Saturday, March 28, 2009

Race still matters

In tomorrow's Chicago Tribune, Clarence Page has written an editorial entitled, Race still matters for poor blacks.
Mainstream black leaders tend to blame black poverty on external barriers like racism, discrimination and the disappearance of low-skill jobs.

Conservative critics tend to blame black poverty on black behavior, attitudes and other "cultural" conditioning.
Page suggests that Obama and other lawmakers should work on legislation that recognizes the power of both culture and racism. He writes, "Obama won the presidency by insisting that racism was no longer powerful enough to stop him. But is it still powerful enough to stop those whom the civil rights movement left behind in poverty?"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Dreams

Listen below to the kids from our neighborhood expressing their dreams and feel their struggle to change the community.

Jim Collins on Distinguising Great Talent

How do you distinguish the truly great talent from the rest?
The right people don't need to be managed. The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you've made a hiring mistake.

The right people don't think they have a job: They have responsibilities. If I'm a climber, my job is not [just] to belay. My responsibility is that if we get in trouble, I don't let my partner down.

The right people do what they say they will do, which means being really careful about what they say they will do. It's key in difficult times. In difficult environments our results are our responsibility. People who take credit in good times and blame external forces in bad times do not deserve to lead. End of story.
Click here for the full article.

Monday, March 16, 2009

CompassionArt: A Creative Attack on Poverty

Martin Smith from Delirious brought twelve top Christian singers and song writers together in Scotland for a week to produce a CD of new music called CompassionArt. Included were Michael W. Smith, Darlene Zschech, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Paul Baloche, Israel Houghton, Graham Kendrick, Steven Curtis-Chapman, Andy Park, Stu Garrard, and Martin Smith. All of the proceeds from the album and the use of the songs will go to charities that care for the poor. I downloaded it through iTunes. Not only does this project strike a blow at poverty financially, but it is really great music! I love Highly Favored, King of the Broken, Friend of the Poor and Fill My Cup which features CeCe Winans and the Lakewood Choir.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Notes from Breakthrough donors affected by the economy

I am blown away lately by the faithfulness of the Breakthrough donors... and I mean they are putting REAL faith into action. Here are excerpts from two notes I received just this week.
I have been studying Elisha and the story of the man in 2 Kings 4 who brought 20 loaves to Elisha. It was probably his tithe, and Elisha was able to feed the one hundred people with him and there were leftovers! -- during a famine!! Don't you love God?! He can take even the smaller amount of money and make it go farther than we ever dreamed it would go!! We love you guys!
Here's another note that came with a large unexpected donation!
We have certainly been impacted by the financial decline in 2008 (but that doesn't make us special!) but continue to be challenged by God to give generously and faithfully. We have been meditating on the story in Mark of the "Young Rich Man" and have been following Jesus' simple and clear words " have only one thing left to do... sell your possessions, give to the poor and follow me." "Only one thing left to do" is the mantra that we are focusing on when we are worried about the scarcity of money and want to keep it for ourselves -- it is encouraging us to give.
Another of our supporters has decided to restrict herself to $176 per month for groceries which is what Illinois Food Stamp (Link) recipients receive so she can continue to give. She is practicing intentional "self regulation".

This is the real deal. I am humbled and inspired. I'm not sure what God is up to right now, but I have a feeling it is very good for us as we learn to activate what Brennan Manning calls, Ruthless Trust!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Waterfront Community Church is giving it all away!

Here's a video from NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams about Waterfront Community Church in Schaumburg, a church that gives all of it's weekly offerings to help the poor!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Trusting God in tough times

My word this week is from Ps. 78:19-22. The whole chapter is good, but basically God is ticked with the Israelites cuz they don’t remember all of the things he provided for them. They say, “Can God spread a table in the desert?… When the Lord heard them, he was very angry… for they did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance.”

Monday, March 02, 2009

Led to Pray

I don’t even remember why I was so exhausted and depressed. I just know I went to bed with an oppressive foreboding that I couldn’t shake. Everything in me ached. I struggled with my “dark night of the soul” until I fell into a fitful, anxiety ridden sleep.

I awoke the next morning to the sound of my alarm awakening me to attend a 6:00 AM church prayer meeting. Instantly I knew something had changed. My heart was light and cheery. I bounced out of bed delighted to face the day. My heart sang with joy. I danced my happy self into the living room of one of our church members where a small group of prayer warriors were gathered.

“Arloa, are you alright?” asked Dorrine Kain worriedly. Dorrine’s brother, Lester Foster, had been staying at her home while on furlough from his missionary work in Bolivia.

“Yes, I am great!” I responded. “Why do you ask?”

“My brother, Les, just returned from his two hour prayer walk. He told me that for some reason this morning, God led him to pray for you and he has been fervently interceding for you for the past two hours!”

I was dumbfounded. First of all by the immense love God had for me, and secondly that Les Foster had made himself available to God at 4 AM which was his daily practice and that he had been obedient to the call of God to pray for me! For two hours, while I slept, Lester Foster was wrestling in the spirit world for my soul!

The following Sunday I caught him at the door of our church. “Les, thank you so much for praying for me,” I told him. “You couldn’t have known how important it was to me at that moment!”

He looked caringly into my grateful eyes and replied assuredly, “I know”.

I wish I could tell you that I have that kind of prayer life. I don’t. People who sacrifice sleeping in or watching television to intercede in prayer for others, know something about laying down their lives to follow Jesus that I hunger for. Their obedience to the call to prayer effectively influences the deep spiritual work of pulling down strongholds and changing the course of our lives. The work of prayer is the most important work we can do. I know I need to be surrounded by people who know how to pray and I need to prioritize my personal time with God above all.