Friday, November 25, 2005

Blessed are the poor in spirit...

http://groups.msn.com/MrbeansTravels/shoebox.msnw

Hello to all of the blog readers out there... I have been enjoying my 4 day weekend and took this opportunity to post numerous random pics from 2005 on this website. You should check them out. Various weddings, photo's from Oahu, friends, and family...

On another note, I have been thinking about the BE-attitudes a bit... Specifically with regards to the line about "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."

Throughout my travels over the last couple of years, the poverty found in every major city and in places like Africa and Dominican Republic astounds me... (Singapore, Waikiki, New York City, San Fransisco, Los Angelos, San Diego, Boston, Atlanta, Hong Kong, Chicago, Houston, and Sydney to name a few.)

Even right here in downtown Waikiki, there are numerous homeless people seeking for handouts to survive on a daily basis.... Or people who have no one and no place to go... They have no family to call their own... They have no friends that they could call in a time of need... I can't help but wonder... What are their stories? How did they get there?

In America, we always have the pervading sense that poor people want to be poor... They have made bad choices, and so they must deserve what they are getting... If they REALLY wanted help, they would just get a job and join the ranks of working America. Then, they could get off their lazy butts and be a contribution to society instead of surviving on the tax money of hard working citizens....

You can't give most of them money... They will just go and buy drugs or alchohol... since they are most often caught in the throes of some addiction..... Lost in their desperation.... their search to fill the void.... You can try to buy them a meal... but first they have to accept (Most won't) and even that really has a limited affect... What in the WORLD are we supposed to do with these people??? Well, we ALL know what most people do... We simply ignore them... We avert our eyes... We try to walk by faster and pretend that we don't really see their desperate cries for aid... Have you ever wondered why your interactions with them are so negative and usually leave you with a bad taste in your mouth? I have been....

What kind of Christ followers are we, if THIS is our mentality? How does THIS FIT being made in the image of God??? How does THIS imitate the heart of God??? I AM FRUSTRATED AT THE LACK OF JUSTICE IN THIS WORLD... I do not know what to do, when I walk by those who are less fortunate to the extreme....

Wanta hear a story???
I was recently in Los Angelos, CA, where I attended a wedding with some close family friends. I was staying at quite possibly the most expensive hotel EVER spending my hard earned Navy cash, and I joined some friends at this quaint breakfast joint a couple of blocks away. It was not a real formal place, and it had a very warm, vibrant atmosphere that was quiet but not silent. The lull of quiet conversation filtered through the background as people sipped their coffee, talked, and laughed in undertones....As I conversed with my friends, I was glad to see that the place had an excellent selection on the menu, and we were going to eat very well there. Suddenly, I realized a peculiar change in the atmosphere. A subtle silence had crept almost un-noticed into the joint. I turned my head to noticed a commotion at the front of the restaurant.

There stood a bearded, homeless man... (a bum as most name them) who was attempting to come into the establishment in order to buy some breakfast with his money which obviously wasn't appreciated, since you could smell him a couple tables away and could see that he hadn't shaved or washed in days... probably weeks...

Anyway, one of the employee's was physically blocking the man's path into the restaurant.... The conversation that ensued went something like this:

"You can't come in here", says the employee.
"I just want to buy some breakfast", protests the man. "All I want is to come in out of the cold to eat some breakfast like a normal person. I have money and am a patron too!!!".
"Get out NOW, or I will call the police. " replies the employee as he physically pulled the now teary eyed man out the door.

Finally, the man allowed himself to be roughed out of the door onto the street from which he no doubt came.... As quickly as the scene began, it ended. The eyes and heads of all the patrons without a second thought delved back into their own conversations. Nothing out of the ordinary here.... was what I interpreted from their reaction... I could just hear the words...

"Stupid Bum... should've known better than to have interrupted everyone's breakfast. Man, did he WREAK. Please pass the salt. Anyway, what were you saying about the homeless people in New Orleans? I really feel bad for the storm victims."

I had stopped stuffing my face long enough to have sat there in wild astonishment at what just took place before my eyes.... I sat there frozen in thought, word, and deed.... I could feel a lump in my throat rise at what I had just witnessed. I had just taken a double dose of reality at the broken world in which I found myself.... I wanted to DO something... I wanted to help the man... But what could I do? What of my friend's? How come no one else was feeling what I felt?

I wanted to scold the manager... It would've accomplished nothing... He was just protecting his interests.... They didn't want to offend the more financially sound patrons with the prescence of smelly street people.

One couple did come to the aid of the homeless guy... He and his wife went out the door and took the man's order. They boldly strolled up to the countered and ordered FOR the man that had just been kicked out. Who had been treated like the trash, he slept on at night. They took his food to him, and ate their breakfast OUTSIDE ON THE STREET with the man. Talking with him and clearly preferring his prescence over that of "normal" society on the inside. It was evident to me that the man was enjoying the company much more than the food that sat before him.... Here was this frail probably VERY hungry man who chose to converse with his new found acquaintances verses scarf his delcious meal..... I am sure it was nice for him to be accepted as human for once..... as a real person.... not just a nameless bum that everyone wished would just go away...

No one likes to be reminded of the poverty of heart which resides right on every city street in America...We are uncomfortable... so we choose to ignore it... Why? Because we don't like being sad... we like to take the path of least resistance... We are too busy to truly take notice and to actually treat poor hurting souls with the dignity and respect as fellow created beings made in the image of God...

I was ashamed of my initial reaction which was to do absolutely nothing... Growing up in small town USA, I had never witnessed this part of American culture until the last couple of years... Everyone knew everyone, where I lived. Where I come from, people always have family or at least some friends that can help them.

I recently heard a talk given by Chris Rice on the necessity of the poor.... One of his primary points was that we needed to pay attention to the poor in order for us to stay grounded in the reality of this world.... That reality is that it is broken and dying... We need the poor to take care of in order to slow down from our wireless internet and cell phone ridden schedules to take note of the present condition that plagues a large percentage of our society... One of the richest most powerful nations in the world... It is sad to realize that most of America is indeed poor in spirit...

So that's great right??? Because they will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.... Unfortunately, that is not the case... The problem lies in that most American soul's are sick, desperate, and dying... and they don't EVEN KNOW IT.... Everyone is so busy seeking to fill the void in their lives with the latest fad (fill in the blank.) We are so busy with our jobs that we can't take a Sunday off to just sit and BE people.... We must use our days off to catch up on other things... How in the world are we supposed to hear from an Almighty powerful Creator who chooses to speak to us with a still, small voice amidst the tempest that is American culture?

Maybe we should take a lesson from the needy... and realize just how needy we are of the life giving flow that is the love Jesus Christ.... Maybe we have such an aversion for the poor and needy, because they represent the condition of our own hearts... Filthy, dirty, stinking, and desperate... due to the stain of sin which chokes the abundant life that Christ is offering to us each day... Maybe we need allow ourselves to be gripped with the grace of God each day to cover the nastiness that is our fleshly nature...

Friday, November 11, 2005

WELL WELL WELL....

I guess it really has been quite some time, since I have last posted. I apologize to any would be readers for being so lax as to let many moons go by without so much as a one liner update. I not quite sure what I am going to write about this evening.... I just found myself navigating to the ole blogger and came across my sight....

What can I say other than life in the US Navy has been a crazy whirlwind... My current lifestyle is one that is constantly and consistently on the move. Never in my life have I ever been more stretched, pulled, or pushed in so many different directions simultaneously. Nor has my time ever been such a precious commodity in my short life of 23 years... For instance, I have come to the conclusion that is it is "normal" (whatever that means) for me to come to work and look at my 20+ item"To Do List"on a daily basis... If I am fortunate, I will get at least 3 of those knocked out only to have 5 replace them. I am perpetually tracking at a minimum of 3 things concomitantly at any given point in time and often it's more than that...

This is the life that I planned out from high school and even worked 4 years in college to get here... Who knew that it would turn otu like this? I don't mean to sound negative or to complain. It's just wild to think that I ended up with a Communications job in Pearl Harbor, HI. It is normal for me to be able to go to the beach any time that I have" free time"... (Yes, I do know what free time is... and I do have a little of it saved up from time to time to enjoy away from work... and I DO SAVOR EVERY SINGLE MOMENT.) I would've never guessed that life would end up this way for me.... or that I would've ended up in this geographical location.....

On another note, quite arguably the biggest change for me since the last time I posted is that I am no longer on the market so to speak.... Let me continue with an explanation... I now have a girlfriend... We've been dating for over 3 months now... She is an incredibly beautiful woman whose name is Lisa. We share a passionate love for Christ... and a great appreciation for the outdoors... ie we love to go hiking in the mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean and watch the sunrise and/or set.... We share similar views on physical fitness and LOVE.... i mean LOVE to go swimming... She is more of a swimmer... I am more of a diver... One of the only things I have against her thusfar is that she is a fan of crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy PB..... We are having to work through that issue..... But I figure I will have her brought over to the ther side before it's all said and done :)

Alriiiighty then... Enough of my random rambling... This post is rapidly coming to a close... I will end it with a scripture...
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear , because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. "
I JOHN 4:18-19

Oh yeah... and I gotta give my boy Tommy props for writing a treatise on this controversial term called Christianity... Ya'll gotta check this out... I could not agree with him more... We've discussed this topic on numerous occasions and I agree so much that I won't even write about it... You should read it for yourself...
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/12398/an_apology_on_behalf_of_the_church.html
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