I receive these weekly articles from Relevant Magazine and today the topic was social justice, as it usually is. Always a story or experience from someone doing something radical to change the world. I admire these stories and they always make me think about my life. I am a big advocate of speaking for those who cannot speak, helping them find their voice, meeting needs where we can, etc. However, what got me thinking today, and spawned this post, were the arguments used to make the point.

"Interestingly enough, the word for love in the KJV is Charity, which when properly translated from Aramaic actually means justice. Love is setting things right. Love is doing something when it's easier to do nothing. Love is fighting for those who have no voice. Love is justice incarnate."

My first thoughts were 1) the KJV is so wrought with error why would you choose from it. 2) I am curious what scripture in particular he was translating from the Aramaic to derive justice as the English translation for love. 3) I am not so sure I easily sit with the last phrase of "Love is justice incarnate." I'd like to stay with this last point for a bit.

I have a hard time agreeing with this definition of love as justice incarnate. If we reason like that, then we only have a partial reality and truth of Christ's death on the cross. Yes, it was just in that Christ absorbed God's wrath, our punishment for sinning against a Holy God, therefore making atonement for our sin, but if it was not accompanied with mercy and grace that is extended freely to us, then it was for nothing. There is no justice in Him extending it to us freely. That is pure mercy in Him offering us the grace that was paid through Christ. Mercy as defined by Merriam-Webster "implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it."

It is seemingly lacking to say "love is justice incarnate" because Christ didn't come for justice. Yes, He came to "set the captives free and bind up the broken hearted…" but that was not the chief end of His mission. Jesus did not heal every person physically when He lived on this earth. He didn't come to make peace in the world, but He did come and put peace in our hearts for those who would accept His grace that covers our sin. These are two very different ideas. He came with a message of freedom, but He cared more about the freedom from the sin within our own hearts, rather than external circumstances of sin against others. The debt towards God is much bigger than our debt towards others.

The title of this article is Repairing the World by George Elerick and that was his main point; that we can bring love to this world by providing justice for the oppressed. I still maintain it is twofold. We do have a responsibility to those who are oppressed to fight for them. I believe it with all my heart. James 1:27 (NIV)
27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

However, the type of repairing of the world Christ came for was first reconciling us to God.

Colossians 1: 19 "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."

His second coming will be for our sanctification. We will finally be made whole and our sinful nature will be left behind.

Hebrews 9:28 "so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

Again Merriam-Webster, here is the definition for salvation: "1 a: deliverance from the power and effects of sin b: the agent or means that effects salvation; 2: liberation from ignorance or illusion3 a: preservation from destruction or failure b: deliverance from danger or difficulty" This is when our sanctification will be made complete, when Christ returns or I die first—in the end it is the same.

I do think helping out those who are oppressed is very important; I just didn't really like his argument and thought his focus was a little off. I am not really sure what my ramblings here have come to, but these few brief lines from this article have got me thinking and these are the thoughts floating around in my head. I always tell people in YAG when I ask difficult questions that I only ask them to make them think because I can't stop thinking myself. So, I am asking you to think as well. What are your thoughts on social justice? Helping the poor? What are ways to engage those who are oppressed with both the spiritual and the physical needs? So, I will continue to wrestle with these questions as well and if I come up with something, be certain that I will write again.


There is much rejoicing in Heaven!!

There is a party going on in heaven right now! Adena, whom I always write about and is in my pictures, has decided to follow Jesus!! She along with 6 other people were baptised this Sunday. There were also two others there very dear to my heart as well, Katrin and Rosanna.

Adena, Katrin, and Rosanna are the only ones who stuck out Recovery all the way to the end. Of the 16 women who began, these ladies are the ones who have gone through the battle of sin that wages within and held out to the end. (For all of you out there thinking "Uh...isn't recovery supposed to be confidential??? Don't worry, I have been given explicit permission to proclaim to the world what God has done!!!)

That day my heart swelled with joy and pride for these women and such gratitude that God chooses to use me in their lives.

With Adena, how crazy is our God that He sent Adena from Canada and me from Texas all the way to Hamburg, Germany, to meet in the city when we both lived in the country. He didn't put any friends in our path for the first two months so He could bind our hearts together and make us desperate for friends; thirsting for something so much bigger. BAM!! IBC came along and Adena was desperate enough for fellowship with people that she came with me to church and fell in love with the people's love for one another. Started going to a bible study on Tuesdays and hanging out with all these Christians... Then her being such a good friend to me, she decided to help me organize Recovery when it first got started. She also figured since she was my secretary she may as well go too. She had been reading the bible off and on and praying to God, but I really think that having to do the study and getting into the word and having to truly look at her life, had such a huge impact. When I first met her, she told me this was her year to find herself and that is why she came to Germany because something big was going to happen--she could just feel it. When she told me that, I wanted to tell her it that she was going to find Jesus! Only now does she know how true those words were. My favorite thing to hear out of her mouth is " I cannot deny God is real. He has changed me. I am not the same person that I was and I don't even know how it happened, but I know it was Him."

Our God is so extravagant and He will use whatever means He pleases to reveal Himself to mankind. He just asks us to trust Him with the crazy and come out and play with Him. I have had fun playing!

Katrin is a very special woman to me. I am training her right now to lead the recovery ministry here in Hamburg. She has only been a Christian for a year now, but God has called her into deep waters already and she has been obedient to follow. I have never seen a young christian so obediant and faithful to the things that He has called her to and takes delight in it. This woman seeks God with all her heart and wrestles with Him until He wins...

Rosanna has been a believer for a long time. Her baptism I can relate to. She was baptised at 18, she is now 38. After going through this step study and going through her 5th step, she felt like she was truly alive and God had become real to her. All the things that haunted her are gone and she feels free to live and rejoice and see God for who He really is! So amazing! Many people were quite stunned that she was getting baptised because she was well known in the church and people knew her for being a strong christian who had already been baptised....

I praise God for this day and how awesome He is that He would call us to Himself; that He would choose to display His glory in such broken vessels like us. Blows my mind. I am at a loss for words to end this blog. There is not enough praise I could give God for what has happened...


Baby Pictures

My parents emailed these to me for an event we were having here with the YAG. They are cute, so I thought I would share.

Happy Halloween!

I recieved this picture in an email titled: "When Pumpkins Drink"

I thought it was funny.


Election Blog

So I didn't really intend on writing about this election because the moment I came over here that is all people wanted to talk to me about and I got quite fed up with it early on. However, that being said I was reading a blog that was soliciting opinions about this article she had read in the Dallas Morning News. The article was talking about a bumper sticker that said

I heart Jesus
You cannot vote for Obama and be a Christian

Well that was enough to send my mind in a flurry and write a response of a beloved rant which I will post here as well:

This election is quite interesting to say the least. I think it will have bigger effects than most of us think. There is something so interesting in that idea as well as the fact we can participate in this process and vote, yet we in the end do not decide. God is the sovereign one and He places the powers and authorities over us.

My question is why do Christians, I say this somewhat carte blanche, seemingly always vote republican because of the two aforementioned reasons of abortion and homosexuality? I say this not because I am for it, but rather why do we want to legislate morality through the government. Have we not already created a Christian culture in the U.S. through good ole television that gives a moral story and faithful church attendance creating a safe feeling through knowledge and works. All that has left is people who know right behavior and right answers with a social pressure to conform if you want to be considered 'good' or 'righteous'.

When did govermental Christianity ever promote Jesus? Think historically to the first century church when Rome decided to take on Christianity as the official state religion. It died. Yet we look at India right now who is facing severe oppression and the gospel is spreading like wildfire and HEARTS and lives are changing.

We will never be doing good to peoples souls for eternity by regulating morality through the governemnt. Rather would it not be better to let people feel the depth of their depravity and love them inspite of their sins giving them the hope that is found in Jesus alone. He alone can change their hearts and no amount of nagging through the government will do that.

These are just my thoughts and ponderings. I have a somewhat far off glance and unbias at what is going on as I sit across the atlantic and watch America toss and turn through the economic difficulties and political warfare. Interestingly enough, most of the world is watching what is going on and I think, like San mentioned, this election will determine how the rest of the world will interact with us. We have upset quite a few contries over the last couple of years....

I also would like to add that the rest of the world is looking at the US as to what will happen because it does have huge ramifications for the rest of the world. I read a critique that many people won't vote for Obama because "he is the European candidate of choice." To that I think what an ignorant reason for not voting for him and how arrogant like an American to not care what the rest of the world thinks. We have snubbed enough of our allied countries with our youthful pride and arrogance thinking we can do what we please and it doesn't matter to the rest of the world. To that I have to say, we will pay the consequences for our pride. We should be more concerned about our foreign affairs than we are at present. My advice, try traveling outside the U.S.. There is a whole other world out there. But I know that request is quite difficult for many considering about 3% of americans have a current passport and actually use it.

Zu ende. That is all I have to say for the present. I am curious to hear what you guys think.