Thursday, April 30, 2009

St. Photini Sunday....It's tough being a Woman

This coming Sunday we are hosting a woman led Sunday in honor of the woman at the well St. Photini. We will have a group of ladies speaking, representing the different generations at Jacob's Well. The goal of this sunday will be to show that every woman at every season of life; can develop a relationship with the Lord and be on mission. The trick is getting new eyes to see that mission isnt something outside your day to day life, but its living your life with purpose and creativity. Seeing each activity as a natural path toward glorifying God and sharing Him by either word or deed. Looking for ways to rest in Him at each season. Understanding that serving the Lord as single student, career employee, nursing mom, toddle chaser, struggling wife of preschoolers, or as an empty nester or elder with lots of time but little energy is the art of learning to live from a center of grace and attentiveness.We want to help women see that Spiritual formation and mission are integrated into all our daily lives. We are in Jesus and everything we do is in Him and becomes kingdom filled. Our work is seeing that, hearing that and participating with the Spirit in the everydayness of mission. Dishes, conversations, school, birthday parties, coffee times, work parties, lunch breaks, the gym, the grocery store, mommies groups, doctor's offices, business trips, training days, college dorms, professors and coworkers, meals, recreation, hospitality....everything is included in the mix.

God is in it all and can be found through it all....every season has its opportunities and challenges.

"...For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." -Galatians 3:27-29

Community Resource Center

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10

These are some pictures from our Community Resource Center. This is the new computer lab we are building to help facilitate the English Tutoring we do on Thursday evenings. Much of the material that we use for teaching is via the web, through the Community College. Thanks to the many hard working donors and volunteers who are our loving tutors (Jesus with skin on); along with the computers (donated), the internet (donated) and hungry learners (refugees) all provide needed help for learning people.

This is part of the kitchen where our Chefs prepare the delicious meals to be served on Tuesday nights 5-7PM. We have a walk in fridge and freezer that are offline now but in the future when need and money kiss...we will be able to handle a lot of food, as a donating center or food bank....if the Lord ever leads or needs.

This is the clothing area where we provide good, used clothing for church and neighborhood folks. Sam Mathews oversees this area with excellence. We see weekly use of this resource. We could use Teen Clothes if anybody wants to do a clothing drive and help us provide quality used clothes for our teens in the neighborhood. It's one area that is always a need.

This is a new ministry at the Resource center, a sewing/crochet class is hosted by Karen Lood, one of our elder saints, on Thursdays from 1-4PM.

Dinner with Kings and Queens

Every Tuesday night I get a chance to dine with royalty...kings,
queens, foreign prime ministers, superheros, fairy princesses, cowboys
and hosts of other people of fact a few weeks ago, I'm
sure I saw the old witch from Snow White!
Community Dinners are always a hoot.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Phase garden project

Here is the composting area under construction in the church garden. We have salvaged, found and received used wood for various parts of this project, some from the neighborhood and some from donations. We always seek to reuse and recycle materials if we can get a hold of stuff that is quality.
The first of the perimeter planting beds going into the garden plot. We hope the grape vine will revive and grow up and over the entry gate and arbor we are constructing.

Wild Turkey...

On my morning exercise, I saw this wild turkey crossing the trail. I tried to get close to him, but by the time I got there, he was heading into the brush, so its hard to see him in the picture. But it was cool nevertheless.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The bride was beautiful...

This photo journal is touching and tragic....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One of my faves....

Earth Day, Park & Trail Clean Up...

We had almost 30 people come out today to celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up garbage in Underhill park and along the Ben Burr Trail. We enjoyed a beautiful afternoon in the outdoors, talked, laughed, ate a picnic lunch and picked up a lot of trash!
After we dumped our garbage, I had the opportunity to share with a neighbor what we were doing, when he saw us with our pile of garbage....again, work becomes the witness. As we were heading back to the church building, we saw another Jacob Well member on a side street sweeping and clinging up garbage that leads up the trail along Altamont street. It was so awesome to see one of our community caring for our neighborhood with her own ideas, but in harmony with the group. When I was driving back to the church building I passed three other church members cleaning up garbage around the church streets too. It was a great day of creation care and community enhancing work...I am very proud of God's people at Jacob's Well...they inspire me.

Church Garden Work Day...

Today, we had a church garden work day and thanks to a number of volunteers, we were able to get the garden fence posts set in concrete and the plot of ground raked and ready for the beds to be built.
One of the great things about doing church stuff is the ability to utilize everyones talents, skills and equipment. More hands and tools make for easier and faster work! Here is Dave (aka: Sir Mix-a-lot) making the whole cement mixing job a lot easier for the guys.
Working together creates lots of opportunity to talk, share, get to know each other and see projects go from desire, to dream, to vision, to work and then into reality. Together we discover that with God all things are possible. Working together is a witness to our culture that is fractured along so many relational lines...race, gender, age, economics, education, political and religious etc...seeing people accomplish good works together is a testimony of God among us. I saw this today, when a neighbor asked me how the community garden was coming along. As far as I know nobody in our church has relationship with this woman...but she knew about the garden. I am becoming more and more aware of how a church can become a witnessing community, simply by being a working community and that the worshipping community growing.
Seeing multiple generations working side by side; shows that church isn't built on faddish style or just being relevant. Growing genuine community is rooted in learning to work, worship and witness together. When I hear of people who have "ministries to people" but have not figured out how to share life with people among a church body...I get concerned. Ministry should be carved out of a communal witness. Gifts are seen, heard and discovered among a shared life. Ministries are like babies that are born out of a loving relationship....the relationship comes first...the children come from that.

This is a healthy context that safe guards us from individualism, ego building and short sighted actions that dont have the circumspection of multiple perspectives. A family matrix is a God designed support and scaffolding to build lives and ministries. It's harder to live together than alone, that is for sure. Community is the anvil that God uses to fashion and form His image in us. He uses the hammer of relationships to pound this out...plenty of sparks and bruises take place in this process but over time...a smooth and sharp edge emerges, and a exquisite creation is produced.

Jesus is glorified in simple people, doing simple things, with a lot of love.

Polynesian Night of Dance, Music & Food

"They shall give glory to the Lord, and shall declare his praise in the islands." -Isaiah 42:12At the invitation of John, a Hawaiian coworker of LeeElla's; we attended and enjoyed a Hula hosted by the students of Eastern Washington University. It was put on by the many students at EWU, representing Hawaii, Tahiti and Samoa and other Polynesian islands. My favorite dance of the night was the men Maori War dance. That was amazing.
There were many Hula's which leave one with no doubt why the islanders are known for their romantic and seductive was a classy sexy vs the typical urban sexy which is often...not classy. The hooting and hollering of the single Hawaiian's was testimony to their hip casting spells. It was a lot of fun. It was beautiful to see a culture that doesn't deify the fact the girls that were in need of a big mac were the ones that seemed awkward in the dances. They just didn't have anything to and bones don't giggle and swell to well!
It amazes me that so many cultures have found dance to be a beautiful and creative way to link one generation to the next, to tell story and have a healthy outlet for emotions. Americans are so uptight when it comes to movement. We have reduced this powerful form of human experience or even worship to merely a tool for seduction, a lower nature aphrodisiac. That saddens me. I love the way a teacher teaches a student and then a student becomes the teacher...its a rhythm of passage that we as a culture have less and less of. I found celebrating the ethnic beauty of these cultures, refreshing, fun and a reminder of the wonderful world we live in.

"Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him..."-Psalms 149:3

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My neighbors....

Today I was officially introduced to this little band of feathered disciples: St. Photini, Bathsheba, Rahab, St. Teresa, Tamar and St. Julian. They were an inquisitive brood and had a lot to say.

Like a weaned child....

I do not concern myself with great matters,
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
-Psalm 131:2

I am blessed to have a barely used wooded trail and urban park, to exercise, walk and enjoy and it's only a block away from my house. I often enjoy just walking these trails while listening to various biblical teachers on my iphone. It often feels like a private stroll with a mentor. I enjoy prayerfully engaging the content and letting it seep into my heart and mind as I wander this beautiful sanctuary.

Today, these two verses made up my contemplation and prayers. I found them to be deeply nourishing, as I seek to cultivate a inner life that is also disposed as a "weaned child". I find that metaphor to be perfect for naming what I sense the Lord doing in me and as a description of my own interior prayer life. No fussy, demanding cries of "feed me, feed me", no messy issues to clean up, no clingy possessiveness that is rooted in fear...just peace. Simple quiet and repose.

Inward gentleness.

It's not that I have nothing pressing, tragic or stuff that constantly demands my attention. It's not that I dont have glaring weakness that could monopolize my mind and heart...but in the face of those enemies...the Lord is teaching me to sit at a table He has prepared and that I must sit down at. It is here that I discover and gratefully ponder:

I am poor and needy;
Yet the Lord thinks upon me.
-Psalms 40:17

This poem by Mary Oliver captures these moments:

The Place I Want to Get Back To

is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let's see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they come
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts, bestowed,
can't be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named

Impressive chops...and Licks

Kids Band Recess Play Journey's "Seperate Ways" - Click here for more amazing videos

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New clip of "9" movie

Here is a great new 2 minute clip and new trailer for the upcoming Tim Burton flick "9"

Earth Day...

Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.... Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.... For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -Jesus (Luke 12:15, 23, 34)

"Given the current state of capitalism, i.e. against the ropes and almost down for the count, maybe it's time to take a long hard look at Christianity's long term love affair with capitalism as something we should perhaps get over. Early images of Christians often featured the presence of loaves and fishes--a reminder of the miracle story in the gospels, where Jesus feeds numerous people with just a few loaves and fishes. But what if that is not really a miracle story, but an economic one--the economics of sharing--enough for all because we are willing to share what we have. As a miracle story it is hard to live up to, I have trouble getting food to multiply, but there always seems to be enough to go round when we all bring stuff to the table. Maybe the way forward in this current time of economic challenge is to try a new approach to living life, one that explores more intently the benefits of marrying free-market capitalism, and perhaps lays it aside for a while as we go in search of a new economic model, one in which a central dynamic is the economics of sharing/gifting...." -Barry Taylor

Joining together to discuss and think about the impact of our ways of living on this planet is a no brainer to me. Choosing to live more purposefully, conscientiously and in a more sustainable manner on the Lord's planet, is also a no brainer to me. The actual realities of how "MY" chosen ways of life in regards to consumption, economy and the long term sustainability of that alarming. The video above is one of the best I've seen on the subject, it is well worth the effort and time to watch it all. It will give you a backdrop to the multi-angled issues that are being discussed and acted upon in the environmental conversation and works.

Caring for God's earth, being responsible and a good steward, is rooted in the ways I choose to use my wealth. How I choose to live and respond to the world as it is...and not as I pretend it to be; is one of the demanding acts of living justly as a follower of Jesus. He modeled a way of living that we should spend time exploring.

He is the WAY, as well as the truth, and embracing His way of living, promises a deep and meaningful and sustainable Life...for all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The kingdom of God is among you....

I was recently asked if we at Jacob's Well are promoting a social gospel. I explained that I do not understand any other gospel. The gospel embraces, touches, baptizes, saves, transforms and blesses all of life. God cares about your life, not just your soul. His salvation act redeems everything in His time. As a church we are seeking to live into the gospel and live out the gospel in all its fullness. Love cares about the hunger of peoples souls and the hunger of their bellies. People need to know of God's love and see and feel His love through us. All of life is sacred. It's "integrated" as Claudio Oliver shares in this video. The kingdom can be entered, experienced, retold, proclaimed, seen and heard or even felt in a bar of soap. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God had arrived for those who have eyes to see.

GLBT folks are going to hell and so are the heterosexual people shacking up with each other....???

"Peter turned around and noticed the disciple whom Jesus kept loving following them. He was the one who had put his head on Jesus' chest at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?" -John 21:20

We watched a film called 'Lord Save Us From Your Followers" and in the movie, Tony Compolo shared this story:
There was a boy in our high school named Roger. He was gay. We knew about it. We spread the word on him, and we made his life miserable. When we passed him in the hall, we would call out his name in an effeminate manner. We gestured with our hands and made him the brunt of a lot of cheap jokes. On Fridays after PE class, we would go into the showers, but Roger never went in with us. He was afraid to, and for good reason. When we came out of the showers we would take our wet towels and whip them at his little naked body. We thought that was a fun thing to do.

I wasn't there the day they took Roger, dragged him into the shower room, and shoved him into the corner. Folded up in a fetal position, in the corner of that tile room, he cried as five guys urinated all over him.

That night Roger went home and he went to bed sometime around ten o'clock. They said it was about two o'clock the next morning when he got up and went down to the basement of his house - and hung himself. When they told me, I realized I wasn't a Christian. Oh, I believed all the right stuff. I was as theologically sound as any evangelical could expect to be. I knew what I was supposed to believe and I believed it intensely, but I hadn't surrendered to the Holy Spirit. I had not yet yielded myself and allowed God's Spirit to invade me and transform me into the kind of person I ought to be. If the Holy Spirit had been in me, I would have stood up for Roger.

When the guys came to make fun of him, I would have put one arm around Roger's shoulders and waved the guys off with the other and said, "Leave him alone. He's my friend. Don't mess with him." But I was afraid to be his friend. I was afraid to stand up for Roger, because I knew that if you stand up for somebody like Roger, people will begin to say nasty things about you too. And so I kept my distance, and I failed to be the loving person that Christ wanted me to be. The work of the Holy Spirit was not evident in my life. If it had been, Roger might be alive today."

That story and the themes in the movie sparked a lot of discussion, primarily centered around how we as Christians and as a church community can show our GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, Transgendered) neighbors that we love and care about them as people. How could we know them by their "Names" instead of their "Needs or their Deeds"? Those conversations have been diverse, there have been disagreements and judgments made. The film was called "Hitler propaganda" and the fact that we were having these conversations somehow indicted us in a slide of liberalism, homosexual agenda supporting and were on the edge of becoming a "gay loving church". Needless to say...the waters have been stirred a bit.

But I was still pierced to the heart over the above story.

We have a GLBT youth center in our neighborhood. I've been floating ideas on how to serve them, reach out to them in friendship and find ways to bless them. That conversation has been a loaded one. Endorsing agendas, lifestyles and supporting their evil deeds are all the end points of most of those conversations. In the end the safe phrase that practically means nothing is..."Love the sinner but hate their sin"...which in actual theory in words but not in deeds.

Some in our group are working on a script for a film loosely based on the story Tony shared. That has been an interesting unfolding project...some people have just walked away...unwilling to even attempt to approach the subject from any other angle than...same sex=Hell and that means our role is to love them by telling them they are going to hell...because that is what the bible says. Any attempts to say that possibly the bible says some other things as met with indifference of bibilical circular reasoning.

I think this video: shares my position the best:
and I think this short video explains the challenge of the issue from an angle most people do not see it from:

I too share the conservative position on the issues...but I do not share the missional position (no pun intended) on the subject. I do not think that Jesus was gay or that John was either...though if anyone came into my communion service and saw one of my elders laying his head on my chest...I would surely incite some rumors. I'm not sure I understand the level of love that took place between David and Jonathan...I'm sure it was non-homosexual...but the complexities of environment, genetics, upbringings, birth order, religious background, culture and other issues...demand a humble approach to the conversation.

I think if I allow process in the lives of my heterosexual seekers...why can't I extend the same grace to others? If we wink at the shacking up, the sex sin and the non committal marriages and the divorces in the church...why do we hammer these folks with such intensity and visceral emotions?

Is it wrong to be a "gay loving" pastor and church?

What's the alternative.....?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Church Garden Phase One....

This Saturday we were able to get the fencing post holes dug, the cement and rocks removed from the garden plot and the ground leveled out, thanks to Zandtco Irrigation & Landscaping's generous use of their heavy equipment.
With the perimeter lined out and the fencing post holes dug; we are ready to set into place the fence posts and begin the construction of the planting beds. There was a lot of garbage, old cement and rocks in the plot of ground we are using, so they had to be hauled away.
"We're part of nature...and if we separate ourselves from that, we're separating ourselves from our history, from the the things that tie us together. We don't want to live in a world where there are no recreational fishermen, where we've lost touch with the seasons, the tides, the things that connect us to ten thousand generations of human beings that were here before there were laptops, and ultimately connect us to God." We shouldn't be worshipping nature as God, he said, but nature is the way that God communicates to us..."with such texture and forcefulness in detail and grace and joy...and when we destroy large polluting so that people can't fish, or by making so many rules that people can't get out on the water, it's the moral equivalent of tearing the last pages out of the last Bible on Earth." -Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., as quoted in Last Child in the Woods.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

K-dog is in the house!!!

A new kind of youth ministry....

"This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." Mark 4:26-29

Before we joined the Lord in the birth of a new church, Jacob's Well....we were youth pastors.

I love young people, always have, always will. There are days that I miss the craziness, the unpredictability, unending drama and sheer joyfulness of working primarily with teens. It's a wild ride but some of my most treasured memories of ministry and friendships are centered in youth ministry. Young people are open, inquisitive, willing to stretch, bored with the normal, love a challenge and charged full of God ordained, puberty inducing stupidity that makes them perfect for the life and message of the gospel...they are just dumb enough to actually believe and follow the's a youthful wisdom, we lose as we grow wiser in age.

As a new church plant, we wrestled with how youth ministry would unfold. We had a lot of ideas and we tried to "plant" those programs...and none of them "took root". Leaving this old youth dude, fairly angst'd about the situation but too overloaded with new responsibilities to take on that role as well. As a father, I was also concerned that my kids were not going to get the full meal deal of youth ministry that I had served up for everyone elses kids in years gone by. I had poured out my most energetic, zeal filled, caffeine juiced, spirit amped years on the spiritual lives and schools of the churches youth and now my kids were going to get zilch. It's was a grave cost of this new work that I didn't fully grasp until we got into it. Not to mention that pastoral challenge of figuring out the youth angle for incoming families with tweeners and ministry...usually means no stay-ey. It's a tough start up predicament. Then there is the multitudes of teenagers that roam our neighborhood...that will pang the calloused of youth workers hearts.

It's been a deep matter of prayer and desire, that continually ascends from this pastor parent's heart and soul.

But God has been faithfully at work in the night of my youth pastoring inactivity. Since my older kids had to start new schools and a new church they poured themselves into music and school. This forced a new missional opportunity...the salt got shaken out of the youth church and into youth culture. They were not able to get comfortable and cared for in a way that inoculated them from being in the world and reaching out for their own relational survival. It took "evangelism" and stripped it of its "churchy" duty and it became friendship based, natural and more engaging with teens that were not church kids.

With their music taking off, it meant we were surrounded with lots of our home, at the rock shows, at their schools. I found myself in and among the very kids my heart yearned for and I saw God at work through my kids...vs. a youth program. I discovered a way of ministry that was organic, built out of the lives of the teens instead of a structure built for the teens. It's revolutionized my thinking and its shaping my understanding of ministry in many new ways.

I find myself very glad they are playing in the city's clubs now instead of the city's youth rooms. I am deeply won over by the fruit of being outside of the church instead of chained in the sanctuary. I see, hear and experience a fresh expression of youth ministry that is more effective than many models I have perpetuated in the past. Not that I would never want a youth ministry among our youth at Jacob's Well...but it would have to be one that responded to the youth ministry that is already growing. We do not need a youth person to "start" a ministry now...we need people who will tend and cultivate what is already growing among us. That is a liberating endeavor.

Last night our church threw a fundraising show for my son's band Nothing To Gain (formerly known as: Raw Nerve). As they were shredding and the teens were dancing, laughing, screaming and basically just having the time of their lives...I saw God at work among us.
Last night I saw teens coming into a church, mingling with adults, free to be themselves and let the evening unfold as they saw fit...they danced, hung out, banged their heads, smoked, drank too much mountain dew and made a mess of our sound board and church sanctuary...and I loved it! We served their agendas..they didnt serve ours. I connected with their parents...a very rare opportunity in my past youth pastoring days; parents hardly stepped in the door of the church back then. But now, they are right there, listening, supporting and enjoying our hospitality.
I met over 10 kids that I had never met before and that I would only meet in this kind of venue. Teens that are not followers of Jesus...the kids I would want to get to know and now can, thanks to my sons love for metal, artistry and loud amps.
I got to see young people lead from their gifts and their hearts and support them, give to them and show them they matter. It's a opportunity that church planting opened up for me to do, in ways that I probably never would have otherwise. For that I am extremely grateful.

I now see that God is at work, the seeds are growing and the Spirit of God is always at work in the fields of youth culture and often in ways and places, we simply cannot see or are unwilling to go.

This old youth pastor has a lot to learn about the many ways God does youth ministry...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ancient possessions...

These photos were taken after a party, the photographer felt slightly ashamed that he might be exploiting the woman in her destituteness but the starkness of her plight won out. As he was taking the pictures, her pimps arrived and he had to hightail it inside.

The lurid nature of these pics struck me. If you have ever been involved in working with the homeless, prostitutes or seen the gutter up close and personal...this image isn't new to you. It's a horror that is hard to turn away from...and one that too many of us never see enough of. We live lives that have become desensitized or disconnected from the suffering, addicted, abused, broken and used up. We need some fresh reminders that sin is a viscous rapes, erases, steals, demands, destroys, burns up, burns out and steals souls. We need to be present in the stench, depravity, shock and grittiness of lives sacrificed on the altars of depravity. The idols of devilry still drip with crimson and blackened blood...ancient possessions that demand the slow butchering of young and old lives.
We live in a neighborhood where prostitution takes place...just yesterday, I passed a hooker and innocently glanced out my window in turning and caught eyes with the woman; she gave me one of those smiles...the kind that say I am open for business. It's fairly obvious around here...I saw another lady working the beat today...the fake shopping bags, the lingering at all the bus stops, acting like they are waiting for the bus. But the look of hard living is painfully etched in their meth drained faces. Addiction is a cruel master.

Spirit propelled and infused Christian mission is a redemptive war of King Josiah proportions...tearing down the altars in men and women's hearts, uprooting aged old temples of satanic servitude. Digging up the bones of past priests of pleasure and burning them to dust. (2 Kings 23:1-28; 2 Chronicles 34:29-35:19).

The horror though of it all, is that it's in the safe and serene places of American prosperity that we end up looking at pictures of realities that we never will attempt to engage. We grow content to let someone else rise, tear down and burn up...we've not "Found the Book" and been struck deep into the numbing core or our calloused souls. We've not ripped our garments in repentance and purged the temple of our own idolatrous hearts. Instead...we drive by, roll up the window, turn the page, click the mouse....ignoring the cries in our streets and neighborhoods.

We continue living the illusion that there are not young women laying in such vulnerable places...just center pieces for someone's voyeuristic blogish moralisms...

Defend and Plead....

This article and short photo essay broke my heart...I had to close the Mother Jones magazine in the coffee shop because I started crying when I saw the pictures. I went and bought the magazine, went home and mourned the tragedy of it all. I shared it with a couple of my kids, to help them keep their problems in perspective.

"Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. " (Proverbs 31:9).
"Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow….Your princes are rebellious, And companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, And follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, Nor does the cause of the widow come before them." (Isaiah 1:17,23, NKJV)

Batter my heart....

Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
-John Donne

Monday, April 13, 2009


These are moments that heaven will be filled with...

Easter Eggs...

It was a busy Easter week and with all the Sacred Encounter activities, it was late Saturday night before we could find some family time to paint eggs. I thought Micah would be the only one who would want to decorate..but Austin and Destiny were all in. So LeeElla got them all going, making a grand mess and making some pretty eggs. Sunday after the morning Easter breakfast at the church and the English service and the afternoon refugee service
and with the evening service cancelled...we went over to Daniel and Mellisa's house and had a easter egg hunt in their big house. It was raining outside, so we thought would do one inside with their two newly adopted girls from Ethiopia. It was classic fun, lots of laughs, candy and memories.

The Hunt for Gollum

This looks so good....and it was made with only about $6000...a film made by fans for fans...too cool. My twiginess is oh so ready for May.

Threads of Destiny...a Fan Based film

Ok, I know a bunch of my peeps are working on developing a potential film; hope this inspires...

Jesus...a hispanic man, in a black woman's body.

Our church hosted a Holy Week series of "Sacred Encounters" from Thursday to Sunday; in an attempt to "enter the story" as a community of Jesus. Each day was centered around the events of Jesus found in the gospels during His last few days. Through the use of re-imagined liturgy, we encountered and entered the story through: art, music both traditional and contemporary, video, spoken word, poetry, scripture readings, group recitation, hands on contemplative activities, crafts, food and singing.

We "encountered Jesus and each other...In the acts of foot washing, communion, candle procession, hammering nails, preparing a breakfast and eating together, serving and taking wine and bread, reciting creeds, mournful hymns, triumphant praise, deep prayer, personal prophecy and humble confession. It was a holy and sacred time...we truly encountered Jesus in profoundly old and new ways...together.

But one of the most powerful parts of the weekend for me was the presence of the unexpected guest.

The stranger.
Jesus showed up as a hispanic man, in a black woman's body....

At first I saw him sitting on the back pew, a small Hispanic man, obviously a homeless traveler. He was just quietly sitting there with a pleasant smile....just waiting, for something...someone.

It was the end of the evening's Good Friday Encounter and I saw him through the various people who were standing around. I pressed through the group and welcomed him, shook his hand and made sure to smile and make him feel wanted (something I learned from my father) You see, I am on a quest to find the hidden kingdom. I know God likes to play hide and seek. He comes unexpectedly, suddenly but oh so can often pass by, ignore, forget, disdain or fear Him.

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." -Hebrews 13:2

I thought he was an angel...I've seen his kind before. They act so nonchalant, discreet, pass-by-able...but like can start to figure out what draws them; they love to be entertained...served, cared for...but, you just can't control them. They arrive when they want never see them coming, you just discover them present and then they leave. He left that night, better clothed than he arrived...oh, and he left his socks in the bathroom. Angels wear socks, black ones in fact...I didn't know that?

Did you know Angles are hungry, talk to themselves and like two Pepsi's instead of one? I didn't either. I was sitting there eating a feast of asian food prepared by our refugee friends in our community resource center on Sunday afternoon. The place was packed with 95% carmel colored beauties and we were clear on the other side of the room, away from the door.

In comes big mama. Bags, coats, hats and a whole lot of black woman to know, the kind that you hug their boobs way before they ever get their arms around you? There she stood, fanagling her way into a room full of people speaking another language. She was looking for someone...and then she found him.

We got each other's eyes. She smiled big and had that look of "Oh there he is"...she bumbled on over through, with the little people in her wake. She was completely unfazed, determined and on a mission.

"Can I eat something?" she asked.

"Of course, do you want to take it with you are sit down and eat with us?" we said.

She sat down across from us. After getting a Karen sized serving of everything, times two...she proceeded to eat, drink, talk to her invisible friends, pray and smile and then laugh unexpectedly.

The look on Sarah's face, our Ethiopian teenager friend, who was sitting next to her...was priceless. This angel was quite a heavenly manifestation.

She ate for awhile and then said she had to catch a bus....of course you do, I thought...all angels ride the bus...and off she went in a huff of mumbles, giggles and a plate with a roll on it.

As I sat here this morning...I remembered what I preached yesterday:

"Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight."-Lk 24:31

In a flash of revelation, I realized we were not visited by Angels...but the Lord.
"Come, you, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you invited me in: Naked, and you clothed me..."Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed You? or thirsty, and gave you drink? When did we see you as a stranger and took You in? or naked, and clothed You?"And the King shall answer and say to them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Vanishing Jesus...sometimes He is right in front of you and you don't even realize it, until He is gone. Next time, I am going to grab Him and hug Him like I've always wished I could.

But....I imagine, I won't recognize Him again....but maybe I will, I hope so.

(cafe pic: Lena Koller and sketch by Ami)