Thursday, June 16, 2011


A few months ago, I experienced a series of events that caused me to pause and reflect on some of the systems of injustice in our world. It all started early in the morning when I turned the ignition to our '98 Corolla and it failed to start. The short version is that after half of a box of baking soda, 5 cups of water, $6.53 worth of hardware, and an hour and half of my time, our Corolla was back to fully operational!

My temptation after fixing the car, both quickly and frugally, was to pat myself on the back for some excellent problem solving. However, upon further reflection, I realize that there are many "luxuries" that have afforded me the opportunity for this apparently effortless fix.

I began to contemplate all that went on "behind the scenes" that led to the successful repair of our car. Some of these statements will ring numbingly obvious, but try to ponder everything that took place on that March morning with a fresh set of eyes...

First thing's first, I own a car (less than 13% of the world owns a car). I needed to use my car because I was heading to work. I have a job (40% of Haitians are unemployed with another 40% informally employed). I was able to email my boss to tell him I would be late. I have a smart phone with email capability. I have a job with enough flexibility that I can come in late for an emergency without reprimand. So even before we get started with any triumphal solution, it's clear that the privileges that I have are what led to the problem in the beginning.

Back to the situation - the car won't start. What could be wrong with the car? The next step could have simply been to call AAA (another classic example of a societal infrastructure luxury) and have them tow my car to the shop to have it fixed. But instead, let's dig in further to some of the things I had "going my way." I have a friend who is very knowledgeable about fixing cars. I was able to call that friend (on my previously mentioned phone) and ask his advice. It is also important to mention that I was fortunate enough to be brought up in a family environment where I've been encouraged to apply myself, problem solve, etc.

So after a brief assessment, I was able to identify the problem and make a plan for a solution. I needed to buy some hardware to fix my car. Let's keep going...

• I owned a second vehicle, which I was able to drive to the store.
• I had the money (less than $7) to buy the new parts to fix the car. (Half of the world’s population live on less than $2.50 per day)
• I was literate and could read the packaging to find the right hardware to the part that was broken. (Only 62% of Haitians can read/write – and it drops even lower if you are a woman)
• I was physically able to fix the car.
• I had a set of tools.
• I had access to electricity to power a light so that I can work in the dark.
And the list goes on…

As I revisit the full story of everything that happened that morning, I am quickly reminded of two truths: 1) I am rich and 2) I didn’t become rich solely because of my own choices, morality, and work ethic. How about you…

Are you are rich?
I am in no way attempting to minimize any real problems that may be currently facing. But if you have found your way to reading this blog, my guess is that you, like me, are rich. Maybe not in comparison with your next-door neighbors or close friends, but in comparison to the world you are rich. Take some time now to pause and reflect on the resources, means, health, education, employment, and opportunities that you have been given. It is important to maintain a healthy perspective on the reality of your life. It will allow you to be creative to find ways that you can make a difference in the lives of those not so fortunate.

And if so, are you rich solely because of your own choices, morality, and work ethic?
Was success with the car something I had done on my own? Was it because I had worked harder and smarter to succeed than billions of other people? Absolutely not!!!! In his book Generous Justice, Timothy Keller reminds us, “If you have money, power, and status today, it is due to the century and place in which you were born, to your talents and capacities and health, none of which you earned. In short, all your resources are in the end the gift of God.”

As a further testimony to fact that prosperity is not solely within our own control, I would recommend Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers. Here is a blurb from the dust jacket:

"Why do some people succeed far more than others? There is a story that is usually told about extremely successful people, a story that focuses on intelligence and ambition. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell, argues that the story of success is very different, and that if we want to understand how some people thrive, we should spend more time looking around them -- at such things as their family, their birthplace, or even their birth date. The story of success is more complex than it initially appears."

I believe that by taking a hard look in the mirror we can also see that the opposite is true as well. The vast majority of those who are caught in poverty are not there just because of their own doing. Again Tim Keller states, “The three causes of poverty... are oppression, calamity, and personal moral failure... [and], I have concluded that the emphasis is usually on the larger structural factors.”

When we live in light of these two truths, we will become aware of the systems of injustice that keep others from enjoying a similar prosperity.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Very humbling post

The following is from a post by John Piper on raising children:

The most fundamental task of a mother and father is to show God to the children. Children know their parents before they know God. This is a huge responsibility and should cause every parent to be desperate for God-like transformation. The children will have years of exposure to what the universe is like before they know there is a universe. They will experience the kind of authority there is in the universe and the kind of justice there is in the universe and the kind of love there is in the universe before they meet the God of authority and justice and love who created and rules of the universe. Children are absorbing from dad his strength and leadership and protection and justice and love; and they are absorbing from mother her care and nurture and warmth and intimacy and justice and love—and, of course, all these overlap.

And all this is happening before the child knows anything about God, but it is profoundly all about God. Will the child be able to recognize God for who he really is in his authority and love and justice because mom and dad have together shown the child what God is like. The chief task of parenting is to know God for who he is in his many attributes, and then to live in such a way with our children that we help them see and know this multi-faceted God. And, of course, that will involve directing them always to the infallible portrait of God in the Bible.

Oh good, that's all we have to do - great. Seriously though, this is good in one sense in that it points me in the right direction as a parent. But in another sense it is very overwhelming to read as it makes me think about my responsibility. The weight is such that I know we (Beth and I) can't carry it by ourselves. It is only by God's sustaining daily grace and mercy that he have hope.


Childlike Faith

This may become a reoccurring theme in my posts. God uses children to speak to us in profound ways. Obviously for me, it is most often my wonderful daughter. There have been many times that God shows me something about my relationship with him through my relationship with Caroline. The most recent lesson he has taught me is one about trust.

Caroline likes to play, whether it is with her Disney figurines or taking stuff (and by stuff I mean a wide variety of things from medicine droppers to socks) and putting it into and taking it out of various containers. She plays "Where'd she go?" (our version of peek-a-boo), "Daddy's gonna getcha", and many other games. In "Daddy's gonna getcha" she runs to and from Daddy and many times the games ends with her running to Daddy and throwing her self at me. I catch her and she then arches her back and throws her head back. This is a little scary, because recently she has started just throwing her self back when I am carrying her. Every time, I catch her and then she bursts into laughter.

As I was thinking about her this morning, it dawned on me how much trust she has. It is complete trust that says, "I will totally surrender control of myself." And why not? Daddy catches her every time. She hasn't ever been dropped.

I am sure you know where I am going with this, but here goes: Why do I find it so hard to trust my heavenly Father in this way? Why don't I surrender control of myself to him? Sure, I have had pain and bad experiences in my life, but God has never dropped me. He catches me every time. I hope that I can learn to be more like Caroline.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gospel Definitions

The following was orginally posted by Trevin Wax at his blog Kingdom People.

Like so many Bible terms, the word GOSPEL has been given various definitions contrary to its original and proper meaning.

The word has its origin “in Christ before the foundation of the world.” This was contained in the “promise” God made before the foundation of the world. (Tit. 1:2) The “gospel,” the “good news” or “good tidings” is the declared fulfilment of that promise.

In Isaiah 61:1-3 is found the outstanding proclamation made by the Sum and Substance of the good tidings, — Jesus Christ Himself:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the meek, He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn. To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”

The Redeemer repeated this same proclamation of Himself in the synagogue.

While this prophetical statement is often quoted, its full significance is rarely understood. In this one sweeping declaration, there is encouched - not the beginning of the gospel, not a part of its fulfilment, - the grand total of what the Son of Man declared on the cross: “IT IS FINISHED”!

The Greek word “evanggelion” is translated “gospel” in the King James Version. This word, together with its rendering of “good tidings,” glad tidings” and “preach the gospel” occurs some one hundred and eight times in the New Testament, none of which intimate anything less than “finished redemption” in Christ.

- Gilbert Beebe, 1846

Missional Shift (part 2)

Here is a video that helps explain some of what is going on in my head. (Warning: this video is almost 18 minutes long!)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Comparative Hunger

It is 10:30 and Caroline woke up 15 minutes ago. Today she is having surgery to unclog her tear ducts. The procedure is apparently not that complicated, but as is often the case, the preparation is the hardest part. She now past the point of no return and cannot eat or drink anything until 1:15 pm. I am not sure how she will do and we are a little anxious about the coming hours. However, I am reminded of how blessed my family is when I think about the current situation in Haiti (and various other parts of the world!) Caroline can't eat or drink for 4 more hours. Many children in Haiti go more than 24 hours with out a meal! So if you see this and remember to pray for us, thanks, but also take 5 minutes to pray for those around the world who don't know where their next meal is coming from.


Friday, April 11, 2008

charity: water

I am a big fan of scott harrison and his work. here is the a video by charity: water that ran during Idol gives back last week:

After you watch, take 2 minutes and see how you can get involved.