Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christians Sign The Manhattan Declaration

A number of Christian leaders, coming from Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, have issued The Manhattan Declaration, a statement affirming convictions regarding the sanctity of life, the traditional institution of marriage and the value of religious liberty. First signed by 125 clergy and leaders of various ministries, there are now over 19,000 signers (as of this writing).

Taken from the website for the declaration, the following statement summarizes its purpose:
"Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

1. The sanctity of human life.
2. The dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.
3. The rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
If you would like to read the complete declaration click here. To sign it, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Abortion & Woman of Color

Taken from Heartbeat International, here are some disturbing facts about abortion in America and how it disportionately affects women of color:
"Presently, America’s pregnancy help centers are set up in predominantly white, suburban, and small-town communities. This reflects the demographics of our current movement. But long ago, Planned Parenthood explicitly identified its profit centers: "young women, low-income women, and women of color" (Planned Parenthood Plan of Action, 1997). Studies show that 62.5% of Planned Parenthood facilities are located in cities where Blacks represent a higher percentage of the population compared to the overall population of the state. (

Black women, who represent 12% of the female population, suffer 36% of all abortions. Latina women represent 13% of the female population but suffer another 20% of all abortions. Together, they suffer 56% of all abortions yet they represent only 25% of our nation’s population.

Rev. Clenard Childress, Northeast Region President of the Life Education And Resource Network (L.E.A.R.N.), explains the numbers: "The abortion industry kills as many Black people every four days as the Klan killed in 150 years. Since 1973, legal abortion has killed more Blacks than AIDS, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and violent crime combined."
You can read the complete Lifelines article here. Thanks to John Piper for the link to the article.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Teacher Who Cares

In this modern age of technology, many of us have grown accustomed to sending a birthday greeting to our friends and family by posting a short note on their Facebook Wall. It's quick and simple and let's others know that you're thinking of them on their special day.

But what if we were to send an actual card with a handwritten note to all those friends? What if it was over 2,500 people that we did this for every year?

I was encouraged by this story of Dan Stroup, a teacher at a small Christian school in Indianapolis, who sends a birthday card every year to each student he's ever had. As a role model for so many kids that are looking for love and admiration, Stroup's example demonstrates a simple, yet profound, way to show God's love to those students he's had over the years.

You can read the complete story here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hope For Young African American Males

I am currently in Hampton, Virginia with a number of other Campus Crusade staff members as we seek to help develop spiritual movements on the campuses and communities of this region. After spending the morning at Hampton University, a prominent HBCU in southeastern Virginia, several of us spent the afternoon at a local Boys & Girls Club.

If you are not familiar with them, Boys & Girls Clubs provide a safe place for kids to do school work, participate in recreational activities and receive mentoring from caring adults. I spent a few hours with a couple dozen young African American boys and helped some of them with their homework, played some games and talked a little about life.

As I looked upon these young, intelligent, energetic kids, I couldn't help but think what life would be like for them as they entered into their teen years and into adulthood. Even as I was with them I prayed silently that God would steer them from the temptations they were likely to face, protect them from a justice system that often targets them and to provide positive, godly role models in their lives.

I thought back to a post that I wrote about a couple years ago about an article by Phil Jackson, a minister in Chicago who works with at-risk youth, on the current state of young black males in the United States. He states some of the sobering realities facing black boys but offers tangible, positive solutions. You can read his article here.

I spent some time today with Jalen, a precocious third grader who likes to play football and spend time with his friends. I had seen him being a little too aggressive with some of the other kids and sat down next to him to have a conversation. As we began to talk, he immediately started to settle down. I asked him about his interests, about his family life and his dreams for the future.

I learned that his mom had him when she was 15 and that his dad really wasn't part of his life. Which was fine with Jalen because his dad has beaten him. His mom works two jobs and is taking online classes to provide for him and he spends several hours a day at the Boys & Girls Club since there is no one at home to watch him while his mom's at work.

I affirmed how much his mom cares about him since she works so hard to take care of him and even let him know how much God loves him. He began to ask me about my family and my kids and I encouraged him as a reader and in his plans to go to college. He begged me to play several games of Foosball and pool with him and we had a fun time together. I'm glad that there are some men that spend some time with him after school each day and I hope that he is able to realize his potential. So many bright young kids get picked off by the streets and I hope Jalen isn't one of them.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

What's Your Favorite Hot Dog?

I took a trip this past week to spend a couple days with our Impact staff in Indianapolis. On the flight up, I found my self engrossed in a magazine article about a writer's experience sampling hot dogs throughout Chicago in order to find the Windy City's best dog. Even though I've been to Chicago a number of times, I've never actually had what is called a "Chicago-style" hot dog -- a dog topped with mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, peppers, celery salt and poppy seed bun.

As a native Michigander, I am most familiar with the Coney Island hot dog -- a dog with a steamed bun and topped with a beanless chili sauce, mustard, and chopped onions. Coney Islands are very popular in the Detroit area and my favorite location is the one downtown of my hometown, Port Huron. I have to visit Coney Island whenever I get back home! Anybody can have the standard hot dog with ketchup and mustard but I like mine to have more than the everyday toppings.

After living in the southern part of the U.S. for several years, I have been introduced to another version of the hot dog, the Carolina slaw dog. This is simply a hot dog that is topped with a creamy cole slaw. I've heard that the slaw dog can also contain chili and/or mustard with it, but I've only had it with just the cole slaw and it is tasty.

Back to the Chicago-style dog... After wrapping up my time in Indy, I arrived to the airport and walked to my gate. I only had about forty minutes before boarding my flight but I hadn't had dinner yet so I was looking for something quick to get. And, wouldn't you know it, right by gate was a hot dog joint specializing in Chicago-style dogs! I ordered one and loved it. It wasn't able to top Coney Island in my book, but it definitely was good.

I'm interested to know, what is your favorite style of hot dog? In your opinion, which restaurant serves the best?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Christian Publishing & Asian Stereotypes

I recently learned of a significant online dialogue that is going on surrounding the release of a new book, Deadly Viper Character Assassin: A Kung Fu Survival Guide for Life and Leadership by Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite. The book may seem harmless enough at first glance, but a large amount of people are expressing their displeasure with the use of Asian culture as a metaphor for the lessons the authors are trying to teach.

The book is written by evangelical Christian authors and is distributed by Zondervan, a giant in the world of Christian publishing. I need to say on the outset that I have not read the book nor do I know the authors personally. I am not attempting to judge motives or anyone's heart. But after reading a little online about the reaction to this book, it is obvious that a number of people, especially Asian Americans, have taken personal offense to the insensitivity to Asian cultures contained within the book and the marketing of the product.

Professor Soong-Chan Rah has written several times about this and has included some of his interactions with the authors. This post describes his thoughts in the most detail. I encourage you to also check out this video that was posted to market the book to potential buyers. Take some time to read the post, watch the video and read the comments for both. For those of us that are white, it is easy for us to dismiss concerns over these types of things as overreactions by people looking for racism under every rock.

But in reading the comments you'll see the hurt and pain that this insensitivity to culture and stereotyping causes for many Asians and Asian Americans. Regardless of the author's intent, a lot of people have been offended by this. You don't have to be a racist to be naive and unaware. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a Christian publisher has demonstrated insensitivity to Asians. A handful of years ago, LifeWay Christian Resources took a lot of heat for producing a Vacation Bible School curriculum that also employed stereotypical Asian themes.

In the case of Deadly Viper Character Assassin, I hope the integrity and character the authors have written of will be displayed in how they respond to this situation.