Acts announces, “God is afoot!”Is he still? we wonder. Would God do with us what he did with his first followers?Heaven knows we hope so. These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations. Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade. And in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases. More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities. As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles. Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.Yet in the midst of the wreckage, here we stand, the modern-day version of the Jerusalem church. You, me., and our one-of-a-kind lifetimes and once-in-history opportunity.Ours is the wealthiest generation of Christians ever. We are bright, educated, and experienced. We can travel around the world in twenty-four hours or send a message in a millisecond. We have the most sophisticated research and medicines at the tips of our fingers. We have ample resources. A mere 2 percent of the world’s grain harvest would be enough, if shared to erase the problems of hunger and malnutrition around the world. There is enough food on the planet to offer ever person twenty five hundred calories of sustenance a day. We have enough food to feed the hungry.And we have enough bedrooms to house the orphans. Here’s the math. There are 145 million orphans worldwide. Nearly 236 million people live in the United States call themselves Christians. From a purely statistical standpoint, American Christians by themselves have the wherewithal to house every orphan in the world.Of course, many people are not in a position to do so. They are elderly, infirm, unemployed, or simply feel no call to adopt. Yet what if a small percentage of them did? Hmmm, let’s say 6 percent. If so, we could provide loving homes for more than 14.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. Among the noble causes of the church, how does that one sound? ”Americans Stand Up For AIDS Orphans.” Wouldn’t that headline be a welcome one?I don’t mean to oversimplify these terrible complicated questions. We can’t just snap our fingers and expect the grain to flow across borders or governments to permit foreign adoptions. Polices stalemate the best of efforts. International relations are strained. Corrupt officials snag the system, I get that.But this much is clear: the storehouse is stocked. The problem is not in the supply; the problem is in the distribution. God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering.A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month. Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler? Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism? Question 3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?I didn’t mind the first two questions. They were hypothetical. I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine. But the third question has kept me awake at night. I do live today; so do you. We are given a choice…an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life? What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church? This tiny sect expanded into a world-changing force. We still drink from their wells and eat from their trees of faith. How did they do it? What can we learn from their priorities and passion?Let’s ponder their stories…Let’s examine (them) through the lens of this prayer: Do it again, Jesus. Do it again. After all, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2.10 NLT). We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in (the age to come), but here (and now).Here’s a salute to a long life: goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath. May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.
Archive for the 'Christian Living' Category
The following is a poem that Peter Taaffe presented at our winter teen camp (Dec. 27-30). It is call to live for God with all our hearts rather than falling into lukewarmness.
Most of us dodge life doing good deeds,
Sitting comfy on the couch flipping channels on the tv.
While others are dying for what they believe,
We sit and complain about the things we receive.
But it’s more than that, and hopefully you’ll see,
It about the father and son who died for you and me.
Can’t you see, it ain’t fiction its reality, those were real teardrops,
The following was inspired by Romans 12.11
τῇ σπουδῇ μὴ ὀκνηροί not holding back in zeal τῷ πνεύματι ζέοντες burning with the spirit
Just imagine visiting an old church
partly filled with pallid attendees
who would much rather do something else,
anything else, than linger on there.
Because of some invisible force,
a kind of inescapable pull,
they find themselves week after dull week
repeating the same dead exercise
None of them enjoys the tedium
nor do they have the courage to leave.
They are not sinners, nor are they saints.
They risk little, they suffer little.
Today is election day in the United States. I am not writing this post to get into the debate of whether or not Christians should vote, as I know there are many opinions on that. I’m writing this instead to hopefully stir our minds up to consider how we will be late tonight, or tomorrow when the final tallies are made.
This current political season has been one of the most divisive and polarizing in this nation’s history. I have seen Christians vocal in support of their candidate. And I have seen Christians vocal in supporting their candidate, who just happens to be the other guy. So now I ask, O followers of the Messiah:
One of the rather astounding – and potentially confusing – passages in Scripture is contained in John chapter 14. The context of this passage is that Jesus is speaking with the 11 faithful disciples, after the last supper. Basically, Jesus is giving the disciples information about the things that he will do, after he is crucified and resurrected. Then, Jesus makes these statements:
John 14:13-14 (ESV):
13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
In our modern, American context we may assume that idols are not as prevalent as they were in the ancient world. It is true that we don’t see temples on each street devoted to a mythological deity or communal idol, but idolatry is rampant in our world nonetheless. Those things competing with our affections for the God and Father of Jesus Christ challenge the great command to “love the LORD with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30, et al).”
Good points to consider. Feel free to share your thoughts below.
One of the items that Scripture makes abundantly clear is that if we follow God, we will be blessed. Probably the most famous passage which states that fact appears in Matthew chapter 5 – at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:1-12 (ESV):
5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
One of the most famous Biblical concepts is that of the “Golden Rule”. A common way of expressing that rule in English is as follows:
“Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.”
The Golden Rule is explicitly stated in the New Testament, in the following verses:
Matthew 7:12 (ESV):
12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Luke 6:31 (ESV):
31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Both of those verses appear to correlate to the following verse from the Torah:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 - Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.