Called to Compassion

Jesus said in Matthew 7:12 – “Do to others as you’d have them do to you.”

This doesn’t come with a promise – it’s something the Christian is called to do as part of the Christian life.

While there isn’t any kind of adjective to prepend to Gospel (e.g., Social Gospel), there is, within the Gospel itself the call that those already transformed by it should work to transform the lives of others with the power and resources provided by the Holy Spirit.

There’s more reading below, but here’s a 2-mt. video about Compassion and the joy of singing along with others:

 

One might ask, “Why do I need to spend my money to help someone?” You don’t need to – you are called to help in whatever way you can. There are plenty of ways to help others – prayer, helping clean houses, sending a letter, helping with a garage sale, calling to see how they’re doing…just to name a few that cost no money and don’t take much time.

But in the Kingdom, the general rule is that we are to be ready to spend money to help others.  In Ephesians 4:28, the last part of the verse says, “that they may have something to share with those in need.” In the verse, it’s directly speaking to those who have been thieves, and they need to correct their behavior by earning an honest living. The principle of the verse is that those who make money need to do what they can to have at least a little extra for those in need.

Ayn Rand was a progressive thinker in American economics. An ideology that she highly disliked was charity. Giving with no expectation of return was, to her, completely foreign to her concepts of economics. Ayn Rand was very capitalistic, but not at all Christian. What’s interesting about her and others who espouse those views of economics is that even they know what charity is – giving what you’ve worked for with no hope of getting something in return. When it comes to making and saving money, charity makes no sense. It is very counter-secular.

Christians need to approach charity that way – we give because people need help. Of course, those who follow Christ often “get” something for giving – joy from knowing that we’ve given; lessons we can teach our children. In many cases, we get a tax deduction (though you can opt out of that). In some very small way, we do give as Christ gave…selflessly, so that others may live and draw closer to God. But we don’t get, and shouldn’t expect to get, anything physical in return – we give without thinking, out of any extra we have. Many people around the world probably won’t have any issue with giving to poverty-stricken children, but they may take issue with us giving so that those children can grow to be men and women of Christ.

Sponsoring a child thorough Compassion is charity. We give out of our abundance to help transform the lives of others. And we need to do this selflessly.  We often use our money to enjoy the nice things in life – good food, decent house, a car, family, times with friends, travel. It’s very easy to get into that groove so much so that it becomes a rut. At that point, we tend to ignore the darker side of life on earth – the devastating effects of sin.

Not one of us gets to dodge sin and its effects, so no one can claim that someone else has a perfect life. But those of us in the “have” category tend to dodge some of the more visible effects of the fallen world (effects such as lack of food or lack of clothing) by both buying more than what we need and thinking that others can obtain those things if they just work hard enough.

In moments of reflection, maybe often when confronted by images on TV or the internet, we know that others suffer. We may turn a blind eye or deaf ear to those images and sound bytes, feeling uncomfortable.

Compassion International seeks to bridge the gap between the world of abundance and the world of lack. They do this by giving those who have extra the opportunity to give to those who lack the basics of life. Each individual who enjoys the basics can help those in poverty travel over that bridge to wholeness.

$38/month is what it takes from you. After that, beyond that, what you give is free. You can write letters, you can pray, you can send coloring pages, you can send photos. Sure, you can give birthday and Christmas money, but that’s not required. Out of your abundance of a little more than a dollar a day, you can change a life.

As we see in the Bible, people tend to listen to spiritual salvation after their physical lives have been provided for. The Christian doesn’t give SO THAT people will become Christians; we give because Christ gave all before any of us gave any. But the unspiritual need to see that the Christian cares for them, for what they know – they know only the cares of the body, and they’re inundated with unanswered questions about the spiritual life.

People are physical and spiritual. Many times throughout Scripture we see God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the people of God first showing others the power and love of God by demonstrating God’s ability to provide for the physical. After they see that we care about their troubles, they can proceed to trust Christ with answers to their spiritual questions.

So whether we seek to show love to the non-Christian or the Christian, we do it the same way – we provide the basics of both the physical and spiritual lives of the other.

Christ has provided each Christian with some kind of abundance. Are you sharing that abundance, even non-monetary, with others?

I encourage you to consider sponsoring a child through Compassion. You may not have the money – if not, then you’re not called to sponsor at this point, since God hasn’t given you the means. For those Christians who have a spare $1/day, it’s something to consider. Christ is the One who calls us to give selflessly, and Compassion is one trusted way to do that.

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My Word for 2017

We all need something to hang on to, right? It could be a routine, a promise, a plan, a ritual  – we just simply need to have a series of lifelines. That’s what gives us hope, and hope is foundational to living.

I’ve got many lifelines, plenty to hang on to. Plenty to do, lots of plans, loads of responsibilities, numerous good things going on. So why have a word? Because this just seems like the year to do it.

I know “word of the year” has been popular for some years, but I’ve had enough to do without adding something else. This just seems like a good year to do something different.

With all that goes on, I’ve been more into action items and daily life. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy what I’ve been doing. I’m all for action and living and enjoying life. Maybe the Word challenge is a way to encapsulate what I’ve been doing and thinking, rather than being something else to do. Maybe this word of the year for 2017 is actually a metamorphosis for last year’s cocooning activity.

My word for 2017 is: Why?

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Over the past year, it has become clear to me that I need to know more about why I’m doing something. Why do I make the rules that I do for my children? Why do I workout? (or, why don’t I workout?) Why do I respond to this-and-that situation in the way that I do? Why eat healthily (yes, it’s “healthily” instead of “healthy” if you wondered, but it’s not a big deal – just anticipating a question about it)? Why do I dress, or dress our kids, the way that I do? It’s also to remind myself about why I work, why I’m married, why we homeschool, etc. It’s in the reminders that I learn even more.

Not everything can be answered with a Why, but far more is made clear when I ask the question and get down to the motive.

It’s not that I’ve been doing things without knowing why – I have been to the best of my ability. But I’ve reached another point in growing up (something we all need to reach at various times throughout life). I’m at the point of refining what I do and what my reasons are for doing them.

The main principle behind this “Why?” refinement is this: Do I do what I do because I fear God? Or because I fear Man? (Matthew 10:28; Psalm 118:6; Proverbs 29:25; Hebrews 13:6)

Case in point: Have I made society’s dress code equivalent to Scripture’s code? Scripture has limited advice on how we dress, and one main point is to dress modestly. This past weekend we all stayed the night somewhere else. One of our younger ones ended up, for Sunday morning, with a dress shirt and…sweat pants. At least the pants were black – a good power color, and the goes everything. I wanted to be upset – how could he chooseTHAT?! Doesn’t the boy have any sense? He doesn’t have fashion sense (he’s like me), but AT LEAST get some decent pants.

But was his action a lack of will? Or was it lack of skill? It was a lack of skill. So what if he doesn’t have matching clothes? Any onlooker can tell he’s dressed modestly. Are my standards biblical? Or am I afraid that someone would say, “Your boy sure doesn’t know how to dress, does he?” Maybe he doesn’t know how to pick matching clothes, but that is not anywhere near a moral failing.

Why do I do things? Why do I think the things that I do? Is godliness my motivation? Is my impetus Christ-likeness? Or is it making sure that people don’t make fun of me or my family?

I want to delve into my motivations so that I can please Christ, not man.

Why am I writing this post? Am I trying to prove to someone that I can do it (wanting “man’s” praise)? No, I’m not. As any writer really wants to do, I’m writing so that I can share my burdens and encourage you, the reader, on to Christ-likeness.

Happy New Year!

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Thoughtful, Thankful, and Tense

Here’s a 2-mt. video about the destruction in Haiti, after Hurricane Matthew’s October 4th  “visitation.”

Though the hurricane occurred two months ago, things there are still precarious due to reconstruction and disease; devastation is not a singular, one-time event.

More below.

 

We should constantly live in a state of tension. At every moment, there’s the realization that things are bad AND that things are good. As we remain aware of things outside of our personal existence, we are consistently in a state of joy AND a state of grief.
While I’m thankful, joyful, and happy for all that I have and the opportunities I’ve been presented, there’s also something like Hurricane Matthew’s devastation in Haiti that is also going on (and ongoing).
Today, while you (and I) are enjoying abundance, take time to pray for, or even give support to, those who are hurting. http://cintl.us/hearthaiti
You can help in a few ways:

  1. Pray. Pray for hope to shine in Haiti. Jesus has a treasure trove of ways to give people hope.
  2. Give a gift to Compassion to help Haiti (yes, #GivingTuesday is over, but giving is always in season):
    http://www.compassion.com/giving-tuesday.htm?referer=519502&utm_source=compassion&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=haiti_2016
  3. Sponsor a Haitian child:
    http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/child-search-results.htm?cboArea=13%7cCentral+America+and+Caribbean&cboCountry=332%7cHaiti&ageMin=1&ageMax=22

#GivingTuesday #CompassionBloggers

Angeline

There are many times when tragedies turn into greater tragedies. It’s the norm, really.

Please take a couple minutes to watch this video from Compassion International about Angeline. And then continue reading below.

We can become inured to the news: natural disaster W hit the country of X; Y are dead, while another Z are displaced.

This is no different: On October 4th, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti. Almost 900 are dead, 90% of the west coastal homes were destroyed. But the trouble isn’t over.

We can miss the ensuing days and weeks; those weeks after the day that a tragedy grips the world’s attention. It’s easy to miss what follows – initially, we see the news, pray, provide some support, and then move on.

In the case of Hurricane Matthew’s effect on Haiti, the aftermath partially comes in the form of cholera. The need is still there.

The quick slide back into our daily routine is easy to do: we each have our own lives, and for some, if not many, their own life is hard enough on its own without dealing with or helping others.

To add to the noninclusion of others’ tragedies in our daily lives, within a couple weeks there’s another tragedy. In the meantime, we may have had our own emergencies that require our full attention. Before too long we are used to watching events happen, doing what we can immediately, then getting back to our lives and daily duties BEFORE something else happens.

This is why we need others to help us remember. We need other organizations to keep on top of things. They don’t do it to make people feel guilty for forgetting; they do it to help us remember our responsibility. Those of us who have are responsible for helping those who are in need.

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Those of us who are grown-ups need to remember or be reminded of our duty to others. Life can be hard, but that doesn’t absolve us of our responsibilities.

You can help in a few ways:

  1. Pray. Pray for hope to shine in Haiti. Jesus has a treasure trove of ways to give people hope.
  2. Give a gift to Compassion to help those like Angeline: http://www.compassion.com/giving-tuesday.htm?referer=519502&utm_source=compassion&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=haiti_2016
  3. Sponsor a Haitian child:
    http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/child-search-results.htm?cboArea=13%7cCentral+America+and+Caribbean&cboCountry=332%7cHaiti&ageMin=1&ageMax=22

#GivingTuesday #CompassionBloggers

Thank you for staying mindful.

Hope

“If, instead of trusting in God, I trust only in my own intelligence, my own strength, and my own prudence, the means that God has given me to find my way to Him will all fail me. Nothing created is of any ultimate use without hope. To place your trust in visible things is to live in despair.”

— Thomas Merton, “No Man is an Island”

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(here’s more if you want to read more)

“And yet, if I hope in God, I must also make a confident use of the natural aids which, with grace, enable me to come to Him. If He is good, and if my intelligence is His gift, then I must show my trust in His goodness by making use of my intelligence. I must let faith elevate, heal, and transform the light of my mind. If He is merciful, and if my freedom is a gift of  His mercy, I must show my trust in His mercy by making use of my free will. I must let hope and charity purify and strengthen my human liberty and raise me to the glorious autonomy of a son of God.”

Liberty, Hope, Life

I wake up, pretty much, whenever I like. Sometimes it hurts to rise-and-shine, but my wife and I have 10 kids, including a nursing infant, to get going each day, so getting up at a proper time and setting a good example aren’t option! I have a job I have to do, though I, as most Americans, have days I can take off pretty much whenever desired. I get breakfast and coffee (home-roasted, btw!); work out (I won’t say how often); we homeschool; I work from home (which I really like). A hot shower is always available. If something breaks, I have one or more ways to get it fixed.

My family is far from what many would consider rich, but we have all that we need, plus a lot more. We have choices to make each day, though many choices such as food, activities, weekend events, and weekly church are already settled into our weekly routine. And even those “settled” things can be changed as we need.

This is all the fruit of liberty. I won’t go into any specifics about the different aspects of things such as capitalism or about the founding of the U.S.A– I’ll just leave it at liberty.

Most people reading this have liberty. You have an internet connection, a house (and mortgage?), a car (and car payment?), your choice of schooling, your choice of your place of worship. These, and so much more, are the fruits of liberty – in general, people with money have choices. There are rough spots in life for everyone, but with the financial system we have in the USA even those who are strapped for cash can buy a house or car using a loan; we can use a credit card; we can save and invest; we can get a job; we can work from home; we can own a business. You’re correct in thinking that it’s not all easy or easily accessible, but most of you reading this have liberty, and therefore you have choices.

Before they’re sponsored, Compassion children don’t have many, if any, choices. They don’t get to choose where they eat breakfast, or necessarily what and how often they eat and drink. They don’t get to put milk/honey/cream/etc. in coffee or tea (if they even have those).  As odd as it sounds, they don’t get to go into debt, because they don’t have a sound financial system upon which they can draw to even get started. Unless someone from outside reaches out to them, they are stuck.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion, you give them the one thing that underlies pretty much every good thing in life – hope. What gets you to the next day? Hope that things will be just that much better tomorrow; hope that I’ll get it right next week; hope that our kids will do better next month; hope that, with treatment, our loved one will be in remission next year.

Sponsoring a child lets them know that they’ll get good food this month. Next month, maybe a new toothbrush. Your Christmas gift to them may be the only way they get a new school uniform. As they look down the road, through the years, they see that as the support continues, they can break the cycle of poverty. And it gives their parents hope – hope that their child can live a different and better life. It gives the child the hope that he can come back and help his parents. Or that she can come back with her husband to help their village. The fruits of hope are almost boundless.

Sponsoring a child through Compassion means you give up some of the fruits of your labor and liberty. However, giving up some of the fruits of your liberty doesn’t take away your liberty, but rather gives liberty to someone else. And liberty brings hope. And hope brings life.

Vigilance, Diligence, and Banality

I wrote this piece, which was published originally at The Analogies Project

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The Knights of the Silver Shield were tasked with keeping the country safe from the giants who lived in the forest. If a knight was lazy and cowardly, the silver shield would grow dull, so dull that one could not see his reflection in it. But as a knight grew in experience, honour, and valour, two things would happen to the shield: it would grow shinier, and – after a long time of distinguished service – it would develop a golden star in its centre.

On a day when the knights had to go to battle against the giants, the youngest knight, Sir Roland, was eager to go to battle. But someone needed to stay at the castle to guard the gates, and that duty fell to Roland (whose shield was already shining due to his bravery and good deeds). Although downcast, he dutifully stayed. His charge was simple and straightforward: “Guard the gate and let no one enter.” (The castle was so well-fortified that the giants had long ago given up directly attacking it).

The knights went to battle, leaving Roland alone to guard the gate and the servants to take care of the castle.

Soon, one of the injured knights came back, asking to take a break, and offered to guard the gate so that Roland could rest. He was told by Roland to keep to his post on the battlefield, and that Roland alone was given the task to be on guard.

Before too long, an old woman came by, belittling him by saying, “You must be a knight who likes to stay safe, and are lucky to have an excuse not to go to battle.” He held back his anger as she laughed and went on her way.
Not long after, an old man approached and offered Roland a sword. The sword, he claimed, was magical, and if Roland would use it in the battle then the giants would be easily defeated. While enamoured of the idea of gaining victory in battle, Roland knew it would mean leaving his post and abandoning what was entrusted to him and to him alone. Roland had a bad feeling about this elderly man.

By the gate hung a bell. When it was rung, the servants would raise the drawbridge. Roland rang the bell, and the servants immediately closed the drawbridge. The old man instantly revealed himself – he took off his cloak and was transformed into one of the giants. Furious at having been outwitted, he turned and went back into the forest.

Presently, the knights returned from battle and were amazed, as was Roland, to see a golden star glimmering in the middle of his shield. The lord of the castle stated: ”Sir Roland has fought and won the hardest battle of all today.”

There’s a lot of complexity to the world of infosec – ports, hackers, firewalls, rules, protocols, laws, governance, malware, certifications, OS hardening, guarding legacy apps…the list goes on and on. But underneath the lot is something that everyone can do: protect the gates.

Like the everyday, boring, and menial habits of locking your car doors, teaching your kids to look before crossing the street, watching where you step, driving carefully, checking the expiration date on food, and even making a to-do list the night before…each person can play a role in keeping our company’s information safe by diligently keeping passwords safe, pointing out suspicious visitors, not sharing secrets, being aware of what a phishing email looks like or shredding confidential documents when they’re no longer needed. Remaining vigilant in the daily details, and not being distracted by things that take us away from keeping our post, leads to a much safer and more secure company.

CISOs want to be keenly aware of who in their castle is doing what. That way, when your own Sir Rolands do the right thing at the right time for the right reason right you’re ready to honour their valour. The reward doesn’t have to involve gold and stars, but the aware leader keeps up-to-date with the battles being fought and rewards those dutiful and brave warriors according to the company’s culture, the risk avoided, and the individual’s/team’s interests – time off, bonus, recognition.

(As an example: years ago I had been doing my daily duty of making sure backups were being done. One day, out of nowhere, my manager approached me and gave me half of the day off. Why? A database had crashed, and they were able to restore it that morning because I had been diligent with backups. I was happy as could be! Not only was I given a brief furlough from my service, but my reputation would be spread throughout the land! Well, maybe not that grand, but I really was very pleased.)