Pioneer of the Chinese Church, Samuel Lamb, Dies.

August 3, one of the fathers of the Chinese house church movement, Samuel Lamb, entered his reward. In the 1950’s Pastor Lamb was imprisoned for refusing the government take over of his church. He suffered imprisonment until 1979. He his famous for repeating the line, “More persecution, more growth. During Pastor Lamb’s lifetime the Church in China grew from a few million believers to 80-100 million believers.

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God is Doing Something Historic

“A wind is blowing through the House of Islam. The House of Islam, Dar al-Islam in Arabic, is the name Muslims give to an invisible religious empire that stretches from West Africa to the Indonesian archipelago encompassing 49 nations and 1.6 billion Muslims. Dwarfing the size of any previous earthly kingdom, Islam directs the spiritual affairs of nearly a quarter of the world’s population. But something is happening today that is challenging the hold that Islam exercises over its adherents… ”

 http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/god-is-doing-something-historic

HT Grace Church of Wyoming

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To Help the World’s Poor…

The latest U.S. jobs numbers showed a U.S. unemployment rate still at 7.6 percent. The official global unemployment rate, compiled by the International Labor Organization (ILO), is around 6 percent—which suggests American workers are worse off than their counterparts worldwide. But that statistic is deeply misleading. Unemployment is, by and large, a luxury of rich countries. Billions of people across the world are stuck working long hours in subsistence farming, hawking, or other informal occupations, desperate for a job that provides a weekly wage packet. Solving this underemployment problem is the biggest key to the challenge of economic development worldwide.

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Young Evangelic…

Young Evangelicals are Getting High
“The kids who leave evangelical Protestantism are looking for something the world can’t give them. The world can give them hotter jeans, better coffee, bands, speakers, and book clubs than a congregation can. What it can’t give them is theology; membership in a group that transcends time, place and race; a historic rootedness; something greater than themselves; ordained men who will be spiritual leaders and not merely listeners and buddies and story-tellers. What the kids leaving generic evangelicalism seem to want is something the world can never give them–a holy Father who demands reverence, a Saviour who requires careful worship, and a Spirit who must be obeyed. They are looking for true, deep, intellectually robust spirituality in their parents’ churches and not finding it.”

http://thechristianpundit.org/2013/07/17/young-evangelicals-are-getting-high/

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Campaigner: We can see the finish line

Ending Modern-Day Slavery. It is 2013 and there are still an estimated 20-30 Million souls in the bondage of slavery today. Christ have mercy on us.

The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery

By Jesse Eaves Senior Policy Adviser for Child Protection, World Vision

Advocates are dynamic voices for change. Those voices often have a simple beginning. Two years ago, if 13-year-old Ravi was told that he would become a leading advocate against child labor in India, he would have taken that statement the same way that people treated him  — “as a joke.”

When his father fell ill when he was 8 years old, Ravi was forced to quit school and work to pay off his family’s never-ending debts.  For two years Ravi toiled in a small shack making wire brushes to clean machine parts in the city of Kanpur, India.

It was not the life he wanted to lead. However, Ravi’s life took a turn at age 10 when a social worker for World Vision found Ravi on the streets and got him out of forced labor and back into school.

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Mistaken Monotheism

Do Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God?  My friend Chris Bruno tackles this complex question in this very helpful blog posting.  

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2011/07/21/mistaken-monotheism/

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Tim Keller on Christians “ignoring OT texts.”

Tim Keller:

I find it frustrating when I read or hear columnists, pundits, or journalists dismiss Christians as inconsistent because “they pick and choose which of the rules in the Bible to obey.” What I hear most often is “Christians ignore lots of Old Testament texts—about not eating raw meat or pork or shellfish, not executing people for breaking the Sabbath, not wearing garments woven with two kinds of material and so on. Then they condemn homosexuality. Aren’t you just picking and choosing what they want to believe from the Bible?”

It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus and God’s plan to redeem his people, but I vainly hope that one day someone will access their common sense (or at least talk to an informed theological advisor) before leveling the charge of inconsistency.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2013/03/26/shellfish-homosexuality-and-the-charge-of-christian-inconsistency/

Here’s Tim Keller addressing the issues that I keep seeing brought up on blog discussion boards about the Christian’s inconsistent application of the Bible especially as it relates to homosexuality.

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It’s Friday…But Sunday’s a Coming.

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Toward a Christian Understanding of Marriage

We live in unusual times.  Just 5 years ago the concept and definition of marriage was a settled issue.  Both Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that marriage as defined by the United States government should be defined as it has always been defined—as between a man and a woman.  As we all know, things change very quickly in our modern world and what seemed certain is now uncertain.  As the constitutionality of Defense of Marriage Act is being decided by the Supreme Court, one thing has become increasingly certain: the verdict from the court of cultural appeal has already been decided.

My primary concern is not that world is thinking in a worldly way.  Actually, the world seems to be trying desperately to frame this issue in a pseudo-Christian way.  The arguments put forward to support so called Gay Marriage are being posited using “Christian-ish” arguments.  What concerns me is that the popular Christian response falls generally along two lines.  The first response comes from those who instinctively know that this is wrong and yet don’t know how to answer without saying something like, “homosexuals are just perverts” or “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.”  The second type of response is equally knee-jerk, but more accommodating.  It is sympathetic to the abuse that homosexuals have received, and thus responds to this guilt by saying something like, “I personally don’t believe in gay marriage, but who am I to say what’s right and wrong.”  My concern is that Christians don’t know what marriage is or why it is important.

Marriage is most definitely a “religious” institution.  While I recognize that most marriages are not Christian, I assert that marriage is a sacred and divinely authored institution.   Even though the deep meaning of marriage has been lost in most cultures, there is the residue of common grace that still benefits cultures where marriage is valued and practiced.  The cultural push to redefine marriage as something other than what it is, is akin to me calling my dog a cat.  She may be furry, have four legs, and a propensity for getting into the trash, but a cat is a cat and no personal redefinition changes that.  My intent is not to persuade non-Christians of something they don’t want to believe.  My concern is to help Christians to understand the depth, mystery and theological beauty of marriage and to encourage them to live this mystery out in a way that is compelling and winsome to a world that is desperate for meaning and significance.

The definition of marriage was decided a long time ago, by the one who invented marriage.  In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we find the account of God creating the cosmos.  In this account we read of God creating the universe, level by level by speaking powerful words.  Words are important things.  Words are powerful things.  God used words to create, and he used words to define.

God spoke and created light.  The light God named the day, the darkness he named night and then God defined the light as good.  Level by level God spoke and created the universe and after each day God defined what he had created as good—with one exception.

In Genesis 2 we find a detailed account of the creation of man.  You are probably familiar with all the elements there.  God forms man from the dust of the ground, he breathes into him the breath of life, man comes alive, he is placed in a special place that God created for him called the Garden of Eden, and gave him clear instructions as to his work and his life, but I want to draw your attention do something that you may have missed before.

After every day of creation God declares it good, but here we find God saying something quite different.  In chapter 2 verse 18, God looks at man standing in his perfect place with the task that God had given him, and says, “It is not good…”  “Not good?”  “Not good.”

Why not good?  Everything else is good.  Why is man called “not good?”  God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.  I will make a helper fit for him.”

We see that God put Adam to sleep and take from his side a rib (a hunk of his flesh) and created for him and from him a wife—a perfect compliment for him; a partner for him; a completer for him.

Man and woman together—that, God calls good.

“And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Here we see the bedrock foundation for all of marriage.  This is what Jesus pointed back to when talking about marriage (Matthew 19) and this is what the Apostle Paul reference when he wrote to the Ephesians about the picture of marriage.  When a man and a woman join together in the mystical union we call marriage, they demonstrate a unity that is deep and profound and unique and very good.

Unity in Identity

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  27 So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Christians have a tradition of the wife taking her husbands name.  This is significant.  When a father gives away his daughter she is leaving his house, his care, his protection and joining another man’s house, care, and protection.  This is rooted in our identity.  In Genesis 1 we see God creating man and woman in his likeness and giving them collectively the name man.  When Adam names Eve in Genesis 2:34 he names her woman.  In English man and woman sound alike and in Hebrew it is the same.  They are unified in their identity.  Theirs is not a difference in kind, but a difference in function.  This will become even more important when we look at the Gospel and how marriage pictures something far greater, but for now I just want you to meditate on that.

As a couple make their vows to each other they are making a covenant of becoming one.  Marriage is no 50/50 agreement it takes 100% of each of them.  Each, giving up their life for the other.

Unity in Intimacy

 Secondly we see unity in intimacy.  The Bible is not prudish.  It is wonderfully romantic.  Fathers blush at these verses, but there is beauty in a man leaving his mother and father and holding fast to his wife on becoming one flesh.  In verse 25 we read, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

The intimacy that comes through self sacrifice and covenant love is the highest form of intimacy this world can know.  That marriage is an intimacy killer, is a lie.  The covenant commitment of marriage is in fact the only place where true intimacy can grow.  In marriage you can completely and freely give yourselves to one another without fear.  They were naked and unashamed.  God says the marriage bed is good.  Traditionally Christians have argued that sex was only for procreation, but we see that view has no Biblical basis.  There is a joy and freedom that comes from within a God ordained sexual union, but it is an intimacy that has its boundaries and those boundaries are within the covenant of marriage.

Unity in Picture

 While marriage is not an analogy of the Godhead, the unity in difference that is a marriage reflects something of the image of God in us.  Both man and woman are made in the image of God.  Man and woman have an essence before God that is at its core the same.  And between man and woman there is also a fundamental and inalterable difference.  There are different roles and yet a singular purpose.  There is love, communication and joy, between a man and a woman in a marriage union that mimics that of the love, communication and mutual enjoyment the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Unity in Purpose

Lastly in marriage there is unity in purpose.  Originally man and woman together were to rule God’s good earth, but we know that mankind sinned instead of ruling God’s earth, became tyrants and enemies of God.  But God made a promise to Adam and Eve—that someday a descendent of Eve would come and break this curse and restore God’s people into God’s place.  Jesus Christ came into this world to fulfill that promise.  He fulfilled God’s law, he took our punishment on the cross and then rose from the grave in a way that every fairytale ever written bears the echo of.  Jesus broke our curse and in doing so created a new people.  He redefined what it means to be human.

In fact, the Bible says that marriage is a picture of just that.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Marriage is more than just a marriage—it is a living drama that shows the saving relationship that Jesus has with us. This a big deal.  It is also very, very good.

So how should we respond?  I’ll give some suggestions as to how Christians can respond in the days ahead.

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The New Less-Social Psychology of China’s Generation Without Siblings

 

This new post in the Atlantic concludes what most sane people have assumed for years: tinkering with the natural social order will eventually have negative consequences.  When will our society wake up and learn?

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/study-the-new-less-social-psychology-of-chinas-generation-without-siblings/267057/

The new only-child generation grew up to be less trusting, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic, less conscientious, and it appears, more neurotic.

PROBLEM: China’s one-child policy, introduced in 1979 and strictly enforced, succeeded in slowing population growth. The first of the children who were born — one per family, under threat of heavy penalties and by means, for some, of forced sterilization — are now fully grown. What does it mean, for them and for China, that an entire generation grew up without siblings?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers at the University of Australia seized on the natural experiment created by the Chinese government, recruiting thirtysomethings from Beijing who had been born before and after the one-child policy was implemented. The study had a small sample size, of about 421 participants, that nonetheless marked a large change in demographics. Despite being close in age, they were from vastly different generations, from those who were born in 1975, when only about a quarter of Chinese families had only children, to those born in 1983, where the number rose to 91 percent.

The participants played a variety of “Deal or No Deal” style econ games designed to test behaviors and attitudes with real-world social and economic correlations.

RESULTS: Compared to children born right before the one-child policy was implemented, children born under its jurisdiction scored lower on a whole spectrum of measures: They grew up to be less trusting, more risk-averse, less competitive, more pessimistic, less conscientious, and it appeared, more neurotic.

In one example, 66.4 percent of children born pre-policy were willing to invest 100 yuan with a 50/50 risk of tripling their return or losing it all, while only 51.8 percent born after took the risk.

The only children were also less likely to hold risky jobs, like self-employment or a position in finance. The differences were seen even between people born one year before and after the policy’s introduction.

Spending a lot of time around peers while they were growing up was no substitute for siblings, the researchers found as well. This “sibling deprivation” was associated with them being more self-centered and less cooperative.

CONCLUSION: Children born after the introduction of the one-child policy developed different, less social psychologies from the previous “generation,” born as little as two years earlier.

IMPLICATIONS: The findings the China’s only children have fewer of the qualities necessary for being social and entrepreneurial, compounded across an entire nation, may very well have real world implications in the global marketplace, say the authors.

The research also highlights the unique circumstance of families being forced to limit the number of children they have — other studies have found that only children in the West, whose parents are more likely to have made the conscious decision not to give them siblings, do not differ much from their non-sibling deprived peers.

The full study, “Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy,” is published in the journal Science.

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