I would like to suggest that the best parts of our human nature can be seen in sacrifice or surrender. A mother sacrificing her time for her child, a teacher devoting her afternoons to help students off-the-clock. These are truly our most incredible moments as a species: moments of unmerited kindness. Goodness. Virtue. Nobility. Grace. Morality. These are the truly remarkable moments. Perhaps our current economic climate of debt needs a fresh perspective on worth and value. Maybe our monetary crisis indicates a broader loss of perspective.
We live in the land of plenty, the land of milk and honey, where the lottery of birth has given us the advantage of education, of wealth, and of opportunity. Ammon Hennessy puts it this way, “You came into the world armed to the teeth with… the weapons of privilege.” A trip south of the border can be an incredible reminder. We are living in the land of entitlement, one of the wealthiest nations in the history of mankind. And yet, money cannot buy us the true wealth of happiness, or peace, or of a deeper form of a meaningful life.
Perhaps the current climate of uncertainty would be the appropriate time to ask the question: what are we aiming for? Our technological achievements as a species are impressive. Our cities, our advancements in flight and our iPhones are all fairly remarkable. But there is nothing heroic about my cell phone. There is nothing sacrificial about it. Where is the song that’s worth singing? What is our measure of success? Renown psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl says that “success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as a byproduct of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”
Maybe the fix is not the money. Maybe two and a half hours in a theatre isn’t enough time for a hero to be born. Maybe it takes a lifetime- a lifetime like John M. Perkins. John Perkins is a man who devoted his life to those around him in simple and profound ways. He was quick to forgive, quick to utilize resources to help those in need. He has been a tireless civil rights worker who has endured beatings, harassments, and even prison for what he believes. With the help of his wife, Vera Mae, and a few others, he founded a health center, leadership development program, thrift store, low-income housing development and training center in his hometown of Mendenhall, Mississippi. His is a story of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of patience. He endured the suffering, holding on to a cause greater than himself.
John Perkins has is a song I want to sing. A song of a great man, the story of a legend. How do you replicate this goodness? Do you monetize it? Do you subsidize it? No. It’s bigger than Washington, it’s bigger than Wall Street. And it looks better than Hollywood. His is the story of a hero, a song of hope. His is a story that reminds me of a goodness beneath the system. Though Perkins was a devout Christian, he was quick to point out that this goodness is bigger than stale religion. Mr. Perkins once said that “many congregations do nothing but outsource justice.” John Perkins said it right- you can’t outsource justice. You can’t farm out goodness to someone else. Your life is yours alone. Those decisions are yours to make.
Great comments from Jon Foreman – lead singer of Switchfoot in his recent blog.
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Recently I spoke at our church on the subject of The Holy Spirit from our statement of faith:
The Holy Spirit has been sent from heaven to glorify Christ and to apply his work of salvation. He convicts sinners, imparts spiritual life and gives a true understanding of the Scriptures. He indwells all believers, brings assurance of salvation and produces increasing likeness to Christ. He builds up the Church and empowers its members for worship, service and mission.
As we only had one week we zoomed in on the bold bit – looking at how the Spirit works in the life of the believer. We focused on Ephesians 5:18-21 which is one long sentence in Greek with a command and the outworkings of that command – what the command looks like. Paul shows what being filled with the Spirit looks like – godly character.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery [extreme indulgence, wild living]. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Here’s the talk and a link to download it.
And here’s the wordle:
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