On sweatshops, stuff, stewardship and starfish*

UnknownJust been thinking a lot lately about ‘stuff.’ We clearly have too much of it. I have been on a mission this year to clear out one room a month of unnecessary stuff. My new motto is: if it doesn’t serve a purpose and we do not love it, then we must get it to a new owner to find a new purpose and a new love. There are so many great organizations to donate to. Doing so has made me acutely aware of how we have been blessed. And how that blessing can become a burden if not managed with good stewardship.

Our family has had many discussions over the past couple years about this whole topic. We have all become more mindful and intentional in our buying. I have (too) often brought things home thinking I ‘needed’ them, but within that 60 day return period I have been convicted to march many things right back to the store where purchased. Confession: I thought I needed a new summer Kate Spade bag in a bright new color – even though I had a drawer of ‘summer bags’ from years past that are quite adorable. I returned it and didn’t look back. I kept thinking how much good that money could do through several great charities we support.

We are faced with decisions everyday on how to spend our money. Our family has decided that ‘less is indeed more.’ We still struggle and we still love new things, but what has changed is that we are all much more intentional. Leaning on Luke 12:48 “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” We desire to be good stewards.

I have been reading Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo and it is excellent! I’m in the last chapter on Dialogue on National Debt and this quote by Shane really drives this home in such a poignant way:

“One of the most powerful protests I’ve ever been to was about sweatshops. But this one was different. Instead of bringing in activists and speakers, they flew in the kids from the sweatshops to tell their stories. I remember this one kid had a scar all the way down his face, and he said, “This is from my master who beats me almost every day.” He said, “One day he beat me so bad my face was bleeding and then he took a lighter and burnt my face back together so I could keep working. And all of this was so I could make stuff for you.” That was his last line. I remember thinking, Jesus feels the scar down that kid’s face, for as we do it to the least of these we do it to Christ. Who are the masters I give money to and don’t even know it? 7″

I want to ramp up my monetary stewardship to be so highly intentional that I consider that young boy who is being abused under the guise of consumerism. There are so many difficult issues mentioned here. Complicated, yet simple. It can be so overwhelming. I just want to be sure and do my part. I want to make a difference in some way, every day. Like the story goes: “An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. ‘Why do you bother?’ the old man scoffed. ‘You’re not saving enough to make a difference.’ The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. ‘Made a difference to that one,’ he said.”

And to ‘that one’ the difference is huge.


*Dedicated to my longtime neighbor, turned dear friend. She has inspired me on this journey of peeling off stuff. She has endured more that anyone should have to in this life. She may not realize it or know it, but she has been a great example of persevering through and in the impossible.

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What Hollywood gets wrong about heaven


Not so much a movie review. Just some good thoughts to mull. :)

Originally posted on CNN Belief Blog:

Opinion by Drew Dyck , special to CNN  (CNN) — The 4-year-old boy sees angels floating toward him. They start out as stars, then slowly become more visible, wings flapping behind orbs of white light.

As they approach, they sing a melodious song. The boy cocks his head, squints into the sky, and makes a strange request. “Can you sing ‘We Will Rock You’?”

The angels giggle.

So do people in the theater.

The scene is from “Heaven is for Real,” the latest in a string of religious movies soaring at the box office. Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film tells the real-life story of Colton Burpo, a 4-year-old boy who awakens from surgery with eye-popping tales of the great beyond. The film took in an estimated $21.5 million in opening on Easter weekend.

Even Colton’s religious parents (his dad, Todd, is a pastor) struggle…

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What would we do if we only had one week to live? Jesus borrowed a donkey, washed dirty feet, and got crucified.


More thoughts on Holy Week.

Originally posted on Eugene Cho:


Imagine if you had only one week to live, or one month, or one year. Seriously, take a few minutes to imagine the mental and emotional anguish.

Imagine if you knew that you were going to only live until you were 33 years old and that your death would come in the most horrific manner imaginable.

As some may know, “Palm Sunday” marks the beginning of Passion Week – the final week of Jesus’ life on earth. As we engage in Passion Week, it’s important to take some time to reflect on the life of Jesus and in particularly, his final week. Some may make the mistake of thinking or assuming that since Jesus was fully God, he didn’t experience human anguish. But Jesus wasn’t just fully God, he chose to be fully human. He was God who assumed humanity. He took upon himself flesh and bone. And in and through…

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The Heartbreak of Foster Care


Beautiful and true words.

“I couldn’t do that.” Well, I’ve said that too, so coming from the other side, and with no malice, let me just say, yes. Yes you could.

We choose not to.

Originally posted on Daddy's Tractor:

I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently: lots of funny looks and tiny head shakes. Its not something I write about on the blog, but since there’s interest, I’ll answer. People don’t get why I’ve opened up my home to a foster child.

I understand that. I really do. And maybe I can explain it to you and maybe I can’t. I went through a process to get here myself. Basically it boils down to this.

Love is always worth it.

But to open yourself up for heartbreak? People tell me “I couldn’t do that.” Well, I’ve said that too, so coming from the other side, and with no malice, let me just say, yes. Yes you could.

We choose not to.

The heartbreak of foster care

I mean, there’s nothing glamorous about it. You voluntarily allow a child into your home whose parents are probably less than stellar. They come with lice (or worse)…

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prayer for Holy Wednesday

Originally posted on Jesus community:

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer

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The Dilemma of Christian Wealth: A Forum


An interesting conversation….

Originally posted on Above The Fold:


Image Source

Written by: Matthew Moore

As someone who grew up in the church, wealth has always felt like a taboo word. I spent the majority of my college life wrestling with the juxtaposition of living a Christ-centered life while still studying and pursuing a career as a business man. The idea of a Christian being wealthy is something that’s always made me feel unsettled. That feeling becomes even more magnified when we see articles about pastors building million dollar mansions and have reality shows that document the lives of well-to-do pastors in Los Angeles.

This is something I will forever struggle with, and I am certain I am not alone in this dilemma. In an effort to try and make sense of such a sensitive subject, I have asked some very knowledgeable friends to help me explore this topic. Below I have asked a set of questions and provided their responses. Our forum today…

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On (all the craziness surrounding) Noah~

UnknownLast weekend we were honored to have friends visit us from their neck of the woods in Danville, Indiana. We love them. We are kindred spirits in many ways- even when we disagree on things. They are lovely Christians. The kind that draw you in. And well, they wanted to see a movie or two while in town. The first one we saw was Noah. None of us loved it. Nevertheless, it was entertaining. Who knew? Who knew what a firestorm was brewing. It was crazy.

Things started popping up on Facebook right and left. And it wasn’t the posts that were disturbing, it was all the comments that ensued on those posts. Christians were downright angry. Angry at an atheist, angry at a story and most had not even seen the movie. Someone said no ‘true believer’ would go and see a movie like that. Well, we are true believers and our dear friends are beautiful true believers and we all went to see it. The next day when we arrived at the theatre to see the second movie choice for the weekend, we ran into some of the gentlest and loveliest true believers we know and they were there to see Noah, along with several others from our church. We were very curious as to whether or not they would like it. We spoke with them on Sunday and one of them said it had one of the most beautiful depictions of creation he had ever seen. We talked about the examples of God’s love and mercy that were present as well as the rainbow as God’s promise to mankind. We talked about the Bible apps reporting that people reading in the book of Genesis was up over 250%. We talked about how big God is and how He can use things for His good. And He does. And He has. We also talked about the weird stones. Which were weird.

I read this quote somewhere before we even went to see the movie and I still believe it makes an important point for true believers. “The Gospel isn’t at stake when a movie comes out. It may be more at stake when people watch Christians get frantic, as if the Christian faith is such a fragile thing that a movie threatens its integrity. If the Gospel is at stake, it may be more because of how some Christians react.” Condemning people for seeing a movie is outlandish. Have an opinion, but don’t condemn.

Another of my true believer friends said there was a really good interview with the director in the Washington Post last weekend. If you chose to see the movie or not, this is worth the read: Conversation with Noah Director

Here’s another interesting interview: The Faithfulness of the Noah Film

Now seriously, love and peace to all!





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Why is it wrong for a woman to preach?


Preach away! My husband’s grandmother was a preacher in the Church of the Nazarene & started more churches in Virginia than any man. Preach on.

Originally posted on A Woman at the Well:

no girls allowed.007 In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus teaches the parable of the talents. Their master gave three servants talents. The first two go and trade and increase their talents, but the third servant in the parable, knowing what is expected of him, still goes and buries his talent because he is afraid. When the master returns to settle accounts with his servants, the first two are praised, but the third servant is reprimanded. This well-known parable teaches us that as servants of God we are responsible to use the gifts and abilities that the Lord has given us, not to bury them.Why do some in the church place restrictions on women that prevent them from utilizing the gifts and abilities given to them by God?  Since God instructs us to use our talent, why are some in the church telling us that we have to go bury it?

I am a woman who has…

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On green pastures~

This restores my soul….
“Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love-Isaac-and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there…”
-Genesis 22
This passage is a classic example of the kind of story you find in the Bible that causes many people to ask What does a story like this about a man named Abraham and his son possibly have to to teach us? And to be more specific: What kind of God would ask a man to sacrifice his son?
That’s the question isn’t it? I’m writing this section because there’s an answer. A clear, black and white, unequivocal answer to that question right here in this story.
To get to that answer we’ll need to first spent some time on the history of religion, then we’ll notice a few details in the story, and then we’ll answer the question.
The history of religion, then, in one paragraph: Early humans came to the realization that their survival as a species was dependent on things like food and water. And for food to grow it needs sun and water in proper proportion. Too much water and things wash away, not enough and plants die. Too much sun and plants wilt, not enough and they die as well. These basic observations brought people to the conclusion that they were dependent on unseen forces they could not control for their survival. (Which was actually a monumental leap at that time…) The belief (I use that word intentionally) arose that these forces are either on your side or they aren’t. And how do you keep these forces on your side? The next time you have a harvest, you take a portion of that harvest and you offer it on an altar as a sign of your gratitude. Because you need the forces (gods and goddesses) on your side. Now imagine what happened when people would offer a sacrifice but then it didn’t rain or the sun didn’t shine or their animals still got diseases or they were unable to have children-obviously, they concluded, they didn’t offer…say it with me now…ENOUGH. And so they offered more. And more and more. Because what religion had built in to it from the very beginning was something called anxiety. You never knew where you stood with the gods. The gods are angry, the gods are demanding, and if you don’t please them they will punish you by bringing calamity. But what if things went well? What if it rained just the right amount and the sun shined just the right amount-what if it appeared that the gods were pleased with you? Well then, you’d need to offer them thanks. But how would you ever know if you’d properly showed them how grateful you were? How would you know you’d offered ENOUGH? If things went well, you never knew if you’d been grateful enough and offered enough, and if things didn’t go well clearly you hadn’t done…enough. Anxiety either way. (This is why the book of Leviticus is so revolutionary-we’ll get to that later…). Now, stay with me here, because this is where things get dodgy: Whether things went well or not, the answer was always sacrifice more. Give more. Offer more. Because you never knew where you stood with the gods. And so you’d offer part of your crop. And you’d offer a goat. Maybe a lamb. Maybe a cow. Maybe a few cows. Maybe some birds. The very nature of early religion (Early? And not now? More on that in a bit..) is that everything escalated because in your anxiety to please the gods you kept having to offer more. And what’s the most valuable thing you could offer the gods to show them how serious you were about earning their favor? A child. Of course. Can you see how child sacrifice lurks on the edges of the Old Testament? It’s where religion took you. To the place where you’d offer that which was most valuable to you.
Now, to the Abraham story.
When God tells Abraham to offer his son, he isn’t shocked, because
early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey
Abraham gets right to it. He doesn’t argue, he doesn’t protest, he doesn’t drag his feet. He clearly knows what to do and so he does it.
Of course. That’s how Abraham understood religion worked. The gods demanded that which was most valuable to you. And if you didn’t give it, you’d pay the price. That’s what the world was like at that time.
(Awful, I know.)
So Abraham sets out, and
he reaches the place on the third day.
So for three days he and his son travel, three days in which his son is a good as dead. (Hmmmmm…)
When they get to the mountain, what does Abraham say to the servants? (Come on now, you know this!) (Actually, I wouldn’t know either if I hadn’t read it.)
He says to them
Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.
Wha…..? Abraham is going to offer his son, right? That’s what the story is about, correct? God telling Abraham to offer his son and so he does it-or at least proves that he would do it-that’s the point, isn’t it?
But what Abraham says to the servants is that he’s going to go offer his son and then come back with his son. (All the lights on your dashboard should be blinking by now. There is something else going on in this story. Just below the surface. The story is subverting itself, begging you to see something far more significant going on.)
As they walk up the mountain Isaac asks Abraham where the sacrifice will come from-this is so morbid, isn’t it? Because in the standard reading of the story he’s going to his death because his dad loves God so much. (Please tell me you find this utterly repulsive. I remember a well known preacher telling me that when his son was a teenager he took his son up on a hill and read him this story and then the preacher told his son that he would always love God more than him. He told me the story like it was an admirable thing he did to teach his son about devotion to God. I wanted to throw up.) But we’ve already seen Abraham tip his hat that something else is up. So we’re not buying that angle.
Abraham’s answer? God himself will provide.
Clever. It’s a non-answer answer. Abraham is in on the joke. Or whatever it is you’d call it.
And then Abraham gets ready to offer his son but he doesn’t because God stops him and then he offers a ram instead. End of story.
Except that it isn’t.
An angel shows up and says that Abraham is going to be blessed and
through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed…
So, back to our original question: What kind of God would ask a man to sacrifice his son?
Now, an answer: Not this one.
The other gods may demand your firstborn, but not this God.
So if God doesn’t want Abraham to offer his son, why the charade?
Several responses:
First, the drama is the point. Abraham knows what to do when he’s told to offer his son because this is always where religion heads. So at first, this god appears to be like all the other gods. The story is like the other stories about gods who are never satisfied. The first audience for this story would have heard this before, it would have been familiar. But then it’s not. The story takes a shocking turn that comes out of nowhere. This God disrupts the familiarity of the story by interrupting the sacrifice. Picture an early audience gasping. What? This God stopped the sacrifice? Huh? The gods don’t do that!
Second, the God in this story provides. Worship and sacrifice was about you giving to the gods. This story is about this God giving to Abraham. A God who gives? Who provides?
Third, this isn’t a story about what Abraham does for God, it’s a story about what God does for Abraham. Mind blowing. New. Ground breaking. A story about a god who doesn’t demand anything but gives and blesses.
Fourth, Abraham is told that God is just getting started, and that this God is going to bless Abraham with such love and favor that through Abraham everybody on earth is going to be blessed. This God isn’t angry or demanding or unleashing wrath, this God has intentions to bless everybody. Abraham is invited to trust. To have faith. To believe. To live in these promises.
Can you see how many game changing ideas are in this one story? Can you see why people told this story? Can you see why it endured? Can you think of any other stories about a son who was as good as dead for three days but then lived in such a way that the story about him confronted the conventional wisdom of the day that the gods are angry and demanding with the insistence that God blesses and gives and provides and all that’s left to do is trust that God is really like that?rb”

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Thoughts on the Movie Noah


Noah, Noah, Noah. A good one here.

Originally posted on A pastor's pensees:

images I’m sure people are starting to get tired of reading “reviews” on the movie Noah but let me offer a few thoughts. I have to be honest though, I’m a novice at critiquing film in the form of a “review”. But I do have a deep appreciation for beauty and the gospel so what follows are simply a few thoughts and not necessarily a review. This is the result of many conversations Kay and I had with two wonderful friends, Sam & Rebekah Rood after we saw the film together this weekend. The Roods minister with Jews for Jesus in New York City, so they are familiar with Judaism as well as Evangelical Christianity.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I would go see it only if you are willing to discuss it afterwards. If you watch it simply for entertainment value it will likely disappoint. My first thought is I recommend you at least have a…

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