Wednesday, February 25, 2009

about death....

What do you do with death? Do you accept it as a normal part of life? Do you avoid talking about it as if by avoiding the topic you might lessen the reality of it?

Rich Nathan spoke on The Challenge of Death last weekend (Feb 21/22) at Vineyard Church of Columbus. He suggested we each take 10 minutes this week to contemplate our own death. 

What would you say, what would you do, if you knew you were going to die soon? Would you spend time complaining about your circumstances or about the way someone treated you? 
911: Voice Mail
"I don't know if we'll make it out. I want to tell you that I love you and I love the kids." ~ Capt. Walter Hynes

"I just wanted to let you know I love you and I'm stuck in this building in New York." ~ Melissa Hughes
When I think about my own death, love is the only thing that comes to mind. I want to love on my kids - big hugs. I want to love on my husband. And, I want to tell those I love how very wonderful God's love is. I don't want them to miss out on His love another minute. His love is not just waiting for a time of judgement after death. His perfect love is what makes death the enemy of this life.

I want to live every day for something that lasts beyond me. Don't you? A hundred years from now, no one is going to care about all the cool apps I put on my iPhone or the posts I made to this blog (not sure anyone cares about that now). No one will know what clothes I wore or whether I colored my hair.

My name may be etched in a grave stone soon and never spoken again. But! If I pass on genuine love to everyone I encounter, that love will carry on.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor 13:13
Love is what matters if I'm aware of death so why waste time on anything else? When it comes time to die, I'm not going to be looking for that pseudo friend who insulted me or the stranger who cut me off in traffic. So, why let them bother me now?

If I knew I were minutes from death, I would do what many did on 9-11. I would pick up my iPhone and call those I love. Why? Because death is the enemy and the victor over death is love.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good News on Trafficking

Check out these success stories on the Human Trafficking front. 

FBI, police rescue child prostitutes around U.S.
Together, we can make a difference.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Who are you relying on in this recession?

Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? ~ Matthew 25:44
There is something very puzzling to me about this "recession." A recession is an economic term determined by the GDP over a period of time. People who don't know what "GDP" means are worried and blaming politicians for this "recession."

Yes, people have lost their jobs and it is difficult to find jobs. But, there are still the same number of people with the ability to work. The same number of houses, the same amount of food growing in the fields. So what exactly are individuals losing during this recession?

The only thing I can figure is that we are losing or at risk of losing our ability to be self-reliant and have pride in our work. 
The pattern of this world is to take care of yourself and store up money to "enjoy life" in the future (even though we may not be alive tomorrow). 

The pattern of this world is to feel sorry for neighbors and friends who have lost their job. Maybe offer a little assistance but nothing that risks your own security and ability to be self-sufficient.

The pattern of this world is to hide our personal needs so that we appear "healthy" - those who don't hide their needs are considered "needy."

The pattern of this world is to blame the politicians for the irresponsibility of spending more than our government actually has. (Why do we bash our representatives for national debt when they are representing our personal pattern of spending?)

The pattern of this world is to not work in a job that is "below" our skill set for fear of looking desperate or incapable of more responsibility.

The pattern of this world is SELF.
Money is not the answer. A stimulus package that is truly going to make a long-term difference requires stimulating individuals to think differently.

Are you afraid of losing control, losing the security of self-sufficiency? Who are you relying on? God is in control regardless of what the GDP indicates. His desire is that we become one. Imagine what could happen if believers (employed and unemployed) responded to the recession differently than those who don't profess to rely on God.
May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. ~ John 17:23

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Differences in the Two Kingdoms

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. ~ Matthew 7:21
Yesterday, I blogged about the two kingdoms in this world. We each live by the rule and pattern of one or the other. It would be nice to say I always live by the pattern of God's kingdom but I don't. The difference is whether I accept it as normal when I'm living according to the pattern of  "this world" or whether it is normal for me to live according to the patterns of God's kingdom.

We are surrounded by the kingdom of this dark world and all the self-centeredness of it. God's kingdom is here, strong and powerful, but the gate into His kingdom is small and the road is narrow. (Matthew 7:13)

The difference for those who are living under the rule of God's kingdom is really quite simple but also difficult because of our cultures pressure to be self-sufficient. 
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24
There are many good and moral people in this world who do wonderful things for others. The problem is they rule themselves (self-rule is the pattern of the kingdom of Satan). 

Regardless of how good we think we are, if we aren't listening to God's Word and putting it into practice, we aren't building our life in God's kingdom. There is a difference in knowing God's Word and hearing it. His Word comes to life by submitting fully to the Holy Spirit. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can know the will of God for our everyday pattern of living.

The two kingdoms have distinct patterns. Which pattern is normal for you? Listening to God and putting what he says into practice or judging for yourself what is right and good?

Additional Resources: 
Vineyard Columbus online Sermon for February 15, 2009: The Challenge of Pluralism and the follow-up Bible Study (this study changes weekly and is not archived)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Where are you?

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy....
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Psalm 96:1, 11-12; 97:1

Are you glad that the Lord reigns? Do you know that he reigns now? 

Life is not about existing until we die and then going to heaven or hell. Life is about living, now.

If you believe God created all things and that he does nothing without purpose and meaning, then you must understand that he has a purpose for you, here and now. 

We are like a puzzle piece. Cut and designed for a spot in the bigger picture. To deny that or attempt to live as a puzzle piece outside of the bigger picture is absurd.

Consider the absurdity of purchasing a 3-ring binder and trying to use it as a chair. This is the picture of all creation - man and nature - fighting against his intended purpose.
Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns." Psalm 96:10
Right now there are two kingdoms. Are you enjoying the kingdom designed for all creation? If not, come on over. There is a spot created especially for you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

From Congress to the Brothel by Linda Smith

"It was as if God Himself whispered in my ear, 'Touch her for Me.' My hand suddenly weighed 90 pounds. I froze. My head felt light from holding my breath. I could taste the stench. Would the filth make me vomit? Would I contract a deadly disease by just breathing the air? I wanted to leave my hands safely in my pockets, with my arms pressed tightly to my sides to avoid brushing up against anything. But I couldn't ignore the internal voice: 'Touch her for Me.'" ~ Linda Smith
This book is very well written. Far more than facts and figures, Smith includes her personal thoughts and reactions, allowing the reader to grasp the reality of the sex trafficking industry.

With only 102 pages, it can be easily read and passed on as a quick introduction for those who are skeptical about or new to the topic of modern-day slavery.

The personal stories of the children and young women in India, Australia, Fiji, the Netherlands, and the United States are more than just names and numbers. Smith gives their story as a friend sharing their pain... and celebrating their freedom.

She doesn't leave the reader at a dead end. She reminds us the task is not more than we can handle together. Organizations like Shared Hope International have started the work. Her final words, "All you have to do is show up."

You can get a free copy of this book by visiting This is not a book to keep on your shelf. Read it and pass it on.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hot, Cold, and Lukewarm

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.
Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth.
His master replied... Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas. ~ Luke 19:10, 20, 24
I've recently learned the importance of ignoring the division headers placed in most Bibles by the editors. Above is an example. I'm familiar with the story of Zacchaeus and the parable of the three servants but I've never looked at the story and the parable together.
One of our home group leaders encourages us to study the gospels in this way. The break does not come until there is a scene change - i.e. Jesus and/or his disciples leave one place to go to another place. When Jesus tells a parable after having an encounter with someone or the crowd, the parable will relate to what has just taken place.
As I put Zacchaeus into this parable, I'm amazed at what I see. To me, Zacchaeus represents a fourth servant. In the parable, we see that the king was pleased with the servants who put the provisions to work. The king is extremely disappointed with the servant who did nothing with the minas. 

We all exist in this life because of God. Now, if you don't believe in God, I challenge you to think about how you or anything in creation got here - even if it was through a "big bang." Assuming you do believe in God and that he created everything, then everything about life is provided by Him (see Psalm 24:1). We are simply stewards even of ourselves.

Zacchaeus did something with his life. It wasn't good but he did something. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, Zacchaeus didn't use his life wisely but he was active and willing to change direction with the same momentum. 

Jesus came so that we could have an abundant life (John 10:10). That is greatly different than having an abundance of things in life. When I think of people who have had an abundant life, I picture those who have repeatedly given themselves for the benefit of others.

As I ponder a major decision in my life, this passage reminds me to do something, right or wrong, just do something. God can work with my mess ups. He promises that in Romans 8:28. But he will do little with the one who refuses to do anything. He will not force us into action.

God showed me this in real life just this week. My daughter was struggling with homework and she admitted that she is afraid to be wrong. And, it is much harder to do the work when she isn't sure how to do it. So, she would rather give up and not try than to be wrong with school work. (I can relate, can't you!) I explained to her that being wrong is actually helpful because the teachers can help her do better when they can see what she is trying to do. By doing nothing, it is difficult to know how to help her.

Jesus saw in Zacchaeus and two of the servants in the parable the desire to do something with what they had been given. The third servant was either lazy or afraid. Fear and laziness is like taking what God has given and setting it aside, hidden in a piece of cloth. This response amounts to a luke warm existence.

What are you doing with the life God has given you? Are you risking an investment of your life as much as you have risked investing your finances?
Because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. ~ Revelation 3:16-17

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Sacred Bath by Theresa Flores

Flores shares a story that needs to be told. I imagine it was a painful story to write, as it is a difficult one to read. Throughout the book I had to remind myself that this was not fiction. This happened and still happens over and over throughout our country and around the world.

An upper middle class teenager from a family of healthy, strong morals is lured into the sex trade industry. Her attraction, curiosity, and trust of those others shun place her in circumstances that go beyond her ability to control.

The story emphasizes a teenager's perspective and the options she perceived in a two-year nightmare. A teen reading this will be encouraged to rely on their innate ability to sense something wrong and avoid this or equally threatening situations before it is too late. The greater message is for parents, teachers, and other professionals who may come across teenagers trapped in this horrid industry which steals the innocence from an estimated 1.2 million children every year (UNICEF).

This book is self-published and would be greatly enhanced by a professional editor. I would like to see Flores seek out an experienced ghost writer or editor to increase the potential of being published and distributed to a larger audience through a traditional publishing house.

For more information on this topic, visit my "Fellow Abolitionist" listed in the right margin of this blog. More sites are listed in my previous posts on this topic: Bring Justice - Become and Abolitionist and Dignity and Justice for All.

Visit for this month's free audio download (Feb 2009), Not for Sale - The Return of Global Slave Trade and How We Can Fight it by David Batstone.

You may also be interested in reading the National Institute of Justice Special Report (Dec 2007), Commerical Exploitation of Children: What Do We Know and What Do We Do About It?
the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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