Monthly Archives: July 2007
I received this e-mail today from a close friend of our family. Her name is Rose Mwangi and she lives in Nairobi, Kenya. Let’s take a moment and give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.
Dear family and friends,
Today is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Last Saturday July 28, 2007 begun as a normal day for me but one thing I picked out –I had such a strong desire to live and I asked the LORD to give me a scripture that would carry me through the day. God led me to PSALM 118:17-I WILL NOT DIE BUT LIVE TO DECLARE THE WORKS OF GOD!!
At about 11 am I was slowly driving from a side road near Safari Park Hotel from USIU (united states international university) and when I got onto the main road(Thika Road) a man ran towards me with a pistol pointed directly at me!-a certain peace came over me and when I realized what was happening , I silently called out THE NAME OF THE LORD-NGAI !(GOD)! In kikuyu.
In a flash, the man was destructed by a man running on a side path and I heard bullets go off one after another as he begun chasing him. Then a second man ran from the opposite side of the road and came towards me with his pistol pointing in the air. He looked at me and with his pistol signaled me to drive on!
I sped off and it occurred to me that God had just rescued me from another line up of gun murders in our city!!
WHAT A MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!
If you can thank God for anything today, please thank HIM for sparing my life!! And that you too can live to declare of his wonders!
INDEED THE NAME OF THE LORD IS A STRONG TOWER, THE RIGHTEOUS RUN UNTO IT AND THEY ARE SAFE!
I don’t know why the LORD SPARED MY LIFE, but i did not acknowledge CHRIST as my LORD AND SAVIOR, am not sure I would have had the confidence to call upon the name of my FATHER IN HEAVEN and I urge you my friends and family-ACCEPT CHRIST TODAY FOR TOMORROW MAY BE TOO LATE!
PSALM 91 FOR YOU AND I love you all .
I’m not sure if it’s theologically kosher to pick a favorite book of the Bible, but if I could pick a favorite book , the answer would be Ecclesiastes. For me Ecclesiastes is like food for the soul. I love reading the Psalms and I love reading Proverbs, but there is something about the book of Ecclesiastes that grabs me every time I read it. I would even suggest that if one only reads the Book of Proverbs, (which was written during the years of Solomon’s reign) and skips over Ecclesiastes ( which was written towards the end of his life); it is like watching Megan Fallows play an adolescent in Anne of Green Gables without watching her grow to maturity in Anne of Avonlea.
Without going into an exposition of the entire book, I would like to point out a passage in Ecclesiastes that I think is probably the most unique passage in the entire Bible. The passage is found in Ecclesiastes 9:11, “I returned and saw under the sun that-The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to all.”
Not only is this the most unique verse in all the Bible, I think it is the most unique verse in all of religion. Every religion that I can think of teaches a strict reciprocity principle. You get what you deserve and that’s the end of the story. Buddhism and Hinduism teach karma, Islam teaches that everything that happens is directly willed by Allah (and Allah gives people what they deserve). The strict reciprocity principle even makes its way into human cultures.The idea that one’s lot in life is directly proportional to the choices one makes is an idea nearly enshrined in American culture. As far as I know, the Bible is the only religious book that allows for time and chance.
I’m glad this is in the Bible. If it weren’t, I think we could all rightly question whether the Bible is truly the Word of God, because if a book is going to make the claim to be inspired by God, shouldn’t it at least portray reality as it is? While most of us prefer to believe that we are in control of our lives, the reality is-dung happens.
Forrest Gump was right. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes the righteous suffer the majority of their lives through little fault of their own. Other times the wicked prosper despite their evil deeds. Sometimes talentless people strike record deals. Other times world class singers like Eva Cassidy spend their lives in virtual anonymity and die of skin cancer in their early thirties. One just happened to be at the right place at the right time and the other just couldn’t catch a break.
Knowing this helps to put things in perspective. Things don’t always turn out like they should. That’s just life. I think Solomon understood that it is better to adjust to the nuance of reality than to live in a fantasy world of predictability. I don’t have a degree in Psychology, but I have a feeling that adjusting to reality makes good mental sense. So the next time I see the world famous bumper sticker with a slightly different word for dung, I’ll think to myself, just one more reason to believe the Bible.
If you are older than 40 and were not living in a cave in 1987, you probably remember Tammy Faye Bakker (who later became Tammy Faye Messner) for her fake eyelashes, tear-stained mascara, and air-conditioned doghouse. In evangelical circles, and among non-Christians, Tammy Faye has been one of the easiest targets for cheap shot jokes, especially for late night comedians. For many Christians, Tammy Faye’s name has come to be associated with opulence, excess, and, in general, what many people believe to be wrong with the American Church.
I’ve seen Tammy Faye interviewed several times on Larry King and, I have to admit, I’ve grown to appreciate her more than I thought I ever would. I appreciate how Tammy Faye forgave her former husband, Jim Bakker (and stood by him while he was in prison). Even more so, I appreciate how she forgave Jerry Falwell for putting her and her family through hell. I also appreciate how Tammy Faye was able to go on with life after losing her husband, her home, her ministry, and still manage to smile through it all. Who else can you think of that has lost so much, been the subject of personal attacks by the media (and by her fellow Christians) and yet, manage not to take herself too seriously?
Through it all, Tammy Faye never stopped loving and laughing, although there were plenty of people who wanted her to stop doing just that. Although her name had become synonymous with scandal, Tammy Faye found a way to keep on living. Tammy Faye was far from perfect. But then again, so am I. I’m so glad that God uses imperfect vessels to spread His love around the earth.
Tammy Faye passed away over the weekend.
Rest in peace.
When I was a student at Christ for the Nations, Freda Lindsay, (the institute’s co-founder) would address the students at the beginning of each semester with a simple challenge. On January 1st, read three chapters of the Bible every day and five on Sunday and, by the end of the year, you will have read the Bible straight through. Like a responsible leader of a Bible School, Freda challenged her students to read the Bible straight through every year for the rest of their lives.
Although I’ve been reading the Bible from cover to cover since I was about 14, I have found Mom Lindsay’s (that’s what CFNI students affecionately call her) plan to be simple and very effective, which is why I have been on the Mom Lindsay plan for about 8 years now. Unlike a lot of my colleages, I do not underline in my Bible. The reason for this is because I don’t want to limit myself to the things that stood out for me in previous years. I would rather have the same verses, or perhaps new verses, jump out at me in a fresh and new way every year.
In light of my year and a half long journey working on the film Holy Wars with director Stephen Marshall, today’s reading took on an added significance as I read this word of wisdom from King Lemuel’s mother in the Book of Proverbs chapter 31 verses 4-5:
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
I am not a drinker, nor do I plan on starting any time soon. On the other hand, neither am I a theological teetotaler. Even though I’ve never heard a pastor preach on this verse (and neither have I ever seen inner-city pastors giving whiskey to the homeless) I’m guessing that, with the exception of a few ultra-conservative pastors, the majority of evangelical pastors, whether charismatic or non-charismatic would agree with the statement that drinking in and of itself is not a sin, but drunkenness is. I always find it humorous when I read the Apostle Paul’s advice to the Corinthian Christians getting drunk on communion. The great Apostle’s advice is basically “If you want to drink. Drink at home.” (author’s paraphrase of I Corinthians 11:21-22) In light of a few curious verses like this one,and the fact that our Lord and Savior actually turned water into whine at a wedding ceremony, there is sound hermeneutical grounds for this conclusion.
Here is the problem I am dealing with. If you go to one of the many Muslim countries in the world that has a Christian minority and ask an ordinary Muslim on the street what he thinks of when he thinks of the word Christian, the likely response will be. “Oh, that’s easy. Christians are the ones that drink.” This is not a statement of judgment on Christians living as minorities in Muslims countries. In fact, I can hardly blame them. I imagine if I were forced to live in deplorable conditions because of my religious status, I might get a little tipsy too after an overbearing work day.
The deeper question I am thinking about is this. Since I am a Christian committed to the integrity of Scripture, I am obligated to view Christian morality as superior to Islamic morality. This makes sense. If it were otherwise, I would be a Muslim. It also means I have to defend the Christian standard of morality, which in this case, prefers moderation over abstinence.
This is not a moot issue. What few realize is that behind the more visible causes many attribute to the rise of radical Islam (such as the presence of U.S. troops in Muslim lands, the oppression of the Palestinians, Western economic imperialism, the U.S.’s support of corrupt dictators in Muslim lands), there is a fundamental belief among Muslim societies that their culture and way of life is superior to that of the West. The argument is that Christianity, although it preaches love and peace, isn’t able to produce a just and orderly society because Jesus did not give a comprehensive system of government to regulate every aspect of life as did Muhammed.
The common Christian response is that societies can only change if hearts change. The Muslim response is well that’s all good and nice, but just look at your society. On an individual level, the Christian case is a solid one. We all know self-righteous people who think they are better than everyone else simply because they follow a list of do’s and don’ts. This is also evident in Muslim societies. Nobody likes a Pharisee, including many Muslims. On an individual level, if we are comparing grace with legalism, grace wins.
The problem comes when we look at the question of Christian morality (which applies very well on an individual level) and apply it to society. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. My question I would like to present to my readers is this: How do we make the case that societies rooted in Christian morality are morally superior than societies rooted in Islamic morality? Or should we try to make this case at all?
It’s not everyday you hear about positive developments in the Middle East. I received this story from the Missions Catalyst e-newsletter put out by the Caleb Project. Enjoy.
In April 2007 a lower court ruled against 45 Copts who had converted to Islam or been deemed Muslim on account of the conversion of a parent, but who wanted to officially return to Christianity [the traditional religion of Coptic people]. The lower court ruled that Muslims, even if they are converts from Christianity, could not be permitted to apostatize (leave Islam). The Copts decided to appeal.
On July 1, Judge Essam Abdel Aziz of Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favor of the Copts and agreed to consider the merits of their case. A retrial has been slated for September 1, 2007.
“The decision by the Supreme Administrative Court to consider the case of Egyptian converts to Islam wanting to return to their Church is very positive,” said Ramsis al-Naggar, the Coptic lawyer who represented 12 of the plaintiffs. “It proves there is still a window of freedom in Egypt.”
“It is a step in the right direction,” Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said. “We are optimistic that the Supreme Administrative Court will eventually uphold the principles of religious freedom and non-discrimination, both of which are guaranteed under the Constitution and international law.”
Last week I wrote a letter to my representative Congressman Russ Carnahan regarding Farm Bill Reform. Thinking I would get a form letter pretending to be a personal response, I instead got put on a mass e-mail list. God bless democracy! Here are a few tips on how to conserve energy from your friendly neighborhood Congressman Russ Carnahan.
Making sure your home is properly insulated. Proper insulation in attics, ceilings, floors, crawlspaces and exterior and basement walls can save 30 percent on home heating bills;
Installing a programmable thermostat. Turning down a thermostat from 72 to 65 degrees for eight hours a day will save up to 10 percent on your heating bill;
Replacing existing light bulbs with Energy Star qualified fluorescent lights in the lamps and fixtures in your home; this can save up to 50 percent on lighting costs.
Unplug appliances when not in use.
Use appliance efficiently running the dishwasher only when necessary and full. Setting proper washing machine levels, and keeping dryers free of lint.
Don’t forget to turn out lights when leaving the room, and keeping blinds up for light during colder months, down to keep heat out during warmer months.
Even setting your computer to sleep or hibernate can limit energy use.
While most of this is common sense, I didn’t know that keeping your dryer free from flint helps conserve on energy. On second thought, being the man of the house, is that something I really need to know?
Note to feminists: I’m actually not a chauvinist. That last line was a sorry attempt at humor. Lighten up!
Anybody up for saving the planet today?
There is a verse in Ecclesiastes that says, “He who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” The more I learn about global issues such as extreme poverty, human trafficking, the persecution of Christians, religious fundamentalism,the easier it is to throw my hands up in despair and say “What’s the use?” The situation becomes even more discouraging when I think about how the name of Christ is being dragged through the mud by T.V. preachers justifying colonialism and oppression in the name of Christian Zionism. At the time of this writing, I am unaware of any respected Pentecostal/charismatic leader in America speaking out against home demolitions and land seizures by Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. To the contrary, many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are actually promoting this! In the name of Christ! Somewhere, somehow, the Pentecostal/charismatic movement that started out as a beautiful egalitarian movement on Azusa street has decided to turn God into a racist and a land-broker.
As heartbreaking as it is to see the T.V. preachers lead a sizable portion of American Christians on a death march to Armaggedon, I am encouraged when I read the 5th chapter of Romans and discover that in the end, “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” I was actually planning on writing a post today about how the effects of Christ’s righteousness far outweighs the effects of Adam’s sin when it comes to the human race, but, lo and behold, the guest speaker at my church yesterday beat me to it! Now my fellow South County Christian Center readers are going to have to forgive me for reiterating what was so beautifully stated yesterday morning.
Perhaps the greatest comfort to me right now is knowing that in the end, everything that is wrong will be made right. Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more!
Are people in Eastern Congo dying so that you and I can have cell phones and laptop computers? Read this article and you be the judge. I’ve been reading a lot about the crisis in Congo lately. I think that we as Christians need to pray for the people of Congo-and take responsible action if necessary.
Pete, I found a new job for you. Sorry, couldn’t pass this one up.
Will Ya Do It for the Kids?
From: Shane Bennett
When you’ve been a mobilizer as long as I have, you pick up a few tricks. (C’mere, youngster. Pull up a chair next to Uncle Shane and let me tell you a thing ‘r two. And bring me a glass a tea, will you? No ice.)
Now you’ve surely never done this one, but you’ve seen it, right? If you spin an issue so people see that it might affect children, you get more attention and much more response. People are just more apt to jump out of the pew to do something for cute (or even not-so-cute) kids than they are for fat, old guys with bad breath! Kids move people. Manipulative mobilizers know how to use (abuse?) this dynamic.
For this month’s Practical Mobilization article, you might think I’m slipping to such depths, but I hope there’s no manipulation here. Just an idea that has crossed my desk and mind lately, one I think deserves more-widespread attention.
I feel a little bad about this idea because I’m excited to advocate for it, but I’m never going to do it myself. Curious?
This seems like such a great way for two whole classes of people, in particular, to get exposed to the world while making an honest and worthwhile contribution to God’s Kingdom.
The first class consists of young, single women. Here’s an opportunity for a female missionary to live in some of the furthest reaches of the planet without totally making her dad panic. She would live with and be under the protection of an experienced missionary family. She would serve them and release them to be more effective in their work. This service would likely take the form of child care, education, and household duties.
Older women might also find great fulfillment in this role. When I’m speaking to a church crowd on Sunday morning, I love to mention a skill that many people have, but few recognize as applicable to missions. I’ll ask “How many people have raised children?” Many will raise their hands. I’ll ask “How many have raised children that other people enjoy being around?” Most hands stay up, and if I’m lucky a few people chuckle. Then I use my serious voice and say, “You have developed skill and expertise through managing your home and raising your children that can make a significant impact in the lives of missionary families.”
Understanding The Need
We’ve all seen the pattern: A young couple finds each other and has a growing vision for the world. Their local church is so happy because you can just see these guys will make great missionaries. They marry, wait the required amount of time to solidify their marriage, then head off to the wild blue yonder. Let’s say they go to Shanghai. As the circle of life goes, in several months you hear the exciting news that a baby is on the way. A year or so later, baby number two, then three. Before their first furlough they might have built their own people group!
Now imagine what their house is like: Their life is filled with ministry, they’re living in a strange culture, and Grandma is half a globe away. Though they live in arguably one of the most modern cities in the world, their apartment is a jungle as wild as any you might see on a three-day paddle from civilization in Central Brazil.
They need someone to say, “Hey, I know what it’s like. Here’s what I tried and it worked okay.” If the connection can be made and such wisdom applied, that young family might experience a season of peace that they didn’t know could ever be. And that might lead to a season of success in ministry that they hadn’t even imagined.
Many of the people who think they have the least to offer actually have the most. Missionary nanny is a role that can release the hard-earned wisdom and expertise of our experienced moms.
Seizing The Opportunity
The first logical stop to learn more is missionnannys.org. Yes, astute spellers, the plural form of “nanny” is “nannies,” but trust me, that’s the correct url. It also seems wise to inquire with the missionaries sent out by your own church. Would a family your church is already connected with benefit from a nanny – or home-school teacher? Finally, check with a respected agency. My new tribe, Frontiers, has opportunities to play just such a role in some really cool cities around the globe.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but a missionary-nanny opportunity could end up in a big mess. If you’re considering doing this or you’re encouraging someone you care about to consider it, please ask yourself and the family you’ll serve some honest questions:
* How would a role like this fit in with what God’s doing with my life?
* What exactly will I be expected to do? Can you list my responsibilities?
* What time will I have off?
* Will there be time for me to hang out with local people? Learn the local language?
* What will the living arrangements be?
* What will the financial arrangements be?
* Is this a last-ditch effort to convince your wife to stay on the field? (You might want to find a more subtle way to ask that one!)
* Have you had previous experience with a missionary nanny? How did it go?
A Call to Mobilizers
Will you join me in throwing out the net for this particular role? Missionary nannies and home-school teachers can be a great asset to families living and working in frontier situations. And they can be a wonderful shaping experience in the lives of both older and younger women (or men!). Finally, they can minister love and care to some sharp, young kids, braving challenging lives in strange cultures.
Can we do it for these children? If it makes a difference for only one of them, it will be worth it. (Oh, sorry. I got a little manipulative there at the end!)
If you have thoughts to add to make this a conversation rather than a monologue, please send me an email. If you have a real-world missionary-nanny story to tell (either as a nanny or one nannied), either good or bad, I’d love to hear it.
And as always, feel free to pass this issue along to anyone else you think might be interested!
I went down to the Sunshine Mission this past Sunday with my church small group to feed the homeless and share a message. I have a great admiration and respect for the people who founded the mission. It is very well organized and well-maintained. We started the chapel with Josiah leading the men in worship. Instead of singing to them, we invited the men to sing the songs that they wanted to sing. One thing the team talked about afterwards was how the men preferred to sing songs that we see as songs you sing in children’s church. Songs like “He’s got the whole world in His hands” and “This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.”
I’m not sure if I’ve ever preached on Ruth before, but I thought it was particularly relevant for this particular group. The text I spoke on was 1 Corinthians 1:26 which says, “For you see your calling brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. but God has chosen the foolish things of this world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the mighty, and the based things of the world, and the things which are despised, God has chosen.”
I titled the message “The person God chooses.” I made the point that Ruth was an illegal immigrant living off the generosity of others (aka…welfare) , but God chose her to be in the royal lineage because she kept her integrity. I also made the point that Boaz is a type of Christ who chooses us despite our social standing.
Ruth reminds us there is a human face to the least and the despised among us. In an age of political discontentment and polarization, let’s not forget about the Ruths among us.