Thursday, September 25, 2008

We interrupt this blog series...

...to bring you some news from Gospel For Asia, the organization I work with in India that builds schools for the Dalit children. If you've been to a concert, you may have heard me talk about them. At any rate, I got this email from one of the women on staff yesterday. These are our brothers and sisters. Prayers appreciated.

It's been an extremely sobering time for us here at the office, we are experiencing something that, apparently we have never seen before in India which is an organized attack against Christians by the fanatical religious groups who believe India should be an entirely Hindu nation.

This all happened with the murder of a leader of the VHP (a radical fundamentalist Hindu group). The media and other radicals have shifted the blame to Christians, and now they are constructing organized attacks against our churches and colleges.

The other night we were praying for an all girls college who - as we found out from an urgent report - were surrounded by a mob... The people are so scared right now, many of them are hiding in jungles and have no idea where their families are.

There's some information here that I found really helpful in better understanding the situation and of course, our website also has what's going on more from the perspective of our specific work.


Here's some stories of what's happening, not in the media but from an independent Christian blogger.

Religious violence in Orissa explained in this video

Monday, September 22, 2008

#14 Things I Love

#14: Peter Kim

Who is Peter Kim? Don't worry -- I'll get to that. But first, I want to tell you what makes me love him.

Last night, my pastor (Dr. Tim Keller) raised an interesting question: "Why do Christians want other people to become Christians? Why can't they just mind their own business and let other people believe whatever they want?"

Then, being the smart man that he is, he offered this response: Jesus yields explosive, life-changing joy. Explosive, life-changing joy. It is emotionally inconsistent, and possibly even unhealthy, not to share that and to want others to experience it.

Maybe you watched a film that moved you or read a book that stirred your soul. Most likely, you left wanting those you know and care about to see it, you wanted their souls to be stirred, too. At the very least, you wanted to tell them the plot over lunch and see if it awakened in them the very thing it awakened in you. Now imagine that the film took on an eternal weight and power, and that you could carry its joy with you not just forever, but for today, too -- in traffic, on the crowded platform waiting for the delayed train, in your chaotic office working for an angry boss, to your broken home. That is Jesus. Salvation isn't just for eternity, it's for today.

So when I met Peter Kim, he had that explosive joy thing written all over his face. I was walking through the streets of Seoul, South Korea, with three other Americans when he approached us. He grabbed my hand and introduced himself. Forgetting the language barrier and ignoring social mores, he asked our names, smiled at us, and walked with us for a bit. Then, in the pieces of English that he knew, he asked, "You know Jesus Christ?"

I didn't understand him at first. I had been almost put off by his eagerness. But then I knew: this is my brother. His approach is different than mine, but we are family. My heart warmed toward him instantly. And the joy that propels him to speak to me is the joy that propels me daily. Inevitably, some of us will screw it up. Some of us treat the good news like a blatant threat. But screaming on street corners about hell isn't going to communicate explosive joy. Then again, neither is silence. Peter Kim is working to find the balance, and I commend him for that.

Some may call it infringing on personal boundaries, but I call it love.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

#15 Things I Love

#15: Brunch

I have amassed a collection of Brunch Facts & Myths for your amusement. All facts are factual. All myths are mythical. Money-back guarantee!

Myth: Brunch, being the smooshination (I made the word up) of breakfast and lunch, must by definition occur between breakfast hours and lunch hours.

Fact: Although we didn't invent it, NYC has perfected the art of brunch. And since we're the City That Never Sleeps and our bars stay open til 5am and people can barely drag themselves out of bed on the weekends, our official brunch hours are 10am - 4pm. However, most restaurants start serving brunch at either 11am or noon. Don't ever try to eat brunch before 10am or you will have a hard life.

Myth: "Oh, brunch! You can get that at Waffle House 24-7-365. Or IHOP! I just love IHOP!"

Fact: Seriously? I don't even have time to deal with you right now. Take it back.

Fact: The best way to make the most of brunch is to go in groups of 2-4. More than 4 is too many or you will never get a table in this City. If you're elsewhere, take up to 6 or even 8. But remember that conversation is the true food of brunch. Eww. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. It's true, but still... it makes me feel all Chicken Soup for the Soul or something.

Fact: The best way to order is to do what my friends and I refer to as "A Split." For example, one of us will order an egg/protein dish and the other will order a carb-laden tray of body-killing breads and sugars. Then we split it. That way, we get our carbs and our sweets without having too much of either one. And then we die alone.

Bittersweet Story: My favorite brunch spot in the City has always been a 20-seat hole in the wall called Ninth Street Market. It's a beautiful room with brick walls and a fireplace and fresh flowers on each table. Locals line up an hour early--before the staff even shows up, hoping to get in with the first seating. I had a friend in town for my birthday in May, and he suggested that we go there, but the line seemed too long. Then, somehow, we got in right away. We sat for a couple of hours, talking and drinking coffee and enjoying A Split. The next morning, the owner woke up and didn't want to run a restaurant anymore, so he put all the dishes and chairs on the sidewalk. He fired everyone and put up a "For Rent" sign.

I've had a hard time finding a place I like as much, but I'm not going to stop trying. Every week I'll try out 2 places and see if there are any contenders. If you find yourself in the City on a weekend, drop me an email and I'll tell you my favorite brunch spots!

Friday, September 12, 2008

#16 Things I Love

#16: Blogs

In honor of my 200th post (woooo!!), I am blogging about my love for blogs. How very meta.

I use the Bloglines RSS feeder, and it has ruined me forever. My daily blogroll includes 77 blogs. Some of the news sites update 50+ times a day. I don't read all the posts but I scan at the very least. I know it's a bit of a "choose your news" situation, and that can be scary, but I try to maintain balance and pull from several outlets. I don't want to narrow the scope of my information and exposure so that it only serves to fuel my current viewpoints.

Some of the other things I read about are: new restaurants in NYC, sales in NYC, real estate in NYC, and um... several blogs by other leaders in the church and people in ministry.

What are your favorite blogs?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

#17 Things I Love

#17: Fashion (in honor of Spring Fashion Week in NYC, which is this week!)

I didn't know an ounce about fashion before I moved to NYC. Somehow I got wrapped up with a bunch of models when I first moved to the City, and the information was imparted to me via osmosis.

I'm not a fashion snob, though. Labels don't mean much to me, and I don't need my style to be perceived as expensive (which is one reason I don't buy fake bags in Chinatown). In fact, I'm quite the frugal shopper. I'll shop on eBay or at TJ Maxx and rarely do I pay full price.

I love outfits that are feminine, creative, and well articulated. If it doesn't catch my eye right off, I pass. That's how I happened upon my favorite purchase from the spring. It's weird and it only cost $12, but I will keep it forever. Tada!

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#18 Things I Love

#18: Redemption

Today is a Psalm 38 kind of day. Which is to say -- I am such a broken person in need of God's nearness and help. Even as I sit and type this, I am wrestling with God a bit. I'm not angry with Him -- I'm just tired. I don't really understand a few of the things He is talking to me about, and I don't know what it looks like to put one foot in front of the other when I'm so confused and exhausted.

But I know this: through my tears of frustration, through confusing conversations with Him, through my disobedience and delay, He carries me. His redemptive love is all-encompassing. He never sleeps, He is never frantic, He is never confused or tired. He can do all the things I cannot.

And I need Him more than answers.

Monday, September 08, 2008

#19 Things I Love

#19: New York City

Oh, did you think I wasn't going to mention it? Are you kidding? I can't even make it through a day without several hundred thoughts about how awesome this City is and how blessed I am to live here.

Here's a short video about a day in the City that makes me smile.

My favorite line is "The whirlwind has become a breeze." I love the dual meaning of that. Love it. So true.

And if you are paying close attention, there's a brief shot where you'll see a glimpse of my subway stop and the orange Mud Truck beside it. It's when the screen says "except to return." Which is what I always want to do.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

#20 Things I Love

#20: Paris

This past February, I went to Europe for the first time. I hadn't taken a vacation in eight years, and I happened upon a roundtrip flight to London for $300. My friend Jane took a week off work and we hopped across the pond to visit London. In case you haven't heard, the American dollar is about as strong as a third grade Mathlete, especially when compared to the Pound. But thanks to my dear friend Dovie, we had a flat to stay at for free, thereby making it entirely possible for us to visit. London was incredible!

Since the trip was fairly cheap by most standards of international travel, we decided to buy a $90 flight to Paris for a couple of days. Almost immediately upon landing, I was smitten. Smitten. Jane used her champion internet skills to land us a $100 room at the Paris Hilton. (Hah!) It was a couple of blocks from the Eiffel Tower, so we walked around the tower, across the river, grabbed some food, and slowly made our way back at 4:00 a.m. I despised my body's sleep requirements. I didn't want to waste a moment.

I could talk at length about my time in Paris, but the summary would be this: I cannot wait to go back.

Here are two of favorite photos from the trip. The first is the view from the awning under our hotel. The second is a restaurant that Jane and I ate at one night. It was uber-romantic, which means it totally sucked to be there with each other. Hah!

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Monday, September 01, 2008

#23 - #21 Things I Love

Labor Day Extravaganza!! 200% More Blog for Your Money!

#23: Sermon Podcasts!!!
Some of you only get excited on the rare Tuesday when your favorite artist releases a new album every two years, but *I* get to experience that same excitement every Monday morning when I open up my iTunes account and get the free download of sermons from my favorite churches. Here is my Must Listen List:

- Matt Chandler, The Village Church (Denton, TX)
- Perry Noble, NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC)
- Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church (Seattle, WA)

I also love:

- Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian (New York, NY) - But you have to buy the sermons
- Greg Pinkner, Fellowship E-Free (Knoxville, TN)
- Francis Chan, Cornerstone Community Church (Simi Valley, CA)

#22: Toyota Camry

I'm on my 3rd Camry. I drove the first for 300,000 miles and sold it for $2000 while it was still running perfectly. I drove the second for 200,000 miles and sold it to my niece for $5000 while it was still running perfectly. I'm up to 70,000 miles on my current Camry. The love affair continues. If you know any of the suits at Toyota and wanna tell them to give me a free Camry next time, I'll gladly be the Jared to their Subway commercial. Bring it on.

#21: PedEgg

I longed for the PedEgg when I saw the infomercials, but I refused to buy anything off an infomercial. Eventually they appeared on an endcap at my local Walgreen's and I snatched one up for $9.99 (no shipping)!! Almost instantly my feet were restored to their original beauty... free of the daily grime from New York streets and callouses from runs at the gym. Soft as a baby's... foot. Whee!!