Monthly Archives: March 2011

thirsty thursday @ the man cave

an all-round great day in the community of halifax. well, at least in our tiny nook.

our ‘man cave’ (as paul likes to call it) was hopping today. lots of guys came out for snacks, pizza and some time for community amongst men. grace was said, then mouths were fed and bellies filled. new faces mixed among the vets was great to see. everyone making each other feel welcome. some my friends and family could really take lessons from these ragtag street guys.

irish resurfaced. hes been working hard and trying to keep his nose clean. looked healthy and upbeat. handshake as firm as before. passed along a contact for guys to get work doing construction. couldnt have come at a better time for some guys. prayers were answered.

uncle pete came down with coffees and hung out. guys took to him pretty quick and he fit in seamlessly with the crew. his puppy, bailey might have had something to do with it, going around licking faces and eating pizza crusts.

some guys shared stories while others just sat in the background taking everything in. handshakes were shook and hugs exchanged. much love on gottingen street today.

thanks to all you praying for this venture. many were answered today.

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super sunday spring supper

the sun decided to make an appearance today and not a day too soon. fitting that the first day of spring happens to arrive on a sunny sunday. God is a good scriptwriter, no?

my day starts slow. snails pace slow. the past two nights working overnight at the shelter has zapped me clean of energy. my insomnia has been at bay for the past week but that doesnt mean my sleeping is really any better. i dream about working at the shelter.

come on.. really?!

sunday supper at st andrews stirs me from my cave. i walk past the fort where kids are tumbling down the sloped semi-green hills. it looks like a log-rolling race and im half tempted to join in.  next time. gerrard sits next to the front doors, slouched over. hes been banned from the main eating room for reasons not explained to me but i assume it has something to do with the booze bottle in his jacket. he gives me a hug and stumbles as he sits back down. i promise to come back to talk with him after saying hi to everyone else. he smiles and closes his eyes.

rons hard to miss when you walk into the room. his big jolly smile separates the newfie from the others pretty well.  we catch up quickly and make plans for me to fix his computer.  not that im apt at fixing technologies but he asks and i agree to give it a shot.  paul and mike sit talking with tim a few tables over. hes got his hands full and leave him to it. old john glances up from his book to say hi, comments on the weather and goes back to his novel. glens voice is just as distinct as the old newfies smile.  he shouts across the room and motions me to come over. i whip up a chair and park myself beside him. he got an apartment finally and moved out of the mens shelter. hes pretty happy about it, though he mentions how lonely it gets at times. mentally he still battles with the demons in his head, both figuratively and literally. he desperately needs a healthy community to be part of. dont we all?

steven has been avoiding me lately. paranoia is a tough thing to combat when building relationships with these guys. he seems a bit sketchy when i sit down and answers my questions in quick and short statements. i push through his attempts at avoidance and ask him about the things that matter most to him. walls drop like jericho and in no time we’re carrying on like we usually do. conversation is the best medicine for steven. he drinks it up like a man crawling through the desert. 

i quickly remember gerrard and make a beeline for the front. hes still there and still fairly intoxicated. we go outside for some fresh air and talk about this past week in his life. i try to negotiate a trade for his bottle of booze but hes not in a bargaining mood. i challenge him to stay sober till the next time i see him and he says ‘yes’ but shakes his head. i laugh and give him a hug. i mention that there might be a gift attached to his sobriety if he can make it.

what? im not beyond bribing.

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the rebels are massing

 

youd have to be living under a rock for the past few months not to know that there is a large uprising in progress in the middle east/north african region. high unemployment, growing food costs, government corruption, etc, has fueled a giant youth bulge in the region that seems determined to exact change in their countries, one way or another. some people are calling for foreign intervention, others are screaming ‘no!’. if they intervene in one country, why not in others too? friendly western sentiment in the region is rather low. the leaders they want to get rid of have been propped up by western influence for decades. surprised? you shouldnt be. classic western theme: install repressive leadership in order to get resources from said country, when the people revolt support them in order to subvert. works well too.

well the west has decided to once again intervene in another countries affairs. and once again humanitarian relief is their clever mantra, but with large oil deposits sitting underneath libyan sands, youd be hard pressed to convince me the black stuff doesnt have something to do with it.

canada has decided to jump on the bandwagon (thanks, harper and the rest of you useless twits) and send ‘aid’ in the form of six fighter jets and a contingent of 140 pilots and support personnel to help with the enforcement of the no-fly zone. this not so subtle action is an act of war on the part of the west, and will no doubt be seen so by those already inflamed by american neo-imperialism in that region of the world. if militant extremists with a penchant for terrorism needed another reason to get their panties in a knot, they just got it.

when are the people in western nations going to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’? im afraid our time to do so is slowly slipping away. the day will come, sooner than most of us would care to admit, when we wont have the chance to anymore.  the rebels are massing over there.  will they ever here?

or maybe im just being pessimistic again..

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he said what?

i had a conversation recently with someone who professed to be a christian but didnt agree with the very words Jesus taught. whats next is some rambling thoughts in my mind about this talk.

*****

‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those that abuse you’- luke 6:27-28

be nice to my enemies?! seriously?

 

‘if anyone would come after me, let me deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. for whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will save it’ – mark 8:34-35

dying for the cause?! umm, my pastor never said anything about that..

 

‘if anyone does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple luke 14:33

give up all? everything? you cant be serious..

 

Jesus did and said some crazy things. if you dont believe me, pick up a bible and read the new testament. he filled his inner circle with a ragtag crew of misfits no one else would have dreamed of picking. he picked both a zealot (assassin for the nation) and a tax collector (worked for rome..traitor in the zealots eyes). upon first look that appears to be a very bad idea. he picked fishermen with bad tempers and religious nuts with weird ideas. he even picked a religious terrorist who had been previously killing early christians. not quite the standards of popular leadership today.

he said crazy things like, “i am the way, the truth and the life. no one comes to the father except through me’. the religious people of his time flipped their lids. he threatened their religious authority over the people. their power, their influence, their place in society, everything. then he would say something like, ‘..no one knows the son except the father, and no one knows the father except the son ..’ and really put things in stark terms – he was the only way to know God.

only way to God?! getting pretty exclusive, Jesus.. might want to scale it back or else people might not follow you. you want followers, right..? you can just hear his disciples thinking these things as theyre going along.

see, Jesus didnt simply claim to be a good moral teacher or pretend to be some philosopher people should follow for enlightenment. he claimed to be the one man they were all waiting for – the one that would save them from sin and deliver them into the kingdom of heaven. Jesus didnt say he was one of many saviors, he said he was the only one. ‘ for unless you believe that i am he, you will die in your sins’. no splitting hairs there.

‘abide in me and i in you. as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. i am the vine; you are the branches. whoever abides in me and i in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.’ – john 15:4-5

too many people want to dress Jesus up and make him be something that he wasnt. i can understand people calling him crazy. i can understand why some people have no desire to follow him. what i cant understand are those who treat Jesus like a spiritual smorgasbord and take a little of this, leave a whole lot of that. theyd rather mash together a religious system thats easier to follow than what he actually taught. theyd just as easily hide behind ‘thats just your opinion’ time and time again. its really no wonder why many people today cant take christianity seriously. the very people professing to be his followers dont even take him seriously..

‘not everyone who says to me ‘lord, lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven’ – matthew 7:21

rant over/

 

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thoughtful quote

to help the poor to a capacity for action and liberty is something essential for one’s own health as well as theirs: there is a needful gift they have to offer which cannot be offered so long as they are confined by poverty.

-rowan d.williams

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the cure

1 in 5 people in our society suffer from mental illness.

theres many stigmas in our culture about mental illness that need to be deconstructed. this mans artistic testimony is a good step in the right direction.

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lent?

i decided to do lent this year. while ive been doing the whole ‘churchy’ thing now for almost 12 years, ive never had the desire to participate in lent. it has probably had something to do with my aversion to religion. confused? let me explain.

both my parents grew up in church-going families. my mom in a roman catholic church, my father a baptist. because of actions outside my parents control, they were either asked to leave the church or things were made to feel quite uncomfortable. this kept my father away from the church for decades before returning and has still kept my mother away. whats happened in my family seems to just be a microcosm of whats happened to most families who did the whole ‘church thing’. somewhere along the line someone broke some rules and church politics came down hard. this is religion. this is what i hate.

i can hear the question being asked, though it may just be the echo in my own mind, ‘but if you hate religion why do you continue to go to church and do the ‘church thing?’ i continue with this in spite of religion because i whole heartedly believe that christianity is about relationship with God and not an adherence to a bunch of rules written by some guys in weird hats. i consider myself a christian because i believe my redemption is found in Christ and him alone. religion has nothing to do with what i believe. relationship has everything to do with it.

so this year ive decided to look at lent a little different. ive decided to focus not on the negatives i see inherent in the system (i might be lambasted on that one) but on the positives that come from an honest, sincere and faithful relationship to the God that gave of himself for little old me.

today was ash wednesday and the beginning of this lent journey. with it i started a new blog to journal my thoughts about lent because i want to keep this blog separate. for those interested ive put the blog address at the bottom.

heres to casting off preconceived ideas and attempting new things..

be blessed.

http://lukeslent.wordpress.com/

 

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decision vacation anyone?

i want a vacation from decisions.

id like to wake up tomorrow morning and not have to decide anything at all for at least a week.  a seista for my mind.  id even wear a shirt with the word ‘decisions’ on it but crossed out.   if it sounds like im about to lament and complain its because i am.

if you had to take an inventory, how often do you figure your forced to make decisions you really dont want to make? getting your cake and eating it too seems like such a better way. why must fork in the roads always come at the worst possible moments? ive had the recent misfortune of running smack into one of these lovely forks this weekend, though id been sitting at it just staring in disbelief (maybe a little defiance) for the past couple weeks, angry and frustrated that i had to actually choose. putting it off and dealing with it later seemed like a rather attractive decision. really a non-decision. the voice telling me to ‘get real’ only got louder.

so i chose.

and my guts kind of curled up in themselves, my stomach feeling grumpy and my mind resistant to thinking about ‘normal’ things. my body fights back. it reminds me of a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. its irrational, silly and stubborn. my soul on the other hand is calm. well, as calm as ones soul can be living inside an almost 29-year-old man who happens to live in western civilization with all its bread and circuses.  digressing..

my mind and soul are doing battle just as they often do, yet this time it feels different. maybe its all the same but maybe its not. maybe its altogether different, better, greater.  maybe the truth lies inbetween somewhere.  my mind can play the maybe game all night and it does to my displeasure.

i speak vaguely in order to cover for something – weakness.   i dont want to seem weak. i realize the previous statement undermines my prior intentions but its already written and i dont feel like editing this lament. better to be left raw and real. if life cant be edited (can it be?) why do we spend so much time editing our thoughts? in an effort to be more clear or to exercise control over something?  control the perception of our weaknesses?

digressing once again…

i cannot stop my internal guessing games no more than i can stop my own heart from beating. i question and requestion everything. i search for more information i might have overlooked, knowing full well there isnt any nor would it matter if there were. im playing head games with my own head. isnt that what crazy people do?

i do outreach with guys on the street who are certifiably crazy (for all you politically correct people, mentally ill), yet if you asked them if they had  health (both physical and mental) problems, theyd say they were just fine. these guys are quite hard to help because they dont even see their craziness. theyre in fact blind to it. ive sometimes wondered if craziness is contagious..

right now i feel crazy.

and if i dont get a decision vacation soon, i just might tip the scale.

/lament over

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