I read an article in the New York Times today about how China is detaining Muslims in the hundreds in Hotan, China, in a “indoctrination program,” to “weed out extremism.”

This is wrong. “Growing a beard as a young man,” among other things, is considered a sign of possible “religious extremism.” This is nuts. Who is that concerned about how people dress or the habits they give up, some of which are actually a bad thing, ok, so, Muslims have a conviction about giving up alcohol, smoking?? right away – the smoking one probably less than alcohol, I presume. But who cares? The fact that they would be able to drop the habit, right away, is impressive, to me. What convictions do we have, here in the west and do we even concern ourselves with changing our lifestyles or routines to adjust to the pace of life around here? What matters most, to each and every one of us?

Malcolm in Amharic and the blessing of the Lord to those who seek his face, the triumph of God through the tragedy of His Son

My name means “blessed” in Amharic. Malcolm. God has truly blessed me in many ways. I am so grateful to have gotten to know the friends he has put in my life, along the way of this journey and path of the life I have been allotted. The Lord has been gracious to me, and kind. He has not let my enemies triumph over me, but has made my tongue like a polished arrow, refuting every accusation that rises up against me. The Lord will vindicate me, and cause me to triumph over my foes. His is a highly exalted name, and in him will I boast, for there is no other name under heaven by which I may, or anyone may, be saved. The Lord is a mighty warrior, the battle belongs to him, and in his name alone will I be saved. ADONAI ha yeshua, li, ve l’olam, l’tamid! Hodu, hodu, hodu l’ADONAI. Hu ahav oti, hu ahav otanu, harbeh, kol kach, ad she hu natan Ben shelo lanu, lo ad she anachnu hogniyim, l’hapher she anachnu hayim! Hayim be emet. Hodu l’ADONAI.

Confidence, blessed assurance to out

It is wonderful that we have confidence, but what about the rest of the world? Do we just sit in our pews and sing the same, familiar hymns, week after week, month after month, time after time and again, doing whatever we are used to, while the rest of the world, the world around us, is drowning in sorrow? This cannot be! People are hungry and thirsty for good news. Why do we insulate ourselves? The rest of the world wants to hear good news. Why do we hoard it for ourselves? Let us say someone found a cure for cancer, wouldn’t you feel blessed if someone shared it, with you, if you had cancer, or someone close to you had cancer, and someone shared it with them?

Dancing at McDonald’s

Tuesday of this past week as I began sweeping lobby, a fever overtook me, and I felt a fervor sweeping through my body, I would move, pivot, swivel, first to the left, then to the right, and swirl around, feeling a rhythm and a beat that lifted me. I was dancing. I was in motion. And had emotion. It was art. And I was satisfied.

Faith and the Journey, Redemption meets a Weary Soul

A number of careless things have happened in my life. I have begun applications and not finished them, I have let my checkbook catch dust on the shelf.

I miss a time of corporate confession, at All Souls’, where we would bring to the table, each one, his or her own sins, acknowledging our own poverty before God.

I have learned much on this journey. Rev. Martin spoke one time of a “journey of faith.” What I cannot see because the law weighs heavily down upon me, faith illuminates and opens my eyes to.

What I cannot presently see, faith illuminates for me.

I have an underlying hope because someone outside of my situation stepped in, and rescued me from deep-dark currents of despondency, madness and even despair, offering me a glimmer of truth and grace, pointing me to himself.

One day I shall see him “as he is.” Until then, I, and we all, catch but glimpses of who he is. And each one, with his own particular narrative, that fits into the grander narrative of Creation, Fall and Redemption, sees only a faint sketch of who our Redeemer is.

The Cost of Buffalo Sauce

Actions have consequences. There must be a penalty for sin. Today at work I accidentally gave away a free buffalo sauce to someone (she works here, but was purchasing something). I didn’t feel right about it, so I payed the $0.27 for it. My manager (and most people, including, sometimes, myself) would (and did) think this was small potatoes. But I went ahead and payed for the buffalo sauce. It felt so right. In the universe, the thought that we can “take,” that there is no cost, is detrimental to our moral well being. Sin always has a cost. And someone must pay.

Peace

What is valuable in life? Peace. But what kind of peace? And what source?

Psalm 85 gives us a clue: it says, “He (God the LORD) will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn to folly.” (v. 8)

Peace is intimately bound up with the idea of, and reality, of, wisdom.

It is interesting to note that Solomon, whose name in Hebrew, Shlomo, means “peaceful one,” was considered the wisest man on earth.

The wisdom he had, originated, with God. God gave it to him. Solomon, when invited, by God, to “ask of him, whatever he wished,” asked for wisdom.

We speak peace, because God first spoke peace to us.

But none of us is completely “immune” to “turning back to folly,” as the Psalmist(s) forewarn, in the last segment of verse eight, of Psalm 85.

Given a choice between living an (overly, worried) anxious life, and living a life of peace, I’d rather live in peace. I think we all (in our right attitude of mind) would.

Our Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Recently I have started to pray this, considering the words of Jesus, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me (and to “finish his work”).” – John 4:34  This part of the “Lord’ prayer,” immediately follows “Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.”  It makes sense (to me) that after expressing a desire and articulating a submission of the will, to God, that one, the one praying, would request opportunities, or opportunity, to do his will.  For me, it is the logical next step (in a spiritual, or theological framework of understanding), to submitting one’s will to God – to then ask for opportunity, as “soul food,” to complete our part in accomplishing his will, here on earth.  Often, that might manifest itself in concrete practical opportunities each day.  But recognizing the authorship of God over and in our lives, in prayer, and specifically, in the Lord’s prayer, and through and from praying it, removes from us the “undue burden,” if you will, of inventing or creating opportunities to “do his will,” that were never of His design, or intention, in the first place.  “Thy will be done” articulates a submission, when sincerely prayed, of the human will, to the Father’s.  Even Jesus prayed this on the night in which he was betrayed by Judas into the hands of sinners, when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It was not his desire to go to the cross.  He was not a masochist.  Yet, he prayed, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”  To the Father.  Jesus’ own will was distinct, and separate, from the Father’s (separate in that it was its own entity).  With sweat, and tears, Jesus’, trembling, knowing what was about to, or was, in fact, very possible that it occur, prayed, “Abba, Father, if you are willing, take (remove) this cup from me.  Nevertheless (ESV rendition – (I don’t know the Greek)), not my will, but yours, be done.”  In the gospel account as told by Luke.  It was a very real crisis for him.  Jesus identifies with us in that.

As he is struggling, there, praying, that part of the narrative, says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.”  You see, or you can imagine, the “affect,” it was having on him, as a person.  A very real crisis, and he is experiencing emotions and internal conflict in a very palpable way.

In going to the cross, Jesus denied himself, to the very end, of his life’s mission, or call, here on earth, by fulfilling what the Father, his Father, willed, that he fulfill.  And that was his “bread,” or, more aptly termed, and actually employed in the narrative, as a term, “his cup.”

On the Shores of San Pedro

It was Easter Sunday. A dark, gloomy day. My brother Matt and I were wading in the water, knee-deep, when all of a sudden, my brother Matt got pulled into a riptide, immediately I went after him, in an effort to bring him back. But I got swept up into it, too. It wasn’t long before I was in over my head, and the waves, some five, some more, feet long, began crashing over my head, as I found myself being pulled in an unstoppable current of natural force, sweeping me, and Matt, out to sea.
My brother Dave, on the beach, noticed what was going on, and yelled to get my dad’s attention, who was listening to music on his headphones.

Waving his hands in the air at him, my brother Dave was finally able to get my dad’s attention, and, when my dad saw what was happening, he knew it might be a 50/50 chance he would survive. But he jumped into the water, after us, and before you knew it, himself got caught in the riptide.

I remember, as I was being swept out, a rock with bright red crabs, six inches to one foot in diameter, on it, staring me in the face. I began screaming. I was seven years old.

Eventually, my dad caught up to both of us, and was able to hold onto Matt with his one arm, and me with his other, but by this time, we were all in over our heads, and our strength was ebbing away. Together, but with waves crashing all around, and powerless, my dad prayed, something to the effect of,

“God, please help us. We need your help.”

The three of us, huddled together, were stranded in the middle of the ocean, dozens of meters, or yards, away from the shore, with no Lifeline of support to bring us back into shore or someplace safe, and dry.

A few minutes later, a giant wave came, lifted the three of us up into its swell, crested, and carried us back into shore.

My mom, relieved, was there to greet us, and Dave.

We shook off the water from our swim trunks, and I, trembling, along with my brother Matt and father, sat down on the mat, to recuperate.

I could not save my brother Matt, my brother Matt could not save himself, my dad could not save either of us. Only God was able to save us, that day. And did.