Monday, March 28, 2005

Sunday, March 27, 2005

cen chial a bhaineann tu as sin? Posted by Hello

Daddy's still in bed? I'm ready to go!! Posted by Hello

Mionghaire! (that's Irish for Smile!) Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

It starts with me

My position within the Peace Corps places me in contact with many people who believe that we can make a difference in the world. Recently, I pulled the following from a volunteer's writings --

"The Talmud says that to save one life is to save the world. I think it is so much more. I think each smile or each snarl triggers a chain reaction that changes the world on a daily basis. Not a frozen smile that masks the person lying just underneath the surface -- not a smile that barely hides indifference. But to look at someone, dead on, and smile so that they know you really see them, deep down where they live, and still are happy to be in their presence. That changes someone's day. It changes all their subsequent interactions throughout the day, and consequently changes the world that day. Some days I forget that it starts with me. I feel badly because no one has smiled at me that day, no one has really seen me. Invisibility sets in. And then I remember that it starts with me." -- Alyson Peel, Peace Corps, Swaziland

That is the root of everything ... " It starts with me. "

Alyson works in Swaziland. She was a research scientist, has done some of the most prestigious research work at Berkeley and had recently lost her son to a heart attack. She had a right to see her work as too important and her life too distraught to care about the people in Africa, but she didn't. She saw a need, both in herself to accomplish something and in Africa, a need for healing hands. She would later write to a friend that, "Everything matters. Even the smallest thing can make a great difference."

How often do we do that? How often do we sacrifice our comfort to help others in need?

"30A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead."

We like to tell ourselves that those people in need did something to deserve what happen to them, its God's concern we say, but just maybe God is giving us an opportunity to show his mercy.

"31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side."

And yet we are circuit preachers, more concerned with our status and image and our conservative morality than we are with circulating God's love.

"32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side."

Or we are too clean in our starched white shirts to give a hand to a beggar man, or we are of too great an importance to bend our knee, or we are too busy on our way to our temples of Gold and silver. We would prefer to get ahead on worshipping our time and maybe if we wait long enough God will take care of it himself.

"33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

But maybe if we were to remember the treacherous state God pulled us out of, we could find the heart God bothered to give us

34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.

For what you do to the least of these, you do unto me, he said.

"35The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. "Look after him," he said, "and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have."

Our bill has been paid. Each and every one of us, whether we want to admit it or not, has been bought and paid for. We were the ones deserving of our positions in the ditch. God picked us up and picked up the tab and promised to pay any other expenses we acquire in our life, then he told us, "Be like me." How hard is that? I would much prefer to put my energy behind loving perfectly than criticizing completely. I would prefer to give water to a thirsty child than trivialize drinking alcohol; I would rather share a cup of coffee with a homeless man than debate the morality of homosexuals; I would rather put my coat on the shoulders of the homeless than discuss the decency of someone's clothes. And I think God would prefer that I do that too. He is perfect love and perfect judgment. He only asked me to try and do one of those.

25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27He answered: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind"[
c]; and, "Love your neighbor as yourself."[d]
28"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."

There is a wonderful ambiguity in scripture. This passage was followed by the expert asking, "Who is my neighbor?" segued into Jesus telling the story of the Good Samaritan. That Samaritan was a Stranger in a Strange Land and a far distance from home. In fact, you could probably board a plane and fly halfway round the world in the time it would have taken him to travel to where he came across the man in the ditch. In this modern age, we are all neighbors. This modern age also allows us the leisure of picking someone out of a ditch without leaving the comfort of our own homes.

God gives us plenty of opportunities to be his miracle workers. So, Share the love (, quench a thirst (, heal a wound (, be a neighbor ( Give yourself to God ... He'll point you in the right direction.

I cannot expect peace unless I am willing to act on peace; I cannot expect God to do miracles unless I am willing to be the conduit for that miracle to happen.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Big stretch Posted by Hello

Practicing his Steve McQueen look Posted by Hello

"Liam at rest" by jeff Posted by Hello

"Liam reflecting" by jeff Posted by Hello

"Liam", by jeff Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Let's Transfigure the World Through Peace

1 Peter 3: 8Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

One of the most significant moments in my life came in 1992 when I boarded a Marine Corps helicopter full of rice and food staples for a humanitarian mission to Somalia.

We were tough fighting men, slung with arms and painted for war with wounds of mind and body from fighting the Gulf War, but there we were, doing what I had joined the military for … making a difference in the world.

We were hard and bold and ready for anything but when our heavy laden birds came close to the Earth, we found we had no place to land as the people rushed under the helicopters such was the need for food. The swirling blades kicked up the smell of death as we peered from our roost in heaven looking down on the faces of hell. They were gaunt and delirious and standing on the place we needed to land to give them the gifts we bore for their survival. Then, a Marine leaned forward with a 100 lbs. bag of rice on his shoulder and punctured it with his K-Bar knife and from that simple burlap bag fell grains of survival, showering those desperate souls below as manna fell on the Israelites. Grains of rice swirled up from their descent and pelted us with the force of the rotor wash, leaving little scraps across our skin, but in the end we flew away from that desperate spot of soil, watching the hundreds of villagers covered in thousands of grains of rice and dried beans, raising their hands in thanksgiving and we sat among burlap bags, war hardened fighting men, armed for battle, bearing the scars of humanity, our faces painted in tears. God let us be his miracle that day and he offers us the same possibility ever other day of our lives.

Africa is the cradle of humanity. It is where our lives began, no matter how you believe humanity began, everything points back to Africa. It is a beautiful place, filled with beautiful people, but we have all ruined Africa. We have stolen our livelihoods from her shores, carted away the most precious of her people and elements for our own good and infected her with our social diseases, so when we talk of the problems in Africa, we are talking about our problems as a global community. It is time we took responsibility of our actions. Its time for transfiguration.

I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to make a difference; because I was patriotic and I thought to be a patriot meant that I bent my back into the war machine to force change, but everlasting change does not come by physical force but by intellectual redirection.

I do not deny the effect my Marine Corps compatriots have made in the world because they are there to make a difference. If there were no Marine Corps, the humanitarian relief arm of the U.S. would be greatly impaired, but I believe whole-heartedly that we need to come to a better understanding of peace and the psychology of it to allow my Marine Corps brothers to live not by waging war but by manifesting peace.

There are forces at work in our world that prevent the elimination of war as a tool of peaceful propagation – Adolph Hitler had to stopped by the combined force of many nations, but would that force have been necessary if we had taken a more active part in securing the peace of Germany after the first world war? Would there have been a place for Hitler if there had been love and peace in the years after WWI?

In so many ways, I feel so close to St. Peter. I too have been brash and quick to pick up the sword against injustice thinking I was the one to save, when all along; I was the one to be saved. I too turned by back on God and tried as hard as I could to deny the truth because I didn’t want to think anyone could love me that much. It was easier to have a Jesus as an ideal image of friend, instead of the supreme savior. I too have had to come to terms with my brashness and find a better way through love.

It’s hard not to strike out against injustice, but if Peter had prevented the guards from taking Jesus away, where would we be today? Sometimes God allows injustice to bear witness to his glory. He wants us to be his miracle workers, giving ourselves to him in peace and love because when we are at peace we are malleable to God’s will. God wants to perform miracles through us but we have to make ourselves available to him to do that.

I take that kinship to heart – Peter had a special relationship with Christ. I have thought a great deal about what it must have been like for Peter, sitting on the shore of Galilee, eating a breakfast God himself cooked, suffering under the weight of having denied this perfect relationship. Then, having the weight of that transgression transfigured in three questions and commands – “Do you love me?” Christ asked.

“Take care of my lambs,” “Feed my sheep,” “Follow me.” God wants us to be his miracle workers -- he wants to make a change in our world but we have to make ourselves available to do that work. We are God's partners in this and we need to put our minds to task God gave us through Peter -- "live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing ... love life and see good days ... keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech ... turn from evil ... do good ... seek peace and pursue it.

For an egotistical control freak with a penchant for raising a heavy hand like Peter, that was a great burden to bear, but God’s direction is perfect, even his last command to Peter that day on the beach … “Stop worrying about my relationship with everybody else and focus on what I asked you to do.”

If anyone is interested in supporting my efforts to alleviate the need in Africa, please see, or The African Well Fund at

Together with God, we can transfigure the world.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The wisdom of the universe lies in the eyes of a child. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 04, 2005

What Life is worth

46 million children are aborted globally ever year.
6,000 children are infected with HIV/AIDS every day, adding to the 43 million suffering from the disease.
852 million people worldwide are dying of hunger; out of 100 children born in 2000, 30 will most likely suffer from malnutrition in their first five years of life, 26 will not be immunization against the basic childhood diseases, 19 will lack access to safe drinking water and 40 to adequate sanitation, and 17 will never go to school. In developing countries, every fourth child lives in abject poverty, in families with an income of less than $1 a day.
The most egregious consequence is that nearly 11 million children each year about 30,000 children a day die before reaching their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes. Of these children, 4 million die in their first month of life. In many of the world's poorest countries, child mortality rates have either not changed or else they have worsened. In sub-Saharan Africa, child mortality averages 173 deaths per 1,000 live births, and in South Asia 98 deaths per 1,000 many times the industrialized country average of 7 deaths per 1,000.

The numbers seem so numbing.

We complain about having when the have-nots are dying. We throw out our excess while for others, that excess exceeds all they've ever known.

What is life worth? When are we going to get back our humanity?
We say its not our problem - they live somewhere else, yet we live in a society that legalizes the death of more than 1 million unborn children every year and exports doctors to do the same in other countries. We live in a country that authorized the sterilization of American Indian women in the 1970s. We walk by thousands of homeless families everyday with $4 lattes in our hand and think about how they should get a job. We fight for the right to own guns when guns killed 5 times as many people in the last 10 years as died in the Vietnam Conflict.

What is life worth? When is God going to get fed up with this immoral life we are living? We look at the destruction of Sodom and Gomara and think it was because of the homosexuality, yet it was their contempt for life and hospitality that was a more grievous sin. Christ proved what he could do when we bring all we have to the table -- he turned water into wine, he took loaves and fishes and feed a multitude, he is willing to make miracles happen if we are willing to be the tools through which he can work.

What is life worth? Jesus thought enough of it to give it up for all of us. Maybe we shouldn't waste it scraping our excess down the drain.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

When are they going to stop taking these pictures? Posted by Hello

Hi Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Not what Jesus would do, but what he said for us to do

Have you ever paid attention to what Jesus was telling us to do?

‘love your neighbor as yourself’; ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’; 'love me'; 'Listen and understand'; “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees”; “Don't be afraid”; "Follow me."

In examining the things Jesus told us to do, I was struck by one fact -- he never told us to judge anyone. Everything we are suppose to do is based on love. It is an innate human quality gifted to us by God at birth to love and care for others, and yet we turn our backs on that gift because we want to do Gods job and judge everyone else for their sins. It reminds me of the old saying, "When you're pointing the finger, remember there are four more pointed back at you."

We think that sexual sins are the worst kind of sins and we brandish signs of protest against gay marriage and sexual promiscuity but what exactly are we showing people about Christ? We are showing them that after 2,000 years, his most faithful followers still aren't listening to his message. We tend to forget the compassion and acceptance Christ discipled to the prostitutes and the harsh outbursts he saved for those lining their pockets instead of helping the poor. Showing love and acceptance is about loving the person, its not saying you love the sin; its just doing it the way God would have us to do it.

Without being partison, we judge President Bush with conviction and place him on a pedistal of rightiousness while he wag our tongues at President Clinton for his immorality. We rejoice over his reference to scripture on national television, yet we don't even think about the quietely prayer posture President Clinton assumed after the scandal of his administration. Evangelical author Lee Strobel spoke with conviction about their conversations and the repentent nature of the then president. We forget about forgiveness when its someone elses sin and we forget about the love toward the prodigal son.

We don't have to deminish our duties of disciplining our church congregations to show that love either. At its root, disciplining is about loving, but we need to make sure we understand the guidebook before we try to play tour director. If you're thinking about counseling someone against lust, perhaps you should check yourself against gluttony, pride, greed,envy, anger and sloth.

I'm just glad God loves us, and there's nothing we can do to change that.