Monday, January 31, 2005

the larger life

so as i continue to work through the book of ephesians, i continue to be amazed at God's amazing plan for the world, something he planned long ago. this past week i taught on ephesians 4:17-32. paul begins to get really practical, calling the people of God away from the life they used to lead, to take off the old self, renew their mind and put on the new self. and then he goes on to give very specific ways in which we are take the old self off and put the new self on, and a motivation on why we should do it.

he basically says stuff like, stop spreading lies and spreading the truth, be angry but don't sin, stop stealing and start sharing, stop speaking trash and start encouraging others. if you want to hear the entire talk, you can download it for free. i think you will find it stimulating. it is entitled the larger life.

some of the questions i ask near the end of the talk is this: so why do we ever lie to each other? why do we get angry? why do we steal? why do we gossip or slander others, why are we mean in our speech? why are we malicious instead of loving and forgiving? we only do these rotten things if we think we need to construct a self apart from God. we only need to do these things if we are serving an idol, for an idol needs to be propped up and managed and maintained, God does not. we only do these things if we haven’t understood God’s love and forgiveness

you see, in our life you and I have a choice: we can either choose to construct a self in this fallen world that has idealized idols and put a blind eye to God’s presence in this world, or we can enter into God’s project and God’s plan for the world, to build a new humanity, a new way of doing life, a new way of living in this world. if we choose to serve idols, we will shrink and shrivel back into the world from which God called us out of, but if we walk with God and become a part of building His new humanity, we will experience the larger life.

Friday, January 28, 2005

living in la

los angeles in winter
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

it is so cool living in los angeles. there are always a 1001 things to do. on friday nights i usually try and hang with people who have yet to come to know Christ. i always like to explore some new aspect of the city. not necessarily newly developed, but new to me. tonight i am going to a really old resturant called canters, on fairfax. afterwards i will be seeing an independent film at a private screening through my ifp membership.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

newspaper index

newspaper index
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

have you ever wanted to read a newspaper from albania or peru or greenland or bosnia? what about from japan, or india or the philippines? what about rwanda or norway or puerto rico? it doesn't matter which country you think of, you can find some of the best newspapers on-line at newspaper index. of course for some of them you will need some type of link to translate them into english. you will find english papers in a number of countries that don't speak english though. the point being it is always good to get the news from different perspectives.

oscar nominations

oscar nominations
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

so the nominations are out. which film out of the five that have been nominated for the best picture, do you think should win, and which one do you think will win?

Monday, January 24, 2005

above los angeles

above los angeles
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

so this is a photo i shot while flying over los angeles. it's like la goes on and on and on and on. i really like living in la. one of the reasons is because it is a church planters paradise. there are so many people here from such a wide diversity of backgrounds that make it so rich.

pastor's chat

so every quarter, joe and i host a pastor's chat, where we invite whoever wants to come over from the church to my place for pizza to talk about questions people might have about scripture, kairos and life. each time it has turned into wonderful dialogue.

i feel truly blessed by God by the variety of people that God is bringing to our church. people who are physically homeless to some who are spiritually homeless. from asians to indians to hispanics, to african americans. from rich to poor to middle class. from undergrad to grad student, from single mothers to families with a mom and dad. from people in the hood, to people from beverly hills. the variety of experiences, backgrounds and cultures is absolutely thrilling. to see the dynamics of interaction stimulates and excites me. it helps me see why we worship a triune God where I can indentify with One who understand plurality and unity. One who permits diversity in unity and maintains unity in diversity.

to see the dream that God put on my heart coming to pass before my eyes moves me.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

a slice of a cadaver

Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

while camera's were not permitted inside the exhibit, they had one example outside of the exhibit, a real slice of a human cadaver. inside they had entire bodies, revealing different aspects of the human body. the exhibit helped me to appreciate our Creator and His amazing creation, the human body.

body worlds

body worlds
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

so this past thursday, i went to this exhibit at the california science center, where more than 200 real human specimens are displayed to reveal an amazing look at the human body, due to the breakthrough process of plastination.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

ucla to put barcodes in cadavers

according to an article in the la times today, the "University of California medical schools would be required to implant barcodes or radio-frequency identifiers in cadavers, university officials said Wednesday as they announced a plan aimed at ending repeated scandals involving bodies donated to science."

check out the "whole story."

one nation, overfed

a couple of months ago i taught a series on the seven deadly sins. it was the first time i had ever done a full talk on the sin of gluttony. if you have never heard a talk on gluttony, you should order the "becoming fully human" series through nate at kairos.

so today i was reading an article in the la times entitled "one nation, overfed" which talks about how as americans we tend to eat more than most every other people group in the world. gluttony has gotten so bad in our country that even the la times and other news media are talking about it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

kids on the street

so tonight our canvas group went to hollywood and gower, a place where runaway teenagers tend to go to crash for the night. we interacted with a number of people, trying to get to know them, understand their situation, and to be there to help if they wanted any help.

i first connected with miles. miles was born in florida, like myself, but his dad died when he was young and his mom gave him up for adoption by the time he was seven years old. his first foster parents were alcholics who abused him in many ways. finally he was taken from them, and put into a group home for a little while. after that he was put with another set of abusive foster parents. listening to his life was extremely sad. hearing the things he had to go through at such an early age was tragic. at eleven years old he tried to find his mother again. after locating her, he went to visit her. her response? she said, if i wanted to see you i could have found you.

well a guy can only take so much abuse and rejection, so in time he ran away to get away from his second set of abusive foster parents. now he is traveling around the country. he has always wanted to come to california and so that is why he is here now. he will stay in hollywood till march or so, and then head up to san fran. he has lots of plan to travel. while he freely shared with me many things about his life, it is obvious that many things in his life are just to painful to face realistically right now, so he continues to be on the move.

the second dude i met goes by squall. his real name is matthew cole. some people call him cole. cole was a black young man, with many chains around his neck. one of the chains is an actual bicyle chain. his mother died about three days after he was born and his dad left him so he moved from group home to group home all throughout his life. he was writing some lyrics in his notebook. he let me read them. they were pretty good. you could see the pain he suffered through reading the lyrics. in time he wrapped for some of us.

we gave some of these kids our contact cards and invited some to join us for church or call if they needed some help. i think this might be a place we go back to with some kind of regularity, to see if God could use us to help people who have experienced such tragic upbringings.

God cares so much about the fatherless, that he says he will be a father to the fatherless. that probably means that he wants to move through his body, the body of christ, to father those who have never had one. by God's grace, those of us who have come to Christ have been put into his body and now we are his hands and his feet. may we be hands and feet that listen to the head, which is Christ.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

the revival of west coast rap

the 25 year old los angeles rapper who calls himself "Game" is from compton, being produced by dr. dre and his debut album is being released today and expected to do very well, according to newsday and the ny times.

jury is still out on driving with cell phones

according to this article from the ny times, it may be even more dangerous to drive with a headset than with a hand-held. either way, driving while talking on the cell phone is considered by some to be one the biggest distraction's while driving.

while i think that is true, i still find it hard to drive without using my cell phone. oh well, life is full of risks.

home prices at record high

according to an article in the la times, 'home prices in los angeles and orange counties set records - yet again - in december... the median price in la county rose 21.2% to $418,000 from a year earlier, while oc, the december median price gained 18% to $551,000 and was up less than 2% from november's $541,00."

the new humanity

so we are doing this new series at kairos los angeles called "the new humanity'. i am really enjoying both preparing and delivering this series of messages from the book of ephesians. the book of ephesians has some incredibly rich content when it comes to the church, her eternal purposes and mission. you can download the talks for free.

here is one quote that i shared this past weekend, from the pen of markus barth. check it out:

"By it's very existence the church is called and equipped to be the "theater of God's works." In here total being, that is, as founded and ruled by the Messiah; as composed of Jews and Gentiles formerly dead in sins and divided in hostility; as people daring to live on the basis of forgiveness; as a community boldy looking into God's face and speaking to him; as a suffering and struggling, poor and yet enriched nation - this way the church is God's display, picture window, legal "proof", lighthouse, for the benefit of the world. If she condoned division and sin, she would belie her essence and function, and she whould grieve "the Holy Spirit of God" from which she lives. Then by her faithlessness she would attempt to abrogate God's faithfulness and commission. But as established, maintained, and sent out by God, the church is an instrument through which reveals himself. She is, in brief, by her very existence the "revelation of God's secret in action... the manifestation of the wisdom of God." He who would despise or belittle God's church would blaspheme against God's temple. He would reject God himself and his ongoing self-revelation."

that is something to think about.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

introducing mac mini

introducing mac mini
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

for all pc users who have always wanted a mac, but not wanted to spend the money, now you can have the new mini mac for only $499. It is just 6.5 inches wide and 2 inches tall. click here if you want to learn more.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

star gazing

i loved these thoughts from madeleine l'engle, so i thought i would share them with you.

"When Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” he did us no favor, but further fragmented us, making us limit ourselves to the cognitive at the expense of the imaginative and the intuitive. But each time we read the gospels we are offered anew this healing reconciliation and, if we will, we can accept the most wondrous gift of the magi.

To me, the glory of the heavens is most evident at night--a cold, clear night when the stars are more brilliant than diamonds. The wise men looked at the stars, and what they saw called them away from their comfortable dwellings and toward Bethlehem. When I look at the stars I see God’s glory in the wonder of creation.

The stars can become idols when we look to them for counsel, which should come only from God. For the magi, astronomy and astrology were one science, and it is probably a very sad thing that they ever became separated. That is yet another schism which looks for healing, and we have not been as wise as the three magi who came from their far corners of the world, seeking the new king, the king who was merely a child.

Surely if the world is as interdependent as the discoveries of particle physics imply, then what happens among the stars does make a difference to our daily lives. But the stars will not and should not tell us the future. They are not to be worshiped. Like the wise men, we no longer bring presents to the moon and the stars, for this child made the moon and the stars."

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

rain, rain, go away

rain, rain, go away
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

okay, i feel like i'm living in seattle or something. it's really sad to see and hear about the loss of lives and the many ruined homes due to mudslides and floods. it's crazy. i guess they say we only have one more day of rain.

typically, it just doesn't rain this much in southern california. we have a mediterrain climate with normal rainfall season of 14.77 inches a year, which runs from July 1 to June 30th. according to a recent los angeles times article, as of 4 p.m. on Monday, we have already had 21.85 inches. it's crazy. they say some more thunderstorms tomorrow and then it is supposed to clear up.

Monday, January 10, 2005

living in the new atmosphere

i have been doing a series at kairos los angeles that is entitled "the new humanity". it is a quick study through the book of ephesians. i say quick, because eight weeks is hardly enough time to dive into each section as i would like. sometimes i wish i would have made it a 16 week series, possibly divided by another series. next time.

yesterday we covered ephesians 2, so i thought i would share with you my summary of the chapter. if you want to download the entire teaching, you can do so with no cost.

now for the summary of eph.2 in the context of our time:

paul starts off reminding us that we were we were all born and shaped by an atmosphere in which the god of this world has polluted, and as we breathe in this poisonous air, it leads us to live for ourselves or for the "american dream" or anything other than God. and if the atmosphere in which we live our lives is centered on another person, the state, the need for approval, our self-image, work or the pursuit of pleasure, instead of God, we will be enslaved by that idol and lead lives disobedient to the creator and owner of the universe.

so God stepped in, by his grace, and placed us into a completely different atmosphere, one in which the air is pure and filled with mercy and love. he seated us, both jew and gentile (bitter enemies) together with Christ. God's work of salvation, bringing us from the atmosphere of the devil and self-interest, into God's new world, God's atmosphere, is a work of grace and a gift of God. and as we live in the atmosphere of love and mercy, together with those who have been bitter enemies, we become God's master poem to the world, his living letter for the entire world to see, even the cosmic powers.

for in God's new atmosphere and world, it doesn't matter how far off someone may be, or how close they may be, God abolished the walls between gentile and jew, and the implication is that now God is into building bridges instead of walls, bridges to every kind of person and people from every kind of culture. for when there is unity in diversity within the church, the church becomes a reminder of the pledge of the overcoming of all divisions when the cosmos is restored to harmony in Christ.

as the church becomes a people from a wide variety of cultures, races, classes and backgrounds, then we will be living out the good news, and will be the kind of movie trailer that God wants to provide to a world of division, hatred and violence.

then paul takes one of the central symbols of judaism, the temple, the place in which the God of israel has promised to live, and declares that the living God is constructing a new temple, not made with stones, but with human beings. and that the living God is now seeking to inhabit communities of people who are loyal to Jesus, who by living in His atmosphere of love and mercy, create an atmosphere that breaks down walls of division and builds bridges to those far away and those near, for the refugees and the assylum seekers, so that everybody would find a place that they could call home, and we would all find that home in God himself.

Friday, January 07, 2005


we live in a world where communication is dynamic and sometimes complicated. when we hear things, though we may use the same words, we may miss each other on what we are really saying. sometimes misunderstands can be small and other times they can have significant impact. this is a part of normal life, that doesn't have to be as complicated for us if we do what we can to clarify and make sure that we heard what was said.

i always love james advice: "be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger."

today was a day for me in celebrating the resolving of some misunderstandings. that is always a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

un warns that death tolls may double to 300,000

associated press
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

here are some quotes from an article on netscape that should wake us up to prayer and action.

"If basic needs ... are not urgently restored to all populations by the end of this week, WHO fears that outbreaks of infectious disease could result in a similar number of fatalities as occurred due to the direct impact of the tsunami," the U.N. agency said in a statement on the Internet.

At an orphanage in southern India, 15-year-old Sitha, her sister Sitha Lakshmi, 10, and 8-year-old brother Amitha grappled with the loss of their parents.

"I'm the head of the family now," Sitha said, holding back tears. "I have to look after them. Mummy wanted them to get educated and I have to make that happen now."

Indonesia said half a million people were homeless in Aceh, where the hungry scavenged for food and water and injured people flooded hospitals.

U.N. officials said they were worried orphaned or lost children might fall prey to criminal gangs bent on selling them into slavery.

Children make up a third of the tsunami dead and tens of thousands more have been orphaned.

if you or your church wants to give to an organization committed to helping the physical needs and spiritual needs of people, consider samaritans purse. it is headed by franklin graham.

Monday, January 03, 2005

i dare you

my life has been crazy full and yet fulfilling over the last week. i spent a number of days at a conference, where i had the opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters from around the country through teaching, listening, encouraging and loving.

i have to say there were times when people made request of my gifts, time and energy, when i felt i had no more energy or creativity. but as i examined each request, i sensed that God wanted me to say yes to many of them, even though i felt i was at the end of my rope. and in the nick of time God came through in ways that amazed me.

after i came home, i needed to prepare for a message. i studied all day on new years day and waited on God to give me an outline or approach to the text. in time he did, but i didn't finish my message until 4:30 a.m. i got up about 7:30 to prepare myself for the day. the time when well. i thought i would have the afternoon to nap, but God had different plans. some visitors were in town and i really felt a desire to host them and extend hospitality.

finally today, i was able to catch up with much needed sleep, and this is my first time in a week that i have had a chance to breathe and record some of my thoughts.

as i took some time over the last couple of days to reflect on this new year, the one thought that has been coming to my mind over and over again was how the apostle paul on a couple of occassions talked about pouring out his life for others like a drink offering. it is a picture of faith that i desire to imitate more and more this coming year, for i believe it is when we give our life away that we find life.

a passage that i memorized very early in my life as a christ follower that has always stayed with me and has greatly shaped how i think, behave and approach ministry come from the lips of jesus. He said, "Anyone who wishes to come after me must deny himself and pick up his cross daily and follow me, for whoever wishes to save his life, will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the sake of the gospel, will save it."

this thought is so contrary to what the world teaches us. the world teaches us to look out for ourselves, to consider ourselves the most important. the world teaches us to give of ourselves our lives and gifts cautiously, for you never know who might take advantage of them. but i have found that following jesus and paul is much more rewarding than living life cautiously.

can you imagine if jesus in the garden started to think, "well, i don't think i am going to go through with this, after all, i'm not sure if these people appreciate me for who i am. it seems to me that they just want me around in order to get a few miracles for themselves. forget the cross, forget these people, i just don't think they appreciate me."

of course that was not the attitude of jesus. while he may have been tempted to think like that in his humanity, he decided to go down the hard road of the cross. it was a tough and agnozing road, but in the end, it was a rewarding one.

i believe paul followed in jesus footsteps, and that is why when he got to the end of his life he was able to say, "For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, i have finished the race, i have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous juddge will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

as i enter a new year, i am asking the Lord to help me continue to live by faith and to pour my life out to others like a drink offering unto God. i do that, because i have a profound sense of christ's sacrificial love for me. and because i understand his amazing love, i desire to love others in return. to love others no matter what their response to me is. for my source of love is not dependent on people, but God. if it were on people and their responses, i would have run out of love a long time ago.

so, are you going to tap into God's love this year and join me in pouring out your life to others? in light of what Christ has done for you, are you willing to give yourself as a living sacrifice to Him? while it is a rough road filled with hardships and challenges and some sleepless nights, i dare you to show me a better road. i double dare you!