Archive for August, 2007

Treat one another justly.
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don’t take advantage of widows,
orphans, visitors, and the poor.
Don’t plot and scheme against one another—that’s evil.’
Zech. 7:9

Poverty Update

Finally some good news on the fight against poverty! A slight decrease in poverty figures was announced Tuesday by the US Census Bureau. The 2006 poverty rate was 12.3% which is down from 12.6% in 2005. This is the first time the poverty rate has declined since 1999.

This is good news but the overall report is mixed because the median income across the country increased slightly (to $48,451)but is still not above a “pre-recession high in 1999” according to the Washington Post. Other bad news is that 2.2 million people have been added to the uninsured ranks, mostly due to declining employer-sponsored programs. The total percentage is 15.8 of all Americans lack health insurance, unfortunately 11.7% of children (those under 18) lack health coverage (a significant leap from 10.9% in 2005). This also represents the second year in a row that this number has increased.

The new census data show that many of the newly uninsured are working Americans from middle- and high-income families. Of the 2.2 million people who became uninsured in 2006, 1.4 million had a household income of $75,000 or higher. About 1.2 million of the newly uninsured worked full time. WaPo

An interesting study done at Washington University in St. Louis and reported by the Christian Science Monitor says that while poverty figures at any given time may be declining, more Americans are experiencing poverty at some time during their lives than at any time in the past 30 years. Fortunately, those that do experience poverty, experience it for a shorter period of time and are less likely to be chronically poor.

In an e-mail the Coalition on Human Needs (CHN) urges caution when looking at national data, and says we should also look at state data and the disparity between rich and poor.

Although the poorest households had the largest percentage income gain from 2005 to last year, income inequality remains at a record high. The share of income going to the 5 percent of households with the highest incomes has never been greater. WaPo

CHN states that the national poverty average of 12.3% is one thing, but Mississippi’s is over 20% and 7 states and the District of Colombia all report poverty levels exceeding 15%. Additionally median income in Puerto Rico is $17,621 while Maryland’s is $65,144 with the national at $48,451. Indiana’s poverty rate is 12.7% (an increase of 0.5% or 37,500) according to the Indy Star and the state’s median income was $45,394.

In its press release CHN’s Executive Director Deborah Weinstein says

Congress should seize the chance to invest in improvements that strengthen families and should reject the President’s unwarranted cuts. Today’s findings prove again that millions of America’s families are not sharing in the nation’s prosperity.

The Church’s Response?

How should the church respond to this mixed data and ongoing need? Jesus said we shall have the poor with us always in John 12:8. Sadly this is often taken out of context, Jesus knowing the heart of Judas, who was actually embezzling money from the community treasury (12:4). Judas didn’t really care about the poor, but Jesus did and wants us to do something about it. That is quite clear from the several thousand verses in the Bible that directly mention caring for the poor or promoting justice for the poor.

Maybe looking at the story of the Good Samaritan will help us understand a little bit better. It begins with a lawyer who asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded with a question which was answered like this,

That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself. The Message Luke 10:27

Jesus was happy with that answer, but the lawyer wasn’t and tried to find a “loophole”. Jesus deftly closed the loophole with a parable using the most despised person possible (a Samaritan) to the Jews as the story’s hero. The Samaritan loved his neighbor like a brother and took care of the desolate stranger. We are too often the priest or Levite, too busy to love our neighbor. Zondervan’s Handbook to the Bible sums it up nicely saying (pg 610)

A real ‘neighbor’ is one who does the loving thing whenever and wherever occasion arises, regardless of the deepest enmity or antagonism.

So the response of the church should be to love those who are in poverty. Go back to Luke 10:27 to see what loving your neighbor looks like, it should be like we love ourselves!

We give ourselves the best food, but give away our scraps to the poor. We buy the latest Abercrombie and give away the tattered out-of-style clothing from our closet. We drive a Lexus while giving away a broken bicycle.

What if we truly sacrificed for the poor? What if instead of providing handouts of food we taught someone a marketable skill? What if instead of being upset at the Burger King Mom who made a small mistake we provided free child care for working mothers? What if instead of building more and more houses in the suburbs we relocated into an urban area and sought to understand and be friends with the poor? That is radical.

But Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was a radical statement of love. Does He expect anything less from us his beautiful bride? Jesus died to redeem and restore the world, can we be His hands and feet?

Let’s be radical lovers of Christ and seek to love those around us.

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During our visit to my sister’s in Cleveland, we went to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. We saw a lot in the 45 minutes. It took us a lot longer to get there than we thought and since they closed at 5 we had to rush through. But we took our time in the Costa Rica exhibit (butterflies). We went to Madagascar and Japan, not to mention some of the theme gardens like the music place!

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Written by John Piper in 1997, A Hunger for God is an excellent book to understand the importance of prayer and fasting in our pursuit of God.  With 181 pages of compelling insights and discussion Piper takes the reader through the Biblical arguments for an often forgotten part of worship and desiring God, FASTING. He includes many historical theologians in his narrative and ends the book with a 29 page appendix of quotes from Ignatus to Bill Bright.

I enjoyed and was challenged by this book to begin adding a fast into my pursuit of God.  Piper makes it clear that while traditional fasting is focused on food, that does not have to be the case.  I can fast from anything that is a part of my life that I would actually miss such as running, food, and computer-time.  He also said that you don’t even need to abstain from your chosen fast for a whole day, it could be as simple as skipping lunch and using that time to spend in communion with God.

Piper is clear and pretty adamant that fasting be done only as a way to purify ourselves and to make us weak in front of God to “express to him our need and our great longing that he would manifest himself more fully in our lives for the joy of our soul and the glory of his name.”

The only part of the book I really didn’t like was the last chapter which was entitled “Fasting for the Little Ones: Abortion and the Sovereignty of God over False Worldviews.”  I appreciate and agree with the overall argument of the chapter that we can use fasting as a way to change the community and “corporate values.” I just personally don’t think that using the issue of abortion was a smart choice.  I think Piper could have found a less controversial issue within Christendom to make his point.

I would recommend this book to everyone who hungers for God and wants to learn a different method of getting fed.

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With a 7:30am start the Bears of the Blue River 10K insured a cooler start, with a little rain it was actually an excellent starting temp in the mid-70’s and a slight drizzle.  The Bears is a combined 5K and 10K.

We started out with the 5K group, not really knowing who was racing in each section.  I started with a group of women I knew from other races and knew where running the 5K.  I let them go after mile 2 which was a mistake but ran a 20:37 5K which was about 30 seconds off where I wanted to be.  I was hoping to run just under 20 minutes.  I had been having some stomach issues all week and had been fine until Saturday morning!  I felt the lack of energy during the race.

After passing the finish area, my wife told me that I was in second place overall in the 10K and that the leader was about a minute ahead of me.  The second 5K is pretty lonely because of the small group of participants and the lonely course winding along the Blue River.  That 5K pretty much stunk, I had a decent enough lead to hold onto second place but definitely should not have.

My overall time was 43:02 (3 minutes behind where I wanted to be) but was good enough for a second place overall finish and earning $50!!!

The race is a USATF certified course with the first 5K being an out and back and the second being a loop.  Only small hills grace the course that has ample water stops and overall support.  Cold water and fruit await the finishers as well as the prospect of $$$.  This was my third year competing in Shelbyville but only my second earning money.  It seems to come and go with the top runners. Last year had 2 Kenyans, this year only 1.  It got a little lonely and boring out during the second 5K but the course was very well marked.  This was the 28th annual race held in conjunction with Shelbyville’s annual Bears of the Blue River Festival.

Ok well I guess I’ll post my splits although they are kind of embarrassing.  I think some of my Mini splits were faster.
6:37, 6:22, 6:59, 6:44, 7:20, 7:30, 1:27

Cross-posted at Run Central IndianaTeam Cross Runs.

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Apparently this is a big topic in Washington DC.  It seems that a group of people in the middle of political spectrum think that by legalizing prostitution they will empower women.  Michael Horowitz of the conservative The Hudson Institute, a think tank in DC, says that both ends – liberal and conservative – agree that this is a bad idea.

Evangelicals for Social Action produces a magazine called PRISM (which I’ve written about before).  In the upcoming edition (Sept/Oct 2007) the cover story sheds light into this dark and not often talked about subject. The title and subtitle say it well:

PROSTITUTING JUSTICE: The Auction block is alive and well in the North American sex trade

Two insights I found in the articles are that…

The vast majority of prostituted women (and men) have
serious problems with substance abuse, mental illness, or both.
A growing number of prostituted persons are recruited at
increasingly younger ages, brainwashed and psychologically
broken down in order to coerce them to conform to the
will of a pimp.


In their 1996 report Prostitution of Children, the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that over 100,000 children are currently involved in prostitution in the United States.

That is scary.  The article talks about girls as young as 10 being forced into prostitution.  It also talked about the risk factors which include sexual abuse at home.  It seems that girls are traumatized and some can’t get out of the cycle, it just continues to perpetuate itself to include drugs, mental illness, depression, anxiety, and on and on.  All because of something out of their control. 

Prostitution is not understood by much of society, nor is it seen as something that is good.  We often demean prostitutes and forget their humanness and more importantly that they are children of our loving God.  Jesus died on the cross to forgive them, as much as He died to forgive me.  As believers, we should be finding ways to redeem them back into the sweet image of their Creator.

I received an e-mail from PRSIM editor Kristyn Komarnicki, which included this:

Horowitz said that while there are all kinds of laws protecting women in domestic violence cases or protecting victims from hate crimes, etc, there is virtually no protection (not a penny in programs) for women enslaved in prostitution.  This letter urges the Attorney General to change that.  Horowitz tells me that this PRISM article is being circulated by some US attorneys to colleagues all around the country, some of who are sending it directly to the Attorney General. 

Why the attention and action to the Attorney General?

As Donna Hughes explains in a July 30 article in the National Review, US citizens who are forced into prostitution, a form of sexual trafficking, have no resources available to them.  However, if the person is a foreign-born victim of trafficking their is a plethora of services.  When an American is involved it is often seen as “just prostitution” when around 70% of prostitutes are victims of sex trafficking.


One of the best resources is the Salvation Army’s Human Trafficking website

Polaris Project actually has advocacy alerts.

Prostitution Research and Education Center also has a lot of information and actions.

HHS Administration of Children and Families’ Rescue & Restore Campaign website.




  1. 1. Work to help women gain supportive housing and jobs that pay a living wage.
  2. 2. Advocate for shelters and clinics equipped and staffed to offer medical and psychological treatment for women in prostitution. 
  3. 3. Educate young girls and boys on the harms of prostitution and how to avoid becoming a victim of sexual exploitation. 
  4. 4. Challenge society’s sexist views of women. Fight against pornography and other forms of media that continue to objectify women.
  5. 5. Change language- stop using words such as “pimp”, “ho” and “whore” and challenge your friends when they use similar language.
  6. 6. Support legislation aimed at stopping sexual exploitation and expanding options for prostituted individuals.
  7. 7. Make sure the needs of sexually exploited individuals are being addressed in the domestic violence community, the sexual assault community, among homeless rights advocates and among individuals working to fight substance addiction.
  8. 8. Pressure local CAPS and police enforcement to go after those purchasing sex instead of those selling it.
  9. 9. Hold media and financial institutions accountable in regards to the ads they run that promote prostitution.
  10. 10. Raise public awareness! Host book clubs, film screenings and art projects to raise awareness about the issue. Also join in local awareness raising initiatives such as the upcoming Rescue and Restore campaign.

from Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.

Psalm 10:12-18 in The Message

12-13 Time to get up, God—get moving. The luckless think they’re Godforsaken. They wonder why the wicked scorn God 
and get away with it, Why the wicked are so cocksure they’ll never come up for audit.
14 But you know all about it— the contempt, the abuse.  I dare to believe that the luckless will get lucky someday in you. You won’t let them down: orphans won’t be orphans forever.
15-16 Break the wicked right arms, break all the evil left arms. 
Search and destroy every sign of crime. God’s grace and order wins; godlessness loses.
17-18 The victim’s faint pulse picks up; the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood as you put your ear to their lips. Orphans get parents, the homeless get homes. 
The reign of terror is over, the rule of the gang lords is ended.


If you haven’t figured it out, Prostitution should NOT be legalized.


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Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.

I love that part of the Acts 10 story about the Gospel being for both Jew and Gentile. Its from Acts 10:34-36 in the Message translation. It makes me very excited to know that no matter who I am, the power of Jesus Christ is for me.

I encourage you to reread chapter 10 today.

What a powerful reminder, thank you Jesus.

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A penny saved is a penny earned.

Many actions can be taken to end the brutal genocide that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and as displaced millions, for no simple or apparent cause.  One of these many actions is called divestment.

Simply, divestment is the opposite of investment! Divestment means to sell off, commonly used in the business world, it often refers to selling off part of a company that isn’t doing well. In the social/political realm it has a different meaning. It refers more to a boycott mentality, boycotting certain investments and selling off stocks in a company to pressure a government to change a policy or to force regime change.

It was first used in the 1980’s to end apartheid in South Africa. Since then it has been used in conjunction with campaigns targeting North Ireland, Myanmar, Cuba, and Israel.

Most recently this tactic has been one part of the campaign to end the genocide in Darfur.

The best resource for divestment related to Sudan is aptly the Sudan Divestment Taskforce. The website also gives you specific instructions to make sure your investments aren’t supporting the genocide. They are also behind the rally earlier this year to get Indiana to divest public funds from supporting the genocide.

Divestment needs to be done very strategically and with precision described as similar to that of a surgeon. This is important so that ordinary citizens of Sudan aren’t impacted, as is common in full-force economic boycotts. The model being used by SDT engages companies that are directly or indirectly helping the Sudanese government perpetuate genocide. Only if a company refuses to make changes through shareholder interaction does the divestment occur.

Thirty-nine states within the US already have a campaign for divestment started and nineteen states have already divested. This includes the great state of Indiana! Mitch Daniels signed the divestment into law on May 3, 2007. This divests state pension plans from related organizations. Many private universities have done the same thing. Also, I believe all of the presidential candidates have made sure their portfolios were divested.

One more important item of note is the Fidelity Out of Sudan Campaign. Investment company, Fidelity was specifically targeted because Fidelity is one of the largest investment firms in the country and they had a significant investment in related genocide-related businesses. Earlier this year Fidelity did divest 91% of its US holdings in PetroChina, one of the biggest divestment targets. We need to continue to pressure Fidelity and other business to ensure 100% divestment from genocide-related business.

If you are fortunate to have investments whether personally or through your place of work, you should talk to someone about divestment. You can begin doing research and use the Taskforce’s SCREENING TOOL which can be used to screen your portfolio.

On a final note: Divestment is working. A Reuters news service article written Sunday indicated that investment in Sudan has significantly decreased in the years since the Divestment campaign started.

This was taken from my presentation about divestment from last night’s meeting of the Indianapolis Save Darfur.


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