Monday, April 21, 2008

Mixing Politics and Religion is Very Dangerous

So, I got an email today that is evidently being forwarded around to as many people as possible. This one has really fired me up! It started off with this:

This is too serious to ignore! Please read all the way through, take it to the Lord for more insight and than forward to your sphere of influence. THANK YOU!

As if to say, "I am sending this out as a "prayer request." Prayer request or not, it is still filthy gossip. It goes on to slander the character of Barack Obama, all in the name of preserving Christianity in our culture. Supposedly, it comes from a missionary couple who is living in Kenya, and knows the family of Barack Obama personally.

We are living and working in Kenya for almost twelve years now and know his family (tribe) well. They are the ones who were behind the recent Presidential election chaos here.

Surely, they would not in all seriousness try to blame the violence and unrest of a nation on this one people group? It is just plain arrogance to presume to know so much about a people group as an outsider. It doesn't matter how long they've been there, they are still outsiders. They were not there when the nation was colonized and brutalized. They were not there when the people were divided and pit against each other. They were not there when the Kenyans fought for their independence and freedom. Being among a people group does not make you one of them. It makes you among them. Please do not believe for a moment that all that has happened in Kenya can be simplified into saying, "They are the ones who were behind the recent presidential election chaos." The nation as a whole is behind the chaos. The international body who did not step in soon enough is behind the chaos. The Church that did not bring about true forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing from past hurts and colonization was behind the chaos. The West who colonized them to begin with and pitted tribe against tribe for the sake of easier conquests is behind the chaos. Grow up and stop pointing fingers! They also slander the character of Raila Odinga, the opposition party who has been fighting for fair elections and POSITIVE change in Kenya. It says:

Raila a socialist trained in east germany. He has been trying to bring Kenya down for years and the last president threw him in prison for trying to subvert this country!

What we would like you to know is what the American press has been keeping a dirty little secret. Obama IS a muslim and he IS a racist and this is a fullfilllment of the 911 threat that was just the beginning. Jihad is the only true muslim way. We have been working with them for 20 years this july! He is not an american as we know it.

Please do your research before you buy into this crap, and yes, I will boldy call this crap and then send it on out to others! These are just bold-faced lies. If you will pray for anything, pray for a wisdom of discernment and do the hard work to research this stuff. Don't just believe whatever is sent to you because it sounds good, seems to makes sense, or lines up with a political agenda. This email calls Obama a racist Muslim who is trying to create jihad in the US. Grow up, folks!! Political dirtiness is expected, but don't spread this filthy gossip in the name of Christianity!! Christians can be some of the ugliest, most self-righteous, judgmental folks on the face of the planet, always wanting to point the finger at someone else so that they won't seem so bad in the end. To those who know Christ and are passing this crap around, grow up. Stop being so presumptuous as to think you could understand the deep political & tribal tensions of another people group. Stop behaving as the pious pharisees who rise above everyone else. Don't take it upon yourselves to "warn others" by slandering the character of another human being, bearing the same image of the Creator that you do. Truly, if the Body of Christ were living the humble, servant lifestyle that we were called to live rather than slandering the names of others who are trying to make a difference, this planet would be a very different place. This one has really riled me up! I sure wish folks would take responsibility for the filth that they are spreading around, rather than pointing out how bad someone else is. You think he's following a lie, full of corruption? Then humble yourself and pray for your enemies. Don't slander his character by spreading gossip.

***Disclaimer: I am not writing this because I am a follower or supporter of Barack Obama. I am writing this as a follower of Jesus Christ, who has called us to leave worldly ways behind us, humble ourselves, and never cease doing what is right. Gossip is not right. Sending it in email format or as a "prayer request" does not make it any less gossip.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Settle Down!!

I am having such a hard time finding enough time to sit down and allow some thoughts to come together enough to make sense, enough to find a flow. I have too many thoughts floating in the head right now, and can't seem to nail one down. It makes it hard to write anything. I have been working hard to put together a talk/presentation on missions for our local MOPS group this coming Tuesday (April 15th), everything else seems to have taken a back seat temporarily. Hopefully I will be able to sit down long enough to settle these thoughts down, and actually put some form to them. Until then, they will just continue to swim in the noggin. In the meantime, here are some pictures of my sweet little distractions.

They're fun, distracting, but fun.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mercies are New

I am constantly amazed by the gracious nature of our God, actually am just really grateful that He is indeed God. He is so quick to forgive and forget, I just stand in awe of it. For the number of times that I miss the mark, the number of times that I screw up in any given day, He holds nothing against me. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
It strikes me as a really remarkable thing to forgive sins and purify us from all unrighteousness, considering how incredibly unrighteous I can be. He doesn't hold it against me. He doesn't keep a record of all the wrongs that I have done. He doesn't classify me as sinner, but as child, as priest, as righteous, all because of His Son's blood.
Sometimes our human nature makes it quite difficult to let things go, to forget about past hurts or wrongs done. We tend to label and classify based on past interactions. And we can be quick and bold in doing this. We talk about how people just have a habit of getting in trouble, or letting us down, or hurting us. We say things like, "I don't expect much more out him" or "He's known to be troublesome." Women can be the worst in this act, especially towards other women, saying things like, "She's such a drama queen, always looking for attention" or "She's always got some sort of trouble in her life." Sometimes we set ourselves up to be hurt, looking for the worst in people or situations, telling ourselves it will hurt less if we expect it.
Lies. They are all lies. Schemes of the enemy to divide us and divide our hearts. If we can look at each other and first see all the things that are different and wrong, then we are conquered as a people. If we recognize how different we are before we see what binds us together, the image of the Almighty God breathed into our lives, then we are totally defeated.
I can think of days when my toddler has pushed her limits, moment to moment battling for ground. At the end of the day I would feel exhausted, and would comment to my husband about how troublesome she's been or how challenging she's been. That paints a negative picture that would then characterize my precious little girl. It's wrong and I repent of it. We are not to divide. We are not to judge and characterize one of God's creations. It's not our place. Only the Creator Himself can do that.
And by His great mercy, He does not characterize us, or else I would have been labeled a failure and trouble-maker long ago. But that's not what He calls me. He calls me loved. He calls me precious. And the moment I confess my wrong, it does not cross His mind again. As far as the East is from the West. He doesn't get to the end of a day and remember all the times that I tested Him, challenged Him, and was disobedient to Him. His mercies are new, from moment to moment, His love for me is new and refreshed. As so He arrives at the end of a day and loves me with the same fresh, faithful heart as the one He started out with. My heart should be the same.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Welcome Home

In my younger years, I used to go with my family to yearly gatherings called Rainbow Gatherings. Now, to the lay person who is unfamiliar with Rainbow ways, one would look from the outside and simply assume that it was one big hippie drug-fest. But there was something much deeper going on. You see, once a year for several weeks, people from all walks of life descend upon an agreed upon place to camp out and live in harmony. And I'm not just talking about a few families or even a few hundred families, but thousands upon thousands of people, ranging from white collar professionals to gypsies who haven't lived a conventional life in years, all gathering in one forest to build community. An entire village is built in a few weeks, resided in for a few more weeks, and then torn down and all the people go back to their normal lives. It really is quite remarkable.
The last one that I went to was in 1999 in Pennsylvania. I flew into New York to pick up a girlfriend and then we drove the rest of the way to Pennsylvania, and the closer you get to the site, the more the anticipation builds. For miles and miles away from the actual gathering site, you start to see more and more people who are headed there, and you recognize them immediately, you know them as brother and are bonded because you know that you are both headed for the same gathering, both desiring the same harmony, and that soon, you will both break bread together in a makeshift kitchen run by other brothers and sisters. You will work side by side, both pitching in to help run the village and see that it all comes together, that all are taken care of. It really is remarkable.
I can remember arriving to the parking area, after hours and hours of traveling, and stepping out of the van to be welcomed by a different air, one filled with incense and drum beats, music that just continues day and night. We would rush as much as possible to get our backpacks and gear unloaded and strapped on, to start the journey to the campsite, and the closer we got, the louder the music got, the faster our feet would move to be there. We were drawn to it all. And as you arrive to actual campsite, you are greeted by a huge banner that reads, "WELCOME HOME" and brothers and sisters saying things like, "We've been waiting for you. So glad you're home." Spirits are lifted, you know you belong. Feet move even faster to set up camp and get settled in. Welcome home.
And for several weeks over those summer months, thousands upon thousands of people would live in such community as I have never seen before, loving each other and watching out for each other. Food is a community event, where every mouth is fed and every person taken care of. People come with so many stories, hurts, joys, every sort of baggage that life deals, and somehow, for a few weeks out of the year, none of that stuff matters. All are welcome and all feel at home. It really is a remarkable thing.
I often dream of Heaven, and what it will be like when we get there. The images that are described in Scripture intrigue my heart so much that I just daydream about streets of gold and entering the Throne Room of Grace. I just wonder if it will be like going to the gatherings, where we are making the journey on the streets of gold and are drawn in by the new air that we breathe. The sounds of angels singing and the saints who have gone before us, filling the air and pulling us closer, quickening our steps so that we just cannot wait to be there. We walk faster and faster with the others who have arrived at the same time until we are all out running. And then to enter that precious throne room, to finally stand at the doorway where the Creator of the Universe reigns; I can only imagine of the backup of people who hesitate at the threshold, who are stunned by the glory that their eyes gaze upon, who are frozen in their steps as they finally behold what we now can only dream of. Maybe there are some who cannot help but fall on their face right there at the doorway, to finally behold the glory of the Lord who gave up everything, even His own life, so that they could be there, and to know in their hearts that it was all worth it after all. It's all going to be worth it. Everything that we do, all that we endure now, it's going to be worth it to finally arrive Home. Oh, to arrive at that point, to be at that place, where I will finally see my Savior face to face, to fall before Him in thanks, and to finally hear, "Welcome Home." Everything else fades away.