Friday, December 21, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Using Brian McLaren's new book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope as a guide in our Advent season, we examined the lectionary reading in Romans 15 about living in harmony with each other and ourselves.
Here is a portion of what I said, while also quoting McLaren:
In order to give peace a chance, as John Lennon sang, we need to consider how our desires affect our decisions. Our problems aren't corporations, per say, and they are not about businesses that help sustain our economy. Our problem is a spiritual ideology of prosperity that lives for profit without a concern for a common ecological good, the common social good, and the ultimate good under the gaze of our Creator. Our desire for prosperity seems to be more concerned about progress through rapid growth, serenity through possession and consumption, salvation through competition, and freedom to prosper through a system of unaccountability.
So then I ask you, how can we be peacemakers?
We can start by examining that which we desire. By examining and refocusing our motivations for that which we value, we can recognize how peace and joy have eluded us. Having a nice suit or a workable computer isn't a bad thing—having stuff we don't need is. Having things that last and don't need replacing is a good thing—buying new things we don't need every month is. And, buying things that we don't need while ignoring the needs of others, is how our system of prosperity blinds us to the needs of others. May we not find ourselves saying something such as, “I'd give to charity or the homeless shelter if only I didn't need to buy that new thousand-dollar handbag or make yet another mortgage payment on my million-dollar bungalow that I so disparately “need” for my family of three.”
You can hear the sermon on our podcasting page here.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
As consumers get younger and younger and college freshmen are given credit cards, it is surprising that learning to manage debt isn't a mandatory class taught from junior high up through college. The sad reality is that many of us have gotten so far over our heads in debt, that we can't think of a way out of it minus the temptation to declare bankruptcy. We think by starting over again, we'll learn to be more frugal. Instead, we begin the process all over again.
I would think churches across America would have classes and studies on debt management. Some do but many don't. I would like for our church to offer classes and instruction in debt management. Over the next few months (and perhaps longer), I'll be posting various tips on finances, managing debt, and learning to live within one's means.
To start this thread of posts, let me direct you here to how a person climbed out of his huge $35,000 debt. It's a fascinating story and can be a lesson for us all.