I am a Human Being

There is a lot of crap in the world today, no doubt about it. Sin is everywhere and people are hurting. There is no denying it. Tonight I gave a presentation on Human Trafficking to some cool local college students. As they discovered, this issue is dark. The only hope I see in it all, is the light of Christ which reveals itself in those who know Christ on the personal level. As Moses' face radiated after seeing God, so do Christ's followers radiate light where there is darkness. This video is what light looks like when shone over the dark. I am a human being. I am loved. I am a work of art. I am precious. I am created with purpose. I am no different than any other person God has created. Here is a man who gets what it means to be a created human being and live with purpose. It's awesome really what one person can do. This guy could be you. 

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A new focus

Poverty can be hidden, it can be covered, it can be pushed to the outskirts so it's not visible to the business class of a city, but it is still there. The reality of such tragedies hit me this week, and of all places here, in the capital city, in a sprawling urban metropolis, poverty can be seen at its worst. Well, in my imagination at its worst, but in the reality of things, those starving people living not two blocks from my house are the middle class of Burkina. Out in the villages, three, four hundred kilometers from Ouaga is where desperation is screaming at you everywhere you go.
Blaise's Barber Shop!  
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Your Worldview!?

The children at the Shalom school are inspiring, and they have worked their magic on me. Without education their future isn't bright, or it wouldn't seem bright to us Westerners. In America it's stressed that if you don't finish high school then your future will be flipping burgers and digging ditches. Here finishing primary school is barely a goal, flipping burgers and digging ditches is a career, and anything more is a gift from god. When I get home from Burkina I plan on fund raising money for the Shalom school. I want those kids to have all the tools necessary for their education. Even though they'll most likely never have electricity, I want to fund raise enough money to spoil them in every other regard! Look around and be thankful for what you have. We are a a society privileged to the fullest. It takes coming somewhere like this, and working on a day to day basis with the people to truly be grateful. If you think you are, well think again.
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So what's the scenaRIO ...

Today's my first day back. For the past week, I was in Rio de Janeiro working with two organizations -- one focused on church planting and the other on social justice. In a profound way, both are working for the Kingdom of God. 

Restore Brazil is an organization run by Jay Bauman, who is both a prolific leader as he is a social media nut. You can find him on Twitter at @baumanjay and on his blog. Please check out his organization, Restore Brazil.

Rio de Paz is an unabashed human rights organization run by Antonio Carlos Costa. They work for human rights for prisoners and social justice for the poor living in the favela. They're organization focuses on three main plagues of Rio: violence, poverty, corruption. Antonio is also has a strong social media presence, albeit, in Portugese.

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Sherlock Holmes and the Human Condition

Why do some literary characters stick around in our consciousness? Take for example, Boo Radley and the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee’s only novel by the way). And then there is the character of Lenny in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer from Mark Twain, Ahab’s obsession with Moby Dick by Melville, and Hester Prynne from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter.  There are many other characters that simply haunt us, not because they’re particularly unique, but precisely because each of them invites us in to a deeper knowledge of the human condition. And I dare say that each character understands the depths of human poverty very well.

I believe that is why Shakespeare is still performed, parodied, and praised hundreds of years after his death. Because Shakespeare, whether it is Hamlet’s suicidal soliloquy questioning his own futility through asking simply, ‘to be or not to be,’ or whether it is Jacques’ closing announcement in As You Like It, that all the world is a stage and the men and women are merely players. And it’s the killers who pause in Richard III telling one another that the conscience does make cowards of us all.

These characters, novels, and plays help us to enter more fully in to the human condition and in to human poverty. These characters also all referred to the Bible at some point in their own stories. Sherlock Holmes is no exception and I want to make the case today that the world’s greatest detective is also useful for us in understanding the human condition, global poverty, and if we pay attention, we will begin to look for clues that will lead us ever closer to an understanding of grace.

Sherlock Holmes is Aware of His own Shortcomings

I don’t know what image you have of Sherlock Holmes, but let me destroy a few of them if I can. First, the hat (a deerstalker cap by name) is never mentioned in any of the stories by Doyle himself, instead the hat is a creation by illustrator Sidney Paget (who is an interesting story himself, the magazine thought they were getting his very talented and more well known brother) and only appears in 8 of the 38 drawings that Paget did for Strand magazine.

Secondly, the pipe mentioned in the Holmes’ stories is a straight, long-stem cherrywood piece, the curved step, with the rather large bowl, was an invention of playwright and theatre director William Gillette who staged one of the first Sherlock Holmes plays in England.

Thirdly, never in any of the 56 stories or 4 novels that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, did Holmes ever say, ‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’

So, if your image of Holmes fits the cap wearing, curved pipe smoking detective, who utters ‘elementary my dear Watson,’ at the end of an adventure, then you’re wrong or at least you’ve accepted an image of Holmes that simply isn’t depicted in any of the original stories.

Instead, listen to Sherlock Holmes describe himself in the first novel, A Study in Scarlet. This is also the first time that Dr. Watson ever meets Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is describing himself to Watson and suggesting that together they buy an open flat at 221 B Baker Street that has just opened up and is now listed at an affordable price.

“You don’t mind the smell of strong tobacco, I hope? I generally have chemicals about, and occasionally do experiments. Would that annoy you? I get in the dumps at times, and don’t open my mouth for days on end. You must not think I am sulky when I do that. Just let me alone and I’ll soon be all right (we find out later that he is also addicted to cocaine, stays up most of the night reading and running experiments, and plays the violin to relieve stress).”

Quite the roommate….but also, quite self-aware. He simply tells Watson of all of these shortcomings and says very clearly that he is difficult to live with, but would enjoy the company if Watson would enjoy his. All of this on the first meeting.

In the Red Headed League, the third story Doyle wrote, Watson goes to Holmes and asks him what he is going to do about the perplexing clues that have been presented to them. Sherlock Holmes replies with these words:

“I am going to smoke. It is quite a three pipe problem and I beg that you won’t speak to me for the next fifty minutes.”

In the novel, The Sign of Four, Doyle opens up the story with this striking exchange between Holmes and Watson:

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The Spiritual Mission of Microfinance

Poverty is a daily reality for billions of people on the planet. The numbers are so staggering that we can simply become numb. Approximately 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day. The World Bank estimates that 1.4 billion people are living in extreme poverty. The result of this is real.

Consider the following facts:

• Over 140 million children in developing countries are underweight and over 2 billion are undernourished.

• Every year more than 10 million children die of hunger and preventable diseases - that's over 30,000 per day and one every 3 seconds.

• 800 million people go to bed hungry every day.

• Every year nearly 11 million children die before their fifth birthday.

• 600 million children live in extreme poverty.
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