Monday, December 24, 2007
Isn’t that an amazing description? And yet is is accurate. Why did this happen? Why did the Omnipotent one become so vulnerable? What is the correlation between vulnerability and intimacy? What do you think of the lyrics from the following song called Christ the Lord is Born Today?
God has sent His greatest treasure / Shown His love in greatest measure / Sending Christ to bleed and suffer / Purchasing our joy forever / Let the earth rejoice!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
In fact, Kiva has so many lenders—more than 123,000 extending $12.4 million to some 18,000 entrepreneurs in 39 countries—that it recently limited each participant to $25 per business, “so that everyone has a chance to make a Kiva loan.” Click the pic for details on how you can help end global poverty for less than the price of one Christmas present.
And remember this: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” [2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NIV]. Merry Christmas!!!
1.) In January 2007, the Fortunes moved to Toledo, Ohio. What else is Toledo famous for?
a. Mudhens Baseball
b. Tony Packo’s Hot Dogs
c. Katie Holmes
d. All of the above
2.) This year Lydia broke:
a. A little boy’s heart
b. Her daddy’s heart
c. Her mommy’s special vase
d. Her arm
3.) Which never happened?
a. Joshua got full
b. Lydia swallowed her 1st missing baby tooth
c. Joshua and Lydia’s sponsored brother and sister, Golu and Salomi, visited from India
d. Both A and C
4.) How many pairs of socks did Mike’s church give to help the homeless?
c. 3 million
d. None, they kept them all
5.) What was Joshua and Lydia’s favorite movie?
a. Born Into Brothels
b. The Boys of Baraka
c. An Inconvenient Truth
d. Evan Almighty
6.) Joshua and Lydia clean their rooms every Friday. This takes them:
a. Four score and seven years
b. Four hours
c. Four minutes
d. Until they’re done
7.) Joshua loves:
a. Playing outside
b. Playing video games on weekends
d. All of the above
8.) Lydia’s loves:
b. Watching DVDs on weekends
c. When daddy does chapel at school on Fridays
d. All of the above
9.) Who else lives with us?
a. Barkley, our dung loving dog
b. Nathan, the youth pastor
c. Joe, the homeless guy
d. Both A and B
10.) Mike’s favorite books read include:
a. The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
b. Breakthrough Prayer by Jim Cymbala
c. Dinner With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory
d. All of the above
>9 Very Fortunate—It’s all good in God’s hood!!!
>7 Fortunate—We should call you “Carwash” cause you’re automatic!
>5 Unfortunate—Never enter a battle of wits unarmed.
>3 A misfortune—There’s always next year...We still love ye!!! How many did you get right?
- Fortune Cookies: Keep ‘em coming! Wouldn’t be the same without them.“We cannot do great things; only small things with great love.” —Mother Teresa
- Fortune Cookies: Stop the presses! Would taste better once or twice a month. “Don't forget, you are always on our minds.” —an actual Fortune Cookie message
Thursday, December 13, 2007
If you don't believe me, you can see for yourself. DVD's are only $10. But wait, there's more!!! If you respond in the next 30 minutes, you'll also receive in the mail, along with your DVD, an original piece of artwork signed by Joshua or Lydia.
Orders are piling up and the artwork is going fast!!! You know what to do!!! Ho ho ho!!! Merry Christmas!!!
More recently, Catholic leaders have reiterated this emphases."On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace" Pope John Paul II. "God and our love are the condition for the unity of Christians. They are the condition for peace in the world" Pope Benedict XVI.
And most recently, on February 18, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said [click the pic to read the entirety of his talk] before several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square of Vatican City. “Dear Brothers and Sisters! This Sunday's Gospel has one of the most typical, yet most difficult, teachings of Jesus: Love your enemies (Luke 6:27). It is taken from the Gospel of Luke, but it is also found in Matthew's Gospel (5:44). But what is the meaning of his teaching?
This page of the Gospel does not consist in surrendering to evil—as claims a false interpretation of "turn the other cheek" (Luke 6:29)—but in responding to evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21) thus breaking the chain of injustice. It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not mere tactical behavior but a person's way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God's love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Herein lies the novelty of the Gospel, which changes the world without making noise. Herein lies the heroism of the "little ones," who believe in the love of God and spread it even at the cost of life."
What do you think? Would as many children be getting shot at bus stops if all the Catholics in the US followed and encouraged others to follow the Pope's advice?
The idea is once a month during winter beginning in December to treat the community and especially the ambulatory residents and family members of the two nursing homes we serve and sing in each Sabbath to be our guests once a month instead of the other way around. The response has been very encouraging! One nursing home director committed 16 guests and their families to all 4 planned events so far.
In addition to very special musics and children’s songs from our daycare and church school kids [giving us the perfect chance to mingle with their parents many of whom don't go to church], we’re going to include well known hymns and congregational singing and a variety of Christmas carols to lift their spirits and remind everyone that “God loves them like crazy!”
Which is what I believe God meant when he inspired the prophet Isaiah to write in Isaiah 46:4 [NLT] says, “I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” Refreshments will be served and the afternoon will conclude at 4:00 pm.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Please note Hybels never said that making church more comfortable for people far from God [Acts 15:19] is incompatible with deep expository preaching or teaching people to read their Bibles and pray. All he humbly admitted was Willow struggles to do so. Just like every other church!!! Admitting that isn't shocking. Celebrating it is. The Christians criticizing Hybels and Willow could instead make the same points Hybels was emphasizing. Namely, that helping those far from God get closer is a good thing and so is teaching them to feed themselves.
My pastor friend Ryan Bell said it this way, “If anything, Adventist Christians need to learn from Willow how to repent of things they’ve done wrong. What group is more program oriented than Adventism with its large-scale evangelistic campaigns? If people are eager to gloat over Willow, they should look in the mirror and learn from Willow's humility. God is clearly working with them and praise God for their ability to listen and at least try to make changes.”
Lives Lost: 9
Lives Wounded: 5+
Guns Required: 1
Merry Christmas America!!! Photo courtesy of Nati Harnik, AP
“That's the thing about Sean,” one Florida friend of the family said, “He never forgot home. Never forgot his roots.” And we will never forget you Sean. Thank you for living and dying for others!!! Click the pic above to read the rest of the Miami Herald article I'm quoting and click the pic to the left to watch the 4 minute video tribute shown at FedEx Field last Sunday and during his funeral.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Unfortunately, he didn’t sand and align the wheels or graphite the axle and neither did I. So our entry didn’t even make it to the finish line in any of its 3 heats. But together we had a lots of fun. And next year we’ll do better. We can't do any worse!!! [He DID get a ribbon for Creativity!!!]
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Baraka is about a group of 12-year-old African American boys from one of the most violent ghettos in Baltimore, Maryland that willingly travel 10,000 miles away to an experimental boarding school in rural Kenya to try to take advantage of the educational opportunities they can't get in their own country.
Brothels is about a photo journalist who gives the children of prostitutes in India's red light district 35mm cameras to take pictures of the world they live in. Without sugarcoating the environment [or showing any "National GeoGRAPHIC" pics], the children excel in their new found art while the journalist struggles to help them have a chance for a better life away from the miserable poverty that threatens to crush their dreams.
I ate supper with a guy I'll call Joe. He had 2 backpacks with him. And said he'd be happy to "watch" mine while I went to get some food after we were done serving. I figured he had to be pretty good at watching bags so I let him.
Joe was polite. Easy to talk to. And said the barbecued chicken and cole slaw and beans was the first good meal he's had in 10 months. He said if he had any money, he'd give it all to the people who made Tent City happen. Who are bringing awareness and help to those less fortunate.
I think I may "adopt" Joe. Take him out for a real meal some times. Maybe mentor him if he lets me. I want my kids to know Joe. Because God loves Joe like crazy.
In this endeavor they will honor and learn from teachings, practices, and suffering of people from religions, philosophies, and world views, different from our own. Instead of isolating themselves into like-minded groups or melting together into a single-minded organization, they will learn to live together with their differences and in a way that contributes to the wellbeing, peace, joy, and justice in the world.
What do you think of their logo? Why do you think they called this church a house? Why these religious symbols? Why separate circles? What is the fourth circle about? Why are they horizontally positioned? What about the roof? What about the foundations? Where are the walls? To learn more about Faith House, click the logo above.
To learn more about Samir and his family [yes his wife and children are with him in this!!!] , click the pic. And if you have more than you need and are thankful to God for it, would you consider joining Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren, and others in financially supporting Samir and his family as they chase the dream God gave them? Thanks for thinking about it!!!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
by Naomi Shihab Nye [Click graphic for more info]
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be 4 hours late and she did this. I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-beduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—She stopped crying. She thought our flight had been canceled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late. Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him. We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions.
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookies.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.
Reason: Lydia's Broken Wrist
We got down to Tent City a little after 11:00 am. It took awhile to get comfortable, if you could get comfortable there. I finally just dove into the clothing tent. What can I do? BAGS and BAGS of clothes lay on the floor. They needed to be sorted by size. So I'm ripping open the bags, placing them on the table and I would turn around and they would be gone. Put out more. The "good" clothes went the fastest. Jeans, hooded sweatshirts etc. I found out that socks are like gold and can be used for bartering. I was amazed. We kept socks behind the counter because we could only give out 2 per "customer."
Two women stand out to me. Val was late 20's I think. I was helping her find a few things in her size. Then I noticed her yellow bag was getting full [she had everything crammed down in it] so I asked her if she needed another bag and she said yes. I gave her another plastic grocery bag. But then I remembered I had seen a thin cheap ProMedica tote bag. You know the kind companies give away with their name plastered all over? I said, "Oh, wait I saw a bag with handles!" Mike, you would have thought I had given her a leather hand bag! She quickly dumped her items out, put in her shoes first and from there it just got filled up with her stuff. She kept saying over and over "This is so great of you guys, thank you, thank you...Oh this is nice it has handles..." She's someone's daughter and her life is in a Promedica bag.
Barb is about 60 I'd say. She wasn't eating and I asked her if she was ok and did she need anything. Turns out she has a tumor in her stomach. She's getting it checked out NEXT MONTH when the Dr. comes by the YWCA where she lives. She's lost weight because she can't eat. She can't eat anything that is hard to digest. Hello, Chili and Pizza is not what she could eat. I felt so bad. All she wanted is something she could digest. I told her to just eat a little of everything and eat slowly and maybe it wouldn't hurt her stomach. I got her some fruit, bread and potato salad. She ate the bread and a bite or two of the salad. She didn't eat the apple because of a toothache she had. She's waiting to see another Dr. for that. She's probably someone's Mom and she's living at the YWCA...I am just amazed....
Oh and about the trash cans. Cardboard boxes with the black liners in them. The clear bags go into the black liners. I saw people taking the black liners out of the emptied trash cans. I didn't realize at first, I thought they were ripped or whatever and this guy is helping...I found out later that if you leave a thick black trash can liner just for the taking. It will be taken! As I was leaving I saw a "helper" with a huge roll of thick black trash can liners, just passing them out to anyone who wanted one. WOW, a clean black bag! Who would have thought?
The people were very nice and more than one thanked me for coming to help but honestly I felt like I was the one being helped. I was amazed by how nice they were. So polite. Not that I thought they'd be "different", maybe just a little more bitter than they were. I guess that is what I didn't see, bitterness.
Friday, November 02, 2007
1. Use popular culture as a communication tool
2. Understand your own cultural biases
3. Be intent on building relationships
4. Love without condition or limits
5. Provide a place and community
6. Be a learning listener
7. Be a person of grace
Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. Do yourself a favor and sign up for Walt's weekly email by clicking the graphic above.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Apparently, most volunteers mass assemble sandwiches the night before and don't put mayo on them. We made ours that morning. With plenty of condiments on the side. Isn't it amazing how much mayo means? Who knew that a pickle and mustard could most powerfully proclaim the lavish love of God?
After lunch, I met a 19 year old guy who showed me his healing stab wounds. [Suffered elsewhere the previous week, not at Cherry Street Mission]. But he smiled just as wide when explaining that he's almost got his GED. I was about to slap him on the back, but half way there remembered his stab wounds, and settled for a big stretch and a hearty WTG!!! I also met a middle aged woman who stayed long enough to tell me she'd love it if we did a regular chapel service on Saturday nights followed by an untalent show or karaoke. She couldn't stay longer because she had to get in line at 2pm for the women's shelter opening at 4pm. Will our church really leave the building? To be continued...
Thursday, October 18, 2007
But since it's been a few months since your contribution and we have not yet been able to purchase the Better Bus For Us as described, I wanted you to know the status of your contribution so we could know how you want us to handle it.
So if you were one of those who contributed, you will be receiving a USPS letter from me soon. When you get it, would you please respond by checking one of the options on the card included in the envelope best indicating to us your desire for your previous contribution and mail it back to us in the self addressed stamped envelope?
If you weren't able to help us earlier but still would like to help us purchase the Better Bus For Us, you could do so by posting a comment with one of the options below then sending your check to payable to Toledo First with "Bus" on the memo line to:
4909 West Sylvania Ave
Toledo OH 43623
Whatever you decide, thank you for your willingness to partner with us showing those in the mission field of Toledo that God loves them like crazy and that knowing Jesus is worth the ride!!! Way to go!!!
- Option #1 - Sorry you missed the bus. I'd like my money back.
- Option #2 - Sorry you missed the bus. Keep my money till God gives you the Better Bus For Us.
- Option #3 - Sorry you missed the bus. To cheer you up, here's some more money to help you buy the Better Bus For Us.
As she explained to me, they are cheering for the race car with the awesome engine sticking out the front. [Duh!!! Those are NOT lips DAD!!!] As a kindergartner, she knows how to spell her name and can recognize and sound out the letters A thru H in the alphabet. Obviously, there are sunshine and thunder clouds in our world and hers. But when they arrive I remind her:
I love you when you're good / I love you when you're bad / I love you when you're happy / I love you when you're sad / There's nothing you can do / To make me love you more / There's nothing you can do / To make me love you less / And God feels the same way / BUT, there's still consequences...
The next day, Doris took Hannah to purchase and distribute socks to local shelters. As they've continued collecting and donating socks to grateful shelters around Toledo, their dream of helping even more people has grown into a non-profit focused on helping the less fortunate have warm feet and warm hearts. Can one little girl with a big heart make a world of difference? Hannah already is!!! And we can help her!!!
Click on the graphic for more info OR just plan to bring a few six packs of adult socks to the massive RingFest2007 Bell Choir concert at Toledo First on FRI OCT 26 @ 7:30 pm!!! See you there!!!