Tag Archives: Bible

Christmas Politickle

Those who know me know that I am not really too into politics.  Usually.

That is to say, I do like comparing politics with the Bible. Typically this is just a messy hobby, kinda like how I assume painting abstract art would be. In fact, I often just use politics for my own activist agenda, and then don’t care. I might as well be slapping mustard and ketchup onto the governmental canvas, adding my minuscule sway just in case it makes the painting look better. Most of the time, though, I only get annoyed by things I don’t like on each side of the red-and-blue political spectrum. This frustration is similar to how football players generally get annoyed when they think they see a good play hidden within a Jackson Pollock painting (but then get angered because it’s not really there). Why is it not there, you may ask? I assume it is because Pollock did not really care about football. At least not enough to hide secret cool football game-moves inside of his paintings. I guess I should do a little research to back that last statement up, but if you are so interested (or know a Red Skins player who is) feel free to get back to me with any notable findings.

My point is that I think politics are annoying and interesting at the same time. And that it is hard to justify religious beliefs in politics, even though in reality that is the foundation of all politics: Values. And, if you don’t know, values come from worldviews, which are pretty much a mash-up of cultures and religions, blah, blah, blah. And luckily, I can back that statement up because I studied it for years in college (I know you were concerned).

Therefore, I find it fun to make fun of politics (in fun). So with that said, I share this Merry Christmas politickle-me-laughing clip with you. Even so, I do have to say that Colbert’s last couple sentences in this were pretty much exceptionally thought-provoking, if not totally right-on. Note: No disrespect is intended towards my more right (double-meaning?) republican friends or for Baby Jesus by re-posting this (whom actually isn’t a baby anymore).

 
Because WordPress won’t let me embed the video- CLICK HERE – to listen to Stephen Colbert’s “Democrats Don’t Get Christmas.”

Soundtracks: Changing the World in Humility

Sometimes I am pretty sure the only reason our lives are so dull is because we don’t have the appropriate music playing in the background constantly. I am convinced my life would be amazing as any Oscar-winning movie if some D.J. in the sky always had a perfect soundtrack going for me.

This evening, I was sitting here feeling slightly melancholy. It was one of those rare days when it hit me that my kids are growing up right before my eyes; the moment is precious and yet it will slip away. I know in my mind that these are the moments I want to remember forever. I am often told how cute my kids are. I remember what it was like before I had kids, finding myself momentarily impressed with the beauty, life, and adorableness of a child I would be watching. But I struggle with the infamous disease all parents seem to battle, just knowing this rather than experiencing it. You see, I wish I could typically feel these sweet moments for my own kids. They are like drops of water that I hold on a leaf, but will soon stream off, rushing into the river with countless other drops. Coldplay, Fix You.

I won’t say I was sad tonight. Just pensive and melancholy. And the amazing Pandora has been creating my soundtrack, playing in the background.  All at once I wanted to capture the moment: my children, this night, this day, the urge to read sacred ancient text, wanting to discover who God is. Mainly just for time to be penetrated in the depth of me. So I heavily drank down my coffee just to feel the warmth spreading to the inside of my body, imagining its heat to be the moment becoming unforgettably one with me. The music in the background seemed appropriate, creating the soundtrack I craved. Album Leaf, Red Eye.

I am still young, beautiful and sharp. I am blessed in my marriage and with my children. I am as rich as can be in every way.  I have a wonderful life. And then often I feel pride. I struggle to believe I am not the end-all, as if I matter so much that the world as a whole would be sad without me. All I can see is things through my own perspective. I guess I know that I will die trying to change the world, and so somehow I begin to think that I am important. David Crowder, Alleluia Sing!

I sat in a room today with other people who are also trying to change the world. It was energizing. If you could feel electric without it hurting, that is what this room full of hopeful world-changers felt like. It was that same feeling you might have gotten the first time as a young teenager when someone told you that you mattered to them. Or that you could be anything you wanted to be, back when you might actually believe them. I then glanced over at one woman, and I realized she just might be feeling the same way I often feel- important in her own right. I then remembered the awkward moments I’ve had with so many other people who have my same interests. Maybe its just that we are so used to no one else caring that we think of ourselves as better, or maybe its just too hard to get on the same page as someone else. Regardless, those focused on one cause or another seem to want to find others like-minded, yet when they do it might be hard to practice humility and work as a team. Florence and the Machine, Between Two Lungs.

And then I remembered I am just one person, whom God is called, amongst the millions. It doesn’t mean that I am not important. It just means that I am an essential part something more important. I am part of a group of people who is God’s own, His instrument of change within this world. Citizen Cope, Let the Drummer Kick.

My pastor mentioned The Beatitudes today, in a message focusing on the teaching of Jesus. When was the last time I read those? God is an Astronaut, Fall From Stars.

The Beatitudes

3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Matthew 5:3-10 NLT

I look at that and I think “There I am!” or “That is so not me!” And yet, although I feel like each verse has a right to be given special attention, especially in light of international or social issues, the one that is speaking the purest to me now is that the humble are blessed. They will inherit the earth. Jesus taught about humility while living an example of humility I can’t even begin to comprehend. Mute Math, Break the Same.

I feel like it is wisdom who speaks, reminding us world changers that in the height (or lows) in our hopes of affecting this world for good, we will make no difference and have no lasting change without humility. Yet, when our pride melts away, the promise is that we will inherit the world. How’s that for being a world changer?  The Kooks, Seaside.

If my life had a soundtrack it would have  music with a strong beat to keep me pushing forward, to make a difference. It would have a lot of happy, busy and excited music. And it would also have music to express my roadblocks and sorrow. But my soundtrack would also have a lot of melancholy music, although not in order to depress. Instead its purpose would be to assist me to stop and think. To remind me of what I have been given, and whom I am in debited to for marvelous love. The music might move me to slide off my bed, humbly curl up on my knees besides it, and ponder how life is just so much bigger than me. It turns out am lucky to have a part in it. Feist, The Water.

Delicious Water: Charities

So, your gonna give some water, aren’t you! Good for you! Consider this your one stop-and-shop for clean water. Unless I forgot some charities. Which I have. After all, you can’t expect me to know every charity and organization there is out there! So I will just give you a few, all of which are not going to steal your money, and rather use if for good.

This link, to charity:water briefly gives more information on the importance of water, which you might not know (unless you read my post Blog Action Day: Delicious Water). Just so you know, I really like charity:water. This might have to do with the fact that 100% of their profits go to water, or maybe its because the guy who started it was just a passionate young person who was also born in September, just like me. Which matters, of course.

Project H2O is another organization worth considering donating to. They give 100% of their donations away,which is one of the ways they are similar to charity:water of NYC. I’m guessing it is because Project H20 is from Georgia, without the rich and famous promoting it, which is why this organization hasn’t had the same explosive growth charity:water has had. Project H2O is more like a grassroots movement, which I feel like I can connect and empathize with.  I am just another average person trying to do big things, like those who staff it are. They also have a strong partnership with a church, and are looking for more ways to partner with others.

Another great organization is Living Water International. They can’t give 100% of their funds, but they are still awarded four stars by Charity Navigators. Notably, their water initiatives are done in the name of Jesus. I know this makes a lot of Christian’s happy, including myself. Jesus said in Matthew 10:42 to give a cup of water in His name. One can argue that this only means one’s motive should be for Jesus, or that one actually should write “Jesus” with a black Sharpe on a bottles of water you pass out.  Regardless, giving to an organization such as Living Water International might be the best place for you to donate in order to avoid any moral dilemmas which might paralyze you from giving.

Blood:Water Mission is also another cool charity which also has some great ideas on how to help, such as the classic summer lemonade stand, where each dollar goes towards clean drinking water.

Also, I probably should mention WaterAid as its probably the biggest organization for this type of thing, working with the UN, governments and all that jazz. It is also awarded four stars with Charity Navigators.

These charities have very effective, considerate, and sustainable  practices. Which means giving to them does not just throw money down a bottomless well by building these wells. These wells actually transform communities and save lives. They are magic wells.

If you are looking specifically for other Christian organizations which do other things, besides just focusing on water,  World Vision, Gospel for Asia, and Gospel Revival Ministries are some other options.

If there is some water-giving organization you love, please post them in the comments section and why you love them. Thanks!

Conversations with Avi: Delighting, Remembering, Doing Good

Image by Laura Wolfgang

Today, I spent about twenty minutes just listening to Avi talk as she walk around our living room, playing. I was laughing hysterically almost the whole time.

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(Avi walked up to me, pointing at the picture she drew on her doodle pad).

“See it mom? Korean girl.”

(I look at the triangle she drew on the pad, trying to remember if I ever taught her the word ‘Korean.’ And thinking it would be pretty cool if she actually had a clue of what that word means).

Me: “Oh, it’s a Korean girl.”

Avi: “Say it.”

Me: “Say what?”

Avi: “Say Korean girl.”

Me: “Um, okay, Korean girl.”

Avi: “No, say it!”

Me: “Say what?”

Avi: “Say it!”

Me: “Sing it?”

Avi: “Ya, sing it?”

Me: “Sing what?”

Avi: “Sing Korean girl.”

Me: “Um, Korean girl?”

Avi: “Ya. I myself did it.”

Me: “Okay. . . that was weird.”

(While I try to comprehend our conversation, Avi walks back over to baby doll, babbling about drawing a picture of “him” [her] and putting “him” to bed. For the next 15 minutes she alternates between having other typically nonsensical conversations with me, and going “night night” on a chair with her baby doll).

Avi: “Em, gonna give baby the toy”

(She picks up some stacking pegs, then goes about dropping them in specific locations on the floor. This must either be creative art or she is practicing war tactics again. If the latter, these landmine-like devices will cause pain in one foot and hopping up and down on the opposite leg. I choose to presume this is an artistic expression, while make a mental note not to step on them).

Avi: “Here mom.”

Me: “Thanks”

Avi: “Your welcome” “Here, three, six, seben. . . . I’m gonna get em mom on my chair on my my my  head.”

(She goes under a chair, pulls out more pegs, and brings them to me as Josh comes up the stairs).

Avi: “Uh oh, a hurry daddy”

Me: “Where are you hurrying to?”

Avi: “Oh look at her [him], its dan its sue . . . What are you doing dad? What’s your hands doing? I hab Toys. I want to have more grandma.”

(drops pegs on me).

Avi: “Oh, Sorry mom, sorry.”

(I think, “Thanks Avi,” as we move on to the next activity- which would be a zip-line in poison ivy. And, you should know I’m not kidding).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My daughter is a delight. She makes me crazy, grating on my impatience or shocking me with her callous little girl evil. But, its impossible to not love her. It is thrilling to see her discover everything from gravity, to social graces, to language- her ability to soak up the world around her mesmerizes me.

I love enjoying my daughter. Vaguely, in the back of my mind, I know I am blessed. There are many parents who don’t get to enjoy their children. Some parents die, leaving their children orphaned. Some are separated by war or poverty. Others only have languid children, not happy and experiencing life like my daughter is. Their children are sick, thirsty, and hungry. Some other three-year-old children are hurt by the most gruesome forms of oppression. I encourage you to read this story, which gives a glimpse of other stories kids the same age as Avilynne’s experience.

I know I am being a kill joy, but as the radio sings, “. . . you don’t know what you got ’til its gone . . .”‘ I am reminded to try to be grateful before it is too late. I am sure I just lost some of you; I did not just change subject to trees and parking lots. I am still on the subject of being thankful for my little girl. I guess I just want to be so grateful for what I have been blessed and entrusted with, rather than take it for granted. And I don’t want to forget the truth that there are so many whose children suffer.

In the Old Testament God directed the Israelites to do all sorts of things to remember what He had done for them, bringing them out of oppression as slaves in Egypt.  God prescribed holidays and memorials. He wanted them to sing about it, read about it, slap reminders on their foreheads, door frames, and tell their kids over, and over, and over, and over again of what He had done.  It was like God was putting post-in-notes all over their lives, getting them to see the obvious- He is good! God saved! God heard them! God cared!

I have a few post-in-notes in my life, as well. I am overwhelmingly blessed, and sometimes its good for me to remember that. So, thank you God for Avi, “The Father’s delight!” (as her name means).  Just like the Israelites were directed to do, I want to tell Avi as she grows up of how good God has been, and how she is a reminder to me of that. And every time I tell her this, I hope to be spurred on to remember the other children whose lives are anything but full of hope. I have no doubt God sees them, hearing their cries, just like I hear my daughter’s when she has a nightmare. I wish I could see all the stories of how God has intervened on their behalf already. But even more than that, I hope my thankfulness for God’s goodness in my life, overflows as action to change the lives of these hurting children. After all, I have been blessed to bless others. God might have used Moses, plagues, fiery pillars, and a wall of water to save the Israelites. I am sure He can do so again, if He wanted to. But, I am also pretty sure He can use little me.

“So be careful how you live, not as fools, but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT

Qur’an Burning: America’s Response to the Spread of Islam

It seems that the only thing in the news this week has been all about the proposed Qur’an burning. Ever heard of the Burning Man Festival? I once watched a documentary on this yearly spectacle in America’s Southwest.  The Burning Man never gets public outcry, but maybe that is because if the effigy they used was sacred, everyone would know what it was just to be mad about it. Or maybe no one cares because there are naked people at the Burning Man and everyone likes naked people.  It made the documentary more interesting, that is for sure. I wonder if people burned the Qur’an naked, there would be no violent response. Then maybe American’s wouldn’t pay attention, either.

The President, the General, and my parents say that publicly burning the Qur’an will hurt Americans overseas: “You are putting lives at risk; there will be needless deaths!” (as if any death was ever needed).  I tend to believe this view. Yet I can also see why others would think that it might not really be that big of a deal.  Regardless of what the hypothesized results will be, of this Qur’an burning party, I am pretty sure that most people all around the world think its stupid. Burning hairspray is cool. Burning bras- that was cool in the 60’s. Burning books? Um, didn’t we learn in American English from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 that book burning is the end of society as we know it? But burning one fifth of the world’s population’s holy book!? Dude, we don’t burn cows as a public outcry against Hindus! We only burn cows if we like our steak very very well done! But that is a whole different thing.

Truly, a large portion of Muslims don’t believe in violence. Note: I am not saying there are not verses in their Qur’an which aren’t violent against others who don’t believe in Islam, I am only saying that there are a lot of moderate or nominal Muslims who don’t subscribe to these verses. I was actually just looking through a list of verses in the Qur’an which many Muslims understand to mean living in tolerance with Jews, Christians, and other minorities who are “people of the book.” The historical concept of dhimmi under Sharia Law doesn’t call for the death of the non-believer, either, although maybe a second class status. To me, it doesn’t matter what the Qur’an says. It matters what people understand it to say.

In the Bible, we have terribly violent things too- in the Old Testament at least. I will not lie by saying that some of the Old Testament law has really disturbed me in some points. And, unless you are a studied and practicing Christian, one might easily not understand why we can justify these verses  and why we don’t follow them today.  After all, Christians have had their own share of violence. The Crusades are a horribly wonderful example: killing off the Muslims for Jesus. Many ethnic wars, including the Rwandan Genocide and even WWII, have roots in severe twisting of Christianity. The KKK clan and terrorist bombers at Abortion Clinics are other examples of a skewed worldview which some claiming Christianity have held to. Still, someone pointed out that the percentages of extremists in Islam is a little higher than the modern day terrorist claiming Christianity. I don’t want to get killed by a Muslim. Personally, I just don’t want to get killed, even if it is carried by Interfaith Terrorists, Inc.

You want to know what I think? Probably not, but here I go: Sure, Islam can be very violent. Christianity can be too. If following the Torah, Jews would be very violent as well. There really is no helpful point in arguing whether a religion is violent or not. It doesn’t matter. Buddhism isn’t violent, but anything without Jesus never has pure peace.

I think most American Christians- those who are cultural Christians, without “sincere love” (as the Bible calls it), those who are legalistic, and who are so self-righteousness they have no humility to try to understand someone else- these are no different in the slightest than Muslims, moderate or extreme. Yes, I am bashing on Christians. I am the first to say that I fit in this category much too often. I might not be killing people, but sometimes, inside, I am no different than an extremist Muslim. Didn’t Jesus say that hate is the same thing as murder? I think there are plenty of good ol’ American boys and girls who hate Muslims.

I have the feeling that if someone publicly burned our Bible, with huge amounts of media attention leading up to it- on our Christmas –  America would probably be a little feisty, as well.  Proposed Qur’an burning day, September 11th, happens to be at the end of Ramadan this particular year. Which is a holiday equivalent to our Christmas.  Then take into account all the lifestyle differences, cultural aspects, and acceptances of living in the Islamic world (poverty, life expectancy, war). Add to that an extreme form of Islam actively being propagated (mind you, while the truth of Jesus is NOT being shared- most Muslims in the Islamic world have never even heard of Jesus, even if they have heard of Christianity)- heck- there will be problems! When it comes down to it, Islam is no worse than anything other than pure religion, which I believe is knowing grace in Jesus.

The point is, although there is a problem with Islam, there is no reason to be disrespectful, better-than-thou, or feed into a national phobia against Muslims. It doesn’t help. I don’t really like Islam, mainly because its a quickly spreading belief system which I don’t subscribe to. Even so, I think my Muslim friends are great and I love the values and sincerity they have. I think most American’s don’t like Islam solely because they feel it is a threat to their lifestyle and culture. If we are trying to live out sincere Christianity, above Americanism, we can’t just go around combating Islam by feeding hate and spreading gossip. I’m not too into promoting blind tolerance, either.  I guess this gets political, and I don’t really like politics, defining the Separation of Church and State, blah, blah, blah. So, instead I will say maybe our first step should be to take the time to get to know a Muslim or two- not with the goal of converting them, yet with the goal of living out grace and love beside them.   No need to be burning things or burning things while getting naked.

So, I guess I am glad the pastor got smart and canceled it after all.