Archive for December, 2008

The Unseen may be one of the weirdest books I’ve ever recommended. I don’t usually read “thrillers” but you have to read it all the way through before judging some of the crazy/creepy things that occur in the beginning. Not to worry, this book is a fast read and I had trouble putting it down.

I finished in less than a week and was glad to have invested the time. A great chance to escape reality and venture into “the unseen” world of the unseen. It makes you wonder though about those times when you feel like someone is watching but there is no one there…

Not for the faint of heart or conspiracy theorist though!

This is the first novel I’ve read by T.L. Hines and I am impressed.  It is fast moving and not too predictable.

Humpty Dumpty had a great falls“!

Technorati Tags: , ,

I received this book as part of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Bloggers program.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Our church is going to attempt to show how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is actually in every book of the Bible over the next year or so.  It could get interesting as there are 66 books to cover.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as we began the series this week.

A little background

Luke 24:44-49 is kind of the basis for this series:

Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”

He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”

So that is the starting point…

A good place to start this type of study of the Bible is obviously Genesis! What does the creation of the world have to teach us about Jesus? Surprisingly a lot. Every time I read or think about parts of the Bible you can see something new or unique.  If you just read Genesis as a story book you’ll say that was a good story.  If you read it from a missions standpoint you’ll gather some new insights about being a missionary. If you read it while thinking about the Gospel of Jesus you’ll pick out some new prophetic ideas.

Interestingly, Tim decided to read from a new book his family got as most of his message. He read from The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name which really brought out some neat ideas about the Bible and Genesis.  He assures us that he won’t read to us from it each week, but I think it was rather appropriate and easily summarized the 50 chapter of Genesis into a 40 or so minute message.  (The above pictures are from the book and are Abraham taking Issac to the altar)

Below are some of the tidbits I gleaned from the message:

– God wrote “I love you” in all of creation.

– The Bible is about God and what He has done, not about us.

– Most of the people in the Bible aren’t really heroes, just ordinary people.

– Every story in the Bible whispers Jesus’ name.

– Satan wants to end God’s love story.

– When God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden, He promised that He would come back and rescue them at some point in the future.

– Jesus was God’s secret rescue plan for His beloved children.

– We are lovely, only because God loves us right now, even in our sin!

Some of those statements are a fresh way of looking at something, offering a new insight.

Some of those are really exciting.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Why was Jonah willing to save the boat full of pagans, but not go to Ninevah?

That was a tangental question David threw out during last week’s sermon. He didn’t want to dig into it since it was really related to the overarching topic.  But was still a good point to ponder…

I e-mailed him a response over the weekend:

Something similar has been on my mind lately… especially regarding things like Darfur, Somalia, HIV/AIDS…

I think Jonah didn’t want to save those people over there, you know those foreigners.  Why would God want us to be uncomfortable to benefit someone besides ourselves?  Why should we care about Africa when we have problems here…

But once those foreigners became part of his life.  We don’t know for sure who was on the ship but I imagine that at least one of the sailors was a Nineveh-ite.  They had some shared experiences playing poker, dropping back some rum, you know hanging out.  Their relationships probably became stronger as the storm picked up.  Adversity tends to bring people together.

When Jonah and the sailors figured out what was happening he faced a few choices, do nothing and hope everyone lives, be pragmatic and realize that people are going to die, take a risk and jump overboard, get thrown overboard.  Jonah must have been a pretty decent fellow since God wanted him to prophesy on His behalf, so it seems Jonah was willing to do whatever it took to help is new buddies.  Plus if he died, he still wouldn’t preach to Nineveh!

I think once we’ve experienced Africa or know someone with HIV, it becomes real and personal.  You are more willing to act and take risks to help them.

Does that make sense? What do you think??

I would definitely, be interested in hearing your thoughts and reactions to that question in the comments.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

For the past few months we’ve been attending Seward Church, a new church.  It is both new to us and also new to the community.  It is a church made of some wonderful people and maybe I’ll go into that in more detail in a future post.  I finally remembered to bring a Bible with me, and a pen, but only a napkin for paper!

So throughout the service I scribbled on a little scrap of napkin.  David brought us a good message, throwing in a little VeggieTales to spice things up!!

The theme was appropriately about giving thanks and praising God despite your circumstances.  A lot of verses could have been used to support this theme, but a more obscure passage from Jonah was chosen: Jonah 1:17-2:10.

The whole sections is a song of Thanksgiving and I would urge you to look at it.  But here are the last 3 verses:

When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD

We received a good amount of background, which included a lot of good points! David described the Ninevehites as being the enemy of Israel – Jonah was being sent to the enemy to offer them a message of hope and salvation.  Are we taking the Gospel to our enemies? Jesus, in Luke 6:32-36 admonishes His followers to “love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

We need to remember that without Christ we are no better than anyone else. We are just as susceptible to sin, legalism, selfish behavior, etc. The difference is that by accepting Christ we have become “Sons of the Most High.”

Back to Jonah – remember he tried to run away from God’s command to go to Nineveh.  He somehow thought he could outrun or hide from God.  Well even in the belly of the whale, God was in control.  But first think about being on that ship, when you realize that this Hebrew man is running away from God.  The pagan sailors knew that Jonah was a man of God and that he was running away from God.  Imagine their fear and confusion – I’m sure some wanted to kill him. If you know the story you know that Jonah freely offered to jump off the ship – with the hope that it would save all on board.

Looking at other Scriptures we realize that sometimes we all need to be disciplined for our actions (Hebrews 12:6) sometimes this is a little more dramatic than others – like being swallowed by a whale for 3 days! But at the same time we also realize that with God all things are possible and He is able to take us inside a whale for 3 days and have us spit back out on the beach (Mark 10:27). It is safe to imagine that Jonah’s plea was very similar to Habakkuk 1:2How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?”

Yes, I think Jonah was afraid to speak Truth to his enemies, but while in the belly of a whale I’m sure anything looks better.  Isn’t that true though, in the middle of a crisis almost anything seems better than the current situation.  That job you hated looks better when you are hungry on the streets.  But God promises us in Psalm 50:15 that we should “call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.

God saved Jonah despite his guilt, in part to give him a thankful heart. We all should be thankful and rejoice even though we are a part of a wicked generation (Matthew 12:33-41) God wants to work and move in our midst.

Who is your Nineveh today?  Is there a person or group of people that you are afraid might here the good news? Is God calling you to something that seems a little crazy?

Today let us lay down our fear and trust God and remember that with Him, nothing is impossible!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I got back into the swing a litte better this month of blogging here.  It was a good month, but hard to believe we’ve been in Minnesota for almost a year!

This was a big month for this blog as I finally completed the move from Blogger to WordPress and changed the name!

In case you missed it this was a presidential election year!  I shared why I am a moderate and also some thoughts on having schools be a polling place.  Many people where up in arms and afraid that the election of Barack Obama was going to ruin our country so I posted two videos to remind myself and others that God is always in control.

I posted an e-mail forward about poverty that I thought was insightful into being poor. In a similar vein I took part in Bloggers Unite for Refugees and shared some of my thoughts about the refugees I’ve encountered here in Minneapolis.

Last year I wrote about Five Forgotten Fights, sadly to say – they are all still forgotten. I also did a better job of writing about the sermons I heard at church.  The first was about having too much stuff!  We went to a medical missions conference in Kentucky and heard lots of good, challenging, and inspirational messages. Another sermon this month was about using it or losing it.

I finished Billy Graham’s book Peace with God, which was a nice change of pace. I also read Martin Dugard’s Into Africa which told the story of Stanley and Livingstone.  I offered my 10 Rules of Internet Safety and was surprised at how many people actually read them!  As Thanksgiving approached I shared about a news story which talked about the need for food in America.  As we entered the Christmas season I encouarged all of us to think about the ways we are blessed and how the HIV/AIDS crisis is still rampant.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Red ribbon is a symbol for solidarity with...

Image via Wikipedia

In the past few years I have written about HIV/AIDS quite a few times (see them here). But let’s be honest here for a few minutes. Who really cares?

AIDS is a four letter word, that like so many others shouldn’t be spoken about in polite company. Do you even remember what the four letter’s stand for? Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.  Yea, that means nothing to me. When you spell it out like that, it makes even less sense.

So what will actually make sense? We are very blessed that in the US, even though over a million people have HIV/AIDS (CDC), for many people it is managed through medication and is almost thought of as a type of cancer.  But did you know that babies die from HIV/AIDS related infections or were you to busy protesting at an abortion clinic?

You see, HIV/AIDS ravages your body so that something as simple as a winter sniffle could end up killing you.  That is the simple version, but it makes sense. Why did the baby get HIV? Her mom gave it to her, more than likely.  What kind of terrible mother would give her child HIV?  Who knows, maybe she was raped by a stranger in the middle of the night.  But does it matter how she got it? Only if you want to pass judgment. Why can’t we love someone without trying to pass judgment?

Ok, so babies and children are dying because of no fault of their own. A quick question, if the entire population of Spain had HIV/AIDS do you think someone would care? What about the entire population of Texas? Well according to World Vision, that is the current estimate of how many people are currently suffering with this ailment. 40 million.

By 2010, the number of children orphaned by the disease is expected to exceed 25 million — slightly more than the population of Texas — according to the United Nations. The impact on these children, both before and after the deaths of their parents, is catastrophic.

A few days ago was Black Friday.  Did you go waste your money on earthly materials that do nothing but provide five minutes of happiness to your child before being thrown in the bin with last year’s?  This year a Walmart employee was “trampled to death” by shoppers eager to purchase the latest craze.

Something is wrong with this picture.

This is truly a sad state of affairs.  As a culture we are willing to trample over fellow Americans to purchase a blender.  I guess it should be no surprise to me that no one cares about babies dying in a foreign land.  All of this makes me angry and sad.

But I am thankful for the organizations, churches, and individuals who are willing to stand up today and throw off the chains of injustice and care for the orphaned child and suffering widow.  These are our brothers and sisters and they deserve our love and admiration.

James 14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

Will you sit idly by or will you act today?

Bloggers Unite

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]