Saturday, January 29, 2011

Social Media Seeking Justice

I recently stumbled across this very impressive youtube video that communicated the growing world of social media and networking. Using statistics and tidbits of information, it effectively demonstrated in 5 minutes, how social media has changed and is continuing to change the way we communicate. In a nutshell...

"Social media isn't a fad, it's a fundamental shift in the way we communicate."

I couldn't agree more. I've had conversations with people on things such as the pros and cons of facebook, twitter, etc... it's a time waster, it's narcissistic, it's for our own self- esteem, it can get you in trouble, etc, etc. While I agree that these points can be true oftentimes and they must be used with discretion, I don't think we can throw the baby out with the bath water.

Though I've been on facebook for several years now and have attempted to blog for the past year, I recently started a twitter account (I know, I know... I'm a little behind). My eyes have been opened to a whole new world. I never really understood what twitter was capable of until I tried it. I've learned so much in the past week alone about what is going on in the world, about other people seeking justice, missions projects and NGO's, and people simply changing their community and world. And it has inspired me.

Watching the above youtube clip made me quite excited actually. I couldn't help but think of Esther's words in scripture, "And who knows but that you have come to royal position FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?" Now I'm not equating the potential of social media with a young jewish woman who literally saved an entire race of people, but I'm simply saying God CHOSE when each of us would be born, what generation we would live in, the tools we would have at our fingertips to use for His kingdom.

So instead of complaining about my generation and how horrible my culture is, I want to use the tools we have before us for good and not for evil. The printing press made mass distribution of the Bible possible. Movies made it possible to visually communicate stories. I believe social media can be an effective tool to collaborate with people, encourage other believers, share the gospel, raise money for missions and ministries, communicate stories of redemption... the list goes on.

So long as social media does not overtake the time I spend in God's presence, drawing closer to His heart, I intend to use it as a tool to advance the Kingdom of God. What about you?
Who knows, give it a try.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Piles of Hair

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Did you know that? I didn't. Until today. When I googled it I didn't find many major news sources covering it. I happened to find it on a NY Times Op ed. So what exactly are we remembering today?

"On 27 January 1945, the advancing Soviet army entered the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp complex, liberating more than 7000 remaining prisoners, for the most part ill or dying. Days earlier, the SS had forced nearly 60,000 prisoners to evacuate the camp and embark on the infamous 'Death Marches' in which many thousands lost their lives. In 2005, the UN General Assembly designated 27 January as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the day upon which, every year, the world would mark and remember the Holocaust and its victims." (source) 

Basically we are remembering the horrific genocide of an entire race of people that happened little over 60 years ago. Monuments and museums have been built to remember this atrocity. The world has consistently said "Never Again!" But unfortunately the world has not lived up to their "never again" promise. The opinion piece I mentioned above talks about dangers currently looming in the Ivory Coast as well as Sudan. Not to mention atrocities we've watched happen since the Holocaust, in Cambodia (watch the Killing Fields), Rwanda (watch Hotel Rwanda) and the Balkans. This opinion writer mentions progress made and possible solutions to these looming genocides, including the work of the UN, the White House and NGO's. I agree. I've seen first hand the help that both governmental and nongovernmental organizations can provide. They both have the potential to save lives. However...

When I think about these atrocities taking place and dig deep into the underlying reasons, I ask myself why. How can man take the lives of other innocent human beings, by the thousands, and in most cases not feel guilty about it? It boggles my mind. Holocaust era movies fascinate me, such as Schindler's List and The Boy in Striped Pajamas, because I cannot fathom how this could have happened. 

Then I realized. 

If man places no value on life... if we were not created in the image of an Almighty God, placed on this earth for a reason and purpose... then there is nothing wrong with taking the life of another human being.  It comes down to the sanctity of life. The inherent value given us by our Creator. 

As we celebrated the Sanctity of Life this past Sunday all across America, I thought back to a few years ago when I had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. It was quite the enlightening and emotional experience. Something that stood out to me were piles of shoes that belonged to these precious people. Not only that, but the hair that belonged to them, that was shaved off their heads. 

And then I thought about a new born baby. A baby that is born with a head full of hair. What if we took the hair of all the babies that we have sacrificed because they were inconvenient, and put it in a pile? 50 million to be exact. How large would that pile of hair be?

The world has said "never again," yet we watch genocide happening not only in other countries, but in our own, masked in the disguise of "pro-choice." 

Though the UN, White House and NGO's are doing their best to prevent genocide, the real change begins in ourselves, in our homes, in our communities. When we enter into a passionate relationship with Jesus Christ and see life as he sees it... precious. When we have the courage to go into under developed nations and proclaim the gospel. When we have the courage to go into our own neighborhood and share about the abundant life we have through Christ. 

So on this day, as we remember the hundreds of thousands who were killed during the holocaust, let's not sit back and do nothing. Let's put our words into action when we say, "never again," by petitioning our God on behalf of our families, our community, our country and our world. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lessons from an ocean and a moon.

There was a full moon last week.
And of course the most beautiful place to drink in the moon is at the edge of the ocean, with your feet in the cool sand, where I feel closest to God.
As I pleasured in God’s creation at the beach, He imparted small tidbits of love and wisdom to me, because that’s who He is.

I wondered why I thought the moon was so beautiful. Scientifically it is a ball of ugly matter that reflects sunlight. Why is it that when we see it, we are consumed with such a sense of awe and beauty? Something so simple. Maybe its not so much the moon itself, but the fact that we inherently know it’s creator. When I look at the moon, I not only take in its beauty, but feel the majesty of the Creator. The moon reflects the sun. Without the sun, it is darkness. The heavens declare the glory of God. This ball of mass declares the glory of God, therefore it is beautiful. How can we not marvel at it, for it points us to the Creator.

I pondered a lyric from a song that I never get sick of… “If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” I dare you to stand at the edge of the ocean, as it reflects the moonlight, looking out as far as you can see, and imagine it as an ocean of grace. I sang the lyric over and over. My mind could barely comprehend it. My heart could barely accept it. Mercy is not getting something we deserve; grace is getting something we don’t deserve. His grace is so rich in our lives, we’re drowning in it. I’m drowning in riches I don’t deserve.  Why? Simply because He loves me. 

I looked at my footprints in the sand as I turned around and backtracked from where I came. I imagined the generations before me, making their mark on this earth as well. Maybe their feet walked in the very same sand I was walking on. The people who have done some of the greatest things, who have changed the world, walked on the same earth I do. They worked with the same materials I have, they used a brain designed just the way mine is. They left imprints on the earth, whether good or bad. Some we know of to this day, some we will never hear of. Parts of the imprints of my small feet were washed out by the edges of the waves coming up. I imagined the line of prints as my life. Some of it will be in the open for all to see, and some of it will be faithfulness lived out in the secret of my sanctuary, just like the prints no longer visible in the sand. The world may never see, but God does.

And finally, I listened. As the sound of the waves rested in my ears, God simply said “Be with me.” Because you see the theme of my life right now, and maybe yours as well, is what am I to do next? My brain never shuts off in trying to plan out my life, like trying to put a puzzle together. I constantly move the pieces around, looking at all my options, trying to make the right fit. I try to figure out what countries I want to go to, what missions I want to go on, the people I want to reach, the man I want to marry, the kids I want to have… and arrange it all in the most logical way.

God laughs.

“Be with me, Michelle.”

Be with Him. When we simply remain in his presence constantly, we can’t help but know the thoughts of His heart. When I’m that close to God, when I’m sitting in His lap, there’s no way I cannot hear him.

So be with Him today. Be drunk in His presence. Drink in the moon. Stand by the ocean. Marvel at his creation. Listen. Sing love songs to Him. Be taken up with Him.

When we do that, things will happen we never dreamed of. Great big things are coming, and instead of trying to figure them out, I’m going to simply be with my Jesus, and partake in whatever He has for me... for us.

“I want to take my passion, and put it in a bottle, just to break it at your feet.
I want to take my affections, put them in a bottle, just to waste them at your feet.”
~Misty Edwards, “Let Me Love You More”