Archive for October, 2007

Caffeine

Posted: October 30, 2007 in race relations

I might have jumped back in to the caffeine thing a little too quickly after having nothing but water for two weeks. Yesterday, I drank three large cups of coffee and a caffeinated soda late in the afternoon. I shouldn’t have. All day I was agitated. Little things got on my nerves. I felt aggressive. And all this on a day when I had fairly little anxiety. What’s more, I didn’t go to be until after midnight, then got up and went didn’t go back to bed until after 2 a.m. Plus, I was wide awake this morning. I gotta lay off the caffeine. Isn’t it interesting, the things we do to ourselves?

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I’m doing some writing about Churches of Christ racial reconciliation efforts in the late 60’s, particularly the Nashville and Atlanta meetings of 1968. Fascinating stuff! It makes me wonder where have all the prophetic and restorative justice voices gone in my fellowship of churches?One of the guys I interviewed made this statement about preaching on the subject in a racial tense time: “I had to ask, ‘Is my silence being bought?'” Always a good question ask, I think.

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Living Water – Final

Posted: October 28, 2007 in church, missional

I had a Coke Zero this afternoon. Our family, along with just a few others from our congregation were able to make it two weeks drinking only water as part of The H2O Project! Others in the church made it a week and some just 2 or 3 days. This morning our collection netted over $6,000 dollars.

I’m proud of what our efforts will net! Many people will have water and live disease free because of the efforts of one church.

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Since I’ve moved The Palmer Perspective to WordPress a number of my friends have made the move as well. For good reason too. You can moderate comments more easily. I saw this afternoon that one blog I read had been hit by another blogger who has an agenda for disavowing the divinity of Christ. This one particular blogger looks for blogs that have something to say about the virgin birth, then leaves comments trying to go all“DaVinci Code” on everyone. In fact, this blogger has been banned from commenting on at least one blog already. Just a reminder: Be careful what you listen to (or read).

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Give it Away

Posted: October 24, 2007 in church, giving, missional

Some people may ask, “Why give up drinks when I can just write a check to Living Water?” Here’s the reason: Sacrificial Giving!

For the vast majority of people I know, it is almost impossible for us to give sacrificially. Yet this is the kind of giving that is highlighted and celebrated in scripture time and time again. We are all so wealthy, so blessed that even when we give away large sums of money we either don’t miss it or readily have savings to replace what we gave. It’s hard — very hard — for us to go without. And because of it, we simply do not know how to sacrifice. It’s not necessarily our fault. We’ve never had to do it! And because we’ve never had to, we miss the God-experience that both the biblical writers and our early Christian fathers and mothers had.

So we have to look!

We have to look for creative ways to experience what was so central to Biblical worship, because sacrifice is a foreign tongue to us. So here’s the challenge: In what ways can we step into a fuller worship of God, by living and giving sacrificially?

Hebrews 10.25 talks about believers encouraging one another. I never really got that verse. Probably because most of the time people used it they were focusing on “forsaking the assembly,” or something like that. But today I understand.

If you’ve checked this space lately, you noticed that our congregation is in the middle of participating in the H2O Project with the proceeds going to Living Water International.

The first time Rochelle and I did the project, not drinking water was very difficult. This time that hasn’t been hard at all. This time other things have been hard and discouraging, but today I got a HUGE dose of encouragement from believers.

First of all, funds have already come in from people who know they won’t be at our worship gathering this Sunday. I’m starting to feel that God is going to do some amazing things through our efforts. And secondly, one of my friends, Joe Hays, read about the project in this space and his church is planning on doing theĀ  project as well. When I think that $2,000 will give a community in India a well, and I imagine what our congregation can do and what Joe’s church (CCFB) can do, and what your church and 1,000’s of Christians can do, I’m floored.

For a long time I’ve spoken about changing the world, but now I’m actually starting to believe it!! We can do amazing things when we simply choose to do them! God acts through us in amazing ways.

Week Two

Posted: October 22, 2007 in giving, missional
Tags: ,

Yesterday, we began our second week of drinking only water. The money we save will go to Living Water International. I’m hopeful that our church will donate $2,000 so that we can have a dedicated well in India. If we are shy of that mark our money will go to Ghana or Uganda where wells have been damaged this past year and are in need of repair.

I’m proud of many people in our church who have suffered through caffeine headaches and forsaken their typical comforts (and frankly feel sad for those who are not participatingthere are some things about God that can only be experienced through a fast). It’s during these times that we need to remember that Jesus not only loves the poor, but he identifies with the poor. When Christ says, “What you did for the least of these, you did for me,” he is aligning himself with the poor. I’m not sure what this means, and I trust that Jesus loves all people, but Jesus never identifies with the wealthy in the same manner He does the poor.

Jesus says, “I’m not just concerned about the poor; I am one of them.”

As I drink my water and nothing else this week, I’m aware that I could much more easily write a check to Living Water than suffer by drinking only water. But by choosing to live without, I can catch a small glimpse of what life is like for the least. By giving up something, I can realize just how much I have. And just how much I have to give. And by choosing to live without, I join Jesus in identifying with the poor.

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P.S. Please keep in mind all our friends at Pepperdine University who are staring in the face of deadly wildfires.

Glad She Cares

Posted: October 17, 2007 in missional

The other night, as I was tucking my daughter in for the 7th time that evening, Malia looked up at me and asked, “Why do some people not have clean water?” The reason she asked is that lately Malia has forsaken children’s church and opted for “big church,” and she’s heard about our Living Water project and the fact that every 15 seconds a child dies from not having clean drinking water, and that what the U.S. spends on ice cream in one year could give the entire world clean water…forever!

At first, I was surprised that she had been paying that close attention, and was pleased that she asked about it. So, I told her that America had been tremendously blessed with resources and for a lot of reasons that no single person could fully articulate, our country had many great things but some other countries weren’t as fortunate. She responded, by telling me that she hoped those people got some clean water and that she was thankful for her water because you need water to make juice. She also said she was thankful for milk.

Malia is inheriting a different faith that I did. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the faith I received. The faith that thoughtful, faithful people passed on to me. I’m thankful for memory verses, lessons on the importance of going to church, learning about baptism and even singing in four part harmony. But Malia is learning that the when the baton of faith is passed on to you it comes with some responsibilities.

Responsibilities to love God AND love your neighbor. I love the fact that when she realizes that she has two of something, she wants to find someone to give one to. And I love that she loves to bake cookies and make brownies and take them to the elderly. She has instincts for others, and is learning that Jesus died so that we would not longer live for ourselves, but live for Jesus who died for us (2 Cor 5.15).

I have no illusions that Malia will have faith struggles and tests during her life. She may even come to reject some things her mother and I believe deeply, but I’m glad she is where she is now.

I’m glad, unlike so many other people I know, when she hears that there are kids going blind and dying from lack of clean water, she cares.

Dependent

Posted: October 16, 2007 in giving, ministry, missional

One of the deep questions fasting is designed to stir within us is, “What do I depend on?”

A year or so ago I had a conversation with Dr. David Wray, a professor at ACU who specializes in spiritual formation. Wray drinks nothing but water. I asked him why. He told me that several years previous he had noticed that he needed a little pick-me-up in the late afternoon to make it through the day. When he realized this, and as a devote practitioner of the spiritual disciplines, he decided that he was not going to be dependent on any substance.

I realize, as our church works through these two weeks of drinking nothing but water, that people are dependent upon a great many things — though we’re all too refined to admit it. I typically have one and a half cups of coffee in the morning and one Diet Coke in the late afternoon, so I can sympathize when people say, “I have to have my coffee.” But I do often wonder, “Really?”

Do we really need our coffee? Do we have to have a Coke? I bet when most of us think about it, we know that we don’t “need” those things. Furthermore, we love to hear sermons and read books about Jesus being “living water” and “the bread of life,” but, I’d guess, more of us are less sure about God actually sustaining us then we say we are.

And I don’t say this to beat people up. I’d enjoy a cup of coffee right now, myself. But the reason we fast is to witness and re-orient ourselves to the fact that we are in need of God and God alone. Upon Him alone do we depend! When we feel the pangs of desire for our favorite drinks, we can recall the fact that God alone gives us life and has been feeding and nourishing us throughout, though we live mostly unaware. And this experience changes the way we experience God and interact with one another.

So as we move forward with The H2O Project, I am thankful for those we will choose to donate money for wells, but I am reminded today that the blessing and the transformation is discovered in the fast. God is in the sacrifice!
And that’s not something I can teach in a lesson, sermon or blog.