Christmas is Coming

First of all, let me say my family is awesome. I think we are going to go all out this Christmas and do something fairly spectacular. I think, we are going to give a big donation to something like building a clean water well or sponsoring a family or something, rather then giving gifts. It’s a great step, one I’d like to encourage others to take.
So, within reason, I’d like to try and highlight some giving alternatives for folks over the next few weeks. I know your maybe starting your Christmas shopping already, so please be patient and consider giving in honor of your loved ones rather then giving them more stuff they don’t need.

To start, check out Christmas is Not Your Birthday over at CoolPeopleCare. And if your ambitious and want to spread some internet buzz put the banner up on your site by doing this.
Put a corner banner on your blog by putting this html in your post:

If you need help knowing how to put html in a post just ask.

Tis the Season friends.

“Least of these” ≠ “unsaved”

Least of These BannerI felt it was necessary to address a common misconception that is brought up in the church these days. The thing that is so dangerous about it is that we use religious language and inferences of Bible verses, but we do it in a way that gives us a dangerously inaccurate perception of the people we interact with.
We use the language of “Least of these” a lot in the church, especially when we are talking about “ministry” and “service.” This is not bad wording as it’s the language Jesus used when he told the Sheep in a parable why they were allowed to enter into His kingdom:
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Primarly we say the “Least of these” when refer to people in need, whether that be the homeless, poor, low-income, etc. This seems like a good interpretation since Jesus himself describes the least of these as people with real physical needs: Hungry, Thirsty, Needing clothing, Sick, in Prison.
I think having concern in the church about the “least of these” is an extremely important and worthwhile use of our time. In fact it appears to be the longest and most direct words of Jesus about Heaven and Hell, which seems like it should get some attention in our after-life focused churches. (I met a guy in Atlanta who had a t-shirt with a picture of Jesus on it with the title: Angry Jesus and the quote: FEED THE POOR OR GO TO HELL! which seems like a pretty good paraphrase of Matthew 25 if you ask me.)

The misconception, the danger, and the wayward understanding I hear way too often in the church is an equating of the “Least of these” as “unsaved.” No where in the Matthew 25-where our language of the “least of these” comes from- is there any mention or inference that the people whom the sheep provided for where somehow “unsaved.” If anything Jesus says they are “brothers of mine,” implying they are part of the kingdom if they are anything.
Yet, in our churches today we talk about “ministries” and we tie so closely the idea of providing for folks physical needs with that of “saving people.” We create this idea that when you go to the soup kitchen you need to “tell people about Jesus,” as if they are unsaved, unchurched, and in need of your gospel. Let me make clear, there are a lot of people who need to know the love of Jesus, but there are just as many in the church pews and suburbs around you as there are in the homeless shelters and housing projects. Just because someone can’t make ends meet to put a roof over their head does not mean they some how do not know God or haven’t experienced the Holy Spirit.

We need to stop treating the “least of these” as “unsaved” and start treating them like the sister’s and brother’s in Christ that they are, and even more treating them as the Kings and Queens that they are, since according to Jesus, “Their’s is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Conclusion: Don’t stop the soup kitchen and homeless shelters, we need to continue providing for our sibling. If anything we probably need to step it up a couple notches since the most tangible way you can interact with Jesus nowadays is not in a church service or a song, it’s feeding him and clothing him (“When I was hungry you gave me something to eat.”).
What we need to do is stop treating “service” projects as some sort of charity, hand-out, that gives us the jollies, as if we are stepping down from our place of superiority to help these helpless people (Cause that is straight-up garbage).

Whose giving thanks?

I usually wait till after the holiday passes before I go into a critical assessment of the festivities. I figured this year would be a good chance to try and encourage folks to consider things before the holiday rolls around.
I’ll start by saying that I plan on driving home and spending time and eating a big meal with my family on Thursday. Whether that’s mainly because of the convenience of us all having that time off, or because of our devout acknowledgement of the historical events is up for debate.

I guess when I think about the historical implications of a holiday like Thanksgiving I’m much more disturbed then I am thankful for it. The idea of the pilgrims and native people of this land sitting down together in peace and sharing a meal is a beautiful and wonderful thing, I just worry it ignores so much more of the history.
You see if my history book is correct (they must have torn out this section in my middle school), the atrocities of that time far out weigh any peaceful meal together. Massacares, forced removal, slavery, genocide, stolen land; this is the overwhelming story of the “settling” of this land. Stolen land. Stolen land.

To this day we live on stolen land. Thanksgiving is a difficult holiday for me, because I think it’s celebration without regard for the terrible injustices, is one of the deep wounds of our society that has never healed. You live on stolen land.

I know for me sitting at my family’s table on Thursday, I won’t be able to solve the problem, or right the wrong of the land. I can however acknowledge, and I can be diligent in thinking of ways to return, to make amends, to right wrongs.

I live on stolen land.

Top Corner Banners

I like the little triangular banners you can put in the top corners of your website and blog. I’ve decided I would start a post collecting those. Since I couldn’t find a lot I’ll start with a couple and encourage people to make more for the websites (particularly humanitarian and non-profits) that you like.

Let’s be advocates through our blogs.

You can read about how to put this banner on your site here.

rightIf you want this banner for your website (and get it to show up for just Internet Explorer users) then check this out.

The Consequences of Buying Everything

An interview with Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters, about Buy Nothing Day last year. (sorry the beginning is a repeat of the commercial from yesterday).

The video is about 5 minutes long, but quite interesting

My favorite part of the Video:
“If somebody want’s to buy their kid an elmo doll, what’s the harm in that?”

“You make it sound so nice. But you know, if we consume 86% and we leave only 14% for the other 5 billion people on the planet, how do you think it makes them feel?

Forget about our kids, what about their kids?

Free Photo Toolkit for Windows picture viewing

I don’t usually do this but it was worth telling others about.
Giveaway of the Day is a site that gives you a free software selection available for download each day. Today is Photo Toolkit 1.5 which allows you to edit pictures within Windows picture viewer (the thing that comes up usually when you double click a picture). You don’t know how often I want to edit a picture just a little to crop, fix red eye, etc. but don’t bother because I have to open a big program like Picasa or Gimp.
Anyways, I thought there are a few people who might enjoy this program.

Download here. (Today only by the way)

Christmas is Not Your Birthday

Every year the holiday season comes around and I quietly cry to myself about how terribly consumeristic and self-centered it all seems to be. I’ll post something here and there, but mostly I worry about ruining people’s mood and being a pessimist.

Well, this holiday season I’m going to try and talk about some of this and point out some alternative options for the Holiday’s that you might want to consider.

Today, I thought you should check out CoolPeopleCare and their new “Christmas is Not Your Birthday” Campaign. Sign up for their email and take the five minutes a day it takes to read it and respond.