Justice as a Christ follower

Capitol Hill, Seattle. Chaz/Chop site.

I, like many, have been taking in deeply all that is going on in the world, especially in my city, Seattle. The insidiousness of racism and those who are racist is finally getting the attention it deserves. I have learned that I am racist, and have taken advantage of the privilege I have as a white person in America. God have mercy.

As a Christ follower, ask this question: Who does justice? In Proverbs, there is a challenging response.

Proverbs 11:10-11
When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

The word ‘ prosper’ here means a person/people who have risen to the top in their field. They have wealth, influence and power. The people who are around them don’t resent it, they don’t envy it, they rejoice!

This word used for rejoice is never used except in this verse, and it means joy in a military victory. There are people, when they get to the top of their influence, power, and wealth, use it as a victory for all.

Who are these people referenced here? They are called the righteous. In our world, when we think of a righteous person, we think of a morally upright person, but that isn’t what this scripture is talking about.

The righteous described here, are willing to disadvantage themselves for the betterment of the community. These are the just. The wicked are those who put their economic and social needs ahead of the community.

The way forward?

As a result, our hope for those who don’t identify with the church to say:

‘I don’t believe what they believe, I don’t believe in their faith and I don’t believe in their God, but I can’t imagine what this neighborhood would be like without them. They are putting so much value in our neighborhood; I can’t deny what good is being produced.’

What kind of church do we need to be for the city to rejoice that we are here? I firmly believe it’s not enough, to get bigger, to attract more people. This scripture doesn’t say when the righteous prosper the righteous rejoice and the rest of the city grumbles because we are taking up all the parking on the street.

Moreover, we need to be looking for places in the city where there is unraveling and inject justice into it and pull people back into the fabric.

The just have two goals when they get to the city:

  1. To use success, and the influence and power that comes with it, why?
  2. To do justice, so they disadvantage themselves to advance the community.

That’s what the church ought to be doing.

Maundy Thursday reflection

Maundy Thursday is commemorated by the Last Supper of Jesus, and the washing of the disciple’s feet. Jesus was revealing to the disciples the plan for the next 3 days, He exemplified the greatest resilience during his trial, flogging, crucifixion. We can only imagine the unbelievable strain on his entire being. And yet, he endured all the way to the Cross.

Here we are in the middle of an anxious, unsure time. We are all questioning our resilience and endurance. My spiritual mentor assigned me the book of 2 Corinthians. This book is all about Paul writing to the church in Corinth expressing his real, raw emotions about his ministry trials and tribulations. I have read this passage many times, but today it reads completely different than any other time I have read it.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

For me, I appreciate Paul’s honestly and vulnerability. He is resilient but not stoic. He is being honest with his feelings, emotional. I get a sense that he is close to breakdown. Maybe he had a good cry out of frustration. And yet, he doesn’t stay in that state. He is not a victim. I see this passage giving us permission for the need to grieve.

Maybe you are getting to the end of your rope, tired, frustrated, burned out. If so, let it go. Let God know. Paul kept perspective, by letting people around him know that he is tired. It seems to build his resilience.

However, the world has very seducing philosophies. Stating that:
1) No one should ever have to suffer.
2) Happiness is the goal
3) A good God wouldn’t allow suffering

It is in the suffering that we develop character:

Romans 5:4-5
but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

In conclusion, As we are going through our own pains and struggles in our lives, armored with FAITH, we can better identify with Jesus as we learn resilience in our current struggle. The beautiful part is, just as we are promised suffering, we are also promised to be raised up, just as Christ was raised up on the third day, all unto the glory of God.

Take action:

  • Who needs a text or phone call today?
  • Reach out to parents who are working from home and doing their best to educate, entertain, and be present with their children.

Hope Heals

Veterans Day is Monday, November 11. I have two veterans in my family who I admire and love very much. They have seen the horror and atrocity of war, and have the scars, both physical and emotional, to prove.

In our city, there is usually less pageantry and acknowledgement for November 11. Regardless of your opinion or feeling, the fact is we have neighbors, friends, and family that have served. That is enough for any of us to honor them, thank them, and support them.

I can’t possibly understand what being in a theatre of war would feel like, let alone try to come home and live a normal life. I came across an article from a Veteran that moved me. I wanted to share it with the people who read this blog (when there is actually something new to read).

I am sure this will give you good cause to thank the Veterans in your life. You can read it here: Hope in the Void.

Wise Up! Study in Proverbs

We are looking at the inner life this Sunday at All Saints Church. Please join us at 10am or listen to the podcast available Sunday afternoon.

Today we look at Proverbs 30 it’s quite long, and full of controversial statements. This is why I like Proverbs so much.

Consider the entire Proverb, and maybe use a one or two of these questions:

First, what four things does the author not understand – 30:18,19? What do these things have in common?

Next, what four things create a burden on the world around them – 30:21-23?

Finally, how does the author illustrate the problems created by anger in 30:33? What should we learn?

Wise Up! Study in Proverbs

In Proverbs 17 we get an honest look at wealth, envy, and relationship health.

Take a few minutes to consider these questions.

1.First, How do you deal with conflict, unresolved issues, difficult people, etc.?

2.Next, When we keep bringing something up; have we truly forgiven?

3.Finally, How do we go from a broken spirit to a merry heart? Consider Psalm 93.

Any other thoughts?

Hey Bill, What are you researching?

I am in Oxford, U.K studying for a PhD. I say that very humbly, because I am so over my head it’s really comical. However, I want to do this research, gaining insights from nomadic theory to challenge and realign the forms and structures, as well as the practical theology of churches in Seattle.

What? Great question, and if you wanted to add the look of ‘ohhh, right…cool.’ You are not alone. I, too, scratch my head wondering, what?

In the image above, you get a picture of what I am researching. The roots in the rhizome image represent non-hierarchical, no up or down, no beginning or end. That is to say, there is no one ‘most’ powerful image that comes to mind, as opposed to the towering tree in the other image.

It is my belief that non-hierarchical structures promote interconnectivity and heterogeneity, allowing for multiplicities to arise rather than pre-planned determined structures that produce top down systems demanding certainty and authoritarianism. In other words, I believe the church can be much more appealing if we empower everyone, not just a few.

I believe this research will begin a new discussion on how the idea of a rhizomatic theology is best suited for leaders and churches that will create new perceptions, identities, and structures which will help the American Pentecostal church regain her prophetic voice.

Questions?

Wise Up! study in Proverbs

Proverbs 12 is showing us that those who love discipline love knowledge. Anyone who has committed to life learning realizes that it takes discipline.

Next, Solomon realized that God has big plans for us, but those plans won’t come to pass if we don’t accept God’s leading and instruction.

Finally, Are you willing to do what it takes to get to where you want to be? It will take discipline to go through the process of changing, learning, growing, and developing.

Go for it!

1.what does Solomon say about reckless words?

2.What does Solomon say the prudent person does with knowledge in contrast to what a fool does with their folly?

3.How do you summarize this chapter in your own words?

Wise Up! study in Proverbs

Proverbs 10 is telling us the wise person knows the difference between the wise and the foolish, the righteous and the wicked, the diligent and the idle.

Also, we learn of love and hatred, of good and evil speech, and the slanderer and and those who are peace makers.

Finally, It is impossible to summarize a chapter in Proverbs. each verse contains a different subject. We are invited to apply these wise sayings into everyday life so we may help others flourish, as well as ourselves.

1.How does the speech of wise people differ from that of foolish people according to 10:13,14?

2.How is the wealth of a rich person viewed in contrast to the poverty of a poor person – 10:15? But what is more important than wealth or poverty – verse 16?

3.Explain why there is danger in being a person who speaks a lot – 10:19. Is the solution to simply remain quiet – 10:20,21? Explain.

Wise Up! study in Proverbs

We are invited to eat at the table of wisdom, all who gather around will be served all they need to live this life with poise, gratitude, and joy.

There are no strings attached, nothing to pay for. Take a seat and enjoy the feast that is Proverbs 9.

1.How can we benefit from accepting the invitation to obtain wisdom?

2.Consider the lessons we can learn about our free will power to choose and how God instructs us in His will. Explain.

3.Next, Do you believe that God forces people to listen and learn His will? Why or why not?

4.Finally, If we want to benefit from this wisdom, what must we do?

Wise Up! study in Proverbs

Our lives are so hectic today. From overflowing email inboxes, SmartPhones, texts, multiple calendars, exercise, meetings, kids schedules, rehearsals, games, practices, dinner, and the list could go on and on.

We are so busy that we sometimes don’t have time – No, we don’t MAKE time –to listen, to think, and to rest. We don’t make time for the things that matter, this is a margin issue.

Proverbs 8 is the voice that calls to us to listen to the counsel that will advise on the path to follow. It is an opportunity to listen to the voice of God tell us how much we are loved and cared for.

Take some time to listen, and learn the rhythms of grace that will restore and empower you to be the person you want to be.

1.Describe the kinds of things wisdom speaks?

2.Who needs wisdom according to verses 15,16?

3.How would wisdom benefit us, and how does a society suffer when wisdom is lacking in people?