Advice On Loving the Homeless?

I need some advice from people that have spent time working with the poor and homeless, and the rich and cranky for that matter.

I took this job at Re-Planet recycling to get to know homeless people. It’s worked, and I can honestly say I have some good relationships with our regulars. However, I can’t help but notice the facts of the matter, that almost all the truly homeless people that I deal with, (which is not necessarily indicative of the problem as a whole) are addicts of one type or another.

Additionally, I get a lot of really rude people, these tend to come in all shapes, sizes and income levels.

Any advice when it comes to loving the homeless?

(I previously posted on this job here)


Got One in the Oven

Say a prayer for joey, cause this little booger is making her quite sick. Other than that were ecstatic!


I am Javert

So I got on the bus yesterday, but it didn’t go anywhere. Why? Because this quasi homeless guy was loading bag after bag of what was probably cans for recycling, (so he could have a few extra bucks to eat…or get drunk) and they weren’t just coming from the curb next to the bus. He was running across the street and through traffic, not once but twice, to get his stuff. Meanwhile, the entire bus just sat there waiting. What a jerk I thought. This guy is making me wait an additional 40 seconds, when he could have just waited for the next bus coming in 30 minutes.

Then Jesus, in the form of a women sitting in front of me, got up and helped the guy, and then chatted with him, showing genuine care and concern.

Jesus is an idiot.

Things ought to be done by the book. When you get on the bus, have your pay ready and sit down. What were these people thinking?

If the whole world were more like Javert from Les Miserables, the world would be a much better place.


Blogging the EC Class at Fuller

Kyle is blogging through his Emerging Church Class, which you can check out here. It's very good stuff. The class is being taught by Ryan Bolger and Eddie Gibbs, authors of a book called: Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures which I only mention cause I get $5 for every book puchased through this link.

...just kidding, you take me way too seriously.


It's Just a Story

The following story which I wrote, was published today in The Semi, Fuller's student newspaper.

Ben, an elder at his church, was running late for the Sunday mourning leadership prayer meeting. “As always” he thought. And today he would be later still because it was his turn to pick up doughnuts. Why, he didn’t know, it wasn’t like he could eat one. Ever since his father’s death last year, due to complications from diabetes, he had been trying to diet, though it didn’t seem to be working. Just yesterday the scale had read 219, and for someone only 5’ 8”, that was too much. Ben groaned as he pulled up to the doughnuts shop, “they smelled so good!”

Sitting in the prayer meeting, with his friends happily sipping coffee and eating doughnuts, neither of which he could have since no one had bothered to make decaffe, was not a good start to the day. Later, as the worship team sang “Just as I Am”, Ben couldn’t help but smirk, “too bad that’s not what the doctor said." The sermon was titled “The Temple”, during which Pastor Dave waxed eloquent about the evils of drugs, alcohol, pre-marital sex and tobacco, concluding with a strong exhortation to help others steer clear of evil. “So even it it’s ok for you to drink, don’t, because you may be causing your brother to stumble”, Pastor Dave said forcefully. But Ben hardly listened, the craving’s for a chocolate covered, cream filled, nut sprinkled, “long john” dominating his thoughts. After church, Ben joined his wife and friends at the local eatery.

“Great sermon Dave had this mourning, no?” asked Micah, taking a bite out of his double cheese burger.

“Definitely” responded Sherry. “I’m proud to say I’ve never done any of the ‘big ones’. No one has stumbled because of me…not that I’m perfect or anything,” she added, sipping on her third refill of Coke.

Ben sat quietly, eating his small salad. He hated salad, this one in particular since apparently it had been sitting in a fridge for about a week. He longed for the day when he could have eaten like his friends, but the images of his stricken father haunted him. The juxtaposition of the burger across the table and his father’s feeding tube made him sick…and angry. “Why is our family wired this way? Why did he have to go?” his subconscious mind ranted. But in the present he just continued to stare glumly at his salad, the one with the brown edges and no salad dressing.

After lunch, the family went shopping, but feeling depressed, from what he wasn’t sure, Ben headed home to “take a nap”. The sound of the car coming up the drive awoke him to his present position, in front of the television, watching basketball, eating out of the ice-cream container. “How the heck did this happen” he thought. “O’ well, its Sunday, a day of rest…from my diet, I’ll just run an extra 20 minutes at the gym tomorrow.”

But arising early for an extra 20 minutes at the gym was not to be. Sleep didn’t come, as images of his father mixed with cravings for ‘real food’. With these in the background he pondered the sermon, and their conversation over lunch. “Was something missing” he thought, “but what?” “Why doesn’t Pastor Dave ever teach on something relevant to me?” It wasn’t until after a ‘quick snack’, that Ben finally drifted off to sleep, the clock reading 1AM. On the other side of town, Sherry slept peacefully, knowing that she was not to blame for anyone “stumbling”. Though she wondered about Ben. “Didn’t he say he was going on a diet? Sure doesn’t look like it.”

At work the next day, there were two e-mails in Ben’s inbox. “Health Insurance Will Drop Obesity Coverage” read the first subject line. The second was from his supervisor. “Free Pizza Friday” it said.


Allan had a nice post and comment conversation here.

The post discuses the rule of life (not rules) for his community, the emergence of Emergent (capital E) as a quasi corporate movement, and the emerging churches relationship to Roman Catholicism.

Though it's a bit leangthy, I think it is really worth your time.


Blending Ontology and Praxis

Matthew 5:14-16
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 men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

In class yesterday we were talking about blending ontology and praxis. What does that mean?

(Side Point: That's exactly what I said yesterday. If your like me, click those links. This will make a lot more sense if you have a working defination of ontology and praxis lodged in you skull. That said, for a moment yesterday I thought we were about to have one of those ridiculous seminary conversations that has no relationship to reality. If you keep reading you can decide for yourself how relevant our conversation was. Of course this line of thinking presupposes that relevancy is a good thing, but alas, that's another conversation.)

It means that how we behave should flow out of who we are. And if we want to know who we are, we may want to check how we behave.

The passage above says “you are”, not “you believe” or “you do”.

Many churches have a list of beliefs which sit on one shelf (or are one link on their web site) and a list of ministries that sit on another shelf, and though the two may in some way be related, it's not entirely clear what that relationship is. Instead, I think (actually my prof who I am stealing this from thinks, and yes, that's right, I have nothing original to say ; ) ) that the two need to be intimately bound up together.

This critique goes two ways. Typical churches are what they believe, (i.e. a statement of faith) and that may or may not impact how they behave. Conversely, some are moving toward allowing what they do to define them, without thinking critically about what underpins that action. The two need to be blended. We are the light of the world, we don’t simply believe there is an objective light, and we don’t simply shine random lights around, hoping it's the right light.

You are the light of the world, not you believe, not you do, but you are.


Sweet Moment

Last night I was writing a paper on narrative approaches to justification and sanctification. It wasn’t going well, I had a lot of data wandering through my head, and it was not exactly coming together, at some points I wondered if I was going to have to scrap the whole paper.

Then all of a sudden it clicked, I knew what I wanted to say, and I couldn’t type fast enough. It was awesome!

Maybe not as special as going big in the half pipe on your snowboard for the first time, (anyone been watching the Olympics?) and definitely not as big as the girl you’ve been dreaming of asking out for a long time saying yes after you finally worked up the nerve to say something, but for academics, this was sweet.

So what’s in the paper? Well if you can get your head around God being outside of time, (and I can’t) it acts like something of a Rosetta Stone, opening up a world of possibilities, including sanctification and justification being a lot more closely aligned than some text books would have you believe.


Yah, you can definately buy "it" there.

So I'm writing this paper on narative approaches to justification and sanctification, and as part of my research, I google justification.

Try that out, go ahead, i'll wait for you... take a look at what's for sale in the right hand column. (click here)

Nice hugh... : ) ...got to love e-bay

p.s. I feel bad for linking to e-bay and google, so here are links to craigslist and wikipedia as well.


Theirs is the Kingdom

“Christmas again. Damn!” His words are barely audible, but his wife knows the feeling well. She sees the hurt come into his eyes when the kids come home from school, talking about what they want for Christmas.

She knows this year will be no different than the last. All her husband's hustle, his day labor jobs, his pick-up work will not be enough to put presents under the tree. They will do well to keep the heat on. His confident promising deceptions allow the children the luxury of their dreams a while longer. She will cover for him again because she knows he is a good man. His lies are his wishes, his flawed attempts to let his children know what the older one’s know but never admit: the gifts are not from daddy.

He will not go with her to stand in the free toy lines with all the others. He cannot bring himself to do it. It is too stark a reminder of his own impotence. And if their home is blessed with a visit from a Christian family bearing food and beautifully wrapped presents, he will stay in the bedroom until they are gone. His joy for the children will be genuine, but so will the ache in his stomach as his image of himself as a provider is dealt another death blow.

As I read this and a dozen other stories this morning, from a book called Theirs is the Kingdom by Robert Lupton, tears welled up in my eyes. I don’t know why this morning was any different. I see this stuff on the street and at the recycling center every day; but today, the Holy Spirit broke through me, breaking my heart in spite of me.

Here is another one.

I hit the button on my alarm at 6am, the whistling in the windows telling me it was another cold January day. The thermostat was slightly high making it difficult to sleep, too warm with two blankets, too cold with one. No matter now, the hot steamy shower woke me up.

At 6:29 I was out the door bundled in coat and scarf. As I opened the door to my car, my heart froze. A man sat behind the wheel. I reacted instantly, raising my fist to catch him off guard before he responded to me. He slowly turned to meet my angry face.

“What are you doing in my car!” I blurted out, my fist still clenched.

“I’m not in your car, sir,” the man slurred in a frightened, thick-tongued voice. “I’m not in your car, sir” he muttered again as he slowly maneuvered his body out of my car, and teetered across the front lawn.

It wasn’t until five minutes later, driving down the street that it hit me. I remembered my thoughts in the hot shower about the thermostat keeping me awake. There were worse things than sleeping too warm. I remembered how good it felt to shave and slip into nicely pressed clothes, and I rememberd how frightened and violated I felt, that a stranger had intruded where he had no right to be.

Why? Why should it be, I wondered, that I am so concerned about sleeping too warm, when another human being, equally loved by their creator, barely survives in a cold car outside my house.

The Christ, the despised one, spoke deeply on my spirit. It was the voice of one who himself had no place to lay his head. I began to weep. I remembered my clenched fist, and my compassionless expulsion of this stranger from my life. I cried in sorrow for a broken man who I had sent off into the cold. And I sorrowed for the one whose heart is not yet sufficiently broken.

“I am sorry, Lord, for turning you into the cold. Thank you for using my car.


Ancient Mystery Cults

Following is part of my review of a book entitled Ancient Mystery Cults by Walter Burkert, which I did for my Church in the NT class. I'm turning it in today, so I have no idea how good it is, but it's an example of what I'm up to today. If you haven't noticed, I really like this class, and I would highly recomend Beaton. (Beaton, if you read this, I expect extra credit.)

(what is an ancient mystery cult? click here)

The third charge, that the cults represent a change in religious attitudes, requires a slightly more nuanced refutation. The charge largely stems from the idea that Christianity is simply the most successful of the ancient mystery cults. If this is so, then the shift to what we are experiencing today would have happened with the advent of the mystery cults. However, by painstakingly giving us an intimate glimpse at the reasoning and habits of the cultic worshipers, we can see that the likes of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are profoundly different than the cults. The lack of systematic theology, the lack of trans-national unity, and the secretive ways of these religions, show that they have little in common with Christianity, and other global religions. This, together with the proofs of an origin at a later date than was originally thought, show that the true shift in religious attitudes came with the Christianization of the Roman Empire, not with the advance of various mystery cults.

Church in the NT - Notes

So I was reviewing my notes from my Church in the New Testiment class with Richard Beaton. Below are some of the bigger points, and questions we are asking.

How did their understanding of themselves change as their size changed, 20-100-1000-10,000? (this is synonymous with time, 32 A.D. to 100 A.D.)

On any number of subjects there is more than one model in the NT. What does that say to us?

Why do we follow the NT examples, and if so, which one?

Up until 40 B.C. they did not consider themselves Christians, they were Jewish followers of the Messiah.

Did Jesus intend to found a new communal entity separate from Judaism?

When you say, "we had a 'word of knowledge' this morning," how do you know that what you are experiencing is the same experience that they had?

The message of the Bible is not: Jesus died for you so you can go to heaven, it is: the story of God reconciling the world to him.



Does the word 'inerrant' get you going (in either direction)? If so, you may like my dialog with Oliver on his post, God Inspired the Bible.

When I read, "To my knowledge, there has not yet been a concrete discovery of error within the Scriptures. Many of the arguments against the Bible are based on loose assumptions only and are usually made by someone who really hasn't studied or interpreted them correctly", I just couldn't let it go.

But at the end of our chat, I felt kind of bad about my attitude and tone, (which I told him.) I kind of ambushed him. Obviously, I have a lot to learn, much of which they don't teach at seminary.

If you like the word inerrant, I really sugest you check our our conversation.


You Go Steph!

Last night I went and saw a friend of mine, Stephani Savage, do a show at a Hollywood club.

What's cool is that I know her husband Ben pretty well, so when I listen to the songs I know a bit of the background, and impetus for their creation. Don't worry Steph, I don't know the whole story. ; )

You can listen to her music here, and let me tell you now, look out, she could go big time, anytime.

God bless Stephani, and all who listen to her.

: )


Emerging History

So apparently, the emerging church conversation has been around long enough to be looked at historically. I suppose I knew this, but I didn't really know what that history was. Click here to for Andrew’s take on the history, as well as excellant definations of both the word "emergent" and "missional".

I personally am more commited to the concept of missional than to emerging, but frankly I find the emerging paradigm most condusive to what I want in a church; and afterall, when it comes to picking a church, it is all about me isen't it. ; )


Stupid Proof-Texting

You know those bible studies where they say, "according to John 3:16, how does God feel about you?" Or, "according to Romans 10:9, how is one to be saved?"

Well I can't stand that, why?

Go here.

You like that? I do, it points out our inconsistancies. It shows us for how we appear, and how we may just really be.

I know proof-texting is necessary at times, (I do it myself) and I know it eases communication, (which is why I do it) but obviously which verses are of supreme importance is incredably subjective, and dare I say, fallable, as in, not innerant...but allas that is a whole other subject.

Signs of Hope LA (4)

So a few reflections on my time at Signs of Hope LA are in order. It was good, mixed the theological and philosophical with the practical quite well, and was rather up-lifting.

On Sat. we visited three non-profits, each of which were radically different. The first was a Catholic Workers kitchen. The group lives in what amounts to a monastic community, living, working and playing together. Their basic needs are met by the community, and they are given $15/week for discretionary spending…wow. They completely live their life for the benefit of the homeless.

The second was a community theater group called Cornerstone, which does thought provoking, conversation starting plays among groups that would not otherwise talk. They were not a Christian group as such, but I loved what they were doing. I think I would really like to be a part of something like that at some point.

The last was an evangelical church called Church of the Nazerene, and their sister organization Centeral City Community Outreach, located in ‘skid row’, the area of the city specifically zoned for the homeless, (it is legal to live on the street there.) Again, wow, they were amazing. Most people that choose to live in or near skid row to ‘do ministry’ leave within a year, the man we are talking to has been there 15 years, beginning in his early 20’s no less…amazing.

To know what I really learned, we would have to have a conversation centering on one of the three site visits, or the bullet statements I put up in Signs of Hope (3). But you get the idea just reading the statements and descriptions.

Don’t have much else to say, on a scale of 1-10 I would give it a 6, though if you came to it burned out, you probably would have gotten a better impression, it was very up lifting.