Israel/Palestine

If you have watched the news lately, you’ll see that they have shown a video of Osama bin Laden that predicts more pain and evil will come upon the U.S. and that this is in response to the prayers of Palestinian mothers. That video sickens me as does the commentary which is mostly pro-Israel and not much in favor of the Palestinians. Ariel Sharon commented that he wishes that he had killed Yassir Arafat twenty years ago, which was probably not the best thing to say. My friend Brian has commented frequently on the hopelessness of the situation and I’m starting to see his point very clearly.

The painful part spiritually is that we are all worshipping the same deity and it breaks my heart into pieces every time I hear someone invoke God’s name in these fights. This is a God who wants us to come to Him and who wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I cannot fathom a God who does not consider it justice to treat one’s neighbors with dignity even if they are not Christian, Muslim, or Jewish like everyone else. Granted, we are called to spread the Gospel to all nations but we are to do this lovingly and not by the sword. We are called to deal justly with people and if you’ve looked at the history of the land battle in Israel, you do have to agree that the Palestinians have been dealt with less than justly. In 1948, they stood to have about 58% of the land in “Israel” and that has shrunk dramatically. It’s like owning a room of a house but not being able to go out into the hall because your enemy owns the hall.

A lot of my criticism of bin Laden is the fact that Islam preaches that there is no compulsion in religion. (I’m not sure of the surah where that is found in the Qur’an.) Bin Laden wants us out of Saudi Arabia (which is not an unreasonable demand) but his reasoning is that we are polluting the Holy Land because we are a non-Muslim presence on Muslim soil. It’s kind of interesting to me that Jews and Christians lived in that land for 1200 years without engaging in conflict with the Muslim populations there. I feel that bin Laden wants all of us to become Muslim because it’s all about spreading the message of Islam. His tactics however violate the concept of non-compulsion. Most (and I mean all non-Wahhabi) Muslims consider us equal to them in the eyes of God and believe that if we are faithful to our religion, we will be in Paradise with them. It saddens me that a small percentage are so violent just as it saddens me that such a small percentage of evangelical Christians like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Fred Phelps spoil the view of Christianity for the rest of us.

The other thing I am just struggling with is the events of September 11th. I really never fully dealt with them and the day just seemed so surreal because I was in so much shock. I never believed that people could be so evil as to fly a plane with innocent people on it into a building where thousands of people worked!!! It saddens me that evil could be so present in one person like bin Laden who rejoiced at seeing all of this take place. Granted, we are a rich and spoiled country and we really need to evaluate the way we use resources and promote materialism but… does that really warrant killing thousands of innocent people as a protest??? Now, bin Laden is saying that this level of terror will continue to punish the USA. At first it seemed like the attacks were a personification of 1 Corinthians 1:27 where it says that God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. I’m not saying that the events of 9/11 were God’s punitive attacks on the U.S.A. but one has to admit that the plans were not that technologically advanced. They took away our national security (which would have been better placed had it been in the LORD than in our fancy weaponry) and it is awful to live in fear of such attacks happening again.

Sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all/ When the mountains look so big /And my faith just seems so small/ So hold me Jesus ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf/ You have been King of my glory/ Won’t you be my Prince of peace/ And I wake up in the night and feel the dark/ It’s so hot inside my soul I swear/ There must be blisters on my heart/ So hold me Jesus ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf/ You have been King of my glory/ Won’t you be my Prince of peace/ Surrender don’t come natural to me/ I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want/ Then to take what You give that I need/ And I’ve beat my head against so many walls/ I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees/ And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn/ And your grace rings out so deep/ It makes my resistance seem so thin/ So hold me Jesus ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf/ You have been King of my glory/ Won’t you be my Prince of peace?
-“Hold Me Jesus” — Rich Mullins

C/S

If I Stand

There’s more that rises in the morning than the sun/ And more that shines in the night than just the moon/ It’s more than just this fire here that keeps me warm/ In a shelter that is larger than this room/ And there’s a loyalty that’s deeper than mere sentiments/ And a music higher than the songs that I can sing/ The stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance/I owe only to the Giver of all good things/ So if I stand let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through/ And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace_ that first brought me to You/ And if I sing let me sing for the joy that has born in me these songs/ And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home/ There’s more than dances on the prairies than the wind/ More that pulses in the ocean than the tide/ There’s a love that is fiercer than the love between friends/ More gently than a mother’s when her baby’s at her side/ And there’s a loyalty that’s deeper than mere sentiments/ And a music higher than the songs that I can sing/ The stuff of Earth competes for the allegiance/I owe only to the Giver of all good things/ So if I stand let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through/ And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace_ that first brought me to You/ And if I sing let me sing for the joy that has born in me these songs/ And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home. –Rich Mullins, “If I Stand”

I really see the Gospel in this song. It’s like someone saying, there is more behind all of these things than their mere existence. There is a force of life behind the wind that sweeps across the prairies and more to the force of the tide in the ocean. There is so much more power in the love between friends and the love of a mother for her child. I cannot abide by the people who say love is just a biological function — there is such a divine element to love — God is love — He created it and He gives us the ability to love others.

The chorus, So if I stand let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through/ And if I can’t, let me fall on the grace_ that first brought me to You/ And if I sing let me sing for the joy that has born in me these songs/ And if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home, brings me to tears because it really shows my walk with God. The promise that He will bring me through everything is what I live for much of the time, and I cherish the promise that I can fall on God’s grace_ when I cannot stand on my own. I love to sing religious music because it reflects the connection I have with my Heavenly Father. Sad songs show my ability to come to Him for solace and the more joyful ones allow me to praise Him for the works He has done in my life. I also am thankful every day that I can come to Him when I am weeping because the things of earth have saddened me (an occurrence that happens more and more these days). C/S

Good Friday

rather than focus on this being friday the 13th, i’m focusing more on it being “good friday”. granted, this is a bad day because Christ died on it but it is also good because God’s plan to redeem us came to fulfillment. the good friday service i attended at messiah tonight was wonderful — lydia, jon, and i got to read and sit up in the darkened loft. a bat was flying around the church — very eerie.

mchenry isn’t hiring me so i guess i’m going back to looking on the career center website and going down there on monday morning. life goes on. i need the money but i know that God will provide me with something.

Palm Sunday

the palm sunday service at messiah was wonderful. lydia and her old housemate david were with me. david reminds me of my friend tom newton — kind of goofy and all. processing in was fun and being with the two of them rocked.

when i got to high street for lunch, a guy walked in and started taking food. joan went over to him and gently explained to him that the food was for the college students but he could make himself a sandwich if he liked. he left in a huff. apparently, he had come to the front during second service and started preaching. pete got him to stop by playing the next worship piece and slowly increasing the volume. i’ve been told that he goes to local churches and feels like he needs to preach to them. the room suddenly silenced when he walked in. i think we did the right thing by offering him the food but i still felt super uneasy.

JEN IS GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the ash wednesday service went really well. we had 150 people crammed into the tiny conference room that we used for the service. i was the gospel reader and my friends anne and fernando did the other readings. the number of people created a logistical nightmare so the campus ministers had to come out into the mass of people to do the ashes. while they imposed the ashes, we were singing a taizé piece (oh Lord, hear my prayer). it was nice to get newman and iv and the other groups together.

some pretty good news: I’VE BEEN ACCEPTED TO GRAD SCHOOL!!!!!!

Something I Needed To Do

i went to messiah this sunday as i needed another service for my anthro final project. (getting class credit to go to church — good concept.) when i got home, i decided to take care of something that had been really troubling me the night before. my friend steve lazaar died 2? years ago and i never really got to say good-bye or even grieve properly. it was funny that my Bible reading yesterday was on the woman at the well because jon pointed out that i hadn’t dealt with it yet, telling me to do whatever it took to get closure. last night, jon sat up with me as i let all of the 2? years of grief out. this afternoon, i walked down to the stevenson knoll and entered my favorite redwood grove. there, i stood and sobbed as i talked to steve and told him how much he had meant to me and thanked him for the influence that he had on my life. i then prayed for God to release me of my grief. the wind was whipping me as i left and walked down to the track where i prayed and meditated as i walked. it was a really calming experience. i know that some grief still remains but i have now gotten to say my good-byes.

Beautiful People

i’ve realized that my hope boils down to six simple words: I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES. simple enough words (job 19:45) but they give me so much hope. i KNOW that He is with me. i KNOW that He will pull me through. i KNOW that i am saved by grace. i also was reflecting today on the most beautiful people i know and i’ve figured out that it is my friend veronica. she would be amazed to know that i think of her this way but she has just so much inner beauty. she is very traditionally catholic and she is religious in a way that really mirrors a complete love for others and love for God. she’s in anaheim this weekend for the catholic educators conference and when i talked to her today, she was just overflowing with joy. i rarely see such joy and it blessed me so richly.