Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Big Price for the Big Game!

Last Saturday, just over a week before the Superbowl, Jen and I decided to drive around downtown to see all the festivities leading up to the Big Game. We were not entirely sure if we were going to walk around with our daughter because she is fighting a double ear infection. But after seeing the crowd and the $40 parking we decided a drive would suffice.

This quick drive down town was anything but quick with a myriad of cars and people colliding together in wonderment and amazement as stores were remodeled, streets temporarily renamed, tents put up and concerts blaring all in preparation for a 3 hour game on a Sunday Evening. In fact, it is estimated to fly from New York ( if a Giants fan) or the Boston area (if a Patriots fan), to get a hotel (minimum three nights reservation is required in Indianapolis and Indianapolis area), plus tickets, and food will cost on average $6,300. That is $2,100 per hour for a three hour game!!!

Now I like football, and I like the Superbowl, and I am downright giddy that the world’s most expensive money making product is in my own city, but there is something uneasy about the numbers involved here. I often like to think in terms of Worldvision, an organization that helps children in developing nations receive sponsor from other countries for about $30 a month to help pay for food, school, and health care. For the price tos go to the biggest football game of the year, you could sponsor a child to go to school, have sufficient food every day, and receive medicine for 210 months, or 17 years and six months.

There is nothing wrong with spending money, and there is nothing wrong with going to the Superbowl. Not everything we spend money on must go to a charity or church. With officials saying there will be approximately 68,000 seats available that means present spectators will have spent at least $428.4 million dollars.  Those who are attending the game are spending as much money as it would cost to feed, educate, and vaccinate over 66,100 kids for 18 years!!! If you account the 3.5 million dollars per 30 seconds a commercial cost during the game, the money gambled, the food wasted, the cost of the teams and other bands and entertainment, we could easily provide over 100,000 children means to learn, eat, and be healthy until they reach adulthood in one single day!!!

I am not saying we should get rid of the Super Bowl. But if we as humanity are really serious about ending starvation, increasing opportunities in education, and eliminating preventable illnesses, should we not be able to easily raise so much in one day to impact so many lives for so long, as we spend for a 3 hour football game? If we really want to change the world we really have to look at first changing ourselves. We cannot live our lives with such misguided priorities and think we will escape.

In the Parable of the Talents the master rewards two servants for using money faithfully. The master says “well done good and faithful servant you have been faithful with little now you will be entrusted with much” but to the servant who is not faithful he says “you lazy and wicked servant...” What will Jesus say about our resources, will we be faithful?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Year of the Dragon, Eternity of the Lamb

Perhaps you have heard that it is the Year of the Dragon according to the Chinese New Year. Many women who follow such traditions are planning the birth of a child, so that they may proclaim with hubris that their son/daughter is a dragon.

I cannot blame people for wanting themselves or their children to have a lifelong association with a flying, fire breathing, take no prisoner mythical serpent. The dragon sure beats the animal Chinese fate has attached to me; the rat. Even thought the rat is thought to be a loyal trustworthy person, there is very little pride in promoting my connection to a sewer dwelling rodent often riddle with disease (no offense of course to Mickey).

Considering all this you really have to give props to Jesus. I have not gone back and calculated according to the Chinese calendar what animal Jesus would be connected with, but Jesus is associated with an animal. You would think that the Son of The Almighty All Powerful Creator and Sustainer of the Universe would have a pretty cool animal tied to his persons. However if you are a follower of Jesus you understand that our Savior likes to flip this confused lost world completely upside down, and that is no different when it comes to his own mascot.

The Messiah is described by prophets and Biblical writers as “The Lion of Judah.” “Judah” being the 4th son of Jacob whom is was prophesied that the liberator would come from and “Lion “being an incredibly powerful, intimidating, and cool animal. Yet, despite this awesome moniker, Jesus shows up vastly different than this roaming predator.

Revelation 5 is perhaps the greatest contrast to how Jesus sees himself, verses how the world perceives him. In this chapter of the apocalypse it is said that only the Lion of Judah is worthy to open the last scroll of revelation that would release the work of God in the end times. This seems to make sense because what is more powerful and worthy than a lion, the king of the forest? However, when Jesus shows up, he does not show up as the perceived destructive lion. Instead, Jesus reveals himself, worthy to open the final revelation of God, as a lamb. If this isn’t weak enough, Jesus goes a step further. He does not just reveal himself as a lamb, but as a slain, dead, sacrificed, bloody, mangled lamb.
Jesus is portrayed as a lame lamb, and a slaughtered one at that. You know who shows up as the almighty dragon? The Devil, the Prince of Lies, Satan, Deceiver, and enemy of God

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. – Rev. 12:9

As I said the Son of God likes to mess with us. So what is being said here?

The dragon is often what we think about when we think of power; strong, ambitious, control, fierce, independent. The lamb (and a dead one at that) is small, weak, susceptible, dependent, and defenseless. Jesus conquers through the means of humility, evil attempts to conquer through violence.

SPOILER ALERT: Jesus wins, his kingdom lasts, the devil’s kingdom falls. What’s the lesson, surrender to God, forget your vain will, humble your pride, lay down your defenses, and join the victorious lamb that conquers. This is life, life that falls into the lap of a gracious, wonderful, and powerful God. Jesus is not looking to devour us, he is looking to draw us to him, and he does that through a display of true love; sacrifice. This is our salvation, this is our King, this is our example, to be sheep.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

don't wait till november for change

Presidential elections, or any elections for that matter, are exciting because they represent change. Candidates invade the platform promising difference making policies that will benefit society. Even an incumbent (Obama) makes changes to their previous platforms to lure the ever enticing change. Change in politics is tantamount to any success because people inherently believe, no matter how great a society may be, there is always room for improvement.

It is exciting watching giant potential leaders fall out due to scandal (Cain) or lack or support (Perry) or the failure to generate vision leading change. With the Iowa caucus expired, the field of Republicans has narrowed (Romney, Santorum, Gingrich). Debates will continue to heat up and the American public will certainly be looking for the candidate with the most change factor.

There is much that many would agree must be changed. Unemployment is keeping many at home glued to the debates, dropping house prices have unsettled homeowners, an over-all failing economy have put many in poor demeanors. America will be waiting at the end of that infamous Tuesday in November to see who will be pioneering the changes needed in this nation.

While many are looking for the needed change in our country few are looking for the change that they can enact. Almost every election is followed by a collective collapse on the couch with the country waiting to see what will be done. We all want change because we see that we live in an imperfect society, but no one is willing to change themselves first.

The best policies in the world can improve the employment rate, but unless we are willing to change our attitudes of greed, laziness, and sense of entitlement, it will continue to be a greatly flawed system. Great tax breaks can be offered to help home sales, but until we are willing to change our values on life, family, and community, than the change will ultimately fail.

The many problems in our society cannot be affected by policy change, without personal, family, and community change. We have not put first things first; we have confused our values and have deflated the market on our character.

We have put possessions before family, we have put ease before character, we have put wealth before fairness, and we have put self before God.

Do you want life lasting, life impacting change, start with yourself, move to your family, than your neighborhood, you may never get past there, but even if you don’t that is a big impact you will leave.

Learn to do right!

Seek Justice,

Encourage the oppressed

Defend the cause of the fatherless,

Plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17