American dream

The themes of the American dream are accumulating, upscaling, status, power, consumerism, individualism, and self-actualization. The themes of the homecoming future of God are justice for the poor, peace for the nations, the redemption of the people of God, a restoration of community, a renewal of creation, and a celebration of the shalom purposes of God for a people and a world. These are not two versions of the same dream. These are totally different dreams. One is born out of an ancient faith. The other is the product of an Enlightenment vision of Western progress.

Tom Sine quoted in Blomberg, Christians in the Age of Wealth


Keepsakes – to keep or not to keep

We are in the throws of evaluating what we keep and what we toss. It is sometimes a very painful process.
Here is the flow chart that we came up with for choosing what keepsakes we pack in our limited space on the plane to Spain, what we keep in storage here in the States, and what we pass on.

Accessories of keepsake<Keepsake<Using/Playing with Keepsake<the Giver of the Keepsake


Let me introduce you to “Play Elli” (left), “Part-of-the-family Elli” (center), and “Mommy’s Elli” (Right)


Tied to keepsakes are a host of other accessories. Crystal has a doll from her childhood, and everything that comes with a baby. (I am actually confident we could raise Tanzen with fewer accessories than most dolls have.) Those bibs, strollers, and bonnets are all nice, but the doll trumps the accessories. In the pile of accessories, we could actually lose the doll. So when in question, the accessories get the boot first.
Then the keepsake itself comes under consideration. What type of value have we assigned to it? Does it remind us of something significant, or are we just holding on to it because we have always kept it? If it carries no emotional weight, it has become dead weight.
Following the evaluation of the keepsake, we then look at whether it will continue to remind us of something significant and eventually mean something to Tanzen. Can it be used or displayed? This doll will remind us of nothing if we never see it, and it for sure will hold limited value to Tanzen if she never sees it or plays with it. So, if it cannot be displayed or used, why are we holding on to it?
At the end of the line is the person to which the keepsake ties us. A doll is special because it connects us to the giver, or even ourselves at a certain time. That is where the true value lies. A doll is about $.05 of plastic and cloth, but its value is incalculable when we recognize that holding that doll reminds us of our grandparents and playing in their living room. That is what the keepsake is there for, and we cherish it.

We don’t want that memory to be lost in the pile of excess.

When you see poverty

Corbett, Steve, and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor– and yourself. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009. 

Point: Helping those in financial difficulty can do more harm than good, for both the giver and the receiver. Here is how to be wise.

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it to someone: 

  • thinking about taking a short term missions trip
  • helping in a soup kitchen
  • thinking of working in the inner city
  • who said, “it’s their own fault they’re poor”


To see the full review, click on the title above. If the review is helpful, let me know with the voting options on the page

Possessions and Worth…My Worth

Here is a convicting quote from  Luke Timothy Johnson,Sharing Possessions: What Faith Demands. Eerdmans, 2011.

“When the world is regarded as the means to worth, and when other people are defined as competitors for worth, and when the only way to measure the relative ranks of our being and worth is by what we possess, then my only logical response to other human beings is expressed in the body language of the clenched fist. The fist seizes what it can, closes fiercely upon it, protects it rigidly, and threatens any who would open it. To relax the hand, to relinquish my possessions, to share what I have, means to diminish my very being, which is held in existence at all only by my acquisitive effort. To lose one of my possessions is to lose part of my self. Allowing others to share freely in what is mine means that I have no way of distinguishing myself from them; I lose my identity. We do not have to look far from the evidence of this attitude toward possessions, this manifestation of idolatry. It is all around us, and within us; the call of faith leads us constantly out of idolatry because the idolatrous impulse never sleeps” (79).

Free Music from Sony Record Label

Here is what you need:
Hennepin county library card (or a library card from a participating county)
Go to (or your library’s website)
Go to databases A-Z
Find “Freegal” in the listings
Connect with your library card
Download three songs for free each week.  
I would recommend downloading Andrew Peterson’s albums first (I am a fan for his music because the words make sense) and then John Williams “War Horse” and “Tin Tin” (Both up for awards).
If your library participates in this as well, post a comment and pass it on. If not, sorry. Make friends with someone in Hennepin County.

Give it up…

A pastor recently spoke in chapel about giving as explained in 2 Corinthians 8:1-15. This passage highlights three incentive for giving which amount to one.
1. God gives grace to give (1-2)
2. God gave himself to us (9)
3. God can supply the needs of others through us (14-15)
These 3 incentives amount to one overarching incentive –
GOD is the incentive for giving

At the outset of the message, he made the observation that this topic is normally not addressed in colleges or seminaries – due to the general lack of funds possessed by students. I also noticed that the topic is rarely addressed in churches because the pastor may feel guilty about “asking for money.” Both of these reasons – lack of funds or guilt -are tragic. They are robbing believers of the benefits of giving!
An example of a giving spirit is found at Desiring God. I truly appreciate the work which they are doing making many books available for free download at their site. They also have Desiring God audio book as a free download. I understand that this is not possible for all authors, but their desire to further the Gospel and not the bank account has challenged me.
Am I willing to give freely of what could financially profit me? The statement “If you want to know what someone loves, look at their bank statement” does have merit.

Money Thoughts

Dr. Straub made this comment during our missions conference, “It is not how much of my money I should give to God, but how much of God’s money I should keep for myself.”
Should make us rethink our budget.