Where in the World is Samaria?

Recently I heard Brenda Salter McNeil say that Samaria is the place where you do not want to go. It’s the place where the people who you despise live. Samarians are hostile. Samaria is the place we build freeways around so we don’t have to drive through.

There are two significant passages of red letter scripture where Jesus is clear as newly washed glass windows regarding a place called Samaria and a people group called Samarians.

The first is the all too famous story of Jesus` encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. Jesus is fully present with the woman at the well. He goes straight to her heart and penetrates her deepest well of her soul. The Samaritan woman is then quick to determine Jesus is who he says he is. Jesus is a credible witness to her in her life.

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Grace, Love & Murder?

Grace, Love & Murder?

May 20, 2011

Christian Buckley  

Some questions, or rather problems, are too big for my head to get around.  I try my hardest to work through and dissect them – but my mind just gives out.  It is like when you ask an old computer to do too many things at the same time and it just locks up and stares at you with indignation.  That’s what happens to me when I try to figure out something like how Grace, Love, and Murder  - a specific murder – fit together. Brain lock. 

A couple of preface notes to what follows are in order. 

--     This is a horrible post and will unsettle you – I hope – assuming you have a soul.

--      I, unlike I would venture to say 99.9999% of you, have first hand deep experience in this topic.  I go to death row in California every couple of months because I represent men there who have murdered people.  That work takes me through dark places, lives, and realities I didn’t know existed and still wish I didn’t.  That doesn’t make me special – it just gives you some background and probably gives me a different view of the topic.

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Can Congregational Churches be Missional?

Can congregational churches be missional? Mark Driscoll, in a newish audio clip of a Q&A session with Driscoll in Belfast, Ireland (click here to open the MP3). What do we think of Driscoll's answer? Does he offer any legitimate reason for thinking that congregational churches will struggle to be missional? Does he understand what a congregational government even is? Take a minute and reflect on the response to Driscoll by noted Baptist theologian, a professor of theology at St. Andrews (St. Andrews, Scotland), and an advocate of congregational churches that are missional. 

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Advocating For Orphans As Busy Moms

Today I will be leading a panel at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit about how to be an advocate as a busy mom.  I’m already feeling inspired by the things that busy moms have done.  Yesterday morning I went to a session on the socio-political aspects of adoption, and I heard the story of McLane Layton, a mom who adopted three children from Easter Europe only to discover that her children did not get citizenship after being adopted.  She started lobbying that adopted children be treated as relatives instead of as immigrants, and in 2000 helped put together the Child Citizenship Act.

I heard the story of another mom who was in the process of adopting 9 siblings from the Philipinnes, only to find out that an error made in the Hague Convention prohibited the adoption on siblings over age 16.  In the sibling set she was trying to adopt, two children were over 16. She contacted her senator and they worked to ratify this point.

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Taunt not the foe (a response to a death)

Taunt  not the foe
perceived or otherwise
taunt not the monster
with the cold blood heart
slain villains
felled cretans
murdered murderers
may have well deserved what came
but life is life
and her violent end
though justified
cannot be celebrated 

Death & The Neo-Politics of Bad Guys in Post 9/11 America

So, what do we celebrate when a social villain is killed? I got the news on my phone while I was running around Chuck E Cheese (A local video/ mini-amusement restaurant) with my four year old: Osama Bin Laden Dead; Killed by U.S. Forces. My initial reaction was nothing. What could I feel? A man, who had allegedly done all these horrific things to our country, was now killed. What did that mean to me? Not a damn thing. During the Vietnam war era, hundreds of African Americans carried signs that stated: No Vietnamese Ever Called Me A Nigger!” I have to, in context, say the same thing in regards to Bin Laden: What did he do to me? The nine police officers that brutally murdered friends of mine during the late 80’s are still alive—and well I might add. The police officers that shot and killed a bi-polar elderly African American man because he wouldn’t come down off his roof are still alive and were never brought to trial. The people and entities who brought crack cocaine into my neighborhood and addicted millions for decades to come…are still alive. Therefore, what should I celebrate? The death of an entity? That ideology is still very much alive and well. Moreover, part of that ideology was created in the “heat of passion” when the U.S. was making love with members of guerilla Afghans who would in turn, kill the infidel Soviet Union soldiers, so that we could avoid World War III during the late 70’s and early 80’s and still flex our military muscle—using Bin Laden and his merry men as grunts.
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When the Will of God is Scary

True or false? “God yearns to rescue people so that they know God is good.”

Awhile back I visited a mini conference in the Los Angeles area with Gary Haugen as the speaker. Gary Haugen is founder and president of International Justice Mission, a DC based organization that works in a number of countries to combat slavery and ultimately wipe it out completely.

Immediately following the quote above, Gary said, “We are called to help rescue people.” I agree with Gary. As I continue to seek in the Bible what God would have of me in this life, I am more and more convinced that it is the work of justice. In fact, God doesn’t even want my offering and worship to him if I’m not obeying his commands to care and serve those in need. Read Isaiah 58 and you'll see what I mean.

Would Jesus Use a Plastic Water Bottle?

Would Jesus Use a Plastic Water Bottle?

(I know -- not possible – but just go along with me…)

One of my good friends runs the Surfrider Foundation (Jim Moriarty – you can find interviews with him on this blog) and he has been on the disposable water bottle issue for years.  In fact, ever since I met him he has been an advocate for stopping the use of single use plastics.  I agree.  Surfrider recently published this page that gives a pretty good explanation of why.


But I got to thinking about whether Jesus would have used a plastic water bottle or a snazzy SIGG aluminum jug.  The short answer is there is no way of knowing, but I had a couple of stray thoughts:

  1. Jesus seemed to like nature (His nature) quite a bit.  He lived in it, taught in it, and used it as the subject of many of his parables.  He really did think a lot of it.  Strike against single use water bottles that pretty much do nothing good for nature.
  2. Jesus was a minimalist.  He didn’t carry a heavy load around and it appears he may have been one of the first hyper-light backpackers.  So a reusable bottle would probably have been a good thing.  Why would he want to carry a case of water every day?
  3. Jesus did like new wine skins.  Not really on point, but kind of a funny thought.
  4. Jesus was more interested in pure water (the living kind) than lots of water (see 40 days in the barren waste land).
  5. Jesus never really supported the idea of destruction – except for himself as the temple.
  6. Jesus did not like wasting his time and it seems like making lots of bottles to hold water and then making them over and over and over again because we use them once and toss them is a big waste of time.
  7. Jesus cared more about people than stuff – even nature – so that probably cuts in favor of a single use bottle if that is all they had around.
  8. Jesus walked on water – not an island of plastics in the middle of the Sea of Galilee.
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God's Plan for Justice is You

When I was 19, I wanted to work at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Ca. My aunt, who was an employee at the time and still is today, allowed me to put her name down as a referral on my application. She even made a phone call on my behalf to the casting department which helped me get an interview and eventually led to employment as a cast member of the magic kingdom. (After working there for awhile, the magic kingdom morphs into the tragic kingdom).


Since it was her referral that got me the job, I wanted to be a good, dependable worker so that her referral was not made in vain. If I had been a lazy, unreliable worker, one, I would have made my aunt look bad and two, the casting department could have lost trust in her abilities to bring on good workers to the resort. My actions had a direct relation to her reputation as my referral.

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God and natural disasters

Of all the types of suffering we see in the world, sometimes the most difficult to comprehend is the tragedy of natural disasters. With the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we are once again reminded that nature has the power to unleash unimaginable destruction, causing loss of life and suffering on a scale that’s difficult to comprehend.

You can’t help but feel a sense of helplessness when such disasters occur. Because their origin comes from this planet we call home, we all feel the sting when the earth convulses. And we wonder: Can we trust this life-giving sphere that is usually so good to us? It all seems rather capricious, especially when those who are least able to handle the terrestrial smack of earthquakes, typhoons, and floods are often hit the hardest.

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