Saturday, January 29, 2011

While waiting for some eggs…

If your searched the phrase “it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here…” you’d probably get back a thousand pages of family type blogs like this one.

My mom and Nancy are the main ones that threaten me with bodily harm when I don’t post something about Allie for awhile. My mother-in-law has given up on the threats and various other promises of pain and torture when I get blog-lazy. So things just kind of show up when they show up. Sorry.

Mystery solved

In case you’re wondering about the previous article about that piano in Biscayne Bay, here’s that latest.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Polluting with Style

Here in South Florida, we are next level polluters. I don't know how you all litter where ever you are, but we dump our trash with style. What you all pay big money for we down here in SoFla dump like yesterday's newspaper. Take, for example, this grand piano someone dumped in Biscayne Bay. It's going no where soon according to the Miami Herald, it isn't going anywhere soon.

"We are not responsible for removing such items,'' said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Even a car can become a habitat for wildlife. Unless the item becomes a navigational hazard, the Coast Guard would not get involved.''

Read more

LOVEBAGS story | beginning

I was doing a little research for an article on LoveBags and thought I'd share this with you. It made my hair (the little I have) stand up.


Over the years I've been down to South Beach a few times to check it out. I've always felt awkwardly out of place amid the perfectly tanned, toned and wealthy who frequent the high-end club and bar scene. However, the summer of '06 I began to go down there regularly with some friends – three, sometimes four nights a week. Our intent, however, wasn't to visit bars, clubs or restaurants.

Before we would go down, a group of us would make 200-plus peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (cookie and water included). Let's just say... I got pretty awesome at making sandwiches. We would meet up with some other people and proceed to bring dinner, PB & J style, to our many homeless friends who would hang at the beach along Ocean Drive.

Anyone who's been to South Beach knows that Ocean Drive is the hottest place to be, lined with it's high-end clubs, bars and restaurants. The beautiful people hang out there and meet other beautiful people and are, well, beautiful together. What most people didn't know is that across the street, less than 40 yards away, were hundreds of men, women and occasionally children who called the beach their home at night. It was on that side that I found beauty.

The homeless gladly welcomed us and became our friends. We knew some of their names, and they all knew ours. Some of them were crazy, some mean, most of them kind and all just wanting to be loved and listened to, reminded that they still had value and dignity. Sometimes we would tell them about Jesus, sometimes not; sometimes we would just listen, or leave a sandwich next to a sleeping body. We became known as the "Angels of the Night" and the "Peanut Butter Bandits."

It was over that period of six months on South Beach that my skewed perceptions of the homeless were changed. I began to really love them (You know it's love when you're tromping across the beach at 2 in the morning). There is one night that I distinctly remember. The cool breeze carried the louder than usual sounds and taunting smells of the weekend our way. I was standing under a palm tree and had just set a PB & J next to a sleeping man. His skin was stretched across his fragile body, emphasizing his sunburned cheekbones and sunken eyes; had it not been for his snoring, I would have been convinced that he was dead. With a heavy sigh I looked across the street and my heart broke. Not for the man next to me, but for the ones across the street.

They had no idea what they were missing.

In their search for meaning and pleasure they were looking in the wrong place – or rather, on the wrong side of the street. As I fed, loved and listened to these people, I experienced the kind of pleasure that I think those across the street were looking for. The ones we fed were poor, dirty, smelly, often drunk, mostly lonely... and all of them made in the image of God. And I began to see that image more clearly. I began to see Jesus more clearly. I felt so privileged to be on the other side of South Beach*.

There was one man in particular who God really used to inspire me to help launch what is now happening in Ft. Lauderdale. His name is Phil. When we met him he was holding a sign on the corner of a busy intersection in Miami Lakes. Over the next 6 months, our little group - of mostly poor college-age students - did everything we could to get him off the street; we pooled our money, bought him meals, let him sleep in our cars, paid for him to get his drivers license and countless other things. To be honest, it was sort of an experiment; could God really get a crack-addict off the street and transform his life? …And could he use a bunch of young, hopeful dreamers to do it?

Phil is now a strong believer, faithfully attends a church in Miami and has a wonderful ministry to the homeless out of his own home.

Walking through that transformation process with him did more in my heart than I realized; I saw for the first time that homeless people are just that: people. And that God can redeem their lives. For real.

I left that community and joined one in Ft. Lauderdale, but that experience was etched into my heart. I began to write about it and shared with some friends what I had seen in Miami. I was absolutely convinced that we could see the same thing happen in Ft. Lauderdale and absolutely convicted that we needed to make it happen. So, on January 1st, 2007 five of us made way too many PB & J's and began to hit the streets in Ft. Lauderdale.

I wasn't sure that everyone was as convinced as I that this would really work, so I asked one of my good friends, Bob, to come down to Miami one night and meet Phil. As he sat in a Starbucks and listened to his story over some lattes and an oatmeal-raisin cookie, his heart was as stirred as mine. Phil came up and shared his story with a few of our other friends... and they too were catching onto the vision.

At the time, I always carried bags of food (what we now refer to as "love bags") for the homeless in my car. We had proof that this whole redemption thing worked, a heart to help and a tangible thing that we could give to the homeless. So we dropped the PB & J's and launched love bags. And we discovered that we weren't the only ones with this heart –  there were many, many others.

The rest is history that is currently in the making.

*My little disclaimer…  I don't look down on people who go down to South Beach to party. I just think that the party is on the other side of Ocean Drive. But I do not in any way judge or think less of them.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 2011 Good News Articles

Here are a couple of more articles I wrote published in the Good News of South Florida.

Interview with Dr. John Sowers of The Mentoring Project

By BryonMondok

Dr. John Sowers is the president of The Mentoring Project which was founded by New York Times best selling author Donald Miller. Sowers mission at The Mentoring Project is to rewrite the stories of fatherless young men. The Mentoring Project received the faith-based Partner of the Year Award in 2010 from Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the oldest… Full Story

Fatherless Generation; Redeeming the Story

By BryonMondok

My family is under attack. So is yours. It’s a concentrated spiritual effort designed to undermine our civilization’s reliance, dependence, and turning to God. That’s the conclusion you come to when you read Fatherless Generation, by Dr. John Sowers. “No longer do we have to travel abroad to make… Full Story

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm Reading a Book

You know I read a lot. Julian Smith is someone that feels my pain...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: Crazy Love

Author: Francis Chancrazy love
Colorado Springs, David C. Cook Publishing, 2008
Number of pages: 186

"Am I showing God the kind of crazy love that I ought to be showing him?" asks Pastor and New York Time best selling author, Francis Chan. "...God has become so familiar to us that He becomes common." He wrote Crazy Love to give some perspective to a church whose members are in the comfortable habit of avoiding the things that make God mad.

An online video accompanies each chapter of Crazy Love. In each video, Chan gives a brief talk expanding on the concepts in the book. It's a nice personal touch that challenges a reader to take steps to put the ideas presented in the book into action rather than passively processing and adding to our culture's over-abundance of information about God.

The first chapter of the book is called "Stop Praying." Chan sets a sober tone as he writes, "The wise man comes to God without saying a word and stands in awe of Him." And then Chan wisely and eloquently describes to the reader how awesome God is.

In following chapters, Chan describes how fleeting and insignificant one human's life on earth is. "On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves... we forget that our life truly is a vapor," he writes. He contrasts our earthly dads with our Heavenly Father, and in one chapter, Chan painfully profiles the lukewarm believer. He pulls no punches. It is impossible for an honest reader to come through unscathed.

Chan strategically knows the reader is raw and in a mode of self-examination when he informs him that most of us offer God our leftovers rather than our best. In chapter six, quoting John Piper, Chan asks this question: "If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?" The real question the author is asking is do you love Jesus or are you only motivated to be good so you can live in His heaven?

"When we work for Christ out of obligation, it feels like work," writes Chan. "But when we truly love Christ, our work is a manifestation of that love, and it feels like love." Chan conveys contagious passion as he writes about the topic of the Love of God. He challenges readers to respond to God with the love and adoration He deserves. "Right now a hundred million angels are praising God's name; He certainly doesn't need to beg or plead with us. We should be the ones begging to worship in His presence," he says.

Chan boldly calls on the church in America to leave the safe middle ground and to passionately give ourselves over to the God who loves us so much. “God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

After you read this book you will want to keep a few copies on hand to pass around to friends. Discussion topics and prayer points are built in to the books pages and online videos. This is not a book that will collect dust on the back of a shelf. The pain you'll feel early in the book causes the same kind of soreness that comes from a good workout. The tears you shed will open your heart to love Jesus with sincere intimacy. “When you are wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.”

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Expect Change

expect-changeA big screen dropped out of the ceiling behind Pastor Bob. A cool landscape image like the pastoral rolling hills stock image that comes with your Windows desktop was projected onto the screen behind him. Then slides of his sermon points faded in. I thought it was very cool way to do PowerPoint especially when this sermon is broadcast to so many venues whether it be a satellite church or a mobile phone.

Pastor Bob began to talk about change and changes in churches. It’s funny that a pastor has to explain to the congregation that changes happen. In so many churches across America if the slightest change is made to stage decor, a committee rises up and calls for the pastor’s resignation. “How dare the pastor be so bold as to move the piano two feet across the stage to make room for a potted plant without checking with MEEEE!”

I pray for change in my life; for growth. Of course, I’m not always happy when that prayer is finally answered. God never checks with me before He rolls out the process He uses to change me. It makes me quit asking for change. That’s all I can really do on my end because I don’t have the leverage to fire God when He makes changes I don’t like. I really don’t have the leverage to fire anybody that changes anything in my world. And my complaining and lecturing just empties the room.

When God changes or rearranges my life, I’m learning that it’s a good thing. He’s so wise. But because the agents of that change are other people – some I like and some I don’t – I forget that God is actually in charge and in control. I need to change.

If I’m not changing, I’m rotting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Haiti Crisis a Year Out

A year and a day ago Haiti experienced it's worse natural disaster in history. A year out, people are still scratching their heads wondering if there will ever be a light at the end of this very long tunnel.

I caught up with Angel Aloma with Food For The Poor in this feature article published in the Good News...

- Posted from my iPhone with BlogPress