Tag: understanding (page 1 of 2)

Introducing a Neighboring Challenge

Is it just me or does it seem like the level of angry rhetoric, distrust, and division in our world has reached a level that looks a little like this?

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You might say righteous anger is warranted, and sometimes it is. But the next time you are criticizing another – whether someone across the political aisle or across your church aisle, notice the feeling that wells up in you.

Is there a little bit of satisfied self-righteousness? I confess, there is for me.

I think the righteous anger of Jesus is accompanied by a deep sadness and desire for understanding and reconciliation. But is ours? Or are we more motivated by a “win”?

Our neighborhoods may look delightful but be divided.

Jesus calls each of us to be peacemakers. He is a welcoming God, a listening God, a connector, a reconciler and a restorer, and we should be too.

But “Peacemaker” sounds like such a big brave word – like CHANGE THE WORLD. NOW.

It sounds like it must involve world travel, high level contacts, or a job in the State Department, right?

“Too much”, you say.

“Not my job”, you say.

To that I respond, “Peace starts with a cup of coffee and a listening ear.”

The wisdom that comes from God is first utterly pure, then peace-loving, gentle, approachable, full of tolerant thoughts and kindly actions, with no breath of favouritism or hint of hypocrisy. And the wise are peace-makers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness—in other people and in themselves. James 3:18 Phillips

In the Bible, God talks a lot about our neighbors – the ones near, who we know, and the ones far away. We are called to love them all as we love ourselves. But how can we do that if we have no contact with them?

In order to neighbor we need to know.

Sooooo, I want to propose a week-long Neighboring Challenge. For each post I’ll share a passage of Scripture on neighboring and include an action step you may want to take.

Now I can just hear you young mama’s yelling “Nooooo! Not one more thing to DO!!!”

Settle down. I get it. No worries. This will not be a huge deal, and it will be a great way to model and include your kids in peacemaking. I’ll even try to include some stuff specifically for them.

I’d love to have you join in and share your experience in the comments or on Instagram with the hashtag #neighboring  so we can encourage each other. But if you just want read and watch, that’s fine too!

There have been several experiences recently that have prompted me to do this. One of them has been reading Scott Saul’s book, Befriend: Create Belonging in an age of Judgment, Isolation and Fear. If you want a good companion book for this neighboring challenge, I’d recommend it!

 

 

How You Can Bring World Peace with Three Words

I’m driving to lunch, and talking to Mom on my cell phone. “I’m going to meet an Imam!” (I say excitedly)

Mom: You’re going to meet a New Mom??! (she says just as excitedly)

Me: No, but that’s ok, I had to Google the difference between an “Imam” and a “Sheik” this morning. I’m a newbie.

All I know is we’re not meeting at “Porkbellys” as Mom calls it.

I’ve always been globally aware, but I blame my friends Lynne and Todd for encouraging this newer socially awkward 5-year-old me who anxiously says, “Will you be my friend?” to people of different colors, faiths, political orientations…Even Vegans, for Pete’s sake.

I’m convinced that World Peace may start with the three words, “Let’s Do Lunch”. 

We need to get up close and personal with those different from us, but it takes some effort when Jews are the most different-from-me folks in my neighborhood.

We need to be “neighboring” rather than “othering”, and for someone to become a “neighbor” rather than an “other” requires a conversation…the beginning of a relationship.

Anyway, John is meeting with this Imam and I feel like a toddler begging, “Let me come too! I wanna be friends too!”

I have QUESTIONS! I really want to understand those who are different from me – especially Muslims who have been so “otherized” by the media.

As I walk into Ciao Bella I wonder if our Imam will look askance at me wearing jeans and Converse sneakers.

We sit down together and fortunately, Asad is extremely gracious and patient as I pepper him with stuff like, “Will it offend you if I have bacon in my salad?” (No, those are my dietary laws, not yours.” Smile.)

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Asad orders fish for lunch, has a wife but no kids, and lives in the suburbs.

He says information and statistics aren’t as important as plain old proximity. He says if you have a pediatrician or a car mechanic who is a Muslim, it goes a long way to put a check in your spirit when the media paints them all as terrorists.

Still, Asad does give us some facts:

  • Part of being a Muslim means loving and following Jesus.
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus is mentioned more times in the Koran than in the Bible.
  • Only 20% of Muslims are Arabs, but our stereotypes of Islam come exclusively from the Arab world.
  • Muslims and Christians together make up 50% of the world. By 2040 they will make up 2/3 of the world population. If Muslims and Christians can’t get along then World Peace doesn’t stand a chance.

Why am I being painfully vulnerable, sharing my faltering attempts to make new friends? 

I believe World Peace can start with a step as small as lunch. We can do this! (We could start a new peace-making service called “It’s Just Lunchif it wasn’t already taken!) We can de-Trumpize rhetoric, but it needs to begin with us.

“We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country.” David Brooks

John, Asad, and I leave lunch with a plan to gather 75 people from our church to attend a dinner at Asad’s mosque during Ramadan. We’ll go, we’ll listen, we’ll make friends.

The start of world peace.

Who can you invite to lunch this week?

 

5 Characteristics of Healthy Community

Who are your people? Do you have a group of friends who are your tribe, or your “home team”? Those people you can tell the truth to and they won’t throw you out? They may kick you in the butt when that’s needed, but they’ll also hug you and say “It’s gonna be ok honey”.

My husband, John, has gotten a little bit sick of me raving about a community of young married couples I have the privilege of hanging out with. They are called Catalyst, and they inspire the socks off me.

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Right from the start, they have leaned into the sacrament of community. They are my heroes in this regard.

There are five vivid snapshots of our life-together that come to mind, highlighting characteristics of authentic, life-giving community. I thought they might be helpful to share: Continue reading

How Three Questions and an Olive Harvest Can Lead to Peace

Olive branch: something that is said or done to make peace or to show that you want peace : a symbol of peace.

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It was three years ago this fall that I had the incredible experience of participating in an olive harvest in Palestine, alongside women who have been doing this for years.

We are clumsy; they are sure-footed as we climb high up into the branches of hundred year old trees.

We watch these strong, brave women show us how to strip the branches, causing the olives to fall onto tarps below where their children clean off stray leaves and twigs, collecting them into baskets.

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We use sign language and simple words to ask questions.

They share their lunch with us – chicken cooked long and slow in a hole dug in the earth while the sound of olives plopping on tarps on the ground fills the morning air.

We dance with them and sing around the leftover scraps and chicken bones, resting under the shade of the olive trees.

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They take us on a walk to show us land that has been taken from them over the years, shrinking their livelihood.

They are Muslims. We are Christians. They are Palestinians. We, Americans. They live oppressed. We enjoy freedom and abundance.

But we are all mothers, daughters, sisters, wives. All with hopes and dreams and fears for our families.

I’ve been thinking again lately about olives, olive trees, and olive branches of peace that are so desperately needed in a season of violence and mistrust. Continue reading

Is the Story You’re Telling Yourself True?

Confession: I haven’t been a raving Brené Brown fan. I like Brené Brown’s material on vulnerability, but I don’t love it. It hasn’t been revolutionary for me, probably because I’m too open as it is. I don’t need any encouragement in that area.

However, last month at the Global Leadership Summit, she spoke and I wished so much that John had been sitting next to me so I could elbow him about every other word she said. (Never mind that he would have been elbowing me too.) The material, from her new book Rising Strong, was painfully relevant.

According to her, “Our brain is wired to make up a story to explain every difficult human interaction—whether it’s true or not. That story helps us interpret the discomfort by protecting our ego and self-image.” Continue reading

The Fence

Monday I wrote about “those places”.  The sacred spots where God seems to break through the everyday haze of earthly stuff and remind us He’s there if we’re willing to pay attention.  Some of you shared wonderful stories of “your places” in the comments.  And then I received this from my delightful friend Liz, who lives in New Zealand.  She is a pray-er and a photographer, and former World Vision board member, but most of all she’s a Jesus follower.   
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Enough

I’m writing this from the balcony of another hotel in Israel.  This time in Jerusalem.  It’s early morning and church bells were just echoing nearby.  I kind of expect to see Maria from the Sound of Music scurrying by below me – late to morning mass.  But here she’d be passing Imams and Rabbis as she ran.  A tad different than Salzburg.

My times here in the Middle East are always ones of competing images.

Yesterday morning we spent time in Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. I try to picture him running the hills of pine and cypress trees and working by His father, the carpenter. In the afternoon we were in Galilee, where Jesus fed crowds, and healed and preached on the Mount of Beatitudes.  He walked on the water and calmed the same.

And Jesus walks alongside me with the command that often seems impossible, “Be still and know that I am God.”

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Alongside these visual reminders of Jesus’ time on earth are the overwhelming images of a land divided, a land in conflict – unable, seemingly, to get along.  Israelis and Palestinians.  Christians, Muslims, Jews.  Some think supporting the state of Israel means hating Arabs. Others think that those who want to talk about the plight of Palestinians must hate Israel. Continue reading

Changing the Conversation

Last night most of America was watching the Oscars...the red carpet beautiful people who seem to be as good at dodging questions as a politician running for office.  Many questions the press hurls at them are inappropriately personal or just stupid.  Who wouldn’t want to avoid some of that?  But there are other times when changing the conversation is positive, and important to growth.

This afternoon I’m leaving on a trip to Israel/Palestine.  I’m traveling with a few people from our church, led by Telos, an organization we’ve been partnering with that desires to engage evangelicals in conversations with Israelis and Palestinians pursuing peace.

This is hard stuff.  Complicated and intense and emotional, and personal for so many.  Frankly, I might prefer it if Jesus invited me to follow Him into, say…Hawaii maybe. Continue reading

What a Drive-By Taught me About Peace in Israel

Peace.  We hear a lot about it.  Or the lack of it.  We talk about it when we talk about the Olympics.  Or Syria.  Or anywhere there’s been a shooting at a mall or school.  In a few weeks I’m heading back to Israel/Palestine with an organization called Telos that has the goal of working with evangelicals to help positively trans­form the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  They are pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, and pro-peace.  I thought it might be timely to share two posts from a couple years ago. Here’s the first.

Last week I was driving around running errands, preparing for our daughters to arrive for a visit and for me to leave for Israel/Palestine.  I changed into the left lane to zip ahead of an old blue-green mini station wagon.  As I accelerated past I noticed the car was significantly bashed in as if from an accident.  A man was driving the car, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone.

Confession.  Here are the three thoughts that went through my head:  This guy is irresponsible, unsafe, and makes unhealthy choices. Continue reading

Peace in the Middle East and at Starbucks

You see, I have this table at Starbucks.  It’s mine“.  Everyone knows it’s my office of sorts.  Every morning I arrive early and work there for several hours.

The toddler who peeks around the corner each day looking to share his cheese crackers with me knows where I am.

The ever-present chatty Brit – the “Norm” of our “Cheers” knows where to find me.

Mark, the doctor, stops by to say “hi”.

Anyone who ever meets with me ever knows where to come.

I like to think it’s a place where kingdom work is being pursued.

And I like to think there’s a special ambiance or aura around my table.  I feel more inspired when I sit there.  It’s comfortable.  I can spread out.  And it’s the perfect distance from coffee and people.  Close enough to be convenient, and far enough to not be interrupted too much.

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So here’s the problem. Continue reading

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