Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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The Justice Conference: Film Festival

1001275_10151902467461540_1779359943_nThe third day of The Justice Conference is a film festival. It’s literally a 12-hour day of movies back to back. My kind of day! And, of course, cool to see so many movies focused on justice all together. I’m not great about watching documentaries either, so this was a good chance for me to stretch myself.

I didn’t love them all, but there are some real gems in here. Give them a try when you get the chance. (Some of them are less than 10 minutes.)

Here’s what we saw:

IMBA MEANS SING

There are over 12 million orphans in the sub-Saharan Africa. Every year thousands audition for the chance to escape poverty and travel for the African Children’s Choir—only 20 make the cut. This is their story

50 PEOPLE 1 QUESTION: SKID ROW

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Skid Row is a 50-block community that over 4,000 people call their home. Jubilee Project spent a day in Skid Row asking people on their streets on question, “What is your dream?”

TIHARU

It’s quickly becoming the most populated country in the world, but India holds a dark secret. Men and women who make their homes in poor villages throughout the central region are forced to make decisions that no parents should ever have to make: sell a child into slavery or watch your children starve to death?

A PLACE AT THE TABLE (Streaming on Netflix)

A documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, and proposed solutions for the problem. Featuring music from The Civil Wars.

MY NEIGHBOURHOOD

When a Palestinian boy loses half of his home to Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem, he joins his community in a campaign of non-violent protests. Efforts to put a quick end to the demonstrations are failed when scores of Israelis choose to stand by the residents’ side.

UNDIVIDED

Undivided is the hop-filled, challenging and inspiring true story of how a church and a public high school forged an unlikely friendship—initiating a beautiful transformation for both he school and faith community.

NEVER A NEVERLAND

The Kingdom of Swaziland  hosts the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, leaving 1/3 of its population orphaned or vulnerable. Never a Neverland documents the reality of a kingdom moving towards extinction and the hope of a people to ensure it never becomes a “Neverland.”

SEVEN DAYS OF CHANGE

Get inside the lives of people affected by the world’s most compelling causes; witness the Sevenly team, a sylish Southern California  company race the clock to implement a life-changing solution for a deserving charity every seven days.

BLOOD BROTHER

A young man from a fractured family and a troubled past went traveling through India without a plan. Then he met a group of HIV positive children living in an orphanage—a meeting that changed everything for him.

THE PINK ROOM

After selling herself at fourteen to a brothel inside her home of Svey Pak, Mien takes and undesired path all over Cambodia for the remainder of her teenage life.

RISING FROM ASHES

Competing in a white man’s sport, reserved for the privileged, a rag tag group of cyclists coached by the first American to ride in the Tour de France is transformed into a powerful symbol of hope for a country recovering from one of the world’s most devastating genocides.

THE DROP BOX

One winter, a South Korean pastor finds a baby on the church steps, and decides to build a “drop box” to rescue future foundlings. This inspiring story takes place after the box was first installed and documents the incredible changes that take place.

 


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The Justice Conference: Highlights

Justice Conference logoTwo weeks ago I headed to LA for The Justice Conference. Any excuse to head to SoCal is a good one, but this event on social justice issues was extra special to me, and at the top of my vacation list this year. So, it made for a great trip!

I posted my Pre-Conference Highlights last week, and now I’ll move on to the main event, held at the beautiful Orpheum Theater. It was a really great day, full of fantastic information, inspiring speakers and like-minded camaraderie.

 

Ken Wytsma, President of Kilns College and Founder of The Justice Conference

  • When everyone speaks in a prophetic time, we can’t hear the prophetic voice.
  • Remember the poor with deep respect.

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Donald Miller, Founder of Storyline Conference, speaker and author

  • It’s hard not to filter your theology through advertising, which says you’re lacking something.
  • Jesus wants us to experience a deep sense of meaning, not necessarily to be comfortable and happy.
  • God is in the business of redeeming hard things.

 

Nicole Baker Fulgham, founder and President of The Expectations Project

  • Education is a pathway out of poverty.
  • Educated creates engaged citizens.
  • Education gives kids purpose.

 

Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Director of Equal Justice Initiative

  • 1. We need to commit ourselves to proximity. We must get close to those we want to serve. It will show you things you’ll never otherwise see.
  • 2. Change the narrative. Behind every un-truth, there is a narrative saying it must be this way.
  • 3. Be hopeful to create justice. Sometimes it’s easier to be faithful than hopeful.
  • 4. We have to choose to be uncomfortable.
  • I do what I do because I’m broken too. God is there for the broken. I understand the broken because I am one. God’s grace and mercy fills the broken places.
  • We will not achieve justice with just the thoughts in our minds.

 

Lynne Hybels, Author of Nice Girls Don’t Change the World

Sami Awad, Executive Director of Holy Land Trust

Marcel Serubungo, Church Mobilization at World Relief Org

  • There is nothing that works in the Congo but the local church.
  • What makes our work different? Jesus.
  • You achieve greater results through love.
  • You can’t give away what you don’t have.
  • Don’t try to do something. Do something.

 

Justin Dillon, Founder/CEO of Made in a Free World

  • Justice is it’s own art form.
  • Embrace your vulnerability.
  • The world doesn’t need more information, it needs an invitation.
  • Make a world you want to live in.
  • Strive toward the better version of yourself.
  • We’re “shoulding” all over everyone. Stop the should and do.
  • Don’t think problems, think solutions.

 

Rich Sterns, President of World Vision

Jim Wallis, President and Founder of Sojourners

Noel Castellanos, CEO of CCDA

  • Our faith is connected to the issue of injustice.
  • Immigration reform may be the next Civil Rights movement.

 

Eugene Cho, Founder of One Day’s Wages, Lead Pastor of Quest Church

  • John 1, Woman at the Well
  • What we do isn’t in isolation. We are representatives of the Kingdom of God.
  • Justice must also do us, not just us doing justice. Otherwise, we just commercialize and commoditize it.
  • People aren’t projects; they are equals.
  • We must learn from those we serve. Place yourself in their narrative to catch a glimpse of who they are.

 

Stephen Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief

  • Your calling begins with a complaint. There is something you can’t stand for anymore.
  • Our faith will live by justice.
  • We need another reformation. God’s reformation is done through His people.
  • Reformation: a recovery of Truth from the periphery with sacrificial love.
  • What we consider the edges, God considers the center.

 

Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (and wife)

  • We cannot romanticize the work of justice.
  • 1 Kings 19 (Fire down from heaven)
  • Too many times we think justice work is calling fire down from heaven. But the reality is much more mundane that than. There are small, daily jobs to do.
  • Motivation matters. Check yourself.
  • To stay grounded, stay connected to people.
  • We must fight giants: ego, exhaustion and emotional toxicity.
  • Too often we think justice is talking AT people. Our justice work has become disembodied. It should be incarnational and not third-party.

 

Bernice King, American Baptist Minister and World-Renowned Speaker, Daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Conflict is a weapon of growth.
  • True peace is not the absence of tension, but the presence of justice. – MLK
  • Never forget God is on the side of justice. Start there and keep it in sight.
  • God made from one brotherhood all nations.
  • MLK’s strategy of nonviolence will always work because it’s based on Jesus.
  • Courageous people are nonviolent.
  • Nonviolence shouldn’t seek to defeat people, only injustice.

 

Bethany Hoang, Director of the Institute for Biblical Justice for International Justice Mission

  • Justice begins in the heart of God.
  • We must stop and pray. We are often too busy or in a rush to action to do it, but it will best equip us.

 

N.T. Wright, Professor at University of St. Andrews, Retired Bishop of Durham, UK, Author

  • Justice is what love looks like.
  • We need discernment because when we think we’ve got justice down, we become arrogant. (Tower of Babel)

 

Lynne Hybels, Author of Nice Girls Don’t Change the World

  • Ask, “What is mine to do?” and let God help you figure it out. Otherwise you may be overwhelmed by all the causes and issues that need us.
  • God will empower you to do what is yours.
  • God created all the beauty in this world. Fight for it and help it flourish.

 

That’s all I got! Hope you enjoyed my notes. Fingers crossed that I’ll be able to attend The Justice Conference again next year. It’s a great event, and I recommend going!


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Justice Conference: Pre-Conference Highlights

photoLast week I attended The Justice Conference in Los Angeles. It was my first time attending this conference, and I was super excited. I’ve attended a lot of conferences, but this was really my first big one on social justice issues, which is such a huge part of my heart. The speakers did not disappoint. Really good stuff. I wanted to share some of my favorite thoughts with you. Hopefully they’ll inspire you as well, as you pursue the work of justice.

 

Innovation and Creativity in the Church

Ken Wytsma, Founder of The Justice Conference and author of Pursing Justice

Charles Lee, author of Great Idea, Now What and founder of Ideation Camp

Jeremy Courtney, Preemptive Love Coalition Co-Founder

  • Innovation is problem-solving. Creativity is how you get there.
  • The idea you start with is rarely the idea you end with.
  • Sometimes you just push through the work even if you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • Ideas are impotent without action.
  • Talking about something tricks your brain into thinking you’re actually doing something.
  • Get out of your own circles to get new ideas.
  • Being in the right place at the right time is most important. (Be present)
  • Unplug and reflect regularly.
  • “We need to be a tangible expression of good to the world.” – Charles Lee
  • We make time for things we value.
  • How do we make time? 1. Prioritize. 2. Let others participate. 3. Incremental execution. 4. Resist the urge to listen to irrational voice. 5. Take your own advice. 6. We veil our laziness with too many meetings and coffees; just get moving. 7. Be prepared to fail gloriously.

 

Justice and The Gospel

Ken Wystma, Founder of The Justice Conference and author of Pursing Justice

  • The gospel and justice aren’t two separate conversations.
  • Justice and “good works” aren’t the same thing.
  • The dictionary defines justice as: a right relationship with God, self, others and creation.
  • Justice structures a society. Justice and righteousness used to be synonyms, but justice has taken on new meaning.
  • Truth corresponds to what is. Justice corresponds to what ought to be.
  • Restorative Justice tries to bring things back to alignment. Helping put things back into alignment is part of being a Christian. It is tied to our flourishing.
  • Justice becomes a theological necessity. We learn about God through justice.
  • Jesus’ coming was Restorative Justice. That’s the Gospel.
  • Restorative Justice is a means to the end—the relationship.
  • We can’t understand the Gospel without justice.
  • It’s not Jesus or justice. It’s both. They are the same.
  • Jesus IS the justice of God come down to earth.
    • Justice is a defining characteristic of Jesus.
    • There has never been a time when you had Jesus and not justice.

 

Justice and Consumerism

Hans Tokke, Eastern University

  • The essence of America is the economy. It’s the freedom to shop. People want to keep the money in their pockets and use it how they see fit. It is rooted in individualism. 70% of economy in the buying and selling of goods.
  • The most important shift in suburban society with washing machine. It went from 8 hours to 4 hours of cleaning clothes from start to finish. Advertising soon followed with wants versus needs.
  • Paradox of Choice – a book that demonstrates when we have an over abundance of choice, we don’t even choose. We are overwhelmed.
  • Biblical concept of benevolence (Mark 14:7) ,”The poor you will always have with you,and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.”
  • How do we treat the widow, orphan or sojourner? That answer is a reflection of a society.
  • Us vs. Them. The way you treat your budgets are a reflection of your values.
  • A lot of people will not be with you. They will support you at a distance.
  • Is caring for the poor an add-on to your life or part of who you are?

 

Unfinished: The Pursuit of Justice Around the World

World Vision Panel: Rich Sterns, Mae Cannon and Romanita Hairston

  • Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
  • “There are many things that can only been seen by the eyes of those who have cried.” – Oscar Romero
  • Jesus didn’t tie up everything with a bow when he left. He gave us the Great Commission.
  • The Great Commission and the Greatest Command pretty much sum up our mission. Jesus hasn’t come back because the mission isn’t finished.
  • 40% of the world hasn’t heard the Gospel.
  • 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line in the US.
  • NGOs and governments’s are mostly caring for the justice efforts. The Church needs to step up to the plate. There are 340K churches in the US.
  • Think not about programs but people.
  • To decide how you feel about immigration, meet an immigrant. To decide how you feel about Title 1 schools, meet families and teachers there. Don’t just stand at a distance or take the word of someone else, even the news.
  • “Talk to me about Jesus because you love me; not because you need me.” – Jewish lady in Israel
  • Palestinians see Americans as people who make weapons against them.
  • Palestinian Christians wish US Christians would remember them. They exist.
  • Lead with love. It’s attractive.
  • Church should be a verb as well.
  • Our solution is often in the places that we don’t go, or are hard for us to go. Be in the difficult places. We are challenged there, and forced to ask ourselves hard questions.
  • Justice is the job of the church.

 

Putting Flesh to Your Vision

Eugene Cho, Founder of Quest Church and charity One Day’s Wages

  • Nehemiah 1
  • God is still speaking to the world today. Do we have the discipline and courage to hear and obey?
  • Everyone has a theology. Our theology informs and drives our calling.
  • 1. Shut Up and Pray. Our culture elevates acting quickly. Jesus withdraws, even at the height of His popularity, when He needed to. Nehemiah did this for several months, probably 4-6 months. We tend to speak and act from an emotional response only.
  • 2. Ask the Hard Questions. Have people who can do this and be trusted. Do this for yourself. We sometimes are tempted to start things for the wrong motivation. We tend to elevate entrepreneurs. Check your motivation.
  • 3. Get Smart. You need to be committed to being an expert in your calling. Your emotional conviction can’t be enough. Intelligence isn’t the antithesis of faith.
  • 4. Discern Your Passion, Mission and Vision. Passion is important, but not everything. Your Mission asks WHAT do you want to accomplish. Your Vision asks HOW do you want to accomplish your mission.
  • 5. Identify Who’s On Your Team. God never speaks His vision in isolation. Get excited about the prospect of who you might work with. Collaboration should be your best friend. You need a support network for the hard times.
  • 6. Have a Strategic Plan. Strategy is not the enemy of faith. If it has value to you, do the work. Be flexible because your plans will change.
  • 7. Funding. Social capital is your greatest resource.

 

So, that was the Pre-Conference. Pretty awesome, huh? Stay tuned for notes from the main event!


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Why Life Should Be More Like the Olympics

MedalsI LOVE the Olympics. Follow me on Twitter during those two weeks every two years, and you’ll easily see that. I have my own commentary going the entire time. (Not sure why NBC hasn’t noticed me yet.) I’ve always loved them. Summer. Winter. It doesn’t matter what’s on, I’ll watch it. In fact, I’ll wear myself out watching it, and love every minute of it. Attending one of each is even on my bucket list.

Those statements above may not seem all that interesting and unique. You probably know someone else like me. What is funny, though, is that those are the only sports I ever watch. And I mean ever. Being from Texas originally, and from the South almost my whole life, I’m strange in my circles that I don’t like football, and frankly, I don’t even know the rules.

But the Olympics—well, they are a whole other thing entirely. I really wish life were more like the Olympics. And here are just a few reasons why:

Togetherness. For those two weeks every two years, we are #TeamUSA. Our political party, race, religion, circumstances, class, etc., don’t matter. We are all one under the red, white and blue flag. We raise our voices and cheer in unison. We celebrate together. We mourn our losses together. We’re the United States, and I’m never more proud of us.

Sportsman-like conduct. Sure, you see some ego from time-to-time. But overall, these athletes see each other year-round and have friends from other countries. So you see them not only congratulating those on their own team, but the winners from other teams. And let’s face it, no matter where you finish, if you’re good enough to be at the Olympics, you deserve a pat on the back.

United Nations. The world stops to watch the Olympics. Leaders are on their best behavior, and good will is in abundance. I even love watching the Parade of Nations in the Opening Ceremony. It’s so awesome to see athletes marching with the pride of their home country, waving to those in the stands and those back home. I think it’s the best showing of the United Nations we’ll ever see. We are one world, but we too often forget it.

Competition. I’m not one of those “everyone wins” type people. We learn when we win, and we learn more when we lose. Competition is good for us. We push ourselves harder when someone is racing us. We only know what a winner looks like when there’s something else to compare it to. Competition keeps things moving forward.

The best. The Olympic athletes are the best at what they do. And more than anything else, what they do is inspire me. I was telling a friend the other day that watching the Olympics reminds me of watching Cirque du Soliel—it’s amazing to see what the human body can do. They are incredible. I’m delighted to celebrate them.

Stories. I love the athlete profiles, learning about them, their homes, their families and friends. It doesn’t matter if they’re American or from somewhere else. Everyone has an interesting story—you, me and everyone you see on the street or on TV. It’s such a small window that we get to see into their lives, but it feels like such a privilege to witness. And…it really helps me choose who to root for. ;)

That’s why I love the Olympics, and think every day should have a touch more of that spirit. What about you?

 


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Addiction Training

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About a month ago, I and the other Out of Darkness volunteers had our first training of 2014. Heather Hayes taught on addiction, as the title suggests, and it was really fascinating. Sadly, my notes won’t do it justice, but they’ll give you a good idea of what we talked about.

  • Two arguments in addiction: choice or disease. Heather believes disease. It’s a question of causality.
  • Addiction is a brain disorder.
  • Addicts look like everyone. Recovering people look like everyone.
  • A majority of the people in prison are dealing with at least one addiction.
  • Drugs work in the midbrain, which only deals with what happens right now. It is unconscious, and can override the sensible part of your brain (frontal cortex). Fight or flight, life or death, eat or sleep, sex for procreation/survival — trauma is store here, and it is unstable because it doesn’t deal with rational thought.
  • Drugs trump all other coping mechanisms, to the point of death.
  • Abusers can stop or corral it in, addicts can’t.
  • STRESS is the causal agent in addiction. Stress factors: severity, pattern, coping mechanisms, different brains
  • Addictive people are often very sensitive, softhearted people.
  • Dopamine relieves stress through pleasure. Chronic stress breaks the receptor. Then people can’t discern normal pleasure. It isn’t as great as it once was. Drugs give a surge that’s discernable.
  • Too much natural dopamine is schizophrenic; too little is Parkinson’s.
  • Stress = Craving (can be wild or extreme)
  • Cravings keep the cycle going.
  • Frontal Cortex goes dark during addiction cycles. Rational thought is out the window.
  • People can still function in routines, but it becomes evident once out of a routine.
  • There will never be pills to cure addiction. You can treat symptoms only. You have to re-teach non-chemical coping skills for stress. It takes the brain about a year to get back to base level.
  • There is a heroine epidemic in ATL.
  • About 60% of addicts who are women have eating disorders. Also usual victims of trauma.
  • Usually a lot of crossover between substance abuse and performance abuse. (Ex: sex, food, cults, co-dependence, workaholic, gambling, porn, etc.)
  • Addition is a disregulation of the mid-brain pleasure (dopamine) systems due to unmanaged stress resulting in symptom of decrease functioning, specifically loss of control, craving and persistent use despite negative consequences.
  • 93% of addicts are functional
  • Cutting: a response to emotional pain that is focused. It can have addictive qualities. Trauma recovery must be done. Dissociative personalities are prone to self-mutilation.
  • Signs of addiction: denial, minimizing problems, blaming others, justifications/excuses, defensiveness, mood swings, changes in personality, manipulation, legal problems, financial problems, irritability, loss of pleasure, breaking promises, withdrawn or overly talkative, emotionally unstable, escalating use of chemicals
  • Coping skills: anger management, relaxation, exercise, schedule/routine, meditation, biofeedback, communication skills
  • Most people in recovery and succeeding have a spiritual component.
  • People need to hear they can overcome—and it’s true.
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