Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Poem 2014 - Video Blog


video

Here it is:

How do you explain utter disorder in verse,
A year in which every turn felt as curse?
South America to North, with island stops between,
Our gifts beneath our tree, opened and unseen.

We longed to return, and our world to stop spinning,
You granted our wish, perhaps our emotions will cease swimming?
Indeed they did not, Lord where is your peace?
Do you care nothing for the state of these streets?

They filled with protestors and tear gas and burning,
They filled with polluters and tanks ever purring,
We saw and we feared, and we doubted and prayed,
Why, Father, is your mercy delayed?

We were ripped away once more, how could this be?
We were no longer able to taste, to smell, to see.
God be with us, with all our hearts, we cry,
Hoping against hope, that you would be nearby.

We felt not your presence, nor sensed your love,
We seemed abandoned, only clouds reigned above.
Homeless we bounced, our hope ever fading,
Were all those that claimed Jesus just faking?

The tears began rolling, our hearts ever broken,
Our hugs became tighter, our words wiser spoken.
We looked to you Lord, knowing not what we'd find,
We felt perhaps you truly never had us in mind?

We found that you wept, and you cried and you grieved,
Every tear that we shed, you shed your own and received
Our doubts and our anger and frustration and madness,
You received them with joy and not sadness.

You opened your arms, and into your embrace we fell,
We remember slowly why we love the story you tell,
Of a world in deep hurt, and a dream ever fading,
Yet with you God, into our morass bravely wading.

"God with us", you were aptly named,
A new kingdom, and salvation you rightly claimed.
Joy to the world, we have longed to sing,
Yet to our lips those words we could not bring.

Now here we are, peace of soul drawing near,
Holding you dearly as King, we have nothing to fear.
Your love knows no bounds, your grace limitless,
Finally, we may rest, ending our hyper vigilance.

You will guide our steps, though we know not the way,
We find our hope in you Father, and with true hearts we say,
Thank you for grief, thank you for pain,
Thank you for growth, and for character gained.

Thank you for heartbreak, thank you for sorrow,
Thank you for mourning, and a hope for tomorrow.
You are the one, our voices rise in song,
You are the one, in whom we belong!

Your peace you establish, through pain and despair,
We've learned joy and grief make a formidable pair
It's the way you redeem, the way of the cross,
You, above all, know the misery of loss.

You sent your Son, the king to the earth,
And lay in a manger, after the Virgin's birth,
You took on the pain and the hurt and the grief,
You took our sins on the cross, and the world found relief.

You suffered for us, by the grief that you bore,
You gave us redemption, and yet something more,
This year you have taught us a secret seldom obtained,
It is through suffering that your kingdom is gained.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

But HOW can we put Christ back into Christmas?

Yesterday I talked a bit about who the Christ actually was expected to be.  This is important because if we decry the removal of Christ from Christmas we should probably know what we are so upset about.

The Christ was 1. The true king, and 2. the Rescuer from pagan enemies.

What does this mean for us today?  How can we put Christ back into Christmas?  Let's start with our deep need for him.

We want a true king, a good, wise ruler of the world.  We yearn for it.  Many of us cry for it.

Think about how we reacted when "king-like" figures take power.  When President Obama took office in 2008, tears were shed and celebration ensued for some.  Their hopes had come true, a real leader will take them where they want to go.

Or think about how Cleveland reacted when their "king," Lebron James, came home.  "We will finally win!  Our championship drought will finally end!"  He returned, and hope came with him.  Whether this hope is misplaced is for another time, but hope he brought.

And we need rescuing from the evils of our current day.  We yearn for the "powers that be" to have their chains broken and smashed.  We want freedom and rescue.  We want our enemies destroyed, and our people esteemed.

So when we ask others to "put Christ back in Christmas" I suggest we  remind ourselves, and of course others as well, what we are actually saying.

"Put Christ back in Christmas" = 
1. Put the king back on his throne!  Look to the only one who can fulfill all of our hopes and dreams, the only in whom our hopes will not be misplaced.  Look to the humble king who lays down his life for his subjects.  Look to the loving king who welcomes all the destitute and broken and hurting and poor.  What a king!
and
2. Remember the rescue.  We have all been found guilty of the evil we despise.  We find ourselves selfish and manipulative, greedy and debased.  We justify the way we hurt others, and we approve of that which brings pain and hurt to the world.  We do this knowingly and unknowingly.  But one has stooped down to our level to redeem even us!  Because of his rescue, we no longer need to give into our greed.  Our Gollum-ness has been loved ultimately.  The rescuer has not cast us away, but welcomed us home, and in this new home we have unlimited love and approval.

Those two realities are what I want put back into Christmas.  I want those two stories told.

All that to say, yes, I'm in league with the ragamuffins calling for the "putting of Christ back into Christmas."  Let's just put the right one back in.

And then let's live it out faithfully.


Monday, December 22, 2014

What does it mean to put Christ back in Christmas?


Sometimes I get confused about the outrage against the naming of this holiday.

"You can't call it X-mas!  That's taking Jesus out of it!"
"You can't say just Happy Holidays!  This is a celebration of Jesus!  Say Merry CHRISTmas!"

We christians seem determined to make this holiday our own.  All you pagan liberals can go get your own holiday.  Never mind that we sort've stole it from you in the first place (see pre-christian winter solstice celebrations with yule logs and gift giving). 

Anyways, I think the attempt to have the celebration of christmas be centered mainly around the Christ is usually good-hearted.

But I've wondered often if many of us are even sure what we're saying when we beckon for saying Merry Christmas vs Happy Holidays.  Do we even know who or what Christ is and means?

To rule out a startlingly prevalent road I must say straightaway that no, Christ was not the last name of Jesus.  It does not surprise me, though, that this is all the further people grasp in their understanding of the phrase.

Again, to say Jesus Christ is not to say the full-name of Jesus.  Rather, to say Christ is to state the job title of this Jesus.  Of course, one may use Jesus Christ as a proper name for Jesus and that is totally acceptable, but it probably leads to a misunderstanding of who the Christ was.

He is Jesus that is the Christ.  If we could just write that in everywhere Jesus Christ comes up it would give our understanding of the phrase a great deal more clarity.

Here's a definition from Matthew for Everyone:

Messiah
The Hebrew word means literally ‘anointed one’, hence in theory either a prophet, priest or king. In Greek this translates as Christos; ‘Christ’ in early Christianity was a title, and only gradually became an alternative proper name for Jesus. In practice ‘Messiah’ is mostly restricted to the notion, which took various forms in ancient Judaism, of the coming king who would be David’s true heir, through whom YHWH would rescue Israel from pagan enemies. There was no single template of expectations. Scriptural stories and promises contributed to different ideals and movements, often focused on (a) decisive military defeat of Israel’s enemies and (b) rebuilding or cleansing the Temple. The Dead Sea Scrolls speak of two ‘Messiahs’, one a priest and the other a king. The universal early Christian belief that Jesus was Messiah is only explicable, granted his crucifixion by the Romans (which would have been seen as a clear sign that he was not the Messiah), by their belief that God had raised him from the dead, so vindicating the implicit messianic claims of his earlier ministry.

So who is the Christ (or rather, what is true of the hoped-for one that will be the Christ)?  One who would do two things:

1. Be the true king.

2. Rescue Israel from pagan enemies (Rome in the first century)

Why is this important?  For a reason other than the obvious that to tell others to "put Christ back into Christmas" we should probably first at least know what we're saying?

I'd like to pause here and leave the implication to you.

Having looked a bit at what "Christ" actually means, how does that change the outcry for you?  What does putting the "Christ" back into Christmas actually mean?

Friday, December 19, 2014

One future decision I DONT want to make

At this point of our year, we are beginning to have conversations about our future.

What should we do?  Where should we go?  What are we passionate about?  How are we gifted?  What would be fun?  What gets us out of bed in the morning?  Do we want to be close to family?  Do we want to home-school?  What constitutes God's call?  Where is God calling us?  Where are we most needed?  Where is the world most hurting?

Those are but a tiny sampling of the questions we are currently pondering.

But what I would love to do now, is share with you one decision we desire deeply to not make.

Adoniram Judson wrote a letter to missionaries on June 25, 1832.  This is what he said:




"Beware of the greater reaction which will take place after you have acquired the language, and become fatigued and worn out with preaching the gospel to a disobedient and gainsaying people.  You will sometimes long for a quiet retreat, where you can find a respite from the tug of toiling at native work--the incessant, intolerable friction of the missionary grindstone.  And Satan will sympathize with you in this matter; and he will present some chapel of ease, in which to officiate in your native tongue, some government situation, some professorship, or editorship, some literary or scientific pursuit, some supernumerary translation, or, at least, some system of schools; anything, in a word, that will help you, without much surrender of character, to slip out of real missionary work.  Such a temptation will form the crisis of your disease.  If your spiritual constitution can sustain it, you recover; if not, you die."

I read this, and to be totally honest, I threw the book about 15 feet across the room.

See, when I really think about it, I want a cushy, easy life.  I want a big yard, with a basketball hoop.  I want a swimming pool, and a maid.  I want a job that feels like anything but work; one that makes me wake up each morning with an extra pep in my step.  I want to live in a safe, close-knit community where the biggest drama is who is bringing what for the next block party potluck.  I want a huge personal library--think the castle from Beauty and the Beast--where I can invite long-time friends over for deep conversation and some hot-beverage.  That shiny new iPhone?  I'll take it!

I want my geese to lay golden eggs for Easter.  I want a feast…. I want the world.  I want the whole world!

video

Now, here me, having nice things or a job that makes me spring out of bed are not necessarily bad.  They just aren't always, or even usually, the Christian thing.

We will not make a decision to settle for things of this world.  We will make no bargains or surrender our character.  We will not take a cushy job just because it will mean a lack of hardship or pain or grief.  We will refuse to make our next life decision based on comfort or ease.

We will not make the decision to go the easy route.

We are so tempted to just take life easy, go ahead and grab that white picket fence, take those extra vacations.

But we just cannot do so faithfully -- not long term anyways.

The world is in too much pain, and we have seen it.  The gospel is too powerful and far too good, and we have tasted it.  The need is too great, and we have felt it deeply.  And God's glory is far too valuable for us to cheapen it by living our lives in any manner but a full-throttle, pedal to the medal, carry-our-cross-come-what-may sort of manner.

God is far too good for any other sort of life-response.

Would you consider joining us in not making a decision about your life for comfort or ease?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I woke up in the airport this morning

Exactly one year ago today.  We woke up in the Maracaibo airport after having been detained when trying to re-enter Venezuela.



That was a year ago.  It's hard to believe.  It feels like so long ago since so much has happened since then.  But yet, it feels like yesterday.  I distinctly remember what it felt like to start pulling stuff out of our suitcases to make a make-shift bed for our kids to lie down on a cold airport floor.  I remember asking permission to go get food for me and the kids.  I remember them deciding to move us and feeling relief when we had an area with couches and airport seats to sleep on.  My kids could sleep on a couch instead of a floor.

Want to revisit our post from last year?  Check out this video.

I remember that next morning after a terrible nights sleep (flights coming in, passengers staring at us, people going in and out of the bathroom that was right by us).  We would let the kids run up and down the open hall area and they didn't say anything about us not being allowed to.  I remember talking to the embassy and them making sure we were all safe.

I distinctly remember that the U.S. consulate eventually coming and having us fill out prisoner forms.  "I know you're not prisoners," he kept saying.  "But it's the only form I have, so that way I have all of your information."  That wasn't very reassuring since we practically felt like prisoners.

That day at the airport went surprisingly well.  The kids enjoyed their time with the team.  We tried to play some games and watched some movies on laptops.  The beauty of being with Stinters who bring dvds.  And we snacked on some food we were bringing back with us, Cheez-its and Cheerios.  There were probably others.

This is all a bit crazy to think about.  This was our life just a year ago.  And yet it feels like some bad movie I watched and then forgot about.  But it was real.  And it changed things.  Changed our plans.  Changed our hearts even.  Maybe.

Our lives are incredibly different now.  We went to Epcot last night for the Candlelight Processional with our life group.  As we were walking out amidst the glow of Christmas lights and music, Bart said, "I can't believe this is our lives right now."  And he's right.  How much things can change in a year.  We're grateful.  Grateful for our current reality of slowing down and healing.  Grateful for time invested in the here and now and not planning for the future.

But yet, I'm oddly somehow grateful for the deportation.  For the Lord taking that and using it.  Sometimes I need knocked upside the head before I see what he's trying to do.  Trying to change my heart and my attitude.  Trying to give me a better view of him and allowing me the grace the be frustrated and broken and even scared.  I'm not sure that he's trustworthy to me right now, but I am beyond thankful that I have a God who let's me be in process and imperfect.  Because I sure do bring a lot of that to the table.

-Melissa

Friday, December 12, 2014

Two things that changed my life

When I was 20 years old at a retreat these two realities rocked my world.  I've never been the same.

video

First, we are all crackpots.  I don't need to pretend anymore.  God's grace is sufficient.

video

And second, this generation of students, really could change the world.  We really can.

I love that guy.  Just watching these videos makes me heart beat faster.  I hope you enjoy them.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Should you tell the kids the truth about Santa?



I've debated about this post for a while.  This just seems to be one of those sticky situations that Christians love to make a much bigger deal than it probably is in reality.

I remember being asked in third grade when I found out Santa wasn't real.  Call me naive, or whatever, but the question had never even occurred to me.  Was he real or not?  Huh?

I still wonder if it even matters to a child.  Is the fear of under-the-bed-monsters lessened because we have a conversation with our little ones explaining that they don't exist?  Is the excitement of finding easter eggs less because they know the Easter Bunny is fake?  Probably not.

Before I dive into what we're telling our kids, indulge me a bit with a preface:

NT Wright says that, "In a complicated, confused, and dangerous world, anything will serve as a guardrail for people blundering along in the dark.  We oversimplify complex problems.  We bundle up very different social and political issues into two packages, and with a sigh of relief--now at least we know who we are, where we stand!--we declare ourselves to be in favor of this package and against that one.  And we make life uncomfortable for anyone who wants to sit loose, to see things differently."

I believe that the way we approach Santa with our kids, and our fervor to figure it out, falls into this scheme.  Do we tell them Santa exists or not?  Will it lead to idolatry?  Will it stunt our kids imagination if we tell them the truth?  We cannot just say nothing!  We have to figure out what is the truly biblical and Christian thing to do!

Or we pass judgment -- You're not telling your kids that Santa isn't real?  Aren't you afraid they'll become little legalists, always wanting to do good so Santa will give them presents?

Pause and consider this: Does Santa Claus exist or not?

I'll wait.  Seriously, stop reading and think about it.  How would you answer?

If you have answered No, then you are a good rationalist.  And you are right.  Of course he doesn't exist in time and space.  There is no North Pole village with little elves running around in his workshop.  He makes no lists, nor does he check them twice.  And since he doesn't exist, of course he doesn't know if you've been naughty or nice.

If you have answered Yes, then you are a myth-believer.  And you are right too.  Of course he exists.

Wait, what?  He does?

Yeah, he really does.  This figure, whether he occupies actual space in actual time or not, has the power to control the actions of children -- No child wants Santa to bring them that infamous lump of coal.  Santa brings enormous joy and celebration every year on December 25th as children, through imagination or faith or belief or whatever you want to call it, jubilantly open gift after gift "from Santa."

He is a story.  And as a story, he has power and very real and true existence.

Imagine you are walking into your house.  Startlingly you hear a blood-curdling scream come from you neighbor's house.  "Don't hurt me!!"

What do you do?

Well, if you believe it is your duty and honor to care for you neighbor, you may call the police.

If it turns out the date is October 31st, you may reason the scream is a Halloween prank and brush it off.

Or if it's April 1st?

Or the scream just seems in line with the sort of joke your neighbors routinely pull?

You have choices to make, and a story to live in.  What actually happened, of course, is really and truly important.  But one story would be paramount.  You could not live with yourself if your neighbor was indeed being abused.  Of course you'll dial the police, you must.

So, what does this have to do with anything, and what do we tell our kids about Santa?

If you must, tell them that, yes, from one point of view Santa exists in a very real sense.  As does the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy for that matter.  They are powerful stories which lead to real life and cultural shaping realities.

Yet, again only if you must, tell them that, no, those mythical figures do not, in fact, exist.  Yet that hardly diminishes their power.

But them tell them the supreme story.  Answer the real questions behind their actual questions.

Tell them that we are all aching, deep in our core, to be awakened and found in a grand and great tale.  We want to know that we matter, that our life is about more than just dust and particles.  We all want deeply to believe in myth, where the good guys triumph and the bad guys are destroyed.

We want these things because we were created that way.

And, little child, because of this strong desire within us, sadly, we will not only believe loads of stories that just aren't true, we will give these stories power and authority over us.

Remember the Golden Calf?  Was it a real God that led them out of Egypt?  Of course not, but they believed it, and even violently celebrated its truth.

Does Santa exist or not, dear child?  It depends what you mean.

But you know what?  One person truly did exist in time and space, different from all others.  This is the person from whom we base our Calendar year.  Did you know that?

This person declared all our dreams and hopes were coming true!  Peace and mercy and love and joy were coming!  Pain and tears were to vanish!  He said our loving God was coming into His kingdom!

Joy to the World, we sing, the Lord has come!  Let earth receive her king!  Heaven and nature are singing!  Fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains are all in resounding praise.  Thorns no longer infest the ground.  The blessings of our King have come to us all!

This King has declared that you are completely forgiven and loved!  He longs to embrace you, to cherish you, to be with you, and to love you deeply.  He gives you all this for free!

Now, my little child, never mind the question of Santa's existence or not.  Which story would you want to live in?

Monday, December 08, 2014

How my belief in heaven is being corrected

My dog ate the post I was supposed to do nearly a week ago.

Scroll down a bit to see my previous, and far too lengthy, introduction to this topic.

1 Corinthians 15 is a marvelous chapter.  It is filled with a difficult and fascinating discussion regarding our bodies and our death and our fate beyond the grave.

I'll suppress the temptation to talk about the whole chapter and just say that it is mainly about resurrection.

Now, at the very end of a chapter on resurrection, if you grew up spiritually in an environment similar to mine, you would expect something like this:

"Therefore, stand firm and hope for the future!  For everything will eventually be made right.  We will be in Heaven, and everything will be perfect."

The world is bad, heaven awaits us, and we must just wait and hope for that day to come.  Right?

Well, Paul actually says this:

1Cor. 15:58    Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Because of the resurrection, work hard?  Because your labor is not in vain?

This is the aspect of hope, so present in this passage from Paul, that I was missing.

Since, in Christ, we are to be in resurrected bodies one day, work hard.  Not wait, and just sit around for God to make everything right in Heaven one day, but work because it's surely not in vain.

Every single act done in Christ will somehow be redeemed in our resurrected state.  How?  I have no idea, but I'm not sure that it entirely matters for the moment.  What does matter, is that saying every single thing I do in Christ will be redeemed is vastly and drastically different than saying that only winning souls for Heaven will last.

Jesus' business is about the redemption and resurrection of all things.  Our work towards these all things is not in vain, and will be honored, somehow, at the end.  This is a motivating, hopeful, and powerful reality that has been sinking into my heart over the last 5 years.

During the protesting in Venezuela (or the deportation, or teachers' strikes, or the death of a president, or presidential elections…) we were almost completely unable to do traditional campus ministry.  We could not get on campus, hold small group bible studies, have spiritual conversations, facilitate english clubs or anything else that we would have hoped.

If Heaven/Hell were all that mattered, then our work was mostly in vain.

But Paul says that everything done in Christ is surely not in vain.  How is it not in vain?  Well that's not necessarily for us to know -- it's ours just to know that our work is not in vain.  It matters.  Everything we do matters.

We were paralyzed during the rioting and protesting.  We were stuck in our apartment complexes, unable to get on campus.  We needed a fresh vision of God moving and redeeming things even in the midst of that.

Think of all that God could have done!  We could have held prayer meetings with students about the state and future of their country.  We could have lovingly embraced those in our neighborhood in new and creative ways.  We could have invited these hurting people into our homes, sharing our american goodies, our peanut butter, and just listened as they convey the pain of their current reality.  We could have opened our pantries free for anyone needing milk, or toilet paper, or sugar -- all things in shallow supply.  We could have held children's programs or reading programs or english lessons in our apartment complex for these people starving for a diversion.  We could have held a movie night for our building, and used our ministry expenses to provide popcorn and soda.  We could have facilitated open forums on the political realities, giving no opinions whatsoever, but just creating a place for ideas to be discussed peacefully and carefully.  We could have offered to host a dinner-party in which we study God's word and pray for peace and harmony together.

Some of those things we did, and they were surely not in vain.  Others I wish we would have done.

Because eternity matters, and not just because souls will go to Heaven.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

My Belief in Heaven is a problem

I thought about titling this post "I have an eschatological problem" but I was worried how that would be perceived, and not only because my guess is that most people don't even know what eschatology is.

I have talked about this briefly before but I think that I'm finding, during this grieving time, that some of my misconceptions and misguided beliefs are deeper and more firmly entrenched in my thinking than I had previously thought.  Let me explain.

The way I grew up spiritually was in a culture that regularly asked a few questions:

1. If you were to die today, how sure are you that you would go to heaven?

2. Do you know where you're going after you die?

3. If you were standing before God after you die and he asked you why he should let you into heaven, what do you think you would say?

4. Would you like to know how to get to heaven?
4b. Would you like to know how to avoid hell?

These were presented to me as normal, everyday conversational questions that helped to engage people in conversations about how they can come to know Jesus personally, and thus be saved.

I now believe that all of these questions are pretty seriously misleading.

First, as I first heard from NT Wright but have since heard elsewhere, "heaven is important, but it's not the end of the world."

Heaven is simply not what Christianity is all about.  To begin a conversation in which we are trying to present the Christian belief to an outsider by appealing to heaven and hell is at best naive and at worst an arm-twisting scare tactic.

The Christian belief, nuanced of course, is about the inauguration of the kingdom of God through Jesus' death and resurrection for the redemption of the entire cosmos.  Thus, the ultimate hope of a Christian is not to go to heaven when we die (as we seem to think from our questioning), but the renewal and redemption of all things.

In being trained with those sets of questions, I had come to believe, ultimately, that heaven is the whole ball of wax, so to speak.  I had begun to believe that getting people to heaven was the mark of a "true Christian" and that "saving souls for eternity" took precedence and importance over everything else.

I would've wholeheartedly agreed with stuff like this:


This stuff motivated me.  "I want to be about Jesus' business!  I want to save souls for eternity."  I would take giant "steps of faith," trusting God to show up and redeem those "lost" people for whom he died.

But "saving souls," is a very poor way of describing His business.  Redeeming and recreating broken people is undoubtedly the crowning achievement in His business.  But it is through these "saved" Spirit-filled new believers that His whole business is accomplished, and that whole business is the redemption of all things.  In other words, yes, saving souls is Jesus' business, but so is the abolition of hunger, and the ceasing of violence, and the removal of pain, and the destruction of all things evil.  And lest you think the redemption of humanity is just one cog in the wheel remember that God's intention was to always use "saved souls" to wisely steward and usher in the renewal and redemption of the cosmos.  His business isn't to rescue people from the clutches of hell so much as to rescue people into a truly human, vibrant way of life in His kingdom -- working, praying, and living through the Spirit.

See how that's different than "would you like to go to heaven when you die?"  Heaven is hardly even a part of the plan.

My unconscious belief that heaven and hell were the main aspects of Christianity led me to an unhealthy understanding of hope.  Also faith.

The Christian hope, or so I thought, was that we would see souls saved from hell and into a relationship with Jesus.

This hope was the motivation for my action.  Not the sole motivation, but a rather big one.  I wanted to do ministry, to raise up students to be Christ-centered laborers -- laborers, mind you, in the business of saving souls from hell.

I must pause here and say something clearly: This motivation is not a bad one.  The desire to rescue someone from a possible eternal damnation is not a misplaced desire.  It is virtuous and noble.  I still have it, actually.  It's just not as big of a motivation as before.

But the emphasis of that desire to rescue souls led to me placing a bunch of expectations on God.

I expected God to save people.  How could he not?  Did he want some to perish for eternity?
I expected to be reaping eternal rewards -- this meant I expected conversions, and more people being exposed to the gospel.

My hope was that God would rescue people through our ministry.  So, when things started to get tough for me in ministry, I had little wiggle room in my hope.  If we weren't seeing more people make decisions to accept Christ, or seeing disciples grow in their passion to see others accept Christ, I had a tough time seeing what God was doing.  Is he moving at all if we are not seeing people place their trust in Him?

I thought, "If people are still damned for eternity in hell, does it really matter what happens on the fringes of life?"

Does the election matter?  Does the environment matter?  Does it even matter if someone is poor, or homeless, or jobless, or widowed, if their eternal destiny is still in question?

I'd like to pause here to ask, does this resonate with you?
Have you struggled in ministry when it didn't seem as though God was as committed to rescuing souls as you were?
Can you relate with wondering if care for the environment, or the homeless is really as important as rescuing souls?

Tomorrow I'd like to post about how my hope is being corrected, and not for the first time.

Monday, December 01, 2014

#GivingTuesday

Yes, I have a hashtag in the title.  I'm officially social-media savvy.


Tomorrow is a really cool day:

video

Normally, for whatever reason, I tend to shy away from mass-produced overly-emphasized hallmarkish holidays.  Sweetest day is the worst.

Yet tomorrow has the potential to be a really redemptive day, and for that reason I'm excited to both advertise for it and promote it in the future.

I trumpet this all the time, but I believe it's worth it every time.  Genesis 12:1-3 says this:

“The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
'I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'"

In this critical section of scripture God lays out his general calling to man: You will be blessed so that you will be a blessing.  We are won by Christ, not to sit on clouds and play harps, but to serve God in being a blessing to a hurting world.

Your giving is a blessing to a hurting world.  Any giving, for that matter, is a blessing to a hurting world.
Christians are people that are actively bringing and being a blessing to a hurting world. Tomorrow is a fun opportunity to give back.
Please consider dedicating some time tomorrow to giving back.  And consider dedicating some of your money and resources to a cause which blesses the world.