Tag Archive: monkman

my housemate Monkman [aka Aaron Condon] and i are trying to set aside a meal to fast and pray together every week and this week on Thursday we sat on the floor in the office and read through psalm 17 which was the next one i was going to look at. and when we finished we read through psalm 18. and then 19. and it was so refreshing just reading a bunch of psalms together – we didn’t really discuss in depth or anything but just soaked in God’s word… try it.

so psalm 17…

very big one in verse 4: ‘I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.’ – between gossip, and speaking things that break down and don’t build up, as well as below-the-belt across-the-line kind of talk, this one is something that has been in huge focus in my life and community this week. and i think it is so important to note how easily we can justify any of these when we do it [“it’s not gossip, it’s sharing/caring/concern”; “it was just a joke, i didn’t really mean that”; “oh, i’m not as bad as…”] but be able to distinguish how bad it is in others [“he is such a gossip”, “that girl is so negative all the time”, “wo, i can’t believe you went there”]

but the Bible has a lot to say about the tongue and how we can use it for evil as well as for good… ‘With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.’ [James 3.9-10]

proverbs 15 has some more key things to say about the tongue:

‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.’

‘The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.’

‘The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.’

‘The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright.’

‘The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly.’

[vs 1, 2, 4, 7, 14]

the psalmist says, ‘I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.’  If we could all live with that same kind of conviction, i believe we would transform the world. Speaking the truth in love, building up, holding people accountable, encouraging people in their gifting, warning those we love when they step close to the edge, speaking the name of Jesus more as an accompaniment to our actions…

psalm 17 has a lot more to offer, for sure, but i think that is enough for now.

last night the beautiful Val and Monkman and myself went to a homeless memorial service in town where a bunch of different organisations who work with homeless people, such as project home where will [who runs our alternative seminary classes] works to specifically remember those homeless or previously homeless people who had died in the last year – more than fifty names were read out at one part of the service which took place outside in the gentle rain…

at one point in the service a friend of the simple way played Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’, one of my favourite and most moving of songs, which has never felt so apt [actually being on the streets of philadelphia] and the words are as follows:

“I was bruised and battered and I couldn’t tell
What I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window I didn’t know
My own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me
On the streets of philadelphia

I walked the avenue till my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
Black and whispering as the rain
On the streets of philadelphia

Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
Its just you and I my friend
My clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip the skin

The night has fallen, I’m lyin awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of philadelphia.”

[Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/bruce+springsteen/streets+of+philadelphia_20025067.html%5D

Jesus said, “There will always be poor people among you” and I think we often receive that in a resigned way – oh well, Jesus said there’s always going to be poor people so why even bother trying to make a difference. But i think He was speaking prophetically, not so much about what has to be the case [we do have enough resources for everyone at this present time] but from a place of knowing the heart of man – because you are greedy and put yourself first and choose your comfort over someone elses need, as a result of that, there will always be poor people among you.

this blog has the word ‘poor’ in the title so it is not going to get as many hits as say my relationship blogs [how can I do MY relationships better?] and the people who made it down this far are most likely not the ones who need to read or be reminded of any of this stuff, except maybe a little, and maybe it’s that little which counts. i know i need to hear it [and i have chosen to live in a poor neighborhood and work with poor people] because there is still a lot that needs to change in my own life.

but standing in the rain last nite with a whole lot of homeless people from all diverse backgrounds [poverty is not racist] and walks of life, and the people who work with them, i was moved once again that we can NOT SETTLE FOR THE WAY THINGS ARE – where those who have keep piling up more and more while those who don’t are left to suffer alone… especially as the church… part of our mandate is to look after the least of these.

“The night has fallen, I’m lyin awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of philadelphia.”

yesterday tbV and now my friend as well, brian watson, dropped in for a visit… from South Africa, brian is in the middle of doing his PHD in Arizona in stuff you would have to hear to not really understand [altho solar power and keeping particles the right distance from each other and a billionth of a meter thin wire all enter into it] and it was great to get to see him.

he is actually spending most of the weekend with a friend of his in NYC so trained his way through to hang with us from yesterday afternoon and then left eeearly this morning…

what was really cool was that in the village house over a snack and then later on the train and then outside Mad Mex bar and then on the train and then during and after the potluck we had a number of significant conversations. at least a week’s worth altho probly closer to a month or a year for a lot of people i know.

real talk. about real things. life changing things. frustration with wanting church to get it a little bit closer to God’s way things. relationship things. community things.

[and actually we did touch on sport and movies and food in there but the point being that we spent so little time together – relatively – and yet the conversation was so rich]

i hesitate to finish with a challenge cos i suspect the kind of people who read this blog are the kind of people for whom rich conversations are the norm – not necessarily every one, but at least sometimes, and preferably often. and so maybe the challenge is more about challenging the people you know who can get through a year or a month or a week’s worth of conversations and only have dealt with the latest or rehashed information about food, sport and movies.

our time with brian left us feeling like we’d grown a bit and hopefully he did as well. we got stuff to think about and hopefully gave some. as a result of some of the talk that happened things will probably change, maybe in small ways, but maybe later in larger ones.

i still want to be able to quote Monty Python and get amped when we thrash the Aussies in the coming cricket test match and defend Michael Schumacher’s comeback [give him a car, Ross!] and do weird and silly voices with Monkman and get amped for coffee and chocolate and mashed potato… but at the same time i want to grapple with the problem of the drug dealers on our doorstep and try to figure out how to do community living better with the people we live with, and discover how Jesus and His teaching translates to the Puerto Rican people who live across the road from us and figure out how to improve the aft6er school homework program and formulate an opinion on Occupy Philly and and and…

let’s practice speaking more life, more meaningfully and more real. ly.

let me start by being perfectly honest here, i am not an artist… not in the drawing, painting, nude sculpture making sense anyways…

when i was in high school i somehow managed to end up taking art as one of my choice subjects [i copied a monkey face pretty well back in standard 5/grade 7 and got accepted in art at westerford somehow that way] for grade 8 and 9 but very quickly found out that the teacher didn’t so much teach art as assumed art and so if you didn’t know how to do the type of art he held up you were pretty much screwed… which led to me and ray wright largely spending two years just mixing paint colours and unintentionally blocking up drains…

i was not allowed to choose art for grade 8 to 10 and so effectively i like to think that i was kicked out of art… academically at least.

til i heard about this thing called First Friday in Philadelphia where i currently live and move and have my being. our summer intern and friend Beth took a bunch of her really good art to the streets and came back with money – lots of it.

so i schemed with monkman aka A-Ron aka Aaron, another housemate, to make some art and take it to first friday and take irony for a joy ride cos surely if i could make some art and someone could buy it for real money then that would just throw art on it’s head…

last saturday i spend the whole day painting on a window within a frame that Jamie from across the road [one of the original members of the simple way] gave me and came up with something some people would call art, at least until they looked at it. Monkman came home after being out the whole day, took about thirty minutescreating his minimist art piece [also on a window frame] and it looked 1000 times better than mine.

there were bits of mine i liked. tbV liked at least two parts of it and i think i liked three of the four corners or at least ish. but as a whole it was going to take some irony walking by.

two things happened tonite at first friday which made me happy. the first was two quite trendy girls walking past [and we had my painting next to monkman’s and a bunch of t-shirts and patches he was selling so a decent amount of stuff] and the one turned to the other one having indicated my painting and said ‘that’s good’ or ‘i like that’ or something to that effect. job done.

the second thing was that i sold my painting for 20 dollarbucks. like money. real money. that you can buy things with. oh irony, your head has been bruised by this ‘art’ this nite… or something. this girl really dug it and i didn’t know what to charge her for it and she said twenty bucks? and i said sure [i’m a kick-ass haggler] and she gave the twenty bucks and walked off [and is theoretically going to claim it later – she had just arrived and wanted to check out other things – pretty trusting in these parts]

so all said and done i think that makes me officially an artist.

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