Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Headed to Florida

Tomorrow I head off to Florida to officiate a funeral for a long time friend of our family, Dr. Fred Seilkop. Dr. Seilkop and my father have been long time friends and co-laborers in the harvest back to the Catholic Charismatic movement in the early 70's. Not sure how often I'll be posting, but I'll try to keep the blog updated.

Have a blessed New Years!

- John

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another Video For "Window In the Skies"

The New Face of Philanthropy

Young, entrepreneurial philanthropists leave their mark on nonprofits here and abroad

Early employment at Google has enabled Khan and her husband Zain to become philanthropists in a fashion once reserved for wealthy retirees. They donate money, sit on nonprofit boards and volunteer.

Younger donors are fully invested in their contributions, seeking to apply their business savvy and expecting to see quantifiable outcomes from the organizations they fund. They also view their contributions as social investments. For them, the lines are blurring between for-profit and nonprofit ventures.

Analogies to venture capitalists and stock-market investors have begun to permeate the language of philanthropy.

Hero likened Silicon Valley charitable gifts to investing in the stock market. Through increasingly popular donor-advised funds through community foundations or financial management companies like Charles Schwab or Merrill Lynch, philanthropists are choosing to diversify their gifts.

Find the entire article here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Job Opening at NCUD

We have an opening (starting in January) for a program manager for youth programs and administrative assistant. It's one full time job split in two parts. Email me for further information and please spread the word!

Q and A With Aziza Mohmmand

Found this on Guy Kawasaki's blog. 15 Afghai women participated in a class on entreupenship at Thunderbird. Aziza Mohmmand is from Afghanistan who, through a micro enterprise loan, is changing the destiny of many in her country. She makes soccer balls and other goods in her factory. She says,
When the interim government announced its arrival in Afghanistan, I came back to Kabul and started my nonprofit organization named Moscau, and it was soon registered at the Department of Economy.

In my NGO, I trained more than 2,000 men and women in baking, sewing, leather treatment, ball assembly, carpentry, electrical, blacksmith, plumbing, computer, and English language. In the ball assembly department, I hired 200 trainees who were widows and their family’s bread winners. They had no opportunities to work elsewhere.

My intention was to make a difference in the life of women in Afghanistan and keep them busy while they have an income with an active role in the growth and building of the new infrastructure of the country.

Q. Where did you get the money to start the company?
A. I started with $5,000 personal savings. I also took loans from friends in the beginning. I was lucky to have $3,000 worth of machinery from my previous business which I could use in the leather goods production.

Q: What can someone who’s just a “regular person” do to help your country?
A: Anybody in any country can help his/her fellow human being. However, in an advanced capitalist country such as the US, entrepreneurs can greatly help the Afghans who are novices in investment. Americans can further provide social, economic, and humane support for Afghans. I need your support in order to better help the women in Afghanistan who are expecting my support.

Q: How many people work for your company?
A: There are 220 widows who are the bread winners of their families in ball assembly and forty women in the leather goods department. I also work with five masters who specialize in treatment of leather goods.

Q: How many balls do you sell per year?
A: In the first years we didn’t sell much, maybe 5,000 or 6,000 per year. In 2006, however, we sold 10,000 soccer balls, more than 3,000 children soccer balls, and 1,000 volleyballs. Our revenue in leather goods department was also good. Right now we have a contract with UNICEF for 173,000 school bags.

In the Bible the book of James states that true religion is caring for widows and orphans. What a fabulous example of empowerment and social action. I aspire to do the same kinds of things - with the forgotten and marginalized in our country.

How many lives can $5000.00 change?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Pics of my niece and nephew in Florida

These are my sister Kelli's kids... Aren't they beautiful? You can see where Sam's red hair comes from...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Weird Al - "White and Nerdy"

Reinforcing stereotypes...

Book, "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservatism"

I heard this author on NPR last night. He wrote a book on the state of charitable giving in the US. I just ordered it - so this is more for information than endorsement. However, in the interview he confirmed what I already knew from experience. Some of the things he mentioned were:
- Conservatives tend to give much more than liberals. The inference is that liberals tend to rely more on government programs to solve societal issues.
- Government programs can sometimes have the opposite effect by impeding private donors from giving to causes.
- The most stable form of income for a non profit is through private donors.
- America gives a TON of money.


You can see the book here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cracked Pots Blog

I met Jose Humphreys yesterday. Been reading his blog - good stuff. Check it out here. If you haven't noticed - we sort of have a mutual admiration society going on;)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Four Way Video Chat

Good Times! Had a four way video chat today with Rudy from LA, Jeremy and Jose from NYC.

I borrowed an isight camera from Max. Gotta love macs (and Max...) - just plugged the camera in and I was good to go! All the rhetoric aside I really believe the Mac is such a superior machine.


- I've been golfing more lately. My friend Steve Zeisler from
Peninsula Bible Church has me golfing with a group of retired men each Friday. It really sucks to have a 75 year old man out drive you by 25 yards - so I'm recommitted to the game. Last Monday I snuck out for nine holes at dusk at Palo Alto Muni. I ended up golfing alone, sun setting, moon rising over the bay... like a slice of heaven, with a slicing golf ball. The pic does no justice.

Golfing with these gentleman has been one of the highlights of the week for me. All of them are men of faith who are still serving God faithfully. The wisdom I recieve from them is priceless. Please pray for Steve - he recently had knee replacment surgery and is laid up...

- My friend at church, Marche, got blessed with a new car (FREE)! Really - God is Good! Marche is a faithful servant. Yea God!

- Giants resign Barry Bonds... hmmm. $16 million a year to play 1/2 the season??? I guess it's good work if you can find it.
- Yanks resign Andy Pettitte. Good move I think. Ancillary note, I have a jersey with his number that I got at a clearance rack in NYC. Now I can hold my head up when I wear it!
- Dolphins CRUSH the Pats yesterday. Why couldn't they do this when it mattered?
- Went to a pastors appreciation service in SF last night for Pastor and First Lady Dorn. I really like them. They are a great example of folks following the call. Blessings to them and their church family.

- Sam took a random picture of himself with my camera phone. Gotta love him!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Grace and Good Works

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Therefore, remember..."

Eph 2:9-11a

God, help me to do the works you prepared me to do so very long ago...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New U2 Song, "Window in the Skies"

Great Lyrics...

The shackles are undone
The bullets quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun
Will keep us when there’s none
The rule has been disproved
The stone it has been moved
The grave is now a groove
All debts are removed

Oh can’t you see what love has done?
Oh can’t you see what love has done... what it's doing to me?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Now really, what would Jesus do?

There are many important discussions regarding the church floating around right now. Admittedly I am a right leaning liberal - meaning I'm progressive in my politics with a strong moral leaning. As those of you who read my blog know that I've been thrilled and encouraged by recent church leader's, namely Rick Warren and Joel Hunter, waking up to some of the pressing justice and poverty issues in the world. However, I'm saddened (but not surprised) by the reaction of extreme right wing evangelicals. In a recent ABC article rightly stated:
"This debate is just the latest in a number of contentious fights emerging within the Christian conservative community. Many evangelical Christians are openly questioning whether their leaders have focused too much on issues such as abortion while ignoring subjects more relevant to the vast majority of what's in the Bible — such as helping the poor and the sick.

"What would Jesus do?" they ask."

I am firmly in this camp. While against issues such as abortion I've chosen to focus on the root issues of our moral problems. I've found that by and large in urban communities most of the abortions are decided on economic (poverty) issues. Simply put, relieving poverty solves many (but not all) abortions.

David Kuo, who recently published a book on the White House faith based initiative office stated,
"Christians have spent so much time evangelizing their politics that they've really corrupted the name of Jesus," Kuo said.

He responded to those criticizing Warren by writing on his blog, "Are they so blind and possessed with such a narrow definition of life that they can think of life only in utero?"

However in a answer I believe is typical of many narrow minded evangelicals, Rev. Rob Schenck, who heads the National Clergy Council responded,
"We are not done with the big issues — again, the sanctity of life, marriage, our public expressions of faith in this country — we have not even begun to resolve these issues,"

When asked why Christian political leaders in Washington are more focused on preventing gays and lesbians from marrying than addressing poverty, Schenck said that's our "peculiar platform."

"Our peculiar platform is to address the paramount moral issues. That's our charge. That's my job," he said. "That is in fact in my job description." He said the morality issue sets the "direction for everything else."

"It's pretty tough to say, 'you should be concerned about that homeless woman on the street if in fact we have no respect for the dignity of human life,'" Schenck said.

The Bible that I read tells me that Jesus was less concerned about public morality issues than private morality issues. The gospels record Jesus' disdain for hypocrisy and moral posturing much more that sexuality and correctness. I applaud Warren and Hunter for being prophetic. They are fast becoming the Christian moral compass pointing to the issues at the heart of the gospel - the poor, the lost and those who need the Kingdom of God to change their lives.

Important discussions...

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

U2 - Mary J. Blige Video

This is one of my favorite songs. Earlier this year U2 did a remake for the One.org campaign, I believe. This is powerful...