Archive for June, 2008

I am planning to run my first marathon this fall. I plan to run the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on October 5. In honor of my time overseas and my passion for the world to experience Christ’s love and the ability to eat three square meals a day I am dedicating this race, journey, and experience to raising support for World Vision’s work around the world.

I have actually been training now for a month. You can read all about my training at Team Cross Runs or by following this link. I don’t talk a lot about running on this site, except for the occasional link to a race review. That will change a little bit as I prepare for this marathon. Below is what I shared last week at Team Cross Runs about why I (and we) are doing this.

World Vision

I have been a long time supporter of World Vision, but before I tell you why – let me talk about the organization a little bit. World Vision is one of the most respected international development organizations in the world. They are distinctly Christian, but a Muslim professor from Bangladesh during grad school had nothing but great things to say about the organization and their work in developing countries. I’ll try not to bog you down in details and jargon but here is their mission:

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

They are known as a child sponsorship organization and Team Cross sponsors a girl in Ghana. Because of our sponsorship she has been able to continue going to school, is current on all of her shots, and receives preventative medical care. Also her entire community benefits through new wells being built, schools repaired, and much more.

Why Do I Care?

The Bible tells me too: Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27 (NLT) is one of many places that says we should take care of those around us. I always felt that if I helped the neighbor down the street or worked in the inner-city that would be good enough. All of that changed for me in January 2002 when I went to South Africa on missions trip/internship.

My first experience in Africa was genuinely life changing and life altering. I left after 4 short weeks knowing that Africa would forever be a part of who I am. It was amazing to see the conditions that people lived in and through, but more importantly to also see the great hope that many of them had. For example, the house pictured at left was inhabited by a family of I think 8 kids, the oldest of which was 18. There entire family had been wiped out by HIV/AIDS, but the young pre-teen we met that day was very excited to show us her house and was proud of it even. She was full of hope and pride that many of us lack in our 3 story houses and nice cars.

It is stories like that one that stole my heart. Since that trip I spent 8 weeks in rural Ghana doing research to finish my Masters of Social Work – focused on International & Community Development and have devoted my life to the cause of peace and justice across Africa. Throughout the coming weeks I will share more with you about my experiences, World Vision, and the hope of Africa.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

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The BBC is reporting that the forgotten crisis in Somalia may actually be worse than the crisis in Darfur.

Mark Bowden, the UN’s humanitarian co-ordinator for the region, says the food crisis is dramatically worsening.

Somalia faces a worse situation than Darfur, Mr Bowden says.

Contributing to the crisis are fighting between rival militias, successive droughts, sharply rising food prices and a collapse of the Somali currency.

Mr Bowden says that during the course of the next three months the number of people needing emergency food relief will climb by about one million from the current 2.5m

Unfortunately, it isn’t clear if there is much that we can do to help. I’ve not seen any organizations that are focusing resources to the country outside of the UN. Many people have given up on the country due to the nature of the violence and lack of safe zones.

I did fine this Somali-led organization: Save Somali Women and Children I have not found any advocacy groups similar to Save Darfur. I wonder why this is….

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No not the movie, Deliverance. Nor deliverance from evil, but that’s close.

Deliverance from testing, trial, and temptation. That was the theme of Sunday’s sermon.

Jeff Cowmeadow of Calvary Church has been going through the book of Matthew, hitting pretty much every verse as he goes along. He has spent several weeks focusing on the Lord’s Prayer. He has provided some unique view points throughout our time at the church which has provoked much discussion in our household. I’m not sure if I’ve written about any of his sermons yet – I tend to forget writing utensils! Anyways…

Matthew 6:13 is the starting point for this week: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Which closely parallels Luke 11:4.

Cowmeadow says that the word we translate as temptation can also be translated as test or trial, which has some contextual basis. If you look at the verse in The Message it says: Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

He continued to point out various places where the same word was used, but translated differently such as when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemene in Matthew 26:36-41, specifically the two parts where Christ is asking that the cup be taken away but also in vs 41 where he is encouraging the disciples to stay awake: Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. (The Message)

We must remember though as James makes clear that no temptation comes from God, but He does allow us to be tested, which will strengthen us in the long run for His purposes.

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Looking back into the Old Testament there are a variety of uses for the word/idea of testing, it would take a lot of space to expound on them all but here they are:

  • Exodus 17:2,7 Israel’s grumblings about food and water after crossing out of Egypt.
  • Exodus 15:2,13 Israel’s deliverance from Egypt
  • Exodus 16:4 Manna is a test from God

Testing produces character which ultimately produces hope in us for thing that are eternal. As Christians we should help each other pass the test. But what is that test? Jeff never explicitly said what he thought the test was but implied I think that the test is that we trust and follow God.

This came out most clear in his discussion about Exodus 16 and the idea of manna (bread/food) raining down from heaven. I will expound in another post sometime more about his thoughts on manna, but it is important because the Bible said God was testing the Israelites.

Go back and read the text for all the specifics but basically the idea was that each morning God provided enough food/resources for the Israelites to make it through the day. If you stored up extra – it spoiled overnight (except for the Sabbath preparation). It was simple God said only take what you need for today and trust that I will come back tomorrow and take care of your needs again. Don’t be tempted to take more than you need, because it will spoil. Simple trust for something so profound.

The idea from the manna story coincides with Jesus’ parable about the Rich fool who had a bumper crop and lacked storage facilities for it. So he tore everything down and built new – thinking he could now sit back and enjoy life. The story ends like this in The Message (Luke 12:20-21): “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’ That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”

Psalm 78 talks about not testing God. We often challenge Him to do something for us if He does this for us. If you heal my grandma, I’ll pray everyday – If you don’t help me pass this test, I won’t tithe for a month, etc. Jesus passed the test, by never testing God’s plan and He is our example while He was being tempted in the desert. He did not give in to Satan’s evil plans but continued to stand on the promises of God.

It is a simple idea, but one that isn’t always so easy to act out in every day life. Help us Lord to trust you for our daily needs. Help us not to look away from You for anything.

I would highly recommend giving Exodus 15 a quick re-read today.

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This song has a variety of meanings but is a powerful call to let go and let God use you throughout each day to bring His love and mercy.

If You can use anything, Lord, You can use me.
If You can use anything, Lord, You can use me.
Take my hands, Lord and my feet.
Touch my heart, Lord, speak through me.
If You can use anything, Lord, You can use me.

This is actually the chorus to the song Use Me (God is Able) written by Ron Kenoly

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We’ve had many conversations about how much we as Christians should rely on savings accounts, retirement accounts, and similar investment strategies. Here are two perspectives from Purpose for Everyday Living: Finding God in Everyday Life:

Day 146 – Keeping Prosperity in Perspective

If riches increase, do not set your heart on them. – Pslam 62:10 NKJV

In the demanding world in which we live, financial prosperity can be a good thing, but spiritual prosperity is profoundly more important. Yet our society leads us to believe otherwise. The world glorifies material possessions, personal fame, and physical beauty above all else; these things are totally unimportant to God. God sees the human heart, and that’s what is important to Him.

As you establish your priorities for the coming day, remember this: The world will do everything it can to convince you that “things” are important. The world will tempt you to value fortune above faith and possessions above peace. God, on the other hand, will try to convince you that your relationship with Him is all-important. Trust God.

Have you prayed about your resources lately? Find out how God wants you to use your time and your money. No matter what it costs, forsake all that is not of God. – Kay Arthur

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; adversity not without many comforts and hopes. – Francis Bacon

Day 147 – Finding Purpose Through Charity

Happy is the person who thinks about the poor. When trouble comes, the Lord will save him. – Psalms 41:1 NCV

God’s Words commands us to be generous, compassionate servants to those who need our support. As believers, we have been richly blessed by our Creator. We, in turn, are called to share our gifts, our possessions, our testimonies, and our talents.

Concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom correctly observed, “The measure of a life is not its duration but its donation.” These words remind us that the quality of our lives is determined not by what we are able to take from others, but instead by what we are able to share with others.

The thread of generosity is woven into the very fabric of Christ’s teaching. If we are to be His disciples, then we, too, must be cheerful, generous, courageous givers. Our Savior expects no less from us. And He deserves no less.

Selfishness is as far from Christianity as darkness is from light. – CH Spurgeon

Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven and hell a fable. – Charles Caleb Colton

These by no means give specific examples of daily living – put back savings or give to the beggar on the street? But they begin to help me understand more about what is expected of me each and every day – to love others and be willing to be generous. Spreading mercy and love as it

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I raced again for some unknown reason. Actually I thought it would be a good way to enjoy a group run and support a good cause – cancer research.

This was a very-low key race and I got 4th overall. You can read the full review here.

Here is a short snippet:

The turn around was a water stop and a clown standing in the middle of the road. The guy in front of me took water, so I opted not to – gaining a few seconds on him! So the second half mile was uphill but it was pretty gradual, except for the bridge crossing. I slowed down, despite trying to catch the guy in front of me, running a 6:47 mile.