of compassion toward thoughtful paths to community development. He delivers proven strategies for moving from toxic charity to transformative charity.

Proposing a powerful "Oath for Compassionate Service" and spotlighting real-life examples of people serving not just with their hearts but with proven strategies and tested tactics, Lupton offers all the tools and inspiration we need to develop healthy, community-driven programs that produce deep, measurable, and lasting change. Everyone who volunteers or donates to charity needs to wrestle with this book.

Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus by Ruth Rosen

27/03/2012 Comments off

Thank you Thomas Nelson for the humbling opportunity to review this work.

What if your child took a birds eye view of your life and wrote it down, what would it look like?  Ruth Rosen takes this task to heart as we read the biography of Moishe Rosen, the illustrious leader of Jews for Jesus.  What makes this biography unique is that it from the eyes of a family member who continues in the ministry her father started.  Her meticulous research and thoughtful commentaries on the events she covers also bring touching insight that I thought complimented the work well.

Why is it titled, “Called to Controversy?”  Ruth states that she puts some data to some controversial items in the history of her fathers starting of the JJ ministry that is not elsewhere.  Honestly, I was unaware of those controversies, and was more interested in the perception of Ruth of her father and the JJ movement so I probably missed whatever ‘controversies’ were addressed.

I was struck by this book many times and in sharing some quotes, I think you will see why;

Don’t let yourself become a desk jockey.  People spend too much time sitting at their desks.  You can’t witness on your seat; you gotta use your feet.  This made perfect sense to Moishe, and he never forgot the admonition.  Later, when it was his turn to supervise field missionaries, it was one of his guiding principles.

A lot of my principles came as counter measures to bad experiences.

But after the move, even though she was happy to entertain guests, she loved having a home life that was distinct from her husband’s work (this was a convicting reminder for me to remember my wife wanting some piece and quite from time to time).

I saw in Moishe a person with a biblically tough-minded reality about him that I did not often see in other in the ministry.  From the start, one of Moishe’s gifts was his ability to encourage others to exercise their own gifts.  Part of that encouragement was his genuine appreciation for what others could do.  (I was struck that his daughter saw this character quality in him and it touched me deeply in light of my own struggles with my daughter seeing reality.)

Dad’s insistence on the apology made us feel important; the incident stands out as a reminder of how Dad respected us and cared for our feelings. (An instance in which Ruth was wrongly accused of something and Moishe respectfully and firmly executed mediating the offending party to make things right)

What I learned about volunteers was, first, you had to give more of yourself to them.  And second, they were highly motivated – often more motivated than professionals.

The caveat, I guess I should have a higher view of it (Christian counseling) might be best interpreted as Moishe’s recognition that some Christian counselors genuinely help their clients.  But he felt that the proliferation of counseling degrees rather than theological degrees from Bible scholars and seminaries was not healthy, and that the potential for damage in the field was very high.

Moishe taught by example, and that included how to give an honest and meaningful apology, a skill that, while often overlooked, truly is a measure of greatness.

I found this book very interesting, as it challenged me with wanting to invest more in relationships than evangelism for the sake of evangelism  It inspired me by giving me hope that family does and will see the truth regarding good character, integrity, and doing the right thing.  It enlightened me by giving me hope that maybe my own daughter some day will see past the lies she was told do some investigating on her own.  I also liked how Ruth made me think throughout the book as she related her father’s thought processes, and reasoning’s for doing things, and especially conviction when doing right things. 

Ruth held my attention and the story held my attention as I was always looking to read more of her perspective of her father and his ministry.  I was also struck by the appendices in that Ruth shared a gospel presentation by her father and it really (for me) tied the whole book together in that, the purpose of his life (and ours) is to share the good news of Christ, and if she saw that through his life, so much that she continues with JJ today, wow… It was interesting to also find out that Moishe was part of the Council of Biblical Inerrancy with many other heavy hitters (“Moishe felt strongly that no group should outlive its usefulness.  He was immensely pleased that the ICBI chose to disband in 1988, satisfied that they had completed their task by clearly defining and bringing public attention to the issue of inerrancy.” 

I highly recommend this work to anyone interested in a biography, evangelism, character, integrity, and leaving a legacy.  May it inspire you as it did me.

554918: Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus Called to Controversy: The Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus
By Ruth Rosen / Thomas Nelson

* Why did Moishe Rosen, a Jewish man raised in an Orthodox home, become the founder of Jews for Jesus? Showing how her father challenged the status quo for Jews and Christians alike, Rosen offers a comprehensive look at Moishe’s life, revealing the personality traits, principles, struggles, and successes that made him a controversial figure. 320 pages, hardcover from Nelson.

Worship: The Ultimate Priority–John MacArthur Revised Audiobook

08/03/2012 Comments off

Of course, this review was not possible without the generous investment in me by the christianaudio Reviewers Program.  Thank you.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For He is our God,
and we are the people of His pasture,
and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you hear His voice,

If your desire is to listen to His voice; He knows us, and we get to follow Him. He gives us eternal life, and we shall never perish; as no one can snatch us out of His hand.  John MacArthur reminds us in the newly revised edition of classic work that Worship is the ultimate priority.

I remember my first Shepherds Conference and the sessions on Worship.  I was again struck with this audiobook of the great disciple of Christ that continues to be an evidence of God’s grace through John’s investment in the Body of Christ.  The two new chapters and the revisions in the foundational work are truly saturated as always, in scripture.  The Bible is the final authority of this work.  John guides us into understanding God’s perspective on the spectrum of our current ‘worship services’ to a Pink-like attributes of God systematic theology.

The audiobook was very interesting to me as it challenged me, inspired me, and enlightened me on how selfish I am in my interactions with God.  John has continued for fifteen years of my walk to exhort me to meditate and focus my life on the Living Word of God.  John keeps me focused on God and Scripture and the narrator’s voice was an excellent compliment to this work.  The book was obviously presented in John’s classic style of cohesiveness and appealing manner while not compromising solid Biblical Truth.  I would recommend this book for general audiences of all kinds, as most of it is Scripture – timeless and multi-generational.

402158: Worship: The Ultimate Priority Worship: The Ultimate Priority
By John MacArthur / Moody Publishers* How can we best glorify God? By making worship a priority! Taking you beyond church walls into the recesses of your heart, MacArthur explores the attributes of God, the right and wrong ways to worship him, and ideas on how to honor him in our daily lives. This revised edition includes two new chapters.
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