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International Justice Mission Almost one month ago, July 12, I saw an ad on Facebook for a temporary part-time web developer position at the International Justice Mission (IJM).  Though I was in the midst of getting a contract I still decided to apply because I admire IJM so much and wanted to build a relationship with them.  I contacted them and asked if I could fulfill this position remotely from my home in California and they said yes and to please apply.

On July 23 I had a forty-five minute phone interview and at the end of the interview the recruiter said hope your phone call with Brian Cress goes well.  I said “Who is Brian Cress?” and the recruiter said “Oh, forget I said anything.”  (By the way, I didn’t get the job.)

Brian Cress, IJM West Coast Director of DevelopmentOn July 27 Brian emailed me, introduced himself as the IJM West Coast Director of Development, said he was going to be in the Bay Area and wanted to connect with me.  We emailed and talked and I invited him to come to our home for dinner on Tuesday, August 4.

I asked Brian if he would like me to invite others and he said sure.  So I quickly invited via Evite over 50 people but I was not expecting many to show because of the short notice.  Later I realized people didn’t come because I set the start time at 5:30 PM.  One friend wrote me and said “who gets off work at 5:30 =)”.  A lesson learned for next time.

In the end a neighbor and her three children and a married couple we knew from Boston attended.  And the night was a roaring success.

Brian Cress is a large, friendly man who immediately disarms you with his engaging personality.  He is comfortable with everyone including the children.  For example Dylan enjoyed telling his array of silly jokes to Brian and Brian patiently listened to them all.

Fried Eggplant on FlickrBecause of his outgoing personality Brian ended up becoming the host for the evening and I think that is why everyone had a good time.  We first had dinner, mediocre Chinese food from a local restaurant.  I apologize Brian that the eggplant wasn’t palatable.  My wife ordered it because I’m a pseudo-vegetarian. 🙂

After dinner we watched a short three minute video about IJM which is on YouTube.

Next Brian did a quick PowerPoint presentation about IJM and then we watched a longer video about what IJM has been doing in India.  Everyone had a lot of questions and were really engaged.

During this time I often find myself saying “Thank God for IJM” when I saw videos of people being saved from bonded slavery, sex slavery, police abuse, etc.  IJM is awesome.

good-news-about-injustice At the end of evening Brian gave everyone Good News About Injustice by Gary Haugen, the founder and CEO of IJM.  I read the book a few years ago and reviewed it on my old blog.  Before I moved I gave it away and it’s nice to get another copy.  Maybe I should give away this book to whomever leaves in a comment for this post the most compelling reason to present it to him or her (and who lives nearby).

just-courage Brian also gave me Gary Haugen’s newest book, Just Courage .  I’m quite excited about getting this book and am hoping to read it soon and to review it here.

In the end I think everyone had a good time.  Even Dylan and Isaac had a great time playing with the kids from across the street.  Here’s a group photo from the end of the night.  The only ones missing are the neighbor’s kids who were still upstairs playing with the Legos. 🙂

IJM's Brian Cress at our home with friends

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July 26, 2009
Speaker: Pastor Casey Barton
Series: Lead/Feed/Intercede
Passages: Philippians 2:12-18

Casey Barton, as a youth, did drugs and alcohol.  He vandalized the local country club.  Sadly I can somewhat relate.  It seems such a common story for young men and a story I don’t want my sons to write.

When Casey became a Christian he thought “Great!  Now God can fix my life.”  Soon though he was back at the country club vandalizing again with his buddies.  At one point he was riding a golf cart with his friend at 3 AM when his friend kicked out the windshield.  At that moment he distinctly remembers hearing “I thought you wanted God to fix your life.”

You’ll Come – Hillsong

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Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway [Blu-ray]Sunday and Monday night we watched RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway Blu-Ray DVD.  I love RENT.  You can watch an excerpt of this DVD here.

I still remember watching RENT at the Shubert Theater in Boston.  I found the experience moving and spiritual.  Some people would ask how can a musical about Bohemians be spiritual.  My answer is that the theme of this musical is love and you can’t get more spiritual than that.

Watching the DVD was so fun for numerous reasons.

  1. Rent (1996 Original Broadway Cast)I felt like I understood the plot better.  Though we have the CD and have heard it many times it’s still not the same as watching the musical.
  2. It was great to see the close-ups and understand better what was being communicated in the expressions of the actors.
  3. Subtitles really help to understand what is being sung during those pieces when more than one person is singing.
  4. I felt this cast was actually better than the original cast.  This is not surprising considering everyone on Broadway wants to be cast in RENT.  When it was first cast they had a hard time finding anyone because it was off Broadway and written by someone no one heard of.

A few things surprised me when watching this production.

  1. The set changed from what I saw in Boston.  It seemed smaller though I expected it would be bigger.
  2. Mark and Roger’s voices were a little smoother.  I thought they originally intended it to be rougher since this is supposed to be a “rock opera.”
  3. Mimi was not portrayed as sweetly.  In retrospect this makes more sense since Mimi is a drug addict stripper.
  4. RENT is more sexual than I remembered and the close ups really emphasize that.  It takes away from some of the enjoyment of the musical, especially the middle one-third of it.
  5. During the end of the musical when they sang my favorite song “No Day But Today” Mark projected his film, which consists of footage of his friends, all around the top of the walls of the stage for an incredible effect.  But in this version of the musical he just played on a small section of the wall.

Here is a YouTube video of “No Day But Today” from the RENT movie which I have not seen but I expect won’t be as enjoyable as this DVD.  In fact watching this YouTube video already disappoints because the song does not seem as vibrant and they show Mark’s film without showing the stage so it loses its effect.

And here is a YouTube video of “No Day But Today” performed in Korea. Interestingly enough it’s all sung in Korean until the end when they sing the chorus “No Day But Today” in English. Based on that you know this was not performed in North Korea.

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Pray for Love

 | July 5, 2009 1:54 PM

July 5 2009
Speaker: Pastor Dave Chae
Series: Lead/Feed/Intercede
Passages: Philippians 1:9-11

Philippians 1:9-11 (King James Version)

9And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

10That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.

11Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Main Point:

Pray for Love so that your friends can make godly choices and fulfill God’s will in this generation!

What does the Bible say about mourning?  When Lazarus died even though Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to be resurrected the Bible says Jesus wept.  On the other hand there are other scripture verses like when Jesus said why are you mourning this child is just sleeping?  Maybe Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters and that his weeping was his empathy with his closest friends.

In Jesus’s days if a woman’s hair is not braided she is basically saying I want to sleep with you.  In light of that it is even more scandalous that Jesus’s feet were wiped by a prostitute’s hair.

Approve means to test if something is genuine.  Pastor Dave gave an example if your love is grounded you won’t go to that topless bar with your business associates to win that account.

If we ground our love in the knowledge of God’s word and morals we will fulfill God’s will.

When’s the last time you prayed for a friend’s love to be grounded in scripture and good morals?

Application

  1. Pray for your friend’s love to be grounded in scripture and sound morals.
  2. Learn god’s Promises
  3. “KNOW” your people
  4. … so that they can choose what is best.
  5. … godly decisions
  6. … God’s will in this generation

Pray for Love that is grounded in …

  • Experiential Knowledge of God’s Word and People (1:9b)
  • Depth of Insight – Guided by Morals (1:9n)

… so that your friends can make godly choices and fulfill God’s will in this generation. (1:10b –11a)

“All Because of Jesus”

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Not For Sale Week 2

 | June 15, 2009 3:23 AM

David Batstone led the Week 2 Bible Study.  He is a professor at the University of San Francisco.  He started Not For Sale 30 months ago.

God frees all people, whether it be chains or egotism or materialism.  We as Christians are redemption people.  God said “Let my people go” and “Loose the chains” and “Restore sight to the blind.”

13th amendment of the U.S. constitution calls slavery “involuntary servitude.”  David encountered slavery at one of his favorite restaurants in Berkeley, Pasand Madras, which he learned about in the San Francisco Chronicle.  He learned that this restaurant was the center of a trafficking ring of young teenage boys and girls from India.

NFS-Logo-SmallDavid traveled the world, investigated slavery and then created Not For Sale to “reabolish” slavery.  Not For Sale investigates and documents slavery and trafficking all around the world.  Slavery is too “ordinary” and Not For Sale want to makes it “extraordinary.”

Not For Sale is not a Christian organization.  Instead Not For Sale is first an abolitionist organization.  Being a secular organization allows him to work with the government, speak at universities, speak at Google.  And when someone asks why David does it he says because of his faith in Jesus Christ.

David was an investigative journalist who won national awards.  He wanted to take his talents to investigate slavery.  He also tasked his students in his class, Justice 101, to do it instead of writing boring essays.  The students went to social workers, police, immigration workers, etc.

Not For Sale’s bar for what is slavery is that “you can walk away.”  Not For Sale charts 50 garment factories and 175 massage parlors/brothels in the Bay Area.  Not For Sale has 40 similar operations all around the U.S.  SlaveryMap.org is their public documentation of what they have learned.  Not For Sale also monitors ads and even chat rooms/forums where people talk about their experiences with prostitutes, looking for under age or scared prostitutes.  “Open source activism” is bringing these operations around the world and opening up the platform to allow others to enhance it.

Movies about slavery.

  1. Call and Response
  2. Slumdog Millionaire (child beggars, often slaves)
  3. Holly (not mentioned by David)

Not For Sale partners w/ groups like World Vision and Compassion International that have thousands of workers to find out where there is trafficking.  Then they tell the police who do the enforcement.

To fight corruption Not For Sale tries to create a reward system, bringing status to the police officers who are stopping slavery.

Not For Sale opportunities

  1. Take the academy courses and become an investigator.
  2. Help the survivors by offering counseling, legal advice, etc.
  3. Pray for the cases in SlaveryMap.org.
  4. Help create and improve tools.
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How Many Should We Kill?

 | June 2, 2009 6:00 AM

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to MercyIt began with one pig at a British slaughterhouse.  Somewhere along the production line it was observed that the animal had blisters in his mouth and was salivating. The worst suspicions were confirmed, and within days borders had been sealed and a course of action determined. Soon all of England and the world watched as hundreds, and then hundreds of thousands of pigs, cows, sheep and their newborn lambs were taken outdoors, shot, thrown into burning pyres, and bulldozed into muddy graves. Reports described terrified cattle being chased by sharpshooters, clambering over one another to escape.  Some were still stirring and blinking a day after being shot.  The plague meanwhile slipped into mainland Europe, where the same ritual followed until, when it was all over, more than ten million animals had been disposed of.  Completing the story with the requisite happy ending was a calf heard calling from underneath the body of her mother in a mound of carcasses to be set aflame.  Christened “Phoenix” … the calf was spared.

Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy , p. ix.

Ten million animals killed.  And it was completely needless.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a form of flu, treatable by proper veterinary care, preventable by vaccination, lethal neither to humans nor animals.  These animals, millions of them not even infected, were all killed only because their market value had been diminished and because trade policies required it – because, in short, under the circumstances it was the quick and convenient thing to do.

Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy pp. ix-x.

As they say history repeats.  In April and May 2009, Egypt slaughtered all of its pigs, about 300,000, because of their fear of the H1N1 flu despite the fact that not a single case had been reported.  The World Health Organization said there was no scientific basis and that “it is entirely unnecessary because the illness is being spread through humans.”

A leading animal rights group criticized Egypt on Monday for using “shocking and cruel” methods to slaughter the country’s pigs over swine flu fears, responding to a YouTube video that showed men skewering squealing piglets with large kitchen knives and hitting others with crowbars.

Egypt criticized for ‘inhumane’ killing of pigs

(I looked on YouTube myself but was unable to find the mentioned video.  I found an AFP news account about the world outrage and the video it cited about the cruel slaughter.)

And finally, as is typically the case with any animal and/or environmental abuse, there is a human cost.  In this case it is the loss of most of their income for the tens of thousands of Coptic Christians.

In both of these cases there was world wide outrage.  But what’s both sad and hypocritical is that this kind of cruelty happens everyday in our factory farms where we get the meat that we eat everyday, in our scientific laboratories, in our oceans, zoos, parks, etc.

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NHL Finals Prediction

 | May 31, 2009 4:50 AM

I haven’t followed the NHL since I was a kid growing up in Toronto.  I remember watching Gretzky, Lafleur, Lemieux and the one and only Bobby Orr growing up.

The NHL is drawing me back and it’s because of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.  Check out this YouTube video of “Ovechkin’s incredible goal“.

I desperately want the Penguins to win.  To me it’s like the Islander and Oilers where the Red Wings are the Islanders and the Penguins are the Oilers.  The first time they met in the finals the Islanders won and the second time the Islanders won the first game and then lost the next four.  Let’s hope history repeats for the Penguins.

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NBA 2009 2nd Round Predictions

 | May 4, 2009 12:12 PM

I am not nearly as excited about the second round as I was for the first because:

  1. Some of the most interesting players, Dwayne Wade, Brandon Roy and Chris Paul, are no longer playing.
  2. Only one of the four series looks competitive.
  3. No Cinderella’s left.
  4. I think I watched too much basketball in the first round.

Orlando in 6 over Boston

Orlando had a much harder time putting away Philadelphia than I expected.  On the other hand Boston had an evern harder time with Chicago.  If Orlando is getting healthier, which it looked like they might have been based on how they played Game 6 without Dwight Howard, then I think they should be able to beat Boston.

Cleveland in 5 over Atlanta

Originally I was predicting this would be done in five games but when I look at the season series I see that though Cleveland won 3 – 1 three out of the four games were quite close.  Atlanta has a very athletic team and hopefully they’ll make this round entertaining.

Los Angeles in 5 over Houston

I really want Houston to win.  I want Los Angeles not to win more than I want any other team to win.  But Los Angeles swept the season series and they are just a deeper, more talented team.

Denver in 5 over Dallas

I had made this prediction before Game 1 where Denver trounced Dallas.  Denver is a very deep and talented team.  I hate Kenyon Martin though, almost as much as I hate Kobe.  This post is just full of negative feelings.

Here is a YouTube video of Yao blocking Michael Jordan.  Maybe we’ll get some new ones of Yao blocking Kobe.

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NBA 2009 1st Round Predictions

 | April 17, 2009 9:14 PM

John Hollinger already did a great statistical job of predicting what will happen in the playoffs.  I agree with most of them but here is just what my gut tells me.

Miami in 6 over Atlanta

Dwyane Wade was my fantasy MVP, I owned him on both of my teams.  I drafted Wade 9th and 6th and he ended up being the 2nd best player next to Chris Paul though one could argue Lebron had a better season than either of these two.  Also Dwyane seems like a good guy though a little strange so obviously my heart wants to pick Miami.

On the other hand I owed three different Atlanta Hawks, Al Horford, Josh Smith, and Joe Johnson.  All three of them disappointed me at different times so I am not feeling a lot of love for the Hawks.

But the Hawks look like a better team.  I guess there are several factors.

  1. Can the Hawks continue to contain Wade like they did during the regular season.  I’m inclined to say no but Horford and Smith do a good job of clogging the lane.
  2. Who will do the better coaching job?  I don’t know but Spoelstra is supposed to be the better coach.
  3. Will Michael Beasley continue his late season progress.  I think he will which make things tougher for the Hawks and free up Wade a little more.
  4. Will O’Neal do anything?  I think the answer is not much but the Heat never had much of a center all season.

I am going to predict Heat in 6 but I admit it’s more wishful thinking.

One final note.  I think Dwyane Wade is the only divorced athlete I like.  I’m not sure why I’m being so forgiving with him, maybe cause of that cheesy commercial where he gives the coach an SUV or those funny T-Mobile commercials.

Boston in 5 over Chicago

Chicago is athletic but any faith I had in them I lost after seeing them get blown out by the Raptors in the last game of the season that the Bulls should have wanted to win.  Derrick Rose is awesome and Joakim Noah is pure energy but Tyrus Thomas, Ben Gordon and John Salmons seem a little too streaky.  I’d rather put my faith in Pierce, Allen and Rondo.

Orlando in 4 over Philadelphia

Maybe because I’m such a Dwight Howard fan but I think Orlando is going to romp.  I want to see a nice guy finish first so I’m rooting for Orlando.  Philadelphia has played horribly and they don’t have any three point shooting.  If Orlando shoots poorly Philadelphia might be able to get a lot of fast break points.  But besides that I don’t see Philadelphia doing much.

And here are two of my favorite players in one of my favorite commercials.

Cleveland in 4 over Detroit

Who will want to sign Iverson after seeing him give up on his team right before the playoffs?

Los Angeles in 4 over Utah

Something is not right in Utah.  They win 11 in a row and then fall apart.  Boozer, Okur and Millsap don’t seem healthy, Deron Williams can only do so much.  Kobe is going to kill them and Pau Gasol is going to shoot like 75%.

New Orleans in 6 over Denver

Denver has a more talented team with more depth and a great bench.  Billups is good but not a superstar, Nene will dominate the paint, Chris Andersen will also when he’s on the floor, Kenyon Martin is hurting and annoying, J.R. Smith is streaky but incredible when he’s on.  Maybe George Karl will implode and bench Carmelo.

But I love Chris Paul.  I think I might love him as much as Dwight Howard.  I watch him interact with people and I just think “He’s a really good guy.”  New Orleans depends too much on iffy players like Tyson Chandler, Peja, Posey and Butler.  Anyway it’s wishful thinking but I am hoping New Orleans can pull it off.  I’m going to enjoy watching these games, unless New Orleans is being blown out.

Dallas in 6 over San Antonio

I owned Jason Kidd on both my fantasy teams and I really started to appreciate what he can do which is everything except shoot.  I really think he’s superb at making his teammates better and that they enjoy playing with him.  San Antonio is hurting and Dallas is starting to feel confident so I think they can pull off this upset.  I feel bad for Tim Duncan and his achy knees but the guy has more rings than 99.9% of all NBA players, past and present.

Houston in 6 over Portland

This is a tough one to predict.  Brandon Roy was on one of my fantasy teams and he was amazing.  Tracy McGrady was on another and he sucked.  So you could imagine where my heart might be leaning.  The Blazers are athletic, long, young, and fast.  On the other hand I really like Yao and I just want him to get the monkey off his back.  I can’t believe they lost that final game to Dallas and I do question how much they want to win.  Why in the world would you not give the ball to Yao in the last quarter?

I think though Houston finally wins a first round series.  They have more experience, though so far the losing kind, and they’ve played very well against Portland this season.  Just give the ball to Yao!

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