What about when your prayers don’t get answered?

•May 19, 2011 • 3 Comments

A couple of days ago my group and I were told we were going to go to a hospital to spend time with the sick and pray for them. What a great experience, I thought, I can go see the reality of being a Haitian. Finally the time came for us to get in the car and drive down to the hospital, and we were all pretty excited for the time we were given. When I finally stepped foot into the hospital I realized that this was nothing that I could’ve imagined. The place was an old airplane hanger that had been converted to a makeshift hospital using prefabs. I am not a doctor but I do know that hospitals need medicine and sterile environments, I saw very little medication and no sterile areas.

The first two rooms we went into were for children, what a hard way to start the day. Looking at children who are holding onto life with whatever strength they have left, just hoping for a miracle has a way of jarring any human being.  I had taken my camera along in the hopes of maybe capturing a couple of moments to remember the day, but there is this interesting thing that happens with photography, it seems that seeing a picture of yourself on a tiny screen gets rid of language boundaries and brings dignity. I was walking around taking pictures of babies and showing the moms for a good fifteen minutes and the moms were absolutely loving it. They would look at the picture, their eyes would light up and they would laugh. I have to thank God for the opertunity he gave me that day to bring joy to those people.

One mom in particular came running to get me so I could take a picture of her beautiful baby girl. When I showed her the picture she laughed and showed her other daughter (maybe three years old) and then called over other woman in the ward to look at it as well. I could see pride in her eyes and that made my heart skip a beat. When I looked down at the baby girl I could see she was extremely sick, I asked what was wrong and her mom told me she had anemia. I don’t know much about desease, but I know that anemia is pretty manageable, so I sat with the child, prayed a prayer of healing and then walked to the next room.

Here is a picture of the girl:

Five minutes after taking the picture that girl died.

She

died.

Death is always an interesting topic, and it’s always easier coming up with cute answers until you are faced with a crying mother who just lost a beautiful baby girl. The isn’t a new thing, children die of curable diseases every day and they are going to continue to. This is a harsh reality.

When people go to church they hear of the times when the sick grew back limbs or when the dead start breathing again, and by all means these are great things to celebrate, but what about the times you pray for a child and then minutes later she dies? What about then? How often are these situations discussed?

Eugene Peterson says we ignore these questions because “it is a blasphemous assault on the precariously maintained America spiritually to the pursuit of happiness.  Wanting to avoid the evidence that things are not right with the world, without love, without faith, without sacrifice.  It is a lot easier to keep the American faith if we do not have to looking the face of suffering, if we do not have to listen to the lament and do not need to deal with our tears.”

People who do not believe in an after life do not have the excuse of heaven, and maybe they are lucky for that. They are forced to deal with the here and now, they are forced to realize what their decisions do to those who are lower on the economic food chain. In the face of unbearable disaster, like a child dying of an extremely curable desease, I have heard many “believers” use the safety net of the after life and even call the death of a child a thing of mercy. By no means do I disregard that the child is now able to feel no pain that that this is probably better for that child, but I think the mercy God shows is probably not for the child, its probably for us, because we are the ones in need of mercy. We caused a world where children die of anemia while we go out to buy that third car that will get more miles to the tank.
Albert y. Hsu says this; ” Christians something think that we are not supposed to grieve at death because our faith and theology provide us with the confidence about heaven and eternal  life. But while 1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, that we are to grieve as those who have no hope, we grieve never the less.  Those without hope grieve in one way, those with hope grieve in another way.  Ether way, grief is universal and NOT to be avoided.  It is a legitimate, response to loss.”

We live in a world where the rich are getting richer and the poor are dying. If you are reading this blog I can assure you that are firmly in the former group. As human beings we have a responsibility to do something about this. We have to say enough is enough. Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had and give it to the poor otherwise he would not inherit the kingdom of God. Have you ever done that? Have you ever even thought about doing that? We ask why we do not see more heaven on earth, maybe its because we are too busy creating hell? We have been told to love our neighbor, well our neighbors are starving to death.

Just before I left the hospital a desperate mother passed me a piece of paper. When I looked at it I realized that it was a prescription slip, and without a seconds thought I handing it back to her and said “sorry I can’t help you”. Bull shit. (sometimes I think its ok to swear, here is one of those places). I have enough money to help her and many others in the hospital without it even affecting my bank account. But I tell myself that if I help her where does it stop? I found an answer to that question that night.

It stops when children stop dying of iron deficiencies.

Thats when it stops.

Until then we should be thanking God that he is merciful enough to take care of the children we have neglected.

1 John 2:3-4 says ..”by this we know that we know Him, if we keep hi commandments. He who says “I know Him” and does not keep His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him.” So what is this Commandment that the writer is talking about? “…Love one another, as I have loved you, so that you can also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35). Maybe it’s time to recognize that we have been liars. The most basic form of love is to care for someone who is dying, in fact I’m sure that doesn’t even fall in the category of love, I think that falls in the category of being a human.

Jesus was very harsh to people who didn’t take care of those in need, remember this passage:

“…Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
(Matthew 25:41-43)

Interesting that He didn’t say that we should be happy that the sick are going to a better place, he says depart from me I do not know you.”

Yesterday was a wake up call for me. I realized how selfish I had been. I think God for the mercy He has given me and I stand up for change. May that be the last time I look at a dead child and know that I am part of the reason why children are dying of curable diseases. May we stop looking for excuses, but take responsibility for our actions and begin a new world today. Maybe we should join the poor, join the mom and sister who lost their family, join Jesus and weep. It begins with me, and it begins with you.

*edit:

Let me add this. I have no interest in creating shame. Shame only ever produces guilt, and I do not think that God honers that. I know that an initial response to reading something like this could very possibly be shame, and that is a legitimate feeling, but I am asking for you to move beyond that. I am looking for people to become passionate. Passion brings about change, passion creates fire, passion saves peoples lives and passion brings heaven on earth. This is what I think the world needs.

If you are interested in finding out how you can be involved with creating heaven on earth here are a couple projects on the top of my head:

http://www.charitywater.org/ (bringing clean drinking water to the underprivileged in third and forth world countries, unclean drinking water is a major killer in these places)

www.notforsalecampaign.org (I can’t speak more highly of this company, especially because my amazing brother is part of it so I guess I am a bit bias, but they do amazing work with human slavery)

http://www.fmsc.org (feed my starving children is an amazing organziation who are sending in food to third and fourth world countries)

There are tons and tons of organizations, I really would recommend you take a stand behind some of them and do your part to make a difference.

If you are interested in the concept of heaven on earth and hell on earth and how our actions can affect which is more visible I recommend love wins by Rob Bell.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe him,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

(Isaiah 58:6-9)


The human will to thrive

•May 3, 2011 • 7 Comments

It has been just over a month since I stepped foot in the beautiful island of Haiti. And what a month it has been. If I were to say that I have loved every second of it, I would be lying in the first couple lines of this blog and that’s never a good way to start. Some days I’ve wanted nothing more than to just go home and hug my beautiful girlfriend and spend time with my loving family. But every single day I have become more and more thankful for the journey that I find myself on.

One thing I have been very intentional in doing is to take the life experience I have had while being here and use a holistic approach to how I apply it to my life. I would like to tell you a story that will undoubtedly be stained into my memory until the day I can no longer be involved in the beautiful story that is our lives.

I have recently moved to Gonieves, but for the last four weeks I have lived in Port-au-Prince. While there, my team and I thought it would be of vital importance to befriend families in our area. I was extremely excited about this idea because I am a very relational person and thrive off of contact with others.

After a while of spending time with many of the kids in the area one of the children invited us to go to her house and meet her family. To be honest I was a bit apprehensive to just walk into a stranger’s home, but what can you do? As the young girl pushed open the metal gates to her house I would never have been ready for what I would experience. After meeting the family of three girls, two boys and a mom, through mostly hand gestures and hugs as only one of us could speak French, we seemed to seamlessly become a part of their family. A much cherished and worn rope was taken out of one of the rooms and we were all taught the joys of jumping and laughing in time, some call it jump rope, I call it worship.

After a never ending game of “jump rope”, Miss Normil (or as I like to call her, mom) went out and bought us all mangos. Now you have to remember this is the poor of the poor, this was a massive sacrifice for her. This became evident when there were no mangos for the children, “they will get theirs later” she said in French.  As I ate my mango I saw how much joy it bought “mom” that she could bless us.

In my last post I asked if there was a stronger force than the human will to survive. Now I am forced to answer that question with a resounding, “yes, yes there is.” In this beautiful woman I saw a will to thrive. And this happened through being able to serve other people.

That is beautiful

That is the kingdom of God

Dare I say,

Heaven

On

Earth?

Of the two people I told this story to they both used the same word to describe the experience. They both used the word “awkward”. And wow, were they right. The whole situation seemed so wrong, I mean we were the ones calling ourselves “missionaries” and here we were being served for no specific reason. But the more I think about this the more I think this is how the kingdom of God works. It seems that in His Kingdom He could care less about what or who we think is capable of doing His work, which is creating heaven on earth. In fact, it seems like God continues to use “the least of these”, while we (us exceedingly rich Christians) sit trying to manage God and how He works.

After the awkward mango experience I was happy to go back to how things were, but mom had a different plan.

She

Got

A

Bucket

And

Washed

Our

feet.

Read that again and again, until you feel that lump in your throat, and then read it one more time.

Awkward.  But there was something holy in that moment, something that I can only explain as awkward holiness. And it was beautiful.

One of my favorite saints is a man by the name of St. Francis. There was a point in his life where he had to make the decision between the riches his father was offering him, or live in poverty to do the work he felt he was being called to. St. Francis’s father said to that he had given St. Francis everything he had and ridiculed him for his decisions. What St. Francis did next is quite mind-blowing. In front of a jury St Francis took the clothes off his back and gave it to his father, butt naked, he stood there and chose poverty.

I could imagine being there that day, on one hand going “yes brother Francis, stick it to the man” and on the other hand trying not to stare at my naked friend.

Awkward holiness.

As I walked away from her house that day I felt like I had just seen the face of God. I felt as if, for the first time in my life, I had really felt like what heaven on earth would feel and taste like. And that sweet mango tasted great.

Then something dawned on me, in our conversations we never spoke about her thoughts on atonement, or if she thought the world was created in seven literal days, or if she believed in a eternal hell or what her opinion was of believers baptism (you know, the “important things” of our faith), in fact, come to think about it, I’m not sure we even asked her what she thought about Jesus. None of these things stopped all of us involved in having a deeply spirtual, God filled and life changing experience. I read a blog the other day about this guy who was naming who he believed to be modern day heratics. His thesis statement was, “don’t let love blind your spiritual eyes”.  After the experience I had that day, I have to say that I think that statement should be reversed. I think it should say this:

Don’t let your spiritual doctrines blind your eyes of God’s love.

I have had a very interesting couple of years with my faith and with the “Christian community”. In my journey of doubt and questioning I came to some conclusions that were different to what is taught in conservative circles. I have always enjoyed writing and talking about my journey, which has had many positive points, but it does mean that people are able to come to conclusions about me without ever actually having a conversation with me. I have had parents of friends who are very close to me telling their children that I am a bad influence on their child’s spiritual growth. In fact I even had one parent tell me that I am deep in the wide path and I am quickly taking their child off of the narrow path(a very out of context verse, but that’s for another time). I can’t explain to you how difficult it is for a young man who is desperately searching for God to hear those words. At the time these experiences made it very easy for me to lash out at the churches in my area, and for me to become very bitter towards “Christians”. But after getting my feet washed by mom I had a lot of learning and growing to do. It seems that I had joined “the great adventures of missing the point”

When Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment, this was his reply:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

All the law and the the prohets hang on these two commandments, it seems that the most important thing Christians can do is love. Apparently this is what will set us apart. Isn’t it beautiful that in the world we live in our neighbors could be ANYONE, even someone who doesn’t believe what you and I believe. Yet we have been called to love like God loves us.
This is a challenge to myself first and foremost, but because you are reading my thoughts, I would love for you to join me on this journey. From my point of view it seems that Christians have lost the ability to disagree FOR each other. Let me explain what I mean here.  We have all become so dogmatic in our beliefs and our interpretations of the bible that we have found it necessary run back to the Middle Ages and get our torches ready for when people don’t come to the same conclusions as us.

When a difference in opinion comes up we have to make a decision, we can either find the positive in each other’s opinions, or we can try make the person look as stupid as possible.

One ends in death.

One ends in life.

Just to make this crystal clear, I am not saying that we should just accept everyone’s beliefs and say that everyone is right. But there is a middle ground here, where we can agree to disagree on things, and in that disagreement, that white space, maybe just maybe, we can find God in each other.

I’m tired. I don’t want to argue anymore, it never seems to lead anywhere. I’ve judged too many people for their beliefs and finally its time for me to take the weight off my back, pick up a bucket of water and wash some peoples feet.

Maybe you have to do the same, maybe, like me, you have been quick to write people off because of their beliefs, doctrines, life choices or even more ridiculous then that, the theologians they follow. Maybe, like me, you have forgotten to accept that everyone is broken, and no one has this spirituality thing figured out.

Maybe it’s time to listen to Jesus when he tells us to not judge each other, but to love everyone like yourself. Maybe it’s time for all of us to feel that awkward holiness of washing someone’s feet.

May shalom (completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or arguements.) rest on all of you today.

The human will to survive

•April 16, 2011 • 6 Comments

I have been in Haiti for just over two weeks now. Nothing could have prepared me for what I have experienced and seen. I have always been pretty good with finding words to explain the emotions or life experiences that I have been through, but since being here I have found myself lying in bed staring at the ceiling  and going “what now? How do I deal with this? How can I explain this to people who aren’t here?” I have come to the conclusion that I just can’t, that there will be no way to express the heartbrokenness I feel here.

All these people are looking for good news, and it’s not finding their ears.

To explain what I mean I will have to give you a tiny bit of history. In 1804 a group of Haitian people made a pact with the voodoo god that if their  people could have freedom from the french he could rein for 200 years. Bad idea. So they got their freedom and obviously all the other bad things that come with making pacts with voodoo gods. Things haven’t gone well. Thankfully that pact ended in 2004, something I am sure most people are very happy about.  Then as we all know last year there was a horrible earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti.

In step the Christians, who say that this earthquake happened because of God’s wrath for their disobedience. (I’ve heard this in churches, volunteers, people on the street, this seems to be a general consensus)

Excuse me?

To me that doesn’t sound like good news.

In fact, if I am honest, that sounds like voodoo. Let me expand on that. The voodoo belief is that if you do not please the gods, if you do not sacrifice enough, then the voodoo gods are going to curse your land. When I read that sentence, I can sum it up by using one word, fear.

I serve a beautiful, loving, caring God. I serve a God who loves everyone, regardless of what they have done or what they believe. My God is the God who stands in the road wishing his son would come home to him, not a god who smites his son for leaving.

This is good news.

This is what people need to hear.

They know fear, and no one likes fear.

Fear does not create love, fear creates fear.

The next thing I think needs to be pointed out is that I do believe that God can use disasters to create beauty and to bring about change, but it is in spite of the destruction, I am unable to believe that my God is so weak that He has to use death and destruction to bring about change.

Do you know who uses death and destruction?

The evil one.

Satan.

Not God.

His tools are peace and joy.

I think we need to be very careful with what we attribute to God. When we tell people that suffering is their fault we are manifesting guilt. What we are essentially doing is telling a 5 year old child that the reason her parents are divorcing is because of her.

Interestingly enough, my intense feeling of sorrow gets changed into gratitude when I walk through areas where people have no choice but to call tents  their home. And I see something beautiful while looking at a three year old kid with a massive stomach who clearly hasn’t eaten in days. Don’t get me wrong, those things are very hard to deal with, and I know God sits in heaven crying for those people. But I see something in the people’s eyes here that I haven’t felt in many months (while being in a first world country), and that is the human will to survive.

They get up, amidst the rubble and start their day.

They live in 4 man tents with 8 or 9 other people and are thankful for the warmth it provides

They do everything and anything they can to get a tiny bit of money to buy some food.

Everyday.

Is there a force stronger than that will?

And I get to walk into those areas and find a young child sharing his bread with his sister. I am not bringing God to them, it seems that God  beat me too it. God is holding that child who desperately needs water and feeling that pain with him.

God

Is

Already

There.

Reconciliation or justice? Or both? Rob Bells new book

•March 28, 2011 • 14 Comments

Let me start with saying this:

I do not claim to be unbiased, I do not claim to have all the answers and I am not going to tell you everything he says that I agree with or disagree with, as that is not the point. Read that book yourself. Make up your own mind.

A good starting point is to point out my worldview and my bias towards Rob and the “post modern church”.

I love Rob Bell, I think he has a way of explaining things and looking at scripture in a way that makes it alive. One thing I can’t accept is when people say that he doesn’t use the bible and makes up things to fit what he says. One of Rob’s strengths is that he is always using the bible, different interpretations and historical context, in fact I would go as far as to say that Rob Bell uses the bible and stories from the bible more then an extremely large portion of authors I have read.

We need to come to the understanding that just because a person comes to a different conclusion to us after reading the same book (in this case we are talking about the bible, but we could be talking about any other book) does not mean that they are making things up or not taking the book as seriously as we do. When we start believing that our interpretations are as “God breathed” as the words of Jesus (and if we are honest, most of us, including myself from time to time, do this) we are stepping on very thin ice. Think about that for a second. We all come from different backgrounds, we all have different life experiences, we all went to different churches where different things were taught AND INTERPRETED and when we read the bible all of those things influence how we interpret things, weather we want them to or not.  We have to accept that there is a very large possibility that what we have believed our whole lives can be wrong, or at least often need more questioning.

Which gets me to my next point, a lot of people don’t like Rob because he asks a lot of questions, often without giving answers to said questions, and when people ask him direct questions he often asks them a question back or doesn’t give them direct answers. This makes people very angry, and I mean VERY ANGRY, I mean how dare a person of such authority not give straightforward answers and just confuse his followers even more. HERETIC! And my answer to this is, I know this other guy who did that, and people got really really angry with him. They would ask him direct questions and instead of just answering them this guy would tell them some random story, which even the people closest to him often didn’t understand. They also called this guy a heretic and at about the middle of that story they got so sick of his heresies that they ended up nailing him to a cross. Interesting to say the least. Why on earth would he do that? I mean how much easier would it have been for him to just come down, give us a rulebook and then leave? Maybe because he wants them to wrestle with their faith, discuss with others, debate and come to a conclusion after a period of questioning, not because someone said it but because they have actually thought about it. I honestly believe that spirituality is supposed to be a journey and not a destination. I can see some of you with fire coming out of your ears because you think I am saying Rob Bell is like Jesus, but that’s the wrong interpretation. I am saying his teaching style is how Jesus taught.

I am a page into this and I haven’t even said one word about the book, which I am sure is annoying for some, I mean you came to read what I thought about the book right? But all of these things are vitally important to understanding my thought process. One more note and then we can jump into what I thought about the book. The book velvet Elvis saved my faith. I was so sick and tired of trying to figure out everything and I was terrified to let people know what I was actually thinking, which on most days was “do I actually believe this”, but I knew I wasn’t supposed to ask that, right? That book opened my eyes to the fact that God has no issue with us asking questions and wrestling with our faith, in fact it seems that he wants us to. (I mean no one wants the middle ages again right?) Rob Bell says “ Let’s be very clear: We do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescuses us from death, sin and destruction. God is the rescuer. This is crucial for our peace, because we shape our God, and then our God shapes us. Inquisitions, persecutions, trails, book burnings, blacklisting- when religious people become violent, it is because they have been shaped by their God, who is violent. We see this destructive shaping alive and well in the toxic, venomous nature of certain discussions and debates on the internet. For some, the highest form of allegiance to their God is to attack, defame, and slander others who don’t articulate matters of faith as they do.” And to finish off this portion and to move onto the actual book, lets finish off with a couple words from the mouth of Jesus: “ I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”  How different would this world be if we weren’t interested in judging everyone that doesn’t have the same thoughts as us. Seems like Jesus wasn’t interested in doing that?

So finally, that is what I believe and my beginning point before picking up the book.

I know a lot of you want to know if he says that there is no hell or that everyone will go to heaven. HE DOES NOT, and in fact he makes it very clear that he does not think that. He also does not say that you can get to heaven without declaring Jesus is Lord. Although I have heard and watched a lot of discussions where they make it seem like he is saying that, but they are taking what he says out of context. You can make anyone say anything if you look hard enough. I heard an interview with the guy from way of the master (I know I know) saying that he wants to, and I quote “ring Rob Bells neck for telling people there is no hell” and to that I say before going on the radio and talking about a book, how about you read it first? I mean I would think that’s a pretty obvious thing.

Now I am by no means saying that I agree with everything in the book. But I am also not saying that I disagree. He makes some interesting points about a bunch of things that I am really not sure about. BUT everything he says in this book has been said many times before, and I have heard it from many other people, and heard the argument many times while in college, and he can back it up with scripture and show many other people who say the same thing. Does this mean he is right? No. Obviously not. Does this mean he is wrong? No. Obviously not.  St John of Meyer said it like this: “We have to learn to hold our theology lightly. To be as honest as we can in our searching of the scriptures, and our journey to know God more, acknowledging that we are still only clutching at straws in the dark. And we need to be as gracious to our fellow pilgrims who are just trying to do the same.” What I can say is that it is very obvious that Rob is being intentional about “clutching at straws” in the best way he can.

Let me put it in a way that a lot of my conservative friends can understand: If you do not call CS Louis a heretic, you CAN NOT call Rob Bell one.

So what is the book about? What is Rob really trying to bring across? Good question Ryan, thank you Ryan.  This is his point, Christians for so long have used life after death to scare people into believing what they believe. I was involved in a discussion with a friend of mine I take very seriously who used to believe in God, but couldn’t do it anymore for this exact reason, this is what he said:

“This is why Christianity preaches the doctrine of sin, heaven and hell etc. It’s ALL about fear.”

It’s all about fear. This is what we have taught people. “Believe exactly what I say, or you will burn in hell forever, and that will be horrible, so you better just believe me” This is why people walk away from Christianity or would never even think about considering it.

We have focused so much on life after death, especially making sure you don’t go to hell that we have totally forgotten to teach about and live life before death. Are we bringing heaven on earth or hell on earth? And do we only bring heaven on earth to the people we think are “in”? We are called to show the love of Jesus and his grace and forgiveness and to do away with using fear TO EVERYONE. Because Jesus DID NOT go around using his main teaching method or his main point that you have to agree with him or burn in hell. Christianity isn’t a religion about being able to get into a club and get passed the bouncer while everyone else sits outside, but we have made it into that haven’t we?

Here is what Rob says: “A discussion about how to “just get into heaven” has no place in the life of a disciple of Jesus, because it’s missing the point of it all.”

In the book irresistable revolution Shane Claiborne puts it this way:

‎”You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too.”

So this is the point: Love wins, loving people around us regardless of what they believe and how they act, because as Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” That’s ahead of me. That’s ahead of you.

Does this mean that God does not judge people according to their decisions in this life, and does this mean that what we do in this life is of little to no consequence? Of course not. Of course God is going to judge the men who raped my friend, is he going to do it the way I think he should? Probably not. Does that bother me? Yes, and no. I’m not going to act like God and say what that judgment should be. Does my decisions to love people on this earth actually matter? Of course. But, Jesus died not just for the in crowd, but for the men who raped my friend, whether I want to accept that or not. “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5

I have intentionally not said exactly what is said in the book, or gone into much detail, because I really want people to come up to their own conclusions, not my conclutions or anyone else’s. The next time someone tells me they haven’t finished reading a book in years but then ten minutes later starts telling me about how heretical Rob Bell is, I’m probably going to explode. But if you do decide to read this book, which I really hope you do, I need you to know that you need to come into it with an open mind, and realize that although you may be under the impression that you are right, you might actually be wrong. And so might Rob. But if your point is to find things that are “heretical” don’t waste your time reading it, just go look on the web you will find it. If you are interested in wrestling and be willing to think about things and speak with other people about it and be willing to accept that there are different thought processes about things and that until we get to heaven no one will be able to prove any of this, then this is one of the best books I can ever recommended to you.

Let me put the question this way: Surely, regardless of your views on heaven and hell, and who is “in” we should hope that everyone gets to be in heaven and united? (Or do we think that some people actually deserve hell and torment? And if we do think that some people deserve hell, then I personally think its time to read your bible again. Start at the prodical son.)

Finally, a quote from a crazy irish man named Peter Rollins:

“Buenaventura Durruti, the Spanish anarchist, said the only church that illuminates is a burning one… There is something profoundly Christian about what he said, that we should set fire to our beliefs, we should be courageous to set fire to our churches, and then to walk inside and stay there. Because perhaps what we will find is that something will remain in the aftermath of the destruction, maybe not your beliefs the way they were, maybe not all of the things you hold precious to you, maybe you will find that there are three things left, faith hope and love, the greatest being love. “

I love you all, regardless of if you agree with me or not.

May the peace and love of God be with you.

The importance of handstands in modern day America

•February 6, 2011 • 1 Comment

As a person gets older he/she/it is able to look back on his/her/it’s life and find certain reoccurring situations. For example, in my life I have created what some might call a habit of starting projects way after they shoud’ve began. My mom likes to call this lazy, I say its all got to do with what you consider “on time”. This blog is no different, I planned to start this three weeks ago, but at the end of the day we find ourselves here, and what a good day today is.

For those of you who somehow found your way onto this blog and haven’t had a conversation with me in the last couple of weeks I will update you on the new adventure I have embarked on in 150 words or less:

On the 17th of January I left a beautiful place that I like to call paradise. I left behind friends, family and the most beautiful girl in the world to travel 24 hours by plane and land in Los Angeles. I did this for one specific reason: Finding God. I have plunged into a program called DTS which stands for discipleship training school. I sleep in trailer house with three bedrooms in, my room is the smallest, which I share with three other guys. My days consist of going to classes until 12:30, then doing work duties for four hours on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Fridays I get to go down to the skate park and hang with the skaters of LA, which is good fun. (that was 128 words of very unexciting writing, but its in the past now and we can all go on with our lives knowing we are all on the same page)

I have uncovered some of America’s big secrets, and even though I know they don’t want the rest of the world to know this, I’m going to tell you in any case, mainly because I have never really liked secrets.

1.) Hollywood does not look like they want us to believe. It is in fact very middle class, and dare I say kind of gross looking. That walk of fame is the only coolish thing and that is full of people impersonating (and badly) other people while trying to get you to give them a dollar so they can pay for their rent. This is a true story.

2.) America is not a place for hippies to live. Don’t try get on public transport without shoes on, because that is a health and safety violation, people could get some Africa disease and die. Land of the free, as long as you wear shoes. You would think that a first world country would cater for all types of diets. Wrong again. Just meat meat meat, but they do tell you how many calories are in  every chip you eat, which is nice I guess.

So the question is, how does a hippie survive? A hippie survives by making sure his quota of handstands are done every single day. The feeling of blood rushing to your head is the only way one can ever live in such an environment as the Americas.

Having said all of that the base that I live on is pretty damn cool. The people here are all really nice and are, for the most part, all on the same page and are seeking to be better people. I have made some amazing friends and have laughed until I cried on more then one occasion.

Week five begins tomorrow, and I have learnt one major thing: God= unconditional love. Now I might’ve thought I knew that before I left, but now I actually believe it. Christians are all about making you walk, talk, look and use the same mouth wash as them, but Jesus isn’t about that stuff. He’s about loving you because you are you and thats the God I want to serve. Maybe Christians are the reason for the downfall of Christianity, and it has very little to do with the “scary secular world”. This is something to think about, regardless of if you have the same beliefs as me or not, at the end of the day love and kindness is what makes this world bearable, are you showing this to others, or just the people you feel deserve it?

Oh and finally, I have still been taking photos and enjoying that, here is a picture of a guy called Sean, who runs the skate ministry I am involved in, doing some mad trick.

 

Big hippie hugs to you all🙂