Loving Your Enemies

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I think it’s very counter-cultural to think of loving your enemies, showing kindness to those who don’t reciprocate your love. But many of our great peace leaders practiced non-violence.

Ghandi lead this revolution of passive resistance while he was being oppressed. And there was a lot of suffering during the civil rights movement, people died and burned and were hated and oppressed. But Martin Luther King Jr. used the sword of his mouth, used his words and love to go against his enemies. He didn’t take up arms against them.

And this is so hard, I have a warrior spirit, a Viking spirit, I want to bring up the old football player inside me when people cut me off in traffic, or cut in line. I hate it when people cut in line at the border, or take waves they’re not supposed to and didn’t wait their turn. I get really upset and I think most people would. But the divine dying to self that Jesus demonstrates, brought salvation to the world. He came and lives and died and served those who didn’t love him and changed their hearts. He gave to those who were hard-hearted and angry over and over again and melted them with his love.

We want justice to happen on a personal scale, a global scale, or even just for our kids. We’re a culture full of suing and fighting. But imagine how we could change the world, the atmosphere of the world, if we tried to live out and speak out and have our attitudes change in light of this proverb. We’d be like a beautiful garden that would spread flowers and seeds wherever we went. The world becomes harder and harder and more fearful and more might makes right every day. But our culture is crying out for this, that love and dying to the self can win. It might not win right away, right in front of us, but long-term it wins.

In Les Misérables, in the story of Jean Valjean, there’s this moment where he’s released from prison and he’s poor. This Bishop takes him in named Myriel and the bishop is really kind to Valjean. At night, Valjean takes all this nice, valuable stuff from his house. He leaves and steals from him. The next day, the police find Valjean and take him back to Myriel and ask the bishop if this man stole from him. Jean Valjean’s fate in his hands and the bishop says no, it was a gift, I gave it to him. By that supernatural giving to his enemy, Myriel changed Jean Valjean’s life and Valjean changed many, many people’s lives as a result.

In the right setting, if angry people get kindness from certain people throughout life it can change their stony heart. It happens very mysteriously and secretively. On a personal level, wherever we go, if we can err with patience and kindness and overtly giving gifts to people who seem to be our enemies, God will honor and reward that. From a horizontal, epistemological, empirical perspective where we know things through our senses, it doesn’t seem like it. That’s where we need to trust the divine hand. God will see it and reward it. Imagine if every time we said or thought or did something wrong, we got justice or we got in trouble. We’d all be prison! We’d have a million speeding tickets and a million people that want to fight us. We’re very quick to forget how nasty we’ve been. I say this to myself, too, don’t try to vet out our personal justice and err on the side of kindness and service to others.

Lastly, not that the orphans or the poor are our enemies, but do stuff for those whom you won’t get anything back from in return. We don’t get much back from ministering to poor children in a different culture over and over again. But I have to believe that by fulfilling this proverb, we’re changing the world.

Reflections on Proverbs 25:27

I’ve been reticent to promote myself or promote our organization like I ought to on social media platforms and even sometimes through speaking engagements because I’ve felt that it’s egocentric or narcissistic.  I think this proverb written thousands of years ago in the Hebrew Old Testament is very counter-cultural to our present culture of self-promotion. A majority of people have Instagram and Facebook and they have their own opinions and we have Yelp, etc. Everything’s based off on approval ratings and what “I” think. And I think that there’s a fuzzy line where our ego and our self can become the center of the universe. We can think so highly of our opinions and ourselves and get stuck on our own glory that we think this is the way reality ought to be when it’s far more beautiful, far more powerful when somebody else praises you rather then you promoting yourself.
 
There’s been multiple times where I’ve done something small like picked up after my roommates or cleaned their dish or took out the trash. Later, somebody else will ask, who did the dishes? Or who picked up the trash? And nobody knows who it was and I want to say it was me, rather than not needing the credit.
 
Why do I need their acknowledgment that I did it? Why? Because I want to glorify myself. There’s a part of my heart that wants to get glory. I want to be the star, I want to be the superhero. I think it takes a dying to self on multiple spheres of life to be dependent on God raising you up through other people. If somebody’s kind, they don’t have to say they’re kind, people just know it. If you’re generous, you don’t need to say you’re generous. This proverb when it talks about seeking your own glory, there’s something very ugly about it and that’s why I’ve been reticent to promote us and promote myself.
 
But I’m very glad that Shannon Fox has come on with Minute Marketing because I feel like it’s less personal when I promote my thoughts or Unity 4 Orphans. She’s doing it from her perspective and it just feels right and it’s been blessed I think.
 
But I do prophetically want to ask you to look deep into your soul and analyze if there’s a spirit of self-promotion or glorification of self or other people rather than God or the oppressed. And see it for the ugliness it is. But at the same time, Jesus says to be as wise as a serpent, innocent as a dove, and to be shrewd about how to make money. I’m trying to learn and trust our board and my friends that are business people that we do need to promote ourselves and brand ourselves and our business. Because if we don’t promote our business, not as many people have the opportunity to hear about what we do. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? Of course it exists, but nobody hears it or sees it. If we don’t promote our business on all the different marketing platforms then not as many people have the opportunity to hear about our mission.
 
There’s this tension of not letting self-glory drip out, ooze out, in a bunch of different areas, personally and professionally. But at the same time, if you’re trying to grow your business or your sphere of influence, there is an element of faith where you need to step out and say, this is what I think and this is who I am. In the past, I have in my brokenness and pain not wanted to promote what we’re doing with Unity 4 Orphans, but now we’re stepping into a new season and I’m going to try and adopt the various business marketing techniques of promoting your business, of having a blog and letting my voice be heard and seeing what happens. But as I do this, I want you to know that I don’t want to glorify myself, I want to glorify Jesus and God and lift up the vulnerable poor that my team is trying to help.

Don Verdean Movie Review

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Overall Rating:

4/5 Stars

What’s It About:

A self-professed biblical archaeologist who has fallen on hard times starts to bend the truth in order to continue inspiring the faithful.

Genre:

Quasi Mockumentary

Actors:

Sam Rockwell
Amy Ryan
Sam Forte
Danny McBride
Jemaine Clement
Rating By Category: 

My Thoughts:

I watched this because I recognized the actors and it’s a spoof focus of people being self-proclaimed experts on the “holy land” but being from USA and getting large crowds to listen to them after they discovered things no one had before.  This semi-sad, but humorous story takes us on the downward spiral of a good-hearted man who wants to lead people to God, but compromises a little here and there until those little twists and turns become avenues and realms he never wanted to go down or visit. It also explores what he ultimately does when he finds himself in those hard situations.

The film does a painfully excellent job of poking fun at backwards fundamental christians who feel like the culture is winning over christianity and the lengths they will go to to fight this movement towards God apathy.

There’s a bit of violence, but overall it’s a pretty family-friendly film.

Living as Jesus Lived

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Jesus, who is eternal God, stepped down and into earth to become man to give us rich, abundant life. He gave up much of his power, glory, and rights to empower others. Why should we not do the same?

Unity 4 Orphans provides a platform, a sphere, a methodology for anyone to experience this type of “dying of the self so that others can live”. When you come on a trip, you give up your riches and comforts of life in America to step into the world of these orphans and vulnerable children, to experience life as they do. Join us: https://unity4orphans.com/trips/

Nicaragua in the News

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Nicaragua has been in the news a lot lately and I am praying there will be a peaceful end to the turmoil. The protests were sparked when the government proposed changes to the social security system. According to an article from CNN, “The changes would increase contributions into the social security system by workers and employers but reduce the amount retired workers will get as a pension.”

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Some of you may not know that Unity 4 Orphans also supports vulnerable children in Nicaragua. I actually have a trip to Nicaragua planned for June and am hoping I’ll still be able to go.

One group of children we support is in the capital city of Managua, where many of the protests have been. We work with a church down there that is a sort of multi-service center. They do a feeding program twice a week for 30-40 kids, hold church services, and also run an ESL program. Their ESL program has been going on for a year and they have a group of small, but dedicated kids who come regularly.

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The other group we support is in Miramar, which is a coastal town about an hour and half from Managua. No one from the outside has really invested in this community before and the kids are hungry to learn. Sixty kids have been showing up consistently each Sunday to learn English. Many of these kids have big dreams: they want to be doctors, engineers, accountants. But most of all, they want to help their families. These vulnerable children live in a very poor community where there’s no money for school or books.

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We are hoping to be able to expand the resources of both programs so that they can get more kids learning English, but we need your help to do it! Your donations to Education 4 Change will go directly back to purchasing materials and paying teachers so that the kiddos who want to learn can have a chance to do so. You can make a donation here.

A Weekend With the Surf Church in Baja Mexico

Last weekend I was fortunate to travel down to Baja Mexico with members of the Surf Church at La Jolla Christian Fellowship. We spent an epic weekend surfing and bonding before visiting a local orphanage. We loved on the kids and showed them the film, Walking on Water, which was translated into Spanish. Really cool to share that with them. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s a Christian surf documentary which features several pro surfers.

 

This was also a vision trip for what could be. I hope to do some trips in the future where we bring people down to surf and then do good at the same time by visiting local orphanages and communities. Like an overnight version of the trips we currently do at Unity 4 Orphans with some surfing mixed in. If this were to get off the ground, would you have an interest in participating?