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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 

What's a Christian Dad Supposed to Do?

  • Vision—Paint a broad picture for your family as to where you see your family going in the future.

  • Direction—This is how you will get there. Here you have mapped out the steps it will take in getting from point A to point B. It would be best to perhaps set up a family creed or confession of sorts to help keep you rooted.

  • Instruction—You need to prepare your family for the inevitable obstacles. It is here where you become proactive rather than reactive.

  • Imitation—Your children are watching you whether you realize it or not. You need to be able to say to them, do as I do. This is the heart of leadership and discipleship. It is important that here you model what it means to be repentant. You are going to mess up and your kids will see that. They will also see how you respond to your mistakes.

  • Inspiration—Here you need to develop a group thought of “isn’t this great?” Think of yourself as a general in charge of the morale of your troops.

  • Affirmation—You need to tell each individual in your group that they are doing well. This is especially more true to affirm your wife (or husband) than your children. Nonetheless, it is important that you are affirming to everyone in your house. Point out the evidence’s of God’s grace in their lives even if they have messed up.

  • Evaluation—This is key to make sure you are staying the course. Here lies the true burden of leadership. I have found that the more you evaluate the less of a burden it becomes.

  • Correction—Be willing to make changes as the need arises. Not everything you begin or do is going to work.

  • Protection and Provision—You need to make sure your family knows that you will take care of them. It is one thing to say this but something completely different to actually do it. This includes the spiritual realm that so often gets relegated to the mother—especially if the family is homeschooling.

- Randy Stinson as blogged by Terry Delaney

Saturday, August 28, 2010 

A Valuable Tool for Children: Jesus.org

Jesus.org website screenshotAs someone who has four kids and works in children’s ministry, there is one thing I have found to be true of (most) all kids – they ask questions! Many times they ask lots and lots and lots of questions. Sometimes they ask questions that we don’t know the answer to. In a children’s ministry setting, or as a parent, the worse thing you can do is try to “fake it” when your kids ask you a question about God or the Bible and you really don’t know the answer.

That is why I am excited to tell you about a great new resource on the internet that can help you find the answers when your kids pose a question you just don’t know the answer to. The name of the site is Jesus.org. It’s a project of the Salem Web Network. Here’s their own description:

Jesus.org offers biblical answers to common questions about Jesus Christ. Many people have questions about Jesus and on this site you will find biblical answers to the most common questions asked about the birth and life of Jesus, his ministry and disciples, and of course the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

In addition, you will find resources to help you in your daily walk with Jesus Christ, including information about repentance, faith, salvation, evangelism, missions, discipleship, and Christian newsletters.

In one easy-to-use site, Jesus.org offers questions to many of the most common questions about God from authorities in Theology and the Bible throughout the ages. Questions are answered by the likes of:

  • John Piper
  • John MacArthur
  • Chuck Swindoll
  • Charles Stanely
  • R.C. Sproul
  • James MacDonald
  • A.W. Pink
  • Greg Laurie
  • Tim Keller
  • James Boice
  • Alistair Begg
  • J. Vernon McGee
  • Alfred Edersheim
  • J.C. Ryle
  • Matthew Henry
  • Bruce Ware
  • Hank Hanegraaff

The site classifies questions into six general categories. Those are:

  1. Birth of Jesus
  2. Life of Jesus
  3. Death & Resurrection
  4. Early Church History
  5. Is Jesus God?
  6. Following Jesus

This site is not designed specifically for answering questions posed by kids. In reviewing the answers, it is clear that you will not simply be able to print these answers and recite them to kids in answers to their questions (I would love to see something like that, but that is not the purpose of this site). That said, I think all of us who work with kids know that they are capable of asking deep theological questions. Faced with a question you just can’t answer, this site will allow you to look it up and then answer the questions posed by the kids you teach.

Last summer, I started a series on Dad in the Middle called Questions Kids Ask in an attempt to answer (in more kids friendly language) some of the deeper questions I have had kids ask me. I got through Who Made God? and Why Did God Make Us? but haven’t added to that series in a while. This site has inspired me to get back to that series and tackle some of the questions posed there about Jesus. I will definitely be using Jesus.org as a resource in fashioning those answers for kids.

As those who teach kids, we must be constantly expanding our own knowledge base. Jesus.org will be a valuable tool in that process.

- Ministry-to-children.com

Friday, August 27, 2010 

Facebook Fail: Interesting Perspective from a Missionary

For the record, being on the mission field gave me this perspective on facebook - I wholeheartedly agree with this:

A few weeks ago I realised it had been a long time since hearing from one of my best friends back in the States, so I dropped an email to check in, asking to chat sometime. I hadn’t heard back so the other day I rang and left a message: let’s chat when you have a moment. Finally I got a quick email back that said: “Been busy, got lots update you on, but I’ve been keeping up with you on Facebook. Glad to see you got to go to that wedding…” and so followed a list of what I’ve been doing the last few months. That’s nice, except for one thing.

I’m not on Facebook.

I’ve never signed in, uploaded photos, or reported my life on it. But other people are on Facebook, including My Other Half, which is where my friend got the info.

When I was at the aforementioned wedding, I was catching up with several friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I listened with interest to their latest stories and escapades, and then it came my turn to share my latest news. As I started to say each one, I was met with a quick cut-off, “Yeah, I saw that/read about it on Facebook,” indicating that they clearly did not want to hear deeper nuance or further details. And then there was nothing for me to say. Each conversation fell dead in the water when it came to my life.

I have purposely kept off Facebook so I could have real conversations with real people, especially those here in my field. And, despite not wanting to be fooled “into thinking we are both showing and seeing [reality]” , here Facebook was, taking away the last bastion of interaction. For any human, this is hard, but for a missionary long in the field, this is tragic.

Much has been said about whether missionaries should use Facebook (or Twitter, or whatever variety of social media). I’ve mentioned it, my mention has been mentioned, and others have mentioned it in regards to Christians in general. Far from a luddite and ever the Techno-Geek, I seriously pondered years ago whether I should be on Facebook. Personally, I didn’t want to share loads of info online (I think of it as Reverse Stalking, i.e. you provide all the details a stalker would be interested in) and would rather have one-to-one contact with people. I mean, I have a US phone number that rings here, Skype, a phone and a cell phone. There’s several ways, mostly free, to have a real-time conversation, an interaction with me if you’re not available in person.

Meanwhile, for our missionary support, My Other Half diligently keeps up the Facebook account, and I can report that it has helped keep our support and supporters informed better than our e-newsletter, blog, and print newsletter, all of which I keep going.

With parts of my life being broadcast, I’m beginning to understand how the celebrity feels when a third-party magazine starts publishing their trivial details. These friends think they know me from a few bits of information or a photo. The irony is that none of my friends, family or acquaintances know I write this blog.

If you’re on Facebook, that’s your call. Seriously. If it’s not become a god to you and is truly enhancing your relationships, by all means keep going. For me, perhaps it’s being in a relational field for so long, but I’d rather the personal touch, even if it means I don’t have 500 “friends” or don’t know that a classmate from the Third Grade is trying to decide on tacos or burritos for lunch.

So, even with some possible benefits, why don’t I want to post things on Facebook?

There are some things that are too long or detailed to post.
I’m told by My Other Half that most of social media is about pithy, short posts or updating the world about your mood at the moment. But how do I communicate some of the nuances of mission life here in 140 characters or less? (Yes, I know that’s Twitter, but you get my point) I get the feeling that all anyone wants to hear about when I have a face-to-face interaction with them is that I’m “doing fine” and things are “going well”; anything else takes too long and they have no attention span for that.

There are some things that can’t be said to a general audience.
No one really reports everything. If they did, then the church planter (who was also a prolific Twitterer) who was caught in the middle of long-term infidelity would have been tweeting about meeting the mistress. But he didn’t. Just because someone appears to tweet, report, etc. about loads in their life doesn’t mean that you’re getting the full picture, nor does it mean you “know” them. You only know “about” them, and isn’t that the same as reading those celebrity gossip magazines?

There are some things that shouldn’t be said to a general audience.
Reporting on things like bathroom breaks or regular, day-to-day stuff is just trivia and trivial. Not only do I not want to know these things about other people, I fear that announcing such things about oneself in a public format fosters narcissism and an unhealthy expectation of drawing public attention to common actions. It’s not amazing that you took out your trash today. Most everyone has to do this. I just don’t want to lose brain cells retaining that kind of knowledge that’s really nothing. I’d rather personally find out how you’re honestly doing than publicly know what you’re doing.

There are some things best shared in person (or at least in real-time communication).
Written communication has its limitations. Why do we have to literally indicate sarcasm in a written piece, when most people can pick up on the spoken tone? When you ask someone a question, the hesitation before the answer or the strain in the voice may indicate that they want to speak more and are trying to find the strength to do so. You can’t tell that in a text response. And we’re created with multiple senses for a reason. As I said before, for now, there is no substitute to physically being in the same moment, such as sharing a laugh in a coffee house or sitting in a park, experiencing the situation’s assault on your senses. At least with a phone call or video chat, you’ve engaged the sound as well as the sight.

I can report that my friend finally did call me back, and we were able to chat, catching up on so much of each other’s lives. I was able to discuss personal details that are just not public fodder, and I now know better how to pray for my friend, who uses Facebook to keep up on others’ lives but doesn’t update their Facebook page at all. Personal interaction may be dying a slow death, but I’m still not going on Facebook. There’s just something about hearing your friend’s voice and having a heart-to-heart conversation that can’t be replicated by technology.

- C. Holland

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 

Life & Law - Spanking as Violence? Are Capital Punishment & Pro-Life at Odds?

Gods law is the standard from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Oh for a mind & heart like Papa Doug.

Monday, August 23, 2010 

True Christianity: Thoroughly Communal

I am increasingly nonplussed by a Christianity—albeit Reformed in doctrine—that is as hermetically sealed as any of the individualistic ideologies of contemporary North American culture. We do church Sunday morn and eve, and then retreat to our separate worlds and our paths rarely cross with our fellow worshippers till Wednesday prayer meeting or the Lord’s Day following. What kind of Christianity is this? What kind of Christianity is it that does not create communities of friends?

I have never gotten over the communitarian spirit of those far-off days of the 1960s when some of us were given a vision of community that the spirit of that era could not achieve. The solidarity of the Marxist International sparked by reading Che and Marcuse turned out to be nothing but a bad dream. And the communes of peace and love espoused by the hippie culture disappeared into the rigidity of the political correct communities and their watchdogs of the 1980s and 1990s.

But when we became Christians we knew we had found the real thing. Forty years on, I have no doubts at all that friendship with the Lord Jesus is the vision we glimpsed from afar in those heady days of the sixties. He is the only One with the words of eternal life. He is the only One who has a plan for community that is sweetly satisfying to the human soul and truly liberating to the human person.

And I admit it, reading such books as Augustine’s Citry of God and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together spoiled me for anything less! And so I know the pain of those in our day who have been hurt by the Church and see that she is not what she should be. May God give me grace that I never give up on the Church, the beloved of my Beloved. But I wonder: what will it take for us to realize the hollowness of affirming we are a community of the Crucified One and yet know nothing of the pain and joy of walking with one another, our Lord’s brothers and sisters, in daily life? And don’t tell me, such is the way of life in the twenty-first century.

- Michael Haykin

Saturday, August 21, 2010 

Christian Parenting is Combat: Connecting Church & Home

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.:

1) The church must present faithful vision of the family, marriage, and parenting – and equip believers to transfer that vision to the next generation.

2) The church must overcome the zone of privacy and autonomy that keeps individuals from being accountable to the church community. We need to get into each others face. Our parenting and marriage are not properly ours – but belong to Christ and are the affairs of the whole church. Someone needs to get involved when people struggle in these areas.

3) The church has got to be a place where brokenness is overcome by the Gospel. We slander the good news when we act like the only people who can glorify God are those who have never experienced brokenness.

4) The church has to got to be the place where families are rescued and armed for the combat to which we are called. Discipleship is a battle. We come to church because we can’t afford not to come. We need to get together because we need to be equipped by the preaching of the Word of God and the fellowship of the Saints.

- Tony Kummer attending the Church & Home Conference at THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


The Heavens Are Declaring the Glory of God

Click to see larger scale image:

"Large powerful storms can be nearly a daily occurrence during the summer months on the South Dakota plains. This one felt very mysterious as it filled the sky with dark, heavy clouds and thunder that shook the ground. It was as if two worlds were colliding."—Patrick Kelley

- National Geographic

Friday, August 20, 2010 

Prideful Worms

Ask Doug: How to Break Free from Morbid Instrospection from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 19, 2010 

Church Leaders Executed in North Korea

North Korea (VCM/MNN) ― North Korea has consistently topped the world's human rights watch lists as being the most repressive and closed nation in the world.

The stories of the brutality against Christians, in particular, are hair raising. Voice of the Martyrs Canada just released


another report revealing that the government executed three leaders of an underground house church and jailed 20 others with them.

North Korean police raided a house in Kuwal-dong in Pyungsung county, Pyongan province, and arrested all 23 believers who had gathered for a "religious function."

After killing the leaders, the authorities reportedly sent the other 20 to prison camp No. 15 in Yodok.

Due to the xenophobia of this nation and its tendency toward isolation, news like this takes a long time to travel to the border. This information is VOMC's most recent, although the arrests and executions happened in mid-May.

A group of North Korean defectors based in Seoul, calling themselves "North Korea Intellectual Solidarity," confirms the events. AsiaNews and Release International also confirm them, adding that the 23 Christians had reportedly come to faith after some of them traveled to mainland China on business and came into contact with the church there.

The government often tries to force religious prisoners to renounce their faith by subjecting them to harsh treatment and torture. Those caught praying are also beaten and tortured.

Watchdog groups estimate some 200,000 North Koreans, many of whom are thought to be Christians, are suffering in detention.

Many citizens attempt to escape North Korea but are frequently caught and re-patriated. Those who do confess faith in Christ during the interrogation process have been known to be executed immediately.

Please pray for believers in North Korea who follow Jesus at great risk. Pray for those in authority in this nation; ask the Lord to give them wisdom, compassion, and the light of the Gospel. There are more ways to help here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 

Fuji-san in the Summer in Shizuoka

It's rare to see Mount Fuji in the summer time because of the high humidity here, but not yesterday! Here's a clear shot of the iconic mountain minus the iconic snow cap from our city.


4 Christian Orphanage Workers Beheaded in Somalia

Screen shot 2010-08-17 at 11.05.20 AM The Christian Post is reporting that International Christian Concern is saying that four Christian orphanage workers were beheaded recently in Somalia.

Members of the Islamic extremist organization Al-Shabaab had kidnapped Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma'ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi, and Maaddey Diil on July 27 from their coastal town of Merca, 56 miles from Mogadishu, and eventually beheaded the Christians after they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.

All of the Christians were given an opportunity to deny Christ and to return to Islam. They all refused and died as martyrs for Christ.

To add insult to injury, Somalia is refusing to give the bodies of the four Christians to their families because Somalia doesn't have cemeteries for infidels.


Please keep the families of these precious martyrs in your prayers. Please also pray for the other Christians in Somalia who are enduring persecution daily at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

- VOM -

Revelation 6:9) When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10) They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11) Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Saturday, August 14, 2010 

Praising God All Over Vietnam

This is one of the things worthy of the word "awesome!"

Get an inside view of how faithful ethnic Christians in Vietnam worship in churches of wood, a tent or outdoors. Keep in mind as you watch this that Vietnam is a communist country, with about 8 percent of the population Christian and 54 percent Buddhist. Christians are persecuted often in Vietnam and they need our prayers. For more about Vietnam from our Restricted Nations page, please click here.

- VOM -

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 

Just Another Reason (one you may have never thought of) to Worship God

This is a "wow" post - my mind has never meditated on this for a second:

The Problem with Omniscience:

And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after others gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured.” (Deuteronomy 31:16-17)

Can you imagine waking up one morning with omniscience? No longer is your knowledge confined to your own experience and learning, but now you know everything. Everything. You would never make a bad investment, because you know the return it will yield. You would never get a speeding ticket (speaking hypothetically of course), because you know where every policemen is hiding. You would never have to read a book or watch the news or go to school, because you know all there is to know on every subject. This list of potential realities could go on forever.

I think we would hate being omniscient.

Although knowing everything presents some advantages, my guess is that most of us would loathe omniscience because of what it would do to our relationships. Think about this: How would you handle knowing everything that everyone will ever think or feel or do or say regarding you? Relationships would become extremely difficult if not impossible. You would know every bad thing a person will do to you in the future — mocking, anger, betrayal, abandonment. Consequently, relating to them in a loving manner beforehand would be hard. Sure, they’re speaking kindly and acting friendly now, but you know what they are going to do. Would you still marry this person, or maintain your friendship, or lovingly give yourself away for their benefit?

God would. The nation of Israel was poised on the edge of the land God had promised to give them. God had graciously delivered his people through forty years of wilderness wanderings. He had revealed himself in dramatic ways. All the while God knew that his people would prostitute themselves and forsake him, breaking the covenant he made with them. Yet he continued giving himself away in love to these future backstabbers.

How could God do this? Here are two explanations. (1) God related to Israel not only with a mind that knows perfectly but with a heart that loves perfectly. God’s love enables him to pursue relationships with people he knows will fail to love him in return. The cross of Christ powerfully demonstrates this truth. (2) God related to Israel based on the state of their hearts presently rather than on the state of their hearts in the future. Deuteronomy 31:17 makes clear that it would not be until the very day in which Israel turned against God that his anger would be kindled. Surely this is how Jesus could wash Judas’s feet even while knowing what Judas was going to do a few hours later.

We should be profoundly grateful for both of these truths. In Christ, God loves us in spite of all the sins we will commit in the future — which, by the way, is a cause for pursuing holiness, not an excuse for pursuing sin. And God relates to us based on the present state of our hearts toward him. We will never displease God over something we have not yet done, even when he knows we will do it in the future.

Omniscience would be a terrible burden for us, but it’s no problem for God. And it’s another reason for us to worship him.

- David King -


Agony of a Cambodian Orphan

Tot Pok is tough. He has to be. Both of his parents died by the time he was 13 — leaving him, barely a teenager, to be the sole breadwinner, protector, and provider for his younger sister and brother, Tot Kum and Tot Tin.

- Watch 3 minute video here

Tuesday, August 03, 2010 

The Biggest Mistake in Making Disciples

Jonathan Dodson was recently interviewed by Joe Thorn on the topic of discipleship. Here’s one excerpt from the interview:

What is the biggest mistake the church is making when working to make disciples?

I can’t answer that question definitively. However, the dearth of suffering, the absence of hope, the trivialization of the Spirit, and the lack of mission among disciples of Jesus is terribly concerning. We have tried to minimize suffering through convenience, eliminate hope through self-made retirement, reduce Jesus to redeemer of the past, and surrendered any sense of discipleship as a call to die to ourselves that others may live. Instead, discipleship has been reduced to having a good marriage, handling finances well, raising good children, securing a future, and knowing your Bible. Our mission is very different than Jesus’ mission, our lives very different than Jesus’ life. This should scare us.

- Life2gether

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