Wednesday, June 2, 2010

3rd world near your world?

During the month of May we presented a weekly challenge for our church to help us understand how others in the world live. The idea was to walk in someone's shoes to see what it would be like to live in a culture where poverty was the norm. I have been to Mexico several times and I have seen poverty. I have recently been to Kenya and I have seen a people group living without basic necessities - such as clean water. I have watched on the news and seen the devastation in places like Haiti which was very poor to start with.

The first week's challenge was to live without power. Starting on Monday we turned off all the electrical breakers to our house except the one which powered our fridge. The experience was actually very good for us as a family. We talked more. We played games together. We discussed the way people in foreign places lived without electricity.

Ironically, late Tuesday night Bonnie discovered that her cell phone charger was missing and since our home phone would not work without power she was somewhat desperate to get a new charger so that she could take it to work and pirate enough power to charge her phone. Being the kind, considerate, loving, husband I volunteered to head out to Wal-Mart to see if we could remedy this problem.

As I turned off our street to head to Wal-Mart I noticed a gentleman walking past our street. I don't know why I noticed him. I see people walking all the time and routinely pass them without a second look. But for some reason I noticed this guy. Maybe it was the way he walked with purpose. Maybe it was that he was dressed in a uniform as though he was coming home from work. Maybe it was the week in which we were involved in that made me more in tune to others around me. But for whatever reason I noticed him and was compelled to turn around and ask if he needed a ride. So after a few blocks of waffle, I turned around and picked him up. This older gentleman was indeed walking home from work. He told me that he was a janitor or "floor technician" at one of the local Middle Schools. He had finished his shift and his ride did not show, so he was walking. I quickly calculated that he had already walked about 4 miles and when he told me where he lived I guessed he still had another 3 miles to go. I was glad to give this guy a ride. He seemed to be a hard working man who needed a ride home from a long day of work.

As we approached his neighborhood, he began to tell me that he and his brother were living in a house they had inherited from their father and that it needed some fixing. I don't know why he felt like telling me this. I guess it was just something he was thinking about and when you are with a stranger sometimes you will find yourself talking about stuff for no reason just to keep a conversation going. As we pulled into the driveway of this house he said these words, "Right now we are living without power." I think I said something spiritual and profound like, "Really?" as he exited my car.

I checked with the city the next day, there are less than 1% of our city who live without power. And part of that small percentage stepped into my car the week we are living without power. Again, "really?"

I don't know exactly where this will lead, but I do know that God is teaching me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

3rd world 2 your world

During the month of May Two Rivers has taken a challenge to live as others in the world live. We are hoping that by denying ourselves some of the things that we have become so comfortable with in our culture we might know what it is like to live, for just a few days and in some small ways, in a 3rd world country. The weekly challenges are as follows:

week one - live without power
week two - eat rice & beans
week three - bike to work
week four - live on $2 per day

The great thing about these weekly challenges is that each family can choose their level of involvement. This is also an anti-fundraiser meaning that you can give to a cause (Haiti) without spending any money. Simply take the money that you would have spent on power, gas, food etc. and give it to the cause. We are hoping to raise at least $1,000 to be given to help with ongoing relief efforts in Haiti.

The first week our family decided to turn off all of our breakers except the one to our refrigerator. We thought that buying ice, or letting the food we had go bad wasn't in the spirit of the event so we made that concession. The one other concession we made (for the sake of our marriage) was each morning I would turn on one breaker so that Bonnie could dry her hair as she got ready for work. Other than that we lived off the grid.

The week was a great experience for our family. We were able to talk to our girls about how others live in the world and they seemed to really get it. I know the teachers at their school think we are crazy, but they have a whole life in front of them to get used to that! One thing we learned is that we don't have to have some of the things we have. For instance: 500 cable channels: 20 minute steaming hot showers: air conditioning set at 65: constant entertainment: just to name a few. We also learned that the 3rd world isn't as far away as we thought. I will tell that story in my next post.

For now we know that sometimes simple is good. Conversation with your wife and family tops 'Funniest Home Videos.' Cool showers can be invigorating. Candles are romantic. Mac & cheese cooked on the grill tastes good. Denial is good for the soul. And God is still there, even in the dark.

More of my thoughts on this month later.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Last week I was reading from Psalm 10 about the time the earthquake happened in Haiti. Here is the first verse in this chapter...

1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

I guess the burden of what is happening in Haiti makes us wonder like David did, "Where is God in times of trouble?" I have been at the place in my life where I wondered the same thing. Ever looked over the edge of your life and asked, "Where are you God in this situation?" I think it is a natural thing to ask this question during difficulties. And I'm not sure that there is a hard and fast answer except this... He is always there. Whether we realize it or not. He is present. God may not interact the way we think he should but know that he is present. I believe that in the weeks and months to come we will see the end of this chapter played out in Haiti...

17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

May we always know, even if we question, that God is ever present. He is real. He is God.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

how majestic

I am spending this week in Myrtle Beach with some good friends. I woke up to a view of the ocean and a very nice sunrise. Then I read this passage...

Psalm 8
A psalm of David.

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Monday, January 11, 2010

crouching sin, hidden God?

Genesis 4:7

Since I was a kid I have always had a fear that God was watching me. I guess it comes from the theology that God is omnipresent, meaning He is everywhere. It sorta reminds me of the old 'He sees when you are sleeping, He knows when you're awake, He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.' I've always thought Santa was a little creepy because of that song. But recently I have been rethinking this idea of God. I don't believe that God is watching and trying to find out who's 'naughty and nice.'

Just after Cain was disheartened by rejection of his offering to God, Cain is depressed. Genesis 4:7 - God comes to Cain and makes this statement, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

This is not the childhood picture of God sneaking around to catch you in a sin. Rather this is God pleading with Cain before he sinned - asking him to consider what he is about to do. I hear these words echoing through history, "sin is crouching at your door" God is saying, "Be careful. Don't sin." Not "A-ha I caught you! Now you are going to Hell!" Our God loves us. He wants us to do what is right. Not because He sneaks around, but because He wants relationship with us. If we sin, we separate ourselves from God.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
Or stand in the way of sinners
Or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

This is what I hope this year is for me. Seeking God. Meditating on His word. Not afraid of God catching me in sin, rather firmly planted by streams of water. And this is my prayer for us all.

Friday, January 8, 2010

inspiring records

Matthew 1:1-17

One of my new year's resolutions is to be more organized. This week I couldn't find some paperwork we needed to wrap up some stuff from 2009, so I looked and looked and searched and searched and it didn't help that there was someone waiting for the info. I went to where I knew it was and only half was there. After about twenty minutes of looking and sweating, I found it, but I wish I were more organized.

While I was reading the first chapter of Matthew this week it struck me how precise the accounting of Jesus family tree is recorded here in this gospel. Fourteen generations from Jesus back to the exile, fourteen generations from the exile to David, and fourteen generations from David to Abraham. Honestly, I'm not sure who my great grandparents are on either side of my family.

My Dad has done some research into our family history, but we are still not sure exactly where our heritage comes from. We think Scotland, but we can't say for sure. You would think with the record keeping in modern history that we could at least go back a couple hundred years so that we could determine where our relatives moved to the U.S. from, but we have not figured it out.

That makes the record keeping in Matthew 1 that much more impressive. Would it even be possible to keep records like that without the help of God? Several thousand years of records. All pointing to one fact - Jesus is God. He is the promised Messiah. All pointing to one truth - God is God. He is the inspired genealogist.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 Reading Plan

Click HERE to download a PDF of the Two Rivers Church 2010 Bible Reading Plan. Then subscribe to this blog to follow my progress. I will post a couple entries weekly that correspond to the week's reading.

grace & peace.