Friday, July 29, 2005

A fond farewell

To our NYCUP interns Eric, Brooke, and Jeremiah, and the NYCUP staff who placed them at Generation Xcel: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You have been a joy and blessing to our kids, our staff, and our community. Thanks for your willingness to serve in a neighborhood and context that is so different from your own, and for conducting yourselves with grace and dignity throughout the summer. Your investment will surely reap fruit that remains.

Coming soon to a city near you

The Urban Youth Workers Institute RELOAD tour. Check it out, Sept. 2005 - March 2006.

Emerging latina voices in strategic places

I met a congressional staffer today -- not gonna say whom to protect her from church/state extremists -- with an Esther anointing. She's young, from the PJs, a graduate of college and grad school, and a PK who rebelled against a legalistic upbringing only to rediscover faith recently. She views her work as ministry and is eagerly engaging communities of faith in public/private partnerships. Pray for wisdom as she uses her developing influence to empower effective, grassroots ministry.

Rudy's schmoozing Colin Powell's wife

Here. Just thought you'd like to know.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Pentecostal Clergy on the Absence of Black Fathers

Kudos to Rev. Eugene Rivers for making noise about a critical issue within low-income (not just black) neighborhoods.
"Father absence is the bane of the black community, predisposing its children (boys especially, but increasingly girls as well) to school failure, criminal behavior and economic hardship -- and to an intergenerational repetition of the grim cycle. The culprit, the ministers (led by Boston's Rev. Eugene Rivers III, president of the Seymour Institute) agreed, is the decline of marriage. ... [B]lack men aren't born incarcerated, crime-prone dropouts. What principally renders them vulnerable to such a plight is the absence of fathers and their stabilizing influence." Full article by William Rasperry.
Gene Rivers in executive director of the Ella J. Baker House in Dorchester. One case study describes him this way:

A self-described "New Leftist" who converted a former crack house in one of Boston's poorest communities into the headquarters of his now-celebrated activist ministry, Rivers is among the founders of the Ten-Point Coalition, a group of churches that came together in 1992 to combat the gang violence that was claiming the lives of a growing number of the city's black and Latino youths. Less than a decade later, Boston's homicide rate has plummeted 80 percent, turning Rivers's faith-centered, street-level ministering into the stuff of legend. "Savior of the Streets," proclaimed a 1998 Newsweek cover story on "God vs. Gangs" that hailed Rivers's Christian style of social outreach as "the hottest idea in crime fighting." The Ten-Point Coalition has been the subject of a PBS documentary, a glowing Joe Klein article in The New Yorker, and stories in publications ranging from The Weekly Standard to Time.

I visited Rev. Rivers at the Baker House in 1998. My impression at the time: a great man and impassioned advocate with a big heart, sharp mind, and quick wit. A hero to many. Apparently, he's still the same.

I could probably pass, but not without prep

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, KS, USA. Scary stuff for most college grads today, never mind 8th graders. I didn't even know what "orthography" is without online help. Is that cheating?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Show me some love (all in the family)

The Del Rio's were out in force at the b-ball tournament (see below). Don Felipe (Abuelo) flew in from Puerto Rico. Uncle Jonathan (my brother) and Judah Uncle Jamie (my brother) and Seth Uncle Miky (Dad's brother) Cousin David (Dad's nephew) Cousin Willie (my nephew)

Got Game? Pictures

From Xcel's 10th annual 3-on-3 Hoops Tournament, 7/23/05. Slideshow here.
Got hops? Got mercy? Got trophies? Got excuses? Got prizes? Got rhymes? Got rhythm? Got music? Got beef? Got permission? Got food? Got hope? Got free? Got reflective? Got filmed?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Another reason why too many refuse to take hip hop seriously

Two hip-hop magazine executives were charged with attempted murder yesterday after a booze-fueled argument over rap music erupted in gunfire that left three men wounded at a Manhattan bar, cops said. ... "It was over whether they were going to play a rap CD or not," an investigator said.
Come on, guys. Gunplay, generally, is stupid. Over something so petty, it robs every socially conscious thing you say of all credibility. Competence without character corrupts and confuses.

Scholarships available for Willow Creek Leadership Summit

Attention all Greater New York student leaders, youth workers, and lay youth leaders: Apply today for a scholarship to attend the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, August 11-13, 2005. Details here.

Friday, July 22, 2005

"30 Emerging Voices"

The August 2005 issue of Charisma magazine asks:

"Who will lead the church in the next decade? These young Christian leaders, all 40 or younger, represent THE FUTURE OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH.... They represent a new breed. Burned out on denominationalism, they avoid labels and aren't comfortable with old church methods. Turned off by religious hype, they crave authenticity.... Today's emerging leaders aren't afraid to push new buttons, sail into unchartered waters or blur the line between secular and sacred.... They are the first generation to use blogging as an evangelism tool in cyberspace. Today's emerging leaders fully intend to reinvent church.... [W]e believe the church has never seen a more gifted group of men and women step forward to carry the torch into the future." (Italics mine.)

Exciting lead-in. Who are these people? I want to get to know them. My friend received his copy of the issue on Tuesday and called to tell me I was included as number 12 on the list. Huh? I didn't even know such a list was being compiled or that I had been nominated. Thinking his message must be a practical joke, I called another friend who subscribes. His issue hadn't arrived. On Wednesday a third friend corroborated the story, and yesterday I actually saw the magazine myself. I'm still not sure what it means to be an "emerging leader" (see previous posts on the subject here and here), but it is an honor to be placed in the company of those wo were included on Charisma's list. I have no idea how or why they chose me, but frankly, the encouragement came at just the right time. The summer is always excrutiating, but this year my family has also endured some unexpected personal challenges which makes the timing all the more special. Thank you, Charisma, for validating those of us who are desperate to perceive the "new thing" God is doing in this hour.
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19)

A Place of Hope

Download audio from the keynote I gave at the Urban Youth Workers Institute.

We still have a dream

Noel Castellanos of Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) launched a blog forum to organize Christian leaders and lay people around immigration reform initiatives, like the DREAM ACT.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reverberations across the pond

NEW YORK - Police will begin conducting random searches of packages and backpacks carried by people entering city subways, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday after a new series of bomb attacks in London.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Just Shut Up

The conceit that is Terrell Owens reached new heights this week when he compared his contract dispute with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles (he's demanding to renegotiate a 7-year, $49 million contract after just 1 season) to Jesus.

"At the end of the day, I don't have to worry about what people think of me, whether they hate me or not. People hated on Jesus. They threw stones at him and tried to kill him, so how can I complain or worry about what people think?"
Phil Sheridan of the Philadelphia Inquirer brilliantly lampoons Owen's arrogrance.

At first it seems absurd. But mull it over for a little while, reflect on the story of Jesus a bit, and there is more common ground than you think.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Owens' Eagles career began at training camp in Bethlehem, Pa.

Jesus fed the multitudes with loaves and fishes. Owens wants more bread and thinks there was something fishy about his original deal.

Jesus walked on water. Owens reminds people of Ricky Watters.

Jesus rose from the dead after just three days. Owens came back from a broken ankle in just five weeks to play in the Super Bowl.

Jesus made wine from water. Owens made whine from a $49 million contract.

So you see, they are more alike than it first appears. And it makes perfect sense for Owens to compare reaction to his holdout to the persecution of Jesus.

"If you've seen me, you've seen my father"

The father of one of the hijackers who commandeered the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, praised the recent terror attacks in London and said many more would follow.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Got Game?

Jam @ Xcel's tenth annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Saturday, 7/23/05. Featuring music by DJ Kenny Mitchell and T.R.A. Details here.

"Let's get ready to rumble!"

Question: What is, "Let's get ready to rumble!"? Answer: ___ (a) Trademarked catchphrase of famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer ___ (b) Cliche bravado at high school sporting events ___ (c) Echo reverberating throughout the hallways of the Senate Judiciary Committee tonight _X _ (d) All of the above, because:

President Bush on Tuesday selected U.S. Circuit Judge John Roberts Jr. as his nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court.

Pro-abortion groups like NARAL have already launched what they are calling, "The Battle for the Supreme Court," designed, they say, to "save the Supreme Court from President Bush." Such rhetoric resonates decisively with that of Judicial Committee members such as NY's own Senator Charles Schumer, who just last week declared "war" on any nominees that have a conservative pedigree. I know far too little about Judge Roberts at this point to have an opinion on his nomination. A vigorously debated confirmation hearing in the Senate will help people like me fashion an informed judgment in due course. But ideological pandering and partisan "warfare" will serve no one well.

Worship well

"How do you redeem a culture whose worship is all messed up? Worship well before them, and tell the truth about God in your worship. ... "The evangelical American church at worship is often a mess... either as passionless as a CSPAN lecture or as loopy as a Richard Simmons video. And yet the Scriptures call us to worship God with all our hearts... and with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire." - Matt Kruse

Why we believe in youth leadership

Youth leadership reflects the kingdom of God -- where "the first are made last and the last first" -- as expressed in scripture. Here are two examples, one from the Old Testament and one from the New.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. (Isaiah 11:6, NIV)

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3, NIV)

What's French for, "Chickens coming home to roost"?

"[Jacques] Chirac and France are parting ways. "And how. 'There is an absolute divorce between him and French society,' says Dominique Moisi of the French Institute of International Relations. And not exactly an amicable one, either. 'If the uncoupling today is so violent,' L'Express declared in an unsparing analysis, 'it is because never, since 1962 and peace in Algeria, has a president of the Fifth Republic had so many national failures to confront, so many means at his disposal with which to avoid them and so many negatives on his balance sheet.'" - Newsweek, "L'Etat? C'est Moi ... Not," 7/25/05

Monday, July 18, 2005

I need a new laptop

Rudy and Bob (not to mention CoCo, Matt, and dozens of others) are working me over to get a Mac. It's not a hard sell, actually. My first meaningful computer experiences were all on Macs, circa. 1985, and I preferred using Macs all the way through law school. But $$$ realities (the lack thereof) have kept me bound to PCs for too long. My Dell Inspiron 2650 laptop, which was state-of-the-art 3.5 yrs ago, is a boat anchor now, slower than a toddler's sprint and with the memory efficiency of Aunt Fanny (you don't want to know). Anyone have a refurbished Mac (iBook or PowerBook) you want to donate, or better yet, $3K to contribute to my Buy-a-Mac-Now Fund? Truly, it will be the most utilized tax-deductible donation you could make to Xcel. I still use my Dell dinosaur everyday, for business applications, web design, multimedia production, and photo editing. I promise to make your investment well worth it.

Was it seven literal 24 hour days?

Literalists took a hit last week when Washington, DC's Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said that a belief in "theistic evolution" can be consistent with Christian teaching. Predictably, some are outraged. Why? If the Genesis creation accounts (Genesis 1 and 2 offer two different tellings of the creation story from two different perspectives) are literally true, then terrific. If they're not (why would God wait until day 4 to create the sun and moon if our conception of time was so critically important?), then terrific. In either scenario, believers can still embrace God as the author and finisher of life, the completion of the story. But the hostility of the either/or crowd is off-putting and does damage to our public testimony.

Newsflash: "George W. Bush is Not Lord"

So begins a recent editorial by Christianity Today. It continues:

"The Declaration of Independence is not an infallible guide to Christian faith and practice. Nor is the U.S. Constitution, nor the U.N. Universal Declaration on Human Rights. "Original intent" of America's founders is not the hermeneutical key that will guarantee national righteousness. The American flag is not the Cross. The Pledge of Allegiance is not the Creed. "God Bless America" is not the Doxology. "Sometimes one needs to state the obvious—especially at times when it's less and less obvious."
The article proceeds to name names with respect to some political conservatives (that happen to be Christian) who mask political rhetoric with spiritual jargon. I'm all for Christians (and non) engaging the political process and informing their policy positions with values and faith, but holy war reactionism is downright scary.

McLaren on PBS

"Religion & Ethics Weekly" aired two segments on the so-called Emerging Church movement in the last two weeks. Read the transcripts or download the videos here: Part 1 and Part 2. The second primarily profiles McLaren.

Documenting Dad

Felix Olivier, a French filmmaker, will be filming a documentary about my father for the next three weeks. My Uncle Michael introduced him to dad's 9/11 story a year or so ago, and the Charisma article from last April, "Not your Grandmother's Pastor," further piqued his interest:
"With his tattoos and earing, New York City preacher Rick Del Rio has redefined what it means to be Pentecostal."
This will be fun.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

My parents are stranded

... in Cancun, Mexico, thanks to Hurricane Emily. They were supposed to fly back tonight in time for JLYNY tomorrow. Pray for safety and minimal damage. UPDATE, 7/19/05: My parents arrived safely back in New York around 1 this morning, and were at work bright and early today in the middle of the outreach. Sunday night the hotel's front desk called around 1:30 am to say the eye of the storm was overhead and to go to the bathroom for safety. They thought about it for a minute and rolled over to go back to sleep. The front desk never called again to say when it was safe to leave the bathroom.

Jesus Loves You, New York

(That's me on the left, at a street outreach in the early 80s, along with mom and dad, Jamie and Jonathan)
This summer marks the 19th or 20th year of Abounding Grace's annual "Jesus Loves You, New York" outreach. (I don't recall if the first was in '85 or '86). Either way, I was a boy when we started, 10 or 11, and it was at these early outreaches that my love for people and ministry took hold. Beginning yesterday, about 60 people from around the country are sleeping at Abounding Grace by night and engaging the community, along with church members, by day. Go here for a schedule of activities, and if you're in New York this week, come and participate.

Abuelo's coming

(Abuelo, a la finca en Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Grandpa at the farm in Arecibo ...)

My grandfather is leaving the cows in Puerto Rico to someone else's care in order to visit New York this week.

(July 2002)

He wanted to come for JLYNY -- he's such a proud dad watching his son minister during the outreach -- plus he has two great-grandsons to catch up with. He hasn't met Seth yet and it's been about a year and a half since he last saw Judah.

In a class by himself

I've always marveled at Tiger Woods. He's younger than me, yet he won his tenth golf major this weekend at the British Open, in the same tournament big Jack Nicklaus said was his last. From the greatest to even greater in the same weekend: it's the perfect passing of the torch. Tiger's nothing if not timely. The dude knows how to seize opportunity. Btw, I love those new AmEx commercials from the perspective of Tiger's parents, watching him make his final putt on the eithteenth green, but seeing not the grown man we all see. Instead they flash back to the precocious three year old they nurtured into the greatest golfer the world has ever known.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

He is a champion!

Willie's little league team won the championship this week in a best of 3 series, winning the last two convincingly after losing a close game 1. As a result, their trip to New York was delayed a few days, but he and Amber drove down with Boom2, Judah, and Titi Diana on Thursday and they'll be staying with us for 10 days.

Friday, July 15, 2005


I visited Salem, Massachusetts -- site of the infamous witch trials of 1692 -- on Sunday for the first time. Walking the historic district for several hours, one thing became disturbingly clear. For all its talk about religious tolerance, seperation of church and state appears noticeably absent in the quaint coastal village. The entire town, at least its tourist area, is dedicated to promoting wicca, witchcraft, and paganism as attractive religious faiths. For example, a National Park Ranger (a federal employee; the entire district is managed by the federal park service) at the information center urged me to visit the Witch Museum if I wanted an authentic Salem experience. The museum defines withcraft as "a pantheistic religion that includes reverence for nature, belief in the rights of others and pride in one's own spirituality." It further makes the case that:

"Practitioners of witchcraft focus on the good and positive in life and in the spirit and entirely reject any connection with the devil. Their beliefs go back to ancient times, long before the advent of Christianity; therefore no ties exist between them and the Christian embodiment of evil. Witchcraft has been confused in the popular mind with pointy black hats, green faces and broomsticks. This is a misrepresentation that witches are anxious to dispel."
The museum embraces the cause through its "Witches: Evolving Perceptions" exhibit, which argues that "misperceptions" about witchcraft originated with European males of the middle ages who protected their power base by demonizing heroic Celtic midwives and mischaracterizing them as devious green women with warts on their noses and flying brooms. These images fueled the witchhunts of 17th century Salem, but now an enlightened Salem community embraces paganism and welcomes witches and warlocks to pursue harmony with nature and live as ordinary and respectable citizens. The exhibit concludes with examples of modern "witchhunts" such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, blacklisting suspected communists during McCarthyism, and blaming gays for AIDS. The not-so-subtle implication is that anyone who disagress with witchcraft as an acceptable religion is guilty of hatred and bigotry. Who's hunting whom?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I love the sound of that

"What relief? A-Rod's homer off Schilling rallies Yanks past Red Sox."
(but not this):
"The Yankees put RHP Chien-Ming Wang on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder and scratched him from Friday's scheduled start."

That makes four out of six Yankee starting pitchers now on the DL. Their replacements: a bag of bones. Tomorrow, some guy named Tim Redding, he of the 0-5 record and 9.10 ERA, starts against the Sox. Hooray!

UPDATE, 07/17/05: 3 out of 4 at Fenway ain't bad, especially when the aforementioned Tim Redding was so terrible (6 runs in 1 inning pitched) that he was cut the next day and replaced by Al Leiter, who shut the Sox down to 1 run in 6 1/3 tonight.

UPDATE, 07/18/05: Another Yankee win coupled with another Red Sox loss (against Tampa Bay) and the Bombers have officially recaptured first place.

Officially his last

<<Evangelist Billy Graham today announced that he has declined an invitation to hold an evangelistic crusade in London, a decision he deferred until after his just-concluded Greater New York Crusade—his eighth in the New York City metro area—attended by more than 242,000 people.>>
What an honor to have participated in the final crusade by history's finest crusade evangelist.

Dedicated to my bride

(June 21, 1997)

"Scripture ends in a marriage. This is the end to which all Things tend, the end which makes all Things new. Marriage unites, but In its fire, true love does not Consume. Selfishness burns. All That mars love ignites, makes ash. But faith, hope, love survive. Love Is the last, best word, the end Into which all will bend, and Then begin again. The next Word and the new will be love As well: for love never ends And in love all are made, yes, Friends."
-By Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That, p. 179.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Hasta la vista, friends

Our LA LA interns returned to Cali today. To Edgar, Michelle, Joe, Artia, April, Ignacio, Kristin, Gayleah, and Yolanda: you will be missed. Thank you for your graciousness, your willingness to be stretched, and, most of all, your compassion and kindness for our kids. Your family and friends should be proud of the dignity with which you presented yourselves, and the depth of love for God and people your lives revealed. In word and deed, you demonstrated Christ:

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." (Luke 18:16-17)

Until next year ... (We can hope!)

A Timely Word

I love road trips, especially when the drive is long enough to allow for great thinking/prayer/meditation, but not so long that my eyes start to glaze. Three or four hours is just about right. The ride to and from York, PA, is perfect: three hours without traffic. This afternoon during the return trip -- which took eight hours, not three, because I made pit stops to buy t-shirts at the Gap outlet in Lancaster, dine with Dale Evans for a country fried steak lunch, and finish reading McLaren's Last Word and the Word After that (more on the book later) at a local campsite -- I prayed intently for my family. At 7 pm, literally as I was praying for my wife, the local Christian radio station transitioned from music to talk and Ron Hutcraft's "A Word With You" came on the air. I don't normally listen to Christian talk radio -- too many shrill and condescending sermons, even for Christian hearers -- but Ron's message was especially timely. "Eye Transplants for Lovers," he called it:

"God could give you eyes to see your wife as you have never seen her before. There's a lot of power in being a praying husband! Most of all, when you spend time with God praying for the woman you love; you begin to see her with new eyes. You begin to see what God sees when He sees your wife. And that's the starting point for being the kind of sensitive, caring man that God made you to be. And that's the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs."

Read the full transcript here.

His Spirit Moves Them

CityTribe church, pastored by my friend Juan Galloway, was featured in Sunday's Star Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper.

"It was a winter night, cold. I was a drug addict, a dope fiend," said Sonny, a Vietnam veteran who was living under bridges and spent the years from 1976 to 1997 in prison. "I started coming to church; I got to know these people. I had nowhere to go, and they took me in, and with my background nobody would take me in, but they did."
Juan's parents are Richard and Dixie Galloway of New York City Relief. For more on them as parents and people, check out the article on their son. Their DNA carries well.

On modesty and sexual temptation

I realize that just going out the door at this time of year is visually challenging for most men, but I've never understood how they can plant themselves right in the middle of guaranteed nakedness. It may even be worse than conducting a Bible study at Hooters.
Thanks Bob for the tip.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Two cents worth


1. Dinner conversations between Simon the zealot and Matthew the tax collector. Zealots were 1st century, politically activist Jews who advocated the violent overthrow of Roman occupation and, on occassion, made political statements through the shedding of blood (think PLO or Islamic Jihad ... old-school terrorists), while tax collectors were Jewish appeasers of Rome. As long as they got theirs, they didn't mind breaking the backs of their kinsmen to enrich their oppressors. Yet Jesus chose both to follow him. For three years they traveled together, lived together, ate together, worked together. No red-state/blue-state squabbles there. More like bloodsport.

2. Growing up in Nazareth after surviving political exile in Egypt. The basics: An immigrant boy moves into a ghetto ("What good comes out of Nazareth?). He has to make friends, but all of his childhood memories are of refugee camps in a far-away nation that held his ancestors as slaves for 400 years. Every self-respecting Jewish boy knew well the story of plagues and the Exodus, yet that's the very place marginalized and displaced Jesus, the Creator of the universe, chose to make his own.

A New Purpose for the original "Purpose-Driven Life"

I've met Rick Warren several times in the past year, first at Billy Graham's L.A. Crusade last November and again at the New York Crusade. Each time he's come across as genuine, approachable, and generous. Thanks, DJ Chuang, for linking to the transcript of a recent forum Pastor Rick held with various mainstream media figures. The entire piece is provocative (for various reasons, ranging from the myths he claims about mega churches to insights about managing a local church with global impact to the number of cynical questions he fielded on theocracy and right-wing politics). My favorite was his "turning point" discussion:

"And that was a turning point in my life two-and-a-half years ago, where God basically said to me ... 'The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence. ...' And in religious terms I had to say, 'God, I repent, because I can't think of the last time I thought of widows and orphans.' I live in a very affluent Southern California neighborhood. There aren't any homeless people lying on the streets where I live. And I said, 'I can't think of the last time I cared about the homeless.' "And so I went back and I began to read scripture, and it was like blinders came off. Now, I've got three advanced degrees. I've had four years in Greek and Hebrew and I've got doctorates. And how did I miss 2,000 verses in the Bible where it talks about the poor? How did I miss that? I mean, I went to two different seminaries and a Bible school; how did I miss the 2,000 verses on the poor?"

- The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Discussion: Myths of the Modern Mega-Church. May 23, 2005

We need more old-fashioned repentance like this. Thanks, Pastor Rick, for your candor and willingness to draw attention to global poverty, AIDS, and economic justice.

The antidote to sin

Equal parts humilty, generosity, and integrity. I heard Rick Warren share this last month to a gathering of NY-area church panters that are part of his "Purpose-Driven" network of churches. It was stimulating in light of 1 John 2:16-17:

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." (KJV)
It's a tidy formulation and probably (in my experience) oversimplified, but there's much to be said for humility counteracting pride, generosity the lust of the eyes, and integrity the lust of the flesh.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Jonathan

My brother turns 29 today. He's lived a full life already, and the best is yet to come. In ministry since the age of 6, Jon's an Xcel co-founder, youth pastor, church administrator, all-around trouble shooter and problem solver, bible school graduate, soon-to-be college graduate, friend and mentor. Ten or so years ago, he said he wants to be remembered as "Pastor Simple." By emphasizing what matters, overcoming adversity with integrity, and uncommon loyalty, he's earned that right.

Competence without character

... corrupts communities and creates cultural chaos. But competence with character cultivates community and challenges culture with Christ. This, in summary, was my message at the AC4 conference in Boston. More to come ...

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Note from a volunteer

I found this randomly online. I didn't even know a group called The Wave USA had volunteered at Xcel. (We benefit greatly from the various volunteer groups that stay at Abounding Grace.) Very cool.

"I actually only did two days at Generation Xcel. I wish I had done more though. ... Even after only two days of volunteering there it was hard to leave. Those kids definitely impacted me and despite the occasional moments of chaos they were a lot of fun. I will definitely miss them." -Renee Dueck, Canada (05/12/05)

There's "magic" in them there words

Deep thoughts, Rudy style, on "how the gospel liberates the poor":

The gospel liberates the poor because it expects things from them. To be exact, the gospel expects things of all who call on the name of Christ.

Where have YOU been?

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now... Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. / Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you. Thanks, Bob, for the distraction.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


The Story We Find Ourselves in, today over lunch. It's the second of three books in Brian McLaren's ANKOC series. Wow. Refreshing. Stimulating. Provocative. Not sure I agree with all of it, but that's partly the point. I don't have to any more than Brian has to agree with me on every detail (as if) of my (still developing) theology, because neither of our respective "windows" on Truth captures all of it. Here's a summary, in Brian's words, for your enjoyment:

"It is a story that intersects with all of our lives. It begins with creation. This beautiful world of mountains and seas and rivers and creatures great and small ... was God's work of art, God's master creation. But we humans, who were endowed with amazing and unique capacities, plunged God's world into crisis through our selfishness and arrogance, our lust and greed, our anger and violence. "So God intervened, calling one family to become a light to all other families. God entered into covenant with this family, inviting them into a conversation with God about God that would span generations. God and humanity spoke and listened to one anther through priests, prophets, poets, and philosophers. ... To this family, and through this family, in the fullness of time, came Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection demonstrated the love and triumph of God, not through conquest, power, and violence, but through vulnerability, suffering, forgiveness, and resurrection. "Those whose hearts were won to Jesus and his message banded together into a community of faith and mission called the church, which quickly became a global movement of people devoting themselves to living life in a new way, a way that would help the world become the world God always dreamed of. Even during times of violence and evil ... These followers of Jesus were sustained by the hope that God can bring life from death and victory from defeat, and so they forged ahead with the hope that ultimately, a great consummation would come, and God's love and justice and mercy and grace would prevail. ... "God ... launched our story full of adventure, freedom, potential, and promise. Then, in the middle of the story, the heart of God was expressed in a powerful and profound way, beyond words, in flesh and blood, as one of us, walking with us, suffering with us, calling all people to engage their personal and local stories with this glorious and global one. As we look ahead to the end of the story, we see God, waiting with open arms to gather us, to salvage or harvest from our individual histories -- as from all of history -- all that is good, beautiful, and true, to resurrect all that is noble in this creation to fly free in the new creation. ..." (pp. 175-76)

Perspective, part two

After the commotion of the Crusade and Xcel's June calendar, I took Thursday and Friday off to extend the holiday weekend and hopefully get some rest. But alas, rest was not to be. On Thursday, Judah and I picked up his friend Sammy for two days of all-boy fun (see Perspective, part one, below). Unfortunately for me, at 4 and 5 years old, fun and rest are incompatible pursuits in their world. So Thursday began with a round trip boat ride on the Staten Island Ferry (with my friend Kenny Mitchell and his wife and two boys, whom we randomly bumped into on the subway); then an evening at cousin Joey's house for an informal pool party with ten teenagers; then video games on Joey's game cube; then a sleepover at our apartment; then sprinklers, one scooter ("Take turns, boys!"), and baseball at the park on Friday; then Happy Meals at McD's; then Xcel's "Invite Night" party before finally returning Sammy to his mom around 5. In the middle of the fray, my brother Jamie called Friday afternoon to say he and his wife were finally closing on their condo, after several scheduling delays, and could I help them move Friday evening. Sure. One thing led to another and Saturday was spent moving as well. Then Sunday after church, Diana's grandmother was feeling very ill, so Di and her aunt and uncle took her to the hospital Sunday night. Thankfully after a blood transfusion, IV, and a dose of ProCrid to get her red blood cell counts back up, she was sent home around 3 am without being admitted. But Monday was pay dirt. Not particularly restful, either, (east coast/west coast basketball rivalries, intensely played out on a Bronx basketball court are not conducive to rest), but terrifically fun. I'm feeling it today, though. A day-and-a-half of moving followed by three 4-on-4 games to 21, plus a style of basketball that resembles summo wrestling and a body that reflects years of sedintary living, means aches and pains and a dozen or so bumps and bruises to heal this week. Thanks to Dr. Louis and Elsa Carlo, dear friends and beloved parents of CoCo and Elsa, for hosting us and nine of Xcel's summer interns for an all-day holiday BBQ and surprise birthday party for my brother Jonathan. This is a short, but hectic, week at the office before I drive to Boston on Friday for the AC4 conference, and return bearing gifts for my son, namely cousins Willie and Amber. They'll be staying with us for two weeks. Rest. Foiled again.

Perspective, part one

(Judah and Sammy at the Bibleman altar call last week.)
Last Thursday, Judah and I picked up his buddy Sammy for two days of boys-only fun. The first thing out of Sammy's mouth was that a man shot his brother six times "over there," and he pointed to the courtyard just outside his building. "See the blood?" he said. Sure enough, police tape marked the crime scene, and a white cloth stained red was still visible. The next day, the Daily News covered the story this way:

"Another man who lives in Campos Plaza and watched the attack from his window said the gunman casually walked away.

"'He was carrying that gun like it was a purse,' the man said. 'There's always shootings here, but not this early in the morning.'"

Hispanics now one-seventh of U.S. population

Census Bureau estimates 41.3 million in fastest-growing ethnic bloc. ...

“Looking toward the future, we see a different face of the U.S. population,” said Audrey Singer, an immigration and census specialist at the Brookings Institution. “But I don’t think that’s necessarily new. It’s a confirmation that this hasn’t stopped or changed much.”

Monday, July 04, 2005

Celebrating Freedom

(photo by AP)