February 27, 2008

Rebuilding The Wall

Over the past couple Saturdays, a few of us from our young adult group at church had the opportunity to do some community service with a local organization here in Indianapolis called Rebuilding The Wall. This is an organization that buys run down houses in the urban neighborhoods of the city, completely renovates the house and then sells it back to people from the community for a reduced price ending the cycle of poverty by putting equity into the hands of these families. It's a process that can take 2-4yrs per house from start to finish but seeing the impact this makes in the community is worth a lifetime.

If there is anything one picks up on from reading the Gospels it is the relationship of love and how much Jesus loves the poor and oppressed and calls His disciples to love them as well. I was talking with one of my friends tonight about this very thing and he brought up a good point about how easy it is for people to be blinded by their "richness" so that they don't or won't sympathize with the poor. It is impossible to ignore the responsibility to care for the less fortunate that is found in Scripture, too bad it has become so easy for many of us today...

February 19, 2008

I'll Trade You a Castro for a Castro

I must admit that I know very little about the history of Cuba or the government run by Fidel Castro for the past 49yrs other than what I hear in the news about things like: communism, dictatorship, economic embargo, human rights issues, native Cubans fleeing their country, etc. Early today Fidel said that he was stepping down as the president of Cuba and experts say that things have been set in place so that Fidel's younger (and by "younger" I mean 76yrs old, not 81) brother Raul will be the country's next president and not much is expected to change. So the people of Cuba are trading one Castro for another. You can read an article from the BBC here.

The thing that jumps out to me the most in all of this is the continual push by the government of the U.S. to insist that every other country and peoples around the world desire to live in a democracy. Now don't freak out and think that I'm somehow anti-democracy but I wonder what it might feel like to have another country from the other side of the planet, with a completely different (and very short comparatively) history and mix of cultures say that the way they do government is the best and only way? I must admit to you however that there are times when I struggle with our attitude and approach as a nation to some things on the global stage, where we come across as not only knowing what's best but that we are the best. I wonder if humility could ever play into a foreign policy...nah, surely not.

February 15, 2008

Clipping the Religious Wings part 2

This post is a result of a request from one of the readers named Alison and relates back to my original post on Jan. 21 entitled Clipping the Religious Wings.

I raised a number of questions surrounding the terms "Evangelical Right" and "Religious Left" as they refer to different combinations of religion and wing politics. If you have followed any of the presidential election process up to this point, you have seen that religion has played a significant role in more than one way. The religion or faith of the candidates has been talked about more in this campaign than in any other I have lived through and the emphasis on the "religious wing" voters grows stronger almost by the day.

It's interesting to look back at the history of our country and remember that many of those that came from Europe came seeking religious freedom from their governments even to the point of including the idea of separation of church and state in the founding documents. So what role should one's faith play in the voting process? I think it should be made clear that Christians as a whole find themselves voting all over the place....conservative, liberal, Democrat, Republican, Independent, not voting at all, moderate and to try and pigeon hole Christian voters as only being able to vote one particular way is not only impossible but foolish. Can someone be a Christian and vote Democratic or even Republican...OF COURSE!! Last I checked, no political party or lobby group has exclusive rights to the faith whose main focus is to be like Jesus.

February 12, 2008

Naptown Roller Girls

This past Saturday we had a Fusion Young Adult Ministries social event to the Naptown Roller Girls roller derby bout at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. If you're like me and have never been to a roller derby bout before, let me tell you from personal experience...throw out any assumptions you have about the type of people that might go to an event like this. We're talking every race, age, economic class, piercings, tattoos, etc. From the 83yr old lady sitting in front of us to the family with 2 kids that couldn't have been more than 6 sitting behind us.

Once I started to get the hang of how the event actually takes place and how the scoring works, it was kind of fun. It's funny though because I went in expecting not very many people to be there, for the girls to be skating much faster and there to be more pushing and shoving on the track. Needless to say, I was wrong on all accounts. There quite a few people there, to the point where it was hard to find a seat and a ton of people left with standing room only. The girls didn't skate as fast as I expected or beat each other up as much as I thought but it was still a good time. Here is a little video my friend Jeremy Lehman shot in case you don't believe we were actually there...

February 11, 2008

Virtues of Christ

There are a number of studies, sermons, talks, discussions, books, etc. on the various virtues of Christ such as his faith, humility, obedience, love, hope, etc. There are not many people, religious or otherwise, that would argue that Jesus was a great moral teacher who practiced and lived out these various virtues. Some individuals or groups like to focus in on one of Christ's many virtues and set it up as the one virtue which Christ was all about and then read the accounts of Jesus' ministry in light of this particular virtue; say love, humility, or faith for example.

What I think is important to remember is that Jesus used these virtues together, never just one and his ministry was never about just one of them. His heroic hopefulness was coupled with his heroic faith and heroic love, all of which find their source in relation Jesus had to God the Father. His ministry was about this relationship to God, all of these virtues must be seen in light of this relationship, never for the sake of the virtue itself. "The virtue of love in Jesus' character and demand is the virtue of the love of God and of the neighbor in God, not the virtue of the love of love." (Richard Niebuhr Christ & Culture)

February 7, 2008

The Beginning of the Lenten Journey

This past Wednesday started the church season of Lent as 'Ash Wednesday'. Ash Wednesday is a day that is used to symbolize the attitude of sorrow for sins committed and repentance for those sins. Ashes were used in Bible times as a means of demonstrating that same attitude of sorrow and repentance, hence Ash Wednesday.

Lent is a 40 day journey that is done to remember the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his ministry and Christians observe Lent to prepare themselves for the Resurrection celebrated on Easter, when Lent officially ends. There are 40 days of the Lenten season, not including the Sundays leading up to Easter, as they are seen as mini-celebrations in honor of Resurrection Sunday. Many people decide to give up things for Lent in an attempt to practice discipline and self-sacrifice just as Jesus fasted during his 40 days in the wilderness, while others go a different direction and take something on, ie. volunteer service, intense study of Scripture, quality time with family and friends, additional financial giving, etc etc. So whatever this Lenten journey means for you, I hope and pray that you experience the presence of Christ in a real and powerful way that goes way beyond these 40 days.

Super Tuesday

I'm not sure who noticed or cared, though it would seem almost impossible to not have heard this past Tuesday referred to as "Super Tuesday" because of the more than 20 states that were holding primaries and caucuses. In an attempt to come closer to deciding who would be the respective candidates from the two parties for president, only the Republican results were decisive. On the Democratic side, nothing was decided other than proving that this will continue to be a close race.

While I have been more intrigued in this primary season more than any I have lived through let us not forget about those whose lives were literally turned upside down that day by the severe storms that hit Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee. Countless people lost family members, friends and loved ones as 56 people died as a result of these storms that swept through the South. Being engaged in the political process of our country is a responsibility we all have as a citizens as well as Christians, in the same way, and maybe even more so, we have a responsibility to reach out to those in need as do the very politicians we are voting into office. I think it will truly earn the title of "Super Tuesday" when our politicians rise up and take a stand for those in need.

February 5, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

If you are one of the unfortunate New England Patriots fans then you may want to start getting use to the reference of one of the biggest upsets in sports history. With only 1 game to go to be the first NFL team to go 19-0 and lose it by a New York Giants touchdown in the final seconds of the Super Bowl this past Sunday must be a double-whammy. Not only did the Patriots not make history by having an undefeated season but they also lost the championship game.

I'm not sure if you were one of the 97.5 million people that watched the game Sunday but if you were, you might have found it to be rather boring. Don't get me wrong, I'm pumped the Giants won but they did it with little excitement, rather it was hard-nosed football with solid defense. To be honest, what really kept me watching the game were the commercials and I was curious to see how Tom Petty's halftime performance would be.

Tom Petty did fine, played a few of his popular songs and avoided any wardrobe malfunctions. The commercials overall I found to be pretty funny. The E*Trade baby ones were hilarious and my favorite by far (make sure to check those out). Bud Light had one or two that were pretty funny as did Tide and Pepsi. If you missed any, you can find them at www.myspace.com/superbowlads. Let us know which ones made you laugh.