Saturday, September 30, 2006
Here is the KaRen family from the refugee camp in the Thai/Burma border.
They arrived in Spokane on Thursday night.
Dad's name is Moon Light
Mom's is Yoe Yoo
Son's is Haliey
Oldest daughter name is July
Youngest girl is Larde Eh
We have been enjoying the family immensely, even though it is hard work, emotionally and mentally.
Lots of ground to cover, stuff to constantly explain, language barriers to work with, cultural challenges etc...but much is the same. Kids are kids for sure, they love playing with Destiny's dolls, riding bikes and scooters, playing at the park and they had their first Mc'D's dinner tonight. So much to share, I will try to put this experience into meaningful words as the whirlwind calms down. Pray we will be able to find a close house to all of us for the family.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Read more here: Masculinity Gone Wild
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Blogging never ceases to amaze me. This last Sunday we had a visitor that moved here from back east and came because she read my blog. Crazy.
But I also know that not everyone uses the internet (what are you amish?) or cant get access or whatever, so I am currently putting together a print edition. I have been going back through my blog and reformatting articles and I am goign to bind them together for people who just want a print copy.
The first edition should be ready by this Sunday I hope.
Bass wrote an essay recently that I consider required reading for anyone who cares about the contemplative life, immersed as we are in this impatient, shortcut addictive culture. He writes that when confronted with a complex and difficult task, he used to imagine himself laying down one brick after another, brick by brick by brick, to eventually accomplish his aims. But he's recently changed his metaphor from bricks to glaciers. A glacier is the most powerful force the world has ever seen. Literally nothing can stop a glacier.
A glacier is formed by the falling of snow that collects over a period of time. As the snow deepens, the weight compresses, ice forms, then more snow, then more ice, year after year— and nothing happens. Nothing happens until that glacier is 64-feet thick. Then it starts to move and nothing can stop it.
Bass notes that one theory about the origin of glaciers is that they are "the result of a wobble, a hitch, in the earth's rotation. . . . Glaciers get built or not built, simply, miraculously, because the earth is canting a single one-trillionth of a degree in this direction for a long period of time, rather than in that direction." And then this comment: "When I am alone in the woods, and the struggle seems insignificant or futile, or when I am in a public meeting and am being kicked all over the place, I tell myself that little things matter—and I believe that they do. I believe that even if your heart leans just a few degrees to the left or the right of center, that with enough resolve, which can substitute for mass, and enough time, a wobble will one day begin, and the ice will begin to form, where for a long time previous there might have been none. Keep it up for a lifetime or two or three, and then one day—it must—the ice will begin to slide" (The Roadless Yak, Lyons Press).
-Eugene Peterson article
Saturday, September 23, 2006
We have really put a lot of hard work into creating a meeting space that will be a local hub of community in our neighborhood. It has taken a lot of different peoples talents to bring this all together. It's great to finally see it being used for connecting with the people we are becoming friends with and by God's grace will help become followers of Jesus.
Today the ladies put on their first Women Only "Bonjour Breakfast" for the community. Around 25 women showed up! Great food and a chance to meet some really awesome people.
We had a lot of new people and two ladies that came simply from reading the poster on the church window! Too cool.
We were trying to have a prayer meeting but no one seemed to be able to muster up any requests. So we did what happens at most prayer meetings talk more to each other than to God. So...God shuffled in.
He came in the person of Gary.
You can see him meandering around the neighborhood with his funky leather hat and shabby clothes that hang off him like a windless flag hugs it's pole. Near toothless like most people around here and the ones he has seem like they are not worth having either, more trouble than any good. It seems we have acid in our water and everyone is eating black licorice by the looks of it.
Gary has grown old in the hard living sense, more has been done to him in his days than mere living should produce. You can see it carved into his withering skin. He made his way right to the table next to his pastor and stood there in an awkward way. The kind of intrusion that everyone feels but doesn't quite know what to say or do.
He talked, made a few jokes, greeted the people he knew and just stood there...like something was expected to happen but know one knew what. Affection was clearly evident in is interaction with his pastor, both in his warm proximity and in the eyes and smile of the one who obviously shepherds him with gentle care.
"We are going to have a prayer time Gary, so if you want to join go ahead and have a seat" said his pastor.
"Oh no, I got to get...got stuff to do." Gary said with out apology. "But I got something for you" he said, as he rustled through his countless bulging pockets.He pulled out his wallet and handed the pastor a handful of crumpled bills. “How much is there pastor” he said. “Oh about seven dollars” he replied. “Well there will be more on Sunday, I had to borrow a few.” Gary explained. He then said his goodbyes and made his way out.
The exchange has lingered on me like perfume hangs in the air long after the wearer has gone. The whole moment reminds me of a line in my favorite song “Thunder on the mountain” off of Bob Dylan’s c.d. “Modern Times”.
“Gonna raise me an army, some tough sons of b*tches
I'll recruit my army from the orphanages
I been to St. Herman's church, said my religious vows
I've sucked the milk out of a thousand cows’
I want an army of Gary’s born out of the hell of life...they seem to understand what is important in life. Herman’s Church produces a lot of vows and offers a lot of sacred cow teats to suck from but rarely do you see such powerful generosity expressed. True sacrifice and love being expressed not out of abundance but out of lack. On a fixed income...7 bucks is gold and so was Gary...pure and undefiled indeed.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Ronald Sider in his recent book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, makes the following observation based on statistical analysis of the giving patterns of American Christians by a couple named John and Sylvia Ronsvalle:
“American Christians live in the richest nation on earth and enjoy an average household income of $42,409. The World Bank reports that 1.2 billion of the world’s poorest people try to survive on just one dollar a day. At least one billion people have never heard the gospel. The Ronsvalles point out that if American Christians just tithed, they would have another $143 billion available to empower the poor and spread the gospel. Studies by the United Nations suggest that just an additional $70 - $80 billion a year would be enough to provide access to essential services like basic health care and education for all the poor of the earth. If they did no more than tithe, American Christians would have the private dollars to foot this entire bill and still have $60 - $70 billion more to do evangelism around the world.”
But the reality is that American Christians do not even tithe their income to their local church. According to recent surveys by George Barna, the average evangelical Christian in America gives less than 3% of their income on an annual basis to their church. And less than 9% of all evangelical Christians actually give 10% or more on an annual basis to their church. With statistics like that it is obvious why the average church in America cannot meet the basic needs of its own operating budget, let alone the needs of missions causes outside the local church.
Many people have friends that are Mormons and often are very confused
about what exactly is the difference between a Christian and a Mormon.
Here is a clear chart showing the major differences between the two.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
“I really struggle with American Christianity. I'm not really sure that people with our cultural disabilities, people who grow up in a culture that worships pleasure, leisure, and affluence, are capable of having souls, or being saved...” -Rich Mullins
Read the whole article here: Rant of an old soul
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
More here: Thai military coup
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Knowing God seems to be really important in most christian conversations and sermons today. But I often wonder if we really understand what it means to "know God". According to the above verse true knowledge of God is found in clear demonstration of love and compassion. The evidence that one knows God should be seen more than heard.
I want that to be true of our church and my life.
It was said of Jesus that he was "powerful in word AND deed" (Luke 24:13-32). What a legacy...
"Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice." -Jeremiah 22:13. The “wine” of heaven is to endlessly experience God’s love passing through one’s soul as it is expressed to others. To lose sight of this central reality in the christian life is to get lost in a quagmire religion that produces perpetual navel gazing. So many Christians are caught up in chronic temperature taking of their spiritual life. It's all about degrees, they are hardly ever able to rest in the confidence of their salvation. They have been taught that the main goal of the christian life is to attain some spiritual height that is only reached through straining the gnats of their imperfections. But what happens is they end up being so self focused on spiritual perfection that they end up swallowing a camel sized dose of irrelevant christianity!
I would rather be around a person who is real than someone who is good...at least the version that the church often produces. Somehow the church has been pumping out sterile, persnickety, phobic christians that have come to believe that the essence of following Jesus has been reduced to listening to people talk about other people that did something with their life worth talking about!!! God help us get free from the quicksand of a faith with no hands to work. You can't build the kingdom of Gods with just breath! It takes work, sweat, sacrifice and costs you something to see something. God banish the endless streams to religious blabber that fill us up like a barrel of buttered popcorn but just leave us wanting to take a nap and only produce another pound of spiritual gut blubber.
We are called sheep for a reason...we are designed to produce something that benefits others. We are created to be sheared. Too many of us are walking around with tons of wool hanging off us. It's gotten matted and dirty because we have forgotten our purpose of existence. There are countless lost people shivering in the cold of this world because the church hasn't been sheared of it's fruitfulness. The evidence of a powerful ministry coming from the pulpit is a behemoth pile of wool laying before the altar of God.
God give us sharp shears...this world is getting colder.
"You infidels and despotic, we will continue our jihad (holy war) and never stop until God avails us to chop your necks and raise the fluttering banner of monotheism when God's rule is established governing all people and nations," you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (killed by) the sword."-Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni Arab extremist groups that includes al-Qaida in Iraq. (Islam forbids drinking alcohol and requires non-Muslims to pay a head tax to safeguard their lives if conquered by Muslims. They are exempt if they convert to Islam.)
Pope Benedict on Tuesday in Germany had quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian on the truths of Christianity and Islam. "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,'" he quoted the emperor as saying.
The pope on Sunday said that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction and said the remarks came from a text that didn't reflect his own opinion.
Hummm...Islamists are angry about a quote about Islam using a sword to spread the faith, and yet this is the kind of threats and intentions they make publicly? Are these people completely nuts? What is going to happen when these groups to get a hold of a nuke?
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
I've been listening to Bob Dylan's new cd "Modern Times" and His old Cd "Saved". I must confess, I like his less in your face faith music more. His faith is woven all through his lyrics and biblical imagery is behind so much that he writes, past and present. The "christian" cds are obviously potent with His new found faith at that time and the evangelical zeal for sharing Christ is strong in them for sure. But It just seems so...pushed in some ways.
Maybe its my postmodern upbringing but I cringe at bull horn preaching outside of the pulpit. Using art as a "tool" is common among the chosen, but I find myself tired by such endeavors. Not that I don't believe in sharing Christ but the methods today seem so commercialized or packaged like a frozen tv dinner. Personal cooking is by far the most preferred choice for eating food. A loving cook is much more meaningful than a fast food worker hashing out some cheap grub. So often I feel that the treasure of Christ has been forced into a cardboard container and shrink wrapped for quick and easy consumption. Like all the mush at the local buffet, soft and mushy os anyone can swallow it. But soon it all tastes the same.
Art gets hijacked in the church, whether film, music, paintings or books, the message trumps the medium. Soon even people are not important just their spiritual guts. Who cares whether they have food or clothes or emotional needs...we just want to know if they are saved? We depersonalize humanity and reduce the human drama to accepting a few propositions of truth. We have taken a color filled existence and reduced it to a black and white experience. I don't like it and it often makes me slightly spiritually queasy.
I want prophets that are not looking for profits....be they spiritual or material. Bring back the oracles that speak to speak, sing to sing, paint to paint, write to write. Give the ones who are passionate about the WAY as much as the TRUTH and understand that TRUTH must be wed to LIFE to truly be lived.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I like some stuff more than others but over all I will buy it for sure. I didnt feel the movie needed more flash back scenes like I heard form many people. I enjoyed the narrow focus of it. I loved the use of original languages, I felt it made it more rich and textured. The bloodiness of it all was perfect in my opinion. I didn't think it was over done...any Jew who is familiar with the amount of bloodshed at a typical temple sacrifice session would know that the bloodiness of it all was biblical and accurate.
I didn't care for most of the Satan stuff...other than the opening scene and a few lurking in the crowd shots. I liked the Judas parts, I felt it fleshed out the back story as it could have been, I mean, the dude killed himself, he had to be tormented.
The whipping scenes was brutal for sure but the nails being hammered was the part that got my queasy meter on 10.
My favorite parts were: the Mary flashback:
And the Mother Mary scene when she flash backed to him falling as a child:
Those two scenes moved me the most and then the part where Peter curses Jesus, that was powerful too. Anyway, I liked it, two thumbs up and I think I will watch it again soon.
Lee shwe (38 years old) Mother
Klee (11 years old, girl)
Klow (10 years old, girl)
Bah Ehdoh (3 years old, girl)
They will be living with us for the first two weeks and then moving into a house close to us as well...Lord willing.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
In light of this verse:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you may be no priest to me. Because you have forgotten your God's law, I will also forget your children. -Hosea 4:6
This statistic is alarming:
ParaPublishing.com reports that “58% of the adult population never reads another book after high school.
Yet one more reason I feel called to make literacy a part of our ministry in the area that we live. A bookstore is cutting-edge ministry if such facts are true.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The good life club comes from John 10:10, where Jesus promises abundant life, and is especially applicable to children who are on the run, hiding with their families in the jungles of Burma.
What to do:
1. Get the following items together:
For mothers and children:
Multivitamins (for mom)
Pediatric vitamins (Gerber Vitamin Drops, for example)
Cap, hand mitts and a shirt (not a one-piece) It gets very cold in the mountains of Burma!
A drawing or photo of you or your group
A post card from your town or state
Small fingernail clippers
Small comb and mirror
One box of children's chewable vitamins
2 child size toothbrushes
A drawing or photo you or your group
A small toy
2. Then, making sure to put everything in a sturdy ziplock bag, send to:
The Good Life Club
Box 14 Mae Jo
Solomon says that so much "under the sun" is mere meaningless and vanity. Our only hope is in the prayer Jesus told us to pray...Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven...forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors...(matt 6:9-13).
I dont pretend to understand the how of all of that...thats why we pray it, it is a work of God that He must be involved in or it cant happen. It has to "come heaven to earth" so to speak. We become the source from which that new kingdom life emerges. We become the epicenter of change, of new values, of new thought, of love.
But we also become the place where Justice also crawls back to her feet. In the streets she may have fallen but in the church she is nurtured back to health and finds strength to once again not just stand, but to even walk in us and through us. For God is holy and His love is grounded in righteousness as well as mercy and grace. He will have mercy on who He will have mercy and the rest will taste of His wrath.
His wrath will be revealed...
"We ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. -2 Thess 1:4-8
I see the ministry that we are called to show being a prophetic foretaste of what is to come. We are in that Kingdom already and He desires the earth to taste of the powers of the age to come as Hebrews puts it. We can say that the Kingdom of God is among us too, not in it's fullness maybe but in the fullness of its King, in whom we move and live and have our being.
That should make a difference around here in my opinion. Jesus suffered at the cross...now He is reigning and putting all His enemies under His feet...the last to be...death.
Monday, September 11, 2006
She is in her early twenties and has her whole future in front of her. Or she did… last year she was arrested by the Burma Army while traveling with her friend and husband who was married the day before. First she was interrogated and beaten then sentenced kangaroo style to 8 years in prison for aiding the resistance. She was seen after this bruised, unfed, frail and her clothing torn.
Forget that medical personnel are protected in such instances by international law; we are talking about Burma here. From reports of family and friends things have gotten much worse for her. Recently we heard that she was moved or taken to another prison and forced to travel with one of the Burma Army battalions. During this time she was raped by a large number of those soldiers, made pregnant and sent back to prison. The baby did not survive… We don’t have hard evidence of any of this but the sources are people who know her.
And this is not uncommon for the Burma Army to do. In fact it’s part of their modus operandi, well documented and made public by multiple organizations. What can we do for her? For me I have to keep from hatred, but how? So I pray and look for ways to help. Please think about doing the same. (Matt Blauer www.refugeeswithin.blogspot.com)
This kind of evil is why we as a church (Jacob's Well) will be helping two families from Burma relocate to Spokane in 2 weeks from now. Any money or household items, or leads on some housing in East Central would be helpful. We want the two families to be close to all of us, so we can be present to help in any way we can as a church. Please pray...for Naw Bey Bey, her family and friends who love her and for the families coming to both Spokane and Portland. May God's mercy, love and grace tell a different story than this evil.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
This Sunday in the sermon at Jacob's Well, we will be looking at two paintings by Caravaggio that depict the same scene but painted at different times in his life (Supper at Emmaus, 1601 & 1606). One of the often tragic fading realities of the Christian life is the disappearance of "Joy & Amazement"...our hearts seldom burn anymore. We have grown accustomed to the One who used to bring life altering wonder...now it's painfully obvious most of us have become bored of Jesus.
I think many have come to the same conclusion about faith that Homer Simpson came to in an episode where his son asked him a question about the families religion:
Bart: What religion are we?
Homer: You know, the religion with all the well-meaning rules that don't really work in real life.
If we are going to have any substantive impact on this post-modern culture, we are going to have to recover a New Testament fire that once again produces "Joy & Amazement". Speaking with Jesus has got to burn again...or the smoldering wick of our devotion will yet again cast a dark cloud of irrelevancy over our generation.
Friday, September 08, 2006
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires. -2 Timothy 4:2-3
Is it just me or has the deep end of the pool disappeared from most churches community life? The word study has fallen out of vogue in most circles and a "desire" focused programing model has replaced the the rigorous past of learning to love the Lord your God with among other things...your mind. Paul warns the Romans in chapter 16 of men who will come that deceive the "naive, simple, unsuspecting". The simple path is a wide path for sure. The heights of God are ascended out of love to know Him, to know His ways, His will, His heart and HIs character...so that we might enjoy Him first and foremost and then to spread that knowledge to those who do not know.
The primary means to accomplish this is through His word. We are called to "study" the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15) not just be listen to them. Inspiration is important but impartation is critical in this day, especially since we live in a time where the tickle is the preeminent goal of most endeavors. Our desires rule and our "wants" are king...as a pastor, I see this all the time. It is laced through almost every conversation. Not what God desires or wants but what do we want. It is true that we should throw the new christian in the deep end because they have not learned to swim in the depths of God's mysteries. But we shouldn't remove the deep end for fear of such possibilities. The mature long for the depths of God.....deep calls unto deep.
The shallows are safe, rarely does someone drown there. The deep has taken many lives, the dangers are real...pride, arrogance, isolation, party spirit, insanity; but the the dangers do not outweigh the rewards. Let not the fear of the unknown deter us from swimming out to the places where we can no longer touch.
You might drown or you might discover a God who is waiting for you to leave the shallows.
Monday, September 04, 2006
God wants to make some music again and he is going to do it through the lips of those who are facing desperate situations.
So often we kind of think that only those who deserve a song, should get to sing one. But the beauty of grace is that God puts a song in the mouths of those who most often don't expect to ever sing again.
Singing in the church has too often become a mere formality or nice section of the service to warm us up for the rest of the religious program. We are in desperate need of the songs of deliverance to be sung in our churches. The tear streaming, mercy tasting kind of singing. Songs sung from stories that have unexpected and surprise endings.
Saturday I talked to a young mother outside our building, as she sat smoking on our benches. She had fled an abusive husband in Ohio and was living at her mothers in a small trailer with no heat. She needed to find a place to stay but because of previous problems with the state, she couldn't go through them...she looked desperate in a hollow kind of way.
Yesterday after the service, I had a older woman come into the church, frustrated and in need of someone to pray with her.
Her landlord treated her unfairly and evicted her and didn't give her the deposit she rightly should have gotten.
Later, a father and his young daughter came by to ask for a backpack and school supplies. He had recently just gotten out of jail and needed some help. We told him to come back in a few hours and we would have the supplies, just in case he was really just looking for drug money.
He came back and she was thrilled, smiles from ear to ear as she was handed the little girl backpack with schools supplies in it.
Even later, a single mother came by, she was overwhelmed with her health issues and cried as she shared how hopeless and hurt she was, that she couldn't give her son the things he needed...like school fees.
All this took place outside of church, not during a service...one of the blessings of being in a neighborhood and not just holding a service in one.
"From the city men groan and the souls of the wounded cry out..."-Job 24:12
God has called the church to be more than a sign that points to Jesus. She is called to carry His Spirit, speak His words, shed His tears, release His power and live in and among those she is called to love and serve.
We are constantly goaded by the gospel and the Spirit to embrace a community and sow the words and actions of a Spirit empowered life there. This won't happen until we start living the gospel and stop just talking and praying about the gospel. The gospel is to be preached not simply meditated on.
Our neighbors need Jesus...and He needs His church to arise and be who she is called to be. Let's go and make some widow's hearts sing!