“First-World” Problems

**Published on Encourage 365, November 2012**

On Sunday my Pastor showed a riveting video called “First World Problems Rap” and the irony of this video should be evident to any viewer.  I appreciate the message and encourage you to watch it (it’s only two minutes).

 

(Here’s where you click the link to watch the video before reading on…)

 

So, yesterday our church launched a 30-day challenge to start a “First World Problems” complaint jar. You guessed it, every time we catch ourselves complaining about a “problem”–much like what is depicted in the video–we have to drop some money into the jar. At the end of the 30 days we turn in our jars to the church benevolence fund so the money can be used to help others. Immediately I knew I needed to participate (and I hope you’re challenged to do the same—donating the money to your church or charity).

 

Making a “complaint” jar is a great idea and something I hope to continue beyond the 30 days. Even in one day both I and my daughter have begun to realize how much we gripe about trivial things. Let’s face it, waiting in line at Starbucks really pales in comparison to the trials most children face in third world countries. I am ashamed to even admit how often I forget to pray for those children. Most of us will never get the opportunity to travel to a destitute country and personally help, but most of us do have the capability of helping out through active service in our communities.

 

The church I attend has several outreach groups that work with homeless people, foster children, disabled children, hungry families, and more. Even if your church does not offer these things, there is something somewhere that you could probably get involved in. Even if it’s just dropping off canned foods for a food drive or hygiene supplies to homeless communities. The needs are there, we just need to open our eyes and look (and pray) for opportunities.

 

All of our situations are unique. My situation requires me to be home much of the time. I’m a wife, I home-school my daughter, I’m a full time student, and a freelance writer. I am in my home a lot! But a few months ago I prayed for God to show me what I could do to get “hands-on” and He was faithful to immediately answer that prayer! Sometimes we are fooled in to thinking we don’t have the time or resources to make a difference when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. We may never know what impact our small acts of kindness could have on another life.

 

So my challenge to you is the same challenge my Pastor shared with the congregation. Make a complaint jar and keep track of just how often you complain about “first world” problems. The results will probably be shocking. Remember, the point is to change our perspective. Faith is supposed to be active. Jesus didn’t just sit in the synagogue all day and preach. He was out there demonstrating a hands-on faith, as were the disciples. And we’re all familiar with James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after the orphans and the widows in their distress and to keep oneself faultless from the world.”This is the kind of faith I want to demonstrate to the world; this is the kind of faith I ask God to create in my life.

 

A faith that moves.

 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

(Also see related article: Let’s Do Justice from Prodigal Magazine)
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1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ by Jonathan Falwell

Jonathan Falwell, vice chancellor for spiritual affairs at Liberty University and senior pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church, has written a detailed account of the life of Jesus during His earthly ministry in 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ. Falwell does an extraordinary job chronicling the life of Jesus in an interesting, thought-provoking way. But this book isn’t just a list of activities; it delves the depths of Christ’s motivations, feelings, and experiences walking this earth in human flesh. The reader is not only informed, but challenged to apply spiritual truths to their own lives—to adopt the mission of Christ as their own.

“Jesus did not promise us a life free of trouble. He is called the God of all comfort—and if there were no troubles, He would not need to be called by this name. Jesus does not promise freedom from all problems, but He does promise that we will never face situations alone.” –1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ by Jonathan Falwell (pp. 9-10)

1000 Days addresses not only the ministry of Christ but the impact His ministry has for every person claiming to be a Christ-follower, both past and present. The text carefully walks through Jesus’ mission along with His expectations of those who follow Him. I particularly appreciated chapter four which walks through the first several verses of the Sermon on the Mount. He answers some important questions regarding this passage like what do the “beatitudes” really mean for you and me, and how did Jesus display them in His life? This chapter alone merits the purchase of this book and is something I will be referring to many times over.

Falwell also addresses the subjects of hypocrisy among believers, the doctrine of hell, dealing with temptation, authentic worship, pure motives, and what it really means to be a “Christian”.

“What does He mean that apart from Him we can do nothing? Jesus was not talking about what you and I can accomplish on a daily basis, what tasks to perform, what skills we can exercise, or how fast we can tick off our to-do lists, He was saying that we will accomplish nothing of eternal value unless what we do is based on the resources God gives. Without the life of Jesus flowing through us, our accomplishments don’t amount to a hill of beans.” (pg. 150)

Overall it is a phenomenal read and I highly recommend it. 1000 Days left me encouraged, motivated, inspired, and challenged to know and reflect the life of Christ more. Questions are also included at the end of each chapter for personal or small group study.

(I received 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ by Jonathan Falwell from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback and every opinion expressed here is my own.)

To purchase 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ Click HERE.

Comfortable

Suggested Reading: 2 Samuel 23:8-12

Imagine an entire army running for their lives as the enemy draws near. Hundreds, if not thousands of men running in a panic seeking the comfort of safety. All of a sudden one lone guy stops running as his fellow soldiers fly past him. This one man decides he’s not going to run to comfort, he’s going to face the uncomfortable and trust God no matter what the outcome. Shammah turns around and faces the Philistine army alone, then, “The Lord brought about a great victory.” (vs. 12)

The mighty “heroes” of the Bible were used by God when placed in uncomfortable situations and each one of us has the potential to be a mighty warrior; there’s no reason God can’t work miracles through us as he did then. What is required? I’ll quote Pastor Pat on what he called “the Shammah Principle”:

He did what he could with what he had where he was.

With God, Shammah had everything he needed to achieve victory. Right now we are equipped with everything we need to be a hero. We have the Holy Spirit, God Himself, residing in us. The same God who uses one man to defeat hundreds of people uses us every day right where we’re at with what he’s given us.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the opportunities you’ve placed in my path to be your mighty warrior. Motivate me through discomfort and continue to develop my faith. 

(Patrick McCalla is the teaching Pastor at New Life Community in Peoria, Arizona. You can read more of how God is using him as an every day hero through his blog, http://www.patmccallablog.com/.)