Monday, February 27, 2006

Helping People (To What Extent?)

One of the things we've been trying to emphasize at Cascade Hills is the act of service. After reading a situation on my friend Adam's blog and the situation his friend is going through in becoming homeless, it got me thinking of what Jesus calls us to be and do as His followers.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
~ Matthew 25:35-40
I am reminded of a story that came out about an Ashland, OR couple who were making $300-800 a day from begging, not paying taxes, while still receiving $500 a month in food stamps. I hear stories like this and it makes me not want to give to people asking for money on the street corner. Then I hear about Adam's friend who was legitimately paying his bills and trying to support himself, only to be stolen from and forced to the streets. How do we know who to help? Should it be us who decides who really needs help and who is just taking advantage or lazy?
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
~ James 2:14-18
I thought of my apartment and the extra bed in the extra bedroom, with the heat and power on, food in the cupboards and fridge, the extra bathroom and shower, and about how much I have. To what extent shall I help? Do I help the bum on the street corner? Maybe I find someone like Adam's friend who may need a place to stay for a week or two. Maybe I only use it for my close friends and family who already have a place to live somewhere else. Adam posed the question elsewhere that his wife may not be comfortable with the situation, or maybe I would be aware of keeping my family safe. To what extent am I cautious of strangers stealing from me or harming me and my family? At what point does the call to help others supercede caution?

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
~ 1 John 3:16-18
We help our friends when their car breaks down (thanks Eric), or we may give our friends food when they need it. What do we do for those we don't know as well? What about total strangers? There are a lot of questions here. I pray for the Lord's wisdom in helping people.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

All Things New

As a part of our new life together, we bit the bullet and Kori and I bought a brand new Toyota Matrix XR. It's actually a really cool ride; one that I've sort of had a twitch in the back of my brain to buy the past several years. I don't know if it's the name of the car or the features it includes, like a 115V plug in the dash and fold down seats including front passenger side for tons of storage space, but I just like it.

We went to a dealership in the Portland area because the one in Salem was giving us the usual car-salesman crap, and they had one with the exact features we wanted in the exact color (they call it "Phantom Gray") for an uninflated price. I say it had the exact features, but it also had a couple extras including a 6-disc CD changer with 6 speakers, which is fine with me because I like tunes. Kori was fantastic with the salespeople with their barrage of techniques. I hardly said anything while she talked them into doubling their original trade-in offer for her old car (2001 Saab 9-5).

We drove home in the new car very satisfied with our purchase, knowing that we will be paying it off for several years, but also knowing that we have a long warranty and free regular tuneups. If you've been on this blog long enough, you know of my experiences with cars. You also haven't heard about Kori's Saab (not anymore) getting backed into three days after buying it, and the random $450 recall part failing a week before she got the letter (they tell us she'll be reimbursed even after selling the car).

It will be nice to not have to worry about little things like engine malfunctions and repair costs while we are in the beginning stages of our life together. Plus we'll look good in our sweet new ride.

Monday, February 13, 2006

My Friend Rich

I've been back for a week now. I've just been busy or lazy to write anything, but perhaps both.

Though he wrote in after I arrived back in Salem, Oregon, I have to declare Ryan Peters as the winner, mostly because I have tons of good stories about Rich to write about, and because Rebecca Marie's made me sweat too much to accurately press keys. Maybe one of these days I'll bring back up your suggestion in two or three parts, RM, or maybe a novella.

To my sister, Rebecca, I love you. And for this story and its inspiration. If Rich ever need an arch nemesis, may he live in fear if it were you.

I met Rich at Cascade College. He started a year after me, and from the day I met him, we became quite good friends. He is one of those guys you either love or hate. There's not much middle ground with him. He has a knack for getting on people's bad sides, and for some reason was always getting blamed for campus pranks.

For example, he was busted for putting soap in the fountain, not because it made lots of bubbles the day before graduation, but because it loosened up the soap in all the pipes, causing a huge clog in the pump and breaking in, rendering it inoperable. Another time he cleaned his dorm room by throwing out the trash from his third-story window onto the lawn. If you know him, there was a lot.

The story I want to tell begins with my sister. My sister used to carry around with her a simple metal whisle. I think its purpose was to act as a rape whistle, since the college isn't in the best of neighborhoods. It somehow morphed into the "Rude Whistle". Whenever someone was being rude (or perceived to be being rude by my sister) the offending person would receive an abbreviated whistle blow in the face. How she became the manners police, I'll never know.

As you can guess, this habit might get quite annoying with some people. One of those people happened to be my friend, Rich. In order to repay the aforementioned acts of the "Rude Whistle Bearer" Rich began to plot. In no way was his vengeance going to be simple and lame and emotionally driven by the heat of the moment. Rich was calculating how best to repay, and he thought of it. He began to carry around with him a hammer one day. The day turned to days. Days became weeks, weeks became months, until one day, Rich seized the perfect moment. My sister placed her keys on the table one lunch in the cafeteria and Rich pounced, running out of the room and down the stairs. The hammering could be heard from miles away, while children cried and animals howled at the pain exuding from the great whistle, rendering it unrecognizable. The hammering only slowed when the hatred for the whistle subsided and Rich's wrath had been finalized by inserting the flattened mess into its owner's campus mailbox.

I wish I could say this tale ended here. Revenge is a two-sided coin, which longs for the taste of blood and anguish. Anguish came at a meticulously planned later date, during pledge week. The "Rude Whistle" had been reborn and multiplied and entrusted to the pledges of Lambda Chi Omega. Rich strutted the campus fearlessly, to his own demise. He was chased down, outrun, and surrounded by thirty (or so) of these pledgees and deafened by the sound of as many whistles, forever proclaiming Rich to be rude.

Many other stories have been told of Rich Jandt. If they are true or false, only a few people know. To meet Rich in person, he will be at my wedding wearing a tux next to me. I'd rather he was on my side.