Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Crossing

There was a great article on the front page of the Elkhart Truth on Sunday about The Crossing. Check it out here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Funniest. Video. Ever.

No folks, this is not a joke. This is the actual speech this man gave as he ran for treasurer of Stark County, OH. Enjoy.



Link love to Seth Bartlette for bringing this video to my attention.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Congrats Nick and Sarah!!!

Congrats to my sister, Sarah, and her hubby, Nick, on the birth of their first child! Phinehas Blaze James Anderson was born this morning at 3:43am. He weighs 8lbs 4oz, and is 21.5 inches long.

The proud parents!

And one proud uncle!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Life Marked By Faith

“No Compromise: A Life Marked By Faith”
In Loving Memory of My Dad
12 August 2010

My dad was the enforcer of justice in our household. I guess that’s the nice way of saying that my dad had a belt, and he wasn’t afraid to use it. Or a ping pong paddle. Or a large wooden spoon hanging on the wall. I suppose anything that made a loud “smack” on our behinds was considered fair game when it came to corporal punishment.

But it was never the physical act of discipline that drove fear into our hearts. We knew that our dad loved us, and he would never truly hurt us. Rather, when dad corrected us, it was his absolute authority that was awesome and, truthfully, terrifying at times.

I remember once as a teenager getting in trouble, and my dad threatened that I was “not too old to get a spanking.” Thinking I was tough stuff because I was a big, strong football player, my cocky response was, “Try it. I think I can take you now, dad.” My dad immediately rebuked my rebellious and disrespectful attitude, putting the fear of God in me—a quick and frightening reminder that my physical stature was no match for the “dadness” of my dad; he was still the “Chief,” as we often affectionately referred to him.

My dad used to say, “Nothing ever gets by me.” And at times we truly questioned whether he might have omniscient powers because he had a knack for digging up all of our dirty little secrets. Like the time I tried speeding down a country road at night with my lights off and ran over a mailbox. Or the time when I got in a fistfight at youth camp and busted a guy’s nose because he was trying to flirt with my girlfriend. Luckily, it took my dad nearly two years to dig up that story, at which point the only logical response was laughter.

At the root of my dad’s discipline was not a love for punishment or even a love for justice. No, I believe dad disciplined us because of his own high moral standards, grounded in Scripture—standards that he faithfully imparted to his children by holding us to them.

My dad’s values never wavered, even when they fell in direct opposition to the world’s values, or even the values of other God-fearing believers. As a kid in AAU basketball, my dad took a firm stance that I would not play in games on Sunday mornings, even though the coach of the team was a believer himself, and he didn’t seem to have a problem skipping church for basketball. But in our household growing up (and still to this day), Sundays were set aside for church and family.

Or when other parents in the youth group allowed their kids to have co-ed New Year’s Eve slumber parties, my dad took a strong stand, not allowing us kids to put ourselves in situations that might possibly compromise our integrity or our witness to others.

As a child and teenager, I sometimes resented my dad for his uncompromising values and rules. But, my dad was more concerned about being my dad than being my friend. And, I believe it was because of his courage to be a great dad during my childhood that I was later able to call him a good friend. And, much to my dad’s shock, on my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary I wrote them a letter, specifically thanking dad for disciplining me as a child.

In today’s culture of friend-first parenting and discipline-less anarchy in the home, my dad stood in the gap as an example for other parents on how to discipline their children with love. Sure, sometimes it felt as if my dad’s favorite verse in Scripture was the old Proverb of King Solomon: He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (I’m still convinced that my dad had that underlined a few times in his Bible.) But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. And, in hindsight, I can clearly see that dad loved us too much to let us live by any other standard than God’s standard.

My dad recently lamented to me that he could never keep up with my mom’s level of spiritual discipline. (And, in reality, who could? My mom is a prayer warrior and a saint.) But what my dad didn’t realize is that for over 30 years he modeled for us kids a life marked by faith. His integrity in all things modeled a life grounded in the authority of Scripture. His commitment to church and family modeled a life centered on godly priorities. And his well-worn Bible found throughout the house spoke to an intimate relationship with his Lord.

While my dad was not a perfect man (and he’d be the first to admit that), he was a loving father whose life painted for his children a beautiful picture of our heavenly Father. And for that, I am eternally grateful. His was a life without compromise, a life marked by faith.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pong Shots: The Original

For those of you who enjoyed 4 Guys Pong Shots Deuce, here's the original pong shots video those same guys shot last summer. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Passion

I've been reading like crazy in recent months. Right now I'm really enjoying a book by Mark Batterson called Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God. Here's a quote from the book that pierced my heart this week:

"I'm not convinced that your date of death is the date carved on your tombstone. Most people die long before that. We start dying when we have nothing worth living for. And we don't really start living until we find something worth dying for. Ironically, discovering something worth dying for is what makes life worth living.

"Maybe that explains why Jesus was so full of life. He had so much--or rather so many--to die for. No one was more passionate about life than Jesus. In fact, the final chapter of His life is appropriately referred to as the Passion. And we are called to follow in His footsteps. Christ followers ought to be the most passionate people on the planet. Pursuing God-ordained passions isn't optional. It is an essential part of chasing the [Holy Spirit]. And the adventure begins the moment we start pursuing a God-ordained passion."

I don't know about you, but that gets me fired up. I've experienced the passionless life of living for myself--for temporal things--and I've tasted the joys of passionately pursuing God's kingdom on this earth. And I know that I can never go back. Sometimes I allow myself to get distracted, but then the Spirit graciously pulls me back into the abundant life. I'm feeling that tug again, and I'm insanely excited about where the Spirit is leading me this time. He's got big plans for me, and He's got big plans for you. It's time to forsake all else and passionately pursue God at all costs!

Amen?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pong Shots

Wanted to give a shout out to some of the kids from my old youth group at St. Mark. They just released their second "Pong Shots" video on Youtube. While they may have wasted an entire summer shooting this video, I'm not complaining because it's downright entertaining and actually quite impressive. To all you youth pastors out there, I think this would be a good "just for fun" video to show at youth group sometime. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jehovah-jireh, My Provider

I've spent several months now trying to figure out what in the world God is doing with my life. These months have included lots of soul-searching, lots of frustration, some low points spiritually and emotionally, and a true test in my patience. After a year filled with purpose and adventure in Africa, I was forced to slow down and wait on the leading of the Spirit for my next step in life.

So I waited...and waited...and waited. I waited for what seemed to be an eternity, knowing that God had a plan for my life but uncertain of where He was leading me next. My heart was torn between returning as soon as possible to Africa or staying home and continuing to be there for my mom and dad as my dad fights for his life. To make matters more confusing, in the midst of my soul-searching I sensed that God was calling me back to Africa and had a purpose for me there. At the same time, I felt like to abandon my family at a time like this would be disobedience. In the midst of all this confusion, I found it really hard to trust God--to trust that He knew what He was doing in my life and that He had a plan.

This past weekend I was at a spiritual retreat, and I heard from the Lord in powerful ways. The most impacting thing I heard from God was this:

"Adam, My plans for you are better than your plans for you."

Wow. Here I have been, running around trying to put together my own goals in life and set into motion my own plans, and I've honestly failed miserably in those efforts. I want my life to count for the kingdom, but that starts by allowing the King to call the shots. As I'm learning to come to grips with that reality, I'm again realizing what it means to die to myself. When I give my future over to God, I'm allowing him to reshape my desires and my dreams. And in doing so, my life will look significantly different than it would have been if I continued to be the one in charge. But at the same time I know that this "new life" will be so much better--so much more fulfilling--because it will be for Him and not for me.

So the Lord has led me to two unlikely places that were never a part of my plans. Through his unmistakable leading, God has brought me to Granger Missionary Church, where I've accepted a position as their interim worship leader. At GMC, the Lord has provided a place for me to use the talents in music He has blessed me with, serving the body of Christ in leading them before the throne in worship each week. Having been there for a few weeks now, I feel like the Lord has anointed me for that position.

While I'm passionate about leading others in worship, more than anything my heart continues to beat for impacting the lives of young people. Over the past couple years, I've also felt the Lord drawing me more and more to at-risk teens--to the kids that face poverty, broken families, lack of education, addictions, and abuse. In light of those passions, the Lord has provided a full-time job for me as a teacher at the Crossing Educational Center--an alternative Christian school for at-risk teens. Honestly, I never would have imagined myself as a high school teacher, but I sense that this job will be perfect for me at least for this period of my life. I seriously feel so blessed right now.

In the words of the old chorus:

"Jehovah-jireh, my Provider, His grace is sufficient for me..."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Contextual Youth Ministry in a Diverse World

I was recently given a really cool opportunity to write an article for Youth Specialties. For those of you who don't know, Youth Specialties is one of the largest youth ministry organizations in the US and a major publisher of youth ministry resources. The topic I was given to write about was "contextual youth ministry." The final product was an article I entitled Contextual Youth Ministry in a Diverse World. Give it a read, and let me know what you think!

*Shout out to Terry Linhart over at y.m.e.r.g.e. for helping me with the writing/editing/publishing process, and for helping shape my thinking for this article!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Most Egomaniacal Man in the World


That's right, LeBron...we are all witnesses. Witnesses to the Most Egomaniacal Athlete in the History of Sports. At least that's one title you've already won...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"God Is Not A White Man"

I recently ran across a pretty sweet band called Gungor. Their song "God Is Not A White Man" challenges the faulty worldview and perspective about God that plagues many Christians in America today, which is why I really like it. Hope you enjoy the music video!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Link Lovin' It: Friends in Missions

I want to continue highlighting some blogs that are worth checking out. You can follow these blogs in the blogroll on my sidebar, or better yet, add them to your Google Reader! Here's some link love for my friends on the mission field:
  • Amanda Lehman has spent much of the past two years serving as a teacher and working in an orphanage in northern India. You can read about Amanda's heart for "the least of these" here.
  • Jess Gates is mentoring teenage girls and doing some incredible sports ministry in the Dominican Republic with Students International.
  • Kory and Ali Lantz are missionaries in the truest sense of the word. They work with at-risk teens right here in our own backyard, in the Keller Park neighborhood of South Bend.
  • Miah and Michelle Collins train youth leaders with J-Life in South Africa. Miah recently ran a 56-mile race. You can read about that experience here.
  • Nick and Sarah Anderson are church-planters in Oaxaca, Mexico. They talk about "spiritual mapping" here.
  • Ranae Holdeman is a teacher for missionary kids in Botswana. She shares some good thoughts about wisdom here.
  • Jeff and Amy McKissick serve as medical missionaries in Paraguay. They also have the cutest kids E-VER!
I'm so blessed to have friends serving the Lord all around the world! Check out their blogs, pray for them, and send them some words of encouragement!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Blog Design

Over the past couple weeks, I've been learning about HTML code and tinkering around with my blog design. It was a fun little experiment while it lasted. But, I'm realizing that there are people out there with A LOT more knowledge and skill with this stuff, so I've scrapped the whole project and picked an entirely new blog template.* Hope you like it!

*Shout out to Josh Peterson for this template design!

Honey, I shrunk the world.

I recently received a newsletter from some missionary friends that shared some interesting statistics about the world population. The following is a synopsis of what our world would look like if shrunk down into a community of 100 people:
  • 57 would be Asian
  • 21 would be European
  • 14 would be from the Western Hemisphere
  • 8 would be African
--
  • 52 would be female; 48 would be male
  • 70 would be non-Christian; 30 would be Christian
  • 70 would be non-white; 30 would be white
--
  • 80 would live in substandard housing
  • 70 would be unable to read
  • 50 would suffer from malnutrition
  • 1 would have a college education
These statistics remind me of two things:
  1. My white, middle-class American worldview is so different from most of the rest of the world, and I have a lot to learn from other people.
  2. I am SO blessed (especially considering those last four statistics), and I believe God has blessed me so that I can be a blessing to others!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Link Lovin' It

I'm assuming by now most of you have noticed my new blog design. (If you're reading this on Google Reader, come over and check it out.) I've also added several links in my sidebar to friends in the blogosphere. Here's some link love to my blogging friends in youth ministry:
  • Derry Prenkert is Senior High Youth Pastor over at Nappanee Missionary Church. Derry has been one of the most influential people in my life, and his blog is a must read for anyone in youth ministry.
  • Jason Thompson has been a Middle School and Pre-teen Pastor at NMC for several years. Jason was one of my mentors when I interned at NMC in the summer of '05. Jason is currently using his platform to make a big difference in the DRC. You can read about "The Congo Project" here and here.
  • Jon Andrews is the youth pastor over at Wakarusa Missionary Church. Jon is doing some downright inspiring stuff right now, raising awareness and fighting against sex trafficking in Asia. At 300 lbs., John also just finished his first half-marathon!
  • Kara Szyarto is Youth Director down at Columbia City United Methodist Church. Kara and I studied youth ministry together at Bethel College, and now she's out there on the cutting edge of youth ministry!
  • Phil Strahm is the youth pastor at Trinity Park United Methodist Church down in Greenfield, IN. Phil and I have been good friends since 2005, when we interned together at NMC.
  • Seth Bartlette is the youth pastor at St. Mark Missionary Church. Seth and I were "partners in crime" at SMMC for several years, working together with the youth ministry. Seth continues to do an incredible job impacting the lives of young people at St. Mark.
  • Terry Linhart was one of my youth ministry professors at Bethel College, where he also serves as the Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy. Simply put, when it comes to youth ministry, Terry is the man!
You can keep up with the latest posts from each of these guys on the blogroll in my sidebar, or just add them to your Google Reader!

Monday, June 14, 2010

encouraged.

Last week was very discouraging, as my dad's health seemed to be declining daily. There were days when my dad seemed so near to death that I thought he might just give up. But each day he kept fighting courageously, refusing to give in to death. My dad has lost a lot of things, but he has certainly not lost his will to live!

We continue to take things day by day, and my dad keeps fighting. Yesterday was the first sign of my dad's health moving in a positive direction. The hospice nurse came in the morning and said that the sore on his back is finally starting to heal, which is a HUGE answer to prayer! Then, later in the evening, my dad was able to sit up in his chair and talk to us for a while. His mind seemed sharper yesterday than it has in a long time. After a week of discouragement, I left my parents' house last night feeling very encouraged. God continues to show us His mercy daily, and His hand is evident in my dad's situation.

So, I remain cautiously optimistic. I know and believe that God can still heal my dad. He could heal him instantly, or He could heal my dad through a long and painful process of recovery. I also know that it's a lot messier than that. Sometimes good people do not receive the answers to prayer that they seek. But that won't keep us from praying.

One of the most inspiring things for me has been seeing my dad's faith grow amidst such adversity. At times when he could very easily be cursing God, my dad cries out to Jesus for help. He encourages us daily to keep believing, to not give up on him yet. And I pray that you would join us in believing. God is not done getting glory in this situation...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tough Days Ahead

My family continues to receive overwhelming support from family and friends during these difficult times. Thanks so much to all of you who have offered words of encouragement, and thanks especially to those who continue to intercede on behalf of my dad. It means so much. This is the latest news on his health.

In recent weeks, due to his bed-ridden state, my dad developed a nasty pressure sore on his lower back. Over time, the sore began to grow and then became infected. On Monday, my dad was admitted back into the hospital and was in very critical condition. We almost lost him Monday night, but praise God the antibiotics fought off the infection that threatened his life. He has spent the past few days in the hospital, barely hanging on to life. He seems to struggle with nearly every breath, and his mind really seems to be going on him as well. I was, however, able to have one good conversation with him on Tuesday in which he shared with me his last "pearls of wisdom" for me. I will cherish those forever.

Today my dad will be taken by ambulance back home, where hospice will take over care of him. His desire is to die at home. At this point, the doctors say he could go any day. I would be surprised if he makes it another week. These are very difficult times for our family, and it looks like there will be even tougher days ahead.

Please pray:
  • for a spirit of peace to overwhelm my dad and my family during this time
  • for my dad's spirit--that he would be prepared to meet the Lord
  • for the Lord to release my dad from his pain
  • for my mom--she suffers with my dad
  • for a miracle. Our God is all-powerful!
Thanks so much, and I love you all!

Adam

What a blessing it has been to be a part of this family!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wisdom from John Wooden

Arguably the greatest basketball coach ever, John Wooden died yesterday at the age of ninety-nine. I wasn't even born yet when Wooden won 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years with UCLA in the 60s and 70s, including 7 in a row from 1967-73. All I know is that kind of success is absolutely insane. The crazy thing is, with all that success Wooden is known more for the kind of man he was than for his success on the basketball court. He's more famous for the wisdom he imparted about life, rather than his wizardry as a great basketball coach. Here's a collection of some of that wisdom--some of the greatest "Woodenisms."

"Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out."

"Never mistake activity for achievement."

"Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then."

"Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

"Be prepared and be honest."

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

"You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you."

"What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player."

"Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character."

"A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment."

"I'd rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent."

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes."

"It isn't what you do, but how you do it."

"Ability is a poor man's wealth."

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

"Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights."

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

"Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."

"It's not so important who starts the game but who finishes it."

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."

"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen."

"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

"The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team."

"Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."

"Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It's courage that counts."

*Source: CoachWooden.com.

Friday, June 4, 2010

One More Week!

I was never much of a soccer fan growing up, but my world travels have opened my eyes to the fact that on the international stage, soccer is the sport. And for the billions of soccer fans around the world, the World Cup is the event. As you probably know by now, this year the World Cup will be held in South Africa--the first time it has ever been held on the African continent! I'm excited for South Africa to showcase their beautiful country to the rest of the world. And I know this event means a ton to the people down in SA. Some of my friends at J-Life are really getting into the World Cup spirit, too. Check it out!

South African pride at its finest!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blog Under Construction

As you might have noticed, I'm doing a much-needed overhaul of the layout of my blog. Hopefully the final outcome will be a more aesthetically pleasing website than my previously all-black design. I should have it done in the next day or so. Hope you like it!

AC

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Before and After

No tricks this time--these pictures are for real! Enjoy the transformation!


Shave-Free for 393

I know most of you have been sitting on the edge of your seats for the last four weeks since the poll closed, wondering what my decision was going to be. Well, wonder no more. After 393 shave-free days, I finally cut my beard! It was sad to see my faithful friend go, but with the rising heat and humidity and one or two job interviews on the horizon, it was just time to say goodbye to the beard. The dreads, however, live to see another day!

Because I have too much time on my hands (and apparently you do, too, because you're still reading this!), I decided to video this special occasion. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Currently Reading, Currently Writing

I'm currently reading a book called On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. I've always considered myself a fairly good writer, but I've recently realized just how much I don't know about writing. Just a few chapters into this book, I'm learning a ton, and it's a really enjoyable read.

I'm also currently in the process of publishing an article with Youth Specialties on "contextual youth ministry." I just sent my first draft of the article to the editor yesterday, and it should be published in their online journal in June. I'll be sure to send out a link when it gets published.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Vision

The Vision1

By Pete Greig

The vision?
The vision is JESUS--obsessively, dangerously, undeniably Jesus.
The vision is an army of young people. You see bones? I see an army.
And they are FREE from materialism.
They laugh at 9-5 little prisons.
They eat caviar on Monday and crusts on Tuesday.
They wouldn't even notice.
They know the meaning of the Matrix, the way the West was won.
They are mobile like the wind, they belong to the nations. They need no passport. People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.
They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and dirty and dying.

What is the vision?

The vision is holiness that hurts the eyes. It makes children laugh and adults angry. It gave up the game of minimum integrity long ago to reach for the stars. It scorns the good and strains for the best. It is dangerously pure.

Light flickers from every secret motive, every private conversation.
It loves people away from their suicide leaps, their Satan games.
This is an army that will lay down its life for the cause.
A million times a day its soldiers
choose to lose
that they might one day win
the great 'Well done' of faithful sons and daughters.
Such heroes are as radical on Monday morning as Sunday night.
They don't need fame from names. Instead they grin quietly upwards
and hear the crowds chanting again and again: "COME ON!"
And this is the sound of the underground
The whisper of history in the making
Foundations shaking
Revolutionaries dreaming once again
Mystery is scheming in whispers
Conspiracy is breathing...
This is the sound of the underground
And the army is discipl(in)ed.
Young people who beat their bodies into submission.
Every soldier would take a bullet for his comrade at arms.
The tattoo on their back boasts "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Sacrifice fuels the fire of victory in their upward eyes.
Winners.
Martyrs.
Who can stop them?
Can hormones hold them back?
Can failure succeed?
Can fear scare them or death kill them?
And the generation prays
like a dying man
with groans beyond talking,
with warrior cries, sulphuric tears and
with great barrow loads of laughter!
Waiting. Watching: 24-7-365.
Whatever it takes they will give:
Breaking the rules.
Shaking mediocrity from its cozy little hide.
Laying down their rights and their precious little wrongs,
laughing at labels, fasting essentials.
The advertisers cannot mold them.
Hollywood cannot hold them.
Peer-pressure is powerless to shake their resolve at late night parties
before the cockerel cries.
They are incredibly cool, dangerously attractive inside.
On the outside? They hardly care.
They wear clothes like costumes to communicate and celebrate but
never to hide.
Would they surrender their image or their popularity?
They would lay down their very lives--swap seats with the man on
death row--guilty as hell.
A throne for an electric chair.
With blood and sweat and many tears, with sleepless nights and
fruitless days, they pray as if it all depends on God and live
as if it all depends on them.
Their DNA chooses JESUS. (He breathes out, they breathe in.)
Their subconscious sings. They had a blood transfusion with Jesus.
Their words make demons scream in shopping centers.
Don't you hear them coming?
Herald the weirdos!
Summon the losers and the freaks.
Here come the frightened and forgotten with fire in their eyes.
They walk tall and trees applaud, skyscrapers bow, mountains are
dwarfed by these children of another dimension.
Their prayers summon the hounds of heaven and invoke the ancient
dream of Eden.
And this vision will be. It will come to pass; it will come easily; it
will come soon.
How do I know? Because this is the longing of creation itself, the
groaning of the Spirit, the very dream of God.
My tomorrow is his today.
My distant hope is his 3-D.
And my feeble, whispered, faithless prayer invokes a thunderous,
resounding, bone-shaking great "Amen!" from countless angels, from
heroes of the faith, from Christ himself. And He is the original dreamer,
the ultimate winner.
Guaranteed.

  1. Taken from Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Awakening a Generation, by Pete Greig & Dave Roberts, pp. 119-122.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Uncle Adam

Hands down, the best part about being home these past several months has been getting to spend tons of time with my family. I've especially enjoyed getting to love on my nieces and nephews. Every Sunday, my 3-year-old niece, Brooke, reminds me that I have "silly hair." The conversation usually goes something like this:

Brooke: You're silly because you have silly hair.

Uncle Adam: No, you're silly.

Brooke: No, you're silly because your hair looks like that (pointing to my dreads).

Uncle Adam: No, I'm pretty sure you're silly.

Brooke (Speaking matter-of-factly now): No, you're silly.

Etc.

This profound conversation can go on for quite a while, until finally we just get in a tickle fight over who's the silliest! Being an uncle is AWESOME!!!

Lauren, Brooke, and Wesley with their (silly) Uncle Adam. (Easy on the stranglehold, Brookie! ;-)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Billy Graham (and the Apostle Paul) on Evangelistic Urgency

"The evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is crucial; every generation is strategic. But we are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear full responsibility for the next one. However, we do have our generation! God will hold us responsible at the Judgment Seat of Christ for how well we fulfilled our responsibilities and took advantage of our opportunities." (Billy Graham, Just As I Am, p. 565)

Amen, Billy. May we never lose our sense of urgency!

More than anyone in the history of the Church, it seems the Apostle Paul understood this sense of urgency. He writes:

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" (Romans 10:14-15)

Amen, amen, and a-men!

Friday, May 14, 2010

on genocide.

The following is an excerpt from an interview in Jean Hatzfield's book Into the Quick Life. The interviewee is Berthe Mwanankabandi, a young Tutsi woman and one of the few survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Here are her words:
"When I hear news about all these African wars on the radio, I fear that the end is near for Africa. African leaders make decisions on affairs all too brutally. It is an insurmountable problem for us, the little people. But the case of Rwanda escapes African customs. An African massacres with anger or hunger gnawing his belly. Or he massacres as much as is necessary to confiscate diamonds or suchlike. He does not massacre on a full stomach and with his heart at peace on hills planted with beans like "interahamwe" [extremist Hutu militia]. I think they mislearned a lesson from somewhere else, from out of Africa. I do not know who sowed the idea of genocide. No, I do not say it was the settler. Really, I do not know who it was, but it is not an African.

"I do not understand why the Whites watched us for such a long time, while every day we suffered the blades. If you who witnessed the genocide on your television screen do not know why the Whites did not raise a hand in protest, how was I, buried in the marshes, supposed to know?

"I do not understand why certain suffering faces, like those of Hutus in Congo or the fugitives in Kosovo, touch foreigners and why Tutsi faces, even carved by machetes, provoke only thoughtlessness and neglect. I am not sure I understand or believe in a foreigner's pity. Perhaps the Tutsis were hidden too far from the road, or perhaps their faces did not adequately express this type of feeling.

"In any case, what the Hutus did is without question devilry. This is why, as long as there are "interahamwe" and their supporters incarcerated in Tilima, I will still tremble when I hear voices speaking from amongst the leaves in the banana groves."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Five Stack 2.0

I just finished reading my second Five Stack. Here are the books I've been reading:

Spirituality

Red Moon Rising, Pete Greig & Dave Roberts

This book was both challenging and inspiring. Essentially, Greig chronicles his own journey as he was led by the Spirit to start a movement of 24-7 prayer that began in Great Britain just over a decade ago. The movement soon spread to believers all around the world. In some of the least likely places, often amongst marginalized people on the fringes of society, 24-7 prayer rooms have begun sprouting up all over the world. The stories of God's hand on this movement are incredible, and it's encouraging to know that more than ever Christians from all over the world are uniting their hearts together in prayer to our Creator. I'm still processing what this all means to me personally, but I sense that God is calling me to humble myself and pray like never before.

Africa
Into the Quick Life, Jean Hatzfield

This book is the flip-side of "A Time For Machetes," which I read in my first Five Stack. In this book, Hatzfield goes back to the hills of Nyamata, Rwanda and interviews the few survivors of the 1994 genocide left there. Again, this book is not for the faint of heart. No details are left out as the survivors recount this macabre atrocity, the most deadly month in the history of humanity. Stories of men, women, and children being hacked to pieces as they seek refuge in churches leave you wondering whether there is any goodness in the hearts of humanity. The fact that these such things and worse happened on such a large scale is utterly incomprehensible. But, as my friend Derry recently discovered firsthand on his trip to Rwanda, these are not just gruesome tales for books; this stuff is real. If you can handle it, this book deserves a read. Let us never forget...

Philosophy
Escape From Reason, Francis Schaeffer

This book comes from The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Vol. I: A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture. It's the second book in the five volume set, which contains all twenty-two of Schaeffer's published works. This specific book, Escape From Reason, addresses the historical shifts in the study of epistemology (ie. the theory of knowledge, its nature, limits and validity). According to Schaeffer, modern man has removed spirituality or religion from all rational thinking. The common modern man, for example, may use the words Jesus or the cross, but he has removed the meaning behind these words from their rightful place in real space-time history. Thus, there is no rational meaning behind the words. In the same way, Scripture is removed of its true power and authority. Spirituality is viewed through a lens of irrationality, which we can clearly see in the predominant mindset of religious universalism today. Unfortunately, the only rational conclusion man can make from his current position is that there is no God and man is nothing. This has led modern (or now post-modern) man into despair. As Christians, we must be prepared to offer the world a biblical worldview as a rational alternative, as a means for hope in this world drowning in despair. For Christianity alone can answer the deepest questions and fulfill the deepest desires in the hearts of humankind.

Finances
Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America, Ronald J. Sider

This book really has very little to do with personal finances. It's more of an overall assessment of the current situation of poverty in America. Drawing heavily on sociological research and data throughout the book, Sider begins by making a strong case that poverty is a major problem in America. He makes it clear that as one of the richest nations in the history of the world, we should not be satisfied with the amount of people in America currently living at or below the poverty level. Sider then outlines the biblical imperatives for social justice. Finally, he essentially takes our current situation in America and runs it through the biblical grid of God's view for social justice. He tackles issues such as employment, family structure, health care, education, Welfare, and crime, among others. For each of these issues, Sider uses sociological research, as well as his personal experiences in dealing with the impoverished in his community, to help outline what the government, the media, and most importantly the Church should be doing to fight poverty in America.

Missionary Biographies
Just As I Am, Billy Graham

At 750+ pages, this book seemed to be the most daunting of all five books. However, Graham's incredible life stories sucked me in right away, and I actually finished this book first--I couldn't put it down! I was amazed by so many of the insane opportunities Graham had to preach the Gospel literally all over the world. Probably the most intriguing thing for me was the personal influence he had over every one of our U.S. Presidents over more than five decades, from Truman to Clinton. (The book was published in 1997, but I presume this influence continued with W. and Obama). In fact, he has individual chapters devoted solely to his personal relationships with each one of the Presidents. Incredible stuff...

There was so much to learn from Billy Graham's life experiences, but two things stuck out to me the most: (1) Billy Graham was a man of integrity, and (2) he was a man of prayer. His humble reliance on God through prayer throughout his many years of ministry was inspiring. I closed this book with a lot of respect for Billy Graham as an anointed man of God.

Each one of these books I would suggest as being more than worth your while to read. Hopefully as time allows I will be able to share more about what I'm learning through these various readings.

So, what good books are you reading these days?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Currently Reading...


...A LOT! My goal at the beginning of the year was to read one book a week for the entire year, for a total of 52 books. Currently, 18 1/2 weeks into 2010, I'm slightly behind schedule, having finished 16 books (almost done with #17). More on my readings soon!

Monday, May 10, 2010

(no caption needed)

Caption

Whoops...I sort of "forgot" to put a caption under the picture in my previous post. :-P That was a picture of me after I shaved my head 5 YEARS AGO! You've all been duped!1 Look for my real decision in Dread Vote 2010 to be coming soon!

1. Shout out to my South African friends Sue and Tara for figuring out that this was an old picture!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Prayer Warriors

Dear Friends and Prayer Warriors,

As many of you might already know, my dad has been battling cancer for about two and a half years now. Throughout much of this time, he has been experiencing extreme amounts of pain as the cancer eats away at his bones and presses up against nerve clusters in his back. At the same time, up until this week, his doctors remained optimistic that they could keep the cancer under control. Two days ago, however, we received the news that we were hoping to never hear: the cancer is out of control, there is no longer anything the doctors can do, and my dad has about 6 months left to live. This was obviously a devastating blow for my dad and for our entire family. In this situation, we are forced even more desperately onto our knees to pray for God's miraculous touch.

I'm writing all of you to ask that you join me as an army of prayer warriors interceding on behalf of my dad. I'm asking you to join with me in believing Jesus' words in Mark 10:27: "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." You are all my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I'm asking you to help carry this heavy burden with my family and me.

Here are some specific ways you can be praying:

  • Pray for relief from the intense pain that my dad experiences on a daily basis.
  • Pray for strength for my dad. He has lost about 100 lbs. now, and he can barely walk.
  • Pray for strength for my mom. She has faithfully remained by my dad's side through all of this, often enduring sleepless, pain-filled nights alongside him.
  • Pray that both my mom and dad can find moments of rest and peace during these difficult times.
  • Pray that if these are our last few months with my dad, that they would be filled with meaningful and joy-filled experiences for my family.
  • Pray that the Lord would intercede with a miraculous touch, for HIS glory!!!

Please take time, even now, to bring these requests before the Lord! He hears our prayers!

Blessings,

Adam

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dread Vote 2010

Dear Voters,

I do not want you to be uninformed as you enter the polls today. Within hours of the polls opening last week, my friend Eric called me up to gather some facts before casting his vote. I thought I might share with you some of these facts while the poll is still open. And, just in case your opinion is swayed by these new facts, keep in mind that you still have time to change your vote!

Okay, the following are the pros and cons of having a beard and dreads:

Pros

  • They look awesome! (Don't argue with this one...this is a fact!) haha
  • On the basketball courts in River Park, my new nickname is "Baby Jesus!"
  • Closely tied with the previous comment, when people see me they often think about Jesus! (Unfortunately, it's the way I look that reminds them of Jesus, not necessarily the way I act!)
  • I don't have to shave every day...or even ANY day!
  • I don't have to worry about getting hit on by girls anymore! Ha! Jokes...
  • On a more serious note, the way I look now--especially with the dreads--seems to immediately bring a deeper connection with certain types of people that would be harder to connect with otherwise. People like the youth in a local prison I've been working with and my black African brothers...
Cons
  • Sometimes when I'm eating I think there's a hair in my food...then I realize that I'm munching on a little bit of my beard!
  • Because of the dreads, people don't believe that I don't smoke pot!
  • My head is itchy sometimes.
  • I have to wear a shower cap when I shower.
  • My face gets pretty hot sometimes with all that hair, especially when I go running.
  • My hair requires WAY more upkeep than I'm used to.
These are some of the pros and cons to consider when placing your vote. Also, keep in mind that my dreads have not completely locked in yet, so there's something to be said about finishing what I've started! With that, I'll leave you to the polls!

Sincerely,
Commissioner, Dread Vote 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Update on My Dad

My family has continued to receive an outpouring of love and prayers from many people as we walk through this difficult time with my dad's health. Here's the latest update so that you can be praying more specifically.

My dad has continued to suffer in excruciating pain as the tumors press up against nerve clusters in his back. A major prayer of ours for some time now has been that he would receive relief from that pain. God willing, that prayer will be granted today through a minor surgery. My dad will be having surgery later this afternoon to receive a pain pump. Basically, a small incision will be made in his abdomen to place a pump inside him, with a tube wrapping around under his skin to his back, where most of the pain occurs. The pump will be filled with meds which will be released directly to the point of pain in my dad's back. With this built-in pump, relief from the pain should be as easy as simply pressing a button.

Please pray...
  • that my dad's frail body (he's lost about 90 lbs) will have strength to make it through this minor surgery
  • that this new form of medication will relieve much of the pain that my dad has been enduring for so long
  • that the doctors might have wisdom throughout this procedure and in the days ahead
  • for restful, sleep-filled nights for both my dad and my mom
  • for HEALING!
Thanks again to all of you who are praying. You are such an encouragement to my family and to me!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

To keep the beard and dreads or not to keep the beard and dreads, that is the question!

So today I was pondering the deeper things of life, when I remembered that an important milestone in my life is quickly approaching: one week from today marks one year since I started growing my beard! That's right, it's been 358 days since a razor touched this face. Impressive, I know...

Well, it's been a great run, but I'm starting to think it might be time for a change. I was thinking it might be fun to have all my faithful readers join me in the decision-making process. (This is your chance to let me know what you REALLY think about my caveman look!)1 So, I've set up my very first blogger poll to ask for your help in this all-important decision. Believe it or not, your votes will play a large role in determining what I do with my hair!2

So what are you waiting for?! VOTE NOW!!!

1. Mom, your vote doesn't count! I already know what you think! :-)
2.
The poll closes at 12pm Wednesday, May 5th. At that point, 49% of my decision will be based on the top vote-getter, while 51% of the decision will be made by ME! :-P

Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Traditions

The annual family picture on Easter. It was great to have the whole family together this year!

And, of course, an Easter egg hunt with the little kiddos!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

on prayer.

"God thinks much more of your desires than of the words in which they are expressed. It may be natural for a scholar to consider the accuracy of your terms, but God especially notes the sincerity of your soul. There is no other place where the heart should be so free as before the mercy seat. There, you can talk out your very soul, for that is the best prayer that you can present. Do not ask for what some tell you that you should ask for, but for that which you feel the need of, that which the Holy Spirit has made you to hunger and to thirst for, you ask for that."

-C.H. Spurgeon, from a sermon entitled "Pray, Always Pray"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Power of Prayer (and the Problem of Pain)

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. (James 5:13-15)
Most of us have read this passage of Scripture before. We know that prayer is important--that God hears our prayers and answers them (though not always in the way we want). As good Christians, we "know" these things...

At the same time, most of us have known other good Christian people--people just like us--who have died too young. They begged God for healing, but God was silent. They believed in God for healing, but He had other plans. We all know someone like that. And I think, if we were honest, that messes with our heads sometimes. We have lots of questions for God:

God, why do you allow pain and suffering?

God, why didn't you heal ____________ ?


God, can you really hear me? Where are you!?


We all have these questions. And, sometimes, because of these questions we begin to doubt God. We may still want to trust in God, but our faith is shaken. And often times, for this reason, we stop praying. We disobey the command in James 5 to pray because we're afraid that God won't answer our prayers. We're afraid that God won't show up and do the miraculous. We don't want to look like idiots when God doesn't show up, so we simply don't pray.

Most of you know that my dad is terribly sick. In fact, if something miraculous doesn't happen soon, my dad's time left on this earth could be very short. His chemo treatments have not been working. The doctors aren't sure what else they can do. It's getting down to crunch time, and it's time that we seriously get on our knees in prayer.

Tonight we will be putting James 5:13-15 into practice. My dad has called the pastors and the elders of his church together to pray over him and anoint him with oil for healing. We are trusting God for a miracle. It's scary...I mean, what if God doesn't show up? But yet in faith we know that God has the power to heal, and in obedience to His Word we are asking for His healing touch.

PLEASE JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR A MIRACLE!!!

One more closing thought. About a year ago, I ran across a passage of Scripture as I was reading through Isaiah that shed some new light on situations like my dad's. In the first two verses of chapter 57, Isaiah writes:

The righteous perish,

and no one ponders it in his heart;
devout men are taken away,
and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
to be spared from evil.
Those who walk uprightly
enter into peace;
they find rest as they lie in death.

It's difficult to think of things this way, but I really do just want my dad to be restored and healed. And I know that in his glorified, eternal body, my dad will be in peace and free from pain. Selfishly, I want many more years with my dad, but God knows what is best. God may choose to heal my dad by "sparing him from evil" and allowing him to "enter into peace." And who am I to argue with God?

But regardless of God's answer in this situation...

WE MUST PRAY!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Subbing Day From Hell

This past week I had by far my worst day of substitute teaching. I finally decided to venture back into the world of middle school teaching, taking a job at Grissom Middle School that included a half day of teaching math/science classes and a half day of teaching remedial reading classes. The morning math and science classes went relatively smoothly, although the teacher did not give enough work to occupy the students the entire class period. That was really no problem though, as by the end of class I had a handful of 13-year-old boys hanging out by my desk as we talked sports and they asked about my year in Africa.

Things got interesting in the afternoon, though. First of all, I learned that most kids in remedial reading classes are not "slow" or "special needs"--they are simply TROUBLEMAKERS! For the first time in my subbing career--going all the way back to a couple years that I subbed during college--I had to kick two kids out of class. In a class filled with way too much attitude, a couple girls started getting into it, swearing at each other and getting up into each others' faces. I seriously thought there was about to be a royal rumble!

The day wasn't all bad, though. I actually met three kids from Africa, which was cool. One of the girls, Lulu, was from Kenya, and I got to brush up on my Swahili with her.

Finally, the highlight of the day came when I confiscated this note that was circulating in one of my classes:


Ha! The kids freaked out when I took the note. I'm pretty sure they were relieved when I started laughing. I thought it was hilarious!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thank You, Jesus.


Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal's death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

-Philippians 2:6-11

Thank You, Jesus!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Laying Down Some Tracks

A few weeks ago, my buddy Tim heard me working on some music and encouraged me to record some of the songs I've been writing. To be honest, I've always felt like that would be something that I would enjoy doing, but I never had the motivation or confidence to actually record anything. Well, luckily Tim is a technical/sound guru, and he was able to set up a bit of a makeshift recording studio at my house. Check it out...

Tim's "studio" (aka my dining room table). With a mixer and some recording software, the sound was actually pretty good!

Jammin'...

The nice thing about recording in my own home was that I could wear my pajamas to the studio!

In all honesty, through this process I've learned that I'm definitely NOT a professional musician, but I still really do love music. I think I'm more cut out for leading worship, which is why I started playing guitar in the first place several years back. Anyway, it's been a fun little experiment. Maybe one of these days (or months...or years), I'll post the audio tracks of a song or two.