Christmas: Excessive Consumption or a Chance to Do Good?

I linked to this last year, but I wanted to highlight it again.


[AC] 2012 Promo – Basic from Advent Conspiracy on Vimeo.

Every time I watch this it brings tears to my eyes.  It’s a relatively small sacrifice–foregoing a just few gifts, not all of them–and it can literally be life changing for a village without water or a victim of human rights violation.

Here are some organizations that will take your small donation and do real good:

Agricultural Development and Support

Heifer International

Samaritan’s Purse*

World Vision*

Child Sponsorship

Compassion International*

World Vision*

Human Rights

Amnesty International

International Justice Mission*


Charity Water

Living Water*

*Indicates faith-based organization

Do you include charity in your gift giving traditions?  Do you go through other organizations?  Share them in the comments–I’m always looking for good charity organizations!

When Alan and I married, we set up a charity registry, as we both had plenty of dishes.  We tell our friends and family that we prefer charity gifts for Christmas and birthdays–last year our favorite Christmas gift was two chickens!



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On “Christian Values” and American Politics

I am glad President Obama was re-elected last night.  I voted for him.
I love that America is a democracy where everyone can vote, and everyone can choose whom to vote for, for whatever reason they want.
I read an ad by Billy Graham in preparation for the election, urging Christians to vote for someone with biblical values.  Was that a veiled request to vote for Romney?  It sounds like it.
But I did vote for someone with Christian values.
There are Christian values on both sides of the aisle.

Pro-Life (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13)

Anti-Gay [Sex] Marriage (Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:10)

Welfare, Foreign Aid, Healthcare, etc. [Radical Generosity; Protecting the Weak; Not Ignoring Need]  (Leviticus 19:9-10; Leviticus 25:17; Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 15:7-8; Deuteronomy 24:6; Deuteronomy 24:17; Proverbs 3:27-28; Proverbs 22:22; Proverbs 23:10; Isaiah 1:17; Isaiah 61:1; Jeremiah 21:12; Micah 6:8; Zechariah 7:9-10; Matt 6:19-20; Matt 19:21; Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 3:11; Luke 12:13-21; Luke 14:12-14; Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 13:16; James 1:27; James 2:15-16; 1 John 4:20-21; Revelation 3:17)*

Feminism (Galatians 3:28)
The argument of whether it’s the government’s role to enact such Christian values is another issue all together.  Republicans say that while individuals are called to be generous, it’s not the government’s role to force it on people.  Democrats say that while individuals shouldn’t have abortions, it’s not the government’s role to take away that right.  It’s the same argument.
But my point today is that there are Christian values on both sides.  You cannot say that anyone who didn’t vote for Romney didn’t vote for Christian values.  I cannot say that anyone who didn’t vote for Obama didn’t vote for Christian values.  We all decide which issues (moral, economic, political) are the most important to us, align with our beliefs and values, and vote accordingly.  We all vote our conscience.

*For a Cliff’s Notes version, just read the italicized links; for more reading, contact me—I have hundreds of verses on this stuff!

Weigh in: are there other “Christian values” that you identify on either side of the aisle?  If you’re quoting Christian values or ideals, please provide Bible references in your reply.  

How do you pull apart Christianity from economics and politics when you make these decisions?



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I’m off Facebook (again).  The politics are just too much these days.

[P.S. I’m a Democrat.  Alan’s a Republican.  Vote your conscience.]



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Advent Conspiracy

“Just 1% of the annual Christmas spending in the US could mean 1 million rescue operations with the potential to free millions and put slave owners out of business for good.”




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This week at church the Pastor asked us to memorize, meditate on, and otherwise pay attention to Isaiah 58:5-10.  The church is focusing on not just transforming the lives of individual church members, but on transforming the community and the world around us.  This is one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible, so I’m pretty excited.

The context is that this is in the Old Testament, and the Israelites aren’t following God’s commands.  Their life is pretty messed up, but they keep thinking that if they just do the “stuff”—if the just fast and pray—then God will restore them.  Here is God’s reply:

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?

Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice 
   and untie the cords of the yoke, 
to set the oppressed free 
   and break every yoke? 
Is it not to share your food with the hungry 
   and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— 
when you see the naked, to clothe them, 
   and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression, 
   with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry 
   and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, 
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

Isaiah 58:5-10




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Grandpa’s Memorial Service

Yesterday Alan and I drove down to Ithaca for my Grandpa Ludington’s memorial service.  In July 2010 he was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most common and aggressive form of primary brain tumor.  He had brain surgery, chemo, and radiation.  But it wasn’t enough, and he passed away on February 12, 2011, just seven months after his diagnosis.

The service was held in the church he and my grandma attended for more than 30 years: Bethel Grove Bible Church.  I will weave together pictures from the service with a brief biography [update: the biography is taken from the memorial service program] of him.

Born in Holley, NY, Dave [my grandpa] graduated from Cornell with a B.S. (1956) and an M.S. (1959), both in Agricultural Engineering; he earned a Ph.D. from Purdue University in Agricultural and Sanitary Engineering in 1968.

at the church

He joined the faculty at Cornell in 1959 in the Department of Agricultural Engineering, where he taught and conducted research for 35 years, before retiring in 1995.  During that period, he taught courses in electricity, refrigeration, energy technology, water pollution, and environmental technology.  As founder and director of the Cornell Agricultural Energy Program, he helped establish seven demonstration farms that showed the farm public what can be accomplished through the use of sound energy management technologies.

Dave Jones: friend, Pastor of Bethel Grove Church

After retiring from Cornell, Dave founded DLTech, a consulting firm that worked with dairy farmers to produce a better product, conserve energy, and improve profitability.  Recently, he directed work in anaerobic digestion on dairy farms.  He was still working with several farms until the time of his diagnosis….

Kirsten Seitz Peltz

Dave received Christ as his personal Savior at age 30, and that decision impacted the rest of his life.  He received great pleasure in ministering to those who attended Bethel Grove Bible Church, by serving as a deacon, elder, Sunday School teacher, small group leader, member of the finance committee, and by the church bus.

Chuck Tompkins, former Pastor of Bethel Grove

He was passionate about his family—Letty, his wife of 54 years, and their three children, Debbie, Paul, and Anne, their spouses and eight grandchildren.  He was blessed with his first great-grandchild in January, 2010.

Teresa Ludington (my mother), reading a eulogy


It was a good kind of memorial service: a nice mixture of sadness and celebration.  It was also really nice to see so many family members together!

My sister Katherine came down from Boston:

People say we look alike…

My brother Dan and his wife Kristen came up from DC


Alan even wore a suit!

Doesn’t he look happy to be in a suit?

There were two receptions.  The first was on the church property, and there were a LOT of people there!

In the evening there was a smaller (but still 70 people!) reception for family, closest friends, and people who had traveled long distances to come.  We shared some more rememberances, and enjoyed the company of people we get to see so infrequently.

All in all, it was a good day.  I really am going to miss my grandpa.  He was an exceptionally kind man, who gave you his full attention when you were speaking.  He always learned the names of waitresses when we went out to dinner, and would tease them with a big smile and a twinkle in his eye.  He was spunky and active, and a lot of fun to be around.

Someone said that it was ironic that he would have loved to be there, at his own funeral.  He would have been so happy to greet all of his friends.

Love you, Grandpa!

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