Toxic Charity

What can I say?  The book Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton resonates with some of my deep, deep fears that I have been unable or more correctly unwilling to admit.  Is what we do in short-term missions for us or for those we go to serve?  Are our local service events really helpful in the long run, or are we simply perpetuating dependency and laziness?  Are there better ways to serve people than by simply giving to their immediate need/want or are there ways to facilitate their own abilities and their self-worth, not just add merit badges to our long string of good deeds?

When mission trips are really understood and promoted as “relationship building” and “learning opportunities” than we are being honest, but as leaders of Short-Term Missions we know that if there was not a project to work on, then we would not get half of the people.  But in many situations, the learning does come, and people grow into a more mature understanding of what takes place on these mission trips.  When trips are seen as mutually encouraging and mutually enriching then we have come a long way, but when we paint a church and the members of that church sit and watch, something is wrong!!!!

Lupton’s “Oath for Compassionate Service” is that to which I want to ascribe and my hope is that others will also join in so that we can truly make a difference in this world:

*  Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.  *  Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.                                                                     *  Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants         sparingly to reinforce achievements.                                                                                       *  Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.                                           *  Listen closely to those you seek to help, especially to what is not being said-unspoken   feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.                                                        *  Above all, do no harm.



My Poustinia

I have a poustinia, my office, but does my poustinia have a poustinic?  What in the world is a poustinia and a poustinic?  Poustinia is a Russian word for desert, but it is used for a prayer hut or a prayer cabin.  A poustinic was a person called by God is live a life of poverty, prayer, hospitality and service and who, of course, lived in a poustinia.  

A poustinic doesn’t invite people into his prayer hut, but rather is open to all those whom the Spirit leads to come in.  The poustinic goes about his work, his life in peace.  May it be so, Amen!

The poustinic becomes aware of the slightest movement of the Spirit.  Take nothing for granted, be open to all things, all people.

The poustinic is detached from all things.  If people come, so be it.  They do not belong to the poustinic, but to God.  Detached from my time, my possessions, but these are not mine,  but rather they are God’s time and God’s possessions on loan to me.

What am I to do as a poustinic?  Pray-definitely, but BE even more.  My presence is the calming presence of God to those who enter God’s poustinia, my office.  Though my presence is all important, my very self is also emptied of me so that the Spirit can fill me.  Look to Jesus on the cross as one who emptied himself, gave himself, and whose presence is life.  On the cross all was done TO Jesus.  He did nothing, but we receive everything through him.

“The world is cold.  Someone must be on fire so that people can come and put their cold hands and feet against the fire.”  (Poustinia, Catherine de Hueck Doherty, p. 70)

May I be the fire of God that warms my world.

Who Am I?

Who am I that I should have a twitter page or a blog?  Who am I that I should think anyone wants to listen to me, follow me, tweet me or link to me?

I am simply an ordinary guy, a guy born, raised and who has ministered for thirty plus years in a Guttenberger world.  I am not a Lenard Sweet or Richard Foster or Tony Campolo.  Nor am I a Jason Lukis, John O’Neal or Ed Marquart.  No, I’m just me-a guy with a passion for Jesus, who wants our world to hear good news, who passionately believes in and longs for community, not a community of only cookie-cutter middle-class, Lutheran white folks, (whom I love, but I long for something more) but a multi-cultural, multi-economic, multi-denominational community.

Who am I?  A man who once was afraid of his own shadow, but now believes relationships are central to life.  I am a journler who desires to listen to the stories of others and who, occasionally, wants others to listen to my story.

Who am I?  A contemplative who struggles to find inner peace, but who is still on this amazing journey.  I am a contemplative who loves sitting with Jesus, who longs to hear the Spirit’s whispers, but who usually has a mind drifting everywhere.

Who am I?  an ordinary journier who has something to say, once in a while, but who wants to listen always.  I am a pastor at heart and a missionary from my mother’s womb.  That’s a beginning, with more to follow.