Saturday, February 20, 2010

Violence and the Church

I just finished watching James Carroll’s “Constantine’s Sword” in class, a film by Oren Jacobs. It punches you in the gut with a treatise on the atrocity of the Christian church’s endorsement of hatred and violence through the years.

As it neared ending, I could feel the tears burning the back of my eyes, and my stomach lurched. I’m tired from carrying the weight of this knowledge.

One of the main veins of injustice Carroll traces is the oppression of Jews as “Christ killers”. Along the journey, he interviews a dear old Jew who lost his entire family in Auschwitz. I’ve walked the pathways of Auschwitz. Cried as I discovered the inhumanities committed there against people. Auschwitz was the largest network of German death camps under the Nazi regime (and allowed by the Christian church…). It became the final resting place for hundreds of thousands of Jews, including many Christians of Jewish ethnicity.

Near the end, the film begins to trace a continuation of the patterns of injustice and violence into today with the war against terrorism, a war being fought in the name of freedom—a “God-given right”.

It also makes me think of our opinions and involvement on the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand there are people that are evil and are a threat even to their own people, not just our nation. But I wonder how often we go in with a hero mentality, going in thinking we know best and will push our will upon others because it’s the right way. Perhaps we should take more time to listen, should go in to only support what others are doing.

(Disclaimer: I don’t think I know near enough to really talk intelligently about all this, so please grant me the grace of listening to my tears even if the expression comes rough around the edges…)

Tying back to a comment from class on Tuesday, I can’t help but wonder what our Iraqi brothers and sisters in Christ, our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ, think about our involvement and our stances.

God, save us from ignorance, misunderstanding, and even outright misuse of our faith when it comes to power, politics, and faith. We often feel we are the oppressed, but I would argue there are others far more oppressed and we perhaps are the oppressors.

P.S. You should watch the movie.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A View from the Other Side

My cohort is privileged to join another cohort for our current grad school class.

I'm sitting in the first session, and I'm already so refreshed by perspectives I don't usually get to hear. Perspectives coming from brothers and sisters who love Jesus and love their neighbors, but get to bring a lens of interpretation different than mine due to differing ethnicity, differing context, etc.

Here are a few sound bytes from class challenging us to consider another perspective:

"The radical right wing people..."

"What about the Palestinian Christians...?"

"Some say America was founded as a Christian nation, but talk to the Native American peoples, and the African American peoples and they might have a different perspective to offer..."

I'm realizing all over again how important it is to not be inbred when it comes to theology, politics, and all other arenas of conversation, perspective...To not always talk with people coming from the same context, because they're going to say the same things, think the same things (as independent and self-reflected as we think we are).

Friday, January 29, 2010


My sister’s voice came clearly through the cell phone, “God told me that you are called ‘to be a prophetic singer to the nations of his beauty and holiness.’”

I stare out the car window at the passing Florida bush, and tears filled my eyes. See, I have trouble knowing God’s voice in my life, but I long to know it. Sometimes I fear I’m missing something in my relationship with him that I don’t hear him speak to me in words. So this makes me cry when she continues on, saying God told her he knows my heart to hear his voice.

Earlier this week, I wrote on a scrap of paper, requesting prayer from a dear woman, a prayer warrior. I had requested prayer for clarity about my future, about the fact that I have not idea what I’m doing when I finish my master of divinity in a year and a half. She came to me the next day and said that as she was praying for me God had given her a verse that she needed to share with me. Ruth 2:12, “’May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.’" She encouraged me that I needed to stop being anxious about what God has for my future, and that I need to hide myself under God’s wings, that He would provide for me.

It was a little weird since I don’t usually have people come up to me and tell me they have something from God to tell me, but what made it even weirder and also very cool was that it was exactly what I needed to hear.

Almost like God knew or something.

So these last few days I’ve been reminding myself to rest under God’s wings, to trust his hand in my life and not allow myself to worry.

And this is when my sister’s call came.

I’m not sure yet what it all means—a prophetic singer to the nations?—but I know one thing for sure: I don’t need to be anxious about it. So I’m sitting back and waiting. Resting. Listening. Waiting with an open heart and a sense of anticipation to see what God does next.

You know what else is kind of erie? I clicked a song in my iTunes faves list so I could listen to tunes while I wrote this. It started playing, and suddenly I realized it’s “Cover Me” by Bebo Norman…

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Starfish and the Spider

I just finished reading The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom, and it is a must read for anyone in any kind of leadership position.

First, how can you not be intrigued with a mysterious name like that? The subtitle sheds some light on its topic, however: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. Framan and Beckstrom explore the relationship between centralized organizations and decentralized ones. To set the foundation for this, they unpack fascinating examples like MGM, the Spanish Army, and AT&T for centralized organizations and Skype, Wikipedia, and the Apaches for decentralized ones.

Not only do they explore examples of centralization and decentralization, they explain the factors that make an organization one or the other and also offer helpful suggestions for finding the “sweet spot” between the two extremes in your own context.

Plus, it’s an interesting and fast read – always nice. :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Snow

The first snow of the season came today. It surprised the last days of an unseasonably warm fall, sweeping aside the last leaves clinging to the trees, and frosted the still purple leaves of my lettuce in the garden.

Best of all, it quietly blankets my soul. Whispering as it falls through the dark, grazing across your cheek, thick in the street lights. Suddenly, I am okay with slowing down, savoring, resting.

I never thought of winter as a season of rest before, but I am discovering it anew this year. A few weeks ago, Brian McLaren was sharing at a retreat about one-word prayers for each season in our lives. I expected winter to be a season of pain and questions, but instead he described winter as the quiet season of our soul that follows the death of autumn. It is the season of rest before new growth.

May we settle in and know rest and peace in Christ this holiday season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sacred Moments in a Rec Room

Heaven comes on earth everyday, but we don’t always notice it. I dare you to watch for it though.

One of these moments snuck up on me the other day.

We were at a retreat for school. A group of us gathered after the evening session to continue the conversation and ask the speaker additional questions we had. We huddled in the rec room, some sitting cross-legged on the floor, some on the pool table, some in the few chairs, but all leaning forward with the expectancy of disciples eager to learn from a master.

Much of our conversation ended up centering around the larger issues our churches often miss—issues of prejudice, poverty, and violence. At one point, someone named Albert courageously opened his heart to ask “are the [white] people in this room on our [minority] side?”, and I had the privilege to answer with the others in the room, “yes, we are fighting the same fight, dear brother. Thank you for being willing to ask rather than just putting me in a hated category because of my skin color.”

It was a sacred moment.

Thank you Albert, for reminding me that there is a perspective outside my own. That there are others bringing another side to the table that I need to hear about. Thank you for sharing from your heart and for opening your heart to us. I hope you’ll find that it’s safe to have us there.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rice & Noodles - THE BOMB!

So, I know that I just dated myself back to 1998 by saying the bomb, but - regardless - if you're in the Lancaster area you totally need to go eat at Rice & Noodles! We just experienced it tonight for the first time, and enjoyed great conversation with a super cool person (you rock Deb :) over wontons, spring rolls, and friend rice.

Menu: Yummy Vietnamese - think delish spring rolls, tantalizing friend rice, famous wonton soup and salad bowls, refreshing jasmine lime iced tea, the list could go on.

They not only have amazing food, but also an amazing story.

Story: One family, flees from Vietnam and successfully starts a group of restaurants in New Orleans only to be displaced by Katrina. After being evacuated to Houston, they relocated to Lancaster where they had a family connection. Now they're sharing their culinary talents with us here!

Click here if you'd like to read more about their story.

P.S. They're between Boston Market & that bright yellow chinese place on the right as you're coming down Oregon Pike into the city.