Wednesday, May 26, 2010
On the other hand Haiti is a great place to practice Christianity. Baptist churches are quite prominent in Haiti and Baptists have been at the forefront of relief work in the stricken areas. I have to say that working and living amongst Haitians was an exhilarating experience. To have the privilege of providing medicines and basic life supplies to people who might otherwise die is one of life’s few holy ground moments. To share this experience with fellow church members was also special, as was being able to tell those being helped that a church in the U.S. cares deeply for you. Sadly, however, we left Haiti only microscopically better than we found it. In reality Haiti remains a truly awful place. The majority of Americans would have trouble assimilating the realities faced by Haitians in simply trying to stay alive from one day to the next. It’s such a foreign concept to us that it might as well be an episode of the Twilight Zone. One has to see it to adequately believe it.
Haiti isn’t alone as being an awful place. Right now the Gulf Coast of the United States is an awful place. Crude oil being pumped directly into the ocean is causing long lasting damage to the already fragile eco-systems and shorelines. It may take decades to undo all of the damage being done, not to mention the price tag that will total in the billions of dollars (which will be passed down to consumers as no corporate jets will be lost due to the unfortunate oil spill). There are plenty of other awful places as well; Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, India, North Korea, Singapore, Chile…and the list could go on. Awful is relative and no one place or people group has cornered that market.
So, how should we deal with this awfulness? As Christians we cannot act as if it doesn’t exist; nor can we lay it off on the people who are suffering. Pat Robertson’s verbalized stupidity that Haiti made a pact with the devil and as a result received a well-deserved earthquake is beyond the pale. There is voodoo in Haiti. I’ve heard the drums and the chants. I have also seen people praising God and going without food in order to take care of an orphan. Jesus never laid blame on those who were suffering. Awful was the reason Jesus spent so much time with the sick and afflicted. Blame, no. Action, yes. Action is the only weapon Christians have against awful. Pray, give and go are three words that Christians in the United States should take to heart. Everyone can pray; many can give to support life-saving work and ministries already in place in most of the world’s truly awful areas; others can take the time and expense to go and help out in person.
Awful is a relative term that doesn’t have to define large chunks of our world. If we all do our part awful could become obsolete. Then we could move to better, and beyond. I’m convinced this is what Jesus would do.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
What’s a week worth to you? A week is seven days made up of 168 hours or, if you like math, 10,080 minutes. There are typically 52 weeks in one year and the average person lives 74 years. Again, for the math-inclined, that would be 3,848 weeks. That’s a lot of weeks when you place it into the perspective of a full life. Have you ever stopped to consider what one week out of that huge total would be worth…to someone else? One week given to the cause of missions wouldn’t make a dent in most schedules. It would be one line of ink across the Month-At-A-Glance calendar; a key stroke on the Blackberry or I-Phone; a voicemail message stating “I’m away saving lives. I’m sorry I cannot speak with you but I’m sure you’ll understand that phone service in the nether regions of the world is spotty at best. When I get back to the not-so-real-world I will return your call. Until then, why not consider giving up one of your almost 4,000 weeks and go to a different place and make a difference.”
Many people feel the pull of missions but sadly, few take the really big step and set foot on different dirt. Those that do are life-changers. They leave home with the goal of changing someone else’s life; they return with their own lives having been radically realigned. It happens every time. You change. You become a different person. Life is different. You morph into a new mode. Deep inside each of us there’s a place where the heart, mind and soul connect. It is at that spot that you know you’ve made a difference. You have altered the course of life.
When does it happen? There’s a magic moment for each person when all perspective shifts and you simply know you’ve changed. It may be in the process of giving someone food; or laying block for a school; or digging a well; or teaching someone about Christ; or when someone touches you and says thank you. In that moment you look down and see Holy Ground.
You will never feel more alive. You’ll ask yourself why you waited so long to take the big step. After all, it’s only one week.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The downside of a purported find like Noah’s Ark is the scrutiny that comes with it. The Official Ark of the Covenant Relocation Troupe will be all over this one. These supposed Evangelical Explorers are fakes and frauds. Our group has one member who actually knows an archeologist and with our skill and professionalism we have not yet located the Ark of the Covenant. You may remember this group from their protests outside the Indiana Jones movie about the Ark. These people are not to be trifled with. Then there are the actual archeologists who like to weigh in on such finds. Fresh from an appearance at the Shroud of Turin Amusement Park in southern Italy, Dr. Ford Harrison Jones has emphatically stated that this find is a joke. I’m proud to hear that the Turks and the Chinese have patched up their differences and are teaming up together, but there is no way this group found Noah’s Ark. I suspect a Hookah pipe figures into this somewhere.
I don’t believe it either. For one thing my fence is only thirteen years old and it needs work. How could a primitive wooden boat last for thousands of years? And then there’s the whole Hey, wasn’t everything destroyed in the flood question? If so, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the only wood left on the Earth would be Noah’s boat? Hello! Mr. and Mrs. Noah need a new house! Bye-bye wood.
Proponents of this find believe it is proof positive that God exists and as a result thousands of people will begin to seek faith in Jesus. Of course, these are the same people who believe there was a W.W.J.D. bumper sticker on the Ark. Proof positive that Noah’s Ark existed is not what today’s skeptics are looking for. Authenticity is what people are hoping to find. Character and virtue sprinkled with consistency is the key to impacting the world of today. Paul’s writing on the Fruit of the Spirit is all we need to discover to change the world. Live those virtues and people will pay attention. A piece of old wood isn’t enough…even if it holds the inscription S.S. Noah.