>Today is Not Judgement Day


>For the past month I’ve been engaged in an in-depth study of grace. In previous posts I have made no secret of the fact that I am a big fan of Social Justice. Some have misconstrued what I mean by that and assumed that it would result in lowest common denominator equal outcomes. (i.e. Communism). That is not what I mean at all, to me social justice amounts to nothing more than equal opportunity and personal accountability. The challenge comes when we apply personal accountability to the idea of grace.

Grace is one of those words that shows up in ancient writing like the Bible and Quran but that has lost a lot of its meaning in contemporary usage. What the early translators meant when they used the word was much deeper and all encompassing than what we consider it to mean today.

Dictionary.com gives no less than 20 definitions of the word Grace. Many of them have very little or nothing to do with the theological implications that I’m trying to work out here but two stand out.

• a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior
• the freely given, unmerited favor and love of god.

Last week was Halloween. It’s tradition around my house to watch the classic Peanuts TV special; “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.” We can usually find it on one of the major networks in the days leading up to October 31st. The post powerful moment comes toward the end, after Sally has spent the night in the pumpkin patch with Linus, without meeting the Great Pumpkin. Upon realizing that she has missed her chance to collect candy with her friends she turns on Linus and screams; “You Block-head! I’ve been robbed! I’ll sue! I demand restitution!” The image is one of complete contempt for Linus and what he has cost her.

In a world of justice based on personal accountability we are programmed, like Sally to demand restitution. How then are we to react when someone who has wronged us is offered this unmerited favor? More importantly, how are we to do the offering?

A full understanding of grace requires us to recognize how little we deserve it. When we break the law, or some other agreed upon rule we deserve punishment, the people we have wronged deserve restitution. Civilized people demand strict adherence to a code of conduct, whether it be written down as law or not. When someone breaks that code we are and should be held personally accountable. But that is not the way of grace. Grace, like love, “keeps no record of wrongs,” and therefore trumps justice.

The clearest example of this kind of grace that I can think of is in John 8. The Pharisees had found a woman caught in the act of adultery. The law clearly stated that she should be put to death but rather than apply the letter of the law Jesus asked if anyone present was completely innocent.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” [John 8:7]

As the full implication of Jesus words sank in every one of her accusers walked away and Jesus turned to the woman and said “Neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin.” [John 8:11]

Many will protest that grace just isn’t practical. Justice and the rule of law are important. Without it the world would fall into a trap of anarchy and oppression. I agree, but grace doesn’t let us off the hook either. Did you catch the subtlety in Jesus words to the woman? He stopped short of forgiveness, she was still accountable, just free to go for now.

As I’ve studied grace for these past few weeks one overarching theme as stood out; there will be a judgement day when we are called to make a defence of your actions in this life. But today is not Judgement Day. There is still time to make things right.

Go now and leave your life of sin.

>The Genovese Effect


>On March 13, 1964 29 year old Catherine (Kitty) Genovese was raped and stabbed to death in the parking lot of her New York City apartment. Details are sketchy but it is widely believed that up to 38 people saw or heard at least part of the attack, which occurred over the course of half an hour, and did nothing. One neighbour is reported to have turned up his radio so he couldn’t hear her screams; another was later quoted in the New York Times as saying “I just didn’t want to get involved.” All 38 witnesses expected someone else to do something and by the time someone finally did, Kitty Genovese was dead.

This event was one of the first of its kind, at least the first to be widely documented, and the public outcry prompted a lot of research into was has been called “diffusion of responsibility” or “the Genovese bystander effect”. Simply put, contrary to popular expectation, the more people that witness an event the less likely anyone is to step forward and intervene.

It’s been almost 47 years since the murder of Kitty Genovese. Our world is more interconnected than ever before. Events that occur on the other side of the world are beamed into our homes in real-time. We are bystanders to literally everything that is happening at every minute of every day. And yet when tragedy strikes many of us still do nothing.

Whenever I talk to people about investing in the lives of our less fortunate neighbours whether through planned financial giving, donation of surplus goods or simply giving of your time, I often receive the same kind of response.

– Isn’t organization a, b, or c already doing that? Why duplicate efforts?
– How do I know that I’m not supporting corruption?
– What makes you think this is going to make any difference at all?
– I’ve got enough problems of my own. I have to take care of myself and my own family first.

I must admit, at one time or another, I’ve used all of these arguments myself. But the fact of the matter is, if you see suffering and convince yourself to do nothing you have contributed to the diffusion of responsibility and people will die.

It is a sad reality that much of the donor funds given to worthy causes are wasted but that is not a reason to stop giving. Demand accountability, do your homework but please for the Love of God, do not allow suffering to continue when it is in your power to stop.

I can hear some of you already; “But it is not in my power.” Yes it most certainly is!

Helping people is almost always uncomfortable. It requires sacrifice. Perhaps going without a luxury item that you feel you deserve or taking time away from a favourite leisure activity. But when it comes to human beings, isn’t it worth it?

My friend Rick Tobias is the director of the Yonge Street Mission in downtown Toronto. He puts it this way, “The greatest lie ever told is that some people are worth more than others, not that it places certain people on a pedestal but that if some people are worth more it stands to reason that others are worth less. When you give yourself permission to think of others as worthless it opens up all manner of abuse and neglect.”

The next time you’re confronted with the suffering of a fellow human being remember Kitty Genovese and ask yourself; “how much is a life worth?”

>The Use of Money


>

The Protestant ethic as undermined not by modernism but by capitalism itself. The greatest single engine in the destruction of the Protestant ethic was the invention of the instalment plan, or instant credit. – Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism

When I was a young boy my father was a Baptist minister. My sisters and I used to laugh when he would “recycle” his sermons. He would never preach the same sermon to the same congregation mind you, but from time to time when he was asked to be a guest at a different church, rather than write a whole new sermon he would go back into his archives and find something that applied, update it a bit and presto! The only people that had any clue were my sisters, my mother and me.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with recycling sermons. All the great preachers have done it. If you weren’t in the original audience it’s new to you right? Even the great John Wesley (1703-1791) an itinerant preacher who travelled all over England and the New World recycled his sermons. According to most accounts one of Wesley’s most preached sermons was called The Use of Money.

A complete transcript of the sermon is available here
If you can get past the archaic language, it was the 18th century after all it’s well worth the read.

Wesley makes three points on the Use of Money; Gain all you can, Save all you can, and Give all you can. To me this is the very essence of the protestant work ethic. I touched in this back in February in a post called “How to Get Rich (or at least not go broke)” but it bears some repeating, in a way I guess I’m recycling my message too, just like my dad and John Wesley.

As the first decade of the new millennium draws to a close I’m sad to say the protestant work ethic is dead.

It started in the 60s when big government started offering big plans supported through big taxes that took away the incentive and much of the ability of individuals to give on their own. Big organizations are nowhere near as efficient as individuals at getting support to those who need it. By one account $2.3 trillion has been given through government supported institutional aid to the poorest nations of Africa since 1949 with little measurable increase in per-capita income for individuals over that time. By contrast there is a mounting body of evidence that suggest countries that have shunned aid, or more accurately been shunned by aid, have actually fared better. (William Easterly – The White Man’s Burden)

The damage caused to the protest work ethic by taxpayer support aid has come by removing individuals from the process. The thinking follows that since government is going to take the money from me in the form of taxes anyway why should I give more or get involved? Without direct engagement of the donors however, in this case taxpayers, accountability suffers and corruption takes over, hence the aforementioned $2.3 trillion that has largely gone to waste.

By the mid 80s a new cancer had emerged in the protest work ethic. Easy credit in the form of lower interest rates and multiple credit cards made it possible to finance the purchase of everything from cars to home furnishings, clothing and even everyday items like food. With easy credit the notion of saving and delayed gratification gave way to buy now and pay later. The worst part was (and still is) that society became addicted to the free flow of cash and rather than put the brakes on by raising interest rates, which has the dual effect of discouraging borrowing while encouraging saving, governments kept the rates low. It’s a dirty little secret that government and big business don’t actually want you to save. Saved money is money that is taken out of circulation and not contributing to the economy.

For more on the savings verse the free flow of capital debate check this out this video; The Story of Stuff.

In recent years we have begun to see the last nail in the coffin of the protestant work ethic. The drive to gain all you can, indeed any desire to work for anything, has died. In this era of high taxation, easy credit and billion dollar bail outs, many are asking, “why bother?” Why bother, when the government is going to tax me into the ground and waste my hard earned money on inefficient programs that I don’t want? Why bother when I can finance my life on easy credit and consume all I want, now?

Why indeed?

I am calling for nothing less than a complete return to the protestant work ethic. Work hard (gain all you can), resist the temptation to spend on easy credit (save all you can) and support those in need (give all you can). Anglo-Saxon western society, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada were built on this. The foundation of our great society is crumbling but it’s not too late to fix it. Government isn’t going to change its policy overnight. Taxes will stay high and interest rates will stay low but if enough of us buck the trend we just might turn this thing around.

>Asleep in The Light


>Keith Green was quite possibly one of the most influential of the contemporary Gospel singers of the late 1970s. He was originally signed to Decca Records in 1965, at the age of 12, with the hope of making him a teen idol but as he matured his strong Christian faith caused him to balk at most of the lyrics to the songs he sang. By the mid 70s Decca had given up on him and released him from his contract.

In 1976 Green, now 23, signed a new contract with contemporary Gospel label Sparrow records and his first album was released in 1977. By the time of his tragic death in a plane crash in 1982 Green had release 4 more albums of praise and worship songs, with a few well timed barbs at the established church thrown in for good measure.

What follows are the lyrics to my personal favourite of his works. Asleep in The Light first appeared in 1978 on the album No Compromise. In it Green pulls no punches, pleading with the Christian church to put faith into action. This past week I’ve been meditating on Matthew 25, whenever I think of Jesus words about caring for the weak or the needy I think of this song.

I challenge you to read these lyrics and not feel a little uncomfortable about what you’re doing for the “least of these”;

Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don’t you care, don’t you care
Are you gonna let them drown

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done

“Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord”
You know it’s all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can’t you see it’s such a sin?

Cause He brings people to your door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
“God bless you, be at peace”
And all heaven just weeps
Cause Jesus came to your door
You’ve left him out on the streets

Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay

God’s calling and you’re the one
But like Jonah you run
He’s told you to speak
But you keep holding it in,
Oh can’t you see it’s such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
Cause it’s asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can’t even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on, get out of your bed

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done
You close your eyes
And pretend the job’s done

Don’t close your eyes
Don’t pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with Me my love,
Come away, from this mess, come away with Me, my love.

Of course just reading the lyrics doesn’t give the emotion of them justice, so if you aren’t uncomfortable yet watch this concert footage and listen to the emotion. There’s some cheesy 1970s editing going on and he goes flat a few times but I dare you not weep!

What’s God calling for you? Don’t close your eyes!

Checking out the Believer’s Trust page for more information on God’s calling for me and to join the movement.

>Teach a Man to Fish…


>

Give a man a fish and he eats for day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime [Chinese Proverb]

For the poorest of the poor in today’s world that old proverb is bullshit!

It should read; Teach a man to fish, and he just gets enough of a glimpse of what life could be like if he could afford a damn boat, that he hates you even more when you leave him standing on the shore!

The world’s poor already know how to fish, and grow crops and manufacture any number of consumer goods. What they lack is credit and the ability to get their commodities to market.

Earlier this week the United Nations General Assembly met to discuss the progress to date on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Of the 8 goals for reducing poverty and increasing equality only goal number 8 (Develop a Global Partnership for Development) even touches on the need to help develop small business. Yet it is small and medium sized business, especially those based in agriculture, that have proven time and time again to be the engine of economic growth for the wealthiest countries. If businesses were supported and given the chance to grow, I dare say the implementation of all of the MDGs would be made easier. With increasing domestic assets and sources of taxation the lesser developed countries would not be as dependent on foreign assistance thus lowering the cost of aid doled out by the wealthier nations. It’s a win-win!

Since the early 1990s Micro-Finance has become one of the fastest growing and most effective methods of raising real people out of poverty. Small, low-interest loans, which encourage trade among the world’s poorest, have been proven to move people from dependency on foreign handouts for mere survival into productive economies. Raising people out of poverty increases world wide security, reduces the threat of terrorism and violence and lessens strain on the environment.

This past week I hit 100 followers. I promised myself that when that happened it would be time to step it up and go from a passive journal to a real on-line community. I want to this blog to become a meeting place for people who are passionate for change.

My focus is Micro-Finance. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. I know first-hand what it’s like to build a business from scratch only to have it ripped away from you by market forces beyond your control, I know how hard it is to pour your heart and soul into something only to be told that you are a bad risk and I know that even a tiny bit of credit on fair terms can make all the difference in the world.

I am asking each and every one of my followers to get involved and help entrepreneurs. It’s the only way that makes long-term sense in fighting global poverty. Go to the Believer’s Trust tab at the top of this page to find out how.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal. – Albert Pike

>This is NOT okay!


>

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. [Jesus; Matthew 25: 35,36]

As many of you who have been tracking with me for a while will know one of my main points on this blog has been that Peace without Justice is Oppression. Now I recently heard Justice defined as being motivated by compassion where compassion, which literally means “to suffer with” or “to suffer alongside”, is an emotional response to the absence of Justice. Put simply compassion is the emotion we feel when we are NOT okay with the suffering we see, it causes us to join with the sufferer on an emotional level.

Thanks to our 24hr a day news media, compassion is often felt by and for people on opposite sides of the world whom we will never meet. Regardless of physical distance and vast cultural or political differences we can all relate to suffering. Who can forget the out pouring of compassion we all experienced just 8 months ago when an earthquake practically destroyed the island of Haiti or even today while flood waters cover one fifth of Pakistan?

Natural disasters are a natural fit for compassion but what about man-made disasters?

Canada is currently debating legislation which would make it legal (although still against the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights) for the coast guard to board ships suspected of carrying migrants while still in international waters and keep them from our shores. Why? Because the minute the ship enters Canadian waters the passengers would have the right to petition for refugee status. This could take years to resolve, usually resulting in the granting of permanent residency and a possible increase in human trafficking.

There is a clear double standard at play here. Why are we so willing to spend billions of dollars to help rebuild shattered lives when natural disasters hit while on the other hand crying foul and claiming we can’t afford to help when war and political unrest force people from their homes and quite literally onto our doorstep? The only crime these refugees have committed is having been born into a culture and a time that puts them in the minority surrounded by people who treat them as second (or even third) class citizens. There is no shame and certainly no crime in seeking a better life on the other side of the world. Isn’t that what our ancestors did with they founded this country?

Those of you who follow Canadian news media of course know that I am referring to the recent wave of Tamil refugees to land on the coast of British Columbia. But similar scenarios have also been played out on the coasts of the United States and Australia.

If you don’t want refugees showing up on your shores the way to stop them isn’t through confrontation on the high seas. You instead need to address the living conditions, both social and economic, that they face at home. How many Tamils would be willing make a risky and uncomfortable journey to Canada if it meant leaving a comfortable life and secure future in Sri Lanka?

Unfortunately debating foreign policy while refugees are knocking on your door is kind of like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. They’re here we have to deal with them and Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats, excerpted above from Matthew 25:31-46 is a good one to keep in mind while we do.

>The Lonesome Valley


>Every so often, as I continue to develop this blog I run into something that causes me to stop and revise a lot of what I thought before. It’s like coming up to a T in the road I can’t continue in a straight line anymore, I have to make a turn. This past week has been like that for me.

After just over a year of writing I finally decided to take a closer look at existential philosophy. To be honest I used to think that the whole idea of existentialism was pointless and I had very little time for it. But that was before I understood what it really means. Funny how that works sometimes isn’t it?

The reason that I initially resisted existentialism was that I thought it was fatalistic. I thought that the statement at the core of existentialism was that life has no meaning and no purpose, que sera sera so to speak, but as I began to take a closer look at it I realized that couldn’t be further from the truth. In actual fact the core of existentialism isn’t a statement all but a question.

Existentialist don’t start by saying there is no meaning, they start by asking what the meaning is. When I realized that I began to understand that I am an existentialist and that The Earworm is an ongoing existential study of our post modern society.

While the search for a meaning to life is at the heart of existentialism, according to psychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl the question itself is actually a red herring. In his landmark book “Man’s Search for Meaning” first published in 1945, Frankl explains that life demands meaning from us, not the other way around. For man to ask “what is the meaning of life” is to confuse the issue by trying to put the answer outside of ourselves when it is really life itself that demands, “what is the meaning of you?”

Put another way; it is up to each of us to find meaning in our own lives. Without it we may as well just give up and die right now.

When Dr. Frankl returned to clinical practise after three years as a prisoner at Auschwitz, witnessing and surviving through some of the worst human atrocities ever perpetrated, he would often ask suicidal patients what had stopped them before they came to him. After all, if they really wanted to kill themselves, wouldn’t they be dead already? The answers he got pointed to the meaning and higher purpose that his patients were able to find even in the depths of their own despair. They would talk about love, family and unfulfilled dreams. In a word, they would talk about meaning.

Nietzsche said that “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how”. Pain and suffering are a fact of life. No one knew that better than Dr. Frankl, but it is meaning and purpose, despite that pain and suffering that can see us through absolutely anything.

There is a meaning to life, but it’s up to you to find it. In the words of an old American Spiritual;

We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
O, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.

Our task is to find meaning in the walk.

>Renouncing Religion


>There’s been a lot of talk lately about renouncing religion. It started about a week ago when author Anne Rice went on Facebook and renounced her association with Christianity.

In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen – Anne Rice

I must say that while I applaud Ms Rice for standing up and saying this, I’ve never experienced life in a church that is anything like what she describes. Growing up my church welcomed all comers. We accepted the broken, those struggling with the societal norms of sexuality, were home to several feminists, advocated for the use of condoms and the pill, never asked or suggested who people should vote for, and one year my Sunday-school teacher was a micro-biologist.

I first learned the term “legalism” in high-school. I was stunned! Stunned that someone could take the words of Jesus and twist them into something so rigid and ugly. I was even more stunned that some people could so completely ignore the words of Jesus and base a so called Christian worldview on modern teachers who were clearly manipulating religion for their own gain.

In 1987, televangelist Jim Baker was sentenced to prison for tax evasion and his marriage collapsed as a result of the same kinds of sin that people in my church were completely open about. Baker’s disgrace, and revelations that his wife was addicted to prescription drugs, came only a few years after our own pastor had confessed of a similar sin. My heart went out to the Bakers but I prayed even more for those who so viciously attacked them. I couldn’t help but ask “What kind of God would stand for this?”

I was recently asked if I was a man of precept or a man of principle. There must have a been a blank look on my face because my interrogator went on to clarify that a man of precept follows the rules while a man of principle interprets them and adapts along with the situation. With that clarification in mind I had to say that I definitely like to think of myself as a man of principle and I think Jesus was too. But that doesn’t mean you can throw out the precepts, they are there for a reason, you just need to get at the principle that informed them in the first place so that you can make an intelligent judgement.

Getting at the principle behind the precepts is what Jesus was doing in the Sermon on the Mount and it’s what he meant when he said he had come to fulfill the law. Starting in verse 21 of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus gives six clarifications of some very popular precepts. He starts by stating the precept, “you have heard it said” and then giving the principle, “but I say to you”. In every case the principle both frees his audience from a rigid interpretation of a popular precept and guides them deeper and closer to the heart of God; don’t murder becomes guard against anger, don’t commit adultery becomes be careful of lust, etc.

So to Anne Rice and all those who are struggling with legalism let me take a stab at some of the precepts you may find so offensive and point to the heart of God.

– You have heard it said; the church is anti-gay, but I say to you; expressions of sexuality are private and those who may not fit your definition of normal are still your neighbour and deserving of love and respect. (Matthew 22:37-40)
– You have heard it said; the church is anti-feminist, but I say to you; women are a vital part of your community and just as capable as men of leadership. (Judges 4:4-5)
– You have heard it said, the church is anti-artificial birth control, but I say to you; sex is awesome, enjoy! But regardless of your marital status do not risk bringing a child into this world if you are un-prepared to be a parent, it is a far greater sin to abandon or neglect a child than to prevent their conception. (Matthew 18:10)
– You have heard it said, the church is anti-democrat, but I say to you; the Lord can use all governments for His purpose, vote based on principles and know that no matter what, the Lord is in control. (Romans 13:1,2)
– You have heard it said, the church is anti-science, but I say to you; the universe is an amazing place, explore, study, and understand. (Genesis 1:28)

I’m glad Ms Rice started this conversation and I hope that she and others like her are able to find a home in a gay friendly, feminist friendly, birth-control friendly, democrat friendly and science friendly community of believers. If not she can call me, I know a few.

In Jesus’ name – Lauren

>Tough Decisions


>Have you ever had to make a tough decision, one that had the potential to forever alter the course of your life? Of course you have, we all have.

I find myself this weekend faced with such a decision. If you knew all the details I’m sure some of you would say it’s not a tough decision at all, a no brainer as the common saying goes. But for me it’s not so easy.

You see, there are at least three distinct courses of action that I could take, each with its own probable outcome. Only one possible result which in my mind is the least likely is desirable at this point. The desirable result is the least likely simple because it depends too much on circumstances beyond my control. The longer I hold out for the desirable result, the worse the consequences of the least desirable options become. The classic “catch 22” as they say.

I’m currently reading Rudolf Giuliani’s memoir and leadership manual, simply titled “Leadership”.

On a side note, even though I live in Canada and have no standing in U.S. domestic politics, based on what I have personally observed and read so far I think this guy would have made a great president. Maybe it’s not too late, for what it’s worth to my American friends, forget about Palin and convince Giuliani to run again, you’ll thank me later.

Anyway…

The biggest thing I’m taking away from this book at this time in my life is that the best decisions are usually the ones that take the longest to make. In the chapter on making tough decisions Giuliani says the first step is to figure out the last possible moment a plan needs to be put into action in order for it to be successful. Then begin putting all the pieces in place to implement that plan while always remaining open to an alternative course right up until the end, that way if a better solution presents itself at the last minute you aren’t committed to what would have been a bad decision just because you didn’t see any other options at first.

So here I am with three plans. Plan A, the most desirable would need to be implemented no later than this coming Thursday in order to be successful. If Plan A fails, Plan B would need to commence immediately and would require a lot of juggling in order to work. Failing Plan B, Plan C would go into effect by default, Plan C isn’t really a plan, its’ more like damage control. Being committed to Plan A at this point requires patience but being realistic also dictates that I be ready with Plans B and C and open to a possible plan D that I haven’t even thought of yet.

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst as the saying goes.

>Seasons


>Who saw Rent? If you didn’t watch this!

Seasons of Love – Rent

I made my first posting on August 7th 2009 but since the month of July is coming to an end I figured now was as good a time as any to celebrate my first year in the blogosphere.

Whenever I think about looking back over a previous year I remember this song. “How do you measure a year? In 525,600 moments so dear.”

First off I want to thank each and everyone one of you for following. It’s not easy to keep up with people on-line and committing to read the random thoughts of a perfect stranger every week is commendable. The time I spent reading your comments and researching your blogs, although not quite 525,600 minutes has been dear to me.

The comments I have received have been both encouraging and challenging. On more than one occasion I’ve been forced to take another look at certain issues and even changed my opinion once or twice. I’m glad this blog has opened up so much debate, that was my original intention and I hope you all continue to have as much fun with it as I have.

My friend Cary talks a lot about seasons. Whenever he tells a story about his past he will often say that such and such went on “for a season” until circumstances changed. When I started writing The Earworm I was embarking on a season of inquiry. I have a big heart and so much of what I see around me is painful to look at; poverty, injustice, war, oppression, just turn on the news or surf the internet for a few minutes and it can be overwhelming. For too long I had allowed myself to look away but the more a forced myself to stare it in the face the more impotent I began to feel towards it.

In the last year I have read 49 books on topics ranging from Economics and International Development to Politics and Theology, joined 23 blogs and attended a conference on international development. But I know I have barely scratched the surface. My book list continues to grow and is currently up to 74 more titles that I wish to read and as I continue to write I’m sure I will come into contact with several more bloggers. Although the inquiry will continue and I will still use this forum to flesh out my thoughts I am now preparing to move into a season of action.

Back in early November I wrote a post called Believer’s Trust. It was a rudimentary idea about a for-profit Micro-Finance bank. I have since changed my opinion about the for-profit aspect of things. Somehow making a profit on the backs of the World’s poor seems immoral. I also believe that there are certain things that micro-finance is ill-suited to provide, such as health care and education. And lastly I feel that an exclusive focus on developing economies half a world away is short sighted. A recent study showed that over 1000 people per month arrive in Canada and settle within a 20 mile radius of Pearson International Airport. As I sit here in my home office I can literally watch them land. Many end up living in poverty in the thousands of cheap apartments that dot the landscape all along the 400 series highways ringing Toronto. As a result they are my neighbours.

One of the things that became obvious to me during this season of inquiry is that I lack the education required to build a Micro-Finance bank. You’re never too old to learn but as I approach my 38th birthday I am too old to invest a lot of time in formal schooling. What I don’t lack is passion and an ability to sell ideas. Therefore Believer’s Trust will become a fund raising organization that will partner with existing NGOs already operating in areas of Health Care, Education and Micro-Finance both at home and around the world.

I’m in the process of writing a business plan and have opened a new page on this website that will detail how Believer’s Trust will function. Watch this space for more details and how you can become involved.

As I prepare to sign off, I’m reminded of the parable of the talents. (Matthew 25:14-28) God has given me a talent, entrusted me with the ability build business and sell ideas. I’ve used that talent all my life for my own personal gain now is the time to use it for His Kingdom.

Stay tuned!