Why you should fear the dentist: you never know you'll be nearby with a video camera...
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
By all outward appearances, God does not seem to be fulfilling the word He gave in the past.
- tries your patience
- forces you to trust God to fulfill His promises in His own time and way.
Your circumstances seem to contradict or nullify the written or living Word of God. Many Christians, especially those who have a heart bent on serving the Lord think that they should never experience darkness or confusion as long as they do not fall into sin.
This is a heavenly examination that God uses to expose what inner and outer forces influence your decision-making processes. God will arrange situations to reveal your true inner
In the servant test, a man is asked to do menial tasks that seem below his high calling in God. No menial task is below any true servant of God.
In the Wilderness Test, God directly or indirectly guides a leader (or future leader) into a materially and/or spiritually dry and desolate place. When no fruit comes from your life or ministry, you are in this test. You are wondering if you really received a call of God on your life because it appears that you are having no direct involvement in the true, living work in the Kingdom of God. You are left with no one who understands, or wants to talk about it, or wants to listen. Only God.
The Usage Test
A leader undergoes the usage test when he cannot find the
- expected occasion to exercise his ministry.
"Put on the shelf” is a common description for this situation.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Luke over on the Covenant Eyes blog posted this...
Piper has a book called Don't Waste Your Life which is a great read if you want to get deeper into his thoughts on this...
Monday, February 23, 2009
This is an article I wrote before the election and before all conversations were about banks and bailouts... remember when we were talking about other issues?
The role of faith is preeminent in every sector of the way and the how we live our lives. God is either real or He's not real. He exists and desires to invade this world through us, or billions of people are terribly deluded. Faith should influence our politics, our relationships, our business, our education, and our charitable deeds.
God is either real or He's made up.
Faith should influence politics, but we should put little faith in politics. We need to put faith into action in our lives, not just the ballot box. Too many people of faith act like their ultimate expressions of faith happen on Sunday mornings among like minded worshipers and once a year - or once every four years - at the ballot box.
Christianity Today recently published great list of issues people of faith should be aware of when casting their votes: "What is [a candidate's] plan for Iraq? For the Middle East? What would [a candidate] do to stop the genocide in Darfur? How would [a candidate] expand religious freedom worldwide? What would [a candidate] do to reduce abortion and to protect innocent life in general? How would [a candidate] secure our borders against terrorists, reform our immigration laws, and permit more refugees to resettle here? How would [a candidate] promote equal economic opportunity for all while protecting the environment?"
There is more to being a person of faith than simply VOTING for a candidate that has the same political views or religious convictions, especially when candidates have learned to use your religious convictions to pander to you to promote themselves. For example, a voter that has a pro-life stance can vote for a candidate that has a pro-choice position that works to reduce abortions. But even more so, you and I can do much more that is pro-life than merely casting a ballot for a candidate that agrees with us on one issue. We can volunteer at a women's center. We can raise money for an abortion alternative organization. We can adopt a baby. It's more than a biblical world view, it's a biblical world "DO".
The Washington Political machine is a juggernaut. It doesn't matter how you exercise faith at the ballot box. The person you vote for can't get everything through without compromise, negotiation, and traded favors. You could do far more in your world, politically, by putting your faith and politics into action.
Grassroots activism gets so much more done than political wrangling and posturing. There is unbelievable bureaucracy and cash involved with just printing out the plan, rules and regulations to get the ball rolling for any initiative originating in Washington. But with a fraction of the money, churches and community groups can change and impact their own cities by doing. Don't expect government to get your faith done. God wants to make an impact on the world through individuals, not governments. You go do it.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
It started out sunny Friday morning. The wind was cranking at a sustained thirty miles an hour. Later, snow clouds blew in and the wind stirred and swirled the snow all up like a snow globe. It was crazy and cold and the teeny snow flakes froze the surface of my eyeballs where they made contact.
The past few days I've been hanging out with Pastor Shaun Sells of Calvary Chapel Cheyenne working through missions policy and short term team training. He, Sheila his wife, and his leaders have been gracious hosts. I'm staying cozy, warm, and well fed at his parents house.
Shaun piled his kids and I into the church van Friday afternoon for an hour ride to their newly acquired church retreat center. The place is amazing. 240 acres of ministry opportunity in God's glorious Wyoming wilderness. No doubt this will be a place where multitudes will make decisions to follow Jesus and take their faith to a deeper level of discipleship.
Below is a short video of the weather I was expected to endure.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Here's an interesting challenge to men from Bono... Too bad it's in a magazine that men don't read...
ELLE asked me to turn this page (RED) to honor the fact that women are at the vanguard of a movement to stop the greatest health crisis in 600 years: HIV/ AIDS. First off, I want to ask you, Why is it that women are much less willing than men to accept a world where 5,500 people a day die from a preventable, treatable disease? Could it have something to do with that second X chromosome? Do we men have some gene that makes us look the other way...?
related article: Total Cents
- North Korea
- Iraq - recently "liberated" with "democracy" breaking out all over
- Saudi Arabia - War on Terror partner and supplier of oil to the U.S.
- India - "who me?"
- China - most favored trade partner and major supplier of Wal-Mart bobbles
- Pakistan - War on Terror Partner
I left my phone some where last night so I wasn't able to call the charming and beautiful Susan when I woke up in Wyoming this morning. I couldn't figure out how to sign into my Verizon account (thanks for making life even more difficult, guys) to try and text her through them (if even available which I don't know) since I give them money every month. But I googled free texting and came up with text2day.com. So texted her and told her to sign onto facebook so we could chat.
Contact made. Problem solved.
But Verizon still hasn't emailed me.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Five Smooth Stones
Author: Robertson McQuilkin
Nashville, B & H Publishing Group, 2007
Number of pages: 208
The Five Smooth Stones is the product of Robertson McQuilkin’s more than fifty years of ministry. Even in his early years, new ministry methods and methodologies came and went. That has not stopped. So what's right? Is there a method that will last? New voices in ministry say that methodology and theology must be kept separate in order for both to be strong and meaningful; if combined, methods are feeble and theology is marginalized. Does that mean the Bible doesn't speak to methods? McQuilkin says no. The Bible is a wonderful guide for ministry.
McQuilkin organizes the book around these Five Smooth Stones:
- The Bible: making it the functional authority
- The Congregation: aligning it with the biblical purposes
- The Spirit: releasing his energizing power
- The Plan of Redemption: the mission of every disciple.
- The Lord Jesus: gauging servant leadership.
All five of the above areas need to be given equal attention or the church will be out of balance. The church will only be as strong as the weakest area. The weak area will be like a flat spot on a wheel; it slows down the rhythm and momentum of church growth and effectiveness.
McQuilkin draws from his fives decades of personal and ministry experience that has developed in him a deep well of wisdom.
The emphasis McQuilkin has is on fulfilling God's purposes on earth through His chosen vehicle, the church. An attempt to find McQuilkin biased toward one denomination or another within Protestantism is difficult. He sites examples of both praise and critique across a wide spectrum from Pentecostal to Baptist to Reformed. None are given preference one way or another. None are written off as bad or held up as the only way to do church.
McQuilkin includes helpful flow charts and tables to illustrate the concepts he discusses. This book will be on my shelf as a reference and recommended manual. Anyone in church leadership will benefit from this book. Anyone with a heart set on planting a church or looking for a way to bring an out of balance work back under the Lordship of Jesus Christ will profit greatly from The Five Smooth Stones.
Sharon's first prayer request is pretty serious. Sharon is a Shepherd's Staff missionary who ministers to Karen refugees that live in camps in Thailand. The Karen (pronounced car-en) are an ethnic group from Burma (Myanmar). The thug government of Myanmar has instituted a policy of ethnic cleansing against these people (link).
"For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise", says the Lord, "I will set him in the safety for which he yearns." Psalm 12:5
"Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3
1. URGENT! The plan of the Burmese government for 2009, from now until June, is to terminate the Karen in the Karen State in Burma. The army's whole effort is to accomplish this evil goal before their 2010 "sham" election! Pray that God will thwart this evil intention and protect all of the Karen who have been fleeing this evil army for 60 years in a miraculous way, that all will see His hand of protection & He will get all of the glory!
click here to see the rest of Sharon's prayer requests and praise reports...
Porterfield Missionary Page
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Today Kelli purchased a few sets of scrubs, which are the light linen clothes nurses and many doctors wear. The medical ministry is really taking off. While she has never stopped caring for people, and somewhat being the primary care giver for much of Calvary International Fellowship and parts of the missionary community here, God seems to be bringing Kelli's ministry of nursing and health care back to more prominent position. Please pray for these things...
1. Pray as Kelli leaves Saturday for the outreach in Turkana. It is a rough journey and difficult ministry in heat that may reach 44C. It is also radically important ministry among a statistically unreached people that are dying from famine.
2. Please pray as Kelli continues to care for people, within CIF. This includes a home for disabled children (pictured above) and a health care class at CIF to help women know how to be the best stewards with the little they have by choosing the right foods, using clean water and practicing good hygiene.
3. Pray as Kelli attends a conference in Limuru for health care workers in Africa later this month. Pray that there would be good contacts and information for community health.
Compean Missionary Page
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Pastor Ray Underwood of Palm Beach Community Church made the big time this morning.
"Silence is slander," Pastor Ray told Fox News this morning. Sex is the topic. Sex is God's idea. We need to talk about it.
It was pretty cool to see this local pastor get world wide coverage in a positive light.
Underwood also mentioned that the need for marriage counseling has gone down since he started teaching the current series.
Have you seen the billboard in Northern Palm Beach County with the logo pictured below?
My addiction was taken to a new level when Robin Shelley introduced me to the Peruvian way of drinking coffee involving a method of super condensing the flavor and strength of coffee (follow this link and scroll down to #4. "Cold Brew"). This is just one of the fringe benefits of being a missionary care pastor with Shepherd's Staff.
Hanging out with missionaries is the best part of my job. If you want to grow in your walk with Christ, get around missionaries to a foreign land when they're home on furlough. Kick off the conversation with: "So how's the ministry?" And then just shut-up and listen. You don't get a sermon, you get a story. You get the inside track on the life of someone that that understands what it means to leave home and lands and family to make disciples of all nations.
Yesterday I visited with the Shelley Family. The Shelley's are sent out into the Peruvian mission field by Calvary Chapel Boynton Beach. Robin and Tracy have established a ministry hub in Lima where they branch out into several regions to teach God's Word and church plant.
Chris, a fellow parishioner of Calvary Chapel Boynton Beach has opened up his home to this five member missionary family while they "rest" here in the states. The folks at CC Boynton really know how to gather around their missionaries and care for them while they are in town. Furlough for missionaries is rarely a restful time because they have so many churches, family and friends to connect with while here. Having a place provided, as Chris has done, is an incredible and much needed ministry to missionaries.
Please take the time to pray for the Shelley's if you think about it. Life on the mission field is both difficult and blessed. It's where the action is, but it can be exhausting and incredibly taxing. Your prayers are needed and they go a long way.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I'm cleaning up baby puke and I'm worried about what life will be like a few weeks from now. On March 24, Allie will have surgery. She has cerebral palsy and brain damage brought on by an injury about a year and a half ago. Her bones are growing faster than her muscles and this is causing her hips to migrate out of joint. In fact, instead of her hips being a round socket, they are more of a flat surface. So the joints need to be reshaped and her hips repositioned. Along with that, she has to have some leg muscles lengthened.
After the surgery is over, she'll be in a cast from her waist down for six weeks. She'll spend three days in the hospital and then come home. We are unbelievably anxious about what life will be like for Allie and us. Will you please pray?
Prayer request on Susan's blog
Saturday, February 14, 2009
All You Can Eat | 2009 James Beard Award restaurant/chef semifinalists announced | Seattle Times Newspaper Blog
Congratulations to my little brother who will be announced as a nominee for a James Beard award. He made the list for Best Chef: Northwest. It's on page 16 of this online PDF.
Posted by Nancy Leson
The James Beard Foundation today announced a list of semifinalists for the 2009 James Beard Awards in 19 restaurant and chef categories: the first cut before the final five nominees get the public nod March 23...
Friday, February 13, 2009
Not only is Keith a passionate and gifted gospel preacher and Bible teacher, he's one of the smokin'-est lead guitar shredders I've ever heard. The only reason you've never heard of him in main stream rock-n-roll - THE ONLY REASON - is that God called Keith out of it to serve as a maker of disciples.
Keith's music is the gospel on high octane.
If you like Molly Hatchet then you'll like the Wanted Man cut. It has that Deep Fried Southern Rock sound.
Your Voice is a gentle rock ballad.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The following video showing this former porn star making a public profession of faith in Jesus brings this verse to mind...
About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.
Via: Breaking Free
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
There is little appetite for accounts about good deeds done by the U.S. Military. Stories of battlefield victories, friendly-fire accidents, and scandalous behavior committed by rogue soldiers are delivered to us through mass media. To learn of effective U.S. Military humanitarian missions, one must initiate a news search of his own. Although not a secret, the military rarely toots its own horn about its Good Samaritan work except while training new recruits.
The image of a U.S. Marine stooping to assist a defeated, shell-shocked enemy combatant from a dank hiding place is indelibly imprinted on my memory. After Imperial Japan surrendered this anonymous South Pacific Island, it made no effort to rescue its own survivors. American troops did the job and did it with professionalism and compassion.
In Marine Corps boot camp, I was transformed from a street punk into be a lethal fighting machine. I was indoctrinated in combat, learned to field strip an M-16 in seconds, practiced accuracy on the rifle range, survived in the field, and learned to function on a team. I discovered that physique was not the highest priority; psyche was.
The study of history and tradition take precedence. They were my favorite classes. Humanitarian efforts are a significant part of Marine Corps history. Rebuilding, reviving, and renewing communities ravaged by destruction; these set U.S. Troops apart from every other military in history. If the goal of my trainers was to instill pride, it worked. I’m proud of that heritage. And I was surprised to just be learning about it.
My earliest memories are of life in Japan. My father, also a Marine, was stationed not far from Tokyo in 1969 to 1972. It’s where I started elementary school. It wasn’t until I was back in the state, the new kid in school, that I learned Japan was a former enemy. From the way I was treated, you’d think we were still at war with Japan. It was quite a contrast to the great friendships I’d formed with Japanese neighbors; my earliest and most pleasant memories.
After World War Two, the U.S. military was busy rebuilding both Europe and Japan at a great expense. England, our closest ally, was left to rebuild itself while we focused on helping our enemies get a fresh start.
The U.S. Military is skilled in humanitarian work because it doesn’t wait until it wins conflicts to begin to help. According to a document called A Sampling of U.S. Naval Humanitarian Operations by Adam B. Siegel [CIM 132/November 1990], in the past fifty-some-odd years, the U.S. Navy and Marines have been globally engaged in humanitarian projects. The following are just a handful of examples from Siegel’s document.
- Middle East, Dec 1948-Jan 1949
AD-20 Hamal deployed from the United Kingdom for 37 days to deliver relief supplies (blankets) to Beirut and Port Said. Hamal departed London 10 December 1948 and arrived in Beirut on the 21st, where 60,000 blankets were unloaded. Hamal then went to Port Said, where the remaining 70,000 blankets were delivered. She departed Port Said on 26 December and returned to the United Kingdom on 14 January 1949.
- Japan, December 1958
Nine ships of an ASW group, including CVS Yorktown, were diverted from operations at sea to aid the people of Koniya, Japan, who had been left homeless by a fire that swept through the town and destroyed most of its dwellings. Within 24 hours of the disaster, the group delivered food, medicines, clothing, blankets, and tents to the needy Men from the group assisted on the scene until Japanese relief agencies could cope with the situation.
- Japan, September 1959
Following a devastating typhoon, units of the U.S. Seventh Fleet (including the aircraft carrier Kearsarge) distributed over 200,000 pounds of food and medicine, administered over 17,000 typhoid and antibiotic shots to prevent the spread of disease, and evacuated victims in Nagoya, Japan. Relief operations were conducted from 29 September through
- Morocco, February-March 1960
U.S. Naval aircraft shuttled supplies and equipment to Agadir, Morocco, from Port Lyautey after severe earthquakes devastated the city. In these flights, from 29 February through 6 March 1960, the aircraft also evacuated the injured. USS Newport News (CA) provided emergency supplies, a helicopter, and communication facilities at the scene of the disaster, and 147 Navy and Marine personnel aided in rescuing survivors trapped in the debris.
- Japan, August 1962
Units of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, including one attack aircraft carrier, provided medical assistance, food, and evacuation services to survivors of a volcano eruption on Miyako Island, Japan.
- Morocco, January 1963
From 7 through 13 January 1953, helicopters from NAS Port Lyautey, NS Rota, and USS Springfield flew rescue and relief missions in the flooded areas of Beth and Sebou Rivers in Morocco. Over 45,000 pounds of food, medicines, and emergency supplies were flown in, and some 320 marooned persons were lifted to safety.
- Iran, November 1963
DD-758 Strong, in company with the Iranian naval ship Babr, conducted a seven-day joint civic medical action mission along the southern coast of Iran. U.S. and Iranian doctors treated 2,335 patients at the ports of Chahbar, Jask, and Bandar Abbas.
- United Arab Emirates, February 1990
Sailors from DDG-45 Dewey worked ten days straight to renovate a school for handicapped children during a port visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
- Morocco, July 1990
During exercise African Hammer, 46 Seabees from NMCB 3 renovated the elementary school in Sidi Slimane, about 60 miles from Rabat. Repairs included constructing a septic system, installing lights and ceiling fans, and making structural repairs to the school. Earlier in the year, the same unit had rebuilt railroad lines in central Tunisia after flooding devastated the main railway system.
Disaster relief, rescues at sea, refugee aid, emergency medical assistance and nation-building are all activities U.S. forces regularly and professionally carry out world-wide. Boot camp was where I first learned of U.S. forces giving aid to surrendered combatants, but it was in boot camp that my father participated with his platoon to give aid to a hurricane stricken South Carolina town in 1958. I’m proud that my father served bravely far from home in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. But I’m just as proud that he served the distressed victims of a hurricane here on American soil. Because our forces are prepared to help anywhere, they are incredibly effective and quick to mobilize world-wide.
I’m glad the military doesn’t exploit stories of good deeds for self-promotion or posturing for a bigger budget. There’s purity in that. It’s done not for publicity, but to help the victims of war and to solidify diplomatic relationships with a new generation of world leaders. The humanitarian work performed by our military is pure human drama, and if given a chance, would be veraciously consumed by news addicted Americans.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
After several years of successful ministry, the Cruces have decided to quit renting and build a house. But the weather has caused several setbacks and budget over-runs.
In spite of this, the Lord continues to bless through the Cruces as they persevere. People continue to come to the Lord in Barrett's Bible studies. They follow the Lord in baptism and spread hope in their community. He is a true disciple maker.
Anything you can do to encourage the Cruces would not be energy or resources wasted.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
I was out at the Race for Faith today at Okeeheelee Park while you were still in your warm bed. I'd love to make this one of my more spiritual blog posts where I draw analogies between racin' and faithin' but neither were very strong in my world today.
I have a stack of excuses as to why my run today was not as strong as the last time I ran this 5k in 2005, but the best one I can offer is that I was still in my thirties. The difference between being in your thirties, even if it's thirty-nine, and aged into your forties (early forties in my case) is huge, psychologically speaking.
But don't tell me to embrace my middle-agedness. Don't even think about it. I can poke fun at my mid-life crisis but you better leave that one alone or I'll hunt you down and beat you with my cane. Unless you're the charming and beautiful Susan.
Susan dumped out my bag of race day SWAG (Stuff We All Get), and pulled out a flyer for RoadID. She said that at my age (at my age? I'm only TEN months older than her!) anything could happen and she would really like me to order one of these since I never know if I'm going to have a heart attack or get run over by a car while I'm out jogging at dawn's early light.
So guess what I'm getting her for Valentine's Day? Pretty romantic, huh?
Run time: 24:57
Pace: 8 min/mile
9th in my age division (40-44)
Friday, February 06, 2009
This was written by Shepherd's Staff Board Member Jim Vander Spek.
Dr. John Piper, the noted pastor and author, has written a widely quoted and admired article about sexual failure among Christians. It was entitled Gutsy Guilt and published October 19, 2007 in Christianity Today. This was an abbreviated version of an earlier message entitled How to deal with the guilt of sexual failure for the glory of Christ and his global cause. These articles and another entitled Missions and Masturbation are freely available on his website. Together, they embody a longstanding position held by this articulate author.
Here is what I understand Piper to be saying. If you are a person who feels God's calling on your life to serve him and yet find yourself overwhelmed by guilt, which comes from an act of uncontrolled lust, you should work through this guilt and continue striving to fulfill God's call. By all means do not allow Satan to use the guilt you feel in such a way that you lose your dream. Accordingly, your strategy should be to understand and appreciate more fully the substitutionary atonement made available by the cross of Christ. Becoming increasingly knowledgeable of God's grace and provision will provide, over time, enough "ballast" to conquer fornication. By allowing Christ to become increasingly precious to you, you will fall less often and not allow Satan to destroy your dream of radical obedience. Emphasizing the point he writes, "The great tragedy is not masturbation or fornication or pornography." Instead, it is that you are being stripped of your radical dreams to serve Christ.
When I first read Piper's perspective on this vital topic, it made me cringe. He had encapsulated a message and point of view that I had heard before and have found totally ineffective and destructive. Underlying his message is an assumption that "blowing it" periodically in the sexual realm was unfortunate but actually somewhat tolerable. Instead of looking at our own weaknesses, we need to place our focus on God's grace, since He has forgiven us. As we mature in our faith, the problem will diminish. There is no reason to overemphasize our sin. Boys will be boys.
However, after more reflection, my concern has deepened. Piper's message is deficient and needs to be confronted. Most critically, there must be a realization that when a man is overwhelmed by lust and "acts out" in some way or another, such as through masturbation, an illicit affair or emersion in pornography, it is not that particular expression which lies at the center of the problem. Rather, it is the failure of this man to obey the truth presented by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. We are clearly forbidden by our Savior to look with lust, period. All lustful looking is sin, whether it involves television, movies, magazines, the Internet or a purposeful walk on the beach. If you lust, even briefly, you have sinned. Keep on lusting and the evil in your heart will break out and result in behavior that is observable, distressing and guilt inducing. Rather than gutting it out, we should see this guilt as a gift from God. It is a kindness. It should lead us to repentance. The only reasonable response is to turn away, not merely from our repulsive observable behavior, but from each and every lustful thought that could lead us to that point.
Jesus did not direct this zero tolerance policy just towards the "sex addict." It is for everyone. At one point, Piper states "theology can conquer biology." The inference is that there is a biological or anatomical source to lust. Poor me, I have a body that wants to sin. If we really believe that this is the source of our problem, we should eagerly pick up the gauntlet that Jesus threw down and pluck out our eyes or mutilate ourselves in some other way. However, it must be obvious that rather than our biology, it is our wayward thoughts and rebellious hearts that are of such grave concern to God. Lust is not a physical or even an emotional imperative. Instead, it is the corruption of a God given capacity. Whenever the object of our sexual desire is not our wife, it is sin. Sensitizing ourselves to this simple truth and training ourselves to recoil from temptations, which will inevitably and relentlessly confront us, is the only way that we can gain victory and be freed from gnawing guilt.
It is important to recognize that obedience rather than knowledge is the key to success. Piper ascribes far too much benefit to mere knowledge. Theological knowledge is fine as far as it goes, but can delude one if it is not coupled with obedience. In that form, it will lead to a righteousness like that of the Pharisees, who were content to preen without corresponding works worthy of repentance. It is telling that the concept of repentance does not appear in any of these three documents produced by Piper. This brings to mind the tenuous, uncomfortable connection that modern evangelicalism has with The Great Awakening of the 18th century. That period was a time when the church literally changed the culture because Christians were powerfully changed, whether they were Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists or Wesleyans. The "awakening" was not to a cheerful understanding of God's grace and blessing. Rather it was a wrenching and deeply stirring awakening to repentance. Whether God instilled this awakening, as Brainerd or Edwards believed, or converts were responding to God's grace, as Wesley taught, the result was the same. We are all soft on sin when compared to the teachers of that era and we are the worse for it.
Piper's article in Christianity Today appeared almost immediately one month before Ted Haggard, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals stepped down from his post and into the headlines with yet another sickening sexual evangelical leadership scandal. It had been a mere twelve months earlier that Haggard had garnered a cover story on CT, being lauded as an "optimistic champion of free market faith." Tragically, our champion brought embarrassment, being exposed as merely the most recent practitioner of a form of "gutsy guilt" that Piper seems to condone. No doubt, Haggard was deeply remorseful after episodes of binging on sex and drugs. He may even have drawn comfort from the same passage in Micah that Piper leans on, forcefully persisting in his calling and trusting that God would lift him up after he had so spectacularly blown it. Even now, many are eager for his restoration.
However, the wretched sexual trysts engaged in by Haggard were surely not isolated sins. Prolonged and destructive episodes of lustful looking must have preceded each of these events. God saw fit to bring it all to light and the whole world was treated to the spectacle of a male prostitute earnestly identifying the proclaimed leader of all evangelicals as a hypocrite. Did Satan unfairly use the guilt that Haggard surely endured to his advantage or did Haggard simply fail to properly turn from his sin and collapse in ruin as a result?
The sticky sin issue is one that is problematic for evangelicals. On the one hand, we fervently preach forgiveness from the penalty of sin. On the other, we seem to lack a belief that having been saved, we are also freed from the power of sin. As we have received Christ so we must also walk in Him. Sin not only results in eternal punishment, it also destroys our ability to function as we were designed to function. Lust, for example, is a sin that will absolutely derail the walk of a Christian. We were not designed to lust and to use our minds as unwholesomely creative fantasy generators. Accepting Christ and walking in Him, means being freed from the power of all sin including the sin of lust. Nevertheless, this is not the apex of the Christian life. Our model is not Adam nor our goal merely to attain some implausible sinless state. Rather, our goal is Christ living in us, furthering His mighty Kingdom and being joint heirs with Him as we bear His name. This incredible outcome, which was preordained before the foundation of the world, was hidden but is now revealed. This is our true calling not busy work and certainly not the life's work that we seek to achieve.
Piper, on the other hand, seems preoccupied with the idea that some may give up the "calling" that is on their lives due to their sexual failures. Apparently, this calling is some sort of full time Christian service. I would argue that it is a far greater tragedy to move into a position of church leadership even though we are allowing lust to occupy our thoughts. If Satan can continue to delude us into thinking that Christian leaders, let alone everyday Christians, are incapable of living in victory over sin, as they live in Christ, he would surely consider that sweet victory, indeed.
Where to find help.
If you are struggling with lust in your life, there is hope. I urge you to consider the resources developed by SettingCaptivesFree.com This group offers a free, effective, sixty-day internet study called The Way of Purity, which I strongly recommend. Not only will you find powerful and practical Biblical teaching, but also mentors for interaction and numerous testimonies from those who have been freed from crushing sin. You too can be set free from the bondage of lust. "If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed."
Gutsy Guilt article in Christianity Today
Missions and Masturbation
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=J_Koos_Vanderspek
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
This is a great article by Philip Yancey on the topic of the economy. What should a Christian's response be in the face of economic meltdown?
The first stage is simple, an instinctive cry: "Help!" For someone who faces a job cut or health crisis or watches retirement savings wither away, prayer offers a way to voice fear and anxiety. I have learned to resist the tendency to edit my prayers so that they sound sophisticated and mature. I believe God wants us to come exactly as we are, no matter how childlike we may feel. A God aware of every sparrow that falls surely knows the impact of scary financial times on frail human beings.
To read the rest of the article, click the link below...
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Not for Sale is a story you must become familiar with if you are interested in justice or mercy or if you call yourself human. It's free this month at Christianaudio.com. Use the coupon code FEB2009 after you put the book in your cart and it asks for a coupon.
I'm listening to the audio version while I run in the morning. It's blowing my mind that slavery is happening here in America. Today.
Allie has had a cold the past few days which is quite paralyzing for the whole family. She didn't sleep more than fifteen or twenty minutes straight during the night or during her mid-day nap for two or three days. She doesn't know how to blow her nose. She doesn't know what to do with post-nasal drip so she throws up. This is her subtle way of really making the party lively.
Grandma Ruth comes down twice each day to do her share of Allie loving and holding and hugging. Allie gets so excited when Grandma gets here even when life is a living nightmare because of the cold and the puking. Even though Allie aches and her muscles are tight, she expresses delight when Grandma walks into the room.
Sunday afternoon Grandma lays Allie down on the floor and starts rubbing something on the soles of Allie's feet. I'm not in a super cheerful state with the lack of sleep and all so I think to myself, what the hell is she doing?, but since I'm a nice guy or at least trying to be I actually say, "That's interesting. What's that you're putting on her feet?"
"It's Mentol Chino like Vicks."
"On her feet?"
"I've heard of that, putting Vicks on feet rather than the chest," says the charming and beautiful Susan.
I'm still in a bad mood so I'm thinking what the hell are you two hens clucking about?, but I'm trying to be a nice guy so I keep my mouth shut.
So Allie has this Mentol Chino that Grandma Ruth brings up from her native Ecuador on her feet (Allie has it on her feet - Grandma Ruth doesn't bring it from Ecuador on her feet... never mind). The charming and beautiful Susan also applied some of the stuff to Allie's t-shirt and put another shirt on over the top of it.
Allie slept like a baby. She's been napping. The snot has dried up. She had an amazing day yesterday. She slept great again last night. We're all sleeping wonderfully. It's like I've clicked the heels of my ruby slippers and we're all back home in Kansas. I don't know if this Mentol Chino is FDA approved or not. Don't care. It's a miracle drug.
When Grandma Ruth walks in the house, Allie's not the only one delighted to see her.
Check it out here: http://www.dyvenpro.com/ but you better know Spanish.
Monday, February 02, 2009
One blog I check often is Daily Writing Tips. It's a useful blog everyday, but today's post really grabbed me...
A reader writes:
So, there I was, reading The Other McCain (Robert McCain): ”the conservative movement in general tends to esteem punditry over reporting”
What is the difference between punditry and reporting?
The word pundit entered English in 1672 with the meaning “learned Hindu,” from a Hindi word for “a learned man” or “teacher.” Pundit took on the broader meaning of “expert” in the 19th century. Now it seems to mean any self-proclaimed authority with something to say about the news.
Reporting is supposed to be an objective gathering and presentation of the facts. The reader or the listener is presumed to possess the intelligence needed to process the information and arrive at his/her own conclusions.
“Punditry” is ideological opinion masquerading as objective analysis of the news. Punditry assumes that the average reader or listener can’t be trusted to draw the “right” conclusions and must be guided by “pundits.”
The fact that a question can arise regarding the difference between “reporting” and “punditry” is evidence of how much the treatment of news has changed since the days in which straight news reporting and editorial opinion were kept strictly separate.