Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Obedience is Scary

I've been reading the book Radical lately and it really stirs unrest in me about the church in this country.  We have become so comfortable in our easy American lives that we can justify our prideful, judgemental ways.  We choose to give to worthy causes instead of becoming uncomfortable and actually giving ourselves.  We choose to allow a small group of people who are "called" to be missionaries to meet the needs of the less fortunate or undesirable.  By our inaction we act as the judge of who is worthy of the gospel and message of salvation.

All of this to say that as I read this book and become restless about the American Nightmare that permeates our churches, we too are being pushed and challenged.  An opportunity has presented itself for us to be obedient but I am scared.  If it becomes reality, it will challenge our family's personal comfort.  It will force us into the middle of a difficult situation. 

If we are willing, it can change the life of others.  It provides the opportunity to be a light for those in the depths of life's challenges.  But it will not be easy or comfortable.  My Type A personality worked overtime all night trying to map out the best implementation of the possible situation.  How will everything work?  There is a lot of unknown but all the fears that go through my mind are trivial.  The losses are of this world but the gain is eternal.  What is most ironic is that while I am fearful, my husband is at peace. 

Matthew 28: 19-20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

If I truly want to live radically and live the Great Commission, I need to trust.  The gift of salvation is not just for middle to upper income white American Christians.  We are called to all nations, all races, all income levels, even the roughest areas.  He promises to be with us while we are on this journey.  This opportunity is a test of my faith and trust in God's plan.  For now, we pray and wait to see if we are needed.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Cost of Democracy

I think we all take for granted the fact that we have the right to freely choose who we elect to public office.  Every 4 years, we have the priviledge of making our own personal statement about our views for this country.  Have you ever thought about how much money we spend (or waste) during this important exercise?  The first candidate announced his formation of an exploratory committee for the 2012 presidential election in 2010!  We had barely completed the mid-term elections when the focus turned to the presidential election. 

The presidential election alone cost more than 2 BILLION DOLLARS!  Read that again, that's BILLION with a B! 

What if we took that money and invested it in the greater good?  What if we put limits on how much could be spent for elections and limited the length of the campaigns and amount of tv airtime they could purchase? 

According to UNICEF, there were more than 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005.  UNICEF defines orphans as children who have lost one or more parents.  Of the 132 million orphans, approximately 13 million children have lost both parents.  This doesn't tell you exactly how many children have been abandoned by their families due to death or poverty.

Based on the Samaritan's Purse Gift Catalog, the cost of one American Presidential Election could have:
  • Fed 1 Million hungry babies for a year, plus
  • Provided basic necessities for 500,000 abandoned children, plus
  • Fed 250,000 Sudanese and Congolese families for a year, plus
  • Built wells to provide water to 175 Million people, plus
  • Rescued 1 Million children from exploitation while providing shelter and skills training, plus
  • Given a misquito net to help prevent the death of 800,000 from malaria, plus
  • Built 50,000 family homes, plus
  • Built 10,000 missionary hospitals

Instead of wasting money arguing about our differing views for two years, why can't we agree to voice our opinions openly and then do better with the savings?  Imagine the difference if we limited all those state and local elections as well.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Winnowing Fork

Matthew 3:11-12 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

John the Baptist was not one to mince words with the pharisees.  Calling them a "brood of vipers" is not exactly a warm welcome and the top suggestion to win people.  His warning was real and honest.  Jesus will see through to our hearts, our thoughts, and our intentions.  Our act cannot fool him.  Rereading this passage made me consider the winnowing fork.  I had never noticed the reference before and actually had to look up the definition.

Winnow: to separate or distinguish valuable from worthless parts

We are all the wheat that will be winnowed.  The real question is whether we are the grain or the chaff.  When we are called to account for our lives, what will we have to show for the sacrifice that was made for us?  My life is the master's treasure that has been entrusted in my care.  How will I invest that treasure?  There have been times when the treasure was tarnished by my own selfishness.  Yet other times it has grown dusty from neglect.  The mark of a sound investment is a high level of return yet you can't receive a return without risk.  If I'm not willing to be real, different from this world, and unashamed of my beliefs then I cannot expect a return.  The risks can be high and painful--in some parts of this world, people meet under the cover of darkness just to safely share the gospel.  We may not be fearful of death or imprisonment but if we truly live for Jesus we will suffer loss--friends and family who can't relate and don't understand you anymore, those activities that were "harmless" and "fun" before, just to name a few.

Like the servant who was entrusted with 5 bags of his master's gold and returned to his master 10 bags of gold, I hope to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:14)