Thinking Out Loud

November 4, 2018

College and University Seniors Asking, “What’s Next?”

Filed under: Christianity, education — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:46 am

Three years ago I met with a woman who told me that her son started sending out resumés when he was only in his first year of a four year university program. He’d had offers already and still had years to go before graduation.

As it worked out, later in the same day I met with another woman whose son was on the precipice of college and doesn’t have a plan. He was definitely university material, but there wasn’t a clear vision of which school to pursue and what program to take.

In the latter case, we tend to expect that things will crystallize, at the very latest, by the end of the college experience. They may jump in with shaky feet, but they will tweak their course load as they experience academic disciplines that are foreign to the high school experience, and eventually come up with something that catapults them into the working world, or more specialized graduate school education.

But that scene doesn’t play out for everyone. What if you’re approaching the end of four years without a fixed plan? And what if you’re doing that surrounded by the type of people who were getting career offers while still an undergrad?

I follow the blog of such a university student. There’s a reference here to opportunity which may play a part. Or at least perceived opportunity. Some times it does seem as if all the breaks go to others.

James 4 - Do not say tomorrowHowever, I also recognize that there are times when the people who seem to have life all planned out need to remember to be humble, and perhaps write their plans in pencil, not in ink. (See the Bible passage at right.)

Anyway, here’s what the student in question wrote:

So, today I’ve been feeling pretty useless.

As my university life approaches its end, I’ve been starting to think about what I’m going to do afterwards and I’ve got nothing. It seems that everyone in my year is smarter than I am and more creative. Many of them are Type-A personalities that have a billion projects going on at once, many of them are far more traveled than I am, and on top of that most of them are prettier then me.

I was feeling this way, but then I started wondering about this idea of ‘useless’. Can a person be useless? I definitely feel like I’m falling behind everyone I know, but at the same time I can think of skills that I have and abilities that I can offer if given the chance. Or maybe I have to make those chances myself but I have no idea how to do that and I find the prospect overwhelming so let’s just forget that for now.

I find it helpful in these moments of self-doubt to know exactly what I’m doubting. It’s easy to say ‘I’m useless’ but if that’s not really how I feel then I’m not going to get anywhere. My problem isn’t feeling useless, it’s feeling unused. It’s a fear over lack of opportunity and an insecurity over a perceived lack of affirmation. I don’t feel like I can’t do anything, I feel like I haven’t done anything.

No one is useless. I don’t believe that anyone is made without something to offer. Sometimes we just don’t get the right chances, at least in a given moment. I’m sure there are things I could do and do amazingly but nobody’s asking for them right now.

If there’s anyone reading this who feels the same way, I hope that you stay strong and get your chance to shine. Correction: You already shine, I just hope that somebody notices. 

The last paragraph resonates with me on a personal basis. When I was at that stage of life, my role model was Joseph. Six years in the prison hoping somebody would notice; and especially that one person in particular would remember a promise. 

Did I ever have my resolution; a Joseph moment where I was reinstated or recognized or pressed into service somewhere? I’m not sure that it always works that way. I think we need to do everything that we can do before God will do everything he can do.

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September 15, 2016

Career Peaks and Valleys

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:37 am

life's journey

What will your life be remembered for?

Probably about 99% of the reading that I do is Christian literature in some form, but last night I finished reading the autobiography of a guy I went to school with, who went on to achieve fame in the music business. There was no faith element to this — but for one reference of him marrying a “practicing Christian’ — though I did once give him a Randy Stonehill album because I thought their styles were similar.

Some elements of the story were known to me, especially those from the early days, where there were mentions of people I knew including my next door neighbors. The story chronicles the highs and lows of a career that is subject to the fickle whims of everyone from record company execs to consumers. It also contained the predictable sidebar of financial gains and losses that seems so commonplace in narratives of this type.

Fortunately, after his singing career peaked, he was lucky enough to have a second life as a successful songwriter…

…Everyone’s life is a story and just because you grew up in the same part of the world doesn’t mean your journey is on a trajectory similar to your school friends. There is a branching out that takes place after graduation, and if you go on to college or university, another that occurs after that graduation ceremony. Our life paths are all unique.

The general expectation is that when one finally gets around to entering adulthood, they will work at a particular profession and continue there until retirement, right? Not any more. In the new, often turbulent economy, people may undergo career changes quite frequently, with the result that our lives are not too dissimilar to the actors and novelists and pop stars of the world…

…When I read something like this biography, I often wonder how my life would read bound between the pages of a hardcover book. My friend’s career peaked when he was still in his mid-twenties, but there are stories of people, like KFC founder Harlan Sanders, whose life really didn’t take off until he was 60.

What will your life be remembered for?


I wrote this when I was much younger from the perspective of an older man who nearing the end of life — or having a mid-life crisis — who wishes he had lived life differently. It was written with music, so the rhythm bends a bit to accommodate the lyrics, but hopefully just reading it doesn’t distract from the content.

The time has come to look around
Just before the daylight ends
Wish I could have accomplished more
The life I lived seems empty
Now I wish it had been full
What will my life be remembered for?

Some men have built great buildings
Some men have written songs
Others were heroes in a war
I’m not a writer or inventor
Nor a teacher or a preacher (so tell me)
What will my life be remembered for?

Some men have found diseases’ cures
Others ways to lighten loads
Some gave leadership, and more
Doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs
I’m neither one of these (so help me)
What’ll my life be remembered for?

Society bears the mark of ones
Who contributions made
To boldly go where no man’s gone before
Butchers, bakers, candle-makers
Libraries list their names (but not mine)
What’ll my life be remembered for?

Some men make it in Who’s Who
While others write on walls
While astronauts and pilots higher soar
The Guinness Book of Records
Shows what other men have done (but not me)
What will my life be remembered for?

If I could leave a painting
Or a book or an idea
Or maybe sail uncharted shores
Entertainers, living legends
Athletes, immortalized
No famous quotation have I to share
So what’ll my life be remembered for?

I’d like to be in pictures
And no introduction need
And give of my time, talents, wealth and more
The hour glass runs out of sand
No moments for me
A lonely poor man cries out loud
“What’ll my life be remembered for?”


Psalm 90: 12 Teach us to realize how short our lives are.
    Then our hearts will become wise.  (NIrV)

Luke 12:16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? (NIV)

Psalm 139:6b    … all the days ordained for me were written in your book  before one of them came to be.  (NIV)



 

February 29, 2016

Andy Crouch on the Strength/Authority Continuum

Filed under: books, Christianity, reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:45 am

Just when I was really comfortable thinking about strength vs. weakness as a linear continuum, Andy Crouch comes along with another dimension — a second dimension — that challenges my basic assumptions, and in his words, challenges a false choice or false dichotomy many of us held to.

Andy Crouch - Strong and WeakThe result is a vertical axis labeled “authority” and a horizontal axis labeled “vulnerability.” This in turn creates four different quadrants, and the one you want to strive for is “up and to the right” which he calls “flourishing.”

All that brings us to the title (and probably more importantly, the subtitle) Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk & True Flourishing (IVP, hardcover, March 2016).

There’s no spoiler here, the two-dimension model is presented at the outset. Much of the first half of the book defines each of the four quadrants. Vulnerability without authority is suffering. High authority with low vulnerability he calls exploiting. Low authority and low vulnerability he terms withdrawing.

But the big payoff is the second half of the book. Once you get inside the mindset of the paradigm — and an appreciation for it grows more enhanced the further you read — the rest of the narrative is powerful within the model’s context.

…I get to choose the books I want to review, and unless there’s a major disappointment, it’s already a given that I’m going to give a favorable review. So the answer here is a big ‘yes’ to those who ask, ‘Did the reviewer like the book?’ I found this very engaging reading.

But another question I seek to answer here is, ‘Who is this book for?’ In other words, I want readers to know who, in their sphere of influence, would be a likely candidate to be a recipient of a particular book. It’s hard for me to answer that succinctly, because I’ve been told I often think about things that nobody else considers.

In many respects, that is the nature of the titles which bear the InterVarsity Press (IVP) imprint. They publish books for thinking people. (Andy Crouch’s last two books, Culture Making and Playing God are also with IVP.)

Strong and Weak - Andy CrouchAs the following excerpt — from the unnumbered chapter between chapters five and six — shows, one certain target reader would be someone involved in leading others:

Leadership does not begin with a title or a position. It begins the moment you are concerned more about others’ flourishing than you are your own. It begins when you start to ask how you might help create and sustain the conditions for others to increase their authority and vulnerability together. In a world where many people simply withdraw into safety, where others are imprisoned in the most extreme vulnerability, where others pursue their own unaccountable authority, anyone who seeks true flourishing is already, in many senses, a leader.

If you’re looking for something that will challenge your assumptions and get you thinking about life differently, this is the title for you.

January 5, 2016

2015 Was Not Worth Remembering

Filed under: blogging, family — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:20 am

I’m told I don’t “write myself” into enough of this blog. Trust me, it’s not worth reading. It would just depress you. In reviewing 2015, would I mention the robbery? Our car was broken into in May — the day before my birthday — resulting in the loss of many things my wife held near and dear that were in her purse at the time. Or the 7 weeks work she lost this summer after falling down the stairs and wrecking her ankle? Or my litany of medical specialist appointments in the first half of the year? Or that the Christian bookstore we apparently own lost money just about every day we unlocked the doors? Or the fact we never got a vacation this year? (Honestly, not one night spent in anything but our own bed.) Or that increasingly, none of our cars are very driveable?

And then there’s the dark cloud that kinda hung over Christmas as it looked like my mother was in her last days. (She’s seems to have recovered, again, for now.)

For my kids however, a much better memory. Our oldest did a 4-month missions excursion in the first third of the year that took him to Denver and then Calgary and then Haiti and then back to Calgary. He ended the year landing a really nice, permanent job.

Our youngest got the lead in the college’s annual play in January and went on from there to have two of his best semesters yet after some rocky residence experiences in his freshman and sophomore years. So for both boys, 2015 weren’t so bad. (Yes, I know it should be wasn’t. Heck, the youngest is an English major.)

But basically, we’ve never been the Christmas newsletter type of family. We have a number of friends who do this; some still by snail mail and some electronically. Often, it all looks so perfect. The Wilkinson Family Newsletter would seem more like a desperate cry for help.

I honestly thought of just making stuff up one year. I think an imaginary life would be rather funny. Or we could introduce fictional characters: ‘Merwin is finally out of rehab and Jocelyn has decided she’s going to keep the baby after all.’

But right now, I can’t see myself writing humor. You have to be in the mood, and when you’ve just spent two weeks in the middle of family crisis, you just can’t shake it off overnight. You need time to heal; like maybe all of 2016.

 

November 21, 2015

For The University Student Looking for a Window into the Next Chapter

Filed under: education — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:32 am

Today I met with a woman who told me that her son started sending out resumés when he was only in his first year of a four year university program. He’s had offers already and still has years to go before graduation.

Later in the day I met with another woman whose son is on the precipice of college and doesn’t have a plan. He’s definitely university material, but there isn’t a clear vision of which school to pursue and what program to take.

In the latter case, we tend to expect that things will crystallize, at the very latest, by the end of the college experience. They may jump in with shaky feet, but they will tweak their course load as they experience academic disciplines that are foreign to the high school experience, and eventually come up with something that catapults them into the working world, or more specialized graduate school education.

But that scene doesn’t play out for everyone. What if you’re approaching the end of four years without a fixed plan? And what if you’re doing that surrounded by the type of people who were getting career offers while still an undergrad?

I follow the blog of such a university student. There’s a reference here to opportunity which may play a part. Or at least perceived opportunity. Some times it does seem as if all the breaks go to others.

James 4 - Do not say tomorrowHowever, I also recognize that there are times when the people who seem to have life all planned out need to remember to be humble, and perhaps write their plans in pencil, not in ink. (See the Bible passage at right.)

Anyway, here’s what the student in question wrote:

So, today I’ve been feeling pretty useless.

As my university life approaches its end, I’ve been starting to think about what I’m going to do afterwards and I’ve got nothing. It seems that everyone in my year is smarter than I am and more creative. Many of them are Type-A personalities that have a billion projects going on at once, many of them are far more traveled than I am, and on top of that most of them are prettier then me.

I was feeling this way, but then I started wondering about this idea of ‘useless’. Can a person be useless? I definitely feel like I’m falling behind everyone I know, but at the same time I can think of skills that I have and abilities that I can offer if given the chance. Or maybe I have to make those chances myself but I have no idea how to do that and I find the prospect overwhelming so let’s just forget that for now.

I find it helpful in these moments of self-doubt to know exactly what I’m doubting. It’s easy to say ‘I’m useless’ but if that’s not really how I feel then I’m not going to get anywhere. My problem isn’t feeling useless, it’s feeling unused. It’s a fear over lack of opportunity and an insecurity over a perceived lack of affirmation. I don’t feel like I can’t do anything, I feel like I haven’t done anything.

No one is useless. I don’t believe that anyone is made without something to offer. Sometimes we just don’t get the right chances, at least in a given moment. I’m sure there are things I could do and do amazingly but nobody’s asking for them right now.

If there’s anyone reading this who feels the same way, I hope that you stay strong and get your chance to shine. Correction: You already shine, I just hope that somebody notices.

If you want to leave a comment today — especially some encouragement — you can do so at the original blog post.

November 2, 2013

What Have You Accomplished This Year?

Filed under: blogging — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:43 am

I was taking Michael Hyatt’s annual reader survey when I hit this question:

What are you the most proud of having achieved in the last 12 months?

Uh…say that again?  I stared at the screen and was tempted to type “n/a” as I had on a previous question. It’s been a busy, stressful, hectic, frustrating year in many respects, but the question was framed in a very positive way. In all the running, chasing, doing, striving…surely there was something I could type the box to answer Question 20.

blank calendarMaybe I hadn’t set proper goals.

That’s because I entered the year in a state of stress, chaos, confusion, frustration; and never really sat down with a blank slate to map out a plan of where I wanted to be, for example, by November.

Or maybe I was so busy being the hamster running around inside the wheel that I never stopped to do whatever it is hamsters do when they contemplate the big picture.

Or maybe there are some macro things happening right now that I’m not seeing clearly because I am too busy focused on the micro, or focused on things that can be quantified when the quantities don’t look so great.

So I ask you:

What are you the most proud of having achieved in the last 12 months?


I answered the question with something about feeling gratified that I had been able to expand my reach and influence. That’s true of my 1:1 dealings with people and the places where this blog goes, as a whole; although again, if quantified, readership was actually down slightly this year. More than slightly this summer.

But then to brighten my day yesterday, this interview got published on a respectable media platform. So maybe life ain’t so bad.


When you have a minute, this old-school blog still has a blogroll, which lately is considered quite uncool. However, for a limited time, I’m revealing many of the news sources that contribute to the Wednesday Link List. Scroll down the page and look for the section labeled, All The News All The Time.

July 4, 2012

Wednesday Link List

From the Sojourners Magazine slide show and report on the Wild Goose Festival


With an over 70% U.S. readership, I don’t have a lot of high hopes for record high stats on the 4th of July, but here goes anyway.  Lots of Wild Goose Festival coverage here, too.  If you’d like more links, there was a Weekend Link List here on Saturday.

  • So why does Mark’s gospel begin with a quote attributed to Isaiah when it’s actually taken from the book of Malachi?
  • Small-town pastor Chuck Warnock did a graduation address to a Christian high school that’s worth reading in full, but if you can’t take the time, at least check out The Monkey Experiment illustration.
  • Author Cathleen Falsani (Belieber) goes off the grid (not by choice) at the Wild Goose Festival and then comes back on the grid (via Sojourners) to share her experiences.  “The revolution is not dead.”
  • Speaker Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove reflects on the festival, an event he sees in a long line of camp meeting culture.
  • He was the only explicitly non-religious speaker invited to the Wild Goose Festival.  Bryan Parys travels with Chris Stedman.
  • Ian reflects on the theologically relaxed atmosphere, while a Unitarian Universalist fills us in on the LGBTQ issues that were raised, and more details on the music.  There are many more reports — use Google Blog Search — to help you get the picture…
  • Have your say: It’s Open Forum Week at Internet Monk.
    • Monday: Open Forum for Pastors
    • Tuesday: Open Forum for Readers around the World
    • Wednesday: Open Forum on America (Independence Day Special)
    • Thursday: Open Forum for Mission Workers
    • Friday: Open Forum for Bloggers and Writers
  • Thomas Kinkade’s wife and Thomas Kinkade’s girlfriend are in a battle over the artist’s fortune.  (There’s one of his works in one out of every twenty homes in the U.S.) Sixty-six million is at stake.
  • Apparently Church Executive magazine — it’s usually racked next to Newsweek — thinks the new generation of pastors isn’t speaking out on national issues. As one of those mentioned, Pete Wilson responds.
  • Randy Alcorn has a three-in-one post with an update on Steve Saint, a discussion of the problem of men not being readers, and a related reblog of a Russell Moore piece on men and online addictions.
  • Author Timothy Paul Jones fills us in a little on some of the books that did not make it into our New Testament.
  • Brave New World Department: The first genetically modified humans have been born. Yes. Only in America.
  • A Christian writer gives a thoughtful and thorough review of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, albeit with a few spoilers.
  • Okay, we do have a link that’s tied to the 4th of July: Chad Hall looks what happens when patriotism comes to church. “Conservative Christians rightly resist religious syncretism …but we fail to see that equal and greater harm comes from the syncretism of Christianity and nationalism.”
  • Medical Complications Department: “The medicine he had to take as a child to fight his cancer had eventually caused his heart to wear out… he had to have a heart transplant…[years later]…the medications Chuck had to take to maintain his new heart had given him cancer.” Read J.’s tribute to his friend.
  • Dan Kimball has a new book and a new website coming. Here’s the 411 on his new project: Adventures in Churchland.
  • And Mike Breen (Lifeshapes) has a new blog. A good place to learn more about what he and 3DM is doing with church-planters is to start with this 5-minute video.
  • Website Discovery of the Week: HarvestUSA — Proclaiming Christ as Lord to a Sexually Broken World.
  • Mark Sandlin explains why he, a pastor, is taking three months off from attending church.  “I want to understand what it is that the ‘spiritual but not religious’ like about not being in church AND I want to understand what I, a life long churchgoer, miss about not being in church.”
  • It’s been a year since we introduced you to Aimee Byrd, Housewife Theologian who is still blogging regularly and living proof that not all radical Calvinists are male. (Hence, no specific link here.)
  • Yes, I know just about everybody else has blogged this by now…but here’s the bacon graphic… Everyday Theology had the best intro: “If you live in 17th century Holland, it’s fine to summarize your theology using flowers. But in 21st century America, we prefer our theology a little meatier, and saltier, and greasier. So forget the five points of TULIP, here is the new creed for the Five Strip Baconist!”

October 7, 2011

Leaving Life on a High Note

While the United States political system operates with two very dominant political parties, here in Canada, our provincial (state) and federal legislatures and parliament are usually comprised of representatives from three or more parties.  Even as I type this on Thursday night, votes are being counted in my home province to determine who lead us and under a parliamentary system, the premier (governor) is the one whose party nets the most representatives.

At the federal level this spring, the unthinkable happened.  While our national political scene has been dominated by the Conservative party and the Liberal party.  But the third party, the New Democratic Party (NDP) was fronted by an affable — no, make that downright loveable — guy named Jack Layton, who, after all the votes were counted,  became the first NDP leader to lead the official opposition.

But then, the unthinkable happened again.  Cancer struck Jack Layton down rather swiftly at age 61, and instead of seeing what he might have done in the House of Commons, instead, we watched his state funeral.

I mention all that because I was struck by a number of similarities with the death of Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs.  Both very likeable or even loveable guys, both struck down at the peak of their personal accomplishments; Jobs at only 56 years of age.

Life can be short.

Life can end suddenly.

And I can’t help think of a third person, a somewhat ‘once upon a time’ character that Jesus mentions in a parable, though when scripture says, ‘a certain man,’ though the general hermeneutic approach is to take this as hypothetical, I believe the omniscient Christ could have been drawing on a real character or a composite.


   Luke 12 (NIV) 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

   20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

Another guy at the top of his game.  Planning to expand in one sense, but planning to coast a bit — we might call it entering some years of profit-taking — in another.  But he never gets to enjoy his riches or see what happens next. 

And into the shock of that sudden crisis, Jesus interjects another issue: the man seems to have no succession plan.  There’s been no preparation for the next chapter, and suddenly it comes upon him.

Maybe the guy in the story has the wrong priorities, after all the parable comes after this:

15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he follows it up with his own prescription for how to relate to material things:

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

   27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

One pastor we listen to online ends each sermon with, “Now go out and build the kingdom.”   That’s what we’re here to do.  Political empires will come and go and business fortunes will be amassed and then lost.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Jack Layton was admirable in Canadian politics as also was Steve Jobs in American business.  It would seem we lost both men all too soon. But let’s use the shortness of their lives as a reminder to make each day count, and to measure what ‘count’ means with eternity in view.

Now go out and build the kingdom.

October 1, 2011

Personal Note: Thanks for Your Prayers

Filed under: personal — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:29 pm

I just wanted to add a short note here to thank those of you who were praying, for your prayers and encouragement.  The medical test results were good. 

However, it could have gone either way, I suppose, and I wondered if today I would be writing an entirely different blog post.  I had already determined that if I was writing something different, I would enclose the short text which follows.  I realize most of you are familiar with this, but there may be someone reading this for the first time, so I’m going ahead with it anyway, because there may be someone here right now who needs this…

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.

Here is another version which is actually the text of a plaque which intersperses scripture between lines of the text…

Cancer is so limited.
Yet in all these things

It cannot cripple love, it cannot alter hope.
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

It cannot corrode faith, it cannot destroy peace,
For I am persuaded that neither death, or life…

It cannot kill friendship, it cannot suppress memories,
Nor principalities nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, depth,

It cannot silence courage, it cannot invade the soul.
Nor any created things, shall be able to separate us from the love of God,

It cannot steal eternal life, it cannot conquer the spirit.
Which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39.

more available here

January 15, 2011

Winning the Life Lottery

The very fact you’re reading this on a computer places you among the wealthiest of the seven billion or so people who inhabit the planet.  While the evening news brings reports of devastation in Haiti or political uprising in Tunisia, most of you are enjoyed a much less stressful week.

I frequently visit The Ad Collector, a blog which features the best of advertising campaigns from around the world, with a special focus on adverts for non-profits and public service organizations.  A month ago they featured a Swedish series of billboard-type display ads  under the caption, The Lottery of Life which juxtaposed life in Sierra Leone, Darfur, Palestine and The Phillipines with life in Sweden, with the aim of getting people to visit a website sponsored by Save The Children. (If you have high-speed internet, enter your name and spin the wheel to see how things might have worked out differently.)

But is it just a spin of the wheel that you ended up in the UK, or the US, or Canada, or New Zealand, or some other less troubled place? I’m not a huge fan of this poem by Roy Lesson, founder of Dayspring cards — I can’t believe I’m actually posting it —  because they tend to plaster it all over so many pieces of merchandise they create, including seasonal variants, but if you believe in the sovereignty of God, your geographic placement has to be more than just the random spinning of a giant wheel…

Just think,
you’re here not by chance,
but by God’s choosing.
His hand formed you
and made you the person you are.
He compares you to no one else.
You are one of a kind.
You lack nothing
that His grace can’t give you.
He has allowed you to be here
at this time in history
to fulfill His special purpose
for this generation.

-Roy Lessin

Notice I did not say, “if you had been born somewhere else;” because some would argue that then you would not be you. Nonetheless, you are a product of your environment generally, and its geography in particular. This ought to fill you with much gratitude to God, especially in light of these pictures which remind you of the conditions in all the other places around the world.   Conditions that exist right here, right now, even as you sip your beverage in a comfortable chair reading these lines…

So what is our response?

Photo captions: Hold your mouse over each picture for the caption; or, respectively the pictures are Sierra Leone, Darfur, Palestine and The Philippines.

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