Archive for January, 2008

Compassion International Trip To Uganda

January 30, 2008

See the post below this one for a bit of my limited experience with Compassion. 15 other folks are about to have an experience of their own.

Compassion has come up with a pretty good idea. They are inviting 15 bloggers to go to Uganda to see the work they’re doing, and blog about the trip. Should be good reading.

Here’s a list of bloggers from their site.

Witness Blog History

For the first time, Compassion is taking 15 Christian bloggers to see the ministry’s work firsthand. Read their blogs and get an insider’s view of Compassion as the bloggers send live updates from:

Carlos Whittaker 
“Ragamuffinsoul” by Carlos Whittaker, innovative worship leader
Read Carlos’ Blog.

Chris Elrod 
“Chris Elrod Properties” by real estate agent Chris Elrod, married to Randy
Read Chris’ Blog.

Doug Van Pelt 
Owner, operator and editor of The Hard Music Magazine
Read Doug’s Blog.

Heather Whittaker 
“Whittaker Woman,” a refreshing blog by Heather Whittaker, Carlos’ wife
Read Heather’s Blog.

Phil Ware 
“The Phil Files,” blog of Phil Ware, president of Heartlight Inc.
Read Phil’s Blog.

Randy Elrod 
“Ethos … a Cultural Watercooler,” blog of Randy Elrod, a Hugh Hewitt “blog of the month” winner
Read Randy’s Blog.

Shaun Groves 
“Shlog,” blog of Shaun Groves, an insightful songwriter and musician
Read Shaun’s Blog.

Sophie 
“BooMama” from Sophie, author of this hilarious women’s blog
Read Sophie’s Blog.

Anne Jackson 
“Flowerdust.net” by Anne Jackson, who is a writer and serves on staff at LifeChurch.tv.
Read Anne’s Blog

Shannon 
 “Rocks in My Dryer” by Shannon, a 30-something stay-at-home mom, featured in Good Housekeeping
Read Shannon’s Blog

David Kuo 
“J-Walking” by David Kuo, Washington editor for Beliefnet.com and former special assistant to President George W. Bush
Read David’s Blog

Tom Emmons 
Compassion’s Internet Marketing Program Manager and sponsor of two Compassion children
Read Tom’s Blog

Spence Smith 
Spence Smith, Artist Relations Manager for Compassion
Read Spence’s Blog

Keely Scott 
“Queen Anne’s Lace,” blog of Keely Scott, photographer
Read Keely’s Blog

Brian Seay 
“A Simple Journey” by Brian Seay, Artist Relations Manager for Compassion
Read Brian’s Blog

Compassion International

January 29, 2008

Something interesting happened a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I came in from picking up the boys from school one day, and there was a message from Compassion International on our answering machine. That was a little odd, we’ve never gotten a message from Compassion before, just letters and emails that sort of thing. What they said kind of caught me off guard a little. Made me think back several years ago when we started with them. 

About 11 years ago, shortly after the birth of our first child, we decided we needed to do something to help someone else.  We decided we needed to help another child and his parents if we could.  I kept thinking about what it would be like to love your child as much as I loved mine, and not be able to give them the things they needed to grow up healthy, or even to grow up at all.   I knew that if  I were in a situation like that, I sure would want someone, anyone, to come alongside me and help.  So we decided to sponsor a child through Compassion. 

We signed up and sent all the paperwork off to them. We let them pick the child and the country he or she was from.  They sent back a package of info with a picture of a skinny boy named Gamaleyan, a 9-year-old from India.  We put his picture and info on the refrigerator and began to sponsor him. We began to pray for him. From time to time we would recieve progress reports from Compassion on how he was doing in school and such, and also letters from Gamaleyan. “Dearest Uncle Seaton and Aunt Kristin, Thank you….” began the letters, and they would end “I am praying for you.  Affectionately yours, Gamaleyan”

So for the next 11 years, every month, Compassion International took out $32 from our bank account and Gamaleyan went to school, had food to eat and clothes to wear.

Back to the present.  The message from Compassion International was to notify us that Gamaleyan was now an adult and had graduated from the program.  He had made it through school, was trained as an electrician and looking for work.  We were no longer his sponsors. 

It was a strange feeling. 

It still is.  

It doesn’t feel like we did very much, a letter every now and then, a little extra money at Christmas so he could have a gift. We surely didn’t do as much as we could have.  Somehow I feel a little guilty, a little embarrassed.  It was so easy.  We didn’t miss the $32 a month. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even think about it most months.  But I’m glad we did it. 

And thankful too. Because he was interceeding on our behalf, and only God knows how much we needed it, still need it. Maybe we were more in need than he was. Sometimes I forget the letter to the to the angel of the church at Laodicea. I may not say that I’m rich, well fed and in need of nothing, but I sure do live that way. I forget to look beneath the veneer of stuff, and remember that I am poor, pitiful, blind and naked and very much in need of the One who stands at the door and knocks.

Now it’s time to do it again, to start over with another child.  Soon we’ll have another picture on the refrigerator, each month $32 will transfer from our bank account to Compassion International and somewhere, I don’t know where yet, a child will begin to go to school, eat every day, have clothes to wear. Maybe she will pray for us.

And maybe a parent, both here and there, can give thanks.

A Little More Substance, If You Please!

January 23, 2008

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted much in the way of insightful commentary on much of anything lately. Well, sorry.

 I have several things in the draft stage, but nothing is final yet. I’m still thinking about stuff. A process that takes me only slightly less time than the previous ice age.

If you’ve got something you want to talk about, by all means write in. I’m game.

Tommy Emmanuel, CGP

January 22, 2008

I play guitar -kind of. Then there are people who really play guitar. Tommy Emmanuel is one of the latter.

Take a couple of minutes and enjoy one of the best finger-style guitar players alive.

“No-One-Cares-For-My-Soul” Friday

January 18, 2008

Here it is again. It’s “No-One-Cares-For-My-Soul” Friday. That day of the week when I ask you the reader, both of you,” How are you really doing?”

You may or may not write in. You may or may not use your real name. I may or may not know what to say, or be able to help.

But at least you’ll know someone is asking.

One Of My Favorite Writers

January 11, 2008

into-the-twilight.jpgI’m working on a couple of posts that are rather heavy, one on AIDS orphans, and I’m in need of a little levity. When that happens I often pick up a book by one of my favorite authors, Patrick F. McManus. Here is a portion of a story from, Into The Twilight, Endlessly Grousing. (If, by some astronomical chance, either Mr. McManus, or his laywers, or his publisher read this, I beg forgiveness instead of permission. I’m just trying to win you more readers!)

Hunting the Wily Avid

No greater bond exists between two male friends than shared ignorance. It’s wonderful. Shared knowledge is fine as far as it goes but one friend invariably knows more about a given topic than the other, thereby creating an intellectual imbalance. Shared ignorance on the other hand provides for perfect equilibrium. It is limitless. There is no end of topics for conversation based on mutual ignorance.

I have several really good pals with whom I share ignorance. We converse for hours about subjects we know nothing about. With most of my friends actual knowledge about a topic would lead to either very short conversations or even arguments that might grow bitter and ultimately destroy friendships.

“Why that’s not true.”
“Who says?”
“I say”
“Let’s look it up in the Guinness Book of World Records. There, see, I’m right, you moron! Ha ha ha ha!”

Arguments like that never arise when two friends enjoy shared ignorance of a topic.

“You know what’s causin’ all these earthquakes? It’s that hole in the ozone.”
“You’re right about that. It’s lettin’ in too much gravity.”
“Gravity, yeah, way too much of it. Gravity keeps buildin’ up and buildin’ up, and pretty soon, you got your earthquakes.”
“You’re right about that ol’ buddy.”

If either friend knew anything at all about holes in ozone, gravity, or earthquakes, he would be under an unrestrained compulsion to reveal this bit of knowledge and the conversation would abruptly end. Furthermore, an element of distrust would enter the relationship, because one of the friends would feel insecure in happily discoursing away on a topic he knows absolutely nothing about. He would be in constant fear of exposing his ignorance to assault by an actual thought or fact.

Eighty-seven percent of all conversations between friends are based on shared ignorance. It’s true. That’s the reason so many friendships last a lifetime. There’s even a procedure for testing a friend’s ignorance on a topic to see if it matches your own. It goes something like this.

“George, you know anything about the national debt?”
“Naw. You?
“Naw. But I’ll tell you what causes it. Too much gravity.”
“You got that right, ol’ buddy.”

After running their little test on shared ignorance, the two friends can then discourse in mutual confidence on a topic about which neither of them knows the slightest thing.

There, I feel a little better.

It’s “No-One-Cares-For-My-Soul” Friday Again

January 11, 2008

Guess what?

It’s “No-One-Cares-For-My-Soul” Friday. That day of the week when I ask you the reader, both of you,” How are you really doing?”

You may or may not write in. You may or may not use your real name. I may or may not know what to say, or be able to help.

But at least you’ll know someone is asking.

Kenya

January 9, 2008

Bill Kinnon at Acheivable Ends has written about the political meltdown in Kenya. Good stuff, go read it. Here’s a bit of it.

I have not been doing a lot of blogging of late as I’ve struggled to understand the lack of response in much of the Christian blogosphere to the crisis in Kenya. It would seem more important to argue over a particular blogger’s new book, who has a better understanding of the Sovereignty of God or the elevation of the latest denomination president – than it would to ask for and offer prayers for weaker brothers and sisters who are in danger of experiencing another Rwanda. God help us all.

I was in Nairobi in 2000, so this is more personal for me than many of the international crisis stories that get drowned out by what Designer’s boots Brittney was wearing on the way to the hospital… this time.

I’ve been in Kibera. It sits in a valley in Nairobi. From the roads above it looks like the valley is carpeted with corregated metal. As you drive in (at least the way we went) you have to pass through the neighborhood where the various Ambassadors of the world have their compounds. High walled fortresses, palatial mansions, new Mercedes everywhere. Then you make the next turn and the smell of burning garbage hits you, and you see kids playing in the trash that covers any open ground that doesn’t have a hut built on it. There’s not a lot of hope there, and it seems to me that it wouldn’t take much to make a riot happen.

I was actually somewhat surprised to see the military in the slums. The government doesn’t (or didn’t at the time) officially acknowledge that the slum exists.  The residents of Kibera are squatters. But since it would cost too much to deal with the 700, 000 poeple who live there “illegally”, the government just acts like the place doesn’t exist. No police, no services of any kind, electricity is siphoned off the surrounding areas, no water,  open trenches running down the dirt streets serve as sewers.

You would think that having seen it first hand, and having been impacted by the experience as I was, that I’d be more mindful and prayerful. I would have thought so too. Shame on me.

Please pray for Kenya. Please pray for me too.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

First Things First

January 8, 2008

TDK Guy In ChairWe are information junkies.

No, let me correct that. We are “News” junkies. 

Witness all the 24 hour news channels- CNN, HNN, Fox News, Fox Business News, MSNBC, BloombergTV, CNBC, C-Span, C-Span2, C-Span3, ESPNews.

Add to that, at a minimum, 4 hours a day of network newscasts (x3), and it comes to around 276 hours of “news” coverage per DAY! And that’s just television news proper. News radio, newspapers, news magazines, the interweb, books about news…. ad nauseum, and just plain nausea. 

Google News says in their banner, “Search and browse 4,500 news sources updated continuously.”

Go on, I dare you, browse 4,500 news sources. See if your eyes and ears don’t start bleeding.

Now that I think about it, maybe we aren’t so much “News” junkies as we are “new” junkies. We are all about whatever is new. If it happened more than a week ago, forget it, literally. Or if it’s more than a year old,  go get the new model.

We’re just as bad in the church. We’re always after something new. Contemporary worship, the latest in audio/visual technology, NPP, post-modernism, always looking for the next trend, this new book, that new teaching.

From the pulpit and the publisher, everyone’s looking for new insight. But the problem is almost no one is trying to live out the stuff we already know.

Here’s a conversation* I had with God the other day-

“Lord, what is your will for me? What should I do?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, should I be on this committee, or that one. Should I teach on this, or that? And while I’m thinking about it, what should I really be doing with my life?”

“Why don’t you start with what I’ve already told you?”

“Like what?”

“How about, ‘Love your wife as I have loved the church’ and, ‘Love one another as I have loved you’? Why don’t you take a little while and work on those before you ask for something else?”

“Um…Yeah, thanks. But what about all this missional thinking, this cultural contextualization?”

“What about it? Don’t you think really loving like I do is missional and relevant in a kind of counter-cultural way?”

“I don’t know…I’d much rather talk in big, general cultural terms about what we should be about as Christians. I mean, you don’t get much of a name doing it your way. Plus it’s really hard,  nearly impossible.”

“Not ‘nearly’ impossible, it is. That’s where I come in.”

I’m going to have to go back and rethink some things in my own life. There are some foundational things I’ve got to put into action better than I’ve been doing. Obviously loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength is first for all of us. The second is one like it.

That can be kind of vague though.  What does that look like, in concrete action, for me?

In part, it looks like me loving my family better.

I’m a little overweight at present, and a whole lot out of shape. Maybe the most loving thing I can do right now for my family is take better care of myself.

A wise man once told me, “If you want to show someone that you love them, listen to them.” Maybe a little less “me” time, and a little more time with them would be in order.

I’ve got a lot more to think about in regard to this.

Do me a favor would you? Wait a few weeks and then someone out there ask me how this “first things first” stuff is going.

*No, I didn’t hear a voice. It’s more of a running dialog thing in my head.

It’s “No-One-Cares-For-My-Soul” Friday!

January 4, 2008

I had a revelation today, an epiphany of sorts. It was as if my eyes had suddenly been opened and I saw into the very nature of things… Not really, but I thought again today how a blog tends to be rather one sided. The Blogger writes, the Reader, well,  reads, and if someone is interested enough they comment. But mostly it’s about the Blogger and his views.

I know, I know another blinding glimpse of the obvious.

The problem is it ends up being more a “what I know” world, where the response is often someone telling you how and why you’re wrong. Or even worse a place where everyone agrees, and you end up “us” and “them”.  No one deviates from the talking points. No one with a difference in theology -no matter how small- is allowed. Kind of a “He-Man Woman Haters Club” for Christians of this or that theological stripe.

No one asks, or cares, how we’re really doing. You know, deep down where we tend to hide the problems and struggles that we all face.

Psalm 142:4 says, “… no one cares for my soul.” There isn’t a verse in scripture that makes me madder than this little phrase. Mainly because it’s true. I know it’s out of context. I understand that this is David in a cave when everyone was against him, and God was the only one who wouldn’t forsake him. And what a wonderful confession on David’s part, and truth about God it is. But it still makes me mad that we don’t care for one another like we should.

One of the things I do is meet with folks. Kind of come along side and (hopefully) encourage them. Mostly I listen and try to hear where the Spirit is at work in their lives. This is known, variously, as Spiritual Direction, spiritual friendship, discipling, shepherding, mentoring, etc. The Celtic Christians had a term of their own that I like best,  Anamchara or “soul friend”.  They felt pretty strongly about the importance of everyone having a soul friend. St. Brigit said that “anyone without a soul friend is like body without a head.”

Some folks are looking for a “life coach”, or someone with “The Answers”. Some folks are in need of counseling, or professional help. Well, I can’t be your counsellor. I’ve probably got more questions than you do. And if you need a life coach, try this guy. But I am a fellow traveller, and I can pray for you. 

So, every Friday I’m going to ask you, the reader (both of you know who you are), “How are you really doing?” If you want to, you can write back. You don’t even have to sign your real name, but you do have to be honest about what’s going on. I will at least listen, and pray for you. Maybe we can keep each other out of the ditches on this journey. Even if no one writes in, you’ll know someone is asking.

In the mean time, if you don’t have a soul friend, or something like one. Go to your pastor, or someone who you know that is mature spiritually, and ask them to help you find one. Every body needs a head.