My brother at the Ball

While Amber and I watched the Inauguration from our living room couch (thank you for flexible jobs), at least a few friends were in DC for the big event. Not the least of which was my brother. He texted me a few images from the Mall, but none of them top the shots he got at the Western Inaugural Ball that he attended later that night. How he ever gets in on this kind of stuff is beyond me, but I'm happy for him (did I mention that he randomly bumped into Yao Ming in the LA airport about a year before he was a household name?...and that he was interviewed not once, but twice by Katie Couric on the Today show?...among other chance encounters around the globe).






On another note, I heard that there was not a single arrest in DC yesterday. Two million people coming into town, a peaceful transition of power. Amazing.

Rev. Lowery

Okay, this guy is like my new favorite preacher. Granted, that assessment is based on very little other than the benediction that he delivered at Pres Obama's inauguration yesterday. If you watched it, you know what I'm referring to. This guy worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and has seen MLK's dream realized in Obama's presidency (commentary on lingering racism in 21st America for another discussion). As Rev. Lowery neared the end of his benediction, he closed with these words:


With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around...

(LAUGHTER)

... when yellow will be mellow...

(LAUGHTER)

LOWERY: ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.


Absolutely amazing. It was a priceless moment and I just couldn't pass up the chance to share it with you if you missed it.

Retreat


We are having a staff leadership retreat this weekend and we would all appreciate your prayers that the evil one would not divide us, but that the love and grace of Christ would unite us. After this weekend, the new semester gets rolling...Let the games begin.

Dear Tony

For probably four years now, Tony Campolo has been a source of great inspiration to me as I follow Christ. This passionate, prophetic and candid Jesus-loving Italian from Philly often challenges my ways of thinking and my proclivity for passivity and comfort. If you are not familiar with Tony Campolo, I would suggest you check him out. He'll probably kick you in the butt.

Tony is not without his share of controversy, but that does not prohibit me from listening to him, learning from his experiences and wisdom and seeing the love of Christ in him (and I like controversial people...Jesus anyone?). I was first introduced to Mr. Campolo by my pastor, Wayne, and began by just listening to old sermons on his website. Then I began reading some of his writings, such as 20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch, Red Letter Christians and The God of Intimacy and Action. Lately, I've really enjoyed his podcast series that he does with Gene Dillard. You can subscribe here.

Recently, I've been in a place of more intentionally seeking God's wisdom and vision for Amber's and my future. That has involved talking with others who have more life experience and a heart for Christ and his kingdom. So, one day I got to thinking: "Why not just write a letter to Tony and see what happens? Afterall, they said on the podcast to write him!"

So, I sat down and wrote him a letter. Honestly, I didn't fully expect to hear back from him. I mean, this is a guy who has a lot on his plate. But after about four weeks, I got a letter in the mail from St. Davids, PA, and there is only one person I know from St. Davids. Tony shared some honest thoughts about campus ministry, graduate school and even responded to a random question I asked about his marriage.

Thanks, Tony. You're a swell guy. Christ shines through you. Keep on keepin' on for the kingdom!

Back in Los Estados Unidos

We're back in Champaign after a fantastic week in Choluteca. We witnessed and learned so much...a lot to process as we face reverse culture shock this week.

Here is a collection of photos taken on our point-and-shoot digital camera - nothing stellar, but still a good look at our week in Honduras.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded



For over a month, I had wanted to read Thomas Friedman's latest book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, but I was on a long waiting list at the library. But, the day before we left for our Christmas travels, my name came to the top of the queue and I was able to pick it up and read it over the past week and a half. I am glad I did.

I found Friedman's writing to be engaging and frankly hard to put down. The subject matter is very interesting and intensely relevant for us today as we look at our planet that is increasingly Hot (Global warming, or more accurately "Global weirding"), Flat (Friedman's book in 2005 about the flattening global economy was entitled The World is Flat), and Crowded (Global population is exponentially increasing, particularly in urban centers across the globe and expected to crest 9 billion by 2040).

Speaking of hot...Amber and I leave today for Choluteca, Honduras, where it is a balmy 90+ degrees. We will return on the 11th and I look forward to making a post about our mission trip as well as a follow up post to discuss some of the content of Hot, Flat, and Crowded. Please keep us in your prayers.

Two Thousand and Nine


Happy New Year, everyone.

2008 has come and gone and 2009 has peaked its head in the doorway to come and sit with us for a spell.

I am hopeful and optimistic about what God has in store for this year for Amber and I, for our families, our church, our friends and our planet. The easy thing to do would be to give in to fear and be a pessimist about where "everything" is headed after an ugly season in '08 for the global economy, natural disasters, corrupt politicians, etc. But as I sit here at my desk, I would like to embrace hope and faith, while still living in sober tension over the tragic state throughout much of our planet - global food crisis, global climate crisis, terrorism, unemployment, disease, slavery, apathy, unconscious over-consumption, etc. I would like to join in with Christ, who taught us to pray, "Our Father, blessed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

So, as I sit here thinking about the 364 more days of 2009 that lie ahead, I'm remembering the words of the ancient prophet, Moses, who said, "Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Part of "numbering my days aright" is stopping to actively think about what kind of person I want to be. For some, that means one thing at this time of year: New Year's resolutions. I'm not writing any resolutions in stone, as it were, but I am stopping today to reflect on the "Rhythm of Life" that I would like to be engaged in this year.

As I was jotting down some thoughts, a song by Andrew Osenga played on iTunes. I thought it was acutely appropriate to what I've been thinking about today and for us all as we start the new year. The song is called "ball game" and you can listen to it here: http://www.andyosenga.com/mp3/theballgame.mp3.

I had to pause when I heard some of these lyrics:
"Show me what to hold and what is in the way"
"This is the one life, these are the passing days"
"I don't want to look back to see I've wasted"

I haven't decided yet if I will post the final "draft" of my Rhythm of Life. We're going to be leaving for Honduras early Saturday morning. Amber and I are getting excited!