Monday, December 06, 2004

The Bramble War

Today the kids, and our cousin Braeden helped pick black berries from Grandma's neighbor - with permission! A couple years ago, we cut back the black berry brambles – but now they’ve grown back. The war advances. We cut back, and then the vines advance.

This year I wanted to do another strategy. Cut the roots; wage the war at the foundations. The roots need to be exposed. So I find a way through the canopy of berries and brambles, and make my way down to the ground. Cutting a path as I go. There is an old truck that the black berries have covered, and so I stand on the fender.

Each of the foreboding plants starts growing from the ground somewhere. So I find myself under a canopy of these vines with their barbs. And yet there are these fountains of nutrients that spring up from the ground – the vines are anchored to the ground.

So this is where I wage war. At the foundational level – the vines.

Rather than wasting my time and resources cutting the surface, God I ask that you eliminate self from my life. From the ground up, from the source.

Hidden in the lonely place under the canopy, I wage war against myself. No one is able to see the fruits of my solo war. I come from the internal battle, and yet on the surface of the black berry bushes nothing has changed, or so it seems. 30 or more vines have been cut off.

Over the next few days others can see the difference. Wilting leaves. The invasion branches are stopped.

But it was in the internal cave of solitude that I saw the victory. The roots cut. Lord I need you to do the same in my life.

Yet I come from the battle with self with thorns in my hands, stains on my knees. Yet because of Your power, I emerge victorious.

• You are the vine – I am the branches. John 15:5

• NIV Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Journal September 5, 2001

Special thanks to Romalt Taraskevicius, M.A., for giving permission to use this picture! Copyright 2004 © All rights reserved. Check more of Romalt's fractal art work at Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Scrooge finds Christmas Spirit in Cambodia

Call me Scrooge. I've become the miserly old cynic this holiday
season. The glitter of this season is lost among my cold pessimism of
the mall's warm holiday cheer.

Still looking for the perfect gift? Bahumbug. How about gifts we can
really use and need? Where can I go to find peace on earth on sale? What store is exchanging dirty water for fresh water? Can I obtain an online coupon for a job? What about a gift certificate for a new and improved health?

What caused my skeptical transformation, you ask? I took a trip to Cambodia in 2000. My purpose was to set up a humanitarian service project for WSU & UI students. While in Cambodia, I saw how ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) was teaching the people how to become self sufficient, by giving support, skills and opportunities needed to address the challenges faced by the developing nation.

But at the stroke of midnight, I hear chains. The hunger caused by drought spooks me. The poverty I witnessed plagues me. The high unemployment rate troubles me. The rampant disease disturbs me. But why do the scenes from Cambodia haunt me during Christmas? Why should they haunt you? Perhaps it's my undigested supper.

The Cambodian countryside fades in my mind and I am transported to the local shopping mall. I witness the constant bombardment of the masses with the following holiday messages. "You need more toys!" "Sale!" "Buy me and you'll be happy!" But the idea that things can bring happiness is empty. I then see the post-Christmas blues. Lines of people with their returns and repairs are reminders that material possessions do not really satisfy.

Then in my mind I am escorted by the Spirit of God and shown that behind the bows and wrapping paper of the commercialized holiday season I see something hideous. Selfishness. "Give me, give me, give me. I want this. I want that. What will I get? Me first!" This is the attitude of our society. With this warning I awake from my materialistic slumber.

Does the Bible have any holiday gift suggestions for Scrooges like me? The first Christmas gift list included God's only Son, Jesus Christ. While we were still messy with sin, Christ died for us, to give us eternal life. (Romans 5:8) Wise Guys from the East gave extravagant gifts fit for the infant King of Kings; gold, myrrh and frankincense. (Matthew 2:11) From these extravagant gift suggestions, I am shown that
the purpose of this season is to share our abundance to give hope to others.

Here are a few Scrooge-approved holiday gift suggestions from ADRA you can give for those hard to please people on your list.
(See ADRA Cambodia's Website for more ideas)
  • A village well. The gift of fresh clean water will be enjoyed by all villagers, for years to come.
  • A rice processor. This gift will allow Cambodian villagers to mill
    their rice harvest, and also provide local jobs.
  • A concrete latrine. A cement outhouse is the perfect gift to keep
    sewage from contaminating the water table and spreading disease.
  • A community health center. Provides health care for 10,000 people.
  • A fish pond. Give a village a stocked Talipia fish pond.
  • A mango orchard. Helps the environment and provides an additional
    source of income with its fruit.
  • The ability to read. A literacy project teaches people to read.
  • A hospital bed. Hospital beds and other equipment to provide the
    needed health care.

Take the advice from this Scrooge who had to travel to Cambodia to find the holiday spirit. Share to give others hope. "God bless us everyone!"

Origally published on December 9, 2000 in the Moscow - Pullman Daily News paper

Rice field in Cambodia photo by Will Koenig

Read the Chronicles of Will's adventures in Cambodia

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Surprise! My First Tooth

Today, Josh lost his first tooth. While we were at the K-House office, I wrapped some floss around the wiggly tooth, and it popped out!

Josh's Comments:
"I can't believe it's so little! Sometimes you might get a loose tooth when you are five years old or six years old. Maybe when you are seven, eight or nine. It's very cool. But why is there blood in it? I can see blood in that tooth. How can you get it out. Can I wash it out Dad?"

What's it like to loose your first tooth?

"It's cool!"

Friday, May 14, 2004

Going on Empty

I'm late. I need to get to Othello, WA for a meeting. The fuel gage of my Honda Civic hovers above empty. 110 miles to go. Logic states that at 30 miles per gallon, and with an estimated three gallons left in the tank, I can make it. Prudence shouts to take the time to fuel up, so as not to be stranded.

I decide not to fuel up. I'm too busy to take the time to get gas. With my fuel gage near on empty, I start out. One by one the towns of the Palouse roll by: Colfax, Dusty, the turn off to Endicott and the road to Hooper. The warning light fades on and off in Washtucna, WA. I've made it this far, so I keep on going. After conquering another hill, the low fuel warning light comes on and stays on. The light means that there is enough gas to go 30 miles before running out. Anxiety seizes my heart as I imagine myself facing the consequences of my foolish choice. Going on empty can leave you stranded.

At last, I see the refreshing sight of an oasis in the desert! A truck stop. I stop and fuel up. With a full tank, I take a deep breath, and thank God that I have learned a lesson. Get gas or be stranded!

In our spiritual journey, we find myself going on empty. We are stranded on life's road by relying on our own dwindling spiritual resources. Our Gracious God offers us spiritual refueling, and gives us a console of warning lights on the dashboard. Here are two warning lights that indicate the need to stop and fill up your spiritual gas tank.

• Grinding Relationships
The friction from grinding of "relationship gears" from conflict can be great. Misunderstandings, and lack of communication, with a spouse or child, a coworker, or classmate are examples of this warning light. Ask God for the lubricant of the Holy Spirit to prevent this grinding in our human interactions. Ask someone close to you to see if your grinding gear warning lamp is on. Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

• Overheated Finances
Incurring excessive consumer debt is one way to overheat your spiritual engine. Gambling, impulse buying, or credit card debt can signal an unresolved spiritual or emotional issue. Ask for help from a Christian counselor, and a financial advisor. Make God a partner in your finances by investing 10% of your income into the spreading of the Gospel. God promises to cool overheated finances by opening the "windows of heaven" and pouring blessings upon those who return a faithful tithe. Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. New American Standard Bible

If you are experiencing grinding relationships or overheated finances, spend some time at the pump with God. Take time to fill your spirit by reading His word, the Bible. Invite His Spirit to lubricate your interactions with others. Don't get stranded in life by going on empty.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Prescription for Pride

Journal October 3, 2000

Here's a prescription for pride that God gave me during my recent visit to the soul clinic . . .

- An attitude adjustment
Why should I care? I could care less...
Why should I give a rip? Whatever!
If you’ve done it to others – then you’ve done it to God!
Matthew 25:40, 45

- A temperature adjustment
Crank it up – to Hot or Cold
Fire it up, or put it in the freezer
Revelation 3:14, 15

- Get Real!
Are you wearing the emperor’s new clothes? You may think you look good & you’re “stylin & profilin”, but you’re really buck - stark naked! Use the mirror of Scripture & schedule the Holy Spirit consultation with your conscience
Revelation 3:17

- Go shopping!
Buy the real stuff! The real thing! Accept no imitations
Revelation 3:18

- Timber! Get ready to fall
Proverbs 16:18

- The bigger they are... the harder they fall
Isaiah 2:11

Other “Big Cheeze” Heads who were popped (or will be popped soon)
- Lucifer Ezekiel 28:11-19, especially vs. 17
- Pharaoh of Egypt Exodus
- King Nebuchadnezzar Daniel 4:29-37


Journal entry March 8, 2001

You can go to California to Disney Land for vacation – The Magic Kingdom where everyone is happy, wearing colorful costumes, and masks. A place of make believe, where dreams come true.

Dogs & cats get along. Mice play with cats. Working girls become ball room beauties. Seven dwarves get along & live in one house. Yeah right. Ever look in at a frat house?

But do we have to live in Disney Land? It’s a nice place to visit, but do I have to live there? It's shallow. It’s hollow. Facades on the buildings, smiles are mandatory. In the real world, when we see a mouse running around – people shriek. Sorry to pop your bubble but Disney Land is fake.

I don’t want to discount Walt Disney’s dream of a happy place to escape. But this is not the real world - can we be real?

Church. Many say “It’s not relevant. It’s for the weak. It’s for the uneducated.” Yet to the thinking people I share my dream with you.

Church – a safe place. Together we can be happy, in good times, and then when life happens, we stand together united to support each other when we fall.

Cotton candy is a nice treat – but you eat an entire kettle full & are you satisfied? More like you have sticky fingers & are sick with a stomach ache. Cotton candy faith – light & fluffy.

John 10:10b
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

2 Timothy 3:1-5
Those how have the Christ follower label, but don’t access His life changing power.

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

If you are tired of cotton candy faith & a Disney Land church experience – Try a real place.

A place where grace is demonstrated
A place where forgiveness can be seen
A place where you belong.
A place where you are accepted.
A place where you are supported when you’re down
A place that parties with you when you have excelled