Friday, August 29, 2008

Chinese Pastor Arrested: Sign Petition

From Voice of the Martyrs....
On August 6, just two days before the Olympics began, Pastor Zhang "Bike" Mingxuan was arrested, along with his wife and a coworker. In response to these arrests, The Voice of the Martyrs and China Aid Association have launched a petition drive to free these three Christians and to let the Chinese government know that the world is aware that these Christians are being detained.

Pastor Bike, as he is affectionately known, is considered to be one of the most outspoken evangelists in China. He is a bold believer willing to cross borders, hand out Christian literature and Bibles, share Christ with those under age 18 and lead thousands to Christ. All these actions are considered "illegal," in communist China. Earlier this year, Pastor Bike pleaded with VOM staff and China Aid Association to create the China Prayer Bands so that Christians in the free world could know more about persecution of Christians in China.

[CLICK HERE] to sign a petition to the Chinese Ambassador formally requesting his release.

Here is a video by the BBC showing Pastor Bike being arrested and detained....


At 1:10 into this video report by the BBC on China's crackdown on dissidence, Pastor Zhang "Bike" Mingxuan is seen being forcibly detained by Chinese authorities. He was released shortly after the incident but was arrested again on August 6, two days before the Olympic Games opening ceremonies.

[CLICK HERE] to sign a petition to the Chinese Ambassador formally requesting his release.

And pray, "How long, O Lord...."

And share with family & friends.

Striving to Improve Preaching

Filed Under: "Note to Self"
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The Unashamed Workman lists a series of things he's working on to improve his preaching...
…the exegetical carefulness of Don Carson
…the expositional clarity of John Stott
…the assiduous attention to context of Dick Lucas
…the cross-referencing knowledge of John MacArthur
…the ‘outlining’ skills of Warren Wiersbe
…the doctrinal precision of RC Sproul
…the bible-critiquing-culture abilities of Al Mohler
…the delivery of James Montgomery Boice
…the vocabulary of R Kent Hughes
…the simple yet powerful illustrations of CH Spurgeon
…the winsome yet pointed humor of Alistair Begg
…the applicational focus of CJ Mahaney
…the apologetical ’side-bars’ of Tim Keller
…the sheer Scriptural coverage of Mark Dever
…the heart for the lost of George Whitefield
…the compassion for the flock of Charles Simeon
…the unbridled passion for God of John Piper
…the gravity of Doctor Martyn Lloyd Jones
Any communicator should seek to improve by learning from the best. This is a great example!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jesus Isn't For the American Dream


The Internet Monk has a recent rant that's worth reading called, "The Suburban Jesus Hates Me." Opines the iMonk,
"...I don’t get Jesus AND the American Dream. Some people do. Great. I don’t.

"...Suburban Christianity is frequently not about an honest following of Jesus. It’s about an edited, reworked Jesus who blesses the American way of life and our definition of normal and happy.
Read it all here.

Good stuff. I've been saying for a long time that the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of the American Dream cannot co-exist. One can only have one Lord.

Too busy to serve? Bridges says, "Think again."


"The reason most of us do not see opportunities to serve is that we are continually thinking about ourselves instead of others."

-Jerry Bridges, The Crisis of Caring

[HT]

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jollyblogger's Thinking About the Spiritual Realm

Filed Under: Interesting Stuff
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I'm still trying to catch up on my feeds (400+ behind) since we've been back visiting family, but I'm trying to get caught up and point you to some interesting places.

Like this one: JollyBlogger has an interesting and thoughtful post on "Ten Things I Think About the Spirit World and Spiritual Warfare." Here's a brief overview of his main points:
1. I think I think that creation was a two stage process. We know all about the creation in Genesis, but passages like Job 38:4-7 talk about morning stars singing and angels shouting for joy at the time of the creation, which suggests that they were created first.....

2. I think I think that the spiritual or heavenly realm is far more diverse and interesting than we realize....And, heaven is filled with the presence of God, but it also inhabited by different kinds of spiritual beings. The souls of departed believers are there. Seraphim are there, worshiping God day and night. Angels are there....

3. I think I think that the distinction between the heavenly realm and the spiritual realm looks different to us than it does to God. What I mean is that the spiritual realm is invisible to us but not to God....

4. I think I think that the wall I spoke of in point #3 deals more with our vision than with actual separation of the two realms. In other words, the sense in which there is a wall between the heavenly and the earthly is the sense in which we of the earth can't see what is happening in the spiritual realm. But that doesn't mean that the spiritual and earthly don't interact - in fact they do....

5. Thus, those people who think there is a demon behind every bush are right - there is indeed a demon behind every bush.

6. But if there is a demon behind every bush, there is more behind the bush than just the demon....

7. Thus, I think I think that if you are a Christian, Satan and his demons have more reason to fear you than you have to fear them....

8. Because I think I think that spiritual beings can manipulate matter I therefore think I think that some of the more spooky stuff you hear about and read about regarding demon possession and the paranormal is true....

9. I think I think that though the spiritual realm is real and interacts with us far more intimately than we realize we are not to try to peer into the unseen realm....

10. I think I think that just as the activities of spiritual beings influence events on earth, so the activities of earthly beings influence events in the spiritual realm.
Good stuff to chew on and test with Scripture. Read his entire post here.

How often does the spirit realm come up in your day-to-day thinking? Over the past couple years during my time with Peru Mission, we've had some great discussions about this. Generally, I think that much of Reformed Theology doesn't have a category for the demonic realm. What I mean is that everything--meaning all sin and evil in this world--is ultimately traced to man, and in particular, to man's total depravity and nothing else practically speaking. IOW, if the demonic realm were taken out of our theology, not much would be affected.

I'm grateful for the godly men that I had the privilege of serving alongside of in Peru Mission, and for their stimulating conversations. I think I heard my friend, Wes, preach on the Devil more times in the last two years than in all my Christian life put together. And of course, I especially loved Wes' emphasis on putting fear in the devil by singing the war psalms of the Prince of Peace.

ESV Study Bible

Filed Under: "You've Gotta Check This Out"
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Okay, I don't need another Bible, but I really want this one. The ESV Study Bible is coming out in October, and it simply looks amazing. Check out this 5 minute video intro:
Here's some sample pages....



Check out these samples...

* Intro to the Gospel of Luke
* Intro to Revelation
* Intro to the Psalms
* Intro to Ezekiel
* The Book of Jonah
Click here to read some endorsements, and click here for the ESV Study Bible homepage.

Audio from the Worship God Conference

Filed Under: "Good, Free Stuff"
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The audio is up from the Worship God 08 Conference. Check out what's available....

- Knowing God with the Psalmist (Craig Cabaniss)
- Expressing Emotion with the Psalmist (Thabiti Anyabwile)
- Glorifying Christ with the Psalmist (Mark Dever)
- Enduring Hardship with the Psalmist (David Powlison)
- Praising God with the Psalmist, Part 1 (Bob Kauflin)
- Praising God with the Psalmist, Part 2 (David Powlison)
- Living Life with the Psalmist (Bob Kauflin)

Click here to go to the download page.

[HT]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Study the Best Orators...

Filed Under: "You've Gotta Check This Out!"
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Over at The Art of Manliness, there is a great compilation of "The 35 Greatest Speeches in History."

Examining the words of Socrates to Jesus, Lincoln to Douglas, Kennedy to Reagan, Churchill to Martin Luther King, Jr., The Art of Manliness insists,
If a man wishes to become a great orator, he must first become a student of the great orators who have come before him. He must immerse himself in their texts, listening for the turns of phrases and textual symmetries, the pauses and crescendos, the metaphors and melodies that have enabled the greatest speeches to stand the test of time.

There was not currently a resource on the web to my liking that offered the man who wished to study the greatest orations of all time-from ancient to modern-not only a list of the speeches but a link to the text and a paragraph outlining the context in which the speech was given. So we decided to create one ourselves. The Art of Manliness thus proudly presents the “35 Greatest Speeches in World History,” the finest library of speeches available on the web.

These speeches lifted hearts in dark times, gave hope in despair, refined the characters of men, inspired brave feats, gave courage to the weary, honored the dead, and changed the course of history. It is my desire that this library will become a lasting resource not only to those who wish to become great orators, but to all men who wisely seek out the great mentors of history as guides on the path to virtuous manhood.
I, for one, plan to work my way through these great speeches and learn and grow.

Mohler on "Remodeling Hell"


Filed under: FYI
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Mohler has an interesting piece reviewing a recent study that suggests belief in Hell in on the decline. Mohler concludes,
No doctrine stands alone. There is no way to modify belief in hell without modifying the Gospel itself, for hell is an essential part of the framework of the Gospel and of the preaching of Jesus. Hell cannot be remodeled without reconstructing the Gospel message.
Read the article here.

Tim Keller has a great, sort article on "Preaching Hell in a Tolerant Age." He has an interesting insight emphasizing the point that the doctrine of Hell is more tolerant than the popular view...
"The universal religion of humankind is: We develop a good record and give it to God, and then he owes us. The gospel is: God develops a good record and gives it to us, then we owe him (Rom. 1:17). In short, to say a good person, not just Christians, can find God is to say good works are enough to find God.

"You can believe that faith in Christ is not necessary or you can believe that we are saved by grace, but you cannot believe in both at once.

"So the apparently inclusive approach is really quite exclusive. It says, 'The good people can find God, and the bad people do not.'

"But what about us moral failures? We are excluded.

"The gospel says, 'The people who know they aren't good can find God, and the people who think they are good do not.'

"Then what about non-Christians, all of whom must, by definition, believe their moral efforts help them reach God? They are excluded.

"So both approaches are exclusive, but the gospel's is the more inclusive exclusivity. It says joyfully, 'It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. It doesn't matter if you've been at the gates of hell. You can be welcomed and embraced fully and instantly through Christ.' "


And if you are interested, Keller has a very good and sane approach to this difficult doctrine called "The Importance of Hell."

Semper Reformanda.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Driscoll's New Book

Filed Under: "You've Gotta Check This Out"
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Mark Driscoll has a book coming out called, "Death by Love." Looks interesting. Cool concept for the book comes through in this video. Check it out.

The Olympics in China are over, but our prayers must not cease...

Filed Under: "Never Forget"
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For the past several weeks, the eyes of the world have been on the Olympics in China. By all accounts, China did a good job of putting on a good show for the world. But behind the scenes, we must never forget that China is one of the world's biggest violators of human rights, and one of the biggest persecutors of Christ's Church.

Voice of the Martyrs has done a great job highlighting persecution in China (as well as many other sites).

Rev. David Cassidy
says "Remember...
...that the Chinese Government oppresses and actively persecutes Christians,

...it takes about one dollar for us to produce a Chinese language Bible, but it takes almost a year's income for a Chinese believer to purchase a Bible produced in the only factory in the country where their production is allowed,

...that there are some 300 million believers in China, a Church almost as large as the entire population of the United States,

...that every sermon in every 'official' church is recorded for government monitors to examine, and subjects such as 'eternal life' may not be proclaimed in those sermons,

...that while the world celebrates gold medals in Beijing, Chinese Christian men and women suffer for the crown of life in prisons across the country.

PRAY FOR CHINA!"
Click here to see some suggestions by Mark Altrogge on how to pray for the persecuted Church in China.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Big Boys

Filed Under: "Wha'cha Thinkin'?"
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Trevin Wax has an interesting series of posts on the Five Most Important Theologians in Christian History. He lists Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, & Barth.

It's almost impossible to arrive at a consensus because different theologians were important for different reasons, and it depends in large part on what you consider key turning points.

I'd pretty much agree with TWax's list, though I would list Jonathan Edwards in place of Barth. Edward's "The End for which God Created the World," "Freedom of the Will," "Charity & Its Fruits", "Religious Affections," & "Original Sin" are all seminal works, not to mention many of his sermons such as "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and the Publication of David Brainard's Life & Diary which has perhaps been more influential in igniting the Protestant missionary movement in the 19th& 20th centuries than anything else.


What do you think? Trevin Wax (and I) want to know who has been left out?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Upgrade Your Brain

Filed under: "You've Gotta Check This Out"
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Technologically speaking, probably third only to wifi and purchasing an Apple computer, no piece of technology has caused more appreciation in my life besides Evernote. Let's just say, "I 'heart' Evernote."


Think of it as a way to remember everything (or at least store info that you want to find and retrieve and remember quickly). Packed with cool features to be able to share info, sinc to a free online account, remember what website you saw what, and the ability to search, think of it as an upgrade for your brain. I use it to clip anything I want to remember. Plus if you have a camera for your computer, you can capture images.

Here are some of my uses:


remembering cool pics


found this cool review of a BBQ joint we want to check out when we move to Calgary


gift ideas for upcoming bdays


keeping records of receipts


gathering and remembering quotes


websites I want to visit later (this takes the place of del.icio.us for me)


The best part about Evernote is that its FREE, and available for Macs and PC's. Get it. You can thank me later.




And for those of you with an iphone, there is a cool free app that let's you take your upgraded brain with you so you'll never be without your memory.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead. Get it!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Secularist Bigot

Filed under: "Because it needed to be said...."
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Britian's Telegraph reports,
The prominent scientist Richard Dawkins has been denounced as a "secularist bigot" by a philosopher who was himself once renowned for being an atheist.

He is accused by Prof Antony Flew of being more interested in promoting his personal views than finding the truth, in the latest controversy over his best-selling book The God Delusion....

Prof Flew, a former Reading University philosophy professor, was known as "the world's most notorious atheist" before he became convinced of the existence of a "divine intelligence" in 2004.
Dawkin's doesn't hide that his agenda is to kill all religion and for his rant against anyone who doesn't believe like he does and embodies the "more-evolved-than-thou" attitude with perfection.

Hence the epithet.

Just sayin'.

Now, for a bit of humor: "From the "D" to the "Doc" to the "PhD"; He's smarter than you, he's got a science degree."



My favorite part is when Darwin is breakin' it down behind Dawkin's.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Me, Myself & I

Filed under: "I Never Thought About It From That Perspective"
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Caroline Winter asks in the NY Times,
Why do we capitalize the word “I”? There’s no grammatical reason for doing so, and oddly enough, the majuscule “I” appears only in English.

Consider other languages: some, like Hebrew, Arabic and Devanagari-Hindi, have no capitalized letters, and others, like Japanese, make it possible to drop pronouns altogether. The supposedly snobbish French leave all personal pronouns in the unassuming lowercase, and Germans respectfully capitalize the formal form of “you” and even, occasionally, the informal form of “you,” but would never capitalize “I.” Yet in English, the solitary “I” towers above “he,” “she,” “it” and the royal “we.” Even a gathering that includes God might not be addressed with a capitalized “you.”
And after pondering some possible effects, she concludes,
Still, there seems to be something to it all. Modern e-mail culture has shown that many English speakers feel perfectly comfortable dismissing all uses of capitalization — and even correct spelling, for that matter. But take this a step further: i suggest that You try, as an experiment, to capitalize those whom You address while leaving yourselves in the lowercase. It may be a humbling experience. It was for me.
Interesting read.
[HT]

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We're Back in the US of A....

The Fergie's with the Ball's, taken in their house in Trujillo right before we left.

Hey folks,

We just wanted to let you know that we made it back into the States just fine with no hiccups. We had the red-eye flight out of Lima. Needless to say, we didn't sleep (Heather and I, that is) well (i.e., the kids). But we arrived safely and are glad to be able to visit friends and family. Our kids are pumped as well.

We're already missing our friends & mission in Peru. Funny thing: within an hour of being out running errands trying to get our lives set up in the States, we saw a Peruvian restaurant!!! No kidding, plus we heard Boy George on the radio first day back (inside joke for our friends in Peru). It was almost like we hadn't left!

At any rate, thanks for your prayers. Blogging will be thin over the next few weeks since we'll be traveling (a lot) and will be doing well to try to check email. We do have a few posts scheduled to come out over the next few days. Check back soon....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who wants to be rich???

Recently, the Gather Little by Little Guy was prompted to think about wealth after reading a series of posts asking, "Who Wants to be a Millionnaire?" This are his reflections...
Sometime over the years, my definition of rich has changed. When I was younger, rich equated to nothing more than how much money I had. If thought that if I had a million dollars, I would be rich. Plain and simple right? Now though, the equation is far more complicated. I’ve matured enough to realize that being rich isn’t directly proportional to how much money you have in the bank. Being rich is how abundant you are. Being rich is instead about the value of the people and things around you.
Read more here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hamas has a new target....

Wow. Pray for this man.

WND reports "Son of top Hamas leader converts to Christianity."
The son of one of the most popular leaders in the Hamas terrorist organization has moved to the U.S. and converted to Christianity, it has emerged.

In an exclusive interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Masab Yousuf, son of West Bank Hamas leader Sheik Hassan Yousef, slammed Hamas, praised Israel and said he hoped his terrorist father will open his eyes to Jesus and to Christianity.

"I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he'll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity. Maybe one day I'll be able to return to Palestine and to Ramallah with Jesus, in the Kingdom of God," Masab said.
[HT]

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Sports Book, Contest, & My Sure-to-be Winning Entry

Filed under: "You've Gotta Check This Out"
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Over at Between Two Worlds, Justin Taylor has a post about a new book coming out by Stephen Altrogge called, "Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, and Wannabes." Looks like a great read. I hope its released by kickoff of the college football season!!!.

Altrogge is sponsoring a "Greatest Moments in Sports History" and is giving away copies of his book to the top ten entries. Simple: find your favorite sports clip on youtube and send it to him. If he uses the clip in his compilation of the 10 Ten Greatest Moments, you'll receive a free copy of his book! Check out JT's blog for contest entry details.

I already know what my entry will be....Team Hoyt.

This is a story about a father-son team, and it'll pretty much bring you to tears. Rick is handicapped due to being born with an umbilical cord around his neck. When he was 11, Rick saw a race and told his dad that he wanted to do that. His father began taking him out on runs, and Rick told him, "Dad,when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!" And Dick wanted to give him that liberty.

Rick has pushed his son in 26.2 mile marathons--85 times. Eight more times they entered triathlons where Dick pulled his son 2.4 miles on a dingy while swimming and pushed him 112 miles on a bike.

His is the video. Hang on.



Want more?



Here's the news story about the story by Rick Reilly that originally appeared in Sports Illustrated giving more details.
I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;" Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an Institution."

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. "No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain."

"Tell him a joke," Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!" And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want To do that."

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. "Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore For two weeks."

That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

"No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?"

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

"No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century."

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. "If you hadn't been in such great shape," One doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago." So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

"The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once."

Now there are some amazing stories out there, but honestly, is there one better?

Piper on Job in Austin

Filed under: "You've Gotta Check This Out"
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John Piper will be in Austin October 17-18 speaking on "Job: When the Righteous Suffer." I think this will be cool for two reasons: (1) John Piper has had a big influence on my thinking. We both have a great admiration for Jonathan Edwards. (2) Hill Country Bible Church is hosting the event and that is the church where I became a Christian.

Here's a description:
The book of Job asks the earnest question we all ask: “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Afflicted with disease, stripped of his wealth, and asked to confess to evil, Job reaches through his cloud of suffering and strains to touch his God.

As we ponder Job's misery, do we also see the threads of God's mercy in it?

We will all face suffering at some point in our lives; it is inescapable. But what makes calamity endurable is not that God shares our shock, but that through every flame of pain and flood of fear, his sovereign goodness sustains us and turns it all for our good.

For you who suffer, for you who will suffer, and for you who walk alongside those who suffer, we invite you to this conference to see and savor the One who suffered in our place, and who promises never to leave or forsake us.
I think we're in. Who's interested in going?

Click here for more info.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Chapmans on Tragedy, Orphans, and the Call to Engage

Popular Christian artist, Stephen Curtis Chapman, & family have been in the news lately. Many of you heard about the tragic death of Maria, one of their three adopted daughters from China in a terrible auto-accident.

In Thursday’s edition of CNN.com, Chapman wrote an article called, “OurTragedy & God’s Love for Orphans.” In it, he mentions that there are 143 million children in the world who have lost one or both of their parents. In America, there are some 120,000 waiting to be adopted. When we adopted, we were told that there were some 18,000+ kids in the foster care system of Texas alone.

At the conclusion of his very moving article, he lays down this challenge,
“If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

“We can each do something, whether it is donating, adopting, fostering, mentoring, visiting orphans or supporting families that have taken in orphans. You can change the world for an orphan.”
Not every family can adopt. Some have their hands full with young ones already. But some can. Certainly a lot more than 7% of the worlds Christians can.

Begin asking, “Why not?”

The Chapmans were on Larry King Live Thursday evening. Check out the interviews...

Part 1/6







Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Begin asking, “Why not?”

[HT|HT]

Talking like normal human beings

The Internet Monk has a great post on talking with post-modern, entertainment drenched, happy-go-lucky folks and asks, "Why can’t we just talk like human beings talk to one another?" The 'we' he mentions refers to 'Christians.' What prompts his question are the canned approaches to evangelism and the seeming inability (unwillingess?) of Christians to actually listen to non-Christians.
The iMonk opines,
"It’s as if we don’t believe non-Christians can be talked to on their own terms. We have to pull them into our presentation; into our “script.” They have to become the subject of our questions. They must be the dummies and we must be the ventriloquists. Evangelism training, preaching and apologetics must create some kind of a “subject” willing to allow, hear and answer the right questions. “Canned” presentations seem to be primarily about the Christians need to dominate a conversation. These all betray our fears that we may not be able to control what is presented or the conversations that might follow."
And he concludes:
"If we take seriously the unbelief of unbelievers, then we pray, share the Gospel and do so in a way that is completely incarnational. We do not make them into projects. We fully humanize the process of evangelism, and we take unbelief seriously....

"The God-shaped void is absolutely there. It is the HUMAN PERSON! But it is not a void…it is someone made in God’s image, a person loved by God; a person for whom Christ did all his mediating work. This person and their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) are not a threat to us. We do not need to manipulate or control them. We can allow them to have their life, their journey and their experiences. We do not need to demand anything of them for us to present/represent Christ to them.

"Yes. Today’s young people are bored with God. They are not “seeking” God at all, but are living on the hardened surface of a fallen human experience, seeking to make sense of what is incomprehensible apart from Christ. We cannot “create” interest apart from the work of the Spirit. Our calling to be witnesses is not to approach the world like cattle to be herded, but as persons to be loved in the way God loves this fallen world through Jesus Christ...."
Check it out.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Download Augustine's "Confessions" for free--this month only

Filed under: "You've Gotta Check This Out!"
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The patron saint of the Reformation, St. Augustine, is well-loved by Christians around the world. I have enjoyed studying several of his works, including On Free Choice of the Will; The Trinity, The City of God, & his Confessions.

During the month of August, you can download an audio version of the The Confessions of Saint Augustine for free from ChristianAudio.com. Normally a $26.98 cost, if you click here and enter AUG2008, you can get it for free.

Perhaps the most well-known line from the book (ch. 1), "You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in You."

[HT]

Unshared Joy & Joylessness Both Can Kill The Soul Slowly



"So this I find, that both unshared joy and joylessness are capable of killing the soul slowly. Therefore I must share my joy in God with others or else my soul will wither when the morning dawns on me."
These words were written by my friend, Francisco, who lives in Lima, Peru. He received his Ph.D. in engineering from Texas A&M. We actually overlapped a bit at TAMU, but we didn't know each other. He visited my home church, Westminster, after we left, and some folks told him that we were down in Trujillo, Peru. When he returned, he looked us up and came for a visit in Trujillo. He has a great heart for the Lord, has just recently joined the presbyterian church in Lima pastored by MTW missionary, Mark Barry, and I'm excited for the help Francisco will be to the future of Christ's kingdom here in Peru.

Francisco, thanks for all the great conversations! And thanks for sharing your joy with me.

Be sure to check out his blog.

Beware of Road Rage

Filed under: "Note to Self" and "No, I'm Not Making This Up"
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This just in....
A 71-year-old Cincinnati preacher was on his way to church when he allegedly waved a gun at another motorist and cursed at her.

The preacher, Thomas Howell, claims that the woman cut him off. Howell testified in court that he has a gun and permit but denied ever removing the weapon from its holster.

But a judge sided with the woman, who said the preacher threatened to shoot her and called her names as their cars chased each other.
Check out the rest here. And beware!

I laugh at this (in one sense) because I used to lean in this direction--well not to this extent!!! But living for two years in Peru where there are no road rules has cured me of this, methinks!

Misisonal: Old School

Filed under: "You've Gotta Check This Out"
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My good friend & cohort in Calgary, Shawn Doud, has a good post on being missional by carrying about the magnet.

He writes,
" 'Carrying about the magnet' describes beautifully what our church is attempting to do with our New City Project. We are a small church with no permanent building. We are located mere miles from several large churches and one mega church that attracts people from throughout the whole city. It would literally take millions of dollars and hundreds more people (and stuff) to become a "magnet church." Instead we will be able to mobilize many small magnets to where the unchurched and our church people live."
Click here to read the post.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Last Trip to the Orphanage

Filed under: "Just Sayin' "
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My beautiful bride blogged about the last trip she made with the kids to the local orphanage here in Peru. As you may recall, Heather led a Bible study for the house moms and our kids played with the kids at the orphanage during these studies. Our kids really looked forward to just one more visit before our return trip to the States, and they are going to miss this aspect of Peru big-time.

This post is really an excuse for me to express my thankfulness for my wife and kids. There are not enough words to describe how proud I am of my wife and her efforts to lead this study. And I'm immensely proud of my kids for their eagerness to minister to these children by simply playing with them, loving on them, and being a friendly presence in their lives. I have an amazing family. Just sayin'.

Thoughts on "Planet Earth"

Filed under: "You've Gotta Check This Out!"
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Have you all seen the BBS production of "Planet Earth"? If not, you should definitely invest the time to watch it. We have watched the series with our kids and we absolutely loved it for many of the same reasons Tim Challias loved it. Not too long ago, he blogged about 9 things he learned about God from Planet Earth. Here's a sneak peak...

God is...
...a God of variety
...a God of beauty
...a God of detail
...a God of the big picture
...a God of pleasure
...a God of laughter
...a God of His word
...a God of redemption
...a God of adventure.

The whole article is inspiring and well worth reading. We'll watch this series over and over again in the future.

(Click here for more info on Wikipedia & Discovery)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Futile attempts at love & relevance

Over at RelevantMagazine.com, Spencer Spellman asks, "Are We Cheapening Our Faith?" Such a question was prompted in his mind when he passed by a church sign that read, "Give Satan an inch and he'll be a ruler."

He opines,
"Is this where the Church in America has come to? Where Christianity is seen and communicated through t-shirts and marquees. We don’t communicate our business projects, vacation plans, and political positions through marquees and t-shirts, so we don’t need to communicate our faith through such means."
His point is that much of Christianity today is stuck in the ghetto of irrelevance, and these gimmicks are our cheap attempts to love our neighbor. Read the short but good article here.

His conclusion:
"The challenge then is to recapture the love of Christ. We will never be able to recapture that love until we stop living out of our own Christian sub culture and start spending time with Christ and with people. C.S. Lewis said it well when he stated: “Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.” Let us be a people who reveal ourselves fully, and better yet, reveal Christ fully."

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If you have the time, the 9marks blog has an interesting and very humorous entry entitled, "We Watch TBN So You Don't Have To." The comments section has an interesting discussion, too, on the place of satire and mockery in the quest for truth. One person opines, "Good satire isn't cruel since the target deserves it. A punch in the face can be cruel if the recipient is innocent, but it's not cruel to punch a mugger."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Horrific Sanity of the Joker

Joker: "The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules.”

Very interesting article by Ikonographer: "Heath Ledger's Joker is the Sanest Man in Gotham"...
"Heath Ledger’s Joker was frightening to me because he was bold enough to really live out the implications of his belief. He lives out what most people in this world are too cowardly to admit: that their rejecting of God as the moral center of the universe leaves them with no ability to declare wrong from right. The result is a world in which people must be freed to pursue their desires to their fullest extent."

Read the article here.

Can you tell that I can't wait to see it. Probably a few more weeks away at the earliest.

The Hopeless Task for Human Heroes

Filed under: "Echoes of Another World"
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Okay, I'll admit it. I really am looking forward to watching "The Dark Knight." I've heard so much about Heath Ledger's role as the Joker, so much about the issues the film raises. And then I read Margie Haack's post and it just sealed the deal for me. The Dostoevesky quote was icing on the cake....
At the end of the Dark Knight I was left in want of a hero large enough to make life meaningful again, someone who could bring light to the set, who could heal the lives ruined by injustice, crime, ambition, violence. The Batman, the faltering, finite hero we love, disappears into the night still determined to try to fix the world, but everyone, including him, knows how impossible and grievous this calling will be.

The movie underscores how hopeless this task for human heroes – to heal the earth of all its injustices, to offer choice even to The Jokers of the world. We wait for consummation, like Simeon the priest waited for the Consolation of Israel. Dostoevsky describes it perfectly in The Brothers Karamazov:

I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.

Read her whole review here. While you are at it, bookmark Dennis & Margie Haack's amazing site called Ransom Fellowship, a great analysis of pop culture from an informed Biblical worldview.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Great Find During Bout with Insomnia

This probably goes without saying (as noted from my previous post), I don't need any help with my cynicism, especially regarding silly stuff my evangelical brothers & sisters do. Couple that with the fact that I'm a recovering pessimist.
Last night, during a bout of insomnia, I came across this funny website: Stuff Christians Like. Its a slightly irreverent commentary on the world of evangelicals.

Think of it as the local court jester who can say what needs to be said with impunity.
Note to self #1: I think that every session/ board of elders should have a court jester. As Wikipedia says, "In societies where the Freedom of Speech was not recognized as a right, the court jester - precisely because anything he said was by definition "a jest" and "the uttering of a fool" - could speak frankly on controversial issues in a way in which anyone else would have been severely punished for, and monarchs understood the usefulness of having such a person at their side."

I think a court jester could have prevented the "You spin me right round, Jesus, right round" ________ [insert descriptive noun of choice] from occurring in the first place.

Note to self #2: I have often thought my friend, Andrew Brunone, would serve well in this position. Run the idea by him for our church plants in Calgary. We could use a "Session Jester."

Note to self #3: Run it by his wife first. Get Heather to talk with her.

But I digress...where was I...oh yeah.

Like I said, this site is probably not good for me. But it makes for some great night-time-insomnia reading.

I think I'll add it to my Google reader.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Can You Feel It? (What the Internet is Doing to our Brains)

Filed under: "Note to Self"
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Interesting thoughts from the Atlantic Monthly, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"
"I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I cantell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

"I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet...."

Read the rest here. Then get off the internet and work on your intelligence!

[HT]