Unfortunately, tonight is our last night in East Asia and this will be my last post from the far East. We have had a busy two days but I do not have time to write a long summary, so I will give you the highlights.
Yesterday morning we went to the class of a new friend who is an English teacher. We spoke to her freshman level students and were treated like celebrities. It was fun but I wouldn't want to do it all the time.
We went walking in S&J's old neighborhood after our English class and had fun on the streets.
After that, we had dinner with some coworkers of S&J's at a hotpot restaurant. It was an amazing meal and we enjoyed some great fellowship and food.
Last night we went to the coffee shop where S&J work and met Stephen and our friend Annie Tracy. We didn't really get to talk about good things too much, but we encouraged them to read the book and will hopefully continue to communicate via email. There are other believers who know them who can begin sharing with them as well, so they are in good hands.
Today, Laurel and I ate some noodles for breakfast that are famous here in this city. They were not that good, but now we can say that we have eaten them.
After breakfast, Laurel and I went shopping at dirty alley and took pictures of the neighborhood. Then, we got ready for the day and went to a famous landmark in the city. It cost 50RMB though so we decided not to go into the park. Instead, we took a ferry across the famous river that goes through the city. It was a neat experience.
After the ferry ride we went to a walking street and then took a VERY crowded bus back across the river to eat dinner.
Now, I am getting ready for bed on our last night in WH. We fly out tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12:15pm Asia time, which is 11:15PM (Tuesday night) in Louisville. We are due to arrive back in Louisville at 9:21pm Wednesday night. I am really not looking forward to the flight, but it will be good to see our friends from Louisville that we have missed. Nevertheless, we will really miss East Asia like never before. I am not sure why, but the Father has given us a love for this country that we can't explain.
I have much more to say, and more stories to tell. But, those will have to wait until we get home. The Father has been working on my heart, and I feel that overall, this trip has been spiritually encouraging. I can't wait to begin posting pictures so you can see the places and people that I have been blogging about. I also have some pretty rad video as well.
Thank you to those who have kept up with us while we have been gone. I hope that you have been encouraged by this blog and by what the Father is doing in East Asia. Thank you most of all to those who have prayed for us. Please continue to pray for us as we travel home. Our hearts will be heavy, as we leave East Asia and our family.
Thanks again for "Porchin' It" East Asia style.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Unfortunately, tonight is our last night in East Asia and this will be my last post from the far East. We have had a busy two days but I do not have time to write a long summary, so I will give you the highlights.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
This morning I went a different way on my walk. I went past an important university in this city and found a little restaurant down the street. I ate bao zi this morning instead of jiao zi (dumplings). Bao zi are meat filled steamed buns. They can be large or quite small and the ones I ate were on the small side. I got ten of them for 2RMB, which is about 33 cents. They were OK but can't compare to dumplings.
I drank my second bottle of hong cha (red tea) on the way home. I also began drinking the jasmine tea I bought yesterday with Stephen. It has a great flavor that will forever remind me of my days in East Asia.
The temperature today was really cold. Actually, the temp isn't all that cold compared to the States, but there is just a difference. I think that on the whole, East Asia seems much colder in the winter than America for several reasons.
First, here in East Asia, people spend more time outside than in the States. People walk a lot more and it takes longer to get places since most people don't have cars. Second, even when people are inside, the heat isn't as warm as it is in the States. Most of the shops I have been in don't have heat and people just wear their jackets and coats inside. Third, even when people are traveling from place to place, most taxis and buses don't use heat. Taking all of these factors into account, it just seems colder here.
This morning, we met with the team for some worship, time in the Word, and prayer. It was a good time of fellowship as we discussed 2 Peter chapter 3.
As good as it was, I couldn't help but miss Third Avenue Baptist Church back in Louisville. If there is one bad thing about traveling, it is that we miss our church and fellow members back home. I have said it before and I will say it until I die, Third Avenue has been the BIGGEST blessing during our time in Louisville. When we are gone, we realize how much our church means to us. We prayed for our church this morning, and will continue to do so as they meet on this Lord's Day.
At the same time, gathering with the team here was special and now I think that we will remember them even more in our prayers when we return home.
After we gathered, we had an awesome lunch with the team. It continues to be wonderful to get to know the people S&J work with here.
Following Lunch, Laurel and I went to the giant walking street I mentioned yesterday. We planned to spent a couple of hours looking around, but we got side tracked trying to take some goofy pictures in one of those little photo booths. It was WAY more complicated than we thought and took WAY longer than we planned. Nevertheless, it was fun and now we have some new pictures to remember our time here.
Tomorrow will be a big day for us as we will meet with several people. In the morning, we are meeting Annie Tracy to meet some of her students (she is a teacher) and have lunch. Pray for opportunities to share the news as we visit with them. In the evening, we are going to the coffee shop to visit with people and hopefully meet Stephen. Again, please pray that the Father would provide the opportunity to share the news.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Last night we had a Christmas party with some Chinese brothers and sisters. We ate some pizza, played some games and had a great time of sharing what the Father has done over the past year. It was humbling to be in the same room with people who are walking with the Father through various trials and sufferings.
One young lady told us about how when she became a sister, all of her roommates treated her very badly and stopped talking to her. In this culture, that can be a very painful thing, as relationships are very important and harmony among friends if valued. Nevertheless, she kept taking them before the Father, and now she is reading the Book with several of them. Several of the sisters shared their testimonies and it was encouraging to hear how they are growing in their faith.
I woke up early again this morning and had breakfast at my usual restaurant where I eat dumplings each day. Now the dumpling lady doesn't even ask me what I want, she automatically knows and gets the dumplings ready when she sees me. Speaking of that, I began thinking today about the amazing bargain I am getting on my breakfast.
For example, each day I eat 20 dumplings for breakfast. Some people lose weight when they come to Asia, but unfortunately, I think I am gaining several pounds. I am fatter than ever so now I can fit more dumplings in my belly than any other time I have been here. OK, that was free. Anyway, I get 20 dumplings for 5 RMB, which is about the equivalent to 0.80 cents. In America, dumplings in a Chinese restaurant usually cost 5-6 dollars for 5-6 dumplings. As I was eating this morning, I began doing the math and was amazed at the deal I am getting. What I am eating for 0.80 cents would cost around 20 dollars in the U.S. I suppose that is why I feel like I need to bloat myself on dumplings everyday. I won't have this luxury back home. I wonder if I talk about food too much?
After breakfast, Laurel and I went to meet Stephen to buy tea. We had a nice taxi ride around a beautiful lake, and through some older sections of the city that had very Chinese architecture. We had a good visit on the way about what the Lord has been teaching us this week. Both of us feel that it has been a spiritually encouraging trip.
Next, we met Stephen and took another taxi to a tea market with several tea shops. Anyone that knows me knows that I love tea so this was an exciting place for me. After looking in every shop, we decided to buy some tea from a merchant that Stephen's uncle knows.
After finding his shop, he led us to a back room and we all sat down. He then proceeded to pour us some tea and we made small talk for a few minutes while enjoying some fresh jasmine tea. It was a neat experience because he seemed to know a great deal about tea and he gave us samples of each tea he told us about. We were in the shop for over an hour drinking and discussing tea. In the end, we bought 3 kinds of tea that we will take back to Louisville with us. So, if you are in the Ville and you want to try some of our new tea, just give me a call and you can come over for a sample.
Unfortunately, since we spent so long buying the tea, we didn't get to talk to Stephen about the good news. Nevertheless, we hope to see him at the coffee shop early next week and if it is the Father's will, we will visit with him then. Even though we didn't get to share, it was nice spending time with him. He helped us a great deal with our tea purchase.
Next, S&J took us to an area of town where there are street food vendors to eat lunch. It was fun because the street was so crowded and there were so many kinds of street foods to eat. After lunch, we went to some Christian book stores to look at books. It was a long afternoon of walking and shopping so we are all tired this evening.
Yesterday, I walked to the world's longest/largest walking street. I have never seen anything like it. I think that I could spend 12 hours there and not make it to every shop. It was amazing. To get there, I had to walk down a filthy alley with many makeshift shops selling everything from clothes to rocking chairs. It was really dirty and there was even a section with rivers of raw sewage flowing down the street.
The reason I mention this is that there are thousands of people who work and live in this area. For the most part, they are very poor and live unbelievably difficult lives. As I was walking, I was saddened by the fact that many of these people have probably never even heard the name Jesus. There are thousands of foreigners who come to East Asia to spend their lives sharing the good news with people who might otherwise not hear. However, the vast majority of foreigners concentrate on reaching students, business men, and other people of influence in this society. Very few foreigners, if any, would be willing to plant themselves in such a poor, dirty area to share with the lowest class in this society. I was saddened as I prayed for these people because they are not a group that is targeted for sharing the news.
Actually, as I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that foreigners are probably not the best people to share good news with the "alley people." Foreigners would not fit in if they lived in an area like the alley. The would stick out and draw too much attention to themselves. As I walked among the people, everyone looked at me and probably wondered what in the world I was doing there. On the other hand, other Chinese people were there buying things and walking and no one paid any attention to them.
As I was walking and praying, I came to realize again just how important discipleship is in the ministry here. As Chinese people begin a relationship with the Father, it is crucial to teach them how to share the good news and pray that the Father would give them a burden for people who have little access to the truth. I think that it is the Chinese who, for the most part, must reach other limited access Chinese people, like the ones in the alley.
There are SO many people in this land who have NO access to the good news other than a personal conversation about the truth. Even though there are many workers in this country, the need is as great as ever. The gap between the poor and the rich is becoming greater and greater, so the workers here must remember to teach new believers why and how to share the good news. Churches must reach out not only to people they are comfortable with, but also people who are the hardest to reach.
Please continue to pray for Laurel and I as we are here. Maybe we could even encourage some of the brothers and sisters here to take a walk down that alley and pray and look for opportunities to share. Pray for this country because so many people will NEVER EVER have the opportunity to hear the good news. Millions of people have no means by which to hear the truth. Anyone who can casually pass over the "man on the island scenario" has probably never been outside of the United States. It is hard to think about what will happen to so many people who have never heard. How will they hear, unless some of us go?
Friday, December 26, 2008
Yesterday was a great day. After I left the internet bar, I bought some red tea at a little shop. As I left, I said, "Merry Christmas" to the lady working there. As I walked out the door, I stopped and went back in and asked her if she knew why we have Christmas. She didn't know so I told her that it is someones birthday that is very important. I asked if she knew who and she didn't. I was able to tell her that it is JC's birthday and that he was the Father's one and only son. Then, I handed her a little book explaining the good news. I can only ask the Father to help her understand the good news. There are so many opportunities like this here in East Asia.
We had a good Christmas day with S&J and had pancakes for breakfast and opened some presents. We gave them an ESV Study Bible that we hope will help them in their own spiritual life as well as help them prepare lessons for their work here. It was nice to spend Christmas day with Laurel's parents.
Later in the afternoon, we went to dinner with the team here. We had some great Chinese food including some delicious dumplings. You know that it is a good day when a person can eat dumplings for breakfast and supper!
We went to another Christmas party last night. Both of us were able to meet people that we made appointments to meet with later. That was my prayer and goal and the Father was faithful.
Laurel and I met with Annie Tracy this afternoon and were able to share the whole good news with her. She did not believe, but she agreed to read the good book. We will give her contact information to a member of S&J's team. It is a sad reality that so many people here do not even believe that the Father exists. She really doesn't believe that He exists. Please join us in praying that as she reads the Word, that the Spirit would give life to her dead heart.
We are having a party with all brothers and sisters tonight. It will be fun getting to know some of the people that S&J have been telling us about.
Tomorrow, Laurel and I will be meeting Stephen. We will be praying for an opportunity to share the news with him too. His grandparents are both believers, so that should give us a starting point. His English is pretty limited, so we will need to use a lot of Chinese to share the news and explain things. Please pray for this meeting. He is going to help me buy some tea, and then Lord willing, we will find a place to chat. Pray that the Spirit would go ahead of us and be preparing his heart to hear the news.
Things continue to go well here. It is a blessing to be here, even if our time is really limited. I hope that everyone had a merry Christmas. Thank all of you so much for your prayers. I will update again as soon as I can.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It is 6:44am and I am sitting in an internet bar on a dark walking street here in WH. It is a large room filled with hundreds of computers and probably 50 Chinese people. Since it is so early, most of them have been here for most of the night. Most of them are smoking and playing internet games or watching movies. TIC (This is China) baby!
I have been awake since about 2:00am. I have tried to do everything right to counter jet lag but it seems to have caught up with me. I have not napped at all and have gone to bed after 10 each night. The first two nights I slept well, but it must have been the sleeping pills that helped and not my strategies for fighting jet lag. I will try to stay awake all day today so hopefully I can sleep well tonight.
Today is Christmas day here. We have a somewhat low key day including time at home, an early dinner with Sam and Joan's (S&J) team, and a Christmas party at the coffee shop where S&J work. If you have a minute, I would like to tell you about yesterday.
What we did Yesterday
I started the day off early with Laurel on a hunt for dumplings (Jiao Zi). Dumplings are my favorite Chinese food and I woke up at 3:00am with a hankering for some dumplings for breakfast. We went to the same street where I found the steamed buns the first morning and we hit the jackpot. We found a crowded, dirty, smokey restaurant that served just what we were looking for, steamed pork dumplings.
After breakfast we went walking down this very "Chinese" street and enjoyed seeing all kinds of strange foods and mingling with common people. Again, I have been blessed with more of a desire to pray for this city and the people here so walking and praying is something I have been doing quite a bit of. It is especially wonderful to have Laurel here with me. This is the first time we have been back to the land we love as a married couple. It is such a blessing to experience the sights, sounds, and people of this place with my best friend and partner in ministry.
After breakfast and our walk, we went with S&J to visit their tutor. This was an amazing experience that reminded me of everything I love about China. Their tutor is an old man in his 70's that has been teaching foreigners for many years. He seems to be an expert in Chinese culture and we quickly found out that he is a master storyteller. We spoke to him for about 45 minutes in Chinese and listened as he told us about the history of WH's most famous landmarks. We sat in his freezing apartment and were humbled by the kindness and patience of this wonderful man. Please pray for his salvation. His name is teacher Zhou.
After visiting with the tutor, we went to a restaurant frequented by S&J for a lunch with several of their American friends and their team. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, and other great foods. It was fun meeting everyone they work with. Moreover, the food was great.
After lunch, we went back to S&J's apartment for a Christmas party with the team. They lead 4 college graduates who are here for a year or 2. They all teach English and live on campuses. We had a good time together.
After the party, we went back to the coffee shop for a big Christmas party/program. It was awesome being around 100 or so Chinese students who are studying English and want to practice with native speakers. During the party, we talked about several Christmas traditions, had some games, sang some songs, and read the Christmas story. There is another similar party tonight so we are excited to go back.
I must confess that so far being here has been a blessing. There are several things that the Lord seems to be doing in my life.
- I have been praying more than I have in a long time. I am not sure why, but I have had more of a desire to pray and intercede for many things. When I couldn't sleep last night, instead of getting up to watch TV like I would normally do when I have trouble sleeping, I prayed. I prayed for whatever came to mind. It was great just to speak to the Lord about whatever was on my heart. If you are reading this and are a member of 3ABC, please know that you and our church were especially prayed for. I miss all of you and hope you have a merry Christmas.
- For some reason, I have been uniquely sensitive to sin in my life. I am not talking about a few of the big sins I struggle with, but just the sinfulness of my whole heart. Much of the praying I have been doing is confessing and asking forgiveness for sin in my life. I am not sure why the Lord is making me aware of this now, and in this place, but I am humbled by my sin, and in the awesome grace of our Father.
- I have a strong desire to share the good news with people I meet. Last night I was very burdened for the good news and I spent a lot of time asking for boldness and opportunities to share. I prayed for my wife as well, that the Father would put someone in her path to share the Truth with. If you would join us in asking for these things, I would appreciate it.
Well, I guess that is about all for today. I am sorry I couldn't write last night. I hope that all of you have a great Christmas. Please remember to pray for East Asia today. There will be thousands of evangelistic Christmas parties all over the country today. Please pray that the Father would lead many people to Himself. I will write again as soon as I get a chance.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have to hit the streets again in search of some dumplings to eat, and some people to share the true meaning of Christmas with. Sheng Dan Kuai Le!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Laurel and I made it safely to East Asia last night. For those of you who don't know, we are spending Christmas with Laurel's parents, who live in a city of over 10 million people in East Asia. I hope to update my blog daily to give my friends and family back home an idea of how we are spending our time.
Our flight over was uneventful but really long. We flew from Louisville to Atlanta and then from Atlanta directly to East Asia. The trip from America to East Asia was almost 16 hours! The trip was made easier by lots of movie and television selections. I always plan to do lots of reading on the plane, but always end up watching movies and TV instead.
When we landed in East Asia, we had to hurry to another terminal to catch our flight to Sam and Joan's city. The last leg of the trip was the hardest. We had been traveling for almost 24 hours and both of us only had about 5 hours of sleep during the last 48 hour period. We took a few short naps on the last leg and were so tired that both of us started dreaming the minute we closed our eyes. We were desperately trying to stay awake to help fight jet lag.
We arrived in WH a little after 7 and after an hour taxi ride, we made it to Sam and Joan's apartment. It is really nice and we had a comfortable bed waiting for us. We went to bed a little before 11pm and both of us slept really well.
I woke up about 6am this morning and after getting ready, I headed to the streets. I love waking up early in new places and walking around to see what there is to see. When I left, my main goal was to find some bao zi. Bao zi are steamed buns with various meat or vegetables inside. It is a pretty typical Chinese breakfast and that is exactly what I was looking for. After walking several blocks and asking several street vendors, I finally found some good bao zi. I bought 6 total, 3 for me, which I ate on the way home, and 3 for Laurel.
So far, I am pretty timid speaking Chinese. Since I have been back in the States for so long, I have forgotten probably 80% of the Chinese I knew, so it is more difficult to get things done. Nevertheless, it feels great to be back and I love getting off of the main streets and into the back alleys where no one speaks English and I am forced to communicate in Chinese. There is just something about this place that warms my heart.
As much as I am enjoying being back, I am struck with the overwhelming sense of the lostness of this country. Since all of my Chinese friends in Louisville are highly educated and successful, I have forgotten how difficult everyday life is here for most people. My heart aches when I consider the hopelessness of most people here. So, as I walked this morning, I prayed for this city because there are few opportunities for the everyday people to hear the good news. As always, being here has reminded me of the need for more workers to bring the truth to this land.
After breakfast, I went to the bank to exchange money. On this walk, I was reminded how helpful it is to know the language. I was able to ask the guards at our apartment where the closest bank is, then get a taxi to get there. While there, I handled my business all in Chinese and asked which bus I could take to get back. I rode the bus back to the apartment and then decided to walk some more. On this last walk, I saw both a dog and a woman get run over on the same street. The lady got tagged pretty good but she got up and was discussing the accident with the driver so I assume she was OK. Again, I was reminded of the need to share the news as often as possible because there is a really good chance that if she would have been killed, she would be spending eternity apart from the Father.
We just got back from the supermarket and are taking it easy for the rest of today. Beginning tomorrow, we will be busy all day every day with Christmas parties, meals, and tagging along with Sam and Joan as they do their thing. I will try to post a little each day to help you keep up with our East Asia adventure.
Finally, here are some tips that I have picked up for fighting jet lag. 1. From the minute I take off from America, I adjust my watch to whatever time it is in the country I am traveling to. From that point on, I try my hardest not to think about what time it is back home. 2. I try to sleep when I should be sleeping at my destination. This is sometimes hard to do, but it is worth it in the end. Therefore, since we left Louisville at 7am, I pretended that it was really 8pm. 3. 4. Another key to fighting jet lag is to eat and drink often on the plane. Sometimes the symptoms of jet lag are actually from becoming dehydrated from travel.
I'll try to write some more tomorrow. Until then, please pray for us!
Monday, December 15, 2008
Lord willing, I am quickly approaching my last semester of seminary. I am taking a class this December and then four in the spring. Baring any complications, I will graduate with a Master of Arts in Missiology degree in May. I surely won't win any awards for my academic greatness, or my astronomical GPA, but if Dr. Mohler handed out awards for goons, I would be Summa Cum Zoom.
Case in point. Today was the first day of my December class. I checked the schedule before I left to make sure I knew the correct room number. The schedule said Norton 102, so that is where I headed. There was an accident on I65 northbound so I was nervous about not getting a seat next to an outlet so I could plug my laptop in. Nevertheless, I made it to room 102 at 7:45, a good 15 minutes before class.
When I arrived, the room was empty and dark which seemed strange, so I didn't go in. I sat outside, ate a bananna that Laurel packed for me and waited until I saw the professor. About 5 minutes till 8 some guys showed up and asked if I was waiting for the Reformation class. I was like, "Naw, I'm waiting for the leadership class." One of them pulled out the syllabus from their class and sure enough it said that the Reformation class was meeting in Norton 102.
"OK, this stinks," I thought, "Now I am going to have to talk to people and try to find out where my class is." So, like a freshman on the first day of high school, I went room to room asking if the Leadership class was meeting there. Eventually, I went to every room on the hall and asked several students if they knew where the class was meeting. No luck.
I even went upstairs to see if I could find the room. The only thing up there was New Testament II (a class I wish I was taking during the winter term) and some PhD. looking group. So, as a last resort, I went to the main office of the Graham School. A girl I know was working there and I asked her if she knew where the class was meeting.
She didn't know anything about the class but another lady offered to look the information up on her computer. She found the class, and interestingly enough, the computer confirmed that the class was meeting in Norton 102. I thought, "This is going to suck if they canceled the class without telling me."
Then, she called the professor's office to ask if they knew where the class was meeting. The person on the other end said, "I didn't know that he had a class today." Now, I started to wonder what in the world was going on. The was mucho weirdo. Everyone involved was puzzled until the lady on the phone looked at her computer a little closer.
She got this strange look on her face and then said, "Wait, Dr. Armstrong's class doesn't meet until JANUARY 15th!"
Ladies and gentlemen, today I solidified my position as the biggest goon at Southern Seminary.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Kirbyville must overcome Muleshoe's stubborn D to win state
Click on the title above to read a story about the upcoming Muleshoe game from the perspective of Kirbyville I found in the Beaumont newspaper.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Can you believe it? The Mules are heading for the state title game!!! This article says it all! I am sure that there will be more to come.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I suppose most of my friends have given up on "Porchin It" long ago. For the faithful, here is an interesting story on the connection between TV and teen pregnancy. It seems like "Friends" is useful for something, namely, influencing young teens to have premarital sex. Gotta love it!
Friday, July 18, 2008
I'm back on the porch. Chances are, if something makes me laugh out loud, I might share it with you. Case in point, the following post from Stuff Christians Like. Thanks for sharing this Rich.
Stuff Christians Like: #345. Hand Raising Worship - The 10 Styles
Seriously, if you want to laugh this will do the trick. It's good to be back.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
The Night the Angel Didn’t Come
Awesome! Christian, don't fear death! Do you ever wonder why God spares some of his children as they face death and why he ordains that some be killed? Read this to get a God centered beginning to the answer of that question.
Boy, 11, Takes Off Brett Favre Jersey After Wearing It Every Day Since 2003
Fox News has a story about the most devoted Packer fan in the world.
Table tennis tops as China's national pastime
This was a fun little article from USA Today about China's passion for table tennis, aka, ping pong. If you click on the above link you can read the short article and watch a short slide show with audio. It is quite fascinating, especially for people who have visited China and can attest to their love for the game.
One day I will tell you about some of the epic battles I had with my Korean classmates late at night when we were locked in our dorm. I never knew that playing table tennis could make a person so sore.
Welcome to the World, Trig Paxson Van Palin
Dr. Mohler writes about a couple's increasingly rare choice not to abort a baby with Down Syndrome. He writes,
Modern diagnostic tests are driving a "search and destroy mission" to eliminate babies judged to be inferior, disabled, or deformed. Some experts now believe that up to 90 percent of all pregnancies diagnosed as having a likelihood of Down syndrome end in abortion.
This is a sad situation for our country. Kid's who have Down Syndrome can and often are amazing blessings to their parents and in my case to their nanny. Dr. Mohler goes on,
Some ethicists now go so far as to argue for a "duty" to abort a baby with a Down diagnosis. This is an assault upon the dignity of every human being. The fact that so few Down syndrome babies now make it to birth is a sign that America is making its own pact with the Culture of Death.
Does this sound a little bit too similar to Hitler's plan for creating a "perfect" German race? Didn't he advocate for destroying persons he deemed 'inferior" Am I wrong on that? Is my history mixed up? If I were an adviser to a political candidate, would he have to distance himself from me for suggesting such a connection? At any rate, Christians in no way, shape, or form should mirror our culture's hatred for the disabled and unborn. Right?
Monday, May 5, 2008
Plant Rights, Screaming Vegetation, and a "Biocentric" Worldview
This is a short but interesting article by Dr. Mohler.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Celebrities Come Out to Party for Kentucky Derby
The Derby is big news here in Louisville this week. It is quite exciting to see the town abuzz with Derby fever. I was getting my hair cut at Bill's Barber Shop this morning and this young lady was walking down the sidewalk all dressed to the nines, derby hat and all.
There have been festivities going on for weeks. Even with all of the hoopla, I think that I am convinced that I like small town festivals better. With small town festivals, there is less traffic and hassle. Did I ever tell y'all about the time I won the Erath County mooing contest? See, that's what I'm talking about.
Brad Thayer continues to be the only faithful blogger over at the Third Avenue Baptist Church Blog. In this post, he tells of how one of his Christian coworkers turns a conversation he was having with a customer about adoption into a conversation about Christ.
I was encouraged and challenged by this story. I was encouraged because it demonstrates how easy it is to get into a conversation with anyone about the gospel. I was challenged because I am certain that I don't engage people in gospel conversations nearly as often as God deserves.
The gospel is good news! God deserves for his people to tell the story of how Jesus came into the world to save sinners. God deserves for his people to tell others who are ignorant and rebellious towards him about his glory, holiness, majesty, mercy and grace. In short, God deserves to be known and worshiped by every single person that he has created. This can ONLY take place as lost people HEAR and BELIEVE the gospel.
People can not hear, if they are not told. If I am not telling, I am not obedient or faithful. If I am not obedient and faithful, I am not a disciple. If I am not a disciple, I am not in relationship with Christ. If I am not in relationship with Christ, I am cursed. If I am cursed, I am going to hell.
Lord, open my stubborn and rebellious mouth even TODAY, for your glory in the name of Christ, so that by my willingness to share the gospel it might be proved that I am actually a believer in you.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
A few years ago I read an article by John Piper about the lottery, specifically relating to churches accepting money that comes from gambling. This article made me stop in my tracks when I read it several years ago and challenged me to think about gambling, the desire to be rich, and the hard decisions people and churches have to make when dealing with an issue such as this.
You can read the article here. I highly recommend that you do so. It is short and you can read the whole thing in about one minute.
One of the reasons I began blogging is that I love to share things like this with people I might not see everyday. Here is a snippet to make your soul hungry for a gem of truth.
Christ does not build his church on the backs of the poor. The engine that delivers his righteousness in the world is not driven by the desire to get rich. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not advanced by undermining civic virtue. Let the pastors take their silver and throw it back into the temple of greed.
Read the whole article and let me know what you think.
In this commentary, Dr. Russell D. Moore reveals what he thinks is the most significant theological issue facing Southern Baptists right now. Dr. Moore is the dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of my professors.
We rail against a decadent culture, but only those aspects of the culture that we haven't yet adopted. Just look at the difference between the way we speak of gender reassignment surgery versus the way we speak of divorce. Could it be that the difference between the two modes of discourse is because we have fewer transgendered deacons and Sunday school teachers than divorced ones? Or, worse, could it be because divorce now seems "normal" to us?
Wow! I encourage you to read the commentary and the journal article (it's long) he references.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
OK, so I was invited to play rugby with some new friends that are students at the University of Louisville. I've never played rugby but I thought that it would be a fun way to fellowship and get to know the guys better. They kept going on and on about their heroes of the sport, some team called the "All Blacks." They said I should look them up on You Tube and I followed their suggestion. Let's just say I am not as excited to play rugby on Friday as I was before I watched this video.
It's not that I don't like sports, it's just that at 30 years old, I play touch football now. I'm not sure if we will be playing touch rugby. In fact, I'm pretty sure that touch rugby doesn't exist. Furthermore, when I play football with friends, I try to use my swiftness to make plays. After watching a few rugby videos, it seems that being able to run over people is the best skill one could have.
I am fatter than I have ever been, so maybe the extra mass could help me run over any dwarfs that might be playing. On the whole, I am just a little nervous about playing this FULL contact sport. I'll let you know how it goes.
More on the Rev. Wright from someone qualified to share an opinion, namely, Thabiti Anyabwile.
The reason I love about reading what Thabiti has to say is that his opinions are grounded in the gospel. Not so with Fox News, Drudge or other media outlets.
If most of what you read and hear about this situation is coming from the secular media, I would encourage you to read the above post by Thabiti that I linked to for a different, more godly perspective.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Read this post about RSS and Google Reader. Google reader has been really helpful in saving me time as I browse the blogs that I read. If you frequent more than 3 blogs, Google Reader might be something you want to check out. It is very easy to use and saves lots of time. HT: Tim Challies
Monday, April 28, 2008
But if any one fact is clear, on the basis of this evidence, it is that the Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts. In other words, it was based upon doctrine.
J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (p.21)
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Brad Thayer, blogging at the Third Avenue Baptist Church Blog, comments on a John MacArthur quote from T4G. In fact, the quote mentioned in the post by Brad was my favorite part of his sermon. Along with this, he also said that, "Hard preaching makes for soft hearts." Although this isn't a popular view, I tend to agree with him.
When I was serving the Lord in East Asia, once a year all of the people ministering with our organization would travel to another Asian country for an annual meeting. It was a special time that everyone looked forward to.
There were administrative things to take care of but the highlight of the week was the preaching and worship. These were times when over 1,000 fellow workers would join together in singing and praising God together. Many of these people had spent the past year mostly alone and in remote places without the abundance of Christian fellowship that we often take for granted here in the U.S.
The first year I was there, the pastor from America literally spent almost 30 minutes of his sermon telling typical Southern Baptist corny jokes. It was like he as a stand-up comedian. Granted, he was really funny, but I couldn't help being discouraged because I could have stayed in my hotel room and heard funnier and better jokes on TV.
I was discouraged because for the past year I had been laboring to do the work of an evangelist and church planter. There were so many times of loneliness, emptiness, and fatigue. There were times of great trial and even when things were going great, there was a great deal of pressure and anxiety regarding new converts and beginning churches. I came to that meeting tired and spent, and desired and needed the gospel preached to my broken heart.
Instead of truth, I got jokes. Instead of preaching, I got stand-up. Instead of the Word, I got stories. Thankfully, I had friends who were going through the same things and we ministered to each other through the reading of Scripture and prayer.
The reason I mention all of this is because I am convinced that battle weary Saints don't need jokes and stories to encourage and strengthen them. They need hard, heart softening, Christ centered, gospel proclaiming, expository preaching. From my humble experience, John MacArthur is right. Soft preaching does make hard hearts and hard preaching makes soft hearts.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Complementarian Singles: How Can I Prepare Myself for Marriage?
Click on the above link if you are single and have the desire to be a husband or wife someday.
Also, if you have or will have the opportunity to disciple a single person who may be considering marriage in the future, click on the above link.
Finally, if you are a member of a church with single people, click on the above link for some probing things to think through as we help single Christians discern issues related to dating or courtship.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
This post at the Desiring God Blog is near and dear to my heart. The 10 suggestions are practical and easy and are sure to have a lasting effect on your children, or yourself, if you don't have kids.
I especially like #6. Which one is your favorite? Are there other things that you have done with your children that could be added to this list?
I might add #11, take a short term mission trip as a family. This might be quite expensive, but a person wouldn't have to go half way around the world to do this. I know that my aunt and uncle took my cousins on mission trips with their church to Mexico starting when they were relatively young. Praise God for all of our little future missionaries!
When you come to an important moral decision, will Christ guide your footsteps, or will Oprah whisper in your ear? Will you worry more about your child receiving right guidance through discipline, or self-esteem through constant affirmation? Will you confess sin, or share how your mother ruined your life? Do your kids need a friend or a father? Will you honor godly leaders or will you join a church that makes you feel more at home and less judged?Read the entire (but short) post here.
I don't really watch that much TV so this is the first time I have seen this commercial. I saw it this morning as an advertisement before a video on the Weather Channel website. It seems that there is supposed to be a big tornado outbreak beginning late tonight over the southern plains and I wanted to get the details. Remind me sometime to tell you about my days as both an amateur storm chaser and a certified Skywarn 2000 storm spotter. At any rate, I saw this advertisement and got double pumped. This is awesome. Enjoy!
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Another interesting post from the Said at Southern Blog. It seems that Lifeway has come out with research which finds that the unchurched actually prefer traditional church buildings.
The reason I find this interesting is because so many contemporary churches are trying to find whatever cool, relevant, inovative method they can to make church more interesting in order to reach their unchurched neighbors.
Sometimes new church plants will build a church that is "nonthreatening" and doesn't even look like a church. Again, many church plants choose to meet in homes instead of buildings because they feel that people are turned off by traditional church and would feel more comfortable meeting in a home than in a church.
The problem I see with this trend is that too many churches are putting their hope in style, environment, and relativeness instead of the gospel.
The Holy Spirit is what draws unbelievers to the Father and the only method He uses as described in Scripture is the preaching of the gospel. Personally, I don't care where a church meets, or what the building looks like if a given church is preaching the gospel faithfully, and according to Scripture.
Unfortunately, it seems that in large part the "cooler," and more relevant a church tries to be, the less it trusts fully in the preaching of the gospel to convert unbelievers.
I am exceedingly thankful that my church, Third Avenue Baptist Church, trusts that the Holy Spirit is who enlightens unbelievers through the preaching of the gospel and therefore, the gospel and faithful, Biblical, preaching are what characterizes us.
On the other hand, the church I am a member of isn't perfect, and if we want to reach our neighborhood, we are going to have to be more faithful to actually be a presence in the community in order to preach the gospel that we are so faithfully trusting in. What good is a lamp that is under a basket? Fortunately, I believe that by the grace of God, we are moving in the right direction.
Friday, April 4, 2008
OK, so I dropped the ball on last week's video. I didn't post it early enough in the day and when I did post it, I had to scramble to find one suitable. A few people questioned my love of taser videos and people hurting themselves videos so I tried to find a lighthearted compromise. That's fine and all but the best and funniest videos just happen to be the ones where people do stupid things and hurt themselves. So, today I am going to try to make everyone happy.
For those of you who don't like to see people get hurt, watch this:
For those of you who don't mind a little trauma, check out this reporter getting owned by a sled.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Here is an interesting post on hermeneutics. If you are not a theologian, or don't know what that word means, don't let it scare you.
The author of the post argues that asking the question, "What does this mean to you" is not the best way to determine what a verse or passage in the Bible means.
On the other hand, when trying to determine the meaning of a text, we should try to figure out what the original author's purpose was in writing what he did. This way, we can determine THE meaning of the text, God's meaning.
This is not how many of us read the Bible. Churches for the most part, don't teach members that there is a correct way to read the Scripture and an incorrect way. I don't claim to understand the correct way fully, but I sure do want to.
The reason I think this is so important is because I feel that God has called me to be involved in church planting. There is hardly a more critical area of church planting than discipleship and leadership training, in which learning how to read the Bible is central.
One of the most common methods of "doing church" internationally as espoused by many missionaries is participative Bible study. In this method, the participants read a passage of Scripture and try to find the meaning by discussing it and applying it to their lives. One of the problems with this method is that people come to believe that it does not matter what the author's original intent is. The most important thing is what my intent is, and what the passage means to me. The result is that any passage of Scripture can mean any thing to any person. This is how many missionaries are teaching new believers how to study the Scripture. This is how I taught people to read the Bible. In my opinion, this is a flawed method.
Now we get to the nitty gritty. I understand that this is a flawed method, but the question I have is, how do I teach new Christians the right way? For millions of new believers world wide, there is NO access to the internet, commentaries, hermeneutic text books, teachers, seminaries, consistent Biblical preaching, or anything else that my friends in seminary or my church take for granted. In many instances, there is a missionary, a new believer, and a Bible. How can I teach hermeneutics using these three things?
That's what I am here to find out. Thankfully, the Lord has not left us with only these three things. He has also given us a teacher, the author of the Bible, namely the Holy Spirit. Without Him, the task would be impossible, but with God, all things are possible. Oh yeah, don't forget to read the whole post that got me thinking about this stuff again. What do y'all think about all this?
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Oprah and Jesus on the Importance of Belief (Read This!)
How many millions of Christians are being deceived every single day? After touring the blog world today, I must admit that I am a little discouraged.
Often I am too blind to the ways my mind can be deceived by seemingly harmless things like New Age teaching on a TV program. As a Christian, I am supposed to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Why do I allow the world to influence me so much more than Scripture? And I'm in Seminary!
My heart breaks for the millions of Christians out there who NEVER read the Bible and NEVER consider how their heart might be influenced away from Jesus by worldliness.
In fact, if a person claims to be a Christian but has no taste for God's Word, and doesn't feel that it is important to read the Bible, this might be a sign that their belief is more along the lines of Oprah, and not orthodox Christianity. Thoughts?
By the way, you can stop the video at the six minute mark. After that, God Tube gets goofy. God Tube, really? That is a different post.
Here is an Op-Ed piece by Michael Gerson on Obama's Abortion Extremism.
But Obama's record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on
partial-birth abortion -- a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called "too close to infanticide." Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" because of a crisis pregnancy -- hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.
I found this link at The Henry Institute. I have no reservation in calling someone who opposed a bill that prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion a sicko. Really, there are many other words that can be used to describe a person like this, but I stopped using that kind of language a long time ago.
At any rate, it breaks my heart that people are fainting at Obama speeches and falling in love with someone whose views are so extreme and inhumane. Obama's personal character and worldview are reflected in his voting record on abortion. As far as I am concerned, there is not much else to say. Oh wait, I forgot one thing, God bless America.
Here is a book review of Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz. I have never read the book but many of you have. I would be interested in reading some comments about what you think of the book. Supposedly, it is being turned into a movie. Any thoughts on this? This is where the interaction of blogging is supposed to take place. From what I have read/heard about the book, I probably wouldn't put a lot of stock into Mr. Miller's opinions about Jesus. I am always weary when people try to make Jesus' "coolness" His chief attribute. Is that fair?
(HT: Third Avenue Blog and Brad Thayer)
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I can't believe this! This is something I never thought that I would see. In fact, I would believe that aliens live on Mars before I would have believed this. I think that anyone who has ever spent time in the land of Chiner would agree. Right? Wow, what's next, knives and forks?
Beijing to ban smoking ahead of Olympics
Friday, March 28, 2008
Hey folks, sorry I am so late in getting you the video of the week. My blogging had to take a backseat to other responsibilities this week so I haven't been on the porch as much as usual. Don't fret, I'll be back in full effect next week. Here is the video of the week. It is a feel good story in honor of this wonderful time of year known as March Madness. Even if you don't like basketball, I am sure this story will touch your heart.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Lisa posts on heaven and the glory of God. After reading this, I'm like, "Do I even desire heaven as much as this fleeting world?" If I did, my life would be much different. Thanks for this reminder Lisa. By the way, read more of Lisa's posts at Sure Hope. She has, among other things, insightful and encouraging meditations on suffering.
Thabiti Anyabwile offers two posts on deacons in the local church. In the first post, he offers 6 practical questions that may be helpful when thinking about potential deacons for the church. In the second post, he considers 5 more questions related to how well deacons are able to keep hold of the faith.
These are crucial things to think about especially in light of how many churches choose deacons. First of all, in many churches, the offices of deacon and elder are intertwined or confused. Secondly, the decision as to who should be a deacon in many churches comes down to a popularity contest. One of the football coaches has to be a deacon. Then, we have to have a member of the school board. And don't forget about "person X". He has been a member for 30 years, we can't leave him out. Oh yeah, and "person Y" has never cheated on his wife, he would probably be good. Don't we need an accountant too?
Sadly, the reason this is the case is that many church members are not themselves informed about the qualifications of deacons. The role of deacons should be more than just passing out bulletins, and passing the offering plate. Deacons are to be servants of the church. They should take care of the nitty gritty work so the elders can focus on the ministry of teaching and prayer. I am thankful for Thabiti's two posts on deacons. As a deacon (of community outreach) myself, I am challenged to take my role of service seriously, and to consider how I should live my life as disciple of Christ and a servant of his church.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
"The employee had stated to her, 'Imagine if you saw a snake or a spider, how would you respond?' And that employee said she understood that. And I said, 'That's unbelievable. I am a human being,'' Wade said."
Wow, I guess the clerk has never seen Little People, Big World! If the clerk would have seen my first blog post ever, he would have been acclimated. This really is a sad story and I feel bad for the little person. Nevertheless, I wish I could have been there.
I am going to be following this conversation about art and worship. I find this fascinating to think about. Well, maybe fascinating is too strong of a word. As I try to think through local church matters, this is something that is going to be coming up more and more so while I may not find the subject as fascinating as some, I still think it is important to consider. After you read Greg's post, be sure to follow the conversation in the comment section. Furthermore, let me know what you think about all of this (Rich Clark!)
By the way, if you are interested in issues pertaining to the local church, Church Matters is a blog you need to add to your favorites or Google Reader page.
Owen writes a lengthy, well thought out post on MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). It is important for me to think about why my heart seems to be drawn to the violence that plays out in MMA. Is it because I am a man and men are naturally given to enjoy God given aggression and power? Or, is my heart so full of sin that I enjoy witnessing pain and suffering, violence, and blood? As I think about these things, I find Owen's post a helpful tool to guide my thoughts God ward.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
In my own mind, I can identify at least two such convictions that shape and direct my theology and worldview. The first is that the Bible is God’s authoritative and infallible word to us, and the second is that God is absolutely sovereign over all of creation.
Without the first, I would not be a Christian. Without the second, I would not be happy.
Sometimes, amidst the busyness of life and the concerns of the world, it is helpful to stop and meditate on the God who ordains all things. Thank you for helping me to do that today Josh!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Read Dr. Moore's commentary on Rev. Wright and Liberation Theology. In this commentary, Dr. Moore examines the issue and offers helpful insight into what Liberation Theology is. Furthermore, some of the people he says preach liberation theology might surprise you.
The Henry Institute: Commentary:
"There is a liberation theology of the Left, of the kind of politicized movement we see right now in the newspapers and on our television screens. There is also a liberation theology of the Right, one represented by prosperity gospels and grinning consumer Christianity. Both are at heart Mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barrabas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah."
Saturday, March 22, 2008
"Confusing God and Government"
Thabiti Anyabwile, who blogs at Pure Church, posts a link to the whole Jeremiah Wright "God Damn America" sermon. He lists some very helpful questions to think about when listening to the sermon. In fact, his questions are most helpful when listening to any sermon.
1. What passage of Scripture is the preacher considering?2. What are the major points of the sermon?3. Do the major points/content of the sermon grow out of the text itself? Are the preacher's points the same points made by the text?4. Does the preacher adequately situate the text and the sermon in the context of the chapter, book, and Bible?5. How does the preacher illustrate his points? Are the illustrations helpful?6. What are the preacher's main applications? Are the applications clearly related to the main point of the passage? How would you evaluate the usefulness of the applications?7. Does the preacher make the gospel clear and urge his hearers to respond to the gospel?8. What improvements might you recommend?
Thabiti has been VERY fair in his thoughts on Rev. Wright and I have found his posts on the subject helpful as I think through all the hoopla. Check out his blog and be sure to have a spirit of humility when thinking and talking about Rev. Wright and Barack Obama.
Note: To all of my friends at Southern and in L'ville who wonder why I link to blogs that most of you read all the time, not everyone who reads Porchin' It is from here and many of my friends have never heard of these blogs. Gracias.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Sometimes I hear that term, live blogging. Usually it is associated with conferences and things like that. Today, I want to live blog from the Old Louisville Coffee Shop. I guess in doing this, I am confirming to the world (and my wife) that I am not studying like I should be. Anyway, this student driver from the Kentucky School of Driving just pulled up and tried to parallel park. She hit the car in front of her and knocked the bumper off into the street.
Clearly embarrassed, the driving instructor came into the coffee shop asking for the owner of the green Chevy Blazer. Since the driver couldn't be found, he had to call the police and now an officer is outside filling out a report. The student driver has her head in her hands and is obviously mortified. I wonder if she is worried about failing this part of her driving test. I wish I could go talk to her and let her know that sometimes these things have to happen for the sake of having a good story to tell people.
I am reminded of an embarrassing incident I had on my last day of drivers education. My instructor was my high school's athletic directer and the father of my good friend Jake. On the first day of drivers ed, I asked Coach Adair if I could peel out. I said, "Let's see what this Crown Victoria can do!" Of course, he said no and we went on our way. On the whole, my drivers ed experience was awesome. Almost every Saturday morning, we drove to different towns to get breakfast at McDoanlds (Muleshoe did not have a McDonalds yet). I guess Coach liked hash browns.
I asked Coach Adair every time we met if I could peel out. Finally, he got so annoyed that he said, "OK, if you don't ask again, on the last day, we will go to the civic center parking lot (lots of loose gravel) and you can peel out." Glory!
The last day came and I made sure that he remembered. After we dropped the other students off, we drove to the Civic Center. The moment had arrived. He asked if I was ready, and I asked if HE was ready. He told me to go for it and boy did I. I hit the gas and the tires started spinning. It was awesome! It was awesome until the full cup of coffee he had sitting on the dash board flew off and landed in his lap, staining his white shirt and his bike brand coaching shorts. We both started screaming, kind of like when Gale and Evelle realized they left Nathan Jr. behind in the movie Raising Arizona. Not one of my finer moments.
In case you are wondering, I ended up passing driver's education with flying colors (and coffee) and went on to have many driving adventures in "The Stallion," an '86 Buick Century that was my first ride. I just hope the girl outside talking to the police officer and looking at a bumper on the street passes drivers ed. Sacrifice for the sake of the story young lady, sacrifice for the story.
Since Monday was St. Patrick's Day, my video this week is about a Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama. Most of you have probably already seen this, but it is worth a second viewing, or if you are like me, a hundredth.
Don't forget the remix!
Full Disclosure: This is NOT my favorite video because I am making fun of the fine citizens of Mobile and their award winning news programing. I guarantee that if I was in Mobile and heard about this story, I would have also been standing right in the middle of that crowed looking for that Leprechaun!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Rich Clark, the co-founder of Christ and Pop Culture started blogging when blogging wasn't cool. It seems that every time we get together, we end up talking about movies, TV, music, and all things pop culture. I am encouraged by Rich in these areas because he is a thinking Christian and challenges me to be the same. We may not always agree on film (He hates Nacho Libre!), but I have found that discussing pop culture with someone who is thoughtful and insightful can be a lot of fun. At any rate, check out Rich's article on The Dangers of Television.
It's easy to see how the thing most needed — the gospel of the Lord Jesus
Christ — is neglected, and in neglecting the gospel other important but
secondary needs also go unmet, or are temporarily met in the most superficial
and impermanent ways. If you lose the gospel, you lose everything. But if you
have the gospel, even if everything else seems to be going to hell in a hand
basket, you still gain everything. As Jesus says, "What does it profit a man to
gain the whole world and lose his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for
his soul?" I fear that many have sanded off the sharp points of the Lord's
questions by assuming that gaining the world in an economic or political sense
is the same as keeping your soul. And it's that basic confusion that ends up
making the church irrelevant spiritually and temporally.
Associating with Apostasy: Obama's Troubling Relationship with Black Theology
(HT: Tim Challies)
Again, click on the above link to read everything I would like to say but don't have the skills to. I really enjoyed Obama's speech on Tuesday. I found his message to be inspiring and challenging. The worst parts parts of his speech were the parts where he started mentioning faith and Scripture. I just had an uneasy feeling listening to him talk about the "Christians in the lions den" and how that and similar stories are about hope and freedom.
When Obama talks about his faith, it seems that he is talking about something different than what Scripture teaches. He has been influenced for over 20 years by black liberation theology which is not the gospel. I don't think that a person has to be a Christian to be President of the United States, but often times bad theology is worse than no theology. I am interested to see how Obama's embrace of black liberation theology affects his popularity. One does not have to be a Christian to look at Trinity United Church of Christ's 10-point Vision and know that something is wrong.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Today is the five year anniversary of the current war in Iraq. To date, almost 4,000 soldiers have lost their lives fighting in the war on terrorism in Iraq. Regardless of one's personal view on the validity of the war, one thing we can all agree on is that we should support and honor the troops who are putting their lives on the line to keep our country safe.
Today, I would like to publicly honor one such soldier. His name is Russell Byers, and he is my younger brother. Russell spent a year and 3 months fighting in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. He had been married for 6 months when he shipped out and he was only able to see his wife for a couple of weeks during his deployment when he was on leave.
Russell had to make crucial life and death decisions each day. He survived on very little sleep and faced hardships that I can not imagine. During most of his time there, he had a critically important job and many soldiers lives depended on the decisions he made. I can not imagine the pressure that he was under.
Nevertheless, the Lord protected him and he arrived home safely last October. February 29th was his last day in the Army and now he is reunited with his wife living in Ft. Worth, Texas. I am really proud of Russ and his accomplishments in the the Army. Russell was awarded with the Army Commendation Medal for his superior service in Iraq. He was mentioned by Congressman Randy Neugebauer in the Congressional Record and I would like to share some of what was said with you.
I realize that I included quite a bit of text but I feel that it is especially important to honor our servicemen who risk their lives to protect our country. Russ, I may be older, AND TALLER!!!, but you are the one who deserves to be looked up to. Thank you for your service Russ, I love you.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
One of the things I am going to try to do here at Porchin' It is share some of my favorite videos with you. Maybe I will call this feature "Fun Friday" or something. Although, as you will see in future videos, sometimes it is only fun for the person watching (grape stomp lady...coming soon). Man, with grape stomp lady it isn't really even fun for me, but it just has to be seen.
Alright, alright, since today is the inaugural "Fun Friday" I am going to give you two videos. The first one is Chewbacca Man (I love taser videos) and since I have already mentioned it, I'll throw in grape stomp lady for free. Actually, as I think about grape stomp lady, I might need to change the title of this feature to Friday's Porchin' It Video of the Week. When you see grape stomp lady, you will know why. Nothing fun there. Be sure and keep the sound up on all videos that I post. Without further adieu, I give you Chewbacca Man.
Lady Host: "Oh no, oh dear"
Man Host: "Oh boy, I think she's actually hurt there."
Lady Host: "No, I think she is."
Man Host: "Yeah, she's hurt"
Lady Host: "Youch"
Man Host: "She took a hard fall off there, boy"
Lady Host: "Ok"
Man Host: "Boy"
Man Host: "Gosh, I hope she's OK."
Lady Host: "OK"
Lady Host: "We're gonna make sure she is."
Man Host: "We'll try to check on her and get back to you as soon as we can."
Lady Host: "We'll be back right after this."
Lady Host: "Gee"
And, because I love you...Grape Lady's Son (The actual title of this video).
Another article on Rev. Wright Jr., Obama's pastor. The more I read about this guy, the more disgusted I am and weary of anyone who would be advised by this person regarding spiritual matters.
Here is an abc news story about Obama's church and his now retired pastor. The reason I am bringing this up again is because there might be a few people who read this blog who are uninformed about Obama's views. While Obama may disagree with his pastor on some of his most radical views, he still considers Rev. Wright a key spiritual advisor.
If bad company corrupts good character, Obama might want to head somewhere else to be spiritually advised. I wonder if the people fainting at Obama's rallies like little girls at a Jonas Brothers concert know that he is being advised by someone who gave Louis Farrakhan a lifetime achievement award and who damns America?
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Watch this video of Obama's pastor that comes from this story about his "endorsement" of Obama from the pulpit. You can also visit the website of the church that Obama has been a member of for I believe over 20 years. The first time I saw the website, I was somewhat disturbed. There are more references to Africa and blackness than the gospel. In the video link above, Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. describes Jesus as a poor black man. Really? This guy is Obama's spiritual mentor?
On a different note, regarding Africa's influence on the church, I was encouraged in my Church History class to learn that many of the most influential church fathers were African. I wonder what the KKK thinks about that.
I think that it is awesome that God has raised up men from many nations and cultures to teach and guide the church. That is the beauty of God. From the beginning, God had a plan to draw people from all languages, tribes, nations, and peoples to worship him forever. Maybe Rev. Jeremiah should follow the example of the many African church fathers who came before him and preach Christocentric sermons, not Afrocentric ones. Maybe all of us should strive to see the church become more Christocentric and not bent towards favoritism of one people over another.
Brad Thayer, an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church, interviews Aaron Menikoff, another elder at Third about his Ph.D work and how that relates to his future goal of pastoral ministry. These are two godly men and this conversation is especially relevant to men considering Ph.D studies, but also for anyone called to the pastorate.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Josh Vincent, who blogs at Visions from the Vincents, has a great post on youth ministry. Josh has thought out the relationship between youth ministry and the local church and shares some of those thoughts on his blog. Among the excellent points, are 8 things youth ministry (YM) and youth pastors (YP) should avoid.
1. The YM is not a para-church organization working alongside or with the local church.
2. The YM is not separate from the congregation like a second church that shares a building. Although as many youth as will come are welcome, a youth cannot be a members of the YM without being a member of the church.
3. The YM should not practice ordinances apart from the rest of the Church.
4. The YM should not ordinarily grow in a manner disproportionate to the church congregation. This is not to say that you want to stunt spiritual or numerical growth, but it is to say that this shouldn't be the goal of youth ministry.
5. The YM should not be an environment all together different from the church collectively. The YM shouldn't see itself as a place where they can do all the things the older, boring adults will not allow them to do such as play the music they prefer. Though they may play different music and sing different songs, it shouldn't be viewed as though relevance is equivalent to value before God.
6. The YM should not meet separately from the church during regularly scheduled meetings (i.e. Sunday morning, Sunday night, etc.)
7. The YP is not a substitute for the Pastor(s) of the church; he is a fully acknowledged pastor (this is an ideal or goal but perhaps not always possible).
8. The YP is not ordinarily a substitute for the spiritual role of the parents of the youth. Some spiritual orphans do need this though."
I suggest you read the whole post, which can be done here.
Josh has a great passion for seeing God glorified in the local church so read his blog often.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Owen is a friend who blogs at Consumed. He is a gifted writer who offers new insight into a variety of topics almost everyday. I commend his blog to you. He recently blogged on the movie "Once." Laurel and I really liked this movie and Owen said everything I would like to say about it, only much better. Therefore, I think you should read this post.
Friday, March 7, 2008
I read this story about a Chinese man who who was buried in a construction accident. He claims that Buddhist meditation saved his life. The doctors who examined him said that it was a miracle that he lived through the ordeal.
This brings up up an interesting issue related to evangelism. One of the most common methods of personal evangelism is sharing one's testimony. It is often thought that a person's testimony is something powerful that cannot be refuted because it is impossible to argue against someone's experience; something real that has happened to him or her. People love to tell how God changed their life and as they share, their hope is that the listener will also want his life to be changed and come to understand that it is only God who can do it. When I was church planting in Asia, we were taught that the first thing we needed to teach a new believer was how to share their testimony.
I do believe that sharing my testimony can be a powerful tool in evangelism. God has done an amazing work in my life and my conversion was a powerful, life changing experience. Nevertheless, my testimony is not authoritative. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu's, Atheists, and people from all other religions also have testimonies about how their lives have been changed by their belief.
Once, I was sharing the gospel with my tutor in Asia and she told me about how Buddha healed her grandmother of a sickness. Again, just last month I was talking to another Buddhist who shared his testimony with me about how Buddhism made him a better person. Some of the apologetics and evangelism methods we use won't have much effect when the person we are speaking to can claim the same things for their religion.
What is unique to Christianity is the gospel. No other religion has a holy and just God who is also loving and personal. No other religion has a Savior who is both God and man wholly at the same time. No other religion has a crucified Lord who was resurrected from the dead. No other religion has a God who himself atones for the sins of his people.
Other religions do have conversions, martyrs, miracles, paths to paradise and ideas of morality. But no other religion has a triune God who died for sinners. The gospel is unique to Christianity and when we are sharing our faith, we should make the gospel central, not experience.
The gospel is true whether I believe it or not. The gospel is true whether I have experienced it or not. When we are sharing our testimony, we MUST make the gospel the priority and use our experience as a means to direct the conversation in that direction. The Chinese man in the news story claims that in some way Buddhism helped save his earthly life. What he really needs to know is how Jesus can give him ETERNAL life!