Monthly Archives: January 2010

henri-nouwenWhen I was editor of Youthworker Journal many years ago I conducted a phone interview with the late priest Henri Nouwen for an issue we were doing on personal spirituality (spring 1993). I recently found the mini-cassette of that interview tucked away in a desk drawer and thought I’d make a digital copy of it since old cassettes tend to deteriorate over time.

You can listen to our conversation below. It took place about a year after Marci and I (and six other friends) spent a week with Henri at his residence in L’Arche Daybreak near Toronto, Ontario, Canada in December 1991. We talked a little bit about that time together at the end of the interview.

The topic of this particular interview is prayer and in the magazine we titled the article “Gazing at Jesus: A Conversation with Henri Nouwen.”

While this interview was edited for the magazine article, no editing was done on these audio recordings. I did however break it into four segments. They vary in length, from about seven minutes to more than thirteen. Only the first question is indicated below.

After listening to this 15-year-old conversation again, I am re-challenged to shift some priorities in my life and spend more time with God in prayer. How about you?

If the mp3 audio player is not displaying or functioning properly below, just click on the links and you will hear the interview in your Quicktime or Windows Media Player.

Segment One: “Why is prayer so important?”

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Segment Two: “How do you ‘listen’ to God when you are praying?”

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Segment Three: “What is contemplative prayer?”

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Segment Four: “What is a spiritual director?”

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Category: Ministry, Personal

haiti-banner150x263I received a letter today from Compassion International which is posted below because God may be leading you (as he is Marci and I) to reach out to help the thousands of people who have been impacted by yesterday’s earthquake in Haiti. I have great confidence in Compassion and the good work they do. Anything you or I do to help will be put to good use by the good folks at Compassion.

Years ago I made a trip to Haiti with Tony Campolo and my understanding of poverty was deepened considerably. Never before had I seen such widespread suffering. I can only imagine now what this disaster has done to the people of Haiti and the mission organizations who have been working over the years to serve them. Let’s keep them all in our prayers and if possible, give to help bring some relief.

The text of the letter:

The catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday has resulted in unfathomable chaos and devastation for hundreds of thousands of children and families.

Compassion sponsors and donors serve more than 65,000 children in Haiti. At least a third of them live in the areas that were hardest hit.

I am asking you to please send a generous gift today to help these precious children and their families.

We are working rapidly to assess the situation and determine the full extent of damage:

* Sadly, we anticipate there will be many deaths.
* We anticipate thousands of children and families will have lost everything.
* We anticipate many of our church-based child development centers will have been destroyed.

Without a doubt, the children we serve in Haiti are in shock and face immediate needs for food, water, medical care, shelter and counseling. We have teams prepared to respond, and we are deeply committed to helping each child.

We need your donation today. Please reach out in the name of Jesus to bring relief, comfort, love and restoration to precious children and families whose lives have been devastated by this crisis.

Thank you for caring,
Mark Hanlon
Dr. Wess Stafford
President, USA

P.S. If you would like to give by phone, please call us at (800) 336-7676. Check donations can be mailed to: Compassion International, Colorado Springs, CO 80997.


Category: Ministry, Personal

ys_logoWell, the news is out about the future of Youth Specialties and I’m happy to report that it’s very good. YouthWorks, the Minneapolis-based ministry that purchased YS from Zondervan a couple months ago has re-hired Tic Long to come back in and lead the organization. I wrote in a previous post about the high regard I have for Tic and the crucial role that I know he played in the success of YS over the years. I’m confident that under Tic’s re-energized leadership (he got an unexpected but certainly much-needed sabbatical after his termination last July), YS will emerge from this transition with its mission and vitality very much intact. Tic sounds to me like he’s fired up and going to hit the ground running.

Tic e-mailed me recently to tell me that he was returning to YS with the subject line “God has a sense of humor.” So true. I have a feeling that God was grinning a little bit when a week or so before Christmas, I was having breakfast at an El Cajon restaurant with a youth pastor friend of mine and unexpectedly, in walked Tic with the guys from YouthWorks. We went through a series of awkward introductions after which they sat down in the booth right behind us. I wasn’t sure what they were talking about although I had a hunch. The familiar laughter that I overheard from Tic was certainly a good sign. I had been praying that something good would come of all the Youth Specialties turmoil of the last few months and in a crazy turn of events, God let me actually be in the same room when he answered that prayer. A sense of humor indeed.

I’m very excited for Tic and everyone else at Youth Specialties. It will be fun to see how God prospers YS under the YouthWorks banner.


Category: Ministry

I wish I could say that I spent the first full day of the new year doing something constructive or creative but I watched football all day. Three games. Actually I think I watched six or seven football games this week. How many bowl games are there now? I can remember when all of them (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange) all happened on one day, bringing the college football season to a merciful end. But now it goes on and on … which I guess is OK with me since I love the game and enjoy watching if I have the time.

ephesians-tim-tebow-bible-eye-blackLast night in the Sugar Bowl, the University of Florida’s well-known quarterback Tim Tebow played in his last college football game as he led his Gators team to an easy victory over the Cincinnatti Bearcats.

I’ve not followed Tebow’s career closely, but by all accounts, he’s not only a tremendous quarterback but a dedicated Christ-follower who seems almost too good to be true. Nobody has a bad thing to say about him and he’s unabashedly outspoken about his faith.

It’s not surprising to me that Tebow grew up in a Christian home (his parents were missionaries) and was home schooled even while he played high school football. While not all home-school kids turn out like Tim Tebow, I’ve become increasingly persuaded that parents who home-school their kids are not as over-protective or paranoid as we thought they were. They may instead just be taking more seriously than the rest of us the Biblical imperative to train up their children in the way they should go. Sadly, too many Christian parents are content these days to outsource the upbringing of their children to the government, the popular media, even the church.

As I listened to the young quarterback (who will be headed for the NFL this year) give glory to Christ for his win last night, I couldn’t help but wonder if he will continue to do so as a pro. The TV commentators last night described how his Florida teammates protected him from people and activities that might compromise his reputation. I hope he continues to have those kind of people around him. At least I know he has those kind of parents.


Category: Ministry, Personal