Pumpkin Spice Latte's and Assurance of Faith

Have you noticed that the Pumpkin Spice Latte returned to Starbucks this past week?

Fall may have arrived in some parts of the country, but it still seems far off here in Orange County, California. I have to admit, I enjoy the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte each fall whether the leaves change or not. In fact, one day this week I woke up thinking about the delightful latte and planned out my day around when I would get one before I even got out of bed. Clearly I was excited about the latte’s grand return!

The excitement got to my head though in unexpected ways. I started thinking about what might happen if I woke up anticipating serving others each day with the same excitement I had over a cup of pumpkin goodness? Or what my day might look like if I planned it around ways I could encourage my co-workers or be salt and light in a dry and dark world? Here’s the kicker thought I had that day: what would my life look like if every day I woke up thinking that today I would meet Jesus?!

Of course I didn’t expect to ponder such heavy thoughts while in route to a cup of sweet pumpkin joy.

A John Stott Tribute Video

Billy Graham responded to the recent death of Evangelist John Stott by saying, "The evangelical world has lost one of its greatest spokesmen, and I have lost one of my close personal friends and advisors. I look forward to seeing him again when I go to Heaven."

This video tribute to John Stott provides a glimpse into his life and and ministry. 


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Rescued from Hell on Disneylands Doorstep

"Once we started looking for it - and almost stopped ignoring it - we started finding it everywhere."  - Sergeant Craig Friesen, head of Anaheim's vice unit. 

The CNN Freedom Project site headlined an incredible story of justice and bravery today. The setting of the story told is geographically in my backyard. Literally steps from the “the happiest place on Earth” (Disneyland, Anaheim), a 17-year old girl was trapped hell on Earth; child prostitution.  Friesen, working as an undercover, arranged to meet the child at the Disneyland Hotel for what she thought was a typical day in her life servicing “Johns” with sex. God had a different plan in store for her today! Friesen and his team from Anaheim PD showed up, arrested the pimp and treated the girl, and another girl they were able to locate, as victims of human trafficking and not as criminal prostitutes.  

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Justice: Worship that Matters to God

Next Saturday, August 13th I'll be at Calvary Chapel Chino Valley church in Ontario, California. Since February of this year, I've joined forces with a handful of others to plan and prepare for a free conference we're calling Justice: Worship that Matters to God. The inspiration behind the event stems largely from Mark Labberton's book, The Dangerous Act of Worship.

The Dangerous Act of Worship is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging books I have read in regards to my own Christian walk and my understanding of what it means to worship God with my life. 

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Ramadan: Deny Yourself

Years ago I worked with a woman who fasted for one month out of the year. I didn't understand then, why, when our lunch break would come, she would drink a juice or water while I stuffed my face with that days craving. Now I know she was a practicing Muslim keeping Ramadan, the annual month long fast.

Ramadan is August 1 - August 30th. Thirty days of prayer for the Muslim World is a Christian international web based organization that encourages Christians around the world to pray specifically for Muslims to come to know Christ during the 30 day fast. 

Click here to see the 30-days of prayer August 1st prayer guide. 

Nataka is a Muslim woman who I spent a few hours with at her mosque in Cambridge, MA. I stumbled into the Mosque, unannounced and hoping to ask someone there what objections the Muslim faith has to Christianity. At the time, I was taking a class on Islam that helped prepare me for what answers I might hear. I didn't plan for this to happen, but as I was arriving so were a lot of taxis. Taxi drivers got out of their cars and began to greet one another and laugh together as they entered the mosque. I looked at the time and duh; it was time for the noon prayer that day. A little unsure of how I would be treated upon walking up to the main door unannounced and with my frizzy hair flowing down and exposed. It was the Imam who first welcomed me inside. After slipping my shoes off, he directed me to a staircase where a young woman, Nataka, was waiting to greet me.

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The Help

Walking out of the movie theater I must heard “that was so good” a few dozen times. I admit I said it myself walking out with my friends. Actually, I’m pretty sure all six of us said, “so good” to each other as the credits rolled on the big screen.

The Help.

The movie will official release to theaters in Aug. so this was a special sneak peak viewing.

By now you may have seen the official movie trailer for The Help and it’s quit possible you’ve read the book that was an overnight sensation by Kathryn Stockett. It has also held an attractive place on New York’s Best Seller list for quit some time since it’s publishing release in 2010.

The Help takes place in Jackson, Mississippi just as the civil rights movement during the early 1960’s began to gain momentum and grab the attention of national news. The book is written from the point of view of three exceptional characters.

Skeeter is a recent college graduate who wants to become a journalist. She’s returned home to her family’s cotton plantation. Skeeter grew up very close to her family’s maid, Constantine. But when she returned from Ole Miss, she learned that Constantine was no longer employed by her family and she sets out to get answers as to why. Skeeter lands a job writing the Miss Myrna column, a domestic help column she knows nothing about it. She elicits the help of Aibileen, her friend Elizabeth’s maid to help her with the column and soon discovers that Aibileen knew Constantine and the search to know why she has gone continues.

As Skeeter makes her way back into the lives of her childhood friendships with Elizabeth and Hilly, she discovers a growing chasm between white people like herself and the black maids they employ. What concerns Skeeter is that her so called friends are part of the problem. Hilly wants Skeeter to write about a new initiative to require the black help to use a separate bathroom because they “carry different diseases than the whites” and its jut not sanitary to be sharing toilets. Skeeter begins to wonder how Aibileen and other black maids feel about this and so begins her thoughts of writing a book telling the stories of the black maids to gain their perspective on working for white families. She starts by asking Aibileen to tell her stories.

Aibileen is a middle aged woman with a heart of gold. Aibileen has raised 17 white children in her service as a black maid. She lost her twenty-four year old son Treelore a few years back in a work accident while his white bosses looked the other way.  It was her close friend Minny who kept her going when all she wanted to do was die. It took some convincing but Aibileen finally agrees to help Skeeter with her book although it’s very risky in Jackson.

Minny has been working as a maid since she was fourteen. Her mamma was a maid too. Minny has some spunk in her. Being the best cook in town has put her in hot demand for maid services but her sassy mouth has been reason for trouble after trouble staying employed. That is until she meets Celia, a white woman living in a great big house outside of Jackson and who clearly doesn’t understand the rules whites and blacks are to abide by in the home of a white people. Celia likes to eat at the same table with Minny and talk Minny’s ear off in the kitchen while she’s cooking for Celia’s husband.

A series of events unfold as Skeeter becomes more and more uncomfortable with the way Hilly and Elizabeth treat the maids. Secretly she meets regularly with Aibileen, Minny and other women who have stepped forward to share their stories of working for less than minimum wage, six days a week for a white family.

Don’t worry. I’ll stop there with details. I don’t want to give the movie or the book away. As I left the theater and said goodnight to my friends, I began to ask myself what makes this movie “so good” and why did it seem every person in that theater felt the same way?

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Tags | Film

Cape Town 2010: A Short Documentary

I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what all took place at the 2010 Lausanne Congress gathering and I hope you do too. 

Ray of Hope: Suhana's Story

The International Justice Mission has released a new short film in which, Suhana, a young human trafficking victim in India, has transformed into a survivor of the slave trade; not once, but twice. This is her miracle:


God and the LAPD

Having never physically seen God I can't say whether or not he wears a uniform and carries a badge. However, I can say that God showed up in the LAPD chief of police's office today and changed some hearts.

Here's what happened this week:

Monday: the LAPD announced that due to budget cuts the Los Angeles Police Department Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was forced to disband. 

Tuesday: word spread among the anti-human trafficking activist in the southern California area and they rallied.

Wednesday: emails, facebook, and tweets blew up with the urgent request to countless individuals to email the LAPD chief of police directly urging him to reconsider the shut down of the unit and requests for online petitioners signatures went out.

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Going on a Short-Term Mission Trip this Summer?

Don’t blink. Summer is a mere 3 weeks away officially although I’d venture to say many of you have already ushered in thoughts of summer vacation, warmer weather and more daylight in a day.

Summer is not only a great time for BBQ’s, beach volley ball and dozing off in the afternoon sun, it’s also the busiest time of the year for American churches to send out their teams of short-term missionaries on trips around the world.

Groups will be building homes, restoring others, teaching VBS lessons, playing soccer with children at orphanages and singing songs of praise in a number of dialects and languages unknown.

Recently I stumbled across a presentation I gave to a handful of short-term mission teams headed out to a number of different countries in the summer of 2005.

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I drink coffee, read books, and travel. I’ve been able to drink coffee and discuss books with friends all over the world, simply because someone built a bridge and I made it east of the Mississippi and beyond. For this reason, I love bridges.