Sunday, April 29, 2007

Quick Update

A quick update on Ali: her vital signs are normal right now, but she's being transferred to an intensive care unit for testing and observation.

Please continue to pray for Ali, my daughter, Charity, and Ali's father, Timmy. Pray that the Lord would intervene in this situation and in their lives.

Thank you for your prayers on behalf of our family.
Bryon and Susan Mondok

Prayer Request

If you're a praying person, please pray for my granddaughter, Ali Rae Mondok. My daughter, Charity, called a few minutes ago and said that Ali was in an ambulance with her father. She had stopped breathing. The paramedics got her breathing again, but her heart rate is still way high.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Character Counts

I'm bugged by the following article for two reasons: (One) Tobias' job in US government is to help the less fortunate in foreign countries in the name of the US government during a time when we're not all that popular on this planet, and (Two) if this happened when Clinton was in office, it would have been a non-event. It's just sex.

Note to politicians: if you want to do something good for our country as a political leader in this environment of dirty politics, dirty behavior ain't gonna cut it. Your dirty laundry is a bigger story than one thousand good deeds done while in office.

Washington - A top US State Department official resigned Friday following reports by broadcaster ABC that he had been a customer of an escort service, whose owner has been charged with running a prostitution ring.

Randall Tobias, a deputy secretary of state responsible for US foreign aid and international development, cited personal reasons for the resignation, department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.

ABC News had reported Thursday that Tobias had said he used the Pamela Martin and Associates escort service for massages, but not for sex.

The information came out after the woman who ran the service gave telephone numbers of clients to the media in an effort fight the prostitution charges.

The State Department did not address the connection to the escort service in its statement, but praised Tobias' work.

'As the State Department's first director of US foreign assistance, Randy helped lead one of the department's most far reaching reforms in recent memory, resulting in better matching of policy goals and delivery of international assistance,' McCormack said. 'The lives saved and made better around the globe by Randy's work at the State Department constitute a rich legacy on which he can look back with justifiable pride.

Source: State Department official resigns amid links to escort service - US

Wasted Space

No Man's Land. Wasted space.

That's the huge empty space in the middle of the king sized bed Norman and I shared last night.

We checked into the Hampton Inn next to the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica, last night and they only had one room; smoking with a one king sized bed. ONE.

I was bending over to pick up my bags to leave when Norm said, "I'm not bothered by stuff like that."

"If it doesn't bother you, it doesn't bother me," I lied. I felt the color drain from my face. Or flush over my face. Which ever one causes a cold sweat and shakes.

I'm a homo-phobe, I know.

I can go on mission trips to places that require a ride in an armored vehicle, armed guards and kevlar vests. I can eat spiders and the intestines of a goat without batting an eye. I've hiked through mine fields in the African bush. But I can't handle sleeping in a bed with another dude. How weak am I?

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Road Home

Today we're preparing to head back to San Jose. I'm here in the bungalow answering emails, packing, and updating you all back home. Norman and Barrett are out spending some one-on-one time.

One of the things we've tried to make a focus of our missions ministry at CCJ is missionary care. Missionaries are often sent to the field with little or no training or financial support. We just kind of toss them into the foreign field with a policy of "sink-or-swim." Scary. And then once the missionaries are out of sight, they're out of mind. We're trying our hardest to take a different approach. Time and care from folks back home is a huge investment in the ministry of those we send to the field. Although cash goes a long way out here, contact from home goes even further. So Norman and I have tried to go all out to maximize our time with Barrett and Amy and Maili and Makena.

Yesterday we had the chance to work together as a team while the orders "forward," "stop!" "back," "stop!" "left forward," "stop!" "get down!" "right forward!" "high five!" we're shouted at us from the guide at the stern of a raft as we plunged through rapids on the Rio Pacuare. Nothing builds a team like working hard and playing hard together while depending on each other to get to the end of the trip, team intact. On this river, not everyone makes it to the end all in one piece. But, thankfully, we did.

In June, another ministry team from our church will come to Puerto Viejo to serve and support the work Barrett and Amy Cruce are doing in this community. We'll help with construction projects at the skate park and possibly around town and hold English as a Second Language clinics at the local high school. Barrett and Amy are doing an incredible job of using all that they've been given to make disciples of Christ here on Costa Rica's east coast. They're doing an incredible job and we at CCJ want to do all we can to get in on what God is doing in and through this family.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Captain Zero Found

"Where have a seen you before," this dude well into his fifties asked me yesterday as Norman and I walked to Barrett and Amy's house.

"I've been here a couple of times," I said. "I'm a friend of Barrett."

The man introduced himself as Patrick. Norman and I spoke with him about our relationship with Barrett and Barrett's relationship with our church. And then Patrick, his eyes flashing, started to rant about the church and money and his love and respect for all religions. He spoke of Buddhism and that moved the conversation onto the topic of Vietnam. At that point, I made the attempt to establish some kind of commonality by asking when he was in Vietnam--my dad was in Vietnam, too.

"'67 through '68," was his answer.

"My dad served in the Marines in Vietnam those years," was my reply.

"I'm Captain Zero," was his answer to my reply.

"I was just getting ready to ask you that," I said.

I really was. Captain Zero is a surf cult figure. There's a book out called Looking for Captain Zero by Allan Weisbecker. Old school surfers know of the book.

Patrick lives in a tent in the woods not far from Barrett and Amy's house. He came down to Costa Rica for a three week surf expedition and never went home. He's originally from New York. He's a drop out. Not a high school drop out (as far as I know), a life drop out. He's indulged that fantasy people have to just run away and disappear. He's Barrett's neighbor. He lives in a tent in the woods. His proposal for ending the world's problems is the government nuking the world with a giant E-bomb. The "E" stands for the drug "ecstasy."

Barrett get's to share Jesus with this man and many like him that come here to drop out; disappear.

God has used Barrett's life as school to prepare him for ministry here in Costa Rica. Barrett grew up as a missionary kid. He fell in love with surfing. He became good at it. Barrett makes friends easily. He served in the Navy. He became a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. He and his family served in their home church. He became a leader in his church. He loves to surf. He loves to see people come to faith in Christ. What should he do? Is it possible to live a life where his passion to be a dad, to see people come to Christ, teaching God's principles for living, surfing, and making friends all intersect? Would God want someone to live such a life?

Absolutely. So figure out how God wants to do that with you. Then do it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Proof of Life in Puerto Viejo

This was a great day of spending time with the Cruce family. I'm amazed at how many people Barrett knows in this town. I'm not talking about aquaintances, although there are many of those. Barrett really has alot of friends here.

This family is having an incredible impact here in Costa Rica. The lives they are touching will be changed forever.

Here's a few pictures from today...

Here in Puerto Viejo

Norm and I arrived here in Puerto Viejo safe and sound. The trip between San Jose, where we landed and here is amazingly scenic. Amy and the girls welcomed us with open arms and hot bowls of a local fish stew whose name I can't pronounce but it has to do with "all the stuff you is included that you find dead on the road." But in Spanish, it sounds much more appetizing.

The city water here has been cut on and off lately due to drought. The Cruces had water all day up until the moment of our arrival. Poor Amy was left with a pile of dishes her guests dirtied and no way to wash them. Girls hate that.

The place Barrett set us to stay is a group of cabins, like bungalows. All shiny wood, ceiling fans, porch with a standard issue hammock, and mosquito netting. How tropical is that?

I was terrorized the first part of the night by a mosquito. I'm like a mosquito magnet. It was like a stealth mosquito. I couldn't hear it, but I felt every one of it's air assaults on my life. I retreated to the cover of my mosquito net. But somehow the mosquito, the sneak, was trapped in the netting with me. We were locked in a wrestling match to death. Only one of us was going to live through the night.

I let him come to me. And when he was good fat, slowed down by the weight of my blood, I struck the death-dealing blow.

I emerged from that net the victor; the sheets stained with my blood.

Since we're two hours behind our normal time zone, our bodies were letting us know that we were way past due for our coffee fix. Suffering in the mission field can be like that. We lack the normal comforts of home. Thank goodness the hotel had a batch of my beloved black brew ready in the lobby. I decided not say anything about my coffee jones to our missionary hosts.

Running water always seems to be available in tourists accommodations. It's those that actually live here, like locals and missionaries, that tend to go without. But they go without while smiling. Go figure.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Web surfing at the airport

I'm sitting here at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale waiting to get on the plane. Norm and I are both trying to get some work done here, but I'm a little distracted with some internet-time-wastification. But Norm's still really working.

Here's something you just gotta know about:
Mursi tribeswoman with AK47 and iPod

Great photo entitled "Female member of Mursi tribe in Southern Ethiopia" -- a woman with an AK47 and an iPod.


(via Digg)

Costa Rica Bound

We're catchin' a swoop down to Costa Rica today. Norman Jaeger and I leave from Ft. Lauderdale this morning and will meet Barrett Cruce, a missionary sent from our church in San Jose, Costa Rica, this afternoon. We'll drive five or six hours trip will take us through some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever experienced. We'll ride through mountains and rain forests to the Atlantic Coast and then drive south to Puerto Viejo, Barrett and Amy Cruce's new hometown.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Creation Sings

Psalm 148:3
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
Isaiah 49:13
Shout for joy, O heavens!
O earth; burst into song, O mountains!
Check out the science behind the Word of God here.
Astronomers have recorded heavenly music bellowed out by the Sun's atmosphere.

Thanks for the heads up, Bryan.


Here's a piece written by Dr. Larry Taylor that should challenge your thinking. Very appropriate thoughts on Compassion Sunday.

Worldliness is much more than avoiding smoking cigarettes or attending R-rated movies. Worldliness is consumerism. Society changed radically from the rural pre-industrial and pre-scientific era into an urban, industrialized culture in the 19th and 20th centuries. The industrialization of the occidental world in turn has led to the information age of the 21st century, which is also driven by consumerism. In both the industrial age, and in the more recent information age, the entire economy of the western world is predicated upon ever-increasing production of goods, which in turn relies on ever-increasing consumption of those goods.

Read the rest of this article at The Word in Focus: Consumerism

Saturday, April 21, 2007


This piece posted at Another Think is brilliantly written. Below I've pulled just a small quote, but it is definitely worth seven or eight minutes, if you have them, to wrap your brain around this guy's thoughts.

Evil lusts after death and delights in wickedness. It is emotionally untouched by the most sickening acts of cruelty. Evil, in the Christian view, is a way of thinking and behaving that is the antithesis of all that is good and just and pure. Evil is anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-love.

Most secular modernists are decent people. They have rejected God, but that is not to say that they don't attempt to live decent and moral lives. They walk in the garden of earthly delights and breathe deeply, enjoying the fragrance of lilies on the breeze as much as anyone. They would rather not believe in the existence of a Gardener because of all that it would mean in the nitty-gritty realities of their lives. But they nevertheless enjoy the scents of life and benefit from the unseen handiwork of God in the world.

A few, like Cho Seung-Hui, are repulsed by the fragrance of God's garden. They seal themselves inside a plastic bubble and spend their lives sucking in the stench of their own fetid breath. Instead of laughter and music, they only hear the ravings of their inner rage.

The New Testament tells of a man, or men, possessed by many demons. These men were thoroughly mad and isolated from normal society.

Read th whole article here: AnotherThink: Uncomfortable with Evil

HT: thanks, Mark Daniels, for pointing this out.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Young Muslims in Turkey Murder Three Christians | Christianity Today

I pulled this quote from the online version of Christianity Today today.

The Turkish press reported Thursday that four of the five young men arrested for the murders, all 19 to 20 years of age, admitted during initial interrogations that they were motivated by both "nationalist and religious feelings."

"We did this for our country," an identical note in the pockets of all five young men read, Channel D television station reported. "They are attacking our religion."

According to the newspaper Hurriyet, one of the suspects declared during police questioning, "We didn't do this for ourselves. We did it for our religion. May this be a lesson to the enemies of religion."

In a demonstration against the Zirve Publishing office in Malatya two years ago, local protestors had claimed its publishing and distribution activities constituted "proselytism" among Muslims and should be closed down. Turkish law, however, guarantees the right to engage in religious evangelism if it does not contain proven political motives.

The three Christians were found tied hand and foot to chairs at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the liaison office of Zirve Publishing in Malatya's Niyazi Misr-i district. Their throats had been cut and their bodies marred by multiple stab wounds.

Read the rest of the article here at the source: Young Muslims in Turkey Murder Three Christians

420: the New Pagan Holiday

Most, if not all, holidays we celebrate have pagan roots. Easter and Christmas, both, were around before Christianity and were celebrated as pagan worship festivals. But with the spread of Christianity in the early centuries of the Church together with Christianity becoming (sort of) the official religion of Rome under Constantine's rule, many pagan holidays were Christianized. Thought and strategy went into re-working these holidays for the sake of spreading the Gospel.

Everyone knows that Halloween is a pagan holiday. That's no surprise. The Catholic Church did it's best to re-work it by calling it "All-Saints Day," but in the end, it's a holiday that celebrates dead people rather than somehow promoting the story of God's Plan of Redemption.

Some Christians take their kids and hide in the back room with the house lights doused so trick-or-treaters will think no one's home. The thinking there is that we should give no glory to the devil on his greatest day of the year. But I think hiding in a dark room is right where the devil wants Christ's followers to be.

Some churches throw a big party to give members' kids an alternative as well as provide a safe place to bring little pagan kids to hear the gospel. That's cool.

I like to stay home and ham it up on Halloween. It's the one chance a year I get to meet all my neighbors. The holiday delivers them right to my doorstep. I don't even have to leave the house. I fill their bags with candy and compliment their little demonic costumes with the hope that I'll have a rapport with them in my neighborhood the other 364 days of the year (365 on leap years).

Another modern pagan holiday is the Super Bowl. That's right, sports fans, the Super Bowl is a "Holy" day in America. Don't deny it. Those football stars are to us what gladiators were to the Romans. In our community, churches are using the occasion to promote caring for the less fotunate by throwing Super Bowl parties and raising cash for the soup kitchens and places that feed the homeless. It's called the "Souper Bowl of Caring." It's a great way to redeem and retrain the way we look at holidays that focus on materialism and commercialism and exploit consumerism.

So what about the pagan holiday being planned for and celebrated today, April 20 (4/20), by American Collegiate, Hip-Hop, and Bong-Hit Culture? It's celebrated as a day of binge-partying that will be fun for most, and disastorous for a few. Some freaks will celebrate Hitler's 118 birthday today. Today will also be remembered as the day that the Columbine shooting spree was brought to us by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in 1999. What a week to be thinking about that.

So how do we redeem this pagan holiday and help people to think about preaching the gospel to the poor? Any ideas?

Here's one: this Sunday is Compassion Sunday. What if everyone celebrated this holiday of decadence by picking up a Compassion packet and helping to support a kid in a third world country. I'm shooting from the hip here, but that sounds like a good idea to me. If Compassion picked the Sunday closest to 4/20 on purpose, that's brilliant. If not, they should claim it and capitalize on it.

Let's help 'em.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech by Dr. Larry Taylor

The following post is cut and pasted to my blog in it's entirety from Dr. Larry Taylor's blog. Dr. Taylor is a man with incredible biblical insight, godly wisdom, and ministerial experience. Take the time to read his thoughts. You'll sound alot smarter afterward.

Obviously, what’s on all our hearts and minds are the mass killings at Virginia Tech on Monday. What can be said? My heart breaks for the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and loved ones of those who perished. I know how they feel. Elliott would have turned 36 on Sunday, April 22, but took his own life just before he turned 15. All of their deaths were senseless and altogether tragic, but some touched me personally.

Harry Smith interviewed a surviving VT senior named Garrett Evans who is alive because three classmates barred the door so the shooter could not reenter the room. Obviously a Christian, Garrett said from his hospital bed that healing starts with forgiveness and he has forgiven the killer. His only regret was not having known Cho Seung Hui previously so that he could have reached out to him.

Austin Cloyd, a 19-year-old freshman whose dad is on the faculty of VT, is the niece of a pastor who sells hard to find theology books to people like me. She and her family are devout Christians.

Kevin Granata was an engineering professor and one of the foremost researchers in neurological control, doing research with the potential to help those with spinal chord injuries.

20-year-old Lauren McCain listed Jesus Christ as the love of her life on her MySpace.

And of course, I’m deeply touched by 76-year-old holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu who held back the gunman so students could escape.

Contrary to most, I also feel sorry for Cho Seung Hui, who was so obviously psychotic, and even sorrier for his parents whose lives are ruined now that Fox News has publicized where they live and what business they own. Can you imagine having a child who did such a thing?

This tragedy also reminded me that double those numbers of people die in violent murders in Boston every year, and the same can be said for all major US cities. That’s not to minimize the horror at VT, but to increase our awareness of the violent society in which we live.

I’m sitting here writing to you wearing my thrift-store “Jesus was homeless” shirt printed by The Simple Way Christian community – a group of devout believers seeking to live as radical followers of Jesus among the poorest of the poor in an essentially abandoned neighborhood in Philadelphia. If you haven’t yet, please read Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution, which is the story of The Simple Way thus far. It is changing my life.

I’ve had a deeply seated social conscious since coming of age in Baltimore in the times of the civil rights movement, the Viet Nam War, King’s assassination, and subsequent riots. A socially aware teacher in high school got us involved tutoring inner city kids and volunteering to help families in the projects. Now, that social conscious is being stirred up and I long to live life differently – to be more communal, more in touch with the poor, more socially active in the causes that promote justice and peace, in short, to be more like Jesus and live differently, radically differently, from the world.

In his book, Shane Claiborne relates that most people can tell you something about what Christians believe, but nothing about how we live because we live like everyone else. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to find my vocation for this season of my life and live it to the fullest.

C. S. Lewis spent all of the income he made from the publication of his popular Christian books on the care of widows, and had several move in with him so he could personally care for their needs.

Henri Nouwen left a prestigious professorship at Harvard to move to Canada and live in a home for severely damaged adults who needed full time care.

I read of a convicted child molester whose name and address were publicized, ostracized by the community, being invited into a Christian couple’s home for dinner where they treated him like a human being, befriended him, and eventually wound up with a weekly Bible study mostly attended by adjudicated child abusers.

I have a friend whose granddaughter has a form of autism, who, in spite of her inability to connect socially has been accepted at Berea College in Kentucky, which has a particular Christian self-understanding that makes it stand apart from most other schools that call themselves “Christian.” Berea College’s founder argued that the Christian gospel could be described best by the phrase “impartial love” that welcomed students and staff from “every clime and every nation” to study and to work together. The College was founded prior to the Civil War in the 1850s as an abolitionist college that welcomed black and white men and women students in a day when such equality was not supported in most Christian communities. Berea College is rooted in a Christian spirituality that is egalitarian, socially provocative, and focused on serving poor and struggling students. They have dormitories that are economically friendly and use renewable resources, and own businesses in town where students (most of whom are quite poor) work, earn their way, and learn job skills.

I want to live like Mother Theresa, Shane Claiborne, Henri Nouwen, or C. S. Lewis and be a part of a community as they are/were. As believers, we belong to another Kingdom and our allegiance is to another King. I don’t know that the sociological solutions are to violence in our culture – less graphic violence in video games and movies and TV shows, gun control legislation to prevent guns from getting into the hands of psychotic people, safer campuses with less openness – all the suggestions have some merit; but for us as believers, the solution is to live like we belong to Christ, to follow the Sermon on the Mount, to be peacemakers, forgivers, those who turn the other cheek, go the second mile, respond to evil with love, and if necessary, sacrifice our lives rather than sink to the violent level of those around us. When we were hippies, we put flowers into the muzzles of National Guardsmen’s rifles. It’s time for some more flowers.

HT: Larry Taylor

For more on this topic, read the posts from two of my fave bloggers, Carlos Whittaker and Anne Jackson.

I can think of one guy that's glad to have his name out of the news...

Relevant Irreverance

This bit of irreverent comedy comes to us from Ricky Gervais, the creator of the TV show The Office.

Watch for the stars to make appearances.

HT: Geppapa

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Relevant Transparency

I was disappointed to learn that Westside Family Church removed the video of this past weekend's services. Pastor Dan Southerland filled the pulpit and did an amazing job of bringing news to the congregation about the affair the church's senior pastor was having with one of the administrators. He handled a fragile situation with tact, grace, finesse, and deep pastoral love. When I grow up, I want to be Southerland.

I forget the pastor's name. It doesn't matter. If you want to know, Google it yourself. I don't know the details. I only know the end result and it rattles me. Every single time I hear the story of a church leader falling, I'm shaken and stirred. Shaken because I know me and I know I'm so very capable of doing the same thing. I have an incredibly guilty conscience. My mid-life adolescent ego loves attention and affirmation. This stirs me to examine my life (not a pretty picture), learn (from another man's mistakes), and pray (that someone won't be learning from my own similar mistakes). And my heart hurts. This makes me pray for people besides me; like those directly touched by the fallen leader.

I love to study King David's life. You all know his story. He's a man that loves God, he's a revolutionary author and song-writer, a war hero, nation-founder, trainer of strong, fearless men, and godly political figurehead. He's and adulterer and a murderer. He's remembered as a repentant and humble man. He was around forty years old when he found himself complacent and of some new frontier to conquer. He set his sights on bathing in the buff Bathseba.

It's weird how it's always guys in their forties that find themselves in this kind of trouble. I came to realize this in my late thirties when that fortieth birthday came rolling down my alley like a bowling ball. I'm very familiar with my own lust, my fragile ego, and the magnetic appeal of pornography. And then I think of my wife, my daughter, my son, and tremble.

I don't know about you, but I am not strong enough to stand against temptation by myself and care for my family. I need help. I gotta get some other guys in on keeping me strong. Just like in the weight room, I need a spotter to help me because this is too much to bench press by myself. I need the Lord's help.

The Apostle Paul was transparent. Men that have mentored me like Pastor Bob Coy and Pastor Dan Plourde are transparent even in front of their congregations. And I need at least one, maybe two brothers in my life that will allow--no, demand--that I be transparent with them. And then--challenge of all challenges--I've become, over the course of my twenty-one year marriage to the charming and beautiful Susan--totally transparent with her about the kind of man I am.

We've found it necessary for a list of every site I visit on the Internet to be emailed both to a buddy and to the charming and beautiful Susan. She knows my schedule; who I meet with and how I spend my day at the office. When I go out of town, someone goes with me and if that's not possible, we have conversations--serious, in-depth, before, during, after conversations--about the details of my alone time while traveling. These days, it's almost not to have a way to check in often while on the road--even if my travel takes me to another country.

Hey, don't think for a second that this makes life any easier or temptation more bearable. It makes life a little harder and my wife and I are constantly faced with what a pig I really am. But I can't lose this woman. I can't imagine telling my son that I failed my wife. As I write this, the thought terrifies me. I'd rather inject little shards of glass into my veins than live the rest of my life with the consequences of a couple of exhilarating romps in the sack.

Long post, I know. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pastors: You need to watch this...

Dan Southerland delivered the news to a Kansas congregation about the fall of their pastor. Southerland handled this with incredible finesse and wisdom.
Picture 1-43

Click here to go to the video.

HT: Los

what if

I don't remember where I got this. If you wrote it, good job.
What if Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion but a spiritual revolution?

What if the revolution is now, and we understood the kingdom is at hand?

What if the manifesto of that kingdom were the Beatitudes?

What if when Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, and the peacemakers ...he really meant that?

What if we took literally His kingdom is not of this world or it's system?

What if every one of our political views were challenged by this carpenter?

What if the real enemy isn’t Rome, the Democrats, or Iran but evil?

What if instead of focusing on political parties we prayed "thy Kingdom come"?

What if we refrained from political rhetoric long enough to pray "deliver us from evil"?

What if the mission of the Church was primarily to declare "Jesus is Lord"?

What if then we weren’t focused on evacuating the world but inundating the world with the Gospel?

What if we understood the Gospel means the Kingdom of God is available to all? ...Beginning with the least?

What if the Gospel meant more than staying out of hell?

What if the Gospel means we are to love our enemies, deny ourselves, and give to the poor?

What if our mission is to be the friend of sinners even while walking in holiness?

What if there was less focus on converting and more on conversing?

What if we opened up the borders of the Kingdom by doing this?

What if Jesus’ parables, which always includes hiddenness and surprises, were told to make a specific point?

And what if that point was if you thought you had it all figured out... think again?

What if parable of the prodigal was to tell us "there is a party going on with all the wrong people attending it, and this is what you look like if your refusing to join in. God’s kingdom is happening right under your noses and you can’t see it. What’s more, if you don’t watch out you will find yourself outside the that door, missing the party"

What if too many of today’s religious leaders are among the last to get the message of Jesus and the first to reduce, distort, and oppress it as they did in Jesus' day?

What if Jesus' message was just as much part of His mission as death, burial, and resurrection?

What if His message had practical implications for such issues as how you live your daily life, how you earn and spend money, how you treat people?

What if Jesus' miracles weren't in themselves the point but signs that this was an invasion of a different kind of kingdom?

What if the invasion is one of kindness and compassion rather then force and aggression?

What if the outcasts, the sick, and those that can't see clearly are the point of the Kingdom?

What if the message of Jesus was good news, not just for Christians but also for Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, New Agers, agnostics, and atheists?

What if the message of Jesus also contained warnings, for Jews Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, and Christians too?

What if the Bible is not a book that is primarily how to get to the right destination after this life?

What if the purpose of the Bible is to equip God's people to work in God's world?

What if the primary evidence of God's Spirit in our lives was love?

What if we really believed that law if fulfilled in love, love is the greatest?

update... thanks Mike Macon for pointing out where I got this. HT: Peter-John Courson

Monday, April 16, 2007


stop. think. pray.

Pyromaniacs: All that is in the world...

Phil Johnson posted a great article about supposed "Satanic " attack... Check it out.

...I asked about the nature of the attack he was under. He said he was finding it impossible to get along with his mother. He said the two of them hardly ever spoke a civil word to one another, and it was destroying the peace of their household. He said he found it hard to study the Bible or grow spiritually as long as evil tension ruled the home environment. He was hoping I would tell him how he could get Satan out of his household.

I first asked him what made him think this problem was uniquely Satanic. As he described it to me, it sounded much more like raw carnal pride on both his part and his mother's. They were constantly saying unkind and unloving things to one another. He admitted that he purposely did things he knew would annoy her. He spoke disrespectfully to her. He stated quite clearly that he couldn't stand her and didn't like being around her. It sounded like an unbridled case of youthful rebellion on his part, rather than a satanic attack.

So I told him that. I said, "It sounds to me like you're just behaving in a fleshly way. I think you need to look into your own heart for the culprit, rather than blaming the devil and outside influences."

Read the whole article here: Pyromaniacs: All that is in the world... I found it very practical. > Is Imus Really All That Unique?

I found this in my "inbox" this morning. Chew on that.

Here is the unsettling question that begs to be asked, "What about the massive racial inequity problems that lie unchallenged in the Evangelical world?"

Anyone who is unaware of the racial inequality issue is either:
1. Not paying attention to what is happening right under their noses;
2. Has no racial inequity problem because everyone is the same race in their church or sadly, the most likely situation;
3. The attitude exists, "Racial problem... here? We have that one licked bro! Ask anyone here..."

"Dissing" (showing disrespect - looking down upon someone in disapproval) can be done in many subtle ways so that we may not even notice we are doing it. It is like playing poker. It is impossible for some people to hide a good versus bad hand to those around them. No matter how hard they try, their heart's true response comes out spontaneously.

Source: > Is Imus Really All That Unique?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dave Barry: On Leadership

When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command.

Very often, that individual is crazy.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Relevant Politicians

So who is this? Do you think she inhaled?

Did your mom ever make you were pants like these in the second grade that your grandma made? That'll make you wanna inhale something...

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Media and Bart Simpson

Bart Simpson, that loveable animated imp, has a character flaw, one of many, that he loves to indulge: cussing. He loves it when he feels like he's getting away with cussing in front of grown-ups.
"Hell, hell, hell!"
"Damn, damn, damn!"
"Crap, crap, crap!"
Bart often yells from the backseat of the car. His mom is usually in the frame looking over her shoulder from the front seat with a dis-approving frown drawn on her face.

The media, as it keeps shock-jock Don Imus' recent stupid and explosive comments on every cable news headline ticker in the known universe, act out Bart's bad behavior.
"Nappy-headed hos, nappy headed hos, nappy headed hos!"
Everytime I walk by a tv, radio, or log onto the internet, I see or hear this phrase. I never heard Imus say it, but these words are indelibly seared into my psyche thanks to journalists that can find nothing else newsworthy.

The sponsors and media outlets that dumped Imus for his bad behavior sure are lovin' the rating re-telling and re-hashing this non-news event is getting them.
"Hypocrites. Brood of vipers."
I don't know who's causing more trouble, Imus or the media that gave him a platform for so many years.

Speaking of "Relevant" Ideas...


Is this a good practice or a bad practice? The California church featured in this video raffled off a car to attract potential church members:

The pastor says this is an extravagant expression that represents an extravagant God. So why didn't they give away a Rolls-Royce?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Relevant Ideas

What we think is old and out-dated today, was someone's great idea at one time. Someone was in a church staff meeting one day and said, "I have a great idea, the pastor should wear a big shiny robe while he's up there giving the sermon." And then everyone else at the meeting started giving their opinions:

"I don't know, I've never seen that done before."

"That's a dumb idea."

"I don't see pastors wearing robes in the Bible."

"Just because it's not in the Bible doesn't mean God's against it."

"I think we'll really be able to reach this community if Pastor wears a robe. The Bible is all about the church reaching the world."

"How much is this robe going to cost?"

"Is the pastor supposed to wear anything under the robe?"

Someone at that meeting gave an impassioned speech about pastors wearing robes and after some persistence and a few really heated discussions, he finally got his way. And then the church, for some a reason that could only be attributed to the pastor becoming a relevant guy in the community, you know, "real," started to grow. Then explode. And everyone wanted to know his secret. He was invited to speak at all the conferences.

He shocked the conference attenders when he took the platform wearing his robe. The crowd began to murmur.

"What is he wearing?"

"Sell out."

"He's compromising with the world."

"I wonder if my board would get me one of those."

"Is he wearing clothes under that robe?"

He talked about meeting people where they are. He talked about the status quo and if we don't change our thinking, we'll lose this generation to the liberals. This generation isn't interested in traditional church. "At our church, young people are coming out in droves. If I need to wear a robe to reach this generation, then I'm wearing a robe. If wearing a robe means keeping even one soul out of hell, I'll wear the robe! I'd even wear a... a... a pointy hat!"

"Hey... a pointy hat... I wonder if my board will let me wear a pointy hat."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Michelle Malkin: Imus vs. the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks Chart

If you're dialed in to all of the Don Imus flap, click through the link below and deal with Malkin's take on this. 

Link to Michelle Malkin: Imus vs. the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks Chart
(language warning)

Thanks, Chris, for sharing.

HT: Life and Times

NPR : The Elements of E-mail Style

I don't know if I'm going to get to this book or not, but I think it will be both good and useful. Maybe one of you guys could read it and tell me what you think.

Why do we send so many electronic messages that we never should have written? Why do things spin out of control so quickly? Why don't people remember that email leaves an indelible electronic record? Why do we forget to compose our messages carefully so that people will know what we want without having to guess? We wrote this book to figure out why email has such a tendency to go awry–and to learn for ourselves how to email not just adequately but also well. Our Holy Grail: email that is so effective that it cuts down on email.

We don't hate email; we love it. We recognize that email has changed our lives in countless good ways. We just want to do it better. In fact, we think it's kind of remarkable that people manage on email as well as they do. After all, the odds are against us.

Link to NPR : The Elements of E-mail Style

Emerging Church Conversation

There's a great discussion taking place in blogland between Dan Kimball and Phil Johnson about the Emerging Church.

To be fair, I've not read every one of the books that have come out written by those labeled emerging/emergent church leaders, but the ones I have, I've enjoyed, appreciated, and thought long and hard about.

Dan Kimball had this to say on his blog:
One of my favorite passages Acts 17:11 where the Berean's were seen as noble, because they didn't just blindly accept teaching, they discussed and checked out to see what was true or not to the best of their ability. So God honors that we discuss and debate things and check out things and I hope we aren't afraid to explore or re-explore doctrine as we grow and develop as followers of Jesus, our whole lives.
That post was in response to Phil Johnson who had this to say about Kimball:
Frankly, the message that comes across in that chapter is that he really doesn't want to be bothered with doctrine. Like a lot of postmodern church members, he doesn't seem to have the stomach for propositional theology. I have a hard time interpreting what he says in any other sense.
I appreciate the humility of Johnson's clarification in a more recent post.

I pulled only a couple of quotes I've found intesting, but they are really a poor representation of the discussion. Follow the links, provided above and read the blog-versation for yourself and see what you think.

Thanks, Brian, for pointing this out.

HT: Phoenix Preacher

Which one's the REAL family man?

Dan Phillips pointed out this interesting piece of trivia on his blog.

Why is it that all the Dem candidates are still married to their first spouse, while among the current crop of leading GOP contenders, the only guy with just one wife is the Mormon?

(link to source)

HT: Dan Phillips

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Heartbeats from the 'Hood

Check out Urban Youth Impact's blog.

Urban Youth Impact is an organization with the West Palm Beach inner city as it's mission field. This organization is making an incredible impact in one of America's most dangerous inner-city neighborhoods.

Link to Heartbeats from the 'Hood

HT: One World Mission Blog

Dr. Gary R. Habermas - Online Resource for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Here's a great post-Easter resource pointed out by a friend of mine. 

Link to Dr. Gary R. Habermas - Online Resource for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Drunken Nights and Easter Morning

This is a pretty good article written by Jack Arnold. It makes you think about the one's were trying to reach and just what Easter is all about.
Let me let you in a little secret: that's exactly what God's whole deal is about. Whatever Easter is besides a clever marketing ploy for chocolate companies and basket weavers, it's not all clean and pretty and neat. It's really about drunks and liars and thieves and all of us in the same house, looking out the windows into oblivion, and the only hope we've got in the world is Jesus Christ. It's about how we've gotten used to lying like red-faced politicians, trying to plead our case to everyone around us--trying to cover up our tracks, and now we got to get it all out in the open so it's got no hold on us anymore.

Read the whole article here>>> Source: RELEVANT MAGAZINE

CCJ Worship Project

Calvary Chapel Jupiter worship wonder boy, Jeff Thompson is in the studio laying down the sounds for CD he's producing. Check out his in-studio journaling on this blog: Link to CCJ Worship Project.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Über Christ Follower Bob Franquiz

Bob Franquiz is my blog-spiration. He ALWAYS thinks outside the box whether he's writing, blogging, doing music, preaching, you name it--he's original. He takes heat from nit-pickers for this from inside our own Calvary Chapel movement because he doesn't do church the way they did in the sixties and seventies (I guess with lava lamps, black light, and orange shag carpet) and he doesn't cave in to church politics and peer pressure.

Many pastors teach the Bible as if it's other Bible teachers they're trying to reach. Not so with Bob. He teaches with regular people in mind. Miami people. Distracted, tech-connected, tuned into new media Miami. Bob reaches them with theologically sound Bible teaching that makes sense and applies to life in the fast lane--or HOV lane.

Check out recent write up in the Miami Herald about Bob's church here.

Check out his book here.

Churches reinvent tradition to attract a new generation - 04/08/2007 -

This is a great write-up about Bob Franquiz' church.

Five years ago, Franquiz began to rent space at Cobb Theatres on Sunday mornings because the church, which had begun as an informal gathering in the pastor's living room, couldn't afford a building. Now, the setting has become part of the church's persona.

The multiplex's halls are lined with "Now Playing" posters that promote the church's sermon series. Franquiz punctuates his talks with brief TV and movie clips, including scenes from the TV show The Office and snippets of the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Services kick off with a trailer promoting a spiritual message and end with a teaser for next week's services.

"A movie theater is neutral ground," Franquiz said. "Some people are put off by a church building."

I know that dude.

Link to Churches reinvent tradition to attract a new generation - 04/08/2007 -

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Braggin' on Ten Pounds Ago

Mail person brought me this today:

click image for a better view... if you care

Friday, April 06, 2007

Signs and no-Wonders

...what do you see when your life goes by?

Song is by The Ambassador, video footage from "The Passion of the Christ".

HT: Chris Goeppner. Thanks for posting this.

The other day I posted ten cool cell phone tricks. The most useful one for me by far has been It is unbeleivably easy and useful. You go to the website. Sign-up. And then call messages in to yourself. So if you're driving or you meet someone on the street and you need to make a note to yourself but have no paper or you haven't made the switch to a PDA, don't. Call Jott and leave yourself a message. You will be emailed both an audio and text reminder. It's beautiful and it's free.

Pop Quiz

Why do we Christians tolerate the Easter Bunny but not the Playboy Bunny? Aren't they both about sex and fertility?

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Scary Hillary

Meet your next president.
This picture has been bouncing around the internet for the past couple of days.

It looks like Hillary was seen visiting with Chris and Pete down at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale.

Transition Pete in Fla...

Pete Kim of the Transition Pete blog and regular contributor to SpitBox is down Florida way on vacation. Fellow Florida blogger Chris and I met up with Pete at the Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale's Daily Grill to discuss the state of the universe over gourmet pizzas and endless Arnold Palmers.

How Long Is Relevant Relevant?

Carlos Whittaker posted this day before yesterday: Link to How Relevant is Relevant? at Ragamuffin Soul. It was an interesting read followed by an even more interesting comment thread. These two dudes (dude 1) (dude 2) had some comments that both made me think and made me chuckle.

I'm of the opinion that my efforts to be relevant today will be laughed at tomorrow. I've posted a few case in point photos.

Me with a mustache and my bride to be with a mullet. We had no idea that dudes would start shaving off their 'staches. And that the mullet would be called a mullet. The first time I heard "mullet" I was like, "how does that hair-do look like a fish?"

Stryper. These guys were hot when I first got saved but everybody thought they were "of the devil."

Resurrection Band. They actually have some really cool music.

David Meece.

Russ Taff. I actually saw this guy on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (speaking of relevant) before I became a Christain whereing that day-glo blue suit with those medals pinned on his chest and was like, "what the..."

Amy Grant. I still like her music...

Mylon LeFevre. Jimmy Swaggart had in bad for this guy. Maybe it was because Mylon looks like Paul Stanley of Kiss sans make up. Then Swag crashed and burned.

Michael W. Smith. Perpetually pretty Michael W. Smith stays pretty relevant, I think. I definitely think more so now, then in the past. I always thought of him as the yin to George Michael's yang.

DCTalk. I'v never been a fan of rap. Sorry. Relevance has never been my claim to fame (see above photo). I didn't start liking these guys until they released Jesus Freak.

One Bad Pig. You ever here of these guys? Before there was MxPx, there was One Bad Pig. But I did dig their sound. They even did a tune with Johnny Cash (Man in Black).

Newsboys. I don't think these guys always looked relevant, but they always sound relevant. One of my wife's favorites (see girl above with mullet).

Johnny Cash. Whether reverent or irreverent, Cash is always relevant.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's new with CalvaryWord Podcast?

The CalvaryWord Podcast, is the online teaching ministry of my pastor, Pastor Dan Plourde of Calvary Chapel Jupiter. Pastor Dan is one of the best, but least known teachers in the Calvary Chapel Movement.

Recently, we've made some changes to the podcast that I'm pretty excited about. A small technical tweak, really, that has made all the difference in the world to the sound quality of the podcast. We added a microphone that points out into the audience. I know, not a huge, news-worthy change. But the difference it's made to the quality of the recorded audio is like night and day.

Dan's an incredibly interactive teacher. But that quality was lost in the recording. Now, you can tell he's speaking to a room full of engaged people. It makes listening to the podcast even more engaging to the online or commuting listener. Check it out here. If you don't have iTunes, download it here. Or go to the church website and listen here.

Kudos to Jeff, Dorinda, and Chip and crew. They make this thing happen every week.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Suggested Reading from Jeff Jackson

Jeff Jackson, missions guru of Shepherd's Staff Missions Facilitators, compiled this great reading list as a resource in the missions training manual he wrote.

On Being a Missionary by Thomas Hale

People Raising: A Practical Guide to Support Raising by William P. Dillon

Getting Sent: A Relational Approach to Support Raising by Pete Sommer

Friend Raising by Betty Barnett

Serving as Senders by Neal Pirolo

Operation World by Patrick Johnstone

Anthropological Insights for Missionaries by Paul G. Hiebert

Principles of War by Jim Wilson

Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper

Eternity in Their Hearts by Don Richardson

Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? by Roland Allen

Concise History of Christian Mission by J. Herbert Kane

Ministering Cross Culturally by Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin Mayers

HT: One World Mission Blog

Looking for Problems

I have one of those free site meters on this blog which is kind of cool because you can see what cities people are in when they log onto your blog, how long they stay, how many posts they check out, and how they were referred to you blog. What I mean by "how they were referred" is how they found me. If someone types words in a search engine and there are matching words on my blog, my blog will come up in their search and that is tracked by the site meter. It's probably a great marketing tool somehow, but for me, it's just interesting.

This morning I was checking stats and I noticed that someone from the town I live in, Stuart, FL, logged on through a search. But when I saw what they searched, I was a little perturbed. Check it out:

Did you see that? ..."problems with calvary chapel jupiter"... Why would someone search that? Are they looking for dirt? Are they innocently shopping churches? Do they want to defend us? Is someone just curious? I don't get it. Is there a good reason to make that search.

I looked at the actual google search and found followed a couple of the links. I'm amazed at how disgruntled people can get with a church movement and still stay in fellowship with believers. And a wierd attitude goes along with it. It's like, "I was part of Calvary Chapel for awhile, but I get it and they don't. Now I'm doing this and they're doing the same old thing that worked for me for a while, but now I've grown beyond them. Now I'm really doing things right."

Can someone tell me how that works?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

your fortune

Don't like the fortune you got last week when you ate Chinese? Click here and get a new one.

See. I'm here for you.