How would you vote?

your_vote_counts_400_clr-300x300Occasionally I am smacked between the eyes with a brain twisting reality check question…

There seems to be no shortage of Christian political agendas and opinions on how presidents and parties are “destroying Christian America”.  There are major campaigns and emphasis given to how and why Christians should vote a certain way.

As I was reading the bible a while back and pondering persecution and the spread of the gospel in the world, a nagging question started to surface.

Here are the conditions and the question:

If you Knew that a particular president would make Christianity illegal and usher in severe persecution and with that you Knew that that would cause the spread of the gospel like America has never seen before…

Would you vote for that man to be president

Boy Scouts and Christian Principles?

As I watch the news and the debates and the Christians “take a stand” I am deeply saddened by what I hear and see from “Christians.”

The news reported last night that “allowing gays in the boy scouts goes against our Christian principles.”

Signs are being hoisted by our children to “keep scouts 2013-02-06T191902Z_01_DB107_RTRMDNP_3_USA-BOYSCOUTS-GAYS-007.rmorally straight.”

Other signs read,

“Don’t invite sin into the camp,”



“A homosexual boy scout leader is like asking the fox to guard the chickens.” 

Again I am coming to the conclusion that we in the North American church are more like the Pharisees than Jesus. And we are building more walls to reaching people with the Love of Jesus than we are bridges.  At this point I know I just stepped in a big mess.  But here I go…

Why is it that homosexuality seems to be the go to “sin?”  What about lying? Cheating? Adultery? Heterosexual porn addiction? Gluttony?  We do not mind if you are gay as long as you are not openly gay.  We do not mind if you are a porn addict as long as we don’t know about it.  Are we not “inviting sin in the camp” with every leader who we invite in and every child we invite in.  Ask every leader one question: “Are you free from all sin and do you live daily without sin in your life”?  If they cannot answer with perfect sinlessness we are inviting sin into the camp.  Where do we draw the line?

This post is in no way a statement of being for or against homosexuality. It is instead a statement of being like Christ and what we teach our children.  What I see our children learning here is how to categorize like the pharisees and avoid at all costs those who don’t fit our personal values.

Is it a Christian principle to segregate ourselves over behaviors that don’t match our beliefs?

“Christian” principles are the principles of Christ.  So let’s look for a moment at Jesus.

Luke 15:1-2 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Unknown-2Jesus didn’t just welcome sinners but even ate with them.  In fact this accusation is the context for Jesus telling  3 parables… Parable of the Lost Sheep (leave the 99 and go for the 1)… Parable of the precious coin (search diligently for what is precious to the heart of God… Parable of the prodigal son (comparison between heart of God, heart of pharisee)

In Matthew 9, Jesus and his disciples are found eating in the home of Matthew along with his disreputable friends.  And again the Pharisees are bothered because he was eating with them and Jesus response is…

“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Here Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 and puts showing mercy in the context of eating with sinners and tax collectors.

In Matthew 11:19 Jesus is accused of being a drunkard and a glutton and a friend of sinners.

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Now let’s talk “Christ”ian principles and what we are teaching our children?

  • Principles of the Pharisee… focus on the sin
  • Principles of Christ… focus on loving people in spite of sin.

Oh… a couple more questions: “is Boy Scouts of America a Christian organization?”

Can a Witch be a scout master?

The Church today – Christlike or Phariseelike?

I have been doing a great deal of thinking recently about the church in America and its reality.  Not what we say it is, not what we want it to be, but what it really is.  If we Unknown-2were to strip away the mask, and the cute phrases, and the nice sounding mission statements and looked at the reality of what is left what would we find.

Now, mind you I am not naive enough to say this is everyone everywhere and yes I am making some generalizations.  I am very well aware that there are MANY great Christians and “churches” that live it well.

However, I am coming to the conclusion that the “church” and “Christianity” in North America looks far more like a movement of Pharisees than it does a movement of “littlepharisee Christ’s” spreading across our cities.  To be a “holy” people is not to be a “holier than thou” people but to be a people who look like Jesus, act like Jesus, love like Jesus, serve like Jesus, go where Jesus went, and be Christ-like to the world around us not just to those within our faith family and for those who are like us.

The Pharisees were all about keeping the rules and staying away from certain groups of people.

Jesus was known as a friend of sinners and came eating and drinking with sinners and tax collectors.

Pharisees made laws to protect the laws.

Jesus was known for “breaking the laws” for the sake of loving the world around him.  Jesus loved and accepted people in spite of their behavior.

Why is it when we talk about “Holiness” do we automatically go to “not sinning” instead of being like Jesus.  If we are going to be like Jesus don’t we automatically have to look at who we are friends with.  Our church culture has used words like “sanctification” and “Holiness” to separate us from the world around us and therefore make us more like Pharisees than like Jesus.  “Sanctification” and “Holiness” should be calls to enter relationships with the very people who need to see the Love of Jesus not the judgement, condemnation and laws of the Pharisees.

I would love your feedback to this question…

When you look at the church (generally speaking – from your perspective and connections) how would your rate the church on the scale of 1-10… 

(1) Looks like Jesus………………………………………………..Look like Pharisee (10)

(Non Judging, Friend of Sinners) …………………. (Separateness, judgment)

(Relational) ……………………………………………………………………… (Legal)

pharisee Unknown-2

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Preventing the tragic loss of children’s lives – A perspective on Sandy Hook school shooting

If you knew that you could have prevented the Sandy Hook shooting and saved 20 children’s lives would you have done it?

If you knew that $1,000.00 would have prevented the tragedy and saved 20 kids lives would you have found a way to give?

As my thoughts have been consumed with the CT tragedy and the grief stricken families I have been flooded with different emotions and overwhelmed by global realities.

I have been reminded again about how controlled our responses are by media. And at the same time how stuck in the sand our heads are about the realities of death and tragedy, and the loss of life in our world.

If 20 jumbo jets filled with children crashed today that would make the news and we would be filled with emotion and grief. Our politicians would be talking about airline regulations and prevention strategies. But because this many children didn’t die in a “tragic media worthy” way it goes virtually unnoticed that this many children die EVERY DAY due to something we can prevent… WATER!

We say we care about children and the loss of an innocent life and then we turn our head when the call to action comes and we change the channel… But when the “TRAGIC” happens we watch the horrific news all day.


I am in no way minimizing the tragedy, the grief or the real suffering that is associated with the CT shooting. But instead of minimizing it I am trying to bring reality to the real grief of parents every 15 seconds. What makes a grieving non televised mother any different than one that was televised? To me it is a tragedy when a parent watches their child die from a water related illness. And probably the greatest tragedy of all is to know we could have prevented it and done nothing.

Part of what keeps our head in the sand is the magnitude of the tragedy. It is so big I can’t solve it and I feel overwhelmed by it so I ignore it. I’ve seen the pics, I’ve heard the story and honestly those kids are far enough away I don’t have to deal with it… But if those kids were Americans, or my neighbors I might feel more connected.

We react and respond to things that “hit closer to home”. Unfortunately this does not match our words to the value of life. Somehow the value goes up based on geography.

I’m not asking for everyone to solve the problem but for everyone to do something. Every $50 = water for life for a child.

So now let me ask the question again… If you knew you could prevent the tragic loss of 20 children’s lives would you?

What about the gift of life giving water for each member of your family?

What about one less Christmas gift for us and one more Christmas gift for a child who would simply love some water for Christmas.

What about honoring the lives of those children in CT by being a part of preventing the loss of more lives.

Every day I run I am reminded of these precious lives and I run harder for them.

I would love to help 20 more children in honor of the 20 children in CT. Who will help me?

“All For One and One for All”

Up until my trip to Africa my view of child sponsorship was very limited. I saw a child and failed to see that child’s community. Oh I talked about community and connecting the child, but everything was focused on “all for one.” It was all about that child. What I didn’t realize was how World Vision’s model empowers and maximizes that “one for all.”

Let me explain. When we sponsor a child we promise that “one” an education, food to eat, medical provision, Aids awareness, clean water etc. however when you stop and realize that some of these areas don’t have a school, or clinic, or clean water… Giving a child all the money in the world can’t fulfill the promises. So the genius of the model works like this.

School in World Vision ADP (Area Development Project)

No school… Pool money from each sponsored child in a village and build a school in the village. Outcome… Every sponsored child can now attend school. However so can every unsponsored child in the village…

“All for one” just became “one for all.”

The promise is fulfilled and multiplied to others.

Fresh onions from family farm – because of irrigation project

Lack food... We tend to think that when we sponsor a child money is used to buy that child a bag of rice or a meal. But check this out. We promise that that child will eat as will all the sponsored children in a village. So if we pool resources from each sponsored child we could build irrigation canals and every family can have an onion farm providing resources to feed not just their sponsored child but the whole family.

Hauling water from a WV water source

Gathering water from a WV water source (looks like bad water but all water is boiled from this source)

Lack water… Many children travel many miles a day to collect water. One child in this village cannot attend school because she travels 3 times per day approximately 7 miles per trip to collect water for her family. When water is provided in the village everybody benefits. Children can go to school because their day is not consumed traveling for water.

I think you get the idea… The promises are true… Your sponsored child gets an education, food, clean water, etc but that sponsorship impacts so many more at the same time.

Petro, My sponsored child from Tanzania

WV staff member translating a sponsor’s letter

So what is the difference between my sponsored child and the other children? First and probably most importantly, your sponsored child has a relationship with you. That relationship is personal and the power of that relationship is profound (see previous blog)! The value of this relationship alone is FAR greater than $35 per month. I cannot stress the importance of this relationship enough!

WV staff with file for a sponsored child

The other difference is the relational contact between World Vision staff and your child. Your child receives monthly contact and check ups by staff members in addition to personal visits every time you write your child. These children become ambassadors for their village painting a picture of what is happening in the village with all the children.

WV Core Values on wall at ADP field office

The goal of world vision is to develop a community in such a way that it is self sustaining with all the promises available for ALL the children. Your sponsorship of one impacts all.

We truly are


If you have not sponsored a child and would like to click here. This is our sponsorship page for our Kilimanjaro Team World Vision climb. When you sponsor a child you can simply put my name as “Athlete” to complete the form.

Bee hives from WV honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project

Honey from WV aided honey project


Irrigation Canal from river

Family Onion Farm

Sampling an onion from a family farm

Maasai family Benefitting from child sponsorship

“Dream Big Dreams” – Sponsors really do matter

Darrell and Petro

Have you ever wondered what difference child sponsorships makes in a kids life.  We hear and I have taught that when you sponsor a child you provide food, shelter,

Petro’s soccer ball has notes from sponsor

education, medical needs, and reduce their vulnerability to human exploitation.  That is all true and I will blog more about that later, but there is so much more.  Having just returned from Tanzania where I was privileged to meet Petro my sponsored child I am now even more convinced that sponsorship matters.  Having seen first hand and now having met Moses, I am all the more passionate about how we as sponsors can come alongside a child and his family and make difference that can change a world.

Let me introduce you to some folks…

Petro loves to play soccer

Here is Petro.  He loves “Football” (soccer).  He is 8 and he took his first ride outside his village in a bus 10 hours to meet me.  His Mom and Aunts are so excited about me being a part of their life.  Petro has a great future.

Showing Eniot pictures of her sponsors family

She loved blowing bubbles

Here is Eniot.  She is 11 and loves life and God.  She memorize bible verses and “tries to imitate them.”  Her favorite passage is Psalm 125.  She told me that she loves that Psalm because God is like a mountain and if you believe in him you do not need to fear.  She has led her family to Christ.  My brother is now her sponsor and will be a part of her story and future.

Moses and Becky talking outside of school

But the person I want to tell you about is Moses.  Moses was a sponsored child.  He now holds multiple degrees and has taught at Cornell and has spent time with Henri Nowen.  He is now back in Tanzania working with World Vision amongst his people group and is changing his country.  We were privileged to sit with Moses and have dinner and ask tough questions about Sponsorship.  Here are a couple things we learned that have solidified in me the value and importance of relational sponsorship and your letters.

Dream Big Dreams – you can be whatever you want to be

Moses telling us about the value of this water source for this Maasai village

Moses still caries with him as an adult the letters from his sponsor.  They are letters that not only helped him as a child growing up, but helped him get through multiple degrees as an adult.  He told us that his sponsor wrote him and told him he could be whatever he wanted to be.  As a child growing up in a Maasai tribe all he could see was becoming a herdsman and taking care of goats and cows.  But that letter planted something in him that took root later in life.  As he was going through his degrees and at different times in his life he would pull out those letters and they were a source of encouragement and hope for him.  He now holds multiple degrees and has taught at Cornell.  He now is a Godly professional back in Tanzania working to make a practical difference in his country.

Sponsorship saved my brothers life

Moses and team

Moses also told us that when he was sponsored it saved his brothers life.  I am not sure the full details of his brothers physical needs but when Moses was sponsored it engaged the family and World Vision and the community development that provided for his medical needs and he is alive today because of it.

What is the value of a relational sponsor?

John with his sponsored child’s family at their home

building relationship with Petro

I don’t think we can put a price tag on the value of a sponsor who builds a relationship with a child.  Let me encourage you as a sponsor to do more than simply send in $35.00 a month.  Write letters to your child.  Encourage him or her to dream big dreams. Be a positive influence in that child’s life and be a part of giving them hope and a future.

A great kid with a great laugh

If you are not sponsoring a child and would like to be a part of changing a child’s life forever click here.