Restoring All Things: God's Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People - eBookWarren Cole Smith, John StonestreetBaker Books / 2015 / ePub$9.60 Retail:5 Stars Out Of 5 3 Reviews
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bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Every Christian ministering to a broken worldMay 30, 2015bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5We Christians might view the world as only evil and harmful. Safety from the world might be our goal. Separating from the world is seen as good Christian faithfulness.
The authors want to see that focus change. They argue that we are to see the world as loved by God. Though broken, God invites us to live in it redemptively, to be ambassadors of reconciliation. We are to be a part of the work of God to restore all things. That's what this book is about.
Christians are encouraged to influence their communities by providing real services and engaging people. The strategy the authors employ is to identify what is good in the world that we can celebrate, what is missing in the culture that we can contribute, what is evil in the world that we can stop, and what is broken that we can restore.
The authors give many stories of grassroots efforts that confronted local needs and made a significant difference. They also investigate the biblical mandates. The topics they cover include poverty, capitalism, abortion, exploited women, education, the criminal system, race, higher education, sexual identity, suffering, marriage, adoption, and art.
The authors hope that the stories will inspire us to join in God's work so that the world will again become familiar with the redemptive work of Christ and be drawn to Him. At the end of every chapter, they include suggested actions to become part of God's restorative work.
The stories the authors include are very inspiring. They range from large corporate influence to work individual Christians and small groups accomplish. The authors encourage us to look at our gifts, abilities and passions and then identify the cultural area of brokenness that needs what we have. However we might think to serve our community, there is a story that inspires us to get at it and be faithful to God's work.
This book would be a great choice for an all church reads kind of event. At the least, this book should be read by church leaders, administrators, small group leaders, pastors, well, just about anyone who cares about the cultural influence of Christians today. The book is very encouraging in pointing out that there are Christians doing a wonderful job of serving the needs in their community, introducing people to the redemptive work of Jesus. It is also an inspiration, identifying areas of cultural brokenness and then giving reasonable suggestions as to how we can become ambassadors of God's redemptive work.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Fire BearersMay 27, 2015Michele MorinWarren, MaineAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Archaeologists have unearthed a tale to delight the heart of every conservative in America, and to answer the question posed by Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet in Restoring All Things. How can the church act in ways that are restorative and life-giving without being reactionary? The story is set in Ephesus, seat of Artemis worship and home to the temple which housed the perpetual fire for their worship. Now, it happened that the priests, keepers of that fire, were essentially the utility monopoly of Ephesus, for they made it known far and wide that obtaining ones fire elsewhere was an affront to the gods. Evidence now reveals that members of the early church in Ephesus would freely share their fire with the needy, simultaneously providing life-saving fire to the poor, contributing to the demise of Artemis worship, undermining the pagan temples source of revenue, and ending their tyranny over the people of Ephesus. The point of the story is that these first-century Christians accomplished all this without benefit of political representation, legislation, or so much as a single demonstration outside the temple. Bearing fire was an act of kindness , a militant compassion that met a need and effected change in the process.
In chronicling Gods Audacious Plan to Change the World through Everyday People, the authors skimmed the cream from thousands of stories from the archives of BreakPoint and World Magazine, both of which exist to answer the universal questions: Whats wrong with the world? What can make it right? How can I be part of making it right? Each of the stories demonstrates with boots on the ground practicality how twenty-first century Christians can serve as fire-bearers, carrying the message of reconciliation, redemption, restoration, renewal, and resurrection, because all those re words from the Bible are gifts from God to our fallen world. The authors skillfully demonstrate that Christianity is the only worldview with the moral and philosophical resources necessary to:
1.Provide a basis for outrage over evil. If there is no ultimate authority, who gets to decide whats wrong?
2.Support a level of forgiveness that leads to healing and reconciliation.
3.Offer a more robust understanding of identity than what is offered by a culture that seeks to devalue life.
4.Bring meaning, significance, and value to life in the womb and life characterized by disability and suffering.
5.Fuse artistic expression with bedrock concepts of truth and beauty . . . redemption and healing.
6.Restore dignity and worth to those in poverty through meaningful work, because the poor matter to God, and work reflects His glory.
7.Integrate worship on Sunday with ones 9 to 5, Monday to Friday occupation, since both are a means of participation in Gods restoration of all things to Himself.
8.View all of humanity with respect (regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation) as image-bearers of God.
9.Address the why of education in meaningful ways that exalt the life of the mind as we fulfill our chief end: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
Practical expressions of faith are a powerful apologetic, and Restoring All Things translates a theology of redemption into meaningful steps that any believer can tackle. Many items from the To-Do Lists at the end of each chapter have found their way onto my to-do list for my family. For example, I want to watch Shark Tank with my kids to encourage their already blossoming entrepreneurial spirit. I want to read several of the books the authors recommend. I want to continue to invite those on the fringes into the circle of warmth and acceptance available in Christ-centered community.
Restoring All Things is a call to the classic understanding of vocation which is masterfully defined by Frederick Buechner:
The place where your deep gladness and the worlds deep hunger meet.
One persons deep gladness can transform a family or a faith community into an army of fire bearers.
Let the restoration begin!
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.
Sufficient in JesusAge: 18-24Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Doing good, one opportunity at a time.May 9, 2015Sufficient in JesusAge: 18-24Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5The first few lines of the introduction let you know you're in for something interesting. Why, the authors ask, is God so into 're' words, such as resurrection, restoration, and redemption? What does this tell us about God's heart, that these are the ways He relates to His creation?
When we Christians look at the culture/geopolitical landscape, do we adopt a different set of "re" words?
Do we tend towards reaction, rejection, and resistance? Could we take a page from God's book and replace those negative concepts with something like renewal, revival, and reconciliation? And wouldn't that make our witness clearer and our efforts more fruitful?
This book starts off by asking some worldview questions, and they're foundational.
What is the world? (Accident, Illusion, or Creation?)
And what are we? (Images of God with a responsibility to fellow man, or chance arrivals in a chaotic galaxy?)
And what we we to do with the world? (Do we have a role, do we have a purpose, can we make a difference, is it worth trying?)
The heart of this book is stories of people who decided to make a change, to extend their hands and roll up their sleeves. What I love most is that these people looked at the same disturbing news stories that the rest of us saw. Yet instead of seeing all the wrongs as evidence that Earth spins abandoned on its axis, they looked and said, "My God is restoring all things. How do I participate?"
What made the difference between disgusted resignation or apathetic acceptance and creative intervention?
So we read about Friend's Ministry, a productive 61 acre community garden. Their mission? "To give people a dignified place to work in exchange for help." Gardening contracts trade 37.5 hours of work for the payment of a bill up to $300.00. Along the way, gardeners form friendships and mentoring relationships, and learn life and job skills.
We read about New Horizon's Ministry, which serves an otherwise invisible demographic in Colorado. If a woman gives birth while in prison, the state takes her child. On the surface, this seems to make sense. However, the deadline to reclaim the child falls within most prison sentences. So the mother forfeits her child, losing any chance to rebuild her family. That's where New Horizon's steps in. They take the children, and place them in loving Mennonite homes. When the mother is released, she too is cared for and shepherded as she reintegrates. If all goes well, mother and child begin a new life together surrounded by a great support system.
We read about The Rare Genomics Institute, a group dedicated to sequencing the genome of people with rare diseases. They service mostly children whose diseases are unknown and so far incurable. By isolating any genetic abnormalities, they hope to give researchers and doctors more information to work with. The "ordinary people" come in because the services are crowd funded - the $7,500 procedures are paid for by donations.
The authors even discuss the arts world, and point to the way song and story and image all convey truth, goodness, and beauty.
All in all, this is a good read. It's a reminder to think before we begin pontificating about the decay of our culture- after all, there's more than a few chances to do good right there amid the bad.
Or as one guy said, "Let your light shine before men, so that they can praise our Father in heaven."
I thank Baker Publishing for providing a review copy.
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