Saturday, January 28, 2006


Got home today was greeted by friends and family.
A great day.

The plane flight was awesome. Man the folks at Korea Air, they are awesome. They are very attentive. One flight attendant walked Nathan around while I was packing up. Nathan has a high attachment effect going on right now. So, I cannot set him down without him crying.

He feels abandoned by his foster mother, care giver, and I am the only face that seems normal. My wife tells me I smell Korean. There is an Asian smell that you get. So, we will be sleeping with him in the bed for a few nights.

Last night he did well in the guesthouse. Linda, a Norweigian Adoptive mother, got her child last night. Her mother got us pizza last night. Korean pizza note...they serve sweet pickles on the side and corn on the top. Linda also allowed me to get a shower. I really needed that. I was wearing clothes for the third day. Underwear new. I packed enough underwear.

So, thanks for the prayers and sharing the adventure. Now the real adventure.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Nathan was released

Nathan was released from the hospital at noon today.
So, we are likely to come home on Saturday.
This will most likely be my last post.
I am craving a hamburger with mustard. Today, the korean food texture and taste was upsetting my stomach. Red Bean Paste tasted good yesterday, not today.


Dong Dae Mun

Dong Dae Mun market is incredible.
It is 30,000 shops that sell clothes. I hate stuff like this, but I was impressed by the sheer volume of people. Malls upon malls of stalls 15 x 5 stalls filled with clothes. Amazing.

Also, a plastic surgery clinic. Koreans are getting plastic surgery to round out the eyes from what I here. I see many round eyes, but I am not sure if that is plastic surgery or genetics.

Pretty cool place. My pick up was at the baseball stadium. Korean Soccer Team jersies. J.S. Park #7. No. 1 Korean soccer star.


Saved by the Jehovah's Witness

Last night as I was going to Dong dae mun market. I lost my subway ticket. It is 9000 won, 90 cents roughly. Realizing that I am without a ticket, i figure I will just follow somebody out, get real close in the turnstile. I have seen Koreans do this, so i was just planning on dealing with the problem that way or hop the stile. Unfortunately, they have guards at this exit to Dongdaemun. I tell the guard what is wrong. Meaning, I am talking to a wall, because she has no clue what I am saying. she points me down another passageway. She thought I wanted a transfer. I am screwed.

Then comes a woman, "Can I share something with you?"
In her hand was a Watchtower. I know the drill.

"Yes, you can, but I need some help. I lost my ticket and I need to get out of here. Can you help me. I will gladly listen to whatever you want to tell me, but I need help first."


She walk over to the guard and the guard says, "Nay" meaning yes. She pushes a button and lets me through. I could have bolted right there, but I honored my side of the bargain took the Watchtower and then told her. "Your effort to help me was a greater witness to your faith than these words." I probably should have not given her that coaching, but it is the truth.

So, for once in my life having a JW intrude into my daily life saved me. Whole incident makes me a little more appreciative of those folks. Funny thing, the cover article is on angels. I wanted to tell her that I thought God used her as an angel, but she may have been repulsed by such a notion. I know she was heaven sent


Two other culinary notes

Saw another corndog configuration last night. They take a sausage/weiner and then dip in batter then roll the concotion in french fries and then deep fry. The only thing keeping these folks from falling over with clogged arteries is Kimchi

Incredible bakeries here. Imagine that. I mean exceptional pastry and sandwiches. There is a bakery in the Seoul Station, Paris Baquette. Man, it is awesome. great stuff. I do not know if I have seen a better bakery in all my travels.

Koreans do not drink much water or fluid. Small cups. The notion of 2 liters or a gallon of water a day is foreign concept. I as an American think they will most likely die of kidney failure.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The pope says no more limbo, I disagree

I am not sure when I get to leave.
The problems with my son, may last for a few more days. No one is sure right now. So, it could be next Tuesday.
It could be this Saturday.
It could be next Thursday.
So, I sit and wait for the time to come with news. I see him for about an hour a day. I am heading there after I push publish. I plan on bringing him a new toy. A teething toy. He has three teeth and is chewing up a storm.


sorry for the rudimentary sentences

This blog is just a stream of consciousness right now. I am publishing my thoughts, before I lose them. So, the sentence structure sucks. Forgive me.


A Korean hospital

Here is what this Korean children's hospital looks like.
It is a university hospital and I think it is geared to lower income folks. I don't think the wealthy bring their children here. So, there are levels of care, I am sure in Korea.

Here is what I see.

The room where Nathan receives care is a ward room. There are six beds in the room. In America, mostly the parents sit in a chair by the bed. In Korea, the mothers are all in the beds with the children. Which my first reaction is "What the hell is going on?" It looks rather sloppy to me, but that is Korean culture of closeness.

I am beginning to see an alternative to American individualism, it is a sense of community found in Korea. Folks eat together, drink together, and families sleep together. There is a closeness between people.

All the children have IV's. It might just be the room. However, Children will ride the IV stands down the hall. Mom, Dad or a nurse will pull them out. Some will get slung really fast for a "whee effect"

Each bed has a refrigirator for the families to put food.

It is an interesting place, because I think private room would be best...I think Koreans may think communal room is better than the best.

More that I travel, the more that I understand that I am American. In Haiti, I learned that I am willing to trust the democratic process no matter what. In Haiti that is not an option or a desire. Here I am learning that I am part of the American melting pot, I love diversity. I love being influenced by my son's native culture. However, that culture does not see a great need to be open to an exchange to make such an encounter happen.


A trip to Eastern Social Welfare Society

I typed this entry yesterday and I deleted it by accident.
Can't read the instructions in Korean very well.


Yesterday, I went to Eastern Social Welfare Society in Seoul. Located near Holt. Amy and I adopted our first son through Eastern when we lived in KC. We planned on using them again, but there were series of unfortunate events.

I arrived at Eastern on time and was promptly escorted upstairs to meet the director. I am in my heavy coat and business casual. Most days, I would feel at home in the States. The Director meets me and he is a very welcoming gentleman. He is very traditional in Korean customs, bowing to me when I compliment. He offers me some gifts, a book, calendar, and CD. Also an umbrella in case it snows. I have no gifts to bring which I had planned on bring, but I gave them all out. Now, I just have women's gifts. I offer pictures of my son as my gift. Not a great gift, but it is all I got. He enjoys the picture and gives it back to me.

Now, I want to share with you how Koreans interact. The interactions are face to face. My house has a small table. We will sit around the table with a person on each side. Koreans are side by side and face to face. Meaning two on one side of the table and two on the other. In restaurants this is the predominat layout of tables. Even in coffee shops, they have over stuffed couches facing each other. Picture forthcoming.

So, the director and I are facing each other in larged overstuffed chairs. They look something that you might see in Art Noveau. Low back, but very full. There is a coffee table with glass and a piece of green felt between the table and the glass. This is pretty common. At least to have a 1/4 inch piece of glass on a coffee table.

We exchange pleasantries, but everything seems forced. He is not much of a conversationalist. So, I decide that I will allow silence. Sort of like Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. His secretary offers me a drink, meaning I am to accept a drink. So, the director and I share tea. The meeting will last as long as there is tea in his cup. He drinks rather briskly. to move me out of the room. Then I am escorted to meet Dr. Kim, the founder of Eastern.

Dr. Kim is a gracious gentlemen who began Eastern upon his retirement. Dr. Kim is now 91 years old. He has prayed for every child who leaves Eastern for placement. Eastern began as an orphanage for children, but has expanded to do much social work. Handicapped children, physical therapy for folks, unwed mothers, etc. Interesting aspect is that Dr. Kim has had a chapel built at the unwed mother's home to keep the mother's who are deeply ashamed reminded that they are loved in the eyes of God. Great witness. Amazing fellow who had a large vision and lived it out. I show him the pictures of my son and he delights in them. I tell him that Samuel is very smart and does well at school. He nods approvingly. At 91, he is still passionate about what Eastern does. It was very cool to be in his presence.

The Eastern facilites are very clean. Immaculate. The nursery is cleaner than an American hospital and this is the place my son began his life. I see the places he journeyed to for his chekcups and I meet the caseworker for him. She is in the pictures of Samuel's departure.

In the midst of this time at Eastern, there are fewer empty spots in my knowing of my son's early days. That is good.


Reflections on the Korean National Museum

Man, this is a first rate museum.
It is beautiful, elegant bold and just plain well done.
It is newer than Greece's Archaeological museum, but it outshines the Greek museum by a long's way. I think only the Kimball or the Guggenheim is a more beautiful structure.

Museum note. Every museum has a message in what they are trying to convey. especially a National Museum. What is Korea trying to say about itself. This building by its quality and its collection is saying, "Korean culture is a world class culture."

there were tons of kids and parents in the museum. The parents were talking with the kids, explaining what this artifact meant. You could tell by the conversation.

They began with prehistoric artifacts and they showed how Korean culture was like any other culture in the world. Then they did a great job of showing the evolution and progression of the Korean people. The National Treasure distinction was put on the highest of quality artifacts. However, there are national treasure artifacts outside of the museum. Naedaemun gate for one. Picture forthcoming.

The gold work of the Shilla crowns, i found much more beautiful and intricate than greek or roman crowns. picture forthcoming

Then there was a cool coffin, that was two large clay pots. One larger than the other where you can slide the larger over the smaller. It is rather unimpressive aesthetically. It looks like a large dog dropping or a beetle of some sort. However, very cool in that coffin, sarcophagus, mummy type of way.

The painting showed a great deal of character. I had this vision of rather non engaging painting, but there was great brushwork in the portraits and landscapes.

Then there was a discussion on Hangul, the Korean Alphabet. The alphabet is 600 years old and was created by a Joeson King who wanted to provide a way for his people to communicate, beause Chinese calligraphy was too hard. So, it was very democratic of him and probably wanted to loosen Chinese influence on Korea. Koreans believe that the Hangul is the most efficient way of communicating. They show how to spell Seoul, it takes 13 pushes on a cell phone in English. In Hangul...8. Korean efficiency. They believe this is a treasure.

My question is why is the language on 600 years old, does this not go against the notion of a developed culture?

They then show how they had the first moveable metal type. This still blows my mind and does transform the way I view the world. Sorry Guttenburg, you might have not been first. However, who in the world is to say old Gutten burg was not. Is not History not written by the victors and are the facts I grew up with anymore facts.

Exactly what the museum is trying to do, reorder thinking and guide their people in Koreancentric thinking. This museum is a wonderful vessel for that.

But, they also do honor those folks who gave back artifacts taht left Korea. Either during the Japanese occupation or Chinese. I think they know that Korea cannot be a hermit Kingdom and they are trying to reshape that notion. They show how Korea influenced Chinese and Japanese cutlure. They also give a nod that they were influenced by these cultures. They had to be, because Buddhism and Confucianism are large parts of the identity of Korea.

Awesome plae and I highly recommend the place. BTW, it cost 2000 won. 2 dollars. The Met is over 15 dollars aperson. Increidble Bargain, especially on a cold day.


Korean Corndogs

Korean Corndogs are not breaded with cornmeal or if it is, white cornmeal. The truly disgusting part is that they mix the three primary colors of condiments on the corndog. They mix ketchup, mustard, and mayo. Alright. The mayo on a hot dog is disgusting. However, youare not mix all the condiments together.
Mayo and Catsup-Thousand Island Dressing base
Mayo and Mustard-Dijonaise
Mustard and Ketchup-standard on burgers.
You don't put all three togther, you get brown.

Second note on Korean street vendor food which is found a plenty on any major thoroughfare.
Last night, I thought was getting a egg and spring onion pancake. Wound up being a sweet piece of Pita Bread.
The proper ettiquette is to eat at the counter where you ordered. So, you are not supposed to walk away and carry your food. Also, they have this salty broth that you use as a chaser to your meal. It is alright, but not all to appetizing. So, last night I was given proper ettiquette.
1.) Don't eat with your fingers. Put the Pita in a Dixie cup, sqash the cup and eat.
2.) Eat at the counter.
I am sure the owner of the stall laughed all night long.

Third note, I got home late at night, so I decided to go to a place called Jurassic Chicken and Beer. Beer and Fried Chicken has never been in my thought realm. I just don't eat fried chicken and think...hmm a beer would be good. So, I went out to this neighborhood restaurant. For 5000 won, I get a whole chicken, cut like I have no idea. Now, I am going to pick this up and eat with my hands....I was promptly given two forks. No chopsticks in this place. I work on the chicken for awhile with both forks. Then decide to look around the room of five tables and see what everybody else is doing. Eating with their hands. As I leave, the owner of the store sees my skilift tickets. She asks what they are in Korean. I motion and say, "Ski" For some reason this fascinated the woman, and she promptly asked me to sit down. "Coffee?" she asked.
"OK" this is the proper response to when somebody offers you a gift. No, humility.
(During Epiphany, I had a line in my liturgy that read, "You accepted gifts from three wise men from the east even though you were of God." A great lesson for me and a reminder that liturgy can teach us some things.)
Then, she offers me this candy. She opens up a box. I think it was a caramel that had been given a milk infusion and made hard. Like a real hard taffy. It was brown and my first thought was not too bad, not too great. My second thought, "Last time, I ate some thing like this it was Mexian Candy. I spent the night with my head in the toilet from food poisoning. Who is going to give me a shot in the butt in Korea and heck food poisoning would probably put me in the hospital for a month with their hyper aggressive approach......Yum. Yum this is good."
So, if you are in Haepjong...Jurassic Chicken and ski jacket will make you a king.

Fouth culinary note.
Dunkin Donuts. Way different from the US. The donuts are in the trays, but the customer goes and picks them out. The Koreans will spend 5000 won and get a half dozen donuts and a coffee. The interesting varieties are as follows. A spicy donut. Man, these people got some problem with the spicy food. A red bean bismark. Then a dunkin stick that has rye bread. I got the Red Bean Bismark and the Rye Bread Stick. I took off the lid to the coffee and dunked my donut. My grandfather taught me that you are supposed to dunk the donut. Hence the name of the store. This got some looks as well.

Enough food talk.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

trek up nam san and the greater view in to Korean culture

There is a mountain in the middle of Seoul with a large tower, I think it is Seoul Tower. I passed Seoul City Tower on the way up. Walking up this his is a daily exercise for many Seoul folk. It is a hike, but offers great views of the city.Using the Lonely Planet as my guide, I set out to go up the hill and get some exercise.When I get home, I will show pictures.Let me get my thoughts down now.As I am hiking up the mountain, mountain is a proper definition, I come to an area off the path where the city has placed exercise equipment. There are ellipitical like machines, bench press, and even one of the contraptions that you can hang upside down. I try a few, but not the upside down thing. The notion of being injured and having some of the Dragon gang rough me up while I am defenseless is not appealing. Also being 6 foot two inches...I am not sure that I would not wind up hitting my head and getting a concussion.Laying before me is the mountain and stairs. More stairs and then a park. In this park is a statue and a memorial museum. The two heroes enshrined have this in common. They are anti-west. Patriot Ahn assasinated Emperor Ito in 1904. Today we would call that an act of terrorism. However, in Korea it is one of the more heroic acts of modern Korea. Ahn killed Ito to free his country from Japanese oppression. Ahn's plan did not work, but still in the mind of Korea on of the most famous mountains is this shrine at the base. Now, this shrine opened up Korean thought to me. Many years before the assisnation, Ahn stated to his French priest after the Archbishop blocked some of his social work that he found the thought of Catholicism correct. However, he was not going to learn another language, because he found that by learning another language he would soon be enslaved by the native speakers. There may be some truth to that notion. Continuing, he dreamed of a day when the world would come to Korea to learn Korean.As I am having difficulty learning the language, I am beginning to understand why. There is a predisposition in the story of the people that to learn a foreign language is to be enslaved by it. In our global world where the world needs Korean semiconducters for computers and cell phones how does that play out? Who are the key leaders in a Korean company? The one's who speak Chinese and English or the one's who know only Korean?Key thing is that once, I am beginning to feel the force of what it means to be Korean. My vision of a Korean is Chan Ho Park the pouting ball player. The Korean hostage crying like a baby not to be killed. However, as I stand here in Seoul I feel the power of this Homogenized culture. This is like being in Western Kansas, lily white. Instead, is saffron yellow. Is this something to celebrate? I am not sure, how about you?joy,Guido

Sunday, January 22, 2006

tough day

Met my son this morning.
He is a cute kid, very serious.
His foster mother is a Presybterian and has been praying for our family. SHe was delighted to find out that I was a minister.
Unfortunately, my son has a severe cold. We took him to a clinic today and they put him in the hospital for treatment. Korean's are very aggressive in their treatment. So, I was told that I would have to wait to take him home.
Man that was problematic. I am ready to get home. I am ready for us to start our life together.
So, I have to wait. My wife back home has to wait. My son at home has to wait. The foster mother who saw her work as finished has to spend more days caring for my son in the hospital.
So, I get to see more of Korea and I guess that is what I need to do.
So, I am going to leave this computer keyboard and see some more of Korea.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday's Adventure

Went to get a breakfast at a convience store. Got a Danish and Coca cola light.

Got up this morning and decided to watch Korean children's TV thinking that watchingKorean children's TV would help me learn the language quicker.

(This is not a lie)
Now, they had a puppet show of a family in a traditional village in the past. The story line as I could tell was that there was a girl who had a problem with beinga little gassy. In fact when she passed gas the wind would blow, knock people downand crack KimChi/gimchi pots and even through somebody up on the roof. She wouldturn her backside to the camera and then by the magic of digital effects she wouldbreak wind. She was distressed and her grandmother came to help her.

I don't know what happened because Pastor Lee and Mr. Kim showed up.They met me both in suits and ties. I did not have a suit or tie. I was in businesscasual. Yes, we Americans are slobs to the rest of the world. I had this experiencein Haiti as well. Then we went to Yoido Full Gospel Church. The largest churchin the world, 700,000 folk. We entered into the parking garage. I then learnedthat the five level parking garage was just for the staff and pastors. The churchhas buses to bring people in. It was pretty incredible just by size. It was notthe prettiest church in the world, but it was three times larger than any megachurch sanctuary that I have been in. Also Cho, the founding pastor, established the churchin a field Yoido and now it is filled with skyscrapers and the south side of the river Han is the glitzy side. We then saw the parliament building which was fairly large building and very impressive.

Then we went to eat lunch and let's say that I was pretty foolish looking with the Korean chopsticks. They are metal and flat. Chinese and Vietnamese are rectangleand plastic. I tried to keep going and made it through a meal of Bulgogi, KoreanBar B Q.

We then went to one of the palaces in the City. Gyeonguk. It is like the ForbiddenCity in Beijing. Perhaps a little smaller. There is a progression through the palace to get to the King. Kim and Pastor Lee did not talk much of the concubinesand eunuchs. They then paid for me to dress up in King's Hanbok, it was force. So I made lots of friends with Indian, Taiwanese, folks who dressed up as well. It was humorous and good fun.Then we went to the Korean Folklife Museum. It was a very nice museum and they rented a headset for me so I could listen to the exhibits. Interesting thing isthat Korea says it was the first country to woodblock printing and had metal moveabletype printing two hundred years before Guttenberg. Aside on this point. The Chinese say they were the first to find America and they did it with a much larger fleetthan Columbus. They did it peacefully, yada yada. So what is actual fact. Did Guttenberg make the first movable type or the buddhist in Korea. Did Columbus findthe new world or a chinese eunuch? There is a thesis statement there, but I am not going to be quiet right now.

I found in Korean Folklife museum a rich tradition. I found the museum better than the Haitian museum and better than theGreek Antiquities museum. it was really well done. Then we saw a Korean dance program at the museum.

We then came back to the guest house and had dinner. We had seafood and they askedme if I liked it spicy. I said, "I'm from Texas, we eat hot food." So,Pastor Lee told the waitress make it spicy. they had some conversation that seemedto go, "If you want it hot...I will make sure you know it is hot." The fish and beansprout dish glowed as it came out. It was Red. I mean like it waslike looking down on Arrowhead stadium on Sunday afternoon. It was hot. So, I ate and it was warm. Nose started running. Mr. Kim was crying uncle and PastorLee glistened with sweat. I asked, "It it hot enough for you, Pastor Lee"He responded, "Maybe you are better with spicy food than me." We ate on the floor, traditional korean style.

Now, I will have folks be here in 11:00 AM. Then I will preach twice tomorrow. The church is 30,000 people and the service I preach in will be 500 people. I will talk with a newspaper. I found out that Pastor Park, the Korean pastor of the churchthat we host at Western Heights, used to be a member of this church.


rough night last night

I got in yesterday and the move through the airport customs was smooth. Very smooth. It was the quickest move through customs. However, I came to the quick conclusion that I was at a disadvantage. I hopped off the plane and the arrival baggage boardwas all in Korean. So, I had to use the only thing that up there I knew, arabic numerals. Found the flight number and headed to the baggage carousel. That is pretty much life her right now. everything is Korean and the Hangul alphabet is not easily translated for somebody who has not studied.

I got my cab back to guest house and the cab driver let me use his phone to makemy phone call. that was good and very friendly. However, he knew no English. So, he was not able to tell me much about where I was going. The security guard speaks no English, Holt was correct there. So, I decided to go out and find a place to eat. Tons of places around here, but it is very intimidating to me. Many of the places the meals are upon the floor,shoes left at the door, and no menus. I could not find the restaurant they recommended on a sheet. It was a beef Korean restaurant. So, I found a pork Korean restaurant...therewas a pig on the sign. So, I went in. The owner said, he spoke no English. So,I tried to find another place, but gave up. I wound up going to a gas station getting a powerade and coming home to eat a couple of power bars. Watched martha stewart apprentice on Armed Forces Network and went to bed.

Got up at 200 AM wide awake. Watched Keith Oblerman and Donny Deutsch, not great, but it was in English. Went back to bed and woke up to darkness at 7:00. The sun does notrise until 7:43. So, I decided to type an e-mail, get a shower, and try to findsomething to eat for breakfast....what the heck do Koreans eat for breakfast. There are two hotels that I might try. I will be carrying my phrase book.


Blogging on Korean template

I made it.
I saw Alaska and Russia on the trip over. That was cool
Ride was the most pleasant ride I ever had.
I read 1776...thanks whoever got that for me on Christmas.
I am tired.
Get a bite to eat
And then crash.
I should have watched Lost in Translation before I got here.
Nobody else in the guest house with me.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

off to korea

I am off to Korea to bring back my son.
I will be preaching at a Full Gospel church while over there.
Great story on how that happened. it is just a reminder that I am part of a larger community called, Church.

Stay well, keep in touch, and find yourself in God's Good Grace,

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

bloggin on an IBM selectric

Man there are days when i exclaim, "The world was a better place when all we had was IBM Selectrics." Those are typewriters.
My motherboard crashed on my laptop today and this is my computer that was a problem child. Man, it really sucks. So, now I am without laptop. Don't know if I will replace and I am two steps from Mac-ing out.
Maybe I can pick one up in Seoul????


Monday, January 16, 2006

one phone call changes a life

My wife and I have been in the process of adopting a child from Korea. We did this six and half years ago when we adopted our first son. The second process has been quite different than the first, because we have done it before and there is this six year old to take away the stress of the days of waiting.

So this time, we knew the process would happen when it would happen so we did not get stressed. We knew two bueracracies had to work and that we would not have to grease the palms of any of the government folks.

So, we got the phone call last Friday that it was time to travel. I had made plans to go to a church transformation workshop, go to a ecumenical gathering in DC, and do Minister's Week at TCU. Life was planned and it was going to be a good time. Then a phone call came and all that I planned was shot to hell. Life had changed.

Now, I am going to Korea to pick up my son. It is a frightening and noble task. There is a sense of honor, "I am going to Korea to pick up my son." I will meet his foster mother who has cared for him for the last five plus months. I look forward to meeting her. I get to walk around Seoul and get a better understanding of Korean culture. I can share that with my sons.

So, I am Seoul bound as of Thursday morning.


Friday, January 13, 2006

The two prophets and a redefining temple

John in Chapter 11 is given a measuring rod to measure the temple and that is all said. No measurements given of the temple.
The point is that when I measure something, it is now being transformed and made even though it is only measured. When the surveyor comes to the house and surveys our lot, it is now sealed as our lot.
The same is true with the temple. Though the temple was not the literal temple in Jerusalem, it was the community of believers. We already know that the church is not a building, but a people. The temple of God is not a building, but a people as well. "Measure those folks and mark them as mine," God says.

Second, the greater part of chapter 11 are two prophets who are martyred.

the prophets speak about a need of repentance. People don't want to hear repentance mostly. It does not sell very well. They prophesy and they are killed. Then they are raised from the dead, not resurrected. More like Lazarus in the Gospel of John, out of the tomb. They die and come back to life to go up to heaven then the second woe comes.

Alright what does this mean?
Are there places in scripture where God sends two prophets to do his work? Usually, one prophet stands up to many of the false prophets. Even Elijah and Elisha had very little overlap.

These two prophets have different manners in communicating the message.
Like "Oh God" and "Oh God 2"...that is a really bogus analogy, scratch that.
Morel like Malcolm X and MLK who spoke of equality between the races.
Like Malcolm and Martin, the world kills them.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

sweet and sour scroll with a side of fried won ton.

Let me tell you one thing that really gripes me is when Christians will use scriptures in a way where the scripture never causes the one quoting or using it to be self reflective. The scripture's light of judgment always falls on others but not them. That is a total BS way of engaging scripture. There is some song from the 90's by a one hit wonder alternative band that goes, "We bow do a God that always seems to look like me."
Scripture must mold one's thoughts not always confirm them.

So, in Rev 10 there is this scroll that John eats. I know we were told in school not to eat paper very bad habit. However, there are booming voices making John do what he was taught in school not to do.

The scroll is described in 10:10, "I took the little scroll and from the angel and I ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter."

I recall in my seminary days, I would listen to Fred Craddock and I would think, "Go get them Fred." I would nod and nod in agreement. His preaching was sweet. After seminary, I would listen and I would nod and bow my head because what he said was true to me and it was a judgment. Fred's words spoke a truth that was bitterly true.

That is the scroll and scripture, sweet to our lips but it forces us to come to an understanding that may make us uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, because it is causing us to change. That is the freaking point of being a Christian. If there is no difference between the world and cross, why bother with the cross?


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A bit confusing I must admit

As I was reading Revelation this morning, I noticed that John in his communication has a difference between plagues and woes.
8:13 "Woe, woe woe to the inhabitants of the earth at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!"
9:12"The first woe has passed. There are still more to come"
In 9:13-21, John describes plagues that inflict the faithless. He calls out three of them, but when I read I can't count three in those verses. I get two.
So, John is not fully clear or the translators are not clear. So, what is what. My desire to understand John is not to get a road map to end times. It is necessary for me to come to grips with what John is saying, so I can understand what he is communicating. Through this understanding, I can deepen my spirituality. I come through this study with my head, because I feel my heart is so far away from the heart and experience of John.
It is difficult and mistakes are made, but I continue to understand the heart and mind of John more. In doing so, I get a glimpse of an expression of our savior. This glimpse illuminates the dark corners of my soul.
That is why I study the scriptures.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Demonic locusts and wild horsemen

trumpets five and six will be blown and there is this vision for John of Locusts rising from the depths of earth and wild horsmen whose leader is the destroyer....which means Conan the the California Governor is part of the plagues, right??? No, just some of his movies were painful as plagues, ie Conan the Destroyer.

There is a plague of 'locusts' that comes from the depths of earth/hades to come and plague the world. All accept the faithful and the green parts of the earth, 9:4

Then there are two more plagues and to be honest this is where I find John a little confusing. He many times will say, "Plague one, two more to come." He sets up the scene and then blends things and says "That was it." Read Rev. 9:13-21 You will see that John is not very clear.

So, I see four angels as one the final plague in Egypt, the Passover.
Then I see the calvary.
Now, what is the key point that John is drawing out of the calvary to me is that this posse rides with 'fire, smoke, and sulfur' coming of their mouths. A tremendous case of bad breath...get some scope or an Altoids boys.
You put that which comes out of their mouths against what comes out of the mouth of the first horsemen, a rider we will see later, a sword as a tongue. The words that are spoken out of the mouth of that rider, Christ are just and true. The words out of the calvary's mouth are polluted, corrupted, and rather unappealing. The forces of violence though large and grand are not the ultimate authority.

None of these images make sense on their own, you must combine them and play them off each other. John being a apocalyptic writer expects you and I to read it and catch what he is saying.

Finally after all of these plagues a 1/3 of the world gone. Many still don't change. In a way that causes me to reflect upon my faith more deeply. So, every person who is touched and changed by the grace of God through my ministry...that is a miracle. The person who sees the work of grace, is called to repent and fails to do so...that is normal. The miracle is coming to see through our blindness and to believe.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Four trumpets and as Auburn fans say, "War Eagle"

This is where the movement of Revelation gets more precarious.
You thought the seals were weird, now we get to the trumpets.
They could be similar to the plagues of Egypt in Exodus.
The story of Exodus was a story of God battling the gods of Egypt and Pharaoh. Pharaoh's gods had power, but not the ultimate power of Yahweh/God the deliverer. So as you read these trumpets see the cosmic struggle taking place. So, John sees these images that harken back to the Exodus in his present situation.

The first four trumpets in Rev 8:6-13 have a meaning.
First trumpet is blown and destroys the land...'a third of the earth was burned.'
Second trumpet is blown and destroys the sea...'a third of sea became blood' (The River Nile became blood in Exodus)
Third trumpet is blown and the rivers are made impure.
Fourth trumpet is blown and the heavens are corrupted...'third of the sun was stuck, a third of the moon was struck, and third of the stars...'
All the elements of the universe seemed to be effected in this cosmic struggle, the earth, the rivers, the sea, and the heavens.

John wants to emphasize the completeness of this struggle between God and the forces of evil.

This ends with a short interlude. An eagle crying out "woe, woe, woe to the inhabitatnts of the earth...' The eagle is a symbol, Auburn fans know is a sign of power, War Eagle.


Friday, January 06, 2006

"I was taught to Fear Jesus..." Mellencamp sang.

We move from the seven seals to the seven trumpets.

Whenever John is making a transition, he usually says,
"AND I SAW" It reminds me of a kid at toy store. "AND THIS AND THIS AND THIS' There is a mood of excitement and adrenaline to the reading. AND I SAW
8:2 "And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and the seven trumpets were given to them" This is not a progression in the story. It is not modern linear thinking, but it is symphonic thinking. There are stories being told concurrently instead of consecutively. Only in writing it is hard to communicate that.

8:3-5 The prayers of the saints rise up from an Angel's hands along with the smoke from a censer. A censer is used in worship, pagan worship as well, as a holder of incense. In his hands he held this worship device. The interesting part of the story is this. There is this dialogue with creation. The prayers of the saints rise to God and the response back is fire, thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. These are not destructive elements to John, but they are symbolic tools to speak of the Holy.

The Awesomeness of God is terrifying. The prayers rise before God and there is a tremendous reply of terror from God. Terror in seeing something so Holy, not evil, so large, not hurtful, so extraordinary that we stop in our tracks to look, maybe it is so terrifying that we look away. I stood on the coastline of Oregon with huge waves hitting against the hard rocks. The waves were deafening and they exploded violently upon the rocks. I kept my distance, because I feared the power of the ocean. I stood before it, because I was captivated by the beauty. I imagine, I suspect that is what the terrifying fear of the Lord is like.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

the anti climax of the seventh seal

We have had six seals opened the first four were the four horsemen of the apocalypse
the last two were loud.
A voice from heaven shouting and the sixth seal was the cries of the leaders of the earth. Then we see the courts of heaven in this long interlude where numberless throng the 12 tribes of Israel and the gentile world gather in heaven to sing and praise God.
Then the lamb opens up the seventh seal.
8:1 "When the lamb opened up the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour."

There is silence in the heights of heaven for 30 minutes. One episode of South Park or My Name is Earl, not even one Law and Order or CSI. Not even the length of the Chronicles of Narnia. 30 minutes.

Mother Teresa and Soren Kierkegaard both said that if the world was silent for 15 minutes the problems would go away. Perhaps this verse is what they read and stuck in the recesses and folds of their minds. A few minutes of silence that is the consequence of the seventh seal. Not the destruction of the world, but perhpas that silence is the ordering of creation. Heaven is silenced.

The folks who are into the imminent return of Christ see it being a grand and glorious affair. However, John says the seventh seal the final opening of the seals is simply silence. A silence so subtle that the world misses it. I think that what the gospel writers were talking about during the first coming. The heavens opened up and only a group of shepherds saw it. There was a star in the sky and there were some Astrologers in Iraq who were curious and the rest of the world was too busy to see the coming of Christ. Only an old woman and man, Simeon and Anna saw the Messiah at the temple when he was dedicated. 2000 years ago, the visions of what Christ was going to be got in the way of anybody see the reality. The Left Behind crowd, I suspect they will be Left Behind because their vision of the second coming is dictated more on their world view than God's view of the world. (Yeah, I am not discounting their faith just where their faith takes them is wrong. So, as Paul would do, I am correcting a false teaching.) I will probably miss it as well. But John tries to keep me straight, the only person I know who has seen heaven is him. He says that the climax of the return of Christ is silence.

So let me shut up and so we can find the silence of Christ's coming into the world.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The long interlude

Sorry for the delay between times of writing. I wanted to spend time with my family and the nature of the generation of this blog is that it requires some quiet time. Since my wife put down her computer for 10 days which is a good thing, I helped by not having my nose to the screen either.

So, we have this interlude Rev. 7:1-17

The voice of God says, vs. 3 "Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees until we have marked the eservants of the our God with a seal on their foreheads."

trees-reminds me of Tolkein's 'Two Towers' wonder if he read this piece and added his environmental part of the story of trees participating in the redemption of Middle earth. (just a stray thought)

"until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads."

In Jewish Shema "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord Alone" Deut 6: 4.
Deuteronomy talks about binding these words to one's hands and forehead. The Shema, "Hear O Israel...." is a symbol of faithfulness to law of God in Judaism.

Now in Revelation see the parallel "until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads." Instead of a box tied to one's head, there will be a seal, an indelible seal that cannot be removed. It is a Sharpie, permanent marker, to one's faith position. A brand, so to speak.

Ezekiel 9:4-6 gives the image of Passover of sorts where the one's who are marked, the one's who are tired of the corruption of Jerusalem, are saved while the one's unmarked are killed. John probably had this image in his mind as well.

Now, we will come in the book the infamous mark/number of the beast. John is playing the mark's of faithfulness vs. The mark of evil and corruption against each other. John is very black and white. There are the faithful and those who are not.

Finally, there is the recounting of the roster of the tribes.
First Israel is saved
then vs. 9 "After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne..."

John then sees the salvation of the Gentile world. It is not either/or. God's promises to the Jews is still honored but is expanded under this vision. The image of "no one could count" is a direct reference to Abrahamic promise that Abraham's offspring would be beyond measure, more than the stars or the grains of sands. John comes back to this promise later.

Finally vs. 17 "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd."
The people will be shephered by a Lamb.
That is God turning all the rules of this world upside down. A lamb will lead the people. God's vision of power and authority is strikingly different from ours. Who is it that conquers, not armies or generals, a lamb. A lamb will do it. In America, we have the largest military ever seen in the history of the world and what can conquer that single slain lamb. Who has the power?

It is comedic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail had the killer bunny rabbits that is a good gospel image.

Good to be back and I hope you found this study enlightening. Revelation is easy for me to understand when I remember that John was rooted in the scriptures of his day the Old Testament. Knowing the themes of the Old Testament help one understand the New Testament.