Today I’m so excited to share with you (and give away a copy) a book that I have loved reading over the past few weeks.
Amy paints herself in the beginning as an unlikely candidate to be spreading Jesus love to her neighbors. In her own words she says, “As an adult I avoided church, and I wasn’t teaching our daughter my beliefs. My husband and I enrolled Emma at a local Christian school because we thought they offered the best academic curriculum – we were just going to keep an eye on all that “Jesus stuff”. I knew many of the parents and staff from my churchgoing days (as a kid), and they thought they knew me. I could sling their Christian lingo and stop cussing and smoking long enough to get through a parent-teacher meeting!”
She shares how doing life with Christian friends helped turn her heart back to Jesus. How their authenticity in real life impacted her in such a powerful way that she came back home to Jesus and the church. As she grew she sensed it was coming time to express the fulness of her love for God by loving her neighbor, but yet she balked at it.
She says, “I was not ready to be “that girl”. I did not want to be weird. I was less concerned about trusting God and more concerned with impressing my neighbors…….Who is my neighbor? Don’t you count it as ‘loving my neighbor’ when I support a child in Ethiopia with a donation every month? Isn’t ‘loving my neighbor’ when I give to my church and they help missionaries all over the world? By ‘neighbor’, you mean everyone in the whole wide world, don’t you?”
And she realized that no, that wasn’t the kind of “love your neighbor” Jesus was talking about although those are great things. He meant the ones next door – like literally next door. Through Amy’s book she walks us through how to do that. How to break through the award, uncomfortable and go that next step of knowing our neighbors and then loving them well.
She points out, “Every day on every street – in your neighborhood – people feel abandoned and alone. In their desperate search for fulfillment they sample every conceivable distraction – toys, entertainment, alcohol, drugs, shopping, acquisition, avoidance. In their longing for love, they give away their bodies and their souls. In their quest for safety, they arm themselves with worldly weapons – big guns, strong arms, and loud words meant to intimidate and alienate. Jesus was so moved with compassion for these people, His neighbors, that He asked His followers to pray that the Lord would send someone to help them.
Matthew 9:37-38 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Then Jesus stopped praying and did something about it.”
Amy’s book walks us through practically how to reach out into our neighborhoods……without being weird! She shares what has worked and what hasn’t worked for her. Like this chick has walked through her entire neighborhood and actually has met ALL her neighbors. She has been in their homes and they have been in her. This is awesome stuff. And she shares the hard stuff too – like how she admits she’d rather go to Africa than walk across the street to love her hard-to-love-neighbor. Ha! It’s not like she’s a natural extrovert looking to keep her social calendar busy. She calls it obedience and submission to Christ. And I agree – yet I’m not doing a very good job of this right now. I desire to but I have not put the feet to it. This book along with another book I’ll be sharing on Wednesday has put a fire in my bones and I’m ready to reach out more into my neighborhood.
If you’d like to enter to win a copy of Amy’s book just leave a comment here on the blog or at Life Is A Bowl Of Wedgies Facebook page answering this question: Do you know the names of your neighbors on either side of you and across the street from you?
This isn’t a neighbor shaming question but an indicator as to where we are in this process of reaching out to our neighbors.
I will print off the comments and have my kids draw a name next Monday for the winner of the book. I will message and post the winner next Monday.