Category Archives: Proactive

Unofficial “The Call” in Philly this Friday

Anybody who took part in The Call Nashville via attendance or active webcast participation is welcome to join a handful of us this Friday night, 7-10pm – location TBD soon. Informal worship, prayer, impartation, and fasting is what’s on the menu.

good ole philadelphiaWe have got to bring the “seal of Love” to the “City of Love” and build each other up. We have got to stick together from now on!  I can feel the impact of Saturday getting more elusive already, but we can cultivate this thing locally. Struggles that I have had for decades have been winnable this week. Something happened on Saturday and I am not gonna let this wear off!

Philadelphia is a “Pro-Choice City”

The stuff I hear when I’m waking up to the news.

Apparently the only people in an uproar about this is the local Diocese of Philadelphia.

Who’s minding the store in Philly? This resolution passed 9 to 8. Had I any clue this was happening, I would have come just short of harassing my council[person]. This resolution was proposed to a councilperson by Planned Parenthood, a civil and tolerant organization by some accounts.

Anyone think the homicide rate will stay under 400 this year?

OUR RESPONSE

Obviously I’m not encouraged by this. We have 3 responses –

#1 – I will call this the “Angry Religious Pennsylvania Response”

Otherwise known as the “Handwringer”. In this response, we follow my frustrated direction of this post and just start letting all sorts of negative thoughts and words pass out of our mouths. We damn all of the people involved in this vote that we disagree with and we appeal to God based on our frustration and our disagreement with this vote. For some reason (tax and crime rates perhaps) many of those in this group live in the country or the suburbs rather than right in the city limits (where they have a small vote).

#2 – Tolerant East Coast Urbanite Response –

This is the “Whatever will be, will be” response. If you are a Philadelphian you might not even have a problem or disagree with any of this vote for that matter… But let’s say you didn’t want your leaders making an official declaration on your behalf. Well what can you do? God must’ve allowed it, after all He is “sovereign”. Just go about your day and think about the Sermon on the Mount and social justice (the kind that serves the poor who are outside the womb) and somehow it will all work out in the end [From what I understand, Calvin was not a hyper-calvinist, and travailed in much prayer for his world]. Many of this group may live in the city out of a compassion for the needs, but may be blinded to their ability to respond to some of these larger political issues.

#3 – Loving, Intolerant, Respectful Response

This response has finally been showing up on the radar. The “loving, respectful” part is for our 9 councilperson majority and for the verse that says that we must respect and pray for our leaders, who have been set up by God. It’s also for the people that are in favor of this resolution and the lobbyists at Planned Parenthood. People have dignity and we are supposed to bless those we are at serious odds with and treat them well.

There is another realm where a lack of tolerance is called for. Is it possible for us to pray in a loving but intolerant manner for a changing of the heart of this city back to “brotherly love” and back to the God of William Penn. Why did Daniel pray a prayer in chapter 9 that identifies with the people he disagreed with (“Lord, WE have sinned”)? By the way we also live according to the Sermon on the Mount and also do all we can to serve the poor and continue the social justice end, rather than ignoring these huge needs.

Let’s go with Door #3. Here’s a group doing just that in DC.

Alms for the Homeless: Don’t Try This at Home

Work for FoodAfter my slot at Temple last Friday, I was driving through the back street of Philly when a most surprising thing happened:

I got to buy lunch for a homeless guy.

Now it has been about 4 years since the last time I was able to do this, when I lived in Cleveland. Now Cleveland is a much smaller, friendlier city, and I came close to perfecting a technique on how to separate the “sheep from the goats” in the panhandling arena.

Now because I am a follower of Christ, I take his words seriously regarding giving to those in need – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the incarcerated. I do not need to be of a particular political persuasion to have compassion for the poor. So when someone asks me for food on the street, I attempt to take them up on it. It is just so fun to buy lunch for someone who is hungry, because it is better to give than to receive.

And it can be a lot of fun too. I remember a game show called “SuperMarket Sweep” in which people have to stuff lots of food in their shopping cart. What I do is a pathetically scaled down version of the “bonus round” of that show. Without being disrespectful of the person I am helping or their plight, thinking of this interaction in terms of a game show helps me maintain an upbeat persona that assists in maintaining gentle control over the whole situation.

Unfortunately, there is a high proportion of people who choose their words rather sloppily, for when I take them up on their request for “food”, they flip-flop on me and expect “money for food” or “money” or something like that.

This guy, Lonnie, was soliciting “food” from a row of cars I was behind at a stoplight, which is a common occurrance in Philly. An effective means of fundraising for many seemingly legit organizations too. Very hard for motorists to avoid them.

Anyhow, he asked for food at my window just as the light turned green. I was running out of time, fast. I realized that I might have an opportunity on my hands to provide for the needy and even that it could be an “angel” (see Hebrews). I want to be faithful in my almsgiving, and took him up on it.

“GET IN THE CAR!” I said.

(Disclaimer: I am obviously very unique in this view. This is potentially dangerous. However I drive a 17 year old Honda and realize the key to panhandling situations is to 1. take control nicely of the situation and 2. allow the other party to be free to decline their original offer at any time, while 3. confessing Psalm 91 often)

So I took him to a tiny Philly corner market and announced to him that I would buy him all the food he wanted there, up to $10 worth of food. He immediate counter-offered to simply subcontract the allocation of these funds, to which I referred back to his original terms of request, “food”, and told him it was his decision whether he wanted food or not. Also I mentioned that I am not actually in control of the money, it is not “mine”, I am just a steward of it. I think he may have been annoyed by this, but he was the one who got us into this situation.

As we walked to the end of the block upon parking, he again attempted to solicit funds for cigarettes and a fake Rolex that was being sold on the corner. Again I referred to the original verbal terms of our agreement.

Here is where it got interesting: in Cleveland everyone, male or female, who I bought food for knew what to get: the Rotisserie Chicken! It made sense when I thought about it. Well remember, this is Philly, home of Rocky. I underwrote a gallon of milk, coke (a 2 liter of it), and 2 cartons of raw eggs. I thought “how is this guy gonna hard-boil his eggs?” But then I remembered that Rocky DRANK the eggs.

Lonnie only used up about $7 of food, and I attempted to avail him of the full amount. Turned out that he made a last attempt to cash in for the $3 that he didn’t use but it was too late and outside the terms of our deal.

The low point of the interaction was that he refused my offer to pray off his nicotine addiction. I said “I don’t mean to be disrespectful of your struggle, but I will pray for you and believe that God will break off the need for cigarettes”. He didn’t take me up on it, but I went ahead and prayed for him behind his back anyhow.

In my car at the next light, I turned my head toward a building and read the engraved words, “A HOUSE OF PRAYER”, zoomed out and it was a beautiful church with that verse on it. Go figure!