Archive for March, 2013

Do You Know?

Posted: March 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

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This week I have been putting together a statement of faith for the local house church that my wife and I have been attending.  It is amazing, but according to the Barna report, there are more people in these kind of fellowships today than there are people going to traditional American churches.  I think that is probably a good thing.

Remember in James 5 where James admonishes the people who “have lived on the land in luxury and self indulgence”?  I think most of us can agree that that is what the American church has become.  The Church on the other hand is God’s people gathering…”wherever there are 2 or more gathered in my name”.  We always hear that the church is not a spectator sport, that we should get off the bench and in the game.  The problem is, that comment is usually made to a bunch of spectators by a person who WANTS to spectated at, and (most appropriately of all) to a bunch of folk sitting on benches.  Perfect!

The problem with home fellowships however, is the danger of nor knowing what yu believe.  But unlike the traditional church, where you can believe whatever you please and never have an argument because you don’t really know anybody anyway, in the home fellowships stuff has to be worked out together.  There is a strong group mentality or ethic…not like a family but AS a family.  We believe that people are not so much saved to be in a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus (thought that undoubtedly is the beginning of the whole deal) but rather to be a part of a family. 

So, I’m writing down the core and common beliefs we hold, and as a family we will argue about it, and as a family (after everybody has had their say) we will decide what is true and what that means for the family.  But man, if you have never tried to boil down what you believe into a few paragraphs, and you know that the rest of the people are each individually going to have some issue along the way, then you should try it sometime.  It really focuses and crystallizes what is a “die on this hill” belief, and what are “dyed in the wool” beliefs.  What’s really important, and what is of secondary importance?  I’m finding out as I find out what I really believe and why I believe it.

Do you know?

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So many of my friends have been asking why I would post something as innocuous as a video about making coffee. Well the truth is I have a friend in Burundi who has an orphanage. well that was random, you’re probably saying about right now. Here’s the thing, Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania are basically the cradle of the coffee juggernaut of today. They also happen to be the places, at least Burundi and Rwanda are, where genocide has been become so ubiquitous as to be almost a blood sport. My friend Dieudonne knows about this first hand. See, he was a Tutsi…that’s as opposed to a Hutu. As anyone who has seen Hotel Rwanda knows, these two people groups hate each other. The weird things is they are not different ethnically at all. They were simply groups the occupying Belgians made up so that they could tell the people apart. They needed a ruling class of Africans, and couldn’t stomach that all of the Africans should be near equals to them. They needed some black people to stomp on so they made the shorter, barrel-chested, muscular ones Hutus and proceeded to make them the working class…the taller more elegant ones, with more aquiline features, were Tutsis and they became the ruling class. Think Ugandan versus Ethiopian… or Idi Amin versus Iman. They perpetuated this by encouraging intermarriage between the new classes, but not without. Thus, the ruling class got all the education and money and comforts of life…the Hutus got the shaft. Therefore, whenever the Belgians eventually left the country the largest group, the Hutus, overthrew the minority of Tutsis. Well perhaps they overthrew them, beat them, chopped them up, burned the pieces and scattered the ashes would be more accurate. Again, I’m sure you remember what the movie depicted…so you can imagine. However the sadder part is that the Belgians had also divided the country at one time in the same way they had divided its people. Burndiwanda was its name and it became Burundi & Rwanda. But where as Rwanda became a sexy bastion for the politically correct dollars to accumulate, Burundi is rarely if ever known about. It is desolate. There is extreme poverty, starvation, near anarchic conditions…and nobody even knows these people exist. Well Andrew Palau and his dad do, they brought Nicole and I over there in the first place. I can’t thank them enough. I can honestly say it’s the only country in Africa I’ve been scared to be in. It’s simply a violent place. They have just had their first constitutionally elected president make it through a full four-year term…without being murdered!

My friend Dieudonne was a Tutsi. His parents were involved in the government and were…deposed. Dieu went on to raise him self on the mean streets of Bujumbura. When he was a teenager a visiting American woman gave him two things…her spare money as she got on the plane and salvation. She presented the gospel, to Dieu who received it gladly, and the paper money and left for the States. He never saw her again. But the words she said are being lived out to this very day. “Don’t spend all that on yourself”. Dieudonne would use the money in hand to gather street orphans to himself like a Tutsi pied piper and he multiplied the money by creating little businesses they could all do. Today he runs an orphanage for 100 children and has just sent some of the toddlers from that first encounter to University…but he’s running out of money. We’re not talking about thousands of dollars here, but rather hundreds of dollars that save REAL lives in the land of the un-sexy genocide, Burundi.

And that is where the coffee came in. I was thinking, what if we opened a coffee-house here in Nashville. There is a large contingency of Burundian folk here who fled the last genocide in 2007…2007! What if the refugees ran and operated the coffeehouse? What if Dieudonne’s orphans could grow coffee, and we bought from them as our supplier? The few thousand generated would change the world of 100 children almost overnight, and would surely lead to more children being added to the fold. What if we made it really special by doing coffee the way it used to be done…like in the video above? Run by Africans, supplied by Africans, supporting Africans. Call it something like “Burundiwanda House….Home of the Un-sexy Genocide”!

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Lately I have been thinking a lot about legacy…as in what kind I’m leaving. I have done a lot in my life. I mean, I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve also screwed things up a lot too. That’s what i have been thinking on. Which ones count more? The victories? The failures? I think I’ve been a good dad. I have been a mediocre husband. I have been a prolific writer. I have been an adventurous producer, and an entrepreneurial media content creator. I have ebbed and flowed in my devotion to the Kingdom in my work and in these last few years have redoubled my efforts to make the excellence of my work be my protest against all that is going wrong in this jacked up world. I know I’m just spewing on the page…here’s the thing. I lost one of my closest friends and colleagues this week…he took his own life. And I can’t figure why. See, this has been one of the godliest, most prolific, profoundly influential people in my life. If anyone had asked me who was the most “together” cat I know, it would’ve been my friend. He left an enormous legacy…all for Jesus. Does his death, even a death by his own hand, negate his work? I vacillate….but I don’t think it does. He helped literally hundreds of thousands of men love their wives better, become more committed to family, more devoted to their children. I look at the measly offering I have in terms of what I’m leaving behind, and I am unimpressed. And dude took his life! I suppose he was really unhappy. Do you know he called me just before…I didn’t call him back. I was busy. I can’t go on living like this. I need for each moment to count. A few years back, I did some really rotten things and God used it to drive me all the way home and into a lifestyle of radical repentance. However, that wasn’t before some people in my world made what I had done sound even worse. You can build a good reputation for years and years and it can all be ruined in just a few short moments. And believe me, what you mess up, others will be almost gleefully, willingly, make more out of than what actually happens… lynch folk with a Scripture on their lips and holy fire in their eyes. I guess our lives are so boring that we aren’t satisfied unless we get to totally torch somebody’s life once in a while. I’m okay with that. That old man needed to be torched…he was a straw man. The new man doesn’t stand quite so tall, and is not half so shiny…and I want to make sure he is now leaving a REAL legacy and not a straw one. I’m just not exactly sure how you know… but I am determined to know Christ and the power of his suffering and to participate in his crucifixion with him and so somehow attain this eternal life that Jesus has promised us. But my friend believed that too.  I just don’t know.  It knocks the wind out of my sails and gets me rethinking everything all over again…doubting again…what God is doing in my life.  But then my baby girl Jasmine comes to me and says, “Daddy, I have something for you”.  And that something is her new EP she has recorded.  The vocals are killer, the production values very high, and the lyrics are not only well thought out and well said, but they are TRUE.  They are life giving.    And I see the legacy.  I see the Holy Spirit retelling the message…from me, to her, to you. He’s reminding me. He loves me. It’s in these moments that I see the Kingdom come, the legacy living. Like the titlr of her record says, “The Beginning is Near”      Thanks Jazzy.

John Hancock Band

John Hancock Band