Thursday, February 17, 2005

Rice and Beans or Revolution

"'I don't care about your revolution if I can't get rice and beans."

Interesting Article

Speaking of financial stewardship...

Here's a great post from David Batstone at He writes,

"Want some free financial consultation? It won't take more than a few seconds, I promise. And I won't need to review your bank statements, nor even glance at a balance sheet of your assets and liabilities. Yet for at least 90 percent of you, my remedy will be the single most critical step you could take on the road to financial health."

Read more

Thanks to Jordon Cooper for the link.

The Convergence of Ideas and Influences...

There have been several times in my life when I've seen God use a convergence of ideas and influences to shape who I am becoming. This is one of those times. The following factors are coming together to challenge me to be someone different.

- I'm preaching a sermon series on Isaiah. Isaiah's words were addressed to a people who had been blessed with affluence and yet forgot God's care for the poor and oppressed. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

- Friends of mine have been sharing some info from documentaries that they have seen (like this one, this one, or this one) that are opening my eyes to the oppression and exploitation of people around the world.

- Video clips such as this, this, and this, are challenging me to think beyond my safe and secure life.

- An email from my friend Mark Friesen who writes,

"Over the weekend, due to my SS lesson prep, my thoughts were rolling around the issue of sin. We North American evangelicals are so caught up in what I’ll call our “personal piety,” giving all our attention to a handful of virtues and their errant counterparts, that we forget about the societal sins—the sins of our nation, our culture—that have so much greater consequence in the bigger world. We delight in our good stewardship when we find an inexpensive article of fashion clothing, ignoring the fact that it was produced in a sweatshop. Isaiah’s message is clear. When he blasts Israel, it is not for their lack of “personal piety.” They sacrificed at their alters, they practiced good thrift, they had their devotions, they defended traditional family values. And God judged them—destroyed them—because they ignored the (in their time) global concerns of poverty and injustice. We’re accountable just as much, if not more, than they were."

All of these influences are drowning me in an overload of information. I'm fighting to swim to the surface and catch my breath. The question is, "What do I do with all this?" "How does it affect my life in the here and now?" Here are some of my thoughts:

First, I need to live a life that is characterized by repentance. When Isaiah sees God in the temple he realizes the condition of his own heart.

Second, I need to be concerned about my personal "sins" as well as about the "corporate sins" of my country and my economic class. Isaiah said that he was "a man of unclean lips" but he was also concerned that he lived "among a people of unclean lips".

Third, I need to evaluate my financial life, realizing that stewardship is a concept that has many levels, and seek to bring all of those levels under the Lordship of Jesus. Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord speaking and responded.

Fourth, I need to use all my influence to educate and challenge others in regards to the needs in the world and the implications of following Jesus in relation to those needs. "Here am I, send me."

And finally, I need to take concrete action to address the issues that present themselves to me as I live in this place God has called me. "Here am I, send me."

What do you think? How can we live with integrity in a world that has so much need?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Simplicity of Spirituality

I've been thinking alot lately about the spiritual nature of small everyday acts. We often want to do some great and momentous task for God, almost as if we are seeking the "fast track" to Christlikeness. But the reality is that instead of showing us a spiritual "project", God calls us to live our lives as spiritual acts of worship. (Rom. 12:1) The smallest task done for Christ can reap the greatest spiritual reward. What was it that Mother Theresa said?

"We can do no great things alone. We can only do small things with great love."

I also found this quote by Jacques Maritain on the Bruderhof daily dig. He writes,

"Christianity has all too often meant withdrawal and the unwillingness to share the common suffering of humankind. But the world has rightly risen in protest against such piety... The care of another - even material, bodily care - is spiritual in essence. Bread for myself is a material question; bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one."

Jesus call is to serve and love and give to others as a way of serving, loving, and giving to Him. The spirituality of the everyday is a life lived as if everyone around us was Jesus. Simple, but not easy.