Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peace and Justice

"'If you want peace, work for justice.'This isn’t a liberal catch phrase. It’s not the rallying cry of leftist or socialist rabble-rousers. It’s simply a stated truth. If there is no justice, there can be no peace." -  @http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/

Sunday, August 26, 2012

you can’t have just one? Can you?

SO I found an article by American Sociologist D. A. Vail his academic paper about tattoos and the tattoo culture is called Tattoos are like potato chips ... you can’t have just one. In his article he talks about becoming a "collector".  He explains it as  tattoo jargon describing a person who is heavily tattooed; and  amassing heavy bodily coverage with tattoos and this is known as ‘‘building a collection.’’ he says it is similar to how art historians to try to collect original pieces so do people with tattoos. He continues to explain how transformative tattooing is; not only physical but is tied to stories and experiences the individual has gone through.
  • On March 27 2010 at a local shop in Albemarle NC I got my first tattoo. In English it reads as "Some play at friendship, but the true friend sticks closer then the nearest kin" Proverbs 18:24.  I got it on my left forearm in Hebrew, because I to have the original langue that it was written in... 
    • for me it is my testimony of my faith and who I am. This verse has always stuck out to me growing up in the church, when my friends and their families took me in one of there own. Not only letting me live with them but loved me. My Tattoo has become a celebration of life that family isnt always your blood relatives or the ones that share the same last name but the one who love you no matter what. 
    • My Tattoo in a way represents how I do ministry, and its affects my Pedagogy of style, Theology and feel like this is the most important theological task we can do (I'll write about it someday). 
anyways to get to the point of this post, I've been thinking/debating about getting another tattoo for awhile now and secretly I've always found the tattoo culture fascinating. I dont think I could ever become a 'collector' as D.A. Vail describes in his paper but I feel kinda drawn to more and more to them maybe because there seems to be hundreds of thousand who have tattoos and dozens of websites, and several successful television show dedicated to showing off their artwork on their bodies. Which some are more ridiculous then others (Tat 1 Tat 2).

but they all seem to have some sort of story tying them to the owner, and that's what I love. Knowing why the person got the tattoo (ie meaning/background); and in many cases they describe the image and/or phrase as  a turning point in their life and typically is someone/something that has help to make that change possible. Right now I know im at that point in life where monumental change is happening, Im growing in my faith, maturity and understanding of God's calling on my life because of this I became an missionary. The saying  "BE WITH" during training was an invitation to change our understanding of what Justice really is. Being With and Justice work is being present, loving, struggling and working together to fix injustice. working at removing systems of oppression. even though i'm terrified of needles (which I almost pasted out twice during my first one). I know that Justice will always be apart of who I am how I live out my faith, Pfeiffer and YAMs has helped me realize this; and if/when I get a new tattoo justice will be the motivation behind getting it. I have some ideas but who knows.... any ideas would be much appreciated.
  • I've been looking for a new testament verse about Justice 
    • thinking about getting it in Koine Greek  
      •  if you know any good one please let me know in the comments below
  • OR even a symbol that represents Justice
    • maybe something from the Orthodox tradition or ancient world    

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Call to Justice

Through my exploration of the Interwebs I found this series of Bible Studies/Devotions from http://justiceforlifecdp.wordpress.com/bible-studies-and-devotionals/ that caught my attention and i wanted to share one of my favorites. I made some changes to be more inclusive and easier to understand I hope. enjoy!! 

Bible Study: The Call to Justice
  •  Meditation (Enter into a brief period of quiet)
    • Begin in a spirit of prayer, asking for the gift of God’s guidance, wisdom, and love.
      • seek to actively listen and submit to God’s Spirit and God’s Word as you open yourself to whatever God wants to communicate to you.
    • Consider, contemplate, and reflect on what God is giving you as you read and meditate on Scripture.  
      • Look for how it may be personalized and integrated into your life.  You may want to record your thoughts in a journal.
    • Share your individual reflections.
      • Identify one or two actions you take on behalf of those seeking justice.  
  • Pray: – advocating to God on behalf of the suffering and asking for your own wisdom and strength to exercise a heart for justice. God sends us into the world to be active agents of love and transformation of the world.  
  • Read: Exodus 3
    • Make a mental note of any words, phrases or verses that especially resonate in your heart and mind. 
    • What type of suffering are God’s people experiencing in Egypt? How does God feel about their suffering? (v. 7-8)
    • What is God’s plan for rescuing His people? (v. 10)
      • What is Moses’ initial response to God’s call? Can you relate to his feelings of reluctance? Fear? Inadequacy? Recall a time when you responded similarly and reflect on that experience. What was God asking? Why did you hesitate? What was God’s response?
    • How does God respond to Moses’ reluctance? (v. 12, 14-15)
      • After reading, pause and ask God if there is anything that you need to focused on or take more notice.
    • Now repeat the reading and notice what comes to your heart and mind this time. Is it the same or something new?
    • Share with others
  • Read: Matthew 5: 14 –16
    • Listening to what God might be saying to you about your role in His work of justice.
    • In verse 14, who does God say that we are? How do you feel about this?
      • What do you think it means, practically, to “let your light shine before men”? (v. 16) What is the effect of letting our light shine?
  • Read: Micah 6:6-8
    • Contrast what we consider to be religious activity and what God asks of us.
    • What “religious activity” fills up your life before the actions of doing justice?
  • Read: Matthew 23:23
    • In your own words, paraphrase what Jesus was saying to the Pharisees.
      • Do you find yourself in a similar position to the Pharisees? Take some time to confess those things that you have not properly prioritized or the matters you have neglected that are important to God.
  • Reflecting on all the readings:
    • Do you notice anything that makes you uncomfortable, anything that is refreshing or disturbing, or anything that you are particularly excited about?
      • What did you notice about God’s calling to His people?
      • How do you think God is specifically calling you? Are there specific people to whom you feel called?
      • What stood out to you as you read the scripture passages? as you explore God’s calling to justice?

    • As you lift to God those who suffer, ask that God would restrain the hand of the oppressor and the powerful dynamics of oppression.
    • As you lift to God those who suffer, pray that truth would overcome the deception, and that people of powerful influence would rise up on behalf of those suffering to stop the hand of injustice.
    • As you lift to God those who suffer, ask that the perpetrators of injustice would be held accountable for their actions so that they cannot harm others.
    • As you lift to God those who suffer, ask that God would draw you ever closer  and grant you wisdom and courage to become the answer to these prayers
  • Read and Reflect (again)
  • Reflect and Act
    • What are the one or two action steps you feel God would prompt you to take in the next 24 to 72 hours?
  • Pray 
    • We are called to be God’s compassionate care for the world, to hold all life as sacred, to promote justice, to seek to advance the cause of all people, especially those in need, and to practice responsible stewardship. 

The source of this study is the International Justice Mission’s devotional As You Go 

Monday, August 13, 2012

So i just got back from a funeral and i felt really out of place the whole time i never knew the man that past away.  but went for my Grandmothers shake, the service was really nice the stories shared were great but the whole time i was thinking about how the past two years there have been a lot of deaths around me. some closer then others but all of the people who have passed away have had affect who i am today. Jesse Parks a great friend of mine (Keeping on Trolling Buddy),  Dr. Kirby a Professor, and Lance Johnson a classmate who pasted away about two weeks ago. they've all kinda added up, but today at John's funeral the Pastor asked the question during the service  that got me thinking. She Asked "what was he known for" people stood up and said their peace and respect for John and then how he ALWAYS made people laugh and that he would ALWAYS go out of his way to make sure others were taking care of. after the service we went to the fellowship hall and had a meal together and more stories were shared about how great John was. about half through the meal my Grandma looked at me dead in the eyes and said if this was your funeral tell two stories, confused a little worried about what Grandma meant, she continued to tell everybody else at the table about when I was in diapers and just learned to talk; she explained that whenever anybody ever asked me a question I would  shrug it off  answer "I can't know" She Giggled to herself and started the next story about when she helped me moved to North Carolina to attend Pfeiffer University my freshman year. she told everyone at the table that I was confident, excited, and happiest she has ever seen me in my life, and that I was even celebrating the unknown of college life.

of course that got me thinking about when she or Papa passes away what would others say about them? What would I say? about the two people who took me and my sister in when we needed them the most. A few minutes later Grandma looked at me again and said "when its all over and done with what do you want to be known for??" pausing for a moment trying to think, I couldn't answer her question. I know she wasn't looking for some deep philosophical answer, but that's where my mind went.

Even now a few hours later Im still trying to wrap my brain around her hard hitting question. maybe its because I'm young or maybe because I tend think in circles but so far I've only come up with Three things I want to be known for

1) Loyal Friend
2) Loving Deeply
3) Passionate about Theology and Justice

I guess the next phase in life is living out those things