Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I read the following story, "Years ago, I attended a rally against sweatshops overseas. The organizers had not invited the typical rally speakers--lawyers, activists, academics. Instead, they brought the kids themselves from the sweatshops to speak. I listened as a child from Indonesia stood to share and pointed to the giant scar on his face. 'I got this scar when my master lashed me for not working hard enough. When it began to bleed, he did not want me to stop working or to ruin the cloth in front of me, so he took a lighter and burned it shut. I got this making stuff for you.'"

If you know me, over the years i have bought more Jordan clothing than probably anybody you know in America (even though i have stopped, i actually cannot remember the last item i bought). I have created a safe distance from the reality of these issues, because i fail to see the person connected to the issue. If we don't let oursleves meet the people who suffer, we are able not to care. If we keep them at a distance, it is not our problem. I have truly been wrestling with so many issues of why i don't care.

Than Shane C made this statement in his book, "Fall in love with a group of people who are marginalized and suffering, and than you won't have to worry about which cause you need to protest. Then the issues will choose you." He is so correct, if we are not in relationship with those people who need us to stand up for them and support them, we will never do it. Or if we do, it is not out of love for those people. It may just be out of anger toward our government or just to be cool and against something.

I want to decrease the distance in my life to people who need to be cared for and loved, to people who need an advocate, to people who Jesus said to love. Maybe i will not protest Nike sweatshops, but i do want to care more about issues that i think really sadden God. I have some ideas, but i have so many selfish reasons to say... lets just put that on hold. Well, thanks for listening. Peace.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A Great Weekend

Kade, Evan and myself got to spend the weekend at Pinecrest Christian Camp as I was the speaker for the weekend. It was a group of Grace Brethern Churches from around the Southland. A few from Long Beach, South Pasadena, Rialto and Bellflower. We had a great time. A big thanks goes out to Tim Logan and Daivd Wilson for being nannies for the weekend. Friday night that got initiated into the wonderful world of poopy diapers. Evan blew it up while i was speaking and they got some good birth control by changing their first diaper. Thanks again guys for loving my kids... they had so much fun with you guys. Kade keeps talking about the tree branch monster that David created and kade got to fight.

I go to speak on the parable of the Prodigal Son for the weekend. I knew that most of the kids were coming from a church background, so i focused on the Older Son in the Story. I focused on challenging myself, the students and thier leaders to move beyond an apathetic life of faith. What does it take for the Older Son who had mentally departed from God, but had physically been present for years attempting to do the right thing for his father to actually return? Return to responding to God the way Zacheaus responded... who gave half of his money to the poor and made things right with those he cheated and God said Salvation had come to this man. And not respond as the rich young ruler who would not respond positively to Jesus' call to "follow me", but walked away sad and Jesus did not chase after him, but let him walk away.

Jesus is looking for us all to take him seriously... pray for me as i am really being stretched by so many stories in the gospel to make some shifts in my life. I want to take Jesus seriously and live how he lived, but truthfully i am scared.


Friday, February 24, 2006

One of my Heroes

I was hanging out with a friend, Susie Kook yesterday. She serves with World Impact in Watts and she reminded me of the cost of loving people in the city. She had her apartment broken into last week and they stole her computer and some other valuable stuff. She than came home Tuesday night, early Wednesday morning after being a part of a 24/7 prayer meeting only to be distrubed by gun shots, screaming kids and one of her kids being shot. Thank God it was only in his foot, but he described the feeling of the bullets flying by him on every side.

Susie, lack of sleep and probably already exhausted heads to the emergency room to be with the family (a crying hesterical mom and a pissed off dad). As is evident, the cost is physical, emotional and spiritual as we choose to love kids in some very dangerous communities.

I just wanted to have some of the J-Lou readers to say a prayer for Susie and her kids that she loves in the name of Jesus. Thanks Susie for all that you do!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Orioles Update

We have made it through two practices and I am very grateful for the number of dads and moms that are at the field for each practice. One of the dad's made a comment that we have probably the most parent involvement of any of the teams that were practicing last night. It makes it so great for the kids. We can break into 3 or 4 groups to work on different skills and kids get a lot of individual attention, which is very important for 5 year olds that have never played before. 1st game looks like it will be March 11. So kade cheering section be ready, becuase i will post game times. Peace.

Lost in Translation

I truly love the imagery and language of the Kingdom of God that Jesus speaks about quite frequently throughout the gospels. The imagery worked great for the people who Jesus was speaking to and for myslef who understand the biblical context, but I was sitting in my living room a few weeks ago with some friends and we discussed quickly. What language would Jesus have used today to describe the Kingdom of God? We through a couple of ideas out and laughed, but than went back to the parable of the seeds we were discussing.

But I was excited (it does not take much) to see this article called Lost in Translation thinking about this very issue. It is a little long, but i think if you are interested in helping translate the good news of Christ to the people you drive by, sit by, live by, run by, work by or anyone you happen to be by. I think you will enjoy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Irresistible Revolution

I just wanted to give my friend Shane Claiborne from Philly some love on J-Lou's Confusion. A great read with a lot of his stories from Philly, Chicago, India and more.

Here are a few quotes that have created discussion in my own mind:

Quote 1:
"I came to realize that preachers were telling me to lay my life at the foot of the cross and weren't giving me anything to pick up"

This was thought provoking as I speak at a camp this week and was wandering as i call students to commit thier lives to be followers of Christ. What do I want them to pick up? If I am asking them to give up something that the world is offering them. What am I offering in return?

Quote 2:
"So if someone asked me to introduce them to Jesus, I would say, 'Come and see.'"

This got me thinking about what someone would see if they followed me, would they be introduced to Jesus. I think they would be better introduced to a guy who spends way too much time reading, answering emails, watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and sitting in meetings with people who discuss how to help people transform our urban communities.

I know that i need to spend more time actually trying to transform communities and actually implement what i am reading. I read a lot about Jesus, but spend very little time doing what Jesus did and continues to do. Well some people (Irene) say that my blogs are tooooooo long, so i will end this and get back to preping to inspire kids and MYSELF to follow Jesus.


Wankstas & Wiggas: Dealing with the New Generation of White Hip Hop Culture

I had to connect you to Dan Hodge over at Fuller. I liked the article but i know everyone will like the title:

Wankstas & Wiggas: Dealing with the New Generation of White Hip Hop Culture


Counting the Cost... It is Worth Every Cent

I have repeatedly seen the break down of the cost of raising a child, but this is the first time I have seen the rewards listed this way. It's nice.

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition. But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down.

It translates into:

* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite.

What do you get for your $160,140?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm

* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up.

You get to:
* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:
* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect spray painted noodle wreaths for Christmas, hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with
backward letters for Father's Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck.
You get to be a hero just for:

* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
*coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren.

You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there .... You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed,patch abroken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them withoutlimits.

So . . one day they will like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal for the price!

Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Every Day in America

I am preparing for a youth camp that I will be speaking at and I was reminded of the desperate measures that young people take to deal with life. These are probably a few years old, but i think it does remind us to reach out and continue to love and point kids to a new way of life.

Every day in America:

• 1,000 teenage girls become single mothers
• 1,016 teenage girls get abortions
• 4,219 teenagers contract a sexually transmitted disease
• 500 adolescents begin using drugs
• 1,000 adolescents begin drinking alcohol
• 135,000 kids bring a gun or other weapon to school
• 3,610 teens are assaulted, 80 are raped
• 2,200 teens drop out of high school
• 2,750 kids watch their parents separate or divorce
• 90 kids are taken from their parents’ custody and placed in foster care, a group home, or institutional care
• 7 kids (ages 10 – 19) are murdered
• 7 juveniles age 17 and under are arrested for murder
• 6 teens commit suicide

Why does research say that “Children now fear the divorce of their parents more than the death of their parents. They grow up with less family security.”

• One out of every eight kids live with an alcoholic
• One out of every four kids live in a single parent home
• One out of every five kids live in poverty
• More than one in fifty kids live with no parent at all

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Don't You Luv Sick Kids

I thought I would let everyone in on the wonderful world of Fatherhood. Some of you may already know, so enjoy and Pablo just be prepared. Well last night after I finished my first T-Ball practice and got a line shot really close to the nuts. I put the boys to bed and at about midnight evan woke up screaming. I go into find him and all of his sheets and blankets covered in vomit. Niiiiiiice. I change his clothes throw him in bed with me and as he snuggles up close he begins to breathe "vomit" breath my way all night.

Than in the morning I get Kade to school, which is followed by a phone from school to pick him up because he is vomiting at school.

Thus, my blog is being done through blackberry while waiting to see if I am so priveliged to join the worship of the porcelan throne.

I am suppose to speak all day on Saturday for UYWI's RELOAD in orange county. So hopefully I will survive.

We'll. Now back to deliberating the after life.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I have been thinking a lot

I have been in some heavy thought recently on a number of issues. I am reading a very interesting book that is discussing how the mainstream definition and doctrine of hell has been developed. It has asked a few very interesting questions and has me really wanting to dive deep into the hell question.

Why is the Old Testament silent on the issue of hell? It only mentions a place of the dead, but that was for both good and bad people.

When Jesus spoke about hell. What was his thoughts about it? Cause He certainly used it to make a point to the people he was speaking to and if these people grew up with Old Testament teaching, where "hell" is never mentioned. Who taught them about hell, becuase they sure did have an understanding of what Jesus was talking about?

Why does it seem like God at the end of time under the version of hell i grew up learning about seems more like he would be brought up on war crimes and feels more like Hitler than Jesus? (maybe a little blunt, but from the outside looking in it seems this way)

I was also intrigued by the following quote:

"The Pharisees used hell to threaten sinners and other undesirables and mark them as the exculded out-group, hated by God. Their rhetorical use of hell made clear that God's righteousness was severe and merciless toward the undeserving. Jesus turned their rhetoric upside down and inside out and used hell to threaten those who excluded sinners and other undesirables, showing that God's kingdom welcomes the undeserving, that for God, there was no out-group... a lot of christians today use hell to threaten all non-Christians and put them in the excluded out-group, and you can decide which pattern that conforms to most."

You may ask why has this been consuming my thoughts. I would have to say becuase I think it has a lot to do with how we talk about the Good News. The Gospel has been focused on getting buts in heaven and the purpose of God's forgiveness is to get buts in heaven. We always ask people, "When did you came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." I never asked myself why Jesus never asked that question.

I think our doctrine of hell is very tied with our doctrine of salvation, which is crucial to helping a world be reconciled to God through Christ.

I will probably be hung for this or maybe not, but I am on a journey to ask questions and look for answers, but not quick easy ones. I have read a lot up to know and have been very intrigued by the similarities to our doctrine of the after life and those from the era of Mesopotamian, Egyptian thought and Zoroastrians.

I learn, think and process in community better than alone, so if you are interested in this topic. I would love to read and dialogue with you and think about how this affects us saving our world and being a blessing to them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Orioles!

Kade had the orientation for his innagural season of T-Ball. They had all of the teams posted outside of the auditorium and we found out that he is on the Orioles! After some initial orientation, we were sent outside again to meet our coach. When the parents of the Orioles gathered togehter, we were informed that we had no manager. They asked for volunteers, after a bit of silence, I said why not. I coached soccer with no knowledge of the game or like, but i love baseball and even played for a good decade. So not only is kade on the Orioles, I am the official Manager of the Alhambra Orioles. I will keep you posted in this exciting adventure of trying to teach 5 and 6 year old how to run to first base and not third and actually catch a ball. It should be quite an adventure, but it has been a dream of mine forever to be kade and evan's coach.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Bono's best sermon yet: Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast

Here is a link to Bono from U2's speech at the national prayer breakfast. If you get a chance to read the article, i would love here your comments on it.


I Don't Know

Over the last year, I have been on a journey that is best expressed by the statement, “I Don’t Know.” At the beginning of 2005, I was part of a group of people that was attempting to launch a ministry called, “The Gathering”. We wanted to create a faith community that would have the ability to dialogue about faith, ask questions and create a community that had the ability to change the perspective about Jesus to people outside the “Church”. The word “Church” being defined as the institution that is best known for meeting on Sunday mornings in a building and carries a number of stereotypes by the general public who are outside its walls. We received some opposition as we were asking questions about certain Christian traditions and theological beliefs, to determine what values the Gathering would allow to define itself.

As I look back at this endeavor, I was trying to defend “the Gathering” and its need to reach out to a generation that has found the Church to be irrelevant and to some disgusting. But I think the expression, “I Don’t Know” is a better idea of what was going on in my mind than any thing else. But I was a paid staff member of a Southern Baptist Church, what struggles theologically am I able to state and not be seen as a heretic or a liberal. I was afraid of loosing my career. I was part of a leadership team that was truly open to dialogue on issues, so it was my inner struggle that kept me from laying out all of my questions not the community as a whole.

I was returning from a great trip of serving alongside 30 students for a week in the inner city of Philadelphia. We studied and experienced Christ for a week and tried to understand the radical version of leadership that he modeled in the gospel. I was reading, “Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McClaren, which if you have read Brian, you know he asks a lot of questions and does not give a lot of answers. I had so many things that I wanted to process, but as this weeklong experience ended. I new life-long experience began, on April 9th or 10th, my wife of almost 9 years and a relationship that counts back to November of 1996 informed me that she no longer loved me and wanted a divorce.

“I Don’t Know” is the only phrase that can express my personal emotions at this time. My parents have been married for over 40 years. I am a pastor and I help lead a faith based organization that is helping urban leaders around the country. My wife wanted a divorce. I had no logical reasoning for this in my life. If my current theological struggles would end my life. This would definitely end my life. We have two kids. I have worked for the last 10 years with young people from divorced families and never thought my children would have to deal with this experience. “I Don’t Know” was my thought. I beat myself up for a number of months on the inside. I tried to change my wife’s mind, but this seemed hopeless. She filed for a divorce, and becasue of other circumstances that I will leave out of this, I finally realized that their was no longer any hope to turn the ship. “I Don’t Know” was the continual thought of the long term affects on my life, my children and the other people who I love. I was so uneasy with “I Don’t Know” as my realty. As a pastor and a spiritual leader in the lives of many people, I directed them to stay close to the person of Christ and their community of faith to help them overcome the obstacles that life can force us to face.

But let me jump back to my faith questions, my wife was the person I felt comfortable discussing these issues with. I felt safe. I felt that she was the only person that could allow me to struggle with these questions and doubts and not feel like she had to give me an answer. Anytime I expressed any question or doubt about my conservative view of faith, she did not attempt to give me answers to the questions but allowed me to wonder for awhile in the question. It is now a new year, I will never forget 2005. It has changed my life forever.

I am now back to my theological questions. I am back to struggling to understand what the Bible says on certain issues. I want to question things and I do not want safe answers that allow me to go back in a cave. I have reconnected with life long friends. Jose, Johnny, Dio, Chris, Larry, Hector, Juan, and others who are truly life long friends. They love me unconditionally. When I was in the middle of this personal crisis, I received phone call after phone call. The word had got out in La Habra (my old neighborhood) what had taken place. People who are not Christian (according to the definition I grew up with), reminded me that we are all family and they are their for me and if I need anything, they are only a phone call away.

As we began to catch up on life, they did not give me any answers to my theological questions, but carved more questions. We do not talk about faith much, but every once in awhile we will engage in some spiritual conversations. These conversations at first frustrated me, because they do not think about faith in a “conservative theological” way. They have never taken classes from Dr. Saucy or Walt Russell at Talbot Theological Seminary. They have no systematic theological stance. They have no idea if they are liberal or conservative. But I know they love me and I love them.

Over the last two months, I have begun to read again. The statement, “I Don’t Know” is where I land again. But now that includes my personal life… do I begin to date, do I stay single for life, will my boys survive this experience, how do I interact with my ex- and many more personal questions that I could list but you may not care about. But like back in April, “I Don’t Know” is what I believe about many theological positions, but I am ready to move forward to wrestle with these questions. The good thing that I do know is that God loves me and Jesus is the full expression of this love and I will allow these questions to be answered in this reality. I just finished a chapter called, “I Don’t Know” in The Last Word and The Word After That by Brian McClaren. The chapter challenged me on some issues and to possibly be ok with, “I Don’t Know” as the conclusion. It was a freeing thought, especially like I stated in my first BLOG that kade and evan are not very interested in these questions and I think my wife (or whatever i am suppose to call her) is not too interested in hearing these questions either. If this ends up on my BLOG, I am not sure if I will post it or not. It is to allow my community that I love that includes people from the Gathering, UYWI and La Habra do better understand me. My goal is love God and love people and part of my journey is to come up with a clear reason why … nothing else matters outside of that statement. I may come across that if you don’t believe what I believe that you are less than me… that goes directly against my struggle, but I know that is probably how I sound sometimes. I will try better at not sounding like that, if you can help by listening to my questions and not giving me the answers but pushing me forward in the journey. It would be much appreciated.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Down with the Institution!

"Western Christianity is largely belief based and church focused. It is concerned with landing on the right theology and doctrine and making sure everyone else toes the line. Jesus of the Gospels, in contrast, is relationship based and world focused. It is concerned not so much with what you believe as with who you are following. It is less invested in maintaining and growing an institution and more invested in Jesus' passion for saving the world." Leonard Sweet, Out of the Question... Into the Mystery

I read this and say, YES! This is what i believe my friends would love to hear, this what i believe high schoolers have the ability to connect with, this is what i want my children to be raised believing and i want to make sure that i put my focus into knowing and understanding Christ and his passion to save the world. I am not interested in knowing certain theological issues that we are not even sure of, but i know confuse the crapp out of everybody.

I want to live in God's realm and not man's realm. Too much pain in this realm... lots of love, acceptance and commpassion in his realm. I have no idea if i make any sense to anyone else, but i love that quote and i love the idea. I want to remind myself everyday that Jesus said, "Follow Me." Not a theological position about him and who he chooses or does not choose ... just Him.