Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Not Just A Song from High School Musical


Continuing my previous thought... Neighborology, defined by Director of World Vision Bryant Myers, is the concept that people need people > people need to be feed good theology (important truths though), ideas, and institutions. We should preach the story of the gospel always, but occasionally use words.

Beyond the Walls

My dear friend Erik asked me a question the other night that I have been chewing on and I cannot help but fixate on as a I walk between classes, run between thoughts, or stare aimlessly at the beautiful ocean. This question derived from one biggest most ambiguous questions all questions ask at some point... and I continue to further explore the idea of the body of Christ, especially analyzing what the future of the Church may be if transformation and development of the kingdom of Christ do not occur simultaneously. The church is a convergence of stories. A place where we bring our personal story, the community’s story, and the Biblical, the story of God at work in history, together. Without the existence of the Church, God still works within the individual and the community, but His story is being hidden or only partially recognized. As we quest for transformational development of the Church, as I would like to put it changing people from bounded by walls to boundless by love, requires the Church body to clarify what is important. Questions that arise would probably be on the lines of what is an abundant life? What is the community for? What vision will lead the community members towards becoming who they truly are? What claims does God make on the community? As the Biblical narrative as the reference point to these complex ideologies, they point to a lucid answer- the unshakable kingdom and the unchanging person are better future and the means to it, and everyone is invited to move. The Kingdom of God is the future that has already invaded history and is growing in the present. This idea of the kingdom vision for a better human future can be summarized into one word- shalom- just, peace, harmonious relationships with each other, ourselves, our environment, and our God. In the Israel’s story we observe the striving for shalom equivalent to the New Testament idea of an abundant life. An abundant life is about living, not simply having. An Abundant life means no limits to love, no limits to justice, no limits to peace. Anything is for life, that enhances life, or celebrates life points towards the Kingdom. The key to moving toward this better future with shalom and abundant life is the discovery that the community’s story and our personal story can in fact come part of this larger story of God’s redemptive work in the work. Getting to a sustainable future requires becoming part of the plan God has already declared. This vision for transformation of the Church’s body is equally interested din being as well as doing. Knowing who we truly are and pursuing our true vocation, not just more things or more knowledge. The vision of the best human future is not modernity’s story of inevitable human progress or the relativistic pluralism of post-modernity.

Continuing this thought…Spiritual sustainability is slightly contradictory. The community needs to believe is not solely dependent on the Church as a vending machine or being spiritual nourished through Wednesday bible studies and Sunday sermons. Yet the body must also believe passionately that is dependent on God. No one is independent; we are all dependent on God. For Christians, being concerned with and playing a role in the spiritual warfare of the community sometimes means surrendering a priveledged place in the community and working ALONGSIDE people who believe differently. If our story is the true human story and if our God is the true God, then we need to become servants of all others and in faith believe that God is able to take care of himself. Recent research by two Canadian studied church growth in the sense of word, numbers, depth, and social influenece. These churches rate highly in “soul care” and “social care”. Soul care is the development of personal faith, personal devotional life, day to day application of the faith and commitment to the Truth of the word. Social care is community services, importance of social action, helping the poor, and correcting injustices in society. Erego, the church has a difficult time realizing that its role might not be so much Christians gathered, although it is this too, as much as it is the place where Christians gather to learn and are challenged to live the WHOLE gospel in the fullness of the life in the larger community.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's In A Name?

According to Jung's Typology, Myers/Briggs is the pc name for the personality test, I am not a thinker. But after flying through 9 journals in four years, I'd like to think I am a little more pensive than Mr. Briggs and Mr. Myers give me credit for. With that said, I spent a lot of time trying to be innovative and create a catchy blog site. Because as children of the crazed marketing and advertising generation, we all recognize the importance of branding. The four principles for creating a brand are the following:
it's simple
its associated with positive qualities
it's unique and unable to confess with another product
the vision of the company is voiced

I may not be some corporate organization or ngo eradicating world hunger, clothing the poor, or sheltering the homeless with the need for an organizational mission statement. I am just one girl. One girl whose eyes are fixed on a vision. A vision to share the intrinsic values of love, peace, grace, and HOPE. Along the way, I know that my story will be shaped by the convergence of others and as I begin to understand the importance of living in a relational world, the world will become more rich, more vibrant, and more alive.

I have never loved someone fully. I have never let myself truly leap. I have always kept one foot on the ground, which leads to being lost and deceitfully listening to the music in my head- instead of my heart. But this year has been marked with learning how to balance the intuitions and adventurous spirit of my heart and thoughtfully mapping out the consequences and possible results of taking some risks. Which has lead me to the beginning of this new adventure...not only the pursuing and attempting to understand the blogging life, but more realistically, life AFTER college. The past two years there has been this swell growing in me. A swell to live the uncovential life, to spit in the face of the prescribed life. To pack my bags and follow my feet where they wander. To experience culture and beauty beyond what my glazed eyes currently see. To give up the "corporate ladder" and to live a life dedicated to social activism and global awareness. To educate and be educated.

Hence the URL name...giving up green. Our generation is becoming obsessed with living naturally and loving the environment. It's become trendy to drink from steel water bottles, wear TOMS shoes, and recycle. Instead of competing for the most, we compete to be the most green friendly. But often times our green efforts in the short run, create long run environmental disasters. At what point do we sacrifice one resource for another?

It's a learning game. If life is really is about love and it's all you need, then I can trade in the green I'd make from some corporate position slaving 80+ hours a week for the transcontinental relationships I can create . A boss once told me that at a young age he stood between two roads: one that would create a future/bring great success. The second road would create thriving, flourishing relationships with family and close friends...He choose the former. I choose the latter. I choose to GIVE UP THE GREEN. I choose to give my heart for the mission to go, the mission to love, and the mission to engage my mind to serve....

P dot S I completely agree with living for the environment. I love the trees. I love the animals. I love the air I breathe. But, I do not like the way money destroys relationships and how that type of green can cause so much brokenness and feelings of failure in our American society. Below is a great guide I came across to living environmentally green. Check it out.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My heart beats for them...

Two years ago I got bit HARD by the travel bug. I tasted culture, experienced history, and the world became full of vibrance. My eyes were open to life beyond my comfort zone and if nothing more my study abroad experience is full of memories, laughs, and tears that I will cling to the rest of my life. Traveling through Europe, very developed countries, was quenching for my free spirit, but many aspects were familiar to my north american lifestyle- technology, emphasis on family, healthy lifestyle, love for the arts... Last summer, I got travel bug NUMBER TWO. But this time, this time was different. Instead of this spirit of adventure, freedom, and excitement flowing through my body and thriving off the unknown world before me, this bug was a deeper, relational concern and care for the people of the culture, rather than just the land. This place that captured my heart was and is Thailand. It was through my observations and conversations with Thai and tribal people that my heart began to beat for the restoration, reconciliation, and sustainable development of these households, communities, and country. Every part of me wanted to give them a future, only to realize that development work is more than just "hand outs"...

Sometimes I am consumed with the idea that development is about the material world and I ignore the spiritual process that is dwelling, restoring, and creating as well. God is working in the now, in the concrete world of space and time. In the past few years, my theology and understanding of God has been stripped from its previous legalistic view of God and I have learned the loving, gracious, and intentionality of His Spirit. Here is what I know to be true, God is the creator of the earth, Christ holds this all together, and the Holy Spirit is the tangible existence of His work. God is interested in the transformational development and the converging story of our communities with His, as it has been since the beginning of time. The modern world has many stories competing for humanities attention. Science claims to understand how the universe works and promises power to master nature. But it remains silent however when asked to provide answers to how the world began, when it will end, and morality. Technology only offers convenience, efficiency, and prosperity. Capitalism places the negative characteristics of the human spirit central to our lives and our desire to be flourishing communities often dissipates. None of these can transform our communities and nations into the just and loving Kingdom God desires- Only He can bring that Kingdom. Modernity has failed to create a story line, and it has no storyteller. The Bible is the narrative of God’s creative and redemptive works in the world. It’s God’s story about what He’s continuing to do. The Biblical story also outs our stories in place by giving us meaning. To pursue human transformations, we must understand where humanity came from, where it is going, and how we can there. For this reason, we must be both Christian (being) and do Christian work (doing) for transformational development to be acting out who we truly are- a balance between being and doing. Development cannot be reduced to simply empowering people with new choices and freedom to decide, but it must reflect God’s relational essence. The process of restoration must be motivated by profound, self-giving loves as it has been modeled to us by Jesus. As Christians, we can’t view the world as a collection of individuals. We need to understand their individual needs, but also understand their relation and embedded- ness in families, communities, and a part of social institutions. We are meant to be in loving, self-giving relationships and be stewards, participating in the continuing process of creation. We are to make contributions that add value. From the creation account in Genesis, we as Christian developers can learn four ethical principles- sharing resources, responsibility to work, expectations of growth, and shared produce. The story of creation does more than explain how and why humans were created, but provides a common foundation for all the beautiful and unique enterprises we call culture…

Being a Risk taker

I've never been one for sitting at a computer. In the past four years, I have changed my career focus over five times just to avoid ever being stuck in the front of technology, because to put it simply, we don't mix. Without sounding like my father, I remember the simplicity of the days before the 3 point check was created (cell phone, ipod, and car keys). But now, from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I lay my head down for sleep, there is rarely a ten minute block of time where modernity doesn't intersect my life.

But, I find myself desirng to share my experiences and life through my eyes with those around me. Mentorship and the wisdom from others is greater than our own learning curve...listening and patience triumphs over blindly acting, majority of the time. I forget to listen with my head and act with my heart. The heart isn't just a throbbing mass of muscle, it's actually quite a sensitive instrument that is processing critical information. With every beat of the heart intricate messages are being sent to the brain and other bodily systems. In fact, these messages are being received by every cell in our body. Our ability to hear and act on the information being sent from the heart, can make the difference in whether we experience life as a series of stressful events or one that's rich in quality. The heart provides information that can help us eliminate the mental and emotional drain caused by confusion, stress, overwhelm, anxiety and frustration….research recently conducted by Heart Math, a nonprofit research organization, has made a breakthrough discovery in understanding the heart's intelligence, something they coin as “heart intelligence”....