Monday, August 14, 2006

What a mess we've made

I have been thinking a lot lately, as most people have, about the mess in the Middle East. I think it is easy for us to look at what is going on over there and blame it on extremists, or warring sides, or differences in religion or any of the other numerous things we can place blame in to help us disconnect from the reality of it all. But what if we are partially to blame?

Can you imagine what it must be like growing up in a small poor country in turmoil your whole life? Living in a village where the only money comes from other nations (the US) paying and arming the men in your village to kill whoever they don't like at the time? What does that embed into your consciousness? A physical dollar figure is being placed on the heads of those who aren't even your enemy other then the fact that someone is paying to make them your enemy. Then we come into a nation and try and force democracy on a people who have been both being paid to kill for us and being killed by those we pay. Is it any wonder it doesn't work?

In Israel you have a country that for some reason the US has decided to stand by no matter what, shooting missiles into another country that not to long ago we where praising as a great example of democracy working in the middle east. We are sending billions of dollars in weaponry to one side and millions of dollars of aid to the other. What good does our aid do if we supply the bombs doing the damage? Is anyone really suprised that we are perceived as a "great evil"?

It just makes me wonder what could be if we spent anywhere near that much money on feeding and clothing people instead of arming them and giving them an enemy. I mean how many times is that going to come back and bite us before we learn it just doesn't work? We need a serious change in our Foreign Policy direction. It really seems like the middle east has become nothing more then a giant game of Risk played by rich western men in suits who have never farther into these countries then their own embassies. Like puppets pulling strings that effect thousands of innocent lives. It just breaks my heart.

My former pastor, Brain posted a great blog the other day about this, take a look. He is a much better writer then I am.

"When justice is bought and sold just like weapons of war,
the ones who always pay are the poorest of the poor."
-Derek Webb - "My Enemies Are Men Like Me"

Monday, August 07, 2006

Gutsy Faith Weeks 2&3

Okay, I am falling behind already.

We are really getting into some good stuff in the Gutsy Faith group. This is the second time I have read the book, since I designed the cover I read the manuscript almost a year ago, but having this discussion group to share thoughts, ideas, and testimony with has sure made a difference in what I am getting out of the book. If you have the opportunity to read Gutsy Faith with a group I highly recommend it.

Anyways. In week 2 we covered chapters 4-6, and in week 3 we looked at chapters 7-9.
In the group we talked a lot about prayer and wrestled with the idea of God not wanting to say "no" to us. I still am not sure I buy that statement, but I understand now what Jeff is getting at. It isn't a matter of God wanting to say yes or no to us; it is a matter of us desiring God's will. Basically, if God is saying "no" you probably aren't asking the right questions, or at least not at the right time.

Sometime during my college years I heard a sermon about the Lord's Prayer that got me thinking about the way I pray. It seems that even when my intentions are pure that my prayers end up self motivated. At that time I made a decision to pray for God's will specifically by stating it. Ever since then I have prayed for something and then asked that God fulfill that prayer only if it is His will, and if it is not, to shape my will to His. Half of the time it is nothing more then lip service, as my heart still desires what I want more then what God wants, but if nothing else it is a reminder to me set my desires aside and that God surely does have my best interest in mind.

There was one section that really stood out to me in these chapters, not because it is anything I haven't thought before, more because it was a powerful reminder to me of what it means to live Gutsy Faith. Here is what Jeff says in reference to Christ telling His disciples they had the power to move mountains.

"It's important to understand that since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God has been about the business of restoring all of creation to Himself. In the Exodus, we see God at work, bringing cataclysmic plagues on Egypt, parting the Red Sea, feeding the Israelites with manna, all in the eventual goal of restoring creation. Through the work of the Old Testament prophets, and the work of the judges and kings of Israel, we see God at work restoring all of creation. In the Gospels, we see Jesus performing miracles left and right, all in the interest of restoring creation. God has worked through nature, through the hands of His people, and through His own presence to bring about restoration.

And in Matt. 21:18-22 we find Jesus telling His disciples that if they have faith and don't doubt, they can and will move mountains. Jesus isn't just giving them challenging word to deal with their daily trials and sufferings. He's far beyond that. He's thinking of Kingdom issues here. Jesus is challenging them to be so close to God the Father, knowing and understanding His voice so clearly, that when they hear Him whisper, "Go move that mountain," they will know it immediately, and in faith will do so because it will be God's power moving it, not their own, all for the purpose of bringing about restoration."

Well, until next week, if you have any incites on prayer or things you can do to improve your prayer life, or anything else this post brings to you mind, leave it in the comments below.