Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Don't get your knickers in a twist. Discrediting the Bible and your faith is not an original idea. In fact, I've been waiting for something new to come out of Hollywood for quite some time. So, The Lost Tomb of Jesus is just another cheap attempt to cash in on Easter. People have been trashing the Resurrection by ressurecting this old press release put out about two thousand years ago:
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.-- Matt. 28:11-15 NIV

Some great resources are available Pulpit Magazine Blog. So relax. And watch the Johnny Cash video below.

HT: Charles Nestor

The Man in Black: God's Gonna Cut You Down

I got chills watching this video.

Look for Iggy Pop, Kanye West, Chris Martin, Kris Kristofferson, Patti Smith, Terrence Howard, Flea, Q-Tip, Adam Levine, Chris Rock, Justin Timberlake, Kate Moss, Sir Peter Blake, Sheryl Crow, Dennis Hopper, Woody Harrelson, Amy Lee, Tommy Lee, Dixie Chicks, Mick Jones, Sharon Stone, Bono, Shelby Lynne, Anthony Kiedis, Travis Barker, Lisa Marie Presley, Kid Rock, Jay Z, Keith Richards, Billy Gibbons, Corinne Bailey Rae, Johnny Depp, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Rick Rubin, Owen Wilson... did I miss anybody?

HT: Bryan Stupar

Monday, February 26, 2007

Grace Akallo

Whenever I come across a story about the Lord's Resistance Army(LRA), I like to let you know. A few years ago, I had the privilege to serve in South Sudan to train chaplains in the Sudanese People's Liberation Army. To get into South Sudan, we had to travel through Northern Uganda. During those travels, our group, including my family, were very exposed to attacks from the LRA. We traveled with a convoy of soldiers in an armored vehicle.

Several of the men I helped train have fallen to the LRA.

The article in Christianity Today is from the perspective of a girl that was kidnapped by the LRA.

The killings, the abductions, the lootings—I saw it. I spent one month in Uganda, then walked to Sudan. We had to march in a line. If you diverted from the line, you were dead. They killed so many children who tried to escape. The youngest was seven. He cried for his mother, then they killed him. Either they would kill them by beating them with big sticks, or by bayonet. Other times—it's very hard to say—they would cut the head with an axe.

There was one commander who, if he was not killing someone, was not happy. When he was killing someone, he was happy. People would start crying that they wanted to kill someone. One 18-year-old boy came out of the line crying that he wanted to kill someone. This boy—they would give him 10 children. He'd say he was taking them for a bath. He'd kill five, and only five would come back.
link to article

link to related posts on this blog...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Women Unclean?

From time to time, I'm lucky enough to be emailed Bible questions. The following is a question from a young lady in medical school who used to be a part of the college aged ministry at our church. She never had any easy questions. Ever. She asked me about Leviticus and uncleaness.

"Why are women on their cycles not allowed to enter the sanctuary?"

Leviticus, huh? This really trips people up. Especially the part about women being unclean during their cycles. I mean, statistically speaking, a full 25% of all women, as they read that passage, are feeling a little crampy, bloated, and irritable. And then when they read that, it seems to send them right over the edge. Usually when a girl asks me this question, I make a grab at my chest, fall down, and fake a heart-attack. This helps change the subject.

So here’s the deal with Leviticus…
Main theme: How can sinful man approach a holy God? The word “holy” occurs over eighty times in this book.
Key words: Access and holiness.
Key verse: 19:2 (Analysis of Leviticus, Thompson Chain Bible, p. 2057)

Here’s the bottom line: God is holy and unapproachable by sinful man. But God, throughout the whole Bible has been on a mission to bring man back into fellowship with Him. God worked though Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob, of course, is Israel. Once the children of Israel became a nation, God began to, through Moses and Aaron, establish a way for sinful man to approach Him while teaching man how absolutely apart from sin and holy God is.

The Tabernacle of Moses and later, Solomon’s Temple was an object lesson for humanity, if you will. The temple was divided in many sections. Everybody, that is all humanity, did not have access to all areas of the temple. Some areas were only allowed to be entered by priests. And priests could only come from one tribe; Levi. And you can’t believe the ceremonial ritual these guys had to go through to be “clean.” There was one area of the temple called the holy of holies that could only be entered once a year. The priest the went in there had to do all kinds of rituals, including sacrificing an animal for his sin. Then he was ready to bring in the sin offering for the whole nation. This was done once a year for all of Israel. But there were also little sacrifices and offerings made all year long. Every year.

There was a more common part of the Temple that was for Hebrews. All Hebrews were welcome in the main part of the Temple as long as they were “clean.” What does it take to be “clean”? Check out Leviticus and also Deuteronomy. There are some serious details there.

Why do women get hung up on that ONE detail about the monthly cycle? You know, I read Leviticus 13 where they list the process of determining whether a guy losing his hair was clean or not. That means a guy like me, when he was in his early twenties and started noticing the ol’ hair line starting to recede, had to have a priest check it out. A baldness examination. That had to be real good for Jewish bald-man self-esteem. Lev. 13:43 has become a life verse for me: “As for the man whose hair has fallen from his head, he is bald, but he is clean.” Other things that made you “unclean”: having sex, having a wet dream, various sores, touching something dead, having a baby, etc.

And being a Gentile.

Yep. You couldn’t even GO INTO the temple if you were a non-Jew. The Gentile could worship God, and God even had a process for accepting a God-seeking Gentile’s sacrifice. But the Gentile could never go into the Temple. He would never be clean enough. A woman on her cycle, as difficult as you might imagine it was to be sanitary in a time before running water, indoor plumbing, toilets, hand-sanitizer, and feminine hygiene products, was always able to get clean enough to enter the Temple. But a Gentile never could.

But there was a place on Temple grounds that the Gentile could come and worship. Except in Jesus’ day, that area, the court of the Gentiles, was turned into a “den of thieves”. That was the area the money changers gathered to profit from people coming to God. And Jesus over-turned their tables and drove them out.

And Jesus made a way for ALL who to become clean. Not ceremonially clean, but completely clean. Sinless. Any serious God-seeker can now approach God through the blood of Jesus. And according to Acts 10, Jesus told Jewish Peter who had a problem with Gentiles not to call what He has cleansed, unclean.

Isn’t that Good News?

I know that’s a long answer. There is no quick answer to the question you asked. I hope it makes sense.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What took so long???

I wondered how long it would take for this to happen:

HT: Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder:
A foolish politician with nothing better to do has introduced legislation to ban novelty truck testicles.

Doran says
 Images Yellow
Maryland Delegate LeRoy E. Myers Jr. has filed legislation to ban the display of those oh-so-chic Truck Nuts and "anatomically correct" human or animal genitalia from the back of pick-up trucks.

From the WaPo story:

"People are making a joke out of it," Myers said yesterday. "But I think it's a pretty serious problem. You have body parts hanging from the hitches of cars. We've crossed a line."

Link (Via Obscure Store)

I wonder... if you clip the 'nads off of these trucks and El Caminos, will they make a higher sound


Sometimes I just want to chill and not post. I don't want to read your posts, I don't want to argue, and I don't want to think of snappy comebacks...

Anyone else need a break today? Go ahead, take the rest of the day off.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Apple and Animal Testing

Before Apple ships computers to all you drooling fanboys, they do a little animal testing to evaluate just how exciting your shiny new toy will be.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Curse of Madonna's Kiss

I'm really tripping out over this new Britney Spears hair-do. They used to say that they were going after the "older man market" with Britney Spears. At least that's what my wife tells me. But I don't think this is the way to go about it.

I think this might have something to do with that kissing-Madonna-publicity-stunt a year or two ago. Nothing good can come from a kiss from Madonna. Dennis Rodman was all American apple pie kind of a guy before Madonna's kiss. After Madonna, he was like an alien or something.

It's gotta be a Madonna kiss curse. You better be careful, Guy Ritchie.

a Place for un-Grace

...But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

Luke 9:53-56 (NKJV)

I read this verse and wonder if Jesus just got done taking His guys through a Bible study of Old Testamant Men of Faith and that day was a study of Elijah. All James and John got out of the Bible study was that men of faith can destroy their enemies by calling fire down from heaven. What would they ask if Jesus had just shared of devotional from Moses' life from the book of Exodus?
"Lord, should we turn their water into blood? Should we send flies? NO! Frogs! Let's send frogs, Lord."

"Let's kill their livestock."

"No wait! I know! Let's send the Angel of Death to take their first born! Yeah. Their first born. LET'S DO IT!"

What throws me a little is that Jesus didn't just roll his eyes and say something sarcastic like, "Let you call fire down from heaven? I wouldn't even let you boys play with matches."

Jesus didn't say anything about what kind of power they had and what they could or coudn't do with it, He just said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them."

It makes me think of this amazing tool we've been given called the internet. One of the coolest things for me is blogs. I can be the writer I've always wanted to be and get feed back in real time. I get to see my words in print. And I can see that someone on the other side of the planet is taking the time to read them. And people can even tell me what they think about what I think. Not too many years ago, only the most wealthy and tech-connected people were able to have this (and before that, you had to be Captain Kirk), but now, little ol' me gets to do it. Right on.

But instead, many of us use this tool to gather a small crowd of wounded or mad or dis-contented or put-off or grumpy people and do what ever they can to take their enemy down. I read an article the other day about gangs in Mexico who upload video taped executions of their rivals to Youtube to taunt each other.

Our forums of free discussion and expression are used for hate, sexual exploitation, and vengence. Even among us who call name the Name of Christ.

It's a place for un-grace.

We can use this amazing tool for communication to spread good news about grace, or we can use this tool to beat those who've wronged us over the head. We can use it for good, or we can use it to destroy.

The past couple of days on this blog have been proportionally huge in this small litte cul-de-sac of the blogosphere. Since Christianity Today posted in their on-line magazine the article called Day of Reckoning. Which, to me, is a scary title because it refers to a Day that Jesus is the Lord over. A terrible day when the enemies of God are cast into a Lake of Fire that burns for ever and ever where the enemies of God are tormented day and night throughout eternity.

It's in this context that the author of the article has placed Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel Movement.

I read in places that it is not because people are mad, they just think Calvary needs to repent.

To me, the solution is simple: find a pastor that ministers to you; one that you can receive from and go to that church.

Recently, I took a team to a country in the Middle East where you can be jailed or put to death for meeting. Here in the US, you can go where ever you want.

So go, and be blessed. Participate in Grace. Let God judge His own servants.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Scandal Mongering? Gossip? Objective Reporting? You be the judge...

I love it when Christianity Today reports good news. CT's articles are well written, encouraging, and relevant. That's generally my opinion until reading Rob Moll's latest piece about Calvary Chapel Leadership. Calvary Chapel is a church movement that has impacted culture like no other in modern history. Yet, my first impression of Moll's article is that he's trying to be the Bob Woodward of Christian media and expose some kind of scandal. Not a scandal based on actual law breaking, but one based on the "he said, she said" shoddy style of journalism made popular by the main stream media. It's a little sensationalistic.

But maybe I'm just defensive. I love Calvary Chapel. The Calvary Chapel Movement has been my spiritual home for fifteen years.

The article is worth reading, but it's difficult to find anything newsworthy beyond a lot of "where there's smoke, there's fire" kind of thinking. When someone uses this line of reasoning to peddle rumors, slander or gossip, I like to show them this verse in the book of James:
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Full Circle

Local PBA prof. Denise McGill has written a brilliant piece for Christianity Today about a community in New York with a heritage of merging "missional" with "living the American Dream." Below is an excerpt pulled from the article:
As Tabernacle's congregation researched the Karens' situation, they uncovered an unusual story. In 1812, the first Protestant missionaries ever sent from the United States went to Burma. From Burma, Adoniram Judson wrote home asking for help. In 1828, Tabernacle Baptist Church in Utica sent printer Cephas Bennett and his family.

For more than a century, Tabernacle had at least one church member serving in Burma, many in direct ministry to the Karen. But generations passed, and missionaries retired and passed away. The connection was all but forgotten.

Today, Tabernacle's pastor Mark Caruana says, "Distant cousins are being reunited with us. We marveled at the providence of God. Who would have thought that in Utica, New York, Americans would find this long-lost connection with people halfway around the world?"

Tabernacle's outreach to the Karen mirrors the entire city of Utica's outreach to refugees from around the world. People from 31 countries have made harrowing journeys to Utica, a town where bumper stickers once read, "Last one out of Utica, please turn out the lights."
Give the article a read. You'll be glad you did. (link)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hello from the City of my Birth

For the one or two of you that haven't seen this yet over on the Ragamuffin Soul blog, enjoy a slice of culture from the city of my birth.


HT: Los

My Smoochy Valentine

Yesterday was a good Valentine's Day. I have the most low maintenance wife in the known universe. She doesn't buy into all the commercial hype and hysteria that started in the stores right after they took down all their Christmas displays. She tells me that Valentine's Day is just a commercial ploy forced on us by the Retail Deathstar to get us to spend money while we're still financing our Christmas over-indulgence.
Now that we have this whole empty nest thing going on around our house; no kids; kids with kids, we're unwrapping our Valentine's gifts to each other several times a week -- wink, wink.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Joke for Airport Security

I noticed a post from last fall has been getting some play here the past couple of days. In honor of my recent return from the Middle East, here's a re-post:

Next time you go through airport security, wouldn't it be fun to set up your laptop with this set to run when the agent has a peek? I wonder if he or she would have a little chuckle.

Click "start"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Saddam the Martyr

These images are big stickers I scanned to share with you all. I bought them for two reasons:
1. I've never seen a picture in American media of Saddam Hussien with a smile on his face, and
2. these stickers are everywhere in the Middle Eastern country I visited recently. People sport these on the back of their cars and in shop windows. These images are stuck to the front and back windows of taxis. People have pimped out their bicycles and motorcycles with these images.

Here's what I find a little funny: when I was in this country eight months ago leading another team, when our hero was on trial, I didn't see any sign that anyone cared about this man. But now that he's dead, he's a hero.

Go figure.

This is a picture of Saddam's first impressions as a crowd of perpetual virgins prepare to welcome him to paradise. (Click to enlarge or print)

In this picture, Saddam is comforting a child who has a family member being tortured off camera. (Click to enlarge or print)

Monday, February 12, 2007

2007 SE Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference: Don McClure

16 January 2007

I've been a little side-tracked lately with a two week trip to the Middle East, so I didn't finish posting about the 2007 SE Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference. I know almost a month has gone by and all of you have moved on, but I'm still looking back through my notes and loving what I'm reading.

When I think "Old School," I think Don McClure. I mean "Old School" in the fondest sense of the concept. Think back to chalk boards and erasers; not white board and definitely not PowerPoint. Think about a crush on your sixth grade teacher. Think about recess and dodge ball and four square. Think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That's what I mean when I say "Old School." Fond memories of time before high-tech flash and pizazz. Don's been around the Calvary Chapel Movement since those days and has a style that boils down what's happening today in our movement into a base with an Old School, vintage flavor. I'm grateful for men like Don who are not swayed by the latest fashion or fad. He's not sniffing the air for the latest wind of doctrine.

So here are some thoughts from the notes I took during Pastor Don's talk:
  • God, what do You want to do in me? Not: what is God doing everywhere else? What are You doing in me?
And then he posed this interesting question:
  • Who of you wish there were two of somebody else and none of you? I took that to mean, like, "I wish I were Bob Coy." (There would be two of Bob and none of me, which might not be a bad thing, except that I think my wife likes being married to me.)
And I'm not judging, but I think Don drinks way too much coffee because, whoa, he sure talks fast.

And then Don said made this really interesting statement:
  • Anytime one truth becomes THE TRUTH, it becomes a lie. Jesus is THE TRUTH.
  • Success itself can be worshiped as a god.
  • I'm someone that people are watching.
  • Rejoice in all things even when being poured out as an offering to God.
For more info about Don and his ministry, check out his website (definitely "Old School"): Calvary Way Ministries

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Middle East Man Dance

This is a dance men in some middle eastern countries perform at weddings. It's kind of funky; kind of cool.

Here's someone you may or may not know bustin' a move middle east style...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Welcomed by Cats

It's so good to be home. The beautiful and charming Susan makes me feel so welcome after journeys abroad.

Time apart is difficult for us. Less difficult for me because I'm away and busy. This takes away the loneliness our short separation produces in me.

But it's different for her. She's at home left with the regular routine minus me making my daily appearance after work. I hear what those of you who know me are thinking: a daily appearance by Bryon is more of a curse than a blessing...

But the beautiful and charming Susan doesn't share your cynicism. She's lonely without me. So she occupies herself with projects, purchases, and pets while I'm away. After one trip, I came home to a new roof. After another, a new living room set and freshly painted living room. I returned one time from Africa to a bedroom redecorated in African motif.

The homecomings I dread the most are the ones where I am greeted by an unfamiliar, four legged, furry creature.

But that was the past. Thursday night when I got home, I was greeted by eight legs and two bundles of fur. Chatter and Ike are the new cat invited by the charming and beautiful Susan and I have to tell you, they've stolen my heart. I'm not a cat lover, but these cats are definitely Bryon lovers.

That helps.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Playground Pics

Here are some pictures of the playground our boys Wes and Ed built for the workers' kids here in our middle east city...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sweet Middle East Slides

Another Middle East Trip Post

As we see our trip coming to a close, our schedule has become more hectic. We have received so many invitations to spend time in the home of locals that we have to turn down more than we accept. The time spent in Arab homes is our best opportunity to share why we are followers of Jesus. We are constantly asked if we are Muslim—which leads to an opportunity to talk about our dedication to the God of the Old and New Testaments. Our stories are listened to with respect and courtesy. Pray that the seed of the Word falls on good soil producing a good crop.

One of the local sheiks is the majority owner of the language school where we are conducting the English Cafés. He is grateful that we have come to serve his people, and today he will host us in the village of his ancestors. The majority of people in this village have never spent any time with Westerners. And very few Westerners will ever experience—or be allowed—to spend time with common Middle Eastern village dwellers. Our tour planned for today is the product of almost ten years of relationship-building between Western workers and local Arabs. This is the kind of dedication and perseverance workers here demonstrate. Together we pray it will produce abundant fruit. Much of this country’s population live in remote areas, but few are being penetrated as effectively as this. I’m just amazed that our team and those that support us get to be a part of the work our Father is doing in this remarkable but thirsty land.

The two-man team that came to build a playground and put on sport activities for the workers’ children has wrapped things up. The rest of us will benefit from Ed and Wes’ work tomorrow as we enjoy an appreciation luncheon in a parent’s home. That will be followed in the evening by a dinner with the faculty of the language school.

I don’t think I’ve heard my stomach growl on this entire trip.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

More Slides

See the update below for the rest of the story...

Report Three

Thursday and Friday are the weekend in the Muslim world. Our team made ourselves useful by organizing games for the workers’ children. Ed and Wes did this earlier this week and this time we all had the chance to hang out and play sports with these Third Culture Kids.

Third Culture Kids, that is the children of western ex-pats in a foreign country, are less similar to our kids who grow up in the west than you might think. Even though they look and talk like the little ones that live on your block, they have more in common with the children of the natives. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it was our goal to treat them and play with them like the kids back home. Sometimes “suffering for Jesus” just means you’re serving parents by playing with their kids. For parents raising kids in a difficult place like this, that goes a long way.

Friday is the Muslim Sabbath. That is the day the western workers from all around the city gather for worship. In this country, it is assumed that westerners are Christians. So, contrary to popular belief, they are permitted to gather among themselves for worship, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, fellowship, and Bible teaching. For me personally, that is one of the highlights of the Middle East trip. At home, I am prone to forget how absolutely crucial it is for the Body to gather together regularly to draw strength from one another as the Spirit moves through the assembly of saints. It’s essential for us at home. And in this foreign field, it’s as vital as oxygen.

The remainder of our Sabbath day was spent relaxing with a worker here from our home city named Frank. Frank is an American student here learning Arabic as he prepares to work here long term. Frank has been here a little over a year and has a reputation in this town as a man of God and a man that loves the locals. Not only is he learning Arabic from books in a classroom, but he is learning it on the street and is able to move and converse freely throughout the city. Many doors of opportunity have been opened to him to share Good News at every level of this city’s social structure.

Our team visited Frank in his home to bring him little pieces of Americana and to encourage him as he lives his life here very far away from family and friends. But I think our team left his house much more blessed by him than he by us. He served us an amazing meal and blessed us with testimony of all the ways our Father has used Frank during his stay here.

It always seems to work out that way; you go out to be a blessing but end up being the one most blessed.