12.31.2009

this is NOT Outburst!

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Last dinner of 2009. Thanks Stu & Lisa!

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FWD:

Preparing to mobile blog. This picture signifies the start of my mobile blogging. I'm waiting for my wife to get ready so we can head out to the Larking's house tonite to celebrate NYE.

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10.31.2009

current statusness - 10/31/09

so yeah. back at Peet's. had to go through some major table-jockeying to get a table where i could plug in my laptop.
it eventually happened.
listening to some thrash/hardcore music (currently) while starting back on my PACT work.
it's due Thursday. it's possible.

oh man, I think life will be so much more down-to-earth without this thing weighing on me.

just got fully ROCKED in my brain and my soul by reading the book of Titus last night w/ @heathernesbitt. Unbelievable! Paul somehow knew that people would get so worked up and angry when fellow Christ-followers devote their whole life to DOING GOOD.

I understand what sound doctrine is. Doctrine is merely a set of beliefs and a bank of knowledge that you hold true and right. SOUND doctrine is learning how to live so that what you believe agrees with what you do... EVERYDAY.

So, all these "Amen" hollers in church whenever someone mentions 'sound doctrine' and 'holding to the truth' need to be PROVED and MADE REAL by the movement of your BODY, FEET and HANDS. Lip service is self-service!!

Dn

10.28.2009

Wednesday, Oct 28 -- current status

I am still working on my PACT. I mean "working." I just finished writing tests that I am giving tomorrow and friday. It's nice that the rest of the week is mainly tests.

Still at Peet's, drinking a white mocha (hmmm).

had a great convo last night about how so many christians love to hate on Obama (thinking of him as some sort of Muslim, renegade who is infiltrating our bank accounts, churches, and patriotic sovereignty) and homosexuals (somehow christians assume that they're 'different' in their sin 'n' such. it's almost like christians think there is a separate hell for them or something).

Hating homosexuals and thinking you're better than them, especially because you are a Christian, is sickening to Jesus and has no room in the Gospel that Jesus showed. In fact, when Jesus talks about WHO is in hell, the person that is mentioned is a rich man who ignored the needs and plight of the beggin and crippled poor! NOT a homosexual! see your Bible (Luke 16:19-31). Again, rich man... not gay man.

Ok. I need to pick up on my PACT. Gotta finish writing some lesson plans and then talk about a video I made of myself teaching in my class. Woo hoo!

dnez

10.26.2009

current status:


finishing my teaching credential:

for those familiar w/ the PACT assessment. I am nearly done. It's alot of work that seems meaningless.


9.12.2009

The First Missionaries

Luke 2:8-20
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.10 And the angel said to them, Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.


I have recently immersed myself into the gospel according to Luke. I am excited about the sharpness of Luke's record of Jesus' activity. Looking at the above portion of Scripture from the infamous story of the birth of Jesus something struck me.

The shepherds were some of the first messengers of the Good News. I don't think I've ever heard this piece of the Christmas story exposited. This is crucial. How important it is to realize that Jesus even greatly affected lives AS A BABY!

1) The shepherds HEARD the good news of a Savior, the Christ.

2) The shepherds had a REVELATION of their Savior from the Lord and they eagerly desired to be as close to Him as quickly as possible.

3) As soon as they witnessed Jesus, they immediately WENT AND TOLD OTHERS about Him.

4) When they returned from their mission, they continued to GLORIFY AND PRAISE GOD. This was their TESTIMONY.


As believers & Christ-followers, has Jesus, our Savior, been revealed to us? Have we heard the Good News? Are we compelled to share that Good News with those around us? Do we glorify and praise God because of what we have seen and heard?

Be encouraged. The Gospel has the power for life, from death.


socialvandal.

7.23.2009

Sharefest/YDA camp post #2

Here's my second blogpost for the Sharefest Youth Development Academy, July 2009. It is currently happening at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

I have a group of 9 students for the next 2 weeks. I absolutely love it. God is ready to administer His justice. Praying for His time and His Words to be spoken and acted.

Here's the post:

Today was a beautiful one for the Sharefest YDA camp. Campers had the opportunity to hone their creative writing skills followed by a refreshing time in the CSUDH swimming pool.

As I look back on today's time in the pool, I'm reminded of my purpose for working at the YDA Camp this year.

Students found themselves participating in the pool time in a variety of ways. A few students opted out altogether. Some students found themselves dressed and ready to go in the pool, yet never made their way actually into the pool. A few students sat on the pool's edge and dangled their feet in the refreshing water. Still other students played in the shallow end the entire time, bobbing up and down without any fear of drowning or injury. Then, there was the group of students who quickly found their way to the diving boards (one high and one low) and into the deep end... 12 feet to be exact. Throughout the duration of the pool time, counselors were strategically placed in every part of the pool, on the pool's edge, near the bathrooms, and against the wall. There was never a counselor who was by him or herself not interacting with a student. All the while, we were under the watchful eye of Chief Lifeguard-on-Duty, Lee. It seemed that wherever you saw a group of students, there was a counselor nearby.

This scene has shown me why Sharefest YDA exists.

Life, as we experience it, is like a large swimming pool. There are many ways to experience life: the pool's edge, the shallow end, the deep, etc. And in these different life experiences, our students find themselves surrounded by onlookers, peers, and support systems. What I saw today that struck me deeply was that I am at this camp to provide genuine, nurturing support to my students for whatever life experience they have. Some students are sauntering through the shallow end of life; others find themselves in the deep end (whether they chose it or not). It is my job for this short amount of time to support these students in their current life experience while cheering them on to success and possible maturity to the next life experience.

I desire that these students are NEVER left alone to fend for themselves. Rather, each student needs support throughout their entire life to ensure fulfillment and success. Moreover, they may find themselves teaching, coaching, cheering, and supporting the next generation in the same way they have experienced it.

Sharefest/YDA camp

Here's my blog post for the Sharefest/Youth Development Academy currently taking place at Cal State Dominguez Hills through July 2009.

This post was originally posted on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at:


Can You Feel the Heat?

Another fun-filled day was experienced during the Youth Development Academy today. Thanks to Lee Hancock, Mary Jo, and Paul for coming out to teach us some soccer skills while having a blast in the summer sun. It was a thrill to see students who were reluctant to participate in the soccer games become more and more enthusiastic about the activities as time passed today. One student in particular, Doris, was highlighted near the end of the day as a participant who changed her own attitude from uninvolved to joyful and abandoned as she ran around the soccer field with her fellow YDA students.

Following the rousing soccer games and drills, all session two students took a VIP tour of the Home Depot Center. Students were most enthralled with the privilege to be up close to Galaxy's #23, David Beckham's locker. To actually see his and his teammates gear in place ready for the next match was quite exciting. I tried my best to imagine the adrenaline that so often flows in that locker room just before each match. It must be exciting to know that years of training, discipline, drilling, determination, and possibly instances of failure led up to each team member's current status as a professional soccer player. I imagined my campers, both male and female, one day pushing beyond their 'brick walls' and finding success in a variety of disciplines. I can picture Lesslie as a professional female boxer; I can see Jasmin as a successful women's soccer team member; Jamel will someday grace the ESPN Sportscenter headlines as a NFL star; Morelia will no doubt be a box office success as a big screen actress.

Hopefully, today was a glimpse into the future for each camper with much anticipation for success.

6.23.2009

Watch this. Pray for Iran.

This video is ominous:

I ask, "where are WE?"

6.10.2009

mango salsa? -- a mixed bag

Here are some 'mixed bag' thoughts:

#1
2 Peter 1:5-7. Faith is the starting point, then goodness, then knowledge. Why does the church always want to start w/ knowledge? This reminds me of the first sin (sorry CC) that mankind wanted to test out the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The sin of wanting to 'be like God.' As Christ-followers, FAITH ALONE must be our fuel. This is a gift of God. Otherwise, we could talk about how good we are because we convinced ourselves that Jesus is who He says He is. Faith is required at the beginning. Faith leads to doing good things for the Kingdom. We do these things because we believe, know and have hope that Jesus is who He says He is.
THEN, we beging to gain knowledge. We understand the Truth of Jesus. Be careful!

#2
I recently went on a field trip with some middle school students to Bluff Cove in Palos Verdes. As we were walking the shoreline, one 7th grader said to me "What do you think would happen if you got in a boat and just sailed out there and kept going?" He added, "What do you think is out there?" I encouraged him and told him that he can set sail one day and find out. He said that he's tried to find out what's "out there." He said that when he plays video games and there's an ocean/water that he's in while playing the video game he tries to sail out into the ocean to see what happens. He said, "It doesn't let me go very far."
HOW SAD that so many kids are bound by video games as a means of exploration, inquiry, and curiosity. What a call for adults, pastors, shepherds, parents, and teachers to give ample opportunity to invest into the lives of our younger generations! Oh the things we're neglecting...

6.06.2009

Culture and Sharing the Truth

TV, media, and cultural influences have become a gigantic roadblock to Christ-followers from sharing what we believe to be the Truth.

There is the notion in our American culture that when, or even if, Christians share the Gospel with those who don't believe we are doing things such as:
imposing our beliefs on others
are intolerant
are disrespectful
are socially awkward
are hurting friendships/relationships

among many other things.

The problem is that THE CHURCH HAS BELIEVED WHAT SOCIETY IS TELLING THEM. Instead of listening the One we claim to follow by spreading the Gospel, we sheepishly drop a vauge reference to Jesus and our conviction every once in a while when it seems to not impose on others.

I just recently viewed Penn's (of Penn & Teller) video blog where he details an interaction he had with a Christian who preached to him about his faith. Penn made it very very clear that he was thankful to the man who preached to him and considered him wonderful and kind. Penn recognized that the man was genuine and kind and had nothing but good things to say about him.

This account is in stark constrast to what we as the Church hear from the American culture about sharing the Gospel. Rather, Penn (who is a professing atheist), displays what is most likely the real perspective of those who yet believe in Christ-- a genuine overflow of thanksgiving for being able to hear the Truth spoken in agape love.

dnez

5.20.2009

Salad Bowl of Thoughts

>>  Why do people answer "sure" instead of answering "yes?"  I'll admit that I've done this numerous times in the past.  Now, I'm put off by it.

>> What's with the idea that I am supposed to let my son (who's a toddler) act like a monster and play 'guns,' wrestle, and 'act like a boy,' when it looks NOTHING like Christ?  This I don't like.  I hate the whole line that goes "we're trying to raise boys in an effeminate society."  So what if my kid wears baggy jeans or skinny jeans.  If my son becomes a star quarterback or a ballad-singing piano player it won't make a difference to me.  I care that He responds to God's call in his life to follow Jesus.  'nuff said!

>>  I was inspired to think about what certain exercises I could implement into my life.  It seems that it would be beneficial to begin acting Christ-like INTENTIONALLY whether my emotions are guiding me or not.  Maybe I should visit a senior-citizens center and spend time with them even though I don't FEEL CALLED to do it.  It is something that shows the Kingdom and It's power without my emotions being served.  Other things on this possible list could include:  watching my neighbor's kids, volunteering to do a little extra at work or church, going on a missions trip, getting rid of my TV so I spend more time with my wife, and making a written list of everything I'm thankful so I DON'T FORGET them.

5.14.2009

Without Love

Had a great talk today w/ @karaokejoel.

These words from the Apostle Paul in the first letter to the Corinthians came alive even more today:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Joel & I talked about these words in the context of relationships (marriage, friendship, etc.). Hearing a great reminder of the value of love and respect in a marriage brought my thoughts back to the importance of the love of Christ. There are often notions and conceptions that if a person 'just' begins to 'do' the right things in a marriage, then they will develop their love/respect for their spouse. If we train ourselves to do the right stuff, then that we carry itself on into the years of our lives and be the display of our love for one another. I understand the importance of love, respect, discipline, and developing good habits and laying aside bad habits. My question and provoked-thought leads me to the question of WHY do all these things first?


In regards to our relationship with Jesus, we aren't required to obey Him and then, sometime later, we fall in love with Jesus because we started doing all the right things.

Instead, Jesus speaks these words:

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
"All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


Also, in the infamous John 3:16, we are reminded that 'For God so loved the world, that He..."

It starts w/ love from God, then action follows.


I say, we shouldn't rely on a checklist of actions and duties to merely give the appearance of agape love. Instead, we should seek the Father and His love to be given to us as a gift and a fruit of the Spirit.

Once, we are filled with the Spirit, love is borne in us. Only then can we show unconditional, agape love to those around us with a pure heart.

D

4.21.2009

What will it take?

9:30pm - Monday night.
I already knew that the day wasn't about me, but I didn't know what would transpire.
2 Blocks from home I'm sitting at a red light. My day is almost over. I hear a noise coming from a parking lot nearby. It's the sound of a car driving full speed in reverse right towards you. You are walking away and you skip out the way of the speeding car at the last second. I knew something was wrong. Your boyfriend (I assume) jumps out the car and chases you down.

At this point I know something is wrong. I pull into the 7-Eleven across the street to observe and get on the phone with the Sheriff's station...just in case. As I'm watching and trying (in vain) to find the non-emergency phone number you continue arguing with your boyfriend. You get in his face, he gets in yours. You're upset.

At once, you charge on foot towards the busy street intersection as if running for your life. Your boyfriend grabs you like a bear and carries you back to his car. You're not fighting back I notice. In the ensuing melee you dropped something... maybe your wallet or your bag. I'm not sure.

Now, you're sitting in the car's passenger seat and your boyfriend briefly looks for whatever it is you dropped. He gives up and returns to the car.

I assume you'll just drive off into the night and I will have missed the opportunity to call the authorities or alert anyone to your situation. To my surprise, you're driving right towards me where I'm parked in the 7-Eleven. My heart races. Your boyfriend parks the car at the 7-Eleven and you sit there for about three minutes. At this point, I make an assumption that things have settled down and I start my car and pull out of the driveway and wait... again... at a red light. The whole time I'm watching over my shoulder and in my rearview mirror to see if anything transpires.

Your boyfriend gets out of the car to go into the convenience store and he motions at you with a pointed finger to stay in the car. He goes inside. You jump out of the car and begin a frantic stride towards me... again. My heart is now off the charts... beating furiously. Now's my chance.

You cross the street as the light turns green for both off us. As soon as we're out of view of the 7-Eleven, I roll down my window and say, "Do you need help?"

You don't look at me.

I cruising at a parade's pace next to you as you're walking down the sidewalk carrying your bag and your sandals.

"Do you need help??" I am raising my voice?

Still, no acknowledgement. I know, it must be strange to have some guy talking to you at night from his car while you're trying to walk away from someone who's oppressing you.

I yell, "Hey! Do you need help!!??" You look at me without speaking.

I say, "I will take you directly to the police station if you want!! I can help you."

Your reply, "My boyfriend will kill you if he sees you."

You keep walking.
I leave for safety's sake... at this point.

I call a few friends and go home.

At home, I call the police and report the entire incident.


------

What will it take for someone to receive help?
What will it take for me to persist in helping others?
When will you give up your oppressive life?
When will I give up trying to help you?

That day was not about me. It was about you.

4.15.2009

Thoughts on Freedom

A few thoughts on freedom...specifically as initiated by the Holy Spirit.

I had a great convo today that again stoked the embers of my thinking about what freedom in the Spirit is.

I have been honored to play in worship bands and lead teams for over 10 years.  Being associated with this culture of music and worship in the church I have heard the paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 3:17

     "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

Often associated with the proclamation of the verse in a musical/worship context invites the audience member to 'worship freely.'  There is never a specific direction given, but it is implied that the audience members are now allowed to clap more, shout more, dance more, raise their hands, and commit more physical and emotional acts of worship.

There is no clarification or instruction as to what an individual is FREED from or FREED to do.

Here are my thoughts:

Simply, the freedom that is found in and of the Holy Spirit is one that frees us FROM ourselves and does not free us FOR ourselves.  In other words, we are loosed from the things that weigh us down, discourage us, lie to us, hold us back, and constrict our ability to completely surrender our lives to Jesus.  This freedom does not free us to feel better about ourselves, to expect more from God, to waste time seeking an emotional fix, and most importantly we are not freed to indulge in doing WHATEVER WE WANT.

As we become filled, covered and moved by God's Holy Spirit, our self-focus begins to diminish and fade away.

The freedom that is found in God, is one that allows us to live independent of our bank account, our fears, our doubts, our self-serving attitudes, and the emotions associated with a one-time worship service experience.

As we embrace true freedom from the Spirit, we ought to be compelled to live as Jesus did and to follow where He leads.

4.07.2009

Grazing Through the OYB(One Year Bible)

To see exactly what today's reading is, click on the One Year Bible link for today on the right side of my blog page... and follow along!! ;)

Deuteronomy 31:6 - this verse has become a pillar of strength and hope for me and for many people I know at church. Whenever we remember the promises of God so many people bring up "He will never leave you or forsake you." It's such a real and true reminder of God's faithfulness. I just hope people realize that means we WILL BE GOING SOMEWHERE so that God won't leave us there alone. Exciting!

Deut 31:12 - Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children,who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess."
hey, look at that! the little ones are there AGAIN in the assembly... further, the children SHOULD hear and learn to fear the Lord. Wonderful.


Deut 31:19-22 - Moses wrote all the #1 hits. He wrote the catchiest hooks so that the people wouldn't forget their sin. Wow.

Luke 12:8-34
Just as Jesus didn't deny who He was before men... so we shouldn't. The promise of revelation from the Holy Spirit is given when we deny our anxiety.
v.21 If only I were rich towards God more!
Sell your possessions and give to the needy. JESUS SAID IT. What is my rationalization not to do it? Jesus made no concessions or qualifications for people NOT to do it. Would we dare call it a command? We like the 2 greatest commands of Love God and Love others because they are opportunities for us to ask as the Teachers of the Law did, "who is my neighbor?" Instead, Jesus points out AGAIN, that the needy are to receive the blessing and benefit from our intentional acts of love (i.e. selling our possessions).
I like the contrast Jesus makes between "nations of the world" and "the kingdom of God, the Father." Talk about contrasting life and death right next to each other.


Wow!


We live in a reality where we are alive among the dead. Sounds theologically obvious...and even plainly obvious to us at times. But, what a mindshift to take on that we can offer hope in Christ that brings eternal life to all the death that surrounds us.


Psalm 23 comes to mind again.

dnez

3.30.2009

More than you can handle

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I Corinthians 10:13


If you find yourself in the church culture (like I do), you are well aware of this passage from one of Paul's letters to the Corinthian church.  The verse has often been a source of great inspiration when I feel like giving up and I have told myself I don't have any other choice but to fail.

This verse has taken on it's own deceptive meaning due in part to our propagation of this false meaning to blame God for our busy, stressful lives.

Here's a typical conversation:

Merriam:  "Sheesh, I am so tired and stressed out!  My daughter has baseball practice on Monday and Wednesday and two games this Saturday.  She has math tutoring right after school on Tuesday and has a guitar lesson on Thursday night... she is so talented!  Friday's we're going to our church meeting at the Fillord's home and Sunday, well, Sunday, you know is church."

Ular:  "Wow, I can see why you would be so stressed out.  Just remember: God won't give you more than you can handle."

>>>>> HOLD ON!!!
Someone sound the alarm!

That's a category 5 use of 1st Corinthians 10:13.  Where do we get the idea that God won't give us more than we can handle?  I can see the "not-so" parallel between Him not letting us be tempted beyond what we can bear while ALWAYS providing a way out AND God not giving us "more than we can handle."

However, why do we find ourselves blaming God for signing our kids up for every activity in the Parks & Recreation brochure?

Or, for you college kids, how is it appropriate to apply this poor notion to the so-common situation of trying to write a final term paper the night before it's due while balancing your other commitments in life?

"Oh my!  That is such a rough situation with your final paper.  Remember, God won't give you more than you can handle!"


Two point need to be addressed:

1)  God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But, WHEN you are tempted, he will always provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

    subpoint A)  This passage states clearly that God LETS US be tempted
    subpoint B)  This passage states clearly that you WILL be tempted, it's only a matter of WHEN.

2)  God will give you more than you can handle...on your own.  Did he design us to be self-sufficient beings?  Nope.  We are to depend completely on Him and His grace for everything we are given.  We may be given little, we may be given plenty, or further, we may be given more than we can handle.

John 14:1  [Jesus speaking] Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me.

2nd Corinthians 12:9   [Paul Speaking about God in a time of weakness and distress]But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."


dnez

3.20.2009

Social Salve

Our world is messed up.  There are outrageous examples and instances of injustice occuring 'round-the-clock wherever we turn.  Our nightly news quickly delivers the stories of the weak and helpless who are killed, robbed, beaten, denied, abandoned, ignored, and ridiculed.  There are many wounds left untreated that our society displays from day to day.  These wounds are ugly.  There are infected because of lack of proper care and continued contamination.

In light of this, there needs to be social doctors and nurses who are willing to dress the wounds of the poor, the sick, the abandoned, the oppressed, and the helpless.  These wounds are gross.  They are repulsive.  Those who are meant to dress these wounds cannot help but face them, smell them, maybe even touch them in order to properly bring healing and restoration.

Social salve:  the dressing for the wounds of the social outcast.


In the account of Jesus' life, these words were spoken by Jesus near the beginning of His work.


 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
   because he has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
   and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

These words were first spoken by Isaiah, and later adopted by Jesus as His own.  Those who were listening to Jesus speak these words were amazed and enamoured with His bold, new mission statement.

Jesus announced His priorities and His vision.  He identified the authority and the power that would propel His work.

The crowds of people knew that there were others among them in their cities who were blind, oppressed, poor, captive, and hungry.  There seemed, now, to be One who would bring hope for these social ills with authority.

As followers of Christ, He has given us the equipment, the knowledge, and the motivation to bring a social salve.

There comes with this charge a reminder that those who live to advance and promote the Kingdom of God will face opposition.  Jesus could have started the most effective non-profit organization in His time.  However, when He identified Himself as the Son of God and gave the credit to God for His work, His life was threatened and eventually taken from Him.

The social salve of the Gospel brings change and healing, but it's eternal effectiveness is found in the life of Jesus.

3.14.2009

Freedom: I'm calling in sick from following Jesus.

Why don't we say what we know is right?
Why don't we do what should be done?
Why is there such a large disconnect between our sacrificial worship to the One True God and enacting the justice of that God, as His people, to those who need it most around us -- the sick, the needy, the poor, the oppressed, the defenseless?


Fear?  yeah, that's a big part.
Someone else will do it?  yeah, that's huge too.


Can love truly offend?

How can we keep hearing the same sermons preached at church and sing the same songs about the same God, and see no change in our lives, our homes, our children, our schools, our neighborhoods, our churches, our workplace, our friends... you get the picture?

Most of us have been stifled.  We've been paralyzed by our stuff, our feelings, and our circumstantial state.

Our reasons for inactivity within the Kingdom on earth are staggering.  And, they are just that, REASONS.  We have reasoned ourself out of the mission of Jesus -- to seek and save what is lost.  To redeem.  To bring right and restored relationship to God.

Our self-stimulation, our insatiable appetite for personal wisdom and knowledge without action, and our entitlement as the 'free and chosen' have blinded us to the mission of Jesus.


For freedom we have been set free?  Free to do what?
Is it a self-serving freedom?  A freedom to seek personal blessing, favor, and expansion for ourselves while so many starve, thirst, suffer, cry out for life?

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom?  Again, freedom for WHO?
Yes, we've been set free and blessed, SO THAT, we can freely be a blessing to others.


I was posed a tough question a month ago:

What is your theology of suffering?

Suffering?  Compared to the 73,000 members of the homeless community IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, or to the impoverished citizens of non-Westernized nations facing political, religious, or humanitarian oppression... I probably don't have a real good clue as to what suffering is.

I do know and see in the Word that those who are followers of Christ will face sufferings of many kinds.  I don't think forgetting to record 'Lost' counts as suffering, or having to go to church when the Lead Pastor isn't preaching, or not having 'my' presidential candidate win.

Suffering actually demands that I choose Jesus over EVERYTHING.

Face it, America is a bubble.  Southern California is paradise.


So, maybe if I followed Jesus as He leads, I would suffer.  My worship would match my actions.  I would let go of my 'excuses' and do what He wants me to do.  Some folks might SEE and FEEL the good news and know the Jesus is real.

I might be able to poke a few holes in the 'social fabric.'
d


3.11.2009

3.09.2009

7 years

Today is my 7th anniversary w/ my beautiful wife.


It's basically the best reminder of where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going.


Love you Heather!!

d


3.05.2009

what I didn't learn from a book

Today I sat down with Manuel deJesus.

He's a homeless man from Guatemala living in the US for 14 years now.  He primarily lives in Inglewood with a few stints in Redondo Beach when the food is available.

A couple of friends and I invited him to our table for coffee and conversation.

I was floored by his observations and understanding.

Manny shared that he had NEVER sat down with Americans for a meal or coffee in all of his 14 years here.  No one had ever told him that he was good, smart or wise.

Manny said that friendship is better than any material thing you or I could ever have.  Also, he said that you could have the best idea in the world, but without a friend there to support and encourage you in it, it is empty.

Manny asked if he was still on planet earth in the middle of our conversation.  He couldn't believe that 3 strangers would invite him, a homeless man, into their life and conversation.  He asked, "How did I end up here at this table?  Did I ask you for something?"  We told him, no, but that we invited him.

Manny has 3 daughters in Guatemala, a successful brother in South L.A. whom he sees twice a year.  He crossed the border 14 years ago with his good friend who now owns his own company and is very successful.  Manny chalks his misfortune up to not being smart enough in a country of such opportunity.

Manny is smart.  He taught me things I read hundreds of pages to understand.  He showed me these things without eloquence or elaboration.

The power of invitation to a table is unfathomable.

d

3.01.2009

Awareness

The Idea Camp in Irvine, CA ended last night.  I had a good time connecting with people, sharing dreams and ideas, enjoying meals, and seeing a dual emphasis on technology within community and the desire for true, authentic relationship.

I have been thinking about the concept of awareness lately.  I determined about a week ago that I want to be a better observer.  I've considered myself to be a person who notices things that often go unnoticed.  Lately, I've realized how I live my life on 'auto-pilot' most of the time.  I noticed a disconnect between my desire to make a difference in the lives of the poor and needy people in my local world and my lack of ability to see the REAL need that exists.  As a member of suburbia, I've been unknowingly trained to not see the corners and fringe characters of society.

The solution to my impairment is awareness.  I need to take my foot off the gas, pull over to the slow lane, and see the passing scenery and all of its contents.

Awareness starts at a personal level and grows into the community level.  At the personal level, awareness deepens and widens the angle of my lens.  I gain ability and capability.  My capacity to act and my potential to influence multiplies.  At the community level, awareness moves from a personal maturity to a tool for change.  An individual can see a need and meet a need in a linear, 2-D capacity.  At the community level, awareness fuels a movement for justice, change, and influence.  Individuals become bound through 3-dimensional connections crossing multiple domains of experience and ability.  Awareness at this level moves with force and direction.

The Idea Camp offered many opportunities to connect with individuals who are aware of injustice in many forms.  Many individual people aware of a need requiring a solution were connected with the purpose of taking action.

2.27.2009

Idea Camp today

heading down to Idea Camp now.

Looking forward to some good workshops and sessions.

I hope this is fruitful and I look forward to sharing with you (anyone who will listen) what resounds with me.

dnez

2.22.2009

30 Down ... sheesh.

So, this past week I was really contemplating what turning 30 will produce in me.  I knew that there were some things that I wanted to really make stick looking back on the past thirty YEARS.  It felt like something big was to be decided.  I wanted to make a decision or two and dig down deep with those decisions... make the roots go down deep.

I woke up yesterday without any specifics on my mind.  Yet, I wasn't discouraged.
Had a modest birthday... probably a good thing.  Heather asked me about turning 30 and it, almost immediately, prompted some answers for me.

I had a time this past week being able to lead some elementary kids into worship at church with some very close friends.  It was really, really amazing.  I love it.

After the worship session, we found ourselves chatting--hanging out.  We were definitely enjoying each other's friendship and company and basking in the good time we just had with the kids singing to God and worshipping Him together.

Suddenly, I find myself slipping into my sarcastic mode and joking around with some close friends.  I don't know what got into me, but I started teasing some of my friends (in love, of course) and ended up probably joking too much with them.

After some apologies and forgiveness, I realized how quickly I can slip back into doing my own thing and losing the mindset I have when worshipping God.

This glimpse that I got into myself has created some resolve not to blend back into the fabric of society and shallowness in my friendships with people whom I love and respect.

So, here's 3 things that I look forward to tackling with 30 years under my feet and behind my back:

1)  Create "worship pairings."  I used to work for a green-logoed, coffee chain where we had a business technique of offering the 'perfect food pairing' with a cup of coffee.  Now, I don't know if this was legit, or just a clever marketing ploy to get people to buy a muffin when they bought their coffee.  I learned that effect blend/roast of coffee from *$ has a perfect food flavor that compliments the coffee.  The right food and the right coffee roast would create the 'perfect pairing.'  One item complimented the other just right as to create a more full and more rich consuming experience...BLAH BLAH BLAH.
Yet, this is a good picture for what I think could be a practical step to adding depth to my worship time with God.  It's amazing how I can expect to have (and often do) such an deep, intimate connection and view of God when I sing to Him and worship Him the right way (most often at the big church building), yet when I leave the big church building it is SO easy to lost that connection because of the distractions of life 'n' such.  I want to, now, be even more deliberate with my worship.  The worship that I give to God so earnestly in the big church building should have insane and life-changing implications, ramifications, and other "-ications" that are obviously evident to people around me.  IF I claim to have been in the presence of the God of everything, shouldn't my actions be reflective of that... especially in a timely fashion?
I suggest (to myself) that I pair my worship to God in the big church building with an act of mercy and justice outside of the big church building.  I want an extension of that worship to be visible and connected to the invisible.
Simply, do something for someone that shows that my worship for God is real... not confined to a big concrete box.

2)  I want to be made aware of the things that are wrong with me.  Here I am talking about those subtle, little things that I assume are 'part of me' or that I might not even notice until it's way too late.  I already aware of the obvious, glaring ugly things in my life (and I equally hate them).  But, now, with 30 year old eyeballs and a redeemed eyeball of the heart, I'd like to become more aware of these things (like my sarcasm, and seemingly harmless joking) that tear down my relationships and my relationship with Jesus.
Wow, kinda scary actually looking at what I just typed.  (shrug).

3)  I really need to let more people see and hear what following Jesus means for my life.  I want to be a better friend.  I want to be a friend to those who NEED a friend-- a good friend.  I want to SHOW the Good News, not just speak it.  People need to see that what I believe is real-- not just words on a page to be proved to someone.  Feet to the pavement type of stuff, ya know?


dnez




2.21.2009

LA Times account of a homeless man

Here is one man's story of living on the streets.


Following Christ happens on the margins.


dnez

2.20.2009

Homeless Count 2009 (LAHSA)

Hey everyone,

I was able to participate in the 2009 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count about a month ago.  
It was a good experience and a strong vibe of teamwork was definitely found among volunteers at the event.

Thanks to those who helped on our small team counting in the South Bay for this event.
There is still opportunity to be involved in another phase of the 2009 Homeless Count.

From www.lahsa.org

Homeless Demographic Survey

LAHSA is currently recruiting 800 volunteers to conduct the Homeless Demographic Survey. 

During the first half of March 2009, volunteers will dedicate a weekend morning or weekday evening 

to interview homeless individuals on the streets or in selected shelters. All volunteers will receive 

training: training sessions will be offered across the County in the last week of February.


The results of the 2009 Homeless Count will be published later this year.

In other news, the federal government announced "awards for the 2009 Homeless Assistance Program to local Homeless Continuums of Care. Under the SuperNOFA Competitive Award program, the Los Angeles Continuum of Care (LACoC), headed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), received the largest award in its history, totaling $68,902,729.00."  Along with other grants that were awarded, the total funding for the City & County of Los Angeles totaled over $73.4 million.

Read the press release at the following link:

http://www.lahsa.org/docs/press_releases/supernofa09_release_final.pdf

2.18.2009

try not to forget

I had a great discussion recently with a couple of friends.  We were talking about the thoughts and memories that plague our minds that stem from past traumatic and negative events.  These events are often as a result of choices we've made that lead to pain or some sort of trial.  As we talked, we shared a common frustration that comes when long forgotten memories rear their head at inopportune times.  There are countless pursuits to rid one's self of these memories, to compartmentalize the thoughts and isolate them, or manipulate them into the start of a positive learning experience.

I've often pleaded with God to take away these thoughts and memories of past events--many times to no avail.  I've meditated on the scripture that says "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2 Cor 10:4-6."  But, many times I've become disillusioned to the proper meaning of Paul's words in the Bible--only to become further discouraged with the musings of my brain.  (Thankfully, I know what this means now.)

Most recently I've taken a different attitude towards these, at times, nightmarish thoughts.  What if there were a purpose to NOT having them vanquished from my mind?  I say, there is a purpose.  The hardest lessons of life are learned in the painful, dark night of the soul episodes we experience.  Of course, there are many tragic things that happen to us that are out of our control; however, there are many more painful things we experience that are a result of our own poor choices or miscalculations.  These are the things we shouldn't be so quick to forget.

Just as many cultures and nations throughout time have made memorials and monuments that remember tragic wars and their heroes included within, we too should create milestones and markers in our own lives that signify the 'big rock's that were moved in our life.  All too often we make the same mistake or choice when we find ourselves in recurring life situations.  It would benefit us greatly if we were reminded where we have come from and we were careful not to return there so easily.

These painful memories of tragedy and trauma offer potent reminders to maintain a course of reconciliation, redemption, renewal, and rebirth.  I once asked God for a 'spiritual lobotomy' -- some sort of magical, supernatural selective erasure of my mental past.  It would have saved me emotional pain at the time, yet it also would have deprived me of emotional healing and a timeless warning to avoid the mistakes of my own history.


Isaiah 43:19  
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.


d

2.16.2009

The Idea Camp - 2/27 thru 2/28

I'm attending. Check it out!

One Year Bible stuff

While reading the OYB, today's reading created some good connections between 1st and New testament readings for me.  Looking into the legal description of sacrifices and how they should be offered, God was clear to add that "You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. (Lev. 2:13).  This created such a great connection for me to Jesus' proclamation that "you are the salt of the earth."  Jesus definitely knew what He was talking about when choosing His words.  He really knew His audience.  We could probably learn a thing or two before opening our mouths... and spouting off.  I know I could.  I am fascinated by God's inclusion of salt to the grain offerings.  The seasoning to the offering was required.  There is an extravagance that is reserved for our offering to God shown in our lives.  We often mistake the extravagance of our LIFESTYLE with the extravagance of our worship to God.  Those aren't the same things.  Would I give to God what I give to my wife, my kids, my friends, my co-workers, on and on and on?  Hopefully not.  Many of us have probably been made aware of the multi-purposes of salt throughout the ages (seasoning, preservation, etc.)  Whatever the purpose of adding salt to the offering was, God desires an offering that is not ordinary or mundane.  How much more should our lives have the effect of 'salt of the earth.'  There is a quality to the Christian that is likened to a seasoning, a flavor, an extravagant offering of giving ourselves to God and others.

I also liked the verse that says, "All fat is the Lord's."  Has a good ring to it.


Moving on...

Psalm 35:18
"I will thank you in the great congregation;
   in the mighty throng I will praise you."

This verse reminds me of my childhood, believe it or not.  Growing up in church, I remember that at pretty much every church service people were standing up and talking about God and their own life.  It was 'giving a testimony' in the simplest form.  People would go up to the front, grab a mic, and say where they were coming from, how Jesus changed them, and where they were heading.  I really, really miss this from church.  To me, hearing the effects of Jesus on someone's personal life and seeing the real change in them gives such credence to the Bible and the God in the Bible.  King David, in this Psalm, talks about the 'congregation' and the 'mighty throng.'  It wasn't at his small group or on the phone with someone (duh)... this happened in front of tons of people.  He would put his own reputation on the line--publically--to talk about His God and how He is the rescuer from the junk and evil in this world.

Wow, it seems that these two sections of the Word talk about how we display the good things that God has done in us.  We offer an extravagant offering of worship and tell EVERYONE about it.

d

2.12.2009

a picture of God's love and holiness...


My wife and I were having a lively discussion about the effects of the God's love on our lives and I was making my point to her that every Christ-follower must fall deeply in love with Christ and know the Father's love.  Here's how it played out...

My wife and I, joined by our two children, were enjoying our coffee beverages and pastries in front of our local coffee shop.  My wife was seated across the table from me on a bench next with our children.  I was in a chair (out of harm's way).  Our son began to climb on top of my wife attempting to plant himself in her lap.  As they wrestled on the bench outside, my wife put her small, non-fat latte w/ whip on the arm of the bench in preparation to subdue the toddler.  They jostled about and all of the sudden she screams!  The boy follows suit with a cry of his own.  Having some experience with hot coffee, I jumped from my seat ready to administer first aid to anyone in need.  Fortunately, no one was burned, however, the latte fell victim to the scuffle.

My point had been made.

After all were soothed back to contentment (and a new latte was purchased), I explained by point:

So many Christians mete out God's love and holiness in our lives in the same way we sip a piping hot latte through the tiny hole of a plastic lid.  We cradle the dangerously hot contents of God's love and holiness in a small, insulated cup with a trendy and functional cup sleeve as to not feel the true effects of that consuming love (all the while displaying our popular brand of faith to those around us).  We aim to 'play it safe' with God, rather than immerse ourselves entirely in His presence--submitting ourselves to whatever outcome is manifested.  It was made so plain to me that God wants, in essence, to burn us with His love and holiness (you know? get our attention).  We are not to take comfortable sips at our leisure-- when it seems appropriate and safe.  Instead, we are to be consumed by God's love and His holiness so that a lasting effect is made upon us.  We are to have a profound, undeniable, and transforming encounter with the true love and perfect holiness that God is.  This encounter is on His terms, not ours.

It is this type of encounter and relationship with God that I want more of.

d