I have a confession to make. When the movie Fireproof first came out, I was a little wary. A lot of it had to do with an aversion to Christian evangelical subculture, which is a good thing at times, but a bad thing as well- aren’t I just being like a Pharisee at that moment, a snobby religious person just like the “subculture” I am turned off by? Oh how big our “planks” can be when we judge… (Matthew 7:1-6)
Anyhow, I digress. My neighbor Mark- a single guy in his mid 20s who is not a part of Christian subculture because he’s new to Jesus- saw it and passed it along. And well, I am now a fan. Its strengths include:
1) a pretty realistic take on some of the hell that can break loose in marriage- from a sex-life (or lack of) to hard-heartedness, and a lot of things in between
2) a no-nonsense approach to how, if we truly follow the ways of Jesus without making excuses, things in us can change (not necessarily things beyond us like other people or circumstances in life)
3) an honest attempt at trying to be both courteous of non-religious people, yet pretty blatant about how God/Jesus can make a difference
Again, I realize that there’s a lot more to say about it (the comments at amazon.com have quite a bit of content), and I realize that some who maybe identify as more “progressive” in their view of “Christianity” and such might find some of it quite laughable and even repulsive. But it’s worth a look. Props to those who have used it well- I think of my sister’s boyfriend (and potential husband) who pre-ordered 20 to give away…
So I’ve been in Ghana for a week now. It’s been a great trip, not because it has been “exotic” or something like that (I think we, including myself, can talk about traveling to certain places with that sort of exotic/vacation/tourist attitude, which ends up minimizing the real lives and realities of complex and tough places like Ghana). But it’s been great because of:
1) the friendships I am developing with various African leaders (15 total)- from a former Ugandan soldier to a pastor who endured the war in Sierra Leone, from a former engineer to a regional director of parachurch ministries in East Africa, etc. The discussions have been enlightening; the friendships, fun and encouraging; the future dreams and possibilities together, inspiring.
2) the time I get to hang out with world-renowned scholar/strategist/statesman Ray Bakke (google his name and try to discover as much as you can about this guy). He’s courted people like King Hussein and the Pope, but I (along with other students) get to have one-on-one conversations with him while we spend hours driving around Ghana. Pretty cool.
3) the validation and continuation of the vision of church/church planting I have- global/multicultural/multisocioeconomic churches in all the cities of the world (note: there are 500 cities around the world that have over 3 million people). Accra needs a global/multicultural/multisocioeconomic church reaching out to the diverse pockets here. Anyone interested?
Be sure to visit my flickr site for daily pictures from ghana.
Earlier this month (January 12, 2009), the only grandma I had growing up passed away. This is the eulogy printed at her memorial service. I am blessed to be a part of her lineage. (Ahma is chinese for grandma. Ahzo is chinese for great grandma)
Recently my wife Yen-Yen asked her father to write his story of faith, for the sake of our daughters. I was privileged to read a draft, and was humbled and amazed at how God works through the Bible and the courage of young people. And I was struck by how his generation still lived in the shadow of colonialism. Wow. If you get some time, check out his story…
I’m sure many of us are still reeling from the results of the election. There is so much to absorb, so much to do, beginning today. I’m eager to see how we- referring to both the community of Jesus followers, and the larger people of the US- will respond to the challenges ahead.
Some random rants about the results:
- Finally, the reality of our global, multicultural world is reflected in our highest office. There’s a whole lot of work to do, though, in terms of racial/ethnic/cultural reconciliation.
- People cannot be pigeon-holed into one political platform. I think of my state of CA, where Barack Obama won easily, and yet traditional marriage was (so far, with 95% precincts reporting) upheld. I think this “contradiction” reflects the new reality of who we are as a people.
- John McCain was and is a good guy in many ways. In another situation, with a different incumbent and a different opponent, he probably could have won. Did you watch his SNL opener on Nov 1? It was great.
- Barack, thanks for what you’ve given so far. We are eager to see how you will lead. We will pray for you, and support you as best as we can, all the while giving to God what is God’s.
I begin my excursions beyond the U.S. this week to learn from the Global Church. Well, actually, I began a few weeks ago when I went to Tijuana, Mexico to explore a sister church relationship with a church planting network down there… Good stuff.
This week my journey takes me to Singapore, and to some of the mega-ministries there. It’s pretty amazing how “amazing” these ministries are; being in the US, we think of ourselves as being the best and most innovative way too much, and we fail to see what really is going on (granted, ethnocentrism and the sins associated with nationalism plague every people group). Anyhow, this week my travels take me to these three churches:
Over the last few months, I’ve had the chance to personally meet and spend some time with some well known Christian authors. These authors include:
Tim Stafford, author of numerous books including the NIV Student Bible
William P. Young of The Shack
Larry Osborne of the forthcoming Sticky Church
James Choung of True Story
I am amazed at their earthiness and humility, and am glad that God has them where they’re at; these are some truly Jesus-focused people who don’t care too much about themselves. Good stuff.