Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dangerous Benediction

Craig Groeschel shared this benediction at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this past summer. I think it was originally a Franciscan benediction:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Being Nice Freaks People Out

by Curtis

Why do acts of kindness freak people out? Why is it that people think they're getting Punk'd when a stranger offers to help them?

Watch this video from This guy offers to pay for gas for total strangers. Their reactions are hilarious. What a great idea. My favorite part is that there were no strings attached; the guy buying the gas didn't say, "Oh, and by the way, here's a tract that proves that dinosaurs were on the Ark...all Bible references KJV".

No. He didn't pull the bait and switch. His only instructions are, "Pay it forward. Do something nice for somebody else."

If this video compels you to commit some random acts of kindness, here are a few ideas of things to do:

--Offer to help an elderly person with their groceries in the Wal-Mart parking lot
--At the drive thru, pay for the person's order behind you
--Go buy some inexpensive flowers. Walk around and hand them out in a busy public place.

These are just the first few ideas that I could think of. What random acts of kindness do you like to do? Leave a comment with your favorites.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

by Curtis

I honestly thought it would take me a week or two to finish Same Kind of Different as Me, but I just couldn't put it down.

Last night around 2:00a.m., I finished reading this true story of two men's unlikely friendship. Ron Hall, one of the authors of this book, is a high-end art dealer in Fort Worth, Texas. Denver Moore, who also authored the story, is a rough and tumble homeless man. Making friends is the last thing he wants, especially with some rich white guy. These guys end up meeting each other and a strange and exciting friendship begins. You really won't believe it unless you read it yourself.

I picked up Same Kind of Different as Me on recommendation from several people who have great tastes in books. S.K.O.D.A.M. is a story of injustice, hope, suffering, and trust that will hook you from the first few pages. Each brief segment of the story is narrated by Ron or Denver, each in his own voice. These two come to realize how the rich and poor need each other and that everyone has value. After all, aren't we all made in the image of God?

At the risk of sounding like James Lipton, host of Inside the Actors' Studio, I'll keep my praise brief and to the point: this book is phenomenal. If you are interested in issues related to social justice or if you just like a heartwarming true story to read over the weekend, go out and buy this book immediately. I promise as soon as you read it, you'll be recommending it to someone else.

***Important Note: When you read this book, DO NOT--DO NOT--DO NOT--look at the pictures in the middle section of the book until you have finished the entire book...they will ruin the ending if you look at them before you're done. Thanks, Aaron for giving me the heads up.***

Saturday, October 4, 2008


by Barry

If you spend time at Grace Community Church (where Curtis and I attend), you're bound to hear an odd expression thrown around a lot. We talk often about people getting "wrecked." And the weird thing is that we talk about it like it's a good thing.

Why would we want to "wreck" people? Doesn't that seem kind of... well, mean?

Yes, I suppose it does a little. :) But let me explain where this phrase comes from...

In the suburbs, we are constantly bombarded with the idea that the world is about ME! Advertisements, malls, television... even our restaurants and coffee shops. They all feed us this message: "I deserve to have things my way! It's my right!"

And as a result, we all start to believe it. "You know? I do deserve that new TV. It's my right to have an uninterrupted internet connection." Over time, we become little "me-machines," and the outside world gets dimmer and dimmer.

Being "wrecked," however, changes all that. When someone gets "wrecked," the outside world comes into sharp focus. Seeing things like poverty or hunger or injustice messes you up. It wrecks you. Sitting in the home of a slum-dweller, hearing the story of a homeless man, getting a hug from an AIDS orphan... These are all "wrecking-ball" experiences.

Once you've had one, it's impossible to think that the world is all about you. Because it's obviously not.

After being wrecked, the suburbs start to seem a little unreal. Old pleasures don't have the same allure. Getting more "stuff" seems a little pointless. After being wrecked, true fulfillment can only come from pursuing God's dreams for the world... by acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

So, at GCC, we "wreck" people, and constantly look for ways to get even more wrecked ourselves.

Because until we get wrecked, we can never change the world...

Friday, October 3, 2008

World On Fire

by Curtis

Many of you have seen Sarah McLachlan's music video for her song "World on Fire", and it gets me every time. If you haven't seen it, watch the video above.

What gets me about this video is how much of the stuff we buy and pay for is completely unnecessary. When you look at your monthly budget, how much of it goes towards things that are superfluous? How much of it goes to help other people?

I don't bring up those questions to guilt anyone, but I think we can all live our lives with fewer things. Barry's most recent post really got me thinking about how much I waste compared to how much I give back. I believe we can live our lives more simply in order to free up resources so we can help others--not to hoard and keep for ourselves.

So think about it. What can be cut from your monthly spending? Do you have a $50/month line-item for Starbucks? Maybe it's time to reconsider a few non-essentials.