Saturday, August 30, 2008

Follow the Leader- The Message

Cliffnotes of last Sunday's talk-

Context- A big portion of this last half of the letter Acts is about Paul being imprisoned. Paul’s friends told him not to go to Jerusalem because of the danger. And Paul shrugs it off and goes anyway. And sure enough, he’s in danger. He finds himself in a familiar setting, being arrested for the umpteenth time and getting beat up for the umpteenth time. Paul is one bad Man (and by bad, I mean tough, courageous, tenacious... the original "Go ahead, make my day" Clint Eastwood).

And surprise, Paul causes an uproar... for what? Speaking the message. It gets so bad that we read in Acts 23:12-

12The next morning the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. 13More than forty men were involved in this plot. 14They went to the chief priests and elders and said, "We have taken a solemn oath not to eat anything until we have killed Paul. 15Now then, you and the Sanhedrin petition the commander to bring him before you on the pretext of wanting more accurate information about his case. We are ready to kill him before he gets here."
~Acts 12-15

So 40+ men turn assassin and make a pact to not eat or drink until they have killed the Paul. They will not eat or drink until this man is dead, until the message is stamped out once and for all.

The message is intimidating to darkness. The message is powerful. Let's treat it as such.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Moment to Celebrate

Putting aside political leanings, last night was an historic night. Watching an African-American accept the nomination to be President of the U.S. on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech was a moving experience. And I thought John Mccain's congratulatory ad was a class act.

One of the most moving parts were the cutaway shots of African-Americans watching the speech. The older ones in tears, thinking they would be lowered into the grave before they witnessed something like this. The younger ones with smiles and hopeful expressions on their faces. But it was a day for all Americans and Christians in particular, who are called to the ministry of reconciliation, to peace, to love and grace to take a moment and celebrate a milestone.

Like Mccain's ad said, "Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight senator, job well done." I think we can all say amen to that.

UPDATE!! We are also able to celebrate John Mccain's pick as well. This will ensure that we will either have the first woman or an African-American to serve at the Executive level. Wow!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Targeted Creativity

So we finally got our Target Retotes. A few weeks back Target ran an ad in NewsWeek where you take the cover off of the magazine, tape it and then fill it with Target bags and send it in to them. They will then take the bags and recycle those into totes. Send it in and you will get one free. We did and we love...

Love the creativity. Love the recycling.

Another Right of Passage

I had never thought about what my parents were feeling when they said goodbye to me as I headed off for my first day of high school...until now.

Today I took my oldest to high school for the first time. I felt in many ways like I did when I first showed up at Colerain High School in 198...., a mixture of fear and excitement. I didn't anticipate as a parent that you relive many of your childhood moments as your kids are living them in real time (the good, the bad and the ugly).

And so three members of the Miller household find themselves at a new right of passage- going to high school and being a proud parent of a high schooler. I dropped her off in front of East High, watched her walk slowly up the sidewalk and open the big doors into another world. And as I drove away, I said a prayer.

UPDATE- She survived with only minor damage (2 blisters on her feet to be exact). Other than that, it was a good day.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Yes, it happened. Raegan and I had a daddy/daughter date to celebrate her move to high school. We started by going to her school to map out her schedule route. After about 2 hours of walking, walking, walking and (you get the picture), we were famished and the only cure for this condition...


Our first Chicago Sonic experience since Chicago is sans Sonic. We didn't get the full experience of eating in the car since there was still a wait to do that. But the sunny and 78 degree weather had us sitting outside on the Sonic patio. But come to think of it, is it the food or the car eating that makes Sonic, well, Sonic? Or is it both? Hmmm.

We then picked up a little happy for Raegan and headed home to see our friend Mickie who is stopping through on her way to LA. Fun with my daughter, a satisfied stomach and reconnecting with a friend. Monday grade- A+

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Miller Time Re:wind

It's time to take stroll down memory lane this past week and reminisce about all of the things that were brewing...

Stacey's 20 Year Reunion-
  • Here she got to answer many of the important, deep questions of the past 10 years- who's gained the most weight, who's lost their hair, who went under the knife, who's still alive?
The Painting Olympics-
  • Did well in the 20' x 9' sidewall, but had some difficulty on the parallel walls. Finished however with a gold medal given to me by some tall, beautiful brunette.
Lexicon Additions and uses-
  • Cone of Silence- "I can't hear you, I'm in a cone of silence."
  • Phelpsian- "Your bedroom painting skills are Phelpsian."
  • Obama-Biden - "Obama-Biden = Ebony-Ivory"
  • Bolted- "You just got bolted in your '93 Ford Escort wagon."
Favorite Read of the Week-
Favorite Screenings of the Week-
Passage that I was Chewing on-
  • Acts 23:12- where 40 men made a pact not to eat or drink until they had killed the apostle Paul. Will speak on this tomorrow at Life Church... the dangerous word.
Most Pressing Question Heading into Next Week-
  • How to treat Olympic withdrawal
Looking Forward to in the Coming Week-
  • Daddy/daughter date with Raegan on Monday
  • Raegan starts Senior High/Ramsay starts kindergarten- wow...

Friday, August 22, 2008

The evolution of a duvet cover

So it starts with this, "Mark, I found this duvet cover that's normally $800,000 at Anthropologie, but I got it for only $20." "That's amazing," I reply.

3 pillows
4 gallons of paint
5 days
and 1 sore back later... we have a painted bedroom.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sonic BOOM!

Well it has happened, a Sonic fast-food restaurant has opened just 5 minutes from our house. I believe it is the first one in the Chicagoland area (at least in our part of that area).

So Curt Hughes and family invited us to meet them at the Sonic for a greasy slice of heaven. We get there and are greeted with orange cones and a uniformed Sonic man informing us that the wait to get into the Sonic is two hours! Then he directs us to an adjacent parking lot with many, many more cones and some sort of double-laned madness with idling cars lined up as far as the eye could see burning a whole in the ozone directly over our heads!

The discussion in our car turned quickly to a cost-benefit analysis. Just what is a Sonic burger worth in waiting time? We decided that 15 minutes is appropriate. Then I started thinking of wait-time analysis and came up with the following...
  • Skyline chili (a Cincinnati tradition)- 30 minutes
  • Deep Dish Chicago pizza (especially if we are in the mood for it) - 40 minutes
  • Chik Fil-A (there are none in Chicago!) - 18 1/2 minutes
  • Ruth's Chris Steakhouse- 1 hour
  • Spago's (never been but wolfgang is supposed to be the man)- 1 hour 15 minutes
And that's it. I can't think of any restaurant or food that could justify two hours of waiting...especially in a car with three children (God love 'em). Can you?

So we wait a few weeks until its 15 minutes of fame is up and our 15 minutes of waiting time begins.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Training up the next generation

Had a great time unveiling our developmental model for our Life Church parents on Sunday. It's a model that I developed with a friend while at NewSong in Cleveland.

We developed the model out of frustration that most children and youth curriculum and programs, while age-appropriate, had no comprehensive template to address their psycho-social development. Because of this, we miss out on addressing and celebrating the various stages of growth and maturity that young people will go through.

We want to help our young people to..
  • Follow Jesus and commit to his ways
  • Develop servant's hearts
  • Develop Godly habits
  • Learn the beauty of interdependence in the body of Christ

In the childhood stages, the children move through three specific stages that culminate in our soon-to-be-launched 5th and 6th grade ministry that is our commitment and commissioning stage. At this stage we will help them with identity issues, talk to them about what a commitment is and share with them 4 specific commitments we want them to consider. The final piece to this ministry is an incredible weekend away that celebrates their coming of age. My daughter went through this and it is an emotional and touching ceremony an celebration.

In the high school years we found that young people emerge in the same three stages as children but this time in the context of adolescence. Here we reinforce the commitments but this time in the context of community. The goal during these years is to ultimately move our young people towards interdependence as it is spelled out in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26.

We have a great team of people who are committed to our children and youth and are fired up about implementing the model. And yes, I have 3 very good reasons (see profile) to make this happen. It was a fun day and we are looking forward to our September launch.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Purpose-Driven Debate

I don't want to focus much energy on politics unless it affects issues of justice, but I can't pass up an opportunity to comment on an event that brought faith and politics together in a creative forum. Rick Warren strikes again by revealing what the debates have lacked- civil discourse. He not only asked them questions that no other journalists would dare ask, he also used the opportunity to educate people on scripture and some of the justice issues facing all of us. I particularly like the way that he brought to the forefront the plight of the 148 million orphans (although I thought the number was 143 million). If you haven't seen it, I would encourage you to take the time. I have embedded part 1, you'll have to go to for part 2 and beyond.

My quick Miller Time takes-
  • Loved Warren's balance between their faith and their policies relating to issues of faith.
  • I was very surprised at how relaxed Mccain was. And I was also surprised how well he did. He showed that we love stories, and he loves to tell them.
  • I thought that Barack did well but I felt that his answers seemed to highlight his lack of experience. Mccain's one word answers were clear, concise and played to his strength of someone who has experience and is a straight talker.
  • Best moment for Obama- "Matthew tells us whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me." He not only brings scripture into play, but he speaks to the heart of the christian message.
  • Best Mccain moment- He had several and most of them were from stories (surprise). His story about the Christmas Day celebration outside of his cell where a prison guard drew a cross into the dirt was powerful. He said "For a moment, we were just two Christians worshiping there." It reminds us of what he has sacrificed for our country (something that I think will resonate with all generations) and it speaks to how the cross unifies (another core theme).
  • Worst moment for Obama- (when asked about his view of abortion- "Whether you are looking at it from a theological or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade." That seemed slick and not authentic. A president must know where he stands on this issue and to be clear about his or her view. I understand the issue is complex, but you can't dodge it.
  • Worst moment for Mccain- In response to what rich is, he says "$5 million" while Obama said "$250,000". Even if Mccain was being flippant, it was not a good sound bite.
My overall grades-

Warren - A

Mccain - A-

Obama- B+

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My bucket list to 40

Celebrating with my friend and partner in the God Squad, Curt Hughes. Curt turned 40 today. Curt was kind of a marker for me because he turns 40 2 months before I do. I didn't have to start thinking about my forties until Curt turned 40. Well... it's here. So I'm now thinking. 40... Hmmmm.

Since I'm now terminal and there is nothing I can do about this, I think I need a bucket list of things to do before I turn 40. I've got 2 months. I've got a blank yellow sheet of paper and I'm starting to write.

Miller's Going for Olympic gold

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We've caught the fever and we've entered the "rhythmic" category looking for some Olympic gold. We'd like to thank our sponsors Jovan Musk and Little Debbie snack cakes. Without them, this moment would not be possible.


note: facebookers will have to go to for this to make any sense.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The AIDS Experience

I met with some very cool people from First Pres. in Glen Ellyn. Steve and Jocelyn are spearheading the effort to bring World Vision's AIDS Experience to our area September 6-14. It is a very creative and impacting experiential walk through the crisis in Africa.

And make no mistake, it is a crisis. The numbers are staggering. An estimated 22 million adults and children were living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of last year, 2007. During that year, an estimated 1.5 million Africans died from AIDS. The epidemic has left behind some 11.6 million orphaned African children.

Life Church is partnering with neighboring churches using the AIDS Experience to help educate people on this crisis. I'm convinced that the church really is the answer for this issue. The root problem with AIDS in Africa is ignorance. Many myths and superstitions persist that have created a climate for sexual abuse and promiscuity which has led to the crisis. At the same time, there are a great number of Africans coming to faith in Jesus. We need to treat the symptoms as well as the cause. Through proper equipping, assistance and prayer, we can make a difference.

Africa too is our neighbor (see Luke 10).

Beijing through the cracked lens of Dave Barry

Dave Barry is one of my heroes. He's a comic writing legend. And he is on fire in Beijing providing regular updates. For a taste of the games with a sense of humor, here's a bite and a link thanks to my sis (Debra Ferguson)...

Dave Barry: It's not the destination, it's the journey

By Dave Barry

BEIJING — Here's how you get around Beijing.First you go to the hotel front desk, which will be staffed by 17 people. This is one of the nice things about China: There are always plenty of people around to help. For example: In some men's rooms, there are attendants whose sole function, as far as I can tell, is to direct you to the urinals. You walk in, and there's a guy, and he makes this gesture toward the urinals, which are roughly two feet away, his point being, "Here are the urinals." And no, you do not tip him.

But getting back to the topic: When you get to the hotel front desk, the 17 people gather around and frown thoughtfully while you tell them where you want to go. Usually they have never heard of it. So they talk among themselves, make some phone calls, talk some more. You of course understand none of this conversation, because you are a clueless western idiot...
For more, click HERE. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Our Perfect Season

It takes a special group of guys and the right set of circumstances to accomplish the elusive perfect season. I have played softball for 24 years and I've never seen one. Until now.

Last night, under a canopy of stars, the unbelievable became reality... Life Church finished 0-12.

We began with the same mission as the church- to pray, love and serve our community. And that is exactly what we did. Last night we served and served and served the other team, until they simply got too tired to run the bases any more. But in true form, our team would not let them rest. Rather than doing things that could discourage them, like catching the ball and throwing it to the right base, we graciously put our egos on hold and allowed them a few more "insurance" runs.

And then it was over. Like a captain deciding that he must go down with his ship, Curt turned a simple fielder's choice into a double-play. The circle was complete, the dream realized... the perfect season was finally ours.

No asterisks here, we did it the old-fashioned way, we earned it. Some would want to call it quits and go out on "top", but we'll be back next year with our new goal in mind- defending our record of futility.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic fever

I'll confess it, I have Olympic fever. And the only prescription is MORE Michael Phelps!

I'm amazed at how into the Olympics I get every four years. Stacey and I were jumping up and down as the US defeated France in the 4 man 100 meter relay. It brought back some memories for me. I can still remember how cool it was that I had the same first name as Mark Spitz, Mary Lou Retton scoring a 10, the first US Dream Team trouncing everyone, Jesse Owens running for... OK, not that old.

But what a needed break from the Presidential campaign. Americans get to breathe a collective sigh of relief and come together to show a bit of unified patriotism. Of course, it will be back to the normal bickering etc. in a few days, but let's enjoy it while we can.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fictional Wisdom- Fear and Courage

As I said in an earlier post, I think Jesus might be a reader of fiction.

A recent fictional read for me was Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow. It's historical fantasy with a protagonist named Helikaon who is a warrior and a leader. While I find it hard to identify with a Dardanian prince sailing the oceans, I did identify with something in the character that all of us wrestle with, fear. Here is a moving scene in the book where Odysseus, an older mentor, is telling Helikaon (his boyhood name was Aeneas) about the relationship between fear and courage. Tragedy had struck the boy when his mother died and he was paralyzed with fear, but Odysseus believed that there was a warrior inside of him that simply needed encouragement.

Odysseus moved away from the cliff edge and sat down on a grassy bank. "There is no courage without fear, Aeneas. A man who rushes into battle fearlessly is not a hero. He is merely a strong man with a big sword. An act of courage requires the overcoming of fear." Raising his hand, palm outward, he instructed the boy to do likewise. Then he reached out and pressed his palm to the boy's. "Push against my hand," he said. Aeneas did so. Odysseus resisted the push. "Now, this is how courage and fear work, lad. Both will always be pushing. They are never still." Dropping his hand, he looked out over the sea. "And a man cannot choose to stop pushing. For if he backs away, the fear will come after him and push him back another step and then another. Men who give in to fear are like kings who trust in castles to keep out enemies rather than attacking them on open ground and scattering them. The enemies camp around the castle, and now the king cannot get out. Slowly his food runs out, and he discovers the castle is not a very safe place to be. You built a castle in your mind. But fear seeped through gaps in the walls, and now there is nowhere else to hide..."
When I was interning, an older man said to me "fear is the greatest motivater in the world." Too many are controlled by it. The story of Aeneas reminds us that we must not run from or hide from our fear. Courage flies in the face of fear and is the only real way to overcome it.

Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.
~Psalm 27:3 (NLT)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympic-sized observations

Wow. Let the games begin! China brought it's 'A' game to the opening ceremony. We watched it with our neighbor kids who are Chinese. They made a point of telling us that all of the toys at our house are made in China. This was the first Olympics that our Ramsay can remember. She was doing some serious ballet during the dancing parts. And Rowan wasn't even born yet at the Athens games. She was singing some serious karaoke in her pink tu tu.

Here were a few observations while we were watching. What were your thoughts??

  • Favorite ceremony parts- the footprint fireworks, the 2008 drummers, the printing press boxes, the scroll, the progressive canvas art piece, the running man and the olympic ring fireworks (how scared was that guy?).
  • Any doubts about this being the Chinese century were eliminated.
  • How come other countries can celebrate their faith along with the rest of the world but the west cannot?
  • Bob Costas is the best commentary period. He should do every awards show.
  • What were the Hungarian designers thinking?? Ouch.
  • I was pleased with the reception that the Americans received. A little surprised actually.
  • Stacey commented "very Ralph Lauren" about the American outfits before she knew they were Ralph Lauren...such a fashionista.
  • How can the Chinese women wave for 3 straight hours!
  • Was surprised at how many countries I had never heard of. Djibouti?
  • Was it just me or was Yao Ming literally twice the size of the next tallest Chinese athlete?
  • What would have happened had one of the torches gone out? Do they start the whole trek around the world over?
  • Amazed at the 3600 hours of coverage this year. This is the DSL olympics.
  • Chicago 2016 baby!! And we're glad we're not London in 2012!!


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Out of the mouth of babes- part 1

Kids say things in such a way that cause us to look at life from a different angle. Out of the mouth of babes will be my attempt to capture that moment and hopefully share with you some thoughts on life from 42 inches and below.

Avoiding work

Stacey said to Ramsay, our five year old, "you need to talk to daddy about what other things you need to pick up."

Ramsay's reply, "Um mom, I'm not a talker."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Are our kids growing up too fast?

Not known for prudishness, Newsweek has an article asking this question. The article is from a book called So Sexy So Soon that confirms what we know, media images and marketing campaigns encourage youth to be "sexy ". As a father of three girls, age 14, 5 and 2, this topic is close to my parental heart.

I was reminded of this issue this past week when Stacey was telling me how difficult it is to find a bathing suit or tank top for our oldest daughter that isn't too revealing. It seems that there is a push for our kids to reveal more at earlier ages. Are these designers and retailers with an agenda or are they merely reflecting the trends and desires of the mainstream? While we could debate this one with some serious Christian zeal, the better questions are "how do we protect and teach our kids about these issues?"

After much prayer, Stacey and made the decision to send our children to public schools. And while I am told that there is just as much temptation for private schooled and home schooled children, I know that our girls will come face-to-face with values that contradict ours. Here are a couple of things that we have decided to do to help along this journey. Obviously many of these apply to our oldest, but we are establishing the same guidelines for all of our girls.

  1. We are very aware of what our kids read, watch, listen to etc. This is a delicate balancing act of protecting some privacy while being aware.
  2. When they go to someone else's house, to the best of our ability, we will meet the parents first.
  3. Stacey is an active partipant in the shopping decisions. And yes, she enjoys this.
  4. We leave the channels wide open. If one of our children asks about something, we will talk about it. No topic is off limits. We don't avoid it or say "we'll talk about that when you are older." This pause might let the imagination run free. We want to shape the thought before curiosity take over and want our children too know that the home is the safe place to talk about it. We work had at not reacting when we here something come out of their mouths. In the Newsweek article, they talk about asking more questions before responding. Children may say the word "sex" but they really mean "kissing". So don't boldly go where you haven't before until you know you need to.
  5. We try our best in our words to reinforce that sex is a good thing- IN MARRIAGE. This reinforces that we take our cues from God and that his word says that sex is reserved for marriage. Some friends of ours who are not people of faith have already given up on the idea that there kids will not have sex before marriage and they were surprised that we thought that our kids could show restraint. I don't want to ever give up on trusting our children to choose the right path and the Holy Spirit to give them wisdom at the moment of decision.
  6. We learn from other parents who have been here already.
  7. We pray and pray and pray some more.
We are still learning, still growing in this area. Our children are too valuable and the price is to high for us to not take this seriously.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

6 degrees of missions

So it appears that 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon was off by ".6". The small world theory has been around for a while. It is the idea that you can connect any two people on the planet by 6 people. This gave rise to the game 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon which took this idea and applied it to movie stars.

And now Microsoft has it's own calculations to conclude that the 6 degrees theories was pretty close to dead on. Microsoft researchers Eric Horvitz and Jure Leskovec looked at over 30 billion conversations over Microsoft Messenger in June 2006. These messages represented about 180 million people in the world. Horvitz told the Washington Post, "What we're seeing suggests there may be a social connectivity constant for humanity."

I like this theory because it makes global issues much "closer to home". The smaller the world, even if it is simply psychological, makes missions much more personal. The tribe in Africa or the village in Cambodia or the people group in Peru that we have been praying for is just under 7 people from your very doorstep.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Creative Action from TED

Yesterday I wrote about developing creative action to address justice issues. One example of this is a man who has taken U.N. data and used it to show us how countries are pulling themselves out of poverty. The petabyte age is upon us. This is such a creative use of data. And now we need to find creative ways to act on the data. Thanks to Ade for sending this on.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

God + Justice + Us

Enjoyed day 2 of the Orchard. Scott, Terri, Chris and Mike and company made me feel like part of the family. And I was very excited to hear about the 100++ people who will be baptized next week at their baptism and bbq. Some cool stuff happening at The Orchard.

My talk was on The Great Debaters. Specifically, it was about our responsibility as followers of Jesus to work towards justice. And we started with that great debate where the character Samantha declares that the time for justice is always, always NOW!

I didn't grow up with blatant injustice in my face. It wasn't until my wife and I suffered the pain of infertility that we were introduced in a very personal way to injustice. Our journey took us to adopt a baby girl from Vietnam where we saw first-hand what real poverty looked like. We also learned about the potential path of girls in southeast Asia who are not adopted. And inside that hot and smelly orphanage a world away, my life was changed when they handed me my baby and told me her Vietnames name is Hoai which we were told means..."worth remembering."

I read recently that justice is much easier to demand than to define. I think the best definition that I could find was simply that justice is about righting wrongs.

The self-imposed wrongs of this world come in all shapes and sized. In fact, there are so many "wrongs" in the world, we sometimes get overwhelmed. We are reminded of them everyday on TV, the internet, the newspaper, magazines. They can begin to feel like wallpaper: we know they are there, but we just don't pay attention to them. A few years ago every Iraq war casualty made the front page. The same pain faces the families of the fallen and yet today we hardly hear -about them. Here are more unfortunate "wallpaper stats"-

  • There are 143 million orphans worldwide
  • 2/3 of the world's population lives on less than $2 a day
  • The number one killer in Africa is polluted water.
  • Every year 10 million children die before their fifth birthday from easily preventable problems (Bono calls it "stupid poverty").
The Bible has a lot to say about justice. God says "I am a God of justice" and "I am the God who loves justice."If we are truly following his path, then we must love what he loves, we must embrace what he embraces. Seeking justice is not an option but an opportunity.

There are a couple of things that I believe we can begin to develop within us.

Develop Compassion Permanence. This is from Gary Haugen's must-read book called The Good News About Injustice. It simply doing what you can to not forget something that stirred your heart with compassion. Journal, blog, pray, write, talk about it when your heart is tugged on. Put yourself in the place of the person who is suffering. And pay attention to your heart, it might be God wanting you to do something. Compassion (hearts that are softer) is the first place to start. Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw hurting people. Like a magnet to metal, he was attracted to those who were suffering. All of God's children are worth remembering.

Develop Contagious Courage. There will be times when we are asked to step outside of our comfort zones, outside of the safe shore, outside of even our natural abilities to stand against injustice. When someone steps out in courage, others around begin to feel it too. It puts courage into (or EN-courages) others. (side note - the prefix "en" means to put into)

Develop Creative Action. I love that we are living in a creative renaissance. Whether it is from culture's turn toward personal expression or from technology advances, we've never lived in a more creative time in history. We need to use our creative capital in our churches to find better solutions to right wrongs.

But if we simply stay overwhelmed, we will remain in justice paralysis and yet injustice never takes a holiday. That's why the time for justice is always now.

There is a parable that Stacey and I came to love after hearing that there are 143 million orphans worldwide. It's the parable of the starfish. We heard about it through the Starfish Foundation that financially assisted in our adoption. It says...

One day a man was walking along the shore. As he walked he saw that a young man who was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer he called out,"Good morning! What are you doing?" The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish in the ocean." "I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?" "The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don't throw them in they'll die." "But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!" The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, "It made a difference for that one."

Stacey and I had just adopted our second baby from Vietnam and we were walking on China Beach when I noticed a starfish. I handed Rowan over to Stacey and picked up a starfish and threw it in the ocean and we both said "we made a difference to that one." Then we continued to walk and noticed hundreds of starfish along the beach. Our hearts were torn between the sense that we made a difference to one and the realization that there is still more work to be done. I retell that story partly to keep compassion permanence in my heart and mind because injustice never takes a holiday. And the time for justice is always now.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

It's Orchard Time

Had a great time speaking at the Orchard today. What a great church, great people. They are in a series called "At the Box Office".

The movie that I chose was The Great Debaters. I was surprised at how moved I still was when was watching the clips from the movie. The one that had me choked up during my talk tonight was when the Pastor/Professor played by Forrest Whitaker accidentally hit the hog with his car and the men made him pay an exorbitant amount. The shame on his face as the men humiliated him and he kept looking back at his family was gut-wrenching. Then to watch his son look at this proud man who was stripped of his dignity was even more difficult to watch.

Injustice robs people of human dignity. And God, using his church as his extended hands, gives people back that dignity through justice.

Looking forward to 2 more services tomorrow at the Orchard. I'll post some notes on the talk on Monday.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Lake Time

If there's one thing in my life that's missing, it's the time that I spend alone, sailing on the cold and bright, clear water...

That would make a great lyric. We're having a great time with the staff-a little boat time. Raegan, our 14 year-old actually drove me around on the waverunner. It was pretty cool. I was just talking with someone about how we want our kids to be responsible, but also willing to take some risks and overcome their fears. She was a bit afraid at first and then... ZOOM! I'll be sore tomorrow. Pictures are forthcoming.