Guatemala Tour 2014 Rewards

inn ministries infographic

Jennifer and I are hitting Guatemala for the next ten days, and we’re so excited to go back to a people and a ministry that deeply touched our hearts. Not only will we be able to re-connect with the four children that we sponsor, but we’ll be ministering before some incredible and diverse audiences. Even since Inn Ministries published this infographic, we’ve been notified that another school has invited us to come speak.

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Connect

A few fun ways to engage with us on this trip:

• Get constant visuals via our Instagram feeds (Christopher’s / Jennifer’s).

• Stay tuned here for long-form updates.

Invest $5, $15 or $25 to Inn Ministries.

Sponsor a child for $30/mos.

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Rewards

Giving should be fun. So let’s have some!

Shout Out Pics: For those of you who chose to invest into the Inn, Jennifer and I’ll post a customized picture just for you that will hit Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and on our blogs. Mine will probably be whacky; Jennifer’s will be thoughtful. Mine will be random; Jennifer’s will be intentional.

Us and Your Child: If you chose to sponsor a child, Jennifer and I will post a picture of us with your sponsor child. This also applies to anyone who already sponsors a child through the Inn. Again, leave a comment and give us your child’s name. This is a beautiful way to connect with your kids through us—we’ll be your eyes, but you’re still the heart.

Thanks for for being an integral part of changing culture with us.

ch:

Planes

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Love ‘em. Dad flew them. Brother-in-law flies them. My sister works in them. And my boys have a pile of toy versions of them.

I almost think we males have something built into our DNA that’s attracted to defying gravity. Something that longs to go aloft. And I won’t just relegate that to men; women clearly have a similar tendency, though maybe it gets lost a little with all the engines and props and aircraft fuel and wires. (Though, as Dottie proves, flight mechanic chicks are pretty cute).

Still, perhaps in it’s in all of us to fly. To do the thing we can not do intrinsically without assistance.

So to watch a full-length feature film on planes that are inanimate-objects-animate is pretty spectacular. In fact, Disney’s ability to capture the sensations, sights and sounds of flight was exceptionally enjoyable. Even Joe, my bro-in-law, who—along with every other professional pilot—is quick to note when Hollywood butchers the mechanics of aviation.

“It was surprisingly accurate,” he told me as we walked out of the theatre with my kids. “Laws of aerodynamics and all. That was so refreshing.”

If I hadn’t seen Cars and Cars 2, the character arcs would have been less predictable. But the obvious (and intentional) references to the world’s genesis were clever. And certainly the Kilmer/Edwards tip of the hat to Top Gun was classy, and thoroughly fun to anyone who grew up with that movie in the 80’s. (So glad Goose never really died. That marker dye in the water haunted me until last night).

While not my favorite animated movie, Planes certainly has first place in capturing the boyhood dream of flight, and will be played and replayed no less than fourteen million times in my house.

By my boys, of course.

ch:

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YouTube Videos from Rex’Quix

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Today we had the incredible privilege of heading up into the mountains over 5,000 feet and visiting a home which is used weekly for church. The husband and wife, Reginaldo “Canche” and Luky, clear out the few possessions they have and preach the Gospel to those that live in the Mayan village of Rex’quix. Despite their dirt floors and sparse furnishings, the selflessness of this couple is overwhelming, and extremely convicting.

Apart from hearing their story, and experiencing their infectious love for Jesus, Jennifer and I were both captivated by their children. We were there for less than three minutes when I look over and see Jenny holding a little girl. Rebekah clung to Jenny’s neck tightly as my wife wept. It was a precious few minutes that eventually turned into laughter as an impromptu fashion show started.

Shortly after, I jumped in with my senior pastor, Kirk Gilchrist, as he started playing with a small group of little girls that clung to the side of the house, spying on us. His son Joseph ended up filming me as we played, a memory which I won’t soon forget.

My life has already been changed in so many ways, I can’t imagine being challenged even more. But I was today, simply by playing with children in a mountain village I never even knew existed. Such is the Kingdom.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus of Nazareth
Matthew 18:3

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sponsor a child inn ministries

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Exterior view of Canche and Luky’s house.

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Wide angle view of the house and surrounding hillside.

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Interior of their home; room used for church meetings.

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Canche and Luky’s kitchen.

Sometimes The News Gets It Right

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The news has always been riffled with negative headlines. Because it sells. Too bad.

It’s quite depressing when you scroll through a seemingly unending list of humanity’s worst efforts — political, tyrannical, and otherwise. I check the news in some for at least twice a day, and have grown accustomed to “insulating” my heart from certain aspects of what I read.

But every now and then the news lets a piece slip through that you hope reflects the rest of humankind. You know the stories. The ones that tug on your heart and reaffirm your secret suspicions that not all humanity is attempting to dismember their neighbors.

Thank God the news got this one right (or mostly right, as Adam Owens said today on his Instagram feed).

Meet Adam and Karen Owens, a daddy and mommy that I’ve been “friends” with for over a year on Twitter and Instagram — and their amazing children. ABC has a piece up on their front page, and I’m hoping it gets a lot of traffic. Why?

I believe in promoting things that reflect Kingdom values.

I believe in admiring and elevating Godly parents.

I believe the world needs everyday heroes to shake us out of our lethargy.

I believe we need real heroes.

To Adam and Karen, they would dismiss my assertion that they’re heroes, probably because they would claim that this is how Christians should act every day. And they’re right. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are heroes — by definition, admirable examples.

I love following Adam on Instagram for one simple fact: he’s the epitome of what it means to be Christ-like. He’s a regular guy, working a regular job, dealing with his “everyday stuff” like me and anyone else, and yet choosing to faithfully support his family and glorify Jesus. That’s the Kingdom in action, and that’s the kind of example we need — faults and all — to be promoting to our teens. Heck, that’s the kind of example I need. People like this keep me going and keep me inspired. That’s the beauty of the Body of Christ, and technology allowing us to connect as the global Church.

Adam and Karen, well done. Keep going. You’re an inspiration to so many, but most importantly to your beautiful children, and to heaven itself.

Merry Christmas,

ch:

Adam’s Website: adamowens.com
Karen’s Website: gavinowens.com
Karen’s Instagram

Wonder Wonderfully

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When we’re little, we see everything with wonder.

When we grow up, we see things and wonder.

When we’re old, we wonder how much we missed.

When we’ve arrived, it’s wonderful.

Seeing my parents hide their grandchildren’s Easter eggs and Easter baskets around our property yesterday was a real treat; it seemed they were having more fun than my children.

Which they were.

They knew both the delight of discovery and the joy of staging the game. Superior perspective always affords the best experiences. That’s why it’s worth holding out for.

ch:

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Buddies Make Movie Tickets

Buddies do things together.

They make tree forts, play basketball, and go swimming in the river.

Buddies help each other, too.

They pull out splinters, fix bike chains, and make movie tickets for each other when their parents are too busy to take them to the real thing.

But when buddies grow up, they become “friends.”

While the term of endearment may change, the need for their nearness doesn’t. Tree forts become cook outs and bike chains become marriage advice. If anything, we need our buddies even more as adults than we did as children.

God never intended us to be solely self-dependent or self-reliant. Nor was our birth family alone supposed to be the end-all solution for companionship; it’s interesting that Jesus himself is alluded to as a “friend” that’s superior in calibre to that of a birth brother (Prov. 18:24).

While I have positive occasional contact with my childhood buddies, most of the men in my life today are products of providence and of choice cultivated over the last ten years or so.

And I am very blessed indeed. We’ve traded peanut butter and jelly for dinning room entrees, BMX bikes for minivans, and Ataris for iPhones. But the genuine care for one another’s health and wellbeing hasn’t changed at all.

Maybe it’s just stronger.

To all the men close to me today: thanks for being my pals. I couldn’t do this without you. Nor would I want to.

If there are buddies in your world who’ve helped you navigate and enjoy the waters of life, make sure to thank them this week. I’m sure you’ll find they’re just as grateful.

Who knows; maybe they’ll even do a real movie with you just for fun. ch:

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Operation Christmas Child Warehouse

My sister Natalie just sent me pics and video of her and her husband Joe working at the OCC processing plant in North Carolina.

Given how much our church participates in this program every Fall, you’d think I’d know the stats on how many boxes go through this place. All I can tell you is, it’s a lot.

So here’s to the generous people who’ve donated time and money to make this venture what it is to millions of children each year. ch:

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Nostalgia

nos·tal·gia/nä?stalj?/
Noun:
A sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

This photo, shot earlier this year in our red room, is stunning to me for two reasons.

The first is the moment it captured. Judah’s back is turned, implying I snuck in unannounced. Which I did. As if we’re spying on a private discovery-jam session. The depth of field, the lighting through the window, and the detailed simplicity all contribute to a well composed image.

The second is that this is a near perfect recreation of me…30-years ago. A different house, a different guitar (also belonging to my mother, as is the one in the shot to his mommy), and a captivating fascination with making an instrument emanate sound through simple touch.

One of the most incredible anomalies that occurs in parenting is the wonder of seeing yourself manifest – most often unannounced and uncultivated – in the lives of your children.

Reproduction isn’t just an act, it’s a process. One that creates legacy.

I can only insist through personal experience that the heavenly Father feels the same way we do. Seeing His own nature, His own character, likes, and habits suddenly appear in His children has got to be thrilling. And rewarding.

And makes Him proud. Simply because we’ve been reproduced. After Him.

The worthwhile questions to ask? “What God-traits of my Father am I exhibiting naturally?” (Because I have His nature now – 2 Peter 1:4). “How and to whom am I helping reproduce after Christ?”

The beauty of seeing myself in Judah is that I’m not looking back. I’m enjoying the moment, and looking ahead.

The danger of nostalgic emotions is letting them dupe you into believing yesterday was better than today. Yesterday could never be better than today because the beauty of the present is hidden within free will; the past has already been decided and is dated. It has neither the power nor the potential of the present.

So choose wisely. Your future nostalgia depends on it. ch:

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Celebrating Good Men

Negative sells. That’s why we subconsciously think dads are dead beats by default in the news world.

The opposite is true, however, at least in my little corner of the map.

So here’s to highlighting two amazing men that humbly represent manhood to their generation, two men who’ll never make the 6 o’clock news simply for being great: Jason Clement (center) and Nathan Reimer (right).

Men who endeavor to be faithful husbands; who care deeply about the physical and spiritual wellbeing of their wives and children; who work more than their share of long hours in order to be proven good stewards; who are faithful friends, spanning time and distance; and who’ve resolved to point their children toward Jesus by first submitting their own lives before God as living examples of obedience, most often feeling they’ve missed the mark when the Father is thrilled that they’re even trying.

We’re charged in Titus 1 to be “lovers of good men.” And I’m honored to call them two of my very dearest friends. So glad they could finally meet yesterday.

Negative may sell, but it’s forgotten. Positive leaves legacy. ch:

CELEBRATE A GOOD MAN YOU KNOW. LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THEM.

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The F- Word

Somalia headlines from September 5th 2011:

Last night I was scraping the unused portion of a can of refried beans into the trash.

The trash.

Which leads me to One.

I’m a subscriber. Because I think there are certain efforts – regardless of your politics – that deserve our attention and our money.

I was first assaulted by the pictures coming out of Somalia a few weeks ago. I even made a file on my desktop of them. Just to berate myself. Intentionally.

Today’s letter from Bono via the one.org mailing list was especially moving. As was the video on the “F- word.”

“Famine is man-made.”

Certainly one of the more powerful branding lines.

Watch the video. Sign the petition.

It’s it worth it for the 30,000 children we can never get back. ch:


Made From Scratch

And then there was a new person.

I love meeting people. All over the world. Some formal introductions with significant long-term ramifications; others simple nods or handshakes, first names only, soon forgotten upon exiting the parking lot.

But it’s another thing to meet a person when no one else has ever met them.

Because that person was made from scratch.

The fact that – in the original intention of it all – God designed human beings to be created out of love is fundamentally grand. What could be simpler? What could be more extravagant?

That God would trust the power of perpetuating the human race to the human race.

And then there was Levi. ch:

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When Succession Becomes Legacy

On the heels of yesterday’s post about Apple’s attention to detail, came the historic business news that Steve Jobs had resigned as Apple’s CEO in a letter to his Board.

Certainly, Jobs’ hand on the helm did more for Apple than most companies could ever dream of. But I was very curious to read his entire letter, as my father always quoted King Solomon in saying, “It is more important how you leave a place than how you enter it.”

In his letter Jobs is as concise and efficient as expected, soft-spoken and honoring. But there was one section in particular that caught my eye:

As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.

And then it hit me: what’s my succession plan?

The fact is, we’re all going to be fazed out. Terminated. Pink-slipped. Whether in our job or in life, someone – or something – is going to replace us.

The question must be asked then, are we planning for it? Or when it happens, will it catch everyone off guard, including–

(You may not even be able to finish your own sentence).

Good leaders plan for their end, and position replacements accordingly. That’s just good leadership. Because you care about the people and the entities you’re leaving behind. Or else you wouldn’t have risen to that place of stewardship to begin with. (Notice I don’t place Gaddafi in either the leadership or stewardship departments).

Within the first year of our marriage I took out a life insurance policy. Whether I was replaced by another loving husband or not, as a leader I wanted the provisional need felt in my absence to be taken care of. That’s good leadership.

As a Youth Pastor, I know it’s not my call to fill that role forever, so I’m actively preparing the guy that will replace me as I move into my next season of local church leadership.

And as a Christian on the earth, one advancing the Kingdom for God’s glory, I’m training up my children in the ways they should go, believing they will do more, win more, believe more, travel more, love more, live more, and see more for Jesus than I ever could.

In light of those ideas, preparing a succession plan becomes a joy. Because I’m leaving a legacy, not a position.

Is yours in place? ch:

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SuperCity Kickoff

KIDSfest kicked-off last night with record attendance. And it was such an honor to finally be a part of!

Normally during this time frame, Jennifer and I are off somewhere in the world, so we’re never around for New Life’s annual VBS week. But this year we wanted to stay home and support our kids, which means Pastor Leah Woodkirk also wrangled us into leading worship. In truth, it’s something Jennifer and I’ve wanted to do for years, and this time around it just worked. What fun! We even wrote a theme song to go with the all-original curriculum, SuperCity.

My hat is off to Leah and her staff for putting on a truly memorable and life-changeing event for our children. Now more than ever, as a father, I appreciate their hard work: Evangeline was at the kitchen table this morning memorizing scripture – using her iPhone to record my voice. That’s not cheating, is it? ch:

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Wall Art

Did you ever have a class that frustrated you in school? How about a particular teacher? Maybe their view on things differed from yours. Or maybe their treatment of a certain subject or student really got on your nerves.

If you’re like me, those memories have lingered with you.

One of my most frustrating seasons during high school was in art class. Now mind you, I loved art. And I really had a soft spot for all of my art teachers. Even the crazies. (I know you had a few, too). But it wasn’t art class itself that bothered me. It was subjective versus objective analysis that did.

I was a late bloomer in math. But once I bloomed, I was a straight “A” student. Unusual for a right-brained kid. And when the teacher graded the tests, a problem was either solved correctly, or it wasn’t. But in art, the grading seemed very subjective. I remember getting incredibly frustrated when my teacher would give one student a fabulous mark on a piece that I thought was “all right,” while the student who produced something truly exceptional was handed a “C.”

What?!

That’s because art, in its most simple form, is subjective.

Yeah, I know a particular teaching (and resulting assignment) can focus on a specific rule or technique. Rule of thirds. Pointillism. Contrast. Minimalism. But at the end of the day, art, unlike math, has no right answers. It simply is. And so the very notion that a teacher could pass or fail a student by what simply is drove me bonkers. Later on I would learn that my art teachers graded very much like God does, but not nearly as well.

Most of us want God to grade life like math. Right or wrong. Pass or fail. Black or white. I want God to be fair. For bad people to get what they deserve, and good people more so. The only problem is that God is not fair.

But He is just.

Justice is doing the right thing for the right person at the right time. And the only person who ever knows that perfectly is the Holy Spirit. The inherent human problem with administering justice, unlike the Holy Spirit, is that we’re not very good at delivering it. Because we never have all the information all the time, now matter how much we think we do. But God always does.

The wall art hanging around my house is a perfect example of this.

The crumpled, ripped, and drooled on papers lining the refrigerator doors and walls of my house would last about 5 seconds under the scrutiny of any art museum curator. “Cute” is about all I’d get. That’s fair. But it’s not just. Because the museum curator has no idea that they were made by my kids, and as a result, have incredible intrinsic value. To me.

Regardless of what the world perceives, from your motives to your efforts to your productivity, they will always have limited information. Always. There is an all-seeing God, however, who doesn’t miss a beat. He sees it all, and He knows you. You’re offering Him your time, your talent, your treasure. From your marriage to your attitude with your boss, He knows. And trust me, whatever you’re offering to Him, no matter what the world’s standards are, it means the world to Him.

And it’s hanging on His fridge right now. ch: