Tag Archives: love your neighbor

Tell Them.

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. This will be your opportunity to bear witness…By your endurance you will gain your lives…

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations and perplexity because of the roaring at the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and the foreboding of what is coming on the world…Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your head because your redemption is drawing near.” Luke 21:25-28
Jesus talking about the end times.

Listen to her story. (heard at the Hawaii Conservation Conference)

Urgency. Tell them. Tell people about the fact that their islands, their homes, their country, are disappearing under the rising ocean.  We need to walk in justice and be the voice for those who are overlooked.  If the United States was being swallowed by water, the whole earth would sure as hell hear about it.  But a tiny set of islands in the middle of the Pacific?  No one cares, nor hears.

And tell the people too, who don’t know Jesus about who He is and what He has done. Tell them.  The time to start is now.

I fully believe the birth pangs have begun.

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We know what injustice looks like.

With the verdict out on Trayvon Martin’s case, and a man walking free, there’s a cry for Justice. Race is powerful in today’s society, whether we choose to see it or not.  As an Asian American whose only language is English, I’ve had my AP English teachers ask me if English was my first language, I’ve had an elderly black woman ask where I’m from–no really, where are you from?, I’ve had people shout out “That’s how we do things in America!” as I’m crossing the street (whatever that even means…), and I’ve seen the news broadcast just last week that claimed the pilots of the crashed Asiana flight were “Ho Lee Fuk”, “Wi Tu Low”, and “Bang Ding Ow”.  Really, America?  You decide that a plane crash is an appropriate time to make a racist joke out of Asian names on broadcast television (as if there were ANY appropriate time for such behavior)?

But worse than that, an unarmed (though apparently they claim the sidewalk is a weapon now…) teenage boy is dead.  And his killer walks free.  It’s true that the media loves to sensationalize, and no one knows exactly what happened except for Trayvon and George Zimmerman, but nevertheless, we know the system is huge and broken. So what now? What can we do?

This morning I heard a recounting of Dr. John Perkins’ talk at Reed College. He spoke about growing up black in Mississippi, and wanting to seek vengeance after his war vet brother was shot and killed by white police men at a movie theater. He spoke of being forced by his family to flee to California before his actions made him another “dead Perkins”. He spoke too, of finding faith through his son, and returning to Mississippi, not for violent vengeance, but to seek civil rights.

During one of his demonstrations, his students were arrested and carted away to the most racist county in the state.  They called him, and he answered.  When he arrived, Dr. Perkins, defenseless, was thrown into a police station’s windowless back room and beaten within an inch of his life. As they struck him again and again, he suffered a heart attack, and he watched his own blood spray and splatter the walls.

But “as I lay there at the feet of those huge, white police officers, I looked up into their faces…twisted with anger…immediately my heart was filled with compassion. Seeing them, all I could think was, “Dear Jesus, what pain these men must have endured in their lives to feel such hatred. Have mercy on them.”

I teared up when I heard the verdict, and I cried when I heard this story.  We know what injustice looks like.  Our hearts ache and cry out for wrongs to be punished, because we know that there is a cost for brokenness, and we know that somehow, it must be paid.

But as I listened to the story of Dr. Perkins, his blood on the walls, and a prayer on his lips, I immediately thought of another man, beaten, flogged, ridiculed, who also prayed for those who persecuted him, asking the Lord for their forgiveness, because they knew not what the did.  And it was for him that I truly cried.  To speak forgiveness for those who seek your life is radical.  To choose to love and have compassion on them who spare no whip and grant no mercy on you is unheard of.

We know what injustice looks like.  Our hearts ache and cry out for wrongs to be punished, because we know that there is a cost for brokenness, and we know that somehow, it must be paid.  And this, Jesus, was the ultimate injustice.  The innocent being found guilty, while the offenders walk free. While we walk free.  

The story wasn’t over yet.  “There is no hope,” Dr. Perkins continued. “There is no hope [for our broken communities], apart from the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.” Finally, when he was done speaking, the students gave him a standing ovation.

What can we do? Stand up for ‪#‎Justice‬ and strive for ‪#‎Reconciliation‬ , even when it’s your blood on the walls. 

He has showed you, o man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

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Gullible Grace.

gullible

adjective trustinginnocentnaiveunsuspectinggreensimplesillyfoolishunsophisticatedcredulousborn yesterdaywet behind the ears (informal), easily taken in, unsceptical, as green as grass I’m so gullible I believed him.
antonyms: worldlysophisticatedsuspiciouscynicaluntrusting
Another one of my ‘dictionary’ entries, I suppose.
So last week a friend/coworker/supervisor (we have a complicated relationship) told me that when she first met me, not only did she think that I was homeschooled, and had lived a very sheltered childhood, but she told me that she “couldn’t believe that someone as gullible as [me] has survived for so long.”
We’re relatively good friends, we spend lots of time together at work, and have gone out for dinner a number of times, and in general, I feel like she’s someone I can trust.  I know she cares about me (she’s not one to either be emotional or even talk about emotions, but she has told me that she does care), and I know she didn’t intend to hurt me.  She’s very intelligent, logical, sarcastic, cynical, and quite frankly, judgmental, and so I never take her jabs to heart.
This time, however,I can’t seem to shake off her words.  She said that people must take advantage of me all the time, because I believe the good in people and am too trusting.
For one, I haven’t been taken advantage of in a major way (to my knowledge), and I tend not to surround myself with disingenuous people in the first place.  In addition, I’m a product of the public school system, but I will admit to having lived a suburban childhood and college experience. After I graduated, I lived in a neighborhood in the city of Chicago that had blue police cameras (indicating high crime), was in the process of being gentrified, but for the most part was full of families (and a couple gangs).
For some reason though, her words have made me take a closer look at myself.  Is there a Biblical basis for my trusting outlook on life and others?  Or am I being naive and my worldview needs to shift?  Who does God call us to be?  What should our interactions with others look like?
I am optimistic, generally joyful, and I will give people the benefit of the doubt, unless they have given me reason not to.  I also realize that people act certain ways oftentimes as a product of what they’ve experienced in their lives, though I wholeheartedly believe that God can and does take the worst experiences and turn that pain into deep loving compassion in many people. We often don’t know the struggles that people have experienced or are currently experiencing, so how can we judge?
On the flip side of things, it is true that we are all sinful people.  No one is righteous, no not even one.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3).  We all have within us the capacity for evil, since they day that we were born.  Not just the capacity, or the ability to do evil–but even so far as the propensity for evil.  We are naturally inclined to walk in ways that go against what our Creator desires for us.
How many times have we done something that we knew was wrong, or unkind, but we willingly did it anyway?  Paul puts it best–“I don’t understand what I do.  What I want to do, I cannot do, and I hate what I do.”   We know that murder, lying, cheating, lust, all carries penalties.  We have seen the scars that selfishness has left upon the earth as we’ve pillaged and plundered resources and force children to mine minerals and ores for little to no pay.  We have seen marriages end because of lust and lack of self control.  We have seen friendships end over lies.  And we have seen and known the tears and heartache that come from having someone we care about ripped out of our embrace too soon.  Whole industries are made profitable upon the backs of others, whether they are children, men, or women because of the selfishness of consumers.
Does this mean that we should consider all people to be completely base and corrupt?  Does this mean that we should seek to protect our own selves by expecting the worst in others?
Does this mean that we only let people into our hearts in so far as they deserve?
Perhaps, to some.  There is certainly wisdom in guarding your heart, as Proverbs says that the wellspring of life flows from it.  And in truth, there are a lot of people who will take advantage of your kindness or your trusting nature.
When I was younger, I attended a church in Chicago’s Chinatown.  On Sundays, Chinatown was full of people who would come and catch a glimpse of Chinese culture.  In addition, there were a lot of people who lived on the streets, and often asked for money.  Our church has a policy of not giving money out, but instead offering a meal and if there’s time, company.  One Sunday, one of my friends brought a man into one of the restaurants and told him he could have whatever he wanted to eat.  He ordered the most expensive dish on the menu, but unfortunately, my friend couldn’t stay to talk.  She rushed off to Sunday School, and left the man waiting there for his takeout.  As soon as my friend had left, the man asked to cancel the order and take the money instead.  Another person at our church watched the exchange, and told us later what had transpired.
A small thing, but the principle is the same.  People will take what they want from you, especially if you seem like an easy target.
But we are called to Love.  It’s the second greatest commandment, behind loving the Lord.  To love one another as Jesus has loved us, and by this all people will know that we are His.
To be willing to lay down your life for your friends.
I could be wrong, but I can’t think of an instance where we are told to withhold anything from others.  If anything, he tells us to spend ourselves on behalf of the poor, to give the cloak off our backs, to turn the other cheek, to open our homes to strangers because in doing so we may be entertaining angels, and yes, ultimately, to be willing to give our lives for others. In addition, when Jesus was sending out disciples, he told them not to bring anything but to rely on people for their needs, building relationships with people in the town, and shaking off the dust when they were rejected.
God as our example won us over not with guilt, laws, and by withholding blessings from us.  He won us over with love and kindness.  It’s his kindness that leads us to repentance, and the law is there to show us how far we have fallen and how we are not capable of living a wholly God pleasing life.  And He gave us the law not to lord it over us and tell us that there is no hope for us, instead he showed us our need and then provided the way to love, to relationship with him at his expense.  He is the one who spent himself on behalf of others.  He is the one that gave his cloak to be cast for lots, his flesh, his blood, his life for us.  If he is the example, we can hold nothing back.
Loving kindness.  Loving generously.  And not expect people to be perfect–but quite the opposite. Know that we are all fallen people, and that should in turn drive us to compassion, and not towards self-protection.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” C.S. Lewis
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Day 3 of the 5 Day Challenge: 600

I couldn’t do it.  I added 1/4 cup of vegetables (carrots onions lentils) to my rice and beans again, and again at dinner I added my chicken nugget size piece of chicken.

I realized today that my daily routine is disrupted.  So many times I’ve instinctively reached for a piece of food, or had the desire to go into the kitchen, and I have to stop myself.  Even today at the Shedd they’re honoring volunteers and they had a smorgasboard of granola, cereal, nuts, chocolate, pretzels, goldfish, yogurt, etc.  And I was about to reach for a cup to make myself a parfait when I realized that I can’t.

I’ve been on a weight loss/health gain/lifestyle change since the end of January.  I started using a site called Sparkpeople.com (highly recommend it) and have used it to track my meals, calorie intake, and exercise.  I try so hard to plan my meals in advance, to stay inside my calorie limit of 1300-1550 calories a day.  CALORIES A DAY.  I try to keep my meals (lunch and dinner) to 600 calories.  I was afraid of entering the rice and beans into the meal tracker because I was afraid of how few calories would be in it.  Food for 1 day (+ oatmeal):

A packet of oatmeal, one cup of white rice, and a cup of black beans is less than 600 calories in a day.

And on a daily basis I was eating 600 calories a meal.

On Sparkpeople they also have something that calculates and breaks down your meals into grams of carbs, protein, fat, calories, and sodium.  Here’s my report for the day, and you can even see the levels that I was hitting in the previous week:

I mean just notice what spark says about not hitting your goals for any of these–it’s important to get the right amount simply so that your body can function!  And keep in mind my goals are reduced since I’m 500 less calories than the normal recommended amount.

And as I sit here in my room, I still can’t get over the fact that I just have so much unnecessary stuff.  Nearly everything in my room is unnecessary.  Our nation is a nation of incredible excess.  Disgustingly so.  I’ve grown up being surround by so much food, eating so much of it, that now me, along with millions of other people, are trying to lose weight.  And we live in a country where it’s not just overweight people that try to lose weight, we have people who are literally starving themselves so they can look thinner.  When halfway around the world there are people who would gladly eat the leftovers we so carelessly throw away.  (Please don’t think I’m making light of eating disorders of any kind–either overeating or undereating, I just can’t get over the contrast) Think of all the produce that we throw out because it went bad, or because it hit the floor.  All the leftover food at restaurants that gets thrown away.  I remember being amazed to learn that even if you don’t touch those rolls that are sitting in the bread basket, they have to be thrown away due to sanitation reasons.  THROWN AWAY.

This is the amount of food that is thrown away by the average family of four in America.  PER MONTH.  This comes from restaurants throwing away left over food on plates, food that never got served, from grocery stores that throw out produce with cosmetic blemishes because no one will buy it, from families that throw out produce that went bad, leftovers that went bad, etc.  According to the New York Times (in 2008), it’s about a pound of food a day PER PERSON.  This could feed dozens of people for a month.

Even just the fact that we ship up strawberries from Latin American in the dead of winter so we can have berries year-round.  It uses hundreds or thousands of gallons of gas to get it here.  All of that money could be used to feed literally MILLIONS of people…but we love our strawberries.  And that’s just one produce–think of the avocados, broccoli, beans, lettuce, tomatoes…honestly only root vegetables are in season here in Chicago.  Everything else in the produce department is shipped from some warmer place.  And I’m guilty, I’m not excusing myself from indulging in year round produce…I just can’t believe that this is how we spend our money so that we can live in a perpetual Garden of Eden.  We want what God provided so long ago without even realizing it, and we’re using all of our resources to get it…forgetting about the rest of the world while we’re at it.

I hate sitting in this tension between beginning to understand the problems in the world, and not being able to tackle them.  “The problem was so big and pervasive it was like the wallpaper of Africa.”  So what can we do??  I guess it starts with me.

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Day 2 of the 5 Day Challenge: Feeling Ill and Picky Eaters

The truth is that 25,000 people will die today of hunger, and 1 billion will go to bed hungry tonight.

“The problem [hunger] was so immense that it was like background noise, like the wallpaper of Africa.  What good is education, or medicine if the children and people are hungry?  Our best laid lesson plans go to waste if our children are so hungry or weak that they can’t pay attention.  The medicine to combat AIDS or HIV–it advises us to take it with food, or with a full glass of water.” –Roger Thurow, former journalist for the Wall Street Journal who was so impacted by what he saw that he left his job and now works to end world hunger

Today is Day 2 of Willow Creek’s challenge to eat like the Bottom Billion: on $1 or 2.5 cups of food a day.  Since the point of this blog is for me to tell the truth about what I’m going through and thinking, I will not try to make my thoughts sound better than they are, though they do sound terribly selfish.  (Which they are.)

Yesterday was not as terrible as I expected.  Obviously I ate far tastier, nutritious food than just the white rice and beans, since I had Mexican rice (white rice, chicken stock, spices, some veggies), refried beans, and black beans.  The hunger pains came only an hour after I’d eaten, but they quietly subsided when the growls weren’t addressed.  At dinner, it took a lot of self restraint for me to finish my rice and beans and not reach for more, or reach for the rice pilaf and shrimp that my mom had made.  I tried to eat the latest dinner that I could so that I wouldn’t have to go to bed hungry.  But after I ate dinner, those hunger pains reared their ugly heads and were reawakened.   I was hungrier than I had been before dinner.  But again, after a series of angry roars, they slipped back into the shadows.  And so I went to bed not hungry, but not satisfied.

This morning, I woke up, ate my oatmeal before going to work.  The jobs I do are physical in nature.  Since I ate my oatmeal, I have been hungry.  I slip into the back office to take a spoonful of rice and beans.    The taste is fine, I actually like eating my black beans and rice.  To me, it tastes good.  But I see now that it’s the portion that really gets to you.  I knew it in my head, 2 cups of food a day (mindful that’s a generous portion) is not a lot.  Especially after I measured it out yesterday.  But today, I keep looking at my bowl of white rice and black beans, again, measured out one cup of each into the bowl that I’ll be eating from all day.  And every time I sneak into the back room to steal my spoonful of food, I wonder how I’m going to make this last all day.

I couldn’t do it.  By noon a pervasive throbbing headache had begun and by around 3pm I was alternating between feeling hungry and nauseous at the same time.  After an hour of suffering through it, I asked my boss for a Tylenol, and even with that I left about half an hour early.  It just occurs to me now, over a day later as I write this retroactively, that I wouldn’t have had access to Tylenol if I was really living like the bottom billions.  And again…how even on this challenge everything about my life is so vastly different than theirs.  What I’m doing doesn’t even begin to compare to what they go through every day.  And I still don’t know what to do about it.

I seriously considered not eating dinner, just because I didn’t want to spend the night clutching a bucket.  That’s when I realized that again, if I really lived like my brothers and sisters, would I really have the choice to not eat?  Would I know when my next meal would come?

I was so grateful that I arrived home in one piece that day.  I had to lie down after work, and then this is where I broke down.  On Day 2!!! 😦  We’re allowed to add a little veggies and a chicken nugget sized piece of meat to our meals, and I hadn’t intended to use that idea at all.  But while I was sitting down to dinner, my mom was worried about me.  She’s been trying to get me to eat more the past couple of days–veggies, rice pilaf, meat, just because she’s worried about what I’m doing to myself–how weak I’ll feel etc.  So that evening I added a sixth of a  cup of stewed/boiled carrots, onions, and lentils to my bowl, along with a chicken nugget sized piece of chicken breast.  I couldn’t even last 2 days.  And all I really wanted was some chicken noodle soup to ease my churning stomach.

A chicken nugget and veggies are a luxury.  And here we live in a country where (Man vs. Food) one person can eat 5+ pounds of food in one meal.  When that much food could literally feed a family.  I kid you not he took on this one and ate all but one slider in half an hour!

At my job on Monday, we serviced a fish tank in a wealthy family’s home.  And this little girl is the wealthiest little girl that I actually know.  She’s an only child, and her live in nanny was telling me that when she (the nanny) first started taking care of her, the little girl only ate 5 things.  She would refuse any other food that was put in front of her.  Since then, she’s opened up to other foods, but this is what she had for breakfast and lunch that day:

Cocoa Puffs for breakfast

Chocolate cake for morning snack

Pizza and cucumbers for lunch

Balanced diet it is not.  lol  But this is the picture of a little girl (she’s thin) who can indulge herself in only a select number of foods that she actually enjoys because her parents can afford it.   Picky eaters is a common syndrome amongst American children.  I was probably one of them.  And most of our parents (not all, even in a nation as wealthy as America) can afford to continue to buy foods that we’ll eat, or continue to buy new and different food to get us to try new things.  We live in a country where people risk their lives on extremely dangerous fishing boats in order to bring us crab meat and lobster that we don’t really need, we just want.

We can afford variety.  We can afford 5 food groups.  We talk so much about trying to make sure our kids get a healthy, balanced, diet of everything they need, and we feed them formula because breastfeeding is too inconvenient, or too uncomfortable.  We feed them Pediasure in 5 different flavors to make sure that our kids will like at least one of them and get the vitamins they need since they don’t eat their veggies.  We hide servings of vegetables in canned Chef Boyardee, in spaghetti sauce, in V8, and in apple juice, because our kids (and even our adults) don’t get enough veggies.  What does that even mean, “we don’t get enough veggies” when people around the world rarely have any??

A daily menu of rice and beans it is not.

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