Jesus had Blue Eyes

You have got  to read this post over at Deeper Story

While I was making payment this beautiful, bedraggled old man turned his blue eyes to search my brown eyes fully and asked, “Would you like to sit and eat with me?” And right there in the middle of Froyo World, with a few dozen college students intensely watching our exchange and the cars and pedestrians making their paces outside and the employee standing behind the cash-counter (waiting, it seemed, for my answer just as much as the homeless man was), I wanted to fall on my face and weep my shattered heart out. Because I knew that I knew that I knew that Jesus was asking me to eat ice cream with Him and what I said past the tears clogged in my own throat were the same words this old guy had just said to me a few minutes before, “Well SURE!!!”

Pierced. My. Heart.

It’s a story that I could tell.
So. Many. Times.
All the blue eyes, brown eyes, worn hands, wrinkled skin, drawn faces, toothless smiles, knotted beards and foul odours.
But there He was, stood before me, asking love and compassion, a kind word and a gentle smile. There He was sat beside me teaching humility, giving hope, exuding grace and stirring up faith.

Sometimes I forget and ask God where He is and somehow it can so quickly feel like He was never there. And I’m scrabbling around inside for that peace I know I had or that joy that burned like Holy fire and I think if I can just pray hard enough I can conjure it again. Then I’m reminded that it was not in a textbook, a sermon or a prayerroom that I really discovered who He is. It was in Patch’s calloused hands, Chris’s caring touch, Mike’s childlike energy and Sylvia’s righteous anger. And it was there that I learned who He made me to be, who I am in Him and I remember why I feel this discontent. Then I hear Him whisper, “Not long now”.

Jesus Had Blue Eyes (or, “Plus One”) by Erika

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An Advent Scrapbook

Having exams immediately before Christmas really makes you understand the “waiting” aspect of advent. You’re longing for that moment when you walk out of an exam hall, finally free and able to relax again. And this semester has been so relentless that it genuinely was the first relief I’ve felt from that pressure for almost thirteen weeks. It would be a serious understatement to say that I was happy!

I want to share with you some things I’ve been dwelling on this advent, some things that have made the meaning of it all really come alive for me.

Mamamonk has been posting a series of poems for the season but my favourite is definitely this one: Darkness. I think it captures beautifully the humanity of the birth, the messiness of it that we don’t see in our carols and lessons.

Sarah Bessey has also posted a beautiful piece over at Deeper Story about the messy humanness of the incarnation: Incarnation

But we keep it quiet, the mess of the Incarnation, because it’s just not church-y enough and men don’t quite understand and it’s personal, private, there aren’t words for this and it’s a bit too much.  It’s too much pain, too much waiting, too much humanity, too much God, too much work, too much joy, too much love and far too messy…

The guys over at 24/7 Prayer have been posting prayer spaces videos all through advent for daily reflection. I particularly enjoyed last week’s ones on Joy and looking at both Mary and Simeon’s songs of praise in Luke.

And finally, another wee video that beautifully portrays the humanity of this whole Christmas thing.

So there you have my advent-y scrapbook. Somehow  the whole thing seems more real to me this year, more mystical and wonderful. Jesus came, he is here still and I love it!

What makes you cry?

My friend Annie directed us to this wonderful post a few weeks back now about knowing what makes you cry:

Why does it matter what makes you cry or tear up? Maybe it just means you’re overly emotional, sappy, too sensitive. Maybe. Or maybe our tears are tiny messengers, secret keepers of the most vulnerable kind, sent to deliver a most important message – Here is where your heart beats strong. Here is a hint to your design. Here is a gift from your inner life, sent to remind you those things that make you come alive.

(Read the whole thing here: chattingatthesky)

I’ve been known to shed a tear or two in my time. Or, you know, sob my eyes out at the  slightest thing and usually in a rather embarrassing fashion. Such as when we went to see Lilo and Stitch for my best friend’s eleventh birthday and I had to stuff my fist in my mouth to stop myself from howling. Or the way I sobbed every time I watched the Make Poverty History video with those two child orphans living on the street. Or that night when I sat on the pavement with Chris and Kim and tears silently rolled down my cheeks as they explained their pain and sorrow.

Happy things are just as likely to have me bawling. The end of the Lighthouse Skit. Being given opportunities and shown trust I don’t deserve. The sweet kindness of friends.

Anything to do with parents and I’m a gonner. Anything to do with loss or isolation and it’s over. Anytime someone achieves against all the odds. Every time the missing people catches me off guard.

It’s okay to cry. It’s good to cry. Whether it’s at real life situations or movies, it’s good to be challenged emotionally. It reminds us we’re alive. It reminds me of hope and of how blessed I am. So go ahead and sob your heart out.

SF2011: Continuing

I’m aware that I haven’t posted all that much of consequence since I got back. There has been so much going on in my head and my heart that putting it into words was daunting enough, never mind those words being read by people around the world (that’s right folks, worldwide readership now!). So I’ve kept my thoughts to myself for a wee while and posted some small titbits for your amusement in the mean time. But, the thing is, I’m not done with this San Francisco business. I have so much more left to tell you! SF2011 posts will, therefore, be continuing sporadically among whatever delights this new season and new semester produce.

There are two posts by dear friends of mine which I would first of all like you to read.

The first is from the wonderful Lina, an intern with BJM, who wrote a beautiful post about a woman she has been working with this summer. I think it gives a great insight into what ministry is like at YWAMSF and in the Tenderloin. I experienced many similar things in my own time there. Amy:

I was challenged in so many ways by that encounter. Everything in me had to surrender and trust that Jesus is good, that He’s in full control. I was not in control, in many ways I felt completely helpless, but all I could do was love her and care for her the best I could. I have to trust that Jesus is bigger, Jesus is victorious and He is good.

The second is from my friend Jon. He wrote a great account of a very happy event on base – the graduation of one of the students in the 360 discipleship programme. An event 15 Years in the Making:

Throughout the years YWAMSF had reached out to him for a while, presumably first with our once Street Team ministry.  Eventually, Ali decided to join our newly pioneered 360° ministry, a ministry aimed at discipling people from the streets into a lifestyle in line with God, and in honor of Christ.  15 years later, Ali is the first graduate of this ministry.

Go listen to my friends for a while whilst I try to figure out where to start with our next story . . .

 

95 Modern Theses

A few blogging friends have pointed me towards Greg Gordon’s 95 Theses to the Modern Evangelical Church – a re-writing of Martin Luther’s 95 exhortations of the church in 1517 which, some would say, were the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

The ones from Gordon’s list which stand out to me are:

4. We’ve made Christianity about the individual rather than the community of believers. (Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12; 2Tim 4:16)

17. Modern Christians often find Jesus’ command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent. (Phil 2:21; Jam 3:16; Rom 12:1-2)

59. Decisionism and the “sinner’s prayer” has been a major cause of false conversions in the “church”. (2Pt 2:1-2; Eph 2:4-5; 2Cor 5:17-18)

65. The church has lost the fear of God and has over emphasized the love of God. (Heb 12:28-29; Lk 12:5; Heb 10:31)

66. The church has left evangelism to a few trained professionals. (Acts 8:1,4; Acts 4:29; Rom 10:14)

74. Little is made of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in churches or in evangelism. (1Cor 15:14-15; Acts 4:10, 33)

79. The “church” has many organizers, but few agonizers. (Phil 3:18-19; Rom 9:1-3; Jer 9:1)

80. We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the “church”. (2Tim 4:2; 1Cor 14:39; 1Cor 12:31)

83. Many “churches” are more dependent on tradition than the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Mk 7:13; Acts 16:6; Acts 13:2)

95. Unbelief has gagged and bound us as risen Lazarus! We need release in this final hour! (Heb 3:12-14; 1Cor 3:21-23; Heb 11:6)

I tried to whittle it down to a just a couple but it was too hard.

Have a read and let me know which ones make you think . . .

Comfortable

Carlos Whittaker posted something great yesterday over @ RagamuffinSoul.

He was filming a video for his new album which comes out next January (and I am very excited for by the way) when Danny, a man who is homeless in Atlanta, came up and started to join in worshipping God:

Listen really carefully to their conversation at the end or read it on Carlos’ blog.

“He places some of us in that valley” – that’s what Danny said.

The valley, though we’d much rather be up the mountain, is a very important, powerful place.

I haven’t been in the valley for quite some time and I’ve done everything I can this semester to avoid it. At. All. Costs. God’s been shouting me down but I’ve been clambering to stay at the top. It’s kind of lonely up here if I’m being honest.

As Carlos sings:

Save us from these comforts.
Break us of our need for the familiar
Spare us any joy that’s not of You
And we will worship You

The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz

BBC News – The man who smuggled himself into Auschwitz.

Amazing story in the news today of a soldier who smuggled himself into Auschwitz to see for himself the horrors in order to be able to tell others about it.

Whilst there he was able to help some of the prisoners, one in particular credits Avey with saving his life.

Watch the video clip too – I’ve seen the DVD they are watching of the man they saved, his and the testimony of others is so powerful.