Thursday, November 30, 2006

Currents : China

From a post from Alan Hirsch [yup, one of the Shaping of Things to Come guys] ::
100AD There are as little as 25,000 Christians
310AD There are as many as 20,000,000 Christians

...But before the example of the Early Christian Movement can be dismissed as a freak of history, there is another perhaps even more astounding manifestation of that unique and explosive power inherent in all of God’s people in our own time—namely, the underground church in China...
Just read last night in Exiles by Michael Frost [the other Shaping guy] ::
Church historians and missiologists now believe that the communist authorities unwillingly paved the way for the spread of the gospel by removing much of China's idolatry, attempting to deny the supernatural (when people experienced miracles), constructing transportation systems, unifying the language by adopting Mandarin, developing large-scale literacy projects, and creating a hunger for the printed word through controlling the media.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Older and hmm....

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. - Mark Twain
The few [and I do mean few!] gray hairs on my head are okay. The speed at which my kids are growing up is also okay, although slightly less easy to accept. When my dad's case manager from the hospital mentioned that age delineation, 70, that was surreal.

It is reasonable to know that I am growing older. Having to go to back-to-school night, hearing friends grapple with the realities of being middle-aged and understanding that the age 40 was three years around the corner - those nuances of 'maturity' took a little bit of time but could be dealt with. But hearing someone else tell me that my father was 70 - isn't that really old? - that took a lot of time to sink in. All of a sudden, my parents, who never seemed to age, are getting old too. Too fast and too real.

This newly visited perspective makes me appreciate those that have been 'sent' so much more. Our friends who have left warm and comfortable homes; familiar houses and cultures that they are used to; and good, intimate friends and communities - they left something else even bigger that I never really took into consideration. They left aging parents.

Many of you are young [at least younger than I] and fearless, the world is your heartache, and you know that we are in our most desperate hour. When you leave home to save the world, remember: your parents are aging too; fly home when you can; and call your mother often.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday Potpourri

::: George Verwer has friends that: drive him all around the US in a motorhome, have shared about Jesus in every country in the world; and have had 99 grandchildren - via one wife. Link.

::: Marc posts about the current challenges in Europe, including:
- declining population
- for every person in Europe that converts to Islam, ten turn to Buddhism.
- And five fluid groups that need Fluid Mission:
youth; immigrants; the marginalized; professional/business groups; temporary communities.

::: Need Practice to be a Stewardess?
5. Remove the cover from several TV dinners. Place them in a hot oven. Leave the food in the oven until it’s completely dried out. Remove the hot trays with your bare hands. Serve to your family. Don’t include anything for yourself.
6. Serve your family a beverage one hour after they’ve received their meal. Make them remain in their seats during this time.
7. Scrounge uneaten rolls off the plates for you to eat two hours later when you’re really hungry.
8. Place a straight-backed chair in a closet facing a blank wall. Use a belt to strap yourself into it. Eat the rolls you saved from your family’s meal.
9. Ask your family to use the bathroom as frequently as possible. Tell them to make splashing water a game and see who can leave the most disgusting mess. Clean the bathroom every hour throughout the day.
10. Make a narrow aisle between several dining room chairs and randomly scatter your husband’s wing-tips and loafers along the way. Turn off the lights and spend the night walking up and down the aisle while banging your shins against the chair legs and tripping over the shoes. Drink several cups of cold coffee to keep yourself awake.
11. Gently wake your family in the morning and serve them a cold sweet roll. Don’t forget to smile and wish them a nice day when they leave for work and school.
via Southwest Airlines Blog

::: Planning on a Napkin
Reminds me of Organic Church [my notes], when it talks about "any substantive truth worth passing on should be reproducible on a napkin while one sits down at a lunch appointment." via Metacool

The End of Poverty - Chapter 2

The second post in a series of posts based on the book The End of Poverty.

Chapter Two – The Spread of Economic Prosperity
- The average income per person in Western Europe in 1820 was around 90% of the average income of Africa today. Life expectancy in Western Europe and Japan as of 1800 was about forty years.

- Global population rose more than sixfold in just two centuries, reaching an astounding 6.1 billion people. [image from Wikipedia]

- As of 1820, the biggest gap between the rich and poor – specifically between the worlds leading economy of the day – the UK and the world's poorest region – Africa, was a ratio of four to one in per capita income. By 1998, the gap between the richest economy – the US and the poorest region Africa had widened to twenty to one.

- Many people assume that the rich have gotten rich because the poor have gotten poor. In other words, they assume that Europe and the United States used military force and political strength during and after the era of colonialism to extract wealth from the poorest regions, and thereby to grow rich. This interpretation of events would be plausible if gross world product had remained constant, with a rising share going to the powerful regions and a declining share going to the poorer regions. However, gross world product rose nearly fifty-fold. Every region of the world experienced some economic growth, but some regions experienced much more growth than others. They key fact of modern times is not the transfer of income from one region to another; by force or otherwise, but rather the overall increase in world income, but at a different rate in different regions.

- The steam engine marked the decisive turning point of modern history. By mobilizing a vast store of primary energy, fossil fuels, the steam engine unlocked the mass production of goods and services on a scale beyond the wildest dreams of the pre-industrial era. Modern energy fueled every aspect of the economic takeoff [food production via chemical fertilizers, industrial production via steel, transport equipment, textile and apparels, etc.]

- Why did the industrial revolution happen in Britain first? 1: British society was open, more scope for individual initiative and social mobility. 2: Strengthening institutions of political liberty – free speech and open debate, personal property rights. 3: leading center of Europe’s scientific revolution. 4: geographical advantage in sea trade. 5: Britain remained sovereign, lesser risk of invasion. 6: Britain had coal.

- In Britain first, and then elsewhere, industrialization meant a shift of people from overwhelmingly agrarian activities to industrial activities, giving rise to urbanization, social mobility, new gender and family roles, a demographic transition and specialization in labor.

- I believe the single most important reason why prosperity spread, and why it continues to spread, is the transmission of technologies and the ideas underlying them. Even more important than having specific resources in the ground, such as coal, was the ability to use modern, science-based ideas to organize production. The beauty of ideas is that they can be used over and over again, without ever being depleted. Economists call ideas nonrival in the sense that one person’s use of an idea does not diminish the ability of others to use it well. This is why we can envision a world in which everybody achieves prosperity. The essence of the first Industrial Revolution was not the coal; it was how to use the coal. Even more generally, it was about how to use a new form of energy. The lessons of coal eventually became the basis for many other energy systems as well, from hydropower, oil and gas, and nuclear power to new forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar power converted to electricity. These lessons are available to all of humanity, not just for the first individuals who discovered them.

My thoughts:
1. The rate of population growth is just amazing isn't it? And if you look at some of the projections for the future [like this one], it's an even higher rate. And you thought the Mall was crowded last night...

2. I never realized what a huge turning point the steam engine provided for the world. One single piece of technology - phenomenal. Like the printing press, the Internet, the [fill in the blank...]

3. Speaking of technology, the last quote there is just amazing and worth repeating, "I believe that the single most important reason why prosperity spread, and why it continues to spread, is the transmission of technologies and the ideas underlying them." Sachs expands on the specific technologies later in the book, but this idea is huge - the idea that ending poverty is based on our understanding and ability to apply technologies in various environments. It also reminds me of the concept of context - the environment, culture, worldview, past behaviors - it all matters. Expand that just a bit and we could also relate the terms of leadership, indigenous, contextualization. And one more - the students we are calling upon to save the world need to be adept at technology and able to speak about that into someone else's life. Can you teach someone how to use Firefox, Facebook and IM? Can you set up a wireless network? Ever toyed with a water filter? Can you get up in front of your peers and speak? Are you a good teacher or writer?

If technology is the key to ending poverty, we should:
- Continue to encourage our students to be geeks [and I mean that term in the best way of course!]
- Give them opportunities to share what they have learned, in any capacity.
- Continue to build environments where they are encouraged to experiment, innovate and create.

[Related post - my notes from Chapter 1]

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Need a Chinese Bible?

"The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner." - William Cameron Townsend [founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators]
Amy M emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I could get my hands on a Chinese Bible for a friend of her brothers. A day after that, I got an email update from Brigada Today and in it was details about a Chinese Bible from the Digital Bible Society on CD. Hmm interesting. So I ordered one.

The CD is free and once you get one, you can reproduce as many as you want to give away. And the CD appears to have tons of stuff on it, including 3 searchable Chinese Bibles, two full commentaries, the whole New Testament in audio [in Mandarin], over 200 Christian Books and a bunch of other stuff. I say appears because even though I am Chinese, I can't read a lick of it. Definitely one area of my upbringing I wish I would have stayed engaged with.

If you think you could use one of these CDs, check out the link. Or, I will be more than happy to burn you one and put it in the mail to you - get in touch via email or comment.

And I think the words in the graphic are John 3:16. Isn't that cool?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

OK so 4 years needed a

new template....

Let me know how it looks to you all....

Crazy Idea for 4th Anniv

Ok, so I told you yesterday that it was this blog's 4th year anniversary and that I didn't have any fun ideas. Well, this idea might totally flop or it might be a lot of fun...

Since you readers are so integral to this blog, I want to celebrate you as part of this 4 year anniversary. So here is the idea:
- take a digital picture of yourself
- along with you in the picture, include one of the concepts of this blog - students, world cultures, global missions, etc.
- make it as funny, goofy, etc. or as serious as you want - totally have fun with it
- email it to me - whatever format is fine. [address at the top of the page in the right hand column.]
- i will post all of the pictures i get later this thanksgiving weekend sometime.

ok - ready, set go!

Monday, November 20, 2006

This Blog's 4th Anniversary

Well folks today is my blog's 4th anniversary. I was thinking of a good way to commemorate this grand occasion, but nothing comes to mind... Anyway, you readers are to be congratulated too - a good portion of this blog is to connect with you all - sharing what is in my head as well as hopefully giving you some good resources and telling some stories for where SPACE is going and the precious people that we are moving with.

I ran across this post a few weeks ago talking about the motivation behind blogging and I think it is a valuable analogy.
When you set up a blog, you are moving into the horizontal city. You are putting yourself -- your passions, your ideas, your beliefs -- online, and by doing so you make yourself linkable. People can see you. They can point to you. They can talk to you. You're a citizen.

At first it's just like moving into a new city in the real world. It's lonely. You don't know anyone. Nobody talks to you. But after awhile -- just like in a real-world city -- you start meeting people and having conversations. You leave a comment on someone's blog, or you link to one of their posts. Then they come to your blog to see who you are. The momentum builds and before you know it you are a member of a community -- maybe several communities.

It's like moving to a city in other ways, too. Putting yourself online is not without risk. You're more vulnerable -- to criminals, stalkers and the merely boring. But it's no different than a real city: you take on more risk but you also enter a thriving metropolis, bursting with opportunity and ideas.

Sometimes people say, "So what? I already live in a city. What's so great about the horizontal city?"

...the web runs on our collective passion. When you put yourself online and make yourself linkable you are making your passions explicit, linkable and clickable. Because of this, the people who find you and point to you tend to share your passions.

On the web, your "hit rate" of interesting people is much, much higher than it is in the real world. How often in the real world do you meet people who truly fascinate you? If it's more than 10 percent of the people you meet, I'd say you are very lucky.

But on the web, your "hit rate" is much higher....

And that (I say to my non-blogging friends) is why blogging is a big deal.
So thanks to you readers for reading, commenting and connecting with our collective passion - mobilizing students for mission. Your input and interaction here makes it so much more fun and interesting so please keep engaging. May this blog continue to be one of the many mediums for helping all of us mobilize students into leaders that burn for humanity.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Fun with NavYouth

We had a great time with the NavYouth this weekend where I was a speaker on their Fall Retreat. The retreat was held at Cape Henlopen, DE [same location, but different facility than last summer's Mission Advance - and no rain and flooding of Biblical proportions like last time.] I personally had a very fun time interacting with the students over the course of 4 different talks. We as a family also had a very fun weekend as we were able to get away for a little bit, take part in the retreat's Q-tip war and sandcastle contest, and spend some time swimming and taking it easy in our hotel down the street.

I mentioned before how we had worked into the schedule for there to be small group interactions after every talk [an idea that I had stolen from our own retreats] and these worked great. Retreat speakers really should be catalysts to drive the ministry leaders to go deeper with their own students.

Special thanks to DHelger and his team for inviting and hosting us. It's a fun connection to have and I'm sure our paths will cross soon. I also know that we will see some brave and extraordinary heroes from this group of NavYouth, heroes who are ready to rise to the challenge of being the world's only hope.

Related post: my speaking notes.

PS - My dad came home from the hospital today - thank you all for praying for him. He is doing very well!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Navigator Youth Fall 2006 - Notes

For those of you that might be interested - and just in case my memory goes down the tubes and I lose my printout - here are my speaking notes for this coming weekend. They might be a bit verbose for some of you...

faith to follow

===== #1 Faith In Your Destiny =====
OP: Psalm 139

The idea of destiny - sometimes too mystical, too wacky - we think of Star Wars
but Scripture is pretty clear that each of us has a destiny - wrapped in your uniqueness and God's creativity
Ps 139 - knit us
Phil 1 - finish the good work that was started
Jer 29 - plans to prosper you
uniquely created in the image of a creative God
latent strengths, talents, character, disposition
the odds of you are less than 1 out of 6.5B -
even greater in the mere minutes we have been talking - humankind is growing uniquely
even greater when we account for all of human history and if there is mankind on other planets

Gen 12 - blessed to be a blessing

your experience also tells you this
you have had moments when you know THIS is what you were made for
people around you are enthralled - how did you do that
everything clicked
a God given moment where what He created was unleashed and optimized for His glory
to exercise these talents and gift is an act of faith
nobody else will understand - many times, they will think you are crazy

ST: Cameroon and the pygmy tribe
travel 6000 miles, 3 continents, 2 hours by canoe, 20 minutes by foot to share Jesus with a tribal chief?

you are not like anyone else - for a specific reason - what way-out past-your-imagination idea could God have in mind for you?

ST: KD - combo of alternative energy and Chinese culture
there are ministries, service opportunities and entire industries that have not even been created yet except in your imagination

We lose our way out of faith when we forget how unique God has created us
when we don't think we are special, we coast along and go through the motions instead of fully engaged

- evaluate your talents, skills, experience
- start to imagine a dream that uses these things - allow your mind to wander and your energy to develop
- take one small step towards it and let the critics talk at you

you will not live life fully engaged until you understand the odds of you in the world
It will not be easy
ST: EGrab and Tay - OC, MD - the devil lady

ST: home improve challenges when I leave town
deck table, bathroom shower, garbage disposal

Perfect love cast out fear - is that how Jesus so loved humanity?

ST: SPACE leader app - describe your impact 500 years from now
LB - There will lines that can be traced back to me.... Someone that I've led will have touched every continent.

Is your imagination that large and vivid?
Like the Princess said, It is our most desparate hour. And you are our only hope.

==== #2 - Faith in Jesus =====
OP: Jer 20

The contrast between a 'Christian' and a Jesus follower
It is easy to be a Christian and hard to be a disciple
Easy to believe in the information but not have a transformed life
80% of our culture claims to be a Christian
And when the world looks at Christians, they see it - it is crystal clear to them
The world is looking for passionate people that do what they believe

Two spheres - belief vs.action
Need to line them up

What Does A Real Disciple Do?
You do what Jesus does - Rob Bell
- rabbi and his students - following into the bathroom stall

- pack of students following as close as they could
everything the rabbi steps in gets kicked up on your cloak
level of your passion
'may you be covered in the dust of your rabbi'

Realize that Jesus can pastor you - He can speak into your life - He can shape and mold you

- Go and make disciples - Matt 28 - to the 11 disciples
not converts - different than someone just saying the prayer
It is reproducing your life with Jesus in someone else
That you do what He does
If the 11 only did this with other Christians, the Church would be dead

- Heart for the lost - I Sam 17 - David the shepherd - leave the 99 and go after the one, kills the lion and bear - does this sound like your pastor or shepherd?
ST: food fight party

- Prepare the way - Matt 3 - John the Baptizer [lived to baptize people] - live in the woods and eat locusts - doesn't care about how that looks to others
ST: Larry from UI - moving into different neighborhood to build relationships with Muslims

- The Bible as the portal to God's presence - Jeremiah - says some crazy things and gets put in stocks because the Word is like a fire
I don't think we read the Bible even close to like this
ST: Leg from NYC - wife left him when he accepted Jesus - came to the US to study the Bible

- Hears the shepherds voice - John 10
cares about what God cares about, no matter how crazy it looks
ST: my P&P strategy and CW - makes sense to nobody else

- Cares about the poor
How much did Jesus talk about the poor
Realizes that their money and resources are not just about themselves

A disciple looks different than a Christian does
Caring about the right things will lead to believing the right things - not just a system of beliefs

The first century Church - Acts - was about much more than believing the right things
Are you just going through the motions?

===== #3 - Faith in the Mission =====
OP: Mt 24

vision for what the world really looks like and faith in the mission that God has called you in
because after all, if you are a disciple - you care about this
the grand story of God and Jesus - sent on a mission

what does the world really look like and why does it matter to me
6.5B people in the world
two terms:
1 - people group - the word nations - cluster of people in the same culture, worldview, etc - smallest cluster of people
different than nation-states
Matt 28:18
Matt 24:14
do a study of the word nations in your Bible - or just in Psalms

2 - unreached - 0% access to Jesus - no church, no missionary, 0 chance

Jesus - was He cross cultural?
in fact, He was the model for cross cultural ministry
women and the Well
Good Samaritan

3 - 10/40 window - 2B people live in extreme poverty - less than $1 a day - most of the unreached live here
YLG2006 slide 42 - world population vs foreign missionaries
YLG2006 slide 43 - missionary presence - dismal percent of missionaries to the unreached

4 - other world issues
Europe - most countries in Europe are now less than 1% evangelical - they are postmodern postChristian
Africa - AIDS crisis, malaria, extreme poverty, The End of Poverty - The ONE Campaign - Red

You think 9/11 was bad - 3000 in one day -
24,000 people die every day due to starvation and there is enough food in the world for everyone - distribution issue

It should stagger you the amount of need that the world has
Gen 12 - you are blessed to be a blessing
I still don't know you very well, but I know you are blessed beyond measure to meet the world's deepest needs

The world needs disciples that give up their own comfort, their own safe lifestyle, their own consumeristic existences - to reach those that don't know yet. It needs people that are willing to give up everything for Jesus sake and the life He offers.

ST: $5 gift bag at Target - 3 days of wages for someone on the other side of the world - I'm saying all of this to me as well as you
My kids are very tired of hearing it from me

ST: Ben and Gui - Ben's bible

ST: going to Brasil and Cameroon
"I'm not too interested in going to Cameroon." I want to be safe and live an easy life

God doesn't have a plan B - you are His plan A.
When you lose sight of the mission - because mission always clarifies - it is easy to lose faith to follow.

You have a crucial role to play - time is short and the world needs you - calling for heroic, noble, extraordinary people - no one else can do it but you
Do you feel like Frodo? Incapable, how could God use me, so ill-prepared,
And someone wants you out of the picture

===== #4 - Faith for Home =====
OP: Heb 11:32 to end

review from the previous sessions
- nurture your uniqueness - dream up something so big it would only work if God was in it
- the real picture of a disciple - is that you? heart for the lost, go after the 1, hear His voice
- choose to learn about a significant part of the world - get involved with the One Campaign at your school, write a letter to a missionary that you know

patterns of behavior that will help after you get home
do this via some of my favorite stories

1 - relationship between faith and risk
when you have enough faith, isn't the task no longer risky?

ST: SPACE - tony's experiment
launched from Perspectives
students - great worship and small groups but no community service

kicked out of a nursing home
locked the keys in the church van in front of a homeless mission - with it running
Brasil - 24 hour delay at Dulles

every plan goes down the tube and we come to expect it - increase the risk threshold - and its not my fault
how can we create students that live on a mission 24x7 regardless of what kind of mistakes we make
how can we build students to lead in these dynamic, risky, innovative environments to reach the nations
how can we compel them to so that the world their playground and their heartache
to be motivated not by a plan but by a longing
the world will not be reached by risk averse people

every day do something you are scared of - give God lots of room to work
the world is waiting for Jesus followers to take a risk for humanity
ST: AM truck in Peru

ST: PM flying me to Phoenix for an amazing week

the stories listed in Heb 11 were risky. And they didn't wait until they had enough faith...

2 - listening to God - active listening - maybe he speaks audibly
ST: God speaking that particular last name to me and I did nothing about it
they were in the hospital that weekend

ST: CUs dream with the name of "Miguel " before LA
God would send a suburban high school kid from Columbia to the inner city of LA with the name of Miguel stamped on his heart

3 - understand the culture that you live in
very spiritual culture but not very religious
loves Jesus but hates the church
how can you be a student of this culture in order to point them to God?

You must be relevant to the culture as a Jesus follower - see Jesus movements
Acts 17 - Paul quotes one of their poets

redemptive analogy
Star Wars
Lord of the Rings

how about cyber culture? most people haven't given MySpace enough credit
if people that follow Jesus miss out on the virtual culture - Web 2.0 - we have missed huge
most Christians don't give MySpace enough credit

Don't call us saints; we don't want to be dismissed that easily. Dorothy Day

Reading List:
The Barbarian Way - Erwin McManus
Seizing Your Divine Moment - Erwin McManus
Waking the Dead - John Eldredge
Out of the Saltshaker - Rebecca Pippert

For Leaders:
The Shaping of Things to Come - Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch
An Unstoppable Force - Erwin McManus
Exiles - Michael Frost
The One Thing You Need to Know - Marcus Buckingham
Now, Discover Your Strengths [StrengthsFinder] - Marcus Buckingham
The End of Poverty - Jeffrey Sachs
Organic Church - Neil Cole


Here are the slides that I showed for those of you that might be interested. [This is my first time using SlideShare, which is a fun tool that converts PowerPoint files into a web slide show that can easily be embedded into a post. If you read this via RSS, I think you have to click to my actual post to be able to see it. Let me know how it works for you.]

I Decided What to Have For Lunch

I had beef noodle soup for lunch today. In other words, I was actually able make a decision...

Thanks to you readers and good friends for praying and thinking of us. My dad seemed to be doing pretty well today - he was sitting up when I visited him around lunch time. Our puppy is still fine although we have no idea when this condition may catch up with her. In the meantime, we will enjoy her as long as we can. My retreat notes are done.

And if you read via an RSS reader, sorry about the weird post with the foreign characters - another spammer trying to capture my readership. Those crazy spammers. And thanks to those who alerted me. See you guys on the other side of what should be a really fun weekend - pray that it is significant.
It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons. - William Gurnall

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Real Sheng Fun

The past few days have seemed like an alternate reality. Like D wrote, the simplest decisions have paralyzed me for the past few days.

You readers know that my dad had major surgery yesterday. The good news is that he seems to be doing fairly well. The surgery was to remove a part of his colon and they think it went well. Thanks to those of you that were praying, we really appreciate it.

The bad news is that our puppy has tested positive for a kidney condition - her kidneys are malformed and not functioning like they should. This means that she won't live very long because her body cannot rid itself of toxins like it should. 'A very poor prognosis' was the official word. For those of you that have spent anytime with Em, you know that her world revolves around animals. She is going to be crushed when we have to say goodbye to her - which could be as soon as a month.

And this dog is absolutely one of the sweetest dogs I have ever met. Her disposition is so friendly and she loves every person she has met - a definite extrovert like me. She is smart too, we even taught her how to shake and she almost rolls over on command. She loves to have her belly rubbed and she fetches her toys to play. She is the dog that I always wanted - truly a best friend.

Death is a part of life and for us to forget or ignore that is a mistake - even with young children. Sometimes, the best way to prepare for difficult deaths - because they will come - is to understand them via the experience of an easier death - like the one of a pet. This is what happened to K, understanding the death of her other grandfather through remembering her goldfish, "Goldie" dying earlier that year. We could say that Phoebe might do that for Em. Even so, it certainly won't make it any easier.

We are going to have - I have decided without telling anyone yet - a family prayer time for Phoebe and we are going to pray and lay hands on her. Sure, why not - God could make some kidneys for a sweet five month old puppy if He wanted to.

The third piece of fun and/or stress - depending on how you look at it - is that I've been getting my notes together for this retreat I am speaking at this weekend. [Icing on the cake was how I just deleted all my notes by accident a few minutes ago - luckily I had a backup.] I'm very excited about it, I think it's going to be fun and the stuff I'm speaking on is really a summary of my life and my stories. I'm not sorry we are doing it in the midst of everything else that is going on - I accepted the invitation long before the issues with my dad or Phoebe appeared.

With all this going on, you might be wondering - like I am: just how significant is this weekend going to be?

Momma T

Mother Teresa was one of those people who sacrificed great privilege because she encountered such great need. People often ask me what Mother Teresa was like. Sometimes it's like they wonder if she glowed in the dark or had a halo. She was short, wrinkled, and precious, maybe even a little ornery, like a beautiful, wise old granny. But there is one thing I will never forget - her feet. Her feet were deformed. Each morning in Mass, I would stare at them. I wondered if she had contracted leprosy. But I wasn't going to ask, of course. "Hey Mother, what's wrong with your feet?" One day a sister said to us, "Have you noticed her feet?" We nodded, curious. She said, "Her feet are deformed because we get just enough donated shoes for everyone, and Mother does not want anyone to get stuck with the worst pair, so she digs through and finds them. And years of doing that have deformed her feet." Years of loving her neighbor as herself deformed her feet.
- The Irresistible Revolution

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

If you pray could you

If you pray could you pray for my dad today - colon surgery today thanks!

Tuesday Potpourri

** Even more on the Adoption curve here [related post] from an older post from Marc.

** From notes on The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South by Philip Jenkins
In Africa between 1900 and 2000, the number of Christians grew from 10 million to 360 million, from 10 percent of the population to 46 percent.

How is this happening? According to Jenkins, at least three factors are at work:
1. the Bible as a living Word from God;
2. a supernatural worldview
3. the adaptation of the faith to the culture of the recipients. They own it.
Link. If you haven't read The Next Christendom also by Jenkins, you should.

** For each dollar donated to a congregation, denominations spent 2 cents on overseas missions in 2004, down from 7 cents in the 1920s. Link from the Center for Missional Research.

** The top 10 worst ice breakers
- What’s your favorite of The 10 Commandments to break?
- If you could have anything from your neighbor’s house, what would it be?
- Share the juiciest piece of gossip you know so we can pray about it.
- Which people at your church do you wish would find a different church, and why?
More from the Zone Gathering blog - the online community for the leaders of National Community Church.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Part of SPACE's Core Score

AMsr in India with Adventures in Missions. She has been there since September and will be there until December. See SPACE's Oct 2006 core score. More images of this team here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Retreat Speaking Prep

I've been spending a good amount of time getting ready for this retreat I'm speaking at next weekend. The basics are four sessions centered around a common theme and the end of each talk will have time for small group interaction. The small group time at the end of each session is an idea that I totally stole from the way we do retreats at LC/CpR. My role specifically is to catalyze some momentum for the leaders of this ministry so that they can inspire and impact their students. Retreat speakers can say some great things, but its the day-to-day ministry leaders that really know their students and they are the ones that can really coach them well for life transformation.

I started to brainstorm an overall outline a few weeks ago, right when I first accepted the invitation. Basic prep includes coming up with the overall session ideas, expanding those ideas and adding illustrations and personal stories. Since I don't speak formally a lot, I know I'm going to need to practice the talks quite a bit. In other words, I have a busy weekend ahead.

I find that for things like this - short talks, longer talks, blog posts, etc. - I get an initial idea that I think is pretty good. I will work on it for a little while, let it sit and then come back to it. When I come back to it, I almost always think the idea stinks. Same goes this time. I thought most of the main topics for the sessions were a bit - hmm how shall I put it - unconventional, obscure, wacky.

I sent off my notes to ministry leader to give them some heads up and the liberty to make changes - context is important. The response was something along the lines of how happy he was at the ideas and that they were going to fit almost perfectly with where these students are at.

Stick with your ideas - indeed sometimes they can be truly inspired.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Potpourri

** "Duty is the pilot light of passion" from Bart Campolo.

** Flash Earth via Lon

** How to be interesting:
1. Take at least one picture everyday. Post it to flickr. [BTW, My Flickr.]
4. Every week, read a magazine you’ve never read before.
5. Once a month interview someone for 20 minutes, work out how to make them interesting. Podcast it.
7. Once a week sit in a coffee-shop or cafe for an hour and listen to other people’s conversations. Take notes. Blog about it. (Carefully)
via Kottke

** Migration To and From the UK
565,000 people migrated to the UK, while 380,000 left. The leading sources of new migrants were the "New Commonwealth" countries - mostly India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The largest destinations for departing Brits: Australia, Spain and France.
more from The Creative Exchange

** Some admin stuff - all on the sidebar.
- I've added some subscriber buttons so you can easily subscribe to your favorite rss reader [Bloglines, Google Reader, MyYahoo]
- You can still continue to subscribe to posts via email.
- I just started to use for links to documents that readers can download. I like it and it tracks how many downloads for each document.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

No Idea Where or When But...

SPACE summer 2007 team leader and student applications are available. Look on the right side of the blog under the section titled "SPACE 2007 Downloads." You will see a Word document that you can download, fill out and email back. Feel free to pass the word along.

UPDATE 11-12:
Oops. There is one more thing I have to put on the apps - they will be back up by next weekend.

UPDATE 11-13:
Applications are back up. Download them and fill 'em out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reentry with Tom Cruise

So many things in the past few days have reminded me of Cameroon for some strange reason. The Ghost is trying to blow some embers and I'm getting excited for the next season of SPACE come January. You should be too.

The biggest reminder, oddly enough, was the release of Mission:Impossible:III on DVD last week. I've been a huge fan of the movies [global destinations, cool gadgetry and the epic battle for good and evil] and will eventually buy it used. I watched this movie on the plane ride home between Paris and the US and watched it with ESunde, my amazing intern that continued to be an amazing leader - who incidentally is going to China for a few weeks in January. We sat together for three out of the four flights - alphabetized tickets.

In many ways, I had just finished an incredible mission - Africa, blessing one of our own, students that invested so much in others, a rich time of debriefing and reentry in Paris. In a weird way, watching that movie was part of my personal reentry. Hey, people have certainly done more unconventional debriefings...

From the "I'd Rather Be In Africa" facebook group.
- it doesn't seem right to pay the asking price on anything in a store. If you can't barter for it, it's not worth having.
- four cars are driving parallel to each other on a one-lane road.
- cramming 7 passangers in a 4 passenger taxi is really not a big deal.
- carry purell like it's your life supply.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Nephew Brendan

D has all the details.

The End of Poverty - Chapter 1

Some friends and I are going to be posting some notes and reflections from The End of Poverty. [If you are reading this via an RSS reader, this post will probably be updated quite a bit.] This is the book that the One campaign is based on and if you like reading this blog, you should read this book.

My rough notes:
- Malawi – The Perfect Storm for the Poverty Trap
Bangladesh – On the Ladder of Development
India – Center of an Export Services Revolution
China – The Rise of Affluence

- Percentage of people that live in rural areas - the relationship between economic development and population that lives in rural areas
Malawi – 84
Bangladesh – 76
India 72
China 61
US – 20

- What do these four widely divergent images of the globe show us? We see an almost unimaginable divide between the richest and poorest parts of the world, with all the gradations in between. We glimpse the pivotal roles that science and technology play in the development process.

- If economic development is a ladder with higher rungs representing steps up the path to economic well-being, there are roughly one billion people around the world, one sixth of humanity, who live as the Malawians do: too ill, hungry, or destitute even to get a food on the first run of the development ladder. These people are the 'poorest of the poor' or the 'extreme poor' of the planet. They all live in developing countries (poverty does exist in rich countries, but it is not extreme poverty). Of course, not all of these one billion people are dying today, but they are all fighting for survival each day. If they are the victims of serious drought or flood, or an episode of a serious illness, or a collapse of the world market price of their cash crop, the result is likely to be extreme suffering and perhaps even death.

- All told, the extreme poor (1 billion people) and the poor (another 1.5 billion) make up around 40 percent of humanity.

- The overwhelming share of the world's extreme poor live in three regions: East Asia, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

- The greatest tragedy of our time is that one sixth of humanity is not even on the development ladder. A large number of the extreme poor are caught in a poverty trap, unable on their own to escape from extreme material deprivation. They are trapped by disease, physical isolation, climate stress, environmental degradation and by extreme poverty itself. Even though life-saving solutions exist to increase their chances for survival – whether in the form of new farming techniques, or essential medicines, or bed nets that can limit the transmission of malaria – these families and their governments simply lack the financial means to make these crucial investments. The world's poor know about the development ladder: they are tantalized by images of affluence from halfway around the world. But they are not able to get a first foothold on the ladder, and so cannot even begin the climb out of poverty.

My thoughts:
1. This relationship of what percentage of people live in urban vs. rural areas and the 'progression of development' reminds me that we are living in unprecedented times related to urban and global migration. There are good, logical reasons why people are moving to the cities - and some of the reasons are literally about life and death.

The BBC series on global migration.
Urban migration
So although this poverty issue is huge outside of the US, we don't necessarily need to go abroad to make an impact on someone who has lived with the realities of poverty first hand. We can probably engage in any major city in the US, for instance working with refugees, international students or connecting with English classes.

2. The extreme poor related to the 10/40 window.
Most of the extreme poor live in the 10/40 window, yet only about 8% of all Christian missionaries work there. Without getting too far ahead, the types of solutions offered in the book in the later chapters offer some phenomenal opportunities for the Church to take the lead in the fight against extreme poverty.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Moving Silently

Although in a previous post, I told you that SPACE had a pretty low key pace this fall so far, there are definitely things moving. I've had a few people ask me about next summer's plans and one of our Youth Min admins has already gotten a few parent calls asking dates and schedules. We both enjoyed a hearty chuckle about that.

The Spirit is certainly moving - I've seen evidence of it in three very specific, tangible events just today. All three have to do with specific friends and partners; a notion of direction; and the potential to impact student teams, future direction and the cultivation of more leaders. It's exciting and though I can't tell you much more, I'm confident that this summer is going to be just as amazing as the last three.

The girlies and I are on day two of four without D. She is in GA for the birth of our newest nephew/cousin, hopefully without issue on Monday morning. We just finished a killer round of Disney Princess Monopoly - of course, I let them win.

I've been spending quite the bit of time watching the 2006 Origins DVDs.

"Change is a core dynamic to who your church attracts. If you do not move at a rapid rate of change or pace, you will not attract the top end 15% of culture leaders." [related post on this 15% - the innovators and early adopters]

Friday, November 03, 2006

Driscoll's Advice

In light of the Haggard news, Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill offers some good advice for all of us. Even if you aren't a pastor, I think we can all reflect on these ideas and help our pastors out in these ways:
- Every pastor needs a pastor. Too often the pastor is seen as a sort of little God and his wife as some glorified First Lady. Every pastor needs a pastor with whom he can regularly have accountability and the confession of sin. Every pastor’s wife also needs a godly woman chosen for her maturity and trustworthiness.

- There is no reason a pastor should be sitting alone at the church at odd hours (e.g., early morning and late evening) to study when anyone can drop in for any reason and have access to him. Instead, a pastor should come into the office for scheduled meetings and work from home on tasks such as emails, planning, studying, sermon preparation, etc. I spend the vast majority of my time working from home. Some years ago when I did not, I found that lonely people, some of them hurting single moms wanting a strong man to speak into their life, would show up to hang out and catch time with me. It was shortly thereafter that I brought my books home and purchased a laptop and cell phone so that I was not tied to the church office.

- Pastors have the right to protect their own home. This means that if someone keeps dropping by unannounced and is unwelcome, or a flirtatious woman shows up to a Bible study at the pastor’s home, the pastor and his family have the right to request that they never return. The pastor’s home simply cannot be viewed as yet another piece of church property that is accessible to anyone who desires it. Rather, the pastor’s home must be a safe place for the pastor and his family without the wrong people rudely calling and dropping by.

- Churches should consider returning to heterosexual male assistants who are like Timothy and Titus to serve alongside pastors. Too often the pastor’s assistant is a woman who, if not sexually involved, becomes too emotionally involved with the pastor as a sort of emotional and practical second wife.

- Pastors need to carefully protect their cell phone number. If that private number gets out, too many of the wrong people have access to the pastor. Not only should the cell phone number of a pastor be given out to only a few people, he should also consider eliminating his voicemail and simply have calls forwarded to his assistant. In this way people will not become too informal with the pastor and if the pastor knows someone is trouble (e.g., a flirtatious woman), he can see that on his caller ID and simply refuse to answer the call or have to deal with a voicemail.

- Pastors must not travel alone; the anonymity and fatigue of the road is too great a temptation for many men. A pastor should take his wife, an older child, an assistant, or fellow leader with him. If this cannot be afforded then travel should not be undertaken.
More in the whole post. I checked my cell phone tonight and for some reason, I had my pastor's cell number. I deleted it.

Related: My book review of Driscoll's book - Confessions of a Reformation Rev

Thursday, November 02, 2006

November Update

Well, I thought it might be nice for those of you that actually read this bog of html to give you a substantial update. So, here it goes.

First, the Fall has given SPACE a very slow pace. We haven't really done any student service/mission projects at all so far this school year. The original idea was to gather some momentum and drive it into the Friday night outreaches - sending students from summer teams into the community. That worked nominally - and it was a good idea that was worth trying. Come January, I think we will be back to more SPACE experiences. In the meantime, we are giving it some more thought and setting some things in motion for after the holidays. More on that later.

Although SPACE has been tame this Fall, our family life has not. The girls are having a great school year but there is a lot of activity going on - brownies, gymnastics, piano lessons - almost over the line. Even with two kids in school all day, D has been quite busy with volunteering in school, a tutoring gig and various other things. The new puppy is working out pretty well, but one more thing to take care of. We are balancing it all and it is all good things but still makes for a busy week. There has also been one other looming life thing which has taken some attention and energy. It's a good thing but I can't quite tell you about it - yet.

One other big piece of news is that my dad was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Twelve years ago, he had bladder cancer and the miracle doctors took out his bladder and reconstructed a small bladder from a piece of his small intestine. Ever since that, he has been going in for 6 month checkups. One of his checkups last month came back strange so they did some more tests and think they caught it early - the prognosis is supposedly good. He is scheduled to have surgery on November 14. We are of course hoping for good news but also bracing for the possibility that life may certainly change. We would certainly appreciate your prayers for my dad, Frank.

I'm going to be speaking on a retreat in a few weeks. DHelger and I got to know each other through the Nens - our hosts in Cameroon. When the Nens used to live here in Columbia, they were involved full time with the local high school ministry of The Navigators. DHelger and his wife now run the ministry and they asked me to come and share with their students. It should be a great time and I think this might be the start of a fun connection with DHelger. Their ministry has been part of a partnership with a ministry in Bulgaria for a number of years. Also, DHelger is the brother of AmyM, who is married to Matt, both of whom comment on here every once in a while. We are making it a family trip - it will be fun to get away for a little bit together.

We are doing the Winter-Sheng-Orlando-Fest in February. Somehow, Orlando seems to be a connecting point for us at least once a year. We will be going as a family for almost a week and I will be attending Humana 2.0 [although I still have to register] which I'm really excited about. There are going to be some good friends attending with me which is just as exciting.

Anyway, thanks to those of you out there reading this, thinking, praying and encouraging us. It's a honor to consider you as friends - friends in the truest form of having our hearts tied together by the One who launches us so that we can launch students.

Can We Lose More Leaders?

"Movement builders must have the ability to give away and to lose control of money, members, and leaders. As Paul planted churches, he really "empowered" the new leaders. He gave them ownership -- losing in the process a lot of control. Current churches or movements cannot bear thought of money-giving families, or key leaders, or just friends being lost to new works." - talking about Tim Keller's article on church planting
I think SPACE is going to start losing some key people in its history pretty soon. There is the subtle blowing of the Spirit that is getting ready to jettison some of our good friends away from their current localities. Having students graduate from high school and go to college is one thing but I'm talking about something even more dramatic and more distant - both physically and culturally. SPACE has given these people a good foundation and they are continuing to learn, grow and mature into God's change agents - the world is not only their stage, it is also their playground and their heartache.

When it happens, it will be both exciting and sad. These are some good friends, they have invested in SPACE as much as it has invested in them, our family has a deep love for these people and - they buy girl scout cookies from my kids. Not only do we have to give them away for the worlds' sake, we have to give them away because like it or not, that was the whole idea.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


So last night after all the Halloween kids were done, we got one final knock on the door. A neighbor needed a ride to the airport so I thought it was either one last group of kids or my friend JM. Instead, we opened the door to see a bunch of high school kids get into a van, some yum brownies and a whole bunch of 'eggs' scattered all over our porch.

A little bird [Robyn - get it] said she 'heard some people came by your house yesterday and left some encouraging egg-shaped notes...'

Thanks 11th grade girls - you made our Halloween even funner!