Violent crime is nothing new to our twin cities, here in central Illinois, especially the last 5 years. While we may grow calloused to being bombarded constantly with news reports of tragedy, it hits a nerve when a child or teenager is struck down as was the case recently. As people try to solve issues on the political level, what is the spiritual role and responsibility of the Church?
Throughout history, God’s people have had a habit of getting off track. In those moments, He sought to raise up a servant with a prophetic voice to return them to their proper place to fulfill their purpose. We see Ezekiel as one of those people charged to call the Israelites to attention: “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, BUT I FOUND NO ONE” (22:30)
In those days, cities needed to be defended. If there were no natural defenses they built walls, sometimes 15’-25’ thick and 25’ high. Walls were an indication of a city’s strength and ability to fend off attacks. Atop these walls were watchmen constantly scanning the horizon who would warn of impending danger. They were the first line of defense. But due to corruption and wickedness in Judah, no one was found to fulfill this crucial role. They weren’t available to perform their duties and failed the people of the city who relied on them.
In the same way, much of the Church has grown worldly and apathetic. Not only have we failed to diligently stand on the wall, we’ve been negligent in protecting anyone except ourselves. The WALL is the prayers of the Church lifted up for the people of the city from the weakest to the strongest, youngest to the oldest. The voices that cry out against moral decay and compromise, leading the way to true repentance, and multitudes seeking after God. Then we will experience His justice and peace.
God is searching out the courageous who will stand on the wall and fight for their city–against an enemy who is ruthlessly trying to destroy His people. Individuals, small groups, congregations…all are being called up for active duty to drop to our knees and pray. Our cities don’t need our programs and one-time events which are ultimately self-serving. They need us practicing 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 28:18-20. Until then, the enemy is free to do what he wants.
One of the opportunities we provide to empower our participants and community members is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. This nationally acclaimed program gives individuals resources to take control of their finances, work towards being debt free, and the privilege of being generous. Statistics in America show us:
- Average Household Income: $56,516
- Average Household Debt: $187,187 (Mortgages, Student Loans, Auto Loans, Credit Cards)
- 76% of people live from paycheck to paycheck
- Average household wastes 24% of their take-home pay on consumer debt.
- 64% can’t cover a $1000 emergency
- Money problems are one of the top 3 reasons for marital problems and divorce
FPU has proven to be a game-changer in helping improving people’s financial outlook. Dave uses conventional wisdom along with Biblical principles to spell out ways to experience freedom in this area of their lives.
- God wants us to be wise stewards. “Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest” (Proverbs 3:9).
- God doesn’t want us to be in debt. “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7).
- God wants us to be generous, and to allow our finances to be a part of His plan in the world. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17).
- God wants us to prosper. “Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground…” (Deuteronomy 30:9). [*NOTE: “prosperous” doesn’t necessarily mean “rich” and doesn’t only apply to finances]
- God want us to experience peace. “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6: 31-33).
Every paid participant will receive an FPU membership kit with the student manual (9 sessions), course CDs, FPU “wallet,” and other valuable money management tools. Read here to learn more about our next course, starting September 20th.
Among the greatest advances in technology in the last quarter century, the personal computer and the Internet would be near the top of that list. Imagine the panic, anxiety, and chaos that would occur if the web were to go down for an even an hour.
But for 25% of the population with the lowest income, the interruption would be barely noticeable. Updated computers, tablets, smartphones are luxuries, much less actual broadband online access.
Why should internet disparity be a concern? Because it may actually play a role in keeping poor people poor by cutting off access to:
- Government benefits and services.
- Employment pathways. 80% of Fortune 500 companies, including Target and Walmart, only accept job applications online.
- Educational opportunities and resources. More and more schools are assigning homework that requires internet usage. Research show us that students who have Internet access have graduation rates 6-8% higher than those who don’t.
- Comparison shopping in order to find cheaper products, services, and rates. Consumers can save almost $8,000/year finding discounts on essentials like apartment rentals, clothes, gasoline and food.
- Time saving online tools which frees up time for other activities.
- Sources of knowledge and information for research, medical advice, day-to-day repairs, etc.
- Relationships and even employment can be enhanced by social media.
- Productivity and developing skills useful for the marketplace.
Our Technology Center at Salt & Light will make these invaluable resources available to our participants and neighbors. We hope it becomes a place of collaboration sparking creativity, innovation, and imagination.
Instruction will be available in basic word processing, how to utilize the web, internet security, social media, and other essential computer usage. Lab monitors will be on hand to assist with need that may arise.