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Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

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In Uncategorized on September 21, 2009 at 8:55 pm

some things that have been on my mind as of late:

–  grad school and a busy social life do not always mix well together. I have had awesome opportunities lately to hang out with friends and be involved in different activities and ministries. It has been awesome but has also led to me not being as far along with my classes as I would like to be.

– our vegetable garden is done expect for the green peppers that are in a late September marathon. will we plant things over the winter? can we? can we afford to do it in terms of money and time? I still have a lot to learn about farming and gardening.

– domestic violence. I just don’t know enough about it and how to talk with battered women.

– meth. I hear that it is the drug of choice for poor, white populations. I am wondering if this is the drug of choice in Shady Hill. It would explain a lot for me and is yet another thing I still need to learn more about.

– the circle that poverty, domestic violence, and drugs seem to weave. More research is needed on my part. So many things to look up. I believe though that the church has to educate themselves on these issues if we hope to do effective work among those God calls us to.

– where will Phillip and I be living next year at this time?

– will I be working? Hopefully? so where?

– the unfounded idea that in America we are all born on an equal playing field and just need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps. nothing could be farther from the truth. anyone who believes this should dedicate their time to being around the poor. try to understand some of their lives. Satan, our politicians, and sadly enough some of our religious leaders have sold us this myth. perhaps it has to do with the Cain that exists in all our hearts declaring that we are not our brothers keeper. this attitude allows us to ignore the problem by believing the lie. it also leaves blood on our hands.

– a homeless friend of mine that I ran into last week told me he has lung cancer. as we discussed his treatment he told me that at MCV, where he receives treatment, as a powerless, homeless, sick man he is required to sign releases for them to use whatever experimental drug they choose on him. as I walked away from the 7-11 I understood the old testament prophets a little more when they would cry out to God-. “LORD, WHEN WILL THIS INJUSTICE CEASE. LOOK FROM HEAVEN AN SEE THE WAY WE SUFFER. HEAR THE CRIES OF THE POOR, THE WIDOW, THE HOMELESS, THE UNINSURED”

– some of my family has been struggling. I go between trusting God and worrying. I hurt for them and wish so badly that they would allow God into their lives.

– I went to the doctor for some health problems and have been told to give up caffeine. all of it. part of me is excited to have my body in a cleaner and healthier state. part of me wants to cry when sitting in the middle of a two hour and forty minute class. and what to do with those dark chocolate covered pretzels in my kitchen?

– racism. it’s been in the news a lot lately. it has also been on my mind because Phillip, my friend Alex, and myself are running a small group at our church on race and racism. I don’t think that any of us can say we are not racist. it is a spiritual stronghold in our world. for those though that put up a convincing argument on behalf of their lack of racism I would then submit that we have serious issues with the idolatry of white culture. it is everywhere. it dominates almost every aspect of our culture. when you think about it other cultures are normally judged by how different they are because we have such a sense of white culture as the norm. other cultures cannot simply stand on their own. instead they are always studied, rebuked, or praised for how much they align with white culture. black men are looked down upon for their style of clothing unless they dress the more mainstream, white, j-crew. black women are seen as more beautiful if they make their hair more silky and not kinky. when both a white person and a minority are known for having done something similar in history (ohhh say like “discover the Americas”) the white person will usually get the credit in our history books. I could go on and on. All I know is that there is racism in my heart (the best example I can think to share, which I often use to explain to my friends, is that I have noticed that when walking in an alley I am less nervous at the approach of a white man than a black man. how screwed up is that!). I don’t like it there and I am relying on God’s grace to see me through it. I think I’ll be in recovery for the rest of my life. care to join me?

– food culture. we don’t have enough of it. Barbara Kingsolver in her book “animal, vegetable, miracle” writes about how in the feminist struggle for equality in the work place one of the trade offs we had to make was loosing much of our food culture because “fast food” was there to sweep in and help us have our jobs, swim meets, and big macs too. let me be clear that I fully support feminism in its true form that I believe can be found in the Bible. God was the orignal feminist. A woman’s place is wherever God calls her to be. I just am saddened by how our marriages filled with two working partners and sometimes a handful of kids has led to so many missed meals together. are the afterschool activities worth it? I’m not sure. can mutual submission between partners help solve it? I think it’s a good place to start…that and start growing your own food from heirloom seeds.

– fall is a wonderful thing. it gives legitimacy to me always being cold by actually getting cold outside.

– too many people have been murdered lately. we’ve all heard about the horrible things that happened in Farmville and florida. don’t forget about the homeless man less than a mile down the street.

– I’m really glad we are all allowed to own guns. (sadness with a smaller dose of sarcasm implied)

– I cannot imagine living with my family in a place where there are weekly gun battles. this is the reality of so many of our neighbors though. both here in Richmond and Chesterfield. ohhh the psychological and developmental damage that is being done to those children.

– I can’t get enough of dogs. ever since Marley and Me this past spring I have been reminded of how awesome dogs are. I’m very glad God created them. I think they were very special to God and Adam…why else would dog be god spelled backwards?

– my friend Hannah’s baby shower is coming up this weekend. I’m pretty excited about it and moreso the baby in general.

– my friend Mary is getting married soon and I’m really excited for her and her fiance.

– the Giants won last night. I would have never cared except that I married Phillip. So I am now excited about their win. I have also come to see the Raven’s as the worst football team ever. They are always to be beaten. This is the way the Brocks tell me it has to be. For the rest of my life I will read books during football games, occasionally get sucked in, eventually fall asleep on Jack’s couch, and then wake up asking whether the Giants won and expressing my hopes that the Ravens lost. marriage.

good night friends. I hope you have a great night filled with peace and love from God and those around you.

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late night.

In Uncategorized on September 17, 2009 at 9:52 pm

ohh life. it has been full as of late. school started almost one month ago and my field started last week. now all our days are filled up and often times so are our nights. I wouldn’t do anything differently though. God has blessed us with so much- including days and nights filled with doing those things she/he has placed on our hearts…so yeah I’ll have to write more when it is not 10:30 at night; but what a wonderful night it is…

a case in point- tonight Phil and I were getting ready for a church meeting when my friend Misty Jo called. I almost didn’t pick up because we were getting our stuff together but because I had not talked to her in close to two months I answered and we began catching up. it was great. Misty has to be one of the sweetest and most wonderful persons in my life. ten minutes into our conversation I unexpectantly heard her begin talking to someone else. randomly enough my friend Misty had run into one of the other friends (one out of three) that I have on the west coast. I said a quick hello to my friend Stephen and then continued on in conversation with Misty.

surely it is a wonderful and small world.

good night world, moon, stars, people, animals, hopes, and dreams. the Lord be with us all.

In Uncategorized on September 8, 2009 at 9:22 am

so I was thinking this morning that Phillip and I have an awesome gardening teacher to learn from. I woke up and looked out on all the rain and was momentarily bummed to have to walk in it to class. Then I realized that God the master gardener/farmer was simply watering her/his crops. thanks for the rain Lord.

Cambodia remembered

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2009 at 8:24 am

It has only been a little over a month since we returned home from Cambodia and already it feels farther away than I like. Lately my days pass easily along in a world that moves much faster and with much greater financial ease than the one I briefly visited in Battambang this past July. There are several things that have resulted from my time there though that I believe are God given and would like to share.

The day before we left for Cambodia I began to read a book called “what Jesus meant” by garry willis. I read through the entire book throughout our trip and I believe strongly that God put the book in my life specifically to teach me more about about the kingdom of God in relation to what I was experiencing in Cambodia. On the plane ride over I spent some time reading the book and then moved over to my Bible. Reading the gospels made sense since that was what my book was covering. After reading a few chapters I stopped to pray, and then had one of the most real encounters with God that I have ever had. We were about ten hours into the flight. Phil was asleep beside me…as were most people. What looked to be one of the worst movies ever made was playing on the screen and there I was practically in tears. I had this revelation that will probably sound rather odd.

You see I realized that I can never be Jesus. Obvious yes, but how many obvious parts of God/Jesus/anything do we really ever have a great grasp on for long before our humanity takes over and messes it up? For me this had become another one of those messed up and/or ignored realities. God was so real to me on that plane. I had a brief glimpse of how immensely huge she/he is and ohhh how I paled in comparison. I was in the presence of a great God who was the only one capable of saving the world.

In recent years I have stepped out of an evangelical circle that stressed mostly personal faith and have discovered the other half of the Christian walk that much of the Bible points to- the social gospel. I have begun to realize that loving Jesus means that I have to love others not in word as James would put it, but in deed. A few example: I have begun to love Latin Americans to the point that I have demonstrated to have the School of the Americas closed. I have begun to love my enemies and thus have marched on the Pentagon as a Christian witness against war. I have begun to love the poor and have realized that my vocation should be to fight for justice for the poor and oppressed. I am currently going to school, learning from those around me, and seeking God to learn how to do this. God knows I have a lot yet to learn but I am trying to love others. I read a lot and much, if not most, of my personal reading involves God and what it means to follow her/him. The message I get often is to be Jesus to the world. As Paul wrote to the Philippians to be an “image bearer”. I do still believe that we are called to be Jesus’ hands and feet to our world…but on the plane I was reminded that I will never actually save someone. That is the domain of Jesus alone. Jesus many call us to break the chains of poverty and oppression and to rescue those who are trapped within addictions and enslavements of many different sorts (sex trafficking, the American dream) but we can never save their souls. So yeah. It was a great moment with Jesus. A moment where I walked away more in awe of who God is and what she/he can do. Throughout the rest of the time there my heart was much more attuned to look at what God was enabling her people to do, while also remembering to call on him to actually do the saving part.

On the drive from thailand to cambodia I read a chapter about how when Jesus was on earth he was stronly against religion. At that time (and sadly in ours as well) religion had created a huge hierarchy with each level being more important, better, and more powerful than those below it. Jesus would have none of this. He spoke out against their accumulation of wealth and property (Luke 16:14-31), their pursuit of power (Mat. 23:8-10), their system of hierarchy by instead promoting egalitarianism (Gal 3:26-28), and their use of violence (Luke 6:27-38, John 18:36) among other things. Jesus was creating a kingdom where all were welcome.

While in cambodia I was given a beautiful gift to witness this first hand. On our one sunday there our team split in two to visit two different churches. I ended up at a church on the outskirts of town. Shortly after coming in worship began. A young women and man led worship. After a few worship songs a group of young children, mostly girls, came in and sang a song and danced. Worship continued and then another group of girls, this time adolescents, came in to sing and dance. After worship the pastor thanked another church team that was wrapping up a mission trip to their church. He brought the team’s leader up to preach a sermon. Afterwards the preacher brought our team up front for introductions. From there we moved into more worship.  A few songs later it was the older women in the church’s turn to come up and lead the church in a song of praise. When they were done an older man stepped up to the mike and proceeded over us taking communion (in the form of crackers and grape soda :). When we had finished communion the church sang a few more worship songs. For the last half of worship there was a toddler that wondered throughout the front of the church. She periodically climbed onto the stage where she would dance and walk back and forth between the different musicians. I took some time after watching her to sit down and ponder all that I was seeing and experiencing. God brought back to mind the chapter I had recently read and then lead me to consider the church I was in. The thing was there was both young and old involved in the church. No one became upset about the toddler running around. No embarrassed mother rushed to pull her off the stage. The little girl was allowed to be there because she was just as much a part of the church as the worship leaders. Both men and women took part in leading the church. Anyone was allowed to be a part, including me. Most of the girls, both young and adolescent, who I mentioned before were former prostitutes who had been rescued from brothels. Their home was now literally the church.

It is hard to fully explain how beautiful it was to see what God was doing and to realize that it was what Jesus had preached all along. As I later discussed this with the group Phillip commented “what matters more to Jesus- a well organized sacrifice or a pure one?” Since the trip I have come home with fresh eyes about what the kingdom of God really is and who belongs there. It is a new and radical arrangement of people who live under the love and grace of God and it is a place where former prostitutes lead worship and two year olds receive as much respect as the pastor. This kingdom is the only one I see worth serving and it has the only leader that can actually save us.

grace and peace to you all. thank you to all of you who helped Phillip and I get to Cambodia through your prayers and support. thank you most of all to Jesus for your severe mercy.

of flannel boards and a possible gunshot in the back

In Uncategorized on September 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Jesus blows my mind. Sometimes when I think about what he said while on earth I am amazed at how many people have chosen to follow him. I think it speaks to the power of love and grace that God uses to transform us into people we could not otherwise be…but I think it also speaks to the deception or perhaps ignorance many people have about what it means to be a Christian. I recently heard a pastor speak who said a lot of things that made my heart unsettled. I was most struck by his message about how in the end Jesus will give us all victory and we will all overcome and have great lives. Perhaps he meant something different than what came across to me. I’m not sure. As I stood there though, looking out over a bunch of wonderful people who love God, I had to wonder whether they were being led astray.

Following Jesus does lead us into freedom to be in loving and life giving relationships. It gives us the freedom to begin eternal life here and now. It does not mean that everything will go well for us and we will be “blessed” with the world’s possessions and that there will be Christian prayer once again in schools. As I stood in the church I was reminded of the radical Jesus I know and try to serve. A man/God who told us “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” Luke 9:23…this is the same Jesus who promises that Christians will be persecuted and hated (Luke 21).

When we choose to follow Jesus, we choose to walk the same path…a path that may very well get us killed. Perhaps it will be at the hands of Israellis or Palestinians as we go between them to be witnesses for Jesus’ love and call to nonviolence. Perhaps it will be at the hands of the Russian maffia for being a witness of Jesus by standing up against sex trafficking and interrupting the “normal flow” of the sex industry. Perhaps it will come when we take the bullet that was intended for a doctor who performs abortions. Perhaps it will be when we are at the border sharing communion with our Latino brothers and sisters in Christ.  Who knows? All I know is that the real Jesus would have probably scared the living hell out of me in Sunday school. Jesus’ domain is not the stuff of flannel boards…but instead of a radical love that never fails, even unto death.