Archive for the ‘Poverty’ Category

If you want to know how Chicago got to be the way it is, these are two books you must read:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don’t know how to face. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander is such a work”
The New York Review of Books

Family Properties by Beryl Satter

“How the struggle over race and real estate transformed Chicago and urban America.”

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A Wall Around Chicago

A downtrodden city, rife with crime; citizens under duress and vulnerable to gangs of merciless criminals; no protection and victims of all sorts of vice, Chicago, Maybe, but the city I had in mind was Jerusalem around 400 B.C. Here was a town that was in ruins with few prospects for revitalization. Here was a city without hope. Yet, in the ruins of trodden-down Jerusalem we find a blueprint for a Biblical cure to the urban blight and broken-down walls of our own city. Tucked away in thes pages of scripture is an answer to Chicago’s problem with guns, drugs and gangs, the means to engage them and win.

To gain an insight into the underlying origins of this blueprint we have to look into the past and we do that by reading the historical narrative contained in book of Nehemiah. At the beginning of that manuscript Nehemiah, a Jewish cup-bearer to the great Persian king Artaxerxes, hears that Jerusalem, his ancestral city, has become a downtrodden blight on the countryside . Taking the challenge to heart, he sets about to correct that travesty. He prays and fasts for an answer. Finally, he petitions the Persian king for permission to go back to Jerusalem to repair its fallen and decrepit wall.

When Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem and sees the broken down wall for himself, he is grieved, but he doesn’t fall into despair. In order to reinvigorate the city, he has to first repair the walls around the city and establish a defensive perimeter that protects the city from its enemies. He assigns rebuilding efforts along various portions of the wall to different tribes or groups of people. The work is not without problems, however, as there are those who resist Nehemiah’s efforts. The repairers of the walls are forced to work with weapons at their sides in order to repulse hostile efforts to retard the work. Some adversaries, such as Sanballat and Tobiah, were satisfied, even happy, with the broken-down character of Jerusalem because it suited their purposes of domination and control. Civic instability and religious impotence furthered their ends. Their attempts to impede or sabotage work on the walls grew out of the realization that safety and security in Jerusalem would mean an end to their domination.

In spite of the apparently desperate condition of Jerusalem, God had a plan, not to mention a greater purpose for the city. He also had his man, Nehemiah. In retrospect we see how God acted in Jerusalem through Nehemiah, and we begin to understand the grander purpose for Nehemiah’s plan. Not only did it save Jerusalem, but the outworking of his purposes in Jerusalem have come down to us to provide hope and faith that God will similarly act in Chicago (as well as other cities) to abolish the evils underlying our urban nightmare. In the Book of Habakkuk (3:1-2), the prophet asks that God show him today the same miracles he demonstrated to his people in the ancient past. We echo those words as we ask God to act supernaturally in Chicago to end the nightmare of violence and bloodshed that plague our streets. We ask to see the miracles of yesterday played out again in our own day and in our own city. The Book of Nehemiah provides us with a blueprint for ending the violence and bloodshed. Just as in Nehemiah’s day, there are those who would subvert the laws for their own ends and keep us from rebuilding the city into the bastion of health and safety it should be. That being the case, how do we address gangs, drugs, guns, bloodshed, and violence? We take responsibity under God for rebuilding our neighborhoods, just as Nehemiah did, one stone at a time; all God’s people standing arm-in-arm to rebuild the city’s spiritual walls.

The blueprint is simple. Each community rebuilding the walls that protect its own neighborhood. There are thousands of churches in Chicago, each representing a portion of Chicago that needs repair. If each church can rebuild just their section of the wall, Chicago can be rebuilt in the image that God intended for it to take. You start like Nehemiah planned, in your own neighborhood, putting one brick in place at a time, but in this case, it’s one life at a time. God has placed us where we are for a reason and that reason is to bring renewal that will glorify him. We can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in the fight. As members of the heavenly city we know that if there is an enemy surge in one area, reinforcements from another area can be brought to bear on the attack. Christians make up a huge percentage of the city and must leverage those numbers in the face of drugs, violence, and gang activity. As we do that, we can rest in the assurance that God is with us and empowers our efforts. Nothing is possible without that directive and power. Still, as in the case of Nehemiah, God sent people to do the work. He didn’t create a cyclonic wind to whip up the blocks and set them in place. He used people. The same is true in Chicago. While we have God’s blessing, no his mandate, in this effort, he still calls on Chicagoans to do the work. So hit the streets armed with the weapons of faith and see God in action. People say that this is too tall a task, that it can’t be done, that there are not enough resources, etc. They said the same thing to Nehemiah and even threatened to undo his work, but in the end, and with divine guidance, he finished the project ahead of schedule. Why should the same not be true for Chicago?

How do we show our commitment to this dramatic struggle? While we are committed in our hearts, is there a more visible way of demonstrating that commitment? Let me suggest that we pray for a special site, a place where God has us build an altar of remembrance to this effort. Perhaps the alter of remembrance should take the form of a wall. In Biblical times the men of God set up memorials to remind and instruct those who came later about what God did at the place where the momorial was set up. Again, I ask, why not in Chicago? C ould not Chicago churches join in this effort to rebuild our neighborhoods and commemorate it by joining with every other church in Chicago in laying a brick in a symbolic wall built on the spot God provides, a wall of protection and remembrance. We can build our own memorial wall for those who were victims of the violence, as well as those who stand up to rebuild in spite of naysayers and threats. We can build our Jerusalem wall as a tribute to the peace that is inherent in the name of Jerusalem, the “city of peace.”

I’d like to invite all those who would be part of this effort to join me in prayer and fasting for a place to build such a memorial, and in the meantime, to let those on this website know that you are committed to making this happen, committed to rebuilding the portion of Chicago that God has placed under your supervision. You are where you are because God placed you and your church there. May each of us begin to rebuild along the section of wall in front of us. So, whether your section of the wall is great or small, may God help you to be responsible for completing that portion of the wall, one brick at a time, one life at a time, one soul at a time, but knowing your efforts are part of the larger effort of building a spiritual wall in Chicago for all eternity.

As I come near the end of this blog entry, let me suggest that we go back and read the third chapter of Nehemiah. Think of the city as Chicago instead of Jerusalem. Place the name of your church or congregation in the space occupied by a group that rebuilt Jerusalem. By way of illustration let me place a few churches I am familiar in some of those slots. Willow Creek Chicago, for instance, would be one group rebuilding the wall of faith along the lakefront. Moody Church is an example of a group rebuilding on the near north side. New Life Covenant Church and Lawndale Community church can be seen rebuilding walls on the west side while Bryn Mawr Community Church and Salem Baptist church would be notable builders on the South Side. Go ahead, insert the name of your church in one of those spaces. There are hundreds of churches in Chicago and we must leverage those numbers to rebuild the spiritual wall around this city. Again, God didn’t send a mighty wind to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, he used his own people to do that. Similarly, I believe he wants to use his people in Chicago to rebuild this spiritual wall as a testament to the power of the gospel for transforming even the most difficult of urban centers. Can we stand together in this? Will your congregation be one of the groups rebuilding Chicago? Will you lay a brick representing your church in our own Jerusalem wall memorial? Let me know.

In closing let me share the following thought which captures the essence of our challenge:

“Some people say, “God will never ask me to do something I can’t do. I have come to the place in my life that, if the assignment I sense God is giving me is something that I know I can handle, than it probably is NOT from God. The kind of assignments God gives in the Bible are always God-sized. They are always beyond what people can do, because he wants to demonstrate his nature, his strength, his provision, and his kindness to his people and to a watching world. This is the only way the world will come to know him.”

I would suggest to you that this is one of those “God-sized” projects. Are you on board?

Ron

An archive of photos and stories about gang violence in Chicago can be found at:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=chicago+gang+violence&id=0529110FAA4A12D6DF0B7028DFA857E2ADFA69FB&FORM=IQFRBA

A G asked me the other day about evil. If God is so good, why does he allow evil in this world, and especially in my hood?  Why all the killing and pain? Why do people go hungry and starve? Why do people die in natural disasters? Why does it seem so hopeless that I hide behind closed doors to shut out the evil and groan in despair when I hear of another killing or catastrophic event. My response is simple: You’re asking the wrong question. The proper question is, “Why does God even think about allowing good in such an evil world?”

Understand, my friend, that we live in a fallen world destroyed by sin. We live in a world we have all helped to create through our own propensity to rebel aghainst God.  Evil and pain are the norm in a world controlled by powers and principalities of evil (Ephesians 6). The apostle John, in fact,  characterizes Satan as the “prince of this world.”  So, let’s think about this for a moment. If Satan is the “Prince” of this world, what kind of world do you expect to see? Certainly not one of beauty and goodness.  What results would you expect to see in a principality run by this kind of chief? I’ll tell you, its a world full of pain and suffering that groans for relief. It’s for that reason that Paul also says that the whole earth groans as it waits for salvation to appear (Romans 8:22). That’s Paul’s way of letting us know that creation has been overtaken by evil and agonizes in pain as it waits for God’s final redemption. You hear that groaning in your hood, in my hood, and throughout this city.

Understanding that we live in a world marred by human rebellion and shattered by purposeful sin helps us to understand the overabundance of evil that has appeared in this world. That’s why we have murder, rape, and the horrors of warfare all around us. When we consider a world that’s run by a “prince” who is the embodiment of pride, greed, arrogance, perversion, and hatred, we don’t have to look much further to understand the evil in our world and that should prompt us to ask a very  different question. I would suggest that we ask ourselves this, “If the world is so evil and if it’s ruled by evil powers, and settled by sinful rebellious men, why in all creation would God even consider giving us the slightest respite from the evil we have created through our own missteps? Why would he ever think of giving us a moment of peace?  Why would he ever consider allowing us to experience even the slightest hint of heaven’s beauty? Why would he ever allow us to experience even the slightest amount of good?

That’ question is what underlies all Christian faith and is what provides us with the source of true meaning.  The answer, simply put, is that God has a love for his creation that goes beyond anything that we can begin to understand or imagine. As John wrote many centuries ago:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes on him, will not perish, but have eternal life.”

 Because of that love, God  brought all the beauty and splendor of heaven into this world as a preview of things to come. All that beauty and splendor came in the person of Gsus, his son and the second person in the trinity. Gsus, who was the creator of all things that exist and who embodies all the wonder and beauty of creation came to be violated on the cross to give you an alternative to the pain and suffering of this world. Because Gsus conquered death, God can still bring moments of  forgiveness, peace, harmony, joy, meaning, beauty, and love into a world filled with pride, selfishness, anger, lust and hatred . That’s a gift we don’t deserve. That’s a love we can’t underastand. Unfortunately, in our twisted wisdom, we confuse ourselves by thinking that those moments of goodness are the norm in this life, but they are NOT.  This is a broken world because we all embrace sin and that love of sin leads to further suffering and pain. Its a fact of life, we are hurting people and history tells us that hurting people hurt other people.  All you have to do is look around and the toll of sin becomes all too apparent. Those moments of goodness and beauty we long for are the exceptions to the rule, the moments when God sees fit to infuse glimpses of beauty and goodness into our present world of pain and falleness. He does this so that we may catch a glimpse of what he intended us to enjoy for all eternity, to understand and embrace the hope that was manifested in the person of Gsus. That picture of heaven,  presented through the life, death, and ressurection of Gsus, was given so that we might see what God has in store for those who can look past the evil of this world and are able to grasp the beauty of a life with God that is offered through the undeserved love of God or what we call GRACE.

So, when you see a hood filled with evil that manifests itself in the form of a new killing or rampant drug addicition, don’t wonder why God allowed that to happen, remember that its the norm for a fallen and broken world that we created. Instead of being shocked, be thankful that in the midst of such despair, God has seen fit to perforate this darkness in the hood with patches of good. Cherish those glimpses of goodness, the promise of things to come, the opportunity to see what is real.  Pray as Gsus taught his disciples to pray: “may your  kingdom come, may your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven“.  Pray for more of his goodness to appear in the midst of  this present evil, and pray that you might be the conduit into your hood through which that goodness flows. See where YOU can make a difference. Turn around and be the hands and feet of Gsus in the hood, be that moment of brightness and good for another person as you let Gsus work through you.  That’s how you can make a difference that will last for eternity, one person at a time. Finally, pray that Gsus will return soon and that  God’s kingdom and all its goodness will then manifest itself on earth.

Dismanling Racism by Joseph Barndt, Author.  Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 1991.Here is a book about racism in America, written “for white people and about white people . . . by a white person.”Joseph Barndt, defining racism as “prejudice plus power,” asserts that efforts against racism have often been incorrectly focused on minority populations rather than the majority. “The cause of racism is in the white society. The effects are felt in the communities of color,” he writes. Rather than attempting to soften the effects, we need to attack the cause.

The book examines individual, institutional, and cultural racism, and includes a section on racism and the church—with particular attention to the European American traditions inherited by white congregations, which Barndt refers to provocatively as a contemporary “circumcision crowd.” The author asks congregations to incorporate multicultural aspects in its worship before the congregation becomes multicultural and to work to achieve a pluralistic, not racist, witness to the world.

and consider that…

 “At the center of the Christian faith is the reminder that the time is
always right to do the right thing,” Turner said. “The church can and must
provide moral leadership that helps move the world’s nations into people of
transformation. The church has the capacity to transform itself to be an
agent of change, but this only happens when the church is engaged in the
struggle for justice.”

                                                                                                            -Rev. Otis Turner, 1996

 

Arloa Sutter is the Founder and Executive Director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries. Breakthrough restores broken networks by providing neighborhood-based holistic services to individuals and families in Chicago’s East Garfield Park community. For more information on Arloa Sutter and Breakthrough Urban Ministries please go to:

http://www.breakthrough.org/

and

http://arloasutter.com/

The story about a program in South Africa making a difference in the lives of young people caught up in gangs and drugs.

http://www.younginprison.nl/page=site.home?lang=gb#page-index(2)

So Life Sucks…

I was talking to G the other day and his commentary on life was simply, “Life sucks”. I asked him what he was doing about it and he said he was waiting for Obama to keep his word and bring about change. Listen brothers, if there’s going to be change, if your circumstances are going to take a turn for the better, there’s only one person that can make that happen, YOU! You’d better not wait for Obama to change things; better not wait for your alderman to change things; better not even wait for your pastor to change things; because any change that’s going to take place around you has to start with you. So if you want to start, what do you do? Listen to this song be Toby Mac:

City on our Knees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNA8sAxQ4pk&feature=related

The G’sus Manifesto: 

 The guide to a better life in the hood 

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:

The Beatitudes

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, 
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, 
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, 
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, 
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, 
for they will be called children of God. 
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Fulfillment of the Law

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Murder

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca (you fool),’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.  Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’  But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne;  or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King.  And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.  All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Eye for Eye

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.  But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.  And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.  If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.  Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Giving to the Needy

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Prayer

 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from the evil one.’

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Fasting

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Treasures in Heaven

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Do Not Worry

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Ask, Seek, Knock

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

True and False Prophets

 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

True and False Disciples

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The Wise and Foolish Builders

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,  because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

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You’ve just finished reading the G’sus Manifesto, better known as the Sermon on the Mount. You can find it in Matthew 5-7 of the Bible. These thoughts are summed up in another Biblical passage where some religious people asked Jesus to tell them which was the greatest commandment. He responded by saying:

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you are a gangster and want to follow Jesus, this is the best guide for how to live a God-honoring life. It goes to the heart of how you are to live. Love, obey and honor God while you love, respect, and serve those around you. Join the G’sus Nation by giving your life to Jesus, asking him to forgive you of your sins, and using the G’sus Manifesto as a guide to life. In doing this you will discover a new world of grace, purpose, hope, and excitement you never dreamed possible.

A wonderful site that discusses the addiction and cures for the gang lifestyle.

http://www.angelfire.com/id/CGAnonymous/

 

A thought-provoking book on global justice and christian activism. Extremely pertinent for those of us involved in work with gangs and all their associated issues. Its time for each of us to begin mobilizing hope in our own corner of the world. Read what Jim Wallis has to say about this book and its author:

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Adam Taylor, more than any young leader I have met, exemplifies the best of the next generation of Christian activists. He was first a student of mine at Harvard’s Kennedy School, then my course assistant; then I joined the board of Global Justice, the student network that Adam started; then he joined our board at Sojourners; then he became Sojourners’ senior political director; then he became a White House Fellow and served a year working in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs and Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. Adam has become my friend, kindred spirit, and younger soulmate in the movement to put faith into action.

Mobilizing Hope is his first book, and is a manifesto for his generation, which is such a sign of hope for me.

Order Mobilizing Hope now and learn tangible and inspiring ways to put your faith into action.

This important book is five things at the same time. First, it is a story – partly Adam’s story and partly the story of his many cohorts who are shaping the next strategies for faith-based social change. Second, it is a theology for social justice, full of biblical references, reflections, and metaphors that point to God’s intentions and future for the world. This is not an argument rooted in political ideology, but a vision for social justice rooted firmly in the scriptures. Third, it offers a spirituality for young activists, with the mature understanding that if you want to be a person of justice and action, and last for very long, you must also become a person of prayer and contemplation. Fourth, Mobilizing Hope is a handbook for those who want to experiment with activism and search out their own vocation in changing the world. It is a guidebook for how to make a difference, with many examples of what works and what does not. Fifth, it is a strategy manual. Adam consciously draws on lessons from past movements for change, particularly the civil rights movement. Adam also shows how to draw from historical movements to develop new forms of organizing and advocacy that can meet our current realities.

Order Mobilizing Hope now and strengthen a growing movement for social justice.

Adam quotes one of my favorite lines from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “This hour in history needs a dedicated circle of transformed nonconformists.” That belief is the core of the book – the importance of a committed minority of transformed nonconformists who creatively apply their faith in fresh, bold, and innovative ways. This book intends to inspire and mobilize a new generation to become part of that prophetic minority. From now on, whenever I meet those eager and seeking young people who want their faith and their lives to make a difference in the world, I have a book to recommend. And I commend it to you.

It could change your life.

Jim Wallis
Founder and president, Sojourners

P.S.: Buy Mobilizing Hope at Amazon.com or order from our SojoStore, and your purchase will support Sojourners!

More thoughts on Mobilizing Hope

http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=3837

Towards an understanding of the Gang Mentality:

http://www.youtube.com/user/huk730

A Christ-centered outreach that is making a difference in the lives of fatherless teens in Chicago.

http://www.gripyouth.com/

An interesting article from Will Okun’s blog

http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/guns/

For the entire blog contents go to:

http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com./author/will-okun/

Good stuff on gangs and related issues at:

http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=6399