Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Party

Wednesday, December 31

6:00 Pm to 1:00 AM

Movies, Pizza, Games, Midnight Worship, and MORE

Bring $10 to cover Pizza and something special for the beginning of 2009!

A Prayer for Year's End


Let me share again today a prayer from The Valley of Vision that great collection of Puritan prayers. This one seems appropriate as we approach the end of another year and look forward to the year beyond.

O Love beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Joey Update Vol. 7

Merry Christmas everyone! We are getting chilly weather over here too actually (and while we didn’t quite get snow, we DID have a bunch of locusts fly overhead the other day, which if you use your imagination and squint just right- still doesn’t quite equal snow)

Anyway, my month has gone well overall. There have been the usual ups and downs of language learning and meeting people. These go with good days and bad days. A verse we happened upon in house kanisa has kept returning to my mind these past weeks. I will share it here: “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zech. 4:10a) This is encouraging to me when those days come when I have been sick or tired. It is important to remember that our Father is still working when we are unable. It is in fact all His work and my part in it all is His grace. We’ve been studying 2 Cor. In house kanisa and one of the last verses has become my memory verse: “Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” In recent weeks I have tried to do just this and He has been faithful to bless me in it.

Last week, I was walking around, and found two guys sitting outside their house. They happened to speak N. and I told them I was here to learn their language and would like to meet others who speak it. Somehow or another, an opportunity opened and I took it to share my story and the Story. People gathered around to hear, as they usually do whenever I stop anywhere- being one of the few nasara in town has its advantages. It was not a dramatic experience that day, but as I have been reminded, the work is His and not mine. How will I know in years to come how much our Father has done through the time I spent here, or the time you all have spent lifting the work up? Perhaps when we stand in Glory, we shall see there many from this very people group who might say to me, “Remember that time you told me the Story and you thought I wasn’t listening? Well, the Father used it in my life like this…” I look forward to having those conversations and praising His name, who can work in seemingly insignificant ways to bring about such change.

The Day when we will see Him is closer now than it has ever been. And the work still is great. Thank you for being moved by the Lord to participate in finishing the Task. Thank you for your prayers and fastings, for your encouragement to me and your giving to the work I am doing. One day the work shall be finished but until then, we press on together with Him, until the end.

The Hamdu’s:

-There are many long term workers who have joined us in the field here and they have been arriving safely- I think our Father’s on the move in this place.

-Many new relationships have opened up and old ones have deepened. I’ve gotten a few more chances to share the Story!

-Christmas is here and is providing opportunities to share why we celebrate it.

The Dua’s:

-Please lift up a Story trip happening next month, that He would go before them and prepare all hearts to listen.

-Please lift up sound health for our team so that there be no distractions from the work.

-Deepening of these new relationships and further opportunities to share.

-Further lang. learning.

I hope that the joy of this season would find you and abide with you into the new year. I hope your families are well and that the time spent with them is peaceful and blessed, not rushed. A Merry Christmas to you all.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Funny or Not? Vo. 11


We are headed to vacation early tomorrow morning and then it's CHRISTMAS!!!

So, here is the upcoming schedule:

No Flood Zone Dec 14 or 21

No Deep End Dec 17 or 24

See you all at worship on the 21st, then at flood zone on the 28th and the new year's party on the 31st!

Proverbs Part XIII-From Hot Head to Cool Cucumber

Heading to vacation in the morning, so just a quick outline recap of what we learned last night about how to avoid anger and why we should root anger out of our lives:

The Art of the Anger Free Response:

1. The Slow Response...
a. Ignores (Proverbs 12:16)
b. Waits for understanding (Proverbs 14:29-30)
c. Brings Peace (Proverbs 15:18)
d. Stops and Thinks (Proverbs 15:28)
e. Controls the Situation (Proverbs 16:32)
f. Submits to God’s Authority (Proverbs 20:22; 24:29; Romans 12:19-21)

2. The Soft Response...
a. Diffuses (Proverbs 15:1; 29:8)
b. Shows Restraint (Proverbs 17:27)
c. Limits Venting (Proverbs 29:11)
Note: This does not mean we should bottle up our feelings. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will bring us to the point of realizing that our feelings are deceptive! Only vent when it won’t cause “residual anger” and to someone you can trust just to listen and not rile you back up; walk away for a minute and pray; quote scripture to yourself;

3. The Shelter Response...
a. Covers sin with love (Proverbs 17:9; 1 Peter 4:8)
b. Protects Unity (Proverbs 17:9)
c. Forgives (Proverbs 19:11)
d. Avoids (Proverbs 20:3)

Why we should avoid anger:

1. Hard to stop a fight once it starts-Proverbs 17:14
(Here is a fun video for your viewing pleasure illustrating how hard it is even for a boxing ref to stop a fight once it gets started)

2. Brings Discipline-Proverbs 19:19; 18:6-7-mouth of a fool invites a beating and ensnare the soul

3. Ends Relationships-Proverbs 22:10-11-need to remove the one who causes anger from the relationship

4. Anger spreads easily-Proverbs 22:24-25-hang around people given to anger & become like them!

5. Breeds Sin (in you and others)-Proverbs 17:19; 29:22-angry people cause other people to sin

What about You?
What are those times in your life that you find it easy to respond in anger. Start by writing down some specifics. Pray that the Holy Spirit will remind you of the things we have talked about tonight as you find yourself in those “anger making” situations.

This week, as school wraps up, and in the next couple of weeks with the excitement, but weariness of the holidays, determine to have a slow, soft, and sheltered response to your parents, teachers, siblings, and friends in every irritating and anger producing situation. You have to start somewhere if you want the holy spirit to remove anger from your heart!

Proverbs Part XII-The Wagging Tongue

Just a quick recap of the type of Tongue we should pray the Holy Spirit to grow in our lives and the type of Tongue we want to avoid (all references are from Proverbs):

The Tongue You Don’t Want-the tongue of the wicked and the fool
lacks a place with God-cut off (10:31-32; 10:20)
only know perverse things (10:31-32)
uncaring of other people-belittling, slandering, revealing secretes (11:12-13, 18:8; 20:19; 10:11 )
lacks sense (10:19; 11:12-13)
break the spirit (15:4)
brings itself under discipline (14:3; 10:14)
cuts & destroys (12:6; 12:18; 16:27-28)

The Tongue You Do Want-the tongue of the righteous and the wise
express wisdom (10:31-32; 15:7)
Knows what is acceptable to God (10:31-32)
Cares about other people (11:12-13; 12:6; 13:3)
brings healing and gladness (10:11; 12:18; 12:25
Knows what to say and when to say it (15:23; 25:11
Better proves it’s point (25:15)
keeps out of trouble (10:19; 21:23
Holds great value (10:20)

She Must & Shall Go Free Part X: Beloved Part II

Here are the lyrics to Derek Webb's song Beloved

Beloved these are dangerous times
Because you are weightless like a leaf from the vine
and the wind has blown you all over town
Because there is nothing holding you to the ground

So now you would rather be
A slave again than free from the law

Beloved listen to me
Don't believe all that you see
and don't you ever let anyone tell you
That there's anything that you need
But me

Beloved these are perilous days
When your culture is so set in it's ways
That you will listen to salesmen and thieves
Preaching other than the truth you’ve received

Because they are telling lies
For they cannot circumcise your hearts

Beloved there is nothing more
No more blessings and no more rewards
Than the treasure of my body and blood
Given freely to all daughters and sons

I see this song as a warning to the church of what can happen when we remove scripture from it's proper place in our lives. We talked last week about the 3 ways we can deal with scripture: ignore it, remove it from situations in our lives that don't conform to scripture, or keep it as the centerpoint of our lives removing the parts of our lives that don't conform to scripture. What happens when we ignore scripture altogether or just when it's convenient for us?

1. Source Separation (John 15:4-5)-Jesus, the vine, is the true source of Truth and Life revealed in and through Scripture. If our lives are removed from the Word of God, they are removed from the source of Truth and Life.

2. Living Foundationless (Hebrews 2:1)-Pay closer attention to what you have heard/learned so you do not drift away from it. If you are not anchored in the word you are susceptible to every current of this world.

3. “Re-slavery” (Galatians 5:1) It is for freedom Christ has set us free
-Freedom in Christ when tied to the vine or anchored to Truth
-removing yourself from the vine or pulling up the anchor leave you completely at the mercy of unstable and incalculable currents and winds which have no rhyme, no reason, and no hope to bring you back to a place of safety and security.
-leads to death-how many leaves remain alive when they fall from the branch? NONE
-Ship is destined to smash against the rocks if it is adrift
-a life removed from THE vine, Jesus, is removed from its source of life
-a life that is not anchored in Truth is destined to smash against the rocks of false teaching/

4. Culture Dominance (2 Timothy 4:3)-We listen to this because we like to have our “ears tickled”. Those teachings are not consistent...culture is constantly it leaves us in a race to “keep up” and “stay cool and relevant” but it does nothing to move us toward holiness (“cannot circumcise our hearts"...cut away the parts of our heart that is not pleasing to God).

5. Syncretism (Galatians 1:6-10; Colossians 2:8-10)

6. Importance Reordering (2 Peter 1:3-7) We forget what matters most. Jesus is all we need so instead of working so hard toward the desires/passions of this world, work toward those desires/passions of God-faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love. The greatest need everyone has is Jesus...yes, they may be hungry, but a biscuit will not get them to heaven. Our actions in the name of Jesus to feed them will lead them to Truth.

What can result in your life from these 6 things?

No Witness, no joy, no real success, no direction, no hope for the future, no freedom from sin, no uniqueness,

Check your life and see if any of these characteristics we’ve studied tonight are present. If they are then you need to rethink the way you are dealing with scripture in your life and hear the warning and challenge of this song:

Beloved listen to me
Don't believe all that you see
and don't you ever let anyone tell you
That there's anything that you need
But me

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Joey Update Vol. 6

Hey Guys...remember that our Flood Zone snack purchases go to help support Joey in this ministry. Please continue to give as you can. You can see how great his needs are!

Hello everyone and happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope each of your Turkey Days were spent with family and that the times were good. I also celebrated Thanksgiving (we even had turkey and pumpkin pie!) and I thank God for you; each of you God has used in some way to bless me greatly.

I went into the capital for Thanksgiving where among other things, I had to plan for the next few months for village time and travel to training outside the country. With the Onestory project, I need to attend training sessions that are outside the country because Onestory does what is called “Just in Time” training. It basically breaks the two to three year project span into smaller chunks and at the trainings, I will be taught what I’ll need to focus on for the next three to six months. My current chunk is spent learning language and culture and meeting native speakers to practice what I’m learning. Over the course of the project there are about five training sessions I’ll attend, all of which will be held outside my country.

I have my first training session in Amsterdam at the beginning of February. My next session is in April. This February training concerns CPM training and how to plant groups of Followers among my people group. My people do not have a written language yet and so it is necessary to be with them and put the stories in their language so they can meet together and grow in the Way. When this style of training has been used in other areas, the results were tremendous, seeing thousands of groups started in one people group in the course of just two or three years. If you would like more information, you can visit :

In order to attend these trainings, I need to be able to finance the travel and cost of staying for two to three weeks at a time. The amount I need in order to do this will be $1200 for the February training and another $1200 for the April. I want to ask you all pray about giving an extra amount this Christmas season to ensure that I have the money necessary to go to these trainings next year. These will each be a one time expense, so $2400 means that if 24 people give $100 one time, I will be able to go. Or 48 people giving $50 or 5 giving $500 each. Another factor is that since I will need the money before February to buy my ticket, I would like to have it by January 15th. It would also be necessary for me to buy my April ticket when I am in the capital because when I return from Amsterdam, I will stay out in the village from then until April ideally.

Please continue to lift me up. Also, please write to me at this address or call me (011 235 944 6349) because it is very encouraging to hear from you. I would love to tell you personally how the prayers you are praying for me are being answered by our Mighty One.

This letter is written in faith that He hears our prayers and in faith that you too have all heard my upcoming need. Thank you all for your support of this project by your prayers and faithful giving and your support of me by your encouragement along the way! I pray you all may be encouraged because He is on the move. And I follow close at His heels.

In His name and for His sake,


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Bowl Photos

Congrats to the Ewoks for their 61-27 blowout win over the Warriors on Sunday. The Ewoks scored the most points in the history of the Turkey bowl. Enjoy the pics!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 3

From Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney, on the Crucifixion:

It would be necessary for Him to die even if it were for your sin alone or my sin alone. That's why you and I are fully responsible for this tragic death. As John Stott wisely observed, "Until you see the cross as that which is done by you, you will never appreciate that it is done for you."

Luther said that we all carry in our pocket His very nails. Are you aware of those nails in your possession?

Mahaney, C.J. Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing. 2006. Sovereign Grace Ministries. Page 90.

Funny or Not? Vol. 9

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Proverbs Part XI-Generosity (Proverbs 3:27-28; 22:22-23)

Do you find generosity easy? What do you relate generosity to: giving money to those in need or passing off some of your rarely worn clothes to Goodwill? Is the generosity you display a biblical generosity or a selfish generosity? Is generosity really that important for the church.

Jesus describes the actions of the righteous in Matthew 25:31-46. Generosity is an EXPECTED CHARACTERISTIC of the followers of Christ. Generosity is an illustration of the faith we have in Christ. But what does real generosity look like? Is generosity only necessary when it's convenient for us or when we feel like it or should it be more consistent? Proverbs 3:27-28 shows us three characteristics of true generosity:

1. Real Generosity is Simple (v27): Real generosity does not have to be a big deal or require some sort of special insight, knowledge or grace. Real generosity keeps it simple and can be accomplished "when it is in your power to do it." Real generosity can be as simple as helping someone load their groceries in their car and returning the cart or giving someone a quarter when they are a little short on change at the newspaper stand. Generosity is simple and the opportunity for generosity is all around us.

2. Real Generosity is Immediate (v27): I remember a poster I once had that said "Don't do today what you can put off until tomorrow." This is how we often live our lives, in a cycle of procrastination. This procrastination bleeds over into our generosity. When we see an opportunity for generosity we make excuses or say, "I'll help later." True biblical generosity is immediate, setting aside our selfishness for the sake of another and for the name of Christ.

3. Real Generosity is Indiscriminate (v28): To whom do you find generosity easy? To whom do you find generosity difficult? What about an enemy: could you be generous to them? What about generosity toward someone who seems to have every advantage this world has to offer? True generosity does not discriminate based on need, race, or relationship.

True generosity is beneficial to the giver. Proverbs discusses several ways that we benefit from living generously:

1. Reap what you sow (Prov 11:24-26)
-Giving to the poor is giving to God and he will repay (Prov 19:17)
-Ignoring the poor is ignoring God and we too will be ignored (Prov 21:13)-we will have provision when we are in need
2. Generosity Honors God (instead of insulting him) (Prov 14:31)
3. Even simple everyday generosity will be blessed (Prov 22:9)
4. No lack or want (Prov 28:27)

So, what opportunities do you have to be generous? What is your potential generosity? Think beyond money and clothes and examine your talents, your time, your space, your abilities. You can be generous to your classmates with your knowledge on a subject by offering to help them study. You can be generous to your church family by sharing your talents and gifts in serving the church. You can be generous to your neighbor with your strength by helping them with yard work or moving furniture. You can be generous with your time by offering to help mom clean the house instead of watching TV.

How can you put the potential generosity into practice TODAY?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Joey Update Vol. 5

Sesigeh lunjemge!

This last month has been passing more than pleasantly for the most part. There have been many changes with people coming and going, and yet other things, like language learning, have been chugging steadily along.

There are certain costly lessons that will come from living here. These for the most part are rather harmless but still they are things that would not be wise to repeat. One such instance here is the costly lesson of clothing. Clothes make the man here. It is a lesson I for one have particular struggles with. One day I decided to wear my kaptani and kadamul, the normal clothes of those living here. The kadamul is a long strip of cloth to be used to wrap into a turban. I’ve been experimenting with various styles and one day I wrapped the whole thing up on my head close to the Indian style, I’d guess. However, here it is how people in the Sud. wear their turbans and our house guard called me the president of the Sud.! He has continued to call me this jokingly even though it happened only once and that weeks ago.

The main lesson this taught me is that the impression I make on people will last far beyond when I have long forgotten it. When I walk down the street, what do people think? What do they see in me? It serves to remind me of why I am here and helps broaden my scope of the work I am doing here. It would be a good thing, after two years or so, to have a finished product that is getting used widely, but perhaps this will not be my main impact here. It might be that my friends and neighbors will remember, “that time we sat under the ligdabi and drank tea together” and this might have more far reaching implications than even the finished product.

Now the news, an Am. team came into town to work in the clinic and some were dentists. All the time the were here, word had spread around the town here that there was a “tooth doctor” in town and people flocked to the clinic. The lines were so long that the doctors often worked into the night after the clinic had officially closed. They are still the talk of the town even though they have since returned home.

More on our side of things, we had a visitor stay with us who has studied our language for years. It was a good time spent with him and we both got to meet lots of people in our neighborhood and create a stir in the market. After all it is not everyday that three white guys show up who can speak a language that not even everyone in our village speaks! It was a fun time had by all and very enriching too.

The Hamdu’s:

-We have steady power! It was just installed yesterday in fact and all is well. This means I’ll be able to check and send emails and updates more frequently.

-My camera arrived safe and sound. Thanks John for getting that for me.

-That many more relationships seem to be opening before us after this week. Relationships are key here.

The Dua’s:

-We will be traveling to the capital at the end of next week so please Ask for good travel

-Harley, has almost finished paying back the money that he took, but Ask for repentance and restoration for him.

-*Please lift this up and keep it in continual practice: Please consider giving an extra gift of support this month because in the village I have to take all the money I’ll need for the next couple months from the capital at once and in cash. Specifically, I need to buy a ticket to AMS for Feb, while I am in the capital next week. This might be around $2000. Then I will need to withdraw about that much again to stay in the village until then. I will only be in NDJ for a week, so I’ll be spending Christmas in the village too. Also, on this request, please also ask for my good stewardship of this large amount of cash (curtailing theft by friends, etc.).

In looking over my last update, I find, as I have found in times past, that all the Dua’s of last month have turned into the Hamdu’s of this month and more! Our Father is being wonderful to me and is enriching our time here and pouring out the blessings as fast as we can receive them. Thank you all for joining me in this excellent work of transforming the Requests into the Praises! I hope to hear back from each of you to touch base after what seems a long absence. I long to hear how our Father has been with you all and what big things He’s gotten you into.

Shekarisigeh! Kanisage salaamkisigeh!

(Thank you all! The chur(hes greet you!)


She Must & Shall Go Free Part IX: Beloved Part I

Why do we continue to put on the old-self even after Christ has freed us from our slavery to sin and dressed us in royal robes, the new-self? One major reason we choose to dress ourselves in the "old-self" comes from the way we deal with scripture in our lives.

3 Ways we Deal with Scripture

1. Ignore it altogether: One way we deal with scripture is to not deal with it...just ignore it completely. When this happens we have no basis for understanding what the old-self is or how to keep from dressing ourselves in it. This way of dealing with scripture, for Christians, is completely unacceptable and totally removed from who we claim to be in Christ.

2. Filter Scripture through culture: In this way of dealing with scripture we compare what the Word says to the culture around us and the way we live our lives and remove or ignore the parts of the Bible that don't match with the way we want to live. We remove the parts that make us uncomfortable, that offend us or the people around us, or the parts that we just don't like because they keep us from doing what we want.

3. Filter culture through Scripture: This process involves examining the culture we live in and the way we live our lives in light of scripture and removing the parts of our life that do not match with the Word of God.

We do this everyday. When we decide to gossip we are filtering scripture through culture. When we choose to honor the purity of the girls around us we filter culture through Scripture. When we respect those in authority over us we filter culture through Scripture. When we help others just for what we may get out of it we filter Scripture through culture.

But, why does it matter how we deal with scripture? The more we filter scripture out of our everyday life, the further form Truth we will be and the less we will be tied to the life producing vine, Jesus Christ.

So, maybe you have a question about something in your life; whether you are filtering scripture through your culture so you can continue in that activity. Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself regarding that activity to find out if it is something you should continue in.
(Thanks to Dr. Keith Eitle for this information during seminary classes in 2001)

5 Questions to See if we are Filtering Culture or Scripture:

1. Does it violate any clear teaching of Scripture? (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

2. Does it destroy any part of your body (physically, mentally, or spiritually)? (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

3. Does it cause someone around you to be hindered from coming closer to Christ?
(1 Corinthians 8:8-13)

4. Does it violate the express will/desire of someone who has Biblical authority over you?
(Ephesians 6:5-10)

5. Does it glorify God?
(Can you honestly ask God to bless your actions, relationships, attitudes, etc.?) (1 Corinthians 10:31)

If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions then you need to rethink your involvement.

Examine areas of your life where an improper dealing with scripture may be leading you to "put on the old-self" and a return to the slavery of sin. Maybe it's your relationship with your girlfriend/boyfriend. Maybe you just do enough to get by in school instead of working to the glory of God. Maybe you are illegally downloading music from the internet or illegally making copies of friends' music. Maybe you are using your computer in a way that is disobedient to your parents' desires. Maybe you always speed on a particular road because "there are never any cops." Maybe you live with bitterness, anger, or discrimination in your heart.

Whatever it is for you, filter it through scripture and throw out whatever doesn't match with the Word of God.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Contemplate & Consider Vol. 2

From Living the Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney

Have you ever considered how thoroughly most of us live by our feelings today--how feelings-focused we are? IN a typical day, how often do you make decisions and evaluate reality based primarily on your emotions at the moment...

Our common tendency is to habitually begin with the internal, the subjective, the experiential, then use those feelings and impressions to determine what we'll accept as being objective fact. We let our feelings tell us what's true, instead of letting the truth transform our feelings...

We even explain our daily choices by saying, "I feel good about this, or, "I had a bad feeling about it." It's the fundamental mindset with which we approach practically everything. It's how we live.

We're conditioned to this approach not only by our sin but also by our culture, which incessantly entices us to "follow your heart" and do whatever makes us feel good--along with the flattering assurance that nonstop feeling good is something we absolutely deserve!

It would be fine to follow our feelings if we could always be sure they're faithful to reality. But they aren't; their perspective on reality typically has huge blind spots. As a result, our emotions are flighty, fickle, and far too easily dominated by any number of influences--spilled coffee at breakfast, a traffic stall when you're running late, a cutting comment from a coworker. Our feelings cannot be trusted.

Even when it comes to our spiritual life, at any given moment we direct and locate our faith in our emotion state rather than in clearly objective truth...

It happens frequently, for example, in our corporate worship. As people around us sing words expressing profound gratitude to Jesus for His death on our behalf, we may disqualify ourselves from truly entering into this adoration of our Savior because our "passion" is absent this morning.

It can happen also when we open our bibles. Before us is a passage with words like redemption, Savior, gospel, justified. But if those words evoke little response in us, we unthinkingly pass over them to find something else that might light our fire. If the enthusiasm doesn't come quickly...well, we may just forget the whole thing. After all, who wants to spend the mental energy it takes to think carefully and intensely about the Scriptures? Who has time to study? Who has time to meditate?

And this is how serious it gets: In our arrogance, we invest our feelings (or lack thereof) with final authority rather than recognize that our emotions tend to be unstable, unreliable, often governed by pride, and riddled with lies--lies that "feel" like the truth.

I've watched people yield to such lies repeatedly. It's a frightening experience to sit with individuals who actually insist that what they feel is ultimately more authoritative to them than what's written clearly in Scripture. They even somehow assume God is sympathetic to this attitude. But He is not. He would, in fact, identify it as the height of arrogance--which is something He's unalterably opposed to: "God opposes the proud," His Word declares.

That's the bad news. But in the same verse there's also good news: " grace to the humble."

Mahaney, C.J. Living the Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing. 2006. Sovereign Grace Ministries. Page 32-35

Proverbs Part X-One Step Away (Proverbs 6:20-7:27)

What a disturbing weekend. I wish I could go into details, but I just don't think that would be appropriate here. Just understand that the truths you are about to read not only come from Proverbs 6 and 7 but were experienced first hand in the life of a great friend...well, at least the reality of the enticement and the consequences. The last part, the way out, was offered but never accepted until it was too late.

Here are just a few points to think about as we get into this section of Proverbs:

-This discussion takes place just before after the “things God hates” section where we talked about God’s general hatred of sin.

-Here is a specific sin that is talked about at length, probably because of its pervasiveness. Maybe because so much of what is described as hated by God is found in this particular sin.

-All 7 of the things that are described as hated by God can be seen in my friend's story: the pride, deception, outright lies, devising of wicked plans, haste to do evil, hurting other people, and the possibility of causing discord in the church (may not have been his intention, but it is happening)

-None of us are immune to this...even you ladies!

So, here are some things to remember about the enticement, promises, and consequences of sexual sin:

The Enticement:
1. Begins in an “innocent” way (6:25)
-as simple as a look
-a warning sign for you if a look from a girl/guy captures your mind/thoughts & heart
-”The Talmud (a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs, and history. It is a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, second only to the Hebrew Bible in importance) identifies the heart and eye as agents of sin. To permit your mind to become obsessed with lustful thoughts it to put yourself willingly in the way of temptation.” (The Woman’s study bible notes)
-why we need to check up lust from the very beginning

2. Rarely perceived as subtle (7:10-11)
-ladies, you may think your actions and words are subtle towards a boy, but they are not perceived as subtle...they are flashing with a big bright sign that says “SEX” all over it.
-your dress, your looks, your flirting, your words may not lead them to do anything inappropriate toward you but it will put tempt them sexually to then deal with that in an ungodly way. Ladies have a responsibility to the guys around them to protect their purity. Watch your words, your touches, your dress, your looks and know that what may seem like “innocent flirting” to you could be the starting point of a long path of sin and suffering for the guy.

3. Is easily compartmentalized (7:14)
-temptation may dissipate during retreats/camps but quickly comes back
-here we see the “prostitute” eager to get back to business after taking some time off for religious reasons
-The Peace Offering is sometimes translated Fellowship Offering. It came about voluntarily, as a desire was expressed to thank God and to seek for fellowship (communion) with God.
The blood of the Peace Offering was sprinkled at the Burnt Offering Altar, the fat and inward parts were removed and the remainder roasted. The fat and inward parts were burned; this was for God's satisfaction, as a sweet aroma. Because God had stated clearly what pleased Him, then a person who offered such a Peace Offering was truly doing what pleased God: that person was having fellowship (communing) with God.
The Peace Offering was an indication of a good, healthy, loving relationship between the offerer and God and between the offerer and the priests. There was peace with God and there was peace with fellow citizens.

4. Eagerly looks for the first opportunity (7:15)

Three Enticing Promises:
1. Promises the best (7:16-17)

2. Promises fulfillment (7:18)

3. Promises you won’t be caught (7:19-20)

When we believe these promises and live in these sins, a lot of times we look at sin and consequences in scripture and we think, “God would never bring that on me. He is gracious and forgiving.” In my friend's case, he has faced and is facing ALL the consequences in chapters 6 & 7 of Proverbs.

The Consequences:
1. Everything is taken away (6:26)

2. Self-destruction (6:31)

3. Wounds-public & private (6:33)

4. Great Shame-to himself, his family, his church and his God (6:33)

5. Loss of Reputation (6:33)

6. Sudden loss of Life (7:22-23)
-How many cows know what they are headed to? Why are we so often oblivious to the
“end-game” of our sin?
-there is significant risk involved in the activities of adultery/sexual sin and “wisdom dictates that such behaviors should be avoided” (The Apologetics study bible notes)

My friend had many opportunities to get out. God would have stayed some of these consequences, and in his grace may have and may will keep them from being as bad as they could be had he taken the way out when it was offered. The same is offered to you. The longer you stay in the deeper the consequences. Get out now! But how?

The Way Out:
1. Don’t even get close! (5:8; v7-9)

2. Recognize Your Vulnerability
-7:1-5-”What we think about regularly affects what we do, and what we do regularly produces habits, and ultimately determines our character. A regular focus on God’s truth provides protection against adultery and sexual immorality, while a regular focus on sexual images leads a person closer to the behaviors that Pr condemns” (The apologetics study bible notes)

3. Stay close to the lessons others have learned and taught you (6:20-24; 7:1-3)

4. Confess (James 5:16; 1 John 1:9; Proverbs 3:7-8)
-you may think it would be easier or better to keep it quiet and try to deal with it “between you and God” but voicing your sin is a much swifter path to life change.

Please take this seriously. When this pattern of life started for my friend when he was 15, he would have never imagined himself being where he is today...don't let it get a foothold in your to SOMEONE about the seriousness of the sin that is grabbing hold of your life.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Funny or Not? Vol. 8

Proverbs Part IX-I'd Like Life Please, Light on the Heavy (Proverbs 6:6-11)

Check out this video from the BBC show "How Clean is Your House".

One word to describe what has happened here is "laziness". It's really easy to recognize laziness when it looks like this house but do you think it possible that this man is actually quite diligent in other areas of his life?

In fact, diligence in some areas can actually lead to laziness in other areas. For example: diligence in playing video games can lead to laziness in taking care of yourself physically. Diligence in reading a lot of books can lead to laziness in developing personal relationships. Diligence in watching TV can lead to laziness in Godly character development.

Laziness not only impacts our lives physically but can also impact our lives emotionally and spiritually.

Think for a minute about laziness in your life. Do you recognize it? If not, here are a few characteristics of laziness as seen throughout Proverbs:


1. Has a lot to learn about hard work (Proverbs 6:6-8)
2. Is always eager for a break/rest (Proverbs 6:9-11)
3. Finds a way out of working when it's most needed (Proverbs 10:5)
4. Is an irritation to those who ask him to do something (Proverbs 10:26)
5. Has a low ceiling of success (Proverbs 12:24)
6. Always craves but not willing to do anything about it (Proverbs 13:4; 21:25-26)
7. Looks for the easy way-”get rich quick” (Proverbs 13:11)
8. Is fast talking but slow acting (Proverbs 14:23)
9. Does things halfway (Proverbs 19:24)
10. Expects something out of nothing (Proverbs 20:4)
11. Can’t understand how they got into the state they are in (Proverbs 24:30-34)
12. Is full of excuses (Proverbs 26:13-16)
13. Is busy with “something else” (Proverbs 28:19)

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal laziness in your life and then do something about it! Just like the ants, we know what we have been created for, so let's get to work and finish the task, trusting in His strength and His wisdom and accomplish what He desires.

Start rooting laziness out of your life TODAY! Don't be lazy about it!

She Must And Shall Go Free Part VIII: Saint & Sinner

"Saint & Sinner" by Derek Webb from the album She Must and Shall Go Free

If you want my glory you gotta take my sin
If you want my future you gotta take my skin
If you want my heart you gotta take my blood
If you want my bed you gotta take my lust

‘cause I’m not a half a man
I’m not a half a man
Lord knows I love you now
But a saint and a sinner is what I am

If you want my spirit you gotta take my booze
If you want my mystery you gotta take my clues
If you want my child you gotta take my kin
If you want my money you gotta take my rent

And it doesn’t get better once you see the light
You wake to find that the fight has just begun
I used to be a mess but now I look just fine
‘cause you dressed me up and we drank the finest wine.

The church is supposed to be full of redeemed people living differently than before they knew Christ. Unfortunately most if not all of the church is compartmentalizing their actions in one way or another, holding back certain actions and attitudes from the exhortation of 1 Peter 1:13-16, "Be holy for I am holy."

Ephesians 4:17-24 reminds us that we have been made new in Christ. We are new creatures. The old life is supposed to be gone and the new is supposed to be what we daily put on and demonstrate with our lives...every area of our lives. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 describe what this old life may have looked like for you. But then verse 11 reminds us that we USED to be that, but that we have been redeemed.

It is a problem that we do not perfectly put off the old self and put on the new self every day, but an even bigger problem is how little of the church even TRIES to fully put off the old self. We know we are wearing the old self and we are content with the dirty rags. We think, "It's too hard to give this up." This song expresses a desire for God to take those "old self" things that are continuing to cling to the royal robes God has dressed us in through the blood of Christ. This song expresses a desire to FIGHT!

Are you daily accessorizing the gloriously new and royal robes that God has dressed you in with the dirty, stained and ugly clothes of a pauper?

Spend time asking the Spirit to reveal to you the areas in your life that you are compartmentalizing, not allowing God to replace the old with the new. Then FIGHT for the new self, every minute of every day, until the old looks so old, nasty and dirty that you do not want to have anything to do with it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obamanation Domination

Well, the election is over and Obama will be the next president of the United Sates of America.

Whether you are excited about his victory or disappointed that he won we need to remember a few things:

1. TUST-God is in control (cue Twila Paris track...for those of you who know who Twila Paris, I'm old). You may be thinking, "how could this happen". Well, it can happen, and it did. The great thing is that God is neither surprised by this election nor worried about what's going to happen next. He's got it. His plans will be accomplished no matter who is in office. God is the one who appoints kings and rulers and he holds them all in his hands. We do not need to worry or be fearful about what is going to happen next. Just continue to trust God and take this as an opportunity to step up and stand out in this nation as "a thousand points of light" (George Bush #1 refernce...again...old), reflecting the true light of the World, Jesus Christ.

2. PRAY! -Just think how much Obama has on his shoulders for the next 4 (maybe 8) years. Now, do we want him to make those decisions based on a Godly influence or a worldly influence? Pray for Godly wisdom and influence and integrity in decision making that will honor God and his plans. Pray that the best interest of the people of America and the glory of Jesus Christ will be the compass of his decision making. Pray the same thing for the largely Democratic congress. You might consider this an impossibility, but with God ALL things are possible. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the one who changes the old man into the new man. He is the one who takes hard hearts and makes thems soft to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Pray for a great revival among the leaders of this country, no just in policy and laws, but in heart.

Obama says it's time for change, I agree! But not temporal change...ETERNAL change. We have been complacent and comfortable with a president we considered "God's choice" for far too long. It's time to get off our tails and begin working for real change in our families, churches, communities, state, and nation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Funny or Not? Vol. 7

Just a little joke in honor of Halloween:

One dark night two guys were walking home after a party and decided to take a shortcut through the cemetery. When they got to about the middle of the graveyard they were startled and stopped moving.

There was this terrifying noise, “TAP-TAP-TAP” coming from the shadows. Trembling with fear, they spotted an old man with a hammer and chisel, chipping away at one of the headstones.

"Holy cow Mister,” one of them said after catching his breath. “You SCARED us half to death. We thought you were a GHOST! What are you doing working here so late at night?"

"Those fools!" the old man grumbled. "They misspelled my name!!"

Proverbs Part VII-I'm Glad I'm not Like that! (Or am I?) (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Two things I hate:

1. Lights left on in an empty room
2. Dryer sheets falling out of a clothes pile and left lying around the house

Those are two of my biggest pet-peeves and I "hate" them.

Isn't it interesting how we use the word "hate" to describe the way we feel about certain pet-peeves? Those pet-peeves usually don't illicit any more than a grumble of complaint under our breath. If the pet-peeve was truly worthy of hate, then wouldn't it be worthy of a much harsher response?

In Proverbs 6:16-19 we are given a list of 7 things that God hates:

1. Haughty eyes
2. A lying tongue
3. Hands that shed innocent blood
4. A heart that devises wicked plans
5. Feet that make haste to run to evil
6. A false witness who breathes out lies
7. One who sows discord among brothers

Your initial response to this list may be, "Phew! I'm glad that's not me! I don't do those things." But don't you? Don't I? Doesn't everyone?

Let's generalize a little bit and in that way get more specific:

Sins of Attitude-Haughty Eyes
Sins of Speech-lying tongue and false witness
Sins of Action-shed innocent blood, run to evil
Sins of Thought-devise wicked plans
Sins of Influence-One who sows discord among brothers

Think about all of the specific sins that could be categorized under these topics. When we see the seven things God hates what we are being told is:

God Hates Sin!

Period. Exclamation point.

But why does God hate it so much?

The word for hate in verse 16 is defined as "intense hatred which alienates" in Hebrew. God hates sin as much as he does (with a perfect hatred) because it alienates us from him stealing from him the glory, honor and praise he is due.

God hates sin because it destroys our relationship with Him.

Look at the last example of what God hates. "One who sows discord among brothers."

God hates sin because it destroys the church from within.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Joey Update vol. 4

Sesigeh lunjegema! Peace to you all indeed my friends! It has been a while since I wrote and much has happened so far this month. Where to begin? Aye, at the beginning.

I took a MAF flight out to the village at the end of last month. It was a small Cessna type plane (which I’d never ridden before) and I got to see much of the countryside. I rued that I lacked a camara and also my position in the middle of the back seat, far from any windows. Still, it afforded me with a good view of the desert and assorted villages. I also saw Lake Fitri which our people live around. We traveled with two gentlemen who were to work on our house electricity and lights. It was a good travel out.

When we arrived, a welcoming committee was there to greet us and it did my heart good to see such friends after nearly a year absence. Our house was quickly wired and worked fine- for a few days. The nature of electricity here is not of an exact science, but more like alchemy really. That is it takes a bit of sense and a lot of faith! Except instead of turning common metals into gold as was the goal of those alchemists of yore, our electricity turned a working phone charger into a fried phone charger, as my friend and partner here can attest.

All this aside, good things have indeed been happening. Good things indeed! One day I had the privilege of going to a distant village with the doctor and helping a woman who had been in labor for three days to no avail. We went to bring her to the hospital in town and prayed for her a lot on the way back- the doctor said he couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat and feared that it was dead. We got to the hospital and I prayed for her again. The very next day, I hear that within 3 hours she gave birth to a healthy baby girl! Al hamdu l’llah!

Also, a team came through from Liberty Baptist in a town near mine in VA and it was good fellowship that week. Now, perhaps the best news of all, a friend of mine accepted the Lord! This took place just this weekend and just after a training session some in the kanisa here. Our Father is doing some work in this family so please lift them up. Which brings me to the next thing.


-For the mother and her baby girl that lived (this was her eighth and the only one which gave her trouble incidentally)

-For the new Brother

-For the team which left one of its members here for a few weeks to see the country and work in the clinic

-For continued language learning

-For the opportunities I’ve had to share the Story


-To keep walking close with the Father

-Continued building of relationships between team members here

-Language learning and yet more opportunities to meet people and invite them over to our house

-Taking advantage of opportunities to share

-And finally for the other teams that will be coming through in the next weeks and months.

His kingdom advances and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Indeed darkness must flee before light. This I’ve seen here already and I long to see more. Our Father takes back His land one person at a time. Thank you all for your support in these days. I thank the Father that I am able to write to you in this way and to share with you good news.

Peace be with you all!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Funny or Not? Vol. 6 (Part I)

I Love These!

Funny or Not? Vol. 6 (Part II)

Here is Part II!

Proverbs Part VI-A Look Inside (Proverbs 3:13-24)

Psalm 139:23-24 is a prayer of David asking God to search him and know his heart and see if there is any wicked way in him.

How often do we let God search our hearts? How often do we take the time to look inside and see what is there that needs to change?

The same question applies when we think about applying wisdom in our lives. We need to look inside and truly see whether we are actively responding to the call of wisdom or continuing to ignore what wisdom has to say.

Verses 13-18 once again show us characteristics of wisdom and the profit that comes from actively responding to wisdom: honor, riches (maybe not money), peace, understanding, and security.

As we move out of chapter 3 and into the rest of Proverbs we will begin to see the nuts and bolts of wisdom; the practical advice Proverbs has to offer us for our lives. Before we can even begin to study this life giving advice we have to ask ourselves if we are ready to receive it. We have to allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and show us where we continue to ignore wisdom in our lives.

I pray that we are all ready to receive the wisdom that is in Proverbs and that we are all ready to apply this wisdom to our lives; a wisdom that, as verses 19-24 tells us, set the foundations of the earth and placed the heavens in the sky: the Word of God.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Proverbs Part V-Practices in Biblical Programming (Proverbs 3:1-12)

A basic tool of computer programming that helps the program know what to do based on user input is the "If/Then" statement.

Let’s say you are writing a computer program where the user will get to guess a number between 1-100. The user types a number in and then clicks the “guess” button. The “guess” button would have several If/Then Statements applied to it. Such as:
“If ‘user input’ > ‘number’ Then print ‘Too High! Try Again!’”, or
“If ‘user input’ < ‘number’ Then print ‘Too Low! Try Again’”, or “If ‘user input’ = ‘number’ then print ‘Great Guess! You’re Right’”

There are quite a few places in the Bible where God gives us "If/Then" type statements as it relates to our life and relationship/response towards Him, His commands, and His Word. These If/Then's are great promises, but promises that require some commitment from us.

Here are 6 If/Then's from Proverbs 3

1. IF keep the word THEN long life and peace (v1-2)
2. IF faithful and loving "dress" THEN view with favor and success (v3-4)
3. IF trust THEN right directions (v5-6)
4. IF recognize lack of real wisdom THEN healing and refreshment (v7-8)
5. IF honor God first THEN plenty (v9-10)
6. IF accept God's discipline THEN treat as a son (v11-12)

What about you? Which of these “If’s” seems the hardest for you? Is the “then” worth some added effort? Just like last week we learned we cannot expect protection and deliverance if we are on the wrong paths, we need to remember that we cannot expect real peace, real success, real plenty, real direction and real relationship with God if we do not trust in, lean on, and honor Him above all others.

She Must and Shall Go Free Part VI: Wedding Dress

Sorry it's taken so long to get to this post...crazy past couple of weeks!

Here are the lyrics to "Wedding Dress" by Derek Webb

If you could love me as a wife
and for my wedding gift, your life
Should that be all I’d ever need
or is there more I’m looking for?

and should I read between the lines
and look for blessings in disguise
To make me handsome, rich, and wise
Is that really what you want?

I am a whore I do confess
But I put you on just like a wedding dress
and I run down the aisle,
and I run down the aisle.
I’m a prodigal with no way home
but I put you on just like a ring of gold
and I run down the aisle to you.

So could you love this bastard child
Though I don’t trust you to provide
With one hand in a pot of gold
and with the other in your side?

I am so easily satisfied
by the call of lovers so less wild
That I would take a little cash
Over your very flesh and blood.

Because money cannot buy
a husband’s jealous eye
When you have knowingly deceived his wife.

The chorus of this song refers to the writer, and the listener, as whores in the eyes of our husband. As the church, we are the bride of Christ, but we often whore ourselves around showing desire and seeking satisfaction in "lovers less wild". I realize the word "whore" may be a little strong for some of you, but take in what God says to the nation of Israel in Hosea 1:2 and 4:12:

Hosea 1:2-When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great woredom by forsaking the Lord."

Hosea 4:12-For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore.

If we are honest with ourselves we will admit that we also have "played the whore" when it comes to our relationship with God.

In "Wedding Dress" we see 4 characteristics of whoredom that may be in our lives. Remember that this in in context of the church (Christians) as the bride of Christ. The following points are based on that imagery.

1. No Satisfaction in the gift our husband gives. ("Is there more I'm looking for", "to make me handsome")

2. Lack of Trust
towards our husband. ("should I read between the lines")

3. Splitting of Affections
between our husband and other lovers ("one hand in a pot of gold and the other in your side")

4. More Appreciation over lesser gifts given by other lovers ("take a little cash over your very flesh and blood")

Despite all of this Jesus cries out for us to throw on the wedding dress and the ring of gold and come running down the aisle to him. Will we admit the "less-wild" lovers and run down the aisle toward Chirst?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Road Runner

Watch this and think about how we are just like Wile E. Coyote when it comes to our response to the enticement of sin and our ignoring of the obvious call of wisdom.

No more excuses for our sin. We are just as stupid as the coyote when we take those dead end paths instead of the promised protected paths of righteousness, equity and justice (Proverbs 2)

Proverbs Part IV-Warning! Dead End Ahead! (Proverbs 2:5-22)

Scavenger hunts are great, especially when there is a prize at the end for finding every item on the list. But what if every item on the list could not be found? You might find yourself upset with the creator of the scavenger hunt for putting impossible items on the list. You might return to them with your list and say, "there is no possible way I can find Ming Dynasty era armor in your back yard."

When it comes to actively responding to the call of wisdom by searching for it like you would hidden treasure God we will not return disappointed.

Proverbs 2:1-5 gives us a promise: if we will search for wisdom, we will find it and there will be great benefit to our lives when we do find it. Proverbs 2:5-12 describes the outcome of our active response to the call of wisdom.

1. Understanding (Proverbs 2:5-7a)-Have you ever stared down a road only to find out that the only outlet from that road was blocked? This happens to me more than I'd like to admit (even in a small town like Clarksville) where I'll be heading down a back road only to find traffic cones set up at the other end for some sort of road work or utility work. My first thought is always "why didn't they put a sign up at the other end of the road. I would not have come this way!" Then I think, "how am I going to turn around on this small road." God promises that when we find wisdom we will also find understanding. But what kind of understanding. In verses 9-10 we are told we will understand "every good path". What do the good paths consist of? Righteousness, justice and equity. We are promised that we will not have to go down the dead end roads anymore. There will be a clear sign telling us that we are not heding down the "good paths" of righteousness, equity and justice.

2. Protection (Proverbs 2:7b-8)-Who is this protection for? According to verse 11-12 this protection is for those who are walking down the good paths of integrity and understanding. Without the understanding that wisdom promises the protection that wisdom promises is not available. Just think. Someone tells you that a road is dangerous. You can accept that wisdom and understand it, not take the road and recieve protection. Or you can take your chances and head down the road anyway, spurning the wisdom, understanding, and protection. For some reason we like to "take our chances" even when wisdom is clearly warning us of the dangers ahead.

3. Deliverance (Proverbs 2:12)-Wisdom also promises us deliverance from the dead ends, not just protection. We used to watch the Road Runner all the time when I was a kid (see the "Road Runner" YouTube post for an example of this). As I have grown up I have come to realize that we are just like Wile E. Coyote. We are enticed by sin and we run after it no matter the consequences. There can be a clear sign telling us of the dangers but we easily ignore it (ignoring the call of wisdom!!!) and find ourselves running off a cliff to our doom. We beg for mercy from God but why should he give proteciton and deliverance when he has already warned us that the road is dangerous. His proteciton and deliverance is to keep us off that road. And we do it over, and over, and over, and over again, just like the coyote.

We know the dead ends. We run into them every day. The obvious sins. The secret sins. They don't suprise us anymore because we are very familiar with them. And still we blame God for the troubles in our life. Still we blame God for not "giving us the strength" to resist.

God has made a promise and will be faithful in it: if we will actively respond to the call of wisdom we will have understanding, protection, and deliverance.

This week remember the benefit of actively responding to the call of wisdom (understanding, protection, and deliverance) and remember what happens to those who chase after the dead end enticement of sin:

Proverbs 2:18-19, 22

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Funny or Not? Vol. 4

This week's Funny or Not is in honor of the baseball playoffs (which start tonight by the way).

Check out the guy in the lower left...Funny or Not?

She Must and Shall Go Free Part V: Lover

Luke 19:10 reminds us of the reason that Jesus came to earth: to seek and to save what was lost. This is something Jesus uniquely is able to do. He is the only one who can really set us free. How does Jesus set us free?

"Lover" by Derek Webb

Like a man comes to an altar,
I came into this town,
With the world upon My shoulders
And promises passed down.
When I went into the water,
My Father, He was pleased.
I built it and I'll tear it down
So you will be set free.

Yes, and I found thieves and salesmen
Living in My Father's house.
And I know how they got in here,
And I know how to get 'em out.
Well, I'm turning this place over
From floor to balcony.
Then, just like these doves and sheep
Oh, you will be set free.

'Cause I have always been a lover
From before I drew a breath
Oh, and some things I love easy
And some I love to death.
You see, love's no politician
'Cause it listens carefully
So from those who come,
I can't lose one,
So you will be set free,
Oh, you will be set free.

Go on and take My picture
Go on and make Me up
Oh, I'll still be your Defender
And you'll be My missing son
And I'll send out an army
Just to bring you back to Me.
'Cause regardless of your brothers' lies,
Oh, you will be set free.

Because I am My beloved's
And My beloved's Mine;
So, you bring all your history,
I'll bring the bread and wine.
Then we'll have us a party
Where all the drinks are on Me
And as surely as the rising sun
Oh, you will be set free,
Oh, you will be set free.

We see in this song 5 Ways that Jesus Uniquely Sets us Free

Jesus Sets Us Free...

1. By Bearing our Burdens (Colossians 1:16-17)

2. By Taking the Fight (Mark 11:15-19; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

3. By Securing the Victory (John 10:28)

4. By Taking the Initiative (Luke 15:3-7; John 6:44)

5. Through Forgiveness and Celebration (Romans 6:17-18)

Why bear your own burdens? Why try to take the fight out of God’s hands? You can’t win the victory! Jesus it he victor! You can’t bring anything good to the party. Trust Jesus to win it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Spontaneous Poetry

Here are the spontaneous poetry results from Sunday night. Make sure to read them with great passion like you would any other poetry. Enjoy!

Foreign Ties

Aardvark Gandhi
Kilimanjaro is Feet
Gouda B.B. Gun
Floccinoucinihillipillification Tongues

Broadband Connection

Fire wire poop crumb
Shall without banana pie
Cardboard crotch tree

Tasty Treats

Naughty phat camel truck phlegm
Kumquat ice cream baron
Moldy shoelace lettuce

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Proverbs Part III-Get Your Brain off its Butt and Your Ears off their Rears (Proverbs 2:1-4)

My brother and I used to draw...a lot. We would put large sheets of paper on the floor and draw epic battle scenes with troops, bombers, tanks, trenches, and missiles covering the landscape. We were not very good artists but we always had fun.

One of our most enjoyable artistic adventures required something special. A dirt road headed to a remote village in Malawi, Africa that had been "wash-boarded" by the rainy season. We would sit in the back of the truck and lightly hold a pen to paper on a clipboard as we bounced down the road allowing the bumps of the road to determine what our picture ended up looking like. We tried not to manipulate the drawing hoping to allow the lay of the land to draw it's own picture.

We may have had fun, but you definitely could not call what we had drawn a "masterpiece". Masterpieces take effort. Masterpieces take planning. Masterpieces require an active response not a passive one.

The call of wisdom into our lives also requires an active response. If we want to experience the growing of wisdom in our lives we cannot sit passively and wait for it to come flying in. We have to actively pursue it. In Proverbs 2:1-4 we see the 5 "A's" of Actively Responding to the Call of Wisdom.

An Active Response to the Call of Wisdom...

1. Accepts (v1a)-Receive what wisdom is telling you, even when it hurts to hear it and is hard to swallow.

2. Adores (v1b)-Take care of and give a special place to wisdom spoken into your life.

3. Applies (v2)-Don't just hear wisdom but LISTEN to it and APPLY it to your life.

4. Asks (v3)-Seek for deeper understanding. Don't be satisfied with surface understanding but want MORE wisdom and seek FULL understanding.

5. Aborts (v4)-Quit less important quests in life for the ultimate quest. Search for wisdom like you would search for treasure (or Jimmy Hoffa). Don't stop until you have it.

What about you? Are you passively waiting around for this “sanctification” (becoming like Christ) thing to happen? Are you sitting back waiting for wisdom to fly into your life? It’s time to get active in the way that we listen and respond to the call of wisdom. Put some effort into becoming like Christ and gaining the “mind of Christ”. It’s not going to happen overnight and it’s not going to happen if we don’t make an effort.

Funny or Not Vol. 3

Here's a commercial that is supposed to make you laugh...does it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Joey Update vol. 3

September 21, 2008

Hey everybody! Thank you all first of all for hanging with me and not
ceasing to offer up thanks to our loving One. This is what I have been
doing lately for He is good. Still, this time of year, square into
Fasting Month (to be completed either the 28th or 29 of this month) is
a difficult one spiritually. This is the time of atonement for all
sins that have been racked up during the year. There is a drain on
their physical health and a draw upon us Workers. Something in the air
is sinister, someone who does not want us here. I've heard from some
who have been here for a while that during this month the enemy seems
to have freer reign to do great harm. Still, we will labor in this
field. Thank you for lifting up this land and the people. Lift up them
up especially during the Night of Power as this is the culmination of
Fasting and a night of hard spiritual battle.
As for me, I've been doing well through all this. There are tiring
days but it is good to know that I am not alone here. Still, there
have been some hard knocks lately.
Two weeks ago I was pulled over by a policeman who wanted a bribe
(here the expressions are things like: 'I want some water from
heaven'). We managed to be able not to pay but this has caused some
Then last week an especially painful dart. A close national friend
stole about a month's salary of money from me. He and his accomplice
have been caught but the money has not yet been returned. Please lift
up this friend for repentance and restoration in the Body. He is now
in jail and we are Asking that our Father chasten him until he turns
in repentance. Still, if the money is returned and he has not
repented, than part of this would have wasted. We have now had to cut
off all fellowship with him following Mt. 18.

In the midst of these things great blessings have been seen. Lang.
learning in the target lang. has been going for 3 weeks now and I have
already told whole stories! As the words become more comfortable in
our mouths, my teammate and I are able to share more and more of the
Story. Praise Him because we have a teacher who seems to be a seeker
and is sympathetic to what we are doing.

Now some information:
My phone number has changed. To call me now from the States, dial these numbers:
011 235 944 6349
The first three are the international number, the next is the country
number and the last 7 is my number.
My mailing address has changed and this is the new one. Please send
all things to:
Joey Howell
BP 1263
N'Djamena, Chad

Also, I will submit my Christmas list as I will be out in the village
until then. You can send non-perishable or sealed items like Oreos or
other cookies like them, jerky is good and books, though heavy, if
sent in small quantities, are appreciated. Also, if you can find a map
of our country or the capital, N'Djamena, complete with topography or
something- pretty detailed, and it would not be a terribly large and
unwieldy one, please send it along.

Now the Hamdu's:
-That throughout the painful betrayal, that our Father brought me
deeper into fellowship with Him. After all, His Son was betrayed by a
close friend and was stolen from. He too entered a land of great
corruption and loved us anyway.
-That I have been learning to thank Him in all things.
-That language is flying so well.
-That next week we will be headed out to the village for three months
hopefully to begin the next stage of lang. learning.

The Du'as:
-For repentance of my friend Harley and his accomplice.
-For the money that was taken to be returned.
-For travel out to the village and packing things.
-Language learning still.
- For the people during this Month of Fasting, especially on the last day.

Now, I want to thank John R. for sending the camara along the address
in the States. I'll take some pictures for you and send them when I'm
Finally, thanks so much for everything and your sallaha for me.
Rihi afe!

Joey Update vol. 2

Sept 5, 2008

Hello everyone! It has been too long but I am back! I am back! Home in my country. The trip was greatly blessed on each leg and this not without a few adventures along the way. I left early morning for my first flight to FL. where I heard a storm was just coming into. I prayed no delays and there weren't. Then, before I got on my next flight they needed my return ticket to the States, but this was the return trip from my time in Feb. I had to run across the airport(twice) to print it off and only just barely made the flight. They shouted after me that they would send my bags on ahead to Paris, this trip's final destination. 'Hurry!' they further shouted after me. I did. And I made it to Chicago.

That was rather uneventful and I got my Paris flight alright, dozed a bit and got off in Paris in the morning. Then, I get to baggage claim and guess what? My bags have not arrived. They say they will send them ahead to my hotel when they arrive the next day so I give the name of a hotel (not the one I planned but still pretty close and affordable enough) and make my way through Paris to it. As soon as I arrive the man at the desk, after I gave my name told me he'd already gotten a call from the airport and that my bags would be there between 12 and 6pm that day!

I went up to my room and waited for the time to call home and when I went down, only 2 hours after 12, a woman asked me if I was Joseph Howell. I said yes and she told me some bags had come for me. When she moved to go get them I presumed, there they were behind her! These things all laid themselves out so nicely for me the whole trip that I was reeling for joy.

Also, there were more than a few passersby who were willing to help me on my way (directions, free tram rides, etc.) that crowned the time in Paris with a good theme. I got to the airport to get to my final, final destination- NDJ and I arrived without a hitch. In fact it was the better of the two entries I had into the city. THe guards simply stamped my visa page and let me move through. My bags arrived safe and well and when the guards were looking through them as they do, my Ar. came back to me as fast as I needed it and I chatted genially with them and they let me through laughing. I was not carrying anything detrimental or hazardous but the conversation made things that much more smooth.

The Am. also met me at the airport and we got back to that very house where I last left NDJ. I remet my teammate Col. and the rest of the team here and it was joyous reunions all around. Also, one of them had my lang. journal which I had left behind for 5 months on a table beside my bed saying they just found it. I raised a great ah' hamdu l'llah! for that one!

I quickly got settled in and had lang. lessons each day and my Ar. came back even faster until I am almost at the point I was when I left. Also, Col. and I got to go to the Eng. center here in town a few times and do some Storytelling with some students there. Good conversations like that are not infrequent here for which I am very thankful.

Also, I met my old neighbors who had kept my stuff I left at their house and delivered to them the Oreos my mom gave me for them. They remembered them and were delighted. Likewise I also met my old language teacher and it was a good reunion and many p'ayers were said. And this past week, Col. and I have started the target lang. and it goes nicely so far.

As for me, I am going over the border this weekend to Cam. for which I also have a visa. It will be a getaway weekend of sorts as well as a chance to see the neighboring country in case we end up going there and staying for a while later. I should be in town for another 2 or 3 weeks or so before heading out to the village for more intensive lang. learning.

For now here are the Hamdu's as I'll call them:
-My journey over met with great adventure and success
-My lang. journal was found immediately and the lang. itself ran back to meet me
-Friends new and old were met and met well
-Lang. lessons are now progressing well
-I have a new phone service and it looks to handles calls home much
better than my old phone

And for the Du'as; as I'll call them:
-Please lift up this Month of Fasting that our brother Ishmael may
find the One he's seeking
-Please lift up lang. lessons in this target lang. that Col. and I would both learn well
-Please lift my camera up- I think it went under one too many X-rays
through the airports or something because it is unresponsive. Maybe it
will yet work.
-Please lift up our quiet times in Reading and Talking with our Father
-Finally, please lift up the workers here and those that are coming
that all would commit the work to the Lord of the Harvest

For these things I thank the One who called me here and you too, my friends and brothers. It is a great thing to see His hand moving in ceaseless work, giving of His inexhaustible mercy and grace. Thank you for your faithful p'ayers in all things on my behalf. May our Father richly bless you all, in all ways.

In Him,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Invite Night

Thanks to everyone for coming out to the invite night! Enjoy the pics!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Proverbs Part II-Here Kitty, Kitty (Proverbs 1:10-33)

I always loved the part of movies or tv shows when the devil and angel would show up on a character's shoulders trying to influence him in opposite directions. I never understood why the character would so often listen to the Devil.

We daily live with a similar circumstance in our own life. There are 2 forces trying to influence our life in opposite directions. According to Proverbs 1:10 one of these is the Enticement of Sin while the other is the Call of Wisdom (Proverbs 1:20)

Let's contrast these two:

The Enticement of Sin
1. Is Private (vv 10-11)-this is not something you would expect to hear proclaimed aloud to a group of hundreds of people. This enticement usually comes privately.

2. Is Encouraged (vv 11-14)-Look at how far the details go. We encourage the enticement of sin by listening to the details. We often recognize it as sin pretty easily, but then we like to hear what we may get out of it or how easy it will be to get away with. We need to stop encouraging the enticement of sin and start cutting it off as soon as we recognize it.

3. Attacks People (vv 11-12)-
physically, mentally, emotionall. It's victim is real!

4. Promises Riches (vv 13-14)
-Whatever those riches may be. This is not necessarily money, but can also include other desires. Sin is pretty good at enticing us with the current desires we have, showing us an "easier" way to get them.

5. Is Dangerous (vv15-19)
-The enticement of sin sets a trap and leads to death...period!

The Call of Wisdom
1. Is Public (vv 20-21)-It cries aloud in the streets!

2. Is Ignored (vv 24-25)
-Despite its public nature, we still often ignore it. Why? Because it is not what we want to hear!

3. Attacks the Status Quo (v 22)
-Instead of attacking people, wisdom attack the ideas behind the way we live, challenging us to live differently. (which is one of the reason we ignore it...we don't want to change even though it would be better to change!)

4. Promises Life (vv 23, 33)

5. Is Warnful (vv 24-32)
-yes, I know this is a made up word, but I think you get it. Wisdom is full of warning about what will happen if we don't listen to Wisdom. Pay close attention to these verses.

So, what about you? Which one are you listening to?

What do you need God to change in your heart so that you will stop listening to the enticement of sin and start opening your ears to the call of wisdom?

Monday, September 15, 2008

She Must And Shall Go Free Part IV: Nothing (Without You)

"Nothing (Without You)" by Derek Webb

I’ve got the dress, I’ve got the ring
I’ve got a song that I can sing
I’ve got the bread, I’ve got the wine
But I’ve got the life I’ve left behind
I’ve got everything, but I’ve got nothing
Without you

I’ve got the law on my heart
I’ve got your love tearing me apart
I’ve got a vow that I can’t keep
But I’ve got your promise getting me to sleep
I’ve got everything, but I’ve got nothing
Without you

I’ve got your works, I’ve got my faith
I’ve got all the wine that you can make
I am the kiss of your betrayer
But I’ve got your grace on every layer
I’ve got everything, but I’ve got nothing
Without you

‘cause you see it’s all just a show
You either hate it or you don’t
And only time will tell the difference
If you get it clearly or with interference

I’ve got the race, got the election
But win or lose, I’ve got protection
I found a lobbyist in the devil
But i got salvation in a rebel
I’ve got everything, but I’ve got nothing
Without you

If we have nothing without Jesus, then what unique things can Jesus alone bring into our lives?

Jesus Brings...

1. Authenticity
You can have all the trappings of a committed relationship (dress/ring; bread/wine) but if you are still clinging to the life you have supposedly left behind then that relationship is lacking. Matthew 7:21-23 reminds us that there will be many who will say "Lord, Lord" and do great things in the name of Jesus who really have nothing...they lack Authenticity. They may look like a follower of Christ but still cling to the past and lack a true relationship with Christ.

2. Peace
Have you ever played Simon Says? Have you ever gone out on the first round of Simon Says? What about the very last round? Either way, you still lose. It doesn't matter when you break the rules, you lose just like everyone else who has broken the rules. James 2:10 reminds us that if we have broken God's Law at any one point, then we have broken the whole thing. We have a vow we can't keep...there is no way we can please God with our actions. But praise God, his promise in Jesus Christ brings us peace.

3. Deep Grace
When I went to college I double majored in math and computer science. I was excited the day I finished my Multi-variable Calculus final exam thinking I had seen the worst of it. But I had not been introduced to Math Theory yet! Proof after proof after proof after proof, and all at 8:00 in the morning. Talk about tough. Our prof was nice though because he let us take the exams home to work on and use our book and notes. This was great and helped me get a B in the class but I came away with no deed understanding of mathematical theory. I had the right answers and a B in the class but I still had nothing.

Isaiah 9:6 reminds us of the depth of who Jesus is: wonderful couselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace...have you delved into the depths of who Jesus is and what he means in your life? Do you have all the right answers but still have nothing when it comes to Christ. Do you claim his work in your life and your faith in him but then turn and once again betray him with your words or actions...or your silence?

And still, his grace is DEEP...deeper than we can imagine. Without that Deep Grace we truly have nothing!

4. Clarity of Commitment
Would you rather: Sleep on a pillow or a bale of hay? Have a PC or a Mac? Drink tea or water? Take a shower or a bath? Read the book or watch the movie? Listen to rock or rap? Eat beef or chicken? Go to a math class or an english class? Drive a Ford or a Chevy?

These are fairly minor commitments we make every day of our life. But time will tell if you truly are committed to those things. Maybe one day you will discover the comfort of a bale of hay and never use a pillow again. Maybe you will change your mind about the flavor of beef and push aside your chicken nuggets for a fat steak. Maybe you will tire of fixing your Ford and trade it in for a Chevy. Time will tell if your commitments will stand.

Matthe 6:24 tells us that our commitment to Christ needs to be definite. Is yours? Time will tell if that commitment is real. Jesus brings clarity of that commitment into our lives.

5. The Best!
We all settle for so much less than the best. Why? I think normally it's because we don't see the best or we don't know what is the best or we don't have access to the best. I love Domino's Pizza, but I don't have access to it without a 30 minute drive and $365 in gas. So, I settle for Food Lion or Red Barron Pizza. Sure, that Pizza is good, but it is not the best.

Jesus brings us the BEST. But we often settle for so much less. The Devel lobby's in our life trying to influence us away from what is best and we fall for it every day! Jesus has rescued us from the mediocre and has brought the best into our lives. Stop settling and grab hold of the Best. Without the best we really have nothing.

So, what about You?

How much do you depend on God/Jesus to bring into your life what you really need...what only he can bring? How often do you first depend on yourself or other people around you to bring excitement, meaning, hope, and joy to your life?

Remember: there are certain things only Jesus brings into our lives, and without them we have nothing.