Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Africa: Simple Math!

 (Add some maize flour, sugar beans and 18 bags of frozen chicken and you have the ingredients to feed 600+ people!!)

(Before I write anything, I want to promise you… I am not on a guilt trip and I am NOT trying to send anyone else on one either.  If I could talk to you face to face, what you would find is a broken heart…  Not judgment, self-righteousness or self-condemnation.  But here’s the thing…  Hebrews 4:12 says that “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Sometimes, I just have to let the Word of God do its work in my heart…  Even if it hurts…  So here goes!)

This morning I was reading Psalm 72…  I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t familiar with Psalm 72…  WOW, how have I missed this one?

Some believe that King Solomon wrote this Psalm, others believe that it was King David’s prayer for his son, Solomon…  But ultimately, it is a look at what a kingdom would look like ruled by a righteous and just king…  And only Jesus fully fits that description.

As I hung out with the Psalm a while, it struck me that a repeated characterization of a kingdom ruled by a righteous king is characterized by care for the poor and needy…

Well, Jesus made it clear when He came that He was ushering in that kingdom…  It is a kingdom that begins in the heart of a Christian, who claims Jesus as their King, and it is our calling to make that kingdom visible in the world…

And here’s something that really struck me, vs. 15 says, “Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him!”  Charles Spurgeon writes, “How gladly would we give him all that we have and are, and count the tribute far too small.”  The gold that we give to our King are the blessings He’s entrusted to us!

So how are we doing (as the church)?  Even harder to ask, how am I doing?

All I have to do is sit in my chair and look around and I can tell you, I’m not doing so well.  I see waste and extravagance everywhere I look…  I don’t even want to think about what I can’t see from where I sit…our pantry…our closet…there’s not a place in this house to escape it!

Using Heart For Africa’s Gift Catalog (www.heartforafrica.org) and Samaritan’s Purse Catalog (www.samaritanspurse.org) I decided to walk around our house and do some simple math…  I’m only using extras…  things we don’t use…  I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy God’s blessings… What is breaking my heart though is how I’ve wasted God’s blessings on extravagance…  THAT’S what HAS to change in my life…  So let’s go for a walk…

$350 for 2 of 4 lamps that are rarely used would provide care for an orphan for 10 months (at $35/month)

$100 for my running/walking shoes that are RARELY used for their intended purpose would buy 2 bags of maize flour, feeding 500 people!

2 of 5 Gap black t-shirts at $12 each…  (A Gap black t-shirt is my uniform, I wear one most days but I have a washing machine for crying out loud!)  Those 2 extra t-shirts would buy 4 blankets for a child who is cold.  (I don’t even want to think about how much has been wasted on clothes in general…  There are only so many days in a week…)

The $48.95 sandals that I just HAD to have for a party…  10 weeks worth of milk for a child…  OUCH

There's SO many 'little' things I could list...  Too many lipsticks...  Nail polishes...  Eye shadows...  Hair products...  Brushes...  If I start opening drawers there is $3 - $5 - $10 wasted all around me...  And as you can see from the photo above...  A 'little' goes a LONG way in some countries!

And then here’s one that really hurts…  The community I love so much desperately needs a well…  the $10,000 it cost to increase the size of our family room and second floor playroom (a room to play in...  REALLY?!  That just sounds SO absurd to me right now).  That would have built that well, or an entire house for a family...  Add $5,000 to it and it would have built a classroom, a soup kitchen to feed hungry children…  Now I’m a little sick to my stomach.  Do I love our family room?  Yes…  Was it wrong to do it?  Honestly, right at this moment, I don’t know how to answer that...  I want to say no, but is that really the right answer?  Do we need all that extra space?  Nope!  Could we have had better reflected God’s kingdom by making a different decision?  ABSOLUTELY… 

And isn’t that REALLY what it comes down to?  As a Christian, it’s all about how I reflect the kingdom of heaven!  If someone who knew nothing about God, walked into my house today, they might think that God’s kingdom is all about stuff…  indulgence…  extravagance …waste… 

And that is a POOR reflection of my King whom I love!  HE’S all about caring for the poor and needy…  Redemption and restoration…

Let me leave you with this…  If I say I have a heart for others to know Jesus,  this Psalm tells me how!

Vs 11 says this… “May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!”  And vs. 12-14 tell us how that happens…  “For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor, and him who has no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.  From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.”

If I really want to make Jesus known to the nations (the US included) I need to put some serious feet on my faith…  My life needs to better reflect the reality of the kingdom of God, including in my home and in my buying decisions…  To borrow from Josh Wilson, “Something’s gotta change!”

“Blessed be His glorious name forever, may the whole earth be filled with His glory!  Amen and Amen!”  (vs. 19) 

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