Thursday, January 22

Thanks Rev. Fischler...

H/T to Dave Fischler over at The Reformed Pastor for the posting the great video and insight re: the arrangement of political constellations this past week. I'll let you read his comments. You can watch the video either on his site of below.

Makes you sort of stop and think doesn't it.


Monday, January 19

The Dream: a process of fulfillment...

I just finished watching CNN's broadcast of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream Speech". Listening to the entire speech several things struck me. First of all how much I appreciate the African-American style of preaching. Dr. King didn't give a speech he preached a sermon. Secondly, I was struck how much of a prophet Dr. King was. He spoke of the "manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination" which were/are a reality for the African-American.

Undoubtedly on his mind was one Gov. George Wallace of Alabama who declared in his inaugural speech in January of 1963, "In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." The photo of Gov. Wallace blocking the entrance to the school is an enduring reminder of the division that existed [and still exists to some extent] in our nation.

Dr. King's prophetic gift is noted in how Gov. Wallace was transformed by suffering. In his message, Dr. King said, "Some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive" [Emphasis is mine].

A 1995 Washington Post article recounts how the suffering of Gov. Wallace, following his assignation attempt had opened the door for change. Stephen Lesher tells of a surprise visit to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1979. This had been Martin Luther King's congregation in the 50's. Wallace reportedly said, "I have learned what suffering means. In a way that was impossible {before the shooting}, I think I can understand something of the pain black people have come to endure. I know I contributed to that pain, and I can only ask your forgiveness." In 1995 he met with some 200 veterans of the Selma to Montgomery march and told them, "Much has transpired since those days. A great deal has been lost and a great deal gained, and here we are. My message to you today is, welcome to Montgomery. May your message be heard? May your lessons never be forgotten." And as reported by the Washington Post reports he held hands with black southerners and sang "We Shall Overcome."

I have no delusion about President Obama's inauguration ending inequality for African-Americans, Latinos, Christians or any other group. That is a part of our fallen nature that will be overcome totally only when Christ Kingdom comes in its fullness. There will still be unneeded traffic stops in our fair city, hate crimes and stupid people who are allowed to voice their hatred and cast a ballot.

What I do have is a sense of God's presence in all that has happened and will happen. I believe, and will pray for a community and nation in which justice and mercy, strength and steadfastness is forged in the lives of people throughout our nation without regard to looks and language.


Wednesday, January 14

Imagine No Religion... huh!?!

Recently Portland got a booster shot of liberal/humanist hubris in the form o ten billboards from The Freedom From Religion's, "Imagine No Religion" campaign. As one whose life and livelihood originates from and is centered in the area of religion let me respond to such an imagination.

Imagine no religion and you have to:

Imagine no civil rights movement...Let's start with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy, T.J. Jamison, Joseph Lowery, Fred Shuttleworth and Rev. Jesse Jackson to name a few. Without such people there would have been no non-violent protests voter rights or education for African-Americans. Go to 1775 when "Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage" was organized in Philadelphia having been founded by Quakers.

Imagine no Habitat for Humanity, Oxfam, Medical Teams International, or Christmas in Action...Start with Clarence Jordan, a Christian who began Koinonia Farm in Georgia in 1942. Add Millard and Linda Fuller, who left an affluent life for a place in which they could live out their Christian values and you have an organization which has dedicated over 300,000 homes and provided shelter to 1.5 million people around the world. Oxfam, began by Quakers, help people deal with disaster, warfare, labor rights issues and situations such as clean water and access to resources.

"Medical Teams International, formerly Northwest Medical Teams came about because of a business man's TV viewing. He saw a young Cambodian refugee, about the age of his daughter, and wondered, "What if that refugee were my own daughter? He asked God about how he could make a difference and Ron Post was leading medical people overseas in less than a month.

Christmas in Action, formerly Christmas in April", happened when 1972 Bobby Trimble took a Sunday school lesson at his Midland church to the extreme and started what would quickly become a national program benefiting thousands. “I was teaching from the second book of James, somewhere around the 14th verse,” Trimble said. “To paraphrase, it says if you see someone in need of food and clothing and you say, ‘I will pray for you,’ what good have you really done that person. I told the class that that’s what the churches were doing. So we started working on the homes of some of the women of the church.”

Imagine no relief efforts and crews in New Orleans and Texas following hurricanes. A year after Hurricane Katrina blew into New Orleans faith-based groups still hand out emergency food and items to those who live in the area. To this day Presbyterian Village continues to operate as a base from which crews of youth and families are sent out to make a difference in the New Orleans area.

Imagine the millions of children who would die without sponsorship from World Vision, Compassion International and other such groups
. Both these major organizations flowed from pastors and mission people seeing the need of hungry and orphaned children. Founded at the end of the Korean Conflict their focus was on Southeast Asia but has grown to include six continents.

ChhunNa an HIV/AIDS child in Cambodia receives “school materials, pen, bag and clothes" and even "a lovely bicycle from the project; I will ride a bicycle to school instead walking. The staff members give me and my family encouragement and strength". In addition World Vision workers attempt to work in communities to end the discrimination for those with HIV/AIDS.

Anna, a six year old, in the Dominican Republic, who doesn't smile and when her mother is asked what the Compassion team could pray about, said she didn't "believe that God will answer any of her prayers or dreams for her children." But because of one Christian she has as Brian Seay says, "Melanie [who sponsors Anna] is now one of the only people in Anna’s life that will consistently tell her she is loved and it’s ok to dream big dreams because God will hear her prayers.

More could be said about the Renaissance and keeping learning alive during the "dark ages". Even more could be said about those who, because of their faith, were challenged to do what was right, [if you're an atheist I'm not sure what you base "rightness" upon] even though it was risky, dangerous or deadly. It is apparent to me that the pseudo-intellectual non-religious just don't know about what they're talking. I shouldn't be surprised.


Tuesday, January 6

Mac World rocks the church

With both MacWorld in San Franciso and CES in Las Vegas it is time to consider how the new technology will touch the work of God's people in our daily life. Those in the pulpits and those on the pews both will have the chance to do some amazing things with these new innovations. Take a look at this new introduction from Apple and dream big people.


Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard