Thursday, January 31, 2008

Can someone try too hard to walk with God?


I know that sounds odd, but relationship with the Living God cannot be earned by human effort, even extensive human effort. And sometimes those trying the hardest to make it happen, find themselves furthest from it. It breaks my heart to find people there. Religion never tires of telling us to try harder and giving us an increasing array of tasks to ‘help’ us find him.

Our self-effort still focuses on us, however, and we end up missing Jesus, who is right there to lead us into relationship with his Father. This is something he does at our invitation, not something we can do by our diligence.

Recently I met a man who was struggling with this very thing. If a relationship with God could be earned, this man would have earned it. He is a humble man, with an honest heart. He had spent decades in Bible study, prayer, teaching seminars, and local congregational leadership, trying to do whatever he knew to please God and was frustrated at how fruitless it had been. He felt as if God was a million miles away and had abandoned him in some of his greatest struggles. The first time I rode with him, he poured out decades of anguish and told me how empty he felt.

Over the next few days we talked about learning to live in Father’s affection, rather than trying to earn it. I encouraged him to relax in his walk with Jesus, to give up trying to control it and simply let Jesus take him for the ride of his life. It wasn’t easy for him. It isn’t easy for any of us. Religion has taught us that our relationship with God depends on our diligence, our commitment and our effort. It robs us of true relationship while piling on obligations that wear us out. I don’t know exactly what finally connected with him. I rarely do. But two weeks after I returned home I received a letter from him.

You can read the letter and the rest of the article here

I found this over on Wayne Jacobsen's site and found myself relating to a lot of what it said. Do we sometimes get too wrapped up in doing church instead of being the church? I am the type of person that stresses out about stuff pretty easily when things start to get overwhelming. I think I need to relax a little bit more and just let God be God and rest in His affection more than I do.

I've posted earlier that I'm in a really different place right now as far as this journey I am on. I think it is a lot easier to relax and listen for His direction than it is to get caught up in programmatic things. I'm still on this journey, so I don't know where it will end up.

Peace and be MoVeD!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don't be discouraged - never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.

Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instaed of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence.


Romans 8:31 Psalm 46:1-3

Taken from the devotional book Jesus Calling - Enjoying Peace in His Presence
written by Sarah Young

Monday, January 28, 2008

This past weekend

I got back from the orphanage yesterday afternoon after we drove in a steady rain the entire way. From Imuris, Sonora, Mexico to Phoenix it rained steadily and the heaviest rain was between Tucson and Phoenix on Interstate 10. If you don't know anything about I-10 between Tucson and Phoenix, let me tell you this. It is very busy and has only two lanes. I hate driving it but I guess we really have no choice.

This trip this past weekend was awesome. Patty and two of the youth went down Friday night. I left early Saturday morning with my co-worker Leslie, her husband Paul and their two kids Jaden and Charlie. Paul brought his big truck and we threw some furniture in the back to take down to Hannah who is living down there now.

We got there right around lunch time and when we drove up to the front gate at the orphanage I saw the De La Paz kids sitting on the benches outside the gate waiting. It was awesome seeing them there waiting for Leslie and Paul and finally getting to meet Jaden and Charlie. I told them the last trip that Leslie and Paul would be there on this trip with their two kids. Well they hit it off right where they left off the last time. Hugs and kisses, and a very warm welcome to Jaden and Charlie. I got the impression that Paul and Leslie were a bit apprehensive about bringing them along, but within the hour, it was obvious that it was the right decision to bring them. Jaden fit right in and became one of the kids. He really didn't need any supervision and he adapted to the kids very well. Charlie was passed around from person to person and the kids loved to hold him.

Guadalupe found me right away and we greeted each other with a big hug. We then found Patty and Hannah and got permission to take our kids to lunch in Imuris and a place called Palo Verde. Good food and fellowship was had by all. We spent the day with them into the evening and Paul was helping Carlos (the handyman guy at the orphanage) with some plumbing issues in the boys shower area. I know they appreciated Pauls workmanship and Paul enjoyed doing it. Paul is also going to purchase some tools for Carlos so he can repair things better.

We left the orphanage around 7 or 8 pm and went to Hannah's new house. Her and her sister had spent a lot of time fixing the place up and painting. It is really a very nice place and she took all of us in for the night. After we ate dinner at Hannah's they all went back to the orphanage for a bit. I stayed at Hannah's with Leslie and Paul and kids and we just chatted up a storm. The kids were pooped and crashed out. I was tired myself and went to bed too. The others came back around 10 pm or so and went to bed too. Hannah's place is awesome and much roomier than the apartment at the orphanage that we usually stay in.

Hannah has lost her job and pick up her final paycheck this week. I have decided to send her some financial support on a regular basis. Just pray for her, that God will protect and provide for her as she is there giving all of herself to the least of these, the kids at the orphanage.

We went to the orphanage in the morning and hung out with the kids then we left around 10 am or so. It was raining pretty good at that time anyhow and we knew it was not going to end any time soon as it was a fairly big storm system that we knew about before we even left. But hey, we'll take all the rain we can get here in Arizona.

Another person has taken over the Northern Ireland trip so I have that off of my plate now. Tonight we start the weekly Amadeo Youth meetings at the clubhouse. I'm in a really strange place right now in where God wants me to be and what I should be doing, so for those that pray, say a prayer for me that the answer will be clear. If you don't pray, then send me some good vibes or karma or whatever.

Peace, and be MoVeD by God's love.......................

Friday, January 25, 2008

Relationship not Religion - Freedom not Conformity

A fellow brother sent me this today, without even realizing what my day started like. Isn't God cool like that? This was the part that really hit my heart the most. It was written by Wayne Jacobsen back in 1997.

I'm heading to the orphanage in the morning so enjoy this good word and I'll let you all know how the kids are doing when I get back. Peace!

Relationship not Religion

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
These are the words Jesus prayed in the Garden, shortly before his crucifixion. He didn't die to give birth to another religion, but engage people in a relationship with him and his Father.

It has always bothered me that institutional Christianity doesn't look any different to the world than any of the other religions. We who allegedly walk with the living God have the same traditions, obligations, shrines, sacrifices and ceremonies that they have. Oh, we call them by different names and tell them we are different. But it certainly doesn't look that way to outsiders.

Christianity is not another religion. It is not a code of ethics. It is not participation in ceremonies or signing some creed. Christianity is a relationship to the Risen Christ, his Father and the Holy Spirit. It is intended to be a relationship more real, more loving, more transforming than any other we've ever known in this life.

He wants to be at our side when we waken in the morning and walk with us through every step of our day. He wants to be the shoulder we cry on when we hurt, the resource we count on every moment, and the ever-present guide that teaches us how to walk away from the bondage of self and embrace life as Father knows it to be. Then we can be like him in the world, loving others as we have been loved.

It is called relational Christianity, because it is only caught up in loving him and loving others. Period. That's all he asked us to do, and it is what religion has most failed at over 2,000 years. We are committed to helping people discover the depth of that relationship in him and then discover healthy ways believers can relate together without contempt, manipulation, expectation and the arrogance of setting themselves above others. That's not only the way we'll treat other believers, but unbelievers around us as well.

Freedom not Conformity

That kind of relationship however doesn't grow where people are burdened down with religious obligations and duties. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

Paul encouraged the church at Galatia to that freedom, even though he warned them not to use it as an excuse to run off and appease the flesh. But even when people did, he didn't revoke the freedom of those who were growing to know Father. His letters defined that freedom even as they warned that false leaders would come to take that freedom away. He knew believers would only grow in an environment of freedom.

To live in the love of an awesome Father, free to respond to him as he leads you, even if that means you make mistakes now and then.

To walk without guilt or condemnation. Recognize that transformation is a life-long process that Jesus works in us by our security in his love, not something we do for him out of fear.

To be real. To feel what you feel; to ask what you need to ask, to be wrong where you are wrong, and to extend that same freedom to others.

To be liberated from accountability to human leaders who seek to take the place of Jesus in the church by telling others what they think he would have them do.

To love other brothers and sisters freely, serving them the way Jesus leads you and not trying to conform to their expectations of what a 'good Christian' should do for them.

To live free of bitterness and hurt, even where religious institutions (and those who run them) have failed you. We've all got plenty wrong with us, so there can be no end to the generosity we can extend others in their weakness.

Those who do not understand this freedom, have lost touch with the head and deny the power of the cross. When that happens people end up lording over others, seeking to conform them to their standard of Christian behavior. Enduring transformation, however, can never come that way. It can only spring from within as the fruit of our friendship with Jesus.

An interview with Obama by Christianity Today

You've talked about your experience walking down the aisle at Trinity United Church of Christ, and kneeling beneath the cross, having your sins redeemed, and submitting to God's will. Would you describe that as a conversion? Do you consider yourself born again?

I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful. I didn't 'fall out in church' as they say, but there was a very strong awakening in me of the importance of these issues in my life. I didn't want to walk alone on this journey. Accepting Jesus Christ in my life has been a powerful guide for my conduct and my values and my ideals.

There is one thing that I want to mention that I think is important. Part of what we've been seeing during the course this campaign is some scurrilous e-mails that have been sent out, denying my faith, talking about me being a Muslim, suggesting that I got sworn in the U.S. Senate with a Quran in my hand or that I don't pledge allegiance to the flag. I think it's really important for your readers to know that I have been a member of the same church for almost 20 years, and I have never practiced Islam. I am respectful of the religion, but it's not my own. One of the things that's very important in this day and age is that we don't use religion as a political tool and certainly that we don't lie about religion as a way to score political points. I just thought it was important to get that in there to dispel rumors that have been over the Internet. We've done so repeatedly, but obviously it's a political tactic of somebody to try to provide this misinformation.

read the full interview here

In essential things, unity;
in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.
Phillip Melanchthon

Monday, January 21, 2008

Universal Healthcare

I just read one of the best articles I have ever read about what is wrong with our healthcare system. You can read it below and I'll also include this link where I found it. It was written by Jack Legg and I found it on the BWC website. Read it and think about it:

Sanctity of Life

Jack Legg

They didn’t know what else to do, they said. Her teeth had been killing her for days. The college students volunteering at the community shelter winced in pain as the stoic woman related the story from the previous weekend at her aunt’s house.

Step one: boil a pair of needle-nose pliers on the stove. Step two: 6 shots of Crown Royal to dull the pain. Step 3: extraction. This part gets messy, so you might want to put down some newspaper under her head.

“Is it scary?” they ask.

“Yeah, it’s scary.”

But when two family members are holding you down as a third approaches you in preparation to rip the teeth from your head, there’s no turning back.

Typically, my volunteers try not to look shocked or appalled when our neighbors are sharing their life experiences, but on this occasion, their facial expressions betrayed them. I wish I had my Polaroid so I could have captured their looks of horror and disappointment and confusion. They did not understand why this woman was saying such things. Couldn’t she have gone to the dentist? Why were these people living in such deplorable conditions? They weren’t in the darkest jungles of the world, miles from civilization. They were in Ohio.

I used to make that same face my volunteers were making. I used to be just as confused as they were that day. But then, I heard stories of elderly shut-ins cutting their expensive pills in half to make them last longer, even though any doctor will tell you that tampering with the dosage does more harm than good. I met the mothers who have their babies swallow adult doses of Advil for their upset stomach because they have nothing else in the house. And the only reason they had Advil in the first place was because it was given to them by a neighbor since the local pharmacy was so expensive. I looked at the nasty scars left behind from the injuries that went untreated when families could not afford to go to a hospital. I am not trying to be sensational. These are just the people I know. They have no choice. No insurance means no options. If they go to the doctor, there will be medical bills. When one is already at poverty level, medical expenses are crippling.

Even if they have insurance, they are still likely to face hell on earth. High deductibles and endless lists of non-covered conditions or exemptions make it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a poor man to get coverage. Whether or not their medical bills are paid for depends on whether or not it is profitable for the insurance company. After all, what better way is there to make a profit than to deny the claims or your clients?

So, I told some of my Christian friends that it is time for us to consider supporting universal healthcare. When I said that, I found out something interesting. I used to think we Christians were pro-life. It turns out, we are simply anti-abortion. When I began talking about universal healthcare, you would have thought that I suggested we lynch Pat Robertson.

I am still kind of hurt and confused over the exchanges I had with some of my fellow believers. I cannot figure out how people can be so radically pro-life, yet ignore the suffering of the poor and disenfranchised. There are 47 million people without healthcare coverage in the United States, and 50 million people are under insured. They are cold and hurting and bleeding to death on a daily basis, but the majority of the church is leaving them curled up alongside the road.

Why would we be concerned? We don’t see them. We don’t have to. With so many mechanisms in place to keep ourselves comfortable, many of us can go through our whole life and never interact with them. We have the luxury of looking the other way while they puke their guts out or writhe in pain or settle for the dimebag they find in their cousin’s house to take the edge off. Interestingly enough, we’re the ones who fought so hard to bring them into this world.

But what am I talking about? It is not only the poor who are suffering. The healthcare crisis is touching people across socioeconomic boundaries. I happen to work among the poor, so I am more sensitive to their plight, but there are many middle class folks who can’t get the procedures they need because their insurance won’t cover it. Apparently, when money talks, there is no room for a second opinion. I sure am glad that the ambiguous guy in that claims office hundreds of miles away is wise enough to decide which medical procedures we need and which ones we don’t. What do those doctors know anyway?

I am sure everyone reading this has some kind of horror story about the domestic war on terrorism, as embodied by the healthcare industry. Theirs is a terrorism of exploitation, preying upon the weak and sick. Ours is a terrorism of indifference, turning a blind eye to the madness.

In 2003, a bill was introduced to Congress proposing a universal health care system. This bill, H.R. 676, has been reintroduced each session since then. Recently, this bill has gotten a lot of attention from the media, partly due to the recent release of Michael Moore’s documentary about the American healthcare system.

I have been thinking about this a lot, mainly because of the stories I keep hearing from my friends in the inner city, and I came to the conclusion that the church ought to contact our Members of the House to get their commitment to back H.R. 676, and ask our Senators to introduce a companion bill.

I know. Our Evangelical/WASP heritage tells us that socialized medicine is the biggest threat since mad cow disease. But as I told my friends, before you freak out and start yelling about losing your choice of doctor or standing in line for 97 days or having to pay a ton in taxes, at least read the bill. Our friend John Conyers in Michigan can tell you more about it
here. Representative Conyers has included a financial breakdown of the plan as well.

Now, here’s the part of the discussion where all of us are transported through time and space, back to the junior high dance. The boys gather on one side of the room, the girls gather on the other, and we all stare pensively at the ones we’ve sworn never to associate with. Universal healthcare is typically a Democrat thing, and Jesus followers are Republicans.

So, that settles that.

I refuse to make this a partisan debate, for several reasons. First of all, I kind of like to use my brain. Not to say that everyone who affiliates themselves with a political party is just succumbing to groupthink, but I do know Christians who are Republicans simply because that is what they were told they were from birth (which, by the way, only happened because the Democrats were not successful in destroying them while they were in the womb!). So, to the large percentage of Evangelicals who cling to their Republican heritage with unyielding, unquestioning loyalty, let me say this: just because you don’t like donkeys, it does not give you the right to be a jackass.

The reverse is true for you Evangelical Democrats (all three of you). Party affiliation is not an excuse to flush your brain down the toilet and make every decision with your political gag reflex. It has become far too convenient for Christians to slap a label on people and group them into teams without having to think about issues with any amount of intelligence. It is easier to beat our chest and grunt, “Us Republican good, you Democrat bad,” than to actually think through the implications of our traditional affiliations. Come on. Paris Hilton has more depth than that.

Second, it should not be about us and them anyway. Although many Christians aren’t satisfied unless they are fighting with someone, this issue in particular is deeper than a feud. Life issues transcend political party affiliation. I don’t care if you are blue or red, liberal or conservative, Obama or Huckabee. When your kid needs medical attention, what does it matter? Lest you think your bumper sticker means something, nobody cares who you are against. The world is more interested in seeing what you will stand for.

Was that blunt? I’m sorry. I have a hard time removing the emotional aspect of this discussion, so my words tend to be raw. This is not an impersonal issue to me. It is not an esoteric debate up in the clouds somewhere with hypothetical situations and imagined consequences. These are names and faces. The people I love are out there in the dark pulling out each other’s teeth with rusty tools. Aren’t we supposed to do something about that? Or is preaching the gospel at them enough?

Listen, I don’t know who you are backing in the next election. Really, I don’t care. The fact of the matter is, our healthcare system is broken. I don’t know if H.R. 676 is the answer or not. But I do know that if we are going to be pro-life, we need to look beyond the fetus. People are sick and dying and the odds are stacked against them. Insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations are getting richer and richer at the expense of suffering families. If the prophets of old weren’t kicking it with Jesus right now, they would be rolling over in their graves. We need the church to step up, now more than ever. The world is in desperate need of theology. I don’t mean brain theology, mind you, I mean theology with hands and feet, theology that walks and talks and lives. We need more than orthodoxy. We need orthopraxy.

Despite what our preachers may tell us next Sunday, institutionalized sin is just as ugly as personal sin. We seem to forget that. The day adultery became more sinful than big business trampling the poor on their way to the bank, well, that was a sad day indeed.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Lots going on in my life at this time.

Last night I took some of the Amadeo Youth to the Rage Music Festival way out on the West side. Project 86 closed out the night headlining on the main stage. I also enjoyed this group called Flatfoot 56 who really compared to Flogging Molly. Celtic Punk Rock with a Christian twist. It was way cool.

Patty took them out there this morning and dropped them off. I get to pick them all up this evening. I get off of work at 10 pm and will drive out there to get them.

Tomorrow Patty and I are both going with the same kids and I get to see Red again who are very good in concert. So we will not be at church tomorrow.

I am going to lunch with Robert Monday to talk about Amadeo stuff and Tuesday we're going over to Ben's for dinner.

Youth starts back up on the 28th and we'll meet every Monday night through June. I love that Amadeo takes a break twice a year to relax. It's healthy.

Going to the orphanage next weekend and will be heading down Saturday with my co-worker Leslie and her family. Patty will be leaving Friday evening with the group.

I will be meeting with the Youth that will be going to Northern Ireland with me this summer to have our letter writing party to solicit donations and/or prayer for this 3 week Project Serve trip.

I really want to start a recovery group at Amadeo for those struggling with addiction. I need to meet with another guy in our church who is willing to partner with me in getting this started.

We will be using the Celebrate Recovery material I think. I need to review it first before I make a final decision. But I can tell you this, if I am called to anything, it is to those who are struggling in this area.

Patty and Shannon started a crash course at the Community College in conversational spanish. That will be every Thursday night from 8 to 10 pm for about 10 or 12 weeks. Their first class was this past Thursday and Patty really enjoyed it.

Lots going on, but it's all good.

Be nice, be blessed and be MoVeD!

I'm officially nervous now

So Hillary defeats Obama in Nevada. I don't know about anyone else, but that certainly shocked me.

On the Republican side, Romney won by a landslide which also surprised me.

It's gonna be interesting to see who is going to get the nomination in both parties.

As it stands right now, I am still pulling for Obama.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kid Rock - Amen Music Video

Married to the GOP

David P. Gushee wrote an excellent editorial in todays USA Today titled A plea to evangelicals — from an evangelical

The "how" problem, among other things, is that they are married to the Republican Party and have therefore compromised the political independence of Christianity and the church. This is a huge mistake, an error of biblical proportions, because it verges on idolatry — after all, "You shall have no other gods before me."

One obvious sign of this was the assumption in the Christian Right that its leaders would endorse a Republican presidential candidate — that it was just a matter of which of those GOP gentlemen was the best Christian choice. Endorsing a Democrat was and is inconceivable.

Once any group of Christians gives itself away so completely to a political party, it ceases to be the church. The church becomes a branch office of the group's political party of choice — The First Republican Church in America. This is the root problem, and it leads to all the other specific mistakes that follow: using the church (or parachurch organizations) and its considerable resources for direct or veiled candidate endorsements, political strategizing, dissemination of essentially partisan "voter guides," and get-out-the-vote efforts. A whole lot more than tax status is threatened when churches go over so completely to the business of secular politics.

The "what" problem is more subtle but just as important. Conservative evangelicals generally offer an unbiblically narrow policy agenda focused on just a few moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage instead of tackling the full range of biblical concerns, which include poverty, oppression and war. And when they do engage some of these other issues, such as the foreign policy of our nation, they are (ironically) not Christian enough. Their faith doesn't inform their vote in a way that makes sense biblically. They are getting their values from somewhere else — not from Jesus — which is why they look so uncomfortable whenever anyone raises the "Jesus issue" in relation to their support for, say, torture.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Me, A Church Lady? How the Hell Did That Happen?

I found this over on Jim Palmers blog featuring the journey of Anne. Now this IS doing church friends. I am continuing on this journey with God, learning that church is not a program, or a list of do's and don'ts. It is simply about loving God and loving others. Read the post here.

I’ve done things a little backwards compared to others. I became a Christian in my 30s, converted to Catholicism, then wandered away, explored Buddhism, and spent two years studying in a new age center, where I eventually realized I missed Jesus. I didn’t truly become part of a church community until I was 50 years old, so my experience and opinion of church might differ a bit than others. This is what I’ve discovered:

There are churches with strange names. Like Threads.

People in church dress in shorts and blue jeans and have tattoos and piercings.

Rock bands play worship music, which sometimes includes tunes by Pink Floyd or The Who. Church music also includes Gregorian Chant and Native American flute compositions. Sometimes you sit in silent meditation or practice Lectio Divina.

You break into small groups during the spiritual talk and discuss things with people you met just seconds ago.

Multisensory elements are part of the worship gathering and could include chair races, Let’s Make a Deal game shows, tying strings around each others’ wrists, journaling on a prayer wall, or having someone tattooed during the spiritual talk. An art gallery is part of the sanctuary.

Lee, the pastor, makes a point each week of welcoming visitors who might not believe in God but are just there to ask questions. Church is for asking questions.

Lee, the pastor, likes people to just call him Lee.

In church there are middle-class married professionals with families. In church there are ex-heroin addicts, former alcoholics, ex-porn addicts, former abusers, those formerly abused, and physically and mentally impaired people.

There are no programs, no men’s ministry, no women’s ministry, no youth services, no single’s groups. Your pastor believes in people saying no to doing too much so they don’t burn out in church ministry.

There are people who meet in community groups all thrown together regardless of age, gender or marital status. Not all the people leading groups or in groups are Christ followers. Some are skeptics with lots of questions. (Church and community groups are for asking questions.)

You don’t know who your pastor votes for because you don’t talk about politics in church. In church there are very conservative Republicans and very liberal Democrats.

You don’t use Christianese words because you exist for the unchurched and some words might make others feel excluded.

The pastor is humble and full of love for God and people, and with his words draws people into a deeper encounter with the love of Christ. The elders ask who would miss our church if it disappeared tomorrow, and that leads them to meet with the mayor to find out where we are needed in our community.

There are no church gatherings one Sunday so you can take busses to one of the rougher parts of town to do energy audits so people can receive new insulated windows through a grant.

No offerings are taken, there’s just a giving box at the back of church.

Church friends don’t think it’s odd if you have friends that are atheists, Buddhists or gay.

You learn that the heart of a church is serving others instead of coming to be served.

At Christmas you decide to “worship more, spend less, give more and love all” and raise enough money to build several wells for villages in Africa.

You find out church is not a building, but people with a deep love for God who want to live life in community with each other and love and serve others.

You discover (I discover) that this spiritual community is family, and you are home.

RAGE 2008 Jan 18-20 2008 Phoenix, AZ

Attention all Amadeo youth. Call me if you need a ride to this. Caution to parents...I will not be held responsible for bumps and bruises obtained in the "pit". ;-)

Christians, Politics and E-Mails…Oh My!

I keep getting these emails stating that Obama is a closet Muslim and that these can be verified at Funny...when I go to snopes to check them out, it states that these claims are false. Why would someone forward an email like that without checking out whether or not it is factual? Here is a great article written by Melisa May that I found on the BWC this morning. Check it out here.

She says...and I agree with her:

But here is what angers me the most about these emails. As believers in Christ we have been called to speak the truth, the whole truth. I daresay that includes emails. Even in emails we forward. To new believers we warn, “don’t take a verse out of context” lest you be led astray into falsehood. Why are we not quick to apply that same principle to other written words? Had any one person who forwarded the email done his or her job and verified the information before sending it out they would have concluded that at most, that there is no evidence that the claims are true or, at minimum, the claims are misrepresented and incomplete.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Found this over on Todd's blog this evening and it gave me some wonderful encouragement.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." -Jesus

Then & Now

I am continuing to read Jim Palmer's (author of Divine Nobodies) new book Wide Open Spaces. Shane Claiborne (Activist, Author, Recovering Sinner- says this about Jim's book-

"Jim knows the mess of the world. Jim knows the mess of the church. And he still has the audacity to believe that love wins. Here he has created a book that cannot help but leave you feeling closer to God, with a smile that isn't just for Sunday mornings, and filled with the hope that another world is possible."

Here is another excerpt I read last night from chapter 6-

Through religious conditioning, I was prone to locate spiritual realities outside myself. But little by little I was discovering them inside. Here are some examples:

Then: God is up in the sky.
Now: God dwells within me.

Then: I go to church to meet with God.
Now: God's presence is inside me.

Then: Christianity is me trying to be like Christ.
Now: Christianity is Christ's life in and as me.

Then: The benefit of knowing God is the love, joy, and peace God brings into the circumstances of my life.
Now: God inside me is my love, joy, and peace.

Then: Pastors, leaders, and teachers guide, teach, and train me.
Now: The indwelling Spirit is my primary teacher.

Then: Changing my behaviour is the goal.
Now: A new mind and heart is what God provides.

Then: People are as they appear in their physical human identity.
Now: What's most true about a person is his or her invisible spirit identity.

Then: The kingdom of God will one day come down onto earth.
Now: The kingdom of God exists now within me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

France best, U.S. worst in preventable death ranking

"The fact that other countries are reducing these preventable deaths more rapidly, yet spending far less, indicates that policy, goals and efforts to improve health systems make a difference," Schoen added in a statement.

read the entire article here

The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America

The Next Chapter by Brian McLaren

In two weeks, you will have your first chance to read Jim Wallis' latest book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America. You'll soon hear about the upcoming book tour, a new website featuring the book and a slate of other activities planned around the launch.

I had the chance to read the manuscript a few months ago, and I feel real excitement about what this book can mean to our personal lives as sojourners, to our faith communities seeking justice and peace, and to our nation and world that stand at a real crossroads.

Three years ago, when God's Politics first came out, it took everyone by surprise. God's Politics struck a nerve – it diagnosed a nation that was polarized and a faith that had been hijacked. No one expected it to make the bestsellers lists. But because so many of us read the book with enthusiasm and encouraged others to do so, a new national conversation about faith and politics opened up. Sojourners' message and visibility reached a new level as many of us said, "At last someone is speaking up for the kind of faith I actually believe in. At last there's a Christian leader articulating a message that isn't an embarrassment to me." God's Politics proclaimed a faith that can and should change the big things – like poverty and war. As Jim was featured on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The O'Reilly Factor, Meet the Press, CNN, NPR, and other high-profile places, we saw a new kind of Christianity become part of the national dialogue. As Jim often says, the monologue of a polarizing, combative, and narrow version of Christian faith was over, and a new dialogue had begun.

Now it's time for the next chapter. When The Great Awakening arrives in bookstores on Jan. 22, the conversation will get more practical as Jim explains how we can turn this new dialogue into action. Thousands of us will be reading stories of how spiritually-driven movements have led the charge for change in the past and why we're on the cusp of another such awakening right now. It's a book meant to equip everyday Christians with ways to talk about our deepest values and highest hopes for a better world, and then to translate our values and hopes into action.

We'll need your help, again. Our hope is that like God's Politics, this book will inspire another wave of commitment, and the tide of justice will continue to rise. We'll soon be inviting you to check out the book and to tell others about it, too. As an author and an avid reader, I have a feeling for how important a book release can be. On behalf of the whole Sojourners board and staff, I want to thank you for your support, prayers, and involvement around the release of The Great Awakening.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


So I finished Wayne Jacobsen's book abd have started on Jim Palmer's Wide Open Spaces Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity.

I have been waiting to start this book since I got it right before Christmas. So far, it is a really great read.

I will be sharing some stuff from the book that move me. Here is the first one from Chapter two...

For years I was taught that "faith" is believing there is a God even if you can't experience him. Maybe instead, faith is believing that what you are experiencing is God.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hillary tops Obama in N.H.

Sad but true!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Healthy Relationships

I just finished reading a book by Wayne Jacobsen called He Loves Me! This part touched me deeply. I have always been turned off by the "turn or burn" types of evangelism. I would rather bask in Father's love and let that show through me. Check this part out from his book...

You will soon find that your security in God's love and your awareness of his unlimited patience with you will redefine the other relationships in your life.

Instead of demanding that others conform to what you think is right, you will find yourself letting others have their own journey. By no longer manipulating them to what you think is best you can allow them the same freedom God gives you. You will let them choose their own course based on nothing but the clarity of truth as they understand it and the willingness of their conscience. It is the task of the Holy Spirit to convict, not yours.

Instead of despising people who are broken by sin you will be touched by the depth of bondage that holds them captive. You will also see better how the Father responds to them and then know how you can as well. Sometimes that means you'll stand back and let the consequences of sin take their course as the father did with his prodigal son. At other times it means you'll jump into the mess with them and help them find God's way out.

Instead of saying what you think people want to hear, you'll look for ways to be gently honest with them. Human love seeks people's comfort at the expense of truth. God's love seeks people's comfort in the midst of truth. He doesn't avoid the difficult moment or hold his peace just to be nice. As you experience that in your relationship with him you'll find yourself unable to be disingenuous with people.

Finally, by looking to God as the resource for your needs you will find yourself not overloading your friendships with expectations that are easily disappointed. by vesting all of our hope in God's ability to meet our needs we will not need to force our friends to do it. i know God will often use other believers to extend his gifts and graces to me, but now i also know I don't get to choose the vessel he uses. In other words, I always look for how God is revealing himself to me through other believers, but I don't trick myself into thinking it has to come from the specific person I want him to use.

Disappointed expectations destroy relationships because we look to others in ways God wants us to look to him. Such expectations set us up for enduring frustration. However, when we give up our expectations of people, we'll find God uses some of the most unlikely people to lend us a hand. Our frustration will yield to gratefulness however, whenever, and through whomever God uses others to touch us or us to touch others.

pages 183-184

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Debates on ABC

So Patty (she really hates politics) is down at the orphanage this weekend. She went down with Hannah and Jen. Hannah will not be coming back as she is moving down there for good. Shannon is at work but should be coming home shortly. Once she sees what I am watching on TV, my guess is she'll be out of here within 15 minutes. This leaves me and the TV tuned into 4 hours of debate. I am looking forward to it. And may Obama do his best! :-)


My brother joins the other side :-)

The following is a post my brother wrote over on his Xanga site located here. I love my brother man! He's always been there for me, has a great family, and is a very smart intelligent guy.'s his post...I absolutely loved it...

Coming Out For Obama '08

i'm carl kincaid, and i'm a republican. the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem they say. . . so, there, i did it. i gotta say i was ecstatic when obama won in iowa. it would have been better for me had I come out for him before the caucus; but, i had to tell the musical jokes i found in the previous post. you know, priorities and all.

anyway, do i like huckabee, but i really like obama. i believe huckabee is a believer. i believe obama is a believer. i believe bush is a believer. bush, however has alienated the majority of the public because he has focused on legislating his morality and not appreciated the fact that this is impossible. YOU CAN'T EXPECT A SECULAR WORLD TO ACT LIKE A GODLY WORLD. TRYING TO FORCE IT BY LAW, RATHER THAN ENLIGHTENING IT WITH LOVE, HE AND HIS ILK HAVE, IMO, DONE MORE HARM THAN GOOD. there, i said it. and i feel much better. . . while i don't appreciate some of the social agendas of obama's campaign - and i'd tell him and his supporters so - i do think he respects my freedom as much as anyone elses. he appears to be the type of person that can bring people together. lead from a fresh perspective that will hopefully purge washington of the hate and partisanship that has gotten us where we are. whereas i fear huckabee would be more of the same we currently have (though i don't think a republican has a chance in you-know-where of getting in after all the crap bush's administration has pulled). again, not to bash bush, but his administration has been a failure. at home and abroad.

and the classic "religious right" doesn't seemed to have brought forth any real solutions for a lost world through the political process. ". . . it seems they're all out in their evangelical ghettos, and they stick their heads out just long enough to yell at the rest of us and tell us what a mess we're making of everything"* it's time for change.

i believe clinton would be more of the same, from the other side of the political aisle. the pendulum swing would be pretty drastic, i think there would be repression of evangelicals as pay-back for some of recent history. it would get ugly quick. so obama is the man for me. stand for change

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obama Wins Iowa

The Scottish and Irish

At a recent U2 concert in Glasgow, lead singer Bono asked the audience for total quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands, once every few seconds.

Holding the audience in total silence, he said into the microphone, 'Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies.'

A voice with a broad Scottish accent from the front of the crowd pierced the quiet... 'Well, foockin' stop doin it then, ya evil bastard!'

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Years Weekend Orphanage trip

For this New Years Eve weekend trip I'll let the pictures do most of the talking. About 25 of them actually. I would also like to give a special thanks to Dave from Rather than Working who donated some money for the orphans on this trip. I went down later than the rest of the gang and missed out on what the money was used for. It provided a breakfast for the entire orphanage consisting of eggs, chorizo, tortillas and hot sauce. Hannah and Patty and the gang served it up and I was told that there were absolutely no dirty plates and each kid got two breakfast burritos. These kids normally get beans and rice 3x a day so this was an extra special treat for them. Thanks Dave! A couple of photos of the breakfast are included. I hope that you all have a healthy and happy 2008. Be well! Enjoy the photos...