Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Portland Nights

Crack the window and there is a fresh rushing breeze off the Marquam Hill. There is a rhythm to the city; the steady hum of the MAX light rail, the pulsating rush of cars. It is quite soothing in some strange twisted way.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mi Casa

So tonight I am officially moving into my Apartment. I am trying to trim my budget to the bare minimum cost of living.

No car, no cable, no Internet.

I was already having pre-withdrawals from the Internet this afternoon just thinking about it. Tonight I unloaded everything, said a little prayer, flipped open my laptop, and BAM! My new best friend in downtown Portland is "BigCat".

I'm sure I will be posting updates about life in downtown Portland over the next few months. It is a little bit of culture shock because I have always lived in the outskirts of the 'burbs. But, right now I need to get my apartment in order, class starts tomorrow morning.

But first, I want to share a quick reminder. Jesus said:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."(John 10:10)
Just like the three Greek words used for love (Philia, Eros, Agape) in Scripture, there are also multiple words for life. "Bios" is simply life as a mere existence. But here, John uses "zoe". Zoe means a passionate, vigorous, flamboyant life to the fullest! Keep your eye on Jesus, never stop refocusing on Him and the new life that He offers.

In the eloquent, yet potent, words of my friend Whitney, "get out of here flesh!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Carl's Story

In 1991 Carl fought for his life after a gunshot to the spine in Iraq. After rehabilitation and many months of aggressive pain relievers and muscle relaxants, he walked out of the hospital with a new fight for his life, drug addiction. With no family and a nice monthly paycheck from the government he went straight to the streets wandering from fix to fix. After a decade of feeding his addiction he hit rock bottom, realizing there must be more to life. In 2005 he found himself in Portland and put himself into an addiction program. He also started coming to Nightstrike under the Burnside Bridge every Friday night to get a hot home made meal, receive an occasional haircut, and have his feet washed.

Two years later, on a chilly fall night a wide-eyed nervous young man kneeled, removed Carl’s shoes, and washed his feet. Weeks passed in a blur with the hecticness of the Christmas season. A month later Carl sat down in a chair under the Burnside Bridge with a pan of steaming water in the crisp January air placed at his feet. The same young man walks by, and Carl asks if he is washing feet again tonight…“Again?” I ask in a daze. Carl explains that I did a really good job when I washed his feet months ago. I was hosting tables that night, but God had greater plans. I kneeled at his feet for the second time, of many more to come, and asked him how his week was going. He was finishing at the Culinary Institute, working 60 hours a week in a kitchen, and had been clean for 2 years.

For 5 months, through Nightstrike, I had the opportunity to develop a relationship with Carl - to listen, talk, serve, encourage, pray, and love on Carl. It took minutes for me to share this story with you, but it was months before Carl was able to completely share his story on one tear-filled evening when he told me he had given his life up to Christ. Over the course of this time he finished up his externship at a restaurant and moved out into a place of his own. Carl’s story was 17 years in the making from that day he got shot in the back. It took a lot of patience, love, and the life transforming power of the Holy Spirit to get to that point.

On any Friday night there are hundreds of “Carl’s” - in all stages - searching for hope underneath the Burnside Bridge. And over the course of any month there are hundreds of nervous wide-eyed individuals of all ages and stages in life, stepping outside of their comfort zone, desiring to glorify and serve God underneath the Burnside Bridge.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This is why switched over to Macs almost a year ago and have no intention to ever go back...

This guy selected every application on his MacBook Pro and opened it at the same time and this was the result:

Ya, It took 12 minutes, but still! I never would have dared trying that on a Windows machine...unless I was trying to crash it.

UPDATE: I put my MacBook to the test. It took about 15 minutes (enough time to brush my teeth and get ready for bed) to open everything (including resource hogs like iPhoto, Word, Powerpoint, Halo, Google Earth, Garageband, and iMovie) at which point I was able to pull up my Dashboard, use Expose (looked pretty stinkin similar to the screen shot above) and tab through each app to close them. I fired up Firefox, and viola! Here I am, still running strong.

Now you can sleep soundly being assured of the stability of Macs. Goodnight all!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Summer Reading

I did not want to admit summer was coming to an end. However, classes start next Monday. So without further delay, my summer reading post inspired by Dan Franklin's and Melany's post by the same name... and I would have read more if I wasn't in Spanish class up to 16 hours a week for 10 weeks of the summer.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis: An allegorical tale in which ghosts of the dead struggle with living a new life that is true and complete or continuing to settle for an incomplete life by making themselves a slave to vanity and self deception. It strikes close to home - in much the same way as his Screwtape Letters - because of Lewis' brilliant insight into human nature. If you have read some of his more popular work like Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and Screwtape Letters, there is no reason to stop there!

Sex is Not The Problem (Lust Is) by Joshua Harris: Short, quick, and to the point. This book is a must for everyone (and I don't even particularly like the author)! Our culture is so self serving/lust driven it is well worth the time and effort to understand our sexuality and why God made us sexual beings. It is a pretty revolutionary book because it is a topic the Church shies away from and culture so misunderstands.

The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer: The book is composed of short chapters, each of which zero in on a brief over of a single characteristic of God. I feel like he creates a reverence for God that has been lost, at least that was lost in me. From the self sufficiency to the perfect wisdom, from the faithfulness to the goodness of God, my mind and heart was stretched. My upward gaze is now one of awe and reverence. I had put God into a box that my mind could comprehend, limiting him to my feeble understanding.

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI: The back of the book sleeve caught my attention in Borders with the following quote: "This book is my personal search for the face of the Lord". I was curious what the "father" of the Catholic church thought of the person of Jesus. It turns out the requirements to be a pope must be pretty stringent, because this guy knows the Scripture inside and out. What is the significance and relevance of each of Jesus three temptations in the desert? What can we glean from the Lord's prayer? What is at the heart of Jesus parables? All of these, along with the rest of Jesus life, is studied in great detail.

The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch: This book has been a radical eye opener in how I look at the Church and Ministry in general. It has sparked a lot of thought on how to weed out all the part of culture that bog down the Gospel. He contrasts the "pre"institutional church as portrayed in the Bible and the underground church in China with that of the institutional denominationalized Christianity of the western world. Very interesting stuff if you are the type interested in sociology and people movements.

--- Still in Progress ---

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: Tolstoy still doesn't match up to Dostoevsky in my opinion, but it is captivating. He captures authentic humanity in his characters, intimately grasping and conveying emotion. However, it is long, and my mind is fleeting. I keep getting the urge to jump into other books. I will finish it eventually.

--- Next Up ---

The Gospel According To Starbucks by Leonard Sweet: I'm really interested in the experiential emphasis of our culture (you don't just go to Starbucks for a coffee, it's the whole sensory experience) and the title is great!

The Pursuit of God
by A.W. Tozer: I can't get enough Tozer after Knowledge of the Holy.

Las Cornicas de Narnia
by C.S. Lewis: Yo necesito praticar mi Espanol mas!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Western Top-Down, Institutional Church" vs. "Underground Church in China"

"We felt so sorry for the church we left behind. They had no one to teach them, no printing presses, no seminaries, no one to run their clinics and orphanages. No resources, really, except the Holy Spirit...It appears the Holy Spirit is doing just fine."
-A missionary years after being expelled from China in 1950.

Fact: Christianity is the fastest growing religion in China.

An institution is a mechanical structure, it seeks to sustain. Any extension of the institution will tend to be dependent and not take responsibility. Communist China has forced the Church to remain true to itself.

Thoughts sparked while reading The Forgotten Ways: Alan Hirsch

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Scary Step (With Exciting Possibility's)

Thank you all (PondererGirl) for your patience.

A couple weeks ago, I went down to Nightstrike as usual (Something I have blogged about extensively). For the last 10 months I have left my comfy well paying job promptly at 5:00 pm on Friday to meet up with friends and head downtown with a heart to serve the homeless, the broken, the lost, and the marginalized of Portland. There was something much different about this particular Friday. For the first time, of the last 4 years of my working life, I was officially unemployed. My plans strewn and my future unclear. Unnerving, indeed.

I arrived at Liberation Church, joined the P.B. and J. assembly line, and started slinging peanut butter. I struck up a conversation with the current intern with Bridgetown Ministries. She gave up her summer to orchestrate B-Town Kids (similar in spirit to Nightstrike under the Burnside Bridge, but aimed at impoverished children in low-income apartment complexes). As we were talking my mind started drifting back to an impossible thought that has been rolling around in my brain since I first started doing Nightstrike regularly; to become more involved with Bridgetown Ministries then only as a volunteer on Friday nights. I swiftly push this thought out of my mind. I have already mulled over this possibility hundreds of times. My priority at this point in life is firstly school, and to pay for school, secondarily work....

My mind began to race; the gears began turning, my brain scrambling, questioning, devising, calculating, searching, and my heart longing. I spoke with Marshall, the director of Bridgetown Ministries, that night. Was it possible?

A couple weeks have passed with the whole situation in limbo. I was finally able to get together for a few hours with Marshall to discuss the whole situation. I have tried to refrain from talking too much about the situation because I didn't want to create high expectations for myself. But at this point, all lights are green.

Exciting? You better believe it. Scary? No doubt about it. I will essentially be an urban missionary intern. Quite different from the steady cushy cubicle job I'm used to. Will people be willing to support me so that I can pay the bills? That is part of the leap of faith I am stepping out in.

"In your presence God, I'm completely satisfied"

Thursday, September 06, 2007

New Season of Life

Two weeks ago today I was told "Tomorrow is your last day". No warning. That was a bombshell that tore through my plans for the next year. I had been sitting in the same cubicle doing the same job for 2 1/2 years. In that time span I had weathered 3 layoffs, watching as grown men walked out of the building in tears. I still cannot possibly know the hurt they were experiencing. This was not my career. I have no family to support.

Though, there was still loss.

I had planned to stick around another year to pay my way through college. I finally had an inviting foliage filled cubicle. But the hardest part of leaving was I had wonderful coworkers who had become my friends and who I greatly appreciated sharing life with.

Everything is changing. I just finished my last class at MHCC (13 credits of Spanish in 10 weeks. Possibly the toughest load I have ever taken in the university). I have signed a lease on an apartment in downtown Portland. I have completed registration and orientation for Portland State University.

I had intended for my job to provide me comfort. Comfort in financial security, comfort in the routine, comfort in complacency, comfort in my own self sufficiency.

In the moments following the news, staring blankly at my computer screen, I gave up my life to Jesus. I knew this only added to the drastic changes occurring and I began to grasp how God was/is/will be using this in my life. He is giving me an opportunity, beckoning me, to lean on him that much more going into this new season of life.
John 7:38 "Have faith in me, and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you, just as the Scriptures say."
More exciting news coming...