Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I happened to pick up the latest Thielicke book I am reading last night, “Christ and the Meaning of Life.” One of the chapters I read looked at the story of unmerciful servant: the man forgiven an extravagent debt who then turns and witholds forgiveness of a pittance from his brother.
Thielicke makes the point that, as forgiven children, we stand with one hand grasped by the mercy and grace of our Father. Our other hand is thus free to extend that same grace to our neighbors. He writes:
“Don’t you feel your hand in the hand of God? But what is your other hand doing? Is it a clenched fist—or is it stretched out toward your neighbor so that the divine circuit can be closed and thus allow the current of creative power to flow into you? Our left hand is capable of doing something very different from our right hand (in the same way that we may be schizophrenic in our minds and souls and belong to two masters). And this can split and break us. It can send us staggering down the wrong road and make us miss the gates of the Father’s house.”
Saturday, January 27, 2007
The farmers in our organization "The Kona Coffee Farmers Association" only sell 100% Kona Coffee but our reputation is being damaged by processors selling an inferior coffee blend and using the "Kona" name. We have been fighting to change the law in the State of Hawaii to require that at least 75% Kona beans be used in a bag of coffee in order to use the "Kona" name on the bag. Currently, the blends have only 10% Kona coffee and 90% inferior beans from places such as Guatemala & Columbia but the blenders are still allowed to use the Kona name on the label. In a 10% blend, the Kona beans can not even be tasted.Click here to sign the petition.
We have won this fight at the city level however, in the coming week we are going to Honolulu to take it to the state level. Because so many of our members are small farmers who can't afford to be away from their farms or do not have the money to travel to Honolulu, we are attempting to get as many of our customers to sign this petition to let the state know that not only do the farmers need protection but the consumer needs to be protected with truth in labeling.
Our biggest battle is against the large processors creating these blends, they have waged a war against us in this fight. They have a very lucrative business deceiving tourists and others into purchasing coffee they believe are blends of different Kona coffees. They are very well financed and will have a very large group in Honolulu to try to protect their bottom line. Please help us protect our farms and the reputation of Kona Coffee which generations of farmers have worked so hard to create.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Denver talked about forgiveness and how he knew he had been forgiven much himself and that he had to let go of the anger. For years he waited on an evil Nazi man who spit in his face and called him a nigger repeatedly. Denver took care of the man when no one else would go near him. I think he learned how to love and forgive. That kind of forgiveness clearly takes the power of God. I get defensive and angry when someone looks at me cross-eyed. I pray for that kind of spirit in our personal lives and our families and work relationships.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Generous giving is part of the religious conservative identity, according to sociologist Tony Campolo. "The Religious Right, by conviction, is convinced that helping the poor is something that should be done individually or by the church," said Campolo. "[They say that] asking the state to do it is wrong."Another study by the Christian research organization Empty Tomb Inc. said evangelicals gave away 6.7 percent of their income in 1968. By 2004, that figure had dropped to 4.4 percent. Also, more money is staying within the church to pay for things like music and technology. Evangelical churches on average designate only about 2 percent of their budgets to missions.
They were also interviewed today by Anita Lustrea on Midday Connection at Moody Radio. You can listen to the show at this link.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Those of us who see religion in a different light – who see religion as a powerful motivation to care for the widow and orphan, to seek justice and peace, to love our neighbors and our enemies – shouldn't feel superior, but we should keep practicing, and preaching, with humility and focus. It's so easy to get distracted, and a lot is at stake.
Monday, January 22, 2007
The report reveals that Illinois continues to face an affordable housing crisis where too many families have no opportunity to access the safe, decent and affordable housing they need. Continuing declines in funding levels for housing assistance programs, combined with new rules affecting the funding and flexibility of local public housing authorities have resulted in long waiting lists and thousands of eligible Illinois families unable to get needed housing assistance. In more than half of Illinois communities where the housing choice voucher program operates, families seeking rental assistance cannot even get in line to receive future vouchers because waiting lists are closed. For every public housing unit, there are two families in need.
Friday, January 19, 2007
"Gosh, I'm not sure if labels are helpful here because the definition of an evangelical is so loose and subject to so many different interpretations. I came to Christianity through the black church tradition where the line between evangelical and non-evangelical is completely blurred. Nobody knows exactly what it means."I heard him speak in Washington at Pentecost 2006 last June where he told his testimony of walking down the aisle at Trinity United Church of Christ to embrace faith in Christ. I really appreciate his candor on the subject of faith and religion.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Why blacks are leaving evangelical ministries. It is adapted from Gilbreath's book, Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity. Several people have pointed me toward this book this week so I just ordered it. I also just discovered Ed Gilbreath's Blog thanks to Rodolpho Carrasco at Urban Onramps.
Cowardice asks the question-is it safe?
Vanity asks the question-is it popular?
Expediency asks the question-is it political
But conscience asks the question-is it right?
There comes a time when one must take a
position that is neither safe, popular,
or political, but because it is right!
--Dr. Martin Luther King
This is what it used to look like.
The sense of connection between inner growth and outer change permeates the Christian understanding of reality. St. Paul was an activist of the first order. Every time he entered a new place he created major disruptions, but his activism was the fruit of the relationship he enjoyed with the living Christ. The great hymns of praise that seem to burst out in epistle after epistle are a testimony to the reality of this relationship. The ministries of Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta or of Martin Luther King in the streets of Montgomery, or of the countless people whose faith has touched your life and mine and indeed has affected the life of the world are expressions of lived prayer. These people went deep enough in prayer to embrace life with some degree of abandon. These inner experiences literally drove them in ministry to others.
--from Invitation to Holiness by James C. Fenhagen
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Ultimately, shouldn't we be asking ourselves, our public servants and business leaders what responsibility must we take as a nation to ensure that no legitimate business be compelled to base its economic sustainability on the necessary exploitation of its employees?
Saturday, January 13, 2007
We had tried to get the license, but were told by the issuing department that we didn't need one. When a woman from the city health department came out and demanded to see our license which we could not produce, she took peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that had been prepared for the kids' field trip and threw them all in the garbage right in front of the kids.
Alderman Burke was livid. Here's what an article in the Chicago Tribune had to say...
Also on Wednesday, the committee advanced a measure that would exempt soup kitchens and food depositories that prepare food for consumption from a recently imposed requirement to obtain a retail food establishment license.
Burke, crimson with anger, decried what he called City Hall bureaucracy and demanded that a Health Department official give him details of what he called "the great peanut butter and jelly sandwich caper."
In an incident last July, speakers at a meeting said that a new department employee destroyed sandwiches in front of needy children because a not-for-profit organization at 3330 W. Carroll St. that prepared the sandwiches did not have the proper license.
"And this is city that works?" Burke asked sarcastically.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Later, I led them in devotions from the book of John. Our Scripture for the night was about Jesus turning the water into wine. I asked the women what they do when they run out of resources, when the jars of their lives are empty and it seems like life is hopeless, when the sparkle is gone, when the love has run out. I was passionate in my application. “What do you do when you when you don’t have enough? Who do you turn to when the zest is gone from your life, when you are empty and dry, when it seems all of your resources are gone?”
“When you run out of sugar?” one of the women quipped and we all had a good laugh.
The point I was trying to make was that no matter what problem we are facing, Jesus, who turned the water into wine, will bring the sense of celebration, the love and the resources back into our lives if we just bring our empty jars to him and ask him what to do. We talked about the fact that Jesus cares about our need, and will act to meet our needs when we turn to him and do what he tells us to do, that he can work miracles in our lives if we trust him.
A few days later a volunteer came to the center and said she wanted to donate some supplies for our food pantry. Without anyone telling her about our special need, she donated two ten-pound bags of sugar! God gave our homeless women a first hand experience of his special love and care!
When God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, Lot's uncle Abraham was able to barter with God and garner a commitment that if ten righteous people could be found in the cities they would be spared. Because Lot was not able to mobilize even ten people in Sodom and Gomorrah to live godly lives, their entire cities were destroyed. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah have been remembered, not only for their sexual deviance and ungodliness, but because they “were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Eze. 16:49)
Today we don’t have leadership books written about Lot. On the other hand, on the day I am writing this, there are more than thirty-five books listed on Amazon about the life and leadership of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah, when he saw that his city was in trouble, garnered resources from the government, conducted a recognizance mission to scope out the problem and mobilized a movement of people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. When he heard the outcry of the poor, he became angry and "called together a large meeting", and told their oppressors, "What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of God?" (Nehemiah 5:6-9). Nehemiah and his people have become known as "Repairers of Broken Walls, Restorers of Streets with Dwellings", just as Isaiah promised in Isaiah 58.
Just being vexed in our righteous souls over wickedness will not save our cities. Like Nehemiah, we need to organize a kingdom movement and help people find their places at the walls, hammer in one hand and sword in the other, prepared for battle, but staying on task til the job is done.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I noticed another article today in Crain's Chicago Business about Mayor Daley's reluctance to support a city ordinance proposed by Aldermen Tony Preckwinkle and Walter Burnett that would require 15% of new multi-unit buildings to be set aside for affordable housing. Daley is proposing a 10% rule for only projects needing zoning changes or a $100,000 per unit contribution to a city rent subsidy fund.
The author of the article, Greg Hinz, says about Mayor Daley, "He says he doesn't want to kill the golden goose that's reviving the city center. I believe him. I also believe he'd like to avoid offending powerful business interests."
It will be interesting to see who wins this debate.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Because I've done all that historical work, my view of the gospel and how it works out in the real world has been deepened and enriched in all kinds of ways that I would never have guessed 25 years ago when I was starting out writing about Jesus. So in Simply Christian there's a lot about justice, what it means to be human in the mandate to work, the putting to rights of God's world, generating beauty, alleviating poverty, working with ecology. Thirty years ago I would have said those were secondary issues.
...the great emphasis in the New Testament is that the gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world. And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you. You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work. That draws together what we traditionally called evangelism, bringing people to the point where they come to know God in Christ for themselves, with working for God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That has always been at the heart of the Lord's Prayer, and how we've managed for years to say the Lord's Prayer without realizing that Jesus really meant it is very curious.
Friday, January 05, 2007
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Monday, January 01, 2007
I have used the daily examen often but reading this book at this particular time of the year led me to reflect upon the entire past year instead of just the day. In doing the examen of consciousness we ask God for light and then reflect on the day with thanksgiving, noting the consolations (the positive things that happened and the ways we got it right) and the desolations (the low points or the things that happened that we wish we had handled differently). Then we are to confess and pray through the things that God brings to our minds and finally we rest in God's love and assurance.
2006 was a challenging year for me and I had many desolations and consolations. My prayer is that this year will be one in which I practice the sacred rhythms.