Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Exit, Unfair.

There I was laying on a foam mat covered in vinyl that squeaked every time you moved on it. The blanket that was given me I used to cover the mat. The large room that we were in smelled like the wrestling room at my high school, body odor that they had attempted to cover by some kind of disinfectant. But this was the smell before the 130 men that were expected to sleep there that night arrived. The mats were laid on the floor in rows of about twenty or twenty five. I watched as the men filled into the room, signed the sign-in sheet and were told what mat number they would be sleeping on tonight. As the room filled it took on a different smell. The body odor increased dramatically, so much so that the smell of the disinfectant was gone. It was replaced by a different smell. It was the smell of booze. A little bit sweet, but it burns as you smell it in that quantity.
The way that they interacted was as a very dysfunctional family. One man would yell at another "Hey shut the fuck up!" that man would respond with "You shut the fuck up!" Than the first would yell back "I fucking love you!" the second man would respond like wise. Than a third man would yell "I fucking love you too!" Than the first would yell "I wasn't fucking talking to you!" There was this family bond with a underlying tone of hostility.
As the night went on people slowly got their area organized, laid down and went to sleep until eventually the lights went off. But it never got truly quiet. There was the sound of people shifting positions in their bed, the sound of people snoring, the movement of people who went out of the room every two hours for a smoke break. And then there was an interesting sound. I think that it was the sound of someone coming down off of a high. All of a sudden I heard a man say "ohh, ohh, ohh shit, ohh" and then silence. A little while later, not sure how much later because I was dozing in and out of sleep, I heard it again. "Ohh, ohh shit, ohh, ohh." This happened a couple more times through the night. I was never able to tell who was doing it. I know though that there are a lot of Vietnam vets that sleep in those shelters, I wonder if it could have been someone having flashbacks to some hell that he expierienced many years ago, but in his mind its as if it was still going on. For many of them the battle is still going on. They stepped out of the jungles of southeast asia to jungles of Minneapolis. The battle still going on in their mind. The drug addictions carried over from the battle field to streets.
Finally I slept. Only to be woken by a man saying "If you want breakfast, you gotta get up now." So I slowly crawled out of my bed. No need to get dressed because I wore everything that I was wearing the day before to bed, including my shoes. We were warned that if we took our shoes off there was a high likely hood of them being stolen. I made my way out of the large sleeping room for men named the "safebay" into the hall where they were serving grits and coffee for breakfast. I lined up and got my grits with a big spoonfull of sugar and butter in it. It was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had. In all honesty it was delicious. The sweetness of the sugar and the salty taste of the butter, made it the perfect ending the night. I came away with mixed emotions. I was relieved that the night was over. But I had this sorrow that for everyone else that night would repeat itself again and again, that it had been repeating itself for a long time now. And that they were used to it. I don't know if I ever could get used to that. I would never want to. I walked out of that room knowing that I would never spend another night there. It almost seemed unfair.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

East of Eden

From the title you would think this was a blog about the book bu John Steinbeck. Well sorry to disappoint you but its not. The title of the book reminded me another book. Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell, but more specifically something he said in it. He talked about Cain and after Cain killed his brother Abel and where Cain ended up. Genesis 4:16 says "So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden." East of Eden. How many times in my life have I found my self east of Eden. I do not listen to God and so I find my self in a place I do not want to be. I feel cut off from the presence of God. I try and do things on my own, striving in the flesh, failing miserably. Interestingly enough the word "Nod' means wandering. Cain found himself wandering. Separated from the presence of the Lord, but I could imaging constantly trying to find it.
That's where the story ends for Cain. In Nod. Wandering east of Eden. East of where God would rather have him be. Thank God, that's not where it ends for me. Hebrews 12:24 says "But you have come to... Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word, than the blood of Abel" After Cain killed Abel. His blood spoke out to God from the ground. It cried out for justice. Jesus' blood cries out for mercy. Mercy and salvation for those who believe in Him. For those willing to take on the covering of His blood. Mercy is a much better word than Justice. Justice was done. It was taken care of. Jesus took care of it on the cross. He took our punishment. To me that does not seem very just. The perfect Son of God took my sins. That's called Grace. Thank you God for Grace.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Plans in My Head, Better Left Unsaid.

So many of my plans over the years have failed. I have made a lot of them, but have only seen very few come to fruition. I think that most of this is because I lose the enthusiasm very quickly. Things get old, hard, or annoying and so I give up. Is this a bad thing? I am not sure. I think that some of my plans are probably not worth spending a lot of time on. I made a resolution to grow a beard in 2007, I called it "grow a beard 2007." That failed, but in my defense it was a little out of my control. Take today for example I went out and bought a couple Frisbee for frolf and went and played. It was a lot of fun. We then made this resolution to play it a lot this summer. But that most likely will not happen. All of these are trivial plans or resolutions. Some are more serious.
I have made countless resolutions over the years to do many important things also. I can not tell you how many time I have gone to a church retreat or event and made a resolution to read my Bible more and pray more. Or how many times after looking in the mirror have resolved myself to losing weight. These goals have also been some of my constant failures. Many reasons for this have been distractions. When I have tried to do these things other things seem to take precedent. When I have tried to get up early and read my Bible, sleep takes precedent. When I have tried to eat right, the wrong foods seem more appealing.
Spending the last two paragraphs writing about my failures is rather depressing and disheartening. Now I could make all kinds of new resolutions to do these things and then another resolution to keep all of my resolutions. But we all now know my track record when it comes to that, so I would probably fail again. The only comfort that I can find in all of this is that God loves me regardless. No matter what I do or in this case don't do, He loves me. I need to trust that He is working on me still. He has not given up, and said "well this is all that can be done with this one." Hes got plans for me, ideas, resolutions. And guess what, they are a lot better! Mine are often short sighted and self serving. I think that I need to stop making plans. When I make plans I am taking my future out of Gods hands. I am trying to do it my self. The only problem is know Gods plans for my life. It can sometimes be very hard to hear God's voice. At least for me. But that its a blog for another time. I am too tired to get into that. I need to finish this one off. All that I can say in closing is that I need to learn to let go.

Monday, January 7, 2008

  • Over 22 million people have died from AIDS.
  • Over 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 74 percent of these infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Over 19 million women are living with HIV/AIDS.
  • By the year 2010, five countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, China, India, and Russia) with 40 percent of the world's population will add 50 to 75 million infected people to the worldwide pool of HIV disease.
  • There are 14,000 new infections every day (95 percent in developing countries). HIV/AIDS is a "disease of young people" with half of the 5 million new infections each year occurring among people ages 15 to 24.
  • The UN estimates that, currently, there are 14 million AIDS orphans and that by 2010 there will be 25 million.
What if the church spent as much time battling AIDS and poverty as they did abortion and gay rights? Where would the world be?