On public rememberance..

May 11, 2010 at 6:35 pm (Things I'm thinking about, What I'm reading) (, , , , , )

In preparation for my upcoming talk on Social Justice at church on Sunday, I have been reading a chapter by Wolterstorff entitled, “Justice in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible”.  Today, sitting in a borrowed car in the middle of one of the poorest and most destitute townships in Cape Town, I read about why social justice is so close to God’s heart. Why does God repeatedly and so emphatically enjoin Israel to render justice to the “least of these” – widows, orphans, aliens and the poor? Wolterstorff proposes two answers. Firstly they are to do it as a public rememberance or a memorial of their own deliverance, by God, from Egypt (Lev 19:33; Deut 24:7; Deut 24:21). In response to what God has done for them, and as a public testimony and memorial, they are to do likewise. Ah…the penny drops! *Unless you forgive your brother, I will not forgive you.* *The story of the merciful servant* There is a solid principal here which runs through the Bible, I believe: …  out of the forgiveness, redemption and restoration of relationship which Christ demonstrated to us, we are to forgive, redeem, and restore others. And to do so publically as a testimony of the justice which has been meted out to us in Christ.

Secondly, the bringing of justice is God’s own cause. His deliverance of Israel is but one example of His desire for and commitment to justice (Isaiah 58:6-7; Psalm 113:7-8). Israel, and by extension all who call themselves follows of Christ, was to “participate in Yahweh’s cause (abiding commitment to justice) by imitating and obeying Yahweh in pursuing justice” (p. 81). Why? Because “Yahweh loves justice”! (Isaiah 61:8; Psalm 37:28; Psalm 99:4).

“God acts justly and enjoins the doing of justice by his human creatures because God loves justice” (P. 81). This injunction is not arbitrary – rather His “pursuit of justice and Yahweh’s injunction to practice justice are grounded in Yahweh’s love”. God loves people, He DESIRES that they flourish, that they have SHALOM. Justice is indespensable to flourishing and shalom for everyone.

This excites me!

More on this… don’t want to spoil the talk on Sunday!

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on heroes

May 3, 2010 at 6:06 pm (Things I want to see changed, Things I'm thinking about, What I'm reading) (, , , , , , , , )

Husband-man and I have just, delayedly, finished Heroes Season One. As I was thinking about dreaming and the ‘individual call’ question, I think I found a pretty good analogy in the series. On Heroes, everyone is special –  each with a distinctive special ability – and most of them feel the call to “Save the World”. So they set out, on their own, to fulfill their own personal destiny. In the process they cut off, undermine, endanger, kill, destroy, misunderstand, question, and manipulate all the other ‘heroes’ whose tasks, also, are to save the world. In so doing, they very nearly screw  things up entirely ending with that dismal picture of the world in five years time.

I think we tend to do that. We stand with our own unique abilities, character, talents, or giftings (if you want to use Christianese). And we set out, by ourselves, to save the world – believing that we are the destined one, the chosen one; rather than the destined ones and chosen ones. The church. And so we set out longing to hear the specific call and to see the unique path layed out before us that will lead us to “hero-hood” and saving the world. And we cut off, undermine, endanger, kill, destroy, misunderstand, question, and manipulate everyone else who is doing the same. The church.

I don’t think this is necessarily intentional or spiteful. I think it rather comes from a fundamental misunderstanding and misreading of Scripture, combined with a world-view which puts the individual at the centre and elevates self-hood. In light of these two, the quest for “God’s  individual plan for MY life” becomes completely understandable. A re-reading of Scripture, I believe, clearly demonstrates that while God does on occassion work through individuals (Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, Esther, Daniel etc), His primary concern is with the destiny and path of nations, societies, people groups and communities. Secondly, I believe that God’s overall ‘plan’ – the coming of His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven – can most efficiently, effectively, and exquisitely be achieved through individuals acting in their special capacity/ability/talent/gifting or dream IN COMMUNITY. I’ll do my little part, you do yours, and together we will have done something GREAT.

Shane Claiborne puts it this way:

Shane: Early in my youth, I spent a lot of time thinking, `What is God’s will for my life?’ You know how it goes – as if the whole universe kind of revolved around me. One day, I caught this idea from a priest: “Good things come to those who wait, but great things come to those who get off their butts and go find God at work.” That’s a very different way of thinking of things. And it’s very liberating to know that I don’t have to wait for God to write a magical formula on the wall for me, but I can look around for where God is at work and join in. Instead of staring at my sandals, I walk out my front door and look into the eyes of my neighbours.’

Sometimes it’s harder to be a part of a community than it is to just be a lone ranger or a vigilante. It can seem easier to be a soloist than part of a choir – but ultimately this is a story about community. I’ve got a quote on my wall that says, “I know you’re strong enough to do it alone, but are you strong enough to do it together?” …  Here’s another one: an old African proverb says `if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.’ In a sense, leadership is a choice to go far together rather than just to run as fast as you can on your own. Being someone who is always going fast, I am tempted to do things alone, but I have chosen to do life together. I have intentionally joined with others. Ultimately, we can do more together than I can on my own.” Excerpt from `Follow me to Freedom’ – Shane Claiborne and John M. Perkins

So stop. Stop waiting for God to reveal the individual plan for your life. Find where what you have to give intersects with what the world needs. See, God ‘may’ have a specific path laid out for you (a Moses-plan if you like), but in the meantime while you are waiting for Him to reveal it to you, I think He has laid out enough general ground rules to keep you occupied – love mercy, practice justice, go into all the world, preach the good news, baptise, make disciples, love God, love people, pray unceasingly, always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have, be salt, be light, spread the aroma of Christ…. the list goes on. Find somewhere God is already at work, and join Him and the others already there. Take out your crayons, and draw. Dream.

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try this on for size…

May 2, 2010 at 4:57 pm (Things I'm thinking about) (, , )

Does God Have a Specific Plan for Your Life? Probably Not..

This isn’t going to become a copy and paste blog, i promise. But as the desire to dream begins to stir in me again, this one caught my eye. sometime in the weeks to come i’ll write my thoughts on “individual plans” for your life – a myth i believe we’ve sucked up because hey, we live in an individualistic world where everybody wants to be special (Heroes?) More on that later. for now, think on this…

‘If God is fathering us, He is helping us discover what is good, right, pure, and worthy to pursue. He teaches us morality and ethics, but also gave us a heart filled with desire and longing. It’s as though God sets before us a big sheet of butcher paper and hands us a box of crayons and tells us to dream.

If God has something specific for you, you’ll know, I promise. But if He is setting a box of crayons down in front of you (a box of crayons called life) then by all means draw. He’s taught you right from wrong, good from bad, beautiful from profane, so draw. He will be with you, proud of you, cheering you on, so draw. He loves you, so draw in the inspiration of the knowledge of His love. Draw a purple horse, a red ocean, a nine-legged dog, it doesn’t matter. Lets stop being so afraid. Lets live, and show the world what it really means to be grateful we don’t live in a dysfunctional family.”

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dear carlzen

April 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm (People I have known) (, , , , , , )

Your eyes. Your eyes stay with me, years and years on (memories tag, snag, haunt, call). I look into your eyes, only child. Child only. The depths of your eyes – deeper than the depths of the sea;born from the depths of crashing waves – your eyes hold the secrets of the old, hold the sorrows of the world, hold in them the stories of every story come after. Every child only who tore my soul (tears my soul) lived and died and lived first in the stories of your eyes. Child only, my first child. I look back into your beautiful, beautiful eyes and I promise to speak.

Your silence – all the tears, all the sandcastles, all the soundless screaming, dying for hands that must not touch you – your silence screams at me. Your silence – which turned from me and felt its lonely way away, hugging close-tight the walls – your silence pleads with me. Around you go for hours and hours and endless hours. Hours which tear me to my core as I watch you, round and round.

You turn – turn from me and stand still – tense, frigid – you stand willing yourself away. Willing the walls to hold you. You stand – breath held til it hurts – lest they see you. Lest the world see you. Sees you. Silently standing.

The wave – monstrous wave. Monster. Raises itself, dwarfs you, pauses a moment to savour its own sadistic menace. Then crashes down on you. Crushes you. Grabs you and smashes you. Child. Only. Air – all the air that filled your tiny lungs, breathed your moment life – is sucked from you. Life is ripped slowly from your clenched child hands. Your body cries, sorrow wrought from timeless ages gone.

Silence descends. Silence which kept you alive before your soul’s death. You lie – tense, frigid, still. Willessly slipping away. Your eyes stare up through the depth of the sea which holds you still. You stare motionless up through the white foam, ageless, blown furiously aside. Your soul is old.

You lift your eyes to mine. Your scream pierces. I lose my soul within your pleading eyes. I lose my soul yet also find it.

Your eyes stay with me years and years on and drive me. I’ll scream. I’ll scream as loud as it takes. I’ll fight. I’ll fight with all of my soul for you.

I’ll take your tiny child only hand, again, in mine and sit with you. Teach you all the colours of the morning sky and more. I’ll hold your hand as waves and breakers (the roar of waterfalls) wash over you. Wash you. We’ll chase that ageless white, holding the colours in our hands as the sun shines down through the sea’s breath – breath that breathes into you. Breathes you. Your breath fills me – breathes life into life, passion, vision, devotion.

You become my life anthem; my voice sprung from your vow of silence. You are what drives me. Because I love you. I love you, beautiful child only. Carlzen.

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the vision

April 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm (Poetry) (, , , )

The Vision

The vision was spoken before time
It was birthed from what was not
It lives as the response of the created to the voice of the creator

The vision speaks the heart of Him who first spoke
The vision speaks itself with the voice of love because
The vision is love.
And love speaks, and breaths into the vision and breathes
Vision and what is out of obedience to the Word

The Word has called what is not as though it were
The Word was with God
The Word is God

The vision is true living, living beyond tomorrow.
The vision lays aside its own cares, wants, needs, desires and lives only for another
It does not sleep
It keeps watch through the watches of the darkest night
when life struggles to breath and all the demons of the
Past and the present struggle for the future

The vision does not turn a blind eye but wars in the heavenlies for one life.
For reconciliation
The vision is a collision of fate and destiny

It is hearts fighting for hearts
It is tears that won’t stop falling
It is a body laid over another, as bullets rip through flesh
It is weeping. It is hands reaching tirelessly. Eyes that cannot shut, hearts breaking, a sorrow beyond words, it is lives driven to exhaustion, finding strength in I AM.
The vision is death for life. Ceaseless. Tireless.
Breathing for another through the blackest night.

The vision is joy.
The vision is the morning.
Glorious Day.
The vision is profoundest mystery of profoundest victory
The vision becomes our lifesong
The vision is not, save that He IS.

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