Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Worldwide Child Labor Plunges

::: Singapore has the Most Powerful Passport in the World

::: Is Estonia a Preview of our Tech Future?

::: The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience. - Benedict of Nursia

Photo: Making missionary speakers. Fairfax, VA. October 2017.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Whisper - Mark Batterson

One of my core convictions is that the church ought to be the most creative place on the planet. I believe there are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet. And as an author and preacher, I try to say old things in new ways. Those values weren't birthed in a vacuum. They were catalyzed by a wide variety of experiences, one of which was The Toymaker's Dream. And that's the beautiful thing about dreams. You never know when or where or who or how your dream will inspire someone else to pursue his or her dream. Only the Dream Giver knows that. But we'll have a lot of people to thank someday for directly and indirectly inspiring our dreams.

We've been inspired by Pastor Mark and NCC for many years now - long time readers know that. We also try to drop in with some friends there a few times a year since it's so close. NCC has certainly helped us dream and Whisper is a great read for those of you that live willing to try new and interesting things for the Lord.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Burn

::: The 12 world leaders under 40

::: Be Ruthless
From Fred Smith, who runs The Gathering, one of the largest events for Christian philanthropists:
Learn enough to get started.
Only work with those who are receptive.
First ideas, then results.

::: The Power of Anti-Goals

::: "I don't need time. What I need is a deadline." - Duke Ellington via Tim Ferris

Photo: Tram, Taormina, Italy. July 2017.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Random - Missions Pitch

I get a good amount of mission support letters, as you might imagine, and lots of times, there is a request to hear the 'pitch.' I actually like that - I think most people in these circumstances can use more practice for their pitch and I'm always willing to listen when I can. And there are almost always interesting and intriguing items of note in the orbit of the people and projects sending me these, here are some from the latest batch:

+ A church in a rural East Coast area has a vision to start both 10 campuses and 10 independent nonprofits serving specific areas in the community.
+ Distributed missions organization - treats all of their staff like everyone is an entrepreneur. Which I think is atypical.
+ One of the pitches was related to a community agriculture project. The candidate family is moving overseas and has secured an agreement with a local city government for land for a 9 year lease for $1.
+ Funding for one of these candidates is flowing through his own nonprofit, not through the sending agency. The perspective on this was that the agency wanted this person to own his financial network.
+ Most young people skip budgeting for retirement. At their age, time is their friend so skipping it is a big mistake. I know that can sound like a lack of faith. I would argue that it can sound like a lack of brains.
+ I received a very detailed project plan for one of these pitches, which included terms such as schedule performance index, variance at completion and annual yield. It was put together like a business, because, well, if your nonprofit doesn't make any money, it will cease to be a nonprofit.

As always, if you want to know more about these, ping me directly.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Mining Wifi Data on the London Tube

::: Science Says the Most Successful Kids Have Parents Who Do These 9 Things

::: Dad Suggests Arriving at Airport 14 Hours Early

::: 38 Startups Serving the Underserved

::: Bees create hives, ants create colonies, but humans create futures. - Erwin McManus

Photo: London, July 2015.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


We have started a new experiment this year as part of some Ember staff development: a monthly staff dinner with special guests. The goal of this is to gather our staff, and specifically, our ProtoGuide [who I will tell you more about soon] to hear from some of the most creative, missionally imaginative and innovative people we know.

Last week, our guests were B & S, who serve with The Samaritan Woman. TSW is a one of a kind organization dedicated to restorative work for victims of human trafficking. I've known B & S for a number of years and have always been impressed by their dedication, passion and ability to execute.

Some highlights from the dinner conversation:
TSW currently 3 residential recovery properties.
One mortgage paid off last week.
Another one paid off a few months ago by a very large, local church.

S listens to a podcast where there is a lady mentoring homeless women to make granola that breaks all sales records. She calls her and asks to be mentored.

TSW used train their clients in urban farming as a vocational skill - they have one of the only urban farms in Baltimore. But they pivoted, because most of their clients actually don't want to dig in the dirt.

Advice for a 17 year old interested in this kind of stuff:
Kingdom work isn't an exclusive marketplace either/or ministry anymore - it is more of a the ability to leverage your marketable skills.
Follow the Lord in obedience. You will reap joy in your life.

Thanks B and S and other guests for hanging with us.

Monday, October 09, 2017


Part of Ember got to join Chinese Bible Church, Fairfax for their annual missions conference this past weekend. Great time with their people. CBCF is church plant from Chinese Bible Church, College Park which was planted from Chinese Bible Church of Maryland, making CBCF a third generation church plant.

Always interesting questions about missions from things like this, including these from this weekend:
- Isn't short term missions a waste of time and energy when long term missions might actually make more of a difference?
- How do you figure out what your gifting and passions are and organize your life around that?
- What are some things that have changed in the field of missions since you started being involved compared to now?
- If I have some pre-teens at home, how could I start to prepare them for being involved in some of these things?

Thanks again CBCF for having The Ember Cast.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Dangerous Shortcuts in Missions Mobilization

::: What is the Right Size for a Leadership Team?

::: 3 Hours of Productivity Every Day?

::: "If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine - it's lethal." - Paulo Coelho

Photo: Church in Sicily. July 2017.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

2017 CBCF Missions Conference,October 6-8

Would love to say hi if you are around...

Theme: Making Missions Matter

Oct 6, Friday at Rejoice Fellowship, McLean Bible Church 1A
Dinner starts at 6:30 pm, Program starts at 7:30 pm
(RSVP for dinner:
Speaker: Tony Sheng and the Missions Team
Message: “Vision and Skills for Missions Today (Ephesians 3:20 and John 20:21)
Missions sharing: The Ember Cast ministry

Oct 7, Saturday at CBCCP
Dinner starts 6:00 pm, Program starts 7:00 pm, Refreshment starts 9:10 pm
Short term missionary sharing: Crystal Mak (Go & Love)
Missionary sharing: K&M
Message by Dr. Brent Slater, Translation in Mandarin

Oct 8, Sunday at CBCF
Speaker: Tony Sheng and the Missions Team
10:00 am Message “Missions starting from us to next generation” (Daniel 1)
11:30 am Testimony: “Our Missions Journey”


(晚餐請至 報名)
信息:《宣教的異象與技巧》(弗三20, 約廿21),及火種傳遞宣教事工分享


十一時卅, 分見證分享:我們的宣教歷程

Monday, October 02, 2017

Think Deeply About Relief

Sandy. Maria. Harvey. Irma. Katrina. Matthew.

My advice to churches and nonprofits that want to send teams to assist with these kinds disasters? It isn't popular advice...
1. Send money. But not to the Red Cross. [Extra reading]
2. If you must send teams immediately, send highly trained professionals. Think medical, supply chain, construction, infrastructure. [Extra reading]
3. If you send teams later, ensure they are prepared to build capacity and not just do labor. [Extra reading: 1 2 ]

Most of us are surrounded by people that sacrifice incredibly because they have been blessed to bless others. Consider that resource carefully.

Photo: Coney Island, NYC. Post-Sandy. Jan 2013.