loren Eric Swanson: May 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Today we honor Liz's father, Capt. Malcom R. Stanford who received the Bronze Star for Bravery fighting in the Philippines with the 187th Infantry Regiment "Rakkasan" as the commander of "G" Company in Phillipines(Luzon). . We also honor my living dad, Signalman 1st Class with the USN during WWII in the South Pacific and my son, Jeff who fought in our present war in Iraq. Jeff and Ashlie ran the Bolder Boulder road race today (along w/ 50,000 others) and ended up in the CU Stadium. I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jeff as together we saluted the colors (I was in the US Army Reserves) as our National Anthem was sung.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

"God has come to help his people"

Just reflecting on son Andy 's words and our time in Malaysia. I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not but one church, SIB (http://www.sibkl.org.my/htm/home.htm) will have all 103 of their cell groups engaged in community ministry on a monthly basis. In times when pain is prevelant in a community, as it currently in China and Myanmar, it is when the people of God become the hands and feet of Jesus and people intuitively say, "God has come to help his people" (Luke 7:16). To love and serve in times of distress helps people know that he "loves them just as much as he loves his own son" (John 17:23). God bless all those who help, love and serve.

Mobilized for Sichuan--Prayer requested

The Action of the Call by Andy Swanson

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the devastation the earthquake in China has caused among the countless numbers of people here. Thousands upon thousands of lives lost, even more injured and millions left homeless. The physical toll is surpassed only by the psychological anguish that radiates from the southern province of Sichuan and touches every heart in China. This past Monday at 2:28 pm, the entire nation stood in 3 minutes of silence mourning the lost lives and hoping for more news of miraculous rescues. Cries of pain and help have gone out from the hearts of the people here and have reached the ears of our compassionate and loving God who is, and has been, calling his people to rise up to offer food, clothing, water, homes and comfort to those in need.

A bright spot in the midst of the tragedy has been the response of the Chinese people and the government to the earthquake victims. For the first time, the government has allowed full coverage of the earthquake and the aftermath, and the people have responded in overwhelming ways. A huge grass roots humanitarian effort sprung up immediately after the quake in the form of thousands of ordinary Chinese with carloads of blankets and instant noodles driving into the villages that were accessible with their goods. For a week now, thousands of people have lined up outside of blood banks to donate blood, and the Red Cross of China has reported its largest donations ever in the quake‘s aftermath. Our students too have all given blood and money and have been praying for the people in Sichuan.

God has opened a door for us and our students to go to Sichuan to help in whatever ways we can. We have put together a team, God has provided ample funding, and we are now just waiting for the green light to go from the relief organizers in Chengdu. We want to ask you, starting today, to seriously pray with us for the people in Sichuan. Their hearts are crushed and many are without hope. Please pray that God would speak His words of comfort and hope through us and that He would do what He always does- bring Life from death. We mourn with the Chinese, and we ask that you would join us in crying out to God on their behalf.

We will keep you updated, and we are thankful for your love and prayers for the people here.

Andy, Natalie and Jenda Swanson

Who Does God Use? Loving God and Loving Neighbor

A Call to Action by Andy Swanson

In a time of Plague, Draught, Famine, or Natural disaster, Christians throughout history have taken care of each other as well as taken care of their non-believing friends and relatives. During these times, having a Christian friend meant that your survival rate was more than three times that of a non-believer with no Christian friends.[1]
Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
"What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
He answered: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

Loving Your Neighbor
An expert in the Law asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. The answer in the Law is summed up by loving the Lord and loving your neighbor. According to the parable of the Good Samaritan, two Lovers of “God,” the Priest and the Levite, did not love their neighbor, the wounded man on the side of the road. Instead in this parable, the one who loved his neighbor, the one who showed mercy to his neighbor, was an outsider, a nonbeliever, a sinner, a Samaritan.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:16-20

God has chosen and commissioned his church to be his body, his hands and feet, to serve and comfort the poor needy hurting people of the world, to love with actions and in truth. He has given us his authority to preach the good news and make disciples. Matt. 28:18-20 His purpose is to redeem the world and use his church to do it. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthian 5:20

This is our job and role in ushering in the kingdom of God, but what happens when the people of God do not obey or do what God tells them to? Is God trapped if believers do not do his will and are not obedient in serving him through being his witnesses to the world, taking care of the poor and needy, acting justly and loving mercy? God gives his church, his followers, many chances to obey and accomplish his will, but if the believers do not respond, He will choose to work through others, through the Samaritans, the nonbelievers and sinners to accomplish his will and be glorified throughout the earth. Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."

Jeremiah 27:5-6 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will hand all your countries over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him.

We know that God used Pharaoh as an enemy of God to display his power. But God also used other Pagan Kings to do his will and bring judgment upon his people and other nations for their failure to love God and Neighbor. King Nebuchadnezzar was used to carry out God’s will and judgment on the people of Judah even though he did not believe in the Lord or give him glory until many years later. Daniel 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Sodom is one of the most well known evil cities in the Bible. It is constantly referred to as being a horrible Godless place. So what was Sodom’s sin, why was it so horrible? The people of Sodom did not love their neighbor.

" 'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Ezekiel 16:49

Jesus was about God’s glory and loving people, his neighbors. His mission “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me… because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19 /Isaiah 61

When God’s chosen people, the church, stop being the body of Christ by not loving their neighbors, God chooses to use the Samaritans and sinners of the world make his name known and to save the week and oppressed. God will still get glory, but the church will be judged and will not be blessed. There is also another interesting thing happens, the people who are looked down upon by the “church” or not allowed into the church for being sinners and nonbelievers begin to be recognized and called “People of God.” When the church refuses to do the work of the church, God chooses others.

As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one,” and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'” Romans 9:25-26

Love the Lord
Many will say that the reason the people of the church can often neglect loving their neighbors is because they are too busy doing the best thing, loving God and serving him. “We don’t have time to do everything so we must prioritize by spending most of our time loving God, going to church, praying, reading the bible and fellowshipping with other believers.”

Look at the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Priest and Levite were working as Servants of the Lord. They were busy, like many Christians, loving God. They were probably both good people who were willing to help as long as it didn’t interfere with their jobs or lives. They may have said a prayer or asked for God’s blessing for the man as they passed by, but they knew that if they stopped to help their “neighbor,” this bloody dirty person who probably was a bad man who most likely deserved this punishment anyway, they would be late for church or have to miss church all together that day or maybe for 2 or 3 days. These “servants of the Most High” weren’t bad people, they just understood that they had responsibilities and could not sacrifice the “work of God” to help some stranger.

John 14:21, 23-24
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
How do we love Jesus? We obey his commands.

1 John 2:3-6 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

How do we know we know and are in Jesus? We obey his commands and walk and as Jesus did.
1 John 3:16-20 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

If during a crisis Christians fulfilled their ideal of ministering to everyone, there would be many pagan survivors who owed their lives to Christian neighbors.[2]

Matthew 25:31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

When all normal services break down, quiet elementary nursing will greatly reduce mortality. Simple provision of food and water for instance, will allow persons who are temporarily too weak to cope for themselves to recover instead of perishing miserably.[3]

Who really loves the Lord? Those who obey Jesus and love the least through feeding them, giving them something to drink, inviting them in, clothing them, visiting them. ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

John 21:15-17
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.”

Today there are some 100 million hungry children in the world who get virtually no assistance. We have calculated that it would cost around $5 billion a year to provide them and their mothers with a basic package of food, nutrition and health care[4]. Right now there are hundreds of thousands of people dying from lack of food and basic medical care. There are people who are being oppressed pushed around because they don’t know their rights, they have no one to defend them. People are dying everyday without knowing the saving grace of Jesus.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up ad judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy-Prov 31:8-9

Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.[5]

So here is the question: How are we loving God and our neighbor? Do we love the least of these? Can we be men and women of prayer and faith lived out through action? Can we be God’s hands and feet and change the world, or are we going to sit back and watch God choose someone else?
Why don’t we start right now and begin to pray for God to use us now and here where we are. Let us lead the way in our Campuses and Work places. Let us communicate to the world that God wants to show them his love. Let us begin to give right now to feed the starving children in Africa, Asia and around the world. $.25 can feed someone for a day. Can we organize our classmates and coworkers to each feed one starving child a day? Can we go and serve in the ravaged, broken hells of this world? Christians need to lead the way so that we can communicate the love of God in order to bring heaven to these hells. Our job is not just be good people. Don’t wait for God to choose someone else. He is calling the church. He is calling you.
Jesus is asking YOU: “Do YOU Love Me?”… “Feed my sheep.”
“Do YOU Love Me?”… “Take care of my sheep.”
“Do YOU Love Me?”… “Feed my sheep.”
Who can help the 2 million cyclone victims facing disease and starvation in Burma? Who can help the homeless hopeless people of the Si Chuan earthquake?
“Who will help them? Who will help them?”- A Sichuan woman cried out after seeing her apartment building collapse with her mother and 5 month old baby inside.
Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? Isaiah 6:8
Christians in Burma are working to assist survivors of the cyclone.
A local believer said this:
"I believe that as we bring relief assets to the orphanages and churches with whom we are partners, we will not only be helping them but also providing them with the necessary resources to impact their immediate communities with the tangible love of Jesus. In the end, I believe that the church will shine in this dark hour and that the Kingdom of God will be advanced in this nation."

Here are two places to give to help our neighbor, to feed and clothe Jesus. You can help right now.

香港 For the Hungry International Hong KongBox No. 60104Tsat Tsz Mui Post OfficeHong Kong Phone: (852) 2560-6364Fax: (852) 2560-6064 E-mail:mailto:info@fhhk.org
联合国世界粮食计划署http://www.wfp.org.cn/ world food program

[1] The Rise of Christianity- pg 92
[2] Rise of Christianity pg. 90
[3] Rise of Christianity pg. 88
[4] Still Dying of Hunger, More Can Be Done to Ease the Toll on Children and Countries. By James T. Morris. Thursday, May 25, 2006; Page A29
[5] Boondock Saints quote

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Malaysia Epilogue

After the banquet and saying our good-byes Sam and I were chauferred the four hour drive down to the Singapore airport--arriving around 3:30am in plenty of time for our 7:15 flight to Tokyo...then Seattle then Denver. Our Malaysian friends gave us a couple of gifts--an engraved peuter plate and a handcrafted Maylasian jewlry stand for the wives that Sam and I had to open for security and to travel. Of course we gave our wives gifts the very best treatment on the way home.

Sam and I have had some great trips over the past 20 years but we have never experienced such consistent and gracious hospitality. Thanks Richard, Piek See, and Richard.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Malaysia Day 8

Today we had a wonderful Externally Focused Conference in Kaula Lumpur. Around 250 pastors and leaders met from 9-3 today (a public holiday) to hear Sam and me talk about externally focused church and community transformation. One church leader said starting in June their 100 cell groups will engage their communities with kingdom kindness.

There are a number of reasons Sam and I are impressed with the importance and strategic place Malaysia may have for the world. First, it is a very prosperous country. I think we've all seen pictures of the Petronas Twin Towers--the two tallest buildings in the world from 1998-2004. Last night we went out to dinner and saw them up close! Wow--stainless steel and glass and a real work of art. Second, Malaysia is a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic and multi-religious country--which may be a precursor to what most nations will be in 50 years. Malaysia is small enough (~28m) that it can serve as a laboratory for kingdom transformation. And what works here can spread to all of Asia. Because one of the common languages is English it is easier to travel and make a contribution here. And last (as if we haven't said it enough) Sam and I are thoroughly impressed with Richard, Simon and Piek See. They are very well connected and have a passion / talent for this type of work. They have also introduced us to

a number of pastoral, NGO and business leaders. This evening we will attend a graduation banquet for those who have completed the Million Leaders Mandate training. Everything is so well organized. One other thing, we are very impressed with the worship of this country. Every worship team is passionate and talented. The banquet this evening was saved to be the best for last--over 800 people including business and political leaders showed up to see their friends and family graduate from the leadership classes. Richard even took a love gift offering of over U$ 5K for the people of Myanmar. Pretty amazing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Maylaysia Days 5-7

After leaving Kuala Lumpor to meet for lunch with a group of pastors in Melaka, Friday on the west coast, we then drove 2.5 hours to a city of 250,000 called Kluang. The city was delightful. Our first stop was at the Rail Cafe, the downtown version of the historic coffee stop at the railway station that has been serving great coffee, toast and softboiled eggs to rail passengers since 1938. The most interesting thing about this 3rd generation landmark is that it is run by committed believers who have produced generations of pastors and committed believers. After settling in our hotel (without Internet) we had dinner at Barney's Pizza with a bunch of pastors. Barney is part of the coffee family who lived in San Diego and involved in Calvary Chapel.

One of the great folks we met was Jit who is the youth pastor of the Agape Presbyterian Church. Jit was on Wayne Cordiero's staff for 15 years at New Hope Church in Honolulu. He has 400 youth from the community playing sports every Saturday and has a great vision for community transformation. Sam and I hung out with him until 1:30am this morning talking ministry.

On Saturday 250 folks from Kluang showed up for the 9:00-4:00 Externally Focused Church / Community Transformation conference and then another 400 showed up for the Million Leaders Mandate graduation dinner. Of course it was a great dinner. Malyasian food is a combination of Malay food, Indian food and Chinese food. Sam and I feel totally bloated but we're hardly complaining.

This morning after coffee and toast and a local dish at the original Rail Cafe, we drove back to Kuala Lumpor and met at TGIF's for lunch with Teresa Kok, a Christian Parliment member who was re-elected to her third term. Richard spoke of what he and the team were doing with Marketplace Leadership Center and Million Leaders Mandate as well as what they are trying to do with externally focused churches and nation building. It was really one of those divine apointments as Teresa talked openly about the needs of the people and how the church could help. She told how as a young school girl, as part of her Catholic education, she and other youth went and lived among the poor of Malaysia. It was there she decided she wanted a career in public service. When we talked about mobilizing cell groups in missional ministry, she said theat 50 such groups could change the city!

So our days here just get better. Malaysia is in a very unique position in the world. It is one of those countries that is racially, religiously and linguistically diverse that is small enough where believers can really make a kingdom difference for all peoples. And Sam and I feel that the three key leaders (Richard, Simon and Pic See) who will train 2500 leaders around the country in the next few years, are setting the stage for God to do something special in this country.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Malaysia Day 4

Things just get better. The pastors' lunch today in Kuantan was attended by 30 pastors / leaders each eager to hear more about being externally focused. They were excited as they began to envision how they could love and serve their community with good deeds and good news. The team that has brought Sam and me here to Malaysia is an incredible group. I don't think I've ever worked with three leaders with more capacity than these three people--Richard Rajoo, Simon Locke, and Ooi Piek See (Pixie)--all come from extremely successful careers in the business world but find changing lives much more exciting. Each week they drive over a thousand miles to train leaders. They visit every city they work in two times each month. It's no wonder leaders are so responsive to what they do. They are incredibly connected. This evening for dinner we are meeting with the president of a university, a Deputy Director General of Government and the Exectutive Director of a major non-profit organization.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Malaysia Day 3

This morning we flew from Alor Star down to Kuala Lumpur and met up with a long-time friend Geoff Gorsuch. Geoff and I were new campus ministry directors at the University of Colorado back in 1976--he with the Navigators and I with Campus Crusade. Geoff flew up from Singapore to hang out for a couple of days. We ate at a Texas barbecue place for lunch and then drove to the East Coast to the city of Kuantan. After checking into the hotel, we drove to tonight's meeting venue--Over 400 people from twelve or more churches showed up for dinner and the meetings. It was quite amazing and Sam and I sense that God is doing something special in Malaysia. Richard said they told the pastors of the city that this was going to be "the year of externally focused." Simply amazing.

Tomorrow we'll meet w/ the pastors of Kuantan. They have been in Million Leaders Mandate training for just a couple of months but are eager to learn more.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Malaysia Day 2

Day 2 is off to a good start. We started at 8:30 with worship and then Sam spoke for a couple of hours on "To Transform a City." Sam was at his best. This is the pattern that we will use throughout our time here. I will be speaking on externally focused church and Sam will take the city material. After the session ended we broke for lunch with a group of pastors--a great time of fellowship and always a delight. One of the three pastors who hosted this event is Kuilan Suppiah from Trinity Baptist Church here in Alor Star. His church is very externally focused with a childcare program of over 1000, a home for elderly, another home for disabled children. He told Sam and me that recently they took a team to one of the indigines tribes and installed two toilets and a washroom. Good deeds created good will and good will paved the way for good news with many coming to faith.

The day only got better. Sam and I showed up in the hotel ballroom for the graduation exercises for whose who had completed the first year of John Maxwell's Million Leaders Mandate curriculum. Simon and Ratna Locke, Richard Rajoo a Ooi Piek See have done a stellar job, flying up twice a month to Alor Star training these folks. Everything about the banquet was awesome--seven course meal--the worship group--lead by Mjr. John, fighter pilot for royal malaysian airforce, who after leading some powerful worship music broke into John Denver's "Country Roads" and had the people singing alon. Sam turned and said to me, "It doesn't get better than this." I'll post more pics and video when i have more time. have to catch the plane.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Sam Williams and I are in Malaysia for the next week or so doing a number of externally focused church conferences. Lots of cool stuff happening already. Malaysia is a country of 27 million people and a 60% Muslim population with a mere 9% of Christians believers really have to live differently to make their light shine. We will be speaking at 4 externally focused conferences.

I know we got one thing right... We followed Jesus example and "ate the Col's" (Luke 1) for lunch. It was great. Malaysians love to see thier guests put away the groceries. Sam and I just hope we still fit into the shirts they gave us to wear tomorrow night.

The first session went well...and didn't end until 10:45 pm, which, they explained was quite typical. Nearly 190 showed up in Alor Star for our opening two sessions on EFC. Sam will finish with two messages on city reaching...then lunch w/ pastors and a banquet tomorrow evening. We returned to our hotel rooms to find a great fruit basket (with very exotic fruit) along w/ a few other treats. Our hosts have been more than gracious and are a kick to hang out with. They really see externally focused churches as integral to all they are trying to do.

Friday, May 09, 2008

College Graduation

Today was a big day for our family. Jeff graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Kacey graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. We started with Jeff's graduation at the CU Stadium and then went to the Glen Miller Ballroom for his department celebration. Although Ashlie officially graduated in December, she donned her cap and gown for the event. We couldn't be more proud of the both of them. It's been a long haul for them with Jeff being gone to Iraq and all. They both put themselves through school and graduated with honors. Of course grandson Gentry had to run around like Ralphie the Buffalo.

We're also so proud of Kacey graduating from Northern Colorado. She has been such a joy and yesterday was no exception. She has worked hard, and also worked her way through school since she and Erik were married. Liz and I just basqued (or is it basked...I know we're not from the Pyrenese region) in the day that we've had.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Competition and Collaboration

Last Sunday on the Wally Park bus from the airport to the parking lot I read the following story in a 2-day old USA Today. I'm sure its been on the blogosphere and on Youtube but I wanted to capture it here. The story is about a young woman softall player from Western Oregon University. It is worth the read....or watch this video

Home run hitter gets lift from opponents
Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University did something Saturday she had never done in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence Saturday in a softball game in Ellensburg, Wash. But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.
She crawled to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates helped her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch-runner could be called in and the homer would count as a single.
Then members of the Central Washington University team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases so the three-run homer would count — contributing to their elimination from the playoffs.
When the umpire said there was no rule against it, Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Tucholsky's legs and she put her arms over their shoulders. The three headed around the bases, stopping to let Tucholsky touch each base with her uninjured leg.
"Mallory asked me which leg was the one that hurt," Tucholsky said. "I told her it was my right leg, and she said, 'OK, we're going to drop you down gently and you need to touch it with your left leg,' and I said, 'OK, thank you very much.' "
Tucholsky's injury, a possible torn ligament, will sideline her for the rest of the season. Western Oregon won 4-2. (From: http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/sports/20080501/c13_update01.art.htm ) Photo from USA Today.

I think there is a lesson here regarding the new possibilities when we go beyond competition to collaboration...... I've got to think about the implications of this.

Externally Focused Conference Day 2

The Externally Focused Conference was a delight for me. As solid as each of the plenary, breakout and intensive speakers were, I think many folks would say the conference was great because of the people in the room--who they got to hang out with at the breaks, meals...and while talks were going on. Think about it...Rick McKinley, Robert Lewis, Amy Sherman, Don Simmons, Jack Jezreel, Alvin Bibbs, Laurie Beshore, Rick Rusaw, et al...and that doesn't include the passionate attendees.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Hannah Beck

After the conference Liz and I joined Robert Lewis at the Becks. Hannah Beck played this beautiful Celtic piece on the front porch.

Externally Focused Conference Day 1

The first day of the Externally Focused Church Conference was great. On Sunday night we had a bunch of speakers and friends over dinner--brisket and chicken that Don Wilcox put cooked since I was just returning from Houston late on Sunday afternoon.
Our two plenary speakers, Alvin Bibbs of Willow Creek and Rick McKinley from Imago Dei were just great. This was preceded by five pre-conference intensives (of 3.5 hours each) where participants could go deeper in one area. I taught Becoming an Externally Focused Church, Doug Pollock led the charge on Irresistible Evangelism, Amy Sherman on Going Deeper, Don Simmons on Volunteers and Jack Jezreel on Mercy and Justice. Great feedback on all sessions.