Sunday, March 30, 2008

newest family member of Horizon

Just wanted to introduce you to the newest addition to Horizon Church of Towson.

Ben and Nikki Hughes had another girl. Lyla Faith Hughes was born on March 26th, 2008 at 11:50 am. She weighed 8 lbs, 14 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. Apparently she looks a lot like Nikki as a baby.

Welcome to the world Lyla!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

to "take on"

A young man flew down to Nicaragua. He went to hang out with a certain people who have been forgotten. There are families that live in the town dump. By that I don't mean they live near the burning toxic wasteland. They actually live in and among the smoldering refuse.

The young man went down to Nicaragua clean. He smelled good coming off the plane. His clothes were fresh and his skin was washed. He could have chosen to stay that way. Instead, he went to hangout with some kids. He picked them up. He gave them hugs and high-fives. He carried them on his shoulders. For just a second, their hell turned into heaven. For just a moment, their struggle and poverty turned into a family reunion. It was a great day for everyone.

But something interesting happened. The young man who flew all that way was no longer clean. There had been an exchange of sorts. He gave his time, his love, his compassion. Those children gave him their dirt, their contamination, and their hope. They took on his joy and he took on their pain.

The young man, once clean, was now filthy. It was not from his own grime, but from theirs. This is what it means to "take on."

We are coming up on Easter in a few weeks. In this season, much will be talked about concerning Jesus and the cross. One thing that will be mentioned over and over is that Jesus went to the cross and "took on" our sin. We usually try to understand this "taking on" as a metaphysical or theological event. But I think it was probably a lot like that young man who went to Nicaragua.

Jesus came to us clean and - in the midst of loving us, holding us, carrying us - he took on our sin. There was an exchange of sorts. He gave his love and we gave him our dirt. He have his life and became our hope.

For more information about their trip to Nicaragua go to Love Light and Melody.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Arrogance is assuming that your political view is also God's view. This is what Jim Wallis, leader of Sojourners, has done with his recent declaration of "repentance" for the war in Iraq. Here is an actual quote from an email he sent out recently:

"And so, in this season of Lent, I believe the time has come for us to repent for the Iraq war...

Support for U.S. wars and foreign policy is still the area where Christians are most "conformed to this world" (Romans 12:2). We must commit to put our love for Christ ahead of obedience to a misguided government and ask our brothers and sisters to join us in working for peace."

Did you catch that? According to Jim, if you support the war in Iraq, then you are "conformed to this world." Wow. He goes further. He makes that claim that if you agree with some of the policies of this government, then you are putting "obedience to a misguided government" ahead of your "love for Christ." Did he really just say that? Boy, if we were talking about homosexuality instead of the war, I would think this email was sent by Jerry Falwell.

And what about other moral issues. Wallis wants to gather Christians from all over the nation to "repent" for a war that has been going on for 5 years. But when was the last time he called for repentance because we are in a country that has legalized the killing of our unborn children? And abortion has been going on legally now for 35 years. And yet for those 35 years has Wallis called the church and our nation to repent for all of those millions of murders? Nope.

What about drugs, pornography, rape, alcoholism and a host of other sin issues that are eroding our nation from the inside out? Has Wallis ever called for a time of repentance for those things? Those issues and many more have been going on for a lot longer than the war. Shouldn't we first repent for those as a nation and as the Church? Or are these "sin issues" not in vogue enough for Jim. I guess they just aren't as popular to be against.

Is anyone else irritated with this level of hypocrisy? It seems to me that Jim Wallis is caught up in a level of self-righteousness and arrogance that we haven't seen in Christian leaders since the 90's when the Christian Right took over the Republican party. What is that passage about the plank and the speck of dust?

Monday, March 10, 2008

what is your cause?

On Facebook there is a section on the profile page where you can say what "causes" you support. And more and more this generation is interested in supporting non-profit type causes, which address various needs in the world. It is great to watch more and more people get involved in caring for the "least of these" in our world.

My hope, however, is that these would never be divorced from the most important cause of all.

I hope that all of us "activist-type," young Christians would keep in mind that our lives need to be about more than just meeting people's physical needs. The purpose for our lives should not be limited to charity. There are more vital issues at stake in our world.

I am afraid that my generation of Christians is in danger of slipping into a "social gospel" that produces no real life-change. As we feed, clothe and care for the poor, let us not fall into a materialistic worldview that makes "material" things the most important thing.

A human being is much more than the food they eat or the clothes they wear. There is a brokenness within people's inner-being that needs to be healed. And this brokenness can't be healed with fundraisers, donations, food drives, telethons, celebrity advocates, benefit concerts, vaccines, clean water or retro-viral drugs.

So many charities, non-profits, and "causes" find ingenious ways to address people's physical needs. And this should continue. But let us not forget the only "cause" that addresses people's real inner needs.

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi and mentioned two women who helped him in ministry. And he said that these women, "contended at my side in the cause of the gospel" (Phil. 4:3).

This is the cause above all other causes. This is the only cause that addresses the whole person. The cause of Christ is the one "cause" that can bring healing to a person's body, soul and mind. And because it is the only truly holistic cause, it is the only cause that has the power to heal societies and nations.

So don't believe the lie that you have to donate to a charity in Africa to make a difference in the world. The two most powerful acts that will bring societal transformation are to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

When you love someone in your small group, you change the world. When you worship, you celebrate the cause that will never end. When you tithe to the church, you give to the most important cause in the world.

All other causes should find themselves under the umbrella of this one cause. People who have lost hope need more than just food and healthcare. They need the hope of a new life in Christ. So your cause and mine, above all, should be the cause of the gospel.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Obama wins Texas

The news reported a couple days ago that Clinton won Texas. Well, that is not exactly true. She won the Texas Democratic Primary. But as the numbers from the Caucuses come in, it doesn't look good for Senator Clinton. Let's do the math.

228 total delegates are up for grabs in Texas. 126 of those are tied to the March 4th primary. But 67 delegates are tied to the March 4th caucuses. And with 23 superdelegates already committed, that leaves 12 uncommitted superdelegates to round out the total.

Clinton won the primary 51% to 48% against Obama. So lets assume she gets 65 delegates and he gets 61. Now let's look at the caucus numbers. Obama is winning 56% to 44%. That means Obama is likely to get at least 37 delegates whereas Clinton will only get 30. Now let's add it all up.

Clinton: 65(primary) + 30(caucus) = 95
Obama: 61(primary) + 37(caucus) = 98

Obama wins the delegate count. So the uncommitted superdelegates should move in his favor.

Someone needs to send a memo to the Clinton campaign. Sweep up the confetti and put the cork back in the champagne. Hillary lost Texas.

So Tuesday's results actually looks like this:
Clinton won: Rhode Island & Ohio
Obama won: Vermont & Texas

The Clinton's are experts at "spin." But don't believe the hype. They don't want people to look at what actually happened on Tuesday. They want to pull the wool over people's eyes and make it seem like Clinton is a viable candidate. Do the math. She's not.

She is behind pledged delegates 1,321 to 1,186. That means she is behind by 135 delegates. The only thing keeping her in the race is an unfair draw from the superdelegates. Even though Obama is ahead in the pledged delegate count, he is behind 199 to 238 in superdelegates.

So while the voters have consistently put Obama in the lead, the elitist liberals in the Democratic party want to sway the election toward Clinton. This is classic "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" political maneuvering. You can always count on the Clintons to work their political magic behind the scenes.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What it is like to help people connect to God?

Helping people connect to God is like being the voice for their inner navigation system.

In a car navigation system, the voice talks to you while you drive. When the person is headed in the right direction, the navigation voice is there to affirm the right way.

When the driver takes a wrong turn, the voice articulates what the map is saying. The map is saying that the driver needs to turn the car around. The purpose of the navigation voice is to make the map accessible and understandable.

what is it like to be a Christian?

Life with Jesus is like the weekend.

Following Christ is like Saturday.

I knew something wasn't right Monday through Friday.

But it wasn't until I got to Saturday that I understood.

A rested mind.

A free spirit.

A peaceful heart.

A joyful life.

We all began on Monday.

Some only make it to Thursday.

But something happened on Friday.

Now we all have the freedom to get off work if we want to.

So Christ-followers find themselves on Saturday, loving life.

And we wait patiently.

Because Sunday is not too far away.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

being realistic

When did being realistic go out of fashion? It is only a quixotic person who equates realism with pessimism. Pessimism is doubting what is possible in light of the difficulties. Idealism is believing in what is possible by ignoring the difficulties. Realism, however, finds itself right down the middle.

Realism, I believe, is believing in what is possible without ignoring the difficulties. It is humbly admitting our limitations without letting them hinder our way forward. It is taking inventory of what is possible and what is not. Then after taking inventory, it is finding ways to make what is now impossible, possible for the future.

Idealism says, "We can do it all today!" Pessimism says, "We can't do it all, so we won't do anything." But Realism says, "Today, we will do what we can."

It seems to be that Idealism and Pessimism are two sides of the same coin. They are both warped views of reality. They are both forms of denial. One only sees the negative and the other only the positive. But reality has both. This is why I believe being realistic means one has an outlook that is closer to the truth.

Realism means taking off the grey colored glasses that allow for no hope. It also means taking off the rose colored glasses that deny hardship. If we are to have glasses at all, then let them be the eyes of Christ. And let us see the world as it really is. Let us see the world as He see it.

liberals give more to charity, right?

The next time you feel the urge to buy into the lie that secular liberals do more charitable work than religious conservatives, check your facts. A philanthropic expert and professor from Syracuse University did a study to find out the truth. The article below was written about that study.

A study by philanthropy expert Arthur C. Brooks, a Syracuse University professor, has found that conservatives, especially religious conservatives, give far more money and volunteer time to charity than liberals and non-religious people.

The study shows that conservatives give 30% more money to charity than liberals, even though liberals earn 6% more money. Brooks also found that liberals who are religious give more money to charity than liberals who are not religious.

In fact, religious conservatives give 100 times more money to charity than secular liberals or “progressives.” They also volunteer more.

Also, Brooks, author of "Who Really Cares?," found that people in wealthier, more liberal states like California and New York are below average in charitable giving compared to people in poor states like Mississippi and Alabama.

In fact, the working poor in the United States give a larger percentage of their incomes to charity than any other income group, including the middle class and the rich.

Finally, the study shows that Americans are far more charitable than Europeans – 14 as much as the Italians, seven times as much as the Germans, and three and one-half times more charity than the French.

Brooks surmises that Europeans and liberals, especially secular ones, believe the government should take care of people, but Americans and conservatives, especially religious ones, tend to believe in personal charity and individual responsibility.

This may explain why those on the political "left" are more comfortable with raising taxes. If they aren't giving as much money to charity as conservatives, then they can afford higher taxes. If we assume that both government programs (which require higher taxes) and charity (which requires personal giving) help the poor equally, then how does each mode of addressing poverty affect the tax-payer?

I think personal giving does more for the transformation of the heart of the giver than higher taxes does. I think higher taxes don't create generous people, but instead, often create frustrated tax-payers. The only advantage that higher taxes has is that it can be "controlled." Generous personal giving cannot be demanded from the outside, but must come from a desire within.

So the next time we feel compelled to make generalizations like "conservatives don't care about the poor," we need to remember this study.