Sep 03 2013

My Pets Live Better Than Billions of Human Beings

I looked at my Boston Terrier, Boggs, through tears this morning, realizing that he lives better than everyone that I had just met on this journey to take Love Around The World with World Vision. That humbled me to no end.  I love my pets, they don’t eat anything extravagant, go to doggie daycare, or require a whole lot of grooming, but I spend more to feed my pets every day than it costs to sponsor a child through World Vision.

I was sharing this with a friend, who said, “well, my dog is little, I don’t spend more than $40/month to feed her”, and than it hit her, that is more than $35/month that it takes to sponsor a child.  I love our pets, they are wonderful, but I guess what hit me was how I don’t think twice about caring for them, and yet how often do we wrestle with helping a fellow human being in need. 

Last year, $52 billion was spent on our pets… $52 BILLION.

I was in tears because I realized that my dogs live better than the billions we met in every corner of the World.  My pets never want for food, they always are warm, safe and dry, they have clean water, they get medical attention when they need it… Yet billions of kids do not.

I am not asking you to give up your pets, or not care for them… I am just wondering if you wouldn’t help a child whose family lives on less than a $1/day, less than it costs me to feed my pets.  Helping a child through World Vision costs only $35/month, the amount of love, care and hope that World Vision provides to a child for such a small amount of money is AMAZING!  Seeing how child sponsorship transforms these children, their families and the communities that they live in is no less than miraculous.

In James, 1:27 it says,
“Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.”

I love that James doesn’t mince words, describing “religion” that is all talk as “Hot Air”, and in describing “Real Religion.” James describes exactly what I have witnessed World Vision doing around the world...  “Reaching out to the homeless and loveless in their plight”.  I hope that you’ll join us in demonstrating “Real Religion”, religion that passes the “muster of God the Father”.

Help World Vision care for the “least of these”!  Sponsor a child today! 

Aug 28 2013

Magic Kingdom, Tragic Kingdom and God’s Kingdom

In his new book Unfinished, World Vision President, Rich Stearns dedicates an entire chapter to the principal of “Magic Kingdom, Tragic Kingdom and God’s Kingdom”.  

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is where a world so perfect sweeps you away into a little slice of oblivion, a place that insulates you from all the ugliness and pressures of the outside world, a little slice of bliss that allows you to escape to the “happiest place on Earth.”  The concern that Rich has is that a lot of Christians that live in affluent cultures, like ours, live as what he describes, ‘Magic Kingdom Christians.’  We live in a sheltered world shaped by our affluence, living in our comfortable homes, driving in our comfortable cars, living in a world where our basic needs are met, and our kids get an education.  We our enjoy vacations, our toys, cable TV, churches equipped with coffee bars, state of the art sound systems, amazing buildings… on and on the list goes.  

I think that most of us could identify with Rich’s description, and find ourselves described somewhere within it.  His concern is that living in this Magic Kingdom has its consequences.  Rich says, “The problem with living in the Magic Kingdom is that it profoundly shapes our Worldview.  It effects the way we look at every dimension of our lives, our values, our expectations, our priorities, our money, our politics, and even the way we see our Christian faith.”

Outside of our Magic Kingdom lives, lies a ‘Tragic Kingdom,’ a kingdom where much of the world lives. A kingdom where 1 billion people are starving to death, where 2 billion kids are suffering from malnutrition. Where nearly a billion are dying because they can’t access clean water.  Those living in the Tragic Kingdom are victims of human traffickers, warlords and diseases that have left 18 million orphans in their wake.  

3 billion people, 1/2 of the World’s population, live on less that $2/day, 4 ½ billion, live on less than $10/day.  To put things into perspective, if you make $40,000 a year, you make more than 99% of the World’s population; if you make just $13,000/ yr., you are in the top 10% of the entire World.  The saddest Tragic kingdom statistic is that nearly 20,000 children under the age of five die EVERY DAY because of things that money can prevent.  Nearly 8 million kids, 1 EVERY 4 seconds, will die this year because they don’t have the food, clean water and medical treatment they need to survive… Tragic!

If these numbers shock you, they should. It isn’t shocking that most of us living the Magic Kingdom life aren’t aware, because often times we will go out of our way to avoid knowing. We don’t like to be taken out of our comfort zone.

The problem is that living a Magic Kingdom life can get in the way of living the way Jesus described the ‘Kingdom of God.'  Rich Stearns writes in Unfinished, “God doesn’t want our lives to be like that, God wants us to live in a different way, have a different vision of human thriving.  More than 125 times, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, in parable after parable, Jesus describes a new dream for human society that turned the values of the World upside down.  The ‘Kingdom of God’ is characterized by the values of God himself: integrity, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, faithfulness, justice and love.  Jesus’ followers would love their enemies, and be generous with their money and possessions.”

Rich’s advice is that we “return to the front lines, live radically different lives, work as Christ calls us to; making disciples of all nations and demonstrating God’s love to a hurting World."

I have seen World Vision child sponsorship do that over the past two weeks, I have been amazed at how so little, about a $1/day, can transform not only a child’s life, but their entire family and the community where they live.  

You are richer than you think. You may not, single handedly, be able to solve all the world’s problems, but you can START by helping solve the problems of just ONE child!  If we all did just that, collectively, We Could Change the World, One Child at a Time!

Help take Love Around The World! Sponsor a child at http://www.worldvision.org/Love-around-the-world 

Aug 28 2013

Natalie Grant Performs at the 50th Anniversary of March on Washington

It was a historic day today, as we remembered Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech and the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. There was a huge celebration right on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and K-LOVE artist, Natalie Grant, got to perform. She blew all of us away!

I got to chat with Natalie about her performance today and how she got to be a part of this celebration - if you missed it, you can listen to it again here: