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.
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.

  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.


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:


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.

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...

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.

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)


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!



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:


  • 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...
  • 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!

Commissioner, Dread Vote 2010