He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

Friday, August 29, 2008 

Palin Has Won My Vote

It is harder to lead a family than to lead a nation. - Chinese Proverb

Sarah Palin is the mother of 5, with one of those children having down syndrome. I wonder what kind of mother she could be as a VP or governor, but I love her pro-life stance, I love that she has a large family, & I love that she fought against ethical violations within her own party & kicked tail in Alaska. I just wonder, is there any way we can make her the presidential candidate & McCain her VP choice? Ultimately, as a one issue voter, she puts the exclamation point to McCain's pro-life stance. To give McCain credit for swaying me, I became open to his vote when he admitted on national tv to Rick Warren that his greatest moral failure was the failure of his first marriage.

Obama is half black. He's as much white as he is black. Don't get confused that he's exploiting his black side to "make history" & "get your vote." But that's the only change he's bringing into office. His skin color. Besides that, he's as hollywood & DC as they come. He talks pretty. The guy has an incredible rhetoric ability, but he's given no concrete details except the democratic worldview of government as king. It's big goverment that people put their hopes & dreams in & expect to pave the way for them. I'm not a Republican, but at least the Republican party rhetoric is as a represenative of the people who make their own ways in life.

And it is interesting to me that the "man of change," Barack Obama, goes with the mainstream choice of Biden for VP whereas Palin is the true choice of change. A woman, a Washington outsider, & a dark horse with a proven record of not caving in to the pressures of the unethical party bigwigs, & a vote getter. Because of her as the VP pick, I won't be writing in Ron Paul's name as planned, but voting for McCain/Palin '08.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 

International & National Desires

If I had 20 lifetimes, these are the top 10 countries internationally & the top 10 cities nationally that the Lord keeps on my heart & mind & that I wish I could serve a lifetime's worth in:


1) Japan
2) China
3) Myanmar
4) North Korea
5) Thailand
6) Indonesia
7) Mongolia
8) Iran
9) Lebanon
10) Russia/Tibet (tie) - Tibet is not China


1) New York City
2) Washington D.C.
3) Pittsburgh
4) Chicago
5) Salt Lake City
6) Santa Fe
7) Birmingham
8) San Francisco
9) Toronto (I know, not national)
10) New York City

Self Observations:

My wife was commenting to me the other day about how there's a handful of places that the Lord consistently keeps in my heart. It's true. I never thought about it or took the time to write all of it down. I'd say there may be a couple of stretches on each list to make it to 10, but there has at least been an intrigue about the needs & the desire to serve in each of these places more than just an occasional thought.

I was surprised once compiling the list at some facts. First, internationally, I never realized how many of the countries & peoples I long for the most are majority Buddhist. Historically, they have been the most resistant to the Gospel, so that makes sense I guess.

Another surprising observation is how many cold-weather places made both my lists. I guess I'm pleased because I don't think weather should be a driving factor, but I much rather enjoy the idea of warm weather, but even more the idea of serving God in His will. Of course it's just a tad easier to make a list than live in a place day in & day out. In fact, the only warm location on my national list is my hometown of Birmingham, Al. And if you can't tell, I can't get NYC out of my blood since living there a couple years ago for a summer.

Final observations, no African, South American, or European nation on my international list. I got nothing against those areas, but I guess I'm wired for the East. Finally, all this was just fun to do & think about - for all I know that Lord has a future for us prepared in Helena, Al - He knows!

Monday, August 25, 2008 

More U.S. Women Having Fewer Children

The US Census data as of 2006 shows that in the last 30 years mothers are having one-third fewer children (1.9 versus 2.9 in 1976). Also, twice as many women forego ever having children as compared with 1976. If this trend continues, not enough babies will be born to replace the population. 2.1 children per woman are demographically needed for this.

- Brent Nelson | CBMW.org


Saudi Man Kills Daughter for Converting to Christianity



Why It's Good to Work in the World

Over the last few months since graduating from seminary, I've been working in the real world at a major university. In the 3 months I've been working in a non-Christian enviornment, I have had more refining discussions & opportunities to share than I did in 4.5 years of ministry training. Here are some direct quotes that I've interacted with from my co-workers:

  • Tolerance is the greatest virtue
  • Jesus Christ was a hypocrite
  • Who are you to say a Muslim or Buddhist aren't on their own pathways to God
  • You should focus on your neighbors & leave other countries to themselves
  • Jesus only ministered to Jews
  • I hate Christians

Now the shocker is every quote from above & every co-worker of mine claims to be a Christian (even the 2 guys that say they hate Christians & the one who said Jesus was a hypocrite). It's just some warped version of their own "christianity" they follow. This has led me to pray, wrestle, & learn in a much more potent way than I ever had to in a sterile environment. It also has allowed me the opportunity to practice boldness with love & patience & it has allowed me to be salt & light.

Sunday, August 24, 2008 

Closing Note From Japan

Below is a quote from the end of the summer report from the IMB missions team in Tokyo:

The spiritual atmosphere in Japan seems to be opening slightly compared to years past. Please pray that as Japanese people open their hearts to Christ, their families will look upon their decision favorably and even themselves become believers.

Pray that it be so.

Saturday, August 23, 2008 

I'm Just Sayin...

In a time of extraordinary evil, are you doing anything extraordinary?

- David Martyn Lloyd-Jones | Revival (part II) - Preparatory Stages (from Exodus 33)

Thursday, August 21, 2008 

Are You Sure?

I'm reading a book about the missionary call right now. In thinking in line with that title while pulling plants out of the ground at work this week, this thought came to mind:

Are you sure the Lord hasn't called you to missions because you're understanding of missions is only as broad as evangelism through church planting?

Has God called you to be an engineer? Did He tell you it had to be in the US?

Has God called you to preach? Did He say it must be among white people?

Has God called you to teach elementary school? Did he say it has to be in an english speaking country?

It would be my guess that for many of us, the answer to the 2nd questions above would be at best, "I don't know. I didn't pray about it."

I'm not for missions manipulation because someone going kicking & screaming is counterproductive. But I would encourage you to pray if God is calling you to use what you love & He has equipped you to do to glorify Him among the nations.

It could be that many who say they are not called to missions really haven't even crossed that bridge yet because they have assumed that because God has called them to teach, preach, do business, then necessarily that cancels the missions calling. In fact, all those things could easily be helpful tools in order to reach others for Christ! Are you so clear in your calling in life that you are certain that God said you must stay among the people of the United States of America?

Saturday, August 16, 2008 

Painting the Map Blue

The mining magnate Cecil Rhodes is said to have carried around a map of Africa with him. Each colony was shaded a different color, according to which European country had colonized it. Britain's colonies were shaded red, and Rhodes driving ambition was "to paint the map red."

In this "History of Religion" Map below, Christianity is represented by the color blue. Notice that there were two major rapid expansions of the church. One was during the time of the apostles. And another at the dawn of the missions era. Notice also where most of the green, red, and orange are. A great picture of the 10/40 window.

"And the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea."

- Joost Nixon | Wisdom Shouting

Friday, August 15, 2008 

Paul Loves the Old Testament

My friend Paul Caspers loves the Old Testament & waxes eloquently as to why. Well worth the read below...

I was reading this morning from The Daily Bible. I'm currently around 586 B.C., that's when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar finally captured Jerusalem and killed most of the remaining people, took 4,600 into exile, and left behind only the extremely poor with a puppet governor and the prophet Jeremiah. So, in the months leading up to the final destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah tells the people, the army, and the king that if they will surrender themselves to the king of Babylon then they will not be killed. However, he warns, if they stay in Jerusalem, then they are all going to die by the sword, pestilence, or plague. (Jeremiah 38 is the particular passage that caught my attention this morning.)

Now, it struck me that this is a message I've heard before somewhere else in the Bible. Surrender to the king and live, or try to preserve your present state and die. ..."For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it," (Luke 9:24, see also Matthew 16:25 and Mark 8:35). Maybe the parallel is lost on you; I never saw it until today. You see, Nebuchadnezzar was known as "the king of kings" the LORD himself calls him by this name through His prophets. The God of Israel was telling his stubborn, rebellious, falsely-religious, idolatrous people that to surrender their lives to the king of kings was their way of salvation. It was time for them to give up on all the trappings of being God's people that they had clung to and spend some time in exile in a foreign land, but their was always the promise of restoration to the land and to their corporate relationship with the LORD.

The people, by and large, would have none of it. They imprisoned Jeremiah and sought his slow death, multiple times, but God preserved His man. Eventually, the army of the king of kings arrived at the gates, and time was up for Jerusalem. The king with most of his remaining soldiers and officials tried to sneak out of the city. They were all put to death except the king; his eyes were put out and he was taken to Babylon and thrown in a prison until his death...just as the prophet Ezekiel had said he would years earlier. Everyone else who remained in the city, with very little exception, died of starvation from the siege, disease, or the very indiscriminate slaughter by the Babylonians. ...for the rest of the details you can read it yourself, I've departed from my point.

This is the Gospel in type and shadow. It isn't as clear as the bronze serpent that was lifted up and anyone who looked upon it was saved from the vipers' poison. It isn't as specific as the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah. But here, in the destruction of Jerusalem, is the gospel. Give up all that you know...all that you think life is...and follow the movement of God into a land you do not know...into a life you cannot comprehend. It is by surrendering the ground you seek to hold and submitting to be in service to another that life is found. And, there is a time of full restoration and freedom coming. In the history, that meant that Jerusalem was going to fall, God was preserving his remnant in foreign lands in service to other peoples, and eventually he would draw his people back and restore the land of Israel to their political control.

Eternally, all people are born living a life that is not really life...a life destined to end in starvation, violence, disease, or otherwise. There is no future for us here. There is only true Life--eternal, full, and free--if we will follow the One True God into a new kind of citizenship. If we will admit that we have destroyed our lives and relationship with God by both what we have done and failed to do, if we can recognize with His help that all that we hold dear is worthless junk, if we will believe that the true King of Kings has come...that Jesus is God's Anointed One, the Son of God, God Himself (think on it too much and you might bake your noodle)...and if we will confess that truth with our mouths and our lives, then we will live. We will live as citizens of Heaven in this ungodly world until the time comes for the full restoration of God's reign on earth.

The time is coming when the King of Kings will come to the gate. It will be too late for those refusing to surrender to escape His coming wrath. There is no injustice in it, in a thousand different ways they been warned. But those who have submitted to the King will be brought into His kingdom to enjoy His goodness and prosperity and even to reign with Him...forever.

I love the Old Testament because the gospel is there. Believe it.

- Paul Caspers | Paul's Place for Saying Stuff

Thursday, August 14, 2008 

Under Cover of Night

August 6th-8th Japanese from all over the country flock to the city of Sendai in celebration of the annual “Tanabata” Festival. While this “Star” Festival is celebrated throughout Japan, Sendai’s version is the most famous one. The festival itself involves making “requests”(praying) to stars for help with various life issues. Japanese write their requests on slips of paper which they then place alongside folded paper (”origami”) decorations on tree boughs. Later the tree boughs with all the paper decorations are burned as an offering. Shortly following the Star Festival is another major festival known as “O-Bon” or “All Souls’ Day” August 13th-16th.

The photo accompanying this article was taken on the playground of a local school during an annual neighborhood summertime festival. In the photo, as is the common practice in preparation for the Buddhist “O-bon” holiday, people are dancing a special dance in the evening to invite the return of deceased souls back to the earth. During the Star Festival Japanese people petition the stars for protection, sucess, health etc., whereas during the All Souls’ Day holiday Japanese people put their trust in the spirits of their ancestors to help them. Please pray for Japanes people to turn away from trusting in idolatorous practices and turn to faith in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Our Very Present Help in Time of Need, or in any other time for that matter.

- Donna Qualls | Outreachjapan.org

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 

Significance & Limitations of Short-term Missions

Signicance of short-term involvement

The list of accomplishments of short-termers is both long and impressive: vocational skills are shared, children of long-term missionaries are taught, tracts and Bibles are distributed, Christian charity is demonstrated, people are converted, local church leaders trained, and the body of Christ encouraged. These are genuinely worthwhile ministries. The name of God is glorified by them.

The significance of short-term missions is equally profound on those who participate. For instance, it is often the only way some professionals-- doctors, nurses, dentists, and veterinarians--can serve. It is considered by many to be the best way to find out if one is suited for a career in missions.

Perhaps, the most often mentioned benefit of short-term service is that "it leads to long-term commitment." This long-term involvement comes in two forms:

  1. Most short-termers become informed senders, i.e., those who return home and actively serve in the mission program of a local congregation.
  2. Some short-termers become career missionaries who take part in a wide variety of ministries throughout the world.

Limitations of short-term work

In spite of all the good that is accomplished, short-term arrangements cannot do everything that must be done overseas. One should expect certain limitations as part and parcel of short-term service.

For instance, cross-cultural mission work is not for everyone. For, if someone has emotional or spiritual problems at home, usually these difficulties will be amplified in a foreign setting.

Moreover, for some short-termers, the experience is disappointing. They expect--whether appropriately or inappropriately--to serve in the front lines of evangelism. Since they do not know the language or the culture, it is impossible for them to do what a long-term missionary does. The problem is not so much short-term missions per se, but the understanding of what short-term missionaries can rightfully be expected to accomplish.

The lack of church planting skills is the most serious limitation involving short-term workers. The reaching of the unreached for Jesus Christ, the planting of responsible, reproducing churches requires men and women who have learned the language, immersed themselves in the culture and have "come to stay" until the task is done.

Missionary personnel have been compared to military personnel. The army trains thousands of short-term recruits. Though they come and go, they are essential to battlefield success. However, the army depends on career people to develop the strategy and to lead the attack. The military knows it cannot replace long-term personnel with short-term recruits without courting disaster. The same is true for missions. Apart from the immediate service values of short-termers, which are considerable, there are also serious drawbacks to be considered. Seasoned leadership must not be sacrificed at the altar of expedience.

Potential in short-term appointments

  • Recognize the need for both short-term and long-term personnel. This is not an either-or issue. The business world thrives onboth part-time and full-time employees. The academic world utilizes both part-time and full-time faculty. Likewise, the missionary enterprise will be greatly enhanced when short-term and long-term personnel are creatively incorporated into the processes of finding and folding the lost. In carefully selected assignments, short-term missionaries can be extremely effective. This requires the examination of the overall mission strategy in order to decide what type of people are able to accomplish what kind of task. The critical ingredient here is matching appropriate personnel with the specific aspects of a mission program that will achieve the goal intended by our Father in heaven.
  • Train short-term workers before they are sent to the field. Unprepared people on the mission field can cause enough harm to neutralize the efforts of several trained missionaries. A minimal amount of pre-field orientation can eliminate a significant amount of heartache for those who send, for those who are sent, and for those to whom they are sent. If we are serious about our stewardship of money and manpower, it behooves us to train the troops before they are sent into the battle.
  • Encourage short-term recruits to become long-term missionaries. Our experience with an apprenticeship program at Abilene Christian University over the past fifteen years indicates that certain factors will assist short-term workers to consider long-term commitments. These factors are: (a) Choose candidates that could later qualify for long-term service; (b) Select competent field supervisors; (c) Inform both the short-term worker and the field supervisor of their respective responsibilities; (d) Assign the short-termer meaningful tasks that he or she is able to perform; (e) Require the short-termer to bond with the local people and make a genuine effort to begin learning the local language; (f) Do post-field debriefing with each short-termer to deal with negative feelings and experiences; and (g) Stay in touch with short-termers after they have completed their mission experience.
  • Missionary work should be weighed on two scales: quantity of service and quality of service. He serves best who serves well over a sufficient length of time to accomplish what God has called him to do.

    - Ed Mathews | Journal of Applied Missiology, Oct 01, 1992

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008 

    Death by Love - new book by Mark Driscoll


    Should We Be Rethinking Missions Training?

    There are millions of people coming to Christ in China, Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe. It is estimated that right now there is a need to train two million pastors to meet the needs of an exploding Church, and by the year 2015 that number will escalate to five million. How can we accomplish this monumental task? Certainly not by the traditional method of training men for the gospel of Christ through Bible schools and seminaries. By the old methods, the most men and women who could be trained in a 15-year period would be about 500,000. While there will always be a need for formal theological and biblical training, it is time to rethink missions strategy so that a maximum amount of people can be trained for gospel ministry.

    - Dr. Jack L. Arnold | Another Look At Missions For The New Millennium

    Monday, August 11, 2008 

    The Purpose Driven DEATH

    Sunday, August 10, 2008 

    Joshua Project

    Saturday, August 09, 2008 

    This Post is Quisquilious

    NPR ran a gripping story on a man who read through the entire Oxford English Dictionary in a year. Here is a list of some words he came across that he particularly relished. After reading it, you will know what to call that smell, how to describe when you're off your "A" game in kissing, an eloquent way to describe a hussy, & how to term your trek towards forming a good marriage, among other things. Forgive me if this blog entry comes across as twi-thought. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to bedinner me! If you don't enjoy it, then be careful - I may send someone to debag you...but it will never make me unlove you! Whatever you feel about it, it's not worth gymnologizing over! Well...don't just sit there all yuky...read the list! Please, please, hold your ruffing.

    antapology - a response or reply to an apology

    petrichor - the scent that rises from pavement after rain has begun to fall

    bedinner - to treat to dinner

    conjugalism - the art of making a good marriage

    debag - to strip the pants from a person

    dilapidator - a person who neglects a building and allows it to deteriorate

    gymnologize - to dispute naked, like an Indian philosopher

    miskissing - kissing that is wrong

    paracme - the point at which one is past one's prime

    quisquilious - of the nature of garbage or trash

    rapin - an unruly art student

    ruffing - the stomping of feet as a form of applause

    sanculottic - clothed inadequately, or in some improper fashion

    secretary - meant, during 4th c. "one privy to a secret"

    twi-thought - a vague or indistinct thought

    unlove - to cease loving a person

    vocabularian - one who pays too much attention to words

    xanthodontous - having teeth that are yellow, as do some rodents

    yuky - itchy; also, itchy with curiosity

    zyxt - to see

    Friday, August 08, 2008 

    Chapman Family Interview from Larry King Live

    The Chapman family (father is Steven Curtis Chapman - Christian singer) who lost their 5 year old daughter in a car accident when their son accidentally hit her in the driveway tell their story on Larry King Live. It's is well worth the time to watch!

    Interview HERE

    Steven Curtis Chapman also wrote an article for CNN titled Our Tragedy & God's Love for Orphans.

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008 

    The Problem With Ugly People

    Ugly people make life difficult for the Christian. It's not just that they are jerks, self-centered, hurtful, or annoying. Sure that's bad enough in itself, but the problem with the ugly person is that their problems become our problems.

    What I mean is, the Christian has to respond to the ugly person. And the Christian has only one option - to respond in love. Sometimes when dealing with the ugly person, I think myself victorious for dealing with them by retreating, by isolating myself, & not responding in evil, slander, or anger.

    But that's not an option, & it's certainly not one to be proud of. Matthew 5:44 spells it out clearly..."LOVE YOUR ENEMY." And sometimes the ugly person isn't your enemy. Sometimes they are someone you love who hurts you deeply & often. Sometimes it's the incessant, babbling, annoying co-worker. Sometimes it's a Christian brother or sister. Sometimes they are the ex-in-law who hurt your loved one & you feel like you want to make them your enemy. But regardless, the Christian has to love.

    And therein lies the problem. It's easy to love the loveable people. Jesus said in Matthew 5:46-48, "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?...And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?...You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

    See, before the ugly person came along to ruin your day, you were just fine in the flesh - living, loving, laughing, because you could in your own strength. But then the ugly person came along & just wouldn't shut up. Or they yelled at you. Or maybe they filed for divorce from your sibling. Or maybe they just ignored you...but now you have to do what you cannot on your own. You have to love them in return. And you cannot. And we now have to stop relying on ourselves, stop what we're doing, & cry out to the Lord, & depend on His Spirit, power, mercy, & grace. And that should be easy, but we have flesh, so it isn't. And we usually just choose to skip that whole stage & focus on the sin of the ugly person. And the reality is, you too are an ugly person.

    As pastor Joost Nixon wrote, "Love suffers long...Love suffers with immaturity, with brothers and sisters who grow oh-so-painfully-hurry-up-and-get-out-of-this-stage slowly. Love suffers wrong heads, wrong hearts, wrong actions. Love puts up with all of this, and more. Not once, not twice, but again, and again, and again. Serving, praying for growth, smiling, staying near and not aloof, recognizing that God shows a similar love towards us. Love does all this--and not for just a little while. Love suffers long."

    Saturday, August 02, 2008 

    Know Thine Own City

    Using maps, charts, reports, and relevant links, ERsys covers over 2600 US cities with detailed information on demographics, environmental factors, economic indicators, housing stats, media (newspaper, television, and radio), schools, transportation, local contacts, and much more!


    Friday, August 01, 2008 

    Does Biblical Teaching Inform Your Missiology?

    All missiological decisions must be rooted, either implicitly or explicitly, in theology so that they mirror the purposes and mind of God. Frequently, however, missions practitioners take the theological foundation of missions for granted. Paul Hiebert writes: Too often we choose a few themes and from there build a simplistic theology rather than look at the profound theological motifs that flow through the whole of Scripture. Equally disturbing to the foundations of mission is the dangerous potential of shifting from God and his work to the emphasis of what we can do for God by our own knowledge and efforts. We become captive to a modern secular worldview in which human control and technique replace divine leading and human obedience as the basis of mission (1993, 4).

    Hesselgrave confirmed this absence of theological foundations in contemporary missiology by making a thematic content analysis of book reviews and articles published in major missions journals (Missiology, International Review of Missions, and Evangelical Missions Quarter). Concluding that the social sciences and history have been given more attention in the study of missiology than has theology (1988, 139-44), he asks, “Of what lasting significance is the evangelical commitment to the authority of the Bible if biblical teachings do not explicitly inform our missiology?” (1988, 142). Without theological foundations missions quickly becomes merely another human endeavor.

    - Gailyn Van Rheenen | Monthly Missiological Reflections | Aug 2001, Vol. 20

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