Friday, March 23, 2012

Lenten Reflections - Being Good Enough

Isaiah 6:1-8

"I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:

'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.' At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.'

Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, 'See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.'

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'"

I found myself reading through this passage of Isaiah this morning as part of my devotions for Lent. My first thought was that God was speaking directly to Isaiah when He said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” But I realized that Isaiah only overheard God while He was calling out to these bizarre flying creatures that surrounded him. What's a "seraph" anyway?  It was Isaiah that took the initiative to answer God’s call. Isaiah wasn’t forced into serving God. No one twisted his arm or made him feel guilty. He only heard the call of God, realized that the stakes were high and answered. No questions asked, just “Send me!

How often do we find ourselves thinking that we are just not good enough to serve God? How often do we think that others are more qualified? How often have we thought that our past failures or screw-ups keep us from being used by God?  We can see from scripture that Isaiah wasn’t good enough. He wasn’t necessarily ready. There may have been others more qualified. But God revealed to Isaiah that the only requirement for serving Him was something we often forget: being available.

God needs people who will readily answer the call simply because it is Him who asks. And He doesn’t need us to pass a test first and He doesn’t want us to dwell on our past failures. He wants imperfect people that will humbly receive His forgiveness, and impulsively and radically answer, “Send me!” God isn’t looking for ability, as much as He is looking for availability. As we celebrate Lent, let us meditate on what it means to be available, and answer when He calls, regardless of the cost.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

KONY 2012 and Invisible Children

By now, I'm sure that most of you have heard of the KONY 2012 movement.  Several people have asked my opinion on the issue and to be honest, I haven't really developed one at this time.  There have been some very legitimate concerns regarding allocation of finances, Ugandan military support and questions regarding the organizations overall intentions.  However, regardless the questions that have developed, at the heart of this issue, there still lies the evil of Joseph Kony and the overwhelming tragedy stemming from his actions.  From a Kingdom of God perspective, this is not something that can be ignored followers of Christ or the Church in general.  The best thing to do before deciding to support any charitable action is to of course spend time in deep prayer and meditation on the issue.  Then spend some effort on researching the background of the issues at hand and the organizations behind the movement.  I've decided to dedicate the remainder of this blog to a blog by Rachel Held Evans, who has done the best job so far in chronicling the details, facts and opinions of the KONY 2012 issue in a very open and non-bias format.  You can read her blog below, or at her website to join the discussion.

Some Resources on the Invisible Children Controversy:  Rachel Held Evans   

When I shared the Invisible Children’s now-viral Kony 2012 video on the blog this morning, I had no idea it would be so controversial. At first I was surprised, then frustrated, then—after hearing from so many of you—strangely encouraged by the fact that we’re actually getting passionate and worked up about something that matters! 

If you haven’t already heard, the charity Invisible Children launched a campaign this week to make Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leaders of the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) famous. By making Kony famous, they hope to mobilize millions to pressure Washington to continue assisting the Ugandan government in their efforts to hunt down and arrest Kony for his war crimes against children.
It was Invisible Children that first made me aware of the plight of child soldiers around the world, and so I’ve always been sympathetic to their cause.  However, some have raised legitimate concerns about Invisible Children’s strategy and finances, suggesting that IC may do more to hurt the situation than help it. 

This is an important conversation to have, and I’m convinced we can have it without questioning one another’s motives or resorting to personal attacks.  I think it’s safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of those who have devoted their time and money to trying to help families suffering injustice have done so out of compassion and a sincere desire to help.   We can’t let naivety on the one hand or cynicism on the other prevent us from seeking a peaceful resolution to this conflict. 

So with that in mind, here are some of the most helpful resources shared by readers on Twitter, Facebook, and the blog. 

I’ll be updating this as new ones come in, so be sure to check back. 



The New York Times: Topics/Archives, “Lord’s Resistance Army” 

The Washington Post: “Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army: A Primer

The New York Times: Video, “On the Hunt for Joseph Kony” 

Foreign Affairs: “Obama Takes on the LRA” (this artcle includes one of the earliest criticisms of IC) 

International Crisis Group’s November 2011 Report on the LRA 

Lisa Ling reports on the LRA for The Oprah Show

Christianity Today - "Deliver Us From Joseph Kony"

From Invisible Children...


Invisible Children Web Site

Invisible Children Team

Invisible Children Financials

Kony 2012 Video

Kony 2012 Campaign 

Facebook response from John Rudolph Beaton, Crisis Tracker Project Developer for IC

Invisible Children - Official Response to Critiques *NEW*

Critiques & Responses...


Visible Children

David Sangokoya (Nigerian American aid worker) – “Selling Old Newspapers Shouldn’t Be Profitable” 

Solome Lemma (Innovate Africa) – “You Don’t Have My Vote

Justice In Conflict – “Taking Kony 2012 Down a Notch” and “Kony 2012: The Invisible Children Advocacy Campaign to Catch Kony” 

James McCarty – “Christian Ethics, Invisible Children,  Kony 2012, and International Advocacy

Joshua Keating (Foreign Policy Magazine) - “Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and other complicated things

Angelo Izama - “Invisible Children’s Campaign of Infamy” 

Musa Okwonga - “Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions

Dianna Anderson - "On Kony 2012 and Thinking Critically" *NEW*

Press Coverage...


Washington Post: “Invisible Children Responds to Criticism  About ‘Stop Kony’ Campaign"

NPR: “Ugandan Warlord Joseph Kony Under Spotlight Thanks to Viral Video

Christianity Today: Why Joseph Kony is Trending *NEW*

Other Resources...


Charity Navigator’s Report on Invisible Children

Charity Watch – “The Best Ways to Assist in Providing Emergency Relief in Uganda
When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert

(Note: I’ve not yet read this book, but it comes highly recommended by folks I respect) 

From the Blog...


Poverty Tourism, Poverty Elitism, and Grace” (seems relevant) 
And we've been discussing the issue over on my Facebook Page as well

I'll continue updating this page, so check back for new information. (I'll indicate which articles are new.) 

What are your thoughts on Kony 2012 and Invisible Children?