Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wess Stafford

Stafford has served as Compassion’s President since 1993. He is the author of Too Small to Ignore – Why Children Are the Next Big Thing.

Wess opened with a story of a conversation he had with a pastor that was persecuted by Ethiopia’s Marxist regime back in the eighties. (It was under this regime that Ethiopia experienced modern histories’ worst famine – remember Live Aid?) Wess told the pastor that we in America were praying for the church in Ethiopia. The pastor told Wess that they were praying for the church in America. “I heard,” said the pastor, “that because American Christian have so much, they can go an entire hour without talking to God. Is that true?”

It’s true.

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Brad and Angela all understand the concept of to whom much is given, much is required. And they don’t even have an eternal or spiritual mandate or motivation.

There are over 2,100 verses in the Bible about helping the poor. Many more verses about delivering the impoverished than verses about heaven and hell. Yet, heaven and hell are all we talk about.

The headlines of every newspaper everyday should read:


According to Matthew 25, Jesus is disguised as a little child.

Compassion has become a conduit for churches to help churches; pastors to help pastors. He gave a caution based on Bruce Wilkinson’s recent failure and disillusionment: pastors need to work with pastors; not presidents or parliaments.

Breakout Four

Breakout Four
Compassions Contribution to the Growth of the Church in Africa

This was a round table presentation for church leaders. Presenters were Shiferaw Michael of Ethiopia, Bishop John Rucyahana of Rwanda, and Ken McKinney, Compassion’s Director of International Tours and Travel.

Shiferaw Michael

Shiferaw opened with this statement: “I feel like the mother of Moses; she got paid for raising her own child.

Compassion’s methodology is connecting local churches here in the states with churches in the third world to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Shiferaw is on the business end of the stick.

Since churches in Africa have been equipped to serve churches, the impact has been amazing. For every child that is sponsored, thirty people in that child’s community are positively influenced and challenged. Compassion sponsors give and people on the receiving end are challenged to serve and get involved in their local communities. Pastors focused on serving children are working as one rather than in competition with one another.

I’ve witnessed this challenge from church leaders first hand when I worked in Sudan. As my family served the poor in Sudan, the church community came around and pitched in.

The Word of God is taught with freshness because churches have moved to the center of Jesus’ heart: loving the least of these.

Bishop John Rucyahana

John is Rwandan. John is a peace maker.

Rucyahana echoed Shiferaw by saying that every church and community is challenged by the work Compassion is doing among them. The church is being mobilized. The work being done is deliverance; taking people from the grip of the devil.

The worst genocide in modern history has left multitudes of children orphans. Touching a child, physically laying your hand on him brings healing to one that has been through so much suffering. The world abandoned this child and now he’s been left without parents.

50% of women raped during that genocide are HIV positive. HIV/AIDS was used as a weapon.

There is a need to be more deliberate about Africa’s deliverance.

The good news is that 32,000 Rwandan children benefit from Compassion.

Ken McKinney

Ken recommended two books: The World is Flat and The $100 Billion Dollar Allowance.

Ken has a way of crafting the points he makes into neat little sound bytes. Let me leave you with those:
  • Listen instead of lead.

  • Serve instead of solve.

  • We are needs based, not donor reactive.

  • Support relationships instead of directing relationships.

  • Don’t wish for a different life; live life differently.

  • Let’s not be known for what we’re against; let’s be known for what we are for.

Trippin Short Term

Trippin’ Short Term
Short-Term Mission Trip Model
Ken McKinney

Short-term mission trips are about going and “being Jesus” is what McKinney emphasized on Saturday morning at the Compassion conference.

McKinney stressed that we live in a society that is totally out of touch with the rest of the world. While we pursue the American dream, the rest of the world is just trying to scrape together just enough food to eat today.

Mission trips open our eyes to the contrast between desperate poverty and extreme affluence. It forces us to make a decision. How will we respond to the need?

Prov. 14:21; 28:27; 31:8-9; Matt. 10:41-43; 25:40; 19:14; Mark 9:37; John 4:13-14

Day Trip

Compassion has done an amzing job of putting together this conference. They arranged some outings on Saturday to break up the schedule a little and provide some time for making friends.

I went on a paddle boat on the Mississippi River. Here are some pics:

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Friday Evening

Friday Evening Session
Tony Campolo

This is the first time I’ve ever heard Campolo speak. I’ll tell you the truth: I’ve stayed away from his him ever since I heard he was invited to the White House as a friend when Clinton was in office.

I feel like an idiot. This man really has something to say and the church needs to listen up.

Campolo recalled his years as a college professor between 1965 thru 1975. He marveled that young people really thought they could change the world. And do it tomorrow. But leaders, political and religious – leaders that embodied the expectation of a better world - were assassinated. I was born in 1965 so it’s difficult for me to process that this happens any where but under third world regimes.

Young people moved from an era of hope to self-centeredness. The so-called “Me Generation”. And then we wonder why we’ve produced such a materialistic generation.

Campolo did sort of a fill in the blank thing with the conference crowd:

“You need to go to college.”
“To get a good job.”
“So you can make lots of money.”
“So you can buy lots of stuff.”

“The purpose of an education is to serve people in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Campolo says that present day politicians play on our fears. And preachers get their sermons from politicians instead of the Bible. Ouch.

He encouraged us to re-vitalize our prayer lives with the power of the Holy Spirit. Don’t rely on pre-packaged presentations to encourage people to follow Christ or to serve others. Do it in the strength and power of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to be a regenerating force in prayer, daily.

“But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Campolo said, “Read the Bible like a love letter. Did you ever read a love letter just to get the facts?”

Compassion is an emotion. Allow the Holy Spirit and the Bible stir up compassion in our lives.

George Jowee

George Jowee

George grew up in a Nairobi slum. He explained that it was a difficult process for children to get enrolled in Compassion’s sponsorship program. There are so many needy children. It is just as difficult to get Sponsors. Many people walk up to Compassion displays at conferences, festivals, and churches just to browse, curiously. But the choice of kids to pick can be overwhelming and potential sponsors just walk away.

It’s a meticulous process to match a child with a sponsor. I picked up a packet for a young West African boy today. (Sponsor a child)

George said that once he was enrolled in Compassion his whole life changed. Jowee explained that he was a hooligan growing up among peers that soon contracted HIV/AIDS or destroyed the mental functions with drugs, or were shot by police or other gang members. Jungle law is rules in Kenya’s slums.

George grew up in a house with seven brothers and sisters, his mother, two aunts, and twelve cousins. When I say house, I mean hut. When George was away for Compassion events, the house rejoiced over the space gained.

There was division in the house, as you can imagine, with such a crowd. George explained that his sponsor was wise enough to address correspondence “To George and Family”. The letters were saved and reread at Christmas time. Jowee said that this had a calming effect on the family and helped overcome the division.

Jowee is all grown up and attends university here in the US. When home in Nairobi, he volunteers with Compassion to teach, speak to, and reach kids in Compassion’s Kenya program.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Breakout Three

Breakout Three
Holy Hunches, Spiritual Intuition and Not-So-Gentle Promptings
Pastor Greg Nettle, Senior Pastor of River Tree Christian Church

This pastor tells the story of him leading his church from being church-centric in their ministry focus to becoming a body of believers that blesses those outside their local body with force that is centrifugal; outward. The story at his church: as they gave, their offerings went up 50%. But they gave out of a conviction of obedience and love of God, a desire to bless poor children, not expecting God to do anything in return. Literally giving and expecting nothing back. That doesn’t sound like the most logical way to run a ministry, but you can’t out-give God.

He taught us that the blessings we enjoy have one purpose: to be a blessing. Of the money we have, ten percent doesn’t belong to God; it all belongs to God.

Pastor Gary shared about a common experience we Americans have when visiting other cultures to serve and bless them. The visited are incredibly generous and joyful with the little they have because they want to bless us. We too often think that we have to wait until money “happens to us” to be a blessing to others. Meanwhile, we service the debt for the things we have instead of being generous with God’s resources (my comments, not Pastor Gary’s). Ouch.

Thursday Afternoon Session with David Dahlin

Thursday Afternoon Session with David Dahlin
Senior Vic President and Chief Operating Officer

“I want to talk to you as insiders,” Dahlin said. And he began to candidly share a 10 year history of where the ministry has been and Compassion’s vision of ministry for the next ten years.

Child Survival Program.
Compassion has started initiatives where they are working with children in the womb. Historically, they didn’t become involved with children until they were five or six years old. They want to minister to children and their families as early as possible. When a single woman finds herself pregnant in impoverished countries, she doesn’t consider abortion; she considers suicide.

Child Sponsorship.
This is what Compassion is known for: sponsoring marginalized children from early ages on up through twenty-two years old.
“It takes a childhood to develop a child,” Said David Dahlin.

Leadership Development Program.
Educating, developing, and training servant leaders. Children with leadership potential coming up in this ministry turn around and serve their communities, fervently. They understand grinding poverty and being rescued from its evil grasp.

Breakout Session 2

Breakout Session 2
A Look at the Poor and What the Bible Says
Peter Mutabazi Habyarimana

Compassion has done something brilliant at this conference: they have brought men who have been reached for Christ and then cared for up to adulthood thanks to the advocacy of Compassion Sponsors.

Peter was born in Kibali, Uganda near the border of Rawanda. He grew up in an abusive family and at a very young age, Peter ran away from home. H came to Christ throughthe ministry of Compassion Sponsorship.

Peter grew up in the kind of poverty that is difficult for me to grasp. I’ve seen Sally Struthers bawl about on television. And I’ve personally been to places like Uganda and Sudan. I’ve been able to see it, smell it, taste it, and touch it with my own senses. But I always got to go back home. I knew I was leaving and relief for me was around the corner.

Not so with most who share this planet with me.

Peter points out that there are over three thousand references in God’s Word about helping the poor. The Bible describes the poor as socially defenseless, physically oppressed, lowly, and surviving from day to day. In other a places, the Bible says the poor are helpless, weak, and reduced to utter poverty. In the New Testament, the poor are pictured as destitute, without the resources or ability to help one’s self. An image is formed of people that need protection and who rely on others for life sustaining resources.

God is portrayed in Scripture as a compassionate, merciful defender and provider. Those that follow Christ and are being conformed in His image should follow God’s example.

Breakout Session 1

Breakout Session 1

Using a Blog to Promote Child Sponsorship
Tom Emmons

Tom, a fellow blogger, is Compassion’s Internet Marketing Program Manager. It’s Tom’s job to give Compassion as high of an internet profile as possible. In his talk he gave us great examples and valuable tools to achieve that goal at a very grass roots level. Anyone that sponsors a child and has internet access can get up and running with a blog of their very own that will tell personal stories of Compassion involvement while driving internet traffic to Compassion’s website. That’s a very cool way to jump on board with the ministry.

Tom shared some great examples of blogs that are already out there doing just that. One of those bloggers was in the session. Vicki Small has a blog dedicated to Compassion.
Tom shared some places on the web to get Creative Resources from Compassion: Compassion Image Library and Compassion Internet Videos.

Great talk, Tom. We’ll be seeing you in the blogosphere.

Thursday Night Session

Speaker: Shiferaw Michael

Shiferaw is a lawyer from Ethiopia. He was contracted by Compassion to handle the paperwork process opening the way for their work in his home country. He later became Compassion’s Country Director.

Under him, Compassion’s work to reach marginalized Ethiopian children expanded dramatically. Shiferaw successfully spearheaded new programs in Tanzania and now oversees all of Compassion’s projects on the African continent.

A Compassion Advocate is one that speaks out for children in poverty. That’s the focus of Compassion’s work. Shiferaw calls it the “amazing ministry of releasing children in Jesus’ name”. Compassion is a conduit for moving resources from Western local churches to local churches in the foreign field who reach those that have the heart of Jesus: children.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are 55 countries, 47 of them are the least developed on the planet and the home of the world’s largest population of young people. They are targeted by the Muslim world to be fully Islamized.

700,000 children will die of malaria and 2 million will die of water related illnesses. 60% of the population has 67 cents a day to live on. In Burundi, one in seven children are orphans.

Shiferaw said that there are many “Pharaohs” and “Herods” in Africa that take the lives of children. Advocacy is a great intervention.

Fill a Buffet Plate

Today was a travel day and check-in day. I got to Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minnesota for a Compassion International conference. So far, all I’ve done is acclimate myself with the surroundings: I know where to go for a good cup of coffee, a wireless hookup, and chow.

Dinner tonight was served in the Nazareth Café, buffet style. What a God-oincidence: I picked up the latest issue of Wired Magazine for the plane ride and read a “How To” article about attacking a buffet and coming out on the winning end.
1. Work in reverse.
Smart buffet operators position the cheapest stuff (bread, pasta, salad, last week’s lettuce) at the front of the table so you’ll fill up on it. That’s why savvy chowhounds start loading from the back end.
2. Keep a low center of gravity.
Remember your high school physics: Torque equals force times distance from the fulcrum – in this case, the plate center. Start by laying down a ballast of solid meat in the middle to prevent tipping. Reserve the outer rim for the lighter fare.
3. Think vertically.
Diners squander valuable real estate by spreading salad alongside the entrée. Get over your irrational feelings about different foods touching – it goes on top.
4. Stick to flat or malleable foods.
When stacked, meatballs and baked spuds behave like ball bearings. This can result in an embarrassing demo of kinetics. That’s why God created Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes.
5. Flood-control your sauces.
Gravies are prone to sloshing, so ladle the stuff behind a mashed-potatoe levee – and hope it holds.
6. Pocket the bread.
Duh! That’s what cargo pants are for.

Page 036·08|2006·WIRED HOW TO

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Feeling Minnesota

Tomorrow I'll be winging it up to Minneaplois/St. Paul to Compassion International's Advocates Network National Conference.

My friend, Kelly Lyon, down at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale hooked me up with these folks. I'm jazzed about the conference and will post daily (if internet hook-up is available) about the speakers and events that take place.

There's a great lineup of speakers including Compassion President Dr. Wess Stafford, Dr. Tony Campolo, national speaker and Compassion Advocate, and Shiferaw Michael, Associate Director of Child Advocacy for Africa.

I'm looking forward to the worship time, key speakers, and breakout sessions.

Compassion is working worldwide to release children from poverty in Jesus' name.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Armstrong Family Reunion

This is laugh out loud funny...

Coffee Fetish

I’ve resigned. Given in. I can’t quit. Won’t quit. I love it too much.

I’m talkin’ ‘bout a coffee jones. I’ve tried to walk away from that seductive, sultry, dark, hot juice of the bean, but like a sailor to the siren, I’m drawn back.

They say caffeine is bad. I’m not really sure who “they” are, but one week “they” say coffee is bad, then the next week “they” say coffee isn’t as bad as previously reported. And so it goes.

For me, it’s he ritual; it’s the toys. The paraphernalia. My morning starts with five small scoops of whole beans freshly ground. My brother the chef says coffee needs to be grind for thirteen seconds to be right for the French press. The French press is the most vital piece of paraphernalia in this ritual. In a French press hot water and freshly ground beans are poured together into a pitcher and then strained by pushing the mixture through a screen that fits the pitcher perfectly. Grounds end up on the bottom of the pitcher, and wonderful, piping hot coffee is poured into a favorite mug.

My brother, Dan the chef, bought me my first French press in 1996. I replaced it about two years ago and that French press kept through three hurricanes. Beans were ground by car battery and water heated on my barbeque. The beet goes on.

My wife recently purchased the French press of the future. A stainless steel, thermal French press. That’s love.

I’m not an addict, it’s cool, I feel alive --- Garbage

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Dave the Horn Guy

Have you seen this guy yet?

I saw a video of Dave the Horn Guy over on

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Über Christ Follower Damien Kyle

I read the name “Damien” in a pastor’s conference program and instantly thought of the 1970’s movie about the spawn of Satan. I couldn’t help it. That was the only Damien I had ever heard of up to that point.

Don’t get snooty. You thought the same thing.

My first exposure to the teaching ministry of Pastor Damien Kyle was at the 1994 Southeast Calvary Chapel Conference in Merritt Island, Florida. He is a tall guy, and back then, he had really long hair. He stepped up to the pulpit almost like he was going to clean it or get it ready for someone else. I know that sounds like a weird description, but he didn’t take the stage like everyone knew who he was. He seemed to be there to just soak in the richness of whatever the Lord my want to do through whoever stood at that podium.

That’s how he took the pulpit: like he was a “whoever.”

He spoke slowly, clearly, compellingly. He spoke about bitterness. He told of the three-way relationship between Uriah, Bathsheba, and Ahithophel. Ahithophel was related to Bathsheba and was, therefore, dishonored by David’s tryst with her. His opportunity for revenge presented itself when Absalome usurped his father’s throne. Ahithophel became Absalome’s main political advisor and counselor in a war against David.

Ahithophel foreshadowed the betrayal of Judas Iscariot.

Damien taught that bitterness has the shelf-life of a Twinkie. It’s so full of preservatives and artificial ingredients that it lasts and lasts.

Damien spoke at the 2006 Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference in Southern California and gave his personal testimony. He shared his story with incredible transparency. For me, it was the highlight of the conference.

I’ve recently subscribed to Damien’s podcast which will soon be added to my podcasters totem pole.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Bunch of Ugly Mugs

What a depressing morning this turned out to be. I read a post over on Pete Kim's blog with a link to a cool site where you can see what celebrities you look like.

Well, for me, it turns out that the site ain't so cool. Do you think Brad Pitt came up? How about Mel Gibson? Nooooooo.

Sylvester Stallone. Is there a worse picture of Sly on the internet? Doesn't Stallone have anybody in his organization that keeps the worst picture of him out of circulation? If I ran his office, heads would roll.

Bobby Carlton. Does anybody know who this guy is? I looked him up on Wikipedia and got no hits. That's a first for Wiki.

Mel Brooks. Has this guy even worked since History of the World?

Leslie Nielsen. Now I'm just depressed.

Natan Sharansky. Another guy I never heard of until today. But I liked what I found out about him.

Donald Rumsfeld. Somebody shoot me.

Richard Nixon. If it looks like I may still be breathing, pump another round into me. Is it that obvious I'm a Republican?

Edward Said. Someone else I never heard of. I like to think that guys that look like me are destined for brainier things than a Friday night sitcom that gets cancelled halfway through the season.

David Hasselhoff. Speaking of which... David Hasselhoff was my wife's childhood heart throb. Her room was plastered with his pictures torn from the pages of Teen Beat magazine. Now I can tell her she married his look-a-like. She may never stop laughing.

Michael Chrichton. What this report meant to say is that I write like Crichton.

Monday, July 17, 2006

In the Weeds

OH!!! OUCH!!! Saw this "Tour de Crash" video on ESPN this morning. Bummer.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Book Review: The Secret Message of Jesus

Two thirds of The Secret Message of Jesus I liked – no – I loved. The last third, well I was a little lost, like wondering what he was trying to say, and I think I got a little cynical.

This guy is smart and an excellent and interesting writer; really worth reading. I know that he’s a lightening rod for controversy – although, I think he invites it just to get some dialogue going – being one of the daddies of the Emerging Church situation.

If he wasn’t part of that movement (or “conversation” as they like to call it) I think he would be more accepted, but probably not as widely read.

The thing that McLaren has challenged me to do is weigh my theology and politics on the scales of Jesus’ teachings and His life. I appreciate McLaren and his “emergent conversation” for this. In fact, I’m studying the gospels like I haven’t in years.

And he challenges the idea of the conservative Christians and Republican Party being a marriage made in heaven. That’s refreshing as long as the Democrat party isn’t the mistress on the side waiting for a divorce (this is where the cynic in me comes out).

Where McLaren and I definitely part ways is in chapter 19, The Future of the Kingdom. It is in this chapter that the author states, “In our view, God intended to create our universe the way parents give birth to a child: the child is given limits and guidance, but she also has freedom to live her own life. That means that our future is not determined as if it were a movie that’s already been filmed and is just being shown to us.” To be fair, McLaren doesn’t go as far as to say that God doesn’t know the future. He doesn’t say that. But he says the future isn’t determined.

But – and feel free to help me out – didn’t Jesus say, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” [Mark 13:31] Not to mention all of these verses about the fulfillment of God’s Word:

1 Kings 8:56; 1 Chronicles 17:23; Psalm 89:34; Psalm 111:7; Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 5:18; Luke 21:33.

Not to mention the Book of Daniel.

Not to mention the over three hundred prophesies of Christ’s first coming and Jesus’ fulfillment of them in the New Testament.

McLaren ascribes an allegorical interpretation to the book of Revelation because there were numerous apocalyptic writings at the time. The only thing is that is doesn’t begin as apocalyptic writing, it begins as a narrative where John says in Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things that are written in it; for the time is near.” John also goes on to give his location and the things that the Lord had shown him, things that are difficult to relate in the words John currently had in his vocabulary.

I love that McLaren wants the church to literally follow Jesus’ example and literally obey His words and I would challenge him to take as literally as humanly possible the rest of the Message of Jesus in the book of Revelation.

McLaren says he wrote this book for a mostly non-believing audience. Personally, I would not recommend this book to non-believer. If I couldn’t get the non-believer to read the Bible, then I would recommend something from Greg Laurie or Philip Yancey or C.S. Lewis.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Smut Editors

Christianity Today emailed this article today:


No More Smut Editors?

A federal judge has ruled that it's illegal for companies to "sanitize" videos by editing objectionable content. And in principle, I tend to agree.

By Mark Moring | posted 07/11/2006

Late last week, a federal judge in Colorado ruled that "sanitizing" movies on DVD or VHS is a violation of federal copyright laws, and companies that engage in that practice must turn over their inventory to Hollywood studios.

The decision, which came last Thursday, affects such businesses as CleanFlicks, CleanFilms, and Play It Clean Video. Such companies are known for offering "family-friendly" versions of popular movies—including R-rated films—by editing out objectionable content such as sex, nudity, profanity, and graphic violence.

In a 16-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch called the practice of sanitizing videos "illegitimate," and ordered those companies to stop "producing, manufacturing, creating" and renting edited movies.

I think the judge made the right call, at least in principle. Copyright law is far too complicated for me to determine whether sanitizing videos is technically legal—the companies argue that it is legal, citing "fair use" guidelines for copyrighted material—but my concern is about whether it's right.

And I don't think it is.(read the rest of the article here)

I wrote this response:

I read your article and believe that you make some interesting points. The only thing that bothers me about this is that they made it against the law to clean movies up. Somebody wanted to provide a service to people who enjoy the great stories without the shocking material. Often shocking material (especially sexual) is included to “one-up” the competition. It’s a feature that some people would like to do without. Like caffeine or sugar or fat. Should it be illegal to remove caffeine from coffee because it upsets Starbucks or one of their bean growers? Absurd, I know. Or is it the same?

Let me give you an analogy (hopefully it’s “apples to apples”): There are some great stories in the Bible. They are written well. They are graphic, violent, sexual, vulgar language is used (maybe not vulgar in our culture, but definitely in cultural context), but we clean these stories up all the time. In children’s church and even in adult Bible studies, the scriptures are quite sanitary. If we were to tell it straight, people would be offended.

My point is, this ruling “throws the baby out with the bath water “; the baby being the story and the bathwater being the objectionable material.

Have one opinion or another, but don’t make it illegal to choose to censor your own material you purchase. Suing your customers (i.e. those that purchase your movies from you and then sanitize them) is biting the hand that feeds you.

I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this...

Fave Podcasts

Podcasting has got to be the coolest thing since sliced bread. Down the side of this blog, there are some buttons you can click to fetch some of the ones I’m currently listening to. If you don’t have it, click the link to download iTunes.

Calvary Word
This is my church’s podcast. Pastor Dan Plourde is working his way through the book of 1 Corinthians.

Donald Miller
There are four podcasts available from Donald Miller. The first one is him reading from his book To Own A Dragon. I loved the book, but hearing Donald read it is laugh out loud funny. The other three podcasts are a three part interview by Mike Parker of True Tunes Music with Donald Miller and Derek Webb. I walked away from listening to this having more respect for Donald Miller than ever.

Ravi Zacharias
I listen to Ravi’s podcast every week without fail. He’s another guy I like to read as well. This guy is Brilliant.

Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me.
This is a way for the cynical and sarcastic guy to get national news and enjoy belly-rolling laughs.

Calvary Fellowship
Pastor and author Bob Franquiz teaches scripture with relevance and isn’t afraid to have fun. Give his latest series Crash a listen. I love the intro to the Fireproof message.

Active Word
What can I say about Pastor Bob Coy that you don’t already know? His messages challenge me and cause me to grow. His latest messages challenge listeners to be great leaders.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Pay Close Attention

Bob posted a really good piece about all the "anti- Rick Warren" hysteria yesterday, and then someone hijacked the comments section of his blog. It's pretty interesting reading really. But I think people just google Rick Warren's name and then open fire.

Get a life.

So Bob's post as well as some others (influence#1 & influence#2) have inspired me to help some of you anti-everything bloggers with this simple lesson using some flash cards.

You don't have to like everything the guy does, but... well, hopefully, you'll get it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Emerging Hypervent-anoia

This was a quiet, quaint little blog neighborhood. Until yesterday. I average about thirty blog friends popping in to read my silly thoughts or look at the inane pictures that entertain me.

But yesterday was crazy. I had a crowd five times that size here. Kind of reminds me of grade school when someone out in the school yard yells “FIGHT!”

The emerging church debate came to our quiet little cul-de-sac courtesy of this internet article to check out this post of mine from January.

I don’t know if I should say thanks for the attention.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Here’s the deal: Calvary Chapel, the movement I’m a part of and love issued a position paper about the emerging church a couple of months ago, and then I guess, more recently (although I don’t have this information first hand – I only have the accuracy of internet reporting to rely on) Pastor Chuck ordered all of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Books pulled from Calvary Chapel Book Store shelves.

So Calvary’s going in one direction and some other folks are going in another. This stuff happens.

But there are a bunch of self-proclaimed experts with domain names and server space (kind of like me I guess) that feel the need to set everybody straight. What’s with that?

Let me set you straight:

John 9:13-16
They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”
Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”
Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.

So you have Pharisees, these hyper-spiritual guys, the guys who think that they’re the only ones on the Narrow Path, they’re the ones who know who is and isn’t going to hell, saying that Jesus is not of God. He doesn’t do Sabbath correctly. In fact, this guy, Jesus, He’s NICE to people when He’s supposed to be religious like us.
Then you have a group of religious people on the other hand that say something very un-theological. Some one over there actually uses some common sense: “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?”

And there was a division among them.

I like what my friend, pastoral blogger [drop name here:] Bob Franquiz had to say:

“We need to heed Gamaliel’s advice in Acts 5:

“And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

Good thinking, man.

An addendum: Bob pointed out a great link to the best essay I've read to date.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Latest Israel Trip Photos

Communion at the Empty Tomb

Empty Tomb

Pastor Dan on the Dead Sea

Monday, July 03, 2006

Generation X Grandfather

I’m now a proud grandfather. My life is incredibly different, now. Little Ali Rae Mondok is the light of my life. I can’t believe I’m so blessed. For those of you, friends and family, that want to stay tuned in to what's up with Ali, I put up a blog for her (link).

That said, I’d like to complain a little. Please indulge me.

Jeff, a guy I work with, called me a Gen X Grandpa. He said that I was the only Generation X granddad he knows.

I think I’m the only one I know, too.

I turned forty on my last birthday. I was cool with that. I thought that maybe I’ll finally get some respect.

Some say that my fire engine red jap bike is a sure sign of a mid-life crisis. I don’t see it that way. But nothing kicks a mid-life crisis into high gear like becoming a grandparent when you think you’re so young.

Below are some pictures of guys that are right around my age. These should give my little pity party some perspective.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Pictures from Israel

I've been getting pictures all day via my cell phone from Pastor Dan in Israel.

Check them out:

South Korean street team

Bethlehem Church

Pastor Dan and Palestinian security dude.