Monday, December 15, 2014

DECLARATION ON SPORT AND THE CHRISTIAN LIFE...

Great ideas and principles here from some minds that have thought deeply about the intersection of Christianity and Sport, especially in our American culture...grateful for their framing of such important thoughts for folks like me...and a massive part of our communities...check out their website for more information below...
 
1. Sport has a legitimate place in the Christian life.
Sport has its basis in a divinely-given impulse to play and deserves a rightful place in Christian living. People play sport primarily for the love of the game, the thrill of competition, and the sense of community that comes from participation. When played and watched in faithfulness to God sport occupies a legitimate place as part of the created world and helps express our relationship to God and to one another. When passion for sport exceeds passion for Christ or the work of His church, or when sport becomes all-consuming and commitments such as worship, service, and family are diminished, sport poses a challenge to the consecrated life. In light of who God is and who He calls us to be, we must examine and order our affections and priorities regarding sport.
2. Sport touches all dimensions of human life.
God created humans as holistic, unified creatures. Sport engages us, not only bodily, but mind and spirit as well. It can powerfully affect our emotions, mental states, and spiritual lives. Our experiences in sport can, at times, uplift as well as disappoint us. When sport is viewed only as a physical activity, participants miss important transcendent moments that engage one’s entire being.
3. Sport can be a means of spiritual formation.
Christians acknowledge the bodily dimension of spirituality and practice faith in and through sport as embodied people. Like aesthetic endeavors, sport can remind us that God is the source of all strength, grace, and beauty of movement. Sport can help focus our attention on the reality of God and our humanness in special ways offering formative experiences in which God communes with us. When sport is approached self-indulgently and apart from the wisdom of God, spiritual growth is thwarted, hindering our formation.
4. Sport can glorify God.
To glorify God is to reflect the will and way of Christ in everything. Thus, the quality of the Christian’s play and participation should be distinctive, marked by Spirit-informed virtues including love, hope, faith, patience, kindness, humility, self-control and other fruit of God’s Spirit. Success in sport competition can help garner public acclaim for oneself, one’s team, one’s community, or one’s country. These forms of glory should not be confused with bringing glory to God.
5. Competition is an essential element of sport.
In competition, players test their skills and strategies in an environment of uncertainty and drama. Competition provides opportunities for personal growth, friendship and enjoyment, and can lead to maximum athletic performance. During games, relationships are characterized by a playful antagonism in which competitors elevate their own interests above those of their opponents. This playful antagonism is central to the concept of sport. However, when winning becomes an end in itself it can breed resentment and may dishonor God. Tactics and environments that persuade players, coaches and fans to supplant playful antagonism with mean-spiritedness have no place in a Christian approach to sport.
6. The true value of sport is inherent in the experience itself.
We can delight in our role as Christ-followers in the world of sport and understand that our behavior in contests is a form of witness to the kingdom of God. Our experience in sport reveals our playfulness, our desire to be excellent, and our desire to belong. When the human experience of sport is subverted to other ends, for example, as a means of commerce, a way to achieve fame, publicity, money, or personal glory, attention is diverted from the importance of the sport experience itself.
7. Sport has many benefits but they are conditional.
When we do sport well it has the potential to improve health, develop social and familial relationships, strengthen moral character, foster positive life habits and civic engagement, and act as a vehicle for peace, reconciliation, and the witness of the good news of Jesus Christ. But these effects are conditional. Their realization depends upon the moral and symbolic meanings we give to sport as well as the motivations of the participants. It should not be assumed that sport, irrespective of these considerations, will have its intended beneficial effects.
8. God created our bodies for His service and our enjoyment.
Sport can promote physical health and well-being and encourage the stewardship of our bodies. At the same time, sport entails a risk of injury and the potential for abuse. Sometimes sport encourages violence as part of a competitive strategy and elevates the probability of injury beyond a reasonable level. An unhealthy pursuit of excellence can encourage the use of questionable training habits and harmful performance-enhancing practices. The human body is a reflection of the image of God and such practices should not be condoned.
9. We do not control whether God favors one player or team over another.
In a Christian view of sport God is acknowledged as Father of all who compete. God shows no favoritism.   All players, coaches, and fans – regardless of team affiliation – are created in the image of God and are deserving of Christian goodwill, kindness, and love. God should not be portrayed as favoring one competitor over another, and Christians should not think of opponents as less than human, less honorable, less deserving of Christian love, or less loved by God than ourselves.  We thank God for good moments in sports, yet we also thank him for apparently bad moments - all for His purposes.  
10. Christian virtues are revealed in behaviors that go beyond obeying the rules.
Rule governing sport define how games are to be played and ensure a measure of fairness in competition. By joining the game, players implicitly agree to follow the rules. Therefore, Christians should not seek ways to circumvent the rules governing sport contests. Yet, Christians are bound by a higher calling, not only to obey the rules, but to apply self-imposed behaviors upholding the witness of Christ even when such acts might work to their competitive disadvantage.
11. Sport programs are a vital component of Christian education.
Sport is an effective complement to classroom knowledge when wisely integrated into Christian schools and universities. Participating in sport can lead students to truth and assist them in developing a mature faith. This requires careful thought and planning with an eye toward educational outcomes. When institutions disproportionately emphasize sport or yield the purpose and practice of sport programs to those interested only in winning, they undermine the educational promise of sport.
12. Sport is powerful.
Sport inspires us with displays of grit and grace. Competitive drama moves us in ways that few other forms of entertainment do. Watching sport can be a means of celebrating God’s creation and goodness, leading to a spirit of hope and joy. Left unchecked, passion can lead to obsession. The power of sport has the potential to cloud spiritual discernment and invite both idolatry and the neglect of self, family, and church.
 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THANKSGIVING REFLECTION: 12 Things I Love About CU Heading Into My 12th Semester...

It's Thanksgiving 2014...and it's also soon going to be the end of another semester at CU...this will wrap up my 11th semester since coming here in August 2009...I continue to love my job and all the people and programs it brings to my life and our family's lives...

And in that spirit of authentic gratitude and thanksgiving, here are a dozen things that I love about Cornerstone University as I look back over 5 and a half years...

1. Night of Nets...love watching our campus and our athletes leverage their gifts and resources to help end malaria and truly change lives in Africa...

2. Welcome day...the greatest opportunity to use my WOO strength...and I absolutely love the chance to have new students and families join the CU community...

3. Chapel...amazing worship teams and words I often need to hear...

4. Faculty collaborations & conversations...it's a privilege to be part of a community where incredible knowledge and wisdom is present in those who truly are experts in their fields...

5. Culture of learning...remarkable privilege to be in a setting where the focus is on growth, on true education so we can be equipped to transform our world as passionate and prepared Christ followers...

6. My Student Engagement staff team...I truly love working alongside and getting to partner with people who love students and what they get to do every day...

7. Students: from student leaders to soccer players to Terra Firma cohort members to literally hundreds and hundreds of students who have deeply influenced the way I live and think and see God and His Kingdom
...

8. Posters on my door...representing the incredible plethora of student activities and programs that create memories and friendships and give life to our campus...

9. Meals in dining commons with Urban Family Kids...sharing meals with kids in GR who we long to see end up at CU as students who do beat the odds in the future...

10. Zambia trips...no place I'd rather be in the world with our CU students...and no one I'd rather serve with than our amazing African leaders and partners...

11. Standing on sidelines of CU men's soccer games...perhaps the place I feel most at home on the CU campus because of the community found in playing the game we love and the relationships forged as a team through all things done on and off the field...

12. Terra Firma 1st week...so much energy, so much hospitality, so much dynamic student leadership, and so much joy in watching a community grow...


Can't wait to see how God continues to add to this list in 2015...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Six Millennial Statistics Every Adult Should Know

A great list from Tim Elmore's GROWING LEADERS blog...

 

Staying Single

These young adults have grown up in an age when the nuclear family has exploded. They long for “family” or community experiences, but many have seen unhealthy models and now are waiting to settle down with a married partner. 26% of Millennials are married, down from 36% of Gen Xer’s, 48% of Boomers, and 65% of the Builder generation. (These numbers are based on percentage of each generation married at age 18-32.) The paradox is that Millennials long for committed relationships… but often don’t know how to experience them. Two countries in our world today have introduced legislation for two-year marriage contracts for this very reason.
Question: How do we prepare young adults to engage in long-term, committed relationships?

Jumping Ship

Millennials have claimed for years that they are entrepreneurial in nature. They don’t want a conventional “job” but one where they can work for themselves and make up their own rules. It’s not necessary wrong, but parents and culture have given them this picture of autonomy and power. 71% of Millennials at “regular” jobs would prefer to quit their current job to work for themselves (Millennial Branding is huge). 60% of them plan to jump ship in the next two years. Change is their middle name, and most twenty-somethings work at multiple jobs during their first decade as new professionals, rather than build equity at one job.
Question: How do we help them discover their identity and “niche” during their young adult years?

Well Educated

School plays a larger role in this generation of young adults than any in American history. 23% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, making them the most educated generation ever. Obviously, some have stayed in school due to a poor economy. (It just wasn’t a good time to launch a career). Others stayed in school because mom or dad pushed them to get that college degree and a “white collar” job instead of a “blue collar” job, and parents were all too happy to have them live at home during (and after) the process. So they’re well educated but may need to take a job they are over-qualified for at first. It also may mean they take a job where they must “pay their dues” in order to make progress. This is difficult.
Question: How can we enable young adults to capitalize on their education and leverage it to take them where they’re most gifted to serve?

Multicultural

Far and away, this generation of young adults is a mix of ethnicities, with a higher percentage of them being born from an interracial marriage than ever. 38% of Millennials are bilingual, up from 22% in 2003. They are more at ease with mixing races in marriage, workplaces and friendships. They embrace the idea that they live in a society bound by a world wide web and that they’ll work in a global economy. Although research demonstrates every child is drawn to people who are “like them” (see the book Nurture Shock), this generation has been conditioned to embrace those unlike them more than previous populations.
Question: How can we help this multicultural and bilingual generation leverage their strengths in a global economy?

Angst-Filled

One of my greatest concerns for this emerging generation of young adults is their mental health. 94% of college students indicate the best word to describe their life is, “overwhelmed.” About half of them are so overwhelmed, it’s difficult to function. Nearly one in ten has thought about suicide in the last year. Dr. Jean Twenge’s newest study shows that teens now have more psychosomatic symptoms of depression, such as trouble sleeping and remembering, than in past generations. Obviously our world is complex, and all of us probably wrestle with such issues. Yet young adults today become anxious over the smallest of difficulties.
Question: How can we help cultivate resilience and coping skills in young adults so they can face greater challenges as they age?

On-Mission

This reality expands with every study. As Millennials consider work, they want to do something they feel really matters. They want a “mission,” not just a job. They desire to work in an organization that improves the world in some way. Want proof? 87% of Millennials consider a company’s commitment to social and environmental causes when deciding where to work. To retain them, companies must find ways to care about the world around them, not just the bottom line. Young adults are drawn to organizations with a mission to transform the world.
Question: How can we capitalize on young adults’ desire to improve the world and, at the same time, demonstrate that they may have to do “little” things first?
 
http://growingleaders.com/blog/six-millennial-statistics-every-adult-know/

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ALL IN: My Night of Nets Manifesto. Or why I am slightly obsessed with bed nets…A REPRISE...

Here's a piece I wrote last year...and it rings even more true for me with a couple hours to go before our soccer match begins here at CU...I shared this with our team yesterday...and here it is again on my blog...I write it with joy and gratitude in my heart...
 
Today we host my favorite event in the Cornerstone campus calendar. We call it night of nets...and it combines two of my greatest passions in life: the beautiful game called soccer or futbal and the people and communities of a sub-Saharan African nation called Zambia...

This is the 5th year we've done this event at CU and it is now one of our best attended and embraced student activities...the event is designed to use the platform of athletics in our culture to bring awareness and real change to one of the world’s greatest global issues.  We are trying to raise funds to provide insecticide treated bed nets for families that face incredible health dangers caused by the deadly disease malaria.

We've watched this event grow quickly in the amount of money we've raised, the attention given to the issue on our campus, the number of students involved, and now this year has been exported to other university and high school sports and teams to expand the impact of these truly life changing items...

To be honest, this little idea I shared first with a few CU soccer players in an impoverished community in the Dominican Republic has morphed into something I hoped and dreamed it could be...and with that growth has demanded more of my time, my resources, my thinking, and my skills as a leader and educator...

And this thing we dubbed night of nets keeps perhaps most importantly grabbing a deeper and fuller grasp of my heart...I am quite sure that many of my co-workers, friends, students, players, and family members wonder at times why I tweet so often about malaria, create & post a multitude of different visual pieces of promotion about NETS on our campus walls and doors, and cast vision almost hourly in classrooms, leadership trainings, staff meetings, soccer fields, and conversations in my office about the chance we have right now to change lives forever on the other side of the world...

So as we head into our final fall night of nets match for this year on the CU campus, here's a little list and explanation for why I am all in on this event, why I think it is one of the most important things we will do as a Christian college during the 2014-15 school year, and why it causes my heart to jump and my voice to speak loud as I join so many other people to try and end malaria in our generation...

1. I can't think of anything more ready to be used to invite large numbers of people in my world to do great good than the power of sport...soccer is our world’s global game and there’s something so special to connect as people and friends through a game we love to watch and play…and we have watched athletes, coaches, and fans embrace with gusto their chance to make sports something beautiful and brilliant as a tool to draw many together to both watch and do something extraordinary on and off the field of play…

2. I love the way God has given a ragamuffin group of young men a cause that unites them and allows them to come together to do something that others would never expect them to do...the driving force in night of nets has been a large crew of male college soccer players who have thrown off their selfish and entitled mindsets to be remarkable advocates for a people often forgotten and marginalized in our world…and their involvement badgering and cajoling fellow students to buy a Night of Nets shirt or fund a bed net has caused them to eventually end up in Africa where God changes them into people they could have never imagined they would become…

3. The scope of the issue is so massive that it demands an immediate and real response...malaria is an awful disease that affects hundreds of millions of lives...and as Rick Warren has said the greatest issues in our world do indeed respond the greatest responses...when you end malaria, you impact positively economics, health care, education, families, and the churches of communities in unprecedented ways…

4. Something so cheap and so simple can produce transformational change. A bed net that costs $6 can alter the life, the future, the ambitions of children and families simply because they no longer have to worry about an insect bite ruining their lives...I can’t even begin to describe the opportunity bed nets provide to prevent sickness, death, orphans, and immense heartbreak and grief…a bed net is something almost everyone I know can provide for another whose life hangs in the balance without it…

5. I love the sense of unity and connectivity that this event brings to my life and the college community I love so much...Night of Nets might be one of the very few things that can draw together students from all residence buildings, student interests, and friend groups to be part of something at CU…I love seeing hundreds and hundreds of students walking across campus to be part of something transformational for them…and our Zambian friends…

6. It's personal for me...I’ve taken hundreds of malaria pills to prevent being infected while I travel to Africa and it’s something I’ve read about in all kinds of books and journals and websites…and I am committed to trying to stop my African friends from getting infected by malaria because I’ve seen friends lose their children because a mosquito bit their son or daughter in the night as they slept…and I refuse to accept the fact that anyone dying from a ridiculously preventable disease is the way God wants our world to be in 2014…

7. I am convinced that it is something that Jesus and the Scriptures call me to do as a follower of Him and a person who is seeking to live by the words of the Bible God has written to call me to live a different life...Jesus brought physical healing, a call for justice, uplifting of the oppressed, and a love for those the world had forgotten…and He invited His disciples then and His followers even now to announce and help bring about the coming of His Kingdom…and I can’t help but want to be like Him…

The Apostle Paul in Romans 12 says it better than I could as I think about God’s call on my life to be a person who tries to have God’s love for me to move me to action…

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
So I am called by God’s voice and moved by His Spirit to be all in…to be OK with being thought of as a little overzealous, a little crazy, and a little too focused on one thing…

And being all in means I can’t wait to invite people to share God’s blessings in their live with others in great need through the gift of a bed net at Cornerstone University and many other schools in the next few weeks, months, and years…
And being all in means I can’t help but dream…dream of providing 10,000 more bed nets via Night of Nets for families that are praying God will provide one for them tonight on the other side of the world…dream that many more college and high school soccer and volleyball teams will join us to bring Night of Nets to their campuses in the near future…and dream that one day malaria will no longer be on the minds of people in Zambia just like it is never thought about by people living in my city, my state, and my country…

I can’t wait to see friends in Zambia sometime soon again…and tell them a little story about how students over and over in Grand Rapids, MI have responded to Jesus’ call in an event called Night of Nets, and then watch them sing and dance and whoop with joy as they receive a net that ends malaria in their house…

That’s why I am all in, why I love being part of Night of Nets, and why I invite you to be part of a campaign to held end malaria…
You can check out more at: www.cunightofnets.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NIGHT OF NETS: Is This the World You Want?

Yesterday in chapel we showed a new film piece from our recent Zambia trip where some of our incredible Zambian leaders and caregivers discuss the impact of malaria in their lives and communities...here's the link to watch an incredibly moving and educational piece:

https://vimeo.com/107432341

After we showed this video I read something I recently wrote after watching it to our student body...the words remind me and I hope inspire you to continue to pursue a world without malaria...those words are here below...

I don’t know about you, but when I run across a huge problem, something I know just isn't right, when the world does not look like I want it to look and how I believe God intends it to be, I want to come up with a viable and effective and long term solution.

 And you've heard today from our friends in Zambia the scope of this 1 problem, this disease called malaria. And you've heard the incredible power of the solution called an insecticide treated bed net.

 And God in His sovereignty, in His surprising plan, has invited our school to help make others aware of what happens every night when Mosquitos buzz into homes in Africa. And he's called us to be a leader in rewriting that story and giving life in all its fullness without malaria to this next generation in places like Ndola, Zambia. 

 GO week is about learning. And GO week has to be about doing as followers of the God who desperately loves every nation and person in our world.

 Wednesday night is our final night of nets event for this fall. The men's soccer team started this event 5 years ago. And our passion as a team and as a campus still continues to grow as God enlarges both our hearts and our visions for global impact. They are actually hoping to raise the funds thru one match to provide every home, 1500 at risk families, who still need a bed net served by our partner Jubilee Ministries in a place where malaria season is just around the corner…

 I love the fact that one of our defining traditions now, one of our can't miss events at CU, is something where we do something focused on the other, the least of these as we watch a game on a beautiful fall night featuring something on a grass field our African friends love dearly, and we cheer together for this school, this community of faith we all are part of...

 I hope...I actually do pray you'll be there Wednesday night at 7pm on our soccer field. Wear your NON shirt (buy one and save a life like almost 1000 others already have…it’s the thing this year). I need a great all campus shot at halftime. Don't buy Starbucks for the next 2 days, skip a movie this coming weekend, or just give with gratitude $6 as you head into the stands because the reality is that those green nets you saw in African huts on a video today are the ones that $6 of our money collected in an orange bucket at our CU athletic events purchased for their families. They are the ones that my 11 year old sponsored child Darwin who wants to show me his own book he's published someday now sleeps under because of some of you who went to a night of nets match...

 Is this the world you want? It’s a question we all have to daily ask and face as followers of the one who proclaimed He had come to bring the Kingdom…If not, let's make it different Wednesday night...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Less is More: Setting Boundaries for Ourselves with Digital Media--FULLER YOUTH INSTITUTE

Check out this list...worth a read from Fuller Youth Institute on an issue so deeply affecting students and adults both as we live in our culture...

12 PRACTICES IN SETTING DIGITAL DEVICE BOUNDARIES:

1. Set designated places where you keep, and put away, various devices. Setting physical boundaries helps reinforce digital ones.
 
2. Turn off all your devices before you go to bed and, if you’re a youth leader, occasionally post something that indicates that you are doing so. “Had a great time hanging out with you all today! Shutting everything down for the night. Sweet dreams, Internet. See you and your cats tomorrow."
 
3. Bring a camera rather than a smartphone to take photos during events. Post the photos afterwards rather than during.

4. Here’s a great one from Kara Powell: have everyone set their phones in the middle of the table at the start of a meal. The first person to reach for their phone has to pay for everyone else. (You may need to adapt that consequence for young people).


5. Shut your phone off when you attend church on Sunday unless there is a reason directly relating to the service for you to keep it on (e.g. taking notes, texting prayer requests). I will confess that I leave mine in the car on Sundays so I will not be tempted to look at it.
   
6. Set up separate email accounts for work and personal correspondence so that while you are out of the office you are totally out of the office. One member of FYI’s team said she uses two different email providers to make the experience of checking each account feel more distinct and separate.

7. If you refrain from texting and social media as part of your weekly Sabbath, see if a friend will babysit your phone and reply to the messages that you do receive. “This is Art, Brad is celebrating the Sabbath today and left his phone at the office. He’ll get back to you tomorrow.” This also conveys a lot of trust, and implies that you don’t have anything on your phone you would be embarrassed about a friend or co-worker seeing.

8. When you set your phone down during a conversation or when you’re home, be intentional about placing it face down so that you can’t see any notifications as they come in and are less prone to glance at it.

9. Create a “no tech during meals” at home rule that both kids and adults regularly follow so you can practice face-to-face conversation. If it’s too much to make this a standard rule, start with one meal per week. Model for your kids that pretty much any call, text, or post can wait until dinner is done.

10. If you have a hobby that doesn’t involve tech, turn your phone off before you start. If you feel like you need to explain later, you can say, “I turned my phone off to practice guitar for a while.” Doing this without apologizing can help create a new culture among your connections that allows space to be digitally disconnected at times.

11. We have previously encouraged not allowing digital technology in a young person’s bedroom—the same applies for adults.
 
12. There are a number of apps available that can help you with setting limits on where and for how long you spend time online.
 
 
 

http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/viamedia-intro
 








 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Praying for the End of 2 Epidemics...

For the last couple weeks, I've been almost obsessed with the remarkable story of two missionaries in Liberia who were infected with the EBOLA virus while caring for those suffering from the disease in west Africa at a mission hospital. I've been so inspired by the courage and commitment and compassion of those caring for the sick and dying at great risk on the continent I've grown to love myself...
And I've watched with curiosity and frustration and hope the responses in the media and US culture to what is taking place in Africa and how much we are willing to truly care for those in greatest need in our world...and even those who risk their own lives to do so in such clear ways...
I loved this summary thought from Paul Root Wolpe on the CNN Opinion blog I read today...
There are two epidemics in the world today. The first is a troubling spread of the Ebola virus in poor countries in Africa, an outbreak that is the result of poverty, inattention by those countries' political leaders, and a general lack of concern by the wealthier nations about epidemics that don't yet seem to directly affect them.
But the second epidemic is a more dangerous one. It is a spreading lack of compassion, characterized by disaster fatigue, helplessness in the face of war refugees, intolerance for immigration, and now, the desire to ban even American citizens who are sick and need our help. The second epidemic seems harder to contain than the first, but it is every bit as important.
My prayer is that both epidemics named end quickly in Jesus' name...