Archives For poverty

I am hesitant to write this because I am paranoid and convinced (is that possible?) people will take this in a manner I do not intend. Still, the message is heavy on my heart, so I’ll ask you to please read this in the spirit it is intended, which is to further the Kingdom of Christ. It is not my intention to demean the laudable actions of others or to criticize any particular ministry. With the disclaimers out of the way, let’s begin.

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This past weekend I had the thrill and sorrow of attending a concert with about 10,000 other Christians. The love and ministry of the band were evident throughout the couple hours they played. It was an uplifting experience that encouraged and challenged me, and from which I took several action items. One of them was to write this article.

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David Platt said, “You and I both have a choice. We can stand with the starving or with the overfed. We can embrace Jesus while we give away our wealth, or we can walk away from Jesus while we hoard our wealth.” No one wants to admit they are a hoarder. I suspect most followers of Jesus want to consider themselves generous. But we can’t deny the fact those of us in the West live in incredible comfort while nearly half the world is starving and lacks access to clean drinking water.

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Half of the people groups in the world have never heard the name of Jesus. Half the world has never been given a cup of cool water or a piece of bread in the name of Jesus. This is devastating.

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One of my favorite Bible verses is James 1:27, which says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” As religions go, this list of requirements seems extraordinarily short. Yet there’s so much to discover in this little verse.

true religion,James:1:27,look after orphans and widows,priorities,selfishness,unstained,God's will,commitment,discipleship,love,Matthew 6:33,seek ye first

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Jesus didn’t come to instill a new religious order on earth. Rather, He came to establish a way of life. All Jesus wanted, and still wants, is for people to seek God with all their hearts (Matthew 6:33). Everything else falls into place once we get that part down. Why then does James call out requirements for religion God will accept, a true religion?

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Jesus is Lord,Lord of your life,Jesus first,God first,apathy,pride,selfishness,discipleship,what does it mean to be a Christian,the church

As I look around at the state of the church today, one thought keeps resonating in my head: “We can’t stay here”. Here is the dead religion of our fathers. Here is where over two billion people survive on less than $2 a day. Here is where countless young people have turned their back on Christ and walked away from His church. Here is a world filled with hatred, deceit, murder, rape, incest, slavery, and pedophilia. Here is a world that has lost its way. Here is a church full of people who have the cure but are too afraid to step outside of their comfortable air conditioned mausoleums we call “church”. Here the world lies bleeding. Here there is no hope. We can’t stay here.

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selfishness,despair,overwhelmed,Jesus first,putting God first,Kingdom of God

Every day we are faced with new struggles, new challenges, and additional points of stress. Life just never stops coming at us and it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed. Satan loves to alter our focus so we only see what is immediately around us. We begin to believe our problems are bigger than they are, and that others have it so much easier than we do. When we take a step back and look at the world around us, we see our own problems to be so small in comparison. Still, they are our problems, our issues, and our frustrations. We are the ones who have to deal with them. We are the ones who must find ways to follow Christ through all of the obstacles that Satan throws into our path.

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Compassion,child sponsorship,poverty,hunger,children,sponsor,Compassion International

This is the last post for Compassion’s Blogger month. Over 2,000 new children have been sponsored so far this month, which is fantastic. To meet their goal, Compassion is still seeking to get another 1,000 children sponsored before the end of the month.  Surely we can get this done. It is our absolute duty to care for these children in need (James 1:27; Matthew 19:14). We have been entrusted with much so that we might serve much. It’s only $38 per month. What could you give up to save the $38 and sponsor a child today? As you consider that, remember that whatever you are giving up is being traded to provide a child with education, healthcare, clothing, food, self-confidence, and most importantly the opportunity to learn about Jesus. They will understand first-hand what it means to live like Jesus as they see you model Christ in your own life.

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The problems of our world are so many and diverse that it may appear that there isn’t much we can do about them. On the surface, this may be true; it is very difficult, if not impossible, for any one of us to make a significant impact on the major ills of society. You have, however, probably heard the saying “As one person you can’t change the world, but you can change the world for one person”. This is where we have to focus. On our own we may never make a dent in world poverty, but we can adopt a person or a family and make certain they have enough to eat. On our own we may never be able to give shelter to all who are homeless, but we have the ability to provide a bed and shower to a single mom down on her luck.

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I watched a video of Haiti this morning and was struck by the looks of desperation in the eyes of the people. I saw very young children in alleyways looking lost and mothers sitting in makeshift clinics, their faces stoic and without hope. The earthquakes of 2010 exacerbated the problems in an already failing infrastructure.

Prosperity

These are our brothers and sisters in Christ; they should be full of joy, but the ravages of life in a sinful and broken world have relegated them to a life of despondency. Click Here to Continue Reading this Post…

I listen to a lot of sermons from various churches across the country. This helps me stay focused on the mission of Christ and at the same time receive input and encouragement from a variety of Godly people. Recently I was struck by two messages I heard back to back, as they were absolutely diametrically opposed. I will withhold the names of the pastor’s and churches as focusing on any single congregation would miss the point.

Building the Church

In the first sermon, I heard an impassioned plea for the people to give sacrificially so they could build a new children’s wing onto their church. In sharp contrast to this was the second sermon in which I heard the pastor contemplate putting a “for sale” sign outside of their church so they might give the money to the poor throughout the world. Click Here to Continue Reading this Post…

I was recently out walking in the early morning hours and got caught in a torrential downpour about three quarters of a mile from my house. The rain was coming down so hard I could barely see, and the drops were thudding against me in a way that had exhausted me by the time I reached the front porch. After getting dried off and into a fresh set of clothes, I was reminded again of the plight of the homeless. How many times have they endured such storms but had no place to find suitable shelter? How long did it take for their only set of clothes to dry before they could once again move about comfortably?

Every day we take so many things for granted. We are blessed beyond measure yet always find something about which to complain. We get hungry and we grab something out of the cupboards to eat; we get thirsty and pour a glass of clean water from the faucet. When we are wet, we dry off with towels and change into a different set of clothing; when we are cold we turn up the heat and put on a sweatshirt or a jacket. All of these simple everyday things we do, we take for granted. We don’t give them a second thought because they are simply a part of the fabric of our lives.

What if there were no cupboards of food and no running water? What if there were no towels, no change of clothes and no heat? According to a 2007 study by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, this is a reality for over 3 million people in the United States of America alone. Perhaps even more startling is the fact that 39% of the homeless in America are children. Worldwide, the United Nations estimates that nearly 100 million people are homeless; worse still, up to 600 million live in makeshift shelters that threaten their health or even their life.

Despite our obvious blessings, we all find much too complain about every day. We complain that we have nothing to wear or that there’s nothing to eat. Our greed and self-centeredness has blinded us to the reality in which we live. We have plenty to wear and eat, but our appetite for both food and possessions is insatiable. We have more than most in the world, but it is not enough for us; we must have more. It appears it is not enough to have our needs provided for; we have the audacity to complain that what we have isn’t good enough because it isn’t exactly what we want.

As followers of Christ, we need to be content with whatever God has given us (Philippians 4:11-13). We also need to be generous and care for those in need (Deuteronomy 15:9-11, 1 Timothy 6:17-19). Jesus instructed us to provide shelter for the homeless (Matthew 25:31-41). This is not the job of the government; it’s the job of the church. If we as a body cannot house the homeless and look after the poor, then we are not following Christ. We build grand luxurious buildings for us to gather on weekends but we look the other way when we see someone sleeping on the street. We serve lavish meals to build community with one another but we can’t spare a piece of bread for the starving children on our streets and around the world. As for those big buildings and large meals, we usually find some reason to complain about those as well.

Picture what God sees when He looks at His Church, particularly in the Western world. He sees a people who have been blessed like none other, yet have become fat, lazy and apathetic to the needs of the lost and the poor. Christ did not die so we might lead happy, healthy and comfortable lives. He died to rescue us from our sin and asks only that we serve Him in return. Apparently, that was too much to ask. We must all repent of our selfishness and greed, and for taking His blessings for granted. Beyond that we must do something to care for the poor and homeless. Working together we can eliminate this suffering from the world; we only lack the will. I have turned away for too many years and suspect you have done the same. No longer can we feign either ignorance or innocence. We have no more excuses and no right to complain.