Friday, October 26, 2012

My internet life seems to be a never ending path of redirects...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

KONY 2012

I have recently been apart of a series of documentary screenings in Winnipeg for the film Nefarious: Merchant of Souls. The film is a in-depth look at the horrors of the sex trade and prostitution within our world. My heart was truly moved as I was exposed to something that I previously had no clue existed to the degree portrayed.

After watching the film, my first thought was: "what can I do to help stop this injustice?"

There is an obvious disconnect between the prosperity of the western world and the injustices that occur overseas. This is not to say that the western world is free from injustice, but rather it is better suited to deal with such issues. I believe that through the KONY 2012 campaign, Invisible Children has made it simple (and possible, for that matter) for those in the western world to contribute to a cause taking place far out of eyesight.

These are the reasons that I am choosing to support Invisible Children and the KONY 2012 campaign...

1. The Simplicity - As highlighted throughout the video, law/policy makers will listen to their constituents. The main focus of this movement is to speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves and there is something plainly HUMAN in standing up for another person.

The campaign simply asks you to use your Facebook/Twitter/letter writing abilities mixed with a little bit of your time to contact those who hold power in our nation. To communicate a point; that there is injustice in our world and it must be stopped.

Everything has been set out before you, now it is time for you to mobilize.

2. The Hope - Do you understand that if Kony is captured our world will change? - change would in fact be inevitable. From the way we see social media to the way the policy makers react to the concerns of their constituents. I hold out for a hope that Kony will be arrested and brought to face the charges laid before him. And that perhaps this campaign can save the life of 1 child.

Concerning the matter of US intervention in a foreign nation...

The role of US soldiers currently in Uganda is the role of advisors. Yesterday, in a conversation with Chris Hopkins, a former US advisor in Iraq, I was told of the realities of the position of an advisor. I was told of first hand accounts of what it means to train local soldiers in ways they could not train themselves. During this conversation I came to realize that those advisors are not malicious men, but rather real human beings with the genuine intention of seeing change in the world.

It is also important to note that the US is not in Uganda for the purpose of occupation or government overthrow, rather to help locals rid their nation of a man who has been committing atrocities, unpunished, for over twenty years.

Those are my thoughts and opinions, feel free to agree or disagree. However! In whatever you do, do it to make this world a little bit of a better place.

Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 17

The Simplicity of the Carefree Life

This Chapter was incredible. I'm going to provide you with very little of my personal insight, I'll just let you dive into a few passages from the chapter.

We walk as pilgrims through the earth,
With empty hands, bereft and bare;
To gather wealth were little worth -
'Twould only burden life the more.

If men will go the way to death,
With them we will part company;
For God will give us all we need
To cover our necessity.


Something to chew on... Assuming Tersteegen has a valid point in his poem, how do we reconcile something like that with our western culture and how we live our lives?

Be not anxious! Earthly possessions dazzle our eyes and delude us into thinking that they can provide security and freedom from anxiety. Yet all the time they are the very source of all anxiety. If our hearths are set on them, our reward is an anxiety whose burden in intolerable. Anxiety creates its own treasures and they in turn beget further care. When we seek for security in possessions we are trying to drive out care with care, and the net result is the precise opposite of our anticipations. The fetters which bind us to our possessions prove to be cares themselves. [...] The only way to win assurance is by leaving tomorrow entirely in the hands of God and by receiving from him all we need for today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 16

The Hiddenness of the Devout Life

[...] We want other people to see our achievements and to be put to shame. Our asceticism has now become the way to salvation. Such publicity gives it the reward it seeks.

Here Bonhoeffer is talking about living your life without seeking recognition for your actions. It is a hard concept to follow, if I do a good deed I naturally want everyone around me to recognize that fact and to celebrate my action. However, Christ has called us to make those good deeds a part of our everyday life, to the point where we are not looking for any sort of glory, but rather attribute all good to the power of Christ working through us.

I encourage you to continue your good deeds, however continue them without seeking recognition for your actions. Like all most related to following Jesus, easier said than done.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 15

The Hiddenness of Prayer

If God were ignorant of our needs, we should have to think out beforehand how we should tell him about them, what we should tell him, and whether we should tell him or not. Thus faith, which is the mainspring of Christian prayer, excludes all reflection and premeditation.

Have you ever hesitated in sharing something for the fear that someone's opinion of you will change based on what you share? How often does this happen? I would hazard to guess it happens more often than we would imagine, however, the point of Bonhoeffer in this excerpt is that this fear should never be felt when communicating with God. The reason being; God already knows what you are going to say.

Strange... Weird... Absurd even. Yet miraculously beautiful in the same sense.

The chapter continues and draws reference to how prayer is an integral part in the life of a follower of Christ. To shy away from communication with God and yet claim to be his follower would be akin to claiming to love your wife yet paying her no attention. It doesn't work.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nefarious 1: Merchant of Souls

Today's post will not be about the Cost of Discipleship... But rather a documentary called Nefarious 1: Merchant of Souls. Start by watching this video...

It's like your ordering a pizza.

Is there not something seriously wrong with this?

I believe that a perfect world is impossible, the evil present in our world is simply too vast to ever be completely suppressed. However, as followers of Christ we are obliged to shine His light wherever we go. To advocate for the justice of the widow, orphan and those who are generally oppressed. If we are truly followers of Christ allowing something such as sex trafficking to go unnoticed would be a shame and direct disobedience of Christ's teachings.

I'm going to do some digging and in a future post I'll give you an established organization which concerns itself with sex trafficking that you can get in contact with, if you so desire.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 14

The Hidden Righteousness

The better righteousness of the disciples must have a motive which lies beyond itself. Of course it has to be visible, but they must take care that it does not become visible simply for the sake of becoming visible. There are of course proper grounds for insisting on the visible nature of Christian discipleship, but the visibility is never an end in itself, and if it becomes so we have lost sight of our primary aim, which is to follow Jesus.

The genuine work of love is always a hidden work. Take heed therefore that you know it not, for only so is it the goodness of God. If we want to know our own goodness or even of our love for our enemies. This voluntary blindness in the Christian (which is really sight illuminated by Christ) is his certainty, and the fact that his life is hidden from his sight is the ground of assurance.

How difficult is it for us to do some sort of good deed and to purposefully go unnoticed for it?It's as if the fact that the good deed was done is attention enough. I find this aspect of Christ's teaching truly fascinating. The concept of "it's not about me" is a hard one for me to swallow, however shifting my focus to "it's all about you" is something that seems illogical, yet awesome in the same breath.

This book is seriously amazing, I am learning something new everyday. You should probably buy it, read it and love it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 13

The Enemy - the "Extraordinary"

The Christian must treat his enemy as a brother, and requite his hostility with love. His behaviour must be determined not by the way otters treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus; it has only one sour, and the is the will of Jesus. [... the page over] As brother stands by brother in distress, binding up his wounds and soothing his pain, so let us show our love toward our enemy. There is no deeper distress to be found in the world, no pain more bitter than our enemy's. Nowhere is service more necessary or more blessed than when we serve our enemies. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Uhh, did you just read that?

Now try to tell me that "loving your enemy" doesn't go against everything your mind tells you is just and fair... You can't. The teaching of Jesus is revolutionary, He asks us to go completely against our human nature, to LOVE OUR ENEMIES.

As I am writing this I am drawn back to a conversation I had with a group of friends over the controversy of being able to 'love' someone and not 'like' them. I was one of the first ones within the group to say that 'love' is possible without 'like', however, as I now look at the extreme's that Jesus speaks of I am wondering whether my original position can be supported.

Would not the overwhelming sense of love automatically encapsulate the definition of 'like' within itself? Man, I think I may be getting ahead of myself. This is something that I'll have to do some pondering and studying about.

Until then, peace.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 12


The passion of Christ is the victory of divine love over the powers of evil, and therefore it is the only supportable basis for Christian obedience. Once again, Jesus calls those who follow him to share his passion. How can we convince the world by our preaching of the passion when we shrink for that passion in our own lives? [...] The cross is the only power in the world which proves that suffering love can avenge and vanquish evil.

Recently, Bonhoeffer's chapters have tackled an issue or a sin. I feel like I am reading a daily devotional book, a word of wisdom for everyday concerning a topic that everyone deals with. This chapter on revenge was very interesting... At the start of the book there was a memoir of Bonhoeffer's life which talked about his plans to kill Hitler and a host of other things he had done in his lifetime.

At the start of this chapter, using Matthew 5:38-42 as a basis, Bonhoeffer is adamant that one must repel evil through non-violence. That when someone steals your cloak you must also give him your tunic. To stop evil in it's tracks by not reacting to it... However, it was Bonhoeffer who was executed for attempting to kill Hitler. I wish that he would have lived on through the war and could have reconciled his words in this chapter with his real life actions. I am not condemning him for attempting to take out Hitler, I would just like to know where he drew the line in regards to "revenge."

Your thoughts?

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 11


Complete truthfulness is only possible where sin has been uncovered, and forgiven by Jesus. Only those who are in a state of truthfulness through the confession of their sin to Jesus are not ashamed to tell the truth wherever it must be told. The truthfulness which Jesus demands from his followers is the self-abnegation which does not hide sin. Nothing is then hidden, everything is brought forth to the light of day.

In this chapter on truthfulness Bonhoeffer takes a look at Jesus' words in Matthew 5:33-37. This passage deals with the idea of oaths/promises. Bonhoeffer cleverly stated that the only reason oaths exist is because of the possibility of telling a lie. He then goes on to say that oaths would not, and ultimately should not, be necessary for someone who tells nothing but the truth, therefore encouraging both you and I to abstain from telling lies as they do not edify anyone. The most powerful quote from this passage falls in verse 37 where Jesus instructs those around Him to let there "yes" be "yes" and their "no" be "no."

Consider this a personal challenge. First of all, try to think of a time where you have lied and it has had no negative consequences. Secondly, try to abstain from lying, try to only utter the truth. This includes exaggerations and embellishment.

I am currently trying this... And it is way harder than you may think... Much easier said than done.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 10


Adherence to Jesus allows no free rein to desire unless it be accompanied by love. To follow Jesus means self-renunciation and absolute adherence to him, and therefore a will dominated by lust can never be allowed to do what it likes.

Yeah, you guessed it... This chapter deals with lust.

In this chapter Bonhoeffer makes a biblically supported argument against sexual immorality. I would consider the message of xxxchurch to be some sort of contemporary to what Bonhoeffer (and many other prominent theologians of the past) was (were) saying.

The idea of sexual purity is not a very popular one. In the university setting in which I find myself, it is not uncommon to come to class on a Monday morning and to hear someone boast of their sexual accomplishments that took place over the weekend. Man, we were made for so much more than to screw around on weekends and slave through our weeks...

I find Romans 6:11-14 particularly powerful when tackling the issue of sin...

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."

To rid ourselves of sin is the key to closeness with the Lord. This is something that we have to understand before we start to question why we can't hear from God.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 9

The Brother

Every idle word which we think so little of betrays our lack of respect for our neighbour, and shows that we place ourselves on a pinnacle above him and value our own lives higher than his. The angry word is a blow struck at our brother, a stab at his heart: it seeks to hit, to hurt and distort. A deliberate insult is even worse, for we are then openly disgracing our brother in the eyes of the world, and causing other to despise him, With our hearts burning with hatred, we seek to annihilate his moral and material existence.

I could have used a million different pull quotes from this chapter, it was seriously the best chapter yet, totally making up for my lack of understanding in Chapter 8.

So, upon reading The Brother I was subjected to a rude awakening... This chapter, as you may have already pieced together, talks about your "brothers." In other words, your relationships with others. The chapter centralizes around Matthew 5:21-26 and focuses on the main topics of forgiveness and relationships.

I consciously do my best to keep from gossip or any form of slander as I learned from a young age that talking behind someones back never does anyone any good. However, there are times, admittedly, where I say things I should not. I am 100% confident that I am not alone in this boat, I am sure each and every reader has said something (either directly to an individual or behind someone's back) that they have regretted saying. It was an simply an awakening that I need to be more careful of what I say.

On another note, I took The Cost of Discipleship with me to school today as I figured that I may have a moment or two to dive back into Chapter 8 and attempt to figure out some of the deep theology that Bonhoeffer was referring to... I am pleased to say that my wave of enlightenment hit me when I was waiting to get my haircut... I see Chapter 8 in a different light, with a clearer understanding of the topics mentioned. All it took was reading it over again, slowly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 8

The Righteousness of Christ

Again, it is not enough to teach the law of Christ, it must be done, otherwise it is no better than the old law.

If you have read this book before you know that Chapter 8 is the most dense chapter to this point in the book. I do not profess to be an Old Testament scholar (nor a New Testament scholar for that matter), however I would hazard to guess that even one of scholarly standing would struggle here with Bonhoeffer. The majority of the teaching revolves around the Law of the Old Testament and the new Law that Jesus brought. However, it also talks about keeping alive some of the traditions of the old Law. Regardless of my initial thoughts, this is a chapter that I must revisit to fully understand the content.

On a somewhat related note, have you ever read Francis Schaeffer's A Christian Manifesto? I read it in Grade 11 and can remember reading each page AT LEAST 2 times before turning it. Some content needs to be deeply explored to be adequately understood.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 7

The Visible Community

The followers are a visible community; their discipleship visible in action which lifts them out of the world - otherwise it would not be discipleship. And of course the following is a visible to the world as a light in the darkness or a mountain rising from a plain.

To be a follower of Jesus strikes me as a pretty exciting thing. To search after the one who healed the blind, raised people from the dead and was even resurrected himself is jaw dropping and awe inspiring.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship - Chapter 6

So you probably just looked at the title and are now thinking; "Chapter 6?! Don't books start at chapter 1?" You would be correct, most books do in fact start at chapter one and that includes The Cost of Discipleship, however, I am currently on Chapter 7 and therefore will start with thoughts on Chapter 6. If I get around to blogging about another book, I will be sure to start from Chapter 1.

Chapter 6 - The Beatitudes

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy...
As if their own needs and their own distress were not enough, they take upon themselves the distress and humiliation and sin of others. They have an irresistible love for the down-trodden, the sick, the wretched, the wronged, the outcast and all who are tortured with anxiety. They go out and seek all who are enmeshed in the toils of sin and guilt. No distress is too great, no sin too appalling for their pity. If any man falls into disgrace, the merciful will sacrifice their own honour to shield him, and take his shame upon themselves. They will be found consorting with publicans and sinners, careless of the shame they incur thereby. In order that they may be merciful they cast away their most priceless treasure of human life, the personal dignity and honour. For the only honour and dignity they know is their Lord's own mercy, to which alone they owe their very lives.
(Excerpt from the Chapter)

As made apparent by the subheading in this small portion of the chapter, Bonhoeffer is talking about mercy. He is talking about what it means to take up the cross, to take up the cause of Jesus Christ and to live a life full of mercy. This particular passage stood out to me because I believe that this is how a follower of Christ should be living out their life. This definition of a merciful being is truly beautiful, however, it is more easily said than acted upon.

As I peer through Bonhoeffer's words I struggle to apply them to my life, while beautiful in thought, the reality is seemingly unrealistic. I find that I have to start with 'baby steps', if you will. After verifying Bonhoeffer's words through scripture I wake up the next morning and try to shape my life a little differently first thing in the morning.

Slowly, but surely, I attempt to become a man who would: "...cast away the most priceless treasure of human life, personal dignity and honour."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Cost of Discipleship

A requirement of my internship with Soul Sanctuary is to read and study a certain number of books. While I have hundreds of books to read for my regular university classes during the school year, I figured I would put off reading these books until April and then read them all while my school reading load is much lighter. However, I have started reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship each night before bed and I have been loving it.

Each night between 10.30-11.30pm I grab a cup o' tea and relax in my bed, reading Bonhoeffer and then my Bible. It is a beautiful routine and it is also the part of my day that I look forward to the most.

Whilst reading Bonhoeffer I discovered that the knowledge he shares is too brilliant to keep to myself. Therefore, each night before I start my reading routine I plan on sharing a snip bit of knowledge that I have learnt the night before. This will start as of tomorrow night, so be sure to keep checking back! If all goes well, I'll continue to do this with the other books that I will be reading.

Peace and Love,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Letter From Shane Claiborne

This is an article that I happened to stumble upon yesterday, this dude has a lot to say, but stay with it. Completely worth the read.

To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.

The other night I headed into downtown Philly for a stroll with some friends from out of town. We walked down to Penn's Landing along the river, where there are street performers, artists, musicians. We passed a great magician who did some pretty sweet tricks like pour change out of his iPhone, and then there was a preacher. He wasn't quite as captivating as the magician. He stood on a box, yelling into a microphone, and beside him was a coffin with a fake dead body inside. He talked about how we are all going to die and go to hell if we don't know Jesus.

Some folks snickered. Some told him to shut the hell up. A couple of teenagers tried to steal the dead body in the coffin. All I could do was think to myself, I want to jump up on a box beside him and yell at the top of my lungs, "God is not a monster." Maybe next time I will.

The more I have read the Bible and studied the life of Jesus, the more I have become convinced that Christianity spreads best not through force but through fascination. But over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve. And the sort of Christianity many of us have seen on TV and heard on the radio looks less and less like Jesus.

At one point Gandhi was asked if he was a Christian, and he said, essentially, "I sure love Jesus, but the Christians seem so unlike their Christ." A recent study showed that the top three perceptions of Christians in the U. S. among young non-Christians are that Christians are 1) antigay, 2) judgmental, and 3) hypocritical. So what we have here is a bit of an image crisis, and much of that reputation is well deserved. That's the ugly stuff. And that's why I begin by saying that I'm sorry.

Now for the good news.

I want to invite you to consider that maybe the televangelists and street preachers are wrong — and that God really is love. Maybe the fruits of the Spirit really are beautiful things like peace, patience, kindness, joy, love, goodness, and not the ugly things that have come to characterize religion, or politics, for that matter. (If there is anything I have learned from liberals and conservatives, it's that you can have great answers and still be mean... and that just as important as being right is being nice.)

The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good. For those of you who are on a sincere spiritual journey, I hope that you do not reject Christ because of Christians. We have always been a messed-up bunch, and somehow God has survived the embarrassing things we do in His name. At the core of our "Gospel" is the message that Jesus came "not [for] the healthy... but the sick." And if you choose Jesus, may it not be simply because of a fear of hell or hope for mansions in heaven.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in the afterlife, but too often all the church has done is promise the world that there is life after death and use it as a ticket to ignore the hells around us. I am convinced that the Christian Gospel has as much to do with this life as the next, and that the message of that Gospel is not just about going up when we die but about bringing God's Kingdom down. It was Jesus who taught us to pray that God's will be done "on earth as it is in heaven." On earth.

One of Jesus' most scandalous stories is the story of the Good Samaritan. As sentimental as we may have made it, the original story was about a man who gets beat up and left on the side of the road. A priest passes by. A Levite, the quintessential religious guy, also passes by on the other side (perhaps late for a meeting at church). And then comes the Samaritan... you can almost imagine a snicker in the Jewish crowd. Jews did not talk to Samaritans, or even walk through Samaria. But the Samaritan stops and takes care of the guy in the ditch and is lifted up as the hero of the story. I'm sure some of the listeners were ticked. According to the religious elite, Samaritans did not keep the right rules, and they did not have sound doctrine... but Jesus shows that true faith has to work itself out in a way that is Good News to the most bruised and broken person lying in the ditch.

It is so simple, but the pious forget this lesson constantly. God may indeed be evident in a priest, but God is just as likely to be at work through a Samaritan or a prostitute. In fact the Scripture is brimful of God using folks like a lying prostitute named Rahab, an adulterous king named David... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again.

After all, Jesus says to the religious elite who looked down on everybody else: "The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom ahead of you." And we wonder what got him killed?

I have a friend in the UK who talks about "dirty theology" — that we have a God who is always using dirt to bring life and healing and redemption, a God who shows up in the most unlikely and scandalous ways. After all, the whole story begins with God reaching down from heaven, picking up some dirt, and breathing life into it. At one point, Jesus takes some mud, spits in it, and wipes it on a blind man's eyes to heal him. (The priests and producers of anointing oil were not happy that day.)

In fact, the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.

In closing, to those who have closed the door on religion — I was recently asked by a non-Christian friend if I thought he was going to hell. I said, "I hope not. It will be hard to enjoy heaven without you." If those of us who believe in God do not believe God's grace is big enough to save the whole world... well, we should at least pray that it is.

Your brother,


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