Friday, August 31, 2012

National Atheist Party Cancels Convention Due To Lack Of Funding

Did you see the story in today's news with that headline?  If not, google it.  It's real.  But here's a sampling of the story:

Troy Boyle, the party’s president, announced on its website won’t be holding NAPCON 2012 in Boston in October because it would bankrupt the group.
“After this year’s amazing Reason Rally, and flush with our successful recruiting and a spike in donations, we decided to hold our OWN secular event. NAPCON 2012 was supposed to be our biggest and best public event; our chance to show the U.S. that we could fund and organize a large, noteworthy and impressive ‘Secular Summit’ that would attract media buzz and even more interested members and donations. The reality is that we can’t,” Boyle said in the press release. “The donations simply aren’t there and if we went ahead with the event as planned, it would bankrupt us.”
The second annual convention was supposed to consist of several speakers and musical acts over two days, as well as giving away free prizes to fellow atheists.
Boyle blames a lack of donations and sponsors, along with several prominent people backing out of the convention.

Which sort of, maybe, kinda illustrates a point made in a few good book titles over the last several years:  Does God Believe in Atheists?  Do Atheists Exists?  That sort of thing.

Now, I know that there are people who exist while saying that God doesn't exist... which is kind of like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel saying that Michelangelo doesn't exist.

And some of them are really wonderful people in many ways!  I've known some of them.  They have some moral fabric to their lives.  They believe that certain things are just dead wrong: hatred, murder, theft, lying, adultery, haughty pride, greed, slothfulness, cruelty to animals, etc.  They work hard, they're compassionate toward the needy, they're faithful to their spouses, they're generous & charitable, they pick up litter.

In fact... it's... it's almost as if... well, actually... yes, it's definitely as if (to some degree) they believe in God.

Because what you really believe isn't what comes out of your mouth.  What you really believe is what comes out of our life, your time, your fingertips.  If people could press the mute button & just watch our lives for a whole day, they would have a very clear and uncluttered picture of what we really, actually believe.

Our words sometimes deceive people (starting with ourselves), but our hearts are exposed in our actual living.  We give ourselves away.

Have you heard the term "elegant contrivances"?  It's a term used by lots of insightful folks to describe any system of belief that attempts to make good (common) sense of human life without making any reference to God, the creator and author of human life.

No matter how simple or complex you try to make such a system it's just an "elegant contrivance"... it's not ultimately going to hold together -- it's not going to have any basis or grounding -- if we're all just here by some sort of weird, unplanned accident.

There's no good reason for the strong to be compassionate toward the weak if we're just highly evolved chemicals competing against each other for limited resources.  In that sort of scenario Darwin was right and Jesus of Nazareth was wrong.

But the atheists I've known don't actually live that way.

denial   n.   a refusal to grant belief in the truth of a doctrine, theory, or the like

Atheists may tell a pollster that they do not believe in absolute, transcendent truth.  They may tell their friends that each individual gets to individually decide what is right and wrong, true and false, beautiful and ugly for him or herself... individually and all.

But do they really believe it?  Really?

When you take a frying pan and bash it against the atheist's son's skull, does he really believe that everyone should wait to confer with the son (once he regains consciousness) to determine if any offense was taken?

When a man does harrowing things to the atheist's friend, does the atheist say "whoa, not so fast" when you start using the language of "evil," "wrong," "sexual predator," "the wickedness of rape," and so forth?

My wife just brought in today's newspaper.  It is absolutely riddled with moral judgements and outrage... almost as if there were some pre-set standard of moral convictions to which we're all pre-wired to agree.  Where are the letters to the editor from the atheists?

If we're all just goo that got where we got by cosmic happenstance, there is no "good" and there is no "evil."  Those words don't mean anything.  You cannot contrive that kind of meaning in a godless universe of chance.  Stuff just happens.

But no one lives that way.  And no one lives that way because -- regardless of how we may want to trivialize ourselves with our words -- our hearts say otherwise.  There is a Person out there that we cannot not know.  His autograph is written on our souls.  His thumbprint is on every cell in our bodies. His character is inescapably displayed, like on an interstate crowded with billboards, all throughout creation.

When you observe an atheist attempting to contrive meaning and morality out of nothing more than physical "law" and physical matter, ask him or her why they're feeling so desperate (and lonely) in the necessity of this attempt.  Why is there this need to establish meaning and morality?  Why is it there?

Give him C.S. Lewis's "Illustrations of the Tao" out of his book "The Abolition of Man" and ask him to explain this world-wide, history-long phenomenon of "transcendent" morality.

Ask him why he "loves" his grandmother.  Or his dog.  Or even the unwanted dog that's about to be "put down" at the animal shelter.

What you really believe isn't what comes out of your mouth.  Give me a video camera and a mute button and I'll show you what you really believe.

Does anyone really believe in atheists?

Monday, August 27, 2012


My home is now being  overrun   infested   overwhelmed   crowded  ABUNDANTLY BLESSED with teenagers.  I first met this little girl 13 years ago today.  I can hardly believe how fast the years have passed, but I've loved every minute I've been given by God to spend with her.

She loves playing the guitar, painting, playing the flute, reading, playing the piano, being with friends, playing with her sister and brothers, babysitting, and being a Junior Mom to a family of 7.  She's awesome.  And if anybody ever says otherwise, I'll break both of their legs.

And my prayer for you on this birthday, Calli, is that your God-given beauty will always penetrate all the way down to the hidden person of the heart -- the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious (1 Peter 3).

The father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage.
A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them, shakes his antlers, 
paws the ground, snorts, runs them off into the underbrush, 
but when his daughter puts her arm over his shoulder and says, 
"Daddy, I need to ask you something," 
he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan.
~Garrison Keillor~

Friday, August 24, 2012


I'll change the picture when I can get my oldest boy to slow down long enough to smile at a camera.  He's away working right now.  And if he's not working he's playing soccer or studying or playing guitar or doing something awesome with friends or siblings.

But he turned 15 yesterday, and I could not be more proud of him.  I give thanks for him every day.  He's one of my heroes.  So I might just leave the picture the way it is, actually.

And my prayer for you on this birthday, Jonathan, is that you be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong, and let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16.13,14).

"When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry."
~William Shakespeare~

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Welcome Bennett Andrew!

Future Auburn Quarterback & His Dad

Welcome Bennett Andrew!  He made his way into the world very late (11:18 pm) Monday night.  But Coach Chizik has already been informed & is reportedly building the 2032 team around this new talent.

Presently his stats are 8 lbs 9 oz, 21 1/2 inches... but we expect to see a lot of growth.

The Bible everywhere says amazing things about God's care and concern for the children of believers, and the birth of a child of his covenant is a good time to remember some of them.  Consider this word from the prophet Isaiah...

“And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
    to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.
“And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: 
“My Spirit that is upon you, 
and my words that I have put in your mouth, 
shall not depart out of your mouth, 
or out of the mouth of your offspring, 
or out of the mouth of your children's offspring,” says the Lord, 
“from this time forth and forevermore.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Thought on Just Reading the Bible, Straight Up

This last Sunday at DPC we looked at Ecclesiastes 7.1-4.  Whenever we spend time in a passage of Scripture like that, I'm reminded of this encouragement I'd like to give to all Christians:  consider putting aside the devotional books and just read the Bible, straight up.

Reading devotional books can be good.  But learning how to read the actual Scriptures is "better" -- to use the comparative judgment language of the wisdom literature that we talked about on Sunday.

Some devotional books are better than others, so this isn't a blanket condemnation.  But most devotional books seem to have as their goal to help you "think positively" about the day you're about to enter.

It seems that all of the happy, uplifting, perky, & peppy passages of the Bible have been carefully cut out of their overall context & and then pasted back together in this non-contexutal collection of peaceful thoughts.

But that's not what God, in his wisdom, gave us.  He gave us 66 amazing books -- some law, some narrative, some poetry, some history, some wisdom literature, some prophets, some prayers, some apocalyptic, some gospels, some epistles, etc.

And learning how to explore and navigate all of what he actually gave us is foundational to Christian maturity.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Excerpts From Peru

Here are some selected excerpts from friends Sean & Amber's recently-begun missions work in Peru... I hope you'll join me in praying for them.  These are just excerpts from their newsletters.  If you'd like to receive their newsletter in all of their enjoyable glory, let me know.

Very encouraging.  Very funny.  Very challenging.

I especially commend to you Sean's thoughts on prayer... & the dog story.

Today is Monday, Aug 6
Started language school today. 

Today is Tuesday, Aug 7
Second day in language school. Overwhelmed. 

I went to go get my beard trimmed today. Disaster. Seriously. I guess I didn’t realize that Peruvians don’t typically have beards and, therefore, the barbers don’t really do beard trims all that often, if ever. I look ridiculous. 

Today is Wednesday, Aug 8
These verbs are crushing us. For anyone who has never attempted to learn spanish: it’s ALL ABOUT THE VERBS!!! There’s a blagillion of them. There’s ten blagillian rules to how you can or can’t use them. Every rule has an exception...or two. Right now we’re just trying to memorize a metric ton of them...we’ll figure out how to use them later (according to Julio, our gramatica teacher). 

Today is Thursday, Aug 9
I (Sean), was meditating on my prayer life this morning. After a little thought I came to this conclusion: I pray like I serve an impotent God. The Bible paints the picture of a strong, benevolent, merciful, powerful, gracious, God. A God who raises mountains and lays valleys low. A god who creates entire galaxies for the glory of his own name. A God who stirs nations and crushes sin and death. 

I pray like he is a God who burns cookies and has trouble getting his socks on in the morning. God has called us to a massive mission, and yet, I pray to him as if he’s only sent us on a trip to the grocery store because the milks gone bad. I’m not praying like peoples souls are at stake. I pray as if the glory of his name is something to be forgotten...neglected,  even. It’s not. It’s something to hunger for. My prayers indicate that I obviously don’t believe in the Gospel of God. No...I believe in the gospel of Sean, complete with all of his weaknesses. 

I need to repent in the dust and cry out to God. I need to pray that he will teach me how to commune with him through the beautiful gift of prayer. I need to approach his throne of grace boldly. Christ purchased that for me, it’s time I pray like I believe it. 

Today is Friday, Aug 10
Something weird about the people of Arequipa: Everyday I go for a walk around 7am. So far, every morning the temperature has been between 68-72 degrees. Of course, I’m in my shorts and t-shirt. The weather feels amazing. The funny thing is, every morning I walk out into the street and see my fellow Peruvians bundled up like it’s february in Minsk, Russia. Boots, pants, scarves, ponchos, beanies, thermal blankets, portable heating pads, hot hands (trademark), and so on. 

I hope I never climatize. I never want to live like 70 degrees is -30. The really funny thing is that it never really gets above 80 degrees. It’s not like it’s dropping from a cool Death Valley 118 down to 70. I walk around like we’re in SoCal, they walk around like we’re in northern Siberia. Strange...

Just got done with our 5th day of class. Every day I feel a little more confident and a little more confused. 

Today is Saturday, Aug 11
It’s looking like Amber might have to drop out of classes. We can’t find a babysitter and we’re not going to take Patience to the day care. We’re praying that the Lord would move...

The people of Peru love yogurt. Yogurt Yogurt Yogurt. You should see the yogurt aisle at the local grocery store. It’s massive. It’s equal to the square footage of Alaska. There are more brands of yogurt than there are types of plant fauna. Right now, in the fridge roughly ten feet from my right hand, there is a gallon of yogurt. .5 gallons of peach, .5 gallons of strawberry. Mucho Yogurt. 

I’m doing homework on a saturday. If 16 y/o Sean met 25 y/o Sean he’d beat him up, just on principle.

Today is Monday, Aug 13
I (Sean) had my first conversation in Spanish today. It wasn’t pretty, but it was legitimate. We talked about being in language school, the United States, Patience, and a few other things. It was encouraging to see some progress. 
The Lord answered our prayers. We have a baby sitter. Just another reason to trust in the God who is faithful.

Today is Tuesday, Aug 14
There is some serious animosity between the family we are staying with and their maid. I hear both of them whispering about each other to other people. Sometimes the Senora of the house tries to talk to me (Sean) about her. I try to change the subject as quick as possible. It’s uncomfortable, to say the least. Praying for wisdom on how to handle this situation.

Today is Wednesday, Aug 15
So, as you may know (if you’ve been following along regularly), I go for a walk every morning. Typically, I just pick a direction and start walking. I walk until I’m good and lost. Then I try to find my way back. It’s a fun way to see and learn my way around the city. Well, today’s walk was....unusual, to say the least. Let me tell you about it. 

You see, there are hundreds of ferrel dogs roaming around Arequipa. Some of them are sweet and cute. Some of them....not so much. Sometimes, during my walks, I find myself in dark alleys and other uncomfortable positions. But hey, I’m like Bear Grizz baby! Raw adventure is the name of the game. Such an adventurous spirit, of course, sometimes means that you end up wishing you would have been less adventurous and more of a home body. Sometimes you find yourself in tight circumstances with not-so-nice looking dogs. Today was one of those days. I’ve never felt like I was truly in danger...until this morning. Let me tell you about it. 

As the story begins, I’ve been walking down a random road for, oh, I don’t know...30 minutes. I happen along a dope graffiti piece, so I stop and take a picture of it. It came out well. Yay me. I then proceed down the road like a character out of Bunyan’s masterpiece, not knowing what hell I’m heading towards. Then it happens.

I see a lovely elderly lady standing by the gate of her casa. She looks sweet, but I can’t shake the feeling that she is more ominous than butterscotch. She’s trying to control her  dog. It’s not going well. Poor woman. Before I look down to see the creature, I can hear his deafening growl. A low roar from the larynx. The growl turns into a bark...growing more vicious with every second. I stop to observe. Why? I don’t know. But I do...

I then see her hand moving towards the gate latch.

At that very moment I felt what I like to call “Combat Syndrome”. Let me explain: When I was in the military, I used to train constantly. I was a medic, so we were always working on trauma evaluation and treatment. Trauma because, well...I was in the Army. Not the Air Force. Anyways, during training, the exercises were always taken half seriously (to say the least). It was a joke, really. When it came time to test the skills we had “acquired” during training, the energy shifted. Now you’re under the microscope. Pass/Fail. Everything is hurried, jumbled, and messy. Even though no one’s life is at risk, you feel a tremendous amount of pressure. 

Enter Iraq: The bomb goes off, the building shakes, you get ready for incoming casualties. Your adrenaline starts pumping. They bring the patient in.....and.....every....thing.....slows.................down. Time comes to a grinding halt. You don’t feel nervous. You don’t feel confused. You seem to see everything more clearly. Your thinking becomes pristine. Your vision is clearer than it’s ever been. I can still remember, in vivid detail, a good many of my trauma patients from the emergency room of Mosul, Iraq.

Back to Arequipa: As I see the gate open, “Combat Syndrome” kicks in. I see her hand unlatch the gate. I can see every muscle and tendon glide under the aged and wrinkled skin of her right hand. The gate opens. The hinges creak with a deafening squeal. The Beast, eager to escape, shoves his head through the newly created opening. I’m thinking about all the scenarios I’ve imagined in times past. You know what I’m talking about. You see a wild dog...he’s barking at’re thinking “am I going to have to try and fight off this dog? What am I going to do, kick it? Punch it?” If you’ve never been in this situation, you need to get out more. Or revisit your childhood...

As the Hound of Death pushes the rest of his body through the open gate, I think about all these things in a matter of a millisecond. “Yep, I’m gonna have to fight this dog”. I can see the look in his eyes. The drool from his saggy jowls. What if it bites my foot because, well...let’s face it...I kick with the speed of a man ankle-deep in a pool of tar. Whatever. I can’t just let him attack me. Can I? Time is slower now than it’s ever been. I can almost feel the aggression coming off of the Beast in waves. I can hear his sturdy paws press the ground as his haunches thrust him forward. Forward towards the inevitable altercation between my foot and his face.

I love dogs. “God, I don’t want to die from an infected dog bite.” Time is slower now than before, if that’s even possible. I’ve been living in these two seconds for what feels like an eternity. Every bark is almost deafening now. Ok, it’s time to react. I put one foot back. I assume my karate stance. I guess all that work in the fifth grade is finally about to pay off. Right foot cocked. Ready. Deep breath. The beast is so close. 3......2......1........

He comes to a dead stop. He sniffs me. I’m waiting, right leg still ready to roundhouse at a moments notice. He looks at me for what feels like an hour. I’m breathing like a locomotive. Suddenly he turns and runs over to the neighbors dog and sniffs his intimates. 

Ok. Ok. I look up at the lovely lady who owns the Hell Hound of Death. I quickly realize that I look like I’m on the brink of murder. I wipe the psychotic look off of my face and try to smile. My heart feels like it’s going to beat it’s way up through my teeth. She smiles back at me. A big smile, too. I start to decompress. I laugh a little. Very little. “Ok, you’re good”, I tell myself. Time to get moving. I look back at the Beast once more before departure. Chihuahuas. Absolutely terrifying. 

Today is Thursday, Aug 16
Random thoughts for the day
  • My Ipod broke. Tragic. I was using it to listen to sermons, among other things. Those long boat rides are going to be a little bit longer now. It’s all good though, more time for prayer.
  • I know like....100 words in spanish now. I’m pretty much fluent. ;)
  • Prayer life has been picking up. Figuring out how to systematically implement prayer. It may seem like that kind of approach would “quench the flame”, so to speak, but it actually helps me immensely. I’m undisciplined by nature, even after years of military service.
  • Some short term missionaries came to Arequipa today. They’re here to help the people we are staying with do some work in the village. They brought six jars of peanut butter. Extra crunchy. Have I died and gone to heaven?
  • Oh, and Ambers pump got here. That’s great and all, and we’re thankful, but it just doesn’t hold a candle to the peanut butter.  
  • At 8,000 feet, just walking down the block will leave you out of breath. The air is thin up here. 

Today is Saturday, Aug 18
Four things worth mentioning
  1. Amber’s sick...again. This time she’s got a temp. Oh, she’s throwing her guts up all over the place, too. So far it’s Sean-3, Amber-2, Patience-3. Me and Patience are tied, but I think Amber might pull through in the clutch. 
  2.  We had a set price for the baby sitter. She is asking for more money now. Praying for wisdom on how to handle this. 
  3. Went to EVERY STORE in Arequipa. I did not find one shirt that fit me. Not one. The closest to “fitting” made me look like someone saran wrapped a meatloaf. 
  4. If anyone is familiar with my knee problems, they’re back. My right ACL feels like it’s gonna shred any minute. Stairs are becoming difficult. I’m 25, I shouldn’t be having these problems.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Solomon's Question

In Ecclesiastes 6, King Solomon asks a pointed question:

"Who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vaporous life, which he passes like a shadow?"

That's actually a question that he will continue to answer (in successive layers) throughout the rest of the book.  But his first answer comes early on in chapter 7.

Tomorrow at DPC we'll be looking at King Solomon's provisional answer to his own question.

What you have to love about the book of Ecclesiastes is how honest Solomon is about our "life under the sun."  How does a wise person respond to the burdens and afflictions and evils of life in this world (death being the last and the greatest of these)?

There are some unavoidable things that the foolish person will try to avoid, even right up to the last minute.  It is not so with the wise.

Join us tomorrow morning as we dig into the Bible's answer to this important question.  In the meantime, I encourage you to reflect upon this poem...

The Sands of Time Are Sinking
by Anne R. Cousin
based upon the words of Pastor Samuel Rutherford

The sands of time are sinking,

The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for -
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

O I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit -
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

This is actually just 5 parts of a 19-part poem.  
The imagery of all 19 lines is beyond beautiful, 
even as heaven is beyond this world.  
Very encouraging.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Archaeology & The Bible

Someday when I have the time I want to post a whole lot of fascinating material about how archaeology continues to affirm the Bible's record of history -- of the things that really happened to real people on a real date on a real calendar in a real place.

But in between now & then, enjoy this brief piece by Eric Metaxas...

This is a picture of the "House of David" inscription mentioned below.

A Man with Long Hair

Israeli archaeologists recently discovered a coin, dating from the 11thcentury before Christ. It depicted “a man with long hair fighting a large animal with a feline tail.” Ring any Old Testament bells?

The coin was found near the Sorek River, which was the border between the ancient Israelite and Philistine territories 3,100 years ago. Sound vaguely familiar?

The archaeologists thought so, too. While Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University don’t claim that the figure depicted on the coin is proof that Samson actually existed, they do see the coin as proof that stories about a Samson-like man existed independently of the Bible.

Stated differently, the story of Samson was not the literary invention of a sixth-century B.C. scribe living in Babylon, as has commonly been assumed by mainstream biblical scholarship.

Bunimovitz and Lederman made another interesting discovery: the Philistine side of the river was littered with pig bones, while there were none on the Israelite side. Bunimovitz told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that “these details add a legendary air to the social process in which the two hostile groups honed their separate identities . . .”

I suppose that’s one way to put it. Another would be to see it as evidence of the Israelites’ sense of being set apart from their pagan neighbors.

The findings at Sorek are only the latest in a series of archaeological discoveries that are changing the way modern historians look at biblical narratives. It’s becoming more difficult for them to maintain that the narratives are pious fictions invented long after the era being depicted.

The most famous of these discoveries is the 1994 discovery of a stele in Tel Dan bearing an inscription that contained the words “House of David.” It was the first extra-biblical evidence of the Davidic dynasty. Prior to the discovery, many scholars doubted that David ever existed, much less founded a dynasty. The discovery was so out-of-line with expectations that more than a few insisted it must be a forgery.

Today, it is clear to even the most skeptical scholar that—surprise!—there really was a David who founded a ruling dynasty. That dynasty included his son, Solomon, and evidence of Solomon’s building projects described in Second Samuel have been found by archaeologists as well.

Some of the discoveries go beyond history and tell us about Israel’s sense of what it meant to be God’s chosen people. Sites dating to before the Exile are littered with Canaanite idols, evidence of the apostasy the prophets denounced and warned would lead to disaster.

Yet there has never been a single idol found in sites dating after the Exile. Clearly, the Jews who returned from the Exile had finally, truly learned that “the Lord our God is one.”

These findings are exciting not because they “prove” that Christianity is true – there’s a reason it’s called “faith” – but because Christianity, like its parent Judaism, makes historical claims.

Christianity is not a mystical, if-it-works-for-you kind of religion. It tells a story about the true God who revealed Himself to real people in human history, a revelation that culminated in our Lord Jesus Christ who told us that if we, or scholars for that matter, remain silent, the very stones will cry out. In this case, they have.

Come to and click on this commentary to read a fantastic article on the historical accuracy of scripture. It’s called “A Historian Looks at Jesus” by Paul Johnson. Chuck Colson absolutely loved it, and you will, too. Again, that’s at

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What is at the Heart of Christian Missions?

Another good missionary update from friends Sean & Amber in Peru.  The heart of this report is a good reminder of what is at the heart of Christian missions.  Remember what the Apostle Paul said:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  ....  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Más Updates

Today is Monday, July 30
Book of the day: The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer
Soundtrack of the day: Philharmonics by Agnes Obel

Really trying to get Patience on a schedule. Not easy. We almost had her set before we left, but our life for the last month has made it difficult. Hopefully our six months in language school will allow us to set a regiment and keep it. 

Feeling a huge burden for my home church. Friends, I won’t go into much detail, but please join me in praying for my church. 

You can pray that:
  • God would get much glory from this church.
  • That he would use it to ignite a passion for the gospel.
  • That the saints in that church would be comforted and challenged.
  • That those with power would use it well and make wise decisions. 

Today is Thurssday, Aug 2
Soundtrack of the day: Michael Jackson: Number One Hits
So, we finally have our total expenses calculated for language school. Yesterday the gentlemen who runs the school gave us a total cost breakdown. Here’s what it looks like:

1 Week of School, per person - Group session (which is cheaper than the one on one):     s/300. So, that’s s/1200 per person, per month. That’s s/2400 per month for Amber and I. In US dollars that’s around $923.00/month (depending on the exchange rate). 

For six months that’s around $5,538

1 Month of Rent (what we have to pay to the family we are staying with while we are in school): s/2000/month...which averages out to $770.00/month.

For six months that’s around $4,615.

1 Month of Baby Sitting (which we aren’t too thrilled about, but we have no choice):   s/350...which is $134.00

For six months that’s around $807.00

Add it all up for six months and you get......drum roll please..... $10,960.

There you have it folks. Now, here’s the question: why spend so much money on language school? Why not spend that money on other things like: 

stockpiling food for the orphanage
resources for biblical training
clean water efforts
  • church construction
  • etc.
  • etc.
  • etc.

and the list goes on...

Thank you for asking! It’s not often that I get a chance to ride my hobby horse all the way home. Here’s why:

That is just a short list of charity organizations who have little to no religious affiliation, and absolutely no Christian ethics driving their work. There are many more. You don’t have to be a Christian to care for orphans. You don’t have to be a Christian to provide clean water to the villages along the amazon. You don’t even have to be a Christian to build churches. 

The thing that makes our mission different than Kiva’s, MercyCorps, Help Sudan International, and a hundred other organizations, is that we must proclaim the gospel. If the gospel is not proclaimed; if disciples are not made; if the nations don’t repent and believe the gospel; we might as well let our unbelieving friends take the rope. The thing that separates  us from the rest of the world and their philanthropic endeavors is this: we minister because of what God has done for us in Christ! 

That being the case, we fail miserably if we don’t clearly, beautifully, and consistently communicate the gospel. If we give a thousand orphans a good education, a warm bed, and a healthy body, and they die and go to hell, under the wrath of God forever, have we succeeded? I’m sure there are many atheist explicitly non-Christian organizations that could make the former happen. No problem. Raise a little money...invest a little time...hire some zealous humanists...

But can they relieve their eternal suffering? No. 

So why are we investing so much in language acquisition? Because we’re here to communicate. Everything else we do with our hands (Lord willing), will simply be a witness to the gospel we proclaim with our mouths. 

We hope that you will join us in prayer about several things:

  1. That the Holy Spirit might equip us to acquire the language quickly.
  2. That we would trust the Lord to provide for us.
  3. That we would stand on the truth of scripture and let that govern our strategy and mission, not things like money, power, or influence (which are about as trustworthy as leaving me around a plate of freshly buttered biscuits). 

Today is Friday, Aug 3
Book of the day: God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgement by Jim Hamilton

I woke up this morning feeling more convinced of my own inadequacy than ever before. I need to focus on Christ. I need to be convinced of His strength...His Power...His love. 

In case anyone’s been wondering, the “book of the day” is whatever I’m reading. Amber’s reading too, but not as frequently due to baby Patience. Right now she’s studying church history for children. She’s reading a book called “Peril and Peace - Volume 1: Chronicles of the Ancient Church”. It’s a good, easy read. Great for teaching children church history. 

Amber and I are also walking through Genesis together. Good stuff. 

We had an earthquake today. Apparently they’re quite common here in the “Valley of Volcanoes”. One earthquake a week is pretty common. 

Today is Saturday, Aug 4

Patience has a fever again. It started yesterday. It got up to 103.4 last night. This morning it’s back down to 102. At first we thought it was from teething, but a 103 degree temp isn’t from teething. So far it seems to be asymptomatic. We’re just praying and doing what we can to bring it down. 

Today is Sunday, Aug 5

Patience had a fever yesterday. We thought it had pretty much dropped, but last night it shot back up to 103. She’s not a great sleeper when she’s not feeling well, which means Amber’s not getting much sleep. 

Oh, to top it all off like misery sprinkles on a fail cake, I wasn’t watching patience closely enough this morning and she fell off the bed. She has a scratch on her forehead. It’s a permanent reminder that Amber is a much better parent than I am. It’s funny now, but not so much immediately post noggen-saki bomb. 

Language school starts tomorrow. Our biggest concern is that we not abandon our individual disciplines of prayer, scripture reading and memorization, etc. 

There’s supposed to be something like four hours of homework a night. Four hours! I (Sean) haven’t done homework since the 8th grade (see: high school dropout). I might just bribe Amber to do my homework for me. What will I use to bribe her? Kisses and beard rubs, of course. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Good Word on Parenting

Need a good word on parenting to start off this new week?  

You can read one by Paul David Tripp by clicking HERE.

Parenting:  It's Never An Interruption.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

"My Yoke"

For many people life seems to be an uphill climb that never seems to end.  Life never turns out as they hoped it would or thought it should.  They just cannot seem to make life "work" for them.  It's a never-ending, uphill climb while heavy-laden with great burdens that make us miserable even as we make those around us miserable.

But in the midst of that dark pain, a light dawns.  Someone says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

A yoke is that harness thingy (pictured above) by which two animals can be hitched to a plow or a wagon.  In the ancient world it was a common metaphor for the never-ending demands of a bunch of religious rules -- "the yoke of the law" -- referring not to the actual law of the loving God, but to the intolerable burden of generations & generations of "religious tradition."  See Matthew 23.1-4 or Acts 15.10 for examples in the Bible.

But this "yoke" language was actually used in many places in ancient Jewish literature outside the Bible too.  The yoke of this religious demand, the yoke of that religious rule, etc...

But NOWHERE in the ancient world does ANY teacher EVER have the boldness to invite others to put their necks under "my yoke" and "learn from me."

But Jesus does.

And that would be outright blasphemy if we did not recognize what the Bible everywhere teaches -- that Jesus is, in fact, God in human skin.

And this God-Become-Man has promised us that his yoke will remove burdens, wonderfully refresh, and give us our longed-for rest and relief.

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33.14

Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. the way to God's promised rest."
Jeremiah 6.16

"For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
Jeremiah 31.25

In Matthew 11.28-30 Jesus boldly says that he is the way to God's promised rest.  

Tomorrow morning at DPC we'll be looking at this promise / invitation more closely.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Context Context Context

This short piece by John Stonestreet is so helpful & so needed in so many different ways that I had to put it here.  This is one of the simplest but most important principles that needs to be grasped for handling the Word of truth rightly.

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, 
a worker who has no need to be ashamed, 
rightly handling the word of truth."
~The Apostle Paul to Timothy~

Handling the Truth
On the Use and Misuse of the Bible

Last week, I received a comment on YouTube challenging the assertion I made in our Sexual Brokenness series that homosexual behavior was one of the many ways we exhibit sexual brokenness.

Dennis asked, “Why do you focus on that sin and ignore the rest of Leviticus? There are laws in there against gluttony, eating pork and shrimp, and wearing cotton-poly blends.” You know what? He’s right. In the book often quoted to condemn homosexual sin, these other things are condemned also. So what do we do now?

Yesterday we talked about how important it is for Christians to commit themselves to the Scriptures. But it’s not enough that we read and quote the Bible. How we read and quote it matters too. A lot. The basic fact is that we evangelicals often misuse the Bible in ways that can look just silly to the outside world.

We’re often quick to quote verses or moralize stories out of context. For example, we’ll quote Jeremiah 29:11, and claim that the promise found there means God has plans to prosper us and not harm us. But we’re unaware that that particular promise was delivered to Israel, a nation whom God had just punished by sending them to captivity.

The problem here is not that we don’t know what the verse says, but that we don’t really know what the verse means, because we don’t know the rest of Jeremiah 29, or the rest of Jeremiah, or where this promise fits in the whole scheme of redemptive history.

This sort of proof-texting reveals our tendency to selectively focus on certain parts of the Scripture, like the promises, while we ignore the other parts, like the curses.

Jewish philosopher and Rabbi Abraham Heschel once remarked to a group of Christians, “It seems puzzling to me how greatly attached to the Bible you seem to be and yet how much like pagans you handle it. The great challenge to those of us who wish to take the Bible seriously is to let it teach us its own essential categories; and then for us to think with them, instead of just about them.”

Ouch! But he has a point. The Bible is not a set of disconnected stories or self-contained phrases. Even the morals and the songs found in the Proverbs and the Psalms are given to us within the context of the history of Israel, which is given to us in the context of the history of everything — from the creation of the heavens and earth to the re-creation of the heavens and earth.

This big picture of the Bible should always be the backdrop whenever we read any part of the Bible. And we should keep in mind what kind of book we are reading: history, theology, poetry, prophecy, proverbs, or letters. A letter shouldn’t be picked apart like a proverb, and history shouldn’t be read as theology. Reading it as it was written, in light of the larger context of redemptive history, will help us learn what God is revealing to us about Himself and the world.

Which takes us back to Dennis’s comment about Leviticus. Leviticus clarified God’s law for the Israelites. Some of these laws were specific to Israel, to set them apart from the other nations. Other laws reflected God’s created order for everybody — such as the the one man-one woman sexual love described in Genesis and later endorsed by Jesus and Paul.

Any form of sexual brokenness is harmful precisely because it violates God’s good design which Jesus said was “from the beginning.” And because Scripture reflects the world as it actually is, the tragic results of sexual brokenness are evident not only in the Bible but throughout human history.

Folks, we must be thoughtful and thorough in our use of the Scriptures, and if you and click on this commentary, we’ll link you to several terrific resources to help you develop strong study skills.