Cross Cultural Risk Taking

August 11, 2010 at 7:41 am | Posted in cross-cultural | Leave a comment
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Something to Think About

Both my wife and I read a lot. I mean that seriously, we read a lot. Earlier this morning she read something that had to do with culture that she thought I might like. We both study culture and how to best communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ where we live. But for us, we want to be in the world, but not of the world (1 Corinthians 5-6).  We want to live in such a way that people will ask us the reason for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). I will write more on my views on culture and Kingdom living in the coming weeks. For now, I hope the following quote will spur your thinking.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 50:23

Community of Light

During a riot at Washington, DC’s Lorton prison complex, inmates torched several buildings; armed, menacing gangs roamed the grounds. But in the main prison yard a group of Christian inmates stood in a huge circle, arms linked, singing hymns. Their circle surrounded a group of guards and prisoners who had sought protection from the rioting inmates. These Christians were a community of light, and lives were saved.

In prison, the contrast is sharp between dark and light. Choices for Christian inmates are usually clear-cut. Yet most of us in the mainstream of Western culture live in shades of gray. It’s comfortable to adopt the surrounding cultural values. Yet stand apart we must.

For as the church maintains its independence from culture, it is best able to affect culture. When the Church serves as the Church, in firm allegiance to the unseen Kingdom of God, God uses it in this world: first, as a model of the values of His Kingdom, and second, as His missionary culture. – Charles Colson, as quoted in God’s Treasury of Virtues, Honor Books, Inc. 1995. p. 249.

Book Review: Be Compassionate by Warren W. Wiersbe

August 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Book Reviews | Leave a comment
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This is a revised edition of Wiersbe’s popular “Be” series. Some of the content has been updated and there is a new introduction and study guide questions added by Ken Baugh. I would label Wiersbe’s commentaries as devotional and practical. They are not highly academic and there is no bibliography given. They are useful, especially for newer Christians or those who want a pastor’s practical insight to a particular book of the Bible.

At first I wasn’t sure if a revised “Be” series was entirely necessary. As I went through the revised Be Compassionate (Luke 1-13), I was reminded of Wiersbe’s practical insight. There are twelve chapters that will take the reader through the first thirteen chapters of the Gospel of Luke. I like Wiersbe’s writing style and this approach to a commentary. You cannot solely use this commentary for preaching or teaching preparation, but it can be a good compliment to more scholarly commentaries.

There are study guide questions at the end of each chapter to help an individual or small group dig a little deeper into their study. Some of the questions make use of other Scriptures and others ask the reader to think and dig deeper into what was read. There does not seem to be anything here that would be too difficult for an inexperienced believer to understand. But there should be an experienced, maturing believer leading the small group. The questions look like they would generate discussion among small group members.

Taken for what it is, a basic devotional commentary, I would recommend this commentary for other believers. It can be used with benefit for those who want to study Luke 1-13 on their own or in a small group. Pastors may not need this version, but they could benefit from owning and using the “Be” series. I received this book for free and offer objective feedback.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13

Keep Your Breastplate On

August 10, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

David expressed keen sorrow for the unholiness in his life: “O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more” (Psalm 39:13). He did not want to die until holiness ruled his heart again. Ungodliness is a poison which drinks up all serenity of conscience and inward springs of joy. If you throw a stone into a clear brook it will soon become muddy. “He will speak peace unto his people, but let them not turn again to folly” (Psalm 85:8).

Carelessness in the walk of holiness dangerously exposes your faith, which is kept in good conscience as a jewel is protected in a cabinet. Faith is an eye, and sin casts a hazy mist before it. To faith, a holy life is like pure air to the eye; we can see father on a clear day. Thus faith sees further into God’s promise when it looks through a holy well-ordered life.

Faith is a shield. Will a soldier drop his protection unless he has been seriously wounded? If faith fails, what will happen to hope, which cleaves to faith and draws strength from her as a nursing child takes nourishment from its mother? If faith cannot see pardon in the promise, then hope cannot look for salvation. If faith cannot claim sonship, hope will not wait for the inheritance. Faith informs the soul it has “peace with God” and then the soul rejoices “in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

Are you trying to use the sword of the Spirit? How can you hold it when unholiness has seriously maimed the hand of faith that must carry it? This sword has two edges – one side heals but the other wounds. With one it saves and with the other it damns. The Bible does not speak a single kind word to the person who practices sin. Now – think and then think some more – is any sin worth all this confusion which will inevitably strangle and smother your soul? – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall, edited by James S. Bell, Jr.

I Am Resolved

August 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Posted in hymns | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Hymn

Not too long ago I read and reviewed The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by Steven Lawson. It is based upon the Resolutions that Edwards tried to live by. I highly recommend the book for any Christian to read and learn from. Today’s hymn choice reminded me of Edwards’ Resolutions and I hope you enjoy it.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Hebrews 12:28-29

I Am Resolved

By Palmer Hartsough

1.      I am resolved no longer to linger, Charmed by the world’s delight; Things that are higher, things that are nobler – These have allured my sight.

(Refrain) I will hasten to Him, Hasten so glad and free. Jesus, Greatest, Highest, I will come to Thee.

2.      I am resolved to go the Savior, Leaving my sin and strife. He is the true One; He is the just One; He hath the words of life.

(Refrain)

3.      I am resolved to follow the Savior, Faithful and true each day. Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth; He is the Living Way.

(Refrain)

4.      I am resolved to enter the Kingdom, Leaving the paths of sin. Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me; Still will I enter in.

(Refrain)

5.      I am resolved, and who will go with me? Come, friends without delay; Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit, We’ll walk the heav’nly way.

(Refrain)

Self-deception and How to Avoid It

August 4, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Posted in A. W. Tozer | Leave a comment
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Insight from A. W. Tozer

Of all forms of deception self-deception is the most deadly, and of all deceived persons the self-deceived are the least likely to discover the fraud.

The reason for this is simple. When a man is deceived by another he is deceived against his will. He is contending against an adversary and is temporarily the victim of the other’s guile. Since he expects his foe to take advantage of him he is watchful and quick to suspect trickery……..

With the self-deceived it is quite different. He is his own enemy and is working a fraud upon himself. He wants to believe the lie and is psychologically conditioned to do so. He does not resist the deceit but collaborates with it against himself. There is no struggle, because the victim surrenders before the fight begins. He enjoys being deceived.

The fallen heart is by nature idolatrous. There appears to be no limit to which some of us will go to save our idol, while at the same time telling ourselves eagerly that we are trusting in Christ alone……………….

Prayer is usually recommended as the panacea for all ills and the key to open every prison door, and it would indeed be a difficult to overstate the advantages and privilege of Spirit-inspired prayer. But we must not forget that unless we are wise and watchful prayer itself may become a source of self-deception………………

To escape self-deception the praying man must come out clean and honest. He cannot hide in the cross while concealing in his bosom the golden wedge and the goodly Babylonish garment. Grace will save a man but it will not save him and his idol. The blood of Christ will shield the penitent sinner alone, but never the sinner and his idol. Faith will justify the sinner, but it will never justify the sinner and his sin.

No amount of pleading will make evil good or wrong right. A man may engage in a great deal of humble talk before God and get no response because unknown to himself he is using prayer to disguise disobedience. He may lie for hours in sackcloth and ashes with no higher motive than to try to persuade God to come over on his side so he can have his own way. He may grovel before God in a welter of self-accusation, refuse to give up his secret sin and be rejected for his pains. It can happen.

How can we remain free from self-deception? The answer sounds old-fashioned and dull but here it is: Mean what you say and never say what you do not mean, either to God or man. Think candid thoughts and act forthrightly always, whatever the consequence. To do this will bring the cross into your life and keep you dead to self and to public opinion. And it may get you into trouble sometimes, too. But a guileless mind is a great treasure; it is worth any price. – Taken from Man: The Dwelling Place of God, published in 1966.

Book Giveaway Contest

August 4, 2010 at 10:57 am | Posted in Book Giveaway | Leave a comment
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Erik at J. C. Ryle Quotes is having a contest to give away a copy of the abridged version of Ryle’s Holiness. Follow this link: http://jcrylequotes.com/2010/08/03/anniversary-book-giveaway/ to enter. At the site you can find out about the contest rules and enter his anniversary giveaway.

His site is a favorite of mine and I hope you check it out.

Guard Against Discouragement

August 3, 2010 at 10:18 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Depression is one of Satan’s most dynamic weapons to divert you from God’s purpose for your life. If he can scatter a little dejection here and there in your thoughts – and even in your prayers – he can convince you to remove your breastplate of righteousness because it is too cumbersome and will go against your material and temporal interest. Do not give in that easily! First let me describe some of the devil’s weapons for wearing down the saints. Then I want to lend you a little help in making him drop his weapons at your feet. God wants you to know that because of the breastplate of righteousness He has provided, “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;….. this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).

Satan says righteousness hinders pleasure. The devil works to picture a holy life with such an austere, sour face that a person could not possibly be in love with it. “If you intend to be this righteous, then say good-bye to joy,” the deceiver skillfully counsels. “People who do not have such straight-laced consciences enjoy all kinds of good times – but you are missing them all.” The truth is, Christian, if you want to see the countenance of holiness in its actual color and vitality, do not trust Satan’s carnal talents to paint the portrait.

Now I agree that some pleasures are inconsistent with the power of holiness; and whoever purposes to live righteously must know what these are. – Taken from The Christian In Complete Armour, July 30; edited by James S. Bell, Jr.

Coffee With A Mission!

August 2, 2010 at 11:05 am | Posted in Coffee Reviews | 2 Comments
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Coffee with a mission! That’s the slogan of  Hemisphere Coffee Roasters (www.hemispherecoffeeroasters.com). This week’s coffee is light/medium roast called Café Diego. It is grown by Diego Chavarria in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. People from Rosedale Mennonite Missions met Diego in the 1970’s while doing work in the area. They became friends and started working together. In 2006 HCR purchased a full container of Café Diego, paying twice what they were currently receiving. With the profit the men are empowered to pay their workers better, sustain the farm, and hire pastors for their workers and their families. Six churches are now supported from ongoing coffee purchases.

The Café Diego is described as having a good acidity and chocolaty undertones. It is grown at high altitudes in old shade canopy. The bean is hard and has wonderful characteristics. One of the things we enjoy about doing the coffee reviews is sharing coffee with friends who don’t normally drink coffee made from fresh ground beans. We get to try new coffees and help friends find out just how easy it is to grind whole beans and then use a different brewer. It is about the relationships with people. It seems to be that way with HCR too.

This light/medium roasted Café Diego has an earthy and fruity aroma. When brewed in the French Press it has a medium body, not too heavy or too light. The taste seems to hit the middle of the tongue and there is a bittersweet chocolate flavor. It has a natural sweetness. We enjoyed the flavor of this coffee.

Next up was the AeroPress brewer and it seemed to intensify the flavors. The AeroPress is unique in that you can brew and drink the coffee like an espresso or add water to the cup and drink it like American coffee. We brewed it and tasted it espresso style and it wasn’t overpowering. Neither Kim nor I really like espresso, so we added some water and it still had a surprisingly good deep flavor.

We also used the auto-drip and filled a thermos for a short trip to some used bookstores and antique stores. The coffee had a good roast flavor and hints of dark chocolate. The acidity is low and there is a pleasant aftertaste.

We liked this coffee from any of the brewers we used and would give it two thumbs up. We are not experts about coffee but we are willing to break out of old routines and brew coffee in different ways. We like tasting the differences that each brewing method presents to us. If you haven’t tried a whole bean coffee, give it a try, you can do it and you will be glad you did.

If you want to try some good coffee and help missionaries and missions work at the same time we suggest you try this Café Diego or any of the coffees from Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. You’ll be glad you did. We received this coffee for free and offer objective feedback. Until next time enjoy the coffee and conversation.

Much GRACE and peace to you,

Bill and Kim

Romans 15:13; Psalm 34:1-10

Sunday’s Hymn – Is Your All on the Altar?

August 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Posted in hymns | Leave a comment
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Today in church we heard a message from Ephesians 5:18, Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. The message was titled, “Living A Spirit Filled Life.” It really made me think about my life and submission to the Lord. It also reminded me of an old hymn. I hope the words are meaningful for you. God bless you as you think about surrendering completely to Him.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer),

Romans 15:13; 12:1-2

Is Your All on the Altar?

Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929

1.      You have longed for sweet peace, and for faith to increase, And have earnestly, fervently prayed; But you cannot have rest, or be perfectly blest, Until all on the altar is laid.

(Refrain) Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid? Your heart, does the Spirit control? You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest, As you yield Him your body and soul.

2.      Would you walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, And have peace and contentment alway? You must do His sweet will to be free from all ill; On the altar your all you lay.

(Refrain)

3.      Oh, we never can know what the Lord will bestow Of the blessings for which we have prayed, Till our body and soul He doth fully control, And our all on the altar is laid.

(Refrain)

4.      Who can tell all the love He will send from above! Oh, how happy our hearts will be made! Oh, what fellowship sweet we shall share at His feet, When our all on the altar is laid!

(Refrain)

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