Sunday, February 27, 2011

Jesus is repulsive

Please allow me to lay down the groundwork.

Repulsive: The opposite of attractive. I am not talking about beauty vs. ugly or aromatic vs. stinky. I am speaking of the relationship objects have that cause other objects to either draw closer, or go in the opposite direction.

So Jesus is talking to some folks about the kingdon of God and lays down a story about a farmer who seems to have thrown seeds all over the place, willy nilly. Some seeds sprouted, some didn't. Some lasted a long time, and some were choked out by the weeds or roasted by the sun.

Imagine being in the audience... no Q&A? no covered dish luncheon to meet the preacher and follow up? Nope. Like his modern day counterparts, Jesus leaves the stage into the company of his entourage. Of course his party of 12 gather round him and say, "Seriously? What was that all about?" (ok, my paraphrase- but check out Mark 4:1-12 for yourselves)

Jesus said that he speaks in parables so that people will see but not perceive, hear but not understand, otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.

*record scratch* *screech*

Wait, what?!?

Does Jesus really intend for his message to be so confusing that it actually prevents people from being saved? Is he repulsing them?

I thought Jesus was supposed to be seeker-friendly... you know, with an awesome band, graphic-tee, hip quaff, and great programs that make people feel good about themselves.

David Platt wrote about this in his book "Radical" (published by Multnomah) in the first chapter (read it for yourself- it is about Luke 9)

Ok, so Jesus is repulsive... No, that's not it.

Jesus isn't repulsive, his teaching is repulsive.

So if his teaching is repulsive, who followed him? I found 3 groups of people who followed him; let's take a look:

  1. Sick People. Wanting to be healed, throngs of people travelled from all over in order to receive miraculous healing. Did they follow Jesus or did they just want to be healed? Did they stick around afterwards?
  2. Rulers. Religious leaders, interpreters of the law. Churchy big-wigs. They followed Jesus to keep watch. They were proctecting themselves and their routines from any potential shake-up. They stood ready to discount anything Jesus did and said.
  3. Apostles. or disciples...students. These followers gave up everything to follow Jesus- family, friends, jobs... They had complete faith/trust in him. (don't split hairs here, hang with me)

Of the many, where did they go after Jesus sent them away? How were their lives changed?

Did the encounter become a story about a man who showed up, performed a magic trick, then left?

Or did the encounter change everything for you?

Jesus keeps giving me reasons not to follow him and I belive there is too much at stake. There is no other choice for me. I am willing to give up everything in order to buy an empty field.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

What if I missed it? by John Vogel

I view life as something like a play that is loosely scripted by God. Of course the major plot will not be altered, but the ancillarry stories provide the actors the opportunity for improv.

God is an amazing playwrite and director.
I am proud to be an actor.

So what of the improv?

I interprets God's direction to be that of love within a community. I have witnessed fellow actors act upon the director's gentle suggestions and the beauty revealed through the flawless performance. I have also witnessed poor performers who missed lines, misinterpreted intent, and caused the audience to lose interest.

With all the love, gifts, attention, grace, mercy, that I have received over the years, I thank my fellow actors. You have made my story a joy to be in and to witness, both.

For those times, numerous I am sure, when I missed my lines, had concern for only myself, and even ignored the storyline out of jealosy, envy, anger, and the like; I am truly sorry.

Every day I rise to greet the miracle and purpose God gave me and I hope to never take a moment for granted.

After all, what if you are supposed to receive a gift that could impact your story in an amazing way and I failed to deliver?

There is too much on the line- God is counting on us.

Let love rule.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Pineapple Day

Even though the idea grew in my brain decades ago, it wasn't until 5 years ago, whilst (yes, I said whilst) reflecting on the Christmas season that had passed, the piles of wrapping paper and cardboard dumped at the end of driveways, and the underwhelming feeling of charity in the air, that I sent an email to everyone I knew.

I sat and wondered just what it was all for. Were we celebrating the deliverance of the long awaited Messiah? Or were we simply succumbing to the economic behemoth of a capitalistic holiday?

I have a difficult time articulating my feelings, so after much deliberation I decided to send a short email that summed up the "Christmas Spirit" for me. The act of sending the e-mail served it's purpose as a cathartic outlet for me, but quickly served as an awakening to many who received it. I heard stories of joy, warmth, love, kindness, etc. I hope that I hear many stories in the years to come.

I smile when realizing that the pineapple has become the unofficial mascot for our family.

With love, here is the original e-mail....

What does a Pineapple mean to you?

I remember the story my Mother would tell us about the not-so-good times when my brothers and I were young, and money was not as abundant as it is now. She would tell us that, sometimes, a bit extra would be available, so she would 'splurge' by buying a pineapple. A succulent treat that many of us might take for granted.

Will you consider a simple challenge from me?

Will you buy a pineapple this month and give it away? If you can't afford one, let me know. God has blessed my family enough to buy one for you.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why I "Dislike" Halloween....

And it's not about religion folks.....

A) My kid has diabetes. I realize that not ALL kids have diabetes, and he IS allowed to eat SOME candy, but what ends up happening is he goes into this "candy frenzy" (as do most other children) and gets all OCD about it--- and it becomes literally a matter of life or death.

B) The instance of child-hood diabetes is on the rise. (Source)
C) The instance of child-hood obesity is on the rise. (Source)

D) Americans in general are
fat and we gorge ourselves on candy (do you KNOW how many bags of candy corn I've eaten?? A lot!) and then we get all depressed about our jeans being tight; but we continually still feed into the lie that we need more candy (money, alcohol, etc.) to make us feel good. In fact, anything that makes us feel good (including food) becomes an idol to us (and reinforces this to our children).

E) Eating too much candy makes kids crazy. (Source - my own house). It makes moms fat.... yet we are compelled to sneak it out of our kid's treat bags in large quantities year after year.

F) Americans need to get a grip and stop being naive about marketing tactics from those companies who are trying to make us eat more and spend more on things we don't need (like candy- which is bad for our health and our teeth) And when eaten in excess, as we generally do (okay, I know that moderation is fine and some people are great at it, but the majority are not), we are suckered into the gravity-pull of American consumerism and gluttony.

G) Halloween/Harvest parties - Let's just go to a halloween, harvest, or whatever party (even at our churches) and stuff our faces with all kinds of goodies and treats and send our kids (even teens) home with buckets of candy - so then our teenage daughter needs therapy because she has weight issues and hates herself because her jeans don't fit. Do we get this people? Why are we surprised when children struggle with self-image and eating disorders such as Bulemia? Okay, so don't flame me, I'm no expert, but
my opinion is that society tells us to look one way and eat another way - that totally contradict one another.... and then we wonder why we have these problems.

H) For the $35 I will spend on buying candy for trick or treaters in my neighborhood (I live in a middle-class subdivision that sees a fair share of Halloween traffic) I could
sponsor a child to receive food, clothing, healthcare, and education for a whole month! (And I'm not even talking about costumes, just the price of candy).

So, in short and in my honest opinion, Halloween reinforces gluttony in our children, gets them to buy in to the lie that "stuff" (like candy) can make you happy, and is some sort of "right" or "material reward". This only adds to the deception and problems within American society and culture where we feel that we are "owed" something or "deserve" something (which isn't necessary) in order to draw our self-worth.

Will we participate in Halloween this year? Hmm.... probably. Why? Because everyone else is doing it?

But it makes me think. And it makes me ask myself if allowing my children to participate in this event is only perpetuating a life of self-gratification, rather than living a life of serving others, as the Gospel of Jesus calls us to do.

On second thought, maybe we won't participate after all......

Friday, October 22, 2010

More than Blessed - a Kidney donation update!

It was a week yesterday since the kidney donation ---- wow! John spent four days in the hospital; so he was discharged on Monday - which was a day longer than we expected since his intestines weren't cooperating, but I am happy to report that they are working now! He is still uncomfortable but getting up to walk around, play X-box, and check his email, then back to the couch :-) He has not had any narcotic meds. since Tuesday morning because they were making him feel yucky. His incisions are healing nicely. So, he's been walking through with extra-strength tylenol. He still is on a soft diet and he's getting a little tired of soup, but he's feeling better every day! He goes back to the surgeon on Nov. 1st. He's hoping that the doc will say that he can go back to driving. I think he'll be quite bored by then! If all goes well, he will be cleared to go back to work in mid-November.

Robbie is also doing well! He went to the doc's today and they said he was doing better than the usual patient. God is so good! His surgery was actually less invasive (as far as moving organs around) than John's, so as far as physical pain goes, he is better off than John. When they did the surgery to give him his new kidney, they just popped it right in front, slightly under his pelvic bone, connected it, then sewed it back up. Amazing. Robbie's biggest hurdles are staying healthy and weaning down on all the meds they've been giving him. They had to suppress his immune system during surgery and for the first 24 hours after, to keep it from fighting the new kidney. They also had him on prednisone and anti-rejection meds at high doses. So, he has to get his blood drawn a few times a week for the next month as they slowly taper off the steroids and his immune system starts building back up. Robbie said yesterday that he drank a glass of milk for the first time since March! Apparently milk is high in phosphorous and you can't drink it if your kidney is not working, even if you're on dialysis. The little things we take for granted......... On a funny note, my hubby John's family is Jewish, so we've enjoyed teasing Robbie about craving kosher dills and matzoh ball soup. :-)

Even through the (my) worries and stress, God has been so faithful to us and really shown Himself in mighty ways and used so many of us to bring glory to Himself. Many people that we've come into contact with on this journey have been blown away and very touched by the outpouring of love and prayers from our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. A church in Canby, Oregon sent us 91 hand-written prayer cards.... offering their love and prayers for both of our families .... and most had never even met us! We kept them with us at the hospital as a visual reminder and through them lives were touched by the Body of Christ and their love for us and unity in Christ's name. It was also great to be visited and prayed for by long-time Godly friends who sat with Susan and I during the surgeries. What a great privilege we've been given..... to give Glory, and Honor and Praise to the Great Physician!

God is also providing for us financially and "random" donations keep coming in "Oh Kirsten, of little faith!!"
Thank you all for being part of this story and HIStory. We are so grateful for each and every one of you. Please continue to pray that John's incisions heal nicely and without infection and that his pain is less and less every day. Pray that Robbie's strength increases every day and that he is able to come off of all of his meds. Continue to believe with us that God will provide financially for both of our families.

If you can help our households run smoothly while the guys are out of work, please visit this SITE.