Calling all MK’s!

I am doing a research paper for my missiology class on how the church supports missionary kids who are transitioning back to US for High School or college. If you are a missionary kid or know a missionary kid who might want to participate in my research. Please respond in the comments of this post. Also, if your church does work with missionary kids, respond in the comments, I want to dialog with you.

Thanks, good readers!

SDG,
Matty

Election stuff

1) The next time Hillary Clinton accuses someone of being “mean-spirited” we need to force her to watch her speech from Tuesday night. Usually you have to be a member of a long-suffering minority to achieve that level of bitterness; to see it from an uptight, wealthy, white woman is a little off-putting.

2) I sincerely hope that Barak Obama is the next president of the United States and that Hillary Clinton is NOT the next vice-president.

3) John McCain makes Dick Chaney look like a 15 year-old kid going to the Jr. Prom.

More later……

I don’t have a title…

Greetings all visitors to the strange land. Welcome once again to my ramblings and ruminations.

I want to extend a little love to Andi over at Kung-Fu Chicken. Andi, you post letters to your children on or near their birthdays and I am brought to tears each and every time I read one. You are eloquent and sincere and your kids are so blessed to have you for a mom. Gentle readers, take a moment and go to Andi’s blog and just read her posts. I strive to be half the writer that she is. My hat is off.

Good night, friends. I will have election and speech comments tomorrow… hopefully 🙂

Thoughts from one of my Father’s sons

So…

On June 9, I start a two-week intensive session of seminary classes. I am taking “Christian Perspectives on Contemporary Culture” and “Global Issues in Evangelism”. I am so excited to begin, but I am also very nervous. I haven’t really been a student since I graduated from College 11 years ago (some might argue, not even then!). I was accepted to the program the day after registration for summer classes closed. I had to pettition the seminary to be able to register for classes and then, I come to find out that there are five books for each class that I have to read before classes start. UGH! I mean, I’m a good reader and all. In fact, when I moved to Phoenix in high school I enrolled in Mr. Arthur’s AP English class and discovered I had to have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn before school started. I ended up reading it on Sunday before school started on Monday. The whole book in one day! Anyway… you might guess that procrastination is a major struggle in my life, and you’d be right. Pray for me!

Last night at the Stirring, my brother Derrick spoke about, among other things,the faithfullness of God. I’m sure you have all heard the platitude that goes, “If God can get you to it, God can get you through it”. I hate trite, Christian phrases like that. In fact, I even have trouble with a couple of verses from scripture because people quote them like they are trite, little, Christian phrases. Romans 8:28 is the scripture version of the platitude I gave above. It reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I have heard that verse quoted at me and at people I know and love my whole life. If someone gets fired or divorced or dies, you can bet some well-meaning Christian is there with Romans 8:28. It really pisses me off…

But you know what? It’s true. And it’s a very powerful statement. Read it again with my notes added:

“In all things (good and bad) God works (God is active, not passive!) for the good (the ultimate good, that only God can know) of those who love Him (something we can only do because He allows us to and gives us the ability to do), who have been called (chosen) according to His purpose (so much greater than my purpose).”

That is truly amazing stuff. Derrick said that the God who is faithful to call us out of the darkness and anonymity of our lives and into the light and son-ship of the life He wants for us, will be faithful to support us and love us and save us and strengthen us. There is an old praise chorus that is based on my theme verse (Phil. 1:6) and it goes like this”

“He who began a good work in you/ He who began a good work in you/ Will be faithful to complete it/ Will be faithful to complete it/ He who started a work will be faithful to complete it in you”

It is my prayer dearest brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, my sweet family in Christ; that each and every one of you will be strengthened by this word from God, our Father. That you will be encouraged through Christ, our Brother. That you will be sustained by the Holy Spirit, our Mother.

Thanks for stopping by. I love you.

SDG,
Matty

Sen. Edward Kennedy

Here in the Strange Land, we want to send our hearts, thoughts and prayers to Sen. Kennedy and his friends and family. So many tragedies have hit the Kennedy clan over the years, yet they have stood up for the poor, the oppressed and the down-trodden with courage and honor.

Dear Father in Heaven, be with the Kennedy family as they deal with the illness of their remaining patriarch, Edward. We pray for recovery and complete healing. Amen.

And, if any of you reading this message have thought that, because Ted is a Liberal and a Democrat, he’s getting what he deserves, I would kindly ask that you never set browser to this blog ever again. I don’t want you as a reader. That goes for any who agree with John McCain’s pastor that Katrina was a curse sent by God to destroy New Orleans. God is love. People are spiteful. Don’t get ’em mixed up!

SDG,
Matty

Wow! A guest in the “Strange Land”!

Greetings all from Redding, California. What’s new? Well, the (D)democratic process marches on… that’s Democratic (with a big D) referring to Mr. Obama and Mr…um… Ms. Clinton, however it’s also democratic (with a small d) referring to the whole presidential campaign thing… how confusing… we have two parties, Republicans and Democrats… our nation is a republic which is a form of democracy…

This blog, however, is a dictatorship!!! Not really…

Anyway, a few weeks back I posted on the subject of Mrs. Michelle Obama saying she was, for the first time in her adult life, proud of America. This comment, in case you don’t remember, caused all the chins to begin wagging over on the right, from Rush Limbaugh to Rush O’Reilly… sorry… Bill O’Reilly, and all up and down Faux News Channel. Somehow, Mrs. Obama feeling proud of America indicated she had never been proud to be an American. I felt this was unfair. One can love something and not be proud of it… ask any parent. So I posted and there were comments and people said some interesting things and you can read all about it here and here.

One of the regular readers of this blog is my friend, Jennifer. Jennifer is a teacher of English Literature in China and has been for the last 10 years. Her “tour of duty” is up this summer and she will be moving back to the US. (No chance of her being “stop-lossed” back to China, I’m guessing…) She receives blog posts via email and has no opportunity to comment because, the sovereign government of China censors her internet access… not just hers, you understand, everyone’s… it’s still a Communist country… that’s another topic for another time… Jennifer has a unique perspective on the issue of pride in America/being an American and she wanted to share it. So, after much but without further ado, here is “Am I proud to be an American?” by Jennifer Shelton:

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Am I Proud to Be an American?

One of the advantages of living abroad is that one’s American-ness good or bad sticks out like a sore thumb. Living in America, one’s American-ness blends in with the environment almost to the point that it can sometimes only exist on the subconscious level. I used to think it was more difficult for an American to have American-ness because the people of our country are so diverse. What is an American anyway? When I first prepared to live in China, I naively thought that the percentage of “me” in my identity was very high, and the percentage of what was American in my identity was very low. I thought that it was me who was thinking my thoughts for the most part. Not true. I thought the thoughts I had been educated and influenced to think – many of which were American.

In terms of diversity, America is an extremely diverse place, but American public and social life has a commonness in the way it expresses its diversity. Americans have a commonness in their expectations of relating to their world. There are shared American values or at least there tend to be some shared assumptions and rules of how Americans might share their differing values. Americans have a range of communication styles that they tend to work within. Americans have an underlying commonness in their lifestyle even if just from the restaurants, companies and products, movies and media that tend to surround most Americans as they live their lives. What happens to America politically happens to Americans. Attacks on America are attacks on Americans. We, as Americans, are not to that level of individualism yet where the average American clearly separates him or herself from being a part of the group called Americans and belonging to the country of The United States of America. To expand on and define specifically what Americans have in common and what defines their culture is a vast subject and not the main point of this response, so I will stop there on that subject.

I have to say after living abroad for ten years in a place very different from America (and yet decreasingly so) I am hesitant to express pride in being an American, but I can say without hesitation that I feel blessed to be an American. Perhaps I can begin my explanation with defining my idea of pride a bit. If pride means a feeling of superiority, I know right away that superiority is not something I would want to or should feel in relation to my fellow man. Since when is a feeling of superiority biblical? If pride means a feeling of satisfaction with who America is and who I am as an American, I can tell you that not only I, but our forefathers were very skeptical of the idea of getting comfortable or feeling secure. Besides, it is not only individual people but also countries that are on a journey. None of us have arrived. Definitely not a country that is as young as we are. I also believe that nations rise by both His will and our choices. I believe that our choice plays into the plan enough that we have a responsibility for what we have done, but I believe that His will is to the point that He gets the credit. If we have accomplished anything good it is by His mercy and our duty – it is not a bragging point. If pride is attached very closely to the idea of loyalty, then I believe loyalty can be good only up to the point that loyalty to my country does not interfere with my conscience and my loyalties as a Kingdom citizen, most of which demand me to step down and sacrifice and die to self rather than to proclaim my nationalism. We have all been born into a place in this world. We must be true to that place under God and within the circles of influence that He has put us in. But, loyalty to my country cannot override loyalty to God and loyalty to the peoples He has created. Personal or national interests are subtle, sneaky realities that can creep up and control the most well-intended. And they are stark realities of the less well-intended. We must be on our guard against them. If pride is closely attached to being thankful, than that is what I would focus on in communicating pride in being an American. Michelle Malkin was right to list just a few of many things to be thankful for as an American, and she is right that it is spoiled and thoughtless not to be thankful, to lose perspective, and not to recognize what one has as an American. If pride is closely connected to celebration, I also join Malkin in celebrating every truly good thing in America. I cannot say, though, along with what I felt was perhaps suggested in Malkin’s article, that we can never be disappointed in America. People disappoint us all the time. Parents, friends, churches. I get disappointed in myself. Why is it not then natural to be disappointed with one’s country – decisions being made, lifestyle trends, perception abroad, failures that are bound to happen? Why not even seasons of disappointment? I think what matters most, though, is what we do with that disappointment. Part of my place as a citizen of a country under God and towards my fellow man is working towards redemption, not condemnation. My participation in contributing to solutions is of the utmost importance. I had better make sure that I am not part of the problem. My leaders are due my support and my allegiance as long as that does not conflict with my allegiance to God and His laws, and no matter what, the people above and around me are due respect, more than that – love. The kind of love that treats someone the way one would want to be treated. The kind of love where the person removes the plank from his own eye before he points out the speck of sawdust in someone else’s.

Abroad, if we as Americans point our fingers at other nations’ peoples, you better believe that they have plenty to point back at us for. Not all of it is true, and not all of it is not true; but, if we meet their accusations with our American pride, where does that leave us? — in the same place it leaves all people who take that way, a place well-defined by the saddest parts of human history. If America was truly meant to be like a city on a hill, then it was not going to be our superiority, our pride, our nationalism, nor our technology, our military, nor our wealth that was going to put us there, but in how we dealt with life differently, how we are different from the world. Might I be so bold as to say that we are not so different, or at least not as different as we were called to be. Fear, the opposite of faith, has sucked us citizen by citizen into playing the world’s game on the personal level, the family level, the community level and on the national level.

Since when is it un-American to speak out against America – to express disappointment and even disillusionment? We have had American writers who have won the Nobel Prize for doing so. It’s one of the most American things we do if in this aspect of being American we are following biblical standards of self-examination and putting human nature in check.

People want change. They want change in their personal lives and they want it in the public institutions that surround their lives. They want to see it in their society. But, criticizing people for their low morale or their sagging national pride is like a teacher berating their class of students for being lackluster students who won’t live up to the teacher’s ideals. (Been there. Done that.) Change comes when someone starts acting differently, and they inspire and set others free to do the same. I only know one Person through which that can be done.

Am I proud to be an American? To the extent that America has reflected the One who sets people free and in being thankful for the many kinds of abundance that He has poured out? Yes. Proud of America for America’s sake? Maybe. I am still thinking how to define that call upon my life. Is that like loving for love’s sake? Proud of America with a nationalistic pride that is full of self-interest or reflects self-satisfaction or, God forbid, a sense of superiority? I hope not.

A later addition:

I asked my boyfriend for feedback on what I wrote. He had the following interesting ideas:

Blessing is not attached to being an American. Many Americans feel like or seem to express that they could not be as blessed if they were not American. That is not necessarily true. If there was one thing that was clear in the Sermon on the Mount, it is the idea that those who are most thought to have the least opportunity to be blessed can be richly blessed. He wondered if he could change his citizenship and still have the same level of contentment and blessing. He hoped he would.

He has heard many Americans claim that they can only do what they are doing because they are American – as if God’s plan for them is only possible for them because they are American. But, we know that God makes all things possible no matter where you are from, no matter what one’s situation is.

He thought I didn’t go far enough. He lives among a bunch of illegal immigrants from Mexico. He believes that the kingdom as it was meant to be in the beginning and the future kingdom that is coming is nationality-less in the sense of identity.

He believes that we happen to be Americans in the grand scheme of things.

Just call me “Basil”…


You Are Basil


You are quite popular and loved by most people.
You have a mild temperament, but your style is definitely distinctive.
You are sweet, attractive, and you often smell good.