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.”

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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,”

PROTESTERS AGAINST JAMES DALE

and

“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

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.

PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME!

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?

http://support.worldvision.org/goto/darrell

“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.

Making a list and checking it only twice… NO WAY!

I am continuing to discover how out of control I am. I have probably checked my luggage for the hundredth time. Guess what, my camera is still where I put it and I still can’t be sure whether I am missing anything or not. However, even as I write this I am thinking, “where exactly did I put my camera”. I am a mess! So why do I continue to look in my bags? Why do I wonder about where things are? Am I just a freak or is it maybe simply nervous energy? I’m going to go with the nervous energy.

As I sit in Los Angeles tonight awaiting our 9:45 departure in the morning, besides checking bags, I am spending time thanking God for all the people in my life who have been a part of this journey. Some have been encourages, some prayer warriorers, some have forever changed a child’s life through sponsorship, some have helped with financial support, and some have picked up the baton and have helped others sponsor children.

My personal goal was 100 children. The final numbers are not in and I won’t know for sure until I return, but if we are not over the goal we are very close. Think about that. There are at least 100 real children’s lives that will be forever changed. They have a new hope and a future that they would not have had had it not been for you! THANK YOU! This is the reason we are climbing this mountain, for the kids.

Put yourself in the position of a parent of one of these children for a moment. How do you feel about those who sponsored your son or daughter? What would you like to say to that sponsor? Now let those word and feelings of gratitude resonate within you because there are mothers and fathers tonight who are filled with gratitude for YOU!

Well, looks like my bags are right where I left them. I wonder if anybody took anything out while I was writing? Maybe I should check? Now where did I put my camera? See you in a couple of weeks.

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A Great Cloud Of Witnesses

Yesterday I made the statement, in my preparations I have discovered how valuable others are who have journeyed before us.  It has been absolutely amazing to me the people I have met as I have begun this journey toward “the roof of Africa”.

I have had divine encounters on airplanes with people like, Lisa Roberts who taught me to give everyone an opportunity to change a life and thanked me for her new “son” that she sponsored at 20,000 feet, and Kendra Gibson-Gegelman and her family who inspired me to share my story and to keep my eyes open for divine encounters in strange places.

On Southwest Airlines you will meet people like Dr. Ben Bobrow who is an amazing medical professional who also climbs mountains.  He not only shared his great wisdom with me on the airplane but our families have now met as they sponsored two children for their children and allowed me the privilege of using whatever I needed from his climbing gear.

On Facebook you will meet African guides like Robin Mountain who, although he is not a Kili guide, has summited Kili 3 times and was full of wisdom and great advice.  The same day I met Robin on line I met Rachael Hall who that day was posting a picture she had just taken from the top of Kili. Rachael, Robin, and Ben have all climbed kili and are all filled with wisdom and knowledge that has helped to alleviate stress and concern.  Conversations with them have also inspired, encouraged, and given me a sense of confidence and added excitement as we set out for the mountain.

I have discovered that I am surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses that have stories and adventures that I can learn from and hang onto that will assist me in getting to the top of Africa. I have also discovered that they don’t have to have climbed Kili to be a witness that can aid me in my climb.  For example through blogging I have met Lesley Carter who writes about Bucket List stuff and has been a huge inspiration to me encouraging me to not sit back and let life pass me by but to live it fully and make a difference in the process.

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Those who have gone before us on the journey up a physical mountain are of great value.  But so are those who have gone before us and successfully navigated the spiritual mountains of life.  The question is will we encounter them and learn from them and allow them to move us to higher hights and greater depths spiritually.

What I have discovered is we fail to have divine encounters with those who have gone before us because we don’t live looking for them and live expecting them.  Possibly because we sit on the airplanes of life with our headphones on and our eyes shut instead of looking and listening for an opportunity to encounter God in and through the person sitting next to us.

When was the last time you read Hebrews 11 and 12 and listened to those who have gone before you.  Who will you meet today with eyes and ears wide open for how God might use you in their life and them in yours?

Let’s go climb a mountain, enjoy the journey and

change a life.

Living the Adventure or reading about it?

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Life is filled with adventures waiting to be experienced. I’m waiting to stand next to this sign but the adventure has already begun. One of the best selling novels on the electronic shelves of today are adventure novels and stories filled with action and intrigue. Movie lines are filled with people who want to see some action and adventure and romance. People are drawn into these stories.

I have noticed however that there are two different types of people. One type lives through the adventures of others. They are the people who like to read about adventures. They cuddle up with a good novel or blog and journey vicariously through the characters in the story.

I am not that kind of person. I want to live the adventure. Don’t misunderstand me. I love a good action adventure blog, book or movie. I love, like many, to be encouraged and inspired through the blogging of the Lesley Carters of our world. But I want to personally experience the thrill of victory and the, well… thrill of victory… I want to read about the agony of defeat. Nobody wants to experience defeat. Except that is part of living the adventure. The thrill of victory I think is often in direct proportion to the potential defeat. Therefore I have embraced that potential in life in order to personally live the adventure. The risk is worth it for me to get to personally experience the story and not just read about it.

I wonder if maybe it is the fear of the agony of defeat that keeps many on the sideline in the novel or blog and out of the game. Unwilling to take the risk in order to experience the thrill of victory.

Do you have dreams that are being set aside due to fear of failure?

Is fear of failure creating a hole in your bucket allowing your dreams to drain out and your bucket List to dry up?

What would it take for you to plug that hole, refill your bucket and start living your list?

Now I post this with the fear of being misunderstood.

Living the adventure in my lifetime