Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Saddened by the death of John Stott today, but thankful for the impact that his life and teaching has had on me and many other.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from him.
"What, then, is the biblical basis for social concern? Why should Christians get involved? In the end there are only two possible attitudes which Christians can adopt towards the world: Escape and Engagement...'Escape' means turning our backs on the world in rejection, washing our hands of it ... and steeling our hearts against its agonized cries for help. In contrast, 'engagement' means turning our faces towards the world in compassion, getting our hands dirty, sore and worn in its service, and feeling deep within us the stirring of the love of which cannot be contained."
Thank You for being someone that challenged us to engage our world.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vacation With A Purpose

As recent blogs have stated, I have been compelled to view my resources as a tool to use, rather than objects to consume. As my wife and I try and spread that through all areas of our life the idea came to us to try and do that with our upcoming vacation as well.

What if our vacations were NOT all about us? What if they could be used as a resource to bless others, while still having time for us to rest and enjoy family?

Thus was born our "Vacation With A Purpose" idea. We have decided to take at least 10% of what we are spending on the entire vacation and keep that on us in cash at all times and look for people, organizations, churches or non-profits to stop and randomly bless.

Just thinking about the ways that God could use this small act is exciting.

I will report back after our vacation (August 15th or so) and let you know the results! I am already praying that God would change us through this process.

Are you going on a vacation soon? Would you be willing to try the "Vacation With A Purpose" concept?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where is my heart?

This morning I was reading from the book "Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals" and I came across this quote from Shepherd of Hermas, whose second-century writings were cherished by early Christians.

“You know that you who are God’s servants are living in a foreign country, for your own city-state is far away from this City-state. Knowing, then, which one is to be your own City-state, why do you acquire fields, costly furnishings, buildings, and frail dwellings here? Instead of fields, buy for yourselves people in distress in accordance with your means. It is far, far better to buy this kind of field, property, or building, which is quite different and which you can find again in your own City when you come home. This ‘extravagance’ is beautiful and holy; it brings no grief and no fear; it brings nothing but joy.”

I then went to do some reading from the Bible. I am re-reading Matthew in preparation for an upcoming series at Church, and what do I read today?

"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:20-21

I struggle with things like materialism and consumerism. I know that nothing I buy, acquire, make or purchase here is of real value. I know that what is eternal is what is important. Yet what I know with my mind is not often enough lived out with my life.

I have bought into the "better than most" lie. In regards to giving? Probably better than most. In regards to our time? Probably better than most. In regards to helping others? Probably better than most. But is better than most the goal? Is that enough? It sure doesn't feel like it.

If where my treasure is truly defines where my heart is, then far too often my heart is focused on me.

Where is your heart?

My prayer is that we would be people that, "Instead of fields, buy for yourselves people in distress in accordance with your means." May we use our time, talents, treasure and touch towards the things that truly matter and may our heart be found in things that last.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

God seems to know what He is doing

Tonight I went to Blockbuster Video to rent a documentary (i LOVE documentaries). After browsing their selection for a few minutes I decided on a movie called The Bridge that I have wanted to see for a while. I grabbed the video, checked out and headed home.

Once home I realized that I had somehow NOT grabbed The Bridge and instead ended up with a movie called Born Into Brothels. There are very few documentaries that I don't enjoy so I decided not to return the movie, but instead to watch it.

Within minutes of the opening I was SO glad I kept the movie.

It is a documentary about a photographer who goes into Calcutta and teaches photography to the children in the area. She gives them cameras and teaches them the basics of photography. This art quickly becomes an escape and a way out of the slums and the prostitution that many had been in.

The creativity and talent that these children showed was amazing. Having their own camera and being able to "create" was such a point of pride for them, you could see the joy on their faces as they used their new talent.

As I watched this movie I got to thinking about the 3 or 4 older digital cameras that we have lying around our house and I wondered if they could be used for something like this. I went online and found a great list of organizations on the Kids With Cameras website and I found several that were seeking cameras for similar projects around the world. I selected one, got their address and tomorrow will be mailing a box of cameras to an organization that will be able to use them to make a real difference in the lives of underprivileged children around the world.

I am thrilled that a "mistake" at the movie store led to a great opportunity to share what we have and hopefully provide a skill and hope for a child somewhere.

God seems to know what He is doing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

Today my wife and I ventured into Downtown Anchorage for the annual 4th of July celebration. While we were there we saw, among the thousands of people, a Sudanese family wearing traditional Sudanese clothing, a Latino man selling empanadas from his van, a Samoan family BBQing chicken at their food booth, a Native Alaskan selling handmade crafts, and lots of other cultures that were well represented. Seeing the vast diversity downtown made the reality of independence and freedom hit home for me. One of the greatest things about our country is the idea of "America." The belief that this is a place that you can be who you are, and become whatever you want is a powerful one. I am glad that despite different political, religious and personal views we can gather, celebrate and enjoy the freedom that we all have as Americans. Happy 4th of July!