Relatively little is known about the life of James the Just, the author of the epistle of James, and thought by many to be the half-brother of Jesus. As the first bishop of Jerusalem, and a peer to Peter and Paul and many other giants of the faith, James is, nevertheless, revered as a hero of the early church, and for good reason.
Of course he affirmed the divinity, resurrection and redeeming power of Jesus, but he's best remembered for not only preaching right doctrine - but for believing and teaching that living out our faith can transform a broken and battered world.
In James' timeless words, we find the antidote to what ails a culture made weary from hypocrisy, pride and power plays - even within the church itself.
"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues," wrote James, "deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (1:26-27).
Simply put, James is urging Christians to put God's Word into action, and become the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. This is the key to living an authentic Christian life. It's also the secret to living a fulfilled and meaningful existence.
Since assuming my role as the leader of Focus on the Family, we've rededicated our efforts to make certain our ministry work reflects James' urging to balance faith and work. How? By meeting the very practical needs of people - in very practical and immediate ways. We've sought to invest heavily in the area of orthopraxy-the doing of the Word.
It's in this spirit of cooperation and engagement that we're thrilled to be spotlighting great businesses that are doing the most good. Most of you are familiar with TOMS Shoes and Blake Mycoskie. TOMS gives away one pair of shoes to a needy child around the world for every pair purchased. It's a great organization and I especially appreciate Blake's motivation behind the enterprise:
"The goal isn't how much money you make, but how much you help people," he told The New York Times in 2009.
I'm excited to announce that on June 30th, Blake, TOMS Chief Shoe Giver, will join us at a special Focus on the Family event in Irvine, California. The gathering is called, "Style Your Sole," and the first 350 participants will be given an opportunity to purchase and decorate a pair of shoes at a discount. Seer Outfitters, a clothing line by NBA star Kyle Korver, will be participating and making these shoes available at reduced rates.
This is the highest profile joint venture we've undertaken in our outreach to the millennial generation. Focus' director of the effort is Esther Fleece, a highly talented, enthusiastic and charismatic woman. Esther's role and coalition-building has been acknowledged as trend-setting in evangelical circles, and we hope it signals how serious we are in our commitment to not only work with next-generation leaders, but also provide them with resources that help them strengthen their own families.
In a very real way, Focus, TOMS and Seer are in aspects of the same business: helping families thrive, whether it's through shoes on their feet, clothes on their backs or helping equip them to be the best spouse and parent they can be.
If you're in the area, I hope you'll join us in Irvine on June 30th. You can register by clicking here. It'll be time well spent, and I'd love the opportunity to meet you!
So those are the details about the upcoming event. But one day does not a Christian life make. Our way forward is clear. If you want to live an authentic faith, embrace God's Word, wholly and enthusiastically. Don't hold back! Be the hands and, like TOMS is attempting to do, be the feet of Jesus Christ. Our time on this earth is limited and the tasks are many. Let all our work be worship - and together, with the Lord's help and blessing, we can transform and renew His world.
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