Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Operation Karamajong

Operation Karamajong is the next phase in a multi pronged effort to see the peace of Jesus grip the war torn tribes of Uganda.
"In September, after a year of preparation, five elders from the Portland area will be traveling with us to invest three weeks to develop relationships and teach the concept of peace to three separate tribes that only know bloodshed as the means for conflict resolution." (BereanWay.org)
I had the opportunity to attend a "Healing the Wounds of Trauma Workshop" along side 3 of these men. They are men with the face of Jesus, and I was truly blessed to learn alongside them. You can follow their progress here. I ask that you take this moment, right now as you read this, to pray for them. They are sacrificing their comforts, safety, time, money, and being with their family to help those in this extremely unstable dangerous region.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tea and Sympathy

God has taught me more the last few months about what it means to live as a follower of Christ through a man born in Scotland living in the late 19th century then I ever imagined possible. In December I subscribed to a free daily email, thanks to the excellent recommendation from a friend, for his My Utmost for His Highest daily devotional (Follow the link to read or subscribe). I was floored from day one. He rivals C.S. Lewis in his ability to formulate extremely profound statements in a beautifully simple manner. Daily I am convicted, encouraged, and stretched through his devotionals.

After becoming enamored by this man I did a bit of research to see if he had any more literary works. I figured I would start at the beginning and get a brilliantly titled book published in 1917, Baffled to Fight Better: Job and the Problem of Suffering. In the midst of the horrendous bloodshed of WWI, it could not have been more applicable.

Chambers refers often to the depravity of the state of humans. He claims that if any man is honest with himself he can not deny that at the core of humanity, we are broken, something is awry. It is at this removal of the blinders that one faces reality, which consequently, is also when one faces God.

It is with this understanding the Chambers gives a word of warning against the simple sympathies, such as "look on the bright side", or "there's a silver lining in every cloud".

"The 'gospel of temperament' works very well if you are suffering only from
psychical neuralgia, so to speak, and all you need is a cup of tea; but if you
have a real deep complaint, the injunction to 'Cheer up!' is an insult."
When I read these words, the enigmatic words in one of my favorite Jars of Clay songs became decoded -"Don't trade our love for tea and sympathy". It's all about being honest with yourself and with others. We live in a broken world, fact. Don't settle for a lesser form of reality that tries to find the best in everything. That joy and peace that people are seeking through weak sympathies, in the midst of suffering, is made complete in ones knowledge and security in Christ, nothing less.
"What is the use of telling a woman who has lost her husband and sons in the war
to 'Cheer up and look on the bright side'? There is no bright side, it is
absolute blackness, and if God cannot come to her help, truly she is in a
pitiable condition."
I faced this blackness underneath the Burnside Bridge. I have written about Frank before. He's been through divorce, extreme mental illnesses, separation from his kids (his "baby bear"), alcohol addiction, living on the streets, and now, the loss of his mother. When he shared this with me, I was speechless. A fully grown man, in shambles, voice shaking, tears falling, and telling you he has no one left in the world. There is no silver lining in that cloud. All I could do was hug him and tell him that I loved him.

If you know the truth of Jesus, be careful in your conversations about creating a facade of false and empty hopes. It would be better to say nothing. If the opportunity arises, simply share how you have joy and peace in this broken world. And if you don't experience this joy and peace in your life, keep searching and dig deeper*!


*That is becoming a common theme in my posts as of late.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Bride

Who knew spending a weekend celebrating such an exciting moment in someone else's live could be so enjoyable, even thrilling? Selfishness creeps into our lives so unsuspectingly, so much so that I even surprised myself by finding such joy and satisfaction through witnessing the joy of another. What an opportunity I had as the best man at my brothers wedding. To be standing mere feet away from the young bride at the altar, staring into her eyes as she gazed into the eyes of her groom. Such joy, such confidence, such hope, such exhilaration, and yet such peace. Her gaze was breathtaking.

All my discomforts, the suffocating heat underneath the endless layers of my tuxedo, my aching feet after standing for hours through rehearsals, last minute preparations, and endless pictures (a 5 mile run that morning probably didn't help), and stressing about all my responsibilities as best man - all of these vanished. I was perfectly content, simply being in the presence of the beautiful bride. Her gaze was breathtaking.

Yet I can not help but thinking, shouldn't this be our heavenward gaze toward God?

Again and again in Scripture the followers of Christ, the church, are referred to as Jesus bride (ex. 1 Cor. 11 and Eph 5:25). My heart leaps when I dwell on the bounties of love found in Jesus. If when you gaze on your god, or even your Jesus, and you don't experience this joy, keep searching and dig deeper! I invite you to know my Jesus, to stand at the altar, listen to the words. Through the new covenant - in the same way as a bride and groom are being brought together as one during the marriage covenant - we are given the opportunity to be reunited with God, through faith in Jesus. Today, in such contrast to my life two years ago, I stand before God with such joy, such confidence, such hope, such exhilaration, and yet such peace.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Serenity Sequel Possible?

During an interview concerning the Collectors Edition Serenity DVD; creator, Joss Whedon, revealed a juicy little tidbit concerning a possible sequel:
"Slice of Sci-Fi: So give me hope for a Serenity II.
Joss Whedon: Hope for it probably rests with this DVD."

This is possibly the most under-rated - no, I can't even say that, because it got decent reviews - under-appreciated Movie/TV Series of all time. Give it a shot. And if you don't, it doesn't matter. Chances are you will be receiving the Collectors Edition DVD as a gift from me for your next Birthday / Christmas / Anniversary / Valentines / Easter / Presidents Day / Ground Hog Day / Dia De Los Muertos / St. Patricks Day / Assumption of Mary Day / Independence Day / Flooding of the Nile Day / Labor Day / Midsummer Day / Cinco De Mayo / Ganesh Chaturthi / Martin Luther King Day / Tet Day / Columbus Day / Chinese New Year / Guy Fawkes Day ...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Miracle Drink Gets Better

I told you I would follow up my previous post as new findings on the health benefits of coffee were discovered. I am a man of my word. Don't mind the fact that in all honesty, I was joking. This is just too good to be true...

"The data shows that coffee drinkers were 41 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with liver cancer than people who don't drink coffee. For every daily cup of coffee people drank, their odds of having been diagnosed with liver cancer dropped by 23 percent, compared with people who never drink coffee. People who drank a lot of coffee were 55 percent less likely to have been diagnosed with liver cancer than those who didn't drink any coffee." (CBS News)

Hilarious!

For those keeping score, Coffee:
  • Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Protects against certain types of colon cancer.
  • Increases protection from skin cancer.
  • Decreases risk of liver cancer.
As my favorite Ukrainian pastor so wisely commented in my previous post, it is so exciting to see the beauty, wisdom, and goodness in God's creation revealed.

1 Timothy 4:4 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.

Excuse me while I head to the break room to top off my mug.