Life.  Some see it as a randomly assigned smattering of days with no purpose.  Others believe in divine appointments they rarely keep.  For most, ordinary.  But it doesn't have to be.   What if we dared to go the narrow way? Join me in taking THE FAITH DARE.

Caution: Participating in this challenge might force you to give up some of the things (people?) dearest to you. This challenge could change your life.  Join at your own risk.

Friday, June 25, 2010

FAITHdare update

We are now more than 1/3 of the way into the FAITHdare year. God has shattered my world in the past 4 months. Before I forge ahead, I want to do a "roll call" of sorts...can you please leave a comment on this post letting me know you're still with me? Doesn't have to be anything profound, just even your name, so I know how many people are still in this journey. Thanks!

Monday, June 21, 2010

FAITHdare #17: Poverty and the Heart of God

"Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him" Psalm 49:16-17.
Thus begins the FAITHdare month that will leave most despising me, the month focusing on money. Why is money such a touchy subject? No doubt, it was a touchy subject with those who came into contact with Jesus as well. The Bible includes hundreds of scriptures about money, a topic that seems to not only be on the hearts of men, but on the heart of God as well. So where do I begin?

Just like any other graduating high school student, I was excited to identify and pursue careers that would offer me success I like nice things; I like comfort. So I began to look into careers that would provide me with both. Certainly money was not the center of my decision making process regarding colleges and majors, but it was most definitely a piece of what was factored. What I hadn't factored, however, was God's work in my heart.

He confronted me with verses like:
"He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty."
-Proverbs 22:16
"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
-Matthew 19:21

"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses."
-Proverbs 28:27
I began to look into the reality that plagues the world around me. I was shocked and horrified. Here's what I found (all statistics found HERE and HERE):

The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.

Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day.
Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

1 in every 2 children worldwide lives in poverty.
2.2 million children die each year...because they are not immunized.
The wealthiest nation on Earth has the widest gap between rich and poor of any industrialized nation.

Global priorities in 1998?
$8 billion on cosmetics in the US ($9 billion is estimated to be enough to provide water and sanitation resources to all)•$12 billion on perfume in Europe and the US ($13 billion is estimated to be enough to provide basic health and nutrition to all)
$17 billion on pet food in the US and Europe
$780 billion on military spending worldwide

Friends, when did our cosmetics, perfume, and pet food become more important that caring for the lost? When did
become more important than THIS?

I don't claim to know much of anything, and I'm certainly not perfect, but I wonder...Can God be pleased with an obligatory offering, a small fraction of what we have, when His people are dying from starvation and preventable diseases? Can He?

"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."
-Ezekiel 16:49
Are we much different than Sodom? And what became of Sodom?

"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."
-Proverbs 14:31
Are you showing contempt for your Maker?

Friends, I live on so much more than $1 a day. What if, for a week, I lived the way most of world lives and gave away what I don't spend? I am NOT perfect in this area, but God is continuing to open my eyes and work in my heart. Will you let Him do the same in you?

FAITHdare # 17
Live on under $2/day for one week (or as close to it as possible) and give the money you save to the poor (if you don't know where to contribute, consider giving to THIS ministry...a ministry one of our own is a part of!)

If you are interested in pursuing this topic more, watch THIS...or open your Bible! God has so much to say about wealth and the poor! And if you have something to share with the rest of us, please feel free to do so...just please don't eat me! We are all learning and growing!

Friday, June 18, 2010

FAITHdare #16: Revisited

Selfishness. Greed. Pride.
Just some of the sins that plague me from day to day...sins I long to repent of, to continually bring before the altar. Problem is, those very sins often keep me from giving them up...make any sense? In selfishness, I am consumed by MY life and MY the point that I sometimes forget to even utter "hello" to God. Because of my own ugly pride I often convince myself that my sinful behavior really isn't that bad. Despite the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross, Repentance finds its spot on the back of the shelf...its garment, dust. May God stir in me a renewed sense of justice, that my eyes may be opened to the very things that grieve Him. I think I just might go pull Repentance off the shelf, dust it off, and take it to meet the sins of my heart. What about you?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

FAITHdare #16: Humble Repentance

I pray I will never cease to be amazed and grateful when I think of the cross. When pride creeps in, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking, "I'm not really that bad." Well, to put it lightly, I am. Praise God I have a Savior who has taken away those stains!

Does that mean I no longer need to repent for my sin?

I don't claim to have extensive theological knowledge in this realm. I only know that, in my life, pride tends to nip at the heels of a lack of repentance. How about you?

Do you take your guilt and shame and daily lay it at the foot of the cross? Do you have a habit of repentance?

I admit that I don't. But I need to.

FAITHdare # 16: Humble Repentance
Create a daily habit of repentance.

For those of you who faithfully practice the spiritual discipline of repentance, how do you do it? What does repentance look like in your life? How do you balance attitudes of humble repentance and acceptance of grace? Thanks for sharing!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

FAITHdare #15: Revisited

"I stopped the day I found out..."

I have mentioned in the past that I recently started volunteering at the local crises pregnancy center. Through my time there, God has shattered my mirror. You see, pride is sinfully selfish. It is the human problem. It starts before we even know what it's called...

And it takes a God-sized miracle to replace it with humility.

I have been humbled by my interactions with these beautiful girls that walk through our doors at the center. I was almost brought to tears when a girl told me she stopped smoking the day she found out she was pregnant. Not a big deal? It is when she explained that she NEVER wanted to have kids and sobbed when the doctor told her the news...

She was humbly and unselfishly loving a baby she never wanted in the first place.

I was so proud of her. And I think that kind of pride is okay

Sunday, June 6, 2010

FAITHdare #15: Pride-free Church

"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

One of the greatest gifts God has given His people is the gift of community. One of the most poisonous deterrents to God-centered community, however, is Pride. {Judging eyes and hearts. Long held grudges. Deadly secrets.} Any of those resound? In what way does Pride worm its way between you and faithful accountability with other believers?

Have you ever wondered what Church would be like without Pride? Would our faith communities be teeming with men and women free to expose the heart wounds they have hidden for years? Would we find ourselves in healthier relationships where "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" are not just words? Would we be experiencing the journey of relationship with Jesus in new ways as we shared struggles openly? What would a Pride-free Church look like?

What if we stepped up to the task of building such a Church?
Are YOU allowing yourself to be vulnerable with the brothers and sisters God has placed around you?
Are YOU pleading with God to remove any judgments clouding your view of the Church?
Are YOU seeking out those who have only suffered condemnation from the Church thus far?
Are YOU taking the initiative to resolve conflicts immediately so that bitterness does not flourish?
Are YOU pursuing accountability?

Don't you think it's time to start? What's stopping you? PRIDE?

FAITHdare #15: Pride-free Church
Pray that God would place one initiative for a Pride-free Church on your heart. Take steps toward fulfilling that calling...whether that means finding an accountability partner, contacting someone to pursue reconciliation, inviting an "unchurched" person to church with you...Whatever it is, do it with this in mind:
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

Friday, June 4, 2010

FAITHdare #14: Revisited

What did God teach you about pride and humility this week? Please share!