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.

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.