The book review I posted a few months ago was reprinted in the Good News of South Florida this month...
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, Enough: Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, Enough.
I read the above in Proverbs this morning. Proverbs 30:15 & 16. I'm trying to have a quiet time but all I can think about is the present talk in politics about the bailout package. A bailout package needed because people played with imaginary money like it was real.
Over the next few day, I'll be re-posting articles authored by Shepherd's Staff board member Jim Vander Spek. The topic? Lust.
For more than sixteen hundred years, lust has been identified as one of the seven classical deadly sins. This list also includes greed, gluttony, pride, sloth, anger and envy. Like these other vices, it does not command much of our attention. In fact, lust is generally misunderstood and ignored even though its affects ravage the lives of many around us.
What is lust? Most would simply describe lust as an overwhelming sexual desire. However, this is not the meaning it has for Christians. For us, intensity is less of a concern than the direction in which our desire is pointed. When our focus is directed towards that which is forbidden, then it is lust. Engaging in lust must be recognized as more than mere desire, since it provides an illicit form of gratification by itself. By it, our thirst is temporarily quenched.
Granted, every day, common lust is frequently looked at as nothing more than a natural human appetite and a harmless, passive source of pleasure. This is not the Biblical view, where lust is strictly condemned. If we were hardwired to lust, as some believe, we would be powerless to eliminate it. We would also not know what to do with the teachings of Jesus. Consider His words:
You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30)
Although this passage is well known, it is generally misunderstood in one way or another. In fact, many consider it to be so harsh and unreasonable that they simply set it aside. Thus they ignore, to their peril, specific teaching about a problem that is plaguing our society and the Church. Voyeurism is epidemic. With the rise of Internet usage and the privacy it affords, the practices of viewing pornography and masturbation are increasingly prevalent. Jesus is unmistakably addressing these practices directly when He suggests amputating our right eye or our right hand if they cause us to sin.
Unfortunately, without correctly understanding this passage, we might come to one of two wrong conclusions. First, we could assume that Jesus considers self-mutilation to be a viable solution to lust. Being blind and without hands would certainly interfere with our ability to sin in this way. Yet, instinctively, we know that this is not His intention. It is impractical and outrageous on the face. Besides, blind, handless men still lust.
On the other hand, it is just as wrong to conclude that He is exaggerating or speaking allegorically. It may seem odd being told to maintain complete abstinence from lustful thoughts, especially in such graphic, shocking language. However, rather than smoothing over what Jesus says, we had better think hard about how to obey. Clearly, He leaves no wiggle room. Lust must be eliminated from our lives or the consequences of continuing in it are too awful to bear.
The Greek words for lust are epithumeo and epithumia (as a noun), which come from root words meaning, "to feel upon." It is also frequently translated "to covet." Jesus in Matthew deliberately utilizes language from the Greek Old Testament translation of the tenth commandment. There, we are forbidden to "feel upon our neighbor's woman" as one of the ways we should not covet. Any woman who has been "felt upon" in an unwelcome manner would appreciate the root meaning. Jesus elevated this particular kind of coveting to a level unlike any other. He plainly taught that feeling upon a woman who is not your wife is a sexual sin equivalent to physically committing adultery.
Perhaps this is what rubs us wrong. Lust consists of a form of sexual pleasure that is readily available, intensely private and generally not resisted. It is that inner buzz that draws one to an advertisement or to a particular television show. Such casual objects of lust, or "eye candy," are of a type that we simply do not want to consider as improper.
Of course, giving in too much is a recognized problem. Many make lust their primary thought meditation. Using modern technology, objects of desire can be thrust in front of the eyes with a variety and intensity that has never been imagined before. Sexual sin has led to unhappy marriages, broken families and devastated lives. As they become consumed by what they consume, some want to get the genie back in the bottle but don't know how. Internet filters, accountability, twelve step programs, intense prayer and Bible study are recommended but generally fail.
Many counselors, including some who come from a Christian perspective, see their job as helping others to achieve "sexual sobriety." This secular term, which is used by Sexaholics Anonymous, describes the state where one does not masturbate, view pornography or engage in illicit sex. Sadly, the root problem of lust gets no mention. Sexual sobriety may be readily described as cleansing the outside of the cup while on the inside remaining full of self-indulgence.
Before we can overcome lust we need a clear definition. Consider this: Lust is gaining sexual gratification or a buzz from anyone or anything other than your spouse. This may appear narrow and confining, but seems closest to what the Bible is talking about.
Key to a proper understanding of the teaching in Matthew is to recognize it as a challenge. If our eye or our hand is causing us to lust, by all means, get rid of it. With this challenge, Jesus forces us to admit that it is not an eye or hand problem. Rather, it is a heart and mind issue.
Jesus calls the hand and eye "members." Paul, in Romans 6-8, uses the same expression. Not coincidentally, he also writes quite a bit about "lust" there as well. Likely, the underlying sin that Paul is referencing in this passage where he anguishes over doing that which he does not want to do is the common, tenacious sin of lust. How would I know not to lust if the law did not say "do not lust?" (Rom 7:7)
Paul's straightforward, practical solution to our dilemma is to declare unequivocally that Christ has made us alive and free. Within that position, we are to live in freedom by committing our members to righteousness. Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Romans 6:13)
All who are in Christ are able to do this. Apart from Him, even a successful elimination of lust would merely make room in our hearts for other vices. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man. (Mark 7:23) Once we had little choice, since our members were slaves to uncleanness. But now, having been made free in Christ we are able to present our members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Romans 6:19)
Paul also acknowledges that some choose not to do this and transparently confides his own wrenching struggle with sin in Romans 7. Willingly using our members for lust enslaves us again. This is a dangerous, fatal course. Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey? (v.16) For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:3) The inevitable tragic consequences of willful sinning are identified by Paul as another law in my members. In fact, it is the law of sin. (Chapter 7:23)
No longer using our members, eyes and hands, to enable sin is a deceptively simple, yet effective solution to overcoming the debilitating sin of lust. This is how it is done. When we are confronted with something that could create a buzz, we forcefully stop this from happening. We deny sin any foothold, whether by turning our heads, redirecting our thoughts or other deliberate action. By this, we discover that lust is not spontaneous or automatic. Instead, it is a choice, exactly like the choice we make when we recoil from lust in regards to a family member.
Changing our reasons for looking will necessarily change our viewing habits and make us more sensitive to the wiles of the evil one. This is all to the good as we commit ourselves to righteousness and employ our members to this end. I admit that acting in this way can be awkward initially. However, it becomes automatic with practice. As we root out lust, other sexual sins fade away as well, allowing us to naturally act and increase in righteousness. Best of all, the Spirit of Christ is working in us to accomplish this precise purpose.
Note: Dallas Willard needs to be credited for his insight regarding Matthew 5:28. I recommend his book, Renovation of the Heart. Also, I thank Fred Stoeker for his definition of sexual purity in his book, Every Man's Battle, which contains much practical help in overcoming lust.
If you are having trouble in dealing with sexual sin and need help, I urge you to look into Setting Captives Free, which offers a free, highly interactive on-line course called The Way of Purity, see link below. At this site, you will find testimonies, mentors and other terrific resources. http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/course
Thursday, January 29, 2009
It's been awhile since I've posted any tricks from Allie. This is a video of her rolling over. Since we've been in Florida, she's had huge improvement playing on her belly. She lifts her head up high and then thumps over onto her back. It's fun to watch...
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
- Step 1: Do a concert at the most historic presidential inauguration in a century.
- Step 2: Have a huge presence on social networks.
- Step 3: Release your project.
- Step 4: Be the biggest talent draw at the Super Bowl.
I love Springsteen's work, but I wonder if this album will live up to the hype. No doubt it will sell well, but Born to Run this album is not. Sometimes I need to almost wear a record out before I really start to like it. But by then my wife really hates it.
Here's the breakdown:
Outlaw Pete: Haunting. Spaghetti Western. Ballad. These words come to mind to describe this song. There's a chunk of the tune that reminds me of a line in an old Kiss song (I was made for loving you, baby, you were made for loving me...). I listened to this song while running on the treadmill this morning and I ran a mile before it was over. I'm not that fast so believe me when I say that this is a really long song. Kind of the way The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a really long movie.
My Lucky Day: Classic Springsteen. That familiar E Street Band sound.
Working on a Dream: If you liked the pop sound of Bruce's last release, Magic, then you'll like this tune.
Queen of the Supermarket: I read the lyrics to this song and thought, "what the heck?" The song is about a guy that has a crush on a girl that works at the local Piggly-Wiggly. About as romantic as a mop-up in the dairy department. But it's actually a decent song when combined with music. I guess that's the idea. Bruce drops an "F" bomb in the last verse making the CD PG13. I don't get why that was necessary. Maybe I'm more of a prude that I thought.
What Love Can Do: Decent but forgettable.
This Life: Reminds me of the Beatles of whom I am not a fan.
Good Eye: Bluesy. New Orleanzy. Killer harmonica that sounds like it's coming through an amplifier with tubes still warming up. Remember those? Springsteen blow's a mean harmonica.
Tomorrow Never Knows: This track has an old timey country music feel. The violin accompaniment will grow on you. If it doesn't, don't worry; it's a pretty short track at 2:14.
Life Itself: Reminds me of The River. Read the words when you listen to this one and you'll enjoy it more. You'll wish you wrote it.
Kingdom of Days: Another one that sounds like Magic part 2. If you like Magic, you'll like this one.
Surprise, Surprise: The Monkees could have written this one. I would have been beaten up in high school for playing this track or anything by Leif Garret or Shawn Cassidy or any other Teen Beat band.
The Last Carnival: Interesting but forgettable.
The Wrestler: This is on the soundtrack of the movie with the same title released earlier this month. This is a cool song; one that every listener will be able to identify with when having a particularly crummy day. Springsteen definitely has a talent for eloquently reproducing a bad mood.
Your Springsteen collection won't be complete without this album. But if you don't have a Springsteen collection and you're thinking of starting one, start with a different record. The Rising is a better place to start.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Allie continues to amaze. Today we had intake appointments with our new occupational and physical therapists. At nine we met with Susan, our new O.T., at ten we had breakfast across the street at the International House of Pancakes, and then at eleven, we met with Joan, Allie's new P.T. All three appointments (IHOP included) were quite therapeutic.
Great first impressions were made all the way around. Allie made a good impression on them, the therapists impressed us, and IHOP with the un-ending supply of pancakes found a permanent place in my heart.
It's been a bit of an uphill battle getting into a new therapy routine. We were hoping to find therapists that could come to the house, but we've found that it's been good to get Allie out of the house, into the car, and up to Jupiter to this children's therapy facility. There was a steady stream of little kids coming and going and Allie was captivated. She did her best to be noticed and make new friends. She's much too social to keep at home.
We miss our Northern California therapy team, but we couldn't have asked for a better team than the one we've assembled here in South Florida. We are infinitely glad to be back home.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Book title: Paul: In Fresh Perspective
Author: N.T. Wright
Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2005
Number of pages: 174
Wright sheds light on Paul and his theology that has stood off in dark shadows cast by church tradition.
Wright takes the reader on a journey through major Pauline themes, the way Paul thought, and his theology. It's not a quick trip. At least, for me it wasn't. The book is quite technical requiring a re-reading of several sections.
Wright is a controversial guy. I don't think he intends to do anything but educate, but in the process he knocks over a few theological sacred cows. The biggest debate is taking place within American Presbyterianism where one camp views Wright as incredibly edifying to the Body of Christ while another camp views Wright as dangerous to all holy thinking.
The controversy revolves around Wright's view of Justification. He argues that scripture declares that Justification is the way into God's family; it's proof that you are in. Justification is God's declaration that you are, in fact, part of His covenant family. This view undermines the traditional Reformed doctrine of imputation; at least the Calvinist tradition that is most popular in the U.S.
The book is divided into two parts: Themes and Structures. In the first part, Wright handles Creation and Covenant, Messiah and Apocalyptic, and Gospel and Empire. The second part examines Monotheism, Election, Eschatology, and concludes with the task of the church.
As always, Wright engages the reader with a compelling argument. But as I stated above, it is technical requiring slow, thoughtful reading. The book does not provide bullet points, flow charts, or cartoons. The text is adapted from the Hulsean Lectures in Cambridge University. I'm glad I had this in print form to work through rather than having to try to keep up with a lecture given at Cambridge.
An historical and theological quest is emphasized by Wright rather than merely examining Paul and his teachings in the light of one traditional view or another.
Many would say that Wright's perspective is out of balance; that examining Paul in a historical Jewish context is a mistake. His answer to that: "...we end up reading him as though [Paul] was really a 17th-century theologian born out of due time..." Wright posits that most of what we accept about Paul is based on scholarship that has been delivered to the world since the Reformation. But Paul pre-dates the Reformation.
If you're not familiar with Wright's work, this can be tough to swallow. If you want to become familiar with Wright's work, Paul: In Fresh Perspective is probably not the place to start. Although it's a tremendously good book, it's written way above what is normally consumed by Christian readers.
I am speaking for myself.
Luke posted this over on the Breaking Free blog... Make sure tio take the survey at the bottom of this post...
Our brothers at XXXchurch have taken their ministry to the next step. For years Craig Gross, co-founder of XXXchurch, has told people that they are not a literal church, that they are just an online community. But this month, all of that changes.
Introducing: The Strip Church in Las Vegas.
The ministry of XXXchurch has been on the cutting-edge (and many say too edgy) of helping a world saturated with pornography. This is a ministry not only to those struggling with the temptation to watch porn, but also to the adult industry itself.
- XXXchurch has attended more than 20 porn shows around the world
- Their website has become a huge storehouse of information and testimonies for those who have been affected by porn
- Through programs like Porn Sunday, Porn and Pancakes, and Porn and Pastries, XXXchurch has taken their message to hundreds of churches
- Craig Gross has toured college campuses around the country with famed porn actor and director Ron Jeremy, debating about the effects of porn
XXXchurch has also been accused of crossing the line by several Christian leaders. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has said,
“I have no doubt that Jesus loves porn stars, and the Bible is perfectly clear in its grace-filled message that Christ came to save sinners. Jesus ate with notorious sinners and engaged in conversation with them. Yet, the presence of a Christian ministry within the confines of the Erotica Expo is a step beyond the example of Jesus, I would argue. There is a difference between talking to a prostitute about the Gospel and entering a brothel—much less buying a booth.”
Visit his blog to hear his full commentary.
The Strip Church Plan
“Bringing the Desert It’s Drink”—that’s the tagline of The Strip Church.
So what’s the plan? Every week many conventions and trade shows take place in Las Vegas, from porn stars to plumbers, and accountants to automotive workers. The Strip Church will set up a booth at each one of these conventions in their show rooms and invite people there to a church service happening close to the convention. At these services attendees will be encouraged make the right choices while in Vegas and learn more about Jesus. After these attendees return home, The Strip Church will give them a call and help them find a church in their area.
In order to pull off these outreaches, The Strip Church is asking for volunteers to take short term mission trips to Vegas, and (of course) for financial donations.
Why a Church in Sin City?
According to Strip Church:
- Nearly 40 million people visit Las Vegas every year
- 10,000 prostitutes work in the city
- Over 189,000 hotel rooms are on the Las Vegas Strip
- Tourism in Las Vegas takes in $41 billion annually
- The sex industry in Las Vegas rakes in over 6 billion dollars a year
- Las Vegas is the fastest growing city in the United States
- 140 pages of the Las Vegas yellow pages is devoted to Escort Services and “private entertainment”
- Las Vegas is the epicenter of North American sex trafficking and prostitution
Gross’ vision is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus who came not for the healthy but for the sick, not for the righteous but the sinners. He and his small team have packed their bags and moved their families and made Las Vegas their home.
Gross believes the church needs to do a better job telling people about Jesus. Gross doesn’t blame “the dark for being dark” spiritually, or for Vegas being Vegas. He instead blames “the light for not shining on the darkness.”
What do you think?
What do you think about this outreach to Vegas?
Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I didn't do much blogging at this year's Southeast Calvary Chapel Pastor's conference. Malcom Wilde put together a tribute to Mary Barrett during worship that was most moving. Mary was a part of the amazing worship team at CC Merritt Island until she went home to Jesus in November.
During Mary's last days, she produced an incredible worship album showcasing gifted song writing and depth of her relationship with her Savior. I looked for links online to purchase this CD, but there aren't any yet so contact the church if you want to get your hands on it.
You want to get your hands on it.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I'm at the Southeast Calvary Chapel Pastors' Conference at Calvary Chapel Merritt Island. I'm running into old friends by the dozens and making new ones. Long time friend Anitra Parmele co-hosts a morning show on Reach FM, a Ft. Lauderdale Christian Radio Station. My little reunion with her turned into an interview on the morning show. We talked about Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators, my work with the ministry, and how we work with churches.
Thanks for the opportunity, Anitra.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Today we took Allie in to see a new pediatric orthopedic doctor. It was an informative and sobering visit.
Last June, her doctor in Eureka shared the concern he had for Allie's hip development. Her left hip was growing 50% out of the socket and her right, 35% or so. Her muscular development is slower than her bone growth causing incredible disharmony and a mini tug-of-war in her little skeleton. Her joints are losing. To correct this, her doctor said that she would probably need surgery.
We, of course, wanted another opinion and that from a specialist. We got that second opinion today. Allie's new doc is a kind and articulate doctor who shares the same opinion. Allie will need surgery in the next six months to correct the abnormalities in her hips.
We are taking the next week to pray this through, but our initial gut feeling on this is that we're going to move forward with the surgery. Will you pray with us?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
One of the most productive talks in my life was given at a conference a few years ago. It was remarkable because of the brevity and gravity of the talk. What was also remarkable was the pastor who gave it. He is nationally known both within and without the church denomination I'm a part of. People came to the conference just to hear him speak. Here's his whole talk:
Who is God to me?
This is the one truth God is establishing in my life:
What are my expectations of God?
What is God expecting of and for me?
He said to answer those questions in our notes and then get in a group and pray. Then he took his seat and started writing out the answers...
It's a new year. Answer these questions for yourself.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Trevin Wax posted this interview with N.T. Wright. Anybody that desires to have an intelligent conversation about current conversations in theology needs to be aware of Wright's work. I've become quite the Wright fanboy, I must admit. (The other day it was one of Wright's books I was carrying when I needed something for Megan Kelly to sign.)
In this interview, Wax gives Wright (too many "W's" around here but please continue wreading) the opportunity to respond to Piper's recent book calling Wright on the carpet for his treatment of the Reformed view of the Doctrine of Justification. (See my review of Piper's book here.)
This is the most intelligent theological debate being had in the public arena.
If you're curious about where to start when reading Wright, try Simply Christian then Surprised by Hope. If you're going to pick up the Piper book mentioned in the interview, wait until after you read Wright's otherwise you won't have a clue about what Piper is saying and you'll side with Piper and the jaws of the Reformed bear trap will be sprung and you'll have to chew your leg off in order to ever think clearly again.
via: Tullian Tchividjian
American Chronicle | Prevent Shaken Baby Sydrome and learn how to cope with your baby experiencing colic!
Laurie Wing, writer for the American Chronicle mentions us in this article relating shaken baby syndrome and colic in babies.
Monday, January 12, 2009
John the Baptist’s ministry came under the scrutiny of the religious establishment. Overly dramatic spiritual actors came out to see what John was doing to draw such a crowd. They wanted to profit from it or put a stop to it. They don’t warm up to John or his message when he greets them by calling them a bunch of snakes.
“Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
Jesus had better names for these religious fakers than John had. One I like is “son of hell.” Jesus says: “Yes, how terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn him into twice the son of hell as you yourselves are.”
Snakes these religious people were.
If you were a young Jewish dude and excelled in sacred studies and discipline, it was more likely that you’d be card-carrying Pharisee rather than any other religious sect of the day. Pharisees were mainstream and well financed. They had tight theology that clearly defined who was in and who was out. They separated themselves from the rest of the population. Most of the population was out. But God was pretty much obligated to show the Jews favor. Jews were the children of Abraham. John said God could make “children of Abraham” from rocks.
Jesus later made examples of the Pharisees in the stories He told. In one story, Jesus makes a point to contrast a sinner’s humility against a Pharisee’s self-righteousness. At one Pharisee’s house, Jesus points out that a sinful woman who washes His feet with her tears will be remembered wherever the Gospel is preached. The Pharisee, by the way, is remembered as a rude host. Pharisees are noted for making up rules no one can keep; they come up with laws that rob a widow of any money she has coming; they make loud prayers on street corners, make sure everyone greets them respectfully, and never touch anything or anyone determined to be unclean.
They suppose conforming to their own rules gets them into Heaven.
Jesus calls them sons of Hell.
John calls them snakes.
We’re talking about religious people.
If you thought the Pharisees were a little too hard-lined and heavenly-minded, Sadducee may be the party for you. They were more concerned with the here and now. Angels, demons, and the after-life were not the things thinking people embraced. The poor, uneducated, and misguided commoner placed his hope in these wishful phantoms. Influence, affluence, and creating one’s own destiny were the religious tenets of the Sadducee. Hold these values close to your heart close and one day maybe you’ll be a part of the religious ruling class endorsed by the government; a state sanctioned Sadducee.
No resurrection. No angels. No spirit that lives beyond the grave. Men perish when the body expires.
John called them snakes.
Vipers are a species of snake with a flat, poison-filled head. When a person is bitten, he swells up immediately, and then keels over and assumes room temperature. The word conjures up the image of cunning and malignancy; the viper is the symbol of envenomed malice.
These are religious leaders.
This is John’s baptism. He wants them to know that if they stepping into the Jordan, their wickedness needs to stay in the river where people are repenting. Leave the hypocrisy and leave the acting. Bear fruit. Bear the fruit of one who has turned his back on the world and worldly rewards. Bear the fruit that comes from following God.
When one follows God, one’s position in the religious pecking order isn’t important. Loving people and introducing them to Christ is.
Religious men were preparing first place for themselves and leaving their job undone.
 Barnes’ Notes on Matthew Chapter Three
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I was as irritating as ever yesterday when my buddy Jeff spotted Fox News's Megan Kelly strolling through the airport. I probably would have never noticed her acting like a regular person looking for the carousal her luggage would hopefully appear on after a long flight from the east coast.
So like a giddy school girl at an Ashton Kutcher sighting, I cornered her right there in Baggage Claim, held out the current theology book I'm reading, and demanded an autograph, "because my wife will never believe this."
"What's your name?"
She wants to know my name.
But I don't tell her it's spelled weird because I was born in the sixties so she goes ahead and mis-spells it B-R-I-A-N and I let her because she's Megan Kelly from Fox Cable News. I mean, Bill O'Rielly asks for her opinion.
Besides, I can always go to court later and have my name changed so that she won't be wrong.
This will probably be Megan Kelly's most forgettable experience ever.
My son wrote this:
The realization that God matters most can be earth shattering. It takes your eyes to a place where you see colors your eyes have never seen before. And at this realization my heart is moved with unfailing joy and the deepest form of sorrow.
This morning I was up early thinking about life. I went outside to watch the sunrise over my neighborhood here in West Palm Beach. I decided to take a walk down my street to the corner of Adams and Tamarind. I was thinking about all the kids and all the faces I see every day here in this community.
Then I started thinking about the revival taking place in Cambodia, being that I'm working on a project about Cambodia. Although my community has a high poverty level, it doesn't even compare with the poverty of the people of Cambodia. But the thing the Cambodians now have that my community doesn't have is the movement of peace that comes from God by Jesus.
The realization that came next is the reason I write this in tears. I, too, have that same peace and I live in a community that desperately needs that peace. I began to walk back home, keeping in mind the faces of the first grade boys I work with from this community.
The instant I walked through the door of my house, I began weeping. I realized that I may outlive a lot of these boys. When they hit their teens, they're gonna hit the streets. Unless God moves in their lives now at this early age, they're going to be the criminals that keep this 'hood in fear. And the thing that pains me the most is the knowledge that they may die without that peace that comes from Christ.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Shortly after Urban Youth Impact organized a prayer walk in Dunbar Village, a housing project in West Palm Beach that was the scene of a tragic sexual assault in 2007, Bill Hobbs urged area churches to partner together to minister in the inner-city.
The Christian Prayer & Action Coalition (CPAC) is an alliance of 30 churches with six initiatives: Mentoring, adopt-a-family, summer camp sponsorships, family picnics, home improvements for inner-city residents, and ongoing prayer sessions. 2008 was CPAC's first full year of service in the inner-city.
This February will also mark another milestone for CPAC: Its first anniversary of mentoring inner-city boys. Currently, five male mentors are working with nine boys ages 9 to 12. Every other Saturday, the mentors and boys meet for three hours to participate in an activity, like going to a Miami Dolphins game (pictured here), and to study Scripture. In addition, the mentors meet with the boys one-on-one during the week to read Harold Davis' book Talks My Father Never Had With Me: Helping the Young Male Make it to Adulthood. In 2009, the mentors plan to add a community service component to the program.
If you or an adult male you know have in interest in serving as a mentor, please contact Ryan Gunn at 561.281.4455. Transportation and lunch are provided so there is no cost to the mentor.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Homeschoolers lead; they change the world. They don’t train to adjust to a system; they invent the systems that run the world. Leaders, initiators, and creators are the ordinary output of a home-based education environment. The homeschool student learns earlier in life than their publicly educated counterparts to turn ideas and dreams into reality – or cash. This typically starts with a small enterprise conceived at home with goods or services delivered to extended family, neighbors, or friends at a community center or place of worship. Marketable skills and social experiences developed through these miniature business endeavors turn young entrepreneurs into natural leaders and influential public servants. Young students learn to lead, influence with confidence and vision while putting a little walking around money in their pockets.
Parents control the education experience. Home educators have a fabulous edge over public educators. The instructor doesn’t say good–bye to the student after eight or nine months and then start over with students the following autumn. The parent continues with the child and tailors the curriculum to the student.
Home educators have no outside obstacles to providing an excellent education. They’re motivated to provide nothing less than first rate for their own flesh and blood. Conversely, K-12 teachers within public institutions fight an exhausting, uphill battle to provide the superb schooling students deserve because they’re tasked with educating so many. The numbers served are too high. In many cases, the best that can be provided in a communal educational environment is mediocre, sub-standard or run-o’-the-mill. Not the stuff needed to development a young entrepreneur. These are words that illustrate the average make-it-through-the-week-shift-worker. When parents have the power, they rarely let their kids dip below excellent.
Public education teaches the basics of history. But a deeper look into the characters that have shaped history over the past two centuries reveals a cast of men and women our culture holds in high esteem; homeschooled the lot.
Few deny that George Washington was anything less than the greatest U.S. president. The father of our country was a farmer turned soldier turned general. This founding father was trained at home.
Thomas Jefferson, another founder of the United States was both a lawyer and a farmer. Men do not get out of bed one day and decide to be incredible leaders. These people are crafted over time like a work of art in the hands of a skilled artisan.
It was a home educated man that navigated this country’s bloodiest storm; the Civil War. Lawyer Abraham Lincoln held this country together through the tempest. Unbroken determination wasn’t instilled in him through institutional learning; it was wrought in him in a rural Illinois cottage.
Ansel Adams’ name is known to more than photographers, artists, or lovers of nature. His work is known to the average person on display around the world. This photographer/conservationist was not forced with his craft into anyone’s system. His creations whetted an appetite for brilliant photography and opened the doors for so many to follow in his footsteps. People that ma never leave the concrete and steel of the city have the majestic beauty of landscapes at their fingertips.
Writers Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens, also household names, are products of homeschooling. Libraries are full of books written by the authors influenced by these literary giants.
Chronicles of Narnia creator, well known scholar C.S. Lewis was taught at home; a fact not so well known. Lewis was a broadcaster and writer. His widely published lectures and books about the Bible, God and Christianity continue to influence preachers, philosophers, religious thinkers, and students some 45 years after his death.
Booker T. Washington, educator, author, and African American Civil Rights Leader was homeschooled.
Inventor and entrepreneur Thomas Edison was schooled at home. As was scientist, writer, and politician Benjamin Franklin.
Famed businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie credits home-based education to be the genesis of a long list of entrepreneurial enterprise and philanthropy.
Home-based education teaches an individual to flex circumstances to fit his life instead of forcing an individual into a mold cast by an institutional structure. Its monolithic constitution is the greatest obstacle to producing entrepreneurs. Remove the structure, and potential soars.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Coinciding with my move back to Florida was a change in my job description. My official new title with Shepherd's Staff Mission Facilitators is Regional Mission Pastor.
Meeting with missionaries is the part of my job I love the most. While I enjoy the administrative side of providing missionary care, nothing beats sitting down at a table filled with lunch with a guy or gal fresh from the field. Today I met with Ken Dinnen, a missionary sent out from Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale.
Dinnen serves in Vajta, Hungary, at Calvary Christian Academy. The Calvary Christian Academy is the Eastern European outpost of CC Ft. Lauderdale's Calvary Christian Academy. Dinnen is a teacher at CCA, Vajta.
Dinnen is part of the staff that teaches the children of Pastors and Missionaries at Calvary Chapel Bible College. Not only is he working in the classroom, he participates in outreaches regularly and has launched a youth ministry serving both missionary kids and locals. He gives Bible teaching and godly guidance to both groups.
"It's the perfect environment for making disciples," Says Dinnen. "I'm being discipled while I make disciples."
Dinnen's excitement and passion are infectious as he shares about his work. "I'm a part of giving the students that come to Hungary a bigger view of the world."
Keep up with Ken as he update's his blog. Pray for his work and the lives he'll touch.
This question is being discussed on a missions website. The topic is international copyright law. Many countries in the developing world have not made agreements with the powers that propose and enforce international copyright law...
I have a great friend in North Africa who wrote this past week to ask, "When you read Kings in the Bible do you find yourself cheering for them to do all the right stuff? Does it make you ache each time one does lots of good stuff but then doesn't tear down the 'high places'?
He continued, "I've pondered what the 'high places' are in our day and age... perhaps things accepted by cultures as being okay (but not by God). Do pirated DVDs fit that category? To my knowledge it's impossible to buy an original movie in the country where I live. But does that mean the local ones are illegal? Did all countries really agree to uphold international copyrights? Or is that term really broader than its authority? I'd like to know because I don't want to leave up any high places."
Sunday, January 04, 2009
I sat in on a meeting with my son today and was impressed. He produces videos that promote Kingdom Causes. He listens, he probes, he gathers information, and then sets expectations and deadlines. His poise and maturity, quite frankly, blow my mind. This is a home educated kid. I can't figure out what we did right.
The kid has heart. He has passion for God. He wants to make a real difference in the world. A father wants his son to do better; to have more of handle on the world. This kid is on track.