Sunday, February 18, 2007

Changing Life

I have read an interesting article defining successful micro-credit from failures. To sum it up it is not the money that changes lives but the other things asked of the borrower. This is based upon Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Banks and the focus he is getting from Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. I encourage you to read it to understand where I am going with my life.

http://www.symbiotics.ch/en/rss_microfinance.asp?id=b332

I am involved in another ministry, Crown Financial, which seeks to help develop a Biblical way of handling money. Here in America it is 99% getting out of debt. And the radio programs, Bible studies, small groups, counseling is all very invasive. All the material seeks to very much change your life, and that is harsh if you do not want to.

So I spent the last five years of my life with Crown's anti-debt mantra drilled into me. And now I am to go lend money to others? This has been a struggle. Then I looked at several Bible verses. Proverbs 22:7 "Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender." and also Deuteronomy 15:4-6 and 28:1, 2, 12, which ends with "You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none." AH!!! Look at what Mr. Yunas requires of his borrowers. Weekly loan repayments, promises not to do certain behaviors. The same is true for Opportunity International. They require weekly meetings, there is group accountability, and so much more that I do not know yet. This gives me confidence, we will leverage our stance as a lender not as money grubbers do for our gain but for cultural change, one borrower as a time.

But that is a big weight on our shoulders, we are asking for lives to change, culture to change, and who is to say what is the right culture? "You may have the money if you hop on one foot an hour a day." I don't want people to say they are a Christian just to get some cash. No I want changed lives, hearts. A slow steady solid change, such that for the year I am working, I will only have set the groundwork.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Follow The Path


This was written this past fall, but the pictures were from last week:

Reading Ezekiel I learned that most people in the bible who had revelations from God were in a state of shock for a time, usually seven days. I also noticed how quickly time can pass in a single verse. Lay on your left side for over a year. On your right for 40 more days. Speak only what the Lord puts in your mouth. I am glad I do not see 4-headed beasts destroying the world with coal and chariots with eyes. My north is not thunder. I have seen a tire washing in the waves. I have walked around in a circle following my own path. The first time around I prayed that I would follow God's will not my own foolishness. I am so fearful of something like depression, schizophrenia, or just plain being crazy being a part of my whole. I need to have confidence that what I am going through is real. My first time around I looked at things, cleared a path, and was free to go wherever I wanted and at what speed. “Go around again.” “Follow your tracks.” That was harder, I could not look out unless I was stopped, I had to look down to step in the same spot, and even then it is not exact. Even though it was just moments ago that I walked that path I had trouble remembering exactly which foot went first and why my pace varied. It was not until the third time around I remembered that the car went by. The fifth and I tried to look up and follow the path. The sixth I could see how poorly I had done.

God does have me on a path. I think in Ezekiel where the Lord spoke. No longer will a son be held accountable for his father’s sins. A man will be only responsible for himself. And if a righteous man sins, all his goodness will be forgotten, he will be shunned. But if an evil man casts off his old ways and seeks God, he will be a new man. My greatest fear, I am a good man at the moment. Yet I have this pain caused within me by the possibility to fail. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want to cause others to fail, to sin. Build me up oh God; remove from me my hard heart. My desire for evil. How I long to be with you forever, yet I fear death.

As I walked that path I was told earlier and earlier to go around again. If I waited until I got to the last moment I stood there helpless thinking of what I should do. But if I spent the whole path listening I could just walk past that point without missing a step.

Numbers do not mater; six is no more significant than five or five thousand. It is that you do it for the Lord. Time does not mater, I thought at one point this fall I would have all my answers in a matter of weeks, then days, then hours. Then nothing happened. I went for a bike ride. Called to do it. Called to a spot a short road called Ryan’s Place. I prayed and all my expectations were washed away. But I still had God, I still had this journey. I still walk the walk God asks me too. It is hard, it is depressing. He is asking me to take every step his way, but he is not guiding my every step. No He is not. I am given short messages and my faith needs to keep me on track to follow through.

Our conversations are to get me to do something I would not do without them. Build me up and do what God wants, what I am capable of, but yet would not think of doing on my own. Yet I have confidence that I have been prepared for what I will be doing. But God has washed away all my expectations of what that is.
I have been taught the secular way, and if Christ was not leading my on a very specific journey the best way to get a job. And it has worked. But God has a very different plan and right now my step is to wait. I have no clue how to wait without dwindling away. What if I am asked to run a mile. I can sprint maybe 100 feet before I would fail. God is not letting me know how to train except to read the Bible; and then I still have some doubts. Maybe I forgot a 1000 steps back that God already told me to do something and I have forgotten.

Monday, February 12, 2007

1Cor3:9-15



Or to put it another way, you are God's house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you'll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won't get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn't, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won't be torn out; you'll survive—but just barely. (1cor3:9-15 The Message)

We are the materials, what Paul does not say here, but does say other places is that the materials are modified to be used best. Take a look at this railroad I was building. In the center there is a 2x4 leg holding up that section of the layout. Problem is, it is too long by 18 inches. To leave it like that would compromise the look of the whole railroad up top. Soon after this picture was taken I cut that 2x4 down to the track level.

Also in Paul's story I am impressed by the inspector looking at what the architect and builders had done with the material. Paul knows the load on himself as instructor of how to be a church. A question is, while the foundational can not change, and the building materials are basically the same, does the architecture need to change? Why? and How?