Monday, May 30, 2005

make poverty history

for me poverty is a huge problem and tends to be much more real to those who have to experience it on a daily basis. it seems from most every source that i read, that the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer, and a great deal of it is tied to oppression of some sort. i am hardly an expert on the problem or what to do, but i am convinced that part of what it means to bring the reality of the kingdom of God to earth deals with helping to bring shalom, which is a jewish concept that has a great deal to say about bringing physical well being to everybody.

not too long ago i ran across this website on poverty. if God hasn't yet touched your heart with the problem of poverty, then just watch the short video of the two little boys who lost their parents and see if God can't use it to grab a hold of your heart. and then take a little time to read about what 420 different churches and organizations are doing to help end poverty. at this point in my life, i don't know the best thing that i can do, but i know that as i do what i can, that God will give me further direction. as you can see, one thing you can do is very simple, just write a note to some people who represent many of us as a people, and share with them your heart. that small step could make a big difference for many who are experiencing poverty.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

reclaiming the ivy league, reclaiming the earth

a movement to reclaim the ivy league schools
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

i was able to catch the 4th article in the new york times that talks about evangelicals reclaiming the ivy league schools for Christ.

the story of how matt bennett after a 40 prayer and fasting time heard from God and moved on his dream is inspiring. seeing how alumni who have graduated from the ivy league schools are funding and finding resources for this project is thrilling as well.

it will be interesting to see how this movement effects the future. we should pray that God would use this movement as well as other movements to take a hold of people's lives in fresh ways in order to see the reality of His kingdom come to earth. that together we can move closer to global justice, illiminate needless violence and hunger and be good stewards of what God has given us.

if we open our eyes, we can see God's fingerprints working all around the world in the most unusual places. may His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

may God give us the grace to follow Him wherever he leads us, to the poor or to the weathly, to the city or to the country, to the first world or to the third world, to the center of politics - washington d.c., the center of economics and marketing - new york or the center of pop culture - los angeles. if we answer our call, He will surely be with us, and we will see God do amazing things.

Monday, May 23, 2005

in my ipod

Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

besides continuing to love ray charles' "genius loves company" and listening to a little old star wars, a friend of mine by the name of latifa turned me on to akon's debute album "trouble" before any songs were being played on the radio. i chose to put up this picture of akon instead of the album cover, because i think akon, in some of his songs, gives a fresh view of the world and has intersected with lessons that God has been teaching me.

the first song that i listened to from the album i ended up playing at church, it is my favorite on the album and is called "ghetto". my next favorites are "journey", "i won't" "pot of gold", "trouble nobody" and i have come to enjoy the song that has gotten the most airplay "lonely." while i have enjoyed most of the songs on the album, it seems like some of the songs degrade women or treat them more like a sex object than a person, which is sad, considering the richness of a number of the songs.

today i check out his website to find that akon is having "unprecedented global success both here ande abroad." along with "lonely" being #3 on U.S. Billboards, in the UK that single is #1 as well as the album. akon "has also landed upcoming sold out performances in several countries around the globe, including denmark, spain, germany, france and the uk. click here if you want to learn more.

there are a few songs that have explicit content, but you can get the clean version if you have an interest in the album.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

meet my good friend ruslan. we met during my second trip to the urkaine and we spent many hours that summer together. i was able to visit him again when i visited my third and fourth time, developing our friendship.

the last time i left ruslan, he was an athiest. this past time when i came to visit him, he was a brother in christ. he is now a man living by faith. he just bought a camera and embarked on a new occupation as a photographer. the next two photos of a seed breaking through the asphalt are his pictures. they also tell a little portion of his story.


Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

so my friend ruslan shared this picture with me and with the picture he told me a story. when i met ruslan he was a staunch athiest. but during this trip ruslan told me something like this, "J.R. when you met me years ago, by faith you planted a seed in my heart, and since then that seed of faith has broken through my hard heart just like this seed has broken through the asphalt."

seed breaks thru

seed breaks thru
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

the power of a seed to break through asphalt is amazing, and that the seed can become something of such beauty is a testimony to the creative genius of our Creator.

monument to friendship

monument to friendship
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

a famous monument in kiev, ukraine is the "monument to friendship". this monument reminds me of the many friends that God has given me in kiev and different parts of the world, and how God uses friendship to shape our world and view of the world.

monument to motherland

monument to motherland
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

one of the days when i was in kiev, i was able to do some photography, which i will post in the days to come. this is one photograph of a famous monument that looks over the city, it is called "monument to the motherland."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

from kiev, ukraine

i thought i would have more time to blog, but my schedule has been very full since i arrived in kiev. after arriving i meet with some of the leaders here and prepared for the conference i was speaking at. i was very impressed with the organization of the conference and from the response that people had, i sensed God moving in people's heart in great ways.

monday i was able to travel with my friend ruslan and do some photography in the city. i was also able to meet up with an old friend of mine spencer who is starting a church. it was great connecting with him and his wife.

yesterday i met with different church leaders all day. helping them with some evaluation of their churches as well as interacting about many things.

the time has been great, profitable for the kingdom, and i have enjoyed it personally as well. i will give more details of the trip when i get back home. just wanted to let you know i was still alive.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

leaving for kiev, ukraine

many years ago God put the ukrainian and russian people on my heart, and since that time i have been able to take four trips to the ukraine. three of those trips i spent an entire summer in kiev. the first trip i took was right after the iron curtain opened. i traveled to different cities in the ukraine as well as moscow, russia. it has been five years since i have been to the ukraine, primarily because it has taken a lot of energy to start some new churches in los angeles. but my heart is so excited to see all the friends i have made over the years.

some of the people that i built relationships with years ago have now become christ followers, and this time i will be greeting them as brothers and sisters. others were members that have now become pastors. it deeply excites my heart to have the opportunity to see them again and meet some new people as well! just thinking about seeing them again brings me great joy.

if you get a chance, please pray for me and my time in the ukraine. i will be there just a week, but it will be a full one. during the weekend i will be speaking four different times at a conference in kiev, where a couple of different churches are gathering together. pray that God would somehow use my words to bless their lives and help them be a blessing to many.

hopefully i will have some connection of the internet to blog during my time. but right now i must prepare. peace.

Monday, May 09, 2005

blessed are the poor

"We who are rich are often demanding and difficult. We shut ourselves up in our apartments and may even use a watchdog to defend our property. Poor people, of course, have nothing to defend and often share the little they have.

When people have all the material things they need, they seem not to need each other. They are self-sufficient. There is no interdependence. There is no love. In a poor community, however, there is often a lot of mutual help and sharing of goods, as well as help from outside. Poverty can even become a cement of unity."

Jean Vanier

recently i have been gaining a better understanding of what luke wrote "blessed are the poor" and what james wrote, "the poor are rich in faith."

back from retreat

so a bunch of us went to big bear for our first annual kairos la retreat. we had one for our team a couple of years ago, but this was our first official retreat with la people.

i felt the time went well. we were high in the mountains over 6,000 feet up, and the first night we sang, i gave a short message on faith, hope and love and we went to bed. in the morning after breakfast we got together to trace the finger prints of God in the life of our community, using the seven holy days as a tool for rememberance, like passover a day of great rescue. it was refreshing and strengthening to our faith to just remember all the good things God has done in and through our lives.

then we had a mini olypics between canvas groups, which the pasadena canvas group won, after that we had about 3 hours of free time to hike, play soccer or go canoeing and hang out. after dinner we got together to take a peak at the future with faith. we looked at where we could be as a community in 2006, 2008 and 2010. and then we talked about the importance of each of us bringing what we have to Jesus, our fish and loaves and asking him to bless it. to look at the future with a sense of plenty verses a sense of scarcity, and to be generous with all that God has given us.

overall, i sensed the presence of God at our time, uniting us together for a common mission. i was completely exhausted by saturday night, but refreshed by sunday.

our sunday service was really cool. we had an open mike time, where it was a combination of planned poems, songs and encouragement mixed with some spontaneos sharing. it was incredibly encouraging. i believe that you can download the mp3 from that evening at our website.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

road rage and other news in california

road rage
Originally uploaded by dream awakener.

"the shootings have left four men dead and four injured, but investigators are struggling to generate leads and so far have made no arrest" the la times reported in the latest headline on road rage in la. it seems as if the killings happening within such a short period of time have attracted intense media interest, but according to law enforcement there is no indication that freeway shootings have actually increased.

in fact an article today gives a chart of freeway related shootings within the city of Los Angeles:

Year Incidents Fatalities

2001 41 2

2002 46 4

2003 46 4

2004 36 1

2005* 11 2

*Through May Source:LAPD La Times

i guess the other deaths were just outside of the actual city limits of la. i'm not sure what the stats are for the county, but it is kind of interesting that the city of la is actually on a pace to see a decrease in freeway shootings, but you would never know it by the reaction of the media. it's just kind of an interesting thing to me how the media influences our perception in so many ways.

other interesting news is that california growth rate as far as percentage speaking slowed it's pace this past year. the state only added 539,000 new residents, compared to 689,000 in 2000. this is due to a loss in legal and illegal immigration and a stabilization of birth rate. the rise of housing is cited as the reason for less immigration from other countries. nonetheless, the state of california accounts for one in eight americans, according to the state department of finances. the last time a single state represented such a large part of the total population was in 1860 when new york state represented nearly as large a proportion, according to an article in the la times.

los angeles county gained more residents than any other county adding 119,055 new residents and continues to be the nation's largest county with about 10.2 million people. the city of los angeles added more people that any other city, 44,092, to reach a population of 3,957,875. so there is a lot of work to be done in california and in los angeles. keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

tiger unleashed

so this past friday i went to my friendly apple stores in the la area. i was able to go by the one in pasedena, glendale and finally the grove. since i was in pasadena for a coaching apointment and to pick up chris backert, we both stopped by to enjoy the release party of the new operating system called OS X tiger. the line was long to get in, but we got through fairly quickly.

i won a few free i tunes, but no ipod or laptop. but when i was at the grove, i purshased the OS X tiger. i ended up staying up until 3:30 exploring all the cool things it could do. if you have a mac, this one is a must.