The Moment Our Church Breaks Our Heart – Growing Up and Social Justice

There is a cost to following Christ. It is not something you typically hear in the usual evangelical advertisements. I am not talking about “being a Christian” per-se. I am talking about when a Christian gets to that point in their life where they see a need in the world, and they want to do something about it. It is a call of conviction where you want to go to battle to make the world a better place. The point when a Christian wants to change the status-quo, instead of live within it, they often find themselves suddenly alone. The False Promise of Institutional Idealism The great lie often told by mostly well-intentioned motivational speakers is that if you serve Christ you will be blessed. While this is true in many way, but the problem is that it creates the illusion that serving Christ or “doing the right thing” is met with immediate worldly reward. “Here comes an honorable man! Roll out the red carpet!” It sounds almost silly, but the truth is that many “do gooders” start out with an expectation that their good intentions will be greeted with warm reception. When we are children, we receive praise for doing “good” in our communities. Many churches use AWANA, a literal merit badge system for memorizing scripture and doing...

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How Apathy Creates Systems of Persecution

There is a disconnect, you could say a deep valley, between how the rich view their behavior and how the poor perceive their treatment. Those in poverty often feel like “the man” is working against them. The rich, on the other hand, feel they have nothing “against” the poor and there is nothing stopping them from working their way up the ladder. What’s going on? Often, this gap is explained by saying the poor are just making excuses, but the truth is that society really has made systems to persecute those in poverty. These systems seem so spiteful to those at their mercy, but really they are just systems which formed by those in power not paying attention. In order to repair them, we have to wake-up and act with purpose. The Cliff Effect The Cliff Effect is a phenomenon that occurs in varying degrees from state-to-state, but basically it is a system of persecution which punishes those in poverty for trying to work to improve their lives. See the video below for an explanation: Those We Don’t Help On Purpose, We Harm On Accident This is just one example of how we create systems of persecution when we aren’t paying attention. Our ideological, political, and religious dialog is so polarized and fantastic that we never see problems as...

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Monopoly with the Pope: Do not pass Go, do not collect $200

It seems like Pope Francis really is serious about cleaning things up in the Vatican as far as healthy use of money goes, as this new article from ‘The Fiscal Times’ suggests When he took over as head of the Roman Catholic Church last year, Pope Francis made it clear that he meant to be the leader of a “poor church” – meaning that the Vatican would focus less on its own splendor and more on finding ways to use its vast financial resources to benefit the world’s poor. What might have been viewed by critics as ‘a strategic move’ when Pope Francis came into power and made some significant changes to the banking structures, now seems to really be something that the pope is taking seriously as he has just fired all five directors of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority [considered to be the primary watchdog in terms of the Vatican’s financial operations] as they were too closely tied to the previous leaders who were ousted and were getting in the way of reform. The article compares Francis’ actions to a similiar controversial incident that Jesus was involved in: The announcement on Thursday was only the most recent in a series of firings, replacements, and arrests that have rocked the Vatican’s financial hierarchy. It turns out that for Francis, casting the...

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Wealth, Pleasure, and Worry

It is not an uncommon theological discussion in American churches: is it money itself, or rather the love of money, which is the root of all evil? It is all the stuff he has, in and off itself, or is it the love of his stuff, that makes the rich young ruler turn away from Jesus? It is hard for us, in our current cultural climate, to question the idea of wealth as anything but an unqualified good. However, Joshua Becker over at Don Miller’s Storylineblog examines the Parable of the Sower and points out that Jesus’ parable does just that: it seems to suggest that wealth itself can be an obstacle, a thorn, in the life of a believer. His thoughts and their counter-cultural import are worth serious reflection, and the discussion below his post debates some of the nuances in the various New Testament treatments of wealth. It’s especially worthwhile  discussion for those of us who, having heard the gospel story so many times before, might need to hear Jesus’ words again for the first...

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even the best of intentions…

“Maybe their hearts were in the right place. Maybe not. Either way, these are solid contenders for the title of “worst attempts at helping others since colonialism.”   So begins this article by Richard Stupart, titled “7 Worst International Aid ideas” and while you may not agree with all of them, i imagine at least everyone will have some kind of agreement that some of these ideas were not well thought out. Read the article to get the full commentary on each point, but to give you a taste of the themes, here are the ideas he lists: 1. One million t-shirts for Africa 2. TOMS Buy-One-Give-One 3. Machine gun preacher 4. 50 Cent ransoming children in Somalia 5. Donor fund restrictions 6. Making food aid the same colour as cluster munitions. 7. Making USAID a foreign policy tool Check out the complete article over here. This closing paragraph sums it up: Sometimes bad foreign aid is just the consequence of someone caring too much, but knowing too little. Other times it’s people who should have known better not being diligent in considering the consequences of their actions. And sometimes politicians and unscrupulous businessmen are simply manipulating the suffering of others for their own ends. When it’s benign or thwarted, it’s easy enough to laugh it off. But when a...

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5 insights from social entrepeneurs on how business can lift people

 As one participant put it, “wouldn’t it be great if ‘billionaire’ was re-defined to mean someone who had improved 1 billion lives?”     Thus ends this insightful article by Mark Cheng, titled, ‘5 Insights from Social Entrepeneurs on how Business can life People out of Poverty’ which seeks to answer the question:  How do you profitably sell to a customer who earns less than $2 per day? It begins with realising the enormity of the group of people who are living on such limited resources and then moves on to suggest that reaching these people has to do with both immense potential as well as a kind of moral obligation. Ashoka’s Globalizer initiative, in partnership with the eBay Foundation convened 20 of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs in Chennai, India, for three days in early March. The Ashoka Globalizer on Economic Inclusion provided a robust forum for sharing and improving their strategies to scale their impact. A list of some of the strategies that these groups are using to have a deep and transformative impact [and really go and read the whole article to dig a little deeper into each one] follows: [1] Recruit and Empower Local Changemakers [2] Build a Movement, not just Marketshare [3] Embrace Competition [4] Motivate with Mission, not Money [5] Maximise Distribution, not profits...

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