Posts

Showing posts from August, 2010

THE PATH AWAY FROM GOD

Image
The tower of Babel is a story where we see God turning human arrogance and rebellion into further disconnect and confusion between people.  In humanity’s rhetoric about building community, blindness to the dark side of human nature inevitably leads to further disconnect.  Babel gives us much to think about in our self-understanding.

Genesis 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

In later verses, the tower is named Babel, composed of two Hebrew words.  Bab means gate.  El means God.  The tower being built was named ‘The Gate of God’.
Babylonians buil…

WHY DO BAD GUYS ALWAYS HAVE AN ACCENT?

Image
How often have you watched movies and American television and noticed Hollywood’s stereotypical portrayals of other cultures and language groups?As part of the storyline tension, there will be a tribe or nationality in opposition to Americans.The original Americans, or ‘Indians’ as they were mistakenly first called are at war with the cowboys.The prevailing threat to Americanism is vilified in each generation —Nazi Germans, Gypsies, Mexicans, Russians, Arabs…We love stories where the bad guys have an accent different from our own.In the fear of difference, we find the roots of racial arrogance and bigotry.
Even within their own culture Americans create villains from street culture, southern states and the extremely rich and powerful.A distinctive difference or accent is enough to create a mix of fear and dismissal.
What about Canadians?That’s easy!We get to blame it all on the Americans because everyone knows how different they are from us.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many la…

BOOK REVIEW: JESUS MANIFESTO

Image
Len and Frank have done a great job of fulfilling their mandate in this writing.  The flyleaf description gives you the gist of what they want to say.

JESUS MANIFESTO presents a fresh unveiling of Jesus as not only Savior and Lord, but as so much more.  It is a prophetic call to restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ in a world-- and a church-- that has lost sight of Him.Every revival and restoration in the church has been a rediscovery of some aspect of Christ in the process of answering the ultimate question that Jesus put to His disciples: "Who do you say that I am?"
I was immediately struck by the devotional high-tone in their writing.  Instead of the dull rumbling of correction, there is a brilliant voice calling us to Christ worship.  This may become a classic in devotional literature.

This is a book rich in vibrant quotes and solid Christology.  It presents the Jesus who is more important than our best laid plans and causes in His Name.

On a personal note, I…

ONE OR THE OTHER

Image
Some of the most difficult decisions you will make in life will revolve around choosing to serve God rather than someone or something else.Loving God affects your geography, your relationships, your time and your pursuits.Love for God brings you into tension with almost everything that the world presents to you as opportunities.
Love cannot really be love without bringing you to a sacrifice and a self-emptying.It is in the giving of love that we find the life of God moving through us.It is the divine give and take—the reciprocating nature of love’s emptying and filling.
Jesus spoke to the money hungry Pharisees with words that also stir a tension in us—a holy knot in the stomach.
Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters.Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.You cannot serve both God and Money."14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.  15 He said to them, "You are the o…

CAN I TRUST YOU?

Image
I’ve heard people say that you do not have any more wealth than God can trust you with.  I am not convinced that this is entirely true.  Some of the most honest people in the world have also been among the poorest.  Some of the most dishonest have accumulated great wealth. 
If we have a shortage of funds to fulfill our vision we need to focus on having integrity with our current resource.  That does not ensure that dollars will follow, but that we will grow in the way God intends.  Jesus said these words about trustworthiness.
Luke 16:10 "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.  11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?
The emphasis is on personal integrity and not on a values-based system to grow your …

INVESTING IN ETERNITY

Image
In the gospel story of the shrewd manager, Jesus identified a man who transitioned from being an unsuitable employee to a wise and generous man.Perhaps this is what Warren Buffett was thinking of when he talked about sinners having a future.The bad manager developed an exit strategy from his position that benefited the customer, made his boss look good and opened doors of opportunity for him by being generous.Remember the story?He took the customers and gave a 50% reduction on one bill and 20% on another.He found a way to make the accounts more equitable to all.
Following the story, Jesus taught the listening disciples and Pharisees some valuable life lessons.

Luke 16:8 "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.  9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwelling…

THROUGH THE NEEDLE'S EYE

Image
We are hypocrites when we judge how the rich live excessively and turn a blind eye to our own excess.  There is a tendency to look at the extremely wealthy and assume they are greedy and self-seeking.  In bold caricatures of powerful tycoons, we find a suitable enemy to despise—an enemy that we would possibly consider becoming if the funds fell into our laps.  This is the stuff of movies that stirs a common sentiment towards the very rich.
But what if Bill Gates and Warren Buffet sat down for lunch and decided to give their wealth away to improve the condition of the world’s poor?  Would we have to reclaim some of our commentary about the rich and famous?  In fact, that is exactly what Bill and Warren did last year.
In news reports this past week they announced their campaign to persuade America’s wealthiest citizens to donate their fortunes to charity.[i]  Their website www.givingpledge.org lists 40 billionaires and their commitment to give away most of their fortune to philanthropy an…

$40 BILLION IS NOT MUCH

Image
Besides the relief and development work already taking place in the world, how many additional dollars would it take to ensure that every person had their basic needs met?According to Dave Blundell of ‘Hungry For Life’, UNICEF estimated that $40 billion USD would do it.That figure was from the late nineties, so the amount may be different today.But that is not much money in the big picture.Consider the breakdown from Dave’s book:[i]
-Basic education for all $6 billion-Clean water and sanitation for all $9 billion-Reproductive health for all women $12 billion-Basic health and nutrition $13 billion
By contrast, here are a few annual calculations on the following goods and services:
-U.S. military spending: $650 billion-Canadian military spending: $15 billion-Dieting programs in the U.S: $40 billion-World golf spending: $40 billion-Aesthetic cosmetic surgeries and procedures in the U.S: $11 billion-Online pornography revenue worldwide in 2006: $97 billion-Cosmetics in the U.S: $8 billion-Pr…

BOOK REVIEW: HUNGRY FOR LIFE

Image
As I read Dave Blundell's book, I was drawn into the frustration and godly discontent with the state of the North American church towards the poorest populations of the world.  A problem with a hope for significant change.

He does an excellent job of presenting the biblical case and the statistical  realities of who we are.

Personally, I am not one who enjoys many books that have a case to present backed with lots of Scripture and stats, but this was one I knew I had to read.  It was an uncomfortable read in that it pointed out my sins and called for change. I pastor a church planted among the poor and this book reminded me of the scene in Schindler's List where the hero tearfully acknowledges that he could have done more to save the oppressed.

Not that this book is intended to bring a guilt trip...  it's written to bring us back to God's heart for the poor and oppressed.

Dave & Heidi Blundell run an organization called 'Hungry For Life' with a vision of …

THE VIRTUE OF SHREWD

Image
Luke 16:1 Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'3 "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'5 "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'6" 'Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,' he replied.
      "The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.'7 "Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?'
      " 'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied.
      "He told him, 'Take your…

THE WISE EXIT OF A BAD MANAGER

Image
Jesus told the story of a manager who goofed up his job.  Whether the man was crooked and skimming profits for himself or had poor job performance, we do not know.  What was clear was the boss being unhappy about this particular employee.  The manager was getting fired because the boss was unhappy.

Luke 16:1 Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.'3 "The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.'5 "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'6" 'Eight hundred gallons of oliv…

LEAVING WELL WHEN YOU GET FIRED

Image
Most people have had at least one place of employment that turned into a dismal failure.  I had a couple jobs that did not work out.


When I was in grade eight, I worked one night as a pin boy at Tecumseh Lanes.  The old bowling alleys had boys working behind the wall to set the bowling pins back in place after the bowlers knocked them down.  We had to keep track of how many balls had been rolled on each turn and reset the ten pins once the turn was over.  There was a tray we manually loaded pins into and a track to send the ball back on.
It was well over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit behind the wall with young teen boys smoking, swearing and changing pins.  I ended up getting confused in the heat and the noise.  I reset the pins early a couple times which infuriated the customers.  I did not understand all the instructions I had been given in the first thirty seconds of work and the boys next to me were little help to my confused mind.  I think I came home with two dollars of earnings …

THERE'S A POOR MAN IN THE GARDEN

Image
In the Special Revelation of Scripture we learn that God entrusted humanity with the care of the earth.We were intended to enjoy and attend to the natural world.
This included naming the animals.God designed us to study and identify the vast multitude of types and species.God could have done the naming, but He wanted us to share in the pleasure and understanding that comes from intimate study of Creation.In the recognition of each creature, we hear the whispered Name of the Creator.
The care of Creation includes gardening, herding and nurturing.We have been created as responsible creatures capable of thinking and acting for the best good of Creation.There has never been more of a time in history when we need to act responsibly toward the earth God has given us.
Jesus addressed the consuming anxieties of people in that day.Where will I get the food, clothes and shelter I need to survive?That same anxiety has driven greed for possessions and the accumulation of wealth.The hopes of wealth d…