Sunday, April 30, 2006

Coming soon

Just one month remains to buy half priced tickets. Click image for details.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Podcast: Techmission keynote now online

Listen to the latest from GenXcel's audio vault: Translating Truth from Babel to Cyberspace, TechMission 2005 AC4 National Conference keynote (Boston, MA).

"Competence without character corrupts communities and creates cultural chaos."


Nearly five years later, construction begins at Ground Zero.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Glimpse into Judah's Future - Three generations in the making

Yesterday, an old friend of Pastor Joe's stopped by the office to say hello. As Wednesday is Pastor Joe's regular day off, I was set to take a message and send him on his merry way, especially since my father and I were preparing to leave for the Mission New York meeting. My dad, on the other hand, always makes time for people, often without regard to inconvenience. This was one of those times, and I, frankly, was annoyed because of our appointment. But my father welcomed the man, a perfect stranger to him -- but a friend of Pastor Joe's so by association a friend of his -- into his office, talked for ten minutes or so and invited him to tonight's service. Then this afternoon, dad asked if I would follow the documentary and conclude the meeting with an altar call. One man responded: Pastor Joe's friend, the same man for whom I had no time yesterday but with whom a few minutes of my father's attention resulted in a divine appointment tonight. When I returned to my seat, Judah grabbed me and whispered in my ear: "Dad, imagine that was me praying with that man?" No doubt about it: He has grandpa's DNA. God, forgive me for being so thick!

The Last Words of Dr. King

Just before he was shot, Dr. Martin Luther King told saxophonist Ben Branch:

"Ben, make sure you play Precious Lord, Take My Hand in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty." (Source: At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68)
Fittingly, they were the last words he uttered this side of eternity.
"Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light." Lyrics.

Too much TV

"A 4-year-old Brooklyn girl was killed last night after a television set fell on her, the police said. It was the second such accident in Brooklyn this month." Article.

The Worst

My sympathies to the guys on this list.

"What superpower do you have?"

Judah just asked me that question five minutes ago, so I asked him what he meant. His response: "What superpower do you have, because you help the poor, right?" I LOVE this kid! In other Judah news, his hamster died on Tuesday, so we bought another one yesterday. She's the runt of a litter of dwarf hamsters, which makes her all of 2-3 inches long. But she's adorable.

PREMIER - "Pastor Harley" - TONIGHT

A Film by
Watch the tattooed, earring wearing, Harley Davidson riding controversial Pastor Rick Del Rio (my dad) rise from obscurity and continue to dedicate his life to his community. With candid interviews with family, friends and the NYPD, exciting visuals and colorful characters from the LOWER EAST SIDE, the film traces his humble beginnings as a warlord of the Brooklyn gang THE HOBO LORDS, to his early days of outreach to the community of the LOWER EAST SIDE, and ultimately a national leader after the tragedy of 9/11. The documentary was commissioned by a French production company and has aired throughout France and Europe. Tonight's screening will be the U.S. premier.
Thursday, April 27th @ 7PM ABOUNDING GRACE MINISTRIES 9 East 7th Street / NYC
(corner of 3rd Ave a/k/a Cooper Square) MTA: R/W to 8th Street or 6 to Astor Place

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

From Dr. A.R. Bernard

This morning, at the Mission New York gathering announcing the upcoming Willowcreek Leadership Summit:

"God puts his promises within our reach, not in our hands, and requires us to stretch for them" (paraphrased). More Bernard-isms here, i.e. "Quotes to Live By."

Bart Campolo's Big Idea #5

I've been reading Bart Campolo's blog recently. He offers an interesting "Big Idea #5." (I'm not even gonna say here what his Big Idea #4 is! Check that one out for yourself.)

"As wonderful as it is to minister to the wounded and oppressed, at some point we've got to start confronting the people and systems that keep wounding and oppressing them." More.

Help us, Lord, to find a way that honors you.

Bart also takes a stab at clarifying the oft discussed but rarely defined phrase, "social justice":

"Social justice isn't about everybody getting what they deserve (that's death), or what they want (that's chaos), or the same thing (that denies reality)…social justice, as I understand it, is when everybody gets what he or she truly needs in order to realize his or her fullest potentiality as a lover of God and as a lover of other people."


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RIP, Junior

Junior died this weekend in a car accident. The news hit me hard last night, because he was one of the very first Generation Xcel kids ten years ago, a great boy who had it all: looks, charm, athleticism, smarts. He used to beat me in chess, played basketball on the team Jonathan coached, even attended Abounding Grace for a few months. We lost regular contact with him in 1997, but would see him several times a year at outreach events. He was always respectful and was one of those guys that promised to return to faith "one day." I'm hopeful that day came sometime between when I last saw him and this weekend. But I can't be sure this side of eternity. My heart is heavy, both for Junior and the billions of others like him that tempt fate every day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Pro-Life Hip Hop

A pregnant teenager decides not to get the abortion. Provocative. Emotive. Hip Hop at its best, by Nick Cannon featuring Anthony Hamilton: "Can I Live?" Still only 19, Nick Cannon is an incredible talent that's been entertaining our kids for nearly a decade. (Ever watch him on MTV's "Wild 'N Out" improv comedy show? He's hysterical!) I for one am glad his mom let him live to share that life with the rest of us. HT: Hip Hop Republican.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Just like a Met

To say something so stupid.

Invisible Children

More on the plight of child soldiers: a new movie and movement begins this Saturday.

Pass this law now!

The White House proposed a mandatory ratings system for p*rnographic websites and criminal sanctions for website operators who mislead visitors about sex with deceptive "words or digital images" in their source code (for instance, sites that might pop up in searches for Barbie dolls or Teletubbies but actually feature sexually explicit photographs) or post sexually explicit material on their home page if it can be seen "absent any further actions by the viewer." Article.

Mentoring Matters

Much thanks and appreciation to the Prince George County Mentoring Partnership for inviting me to participate in their Boyzz2Men conference this weekend, especially to County Executive Joe Johnson, event Chairman Major F. Riddick of Strategic Solutions Center, and event coordinator Nuria Alvarez. The 600-700 teens who attended were challenged to become who they are uniquely created to be while connecting to mentors who can help navigate life's challenges. Rev. Tony Lee of Hope Community Church kicked it off by apologizing on behalf of his (and my) generation for denigrating the idea of manhood into pimped out thug life. I had the privilege of co-presenting a session on R-E-S-P-E-C-T with Ennis Whatley, 10 year NBA veteran, and co-presenting the final keynote with ESPN analyst and former NCAA basketball coach Mike Jarvis and Tyrone Taborn, president & CEO of Career Communications Group. The ambitious program also included ministers and public officials and DC radio personalities Jay Lang (Smooth Jazz 105.9 FM) and DJ Flexx (WPGC 95.5 FM). It's always a pleasure to meet such amazing people and link arms for such a vitally important cause. Personal notes:

  • Amtrack's a nice way to travel from NY to DC - 3 hours of uninterrupted time reading/thinking/praying/resting.
  • Met a wonderfully gracious Dr. Susan Johnson Cook again waiting for the train back to NYC.
  • Received an autographed copy of Coach Jarvis' Skills for Life book, a primer on fundamental life skills many at-risk youth lack.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Scaling the heights

An Xcel cofounder does his thing: Kudos to Arturo Q. for lovin' life and livin' it as only he can. He always had a bit of Grizzly Adams in him, but Arturo's taste for adventure is taking him to new heights. More of his pics here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Boyzz2 Men Mentoring Matters

If you're in or around Prince George County, Maryland, join me tomorrow at the Boyzz2Men Mentoring Matters conference at: Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex 8001 Sheriff Road Landover, Maryland 20785 I'll be presenting a workshop on "What Does Respect Really Mean?" and a general session "Call to Action."

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

“What is the quality of your intent? Certain people have a way of saying things that shake us at the core. Even when the words do not seem harsh or offensive, the impact is shattering. What we could be experiencing is the intent behind the words. When we intend to do good, we do. When we intend to do harm, it happens. What each of us must come to realize is that our intent always comes through. We cannot sugarcoat the feelings in our heart of hearts. The emotion is the energy that motivates. We cannot ignore what we really want to create. We should be honest and do it the way we feel it. What we owe to ourselves and everyone around is to examine the reasons of our true intent. My intent will be evident in the results.” - Hon. Thurgood Marshall

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"The Supreme Court has a habit of overturning his opinions"

"[Stephen] Reinhardt is one of the most overturned judges in history. In this term alone, the high court has reversed seven opinions that Reinhardt has either written or been party to. These haven't been narrow reversals, either -- all seven of them have been unanimous. Moreover, four other opinions in which Reinhardt had a hand -- including his notorious conclusion that there is a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide -- are now pending before the court. In his many years on the bench, Reinhardt has proven himself one of those judges who view the Constitution as an infinitely malleable document in which myriad 'rights' can be divined." Article (from 1997)
I heard Judge Reinhardt speak at NYU Law, where his daughter was also a student. Like most 22 year olds, I was unaware of him before his speech, but subsequently discovered that he was a hero to many of my liberal friends and classmates. He's in the news again for his opinion barring a California high school student from wearing an anti-gay t-shirt to school in protest of the school's "Gay-Straight Alliance" tolerance event. While I'm hardly a fan of Christians who gay-bash, it's equally frustrating to watch activist judges hypocritically apply free-speech protections. In this case, the judge embraced the tolerance program, yet stifled the Constitutionally protected right of the student to oppose the program's message by wearing a tacky t-shirt. The First Amendment is a double edged sword that empowers both those who support Reinhardt's views on salient social issues like gay rights, and those who oppose them. It's time he, and other judges like him -- who are appointed to interpret laws, not write their own -- stop selectively applying those protections to advance a personal agenda.

Another YouTube special

From interSECTIONS. Share the video.

Our tube

Xcel entered the world of YouTube today. When love destroys a family. Share the video.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How my brother Jonathan's going to adopt a public school

Congrats to Jonathan for being selected as a New York City Teaching Fellow. Established in 2000, the Fellows recruit professionals from non-teaching fields to teach in underperforming schools in New York's highest risk communities. The very selective program is one for which he's ideally suited. Already a youth pastor and a great student, he has dedicated his life to reaching at-risk youth and carries the light and love of Christ wherever he goes. Plus, his great sense of humor disarms even the most stubborn knuckleheads. Related: Adopt-A-School.

Burly Girly Man

I've encountered split personalities, but not split wardrobes before today. A barrel chested, stocky man (think Ving Rhames, minus 5-6 inches) on the subway this morning appeared, from the waist up, like an ordinary professional on his way to work in a collared shirt and blazer. From the waist down, however, he was wearing black tights (with a run in them) and a black mini-skirt, with ankle socks and sneakers.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

One of those God moments

On Easter Sunday Bill (Boom2's boyfriend) told me about his friend's son Jimmy, a homeless man who was found deceased on a park bench two weeks ago. Bill read about it in the newspaper and called Jimmy's parents to offer condolences. To his surprise, they shared that the tragic news was tempered by a phone call he received from Pastor Emilia Steele. It turns out Jimmy was a regular at the Apple's Core Coffee House, a weekly homeless ministry directed by Pastor Emilia at my father's church, Abounding Grace. One of 75 or so regulars, Jimmy had dedictated his life to Christ and asked to be baptized. Two days before passing away, he was, at a Thursday night service at the church! Jimmy's parents took great comfort knowing that their son, whose life on earth was plagued by alcoholism since high school, now dwells peacefully with Jesus.

How would you like to be on the receiving end of this message?

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 'Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'" Job 38:1-3
Four things jump out as I read this: 1. That the Lord spoke "out of" -- meaning He was in -- the storm. 2. That we can obscure God's counsel by entertaining arguments based on partial or misinformation -- "words without knowledge." 3. That we can be people who withstand God's questioning "like a man." 4. That He expects us to "answer" -- commune with -- Him.

Woe to the one who says:

"Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" Job 2:9

Readin' 'bout the suffering saint who done got it right

"Have you considered my servant Job?" Job 1:8, 2:3.
Seems like a fitting follow-up to Lent/Good Friday/Resurrection Sunday.

Friday, April 14, 2006

What people are talking about on Myspace

From (reporting findings from integrity online):

As part of our research, we chose some words that might be used by ministries or businesses and searched for them on The “hits” are how many times these words are found on MySpace Blogs.

Bible Study 246,000 hits

Salvation 238,000 hits

Ministry 711,000 hits

Investment 82,400 hits

Medicine 571,000 hits

Architecture 164,000 hits

Antiques 25,700 hits

Now compare these words above with some obscene words below, that we searched on MySpace Blogs. These figures are beyond belief but sadly true.

Sex 9,960,000 hits

F*** 13,900,000 hits

Porn 2,300,000 hits

Sh** 17,700,000 hits

Nude 5,380,000 hits

In the company of champions

Take the quiz:
What baseball player are you? I took the quiz and found I'm Derek Jeter. Derek Jeter You are a competiter and a true Yankee. Quizzes by -- the World's Biggest Yearbook!
HT: Bloggedy Blog, aka Albert Pujols.

The Evangelistic Impact of the "Greatest Tool of Evangelism"

CT is wrestling with the evangelistic legacy of Mel's Passion. Despite marketing it as "the greatest evangelistic tool of our time" just two years ago -- to the tune of a $600 million windfall for Mel Gibson -- Barna reports:

“Among the most startling outcomes…is the apparent absence of a direct evangelistic impact by the movie…. Less than one-tenth of one percent of those who saw the film stated that they made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film’s content.”
The disconnect, Barna argues, was in relying on a movie to change a life:
“In an environment in which people spend more than 40 hours each week absorbing a range of messages from multiple media, it is rare that a single media experience will radically reorient someone’s life.”
Related: Beyond Passion, Living a Crucified Life 2.0.

24-7 prayer in Staten Island

That's the goal for the Mordecai House of Prayer at Cornerstone Worship Center, pastored by my friends Ken and Felicia Bobe. Ken was one of the cool kids in the youth group my dad pastored back when I was too young for youth. Even though he's still too cool for me, he's become a great friend, not to mention a fantastic pastor and preacher.

Beyond Passion: Living a Crucified Life 2.0

- Ed. Note: Reflecting on Good Friday, I recently reprised an article originally written in anticipation of Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ.
Two years ago, the evangelical world eagerly awaited the release of what was being lauded as "the greatest evangelistic tool of our time." The anticipation built as a brilliant marketing campaign invited pastors and church leaders to pre-screen Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ movie, and its trailer spread virally online. The supposed anti-Semitism controversy notwithstanding, evangelicals and Catholics worldwide pre-purchased tickets for opening night. I was one of those awash in buzz for the film, and our youth group was one of thousands that attended screenings opening weekend.

Now that the furor's dissipated and another Lenten season invites further reflection, the fervor that surrounded the film begs several difficult questions: Why did the world have to wait for a Hollywood epic to glimpse Christ's passion? Didn't He challenge those who would be disciples to take up our crosses daily? Didn't He charge us to model for unbelievers His incarnated love?

In other words, shouldn't Christ's passion be demonstrated tangibly everyday in our homes, communities, workplaces, and schools through our obedience of Him? Shouldn't, then, Mel's movie and other artistic statements like it, more appropriately serve as reminders of His love and not revelations of it?

Jesus gave the great commission and its corollary great commandment to actual human beings, not artistic renderings or other inanimate objects. But before this movie, how many evangelicals regarded Mel Gibson as a great evangelist or even as a "Christian actor"? He was more commonly known as a devout Catholic whose recent films contained Messianic overtones and spiritual subtexts. All of a sudden he was credited with creating the greatest evangelistic tool of our time?

That's because we're still stuck in a world where the term "evangelism" means the proclamation of a tidy Gospel presentation, followed by an altar call, sinner's prayer, and follow-up card.

Not so the Christ model. Contrary to conventional 21st century wisdom, Jesus chose to live among the people He would serve, learning their language, understanding their customs, practicing their traditions, and paying his cultural dues for thirty years before opening his mouth to preach. The almighty Maker of heaven and earth who measures the universe with a span clothed himself in the form of created man; chose to be born in a barn of an unmarried woman, at a time when unmarried pregnancy was a crime punishable by death; endured his childhood as a political refugee in Egypt; spent his adolescence and young adulthood in a Judean ghetto ("What good comes out of Nazareth?"); lived as a de facto slave to imperial Rome; and practiced blue collar work for thirty years before beginning his "ministry."

When he came of age as a rabbi, his preferred ministry practice was to meet people's needs before teaching them. He'd open blind eyes, treat 5,000 of his closest friends to dinner out of a little boy's lunch sack, disrupt funerals to revitalize the deceased, and restock the booze at a wedding in order to relate to people. Only then would he preach, and then by talking about ordinary things that ordinary people would understand: money, farming, taxes. He wouldn't manipulate his crowd numbers and chose to keep his immediate following small.

By most modern evangelical standards, Jesus would be voted least likely to succeed as an evangelist. History tells a different story, though, because for Him, evangelism wasn't something He did, it is who He is. Reaching people was His life. Relating to and serving them was his methodology. Loving them was His passion, and He invented ways to do it.

That's what the crucifixion represents, and what Mel's movie depicts: Christ's ultimate act of service. He laid down His life - His heavenly throne and all that went with it - to pay the supreme price for our sin because He loved us, even though we rejected Him.

St. Francis of Assisi once said his mission in life was to "share Christ and use words when necessary." We evangelicals have it in reverse. We tend to use words to share Christ while our actions preach something altogether different.

Mel's movie was indeed a triumph. Not just of great movie making or as a legitimate depiction of the crucifixion, but as an historical moment for evangelicalism. It set a new bar for what can come from a crucified life, devoted to Christ, and passionate about serving others.

Mel earned the right to make his movie, and the respect of his would-be audience, because for the prior 25 years, as an actor and director he has met audiences on their terms. After rediscovering his faith, he continued nurturing his craft and making good movies. The spiritual truths contained in many have been well received because they avoided the preachy trap. His resulting credibility as an artist, combined with the courage of his convictions and $30 million of his own money, produced a film about our loving Savior that the entire world paused to notice.

That's a triumph worth celebrating -- even emulating -- from an inspired, crucified life.

Kudos where it's due Hires Official to Oversee Users' Safety:

"Because of concern by parents and school and law enforcement officials that the site sometimes unwittingly makes young people vulnerable to pornographers or predators, the company has hired Hemanshu Nigam, director of consumer security outreach and child-safe computing at the Microsoft Corporation, to oversee safety, education and privacy programs and law enforcement affairs. "Mr. Nigam has also served as a federal prosecutor of Internet child exploitation cases, an adviser to a Congressional commission on online child safety and an adviser to the White House on cyberstalking."
It's a start. Now, about those "Naughty" ads and...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dutchess County Christians

Unite at Faith and Community Action.

P*rn on Campus

Apparently a growing number of enterprising college professors require students to deconstruct porn films in class to assess their own prejudices (huh!?). I'm not making this up. An NYU prof, as well as an aging porn actress/producer/director, defended this position the other night on Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC.

I had to share

This is one of those stories that makes one think.

Several years ago, a new preacher moved to town. Some weeks after he arrived, he had occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, "You'd better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it." Then he thought, "Oh, forget it, it's only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a 'gift from God' and keep quiet." When his stop came, he paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, "Here, you gave me too much change." The driver with a smile replied, "Aren't you the new preacher in town? I have been thinking lately about going to worship somewhere. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I'll see you at church on Sunday" When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, "Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter."
How many of Christ's kids have we sold out for a quarter?

April 15 Deadline Fast Approaching

For taxes? That too. But what concerns us here is the Hispanic Scholarship Fund application.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Contextless Links

Taking a page out of Jordon's playbook for these:

Immigration Fraud Booms

Lost in the recent commotion surrounding the proposed guest worker/amnesty provisions of immigration reform has been the rise of immigration fraud by leacherous "advocates." Consider the charges against Maria Maximo, who allegedly collected over $1 million in fees from unsuspecting immigrants only to have all 1,300 of their applications denied:

"Maria Maximo was supposed to be one of the good guys. A Honduran immigrant of Garifunan descent, she worked to help Garifunans (Hondurans of West-African origin) and other immigrants in her role as a community-board member, as an advocate for the survivors of 1990's Happy Land fire and as president of Jamalali Uagucha, Inc., an immigrant-services nonprofit in The Bronx.

"Instead, she allegedly stole their money. Lots of it.

"Last week, federal prosecutors charged Maximo with defrauding hundreds of undocumented immigrants of over $1 million in filing fees. She offered her services to naive people looking for a way to get legal work permits and green cards. She advertised that she'd file applications with the U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) for work permits and green cards at a cost of $500 to $2,500. But she surely knew full well that the applicants were ineligible.

"In 2004 and 2005, the U.S. Attorney's office says she filed 500 applications for work permits and 800 applications for green cards. She collected over $1 million in fees for these 1,300 applications - and all were denied. She faces up to 20 years in jail and $250,000 in fines if she's convicted."

Apparently Maximo's case is not an isolated incident.

"The GAO [General Accounting Office] audit found, for example, that nearly a third of all the applications filed for permanent residence for religious workers (one green-card category) over six months in 2004 were fraudulent. 'Some findings of the religious-worker assessment,' the report concluded, 'demonstrate that USCIS adjudicators do not always detect fraud during the adjudications process, thus allowing applicants to receive benefits for which they were not eligible.'

"...And some of the adjudicators the GAO interviewed admitted that their managers have been emphasizing 'meeting production goals, designed to reduce the backlog of applications, almost exclusively.' Fighting fraud isn't as big a priority." Article.

A Joke about a Puerto Rican

My Puerto Rican papi and tio and I cracked up when someone emailed this to us.

A young Puerto Rican man walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer. He tells the loan officer that he is going to Puerto Rico on a vacation for two weeks and needs to borrow $1,000. The bank officer tells him that the bank will need some form of security for the loan, so the young man hands over the keys to a new BMW 740i. The car is parked on the street in front of the bank. The young man produces the title and everything checks out. The loan officer agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan. The banks president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the Puerto Rican for using a $80,000 BMW as collateral against a $1,000 loan. An employee of the bank then drives the BMW into the banks underground garage and parks it there. Two weeks later, the young man returns, repays the $1,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41. The loan officer says, "Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a very successful businessman. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $1,000?" The Boricua replies: "Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?" The bank employee`s watch as he pulls out of the garage, windows down and sunroof open. Salsa music was blasting from his car as he pulled away...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Judge makes good on threat

Union bigwig gets jail time for illegal transit strike.

Why Not?

You see things and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that never were and I say, "Why not?" - George Bernard Shaw

Monday, April 10, 2006

Stef La Kallejera

The latest phenom in New York City radio scene is Stef La Kallejera, DJ for Univision radio. What an "omygodiamold" moment when I found out earlier in the week! I've known Stef since she was teenie tiny because we share an aunt. Aunt Michele is married to my mother's brother. She's also Stef's mother's sister. (Got that?) You go girl! Especially the whole Latina Flava vibe. We'll keep that our little secret.

God's politics?

"But doesn't Jesus say to care for the poor? Repeatedly and insistently, but what he says goes far beyond politics and is of a different order. He declares that only one test will determine who will come into his reign: whether one has treated the poor, the hungry, the homeless and the imprisoned as one would Jesus himself. "Whenever you did these things to the lowliest of my brothers, you were doing it to me" (Matthew 25:40). No government can propose that as its program. Theocracy itself never went so far, nor could it.

"The state cannot indulge in self-sacrifice. If it is to treat the poor well, it must do so on grounds of justice, appealing to arguments that will convince people who are not followers of Jesus or of any other religion. The norms of justice will fall short of the demands of love that Jesus imposes. A Christian may adopt just political measures from his or her own motive of love, but that is not the argument that will define justice for state purposes. ...

"Some may think that removing Jesus from politics would mean removing morality from politics. They think we would all be better off if we took up the slogan 'What would Jesus do?'

"That is not a question his disciples ask in the Gospels. They never knew what Jesus was going to do next. He could round on Peter and call him 'Satan.' He could refuse to receive his mother when she asked to see him. He might tell his followers that they are unworthy of him if they do not hate their mother and their father. He might kill pigs by the hundreds. He might whip people out of church precincts."From "Christ among the Partisans," NYT 4/9/06.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cause for Celebration

That's My King.

A Palm Sunday Reflection: Sometimes our King requires a Colt that's not been ridden

"'Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you doing this?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.' "... When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,
"'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!'" Mark 11:2-10 (Ital. mine)
As an unashamed youth minister, one of my favorite aspects of the Palm Sunday narrative is that Jesus chose to ride an inexperienced colt, one so young that no person had ever ridden her before, for his triumphal ride into Jerusalem. Matthew tells us that the colt was with her mother, but Jesus prophetically chose the younger one. Why?

Baptists Gone Bad

Here. HT: Deanna and Charlie

Deeper Truths of the Passion Week

Mark Palmer passed away two weeks ago, but his wisdom lives on through his blog. I found this post of his (reposted by his wife today) that's so richly provocative:

"Sunday of Passion Week (Palm Sunday): We celebrated the sixth Sunday of Lent tonight as a community. Shared an evening meal with the Eucharist, said evening prayers, and burned our palm leaves to use next year on Ash Wednesday. For me, Passion Week is the climax of the Christian calendar. There is so much happpening, so much rich symbolism, especially during the 'Triumphal Entry' that we celebrated today. The mystery of the cursing of the fig tree, Jesus enacting judgement against the temple, his cryptic words about the mountain being thrown into the sea, his weeping over Jerusalem...there is so much here that our reductionist version of the gospel has not allowed us to see. My prayer this week is that the Spirit will show us the deeper truths of the Passion Week."
Remember to keep Mark's son Micah and his widow Amy in prayer.

Highly Recommended

Judah is absolutely loving the Chronicles of Narnia books. Tonight we finished our fourth in the series, The Silver Chair, and he can't wait to start the next one tomorrow. Plus he asked to watch the cartoon version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, again, to celebrate his first day of baseball. I read the books as a boy, repeatedly, but it's been fun rediscovering the magical world of Narnia with Judah. And the spiritual lessons are not lost on the young.

He's a gamer

Judah's little league debut, for OLA (Our Lady of Angels) Terminators. Two line drive base hits. Fielding at 1B, 2B, and SS. Distractions: The view and a teammate [Larger pics here] Rained out on Saturday; Postponed to Sunday, 4/9/06 at 1PM. Shore Road Park at 97 Street.

One out of three high school students drops-out

"In today's data-happy era of accountability, testing and No Child Left Behind, here is the most astonishing statistic in the whole field of education: an increasing number of researchers are saying that nearly one out of three public high school students won't graduate, not just in Shelbyville but around the nation.

"For Latinos and African-Americans, the rate approaches an alarming 50 percent. Virtually no community, small or large, rural or urban, has escaped the problem. ...

"Dropping out of high school today is to your societal health what smoking is to your physical health, an indicator of a host of poor outcomes to follow, from low lifetime earnings to high incarceration rates to a high likelihood that your children will drop out of high school and start the cycle anew." Article.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Media referrals needed

Anyone know any media and entertainment honchos interested in hiring an entreprenuerial leader with youth development, networking, and communications expertise for business development purposes? If so, email me contact info, please.

Slow blog week

Got back from Florida Monday night; off to California at 7 am tomorrow for two days of curriculum development for the Urban Youth Workers Institute 2006-2007 Reload Tour; then the redeye back home in time for Judah's t-ball debut Saturday morning. Can't wait for that, bleary-eyed though I'll no doubt be!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

In case you missed this

" has removed 200,000 'objectionable' profiles from its site as it steps up efforts to calm fears about the safety of the network for young users." Article. Via.
For those of us concerned about the influence Myspace has on our kids, this is a start.

Beyond Passion: Living a Crucified Life

A reprised version of this article is making the rounds this month on Relevant, Next-Wave, Youth Ministry Exchange (already online), Christian Post, and Porpoise Diving Life (already online).

Much love and respect

... to my friends at Word of Christ International Church and all who were involved in this weekend's Encounter. I'll be posting thoughts and reflections from the weekend in the upcoming days, but suffice it to say for now that everyone within the reach of this blog and beyond should experience an Encounter. One other thing. For the last 18 months, which readers know have collectively been the most gruelling time of my life for a variety of reasons, I've been holding on to one promise more than any other:

"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)

Yet I struggled to see the new thing God was doing as it felt like the proverbial desert experience had no end in sight, and hope deferred was making my heart sick as a wasteland. This weekend, I drank from the stream again, and the way became a little more clear.


I can't get enough of My King.

A Timely Reminder

From my cousin Steven:

There is nothing too big for God to handle. (Matthew 19:26)

There is nothing too bad for him to forgive. (1 John 1:9)

The forces that threaten to steal your life and your future are puny compared to his awesome power. (Romans 8:38-39)

He could change your fortunes in a day if he wanted to. (Daniel 2:21)

If he doesn’t, there’s a good reason why. (Proverbs 16:9)

He not only loves you, he is delighted with you despite all your dysfunctions, and revels in every moment you spend with him. (Song of Solomon 2:10-13)

He knows your sorrow. He remembers that you are dust, and collects all your tears in a bottle. (Psalm 103:14; Psalm 56:8)

He will give you strength and courage for whatever you may yet have to go through. (Romans 8:31)

Someday, from your mansion in heaven, you will look back on this day and smile, because you will realize that your light and momentary troubles were achieving for you an eternal glory that far outweighs them all in comparison. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Oh Happy Day

Yankees Opening Day, that is:

N.Y. Yankees «07042002015171
Players of the Game
New York
A. Rodriguez AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1
New York
R. Johnson IP 7.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 0
K 3
New York Yankees
Johnny Damon, CF7231012 .429
Derek Jeter, SS6222110 .333
Gary Sheffield, RF4210113 .250
Bubba Crosby, RF1000102 .000
Alex Rodriguez, 3B5235101 .600
Jason Giambi, 1B3211122 .333
Andy Phillips, PR-1B1000002 .000
Hideki Matsui, LF42442001.000
Jorge Posada, C3100105 .000
Kelly Stinnett, C0000000 .000
Bernie Williams, DH5112124 .200
Robinson Cano, 2B5120013 .400
2B - Johnny Damon 2 (2, Witasick, Calero), Gary Sheffield (1, Saarloos), Robinson Cano (1, Saarloos)
HR - Alex Rodriguez (1, Zito), Hideki Matsui (1, Saarloos)
SH - Robinson Cano (1)
RBI - Johnny Damon (1), Derek Jeter 2 (2), Alex Rodriguez 5 (5), Jason Giambi (1), Hideki Matsui 4 (4), Bernie Williams 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Hideki Matsui (1), Bernie Williams (1)
CS - Robinson Cano (1, 2nd base by Saarloos/Kendall)
Team LOB - 15
E - Jason Giambi (1, Missed catch)
New York Yankees
Randy Johnson (W,1-0) 7511031 1.29
Tanyon Sturtze 1100010 0.00
Ron Villone 1211010 9.00
In Other Yankee News:
"Yankees Could Lead the Major Leagues in Brains This Season"

(South)East Coast mocks Left Coast

Since Florida's basically a transplanted New York suburb, I'm feeling this:

"Florida makes mockery of Bruins, brings home NCAA Title"
Plus, phenom Joakim Noah honed his skills in the Big Apple, first at Bay Ridge's own Poly Prep High School, then at Harlem's legendary Rucker Park league.