Saturday, May 31, 2008

ninehundredplus. timestwo. unplugged.

“There are a lot of people we know who profess to be Christians but then you occasionally meet someone who really knows the Lord and has spent time with the living Jesus” (Ryan Wyatt).

I concur.

It is not that there are a lack of people who claim to be Christians, or even those who honestly try and live their lives out in obedience to God or those who seek him outside the Sunday services, etc., it’s just that, in recent months, it has become clear to me that that this Christian walk was meant to look a great deal different than it does in my own life. And my life is probably a classic example of someone who seeks God on matters, someone who aims to be obedient, someone who considers herself a Christian week in and week out, someone who desires to grow in her faith, yada yada yada. And I am probably like you and you are probably like me, and together we probably cannot say that we have spent time with the living Jesus, or maybe we have, but maybe it was one profound weekend last year, or that time in France on the Mediterranean, or that phenomenal retreat, or whatever. But I am recently under the (correct) assumption that knowing, knowing the living Jesus should be something that can honestly be claimed by every individual and on a consistent basis. As in interactive. As in present tense. As in I’ve met a handful, a handful, of people throughout my life who have met the living Jesus and now I want to meet him too.

A (brief) history of my journey up until now. More for my sake than yours, to see on paper the progression up until this point. Because it has certainly been a progression, and in hindsight, I can see that.

Alberta. (somewhat) traditional Mennonite church for 13 years. Ride the faith of the parents. Alliance church, 2 years. Enter personal faith. Intro to spiritual gifts, anointing of oil, awareness of the supernatural. Province change. Enter Sunshine coast. Youth group with Baptist influence 3 years. Further awareness of supernatural. Intro to (more) expressive worship. Observations of speaking in tongues/ the prophetic. Intro to some passionate young people after Christ. Graduation. City change. Abbotsford. Bible study. Intro to deliverance/healing prayer. Missions trip. Intro to our authority in Christ. UFV. Intro to world religions and the upsetting realization that there are more common denominators than I initially realized. The Good News: Jesus. Church change, enter Northview. Further involvement/commitment to young adult group. Summers abroad in charismatic Guatemala. Intro to responsibility for social justice and environment. January 2008 - present: intro to the fact that I’m completely missing something. Intro to a spiritual hunger for something that I don’t have. Intro to actually reading the bible. ACUTALLY READING THE BIBLE. Struggles with this fact: God. Big big big big big. DEITY. Big big big big big. Powerful. Beyond us in every way. Me. Miniscule. Finite. Little little little little little me. Here’s the mental picture: a tiny dot. Quite like this punctuation point:

.

Now, around this dot is an enormous circle. I am the dot. You are the dot. God is the enormous circle. He says he wants to commune with us, even live in us. But I am a dot. And he is an enormous circle. And I am finite. But he is not. So how the hell does that work. Right. That would look like something completely different than anything else of this world. The divine. Doing divine things. In me. Through me. In little finite me.

I’ve been ACTUALLY READING THE BIBLE lately.
Actually reading the bible.
Actually reading the bible.
Actually reading the bible.

Something I heard about a dozen times this year was this: you either believe the bible in its entirety, or you don’t believe it at all. Nod, nod nod, furrowed brow in agreement, a little “mmm-hmmm, yeah, that’s good” but only in the last month have I really been thinking on that and deciding that I need to be one of those two things: in or out. All or nothing. Because I do, or have done, this selective reading thing, or perhaps I just know the stories too well. Or perhaps I’ve just been blind. But I’ve actually been reading the bible lately. I’ve gone through Acts several times before, but right now it’s like I’m going through it for the first time. And you know what it says, it says the Holy Spirit FELL upon people. Like the timing was appointed. And an angel busted Peter out of prison. And a gate just swung open on its own accord. And Saul was one of the worst SOB’s ever to live but then. But then.

But then.

He met the living Jesus. And Bam. Sure stone me, put me in prison, ship-wreck me, ship-wreck me again, reject me, hate me, it doesn’t matter. I’ve met the Living Jesus. And let’s not forget what these “fanatics” did for their Lord. They did exactly what Jesus did: healed. Raised the dead. et cetera.

So. I’m trying to believe the whole bible. And it says that Jesus came to bring us life to the full, life abundantly. And Jesus says he wants us to know the father as he knows the father. And these are promises, and I’m holding God to them that I will find these promises for my own life.

Sometime soon.

P.S. A good listen is "Come all you weary" by Thrice. Gold.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

summation.

I get to wear my favorite trashy jeans and not take flack from anyone.

Hairnets are hot.

I get to walk around with a clipboard and deal with numbers all day.

I get to visit the students at their various immobile positions on the assembly lines during the day.

I get to ring the buzzer for breaks.

I get to brew 70 cups of President’s Choice coffee every morning at 7:15.

I get to work with my two home-dawgs from last year. we are quite the dynamic trio.

Reasons why the asparagus barn ain’t all that bad.


Flying kites in the field.

Sun-time. risqué.

Asparagus piñatas.

3/8” (muahh-ahh-ahhhhhh).

Group testimony times.

St. Jacob’s roadtrip.

Cherry fields.

Team crochet blanket.

Tea at the Konrad’s.

Runs to my fav cemetery.

Sweet $3.99 purchases from VV.

Beach beach beach beach beach.

Custom alarm clock in the form of Julianne hurling herself on me every morning at 6:15.

Ontario sunsets.

An incredible team.

Time to read.

Private bird sanctuary out the back door.

Grass. grass. grass. grass. grass. grass. grass. all for me. for me. for me. for me.

High-lites of Ontario living.


Band shot while trespassing in a ginsine field.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our responsibility to strangers

(you don't really have to read this. it's kinda long. 969 words to be exact. it's just something i wrote for a friend who has hopes of starting a grassroots magazine. just more thoughts. sometime soon i'll buy batteries that work and snap some photos and get out of my brain and broadcast the people that I'm spending my summer with. all in due time. all in due time).

"Our Responsibility to Strangers"

I have long since grown tired of our affluent Western culture and its self-centered expenditures that often seem foolish and unnecessary. The question of what is a necessary expense and what is not differs from one person to the next. A large percentage of people, for example, could not fathom a life apart from their ready-at-hand cell phone whereas a decade ago, cell-phones were a luxury and not nearly as common as they have become today. This exemplifies what has become the norm for what I (admittedly) presume to be the average North American mindset: luxuries made necessities. When one poses the question of “what do I really need?” the answer is surprisingly little and yet people either evade this question altogether, or worse, in full conscience choose to live in luxury anyway.

All of this preamble aims to establish a spectrum in which one end represents unnecessary expenditures and the other represents extreme frugality. The purpose of the spectrum is not simply to question the spending habits of the West, but rather to give thought to the implications of these habits, either the inhibition or the assistance of them to the Other, the marginalized, the developing world, the “least of these”. Kwame Anthony Appiah in his book Cosmopolitanism stated that the question is not, “whether or not we have a responsibility to strangers but rather, to what degree is our responsibility?” The question then becomes, where am I placed on the spectrum? Where should I be placed? Personally I am of the mind that both extremes of the spectrum are unhealthy and yet my tendency is still to stray towards frugality. I am in need of an appropriate balance, but in the end it will still likely remain closer to the frugal than that of excessive expense.

It is, I think, obvious why excessive spending is unhealthy as it not only handicaps one’s ability to budget, but it also breeds selfishness, greed and vanity. The other, frugality, is dangerous because taken to the extreme, one would never even go out for dinner for the guilt felt for those in the world without food let alone the opportunity to dine out. I am exaggerating a bit in my examples, but the point is made that some type of balance must be found and yet it seems to me that the majority of people strike a balance that favors spending over giving, and I think it should be the other way around.

To further explore this suggestion of a correct balance, we need to more clearly define who the “stranger” is that we are responding to. Mitch Albom’s novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven follows the journey of a deceased man as he arrives in heaven and learns five valuable lessons pertaining to his life . The first lesson learned is, “Strangers are simply family that you have yet to come to know.” I cannot express how profound this quotation has seemed to me in recent weeks. It suggests that strangers are not simply the thirty other students in my English class, or even the new neighbors who moved in next door, but also the Sikh community in my town, the prostitutes strutting down Hastings, the family devastated in Rwanda. “Strangers” include those from every walk of life, every religion, every lifestyle, every upbringing, every social rank.

I was caught off-guard when I realized that Jesus preached a similar notion in the parable of the Good Samaritan . Having grown up on this story, I suppose I just never related it to my “family of strangers” in Africa and yet that is exactly what this story is about. Jesus, in response to the question of who is my neighbor?, tells of a man who, while traveling, is mugged, robbed, and left for dead by the side of the road. Not only does a priest pass him by, but also a Levite. Where most people would stop for a half-dead man on the side of the road, these two men do not even though, ironically, they even more than the average person should have. It is the third man of the neighboring country of Samaria who not only stops to help, but also brings the man to an inn to recuperate and there pays his costs. It would seem that Christ also calls us to the same responsibility to strangers.

Here are just two examples that promote our giving to the needy of the world but the matter goes one step further from the question of degree to the suggestion outlined by Appiah at the conclusion of his book that, along with having a responsibility to strangers we also, “have a responsibility as to where we direct our funds.” William Easterly in his book The White Man’s Burden argues that there are two great tragedies in relation to the world’s poor. The first addresses the physical ailments of disease, malnourishment, unclean water, etc. The second tragedy is the use of the West’s foreign aid finances, $2.3 trillion in the past five decades. Where has this money gone to and has it been used wisely? Easterly suggests that the results hardly match with the dollar amount given.

I am not aiming to propose an answer to the original question of balance because, at best, personal convictions are just that: personal and therefore unique to every individual. I do, however, hope to challenge or stimulate some reflection on spending habits and question whether we are called to give/do more. And finally, where is it that we are directing our funds? We owe it to the poor to give at least to some degree and furthermore to be responsible in our giving and ensure that it goes to an organization that is effective in its efforts to bring about some form of relief.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

title.

We’re into week 2. The team is great, nine girls, three guys. Defined by their servanthood. This is delightful and makes all the difference in the world. It is going to be a great summer.

It’s a late start to asparagus and we’ll only be starting tomorrow. We’ve done a few random jobs here and there but have enjoyed the extra time to get to know one another as a team.

I have caught a nasty head cold and have been sick the last few days. I want to chop my head off, but will withstand the temptation in the hope that I will recover soon.

It’s still beautiful here. I love having a lawn, it’s a fantastic break from condo-living. And we have our own private symphony of birds every morning. and lake Erie is still. astounding.

I’ve been reading! Ahh, divine pleasures, here is an extraordinary quote from the Five People You Meet in Heaven: “Strangers…are just family you have yet to come to know.” This quote was on my mind a lot last week, in context of this team, of a bunch of people thrown into a situation and trying to find their place, but it’s true you know. That capacity for family is there. is. here. ponder it, it's profound.

Hmm, other thoughts, I’ve been thinking of the beauty of journeys and how we’re all on one, at different places along the journey spectrum. It is a vast spectrum. I think in the past the spectrum has frustrated me, but it seems beautiful to me now. that somehow God walks with all of us where we are, and is drawing us to himself in different ways, at different paces, teaching us different things. That we may not respond in the same way as based on the variety of contexts that we come from, various upbringings, a plethora of unique experiences, etc. but still we journey.