Sunday, July 27, 2014

Called to Lead #FamilyofJesus

Have you ever been called to do something that has almost zero chance of success? Do you remember the feelings that came with the task?  Isolation.  Loneliness.  Despair over your inadequacies.  Frustration with the lack of progress.  I bet the list could go on and on.  These feelings can be multiplied by 10 if you are actually "leading" an effort, but as Karen Kingsbury aptly notes, no matter our title we are "called to lead."
There have been more than a few times in my life I have been involved in efforts that were destined for failure.  As a matter of fact, some days it feels like that is the story of my life.  The battles have been tough and many days I just wanted to curl up in a ball and check out.  As I look back though, I realize in many respects I ended up victorious although no one on the outside would like at me and consider me wildly, or even moderately, successful.  The victory was the work God did on my heart through the process.  He helped me overcome fear and walk completely by faith.  I learned obedience, not just to His commandments, but also to His will and purpose for my life in any particular season.  To be sure, I still fail quite often and learn many lessons in humility when my ego gets out of check.  I wouldn't trade those rough days for the world though, because God uses them to truly refine me.
The Family of Jesus Bible Study - Member BookThis week I'm starting The Family of Jesus Bible Study by Karen Kingsbury.  I think it is safe to say that no family in history received a tougher assignment than this family.  I am excited to get a better perspective on Joseph, Mary and James, to name a few.  I was surprised to see James listed as a "doubting brother" because I absolutely love the Book of James in the New Testament.  How did James evolve?  Did Joseph and Mary ever have doubts?  How did they cope?  I know many questions will remain unanswered, but I'm looking forward to digging into this study during my lunch hour.  Hope to write more about it soon! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

For the Least of These

Here in Maryland, we are gearing up for the November 2014 elections.  All of the statewide offices will be on the ballot.  Since Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 in the state, many feel that voters decided the election during last month's primaries.  People also acknowledge that Maryland residents are pretty fed up.  Taxes are high.  Jobs are scarce.  Schools are struggling.  This may create an opening for Republicans to make the case that they could make things a little better for the people.

But do Republicans really have the answers?  Most people believe Republican principles and policies benefit only a few, mainly the wealthy and big businesses.  The prevailing wisdom is that the middle class and the poor suffer under Republican leadership.  This is troubling because Maryland has some of the largest income disparities between rich and poor in the nation.  Also, poverty and unemployment are at crisis levels in some of the urban areas like Baltimore. 

For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to PovertyThis seems like a great opportunity to educate ourselves on what the ultimate Authority has to say, which is why I was excited to see this book, For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty.  This book is for well-meaning people of faith who feel called to serve or advocate for those who live in poverty.  The book is also helpful if you believe that how you vote is part of that calling.  The book combines "Biblical exegesis with proven economic principles" and is designed to "equip Christians with both a solid biblical understanding of how best to care for the poor and foster sustainable economic development."  Just a few pages in, the book makes clear that government subsidies alone are not inline with Biblical principals and generally do not work.  This is consistent with what we see play out in our communities where it is very difficult to break the cycle of poverty even if you have robust government programs for the poor.  The editors of the book, Dr. Anne Bradley and Dr. Art Lindsey, will discuss their research at the Heritage Foundation this week.  Check this website for details on attending or viewing a webcast!