Questioning the FFA?…

Do you ever take the time to question your decisions after you’ve made them? I do all the time. I wonder why I stopped to get my picture taken with a Future Farmer of America in the Salt Lake City Airport last Tuesday. I also wonder why I didn’t get my picture taken with the New York City Rockette I sat next to on my previous flight to Vegas!

I wonder if Brad here knows he looks a lot like some other members of our dearly cherished FFA.

Or maybe Brad is simply hoping to play his cards right so he can get in good with this former Future Farmer of America (who, along with Jimmy Carter, Bo Jackson, and Willie Nelson, thought it a smart way to kick-start their various careers)?

OR… do you just take the time to question other people’s decisions?

I wondered why Salt Lake City’s local scuba dive shop was open on an isolated street at 8:45 p.m. last Tuesday night. (maybe just in case you forgot your snorkel on the way to the Utah Naturist’s nude hot tub party????????)

I also wondered why my wife let me take a cellphone picture of her trying on hats she liked in Forever 21. (Forever 1821 maybe???????)

I wondered if these dude’s sitting across from me in our chemo chairs knew what would happen if their bag of chemotherapy were to accidentally tear and spill it’s contents on their skin:

Let’s just say it wouldn’t be a pretty site for John Lennon, the bald guys, or whoever had to clean it up:

It would definitely be a serious mess. But not as serious a mess as what’s going on all around us. For example, I think it’s a serious mess that the average family income in Park City, UT is $163,000 while  there are thousands of homeless children just 20 minutes down the road in Salt Lake City. (January, 2010: 11,883 homeless kids in a state of 2.7 million residents: just over 40% of state live in SLC, and 75% of state along Wasatch front).

I think its a serious mess that I never even considered how many compassion international children I could have given a Christmas to with the same money I spent on my new skateboard deck  this summer. I wonder why I never thought of  the starving children in Africa who need therapuetic vitamins/minerals to continue living. I could have saved four children through ADRA with my 60 bucks!!! Shouldn’t that thought have at least gone through my head before I clicked purchase?

Christian writer E.G. White said,

“In the great cities there are multitudes living in poverty and wretchedness… while in the same cities are those who have more than their hearts could wish… spending their money on richly furnished houses, on personal adornment, or worse still, upon the gratification of sensual appetites, upon liquor, tobacco, and other things that destroy the powers of the brain, unbalance the mind, and debase the soul.

The cries of starving humanity are coming up before God, while by every species of oppression and extortion men are piling up colossal fortunes.” -Testimonies, Vol. 9, pg. 12

And you know what’s worse? IT’S NOT EVEN ABOUT THAT. Ultimately, it’s not even about whether or not I saved every possible kid I could in Africa. I don’t think it’s about the hundreds of dollars I spend on my health each month versus if I spent it on someone else. It’s about who I’m living my life for. Is looking out for number one my biggest motivation? Am I even willing to give 10% of my time, much less my money, to serve others each week? When was the last month I gave up even a Saturday afternoon 4 weeks in a row in service to others?

Do you ever wonder why 2009 saw the largest single year increase in the U.S. poverty rate since our government began tracking these figures in 1959? Or why household participation in the food stamp program has increased 20.8% since last year? The saddest part about this is that our inward focus of only caring for ourselves seems to be keeping up with these numbers. Let me explain.

Two years ago I was driving down Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas and I saw a women that looked exactly like the one pictured above, except she didn’t have as many items in her shopping cart and only had a white sheet to cover herself! I pulled an illegal U-turn and drove up next to her. Having no cash on me (just snacks), I asked her if she was hungry. After she said yes, I offered her my unopened Keebler cracker package. She took them, and promptly handed them back saying, “Honey, now you know I don’t eat peanut butter,  you got anything else?”. I didn’t and suggested she simply remove the peanut butter, but she was above doing that!

My foodstamp story is an even worse depiction of the selfish state we live in. Last year I moved to Branson, MO with some coworkers for a temporary work assignment related to our timeshare marketing jobs.  My two coworkers went to the local social security office and made up a story about how they had moved to Missouri for work, but once there, it had all fallen through, and now had no money for food or shelter. This complete lie earned each of them close to $300 a month in food stamps! This was far from the truth: we were making over $2500 a week in commissions! They were kicked off two months later after refusing to attend some classes on going back to work.

Most of us are probably patting ourselves on our backs right now in congratulations for not being a picky homeless person or a food-stamp thief. I don’t think that is what James 5:2-5 is focusing on anyways:

Your wealth has rotted and moths have eaten your clothes. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last daysYou have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourself in the day of slaughter.”

Seems to me like the real problem is simple: ourselves.

If you are anything like me, the law of self-serving is probably your main moral code.

Next time I question why I wasn’t Swift enough to become a Future Farmer, I’ll try not to blame it on my lack of a dynamite personality.

Instead, I’ll try to recognize a self-programmed glitch that needs to be cleaned up before it creates a serious mess.


5 Responses to “Questioning the FFA?…”

  1. allison harper Says:

    Wow, Daniel. Good food for thought. Self serving is THE basic problem that fortunately only One Person can diffuse for us.

  2. Lots of good thoughts here. I paid $12.00 to ADRA for someone in Africa to have some chickens. Unfortunately we need to look at our own local area and help those around us. So much need, and if we listen we will be guided who to help. Be WEll. MMS

  3. Today my not-so-young-but-not-too-old body, ached all over. Plagued with permanent nerve damage and fibromyalgia, pain has become common place. I wept for myself and asked God “Why me Lord?”. I opened the mail consisting of bills that must be paid this month, wondering how I will make ends meet. I wept for myself and asked God, “Why me Lord?”. I saw a happily married couple holding hands walking in the mall. I wept for myself at the loss of my prcious spouse of thirty years and asked “Why me Lord?”. Today I came here to your blog. I read every single word you’d written. Your words held me captive. I was overwhelmed and in awe of your faith, your tenacity, your honesty to bare so much of yourself. I wept and said “Why Lord?” Yes it’s true, it rains on the just and the unjust. Some things we simply won’t understand until we see Christ face to face and he tells us the “why” of it all. Tonight I might struggle to find sleep from my physical pain, and emotional grief. But for now I will not know the agony, the fear, or the dread, of feeling my body being held prisoner to horrific seziures. I grow ill from toxic medications. I thought about it all. Then I wept and said, “Except for the grace of God, there go I”. Then I hung my head in shame and asked Father God to make me a better person, by allowing him to turn my weaknesses, that come from adversity, into towers of strength. Life is but a vapor. We all have crosses to carry. Some will. Some will not. I like to think God smiles upon the child that chooses to pick up his cross and follow him. You are an inspiration Daniel. God bless you and Logan.

  4. CORRECTION: “I WON’T grow ill from toxic medications”.

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