In the chaos of faith, rebellion and obedience

Archive for January, 2009

Greater Things – Leadership Retreat 2009

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 30, 2009


it can’t believe that it is upon us already.
i feel that it really snuck up on us this year…
nonetheless, it was actually a pretty peaceful process- though like every year, there were many late nights for many people this week of.
it should be a great time away though. i’m really excited about our theme (logo above), main sessions, breakouts, and of course the usual comedy and fun.

i was explaining one of the ‘bits’ to a friend last night and they were like: ‘it sounds like summer camp.’ lol, i never went to summer camp, but i took it as a compliment.

aside from the fun and games though, we are really praying that our leaders have a true encounter with God during the crazy 22 hours-
we’ll kickoff friday evening with worship, and end saturday evening with communion and commissioning. we desperately need the help of the Lord as we enter another year of service to Him.

if you are interested in following along with the full schedule you can find it here!
(ncc leadership retreat 2009)



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Sanctified Teaching

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 28, 2009

we’re all getting ready for the ncc leadership retreat this weekend around here. i think we are nearing 180 leaders that will be in attendance.
the point of the retreat is to get all of our small group, ministry and potential leaders away from the city for a day and cast vision for the year- the packed in 22 hours includes worship, teaching, break-outs, and of course fun.

i’m leading two break-outs this year. the topics are:
‘missions and service’ and ‘moving beyond superficiality in community’

as i am preparing these two sessions this week, the Lord led me to an interesting passage yesterday- it was a really great and timely reminder about where to draw from and where to give glory, when teaching.

john 7:16-18 (niv)
Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.


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Posted by justicetabernacle on January 24, 2009

there are so many weird tensions in life. so many paradoxes in the journey of faith.

i’m feeling a bit introspective today. as i get older and gather more and more experiences, there is a tension between embracing that wisdom, and becoming arrogant.
there is a tension between the reality you come to know through seeing more and being around longer, and wanting to hold on to the idealism that has shaped your life up to this point.
there is a tension between wanting to be philosophical, theological, existential, and wanting to be practical and efficient.

i had a chat with one of my roommates early this morning- and i revealed something about the way that i view life:
i see and recognize the depravity and reality of the fallen state of man through individuals. this is a hard reality in the moment- however, i have great hope in the potential of any given person.
this is a dual understanding of life… and though, on the surface it perhaps comes across as cynical, it is still very optimistic on a deeper level. (Mark 10:27)


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The Gospel

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 22, 2009


for those of you who were out on the mall for the inauguration and were anywhere in the vicinity of the washington monument, you may perhaps have seen these sign wielding individuals.

along with the commercialization of the event (which i mentioned in my post from yesterday) this was one of the more disturbing observations of the inauguration day.

i’m not quite sure where these individuals came from- but they made their presence well known to the masses- through signs, shirts and bullhorns. they presented their message of the gospel- self-proclaiming that they were merely carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)

i ended up speaking with one of these individuals, who approached me as i looked upon the spectacle. obviously their presence at the event drew attention from many. as i looked upon, what i considered some of the worst examples of our humanity from both sides (the cold, superficial nature of the slogans of the signs and utter disregard for meaningful dialogue from the one side- and the horrible insulting banter of those who found them offensive on the other side) as we watched, the man asked me what i thought about it. thinking that he was a mere fellow onlooker, i responded that i felt it was an ineffective way to spread the good news of the the Gospel. at that point, he made it clear that he was with them as he corrected me that it was just ‘gospel,’ not ‘good news of the gospel.’ (i informed him that the greek word for gospel euaggelion- already entails that the news is good. so- though perhaps slightly redundant, it was not incorrect)

this of course sparked a lengthy conversation about life, faith and this kind of ‘evangelistic’ action. he quoted scripture, and i returned with scripture. i asked him to consider love, and he stated that love will not save me from hell, and that only recognition of sin and repentance will. i found out that they felt they were loving people by helping expose their sin, which in their mind is the only way that people can find their way to God. though, i agreed with some of their theology- i abhorred their methodology. to that end he said that paul wrote, as long as the name of Jesus is preached, that is all that matters- which basically meant that even if they were false teachers or had false motives- they were still giving God glory. if you read the passage this is only partially true, and i am not sure the context matches up either.

from a freedom of speech standpoint- i obviously have no problem with these guys being out there. actually i give them credit for their boldness and perseverance in the face of the cold and the verbal abuse…

however, i do not give them credit for being counter-productive for the Kingdom of God. i would love to hear the testimony of one person, who came to know God that afternoon due to the presence of these men. and even if there was one, how many more turned further away from Him, due to the misrepresentation of what it means and looks like when you are bound to Christ. how many went on to despise the church, God’s very own people, because of this false example, of what is manifested in one’s life when the everlasting Spirit of peace and love- all that comes from being rooted in Christ and having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit- abounds in your soul. How many?

++one disclaimer- i actually like and agree with what is written on the sign that is most visible in the picture above. i do believe that we need to strive for change and hope in Christ, not in obama-
that support is negated however, due to what is on the back of the guy’s sweatshirt holding the sign, which reads ‘turn or burn.’ lol- really… people still say that…? sadly.


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Inauguration Reflections

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 21, 2009

it was all a little weird…
that is really the only answer i can give to people when they ask me how the inauguration was.

i guess it was part surreal, part cold, part expectations, part theology…
what does that mean? exactly… i’m not quite sure either.

four years ago on the bush 2 inauguration day, the city was just as abuzz, but with a totally different vibe. there were protests all over- the streets were filled with clashes between anarchists and folks in tuxes and furs.
this time around, there was very little of that.

nonetheless, i wanted to stand together with those who were meeting to spread messages of peace, and raise a voice to the things that they did ‘expect’ from the new president- like fighting against corporate interests and big oil, the wars, guantanamo, etc… so i headed down to mcpherson square- and to my surprise and disappointment, the place was nearly empty. yes, there were a few tents and a few handfuls of people milling around- but by no means was there a critical mass. i guess, most were caught up on the mall as well.

so i took my little sign, which had matthew 5:9 written out, and walked against the crowds that were pouring down h st. trying to reach the 18th st. entrance to the mall… i got a few pics taken, a few amens, a few mere recitals of the verse- but again, it all seemed just a little weird.

eventually i walked all the way down to 13th and e st. and back around- making it to one of the jumbo-trons next to the washington monument just in time to see the oath and the speech.

as i stood among thousands, still, weird was the feeling of the day-
i’m not sure if it was the mere mass. or the over commercialization of the event (you could buy obama anything: see pic below) the glorification and almost idol worship of the man…
all of these feelings raced through my mind- as the cheers and chants filled the air on the mall- as well as during the mass exodus back into the city- i know that hope is powerful in a time of desperation. and i know that this presidency has its place in history due to the racial implications… but still i sit and ponder the meaning of yesterday- and it somehow never really gets beyond that initial stage of weird.

some pics for a glimpse:

security buffer zone for the mall

the security buffer zone for the mall

the crowd

the crowd

the oath

the oath

the capitalism

the capitalism


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Inauguration 2009

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 20, 2009

today barack obama will become the next u.s. president.
in many ways the day is historic, and those things have been well recognized and noted.

living in d.c. times like the inaugural are interesting- as there are people from all over the country that flock to the city.  you wake up to helicopters and sirens.  the streets are jammed with cars, pedestrians, police, and much more.  what is a daily walk for those who live here, is an exciting adventure to many.

so as the day moves forward with all of the fanfare and ritual that accompanies the presidency, there will be a myriad of activities.  from parades to protests.

i myself, will be biking down to join rallies for peace.
i’ll post more reflections and pictures in the days to come-


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Posted by justicetabernacle on January 19, 2009

most recognize mlk jr. for his great accomplishments in civil rights- yet many forget that he was an amazing voice for peace and non-violence.
here i share a few of his inspiring quotes-
how we desperately need such voices in a time like now.
let us, the church, continue to strive to show love and peace to our fellow man, whether neighbor or enemy…

“The principle of nonviolent resistance seeks to reconcile the truths of two opposites – acquiescence and violence – while avoiding the extremes and immoralities of both. The nonviolent resister agress with the person who acquisces that one should not be physically agressive toward his opponent; but he balances the equation by agreeing with the person of violence that evil must be resisted. He avoids the nonresistance of the former and the violent resistance of the latter. With nonviolent resistance, no invidual or group need to submit to any wrong, nor need anyone resort to violence in order to right a wrong.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.


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Dumpster Diving

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 16, 2009


mmmm- don’t you just love trader joe’s…?  well it tastes even better when it’s free.  every so often our house (i haven’t yet had the privilege to join yet) heads out to a trader joe’s in the dc suburbs and ‘rescues’ all kinds of great food that is tossed at the end of the day.  it’s amazing how much edible food an average grocery store will discard every day.  the pic above is our latest bounty.

now, i know the logistics of it are impossible and unrealistic to say that this food could go to feed people who are starving- but it does cause you to at least think in that paradigm.  the fact that the food an average grocery store tosses in a dumpster each night could save a ton of lives, is at least a good tangible example of our luxury (yes even food can be such) and excess.

‘saving’ this food, has many benefits and purposes in our eyes.  first of all, it saves on our house grocery bill.  but beyond that, it is an act of conservation in many ways-  it is also an act of redistribution and community, as we share a lot of the stuff we get.  i handed a few bags of bread, muffins and pasteries to friends, and this afternoon, i’ll take a load up to our homeless guys at union station.  finally, it just tastes a little better- knowing that it was bound for a landfill and that there was an adventure behind its acquisition, adds an extra ingredient to the meal.

this simple act is not going to solve the hunger crisis- or save the environment-  it is not even saving us millions-  but it is a small act that can stand as an example of a creative alternative choice.  maybe it’ll inspire someone, or make a small dent in a society of extravagance and choice.

(by the way, if you’re wondering the kind of stuff that we get: a lot of ‘sell by- date of or next day on breads, pasteries, cookies, frozens, etc.  damaged packaging, ripe fruit, and much more.)


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Cold and the 80’s

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 15, 2009

so this morning i left the house with plenty of time to punctually arrive at work- however, our wonderful dc bus system had something to say about that.  two scheduled buses never arrived-  so there i stood, on a grey, cold morning, waiting and waiting.

in the meantime i struck up a conversation with a guy, who had been sitting in the little depot, that has only 2 of the 3 plexi-glass walls intact (by the way, the missing piece is extremely helpful on wind filled days like today).  he was sitting there singing away a capella versions of 80’s pop songs, including ‘fly like an eagle,’ by the steve miller band and ‘bennie and the jets,’ by elton john.  at one point mid-song, he turned to me and said, what was the name of that other big hit by the steve miller band… i’ve been trying to think of it for 2 days.  we both thought we had it on the tip of our tongues… turns out i have no idea which he meant- i mean it could have been ‘the joker,’ ‘swingtown,’ ‘threshold,’ ‘jetarliner’  the list goes on…

so, if you miss the bus and you are cold- hopefully you have a local resident to banter on with about classic hits… (though i think bennie and the jets out does any on the aforementioned list)

sidenote:  it ‘felt like’ 13 degrees here today, which is pretty cold for dc.  of course i could not complain as i received email and after email today about -27 in chicago… sigh…

sidenote: they closed schools in my mom’s district… yep, they rarely close for snow, but they do close for cold.  makes a mockery of the drama that goes down here in the district if it sleets a 1/2 inch…


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White Rice

Posted by justicetabernacle on January 14, 2009

142870051_bc64ad4b75_mphoto credit

because i’ve been battling a fickle stomach this week, my diet has consisted primarily of white rice, a little soup, and more white rice.
so yesterday i was running one of our homeless guys around town to do some errands and he wanted to grab lunch before i took him back to the nursing home where he is staying.

now, i figured it wouldn’t be all that exciting, given the last time we ‘went out for lunch,’ it was popeyes. instead, he’s like ‘hey, there’s a little joint just up the road here that i used to always go to.’ low and behold it is this amazing little mediterranean deli. they had beautiful hummus, fresh salads, and hot food specials. of course, i was still not in the mood to test the stomach on finely spiced mediterranean, so i ordered a side of white rice.

as we sit down and the girl brings us our food, he looks at me and says, ‘that all your eating?’ and i explain to him that i still wasn’t feeling 100%. then i say: ‘and hey if a majority of the world can live off of a bowl of rice a day, then i suppose i can manage.’ to which he responds, ‘i didn’t know that…… well, i couldn’t do that!’

and thus, i have one of those moments that people call ‘comparaitve poverty.’ and i think to myself, a homeless man, perhaps on one of the more bottom rungs of our society, still has the ability to choose to eat better than the majority of the word. it is something that will blow your mind for a minute- and then instantly remind you of how much you have, far above and beyond anything that you can really fathom.


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