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

Thursday, September 30, 2010 

The Answer: To Put His Glory on Display

The question posed is: "Why would a perfect God bother to create this universe?" This answer would undoubtedly be insufficient according to Peter down below. He's an intelligent, articulate atheist & I find watching his posts (sometimes rants) help me to think more keenly about my own beliefs or ability/inability to express those beliefs. Here is a good reason why we should speak of God as the Creator/Warrior/Almighty/Holy/King He is, & not as a love-sick teenage girl with an incurable crush for you:

Thursday, September 23, 2010 

Church Construction Thwarted in Malaysia

Malaysia (MNN) ―

Christians in a small village in Malaysia have been told they can't build a church. Reports coming out of Malaysia say Christians in the Temiar village of Pos Pasik, about 70 km northeast of Gua Musang Kelantan, have been told by the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) that they have no permission to build a church on their land.

On 20 May 2010, the village head wrote to the Director-General of the JHEOA to inform him of their plan to build the church in their village, half of whom have converted to Christianity in recent years.

In response, the Deputy Director-General writing on behalf of the D-G replied that their "application" to build the church had been rejected and the community was asked to stop work on the building immediately.

This is contrary to what Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said this week. He praised the work and mission of the Inter-faith Relations Working Committee. It's a group of Malaysia's religious leaders representing Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Muslims. In a 45-minute session he praised Malaysia's pluralism, saying, "It's the foundation of national unity, rather than a front of division."

Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says, "While the prime minister is saying we celebrate religious diversity and we celebrate the freedom to worship, the reality on the ground for some of the Christians in Malaysia is a little different."

Nettleton says it appears that religious tolerance depends on your ethnicity. "It is not uncommon for an ethnic Chinese person to be a Christian. So that is thought to be acceptable. It is much less common for an ethnic Malay person to be a Christian. They are thought culturally to be Muslims. Typically you see a harsh response from that."

Nettleton says, "There is some type of revival movement that is going on there. The ethnic villagers are becoming Christians. They want to have a church building. What I'm not clear about--and I think it deserves a little bit more study--is why this government agency said you can't build this church building."

If the church is demolished or stopped, it will be the second Orang Asli church in the state of Kelantan (and no less than 5 in the peninsular altogether) that has been demolished by the authorities on the basis of various excuses, including that the Orang Asli do not have rights to the land concerned. But it is evident that the issue is religion-related as other structures, including suraus, have been built on such lands without any issue.

Nettleton says we need to pray. "Pray for the Christians who are there to stand strong in their faith and to be bold witnesses for Christ. We also need to pray for the government."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 

UAB Makes it the Magic City

Saturday, September 18, 2010 

Is The Bible A Misogynistic Document?

Friday, September 17, 2010 

Matthew 28 & Acts 1

GO - authority enough
YE - messengers enough
INTO ALL THE WORLD -territory enough
AND PREACH -work enough
THE GOSPEL -message enough
TO EVERY CREATURE -audience enough
I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS -assurance enough

IN JERUSALEM -where I was rejected and condemned
IN JUDEA -where I was crucified
IN SAMARIA -where I was not wanted

- Richard DeRidder

Thursday, September 16, 2010 

Giving (or not giving) to Missions

Can it be, that so many are willing to lend on the treacherous security of this world's contracts; and that there are found so few who are willing to lend on the security of His Word who cannot lie, and who hath promised a hundred fold in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting?

- John Urquhart

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 

Facebook Gets Creepier Still...

Or an alternative title could be, "Psycho Stalkers Dream Come True."


Still True Today

It seems to me, that while the enemies of missions have altogether despised and vilified the missionary office, the advocates of missions have erred in the other extreme, by regarding it with somewhat of a sentimental admiration, and by describing it rather as a work of supererogation than of duty.

- John Urquhart

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 

Missions as Simple Obedience

We have been too much accustomed to regard the missionary life as an undertaking of most extraordinary magnitude, and as reserved for a few of the most daring and devoted spirits in the race of living Christians; and thus we easily succeed in pushing from ourselves the duty of personal engagement. But... the greater part of the work must be accomplished by ordinary men... Great, as are the sacrifices the missionary makes, they are but small when we take into account those sublime truths which we believe as well as he. And it is of the very deepest importance that we should bear in mind that those very sacrifices are represented in the Bible, not as the fruits of an overreaching faith which may fall to the lot of, but here and there, a mind of apostolic endowment; but as the test of simple discipleship itself.

- John Urquhart

Monday, September 13, 2010 

A Mind for Missions

It is true, there may be some exceptions; but, in the general, we know no office in the church of God where the very highest mental attainments can be more beneficially employed, than in the office, all despised as it is, of the Christian missionary.

- John Urquhart


Assailants Stab, Beat Christian Worshippers Outside of Indonesia's Capital

BEKASI, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's president ordered police to hunt down and arrest assailants who stabbed a Christian worshipper in the stomach and beat a minister in the head with a wooden plank as they headed to prayers.

Neither of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

No one claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks. But suspicion immediately fell on Islamic hard-liners who have repeatedly warned members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church against worshipping on a field housing their now-shuttered church.

In recent months, they have thrown shoes and water bottles at the church members, interrupted sermons with chants of "Infidels!" and "Leave Now!" and dumped piles of feces on the land.

Local police Chief Imam Sugianto said Asia Sihombing, a worshipper, was on his way to the field when assailants jumped off a motorcycle and stabbed him in the stomach.

The Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak was smashed in the head as she tried to come to his aid.

"I was trying to help get him onto a motorcycle so we could get him to a hospital," she told reporters in the industrial city of Bekasi, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Jakarta.

She said the face of one of the assailants looked familiar.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in parliament, has been widely criticized in the media for failing to crack down on hard-liners.

But he immediately called on authorities to investigate and to hold accountable those responsible.

"We've questioned nine witnesses and have already identified the perpetrators," said local detective, Capt. Ade Arie. "But it's too early to comment or speculate on a motive."

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other in the world. Though it has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

Leading the charge against the Batak Christians has been the Islamic Defenders Front, which is pushing for the implementation of Islamic-based laws in Bekasi and other parts of the nation.

They are known for smashing bars, attacking transvestites and going after those considered blasphemous with bamboo clubs and stones. Perpetrators are rarely punished or even questioned by police.

The front also pressured local authorities early this year to shutter the Batak church, located in a densley populated Mulsim area, saying the permit was granted without the required approval of residents.

The Christian worshippers have refused to back down. Every week, about 20 or so return to the field to pray, defying threats and intimidation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010 

Timothy Keller on Tokyo

Saturday, September 11, 2010 

Pastors & Their Families & Not Fearing Men

Friday, September 10, 2010 

God on Stephen Hawking

Hawking: I've fired God. He was redundant.

God: Hawking was a crap boss anyway.

- ND Wilson

Thursday, September 09, 2010 

New Word / Good Word

laconic • \luh-KAH-nik\ • adjective
: using or involving the use of a minimum of words : concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious

Very useful for this brave new world's means of modern communication.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 

The Gospel Matters for Your Toddler

For most, the statement that the gospel matters for toddlers lacks a sense of immediacy. This seems more suitable for older children and adults. However, this perspective reveals a common underlying problem. The problem is that information transfer is seen as the primary method of bringing people to Christ. In other words, you tell someone about Christ and hope they will respond. The person to whom you are speaking is the one who holds the cards. Your role is ultimately passive.

Biblically, the spread of the gospel is more appropriately tied to the imagery of search and rescue in a time of war. The setting is not one of communication of information in a time of peace. In Matthew 28 Jesus says that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. Then, he instructs his followers to make disciples of all the nations. Christ does not say to give information about the gospel, he simply says to make disciples. In the first chapter of Colossians Paul says that we have been rescued from the domain of darkness and brought into the kingdom of light. This passage describes rescuing people from imminent danger. These two passages call to mind the classic warfare waged between light and darkness. This is how we should consider Christ's command to bring the gospel to all nations. The Scriptures do not paint a picture of asking someone's permission to tell them about Jesus Christ. Rather, the picture is of someone committed to a mission of searching for and rescuing the lost. This mission defines life itself for those who undertake it.

What does this have to do with toddlers? Parents who view presenting the gospel as primarily information transfer will lack a sense of urgency. I do not mean that this parent is unconcerned about the spiritual condition of his child. He may be deeply concerned. However, seeing the presentation of the gospel as transfer of information means waiting for when the child is willing to engage in this transfer. The parent who sees the presentation of the gospel as one of search and rescue will have an immediate sense of urgency. Thus, even before the toddler can speak, he will be interacting with parents who see the gospel as the most important reality of life. This child will hear his parents passionately talking to others about the gospel. He will hear his own actions explained in terms of his need of the gospel even before he can articulate a response. He will see and hear that his parents are driven by truths that transcend the temporal. This is the process outlined in Deuteronomy 6. The very thoughts of God, revealed in Scripture, are graven into the hearts of this toddler's parents. These parents are gripped by God's call to rescue the lost. This mission defines these parents. This is an immense blessing to our toddler. He is being raised by parents whose mission in life coincides with God's purpose for each day. That purpose, at least in part, is to bring honor to his great name through the rescue of the lost.

Practically this toddler will hear often of the wonder of Jesus Christ. His parents will see his sin as an opportunity to present the gospel to him and not merely to correct his behavior. He will live in a home that is focused on the wonder of a God who forgives sins. This focus leads to joy. Joy comes from the reality that Jesus is our effective and loving high priest. Living for the gospel means living with joy.

So, when this toddler spills a cup of milk because he is still learning how to handle a cup, he is not scolded. His parents speak lovingly and reassuringly to him. They help him learn to handle the cup with more precision. He knows that he is more valuable than spilt milk. He is lovingly disciplined when he sins, but he is also lovingly embraced when he acts like a 2 year old. He is on the road to knowing what it means to be loved and being secure. The gospel matters to his parents. In time, Lord willing, the gospel will also matter to him.

- Jay Younts -

Tuesday, September 07, 2010 

Pray for Christians in West Java, Indonesia

Indonesia (MNN) ― Christians in Bekasi, West Java have faced growing opposition in recent months from Muslims opposed to "Christianization."

Tired of government inaction, Christians and other religious minorities in Indonesia are pushing back against rising violence by Islamic hard-liners.

Though it has been relatively calm in the last few weeks, the tensions never really go away. "It's always bubbling near the surface, and then these Islamic groups get together and they come against the church," said Greg Musselman, spokesman with Voice of the Martyrs Canada.

Over the last year, there's been a spike in trouble for Christians in this region. Church services throughout the city have been repeatedly interrupted and Christians intimidated into silence.

In June, the Bekasi Islamic Congress met and set up a "mission center" along with a youth army to oppose Christian efforts. That movement is going up the ranks into the legislative arena. "The talk of sharia law in any Muslim country is always there by a radical element."

Meanwhile, the attacks are growing bolder and more frequent. Leaders of a church in West Java, Indonesia have demanded justice from police after an attack from Muslim protestors left at least a dozen people injured.

As some 20 members of the Batak Christian Protestant Filadelfia Church in Bekasi gathered for Sunday worship August 8 on a church-owned plot of land in Ciketing, hundreds of members of the Islamic People's Forum (FUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) broke through a police barricade and ordered them to leave. When the church members refused, the protestors assaulted the group.

Why are they attracting so much attention? Because transformation is taking place. Musselman explains: "Even though some of these churches in Bekasi have to be very careful, all of a sudden literally hundreds of people are worshipping on the street. That's catching the attention of the neighborhood."

It's a mixed bag. Where one church might be undaunted, the Gospel efforts might be severely hindered by fear. "Those that are staying there growing in their faith, and persecution is strengthening it. Pastor is preaching on persecution, and he's seeing a spiritual maturity within those who have stayed."

Although it's stressful, many believers are praying that their conduct would continue to be a witness for Christ. "Pray that they would be strong through it," asks Musselman. "That is the prayer that we get most requests for: not necessarily that the persecution would stop, but that they would be strong through the persecution, and also that justice would be done."

Monday, September 06, 2010 

Japan: Kooky

A ghost figure is pictured at a haunted house in Tokyo Dome City amusement park in Tokyo September 2, 2010. Other nations drink water or eat watermelons in summer, but the Japanese flock to "obake yashiki" or "haunted houses" to shiver, tremble and in this way cool down as the worst heatwave in history strikes the country.

- Reuters

Thursday, September 02, 2010 

Receiving the Call

By Tyson Mathews
UAB Athletic Media Relations

Jhun Cook had been in the hospital for a year.

Since being admitted at age 8 with an undiagnosed internal sickness, he had undergone chemotherapy, radiation, bone marrow transplants and blood transfusions. Doctors still had not been able to determine exactly what was wrong with him.

Then, alone in his hospital room one night, he experienced something that changed everything.

Cook recalls, "I just remember an appearance of Christ came and asked, `Do you believe you can be healed?' I said, `I believe.' And within a week, I was released from the hospital. To this day, it still is a mystery." http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/albr/sports/m-footbl/auto_action/343666.jpeg

A mystery to the doctors, maybe, but not to Cook, who already had a well-established faith in God at his young age.

"That time in my life is when I was compelled into my personal relationship with Christ," he says. "Knowing that he was there with me, that he was faithful to his word that he would never leave us nor forsake us."

The experience was one of several that guided Cook, now 26, into a life of ministry and ultimately into his current position as UAB's campus director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes program and chaplain for the Blazer football team.

A former UAB receiver, he re-joined the football program in a full-time capacity a little over a year ago. He's constantly around the team, attending meetings and practices and traveling to road games. He organizes group activities, one-on-one lunches and runs a Monday night Bible study.

"I've seen our players grow leaps and bounds just in the year that he's been here," UAB head football coach Neil Callaway says. "He is a genuine person who walks what he talks every day. We're very fortunate to have him as a part of our team, and he's done a tremendous job."

Connecting with the players comes naturally for Cook because, as a former player, he's been where they are.

"The players can relate because I played here and come from a similar background as some of them and have shown consistency that I'm here for them when they need me," Cook says. "Sometimes as a coach, it's kind of hard to address a player when they're going through a tough time. But when you've experienced what they're experiencing, it's that much easier."

And Cook, a Birmingham native, has experienced a lot. When he was released from the hospital at age 9, he started to take a more active role around his church - even menial tasks like picking up trash and scraping gum out of the carpet. When he got older, he drove the church bus.

He also saw the unfortunate and ugly part of life. In addition to his illness, he was a victim of hold-ups at gunpoint twice before he even reached his teenage years - once while at a restaurant in the Birmingham area with his mother and older brother and once while walking to his aunt's house after school.

Jhun Cook and UAB senior WR Mike Jones take a break from bowling to snap a picture. Cook organizes several outings a year, including trips to the bowling alley, for members of the football team.

The Huffman High School product credits God with getting him through those circumstances. That's why he is so eager to share his message with students at UAB. And that's why, in January, Cook founded a church in Birmingham called CBF Ministries International.

"The very thing that hurt me was the thing God called me to come against," Cook says. "That's why I'm so passionate about ministry here on campus, so when guys leave here they don't become the people that are doing that stuff. We represent what they should be doing: being great leaders, great fathers and great humanitarians in society once they leave school."

If his experiences early in life encouraged him to follow the straight path, Cook's time as a student-athlete at UAB confirmed his purpose. While playing football for the Blazers, he became deeply involved in the organization he now leads.

"On my 21st birthday, I was off at FCA camp," he says. "I knew then the Lord had really given me a heart for ministry."

Still, he couldn't have known then that he would wind up where he is now. Like many of the players he works with, Cook had aspirations of playing the sport he loves professionally. He pursued those dreams wherever they took him, from training camp with the Washington Redskins to the Alabama Steeldogs of Arena League 2.

In 2008, Cook turned his attention to a new professional league called the All American Football League. A spring league based mostly in the South, it would have six teams and be open only to players with college degrees.

Cook was selected in the AAFL draft by Team Arkansas, even chosen ahead of some former NFL players. But, one month before kickoff, the league canceled the season.

Out of football, Cook again found himself in Birmingham, working as an accountant for the Social Security administration.

"It was great money," he says. "But my heart wasn't in it."

That's when he received a phone call from UAB athletic director Brian Mackin about coming back to his alma mater.

"We started talking, and I started praying about it," Cook says. "That's when Coach Callaway called and said, `Whatever we need to do to get you here, this is what the guys need.' My heart was always here on campus, and now the opportunity was here and the window was open."

So Cook is back at UAB, serving as an example of how to do things the right way and encouraging Blazer players to strive for a higher purpose.

"Looking back over my life, it gives me passion for God," he says. "The passion that he had for me to get me to where I am gives me the passion now to reach and save everybody that I can."


12 Reasons You'll Be Happier in a Smaller Home

12 Reasons Why You’ll Be Happier in a Smaller House by Joshua and Patty Becker (I get top billing because it is my blog).

People buy larger homes for a number of reasons:

  • They “outgrow” their smaller one.
  • They receive a promotion and raise at work.
  • They are convinced by a realtor that they can afford it.
  • They hope to impress others.
  • They think a large home is the home of their dreams.

Another reason people keep buying bigger and bigger homes is because no one tells them not to. The mantra of the culture again comes calling, “buy as much and as big as possible.” They believe the lie and choose to buy a large home only because that’s ”what you are supposed to do” when you start making money… you buy nice, big stuff.

Nobody ever tells them not to. Nobody gives them permission to pursue smaller, rather than larger. Nobody gives them the reasons they may actually be happier in a smaller house.

So, in an attempt to break the silence, consider these 12 reasons why you’ll actually be happier in a smaller house:

  1. Easier to maintain. Anyone who has owned a house knows the amount of time, energy, and effort to maintain it. All things being equal, a smaller home requires less of your time, energy, and effort to accomplish that task.
  2. Less time spent cleaning. And that should be reason enough…
  3. Less expensive. Smaller homes are less expensive to purchase and less expensive to keep (insurance, taxes, heating, cooling, electricity, etc.).
  4. Less debt and less risk. Dozens of on-line calculators will help you determine “how much house you can afford.” These formulas are based on net income, savings, current debt, and monthly mortgage payments. They are also based on the premise that we should spend ”28% of our net income on our monthly mortgage payments.” But if we can be more financially stable and happier by only spending 15%… then why would we ever choose to spend 28?
  5. Mentally Freeing. As is the case with all of our possessions, the more we own, the more they own us. And the more stuff we own, the more mental energy is held hostage by them. The same is absolutely true with our largest, most valuable asset. Buy small and free your mind.
  6. Less environmental impact. A smaller home requires less resources to build and less resources to maintain. And that benefits all of us.
  7. More time. Many of the benefits above (less cleaning, less maintaining, mental freedom) result in the freeing up of our schedule to pursue the things in life that really matter – whatever you want that to be.
  8. Encourages family bonding. A smaller home results in more social interaction among the members of the family. And while this may be the reason that some people purchase bigger homes, I think just the opposite should be true.
  9. Forces you to remove baggage. Moving into a smaller home forces you to intentionally pare down your belongings.
  10. Less temptation to accumulate. If you don’t have any room in your house for that new treadmill, you’ll be less tempted to buy it in the first place (no offense to those of you who own a treadmill… and actually use it).
  11. Less decorating. While some people love the idea of choosing wall color, carpet color, furniture, window treatments, decorations, and light fixtures for dozens of rooms, I don’t.
  12. Wider market to sell. By its very definition, a smaller, more affordable house is affordable to a larger percentage of the population than a more expensive, less affordable one.

Your home is a very personal decision that weighs in a large number of factors that can’t possibly be summed up in one 700 word post. This post was not written to address each of them. Only you know all the variables that come into play when making your decision.

I just think you’ll be happier if you buy smaller… rather than the other way around.

- becomingminimalist.com by way of Frugal Dad

Wednesday, September 01, 2010 

Ready or Not

Suppose that an American daisy-cutter bomb had been dropped on Mecca, and blew up their sacred rock. Suppose further that through a series of circumstances, a Southern Baptist gentleman proposed building a Christian chapel on the lip of that crater. We would be justified in suppposing this man to be any number of things, but one of the things he emphatically would not be is a moderate.

The fact that he would not be a moderate would not make him a terrorist, of course. It would just make him not a moderate. He would be doing something provocative, and he would be doing it on purpose. If he denied being provocative, this would simply make him a dishonest non-moderate. A real moderate would have stayed home.

Our secularists tend not to see this because they have made the fatal mistake of believing their own propaganda. All religious differences, they think, are mere denominational differences, and they are prepared to unbend liberally when it comes to such denominational distinctives, considered as such. They say, for example, that a free country should allow their Christians to debate whether to baptize with heads upstream or downstream. And then, with a patronizing pat on the head, we are sent on our way in order to debate how many angels our faith community thinks could fit on the head of a pin.

Religion, to them, is false, irrelevant, and pie-in-the-skyish. That being the case, they will treat forays by believers as believers into the political realm as blasphemous outrage, or as impossible contradiction. As a general rule of thumb, it is an outrage when Christians do it, and impossible when Muslims do it.

But on the eve of the Spanish Armada, a Roman Catholic Englishman could not be simply treated as one who believed in Purgatory, for example. Being a Catholic in that setting was a political act. When John of Leiden ascended to the throne of David in the Munster rebellion, to be an anabaptist within a fifty mile radius was a political act. We think that different churches are all listed in the yellow pages, so that we can know what time their services are, and that's it. But it is anachronistic to impose that mentality on those periods of (most of) history when politics and religion mingled in public together. The two cannot really be separated.

The rise of the secularist heresy, and the voluntary quiesence of Christians in the West, created an optical illusion. It looked like politics and religion were separated, when what had actually happened is that secularism established her religion, but with a stripped down liturgy and creed so that people would believe that it was somehow a-religious. "Perhaps if we call it secular, then people won't notice how pervasively religious it is."

This technique was brazen, and it is the kind of thing that can sometimes work . . . for a time. It is like Christians calling their churches "non-denominational." But Grace Chapel, a designated non-denominational place of worship, is also, as it turns out, denominated (named) as Grace Chapel. Abraham Lincoln once asked how many legs a sheep would have if we call the tail a leg. Five, the answer came back. No, he replied, calling the tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. Calling it secular doesn't make it secular.

Secularism pretended for a time to be neutral about the basic religious concerns, and it was actually anything but neutral. Creating a religion of man is not the same thing as abandoning religion. And so after a time, the pretension wears thin, the contradictions start working their way to the surface, the old alliances and treaties are violated, and the old immanent gods no longer answer when we cry out in their temples.

This is why it is a political act to be a Muslim in America today. To be a Christian in America today is also a political act. It cannot be depoliticized by any ecclesiastical wish or theological whim. Meredith Kline has no wand to wave that will make any faithful Christians fit into this collapsing secular order. This is because our secularist overlords have lost their faith in the ghosts of Jefferson and Voltaire, and have also lost the doctrinal rigor of their convictions, and are wobbling along as best they can. In this crisis of secularist confidence, to be a Christian at all is a political act of defiance. The same goes for the Muslims -- because secularist idols can be challenged by other idols, as well as by the true God. The Muslims, however, have been quicker to see the situation, and quicker to exploit it than have Christians.

If the secularist state could somehow continue on, unruffled, for the next three centuries, a lot of Christians could continue on with their compromises with it. Sure. And if the sky fell, we would all catch larks.

But that is not our situation. Bricks are already falling out of their wall. Their towers are already swaying back and forth. The corrosive acids of their relativism have eaten away all the strength of their three-hundred-year-old mortar. Many of us do not yet see this. So? When the walls of Jericho fell down, I dare say that there were more than few Israelites who were caught flat-footed. But ready or not, here we come.

- Douglas Wilson

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