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4/29/2003

 

Morning Lectio



My practice of lectio divina took on a much different form this morning. I was asked to cover an early morning gathering, to facilitate in worship and prayer. Every Tuesday morning at 6:30am, several people gather at The Bridge for silence, worship, and prayer. This begins a day that we choose to fast as a community. Usually by 6:30am, I've already been at my office for 45 minutes, but I've been wishing i could set aside time and be there, so I agreed to take it on. It was intense. I was so aware this morning--that awareness that you get when you feel responsible for something. I got to the building, opened it up, and began to create an altar experience in the small room we gather in for this purpose. I gathered several candles, and created a circle of a few of them in the center. I searched for some incense, but i think we used it all sunday. I love creating the atmosphere--for me, that alone is worship. whether in music or light or touch or smell, designing the space is something i've grown to have a passion for. So i created a dimly lit experience in this room, clearing out all seating so that the floor would welcome the travellers to come. It's interesting now that i think back. the room was completely empty, but felt so full. The way I can imagine someone would feel if they had lived underwater their entire life. they might relate to their atmospere as empty in the same way we refer to air being empty. However, given another perspective, that person would feel that although water may be transparent, it's presence is vital in their world to all movement and life. Water hosts the life found in its medium. In the same way, that room this morning felt full, intimate. like invisible water surrounding me, touching my skin, holding me in place. It was incredible.

So i left the front door open to the building--a somewhat scary thing as this building is right at the center of our downtown culture, and we have a homeless community that frequents us unnanounced--and i started to worship. Just me, several penetrating candles, and a guitar. I started playing and kept playing. about a half an hour later, I realized that my Maker had invited me to his table alone. At first, my mind began to scroll down through the pictures of faces that I know "should've been there" including those that usually facilitate this space, but the Father quickly drew me elsewhere. he drew me to himself in a very intimate way. I felt peace, openness, and communion. Immediately he quickened my heart to bring light to my understanding. I felt in a moment like it was not a mistake that no one showed up. The bride groom had drawn me intentionally alone to be with him. He wanted me. I felt valued, loved, unique--that the Lord would make plans to have me arrive with a guitar in an empty room--on a morning that he knew we would be alone--and construct an altar specifically for my life, and for our conversation this morning. wow.

I started crying my frickin eyes out. wailing on my guitar with words being created from emptiness, i cried out my song to him. my song gradually turned to silence. after a while i found myself on my face. I was led through the next hour to several places in His story--never making it to my bookmark in John. I came to a place where i could not move beyond a couple passages in lamentations, and one in ezekiel. What are you saying Lord? After reflecting for a while, I looked up and began staring at one of the larger candles in front of me. my face was fairly close to it, so it flickered with my breath. Then my heart began to pray. Lord, i want to be as this flame, dancing in the wind of your breath, so close to your face...but father, as you are faithful to continue to be near, be patient--please God, be long suffering with your servant. That i would find favor with you; that your anger and frusteration with me would subside. That my existence and identity would be found not in myself, the flame, but in my relationship with the wind that comes from your breath. with your quiet breath you constantly shape and redesign me. Father, as you are the origin of breath, do not blow this candle out. Sustain me, purify me, search me.

It was two hours of much needed space with my father. He allowed me to rediscover his lovesickness for me. No one showed up; no one interrupted our dance. It was beautiful.

God i wish i could make room for that every morning in the same way.


4/28/2003

 

I'll bite your legs off!


Well Andy, it appears that i am the black knight. For better or worse, it's gotta be better than being a killer bunny.

4/24/2003

 

Still unpacking my thoughts...


(Thanks Andrew for the painting from the Living Room...I liked it so much I had to put it up.)
I will sit down and blog my thoughts of Holy Week as soon as I can unpack them. I feel like I witnessed, facilitated and participated in environments of the most incredible growth and divine habitation I've ever experienced--individually and communally. Maundy Thursday ("Immerse"), Good Friday ("Circling to the Center"), and Easter ("The Garden Party") were all so pregnant with spiritual formation in my life and the life of my community that I feel almost inept to begin letting it all out in my journal. I'm literally speachless. Im almost afraid that by regurgitating what I remember experiencing, some of the mystery and depth will vanish--leaving only traces of principle once empowered by detail and story. God, help me process what you've shown me. I need wisdom and balance. Sear my soul with Your words and thoughts--everything that you revealed through these days of embracing redemption, that I would not ever forget...

I'll see if I can upload some photos, and then I'll unleash my memory and imagination.
What did you experience this last weekend?

 
Thursday, April 24, 2003; 11:30 AM.
Junior High School student, heavily armed, shot and killed his principal, and then took his own life.


Jesus...


4/21/2003

 

An Interesting Quote...



Christianity began in Palestine as a Relationship, moved to Greece and became an Idea, went to Rome and became an Institution, then came to America and became an Enterprise.

--Richard Halverson

 

PC Death 1.5


Yep, my office pc has today passed on into a better life. Actually, I hope it hasn't. I hope it passed on into some sort of virtual hell. It has been terrible to me--frequently unreliable, and I've seen the "blue screen of death" about 16 times on it. Sometimes I've even heard it laugh out loud at me. In three weeks, my whole branch will be receiving new PCs, but hopefully mine will come today. Until then, I have been reduced to running my practice from a poorly resourced pc in an extra office.

Remember that shot in the movie "Office Space" ? (I absolutely LOVE that movie) You know, the ganster-like beating and killing of the troublesome office printer? I feel like taking my old pc into some abandoned field and doing the same. Aren't there support groups for this type of bitterness?

So, until then, I will be in this sterile office, away from doing productive work of any sort, sulking.

4/16/2003

 

Work Work Work...



Even though April 15th is come and gone, work is still as busy as ever. I've got a pile of work on my desk taller than--well, other piles of work I've seen, and many clients to meet with. Add that to my generally full schedule, and responsibilities for building experiences for thurs, fri, and sunday---and my schedule is plum full. Yes, plum. Don't know how much blogging i will do over the next few days, but here's a thought to contemplate. A friend of mine threw this out in dialogue as we were discussing our discontent about the "event-style" salvation process we perpetuate in churches. You know, how salvation is a process (1 Cor 1:18), and not an event or single juncture. He said something that gripped me.

We have made the mistake in our past of believing and reproducing a philosophy that says, "First conversion, then conversation, then community". In actuality, the process is much more like, "First conversation, then community, then conversion." Now that i think about it more, it is true. We engage people in their space(or sometimes invite them into ours) in all of their humanity and brokeness, and accept them unconditionally. Then in conversation (furthering community)--not so much to teach, direct, or convince, but to learn. They soon feel embraced by the community (whether institutional, or simply a group of friends) and begin giving and sharing their experiences with others in it. That continual relationship in community fosters an atmosphere of transformation, and the touchable Christ begins transforming them hollistically. Conversion takes place along that road in relationship; where following Christ moves past the place of an emotional decision or acknowledgement, and into the life-long struggle to lay down one's life.

Thoughts?

4/15/2003

 

The Redundant School of Redundancy 1.2



This morning I continue to celebrate the wonder of Christian subculture. I was fortunate enough to observe Landover worthy propanganda while driving to work. This open-minded individual reminded me of our love, humility, and social genius as Christians with his bumper sticker, "If English Was Good Enough For Jesus, It's Good Enough For Me". Wow. I actually laughed out loud in my car. It makes me laugh even now, just thinking about it. I wonder who the marketing prodigy behind that idea was.


 

Blog Wars II: Empire Strikes Blog



I'm back to editing my precious template that was unavailable most of yesterday. After Jeph Hurst and many other "visually impaired" professed their discomfort with reading my size 2 font, I gave in and bumped it up to a 3.

Other additions include various improvements from my tutelage under Thomas Smith of Soul Gardeners, whose truly priceless advice was to check the "View" drop down menu and "Source" to see the DNA of other blogs and their HTML data. Duh. Why have I never done this before? "Tell me again Joan, how'd your pig die?"

Yeah, I have no excuse. I really have no idea where that one was going. Thanks again Thomas.

4/14/2003

 
Aaaaarrrrrg! I can't get into the template page of my blog, and my heading is off-center. Ah, the pains of being obsessive...oh sure, laugh it up. laugh laugh laughy. what you don't know is that this is actually hurting me--it is causing me physical pain.

 
"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."

--St. Antoine de Exupery



 
Rocks. More on the Gallery of Redemption

Thinking back to the woman caught in adultery by the religious of her day. Brought out of the very act, dressed in her shame, and thrown before Christ. Those gathered looked to Christ for permission to stone her to death, as Old Testament law demanded. As the religious stood there, holding rocks they had picked up with specific intent, Christ remained crouched, writing something in the sand. My personal opinon is that it probably wasn't "W.W.J.D?" I just picture him staring at the ground, doodling, glancing up at the sobbing woman, rightly scared for her life, and back again to the ground. When He finally spoke and her accusers left, I can imagine them dropping their rocks, one at a time. What a sound that must have been for her. I wonder if for the rest of her days, she found herself picking up stones occaisionally, squeezing them as tight as she could, and them closing her eyes while letting go, just to hear the sound of her redemption as the rock would hit the earth.

 
Corem Deo

I'm still wrestling with this concept of Justice...I can't escape my lectio divina from Amos and its counterpart story of the paralytic from Luke 5. It's interesting to me that in verse 24 Christ tells the man, "Get up, take your mat and go home." Why did God tell him to take his mat with him? I've been struggling with this for a while.

here's some thoughts. Maybe Christ wanted the man to take his mat home because the very thing that had held him captive these many years would now become the symbol of God's redemption in his life. This is interesting. So when we forget where we came from and what God has done through us, we forget the ways the Story has defined us, and the very power of redemption that intervened in our life is rendered useless for transforming us further. Not only that, but it is useless to transform the lives of others, because it has ceased being "flesh" and turned back into "word". If we carry our past with us, we are reminded of our redemption. Going a bit deeper...Maybe this IS the way the story interacts with the interconnection of the world community. That is--we are all connected. We know this, but often forget it in our sterile islands of religion and subculture. So, if we would carry, as this man did, our symbols of redemption--the very things that once bound us and are now our symbols of freedom-- we would create a "gallery of redemption". Our connection as a world community is the medium through which all could enter this gallery, and be transformed by the ongoing, eternal Story. hmmmm...

So maybe redemption is not an individual event, but a global communal process in which the "gallery" is one door through which people are invited to experience that process. To the extent that we continue to enter into the gallery of redemption, we allow that redemptive process to continue in our lives. hmmm...Sure, this could be awkward, and even "uncover" most all of us, as Christ's redeeming work in us is continual, but "Community is abandoning your place of safety for the sake others." In this we find humility and shared life.

 
Today is two-for-one day at Jack Handy's store of Deep Thoughts

One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh, no," I said. "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.

The people in the village were real poor, so none of the children had any toys. But this one little boy had gotten an old enema bag and filled it with rocks, and he would go around and whap the other children across the face with it. Man, I think my heart almost broke. Later the boy came up and offered to give me the toy. This was too much! I reached out my hand, but then he ran away. I chased him down and took the enema bag. He cried a little, but that's the way of these people.

Ahhhh...the injustice of Disney and enema bags.

 
Great thought from last night:

"The God who created became the creation in order to recreate the world."


4/11/2003

 
For those of you, like myself, that thought Phone Booth was a fantastic movie, maybe you should see this movie and reconsider. Phone Booth is still a good movie; it deals with the fascade we often put on as people to cover our deep feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. In this movie, Colin Farrell is forced into accountability for those he tramples on daily in the masquerade he calls a life. Decisions that bred destruction.

Well last night I saw this movie, "Liberty Stands Still", and realized that almost everything in phone booth was a rip off. Bummer, eh? Sure, they have their subtle differences, and both remain good flicks, but this one came out a year earlier. It is a fantastic movie--although I will continue to trumpet "the Good Girl" as the next movie to see (for those of you that have not already. I you have seen Jennifer Anniston's shockingly great debut in serious film experiments (and no, Office Space is not a "serious" movie) see both Liberty Stands Still and Phone Booth. Let me know what you think. The cross-tension between accounting for our decisions (understanding the choices of our lives in the context of the world community), and authenticity is just silly.

 
Just came across a great blog on spiritual disciplines. This blog adds boob grabbing and smoke reeking to the list. Go check out the Soul Gardeners blog entry for March 24th. Thanks to Andrew for the link. This is a blog I will definitely add to my growing list of those I connect with daily.

 
And it's a good thing too...

It's a good thing nobody attempted to tackle Tuesday's blog about the illustration of the emerging church....I'd hate to have to reply to all of those comments. Chicken. all of you. You have no excuse unless you're functionally illiterate like Jordan. It's ok...i know you're all busy. Im just bitter--very, very bitter.

Just got an email from one of my closest friends, and business partner, Justin. He's a US Marine, and was sent to the vicinity of IRAQ back in January, and it did my heart well to hear from him. Can't wait to have him back.

Back to work for a hour or two before im off to enjoy my weekend with my family.

4/10/2003

 
Rudy Carrasco Speaks...

thanks Rudy. Took a break from the market grind yesterday and saw Rudy Carrasco speak at my alma mater(sp?), Westmont College. As always, it was great to listen to what he ahd to say. Main point were:

1) You can say anything when you're on stage
2) U2 is the greatest rock band in the world
3) The U.S. men's soccer team WILL win the world cup one sometime before he dies. (Which will probably happen right after England sinks into the ocean--because i know it won't happen before that...hahaha)

Real Food that i gleaned:

John Perkins life--fantastic. He bears in his body the marks of the cross. 2/3 of his stomach was removed during a 9 month hospitalization he incurred during the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. got a 10 minute press interview, while John spent 24 hours in jail while several sherfiffs beat him incessantly. wow. Tension between the marks of grief and the inspiration of hope in thjis life. I wish John would've spoke more on this at the Emergent Conference. He's actually living the life embracing justice. What an example for all of us.

Rudy also spoke a bit on the redistribution of power. Justice is when power is used correctly.
To illustrate the use of power, he touched on a verse that I thought was great. He referred to the passage in Joshua where Joshua see the Angel of the Lord and asks him, "are you for us or against us?" the Angel of the Lord says, "Neither. I am the captain of the Lord's army. take off your shoes. the place where you are standing is holy" wow. What a statement. Rudy questioned how the Angel could be neither for or against someone--especially someone in charge of God's people, the Israelites. The thing I loved, is that Rudy did not try to sum up what that meant. He just said it, experiemented with it a little, and moved on. Too often we try to wrap up parts of the Story into neat little boxes.

He also talked about a few other things--desegregation's pros and cons, etc--but the greatest thing about hearing Rudy is just seeing his heart. He's a man that exudes the heart of God, no matter what language or depth of topic he chooses to speak on. There is a mantle of authority and humility draped over his life that is beautiful. I wish I could've had more time to speak with him afterwards, but I had to get back to the office.

It was also interesting finding myself completely out of place in the "chapel environment" at the school. So much has changed in me in the years since I attended. I found myself reminiscing--wondering if everything was this contrived when i was there. Ouch. I don't mean to insult the attendees, the staff, or people that facilitate. It just seemes to me that the bubble of reality i entered, was much different than the way I see the world now.

I hope that those present when Rudy spoke didn't allow the routine nature of "chapel" and their obligation to attend ruin what could've sparked conversations and transformation.

 
Ahhhh....My Dearest Blogging Friends,

Thanks for all of the love and encouragement as I've been updating my blog over the last day. Especially from Greg, who encouraged me to become like Christ in saving my work, because "Jesus Saves". That little tidbit was truly the highlight of my day. If anyone knows how to separate my comment link from the same line as the date, or how to increase the font size for my entries, please let me know. I've had a few complaints. Really.

Sidenote 1.1: Bumper sticker of the day -- "Honk if you are Jesus"
It's amazing what we do to ourselves, huh?
I'm going to go have a Testa-mint.

4/09/2003

 
Well, I'm taking off for a bit to see Rudy Carrasco speak at Westmont College. More on that later.

 
Deep Thought of Today
by Jack Handy

When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmm, boy.

4/08/2003

 
I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry, I'm not going to cry... This is the mantra I'm chanting right now. I just lost a blog that I spent well over a hour and a half on. For those of you that want to capitalize the letter "W" by hitting "Shift - w", beware not to Hit "CTRL-w" instead. this command will send your blog hurtling into the bottomless pit, where there is much gnashing of teeth. God, forgive me for the words I'm yelling inside.

 


Let me try this one more time...

The Beauty Is In The Interruption

Last week, a friend and mentor of mine, Greg Russinger, and I began to unravel the story of the paralytic as it pertains to the imagery of the emerging church. Since then, I have been journaling, meditating, and striking up conversations with friends on their thoughts. Let me give you a snapshot of the text and my thoughts, and then I'd be glad to hear yours. Read the following with the mindset that this story may well depict the imagery of the emerging church.


17 "One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.
18 Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.
19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ' Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?'
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ' Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
23 Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?
24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins....' He said to the paralyzed man, 'I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.'
25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, ' We have seen remarkable things today.' "


Forgive me as I try to reconstruct my once eloquent(j/k) thoughts in this blog-recovery. **Deep Sigh**

A few things occur to me right away.
First, I think it is interesting that the house confining Christ was filled with the religious. I'm not saying they were ALL evil, or were ALL there under less than genuine motives. It's just interesting.

Second, I think it is interesting that Christ is allowing himself to BE confined. The story tells us that he was there teaching (maybe originally to those that were truly hungry). I can just see it now...Suddnely the house is engulfed by the Pharisees and teachers of the law from every town and village, easily pushing aside those interesting in learning. One wonders why Christ stayed in the house at all. Did he know that several men, including one with a debilitating physical condition, would soon have a life-altering encounter with him? Or did he stay because he knew that some in the room, perhaps some entangled in the religious political structure, were indeed truly searching?

Next I see the men. My blogging friend, Greg Adkins, describes these men as artists--for their creative ways of decontruction. Thanks Greg, I love that. this is interesting. While the religious are in the house, attempting to bottle Christ up into their principles of law and tradition; the "artists" are out in the center of the lives of the broken. It's interesting here that i find God moving in two different places at once. I think God, being present everywhere, brought these men to this paralytic. hence, Christ (or at least the Father) was present in the middle of the poor and broken (also read: culture). these men embraced the paralytic where he was at, travelled with him, shared life with him, deconstructed the obstacle or system preventing him from seeing Christ in truth, and introduced him in all of his imperfections to Christ. They got involved in the messiness. It is here that I see the divine collision. A space where the will of God, the power of God embodied in Christ, and community seeking him in earnest all collide. How beautiful.

Next I see the men carry the paralytic to the house where Christ was at. the Story says that the house was so full of people that they could not get in. I wonder how many people have to be crammed into a house to make it this full. Pretty full i bet. ha ha ha. Seriously. And didn't they ask a few of the onlookers to kindly move so they could get by? I'm sure they did--they must've before someone came up with the half-baked idea to throw a paralytic up on a roof and tear it apart to lower him through. How can these pharisees be so cold and religious that they would turn away men carrying a crippled man--just so that they could continue to consume! talk about indifference! And yet in my own life, how often do I refuse to embrace those obviously broken around me, allowing them to share my journey of transformation, just because it's inconvenient, or I am too busy? Ouch...moving on.

I wonder how long it took them to get this man up on the roof and dig through it? Minutes...Hours? Was it distracting and noisy? Im sure it was. I wonder if people came out of the house to discourage them and heckle them--even to threaten them. " what the hell are you doing with Bob up there?!?" Heckles born out of fear--of losing control, of interrupting the liturgy, of tearing apart (deconstructing) the absolute. Maybe even fears for this paralytic. They were risking his safety--...Or were they? was there anymore safety in sitting by the gates of the city?

AND THIS IS HUGE...

Let's go back to how we interpret the men carrying the paralytic. Isn't it true that we often think of them as guides--Men of faith that brought this poor crippled one to Christ? The Story does say that, doesn't it? Well, yes, and no. Jesus does commend the men for their faith...but i think we need to reinterpret the men bringing the paralytic. I wonder if inasmuch as the men brought the crippled man to Jesus, he really brought them?!? Let's step back for a moment. They went in to the center of what God was doing, found this man, and dedicated themselves to filling his need...which just happened to be introducing him to Christ--where most (but not all) needs are filled. But in the same way that they allowed this man to be at the center of their lives and "carried" him--he really carried them! Were it not for his need to be touched by Christ, they would have not been touched by Christ either. were it not for his need to meet christ, they might never have deconstructed the religious box the pharisees confined him to (read: church, and yes, we're all guilty) and lowered him to the center! It is here that we find that the men are one with the broken--as they were mended and given new life by Christ too. Their stories are interrelated and have ultimate sense of context in community. Rather than consider the men as guides, let us consider them (read: ourselves) as co-travellers, or sojouners they are on the same journey with this man, headed in the same direction. Sure, some of them may have been on the journey a little longer, but the same journey nevertheless. Maybe there are no healthy and broken, saved and lost. Not yet at least. there are simply those broken facing Christ, being transformed daily, and those broken not facing Christ. 1Cor. 1:18

So I picture Christ now, staring at these men breaking through the final pieces of roof, lowering down a dirty, poorly clothed man on a mat. I think he was astounded. Sure at their faith--but i think he was more astounded at something else. I think he was staring at the hole; the beauty in the interruption. These men embodied something everyone in the room had missed. And in that moment, deconstruction led to life and reconstruction. They had interrupted what men had confined Him to, and allowed God to do something radical there. Remember the Story saying that the power of God was present to heal? I wonder if Christ had performed any miracles before they arrived.

Maybe the emerging church is those who refuse to sit in the box anymore, taking and consuming, but insist on going into the center of culture, laying aside all their agendas for ministry, and filling the needs of those present there. IF WE ALLOW THE POOR, THE BROKEN, THE MARGINALIZED AND OUTCAST TO BE AT THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES(and church), THEN WE WILL FIND CHRIST TOUCHING PEOPLE AND GIVING OUR LIVES MEANING.

So often we'd rather avoid people and situations that might pose interuptions to our daily agenda. Holy Spirit, please allow my life to be interrupted by those you surround me with, as part of these divine collisions.
::Selah::

I had many other thoughts, but that's all for now. my 14 hour day is over. What do you think?

 

Deep Thought of Today
by Jack Handy

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean ? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.

 
Good Morning.

Well, I've spent most of the morning in meetings and catching up with friends blogs in between.
I'll post some later on waht I think may be a biblical illustration of the emerging church.

Heard these quotes in one of my meetings today, and thought they were interesting.

"We are so often over-managed and under-led." application : church?

"A fool may be a wise man 50 miles away." hmmmmm...

4/07/2003

 
A friend of mine said "Community is the new apologetic". Maybe Community always has been, but instead we reverted to books and theology. I love the story of John as my friend Greg Russinger describes it. "John said that 'The Word became flesh and dwelt among us'. Isn't it interesting that we constantly insist on turning the flesh back into words?"

 
Alright Jeph, here comes Take Two:

Refer to Amos for support. As I continue to dive deepr into the story of Amos in my lectia divina, I find a few layers I had not previously noticed. First, Amos was not simply a poor shephard trumpeting for Israel to embrace Justice. He was not only a shephard, but a shephard of shephards. He also managed fig trees, and no doubt had his own orchard. So, Amos most likely was a man of wealth, not at all unfamiliar with the comforts therein. Second, Amos was most likely one of the first foreign missionaries in Israel, and as such provides us with an outstanding ancient model.

Amos did not travel into Israel, and begin soliciting change, verbally or otherwise. Instead, we find that he went into the centre of culture, and listened. He learned their language, values, and way of life. then and only then, did he begin to utter what God had given him to say. Chapter 4 lists some of the Lord's grievances agaisnt Israel and her neighbors. In each instance, God's grace is poured out to his people to warn them, and yet over and over again you read the words, "yet you still have not returned to me." Finally, the Lord issues one of the scarier statements I've ever read, "therefore Israel, this is what I will do for you. Prepare to meet your God." The language he uses in and after that statement is pretty harsh. Metaphor of how terrible it is to "meet God", lyrics of hatred for hollow religious services and songs that represent nothing more than noise.

In Chapter 5 vs 24, the Lord requests of Israel to "let justice roll on like a river; and righteousness like a never-ending stream."

The three things I have been meditating on primarily are:
1. How can Adoration (also read: songs and liturgy) exist apart from Ethics (read: Justice)?
2. Shouldn't Justice be the characteristic of Israel that distinguishes her from her neighbors? (yet Amos lists her as a comon offender among her neighbors).
3. How have I made Justice a puddle in my life and community, rather than a river?

I love the imagery of the river, but I'm afraid we've constricted Justice to a puddle. One with edges--shallow and stagnant--whose only interaction with the rest of the world comes from an occaisional rain from the heavens. That's what we're discovering in my previous blog with reference to Bridge Aid. What should've become THE extension of our lives into the community has become, among other things, optional. This where programs can in some ways bottle up Justice, and become a distraction from John 13:34.

Well, that's the short end of the "Lost Blog". I still haven't regurgitated Sunday night yet. What an experience that was. More to come**.

 
I would like to take this moment to censor all of the short words running through my head, for the sake of those that travel into this online conversation with me. I just spent 45 minutes on a blog entry that disappeared when I tried to publish it. I feel a bit feeble and exhausted having to work as hard as I am right now to fight those words from taking over. tried to refresh--sorry 'boutcha luck. tried to go back--sorry 'boutcha luck. God help me. I am too pissed off right now to attempt a reprint. maybe later, maybe not. The blog dealt with a deeper search into the story of Amos, charateristics of an emerging missionary, puddles vs. rivers, and adoration's current existance outside of ethics. Good stuff. Dammit. Uh-Oh, here we go...

Sorry, I had to take a moment. Just one. Sort of a matter of returning to balance, if you will (AND I WON'T). Email me if you want more on what I lost, as referred to in the inadequate description above. Guess that's the last time I try to publish without copying first. Frick.

 

And the Blog goes on...
So many thoughts from the weekend. Let me touch on the essentials. Shephard's Circle (The Bridge eqivalent of a leadership circle of those in covenant and service in our community) meeting on Friday. No rest on Saturday. Sunday God continued to blow my mind. Let me submerge...

Friday night was incredible. Worship was focussed on the lament of worldwide injustice and intercession for all those on both side of battle and those involuntarily engaged through the various externalities of the war. As Mike Pilovachi says, it was us responding to our call to sing the songs (read: live the life) of lament, rather than just the "Jesus is my girlfriend, la la la." songs we currently find ourselves wrapped up in. Again, not that there is anything wrong with songs of adolescent infatuation of our divine lover, but something is missed when those songs remain songs and not calls to being (not just action) and change. Anyways, all that to say--worship was incredible, and I've never heard my wife lead with so much passion and authority. She is a silly worship leader, with more talent and wisdom than I can shake five sticks at, but Friday was different. Completely unplanned, spontaneous and simple, but by far one of the most intimate worship experiences of recent memory.

As worship progressed, I found myself interceeding for children and soldiers alike: those giveing their lives willingly, and those having life taken from them. In the process of my detatched, safe--yet very real to "me"--intercession, I found myself chanting over and over, "Lord, Take Notice!". In my desperation, I didn't know what else to say. My mind was being bombarded with images of those in suffering, those crying out that a God would take notice of them and enter their situation to protect, provide, and resue. After a short while, I actually found myself buckled over, crouching and swaying back and forth--almost a sort of travailing for what my spirit was grieving. After another time of chanting "Lord Take Notice!", I immediately became choked up, and began to experience a deep sorrow that i can barely explain. My throught was viciously attacked by a lump that would normally foretell of tears to come. I was choked up completely. My eyes became full of tears--but I could not cry. It was like an emotional traffic jam hit me so hard my body could not release it. I crouched there i silence, trying to reconcile what was transpiring. Immediately I realized that in my innocent plea for God to intervene in situations of destruction and injustice, his answer was one of identifying in my soul an emotion that he felt. I could picture the Lord on his hands and knees over the nation of Iraq, weeping with abandon over the pain and suffering. I then became acutely ashamed that I could not sustain or share in that level of lament. I wished i could experience more. But it was enough that the Father allowed me to share in a moment his heart burden for the innocent. So I just sat there and allowed the music and thoughts of Christ and intercession saturate my being. ::Selah::

After worship, the rest of the night's trivialities went very well. Most of them had depth, but hardly what I'd shared in worship. We dipped into what embracing justice means for our community. Within the Bridge we've created a space for those in the community to interact with those in need in Ventura called Bridge Aid. We began to dialogue about whether in creating a separate name for it four years ago had done it a disservice; and in fact, i think it has. it has made it look to the rest of the community like an optional ministry, instead of what it really is. It should be THE extension of the Bridge into the surrounding community. It is our attitude and actions daily in coming alongside the marginalized (not just the homeless); in allowing others to interrupt our lives. A few things were said that i found were huge, but I'd rather not run the risk of alienating those of you that may be losing the stamina to continue reading this novel. so here's one of them:

"You absolutley cannot truly contend for one another outside of community. Because of that, 'ministries' themselves are merely service (also read: surface)--the introductory posture for community. But unfortunately, they rarely go beyond that. Instead of confining our life's energy to various ministries alone to create community, look at the relationships you find yourselves in. When we embrace them fully in their imperfections, and share in their needs, then we would begin to submerge into true community, moving away the surface." Phil Graf, Nieu Communities

So much to think about, but I'll start a new entry and allow this one to sink in. Break time.

4/05/2003

 
Another much too eventful saturday afternoon. It was a fairly busy week this week at the office, and I was so looking forward to a saturday of rest. Sundays are crammed full of duties and responsibilities, so saturdays are often the only day i can get REST. Not necessarily sleep, just rest. space for regeneration of body and mind--a time to relax with my family. No such luck. had to help clean an outdoor area this morning downtown, as part of a coordinated effort to create space to care for the houseless of Ventura. This evening one of our good friends has a surprise party---which I would gladly skip if it weren't for the expectation his wife has of my family being there. Before that party is an art show that another friend is putting on. I was actually excited to go--now Im grudgingly accepting my committment. God, help me. give me the right attitude, and rest in the business i find myself in.

BTW, had a fantastic discussion last night. More to come late tonight.
jw

P.S. just saw phone booth, hence the picture. great thoughts on honesty and repurcussion of thoughts. more about it later.

4/04/2003

 
HAHAHAHAHAHA (evil laugh)! I am a picture posting animal as of now. Thanks to Jon and his magical HTML. Now it's on. it's soooooo on. Suddenly it occurs to me how many of my inane thoughts I can illustrate. heh heh heh. yep, you know you're excited when you want to go back into your limited archive and attatch pictures to previous blogs.

 
This one's for you Jon. Cheers if it works.

 
Just took an Online Labyrinth.

Anybody with a free moment should go and participate in this online labyrinth. It's great. Don't forget to take your shoes off.

The Labyrinth for the Bridge is coming together well. Im struggling with a bunch of different ideas in creating this space, and its fun watching them come together. Conceptually, I'm battling back and forth over whether walls or lines should be used to guide the paths. I was leaning toward walls until this morning, when it occurred to me that guiding by lines allows for a transparency that may foster a communal context for individual experiences--one of my other battles. I'm really attempting to think beyond creating just another individual experience. Although linearity might want to reduce that objective to stimulatingor directing the sojourners in the same way at the same time, I think there may be a way to allow for the freedom of experience and pace and interconnect them at the same time. My favorite Barista, Vinny, suggested creating some space for interaction that required more than one person to interact. One suggestion I received was to create an installation that was designed for people to lift the cross up off of the ground and stand it up or move it. They suggested that the cross should be oddly weighted so that it would take thought and a group effort. interesting. time to go back to the barista.

 
Thanks Teresa.
I just took the Lord of the Rings Short Personality Test and was labeled: Boromir, Heir of Denethor, Captain of the White Tower. I don't know if that's good or bad. At least it didn't say Smeegle.

 
Deep Thought for the Day...
by Jack Handy

If they ever come up with a Swashbuckling School, I think one of the courses should be "Laughing, Then Jumping Off Something".

This is one of the funniest sites I've ever seen, strictly from a content standpoint. Very, very random. I could spend all day laughing at these.

4/02/2003

 
Blartists?

I'm in the process of attempting to create a labyrinth for our Easter experience at The Bridge. We are creating a three day experience; and the labyrinth will be the first day. I am contemplating seven different stations of the cross that would all run together somehow. Each participant will have to sign up and pick a time slot in advance. There will be three slots that day: 5-7am, 12-2pm, & 5-7pm. I am open to all suggestions on layers, ideas for stations, and ways to evoke different responses to the cross. Thoughts?

 
My lectio divina today is on Luke 14:12-14. The whole idea of justice in our communities of worship is really building tension in my heart right now. That worship is not merely songs in a weekly gathering setting, but the daily sacrifice of our lives before God. That worship from a life that does not embody Justice at its center is hollow and meaningless. If God is, at the core, Justice--then how can we as a people not embrace justice and still worship him? The book of Amos dives headlong into God's reprimand for the people of Israel and his "disgust of their hollow assemblies and the noise of their songs."

I'm not standing in judgement of the church; nor am I recommending a "to do checklist" of activities so that we can embody Justice. I don't want to be the doomsayer of the modern church, pointing my self-righteous finger in disgust. But I am allowing the Spirit of God to point at my life. The areas in which I choose daily to overlook injustice in the lives of others. The areas in which I step over the poor that lie in the way to my safe and efficient life; the way I throw money or a quick fix at the marginalized; the areas where I preserve my schedule and social agenda from the "interuptions" of sharing life in common with those in need. As David Ruis says, "Giving is easy. It is sharing that is difficult".

God, conintue to reveal to me how to embrace injustice as you did. That I would be moved to share all that I have; and to acquire more so that I have more to share. Like Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List, Father, grant me a sense of urgency to care for and protect the least of those I come across. Free me from my complacency, and inspire me to bring the poor, the broken, and the outcast into the center of my life, as they were in Yours.

4/01/2003

 
Greg,

Thanks for the quick tip. Of course, it was not a quick fix, and I learned more about HTML than I ever wanted to know in a lifetime, but I now have a place for comments after my blogs for continued conversation. SIGH. I kow the site is pretty meager at this point, but this is a lot of work to accomplish in one day. I look forward to our continuing conversations. Interesting thoughts on the beauty and shame of pawn shops. I need to chew on that some more.

 
Aaarrrrrrgg!

I've spent the last two hours of my life wrapped up in some of the most inane code!
jw

 
My First Blog.

Welcome to my first blog. If you are a fellow travelor, I welcome you into my story and ask that you would share this journey with me in conversation. If you are one that has wandered onto this blog page in search of truth, depth, or meaning--I welcome you as well. This blog is entitled the searching because I am in a state of discovery--struggling to emerge from the formless mass of relativistic questioning to experience the touchable Christ outside the contexts of religion, fear, and my own western conditioning. I am hungry to embrace a world that I have not seen. Thus begins the virtual reflection of my ongoing endeavor to move from absolute/relative to authentic. Please join me as I move to the other side; a place where faith becomes tangible, stories are essential and not just entertaining, and safety is found in risk.
jw

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