Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who needs another Billion dollars?

“I don't think anybody can sit there and say, you know, 'I need another billion dollars,'" [Tim Durham, whose net worth is over $75 million] said. "Does another billion dollars help Warren Buffet? No. He doesn't need it to live on. He can probably make it on the first 50. But why does he keep going? Because it's a challenge. And I think that that's really what making money is about. After you get to a certain level where your basic needs are paid for. The rest of it is not necessary."

As for his own wealth, Durham insists he doesn’t need all the luxuries he can afford, but he doesn’t want to apologize for them either.

“You know, I think it's what a lot of people strive for," he said. "Everybody wants to live the American Dream.”

~MSNBC article 24 June 08

Our Bible study is walking through the book Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz) and tomorrow night's discussion is on a chapter called "Adam, Eve & the Alien." Miller talks about how, if an alien came to earth, they would likely conclude that our entire society is based on comparison to others, which forces us to be in constant competition. I don't believe this is very far from the truth.

The article I quoted at the top of the page was on MSNBC, and I think reflects Miller's point. What if our society's materialism is not about our own comfort as much as it is about being better than the next guy? It is not necessarily that we want things for our own needs, we just want them because the proverbial "they" don't have what we have. Tim Durham (the multi-millionaire quoted in the article) says an interesting sentence:

"After you get to a certain level where your basic needs are paid for. The rest of it is not necessary."

This statement could have profound impacts on the nature of society. If everyone in America made a budget based on this concept, we could eradicate poverty around the world. This would be the fulfillment of an Acts 2 church (Acts 2:42-47) where none are in need because of the generosity of all.

But look at the context in which Durham says this statement.

"Does another billion dollars help Warren Buffet? No. He doesn't need it to live on. He can probably make it on the first 50."

50 BILLION? Is that really what it takes to fulfill "basic needs"? It only becomes competition after $50 billion? What about to get to that $50 billion, it was never about one-uping the guy next to him?

But I can't be too quick to judge multi-millionairs. What does it take to fulfill my "basic needs?" Why do I feel like it's necessary to shop at J. Crew over Walmart? I say nice things like, "The clothes are made of a better quality and therefore will last longer." But will $60 jeans from J. Crew really last 4 times longer than $15 jeans from Walmart? Isn't some of what I buy about a status point I feel like I have reached? It is the sub-conscience knowledge that I don't want to be associated with those Walmart-clothes-buying people. Why not? Because I have been enveloped into a society that is inundated with ranking.

Maybe it's time I re-think what "basic needs" are. Maybe the "American Dream" shouldn't be my dream.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Moving On Up!

Tonight is the last night in my apartment. For the last year I have lived on my own. My own little apartment with all of my stuff exactly as I have wanted it. If I felt like leaving dirty dishes in the sink for a week, I could do it. If I felt like dragging my mattress into the living room to watch a movie, I could do it. It was my own sink, my own refrigerator, my own walk-in closet (which, I may have become spoiled by, and I don't know I could live without anymore), and my own little balcony. It's like I've been playing house or something. It has been really nice.

But it's time to move on. God has been challenging me on being too comfortable. I need to live with people, because then I will stop thinking so much about myself. I think roommates in a house are like pebbles in one of those rotating rock polisher things. We all get thrown into this enclosed space, get all shaken up, and bang against each other. Still, in the end we come out shinier and more refined than when we went in. All of our most jagged edges become much more obvious when they're constantly poking into someone else, and their edges are just as obvious when they sting me in return. I expect nothing different from living with these 3 women.

This move has been a test of faith, because I'm moving out with no guaranteed place for us to move into. We have run into road block after road block trying to rent a house, but we are confident that God will provide. We hope that whatever house God provides, people always feel comfortable coming over. This could be a great place for ministry and relationship-building and outreach. God, please provide such a place.

So tomorrow starts a new adventure. I'm a nomad for a while, but hopefully not long. And then I will be part of a make-shift family again. 4 women in one house (where ever that house might be), living together, growing together, and hopefully resovling conflict together somewhere shy of killing each other.

Sun, I dare you to rise. I am prepared to meet the challenge your new day brings!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Confessions of a Martha

I think I stole this title. I'm not sure where it's from, but my head says it's not original. I've known for most of my life that in the story of Mary and Martha, I am a Martha. However, today it flared up badly.

The story goes that Jesus came to the house of Mary and Martha, and while he was teaching Mary sat attentively at his feet, listening to the word. Martha was running around cleaning and preparing food and such. She got frustrated and asked "Lord, doesn't it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me." (Luke 10:40 NLT)

But Jesus didn't command Mary, he corrected Martha. "
There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it-and I won't take it away from her." (vs 42)


My story started last night when a couple of the guys from FUSE (Sunday nights, 7pm at Glenwood - be there) were helping me move (see what nice guys come to FUSE?).

One of them asked me after the 10th or 11th trip down the stairs, "How many musical instruments do you have?!"

My response: "2 saxes, a bass, and a guitar."

His response: "Dude! Then why aren't you playing in the worship band?!"

Ouch. Without meaning to, he had struck a really hard chord for me. When we started talking about Fuse months ago I really REALLY wanted to play in the worship band. I haven't gotten to lead worship in more than 4 years and I really miss it. But after wrestling with God about it, I realized that there are many musicians and not nearly enough detail people, so God kicked me out of a band before I even got in it.

So this afternoon the set up team for Fuse was exactly 3 people (2 for the first hour). As I was hauling chairs, lifting couches, and preping food, the band was practicing on stage. I grew more, and more bitter by the minute. (And not just because 7 strong guys were on stage instead of lifting couches). I got bitter because they were doing the ministry I wanted to be doing. I don't like details, I am willing to take on administration roles because it is one of my spiritual gifts, but I don't like it. Buying food, preparing it, cleaning it up, hauling couches, setting up tables - none of that is fun. I want to lead worship!

After the service got even worse. Once most people had left, a few of us started to clean up. And by a few, I mean, a few. The rest sat around talking, playing guitar, or tossing a frisbee.

My head started yelling at God. "God, what's wrong with these people?! Don't they care about being a servant like me?! I'm doing a great service to God by not leading worship and doing these miserable jobs!"

And after that thought, God gave me a swift kick in the teeth. I was being a Martha. The people standing around talking were doing things far more important than anything I could be doing. The Kingdom of God is not built by carrying couches or washing dishes. Sure God appreciates it, but He values relationships far, far more.

Thanks God for the humility reminder. No amount of sacrifice I could give could come close to what you sacrificed for me. Maybe I'll learn someday, but I have a feeling I'll need many more reminders.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Eager Anticipation

In a post a little while back I talked about how much I love words. I have discovered I learn not only from written words, but from spoken ones as well. I love to pray out loud. I love to recite scripture and feel the words roll of my tongue. The Psalms are my favorite to recite because they are poetry poured from the hearts of writers long ago. When I read the Psalms out loud I'm echoing words that thousands upon thousands of people have spoken and prayed and screamed before the Lord. What a legacy is held in these words!

I was struck by one verse in particular tonight.

Psalm 5:3
"In the morning, O Lord,
you hear my voice; in the morning
I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation."

I looked up "expectation" in the dictionary and it says "eager anticipation." Do I sit before the Lord as a young child waits for Christmas morning? Do I long for interaction from the Lord in the same way new parents eagerly anticipate meeting their new infant?

What would happen if I really did get up in the morning, ask big things of God, and then "eagerly anticipate" what He will do in response?? I think I shall try to find out =)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

FUSE Launch

Tonight was the official launch of FUSE. All the time and energy poured into planning has now turned into a living, breathing venue. It is at times stressful, overwhelming, and difficult to manage. But other times, it has been amazing to see the power of God working.

I know this is just the beginning. There are many, many more weeks of this to come, and for that I am grateful. However, I know we will get tired. It is by the nature of being human that we get worn out sometimes. But tonight when I got home I listened to a sermon by a pastor in DC named Dick Foth and he said, "We are not working for God; instead we are working with God. Just that prepositional flip makes all the difference in the world as to whether we see ourselves as employees or as friends."

That concept is so foundational in the success or failure of FUSE. We are not breaking ground, instead we are picking up a shovel on ground in which God's already working.

God, allow me to wake up tomorrow and join you in the work you are doing.