Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Marathoning on Mission: As Our Own

A few months ago I was really convicted to use my talents and invest them in God's kingdom in a really practical way. A friend of my mom's had raised money by selling yarn and had donated all of it to a charity. Well I'm not the most talented cat and I can't knit worth a darn... but I can run (or hobble...).

For all who don't know, November 12th me and a buddy are running a half-marathon in the hope of raising both support and awareness for an Anti-Human Trafficking organization. I've included the blurb from our "Team Page" with some statistics (since numbers make the world go 'round...). If you're not involved or aware, I encourage you to raise your awareness and implore you to get involved...

We are running the San Antonio Rock n' Roll Half Marathon for PashiHer early life placed her in the path of her violent, alcoholic father. Thankfully, she has refuge from today’s danger and tomorrow’s hopelessness through As Our Own and You.


What will your donation do?
  •   $720 will allow her to attend school for 9 months
  •   $696 will allow her to eat three nutritious meals a day for one year
  •   $672 will give her a comfortable home for 1 year

If each of us only gave up three cups of coffee we could feed, house, and educate one girl, Pashi, for a year. Consider, one girls life or three cups of coffee? - Any donation would be extremely helpful toward achieving our goal.

What does Pashi face outside of As Our Own?
  • -  Sex Trafficking: Girls as young as 7 are forced into prostitution (source)
  • -  Slave labor: 82 girls per day are trafficked (source) 
  • -  Starvation: If you are a girl and not in the two above you face starvation (source)

Her story gives reason to our running . . .
Extreme poverty in India shows mercy to no one—not even to a small child, Pashi.

Her story begins in a small village in Western India, where she was born into a poor family caught in the poverty cycle. The cruelty of this life pushed Pashi’s father to seek refuge in alcohol. The alcohol pushed him to fits of violent rage.

Pashi’s mother decided to take the kids away from her raging, alcoholic husband, but that left them with even fewer options for survival. Often Pashi went without food, clothing, and shelter. There was little hope for a future outside the constant struggle.

When Pashi was 7 years old, As Our Own staff rescued her from extreme poverty and unstable living conditions. Her mom was hired as a cook at Hope College. This was a joyful relief for Pashi and her mother! Pashi would have not only food, clothing, and shelter—she would also have a good education, tutoring, lessons, and a larger lifelong family. Now, three years later, Pashi has excelled in her studies; her love for singing and dancing was unearthed and is being nurtured through lessons. Pashi is extremely grateful for the love of God she experiences through her As Our Own family.

Together, we are rewriting a real child's life story with every step. Will you sponsor Pashi?

Pashi is a pseudonym.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Consumerism 101

It's new!!
It’s no secret that American society is consumer based. I mean, our economy is based on people buying things, things they do and don’t need, to maintain a standard of comfort. We need, we want, we buy. The new iPhone 4s came out recently (s stands for... super?)  and I was shocked by how many people wanted it... but weren't able to tell me how it was different from the old one. Nike makes horrible shoes yet somehow I still buy them because the "swoosh" makes me feel more athletic (do I really have three pairs?)...

This week a pretty huge shocker was dropped from the leadership at church. Sparing the details, lets just say things are changing and people are parting ways. The natural tendency, at least for me, is to get frustrated and start worrying if the church will still be able to meet my spiritual needs. As the elders look for new leadership a couple questions have echoed in the back of my mind:
  • Will I still get to hear the expository preaching that I’ve grown accustomed to?
  • How long will this transition last?
  • What do I do in the meantime?
  • What is the reason for the change?
  • Why is it happening now? 
Those are just a few of the questions I’ve been wrestling with. I spent Wednesday night in a pretty sleepless tantrum as I battled worries and fears about the next few months.

Then, I had this brilliant epiphany. All of those questions float and revolve around a certain personal pronoun and his close cousin: “I/Me”. I guess the real question is, does my church only exist to meet my needs? Or, in other words, is it just another thing that I consume?

In order to find an answer, I believe it’s always best to look in the Bible and the life of Jesus. Unfortunately and fortunately, not a whole lot of looking is required on this one. The Bible specifically says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve others”. If we, as Christians, are to emulate his image we have to adopt his mindset as well.

So how does that change the way we interact with our Church? How does it change the way we view our job? Our friendships? Our God? None of those things were created or exist to serve us. They exist to demonstrate the sovereignty of God.

I guess the perfect example can be found in a friend of mine. Last week was his birthday, the perfect time to “get stuff”. Instead, he called all his friends together and they went out and ate with the homeless of Philadelphia. To quote a song from the ancient days J, you can’t always get… I’ll end the quote there.

Christ's church was created to serve Him. The Church isn't another part of this world that we should consume. We should serve it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It’s Pruning Season

Believers B3ar Fruit...
Work-life balance… I swear I don’t even know what that means these days. Schoolwork has been piling up and, while I’m definitely grateful for the blessing of seminary, the to-do list is never-ending.

A few nights ago, I was wrestling to control my frustration. I was so angry with the way things in my life have been turning out. Finances, physical sickness, scholastic endeavors (my fancy way of saying homework), and hardships had transformed my quiet times into a list of grievances. See the first two chapters of Habakkuk for my state of mind. But as I was wrestling… and I mean The Rock vs. Undertake “people’s elbow” wrestling (because the WWE is real…) I was hit with the fact that I was trying to make God serve me.

In the midst of hardship, I quietly (i.e. yelled) told myself “You were made to serve God…”. It’s been a difficult six months and change. Thankfully, God’s graced me with friends who call me out on my childishness. One of my best friends tee’d off on me yesterday with the resounding question: “Name a saint who hasn’t had to go through hardships… Christ promised it. Paul promised it. Peter promised it… name one saint who didn't suffer…”

So what happens in the meantime? While we’re waiting on God to change things what do we do? I’ve only got a piece of the picture but here it is: we bear fruit. God hasn’t changed just because our circumstances have. His glory is not dictated by what we go through. Our allegiance to him is not predicated on things going according to our plan. He prunes branches to bear more fruit. Bearing fruit means suffering well. Bearing fruit means worshiping the sovereignty of the creator. Bearing fruit means laboring through pain and hardship.

At any rate, I’m off to try and get back in the vineyard. Be encouraged: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Will is a word of certainty and Christ’s disciples did have troubles and suffering… In all honesty, I think it comes down to the question of where does your comfort lie?

Here’s a poem I prayed a few nights ago:

Aces and jacks
Plummet, tumbling softly
As autumn breezes dislodge
Carefully constructed structures
Queens soon pursue kings,
Falling headlong into the blazing pile.

I had made my bed besides
Diamonds and spades
Only to watch gravity bully them,
Tying shoestrings together,
Stomping their hearts into the dirt,
Spraying graffiti on clubhouse walls.

Rest in peace,
My home: the broken remains of a royal flush

Those who trust in Christ will never be put to shame...