Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Funding Fears

From: Worldmag.com, “Obama,” November 15, 2008

Will the nation’s economic storm zap U.S. charities? While the data won’t be in until well after the holiday giving season, the nation’s nonprofits are already bracing for a blow.

World Vision’s Phillipe Guiton, for example, said his group plans to trim hiring, a move that will likely affect the delivery of overseas aid. “What we are going to do now is to issue an order to reduce spending, to delay recruitment, delay purchases of capital assets, etc., until we can see clearer how much our income has dropped,” Guiton said

Other groups, such as Catholic Relief Services and CARE International, say they’re watching to see whether major donors will recover from portfolio shock in time to continue year-end giving at previous levels

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As I read this the words that came to mind were from the Kingdom Prayer (aka. The Lord’s Prayer). “Give us this day our daily bread.” We pray this prayer out of the surplus of our lives. Granted we spend on borrowed money, we often partake in bread bought at a high interest rate but we also play hard and collect toys that are so far superfluous. Though spending may go down this holiday, it is highly unlikely that we will stop to consider if God’s provision really intended we buy the Nintendo Wii go along with our PS3, or to replace our 2006 model Chevy pickup truck with a 2009 because of all the good deals (Here’s a shout out to all my car dealer brothers and sisters in Christ who readily demystify these bogus incentives), or a new doll to sit next to the other five dolls that sit in our daughter’s closet. At the risk of an overgeneralization, it is difficult to imagine that out of the great generosity of God that we operate in this American culture, that we could even consider giving up our contributions that go to aid the poor, the hungry, the widow, the prisoner, etc. OR hold back on our giving in order to protect our own skin as though we have ever had control over this in the history of the world.

In Acts, one of the most challenging stories for us “New Testament Christians” (whatever that means) is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. The story goes like this. This is after Pentecost and the outpouring of Spirit, over 3000 people were saved and daily people were selling everything they had and giving to those who had need. To be sure, radical at best. Enter Ananias and Sapphira. (more…)

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WARNING! All tangents, rants and meaningless opinions (which this is) are barely edited and typically thrown out there without a concern for correct spelling, punctuation or grammar.

Perhaps you are concerned that I would even ask such a question. However, I felt compelled to ask this today because I am amazed how fearful of times we live in. We are quite frankly seemingly afraid of our own shadow. Then again, perhaps it is just me. Perhaps, I am the only one who wants God to make things simplistic for me. I try to define him, to control him, to excuse him, to defend him, to protect him, to make him sound big (as opposed to realizing he is big) and the list could go on. So I ask you, how big is your God?

Well, I must admit for sometime there is another closely connected idea that has been troubling me. It is the idea that people love God but hate religion OR that they love Christ but hate the church. Now, these words at first may bite us a bit, if not make us cringe but let’s really listen to what people are saying when they make such claims. As such, there must be a realization that, while we would rightly say that as the bible defines the church that one cannot possibly hate it and love Christ. Yet, this is not necessarily what I think people are saying. It is my own humble opinion that what they are really saying is that they love what Christ stands for but are extremely questionable about how distinctly different the church (Christ’s body) lives that out. Hence, you hear things like the church is full of a bunch of hypocrites. What I have found this to mean is, they say that we are to be Christlike and yet instead of being sent ones “like sheep among wolves,” they have built bigger and more expensive sheep pens to keep the wolves out. (more…)

So I want to begin a discussion on what is radical living. However, the word radical is not in the Bible and I think we must deal with the reality of this first and foremost. There are many synonyms for radical that I think might give insight to what we mean by radical but for the sake of discussion I will merely list a few and then tell you what I believe is the root of this radical life. Some synonyms are…basal, basic, foundational, fundamental, original, primary, underlying, drastic, extreme, fundamental, heretical, heterodox, original, primitive, revolutionary, thorough-going, unconventional, unorthodox, conservative, derivative, moderate, slight and trifling. However, words such as extreme, drastic, revolutionary are not words used in the Bible but at best are merely alluded to in notions of extreme love, faith, hope, care and ideologies compared to the context of Judaism and Roman ideals. So my argument is that it is virtually impossible to live a radical life in and of itself but that radical can only be the adjective describing something done radically. So what is it in light of scripture. Well, I dare not take the space to prove it now, time does not permit. But, at first glance, one might consider faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love. So in light of a Savior who dies on a cross and has the last words offered to our Father of “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” The question I pose is, What is radical love look like in the following arenas?

1. Christmas

2. Service

3. Discipleship

4. Work

5. Giving

6. Equality

7. Community

8. Other

Today I write with a heavy but joyful heart. Today, I am officially without a grandparent from my side of the family. While Heatherly and I still have one grandmother and one grandfather, in the past two week we have lost my dad’s dad (Dale McDaniel) and my mom’s mom (Sarah Woodruff). We have also lost my cousin Grant Hinds to early and in a tragic way. Death has been ever present. We mourn, we weep and yet for each we are grateful and excited for their new and eternal life. For these, time is no more, only eternity.
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I received and email today, which was later confirmed as false by the one who sent it but nonetheless raises an interesting question. Here is the rumor and the debunking of that rumor.

In short, the rumor has people up in arms about the fact that our government has removed the “In God We Trust” from the new dollar coins. Well, first off this appears to be true but snopes.com reveals that it is actually placed on the side. This brings up the second point, which is that placing it on the side is the first step to removing it all together. Perhaps, this is true. My response would be a gentle, “So What?”

There, I said it. Forgive my cynicism of such notions that this issue even has a slight connection to the mission of the church. Here is my take. First, the irony of “In God We Trust” is thick when you consider, the luxury cars, large homes and huge trusts we set up for our retirement. Sure this is the land of opportunity but opportunity somehow seems to land most often in the lap of those who already have the money to spend. We place more belief in self sustainment than we do in God’s sustenance. “Give us this day our daily bread” seems more a reference to dough from our stocks and interests check than yeast for that day. Meanwhile, the poor child goes without a place to lay his head or food to calm his hunger pains. (more…)

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

– Martin Luther King, JR.

You know when I hear the “I have a dream” and the “Let freedom ring section of MLK, JR. famous speech I am moved deeply by the drive that calls humanity to humility before their (more…)

Pleasantville House

  

There is something in the making that I can’t exactly pinpoint. In this day and age when people commute 1.5+ hours, when bigger fences privatize us form our neighbors and neighbor means the guy who argues over the property boundaries, we sit in the midst of a Pleasantville of sorts. Pleasantville was a movie made in 1998 starring Tobey McGuire, Reese Witherspoon, William Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels and a whole mess of other great actors. In this movie, David and Jennifer Wagner (twins) are mysteriously transported into their TV and find themselves in the black and white world of Pleasantville. if you haven’t seen it, i recommend it highly. If you don’t want to see it check out this article to get a gist of its plot and characters. This little town is our little community we call Savannah.

 

    People in our community have come here with a strong desire to partake in what this community looks like, some sort of Leave it to Beaver community where community is real and relationships can be formed. The trouble is, they don’t know where to start. But they try. Savannah HOA is diligent about creating events and activities for this sort of interaction. The community is built around a centralized clubhouse (aka “the Temple”) where people can enjoy everything from workout facilities, dance, gymnastics, martial arts, ballet and  aerobics classes, fishing, movie theater, basketball, soccer, baseball, paddle boating, swimming (in 1 of 4 pools) and water sliding (down 1 of 2 slides), parks galore, sidewalks everywhere, waterfront properties, dog parks, you name it, it is probably available. It is a place where almost anything is available to the members of the community. And to be sure this is not all bad. Yet, what we find here is conversations and relationships that are dependent upon and centered around the same things. In our Pleasantville, more people gripe about the things they don’t have, the demands the HOA places upon them for upkeep of their houses, their lawns and the restrictions they place on just about everything. Relationships are broken because volunteer HOA committee members are bad mouthed and complained to constantly, which leads both parties down a path of gossip and lies that destroy neighborly relationships. It is an endless cycle that sees no end. It is an endless cycle that even I get sucked into on occasion.

    But wait! Perhaps there is hope for our little Pleasantville. Perhaps, in this little section of the world Christ is moving house by house and through his Spirit working on the lives of people. For on Saturday nights you can find a small gathering of our immediate neighbors, a growing number each week, who choose to sit with one another and grow in Christ. It is a place where the Word breaks forth into the lives of a few, it is a place where true relationships are being formed in the breaking of the bread, Christ’s body and drinking of the wine, Christ’s blood. As each day passes, and we close our eyes having lived each day loving our neighbors, we find that our neighbors are also learning how to love their neighbors. VineLife isn’t about being the marketplace, tough the marketplace principles can and do work for drawing in the crowds. VineLife has not and hopefully never will depend on high-end mailers, a bigger building, a multipurpose building, more events, etc. While I am not knocking any of these things in our churches, I wonder why we need to create these avenues when we have them just down the street already. Instead, VineLife is about the Randalls, the Lowes, the Nelsons, the Husseys, Amy and Todd, Tiphany, the Kecks, the Browns and the McDaniels all living in Christ, learning to love our neighbors and teaching them how to do the same.

    Discipleship for VineLife is about loving God, loving neighbor and raising up followers who will do the same. Is it possible for it to be that simple? We are placing our faith in it. God bless the work you have prepared for your people. Amen.