Friday, November 28, 2008

Disgusting

So coming off of the Micah Project and the Sustenance Diet, I had a new perspective on this Thanksgiving.  And then I read about a 34 year old Wal-mart employee who was killed Friday morning...killed by stampeding customers who literally trampled him to death.  Apparently, "dozens" of store employees tried to help the man but were also being trampled.  I'm disgusted.  Literally, disgusted.  What were these people after?  To quote the article;


Items on sale at the store included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.

So, a few people were in line for an $800 TV and everyone else beyond that was waiting for some special deal of $69 or less?  And for that, the crowd trampled and killed someone?

So why am I posting these thoughts on a blog about worship?  Honestly, I don't know...I just had to say something.  I guess because this type of American behavior is so opposite of where God has led me the past month.  We have SO MUCH; and the thought of waiting in line 8 hours and then trampling somone so I can save $50 on an HDTV is just so disgusting.  It's heart-wrenching.  Most of the world lives on $2 a day, and here we are killing people over a TV or a video game or a movie...which leads me to be reminded of "the weightier matters of the law," mercy, justice.  I guess because I'm so heart-broken over such a senseless loss of life.  I pray that God is somehow able to work good in this situation...and that somehow, we will never let this happen again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Evidence...

Scripture teaches us that all of creation worships God...here are some more pictures of that worship; from Yellow Knife, Yukon, Canada.  One of my dreams would be to see the Northern Lights in person someday...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Check out...

For those looking for more thoughts on our church's Micah Project, check out this blog (www.micahproject68.blogspot.com) and read the cool stories.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sustenance

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  (Micah 6:8)

Our church is doing something I'm so proud to be part of; it's called "The Micah Project."  The purpose of the project is to focus on world hunger, poverty and disease (think AIDS pandemic) and to respond with action.  Part of the project calls for a 6 day long "sustenance diet" where you limit what you eat for 6 days to rice and beans (flavored with tomatoes, onions and salt), bread, water, 1 apple a day and plain cream of wheat.  I did this diet last week to "test it out" before we brought it to our congregation and here are some observations I had...

1) I eat for pleasure...put simply, I'm a selfish eater.  I love to eat and look forward to it every day.  I plan my days around food and drink and won't think twice about grabbing a latte or other snack.  Much of the world eats simply to fill their stomachs...they eat for sustenance.  For them, eating is about as pleasurable as breathing...you just do it because you have to in order to live.  During the diet I was so aware of this fact...all the pleasure was taken out of eating.

2) No options.  The diet was all about limiting our options.  In the U.S., I have grown up with so many options.  All around me are eating options.  Want to go out to eat?  Ok; you want Mexican, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Vietnamese, Spanish Tapas?  Oh, you want to eat at home?  Ok; do you want a Burger, Steak, Pizza, Fish - salmon, halibut, talapia - Pasta, Chicken?  Oh, you want chicken; you want it boiled, grilled, breaded, cut into a sauce, chicken parmesian, chicken cordon bleu, or chicken alfredo?  You get the idea - we have limitless options.  During this diet I was so aware that my options were, well, to eat or not to eat.

3) It was hard.  I've been a pastor for about 8 years now and during that time I have had many days of fasting and prayer - fasting for a day is much easier than this diet was.  It's the same thing over and over again.  In fact, as the week grew on, I stopped eating my full allotment of food simply because I was sick of it.  On the last day I skipped lunch altogether...I just couldn't eat another bowl of rice & beans.

I doubt I will ever look at food the same...God has allowed me to enjoy things, like food, and that's O.K.   However, His desire for justice and mercy are much more important to Him than my desire for comfort.  This thanksgiving I will be more thankful then ever...but I will also be changed.  My wife and I are already trying to figure out how we can give more, help more and put into practice the things that are important to God's heart.


"If you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God.  If you want to find yourself in the center of God's heart, you will find it in His passion for mercy and justice...Leaders that matter to God are those that are addressing issues and things that matter to God."  (Gary Haugen, President of the International Justice Mission)


Click here to read about our "Micah Project."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Today is Veteran's Day and I just wanted to take a moment to thank the many men and women who sacrificed so much to defend our nation.
I spent part of today attending our Primetimers lunch, during which a portion of time was set aside to honor our Veterans.

Many things struck me today, one of which was the fact the that every man and woman who has ever served has a story to tell. I got to sit next to one of our Veterans who served as a lab technician in a "mobile hosptial" all over the South Pacific. He would see 200-300 patients dropped off to them at a time. He described it as being similar to "M.A.S.H." but without the humor. They would do their best with what they had; (imagine treating wounded soldiers without the aid of penicillin, antibiotics and many of the other medicines we take for granted). The surgeons would treat as many soldiers as they could until their surgical instruments were all used. They would then crash on a cot for a quick nap or meal while the instruments were cleaned and sterilized, and would then repeat the cycle.

In addition to the physical hardships, many of our soldiers, like this gentleman, were recently married and/or had families they left behind. Imagine being a newlywed or having children and seeing your husband/father shipped to New Guinea, or some other remote country...no telephones, no emails, no internet, the only form of contact being written letters.

This was just one part of his story, and only one of many stories I heard today. Some I saw still bear wounds they suffered to defend our freedoms; some paid the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives. My question is this; on this Veteran's Day, have you taken the time to remember? If not, take a moment and thank a Veteran today...and if you have time, ask them for their story.

I went to lunch today not expecting to be impacted the way I was; and so I say to our Veterans, "thank you." Thank you for serving, for fighting, for sacrificing so much, and we stand today on your shoulders.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Awesomeness of God

These pictures are an amazing reminder of the power of God in nature. These are actual pictures of a lightning storm meeting a volcanic eruption in Chile. You can read about the event here.





Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More from Romans (15:1-3)

Just read this passage at the beginning of Romans 15 and three things jumped right out at me;

""hose of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?" 3-6That's exactly what Jesus did. He didn't make it easy for himself by avoiding people's troubles, but waded right in and helped out."

1) Christianity is not a solo endeavor
2) Strength = Service
3) Jesus' example was deep involvement in people's lives, including their troubles

First, it is not possible to have a faith that is "private." A disciple of Christ will be one who emulates Christ; and Jesus Christ set the example by devoting a huge part of his life to his disciples. Paul echoes this sentiment here, telling all of those who are strong in the faith to help those who are weaker in the faith.

Second is that the bottom line of this type of faith is the simple equation; strength = service. This is something that is counter-intuitive; we tend to think of strength as power, leadership, command, demanding of respect and honor; again, Jesus sets the example with the equation that the greatest will be those who serve - or in other words, as Paul put it here, strength = service.

Third is perhaps the toughest challenging; wading right into people's messes and helping them. Again, this is the example that Jesus set for us. Where would I be if He didn't decide to come and enter into the mess of my sin and deliver me? So the challenge is for us to be involved in the lives of others and to lend a hand, serving them, and wading right in to help out.

Where are you? Where am I? Am I increasing my "greatness" by "serving?" Am I mentoring, discipleing those who are faltering? Am I willing to get "messy" and wade right into people's troubles?

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