Friday, February 11, 2011

Rebelutionary Action Project: Voices of the Innocent

Hello all!

One would think that an Administrator and Moderator on a Forum that exists to promote and facilitate collaboration in "doing hard things" and "rebelling against low expectations" would be aware of all the projects being hatched on said Forum. Well, that is not necessarily true. As many of you may know, Hannah and I both serve on the leadership for of the Rebelution Forum and for some inexplicable reason or another, we've entirely missed out on a great action project hatched on the Forum.

The project is called "Voices of the Innocent" and its purpose is stated in the "about me" page of the projects blog.

Thanks for stopping by! Your interest is very encouraging! "Voices of the Innocent" was founded by 2 best friends (Emily and Olivia) who both expressed anger over the increasingly accepted practice of abortion. We wanted to speak out against it, but didn't know how. Then, God blessed us with an idea, and we are asking for your help to make our idea into a reality. Our mission is to have people from all around America send letters protesting abortion to their local newspapers. We want everyone involved to to send the letters out on the same day (2/14/2011) so that newspapers around the nation will receive pro-life letters all at once! We're praying that God will lead at least 200 participants to join us in our fight against the murder of the innocent. We hope you are one of those participants. Please feel free to contact us by commenting or emailing us @ God bless!

This is a project we at Rebelutionary Musings definitely want to support. Letter writing is something that virtually all people can do and it can be a very effective avenue through which to advocate for values we hold dear. It's also a great way to learn to be maximally effective in our advocacy.

As a special note to parents...encouraging your children to take part in this project and others of the same nature is an excellent way to encourage them to "do hard things" and step outside their comfort zones. :-)

If you don't feel like you know where to start don't worry! Olivia and Emily have very thoughtfully provided Example Letters and Letter Guidelines for us.

Be sure to check out the Voices of the Innocent blog and their Facebook page. If you would like to hop on board with this project please pop them an email letting them know of your support. It's always an encouragement to know people are standing firmly with you!

I know we are a little late in bringing this project to your attention (understatement) but please don't worry about writing long letters. If time is not abundant something short and to the point will more than suffice. It is the content and spirit of the letters that will impact readers...not their length or eloquence!

God bless!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Addisyn Block: sacrificing for children in Africa

Hello all,

For today's post I would like to share the story of Addisyn Block, a 15 year girl from right here in my home county (Hunt) featured in my home-towns newspaper. I will copy large portions of the article but not all of it, so be sure to check the story out on the Greenville Herald Banner's website.

February 7, 2011
A story of sacrifice
Herald-Banner Staff

CADDO MILLS — Feb. 3 marked the 100th day that 15-year-old Block has given up her school lunch money, approximately $2 a day, to Lifesong for Orphans, which in turn gives it to the Adami Tulu preschool in Ziway, Ethiopia. Instead of using that money to purchase lunch, she brings soup — the same kind of soup that the children attending the African preschool eat every day.

Why Ethiopia? Because Block recently paid a visit to Ziway in March, along with her mother, Amy, to bring home Block’s baby sister, Havyn.

Block has eight siblings. Travis, Keegan and Kal are her siblings, related by blood, and Mya, Aliegha, Kaden, Carson and, of course, Havyn are her adoptive siblings.

Her first adoptive sibling was brought home from Guatemala in 2004, when Block was 9 years old.

Due in part to the family’s adoptions, Block has had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala, where she worked at Eagles Nest Orphanage, and Ethiopia, where she spent a day with missionaries Gary and Peggy Ifft at the Adami Tulu Preschool.

“I’m pretty sure I left a piece of my heart there,” said Block. “I have a quote hanging on my bedroom wall that reads ‘When you walk with God, you always reach your destination,’ and I had reached mine.”

Being at the preschool that day made Block realize how much she took for granted.

“I couldn’t open my closet door and see 12 pairs of shoes without thinking about those with none,” said Block. “I couldn’t go to the mall with friends and spend $15 on yet another T-shirt knowing that that $15 would have fed five children at the preschool for a month. I couldn’t just be a regular American teenage girl anymore. I was different. And different, I realized, is a good thing.”

Block’s forfeiture alone has yielded $200 to the cause, but it doesn’t stop there. Through her efforts, people have picked up on the idea via her family’s blog and Facebook page. Now, more than 200 people have committed to take part in Block’s sacrifice in some way. Some forfeited their lunch money on Feb. 3, Block’s 100-day anniversary, with all money going to Lifesong for Orphans to help the children Block fell in love with in Ethiopia. Many, however, are donating a good deal more than just their lunch money.

“A mere $3 feeds a child at the preschool for one month,” said Amy Block, Addisyn’s very proud mother. “It may just be one meal, but often times it’s their only meal of the day.

In addition to this $2 a day sacrifice, Addisyn has also raised money to help buy the preschool children’s uniforms and backpacks. She did this by forfeiting birthday and Christmas presents, raffling off a Nintendo Wii and hosting luncheons at Paradise Baptist Church in Caddo Mills, where they served the same African soup Block has been eating for the past 100 days, including bad weather days.

“What to some may seem a small gift, God sees the heart behind her efforts,” said Amy. “He sees a child willing to give up the little she has for others who have nothing. Through a simple bowl of soup God has taught Addisyn so many lessons in sacrifice and integrity.”

Addisyn's story reminds me of the well known passage in Luke 16:10: "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."

May we all be as faithful in stewarding the opportunities and resources given to us as Addisyn!

If you have been encouraged by Addisyn's story I would encourage you to visit her families blog here and also the 'One Day - One Lunch Project' on Facebook (if you are part of the Facebook world). You can also visit the organization the Block's have worked with, Lifesong for Orphans, here.

God bless!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kevin Bales on fighting modern slavery: the power of small things

Hello all,

For today's post I have grabbed a post from my own blog (Mark here). No...I'm not totally self-absorbed or self-aggrandizing. I just feel really passionately about the issue of slavery and would like to pass on to you valuable information I found on the subject.

If you like it, feel free to leave a comment here or there letting me know. :-P

Hello all!

Ever wondered how to fight slavery? Ever wondered what young people and/or people with limited resources can do to help? If you have asked yourself these questions then I highly recommend the following video to you. It won't answer all your questions probably, but it will help set you on the path to finding your own answers.

Watching this video, I was flabbergasted by the impact that "small things" can have on a global level. I've always known intellectually that small things could make a big difference but the projected impact that small things could have in fighting slavery simply shocked and convicted me. I was convicted because I how much impact I have been wasting. Take for instance my love of Starbucks Caramel Macchiato's...

I am a frequent patron of the local Starbucks, frequent enough that most of the regular employee's know me by name and all of them know my regular order; a Grande Caramel Macchiato. Nothing can beat a Caramel Macchiato for bit of relaxation and awesomeness. But, at what cost do I indulge in this treat?

Well, suppose I have 1.5 Caramel Macchiato's a week (I try to limit my intake). They've raised the price this year from $4.28 to $4.60 for a GCM, so if I have 1.5 a week that = a total of $6.90. Multiply that by 52 and you get $358.80 a year spent on GCM's. If I get 2 GCM's a week, by no means something unheard of, that total number jumps to $478.40 a year spent on Grande Caramel Macchiato's.

How much does it cost to free a slave? In many parts of the world...$400...for sustainable freedom according to Kevin Bales.

Wow. I am both angry with myself by those calculations and joyfully amazed at the impact I can have!

Now tell me. What does it say of a person who refuses to do small things for God's glory?

God bless and veritas supra omnis!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pressing On Toward the Goal: How Much Time?

Hello all!

Remember us? No? I don't blame you. :-P

At any rate, we've been on an extended hiatus due to numerous demands on our time and have badly missed blogging. But, this time, we are for real going to be blogging regularly again! No seriously...we've talked about it and have a "plan". ;-)

On a more serious note, let me jump with both feet into this week’s excellent line up of Rebelutionary posts!

The first of the week comes from the blog of Rebelutionary leader, Daniel Osborne, by way of his blog 'Pressing On Towards the Goal'. I would like to take a few lines to commend Daniel for his passionate desire and efforts to everyday live out the admonition of Romans 12:1-2, which says:

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I (Mark) am honored to work alongside Daniel on the Rebelution Forum where he serves as an Administrator. He frequently offers sober-minded yet grace-filled insights on His blog and this is not the first time his posts have been featured here on Rebelutionary Musings. Don't let his sober minded posts fool you though. He's a notorious prankster. ;-)

(sorry, Daniel)

His latest post poses challenging questions and reflections on time, a matter the Bible speaks to frequently and with great clarity.

I am copying his post here, but if you are blessed by and/or appreciative his post I would encourage you to leave a comment on his blog by following this link.

Without further ado...How Much Time?

Do you ever wonder how much time you have on earth? Do you dream of things you want to do before that point? Do you actually pursue those things or are they in the distant future?

I was reminded once again today of the need to make the most of my time. I spent a few hours this afternoon at the hospital visiting a friend who was in a coma for over a month... and then unresponsive for another couple months and is just now starting to be responsive. It was a simple skateboarding accident. All at once, his life was changed... his mouth has not uttered a word for 4 months. He was one of the most energetic people I know. Things have changed. Yet, God is still in control.

I sat there on the hospital bed reading Psalm 27 to him and talking to him about Joshua and God's promise to always be with us. It was hard not knowing if he could even understand what I was saying. I think he could understand... but is so hard when there is no response. It was good to be able to pray with his mom over him... but so hard to see him in that state. I'm thankful that we have an all-wise God who has never once failed in doing what is best.

It did cause me to think about the different things I want to accomplish in life... and what I am doing now to prepare myself to accomplish them. I'm talking specifically about the areas in which we can make a difference for the sake of Christ for eternity. How am I living out the reality of the gospel in my normal everyday life? How is Christ and His call to forsake all and follow Him changing me? These are all questions that I ought to ask myself continually.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (Eph. 5:16)

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. (Col. 4:5)

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace. (Ecc. 3:1-8)

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

God, I ask that You show me my end... remind me of how short my life is, so that I would spend my time wisely. Remind me of the death I must die daily [to sin and my own desires] and of the life that I must live to the fullest in Christ. You have made it clear that there are times for just about everything. Please make Your will clear... show me the things that it is time for. Fix my heart on You and grant courage to make the most of the time that You have given me. Let me not live life without impacting souls for Your glory. Rid me of myself so that I see the opportunities that You are continually placing in my path. Conform my desires to Yours. Make me more like Christ. I want a full life for Your glory. I am Your tool... not one that you need... but one that You have chosen. Please use me as You see fit.

Many thanks to Daniel for his challenging post!

God bless!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Redefining Femininity: The Power of a Gentle Answer

Hello all,

Rebeka Fry of the 'Redefining Femininity' blog has given us a great post titled "The Power of a Gentle Answer". I love how she weaves the power and affect of the Gospel through her examination of this very practical issue. In particular, I think she makes an important point when she points out that in the process of learning to give gentle answers we rid ourselves of the tyranny of our emotions. This is not to say all emotions are wrong, just that when they control us they are tyrannical. It brings Matthew 11:28-30 to mind.

So as to not steal all her thunder, allow me to just post selected portions of Rebeka's post. If you are blessed by what you read, and I'm sure you will be, please read the rest at 'Redefining Femininity'.

"A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger."
~ Proverbs 15:1 ~

When someone speaks rudely or responds in an insensitive tone towards us, our human inclination is to respond in an equally critical manner. After all, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, right? We have every reason to respond harshly! But, once again, Jesus raises the bar in how our response should be.

"You have heard that it was said,
'You shall love your neighbor
and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, love your enemies,
bless those who curse you,
do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who spitefully use you
and persecute you."
~ Matthew 5:43-44 ~

This is probably one of the hardest commandments to live out in day-to-day life. There probably isn't anything less challenging to our flesh than to live out this principle of selfless and unconditional love to others. To bite our tongue, take a deep breath, and pray for the other person who seemingly wronged us.

"To exude the nature of Christ in the face of
rudeness, insensitivity, or cruelty is a
supernatural ability that His Spirit gives,
not something that we can muster up
in our own strength."
~ Leslie Ludy ~

I love reading through stories about persecuted Christians throughout the centuries. The primary thing that never ceases to amaze me is the longsuffering and patience of those who were tortured for Christ. Betsy ten Boom was able to see her brutal prison guards with the eyes of love, not hatred. Sabina Wurmbrand was able to sincerely love the pastor who betrayed her husband, which cost him several years of torture and imprisonment. Elisabeth Elliot did not become bitter towards her husband's killers; instead, she went back to them and ministered to the Auca tribe. If these women could receive the grace needed to forgive and bless even the most cruelest of men, we certainly can ask the Lord to help us overlook the much smaller offenses that occur every day.

The woman who is hidden in Christ rests in His security and is not easily angered. She does not fly off the handle. She is not a slave to her emotions. She is not concerned about her right to be treated a certain way. She sets her sights on the eternal value of the souls around her, not her own emotional tide.

Many thanks to Rebeka for her excellent reminder!

God bless!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Joel Brooks: Help Even the Unrighteous Poor

Hello all,

All of us are probably more than a little familiar with verses such as Deuteronomy 15:7-8:

"If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be."

The Biblical command to care for the poor, the needy, the least among us is not something we can merely side step. Most of us recognize this and are happy to help the poor, though we may struggle to fulfill this command consistently. However, perhaps if we are honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that we want something in exchange for our service. Perhaps we desire recognition for our good deeds as did the Pharisees (Luke 18:9-17) or we want those we help to show proper recognition and thankfulness for our charity.

Joel Brooks explores this attitude in his recent post 'Help Even the Unrighteous Poor'. A few excerpts for your benefit...

My office is located in one of the poorer areas in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Even as I am writing this, outside my window I can see two prostitutes standing across the street outside a hotel and a homeless man pushing a grocery cart full of cans. Confronted with scenes like this on a daily basis has made me think a lot about Jesus’ call to serve the least of these. What should this look like in my life? Over the years, I have far more failures than successes when it comes reaching out to these people.

But any person who has actually spent time serving the poor realizes that it is not for the faint of heart. I have seen many passionate, bright-eyed Christians with a “heart for the poor” burn out in a matter of months or even weeks. This happens because the poor they serve often do not respond in the way they expect. As these generous people give of their time and money, they assume that the poor people they help will be appreciative and kind. Perhaps going into this they pictured a homeless man shedding tears of gratitude for the new coat and warm sandwich he received. Instead they receive not so much as a “thank you” or “God bless you.” Maybe they will even be criticized for the color of the coat or the sogginess of the sandwich. They quickly find out that some beggars can be choosers—and mean ones at that!

I experienced this firsthand recently when a homeless lady approached me and asked for money. I said that I’d buy her a meal instead. She loudly berated me in front of onlookers for this perceived insult until finally agreeing to let me buy the meal. As I walked in to the restaurant, she barked after me, “Combo number six with Dr. Pepper!” When I returned with her food, she got angry with me for bringing her the wrong dipping sauce. All in all, it was not a pleasant experience. I certainly didn’t leave with that “feel-good feeling” from helping the poor.

I have found that helping the unrighteous poor is perhaps also the best way to remind myself of the gospel by which I am saved. I did not receive mercy because I deserved it. Jesus Christ did not give his life for me because I was a good person. No, I was his enemy and full of sin when he died for me. I never did and never will earn his grace. Grace is always unmerited. So when I see how the unrighteous poor respond with bitterness to my acts of kindness, I am reminded of my own spiritual condition. Even now, I often fail to thank God for his continuous and abundant grace towards me. Thank God for the gospel by which I am being saved!

We must see our service to the poor through this gospel lens. Actually, our ability to help those who don’t deserve it is an indicator as to whether or not we have actually received the mercy and grace of God ourselves. As Jesus says in Luke 6:32-33 and 35-36:

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. . . . But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and you reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

You can read the rest of Mr. Brooks excellent post here. Many thanks to him for sharing his insight!

God bless!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tim Challies: The Death of the Grown-Up

Hey all,

Tim Challies kindly shares a thorough review (linked below) of Diana West's new book "The Death of the Grown-Up". I purchased the book immediately after reading his review and am happy that it arrived in the mail today. :-)

The Death of the Grown-Up book review by Tim Challies

Reading the review, it becomes abundantly clear that the book deals much with issues near and dear to the hearts of Rebelutionaries. I think though, that the urgency and life giving importance of the ideas, challenges and theology that sparked the movement that is the Rebelution can be overlooked in our familiarity with them. Familiarity often breeds slavishness, and this is something I see all too painfully in my own life on a daily basis. I pray this would not be so with us, but do not take for granted that it is not.

I am looking forward to reading Diana West's excellent sounding book, and hope that it will serve to remind me of the challenges my generation faces, and that my resolve and desire to Do Hard Thing for the glory of God will be strengthened and deepened!

God bless!