Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Impoverished Luxury

If you are like me when you heard the rumors that the price of gas was going to escalate, you hurried and filled up your vehicle. If you are like me you rejoiced when you saw you filled up just in time, only to remember that you would be back at the pump before the weeks end. If you are like me you whine and complain about the price of gas and wonder why it is we have to pay such outrages prices.
If you are like me perhaps you have lamented the fact that prices at the grocery have risen, health benefits have decreased, and taxes inevitably are going to increase.
If you are also like me, perhaps you have caught yourself worrying too much over very little. If you are like me you remember that you ought not to fret because you are rich and can weather the storm. Did I lose you yet?
It is true though; you who are reading this are most likely rich because you have access to the Internet. You who are reading this are rich if you have a car to buy gas for, insurance to pay premiums on, or water coming from pipes in your house.
After careful thought I have come to realize that richness has to do with choices. If you wake up in the morning with choices, you are rich. If you have a choice what to eat for breakfast, you are rich. If you have a choice in how to get to work (car, bus, taxi, bike) you are rich. If you have a choice to what you are doing Friday nights, you are rich.
Poverty takes away choices, and leaves only ultimatums. There are millions and millions who are left with nothing more than ultimatums. Work 16 hours a day 7 days a week or go without any resources. Walk three miles every day just to get semi-clean water, or die of thirst. Marry your daughter off at 15 to a man you do not know, or keep another mouth you cannot feed at home. These are not choices, these are ultimatums, and this is true poverty.
There is no true moral point to this observation. I guess I only want you to become aware of two things
1. I hope you are aware at your endless choices that you are presented with each day, and the amount of unbelievable wealth you have.
2. I hope you are aware of true poverty. I hope you understand true poverty not only takes away lives, it takes away freedom.
So, the only thing we are left with is a question. What do we do with our wealth in the face of poverty? If we who can only fill up our gas tank half way have so much more than those who are not even sure what a Ford is, what do we do? I am sure you have heard the saying “the answer is in our own hands,” the truth is however; that the answer is in our own pocket books, but we are just too stingy to open it up.

The answer to poverty cannot wait to be answered by the millionaires of the world, but the answer to poverty, is you, the middle class, and even the lower class. The answer is in giving, by all to all. So, I hope you are not afraid to admit your wealth, I hope that you are not afraid to reach out to the truly impoverished. I hope you not only know what poverty is, but I hope you see, smell it, and taste it. I hope you put yourself right in the middle of it and be the small piece of change brought on by the great love of our God the creator and put an end to a very solvable problem.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

anonymous love

It really doesn’t take much to change the world if you think about it. One bite of a forbidden fruit, one invention of a light bulb or printing press, one electoral vote, one proclamation of emancipation, one women refusing to give up her bus seat, one wall being torn down, one iron curtain, one magic bullet, one dead Jewish Messiah, and one empty grave.

I think too often we see the world changing by one person making monumental decisions during a monumental time. It is easy to think of Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. We often desire to be people in similar situations hoping that we make the right decision in crucial times. I think it is too easy to want our names written down in the history books. However, the reason our world has become so stagnant and resistant to positive change is because we are too busy fighting over the recognition and power instead of actually working on change.

On the night Jesus was betrayed by Judas and handed over to be killed in Luke 22, he had his last meal with his disciples. After telling the disciples what must happen to him that very night, they began fighting over who is the greatest. Imagine Jesus’ heart. He had spent 3 years with the 12, he is about to lay down his life, and they are arguing about their own self-importance. Jesus responds by reminding his disciples what he has taught them before,

The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. – Luke 22:26

The way to change the world is not by gaining power and demanding people to do your will. While that may give you power, that doesn’t change the world which is already full of self imposed messiahs and tyrants.

To change the world it starts by becoming part of a small movement, a movement that starts with small acts of love. The hope is not for you to gain fame and notoriety and then cause transformation of global or national events. The hope is to be an anonymous servant sharing love alongside thousands of other anonymous servants. The hope is for a growing movement focused on nothing more than redemptive love that has no spoke person, that has no leader, but has only one single foundation that could be pointed to, which is Jesus the Christ. The hope is for Jesus to be seen, to be written in the history books, to be remembered. Our name is not important; we will be given a new one in heaven (I’m hoping for Hank the Hammer).

Jesus Christ is the name that matters, the name by which all people will confess, the name that drives out demons and fears, the name that brings mercy and peace, the name that changes the world. If you want to change the world, think small, think often, and think Jesus.

If you have any love transforming ideas, please be part of the change and share them!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grace like Snow

We know that it is always good when people of God gather and worship, but due to weather conditions Lynhurst Baptist was unable to meet for worship Sunday.  We hope you are blessed by worshiping in your homes, or perhaps with another place of worskhip this morning.  Below is a video message that Jen and I put together last night, we hope it reminds you of God's grace and encourages you for this week.

Grace like Snow

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

revolt like an Egyptian

If you have happened to flip on the television, or glance at a newspaper, or even tune in for a second of radio any time this past week you know that Egypt is at the genesis of a revolution. Inspired by the Tunisian overthrow of government, young Egyptians are looking to oust Egypt’s long time iron fisted ruler Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981. The hope of these revolters is to establish a more democratic government that represents the people. These actions have inspired protests in other countries including Algeria, Yemen, and Jordan.

The question must arise, as it always does with international affairs, “What is the role of the United States?” Perhaps you have heard this question asked, or even asked it yourself. Many attempt to answer this question by first answering another question, “What is at stake for the U.S?” Many believe the price of oil is at stake, others believe instability in the Middle East causes breeding grounds for terrorism, and some believe that the U.S. image is at stake. Some have concluded that the U.S. really has nothing at stake and should not stick their nose in other people’s business. Someone even asked me how the U.S. would like it if another country stuck their nose in our business. However, during the American Revolution another country did stick their nose in, France, and we thanked them very much for it.

We cannot answer the question of our role in Egypt by asking what is at stake for the U.S. To ask such a selfish question puts only one thing at stake, our souls. Instead the question we need to ask to be able answer the question about our role is, “What is at stake for Egypt?”

The people of Egypt have courageously kept the protest non-violent on their part. They protest for jobs, and most importantly for representation. What is at stake is the right for the Egyptians to be ruled respectfully and representatively. Mubarak has used his time of rule to serve himself and not the people of Egypt. This is a very dangerous stance to be in.

When Rehoboam the son of Solomon became King of Israel, the people were tired of being ruled harshly and having to serve the king at great cost. The people asked Rehoboam for a break. The wise elders advised Rehoboam in 1 Kings12:7.

If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.

However, Rehoboam ignored the advice of the elders because he wanted to serve himself, and there was a revolt and Israel split in two. Mubarak has looked to only serve himself and now he will lose what power he thought he had.

Much was expected from Mubarak because much had been given to him. Much is expected from the U.S. because we have been given much. I am not suggesting that we send troops, this is a non-violent and so far successful revolution, but I am saying we support the people in their right to be represented.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked – Luke 12:48

Much is demanded from us, and God calls us to fight for the oppressed even if the best way to fight is to simply give financial or advisory support. We are called not to serve ourselves, but to serve others.