Monday, December 31, 2012

Killing of the Innocents

Last week I saw a clip from a movie about the life of Jesus, one of the many shown each Christmas and Easter season. It is a disturbing part of the life of Jesus (Matthew 2:16-18) where King Herod orders the murder of all boys two years and younger. It is a prophetic echo from the prophet Jeremiah when he foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem hundreds of years prior to Herod (Jer 31:15). Herod orders the killing of these innocent children out of his own self-absorbed anger and jealousy. It was pure evil.

Reflecting on the recent evil killing of innocent children in Newtown, CT, I'm reminded how often such killing takes place unnoticed by the general population of the world. But it doesn't go unnoticed. Not by those parents, children, and communities who witness these atrocious and evil acts. Neither does it go unnoticed by God.

Monday, December 24, 2012


It is easy to lose focus and perspective when we get absorbed in one line of thought. Absorbed in a cause, a challenge, a debate, or an impassioned view of an issue. When you see the word government what comes to mind?

Currently, many issues may come to mind. For example, the recent violent murder of innocents at Newtown, CT, gun control and gun rights, the pending economic crisis and so-called cliff, international unrest, and so on.

But all of these are issues and concerns of human government. By now, as you read this on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you might be wondering, "What kind of Christmas message is this?!" "How about something uplifting and hopeful?" Exactly my point!

Monday, December 17, 2012


Once again, hearts are broken with news of the shooting tragedy in Newtown, CT. The senselessness of it. The inevitable question why? The conflicted feelings of hate, love, outrage, compassion, hurt, and compassion.

How does one make sense of it? We can't, not really. The brokenness and emptiness that gnaws at the heart of families who lost children outstrips words and attempts to console or explain. Sadly, some will seize the event as a platform to clamor for change, seek blame, pontificate, or sensationalize. But tragedies such as this bring opportunity for reflection and compassion.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Pop! The sound of a cork escaping the confines of a champagne bottle. The brilliant explosion of fireworks across a deep black sky. A splash of brilliant color on a stark white page. Even the sound of Rice Krisipies in a bowl when fresh milk is poured over them. (Are you old enough to remember the old jingle, "Snap! Crackle! and Pop!"?)

All of these catch our attention for different reasons. They're different than the norm. Well, maybe not the Rice Krispies. I've read and heard that writers, bloggers, journalists, speakers, pitch men (err, pitch-persons) are supposed to start their verbiage with some attention-getting hook—some type of "pop!"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Small Biz Missions

Last weekend—in between huge shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday—small businesses were spotlighted on Small Business Saturday. That's pretty tough competition. How do you compete with a stampede of "blowout deals" and stay-at-home shoppers who don't have to pay sales tax?

Last Sunday I visited a good-sized local church who were featuring a well-known, multi-million dollar international mission. From what I know, this mission is a good organization doing a good work in the name of Jesus. I laud the church and pastor for their enthusiasm and commitment in support of this kind of ministry.

Monday, November 26, 2012


What are you thankful for? Are you thankful? I know, Thanksgiving is past, but I thought I'd ask after all the hoopla of the weekend. Sadly, a holiday set aside for national gratitude and reflection has been usurped. It's typically referred to as T-Day or Turkey-Day and has become an excuse for excessive eating and spending, with a lot of football watching and beer drinking. 

It's easy to become cynical and pessimistic about the state of the world around us, which inevitably breeds the same in our heart and mind. It leaks out through our words and permeates our thinking. The only solution and resolve is choosing to be thankful—grateful for what is good in our life. This was the intent of the first national observance by President George Washington, and the later proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. [For more historical insight, check out Wikipedia's Thanksgiving link.]

Monday, November 19, 2012

Who's to Blame?

Over the past couple weeks, even months, the news media has broadcast stories where questions abound. The questions boil down to— Who's to blame for...? You can fill in the blank— the election, the Benghazi tragedy, the Hamas-Israeli conflict, and so on. After the tragedy of September 11th, a commission was set up to determine which government agency was at fault.

The blame game seems at an epidemic level in our nation, but it's not limited to us. And it's not a recent problem, nor is it cultural. It's a human problem and not going away anytime soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

At the Feet of Jesus

Last week someone wrote to call me out about a phrase I used, saying it seemed like Christianese. It was, but I did give a simple simile as explanation. But I thought it might be good to explain it a bit further. I said that if there's something you (anyone) is struggling with, "Lay it at the feet of Jesus." 

As I mentioned in my book, The Mystery of the Gospel, Christian believers tend to use a set of words and phrases laden with meaning, but not understood by others. Even believers who use these expressions don't understand all that is said. Christianese is a general term describing words, cliches, and expressions used by people in the Christian faith.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stop It! But How?

I'm a product of the Jesus Movement of the early 70's. This movement was characterized by the common saying, "It's not about religion, but relationship." It is a relationship based on trust, trust in Jesus. Trust, an implicit, all-encompassing trust, is another way of expressing the idea of faith (see Hebrews 11:6).

A couple weeks ago I looked at the dilemma many Christian believers have with trying to be good Christians. It requires a lot of self-effort to do so, but is counter productive to walking by faith, that is, trusting in God. And so, there is a struggle with how a believer can grow in faith and spiritual maturity without a good measure of self-effort.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Signing

Yesterday I had the privilege of sharing a message at my former home church and making my newly published book available. Because it was like "coming home" in many ways, I was asked to sign several of the books sold. It was a new and somewhat overwhelming experience.

It was also fun to reconnect with people my wife and I had built relationships with over the past several years. It was a privilege to share the message to the church family while their pastor (my good friend, Keith) was away doing ministry. They have been generous and faithful supporters for many years.

It was a busy weekend in many ways, so I'm behind in my usual posting. So, next week I'll resume the topic I left off from last week.

So far, I've gotten some good feedback from those who are reading through the book. If you haven't checked it out, here's the link– The Mystery of the Gospel. It's also available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but it benefits me a bit more if you get it at the Westbow site (and the e-book is only $.99!).

I'm hoping to get the book in some local places (in the Jacksonville, FL area). If you've read it and like it, please post a review of it (on the site you buy it from and on FaceBook, Twitter, etc.) and spread the word. Thanks!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Stop it!

Bob Newhart has a hilarious comedy skit as a psychiatrist. His therapy is a simple, two-word solution for problems—"Stop it!" If you've never seen it, click on the link ("Stop it!") for a good laugh, but keep reading!

If only solving life's problems were that simple! Well, in some ways it is. But, alas, many difficulties in life continue to trouble us. Why? Why don't we just stop doing some things, or start doing other things? The Apostle Paul addresses this in his letter to the Roman church (Rom 7:15-19).

Monday, October 15, 2012


The central focus of Scripture is God, and His personal relationship with humanity whom He created. This is seen with Adam, the first person, and Abraham, the patriarch of ancient Israel. God spared Noah and his family in the ark when He brought a global flood on the earth. God gave the Law to Moses to define the personal covenant (agreement) between Israel and Himself. God made a prophetic covenant promise to David, the great and beloved king and poet of Israel. And God’s desire for reconciliation with every person culminated in sending His One and Only Son, Jesus. 

An inherent responsibility rests upon every person in the world—to seek and know God personally. Every person is born with an innate desire for God. But along life’s way it can be displaced, to wither and die as a plant without water and sunlight. Who bears the responsibility for rescuing those who’ve lost this innate desire? God. And His means of doing this includes genuine believers as God’s agents of His kingdom.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beyond Emotion

Lately I've enjoyed some sweet times of worship on two different continents, in two churches (CCD | OCC), and within two cultures. Not only did I enjoy entering into worship, I loved watching it well up and pour out in response to God's presence. I saw people moved from passiveness, perhaps indifference, to passionate response.

Of course, some people are more passionate and demonstrative than others, not unlike at sporting events. You've probably seen cameras pan the crowd to focus on fans painted up and wearing outrageous outfits. But not all fans are like that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Faithfulness and the Future

This past month I had the privilege of teaching several young people in two courses at a Bible college. The study and work the students do is quite demanding. I helped one group learn how to study parables, and we studied the Book of Daniel in the other course. Daniel was a man whom God showed the future, and I was reminded that students like these are the future of the church.

I also enjoyed visiting with many alumni during the school's annual Founder's Day conference, and several others in a second meeting before I left. They naturally look to me for guidance as their former teacher, but it's they who encourage me when I see their faithfulness and vision for ministry.

Monday, September 24, 2012


It's always with a bit of sadness that I go from one home back to the other, especially when traveling solo. After 3 weeks in the Philippines, it's time to return to my family in Florda. I miss my wife, children and grandkids, but I will be leaving our extended family at Rainbow.

I return to my family but I also return to my job at a small manufacturing company. I'm thankful for my job. In the current economic climate everyone who has a job should be thankful. But it isn't the quite work I've done for most of my life, not what I'm known for within the Philippines.

Walking the path of faith requires trust—implicit trust in God—a confidence that the current circumstances of life are preparation for whatever is next in life.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Last night I enjoyed a great evening with some good friends whom I've known for more than 20 years. They are part of the community of believers I've been connected to in Dumaguete City (the central Visayan region of the Philippines), our home of 15 years. Food is usually found in almost every gathering of Filipino's, but it's the people gathered who are most important. It's one of the many things I love about Filipino culture and why this place (Dumaguete City) remains home to my wife, Susan, and I, along with our two daughters who spent 18 years here.
We have been part of the community at our church (Calvary Chapel Dumaguete City), the community within the ministry we founded and still oversee (Rainbow Village Ministries), and the greater community of Dumaguete City. This includes another ministry established in 1995 (CCTC) that I continue to be a part of, which extends beyond Dumaguete throughout the Philippines and into Thailand through the students I had the privilege of teaching over the years. The church, God's church, is not a building or institution, but an extended family—it's a community of believers.
I say all of this as an introduction to the following excerpt from my soon-to-be-available book (hopefully next month!). It's now at the printer, and I'll announce when it's available to the public! Thanks for reading, as always!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Challenge and Opportunity

This week I was blessed with the opportunity to teach in a cross cultural setting while here in the Philippines. Although most of the students were Filipino, I also had a few So Korean students. The Koreans want to learn English as a Second Language (ESL), as well as the Bible. A couple of my Filipino students are from the province (more rural areas), so their English skills are not as well developed as other students.

Once again I was reminded how communicating and teaching in a foreign (cross-cultural) setting is both a challenge and an opportunity. It's a challenge because words carry meanings and ideas, but these meanings and ideas don't travel well across different languages within their own cultures. This is the reality all cross-cultural missionaries face day in and day out. But it's also an opportunity to grow and develop, and hopefully be fruitful.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Spiritual Journey

Severe power outages crippled the Philippines in our first year there. Power outages continued in our city as more generating stations were built elsewhere. A geothermal plant in the mountains above us generates our island’s power. The steam is harvested from natural vents from a dormant volcano, a continual source of available energy. And yet, the power outages continued because of inefficient infrastructure to deliver the electric current. They were called brownouts because the power fluctuated so low that light bulbs and fans had too little power to run. Just before the outage, lights would dim and flicker before going out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What the World Needs Now

A popular song in the mid-sixties went, "What the world needs now—is love, sweet love..." sung by Jackie DeShannon [ for more info see–]. It's still one of my favorite songs from the sixties and the YouTube video (first link) captures the innocent hope of the sixties for a universal love. Another one of my favorites songs was by the Youngbloods called, "Get Together" [], which became somewhat of an anthem for the peace movement of the sixties. The sixties were a tumultuous time of expectant hope and altruistic (at first) belief in the goodness of humanity, with a divergent mix of protests and campus unrest, a war overseas, economic change, and a moral and spiritual vacuum.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Are You Ready?

In the book of Second Samuel, a messenger named Ahimaaz (A-hee-ma-oz) wanted to bring a message to King David. His father was an important priest named Zadok whom the King trusted. However, the news to be sent was not good, so King David’s general, Joab, chose to send a different messenger. In those days, certain messengers were sent based on the content of the message; one was sent when it was good news, another with bad news, and another who could bring either good or bad news. Ahimaaz was a messenger for good news.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Startling Event

On my first solo journey to Thailand I experienced a genuine sense of isolation. I traveled to other countries before and lived in the Philippines for many years, so being in a new environment didn’t bring this isolation. My family and I resided in the Philippines where English is spoken often, but I didn’t understand the Thai language. I moved through the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports smoothly because many signs were in English and most of the staff spoke broken English. But the airport was an international island within Thailand.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Hitchhiker and The Cross

On a hot summer day, I drove across the lower desert valley towards Palm Springs. In the lower desert, summer days can be exceptionally hot! Summer days in the southwestern desert of America are intense—like opening an oven set on high, then sticking your head inside it. If you’re out in that kind of heat it can do some harm! It dries you out quickly, causing heat stroke or worse.

I was a Christian believer involved with a nearby church and retreat ministry and spotted a hitchhiker along the road. I decided to have mercy on him. I also saw it as an opportunity to share my faith. He got in and we exchanged the usual greetings. As I drove, I asked him about his life and if he knew the Lord. I had plenty of witnessing experiences, but was unprepared for what unfolded.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Spiritual Encounter

During the sixties and seventies hitchhiking was common for young people searching for adventure or the meaning of life. An urban legend among the Jesus Generation featured an angel of God visiting people as a hitchhiker. The story goes like this—someone is driving along a road, spots a hitchhiker and stops to pick him up. As they travel along, the hitchhiker turns to the driver and announces, “The Lord Jesus is coming back soon!” In the next instant, the driver turns towards the hitchhiker but he’s vanished. The meaning of the story was simple—be ready for the Lord’s return! I did my share of hitchhiking in those days, and I picked up plenty of hitchhikers, but I never had this experience, nor could I verify the story of the visiting, hitchhiking angel.[i]

Monday, July 23, 2012

Planting or Transplanting?

This past week I shared a couple of posts I saw in Missions Frontiers on social media ( The first article speaks of 5 lessons American churches can learn from the Church Planting Movement (CPM) in the rest of the world ( The second is how these things can be adapted to work in American churches ( One addresses a need in typical American churches across the board (denominational and non-denominational), while the other gives examples and insights how these changes can be implemented.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our Story and God's Plan

The movie, “The Passion of Christ,” surprised many people with its success, especially its strongest critics. It’s vivid portrayal of Christ’s death stirred strong emotions and was spoken against by believers in Christ and nonbelievers. Its purpose and intention was misunderstood by many people.
Some spoke blasphemous, sacrilegious things about the movie and its content, while others saw it as sacred. It impacted all who saw it one way or another, shocked by the graphic portrayal of the suffering and death of Jesus the Messiah. Many were moved to great emotion both during and following their viewing of it, and it took a personal toll on the director-producer and the star who portrayed Jesus.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What Would Mom Do?

My wife returned from the Philippines this past week after six weeks. Nowadays we're blessed with the ability to communicate through Skype (when internet connection is sufficient), email, and texting. But it's great to have her home and by my side! We've been partners in life and ministry for forty years.

An element of our partnership is the agreement that I'm the spokesperson, the public persona of our relationship and ministry together. Adjustments have come over the years to how we relate to each other and even our roles at home. This was more apparent than ever while she was gone these past few weeks (overseeing our ministry in the Philippines). As I faced certain situations at home or with the family I often wondered, "What would Susan do?" And even asked my daughters when faced with domestic duties, "What does Mom do with...?"

Monday, July 2, 2012

God Speaks

I came of age during the tumultuous sixties. The Vietnam War began in the middle of that decade. Prior to this, America was immersed in a promising rise in economic power. The middle class’s growth was the engine that powered the American economy after decades of depression and wartime economies.
Along the way, America seemed to lose its soul. Social protests marked the latter end of the sixties and became a cultural undercurrent against racial injustice, materialism, and a war far from home. This undercurrent created a spiritual vacuum, and nature abhors a vacuum. It was quickly filled with a myriad of philosophies, religious movements, and lifestyles. The range was staggering—eastern religions and philosophies, a resurgence in witchcraft, experimentation with illicit drugs, communes, and along came the Jesus Movement that challenged the traditions and status quo of Christianity.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Scares You?

All of us have certain things that scare us. They may be things that "go bump in the night"—the vague, unknown and mysterious. Think of the continuing flow of alien and vampire stories in books, movies and TV series. Nowadays there are vampire romances! Think about it, would you want your daughter dating a vampire?! I don't think so.

Monday, June 18, 2012

God Came to Earth

A few years ago I flew into the modern airport of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I had never met Ayele, the young man who would become my friend and partner over the next couple weeks, as my guide and assistant in ministry. Though we had written back and forth many times, we hadn’t worked out our meeting at the airport. I knew he would greet me as I came out of the terminal, but how would I recognize him? No worries, he would recognize me—I would stand out as a lone Caucasian among the noble and handsome Ethiopians!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Core of the Gospel

Culture has an amazing impact upon people. It subtly shapes their worldview of everything in life, from birth through adulthood. This impact is strong and resistant to change, but it will change given sufficient cause. The change can be either good or bad depending on one’s worldview, values, or beliefs. For example, the enslavement of Africans, abducted and traded as if they were cattle, was culturally acceptable in European countries and America.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tapestry of the Gospel

Karen conference in N Thailand ©tkBeyond

Picture a tapestry woven with five different colors of thread. Choose some bold colors like red, blue, green, and perhaps some purple and gold. Or choose your own colors and imagine someone at a weaver’s frame with five different shuttles. The tapestry begins to take shape as the weaver moves the shuttles back and forth across the frame. It may take some time before you see the completed fabric, but when finished it will be bold and beautiful.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Is it Just Me?

Is it just me or is there an inordinate amount of overreaction nowadays? Last week I read (in our local sports section) that the wife of a LA Lakers player received a tweet that he hoped their family would be murdered. Why? Because her husband had missed a shot at the end of the game...a basketball game. It's not like the Lakers were doing that well any way, but this kind of reaction is way over the top.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Christian Language and Gospel Ignorance

A growing number of people in North America and Europe have no background or understanding of Christianity. One reason could be the great influx of immigrants from many nations. But an increasing segment of Western society has grown unengaged and uninterested in Christianity, the result of a shift in culture. America’s culture is becoming both post-modern and post-Christian. Many sources discuss this at length, but I won’t here.[i] Europe and Canada have preceded the US in this cultural shift, but America is not far behind. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Search

"The Tent Days" @ CCCM — circa early 70's
**During the sixties, I was part of the counterculture movement seeking spiritual truth. In the early seventies, I became part of the Jesus Movement.[i] This movement was neither organized, nor guided by any church or religious organization. It was the work of God in people searching for spiritual truth and encountering Jesus in a personal relationship. A common expression during that decade stated, “It’s not about religion, but relationship.” Young people, including those known as hippies who joined the developing counterculture during the 1960s, popularized the Jesus Movement.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How Do You Share the Gospel?

Over the past few years I've been writing and rewriting a book. I'm in the last major rewrite (hopefully) before I submit it for publication. I want to start posting some excerpts from time to time ahead of publication. So, here's an excerpt from the Introduction of the book...
How would you answer someone asking, “What is the gospel?”

Monday, April 30, 2012

Hasty Judgments, Wrong Assumptions

Katrina flooding in New Orleans–Win Henderson/FEMA
People, all of us, are quick to make judgments—we do this even without realizing it. It's more obvious whenever a great tragedy or disaster occurs—assigning blame and responsibility is all the rage, literally. The larger the event, the more blame is slung around. 

What concerns me most of all are the self-proclaimed prophets. Some foretell events that don't happen, while others are quick to claim it must be God's judgment. Depending on your own reactions, it's easy to fall into one camp or another of defending or blaming.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Problem with Judging

The presidential campaign is in full swing, and the political rhetoric and retorts are flowing. Whether it's candidates or pundits, party faithful or the peanut gallery, everyone's got something to say—most of it reactive. But it's not just politics, strong reactions and judgments abound on a myriad of issues—scandals, "stand your ground," militants and terrorism, religion, morality, and so on. Reaction and overreaction isn't limited to the public arena, it's been going on since humanity existed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

What Moves You?

This past weekend I had an interesting Saturday. It started off with a sweet, simple time of worship with a few young people at the beach, where our church met last Sunday for a sunrise service. It was a beautiful sunrise and an enjoyable way to begin the day. This past weekend our city hosted an annual Blues Festival. Musically, I cut my teeth playing the blues, so I look forward to this opportunity each year. But what a contrast of purpose.

At the Blues Festival, several bands played a diverse mix of blues music while people of all walks of life gathered to enjoy the music. Lots of beer is sold and drunk by people wearing questionable attire while gyrating to the music. It wasn't pretty. As a young friend of mine characterized it, "It was like a hippie-fest, the bad kind of hippie." But...that's what moved them—the blues music, the beer, and the fantasy of days long gone.

Monday, April 9, 2012


This past weekend was an important time of remembrance for Christian believers. Depending on how traditional one is, it can begin with observing Lent (40 days of fasting), Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Easter). And don't forget Passover, which has great significance for looking at the Gospel story through a Jewish perspective.* It's the precursor to the Christian observance of communion, and gives a greater depth of meaning to Christ's death on the Cross. The most important lens of perspective is celebrating the Lord's resurrection from the dead. I especially love sunrise services!

Monday, April 2, 2012

What Should We Do?

When John the Baptist began preaching and challenging the status quo of his day, he caused quite a stir. Nowadays it's called revival. He was a non-conformist, an independent preacher. But he was not self-ordained, he had a prophetic call upon his life—even before his conception (Luke 1:13-17). His role in life and ministry was preparing people for the coming Messiah. When he preached—and it was strong preaching—people listened and responded (Luke 3:3-9). After hearing the strong words of John's message the people's response was simple—"What should we do?" (Luke 3:10 GW).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Learning, Listening, Leading

Last week I bandied about some thoughts on WWJD and my own acronym WDJD. This week I'm looking at what got me thinking about all this. The point of last week's post is not wondering what Jesus would do in a given situation, but learning what He did do. The Gospels reveal plenty of situations applicable to those arising in our own lives each day.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Several years ago there was a flood of WWJD merchandise on the market. The WWJD stands for "What Would Jesus Do?" It's based on the classic Christian book, In His Steps, by Charles M Sheldon. The book recounts a whole town brought into revival because people began asking themselves this question in the process of daily life. It's been a while since I've read it, but the author, the pastor of a church, challenged himself and his congregation to live out the Gospel in their daily lives by answering this question. The book started out as a message preached in 1896. It's well worth the read if you haven't already done so.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Exceptions to the Rule

Ever wonder where certain expressions and sayings come from? I do. I often look up the origin of sayings I hear, many times finding that the expression is being used in a wrong or unintended way. One of those expressions that gets used differently than its original form goes something like, "that's an exception to the rule." Wikipedia explained it this way, "The exception [that] proves the rule" is a frequently confused English idiom. The original meaning of this idiom is that the presence of an exception applying to a specific case establishes that a general rule existed. []

Monday, March 5, 2012


I don't do a lot of driving, but there are a few routes I take pretty often in and out of town. While driving I've observed a common behavior that at first perturbed me, and then gave way to some pondering.

I noticed how people would line up in a lane, sometimes miles before necessary, to exit onto another road or offramp. This seems to hold true for right or left-hand turns. Of course, this impedes traffic and causes congestion along the way. But this is not a post about traffic habits, it's an observation on life—and faith.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Heart of Redemption

There are many biblical truths that are only known in what I call Bible talk—words and phrases directly taken from the Scriptures. No problem with doing that, the Scriptures are the foundation for our faith being grounded in truth. The problem comes when they are used as if everyone does or should understand them, but no clear understanding is given of these Bible terms, words and phrases. Redemption is one of those terms that gets repeated often, but I wonder if it's understood very well. What is redemption from God's point of view? What does it mean for us as humans?

It's not too hard to find a dictionary definition for redemption, there's plenty of online sources for that. I like looking at things a little more "organically," that is, understanding things from a more natural sense. One way to do this is looking at the biblical context of a word. But this may lead to more Bible talk where words stay hidden in a theological form. For instance, Ephesians 1:7 gives a specific working definition right within its own context. It says that redemption comes "through His blood" and results in "the forgiveness of our trespasses," declaring that it is a work of God's great grace.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Altar or Throne? (3)

I hope those who have followed the past two posts have thought about this simple, yet vague question—altar or throne? It is easy to oversimplify and generalize some truth, making it trivial. Yet, I have found simple questions useful in stirring up thought. My basic philosophy of learning is that unless a person (myself included!) struggles to think something through—that is, process it—they won't fully understand it or internalize it.

Let me review a couple main points. The presentation of gospel truth (the good news) is most often given in bits and pieces within a western cultural context. Yet a cursory review of the New Testament (NT) reveals the gospel is presented in five narratives— 4 Gospels and a history of the early church (Acts). The remainder of NT books is the explanation of this gospel narrative for those unfamiliar with the larger narrative of God's Story, as it unfolds throughout the Bible. Even the last book, Revelation, is a heavenly narrative of how God's Story will conclude at the end of the Age.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Altar or Throne? (2)

Last week I started looking at what may seem an anomaly, but is more typical than we'd like to accept. "We" being Christian believers who hold the Bible as authoritative in matters of faith. Over the past few years there's been a cultural shift within the church in America, impacting both beliefs and practices. This has been addressed by many, and in one instance given a term—moralistic therapeautic desim. Here's a link that explains that term—

The real issue is the impact this has on people in the church. What people belive is directly connected to how they live. Not what a person professes as beliefs, but what is held in the heart, that's what affects behavior. You've likely heard the expression, "do as I say, not as I do," but the reality is that actions speak louder than words. Perhaps the question to answer is—Why is there a disconnect between what is believed and how one lives?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Altar or Throne?

Recently I was in So Thailand for some teaching ministry for a couple weeks. If you didn't know already, Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist nation, and Buddhism breeds and thrives on animistic belief. One look around at all the "spirit houses" and altars (shrines) erected throughout the nation makes this clear. It is difficult to preach the Gospel in Thailand and see genuine conversion.

Being in another culture different than your own helps you see things from a different perspective—one of the values of cross-cultural missions among other things. In a sense, I have two home cultures—American and Filipino. Although they are quite different from each other—one is western and the other eastern philosophically—there is a vast difference between both of them and Thai culture, which is Buddhist. Or is there?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things I'll Miss...

Having lived and worked (ministry service) in the Philippines for fifteen years, it will always be home to Susan and I. We have a nice home in our home country (culture) and all of our children and grandchildren live nearby. We enjoy our church body and the area we live in. But there are many memories and relationships that are still an important part of our life here (Dumaguete City, Philippines).