Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Problem

I have noticed, mostly because it's an election year, a large majority of Christians who are wanting certain morality legislation from the US Government.  I think it's indicative of the Body of Christ who has lost its way while allowing ourselves to become complacent, much like the children of Israel as they came out of slavery in Exodus.  The problem with Christianity today is that Christians are looking to the government to solve problems that the Church has the power to do ourselves. 

If you want morality to return to the nation, you claim is gone, then you be the one who instills it by causing a culture change. If you really want to change the state of this nation then you have to be part of the process, you cannot rely on the government to legislate morality, because you CANNOT legislate MORALITY.  It's a choice that you make as an individual. 

While I am on this subject, I have heard a lot of people talking about social services, and that the government should not be doing this, the church should.  I think that's a great idea, why don't you start that right now.  The truth is, the government stepped in when the church changed its focus and stopped helping feed the poor, and helping the widows and the orphans.  Because the church stopped the government has a moral, ethical obligation to help those in need. If you're a Christian who is mad because your tax dollars are being spent to help those in need, you needn't look any farther than the end of your nose. 

It's our fault that the nation is in the moral decay.  We can blame, the Republicans, or the Democrats  or Washington all together.  You can blame this person or that one, but at the end of the day, it was the Christians who caused it.  We are the ones who should be above reproach, but obviously humans who miss the mark, but instead we shunned people with different ideas, and buried our heads in the sand. 

We should be investing our time and energy into others, so that they might find the hope and promise that we have.  We must stop looking at the government, and especially The Presidents, to solve the problems that WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN to SOLVE on our own. 

So, where do we start? It's starts with you owning your flaws, knowing you're weak, trusting on God to make up the difference, and then go out and change the world around you.  As momentum builds, you will see how the culture of the country changes as well.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Shock and Awe

There I was minding my own business in line at the checkout when I was thrust into the web of a national debate. No, there were no cameras capturing what was happening, but rather a national debate happening right in front of me. It's the debate that we will continue to hear for many more months. 
The young lady who was checking out was obviously at her wits end. She was balanced between watching precariously each item scanned, while entertaining a cranky toddler who had a runny nose, and was rubbing his ear profusely. I am sure he was sick and being in the seat of the shopping cart was the last place he wanted to be. He was crying in pain, and his mom was trying as hard as she could to keep her sanity. I couldn't help but think of why the young lady was so intensely watching the register. She was in scrubs and appeared to be in some sort of medical program at our local community college. 
All of the sudden, I realized there was an older women and her husband who were obviously irritated by the crying of the toddler. They had been there the whole time, but I started noticing them because of their complete lack of understanding. They were covering their ears, making snide comments, and rolling their eyes. I thought how tough it must be for that mother right at that moment. I could tell she was obviously embarrassed and was trying to be everything in that moment. She just couldn't keep her sick baby from crying, and there was nothing that could change it. 
I noticed she was purchasing a lot of baby food and formula. Her basket looked a lot like mine. She had several things that were just normal items, things that anyone who was purchasing groceries for their family would buy. 
As the cashier rang up the last item and reported the total, the young lady pulled out her EBT card to purchase her items. The lady in front of me turned to her husband and very loudly said, "OH! Well, of course, she is using food stamps." The nastiness continued, "I hope she enjoys that food I bought for her."
The young lady obviously heard, and immediately her embarrassment turned to shame. She stopped making eye contact with the cashier, held her head down, grabbed her groceries and her cart with the toddler inside, and sheepishly scanted away. 
The shock must have been easily read on my face because the lady and her husband could not look at me again. I felt so sorry for the young lady, and I actually felt sorry for the couple in front of me. 
It occurred to me in that very moment, when did we become this demoralizing? When did we feel like it was our right to get angry and demean others? Why have we decided that we know what's best, and put ourselves in the driver's seat of people's lives? 
In my work, I am constantly bombarded with a false reality people have decided to believe. I have heard that the hungry are lazy, entitled, and completely devoid of our help. I have heard people say that food stamps are like feeding the animals -- they just come to expect it. I have heard people in Washington claim there is rampant fraud, and we should cut this program. I have heard all these horrible things. All of this ran through my head, all of it bitter and cold against the scene that played out in front of me. I'm pretty sure that young lady had no idea she was standing in the midst of a national debate. I'm quite sure all she really wanted was to feed her little one and herself. 
That's the problem when we decide what reality is: we miss that individual. Stats are great, but each time you talk about a stat, or cutting a program that will affect a certain percent of people, you lose the individual. You don't see the person who will have to face the consequences, which makes it much easier to do. It's easy to categorize people and make blanket statements; it's much harder to be part of the solution. 
I feel like we should be more understanding and less judgmental. We should remember what my grandmother used to always say, "There but by the grace of God go I." 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

the poor.

I remember when I started my nonprofit journey at the Food Bank and many people said, "You'll find that the poor are easy targets."  I remember thinking that couldn't be true, who on earth could villainize the poor? My, how quickly I began to realize that was the most true statement I have ever heard.

No truer was it made clear to me about the disconnect between the poor and the privileged than while speaking to a group of college students and one asked me what I thought about all the misuse of food stamps and people who abuse the government's "hand-outs."  I remember pausing, and thinking what an arrogant statement.  After all, he was sitting in a college classroom, learning about media, and obviously had a support system in line to achieve his dreams.  "Well, you're are blessed.  You are sitting here taking college courses, obviously your parents instilled good values and such that makes it possible for you sit here.  The flip side is that not everyone was raised, experienced, and has had the opportunities you have had."  For the first time, he realized how crass his comments came out, and how blessed he was.  I went right in to talking about how we have got to reach out to those around us.

I recently went to Washington DC, and now I understand why the poor are easy targets.  They are easy targets because they have no money.  I was disgusted by the ridiculousness of DC.  If this is the suppose nucleus of our government, I feel that we are failing.  There are elevators, for "members only," yes this is for the elected officials who are so busy they just can't be in the same elevators as common folk.  We met with some of our local elected officials, and while telling them about the plight of constituents in there area, we were lambasted with false accusations of the poor.  We were told they get multiple calls about people abusing the system.  Yes, we understand, there are some who choose to do the wrong thing.  I wanted to ask them if their boss, the congressman, had ever taken a trip in exchange for a vote?  Because in my mind, I feel like that is just as corrupt.  Money talks in Washington.  Whoever has the most wins, and I am sure George Washington, is mortified with what he sees.

The poor are easy targets and pawns in the game that is called "law making."

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Are you pro-life or pro-birth?

Because to me there is a huge distinction.  Let me first say that I am 100% unequivocally pro-life.  Sadly, I think many people who think they are pro-life are actually pro-birth.  What's the difference?  Well, I am glad you asked.

I have heard countless people, mostly of the Christian faith, boldly speak about their beliefs against abortion.  They make the claims that abortion at anytime is murder.  They speak of the consequences and how the after effects of this "murder" are long lasting and deeply rooted.  They fight for the rights of the unborn baby.  They praise mothers who "made the right choice," and have sympathy for the ones "who didn't."

All the time we are fighting for the baby to be born.  I think we are missing a HUGE problem.  The baby is born, usually to a single mother...... then what?

What kind of life is the baby going to have?  What stability is he/she going to have?  Chances are, if the baby was unplanned (outside of marriage) the mother and father (who is probably out of the picture) doesn't have the skills or discipline or encouragement to provide a loving and thriving home.  We must be willing to help.  Help navigate, adopt, or be part of the village that creates a place for the child to grow.  I know what's you're thinking.  It's the responsibility of the mother.  Yes, you say that and you're obviously educated and raised by great parents.  Well, not everyone is so lucky.  Some people had parents who didn't teach their children how to live, thrive, and love.  They taught them just to survive, needless to say no lessons on consequences.

If we put our necks our there and want to end abortion than we had also better be willing to be part of the solution.  I see daily, in my job, what happens to a mother who refuses to abort.  It's a hard life, and lacking a support system.  It's a group that preaches about ending abortion, and yelling that single mothers are bilking the the system.  Many of the children who's mothers chose to carry the baby to full term will need the assistance of various programs (CHiP, SNAP, TANF). This system is not easy to navigate, and many will need YOUR help.

It does take a community to raise a child.  Are you part of that community?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

where is grace.......

I hate religion.  I really can't think of anything I hate more than it, and let me tell you why.  It is my belief that Jesus did not mean for His followers to develop into what we see today.  I am not saying that going to church, or the corporate body of believers is wrong, because clearly the Bible is clear about being together in faith.  I am talking about all the things that were added to the faith.  I imagine they came along because of someone else's struggle with those things.  One example there of, is the subject of alcohol.  No where in the Bible does it say that alcohol is forbidden.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Jesus in His first miracle turned water into wine.  Now, many say that the "wine" was just grape juice, and while there is no Biblical evidence that this is the case, I will say that I completely agree.  The wine that Jesus turned from water was grape juice, it had be put in a huge vat and allowed to ferment, and then it be came wine.  It is taught in many churches that alcohol is just a terrible thing and should be avoided at all costs.  Well, I think that teaching comes right out of the speakers flesh  due to past hurts and traumas.  I imagine the speaker to have struggled with alcohol and is trying to protect his people from going down the same path.  The problem with such things is, that it creates a lie.  Alcohol has never hurt a single soul.  Yes the effects of too much are bad, but the Bible does point out to not get intoxicated.  And yes there are alcoholics, but in my opinion its not the drink that's the problem, it's the past hurts.  When we don't deal with our emotions and problems we find  a way to medicate them.  My pastor spoke about this, this past weekend, and I couldn't help but think about it all week.

To understand "religion" you have to understand what I am talking about.  Religion is man-made, it's not biblical, or sound doctrine.  It's adding to, or interpreting the scriptures through your flesh and setting up what I like to call road blocks.  It happens like this, there are a lot of teens having premarital sex.  So, then you make everyone dress overly modest, and keep boys and girls separate.  Making girls chant, modest is hottest.  Girls have to wear dresses that are 4.5 inches past the knee.  They are not allowed to swim together.  And so on, and on.  That's effectively setting up a road block.  You are addressing the fruit of the issue and not the root of the issue.  How about approaching that by empowering them with messages that build character, accountability, and trust.  How about setting up a mentoring program that focuses on self worth.  How about teaching them the realities of what decisions made too early can do to you.  Anyways, you get my point.

Also, we use religion as our exclusionary clause.  If you don't look or act like me then you're just not part of the clique.  This "righteous" arrogance is the worst.  We have all been saved with the same amount of grace.  And that's the worst part about religion... it keeps grace from being part of the equation.  Grace is a free gift.  It's not something that should be discussed and decided upon... it should just be given.

Anyways, I saw these videos and I think they touch on the topic very well.  I am that water bottle.... we all are.