Wednesday, April 29, 2009

pedro the rooster

This is Pedro, the rooster residing in the antiquities center in LaGrange, GA. Who knew? This was an eye-opening experience. This place, as random as it seems to be located in western Georgia, is a great resource for understanding more about Jewish culture and the context in which Jesus lived. From examples of housing, shepherding, family burial traditions, meals, food, culture -- it was well worth the hour we spent there. Not to mention, Josh stepped in Pedro's poop. Good thing there was a well in the middle of the courtyard. Want to learn more? Check it out.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Research indicates out of the global increase of Christians every day - 77,000 worldwide - 91% or 70,000 can be found in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Friday, April 24, 2009

hope makes the difference

Suicide tops Shanghai student-killer list (April 23, 2009, Xinhua)
Universities in Shanghai will offer more help to young people suffering from depression after a report showed suicide has now become the No. 1 cause of death among students. A study by Shanghai Education Commission released on Tuesday found 23 college students in the city attempted to take their own lives last year, while 19 succeeded. It put suicide ahead of acute diseases, traffic accidents and fires in the list of main causes of death.

This news brief reminds me of the reality that my friend Biscuet talked about on his blog.The campus in Beijing where he teaches, has experienced this tragedy in recent weeks. Read his perspective.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

they will tell... what?

Psalm 145 says, "One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty...they will tell of the power of your awesome works...they will tell of the the glory of your kingdom... so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom."

No one is born with sound theology. It truly is a mantle of responsibility for every generation to pass along the full story of who Jesus is and what He has done and how by grace we are ushered into to his unstoppable kingdom. Is it possible that "discipleship" has been based on our own cultural values + Jesus?

What will you tell the next generation?

When did the clear, direct, commission to "therefore go and make disciples of all nations" become the exception for but a relative few? When did the "calling to go" become far more difficult to discern than the assumption to stay. No sooner than I type these words, does the thought of "is this an extreme view?" cross my mind. But -- it crosses my mind not because of Scripture, but because of culture. I am so used to thinking about myself. We all are. We blind one another with self-centered worldviews. Someone recently shared that many American Christians have been inoculated with Jesus. We have "enough" of Jesus, to no longer need Jesus, or be consumed by Him.

Culture says: Stay. Consume. Acquire. Amass. Be comfortable. Compartmentalize. Build monuments. Limit your sacrifice. Calculate risks. Consider others after you consider yourself. Make a name for yourself.

Scripture says: Go. Be Consumed. Give. Help others. Store up treasures in heaven. Do not worry about comfort. Offer all of you life. Raise ebenezers. Downward mobility. Love others like you love yourself. Make the name of Jesus great.

The gospel changes everything. If we are convinced that one died for all -- then we can no longer live for ourselves. The redeemed must reflect the Redeemer -- for the joy of ALL peoples in Christ. I understand freedom. I get "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" -- but our freedom in Christ, should align with the values of Christ. Clearly - He is building a church of all peoples. So, if there are billions of peoples, from other languages, cultures, and nations WITHOUT THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL -- have we misappropriated our freedom?
  • How many Christians do you know have an understanding of the progress of the gospel around the world?
  • How many Christians do you know can name countries where believers are persecuted for their faith?
  • How many Christians do you know have an understanding of the 10/40 window?
  • How many Christians do you know understand the state of the Church in North Africa? Southeast Asia? Mongolia? Indonensia? Iceland? France? Iraq?
A couple resources that I continue to find helpful in my own journey with these questions are:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

the best news ever - part 2.

What should we say, then? Should we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.


After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Friday, April 10, 2009

the best news ever - part 1.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" it is as you say," Jesus replied. "Yes" When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered."What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"

Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said.
They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.

Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

this encourages me.

The new grace campus site went live 3 weeks ago. Since then, we have seen visitors from 31 states in the US and 15 countries around the world.

Over the years - April and I have boiled down our life's goal into the following sentence:
To lead this generation to live in light of grace for the glory of his Name.

Why? Because the behind the name of Jesus is life, hope, power, truth, grace, love, peace, joy, and satisfaction. What other name means so much? Matters so much? Changes so much?

My prayer for all who encounter our staff team and leadership -- is a deepened love for Jesus.

Does this encourage anyone else?

From the U.S.
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • New York
  • California
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Colorado
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Virginia
  • DC
  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Oklahoma
  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Washington
  • Nevada
  • Kansas
  • Utah
  • Arizona
  • Minnesota
  • Hawaii
  • Vermont
  • South Dakota

Around the world:
  • Hong Kong
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • Spain
  • China
  • Peru
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Philippines
  • Uganda
  • New Zealand
  • Colombia
  • Japan

Saturday, April 04, 2009

a dove named shelly

I am not a bird expert, but I'm pretty sure this is a dove that is living about 4 feet from our door. She has built a nest in this planter. We were all outside playing the other night, and decided we needed to name her. The boys and I suggested to April egg-shell. Cute, I know. We were overruled. 1 to 4. The compromise of egg-shell? Shelly.

She is living in perfect peace apparently, even though the door opens 100 times a day, with relentless sword fights, army men, and whiffle balls flying nearby courtesy of our wild ones. Yet, she is there.

April sees this little bird as a reminder of God's faithfulness for our family because at this point, we still don't know exactly where we are going to live in HK. I know that weighs on her heart as a mom, but we are living in this verse these days, "You will keep him in perfect peace (shalom shalom) whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You." Isa 26:3

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Jesus in Matthew 6:25-27.

Friday, April 03, 2009

big rocks first.

Live life with the end in mind. I shared this thought with our team earlier this week, and can see the benefits of living in this mindset already. There have been so many reminders in my life lately to live for what matters most.

To further focus the idea, not just what matters most to me, but ultimately what matters most eternally. So, in thinking forward and desiring freedom - we have made some subtle shifts in our home this week.

It is the whole idea of putting the big rocks first, and seeing that the little rocks will still fit in (and the terrible irony of what happens when the little rocks hinder the big ones from fitting in).

Here are a couple examples:
People before projects.
Conversation before technology.
Interaction before entertainment.

The result affirms what Jesus says... "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."