Archive for the ‘Good News’ Category

burning churchAs this is my last Thursday post for The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] I decided to use both of the posts I had set aside for Thursdays to come because they are both so powerful. So there is not intrinsic link between the two except to say that maybe they both capture the heart of what this thing we believe is truly supposed to be about. The first is an article called: ‘Open letter to Church: Let it die’ which I’m sure prompted a lot of well-meaning people to chime in with angry comments without reading this first. It is an article by a guy called Aaron from the Cultural Savage blog page which in essence is saying’let that which the church is not meant to be about but has become, die’ – it really is a good read, but you really need to listen carefully to what Aaron is trying to say and especially hear the big CHURCH I LOVE YOU halfway through the piece:

http://culturalsavage.com/christianity/open-letter-church

Next up is N.T.Wright who I have sadly not been able to read much of yet but he is a name that comes up a lot and I respect him just from the little I know him and how highly recommended he comes from people I really respect. But this video clip of him was my first main exposure to him in which he talks about what the gospel really is about and it is a very powerful and accurate piece so really try and find for yourself the 13 or so minutes it takes because this is great stuff to hear and be reminded of:

[For last Thursday’s Jesus rose from the grave [and you can’t even get out of bed] click here]

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This is a story from a while ago that caught my attention.

‘Make a city beautiful, curb corruption. Edi Rama took this deceptively simple path as mayor of Tirana, Albania, where he instilled pride in his citizens by transforming public spaces with colorful designs. With projects that put the people first, Rama decreased crime — and showed his citizens they could have faith in their leaders.’ 

If you have time to check out the TED talk that introduced me to him, check it out.

But if not, then simply read the article which talks about how this Albanian mayor brings art to politics. The colours on the buildings may not look so amazing in themselves [to me, anyways] but it’s when you see the new building held against the picture of the old one that you see just what a difference it makes and then when you hear/read the story you get an idea of how transformative this is.  Have a read.

‘Edi Rama has been in politics since the start of the 21st century, but before that he was a painter. It was this deep affinity for light and color that informed Rama’s time as mayor of Tirana, when he literally painted the town … every color. Rama is best known for the removal of government kiosks all over the city, thus cutting down on endemic bribery, and for the establishment of a modern new reception hall for citizens with paperwork requests. Rama’s administration also demolished thousands of illegal buildings, removed hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete from riverbanks, and planted thousands of trees and bushes all over the city. Rama continues to serve as a leader of the Socialist Party of Albania.’

He asked me for a compromise. I said, ‘No. Compromise in colour is grey. And we have enough grey to last for a lifetime.’ Edi Rama

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[For last Tuesday’s Hey dude, Were’s my husband’s bike click here]

I was going to ask my friend Robert Martin for permission to reblog this recent post he did looking at a Jon Foreman song that is almost straight out of the Old Testament prophets, but which I imagine still holds true today. It contains the following verse:

I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stomp on my ears when you’re singing ‘em
I hate all your show

And you can go and watch and listen to the rest of it here if you want to.

But then I figured he has already done that and it reminded me of a man who influenced my life a lot and that is a guy called Keith Green who my favourite and most life-transforming book [after the Bible] No Compromise is the story of. If you haven’t read that book, I can’t encourage you enough to.

I have never been a fan of people calling songs or books or other people ‘anointed’ because of the certain understanding of the religious jargon that goes with that definition largely in the circles I have heard it used. But there are at least two of Keith’s songs which just connect with something in my spirit and a number of lines just smack me in the face every time I hear them [in the best of Godly prophetic ways]. If you have a lot of time then you can seek out the other one, which is his interpretation of the story of the Sheep and the Goats which you can find here, but the one I want to share with you is this one called ‘Asleep in the Light’ – listen to the words and hear the passion and feeling that Keith pours into them [this video comes with bonus Spanish subtitles so forward it to all your Spanish speaking friends] Just listening to this again has struck a chord in me [and a future blog post] about how comfortable we’ve made the Gospel in so many ways so that it almost doesn’t have to affect us at all:

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can’t fight
Cause it’s asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you’ve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can’t even get out of bed

I hope this challenges and changes you. I hope this challenges and changes me once again.

[For last Thursday’s Definitive Guide to Insulting the Creator, click here]

When the beautiful Val [tbV] and I finished our time at the Simple Way, our bossman Darin suggested this wooden artwork, that  a friend of theirs could put together for us, with some words that we had spotted on the Book of Facings, as a farewell gift, and we jumped at it.

These words are powerful and are a covenant of who we would like to be as a family and the kind of home environment we are working towards, both for ourselves and for the many people we hope to extend hospitality to who will come and stay with us, and, for a short or long time, become a part of our family.

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Some of these are definitely easier than others.

But all of them are valuable to us.

And it feels like we’re making progress on a couple of them.

This list is not all-inclusive by any means, or even close to. But it is populated with words, experiences and principles that we value and want to chase enthusiastically after.

Ah, wait, I’m doing it wrong. I said WE WANT TO CHASE ENTHUSIASTICALLY AFTER! 

[That’s better]

We didn’t come up with this list, so you are welcome to borrow them and embrace them. Even come up with some of your own.

So let’s hear from you then… What are two things you would add to this list if it was in your home?

[For last Wednesday’s Search for MEDS: Married, Engaged, Dating, Single, click here]

So today’s story is this inspirational one about a marathon running mom who, when she saw, her husband’s bicycle being taken out of the garage decided, ‘Not today mister!’ and took off after the thief.

‘Sarah Tatterson, 37, of West Seattle, Wash., is an accomplished runner, who has completed a dozen half-marathons in her lifetime. So earlier this month when she noticed a stranger walking up her driveway, entering her garage and making a quick exit with her husband’s bicycle, her running instincts immediately kicked in.’

marathon

Maybe the best part of this story [if there’s a better part than 37 year old marathon mom chasing 40 to 50 year old man on bicycle down the road] is that Sarah had just finished her Master’s degree in counselling and decided to put it to good use as she chased him:

“I was trying to get him to talk to me, and he wasn’t wanting to talk about his feelings,” she said. “The options were letting him go, or him going to jail. The full meaning of justice is that he’d be rehabilitated. I don’t know who he is, but I hope he gets the help he needs.”

You can read the rest of this inspirational and fun story on the ABC News site over here.

[For next Tuesday’s Paint the town red [and green and blue] click here]

[For last Tuesday’s incredibly creative street art, click here]

leftovers or your best?

‘Those who oppress the poor insult the Creator, but those who are kind to the needy honour him.’ [Proverbs 14:31]

Tweet from my good friend, Sean du Toit that I saw this morning as I logged in.

And it’s the part of Christianity many of us don’t gravitate to quite as quickly. Give me worship [me], good teaching [me], fellowship with my friends at church on Sunday [me], weekly small group meetings [me], encouraging promises from God [me] and eternal life [me, and maybe you if you live right] but turn the volume down just a little when you start focusing on the looking-after-the-poor aspect if you don’t mind.

But James, the brother of Jesus, had quite a lot to say about our treatment of the poor as well in chapter 2 of his letter:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Even earlier on in that chapter, he encourages us not to discriminate, with a reminder that it is usually not the poor who are the ones giving the rest of us a hard time:

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God.Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.’

In fact he ends chapter 1 with this verse:

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

While it doesn’t mention the poor specifically there, it is understood that orphans and widows would have been among the poorest of the poor, because not only do they not have money, but they don’t have anyone to look after them either. Worthy religion is the type that makes sure that they are well taken care of.

Which brings us back to our original Proverb and the writer is pretty specific about the implications of not treating them well. Here are two other translations of the same verse:

You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
    when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.

Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
    but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

I think it’s pretty clear. And I’m sure none of us are looking to insult or show contempt to our Creator and Father God. But let’s be honest for a second – those people who really needed to hear this stuff more than likely stopped reading at the first mention of the poor…

For those of you who didn’t though, there was an article that Val linked to yesterday on the Two Cents blog page that takes this question to a whole other level for those of you who employ domestic workers. Moving the discussion from the point of “good enough” to actually “good”. We would love to hear your thoughts on that one, having been reminded of these words in the Bible.

Can it really be ‘Good News’ before it is Good News for the poor as well?

[For last Thursday’s The Same Question, click here]

housepoop

So for this Tuesday I thought let’s do something a little bit different. The Beautiful Val [tbV] passed this link on to me and I just absolutely love this kind of stuff. Street art incorporating vandalism or brokenness or set structures into brilliant new creations. This is some kind of special gift and I really think you will enjoy most of these a lot. And it’s me so I had to use ‘Pooping Houses’ as the one I chose [“I didn’t like the others. They were all too flat.”]

So take a look at the rest of these here and if you have a link [because I would really love especially the Tuesday posts to be much more interactive as we share inspiring stories with each other] to a similar piece of street art that made you laugh or cry or sigh wistfully or just be completely amazed, then please leave it in the comments section. Thank you.

[For a look at next Tuesday’s Hey dude, where’s my [husband’s] car?, click here]

[For a look at last Tuesday’s stories ranging from a rapping air steward to Horror author Stepehen King’s take on faith to a bold and kind gesture from X-Men’s own Patrick Stewart, click here]