Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sermon outline on Mercy

I've been asked to speak this weekend at church. We are looking at Proverbs through the summer so that's my jumping off point on the topic of mercy. This is way too much for a 40 minute talk, so I will need to pare it down. This is also intended to address the question of why do we send money to people in need all over the world, like Haiti, when there is so much need in America. All verses are from the NIV.

14:21 He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
21:13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

  1. What is mercy? Umland’s definition: generosity to the unworthy or desperate
    1. Caring for the needy: Parable of the good Samaritan
      1. Luke 10:23-37 25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"27He answered: " 'Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"30In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
      2. Giving to the unlovable or those who can’t repay (the poor) Luke 6:30-36 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
      3. Proverbs 31:6 Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish;

  1. Why practice mercy?
    1. We are instructed to by God – Proverbs verse above.
      1. Matthew 23:23 Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
      2. I Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."
    2. Prepares us to receive mercy
      1. Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
      2. James 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
      3. Matthew 25: 31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'LORD, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'44"They also will answer, 'LORD, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
    3. Because Jesus is merciful
      1. 2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
    4. Because God is merciful
      1. Ephesians 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
      2. Exodus 34:6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

  1. How to practice mercy?
    1. Job 31: 13"If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me,14what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?15Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?16"If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,17if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless--18but from my youth I reared him as would a father, and from my birth I guided the widow--19if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment,20and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep,21if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court,22then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. 23For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.
  2. Receive mercy.
    1. Luke 18:9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'13 "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'14 "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

book report: God is not One by Stephen Prothero

Dear Dr. Prothero,
Can I call you Steve?
I received your book as an anniversary gift, my wife was so kind to pick something from my Amazon wish list. Your book, God is not One:The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter, was near the top of the list and ended up in my mailbox. I think your book was a great introduction to eight influential religions of the contemporary world, but I was not satisfied, and that is all my fault. I do have one or two gripes with your book and I will state those first before I tell you my faults.

Gripe 1: Naming Mormonism as a potential 4th branch of Christianity after Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodoxy. I don't have your book in front of me, and I'm not saying these were your exact words, but I think you give that church too much credit. If we take everyone's self-reported numbers at face value, their 13 million worldwide, really is a drop in the bucket among the 2 billion Christians of the world.

Gripe 2: You began the book promising not to shy away from the dirty parts of each religion. But you did, especially in the Islam section. I don't think you delivered.

Gripe 3: In the Introduction to your book you told me that you would show how all religions are not the same and do not have the same goals or understanding of the world and beyond. So I was expecting a compare and contrast, but mostly got compare, which was good by itself. You stood them up next to each other but did very little with those differences. And this leads to my deficient expectations, although I blame you for leading me along.

I think the best way to contrast the religions you discussed would have been to show how they have interfaced over the centuries. For example, how did the southeast nation of Indonesia, a Confucian/Hindu area become the largest Islamic nation in the world. Or, how did Christian Turkey become Muslim? How did South Korea become a Presbyterian nation? How does Yoruban Africa become Christian? How does the little cult of Christ become the largest religion in the world? How does the little cult of Mohammed become the 2nd largest?

Steve, maybe you can't answer how, but I would have liked seeing this interaction between the faiths over the years. Maybe in you next book.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Acadia national park Maine family hiking 2010 vs. 2003

Way back in September 2003, before color photography was developed ;-) we brought two bikes, a trail-a-bike and a bike trailer to Acadia National Park, Maine. We put our 7 year old girl on the trail-a-bike and our 5 year old boy and our 3 year old girl in the trailer. My wife rode up the steep trail with the big girl and I pulled the other two up the trail around Eagle Lake. We had left our campsite at Mt. Desert Campground which was near this carriage road and had heard about this scenic overlook of the lake called Connor's Nubble. It's only a half mile off the carriage road. But we found out it was a nearly vertical hike in parts up a granite cliff face. But those little guys scrambled right up it. Then they ran around the top without a care or an ear to our admonishments to stay away from the edges. I took this picture of them with the digital camera unknowingly set to black and white.

In July 2010, we rode the free bus into downtown Bar Harbor from our campsite at Mt. Desert Narrows Campground and rented 5 bikes and put them on the free bike shuttle which brought us to the trail head at Eagle Lake. This time, the kids had to use their own leg power. We stopped a couple times on the way up, but finally we reached the trail. This time the vertical parts of the trail discouraged the kids a bit. But once we got to the top, all was well. Not only was the sky so blue and the breeze so refreshing, but the blueberries were in abundance and we spent as much time looking down at the bushes as looking up at the scenery. Those little mountain blueberries are one of my favorites. Even though small, they were juicy and refreshing especially for those of us who had drank down our water bottles on the way up.

After enjoying a break at the Nubble, the scramble down was easy and gravity made the ride down and around the rest of the lake easy as well.
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

More container housing

I got to learn much more about container housing from a blog and ebook by Alex Klein in

bbb low-cost housing, tegnestuen vandkunstenImage by seier+seier via Flickr

Mississippi. He is selling the 100 page PDF on container housing for $10 at his blog. He is doing work to get some container structures to Haiti and make container housing for oil clean up workers working on the Gulf beaches.

The information that was good for me was worth the ten bucks. He recommends closed cell spray on polyurethane foam on the outside. He recommends a SIP roof with standing seam metal on top which makes the installation of solar panels easy. He even recommends the short containers (ISBU's to those in the know) to make delivery and drop off easier. A crane is not necessary for the small ones. He shares designs of single container homes and nine container homes. He recommends planning ahead so that adding modules in the future will be easier. He prefers siding like in the house above and not making the neighbors suffer with the architectural "honesty" of the house below.

Flickr text: Paul and Sarah's shipping contain...Image via Wikipedia

The houses could be left as ugly as the building blocks because the steel for these things is made to endure passage across the sea multiple times for many years. But it's nice to not annoy the neighbors permanently. Even with the expensive roofing and unnecessary siding he has seen owner/builders finish their homes for under $50 psf.

GNU-FDL, selbst fotografiertImage via Wikipedia

Planning and zoning commissions do need convincing. That's why making the outside of the containers look conventional would be in the owners best interest. Klein doubts that lenders will fund such a project though. He recommends paying cash for these builds. At $50 psf, that just might be possible. It is for people he has worked with.Enhanced by Zemanta