Thursday, September 25, 2008

Economic Bailout & Ethics

Ron Paul the last serving constitutional sentinel posted an editorial that attempts to shed more light on the mortgage crisis bailout and made argument that this kind of government meddling only worsens the problem. Although the editorial is fabulous and informative, I am struck by the fact that even Dr. Paul does not see the ethical quagmire this bailout creates.

The real issue to me is that the Federal Reserve bankers are asking the government to bail out banks and investments institutions that are ultimately tied to their own portfolios with money borrowed at interest from the same banks and financial institutions. In essence they are saying, "Please pay us to bail us out of our mess."

For those of you who do not understand how a fiat currency and the central bank system works you will probably think I am a conspiracy nut, but I personally would like to see a real conspiracy nut trace out the money and prove I am right.

UPDATE: The central bankers will make over $4 million dollars a day in interest on this loan.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Services For Unwed Homeless Mothers

The intermittent volunteer shared a concern in her post "Pregnant and On the Streets" about a street family who were denied services and ultimately lost their pre-born child because of the reality that the church provides most all homeless services and therefore the unwillingness to house an unwed couple.

Although I believe it awesome that from her experience the mantle of care for the homeless is rightly placed within the church. I am concerned by the ideology that our service is based on the morality of the recipients rather than on the morality of the church. Better stated, the church should serve not based on the merit of those being served, but on rather on the Biblical mandate to serve.

I imagine the consequences of my life story if God reversed the roles we have filled together. In every stage of life God has based his saving grace on his own merit, and the receipt of that merit has compelled me to be changed into the moral vision he had for me. Imagine how differently the "woman caught in adultery" would have played out if Jesus had based his decision about the stoning on the code of a moral life that she had never sought to be bound by. Instead, Jesus calls her as a response to him to live under a new vision of moral hope.

I had this similar fight at our church when our work with the children of the migrant families at the Arlington Racetrack was bullied out by those who felt that it did not value the vision of the church, since we were not gaining numerical attendance results from the work. This is not our motivation.

All our decisions and motivation towards acts of service must be based on our responsibility to be participants in God's moral vision for our participation in bringing His kingdom to earth. It is our morality, as the representatives of Christ on earth that most concerns him, since after all his good name rests on our shoulders. Perhaps we should be wholly concerned with the vision of healing the sick, and preaching the good news to the poor that he called us to, then we'll let God take care of the rest.

Mark Moore - Another Great Post

I don't get the haters of the world, I just don't have the energy. Mark Moore has responded to them, and to their meaningless boycott this time against Wal-Mart.
If you want to hate Wal-Mart, hate them for this: they continue to seduce our society, including Evangelicals of all stripes, into a rampant materialism that is so grossly at odds with compassion, generosity, and global welfare, that it can only be contrary the core message of Jesus Christ.
Read The Full Post: Why Republicans Hate Wal-Mart

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mark Moore on Pacifism

Pacifism is not a spineless resignation—it is a deliberate methodology which calls attention to the injustices of this world. Pacifism is not quiet or nice—it is deliberately aggressive ideologically while refusing any right to retaliation; it deliberately provokes response (often violent) to force the "enemy" to put all his cards on the table for the watching world to witness.

If you have not seen the video of police at the Republican National Convention last week brutally attack a peaceful protester as she is visibly attempting to surrender to arrest then you might not have the context to understand why a principled, reasoned explanation of Christian pacifism is so necessary.

Please visit Mark Moore's Post to read the entire context of the quote above.

Entire Bible In 13 Weeks

The primary business I must attend to every day is to fellowship with the Lord. The first concern is not how much I might serve the Lord, but how my inner man might be nourished. I may share the truth with the unconverted; I may try to encourage believers; I may relieve the distressed; or I may, in other ways, seek to behave as a child of God; yet, not being happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, may result in this work being done in a wrong spirit.

The most important thing I had to do was to read the Word of God and to meditate on it. Thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, and instructed. - George Muller May 7, 1841

I read somewhere last week that George Muller was committed to read the Bible 4 times a year. I thought that was an ambitious, yet impressive commitment to time under the tutelage of the Lord. I know that the Bible In 90 Days is a popular resource, but I am also self aware enough that this program would fail the first weekend I started it. Our weekends are incredibly busy and we are often out till very late. I needed a program that was built on the 65 work days each quarter, so that I could make it a part of my daily regimen on the more predictable routine of work nights.

I searched and could not find such a program. So I decided that if this was a commitment I wanted to make, it was up to me to develop the resources. I developed a web page several months back to help us with our oldest daughter's reading. This page displays the Bible In Basic English combined with the Dolch word list. All Dolch words are highlighted green, while all other words are red. So I already had the underlying table data for the full text of the Bible. From here I divided the total number of verses by the 65 days. This method naturally broke chapters unevenly, and had no respect for distribution of the text, it was just a simple query. So from there I manually went through the 65 days and decided to round the "break chapter" either forward or backward based on where it broke in the chapter. In a few days I had to do just a little more massaging than that to even out a couple days over chapters that were particuarly long and fell right on the day breaks.

All of that is to say, that I invite you to join me in the 13 Week Reading Challenge. Already in the first three days I have completed God has spoken deeply to my heart. The first day I was inspired to greater reflection of becoming more like Christ through new insight into the difference between Abraham and Lot. The second day, I read about how God used his manifest presence as bookends to the time Jacob spent in Laban's house. I was reminded once again that part of God's destiny for us is filled in the monotony of the seasons of life. Last night, I was able to see how Joseph was for his brothers, and archetype for the greatness Jesus prepared for us when we fully realize our citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

I am so excited about the great truth, and inspiring changes God will bring in my life as Christ is formed in me, through the discipline of this challenge. This is not an excercise in academic accomplishment, but instead an invitation to see God's entire story unfold in all it's flowing glory. I hope you use this page, and are inspired to greater love and service in God's Kingdom.

My Heart is Not Negative

I was told recently by a good friend that all my posts of late have been negative. I do not want to come off as negative, condescending, or accusing. I am none of those. I am passionate. I want people to want more. I want people to hear an invitation from God to live in the mansions Christ prepared for us, in the here and now. I want people to understand that abundant life is promised, and our destiny is being fulfilled right now, in the place God has placed us. I have a destiny, today in this place, in this city, in this time. So do you!

We do not need to go to a far away place, to a remote people... but we must GO! Here where we are... The good news CAN be lived out in the places we are going everyday!

Please know I say this from a heart exploding with love as an exhortation!

Destiny & Tension

God has great news for you! It is amazing exciting news and you need to hurry out to share it. The news was so amazing, that it was determined before time. In fact there is a lot of background work that had to be done so you could receive it, but all that has been taken care of already, the prep work is finished!

That is the message Joseph's brothers received when they arrived in Egypt. God had a prepared a destiny for them... God had engineered the system so that their living in peace and abundance was already handled on account of the work Joseph had done.
Genesis 45: 7-9a And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father...
This is the same promise we receive when we appear before God in starving desperation. Jesus was sent ahead to be our salvation. Jesus prepared the way to preserve us that we could be saved, that we could be living. Jesus' prepared work compels us to GO! in celebration of the peace and abundance that is prepared for us.

There is a bigger issue at work here than first meets the eye... The question of why? What is God doing in the world? What is my place in the work God is doing? Israel must have had these same questions.
Genesis 46:2-3 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here am I." Then he said, "I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation.
God answers Israel, and addresses him by his given name. God speaks into Jacob's carnal worldview and assures him that he has a destiny. He and his family will 'soar on wings' to be the very people of God. His family will become not just a nation, but THE nation through which the world will see God. His children, their tribe, is being crafted by the very hand of God.

The answer of God is the same into our carnal realities. God is making us, in the place we are in, in the moment in time and space we occupy into the very people of God. God has a destiny for us, we too will 'soar on wings' when we accept the destiny of citizenship in the people God.

Jesus' work was spent to prepare a place for us, a purpose for our existence. Jesus' life was given to give us life that is abundant, full of His manifest presence through us. Jesus sends us to proclaim this nation, to be this people. Jesus invites us into our destiny.

Our destiny is where the tension lies. Our world, and sadly often our churches too wants to pin us down by the famine of hopeless reality. College students tell me they want to do God's work after they get their degree. Graduates tell me they will GO after their college debt is paid. My peers tell me that GOing is on the horizon, after the kids are raised. Then it is the impending retirement, the grand babies, and so on! WE MUST GET WITH IT!!!! There will never be a safe time to GO! We must choose to soar, to fulfill our destiny in Christ; or we choose to be held down, pinned by the god's of our pagan famine.

The Kingdom of God has invited you to the feast on the best, will you eat or starve?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bart Campolo Interview

My friend Jeff interviewed Tony Campolo's son Bart on his blog. He had some great things to say that are definitely worth reading. Here is an excerpt of my favorite part...

"So, why should people who follow Jesus care for the poor? Easy. Why should an organization trying to get a thicker chunk of the American cultural landscape care for the poor? Gosh, I don't know. They probably shouldn't. You don't see the Democratic or Republican parties bending over backwards to give to the poor, because it's not really going to help their movement very much. Those people don't have anything to give, [and] they'll suck a lot of your resources. Organizationally, it's not really a good move."
Check out the whole article.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Kingdom Doors

The Kingdom doors are rusty
They don't see that much usage
Few people go looking for power
In the places that call the bottom tops
Scant a crusader quests for glory
In the world's skid row kitchens.

Our church doors work much better
Clear glass where we can see the other side
Power to those who yearn for titles and offices
Glory & Positions for the earnest
Jesus wants to give you
Everything you work hard to attain.

The Kingdom doors are rusty
Yet still they invite me in
For His Power and To His Glory
The strength of emptiness they take to open
Jesus stands to make you
Everything you were created to attain

The Kingdom doors are rusty...

I saw this picture by one of my former campers, Lisa Curry, in an album on Facebook. It was a moving picture to me, with so much depth and contrast. The first stanza to the poem materialized in my head as I looked the picture. I rarely blog poetry, since to me it is a deeply personal activity, between myself and God. I made this exception.

Homeschool - Stuff We Needed

I have spent most of the day today preparing worksheets for my wife to use this week. With the move to Africa we decided to just go ahead and start homeschooling now, so as to separate some of the shocks in the kids lives.

If any of you are interested, I wanted to link to the things I created.



I also some time back wrote a small program for making random math tests quickly. It is a very useful project that we use each day. You can put in the highest and lowest number to use, and also choose between addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and a few combinations.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

R.C. Thompson

I come from a heritage of great men who have been mentors and shepherds to my life. Today one of those men, R.C. Thompson has gone forward to rest until the resurrection.

I met R.C. Thompson in 1982, I was seven years old and he was the preacher at another church in our fellowship a couple towns over. In 1984 we moved away from that area and when we returned in 1988 R.C. had moved to a different church, and that is the church my family started attending upon our return. Mr. Thompson was my minister from those first days of junior high through high school.

In 1989 R.C. started a training program at our church called Camp Timothy. It was a week where several of us boys stayed over at his home in the evenings, and during the days spent time on learning how to prepare a sermon, and others duties of a minister. I accepted Christ and was baptized at Camp Timothy. I also wrote my first sermon in Camp Timothy. Although I don't know I still practice a single lesson we learned in that camp, I strive to practice the love for people and sense of servanthood I learned in watching R.C.

R.C. loved singing praises to Almighty God. In fact he loved it so much that he was the choir director for both an adults group and a children group. I spent 3 years in the Sunbeams. We toured local nursing homes bringing the joy that a group of children can bear in places like that. I will always remember his booming voice that overshadowed the entire choir of children as he would get going.

More than anything else however one must pay honor to R.C. not in the classes he taught, in the songs that he sang, or in the years of his ministry but in the character of the love he displayed. I NEVER felt unloved by R.C. In every stage of life, whether a junior high monster, a high school rebel, a visiting college student, or an adult returning with my own family; R.C.'s love always poured out.

Please pray for his wife Lenora, for his children, and for his grandchildren. He was a man of great stature and great love, he will be deeply grieved in their lives. He also will be mourned by so many more of us!

Rest well my friend, you will rise again in the great Resurrection.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Two Years Old and Alone

At about 10:00 this evening we got a knock on our door. The village police had found a two year old naked and alone at the gas station about a block from our house. Our neighbor, who had been out working on his car had told them we had small children. After talking to the police for about a minute my wife snuck into our babies room and got them a diaper and pajamas. About an hour later the police knocked on our door again to return the pajamas, the boy's parents had been found & he was returned home safely.

Here I am an hour later running the journey of this little boy over in my head. He crossed a major road in the dark and found his way to the gas station. The whole event was so surreal and unbelievable. How does a 2 year old escape the house and walk two blocks...

It seems so crazy, and at the same time I remember watching these children, some even younger than two show up at the carepoints while we were in Swazi. These kids had not walked two blocks, they had walked miles. This was not an anomaly, this was daily life.
This should not be the norm. We should live in a world where a vulnerable child would shock us on every level; yet there are millions of orphans in an area of Southern Africa about the size of Texas. These children live life alone and stripped of every identity of childhood.

This is not a rarity to knock on every door of the neighborhood, this is daily life. I hurt for the torment of this mom, only a few doors down... I hurt for the Swazi moms who know the future of their children of their children's daily walk for food after AIDS claims their life.