6 Ways to Be Middle Class and Mission-Minded

Here are six straightforward ideas to challenge middle (and upper) class Americans to reject opulence and excess while building the kingdom of God:

  1. Keep your high paying job and give the majority of your income away by living in a small house (not every kid deserves their own room) and driving modest cars (Chevy gets you there just as well as Lexus).
  2. Use your vacation time to go on a short term mission trip with your church or missions organization.
  3. Host international students from the local college or university during weekends or holidays.
  4. Start or join an urban ministry reaching hurting families, particularly widows and orphans.
  5. Buy a house, car, or other useful items for missionary families to use while they are home on furlough.
  6. Cash in your investments, sell everything, leave your vocation, and serve as a missionary overseas (even if you have children!).

What are some others you have thought of?


New iPhone App to Allow Driving from Mobile Phone

German researchers have developed an iPhone app that will allow the user to drive a vehicle via their mobile phone.  Here’s a snippet:

The iDriver has individual accelerate and brake buttons and a virtual steering wheel that utilises the phone’s motion-sensor technology. It interfaces with a specially equipped car which receives messages from the iPhone and relays them into the vehicle via wireless technology. The virtual driver allows driving from a distance through the use of live video streaming from a roof-mounted camera

I swear that some people already drive as if they were sitting on their couch in boxers, iPhone in one hand, a bag of Cheetos in the other, singing along to VH1’s pop-up video classics.

Thankfully, the app is not expected to be commercially available any time soon, or at all.


Automatic Transmissions and the Glory of God

The transmission in my Mazda 626 went out this week.  It still works for the most part, but the odds of it falling out of my engine and lying dead on the road soon are relatively good.  I’m not going to lie, that sucks.  I need a car and God knows that.  However, God has shown me his glory through the process of dropping $1,400 two weeks ago for other problems and getting ready to sell the car in December due to the fact that I’m moving to South Africa.  I can’t put more money into it.  But I can’t afford a new car.  Quite the dilemma.

This isn’t suffering — compared to what Jesus went through before he died on the cross — but in its own unique way, it is discipline.  Some hardcore, eschatology-freak Christians might say that God punishes his children for sins or poor choices we make.  Those people might say, “James, you sinned, so God is punishing you buy breaking your car and causing financial strain.”  Hmm, sorry, no he’s not.

I do think, however, I’m being disciplined.  For those of you who are more gracious and lenient, more of the hippie-Jesus crowd, you might say, “C’mon, James.  Disciplined?  A transmission?  That’s just what happens in life.  Just roll with it, man.”  I disagree with you as well.  God made Mazda 626 transmissions — as shoddy as they are — for their purpose.  I believe God caused my transmission to crap out.  Call me a radical, but listen first.  Proverbs 16:4 says, “The LORD has made everything for its purpose.”  Further, the word “discipline,” in English, comes from the Latin disciplina which means “teaching, learning.”  I’m learning about God’s glory because of my car’s transmission.  Here’s how the author of Hebrews talks about God’s discipline.

It is for discipline that you have to endure.  God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
– Hebrews 12:7-8

If I am not seeing God’s glory and knowing him more, I am not his son.  I’m just a religious phony who isn’t born again.  When I got the phone call that the transmission’s funeral will be held sometime this month, I was not happy.  But after that moment of frustration, I said, “God, it’s okay.  It’s just a car.  Show me your glory in this.  Help me get through this well.”  God is using this to cause me to endure.  I need to depend on him financially even more than before.  Now, I need to trust God to find a way to get to the gym each day.  I need to trust God that someone will want to buy this car despite it having a bad transmission.  I need to trust God that he knew what he was doing when I bought this car two and a half years ago not knowing how much money I’d invest in it.

Thank God for my transmission.  It’s an opportunity to believe God’s promises and see his glory.  He made everything for it’s purpose.  Even transmissions.