Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Originally posted as a Facebook note:

1. I should be ashamed to do this game because I already have a blog, in which I write about my life and people I know, and am starting to get articles about me and Anawim, but obviously I am so self-absorbed that I think talking about me more is fun.

2. I once drove from Los Angeles to Minneapolis in 30 hours straight to go to a missions conference.

3. I have visited Bangladesh and Calcutta twice and Bangladesh is my favorite place to be.

4. I read Bible commentaries and mystery novels for fun.

5. I recently hosted a pretty successful discussion about pornography on a philosophy forum.

6. I was raised a non-Christian, became a fundamentalist evangelical at 13 and am now a Mennonite pastor.

7. My wife, Diane, is my best friend, and she always was from the time we were 16. I know that seems so clicheish, but it's really true.

8. I really enjoy hanging out with homeless people, and one of my highlights of every week is going to Gresham to feed and fellowship with the homeless folks on Saturdays.

9. I would NEVER have gotten a cell phone, but Gordon Smith made me get one. Then he stuck me with the monthly bill. And now, everytime he sees me he calls me "yuppie" BECAUSE I have a cell phone. Great injustice!

10. I love mind-bending movies and I love animated movies-- especially anime. So Paprika and Spirited Away are two of my most favorite movies of all time!

11. I cut my hair once a year, every August.

12. My friend, Jack, kisses me on the cheek every time he greets me and it CREEPS ME OUT. But it's biblical "Greet one another with a holy kiss" so I put up with it with a smile.

13. Everyone born into the Kimes Family is pig-headed, and I certainly share this trait. However, I use it for the Lord :-)

14. My body has, for some unknown reason, stopped producing testosterone. So, if I stop my regimine of vitamins or hormone replacement therapy (read: shots) every week and a half, then I become a grumpy old man.

15. I have eighteen blogs that I started, two FB causes, four places I post regularlly, twitter updates, and two websites. I like to write.

16. I took three years of Koine (New Testament) Greek, and am working on a translation similar to Clarence Jordan's "Cotton Patch" translation. Not because I'm a Greek scholar (I'm not) but because I think that most translations are just too stuffy (KJV) or too wildly innaccurate (The Message). And because I think most of us misunderstand what the NT really says because we aren't in the culture or context.

17. I eat a small handful of peanut M&M's every night.

18. I believe the Bible teaches that only the poor and.or outcast will enter God's kingdom

19. God told me to quit my job and work full time with the homeless in 1996. I argued with Him about it for months before I actually did it.

20. Diane and I homeschool our children. Ian just went to public school for the first time last year.

21. At one point (this last year) we had 16 people total living in our house, many of them formerlly homeless folks. Yet we didn't kill each other! (That number has reduced since then)

22. I worked at a book binder for five years.

23. One of my studies in high school and college was sign language, and I was an interpreter for the deaf for ten years. My children are facinated with my habit of fingerspelling random words I see or hear and always want to know what I am spelling. I don't usually know by the time they ask three seconds later.

24. It has been my ideal the last 24 years to be a minister to and of the poor. Ministering to the homeless and mentally ill in the U.S. AS a sometimes-homeless and sometimes-mentally ill person wasn't ever my specific plan, however.

25. There is nothing in my life more important than Jesus-- not in some sappy, distant-but-almost-romantic way, but finding out how He lived in the gospels and trying to live that way myself in the midst of a church that is so far distant from the life and teachings of Jesus. I don't just love Jesus, I want to be like Him in every way possible, while still being myself.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Parable of the Model Christian

Andy Wade wrote on the Anawim:Radicals for Jesus cause on Facebook:

In the parable of the man who fell among theives Jesus redefined for us who our neighbors are - anyone we encounter who is in need. I'm challenged when I think about how I pamper myself; my needs, my wants. But what about the least of these? Oh, how I love myself while tossing leftovers to those in need.

I used to laugh, then cringe, when I heard stories of people sending used tea bags to missionaries. Now I'm caught wondering, "What are the used tea bags I'm offering the poor and homeless, my neighbors?" It's not about solving problems for people in need, it's about understanding that our humanity, our lives, are wrapped up with each other.

As I feast on Starbucks coffee and fresh scones, what shall I offer the one who gave me the bread of life and springs of living water? Used tea bags and a little stale bread? To cheapen my offering is to forsake the one who died for me. To offer my leftovers to those in need only produces spiritual malnutrition.

What do you think?

Once there was a wonderful Christian who loved his family, prayed daily and read the Bible frequently. He was wise and frugel and didn't waste money unnecessarily, taking care to save it up for a rainy day. Nevertheless, he didn't neglect his responsibility for the poor and needy. He would give out the socks that he couldn't wear anymore to the people on the street. He would give out the clothes that were so out of fashion that they were laughable to the Salvation Army. He would give watery broth and stale bread to the local soup kitchen. And he knew he was in favor with God, for he had done what Jesus wanted him to.

Then he died and he truly did enter Jesus' kingdom, for he was truly a good man at heart and loved Jesus. Jesus welcomed him with a hug and said, "Well, let's get down to it! I'll show you where you're going to live." And Jesus brought him to a cardboard shack. The man looked disapointed, so Jesus said, "Come in, I've got a feast waiting for you!" On the broken table inside the shack was a bowl of watery broth and stale bread. "And I have some clothes for you!" Jesus showed him his bed of newspaper and on it were the unfashionable clothes he had discarded to the poor.

In whatever we give to the poor, that is what we give to Jesus.

Whatever we give to Jesus, that is what we will live with for eternity.

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven."

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Discussion on MennoDiscuss:

Here's my understanding: if you have a spouse, you should be faithful to your spouse. (I'm leaving out discussion of the exception clauses in Matthew to simplify discussion here.)

Some people here seem to believe that if a divorced person marries another, while the original spouse is still living, the new marriage doesn't really count as a marriage. They encourage a person in that situation to get out of the marriage they are in and attempt to reconcile with the original spouse.

I don't see that as biblical. Here's why.

When Jesus teaches against divorce, he does not say that divorce is OK as long as it isn't your first marriage. Divorcing your second spouse doesn't heal your first divorce. If you divorce again, that's just adding another divorce to your tally.
In Deuteronomy 24, if you marry another, you aren't allowed to come back to your first spouse. The original marriage has been broken. And practically speaking, the odds of reconciliation after one partner has married are very, very small.
In Matthew 5 and Matthew 19, adultery comes from getting married to another person, which breaks the first marriage. In German, the word for adultery is Ehebruch, "marriage-breaking", and I think that's a biblical understanding. Once you marry another, you are one flesh with your current spouse, you have broken your first marriage.
When Jesus refers to remarriage adultery, it's getting married to another, not the state of being married thereafter. That's what "marries another" means. I know some people suggest that it doesn't mean this in the original Greek, but I've looked pretty carefully at the Greek, it really does refer to marrying another.

Some of y'all clearly disagree with me. Can you explain why? If someone has married another, what good can come of divorcing your current spouse, and how would that divorce be a sign of following the call of Jesus to not divorce?


Matthew 5: 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,’ 32 but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery.

Note that Jesus says nothing about first marriages vs. second marriages here, putting away your wife is wrong.

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man takes a wife, and marries her, then it shall be, if she find no favor in his eyes, because he has found some unseemly thing in her, that he shall write her a bill of divorce, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2 When she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.
3 If the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorce, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, who took her to be his wife;
4 her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before Yahweh: and you shall not cause the land to sin, which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance.

Note that once you remarry, going back to the original spouse is not an option.

I think that ignoring the exception clause in Matthew is a grave mistake.

Becuse that exception clause gives us a hint as to God's idea of marriage. Divorce, Jesus is clearly saying, does not break the marriage commitment. When a person is divorced, the vows of marriage still stand. Otherwise, it could not be adultery for a person to get married after divorce. This is one of the errors we often see in our Christian culture, because most people think a marriage is broken after divorce, but Jesus clearly says that it is not.

However, the exception clause teaches us something else. That adultery DOES break a marriage. Why does Jesus give the exception clause? Since divorce doesn't break a marriage, divorce can only make sense IF THE MARRIAGE IS ALREADY BROKEN. Thus, adultery is the act that revokes the marriage. Of course, forgiveness can be offered and the vows renewed, but adultery breaks the marriage.

Thus, remarriage is only problematic if adultery has not taken place. But if it has, the old covenant is broken and remarriage is possible.

If there is adultery and a marriage is broken, then a person gets remarried. If they separate from the second spouse to return to the first, it is not a restoration of the original marriage-- it is breaking another vow in order to commit adultery again!

Thus, how I read what Jesus is saying, it is sin to break a marriage at all. But it is continuing the same crime to break a second marriage to try to retore the first.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

I noted that Von posted an interesting comment on another post-- Yes, of course it was Von-- but I'd like to continue the discussion of that here.

He said that he believed that Scripture guides us in all things. I take from the context of that statement that he believes that Scripture will give us wisdom or guidance in all situations. I am willing to be corrected on that, Von.

Just to get the ball rolling, I have to say that I strongly disagree.

While Scripture gives us specific commands on some issues and general principles on others, there are some situations that Scripture doesn't really talk about.

Should I take my children to see the new Narnia movie? (I dislike them, by the way) Let's see, the Narnia movies depict children in war situations, which doesn't really go well with "Love your enemies" and Scripture commands me to "Train your children in the righteousness of the Lord." On the surface, it looks like I shouldn't. However, I also have the freedom to take them to the movie and then explain to them afterwards what the Lord would say about it.

Should I homeschool my children or send them to public school? Should I celebrate Christmas in a Jesus way, or ignore the holiday? Should I take in this homeless person off the street or offer them money? There is wisdom that could be given in all of these situations, but the Scripture isn't specific about any of them.

Rather, the Scripture says that it isn't the Scripture that would guide us into all truth but the Spirit. The Scripture gives us guidelines and principles and commands-- all of which we should follow. But the Spirit helps us know how we should apply them to specific contexts.

Not As Easy as 3.14

Originally posted on the "End Homelessness" blog in In response to a post about how getting more housing will end homelessness and a response to that which says that homeless people don't get jobs and so want to be homeless:

1. No one chooses homelessness, at least at first. People are forced to be homeless because they can no longer live at home or because they are forced out of their home. Then they find the homeless community and find that there really is a decent life on the street. Uncomfortable, and an outcast community, but people can often find more family on the street than in a home.

2. Part of the problem is labor. Not just getting a job-- which is almost impossible for a homeless person-- but maintaining it once they get it. If a person is mentally ill they often can't fill out the necessary paperwork and have social problems that create catch-22 situations. If a person is an addict, the last kind of situation we want them to be in is to be in a highly stressed situation with a bunch of money in their pockets-- talk about a recipe for furthering addiction! And for the rest of the homeless, they, for one reason or another, can't work 40 hours a week on a continual basis. It's not a matter of laziness-- trust me, you can't be homeless and lazy, it takes a lot of work-- it's a matter of doing the kind of work people ask folks to do. Not everyone can fill out paperwork and work in four hour blocks with a small break afterwards.

3. Getting housing alone isn't the answer. No matter how much housing there is, the community of homeless that our society has created isn't going to do it. Some people have been on the street long enough that they get claustrophobic in an apartment. Others are so connected to their community, they have a moral requirement to invite all of their addict friends into the apartment with them. Others literally scream in their sleep from past trauma, causing problems for neighbors.

I'm not saying the situation is hopeless. I'm saying it's complicated and no simple solution will solve the reality of an outcast community in our midst. It requires acceptance more than organization, relationship more than politics.

Labor and Support

An email returned to a long lost friend, Nadja:

It seems that every culture has their own blind spots. In Germany, it seems, it's education. In the U.S., it's labor. There is a standard way of doing labor in the U.S.-- find an employer, work for them 40 hours a week and then you can get a place to live, etc. If you don't work that much, then you can't make enough money to rent a place, and no one will rent to anyone anymore unless they have a job (or some government help). But there are so many people who don't qualify for government assistance and yet can't work 40 hours a week. And that's the category most homeless people find themselves in. They can't do the labor our society expects as a minimum, and then they are forced to be outlaws because cities declare homelessness illegal.

As to why you have the "turning over tables" syndrome? I went through that myself when I was really struggling with life and stuff a few years ago. I felt so desperately lonely, as if Diane and I were going through it all alone. And no one cared about what I saw or did or the people I cared about. I can honestly say that no one was praying for the people we were praying for. No one cared about them. We just felt so isolated. But for me, anyway, a lot of it was a hormone imbalance. Probably caused by overwork. And, honestly, a lack of support. We have more support now than we have ever had. And I feel more confident and assured than ever before. It's strange, really. I have been so used to going it alone, blazing a trail no one wanted to follow, that I feel like an administrator now, which is really out of my league. I'd much rather cook for a hundred people myself than to gather five people to do it for me. But part of the ministry, now, is providing people with opportunities to serve God. I really believe that working for God is a part of our salvation, whether we are wealthy or on the street. So I look for work for people to do. But who made me a delegator? This is not the job I wanted! Actually, I never DID get the job I wanted. Oh well, just going through the flow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Disaster Averted

This was written for the PNMC Evangel

The problems begin because Portland is a relatively warm city. It rests in the Willamette Valley, and though the winds from the Columbia River Gorge often blow through it, by the time they reach Portland proper, they have died down considerably. This draws a number of the homeless to live in Portland, and those who grew up in the city who become homeless have no real reason to leave. Thus, Portland has about two thousand homeless people, as an estimated average.

So when Portland has almost a month of snow and temperatures in the teens, it may seem like a small thing to those outside the city who deal with such weather all the time, but in Portland, this is a crisis. The city was ill prepared to deal with such weather. As was the homeless. While the far majority of homeless have semi-permanent resting spot at night, prepared with tarps and sleeping bags, no one was ready to deal with layers of snow and ice with a drop of temperature to 15 degrees.

However, at the end of the crisis period, it is reported by the Portland Tribune that only one homeless person died during this season. And the main ones who averted a potential disaster in Portland are the churches. One of the many churches assisting the needy was Anawim Christian Community.

Right at the beginning of the bad weather, “warming stations” were opening up in churches. One of the largest churches in the metro area, Portland Foursquare, opened up their doors during the coldest nights to more than 200 homeless folks a night. Anawim also opened up a warming shelter in Gresham, on the east side of Portland, before any other warming centers were open for non-families on that side of town. John, a homeless teen in Gresham, reported, “If it weren’t for the church opening, I would have died that night!”

When many churches were closing down services, Anawim remained open. On the Sunday before Christmas, Victory Chapel, a local congregation, traveled through the icy snow to Anawim to serve a Christmas meal of turkey, potatoes and gravy. They provided warm socks and eight hour hand warmers to the forty people who came.

There were near disasters as well. Jerry, one of the homeless in Anawim, was checked into Providence Hospital for a spine surgery. A few days after his surgery, he was sent to a recovery center in a building providing housing for those on the street. However, he wasn’t offered help when he asked for someone to close the windows with the snow coming onto his bed. In his post-operative delirium, he took a number of pain pills and walked out the door. He was found by the police two and a half miles away, trying to dig a shelter out of a snow bank with his walker. The police brought him to Emanuel Hospital, where he is being cared for.

Another member of Anawim, Paul, was trying to get to a warming center, when he had a seizure due to a sudden stop of his usual amount of alcohol, and fell headlong into a snow bank. His friend, Rich, was there and called 911. Paul spend some time in a rehabilitation center and now he is healthy and ready to get on with his life.

The homeless were protected through this crisis because God led his Spirit to stir up the people of Jesus to have compassion. It wasn’t easy for these believers to take extra time amidst the difficulty the weather presented everyone, but with God’s power and the compassion of Christ, lives were saved and a disaster was averted.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Protecting Children

Posted originally in MennoDiscuss, concerning taking precautions for children who might get sexually approached on the internet.

I think that Stoltz' warning is a good one. He is not talking about a present danger, RP, but a potential one. One that exists not just on MD, but everywhere-- parks, public school, homeschool (a Mennonite couple I know who homeschooled their kids, their one son molested his sister), play dates, etc, etc.

What I do to help protect my kids-- we can't protect them from EVERYTHING, but we can take wise safeguards-- is the following:
a. to give them a descent education about sexuality as soon as they are old enough to comprehend it,
b. to keep a parental eye on them as much as possible, and to check on them regularly
c. to observe them while online, as much as possible and keeping their online activity in a public area where it is constantly observed.

At the same time, once a child is old enough to make their own decisions and to safeguard themselves, I feel I must give them freedom, if they feel ready for it.

Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Originally published on the interesting stuff blog:


There is no background. There is no foreground. Everything is equal in reality. We are just as important as everyone else. And they are just as important as us. We are not staring in our own autobiographical movie. Everyone is all together in a Robert Altman film, yet we all think we are the star. What we haven't figured out yet is that there ARE NO STARS. There's only us.
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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Who We Are in Negativity


When we surrender ourselves to our rage, our bitterness, our lust or our hatred, we are not the mature human being we pretend to be on the outside. We have become a primal self, so caught up in our emotions that we are no longer even human.

Prevent such evils by being so caught up in love that you don't have energy for such pettiness.

One Brick At A Time


Lately I've been listening to Black Heart Procession, which is a kind of spacey Pink Floyd on downers. They've got one lyric on their second album (conveniently named "2"):

change your hate cause that's your slave
turn your head from your evil ways
your church is red blood flows black from your heart
we build our temple one brick at a time

Although they are speaking figuratively, it also applies to real, live churches. If we subly encourage prejudice, separation, hatred, desire for things of the world, or living the American Dream, then we are building that church on blood.

Each church that encourages hatred or lust is a temple to Mars, a worship center for Mammon.