Archive for October, 2006

The Slightly Cynical Side

Posted: October 26, 2006 in Everything

As you can see, I’ve been posting videos and thoughts about the One Campaign. I think it is a wonderful, hopeful campaign that is bringing people of different faiths and beliefs together to add their voice of concern to the on-going genocide, HIV/AIDS pandemic, hunger, poverty, disease and war in Africa. The problem there is enormous. For example, I recently heard that HIV/AIDS education is so poor in Africa that many men who have contracted HIV/AIDS–and whom are not faithful to one woman or their wives–believe that the way to get rid of AIDS is to have sex with a virgin. Therefore, young girls are being raped, getting AIDS, and some are giving birth to children who are born with AIDS. So something needs to be done.

But then I also have a more cynical side. I was at home with my wife when we saw Bono on Oprah. Now, you must understand, I don’t like Oprah! Never have! I think she’s self-important and condescending. But I will say that she is one of the few people I know of who have decided that wealth and power aren’t just for her own use. So, I guess at the end of the day, I do kinda, sorta like Oprah, maybe.

Anyway, the two–Bono and Oprah–were discussing and launching the Red campaign. At first, I thought it was great. Red ipods. Red T-shirts. Red. Red. Red!

But then I thought, “How sad!” The devastation occurring in Africa isn’t moving enough to get Americans involved on its own. We have to have products to get us interested! Now in a way this is good. For instance, people who are preparing to purchase Christmas gifts can give Red products and part of the money will go to a good cause. But how consumeristic are we? I mean, I saw the Red iPod and wanted one. My current iPod, which I got for free with my computer, works fine. What’s more, if you buy the Red iPod ONLY $10 goes to humanitarian aid. $10! I think it would be much better for people like me just to give $10 directly to a charity, which is what my wife and I did this week.

It appears that we are caught in the pull between generosity to others and consuming for ourselves. Perhaps there are some things we can do to help us bridge the gap between what we are and what we need to be? So here are some ideas to consider as you think about how to use your voice and power over the next few months.

1. Make your holiday season about others. Give to charity. Take your children to work with the poor and homeless. Limit Christmas gifts to one per person and use the money you would normally spend helping to change the world and joining the mission of God in our world.

2. Find a charity or issue that you care about and talk about it with your friends. Dedicate what you have–time, dollars, influence, contacts.

3. During Thanksgiving eat with another family (outside your biological-extended one), share the cost and use the extra cash to support a shelter or ministry feeding the homeless. Or actually go and feed the hungry with your family.

4. If your church has small groups adopt a project or less-fortunate family to help through the holidays. Pray with them, care for their kids and give lots of love.

5. Make Christmas about Jesus. Take your family to as much Jesus related stuff as possible and limit trips to the mall–maybe just go for a Santa Claus visit. Rochelle and I have done this, and for a former Christmas-hater, it has saved Christmas for me.

Behind the Scenes of ONE

This week I’ve been focusing on the ONE Campaign. Here’sa video with some of the participants–particularly Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback–talking about why One is important.

One Vote

My daughter has everything in the world she needs: books, more toys than she can play with, DVD’s, markers crayons and coloring books, clothes, access the healthcare and medicine, a church who loves her, friends, great grandparents and great-grandparents. She has parents who think she spun the world into existence and she has so much food that she can eat as much or as little as she wants any time of day.

Sadly, not all children have what she has. Every 3 seconds a child dies in underdeveloped parts of our world. What’s more, they are dying from completely treatable diseases. Treatable!

What’s happening in our world transcends politics and political parties. It’s about joining God on a mission to save the world, and a lot of peopl are joining in.

Our country has an embarassment of riches, and to whom much is given much is required. This November, I think our votes (and early voting has already started) is not just about who will lower our taxes or serve us. We are all stewards of one vote. We have been given a gift from God–like all gifts from God–that is intended to be used for the benefit and blessing of the world.

Go vote!

The ONE Campaign

I am so pleased that the hearts of so many people–both Christians and non-Christians– are responding to the tragedies of poverty, hunger and AIDS in Africa. The One Campaign–as this video shows–has brought together some of the most unlikely people to help people in need. I encourage you to visit the One campaign. You can simply click of the banner at the top right of this page. There are a lot of different ways to help.

I truly thank God for people like Bono who have helped the Christian church identify the need and recognize where and how we can join God on His mission to save the world.

Do what you can.

God bless!

Grace, Joy and Forgiveness

Posted: October 16, 2006 in Everything

Yesterday’s sermon was entitled: A Community of Grace, Joy and Forgiveness. The genesis of my thinking on this subject lies in a phone call I recieved over two years ago from a distraught, hurting young woman. Honestly, in the preparing and even the preaching of the sermon I thought it was one of the worst sermons I had ever put together.

The response from the congregation said otherwise–show’s you what I know. The response was overwheleming in fact!

Anyway, for those of you wanting to dig deeper, I commend to you F. Leron Shults’ The Faces of Forgiveness. Leron is a brilliant scholars with two Ph.D’s. He is also very involved in the Emergent conversation and a native Texan, though you’d never know it when you meet him. Currently, Shults is professor of Theology at Adger University in Norway.

Quick Hitters…

Posted: October 9, 2006 in Everything

A new dose of my favorite commercials www.apple.com/getamac/
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For those of you who don’t know, my wife, Rochelle, is pregnant again. She is due in February! My old college roomate, Chad, and his wife just had a baby boy. One of the guys in my current prayer group is expecting his first son in February. One of the kids I used to teach while I was in college is expecting her first daughter soon. And one of the other ministers on staff here is adopting a baby from China soon. Everywhere I turn it’s baby fever.

We’re having a girl, any name ideas?

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My main football team, the Florida State Seminoles are down. My second team, and my wife’s graduate school alma mater, Texas, is back in the National Championship hunt. Texas’ QB’s parents and grandparents went to Abilene Christian University, of which I serve on the Alumni Advisory Board. Gotta be good people!

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I’ve been reading a lot of church history lately. It’s amazing the church has survived. Only God could work through such feeble people.

Blessings….

Appreciation!

Posted: October 5, 2006 in Everything

Don’t forget, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Gifts are accepted!