Tuesday, May 13, 2008

sozoing suburbia

couple weeks ago, several us from campus church networks were talking through a passage in acts and asked the question..."what does it mean to be saved?"

one of us threw out the greek word sozo and how it described this idea of being restored back to the original intention. moreover, the cultural understanding of this word implied that the whole man (body, soul, and spirit), the human experience was "saved." this is much broader than the common perspective of being saved connected exclusively with our personal sin. as we think about what the gospel, the good news, means for our communities... if it is indeed good news...it must go beyond the good news that jesus died for our sins.

don't get me wrong, being saved from the burden and shame of our personal shame is good news. but as i read about how suburbia was designed to be this paradise where we could raise our kids but is now this commuting, consuming, isolating place...it seems to me that it suburbia needs some good news too! i think the same could said about our urban centers. the gospel needs to penetrate not just our hearts, but our actions, and flow out into the world.

so...what does it look like for the suburban context to be sozo'ed? what does it look like for the power of God, the gospel, to SAVE not just a person, but a community, region, city, nation?

one of the folks in the discussion from earlier asked the question..."if the enemy comes to steal kill and destroy and God has come to bring life and life abundant...where has the devil caused destruction in suburbia, and where God has come to bring life?"

one of things that has been very apparent about suburbia is the way that it isolates people. with homes designed for single families, the car being a necessity not a nicety, it is very easy for an entire community of friends to be scattered in all different places. our community is then fractured, not one that is borne out of daily moment by moment interactions -- but out of defined events / places that we must drive to. this is better than not having any community at all...but what if the gospel saving suburbia included the breaking of this isolation? what if...instead of fragmented communities, believers in suburbia consciously lowered those barriers by choosing to develop their community in a several mile radius of their home? what if...we actually set up structures that made us depend on one another, like reducing the number of cars that we own, or living nearby to each other so we can share resources? what if church was not some place we drove 30 minutes to once a week but what happened from monday to saturday?

as followers of jesus, we need to wrestle with the values our culture extols. i'm talking about subtle things like consumerism, independence, etc... its inevitable that we unconsciously ingest behaviours that affirm these values regardless of what context we're in. if we live in suburbia, we must be aware of these values and enact disciplines of abstince and engagement that are redeem and counter to suburbia's values. its in these places that we are cooperating with how the Holy Spirit will bring transformation to suburbia.

may we continue to dream for the sozoing of suburbia and the urban centers. Holy Spirit give us eyes to see and ears to hear. maranatha!

closing thoughts from living at the crossroads: church & mission:
"One of the reasons we have to create evangelism programs is that no one is asking us questions such as, "What is the reason for the hope within you", "Why do you live so differently" or "Why do you love the poor, provide service widows and care for prisoners?" Our churches are so rooted in the Western story that would our neighbors think if we had Jesus removed from our life that our treasure would be removed? Or would they think it would be a small loss in relation to how we live seeking to pursue the American dream along with the rest of our unbelieving neighbors? In Acts and the early church evangelism was built on questions because of the radical alternative way Christians lived."

Thursday, March 20, 2008

god's politics

"to me this immigration issue....i feel like america is so selfish. all we're concerned about is our self preservation and protection from terrorists. so we support candidates who will best protect us from terrorism. i'll tell you what, there is no president that will protect us from terrorism if God's face doesn't shine upon us....if God deals with us on the basis of shedding innocent blood, i don't care who you elect.
what if God will show mercy to america, if we will show mercy to the foreigners? that was the biblical to the foreigner. so what are you going to do -- send them back home and split up their families? i thought we did that with slavery!
i'm crying in my heart, i don't have an answer! the pain and the rumblings of this issue, of immigration, literally the votes of the latinos could go with those who are not pro-life. if God deals with us on the shedding of innocent blood.....i don't know what is going on in God's heart."

"i think he's got us in a squeeze play -- that will drive us to His heart." - lou engle, "state of the nation" (listen here)
i've been closely following the republican and democratic debates the past couple months. i don't recall ever being this involved in previous elections.

this election also marks a huge shift in my own convictions.

there was a time, when i felt like electing bush as someone who was pro-life and a proponent of family values was the right thing to do. after seeing the absolute botched handling of iraq, guantanamo bay, the culture of fear that has been promoted in our nation, the lies and deception rampant through the policies and members of this administration -- i think its fair to say that bush didn't live up the lofty expectations that put him into office.

as i've been following the elections, there's been an increasing sense of being caught in the middle. people say that jesus wasn't a democrat or republican, but its obvious that they prefer one party to the other. democratic supporters looking down on those who support a republican candidate or prolife advocates that are horrified that someone could possibly vote for a democrat.

when i first saw huckabee talking during the republican debates (watch here) i was very encouraged that there was someone who could articulate with clarity and sanity on the issue of evolution. since then, huckabee has emerged as one of the best communicators among the candidates and a surprise dark horse among the republican party. he's officially out of the race at this point.

i admit that i was wary of obama from the beginning. but watching the democratic debates has convinced me that obama is someone who is genuinely attempting to stop playing the washington game and bring a new direction to this country. (watch obama describe his response to questions about his weaknesses...) having ted kennedy and caroline kennedy come out in such strong terms endorsing obama's candidacy, the incredibly amount of independent and republican voters that have come to support his candidacy -- there is something that obama carries that is inspiring our nation.

but i feel stuck, because i feel like the abortion issue is absolutely critical to our country. millions of unborn being killed in the womb. at the same time, i am looking forward to seeing humility come into america's role in the international community, and an end come to the war in iraq. so which issues "win"? which one is ultimately is the one that defines which candidate we vote for?

and even more than that...which candidate has the best approach on the issues? even if say, obama and clinton agree the iraq war should end -- who has the best way of doing it?

so to me its not clear who to vote for -- and its more unclear who God would "endorse." (or if he even does that sort of a thing...)

the quote that starts this post comes from lou engle, founder of the call prayer movement and one of the generals leading the charge in overturning abortion in our nation. i have incredible respect for this man as spiritual mentor and someone who hears from God.

to me it captures my heart the more i follow the debates. in light of the abortion issues, the trickiness of immigration policies, etc --- God, put into office those who are righteous and just! those who are humble and wise and that fear God. i'm stuck on these issues and our nation is faced with so many issues, God, what is your heart?

so, i guess what i'm saying is that there are plenty of opinions to go around -- lots of people saying "vote obama" or "vote mccain," but not many people saying "pray and vote." we need to hear God's heart on these elections. is the church going to play the game of politics and pick the right or the left or are we going to go the third way? and if we decide to vote for a candidate, are we willing to call the candidate out in the ways that they fall short instead of blindly supporting them? i think heaven and the world is longing and yearning for a western church that rises up as a prophetic voice into a political process instead of one that is hijacked by either side of the political process.
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

- Matthew 5:13-16

collective gratitude

1. staff folks are back from catalina...
2. which means the fiance is back. i have missed her greatly.
3. fiance and wheaties rocked their studies as i had hoped and expected :).
4. a good friend has possibly found a special friend. i suspected it would happen soon, but i did not expect it to be THIS soon.
5. hanging out with jess & antony on tuesday night. it was good for my soul.
6. health. its a precious and fragile thing. i was filling out an application for insurance today and i skipped pages and pages of health history that i do not have. at some point i'll have to stop and read those questions, so despite feeling under the weather i'm grateful.
7. jz and dhoff being my work companions. the chat logs continue to grow. they keep my consumerist tendencies in check and i can nerd out with them :D
8. that God is good, He is present, and He is active in our lives.
9. gonna have a staff retreat next week that will be pivotal in what we focus on next and shape where i will work next :)
10. the beatles and dave clark five. haven't listened to that music in awhile... they made some wunderbarful moosic.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

ten recent missives of thanksgiving

1. we were able to get a killer deal for a new macbook pro.
2. God set up the deal right before the old computer puked.
3. we were able to save the data just fine.
4. God wants us to learn lessons in the small things so we can graduate to bigger things.
5. I'm finally getting a new driver's license picture, no more looking 16.
6. having a dog around to play with, even if our relationship is purely predicated on me having food for him. food whore.
7. we're going to have some sick suits for the groomsmen at the wedding. (hopefully)
8. God is present in the midst our daily lives.
9. wrestling with what it means to be a living sacrifice to God and how this is worked out in "loving our neighbor." short answer: it's hard and we need God's help!
10. 5 months and I'll be married! woot!
benson lee | sent via blackberry

Monday, February 25, 2008

cool things as of late

aka...ten things that i'm thankful for...
  1. the track i've been eyeing for awhile: belief (live) from the continuum special edition finally showing up on amazon mp3 download store. the only thing hotter than a john mayer album is a LIVE john mayer album. and the only thing hotter than a track being available on an itunes is a DRM-FREE track on amazon.com. C'MON.
  2. engagement is kind of the kingdom here but not yet. you've made the commitment and there are foretastes of what marriage is like, but the real thing is yet to come. its a good place to be but i sure am thankful that i'm getting married sooner or later. :)
  3. new usher tracks. r&b is BACK. i can't wait. movin' mountains. this second one is going to be one of the hottest tracks of 2008. i'm calling it now.
  4. a renewed sense of re-connection with God -- seeing more answered prayer "but most of all I love to hear the voice of God..." - the prophet song, delirious?
  5. getting work done on a monday. YES.
  6. dance as an expression of heart. inspired by watching youtubes of kaba modern from america's best dance crew. dangs.
  7. someone important to me finally getting a girlfriend. HALLELUJAH BOUT FREAKING TIME. sooooo thankful.
  8. coming to the realization that i love technology and how it can change lives...and realizing again that this love is God given. awaiting redeployment!
  9. jesus, justice and poverty. re-envisioned in what it means to love our neighbor. may the Church arise again and show what it means to love beyond fences, political boundaries, sexual orientation, and our preferences. none of this weaksauce convenient love.
  10. finding expensive tea at 40% off (w00t) and running errands with the fiance.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

return from oblivion...

okay not really, but its good that people are back :) ten things i've been thankful since i last wrote....

1. fun time cooking and chatting with the return of the gf!
2. peoples are back. didn't talk too much, but its an incredibly comforting just to have someone you know nearby.
3. late nights that are more productive than my day. just pounded out lingering todos. hiyah!
4. fun chats with jchan, dhoff, jz, and schen.
5. a clean desk. woot.
6. calling my grandfather in hk and wishing him a happy new year.
7. family.
8. my mac. i don't know why, but i'm realizing more than moving to mac made it fun to use the computer again. it reminds me of what i felt when i younger and felt like computers were amazing.
9. having a stocked fridge & clean kitchen. makes cooking so much easier and quite frankly -- not everyone has that luxury of having food.
10. coldstone with the gf :D

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

thankfulness today

1. solitude. "whoever can't live alone should beware of community." dietrich bonhoeffer
2. ipod touch in 32gb model and iphone in 16gb model :D steve jobs why do you torment me so?
3. candles
4. music that moves the soul - listening to the fray, rediscovering jennifer knapp & mat kearney, watching natasha bedingfield.
5. the warmth of the sun and taking a walk in said sun :)
6. spicy ramen noodles and pastrami. (separately, not together.)
7. just a word and moment of the divine changes everything.
8. random texts from my bro.
9. watching the superbowl, laughing and screaming along at the reality that goliaths can still fall. david ftw! :)
10. jamie giving a good word about the politics of jesus. are followers of jesus salt and light to the political process or are we part of the problem?
11. friends and community "whoever is not in community, let him beware solitude." dietrich bonhoeffer

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ten things i'm thankful for

  1. the beauty of season three of the office - oh how much you make me laugh
  2. roommates to laugh at the office with
  3. the enneagram kicking my butt (in a good way)
  4. panera bread: good blueberry muffin + free wifi = awesome.
  5. the frequency of rain this past week, and today’s sunny day
  6. audrey
  7. rebelling against my own indifference about elections
  8. steps of clarity for work
  9. laughing a lot today :)
  10. God manages uses people and situations for the good even when there is selfishness and mixed motives
  11. bonus: good conversations with ppls throughout the day. its good to be alive.