January 16, 2009

These last couple days, since listening to a sweet interview of Derek Webb and Donald Miller (search in the podcasts on iTunes for “Derek Webb”), I’ve been thinking about neighboring.  Beyond Jesus’ simple challenge to love my neighbor well , I find myself pondering some related questions, specifically, “Where am I from?” and “What citizenship am I living out?”  

Eight years ago, when I came to faith I stopped being a soccer player, a guitarist, or a funny, friendly guy.  In fact, that moment was so powerful, I even stopped being American.  So how do I neighbor well as a citizen of a coming Kingdom who’s law is love and who’s king is currently reigning from the clouds?  

Hanging with Students on the Ice

Skating with students last Sunday!

This summer we are looking at having at least two teams come work with us out here in Holland, and it has got me to thinking: How ought these trips express the kind of good neighboring Jesus defines in his Gospel?  How would it change my life to stop being American and start being a citizen of heaven?  Could I still get away with the bank accounts I have?  Would my home continue look the way it does?  (Don’t worry, there will be no offering taken at the end of this post.  These are strictly my own reflections as a needy, growing person)  Would I not work to overcome compassion burnout for the sake of the Kingdom?  

Every mission trip I have led or facilitated in the past has been from the sending side.  Is it odd that I should face so much more difficult questions of mission and kingdom building from this side of the telescope?  Strangely, I just might learn more this summer about the heart of Jesus and his mission than any of the people who join us.

Though we’re still in the basic planning stages, I’m excited for the teams that are coming this summer; for their ministry, for their impact and for the transformation God has waiting in store for them, here among their neighbors.  


Derek Webb provided the soundtrack that took me to the bus stop today.  The walk is becoming a familiar one as we enter our sixth week here in the Netherlands.  I’ve been listening to Derek for years, so the song was also very familiar, however this time, winding through the cold streets, I felt like I was seeing with a different perspective.

Though the song is primarily about the church I found the title track off of Derek’s first solo album “She Must and Shall Go Free” ringing in my ears as some sort of anthem of Christ calling his creation to rely on his work on their behalf.  The chorus’ “All here debt’s been cast on me, she must and shall go free” became a way for Christ to say, “Its been paid!  Simply fall on me and be broken and healed!”  To be honest it almost brought me to tears to look in the faces of the people around me.  

Its not that the buildings were dilapidated, or the people especially depraved looking.  I don’t really know if I can state it exactly, but it just seemed like a kingdom who’s king is not Christ and a system which denies the only one who ever really really loved them.  

It almost made me cry, to be honest.

Nevertheless, things continue to change here in the Netherlands and points of light seem to be peaking through the darkness.  Enjoy the following article (thanks for the link Tim!) in its full below, or follow the link here (be warned of the opening picture):

Dutch authorities have revealed details of their plans to clean up Amsterdam’s famous red light district.

They say they will close half the city’s brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes in a bid to drive organised crime from the city centre.

Council officials gave the sex industry a warning a year ago that they were going to close some brothels.

The deputy mayor of Amsterdam says the plans will stop the city being a “free zone” for criminals.

Last year the city said it wanted to close one-third of the red light district’s brothels, where scantily-clad prostitutes display themselves in shop windows.

But the new measures aim to reduce the number of sex “windows” from 482 to 243, a council spokesman said.

Amsterdam also wants to close half of the 76 marijuana shops in the city centre.

City centre ‘decay’

The city council says that some other businesses are also related to the decay of the city centre, including peep shows, sex shows, mini-supermarkets, phone and souvenir shops, and they will also be shut down.


“Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see on the surface but they are hurting people and the city. We want to fight this,” said Deputy Mayor Lodewijk Asscher.

“We can still have sex and drugs but in a way that shows the city is in control.”

Officials have set aside some 39m euros (£33m) to bring back hotels, boutiques, galleries and restaurants to the area.

‘Tolerant and crazy’

The plans come just days after a national ban on hallucinogenic or “magic mushrooms” from shops known as Smart Shops.

The BBC’s correspondent in the Netherlands, Geraldine Coughlan, says the latest plans go much further than had been expected.

Critics say the crackdown in Amsterdam is the latest example of a hardening of the traditional liberal Dutch approach to social issues including prostitution and soft drug use.

But Mr Asscher said that the changes would be more in line with Amsterdam’s image as a “tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals”.

“It will be a place with 200 windows (for prostitutes) and 30 coffee shops, which you can’t find anywhere else in the world – very exciting, but also with cultural attractions,” he said, adding: “And you won’t have to be embarrassed to say you came.”

Prostitution will be allowed only in two areas in the district – notably De Wallen, a web of streets and alleys around the city’s medieval retaining dam walls.

The area has been a centre of prostitution for hundreds of years.

Prostitution was legalised in the Netherlands in 2000, formalising a long-standing tolerance.

Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but prosecutors will not press charges for possession of small amounts. Coffee shops are able to sell it openly. 

It says there are indications that some red light businesses serve as a cover for organised crime, including drugs and the trafficking of women.

A Little Reminder…

September 10, 2008

Scan the web some time with “McCain” “Obama” “vote” or any plethora of presidential terms and your bound to find yourself knee deep in the slog that is the lead-up to November’s election.  Lest we find ourselves looking for saviors in the midst of the mudslinging, I thought we could all use a little reminder from artist Derek Webb.  “We’ll never have a savior up on capitol hill.”

“Savior on Capitol Hill”

By Derek Webb

I’m so tired of these mortal men
with their hands on their wallets and their hearts full of sin
scared of their enemies, scared of their friends
and always running for re-election
so come to DC if it be thy will
because we’ve never had a savior on Capitol Hill

you can always trust the devil or a politician
to be the devil or a politician
but beyond that friends you’d best beware
’cause at the Pentagon bar they’re an inseparable pair
and as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills
we’ll never have a savior on Capitol Hill

all of our problems gonna disappear
when we can whisper right in that President’s ear
he could walk right across the reflection pool
in his combat boots and ten thousand dollar suit

you can render unto Caesar everything that’s his
you can trust in his power to come to your defense
it’s the way of the world, the way of the gun
it’s the trading of an evil for a lesser one
so don’t hold your breath or your vote until
you think you’ve finally found a savior up on Capitol Hill

(Watch a video of a live performance here)

Yes, David Crowder Remedy is coming.  And no Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain, we do not expect you to bring it–but thanks for trying anyway. There is One who is coming, and he says that he is coming soon: “Amen!  Come Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)

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