Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pages for the Poor

Do you have children who love to read? Do you know children who love to read?

Do you want these children to have a greater sense of God's love for the poor? Do you want to teach them about how we can help serve the global poor?

Then check out a great read-a-thon program called Pages for the Poor.

My wife has developed this program which combines excellence in reading with ministering to the global poor via Partners Interational. She ran this program with a homeschooling group last year, and with just 11 families participating over a 5 week period they raised $2,132, providing through Partners' Harvest of Hope:
  • 12 goats
  • 4 piglets
  • 18 Bibles
  • 1 mule (for a travelling pastor in Cuba)
  • 1 bicycle (for a travelling evangelist in South Asia)
  • a range of medical, dental, farming aids, clean water projects and school supplies
  • sponsoring 2 children for an entire year
Partners International is a wonderful organization that helps the poor, but never loses sight of the Great Commission, recognizing that the best way to serve the poor is to bring them the Gospel.

Whether your children are accomplished readers or just beginners, I think you'll find the program encouraging and worthwhile. You can participate as individuals, families, Sunday Schools or other groups.

An upcoming issue of Faith Today will be talking about this program, but you can find all the information you need now at the website.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Reformation of Hallowe'en

It's almost that time of year again!  When our neighbourhoods celebrate fear, horror and death (albeit in a tongue-in-cheek fashion) and we poor Christian parents are faced with the dilemma of deciding how to handle Hallowe'en again this year.

Some parents take their children to their local church's "harvest festivals", where the kids can enjoy costumes and candy but in a more wholesome environment.  This is what we had done for the past two years.  But now, having left that church and joined with a small church that doesn't hold such an event, we are again confronted by the question of what to do with Hallowe'en.

For the first two years in our neighbourhood, when our kids were too young to trick-or-treat, we handed out candies and greeted the children, just like everyone else on the street.  However, we didn't play spooky music or have half-buried skulls in our front yard.  (Or even one of those "witch-flown-into-lamp-post" things that seem to be everywhere.)

When our kids were a few years old, we tried having an anti-Hallowe'en.  Instead of dark music, cobwebs and scary sounds, we set up halogen flood lights, table lamps, anything that would glow brightly.  Then we put out a table with a cheery collection of coffee, hot chocolate, bowls of candy, classical music playing (and not "Toccata and Fugue"!) and a VeggieTales video for the kids.  This was a neat opportunity to meet the kids, meet the neighbours and hang out, reclaiming the good parts of the evening without participating in the dark side.  The first year we met lots of people.  The second year, almost no one came by.  Maybe Christian neighbours are scarier than skulls with glowing eyes?

Tim Challies has a provocative and compelling post which argues that some form of participation is a better testimony to your neighbourhood than a dark house and absentee Christians.  He's convinced me that my family should consider doing this again.

However, we're taking a different approach this year.  We will be having a "Reformation Celebration."  After all, it was October 31, 1571 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door!  An event well worth celebrating.

We're getting together with a couple of other families.  Each group will dress in "period costume."  (Well, maybe "period bathrobes".  Trying to find a doublet, hose, and other medieval elements would require too much planning.)  We will acting out various sketches celebrating different stories of the Reformation (the kids love this stuff!), and celebrate the work of God in the recovery of the Solas.  (I want to be Tetzel selling indulgences!  "When a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs!")

So, we'll see how it goes.  Maybe next year we'll combine the anti-Hallowe'en with the Reformation.  Get our neighbours to be part of the fun.

Of course, it's pretty cold in Canada by the end of October.  Does anyone have a good, winter bathrobe they can lend me?  I'll let one of your relatives out of purgatory!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Limits of Submissive Dissent?

I was reading a great post from Clint Humfrey about dealing with dissent on peripheral matters.

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