Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Here's an excerpt from the back of the newsletter/magazine:
The Voice of the Martyrs Newsletter is published 12 times a year. Serving with the persecuted church, the mission works in more than 50 countries through its own International Christian Association of mission offices.
Our main purposes, based on Hebrews 13:3:
1. To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas around the world where they are persecuted for their involvement in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. To give relief to the families of Christian martyrs in these areas of the world.
3. To equip local Christians to love and win to Christ their enemies who are opposed to the gospel in countries where believers are actively persecuted for their Christian witness.
4. To undertake projects of encouragement, helping believers rebuild their lives and Christian witness in countries that have formerly suffered communist oppression.
5. To emphasize the fellowship of all believers by informing the world of atrocities committed against Christians by remembering their courage and faith.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Should Christians be on Facebook? What about all the privacy issues that are in the news these days?
I sometimes wonder if the devil doesn’t take great pleasure in irony, in watching us turn ourselves inside out while missing the point. While I am on Facebook, and therefore at least hold to a tentative conviction that such is allowable for Christians, there are any number of reasons to raise concerns over it. Privacy and the lack thereof, however, would likely be the last one I would raise. With Facebook’s very public and controversial announcement of its change in policy with respect to privacy, that, however, is what has many Christians concerned. How, I wonder, can a person take a technology that exists to say to the watching world, “Here I am. Come see about me” complain that the world is coming to see about them? Anyone who wishes more privacy can find such easily enough. Don’t use Facebook. If you already do, stop. We are in a moral uproar for all the wrong reasons. We are aghast at the owners of Facebook for daring to change their policy (which, remember, the original policy held out as at their discretion) rather than being appalled at ourselves for implicitly breaking the 8th Commandment. We think because we are a user of Facebook that such makes us an owner of Facebook, and so demand this and demand that from the real owners.
That said, here are some very real concerns I have about Facebook. First, has it become a god to us? When God commands that we have no other god’s before Him He doesn’t mean ranked higher than Him, but rather He means in His presence. If Facebook is too needful for you, you may need to stop. Second, has it become a graven image? Have you confused its reality with real reality? Do you really think you have 200 friends? Third, have you taken the Lord’s name in vain? That is, have you, in weaker moments, put a bad face publicly on your Christian witness? Are you laughing at your old sins with that old buddy from college or high school?
Fourth, is Facebook giving me the peace of the Lord, or agitating me? (And please note the very real difference between that peace that passes understanding and that “peace” we receive when we feed a habit, when we get a fix.) Am I jumpy when I don’t get to log on? Am I more keyed up after I’ve logged off? Fifth, am I honoring those in authority over me? Wives, are you failing to honor your husbands because you’re too busy reading about your friends? Children, are you failing to honor your parents because you’re too busy sending flair?
Sixth, is this technology honoring to life? The cyberworld can be a barren wasteland, not because it is filled with pornography and gambling, but because it isn’t real, because it is Gnostic. Seventh, are you loving your spouse on Facebook? Is the rush of nostalgia from finding long lost friends encouraging you to be dissatisfied? Are you secretly looking for that old girlfriend? Are you already caught up in adultery simply by wishing you could be sixteen again? Or do you not know that Facebook can all too easily devolve into relational pornography? The allure of porn is that you think you can have the joys of the sexual union without having to have a real relationship with a real person. The allure of Facebook is much the same. Eighth, are you stealing from your employer by not giving a full days work because you are moonlighting at Farmville, or as a Mafia Don? Or, simply because you are spending your hours at work at play?
Ninth, are you lying? That is, is the you you present on Facebook the real you? This technology has an insidious capacity to both hide reality and fool us into thinking we are both showing and seeing it. Why are our updates all about our victories- I just made cookies for the family; My son just hit the game winning home run; rather than our failures- I just shouted at my little girl; I left my computer on the airplane and it’s gone? Keep a particularly close eye on this one. And tenth, is Facebook encouraging contentment or resentment? Are you coveting your neighbor’s friend count? Are you jealous of how many “likes” there are for his posts compared to yours? And are you content with the real life you are shutting out while hunched over your keyboard?
Please don’t misunderstand this little thought experiment. I suspect we could walk through the Ten Commandments in light of our church, and find many of the same temptations. That doesn’t mean you should stay away from church. It does mean we ought to be deliberate enough to know what we are doing, and why we are doing it. And deliberate begins by affirming that our own hearts are not just desperately wicked, but deceitful as well. We don’t need to protect our privacy. We need instead to expose our sins to the light, the light of Scripture that we might repent and believe, that His face might shine upon us.
R.C. Sproul Jr.
Monday, June 28, 2010
First: We scraped the frosting off the Oreo cookies.
Ahhhh. The finished product (for this step). Our bowl full of dirt (chocolate cookies crumbs).
Next it was time to make the pudding. We made chocolate pudding and vanilla pudding. Emily took charge of the pudding making process and the mixer.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Today I went to a summer festival in a neighboring town, complete with pony and camel rides. These summer festivals are a great place to find people. Sometimes the atmosphere lends itself to conversation, sometimes it doesn't, but the festival is always a good place to find people gathered. My goal today was to hand out gospel tracts and practice starting conversations with people. Today gave me some much needed practice in this area.
I recommend bringing a fistful of gospel tracts with you next time you attend an outdoor festival; it's a good starting ground for gospel seed planting.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Me: Greg, this is Mary's husband, Frank. Frank, Greg. Greg, Frank.
A little later in the evening.
Greg: So, Frank, what do you do for a living?
Frank: I'm an astrophysicist. I work for NASA.
Greg: Oh, cool.
A little later in the evening.
Greg: So, Frank, are they still using the 25679-V at NASA these days?
Frank: With surprise and delight on his face says. Well, yes they are. In fact in my first 10 years with the company all I worked on was the 25679-V. Most people have never heard of it.
Me: Raising my hand in the background. (Yep. I've never heard of it).
Greg will then go on to explain how he knows about the 25679-V, and about 20 minutes of conversation will ensue.
Again, this is my imaginary re-enactment, but I've seen this sort of thing happen time and time again during my marriage to Greg. It is remarkable to watch. I'm very grateful for this conversational gift God has bestowed on Greg. I watch and try to learn.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Here's one of the reflections from Elisabeth Elliot's Keep a Quiet Heart for your consideration:
One day recently something lit a fuse of anger in someone who then burned me with hot words. I felt sure I didn't deserve this response, but when I ran to God about it, He reminded me of part of a prayer I'd been using lately: "Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all."
Where could that kind of peace come from? Only from God, who gives "not as the world gives."
His will that I should be burned? Here we must tread softly. His will governs all. In a wrong-filled world we suffer (and cause) many a wrong. God is there to heal and comfort and forgive. He who brought blessing to many of the sin of the jealous brothers against Joseph means this hurt for my ultimate blessing and, I think for an increase of love between me and the one who hurt me. Love is very patient, very kind. Love never seeks its own. Love looks to God for his grace to help.
"It was not you who sent me here but God," Joseph said to his brothers. "You meant to do me harm; but God meant to bring good out of it" (Genesis 45:8, 5:20, NEB).
There is a philosophy of secular education which holds that the student ought to be allowed to assemble his own curriculum according to his preferences. Few students have a strong basis for making these choices, not knowing how little they know. Ideas of what they need to learn are not only greatly limited but greatly distorted. What they need is help--from those who know more than they do.
Mercifully, God does not leave us to choose our own curriculum. His wisdom is perfect, His knowledge embraces not only all worlds but the individual hearts and minds of each of his loved children. With intimate understanding of our deepest needs and individual capacities, He chooses our curriculum. We need only ask, "Give us this day our daily bread, our daily lessons, our homework." An angry retort from someone may be just the occasion we need in which to learn not only longsuffering and forgiveness, but meekness and gentleness, fruits not born in us but born only by the Spirit. As Amy Carmichael wrote, "A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred" (From her book If published by Christian Literature Crusade).
God's curriculum for all who sincerely want to know Him and His will will always include lessons we wish we could skip. But the more we apply ourselves, the more honestly we can say what the psalmist said: "I, thy servant, will study thy statutes./Thy instruction is my continual delight;/I turn to it for counsel./I will run the course set out in thy commandments,/for they gladden my heart" (Psalm 119:23, 24, 32, NEB).
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
Wow! What a radical conversion! But, no less radical than when God took this wicked heart of mine and gave me a new one that desired Him, no less radical than the conversion of any Christian. The work of conversion is done by God through His Son, as so clearly demonstrated in these verses.
I'm also struck by the sentence "For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." No health, wealth, and prosperity promise there but a promise nonetheless, the same one given to us.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Reconciled (by David Charpie)
No more at war with God. I stand in grace, His wrath appeased
His justice fully satisfied, hostilities have ceased
No fragile or uneasy truce marks this our conflict's end
All enmity has been erased, my God now calls me "friend"
A treaty of my own I could have never hoped to bring
No strength my own could shield me from the fury of the King
For I was the offender who rebelled and chose to sin
And He the Just Avenger who will every battle win
But Jesus Christ himself has made this peace on my behalf
His blood has paid sin's penalty no more I fear God's wrath
O sing the love that bade my sinning sole be reconciled
Though once a rebel I've been made the King of Heaven's child!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
A lot of people say they hold back on sharing the gospel with strangers because they wouldn't know what to say or they're afraid they will get a question they cannot handle. I struggle more with starting the conversation. I'm a quiet person by nature. I don't start a lot of conversations. I can handle silence in a room, so I don't usually fill it in with conversation either. With this in view, approaching people and starting a conversation about the gospel has really been a struggle for me. I had to learn how to share the gospel, and I had to learn how to start a conversation in general.
Here's a few of the ideas that have helped me get in the mindset of starting a conversation.
- When walking down the street or in a public venue, I look people in the eye.
- As I'm walking and looking people in the eye, I smile at them.
- I say "hello" to strangers as I walk by them.
- If I'm standing behind someone in a line at the checkout and I observe something unusual about them, I say it out loud and ask questions if appropriate (Example: "Wow. That's a lot of eggs. I'm curious what someone would do with so many eggs.")
- If someone has a tattoo, I ask about it. ("Hmmm, that's an interesting tattoo. Tell me what it means?")
- Because I am hesitant to start a conversation with other people, if a stranger starts a conversation with me, no matter what the subject, I make sure they walk away from me with a gospel tract in their hand (usually the one I wrote). It feels less intrusive to me if they started talking to me, so I try not to miss the opportunity that God has laid in my lap.
- Stay in God's Word constantly, so you are prepared for the opportunities He gives you.
- I try to deal with sin quickly by confessing it and looking to the cross for my help. If I am ignoring sin in my life, I am likely to avoid my Bible. If I am ignoring sin in my life, I am likely to pass up an opportunity to evangelize because I think to myself, "Who I am to tell them what to do."
Those are a few tips that have helped me to get in the pattern of starting conversations with other people. When I'm out seeking to evangelize and that is my sole purpose for the evening, I still have to start the conversation from scratch, and there's still a level of awkwardness to it, but developing the habit of engaging in conversation has made the process easier for me.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Step 1: You will need a pillow case. It would be wise to make sure the pillow case fits the child. We did this by placing the pillow case over her body, head and all. (As I took this picture, Emily said, "Wait, I think I might have blinked."--always the comedian).
Step 2: Cut a hole in the top of the pillow case for the child's head to fit through and one hole on each side for the arms.
Step 3: Cut a collar out of felt (felt is very inexpensive to purchase by the yard, and 1/4 of a yard was sufficient for this project).
Step 4: Decorate the collar with jewel stickers (they can be purchased at the local craft store). The finishing touches were a painted wooden cobra (also found at the local craft store) glued to an old headband, painted gold. A piece of gold ribbon for a belt, and you have yourself an Egytian costume.
Monday's snack was pyramid-shaped sandwiches. First the proper sanitary precautions needed to be taken. (She wasn't too thrilled about the shower cap, but she was good a sport nonetheless, even let me take a picture of her).
Emily put the filling in all of our sandwiches, and I buttered them for the grilling process to come later that evening. (We had grilled cheese, chocolate and marshmallow, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches that evening).
The next night we made desert dessert cups (vanilla pudding mixed with whipped cream, topped with vanilla cookie crumbs and decorated with a couple gummy worms hanging off the side of the cups). Emily had a little fun with the gummy worms, as you can see in the picture.
At the end of the VBS session on Tuesday night, the kids were instructed to come the next evening dressed as an Egyptian, as there would be a costume contest. That was a curve ball I wasn't expecting. Wednesday morning we spent some time making an Egyptian costume. (I'll write a separate post on the making of the costume).
Recently Greg dug out a small air hockey table given to him and his brother as a gift several Christmases ago. We played many games of air hockey throughout the week. Emily loved the game and improved greatly as the week went on. She said she needed to play me first because I am level 1 and then Greg because he is level 2 (I thought the comment was slightly insulting.....but not entirely untrue). Emily is a bit of a trash talker when she plays the air hockey. I was the recipient of comments such as: "Come on, you're playing like a girl." and "Oh, it's on now!" several times throughout the week. When Greg and I played against each other, Emily would provide play by play commentary and commercials. It was quite entertaining.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Here's an excerpt from the back of the book, which explains a bit of the premise of the book:
For decades, the world's most popular gospel message has been drawing the lost by promising God's wonderful plan for their life. But behind the facade of the "wonderful plan" message is the reality of trials, temptations, and persecution that Jesus promised. How can we reconcile the two?
If you have an interest in reading the book, you can obtain one free copy of it at the Living Waters website (www.livingwaters.com).
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Greg, I pray for God's continued growth in your life in the year to come. Happy Birthday, my husband!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Tonight was Cookie Baking Night and we took the show on the road. This week our church is having VBS (Vacation Bible School), and we made plans to spend the evening there. Ethan started soccer tonight, so he wasn't with us.
Our church is using an Answers in Genesis curriculum called "The Egypt File". We have another church helping us. They ran VBS last week, so they brought all their props to us this week. As you can see, they did a great job on the props. They transformed our tiny church into the land Egypt for the week.
In the picture below, Emily and Carissa are posing by the camels and the palm trees.
Fun was had by all, and we're learning about how God made us (answering the question "where do we come from?")
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
John Piper Article: Do you think the essence of your evil is disobeying the commandments. That’s a good start, but that is not the essence of our evil (Romans 1:23 and 2:23). The essence of our evil is that we prefer anything to God. If you think the essence of your evil is commandment breaking, your focus for change will be commandment keeping. If we get good at it (keeping the rules), we think we have changed, but the essence of our evil remains. If we cannot get good at it (keeping the rules), we despair and quit trying. If we know that the essence of our evil is not commandment breaking but preferring anything to God, then our focus for change will be a change of heart because God promised, “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”
Todd Friel Comments: We keep the rules not to be rule keepers. Then we just become fancy Pharisees. That is not repentance. If we become rule-keeping Pharisees, we become the same old white-washed tombs that they were, clean on the outside, filthy on the inside. That is such a burden. If you have been trying not to sin because you are trying to be a rule keeper, have you been forgiven of your sins? Have you put your trust in Jesus Christ? Have you experienced forgiveness? Has He granted the assurance that you know that your sins are forgiven. If so, you do not need to strive to keep the rules to please Him or to balance the scales. You do it because He saved you.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
Changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones,
Died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth,
Watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
Love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean vast of blessing,
’Tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus,
’Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory,
For it lifts me up to Thee!
Monday, June 7, 2010
I had some time to kill between the end of my work shift and the airport run, so I went to The Mall of America (very close to the Minneapolis airport) to hand out some gospel tracts.
Since there are so many solicitors for your time, attention, and money at the mall (particularly on a slow night), I found a chilly reception to the gospel tracts. I was able to hand out a few, but I definitely had more rejections than I did takers tonight.
I engaged in one conversation with an older gentleman sitting on a bench, but I didn't get very far. He was very polite but very closed to conversation. It went like this:
Me: "Here's a million dollars for you."
Him: "No. Thank you. What is that monopoly money?"
Me: "It's a gospel tract. It has the million dollar question on back. What do you think happens to a person when they die? What are your thoughts?"
Him: "Nothing. It just ends.
Me: "No heaven? No hell?
Him: "Some people think there's a heaven and a hell."
Me: "What do you think?"
Him: "I don't think about it. I think it just ends. Whatever happens, happens."
Me: "You're taking a pretty big chance there don't you think? What if there is a heaven and hell?"
Him: "With what I've seen it doesn't really matter. I've seen a lot."
Me: "I'm not sure what that means. Were you in the military?
Me: "You've seen a lot of death?"
Me: "But you don't think about what happens to a person when they die?"
At this point in the conversation I was picking up some pretty strong (closed) body language signals.
Me: "Would you like the weird woman holding the fake money to leave now?"
Him: Polite smile. "I don't want to talk about this anymore."
Me: "Okay. Thanks for talking to me. Have a nice evening."
Some conversations go like that. I take comfort in the fact that God is in control, not me. Even a short conversation (with no gospel message in it) could cause someone to think soberly for just a few moments. I pray God will use this conversation to cause this man to think about Him, and I pray God will save Him.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
The story takes place in 1970 (fictional) and revolves around three young boys and an elderly gentleman in their town who shares the gospel with them. I think this movie would be a great witnessing tool, and I recommend checking it out.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
For ideas on how to start your own notebook you can check out Mardi Collier's book, What Do I Know About My God?
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Job 19:23-24 (NKJV):
"Oh that my words were written! Oh, that they were inscribed in a book! That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead forever!"
Study Note (John MacArthur Study Bible):
Job wished that the activities of his life were put into words and "inscribed in granite", so all would know that he had not sinned to the magnitude of his suffering. God granted his prayer.
These verses are a reminder to me that God answeres prayer. Job did not know the secret things of God. Job did not know that God would use his story for generations to come and it would, indeed, be written down.
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