Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This is how I feel

This is a song called Aleluya (click to listen) that I wrote and posted about a month ago. It really describes how I have been feeling in the midst of this year. I hope you enjoy it! Cheers, Mateo

Thursday, November 09, 2006


"Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called….

Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called — the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ."

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Did not our hearts burn within us?

Here is a great post by Jacob about the road to Emmaus. It served as the basis for our discussion at church this past weekend.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Swainlife Highlights

(1)This past weekend I ran in a 12K race here in SdC. It was my first time ever participating in a race. I finished in 58 minutes. (2)On Saturday we took the girls to the house of one of their friends from school for a Birthday Party. (3)Last Thursday the cafe launched the new web page with a party and web quiz. Thanks again to Andrew Cooper for making this possible! (4)The girls being cute before school one morning! (5&6)Jacob and I went to Ribedeo to catch up with our IT advisor Rick Knox. We also had a chance to see the yellow house below that that a Dutch group is planning on restoring to turn it into a spiritual retreat center.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ministry Travels at the Speed of Life

I found this post on an old blog of mine that I let die. I still agree with what I said:

Life does not really slow down or pause to give us a chance to "do" ministry. Ministry takes place in the midst of everyday life and everyday conversation. Ministry happens in the midst of work, school, washing dishes etc... It is not some "other" thing or something that we do on the side kind of like some kind of hobby. Ministry is something that does or does not happen in the midst of every relationship we have. I often sit back and ask myself,"Am I keeping up or am I letting life pass me by?"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bible Geek T-shirt Contest Winner

Jonah Bailey is the official winner of the Bible Geek T-shirt contest and will receive an original handmade t-shirt. His equation "YHWH + Lord (Adonai) = Jehovah" is a correct literal translation of the Hebrew symbols and below is an explaniation of why.

The Name of God

"At some point along the way-It's hard to be sure historically when exactly this happened- the ancient Israelites came to know their God by a special name.

This name was regarded as so special, so holy, that by the time of Jesus, and perhaps for some centuries before that, they were not allowed to say it out loud. (One exception was made: the high priest, once a year, would pronounce God's special name in a place called the Holy of Holies at the heart of the Temple.) Since Hebrew script only used consonants, we can't even be sure how the name was meant to be pronounced: the consonants are YHWH, and the best guess we have at how the were pronounced is "Yahweh." Orthodox Jews to this day won't speak this name; they often refer to God simply as "the Name," HaShem. Neither will they write it. Sometimes they write even the generic word "God" as "G-d," to make the same point.

Like most ancient names, YHWH had a meaning. It seems to have meant "I am who I am" or "I will be who I will be." This God, the name suggests, can't be defined in terms of anything or anyonelse. It isn't the case that there is such a thing as "divinity" and that he's simply another example, even the supreme one, of this category. Nor is it the case that all things that exist, including God, share in something we might call "being" or "existence," so that God would then be the supremely existing being. Rather, he is who he is. He is his own category, not part of a larger one. That is why we can't expect to mount a ladder of arguments from our world and end up in his, anymore than we might expect to mount a ladder of moral achievement and end up making ourselves good enough to stand in his presence.

With God's name the is another confusion which we must sort out. Because God's personal name was not to be spoken, the ancient Israelites developed a technique for avoiding doing so when reading their scriptures. When they came to the word YHWH, they would say ADONAI (which means "my LORD") instead. As a way of reminding themselves that this was what they had to do, they would sometimes write the consonants of YHWH with the vowels of ADONAI. This confused some later readers, who tried to say the two words together. With a bit of a stretch (and because some letters were interchangeable, including Y with J and W with V), they created the hybrid JEHOVAH. No ancient Israelite or early Christian would have recognized this word.

Almost all English translations of the Old Testament have continued the practice of discouraging people from pronouncing God's personal name. Instead, when the word occurs, it is normally translated "the Lord." Sometimes this is written in small capitals, as in "the LORD." This is doubly confusing, and anyonewho wants to understand what Judaism, let alone Christianity, believes about God had better get their mind around the problem.

From the very early times (indeed, according to the Gospels, since Jesus's own lifetime) Christians have referred to Jesus himselfas "the Lord." In early Christian speech this phrase carried at least three meanings: (a) "the master," "The one whose servants we are," "the one we've promised to obey"; (b) "the true Lord" (as opposed to Caesar, who claimed the same title); and (c) "the Lord"-that is, YHWH- as spoken of in the Old Testament. All these meanings are visible in Paul, the earliest Christian writer we have. The early Christians rejoiced inthis flexibility, but for us it has become a source of confusion.

Within contemporary Western culture, under the influence of Deism, the phrase "the Lord" has shiftedfrom referring either to Jesus specifically or to the YHWH of the Old Testament. It has become, instead, a way of reffering simply to a rather distant, generalized deity, who might conceivably have something to do with Jesus but equally well might not, and would probably not have much to do with YHWH either. Thus it has come about that ancient Israelite scruples, medieval mistranslation, and fuzzy eighteenth century thinking have combined to make it hard for us today to recapture the vital sense of what a first-century Jew would understand whenthinking of YHWH, what an early Christian would be saying when speaking of jesusor "the Lord," and how we might now properly reappropiate this whole tradition.

Still the effort has to be made. All language about God is ultimately mysterious, but that is no excuse for sloppy or woolly thinking. And since the title "Lord" was one of the favoriteearly Christian ways of speakingabout Jesus, it is vital that we get clear on the point."

Excerpt from Simply Christian, By NT Wright Pgs 67-9

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The New Atheists

"The New Atheists will not let us off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God. Religion is not only wrong; it's evil. Now that the battle has been joined, there's no excuse for shirking."

This is a quote from an article I just read in Wired titled Battle of the New Atheism

Saturday, October 21, 2006


I loathe spam! As I sign into my e-mail each day I am amazed by the sheer amount of spam that I get (upwards of 100 spam a day). I resent spam and any company that sends me spam. First, of all people I don'’t know are abusing my e-mail by sending me thousands of e-mails that I never asked for and don't want. They waste my time in removing them. Spam causes me to miss out on legitimate e-mails that accidentally get sent to the spam folder. With over a hundred spam e-mails a day I have stopped looking through them for real e-mails and I am sure that sometimes real e-mails get tossed.

So what? Why I am I talking about spam? It seems to me that in this world of junk mail, spam, and unwanted phone solicitors that the church sometimes stoops to the world's methods of delivering its precious message. During my time in Spain I have seen well-meaning Christians who are so passionate about getting their message out that they don'’t pause to think that the way they deliver their message might turn people off to exactly that. Often they go about with the same mentality of the spammers, thinking in numbers instead of the person - something like, "I don't care how many I offend with my message because of the one or two who do respond."

What happens is that they end up doing the same thing to people with the Gospel that spammers have done to me with copious emails. The result is then that people end up shutting out the legitimate messages along with the junk because it is all too much to filter, and quite honestly they feel abused. The real message is discarded because it is delivered in a trashy way.

When I was in junior high I got a new Christian rap tape. I was in love with the music and the message. When we were riding around town in our big old seventies Cadillac with no tape player I would hold my boom box up to my head near the window. It looked like I wanted to hear the music right by my head, but the truth is I wanted people in the car next to me to hear the words at the stop light and be touched by the message. Passionate? Maybe. Embarrassing? Definitely. What a horrible way to transmit a message! Blast loud music at people while they are sitting in their cars. Was it loving? Spirit lead? More helpful than hurtful? I don't think so.

Spamming our message is the easy way. We can say that we have communicated the Gospel to a vast number of people. If they don't listen, then we can blame them. It takes very little effort and does not make us change the way we live. It does not call for us to genuinely love people and get down and dirty in the realities that people deal with and struggle with in their everyday lives. Loving people is hard. Sometimes, biting our tongue and not saying something is more difficult (and yet, more helpful) than blurting out the four spiritual laws. After all James said,

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it he will be blessed in what he does.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."” (James 1:22-26)

Some closing thoughts:

-We live in a world where the manner in which we deliver our message is a message in itself.

-The world is inundated with information so we must be creative and seek ways to deliver the good news in ways that speak louder than just words.

-The message that we have should be incorporated into everything we do and say in our daily life and not just something that is reserved for accosting strangers in the park or those brave souls who are still willing to go to an evangelistic church activity.

-We need to discern when we should speak and when we should be silent. We are not part of a Christian factory that is producing Christian clones. We are organic, we are a body that is striving to live like Jesus, and Jesus himself had times of both silent ministry and public ministry.

-We must avoid the bait and switch tactic (basically lying). That is, purposely attracting people to one thing, while knowing full well that we are going to change gears and bombard them with the gospel when they are not looking.

-People are treated by spammers and advertisers as just numbers. There is no love, only using others to serve the spammer’s own purposes. That is the opposite of how Christians should treat people who are of the highest value to a loving and just God.

I leave you with three quotes from St. Francis of Assisi:

"While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart."

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."

"Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I love my wife!

This song is called Sunshine, Moonlight and I wrote it for her! To see more of what I have been working on, visit the Songwriter´s Corner.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sing a New Song

Here is a new song that I just wrote this week. I played it last night for the first time for some friends to hear. The rest of my songs are hanging out here as I record them little by little. I hope that you can hear them soon.


(vs1) Today has been a day Where everything seems to go my way The things I've touched have turned to gold The things I've read have stirred my soul The things I've said have made friends laugh The things I've heard have made me whole


And I'll Sing

I'll sing my song

I'm gonna sing it all day long


(vs2) Today had been a day Where nothing seems to go my way The things I've touched have broken down The things I've read have made me frown The things I've said have made friends cry The things I've heard have let me down

(vs3) Today has not yet begun I'm waiting for the rising sun Some days are bad, some days are good But no matter what I'll still sing this tune Cause no eye has seen, no ear has heard No mind has conceived what he has in store

Lyrics and Music by Matthew Swain ©2005 Original Records

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fall Prayer Requests

Alpha Course- We are opening the cafe on Sunday evenings for some friends of ours from the "Vida Nueva" Church in A Coruña to lead an Alpha Course. Please pray for these times that they will be a blessing to all those involved.

Help Wanted- We are looking for people (especially European Union citizens) to come and help our team as soon as possible. We have way more work to do then we have people available to do it and we feel stretched really thin. Here are some of the Job descriptions we are hoping to fill. If you know any EU people who may be interested please have them e-mail me (

Lauren Pugh- Has begun the long process of support raising and the paperwork involved in moving to a new country. We would just ask you to remember her as she is in the midst of this process.

Our Family- Abi and Isa have begun the new school year and they both love their school, their teachers and their friends.

Interesting Article- This article gives a little bit of insight into working in cross-cultural ministry and maybe ideas of how you can pray for those who are doing this type of work.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bible Geek T-shirt Contest

For some time we have wanted to design Terra Nova t-shirts, but we have not wanted to invest too much (hardly any, like close to zero) of our hard earned cafe Euros towards this. Stencil art has become pretty popular here in Galicia. Most of the best stencil "artists" practice on buildings and doorways in dimly lit streets late at night. However, the other day I stumbled on a cool web site that shows how to stencil your own t-shirts (the appropriate way for law abiding but creative citizens like myself to stencil). Using photoshop and basic things laying around the house I began making stencils of friends, darth vader, and the cafe symbol.

Then I began making some that I have affectionately titled the "Bible Geek Series". The symbol in the photo is one from this series and I have decided to have a little competition. The winner will receive one free t-shirt that I will ship to anywhere in the world (that t-shirts are allowed to be shipped).

The rules are simple. In the comment section of this post explain what you think this group of symbols mean.

1) The winner will be the first person to accurately decipher and explain the symbols in a comment.

2) In the event that no one gives the correct answer the award will be given to the most creative and entertaining answer as judged by myself and Lori.

All entries must be turned in by October 25, 2006 to be considered. No purchase necessary. Multiple entries are acceptable. All members of team Spain and my immediate household are not eligible to receive the prize. In the event that someone leaves a post that is exceptionally funny I may send them a t-shirt anyway even if someone else gets the right answer, because I'm like that. That choice would be entirely up to me and would be beyond the scope of the contest rules and regulations.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

New Web Site

We want to say a special thank you to Andrew Cooper. We have been working with him pretty closely over the past several months to design a new web site for the cafe. He has been amazing to work with and has done some awesome work. If you are thinking about a new website for any reason and not sure who hire, definitely give Andrew a call or drop him an e-mail (

On any given afternoon the cafe has anywhere from 5 to 15 people using their laptops on our wireless network. Since the cafe is about building community and relationships we have been thinking about ways that we can connect with our laptop users better. This site not only explains a little bit about who we are, but also gives us a digital forum for leaving online announcements and having online conversations. We invite you take a look at

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So what is Christianity about then?

So, I have not really had a lot of time to read lately, but I have been slowly plugging along in Simply Christian by NT Wright. Today I came to Chapter 7 he he spends several paragraphs talking about what Christianity is not about. I thought for a second that he might leave me hanging with the question "So what is Christianity about then?", but thankfully he didn't (smile and wink). As i have been thinking recently about misconceptions that I have had about what it means to be a Christian I appreciated this short passage and posted it here in my Secret Passages.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bujumbura, Burundi

Todd is a friend of mine who works with International Teams in Paris. He is currently in the African country of Burundi where he is doing some seminars on forgiveness and reconciliation. I have been following his blog posts which are direct from a Barundian cyber cafe and it is very interesting.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Taking the Plunge

Lauren Pugh came to visit our team last spring and she is currently in the process of preparing to come to Santiago to join our team. The process of leaving your home country for another is a journey full of ups and downs. We are praying for Lauren as she just arrived at I.T. for her initial training! Blessings Lauren! We can´t wait to have you here with us.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
When I was young I used to think something along the lines that if you were a true follower of Christ that bad things would not happen to you. I thought that you were somehow exempt from things like pain, sickness, poverty, etc. However the more I read the Bible the less I found this to be true. People of the faith have always endured hardships and troubles, in fact it seems like the greater the person of faith the more trying the troubles were that they had to overcome. Also, the stronger the faith the better equipped they were to handle their unique situations. In many cases that is what made them Heroes.
I think of people like Abraham who left everything and everyone he knew to follow God. When he came to his new land he was told he would have a son. He believed it, but year after year went by and that faith had to be harder and harder to maintain. It was a slow painful and formative process with some stumbles along the way.
I think of David and how after he was anointed king as a boy he still had to wait years to actually sit as king over Israel. Many of those years were spent hiding for his life in caves and the wilderness and even fighting as a mercenary for the Philistines. He must have been wondering what in the world God was thinking.
I think of Moses who Took God’s people into the wilderness. Not long after they were freed from brutal slavery they complained to God for where he rescued them to. Why the desert? Why a place where they had to rely on God for sustenance? This was worse than slavery, they griped, as they longed to return to slavery.
Then there is Esther and Daniel who lived in foreign lands under traditions that were often an abomination to God. There is Jeremiah who was known as the weeping prophet. We can’t forget Job who lost everything because of a wager that God made over his faithfulness.
So this year has been one of those times for me. It has been one of those years of trial after trial. A year of questioning what in the world is God doing? I thought that he had a plan for my life, but I catch myself wondering "if this is the plan what in the world is going on?" I pray, I cry out for help, but the only thing I sense (if anything at all) is persevere. I look at these heroes of the faith and their lives scream, "persevere in faithfulness and obedience". I see these dry desert experiences as times that the Lord uses to train and equip us for his work, even though it does not always make sense or look they way we had envisioned life in faith. But that’s what faith is about, isn’t it?
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1-2

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Psalm 63

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

9 They who seek my life will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth.

10 They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God's name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

August Art Exhibit

Although this photo does not really do it justice this month´s art exhibit in the cafe has been one of my favorite so far. It is a collection of photos from around Galicia by a local artist. The ones on the right with the white mats and light colored frames demonstrate the what the artist see as good. It is a collection of photos of local wildlife and nature. The photos on the left side with black frames and mats demonstratesomee of the things in Galicia that the artist has captures on film which show bad or evil. They are various photos of industry, fires, oil spills or nature in jeopardy.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Do Christians doubt enough???

I just read a great article by IMonk about Christian doubt. If you ever find yourself doubting Christianity, then check it out. If you never find yourself doubting Christianity, it wouldn´t hurt to check it out as well.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fires in Galicia

Almost every summer Galicia is plagued with forest fires. Right now there are over one hundred fires burning in Galicia. These photos are taken from near my house. Monte Pedroso has been on fire for a couple of days and fire fighting teams are using planes, helicopters and anything at their disposal to get these fires under control. You can read more about it in the local paper or if you don´t understand Spanish you can flip through the photo albums. Also there is an article here in BBC

Sunday, August 06, 2006

More Photos

We are home now and I have posted some more photos in our Family Album.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Welcome to the Family Eden!

Eden Olivia Swain was born at 6:45am this morning August 3, 2006 in Santiago de Compostela. She weighs 3.675 Kg (8.1 lbs.) and one of the nurses affectionately called her “gordita” (little fat one) all morning. We chose Eden because it reminds us of the way things in life “should be”. Olivia means “peace”. Lori labored at home a little and then we made our way to the hospital around 5:30 am. Once we were at the hospital everything happened very quickly. The doctor said Lori was a veteran and that he hardly needed to be there. Both Eden and Lori are doing well! Thank you all for your prayers.

(photos to come)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thoughts From a Lebanese Christian

I just read an interesting article in Christianity Today called: Another Point of View: Evangelical Blindness on Lebanon He also wrote: 'Who Is My Neighbor' in the Lebanon-Israel Conflict?

N.T. WRIGHT, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Durham, England

When I went to college I absolutely loved my Bible classes. I remember reading books on hermeneutics (how to read something written for another time and another place and understanding what it means today). I remember reading about and studying Judah´s exile- it takes up about two-thirds of the Old Testament but is rarely taught on in most churches. I remember pouring over commentaries and reading books that discussed everything from covenant theology and dispensationalism to the workings of the Holy Spirit in the newly birthed church in Acts.

Then I remember going home for break. I went to a local Christian bookstore, because after devouring all of this rich theological meat I was hungry to read more. I was so disappointed, because what I found in the bookstore were titles like "How to be a better.... Mom, Dad, Pastor, daughter, son, preacher, etc", titles on church growth, Christian diet books, and Christian Fiction that taught weird perspectives on end times and other Christian topics. I would go through the whole bookstore and might emerge with one small morsel of something that would actually challenge me in my faith and my understanding of the Bible.

I wondered what happened to all of the wonderful books that I was reading at college. Who was hiding them and where were they keeping them? So ever since I have been on a quest for books that really challenge me and my thinking. Recently I have encountered an author that gives me that same feeling of being stretched and challenged that I remember in my college Bible classes. When I read his books or listen to his talks I go away thinking about what he said for days and weeks on end. I normally hate watching or reading something that I have already read before, but I find that with his works after I have thought about it for a while I don´t mind going back and listening again to see what I missed the first time.

Last night at our team worship time we watched a video by N.T. Wright that took place in the "National Cathedral" in Washington D.C. and I was so encouraged and challenged by his talk. If you desire to be challenged in your understanding of the Bible and who Jesus was and is than I highly recommendn getting your hand on one of his books, or going to his web site and reading one of his papers or listening to some of his mp3 talks.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Big 29

that's right. I just turned 29 this past week. It´s kind of crazy, because I don´t feel that old..or sometimes I feel older. Lori made me my favorite birthday cake- chocolate mint. There are not cake mixes here, so she made it from scratch and it was wonderful.

Lori had some contractions (not just brackston-hicks, but the real deal) on my birthday! I thought for sure it was time for the baby to come (I packed my backpack for the hospital), but it turned out they were just practice. It could be anyday now. Her due date is August 6.

I have posted some new photos here, here and here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Random Facts

  • Lori and I have spent more married years in Spain than in the States.
  • The cafe has gone through well over 10,000 napkins since it opened just over two years ago.
  • Both of our daughters (soon to be all three daughters) were born in Santiago.
  • Santiago has around 100,000 inhabitants, 40,000 university students, between 1-3 million tourist annually and over 1,100 bars and cafes.
  • Most lunch breaks happen from 2-5pm and then everyone goes back to work/school until about 8pm.
  • In the summer in Santiago the sun does not set in the evening until close to 11pm.
  • If you are a tourist in Spain you can rent a car on your passport without any knowledge of Spanish.
  • If you live in Spain more than 6 months and want to drive your own car you have to go through Spanish drivers ed (both written and driving).
  • Quite often one hears fireworks in Spain in the middle of the day. Everyday (literally) is a Saint day and Saint day celebrations include fireworks.
  • Spain is a Constitutional Monarchy which means it has a king and a parliament.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Geneva Alum Blogs

Every once in a while when I am cruising the blogosphere I come across some blogs I want to share. These are all blogs of Geneva people that I have found. Mark Helsel went to Geneva and then was a Youth Intern at First Presbyterian Church when I was in highschool. I have been following Keith Martel´s blog for quite some time and just last weekend I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Ben Kendrew´s Blog as well as Kent Chevalier´s. If you know of any other Geneva bloggers, drop their address in the comment section below this post.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Photo Albums

I just uploaded som new pics to our Family Album and our Sights in Santiago page.

Short Film

Abi and Caleb took part in their first short film yesterday. A friend of ours is directing a short film for a local competition and needed some children to stand in for a short part. Our friend explained their parts to them in Spanish and then Abi and Caleb acted out their parts. It was fun to watch the process. I am looking forward to seeing the final cut.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Love and Obedience

I am currently reading The Jesus Creed, By Scott McKnight. I was struck by the following excerpt as someone who is not only Christian by as a "spiritual leader". It is easy to get caught up following the law (even the law of love) but miss the point (actually loving). The following excerpt is from Pages 52-53.


Jesus tells parables that catch his readers in the web of a moral dilemma so they can learn. A good example of this is the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

An "expert in the Torah" asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus says, "What does the Torah say?" The expert answers, probably because he has heard the Jesus Creed from others: "Love your God... and love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus says, "A+!"

Riding a little wave of Jesus´approval, he gets a little chesty like a first-year theology student: "Well then, who is my neighbor?" What the scribe is really asking is not just "who is my neighbor?" but "who is pure and who is not?" He´s asking about the classification system. The "who is pure" question is also a "who is better loved?" question. Knowing that the question masks a larger concern, Jesus tells storyto catch this expert in the web of a moral dilemma so we can all learn.

On a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho a man is attacked by a gang of robbers, leaving him nearly dead. A priest and a temple assistant (a Levite) come upon him seperately, but fearing impurity from contact with a corpse, the skirt to the other side of the road. They are following the Torah, mind you. One of Moses´books spells it out: Dead bodies spread impurity. In another of his books, priests are told not to contract corpse impurity unless from the body of a "close relative." If close enough to a corpse to cast one´s shadow over the corpse, the person casting the shadow becomes impure. So, they suffle to the other side of the road. This is not heartlessness so much as it is obedience. Therein lies the learning.

There is not a Jew who hears Jesus´parable who thinks the priest (or the Levite) is doing anything but what the Torah regulates. The irony of this little plot is that in "obeying" the Torah the priest and Levite are disobeying what is at the bottom of the Torah: loving others. Ironically, it is a stereotyped character that does what is right: a Samaritan. Samaritan in this parable stands for social hostility and religious heresy. The priest and the Levite get caught while the Samaritan gets the teacher´s thumbs up.

If we are to love God and love others, Jesus is asking his audience, what happens when love-of-God-as-obeying-Torah (the Shema of Judaism) comes into conflict love-of-God-as-following-Jesus (the Shema of Jesus)? That´s a tough one, for all of us. But for Jesus the answer is clear: Loving God properly always means we will tend to those in need.

A plot within a plot. Jesus catches anyone who attends to the Torah (like avoiding impurity) but fails to attend the person in need."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cultural Event

Last night we had our third cultural event at the cafe. It was a fun event with the group Truesdell from California doing a folk/rock acustic set. We also have a new art exhibit from a local artist and it turns out that she lives in our neighborhood. That rocks! It is cool how many people we have been meeting through the art exhibits.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cool Pix

Chris Warren is an IT guy on his way to Russia. He stopped in Spain for a few weeks to hang out with our team and give us a hand. He has captured some great photos around the city, of us repainting the cafe (a special thanks to Lauren and Shayna for donating the paint), and of the night of Saint John tradition where people jump over fires to get rid of evil spirits (mostly people just jump for fun these days). You can see his photos here and read his thoughts here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Should More Christians Live in the City?

This article in Christianity Today talks about A New Kind of Urban Christian. The premise is "As the city goes, so goes the culture."

Here is an Excerpt from the article:

"More Christians should live long-term in cities. Historians point out that by A.D. 300, the urban populations of the Roman Empire were largely Christian, while the countryside was pagan. (Indeed, the word pagan originally meant someone from the countryside—its use as a synonym for a non-Christian dates from this era.) The same was true during the first millennium A.D. in Europe—the cities were Christian, but the broad population across the countryside was pagan. The lesson from both eras is that when cities are Christian, even if the majority of the population is pagan, society is headed on a Christian trajectory. Why? As the city goes, so goes the culture. Cultural trends tend to be generated in the city and flow outward to the rest of society."

To read more, go here!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Emergent Self-Critique

"It’s always wise to listen and learn from criticism, but it’s even more important to proactively examine ourselves. As Paul said, if we judged ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged (1 Cor. 11:31), and Jesus told us to examine our own eyes for lumber before worrying about the splinters in others’ eyes. So, in that spirit, here’s an exercise in self-examination for the growing global generative friendship that is associated with the name “emergent” in the U.S. and in many places around the world. It’s based on my own observations, and includes proposals for how we respond to the issues I try to describe. "

I just read Brian McLaren´s critique of the Emergent movement (which you can read here). He seems very honest and brings up some very relevant issues. If you have been following the Emergent conversation, it is worth the read.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Mid Week Fun

Rome- I have been watching a Discovery Channel 8 part special on the rise and fall of Rome. It is very interesting and there are many things that we Americans should pay attention to as our society has many parallels to Rome.

Well, speaking of Rome, Lori is in Rome right now with her Mom, her Mom's best friend Gail and Gail's daughter Adrienne. Our good friend Father Sal who is a retired Catholic priest here in SdC just happened to have a trip scheduled there for the Same time. Today he is acting as their tour guide and showing them the Vatican. Tomorrow they are going to check out Florence.

Home- Abi, Isa and I are hanging out a lot this week. We reduced my hours at the cafe this week to enable me to be a stay at home dad. Yesterday afternoon I took the girls to my favorite plant store outside of town and then they helped me plant some new flowers on our back patio. It was such a hot day that by the end I ended up watering them with the hose as well as the flowers. They squealed with delight. Today I am planning on taking them to a park and then to "Old MacDaonald's" (as Isa calls it) for some ice cream.

Gnome- If Lori was here she would groan and probably make me change this post because it really has nothing to do with gnomes I just wanted to keep rhyming (hey, I've been hanging out with a two and four year old this week so cut me some slack). Anyways, I have posted some new photos here, here and here.

Roam- Hah, different kind of Rome. OK, enough. No more. I gotta stop. Anyway I wanted to encourage you to roam the net to see some of my favorite blogs this week.

  • I wanted to Highlight Todd´s Blog in Paris. He has been writing some great articles about immigrants (a touchy topic, I know, but definitely a topic worth thinking about.
  • I also wanted to highlight Missions Misunderstood. This missionary works for the IMB, but his posts are often relevant for anyone taking part in short or long term missions.
  • Of Course, you can always check out my team mate Jacob´s blog to see more of what is happening here in SdC and some of the things that we talk about.
  • Rainy Spain is another cool blog by an American who lives in SdC
  • Also, if you have never visited the Tall Skinny Kiwi site you should. This guy blogs more in a day than anyone else I know. He definitely has his finger on the pulse of the blogosphere.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Cafe Event No-2

Last Thursday we were able to hold our second cultural event in the cafe. We had an inauguration for an art exhibition of a local amateur artist who is also one of our regular clients. A Texan friend who lives and works with a church in A Coruña came down and created an awesome atmosphere for us by playing the hammer dulcimer. These events have been awesome ways for us to connect with and serve people in our community. We are looking forward to trying a broad range of similar events in the coming year.

School Trip

Abigail and Lori spent Friday with students, parents and teachers from Abigail's school as they went to the country on a field trip. It was a hot day, but they had lots of fun. I am hoping to post photos of it here.

Family and Friends

Lori and I have been blessed to have Lori´s Mom, her best friend Gail, and Gail´s daughte Adrian visiting us here in SdC. Next week the women are taking a trip to Rome together and I will be doing the single father thing with Abigail and Isa (feel free to pray for me). It has been fun showing them our favorite part of the city and Spanish culture.

Summer Intern

We want to welcome Bri Kari. She is here interning with us this summer form Orlando, Florida. She has already been a great help to our team and we pray that God blesses her and those who she meets during her time here over the next two months.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Worth the Read

I just read a great PCA article about the Emergent Church called More than a Fad: Understanding the Emerging Church. It is a very well-balanced article, challenging both the emergent and the non-emergent.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

We´re Back

Lori and I had a really rich time at IT´s International Leadership Forum in the Netherlands. It was a very beautiful experience to here IT ministry leaders from all around the world share how God was working. We heard stories from Iraq, China, Vietnam, Russia, Kenya,Ukraine, Bosnia, andBolivia to name a few. One of the coolest things to me is the fact that IT is a truly international organization. It does not just value Christian leaders that come from the western world and going to the eastern world. It does not even see itself as an organization that send people from rich countries to poor ones.

IT is truly living out it´s desire to be an organization "From all nations, to all nations". I like to think of it as "WikiMissions" or the "Bit Torrent Church". Paul described it like this to the Corinthians, "So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight."

Also, just wanted to let you know that I have updated photos on both the Friends and Family Albums. Feel free to check them out! Shalom, Matt

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Out of Town

Lori and I will be traveling to Holland tomorrow for IT´s International Leadership Forum. This is an annual time of connection and training for It Leaders from all around the world. Please pray for our travel and for our girls who will be staying with our friends and team mates the Baileys. Also, we may be slow in answering e-mails but will try to get to them as soon as we can. Blessings, Matt and Lori