"…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" Ephesians 1:6

2005 Summer Intern Quotes

2005 Summer Intern Quotes

project 61

I was at the projects today. Go inside, said ******, the eleven year old who was on the porch. She was talking on the phone and didn’t want to be bothered. Is your mom here? No, just go in.
I pushed the door open and walked inside. The floor was filthy. Trash piled into corners. A dirty rug spread over the dirtier tile. A six year old- *******- ran to the door. In her hand was a piece of bread spread with runny peanut butter. The other kids were on the floor making their sandwiches- ****, who at nine was the oldest one in the house, *****, a five year old, whose clothes were mismatched, and whose, hair- like everyone else’s- hadn’t been fixed, *******, the two year old who crouched in front of a tiny TV watching The Lion King, and *****, the baby who stole my heart last summer when I first found her sitting on a concrete porch by herself in hundred degree heat.

She was seven or eight months old then. Now she’s one. She’s starting to recognize me; I come by a couple times a week. She ran towards me and held out her arms. I almost cried. Her hair’s not fixed. Her clothes weren’t washed. Her diaper was wet. Her face was dirty. Her mom wasn’t there. Her dad has never been. And she runs to my arms because they’re just as safe, maybe more safe, than any of the ones she lives with.

I wanted to cry. And I wanted to love her. Last time I was there, I fed ***** from the bowl of corn she was carrying around. Family meal times don’t exist in this culture. Instead, they shove the babies a bottle, or a bowl of food when they’re old enough, and let them wander around the house trying to figure out how to eat it on their own.

I cried tonight. Because I don’t think anyone tucked ***** into bed. I don’t think anyone said, I love you. I don’t know if anyone does. But what good are the tears. I can’t cry her up some new clothes or some good food or a decent house. I can’t cry hard enough or long enough to make sure that she survives to go to kindergarten. I can’t make sure her mother sends her. I can’t help her push through thirteen years of education to get a diploma that only means maybe she can be a cashier instead of a cook. I can’t ever cry enough. I can’t cry her some love. I can just come home.
See my mom on the couch reading to my baby sister. Hear my dad playing in the pool with some of the other kids. Eat a good meal and sleep on a nice bed…only not sleep…instead just think…about how I wish I could pick up that pudgy little baby and build a home for her and love her, love her into the kingdom.

There’s so much pain at the projects. The government’s working desperately to cover it up, and sometime I get lulled into believing things aren’t that bad. This is Bible-belt Oklahoma, after all, not Skid Row, California .

Then I see ******* running drugs. She’s ten. Or talk to her mom ********, who saw the twenty-two year old boy stabbed to death on their porch last week but won’t say what happened. Or on the way home from church hear ******* says I hate my step dad. He beats my mommy.
Or there’s *******, a three year old, who didn’t know today if his mom was alive or not. This is the boy who told me his daddy picks him up so he won’t see dead people. Or I talk to *******, who has some kind of mental handicap that hasn’t even been diagnosed. Or I watch  ******* struggle through reading a simple sentence- he’s in seventh grade. Or ******* talks about how he saw the boy get stabbed. Or I go to a door to ask for  ****** and hear someone being cussed out. Or I try to talk to ******** but he won’t stop screaming and punching and I don’t know if he’s a crack baby or if it’s something worse. Or I’m sitting in a group of eight little kids about to go through the alphabet with them and one of them turns to *****. Your daddy went to jail, he said. ***** just drops her head. It’s okay. It’s not your fault, I said. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know whose fault it was. I knew that I wanted to wrap her up and hold her in my arms and tell her about Jesus. I wanted to tell her what I told ******* earlier when he said he never saw his dad. I wanted to tell her about God as a Father. I wanted to communicate the love that has changed my life. I wanted to somehow let her know that I really believe that the light of the Gospel could shine even into such great darkness.

But ******* started crying and wanted another paper and ******* grabbed the flashcards and ******* ran off and **** didn’t know what a letter was and ****** showed up and the moment passed. And so instead, I just cried tonight and prayed and promised God that even if I can’t go back to these kids. Even if I can’t go back to *****, I promise, I’ll go somewhere else and spend my life learning how to love.

And I’m haunted by how I don’t love them enough, how the heat hits a hundred and I’m ready to turn around…But I want to love…God knows, I want to…

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous but sinners. – matthew 9:12-13

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – matthew 9:35-38

And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” – matthew 11:4-5

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. – matthew 18:5

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. – matthew 23:23

For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me…Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – matthew 25:35-36, 40

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. – isaiah 61:1-4

…how shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

#1 my hair has turned green.

#2 someone backed into my car at the projects today. we called the police; they never came. it’s the projects- they don’t come out here for car wrecks, an old black man said. that same man, the one who backed into my car, crawled underneath it and pounded the bumper back into place.
#3 someone tried to sell my brother weed this morning while we were picking up kids for church. that does funny things to you. i wouldn’t have minded so much if it was me- but my little brother… sometimes i can’t believe my parents let the two of us go down to the projects alone. it probably isn’t safe. but there’s no one else to go. i am reminded of my parent’s bravery, of their decision to put the gospel above all else, of the way they are teaching us that our lives are expendable for the kingdom.

the sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing- to find the place where all the beauty came from

Sunday Morning. I was picking up a nine year old boy named ***** for church. I knocked on the door of his apartment. *****, you coming to church? Yeah, he muttered and stumbled around sleepily rounding up some shoes and clothes. When he stepped outside of the apartment, I held up my hand for a high five. How’s it going, buddy? But ***** didn’t high five me. Instead, he slipped his hand into mine and wouldn’t let go. So we walked down the stairs hand in hand. And we waded through the trash and smashed beer bottles towards my car, me in my pink skirt and white shirt and high heels and ***** in his oversized t-shirt and jean shorts and dirty tennis shoes. And- for one isolated moment- with his grimy black hand in mine, I caught a glimpse of agape love. It was beautiful.

“Hot cup of cocoa by the fire…can’t be enjoyed when just outside the door a homeless man’s tears are becoming ice…” -Dan Watson

“Pride has no place in unity, and unity is God’s decree and command for His church. But, forever bending to self-centered sin in the place of God-centered love, somehow we smuggle our pride in amid all that grace.” – Chris Smith and Dan Watson

from the projects…

My dad took a little six year old boy named ***** home yesterday who had been acting up. When dad walked him into the center at the apartment project, he explained to **** ******, the woman who runs the center what had happened. **** ****** leaned down to ***** and gave him her classic line, “Just remember, *****, you can’t love others unless you love yourself,” and then she poked her finger into his chest and said, “And there’s a lot to love in there.”
And at first I laughed when I heard that, and then I realized why I was laughing- because it was ridiculous and flat out wrong. There’s not a lot to love in there. There’s a lot of sin. I pray for the grace to never forget how wicked my own heart is. I am so easily deceived. I thank God for the people in my life who encourage me day after day so that I will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Vacation Bible School

…yesterday i played a split personality in a skit…i was both of the bad guys who conspired against Daniel…i’ve also played Daniel, a lion, a cow, a tiger, a bear, various parts of creation (such as the sky, the land, the water, the sun, the moon, ect), Martha, and Mary…as Mary I had to wash “Jesus’ ” feet with my hair…Chris, who was playing Jesus, kept wiggling his toes…i almost gagged…i’ve also been several puppets, stevie- a pig with lisp and a bad case of the stutters, la tigre- a tiger of french/spanish orgin who does not know how to growl, and perry- a perigrene falcon, who speaks in a queer australian/british accent and advertises himself has the fastest bird in the entire world…tomorrow he will attempt to break the world record and fly at a speed of 201 miles per hour…

…i’ve also been the bus driver that goes to apache manor, one of the government projects…yesterday i drove home nineteen kids in the fifteen passenger van (they were all buckled)…basically everyone in my van was dating/liked someone else in the van (these kids are ages 4-13) so i’ve made a new rule…once you get into the van, you’re single…there are absolutely no romantic relationships of any kind allowed inside my vehicle…so far the kids are complying…
…this week has been a jumble of giving piggy back rides, talking about the glory of God, planning puppet skits, explaining to parents why their children are suspended, and telling kids i love them…it’s been draining, physically and mentally, not so much because of the work or the continual demand for more ideas, but because the kids at the projects are trapped, in a heartbreaking cycle of sin…

…there’s an eleven year old boy i’ve been picking up named ******…he’s one of the nicest kids…he calls me Miss Miriam and he looks out for his little brother and he can recite the memory verse from every day…and he loves VBS and he loves us and we love him…but then today he grabbed a toilet paper roll from a girl named ******* (we were wrapping people in toilet paper since today’s story was Lazarus) and ******* punched him…he said, why you hittin’ me…and she punched him again…so he punched her back…we have strict no fighting rule…throwing a punch means you’re suspended for the week, but my dad decided to offer him grace since ****** has been so good and it seems like we’ve really been getting through to him…dad said he could come back if he’d apologize…he refused…instead, he sat at the back and cried because he wasn’t going to get to come back…i sat next to him and cried too…
…on the way home, we talked…about forgiveness, about turning the other cheek, about overcoming evil with good, about Christ dying for the ungodly, about what it means to be like Jesus, about what it means to be a real man…and he offered to apologize but my dad said it was too late…he can’t come back…

…and ****** said something on the way home today that ripped my heart into tiny little pieces…i was asking him why he hit ******* and he looked over at me with tears in his eyes and he said, that was the way i was raised, when someone hits you, you hit them back…
…and it was the way he was raised…and what he needs is to learn that what Jesus teaches is different from the way he was raised and we’re teaching that at VBS…but what breaks my heart is that he, and tons of these other kids, can’t keep the rules enough to come to hear what they need to hear to help them change their thinking…and, in many ways, it’s a losing battle, a lose-lose situation…either he comes back to VBS, where, if he gets hit again, he’ll probably hit back again…or he sits at home and never hears the truths that could help him change into the kind of kid who could love an enemy and overcome evil with good…
…and so i sobbed at after i dropped him off…i pounded the steering wheel and wept because i don’t know what to do or how to help him…and what he said keeps echoing in my head…the way i was raised, the way i was raised, the way i was raised…and i tried to tell him today, but the way he was raised is wrong…it’s so wrong…
…and i see the sins of the fathers being passed down to the children daily and it breaks my heart…and it’s what isaiah called “the desolation of many generations”…so i cry and i pray for him and when Dakota got out of the car i gave him a hug and said, i still love you…and i’ll go by tomorrow and invite him to church Sunday…and then two weeks from today, i’ll leave…and go back to california and try to love people there…
…but i’m tired of it…i’m tired of loving and having to leave and i long for heaven and for the day when my love will be perfect and the leaving will be over…

“Sin is the suicidal exchange of the glory of God for the broken cisterns of created things, …infinite value and beauty for some fleeting, inferior substitute. This is the ultimate insult [to God].” – John Piper

“God is glorified both by being understood and by being delighted in. He is not glorified so much by one brand of evangelicals who divorce delight from understanding, and He is not glorified so much by another branch of evangelicals who divorce understanding from delight.” – John Piper

“Christian complaints of victimization and abuse in media are “morally hypocritical… The wonder is not that there is so much stinging criticism from outside the church but that there is so little within… Besides, any liberal prejudice against Christians has been more than amply repaid.” – Os Guiness

“The effect of playing the victim [as the modern American evangelical church is doing] is to reject the ethic of Christ and resort to a politics of resentment. The politics of resentment is the politics of revenge… Conservative Christians criticise the concept of tolerance with some justification. But instead of countering tolerance with its Christian corrective – forgiveness – they counter with resentment, its self-righteous and anti-Christian contradiction.” – Os Guiness

“Idols are what we make out of the evidence for God… Since we were made to relate to God but do not want to face Him, we forever infalate things in this world to religious proportions to fill the vacuum left by God’s exclusion.” – Richard Keyes

“Every day you are either getting nearer to God or farther off.” – J.C. Ryle

…this is Piper’s paraphrase of Edward’s view on orginal sin…

“Edwards asks how one man (like me) can be morally implicated in the sin of another (like Adam). He answers by asking why the “I” that exists today is responsible for the moral acts that I did or didn’t do yesterday. The answer, evidently, is that there is a union between the me of today and the me of yesterday. But why is there? he asks. He answers that ‘God’s upholding created substance – or causing it to exist in each successive moment – is altogether equivalent to an imediate production out of nothing, at each moment, because its existence at this moment is…wholly from Him, and not in any…degree fro mits antecedent existence.’ This implies that ‘There is no identity or oneness but what depends on the arbitrary constitution of the Creator, who by His wise sovereign establishment so unites these successive new effects that He treats them as one by communicating to them like properties, relations, and circumstances.’ This means that ultimately the reason the me of today is morally responsible for the actions of the me of yesterday is that God has arbitrarily willed that it be so.”

…this is dan watson’s paraphrase of piper’s paraphrase…

1. Our being, both in its original creation and in its constant sustenance, is derived completely from God.2. Therefore, I (as I currently exist) am linked to me (as I have existed up until this moment) not out of existential continuity but only out of God’s sovereign and arbitrary decision to link the me of now with the me of yesterday.3. Therefore, everyone’s identity is not absolute but is established by God’s arbitrary decision to link it to a past identity belonging to what we call the same person.4. Therefore, it is just as logical and fair to link the me of right now to a different past person (though, presumably, God does not do this).5. Therefore, to link me to Adam’s guilt and identity as a sinner is just as fair and logical.

the way it always was is no longer good enough…

from college Bible study tonight…

Love for the light is not caused by coming to the light. We come to the light because we love it. Otherwise, our coming is no honor to the light. How does it honor the light when the only reason we come to the light is to get the things we loved in the dark? God will not be a means to an end. He is the end.

Hebrews 11:6 “He who comes to God must believe that He exists and the He is rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The faith the pleases God is the assurance that when we come to Him we will find Him to be the all-satisfying treasure.

other quotes…

Do not come unless you can say the Cross is the attraction.

It must be come, never go; we cannot ask another to do what we are not willing to do ourselves.

Be eager to serve more than you’re serving.