Tuesday, November 29, 2005

God's Politics?

Before I get carried away here, let me be clear, I am a capitalist. I am. As are 99.9% (totally made up statistic) of the people in the West who “hate capitalism”. Hemp clothes and necklaces be damned! You guys are capitalists too! “Not having a good job” doesn’t mean you’re not a capitalist because mooching off your capitalist parents and friends is capitalism too. So please don’t add this post to the ever increasing “thoughts on capitalism” editorials floating around out there by people who are dependant on capitalism. I’m a capitalist whether I think it’s a Christian value or not.

All I’m simply trying to point out is that the church in the West, and especially in the States, have found people “to tell them what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3). And in this case, we (the church) have embraced capitalism as, not only an American value, but also a Christian one. But it’s not. And those of you who come with the “God helps those who help themselves” quote need to know that you’re quoting John Smith, not the Bible.

Some will accuse me of becoming anti-American or liberal as a result of moving to Europe. Nothing could be further from the truth. I still absolutely adore America and still think liberals are as closed-minded as conservatives are. Just as moving from one denomination to another gave me the opportunity to give some honest thought to my former church’s doctrine, so moving outside of America has given me opportunity to consider just how Christian my politics are. And so, two years later, I find myself questioning much about the American church’s politics. Over the next few months I’ll be posting some of those questions in posts I’ll title “God’s Politics?” Here’s my first question.

Has the abortion issue been the easy way out for the church? I mean, standing against abortion is important, but it involves very little, if any, responsibility on the part of the church or Christian. At most we vote Republican and maybe even write our Congressman, but once a woman actually decides not to have an abortion, the responsibility is on them. In fact, we’ll even be happy to condemn that same woman for having too many babies and sucking the welfare system dry. Children die by the millions of malnutrition and easily curable things like diarrhea every year yet I don’t see the church standing up to do something about that. Could that be because those things would take our money, time and work rather than just our vote?

Monday, November 28, 2005

all geeked out

If you’ve begun to lose your mind over this whole blogging thing, and you find yourself in front of your computer constantly hitting refresh to see if anybody has commented on your latest post, here is yet another way to feed your addiction.

It’s called Blogshares and it’s like a fictional stock market using blogs as industries. The more traffic a blog has, the more it’s worth on the blogshares market. You can, quite literally, buy shares in your own and your friend’s blogs. In fact, you even start out owning 1000 shares in your own blog.

It’s absolutely ridiculous and something else I didn’t need to know existed.

By the way, my blog's shares are up to $1.37 a share.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Christ's teachings or ours?

I was reading through Moby’s blog, as you do, and came across the following quote

Would it ever be asking too much for a Christian place of worship to actually be centered on the teachings of Christ and not on the seemingly arbitrary(and, let's point out, secular) positions of the clergy and the religious hierarchy/beaurocracy?-moby

Tough stuff, but not untrue. Lately I’ve been wondering how in the world capitalism ever became a Christian value?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

the kid in the middle

The kid in the middle showed up at our club last week and we all instantly took to the guy. He’s a good foot shorter than everybody else his age, a little stocky, and completely hilarious. After a day of hanging out and laughing with him, it didn’t surprise us one bit when he put on that jacket. He’s the only kid I know who could pull it off.

We did a little survey this week and found out that the following countries and languages are represented in our after school clubs:

Countries: Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Jamaica, Sudan, Zambia, England, Barbados, Congo, Mauritius, Albania, Greece, Jamaica, Spain, Cyprus, Vietnam, Somalia, Greek Cypriot, Pakistan, Yemen, Turkey, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Poland

Languages: Bengali, French, English, Mauritian, Albanian, Turkish, Greek, Spanish, Azeri, Russian, Arabic, Zambian, Swahili, French, Congolese, Vietnamese, Somalian, Urdu, Nigala, Cantonese, and Polish.

fruitful errors

"C'mon", this owner thought, "who in the world is going to know the difference between Tennessee and Kentucky around here?"

Come to think of it, what IS the difference between Tennessee and Kentucky???

A guy named Ben Jackson, who is studying youth ministry in our division this year, maintains a blog called Guerilla Christianity. Check out his latest post called The latest in a long string of fruitful errors. More thoughts on the Sunday morning gig.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

london youth ministry

Some of the best youth ministers in the world! These are some of the youth ministers from the London Central division. A great group to work with and some truly good friends.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

rebel or reformer?

About three years ago a friend asked me a question that would end up changing my life and the direction of my ministry. After a long day of watching me battle it out with the TSA powers that be, she walked up to me during a coffee break and simply asked me if I was “a rebel or a reformer?”. I asked her what the difference was and quickly realized that I was not of the mindset to take in what she was saying to me. So I asked her to write it in an email.

The following (written in Blue) is the email that she sent me. Keep in mind that this is somebody who struggled with the difference between a rebel and a reformer herself. I think that a lot of the people who read this blog walk a very thin line between a rebel and a reformer. For me, it’s not enough to reform The Salvation Army. I want to reform the entire church. But I think that I easily, and often, stray onto the path of a rebel. In that case I have absolutely no long term affect and serve only to add ammunition to the argument that “things are fine just the way they are”.

Here are her thoughts…

1. Impulsive
2. Thinks short term
3. Destroys relationships
4. Pessimistic
5. Soft skin-tough heart
6. Can’t separate the “fight” from personal faith (ouch)
7. Damages personal relationship with the Lord
8. The “fight” becomes the mission (double ouch)
9. Reactive

1. Thinks consequences. Does nothing that will damage the overall cause
2. Thinks long term
3. Builds relationships. Realizes that victory comes through relationships. Does not isolate him/herself.
4. Optimistic. Sees the victory at the end – not the current circumstances – rises above!
5. Soft heart-tough skin. Is still moved by the Holy Spirit, but skin is tough to others comments, etc.
6. Separates the “fight” from personal faith. Personal walk continues to grow even though the fight is hard. Is not swayed.
7. Deepens personal relationship with the Lord
8. Fights for the mission. Keeps the overall focus (target) in mind.
9. Proactive. Tries to work on step ahead. Never lags behind!

In think that many times REFORMERS who are passionate, and driven by conviction, turn out to be rebels simply because they just don't do what the REFORMER column says, so they become hard and are then perceived as rebels. I know how easy it has been for my husband and I to harden our hearts and be hurt (soft skins) by other people instead of keeping the focus and allowing God to toughen our skin and still have hearts that are soft and receptive.

Well, this is what I have for now. As God gives more, I'll pass it on but just look at Jesus' life....he was the model reformer, wasn't he? Other reformers also portray many of the above qualities. I pray that God will use me as a reformer in this Army and that I will not just be remembered as some rebel who fought for the sake of fighting!!!

This is an email that I go back and read on a regular basis. I don't know about you, but I too often find myself only lining up with the first column. I hope you too will consider whether you're helping to reform or are just going to end up being one of those "guys", void of wisdom, who fought "just for the sake of fighting".

This photo captures yet another name brand rip off. I originally thought that MFC stood for “Mother Effing Chicken”, but then figured out that it stands for “Mississippi Fried Chicken” which, as you will know, is an entirely different brand of chicken than the Kentucky variety. For one thing, it’s halal!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

God in a triangle

I was asked to teach on the Trinity last Spring at a conference over here called ROOTS. I agreed, kicking and screaming. I studied for six months to teach on the Trinity. It was the hardest study I’ve ever taught. In the end my prayer life had changed, I knew a great deal more about church history, and my understanding of the Trinity hadn’t budged an inch. I guess the Trinity is just one of those things you have to accept. And in a way, it makes sense that if God is truly God, he wouldn’t be one dimensional like us.

I’ve been thinking about it again lately. Does anybody else find it a bit human that we’ve narrowed God down to these three things? Wouldn’t it be funny if we got to heaven one day, God took a look at our Trinity doctrine, chuckled, patted us on the head and said, “Three in one? Try three-million in one.”

Just like us to put God in a box or, in this case, a triangle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

father abraham

I found out yesterday that, along with a few Christian families, and a whole lot of Muslim families, we now have both Hindu and Buddhist families as part of our work here in Tottenham. I have to tell you that I feel differently about these families than I do about our Muslim families. Few of the people who read this blog will agree with the following because most of the people who read this blog are either very conservative or very liberal. I consider myself to be a liberal conservative because I think both groups are closed minded, unwilling to read, unwilling to listen, and unwilling to consider. But anyway, I feel differently about our new families.

One of the reasons I feel this way is that I’ve had a hard time buying the evangelical argument that Muslims are not praying to the same God that I am. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve definitely not made any decisions on the matter. But when I read my own Bible (the story of Haggar), listen to their explanations, and watch their lives, everything seems to point to the fact that, like Jewish people, we’re all praying to the same God here. I admit that the Jesus thing is an important omission, but it is for the Jews as well. So when I’m around our Muslim families, there doesn’t seem to be this absence of God. I know that that is a big statement, and I know that some people will vehemently disagree with that. Trust me, it’s been a hard statement to say out loud. But comfortable or not, it is the feeling that I get.

But I have a very different feeling when I’m around our Hindu and Buddhist families. There is this, almost, audible absence of God. This (forgive me) massive God shaped space. Almost like this black hole in their soul and in our relationship. I’m not sure how many of you believe in discernment, but that feels like where this is coming from.

When I looked down into the eyes of one of our Hindu girls yesterday, I realized that I was (quite literally) looking into the eyes of a pagan. The same thing was true of our Buddhist kids. And (here’s where my liberal friends get uncomfortable) unlike our Muslim families, I feel this real need to share the message of Christ with them. With our Muslim families I mostly feel that I’m here to share the LOVE of Christ with them and also to build bridges. I believe that our greatest calling in this community is simply to show our Muslim neighbors that some of the things they’ve heard about Christians just might be a little off. I’m under no delusion that we’re going to be leading a bunch of Muslims to Christ here. They say that a Muslim must have three significant relationships with a Christian before they’re prepared to sit down and listen to the gospel. So I’m mostly here to be that first relationship. But with these new pagan families, I find myself feeling very different. Feeling a desperation to share the message of Christ with them.

I have no idea how that will work. As we try to build bridges in this neighborhood between the Christian church and the Muslim community, it’s important to earn their trust, and one of the ways that we do that is by providing non-religious after school clubs. A place where our Muslim families can have no fear of their children coming home indoctrinated with what they consider to be a pagan religion (because of our belief that Jesus is also God). I’m comfortable with this simply because I think it’s much more important to LIVE out the gospel than to shout it out anyway. I also think that living out the gospel is what I, as a Christian, am called to do. But again, I feel a desperation with our pagan families that I’ve just not felt before with our Muslim families.

If you’re a prayer, I’d appreciate your prayers for this one. Wisdom.

loyal radicals

I don't refer to other blogs very often, but this post on loyal radicals at Phil Laeger's site is worth the read.

Monday, November 14, 2005


One of my 11 year olds pointed this out today.

Go to google.com, type in "failure", and check out what the first link that comes up is.

what's in a name?

The following are just some of the names represented in our after school clubs:

Aasimah, Ashfa, Ayesha, Yonis, Favio, Jenifa, Ornela, Abbas, Yildirim, Ho Fai, Eman, Ozan, Asher,Veishnavee, Tra Mi, Saidi, Ulkar, Aashifa, Coung, Eslyn, Haajerah

Imagine looking down at that list for the first time and reading these names. Forget the last names! Sometimes even after we meet the kid and they pronounce their name for us, we can't pronounce it! Veishnavee finally gave up and told us to call her chrishna. : )

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

top 5 things to rant about…today…

Two weeks ago, a neo-nazi group in Toledo (Ohio) had a march to protest “black gangs who were harassing white residents”. In an attempt to prove that the neo-nazi group was nothing but a bunch of redneck racists who were stereotyping them, black gang members decided to vandalize local vehicles and stores, burn down buildings, and shoot at police. Genius.

A week ago, the PM of France referred to young people, living in a certain area of the city and causing problems, as scum. A few days later a couple of youth from that area were electrocuted when they decided to hide from police in an electrical station. To show that the PM was nothing but a racist out to stereotype an entire community, youths from that community decided to start burning cars and shooting at police. A week later they’re still burning cars, killing old people, and shooting at police. Genius.

Is anybody using their brain here? By the way, that's all one thing...moving on.

Rap music. It would take me days to write down all of my thoughts concerning rap music. Especially right now. Out of the, approximately, 50 billion rappers who are out there with a record deal right now, there are only about four who are any good, and only about three who are doing anything unique and original. But I simply want to take this time to completely condemn those rappers who have no conscience, aren’t giving a thing back to their communities, and who are glorifying the kind of violence and lifestyle that are destroying the lives of young people. There is no way to justify the kind of stuff these guys are rapping about. For every protest song (and there haven’t been many in the past decade) there are thousands of songs simply singing of the joys of gun violence, drugs, and the sexual exploitation of women. A friend of mine says that the difference between judgement and accountability is that judgement goes the final step and actually sentences somebody, something that we as humans don’t have the right to do (spiritually). After seven years of working with inner city youth, and two years of working with kids who’s only knowledge of America revolves around the rap songs they listen to, I’d really like to take a shot at judging guys like 50 Cent and The Game. Not only are these guys regurgitating The Chronic album (and doing an extremely crap job of it) they are leading a generation of young people (who don’t know any better) to believe that gang/gun violence and drug use are something to strive for. Ultimately I don’t truly believe what I’m about to say, but right now, sitting here in Tottenham, these guys are worse than Hitler to me as they’re leading ten times the amount of people to their ultimate demise. They deserve to stand before the world one day and have every last one of us spit on them.

Stubborn/selfish Christians/churches who are only interested in lost people if those lost people are willing to come to them, talk, dress, and act like them, and find a way to be inspired by a god who we’ve made to look completely uninspiring. The world is doomed if this is their only choice! Churches/Christians like this may be doing just as much to lead a world to hell as The Game and 50 Cent. Bring on the nasty comments, but only if you can prove me wrong. I’m tired of winy comments from people who, in the end, spend their comment space griping at me but never actually coming up with any evidence that what I’m saying isn’t true. And by the way, this is on my top 5 list of things to rant about EVERY day!

London’s public transport! Assuming that the “scum” of Paris don’t burn it to the ground first, London could really learn a thing or two from Paris’ public transport. I shutter to think what’s going to happen here, in seven years, when the world converges on London for the Olympics. No space to drive, an underground with 1950’s technology (and also the last time it’s been cleaned), and a bus system that can only be used if you’ve lived here long enough to figure out where in the world the 329 will take you!

People living and working in DHQ’s across America, scoring free tickets to NFL games! I might hate you the most. Drew, this means you.

It’s been a tough day, but as every gay clubber in America will agree, I will survive. I took this photo for a good and gay friend of mine (you know who you are). It appears that they will sell anything here, so you might want to rethink that visit in the Spring!

Friday, November 04, 2005

top 5...

Well it hurts, but I have to admit it, my Album Collection Rating System is dated.

After posting my rating system for all the world to see, a friend pointed out the simple fact that it does not take into account MP3 technology. Like many of you, I too have an MP3 player. So, with playlists in mind, I post the following. My top 5 rock songs of all time, counting down from 5!

My Generation – The Who – Not only a great song with great guitars, but it perfectly sums up the angst of youth that should be found in any great rock song. My one great gripe about this song is simply the stuttering. While it totally lends to the overall sound of the song, if you know the reason behind the stuttering, you can’t help but wish it weren’t in there.

Johnny B. Good – Chuck Berry – Possibly the first air guitar anthem, lender to one of the greatest scenes in Back to the Future, and a song that I would love to see a modern band cover. Killer guitar, killer piano, and a song about rock & roll! How can you go wrong?

Revolution – The Beatles – In my opinion, this is nearly the first metal song of all time. In fact, if it weren’t for the vocals, I’d straight up call it a metal song. From the first lick on the guitar you know exactly what this song is about. The title itself sums up the spirit of rock & roll. Another song that I can’t believe a modern band hasn’t tried to cover.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana – Number two of all time? Well, maybe I’m a little biased, but I can remember what this song sounded and felt like when it was released. Most good rock songs are about putting the establishment in it’s place, the establishment being the world outside of rock & roll and it’s politics. THIS song, however, put the rock establishment in its place! This song single handedly put six-dozen bands out of work! This song is both a guitar AND a drum anthem and, like Louie Louie, is so good that you scream along with it despite the fact that you don’t know what any of the lyrics are!

Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) – To me, CCR is the epitome of classic rock and no song better sums it up than this. The song opens with Fogerty screaming “737 comin’ out of the sky!” and while he goes on to complain about the hardships of being in a successful rock band (a theme that I have a hard time feeling much compassion for) the opening grabs hold of you so quickly that all you can do is listen to it wide eyed and with your jaw on the floor. A rock song that is actually pretty minimalistic as far as instruments go, but with the heavy drums and screaming vocals leading the way, you really don’t need much else than background noise. This is one of those rare songs that appeals to people of all ages. You can dance to it, scream to it, or just sit back and wish you understood the hardships poor John Fogerty was enduring at the time.

You’ll notice that there are several glaring leftouts on this list but keep in mind that this is a list of pure rock songs. Some of the greatest so-called rock songs of all time are nothing more than blues songs, with a little more guitar, sung by white people. Among my favourites are Jumpin’ Jack Flash, all of The Doors hits, and Jailhouse Rock.

I took this picture in the Camdon area of London. The Hot Rock Cafe? Is this guy serious? I'm going home to Oklahoma City for Christmas where there's a little known convenience store just outside the downtown area called 7 Elephant. Coming to America called and wants it's idea back.