Wednesday, April 16, 2014

burnt toast book club: Interrupted: Week 1 {pgs. 13-43}

This is our first week discussing the book Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker. My community group discussed this face to face last night and it was fantastic. Below is the discussion guide we used, so you can take part in the discussion yourself. We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

For me, Jen's story brought back an old memory. I had my own conversation with God about poverty and my love for Him about eight years ago while sitting in my living room reading my Bible, praying.

I had been studying friendship in the Bible, and the thought suddenly struck me that I wasn't a very good friend to God.

Yes, Jesus defined friendship with him as obedience, and I felt I was holding up that end of the bargain pretty well, all things considered. But the truth was that I was happy to think God considered me His friend, caring about me, valuing me relationally, and laughing at my quirks. But I didn't really reciprocate in that way. It was all a little too much about me: how much he loved me, what he wanted me to do, what the Bible said about my life, my destiny, my marriage, etc.

I felt more like a fan of God than a friend of God, and I was annoyed with myself.

I prayed that day and asked God what was on his mind that day. I told him I wanted to be His friend, to pray for the things He cared about, to care with Him.

After a few minutes of quietness, I saw in my mind the earth, and all the poor nations were lit up, glowing in the light of God's concern. He told me to pray for the hungry. And I did.

That was the day I found out how low in the grand scheme of life some of my concerns truly lie. God doesn't care as much about the backed up sink in my house as He does about the millions of starving children in the world. They simply aren't of equal concern to a just and loving God, and they shouldn't be. I have what Mr. Fantastic likes to call "rich people problems", and although God lovingly listens to my prayers and mercifully acts on my behalf, he aches for His those who suffer in poverty.

It's so easy to get distracted by our to-do lists, busy calendars, and pressing problems here in wealthy America, and to forget that we who are free, fed, and comfortable are in the minority.

And if I want to be His friend, I have to ache for them too. In order to ache for them, I need to remember what's important to God.

I am excited to read on, to remind myself about God's deep love of mercy and justice, and His call to take part in setting His people free. Because more than anything, I want to be a good friend to Him.

***For next week: read pages 47-72***

burnt toast book club: Interrupted: Week 1 {pgs. 13-43}

general summary:
Jen Hatmaker walks us through her realization that God wanted more from her than life lived in a faithful incubated church world. She found she was unfulfilled by chasing the American dream of personal prosperity, even though that dream includes a great love for God. Hatmaker presents statistics that reveal the real problem of poverty in the world, as well as scriptures that prove God’s great desire for His people to love justice and mercy for the poor and oppressed.

Excerpts to discuss/ Discussion questions:

“Holy Passion meets Remedial Shepherd”
{from p. 25} “...the verse read, “Jen, do you truly love me more than anything?’ I don’t know how to explain Jesus’ presence- more intense and terrifying and gentle at the exact same time…. Seriously? Do I really love You? Are You serious, Jesus? To be honest, I felt a little insulted, kind of injured. Only because I really love Jesus.”

{from p. 27} “I saw my exact reflection in Peter: devoted but selfish, committed but misguided. And that is not going to be enough. It won’t suffice to claim good intentions…. Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible.”

Have you ever felt insulted by God? If so, are you willing to share about it? How do you make space in our lives for God to press hard on our lives like this? What do we risk if we don’t let God do this in our lives?

“James, Jesus, Amos, and Them”
{p. 30} “for all myself-proclaimed love of God’s Word, what I really loved were the parts that worked for me. For my good. For my blessing.”

How do you generally feel about God’s Word? After you encounter difficult to understand or difficult to live passages, what do you do? 

What are some biblical themes/ teachings that are hard for you right now? How have you been changed by challenging teachings from the Bible? (ie. dying to self, forgiveness, loving your enemies, turning away from sin, discipline, grace)

“Warning: The Problems Are Bad”
On pages 32-34, Hatmaker lists some stats re: poverty and America’s wealth. What were your initial reactions to this global perspective of wealth? Were any of these surprising for you? Will this information change anything for you? If so, what?

“Giving the Good Stats Some Play”
{p. 40} “Alone we can affect a few. Together, we can change the world.”

Do you sponsor a child, go on mission trips, buy products that elevate the poor, or give to any organizations working to alleviate the problem of poverty? Is there a cause that you feel called to support, or an issue that you’d like to take part in championing? 

Feel free to link up to any great causes in the comments. Here are a few that are dear to my own heart:
Ordinary Hero: orphan care and adoption grants
All Girls Allowed: sponsorship of poor mothers and baby girls in China
Casa Vallado: A foster care home/ orphanage in Mexico

***For next week: read pages 47-72***

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