Showing posts from January, 2010

Renew & New Beginnings

Have you ever wished for a do-over? Ever wished you could restart something from scratch? Have you wished you could hit the "rewind" button and back up a few years?

I wish I could restart my mission work in Prague. I was young, naive and inexperienced when we went to start a church in that world-class city. I was breaking away from my sectarian past, but I was still trapped in the narrow thinking that has doomed most of our European church works. I would love a do-over on that one.

There are others as well. I could name relationships that need a restart. There are projects that I would love to rewind. The list goes on and on.

Have you ever stopped to consider what it means that God is the Creator? As the One who created heaven and earth, He has amazing power to create and put things in order. He can make worlds from nothing.

As a God who creates, has it dawned on you that he still has power to create. And not just create. He is able to recreate. He can make things new. He is the…

RENEW Conference 3+ weeks away

It's hard to believe that we are just 3 weeks & change away from the Renew conference. Good thing we've got so many capable people on the job! I can't imagine trying to run this thing on my own. Registration numbers are very strong so far. It's especially gratifying to see how many of our own people are supporting the conference.

Worship is the primary response to God's powerful acts. Awe and reverence hit us when we recognize an encounter with the Holy One. When we see God's hand at work, we tend to fall to our knees in gratitude and humility.
God doesn't leave us on our knees. Worship is an appropriate response, but He doesn't leave us at worship. God's M.O. throughout scripture is to follow that up with a calling to do something on His behalf. He moves us from worship to mission.
Remember Moses & the burning bush? Moses is dumbstruck that he is in God's presence. But God has a job for him to do.
Remember Mary? A messenger from the Lord ap…

Should We All Be Giving to Haiti?

In times of crisis like this, tons of money flows to relief organizations. Most donations that come in are earmarked for the region in question. After the great tsunami in Indonesia, billions of dollars in aid was given to help rebuild. In a similar vein, current donations are almost all earmarked for relief efforts in Haiti.

While it's understandable that people feel compassion for Haiti, we would do well to remember that there are many other worthwhile projects going on around the globe. Many organizations are working with AIDS orphans in Africa. Others are drilling wells or teaching sustainable agriculture in Saharan Africa. Still others make micro-loans to women in Southeast Asia to grant those women more empowerment and freedom.

Some agencies lament that giving for these vital, ongoing projects tends to dry up when a major catastrophe like the Haitian earthquake occurs. Many relief agencies have global works and they could use money for other worthwhile projects, but they are o…

New News from Haiti

Here is the latest on relief efforts led by Churches of Christ. During your day you may come across many news feeds with info from all kinds of Christian & humanitarian organizations. If you want news on our church-sponsored efforts, check out the news at the Christian Chronicle.

Have a great day!

Renew Conference update

RENEW 2010 is just 4 1/2 weeks away. When Zoe pulled the plug on their West Coast conference back in the fall, all of us felt a bit of initial disappointment. As we pondered our situation, however, we felt a surge of excitement when we realized the potential of doing our own similar conference.

This really is going to be a great weekend! Randy Harris and John York headline the conference. We are fortunate to have some great regional teachers present material as well. Andy Wall and Tim Spivey are two of the best Church of Christ preachers in California. Bobby Bligh, Les Bennett and David Berry are excellent preachers right here in the San Joaquin Valley. See our website to register:

The cost is just $25! It's a great bargain & even includes a dinner on Saturday night. Hope to see you here in Fresno!

Haiti update

The Christian Chronicle website is back online. For info about churches and organizations that are accepting donations, click on the following link:

Haiti Relief update

The Christian Chronicle website seems to be down. I haven't been able to pull up their website for about 24 hours now. Not sure what's happening.

I do know, however, that they have an expanded and updated list of churches and agencies that are trying to get aid into Haiti. Since my last blog post, they have added about 5 new avenues for giving. The advantage of working with small, church-run agencies is that your dollars will likely go to concrete projects that you can actually get updates on.

Major relief agencies like the Red Cross certainly need money, but it is much more difficult to track the impact of your donation. You also know that a big chunk of your gift will go toward administration and additional fundraising rather than directly to Haiti.

So if you want additional information, keep checking for updates on agencies and churches who are receiving donations for Haiti.

Haiti Relief Efforts

Here are some avenues for giving financially to the relief efforts in Haiti. The suffering and tragedy there are unfathomable for us. If you would like to give toward the various efforts, please click on the links to go the websites. The top five organizations generally work within Churches of Christ and do all kinds of relief and development work around the world. The final is the Red Cross which will do the bulk of the relief work. Hope for Haiti's Children is clearly the organization already on the ground, but Healing Hands & Christian Relief Fund have had ongoing work there as well. I can personally vouch for the people who run Healing Hands & CRF.

Hope for Haiti's Children
Healing Hands International
Christian Relief Fund
White's Ferry Road Relief Ministries
Churches of Christ Disaster Relief

American Red Cross

For more information about the tragedy and response from a perspective within Churches of Christ, you can read the updated information at the Christian Chron…

Nashville Rescue Mission administrator victim of email hacking

Well, as I pointed out earlier, I have not been the only victim of hackers who get control of your email account and then send frantic messages to say you've been robbed in London and need immediate help.

My mom tells me about an administrator at the Nashville Rescue Mission who had the same thing happen to him on Tuesday. Here's the story about it:

It does seem as if they are targeting religious leaders. Perhaps people trust them and are more apt to respond when they see an email that looks authentic rather than one that is obviously spam. Or maybe they just don't like Christian leaders. Or maybe this is happening across the board but I only hear about the religious leaders. I don't know.

I can only hope that the word is getting out by now. What will they think of next?

Jay Leno's crazy journey

When I was in college, David Letterman's late night show was all the rage. I've always found his brand of humor more funny than Jay Leno's. So when Jay & Dave went head to head, I rarely ever watched Jay. Of course, I rarely ever watched either on in recent years, but perhaps you get my point.

Still, I've found this whole Jay Leno thing to be quite funny. First, he's moved to prime time. Conan comes in and does the Tonight Show. Jay bombs in prime time. Conan falls far behind Dave in the ratings. NBC panics and pulls the plug on Jay and moves him back to the late night slot. Meanwhile, all of Conan's staff who just moved to LA will now be in limbo after just 7 months on the job. Wonderful.

At any rate, Dave seems to be having a blast with this whole NBC thing. Especially since he left NBC when they chose Jay over him to be on the Tonight Show.

Here's a clip of Dave making fun of this whole Jay Leno thing:

Good luck, Jay!

Renew Conference getting closer

Well, it just dawned on me that we are a little over 5 weeks away from our RENEW conference. I was "underground" for about 2 weeks with family travel and grad studies. Now that I've resurfaced, I am finally catching my breath and starting to work in a semi-methodical fashion. I'm glad that we have such a great team of people assembled to make this conference a reality!

The conference focuses on worship and mission. If you track the typical flow of scripture, here's what usually happens: (1) chaos occurs & people need help; (2) God acts in an amazing and mighty way; (3) the people worship and praise God; (4) God sends them on a mission.

Worship is a response to the mighty acts of God. It's hard to worship if you've never needed God's power. Those who are self-sufficient have a hard time knowing how to worship. This is ultimately the problem with legalism. It infects people with an unhealthy breed of self-sufficiency. They think God doesn't need t…

Imagining a Church That Connects

It's great working with a church that is full of creativity and imagination. The College Church surprises me week in and week out with the energy and ideas I find here. Returning to this place is like a breath of fresh air.

But this brings me back to a question I asked months ago: Who is the College Church? This is not an easy question. There are so many ways of answering it. First, we have our perception of the College Church. And even that varies from person to person depending on how long a person has been here, what kinds of activities they've been involved in, etc.

Second, there is our perception of what people think about us. We all think that people on the outside have a certain take on our church. Of course, we may be right about what they think. But we may not be right. People often observe things differently than what we think they do.

Third, there is the real perception of people on the outside. Some know us only in passing. Others know us because of certain interactio…

Going Home

It's seems like a long 9 days that I have been away. Family time in Austin was good. The majority of my class in Abilene went well. Last night's fiasco caused by a hacker leaves me exhausted and frazzled. Oh well, it could have been much worse.

Here's a Today show video about this kind of hack & scam technique.

I am glad to be heading home. The family has been back to the regular routine this week. I'll have to hit the ground running, though, since we are hosting a couple church activities tomorrow.
Looking forward to Sunday!

Fight with Hackers

I've just had a not so fun fight with Nigerian hackers. It's taken about 5 hours and I'm not yet sure that I'm in the clear. This is not my idea of a fun evening when I have some final things to prepare for my class tomorrow & I could be watching football. This too shall pass!

My only consolation is that this exact same thing (kidnapped in London message & all) happened to Dr. Paul Faulkner last week in Austin. Life goes on.

Still Freezing in Abilene

So I've been in a class all week titled "Missional Ecclesiology." It's taken me most of the week just to figure out what the title even means, but it's been a thoroughly invigorating week. Basically, the class is about how church can become a people who are more fully dedicated to the Kingdom of God.
Of course this brings up all kinds of questions. If we are going to reshape our churches to more accurately resemble a pursuit of God designs for creation and humanity, what exactly is his aim? Is he merely interested in us going to heaven? Is that what salvation means? And how do we live our communal life in a way that nurtures this vision of salvation? These are deep questions and not so easily dismissed.
For example, when I grew up in church, the primary concern was to be saved from sin and not go to hell. So how did we answer this concern? By baptizing people in the right way for the right reason so that they could have assurance of going to heaven.
But as we look …

Temps in the Teens

It seems that all anyone can talk about here in Abilene is tomorrow's weather. Temps are supposed to be in the upper teens when we get up tomorrow. Wind chill is to be around 5 F.

Having spent the last 15 years in less moderate locales, one might expect that I would laugh at these temperatures. But there's a key factor in weathering such cold. It's called preparedness. Having the right gear is crucial. And living in a place where you expect bad weather also makes this kind of cold seem less intimidating.

So no, I'm not laughing at this weather. I'm not worried either, but the Central Coast sounds awfully appealing about now.

Freezing in Class

Okay, so it was 27 F this morning here in Abilene. Without a scraper, I had to wait for my rental car to heat up enough to thaw the frost on my windows. And then to add insult to injury, the heat is broken in our classroom here at Abilene Christian University. It was broken yesterday, too. I'm not sure why they can't get it fixed. Perhaps it's something about Pres. Money trying to raise money to replace the boiler pipes around campus. Or not. We're all wearing our coats to compensate. At least the heat works in all the rooms around us, so we do get some ambient help. By the end of the week the highs here will be about 31.

Can't wait to get home to Fresno!

Up to My Elbows in Classwork

Greetings from frigid Abilene, Texas. I am up to my elbows in class work as I try to plow through yet another graduate course. It's going to be a long but good week. I'm just glad to be here.

Nothing much to report. We enjoyed a few days with Julie's family in Austin, Texas. Always great to be with the in-laws. As far as in-laws go, they're pretty good! We always enjoy our time here.

Funny, I used to look forward to coming to Texas in the winter so we could warm up. Now that we're living in California, it's been the opposite. I'm glad I pulled out my winter coat to bring with me. I haven't needed in Fresno, but I'm thankful to have it today -- especially with the heat out in our room in the College of Biblical Studies here at ACU. Ah, well.

So are we for TCU or Boise State tonight? Or do we care?

First Holiday in Fresno

Well, we made it through our first holiday season in Fresno. A California Christmas actually wasn't too much different from an Ohio Christmas or a West Virginia Christmas or a tender Tennessee Christmas or a Texas Christmas or even a Czech Christmas. What makes Christmas special for me is not the place or the weather. It's the people I share it with. And while this year's Christmas was just our little family of four, it was special. We experienced the blessing of the Christmas season in a unique way. I can't say that I wished to be anywhere else.

There are blessings that come from living your whole life in one place. Putting down deep roots in a community gives you access to great connections and resources. I don't know what this kind of life would be like, and sometimes I wonder how it would feel to know one place so intimately and to have relationships that that deep.

But I also know that blessings can come from the transient life. Our kids are learning that they c…