Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Blog From Old Friends

In the photo above are two of my great friends, Steve and Liz Powell. I just found out from Steve that he and his wife started ablog, and I thought I would invite you to join in reading about their life and the life of their young son William. I really like the name of that boy!

Here's a little background about Steve and Liz. They have been my friends for a long time, and they both have served as President of our campus student organization here at WVU, h2o/wvu bible studies. They are also retired gunslingers. That's right, Steve and Liz were both all-american rifle competitors while students at WVU.

Steve and Liz, as you can tell from the photo above, are a fun loving couple. I have been encouraged by their friendship over the years, and I am thankful for the way they have cared for me. I had the privilege of being part of their wedding just a few years ago.

I hope you enjoy this brief introduction to these stellar folks.

Aside from being my friends, and their many accolades (they've both represented the United States in international rifle competitions), they are simply wonderful people. They are humble, and passionate about living for Jesus.

In fact, they probably don't see their accolades as any big deal. It's because they know that the biggest deal of any of our lives is our growing relationship of trust with the Lord of all creation.

No matter what our walk of life or our career exploits, we all are brought to a common place before the cross of the Savior. No matter where you are right now, it is my prayer that you might spend some time contemplating that cross. In light of that cross, pursue excellence in all you do, and strive to be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Faith and Vocation

Me and Coach Stu, originally uploaded by chanchanchepon.
Yesterday after watching a tough loss to Pitt at the coliseum, Jamie and I had a pretty cool experience. She spotted WVU football coach Bill Stewart in the middle of the student section, and we decided to make our way over just to congratulate him on a great season and to thank him for the example of faith that he has set for his players, and for many in the state.

First, I'd like to take a moment and just give you an opportunity to think about this. He's the head coach of the football team. As a result of his position, he would never need to stand in the student section at a WVU game. He could probably sit in a private box or court side, but he chose to be with students.

Coach Stewart has the best record for a first year coach in the history of WVU. He has a 2-0 bowl record, and although some might disagree, he is leading WVU's football team quite well.

You see, from what I can tell, and what I've heard, he really cares about the players. They aren't there just to play football, although he drives them pretty hard in practice. They are at WVU to learn how to be men. He has been a great example in disciplining his players and helping them to grow during their time in Morgantown.

He is an example of what many people of faith forget. We don't leave our faith when we enter our job. We don't leave our faith when we participate in sports. We don't leave our faith when we spend time with friends or family. Our faith is meant to saturate every aspect of our lives. This is why we call it the "life" of faith, and not the "one hour on sunday morning" of faith.

Think about it today. Regardless of your vocation, you are called to represent Jesus Christ to the world if you are a Christian. It's no wonder people have a distorted image of the Christian faith because so few take this call seriously.

What would your place of employment look like if you took it as an opportunity to reflect Christ in that place? What would your job look like? What would your attitude be like as people approached you for help, or yelled at you because their life wasn't going well.

Take a few moments right now if you have put your faith in Christ, and ask this question, "In what way may God want me to change the way I go about life/work so I can better represent Jesus to the people around me?"

If you get an answer, try to make the change. Invite Christ into your work, and the rest of your life. Your life, your work, and your relationships will take on radical new meaning in light of this sacred privilege.

PS When I thanked coached stewart for the testimony to Christ that his life was for many, he told me he didn't plan to change that. I think it would be cool to take time periodically and pray for public figures like coach stew and send them some encouragement.

PPS Coach stew has a sweet first name!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A few thoughts relating to the Inauguration

So I received a link to this video yesterday--it's currently appearing on Black Entertainment Television in limited viewing areas. In my thoughts, regardless where you might stand on abortion, there's a lot to think about here. Of course, I'd like to think that there is typically a lot to think about on this blog.

Yesterday, most of America watched history in the making as we elected the first African-American President. His inauguration was probably the most attended event in the history with estimates at over 2 million people in attendance. I couldn't help but watch it myself yesterday. One of my friends actually received an invitation to the inauguration. As we watched on television one of my friends commented that it was pretty wild watching someone take an oath and become the most powerful person in the world.
But with great power comes great responsibility.

For me I was impressed with Dr. Rick Warren's prayer for our new president. I have included the video with the transcription below.

Almighty God, our Father:

Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone.

It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory.

History is your story.

The Scripture tells us, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one." And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama,

the wisdom to lead us with humility,
the courage to lead us with integrity,

the compassion to lead us with generosity.

Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.
Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans--united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you--forgive us.

When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone--forgive us.

When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve--forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet.

And may we never forget that one day, all nations--and all people--will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, 'Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus—who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,

for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.


May these few words videos and prayers spur your thoughts toward living as better citizens of the Kingdom of God and in so doing, spur you on toward being a better citizen in the place where you live.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Couldn't Resist

My friend Alise posted this link in a comment on my blog, but I was afraid many people would miss this video. I couldn't resist sharing this brief clip with you because it very eloquently articulates a challenge from Dr. King that echoes as true today as it did when he first spoke these words.

I don't know if i you knew this or not, but the original intent for the MLK holiday wasn't a holiday in the classic sense. Monday was meant to be a day of service, of helping out your fellow human beings. Jesus told us that the greatest among us would be the servant of all, and Dr. King's words continue to put forth that truth.

I know that in the future, I am going to look for opportunities to serve where many times in the past I looked for some extra time to relax. I mean, could you imagine it if we were to dedicate one day of our lives to service? What would this world look like.

Better yet, what if we didn't wait for a special day to be set aside to serve? What if we looked for opportunities to serve every day?

I know a lot of people who have aspirations of being great, but I know of very few who want to serve. I know of many who want to change the world, but they can't seem to overcome their own selfishness. I know of multitudes who give lip service to change, but then continue in their same self-absorbed lifestyles.

I hope as you read this you will consider not only a day of service, but a life of service as well. What would it look like for you to take your eyes off yourself and look to the needs of others? What would it look like if you weren't so caught up in your own desires that you could give of your time, your talents, and your resources to serve the needs of others?

I would like to think that your life would look significantly different. As much as I think my own life is one of service, I can't help but be challenged by Dr. King's words myself. I can't help but be challenged by the words of Jesus. I can't help but be challenged and shamed by the thought of how different my life might look if it were more truly a life of service.

May each of us take an introspective look at our lives, and then take action that we might all be GREAT!

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK 2009

Well today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Did you know that MLK didn't even see his 40th birthday? Every year on this day, I've attempted to blog about this great leader. Some may differ, but I believe he was one of the greatest orators of the 20th century. He had a way of telling simple truths.

This little clip is one of those simple truths. As you read this blog on your computer, or your pda, or your smart phone, or whatever piece of technology you are using, ask yourself a question. In what areas can you grow so that you can walk as brothers and sisters with your fellow human beings?

There is a great wealth we can learn from MLK and his message, but he's only sharing an even older message, the message of the gospel. When we embrace the gospel, we walk as those who are forgiven. When we walk as those who are forgiven, it is much easier for us to love others and forgive others. We love because He first loved us.

When we embraced forgiveness, we were also called to a different life. We stand helpless before a mighty God, a God who gives us hope for a better tomorrow, and empowerment to make that hope a reality through His Spirit.

As you read this blog on MLK day 2009, consider saying a prayer. Pray that God will not only make you an instrument of His love to your fellow human beings, but also pray that He will empower you to stand up for justice when those around you speak or act in a spirit of injustice. May you be empowered to be brave for the sake of the Gospel.

And remember these other words of MLK, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." May we be transformed to be like Jesus whose justice is perfect and beyond measure.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where's the Image?

Right now, I am charging a battery so I can pull photos off my camera. I have much to blog about, but I like to have an image with my blogs. I like taking photos, or posting cool videos for you to watch and hopefully be encouraged or inspired to run more passionately after our good King Jesus.

As I started writing this post, I wanted to encourage you to help out my friend's organization, Nuru International, by following this link and watching the video on the site. After you watch the video, there is a space below the video where you can leave a comment. Over 500,000 people have watched this video on the site, but very few have left comments. Nuru wants to encourage some highly visited websites to post the video, and to generate even more awareness about the issue of extreme poverty and what Nuru is doing to fight it. The more comments that appear, the more interest that will be drawn from some of these other websites. So you can help spread the word about nuru just by leaving a comment--will you do it?

Right after I started writing this post, I realized, I couldn't just stop with that request to help Nuru. There's something more about the title that stirs me, and I hope it will stir you too. "where's the image?" Did you know that we are made in the image of God? The one billion people who are living on less than $1/day are made in the image of God too. The person who cut you off in traffic the other day is also made in the image of God. Remember the person who really annoyed you you or gave you poor service at the restaurant? They are also made in the image of God. Oh yeah, and all of those people caught up on both sides of the conflict over gaza, those old men and women, and all of those little kids--did you know that they were made in the image of God?

I think we have to wonder about more than this blog post when we ask "where's the image?" it seems like far too many of us have forgotten that all of the people around us are made in the image of God, and so we treat others as less than humans. We refer to human problems as "not my problem" and we end up tarnishing that very image of God in which we ourselves have been made.

I remember reading a quote from Rob Bell that really syncs this all together.

When i respect the image of God in others, I protect the image of God in myself."

So as you go about your day today, I ask you to pause for a moment when you feel like ignoring the needs of others. When you feel like you've got too many problems of your own, take a moment and pause. Ask yourself, where's the image? Look for it. Remember that you and that everyone you meet share in bearing the image of the God of the universe.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Lombard Street

After a whirlwind of travel, I finally have a moment to write a little note. There's soooo much I would love to write about, but I'm going to write something a little shorter. Ironically this post is at the end of the week, and many people stay away from their computers during the weekend (this weekend I'm hoping to do something similar).

First off, I'm in Palo Alto, California right now and I am writing this blog from the Design School at Stanford University (which might be the subject of a future blog because it's a pretty amazing story in itself). In the last ten days I've been in quite a few places and I'll be in California for the next few.

On my way out here, I was invited to come meet up with a group of alumni and staff from the public policy programs of Carnegie Mellon University and Berkeley. Again, this is another crazy story and one that could be a blog entry of it's own . . . time will tell.

So me and some friends (by friends I mean folks who are heading to kenya to change the world) drove to san francisco in a PT Cruiser. And while we were there, we drove up and then down lombard street. I drove, so I couldn't really take pictures. It was also night, and we were the only car making its way down the curvy road.

And isn't that a lot like life. Sometimes it feels like you are alone going down a curvy road, or climbing up a long steep hill. Sometimes, it seems like you are all over the place and in disarray. Sometimes it feels like you are going somewhere, but there are so many curves you can almost lose sight of the final destination.

But, keep in mind, there is a destination. And the journey is part of the fun of getting there. We've just gotta not get lost in the curves but be mindful.

No matter where you are in life, on the hill top, in the curves, or on a steep journey upward. Remember you are not alone on the journey, and stop once in a while and savor the moments.

Just Courage

Over Thanksgiving break, I read a few books. One of them was Just Courage by Gary Haugen. Gary Haugen is a former Trial Attorney for the United States Department of Justice, and the founder of a nonprofit called International Justice Mission. If you haven’t heard much about the organization, I suggest you check them out. They are dedicated to things like ending slavery and human trafficking. Noble causes for sure and causes we should care about.

But enough about IJM for now. I recommend you check out the book. The big theme is the idea of living courageously. The big theme is that God has a great purpose for Christians. God is what this world needs, and He has called us to be His hands and feet. God’s big plan is to use us for the redemption of the world. We live in a world of safety and control, and perhaps God is calling us to take risks.

Here’s a thought/excerpt from the book based on a statement Mother Theresa once made. She said that she couldn’t go 30 minutes in her work without prayer. Check this thought out.

Do you and I have a work that we can imagine doing for thirty minutes without prayer?
If not, perhaps we need a new life’s work. Or perhaps we need to do an old life’s work in a new way.
I won’t need to be in prayer every thirty minutes in my work if I don’t really need God’s power to get it done, or if it’s work that God doesn’t really need done because it has nothing to do with his kingdom.

As I think about that quote, I realize there is a lot we do with very little prayer. One of my hopes for this year is that you and I would live so courageously that we would find ourselves in regular prayer that our Father would help us to walk in paths that are blessed, and that He would come through in ways that defy explanation in our lives.

May 2009 be a year of living courageously for you and I.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Crazy Times

The above photo was taken by Patrick Baz, and was featured in this New York Times article.

I saw someone's status on facebook and it said, "oh wow. israel is sending in ground troops." That little blurb caused me to do a google search on israel, and this article was the most recent piece of news that showed up.

Thousands of years have passed, and peace seems as far away as it probably seemed to Ishmael and Isaac or Jacob and Esau. It's easy to lose touch with the reality of what is happening in our world.

As I think about 2009, and blog for my first time this year, I am hopeful that this year will find us all a little more aware of the events transpiring around the world. In a time when it feels like we are becoming increasingly self absorbed I hope that we will do more than be onlookers in this world that desperately needs to see signs of the Messiah.

I don't know what to make of disputes like the one over Gaza between Israelis and Hamas. I know there are many who are suffering as a result of this age old dispute.

There are many suffering in our world today. One of my new year's resolutions is to do something about the suffering in the world. I know that my Messiah cares about this suffering, and He longs for His people to tkae action in a tangible way.

While I may not be able to solve the Israeli Palestinian conflict, I will be able to make a tangible difference in this world if I am mindful of this simple truth.

God has given me the ability to make a difference in this world. He has done the same for you.

Let's make 2009 the year of making our lives count for the sake of others and for the glory of the King.