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Jesus came to serve. This has become my bottom line.
We spend so much time talking, that we forget that when Jesus spoke, it was almost always in reaction to his actions.
I've opened up posting rights to anyone who want's to talk about how they have, or would like to be, Jesus to others. Simply register to post here, and wait for me to approve your first post.
Dad, do you know what happens when your tooth comes out?
Well, you put them under your pillow, and the tooth fairy comes.
What does the tooth fairy do?
He leaves you a nice shiny coin.
He does, would you like to see what sort of coin he leaves you (taking out a one and two pound coin)
Are you looking forward to when your teeth come out?
Well, maybe we could go on something that knocks into each other?
She must have read it in a book!
I found this while searching for an old email. With all my email imported into Google, I can search right back to 2002…
HU’S ON FIRST
By James Sherman
(We take you now to the Oval Office…)
George: Condi! Nice to see you. What’s happening?
Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China.
George: Great. Lay it on me.
Condi: Hu is the new leader of China.
George: That’s what I want to know.
Condi: That’s what I’m telling you.
George: That’s what I’m asking you. Who is the new leader of China?
George: I mean the fellow’s name.
George: The guy in China.
George: The new leader of China.
George: The Chinaman!
Condi: Hu is leading China.
George: Now whaddya’ asking me for?
Condi: I’m telling you Hu is leading China.
George: Well, I’m asking you. Who is leading China?
Condi: That’s the man’s name.
George: That’s who’s name?
George: Will you or will you not tell me the name of the new leader of
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China? I thought he was in the Middle
Condi: That’s correct.
George: Then who is in China?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir is in China?
Condi: No, sir.
George: Then who is?
Condi: Yes, sir.
Condi: No, sir.
George: Look, Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China. Get
me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.
George: No, thanks.
Condi: You want Kofi?
Condi: You don’t want Kofi.
George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And
then get me the U.N.
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
George: Milk! Will you please make the call?
Condi: And call who?
George: Who is the guy at the U.N?
Condi: Hu is the guy in China.
George: Will you stay out of China?!
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: And stay out of the Middle East! Just get me the guy at the U.N.
George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.
(Condi picks up the phone.)
Condi: Rice, here.
George: Rice? Good idea. And a couple of egg rolls, too. Maybe we should
send some to the guy in China. And the Middle East. Can you get Chinese food
in the Middle East?
Some fun from Scot Adams of Dilbert fame, on tradition.
Have you ever wondered why some people brag about their “traditional” values when they obviously mean “superior”? It’s because “traditional” is a more flexible word. It implies an inherent goodness without the need to defend the details. I plan to start using “traditional” as my adjective of choice in all sorts of contexts. Read the rest
One of the first public things Jesus did was to turn water into wine, for friends of his/of his mothers at a wedding. There doesn’t seem to have been much reason for him to do so, other than that they were running out, and it was an kind act of service.
This morning three of us went over to an area I know as ACA, very near where I live, armed with lots of milk and shortbread cookies, and the card you’ll see below. We started at one end and knocked on doors, wishing people a Happy New Year, and explaining that we are doing a free community project and would like to offer them a free bottle of mile and some shortbread cookies. When they asked why, we said that we are christians in the area, and that for us it’s a simple way to say practically that God loves them.
We gave away around 35, 2 pint milk bottles and 20 packets of shortbread (they got expensive when I was buying them!), and had some wonderful reponses. Most people were suprised, nearly all were very pleased, with big beaming smiles. (For some reason, in the UK people seem to run out of milk and bread on bank holidays - I couldn’t get bread, so milk and shortbread cookies were the next best one.)
One woman I spoke to said ‘I hope he does love me, my husbands not been very well’. Her husband was recovering from a seroious operation, and came to the door. They told me a little about it, and I said (in a rather rushed and slightly nervous way) that I would pray for them.
Several people remarked that it was almost unheard of to get anything for free, and several people seemed very thrown by the act of generosity.
For many people this will be their first contact with God’s people, when they are offered something unconditionally, rather than asked for something or told off. I love the imagery of Jesus giving somethingfor the sake of giving, and serving because it’s a great thing to do. Our aim isn’t to preach, but to proclaim a full gospel, of a God who came to be one of us, who came to serve and bring a new deal, and as we develop our relationships, wemay get to the point of using words…
I asked this question of friends at church a few weeks ago…
A question to ponder:- If I serve you and don’t tell you why unless you ask, are you any less served? In other words, if we join in for example with the basket charity drop, does the value lie primarily in the serving, or in the why we are serving?
The ‘basket charity drop’ refers to a group of people in the city, making and delivering Christmas Hampers to those who could use a little extra help this Christmas. The group is based on the writings and Seminars of Tony Robbins, who seems to advocate an approach whihc says be successful, and then help others.
A friend from church invited us to join with them in delivering hampers. We’ve been talking about how we serve others, and about getting involved in our community - so this seemed like an ideal opportunity, and with minimal organising involved. This is where the question comes in - is it enough simply to serve, becasue serving others is excellent, and because Jesus did.
The thursday before Christmas we met at an office in town, and gathered five names and addresses (mostly passed through from social services.) The hampers contained Christmas food, crackers, luxuries as well as all the essentials for a Christmas meal, inluding a significantly sized turkey.
Of the eight hampers we delivered, there wasn’t one which was a poor experience for us, and presumably for the families. One family were knocked off their feet. They had been struggling, following a death in the family, and a problem with starting work, and had very little.
As I stood on the doorstep, with their two year old son jabbering at me, the man stood there looking at me, stunned. He told me about the hard time they were having, in detail, and then he said:
‘I can’t believe it. This morning the mission came by and bought us presents for our son. This evening you’re standing here with this hamper - I just don’t know what to say.’
It changed their whole Christmas - a simple act of service. I wondered whether some people might not accept food from a stranger, yet everyone did. Two women on their own sensibly accepted my offer to leave it on the doorstep, but all were grateful. Several invited us in for a drink, and one family invited us all in for a meal! Best of all our children were with us, and we loved showing them another side of Christmas.
The gratitude of the families we delivered to, and the difference it made will stay in my mind, and in my minds eye for a long time. Our next giveaway is this Sunday - I’ll write more about it shortly.
Given the general low level of debate on the internet - I thinkall ought to read this…
The problem with debates on the Internet is that there’s no objective way to judge who won – no equivalent of a knockout. In fact, there’s not even a word that means knockout when you’re talking about an exchange of ideas. But there should be. I recommend using the word “knockout.”
I always consider myself a winner by knockout whenever someone distorts my point to something ridiculous and then argues against the ridiculous thing. That seems like an acknowledgement that my real point is unassailable. Why else would someone need to invent a whole new point to argue against?
Likewise, when anyone brings into the debate Hitler, or the slippery slope, or guilt by association arguments, I consider that a victory by knockout too. And if someone ignores a simple and direct question, that’s the cleanest victory there is.
On my recent blogs about using torture, only a few opponents of the practice played fair with my question and said that yes, they would sacrifice an entire city to avoid torturing one guy, presumably even if no one would ever know it happened. That’s an honest answer that at least follows logically from a certain set of assumptions about morality. Fair enough, even if you disagree with those assumptions. That just means that round two is a discussion about those assumptions. No knockout.
But a scary number of people offered comments that were the logical equivalent of punching themselves unconscious in the first round. I don’t need to point them out because they’re somewhat obvious. The point is that most of those people are eligible to vote.
Zephaniah is one of my favourite OT books, along with Ecclesiastes. Eugene Peterson says this in his introduction to Zephaniah.
We humans keep looking for a religion that will give us access to God without having to bother with people. We want to go to God for comfort and inspiration when we’re fed up with the men and women and children around us. We want God to give us an edge in the dog-eat-dog competition of daily life.
This determination to get ourselves a religion that gives us an inside track with God but leaves us free to deal with people however we like is age-old. It is the sort of religion that has been promoted and marketed with both zeal and skill throughout human history. Business is always booming.
It is also the sort of religion that the biblical prophets are determined to root out. They are dead set against it.
Because the root of the solid spiritual life is embedded in a relationship between people and God, it is easy to develop the misunderstanding that my spiritual life is something personal between God and me – a private thing to be nurtured by prayers and singing, spiritual readings that comfort and inspire, and worship with like-minded friends. If we think this way for very long, we will assume that the way we treat the people we don’t like or who don’t like us has nothing to do with God.
That’s when the prophets step in and interrupt us, insisting, “Everything you do or think or feel has to do with God. Every person you meet has to do with God.” We live in a vast world of interconnectedness, and the connections have consequences, either in things or in people – and all the consequences come together in God. The biblical phrase for the coming together of the consequences is Judgment Day.
We can’t be reminded too often or too forcefully of this reckoning. Zephaniah’s voice in the choir of prophets sustains the intensity, the urgency.
Reserving the right to write about anything I please, I’m shouting about my Christmas Presents. As well as a wonderful model of a father and daughter, I got:
A massive one litre beer stein (thats two pints) - two actually, because you can’t drink from one of these alone. A really meaty and VERY large beer glass.
I also had a new bible. While I have far too many bible I’ve been enjoying my Message NT, which is an excellent translation and great for reading. So I’ve also got a new full bible Message, with a cool owl on the front. Great to read - I’ve reading the minor prophets at the moment, and I love the message translation of them.
Now I’m sitting down with Kirsty, and a two pint stein of Budweiser, and watching a either a film, or repeated episodes of scrubs….
There are a number of award posts floating about in the Blogosphere, and so I thought I would create an award myself - ‘The worst customer service I have ever experienced.’
We;ve had poor experience in the past with customer services agencies, but none touch toucan, so I thought I’d share it with you. When we signed up with Toucan telecom Broadband, I looked for reviews, and found only one. Since these difficulties I’ve found a number of poor experiences online, and thought it good to add my own.
About 2 weeks ago we joined Toucan Telecom, after switching to a BT phone line, and choosing to try ADSL instead of cable, simply because it was cheaper.
Within the first 12 hours I’d spent 40 minutes on the phone to the premium helpline, trying to communicate that my connection was operating at ridiculous speeds, (30-40kbs - less than dial-up) and each time having to fight my way though, not only a poor understanding of the English language, but the basic tests which they preform to check that the problem isn’t on your end. I wouldn’t have minded that if I didn’t spend at least the first five minutes of each call trying to make the operator understand that I had done this already with one of their colleagues, and that i was looking for further solutions.
After around twenty four hours of a very low connection, with frequent drop-outs, my connection cut out altogether, and stayed out for several days.
There’s a problem?
I’m assuming the call centre is in india somewhere, not primarily because of the India accents of everyone I’ve spoken to, but because the line is appalling, crackly and very quiet, and because no-one I spoke to had an understanding of the colloquialisms and English idioms we use all the time in daily conversation. While the line was out and I spent time on the line with I had each time to convince the operator that there was an existing problem, and that if they simply read the notes screen, they would understand. The line would go quiet for upto five minutes, and then they would come back and ask my what the situation was.
After convincing them that there was a problem with the line, Toucan ran a test, and then logged a fault with BT, and said they would be in contact. Two days later I phoned again, not having heard anything at all, and after five minutes of trying to make the man on the end of the line understand, was told that BT had closed the fault. Ten minutes later they agreed to re-open the fault once more.
There is nothing like good customer service, and this was nothing like good customer service.
At this point I wrote to customer services. I said that if my confidence hadn’t been dented by all my details being entered incorrectly when I started, it had been dented by the response when I phoned to query the speed of my new line, and the lack of action, and complete lack of feedback while my line was down.
I asked for specific responses, including feedback on the current situation without having to call repeatedly myself on the premium helpline. I expressed concern, that a week or so into our new contract, I had not yet had a satisfactory connection, that no-one had so much as apologized, and that no-one appeared to be taking it seriously.
Four days later my connection was back on, albeit still at unusable speeds. Tech support had alternatively told me that the BT fault had been cleared, then that it was still ongoing, both treating me like a confused old lady.
I had yet to receive a response from customer services, so again I emailed noting this, and asking once again for a responce to my concerns. Two days after this I received a blank email from Toucan Customer Services. I waited another day, and having received nothing further, and by this time, mightily annoyed, I read the code of practice, asked for a referral to a senior manager, and copied the letter to the internal email address of the managing director.
Finally a response, of sorts
Two days after this I received a response, for the lack of a reply to my initial email. While they did apologise, they offered no response to my concerns, other than to note that my connection was now online.
I did to their credit receive a call from technical support, which pleased me. Technical support informed me that they had only ever logged details of my disconnection issue, rather than operating speeds, and that this matter was now closed. What did I want?
It seems that BT has done some good, as that afternoon before I received the email my connection speed improved to a reasonable service, and I am now connecting at around 500kb/s. My line it seems is limited to a half meg connection (something I wish BT had told me before I switched, rather than the 2mb line the indicated), and I am now receiving a service consummate with that connection on the line tests - though things like streaming video simply don’t work.
Rock bottom service
Despite the issue now being resolved, my confidence in Toucan is rock bottom. The customer service seems slow, incompetent and when they did respond, did so in a surly way that made it clear I was somehow to blame for my difficulties, despite the words.
The technical support team seem to have great difficulty communicating, and either a useless system for recording information between calls, or seem unable to read the notes?
Toucan may work fine for you, I hope it does. If though you experience problems at any point - I hope you’re more patient than I am… If this post sounds frustrated, well it is, but it also serves to offer another warning, that I wish I had received before I signed up for Toucan Telecom (toucantele) phone and broadband ADSL services.
I am rather new to the blog world. In fact, this will be my first posting. I was speaking with a preacher Friday night about a brother who is in an undesirable situation, at least in part because of choices he has made, or not made.
The preacher’s response was that the church would help him once he has indicated some willingness to make the changes he deemed necessary. So quickly will we put limits on what God can do! His compassionate heart, in our opinion, will be limited to the repentant, but is this so? Will He not have mercy on whom He will have mercy (Rom 9:15)?
I suspect much of our attitude is enmeshed with our failure to have received what God has freely bestowed upon us. We are as the elder brother, secure not in God’s grace, but rather our own righteousness. Yet, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall have received mercy . . . ” I would confess that I do not know how to communicate this word to the religious crowd. I suppose I am waiting for an opportunity to scandalously pour out what I have received. Any ideas out there?
A Serving Blog
Jesus came to serve. This has become my bottom line.
We spend so much time talking, that we forget that when Jesus spoke, it was almost always in reaction to his actions.
After three years of writing, lucidly most of the time in this blog, I would like this to become more of a blog which speaks of how we are being Jesus to others.
I’ve now opened up posting rights to anyone who want’s to talk about how they have, or would like to be, Jesus to others. Simply register to post here, and wait for me to approve your first post.
Overheard in the Office - my daily source of humour…
Employee on phone: Yeah, that’s a little redundant.
Boss: You can say that again.
Find a way to manage the workplace chaos - and for that matter, the homeplace chaos! Some interesting ideas and tips…
An excellent comment on The Jesus Creed blog, who is discussing theological labels and practice in the emergent church, particually the idea of trying to pin down the ec to a theological label.
Evangelicals define different parts of the Church by theology. The Emerging Movement is not cooperating, and hence Evangelicals are doing what they can to get it to — and the tug of war will continue until one of two things happen. Either Evangelicals will let the EM define itself as a praxis or the EM will offer a definition of its theology. I sense some resistance at both ends — the EM likes it liminality on the issue of “its theology” and Evangelicalism doesn’t want to surrender to another paradigm for identity definition.
In the hacker community we talk about how Hacker is never a title you claim, it is something bestowed on you by other hackers. Most people that try to claim the label hackers are just posing or following a crowd.
Perhaps people would be better not trying to sign up for a movement, or claim a label by agreeing to some theological confession and instead seeking to follow the way of Jesus in the middle of the context they find themselves in, and let the labeling of who is part of this “movement” be worked out by historians 50 years from now.
I think Graham said something very similar from an anabaptist perspective, which illustrates the principle well, from his perspective. Why can’t I choose to forgo the labeling and simply follow Jesus as best I can.
As an example, ask an historic anabaptist if he is a Calvinist or an Arminian and he will answer that he is an anabaptist (as Scot did recently.) If you push that anabaptist and ask him if he leans more towards divine sovereignty or human responsibility. He would likely answer that humans (plural) are responsible to follow Jesus as Lord and Sovereign. In short, we shy away from speculative theology and seek always to begin and end in ethics.
When the debates are raging about various theological concerns, it’s all very interesting, and theology is important, but theology can easily become the definintion of who we are. I would rather be defined in how I follow Jesus, and how I serve others as Jesus served others.
Theology is the theory of understanding God, talking about God. We may all be thologians, as someone said recently, but surely the only real way to learn about God is to follow him, do what he did, and walk in his footsteps. We already know what he came to do...
Theology has constantly changed and developed over the centuries. We only need a cursery understanding of history to see that theology rarely stays staid, and constantly reflects the best (and sometimes worst) ways of understanding God, given the cultural circumstances. Why is that we feel the need to define ourselves along this historical stretch of conversation, rather than declaring ourselves in how we outwork the things of God?
Theology is not an end in itself. Often I’m not even sure if it’s a means. If I speak in the tongues of Calvin and Schumacher (even Spurgeon!), but have not followed Jesus…
ps - this was the post I meant to edit to say it felt confused. I hadn’t realised I hadn’t posted it yet!
This from John Frye (via M Squared T) is one of those things I wish I had written, not becasue of any credit, but because it comes from a place that I’m moving fast toward, and want to have so much inntegrated in all areas of my life. I’m getting there personally, or at least some of the way. On a Macro level though, in the way I run my life, interact in society and the way sociwety is, we are all so far away from the reality Jesus presented to people.
When did the gospel stop being about this?
Jesus behaved as if those who rejected others and marginalized them committed a more grievous sin than those guilty of sexual sins and greed. Jesus behaved as if “sins of the spirit” or “sins against relational harmony” were more repugnant than “sins of the flesh.” This Jesus is still walking around our cities today. Sin is worse than just moral failure; it is anti-relational. Factions and prejudice among people are social pornography and religion, even some forms of Christian fundamentalism, are mass distributors.
Jesus behaved as if the Almighty God, Lord of Hosts, would hang out with and eat, laugh, live with those suffering societal rejection, regardless of their sins, long before God would spend “free time” with clean, “Sunday-go-to-meetin’ ” types.
Jesus behaved as if marginalized people were a strong God-magnet and as if really, really “good people” who obeyed all the rules of religion and culture were prickily repulsive. We wonder why.
Jesus behaved as if those living in shadows and alleys and those pushed out into the “unpleasant places” and inner cities would make God feel more “at home” than those lounging in palaces and handling holy things at the Temple and golfing in the suburbs.
Jesus behaved as if broken people were more aware of God’s non-judgmental presence than unbroken, judgmental people with “lofty glances.”
Jesus behaved as if socially and religiously sick people would welcome God like a physician and receive God’s gracious words and ways like good medicine.
Jesus behaved as if you had human skin, no matter your ethnic origin or color or status in society or sex or religion or morality or orthodoxy or past, your skin made you God’s friend. Good friend. Remember a young pregnant-out-of-wedlock girl named Mary?
Jesus behaved as if God had stores of food for hungry people, but empty shelves for the full; God had comfort and inclusion for wounded and rejected people, but nothing for the well-connected and whole; God had outrageous, scandalous mercy for the severest sinners and social misfits, but contempt for the (self)righteous and affirmed.
Jesus behaved as if God deeply loved people in pain, but despised the “painted,” those masquerading with outfits made out of their “best foot forward.” Jesus used the phrase “white-washed tombs” for people unwilling to see their true condition.
Jesus behaved as if those who taught God’s Word in such a way that others had to give up trying to obey, saying, “We will never ever live up to these teachings. They’re killing us” were teachers who, in fact, were changing God’s Word into heavy concrete weights, crushing people. God really hates that. God says his Words are like honey to our lips.