Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's Wednesday, let's talk about the end of the world.

One of my alma maters, Biola University, hosts the annual "G. Campbell Morgan Lectures on Theology" that gives a great overview of theology to their honors program freshmen and sophomores.  They have put this year's lectures online, and one of them (in two parts) is by my good friend, Mark Saucy, on Eschatology.  Give yourself 50 minutes to learn something about the end times--maybe as a preparation for Revelation this fall.

If you want to see the whole lecture series, go here.

Part one

And part two

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

New Links and Fresh News...

Oklahoma Tragedy
By now you are aware of the devastation experienced in Moore, Oklahoma yesterday as a massive tornado swept through the city, leveling two elementary schools, hundreds of homes and buildings, and left 24 dead (as of noon Tuesday) and 233 injured.  Pray for those affected.  If you desire to give or volunteer to help, you can contact Samaritan's Purse to do both.

Social Media Lesson:
This post  by Jen Wilkins at The Gospel Coalition was a great reminder to me about the need for filters in what we post in social media--in this case about our loved ones.  Here was a quote worth reading:
In school my children were taught a memory tool to help them make wise choices when speaking, writing, or posting:  T-H-I-N-K: Is what I have to say True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, or Kind?
I wonder how many of our posts fits that paradigm?

News from the Chambers...
I don't know anyone who sends better prayer letters from afar than Rachel Chambers.  Having joined Jim and Rachel in Zambia makes these regular emails even more powerful for us, but the following paragraph is a gut punch to any of us, whether we have been there or not.  In the midst of a full update, Rachel writes...
We were made aware of an orphanage work here in Kamunza—about a kilometer from the church – whose sponsors abandoned the work.  The nationals are staggering to simply feed and shelter the sixty-four children.  Our Biblical duty and our God-designed religion is to help –but how much, and in what ways?  We are currently befriending the orphans, bring some to church, assisting where we can with food and clothing, and working with the Zambian administrator to move them towards self-sustaining status.  We really  need wisdom.  There are serious financial burdens that they are bearing: a staff of eighteen who have not been paid for three months, daily care and upkeep of the home and children, and an unfinished house.  One business man and his wife are helping to raise funds from the community, but they want our involvement for guidance and accountability.  We’d never step in unless invited by the Zambian administrator, but he HAS asked.  So... praise God we can help, but pray for wisdom from above.  We need it, and the orphans need it. 
Wow.  Would you pray for this need--not just for the funds, but for the wisdom?

Rejoicing with the Kleis family
We heard from Jonathan and Noella about an amazing answer to prayer that puts them VERY CLOSE to their need and goal of moving to their new target area in Caselle, Italy.  They found a BIGGER house than they hoped at a LOWER cost than they imagined.  Only a few thousand dollars are still needed.  Prayf for them.  And if you don't know them well, you can visit their blog to get introduced to their family!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Some Links Worth Checking Out

Friends keep me reading, and these links have been very thought-provoking:

"The Socially Acceptable Sin."  The sin that Christians ignore that threatens our life and our health.  From Relevant Magazine.  And my reading articles in Relevant does not necessarily make me relevant.

"Grace to Those Coming out of the Closet." A post by Wade Burleson that helped me crystallize some of my thinking for my most recent message.

"Do You Want To Be A Burden To Your Children?"  Russell Moore answers that, in a sense, the answer should be "Yes!"  Read to discover more.

Here is a docudrama on the life of the great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon.  You really ought to know more about this man.  Now you can watch a video and learn!

And for a lighter moment (or five)

Follow up on Sunday's Introduction

As we wrapped up Sunday's message, I introduced our attempt to follow up on our "No Easy Answers" series by dealing with the question, "Now what?"  If we know these truths, and realize that the Bible addresses all kinds of brokenness and falsehood with the grace and truth of the gospel, then what do we do?  Our solution is to move as a Body toward strategic engagement with others (hence the name).  So that you will see just how biblical this idea is, the next two weeks will focus on historic texts of Scripture related to this idea.  This coming Sunday, Pastor Mike will tackle the most common objection or excuse used--"I really don't have anyone in my realm of influence to worry about."  We are going to look at the parable of the Good Samaritan to seek a right perspective here.  Oh, and by the way, in that story as Jesus tells it, you are NOT the Good Samaritan.

Then, the next week we will look at John 10, where Jesus speaks of being the Good Shepherd, and tells his little flock of Jewish disciples that he has other sheep to gather from outside their fold.  Who are they?  Why are they important?  How are they sought?  We will look at these questions together.

Finally, we will put it all together and outline our six step initiative, including how to join us in committing to it, how to follow through, and how we hope to help.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dangers Where The Gospel Needs to Go

The chart below from The Economist shows responses of Muslims in various countries to questions related to law, religious liberty, and reactions to those who leave Islam.  Note the support for sharia law and the death penalty for those who "apostasize."  Clearly Islamic regions are not believers in pluralism!

Most of these countries are in the "highest need" category for the Gospel, but that means that they also present the highest cost for both the prospective proclaimers and believers.  Does this mean we do not go?

No, it does not.  It means, rather, that we must pray and ask God to make his Gospel powerful, even if it means some of us or our children lay down our lives.  The writer of Hebrews (in chapter 12) reminds his readers that they had not yet resisted evil for the Gospel to the point of shedding blood--although he seems to be indicating that this was a real possibility.  It is in this day as well.