Saturday, December 17, 2011

No Excuses

So often we go through life with such a narrow focus that kingdom opportunities are missed. Once in a while it's good to be shaken from our sheltered slumber and awakened to the dire needs of our fellow man; here where we live or other places around the world. This week ABC World News recapped on several humanitarian stories covered this past year and shared how many compassionate viewers got involved to make a difference in the lives of numerous struggling individuals. CNN just introduced their top ten "Hero's" (submitted and voted on by viewers) for 2011 and provided their "Hero of the Year" substantial finances to support her passion to help others. As I listened to the stories of struggles, tragedies, and triumph, I asked myself why I'd never known about the plight of so many people in need. Why did I allow myself to be so isolated and uncaring? A changed life should be about what we are commanded to do ~ "See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God." (Micah 6:8 CEV) Once something hits hard at your heart (a prompting by the Holy Spirit), start right then and make a change for eternity. If you let time pass, it won't take long to convince yourself not to do anything. Let's not make excuses but become examples for others to follow and see Jesus! Do something now!

video

Thursday, September 15, 2011

For or Against

Defining ourselves by what we are against rather than what we are for is a seductive and often destructive practice. - from Becoming Fire

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Appetites

I was listening to a talk by Andy Stanley a while back. He was talking about appetites. He gave the following truths about appetites. I think he was dead on with his observations.

1. God created them and sin distorted them.

2. Appetites are never fully and finally satisfied.

3. Appetites always whisper now, and not later.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Worship with a Hummingbird!

I’m patiently waiting and then I hear it. The sound of its wings beating so fast it takes my breath away. We are eye-to-eye checking each other out to make sure it’s safe. It’s close enough to my hand that, although it isn’t touching me, I can feel its wings. As I watch it drink of the red, sweet liquid, I’m awestruck by the nectar dripping off its beak and the close proximity. And then the moment is a memory. As it flies away, I whisper, “Come back! You’re safe with me.” Isn’t it just like God to remind me of that! I worship and delight in Him for his sweet gift of a hummingbird!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Being vs. Doing

"The true expression of Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not just good human characteristics. God's life in us expresses itself as God's life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian's life is that the supernatural becomes natural in him as a result of the grace of God, and the experience of this becomes evident in the practical, everyday details of life."

-from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Facts of Fiction

"Child Killer Shirley heard voices of defeat. Suddenly he felt himself growing stronger. He turned toward the Third Heaven angel that was opposing him and spit death into his eyes. Blinded, the angel continued swinging his weapon, but the child killer laughed and stole away. He could always count on the soft ones -- they were always judging by their feelings. No feeling, no prayer -- he looked at the blinded angel still flailing with his blade -- no prayer, no power. The light was dimming around him, so he turned his good eye to see the soft one. She didn't know the power of her negative words -- power that was strengthening the attack against her mother. He nodded at her. He loved the unknowing allies -- the doubting people -- best." -- from Riding through Shadows by Sharon Foster

I just finished this fiction book that has fiercely reminded me of crucially important truths: we live each moment in a spiritual battle, the tongue holds the power of life and death, the importance of praying without ceasing and never forgetting that "the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

This Morning

I enjoyed our time today visiting our homeless friends. It's very different not going to the camps, but that is okay. Different does not mean bad, it means different. I like having the extended times for visitation, and getting to know everyone.

Highlights for me today were:

  • Seeing toothless Terry and his wheelchair, and hearing he will soon be receiving his prostetic half-leg
  • Seeing Lorie back with us
  • Seeing some of the ones with new homes looking refreshed
Not-so-much highlights for me today were:

  • Finding out that Roy was in the hospital with congestive heart failure. Lord, please restore and heal him, and bring him back to us.
  • MIA's - Jason, Donnie, all from Raymond's camp, Battle, Evelyn, Carl
All in all, it was a good time feeding and visiting with Jesus. There is no such thing as a typical Saturday morning. They are new every time. God is faithful to provide and sustain our friends.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Passionate Reflection

I found out this week my primary personality trigger is Passion. I was happy to find this out. Passionate expression is when I am most successful in getting my message across. I want to further His message? I know He doesn’t need assistance. He would prefer I do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Him. When I do that with passion, His kingdom comes to the neighborhood. When Christ comes to the neighborhood things change. He wired me this way for a purpose. I must allow Him to shine His light upon me daily, that I might reflect it upon this broken neighborhood He has me in.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Serpentitus

I've been told that I have "serpentitus"! What in the world is that, you ask...it's not even a real word! That may be true, but I do have it and maybe you do too...

I enjoy running on trails. Lately I've discovered the wonderful levy tops that meander along the river. What a great way to enjoy the beauty of nature. One problem is that they don't get mowed down too often.  When that happens there's always the potential of coming across a "snake in the grass". If the snake can be seen in advance, it can be avoided and does not cause much alarm. When you can't see it and actually step on one while running, pandemonium breaks out!

After an encounter like that, you become more focused on avoiding a repeat occurrence. To do that, your steps are a bit higher and there are several quick jumps left and right to avoid anything resembling a sneaky serpent (curved sticks, coated wire, rope, etc...)! The once enjoyable journey is now a fear focused frolic that expends tons of energy on needless things ~ SERPENTITUS!

Perhaps it's just me, but I realized how often I live life that way too! Instead of enjoying the beauty of The Creator along the journey I focus on the probability of being surprised by the Serpent.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Feeling "whipped"? ~ Rejoice!

It's easy to become discouraged, disillusioned, and depressed when carrying the name of Jesus into the world, only to be beaten down and mocked for it. We are not alone! It's the norm for those who know Him and are motivated by passionate love to serve Him and proclaim the Name above all other Names among the nations! It is a GREAT privilege to be counted so worthy that we would be dishonored because of Jesus! This is a marathon journey. Hang in there. Take a moment to regroup; focus on Jesus Christ and what He has given you to do in bringing His love to the world. Drink a deep refreshing drink from the well that never runs dry. Face towards the goal and press on! We must learn to rejoice in the sufferings of Christ and rejoice ALWAYS in Him!

Let these words be an encouragement for you today. After a miraculous exit from jail the night before, the apostles are back in the Temple court teaching again after being told not to...

Acts 5:29-42 (MSG) 
Peter and the apostles answered, "It's necessary to obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, the One you killed by hanging him on a cross. God set him on high at his side, Prince and Savior, to give Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven. And we are witnesses to these things. The Holy Spirit, whom God gives to those who obey him, corroborates every detail."

When they heard that, they were furious and wanted to kill them on the spot. But one of the council members stood up, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a teacher of God's Law who was honored by everyone. He ordered the men taken out of the room for a short time, then said, "Fellow Israelites, be careful what you do to these men. Not long ago Theudas made something of a splash, claiming to be somebody, and got about four hundred men to join him. He was killed, his followers dispersed, and nothing came of it. A little later, at the time of the census, Judas the Galilean appeared and acquired a following. He also fizzled out and the people following him were scattered to the four winds. "So I am telling you: Hands off these men! Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it-and you better not be found fighting against God!"

That convinced them. They called the apostles back in. After giving them a thorough whipping, they warned them not to speak in Jesus' name and sent them off. The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name. Every day they were in the Temple and homes, teaching and preaching Christ Jesus, not letting up for a minute.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Day at A Time

Wow! Has it really been 3 weeks since anything was posted? Where did the fire and passion go? I think we sometimes just have to sit back and let things settle a bit. It's not all bad. I know we all have intentions to be catalysts in our neighbor. Sometimes it's hard to realize that we really are making a difference right here and right now. Don't allow the "Liar" to get to you with his lies about how little you are making a difference. We should just take it one day at a time, just as our Jesus did. He was never in a huge hurry to change the whole world, and yet, He changed the world by seeing and fulfilling needs one at a time. Be encouraged and be of great courage my fellow OR's.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mary Oliver's Poem "Praying"

It doesn’t have to be

The blue iris, it could be

Weeds in a vacant lot, or a few

Small stones; just

Pay attention, then patch

A few words together and don’t try

To make them elaborate, this isn’t

A contest but the doorway

Into thanks, and a silence in which

Another voice may speak.

A Gospel Jesus Would Preach

“A church that doesn’t provoke any crises, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed – what gospel is this?” - Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador

Sunday, June 12, 2011

You're The Message!

I was reading in Paul’s first letter to the Christ followers at Thessalonica this morning. A couple of things jumped off the page at me. These followers were living out their faith with convictions of “steel”, which was put there by the Holy Spirit. I think that is very cool. I like the fact that God in us gives us that kind of strength and resolve to live our faith boldly in a society who for the most part does not get it. A conviction of steel would be difficult to break or destroy. It is very hard and does not give very much. With that, we can go boldly in the directions He leads us, knowing nothing is going to break us. I take comfort in that.

The second thing that I observed was the idea of the living message. In the first chapter, Paul tells these guys that he doesn’t even have to witness about this group anymore because they are living out their faith so powerfully that they have become the message (the gospel). They are the good news in their communities just by how they live their lives. The word is out. These guys are living out the love of Jesus daily, and that kind of living radiates outward from us, and spreads to others. What the others do with it is another topic. Our takeaway is to “be the message”.

So, how about it my brothers and sisters? How are we doing this day? Do we feel and believe with our convictions of steel? Are we running hard after Jesus? Do those around us sense and observe the living message in our lives?

Happy Sunday! Be the living message today, with your Holy Spirit created convictions of steel! Live Love Loud.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

THOU MUST SMILE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY UNTIL IT SURRENDERS.

You are wiser than most, once you realize that adversity is never the permanent condition of man. And yet this wisdom alone is not sufficient. Adversity and failure can destroy you while you wait patiently for your fortune to change. Deal with them in only one way.
Welcome them both, with open arms!
Since this injunction goes against all logic or reason, it is the most difficult to understand or master.
Let the tears you shed, over your misfortunes, cleanse thine eyes so that ye might see the truth. Realize that he who wrestles with you always strengthens your nerves and sharpens your skills. Your antagonist is always, in the end, your best helper.
Adversity is the rain in your life, cold, comfortless, and unfriendly. Yet from that season are born the lily, the rose, the date, and the pomegranate. Who can tell what great things you will bring forth after you have been parched by the heat of tribulation and drenched by the rains of affliction? Even the dessert blooms after a storm.
Adversity is also your greatest teacher. You will learn little from your victories but when you are pushed, tormented and defeated you will acquire great knowledge, for only then you will become acquainted with your true self since you are free, at last, from those who flatter thee. And who are your friends? When adversity engulfs you is the best time to count on them.
Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment.
- Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Make Way Partners ~ Romanian Update

Injustice for Trafficking Victims at Houses of Treasure
If you read my blog last week, you know the Romanian government is harassing our indigenous director, Iana Matei.

Make Way Partners’ Field Coordinator, Matt McGowen, and an expert Romanian attorney stood at her side as she appeared in court today. I’ve spent a couple of hours on the phone with Matt today hearing live reports.

The first thing I want to tell you is that Matt is so encouraged by the progress that Iana is making with all the girls at House of Treasure. Matt said, “Although each girl feels the pressure of such a difficult time, the healing in the girls is evident. They are sharing in responsibilities around the house, meal preparation, and even encouraging one another.”

Esther (not her real name) is a shining star at House of Treasure. She survived a brutal attack last year, and suffered deeply from fear and low self esteem, but after so much time with us, Matt said, “Now she is confident and taking true leadership among the girls.”

With that kind of beautiful healing taking place at House of Treasure, it was painful to hear Matt’s first words as he reported from the courtroom, “It was a rough day.”

We arrived at 8 am only to be told, “Your hearing’s cancelled.”

Natasha’s mother dropped the charges. And while, at first, that seemed to be good news, chaos ensued as we learned it was simply a manipulative ploy staged by her attorney to get what she wanted.

Part of what incited Natasha’s mother was the fact that child protection services (cps) had been conducting an investigation into her fitness as a mother. She’d played a hand in Natasha’s trafficking. Natasha has younger siblings still living at home, and cps had been considering removing them from the home for their own protection.

One of the best tactics to draw attention from herself, was of course, to point the finger at Iana. During the weeks of investigation preceding the hearings, Natasha was supposed to be under the direct care and supervision of cps. However, they let her run wild, coming and going as she—or her mother—pleased.

Having unmonitored access to Natasha during the investigation, her mother orchestrated media events where they told many negative stories about cps. The media made a negative production regarding cps. The result: cps not only quit their investigation of Natasha’s mother, but actually testified to her credit.

Matt and Iana both read court documents revealing that Natasha had submitted testimony that she did not want to be returned to her mother, and that she did want to stay at House of Treasure, with Iana. But, the Judge wouldn’t allow the documents to be read in court, or for Matt and Iana to keep a copy. The judge deliberately withheld vital information.

Natasha has severe mental and emotional damage, possibly psychotic, from all of her abuse and trafficking, so Iana was not petitioning for Natasha to return to House of Treasure, but rather, for her—and the other girls’ protection—to be placed in a psychiatric hospital. Although Iana is a psychologist, the judge would not hear Iana’s testimony.

Natasha has turned extremely violent, which is not uncommon for young children who have suffered such extreme violence. While cps allowed her to run free, she went to the school where the other girls from House of Treasure attend, telling them, “My mother’s gypsy friends are going to show up at school and rape you all.” Again, the judged barred Iana’s testimony from the courtroom.

Matt said, “If I hadn’t seen it myself, I would never believe what I am about to tell you…”

The judge’s decision: since the charges against Iana were dropped and cps now gives a glowing report on Natasha’s mother, she gave Natasha back over to the mother.

Iana’s lawyer came prepared. He read directly from a Romanian book of law, sighting how the judgment was illegal under Romanian law, and sighting that due process—according to their own law—had not been followed.

The judge slammed down her gavel while hysterically screaming at Iana’s attorney, “Shut up and sit down. You cannot read that [Romanian book of law] in my courtroom!”

While neither Iana nor her attorney could speak, the judge allowed others to stand, testifying that Iana beat the girls and forced them to make child pornography movies. Iana was not allowed to testify about this, and when her attorney objected, the judge screamed at him to shut up and sit down.

Today is not only an injustice for a very sick and hurting child (Natasha) but also a huge gap through which Iana and the entire House of Treasure could fall.

As you can imagine, Iana is very discouraged. Matt is by her side, but they both need your prayers for wisdom, strength, and encouragement.

We face another hearing on Friday, and I will let you know as soon as I know anything at all.

In the meantime, we are not only praying, but also talking through lessons learned, strategies to take, and receiving much wise counsel from professionals.

We rest in the Arms of the Great Defender of children—our Father, our God—Who is moved by your prayers.

Love, your sister along the journey,

k

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Love the Poor

Francis de Sales, a sixteenth-century bishop in France, wrote, "Love the poor and love poverty, for it is by such love that we become truly poor. As the Scripture says, we become like the things we love. If you love the poor you will share their poverty and be poor like them. If you love the poor be often with them. Be glad to see them in your own home and to visit with them in theirs. Be glad to talk to them and be pleased to have them near you in church, on the street, and elsewhere. Be poor in conversing with them and speak to them as their companions do, but be rich in assisting them by sharing some of your more abundant goods with them."

Blood Water Missions

JARS OF CLAY CELEBRATES 1000 WELLS!
To be clear, they're actually celebrating 1000 African communities who now have access to clean water thanks to the work of Blood Water Mission (BWM). Although Jars founded BWM ten years ago, they're very clear about who's receiving the accolades for this accomplishment. "We're celebrating the Africans who are really our heroes and celebrating the Americans who have overcome the apathy," says Dan Haseltine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Responding to the death of an enemy

"I have mixed feelings regarding the death of bin Laden. He was my enemy whom I love. I cried while watching the President’s disclosure and the subsequent dancing in the streets. It was not a cry of joy, but of sorrow and complexity. Early today, I was reminded of a Bible verse: “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble” (Proverbs 24:17)." ~ John Harris

John Harris is an evangelical Christian, educator, and international activist. He gives tours of charismatic Christianity in Palestine with the group Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice, and works in Palestine each summer with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Comfortably Numb

"It came to me that each of us is "touched" by the mob of life every day. It's just that we're so focused on checking things off our to-do list, or chasing hard after the American Dream, that our spiritual skin has grown numb. We're spiritually anesthetized, so we can't feel that "touch". - K. Smith, Make Way Partners

What About Now?

"It is often difficult to engage Christians on the examined life because we're comfortable in the knowledge of our Father's love and the promise of heaven. But what about now? What's the point of being here - on this earth - now? Not in general, but specifically what's the point of my life? Yours? Ours, as a community?" - Kimberly Smith, MWP Newsletter March 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How then shall we love...?

Excerpt from Donald Miller's blog 4 May 2011

"When we meditate on how much God loves us instead of on how loving we are, we tend to love others selflessly out of a feeling of completion, while if we meditate on how much we love others in order to get them to love us back, we love others out of a sense of compulsion or need. The same is true for our righteousness. When we think about how good we are, we may no longer be good. Instead, we can think about how good God is, and how much we are loved by Him, and then just live in the overflow of those truths. It’s tricky, but one is a prison and the other is freedom."

..."The best thing I can do to love my friends is to think about and live within the truth that God loves me. This is the only way I can live and love without expecting a return on my investment. The real love will happen naturally once I understand my need is met. I don’t have to think about my motives at all."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are we supposed to be comfortable?

"There goes God again, not allowing me to live in the comfort zone of my little box." - Compassion Quote

Friday, April 22, 2011

How then do we live...

"At the end of your life, you will answer to God for what He has asked you to do in your life - not for what others wanted you to do."   ~  Louie Giglio

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Scheming Swindlers

"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament."
~ Soren Kierkegaard

Shane's Letter to the IRS


by Shane Claiborne Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

As a Christian, Easter marks the most stunning act of grace and enemy-love in human history – Jesus’ death and resurrection. As Jesus was being tortured and executed, he cried out for mercy, even for those terrorists who hurt him. As his buddy Peter picked up a sword and cut the ear off one of the persecutors, Jesus scolded Peter and picked up the ear and healed the wounded persecutor.
The early Christians understood the message – it was a message of Amazing Grace. It was a message about how there is something worth dying for, but nothing in the world worth killing for – not even freedom or democracy. One of the early Christians said, “When Jesus disarmed Peter he disarmed every Christian.” After all, we don’t see Christians picking up swords again for hundreds of years.
I am one of those Christians who believe we should still have the right NOT to kill, even in an empire that has a military bigger than Rome’s. Perhaps that’s why it has been hard for me to navigate what to do as tax season approaches, with so much of our federal tax money going towards militarism. It was a crisis familiar to the early Christians who were accused of insurrection and tax evasion because they had an allegiance that subverted, or super-ceded, their national allegiance.
So I respectfully filed my taxes this year, and I sent the IRS the little letter below. My intention is to respect my country and contribute to the common good… but also to uncompromisingly follow the way of the nonviolent Jesus this Easter — in a world that continues to pick up the sword… and die by the sword.
Dear Internal Revenue Service,
I am filing my 1040 here. As you will see, I made $9600 this past year, and found that according to the 1040 form, I owe $324.44 of that to federal taxes. While I am glad to contribute money to the common good and towards things that promote life and dignity, especially for the poor and most vulnerable people among us, I am deeply concerned that 30 percent of the federal budget goes towards military spending, with 117 billion going to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Further, when we include the 18% that goes towards past military costs, such as the 380 billion in debt payments, 80% of which are military related debts, that number goes up to a total military budget of 1,372 billion dollars — nearly half of the federal budget). My Christian faith and my human conscience require me to respectfully reserve the right not to kill, and to refrain from contributing money towards weapons and the military.
For this reason, I am enclosing a check for $227.11, which is, according to the form, 70% of what I owe. The remaining $97.33 represents 30% of my tax payment, the amount that would go towards military spending. I will donate this remaining 30% to a recognized US nonprofit organization working to bring peace and reconciliation. My faith also compels me to submit to the governing authorities, which is why I am writing you respectfully and transparently here. I am glad to discuss this further if you have any questions. I can be reached by phone at 215 423-3598 or by mail at 1838 E. Allegheny Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19134.
May we continue to build the world we dream of.
–Shane Claiborne
—-
Shane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker, activist, and founding member of the Simple Way. He is one of the compilers of Common Prayer, a new resource to unite people in prayer and action. Shane is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borderswhich creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world.

Do I Deny the Resurrection?


by Hugh Hollowell Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Occasionally I get emails demanding to know my stance on a particular piece of “historic orthodoxy”. People wonder about my view of hell, or who I think Jesus was or if I think there will be a second coming. Since the controversy over Rob Bell’s latest book (which happens to have the same name as our ministryhttp://lovewins.info/), this has only increased.
To tell you the truth, I think it is a bit funny. After all, I run a ministry for homeless people. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to ask my views on homelessness? But I digress…
So, to answer the title of this entry – do I deny the resurrection of Christ?
I can do no better than to quote Peter Rollins http://peterrollins.net/?p=136 on the subject.
Without equivocation or hesitation I fully and completely admit that I deny the resurrection of Christ. This is something that anyone who knows me could tell you, and I am not afraid to say it publicly, no matter what some people may think…
I deny the resurrection of Christ every time I do not serve at the feet of the oppressed, each day that I turn my back on the poor; I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of the downtrodden and lend my support to an unjust and corrupt system.
However there are moments when I affirm that resurrection, few and far between as they are. I affirm it when I stand up for those who are forced to live on their knees, when I speak for those who have had their tongues torn out, when I cry for those who have no more tears left to shed.
As you might expect, this does not calm the questioners down. They accuse me of not understanding the question. I understand the question perfectly well. I think they are the ones who do not know what they are asking.
So let me be even more clear:
The ancient story is that the most powerful government the world had ever known, Rome, had done the worst thing it could imagine to this man Jesus. They beat him and killed him by the most brutal means at their disposal. Yet and still, the last words on his lips are reported to be his asking God to forgive his killers. On that Friday, the powers of the world said “No” to Jesus and the Kingdom of God he was preaching. If the tomb was empty on that Sunday morning long ago, that was God’s “Yes” to Rome’s “No”. If the tomb was empty, then love overcame power and vindicated Jesus. It means that Jesus was right – the Kingdom of God is at hand, and we are invited to live in it.
If I swear allegiance to this Kingdom, where apparently the dream of God is that it be on Earth as it is in Heaven, then that has implications for how I live. If I pledge allegiance to the USA, it means I should not sell secrets to China. If I pledge allegiance to the Kingdom of God, then I cannot see how I can lend aid and support to the powers that oppose it, such as consumerism, militarism, class disparity and xenophobia.
If I act hateful, or in fact, less than loving to my neighbor, I have denied the resurrection just as surely as my selling state secrets to China denies my allegiance to the USA. I can wave a flag all day, but if I am acting against my country, you can hardly call me a patriot. And I can believe whatever you want about what happened that Sunday morning, but if I am not using what power I have to help God bring the Kingdom into fruition, to help make it on Earth as it is in Heaven, I don’t expect you to call me a Christian.
—-
Hugh Hollowell http://hughlh.com/articles is an activist, a speaker and a Mennonite minister. He is the founder and director of Love Wins Ministries http://lovewins.info/ where he pastors a congregation made up largely of people who are homeless.

Monday, April 18, 2011

UnChristian: Who Do I Emulate?

This is a blog entry from the Red Letter Christians posted 4-18-11:

"I have been doing some thinking about the book UnChristian in which non – Christians had the opportunity to share their views of Evangelical Christians. Not surprisingly they are not too impressed by us. In fact the huge majority of them see us in a very negative light. Specifically, they see us a being homo – phobic, pro – war, insensitive and extremely judgmental.

When I read these accusations towards us I could not help but think of what would happen if we were able to go back in time and do a similar research project on people’s views of Jesus. What would the “sinners” in Jesus’ day say about him? I think that they would be very positive about Jesus after all they were always hanging around him (see Luke 15: 1 - 2).

I believe that they would see him as being the opposite of how non – Christians view us Evangelicals today. They would see Jesus as being sympathetic and forgiving (not homo – phobic), merciful (not pro – war), empathetic (not insensitive) and very gracious (not judgmental).

Then I got thinking of what would happen if we surveyed these same people, the sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes and other so called “unclean” types found in the Gospels who hung out with Jesus and who loved him so much. What would they say if we asked them what they thought of the Pharisee’s? I think you know what they would say. They would probably use the exact same words that non – Christians today used in describing us – insensitive and extremely judgmental!

So my question now is this – who do we Evangelicals really emulate the most – Jesus or the Pharisees? Who do we best represent when it comes to what we say and how we behave towards the homosexual community – Pharisee’s or Jesus? Who do we most look like when we take a stand on issues like war, torture of suspected terrorists and tax cuts (that will negatively affect social programs to help the poor) – Pharisee’s or Jesus?

These are tough questions, questions that shine a spotlight right onto our hearts. It is our response to issues like these (and there are others) that the world watches and judges us on. Pharisee or Jesus? Take your pick. I hope I choose Jesus."

Blog entry written by Rev. Colin McCartney. He is the founder of UrbanPromise Toronto and author of two best selling books: The Beautiful Disappointment and Red Letter Revolution (Castle Quay Publishers). He is also a mentor to pastors and business people and is in high demand as a speaker.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Donald Miller's Thoughts on Church Leadership

"In the great commission, Jesus graduated his first group of students. He pushed them into the world and said, you don’t know everything, but you know enough. You’ll have a guide and that guide will be with you always. Go and teach the world to obey my commands. Because they were fishermen and tax gatherers, they went and did it. Did Jesus teach them for three years? Yes, he taught them by doing, in action, with people, by touching stuff, not by taking over a school and recruiting educators. I wonder what they would have done if they had been professional scholars? My guess is they would have talked the command into a tailspin, dissected it into a million pieces, then divided themselves into different intellectual camps, and built a bunch of schools to teach their various interpretations.

So maybe if you’re a doctor or a plumber or a carpenter, you should lead the church. Maybe the church needs some of you who don’t write and speak and teach for a living to step up and put some action to our faith. I wonder what your churches would look like? Maybe you could meet in homes, appoint some elders, pray for each other, read the Bible to each other, and then just serve your communities and each other in love. Maybe you wouldn’t need a classroom at all. Go ahead, lead. You’re qualified. You’ll have a guide. You’ve graduated."  ~ Donald Miller

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Millionaire Who Never Counted On Change

I'm not inclined to watch the newest fad in television docudramas, so called "Reality TV", but Episode 4 of "Secret Millionaire" was brought to my attention by a dear friend. As I tried to extract information about the content of the program, the only response I continued to get was, "you just have to see it for yourself ~ it's sooooo good"! That was good enough for me! Trusting the recommendation, I found the show and watched the recorded events unfold over the next 45 minutes.

It is difficult to put into words what I experienced as I listened to and watched the stories being told. Rather than share from my point of view, I thought I'd pass on the advice given to me ~ "you just have to see it for yourself ~ it's sooooo good"!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Adopted...into God's Family

"...cuckoo birds end up in adopted families, like me. They might feel as out of place as a feather on a horse sometimes, but they end up where they belong."

Horse Whispers in the Air ~ Dandi Macall

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Followers, Not Admirers ~ Soren Kierkeguard

It is well known that Christ consistently used the expression "follower." He never asks for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. No, He calls disciples. It is not adherants of a teaching but followers of a life Christ is looking for. Christ understood that being a "disciple" was in innermost and deepest harmony with what He said about Himself. Christ claimed to be the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (Jn 14:6). For this reason, He could never be satisfied with adherents who accepted His teaching - especially with those who in their lives ignored it or let things take their usual course.

His whole life on earth, from beginning to end, was destined solely to have followers and to make admirers impossible. Christ came into the world with the purpose of saving, not instructing it. At the same time - as is implied in His saving work - He came to be the Pattern, to leave footprints for the person who would join Him, who would become a follower. This is why Christ was born and lived and died in lowliness. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to sneak away from the Pattern with excuse and evasion on the basis that it, after all, possessed earthly and worldly advantages that He did not have. In that sense, to admire Christ is the false invention of a later age, aided by the presumption of "loftiness." No, there is absolutely nothing to admire in Jesus, unless you want to admire poverty, misery, and contempt.

What then, is the difference between an admirer and a follower? A follower is or strives to be what he admires. An admirer, however, keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him, and thus he fails to be or strive to be what he admires. To want to admire instead of to follow Christ is not necessarily an invention by bad people. No, it is more an invention by those who spinelessly keep themselves detached, who keep themselves at a safe distance. Admirers are related to the admired only through the excitement of the imagination. To them He is like an actor on the stage except that, this being real life, the effect He produces is somewhat stronger. But for their part, admirers make the same demands that are made in the theater: to sit safe and calm.

Admirers are only too willing to serve Christ as long as proper caution is exercised, lest one personally come in contact with danger. They refuse to accept that Christ's life is a demand. In actual fact, they are offended by Him. His radical, bizarre character so offends them that when they honestly see Christ for who He is, they are no longer able to experience the tranquility they so much seek after. They know full well that to associate with Him too closely amounts to being up for examination. Even though He says nothing against them personally, they know that His life tacitly judges theirs. And Christ's life indeed makes it manifest, terrifyingly manifest, what dreadful untruth it is to admire the truth instead of following it. When there is no danger, when there is a dead calm, when everything is favorable to our Christianity, then it is all too easy to confuse an admirer with a follower. And this can happen very quietly. The admirer can be under the delusion that the position he takes is the true one, when all he is doing is playing it safe. Give heed, therefore, to the call of discipleship!

If you have any knowledge at all of human nature, who can doubt that Judas was an admirer of Christ! And we know that Christ at the beginning of his work had many admirers. Judas was precisely such an admirer and thus later became a traitor. It is not hard to imagine that those who only admire the truth will, when danger appears, become traitors. The admirer is infatuated with the false security of greatness; but if there is any inconvenience or trouble, he pulls back. Admiring the truth, instead of following it, is just as dubious a fire as the fire of erotic love, which at the turn of the hand can be changed into exactly the opposite, to hate, jealousy, and revenge...

...Now suppose that there is no longer any special danger, as it no doubt is in so many of our Christian countries, bound up with publicly confessing Christ. Suppose there is no longer need to journey in the night. The difference between following and admiring still remains. Forget about danger connected with confessing Christ and think rather of the real danger which is inescapably bound up with being a Christian. Does not the Way - Christ's requirement to die to the world and deny self - does this not contain enough danger?

The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe. Though in word he is inexhaustible about how highly he prizes Christ, he renounces nothing, will not reconstruct his life, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires.

Not so for the follower. No, no. The follower aspires with all his strength to be what he admires. And then, remarkably enough, even though he is living amongst a "Christian people," he incurs the same peril as he did when it was dangerous to openly confess Christ. And because of the follower's life, it will become evident who the admirers are, for the admirers will become agitated with him. Even these words will disturb many - but then they must likewise belong to the admirers.

Excerpt from Bread and Wine ~ Readings for Lent and Easter p 55-60

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Kingdom of God

The focus of the Spirit’s arrival was not intense, miraculous signs (new languages spoken, healings, etc.). Rather, it was the unleashing of the kingdom of God.
This is how we know God’s Spirit is active among us—when the kingdom of God is breaking free. Whenever hearts are awakening to God’s life and whenever transformation is happening, we know that the Spirit is bringing us God’s kingdom.


~ Excerpt from Our Daily Journey Mar 21, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

As part of the Passion Movement, you know our desire to awaken a generation to live for what matters most — Jesus! More than songs and conferences, we believe worship is love in motion. And it's clear that the kind of worship God wants most requires more than words, calling us to love the world in Jesus' name.

Needs across the globe are endless, creating massive opportunity to bring hope to the broken and light in the darkest places. Do Something Now is a direct response to meet specific needs by opening the door as wide as we can, inviting everyone to join in the movement. And is now available online for anyone to give, from anywhere, at anytime.

So check out dosomethingnow.com. Five incredible causes, plus an opportunity to bring relief to Japan in these post quake/tsunami days. All of which have incredible needs that can be met easily as we each give a little to add to the 5 million already raised since 2007!

On our own, we each can make a difference, but together we are a force for good that exponentially surpasses what we can do alone. Small sacrifices can make a huge difference. Join the movement and invite others to follow.

Together we're a force for good. Follow your heart. Do Something Now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Matthew 25?

Basil of Caesarea, a fourth century bishop and monk, asked, “Are you not a robber, you who consider your own that which has been given you solely to distribute to others? This bread which you have set aside is the bread of the hungry; this garment you have locked away is the clothing of the naked; those shoes which you let rot are the shoes of him who is barefoot; those riches you have hoarded are the riches of the poor.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The God Jog

I believe everyone should have a God Jog. So what's a God Jog? It is an intentional appointment with a friend to spend time with one another, sharpen one another, laugh with one another, cry with one another, share our stories with one another, encourage one another, challenge one another, exhort one another, etc.

Mine started out as getting prepared (training, if you will) for a Half-Marathon last year. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday or Sunday we get together an run and dialog. These have become sacred times for me, and I look forward to them. There may be exciting things I want to share in my life, or I may need to vent because I've had a crappy day. Either way, it is good times. I also get the grace of being there for my friend. Maybe he's had an exciting day. Maybe he's had a crappy day, and need to blow off some steam. That's when I get to operate the grace of listening, and of coming along side a brother; a fellow sojourner in this story.

Running is not everybody's thing. I understand that. But I would encourage all of you to find someone to come along side of on a regular interval to journey through this life with. If you are open and honest with one another, if you allow the Spirit to guide you, this will become a sacred time for you also. I don't care if you run, walk, fly, or skip. Do something, and Happy God Jogging!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Glimpse into Modern Day Slavery ~ from CNN.com


Uttar Pradesh, India - An army of workers, their faces encrusted with dust, toils beside a story-high pile of unfired bricks. They are helping build a new India that appears to be leaving them behind. From sunup to sundown they spend their time pouring wet mud into molds, lugging them to the kiln, firing them and then pulling them out. For their backbreaking work, they do not receive wages. They are working to pay off a debt.
In India they are known as bonded laborers, bound to those who gave them or their forefathers an advance or a loan. Human rights advocates call them modern day slaves.
 "I cannot leave here unless I pay my debt," said Durgawati, a mother of three.
A contractor had approached Durgawati and her husband, offering them work in a far-off village. He had said there were plenty of opportunities and offered to pay an advance to prove it. Desperate to make a living and with no work in sight where they lived, they leapt at the chance and took the 1000-rupee ($22) advance, she said. The contractor found them work, but now, the family said they were trapped.
"I have to make a thousand bricks per day," Durgawati said. "It's the most difficult thing. We are given big pieces of soil, then we have to break it. Then we make it into a dough. Then we knead the soil." She and her husband aren't the only ones in the family working. Their eldest daughter is nearly as fast as the adults at molding the earth into bricks. She is just five years old. The family said they have not received wages since arriving three months ago. None of them has any idea how much they are owed. They said they have never been shown a balance sheet and couldn't read it anyway. They are illiterate and desperate to make a living. They do get a small food allowance but say it barely feeds them. Still, the family wouldn't dare leave the worksite that doubles as their living quarters.
"They will beat me if I try to leave," Durgawati said.
Dozens of families are in the same predicament. They are all oblivious to the fact that bonded labor is illegal in India. The legislation has been in place for decades, but enforcement is lax.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Welcome to Angie Z's Neighborhood

Check out this 60 Minute report on an ever growing number homeless children in
Seminole county Florida.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tapping into The Kingdom

"We are a broken people who need each other and God, for we have come to recognize the mess that we have created of our world and how deeply we suffer from that mess. Now we are working together to give birth to a new society within the shell of the old. Another world is possible. Another world is necessary. Another world is already here."
~ Shane Claiborne

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thought Provoking Quotes

Heard these quotes this week, been thinking about them - "What if you awoke tomorrow with only what you thanked Him for today?" and then "If we say we love unconditionally, why do we not worship unconditionally?"

Praying

Praying is prying into and paying attention to God's business ~ it also gives Him opportunity to do the same with us, as we allow it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Giving up control

"Did Jesus have enemies? Did some people not like Him? Yes. People who used the ancient texts to lord over others with the tools of fear and shame and public humiliation and accusation were the enemies of Christ. To think those enemies of Christ do not still exist today in an evangelical context, even using Christ’s name and hiding behind His cause of the gospel, would be naieve. Jesus never controls anybody. He states truths, and is okay with the chaos it creates. Control is the enemy of relationship, and of love. The Gospel is about relationship and love, not force."
~ Donald Miller

Relevance

"...love given without any other agenda is always relevant. Relevance comes from relationship - it means we matter to someone, he or she matters to us, and we both know it"
~ Rick McKinley This Beautiful Mess

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Visions

"Visions are born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. Anyone who is emotionally involved - frustrated, brokenhearted, maybe even angry - about the way things are in light of the way they believe things could be, is a candidate for vision. Visions form in the hearts of those who are dissatisfied with the status quo."

- Visioneering, Andy Stanley


Andy is so eloquent with his words. He absolutely nails Vision in the above passage. I think all of us are experiencing visions arising out of the tensions we are becoming more aware of, and being frustrated by. And yeah, we want to throw them on the ground at times. That is vision. I cannot wait to see the visions God is birthing in each of us on the journey. They are in each of us right now. God is just blowing up my heart right now, and I sense the same thing in each of you. I love you guys, and I'm glad you are on the journey with me. Passion is still rising!

When Allowed To, He Still Changes Lives

Wow! The past year is difficult to put into words. I think it is because so much of the changes in us were supernatural. I would not change a single thing, even if I could. When one steps back, and allows God to take the reigns, so many cool things happen. Moving deeper into relationship with Him, my friends, and our homeless buddies is indescribable. Everyone is just so real. There are no barriers. There are no partitions. There are no programs. It is just children of the Most High God interacting with one another in love and spirit, plus nothing. Nothing else is necessary.

Thank you, Father, for leading, guiding, blessing, and pouring out buckets full of grace and mercy upon us! We have cleaned out our ears, and we are listening for that gentle voice saying "My child, ...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reflection


re·flec·tion

  [ri-flek-shuhn]  Show IPA
–noun
1.
the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.
2.
an imagerepresentation; counterpart.
3.
a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
4.
a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.
5.
an unfavorable remark or observation.
6.
the casting of some imputation or reproach.
7.
Physics, Optics .
a.
the return of light, heat, sound, etc., after striking asurface.
b.
something so reflected as heat or especially light.
8.
Mathematics .

a.   (in plane) the replacement of each point on one side of a line by the point symmetrically placed on the other sideof the line.


b.  (in space) the replacement of each point on one side of a plane by the symmetric point on the other side of the plane.
9.
Anatomy the bending or folding back of a part upon itself.

It's hard to believe that one year ago today was the beginning of the Ordinary Radicals blog! So much has changed along the journey ~ mostly in us! What began as an invitation to share our life stories has become so much more than possibly imagined. As we began to do what we have passion for in response to loving Jesus, a powerful wind of the Spirit, has moved us to and through places we never could have, or would have gone on our own. The deepening relationship and love for Father, Son, and Spirit has grown ever deeper and has impacted us in community with one another.

It's interesting that one of the definitions in reflection contains consider, a word that grabbed our attention in one of our earliest blogs. Today I just wanted to reflect on what's happened over this past year. Almost every definition gives insight into how life has and is changing for each of us; seen by what we've shared here. My hope is that we are reflecting more of Jesus in all of life!

Thanks for sharing the journey together!

Relational Tithe

Weird ?