Monday, June 26, 2006

I really wanted to write a "vent post" tonight, but I just can't. And if I vent anything, let me vent that it ticks me off that this will be the end of my venting due to one of those convicting moments.

Today I spent my lunch break on hold with the Oregon Department of Revenue after receiving a notification in the mail of a penalty on my 2005 tax return. Alex, the incredibly nice government lackey who had the joy of helping me today, discovered that the check that I sent in to pay my 2005 tax was applied to a bill from 2000. Interesting that I had a bill from 2000 considering I didn't even move to Oregon until 2004. I have since written a letter, to be mailed tomorrow, asking for a correction of this problem.

This I wanted to write out in sordid detail in order to somehow make me feel better about the government screw-up and my wasted lunch, but then I read a friend's recent post, then another friend's post. And then I remembered what Jesus said on the matter of government and taxes: give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's (Matthew 22:21).

I have to say that we are blessed to live in the country that we do. I don't think any of us who have seen the horrors of third world life whether directly or indirectly could deny that we are blessed. But I'm not one to stand up in American pride. I'm much more likely to be complaining about the state of the country and it's egotism. But this I am rethinking us well.

Jesus had very little to say about Rome. I believe his silence on the subject was because Jesus lived for a nation and a Kingdom that was not of this earth. Rome was not important to him. What was important was being merciful and loving people. What was important was his message that the Kingdom of God is very, very near.

So maybe if Rome wasn't important to Jesus, the US doesn't need to be so important to us. I'm not saying don't vote or pay your taxes, though the latter was looking rather appealing earlier today. I'm not saying don't enjoy the freedoms you have as an American. I'm just saying maybe it's not important enough to really worry about. What is more important is being merciful and loving people and loving God.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Two stories on Dateline NBC tonight grabbed me. Each a story of heroes. Incredibly different, but heroes none the less.

The first you have probably all heard. It is the story of Lincoln Hall, the Everest climber who miraculous lived after his climbing party had left him for dead. The hero Dan Mazur: the man who, along with two other climbers, gave up his opportunity to summit in order to save the dilusional climber. They lacked two hours reaching the summit. They gave up an ultimate opportunity to save him, even after watching other climbers pass them by to reach the goal.

The second, the story of an American couple, the Salems, who adopted twins from Russia, a baby boy and girl. Two years later, they discovered that their twins had four older siblings, a set of twin girls and a set of twin boys. The older siblings were separated from each other and living in orphanages across Russia. Without a second thought, the Salems did all they could to bring the children together in one home. They pulled off the impossible, despite extreme financial strain and an uncooperative Russian government. All six children are healthy and happy. The Salems, heroes to six Russian children who faced unbeatable odds.

I'm glad to know that there are heroes such as these in the world.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Along with a major move come a few standard questions that people feel entitled to ask to get the ball rolling in conversation:
Where did you move from? Why are you moving here? How do you like it so far?

Then come the more situational specific questions, for instance, when I run into a Christian or when I'm visiting a church:
What's your church history? or What was your last church like?
And then my favorite question: What are you looking for in a church?

This question makes me feel as though I have just stepped into conversation with a real estate agent: Well, you see I'm buying my first home, so I'd like something affordable. A place in a good neighborhood with lots of families, good schools close by. I'd like a big backyard, someplace I can really relax. It has to be at least three bedrooms and two baths. Oh, and I'd really like a white picket fence out front.

Or maybe that I'm standing in the buffet line: Yes, the fried chicken, no I don't want that. Could I have some of that please. Mash potatoes, yes. No, not white, brown gravy. Of course I'd like pie, let's see, I believe peach this time around.

When did the body coming together in worship become a smorgasbord of choice and pleasure? What I'm looking for in a church is as simple as this: a body that loves God and loves people. I don't think it needs to be any more complicated than that.

The buffet line. I can't help but wondering what out of this glorious buffet Jesus would choose. Would He seek out the best worship style, the most dynamic preacher, the friendliest greeters? The most comfortable pews? The most weekly activities? No, I don't think so. I don't think those things are really all that important to Him. We still lack the understanding of what "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" really means. Could it be that all of the choices out there are simply a distraction from what really matters: Jesus?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I've been without internet for almost a week now. Checked in at "hot spots" here and there to make sure I wasn't missing any incredibly important emails, but I've mostly been without.

Today, the cable guy finally came and I now have broadband and wireless in my apartment. I'm a very happy person. I missed email and the internet.

I find Barnes and Noble to be a highly amusing place to work. There is a great mixture of employees and a great mixture of customers. Something I really enjoy. It keeps you on your toes and keeps the day interesting.

Today I got treated to lunch by an author who we are helping to get into the B&N system and doing a signing with next month. Olive Garden, yumm, yumm, and he insisted on buying us dessert. A rare occurrence, but a great one to take part of.

Thus far, I really enjoying working customer service. I enjoy talking to customers, helping them find the book that they are searching for, and seeing what interesting titles they come up with. It's amazing the books that are out there!

I'm almost completely unpacked. I'll put up pictures soon. If you emailed me in the past week, I'll be getting back to you soon. I've got lots of emails to catch up on, so I'll get to you as soon as possible!