Wednesday, December 27

Onething or Nothing

I'm writing from Kansas City, at the International House of Prayer. Tomorrow I'm joining 10,000+ young adults for a three-day gathering of worship, prayer, and fasting to bring in the New Year. Onething is known for being a massive welcoming of the Holy Spirit. For me this is a time of re-focusing on the One. I'm pumped.

I was in the prayer room for a little while last night. (Mike Bickle opened this prayer room in September of 1999 and has orchestrated night and day, non-stop worship and intercession for the nations since then. It is an insane move of God!) We spent hours praying corporately for the young people coming to Onething. That the fire of the Holy Spirit would move on our hearts. (I really think the Spirit likes those prayers.)

I helped out with the pre-conference set-up today. I had the strange-adrenaline-rushed-job of unpacking and displaying thousands of brand new books for the Onething Bookstore. As I wielded the power of my exacto-knife on cardboard boxes, I chatted with a guy named Phil in the Forerunner School of Ministry, IHOP's full-time Bible school. FSM is unique in its approach to theological training, because in addition to the classroom, IHOP requires that every student spends significant time in the prayer room, getting near to God's heart, and dialoguing with Him about the things they are learning. It's a far cry away from just devouring books and filling up a mind with knowledge. This is a heart education.

As a happy and challenged seminary student at Fuller, I was interested to hear about Phil's FSM schedule.

"How many hours to you get to spend with God in the prayer room each week?"

"Oh, anywhere from 25-30. It's amazing." He said.

"I'm jealous for that sort of education." I confessed.

Monday, December 25

Joy to the World

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Even Today We Need Him

Pope Benedict XVI's Christmas Day address is quite beautiful and resounding. Here it is translated from the Italian: Pope's 'Urbi et Orbi'.

...How can we not hear, from the very depths of this humanity, at once joyful and anguished, a heart-rending cry for help? ...Today "our Saviour is born to the world", for he knows that even today we need him.

...Who will make this message of hope resound, in a credible way, in every corner of the earth? Who will work to ensure the recognition, protection and promotion of the integral good of the human person as the condition for peace, respecting each man and every woman and their proper dignity?

...May the Divine Child, the Prince of Peace, grant an end to the outbreaks of tension that make uncertain the future of other parts of the world, in Europe and in Latin America.

and all God's people said, "oh yes!"

Saturday, December 23

I've Been Tagged By Pastor Phil!

There is a nasty game of "tag" going on through the blogosphere. I didn't get to the "safe" zone near the swings fast enough and I've been made "it." (I never was the fast one.) Pastor Phil in Salem has threatened me (with every known spiritual law) that I must post 5 things you may not know about me. Here goes.

1. Of all the fictional characters in the world, I most want to be Amelie. Because she is a mysterious do-gooder, a quirky little thing, and she has a rad haircut. If you haven't seen it, grab some brie and creme brulee, and rent it immediately. I wish you to imagine the following four things in the manner of the opening sequence. Merci.

2. Jenelle likes: Referring to herself on occasion in the third person. It makes her feel like she's narrating the movie of her life. And then she imagines what song would fit perfectly on the soundtrack.

3. Jenelle dislikes: When words are published (in paper, not blogs) with incorrect spelling or terrible grammar. It makes her crazy. (Especially because she's noticed it in 1/5 of all the Christian-published stuff she's ever read. She thinks Jesus smacks his forehead when he sees it.) She neurotically re-posts her blog-stuff on average three point two times, each time adjusting a clause, word, or thought. Her friend Jane once lamented, "Oh Nelly! What will you DO if you fall in love with a boy who can't spell?"

4. Jenelle likes: The smell of the freshly cut grass on a golf course very early in the morning. She likes to hit long tee-shots and outdrive the boys she's playing with. It doesn't matter to her that she's a naff-putter and rarely outscores them.

5. Jenelle dislikes: How often she sets herself up to be the "you're such a good listener" in conversations. Because one reason she listens so well is that she's insecure others aren't really interested in what she has to say.

And now! I am tagging Lisa (California-Africa), Barbara (Portugal/Global), Stew (Austin), and Rachel (Nashville). And I threaten them with the glare of this scary Santa.

Image from Wikepedia.

Friday, December 22

Intoxicated with the Glorious Unveiling

Frank Viola's article in The Ooze this week really stirred me today. His article is refreshingly confessional about how he's been infatuated with so many spiritual things flowing from Jesus, rather than Christ himself. It's made me reflect on how often I miss Jesus in the midst of all of the Jesus-stuff: the working for Him, the reading about Him, all of his good and crazy natural and supernatural gifts. As we count the days to Christmas, and often bemoan how the world has missed the point of the Day, I'm pointed back to my own heart and how often I miss Jesus, too.

"The Deep Ecclesiology of the Body" is excerpted from Frank's newest book, God’s Ultimate Passion: Unveiling the Purpose Behind Everything:

As I survey the landscape of modern Christianity, it seems to me that spiritual things and objects have replaced the Person of Christ. The doctrines, gifts, graces, and virtues that we so earnestly seek have substituted for Jesus Himself. We look to this gift and that gift . . . we study this truth and that truth . . . we seek to appropriate this virtue and that virtue, but all along we fail to find Him.

When the Father gives us something, it’s always His Son. When the Son gives us something, it’s always Himself. This insight greatly simplifies the Christian life. Instead of seeking many spiritual things, we only seek Him. Our single occupation is the Lord Jesus Christ. He becomes our only pursuit. We do not seek Divine things, we seek a Divine Person. We do not seek gifts, we seek the giver who embodies all the gifts. We do not seek truth, we seek the incarnation of all truth.

God has given us all spiritual things in His Son...
To put it candidly, you will never have an authentic experience of the Body of Christ unless your foundation is blindly and singularly Jesus Christ. Church life is born when a group of people are intoxicated with a glorious unveiling of their Lord. The chief task of a Christian leader, therefore, is to present a Christ to God’s people that they have never known, dreamed, or imagined...
Read the whole thing.

Old school Jesus image from the cute: Jesus of the Week site

Thursday, December 21

Euro-centric Travelista

Brian, Carla, and Phil's blogs each have lured me into doing this World 66 where-I've-been-map. (B, C, and P are all 24-7 prayer folk in Europe. When I grow up I want to be like them.) It seems that I need to visit a continent other than Europe. But, I agree with Phil, I think national boundaries are a bit blurred. In these days of the globalization of everything, what are borders anyway?

What I'd do if I had the moo:
1. Spend a long time with the Borden's and Russell's in Tanzania.
2. Ride a motorcycle around South America like Che Guevara did.
3. Make an obligatory trip to Canada via Toronto to see if the Spirit is still a flowin' there like wild.
4. Wander around Tunisia. Cause I've had crazy dreams about her.
5. Spend a lot more time in the quiet islands of Greece. Santorini, for one.
6. Hang out with Alan and Deb Hirsch's incredible community in Melbourne. (See also: The Shaping of Things to Come.)
7. Buy that old apartment in Sao Joao do Estoril Portugal as my vacation home.

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Post-its on the Side

So, I've added some interactive-ness at the end of the sidebar.

>>>Uno. Pacman. Because it was my favorite game in 1984. (You play it with your computer's arrow keys. There weren't mice around when Pacman started.)
>>>Due. Joel News Headlines (aka. Global-News-Your- Newspaper-Missed") Because God is doin' good stuff 'round the globe, and you're probably missin' it, bub.

So Rich, Am I

Here's a snappy little site that calculates how rich you are, in proportion to the rest of the world's population: Global Rich List. It's a quick glance to see how we could help others by giving, even giving just a little at a time. (For example, $73 could buy me a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.) I think it should have us American's enter not only our annual income, but also our current debt. I'm starting to feel that credit-and-loan is the most deceptive thing since that nasty little snake in the Garden. I could be giving more, but I'm mostly giving to Citibank and Salliemae. Gross.

Wednesday, December 20

Net Neutrality Nuked by The Man?

It seems inevitable. The Man's gonna nuke the neutrality of the net! (Clearly, The Man reads Time magazine and wants to make a buck.) Consider this: the internet could be one of the only "spaces" in the global economy that is an equal-playing-ground for every Voice. (And when I was a skeptical little high schooler, I said the internet was of the devil. Ha.) This flick is a cute call to action. Just under four minutes for your office coffee break. And here's a link to get the "stop it!" message quickly to your legislators: Save the Net

Tuesday, December 19

Confessions in Salem

This is a remarkably beautiful story from Pastor Phil in Salem, Mass. Especially if you've read Miller's Blue Like Jazz. Here's a quick excerpt from the post, One Big Sorry Church: It was no new idea...James was the one with the idea of trying it in Salem over the weeks of Halloween events, and I thought it would work well, but we had no idea how well. James bought a few monks robes. We had the tents and tables...We made signs, "Free Confessional Booth."

How to Spend $15 @ Borders

Today I received a $15 Christmas gift card to Borders (thanks Ernest and Tammy!). Since I only have t-minus 20 days until my next Fuller-online class, I decided I needed to make this non-academic reading purchase pronto. I brought a stack of books to my table to peruse, grabbed a cup of Seattle's (probably not the) Best decaf, and spent a half-hour choosing my pages of prey.

I was an English major in college. For the thousands I paid ( still paying) for my education, one of the nicest things I learned was how to figure out what's worth reading. You've just gotta have a plan, honey. And you gotta know how to read the reviews and skim the stuff real fast.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (Phillip Keller) $4.99
I've heard many say this little one is an overlooked classic. I wanted to read the whole thing while I was there. Borrow this from the church library, baby.

Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell) $14.99
One Velvety idea: Our relationship with God is a trampoline that we invite others to jump on. “I am far more interested in jumping than I am in arguing about whose trampoline is better. You rarely defend the things you love. You enjoy them and tell others about them and invite others to enjoy them with you.” Borrow this from a friend cause Rob Bell is so hot these days that everyone's who's feeling groovy and "emergent" has it, baby.

Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi (David Crowder) $14.99
Yes, David Crowder wrote a book. It's a reflection on the Psalms (Remixed) by Eugene Peterson, replete with zany illustrations and wild Appendices. I want to read this. But I don't need to own it. Read this while you're at Onething 2006 next week! It'll surely be in the IHOP bookstore with the cushy chairs. You can just read it in there and not buy it. Boo yah, baby.

The Story $24.99
About 380 pages of the Bible in Narrative form, with the new (and happily inclusive speaking) TNIV translation. Try to borrow this from the public library, baby.

Martin Luther King, Jr., On Leadership $4.99
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -MLK Dec 1960 Although King is phenomenal, this doesn't look like the most phenomenal book about MLK.
There's a reason why bargain books are bargain books. Find a better MLK bio at the library, baby.

To Be Told: God Invites You to Coauthor Your Future (Dan Allender, PhD) $13.99
Dan is the Christian counselor guru man. I like him. (Too bad his publishers made the sub-title of his new book so cheeseafied.) To Be Told encourages people to look at their lives as a big sloppy whole, and consider writing it all down to remember all the whacky redemption God's done. I wanna do that. And I know other people who ought to do that, too. The book was given sweet reviews by Brian McLaren, John Eldredge, and Tremper Longman, III! (I think I sat in on this Tremper's class when I was visiting Westmont College last month. He pretty much has an amazing name.) Buy this one and then pass it on, baby.

Sunday, December 17

YOU are Time's Person o' 2006

(If I had a mirror in jpeg form, I'd insert it above.)

This just in. If you're reading this, you deserve some sort of cheesy, shiny trophy. Or just take the accolade that you got the same award that Bill Gates, Bono, and "the American soldier" have toted in years past. (Or, be offended because Adolf Hitler also received the award in the '30s.) Thanks for the headline, BBC:

"You" have been named as Time magazine's Person of the Year for the growth and influence of user-generated content on the internet.

Wednesday, December 13

Jewel Cases Piled High

Since finals are over for my Fuller online course, I'm working on numbers 3, 5, and 17 of my How to Rest in America list. My latest adventure includes emptying every CD case I own, recycling the plastic cases, and making the liner notes into recycled stationary. (Coming soon to a mailbox near you.) Since the digital revolution, all of these jewel cases are just taking up space. It's time the album art gets looked at all over again, in a new way, I say. I feel like I'm living in a fifth-grade art class. And it's really great fun.

Monday, December 11

Most Vivid Dreams - Part 1

I've been having the most extensive, vivid dreams. Last night my dream was replete with Europe, my murderous spirit, show-tunes, The Last Supper, and the Postal Service. (Enjoy the trip in to my psyche. Any interpretations welcome.)

In my dream last night I was with some of my roommates from Portugal, a couple youth group kids from here in La Plata, USA, and a few other friends. We were headed on a road trip to get somewhere in Europe. I’m not sure if we'd started in Europe or in America.

On the way, we stopped to see my great uncle, because it was a good resting point on the way. In the dream uncle was an invalid, and was being taken care of by the daughter of one of his closest friends, who lived on the second floor. Uncle couldn’t talk, but he could snore really good. The lady upstairs would often yell down from her bed to hush his loud snores.

It was time for all of the road-trippers to go to bed. We were all sort of camping out in the living room, stuffed like sardines. As we were falling asleep, I was about to close my eyes, and I saw that a girl and guy were crammed on the couch sort of snuggling to sleep. I immediately remembered a prior conversation I’d had with the girl in which she bemoaned how snuggling-boy had been giving her so many confusing mixed signals about their relationship. (The majority of which signals were, “I don’t like you.”)

So, in all of my Jenelle-confontationalism, I said to snuggling-boy from my sleeping bag, “You are such an idiot. You’re just an idiot. Sometime before we leave tomorrow, I'm going to tell you why.”

Now quite annoyed, and unable to sleep, I traveled upstairs. I found a shy Dutch girl, but we couldn’t understand each other enough to speak. She was voraciously reading some novel in Dutch. Another lady from the Netherlands was there, too, and she was crazily multi-lingual. She grabbed a gigantic English/Ancient Greek dictionary, and started translating words from Ancient Greek to English to Dutch for me. Nice lady, she was.

Then Scott and Terri Last (once in Florence, now on their way to work with CAI in my Portugal) wandered in. Terri told me how she’d just spent a week at IHOP, and I flipped out telling her how I’d met with God at IHOP back in September. I was glad they were starting to settle into their new home in Portugal.

I came back downstairs to find that everyone was now awake. Apparently my you-are-an-idiot words to the boy had caused a lot of commotion. (I sort of liked that.)

To the boy I returned and (somewhat) elaborated, “You are either an idiot or just a fool. I think you’re just a foolish idiot.”

The best part was how I then recalled how Jesus said that calling someone a "fool" or "idiot" is the same as us acting in a murderous spirit. And that sobered me. (But I was too irritated to apologize to him.)

And with that, we all took off for our European adventure. We started on a riverboat cruise, in Istanbul or something, and we saw the most amazing sunset with ancient ships strewn against the horizon. I dug for my camera and tried to capture the scene. I failed. The pictures only showed a tenth of the actual view.

We wandered into a hostel and spoke to the man at the reception. There were multiple magazines in all sorts of languages on the shelf behind him. The man was Italian and spoke broken English. When I caught his eye, he grabbed one of the English magazines, came out from behind the counter and started singing a homemade show-tune! He sang acapella, and it was all about how he was going to learn English. (I was amazed at how well he stayed in tune! It was a great song, I wish I could replicate it here.)

He danced as he sang wide-eyed about how all his dreams would soon come true.

As he sang, I saw a live-music video of sorts. There was a catwalk, and a stage, and a curtain that opened. He sang about all of the places in Europe that he'd soon visit, and how his pilgrimmage would help him in his “spiritual journey." As he sang about each city's artwork, the curtain would then open and a life-sized image would float down the catwalk towards me. There were five images, and they were all various famous artistic pieces associated with Christ and the cross. The last one was “The Last Supper.” As that image came towards me, I walked into it.

All of a sudden I entered three different (somewhat hilarious) contemporary versions of the da Vinci's Last Supper. It was like I was on the front of the stage, watching as the actors rehearsed. The one I remember most had all of the disciples dressed as American fraternity boys from the 1950’s, with brightly-colored shirts and slick hair. Some had bow-ties, too. I'm pretty sure Jesus still had his white robe on, though.

When Jesus exited by stage-right, he jumped down into a super-sonic-speed ancient carriage. It was all so fast and dangerous, and I was worried that he got hurt in the jump. But then Tara (who is Young Life Europe’s Regional Administrator…Tara does everything and knows everything), quickly appeared and told me the physics of how these carriages work. And then I calmed down. Jesus would be just fine.

So I jumped into the ancient (but super-sonic-speed) carriage and ended up in Cascais, Portugal. Only it wasn’t just Cascais, but a hybrid of both glitzy Paris and flavorful Italy. I realized that I needed a break to be alone, so I started looking for a cafe to escape in. I rehearsed in my head how I’d ask the barista, “Un cappuccino, per favore” with the proper Italian accent.

But on the way to the cafe, I saw this guy, R.J. in the crowd (who stuck out only because he was about one foot taller than all of the short Southern Europeans.) (R.J. was my best friend from high school's boyfriend in the 10th grade. I haven’t seen him in 10 years.) I was so excited to see another La Platian’s face in Europe that I gave him a gigantic hug. (And proceeded to re-introduce myself to him, in case he didn’t remember me.) R.J. had on a snappy Postal Service uniform, and explained to me that he’d been working for the U.S. Postal Service in Paris, and had just gotten transferred to Cascais.

“Oh!" I said. "You’ll just love it here. I lived here for almost four years. I promise, you’ll love it. It's so beautiful and right here in Portugal.”

And then I remembered how (in real life) the day that I interviewed with the U.S. Postal Service, they told me that once I finished my Masters, I should consider working for the International division…to get a job back in Europe dealing with mail. (The End.) Image from Wikipedia

Friday, December 8

Lost in Translation

I found something zany on Sugar frosted goodness dot com. Here: Tommy Kane's Blowfish sketch. The story of his piece is priceless. It begins: I hopped off the train near the Sumo stadium in Tokyo. I wanted to draw something that was very typical looking of Japanese cities. I noticed this little restaurant. I set up shop and began to sketch. (My favorite bit of the story is the coffee part, incidentally.)

I got a kick out of this because I've been lost in translation oh so many times in Europe. Enjoy the link-n-log to the arty stuff.

Thursday, December 7

Put the Lights on the Tree

In an ongoing effort to post (almost) every day this week. Get out the Windex, Mama. I'm on a music streak.

On this 7th day of Advent, here are seven reasons why Sufjan Stevens' brand new 5-disc Christmas album should be enjoyed by you and your yuletide loved ones.

1. (A suprisingly sweet rendition of) "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
2. "It’s Christmas! Let’s Be Glad!"
3. "What Child Is This Anyway?"
4. "Come on! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance!"
5. "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!"
6. "Get Behind Me, Santa!"
7. "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserved It!)"

(And...Happy Birthday, Sarah Painter Constable! Me and baby Jesus were so glad you were born.)

Tuesday, December 5

One Thing

(I'm kicking myself a bit, because I meant to post this about a month ago. I think part of the reason I waited was because I wanted to have something uber-creative to say to introduce my Elise. But I don't. I just really want you to listen to this new song of her's. Because it's really nice. And because in it she's singing all about how I am being Martha and not Mary, at the moment. It would do me good to sit down cross-legged like a little girl and just listen to the words of Jesus.)

I met Elise in Portugal. One of my favorite and earliest memories of her was when she sat down on my bed with her guitar and told me her story. Song after song, she went through her last few teenage years. Her songs are part of her story, so when she sings them, she's offering a peek at her heart. I'm a huge fan. Not just of her songs, but mostly her heart.

Click here to stream Elise's Music

One Thing - by Elise Witek

I dig to find you
Under a pile of notes and lists
You’re working towards a goal that doesn’t exist

So here’s a trash can
Empty out your mind
Would you like to listen?
Or do you not have the time.

Cross your legs dear
Like you did as a child
Sit at my feet and know your burden is mine

One thing is needed
Preparing is only a waste
One thing is needed
It will never be taken away

You wouldn’t be busy
If you stepped away from the task
Spent time with your Daddy
To get the strength that you lack

Don’t bother setting the table
This isn’t the main course
All that’s here is worthless
So just sit here on the floor

Sunday, December 3

Waking in London

I've just spent the last few days in London with the ladies of Young Life Europe. Worshipping God alongside of them was more than refreshing, it was awakening. It almost felt like I was playing the guitar for the first time.

The best gift of the trip, though, was getting to spend these few days with my dear Jane Hasik. She journeyed out from Prague for the conference, and put together the most creative "welcome" bags you could imagine. (Sowada could make a living doing the conference hospitality circuit.) We found a curry place down the street from our hostel and pretended we were at our favorite Indian place back in Sao Joao again. Our friend Barb even found us some pasteis de natas (a.k.a. Portuguese breakfast pastries that the angels eat in heaven) at a little pastry shoppe in London. And Jane brought me one of our old Portuguese coffee mugs to make the conference coffee feel more like home. Being with Jane feels like home. London has been lovely, really. Yes, Jesus loves me.