Abundance of critics, prophets are rare

If one were to read the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, one would quickly see that one of the roles of the prophet is to criticize their current context.  For instance take this little gem in which Amos has a word to say to the powerful and rich people of his day: 

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan
   who are on Mount Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
   who say to their husbands, ‘Bring something to drink!’ 
The Lord God has sworn by his holiness:
   The time is surely coming upon you,
when they shall take you away with hooks,
   even the last of you with fish-hooks. 

It is easy for people to critique the world around them.  From Tea Party to Occupy to the general "haters", people can critique rather well.  In the local church I hear many critiques: 

"We spend too much on the building."
"We are hypocritical." 
"We so not engage the marginalized."
"We have lame worship."
"We do no have enough members."
"We do not have a good ______ ministry."

You get the idea.

Here is the thing though, anyone can critique.  Heck, my three year old son can critique the world around him rather well.  His favorite word at times is, "No!'  

Never has my son's favorite word been "Yes!"  

Maybe we are quick to attach ourselves to the word "No" because we know that there is something wrong with our world.  Or maybe it is because it is safer to say "No" than to say anything else.  

The Church is at its best when we are able to help people mature from constantly saying "No" and critiquing the world to say "Yes."  

We are at our best when we are able to help people move from saying "I am not..." to saying "I am..."  

We are at our best when we are able to help society move from saying "We are not..." to saying "We are..."

We are at our best when we help people move from being critics to being prophets.

We are living into the role of the prophet when we are no longer held hostage to the word "No" and the worldview of critique.  We are living into the role of the prophet when we are able to see the world for what it is and what it could be rather than what it is not.  

Critics are annoying or comical and flash in the pan.

Prophets are cemented into our collective imagination and live forever.  

Perhaps the Church could re-discover the role of prophets in our time.  

Heaven knows we have an abundance of critics.

Jubilee Bank

KIVA is a micro-lending organization which allows individuals to operate like a bank.  Someone in a developing country would like to, say, expand their business selling widgets.  This entrepreneur does not have the initial capital to front to cost of expansion and thus they contact KIVA.  KIVA then sets up a loan and then asks people like you and me to donate our money in order to "fund" the loan.  Your donation can be as small as a few dollars, this is in part why it is called "micro-lending".  In time, the entrepreneur pays back the loan which you and several others gave.

It makes a lot of sense to make a number of loans in developing nations, in part because $500 in Kenya goes much farther than in developed nations.

KIVA has helped transform lives and I hope you might consider becoming a micro-lender.

A real problem in the United States is that 15% of the population lives at or below the poverty line (which defined as $22,000 for a family of four), which is a record for since the data has been captured in censuses.  In addition, it is estimated that 58% of Americans will at some point live at that poverty level for at least one year.

Statistics can be cited all day long, but that is not the point of this post.

The point is to share with you a new project I am beginning to work on with a few other people (there are four of us) - currently called "Jubilee Bank".

The dream is a micro-lending organization in which the working poor of Fort Worth might be able to acquire loans to cover costs of unforeseen accidents - flat tires, sick child, window unit goes out, etc.

The dream is still just a dream, but there are a few things which are currently in action that take the dream toward a step into reality.

If you have any thoughts on how to set up Jubilee Bank that might be fruitful for those in Fort Worth Texas, post a comment.  I meet with a few people in the coming days to see if this idea can become a reality.



Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it. Harry Emerson Fosdick

What struck me about this quote is that I deeply resonate with the "Be the change you wish to see in the world" quote. Fosdick adds a layer onto this idea and reminds Christians are to actually cause change.

And as I look at my life I really wonder, each and every day, what change have I caused? Sure I might be able to say I have helped people to see alternate ways of being or thinking about Christianity, Jesus or God. But that is about the extent of what I feel I have caused.

There are several things I wish to cause to change in my immediate setting: shifting youth ministry from a single personality driven ministry to a contemplative ministry and developing a collation for young adult clergy to give not only suggestions on ways out of some of the problems we face but also committing us to doing something about them.

Both of these are big things for me. There are tons of administrative and background work. It will take a long time and will be a lot of work for me in the beginning. But in the end each of these will yield a greater good.

My problem with causing change is the change that I dream about is too big for me to dent. If only I was motivated to change the wall color in my house, I might be able to actually cause that change. These other dreams, I need help.

How do you get help for a dream?