Thursday, July 30, 2009

Love pt 4

Love is pro-life. But not like you think.

Love's pro-life stance is against abortion but it is also against leaving a single mother with no options alone to deal with her problems. You see love realizes that just making a law is not a going to make a difference. It recognizes that good laws need to be made, but demands we change our lives to help those who need help. So love does not allow us act - in the name of justice and truth - coldly, blindly, without concern for people who need help

You see Love's pro-life stance is against terrorism, but it's also against the war on terror. It realizes that neither provide the way to peace and equality.

Love's pro-life stance calls for justice, but also demands mercy.

Love is so pro-life it cannot stand idly by and watch another starve. Love causes a rich man to sell everything he has and give it to help his neighbor get some food. Being pro-life asks the one who has much, to liberally give it all away in order to be a neighbor to a stranger.

Love is so pro-life it is against fences. It looks to tear down walls, to repair the broken relationships that divide all of us. Love looks to make friends with the burglar, to clean up after the vandal, and to forgive the criminal. Love is so pro-life that it cannot fathom the death penalty, preemptive strikes, or torture.

Love is so pro-life it demands that wrong doing be treated with forgiveness. It cannot stand revenge, retaliation, or pay-back. Being pro-life means that love refuses to hate, it refuses to hold a grudge, and it refuses to quit attempting to reconcile.

Love's pro-life stance is so strong, its destiny can be summed up in two words: Love Wins.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Love pt 3

Peter Ustinov once said, "Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich." Now that statement is a mouthful.

I am fascinated with the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. Perhaps fascinated is too nice of a word, I'm intrigued and horrified by the whole episode. What intrigues me is both sides are at fault, and neither side will own up to their wrong doings. What is more evil: a nail bomb in a shopping district or a laser guided missile into a ghetto? What is more evil: the belief that one nation should be destroyed or starving an entire population?

I have always wondered why the Trade Towers? Why did Osama -twice- attempt to destroy the Trade Towers? Think about it, when we went into Iraq in 1991, we first attacked military communications - that makes sense. Why did Osama go after the Trade Towers?

I was watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart the other day and his guest had written a book about one county in Mississippi which refused to succeed from the Union during the American Civil War. One of their reasons to not succeed was because they didn't have a problem with the outlawing of slaves, they were poor. They thought that the whole idea of succession was a rich man's idea. The guest (and I forget her name) made the point this was pretty much the mindset of many in the south during the early 1860's.

As I write this, I wonder what's the difference war or terrorism different? Both are working from a weakness. Because a strong person does not need to result in violence to move in the world; only the weak. I'm not talking about physical strength, but the strength that counts. You know the strength that helps the single mom raise her child, the marathoner to run further, or the adult restraining himself/herself from hitting a child that his just hit them.

Violence, either through war or terrorism, reveals an inner weakness. The strong do not need to respond with violence; they respond with love and compassion. The strong can do this because they understand their place in the world; they understand that even at their strongest they are not nearly strong enough.

My friend JD Walt has a theme in his teachings, the mind of Christ, which is found in Philippians 2. Here we see that Jesus, even though he was co-equal with God, did not attempt to use his status for his own gain, but he humbled himself. He humbled himself to become a man, he humbled himself to death, and in death he even humbled himself to die on a cross (which at every level was an awful death).

How could Jesus do this? Well because he was strong. He didn't need to resort to terrorism; a ploy many of his fellow Galaliean freedom fighters had done. He didn't need to resort to calling his fellow Jews to rise up in a fight to the death. That would mean that he was weak. Instead he humbled himself and in his death made a spectacle of the powers of his day.

Where does strength come from? I think strength comes from knowing one's place in the universe. It comes from knowing that the one who has all strength, chooses to love all the world, even his enemies. Strength is choosing to follow in that pattern and love all the world, even those who consider themselves our enemies. Real strength is love.

I think what Ustinov was getting at is that terrorism and war come from the same place. Perhaps as followers of Jesus we should take Paul's advice and have the mind of Christ.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Love pt 2

Jesus once told a story in which the hero was a vile Samaritan (Luke 10). This would be the equivalent of me telling a story with a Taliban Nazi being the hero. His hero is possibly the worse choice possible – the Samaritans were hated. Why would he do this?

If you ever watch an old war movie, you’ll notice that the soldiers never refer to their enemies by their proper names. In World War II, the enemies were “Krauts” and “Japs”. In The Korean War, the enemies were “Commies”. In Vietnam, the enemies were “Gooks”. Why would they do this?

Across town, on the other side of the tracks, (name your place)tucky. We have ways to talk about places where people who are different than us live. Usually these places are given derogatory titles. Why do we do this?

When we have people who are different than us and those who are considered our enemies in our lives, we look for ways to dehumanize them. We call them names other than their name. We say they’re from a place that fails to meet up to our standards. We do everything we can to make them less than human.

When Jesus tells the story of a Samaritan being a hero, he forces his readers to value this Samaritan man as a human being.

Who are you dehumanizing? Who do you need to see as a human being?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Love pt 1

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducee's, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

When Jesus says "All the Law and the Prophets" he is talking about the portion of Scripture what we call the Old Testament. So, we see Jesus believes that the focal point of the Scriptures is love. The reason why we see him challenging all of the religious systems of his day is because they were not centered around love.

He challenged a Sabbath system that cared more about rules than healing. He challenged those who tithe huge amounts by saying the woman who gave 2 pennies was the one who gave the most. When he cleared the temple he was challenging it, because those selling were not selling out of a love for Yahweh or the Torah, but to make huge sums of money. His whole ministry was calling out systems built on greed and fear, not built around love.

If these systems were not built on love what were they built on? Well the two basic roots are fear and greed; sometimes both. These systems usually are built on involve control, power. Because fear and greed are so powerful, these systems often use violence in order to protect and control themselves.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John are choked full of Jesus calling his followers to live lives of love; it is the core of his project with the 12. He spends 3-years deconstructing the way that they think; because no other systems are built on love. In the end - for his final act of love – he challenged a system of greed and fear by calling their greed out for everybody to see. Lovingly, he refused to respond to their violence with violence, instead he responded to their beating by praying to God for them.

The question is why are we acting the way we do. Are our systems being built on love? Or do they find their source in greed or fear?

Part 2 to follow tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Touchdown Jesus

So I live 25 minutes away from this location. Which is making me really, really excited for the upcoming football season. Even if I know that MeeSHeGAN (if you think I'm spelling that wrong on accident you don't get it) is going to stomp all over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

a depressing thought: steak = sin

So I grew up believing that before Adam and Eve sinned nothing died. This includes animals. Which means that before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve were vegetarians. This way of thinking means that steak is a product of the fall...

So is it Christian to say that I should avoid eating meat? 

your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the 2nd worse thing that could possible happen to me.

What's the worst thing that could possibly happen to you? Well, obviously the predictable answer involves a chainsaw, family members, eye gouging, a bottle of Drain-o, and some duct tape. Besides that what's the worst thing that could happen to you?

I think the 2nd worst thing that could happen to somebody in my line of work is ... (drumroll please!) ... losing your cell phone. 

So in-between walking out of a coffee shop thinking about taking a picture of the most beautiful and complete rainbow ever and returning home a few hours later, my little friend disappeared. Monday morning involved retracing the previous night's steps 2-3 was the 2nd worse morning I possibly could have imagined. (Later I learned I wasn't alone in my misery as my friend Mark also lost his phone last week; that made me feel a little better.)

We went to the Verizon store, and they told us we could connect an old cell phone to my line. So they hooked up Steph's phone to my number. This means that I have a very weird mixture of phone numbers. It also means that I may not have your number in my phone. 

If you could text me (or call) with your name & number, I would greatly appreciate it. My number is 414.5294 with an area code of (260). 

FYI -- Tuesday (7/21) I'll be at Cedar Point, so if I don't respond its because I'm going down a 300-ft hill, screaming my face off! 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Great Quote:

That's all nonviolence is - organized love.

- Joan Baez,
singer, songwriter, and activist

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Great Quote:

"I deny the resurrection every time I turn my back on the poor or become a cog in a system of injustice"
-Peter Rollins
Poets, Priests, & Preachers Conference

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Thoughts on Moses:

At church, my senior Pastor has been preaching through the book of Exodus, and it has me thinking; that story is pretty amazing. Just the fact that Yahweh called a group of slaves his people is incredible, but how he took those slaves to be his people is even more amazing.

I am intrigued by the central figure of the story: the person of Moses. The book is really an account his interactions with Yahweh, the children of Israel, and Pharaoh. What intrigues about Moses is not how perfect for the job he is – because he is a perfect candidate for leading an exodus of people – but how frail and fragile his mentality is.

The story of Moses begins in the Nile, because it was illegal for Hebrews to have babies, Moses’ family was forced to hide his presence, and most likely tried to save his life by gift wrapping him to the daughter of Pharaoh. When she found him, she raised him as a prince of Egypt. He would have had access to the best education possible at that time; he would have had access to some of the most influential persons in the ancient world; and he would have been trained in how to lead a nation. Perfect for leading the children of Israel out of slavery.

Interestingly enough, it seems Moses attempted to free the Hebrews by killing a guard who was abusing one of workers. When Pharaoh heard this he was upset, and wished to kill Moses. Moses fled Egypt in disgrace. He went to the middle of nowhere and spent the next forty years of his life as a shepherd in the wilderness. Moses, who once was one of the princes of Egypt, now a shepherd, the job usually reserved for children. Moses stood there for forty year – a whole world of potential – watching sheep graze. I do not think we should under estimate this facet of his life.

The story of the Exodus is intriguing not just because God freed a nation of slaves from bondage, but the fact that he used an insecure man who stuttered and stammered his way through leadership. He needed his brother to speak for him, his father-in-law to give him counsel, and an assistant to help him in the actual process of leadership. God did not pick the type-A go-getter leadership guru guy, he picked an insecure, stammering man who had spent half of his life running away from his potential.

This speaks to me because this is sometimes how I feel. When I graduated from Asbury, the President, Dr. Ellsworth Kalas, quoted the verse from the book of Joshua where Yahweh speaks to Joshua and tells him that whatever he sees is his. He then told us that the same is true for us. This is because we can see it, we have the ability to do it. People who cannot do it, do not have the ability to see it.

Yet this is so hard for me, because I see so much; yet am not always confident that I can do it. Like Moses, I stutter and stammer. Like Moses, I lack a sense of confidence. This makes, for me, Moses’ story very inspirational; if God can use Moses, he can use me for sure. This is because, it is not about my skills and abilities, my talent level; its about God’s. When Moses’ was a powerful leader, it was because he closely followed God’s lead. When Moses failed as a leader, it was when he tried to do it his own way. So for Moses to be successful, he had to realize that it wasn’t about his ability to perform, but it was about God’s ability to perform.

I need to learn that the same goes for me…

Monday, July 06, 2009

New Carlisle, Indiana

Here is a picture of New Carlisle, our home. You should note two things: 1.) the train tracks the move along the left side (they go all the way to downtown Chicago 2.) our apartment is in the top right side of the picture (if you look closely enough you can see (we are in the closest apartment to the camera)) Obviously this picture is taken in the fall, which I am pumped for.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Great Music:

my friend Chad Brooks during the past year got me hooked on the group Wilco. On Tuesday their new album Wilco (the album) was released. I'm definitely a fan of the title track, obviously Wilco, which they recently played for the Steven Colbert Show. 

Definitely check out their latest offering! I'm sure going to!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Great Quote:

We aren't called to live first-century lives in the twenty-first century, but twenty-first-century lives as we walk in light of the revelation God gave to us in the first century.

Scot McKnight

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Back from Silence:

I'm back!!! 

What has happened in the mean time? Well, we moved from Wilmore, KY to New Carlisle, IN to take a position as Assistant Pastor to the New Carlisle Wesleyan Church. This role includes responsibilities dealing with but not exclusive to Student Ministries, Small groups, and other areas of discipleship ministries. We're excited about the chance to become a part of this community and help the Kingdom grow here!