Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kingdom Assignment or What Will the Kids Come Up With Next?

When God blessed the socks off of Abraham (Genesis chapter 12), He said that it was so that Abraham could also be a blessing. It seems like all too often we want God's blessings, but forget that second part about being a blessing and blessing others. Several years ago I read about an incredibly brave pastor who decided that it was time us to remember to be a blessing. He asked for 100 volunteers, gave each of them $100.00 and told them there were 3 conditions: 1) The money belongs to God, 2) they had to invest it in God's work, and 3) come back in 90 days to report on the results. (The Kingdom Assignment, Bellesi, 2001, Zondervan, if you want to read more.) The Bellesis got some great results. We don’t have that many people or that that much available cash, so I decided to try it on a much smaller scale.
The first question was what group would be most likely to accept the challenge, and also think outside of the box when it came to blessing people. Snap! Give it to the kids…. Next was an appropriate amount to start with. And for a first time trial, we decided on $5.00, which we repeated this year. Then how to present the challenge in kid friendly language. Many people have heard about the Parable of the Talents recorded in Matthew 25 or Luke 19; we used that to set the stage for what the kids were supposed to do.
Kids are incredibly creative and loving…they see things that adults often miss. Their hearts haven’t become hardened yet, and when they see an injustice they want to make it right. Most adults have a lot to unlearn so they can learn from the children of the world.
Anyway, last year the kids accepted the challenge and took off running. Silent auctions, challenges, chores and allowances all helped bless the community. Shoe Boxes filled to overflowing for Operation Christmas Child, a donation to the Shriners’ Hospital, school supplies for children staying at the local Rescue Mission, and Bibles for the Chaplains at Hill Air Force Base to offer to airmen about to deploy. This year with partial results reported, candy sales led to a donation of food to the church’s food pantry. One family turned the challenge into a family project and will be helping the local Ronald McDonald House and SLC Primary Children’s Hospital. Another group of siblings pooled their resources to stock a 72 hour emergency kit for another family. They also included something usually not found in this type of kit: information on how to get right with God.
So as the kids experience the blessings of being a blessing to someone else, my hope is that they incorporate the experience into their way of life; that they never outgrow that capacity to recognize hurt in other people and the desire to do something about it. And maybe as our children learn how much fun it is to be able to bless others, they’ll take time to teach the adults in their lives. We may not change the world, but at least we can bring a smile to someone’s face.
You’ve been blessed, so who are you going to bless today?

Friday, October 9, 2009


Years ago I had the opportunity to attend a class sponsored by the U.S. Air Force. The class was for people who would be working in the field of Substance Abuse Control. One of the instructors would frequently ask, “And how is that working for you?” If you watch the new TV show “Glee”, you’ll hear Sue saying it too. The point seems to be that all of us have a response to whatever life throws our way, and even though we might be saying one thing, our actions often indicate that we’re heading in a totally different direction. And our response often indicates whether or not we’re willing to pay the price.
People and organizations are remarkably alike in this. They say one thing but do something totally different. So we listen to what they say they want, and when they tell us how they’re attempting to reach that goal, we wonder how they’re going to get there from here. How’s that working for you?
The other side of that is being willing to pay the price. We all know someone who really wanted to go to a prestigious college, but somehow there was always something that got in the way of studying hard enough to get good grades in high school; someone wants to be on the next cover of a ‘Mr. Universe’ magazine but refuses to go to the gym. How’s that working for you? There’s a price to pay, are you willing to pay it?
We all set goals, but not everyone wants to work toward those goals; some people are content to just sit back and wait for that goal to be delivered to them on a silver platter. Others are willing to work towards a goal, but they set the goals way too low. And other people set lofty goals, and then when they realize what’s required they change their mind.
Kenneth Bailey in his book Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, describes a parable that points out why it’s important to consider the cost. A beggar who asked Jesus to heal him had to be certain that he was willing to pay the price of being healed of his infirmity. A blind man asks Jesus to restore his sight; at first glance that seems like a good thing, but what is really involved? The blind man needed to think things through very carefully. Blind beggars in the culture were dependent on the generosity of others for their livelihood, and most of them never learned any marketable skills. No income, no education, and no skills points to a dismal future. If he were healed from his infirmity he would have to work for a living. It would have been one thing to give alms to a blind beggar, but if that beggar could suddenly see, he would forfeit his right to beg. Suddenly the only thing he knows how to do, beg, is something that he can no longer do. But it was a decision, a choice that the man made, and as with every decision there is a price to pay. The cost may be counted in time, in money, in effort, in family or friends. The only constant is that there will be a price to pay.
So we learn to consider the cost. If I were the blind man, having my sight restored would be a pretty positive thing, but learning to be even hungrier than I’d ever been because I had no skills and couldn’t expect to beg, might have been more of a cost than I had planned on. At some point we have to look at what’s involved and make some decisions. Are we going to be content to say that we want something, or are we willing to back up our words with our actions? Are you sitting back and waiting for someone to hand you something on a silver platter? How’s that working for you? As you consider the next step in your life, your business, your church, have you thought it out far enough to consider the cost? If it’s worth having, there just might be a price to pay. Happy shopping!