#Charity365

You can’t give more than 100% but many giving even 1% can accomplish much, much more.

Five years ago I wrote about the struggle to begin giving charitably. My original concerns included questions such as “What charities would I give to?“, and “How do I donate in a personally satisfying and sustainable way?” It’s amazing to see where I am now compared to then and the relatively small, very gentle, very spread apart steps it has taken to this point in my giving. A lot has changed, and I think improved, in my giving and in my thinking about giving, but one thing is still at the core: Satisfaction, sustainability, and scalability. I’ll explain all that below.

Continue reading “#Charity365”

New Year’s Eve 2010

Goodbye, 2010, we hardly knew ye! Twenty-Ten has been a watershed year for me though I never really considered it like that before writing this. Many personally significant things have happened this year for me and I feel, perhaps, as if I am riding the crest of a wave, one which I’m both exhilarated to be on and also frightened I’ll either slip down the back side of or be let down as it fades. The one thing I will grab hold of is God and His promises and, by these, will I pray that, to face the future, I might become a Cannonball.

My mother passed on early this year. My dad’s mourning has turned to happiness and he will be getting married early 2011.  My brother had his first baby, the beautiful baby Arden. My sister’s family continues to grow and each of my nephews and nieces makes me proud.

My father moved out of his house and into a new place for him and his fiance. I moved out of my apartment, of two years, into his old place and, I must say, it’s nice to live in a house again!

Most strikingly, though, for me personally, I feel like I’ve finally emerged out of a three or four year “stop.” A “stop” is what I call it: A period of time where I just “stopped,” and tried to separate myself from pretty much everything, friends, family and, in some ways, my faith. These past few years have been a hard time. Both laborious and emotional.

During this time, I stopped reading my bible, started mixing secular music with my Christian collection, questioned a lot of things in the bible, and experimented somewhat with the world. None of it satisfied, of course, but count yourself lucky if you don’t go, in spite of all wisdom to the contrary, and try to see for yourself what all the non-hoopla is about.

Many years ago, being passionate in my faith, I started collecting Christian music. My friend, Jamie, and I found some amazing stuff. I even got some tunes I remember my brother and sister playing as kids and found out they were still pretty cool. You probably won’t understand it but I actually set out to “find the good music” and prove the Christian music scene had acts just as good as the mainstream. What I found was beyond any of the mainstream. It made the mainstream pale in comparison. I know and remember well it brought joy, delight and happiness cruising around with Jamie, in particular, cranking the “good music.”

You’ll better understand the next part now that I’ve told you about the music I used to love so much. Over time I started mixing Christian muic with secular. I love some of the mainstream stuff. Still do. I listen to music a lot, though, at work, in the car to and from work, to and from hockey and visits with friends up north. The problem with mainstream music is it’s about you and I, all the time, no breaks, ever. It became bitter to me. Very naturally, and without much fanfare, one day I just split up my collection into two folders, “christian” and “secular”, and my playlist has been “christian” ever since. That was a few months ago.

For some reason, that started a change. It made me want to get back into my faith. I can’t remember when but, I got a smart phone around August, and, suddenly, I saw a new and intriguing way to read the bible. I started reading.

I moved into my dad’s old place a few months ago which means I now have a 40 minute drive to/from work. Lots of people think that’s a drag. Turns out it’s brilliant for me. I listen to James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word on my way into work and Ravi Zacharias on the way home. Being under the Word each and every day is an amazing thing.

I need to recognize Creation.com, my passion for creation a gift from my late mother, I suppose. I have had an interest in Creation for a long time even before this year and I think I owe it to Creation Ministries International  (Creation.com) to recognize their contribution in effecting my life over the years. You see, Creation isn’t just about creation vs evolution: It’s about the very foundation of Christianity. God’s Word speaks to all the issues relevant in any given age and it is its first book that gives it the authority it needs to speak on those issues. The “young earth creationism” movement is about so much more than just saying the earth was created by God in six days. It’s the seabed foundation of the Christian faith and, without which, the entire faith breaks down into pointlessness. It is because of my reading of young earth creationism that I have an incredible trust in the reliability, authority and historicity of my bible. Do not dismiss creationism. Equip yourself and your friends and family with all that you need to know to be certain of your faith. Confidence in your God, His Word and your faith is there, you just need to go and get it.

I will also mention The Light, a Galaxie radio channel on my Rogers cable tv. They actually do tend to play a number of decent Christian artists and not just fluffy pop. Since moving into my dad’s old house The Light is usually on in the background and is always on when I go for a run on my treadmill.

As I write this, dc Talk’s My Will just started playing on The Light as I finished the last paragraph. Told ya they also play good stuff.

Twenty-Ten is fast closing and I can only thank God for his grace and mercy to me, a sinner, and His sacrifice of His Son on the cross for me. I thank Him for this year and for literally changing me. I pray continually that He will keep changing me still.

Thank you, God, for changing me. Thank you for this year. You already know my hope for next year. Please, may my hope be within your will.

Christus Invictus: Behind the Verse

Update 2015-05-16: I just came across a well-written post–“Invictus” Redeemed–about the poem and Dorothy Day’s response to it from many years ago. Day’s poem is a good read but the author writes quite well on why it is the original poem isn’t all that inspiring or reasonable when you get into the details.

Christus Invictus: Behind the Verse

In a previous post, I published a poem entitled Christus Invictus. That poem was based on and inspired by William Ernest Henley’s Invictus. Although the Wikipedia article doesn’t cover it, Henley’s Invictus was a “deathbed affirmation of his atheism” [author’s note: not literally, since he wrote it young when he was sick and lived many more years but true per his apparent convictions later in life]. I think most people know the poem even if they don’t know the author or remember the poem in its entirety.

I was piqued in the last two weeks by a Ravi Zacharias podcast mentioning the poem, used in contrast to his Christian message. It’s a good poem, well written, realistic, inspiring, even, but I knew the poem lifted man above God – and, as is my bent, I can not abide what I perceive as foolishness. Thus, Christus Invictus is my response to Henley’s Invictus attempting to show the vastly different perspective of one suffering, as Henley did, yet living with the hope of glory in the salvation of Jesus Christ.

I had a few goals in mind when revising his poem. The first was to respond in verse, speaking on the same themes, but from the perspective of salvation. That was a driving force. A second goal was to show how changing so very little of the poem could result in such a different attitude, pained yet joyful, humble yet victorious. Another goal was to avoid sugar-coating the Christian experience. God does not promise unending earthly happiness. In fact, He promises the opposite. Hence, the poem is left untouched in many areas to retain and openly admit the reality Henley experienced and wrote about.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank, in Him, Jesus Christ
For my redeemed and purchased soul.

Henley had it right with “Out of the night that covers me, \ Black as the pit from pole to pole,” and so I left it as-is. There’s no use arguing against this Fallen world and that evil is afoot here.

Where Henley originally wrote, “I thank whatever gods may be \ For my unconquerable soul,” I knew this was disingenuous. There is a God and He has been saying the same thing to us for all history: Follow me. Just mentioning God, however, didn’t oppose all of the original intent. I needed to speak to Jesus Christ and His act on the cross that is salvation to every man, woman and child, each of us “our redeemed and purchased soul.”

In the fell-hard clutch of circumstance
I have sore-winced and cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of flagrance
My head is bloody and low-bowed.

Note the change from Henley’s “fell clutch” to “fell-hard clutch.” This is not an attempt to remove any of the original meaning but actually a poetic alteration to match the rhythm of the third line’s altered nine syllables.

Henley writes, “I have not winced nor cried aloud,” but he and I both know no human goes through this life without pain and sorrow. I simply admit as much. This line, too, was altered to match the third line’s altered rhythm.

I wanted to change Henley’s insinuation of random chance when he wrote “Under the bludgeonings of chance” and so altered the last word to “flagrance.” The truth is there is something going on in this world and there is more to the events that occur, to our circumstances, and to our choices, than simple random chance. This is the change that necessitated the “fell-hard” and “sore-winced” rewording in the first and second lines.

Sheer contrast is needed in the fourth line to provide force to the incredible difference of response one should expect from one saved from eternal death. Henley’s original, “My head is bloody, but unbowed,” needed a response that indicated an alternative to the natural reaction of men to the evils of this world. I did not want to diminish the reality of pain, however, and so “My head is bloody” remains.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the Shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

This verse is unique. There is absolutely no change to wording. I felt it was all accurate, fair and true. The observant reader will notice, though, that there is a single difference: The “S” in “Shade” has been capitalized where it was lowercase in the original. Where the original implies an insignificant nothingness, I wished to simply and subtly convey a terrifying somethingness, that which is the only thing left when one’s fate is not with God in the eternal.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
He is the captain of my soul.

Here, we come to Henley’s climactic verse of self-statement and self-direction. Most people know the last two lines of this verse even if they know nothing else about the context of those words.

Henley’s first lines are true and so left unchanged. The Christian admits God’s Way is straight, narrow, and difficult to maintain. The Christian admits God’s punishments are strong but know His mercy is greater and, His sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, ultimate in securing our souls.

And now Henley rings out at his strongest, his mightiest. His conclusion, affirmation and pronouncement: “I am the master of my fate: \ I am the captain of my soul.” And it is here that the strongest, mightiest contrast needs to be made.

Henley was right and Henley was wrong. He is very right in saying, “I am the master of my fate.” A man may choose, indeed, to accept or reject what is offered him. He may choose to accept Jesus’s salvation and he may choose to reject the same. Man is the master of his fate in the end.

C.S. Lewis put it in this way: It is either “Thy Will be done” or “Thy will be done.” We say to God, “Thy Will be done,” or God says to us, “Thy will be be done.”

Henley’s closing needs change in order to present the true distinction of the  faithful. The Christian understands he has chosen to accept what Jesus has done. The Christian understands that in so doing he makes not himself but Jesus the very captain of his soul.

I am the master of my fate:
He is the captain of my soul.

Christus Invictus is my response to Henley’s Invictus showing a Christian perspective on the same themes. I hoped to show the incredible difference of perspective of one who is going through suffering, as Henley did in his life, but who also lived with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ.

I even had the thought that I was “sticking up for God” which is a childish thing to think for a Christian. The Almighty needs no champion but Himself; And He already came in the form of the Son, Jesus Christ, who hung on a cross for our sins, died, and rose again, and conquered everything.

Nevertheless, God is due His rightful honour and glory. As Joseph said, in Genesis 50:20, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” I make no claim that this is such a case. That God intended me to do this, I do not make the claim. As Henley is created in the image of God, however, I can see the good within his writing and so wish to see it redeemed, in the end, to the glory of God alone.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria

Charity 360 #Charity365

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t officially donate to charities. I often do one-time, anonymous donations. My primary donations are my offerings to my church. I, also, regularly put spare change in the Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation boxes, and I’ll always do the annual Remembrance Day poppy thing, but I don’t really officially donate outside of the church and outside of those small things. It’s something I’ve wanted to change and now I think I have I know how.

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t officially donate to charities. I often do one-time, anonymous donations. My primary donations are my offerings to my church. I, also, regularly put spare change in the Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation boxes, and I’ll always do the annual Remembrance Day poppy thing, but I don’t really officially donate outside of the church and outside of those small things. It’s something I’ve wanted to change and now I think I know how.

My own problem with donating has been (1) which charities should I support that I’ll feel personally satisfied donating to, and (2) how do I donate in a satisfying and sustainable way.

The first issue, of which charities to support, has been answered this year by my own choices in what I’ve been reading and listening to. I’ve gotten seriously into creation and so have been reading things from Creation Ministries International. I’ve always been interested in very cerebral topics and so I’ve been listening quite a bit to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Intelligent, listenable, bible-believing preachers are hard to come by and so I’ve been listening a lot to James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word. It became clear to me what I should be supporting.

The second issue, how to donate in a satisfying and sustainable way, has always bugged me. I always felt that if I won a million dollars I’d donate a large amount of it and it would have a significant impact – something I couldn’t achieve on an average salary. I’m not going to sit around waiting to win the lottery, though, so all that did was eat away at me. This year, once I realized I had three organizations I actually wanted to support, I began to understand that, since I can’t make a huge impact, I will, instead, plan to donate in a sustainable way that most could also do and, if we all did that together, we’d make a bigger difference,  at scale, than if I donated a million dollars at once. I decided I would consider my donation as a relatively small, monthly amount, namely $10 per month per organization.

I picked the organizations that meant the most to me and I picked an amount that suited me and that would also add up over time and would mean much more if everybody did the same.

When all was said and done, I donated $360 to three organizations. Actually, I couldn’t easily donate to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries so I donated $120 to Blue Letter Bible, instead. I now have an annual Google Calendar reminder about these December donations and I hope I can keep it up.

The only thing I think I might do differently is to mix up my organizations. I really do believe in the value of organizations like the Salvation Army, youth shelters, international aid organizations, and others. What I am confident in, however, is that when everyone gives to the organizations that mean the most to them, just due to the number of people involved, we’ll be able to cover all of the organizations sufficiently.

I hope somebody finds this plan of value and I hope that ever more and more we’ll find more people donating sustainable amounts to the ever growing benefit of those around us who need our help.

#Charity365