Friday, September 18, 2009

Oh Taste and See that the Lord is Good Psalm 34:8

I am aware that there are those who love to poke fun at the plain man's idea of reality. They are the idealists who spin endless proofs that nothing is real outside of the mind. They are the relativists who like to show that there are no fixed points in the universe from which we can measure anything. They smile down upon us from their lofty intellectual peaks and settle us to their own satisfaction by fastening upon us the reproachful term "absolutist." The Christian is not put out of countenance by this show of contempt. He can smile right back at them, for he knows that there is only One who is Absolute, that is God. But he knows also that the Absolute One has made this world for man's use, and while there is nothing fixed or real in the last meaning of the words (the meaning as applied to God), for every purpose of human life we are permitted to act as if there were. And every man does act thus except the mentally sick. These unfortunates also have trouble with reality, but they are consistent; they insist upon living in accordance with their ideas of things. They are honest, and it is their very honesty which constitutes them a social problem.

The idealists and relativists are not mentally sick. They prove their soundness by living their lives according to the very notions of reality which they in theory repudiate and by counting upon the very fixed points which they prove are not there. They could earn a lot more respect for their notions if they were willing to live by them; but this they are careful not to do. Their ideas are brain-deep, not life-deep. Wherever life touches them they repudiate their theories and live like other men.

The Christian is too sincere to play with ideas for their own sake. He takes no pleasure in the mere spinning of gossamer webs for display. All his beliefs are practical. They are geared into his life. By them he lives or dies, stands or falls for this world and for all time to come. From the insincere man he turns away. The sincere, plain man knows that the world is real. He finds it here when he wakes to consciousness, and he knows that he did not think it into being. It was here waiting for him when he came, and he knows that when he prepares to leave this earthly scene it will be here still to bid him goodbye as he departs. By the deep wisdom of life he is wiser than a thousand men who doubt. He stands upon the earth and feels the wind and rain in his face, and he knows that they are real. He sees the sun by day and the stars by night. He sees the hot lightning play out of the dark thundercloud. He hears the sounds of nature and the cries of human joy and pain. These he knows are real. He lies down on the cool earth at night and has no fear that it will prove illusory or fail him while he sleeps. In the morning the firm ground will be under him, the blue sky above him and the rocks and trees around him as when he closed his eyes the night before. So he lives and rejoices in a world of reality. With his five senses he engages this real world. All things necessary to his physical existence he apprehends by the faculties with which he has been equipped by the God who created him and placed him in such a world as this. Now by our definition also God is real. He is real in the absolute and final sense that nothing else is. All other reality is contingent upon His.

- A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (from Ch. 4: Apprehending God)

Monday, September 14, 2009

9/14/09

Sorry it's been a while since my last post. It's a challenge for me to sift through all that's happening and process it enough to write about it. I've been journaling, but even that is scattered, so my efforts usually consist of making sense of my journal entries enough to string them together into a cohesive post. Here are some experiences that stick out enough to write about for now.

Last week Jo had to mow her lawn and her neighbor’s lawn as well. When I came home from walking around the piacja with another woman who works at the Hope Center, I met her in the neighbor’s yard. (Or garden if you’re British. Funny side note – I’m beginning to pick up British terms again living with Jo. Just small things, but I find I’m falling into it quite easily. For instance, saying things like “rubbish,” “this bit,” “tip it into the sink,” “chuck it into the bin,” “can I help with the washing up?” etc.) Jo told me to hang out with the Bosnians while she mowed. What that consisted of was literally following her around while she cut the grass. We stood at a very close proximity and just watched Jo work. Every once in a while the Bosnians would point out a bit that she missed, but for the most part, we just observed, the entire time. When she finished their garden, we moved on to another neighbor’s – she had come out of her house and shouted across the fence for Jo to mow hers as well. So we all trooped down another lane to watch Jo mow that lawn. It was interesting keeping the Bosnians company because I don’t speak Bosnian (although I am learning a bit – two classes a week, it’s a hard language!). I do a considerable amount of smiling and nodding. It was so intriguing to me that everybody just kept joining us after we mowed their lawn and we clustered around Jo while she worked. They served us coffee and juice (they drink so much juice over here!) and they kept handing me fresh apples and grapes that they were picking off their trees and vines. They gave me a chair to sit in, and when I would try to say I didn’t need it, they would just keep saying sjediti, sjediti! (That means “sit, sit!”) When Jo would round the corner, they would pick my chair up and move it so I could view Jo working at all times. Heaven forbid I miss a millisecond of what she was doing.


A few days ago, as part of the potato project here (click HERE to read about it!), we took a trip out to "The Village" to pick up some potatoes. We drove four about 45 minutes down a lush, forested mountain road. When we arrived, I was taken away by the beauty. It felt as if we were stepping back in time. The house we went to was rustic and simple, made of brick. We were invited in for coffee (Amila makes the best!!) We sat around for an hour and sipped our coffee and visited. Later, out of their tiny kitchen, Amila and her mother revealed one of the best meals I think I've ever eaten. You would hardly know they were cooking, they were up and down so little, and when the pulled the pans out of the kitchen and set them on the table, I was puzzled at where it came from. However, I quickly stopped wondering because my admiration of what was set in front of me overcame any inquiry as to its creation. I was looking at fresh baked bread (sweet bread with plenty of air pockets, yet dense and crusty on the outside), potatoes picked fresh from the garden that morning, boiled then baked unti lcrispy with a little salt. Roasted peppers also fresh from the garden, served with cheese cream (nothing like we have in the States, it's sweet and sort of the texture of sour cream, but thicker.) Salad, which consisted of fresh bell peppers, onions and tomatoes chopped - no dressing, just salt, - sausage roasted in the oven with mustard and cheese cream. We all grabbed forks and dug in. We used plates, but the Bosnians didn't. They just ate from the pans, I loved it. We washed the whole meal down with fizzy water. After we were stuffed a little past the point of contentment, we went outside into the misty air and hiked up into the hills for a ways. We sought out a trickling waterfall where the ground produces a silver clay that makes your hands extremely soft... it was a bit treacherous climbing down there, but it was worth it to feel the ground. Amila carried a pick with her to dig up a bunch and take it back with us. The scenery was gorgeous and it was so refreshing to be out in the cool air when it was raining a bit here and there. Later we piled the potatoes in our van and drove back along the narrow bumpy road. It was a good day.






Sunday, September 6, 2009

9/6/09

Now that I've been in GoraĹžde for a few days, it feels like I know more about what's going on. That's such a "duh" statement, but it's the only way I can think to describe what's going on in my head. This trip is changing my traditional ideas of sharing the Gospel. The Reitz's have been here for eight years, and they've been able to share their faith with people, and witness to them, a little but they have yet to actually lead somebody to the Lord. The community here is 99% Muslim, and in talking to Jo a bit, I can sense a feeling of discouragement and bewilderment at times at the long process involved in sharing Jesus' love with the people of Bosnia. However, the perseverance of the people in ministry here is encouraging and challenging to me.

So far what we've been doing is extremely practical and relational. Last night Jo and I went to coffee at her neighbor Amila's house. Everything is so community oriented. We came home, Amila was in her garden and asked if we wanted to have a coffee later. After about an hour, she called up through the window, "Jo! Coffee! Come on!" So we walked over to her house. The roads here are like alleys in America. They are so small, it feels like you're crossing a little driveway to get to the house across the street. We sat outside and had coffee. Bosnian coffee is a lot like the coffee I had in Italy. They drink it out of small cups, and it's strong - they put sugar in it normally. It was absolutely delicious. I felt very welcome, even though I can't speak the language. Jo translated for me, but her Bosnian isn't fluent at all, so I think there were a few things lost in translation. Izmet (sp? Maybe it's Yzmet, not sure...), Amila's father in law, was separating dried beans from the chaff, so we helped him sift and blow the chaff away and put the beautifully colored beans in a big red bowl. It was neat to be able to help even though I couldn't communicate with him at all.

It is really cool to see the people in ministry here building relationships with this community. I can tell they are very well liked and accepted here. Please continue to pray for this ministry as I believe it is a slow, but effective process!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Should Jet Lag Be Cured? Probably Not.

So I'm flying from Medford to SF and I read this article in the InFlight magazine. (Yeah, I totally read those.) I liked what this guy had to say and wanted to share. Plus I'm feeling quite jet-laggy myself at the moment, being in Germany and all after an 11 hour flight, so I'm pepping myself up!

"You can forget what day it is even without a passport. And why do we insist on blaming the flying itself? Sit me upright in an easy chair for 13 hours, replay the Bourne trilogy three times, ply me with gin-and-tonics and let me doze off with my chin tucked into my clavicle... I'm pretty sure I'd wake up feeling weird without ever leaving my living room. [...] This, it seems to me, is one of the profound gifts of being alive now: the ability to get up and go everywhere, to experience the world in a kind of rush that previous generations couldn't have dreamed of. We should savor that rush. We should savor it the way a dog sticks his head out a car window and feels the wind in his face. A sense of dislocation comes with the territory. Indeed, it's part of the fun. [...] The world is big and it should wear us out trying to take it all in. [...] We should be dizzy with awe that these planes deliver us to faraway places, and at the wonders we find there. [...] A little sleepiness, a touch of bewilderment, is nothing more or less than a normal, rational, authentic response to the still-astonishing fact of being flown around the world. We don't need a cure for jet lag. We need a nap."

More about my trip later! (Maybe when I work off the jet lag!)