Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Feeling Poetic

Actually, I really don't feel like doing any homework right now. Got 2 assignments out of the way, and now there are a bunch more - larger ones that I can't wrap my mind around completing or starting.

Yes, I am stalling for time. And now I will write.

We stall.
Stand still.
Don't move or make a sound
With our fist we may pound
Things must get done
Change come
Yet stall.

Easy to make suggestions, talk
But somehow when it comes to the walk
We stall.

Something is always in the way
The time's not right
Preliminary battles we must fight
A million things instead
Stand still.

Putting pen to paper
Letter to the press
I would rather take longer to dress
Create a bigger mess
In the end, do less
Who are we trying to impress?
Stand still.

Change only comes
By action
Nike said just do it
What if we got to it?
Stand still.

That is not His will
To stand still
We are called to move
One may say groove
To the rhythm of His heart
Love and action we impart
With grace and peace we move
Flowing from one to the next
No stalling.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kung Fu Panda

Recently, I watched Kung Fu Panda. The movie was a lot of fun - with sweet animal ninja moves, an affable underdog turned hero, and plenty of laughable moments.

But amidst this entertaining flick, the wise turtle said a famous proverb that I really liked and thought I'd share here..

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why it is called the present."

Similarily enough to what Jesus told us...

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." -Matthew 6:33-34 (read it here for complete context)

Life is life, let us enjoy this day, that the Lord has made - this wonderful gift of peace, love, and happiness in the little things. Family.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our President's Plans

I must say, I do like what I hear. I encourage everyone to pray for our president, for wisdom and strength to lead this nation. What a difficult job!!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Know Your Native Language

There is a certain thinking within the Russian Christian community, primarily the adult Russian conservative Christian community. This thinking is generally spread amongst the older generation, those who experienced something excellent in their native country, in their native land. The ones who have a strong connection to the Russian they grew up in, the culture they lived in. Those times, for them, were very sacred - oftentimes they suffered persecution for their faith and saw many great things happen.

Then they came to America and their kids started speaking English. Their kids started taking on this foreign culture, leaving behind the culture of their parents - taking on new ideas, learning new words, and expressing themselves differently. America had more freedom for them, and things which were outlawed for their parents became the norm for them. This was uncomfortable and foreign for the parents, so they resisted. They could not understand how something that was so real to them in Russia (their faith), could get lost in translation or could look differently.

So they recessed.

Instead of learning about the new culture, the parents rejected it and labeled it pagan. They encouraged their children to keep the Russian language and the old way of life. Anything else, was not of God.

I have heard and experienced this thinking for ages. I am Russian and grew up in a Russian Christian conservative church. I wrestled with the elders who thought the more Americanized you got, the less Christian you were. I remember when pants were shunned, and when speaking in English was as bad as saying a cuss word. Okay, so maybe the last part was a bit of exaggeration, but it may as well been that.

But I thought this thinking was quickly fading and the older generation was understanding the shifting of the times. Apparently not in all places.

The other day, David and I visited a church where the sermon was about understanding the language of God. This sermon was very intricate and had many fine details and thoughts attached to it. It started off intriguing.. It seemed like it was going to be about communicating love to God and understanding his love for us. That we need to understand His language. What it turned out to be, was that we need to understand our native language, which is Russian. If we are not understanding or reading the word in Russian, we are in grave danger of missing our salvation.

I am not joking.

I was very surprised that this was spoken from the pulpit. I have heard this philosophy for a long time, but never was it that bluntly spoken, in front of the congregation, when the youth is leading the service. They probably didn't understand it. They speak mostly English.

It was very sad, but it raises something that I am most passionate about. Church is NOT the place to learn a language or retain a culture. The gospel is not designed to be nationalistic, nor is that Christ's intention. The gospel is beyond culture and beyond any language. In fact, Christ commands us to go from our own town to the ends of the earth, proclaiming the gospel. Only speaking our native language will make it difficult to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. The church is not a place to be ethnocentric and push culture. It is a place to break free of culture and experience freedom, redemption, love, and all good things beyond what culture offers. It should be trans-national. Not nationalistic.

It just hurts me to see how many people get pushed away by this exact philosophy. The gospel isn't Russian or American, or any other language. The gospel is God's language, which is the language of love, and is powerful enough to speak to all.

So why put it in a box? I pray for change. I pray for culture walls to break down, and for the power of God to be relevant in all people, in all lives, beyond what culure dictates as holy. God is holy, and He is holy alone. There is no greek, nor jew, nor woman or man, or anything of that sort in God's eyes. We are all His children.

:) God bless everyone, Russian, American, Russian-American, American-Russian, mix of either or even soemthing else. God loves you!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Это Иисус

I like this video for several reasons. First, the song has a fun melody and the lyrics are great. Second, the bass guitarist is having way too much fun :D. And last but not least, I cannot for the life of me figure out what time zone this was made. It looks pretty retro, yet at the same time modern. Such a mystery!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Once Upon a School

We watched this video in my leadership in public schools class. Very creative and inspiring video. Hope you will find as much enjoyment in it as I did!

The Pedestrian Glare

For whatever reason, pedestrians and drivers are constantly at odds with each other. I understand the reason for drivers to be extra careful when driving near pedestrians, but it is a two way street. A pedestrian cannot walk in the middle of the road and then glare at you when you are driving by a couple feet from collision. As a pedestrian and driver of Portland, I urge you to follow the rules of the road. And if you choose to break it, pedestrian or not -- don't blame others when you get hit.


Rock'n'Roll on the Radio

I heard this song on the radio yesterday as I was driving to work. Immediately I fell in love with the beats and was bobbing my head, trying to sing along to whatever words I could catch, hoping the dj would say who was singing it. And to my pleasant surprise -- they did! Rock N Roll by Eric Hutchinson was the song that rocked my commute.

I was drawn to the chorus of:

'Cause If she wanna to rock she rocks
If she wanna to roll she rolls
She can roll with the punches
Long as she feels like she’s in control
If she wanna to stay she stays
If she wanna to go she goes
She doesn’t care how she gets there
Long as she gets somewhere she knows'

Sounds free spirit, untrammeled and free, doesn't it? I mean, who wouldn't like a song like that? It speaks to the free spirit in all of us, just wanting to go with the flow and not have anything to worry about...getting from point a to point b, somehow, who care's how, but moving along.

When I got home, I looked up the lyrics and at first cringed, as the song sings about a man going to the club, getting ready to tell lies and do whatever it takes to get him what he wants, as well as the woman doing similarly in the next stanza (or what do you call those things for songs?)

I wondered, could I still like this song? It took me a total of 20 seconds (rough estimate) to realize that yes, I can still like this song. Why? Because the lyrics speak true to our human experience. Us humans are peculiar. We have needs, and we do what it takes to attain them. Our needs vary depending on where we are in life. But there is something about wanting to be loved and feel in control, but not in a stressful way. A need to just be without any restrictions.

This has its repurcussions and no doubt can become a dangerous need, but I think God still made us this way.

Now you ask why? Shouldn't we have it all together?

No way. God doesn't want us to have it all together, with perfection figuring out every little detail of life and making sure it makes perfect sense. If we could do that on our own, what would be the need for Him?

I believe God wants us to give that need over to Him. He wants to love us and direct our paths. He says, "lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he'll make your paths straight."

Focus on Him, and He'll get you from A to B and even to Z.

Of course, this surrender is not without sacrifice.

But we will learn about that later. For now enjoy the song :) Because I will definitely be listening to it for at least the next few days.

Another attempt to start blogging

For those that know me, I have a tendency to start many wonderful projects with great momentum, and then when times get slower and my interest dwindles, the project either dies or freezes in time. I don't usually like to go back and work with what I have but would rather start from scratch.

Well this is one of those cases. I think I've started several blogs and journals over the course of the last few years, and have either forgotten or abandoned most of them. Sure there are a few that I participate in, but none that are my personal space to just say whatever I feel like on whatever subject that could ever cross my mind (and there is definitely an eclectic collection of thoughts in there!).

So here it is. No expectations. No big promises or goals to make something bigger than what it actually is. I will take this at my own pace, and see where it goes. I place to pressure or promise that there will be much more than 3 entries per month, if that. If inspiration comes, it will get posted. If not, oh well.

I really hope to stay true this. If I stray for a period of time, this time, I will be back. Its part of my new phase in life (I'm learning follow through) and this is an exercise in that.

Let us see where it goes :)
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