Wednesday, March 28, 2007


i was eating dinner at a chinese buffet last night. i lost my keys, and my roommate wasn't going to be home until later to let me in the house, so i had to kill some time somewhere. so i was sitting alone and studying for a test. as is usually the case when you're trying to study, they sat me close to the register so i could easily hear every conversaion that took place between the cashier and the customers. (and since i'm a people watcher anyway, of course i'm going to listen and observe). one man went to check out, and i could quickly tell that he was a regular customer. the incredibly friendly chinese woman who was checking him out asked about his child (who was not with him this particular time). she asked how he was doing, how old he was, and if he stayed at daycare while his parents were at work. the man replied that the child did stay in daycare because both he and his wife had to work. and this is where it gets interesting - the woman blurted out "how much you pay for that?" i couldn't believe my ears. my first thought was "how dare she ask him how much he pays for daycare? that's private!" and then i was surprised that the man answered her.

he paid, said goodbye, and left. and as i sat there a realization washed over me. why on earth do we think it's such a bad thing to discuss money? the chinese woman merely wanted to know how much he paid because she was thinking about putting her daughter in daycare (i learned this from the next sentence or two of their conversation). the man didn't miss a beat, and simply continued the conversation. but i wonder what most americans would have done if she asked them that question? what would i have done?

i wonder if we're so private about our money because somwhere, deep down inside, we know we have way too much of it. i mean, why would we care if people asked us how much we spent on specific things like daycare (or car payments, or phone bill, etc. etc. etc.) unless we were ashamed of the amount and knew it was way too high? when i get a great deal on something (like the ipod i got for about $20), i don't mind telling people. in fact, i tell everyone. if someone compliments a shirt my response is usually "thanks, i got it for three dollars!" but when i've spent a lot on something, of course i don't tell how much it cost. after my experience in the chinese restaurant, i do wonder if it's because i'm ashamed to have things that are expensive, and somewhere deep down i know i don't have the right to spend that much money on myself.

so i'm still mulling over this experience and what it really means. beware next time you go to a chinese restaurant, because God might just teach you something about yourself, your culture, and Him.

Monday, March 12, 2007


when i was a freshman in college, my best friend convinced me that i HAD to read this book called The Sacred Romance. i've since read it a few times, helped to lead a Bible study on it, and taught semiars to youth about it a few summers ago. guess it had somewhat of an impact on me ;-) the book talks about how the deepest part of every heart connnects with stories because God created us not only to love stories, but to actually be a massivly amazing, scary, infinite, cosmic story. the book really explains why our hearts connnect with stories, and why when we hear a good story we long to play an active role in the plot. no kid really wants to merely watch a movie - the movie captivates the child because the child wants to be IN the movie. we don't want to watch the hero - we want to BE the hero! being a spectator in a resuce isn't enough - we want to BE the one who is rescued. movies are stories, and movies speak to the deepest yearnings of our hearts.

tonight i went to see the movie Amazing Grace with my parents. i am deeply moved. the movie is about william wilberforce, the man who fought for the abolition of the slave trade in great britain for many years against great opposition, to see his efforts finally pay off after a lifetime of struggle. i wish i could go back and pause the movie so i could write down all of the incredible quotes . . . but since i can't maybe you'll just hafta go see the movie if you haven't already. i'm struggling to synthesize exactly what i want to write here, but i'll take a stab at a few things. i can't get over the "coincidence" that everywhere i've turned over the past two months i've seen signs of radical revolutionaries. i mostly don't believe in coincidence - i think it's the world's explanation of providence. so i guess God's trying to get my attention. as i watched the movie, i wanted so badly to BE william wilberforce (well, a few centuries later and without the curly wig). but you know what i mean - i want to actually make a difference in the world like he did. and then it kinda hit me while i was watching - he gave his entire life to the fight. it didn't happen quickly. it took a long time. and he gave up along the way (for a little while at least). but then he fought again, and he fought harder, even when he was sick and in pain. being a revolutionary isn't a phase that you can hang out in for a little while until something better comes along.

another thing that really hit me in the movie was toward the beginning. william (who is a Christian) is trying to choose between living for God (and going into vocational ministry) or remaining in politics and fighting for social justice. a really wise person (i don't remember which one in the movie) asked why he couldn't do both. i think that's an amazing question. why not? why do so many Christians feel like they have to choose between faith and action? i think that question shoud be taken a step further - no only "why not do both?" but "why on earth would we not do both?" as Christians we are called to fight against injustice. if we do so, are we not devoting ourselves to Christ? Christ stood up for people that others never even acknowledged. as i have studied social work i have become increasingly convinced that Jesus was a social worker of sorts. He cared about poor people, widows, orphans, slaves, smelly fishermen, and homeless guys (he traveled with 12 homeless guys for 3 years)! when we see things in this world that are messed up because of sin (and everything that is messed up is a result of sin), if we have the means to do somehting about it why wouldn't we? maybe it's because we're tying so hard not to see, because we know once we see we'll be obligated because of our relationship with Christ to do something about the injustices in our world.

social action is inconvenient. it takes LOTS of time, and most activists hit brick walls way more often then they make it over them. but as shane claiborne would say, if things are going smoothly then something must be wrong. hitting a brick wall is a sign you're running in the right direction. if you keep running hard enough, maybe you'll eventually break through (or find a way over, under, or around the wall). all i know is that i don't want to give up just because something looks impossible. i want to be like william wilberforce.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

one room

the irresistible revolution is messing up my life. (and i say that in the best sense of the word ;-) i am challenged beyond comprehension everytime i read. as i was reading last tuesday night, i had an idea. you know how sometimes ideas flitter around in your head and then fly right back out? well that hasn't been the case with this one. i think it's stuck in my head, and i'm trying to figure out what to do with it.

let me give you a little background from the book, and then i'll tell you the idea. shane claiborne states: "It just makes sense not to have families on the street or in abandoned houses, especially when we have a spare bedroom"(p.193). a little later, he states: "It is much more comfortable to depersonalize the poor so we don't feel responsible for the catastrophic human failure that results in someone sleeping on the street while people have spare bedrooms in their homes . . . When we get to heaven, we will be separated into those sheep and goats Jesus talks about in Matthew 25 based on how we cared for the least among us. I'm just not convinced that Jesus is going to say, 'When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way and they fed me,' or, 'When I was naked, you donated clothes to the Salvation Army and they clothed me.' Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity. He seeks concrete acts of love: 'you fed visited me in welcomed me into your clothed me'"(p.158).

i've also been thinking a lot about the church, and about how we're majorly falling down on our job. so i was wondering how we could begin to actually BE the church that we're commanded to be - the kind of church that cares for widows and orphans, feeds the poor, and actually sacrifices in order to show our neighbors that we love them. and the idea was born . . .

"ONE ROOM." that's what i'm calling the idea. maybe one day it'll be an organization, or an agency, or a movement. here's the vision - to go into churches, teach about Christ's love for the least of our neighbors, and to encourage the church to actually take up the cross we keep dropping merely because it is inconvenient. what if, in a congregation of 100 families, all having at least one spare bedroom, 2 or 3 would BE the church and let a single mom, a lonely old man, or a suffering family bring life to that spare room. what if 10 families would rise to the challenge? what if half of the families would decide to actually BE the church? what would those families look like? what would that church look like? can you imagine it? people really sharing, and people really having things in common? maybe it doesn't sound very american, but i think it sounds EXTREMELY Christian. IF Christ had a house (which He never did) do you think He would ever go to bed at night if there was an empty bed on the other side of the room and someone homeless a few block away?

so the vision is one for the church - a vision to challenge and empower spoiled americans to offer their rooms to cold, lonely, hungry people. maybe "One Room" doesn't sound like enough to make a difference, but if people throughout a church, a town, a city, a state, a counrty would ALL offer just one little room, imagine the impact! it would not only change the face of povety, but it would change the face of the church. the early church was swarming with poor people. Jesus LOVES poor people! so why are they missing from many of our churches? i bet if we invited them into our homes they would follow us to church!

let me know what you think. can you see the vision? it seems too big for me (but i guess God has never really asked me to do anything that i could ACTUALLY do by myself). maybe if some other people caught the vision too . . .

This blog is a testimony to the work that God is perpetually acting in my life. I am learning that when I think I've given enough of myself, I've barely begun. My prayer is that as God continues to grab hold of my life, not only will He become greater and I become less, but He will become ultimately supreme and I will vanish. This Holy Disappearance will be a lifelong journey in which, by the grace of God, I will become so wrapped up in Him that all of me will disappear and all of Him will SHINE