Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
As millions of Americans sat around their dining room table to celebrate Thanksgiving with mounds of muffins and pounds of potatoes, 35.9 million people struggled to find a meal. Three decades later, McGovern's words prophetically have come to pass as evidence indicates the existing system is failing a vast number of Americans
Yes, poverty is a reality in America. 12.9 million children are either living in homelessness or part of a new social group, working poor. Almost 50% of children living in poverty are African American or Hispanic and many more are undocumented citizens surviving on one meal a day. 3.4 million senior citizens live in poverty and make less than $10,000 a year.
Our lives end the moment we become silent about the things that matter. (Martin Luther)
Poverty isn't a continent away--it's in our backyard. This past Thanksgiving, over 300 volunteers did something which mattered. I'm so proud to have worked with CCM and Mariners church on such a great event. But the journey doesn't end here. You, me, we, us need to do something. Get involved and do something that matters!
And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The thing about truth that is most annoying is that it is true, making anything that contradicts it false. Christ is either God incarnate, risen from the dead, or He is not. There is no halfway position here. If he is not, then His teaching hold no more authority than those of Confucius, Tupac, or Oprah. We can take them or leave them.
But if Christ is God, it changes everything—there is nothing more important, more authoritative, or more central to the human race, to the way we live our lives, and to our very understanding of the world. Christ is an all-or-nothing proposition, and one way or another, every one of us has already made a choice about Him. We have either committed our lives to Him whole-heartedly, or we have not.*
Which lends me to ask, if Christ's claims are true, what are you doing about it?
*Thanks to Dr. Suzanne Wyle for forcing her students to think critically in 100 words or less. Represent WC!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Her childish face was tear-stained and swollen.
A warm embrace caused her body to collapse in my arms.
Through the sobs she wailed, My baby! My baby! I killed my baby…She swore she’d never do it.
You’re a child who took the life of another child, they exclaimed.I cried because she cried.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
One song in particular has been etched in my memory and I can still recite the chorus: God is great! God is good! He kept His promise like He said He would. God is great! God is good! Blessed be the name of the Lord.* It’s odd that one melody and set of lyrics so simple, can be so profound.
A few weeks ago I tweeted about a Thanksgiving event I was coordinating at church. I jokingly said Jesus needed to perform a miracle with some fish and loaves to feed the amount of people attending. But, today I am humming like Psalty because God is great, God is good, and He kept His promise like He said He would. We have over 200 volunteers giving up their national holiday to serve others, 212 donated turkeys, 500 cans of donated vegetables, 167 donated pumpkin pies, 250 brand new jackets to give away and 1,500 food boxes donated from Mariners Church. But it gets better! My friend Matt from Mariners Outreach is bringing over 100 volunteers to serve along side of us AND they’re bringing a hair team to provide haircuts and styling to those in need.
I woke up at 4:32am this morning overwhelmed by God’s provision and care for those in need. Like the prolific songbook once sang, God is great! God is good! Blessed be the name of the Lord. Are you overwhelmed by God's goodness? Or just overwhelmed? Either way, speak it out! I love knowing how to specifically pray for those I care for.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The conclusion is inescapable. Jesus asks much more of us than just believing right things.
Our society compartmentalizes life:
Work [here] Friends [here] Church [here] Finances [here]
But our faith must permeate every aspect of our life. We can’t compartmentalize faith to Sunday mornings—it’s more than a political affiliation, hobby, or thing to do. Our faith must be like the very air we breathe. For when we breathe in Jesus, we exhale Him to those around us. The poor, the rich, the lonely, the successful, the annoying, the amazing—every one needs Jesus like everyone needs air.
What does God expect from us? Everything.
*Thanks to Dr. Suzanne Wyle from Whitter College for forcing me to critically think in 100 words or less. Go Poets!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' (Luke 15:28-30)
In The Phantom of the Opera, there is a scene when the mask that covers the monstrous face of the Phantom is dramatically pulled off and exposes the hideous creature beneath the mask. A heinous, marred face of the man with divine musical talent cowers like a beaten child. Even after seeing the play five times, I always cry every time the mask is removed—and now I’ve figured out why.
Amidst a small group of women on Sunday night, I trusted them to accept me for me; ugly, pockmarked, and decrepit. As uncomfortable as it must have been to watch me remove my mask, I knew it had to be done. The bible study paused as I metaphorically sung like the Phantom my story of jealousy, envy, and conviction. I saw some eyes turn away, shift, or look down; I’m sure it was out of embarrassment for me. But I knew the person beneath the mask and she longed to be exposed.
The girl. I hated her yet wanted to be her all at the same time. I felt like the world was celebrating sin and rewarding folly by fawning over this woman. But my mask hid the Prodigal-Brother-Syndrome and I watched with envious eyes as she was being blessed. What I didn’t realize was she had removed her mask to reveal the ugliness she possessed. In doing so, she invited the world to gaze upon her brokenness and marred past. I was convicted by her humility and honesty upon hearing her story; her ugliness was somehow beautiful up close and I needed to ask for forgiveness.
As I drove home on Sunday night feeling ugly and free and accepted, I knew why I cried when the Phantom removed his mask—he wanted to feel what I felt on Sunday night: beautifully broken and accepted.
Monday, November 9, 2009
You have to read it! Really, it’ll change your prayer life, she said. Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but anytime someone says I have to do something, I want to do the opposite. I know, I know, I’m a female James Dean. But since it was a dear friend whom I trusted, I took her word and bought the newest Christian phenom of a book, The Prayer of Jabez. The book is based off an obscure prayer found in the middle of a long section of genealogies in 1 Chronicles 4: “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”
Here’s the book in one sentence: If we truly pray for God to bless us and be used for His kingdom, good things would happen—God would bless and enlarge our territory and we would serve Him in a deeper and expanded way.
Nothing is wrong with this assertion, but many people read this book like a get-rich-quick manual. Like God is a celestial Bob Barker waiting to pull back a colorful door to reveal A new boat! A new dining room set and china cabinet! A set of jet skis! and other signs of wealth. All we need to do is spin the prayer wheel and ask for the illusive $1.00 spot.
I don’t know if this was the author’s intention, but to me, it was a palatable prosperity gospel* in mini-book form. It didn’t bode over well as I sat back and looked at my mother who was dying of cancer, I was a stellar college grad who was jobless, and my heart was broken for choosing God’s will over mine. I rested the book on my chest, placed my hand on my chemo-ridden mother and thought of Paul the Apostle. According the 2 Corinthians, Paul had frequently been in prison, flogged severely, exposed to death many times, whipped 39 lashes five times, beaten with rods three times, stoned, shipwrecked, and endured dehydration and starvation. But his territory expanded. In fact, he authored more than half the New Testament, was thee early church father, and was a legit theologian who has changed lives even today.
The Prayer of Jabez is a poetic request from God, and yes, God blesses the lives of those who serve Him. But the Prayer of Juarez would include, Thy will be done, not my will. Come cancer, death, success, and health, blessed be your name. You give and take away, but my heart will surely say, blessed be your name.
*Prosperity gospel: the belief that God rewards faithful and sincere Christians with success! Good health! And material prosperity!
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
As I writhe in longing for my appendix, I will share some learnings I had in Chicago. The short: I'm totally the suckiest Christian ever. I started my Live Biblically challenge like all other challenges I self-impose: decide now, assess later. As always, assessing my decision to do this in the middle of the vow has been like asking for directions in the middle of a hurricane. As a control freak, I gave the illusion that everything was fine while my left eyelid twitched, heart stuttered, and head spun trying to follow my list. I've been driving myself crazy trying to be a good Christian. But that's been the problem. I'm will never ever live up the title Little Christ (literal definition).
Here's the best part--it was never expected of me.
What does God expect of us? What is the Christian faith about? Going to church on Sundays, praying before meals, and stringently following a list of commands--or does God expect more? When people say they are Christians, what exactly does that mean? If you're a Christian and you believe Jesus is the Son of God, then all He said and did is deeply significant to how we live our lives. So it's cool we believe, but God expects more. More than prayer, church attendance, or a list of rules; God asks us for everything. As Richard Stearns pointed out, He requires a total life commitment from those who would be His followers. In fact, Christ calls us to be His partners in changing our world, just as He called the twelve to change their world two centuries ago.
So, the challenge can be wrapped up in two simple commands, not 2,345,345,962:
Luke 10:27, ...'Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your strength with all your mind,' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' I think I might be able to pull this off after all.