Have you seen Invisible Children? I have yet to get my hands on a copy of the film, and I'm not actually sure how to go about doing so. I called both video stores in Sparta and neither one is carrying it. Over the past couple months I have heard it mentioned, but I have yet to engage with anyone about the film. While doing some reading on JR's blog, I wound up stumbling across the website for the movie/mission/movement surrounding the Invisible Children of northern Uganda (For fun, this is the path that I went down to find this site: A>B>C>D>E. "Funny" sometimes how we come across things.)
Sadly, I knew very little about this long standing humanitarian crisis before doing more reading on it tonight. Very brief summary of the situation: Children in northern Uganda are being abducted in the middle of the night by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a terrorist organization that is doing anything but representing the Lord. Young children are raped, made into sex slaves, forced to become soldiers in the army and trained to brutally kill others. Some escape, few in fact. Most do well to get one meal a day. To avoid abduction, some children pilgrimage to shelters in the night, where they find sanctuary.
This article helps you to step into northern Uganda to better understand the atrocities that are stealing children's lives. (Learn more about World Vision, a well established international organization helping to meet the tangible needs of a devastated world in the name of Jesus Christ.)
This article, from Chrisitianity Today, is also very informative. It addresses the ways in which we can offer help:
"There are a lot of sympathetic [members of Congress], but no significant leadership to move the issue to the point where there are congressional hearings, and hearings are one of the first important steps to focus administration and congressional attention on the severity of the issue," said Rory Anderson, senior Africa policy adviser for World Vision. "Hearings will not happen unless people contact their members of Congress and demand it."You can contact your congressmen or senators specifically on this issue HERE.
The people most familiar with LRA terrorism agree that the best hope for ending the carnage is putting it on the radar screen of the Western world.
Akello Lwanga, a physician, spent two years treating LRA victims at an internally displaced persons camp in Pader. "If Americans saw this on TV as often as they see the Middle East," he said, "it would stop."
"People need to see what's happening in northern Uganda," said U.S. ambassador to Uganda Jimmy Kolker. "The suffering of these children is unimaginable. Absolutely, it is important for the public to know about this as a step toward bringing it to an end."
Ordinary Christians can help stop LRA terrorism. Presenting the issue to churches, continuing in intercessory prayer over the conflict, donating to Christian agencies that work with Ugandan children, and pressing government officials for action all work to save LRA victims.
Michael Oruni, director of Uganda's Children of War Rehabilitation Center, told CT he was urging Christians to get involved: "Imagine your own child taken away, being raped as your family is killed in front of your eyes. If it were you, what would you feel like?
"Kids in Uganda—kids just like yours—are taken every night and enslaved, raped, mutilated, murdered. You can make a difference. Talk to your government. Help us."
There is also this awesome pilgrimage called Global Night Commute going on in remembrance and honor of the invisible children who try to escape danger in northern Uganda. Check it out.
As of late, the power and influence of the television and the internet has been on my mind.
One of the more recent movies that I have seen was Good Night and Good Luck, a film based on the "Red Scare" of the 50s and the influence that Edward R. Murrow, a CBS television personality, had on bringing it to light in America. The film was just another billboard along the highway that's made me think about the power of media, or access to global information more precisely.
Towards the end of the flick, Murrow had this to say about the power of the television (while he not so subtly derided the increasing lean towards the tv's entertainment appeal rather than its other capabilities) :
"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, and yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights and a box."
I think he was on to something. Of course nowadays we have a million and one channels to choose from, a third of which are news channels. And that's just the telly. We have the internet now, with the influence of the television not even holding a candle to its power.
But what do we do with all of this? We have the world at our fingertips.
As one who is trying to look at this through the lens of experiencing God's presence in the world, I think that the television and the internet are amazing tools. I wouldn't have this creative outlet without the internet, for pete's sake. But having these tools that illuminate the realities of the world (with certain biases for each media vehicle of course) lead us to a greater responsibility than any previous generation, in my opinion. "To him who has been given much, much is expected." We are not to turn a blind eye to the orphaned and the poor and the exploited and the peoples of the world who we now know have not yet experienced redemption of their lives through Jesus Christ. The fact that we are aware of the atrocities in the Darfur region, or the hungry in east Africa, or the persecution of Christians in North Korea, Eritrea or Colombia, or the AIDS-ridden southern Africa or the countless needs of the Hurrican Katrina victims cannot be ignored.
The one thing we cannot do is lose hope. Because we are exposed to so much suffering in this world, I hope we do not stop and say, "Well the need is just too big, I will only worry about what's going on around me." Don't get me wrong, I want to see the needs of those around me and we need to be watching for the needs right around us. But, let's not forget about "the ends of the earth," which we now are so much more aware of than the writers of the Holy Scriptures ever could have imagined.
C.S. Lewis often causes me to stop, place the book down and ponder his writings more often than nearly any other writer I enjoy. In the second to last chapter of Mere Christianity, Lewis discusses the process of sanctification in the Christian life. Those who have decided to give their lives over to the lordship of Christ are being changed into new beings. Our character is being redeemed. But Lewis offers this question, "If Christianity is true why are not all Christians obviously 'nicer' than all non-Christians?" The reality is that we don't change over night, although some of us would like to and some of us would like others to :) God became a man (Jesus) to give his life so that we could be turned into his sons and daughters, "not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature. Of course...there may be a period, while the wings are just beginning to grow...and at that stage the lumps on the shoulders...may even give it an awkward appearance."
Many would point at a Christ-follower and say that they don't see anything in his or her life that seems to reflect the character of loving God. This is fair, because thousands of Christians settle for less and resist the change that God may want to do in their lives. I'm often tempted to resist it. I don't want to get hung up on hypocrisy or luke-warm Christian living. I do want to get to Lewis' final point in the chapter. While it is the responsibility of Christians to love as he loved so that all men will know we are his disciples, ultimately, we are accountable for our own decisions in relation to eternity. Lewis says it this way: "What can you ever really know of other people's souls--of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbours or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anaesthetic fog which we call 'nature' or 'the real world' fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?"
A side note. If you are like me, and you grew up learning good morals, you may have often questioned how that feeds into your life as a Christian now and this process of God redeeming our character. Lewis says this, "If you are a 'nice' person--if virtue comes easily to you--beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God's gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being 'nice', you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous."
I was a little suprised when I got my results, but I've been to Paris and it was fascinating. Although, I think that there are other cities in Europe that I would enjoy more.
You Belong in Paris
You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.
You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.
Who knew that all those times you've sunk your teeth into some sushi you've likely been supporting a self-proclaimed Messiah's dream (i.e. Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church). Lately, I've been noticing stories such as this on an increasing basis. Not about sushi lords, but just about people with a Messiah-complex. Jesus warned us about those who would come after him and claim to be a savior. Author, James Tabor, is now questioning much of what we hold true about Jesus Christ. In Jesus Dynasty, he says that in fact Jesus never claimed to be a Messiah and was a twin-messiah, with intentions of building an earthly kingdom. What will they think of next?
Time and Newseek and CNN cover stories about the historicity of Jesus Christ. Mass culture is exposed to movies and books that illuminate the life of this man we know as Jesus Christ and bring to the forefront of American culture's mind many questions about this man. And of course there is the battle between the right and the left over what it really means to emulate Jesus Christ in the context of faith-based politics. Liberals would argue that conservatives have sacrficed loving like Christ in the name of holiness. (see Francis Schaeffer for a discussion on the harmony of love and holiness). Our current President is certainly widely known for his faith in Jesus Christ. We even see President Clinton and Senator Clinton talking about Jesus in recent dialogues about the realities of value-based voting in America. And who could forget Buddy Jesus?
The reality is this. Jesus is on the brain of American culture. Whether he is living in the hearts of Americans is an entirely different debate. But Jesus Christ was a real man. He was a man who claimed to be the Messiah. He went so far as to tell us that he is the only Messiah--the only way to a restored relationship with God.
C.S. Lewis offers his thoughts on Jesus:
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon and you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Let's not get wrapped up in false claims, irreverant behavior or the debate over "Christ-likenss" of right and left wing individuals, but instead fix our eyes on truth. Open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, the Good Book says.
I suppose it is only fitting to write a piece about Jesus Christ, with today being Passover and Good Friday and Easter Sunday just around the corner. On this day, two thousand years ago, Jesus enjoyed his last big meal with his disciples, his compadres, his brothers. He tried to help them open their eyes a bit more on that evening, in the upper room. He tried to help them see that he came not to be served, but to serve. And that is what sets Jesus apart. I love John's account of the Last Supper, because he includes the part where Jesus totally forsakes his position as King of the universe and humbles himself to wash the feet of his followers. And He was their teacher!
This is what sets Jesus apart from any other man who has ever walked this earth and claimed to be the Messiah. In my mind, there is no question about choosing between the three options that Lewis presents. Lunatic, Devil or Son of God? I'll take Son of God, Messiah. He showed us his love time and time again. It was NEVER about him. After Peter felt so awkard for having Jesus wash his feet and tried to refuse him, Jesus replied, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." And that is why he came. That is why Easter is celebrated. It's not about Easter eggs, as fun as the hunt may be. It's about sucking up your pride and letting the Rabbi--the Teacher, the Master-- wash you clean.
The disciples may or may not have eaten sushi on that pivotal evening, but they certainly got more than they were hoping for, or could have ever expected.
My last post addressed a small portion of my thoughts on this life, in which we feel a beating heart, or feel the pain of a headache, or see the beauty of a sunset, or taste freshly baked cookies or smell the odor or manure. It's also the life in which the media and entertainment industry tells us, "Live for now and make yourself happy with lots of stuff." There's a song out (yes, it's a country song, one of the few times you'll hear me quoting one) that says, "I've never seen a hearse with a luggage rack." I'm not discounting this life or suggesting that it has no bearing on anything, but the complete opposite is true. It means more than we could ever imagine. Here are a few thoughts from a few men on this subject:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Paul, Letter to the Colossians
"Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be." Jesus, Gospel of Matthew
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well." -Psalm 139
"Your natural life is derived from your parents; that does not mean it will stay there if you do nothing about it...You have to feed it and look after it: but always remember you are not making it, you are only keeping up a life you got from someone else." -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
In my own power, I did absolutely nothing to start me. My life is not my own. It follows then that life is not a story about me. So what exactly is life a story about? Why do we care? Should we care? Do we really want to know?
I think that the answer that echoes throughout the halls of millenia past is a resounding, "YES!" We have tirelessly discussed, argued, philosophized, theorized, pondered and lost sleep over these questions. Everyone thinks about it; whether he or she will admit it and offer the time to have a discussion about it is another story.
If we have no control over our birth and no control (ultimately, despite the best efforts of modern science) over our death, are we just fighting a losing battle? From dust to dust, right?
But the very fact that we do care about the meaning or purpose of life puts an end to that question. What if, since we truly exist beyond our own control, we were destined to live for something beyond our earthly being? We understand a difference between what is right (or even fair), within certain bounds, and what is wrong (or even unfair). As Lewis discusses, we've all heard these remarks before, either out of our own mouths or of others': "How'd you like it if anyone did the same to you?" "C'mon you promised!"
Yes, philosphers debate the existence of absolutes truth, but anyone with a healthy mind (I concede that many in history have had polluted and unhealthy minds) has felt wronged at one time in their lives.
We have each known something right, too. Our own consciences testify to the fact that there is Truth. The "Golden Rule" didn't invent itself. One could argue that the "survival of the fittest" allows for this rule and even caused its genesis, because "doing unto others as we we would have them do unto us" makes a more fertile soil to grow the "fittest" individuals. But listen to what Jesus says in the holy texts of Christianity:
"Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
So, if we weren't created by ourselves and death is inevitable and there is this thing called Truth which causes us to consciously understand a difference between loving and hurting someone, then I have to think there is a more intelligent being who created Life. And if he did, and I certainly believe he did (Aside: Look at creation! Have you ever, in your life, seen anything create itself from nothing? I've never heard of that occuring in any laboratory. There is always a designer working outside of the bounds of the matter to cause it to do as the artist/scientist wishes).
The icing on the cake is that God didn't leave us in the dark. He came to earth, his son Jesus Christ more precisely, and turned the light on for us. We didn't create ourselves, but somehow find ourselves consciously recognizing what we think is fair and unfair, all the while we mess things up for ourselves and make poor choices, wondering what the purpose of life is. And it's a purpose I don't want to miss out on!
"I am the Way, the Truth and the LIFE. No one comes to the Father, except through me." -John 14:6
So, is "[coming] to the Father" that purpose? Is that what life is all about? I think so. I really do. And I believe that's what Jesus' life was all about. To bring us back to our Creator, our Father.
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." -Jesus, John 17:3-4
P.S. If you want to challenge your views of our purpose on this earth, check out Don't Waste Your Life, by John Piper. Good stuff.
- Chuck Norris can unscramble an egg.
- Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.
- Chuck Norris has already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there.
- Chuck Norris can touch MC Hammer
- Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.
- Someone once tried to tell Chuck Norris that roundhouse kicks aren't the best way to kick someone. This has been recorded by historians as the worst mistake anyone has ever made.
- Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.
- The leading causes of death in the United States are: 1. Heart Disease 2. Chuck Norris 3. Cancer
- Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.
- Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.
- Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.
- When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up; he’s pushing the Earth down.
- Chuck Norris’ hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.
- Chuck Norris’ house has no doors, only walls that he walks through.
- Chuck Norris CAN believe it's not butter.
- Chuck Norris can divide by zero.
- Chuck Norris once got in a knife fight and the knife lost.
- The fastest way to a man’s heart is with Chuck Norris’ fist.
- Chuck Norris takes 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes.
- Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting infers the probability of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.
- There are no weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, Chuck Norris lives in . Oklahoma