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July 7, 2014, 9:44 AM

The World Without Us


One of my favorite blogs is the Church and Culture site (link below), written by author, preacher, and theologian James Emery White.  While most of his posts tickle my brain in the good way, the one I'm referencing in the title of this blog and commenting on here has taken hold. The premise he presented was:  "What would the world look like without us?"  This is not an Its a Wonderful Life type question, or even one to aggravate the thoughts of suicide... it is directed at those of us who claim Christ as our King, and attempt to live up to the charge of being The Salt of the Earth.  What would our world look like without us? 

On a global scale, much has been said and proposed what the Earth would look like without human influence and consumption (see the links in the original blog).  In fact, within years, our very memory would be wiped from the land if we were gone.  That seems like a small amount of time to undo what has taken centuries to build.  I wonder, how long would it take to erase the memory of me from the environments I consume everyday?  

Does our influence matter?  Even more so, does our Christ-like influence matter?  Would wrongs go unforgiven if we were removed?  Would justice be unserved if we disappeared?  Is peace possible without us?  I am not so proud to think my influence stretches globally, but I wonder how my sphere of influence would be impacted by my absence (and I'm speaking to those outside my immediate family).  If the offering I contribute to society is so quick to be erased, perhaps the salt I offer just isn't strong enough. 

We are called to be the Salt of the Earth directly, no confusion or misinterpretations can change the direct words of Jesus in Matthew 5... that is not the seasoning type of salt, but the preserving element.  The Earth, without those gifted with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, would rot.  Simply put.  We are sent, commissioned, approved, and empowered to preserve everything that is beautiful and holy on this planet.  

Are we doing as such?  Are we keeping joy fresh?  Does peace ring through our relationships and words?  Are we patient enough to allow God's timing to roll forward?  Do simple acts of kindness flow from our fingertips and those areas we treasure most?  When we respond to the fallen world, are we good and gentle?  As time pulls us apart, in hundreds of directions, are we faithful to the Truth?  Will anger and impulsive anxieties be thrown to the backseat as we exert self control over those outburst that bubble under the surface?  And does love trump the law, every time (it did with Jesus)?  

More than the requisite flowers on my grave site, I want to know that the impact I have on this world is one that preserves and lasts long after the memory of me fades.  

 

Here's the link to the Church and Culture website




June 24, 2014, 9:04 PM

AZ Mission Trip report, day 2


Day two report: we are tired, sunburnt, and we smell a little off. But dinner was fantastic and our time around the table with the 3:18 team is always uplifting and refreshing. 
The work today went well, and we were nicely precise with building the front wall with window and door framed in. The roof is complete and sitting on the ground right in front of the shed. A few of the Apache guys who have worked with 3:18 in years past are going to help us lift and place the roof (needless to say, it weighs A LOT). 
After that we spent about an hour filling water balloons for our time in the park for Bible Club. Bible club is a couple hours we spend teaching a lesson, playing games, doing crafts, and general running around with about 30 children from the neighborhood. The team was great, giving piggyback rides galore and playing catch and jumprope over and over and over. 

Thanks for praying. Keep it up, we have two solid days to come. 




June 23, 2014, 9:00 PM

Day 1 AZ update


It always seems like the first day is the hardest, most tiring, and most sun burning. Today didn't disappoint in that department! We are all tired, and burned. But the work is rewarding and there is a sense of fulfillment when we see a structure standing where none stood before. 

Our first construction task is building a shed for an Apache woman who lost her husband this past January. She wants to keep as many of his things as she can, in turn keeping him close as well.  The current storage she is using is falling apart, leaky, and unstable. 
As we build, in  a community so impoverished and falling apart, it amazes me to see the generosity shown from those with truly nothing to give. Our lunch today was prepared and served to us by the woman we were helping....and it was delicious!  There isn't much work I wouldn't do if the offer of fry bread was on the horizon. Add in beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomato and you have an Apache Taco. Amazing. 

Tomorrow we are aiming to complete the shed, needing a roof, door, window, and siding. It's a tall order for one day of work with inexperienced construction workers, but we'll get it done. 

Thanks for supporting us. Pray for the family we are working with, she is still in mourning, being too young to be alone. The shed is a small thing we can help with, being more an extension of the love the 3:18 team has for her than just another outbuilding. 

 




June 16, 2014, 2:00 PM

AZ Mission Trip 2014


On June 21st, a group of 9 from Red Bridge will be heading West on a trip of semi-epic proportions.  We are making the journey to Globe, AZ and San Carlos, AZ to work alongside 3:18 Ministries as they live and serve among the San Carlos Apache Nation.  Culturally, economically, and socially this is at its very core a mission trip similar to that of one to a third world country... All without leaving our borders.  Our country's history, as colorful as freedom is, has not been kind to Native Americans.  No short term mission trip can fix that on its own, but there is no boundary to sharing the love of God no matter the differences in the shades of our melanin.  

3:18 Ministries, specifically Tory and Kara Satter, have been building relationships in Globe and San Carlos under the umbrella of 3:18 for over 10 years now.  Robert and Liz Crews have recently joined the team in Globe.  Their ministry has taken them through the rollercoaster of grown and broken relationships, adoption, heartbreak, and overwhelming joy.  Our goal is simply to partner in those relationships, expressing a compassion and grace to a nation that has received very little.  

Here is a rundown of the specifics of the trip:

Departure from Red Bridge - 6 AM - Saturday, June 21st. -- Arrive in Albuquerque, NM. 

Depart Albuquerque, NM - 9 AM - Sunday, June 22nd --  Arrive in Globe, AZ for Dinner with the Satters and Crews.

On Monday through Thursday we will begin each day with breakfast at the Satter's home and then drive to our worksite on the Reservation.  Each trip, one way, is approximately 20 miles, with the beauty and starkness of the AZ desert lying between the cities of Globe and San Carlos.  The work sites are new homes for families selected by the Tribal Council, through assignment with 3:18.  The materials and supplies are all furnished through the Reservation, and the families are chosen based on need.  The houses we help build, while meager by our standards, can easily be considered luxury in comparison to the living conditions prior for each family. Last year we did finish work (adding trim and painting) on the exterior of two houses.  We dont know yet what we're doing this year, as 3:18 has not received the specifics on projects or funding.  There is a chance we could be laying footings for a new home, or adding the finish work on an existing project.  

We finish up our work around 1:30 or 2 in the afternoon, with a short time of preparation and rest before we head back onto the Reservation for Bible Club.  This is a two hour period spent in a park with neighborhood children.  The hours will be spent on teaching a simple and lasting Bible story (this year is Joseph), making a craft that the children can take home to remind them of the message, snacks (!!), and games.  This time is spent face to face with the modern Native American culture.  The children's homes are often dysfunctional, making our goal a few hours of relief and unconditional acceptance and love.  The big finish and easily the biggest hit of the day is the water balloon launcher (a slingshot that shoots water balloons high in the air, spattering the entire group).  We leave soaked and exhausted.  

Each night concludes with a home-made dinner at the Satter's home, and down time to collect our thoughts (and shower... which are well earned by this point of the evening).  Of course, we cant get to bed too early, so there is typically a rousing game of kickball in the housing church's gym to close out the day.  

As of this writing (Monday at 2:17 pm), we have raised $2500 towards the trip.  Your generosity is amazing and appreciated.  We are very close to reaching our goal, with roughly $1200 more needed to cover the entire trip.  Thank you for showering us with your support, and believing in our efforts.  We covet your prayers for safety, protection, and effectiveness as we travel and serve.  I will try to keep you updated through the church email/facebook/blog pages so you know what we're up to and where we're at in the country during our travels.  

See you on the 29th!!  

Chris and the AZ Team. 

3-18ministries.blogspot.com

Lauren Roberts, Ashley Moore, Grayce Wise, Leila Effertz, Robin Roberts, Chris Wise, Nathan Mushinski, Aaron Mushinski, and Caleb Mushinski.  




June 9, 2014, 10:36 AM

I need this...


Make a list of things you "need."  This could be a fun mental activity, or a potentially devastating moment that exposes our deep-seeded insecurities.  (Boy, that got heavy really quick, didn't it?!).  I start out that way because I just caught myself explaining to an 8 year old why I NEEDED to finish reading an article about the NFL and the football season that is still 3 months away from beginning.  If you're not into sports, or sports analogies, you understand her confusion and insistence for dismissing the content of the article.  If you're a parent you understand that I was distracted from meeting the needs of a child.  If you're into cynicism and reality, you'll see that she just wanted attention for what she thought was important in that moment.  But what I really needed was to finish that compelling article.  

I think its rather apparent how quickly a conversation about "need" can dive into a heart and soul matter.  There are so many voices these days telling us exactly what we need, what we're missing, and what will make us really, really happy.  Commercials are prolific at pointing out those areas in our lives that are lacking.  It only takes 30 seconds for me to be shown just how much my social life is missing while I abstain from social drinking.  Cartoon Network has the privilege of exposing all of the missing links to happiness in our children by using advertising for toys and video games.  Daytime television (talk shows and game shows) are rich with commercials hitting that target audience and pulling at the strings of retirement benefits and health risks.  Spend some time with the Food Network and HGTV and you'll see all the other areas we're missing out on culturally.  

Even when we push media and advertising out of the picture, there are other voices telling us exactly what we need. I remember these sentences and the weight of the "needs" placed on me:  "You need to get a job."  "You need to get better grades so you can get scholarships to go to more school and get more grades so you can get a job."  "You need to avoid these foods."   No, I'm not equating those societal expectations with the drivel of advertising.  But understand that everyone has a picture of exactly what you "need."  There are articles beating down our doors (and news feeds) about things like vaccines, GMO's, the latest and greatest tech advances, the most recent grievances of the government, and so on and so forth.  

Everyone has an idea of what we need and the problem is that we believe them.  All of them.  Well, most of them.  I have trouble balancing my spiritual needs list with my physical needs list.  Everything on my physical needs list equates to making life simpler, convenient, and comfortable.  When I'm addressing those, I'm happy and have everything I need.  But when the Jesus-Informercial comes on (sermon, blog, etc...) I am immediately skeptical about just how much I need what is being peddled.  I treat the latest manual for identifying Christ in my life just like I do those commercials about the stuff that will "instantly transform any surface on your car to BRAND NEW!!!"  Maturity?  That's just a ploy to get me to give more.  Integrity?  That is merely a commercial for honesty and admitting guilt.  Generosity?  You just want me to give something to the poor, right?  I don't need those things... They make life uncomfortable and work in direct opposition to my idea of what life is supposed to be about.

I can't help but see the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 - 7 as Jesus' "Needs List for Believers."  He speaks very plainly about the need for maturity and integrity.  "Let your Yes be Yes..."  He tells us about needing transformed hearts, and investing in things where rust, moth, and thief are impotent.  All are in direct opposition to what I think I need.   How can we balance Jesus' needs list with our own?  Simple, we cant. The two cannot coexist.  Within that concept and truth Consumer Christianity and the Prosperity Gospel are exposed to their roots.  Our faith journey has tried to balance itself with the world's imagery of contentment and acceptance.  Remember how quickly The Prayer of Jabez swept through the Christian culture?  It was a wildfire.  All from one obscure line and prayer in the Bible.  It caught fire because it spoke to the need for contentment and comfort in all of us.  It was the spark that has grown into the new-gospel: "God wants you to be happy and blessed and most likely rich."  If those things aren't happening for you, just pray harder, faith more, and believe better which will effectively convince God just how much you NEED that stuff.  

You know what I need?  I need to remember how to trust, despite my cynicism and doubt.  I need to remember how to share.  I need to remember how to pour out integrity and compassion........right after I finish reading that article.  


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