Monday, February 27, 2017

Question 4.2

From a 2017 Ember application: Describe a personal experience where you lived out the phrase, "Find a way or make one."
I was in a corn maze with a group of friends and we got lost. It started to get dark and we wanted to get home so instead of looking for the exit, we ran through the corn stalks to get out.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Burn

::: What I Learned Growing an 8 Figure Business
What very few entrepreneurs realize, though, is that it’s much easier to grow your business through your current customers than it is to go out and find a whole bunch of new customers. Challenge: How would you 2x your business if you COULD NOT get any new customers?
and
Iterate the way you communicate
Communication is the single biggest challenge I DID NOT expected as our business scaled.
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::: How to Respond When Someone Expresses Initial Interest in Missions
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::: As We Become Cameras
Fascinating read on the smartphone camera becoming ubiquitous and how watches went through a similar transition.
Humanity’s appetite for time grew on a similarly aggressive curve.
Before the industrial revolution, it was uncommon for clocks to have minute hands. Only a very select class could afford a private timepiece until the 20th century.
Until the 1840s, time was local and highly variable. Each town set its own clock, from which private clocks would be roughly set by hand. The time in Pittsburg might be 27 minutes earlier than that in New York and no one much cared.
Link

::: Pack twice the money and half the gear. - Anonymous

Thursday, February 23, 2017

On The Edge


This is Casely on the left and Trevin on the right, doing a FB live video yesterday promoting their summer missions efforts at Bay Area Community Church, which is just outside of Annapolis. BACC, like a lot of churches we know, has a very strong and mature global missions process and this year, they are sending out around twenty short term teams. Their senior pastor and Casely, who is their global missions pastor, spent most of January traveling, visiting 5 of their partners around the world. Crazy.

Part of their process this year is a one day training and mobilization conference called On The Edge, on March 11. If you have any interest global missions, cross cultural church planting, living in another culture for a season or anything like that, this gathering will have some excellent content and is a great opportunity to hang with people that like that kind of stuff too. Ember's good friend Shane is doing some of the teaching and I'll be hosting a workshop as well.

Ping for more details.

Update - registration.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy Birthday Deanna!

A long time ago, before she was my wife, Deanna told me that she liked to travel. This was a stark contrast from me, I almost never went out of my zip code. Little did I know.

Fast forward a few decades, years and moments, and last summer we found ourselves in the Middle East, both for the first time. It was incredible to meet so many parents of university bound kids, just like us. From misunderstood cities and countries and cultures, in a region of the world also many times misunderstood, my wife engaged each one of them as a curious visitor, a listening ear, and a new friend. Maybe they just wanted to speak to a blonde American.

In these strange and tense times, Deanna reminds us that perhaps the best gift to a crazy world is being a kind, listening visitor with the perspective of blessing others because we have been blessed.

Love

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Obsession with ending poverty is where development is going wrong.
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::: Missionary dies thinking he is a failure. 84 years later, church planting movement found in the jungle.
Link - Fixed Link


::: The UAE's ambitious plan to build a new city - on Mars
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::: Don't assume you are the good soil. - Francis Chan via Jon Tyson

Photo: scheming with Ember guide, Trevin.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Notes - You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, James K. A. Smith. Very intriguing - like the best ideas, not sure what to do with this yet.
In other words, your understanding of discipleship will reflect a set of working assumptions about the very nature of human beings, even if you've never asked yourself such questions.
There is a very different model of the human person at work here. Instead of the rationalist, intellectualist model that implies, "You are what you think," Paul's prayer hints at a very different conviction: "You are what you love." What if, instead of starting from the assumption that human beings are thinking things, we started from the conviction that human beings are first and foremost lovers? What if you are defined not by what you know but by what you desire? What if the center and seat of the human person is found not in the heady regions of the intellect but in the gut-level regions of the heart? How would that change our approach to discipleship and Christian formation?
To be human is to be on a quest. To live is to be embarked on a kind of unconscious journey toward a destination of your dreams. As Blaise Pascal put it in his famous wager: "You have to wager. It is not up to you, you are already committed." You can't not bet your life on something. You can't not be headed somewhere. We live leaning forward, bent on arriving at the place we long for.
If you think of worship as a bottom-up, expressive endeavor, repetition will seem insincere and inauthentic. But when you see worship as an invitation to a top-down encounter in which God is refashioning your deepest habits, then repetition looks very different: it's how God rehabituates us. In a formational paradigm, repetition isn't insincere, because you're not showing, you're submitting. This is crucial because there is no formation without repetition. Virtue formation takes practice, and there is no practice that isn’t repetitive. We willingly embrace repetition as a good in all kinds of other sectors of our life—to hone our golf swing, our piano prowess, and our mathematical abilities, for example.
In his important book After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre famously says, "I cannot answer the question, 'What ought I to do?' unless I first answer the question, 'Of which story am I a part?'"
Because when the thin gruel of do-it-yourself spirituality turns out to be isolating, lonely, and unable to endure crises, the spiritual-but-not-religious crowd might find itself surprisingly open to something entirely different. In ways that they never could have anticipated, some will begin to wonder if "renunciation" isn’t the way to wholeness, if freedom might be found in the gift of constraint, and if the strange rituals of Christian worship are the answer to their most human aspirations. What Christian communities need to cultivate in our "secular age" is faithful patience, even receiving a secular age as a gift through which to renew and cultivate an incarnational, embodied, robustly orthodox Christianity that alone will look like a genuine alternative to "the spiritual."
"To do by 'feel' what cannot be done by regular conscious thought": that's not a bad description of the goal of discipleship. To conform to the image of the Son is to have so absorbed the gospel as a "kinesthetic sense," a know-how you now carry in your bones, that you do by "feel" what cannot be done by conscious thought. You have been remade in Christ such that there are ways you love him that you don’t even know. You have a Christlike "feel" for the world, and you act accordingly "without thinking about it."
While we might assume that the emotionalism of contemporary youth ministry is anti-intellectual, in fact it is tethered to a deeply intellectualist paradigm of discipleship: the whole point of keeping young people happy and stirred and emotionally engaged is so that we can still have an opportunity to deposit a "message" into their intellectual receptacles.
But this is a sign that we have given up on incarnate modes of formation bequeathed to us in liturgy and the spiritual disciplines. Instead, we have created youth ministry that confuses extroversion with faithfulness. We have effectively communicated to young people that sincerely following Jesus is synonymous with being "fired up" for Jesus, with being excited for Jesus, as if discipleship were synonymous with fostering an exuberant, perky, cheerful, hurray-for-Jesus disposition like what we might find in the glee club or at a pep rally.
This now intersects with our core theme because our (culture-)making, our work, is generated as much by what we want as by what we believe. We are made to be makers, but as makers we remain lovers. So if you are what you love, then you make what you love. Your cultural labor—whether in finance or fine arts, as a fireman or a first-grade teacher—is animated less by "principles" that you carry in your head and more by habits of desire that operate under the hood of consciousness.
Whether we're entrepreneurs launching a tech start-up or first-time parents starting a family, our "creative" work as human beings made in God’s image is sort of pulled out of us by our attraction to a vision of the good life. Our making bubbles up from our imagination, which is fueled by a Story of what flourishing looks like. We all carry some governing Story in our bones that shapes our work more than we might realize because that Story has taught us what to love (and as we emphasized in chapter 2, you might not love what you think because you might not realize what Story has really captured your imagination). If you are what you love, and you make what you want, then we need to be attentive to how our wants are formed if we want to be faithful makers. We need to curate the unconscious, the storehouse of governing stories. Be careful what you worship; it will shape what you want, and therefore what you make and how you work.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Americans Have Been Driving Less But Now They are Just Sitting at Home
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::: Essential Tips for Smart Travel in an Uncertain World
We have paid a lot of attention to Wendy's travel tips in the past two years...
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::: 1 in 7 Christian Pastors are Now Under the Age of 40
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::: Living the right kind of life is more important than having the right opinion. Protest with your lifestyle. - Jon Tyson

Picture: The Painted Desert. Jan 2017.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Ember Summer Project #1

Today, I am thrilled to announce our first summer project, the 2017 Ember Italy team. This team is in the midst of being assembled and represents our second experience focusing on and learning about the global refugee issue. Similar to last year, we will work with some trusted partners in southern Italy.

Most of you have followed the refugee crisis in the news for the past year or two. What you hate to imagine is true - 'no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.' The circumstances with our partners in Italy have enormous potential in almost every sphere of humanity and we as we have watched it grow and evolve this year, we are thrilled to return for a second time. It is our hope that our efforts help in some small way with this very large issue and that our students are propelled through this experience to mark human history and fight for the future of humanity.

Thanks in advance for your support for this team.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Store #27

From 1987 to 1990, during my college career, I worked part time at the REI store in College Park. I loved every minute of that job in footwear, helping prepare people for their outdoor adventures with a group of incredibly talented and passionate people.

My time at REI was so formative for me. I learned to deal with the public [like detailed in this excellent post], I worked for an incredible manager who modeled leadership to me, and I was infected with adventure. For an only child growing up with two immigrant parents, adventure was exactly not what my family was looking for.

The College Park store closed last week and I joined other alumni to mark the last evening. Thanks store #27 for all those lessons, but mostly for giving me the adventure bug and hopefully passing that to my kids. I am not fearless, but I pray my kids are. Like my friend Ben Cloud says, faith is spelled R-I-S-K.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Jim Estill, The Man Who Saved 200 Syrian Refugees
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::: Iceland Knows How to Stop Teen Substance Abuse
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::: Thermostat Controls in Hotels are Often Placebos
WHAT?
Link via NextDraft


::: Paranoid obsession with security is a psychosis of empire. - @BrianZahnd via @DanSadlier

Photo: Em and I, desert adventure.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

3 Days with Amadeo Church

Ben and Mandy Cloud are dear friends who started Amadeo Church in 2006. It's a phenomenal church that has made an impact on our family and The Ember Cast for their values, how they impact the community and their very ethos. Em and I were privileged to spend this past weekend with them for a leadership gathering and their Sunday services.

I love the StrengthsFinder psychometric and have led leadership sessions around the results here and there. I don't do this very much because frankly, you can find people that know the results a lot better than me [my friends at LeadershipVision] It is also a very big time investment if you want to do it right. You need a minimum of 2 sessions of 3 hours each.

Amadeo had 40 of their key leaders gathered for 4 hours on both Friday evening and Saturday to walk through their top talents and how and why it can be worked out in their ministry teams, with their church and for their community at large. An incredible time. They did it right too - every one of these leaders was well engaged with the discussion on talents and how it translated into their influence. They were vulnerable with each other, open to learning the content and ready to receive a leadership weekend. I can't tell you how gratifying that is when you are the guest speaker.

These days, the most effective church leaders are the ones that consistently push their personal and organizational limits on becoming better at developing leaders.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Big Epiphanies

One of the things I've been working on for a few weeks, besides starting a new job this week [tell you more about that later], is planning for a leadership weekend with one of our church partners. One of the core tools will be this - the StrengthsFinder psychometric.

Self-awareness is so rare among leaders - 'leaders' not meaning those in charge but rather those with influence. If you can persuade someone to do something with you, you might be more of a leader than you give yourself credit for. And if you exercise any kind of influence, you [should] know that the most difficult person to lead is yourself.

If you like to pray for this kind of thing that Ember does, we'd appreciate that. Pray for big epiphanies.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Plan to Prepare

Short term teams are a unique dynamic - you mostly travel to a new place with new people to do new things. What could go wrong?

Ember has had the privilege of working with lots of short term teams and we love the opportunity at helping these kinds of teams prepare. We had the honor of facilitating one of these preparation sessions last weekend for a team traveling to the Caribbean for some medical and child welfare work.

Teams have a better chance becoming stronger after spending time working through the concepts of personalities, trust and teamwork. That's why we almost always have everyone take a psychometric assessment, talk through our frames for teams and do some kind of hands on group activity. Remember, this isn't a group project that you probably loathed in school - there is a lot more at stake. The other good news is that if you are leading a team this coming summer, you have plenty of time now to plan preparation.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Burn

::: 2016 has Been One of the Safest Years in Aviation History
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::: The 10 Most Difficult Languages in the World
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::: Ingredients for an Innovative Culture
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"The ends of the earth are now in our Jerusalem. The question for churches: Do we like our new neighbors?" @LarryMcCrary

Photo: Beignet cart, Bandol France, July 2014.