Sunday, May 31, 2009
Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you. - Deuteronomy 16:20
A new report by the Global Humanitarian Forum states that climate change is responsible for killing 300,000 people per year, as reported to the United Nations this week. In addition to these deaths, hundreds of thousands of additional refugees are forced to migrate from their homes as those lands become uninhabitable, causing great disruption, violence, instability, and suffering.
The worst part? 99% of those deaths occur in developing nations which contribute less than 1% of our world's annual carbon emissions.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Here’s just a few tentative and preliminary suggestions.
Jesus wasn’t building an institution or an organization, but an efficient, flexible movement with the Gospel at the center and grace as the fuel.
The church Jesus left in history was more a “band of brothers (and sisters)” than an organization of programs and buildings.
The message at the heart of all Jesus said and did was the Kingdom of God, which implicitly included himself as King and the status of all the world as rebels in need of forgiveness and surrender.
The movement Jesus’ left behind was made up of the last, the lost, the least, the losers and the recently dead. The world would never recognize this Jesus shaped collection of nobodies as successful.
Jesus treated women, sexual sinners and notoriously scandalous sinners with inexplicable acceptance.
Jesus taught the message, power and presence of the Kingdom. He did not teach how to be rich, how to improve yourself, how to be a good person or how to be successful.
Jesus didn’t teach principles. He taught the presence of a whole new world where God reigns and all things are made right.
Jesus rejected the claims of organized religion to have an exclusive franchise on God, and embodied the proof that God was in the world by his Son and through his Spirit to whomever has faith in Jesus.
Jesus practiced radical acceptance in a way that was dangerous, upsetting and world-changing.
Jesus calls all persons to follow him as disciples in the Kingdom of God. This invitation doesn’t look identical to the experiences of the apostles, but the claims and commands of Jesus to his apostles extend to all Jesus-followers anywhere.
God is revealed in Jesus in a unique way. What God has to show us and to say to us is there in Jesus of Nazareth. All the fullness of God lives in him, and to be united to Jesus by faith is to have the fullness of all God’s promises and blessings.
Jesus didn’t talk much about how to get to heaven, and certainly never gave a “gospel presentation” like today’s evangelicals. Nor did he teach that any organization of earth controlled who goes to heaven.
Jesus never fought the culture war.
Jesus was political because the Kingdom of God is here now, but he was the opposite of the political mindset of his time as expressed in various parties and sects.
Jesus was radically simple in his spirituality.
Jesus was radically simple in his worship.
Jesus wasn’t an advocate of family values as much as he was a cause of family division.
Jesus fulfills the old testament scriptures completely, and they can not be rightly understood without him as their ultimate focus.
The only people Jesus was ever angry at was the clergy. He called out clergy corruption and demanded honesty and integrity from those who claimed to speak for God and lead his people.
Jesus embraced slavery and servanthood as the primary identifiers of the leaders of his movement.
Jesus didn’t waste his time with religious and doctrinal debates. He always moves to the heart of the matter. Love God, Love Neighbor, Live the Kingdom.
Jesus expected his disciples to get it, and was frustrated when they didn’t.
Jesus died for being a true revolutionary, proclaiming a Kingdom whose foundations are the City of God.
Does this sound like Jesus as you’ve encountered him in evangelicalism?
That’s the sound of tables turning over.
That’s the taste of a real grape, not the Kool-Aid.
That’s why so many Christians aren’t like Jesus.
They have no idea what he was really all about.
From Sojo blog.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Lately I've been having this problem articulating. I do things that are weird sometimes, and people ask about them, and I really am drawing a blank about how to explain. This is really hard for me to grapple with, because I am rarely at a loss for words. But lately, I'm failing to explain myself.
Sometimes, the answer would take a half hour, and I'm consciously trying to avoid my terrible penchant for soapboxing. Sometimes, I've never explained "why" before, so I don't know how to organize my thoughts (further proof that being in the Bible Belt is dangerous to my faith - hardly anybody ever disagrees with me about anything that really matters). Sometimes, it's personal, or controversial, and I just don't want to get into it- I just want to keep it light. I don't want to be another embarassing mouthpiece acting like the morality police, or adding to your Jesus Checklist ("God will love me if I a, b, and c").
I'm talking about things like, why don't I eat beef much anymore? Why does trash matter? Why do I need to go far away to help people- aren't there lots of people needing help nearby? Why we use a cash budget, why I've stopped buying entirely, why I'll never own an SUV, why I want to live in a rough school district, why I don't want Christmas presents, or why I will one day adopt a child who doesn't look like me with no preconditions.
I think I found the answer. In someone else's blog. It was an article about loving your neighbor, and what that means. I think that's the real, core explanation for all of those things. I've been convinced that Jesus knows the best way to live, and that he is serious about me loving my neighbor, so I'm really trying hard to figure out a way to do that in my decisions, large and small. That's the overarching "reason why". I don't want to do things that hurt people, anywhere, even if I am so far away that I'll never see it in person. I'm not any sort of expert, and I'm not exactly sure I'm doing this right, but I'm really trying, and that's why I'm doing things that are weird.
Sojo always finds hidden treasures:
Why do you make me see
wrongdoing and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous–
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.
- Habakkuk 1:3-4
We all know I am a huge Matt Chandler fan:
I love the God of the Bible. He is weighty, glorious, powerful, terrifying, sovereign, beautiful and big. Over the last 15 years I have had to wrestle quite a bit with a good portion of God’s self-disclosure. The Truth and truths unpacked in those 66 books are thick, beautiful, difficult and life altering. The scriptures truly are “profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and the training in righteousness so that we might be competent and equipped for every good work.” The question I want to try to answer in this post is “Does it matter how we go about doing all of that teaching, reproving, correcting and training?” Absolutely it does!
There is a big difference between shepherding people to truth and wielding it over others. I have been grieved lately with people whose doctrine is correct but whose methodology in engaging others with those beautiful truths has been nothing short of wicked. Let me explain the difference between shepherding to truth and wielding truth as a blunt force tool. In 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Paul, coaching Timothy through the Ephesian Controversy, says “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
Read more at Matt's blog.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Armchairs around a pedestal table? Dream. Plus, the cranberry fabric.
K-k-k-k is my letter.
What a way to spend a summer afternoon. And under a weeping willow, no less...
I've had a special interest in wall paneling for architectual interest lately....
As well as black walls in a bedroom....
And wide, rough-hewn wood plans, on the floor or the wall.
And we are aware of the glaring contradictions – that the U.S. continues to try to be a credible voice for peace while maintaining the largest weapons arsenal in the world, with a military budget larger than the combined military budgets of the next 30 countries…
We are convinced that Dr.King was right when he said, “A country that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching a spiritual death.”
Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.- 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Want to know what it's like to be a mom on Capitol Hill? What a fascinating article. Motherhood in Congress!
But not all emergencies are equal and what is occurring in east Africa
demands urgent response. John Prendergast of the Enough Project describes
it this way:
“The two hornet’s nests are two central African militias that most
Americans have never heard of: the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, and the
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known as the FDLR.
For over 15 years, these militias have committed some of the world’s worst human rights abuses with near total impunity for their actions. The LRA is a Ugandan militia specializing in the abduction of children to be used as soldiers and sex slaves.
The FDLR, whose leadership contains some of those responsible for Rwanda’s
genocide in 1994, uses mass rape as its war tactic of choice.”
A recent journalist arriving home called Congo “one of the world’s most
complicated countries.” There are moments when the sheer size makes us want to
tuck our tails and give up. A country the size of Western Europe. 5.6
million dead. 70% of the world’s rapes. 68 million people and over
300 languages. Nearly 2000 dying every.single.day. With so much we
are often left wondering where to even begin.
In September 1989 a small group of people held a protest rally in Leipzig,
East Germany. The very next day the neighboring town held their own
protest. The small action rippled through the country with explosive
momentum until only a month later 1,000,000 people gathered for one of the great
protests of all time. Together they tore down, some with their bare hands,
the Berlin Wall.
On November 21 2004, Ukraine held a presidential election amidst an
extremely corrupt and charged political culture. The results came back and
despite exit poles putting the peoples candidate 11% ahead, the candidate of the
ruling party had won by 3%. Knowing they had been cheated from justice,
individuals across the country stood up and began to walk to the capital city.
Without a history of peaceful protest, most of the people had never participated
in a political event – and yet, on November 23 they marched with over 500,000
They were named the Orange Jackets for the orange raincoats they were
given by aid agencies and for an entire month these people slept outside in the
rain and snow. Purposefully and peacefully, so-called ordinary citizens
simply…waited. And then, on December 26, there was a re-vote. And fifteen days
later the people won their victory. Justice was served and freedom was
I want to embody Jesus like the Peacetree Community in Australia.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things - the beauty, the memory of our past - are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have not visited.
Clive Staples Lewis, The Weight of Glory.
from Words and Phrases
When I hear the phrase "the high country", and think of our ache and nostalgia for "a country we have not visited", I think of this scene....a far green country and a swift sunrise.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Beyond the testimony of Scripture, a glimpse at the state of global Christianity shows that many of the places where the faith is growing most rapidly are also where it lacks a privileged position. China may be the most vivid example, or among the Dalit (Untouchables) of India.
For those church leaders that have great concern over the “decline” of Christianity in America and the lack of genuine discipleship, I believe The Divine Commodity [Skye's new book] carries a message of enduring hope. God may be simply refining his church and burning away the cultural dross that we’ve acquired from our wandering in the Constantinian wilderness.
This refining may be painful as we lose institutions, facilities, and even some previously impactful ministries. But in the end I have great confidence that Christ’s Church, even in America, will prevail and disciple will be made. For when we are weak, then we are strong.
(via Skye Jethani on Alan Hirsh's blog, "Shapevine")
My friend David has embarked on an experiment. He is buying nothing new in 2009. Nothing at all, except food, basic toiletries (toothpaste, etc) and books (he is in grad school). His recent journal entry chronicles how it has gone for him, and why.
He references the video Story of Stuff, which I first watched about a year ago (thank you Satterlee) and it totally changed my life forever.
I haven't been on a 100% "consumerism fast" as he calls it, but I have made a real attempt to stop buying this spring for several reasons. It's crazy in our culture- just to stop. buying. period. But it has been really good for me, spiritually.
New Council Voices Goals
May 5, 2009
By Analiz GonzÃlez Schremmer
The Buckner Voice Council, a group in their 20s and 30s, announced their goal to recruit 1,000 new Voice donors in 2009.
Voice donors commit to donating at least $25 a month to support Buckner programs.
David Slover, executive vice president of the Buckner Foundation, said that the Voice Council was set up to increase the ranks of a younger age group.
"We want to be able to reach out to a new generation who wants to connect with children and elders. Council members can connect with their peers through social networking sites and one-on-one interactions. We want young people to know that even though they might not be able to make very large donations, their donation of $25 dollars a month can change a life. And they can impact more lives by getting other people to make donations as well."
He added that Buckner is excited about the energy and creative ideas that will come from this group.
Margaret Elizabeth Perry, who serves as chair for the Voice Council, said her life was altered by the people she has served through Buckner.
"I am exhilarated by the idea of sharing the names and stories of children I have met with my fellow 'millenials' and urging them to partner with Buckner to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves [to] defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9), she said.
Read the full story at http://www.buckner.org/enews/index.php/2009/05/new-council-voices-goals/.
This weekend was fabulous. Great food, great friends, great book, and beautiful Arizona scenery. I never knew that Arizona was beautiful. Headed to dinner.
Friday, May 1, 2009
A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
Everyone has a theology; a view of God that pervades their thinking, acting and being. The religious moralist has a theology which understands God to be a cosmic policeman whose aim is to catch lawbreakers, reward the good and punish the bad. The atheist thinks, acts and is according to their belief that there is no god. Ultimately, they will either become their own gods or will bow down and serve the god of humanistic philosophy. The deist understands God to be aloof and distant, thus they will live in accordance with this theology. The deist has a mixture of theism and atheism, i.e. God exists (theism) and God is not involved (atheism). The end result is agnosticism. Everyone has a theology that affects their thinking, acting and being. You. Me. Everyone.
(Found via Josh Patterson at Dwell Deep)
For a laugh, please peruse at your leisure:
I'm heading off for a little reunion with college dear ones who are flung to the far winds. Hiking, some tasty wine, long dinners, sunshine-intensive poolside time, old friends- sounds like the perfect remedy for frozen lunches and public transportation.
Those who cannot make it will be sorely missed. It will not be the same without you.