The American Dream

Today’s Devotional Tidbit – February 12, 2007
The American Dream
Amos 8:4-7

The words of Amos ring true today. I like the way he makes a distinction between the “needy” and the “poor”. While the “poor” belong to the “needy” classification, the “needy” include so many more than just those without financial means.

“Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying,      ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’— skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The LORD has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: ‘I will never forget anything they have done.’”

Man, that Amos could preach. But what does that have to do with today? Well, let us think about our lives, our priorities, and about how much time God spent concerned with the needy and the poor. Let us think about God’s dream and contrast it with the American Dream. What is the American dream? Is it two cars, a big screen television, a nice home in the suburbs, skipping along merrily without many hiccups in life? Are those the items that make up the American Dream? Some of us may be disillusioned with this so-called American Dream. Where are the apparent struggles that God says we will face? What about the poor, those with AIDS, the battered wives, the child abuse? Can we be good Christians with all the luxuries we have today? Are we fulfilling God’s will if we never come into contact with the bad? Is there no bad in the suburbs? I am picturing in my mind the suburbs between Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas. I know there are loads of bad things happening there. There are struggles of everyday life such as anger, addictions, apathy, and affluence. Yes, even affluence can be a struggle, because it makes some of the problems mentioned above, and many other struggles, seem like they don’t exist.

I think when we sometimes ask the above questions, it says more about our individual lives, than life in general. Are we individually living with more than we need? Simplicity is a spiritual discipline. Is there any simplicity in our lives? Do we have to watch every one of our favorite television shows? Do we have to keep stored up hours upon hours of television shows on our hard drives? I don’t even understand that new technology. Do we have to take the internet with us everywhere we go via our cell phones? Do our children need to have every free hour of their lives occupied with sports leagues and extra curricular actives? More questions? Okay.

Do we have to criticize how immigrants won’t learn English? Would it be better to head up an ESL class at the local community center or at the church building? Ask me about FriendSpeak if you want to help with that. Should we stop complaining about the kids who cause problems in our neighborhoods and help them instead? Become a big brother or become foster parents for kids who are taken from bad homes. Those things will make a big difference. We complain about the wars of the world. What about taking an hour out of our weeks’ busy t.v. schedule to spend learning about regional conflicts and praying for those war torn areas. Instead of staying in our nice houses and watching news about world hunger, let us raise some money for World Vision and participate in their upcoming world wide 30 hour fast. Maybe we can become good friends with our neighbors who just need someone to reach into their lives and help them through struggles. Yeah, we can do this instead of complain about their unruly kid, their bad parenting skills, the broken down car in their drive way, and the loud fights they have on Saturday nights. Let us enter into their life and become a friend.

We may be looking for relevance in our lives, something bigger than ourselves. We may want to help others and don’t know how. Just ask God to find you find a place to help. He will guide you. He may even use this little devotional to help in some little way. As I look at the suburbs between Dallas and Ft. Worth, I see a lot of hurt and a lot of pain. Whether the person needing help is from Africa, Tonga, India, China, Mexico, or from right here in America, poor, rich, beautiful or not so good looking, there is a lot of need in the suburbs. If you live in the suburbs and don’t think there is struggle where you live, contact your local police department. Tell them you or your church want to be aware of the need in your town. Ask if you can ride along on a midnight shift patrol. There are plenty of citizen patrol programs. You will see the struggles in your suburb, and you’ll be amazed. God needs you and me to help others, and he may want us to help, wherever we’ve been planted.

In Christ y’all,
Brian Humek

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