2%

I read yesterday that 2% of the world’s population own 50% of the world’s wealth. If you own a computer, you’re in that top 2% of the world’s richest people. That’s a little bit humbling, considering, that regardless of your current financial situation with today’s economy, if you own a car, or have a place to live, if you ate today, you’re one of the world’s richest. And as I started to consider this… how humbling… I’ve been born in a place in which, not everything was handed to me, but everything was available, I can aspire to whatever I want, I can dream. This may not sound like that big of a deal, but a child in deep poverty can’t dream.

When I was in Bogota, Colombia, I met a young boy who came to me and a friend of mine, David, who was translating. The little boy asked to be saved, then David began talking to him in Spanish, and after a while they prayed, and David turned to me in tears, because the little boy, no more than 5, had said that he wanted to know Jesus, so that he could be a man of God, and that God would provide for his family. There was hope for this little boy, who was already becoming a man because of circumstance. We were travelling and preaching in a rural mountaineous area, and I had met other boys 10-12 who already were the man of the family, struggling to help their mothers pay for food, living in shacks made of metal, nestled in the hills.

A child who is bound by poverty has no room to dream, they live day to day with worry and hunger. But we ask children all the time “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I would say this is one of America’s greatest treasure. Teaching children to dream. I remember as a child saying that I wanted to be a ballerina who traveled all around the world to perform, and then when I was there, I would tell the people about Jesus (I also wanted to be a missionary), I wanted to be the first person to land on Jupiter, and the first woman to become president (but even at 5 I was under the impression Hilary Clinton would beat me, so I decided she could be president instead of me). And those dreams weren’t just things I thought about, but things I aspired to. I took ballet classes, I read books, I played games, I asked questions. No one told me I couldn’t… It took me until I was 7 or 8 to realize one couldn’t even land on jupiter as it is a gaseous planet. I was a dreamer and people let me dream.

Now it’s possible for me to pursue any of those dreams. I can begin a political career, I can train a little longer and start auditioning for ballet companies, I can go to school to become an astronaut. I can be almost anything I want to be. And as I began to realize my blessings, for in truth, we are extremely blessed in many ways, I began to question “why me?” Out of the billions of lives I could have been chosen to live, why did I get the circumstances that I’ve gotten. I’ve asked this on many occasions when my blessings have been taken from me. But today I wonder why I am the one who drives a car, and lives in a good home, goes to school, and has a job. I’m an educated dreamer.

I think the real question isn’t “why?” because I can’t answer that, but what? What will you do with your wealth? Your knowledge? Your opportunity? Your blessings?

I’m not sure I believe in accidents, or coincidence, I may come closer to believing in fate, or in destiny. I believe things happen for a reason, to be sure. But in the event that you don’t, you have to wonder, why someone else lives in such extreme poverty, and you are so blessed. Perhaps, that very thought doesn’t move you to action as it does for me. But wouldn’t it be nice to think that each person has been blessed for a purpose? And how is it purposeful to gain ridiculous amounts of money and never have love? Being in the 2% richest, also means we have a great amount of power. Here, it may seem like we are struggling. Let’s face it, gas prices go up, everytime we blink. But compared to so much of the world… we have so much. And even when we have nothing, our streets are basically clean, there’s running water, buildings are standing, this isn’t a war zone, there’s still opportunity.

So I ask again, what? What are you willing to do with your dreams?

You have the opportunity to bless the world.

Check out Compassion International to see how you can make a huge difference in the life of a child in poverty.

Advertisements

1 Corinthians 10:23 Applied– Jesus Film vs. That ’70s Show.

I’m a workahaulic in the sense that I have this ridiculous ability to run myself so far into the ground that I can’t stop running so I dig myself a deep trench. In this trench is where I finally collapse into an insane pit of absolute mindlessness and brain frying possibilities. I first found this pit for it’s true nature over Spring Break. (I’ll go into all the reasons I shouldn’t be a workahaulic on a later date)

During the course of Spring Break I discovered my guilty pleasure of “That ’70s Show.” I think I watched 3 seasons in 5 days. I wasn’t really all that concerned about the habit because… it was Spring Break, so who cared? Now, if you’ve never seen That ’70s Show, it’s not something I would recommend. It’s completely immoral, I think it’s hilarious. (When I get into my pit, I find myself wanting to watch mindless TV that has nothing to do with my own life.) That ’70s Show has nothing to do with my own life whatsoever. Is it a good show? No. It’s really not. But was it really hurting anything? I didn’t think so, as long as I didn’t watch quite so much of it after Spring Break.

So spring break ended. I discontinued watching TV, in-fact, my mom disconnected our TV (which has only ever enabled us to watch Netflix or 5 channels). When summer came, though, I remembered that our netflix subscription was still very much in tact. I didn’t want to watch too much TV, just a little. So I would limit myself to about an hour worth of episodes on the nights I would watch TV. And some nights I watched Family Ties or the Cosby Show, or Macgyver. But some nights I wanted to watch That ’70s Show.

Everyone has that thing that is bad for them. I would say that one episode of a show isn’t really a bad thing. It’s not going to ruin you for life. But I got to thinking, that this was a really bad habit for me to have. I found that I had a change in behaivor when I watched the show. Not that I was suddenly an immoral person. But I was unfocused. I had this idea at the back of my head, that I wanted a fun life. I didn’t want to go off and do all the stupid things they did on TV, and deep down I knew I didn’t really want a stupid selfish life filled with worthlessness. Because I knew it was just that, worthless.

I found a copy of the Jesus film in my room, something I’d gotten at a missions convention or meeting. I decided that I would watch that instead of my regular television addiction. So for a week I watched parts of the Jesus Film, some nights I practically guilted myself into watching it, because some nights I would have rather watched something else (as the Jesus film isn’t very well done, and errs on the side of boring in some places and comical in others regarding the way the actor playing Jesus’ hair looks). So I thought to myself do I want to watch something about Jesus or do I want to watch something worthless?

And at first I wasn’t sure I needed to really guilt myself into it, but thinking again, when it really comes down to it, that really is the choice we’re making. Not really watching something Christian vs watching something Immoral… But every choice we make comes down to Jesus’ way or our way. And Jesus is the only way.

I’ve always been a bit of a scattered person, and I struggle to have focus. Watching TV doesn’t help me, I use it to escape, it unfocuses me, and I’m starting to realize that is regardless of the show I’m watching. Paul writes “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. – 1 Corinthians 10:23.

Sometimes the things standing between us and God aren’t deliberate sins but hidden things in our lives. What’s in your life that’s making you settle for something less? Maybe you want a fairytale romance, maybe you’re after a big career, maybe, like me sometimes you just wish for “the fun life.” When you’re watching TV or something. Anything can play into these struggles and desires in us. They distract us from Christ.

 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3.

Let us not sit idly doing nothing which seems like it would not affect us either way,  but we must run in such a way to get the prize! (1 Cor. 9:24) Our choices have a much bigger value than just one night choosing between That ’70s Show or the Jesus Film. Wouldn’t it be better to spend more time pursuing God than just letting time pass?

1 Corinthians 10:23 Applied: Music.

A lot of my friends are music junkies. I… am not really all that big of a music junkie. I sing, but I don’t play an instrument and when I did I played violin, and I wasn’t very good at all. Maybe being a geek of all things sound would change my opinions of music, as I’ve been told I’m not into anything high-quality. Though I think music tastes differ quite a lot.

Most of the time, I don’t know a lot of the bands or songs people are talking about. This is half due to my lack of musical intrigue, and half due to the fact that I rarely listen to the secular radio stations.

I used to think that music had no affect on me. I have an odd love for Michael Jackson music, all things disco, and an occasional Lady Gaga song. In their own way they are musical geniuses. It’s unique, it’s fun, you can party to the beat. I listen to secular radio or music when I get tired of the songs that play on the Christian radio. Let’s face it, there’s a lot more secular music than Christian, and I listen to the radio when I drive A LOT.

Not all songs that fail to mention Jesus or God or the Bible or hymns are evil. Don’t think I’m about to say that. I know some really conservative people would say that. Some of them think all music is from the devil. Or like Fez’s host family on That ’70s Show, they say that rap/disco/anything with a beat played backwards tells you to kill your parents, or worship the devil. But lyrics really do matter quite a lot. There’s a lot of songs I’ve listened to quite a few times and then realized they were saying some pretty horrible things. Most of Lady Gaga’s songs are fairly disturbing and I have to remind myself not to listen to them. A lot of pop music is extremely catchy. So when the Christian music seems to get all-too repetetive, I have to remind myself what I told a friend one day, I would rather have songs stuck in my head about Jesus, than about how badly drunk I am.

Now, there’s a lot of secular music out there that isn’t really bad… but it’s not really good either. Songs have about 3-5 minutes to convey to you any message that they want, that will stay with you for hours given the right opportunity. I find that when I choose to listen to Christian music and Christian radio I’m more focused. It’s not that non-Christian music will lead you down the wrong path and you’ll start partying and drinking your guts out and end up in rehab, it’s that listening to Christian music is helping you down  the right path. As the Apostle Paul writes:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. — 1 Corinthians 10:23

Christian music will most likely fill your head with songs of truth, of joy, and of Christ, while non-Christian music will just fill your head. There was a challenge for K-Love, I believe, to listen to only Christian music for 1 month, to see how it changed your life. If you’re not someone who listens to Christian radio, I challenge you to try it. It really does change your focus from a blurry outlook on life, to a more clear eye on Christ.