Two Men

21 February, 2012

Statues, Grand-Leez, Belgium, 2009.

Statues. Grand-Leez, Belgium. 2009.

I recently used another (color) photo of these old men in the post People of Stone. Why? Because I like these old chaps. They seem so determined, so resolute.

In honor of these two petrologically-inclined gentleman, I wrote this little story, The Fleming and the Walloon. please don’t think of this as any commentary on the political situation in Belgium between the Flemings and the Walloons. I am unable to speak to that as I am neither. However, I thought it would be an interesting foundation to build a story on the two natures man. It is quite a stretch I know, but I thought it would be an interesting effort. My preemptive and sincere apologies to the Flemish and Walloon everywhere.

(This story will be published here in the near future.)

© 2011 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

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People of Stone

19 April, 2010

Sculpture. Grand-Leez, Belgium. 2009.

Sculptures. Grand-Leez, Belgium. 2009.

I have spent the last three months dealing with one computer problem after another, the most time-consuming being two complete operating system installs and a complete system build to replace a dead and un-resurrect-able machine.

This has been a grueling and frustrating process, but it has also caused me to reconsider technology reliance in general. I have come to the conclusion that for what I do, technology is crucial. I could do without, but my job description would change drastically, and I’m not making a judgment whether that would be good or bad. It just is a fact.

Couple that with the recent events in Europe where the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull (best of luck on the pronunciation) has put the continent’s airline industry in a tail-spin. The economic disruption of this event is being felt throughout Europe and is even sending waves of financial loss around the globe as the flower growers of Kenya were quick to understand as they were forced to throw their yields onto the compost pile for lack of any sustainable method of getting their products to the European market. How fragile are our system because of our reliance on technology.

So, how do I connect the above image to the thoughts of this post? Two connections; we are people of stone, of the earth, and we are creatures of stone habits. The former refers to our connection to God’s creation and our mandate to tend to it. The latter refers to what I see as humankind’s plodding ahead to a fate of our own design, descending a stony path, stony-eyed, whistling out-of-tune to our long-prophesied coda.

As people of stone, of the earth, we arguably live a more stable existence the closer we live to the earth we are to tend. For five millennia we lived such agrarian lives. Yet, in the past 150 years we left this simple existence with staggering velocity. Imagine the following scenario, a person from the time of King David is magically transported to the opening days of our present republic (roughly 2,700 years). I would premise that it would not take them long to become accustomed to their new setting, a familiar land where power is in water and beasts and oceans are still navigated by wind and stars. Conversely, think of your great-grandfather being transported to our present day (a mere 100 years or so). I don’t think their acclimation would be as easy. Knowledge is increasing exponentially as is our reliance upon it. It was estimated a couple of years ago that this year we will create nearly 1,000 Exabyte’s of digital information this year(1) (that is roughly equal to 18 million times the amount of information in all the books ever written.) YouTube states that they are receiving 24 hours of new video content every minute!(2)

All this is not worrisome. The fact that our entire way of life and subsistence is now entirely dependent on technology does not concern me. God is in control. It does worry me, however, that we are people of stone habits. The vacant stare of the mossy-browed men in the above photo very appropriately illustrates my view of human-kind peddling vacantly into oblivion, not due to its reliance on technology, but because of its ignorance of scripture (read rejection of God’s Word).

So, does hardness of heart cause hardness of head or vice versa? Regardless, only the softening of the heart by the Spirit of God and opening of eyes by the Word of God offers any hope for people, not human-kind in general, that fate is sealed, but of people with whom we have conversation. With whom have you had this conversation (and flicked a little moss from their brow)?

References:
(1) Sharon Gaudin, InformationWeek, March 7, 2007. http://bit.ly/bL9YZZ
(2) YouTube Fact Sheet. http://www.youtube.com/t/fact_sheet

© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

Mourning Into Dancing

27 February, 2010

Dancing Roma man, Skopje, Macedonia, 2009.

Dancing Roma man. Skopje, Macedonia. 2009.

I walked the narrow streets of a Roma enclave in Skopje, Macedonia and came upon this man who greeted me with a smile and a small spontaneous dance. What a wonderful introduction to the Roma people in this extremely poor community. Macedonia is among the poorest countries in Europe and the Roma are the poor among the poor. Yet, this man seemed to have genuine joy and expressed it to me, a total stranger roaming his streets.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: You have put off my sackcloth, and clothed me with gladness; – Psalm 30:11

Surely we Christians should express such spontaneous joy. That song comes to mind, I Hope You Dance. This secular song can present us with a challenge.

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance; Dance
I hope you dance (1)

I see it as a special challenge to get involved, to step out, to live life, and to do so with joy and in step with God. In so many ways life is like a dance. You either dance with careful, stiff and stuttering steps, carefully regarding those who watch and self-conscious of how your steps are received. Or, you dance without regard for how you are perceived, with abandon to that music which fills your heart from a higher Source.

Regardless of how your song starts or what changes in key you find as you move from verse to chorus, when you final reach the coda I hope your dance inspired others, but like David’s dance was intended for God alone.

Reference:
(1) © 2004 MCA Nashville, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc. Artist: Lee Ann Womack

© 2010 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.

 

Happy Thanksgiving

26 November, 2009

Unloading patatoes, Lamur, Belgium, 2009.

Unloading potatoes. Lamur, Belgium. 2009.

To me, Eric Zander epitomizes the 21st century missionary; hands-on, innovative, always thinking outside the box, and involved. The above image is my choice for an appropriate Thanksgiving image for these times. It almost seems insensitive to show images of the Thanksgiving table overflowing with abundance in a sort of Rockwellian manifestation, one more appropriate for another century, not our present day when so many families feel their financial foundations cracking under the pressure.

Eric’s family has felt the financial pressure of these times like others as his support contracts with the economy. He faces the added burden as support from American churches declines not only in giving, but in the falling value of the dollar to the Euro. Yet, his ministry grows in giving. He gives weekly back to his community as he works at thrift store as a driver picking up donations to this community support center. In the photo above he isn’t picking up food for a once yearly event, but rather this is his weekly task of picking up food for the center that will help feed those in need.

His involvement in his local community reflects an understanding of his responsibility to go out into the world and be the light of Christ, not to set up a program or an event, but to go out and bring Christ to the people. The community center is not a Christian endeavor set up by a local church, but a civic program. To this secular program he brings Christ in a real and effective way. This is an economy of mission.

To us it is a challenge, go out and take Christ to our communities. Not in a safe and sanitized church program, but into the world around us, that messy, unsafe, risky world that God can use in amazing, glorifying, and redemptive ways. Proclaim your mission.

© 2009 A Mission Proclaimed

A Mission Proclaimed is a federally recognized 501(c)(3). Your support is greatly appreciated.