I Am Josue

I often think of Mrs. P, my first-grade teacher.  She was a sweet lady, at least as far as I could tell.  I don’t remember her saying very much, only kids running around yelling, tipping over desks and chairs and a girl named Kathy who  barked and bit kids on the leg during class.  It was a pretty wild scene.  One of our favorite games was to steal Mrs. P's stapler that she tried so hard to hide and staple each other anywhere we could.  As for me, I liked science and sword fighting.  And I still have a pencil lead from a sword fight with Steven Adams stuck in my hand.  What I remember most is being filled with energy and craving contact.

I loved to hurl my body at things especially the floor. 

Beyond that, school was pretty boring. Reading was boring.  Math was boring.  Sitting at a desk among rows of other desks while Mrs. P talked and pointed on her overhead projector was boring.  My teachers thought I was impaired.  In fact, one day Mrs. E, my special ED reading teacher threw her book down in exasperation and exclaimed: "Brian, you are the stupidest boy I've ever seen!"  My mother was pretty angry about that.  I didn't quite understand all the hoopla.  Reading was boring, and I couldn't have cared less about Jane and her dumb dog Spot.   I never saw Mrs. E after that.

One day Mrs. P put her head down on her desk and started sobbing.  No one knew why.  So they took her away.  I never saw or heard from her again either.  I never gave any of this much thought until I was older.  Now that I am an adult and have  suffered my share of pain my heart hurts for them, and I wonder what was the cause of their pain?

My life as a six-year-old was in retrospect, a hyperactive mental fog.  Only I didn't know I was in a fog.  I didn't know that I was hyperactive either.  It just felt right to run around crashing into things and laughing until my belly hurt.

Getting in trouble for it wasn't fun.

I just always seemed to forget what getting in trouble was like until I was in trouble.

Even so, I did eventually learned to read on an eleventh grade level by the time I was nine, thanks that is to my mother and some books about the solar system. It turns out books about planets and stars were a lot more interesting than ones about Dick and Jane watching Spot run.

Josue is one of our special kids at the City of Refuge. He’s also one of our favorites. He is intensely friendly.

Actually, Josue is intensely intense and sometimes inappropriate. He's one of the inspirations for a recent "good touch-bad touch" class for the 4-8-year olds.

Josue loves to laugh and connect his body to people and things in impactful ways and at high speeds.

He will love you if you play with him.

But beware, he's very focused when he's in impact mode and has been known to pee at the most inopportune times. I find It's best just to smile when this happens and act as if it also happens to me. After all, urine is sterile, and a little soap takes it right out.

Shame can last a lifetime.

If you've seen our videos, then you know that Josue's mom was killed while attempting to immigrate to the United States.  That left his dad, Josue and his brother alone.  There's no social safety net in Honduras,

and single parents are often faced with choosing between working to provide for their children or keeping them safe. 

 

So they come to us.

Josue has some type of yet to be defined learning disability.

Or so they say.

What we know is that Josue is a worshipper

He's Cathy's flagging partner on "Soaking" nights and other worship times.  And If Cathy is on her knees praying then Josue probably is too.

He also loves to sing. He doesn't always get the words right, but his heart is definitely in it.

While Josue does prefer impact related types of interactions, calm tactile, kinesthetic activities can be magical too.

We've found that there's almost always a way to meet kids where they are and redirect their behavior based on their strengths instead of reacting to their negative behavior

in terms of how it makes us look or feel in the moment.

This is what opens the door to relationship and trust.  Relationship with an adult who knows and loves God is often the key to a child's future relationship with God.

There are several Honduran staff members who think that Josue does not belong here, that he'd be better served if he were in an orphanage with more kids like him.  I'm not sure if I buy that.  But then I'm not in charge, and it's not my call.  Life in Honduras is hard.

It’s a place where suffering, not success is expected.  Honduran children become strong and resilient, or they don't survive let alone thrive. 

My own approach is rooted in one of the most poignant lessons I learned as an adolescent substance abuse counselor.  That 60% of any change that takes place during treatment is the result of  relationship.  Nothing else we say or do matters apart from the connection that is established through relationship.  It’s a connection that frequently cannot be established with words alone.

More often than not what kids like Josue need is a good strong hug, one that squeezes them hard and doesn’t let go, one that says we aren’t going to give up on you

and you can not make us “unlove" you.

Some people imagine missionaries as human fire hydrants pumping Bible verses into people who never heard the gospel.

Others imagine missions as an endless activity.  The harder they are serving and the more they accomplish in the natural, the more spiritual they feel especially if the working hurts.  Still, others see it as formulaic as if we're a syllabus based curriculum.  Granted there is a time and place for all of these things, and they do serve a purpose.  But long-term missions is different and more like regular life albeit under harsher physical conditions.

For me the answer to the question; what does it take and what is it like to be a missionary lies with Josue.  I identify with Josue.  I can empathize with how he feels when he's hurling himself on the ground, when he's excited, when he's causing trouble, when he's in trouble.  I can see his heart and his love for God.  I can comprehend God's love for Josue

and in that comprehension I can understand God's love for me.

So often people arrive here with an honorable desire to serve those whom they see as worse off than themselves.  While this is often the case in the natural, Jesus exalted the poor, mother Teresa strived to identify herself with them, and the Sermon on the mount is pretty clear that the material world  is not the Kingdom.  Please don't be mistaken. I'm not saying that living in a grass hut with a dirt floor and eating worms will bring you closer to God. That would mean that leaving people to suffer is the best way to help them.  That's what Hindus and Buddhists believe.  What I'm saying is that God will bring a person closer to Himself through their identification with Him in the life, suffering, and joys of another.  Whom that person or group is is entirely up to Him.  Our job as missionaries is to know Him well enough to recognize His voice when he speaks through the life of a child here at the City of Refuge, an old man in the community, a single mother in the dump or the teenage girl next door who simply wants to stay in school. The definition and key to being a long-term missionary for me today is found in Josue.  Because at the end of the day,

I am Josue.

Pips, Probability and Presupposition

It’s been awhile since I last blogged and after writing this one I think people might be better served if it were a chapter in a book.  I guess I tend to have a lot to say.

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The most important job that I have as a missionary is not to merely fight poverty and injustice.  It is to plant seeds that lead others to Christ and pull weeds that prevent it.

This is a weed pulling post.

Ironically, while I am serving as a missionary in Honduras and sometimes facing weighty and scary things, I often find myself thinking and writing with those in mind whom we left behind.  Friends and family who will probably never even glance at this blog.  At least while I am alive. People whom I love.  People who see Jesus as just another guy and the Gospel as a lovely little fairy.  Others have rejected  Jesus and the gospel as the result of some misunderstanding or an offense. Some believe that they are Christians yet have no real idea of what that even means. Some think they are smarter.  Some are headed for significant crises. Some have gone off the cliff in the past and are headed there again.  Still, the lives and worldviews of others have drifted so far from mine that it’s nearly impossible converse on topics more in-depth than “hey how’s the weather over there.”  So I don’t.  Not because I can’t or won’t engage but because I don’t dare ask the wrong question for fear that an already strained relationship will come to a cantakerous end. Our society is fast losing the ability to debate differing worldviews with the honest truth as its goal without becoming offended at the passion of another then refusing to forgive and engage again.  Then again, I’m probably writing all this for the sake of posterity anyway.  Lord knows I would love to read the blogs of my own grandparents and great-grandparents.

'Grandpa, what's peace?'

Yeah I’m writing to my future great grandchildren which suddenly makes writing this completely worthwhile.

But before you read on let me ask you one question.

If the claims about Jesus and the Gospel were true; would you become a Christian?

There is a scene in Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” that I find particularly poignant if not eerie.  It is the scene where Pontius Pilate obviously disturbed by the decision facing him, contemplates the fate of Jesus with his wife Claudia by his side.  Claudia asks Pilot about the truth to which Pilot replies “What is “truth?”

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Sometimes it seems that money a.k.a “mammon” and those things related to it are the only real truths in this world.

I’m sure you are aware of the multitudes of financial advisors and investment opportunities online.  All are selling a product or service that usually amounts a belief in what they believe.

They always make money.

Sometimes their clients do too which compels others to hop on the proverbial moving train destined for future wealth.  The more people on the train, the more people want to jump on the train.  Funny thing is most if not all these people have no real understanding of why they are on the train.

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If they are making money, they assume they made the smart decision.  Besides, It feels more secure to ride the train with lots of other people.  I mean that many people couldn’t be wrong. Right?  The more people on the train, the faster and higher it goes until, for reasons usually only understood in hindsight, such as there were too many people on the train, it doesn’t, and everything comes crashing down. What traders call “smart money” jumps off the train with the loot while the regular people  otherwise known as “dumb money” loses badly.

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“People are destroyed for lack of knowledge”  regarding what drives markets and more importantly, themselves.

I first watched this happen with Real Estate in 2007 when I was beginning to learn about trading and markets. My friends just laughed at me and called me a “buzz kill” when I tried to pop their bubbles by warning them that money is never free, and it was crazy to buy.  You know the story. The bubble popped, and my friends rode the train with myriad others off the edge of the cliff.

 

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All markets move in three directions. Up, down and sideways.  That gives speculative currency traders a 33.3 percent chance of scoring some “Pips” (price points on a chart) without doing anything more than clicking a mouse.  “Sounds like gambling,” you say. Perhaps.

Traders gather technical and or economic fundamental evidence to form or confirm a presupposition that they hope will increase their chances of success. But presupposition is often the enemy of analysis.  As humans we tend to see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear and filter out the rest.

The ability to suspend emotion and presupposition is the key to placing a potentially successful trade.

 

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I won’t burden you with the technical details of my trading tales. I’ll simply give you the conclusions to the lessons I learned that apply to life in general.

1. You can do all the right research and gather all the proper evidence that supports your presupposition regarding a particular trade and make a fortune.

You can then repeat the same steps and lose everything you have. You can also do everything wrong and be wrong. Then repeat the same steps and make a fortune.

In the end, there is only one guarantee. There is no guarantee, just probability.

2. The most important and only things you can know, understand and control are your own emotions and cognitive biases.

 

 

 

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While they certainly didn’t like it, even sixth graders I counseled understood the reality of no guarantees. Which is another way of saying,

“sorry Dorothy but life is not fair.”

For example, the odds of safely crossing the street are relatively good, provided I look both ways and listen carefully. Still, they are never one hundred percent. Those odds decrease as I remove those safety precautions. They get awful if I take stupid risks like wearing earplugs or a blindfold. Even so, there is also no guarantee I will fail.

That’s where gambling comes in.

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Ironically human beings are predictable and easy to manipulate because we prefer moving trains that are full and we live in a world where three blindfolded people can get run over by a car, and there will still be those who want to cross the street blindfolded. They will usually focus on the fourth, the exception, not the rule, the one that didn’t get hit believing that they are like him. “That’s not reality,” you say “that’s hypothetical. Ok, I’ll give you that. But what do you think happens when an extra strong load of heroin hits the street and kills ten people in a week? Sales go up exponentially. That’s what happens. Or a subprime mortgage broker tells people he can put them in a million-dollar house today and they don’t even need a job? “Well, that’s dumb.” You say. It is. It’s also not hypothetical, and several people whom I know are betting their destinies against odds like just like these.

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In my experience, most people don’t particularly like the idea that life in the natural world is inextricably rooted in probability and that a handful of people on earth are smart enough to manipulate them into gradually surrendering all their wealth and power. People want the feeling of security even if they are not secure. So, they assemble tidbits of info that they have read or been told. They call these tidbits facts and then base their life choices on them. Which is fine if you are buying hair products, vitamins or maybe organic lettuce as the risk versus reward ratio isn’t going to be that far out of whack. But risking one’s future or that of a nation by the same method?

Alas but “What is truth?” says the king.

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Pontius Pilate had nothing against Jesus and knew He was innocent.  He could have protected Jesus but He didn’t.
Most people do their utmost to avoid Pilot’s predicament. Standing for truth can be dangerous. It’s a lot easier to jump on a passenger-filled train especially when you are pressured to so so from the very start.

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For example, if you’re a staunch conservative then you probably have conservative friends in real life and on online. You get your news from Drudge, and you might listen to FOX. If you’re a dedicated liberal, then Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post might be more your speed along with CNN and MSNBC.

Ironically it doesn’t seem to matter much that nearly all major media outlets and their narratives are controlled by about six corporations; all of whom have the same basic goal.

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Those on opposite sides of the proverbial aisle might be stupid Christian, racist, homophobic, misogynist, fascist pigs or they could be stupid God-hating, radical, communist, ANTIFA punks depending on your side

or should I say, tribe?

This bias, whichever bias it may, be is further confirmed in conversations among peers who agree with each other. They call this agreement consensus and pretend that consensus implies truth. Rarely does anyone in an opposing camp respectfully discuss or present evidence for their viewpoint. Rarely does anyone know or understand the history or philosophy of democracy, socialism, communism, fascism or free market economics let alone subjects like, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity or Atheism. They only know what they have been taught. They only know what they have been told. What they have been taught is right. What they haven’t been taught is wrong.  Nine times out of ten neither side has a clue about the reasoning, if it exists at all, of the other.  Sort of like when I hear Christian friends passionately declare that “Buddha isn’t God!” Thanks, guys. The Buddhists know that.  Or non Christian claims that Christians are evil because of what so called Christians did in the crusades.  Some people also think Adolf Hitler was a Christian because he liked to quote Romans 13.  But Hitler was an occultist. The Knights Templar were too. Like I said people generally only believe what they have been taught.

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Think I’m exaggerating? Answer this.

Is the earth flat or round?

Now tell me why you believe whatever you believe without basing your argument on something you’ve read, seen on TV or been told. Hmmm…
If you like this mental Rubik’s Cube sort of thing and are a glutton for punishment, you might listen to some of the flat earth theories on YouTube. For the record, I am not a flat “earther.” I’m not sure I can give a reasonable explanation according to the criteria above.  But don’t be stupid!  It’s round! Ok?!

That said, I am impressed with the flat “earthers” ability to provide evidence for what they believe.

I have similar respect for Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, and some Atheists. I have less of this type of respect for some of my so called Christian brethren.  And oh yeah, ANTIFA.

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I like science a lot too. Not the pop culture version of those who say,

“I don’t believe in God, I believe in science.”

'No, this is its nucleus, not its cell phone.'

Sorry guys. Science is a method. God is an entity. Science is a way of gathering evidence and arriving at a theory of what might be true based on the evidence at hand. Science is by definition, never settled. Hence the earth that Al Gore convinced so very many was about to burst into flames due to an over abundance of atmospheric tree foodar124649772288326

may actually be cooling unless of course you think it’s warming. None of us knows for sure and those who say they believe in science really only believe in scientists.  That said, it sure feels like Al Gore’s breath in Honduras right now.  Turns out time frames and locations matter in climate science as well as trading and they can really fudge your analysis too.

But I’m getting off track.

For the record;  I’m not a fossil fuel fan.

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In fact, I think we should plant more trees, and everything should be solar powered. I just happened to know about  the derivative based Chicago Carbon Exchange and the humongous wealth consolidating trade that old Al was creating for himself and his friends.

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Sorry Al. Actually I’m not that sorry.

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That said, even the assumption that light holds the speed record in all of creation at 186,000 miles per second upon which much of our initial understanding of quantum physics is rooted, is now in question.

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And gravity? We still don’t know what the heck that stuff is.

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One week it’s dark matter the next is the graviton and the next there is no gravity because we are living inside a computer program. In every case, people present convincing arguments. And every time the tidbit gatherers gather their tidbits,  and present them as facts. Sometimes the “facts” seem true and others who want to be in the know jump on the moving train. The only thing we know for sure despite the efforts of physicists at CERN is that no one has ever seen dark matter or a graviton or even the devoutly worshipped

God Particle.

 

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As for the computer program theory; I think I saw a movie about that once.

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I actually prefer that one because a computer program implies a computer creator and a computer programmer. And besides, it supports my presuppositions about existence. Why?! Because I think it’s true that’s why!! Back off!! What are you some liberal God-hater?
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I’m sure you get the point.

 

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Lots of people swear by the theory of macroevolution too even though it is easily proven that “macro,” not to be confused with “micro” evolution is not science. The fossil record has yet to confirm what Charles Darwin said must be established if his theory of the origin of species is correct. And the idea that life could merge from primordial slime is not even mathematically possible let alone scientifically probable.

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Yet millions, if not billions, of people, hold onto these presuppositions as indisputable facts. They are not. In fact, many of them require a lot more faith than do the claims of Christianity.

Can I prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true? Of course not.

But neither can anyone else confirm that it is not. This a point is frequently missed in your normal “I believe in science” versus a supernatural God debate.  In the end, it, all comes down to faith. Faith in one’s presuppositions and the probability of their accuracy. The truth is that most of us are just looking for something  real to believe in.  Because at the end of the day our natural lives here on earth are rooted in chance, pure probability, a proverbial roll of the dice.

As I see it, the only real game changer would have to be a supernatural one.

Stay tuned or maybe tune out if this bores you. I’ll be planting seeds more than pulling weeds in subsequent posts and presenting the evidence that supports my own presuppositions and experience regarding the reality of an awesome and all loving supernatural God.

Be blessed