Ministry Spotlight: Tara Livesay runs Twin Cities marathon. Raises money for missionary work in Haiti.

Troy and Tara Livesay are two missionaries to Haiti who were called to serve in Haiti.  They serve with Heartline Ministries and work as well with World Wide Village to both reach those in Haiti with their physical and spiritual needs.  In other words they not only address the poverty, illness, and other issues that easily gain the attention of the world, but they also share the Good News of the Gospel of  Jesus, and train others to do so as well.  Tara and Troy left Minnesota in 2006 where I met them as they are members of New Joy Church in Rogers, Minnesota

It has long been the intent of this blog to spotlight the work they do in Haiti, it was always something on the “to do” list of things to post on the blog.  Well, Tara Livesay recently had an article published about her and some of their work in the Star Tribune.   Tara caught the attention of the Star Tribune because the Livesay family has raised over $50,000 in support for starving kids in Haiti Tara running in tomorrows Twin Cities marathon.  The money is going specifically to supply Medika Mamba which translated means medical peanut butter. It is a nutritional peanut butter that kids enjoy eating and brings children from the depths of starvation back to health.  Tara reported on her blog about God’s call to run to raise money for these poor kids on their blog here: http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2009/05/marathoning-for-haiti.html.  They also show some results of Medika Mamba on their website here:  http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2009/05/medika-mamba-graduates.html.

This family are ones truly walking in following God’s love. They are walking fully in worshipping in spirit and truth.  They followed God at much loss to a land of great poverty. They walk out what it is to be Jesus to others as well as speak about the Gospel.  They are making a clear difference in the lives children both physically to the point of drawing the attention of the world, and spiritually through the spreading of the Gospel and making disciples.  God has much to teach us in their example of following God’s lead and not settling for complacent comfortability. 

In closing this spotlight, take a moment and view this family video which gives some of the facts about Haiti and a little bit about their ministry.  You can read more about at their blog http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/ or their ministry websites: Heartline Ministries and World Wide Village. You also can still donate to help starving children in Haiti get Medika Mamba just go to their blog and click on the box in the upper left section.

Also let these people challenge you to follow God with your whole heart and go wherever God leads.  Be about sharing the love of God in both word and deed. As reflect on Tara running a marathon and what it means for Christians and our direction to run the race set before us. 

News Commentary: Jeff Dubay Update

Previously, I commented on the downfall for former Twin Cities sports radio personality Jeff Dubay. Since then he had entered a diversionary program with the hopes of avoiding legal consequences.  Well, I just recently learned of an update posted on June 16th in the Minneapolis Star Tribune where he is now due to face a year in jail because he failed the diversionary program.  He has continued to a slave to his addiction.  His story is a sad one. It is one where people who have not fallen to such an addiction can easily cast asperions and look down on Jeff Dubay, but he is really no different then the rest of us. 

KFAN sports personality Dan Barerrio today made a comment essentially suggesting that Jeff is just an adolscent who has not grown up.  Such a comment fails to grasp the elements of addiction that are common to us all.  We all have areas we turn to for satisfaction or to cope.  Our desires often lead to our being slaves to any number of things that become the focal point of life.  Some common things people reach the point of serving are food, entertainment, sex, and work.  For the likes of Dan Barerrio and others, Jeff’s behavior is one to castigate based on the fact that it led him to destruction.  The destructiveness of drug and alcohol addiction is readily apparent, the desctruction of other areas of self-focus on not quite as clear but the ultimate destructiveness is true.  

Again, the prayer for Jeff Dubay is that he finds the truth of the Gospel where there is true freedom and grace.  Jail time may well help him be at a point of re-evaluating and perhaps have a chance to turn to Jesus.  Jeff and Dan and others need to realize that ultimately we all fall short.  It is not about being “strong enough” nor “growing up.” It is a matter that when we seek to serve our self, depend on our own morality we will falter.  We all need a savior for there is no one righteous.  We all choose what we serve, the sins birthed through our own selfish desires, or surrender to Jesus and his gift of covering the consequences of our continual failing to do what is right and moral.

So, I ask the reader, where are you in life? What is there in your life that dominates and you live your life essentially serving?  A re you depending on your own will and ability to choose the moral path?  What is stopping you from turning to Jesus the Messiah?   Are you on the path to destruction?  It is real easy to be proud of self or not making choices that Jeff has made, but he is no different then any of us.  He is a man who was sure of self, built his kingdom and eventually faltered and made choices that led to his own destruction.  The paths of destruction are wide and many and most people do not want to hear that the are on such a path.  We can easily see the failures of others and ignore our own selfish evils.

Mac Hammond: Pride, Prosperity and the Church

Pastor Mac Hammond of Living Word Christian Center has found himself in a lot of trouble. He recently made the news (http://www.startribune.com/local/north/27251534.html?page=4&c=y) by being audited by the IRS.  Apparently the impetus for the audit is rooted in Mac Hammond publicly endorsing current Representative, Michelle Bachman, from his pulpit.  The endorsement resulted in those who champion separation of church and state to want the IRS involved and for the church to be stripped of their tax exempt status. According to the Star Tribune article, Mac Hammond in February 2007, apparently in response to such challenges, stated he would “almost welcome an IRS audit.”

            The response to me comes off as a challenge from pride, and like many challenges from pride, it results in being met full force.  The IRS is now auditing Mac Hammond and Living Word Christian Center but not because of direct fall out from giving Michelle Bachman time from the pulpit but rather because of improprieties seen by the IRS in how the church handled loans to Mac Hammond as well as how they managed his purchase and subsequent leasing to the church of a private jet. 

            Whether or not any actual malfeasance took place has yet to be determined but regardless of whether or not any malfeasance occurred, the very need for the investigation is troubling.  We are called to avoid all appearance of evil. So even if there is no violation of IRS code or breaking of the law, the very fact that there is an appearance of wrong doing should be troubling.

            At the heart of the matter really comes down to the concept preached of the “prosperity” gospel where you are given “increase” based on giving. Now while it is true that God blesses those who give generously, the tone of the “prosperity” gospel is that of increase in your personal kingdom. It becomes as you give you will gain increase.  Ultimately, the increase we should care about is increase in the Kingdom of God.

            Unfortunately, when scandal of any sort hits a church or a congregation, all of what they have done is called into question.  The truth when mixed with error brings confusion and damages people.  It is even more troubling when leadership engages in behavior that at a minimum has the look of impropriety.

            We all need to be careful.  Each of us easily can go down the road of building our own kingdoms. Each of us can get caught in the wanting or more.  Each of us can get caught in what feels good or right at the moment.  Temptations abound. However, the essence of “prosperity” teaching can encourage the feeding of our lusts and pride. 

            When we recognize the feeding of our lusts and pride we need to repent and turn from those paths.  I pray that in this, Mac Hammond and those in position at Living Word Christian Center be brought into awareness of a need to repent of chasing after lust and pride. Now, that is not to say that the church and Mac Hammond haven’t benefited others for the Kingdom of God but in looking at these events the question has to be which kingdom was being served in greater measure.

           

Cultural Analysis: Timberwolve’s 2008 Draft and Trade

Well this post will be different then the other posts on this blog but I intend that most every post on this site will shed light and reflect on something related to human nature and sin and ultimately point to Jesus Christ the Messiah.  So what is there in the recent Timberwolves actions that can be examined in that light?  Well it shows the effects of a lack of cohesion and an abundance of pride.  It also points to the problems of a lack of accountability.  But first let’s review the facts.

            The Timberwolves are a team that rebuilding.  They are in essence starting over.  They received the third slot in the draft.  They selected a projected NBA superstar in OJ Mayo who reportedly wowed many Timberwolves officials. Fred Hoiberg and Randy Wittman both spoke as if they expected OJ Mayo to remain a Wolf. Fred Hoiberg in fact said “This means we’re keeping him.” (www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/21828189.html?location_refer=Homepage:highlightModules:6) Instead, in a deal after midnight, Kevin McHale traded OJ Mayo and some bad contracts for Kevin Love, Mike Miller and a couple of bit players to match contracts to the surprise of many.  However, given the history of Kevin McHale’s management of the Timberwolve’s is should be as no surprise.

         Kevin McHale has made similar deals twice before.  The first incident was the trade of Ray Allen for Stephan Marbury. It was hailed at the time as a good move and done for “chemistry” reasons.  It initially seemed a wise deal and Garnett, Gugliotta, and Marbury were seen as cornerstone players that would lead the Timberwolves to much greatness.  Well the chemistry wasn’t there and the trade is now seen as disaster and Kevin Garnett has won a championship with Ray Allen as a teammate. 

            The second trade was two years ago with the Brandon Roy and Randy Foye swap.  Right now on paper it look to be a huge mistake with a blossoming star player traded for a serviceable player.

            And now we have this trade.  NBA pundits have proclaimed OJ Mayo to have the potential of an NBA superstar.  The same has not been said for Kevin Love.  The primary description of Kevin Love as a basketball player is that he has a high basketball IQ and sees the game well.  It is said his high basketball IQ makes up for shortcomings such as his speed.  So why did Kevin McHale trade for this player.  Simple, it is because he sees himself in Kevin Love.  Kevin told Mr. McHale that he has patterned his game after Mr. McHale. 

            In reflecting upon these actions it comes down to a matter of pride. Mr. McHale it seems appears to think he knows better.  He had the authority to make the move and chose to over-ride his coach and his potential future replacement.  Clearly he has made such moves in past that cost the team dearly.  He is able to make such a move because he has no real accountability. The team owner, Glen Taylor simply will not fire Mr. McHale. He can do as he pleases.  It shows that there is no real cohesion in management.  Mr. McHale simply does what he wants, regardless of input from others. Mr. McHale even displayed a lack of communication. It strikes me as prideful, selfish, and arrogant.

           Granted, Mr. McHale may end up proving right in terms of the benefit of the team but his track record says differently.  It seems to me he traded a superstar for a three point shooter and a McHale wannabe.   Mr. McHale does what is right in his own eyes.

            In applying this to life, how often in make choices and decision do we simply do what we think is right in our own eyes.  How often do we ignore the advice of others?  How often do we do exactly what Mr. McHale has done with this trade? I would argue frequently. 

We all at some level try and build our own kingdoms and do what is right in our own eyes. We ignore what we don’t want to hear and do what we think is best.  We are all prideful and arrogant and selfish.  We all need Jesus Christ to break us free us from ourselves. We need to all accept Jesus as Messiah and take the gift of his payment for our own selfish choices.

One other aspect worth noting is that part of how the Timberwolves got into there situation is two fold: Trying to take a short-cut, and accommodation. 

The Timberwolves took a short cut in skirting league rules with the Joe Smith contract.  The attempt backfired and cost them multiple draft picks.  Joe Smith is not even a brilliant player. He is serviceable. He had a good relationship with Kevin Garnett however, and so Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale tried to take a short cut. 

We can learn from this that it doesn’t pay to take short cuts.  When we do, we do so at future risk. The bible is filled with the examples of people taking short cuts and doing great harm that last generations.

Then I want to add in the danger of accommodation.  Mr. McHale displays a firm belief in accommodating his star player requests.  Marbury, Joe Smith, and many other mistakes were all made to accommodate Kevin Garnett. Accommodation always comes at a cost and usually the cost ultimately leads to destruction.  We can think accommodation is peace or leads to peace. We can think it will lead to cohesion, but accommodation is but illusion.

What are your thoughts on this matter? I would appreciate any comments you have regarding my commentary. And examine yourself, where are you making choices based on your own prideful assessments Is there any way you are engaging in short-cuts?  Where and what  are you accommodating in your life?