Sunday, December 6, 2015

Just one just judge

A new friend recently made a comment about doing something that would probably break the Sabbath but it was just the point he's at spiritually. It invoked a pretty strong reaction in me because I thought about Jesus saying that He is Lord of the sabbath and not the other way around. So, I looked up Matthew 12 and there's a lot I never noticed before. The order of things in the Bible fascinates me, and I feel Jesus had a theme of hope and burden-lifting versus judging and meting out justice going on in Matthew 11-12. Well, really the theme shows up throughout his whole life. It was good to look back over my old blogs today - they ministered to my weary soul. I've been a wave getting tossed about by other waves lately, and I'm deciding now what I want to/am going to do about it. I'll find out soon, and I think this helped... Thoughts on Justice and Judging from Matthew 11-12 Matthew 11 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence,[d] and violent people have been raiding it. 13 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds. THIS all shows their lens of looking through the lens of rules - setting themselves up as judges and doling out their definition of justice. Then Jesus comes and says, "No, this isn't what I want - I want you to sacrifice your position as a judge and instead be merciful." Then he says.... “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” These words distinguish Jesus from most of us "followers". The church can often place such heavy burdens - people will leave the church just to be free of the burdens they feel or imagine. But Jesus came to take our heavy load rather than to lay burdens on us. Though he was perfect his heart was humble. How then can we imperfect beings have such pretentious hearts? How can our hearts be harsh and prideful? Who was making the weary tired? Who was heaping the burdens on them? If not Jesus, who thought they had the right to administer "justice"? At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath The Pharisees were just waiting for someone to do something wrong so they could pounce on them! ”If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[a] you would not have condemned the innocent. (They had condemned his disciples for picking grain as they walked - hungry - through the fields 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” The power to do good comes from God, so if it wasn't okay wouldn't he just withhold his power? Or did they think that they were actually the ones doing the healing? 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (Jesus was taking away their perceived power as judges of others' conduct.) This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”[b] When will we put our hope in him

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Unshaven Legs and Unimaginable Adventures!

It's that time again... well, with a few new features; >It is exam week, and (thankfully) exams are not plaguing me this year... there are just ridiculously long papers that I have neglected to write because I am a procrastinator at heart, in action, and every possible way. > But next up is ADVENTURE time! This summer I won't be trekking off on my own in pursuit of ravenous tornadoes, sky-scraping mountains, teething feral animals or anything similar. I might run into all of the above, but I will be with my best guy friend ever (and my in 16 days husband)! What fun that will be. It's looking like a fiery tabasco sauce, Michigan cold adventure like no other. And maybe throw Washington State in there too - we are hoping to intern at one of the most intriguing organic farms I've come across - Spencer Fruit Organic Farms in Wenatche, Washington. *dreamy sigh* just the thought reminds me of childhood wanderings around Bellingham, WA and Lummi Island where my patchwork quilt, not-too-oversized family celebrated Great Grandma's 80th Birthday. That was the first time I encountered cous-cous and other strangeness. The inn we were staying at brought my Grandma out a sheet cake insulated with white sugar frosting and decorated with flowers - yes, that's right - flowers... on our sweet Birthday cake. Now that I know some flowers (like nasturtiums) are edible and actually quite tasty I laugh at the horrified and pained expressions painted on all of our faces. What was on the cake? In my mind's eye I see some daisy cultivar- who knows if that's accurate though? I was around 12 the first time, now at 22 years old I've changed a lot. Probably look more or less the same- with an extra foot or two added on. But What always changes the most with me is my attitude towards and acceptance of life. Back then I scoffed at people who thought you could eat the flowers on a birthday cake. Now I'm delighted to tell people what flowers they can eat. I was raised in an environment that was, hmmm... would it make sense to say "anti-hippie"? I thought that peace signs were somehow demonic (I didn't know the peace sign actually includes the symbols N & D - standing for Nuclear Disarmament), I thought vegetarians were people who cared more about animals than their fellow humans - and all other sorts of misconceptions plenty of others still hold fast to. Oh, and I also was told I could not be on the swim team unless I would shave my legs - pretty typical - I mean, most 8th grade girls are just dying to have silky, smooth legs, and my mom wanted that for me - in my best interest. But now I don't shave my legs. Ha! I do not shave my legs! What? Some would be shocked and disgusted - trust me, I had plenty of questions and obvious stares last summer working with around 60 cool high schoolers a week. But why should women shave their legs? Men don't. Should they? Most people say: "No! That would just be weird!" Why would it be weird? Because our culture and the media says it would be weird, just like they say a beautiful woman has smooth, soft to the touch legs. Well, I don't have to seduce anyone with my legs. Not only am I almost married to a man who loves me, but I would not want any slimy guy who thinks "his woman" must shave her legs to be touching mine anyways!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gandhi's Suggestion to Missionaries

I'm wading through gobs of research for my honor's thesis paper, while looking for The Gandhi Reader I instead found "Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation" and (out of sheer curiosity) opened to the chapter on Gandhi and the Christian Faith which detailed the following:

E. Stanley Jones - a Methodist missionary to India - once asked Gandhi, "How can we make Christianity naturalized in India, not a foreign thing, identified with a foreign government and a foreign people...?" I love Gandhi's response:

"First, I would suggest that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, must begin to live more like Jesus Christ.

Second, practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down.

Third, emphasize love and make it your working force, for love is central in Christianity.

Fourth, study the non-Christian religions more sympathetically to find the good that is within them, in order to have a more sympathetic approach to the people."

If only I, and all followers of Jesus, could hear and take these words to heart.
To live like Jesus I must know what he did - who he was while he walked the earth, but also, what he is doing today. It's almost impossible to not tone true Christianity down - maybe that's where all the religiosity and religion comes from. Love? How can we operate out of just love? Maybe I need to ask for God's help with this more! I do try to find the good even in "secular" materials many Christians term "bad". For all truth is God's truth, no matter where it's contained.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Divine and Dust

Today a friend brought up a quote C.S. Lewis has - I think she was referring to this popular one found in The Weight of Glory;

“A man’s physical hunger does not prove that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation
on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which
repairs its body by eating and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same
way, though I do not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall
enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men
will. A man may love a woman and not win her; but it would be very odd if the phenomenon
called “falling in love” occurred in a sexless world.”

It reminded me of a song Brooke Fraser sings with pieces of that quote in it;
"If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy
I can only conclude that I, I was not made for here
If the flesh that I fight is at best only light and momentary
Then of course I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared
... ... ...
Cause my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become"

Since I heard it I've really liked it.

Guess thoughts of this sort have been bumbling around in my head for a bit - when looking for the quote I stumbled across an atheist website explaining why what C.S. Lewis had to say was an invalid argument and we don't know food exists because we have hunger but only when we actually find food; likewise they said we don't know God exists because we desire a superior, loving, creator-being but because we find Him. The argument seemed rather sterile and heartless to me; and our hearts are a component to be reasoned with - not just our minds!

I actually went to chapel today, and rather than being mildly annoyed with contemporary Christian worship songs like I usually am there was sang that I kind of appreciate; "Where you go I'll Go" by JesusCulture. Some lyrics that made me think were these;

Jesus only did what he saw you do
He would only say what he heard you speak
He would only move when he felt you lead
Following your heart following your spirit

How could I expect to walk without you
When every move that Jesus made was in surrender
I could not begin to live without you
For you alone are worthy and you are always good

Though the world sees and soon forgets
We will not forget who you are and what you’ve done for us

Jesus has been on my mind - who did He say he was, what did others say he was, did they say the same sorts of things? The words about how Jesus wasn't doing his own thing, but the Father's - not his own will but God's struck me. I speak (usually) when I want to speak, out of pride or arrogantly thinking I can solve someone's problems or whatever other excuses I think of to say anything. I feel my failure to follow God, and especially identifying with the world forgetting God so easily - we say we won't forget God during these spiritual highs but are like the Israelites: seeing, adoring, and promptly forgetting both God and the miracles he's done for us. I thought about how I can try to live without Jesus, but why would I?

I (think I) would still feel that loving people and serving others above myself is a purpose- if not the purpose- for life. I'd like to deny a lot of things about the Christian faith - in a speech I recently gave about war and pacifism - "I wanted to be persuaded by Captain Moon that going to war is right - because it's hard to believe in stuff like pacifism and love and Jesus. When Peter sliced off that soldier's ear Jesus healed the man, and I think that Jesus would piece back that young Japanese schoolgirl who got bombed to shreds." But these are things that are at least hard for me to deny.

Who knows about all their feelings and thoughts and all such abstract things, but I do know that God exists and Jesus is an integral part of His message to humankind. How can I know the message of the Divine if I am only dust with His breath?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

La Virgen de Guadelupe & The 3 Quetzales Adventure

“Bombas” or firecrackers– really more like bombs than fire or crackers – exploded all day today; usually causing me to wince, duck, and search for cover. Alas, only ash, and no mushroom clouds shrouded Antigua today. All of this in honor of The Virgin of Guadelupe. Apparently a Mexican Saint that every house I went in today had a mini-shrine for but almost no one knew why she was so special. Though, like I postulated to Emily, “Maybe it's just that she didn't have sex.” What? It's pretty miraculous in this age. Anyhow, all of the little kids here dressed up like indigenous Mayans (Which I think signifies how Guadalupe first appeared to a Mayan.) At La Merced, an enormous, yellow Catholic church there were booths paying homage to the Virgin where proud parents could snap photos of their Mayan-dressed Ladino children.

Of course there were marimba players and drummers there as well. Later in the night there was a procession with a float containing a semblance of the virgin and tons of flowers, carried over pine needles and yellow chrysanthemums. The household shrines had white flowers, little flowers, a picture of the virgin, and a bowl of coals – which I think symbolizes the incense of prayers the family is asking her to pray for their family members. Right outside our house was an alleyway decked out with streamers and torritos, which are these men who wear a cardboard tent with fireworks on the outside and run back and forth, letting the sparklers flare out into the crowd and causing Emily and our Guatemalan family to huddle together, heads turned in for safety.
And now for my tres quetzales adventure! It costs 1 quetzal and 50 centavos (about 25 cents) to take a chicken bus from Antigua to San Juan; so that's what I did. It's not as if I just decided to go on a traveling spree; the week before I had met two sisters at Common Hope, where I translate letters. They were back this week for her (still-in-stomach-type) baby's check-up so we talked again, this time Delmy, the 15 year old sister, invited me to come over to their house and pick nisperos (a fruit that grows here...don't think it's in the states, but the dictionary translates it as “medlar” if you know what that is.) Anyhow, they're these small, sweet, juicy fruits with sizey brown seeds, and I like them!

So I took Delmy and Wendy up on the offer and traversed up the side of Volcano Agua
with the two sisters, through a small orchard filled with nisperos, avocados, guayava, limes, oranges, bananas, jocotes, large wild-poinsettias, and purple orchids twining around trees,
not to mention vines of jasmine and a eucalyptus tree. It seemed like paradise, but it was certainly a good time, preceeded by a stop in their house, sipping Rosa de Jamaica with the family sporadically coming up and introducing themselves to me. Delmy sent me home with a huge bag of nisperos - I don't know what prompted this goodwill but I am certainly grateful.
On Good-will: I've learned a lot, and much of it seemed to culminate today at Common Hope. There I was, just translating letters when I get invited by Delmy to visit her and they buy me my favorite Guatemalan pastry (rellenito: fried plantains covered with sweetened black refried beans!), I draw and play with a little girl whose mom is busy selling nativity sets and they give me one of the clay doves, my boss gives me a lovely blue t-shirt. People just seem so generous and kind down here, and I'm unsure whether it's because... well, I don't know why that is. Sure, I've made a few people cards, friendship bracelets, or drawings down here – but that's just something I enjoy doing. Perhaps I've forgotten other people can be just as kind; in different ways, but still nice with seemingly no reason.
My mind has also been turned to God lately; I just finished “Answers to Prayer from George Muller's Narratives” and have started “Table Talk: Selections from Martin Luther”. They're both pretty old books, but that's the least important thing; both have reminded me that the Bible is far more important than any any any book written solely by us non-divine humans; that's humbling, because sometimes it feels good to say, “Why yes, I just finished a book by Pascal the other week.” or “Oh, I remember reading Martin Luther, I quite enjoyed him.” Rather than “God has really used Ephesians to humble me this week and call me back to righteousness.” Why is that? Pride probably, and the Bible conquers pride but sometimes other books just cause it to swell. I never want to fall into the trap of doing something out of pride, but rather desire to do all things out of Love, with God's constant help!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Time in Tikal

Mayan ruins are pretty high on most people's lists of "interesting things to see." Imagine yourself and 20 something other people crowded into a small plane, whipping through the air with cities, then roads, then only forest beneath you, then unnatural seeming mounds begin to appear profusely. That was the plane ride. Sure, we wondered about the hills, but the terrain isn't exactly flat here in Guatemala.

Seeing mossy hewn stones stacked to the sky and droves of tourists clambering (or huffing and puffing) up the slippery stairs was interesting in itself.

It was otherworldly, being in a stone room or standing in front of an altar that only God knows how many sacrifices were made. It was humbling to realize that all of the ruins looked like the irregular grass and tree covered hills before they were excavated and cleared off. How much more will our greatest buildings be ruled by nature in a few short years after we leave them?

My favorite part probably wasn't the elegant and intriguing, fastidiously piled heaps of rocks, but the things that were alive;


and a cute animal I can't remember the name of (but I did risk it and touch his tail!)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Atitlan Adventures

This weekend our group finally went to Lake Atitlan - the trip I was most excited about and the one that seemed the longest away was this weekend. That means our semester is getting closer and closer to being done. Bittersweet.

I've neglected to write about the organic macadamia nut farm we went to (and the corresponding desire to grow a few macadamia trees!)

Our trip to the US Embassy in Guatemala City (where I saw this funny bus - I hope you catch the irony - and considered trying to work in a US embassy somewhere, because every job with travel sounds like fun!)

Watched the sun dip behind the mountains and volcanoes of Antigua - when the earth isn't so flat it's harder to see sunsets. In fact I missed the moon-set last night while talking to a traveling musician from Cancun at Sunset Cafe -- because it disappears so rapidly with a mountain to hide behind!

I'm also getting frustrated with the power lines that intrude into every photogenic landscape - whether that's in the city or so far up in the highland mountains you'd think there wouldn't be any power lines.

Spending just a few days in Panajanchel (the tourist town on Lake Atitlan) and San Juan(a tiny little indigenous, rural town on the other side of the lake)made me want to change the "Antigua Semester" to the "Atitlan Semester". At Uxlabil, our eco-hotel in San Juan, I picked a lime and several juicy oranges, canoed to watch the sun set, and kayaked in the early morning light, found floating volcanic rocks along with a cluster of boulders where I lodged my kayak and jumped into the crystalline (supposedly polluted) water for a swim among the local fishermen and large bass in the water. Wouldn't you want to move here too?