meeting notes

Something worth fighting for
Something worth fighting for

Cogitations in lieu of active participation in Demand Forecast meeting from 7:30 – 9:00 this morning, and since:

The power:

  • is it real?
  • what difference does it make?
  • ideas?
  • illusion of control?
  • Waste!
  • Fight!
  • Stand!

“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” 1 Cor. 4:20

  • Is it real?
  • Is it apparent?
  • Should it be?

South Bronx:

Poorest congressional district in the U.S., walking distance (running distance) from the 7th wealthiest district. 

Children:

  • POVERTY
  • ABUSE
  • AIDS
  • DRUGS
  • ALONE
  • DE-VALUED
  • NO ROLE MODELS/LEADERS
  • UNLOVED
  • HOPELESS
  • ORPHANED

Budget Inputs for 2009:

  • Headcount changes
  • Travel – non-billable
  • Outside services
  • Capital expenditures

Desire frustrated, passion unfulfilled, anguish, restrained.

Limited?

Focused?

Held at bay.

Confused.

Certain.

There is a physical substance to this anguish manifest in an ache in my bosom reminiscent of the groaning of a broken heart, unfulfilled longing, and fervent resolve.

So, I ask you, how does the power manifest itself in our worlds?  Does it continue to have tangible expression?  Does seeking first the kingdom and His righteousness have practical implications?  Does it even have relevant spiritual implications, beyond modern, post-modern, emergent theology and contemporary Christianity?  Is it possible for those of us in middle-class, American suburbia, to engage the power of the spirit while simultaneously engaging the need to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, give hope to the hopeless, compassion to the prisoner?  Can we make a difference?  Can we really make things better?  If we give all we have to the poor, but have not love, does it matter?  If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around, does it make a sound?  If a church exists in the world, and doesn’t have the power of God, does it make a difference?  Do we care?

What should we do?  Will we do it?  When?

11 thoughts on “meeting notes”

  1. Where did you get that horrific photo Dale? I was literally sick to my stomach and cried all night (ask my husband) over this image. I want to get to the root of where the image came from. Did anyone pick up the baby and hold him? Is he suffering alone? Is he dying? Did someone show him love as he drew his last breath? Or did they leave him on the ground for the vulture. I am certainly not rich but have been begging God to let me help the children. Any children. I have to do something and I have to do it now. Even in our culture the news is full of the children suffering here in the US at the hands of abusors. Mostly parents. Do we as humans deserve redemption as we stand by and allow these attrocities?

    Love & Blessings;
    Sebrina Carter
    House of the Lord
    Tennessee

  2. Wow, wish our meetings were 1/459 that interesting. I have a full week of meetings regarding the IBO, MYP, AOIs, ATLs, C&SP, IEPs, H&S, HI, Env., Etc. I’d rather be in similar emotional anguish. Oh wait, I am in similar emotional anguish! And I still have to sit through LONG, POINTLESS, BORING meetings! But really, I appreciate your wanderings. I would tell you mine, but they are all shapes and colors, as you know 🙂

  3. Sebrina – As I tossed and turned early in the morning a couple of days ago, getting into my Monday blahs, I was convinced I would have to remove that photo from this post. It was too much, too disturbing, almost over the top. I wasn’t sure it was the right message to convey. It seems almost trite, presented here among such silliness. But, in the light of the morning, I decided to leave it. Truth is, I want to be disturbed in the way this makes me disturbed. It may be extreme, but perhaps it takes the extreme to provoke me to action. I’m sorry, kind of, that it disturbed you so much.

    The photo is actually several years old, and I’ve seen it in several places on the internet. I don’t know the original source. To my knowledge it is authentic, though. The story of which I am aware is this: the child was struggling to get to a nearby refugee center. He was very weak. The photographer came upon him and snapped this photo then helped the child reach safety. I don’t know the larger story of location or circumstances.

    “Do we as humans deserve redemption as we stand by and allow these atrocities?” Great question. The truth is that we don’t, but even without these atrocities, we don’t deserve redemption. Out of our redemption, though – our abundance of grace – we ought to desire to respond with all we have to such human conditions, regardless of location and cause. We ought to be moved by the compassion of Christ, and just common decency, to do all we can. We are easily distracted, though.

    My desire in expressing these thoughts and having similar conversations, is to make myself move, and hopefully others, toward action, even action that is close to home. We don’t have to help the child in the picture to address such depravity. We don’t have to go to foreign countries. Much of the work can be done where we are, even on our knees. But we do have to move – move toward Christ.

  4. I think this is very complicated, perhaps unnecessarily so.
    Should we do something to make this world a better place?
    Every day.
    Do I do it because “God said”?
    No.
    I do it because I would like the world to be a better place.
    Who is responsible for suffering?
    I didn’t cause it, but I contribute because I do nothing. If I want to bring about change, I must be part of that change.

    I don’t know what “moving toward Christ” means. I think that is more a philosophical response toward a problem that requires physical response instead, and in fact, I think that it is less a comfort that I’m spending time on my knees hoping for better when I could be writing a check to a researched charity that will put my money where it needs to go. No disrespect, but to create change means to shift energy to create motion.

    So what is the real question? Is God going to fix this problem? I’d say the solution lies with our hands in motion, not clasped in prayer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I bet those who are suffering are praying plenty, and still suffering. Thinking about my future redemption kinda pales when I think of how many children die every single day around the world. I am less concerned with my tomorrow than today’s suffering for all of us.

    Be. The. Change.

    Of your questions, that’s the only one I can answer.

  5. Dale,

    First off, I believe that the sole purpose of meetings is to re-establish the hierarchy now and then. That said, it seems that your mind was put to good use during that hour and a half.

    I’ve been pondering two questions from your post. I don’t see how we can ‘feed, clothe, give’ without first engaging the power of the spirit. Without God’s direction aren’t we merely ‘doing our own thing?’ Is the nagging feeling to ‘do something’ always from the God, or is it simply God’s way of getting our attention so he can point us at where he wants us? Sorry, I hate to answer a question with a question, but I don’t know how else to further the coversation.

    Mostly I’ve been ruminating on your question:
    “If a church exists in the world, and doesn’t have the power of God, does it make a difference? Do we care?”

    Frankly, I don’t think we do care. We’re kind of selfish like that. One day we look around and realize that our particular church isn’t making a difference (from our perspective) and we decide to move on. Like a new pair of running shoes. It’s sad, but it’s happening. Mostly we don’t care because we lose our connection with God and the power is gone. We say we rely on God, but we refuse to empty ourselves and let God fill us. I am guilty of this as much as the next guy. We need to pray more.

    Tracy in LA: I have to disagree with part of your comment. I think the first place you need to go is on your knees. Don’t do a single thing with those hands until you’ve clasped them together and know that you’ve heard from God. If you seek him in earnest, he will answer, guide, direct, and lead. Then…go. Ask God how much to give and to whom. He will tell you. Ask God where he wants you to serve and he will show you. Ask God to develop your gifts and talents to be used for his Kingdom and then get out of His way so he can do it.

    If you ‘go’ first and pray later. That’s on you. Asking God to bless your plan doesn’t work. Asking God to give you the strength to follow his plan…that works

  6. Is it possible to look at photos of suffering and really not know what God wants you to do about it? Do you think God would rather you just pray about it, til what, til the problem solves itself? Til the clouds spell out HELP THOSE PEOPLE in the sky? So I guess I could wonder and wonder, while the money sits in my bank account accruing for ME and giving nothing to my fellow man. Is that what God would want? No. Because God led me to seeing that picture in the first place, so that I could do something about it. God is already speaking, putting me into position for action. Shouldn’t that be enough? I have faith that it is.

  7. Frankly, I think it may be possible to look at photos of suffering and not know what God wants you to do about it. If you act before you hear from him, even with the very best intentions, it’s still about you. I agree that God showed you the picture and he wants you to do something about it. What if rather than your money, he wants you to sell everything you have, grab your passport and go to where ever that child is at? What then? Maybe it isn’t about your money or your time or even you.

    I am not trying to pick a fight here, I believe that the picture, and the whole scenaro, should be a wake up call for all of us, but rushing headlong into anything may not be the best answer, because it may not be God’s plan. Cry, grieve, mourn, get mad, give your money, yell, shout, write letters, give your time, give your love, give everything you have…but first pray…then listen…then act. That’a all I’m saying.

  8. Well, alrighty. If that works for you, cool. I don’t agree that when I make my decisions it would be because I didn’t wait to hear from God. I think that’s an assumption on your part. I don’t think God has to make all my decisions for me. Otherwise I would not have a brain capable of making decisions. I also think that anything we do, when it comes to helping others, is to the benefit of others and ourselves.

    I do not debate the validity of God and His choices. I guess when I feel moved to act, it comes both from me and beyond me. Nothing wrong with a little contemplation, unless the time for thinking has passed, and the time to act has arrived.

  9. Tracy in L.A. & thereisnogray – Thanks to both of you for excellent dialogue. This may sound patronizing, but I think your discussion reflects the essence of this issue and where most people fall: a recognition that action must be taken, followed by no action, wrong action, too little action, and occasionally very helpful action. I think you’re both right, therefore, for 3 reasons:

    1. No two people will respond to such needs the same way. We are all unique in our triggers and responses. Our personalities are different and we see needs differently. Furthermore, our callings are different. God has made us each to meet unique needs, or meet needs uniquely. The key is for us to respond in the way we are inspired, rather than to respond in the inspiration of someone else, or not to respond at all.

    2. We need to hear from God before we act, so our actions won’t be misguided. However, God is always speaking and directing, and we seldom follow. We make tons of excuses, including prayer. Meanwhile, people starve and suffer. Prayer is absolutely essential, and we ought to wait for direction in response to prayer, but perhaps we wait in denial when direction has already been provided. Maybe it doesn’t take God as long to respond as we think.

    3. If I don’t follow God’s direction in my response, and if I don’t “move toward Christ” in my desire to respond, I will exhaust all of my human resources – time, money, health, skills, passion – and have made little. The problem is always bigger than me. I am limited. I’m fine with giving it all away, even though I probably won’t do it, but it won’t be enough. God is not limited. If I move toward Christ, my efforts can be multiplied, spiritually, through him and the real needs, the real sources of problems can be addressed. If I feed someone, they will become hungry again. If I make them well, they will become ill again. If I clothe them, they will become cold again. Christ, through us and in spite of us, can do all of those things, and more . . . so much more.

  10. Do what you can with what you have.

    The burden needn’t be too great so long as everyone is doing their part. And the places where people have dropped the ball? God picks up their slack. The danger is that we become overwhelmed and add our misplaced guilt to that giant ball of pain that is this life.

    Are you warm? safe? is you belly full? Then be happy.

    Are you cold? threatened? hungry? God is in control, and there is purpose to your pain.

    Though He slay me, yet will I believe.
    -Job 13:15

    Then said his wife unto him, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die.”
    But he said unto her, “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”
    -Job 2:9-10

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