Monthly Archives: November 2007

Word study

Back in my college days, especially in graduate school, I spent many an hour studying in what I called “research mode.” You anally focus on one topic until you are geninuely sick of it. You read about it, you wrote about it, you thought about it; it consumed you.

This could go on for weeks.

Finally, as you reached saturation on it, you were ready to let go of it. However, in the process you made it a part of you. Indelibly, forever. There were no doubts; it belonged to you at that point.

I’m back in that mode for the first time in decades. A biblical topic, the topic is consuming me; I once considered it an erudite subject without real application and “suddenly” the Ancient One has decided it is necessary to throw it continually in my path (almost said “in my face” :) ), almost daily. 

I’ve got hundreds of questions that aren’t readily available in the Word. So I’m “researching.” I’m digging for gold and that takes a lot of sifting of dirt. I’m filling up pages of a spiral notebook with <gasp> handwritten notes and scores of passages.

Am I ready for the conclusion at which I finally arrive? Will I have the cajones to implement or, if necessary, ignore it?

Raquel

Technically, I’m on the wrong blog. Be patient with me.

Saturday night Áudrey called me from Ubaúna. Here’s his report on Raquel:

Raquel went into cardiac failure on Thursday and the doctors worked on her for an hour, keeping her heart beating through CPR. After the beat was finally restored, they inserted an oxygen tube and put her on a breathing machine. They told the parents that it was only a matter of time, hours, before Raquel would die.

When the doctors came in of Friday morning, they were astonished to find her fully responsive. They removed her from the machine and she responded as though she’d never been sick! Unsure what was happening, they kept her in the ICU the rest of the day, knowing that she was going to take a turn for the worst.

Today [Saturday], they told the parents that they cannot explain what happened and they cannot justify keeping her in ICU any longer than tonight. They will put her in a regular room tomorrow [Sunday] and discharge her on Monday.

The doctors really are confused!

My, my, my… now isn’t that something. :)

Áudrey wanted every to know how appreciative he was for your prayers!

When Thanksgiving makes me cry

Yesterday was great! The perfect holiday: family, food and festivities.

Today, my heart hurts.

My friend and co-worker in Ubaúna, Áudrey, had emailed me on the eve of Thanksgiving with an urgent request. A 3-month old girl by the name of Raquel was dying of a severe infection. Áudrey had emailed, appealing to me to mobilize prayer warriors to pray in her behalf. It wasn’t just little Raquel dangling between life and death in the ICU. Her parents are brand new Christians. People believe they were cursed because they elected to follow Jesus and abandon the spirits they once worshipped. Little Raquel is proof that they are being punished.

Her illness is a battle between mighty powers.

Áudrey said he was choosing to believe in the miraculous and wanted us to participate in this battle with him.

Last night he sent me the following:

Elaine, the mother of Raquel, gave the baby water to drink from the [contaminated] reservoir. According to the doctors, this caused the infection. This led to pneumonia and strong seizures. Yesterday her breathing stopped and the doctors struggled for more than an hour to revive her. They were successful, but, she is now breathing only because she is hooked to a machine. Only God can cure her.

As bad as that is, let me tell you the rest of the story.

Rafael and Elaine, the parents, don’t have two pennies to rub together. If they are fortunate, they will manage a single “meal” each day (their “meal” would not meet our qualifications for the use of that word). The treated running water that used to come into their shanty neighborhood was cut off months ago by local politicians who didn’t like the way the neighborhood had voted in the last election. There are no wells. Elaine has to walk two miles to the local reservoir, which is highly contaminated, to get water.

She would normally boil it, but she can’t afford matches. So they drank the water.

What’s wrong with this picture?

We, blessed beyond our needs, Raquel dying because her parents can’t even afford matches.

People, this doesn’t have to happen. We can make a difference through simple things like this. But, are we so thankful for what we have that we turn our eyes from what makes us uncomfortable? Our pets receive better treatment than this Christian family.

As I said, my heart hurts…

Non-obligatory oblations of thanks

I sit on the couch, tummy pleasantly swollen from turkey, dressing and all the trimmings. My queen has passed out at my side, her last audible words of “I’m so full…” still in the air — I know I’m going to have to carry her to bed.

My day was spent visiting with big people who used to be little people. Nephews and nieces who just yesterday were snotty nosed little rug rats have somehow metamorphosed into adults (when did that happen?). There were also old people who used to be young people… I can’t believe that my little brother is 50! Again, when did that happen? My little sister is… well, I’d best not tell you her age because she might hurt me!

I took it all in, like a slow motion camera pan. My dad on one end of the table, like a potentate overseeing his clan; my mother at the other end, beaming. My siblings animatedly talking about their lives; two soldiers trading army stories; a long-unseen cousin fitting in like one of the family; food that beyond the tantalizing tastes they offered, beckoning memories of years gone by. All that was missing was the music that movies often employ to tie the sentiment together.

Thanks giving, I am, because I’m blessed…

Why we don’t want to do what I just said

Why we don’t want to do what I just said…

Click here

Are we willing to do anything about it? Better, am I? Or am I content to just go on playing church?

Blah, blah, blah…

It’s downright discouraging.

I hear big words, flowery words, condemning words. It all sounds so nice, aseptic, so … sterile. To be honest, it gags me and causes me to wonder if I can get to the bathroom quick enough before I puke.

What has me so nauseous?

All this talk about what the church is, should be, could be, might be, ought to be. “Missional,” “emerging,” “post-modern,” “old truth,” choose your favorite flavor. It all comes across as the thick chalky stuff you have to drink before a colonoscopy. Puke-a-rama. Or as Paul noted, “dung.”

Did you realize that 60% of the 16-24 year old population thinks Christians are full of crap? That includes the same age category that is withinthe church. Tell them you are “missional” or “traditional” and they will laugh. Show them there is a better alternative by the way you live and the willingness to delve into the issues that are affecting them (though it makes you very uncomfortable), and they will flock to you like flies on honey.

My age must be showing because I’m becoming very tired of the rhetoric… I’m ready to see some action on the part of what we call the church. Uncomfortable and messy is good, nice and sterile doesn’t cut it.

Snapshots

Glimpses of my week…

  • A 50-ish mother of three in the throes of depression and self-worth. “Why can’t I be like everyone else! Why is everything so crazy in my head. Don’t tell me that Jesus can help – he can’t; I’ve already tried church and ‘they’ simply make it worse! It was the f***ing pastor who raped me and the members called me a liar!”
  • A 60-something bachelor unable to find the courage to get out of the bed each morning. When asked if he’s told anyone at church, he says “I told the pastor; he told me to go home and pray. I told my Sunday School class and they stopped talking to me. I told the benevolence committee that I was serving on and they said stop talking foolishness.” Are you still going to church? I asked him. “No, I haven’t been back in nine months.” When I asked him if anyone has called or stopped by to check on him since his nine month absence. He simply looked at the floor, began to cry and mouthed, “no.”
  • Letters to the Editor in Collide magazine — a magazine that attempts to empower the church to reach the culture through music: “I went and looked for Scripture in your magazine that exists to help us ‘communicate God’s truth.’ Out of the 71 pages in your mag, I found two that had Bible quotes. Two.” “In your first edition, you include non-Christian artists…” “As people of faith, I believe we have to be carefule with our message…”
  • A 30-something mother of two, self-proclaimed Baptist, “faithful,” catches her husband buying crack downtown in an alley. He’s trashed their savings because of a crack addition that she didn’t even know about; they are going to lose their home. “Why the f*** didn’t Jesus help?!”

I’m reminded of the pilot episode of NBC’s show Life—a characer who had just suffered a terribel tragedy turned to the protagonist and said: “Tell me something that means something. Tell me anything that means something.”

There are alot of messages bouncing around, but it often amounts to a bunch of noise that doesn’t mean anything.

I’m guessing that we are desperate to hear something that really means something.

Pluggin’ in

I’ve been running wireless networking in the office but my router is old. Decided to plug in straight to the network card. Whoa!

memorex-chair-man.jpgTalk about a blast — I couldn’t believe the difference! I jumped from a measly 3 Mbp download to almost 7. Geez Louise. It was quite a rush and I’m purring like a kitten.

I know I’ll get accustomed to it and it won’t seem as fast. But for the moment, I’m blissful.

Honey, I shrunk the Gospel

If Disney were to do a movie on the modern church, they would call it, “Honey, I shrunk the Gospel.”

We’ve downsized the gospel in two ways:

1) It used to be good news about a Person, the risen Christ. Now it’s often presented as a set of doctrinal truths. PROBLEM: You cannot get to heaven just by believing a set of facts.

2) In the first century, the awe-inspiring part of the gospel news was Christ’s resurrection. Today, the only life-changing element in it is the cross. PROBLEM: the resurrection is not a tack-on to “the good news of the cross.”

–James Rutz, Mega Shift

Pain in the neck

I slept “wrong” last night. Today my neck is killing me! I can hardly move my head.

It’s kinda enlightening to have this pain in the neck today as I read through Ezekiel. I’ve been in the book for the last week or so and the one thing that stands out is that Israel (and Judah for those of you who want to be totally correct :) ) was a major pain in God’s neck. They absolutely refused to obey him. In fact, they basically flipped him off and did the exact opposite of what he asked.

He put a major hurtin’ on them because of it!

Which got me to thinking. . . not that God is going to zap me. . . but rather, wondering how much of a pain in his proverbial neck I am? My day has been miserable because of this stiffness in my neck. While I know I won’t make the Creator of the Universe have a bad day because of my shennigans, I know I don’t always bring a smile to his face.

I don’t want him rubbing his neck, saying, “that Joe. . . what a pain in the neck. . .”