Thursday, December 2, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Good take on Proverbs 30

"Two things I ask of you, O LORD;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, 'Who is the LORD?'
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God."
-Proverbs 30:7-9

1. Keep falsehood and lies far from me
2. Give me neither poverty nor riches

What a dangerous prayer to pray!  'Give us this day our daily bread' is often prayed but it's prayed with the expectation that God will provide what we need plus more.  What Francis Chan is challenging us with is something you will almost NEVER hear in a typical Sunday sermon.

Give me only my daily bread.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CCDA Reflections & More

1. We need to move beyond one-way relationships.  We need to think creatively on how to move to two-way and ultimately three-way relationships.  It's all about empowerment.  One-way relationships foster dependency and strip away dignity.  Two and three way relationships are all about empowering individuals and restoring dignity.  A Three-Way Partnership

2. Books and resources that have shaped my thinking on God and ministry are great at teaching principles but not necessarily meant for setting the standard.  It was encouraging to hear other people struggle with the same kind of questions and come up with completely different answers.  I've unfortunately begun to think of certain christian community development principles as absolute practices that must be followed strictly.  However, what has worked for one family might not work the same for another family.  And as I came to realize last week.. it's ok.  I shouldn't be discouraged because our (Emily and I) path has looked different to this point.

3. Relationships are so much more important than any bit of knowledge that I expected to gain from the conference.  I missed half of the main sessions because I was engaged in some deep conversations with friends that I know I'll be in ministry partnership with for a long time.  I don't regret it at all.  I think a big reason why I love CCDA, is that it's for people to network with like-minded individuals.  It provides a safe place for these kind of life-giving relationships to be maintained.  I am continually encouraged and spurred on by many of my CCDA friends!

4. The landscape for urban ministries and the inner city is rapidly changing.  For the good and the bad.  NOW is the time to implement different practices to make sure the poor are also beneficiaries to the new norm of our American cities being gentrified and taken over with a new type of urban dweller.

5. It's ultimately about God and his gospel and not us.  God had the vision for CCDA long before it was founded.  He needs to continually get the glory and not us (Matthew 5:16).

6. We need to be about the best thing, Jesus.

7. On a personal note, I miss Chicago!

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Little Leaven

On August 13th we will be hosting a neighborhood block party at the Bragg St. Mini Park.  After brainstorming about ways to continue our outreach to our neighbors in South Park, we have decided to host a block party.  The vision is for this to be a South Park neighborhood block party.  Not to be exclusive (all are really invited!), but to highlight and demonstrate the capacity that South Park has when residents and community partners come together for good.

Little did we know that God has much bigger ideas than we could ever imagine for this event.   Through our network of relationships, BB&T has committed to coming alongside us at n2n and South Park by not only providing volunteers but funding as well!  Hopefully out of this will come not just manpower and funding, but a long lasting relationship between a national branch bank and those who reside in South Park. 

I’ve heard it said one time, that “everything depends on the vision”.  If we take that to be true, then our vision for this event is not just a onetime block party with food, fun and games.  Instead we envision this becoming an annual summer event (if not more) that will only get better as people of resource are bridged to the people of South Park.  Maybe out of this event, we will be able to connect our neighbors with personal finance classes and budgeting workshops.  With the need for affordable housing rising in a neighborhood that is primarily (90+%) renter occupied, maybe we will be able to offer home ownership as an option by making available low/moderate income housing loans.

The property across from n2n, 4 acres of an old city bus depot, is what I like to describe “the key to the neighborhood”.  I truly believe that whatever that becomes, the neighborhood will ultimately reflect.  Maybe out of this we will be able to link people who aren't business savvy with those that are, and with those who want to start a business with those that have already started them before?  In 10 years that property could be filled with businesses, shops, restaurants, etc. that provide goods and services to South Park.  The adjacent streets could be filled with families who now own instead of rent their homes. Instead of disinvestment in the neighborhood there will investment.  Instead of the dollar constantly leaving the neighborhood it will circulate hands multiple times and create an economic machine within South Park.

Does a massive exodus of the residents of South Park need to happen in order for this vision to be fulfilled?  Not at all!  The capacity to do all of this is already here.  The bridge that is being built to those of resource is all that’s needed.

Is this too lofty or ambitious of a vision?  When looking with kingdom eyes, I believe it is not.  It is simply a movement of God’s people and the kingdom of God at work, on earth as it is in heaven.

So we pray that August 13th will be the spark that will start a really big fire.  I mean it only takes a little leaven to make the whole loaf rise, right?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Colorado 14ers

Mt. Huron - Elev. 14,003 ft.

Mt. Oxford - Elev. 14,153 ft.

View from Mt. Belford - Elev. 14,197 ft.  (Mt. Oxford in the distance)
Mt. Massive Golf Course - Highest in America

Monday, July 12, 2010

Conflicting Value Systems

I saw a link to a poll asking if people (presumably Americans) agreed with the new immigration law in Arizona.  95% of the people sadly said they agreed with it.

This is a clear example structural sin that must not be ignored by the faith community.  Structural sin that needs changes to come from the top.

When I say conflicting values systems I'm talking about Kingdom values vs. American values.  Kingdom values recognize that we shouldn't oppress and do wrong to the immigrant among us but instead we should have compassion and love them as ourselves:

"And if a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord, your God." -Leviticus 19:33-34

American values on the other hand see the immigrant among us as a threat and that they are a "problem".

There might actually be a third and arguably more dangerous value system that is a cross between American and Kingdom values.  Comprised of the fusion between both so that there isn't much distinction.  The kind of value system that will take a stand on something and fight with fervor that it is the will of God or the most God-like.  Most notably, taking a side on a critical issue and deeming it the Christian thing to do and demonizing the other side.

I read this open letter by faith leaders to President Obama and I hope he actually reads these kind of things.  While I enjoyed all of it, I especially liked the phrasing from the Hindu scripture that said, "The guest us a representative of God."  Goes in line with the Christian Bible that whatever we to the "least of these" we do unto Jesus (Matthew 25:40).

With all that said, the issue on immigration is critical, people of faith need to take a stand and recoginize this as a structual sin, we need to work towards change, raise awareness, not stand idle and pray that changes can happen from the top.

Here is the open letter to President Obama by America's faith community leaders: Dear President Obama

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We're Just Selling the Wrong Thing

The following is a write up from when David Spickard, CEO Jobs for Life, came and visited one of our S.O.A.R. Jobs for Life classes.  I remember this particular class very well as it was one of my favorites so far:

We're Just Selling the Wrong Thing 
June 09, 2010 
David Spickard, CEO Jobs for Life
Recently, I visited a Jobs for Life class and listened to the conversation as the students and champions discussed the Parable of the Talents.  In the story, Jesus describes a man who entrusts his servants with talents.  To one, he gives five, another three, and another one.  The story goes on to describe how each servant used the talents he was given.

As the students discussed the story, they began to uncover the talents they've been given and the way they have used those talents.  This particular class is part of a city effort to reduce gang violence and the students are young men mostly 18-25 years old with prison records and a history of gang involvement. 

The discussion became more and more animated until one student raised his hand.  When he began to speak, you could hear a pin drop.

He said, "You know God has given us so many talents.  I bet you everyone in this room knows how to be a great salesperson.  We target our market, know our product, we're great communicators, and we work extremely hard.  After all, we stand out on the street corner selling all day...We're just selling the wrong thing."

The silence was then interrupted by laughter, everyone realizing his point and wondering what it meant for them.

Sitting there listening, I was struck by the laughter.  Why is that funny?  How could standing on the street corner selling drugs all day be something to laugh at?  I then realized what is painfully true...Selling drugs for this group is as ordinary and normal as it is for me to get up and go to work at Jobs for Life each day.  It's the industry of the community, their way to make a living, feel valued, and create a legacy.
The conversation continued.  One after the other began to build on the idea that God created them with unique gifts and talents and He meant for them to use them for good, not evil.  One talked about making a brighter future for his kids, another talked about wanting to be a positive influence in his community, still another talked about the dreams he had to own his own business.  

As they spoke, I thought to myself, "I wish every businessperson in this city could hear this conversation."  These men are gifted, they're talented, and they desire good, not evil.  They would be a tremendous asset to anyone who hired them.

Who knows what they'll be selling then?