What is poverty?

What if poverty isn’t about a lack of food, money, or clothing?

What if our attempts to help the poor can actually hurt them?

Good intentions aren’t enough.

Brian Fikkert—co-author of When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself 1, and founder and executive director of the Chalmers Center (whose vision is for “local churches to declare and demonstrate to people who are poor that Jesus Christ is making all things new”)—looks at the deeper meaning of poverty [video]:

We were created for a relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation.

It’s a beautiful mess.

Let us commit to learning together how we can walk with the poor in humble relationships, rather than only providing temporary handouts to them. We cannot “fix” them. Only Jesus can.

I too am poor.

You are too. 

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  1. I can think of no better book on poverty and truly helping the poor than When Helping Hurts (AmazonWTS Books).
 

Halloween: Trick or Treat?

We associate Halloween with ghosts, devils and darkness. This video offers a different take.


Created by 10ofthose.com

Vast armies undead do tread through the night and
In hordes march towards hapless victims to frighten.
They stumble in step with glass-eyes on the prizes;
Bunched hither, hunched over in monstrous disguises;
In sizes not lofty but numb’ring a throng;
To unleash on their prey the dreaded DING DONG.
Small faces with traces of mother’s eye-liner,
Peer up to the resident candy provider.

And there to intone ancient threats learnt verbatim;
They lisp “TRICK OR TREAT!” Tis their stark ultimatum.
Thus: region by region such legions take plunder.
Does this spector-full spectacle cause you to wonder?
Just how did our fair festive forebears conceive,
Of this primeval practice called All Hallows Eve?
The answer, if anyone cares to research,
Surprises, it rises from old mother church.

On the cusp of the customary All Saints Day
The Christ-i-an kinsfolk made mocking display.
These children of light both to tease and deride;
Don darkness, doll down as the sinister side.
In pre-post-er-ous pageants and dress diabolic,
They hand to the damned just one final frolick.
You see with the light of the dawn on the morrow,
The sunrise will swallow such darkness and sorrow.

The future is futile for forces of evil;
And so they did scorn them in times Medieval.
For this is the nature of shadow and gloom;
In the gleaming of glory there can be no room.
What force is resourced by the echoing black?
When the brightness ignites can the shadow push back?
These ‘powers’ of darkness, if such can be called,
Are banished by brilliance, by blazing enthralled.

So the Bible begins with this fore-resolved fight;
For a moment the darkness…. then “Let there be Light!”
First grief in the gloom, then joy from the East.
First valley of shadow, then mountaintop feast.
First wait for Messiah, then long-promised Dawn.
First desolate Friday and then Easter Morn.
The armies of darkness when doing their worst,
Can never extinguish this Dazzling Sunburst.

So… ridicule rogues if you must play a role;
But beware getting lost in that bottomless hole.
The triumph is not with the forces of night.
It dawned with the One who said “I am the Light!”

 

I know my weakness, know my voice, but I believe in Grace & choice …

Mumford & Sons’ newly-filmed music video of “BABEL,” filmed in San Francisco:

Excellent filmography, better melodies, and even better-est words…

So you may sing along, here are the lyrics to Babel1, the title track on their newest album:

‘Cause I know that time has numbered my days
And I’ll go along with everything you say
But I’ll ride home laughing, look at me now
The walls of my town, they come crumbling down

And my ears hear the call of my unborn sons
And I know their choices color all I’ve done
But I’ll explain it all to the watchman’s son,
I ain’t ever lived a year better spent in love

‘Cause I’ll know my weakness, know my voice
And I believe in grace and choice
And I know perhaps my heart is fast,
But I’ll be born without a mask

Like the city that nurtured my greed and my pride,
I stretch my arms into the sky
I cry Babel! Babel! Look at me now
Then the walls of my town, they come crumbling down

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  1. “Babel” is the one missing song I wish they’d played live at their recent concert at the Rose Garden in Portland, which was quite simply the best concert I’ve ever attended. (And yes, I’m aware there’s a controversy on whether this band is “Christian.” Thus I tend to reserve their two songs featuring an F-bomb in the chorus to those times I need a little angst to get me up a steep hill while running.)
 

You can fly!

1) Throw on wingsuit.
2) Jump off cliff.
3) Fly 100+ mph.
4) Fit like an eagle through rock hole.


(Click here to see video, if not shown.)

I can think of greater tests of manhood — such as being a faithful father and servant-leader husband in the home day in and day out. Yet, I still think one has to admire the preparation and determination it took to attempt a stunt like this. Let’s apply that sort of ambition, in noble pursuits.

 

Get to know the real St. Patrick.

Did you know Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish, and that when he was sixteen he was captured by pirates and sold off to be a slave in Ireland? (My son thought that was pretty cool. Plus, he now knows there weren’t any snakes in Ireland before Patrick arrived, so he didn’t drive them out.)

St. Patrick in Ireland

Until that sudden change as a teen, Patrick had zero interest in Christianity. Through suffering and isolation from others, God entered his life and transformed him from the inside out. As a new son of God he was never forsaken and prayed diligently day and night while alone tending to his master’s sheep and livestock in the Irish countryside. God spoke to him a way of escape, featuring a long 200-mile trek to board a ship waiting at the coast. Encountering the risen Christ in this special Providence, Patrick learned to trust God and serve Him faithfully and passionately. Upon arriving home he found training in the ways of Jesus (in seminary, becoming a monk), and gave up his inheritance on earth for the sake of the Gospel.

There’s much more to Patrick’s story. I’ll let this super short video from From Timothy Paul Jones and Church History Made Easy share some highlights:

With undaunted courage and perseverance — becoming enlightened by the Gospel and motivated by the grace of God, which overwhelmed his heart and soul — Patrick later returned to the place of his misery to serve, embodying courage and generosity. Back in Ireland he did the work of a “saint,” spread the Gospel, loving people who loved themselves and didn’t love God. Knowing God personally and developing sound theology, Patrick used the terms of the pagans to explain the terms of Grace, the Cross, and the Kingdom of God. (Legend has it he took the common yet sacred-shaped shamrock to describe the character of God, explaining the Trinity in a visual way).

St. Patrick Shamrock Trinity

A great missionary, a great man. Can’t wait to meet Patrick in heaven, snakes or no snakes.