Archive for May, 2007

I just started reading Isaiah the other day and was hit by these passages from the first chapter. I’m using the NKJV but love what The Message says.

13 -17“Quit your worship charades.
I can’t stand your trivial religious games: Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings—
meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them!
You’ve worn me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion,
while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer-performance,
I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray,
I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing
people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up.
Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings
so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong.
Learn to do good. Work for justice.
Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless.
Go to bat for the defenseless.

WOW, we know from countless other passages that God doesn’t like empty worship (vs 13-15). The NKJV actually uses the word futile to describe the religious practices. The Nelson Complete Study System notes say the actions were futile because the people did not celebrate them out of love for God. In the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 Jesus says that the religious practices alone aren’t enough, but you must “go and sell everything you have and give it to the poor. ”

I have actually heard Micah 6:8 be used to define worship. It says:

8But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously

Not only does this sound like the exact opposite of what is occuring in Is 1:13-15, but it also sounds precisely like verse 17.

In summary, all the “religous practices” do not add up to much without loving God. Mark 12:28-34 is helpful in understanding what loving God means. Quoting verses 30-31

30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Isaiah is calling us to give up futile religion and love God by loving those around us.

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God Came Near is another powerful book written by Max Lucado. In his typical, easy to read, almost story book manner, Lucado takes great points of theology and makes them so simple anyone can grasp the meaning and power.

God Came Near makes the reality of Jesus humanness and time on earth easy to grasp. Lucado explains his purpose for the book in the introduction (pg 17):

My prayer for this book–without apologies– is that the Divine Surgeon will use it as a delicate surgical tool to restore sight. That blurriness will be focused and darkness dispersed. [Here it comes…] That the Christ will emerge from a wavy figure walking out of a desert mirage to become the touchable face of a best friend. That we will lay our faces at the pierced feet and join Thomas in proclaiming, “My Lord and my God.” And, most supremely, that we will whisper the secret of the universe, “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

I would submit that he accomplishes his goal throughout the book. Divided into two main sections entitled “His Incarnation” and “Our Imitation” Lucado uses 31 chapters or more appropriately 31 short stories to talk about Jesus’s life on earth and then how we should imitate His life.

The book begins and ends with this simple definition of Christianity:

Christianity, in its purest form, is nothing more than seeing Jesus. Christian service, in its purest form, is nothing more than imitating him who we see. To see His Majesty and to imitate him, that is the sum of Christianity.

One more quote to illustrate the simplicity of Lucado’s writing style and one of many everyday examples he uses to paint a picture of the Majesty of God is found on pg 84:

We wonder, with so many miraculous testimonies around us, how we could escape God. But somehow we do. We live in an art gallery of divine creativity and yet we are content to gaze only at the carpet.

As with many of Lucado’s books, God Came Near includes a study guide section which can be used for individual devotion or group discussion to help deepen the impact of his inspired writings. With an openness to the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, this book can reshape your views about God, Jesus, and ultimately, the power He contains!

God Bless and Happy Reading!

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So today, on a hot (one thermometer said 93) May day I’m going to post a collection of random links, actions, and information for your pleasure!

I checked today and 9 people are subscribed to my blog feed through Feedburner. I also added a way for you to sign-up and receive my blog via e-mail whenever I post. I know some people are behind a firewall and can’t view blog pages, so this is a way to get it sent right to your inbox! You can also click here to sign up too.

I have also started using a program called Qumana Blog Manager to write my blogs. It can be used off-line and allows inserting text-ads and Technorati tags without any additional work!

If you don’t subscribe to my blog feed and are one who actually goes to the website then you have probably noticed that it has been completely revamped and has a whole new look. Its not quite as dark now :) Also please visit some of my links and say hi to my friends!

Let the Link Fest Begin!

Request Presidential Candidates divest from Sudan-related holdings here. (see past posts).

Pressure China to take action on Darfur by contacting your legislator here.

Help Stop the Use of Child Soldier here.

Maybe see my Uncle and his family at the Destination ImgaiNation Global Finals here.

Visit the Crescent Project here.

Read about The Strangest Disaster of the 20th Century here. (Thanks Meg)

Blog Festival of Frugality # 75

How much are you worth hourly? Are you underpaid? Check here. This is mine:

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Revolution is a must read for every Christian, irregardless of their personal calling.  Written almost autobiographically this story about K.P. Yohannan’s path to creating Gospel for Asia and its unique ministry style is powerful enough to challenge every Christian into action.

Writing in a chapter called “The Need for Revolution” on pg 142 he says:

But before revolution can come we must recognize the need for one. We are like a lost man looking at a road map. Before we can choose the right road that takes us to our destination, we must determine where we went wrong, go back to that point and start over.  So my cry to the Body of Christ is simple: Turn back to the true Gospel road.  We need to preach again the whole counsel of God.  Our priority must again be placed on calling men to repentance and snatching them from hell-fire.

Sharing from his personal stories of growing up poor in India and eventually making it to Dallas, TX by the grace of God and generosity of some private donors and feeling God’s call to start a new revolution in the mission movement.  This is an easy read using personal anecdotes and simple English there is a noticeable lack of theological and missions jargon.

Brother K.P. also challenges the Church and all Christians today to think about their priorities. He writes about churches with multi-million dollar construction projects while ministers in Asia are starving and meet in homes or in open-air settings.  He also challenges the idea of spending $30 – 80,000 a year to have Western missionaries doing work that can be done more effectively and for a fraction of the cost by native missionaries.  He does go on to say that some Western missionaries are needed for certain projects, but in regards to evangelism and spreading the Good News, native missionaries are the best.

A challenging but good read, its simple prose and story format makes it easy to follow along with.

This $6 book is currently available 100% free from Gospel for Asia, the organization founded by Yhoannan.

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Mini-Mini (links to .pdf) is a unique idea inspired in part because Anderson, IN has a Little 500 Festival during the month of May in honor of their Little 500 (Sprint cars around a 1/4 mile banked track) held at the Anderson Speedway each Memorial Day weekend.  In case you are unaware, each year the Indianapolis 500 is held over Memorial Day weekend as well along with their 500 Festival going throughout the month of May which includes the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon.

So the Anderson Mini-Mini is 6.55 miles (half the 13.1 of the Mini) and runs around the Anderson Speedway, just as the Indy Mini runs around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Its a neat idea and a good race.

On a beautiful day I ran an overall time of 45:50 with my splits being 6:19, 6:50, 7:07, 7:20, 7:05, 7:14, and 3:52.  I was definitely top 10 and will update my overall placing when I get the results.  My leg is feeling a lot better today, I ran in new shoes.  My plan was to go out at 7 min pace, but I felt very smooth running with the lead pack!  This is also about a minute faster than I ran the same course last year.  It would have been about a 43:30 10K (in case you were wondering!)

This race was hosted by the Anderson Road Runners Club.

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Is it possible to live off $21 a week for food? This is what the average American on food stamps receives in food aid via food stamps.  This means about 25 million Americans have around $21 a week per person to purchase all of their groceries.  While $35 million struggle to put food on the table. We try to live frugally, but that’s almost impossible.

FOOD STAMP CHALLENGE

Recently this idea has become popular with political figures of all stripes and at all levels of government.  4 Congressman, a Governor, City Councilman and others have all attempted to live on a food stamp budget for at least one week.  Someone has even tried to do so while eating organically!  So far all have succeeded in making their food budgets stay within the guidelines (I know for sure that the Congressman aren’t allowed to eat free food at various political functions either!).

It has been interesting to read their blogs and the stories it has generated as the Farm Bill, which includes Food Stamp legislation is coming up for reauthorization this July.

CNN did a story (see You Tube below).  I found it interesting that the USDA (who administers Food Stamps) [why does the agricultural department administer food stamps?] recommends Food Stamps as a supplement to other food purchases.  Rep. Ryan’s remarks are excellent.  They were originally designed to be a supplement, but with cost of living, especially gas prices, continuing to rise, without a significant rise in income for the bottom tier of workers, food stamps are the primary source of income for food purchases.

Here is a quick compilation of some of the links to their blogs and stories.

Good Blog Article

Rep. McGovern of MA

Rep. Ryan of Ohio

Organic Foods on a Budget

Washington Post Article

Also on You Tube:

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Business Week published an article entitled “The Poverty Business” which explains how some businesses are taking advantage of those with poor or no credit “subprime” by charging them extremely high interest and other dubious practices.  This article has gotten attention throughout the blog world.  One notable link is to Get Rich Slowly.

Cover ImageNobody, poor or rich, is compelled to pay a high price for a used car, a credit card, or anything else. Some see the debate ending there. “The only feasible way to run a capitalist society is to allow companies to maximize their profits,” says Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “That will sometimes include allowing them to sell things to people that will sometimes make them worse off.”

Others worry, however, that the widening income gap between the wealthy and the less fortunate is being exacerbated by the spread of high-interest, high-fee financing. “People are being encouraged to live beyond their means by companies that are preying on low-income consumers,” says Jacob S. Hacker, a political scientist at Yale.

Once, major banks and companies avoided the poor side of town. “The mentality was: Low income means low revenue, so let’s not locate there,” says Matt Fellowes, a researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Now, he says, a growing number of sizable corporations are realizing that viewed in the aggregate, the working poor are a choice target. Income for the 40 million U.S. households earning $30,000 or less totaled $650 billion in 2004, according to Federal Reserve data.

• A new study by The Brookings Institution in Washington uses Federal Reserve data and an analysis of more than 12 million credit reports to illustrate how the supply of credit in lower-income markets has dramatically increased in recent decades. The effect: rising indebtedness among lower-income households, and a growing struggle among those borrowers to pay bills.

• A 2006 study by Brookings documents the higher costs paid by lower-income families across a broad range of goods and services—from auto insurance to appliances. The report argues that reducing the cost of living for lower-income families by 1% could add $6.5 billion in new spending power to the economy.

• In The State of Working America, 2006/2007, researchers from The Economic Policy Institute in Washington present an exhaustive analysis of the nation’s working families. Among the study’s key findings: stagnant wages among lower-income workers despite rising productivity, growing income inequality, and less upward mobility for workers on the bottom rungs of the economy.

Its crazy that companies are targeting low-income, under-educated individuals to “help” them, but keep them in their clutches.

If you didn’t know, now you do.  AVOID THESE SCAMS!

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