"When you begin to think outside the box, you often become some other "leaders" lousy follower. That usually costs something" (Andy Rayner)

"Our guardian angels are bored." (Mike Foster)

It's where I feel I'm at these days. “In the second half of life, it is good just to be a part of the general dance. We do not have to stand out, make defining moves, or be better than anyone else on the dance floor. Life is more participatory than assertive, and there is no need for strong or further self-definition” (Falling Upward. Richard Rohr.120).

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fasting From Noise And Babble

“God commands recourse to the abyss of silence so that we might hear him in it: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Much has been written about the need for better Church music, and rightly so. Yet greater is the need for better silence. The best times to press this need are the penitential seasons, especially Lent. Our shepherds should urge us to emulate our ancestors, who knew the importance of fasting not only from food and drink but also from noise and babble.”

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It Placates the Lukewarm and Cools the Zealous

'My experience with church ministry matched neither the hunger that churned so deep within me nor what I perceived to be the challenge of Scripture. In one moment all my excuses were swept away by a mass of evidence I could no longer ignore. When I looked for whys I kept coming to the same conclusion: Our application of present-day Christianity was deficient. I knew it wasn't the people; those I worked with loved the Lord deeply. I knew it wasn't a disregard for Scripture; we believed it whole- heartedly. I knew it wasn't a lack of knowledge; I already knew far more than I was living out at the time.

But when I looked at how church ministry operated, I saw how high a priority it places on safety and routine. At the cost of distracting people from personal intimacy with Jesus, it clings to the status quo. It placates the lukewarm and cools the zealous. Not only has it failed to lead us to the fullness of relationship with Jesus, it has more often lured us away from it."
(The Naked Church.  Wayne Jacobsen pg 12)

Mutual Pity In Cross Cultural Relationships

"We first became friends probably out of an almost identical sense of pity for one another. Any American can, I suppose, imagine my pity for Ramon. It was grounded in the contemplation of an intelligent and ambitious youth chained by circumstances to crushing and lifelong poverty in a poor country that offered no future to its ineptly educated citizens. Ramon's pity for me was just as basic as he watched me moving about, confused and frightened in his strange world. I was unable to communicate with anyone about anything but the most animal needs of survival. Except for bananas, and I didn’t know the Spanish word for them, I was unable to identify a single fruit or plant. I couldn’t catch a fish or paddle a canoe or net a shrimp or weave a piece of rope out of a vine or find my way on a jungle trail or even walk on one for more than fifty feet without sinking up to my knees in mud. I couldn‘t machete out a patch of weeds or fix a leaking roof. I couldn’t even cook a pot of rice that didn‘t come out like a great mass of glue. Jesus, I couldn’t even walk a hundred feet without shoes. Ramon found my ignorance so overwhelming that he could hardly bear it; he was confused between tears, depression, and anger. Chances are when I macheted down a tree it would fall on me, hopelessly entangling me in its spiny branches; paddling across the river I was almost inevitably swept out into the rip tides where the ocean breakers crashed onto the sandbar. In the middle of all this, to hear me speak of my four years at university filled Ramon with an incredulous impatience, and about the third time I mentioned my educational qualifications for arriving to overturn his life, he asked me if, in view of my obvious ignorance of everything that he had taken for granted since he was three years old, I would please
lay off the higher education bullshit."

(Moritz Thomsen.The Farm On The River of Emeralds)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Escaping Old Ideas

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”

(John Maynard Keynes)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Living in Cities Of Lost Civilizations

"I wonder what it’s like to live in a city that is built upon lost civilizations and early generations."  (Brenton Dickieson)

The Devil Loves Church Planting Says Charles Spurgeon

I do not think the devil cares how many churches you build, if only you have lukewarm preachers and people in them.
--Charles Spurgeon

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Building The Kindgom Is A Silent, Hidden Affair?

"I propose that the Christian enterprise of building the kingdom of God on earth must be a silent, hidden affair. The public claims of many Christians have lost their credibility. The words on their lips are contradicted by their lifestyles. The problem in the American church is not that something has been hidden but that not enough has stayed hidden. Let the church go underground for a while. As it lowers its profile, let it raise the ante for membership. We are the church. Let us present to the world the image of a servant community, and let us preserve the beauty of the gospel not with showy, defensive fervor but with an intense interior life of prayer and worship, service, and a manner of living that only can be explained in terms of God."

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Attendance At A Church With No Community and Little Fellowship Is All We Need

"At the risk of sounding repetitious, I shall say it again: We have made it too easy to be a Christian. The sole requirements are the recitation of a creed and attendance at a local church where there is no community and little fellowship. Christianity used to be risky business. It is no longer. Cost-free discipleship produces wimps and pleasant personalities who, in Scott Peck’s forceful phrase, “belong to a church that in the name of Jesus can blasphemously co-exist with the arms race.” From my vantage point, the greatest single need in the American church is to know Jesus Christ, ..."

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My One Post On Mars Hill And Mark Driscoll

I see hundreds of comments on media by church people saying things like... "I think the devil is laughing over all of this." The idea that because people are talking about this stuff it some how is creating a black eye on "The Church".

Oh good grief.

Here was my reply at one point.

"I think the enemy laughs even more when it's not exposed and found out, because the abuse continues. Silence and secrets are what cause sin to grow. I think the enemy is shaking in fear, not laughing, because of this exposure. Now believers can build a loving community with loving leaders.
Why is it we think the world is shocked and surprised when some of the churches leaders have issues?

We think it puts a black eye on "Church". I don't think the world is surprised at all. This Forbes article seems to ask why we are not questioning our power-centric leadership models and leaders more often.  No one in the community is looking down on the church when they expose and address abusers or narcissistic leaders. They applaud us.
I think we Christians are more concerned with the image of "the church" than non attenders are.  We are more shocked at the revelations than they are because we have an unwritten rule: hush it up, sweep it up as quickly and quietly as we can, bury it, move on, pretend it never happened, and never never ever talk about such things ever.

And then we invite people to this lie - A large church that never has messy relational issues and dynamics? Oh really? This stuff is not really shocking.... it's actually normal. It just has bigger fall out in multi-site popular churches and we sit up and notice because the more people know about us in the good, the more people know about us in the bad.

Anyway, I personally do not see much gloom in this. Mark will recover, Mars hill will continue. The believers leaving will be in other communities,  those seeking Jesus will be taught up front that they need to seek Jesus, not celebrity.
Jesus still stands."

The other lesson in all of this should cause us to examine the affects of persecution and money. We are ministering at the upper edge of affordability in the west. Typically, 90% of our money is required to prop up that building, programs and staff salaries we are juggling. There is little left for "Go to all Nations", we have our hands full floating this church structure we inherited. It's stating a reality, not a value judgment.

We are not persecution proof.
Knock out our leaders and many things fall, or simply will lack someone to "run it". A few members leave, and we are in a major financial crisis.
Tamper with our money flow (Government) and most of our institutional forms will fall.

Are we really that easy to topple over as a church body in the west? 

How would we build a little differently if we considered a day when we could not build public structures and just had to live one on one discipleship? I think these things should at least be in the back of our minds. Because, we have forgotten that though the church has this stuff, it does not NEED much of this stuff. How much does people discipling other people, and meeting together as the body really cost in the end?


Learning from Church in China. 

Take out our pastors, and we still gather because  we are all pastors (Priesthood of all believers)
Take out our leaders and we still have vision. Because we all seeking Jesus' will and seek to serve others.
Take away our buildings, We have homes, or we can meet in two's or three's anywhere.
Take away our money. Well, and we discover bible study, relational discipleship, prayer, and helping others with the sweat of our brow are, in the end, surprisingly, all free. We don't need to gather as much money as a group, and now we release people to sow generously into the needs of people around them in each individual mission field, or people can pool together resources for a common mission.

Does not take much for church to survive in the end.

Personality Cults

"Personality cults end badly, because anyone objective finds themselves mauled by loyalists trying to hold the cult together."

(Rob Asghar. Forbes. From The Enron Of American Churches. 9/16/2014) 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Puritan Ethic That Forces Me to Judge Everything.....

"I am crippled and restricted in South America by that puritan ethic that forces me to judge everything as either good or bad, that makes me uneasy with prolonged leisure or guiltless excesses, with procrastination and fatalism. I am nervous around emotion and unplanned joy."

(Moritz Thomsen. The Farm On The River of Emeralds)

Farming Where We Pray More Than We Spray

"From a practical viewpoint Ramon knew much more than I did about tropical agriculture, but he had grown up in that medieval world of ritualized poverty where out of absolute desperation a farmer goes into partnership with God. He prays instead of sprays."
(Moritz Thomsen. The Farm On The River of Emeralds)

You take a knife and slice open your breast and pull out your heart and hold it in your hand....

"One of my good friends was in the group; he explained very carefully to Ramon that now he had a chance to be a rich man if he played his cards right and that he, X, was prepared—for a reasonable percentage—to show him how to do it. “But we’re friends,” Ramon cried. “I’m not just in this for the money. We’re friends; we’re doing this together. I’m doing this for something that I feel here in my heart.”
“Friends,” X said in disgust. “Holy shit. Don’t talk like a child. Look, Prado, you’ll never get another chance like this if you live a thousand years. Now listen to me, Prado, for the sake of Christ. You take a knife and slice open your breast and pull out your heart and hold it in your hand and try to sell it, no? How much do you think you can get for your fucking heart?""

(Moritz Thomsen. The Farm On The River of Emeralds)

Ordering Around Great Masses of Poor Workers

"Faced with the very practical problems of running a large tropical farm, I found to my embarrassment that not only did I not know where to begin but, since it would involve ordering around great masses of poor workers, I actually didn’t much want to do it.....(pg 67)

How can there be brotherhood between a man with a five-thousand-dollar truck and a man who makes a dollar a day?"(pg 68)

" (Moritz Thomsen. The Farm On The River of Emeralds. Pg 67-68)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Dead Capital Of Institutional Christendom

"In all our criticism and near-despair of the institutional Church, it should never be forgotten that many powers and possibilities really exist in it, but often in captivity; they exist as frozen credits and dead capital."
(Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity)

Monday, September 8, 2014

“Our present disunity cannot be God’s will

"We have come a long, sad journey from the first century when pagans exclaimed with awe and wonder, “See how these Christians love one another!” to the twenty-first century when all over the world nonbelievers dismiss us with contempt: “See how these Christians hate one another!” We have deprived the world of the only witness the Son of God asked for during the supper of his love. “Our present disunity cannot be God’s will for us; it is a scandal to angels in heaven and human beings on earth.”

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Deep and Delicate Respect For One Another

"Jesus said that the foremost sign of discipleship would be our love for one another: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35). His teaching is unequivocal here. We would be known as his followers not because we are chaste, celibate, honest, sober, or respectable; not because we are church-going, Bible-toting, or Psalm-singing. Rather, we would be recognized as disciples primarily by our deep and delicate respect for one another, our cordial love impregnated with reverence for the sacred dimension of the human personality."

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Plastic Buttons Decimated Poor Communities

"Until sometime in the 1920s the tagua nut was harvested where it grew wild and widely scattered through all the rain forest areas; it was shipped to Germany, England, and the United States and was used for making buttons. Hundreds of people had their standard of living further lowered when some jerk invented plastics."
(The Farm On The River of Emeralds. Moritz Thomsen)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Church Placates the Lukewarm and Cools the Zealous

"My experience with church ministry matched neither the hun­ger that churned so deep within me nor what i perceived to be the challenge of scripture. In one moment all my excuses were swept away by a mass of evidence i could no longer ignore. When i looked for whys i kept coming to the same conclusion: Our application of present-day Christianity was deficient.

I knew it wasn't the people; those i worked with loved the lord deeply. i knew it wasn't a disregard for scripture; we believed it whole­ heartedly. I knew it wasn't a lack of knowledge; i already knew far more than i was living out at the time. But when i looked at how church ministry operated, i saw how high a priority it places on safety and routine. At the cost of dis­tracting people from personal intimacy with Jesus, it clings to the status quo. It placates the lukewarm and cools the zealous. Not only has it failed to lead us to the fullness of relationship with Jesus, it has more often lured us away from it."
(The Naked Church. Wayne Jacobsen)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jesus Christ is no Pollyanna Tale For the Neutral

"As we make our way into the twenty-first century, there never has been a time in Christian history when the name of Jesus Christ so frequently is mentioned and the content of his life and teaching so frequently ignored. The seduction of counterfeit discipleship has made it too easy to be a Christian. In a climate of mutual admiration, the radical demands of the gospel have dissolved into verbal Alka-Seltzer, and prophetic preaching has become virtually impossible. By and large, American Christians today are spoon-fed the pabulum of popular religion.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is no Pollyanna tale for the neutral—it is a cutting knife, rolling thunder, and convulsive earthquake in the human spirit."
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

We Learned From Jesus To Be Too Kind To Sinners

“Dear Jesus, if it’s a fault for being too kind to a sinner, then it’s a fault I learned from you. For you never scolded anyone or brandished the Law at anyone who came to you seeking understanding and mercy.”

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Why Love Does Not Change Us

"However, my past twenty-five years of pastoral experience indicate that the stunning disclosure that God is love has had negligible impact on the majority of Christians and minimal transforming power. The problem seems to be that either we don’t know it or we know it but cannot accept it. Or we accept it but are not in touch with it. Or we are in touch with it but do not surrender to it."

( Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus )

Forgiving Perpetrated Injustices

"The surest sign of union with the crucified Christ is our forgiveness of those who have perpetrated injustices against us. Without acceptance and forgiveness the dark night will be only that. The bottom line will be a troubled heart. Forgiveness of enemies seals our participation in the dark night of Jesus Christ who cried out on behalf of his killers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Everything That Happened To Jesus In Some Way Happens To Us

"Everything that happened to Christ in some way happens to us. When darkness envelops us and we are deaf to everything except the shriek of our own pain, it helps to know that the Father is tracing in us the image of his Son, that the signature of Jesus is being stamped on our souls."
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

When It's My Nature To Save......

"Henri Nouwen tells the story of an old man who used to meditate early every morning under a big tree on the bank of the Ganges. One morning, after he had finished his meditation, the old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion was washed closer to the tree, the old man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that branched out into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man withdrew his hand. A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted, “Hey, stupid old man, what’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man turned his head. Looking into the stranger’s eyes he said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to save.”

Sitting here at the typewriter in my study, I turn to the symbol of the crucified Christ on the wall to my left. And I hear Jesus praying for his murderers, “Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.” The scorpion he had tried to save finally killed him. To me, the passerby, who sees him stretched out on the tree roots and shouts, “Only a madman would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, ungrateful creature,” Jesus answers, “My friend, just because it is fallen mankind’s nature to wound, that does not change my nature to save.” Here is the final repudiation of the ego. We surrender the need for vindication, hand over the kingdom of self to the Father, and in the sovereign freedom of forgiving our enemies, celebrate the luminous darkness."

(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Hindrances To Communion

"When we have hit bottom and are emptied of all we thought important to us, then we truly pray, truly become humble and detached, and live in the bright darkness of faith. In the midst of the emptying we know that God has not deserted us. He has merely removed the obstacles keeping us from a deeper union with him. Actually we are closer to God than ever before, although we are deprived of the consolations that we once associated with our spirituality. What we thought was communion with him was really a hindrance to that communion." (Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anyway........

Sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, a children’s home in Calcutta

People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Be good anyway.

Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People need help but may attack you if you try to help them. Help them anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

I Renounce All Spiritual Forces That Wage War & Wickedness Against God and Man. A Missionary Insight

In my decade in Africa, I’ve become convinced of the value of formally asking the baptismal candidate to renounce all spiritual allegiance other than Christ.  I guess it only takes one person coming up from baptism screaming under demonic oppression to come to that conclusion.  Time after time, we’ve seen people try to hold on to a little spiritual security on the side—amulets, rings for protection, “harmless” sacrifices to ancestors.  Time after time, we’ve seen people hold on to sin and sinful attitudes, especially those that aren’t taboo in that culture.  At least we’d never do that in ‘Merica (read sarcasm).  We need to renounce and turn away from the evil “trinity” of the devil, the world and sinful desires in order to turn toward and follow God in Christ.  I like the stark line in the sand drawn by the old confessions:
Question :    Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
Answer : I renounce them.
Question:    Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Answer : I renounce them.
Question:     Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you
from the love of God?
Answer :  I renounce them.
(Brian Hauser, "A tale Of Two Baptisms" Burkina Faso Missionary) 

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Life of Pure Faith is the Dark Night?

"The school of humiliation is a great learning experience; there is no other like it. When the gift of a humble heart is granted, we are more accepting of ourselves and less critical of others......

Of course, the most withering experience of ego-reduction occurs when we pray, “Lord, increase my faith.” We need to tread carefully here, because the life of pure faith is the dark night. In this “night” God allows us to live by faith and faith alone. Mature faith cannot grow when we are surfeited with all kinds of spiritual comforts and consolations. All these must be removed if we are to advance in the pure trust of God. "
(Brennan Manning. The Signature Of Jesus)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obliterating Time With Ecuador

"Once you stop fighting and give into it there is a special beguilement about living in the tropics that lulls and disguises, that obliterates the passing of time." (The Farm On The River of Emeralds Moritz Thomsen)

When Going To Bed Is Risky

"At eight o’clock when I walked through the grass to my shack everyone would stand outside with flashlights, lighting my way to the door. We had killed a half dozen coral snakes here, and as I walked through the darkness the skin on my ankles crept and twitched with anticipation. I rather enjoyed the terror; where else in my life had going from the dining-room table to the bedroom ever been a life and death adventure?" (The Farm On The River of Emeralds. Moritz Thomsen)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Incapable Of Accepting Help On Our Terms

"Moritz’s experience, disappointing but never bitter, always colored by liking and affection, can teach us a great deal about imposing our will to help people and a system incapable of accepting help on our terms.”

(Wallace Stegner. In forward to The Farm On The River of Emeralds)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Religious Mindset is Coursing Through This World

"Every day the religious mindset is coursing through this world in one form or another. We have worked hard to make the religious mindset attractive, and we built it using the best we had - the best buildings, the best programs, and the best budgets. Within this religious mindset and system, we have followed the rules, regulations and doctrines for relating to God. And the wheels on the bus go round and round." (Jim Palmer)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Situations To Horrible To Handle

"Three days after that violent night in which one or two students were shot, my body in its own unique way informed me that I had experienced a devastating trauma. I have come very gradually to recognize the delayed physical symptoms of events that shake my soul. I have always reacted the same way to those big things in life that fill me with fear and make me wonder if I have stepped into a situation that I can’t handle."
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

I Thought I Knew Ecuador

"But I was fully awake and perhaps as fully awake as I had ever been in that town. I had come back to a place that I thought I knew (1969), to discover that either I had never understood it or that it had completely changed and that that tranquil coastal town throbbing at night to the beat of music and through whose streets one wandered.... was now a town that boiled with repugnances and rage. It had always been that way, of course, but the rage had always been secret and disguised as resignation. And tomorrow it would be disguised as resignation again for the town had lost; it had been overwhelmed by the power of guns and by the determination of the military to ruthlessly terrorize the people in the first beginnings of their revolt."
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

God Lives In Our Poverty.... WOW

Our Poverty, God's Dwelling Place

"How can we embrace poverty as a way to God when everyone around us wants to become rich? Poverty has many forms. We have to ask ourselves: "What is my poverty?" Is it lack of money, lack of emotional stability, lack of a loving partner, lack of security, lack of safety, lack of self-confidence? Each human being has a place of poverty. That's the place where God wants to dwell! "How blessed are the poor," Jesus says (Matthew 5:3). This means that our blessing is hidden in our poverty. We are so inclined to cover up our poverty and ignore it that we often miss the opportunity to discover God, who dwells in it. Let's dare to see our poverty as the land where our treasure is hidden." -- Henri Nouwen

A Life Surging Up Out Of His Memories

"The old white-haired gentleman, his lungs filled with the air of childhood and feeling reasonably good considering the hour, walks more or less briskly back to his seat in the plane. A sleepy stewardess lays a blanket across his shoulders. Sitting there, trying to add it all up he does feel rather like a quite superfluous old man, a vaguely ridiculous figure who from now on will address young people with diffidence, not caring much but, half - expecting to be ignored or gently mocked. It is the first time that he really knows that he has spent his life; his pockets are almost empty: there is no second chance. A good part of his real life from now on will surge up out of his memories. "
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

I’ve Seen Women Weaping And Beggars Smiling

"l have lived too long with poor people to sit now in the middle of all this jewelery and the electronic crapola and the whores and the gangsters who want to own it, eating overpriced food, listening for eight hours straight to Muzak’s plastic ... music not to feel a profound disorientation. l have seen that smile of total joy when a poor man is offered bread; women weeping because someone has loaned them the five dollars they need to take their dying child to a doctor. I have seen people react with happiness at the thought of owning the very simplest of things: a piece of rope, a pot, a fishhook: have walked through villages of fifty houses where the most valuable thing was a fifteen-dollar radio.

How can those little children of Ramon's thread their way through this new flood of vulgarities that is about to engulf them without losing the way, without becoming infected by this future of instant gratifications and easy, false solutions."

(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

Free From The Muddying Of Life's Waters. Just Give It Away!

"I walk up and down hall examining everything carefully in the brightly lit cases, delighted to discover that there is absolutely nothing there that I would wish to own. l had spent forty years modestly collecting this kind of garbage and then, let us hope, grown wiser, the next twenty years giving it all away...... Twelve years in the jungle had isolated me from the flow of time's changes,' from the muddying of life‘s waters."
(The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers. Moritz Thomsen)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Men Who Win Womens Hearts.....

Ecuador, in airport.... about 1978. 63 year old Moritz Thomsen observes

"Motionless on a plastic couch across from me, staring at the floor, sits a woman in her middle twenties. She has straight, sun-streaked hair caught up and clipped at the back, great very clear, very dark brown eyes, and she is dressed with the practical smartness of someone who knows how to travel; tan slacks, a faded safari jacket; at her feet a basket loosely stuffed with woven tapestries from Otavalo. She is beautiful, but what is more impressive than her smartness or her beauty is her grief. In that half hour as the room gradually fills with travelers she sits in a catatonic stillness, frowning at the floor, looking at no one and lost in the profound and desolate meditation of a woman whose love affair has just ended very badly. Looking at her I feel the pity that one feels at the sight of a wounded animal, and I fight the impulse to sit down by her and take her hand. Impossible, of course; she is firmly locked within her impregnable grief. Studying her face I realize that I know no one who could be worthy of her- and begin to glow with the power of a new insight: that the world has changed, that men have changed, that men can no longer match the potentialities of the women they pursue and, having won, cannot permanently cherish." (The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers.  Moritz Thomsen)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Travel Gave Me Eyes

"Travel is the saddest of pleasures, it gave me eyes" (Paul Theroux. Picture Palace)

Say Something Truthfully In A Clumsy Way

".... he (Moritz Thomsen) would rather say something truthfully in a clumsy way then lie elegantly." (Paul Theroux.  In Forward of, The Saddest Pleasure: A Journey On Two Rivers, By Moritz Thomsen )

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Holding Others Up.....

"Now Wai was back, ready to weep again. He wanted to he reasoned with, complimented, comforted, and told strongly that the co—op was good and that he should stay on as a 'fundador'. But God help me, I didn’t have the strength to hold him up; I was tired of packing that man on my back, exhausted by his lack of comprehension, his stupidity. If I told him anything, I would have to tell him that the crap failure had left the cooperative only as strong as each socio’s capacity to keep on struggling for another year." (Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Getting Too Close To Poverty

"You can't move in too close to poverty, get too involved in it, without becoming dangerously wounded yourself."(Moritz Thomsen Living Poor)

Christian Evangelism Approaches People With a Scripted Agenda?

It not about listening, being, or knowing them.  It is about an agenda of what we plan to say, and our envisioned end result. This causes us Christians to treat others as objects. We should be prepared to give an answer to anyone as to why we believe what we do. However, is there a place for people in our lives who simply do not want to hear about God, Jesus, or church anymore? Or do we cut them off and move on to greener pastures? Are you seeing where this leads us relationally?

It's difficult to listen when our purpose for interaction is to have something to say.
It's difficult to maintain a relationship if our objective is hinged on the expectation someone must listen to our speech. What if they don't wish to? Can we still enjoy each others as friends?
"What I came to discover is how much the world craves a listening ear. The biggest problem I have with evangelizing is that you enter into a relationship with a prescribed intention, and that stands in the way of listening well. You can't listen well when you are carrying an agenda. You can't listen well when you are looking for ways to fortify your own position."
(Cindy Brandt: How I KissedEvangelism Goodbye)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jesus Carried Faith Out Of The Temple And Into The Fields

“As I have read the Gospels over the years, the belief has grown in me that Christ did not come to found an organized religion but came instead to found an unorganized one. He seems to have come to carry religion out of the temples into the fields and sheep pastures, onto the roadsides and the banks of the rivers, into the houses of sinners and publicans, into the town and the wilderness, toward the membership of all that is here. Well, you can read and see what you think.” (Wendell Berry.― Jayber Crow)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sophie, She Does Not Know What A Christian is!”

Aissata’s Vestibule

"Although Aissata does not work any more, she agreed to help us, and we worked together this morning in her mud vestibule, with the village population popping their heads in the doorway and chatting for a moment or two. I was practising my Bambara, sitting on the floor next to Aissata who was explaining the design to me. ‘This is the skeleton of the big snake’, she explained. There appears to be a large type of snake in this area, which I have never come across, alhamdilullah.’ Have you ever seen one?’ I wanted to know. ‘Yes, of course’,  Aissata replied, ‘and I have eaten them too. They are very good to eat’. I believe she is talking about a boa constrictor, because she said it kills by squeezing its victim. I looked at her old light blue printed cotton dress, which had little medallions on it with the inscription : ‘Notre Dame de l’Assumption, Priez pour nous’.  I was quite pleased and surprised  to meet a fellow Christian, but I thought I would ask just to make sure: “E ye Chretien ye Wa?’ She looked at me without comprehending and I was, as usual , disappointed that noone ever understands my Bambara, even when I speak it correctly. But this time it was not my Bambara that was at fault. She said something  that I didn’t understand to Dembele, and he laughed: ‘Sophie, she does not know what a Christian is!”

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Impossibles Made Possible In Nigeria

"I never for once thought that I would, in my life time, hear of Nigerians strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up innocent people. We would have sworn that it is impossible." (President Goodluck Jonathan, nigeria

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The "Image" Of Poverty... One Photo Reveals All To A Village

"The incapacity of the poor to see the pattern of their lives is occasionally breached. I took a color photograph of Wai and his family standing in front of their house, and when the people of the town saw it, it had the curious power to make them weep. It was just a picture of a man, like any other in the town, with his eight children formally lined up in ascending order, his pregnant wife, and his mother. But there was something awful in Wai’s rags, in the tilt of his head, in the foolish pride that showed in his mother’s face for the voracious horde of naked kids. The picture summed up his whole life, a symbolic rendering of his past and future. The people would look at it and gasp. “Oh, my God, poor “Wai.” Perhaps for just a moment they saw themselves. Wai, of course, was the poorest, but not by much. You could measure degrees of poverty in Rio Verde with one pot or one woven mat or a dollar's worth of fishhooks."
(Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle. Moritz Thomsen)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Love is Divine Extravagance That Never Counts The Cost.

"There is a certain extravagance in love. The alabaster phial of perfume was meant to be used drop by drop; it was meant to last for years, perhaps even a life-time; but in a moment of utter devotion, the woman poured it on the head of Jesus. Love does not stop nicely to calculate the less or more; love does not stop to work out how little it can respectively give. With a kind of divine extravagance, love gives everything it has and never counts the cost. Calculation is never any part of love."

(William Barclay (1907-1978), The Mind of Jesus)