10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

Come join in the discussion of faith at the Koinonia Page where scripture and life intersect in conversation and exploration. Visit on Facebook, Twitter, and Dave's Web Page too! I'd welcome your company at Palmyra First United Methodist Church, where I hang out, too, come and see!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Where am I Going?

Where are you going?  I think, when I run, and this question was on my mind as Coda (the dog) and I (the person) were running our 5K loop this morning.

My mission, this morning, was dog training in an exercise format.  That meant we didn't run straight when Coda wasn't executing a reasonable "heel", I'd change directions, turning around, run up a driveway and back, to help her watch her handler--that would be me.

When we came to a construction site, and it frightened her, we circled back to the worker by the truck, to stop for her to be petted.  I asked first, and then let him know that I wanted to train a dog that was comfortable around workers.  Also I shared I didn't think that they needed a skittish or aggressive dog near job sites.  He petted.  I thanked.  On we ran.

We took purposeful detours for traffic, puppies, and children along the way.  All so that we accomplished the mission.  And then I began to notice how much this is like life, leadership, parenting and so much more.  I was teaching my dog good citizenship and it mean that my agenda had to adapt in the circumstances of the experience (the run).

As a parent, grandparent, friend, leader, pastor, neighbor, and person,  I often have to adapt to be a good, loving citizen of the world.   I'm always pursuing my mission (life purpose, goals, integrity-- pick the term most helpful for you, they work about the same for me) even when the tasks and path need to adapt.

I believe that I have a valuable purpose in life and it's what life's all about in many vital ways.  (Think either it's God given, how I'm made, connected to the cosmos... like before, don't get hung up on the word here.)  For me it's all about living love with humility, justice and kindness while using the things that make me me (faith, music, ideas, ADD, energy, broad-inclusive thinking, ...).  That's how I seek to live.

I always need help with that.  I always have to adapt the strategies, agendas and tools of any given day to accomplish my purpose well.  I'm always diminished if I get off track with that big goal, because I become a little less me  (a little less missional, a little less what God wants, a little less what I'm designed for... pick again).

So, in all things, I work to include those around me.  Sometimes I play games with my grand kids or students that I would never choose for my own amusement, but I choose them for love.  I do some things with my wife because it's fun to be with her, and love her, not because the activity is my first choice.  (Like the days she inquires, "Wouldn't it be fun to work in the flower beds today?")  And I'm still on my mission of living love... of using my uniqueness... even with the detours and unanticipated choices!

And sometimes, I need to say, "no" or change directions, just like I do with Coda (the dog) on runs.  And sometimes I run, knowing the mission isn't increased speed, or hill work, but a pet that can be a suitable companion in living love.

Who am I?  Who is my handler, or who am I watching?  Does your identity, or mission work with the groups I find yourself in?  How often do I get off track?  What simple invitations might I offer or respond to, so that I am true to my path and respectful of those with whom I find myself?  I asked these questions this morning.  Maybe they have some value for you.   Let me know how your run is going!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Is Poverty a Non-Issue?

"Love God & Neighbor" -- Jesus
    I continue to be puzzled by poverty.  If we'd all do what we were taught as kids poverty would be a non-issue.  If we each were honest with ourselves and each other we would be far less likely to blame the poor for being poor.  If those of us who say we follow Jesus, took our imitation of Jesus seriously we wouldn't rest until those on the margins were treated with justice.  If....
     But I get stopped when I try to understand the complexities of economics, politics, and relationships.  I can see easily the inequities and problematic patterns of poverty , yet it's easy to justify my own inaction with relationships like family needs, politics that tap my self-interest, or fearing doing more harm than good in challenging economic realities.
    So the question is this, "Is poverty a non-issue?"  Because... it's not my fault...it's not my job...it's too big... or  we've loved one-another so well that it's gone.
    I would like to be able to give the "it's gone" answer, but that's not possible yet.   I'd like to say I never answer in any of the other ways, but that wouldn't be completely truthful.  Yet I would still like to work toward solving the poverty puzzle.  That's why I jump start my action with faith and  Circles, a cool national poverty initiative, supported by my church, that works to help people move from poverty to self-sustaining life;  it makes aims to give everyone enough money, friends, and meaning in their lives.
    That's why my wife and I work at living generously.  Like the strangers who have received lunch from my spouse.  Like, the tenth of our income that we plan to give away every year, as a minimum. So even when I fall short, I'm aware, growing, and, I hope, making a difference in my soul and for others.
    How do you deal with poverty?