Friday, March 30, 2007

Desperados Softball Team

Since last Fall I (and sometimes Maricela) have been playing softball. The team is being sponsored by Quartz Hill Presbyterian Church and plays at the Lancaster City Park. Although Venezuela is a baseball country and I grew playing and being a pretty passionate fan, very little is left of my past abilities. Well, we don't do a lot of winning but it sure is a lot of fun!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eugene Peterson on Success and Failure

Among the apostles, the one absolutely stunning success was Judas, and the one thoroughly groveling failure was Peter. Judas was a success in the ways that most impress us: he was successful both financially and politically. He cleverly arranged to control the money of the apostolic band; he skillfully manipulated the political forces of the day to accomplish his goal. And Peter was a failure in ways that we most dread: he was impotent in a crisis and socially inept. At the arrest of Jesus he collapsed, a hapless, blustering coward; in the most critical situations of his life with Jesus, the confession on the road to Caesarea Philippi and the vision on the Mount of transfiguration, he said the most embarrassingly inappropriate things. He was not the companion we would want with us in time of danger, and he was not the kind of person we would feel comfortable with at a social occasion.

Time, of course, has reversed our judgments on the two men. Judas is now a byword for betrayal, and Peter is one of the most honored names in the church and in the world. Judas is a villain; Peter is a saint. Yet the world continues to chase after the successes of Judas, financial wealth and political power, and to defend itself against the failures of Peter, impotence and ineptness.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Conference with Rene Padilla and Brian McLaren

These two prominent authors will be leading this conference designed to encourage individuals and churches about the essential link between mission and discipleship. Rene Padilla is a respected Evangelical scholar and President of the Micah Network and Tearfund UK. Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, pastor, and networker whose book A New Kind of Christian won Christianity Today’s “Award of Merit” in 2002.

In their plenary sessions, Rene and Brian will share their heart for the Gospel and the response that it requires of us. They also will describe the nature of mission and how our engagement with mission forms us as disciples of Jesus. The conference workships will build upon the plenary sessions by providing concrete examples of the interplay between mission and discipleship.

Rene and Brian have been traveling, teaching and working in partnership and have a lot to say. We’ve worked hard to make it possible for you to hear it. The conference will be compact – just 24 hours. And we’ve worked hard to make it as inexpensive as possible. Please carefully consider this amazing opportunity!

Click here for the conference details

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Internet Usage among Latinos in the US

Pew Internet & American Life Project published some facts on Internet usage by US Latin American population. Latinos comprise 14% of the US adult population and about half of this growing group (56%) goes online. By comparison, 71% of non-Hispanic whites and 60% of non-Hispanic blacks use the internet. Several socio-economic characteristics that are often intertwined, such as low levels of education and limited English ability, largely explain the gap in internet use between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. 78% of Latinos who are English-dominant and 76% of bilingual Latinos use the internet, compared with 32% of Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults.76% of US-born Latinos go online, compared with 43% of those born outside the US Some of this is related to language, but analysis shows that being born outside of the 50 states is an independent factor that is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.

80% of second-generation Latinos, the sons and daughters of immigrants, go online, as do 71% of third-generation Latinos. 89% of Latinos who have a college degree, 70% of Latinos who completed high school, and 31% of Latinos who did not complete high school go online. Mexicans are the largest national origin group in the US Latino population and are among the least likely groups to go online: 52% of Latinos of Mexican descent use the internet. Even when age, income, language, generation, or nativity is held constant, being Mexican is associated with a decreased likelihood of going online.
Press here to read the Pew report

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Is it possible to "untrain" without inconviniencing?

An important Question for Mainline Protestantism

Friday, March 09, 2007

Einstein on John Calvin- A funny story out of his correspondence

"One day I received in the Patent Office in Bern a large envelope out of which there came a sheet of distinguished paper. On it, in picturesque type (I even believe it was Latin) was printed something that seemed to me impersonal and of little interest. So right away it went into the official wastepaper basket. Later, I learned that it was an invitation to the Calvin festivities and was also an announcement that I was to receive an honorary doctorate from the Geneva University. Evidently the people at the university interpreted my silence correctly and turned to my friend and student Lucien Chavan, who came from Geneva but was living in Bern. He persuaded me to go to Geneva because it was practically unavoidable—but he did not elaborate further.

So I traveled there on the appointed day and, in the evening in the restaurant of the inn where we were staying, met some Zurich professors. … Each of them now told in what capacity he was there. As I remained silent I was asked that question and had to confess that I had not the slightest idea. However, the others knew all about it and let me in on the secret. The next day I was supposed to march in the academic procession. But I had with me only my straw hat and my everyday suit. My proposal that I stay away was categorically rejected, and the festivities turned out to be quite funny so far as my participation was concerned.

The celebration ended with the most opulent banquet that I have ever attended in all my life. So I said to a Genevan patrician who sat next to me, "Do you know what Calvin would have done if he were still here?" When he said no and asked what I thought, I said, "He would have erected a large pyre and had us all burned because of sinful gluttony." The man uttered not another word, and with this ends my recollection of that memorable celebration".

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Creo en Dios

Creo en Dios
Porque se hizo humano
Y se levantó temprano para ir a trabajar
Creo en Dios
Porque se hizo carpintero
Sabe lo qué es ser obrero y tener que transpirar
Creo en Dios
Porque amó a las prostitutas
Desechando a los reclutas de la religiosidad
Creo en Dios
Ese Dios tan proletario
Ese Dios que se hizo humano para venirme a salvar
Creo en Dios
Porque no es un moralista
Nunca jode a los artistas ni les dice que cantar
Creo en Dios
porque es Madre, porque es HIJO
porque es desaparecido de un gobierno militar
Creo en Dios
Porque usa mameluco
Y bendice a los trabucos que luchan por la libertad

Cancion de Claudio Cruces

Prayer Regarding Critics and Enemies by Serbian Orthodox Bishop

By Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, Serbian bishop who spoke out against Naziism, was arrested, and taken to Dachau.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world. Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world. They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself. They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments. They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish. Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf. Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background. Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand. Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep. Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me. So that my fleeing to Thee may have no return; so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs; so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul; so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger; so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven; ah, so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself. One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends. It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies. Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Amen

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Footnote to all Prayer

He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.

Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate.

From a poem called A Footnote to All Prayer by C. S. Lewis

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Crowded Loneliness & Quiet Contemplation (From the editors of Leadership Journal)

Last week, I had the privilege of representing Building Small Groups at the first-ever Purpose Driven Small Groups conference, hosted by Saddleback Church in sunny Lake Forest, California. Because the Purpose Driven folks were running the show, I've returned home with a great deal of useful information, almost all of it nicely packaged into acronyms and "pathways."

But I was most impressed by two presentations that drifted outside the Purpose Driven model. Both of them picked up the gauntlet thrown down by noted church consultant Lyle E. Schaller, who said: "The biggest challenge facing the church is to address the fragmentation and discontinuity of the American lifestyle."

Early Tuesday morning, Randy Frazee spoke on the call to community. According to Frazee, the average American family manages 35 separate relationships on a day-to-day basis—children, extended family, neighbors, government, school, friends, work, Starbucks employees, landlords, telemarketers, etc. And this is before that family gets invited to church, which usually adds another 6 connections—at least.

As a result, Americans are knee-deep in the unprecedented phenomenon of grouped isolation—what Frazee refers to as "crowded loneliness." We are in desperate need of meaningful relationships, yet too busy and too pulled to maintain them.

Even worse, our attempts to relieve our sense of isolation often contribute to our fragmentation. We might join a small group, for example. We'll get in contact with 3 to 11 other dedicated Christians and commit to meet and study the Bible every week.

But what happens? Those 3 to 11 people become another chunk of relationships that we have to manage—relationships that require phone calls, polite questions on Sunday morning, and Christmas gifts. That weekly Bible study devolves into thirty minutes of preparation, thirty minutes in the car driving to and from the appointed house, thirty minutes of genial conversation, thirty minutes of discussion, thirty minutes of prayer, and thirty dollars to pay the babysitter. In other words, our attempts to forge meaningful relationships often add up being "just another thing to do."

Press here to read the complete article