Thursday, July 31, 2008

40 cents

So we arrived at staff retreat and I was amazed at gas prices outside of Chicagoland. Last night we saw gas for $3.59 per gallon. Of course this morning we drove past the same station and it is now $3.99. How does that happen? And why is it that gas prices go up so fast but down so sloooow

Just some deep thoughts from the Lake

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fault Lines

Southern California is cleaning up after this "minor" quake. I can't imagine living on a fault line. I have friends of mine in California who might be reading this, so my thoughts and prayer are with you (insert smiley emoticon here).

But I was thinking this morning about other fault lines that we are currently on as a culture. There is friction occuring between groups of people that when reaching a tipping point, might cause some societal shock waves.

Generational - boomer, Xer, millenial, etc., etc.
Spiritual - christian, muslim, oprah
Technological - have, have nots
Philosophical - modern,postmodern, postpostmodern, etc.
Church - mega, house, marketplace, none of the above
Political - red, blue, purple
Race - obama, jackson
Sports - favre, packers

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Future of Creativity

The Utne Reader has a cover article that caught my attention called The Future of Creativity. Chapter 3 of my book Experiential Storytelling is on creativity and is probably one of the most important chapters for me because I believe that the church has lagged in this area for a long time. So I'm very interested in anything that speaks to creativity, especially where things are heading.

It's funny though, one of their first stories basically repeats what I wrote in the book- "try thinking or doing as a child would." It seems that maybe the future of creativity lies in the past. But there were some interesting finds in the magazine.

1. We are not doing a great job with fostering creativity in our children.

By pawning off the task of imagination to commercial manufacturers of marketing and entertainment. 44.5 hours behind "screens" doesn't help.

And we no longer allow kids "free and unstructured play time". Because of this, the America's Promise Alliance stated "a large percentage of the children and youth who will enter the workforce ... are lacking enough of the 'soft' or applied skills- such as teamwork, decision making, and communication- that will help them be effective employees and managers."

2. Society needs better writing with larger truths but is weary of these truths.

Writing has suffered because "the smarter and more intellectual we count ourselves, the more adamantly we insist that there is no such thing as truth, no such thing as general human experience, that everything is plural and relative and therefore undiscussable." Hmmm.

3. Art + Science = Inspiration

Science and technology is affecting us in exponential ways (see wired petabyte blog). Rather than the world of art and science remaining separate, the future will bring these two worlds together to provide for a new creative frontier.

The articles were not very indepth but were provocative. I have often wondered what affect our technology will have on us. If we no longer need to struggle and think for ourselves, will this lead to a less creative culture?

And will our "culture of fear" also curb the creative process? We want to protect and cocoon ourselves when we sense danger, but does this lead us to more homogenous group-think?

How have these changes in culture also affected the church? It seems that there has been a creativity rennaissance within many churches, but is it only in the hands of those delivering the message? Are the people sitting in the services using their God-given creativity in their own missional environments? Or are they simply "pawning off the task of imagination to commercial manufacturers of marketing and entertainment?"


Monday, July 28, 2008

One Very Full Week

Looking forward to the week, but also realizing that it's FULL!

Gearing up for our annual staff retreat at the lake. This is our time to get away and connect relationally. It's also a chance to make sure that we are on the same page for the upcoming year. I think it was Mark Batterson who said that when he looks at hiring staff you should look for people that you would vacation with. We're blessed to have that kind of staff dynamic at Life Church.

This weekend I'm excited to be speaking at The Orchard church. Scott Hodge is the Lead Pastor and a very cool guy with an equally cool church. They have a great story and he has definitely put his leadership stamp on the church. They are in a series with a movie theme. I picked The Great Debaters because Scott and I talked about sharing on the topic of the missional church and justice. Can't wait to share- 3 times!

Oh yeah, and Scott was the man who kept encouraging me to blog. Thanks.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Family FUNDay pictures

Some pics from the Family FUNDay. It was truly an incredible event in so many ways. Hayrides, carnival games, face painting, amazing silent auction, live music, some serious square dancing, sno cones, cotton candy, cornhole starbuck's beverages- great fun. This puts the Jarot's one step closer to their dream of adopting their baby girl from Vietnam. I love helping people move closer to this dream.

Jarot Adoption Family FUNDay

Here is the invite "post-it" note for the Jarot Family FUNDay. I was there last evening doing some final prep and will get there around noon today. For information on the event or if you would like to donate to the Jarot's adoption, just click on the note or one of the links. It seems almost everyone knows someone who has adopted internationally. It is an expensive process, especially for younger couples who are just starting out. If churches can use their collective energy to focus attention to orphan care, we could make a difference for the 143 million orphans waiting for a home.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You know it's a bad day when...

...when the plane you are flying in suddenly has a gaping hole in the side and falls 20,000 feet. But even worse, they had to land at the Manila airport. It might be an OK country, but I've been to that airport and it's not the most pleasant place to be. And according to Rainman, Qantas still has a clean record, despite this near miss.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Mega-influence of Rick Warren

I did a double-take when I heard a snippet from CNN saying that the only time that Barack Obama and John McCain would appear together in public before their conventions would be at Rick Warren's church. Then they went to commercial. So I looked it up online and it was true. Rick Warren is going to host his own presidential forum at his church in California.

Rick Warren is approaching mythic status. Seriously. This is unprecedented. He scooped CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and yes, even FOX news. What makes the man so influential besides authoring one of the best-selling books of our time? Well, there is that. But I also think there are a few other things to consider. Here are some of my thoughts.

1. He is a hero among progressives (both Republican and Democrat) for among other things taking on the once evangelical taboo of AIDS and many issues facing Africa.

2. He is the anti-religious-right figure. (i.e. humble, apolitical, loving, giving)

3. He is the guy next door (or at least the one you wish you had).

4. He doesn't take himself too seriously.

5. He stays focused on his mission without getting distracted.

These are all qualities that seem to be lacking in today's leadership right across the board. In fact, if it wasn't for the fact that the man seems to have no ego, he'd probably make a good presidential candidate.

I am looking forward to what this Warren-forum is going to look like. If it reflects the man, this could be the most civil and constructive gathering that our two candidates take part in until November.

Christianity Today

I got a chance to tour the Christianity Today International corporate office yesterday. It's a VERY understated building. On my tour, there was one small area that I loved. It was the editors "wing". There was editor-in-chief David Neff, Ted Olsen, Tim Morgan and Mark Moring. Here were the guys I have been reading and often times quoting in one sitting.

One particularly fun part was seeing John Wilson's office. John is the editor at Books and Culture. And his reviews are very important in the Christian world and beyond. So I kind of wondered what his office would be like. I wasn't disappointed as you can see above. It was a mountain of books with a small space for John to write. You could feel the books in the room. It was the "cave of literature."

Thanks for the tour.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sign of the Times- Fashion Police: Flint Cracks Down on Sagging (caution-contains partial nudity)

"Butt, Officer!"

In my first "Sign of the times" post, Flint, Michigan police have decided to do something about those sagging pants. It's now a crime not just to do crack, but to show it as well. The new Flint police chief thinks it's a national nuisance and is ready to do something about it. But he might have a hard time judging by sagging pants wearer Jayson Miguel and others like him. Says Miguel, "I've been sagging since the fourth grade," the 28-year-old says. "I'll be sagging when I'm old and gray."

No, this is not an onion article, it's from Newsweek Magazine. Full story here-

Cracking Down

Wired to Save on Airfares

Wired Magazine's last issue talked about our new age of data that is turning science on it's head. While a lot of the breakthroughs will never make a practical difference in our lives, there are a few that can help save some $$ on airline tickets. This is especially beneficial in this nasty economy.

Here are 8 tips that the new algorithms are telling us about how to get a cheap flight. I wonder if they can predict the next president?

Algorithms and ticket prices

Monday, July 21, 2008

Out of the Gutter



Yes, the gutters have been cleansed. I can now sleep at night without that gnawing feeling in the back of my mind that something must be done. Thanks to the little old lady down the street. She's a Godsend!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Follow The Leader (mini notes from 7-120-08)

you can hear the full message or podcast at


Split Second Decision Time
Back in high school I can remember being at one of those parties that I really had no business attending-but I did anyway. After a while, the crowd started to get a bit rowdy and my friend and I noticed a fight happening. So we did what all high schoolers did when there was a fight, we watched. But as we got closer, we noticed that the person taking the hits from several guys twice our size was a friend of ours. At that moment we had a choice. We could either be the hero and step in and probably wind up in the ER or worse. Or we could stand by, watch it happen and then offer support after the fact. I wish that I could say that we stepped in and did a Bruce Lee on these guys, but we didn't. We stood by and watched it happen and offered support after the fact. My friend turned out to be fine even though he had a bruised ego. And the whole thing lasted just a few minutes.

And that is how those moments of courageous decision You have to make a split second decision regarding what to do. That lesson over 20 years ago taught me that it's more painful to stay on the sidelines and think "what if" than to get involved.

This split second decision to go the courage or fear route is something that all of us deal with at sometime. In fact, it probably happens a lot more than we realize. It’s those moments where you have to decide do I do the right thing or the easy thing? Do I do the right thing or the safe thing?

In fact I think a good definition of Courage for a believer is doing what's right in God's sight regardless of circumstances or consequences. And there is a pretty good pattern of leaders to follow in the Bible that shows us what that type of courage looks like. Without those before us acting in courage we wouldn’t know anything about salvation, grace and divine forgiveness.

And there is a common theme of courage that runs through our current book of study in Acts. It is full of people who put a human face to courage. People who threw caution to the wind because there was something bigger at stake than their reputations, their comforts and even their lives.

One of my favorite courage stories in Acts 13.

Context- in chapter 13 it says that the church leaders prayed for Paul and Barnabas and sent them out on Paul’s first missionary journey. And in chapter 14 In a city called Lystra, there was a man who had been crippled since birth and Paul sees faith in him and tells him to stand up and he is instantly healed. The crowd sees this and they think that Paul and Barnabas are gods and they make preparations to offer sacrifices to them.

But it says in verse 14 that they began emphatically telling the people to stop, after all they are only humans and then challenging them to turn from their beliefs in many gods to the one God of heaven. And then in verse 19 it says that unfortunately the crowds were persuaded not to believe them and we read “They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city!!!”

He is stoned and left for dead and what does he do?? He gets up, dusts himself off and he goes back for more! Now that is courage! And just two verses later, it says that shortly after they did leave the city, they went BACK again.

We take these stories for granted. In fact it is almost impossible to relate to them - jailed, beaten, left for dead. We don't face these obstacles in suburban America. And yet, there are still plenty of opportunities for us to walk in courage. And there is a lot that we can learn from the patterns we see from the courageous stories in Acts. Here are some common threads.

Their courage came from following the leader.

They had seen Jesus speak the strong truth of God’s message with unconditional love to all different groups of people. They had seen him being chased by mobs, some wanting to worship him, others wanting to stone him. They had seen him say and do unconventional things, when all of the conventional wisdom or the politically correct wind was blowing in one direction, Jesus would stand in the wind and often times walk in the opposite direction.

As Paul letter writes in his letter to the Corinthians- "follow my example as I follow the example of Christ."

Their courage came from being full of the spirit.

What was different about these men and women of the new testament from Acts on? In the gospels they were bickering about position and titles, they were denying they knew Jesus, they were falling asleep at important moments. What changed? Obviously we could say that they had witnessed a resurrection and that would certainly shoot faith steroids in a person quickly. But Acts reveals to us right at the beginning that the spiritual wells where courage comes from at a moments notice came from their wellspring of the spirit of God filling them constantly with his power, courage,love and grace. The spirit is aware of things long before we can be.

There are multiple examples of filling and courage. Here are a few.

In chapter 4, Peter and John are released from jail (a second home to many of the apostles). It says they came together and prayed, "the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."

While Stephen was standing in courage and becoming the first Christian to die for his faith, "But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

and Their courage came from one another.

The word or a form of the word encourage appears 10 times in Acts. I was thinking about the words en-courage and dis-courage and both have the word "courage" at the end. Dis means "not a part of, to remove" and En means "put into, make, provide with, surround with". So if you are an dis-courager, like a deflating balloon, you are someone who removes courage from a person. An en-courager puts courage into, makes courage, provides others with courage and surrounds them with courage.

The church needs to be this for each other- a provider of courage. One of my favorite verses is in Hebrews 10:23-"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Date Night!

Stacey and I are big fans of John Mayer. His lyrics are DEEP and he is a TRUE musician. So when we were in Chattanooga a few weeks ago, Stacey and her sister ran into a friend of Kelli's. She said in a serious southern drawwwl. You'all are from Chicago? I bought tickets to John Mayer thinking that Chicago was only 5 hours from here. **Keep in mind that Chattanooga borders Georgia. Needless to say, she wasn't going to use the tickets. In steps the Millers.

And John didn't disappoint. We went to Tinley Park's outdoor amphitheater. His fingers must have been bleeding by the end of the evening. I was very impressed with his apparent humility and his serious ability to connect with a crowd. There really is no other John Mayer.

More importantly, having fun with the person I love to have the most fun with. And that's what we did.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Weekend Preview

Really looking forward to this weekend. Curt will be back in the saddle and he'll be walking us through a portion of Acts with music and narrative.

Then I will be stepping up for chapters 13-14 in our Follow The Leader series. This week we are going to take a look at courage, something that was in abundance in the early church. I think the older I get, the more I seem to recognize it when I see it. And the more I seem to feel frustrated when I lack it. Here are some questions to think about.

What did courage look like in Acts? What does courage look like in the American church today? How does fear inhibit it? And what are some ways that we can increase our courage? And finally, why did Dan Rather end his shows with that word in the late 80's? OK, might keep that last one out for Sunday, but we will be looking at the other ones.

Is it just me?

Is it just me or is the whole picture of Heath Ledger as the joker just a wee bit creepy?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Starbucks Lists Stores to Be Closed

Is your bux on the black list? Find out here...


Good luck my friends.

Wired for CHANGE

The latest Wired magazine has a cover story called the End of Science. The story starts with these words.

The quest for knowledge used to begin with grand theories. Now it begins with massive amounts of data. Welcome to the Petabyte Age.

The idea is that because of the we are living in an age where the ability to process information grows exponentially every second (tera-second), the models of science are no longer relevant.

Speaking at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference this past March, Peter Norvig, Google's research director, offered an update to George Box's maxim: "All models are wrong, and increasingly you can succeed without them."

It's a fascinating read. But I've been wondering the same thing about the church. What affect does living in the Petabyte Age have on the church. How does it affect the way that society views God, themselves and each other? And in what way does it affect the church? And can the same obituary be given to church models? Will this age turn our view of the church on it's head?

This would be a conference I would love to attend. Let's call it GOOGLED: the affect of the Petabyte Age on the church. Hmmm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Cultural Creatives

Ryan Lott was my worship leader for a ministry in Cleveland we started called Journey. Yes, we named it after the 80's band.

He moved to New York and released his first solo album under Son Lux called At War With Walls and Mazes. The above video is from the album.

He is one of those cultural creatives who is always thinking in multiple dimensions and shades. I need people like this in my life to re-fresh.


My Hands Did This!

I'm not a man who was given much mechanical aptitude. I'm not even sure what that means. But here it is, proof that I can assemble SOMETHING. We rescued this playset from imminent destruction on the treelawn of a neighbor and as you can see, our two little ones are true believers in recycling. Thanks to Preston for giving me the assist.

Follow The Leader Part 3 (mini notes from my sermon on 7-13-08)

To hear the full version, go to

subtitle: little HEROES of the faith (part 3)

Here are some observations from the life of the underrated Barnabas.

Barnabas is a relentless encourager.

Verse 23 of chapter 11 says,
When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.

Barnabas was looking for grace because that's what encouragers do. He was interested in looking for the good and then encouraging that. Maybe there was nothing negative to report, we don't know. All we do know is that Barnabas saw the good, affirmed it and encouraged it. Have you ever had someone look deep inside you and find grace, even when you were feeling at your worst?

Encouragement is a lost art today. It takes so much more effort to be an encourager than a discourager. I find it interesting that the word "courage" makes up most of these words. En-couragers help people to do more than they even think they can. Dis-couragers find fault and push people back into their shell.

Barnabas is radically generous.

Acts 4 ends with an amazing passage about how the first century church was living in a radical state of community, something all of us long for. And it is Barnabas' gift where he sells his field and lays the money at the apostle's fee that seems to spark something. It was significant enough that people wanted to copy it (see Acts 5-Ananias and Saphira). It seems that this act marked the church and it marked Barnabas as well. Sometimes it takes us selling the field in order for us to convince ourselves that we truly believe. And the overflow of that act is courage on display for the rest of the community.

Barnabas finds the good in people.

In chapter 9, Paul, who was known as the executioner to the early church has a vision of Jesus and turns not only to him for salvation, but begins to preach as well. Imagine Osama Bin Laden coming through the doors of the church after finding Jesus and ready to preach. It says that the disciples were afraid of him but Barnabas was willing to take the risk. Why? Because the son of encouragement had the eyes of grace to believe in him.What would have happened to Paul had Barnabas not argued on his behalf? Thank goodness, we'll never know.

Barnabas sticks with someone through thick and thin.

In Acts 15, Paul was upset with Mark (the gospel writer) apparently because he deserted them earlier. Paul decided not to include Mark in his entourage. Barnabas disagreed. In fact, he was so adamant about it that they parted company. Now the good news is that this turned out to multiply their efforts, not divide them. But Barnabas stuck with Mark, even though he messed up. Barnabas is not afraid of sticking with people even when they are in the middle of some messy situation, even when others have written them off.

Now for Paul Harvey's "the rest of the story"- In Paul's second letter to Timothy chapter 4, he writes, "Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry." Nice.

Barnabas is content with being second.

When Barnabas went to Antioch to check in on them, he could have snatched the headlines for himself. It said during his visit, a great number of people came to faith. He could have set up his website, sold some books and possibly retired early. But was does the simpleton do? He heads out to Tarsus to find Paul and he brings him to Antioch. And I love the way John Piper puts it "With this strategic investment in Saul's life and career, Barnabas secured forever his secondary status in church history."

In fact up to this point in Acts, they had always been referred to as Barnabas and Saul, but shortly after this story, they would be referred to as Paul and Barnabas. And for Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, this was fine. He was simply following the Leader as Jesus let go of his entitlements (see Phil 2) in order to fulfill his destiny. We're not taught that second is best. Robin doesn't get the press that Batman does. And Barnabas settles for a footnote instead of a headline. In our culture that is searching for meaning, sometimes we get caught up in the journey to find significance. Rather than finding this in the hiddenness of Jesus, we look for it in the self-help section. We need to have permission in America to be content with living in the shadows. A first fiddle would not sound half as good without the second fiddle. Contentment lies in surrender which Barnabas found when he gave all that he had.

Imagine a church who had real compassion for outsiders. A generous church who help the causes that are close to God's heart. A church where people could come and know that even at their worst, they will be loved. And imagine a people who put others ahead of themselves even if it cost them money or fame or power.

Paul and his combative style grabs the headlines of the church (and we need to learn from Paul), but let's also leave some shelf space for Barnabas the son of Encouragement.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Follow The Leader Part 2 (mini notes from my sermon on 7-13-08)

To hear the full version, go to

little HEROES of the faith (part 2)

Stacey and I had an incredible opportunity recently to attend a taping of a collection of "fathers" of the faith including Jack Hayford, Lloyd Ogilvie, Loren Cunningham, Robert Shuler Sr., John Perkins and Winkie Prattney (the self-proclaimed purple tele-tubby). But as great as it was to be able to listen to and rub shoulders with these men, we were there as much to spend time with the one who put the event together, our friend Dave Buehring.

We have known Dave for over 10 years and we always look forward to spending time with him. He is a mentor and a friend and an invaluable encourager. He is the type of person who leaves you feeling refreshed when you have been with him. In the words of the commercial... he's priceless.

How many of you have this type of person in your life? Sadly, these people are lacking in today's world.

But we have a great example of this type of person in the Bible. He gets little press and actually winds up decreasing in stature over the course of the story. But his contribution to the faith is immense. His name is Barnabas.

Here is some context on our passage that we begin with. We've been looking at the book of Acts in our series called "Follow the Leader." We pick it up in chapter 11 (reading Acts 11:19-26). Stephen's martyrdom caused an explosion of growth of the gospel. Which isn't surprising because the good news always thrives under persecution and suffering. But the word wasn't getting out to the Gentiles, except for a couple of people who went to Antioch where something seemed to be happening. And Antioch was an extremely important city to the faith. It was a city of half a million people with a reputation of being both sophisticated and decadent. It eventually becomes the birthplace of foreign missions and the Bible tells us that the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. And the apostles sent Barnabas to investigate.

When we are first introduced to Barnabas in chapter 4 of Acts, we find out that his name is Joseph. The apostles gave him a nickname since there were quite a few Josephs around, including one other pretty important man by the same name. So they gave him a nickname. Now if an apostle is going to give you a nickname that will still for thousands of years in scripture, you'd better hope it is a good one. There are examples of not-so-good ones, like "Simon the Leper". And while the nicknames were not very creative, the were pinpoint accurate for their description. And Joseph got a good one, one that fits him like spandex- Barnabas which means "Son of Encouragement".

-in my next post on this sermon, i'll list 5 "Barnabas characteristics" that the church needs today.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Time For Justice

We watched The Great Debaters the other night. It's a great story about a little black college called Marshall that was the first black college to debate Harvard. There are quite a few great lines, but there was a speech given when they were granted their first and unprecedented opportunity to debate a white school in Oklahoma City. Samantha, one of the students, had this to say-

My opponent says today is not the day for whites and coloreds to go to the same college. To share the same campus. To walk into the same classroom. Well, would you kindly tell me when that day is gonna come? Is it going to come tomorrow? Is it going to come next week? In a hundred years? Never? No, the time for justice, the time for freedom, and the time for equality is always, is always right now!

I love that. The time for justice IS always NOW. And God is calling his church to make sure that we don't wait.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Follow The Leader (mini notes from my sermon on 7-13-08)

This is Part 1

To hear the full version, go to (should be up tomorrow).

We've been looking at the book of Acts in our series called "Follow the Leader." Quick observation from chapter 10. This is where Peter has a vision about eating meat and Cornelius has a vision about sending his servants to fetch Peter. When Peter goes to his house, he tells them all about Jesus and wham, they instantly follow him. What struck me about this passage is that God could have just as easily sent Cornelius to Peter's house. Most likely it would have been what he would have preferred since he though Peter to be a rock star (as we see when the meet). But God didn't do this, he made Peter, the rock that will build his church, get out of his comfort zone and enter an unclean Gentile's home. This is a picture of what God does when he wants to solidify a dream or vision that he puts in our hearts. He forces us to step out of our comfort zone and step over the threshold of uncertainty.

What has God placed in your heart and what threshold is he leading you to cross?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In the Gutter

Yes, these are my gutters. It's sad because I was commenting just a few days ago that I needed to go and help this elderly woman clean out her gutters because she has trees growing out of them. Then I look at my backyard and see this growing out of my own gutters. It's shameful. So I went ahead and hired the old lady to do it...

Potty Training "Success"

Yes, we had success. BUT... it was shortlived as diaper anxiety shortly kicked in. So we brought in the experts and got a book from the library called Stress-Free Potty Training. First off, this is an oxymoron. This is especially true if you have a stubborn potty trainee. But it did give some helpful hints, especially about the introverted child, something that is new to us. It says that this child needs some extra explanation and might need some additional assistance with pull-ups (training panties) etc. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please join our Potty Training Prayer Team...

Hands free liberation

Was sent this great youtube clip on the liberation and safety of hands free.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Re-adoption Day pics

Here are some pics from the re-adoption day. Fun was had by all, including Strom the Sheriff dude.

Jesse Jackson + other bizarre words

There is a great article responding to Jesse Jackson's unfortunate word choice concerning Barack Obama. It highlights something that people of the lighter hue do not get- the mindset of the African-American. Rather than excuse the comments, author Jack White explains that because of this new territory for African-Americans, there might be a lot of strange behavior. It was good for me to reminded of this dizzying new place black Americans find themselves in, something I've never had to wrestle with.

When the Man is One of Us by Jack White

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's official

Adoption has many legal hoops that you have to jump through and today we finally jumped through the last one. We made the trek downtown to the Daley Center - room 1705 and stood before a judge who granted us our papers to adopt them in the US. The official adoption happened in Vietnam, but this is a formality that will give them their official names that we gave them and a US birth certificate.

Adoption is full of hoops, full of fees and full of stress...and worth it all! It brought back a lot of memories of our time in Vietnam as well as the entire adoption process. It also made us grateful once again to God for allowing us the privilege of enriching our lives with these two amazing kids.

After the adoption, we had to see the city- so we did. Took in the video fountain at millennium park, went to the Shedd aquarium and enjoyed our train ride as well. Great day all around.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I'm writing this as a storm has kept me awake. There is something about thunderstorms that I love. I used to hate them as a kid. My dad, who Pastored for 32 years took me to a tornado ravaged neighborhood when I was 5. He was visiting someone from church who had lost their home. It was 1974 and it was called "the day of the killer tornadoes". Good times.

But eventually my dad took me to the garage during a thunderstorm, opened the doors and told me to listen to the beauty in the storm. Don't fear it, enjoy it. I've loved them ever since.

Now if I could just do the same thing for my 5 year old. I'm expecting her any minute.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mornings with Giants

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with two men who I consider to be giants in the faith. J.I. Packer was visiting Christianity Today and Curt invited me to what we thought was a breakfast where Dr. Packer would be speaking. What it turned about to be was a breakfast with just three of us and Dr. Packer, the man who wrote Knowing God and knew C.S. Lewis.

Then just a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a taping of several fathers of the faith. I was asked to drive one of them to the airport. It turned out to be Jack Hayford who is currently the leader of the International Foursquare Church.

I've sometimes thought maybe it is better not to meet people that you have a great respect for because it can be a real letdown. There was no letdown meeting these men. They were as kind with their words as they were with their time.

Here are just a few insights from my short time with them.

No Retirement in sight

Dr. Packer is about to turn 82 this month and Jack Hayford just turned 74 and they are as busy now as they have ever been. Each of them were talking with me about current writing and speaking assignments that they were working on.

A Passion and Concern for the next generation

When I asked Dr. Packer questions about evangelicalism, he would continue to bring the conversation back to young people. He said that his great concern is that young people not shy away from theology in favor of "fun and games". And as I asked Pastor Jack questions, he immediately was in teacher mode, eager to mentor, even in the short time that we had. What I witnessed matched what this season of life seems to be for him, training the next generation.

More focused than ever on Jesus

It seems that getting older just puts everything into focus, especially priorities. The enthusiasm that these two men had for Jesus and his mission was inspiring. Their words transcended cultural trends. I felt that when I was with them, even my own priorities seemed clearer if that makes sense.

2 giants in a month with lessons I will carry with me for a lifetime.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


This is crazy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What Would Jesus Read? part deux

The case for non-fiction in one short day...

Just got my latest Newsweek and Fast Company. I love Tuesdays if only for that reason. Both magazines had prominent stories on... stories. And this time they were about historical stories. A couple of story quotes popped up in these mags as well as an npr story in my car.

Newsweek's summer double issue (which really was the same size as always but an excuse for them to take a vacation) was about Global Literacy. The editor, Jon Meacham, wrote the introduction and titled it "The Stories We Tell Ourselves". He said, "What we choose to remember is critical, since the narratives that play in our heads shape everything." He's speaking to historical education through proper non-fictional narrative.

Fast Company wrote an article called The Battle of Gettysburg. The writer said that people were not coming because they want to be immersed in experience and movie-inspired storytelling. (sidenote- sounds like this would make a great book). The article says that the historical sites have an important story to tell but it must innovate to tell them.

NPR did a short obituary of Clay S. Felker who was the founder of New York Magazine. He was a pioneer in journalism because he encouraged the news reporters to not just spew facts but to connect the reader by engaging them in the story. He changed the face of journalism and was an important figure in our culture's insatiable appetite for stories.

3 examples in one day of historical, non-fiction storytelling. So would Jesus read non-fiction? My guess is a definite maybe except that he might be a bit of a tough critic. Wonder if Jesus would blog? Another post for another time.

Personally, I love non-fiction as well. Mainly it is for the reason that Jon Meacham speaks of in his article, I want to learn from the past so I don't repeat it. Nothing worse than a lesson unlearned.

What Would Jesus Read?

I was intrigued by a recent discussion that I had with a friend of mine who does not read fiction. And when I read many blog reading lists, I don't find a whole lot of fiction there either. A LOT of self-help stuff but not a lot of fiction.

I am a fan of fiction. Stacey has had a lot to do with me reading fiction, but I have grown to love it. Here's why...

1. Fiction fires up my imagination. And imagination has a big part in the creative process. Sharpen your imagination, sharpen your creativity.

2. Fiction is a stress reliever. My latest read was a warrior tale set around the time of the 100 year war. The detailed storytelling was a great chance to let my brain unwind into another far-away place.

3. Fiction can bend reality. Just like you wouldn't simply watch documentaries all the time, why should you only read non-fiction? Fiction can do things that defy the laws of nature.

4. Jesus did it. The Bible tells us that Jesus told stories all the time. And the ones recorded for us were most likely fictional ones. While all of them pointed to truth (non-fiction), he used fictional parables to point us there. Now did he read fiction? Hmmmmm...

Sometime soon I'll post some of my read fiction and non-fiction, if I can figure out how to do that on blogspot.