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


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!


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."


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!


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.