Friday, April 29, 2005

the conversion experience

i have been wanting to post many things lately, but i think my trip to kenya and the fullness of life has changed my typical blogging schedule. i hope to get back to the regularity that i once had.

one of the benefits of being a pastor in los angeles is that i have access to so many cool learning opportunities, and at times i get to take full advantage of them. for i strongly believe in "leaders are learners" and when we are no longer learning, we are no longer leading. for life is about growing and becoming, not arriving.

so on my day off yesterday and last week i went with my friend chris backert to his doctor of ministry classes, and this past tuesday, i went with lance, james and others to their class on ministry with ray anderson. lance and james are both getting their masters of divinity.

i really enjoy ray anderson, and was able to study some barth with him and my friend matt bartley, who know lives in columbus. anyway, one really cool quote out of many that i heard this past tuesday came from the pen of otto weber in the second volume on "foundations on dogmatics." in which he says this:

[A]s long as the 'Evangelical Church understands the Word merely as the impulse to a decision, and not, in view of the empowerment through the Spirit, as the decision prepared for man and thus set before him, it will cast people into their own autonomous 'decision' and that is tantamount to casting them into their own 'private' existence. The Church of the Gospel, wherever it may be, needs the courage to combine decision and God's action in holding us together; our own decisionis not our autonomous affair, but results rather in the fellowship of the Community in which our faith is stretched beyond its own tangible boundaries by the power of the Word empowered in the Spirit. . . We can never utter the Word of forgiveness to ourselves, not even when we 'know' about it. We need another person, who says it to us. We need the Community which lives by that Word.(O. Weber, Foundations of Dogmatics, II, p. 539)

all of this to say that the formation of the church as the community of christ is the work of the spirit, not simply human intentionality or agency. as john puts it in john 1:12,13 "but to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God." nrsv

there is something very vital and important in what john is telling us and what otto has so elegantly stated. we live in a world where many think they have "made a decision for jesus" but have no sense of calling to his community. can this really be possible? for God himself is community, Father, Son and Spirit, and when we take hold of that which we have been called to, geniune conversion takes place and brings us into the community of God and the body of christ on earth. we are either part of His concrete social and historical body that is present, or we are not. conversion is more than a mental assent, it involves being baptized into Christ's body that exists in real history and real time. a body that is about the Father's business.

if we lack concrete experience in the body, is our faith real or an illusion?

Monday, April 25, 2005

kairos and chronos unite

in our community we have what we call "kairos moments." they are those moment and times when numerous experiences, strands of knowledge and heart felt core convictions collide at a given moment to give us a heighten sense of awareness about reality, the divine, and the world, to such a degree that one must make a decision that shapes one's destiny.

one of those kind of moments is when a person begins their journey with Christ and passes from life to death. for in the greek, "kairos" is used in the verse where it says, "today is the day of your salvation." this an example of a kairos moment. but anybody who starts that walk with God will have a number of other kinds of "kairos moments" along the way. moments that can shape our direction, our daily habits as well as our energy level and motivation.

i have recently experience another "kairos moment" in understanding in regards to the absolute beauty of the 'good news' we have to share with a needy world.

what i have found important to do after experiencing a "kairos moment" is to take time to process it, and then seek God on the steps He wants us to take, so that the "moment" becomes actualized in our everyday lives. for then that moment expands along the line of our "chronos" existence. that is when kairos and chronos unite to create a different level of existence.

Friday, April 22, 2005

pictures of poverty - woman in despair

woman in despair2
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

during my time in kenya, i had the chance to meet many people and talk with many pastors. i asked one of the pastors if he could tell me the biggest problems in the turnkana district, where you live. he said yes:

some tribal traditions like polygamy

after talking with him for days and getting to know him better, i saw how the first two had hit him hard. he has four kids, he supports his extended family as well as five of his neighbors kids, because he adopted them after both their parents died of aids. the neighbor who died was one of his high school buddies.

what would you say are the problems you are facing? my heart goes out for those who feel all the effects of poverty on a daily basis. when will we as the people of God, open our eyes to the horrible realities of the world that we can help? why do we often turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to some of the real problems in our world? i'm sure that the enemy of our soul and the enemy of shalom "the way things ought to be" is behind it. maybe our world is too comfortable. may God help us. and may these different pictures of poverty that i took while in kenya, give you something to think about. i know that God has me not just thinking about all of this, but actively pursuing ways to help bring a greater since of shalom to our hurting world.

pictures of poverty - school cafeteria

school cafeteria2
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

while visiting one school we had the chance to visit their cafeteria. this school had about 75 children enrolled and here is there cafeteria and workers.

pictures of poverty - mud puddles

girl mud puddle2
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

one of our days in kenya included visiting different schools, this was during a school break, a little girl playing in the mud.

pictures of poverty - ghetto toys

ghetto toys2
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

there is not enough money for food let alone toys, so children in kenya get very creative and often design their own toys out of whatever garbage they can find. one's man garbage is another mans treasure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

back from orlando

so i was meeting with the NET in orlando over the last couple of days. we are still in process of looking at the best way to organize ourselves. i felt that we made some good progress. our next meeting time is the early june where we need to have a working proposal. between that time and this we will be working on it together. i am quite exhausted, since i woke up about 3 a.m. pacific time and traveled all day.

i'm looking forward to connecting with chris backert, who is staying with me and has been at my apartment while i have been gone. he is taking some intensives at fuller.

i have finally caught up with my e-mails. thank god for small miracles.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

la lights

la lights
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

so like if you are living in the la area, you gotta come out to this retreat we are having may 6th - 8th. it is going to be an inspirational time, as well as a great time to get away and connect with people. you can even sign up on the kairos los angeles website, just hit "retreat" and answer each question and you will be given more info. all the details about the retreat on right on the website, so i hope to see you there.

by the way, my apartment is just up from the capital records building that is shaped like a 45 record. see if you can make it out in the picture.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

interesting debate in venice

check out one of the headlines in the la times today: "Venice: Too Clothes-Minded for a Nude Public Artwork?" it is an intriguing story about how a planned stainless steel female torso is setting of some heated debates over decency and tolerance in one of the most freewheeling, freethinking parts of la. it's an interesting read.

Friday, April 15, 2005

santa monica beach

santa monica beach
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

one of the many things i like about living in los angeles is the incredible sunsets. i had a chance to capture this one recently.

for those of you who have been asking me if if i took the death valley photos, yeah i took them while i was there. thanks for the encouraging comments.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

purple bloom - death valley images

purple bloom
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

amazing beauty can appear in the midst of the dry deserts of our life.

desert mountains - death valley images

desert mountains
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

with the deep blue sky, the white clouds, the snow capped mountians, and the flowers and desert in the foreground, as i was leaving death valley i was again reminded of the artist that resides over the universe.

desert sun - death valley images

desert sun
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

let the sunshine in

desert red flower - death valley images

desert red flower
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

what amazing types of flowers bloom in the desert, where there is typically less than 2 inches of rainfall annually.

white desert bloom - death valley images

white desert bloom
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

this year the desert received a lot of rain and made the best flower bloom in modern history.

cracked desert - death valley images

cracked desert
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

some of the desert floor.

color crater - death valley images

color crater
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

here is bigger and more colorful crater.

b/w crater - death valley images

bw crater
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

check out this small crater.

artist mountian - death valley images

artist mountian
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

doesn't this look a little like an artist palette?

sand dunes - death valley images

sand dunes
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

there is an amazing variety of landscapes at death vally. the sand dunes are particularly beautiful in the late afternoon (like here) or the early morning, due to the shading effect.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

reality invades illusion

Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

as i was preparing for my our next series on "living in reality - rediscovering what it means to follow jesus through the gospel of mark" i came across some cool optical illusions on the internet, this one is an illusion because you look at it and it looks like things are moving, but in reality nothing is. to get the effects of the illusion you will need to click on this picture to see it at a larger size.

now if you had to identify one of the seven churches with the churches in america, which one would you pick? for me, i would have to pick the church of laodicia, because while we are think we are "rich" we are actually blind to a lot of reality. the only way we can see reality more like jesus does is to come to Him and get ointment for our eyes.

tomorrow i will be starting a new series and my hope is that God would use his word, in particular the book of mark, and his spirit to heal our blindness so that we might see reality more like he sees reality. because for many of us, i believe we still live in a world of illusion. for we have all been baptized into a world of illusion in the name of the powers that be, in the name of a false empire, and in the name of the media. for perception is reality (for the observer.) and we we need is to perceive reality as God does. we cannot do that on our own, we need his assistence. we need Jesus to give us oinment for our yes, so that we can really see. we need to immerse ourselves in the trinitarian evironment of the Father, Son and Spirit and i and trusting that as we take the next twelve weeks to walk with mark that we will meet jesus in a fresh way. feel free to download the teachings from our website.

Friday, April 08, 2005

death valley, mark and demons

yesterday i had the chance to finally go to "death valley" and it was amazing. only pictures can tell the story. i will post them when i get the chance.

currently i am preparing for a new series i will be sharing at kairos starting this sunday. it is entitled "living in reality" with the long sub-title "rediscovering what it means to follow jesus through the gospel of mark." currently all my free time, besides catching up with friends, is being used up in preparing for this series. i am loving it, but it is taking some intensive preparation.

one quote i would like to share that has stimulated me as of late is: "theology without action (praxis) is the theology of demons. " st. maximus the confessor.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

still catching up

after being gone to kenya and having lost and gotten a new computer, i still find myself catching up. just when i catch up with my phone calls i go to my e-mails to discover i have over 1,000 yet to answer, so i answer about 200 one day to find two days later i'm over 1,000 again. then i go to my phone thinking i'm all caught up, but i listen to my message service and it says, you have 17 new messages. i'm thinking, how can it climb so fast. tomorrow is a day off where i hope to go to death valley to get some cool photos of the desert, but i am afraid to listen to my phone mail and look at my e-mails. i hope to catch up by next week. if you sent me an e-mail recently, i want to thank you for your patience, as i am still catching up with my life.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

famine relief - women

Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

the women in the turkana tribe work hard, but as you can see, they are all thin as well. the drought has added to the famine problem. notice the women really like necklaces. just like women in the u.s. wear make up to add to their beauty, the women in the turkana tribe wear necklaces, but no make up. look for more commentary on my trip later this week. let me know what you think about the pictures.

famine relief - men

Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

the men in the tribe are very skinny as you can see, but very cool as well. all the men in these villiages of the turkana tribe have basically one occupation, they are herd their animals around so that they can find food. they have goats, sheep and camels. notice their shepherd hooks.

famine relief - little boy

Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

sometimes the children don't have clothes, most people only posses one set of clothes.

famine relief - little girl

Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

so, finally i have my new computer fully operational and am planning on sharing some of my pictures from kenya. the first group of four that you will see here are pictures of some of the people in the villiages that we were able to bring some food. i move from some of the young people to some of the older. look for more pictures this coming week.