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.”

rs_560x415-130419144503-1024.BoyScouts.mh.041913

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?

2012 in review

The WordPress.com 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.

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

“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

“ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL”

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

Banking


Irrigation Canal from river

Family Onion Farm

Sampling an onion from a family farm

Maasai family Benefitting from child sponsorship

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.

20120622-213727.jpg

Rongai Route Itinerary – Follow our journey to the top of Africa

For those of you who would like to journey along with us up Mt Kilimanjaro, here is our itinerary.  We are taking the Rongai Route which is the only route that approaches the mountain from the North and retains a sense of untouched wilderness.  It starts just south of the Kenya-Tanzania border and passes through farmland and forest, past Alpine moorland to the beautiful summit cone at 19,340 feet above sea level.  There are magnificent views throughout , glaciers and ice cliffs of the summit, and across the East African plains far below.

The Rongai route is one of the less traveled routes.  We will bond as a team on the way up and then descend the Marangu route, the most popular trail, and interact with the world on the way down.  Here is where we will be…

Day 1 (Saturday/Sunday June 23/24) – fly from LAX to Dubai to Nairobi then a puddle jumper to Kilimanjaro Airport. – Total travel time approximately 22 hours.

Day 2 (Monday June 25) early breakfast, briefing and then drive to Rongai gate to meet guides and porters.  After formalities a 2-3 hour hike to the fist cave where we will camp at Simba Camp. (9,300 feet). This will take us through the cultivation area of the mountain, where you can see how local farmers tend to their land on the slopes.

Day 3 (Tuesday June 26) Early morning begin trekking out past the second cave and on to the third cave.  This will be about a 7-8 hour day.  The climb will be relatively difficult, taking us through forest and well into the moorland.  We will overnight at Kikelelwa camp (11,811 feet).

Day 4 (Wednesday June 27) We will set out for Mawenzi Tarn Hut, which should take approximately 7 hours.  We will overnight at Mawenzi Tarn Hut, elevation 14,160.

Day 5 (Thursday June 28) This will be a shorter day so that we can get to bed early in preparation for a middle of the night assault on the summit.  We will take about 4-5 hours to hike to Kibo hut, elevation 15,430.

Day 6 (Friday June 29) We will be wakened around midnight to begin a 5 hour hike on heavy scree to Gillman’s point, approximately 19,000 feet.  Using headlamps to see we will hike in the dark while the ground is frozen making it easier to ascend this steep section.  As we reach the crater rim, the sun should be rising to display Africa in all its glory beneath us.  The views will be spectacular and it makes the entire journey  worth every step… (so I’m told). From here we will continue on up another 1-2 hours around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak, (19,340 feet).  After a few photos at the summit and an short time of worship and prayer for our sponsored children, we will begin our steady descent to Kibo hut for a rest and some nourishment, then continue to Horombo Hut for overnight at 12,205 feet.  That is 4,000 feet up and 7,000 feet down on this one day.

Day 7 (Saturday June 30)  After breakfast we will descend to Marangu Gate, (6,046 feet) with sore feet and memories that will last a lifetime.  We will then be transferred to the Keys Hotel for a well needed shower and an evening of celebration by the swimming pool.  The Keys hotel is a modern tourist hotel located in the small town of Moshi offering good views of the mountain we just climbed.

Day 8 (Sunday July 1) We will depart from the Keys Hotel after breakfast and head to Arusha town to be dropped off at our next hotel from where we will visit the World Vision projects and meet our children.

Days 9-12 (Monday-Thursday July 2-5) we will spend time interacting with children, meeting World Vision Staff, touring water sites and gaining inside into how important our sponsorship is to the hope and future of these precious people.

Day 13-14 (Friday-Saturday July 6-7) Depart Kilimanjaro Airport to Nairobi to Dubai to LAX, arriving in Los Angeles at approximately 2:15 pm on Saturday July 7. I will probably overnight with my cousin in LA pretty close to sea level.

Day 15 (Sunday July 8) Depart LA for a 5 hour drive to Phoenix where it will probably be beyond “Africa hot”, but home sweet home!

Well, Bags are packed and I have taken my first Malaria Pill.  It is almost time to go.