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Archive for the ‘poverty’ Category

I Love Satire

Satire has a way of exposing significant issues.  This video offers the two extremes: the spoiled child and the impoverished child.  I love the comparison.

My wife and I were talking about this and realized that the problem lies on both ends.  Wealth that leads to affluenza, which is another way of saying selfishness, is not the solution.  But lack of wealth, or poverty is not the solution either.

This is why the Gospel makes sense to me.  It calls us to be stewards of what we’ve been given to address poverty, and in the process we get to be love to those around us.

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Believe it or not, only two questions about global poverty have been asked in the history of modern presidential debates, going back to Kennedy-Nixon in 1960. That’s less than 1% of all questions asked.

You can help change that.  One is launching a new campaign to get “Just ONE Question” about the fight against global poverty asked at the 2008 presidential debates.  If you would like to help, and I would encourage you to help, please follow the link and sign the petition.

This is your opportunity to take a small step that would have huge repercussions.

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Spiritual Poverty

What would you say is your most valuable possession, the one thing you wouldn’t trade for the world?

When I was in college I didn’t have any money and I remember the feeling of wanting a car, any car.  At one point I remember thinking I’d trade anything for it.  But when I got that car, I no longer wanted it because honestly it was a piece of crap. So what changed?

My perception.

When I was five, twenty-five cents was a lot of money.  When I was fifteen, twenty-five dollars was a lot of money.  When I was twenty-five, twenty-five thousand dollars was a lot of money.  When I was thirty-five, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars was a lot of money. Again what changed was my perception.  And what surprised me was that the more money I had, the more money I wanted.  What I had was never really enough.  Consumption is what we’re taught to do, right?  But I noticed the older I got the more it began to fail me.  Money didn’t really satisfy me.  It simply allowed me to choose my problems.

Did I want a high mortgage?  Did I want a larger car payment?  Did I want to keep up with the Jones’?

When I made the choice to follow Jesus, I began to recognize how much He simply wasn’t as consumed with money as I was.  In fact he was likely to ask me to give more and more of it away.  Kind of backwards from what I have thought all a long.  Instead he placed a premium value on my soul.  This was interesting to me.  I began to ask why.  And then I read verses like this:

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for? (Matthew 16:24-26)

And I began to ask if I had traded my own soul.  And to be honest, I had.  Money meant security, but that very security seemed to cut me off from those around me.  With money I could build bigger fences.  I could avoid the distinct truth of how I had cut myself off from relationships. My own stuff had blinded me to the reality of my own brokenness.  Wealth allowed me to refuse to see what had been imprisoning me.  If I needed a pick-me-up to feel good I just went and bought something.

Jesus began to teach me to give generously, which seems really stupid at first.  What could possibly be served by giving the money away and typically to people I didn’t know.  But what surprised me is that giving generously and even blindly had its way of putting me in touch with who I really am.  I am designed in His image.  I am designed to love.  And money has a distinct way of taking care of people’s needs in a very real way.  It’s very pragmatic that way.  And when I began to give, I began to connect to something deeper. In the giving I began to receive a very different gift, my own soul.

And if I have a soul…that means everyone has a soul.  And if mine is valuable…then everyone’s is valuable.

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This post is part of a Synchroblog on poverty.  A list of participants is below:

Phil Wyman at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Adam Gonnerman: Echoes of Judas
Cobus van Wyngaard: Luke: The Gospel for the Rich
Lainie Petersen at Headspace
Steve Hayes: Holy Poverty
Jonathan Brink: Spiritual Poverty
Dan Stone at The Tense Before
Jeremiah: Blessed are the poor… churches…
Alan Knox: Boasting in Humiliation
Miss Eagle: Poverty and the Hospitable Heart
Jimmie: Feeding the Poor

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I’m not naive enough to think I can change the lives of a billion people, but I can be a small part of a large group of people attempting to address the issue.

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I wrote this post a year and a half ago when I first started blogging. I’m reposting it as a follow on to today’s earlier post. One is still the best campaign out there for fighting poverty.

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Yesterday I was in line to get a cup of coffee and I saw a man with a bunch of rubber bracelets. You know the kind Lance Armstrong started with his Livestrong campaign. I thought Livestrong was a brilliant idea. Then everyone had them. They were everywhere, which is simply a testimony to how great the idea was.

I even got one. It said “courage” on it. I actually got it from Taco Bell for 25 cents from a vending machine. My son, who is four always gets two quarters when we go to Taco Bell and he didn’t have a clue what it was. He just knew it wasn’t the Ninja guy he wanted. So he gave it to me. I wore it for a while because I like what it meant. I liked being reminded of the idea of courage. Unfortunately it was cheap (what do you expect for a quarter) and broke after about a month. I threw it away and didn’t think about it for a while.

And then a good friend of mine gave me a ONE bracelet. I believe in the One Campaign and what they are doing for social justice and fighting poverty. The ONE bracelets are made really well and they are white. I put it on and that was that.

So yesterday when I saw this guy in line I began to think of why I wear the bracelet. It has now been over 9 months that I’ve had it on and I have thought about the question before. Did I wear it because I wanted to make people aware of ONE.org? Yeah, a little. Did I wear it because it makes a cool statement about who I am? Not really. Did I wear it because it looks cool and everyone is doing it? No.

I wear it because it reminds me that we are part of the human race. We are God’s creation first, connected together. I am called to love and be loved in community. The bracelet reminds me of that. It reminds me to remember those less fortunate than myself. It reminds me to love my neighbor and to be part of the solution.

That’s why I wear the bracelet.

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Stop asking God to bless what you are doing.  And start asking God what he is doing because its already blessed. (Some guy who influences Bono)

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So I’m watching this commercial for a company that provides “cash” loans that you “call” to use their services. It’s a stupid commercial but it was live on my DVR so I had to sit through it. And then the fine print comes up. And it says,

“The APR for a typical loan of $2,600 is 99.25%.”

That’s right folks. 99.25%. That highway robbery. And you know who is going to call on stuff like this? The poor, the elderly, the widow. That’s right, the people who can’t afford to pay for it but who are so desperate they have no other option.

I get pissed when I see this crap.

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