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For Christine (and others like her)…

I’ve got a few ideas for posts swirling around my head in their usual disorganized states of confusion. I’ve even written a rough draft for one in particular that I just need to research a bit more and tweak here and there. But until then, I came across a passage in one of the books I’m reading that beautifully reflected the heart of an artist who has chosen to follow Christ. “The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations of Faith”(1) by Timothy Stoner (yes, that’s his real name) has served as a much needed reminder that the God of Mercy is also the God of Wrath. May I never forget that!

Anyway, the following passage reminded me of my dear friend and fellow believer Christine. So this is for you:

The artist who follows Jesus explicitly resides in the world and participates in culture in a truly unique way. She helps others pay attention to, take notice of, and celebrate the goodness of the good creation. She does not shy away from the dark and the broken, the sorrow and terror–but crafts it in such a way as to point toward hope. It is revealing a pathway out of despair and chaotic meaningless. Her work is a candle that flickers and flares.


Her art is for the good of the world.

She does it for the blessing of the world.

She is intent not on reinforcing the curse but breaking it. She has and is a gift. She is sent, like Jesus, to open the eyes of the blind, open the ears of the deaf, or give words to the mute. She is sent on a mission of freedom. Her mission mirrors that of her Savior. She is sent to break chains of despair, set at liberty those tied up with cords of emptiness, futility, and death, and bring sight to those who have lost the capacity to see. She is sent to give us the forgotten vision of the glory that peeks out behind the bush and branch and sea and life as it was meant to be. She sings and shrieks and falls to rise again, to give voice to what we’ve forgotten or refuse to hear.

She pours out her blood that a world may be saved.

She serves not always willingly or well but in her best moments, when she has forgotten herself, she serves.

Still, her loyalty is not here. She has had her idolatrous attachment broken. She is free to be in but not of . She is not slavishly loyal to the patterns, the values, the demands, and commands of a world in love with itself. Her eyes look up even as she looks out, and in looking around she sees through. She is not bewitched by appearances nor overly and permanently distraught. She has seen a city whose builder and maker is God, and she pines for the day when it will come here so there will be light forever.

And the light will be the love and the joy of her life.

She has this secret. Her heart has been captured by a lover who is out of this world. But He is coming back. She wants to make herself ready and her friends and ever her enemies , too. So she does her work as best she can and prays that it is good, that it will shine so brightly as to bring glory not to her but to Him.


Thank you, Christine. For recognizing the darkness and the light in my heart. And inspiring me towards greater works of art for His Glory.

(1) Stoner, Timothy.
The God who smokes: scandalous meditations of faith
published by Navpress, 2008

Are We Inherently Prejudiced?

The following is the closing argument from the movie “A Time to Kill”. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you know how it ends. If you haven’t, please take a few minutes to view this scene.

Based upon personal experience, I would answer the question, “Are we inherently prejudiced?” in the affirmative. I consider myself very open and accepting of other nationalities, races and even people of faiths outside my own. I think I can honestly say that if one of my children fell in love with, and chose to marry someone of a different race or nationality, it truly would not bother me. However, born of a caucasian father and a Japanese mother, I believe my experiences and my viseral reactions are colored by my heritage.

We’ve all seen commercials asking us to help feed, clothe, save the children of the world. Based on your own heritage, is your reaction the same regardless of whether the children are filmed in Africa? South America? Asia? North America? If I’m being honest, my emotions are triggered more by seeing the starving Asian child than the other children in the same circumstances. It’s not intentional, I’m not unaffected by the other children. But something is stirred in me on a deeper level because I sense a connection.
What about the news story about the child that was abducted, missing and/or murdered?

Does your heart ache equally for this child:
As it does for this one?:
This is not intended to be a “Guilt” post. I’m honestly curious if you have similar experiences.
If man is made in God’s image, then what exactly does that mean? If Jesus were to return to earth tomorrow, would it matter what He looked like? I’m certainly not a biblical scholar, but I’d be willing to bet a dollar that the historical Jesus didn’t have blue eyes and sandy blond hair. I imagine he looked very much like someone you would think twice about sitting next to on an airplane.
I guess my point is, if we’re to love one another as we are commanded to do, perhaps we need to take the time to learn from each other’s cultural experiences. I will never truly know what it’s like to be discriminated against because I am black or latino, but I do understand what it feels like to be treated differently because of the color of my skin and the subtle differences in my facial features. Does this make me more sensitive and empathetic to the injustices inflicted on others around the world? I certainly hope so….

Christianity can Save the World (Part 2 of 2)

Okay, is it just me, or does anyone else see a resemblance? But I digress…
As promised, here is the rest of
Christianity can save the world”:

One of the paradoxes of history is the relationship between the beliefs and the practices of the early Christians as compared to those of the culture around them.

The Greco-Roman world’s religious views were open and seemingly tolerant–everyone had his or her own God. The practices of the culture were quite brutal, however. The Greco-Roman world was highly stratified economically, with a huge distance between the rich and poor. By contrast, Christians insisted that there was only one true God, the dying Savior Jesus Christ. Their lives and practices were, however, remarkably welcoming to those that the culture marginalized. The early Christians mixed people from different races and classes in ways that seemed scandalous to those around them. The Greco-Roman world tended to despise the poor, but Christians gave generously not only to their own poor but to those of others faiths. In broader society, women had very low status, being subjected to high levels of female infanticide, forced marriages, and lack of economic equality. Christianity afforded women much greater security and equality than had previously existed in the ancient classical world. During the terrible urban plagues of the first two centuries, Christians cared for all the sick and dying in the city, often at the cost of their own lives.

Why would such an exclusive belief system lead to behavior that was so open to others? It was because Christians had within their belief system the strongest possible resource for practicing sacrificial service, generosity and peace-making. At the very heart of their view of reality was a man who died for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness. Reflection on this could only lead to a radically different way of dealing with those who were different from them. It meant they could not act in violence and oppression toward their opponents.

We cannot skip lightly over the fact that there have been injustices done by the church in the name of Christ, yet who can deny that the force of Christians’ most fundamental beliefs can be a powerful impetus for peace-making in our troubled world?

Compare the early church to where we are today. To say that we’ve strayed off point would be one of the biggest understatements of this century. Many of us are so focused on what we (and others) shouldn’t do that we lose focus on what we should do: “Jesus replied:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:27-30)
If these are in fact the greatest commandments, then shouldn’t we strive to fulfill them? Should they not be a litmus test for everything else we do and say? And if “all the law and the prophets hang on these two”, are we not being obedient to all of God’s laws when we strive to follow these? As my friend and pastor is fond of saying, “Following Christ isn’t easy, but it’s not complicated.” We need to get back to the basics. We need to love God and each other, and because we love God and each other, we take care of each other. Not just our family and friends, but enemies and strangers as well.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. (John 3:16-21)
Gimme that old time religion…..It’s good enough for me.
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