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Seeking Things Above

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col 3:1)

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Book Review: Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis

A couple of months ago our church encouraged all of us to take a faith assessment test. This was not the typical "spiritual gifts" test that churches offer from time to time. It was a test that asked many questions about what you believe along with an equal number of questions asking if you were living out what you said you believe. The tests were then graded and provided an assessment on where each individual stood in their faith and where we stood as a church.

We scored high as a church on basic church doctrine. We clearly understand salvation through faith alone. We clearly believe that the bible is God's inerrant and infallible word. The test showed we stated that we believed it was our responsibility to share the gospel and care for the poor and the oppressed.

The test also revealed that as a church we fail miserably in living out what we believe. The good news was that as a church we were honest in answering questions about our actions (or lack thereof) when it comes to our beliefs. The bad news was that as a church, we are not living out our faith.

One of the lowest scoring areas was in compassion. This was also my lowest score personally. I don't know if I should be encouraged or discouraged that I'm not alone in this weakness. I remember when I took the test that I was giving myself low scores on the questions that related to living with compassion. I was rating myself low because I knew that on a day to day basis, I was not thinking much about those in need, not to mention actively working to help the needy.

Fields of the Fatherless, by Tom Davis, speaks directly to this weakness in the Christian walk for many of us.

This book was recommended to my wife by one of our close friends. This friend has a heart for orphans so I figured this to be a book that encourages readers to become involved in international adoptions. I started reading it with this expectation. I was already wondering what God was trying to say to our family about adoptions (see posts labeled under "Moses"), so this this seemed to fit with what I was already seeking.

Fields of the Fatherless, however, is about much more than just an encouragement to adopt orphans. This book is about living out compassion for all those in need. Davis points out that God calls Christians to be compassionate as he is compassionate. This means being active in the lives of all those that are hurting. This includes the orphans and the widows, but it also includes the homeless, the struggling single parents, people struggling with addictions, people that need to experience God's love and compassion through God's people.

The most powerful message in this book to me was that compassion equals involvement. Davis says that just looking at this world, tells us that we need to rethink our understanding of compassion. If we are really as compassionate as we think we are, why do we still have so many people suffering all around us? He quotes Henri Nouwen to further define how we should think of compassion:

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean "to suffer with." Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. - Henri Nouwen, Compassion: A Reflection of the Christian Life (New York:Image Books, 1983), 4.

Our friend that recommend this book to us said that you really need to read this book at least once a year to refuel your desire for compassionate living. It's strange that the Bible is not enough to fuel this desire. However, as is often the case when we're not living out God's Word, sometimes it takes a fellow believer to come along side and help open your eyes, encourage you and inspire you all over again. Tom Davis does a great job of doing just that with Fields of the Fatherless.


Jena Isle said...

Hello Tony, your posts are very inspirational. It is true that sometimes we are not living God's words. We are often lost in the conundrum of worldly concerns. Thanks for sharing and reminding us.

Jena Isle said...

and thank you for the widget on your side bar for the campaign.
God bless.

Tony said...

Jena - Thank you. The conundrum of the world is a subtle but powerful weapon of Satan used to keep us on the sidelines (Matt 6:25-34).

Emma the Golden Girl said...

Thank you for visiting my blog, leaving your comment and signing my guestbook. I also enjoy reading your blog.
Your post on compassion touched my heart.
I would like to think of myself as a Christian activist who tries to live by what I believe. I fall short certainly as all of us do but it is important to keep on trying each day. I have received in return so much more than I have ever given.
Your widget for child sponsorship is dear to my heart.
Thank you again.

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Hi Tony,
Thanks for your visit to my blog and for the meaningful comments you left behind. I will be linking you with my two blogs- Points of View and Reflections- A Christian blog. I hope you do the same with mine. What you related to your post is true with most Christians. We should be doers and not talkers only. Many people will be more inclined to embrace our faith if only they see that we live out what we preach. Thanks for the post. God bless you and your family always.

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