Flights of Faith

Friday, August 28, 2009

Don't Cry, Someone Is Here to Help Us

Jesus Raises a Widow's Son

11Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry."
14Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" 15The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

16They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." 17This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea[a] and the surrounding country.

This story is quickly becoming one of my favorite scriptures. If one of your life goals is to follow Jesus, I think it's very encouraging. In our society, we usually ask questions of "Is this God's will", "what would Jesus do?", "Do I need to hear an audible voice to go ahead with this good work?" In some ways, those are still helpful questions. However, they take time when asked in the moment. And it's time we usually do not have. In this story, Jesus behaves very differently.


- is moved by a situation where all is not known
- vocalizes that emotion
- follows up his speech with action
- speaks to the problem directly, not God's opinion about the problem
- quietly speaks and performs truths about who he is (human and divine; compassionate and powerful) without religiosity or manipulation

Jesus is a teacher with authority. In this authority, I think there is an everyday preparation. Why am I here? Who sent me? What am I about? What can I do about that? From these mission statement type questions, I think Jesus and his followers can act quickly while still being obedient to God. They know their Father.

And given these passages:

1When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:1-2)

19I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:19-20)

8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

We have the same authority too. Unity in and through the name of Jesus, God's son, connected to us through the Holy Spirit. It's an authority that does not come through theologizing until a conclusion is made. It is an authority that comes from doing what the Father is doing. And if we have trouble with that thought, we can look at what the Father is doing with child-like eyes.

What seems wrong when you're three feet tall? Your parents getting sick, people fighting because of different colors, nations not sharing, people seeming to be caught up in sadness or mood swings. A lot of stuff has a huge "smack fist on table" that-is-wrong quality about it. Then, we get used to it. People tell us this is the way that life is.


Jesus seems to be warming those surrounding him in these passage. Don't cry. I am here. I am help. The boy can live through me. Assurance that love is stronger than death. A memorial can be not just a celebration (at its best, that is), but NEW memories. Life continues.

And the people shout out, full of hope, "God has come to help his people!"

Isn't that worth trying this Jesus authority stuff out? I think it is. Let's do it together.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What Are We Gonna Do About This?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Being Known

This trip is almost over. I have been stealing away a lot - to read or to write. Sometimes, I would just take a walk. There is been a company of us on this tour of Southern Africa. Often, I have wondered how am I being loving to these people? Am I just that guy on a bus with his nose in the book? Can I explain that this trip was more of a mission, more of a personal retreat? Or am I just an outsider condemned to misunderstanding?

To be honest, I had to commit to a subdued presense earlier on in Capetown. This is a necessary time for me to process and to grow. It needed to be a time of receiving. I prayed against appearing aloof but, sometimes, we need to make tough choices no matter what others think. Perception alone does not seem to be a Kingdom value. I will be the odd grasshopper in a sky of social butterflies.

Thankfully, there is a graceful God out there. It seems as if a life lived for Him - even a struggling one - produces a known-ness in us.

At dinner last night, people knew me. The words they said about me or my relationship with my dad or their hopes about my future. They connect to my story. They are not simply words I want to hear or general well wishes. They are things God has whispered, my family and friends have spoken, and prophets have made known. I felt echoes from times where I stripped away other voices and sat still with a loving and merciful God. We all have potential to see what He sees. That's what makes this world so confusing but also so amazing. We all can see. We all can hear. God's presence overflows. If we are all made in His image and God promised through Abraham to bless ALL people, then doesn't that make perfect sense?

There is a God who empowers us to experience true things without checking a box first.

And I'd like to say I knew bits and pieces of them. Not necessarily by their relation to faith, but by their relation to this world, to each other, to this land called Africa. It's someone's passion for urban youth education and the frustrations that come from a South Africa that thirsts for more schools while her New York City reality is dropouts who had a path. It's a couple that still holds hands in their sixties and finds birdwatching peaceful and exciting. It's people experiencing a moment of truth in Soweto, site of many uprisings - this was not right and we cannot forget. These are either random things or Someone does not want our story to start just when we open up a book or enter a building.

God is a force in this universe acting regardless of our words and actions. We subscribe to truth claims as a human action of categorization and a supposed demonstration of alignment; He is simply truth.

Truth with a mission. Truth with a vision. Truth that has a past, present, and a future.

This is where we walk into the deep because we are all looking for something - whatever we define as treasure or the good life. We even look at outside situations this way.

What would fix Zimbabwe? Is it us, is it money, is it just Mugabe out of power, is it the uprising of a people?

Or is it a man who made some promises a long time ago? Is it in a sacrificial love that lays down selfish ambition for the possibility of upward momentum for more than just self (and then downward momentum to reach even more)? Is it love - not on a whim, not because it's all we need, not as a last resort, and not because it's the only thing we can agree on - but is it love because there is a Power in a love that is forever? A power that is undoing the work of death and producing life in its wake. A power that does not bless tyranny, but rewards humble servants. Is it that offer being made equal to the jobless, the teachers, the mothers, the hotel worker, the carpenter, and even Mugabe himself?


We say it starts with a choice but maybe it is less of the way we are choosing to see the world and more a choice of who we will let see us. It is allowing that Love to not affect simply a broken country, but a broken self. It involves disassociating ourselves from an identity as Savior and humbling ourselves to be saved.

It is about being known - letting the Seer see us. It is about the fear and trembling of stepping into that space and then meeting two eyes of unyielding fire. The blaze is close, but we are not burned. It is about looking into those eyes - that do not seem to ever look away - and realizing we are loved without measure. It is knowing that in those eyes, enough has been made and enough will be provided.

There is finally rest for the weary and in our dreams, we are made known by this jealous love.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


"The biggest problem with Zimbabwe is the mosquitoes." Our tour guide was not telling a joke; he was serious.

Lies. This country is a mess right now. One U.S. dollar = more than a trillion Zimbabwean dollars. People literally flung money at one woman I've traveling with who gave -- two dollars for some souvenir money. She is now a Zimbabwean trillionaire.

It's so crazy the national currency of Zimbabwe is...the U.S. dollar. They are putting it in their ATMs here. The banks are shutdown because of that turnover. Craziness.

On the Zambezi river, we saw sparkling water, Victoria Falls in the distance, hippos, crocodiles, and a beautiful sunset. I also met a man named Razon, freezing in the low 50s weather. It's winter here. He was only wearing a skimpy skinned short and vest getup. He was portraying a Zulu warrior. That is, he was, until he stepped out of character.

"I'm suffering."
I look at him. I start praying.
"I am freezing out here. I don't want to be a warrior. I just am doing this because I need a job for my family. I don't want to be a warrior. We are suffering here."
I asked him about his family and their situation.
At that point, it became hard to hear him. I just knew he wanted my room number for something, told me it was something he couldn't tell his boss, and it's up to me what to decide. It definitely seemed unsafe and unclear, so I ruled against it.

It's weird when the only real thing you have to offer is Jesus. As I was about to tell him about Jesus, he got called upon to dock. It would have been a short conversation about Jesus and prayer. The way He sustains us, provides what we need, and blesses us to bless others. And how I'm gonna commit to doing that for him regardless of his actions or decisions. I'll pray for him tonight. I think I picked up five or six people to pray for from this trip. Katherine, my guide at Home for Hope, two old friends I met up with at Capetown, Jonas from the National park, David from Soweto, and Razon. Now, I've just gotta stay committed and hopefully contact all of them by mail, e-mail or post, soon.

Last full day in Zimbabwe and in Africa tomorrow. It's been an amazing trip, in a lot of ways. 3 countries, 6 or 7 cities, interesting folks around, 6 or so books read, and in the midst of 3 or 4 now. Lot more to report from the past week or so. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm sneezing and feel a bit warm so please pray healing prayers for me. No malaria. No swine flu. Don't want you! No, no, no. Also, just pray for some more energy. I'd love to fly back full of life, health, and Light. Gonna advance to the bedroom for some prayer and scripture. DOB (more on him later) told me to go through Isaiah (more on that later too, haha) so I'm at the first half of that. Might read the Beatitudes once more just cause they're rocking.

Love you all.

Monday, August 17, 2009

South Africa and the Kingdom

Man, I've got tons of posts sitting on the dock. I wanna go chronologically so some of these might hit the streets a little bit later. I'll break the timeline for now. I'm in Johannesburg, and I visited Soweto today. Intense stuff. God's speaking, and I'm trying to catch what he's saying.

5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:5-8)

I love this promise, and I've been putting it to the test. South Africa is a confusing place, and I definitely need God to shed some light on what's happening. Confusion doesn't mean the country is far from God. In fact, I see a lot of Christ's ministry happening in this place. Truth and reconciliation as a way of healing, HIV/AIDS missions, the arts and creativity as a frontier in learning, and the new possibilities that are required when building cities to mark a new page in a nation's history. Besides China, I think it's one of the only countries I've visited that is relatively aware of its own evolution. It's an exciting time. Some similarities too; China reaching awareness as the Beijing Olmpics arrives, South Africa gaining momentum as the World Cup descends on the bottom of the African continent.

Thinking on that scale, I started dwelling on Kingdom countries and the possibility of movements (that would be eventually politicized, not inherently political) starting based on people bringing God's kingdom in this world. Jesus proclaims and demonstrates healings and casting out darkness as individual encounters with people, but he also talks about the year of Jubilee, upside-down social order, peacemaking, and reconciliation. If practiced, these things would rock nations.

It makes me wonder how we integrate the two. It also makes me seriously ponder leadership in any of these movements. Just think if former President Mandela or even Bishop Tutu healed people (maybe they have, I don't know) through prayer in the Spirit. People would be flipping out. There's something about Jesus that's so reassuring: he did not become a political figure in any modern sense. He was aware of political ideology and shrewdly incorporated that into his message, but he was never after political power. He was merely politicized in that way. It really makes me wonder the possibilites political leaders have in Kingdom building.

I definitely get caught up in stories like this, and I wonder how mine will unfold now that I'm more aware of South Africa's narrative. I returned to Jerusalem and Sydney after visiting what I found to be fascinatingly complicated places. I had been thinking of doing something in Africa next summer with friend before this trip, but we were envisioning West not South Africa. Hmm. More wisdom needed.

Zimbabwe tomorrow. Given what's going on with the rest of the country, it's disturbing that because of Victoria Falls so many tourists come through the area. I guess the tourism might be helping in some ways, but Mugabe needs to be confronted. Ironic that we'd visit a formerly boycotted country because of apartheid and then visit Zimbabwe. Currently, 1 dollar equals 30 trillion Zimbabwean dollars. The result: their official currency is the U.S. dollar. Craziness. They're even outfitting their ATMs with dollars now. The average salary is around 60 to 90 dollars a month.

Let Your Kingdom come...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pride and Humility or A Prickly Bush Sitting on a Field of Treasure

In the same way someone cannot really self-report humility as his or her greatest strength, I am not sure if we can truly report pride as our greatest weakness. I know I've been tempted to do that. Both acts, are themselves, somewhat internally contradictory. In fact, it seems pride is cemented through action: disobedience. Decisions, choices, even declaratory statements in one's mind that boast without Christ. Pride as a feeling that's rebuked soon after...this seems to be much less a weakness and much more of an attack.

Why am I making such a distinction--perhaps, even an excuse? It is because people seem to misunderstand pride and humility to the point where they cannot serve God fully or even at all while still desiring to do so. I'm convinced that if that's the result of a certain thinking or philosophy, then it's not really a helpful one. I think to myself sometimes, "What am I even proud of?" "What have I accomplished "on my own?" To be clear, that's not putting myself down (another unhelpful "humility theology") it's acknowledging that all of my "great" or "good" actions are inspired, supported, and fueled by God, my family, friends, past actions, prayers of strangers. I'll never know how much of an act was me and that's completely fine! The only thing on me is to commit to people, situations, or actions. I commit to the showing up and the doing. We do cooperate with God to will our bodies to move. Jesus simply had to walk to the Cross; everyone else did the rest. In his walking though, Jesus can boast in the God who ordered him there!

Honestly, how foolish was Satan to think that he could stand against the one who created him, who created this world, who created the people the enemy would come to torment? Then, I realize all of my selfish pride works to fuel this evil force in the world. Get back Accuser in the name of the one with true Power Jesus! To me, pride is knowing that whole story and still choosing to rebel. I wonder how much guilt and shame is in the self-report of pride as opposed to a mourning that recognizes how little we value others, how we can be prone not to worship God's involvement in our lives? If it's the former, I think that might be another form of attack. It starts a cycle of self-loathing when the entire problem is just that, the self! We need to add others into the mix. Most importantly, God! And then, we love them. Love God until we worship Him and love others until we serve them. We rebuke attacks of pride, and we worship and serve in place of feeling guilty or ashamed. It's an active theology based on Jesus' life.

I guess we're looking for a "Jesus quick fix solution" since He appears naturally perfect. Look at everything else though: faith, obedience, love, service, compassion, deep intimacy with the Father, etc. It is about walking with God and becoming pure. Let's not let attacks of condemnation keep us from walking with a God who loves us no matter what. He walks on the narrow path, the humble path. Even if we stumble, we are still choosing to bow down.

Holy Spirit, protect us with the shield of faith. Give us faith to believe in a Father who does not sever ties based on our thoughts or actions - big or small, in our minds. Encourage us to become friends with Jesus, our humble King, and to learn His ways Let us know and feel that this path will give us sight and vision of you, not cloudy vision or a distorted image. God, give us Your power to rebuke and cast out the Enemy just as you shut him out of the heavens with the Victory of Your Son. Living Spirit, keep ministering to us gently. Thank You for giving us vision to recognize sin, pulling us from it, and then reorienting us towards a new path that we can walk down confidently. Lift up our heads to remind us of Your love and then nudge us to look lower still to keep building this upside-down Kingdom. We thank You and praise You, Father.

In Jesus' name,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hunger, Thirst

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6

See my hunger, God. Increase it.
See my thirst, God. Increase it.

The God who multiplies our need, so He can multiply His miracles.

Thank God both our endless.

Holy Spirit, come.


Well, we'll see if my dream was symbolic or literal tomorrow. Lions, rhinoceroses, and wildebeests. Aimed for Holy Spirit destruction of the first (David, Samson), confused by the second, dragged down from a wall by the third though I eventually body checked it. Ran to a barn in the end. Get at me with any interpretations. Hopefully, it won't be too late. Half-joke.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I am visiting the 'Home of Hope' today, a place for youth affected by HIV/AIDS run by some Vineyard folk in Capetown.  I thank God for the opportunity to witness such a community of love and healing.  I pray God I'll be able to step into that circle today.

Earlier, I visited my third slave lodge/castle in Africa (the first two in Ghana).  This one was the lodge prisoners stayed in before heading to Robben Island, made famous by Nelson Mandela's presence there.  God, break through our constructions our evil.  Destroy our systems to rebuild your own ways of righteousness.  My reaction can only be that prayer.  Almost everywhere I've gone, I become a witness to the effects (and after effects) of large scale societal evil.  Most times, it's changed my academic direction.  This time is no different.  More on that later.

I'll be attending some prayer meetings later, so pray on those things as well.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pursuit and Emulation of My Father or Happiness and Joy

The first day I was in London with my Dad we were on the move. For some reason, my Dad has taken up a hobby of seeing Shakespeare plays wherever they may be. I honestly don't understand it, but we've all got our crazy. And I like Ol' Shakes. This time we were running for 'Romeo and Juliet' to be performed at the Globe Theater along the Thames.

I never know how to react when overtaken by happiness. It just starts to clothe me and then envelope me and then I am bursting with its joy. It's a manifestation of a joy I hope I feel pretty consistently. Early on in life, I chose not to seek happiness; instead, I was encouraged to choose joy. It has stuck with me even though happiness is more available these days. I still think about that commitment with a small amount of longing. What would chasing down happiness look like for me? Yes, this might be semantical but there seems to be importance in the distinction. The choice of joy without happiness enables one to more fully embrace suffering. In turn, it makes happiness somewhat foreign, a rare treat.

And this treat in London was delicious. I relished in following my Dad. He's such a shepherd. He will clearly make a path for me (and others) to follow but will always look back casually. If I ever go left around a pole and he's gone right, he'll make no fuss at first. Then, his left eye will survey his side. He is looking for his flock. If they are unseen, his head will whip like lightning until he's got confirmation of my location. He nods or smiles and then he's back to surveying the field. I love to be led -- by him and by others I trust. I do not walk or follow as much as I dance. I weave to the right to pass a crowd, to the left to avoid a small child. I am smiling all the while. I could be looking for signs for the Globe, but I choose against it. I just want to be free to follow, free to dance. There is freedom in being led by someone you trust.

Sometimes, my Dad would burst into a slight jog. It only took the instrumental version of Billie Jean randomly appearing on my iPod to develop a groove within me. I begin running too. Shoulders bopping, feet hopping. The Thames was the background for my music video. It was strange to so quickly pass my Dad, the man I used to race against. I pass him and become the leader. Our path is simply a straight one now. I dance, run, dance and run, stop, let my Dad catch up. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then, we found out we were on the wrong side of the river. Thankfully, Millenium Bridge (pictured at the top and bottom) was there to help us out. We see its entry point. I look at my Dad, get silent permission, and then I begin to run. Never stopping, only pivoting, I dance across. My arms open wide, at times. I recognize my crazy appearance and delight in it. I am known over the water. People might be confused but my God understands. There is a time for this. This is it. I recognize my own happiness and joy, and I burst again. This is what is set apart for us. We will run and not grow weary. Water will flow forth like a river of His desires. I pass a homeless man. Guilt does not consume me. I stop for this homeless man. I attempt to share some joy with this homeless man. Then, I run on. As I exit the left ramp, I see my Dad on the right ramp. We are united. Five fingers extend and a connection is made. High five for finding what was lost. The Globe is near. We are not late to Shakespere's tragedy.

Five Men? And the search begins.

I landed in Capetown, South Africa this morning.  After a bit of a rest, we took to the neighborhood.  We were greeted by four men who helped end apartheid in South Africa.  Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela are 2 and 4 in the lineup.  Of course, my Dad asked me to stand next to Nelson Mandela.  At this point in life, I know obliging to the photo op is the best route available.  Stepping away from Mandela, I got called back by a random man who also wanted to take my picture with Nelson. Ha!  

"Are you African?"
I smiled.  Without saying no, I answered, "I'm American."
For the record, he was French...and a very excited man.

Light moments like that are needed.

A lot of questions are running through my mind.  Most have to deal with the question of worldview, specifically African worldviews and African American ones.  

From the beginning of an African presence in America, black people seemed to take to the Gospel.  It makes me wonder because black people inserted themselves into the Exodus story and as people known by Jesus as suffering but coming home to Him.  Where was the Kingdom? I can surely think of heroic narratives like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, to name a few, but who caught hold of the Kingdom message and preached it with proclamation and demonstration?  I'm concerned that silence on the issue caused black intellectuals like W.E.B. DuBois (among others) to end up disillusioned in Christianity and lost on a spiritual quest for political rights and third world solidarity.  I'm a fan of the latter two goals, but I believe Jesus has a good deal to do with those topics.  I must be not looking hard enough.  I really hope that.

UPDATE:  Charles Harrison Mason and Charles Price Jones of Church of God in Christ and the Holiness Movement may give some answers to this question.  New research topic.  

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Late Night Stroll

I stayed out last night.  Trafalgar Square and its beautiful coloured fountains called out to me.  The four lions majestically stared to their corners of the world.  They have seen a lot.  I wonder if they long to crane their necks upwards at night to take a look at the stars.  I did that.

I asked God to guide me last night.  I asked if He had anything for me to do.  I simply wanted to hear His voice and act.  I want this heart to be a servant’s heart.  I cracked open a book and sat on a bench. 

“10 pounds for 5 grams! No.  Listen! 5 grams.”

A drug deal was being arranged right next to me.  The same bench.  I prayed and nothing became clearer.  Five chapters into the book and drug dealers gone, I decided to walk around London’s version of Time Square. 

I was listening for a still small voice or a thunder clash.  I did not really hear either.  Yet, I saw His people.  I saw His people spill across the street, packed into McDonalds, yelling and dancing and being foul-mouthed and almost falling.  I felt led to love them.  Love without judging, but also without desiring a glitzy London night out.  I was set apart through choices, not “goodness.” 

The spectrum of color was awe-inspiring.  Of course, the billboards and the lights shone every color of the rainbow.  The people, though, radiated pinks, olives, browns, and blacks.  Traditional African clothes on one family, scarves adorned in another, zoot suits on young men of any color.  Everyone is so stylish here.  His people were on the move but where were they going? And where was I going?  We were just walking together, I guess.  One big group. 

There were some tears, yells abounded, kisses were more displayed than stolen, and there was that vomit I sidestepped.  As I tried to discern His voice, I think I just heard my own thinking – though it did sound like something like He might think.

“They are my people, and I love them.  You try to find my face with the poor, and I am there (I had just read ‘Always Enough’ by Heidi and Rolland Baker).  I am here too.  Are these people rich?  These are my people.  Love them.”

I pondered that.  I don’t know where I am called to in this world.  I would love for God to fill me with His compassion and strength in order to sustain a life lived amidst the poor in the West or elsewhere.  The poor seems like such a direct call with their obvious hunger and desire for transformation. 

Yet, the Shepherd is jealous for His sheep and He’s not going to stop under the bridges of London.  He will march towards Trafalgar Square.  He will be present in a McDonalds overflowing with people hungry after tireless dancing.  He desires to be their rest and to laugh with them.  God, how we must sadden and taunt you not just with our sin, but with our distance.  I guess it’s a  similar thing.

God, complete the work you are doing in me.  I don’t really know what you spoke last night.  I don’t know if I missed it entirely or if you just wanted to expand my heart for Your people and Your kingdom through witnessing what Your eyes see all the time.  I hope my eyes were opened to more of Your reality.

Maybe it was simply my shirt, I thought, on the way back.  I noticed many people did a double take at its black background and white, blue, yellow, green, and pink colors.  ALIVE:  WAKE UP, YOU’RE ALIVE, WE’RE ON YOUR SIDE.

God, help me remember that.

You are on our side. 

I hope and pray I am on yours.


Friday, August 07, 2009

A Trip, Not a Vacation from the Flight

I'm traveling again.

I landlocked myself last summer because I felt like leaving the states would be escape for me.  It would not be about growth; instead, it would intentionally dizzy myself.  I needed to be steady.  It was a great decision.  I grew my roots.  These roots were tied to my God, my story, my city, and my friends. 

Since then, I've rarely left.  Three or four times, I think.  Things have changed, and I'm ready to fly again.  I'm on a mission in this life that will not be deterred through tourist traps or appetizing attractions.  

My vision for this journey is one of personal growth and casting vision.  I have big dreams and it'll be great for me to sit with them and to see which ones are from God, which ones need his input, and which ones just need to be forgotten.  I hope there are more of the first two types.

Let the Flight continue.

Monday, August 03, 2009


I'm always falling, but so far I'm always getting up.