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Friday, June 30, 2006

vacation reading

no blogging for a few days. no computer, just a couple books. A bible and Forever Free : The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction by Eric Foner and Joshua Brown. I've started a couple Christian books and couldn't wait to put them down. i couldn't get past some unexpectedly terrible exegesis early on in Eugene Petersen's Christ Plays in 10,000 Places. i was bored with Ray Pritchard's In the Shadow of the Cross. i am trying to overcome the guilt of not finishing those 2 books. Now I'm back to American history. I also got from the libraryDavid Brinkley's The Great Deluge about New Orleans and hurricane Katrina and The Good Americans: The Loyalists in the American Revolution by Wallace Brown.

Persecution of Christians on the Rise

ASSIST News Service
The number of persecuted Christians is on the rise worldwide, according to Professor Thomas Schirrmacher, director of the Religious Liberty Commission of the German Evangelical Alliance.

Three in four cases of severe persecution are targeted at Christians, said Schirrmacher in a lecture at a gathering of the Protestant Association of the Christian Democratic Union in Dresden.

According to Schirrmacher at least 55,000 Christians are killed each year for religious reasons. Christians in India, Indonesia and Pakistan run the highest risk of losing their lives.

Schirrmacher encouraged politicians to increase their efforts for religious freedom. They were often reluctant to address the persecution and discrimination of Christians in Islamic countries in case this may jeopardize religious dialog.

Schirrmacher is convinced that interest in religion is rising worldwide: “The Communist atheistic realm has shrunk to small countries like North Korea”. Christianity is experiencing phenomenal growth outside the Western world.

Many Chinese intellectuals, for instance, regard the Christian faith as “trendy”, said Schirrmacher. The number of worshippers in China exceeds the Sunday service attendance in Europe. Since 1970 the number of Christians has tripled in Africa and Asia and doubled in Latin America.

Because of the decreasing numbers in Europe these developments are not very noticeable on a world scale. Christianity grows annually by 1.25 percent, roughly in line with the population growth of 1.22 percent.

Hopegivers Schools Reopen in India

ASSIST News Service
Emmanuel Mission's schools, bank accounts and offices reopened on Wednesday, June 28, in Kota, Rajasthan, India, after being closed for more than four months.

According to a news release issued jointly by Mission Network News and Hopegivers International, the operating licenses for all of their institutions in Rajasthan have been temporarily restored, pending a judicial hearing on July 4 at the High Court in the state capital of Jaipur.
"We urge all Americans to join the churches of India in prayer on July 4, asking that the licenses will be permanently restored," said Michael Glenn, Hopegivers International executive director.
An appeals court judge on the Jaipur High Court Monday (June 26, asked the Rajasthan State Government to appear in court next Tuesday (July 4) and show just cause for canceling the licenses of EMI/Hopegivers International institutions in Jaipur.
Hopegivers had its bank accounts frozen and licenses to operate their humanitarian outreaches revoked in February, but most of the institutions remained open throughout despite the official bans.
"The restrictions took a toll on our 66 schools and 16 Hope Homes throughout Rajasthan, but this ruling has come in time for the new school session," said Glenn.
The news release went on to say, “School opens Saturday (July 1) with hundreds fewer students because of a highly publicized propaganda campaign aimed at deterring parents from sending their children to Christian schools operated by Emmanuel/Hopegivers.
“Local government officials from the Department of Social Welfare last week falsely announced a ‘takeover’ of the Kota orphanage, which houses 2,500 homeless children.
“The judge's ruling confirmed the Indian Christian community's widespread view that the attempted takeover, as well as the license revoking, was illegal and without merit.”
Michael Glenn added, "This means that our bank accounts started to operate today. We praise God for this breakthrough. We have been anxiously awaiting some relief. Now we can finally send money openly to all our Hope Homes that are in desperate need."

Pastor Jon's blog: Combat

Pastor Jon writes good stuff

The call to stand against the devil.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in
the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you
may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Paul’s exhortation to be
strong in the Lord and in the power of His might is rightly prefaced by
“Finally.” We can only walk in the glory of Ephesians 1 through 3 and live
in the integrity of Ephesians 4 through 6 by doing it all in the God’s
strength.
Literally, Paul says strengthen yourselves in the Lord. He
probably takes the idea from 1 Samuel 30:6, where it is said that David
strengthened himself in the Lord his God. We will find strength, as David did,
in the Bible and prayer. This is the source of our strength in the Lord.
That
you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil: We express the strength
we have in God by standing against the wiles of the devil. Satan’s schemes
against us come to nothing when we stand against them in the power of God. We
must live in light of the fact that just as much as “God loves you and has a
wonderful plan for your life,” so it is true that “Satan hates you and has a
terrible plan for your life.” We have a spiritual enemy who wishes us
nothing but evil.
The armor of God will be explained for fully as we
continue; but notice the emphasis on the whole armor of God. God gives the
believer a full set of equipment, and He sends us out into battle with
everything we need at our disposal. However, none of the whole armor of God
provides protection for our back. God expects us to face our foe!
This armor
is of God both is the sense that it is from Him, and in the sense that it is His
actual armor. In the Old Testament, it is the Lord who wears the armor
(Isaiah 59:17). He now shares that armor with us - no wonder we are more
than conquerors! (Romans 8:37)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

the American Loyalists in the Revolutionary War

collecting some research into this topic.

The United Empire Loyalists
US Anabaptists in the Rev War
the BBC, was the war inevitable?
from the UEL website...
Over two hundred years ago the American Revolution shattered the British
Empire in North America. The conflict was rooted in British attempts to assert
economic control in her American colonies after her costly victory over the
French during the Seven Years War. When protest and riots met the British
attempts to impose taxes on the colonists, the British responded with political
and military force. Out of the struggle between between the Thirteen Colonies
and their mother country emerged two nations: the United States and what
would later become Canada.
Not all the inhabitants of the Thirteen Colonies opposed Britain. The United
Empire Loyalists were those colonists who remained faithful to the Crown and
wished to continue living in the New World. Therefore, they left their homes to
settle eventually in what remained of British North America.
A Short History of the United Empire Loyalists
By
Ann Mackenzie M.A.

Who Should Run the Church?

Daneil Wallace from bible.org argues, A Case for the Plurality of Elders...
his introductory points follow, you'll have to click the link to read the developed argument...

(1) Presbyters (also translated "elders") and bishops (also translated "overseers") were apparently the same individuals. That is to say, the two terms were synonymous.

(2) The leadership of the church from the earliest period always had elders, even if it did not have deacons. Young churches only had elders; more mature churches had both elders and deacons.

(3) Elder and pastor are not the same thing in the NT.

(4) For elders, the one qualification that is other than moral is the ability to teach.

(5) The consistent pattern in the NT is that every church had several elders.

Fight the good fight of the faith

a commenter on an earlier post regarding Indian Christians rioting in opposition to the showing of the Da Vinci Code writes,

Are you waging a type of war??
India is a secular country.
I am not taking any sides but I condemn all fanatical christians who are waging this "War" [shows arrogance and superiority of one religion's philosophy] . I also condemn some isolated fanatical Hindus who may have involved in some kind of violence.


i had many thoughts on this on my bike ride in this morning...

the easy things first...a secular country would have no interest or business in legislating against religious conversion. a secular government wouldn't have police who stand aside and watch fellow Hindus beat Christians to near death. it only takes a few to do the violence while many to agree with and tacitly, if not actively, support the violence. if you read this blog regularly you'll see frequent posts to violence agasint christians in India from several news sources.

the hard thing...military metaphors that Christians use. they come from our scriptures. the big clarification is that the war is always portrayed as spiritual.

Romans 7:23 But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.

2 Corinthians 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Ephesians 6:12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

1 Timothy 1:18 Timothy, my child, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life, to which you were called and have made a good confession before many witnesses.

2 Timothy 2:4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

This sampling hopefully provides clarification regarding what the church's founders mean when they use military metaphors. We struggle against our own sin. We struggle against the oppression of others. We struggle for justice and righteousness. We do it by exposing lies, proclaiming truth, offering our own lives on behalf of others, through prayer, etc. the crusades of Rome were not what was pictured by Jesus.

are we Christians arrogant in seeking to change people's minds? by that reasoning, no one should advertise anything or any product that has imporved their lives. but this is also a fundamental difference between Hinduism and Christianity. the Hindu mindset that accomodates multiple gods always has room for more, but the Christians monotheistic mind set can't. the God who reveals himself in the Bible has some tough things to say to the pantheist...

Isaiah 46: 5 “ To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal
And compare Me, that we should be alike?
6 They lavish gold out of the bag,
And weigh silver on the scales;
They hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god;
They prostrate themselves, yes, they worship.
7 They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it
And set it in its place, and it stands;
From its place it shall not move.
Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer
Nor save him out of his trouble.

and Isaiah 44: 6"This is what the LORD, Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty, says: I am the First and the Last; there is no other God. 7Who else can tell you what is going to happen in the days ahead? Let them tell you if they can and thus prove their power. Let them do as I have done since ancient times. 8Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Have I not proclaimed from ages past what my purposes are for you? You are my witnesses--is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock--not one!"
9How foolish are those who manufacture idols to be their gods. These highly valued objects are really worthless. They themselves are witnesses that this is so, for their idols neither see nor know. No wonder those who worship them are put to shame. 10Who but a fool would make his own god--an idol that cannot help him one bit! 11All who worship idols will stand before the LORD in shame, along with all these craftsmen--mere humans--who claim they can make a god. Together they will stand in terror and shame.

12The blacksmith stands at his forge to make a sharp tool, pounding and shaping it with all his might. His work makes him hungry and thirsty, weak and faint. 13Then the wood-carver measures and marks out a block of wood, takes the tool, and carves the figure of a man. Now he has a wonderful idol that cannot even move from where it is placed! 14He cuts down cedars; he selects the cypress and the oak; he plants the cedar in the forest to be nourished by the rain. 15And after his care, he uses part of the wood to make a fire to warm himself and bake his bread. Then--yes, it's true--he takes the rest of it and makes himself a god for people to worship! He makes an idol and bows down and praises it! 16He burns part of the tree to roast his meat and to keep himself warm. 17Then he takes what's left and makes his god: a carved idol! He falls down in front of it, worshiping and praying to it. "Rescue me!" he says. "You are my god!"

18Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. 19The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, "Why, it's just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a chunk of wood?" 20The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He is trusting something that can give him no help at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, "Is this thing, this idol that I'm holding in my hand, a lie?"

its our God who proclaims himself God alone. call him arrogant and superior and you'll be half right.

video church

interesting discussion at "Out of Ur" regarding Megachurch 2.0, the video venue. don't stop at the article but read the comments. my slippery slope fear is why not just meet with a couple friends at home in front of your TV and watch a webcast or a televangelist and call THAT church? i'm not sure that is right or wrong, but is there really such a famine of the gifts of the Spirit such as teaching? on the mission field some believers gather around a radio broadcast to listen to someone who knows nothing about them or their needs. some are listening to translators reading the sermon of an American. what if we just sit around and read the sermons of dead preachers? who needs technology? really all you need is 2 or 3 gathered in His name. how bad is atomization? if friends keep splintering off into smaller and smaller flavors of church, could it be another means to the end that God accomplished during the persecution of the Jerusalem church in Acts which dispersed the believers. but without the persecution aspect, will the lack of refining counteract the dispersal? lots of things to think on...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cerulean Sanctum: Dude, where's my church

Dan Edelen is up in arms about the Supreme Court's granting of power to my town to seize an entire blighted neighborhood by eminent domain. He writes
It troubles me that we Christians are failing to consider how easy it is for our church buildings to be seized by local, state, and federal governments for any and all purposes.

There's a difference between conspiracy theories and preparedness. Land grabs against churches are increasing yearly (see this post for a few instances). To ensure the maximum possible tax revenue, towns are also blocking the building of new churches in areas of prime development. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of instances for these kinds of strong-arm tactics.

So why aren't we Christians as a whole doing anything about it? Are our church leaders making plans in case we have to go underground? It hasn't come to that yet, but it's better for us to be thinking now about how we do church in a hostile social environment rather than later.

Rome is burning, folks. So why do our church leaders keep on fiddling?


So i've been writing alot in his comment section and thought i'd put those thoughts here too.

something about where our treasure shouldn't be...
alot of those big beautiful buildings are just that and not where God is in the midst. a most extreme example is the Hagia Sophia in Turkey which went from a beautiful basilica to the glory or God to a beautiful mosque to the glory of allah.
on a small scale a pretty white church with a tall steeple in my home town is now a mosque also.
church is people not buildings.


something about God's provision for his people
i’ve lived in New London for 12 years, where Kelo also resides. btw, she finally settled with the city. part of the area the city took included an hispanic church, Primera Iglesia Bautista Hispana. they don’t have a website…but they took the city’s offer for their property and found a new site in our tiny city and have a beautiful new church building. it wasn’t hostile for them. the congregation would have never had a buyer if the city hadn’t wanted it. this church actually was blessed by the eminent domain proceedings. but if you are at the bottom, and this city is and this part of the city is next to the smelly sewage treatment plant, the only direction you can go is up. God elevated them from their humble estate, which i think is the real lesson. like Jesus, they made themselves of no reputation. so bring it on. the latest bumper stickers around town say, “welcome to New London, your home is ours.”


something about being good citizens
i’m not sure this is a kingdom of God issue. if a church can’t grow into a commercially zoned area, why can’t it be a good citizen and birth a daughter church somewhere and give up aspirations of “mega?” here’s a novel idea, how about churches make payments in lieu of taxes, it’s called PILOT here in New London. we are very tiny, about 12 square miles, and we have 3 colleges, 1 hospital, plenty of state properties and very little industry. so some of these non-taxable non-profits make PILOTs. because no matter how much they help with volunteers, money is still needed for maintenance of the city and provisions for the needy who are attracted to our city. things in connecticut are very territorial, we don’t have county taxes or county governance. each city is on its own and if your a poor city you hit the capitol up for as many bucks as you can. we are surrounded by wealthier cities that are not interested in helping out with low-income housing or social services, so we are a life preserver of services for this community. anyway, maybe churches over a certain size could become taxpayers and help out the community at large. my panentheist neighbor likes that idea. housechurches already do this…


and something about God's sovereignty...
i think a church with a commitment to small groups is prepared to care for itself if the central meeting place was closed. but, if one church closed and all the others stayed open, i’m sure the people would gladly receive the opportunity to church shop and see the other ways God’s people fellowship together.
home groups prepare people for “one another” ministry. if God allowed the state to close all the churches, it wouldn’t be the first time. it worked pretty good when the heat turned up in Jerusalem in Acts. it has worked very well in China. God is still on his throne and takes care of his bride.

Smart Mom Tools

my beautiful blogging wife has a few new posts...
God is good to me

How to overcome the common myths of leadership. by Dr. John C. Maxwell

My post on duties of a pastor generates many, many hits. I thought this by Maxwell is very helpful also. jpu
hat tip: Blanchard Family

Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less. When you become a student of leaders, as I am, you recognize people's level of influence in everyday situations all around you.

FIVE MYTHS ABOUT LEADERSHIP

There are plenty of misconceptions and myths that people embrace about leaders and leadership. Here are five common ones:

1. THE MANAGEMENT MYTH

A widespread misunderstanding is that leading and managing are one and the same. Up until a few years ago, books that claimed to be on leadership were often really about management. The main difference between the two is that leadership is about influencing people to follow, while management focuses on maintaining systems and processes. As former Chrysler chairman and CEO Lee Iacocca wryly commented, "Sometimes even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog, waiting to see where the dog wants to go so that he can take him there."
The best way to test whether a person can lead rather than just manage is to ask him to create positive change. Managers can maintain direction, but they can't change it. To move people in a new direction, you need influence.

2. THE ENTREPRENEUR MYTH

Frequently, people assume that all salespeople and entrepreneurs are leaders. But that's not always the case. You may remember the Ronco commercials that appeared on television years ago. They sold items such as the Veg-O-Matic, Pocket Fisherman, and Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler. Those products were the brainchildren of an entrepreneur named Ron Popeil. Called the salesman of the century, he has also appeared in numerous infomercials for products such as spray-on relief for baldness and food dehydrating devices.
Popeil is certainly enterprising, innovative, and successful, especially if you measure him by the $300 million in sales his products have earned. But that doesn't make him a leader. People may be buying what he has to sell, but they're not following him. At best, he is able to persuade people for a moment, but he holds no long-term influence with them.

3. THE KNOWLEDGE MYTH

Sir Francis Bacon said, "Knowledge is power." Most people, believing power is the essence of leadership, naturally assume that those who possess knowledge and intelligence are leaders. But that isn't automatically true. You can visit any major university and meet brilliant research scientists and philosophers whose ability to think is so high that it's off the charts, but whose ability to lead is so low that it doesn't even register on the charts. IQ doesn't necessarily equate to leadership.

4. THE PIONEER MYTH

Another misconception is that anyone who is out in front of the crowd is a leader. But being first isn't always the same as leading. For example, Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Since his historic ascent in 1953, many people have "followed" him in achieving that feat. But that doesn't make Hillary a leader. He wasn't even the leader on that particular expedition. John Hunt was. And when Hillary traveled to the South Pole in 1958 as part of the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition, he was accompanying another leader, Sir Vivian Fuchs. To be a leader, a person has to not only be out front, but also have people intentionally coming behind him, following his lead, and acting on his vision.

5. THE POSITION MYTH

As mentioned earlier, the greatest misunderstanding about leadership is that people think it is based on position, but it's not. Stanley Huffty affirmed, "It's not the position that makes the leader; it's the leader that makes the position."

WHO'S THE REAL LEADER?

I personally learned the Law of Influence when I accepted my first job out of college at a small church in rural Indiana. I went in with all the right credentials. I was hired as the senior pastor, which meant that I possessed the position and title of leader in that organization. I had the proper college degree. I had even been ordained. In addition, I had been trained by my father who was an excellent pastor and a very high-profile leader in the denomination. It made for a good-looking résumé—but it didn't make me a leader. At my first board meeting, I quickly found out who was the real leader of that church. By the time I took my next position three years later, I had learned the Law of Influence. I recognized that hard work was required to gain influence in any organization and to earn the right to become the leader.

LEADERSHIP WITHOUT LEVERAGE

I admire and respect the leadership of my good friend Bill Hybels, the senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, the largest church in North America. Bill says he believes that the church is the most leadership-intensive enterprise in society. A lot of businesspeople I know are surprised when they hear that statement, but I think Bill is right. What is the basis of his belief? Positional leadership doesn't work in volunteer organizations. Because a leader doesn't have leverage—or influence—he is ineffective. In other organizations, the person who has position has incredible leverage. In the military, leaders can use rank and, if all else fails, throw people into the brig. In business, bosses have tremendous leverage in the form of salary, benefits, and perks. Most followers are pretty cooperative when their livelihood is at stake.

But in voluntary organizations, such as churches, the only thing that works is leadership in its purest form. Leaders have only their influence to aid them. And as Harry A. Overstreet observed, "The very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate." Followers in voluntary organizations cannot be forced to get on board. If the leader has no influence with them, then they won't follow. When I recently shared that observation with a group of about 150 CEOs from the automobile industry, I saw lightbulbs going on all over the room. And when I gave them a piece of advice, they really got excited. I'm going to share that same advice with you: If you are a businessperson and you really want to find out whether your people are capable of leading, send them out to volunteer their time in the community. If they can get people to follow them while they're serving at the Red Cross, a United Way shelter, or their local church, then you know that they really do have influence—and leadership ability.

This article was excerpted from the Catalyst GroupZineTM, a brand-new group study resource from Nelson Impact and INJOY. Available in stores January 2006, the GroupZine will premier at the Catalyst Conference on October 6-7, 2005.

Obesity and Christian Discipline

yesterday, i suggested that we can solve our obesity epidemic by
encouraging everyone to smoke. that was tongue in cheek, a joke,
silly.
however,
thinking more about it on this morning's bike ride, i wondered about
the high concentration of Christians in this country and the neglected
discipline of fasting.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
will be filled." Jesus, Beatitude, Mountain Sermon

i know when we hear this verse we often think of it in terms of
desperately craving righteousness, but it can also mean fasting in
anticipation of righteousness. Jesus' statement seems like a condensed
version of what God was telling Isaiah in chapter 58...

2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 'Why have we fasted,' they say,
'and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail. (NIV)

All this to say, if American believers were encouraged to hunger and
thirst for righteousness, maybe they would bring America back from the
edge of this epidemic...and as a side benefit we'd see alot more
righteousness. Smaller waistlines and righteousness to boot, God sure
wrote a good book on life. the sad part is that some would only be
motivated by the waistline aspect.

how am i doing with this? i've gone back to the practice of skipping
lunch
. but i have many lunchtime meetings so i haven't turned the time
into prayer. i'm also learning that if you eat breakfast at 6:30 and
dinner at 5:30 and the kids go to bed at 8:30, there is still a couple
hours for a third meal. so i'm trying not to sabotage myself after the
kids go to bed.

i've heard fasting can be refraining from something other than food,
but nothing compares to hunger pangs. there is real pain when it comes
to fasting from food, much more than from fasting from watching
"Friends" reruns. food is not something i can survive long without. no
other alternative humbles me like a food fast.

so American Christendom, fat and satisfied, see Revelation 3
17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a
thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor,
blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the
fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can
cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you
can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest,
and repent.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

10 New Obesity Causes

i am not kidding when my thinking turned toward obesity on my bike ride home, partly because i was riding shirtless. and i concluded that the rest of the world isn't as fat as the US because they smoke like chimneys. anyone who comes back from Europe will assure you that our tobacco industry is not at risk of bankruptcy anytime soon. so i came home and felt i had hit on the answer. i googled obesity epidemic and smoking and this is out on the news today...maybe i have an AM transmitter in my brain. so if you don't want to be fat and don't mind shortness of breath, well obese people already have that, and risk of heart attack, oh that's the same too, try smoking...after you've tried eating less and exercising more of course. i did smoke for a year in college and quit when i had a bad cold and thought, "this is stupid."
Study Suggests 10 New Obesity Causes, America’s Weight Problem Not Due To Gluttony And Sloth Alone, Researchers Say - CBS News: "4. Decreased smoking. Smoking reduces weight. Americans smoke much less than they used to. "

the last Harry Potter book

a fun, but long, essay by the Hogwarts Professor anticipating the seventh and last book by Rowling. he writes,
I think alchemy is key to understanding the Harry Potter saga, obviously, but I
beg you to note I am not married or even very closely attached to the various
plot event theories I put forth above or in other posts. Stoppered Death, Evil
Slughorn, Draco Wolf-boy, and Half-Vampire Severus, frankly, are as
inconsequential as the shipping debates and other Fandom squabbles. The
necessary thing when talking about Harry Potter is getting at what makes these
books so good, why we like them so much. Fighting about plot points won’t get us
to that answer.

Examining the tradition of English literature for
an appreciation of Rowling’s artistry and the meaning carried by her stories
that so stir our hearts and engage our minds - this, I think, is the road to
travel to get at what Harry Potter is about. Literary alchemy is dreadfully
important in this understanding because it is the radical and traditional
worldview of strength coming from a self-denying harmony, from a sacrificial
love that conquers death, that informs and drives these stories. Alchemy as
metaphor for our resolution of the bonds of “I” to transcend ourselves and our
individual egos, to open ourselves to spirit and love and life, is the language
and heart of Harry Potter. Potter mania is what it is because this language
speaks to the human heart, a heart designed and longing for this message of
powerful love and true peace.


i was spurred to visit the HP because of Rowling's recent statement to the press.

"The final chapter is hidden away, although it's now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve. But I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die," she said. "A price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil here. They don't target extras do they? They go for the main characters. Well, I do."

the HP suggests some possibilities...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Fun with the Church Sign Generator meme

"WARNING: If you are easily offended by funny things, stop now and don’t read this post. You’ve been warned ;)"

A Sad Death and a Christian Response

John H Armstrong : A Sad Death and a Christian Response: "When I read such news accounts I wonder how Christians should respond. I would guess some might say, “You really do reap what you sow. We ought to make this clear.” Still others might say we ought to appeal to “justice being served” since she appears to have shown a particular kind of favoritism that is reprehensible to most people. I bowed my head and prayed for Dr. Denton’s family and her many friends as they try desperately to make sense of this tragedy. I also prayed for Grethcen Kalonji, that this sad news might cause her to seek God for grace in Christ the Savior of all. In the end I realize that as much as I hate the sin of people like the late Dr. Denton I am also reminded: “There but by the grace of God go I.” I am the chief of sinners and a debtor to grace alone. This does not make me wink at Dr. Denton’s ungodly ways if I am concerned about culture and morality. But it does make we want to be more human, and thus humane in my dealings with gays and lesbians."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pakistani woman raped for converting to Christianity

"Attacked by her own family, one Muslim’s decision to convert to Christianity highlights the precarious situation of Muslims in Pakistan who leave their faith.

Sehar Muhammad Shafi, 24, has fled her home city of Karachi with her husband and two young daughters after being attacked and raped for changing her faith...."


only insecure believers resort to violence on others. if someone apostasizes from Allah, why can't Allah defend himself? is he so weak?


The s8intcom Blogger

i came across this creationist blog. it's interesting. has another noah's ark discovery claim.

Violence halts Da Vinci Code screening in H'bad- The Times of India

"HYDERABAD: The screening of controversial Hollywood movie 'Da Vinci Code' was suspended at a theatre here after a group of Christians, protesting against the release of the film, ransacked the theatre.

The movie was to be released at Prasad Imax following a direction by the Andhra Pradesh High Court, quashing the state government's order to ban its screening.

However, dozens of activists under the banner of the Christian United Front raided the theatre and damaged the property extensively forcing the management to suspend the film's screening."

a reader pointed to this article in the comments yesterday. this behavior by these Christians is wrong and unacceptable in the kingdom of God. as the epistles tell us, our war is not with flesh and blood but powers and principalities. we are to tear down arguments not monuments. at least our scriptures have statements agains these actions. i don't know if the Hindu scriptures condemn raping Christians or beating them to death or near death. i know the Muslim scriptures don't. so on the relative scale that my commenter is trying to set up however, breaking stuff is bad and breaking people is ... what? the same? better or worse? depends on who it's being done too? the believer is called to outlove people, and win them with kindness into the kingdom, and for this, they receive physical abuse to the point of death, not unlike our Lord, Jesus.

dear reader, i join with you in condemning this violent bahvior by these Christians, can you join me in condemning the Hindu violence on Chrisitans?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Colson: Abortion and the Didache

Chuck Colson writes:

If I were to tell you about an ancient document that sheds fresh light on Christianity, your first reaction might be to run for the hills. Most of us have had just about all we can handle of the spurious “Gospel of Judas” and The Da Vinci Code, right?

Well, I’m not talking about The Da Vinci Code. Unlike the Gnostic gospels that inspired the novel, the ancient document I’m talking about sheds some real light on Christianity. It’s called the Didache, and it’s one of the earliest non-scriptural Christian writings, written toward the end of the first century. As Christianity Today explains in an excellent article last month, “While no one believes that any of the twelve apostles wrote it, scholars agree that the work is a faithful transmission of the apostles’ teaching, intended primarily for the training of Gentile believers.”

So this is no mysterious subject of an ancient conspiracy, just a practical guide to discipleship and obedience—maybe not as thrilling to many readers and moviegoers, but a lot more important.

The Didache came to my attention at the last meeting of the group Evangelicals and Catholics Together. As some of you know, I am one of the founders of the group, which is dedicated to finding common ground in our Christian faith and mission, and standing together in the culture war. Specifically, I came across the following passage:

“There are two ways, a way of life and a way of death; there is a great difference between them . . . in accordance with the precept of the teaching ‘You shall not kill,’ you shall not put a child to death by abortion nor kill it once it is born. . . . The way of death is this; they show no compassion for the poor. They do not suffer with the suffering. They do not acknowledge their Creator, they kill their children and by abortion cause God’s creatures to perish; they drive away the needy, oppress the suffering; they are advocates of the rich and unjust judges of the poor; they are filled with every sin. May you be ever guiltless of all these sins!”

That’s pretty powerful language, condemning the brutal practices of the Romans and of the pagan societies. But what really caught my attention is that this demonstrates so clearly that the sanctity of all human life is an issue that goes back to the very beginnings of the Church. That ought to be news to those who slam the so-called “religious right” as if abortion were some issue we just recently latched onto for political power. To the contrary, this struggle against the culture of death is an ancient one, going back two thousand years. The Didache wisely identifies the unborn with the poor, and condemns the rich and unjust judges who oppress them.

Fascinating, isn’t it? All the hoopla over the “Gospel of Judas,” which was discredited in the second century. The world, you see, wants to believe all kinds of deep dark secrets that might shake the foundations of the faith. But here comes a genuine document—no attention paid to it—but what it proves is the validity of the biblical account.

The Didache, the Church’s first written guide for discipleship, may not contain ear-tingling, earth-shattering revelations like all the other recent sensational disclosures, but it contains something much more important: a reminder of the Church’s great heritage and a call to our generation to be as faithful as our ancestors were in protecting life and the weak and the defenseless.

Raped Indian Christians Oppressed Further

Rape Victims Charged with ‘Forced Conversion’ in India

Hindu extremists have filed a counter-complaint of “forced conversion” against two Christian women who had lodged rape charges against Hindu villagers in Madhya Pradesh state. The women had filed the charges on May 31 after being gang-raped in Nadia village on May 28. The counter-complaint of “forced conversion” against the women and their husbands was supposedly lodged on June 1, but Indira Iyengar, a member of the Madhya Pradesh Minorities Commission, told Compass she suspected it was actually filed later and registered with a backdate entry. “The administration is taking advantage of the fact that the victims are illiterate. How can they talk about their religious freedom or defend themselves?” Iyengar said. A member of a National Commission for Minorities team sent to probe attacks on the Christian community in Madhya Pradesh reportedly said the administration had allowed the forced conversion charges in order to protect the rapists.

Hopegivers India update

State to Take Over EMI Institutions in Rajasthan, India

The Rajasthan government last Wednesday (June 14) announced plans to take over five institutions operated by Emmanuel Mission International (EMI). The organization leads a native church movement that serves more than 10,000 children through the humanitarian and educational work of Emmanuel Anath Ashram (Orphanage), Emmanuel School Society, Emmanuel Chikitsalaya (Hospital) Samiti, Emmanuel Believers Fellowship and Emmanuel Bible Institute Samiti. EMI attorney Mohammed Akram said the state High Court on Tuesday (June 13) dismissed five writ petitions filed by EMI challenging the Registrar of Societies’ decision earlier this year to revoke registration for these institutions. “The state social welfare minister, Madan Dilawar, has said the state government will take over all five institutions,” Akram told Compass Direct.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Indian Pastor Murdered and Mutilated

"Pastor Prem Kumar (on the right with the mustache) of Nizamabad’s CSI Church in Andhra Pradesh, India, was murdered on June 8th with the same brutality typical of earlier radical Hindu attacks. According to the Global Council of Indian Christians, the 67-year-old pastor’s body was found mutilated with his head crushed, in the hills near Rampart in Kotagiri Mandal of Nizamudeen district. Kumar’s body was so disfigured that Kotagiri sub-inspector, Ch. Anjaneyulu had to identify his remains from a description of his clothes.

Family members report that several people planned to pick Kumar up in the city of Bodhan after inviting him to pray over a newly constructed church in Kotagiri on the eve of its opening. When Kumar arrived at the meeting place, unidentified men ushered him onto their two-wheeler and drove off. Kumar called his family on his cell phone, telling them he was picked up by people he was not familiar with―not those who had invited him. Sensing danger, he asked his family to call him every 15 minutes, but after an hour-and-a-half, the connection was lost."

Monday, June 19, 2006

JUNETEENTH WORLD WIDE CELEBRATION

JUNETEENTH WORLD WIDE CELEBRATION: "Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All or none of them could be true. For whatever the reason, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory."

Church as a movement, rather than an institution

The M Blog: Church as a movement, rather than an institution: "What is hindering is not so much that we do not have the needed personnel or resources; rather, what is lacking is a true understanding of what the church was intended to be. The church must become a missionary movement. We need to get away from the idea of church as somewhere we 'go' and get back to the NT concept of 'being' the church in today's world.

The idea goes something like this...

* existing churches train/commission all their people to go out and be on mission with God in today's world
* those 'sent ones' evangelize and gather new believers for discipleship
* the new disciples are established into indigenous churches, leadership arises within the new church as the new believers begin to discover their spiritual gifts
* this new indigenous church trains/commissions their people to go out and be on mission with God in today's world
* the process is repeated over and over to the ends of the earth

The church is always on the move, not settling in, but always reaching out and expanding. Does it really work this way? Therein lies the rub. For most of us, church is still an understanding of a place-program, somewhere we go. We have not really made the paradigm shift necessary to get us out of our comfort zones and out into the world. We really need to get away from an institutional understanding of church and move into an organic-missional-incarnational view of church."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

abortion - from the mouths of babes

"A longtime friend of mine is married to a doctor who also performs abortions. At the dinner table one recent evening, their 9-year-old son — having heard a word whose meaning he didn't know — asked, 'What is an abortion?' His mother, choosing her words carefully, described the procedure in simple terms.

'But,' said her son, 'that means killing the baby.' The mother then explained that there are certain months during which an abortion cannot be performed, with very few exceptions. The 9-year-old shook his head. 'But,' he said, 'it doesn't matter what month. It still means killing the babies.'

Hearing the story, I wished it could be repeated to the justices of the Supreme Court, in the hope that at least five of them might act on this 9-year-old's clarity of thought and vision.

The boy's spontaneous insistence on the primacy of life also reminded me of a powerful pro-life speaker and writer who, many years ago, helped me become a pro-lifer. He was a preacher, a black preacher. He said: 'There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of a higher order than the right to life.

'That,' he continued, 'was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore out of your right to be concerned.'

This passionate reverend used to warn: 'Don't let the pro-choicers convince you that a fetus isn't a human being. That's how the whites dehumanized us ... The first step was to distort the image of us as human beings in order to justify what they wanted to do — and not even feel they'd done anything wrong.' "

Katrina Patina: On Our Own

Katrina Patina: On Our Own: "The Georgia Power crews had already cleared most of the main arteries, so the going was much easier than the day before. I ran into two other friends biking with the same mission and we pedaled on together. They’re members of the Baptist church in Old Town and told me that a relief center was already being set up in the building. We marveled at the fact that the churches and the power companies had hit the ground running, while there was no evidence of government help anywhere."

opposition to torture

is there anyone FOR torture?

"Fuller seminary’s Glen Stassen, a leading ethicist, declared: “Evangelicals are Christ-centred. Not that nobody else is, but we are; and the cross was humiliation and torture. This is an important reason why we are against torture.” "

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Slate blogs the Bible. By David Plotz

So, what can I possibly do? My goal is pretty simple. I want to find out what happens when an ignorant person actually reads the book on which his religion is based. I think I'm in the same position as many other lazy but faithful people (Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus). I love Judaism; I love (most of) the lessons it has taught me about how to live in the world; and yet I realized I am fundamentally ignorant about its foundation, its essential document. So, what will happen if I approach my Bible empty, unmediated by teachers or rabbis or parents? What will delight and horrify me? How will the Bible relate to the religion I practice, and the lessons I thought I learned in synagogue and Hebrew School?


this isn't pretty, but its good to hear an outsider voice.

a softball story

this is from a speech i gave at my toastmaster's meeting last week....it's true.

So what is our reward for this work? This dinner banquet once a year?
A dinner you still had to buy a ticket for? No we volunteer for that
ephemeral sense of JOY. We have learned the truth of the axiom, "'Tis
better to give than to receive." We come into such difficult
situations. We roll up our sleeves and we start to dig. We endeavor to
remove the layers of indifference or neglect that hide untapped
potential.

But boy…it takes a lot of work. I was a camp counselor one summer
during my college years. For 2 weeks I lived with a dozen 9 and 10
year old boys. Anyone who attempts to stop them from talking all night
of from having burping contests at the dinner table will quickly lose
most favored counselor status, even male counselors with hair down to
their shoulders and multiple piercings. 9 year old boys know "cool" in
substance is better then "cool" in appearance. This camp wasn't just a
2 week parent relief camp. No, this was Christian summer camp. The
mission was a tough one, to get kids to understand there is a God who
loves them and wrote a book for life that might not have the
appearance of cool but does have the substance of cool. The only group
harder to convince of this message would be a pile of rocks.

But I had a breakthrough with the entire of cabin of boys. It took
over a week of rule enforcing without temper tantrums on my part. It
started with hikes with a couple at a time and some rough housing on
the waterfront. It came during the staff vs. counselors softball game.
Some of those boys were serious Little League athletes. For some
reason they expected a lot from me…unknown to me. Unknown to them, I
never made the cut for the Little League team. Never. In fact, I
hadn't played on a baseball diamond for 10 years. I knew the rules and
the mechanics and could throw a ball and run but Catching and
hitting….they require practice.

Because there were more than 9 counselors, I sat on the end of the
bench for the first 5 innings. At 19 years old, I was a scrawny young
man, at least 40 pounds lighter. But the manager finally had to play
me and sit down some of his bigger, older, stronger, and more
enthusiastic players. It was a hard fought game. The counselors were
down a couple runs. In my first at-bat I hit a grounder to the
shortstop who started the double play and ended the inning. In
contrast, I performed flawlessly on defense, but not to my credit but
to my team manager's credit. He put me in the outfield, in right
field, where balls are hardly ever hit. The only balls that came my
way in right field were those tossed to me during our warm up before
play resumed. The staff got another run, through no fault of my own,
and my team was down 3 runs. I didn't have to bat the next inning but
we did get another run. Back out on defence in right field I was
agains spared from having to field any hits. Right field was shorter
than left field. It ended sharply at a rising hill covered in 80 foot
tall evergreens that blanketed the mountains of New Hampshire. The
next inning neither team scored, nor did I hit. But in the last
inning, I came up to bat with two of my teammates on base. An infield
ground ball was not the play that I wanted. My team didn't want it and
my cabin didn't want it. I had disappointed them already. They were
willing to cheer loudly for me. I was young enough to be called
"john." So it was very easy to chant "go John" instead of the other
cabins who had to chant "go Mister smith." There is something about
chanting "mister" that prevents it from rolling off the tongue. Being
a simpler chant, other cabins joined in to cheer me on. "go John." I
swung at the first pitch and nicked the ball backwards and high behind
me. Fortunately, it his the fence so that the catcher couldn't field
the ball. Strike one.
I did the same thing with the second pitch. Strike two.
The kids were getting nervous. The fielders had relaxed and had
actually walked in a few yards for the easy hitter….ME.
The third pitch was wide and I was patient enough to not swing. The
kids were really loud now. The next pitch precipitated something akin
to an out-of-body experience for me. I stopped hearing the cheers, I
stopped seeing the ball. I swung as hard as I could. The ball
ricocheted off the bat hard and high. The crowd erupted. I started
running to first base. The ball was high enough to be a pop fly, an
easy catch, but it was going to right field! As I stepped onto first
base the ball came crashing down into the trees just outside the
field. The crowd roared again. I hit the ball out of the park! A home
run!

I slowed from a sprint to a jog. I only heard the roar. I couldn't
distinguish any words. But the tone of the cheers changed as the 2nd
runner came home and I came up to third base. The right fielder had
searched the woods and found that big white ball! In fact, as I came
around 3rd the ball was on its way to the cut off man from the
infield. My home run was not automatic! Suddenly I needed to beat the
throw to home. I was horrified. The kids were horrified. I resumed
sprinting. I made a flying leap like superman to the plate and touched
the bag between the catcher's feet as he caught the ball. My walk off
homer became a full sprint 3 run, game winning home run.

Suddenly, I lived in a cabin of kids who respected me and anything I
had to say. They were now the hosts of the microcosm's softball hero.
The tangible proof of their admiration was presented to me before we
all turned in that night. After our evening bible reading, they gave
me a game ball signed by each of them. The best part of this trophy is
that they told me how they stole it. I now possessed a stolen
softball, stolen by the Christian campers, from the Christian camp,
for the Christian counselor….As you can see, I chose not to lose my
connection with them by making them return it. I had solved the
mysteries in my cabin. I had broken through. The JOY of our
relationship was more important over the long term than immediately
enforcing a rule. So I stand here with my reward. Its one of many in
my subsequent years of volunteering, coaching, tutoring, and
mentoring. I know all of you here have something so much better than
this dinner as your reward for your work, and I know it always brings
a smile to your faces like this brings to mine.



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

houses built with fiberglass

In my research into alternative home construction i came across these guys. the customer service guy, Dan Goodman, was quick in responding to my email inquiries. Here is the sales pitch...
  • Competitive Cost - Affordable

  • Non-toxic - Environmentally Safe

  • Will Not Decay or Rot - Higher Resale Value

  • Will Not Burn - Lower Insurance Rates

  • Termite and Rodent Impervious - No Monthly Poison Treatments

  • 350 mph Wind Resistance - Insurability and Protection Against Hurricanes and Tornadoes

  • Resistance To Earthquakes - Built-in Flexibility Engineered To Withstand Forces Greater Than The Kobe and San Francisco Earthquakes

  • Non-conductive - No Interference With Satellite, TV, Phone, Computer or Radio Signals

  • Water Impervious - Will Not Support Black Mold or Mildew Growth

  • Vapor Impervious - Insulation Will Never Wet-out or Lose Efficiency

  • Wind Impervious - Tighter Homes Have Less Loss and Lower Cost Heating and Air Conditioning

  • Higher Insulation Available - Energy Savings and Utility Credits Available When Buyer Selects R-30 (R-4 R-11 R-19 or R-30 Are All Available) In A 4-inch Wall Thickness

  • No Plants or Animals Destroyed - Green Product Certification

Replacing Wood and Concrete Block Walls With Advanced Construction Composite


And they are trying to get into the New Orleans rebuilding business. Unfortunately, they don't have builder partners up this way yet. Not that i have any land waiting for a house to go up on. New England ain't cheap, especially on a single income.

I like insulated panels, and i've also learned about precast concrete foundations. its all cool to me. i don't know if its in the wallet real soon though.

it seems to me, all the energy efficiency you build into a home, you still make the same monthly payment. it's either to the bank for you bigger mortgage, or to the utility companies for your leaky house. so, i'm trying to sort it all out in my brain, which is already full. i deal so much in hypotheticals. my son has the same affliction. he is 8 years old and is trying to learn as much about trucks as he can so he'll know which one to buy in 10 years. that's how i feel.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Utah Attorney General - Polygamy

this is a depressing read. jpu
Polygamy is illegal in Utah and forbidden by the Arizona constitution. However, law enforcement agencies in both states have decided to focus on crimes within polygamous communities that involve child abuse, domestic violence and fraud. The Utah Attorney General's Office and the Arizona Attorney General's Office also worked together to produce "The Primer---Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities." This manual provides basic information about various polygamous communities that will assist human services professionals, law enforcement officers and others in helping victims from these communities. The Primer will be updated regularly to reflect modifications in the law and changes in each organization's beliefs and practices. Click here to read or print the latest PDF version of The Primer.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Free Seminary Classes

Who doesn't read Justin Taylor. He comes through with the free seminary classes today. First courses from Covenant Seminary, "Covenant Worldwide's mission is to provide ready access to grace-centered, high-quality theological training by minimizing the barriers of distance, cost, and language. This mission recognizes our part in stewarding the resources of theological education to the Church, which is growing most rapidly in areas of the world where ministry training is often least available." "You may download, use and share courseware at no charge for non-commercial purposes. Lectures are in MP3 format, and study guides are available as PDFs. The lectures are currently available in English but are being transcribed to facilitate the translation of these materials into multiple languages."
and then courses from Biblicaltraining.org
of which the Introduction to Islam one looks very interesting. i can't dive into these as i'm slowly digesting another class from here on Old Testament Theology.

church titles?

another perspective by David Alan Black posted at a commenter's blog,

This is a long article but here is the teaser. Black writes, "...The array of ecclesiastical titles accompanying the names of Christian leaders today is completely missing from the New Testament, and would have appalled the apostles and early believers.

In light of what we have said above, there is a great need for reformation within local churches in the way we view leadership. Traditional pastoral ministry promotes an unbiblical one-man model of leadership under the self-styled “pastor.” In contrast, the New Testament teaches oversight by a plurality of men called elders. Some elders might be gifted differently and may even excel in specific pastoral tasks, but there is no biblical warrant for dividing church leaders into separate “offices” with honorific titles.

Traditional concepts of “pastor” are clearly unscriptural. The New Testament does not speak of two classes of Christians, as we do today. According to the Bible, all Christians are the people of God who through the exercise of spiritual gifts do the work of the ministry. Such is the teaching of Paul in Philippians 1:1."

QUALIFICATIONS AND DUTIES OF A PASTOR

i came across this last night online but without attribution. It
sounded like the voice of Wilmington's Guide to the Bible, but i
didn't find this in there. anyone know where this is from? it's very
interesting and provokes MY thinking.

I.DEFINITION OF TERMS
A. PASTOR, BISHOP, AND ELDER ALL REFER TO THE SAME OFFICE
1. Titus 1:5&7 show the offices of Elder and Bishop are the same
2. Acts 20:17&28 show the offices of Elder, Pastor, and Bishop are the same.
3. In Acts 20: 17 Paul is speaking to the ELDERS of the church at Ephesus
4. In Acts 20:28 he tells them to "Take heed therefore unto
yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath
made you overseers(BISHOPS), to feed(PASTOR) the church of God, which
he hath purchased with his own blood."
5. The Gk. word "episkopos" (Acts 20:28) is translated overseer or bishop.
6. The Gk. word "poimaino" (Acts 20:28) is translated feed, shepherd, or pastor.
7. 1Pet 5:1-2 "The ELDERS which are among you I exhort, Feed(PASTOR)
the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight(BISHOPRIC)
thereof,"

B. EACH TERM REFERS TO A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF THE OFFICE
1. ELDER refers to the character of the office - one of spiritual
maturity(Titus1:5-9)
2. BISHOP refers to the function of this office as an overseer (ITim.3:4-5)
3. PASTOR refers to the attitude of this office as a shepherd lovingly
protecting the flock (Acts 20:28&32)

II.QUALIFICATIONS OF A PASTOR
Titus 1:5-9
1Timothy 3:1-7

III.THE PASTOR SHOULD BE AN EXAMPLE
1. 1Timothy 4:12 says "…BE THOU AN EXAMPLE…"
2. Most Christians don't understand doctrine and Christian living without help.
3. Acts 8:30-31 "And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the
prophet Esaias, and said, UNDERSTANDEST thou what thou readest? And he
said, HOW CAN I, EXCEPT SOME MAN SHOULD GUIDE ME? And he desired
Philip that he would come up and sit with him."

IV.THE PASTOR SHOULD TEACH (Inform)
1. 1Tim 3:2 "A bishop then must be… …apt to teach;"
2. 2Tim 2:2 "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many
witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to
teach others also."

V.THE PASTOR SHOULD PREACH (Apply the Word)
2Tim 4:2 "PREACH THE WORD; be instant in season, out of season;
reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."

VI.THE PASTOR SHOULD PRAY FOR HIS PEOPLE
1. Acts 6:4 "But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to
the ministry of the word."
2. Rom 1:9 "For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the
gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always
in my prayers;"
3. James 5:14 "Is any sick among you? let him call for the ELDERS of
the church; and LET THEM PRAY OVER HIM, anointing him with oil in the
name of the Lord:"
3. 1Sam 12:23 "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin
against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the
good and the right way."

VII.THE PASTOR SHOULD LEAD THE CHURCH
1. 1Tim 5:17 (KJV) "Let the ELDERS that RULE WELL be counted worthy of
double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."
2. Hebrews 13:7 (KJV) "Remember them which have the RULE OVER YOU, WHO
HAVE SPOKEN unto you THE WORD OF GOD: whose faith follow, considering
the end of their conversation."
3. Hebrews 13:17 (KJV) "Obey them that have the rule over you, and
submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must
give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for
that is unprofitable for you."
4. 1Pet 5:1-4 (KJV) "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am
also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a
partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God
which is among you, TAKING THE OVERSIGHT THEREOF not by constraint,
but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; NEITHER AS
BEING LORDS OVER GOD'S HERITAGE, BUT BEING ENSAMPLES TO THE FLOCK. And
when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of
glory that fadeth not away."

5. Lessons from 1Pet.5:1-4
a. Preachers are not to take a pastorate for money, but willingly.
b. They are not to rule "as being lords over God's heritage, but being
examples to the flock."
c. In other words, they are to rule not haughtily and not according to
their own will, but they are to rule the people in love, with
prayerful care, exhorting as undershepherds who look for the coming of
the Chief Shepherd.
d. They should know the sheep do not belong to them but to the Lord.
e. They should rule only in the Lord's name and in His power.
f. If God doesn't give the hearts of the people to the Pastor then he
can't lead.
g. He can't rule in the scriptural sense unless the Lord gives him influence.
h. It is similar to the rule of a father over his children. He cannot
rule by virtue of a whip, for at a certain age the child would rebel.
i. A father rules by virtue of his wisdom and the fact that he is fit to rule.

VIII.PASTORAL STAFF

A. PLURALITY OF ELDERS OR PASTORS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament pattern is to have a senior pastor and several
assistant pastors. An example of this is the church at Ephesus, where
there was a plurality of pastors but there was always a single
individual in charge. When Paul was there, he was in charge, when he
was away he would leave Timothy in charge. 1Timothy 1:3 says "As I
besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia,
that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,"

B. PITFALLS OF NOT HAVING A SENIOR PASTOR
In Dr. H. A. Ironside's book "Short History of the Brethren Movement"
he points out the splits, divisions, and lack of soul winning that has
come out of the Plymouth Brethren movement due to their unscriptural
teachings against full-time pastors and their unscriptural teachings
against churches having a single pastor in charge of a church.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A quote from Slavery and Freedom by Willie Lee Rose

"Thus the free black community emerged, and its importance through the entire slave era would be hard to exaggerate. Not only did its existence inspire flight in slaves, but also it became a center for the development of institutions very important to the entire black population after 1863 and the Emancipation Proclamation. Here the black church experienced its first vigorous semi-independent growth, and in the free black communities the fraternal organizations flourished. The African church became the significant social unit, beyond the home, of the free black community, and at least one able scholar has concluded that blacks had a higher proportion of church membership in the antebellum period than whites did. One function of the church was educational, for nearly all the churches conducted Sunday Schools, and through the churches came the largest cadre of black leadership that was to become so significant a resource in the Reconstruction that followed the Civil War. Had there been no substantial free black community the transition in 1863 from slave to freedman, to free men and women, would have been infinitely more difficult." p. 12

Hindus in India are free to rape Christians...

LOCAL LEADER THREATENS CHRISTIANS AFTER RAPES

and those Christians better not whine either...its like letting the mafia run a country...

Minorities commission rebukes vocal member for defending assaulted women.

June 9 (Compass Direct) – The headman of 12 villages in Madhya Pradesh state, including Nadia village where two Christian women were raped on May 28, has asked Christians to renounce their faith or leave the village, a local source said.

Pandya Patel sent two representatives to Nadia village on Tuesday (June 6) to ask the Christians to give up their faith or leave immediately – without any of their belongings.

“Patel also warned other villagers that if anyone spoke to the police about himself or about the rapists, they would be expelled from the village – regardless of their religious background,” the source, who requested anonymity, told Compass...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Is Jesus the Answer or the Question?: rediscovering the role of mystery in our faith

I call this flavor of nonsense affiliated with emergent church grunge theology (Pearl Jam, Alive specifically) with a twist of REM, or maybe SNL deep thoughts with Jack Handy theology. only if you drank deeply from popular culture in the 90's do you hear these echoes in odd paragraphs like this from a book. the commenters have no mercy. why are they so mean? because ideas have consequences and the commenters point this out over and over again.

"Ed Gungor’s new book, Religiously Transmitted Diseases (Nelson Ignite, 2006), equates definitive answers with “dead religion.” In this excerpt from the book, Gungor affirms the life-giving role of mystery within our faith.

Religion may be attractive on one level, but it always strives to remove all the mystery that congests life. It has answers for everything, because questions are way too untidy. “Jesus is the answer.” Right? But what if Jesus isn’t the answer? What if He is the question?"

his website, in the "words" section does offer questions and answers. so maybe he's being provocative. i actually went there to find out if he's my age. nope, alot older, been married 28 years.

2nd century youth ministry

The Way of the Fathers is a Catholic blog with an appeal to the old days, the really old days. Their secret seems to be the expectation of responsibility instead of passivity.

"Tarcisius was a boy of third-century Rome. His virtue and devotion were so strong that the clergy trusted him to bring the Blessed Sacrament to the sick. Once, while carrying a pyx, he was recognized and set upon by a pagan mob. They flung themselves upon him, trying to pry the pyx from his hands. They wanted more than anything to profane the Sacrament. Tarcisius’ biographer, the fourth-century Pope Damasus, compared them to a pack of rabid dogs. Tarcisius “preferred to give up his life rather than yield up the Body of Christ.”

Even at such an early age, Tarcisius was aware of the stakes. Jesus had died for love of Tarcisius. Tarcisius did not hesitate to die for love of Jesus.

What made the Church attractive in the third century can make it just as attractive in the twenty-first. In the ancient world and in ours, young people want a challenge. They want to love with their whole being. They’re willing to do things the hard way — if people they respect look them in the eye and make the big demands. These are distinguishing marks of youth. You don’t find too many middle-aged men petitioning the Marines for a long stay at Parris Island. It’s young men who beg for that kind of rigor.

No young man or woman really wants to give his life away cheaply. Tarcisius knew better. So do the kids in our parishes."

28 House Church Christians Detained

Welcome to China Aid Online: "CAA learned that a Chinese House church in Henan was raided and 28 Christians were arrested. At 11 am, May 28, during a Christian worship service at a home at Xiguan Ma Jia Chang, Fugou County, the PSB raided the gathering and took 28 church members to the police station. Twenty-three were released later that evening. One Christian lady, 59-year-old Ms. Liu Yuemei, was released June 1, after her family was forced to pay a fine of 1600 Yuan (US $200). Another lady, 35-year-old Ms.Lu Xinhong, was released June 8, after she promised to pay her fine in cash.

Three Christians still remain at Ba-Yi Prison, Fugou County, Henan Province. They are 58-year-old Ms. Chen Xuelan, who hosted the gathering, 55-year-old Ms. Cao Yan, and 52-year-old Pastor. Li Shunmin.

According to those familiar with this case, during the raid, the police produced no ID, summons, or detention papers. Bibles and notebooks belonging to the church members were confiscated by the police and no receipts were issued.

The Christians decided to make a legal appeal and Dr. Li Baiguang and Dr. Fan Yafeng, two members of Chinese Christian Legal Aid Association agreed to be their legal representatives.

CAA urges the Chinese government to release these Christians and to honor their international and Constitutional commitment for religious freedom.

Communicate your concern to the Chinese authority at the following address:
Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong,
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20008
http://www.china-embassy.org/
TEL: 202-7456743
Fax: 202- 588-0032 ; 202-7457473
Director of Religious Affairs: (202) 328-2512"

in order to live, "Churches must learn to die"

This a provocative piece, and its so short, and i fear a quote might not be enough to entice a click to read the entire article, so, i pasted the whole thing here, by Darryl Dash...

Three years ago, I heard a pastor talk about how to make Church attractive. His church provided different musical styles in different rooms concurrently to appeal to different tastes.

I could relate to his desire to make Church attractive. Churches face pressure to meet people’s needs and keep them in the pews. After 30 years of the church growth movement, churches are more contemporary and relevant than before.

But as he spoke, my mind filled with questions. Despite more relevant churches, overall attendance is plummeting. Statistics Canada reported this month that Canadians are practising their faith at home, but increasingly staying away from religious services. The study says Canadian-born residents are losing their faith. Perhaps these trends would be accelerated without the help of the church growth movement, but why are we losing people just as we’re making Church more attractive to them?

And even if this approach works, are there dangers in conforming Church to what people want?

I remember sitting in that conference when a familiar passage entered my mind. I began to wonder what it might mean for churches, not just individuals, to take this passage seriously.

The Church must die

Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

We often apply this passage to individuals, but we don’t always apply it to churches. The focus of church ministry is often growth and health, not death.

If we apply it to churches, new questions emerge. What does it mean for a church to die to itself? How can churches deny themselves, abandoning self-interest and self-preservation? Can church ministry become congruent with the call to sacrifice and even die? Do we believe if churches do this, they will really begin to live?

It’s not easy to ask these questions as church leaders. A cartoon shows a long line of antelope, with the pair at the front about to step over the edge of a cliff. “I don’t want to be the leader anymore,” one says to the other.

Nobody likes leading others to die to themselves. For one thing, we have to go first. Yet the call to die to ourselves, both as individuals and churches, is not optional. It is central to what it means to follow Jesus.

How to die

The call to die reshapes how we live as churches.

It’s not about me. It’s tempting to come to church as a consumer hoping that my needs and desires will get met. Former pastor Eugene Peterson writes, “The great weakness of North American spirituality is that it is all about us...And the more there is of us, the less there is of God.” We face the challenging task of orienting ourselves around God and His mission instead of us and our needs.

It’s not about the institution. Neil Cole, author of Organic Church, writes, “You will be amazed what people do for Jesus that they will not do for your vision statement.” It is important, but not easy, for a church’s vision to be more about the Kingdom than the individual church. Following Jesus may involve actions that cost or threaten individual ministries.

It’s not about methods. Methods are important, but they are not the primary issue. We are facing a challenge that cannot be answered by methodological or stylistic changes, but in a fundamental reorientation of our ministries away from ourselves.

It’s not about success. North American culture is obsessed with size, glamour and celebrity, and that spills into the Church. I’m beginning to learn that some of the most effective ministries in Canada are being led by unlikely people in hidden places, although they will never meet our culture’s definition of success.

Dying to ourselves will not solve every problem, but applying this passage to our churches is much better than the alternative. Our greatest challenge may not be making our churches more attractive. It may be leading churches to die to themselves, so they can really start to live.

Darryl Dash is the senior pastor at Richview Baptist Church in Etobicoke, Ontario.

Are housechurches the seedbed of heresy?

The Ministry Report: Special Commentary: Heretics @ Home?: "Although far from being a 'biblical form of government,' democracy reflects the biblical principle that a lot of power in the hands of a few sinners can lead nowhere good. This same egalitarian notion is at the heart of the house church movement. It's the conviction that doctrine (like political power) should not be preserved by an ecclesiastical elite. It must be articulated, taught, transmitted and understood by the laity."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Use of House Churches to Extend Sanctuary-Style Churches

A hybrid proposal worth consideration. instead of institutional churches
planting the same, why not empower small groups to be simple
churches? The man is humble and the whole article is worth your time
yet this is good attention grabber...

Though I would love to promote the initiation of as many house
churches from scratch as possible, I know that most church leaders
inherited existing churches with buildings to maintain and a
traditional institutionalism of some sort in place. These may function
with varying levels of effectiveness. Some of your churches, no doubt,
are model examples of what church life should be in many respects.
Should you even entertain the possibility of using the house church
model to extend your work? I want to suggest that this should be
considered for the following scenarios:

* When the church is growing, the meeting space is limited, and
you do not wish to invest more money in buildings.
* When a pocket of members live in a town or neighborhood some
distance from the church building.
* When there is an unresolved disunity in the church related to
either doctrine or philosophy, and a "planned division" is an
appropriate consideration to bring to the people. (It goes without
saying that there are many steps prior to division, and that there are
other reasons churches divide that are not reasonable or acceptable.)
* When the church has an abundance of leaders or potential leaders
(such as seminary or Bible School students, or well discipled leaders)
who need to be used.
* When an established church wishes to penetrate the various
sections of the city, or neighboring towns, in response to a work of
the Holy Spirit among you.

Jim Elliff

His house church network has an internet presence

what about rape and incest?

Philip Rankin covers much more than rape and incest and abortion in this piece, he even gives a rationale for rejecting the Mormon order of theology experience>reason>tradition>Scripture, but it is all a lead up to how the good news of Christ intersects public life and inevitably politics. But here is how he responded to the abortion hypothetical...

So I continued, "Then there is far more that unites us than divides us B we are seeking the same qualities. The question is, in the face of the hell of rape and incest, does abortion unrape the woman and restore to her the lost qualities of peace, order, stability and hope? Or does the abortion only add further brokenness?" The room was quiet, and I could have actually left the issue there. I knew that the resonation with the image of God, as represented by these qualities, was so complete in that moment, that most students could answer the question themselves and deduce from there the reality I was addressing.

Rescued – the Pakistan children seized by Islamist slave traders - Sunday Times - Times Online

Rescued – the Pakistan children seized by Islamist slave traders - Sunday Times - Times Online: "Akash woke up in a dark room with a bare brick floor and no windows. The heat was suffocating. As he languished there over the next month, 19 other panic-stricken boys were thrown into the room with him.

The children, all Christians, had fallen into the hands of Gul Khan, a wealthy Islamic militant and leading member of Jamaat-ud Daawa (JUD), a group linked to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Khan lives near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, but when in the Punjab he stays at the JUD’s headquarters in Muridke, near Lahore, where young men can be seen practising martial arts with batons on rolling green lawns patrolled by guards with Kalashnikovs. Osama Bin Laden funded the centre in the late 1990s.

The JUD, which claims to help the poor, says that it has created a “pure Islamic environment” at Muridke that is superior to western “depravity”. Khan’s activities explode that myth. He planned to sell his young captives to the highest bidder, whether into domestic servitude or the sex trade. The boys knew only that they were for sale."

15 questions for Joseph Smith

Townhall.com columnist Mike Adams has been researching Mormonism over
three articles now. At first he seems to be of the persuasion that
Mormons and Christians are cut from the same cloth. But by this third
article he has some questions. The really interesting stuff is in the
interaction in the comments by Mormons, ex-Mormons, Christians, etc.
He asks

1. True or False. Among your 33 well-documented plural wives, there
were close to a dozen unions in which the wife was already married to
another man.
2. True or False. In your lifetime, you married four different pairs of sisters.
3. True or False. You once married a young woman and also married her mother.
4. True or False. At least one of your plural wives was as young as fourteen.
5. True or False. Some of your marriages were the result of religious
coercion secured only after you told the prospective bride that
marrying you would ensure the bride's place in heaven.
6. True or False. You also coerced teenagers into marrying you by
promising their families a place in heaven.
7. True or False. You kept fourteen-year-old Helen Mar Kimball from
marrying her sweetheart Horace Whitney because you wanted to marry the
teenager instead.
8. True or False. You also asked Helen's father Heber C. Kimball to
give you his wife.
9. True or False. Before you eventually married Helen, you gave her a
24-hour deadline to give in to your offer of a place in heaven.
10. True or False. Two years after your death, Helen married her old
sweetheart Horace Whitney.
11. True or False. The marriage between Helen and Horace was only
temporary because Helen was already sealed by marriage to you for
eternity.
12. True or False. Horace Whitney was sealed to an already dead Mormon
woman before his "temporary" marriage to Helen.
13. True or False. After her mother died, you approached teenager Lucy
Walker with a command that she marry you with the threat of eternal
damnation as the punishment if she refused.
14. True or False. The year before you died, you said the following to
Lucy: "I will give you until tomorrow to decide (whether to marry me).
If you reject this message the gate will be closed forever against
you."
15. True or False. The Book of Mormon, which you transcribed from the
Golden plates given to you by the Angel Moroni says the following:
"Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which
thing was abominable before me, Saith the Lord." (Jacob 2:24).
16. True or False. The Book of Mormon, which you transcribed from the
Golden plates given to you by the Angel Moroni also says the
following: "Hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any
man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have
none." (Jacob 2:27).

i'm mailing in the URL since Blogger is down right now so this isn't a
pretty link
http://www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/mikeadams/2006/06/07/200201.html

--
God is good
jpu
http://umbl0g.blogspot.com

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The EC: can it be all it can be?

One of my readers from Australia has a great post that starts this way....

"I have great hopes for the Emerging Church. I would like it to be a force from vitalization of the Christian movement in the West and beyond. But I think there are a number of critical issues it must come to grips with if it is to be all it can be. Here are my concerns:
1 The EC is drawing a false dichotomy between Secularized Spirituality and New Religious Movements. I don’t know why I need to keep saying this but try as you might, you cannot separate the commercialisation of Yoga from the westernization of Hinduism, the commercialization of meditation from the westernization of Buddhism or the commercialization of Enneagram therapy from the re-branding of western esotericism, that is, the occult. Both are intimately related. ...

2 If the EC wants to become seriously missional it must develop a robust theology of other religions that is BOTH respectful AND challenging. ...

3 If the EC wants to develop a truly alt. apologetic it must learn to discern between pan-theism, panen-theism and mono-theism..."

There's alot to think on in few words, my kind of blogger.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Indian Hindus use rape to persecute Christians

With the encouragement of a local chief and the apparent backing of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, villagers in the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh on Sunday (May 28) gang-raped two Christian women after the husband of one refused to deny Christ. At 3 p.m. villagers had beaten up Gokharya Barela, the husband of one of the victims, and took him to Sirvil village, near Nadia, where the village court demanded he forsake Christianity. When he refused, the village head, Pandya Patel, had villagers force Barela to drink wine and told them they could feel free to rape Christian women. Barela’s wife was raped by three men that evening, and before that two other Hindu villagers went to the house of Garsia Barela, also a Christian, and dragged his wife onto the verandah and raped her. Both women attend prayer meetings of the Indian Evangelical Team (IET). The BJP has filed “forced conversion” cases against nearby Christian missionaries and are planning to accuse an IET member of the same to try to insulate the perpetrators from prosecution, said Sajan George, national convener of the Global Council of Indian Christians.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Further charges against Hopegivers in India

Compass Direct: "The administration of Rajasthan state’s Kota district has leveled fresh charges of “exciting . . . disaffection towards the government of India” against Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) founder Archbishop M.A. Thomas and his son, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Thomas, EMI president.

EMI attorney Mohammad Akram said he feared that the additional charges could lead to the re-arrest of Samuel Thomas – released on bail under previous charges – and other workers, and the re-issue of an arrest warrant against the senior Thomas. The elder Thomas had been granted anticipatory bail on previous charges.

Akram said Kota police had reportedly added the charge that the map of India shown on the website of Georgia-based Hopegivers International, which funds EMI, excluded Jammu and Kashmir states. The accusation was made under Section 124(a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which outlaws “bringing or attempting to bring into hatred or contempt, or exciting or attempting to excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India.”