Like A Vapor

I just noticed that Internet Monk passed away on April 5th. Many of us had known he was fighting a battle with cancer, but I had not seen that he has since left this “vale of tears”. For so it is, when suffering with disease and pain. I had wondered what had become of another blogger with whom I had interacted with more than with Michael Spenser, Michele McGinty of Reformed Chicks Blabbing, and found that she is now fighting a downhill battle with cancer. I pray for her to have a miracle… the world has been better for her presence in it.

Join me in praying for her recovery, will you?

Truly, life is but a vapor, but there is no reason to see it burn out too early in the day.

My Beautiful Baskets

Arrived! Today the baskets were delivered via FedEx, dispatched quickly and packaged neatly. I will have to take a picture of them this weekend… and post! They really are so pretty, and the cards that came with them describe three of the weavers. I do hope this program is helping the women as much as it says- to think that you are so easily improving the lives of women and children by giving them opportunity to use their native crafts is very heartwarming, and getting artistic and useful baskets as well…well, it’s just good.

The product is lovely, that’s for sure!

Something Beautiful, Something Good

First, I have to tell you: I love baskets. I especially love handwoven baskets infused with ethnic style. I also love a good cause, and what is better than combining the two?

Now I have to tell you what I discovered and share it with you.

You might know I exercise at Curves, usually three times a week. This past week there were some baskets on display. Not just any baskets, but well made, graphically gorgeous baskets. As I said, I have made it a habit to inspect this type of basket, and price them… buying something if I can afford it. My latest purchase was a really fine bowl basket made by Micronesians which I bought in Maui. I also love seagrass baskets made in South Carolina and sold along road side stands. There is something earthy and attractive about the blend of beauty and utility in a handwoven basket!

Anyway, I asked about the baskets on display. A tiny one with a perfectly fitted cover and a large bowl shape with a striking black and tan design. The owner, having just set them out, also had a postcard size placard with the url and a short explanation about the good cause storyrwanda basket company of these baskets. I’ll let the site describe this in its own words:

Changing Lives One Basket at a Time

The vision of the Rwanda Basket Company is to empower the impoverished women of Rwanda to rise above their subsistence level existence by providing them with the training, tools and support needed to sell their baskets in the west. The Rwanda Basket Company accomplishes this in several ways:

* Providing “Master Weavers” to work with these impoverished women to help them improve and expand their weaving skills
* Paying the weavers directly a premium wage for each of their baskets
* Supplying high quality sisal, dye and other materials needed to ensure a quality product
* Making available to the weavers (many of them genocide widows or wives of imprisoned perpetrators) such life skills training as healing and reconciliation workshops, trauma counseling, and basic medical assistance
* Opening up multiple markets in the west for the weavers’ baskets, thereby ensuring them a much better wage for their products than they could ever hope to receive in Rwanda

I was already going to purchase one of their baskets…. now I want a collection. They also have a sales program that I don’t think I can personally fit into my life, but perhaps you might, check out the details, and the direct buy of baskets on their site, Rwanda Basket Company.

For me, this is the type of good deed I like best: empowering others. Like the Chinese proverb says… give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach him how to fish… he is fed for a lifetime.

Koreans Freed, Thank God… but what now?

Korean Hostages All Free – Weeping and Rejoicing, Catez reports on the final act of the Korean Hostage situation. August 30th she heard the report of their freedom and commented,

Today I am reminded that we weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Those of us who have kept the team in our prayers hold both of those realities together. Christian history has chronicled stories like these from its beginnings. In the Acts of the Apostles, an account of the 1st century church, in chapter 12:1-4, we read of two imprisonments by King Herod. One resulting in the death of James and the other in the escape of Peter. I have often thought of the sorrow of the early church in losing James, they way they kept a prayer vigil for Peter, and their joy when he miraculously escaped.

Shim Sung-min and Pastor Bae Hyung-kyu

So I have these two things in my mind and heart today. I am thrilled that our people have been released. And I am remembering the two men who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of the gospel.

I heartily join her in these thoughts and emotions. She also records the point that their church, Saemmul Presbyterian Church, clarified the aid workers purpose: they were in “Afghanistan to offer practical assistance in medical care to the sick, and to children, and to exemplify the Christian message”

We have a hard hearted world we deal with now. And, to me, the message of Islam and its appeasers in this whole debacle is that we can expect that all forms of compassion will be funneled through the tyrannical militant bureaucracy with the outcome that it will be diverted as they see fit, applied with their reward and punishment systems, with all the corruption and abuse that implies. No Compassionate Christians need apply…just send money.

We are relieved that the fine people with their high ideals have returned to their home country of Korea, we who are Christians can echo Catez’s sentiments and the joy and weeping with our brothers and sisters in the faith, but I am here to say that we have other things that we need to also look at in this situation, and what it says of our future.

How long will we appease evil? To what lengths will we serve it so it will just “leave us alone”? That is the larger question that waits for us. It was evil to do with these aid workers what was done. Doing good comes increasingly at a steep cost. I mean that on several levels. The reason is that good is called evil, and evil good in this world of ours. That is the explanation, but not the full story on what it will cost us as individuals and as nations to continue to “do good”. The double edged sword for all of us is that such a situation calls upon us to render a sound reason for what we call good, for our motivations in taking the actions we do, and in scrutinizing the long term results of our actions.

It cuts on both the side of what is an improvement in motivation and rationale in giving to the world’s needs and the side which will create a curtailment of generosity. Better giving, but less giving we might say. That will be true only for those who bravely continue to give selflessly in the face of accusation, persecution, ridicule, and hostility. The rest will be goaded into shutting down or capitulating to tyrants.

I love the way Catez brought forward all that is lovely and of good report in the release of our Korean brethren. I rejoice and weep …. but then I lift my head to look at the road which we must take now.

It gets narrower, my friends, much narrower.

I prayed for someone today

And as I prayed I was engulfed in the sense of compassion that God has for this person, how much the Lord desires to do everything possible for this persons welfare. It was a revelation of “[c]hesed”. This sense, which I have experienced before, usually in intercession, also brings with it the the most intense thankfulness for just how good God is. He is good. He really does work together all things in our lives, and throughout the universe, for good on behalf of those who belong to Him, who love Him. It is such an immense love, that to just glimpse it is to be overwhelmed with gratefulness, understanding of how undeserved, and wonder, all at once.

This is why we should take time out of our busy lives, and bring the requests of others and of our own hearts to God: otherwise we will never understand the most important things about the Lord. It is much, much more than getting our needs met, or crisis helped, it is about understanding the height, the depth, and the breadth of the love of God.

I thank my friend for sharing the prayer request with – that I might know how much the Lord God loves this person, and how much by association, God also loves me. My hope is that our requests be fully answered as we pray them, but however God decides, in His sovereign grace and mercy to work everything out…. it will be in the context of His fathomless wells of mercy, His hesed.

I can know more of God in five minutes of prayer than I can with five hours of theological study.

Being Men of Good Will

I sent a little business through Amazon to a fellow Christian, and it made me think about something I just don’t understand very well. When in another fellowship than the one I now attend , I kept hearing grousing about doing business with other Christians, and through the years I’ve seen a type of petty begrudging about other Christians success. As if encouraging them and supporting their business would be so onerous a task.

Now, I’ve seen plenty of efforts to the opposite, as far as compiling lists of Christian businesses etc., but that little streak of ill will is what bothers me. It seems we ought to rejoice in each others success, and further it if it is in our power to do so. Like the “Buy American” idea. You support a whole raft of ideas, not just a selfish patronization of your own nation… like fair wages, and benefits, good working conditions, protection of the vulnerable ( i.e. child labor laws) -good things like that.

The same way as with believers, we ought to develop good will towards one another to the greatest extent possible, and I believe that God blesses that. After all, isn’t that how te good news came from the angels in the Christmas announcement? Peace, to men of good will.

I have always liked the quality of magnanimity in a person.

There used to be a sort of fad that was “random acts of kindness”, and it seems to me that Christians could develop that to a fine art if they chose. I think I should consciously attempt far more than I do, because I tend to experience contraction of my actual giving of late. I have always had generous impulses, but now the pragmatic concerns speak more loudly. I want to balance wisdom in giving with a generosity that comes from good will. It isn’t always in money- and doesn’t need to be. Sometimes the money giving is marred by the lack of good will. Good will would go further in attending to the inner need that created something of the money crisis, anyway.

I think we should desire to see each other prosper. I wish people in the Church would stop making the words, prosper and prosperity into dirty words. There is a wholistic type of prosperity that God’s promises through the salvation of Christ gives to His people. We say we should be giving, but if we are always struggling under bills…. what happens to that impulse to be generous? Often it dries up.

I’d like to say more at some time, but for today I encourage anyone reading to do something to spread good will around their corner of the world. Increase your smiles, your kindness, your words of encouragement, and a spare a brother a dime … make it viral.

The Beauty of Lament

In new blog, I’ve found a voice that resonates with my heart. Oh, I know you wouldn’t know it, as I have a tendency to ire and some sharpness… but my heart leads me in the direction that Eclexia has indicated in the post My Mentors in Lament.

In reviewing some of the blogs appreciated, Eclexia expressed this about Internet Monk:

Which brings me to my last Lament Mentor. The best (in my opinion), internet lamenter around: Internet Monk. Many people online rant and rave about things which I also think about. But I don’t particularly enjoy reading rants and raves about things which I think are wrong, because usually those things make my heart hurt, they don’t make me mad. And if I read angry rants, I start to get angry in a way that feeds bitterness, which doesn’t change anything (except making me more miserable).

Internet Monk is different. Sometimes he rants and raves, but usually I think what he is doing is lamenting–being excruciatingly honest about things that are wrong in this world.

It is this quality of the lament that I think Francis Schaeffer so often tried to convey. And perhaps it also is something of what was meant by describing the Lord Jesus Christ as the man of sorrows. A redeeming sort of sorrow.

As one with a melancholy bent, I have often been at odds with the Pentecostal groups I have had fellowship with… not just them, but with a whole culture that despises the beauty of lament. I am so grateful for this post that gave me a place and an understanding for the direction that anger and lament ought to take me. It was something that my heart keeps trying to tell me, but which I have a hard time embracing.

I found Eclexia via Lingamish… another fine blog new to me.

The Intrigue of the Tithe

I was reading @ ‘Finding Your Path’ in this post,part of a series on ‘View from the Pew’. The man makes some good points, but in all this…. a question came to me. I don’t know what your particular view on the idea of tithing is, as you read this, but I asked myself:where do the funds come from to do all these works of financial compassion? We ignore lots in the Church, as Mitch Raymer points out, but let’s face some facts. First, everyone grouses about preachers panning for finances from the pulpit, and therefore many of them have an aversion to this hard chore of life, themselves . Then the fact of our own forgetful ways when it comes to attending to giving to our Churches. Find the statistics…how many church members give ten percent or more in Churches that do not teach on tithing? Even those with teachings don’t have 100% compliance with the practice.

So where are churches to get the necessary finances to meet the needs of society, starting within their own pews?

I think tithing is a good way to start…simply by virtue of the fact that God instituted this for that very reason: the practical maintenance of the buildings, the clergy, and the charity of the institution in the community. This on top of the fact that members were to be individually charitable to the poor and needy in their midst.

People like to grouse about finances in the Church, and asking for contributions, but they like to also ignore the fact that money isn’t going to magically appear for the services and charitable provisions that we all know is part of our faith. And we grumble about teaching that reaches near, let alone into our pockets.

We can’t have it both ways, friends. Integrate the thinking, and participate in the giving…. even if it is only your two mites.

I think this problem is sort of related to something I have quoted here on the page from Sam Pierce’s Uncle Sam’s Cabin: the poor end up paying because the privileged won’t. There are lots of financially privileged people in the American congregations who are tightwads when it comes to proportional giving to the church. that is why there is so much complaining about the ten percent. Sure, it is a minimum, sure, the way of the New Testament is to freely give…. but we are supposed to aim for more than that legal ten percent. It was a guide to show us what was meet, expected. We aren’t educated to that and think that we are just supposed to give what we feel. Well, if our feelings are constricted by materialism or greed, and we aren’t aware of that , because we never stetched ourselves further than our comfort zones…. then how are we going to have the generosity of the spirit in giving ?

The tithe is a starting place. We all have to start somewhere.


Hugs to Phil Johnson and the pyro team for being so generous with links- and because they are weathering through what we all dread- those technological snafus that power outages bring, along with shudder lost graphics. Believe me when I say I sympathize…. I love my graphics, they are like beloved pets, and to see them vaporized into the ether. Well, that is just a shame. Centurion has some worthy ideas on giving. Read it- because the graphics aren’t everything….

Please don’t take my love of graphics too seriously and get offended that I put them on par with pets. I’ll try not to get difficult about those who include their pets at the table ( like an aunt of mine used to) and put them on par with me! ( If you rate them higher, just don’t tell me OK?)