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Chris Pollock

Chris Pollock - web developer & ecommerce entrepreneur
undivided… my thoughts on world, family, church, business, technology and Jesus Christ (all in all)

Face to Face Lending

Our generation has been dominated by faceless lending.  Our recent economic crisis was spurred on by the increasing layers of abstraction that are introduced between borrower and investor.  Abstraction of borrower and lender has been an attempt to protect both, but has the really been the outcome?  Can we look at the signs of the times and read for ourselves that the more abstract that the borrowing process becomes, the more malicious and pain-filled it will become. 

A lesson I have been learning over and over again over the past five years is that Jesus came to set people right with himself and one another.  Not only does Jesus make it possible for us to have relationship with God, but also proper relationship with one another.  Another way of saying this is Jesus puts us face to face with our God and with our brother

1 John 1:1-4

1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

So often what I have seen in the church is not the kingdom lifestyle of face-to-face living but the embracing and encouraging of worldly abstractions that separate and insulate.  Why is this?  Chris has set us free from the fear of being wronged (hasn’t he)?  And yet we mitigate risk and loose valuable kingdom investment by continuing to run to the worlds financial system. 

For years I have been meditating on such things.  (See this document I produced five years ago).  And recently my Gracious Father has been allowing me to taste some of the concepts that I have so long thought about.  In order to purchase a house, a friend lent me a large sum of money as a bridge loan.  Lord willing, I will soon have the opportunity to do the same for another friend.  Here are a few of the goods that I have experienced in personal, face-to-face lending:

  • Sober Spending – Part of the credit culture that we live in is a disconnect between desires and the consequences of that spending.  Face to face lending puts a real face on spending in a number of ways.
    • 1. It ensures that my purchases are inline with the values of my community.  It discourages lending for the purposes of getting an advantage or “moving up”. My friend was more than wiling to lend me money when I was basically buying a house of equal value and size.  If I was trying to elevate my social standing by buying something with far more comforts than my friend possessed I doubt he would readily lend me the money. 
    • 2. Because I am returning payment to a person and not an institution, my repayment of the loan has a direct impact on his life.   While borrowing I was tempted to buy one of the latest gadgets on the market, but knowing that I had a debt to a friend, and that buying this item meant slower repayment to him helped to keep the “gots to have its” in check. 
  • Preaching the Kingdom of God – Loaning to one another preaches the veracity and reality of the Kingdom that God himself governs.  Let’s face it.. why are people in the church afraid to lend to one another?  Fear.  The Kingdom that God rules is run by Love.  Love cast out Fear.  Personal lending preaches the reality that God can manage his Kingdom and help his children come to terms when when there is a disagreement or problem.   Institutions and prophylactic structures make sense where love is NOT the governing rule, but do they make sense where it is?

There is really so much more.. but I’ll leave it there and with a Scripture that I read just this evening.

Psalm 112:5

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.

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Being Lazy Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Busy

There’s a part of me that has always associated being lazy with a lack of activity.  My picture of the lazy man is the man lying in his bed when he should be out working.  This picture is certainly still valid, but I’m starting to realize that laziness is more nuanced than that.  I am beginning to believe the laziness is more about responsibility than it is about activity.  Here’s how I came to be enlightened about this:

The other day I was cleaning up after dinner.  As usual, the kids were performing their responsibilities of wiping the table and cleaning up the floor.  Anyone with young children will understand that keeping children focused on task, doing the job that you have asked them to do is a lot of work.  I began to think to myself, maybe I should just let the kids go outside and clean up the dinning room myself.  Why was I thinking this?  Because in reality it was easier then helping my children to do a good job.  If I had gone down this path I would have been “busy” but I think I would still be considered lazy. 

On this occasion the Lord was reminding me that laziness isn’t so much about how busy I am as about whether or not I’m taking up the responsibilities that God has given to me.  The man who lays in bed when he should be working is not lazy because he’s in bed, he’s lazy because he is ignoring his responsibility to provide for his family.  In short, laziness is about not performing your responsibilities that the Lord has given to you, NOT about your current state of activity.  If your busy, but you’re not actually fulfilling the responsibilities that God has given to you: watch you, you might actually be lazy.

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Non-Charitable Charity – Why Giving the Government’s Way is Void of Love

It’s tax time again and for the past couple of years I’ve been struck that my method of giving is totally unrecognized by the government.  Before you mistake this as a complaint, it’s not, it’s simply an observation that I wish to bring to the attention of those that are interested in love.  It has slowly become my conviction that what the government calls “charity” is exactly self-interest in disguise.  Why self interest?  Giving to get.  If I give X to a valid 501(c)3 organization I’ll get my tax write off.  I admit that loving the way God tells us to love is full of rewards, but none of those rewards have anything to do with mammon.  Giving to get a tax write off is simply NOT charity… call it what you will, but don’t call it love. 

For more clarity I call your attention to one of the most well known passages of Scripture.  Where do we get our understanding of love?  Is it not from the story of the Samaritan?  After all, who loved their neighbor?  The one who picked up a stranger, washed his wounds (at expense to himself) and paid for his needs of recovery.  Where were the other two headed (the priest and the Levite), but off to their jobs at the governmentally-recognized institution. 

Ironically the government does not recognize “contribution to a specific individual” or “contribution to a nonqualified organization”.   The Samaritan’s expenses would not have been recognized by the government.   The irony is rich and hopefully the implications are clear.  What God desires is not for us to leverage and extra percentage or two by getting a tax write off, but rather to be open to do radical works of love to those whom won’t be recognized or “qualified” as outlets for the world’s charity.

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Christian Medical Bill Sharing Program Comparison

Healthcare!  The mere mention of it can make the hair on the back of you neck stand up.  Recently, in my move to become self-employed, I dug into the topic.  Thankfully, I had a leg up by knowing that “Christian Medical Bill Sharing” programs exist.  The concept is pretty simple: Christians, who share convictions and beliefs, band together to help each other cover the cost of their medical bills.  As one brochure puts it, it is very similar to the Amish building a barn.  They band together to help each other in a time of need.   These programs are not motivated by profits, but by a desire to help their fellow brother and sisters.

There are several programs out there.  In the PDF below I compare the programs on several points that were important to me and my family.  The document makes no claims to being totally accurate, but I hope that it speeds you along if you are investigating these types of the share programs:

Download Comparison PDF

UPDATES (11/2010):

Recently Samaritans’ changed some of their details.  Here are the updates to the comparison PDF

$320/month -  monthly share for a family of 3 or more (as opposed to $285)
$170/year -  annual administrative fee per household
$250,000 -  maximum amount publishable per person/per incident (this is not per year)
$399 -  this is the annual set aside amount for Save To Share
$30/month -  new monthly amount for SamaritanMV
Maternity-  now published as a regular need if the conception is after the start date
$170 -  amount for referral credit

Eventually we had to choose a program.  We chose Samaritan Ministries.

Why We Chose Samaritan Ministries

Transparency

I loved the fact that we were going to send our money directly to the person in need.  While this creates more “bookkeeping”, it is also a much better way to stay connected to the reality of people and their needs.  Because we sent our monthly “share” to an actual person, there is a very transparent yearly fee that covers the administrative costs of managing the lists, helping members and sending out the newsletters.

Simplicity

Of all the programs out there, this one seemed the least like insurance.  Although other plans might be more “convenient” by paying you from the storehouse.  We thought the setup of Samaritans was simple and straight forward.  Costs and coverage seemed very clear.

Family Friendly

We liked their prospective on family.  My wife was pregnant while we did this investigation.  One program would not even allow a pregnant woman to join!!  Samaritan Ministries seems very straight forward about how they share maternity costs.  Even if you had a baby in the first couple months of joining, you would be able to share a portion of your maternity need.

Knew Someone Who Had Been in the Program

I knew someone who had used this program (only for a season of their life).  This certainly help lend credibility when trying to make a decision about “what program do I choose”.

I hope this post and document help you along in your decision making process.  Please feel free to comment or email with any questions you might have for us.

UPDATE:

Apparently there are a bunch of you out there who find this information helpful. That’s great!  If you decide to go with Samaritans like we did, please consider putting us down as the referral on your application.  You can request information about the program here.

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Communion Hymn – Gather at the Table

My friend William Gucker (Bill) has written anther hymn.  This one if focused on communion and what it means to shre in the body and blood of Jesus together.  It is sung to the tune of "The First Noel".

Gather at The Table

At the table of the Lord, where the brethren meet.

     There's the heart of assembly, and fellowship sweet.

To know, and to be known. To declare where you stand.

     Pilgrims must walk together in this foreign land.

 

Our bodies are clean, yet we still wash our feet.

     We're aware that our sins may cause sickness or sleep.

Confess, repent, keep your conscience clean.

     Bless-ed is the pure heart, for the Lord shall be seen.

 

We remember through the bread, where the Lord of Lords led.

     His body was broken, follow me he said.

Rejoice and do not fear, to carry your cross.

     On the day of redemption you'll suffer no loss.

 

In the wine we see the blood, of a covenant made.

     Forgiveness of sins and a debt that was paid.

One cup is shared by all, and all are made one.

     Keep watch o'er your brother, so says the Son.

 

Heavenly marriage that is forged, groom coming for bride.

     An early taste now of what God will provide.

Dining all together now, a love feast so sweet.

     Eternally joyful at our saviors feet.

 

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A Hymn of our Age – Governance

Today I had the privilege of hearing and playing a new hymn that I believe captures a keen prophetic word to the church of our age.

This song is sung to the tune of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Governance
Written by William J. Gucker

Holy Spirit come and bind us, baptize us in your body
Though the Church has many members, we can live in unity
Make us people with one judgment, with one spirit, and one mind
Guard our souls from worldly wisdom, it is your way we would find

There’s no elder who serves as Moses, Jesus came to set us free
We are governed by the Spirit, walking in him we agree
There is one Lord, undivided, there is one truth, one way
We must learn to abide in him, so we are not led astray

Survey the world around you, it may tempt you to despair
Satan seeks to find a foothold, Jesus’ body he will tear
Keep your eyes upon the scriptures, walk by faith, and not by sight
Do not fear, your strength will fail you, live in resurrections’ light

Fleshly men suppressing knowledge, build their strongholds all around
Marching faithful, sound a clear note, and their walls will tumble down
Waiting for the second coming we shall know as we are known
What was dim will come to light and we shall reap what we have sown

In a day where the attractive leadership of individuals is often substituted for the oneness, unity and brotherhood of believers this is a much needed song!

For those of you familiar with hymnody, the tune name is Nettleton and the meter is 8.7.8.7.D. If you have an interested in contacting the author, let me know an I can put you in touch with him.

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children, suffering, beauty & truth

As Americans, all suffering is abhorrent to us.  We have chosen to silence it rather than understand its mystery. I do not claim to desire to suffer.. who does, yet when it comes, what is our posture. Has God rejected those who are suffering, or is it those who are suffering who are truly blessed in intimacy with God that can be gained along no other path. Because of what Jesus says in the Beatitudes, I am bent to believe that it is the later.

Perhaps even more difficult, is not our own suffering, but the suffering of those who are closest to us. I invite you to read about a family who is both suffering and being blessed: http://fahmer.blogspot.com/

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Things I see

Beautiful summer day in RochesterLicensed to kill...deer that is. And small woodland varmits"Daddy I'm cool" :sunglasses:Mmmm marsh mellows@ladyloki, Look a new one!!! Very english. Almost can't detect the lavender, but very tasty!! I'll get you one for when you visit Rochester if they're still at the store next time I go. #kombucha ##jetlagBackGatwick airport.... how it looks to spend 12 hours there:grimacing:. Kids did an amazing jobs helping cart around ALL our 25+ bags!!! God sent many helpful people along the way. #tryagaintoday #flightcancelled #lifewithboys #25 hours later back in home sweet home. Love is not efficient- both of these guys met me at the airport at 2am!Homeward boundWelcome to the This is our newest addition to the rental property, care of Lucas finding a rock on the floor inside and dutifully trying to throw it out the open door opposite this now shattered pane. Just had the glazier here Friday to get replacement panes for broken Lucas has self captioned this original piece of artwork. He calls it "Broken Glass"! #lifewithboysKids love the rain. Maybe a connection between this and the fact that unless we become like children we will not enter the kingdom of God.Great Britain comes complete with free blackberries!!!! Super sweet. #berrygreatbritain

Chris Pollock

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Rochester, New York

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Beautiful summer day in RochesterLicensed to kill...deer that is. And small woodland varmits"Daddy I'm cool" :sunglasses:Mmmm marsh mellows@ladyloki, Look a new one!!! Very english. Almost can't detect the lavender, but very tasty!! I'll get you one for when you visit Rochester if they're still at the store next time I go. #kombucha ##jetlagBackGatwick airport.... how it looks to spend 12 hours there:grimacing:. Kids did an amazing jobs helping cart around ALL our 25+ bags!!! God sent many helpful people along the way. #tryagaintoday #flightcancelled #lifewithboys #25 hours later back in home sweet home. Love is not efficient- both of these guys met me at the airport at 2am!Homeward boundWelcome to the This is our newest addition to the rental property, care of Lucas finding a rock on the floor inside and dutifully trying to throw it out the open door opposite this now shattered pane. Just had the glazier here Friday to get replacement panes for broken Lucas has self captioned this original piece of artwork. He calls it "Broken Glass"! #lifewithboysKids love the rain. Maybe a connection between this and the fact that unless we become like children we will not enter the kingdom of God.Great Britain comes complete with free blackberries!!!! Super sweet. #berrygreatbritain