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Ignited

Amber and I walked into our apartment last night at about midnight after an intense weekend at Ignite in Indy. Ignite is a national gathering of GCM campus churches, that packs a punch of dynamic, Word-based teaching and preaching, long segments of musical worship and a wide spectrum of workshops. I want to share with you some of what I gleaned from the weekend, so I'm just going to barrel through all of the different sessions and workshops I visited.

The general theme of the main sessions was centered on the local church and the fact that the bride of Christ is the hope of the world, whether we like it or not.

Main Session I

-Noel Heikkenen talked about our "Big Buts."
-Busyness and loneliness are two cancers killing Americans
-Our busyness is "born of a vague fear that we are wasting our time", which is a recipe for loneliness
-We were meant to be a part of a team - the local church body
-Noel walked through Hebrews 10 and all the delicious, nutritious lettuce or &…

Quotable

Woman: "...I work three jobs."

President Bush: "You work three jobs? … Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that."

Must Everything Change? II

In the time since my first post on McLaren's latest book, Everything Must Change, I wound up finishing the entire book, but that feat didn't come easily.

My initial intention was to make posts as I traveled along through his book, but there were points at which I wasn't sure that I wanted to review it any longer. I scribbled and underlined in this book more than any other book I've read in a while and more than once, I was tempted to cease reading it. That's just the kind of book it was for me and it was what I signed up for--challenging. My initial intention was to get my first taste of the widely-influential and controversial writing of McLaren and be challenged in the process. I got more than I bargained for.

However, I don't think I am prepared to be a critic of McLaren. Unlike many of his often militant critics, I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt here and try to learn from his understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Many of his critic…

Congrats to Central Illinois

Good news for mostly boring (that's what those city slickers tell us) Central Illinois. Mattoon, Illinois (for you coastal dwellers, we're the state otherwise known as Chicago) will be the site of FutureGen, the "world's cleanest coal plant." It's good to know that my home state is on the front lines of helping to reduce the environmental impact of our energy-guzzling society. I don't know much about the science of it, but the world wide web told me this:

"For the first time coal gasification will be integrated with carbon dioxide, CO2, capture and geologic sequestration to prevent this greenhouse gas from adding to atmospheric accumulations responsible for global warming."

The governor visited town, but that's not always too impressive. I remember when governor Jim Edgar visited my home town of Sparta, IL to present a sizable check to a Mexican corporation that was going to take over the Spartan Printing Plant. They took the money and ran. W…

Between the Old and New

Has anyone else ever been troubled when thinking about the continuity of the Old and New Testaments? I've grown up with a solid exposure to the story of Scripture between Genesis and Revelation, but I have often been troubled when thinking about how the events of the Old Testament, or God's actions and promises, coalesce with the life of Jesus that I read about in the New Testament.

You hear a message about Samson or Jonah or Joseph and it's all good and has great "takeaways" for Godly living, but how does it relate? What's the underlying story and purpose? Jesus was a Jew and his life and culture were wrapped in Jewish history - the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Exodus and King David and the Temple and the Exile and the Return, but everytime I read from the pages of the Old Testament, my mind wanders to Jesus: how does this all fit together? Are God's actions and character consistent from the dawn of time in Eden up through the Incarnation of …

Wedding photos

If you're interested in looking at photos from our recent wedding, you can view them here:

http://www.mjphotography.biz/photos

username: king
pwd: jonathan-amber

Teaching to Change Lives

I just finished up Teaching to Change Lives, an excellent book by Howard Hendricks. His humor, wit and stories from years of experience make this a challenging and practical read. I highly recommend it for anyone involved in teaching, mentoring or leading, or for anyone who just wants to be challenged in the ways that you approach learning. The flesh of his book is laid upon a skeleton of seven propositions:
“The effective teacher always teaches from the overflow of a full life”“The way people learn determines how you teach.”“Maximum learning is always the result of maximum involvement.”“To truly impart information requires the building of bridges.”“Teaching that impacts is not head to head, but heart to heart.”“Teaching is most effective when the learner is properly motivated.”“The teaching-learning process will be most effective when both teacher and learner are adequately prepared.”

Mover

Two weeks ago, I had my first chance to teach at our weekly worship gathering (Saturday Night Grace). I gave the final talk in a series "Spiritual Climate in Crisis." You can listen to it online. I'm new at this, so it's not too long-winded :) Unfortunately, you'll miss out on some fun images I shared, such like these:

I read a couple books as I researched and thought about the topic of the Sabbath. I recommend the Sabbath by Abraham Heschel, for some Jewish, historical background and Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn, for a contemporary, Christian perspective. Dawn shares some thoughts for intertwining some of the beautiful Jewish practices into our remembrance of the Sabbath. Also, check out JR's post on the Sabbath.

I'm a big fan of benedictions, so I wrote one out for this teaching. I pasted it in below. All in all, I really enjoyed this first experience of teaching/preaching/talking/presenting/dialogue-ing (however you choose to call it). God ga…

Remembering old friends

After four years of lost contact, I had brief, but refreshing, conversation with an old friend just before Thanksgiving. And so, I want to give thanks for friends that God has placed in my life during seasons of change.

Four years ago, I was in South Africa for six months and God gave me a few close friends during my still-hard-to-believe-it-was-real African experience. About every six months, I reconnect with one of those friends, Sam Adams (yup). We update eachother on our lives and encourage eachother in our respective ministries. Originally from Zimbabwe, where his parents worked with an NGO, Sam moved to Cape Town and was attending the University of Cape Town and helping to lead the college ministry at Jubilee, the church that I attended while in Cape Town. I remember lots of stimulating conversations about poverty, the Church and the work of God's Spirit in our world.

The previously mentioned friend, whom I reconnected with online the other day, was also from Zim. Tami Mugadza…

Must Everything Change?

I often enjoy reading books and listening to teachers that challenge my paradigm and presuppositions. So, currently, I'm reading Brian McClaren's latest controversial book, Everything Must Change. And his book is certainly not disappointing me in my desire to be challenged, although much of his discussion pertains to topics that often plague my conscience.

I haven't done a book review in a while...actually, I've probably never blogged a true book review, but I have a few spare minutes to start one, so here ya go.

McClaren opens with two questions that have bothered him for much of his Christian life, questions which were the impetus behind this latest book: What are the biggest problems in the world? What does Jesus have to say about these global problems?

He then reveals the inspiration for the book's controversial title. He and his daughter were at a conference in Berundi, along with fifty Christian leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa. There, they discussed what the Gos…

Well, if Chuck Norris says so...

I don't want to know what will happen if we don't agree with Chuck Norris, who has endorsed Mike Huckabee for President of the USA.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2007/10/22/martial-arts-tv-star-picks-presidential-candidate/

ps, who is Mike Huckabee?...

Guess I'm gonna have to get back in the swing of blogging

Beat ya, Ty.

:)

Can't wait to read about your tie with a picture of you wearing a tie, Ty.

Well...this is likely going to be my final post as a single man. I am tying the knot this weekend. See ya'll on the other side.

wow...I now realize how much I emphasized the confusing nature of the English language. I used the word "tie" in like three different forms in this post. Yay, English.

T-Shirts and Mercy

This post goes a bit beyond the scope of some of the safer things that I normally talk about on this blog.
I was working out at IMPE on the U of I campus yesterday and the back of a sorority girl's t-shirt caught my eye: “You haven’t done anything until you’ve done a Phi.”

Hmmm. What kind of response is that type of message supposed to elicit? I don't need to tell you what most guys are going to think of when they read that. Confession: My mind immediately began to judge her. "Who wears a shirt like that?" I thought. "Why not just post your phone number and the words 'I'm easy?'"

But then my mind went to another place. I remembered the life of Jesus and how he interacted with a woman once, who had literally been caught in the act of adultery. Here's the story, from the Gospel of John. It speaks for itself.

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and…

Playin it safe

Wow. It's been too long since my last post. I need to get back into this.

I was riding Hot Magma (my bike) just yesterday when I remembered something that God revealed to me a couple summers ago. It is really easy to play it safe with people. Always talking about sports or the weather or hobbies or the latest episode of The Office or classes or work or upcoming vacation plans. The simple reminder was that I need to be watchful that I don't fall into the safe talk trap. If there was ever a man who didn't play it safe when talking to others, it was Jesus and if I'm trying to follow him, I better remember that. Jesus was always subverting the expectations that people had of what a Jewish "religious leader" should have been saying. As Paul said, we are the "stench of death" to some and the "fragrance of life" to others. But how potent is the odor that I am emitting? Do people feel loved by my words? Challenged? Encouraged? Motivated? Stretched?…

Map My Run

Here is a new internet toy for some of you runners out there who may be unfamiliar. I had used GMaps pedometer prior to this, but I've recently fell in love with MapMyRun.com. It is a great, interactive tool for runners. You can not only easily trace a running route, but you can do other fun stuff like create a profile and keep an online training log of all of your running stats.

At the table

Tolerance is weak
Love is power
We’ve been the ones having the door opened for us
We’ve been the ones pointing the finger at them
It’s they that have been silenced
It’s them that we have ignored
It has been about us and not them

We’ve spoken words that do not leave us uneasy
And tolerated their presence all around
We’ve consumed our time struggling to satisfy our appetites
For things we do not need
Our focus has been on the mirror instead of the light source
In God’s family there is neither rich nor poor
No one is labeled Jew or Gentile
The slave and the free are all one
None are tolerated
But all are accepted
What if when we leave this temporary place of lodging
When we exit these temporary bodies to travel home
And we receive our invitation for the Great Feast
The insatiable appetites of the temporary world will receive their full
There will be no mirrors, but only The Light
And at last when we think we are receiving our great reward
When we are directed to walk forward and open the door to see
As we turn …

Trails and Trials

7.7.07 was supposed to be the "most blessed" day ever, or something like that. Woops. I guessed I missed the memo.

As the sun was peering over the mountains in the East on the seventh day of the seventh month of 2007, my friend, Marla, and I drove my friend's Ford Taurus down the campsite driveway toward the race headquarters for our big event of the day: the Leadville Heavy-Half and Full marathon (Marla running the latter and I the former).

Leadville, CO sits at 10,100 feet above sea level. The air is thin, the whiskey runs free and the mountains surround this little historical mining town with majesty and power. Doc Holliday and Jesse James both inhabited this mountain town back in the 19th century, and I visited the historical saloon where they gambled. Leadville has a couple of famously hard trail races and I had the privilege of participating in one of them: the 15 mile "half" marathon. 7.5 miles uphill to 13,200 feet and then back down. I was neither prepar…

10 questions

John Werst, a pastor from Oregon, visited LT last week and gave two high-impact talks on being "Peacemakers" and another on "Life Management for the Long Haul." He had some highly relevant thoughts for us and God really spoke to me in many areas. I wanted to toss a couple of his thoughts out there for the world wide web.

"Conflict is inevitable, combat is optional."

In communicating with others, "commit to understand, then to be understood."

10 Questions to help you discern if you are maturing in Christ:

1. Are you more thirsty for God than ever before?
2. Are you more and more loving?
3. Are you increasingly sensitive to the Holy Spirit and aware of God?
4. Are you governed more and more by God's Word?
5. Are you concerned more and more with the physical and spiritual needs of others?
6. Are you more and more concerned with the Church and the Kingdom of God?
7. Are the disciplines of the Christian life more and more important to you?
8. Are you…

Beyond our normal margins

Here are two interesting articles that I've read recently.

The first is by Scott McKnight
Getting the Gospel Right

The second is an interview with Shane Claiborne
Dish Water, Smart Bombs, and Life Together

I want to re-read both of these. There's some good stuff here. Some stuff I'm not sure I agree with and some stuff that I know we've been missing for a while. What do you think?

Colorado 2.0

I'm well into my third week here at 8,010 feet in beautiful Estes Park, CO. I often find it hard to grasp that this is part of my full-time job. Not because I don't work, but because it is taking a great paradigm shift in my mind to see that what I get to do is "work." So often, I worship at the altar of efficiency and productivity, but you can't use those metrics when you are in a relational-oriented career!

As this blog post title suggests, this is my second version of being in Colorado for GCM's leadership training program. Version 2.0 has an entirely different look, because I am not a student anymore. When I reflect on what I learned two years ago, I remember that I learned a great deal about distractions. And goal setting. Relationship building. Prayer. Scripture meditation. Leading. And sharing my faith in Christ. But that was just the beginning. What does v2.0 have in store?

Already, I am discovering that God would be pleased if I learn more about servan…

May snowfall

I found some time to upload a few photos that I shot a few days ago of the fresh snowfall here in Rocky Mountain National Park. Most of these are on the YMCA property or nearby in Moraine Park. I woke up a little late, so some of the fresh snow had melted, but my buddy, Rob, got some amazing shots after sunrise. Unbelievable. Straight out of National Geographic. This was definitely my first May snowfall, so I'm just glad I was awake before it all vanished.

See a few photos here.

At 8000 feet

I suppose I've had a bit of a drought for the past few weeks. From blogging, that is. I arrived in breath-taking Estes Park, CO six days ago, which will be my home for the next couple months. Between going to NC for my brother's graduation, packing up my apartment and moving to CO for the summer, it's been a busy couple weeks, but I'm all settled in the Rocky Mountains and it feels so good to be back.

I've gotta run, but I just have to say that it is so beautiful, awesome and peaceful here. I look forward to getting some posts up very soon!

This video is rated PG

So, this is...

I have a friend, who...

Sometimes in college...

Okay, so if you have ever...

I give up. You just have to watch it for yourself. Yes, this is my good buddy, Charles Hoover IV (not really the fourth, but it sounds cool, doesn't it?).



Finding the right words

N.T. Wright on "Discovering Help in Prayer" from Simply Christian:

"Help is at hand not least in those who have trodden the path ahead of us. Part of our difficulty here is that we moderns are so anxious to do things our own way, so concerned that if we get help from anyone else our prayer won't be "authentic" and come from our own heart, that we are instantly suspicious about using anyone else's prayers. We are like someone who doesn't feel she's properly dressed unless she has personally designed and made all her own clothes ... We are hamstrung by ... the idea that things are authentic only if they come spontaneously, unbidden, from the depths of our heart."

I deeply appreciate the recent move in evangelicalism over the past few decades toward conversational prayer with our Father; however, I believe that Wright has a very valid point. So valid, that he could have written this paragraph about my own life. So often, prayers in our evangeli…

Noteworthy

"Jesus--the real Jesus, the living Jesus, the Jesus who dwells in heaven and rules over earth as well, the Jesuse who has brought God's future into the present--wants not just to influence us, but to resuce us; not just to inform us, but to heal us; not just to give us something to think about, but to feed us with himself."
-N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

Up a bit earlier than usual

I beat the sun up today. That doesn't happen very often.

I read an article yesterday. An editorial really. It made me laugh. Outloud. I was at the bus stop and I was just sitting there, laughing outloud, everyone else thinking in their head, "Who laughs outloud at the newspaper?" Here is the excerpt.

"I recently ran across a survey by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago that took a look at which professions had the most job satisfaction...Members of the clergy topped the list with an 87 percent job satisfaction rating. That makes some sense that they're happy. I mean, they are working for God and all and you can't really argue with his benefit package. Sure full medical and dental care are nice, but everlasting life, that sort of thing is a whole hell of a lot nicer than even a company car. On the downside, I bet they really get tired of working weekends all the time..."

If you're curious about the rest of the results, fir…

Post script

For all the Rolands in the world, when I say "it's good to remind myself how rich I am"... I mean it's good to face the reality that I am much closer to the wealthy man whom Jesus warns rather than the poor beggar on the side of the street. I don't remind myself of my rich-ness so that I can remember to go and swim around in my pools of money like Scrooge McDuck and then go nuts at Best Buy (or Amazon.com, which is much easier for me to mindlessly dump $25 bucks into...but you get "Free super saver shipping"...i know, i know....Of course, I'm on Amazon Prime now. sheesh).

Gut check

It's always good to remind myself of how rich I really am. btw...if you haven't watched "Rich", one of Rob Bell's latest Noomas, I highly recommend it.

$8 could buy you 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.

$30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.

$73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.

$2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.

See how rich you are at the Global Rich List.


One year already?

It's hard to believe that it's been about one year since I wrote the last post about the Invisible Children. In the past year, there has been progress and a great deal of awareness raised about the devestating circumstances that thousands of Ugandans are living in. These three guys have shown the world that we can do something. It started small, with just a vision to go to Africa and report back to America on some of the "invisible stories" that the media doesn't tell us. It's true that the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, but grows into an enormous plant.

Do we have the faith to step out? To stand up for justice? To "lay down our lives for our friends" in the name of love? In the name of Christ?

Invisible Children has moved us. It's shaken us. It's inspired us. This movie (among many other documentaries and literary pieces) has shown that the world is small. We live in a global community. We must care for our neighbors across the st…

Glory that doesn't fade

Maybe you've heard of "Faded Glory," ya know, the Wal-Mart clothing line. We're not talking about that kind of glory here. Although, maybe we are, in a sense of the word. There is this sort of glory that men and women the world over are striving after, a glory that can seemingly be obtained by possessing the right stuff. That is the glory, which is fading.

My good buddy, Fred, gave a teaching last night on 2 Corinthians 3:1-11. He spoke about "glory" and he got me thinkin.

Did you know that the Advertising industry in America spends about $145 billion each year. Just to get us to buy more stuff. Stuff that is supposed to make our lives more "glorious." Huh.

I've been reading a really good--and long--article in the Washington Post over the past couple days. Maybe you've heard about it. It's been on the news. But after last night, thinking about fading glory versus glory that lasts, the real life story has taken on an altogether new meaning…

the joy of Easter

In a garden God first put us
to live in peace and joy.
In a garden God suffered tears
and sweat of agony.

In a garden
God rose to life
and restored to all creation
life and joy and peace.

O gardens with new life
Rejoice with us. Alleluia!

When Christ rode into Jerusalem,
the stones were ready to cry out
and proclaim him Lord of all creation.
When Christ died on the cross,
the earth shook and the rocks split
sharing the loss and devastation.

After Christ was buried in the tomb
the stone was rolled away,
rejoicing and revealing
the glory of our risen Lord.

Now is Christ risen from the dead
Alleluia!

O let all things visible and invisible,
earthly and heavenly,
all people, tribes and nations,
saved by the blood of Christ
join with us to praise and glorify
the Lord of all creation.

He left his heavenly throne
to suffer with us and release his damaged creation
from death, sin and decay,
that we might be in Paradise with him
and live forever in his joy and peace.

Alleluia! Glory to our Risen Savior
Alleluia! Glory to our Go…

Science as Worship.

Here's a simply written column by the well-respected scientist, Dr. Francis Collins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Collins, http://www.genome.gov/10000779). He discusses how he landed at the intersection of Science and Faith. Read it here.

A few excerpts:

"Challenged by one of those patients, who asked "What do you believe, doctor?", I began searching for answers. I had to admit that the science I loved so much was powerless to answer questions such as "What is the meaning of life?" "Why am I here?" "Why does mathematics work, anyway?" "If the universe had a beginning, who created it?" "Why are the physical constants in the universe so finely tuned to allow the possibility of complex life forms?" "Why do humans have a moral sense?" "What happens after we die?"

"By investigating God's majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship."

Fernando & Eddie

Not too long ago, I wrote a couple posts about "becoming a kid," inspired by Jesus' statement that in order to enter into the kingdom of God, we must become like little children. Obviously, not in the litteral sense. It's about humility, dependency, healthy fear of God, wonder, love, the absence of self-suffiency.

So, I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the fact that God continued to communicate this message to me when I was in Honduras. I met Fernando and Eddie during our first day in Honduras. They are brothers who live next door to Esperanza and Carmello, whom I wrote about in my previous post. Their father died when they were very young, too young to even remember him. When I visited their home, their mother, Maria, pointed out his picture, which hung right next to the front door.

From the moment I met these to young boys, who are 8 and 10 years old, I knew that we were going to be friends that week. Fernando especially took to me. He learned my name immediatel…

Where do I begin?

For the past few days, I've been telling the story of Choluteca, Honduras. To my fiancee, family and friends. I will keep telling the story. There is just so much to tell. I've been fortunate enough to go on many week-long mission trips and each has held its unique value, but this one felt pretty special. Maybe the best one yet. Yes, I think it was.

I don't have much time right now, but I wanted to get some initial thoughts written. So, where do I begin? How about I tell you one story. The story of Esperanza & Carmello.

Esperanza and Carmello are married, with seven children and live in Limon, Honduras, a small, impoverished town, located about 7km from Choluteca. About a year ago, the family was living in a delapidated, makeshift shack. Carmello only has part-time construction work and in their prior living condition, Esperanza had no work. Then Esperanza met some men from the GCLA (Great Commission Latin America) church in Choluteca (Iglesia Gran Comision) and Esperanz…

We're bringing serving back.

Today at 2pm I'll be heading up to O'Hare with 14 friends for a week-long missions journey in Honduras. If you think of it, please remember our team when/if you pray to God this week. We're in for quite a weather transition. 40 degrees in Champaign today. About 98 degrees in Choluteca, Honduras last time I checked. So why Honduras for spring break?

Starting with my first missions trip several years ago, there has been something beautiful and mysterious that has happened on that and each successive journey. I've become more closely tied to the friends that I serve with on those trips. I've seen God move to restore lives, reinstill hope, bring smiles to kids faces, magnify the name of His Son, unite diverse peoples and awaken exciting dreams that lie deep inside some. On man, whom we were helping to reconstruct his little inner city church in Memphis, TN, helped put it all into perspective: "You're my miracle." I don't take any credit for this. Major…

Never Fails.

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


Love never fails.


Those last three words hung over me like a fog that wouldn't lift. Their gravity pulled me in, deeper and deeper. Before, the words of this famous passage ran together as one lofty view of what true love is. It is what we should aspire to. It is the love that a husband and a wife should have for one another--at least it seems to always be read at weddings.

But those last three words. I just couldn't get them out of my head. "That's the love I have for you." That's what I sensed, deep in my gut. God's love never fails me. His love always finds me. A simple truth that constantly evades me, leaving me feeling helpless, feeling like I need to…

sun.

One of my friends was saying tonight that he loves overcast days. He loves winter. "Good thing you still don't live in the Caribbean," I said. "Yeah, that'd just be depressing," he shot back. Hard to imagine. He just can't understand how everyone hides during the winter and then today when it's the first amazing day of spring (sunny and 75), everyone comes out of the shadows, looking all chipper. People he hasn't seen in months he says. Well, spring is my favorite time of the year, but I enjoy the snow enough that I'm not a recluse during the winter. The weather does change my mood, though--sometimes too much. It's amazing how good of an elixer some good ole fashioned sunshine can be for my soul. That first nice day of Spring when you can open the windows and let the fresh air flood the room. The first scent of a neighbor grilling. Mmmm.

So, the past two Sundays have given us pretty decent weather and I've enjoyed my Sabbath by takin…

I was an engineer once.

Every once in a while, the engi-nerd inside of me rises from the depths. Today was one of those days. I wandered around the highly acclaimed Engineering Open House on campus today and even stopped at a few booths to talk to the people. For some reason, the challenge beckoned me once again. Even though most of this stuff is over my head. These amazing engineering projects reminded me how God's creativity and design is seen everywhere, from computer science to biomechanics. To top it off, I come home and visit my friend Ritish's blog, where I found this post. Even if you're not an engineer or a math geek, you'll get a good laugh. I guarantee it.

Becoming a kid again, II

"Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." -Jesus

Manning contends that to be a disciple of Jesus, to become like a little child, we must be willing to accept ourselves as ones who have little importance in comparison to our King. Only when we recognize our low position will we receive a "privileged place in the kingdom." This privilege comes not from us proving our importance, but from God's delight in us, simply becuase we have humbled ourselves as his children.

Talk about a counter-cultural position. Certainly unique from any other faith in our world.

In Luke 18, a rich young man comes to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life. Manning says that:

"It is no coincidence that Luke juxtaposes the passage of Jesus and the children immediately preceding the verses on the young aristocrat. Children contrast with the rich man simply because there is no question of their having yet been able to merit…

Poetic

The poetry, wonder and truth of Psalm 96 resonated in my soul this morning:
1 Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts. 9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of his [a] holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns."
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the people…

one-eyed

Becoming a Kid Again

I'd like to do a few posts on what Jesus taught about becoming like a child. I'm in the middle of Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning, and he offers a few thoughts. Here is one for today:

"When Jesus tells us to become like little children, in order that we may enter the kingdom of God, he invites us to forget what lies behind."

There is a story of a Zen monk who was being chased by a ferocious tiger. He raced to the edge of a cliff, glanced back and saw the growling tiger about to spring. The monk spotted a rope dangling over the edge of the cliff. He grabbed it and began shinning down the side of the cliff out of the clutches of the tiger. Whew! Narrow escape. He stared down and saw a huge quarry of jagged rocks five hundred feet below. He looked up and saw the tiger poised atop the cliff with bared claws.

Just then, two mice crawled onto the rope and began to nibble at the rope. What to do?

The monk looked to the side and happened to see a strawberry within arm'…

A New Age

It has become a cliche phrase that beauty queens mutter from the stages at Miss America pageants, but yearning for "peace on earth" isn't a new adage. And it certainly isn't a desire to be dismissed, thinking it's some "pie in the sky" wish. Who doesn't want "peace on earth?" Some--very few--may deny it, wanting instead a power to rule the earth in their own power.
Heaven on Earth, we need it now
I'm sick of all of this hanging around
Sick of sorrow, sick of the pain
I'm sick of hearing again and again
That there's gonna be peace on Earth"
-Peace on Earth, U2In our gut, sitting on the throne of the seat of all of our desires, is the two-headed yearning for Peace and Love. From the day man rebelled against God, we've been reaching for it. We've failed and at times, in little ways, we've succeeded. But it doesn't last. We want it, though.

The ancient writings of a prophet named Daniel foretold of the fall of four …

art

I'm reading "The Heart of the Artist" by Noland and I wanted to share a couple quotes from the book. Thankfully, there has been a resurgence of the arts within the Church, but we are far from realizing the potential of the whole realm of the arts to capture our wonder as is expressed in this reflection by John Fischer:

“When artists reach into their colors or to the notes of a musical score, into the developing solution in a darkroom tray or to the flow of words on a page, they are interacting with the eternity God has placed in their hearts…Because their minds cannot fathom what their hearts know, they feel the weight of the God-placed burden.Art often seems irrational, because the heart is reaching beyond the mind…trying to find the meaning of its existence.”Francis Schaeffer had these sentiments in regard to the mediocrity and resistance to the pursuit of excellence in the arts with regard to the Christian:
“Of all people Christians should be addicted to quality and in…

Building friendships

If you live on or near a college campus or in an urban area where international students live, consider this quote from an Indonesian student who came to study at USC:

"Before coming to the United States, I loved the music, films, freedoms, and I thought, the people. Now I'm not so sure. It's hard to make friends here. Everyone is so busy, into their appearance, and clueless about the rest of the world. I long for friendships where people can talk intelligently about world issues, travel, art, and life outside of our little worlds on campus. To be honest," she says, "I feel lonely a lot of the time. I don't get to see much of American life other than on TV or the area surrounding my university."

Certainly, this isn't true across the board, but over 500,000 international students are studying at American universities right now and over 70% of them never enter an American home! So, in other words, on average, we pretty much suck at inviting in &quo…