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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Iraq Most Dangerous Place for Christians? - Christian World News - CBN News

ultrarev: "The Lord be with you."
YOU: "And also with you."
ultrarev: "Let us pray."
Almighty and everlasting God, hear the cries of your people as we call to you for your suffering church throughout the world. As you heard the cries of your ancient people in bondage in Egypt and came down to deliver them, so now hearken to the suffering of the persecuted church in our time. Give bread to those who are hungry, comfort to the imprisoned, strength to the tortured and all for the sake of Jesus who lived and died for us, who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Heavenly Father, look with compassion on all who will suffer loss or persecution or martyrdom for your name this day. Give them courage to face the oppression that is before them and sustain them by your Holy Spirit, that having overcome by the blood of the Lamb they may receive the crown of life. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit ever reigns, one God, now and forever.
From the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh's web site.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

VirtueOnline: CANA Grows Pulling in Archbishops and Bishops to Priestly Ranks

David Virtue has an interview with the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns on the growth of CANA, a Nigerian Anglican based church planting movement.
"The leader of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a Nigerian church plant of orthodox Anglicanism in the US says his church is growing with some 60 parishes (20 more in the pipeline), 120 plus clergy, and some 8,000 in attendance all in two years, making it one of the fastest growing body of orthodox Anglicans in North America. In an interview with the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns at the Anglican Mission in the Americas Winter Conference in Dallas, David W. Virtue talked with Bishop Minns about the present state of Anglicanism in North America and CANA. more ...."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Green Book of Common Prayer: 1662 BCP in Updated Language

Anglicans at Prayer - Articles - AMiA: The Green Book of Common Prayer

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon, President of the Prayer Book Society of the USA has edited a new edition of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. He says, "It is not a finished product but a product in trial use and to be perfected."

This new version is available via download: Updated 1662 Book of Common Prayer. "Copies of the book may be obtained from St John the Evangelist [AMiA] Church in Philadelphia (Phil Lyman rector) at 215 396 1970."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Christian Ethics for Boob Jobs & other cosmetic surgeries

Extreme Makeover. Dr. 90210. Everybody's getting their breasts done. Right? According to this CT article: All I Want for Christmas Is a Bigger Bust, even Christian women are talking about it. Another CT article is a round table discussion about Christians and Cosmetic Surgery. We need think about the ethics and theology behind breast enhancements, liposuction, face lifts, tummy tucks, even g-spot shots.

I don't think this is a cut and dry issue but neither do I think it is adiaphora. There are several theological issues that need to be addressed. Let's first establish that we are talking about elective surgery for cosmetic purposes. This is different than someone getting a breast reduction to ease their back pain, or even a body lift after gastric bypass.

There is the stewardship issue. Generally insurance does not cover these very costly expenses. There is the theology of our body issue and how do we view God as creator. There is the issue of what is appropriate in making oneself attractive for a finding our mate or for our spouse -- which are two separate issues. There's an issue of spiritual warfare here also. What are the lies the evil is attempting to get us to believe?

Elective cosmetic surgery is becoming more mainstream as we see it repeatedly on television, magazines, etc. Christian leaders need to give their people, especially young people a Biblical theological framework for thinking about these issues. How do we honor God when we go to see the plastic surgeon?

Content-wise, I don't think there was much in seminary that gave me insight into such issues. But I thank God that I went to a seminary like North Park that taught me how to think critically and didn't spoon feed me tired cliches.

This quote from the article really bothered me:
"'One woman who participated in a roundtable for Today's Christian Woman said she would not allow her daughter to undergo an operation until she turns 21. After then it's fair game. "Talking about internal beauty is fine for a grandmother or a mentor," she said. "But what about for a teenage girl trying to attract a mate? How she looks determines what kind of husband she'll get."'
First, why is a teenage girl attempting to attract a mate. How about waiting a few years, honey?

Secondly, look at that lie right from the pit of hell: How she looks determines what kind of husband she'll get????? That's not true! But that's spiritual warfare: the evil one breeding lies.

Seth Godin on Fundamentalism & Curiosity

Seth Godin is one of the most read bloggers on business and marketing. I liked this video and it made me think a lot about parenting. It also made me think about where I'm playing it safe in life -- actually where I think I'm playing it safe and blinded to the fact that my version of safe could be risky.

The Ultra Rev's Recommended Advice for New Parents

Being the parent of 5 children, one of which is nearly a month old I feel qualified to recommend good advice for new parents when I see it. Please check out: Caring for a Baby 101 : Wacky Archives. See a sample below.

31 Bible Translation Histories & Searchable Texts

Bible Study Tools

This page gives a very brief intro to 15 popular versions of the Bible with a link to a detailed history of that translation. If you sign up for a free password you can read, search and utilize tools. There are also links to another 16 translations.

New Thinking Need in Christian Sexual Ethics

Gizmodo has a video clip: Robots: Love and Sex With Robots Author Daniel Leby on Steven Colbert's show. It's funny. The comments section below the article is a bit crude but absolutely hysterical.

Daniel Levy apparently has a Ph.D. on the subject and sees sex with robots as possible in 5 years and falling in love with them in about 40.

I know it's not on the mind of most clergy right now. We're too busy trying to deal with the onslaught of tedious, needless justifications for homosexual behavior, premarital sex, etc. But we could potentially be dealing with this very soon. Just think of all the pastoral issues this will bring ...

"Is it really adultery if I had sex with a robot?" "Is it really porn if I'm watching two robots have sex with each other?" "Can I have a church funeral for my robot wife?" "My robot husband wants to get baptized and take communion?" "Is it polygamy if I have more than one robot wife? I want a blond and brunette."

I have to admit: on the one hand this is really a serious topic that requires immediate thoughtful theological reflection by pastors and scholars so that are people have a framework for thinking about this before it becomes mainstream and our culture frames their values.

On the other hand, the whole topic is hysterical and just ripe for countless lewd jokes. I'll try to refrain but it's gonna be hard.

On a related note: I just saw this article about the progress scientists are making in creating artificial life.
"Artificial life" created as scientist makes synthetic chromosome - Engadget
First artificial life 'within months' - Telegraph

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Leading Church Bodies, 2000

The above link leads to a larger image.

I wonder what statistics were used: church attendance or church membership? That would make a huge difference in the relevance of such map.

Understanding The People We Preach To

In this video Mark Driscoll talks about the importance of Biblical preaching and understanding the people we are preaching to. He's pimping the upcoming Resurgence Conference.

It is so very vital that preachers today understand Driscoll on this point. To communicate the Gospel effectively we must intimately know the people we are preaching to.

For all our training in homiletics, we sometimes forget the very basics of communication. My beloved former neighbor in Black River, John Aviste, participates in a public speaking club. We would go over his speeches together, and he was painstakingly aware of every minute detail -- his attire, personality, hand motions, movement on the stage, choice of words and themes, etc.

That's all Driscoll is advocating for. That preachers would preach the Bible respecting the very basic issues of communication and be painstakingly careful to preach in such a way that we will be heard. Another way to look at is, get into the mind and heart of those in your audience and evaluate your message through their lens before you preach it.

This Church Closed for All the Right Reasons - Evangelical Covenant Church

Thank God for mission minded, generous, selfless, humble people like the folks at Crown Valley Covenant Church in Laguna Nigel, CA. As membership dwindled they chose to close their church, sell their building and donate the proceeds to church planting. No doubt a painful decision but there will be countless people who will spend eternity with Christ because of it.

A Chapel Converted Into a Modern Apartment

In the Netherlands, a Dutch firm has converted friary, including it's chapel into an apartment complex.




ASKWISH.COM: Fulfill Your Dreams! Start Wishing & Dishing Today!

Interesting site started by an upstate NY guy. It's essentially a swapsheet to list what services or things you might provide and what you wish for. Maybe you wish for a back hoe or one elderly person I saw wished for homecooked meals. Maybe you could help people with scrapbooks, horseback riding lessons, computer assistance, etc. What do you wish for?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Franklin Graham is going to Belfast

Check out the festival web site for the event Franklin Graham is doing in Belfast. Franklin Graham Celebration of Hope | Home Page

He'll be at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, April 4-6.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Week Off?

Blogging has been more than a little slow with the arrival of a new baby and work. I had the privilege last week to speak in Butler, PA for a festival launch. I miss preaching. Next week I'm in Ashtabula, OH.

More exciting news from my life: I'm now the official church treasurer for Catalyst Church. Though I've only had the position for a week I'm thinking of changing the title to: Church Finance Czar. Hopefully I will not be the bane of our pastor's existence like so many church treasurers are.

My brother is a CPA and CFE, which is a Certified Fraud Examiner. He audits non-profits all the time that don't have good procedures in place. Here's some important info for you from an expert source: your ministry needs a Treasurer to pay the bills, a Financial Secretary to make and record the deposits AND he says that the bank statement ought to be received, ideally mailed, unopened by yet a third party. If you attempt to lead your organization to this model and find resistance there may be fraud going on that you don't know about.

Even more exciting news from my life: My Swedish Tempurpedic mattress arrived last night. It was about 15 degrees out so the whole thing felt like a brick for a couple hours. But it was a decent night sleep. I didn't wake up feeling like my back was on fire. Nice.

Stories in Contrast: Christian & Hindu Love and the Lack Thereof

I read two contrasting stories today. First, from the news of the weird is this story from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles: VirtueOnline: LOS ANGELES: Service celebrates 2 beliefs

An LA Times story is reporting of a recent 'worship' experience that combined Hinduism and Episcopal worship. A statement from Bishop Bruno read at the service apologized for the sins of the past of Christians against Hindus and renounced proselytizing Hindus. They all handled an icon together and then had communion with consecrated Indian bread and wine; however, since orthodox Hindus shun alcohol they only consumed the bread. The article also says, "In respect to Hindu tradition, a tray of flowers was also presented." As to whom they were presented, we're not sure. Interfaith groups, ecumenics and priests alike with giddy with joy over such an lovefest.

And then comes this lovely story from: Barnabas Fund Email News, telling of some of the worst violence against Christians in history of India by Hindus. On Christmas Eve and Day, 95 churches and 730 homes of Christians were burned. "In cases where a Christian ministry operated from rented premises owned by a Hindu, the attackers were careful not to damage the building, but took all the contents outside and set them on fire."

The actual numbers of murders are unavailable because the murders are destroying the bodies before they can be identified. Christians are being chased from their homes and living out in the forest where they suffer from starvation and dehydration and continue to be chased by bears and tigers.

Just for the record, the LA Times article does not record any apology from those peaceful, god fearing Hindus.

Starbucks Church

Down in Atlanta, Gwinnett's 12Stone church features glitzy amenities, Starbucks | ajc.com. It's one thing to serve Starbucks in church but wholly another to actually have a Starbucks in church your church. I encourage you to take a minute to read the article just to be impressed with this new facility builty by 12Stone Church. It includes variable room acoustic system, living rooms, recording studios and other cool stuff.

One other interesting thing I learned from this article: new terminology for the unchurched: "spiritually unresolved".
Ronne estimates that about 50 percent of those coming to 12Stone are likely "spiritually unresolved" people who never attended church as children or who stayed away for decades. The church building was designed to make attending enjoyable and memorable.
Just for the record, Cafe Kubal provides coffee for Grace Covenant Church in in Clay, NY and Catalyst Church being planted in DeWitt, NY. It's way better than Starbucks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Butt Prints In The Sand

Butt Prints In The Sand
One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, 'What have we here?'
Those prints are large and round and neat,
'But Lord they are too big for feet.'

'My child,' He said in somber tones,
'For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait.'

'You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
and there I dropped you on your butt.'

'Because in life, there comes a time,
when one must fight, and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand,
or leave their butt prints in the sand.'"

author unknown

Filthy Rich Evangelists Under Government Investigation

AlterNet: Senator's Inquiry Into Megachurch Money Hypocrisy Sparks Church-State Showdown

Benny Hinn.
Creflo Dollar.
Eddie Long.
Joyce Meyer.
Kenneth Copeland.
Paula & Randy White.

All under financial investigation. Now they all may be innocent of
wrongdoing other than greed and stupidity but they are currently under investigation. Even if proven innocent, they are being exposed for living opulent lifestyles. Another sad black-eye on Christendom.

They're living in literal mansions called parsonages, driving Bentley's, sitting on $23,000 toilets, with massive salaries, taking exotic vacations, etc. It's stuff like this that will eventually lead to a repealing of tax exempt status for ministries.

Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren

(from the current online issue of Breakaway Magazine for Teen Boys) From the shadows of an NFL stadium to the Super Bowl sidelines, Mike Holmgren has come a long way. God has been his guide.
by Mike Holmgren as told to Greg Asimakoupoulos

From the time I was old enough to pass a football, I dreamed of playing professionally. I grew up in an apartment above my grandparents’ bakery in the shadow of Kezar Stadium, then home of the San Francisco 49ers. My PB&Js were never made on Wonder Bread, and I was very aware of the NFL. I was also aware
that God had given me above-average athletic ability.

While some of my friends struggled to make the varsity football team at Lincoln High School, it came pretty easy to me. I was the starting quarterback my junior and senior years and received a full scholarship to the University of Southern California.

I could hardly contain my excitement the summer before I left for Los Angeles to begin my freshman year. My plans to play pro football were on track. Unfortunately, my walk with the Lord wasn’t. It had almost come to a standstill. Every Sunday I had attended church with my extended family. And during sixth grade I became a follower of Jesus after listening to Billy Graham preach at the Cow Palace auditorium.Graham’s words made sense to me, and I realized I needed to have a personal relationship with Christ. But the success I’d experienced as a high school athlete had taken its toll. I was more Mike-conscious than God-conscious. I soon discovered that the Lord has a way of bringing back those who belong to him.

Shortly after joining the USC Trojans, I suffered an injury in practice that would keep me sidelined for most of my college career. For the first time in life, things weren’t falling into place. My ego was bruised and my hopes

My coaches and the scouts who saw me play, however, were sufficiently impressed with my talent and potential. I was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals by the time I graduated in 1970 with a degree in English and education. My dreams of playing in the NFL would finally be fulfilled.

But my days with St. Louis were numbered. I was cut during the preseason. A couple weeks later I was picked up by the New York Jets. I was excited. The Jets were a powerhouse under the quarterbacking genius of “Broadway Joe” Namath. With the start of the season less than a month away, I was confident I had landed a place on the team.

Then the unexpected happened. A veteran quarterback from another team became available, and the Jets signed him as a backup to Namath. I was sent packing, blindsided and brokenhearted.

To be honest, I was crushed. My only goal in life had been to play professional football, and God had allowed that goal not to be realized. I hadn’t been giving God much attention during those days. Now I was angry at Him. The five-hour flight from New York back home to San Francisco seemed twice as long. I remember my dad picking me up at the airport and attempting to console me. I felt like a total failure. I knew Dad had been extremely proud of me. Now having been drafted and cut twice, I felt like I had let him down.

My sense of failure eventually pointed me in God’s direction. In the following months I picked up my Bible for the first time in a long time. Proverbs 3:5-6 stood out like a neon sign: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” I couldn’t understand why my lifelong dream was dashed, but I determined to trust the Lord and recommit my life to Him.

New Beginnings
A girl whom I had met at junior high summer camp re-entered my life. Kathy had just graduated from a Christian college and was working as a short-term missionary in Africa. Her letters encouraged me in my spiritual growth. Within a year Kathy and I were married. I also landed a job teaching drafting and coaching football and tennis at Sacred Heart High School in San Francisco. Kathy and I had twin daughters, and life was full and good. My thoughts of the NFL had been buried for good.

After 10 years at the high school level, I was given a chance to coach at San Francisco State University. Kathy and I had two more daughters. My career consisted of coaching all men, yet at the end of the day I found myself the only male in a house full of women. It was amazing.

From San Francisco we moved to Brigham Young University, where I accepted an assistant coaching job. Because of my growing faith, I struggled with the decision of being employed by a Mormon school. But in keeping with Proverbs 3:5-6, I sensed the Lord directing our paths. He made it clear we could let our lights shine and make a difference.

We had some impressive seasons at BYU, and the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers sought me out. Bill Walsh asked if I would consider joining his staff as quarterback coach. I couldn’t believe it. After nearly 15 years my dream of an NFL career was back on track. Not as a player, but as a coach. We could see the Lord’s fingerprints all over the place.

Striking Gold
From 1984 to 1991 I had the privilege of working with Joe Montana and an extremely gifted group of players. Coach Walsh was a brilliant teacher and mentor. Like the original 49er miners, the namesake of San Francisco’s football team, we struck gold big-time. We won two Super Bowl rings during the years I was with the team.

The last couple years I was with the 49ers, I had offers from NFL teams to become a head coach. I was really tempted, but as I looked at the needs of my wife and daughters I knew the timing was bad. Moving the twins during high school wouldn’t have been fair to them.

The media criticized my decisions. Columnists essentially wrote that I would never again be given the chance to become a head coach. My colleagues said much the same thing. As in other times of confusion, I committed my way to the Lord.

God proved my critics wrong. Two years later, the Green Bay Packers invited me to become their head coach. Talk about a dream come true. I was following in the footsteps of the legendary Vince Lombardi. By the time I left the Packers in 1998, we had made back-to-back Super Bowl appearances and in 1997 won the Packers’ first Super Bowl championship since Super Bowl II in 1968.

Leaving Green Bay while the momentum was building was hard. Life had become comfortable, and being a winning coach in that small Wisconsin city was the equivalent to being governor of the state. I even had a street named after me. But I was offered an amazing opportunity to try to build a football dynasty in Seattle. I couldn’t refuse.

New Challenges
The first years in Seattle were anything but easy. I had gone from back-to-back Super Bowls to struggling to get the Seahawks into postseason play. And then my personal world collapsed. Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was devastated. Everything I’d accomplished professionally had been with her at my side. I couldn’t imagine life without her. The thought of possibly losing my life partner and best friend made my hopes for building a championship team seem insignificant. Once again I turned to the Lord and claimed the promises in the third chapter of Proverbs.

Our family pulled together as never before during Kathy’s illness. Thankfully, God answered our prayers. The doctors’ treatments were effective. The cancer disappeared. In the midst of the stress of health issues and challenges with team personnel and injuries, I was tempted to resign my position before the 2005 season. But Kathy encouraged me to hang in there. I’m so glad I did. I never imagined that 2005 would be the storybook season it turned out to be: 12 consecutive victories, the Seahawks’ first playoff victory in 23 years, an NFC Championship and a bid to play in Super Bowl XL. Although the outcome against the Pittsburgh Steelers was not what we had hoped for, I was extremely proud of our team. They had every reason to hold their heads high.

Following that Super Bowl, the Seahawks offered me a two-year extension on my contract. It might have seemed like an easy decision. But it wasn’t. I wanted to make sure my family was OK with it. I also needed to check in with my heavenly Father. After all, He’s been the one who has coached me for the past four decades.

After much prayer and reflection (and a few days chilling on the hot sands of Maui), I felt God encouraging me to go for it. Even though the defeats and challenges continue in addition to the wins and opportunities, I know I can trust the Lord for what lies ahead. I have learned from personal experience that my heavenly coach is in control.

Mike & Kathy Holmgren attend Mercer Island Covenant Church in suburban Seattle where Greg Asimakoupoulos is their pastor.

Dennis Agajanian

Dennis is one of the world's fastest flat top guitar pickers. He dresses in black and wears a huge cowboy hat so my kids have taken to calling him "The Goth Cowboy". This is a great clip of Dennis until he runs out of cord and unplugs his guitar at the end. Funny.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Good Sermon

I heard a good sermon today from Bill Anthes. The guy is a pro. Great text:
2 Chronicles 20:1-34

20:1 After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, [1] came against Jehoshaphat for battle. 2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, [2] from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). 3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. 4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. 5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6 and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, [3] or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ 10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy — 11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. 12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 13 Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. 14 And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God's. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” 18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. 20 And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. 23 For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. The Lord Delivers Judah 24 When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there [4] were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. 25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. 26 On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, [5] for there they blessed the Lord. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. 27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. 28 They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the Lord. 29 And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30 So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around. 31 Thus Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 He walked in the way of Asa his father and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord. 33 The high places, however, were not taken away; the people had not yet set their hearts upon the God of their fathers. 34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel.
Just a side note: I wonder what if would be like to live with a prophet(s). Notice v.14 'And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you ..."'

Now I know there are prophets out there that speak for the Lord -- mostly in charismatic and pentecostal circles. But I really don't know of a single prophet that is widely accepted in the wider body of Christ who could say, "Thus says the Lord" and we would all believe he was speaking on behalf of God. I just wonder what the body of Christ would be like if we had prophets like that. Would it be easier to follow Christ? Would we make a cult following of the man or woman who spoke like that? I just wonder.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Is American Christianity Turning Charismatic? | Church Executive.com

Apparently Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity is not just growing world wide but in the US also. Often it is viewed as a primarily third world phenomenon with a smaller number of adherents in the US. Not so. A couple of interesting stats ....
"Many people believe that charismatic Christianity is almost exclusively a Protestant phenomenon. However, the research showed that one-third of all U.S. Catholics (36%) fit the charismatic classification. Framed differently, almost one-quarter of all charismatics in the U.S. (22%) are Catholic."

"The growth of Pentecostalism, however, has crossed denominational boundaries in recent years. For instance, 7% of Southern Baptist churches and 6% of mainline churches are charismatic, according to their Senior Pastors."
Charismatic churches tend to have larger budgets but pay their pastors less. Their clergy also tend not to be seminary graduates.

I think I'm pretty much out of the closet on this one: I like charismatics and feel real at home with them. On a personal basis, I really enjoy being with Charismatic Catholics, though I won't be joining the Catholic church any time soon. I like how they live out their faith and I just like being with them.

My ideal church exists only in my mind but it's charismatic, and flexibly liturgical, and sacramental with contemporary worship, serves wine with the Eucharist, is Benedictine/monastic flavored with a spice of Anglicanism and John Wesley. It's extremely light on Augustine, Baptists and John Calvin.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Good Works Not Enough | Christianity Today

I've had the wonderful experience in recent years to meet Roman Catholics who love Jesus, believe in grace and are mission minded for their church. That's not the kind of Catholic Church I was raised in. I experienced a graceless, heavy-handed, works oriented church as a kid. I think things are changing in the Catholic Church -- well, I think that most days. Then others I see the church still dispensing indulgences and I wonder ...

The linked article references the treatise of a couple months ago about the Pope's statement on the true church and Protestants. Let me remind you to read this: Editorial: Honest Edumenism.

Open Source Living

"Welcome to Open Source Living, an archive of the Web's best Open Source software, applications and references for a zero-cost / top quality digital experience."

Student Sues Teacher For Anti-Christian Comments - Education News Story - KNSD | San Diego

Somehow I think we've missed something in the Bible when we as Christians are suing people for persecuting us.

A couple of marriage resources ...

Marriages Restored: A ministry to restore troubled marriages.

Marriage Romance Site Where Couples Share Marriage And Romance Writings: This one is a little weird. It's a site that uses Christian "moral erotic literature". Yep. Apparently a modern version of Song of Songs.

Modbook - The first and only tablet Mac� computer solution! - Other World Computing

There is something new under the sun afterall. I've never seen or heard of these before, but a company out of CA is producing a Modbook - The first and only tablet Mac computer solution! - Other World Computing. It's a tablet with a touch screen that you can write on with handwriting recognition and runs OS X. Includes built-in iSight, wireless, Bluetooth, 13.3" and the coolness factor is ginormous.

Messages : CoastlandTampa

I find Steve Sjogren extremely encouraging. These 2 interviews are about 10 minutes each and they'll probably be the best 20 minutes you spend today.

Part 1 of Steve’s "Day I Died" Interview On TBN

Part 2 of Steve’s "Day I Died" Interview On TBN

Monday, January 07, 2008

Catalyst Church

The web site for Catalyst Church, a new Evangelical Covenant Church plant in Syracuse, NY, is up and running. Nice job Mike!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Jacqueline Grace Evans born 12/31

UPDATE: Just thought I would add a picture of my new daughter, Jacqueline Grace. She is a wonderful addition to our family. She and Alyx are both doing terrific. My kids have been unbelievably helpful, loving and accommodating. Though it's only been 5 days, our transition has gone extremely well.

I used Skitch to write her name on the photo. I think it's Mac only. Want an invite?

Posted Monday, December 31, 2007:
Today was born to us a daughter, Jacqueline Grace, at 10:44 am weighing in at 7 lbs. 15 oz. and 21" long. She is gorgeous like her mother with dark hair. My wife Alyx was incredible and awed the nurse and midwife with no screaming, shouting or pain medication. Jacqueline took to nursing within the first hour and has been wonderfully peaceful all day long. Thanks be to God for her safe arrival.

Hi I’m an iPhone. And I’m a Smartphone. - istartedsomething

A funny little cartoon about all the iPhone isn't.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The American Church in Crisis: National Research That Explodes Myth and Exposes Facts by David T. Olson

Church growth and health expert, Dave Olson is coming out with a new book next month, The American Church in Crisis: National Research That Explodes Myth and Exposes Facts. It will be published by Zondervan and according to Amazon.com, the pre-order price is $13.59.

On the one hand it's difficult to recommend a book that I haven't seen. On the other, a Dave Olson book won't be fluff. I'm buying it and if you are interested in trends in church health I encourage you to buy it also.

I originally saw that Dave was coming out with a book in this article: Religion's a top topic, but pew rates stay same- al.com

Friday, January 04, 2008

Funeral Service Wednesday for Don Peres - Evangelical Covenant Church

I just saw that my beloved friend Don Peres passed away. Don was a Covenant pastor and served as a Covenant Evangelism Associate with me. God's work in healing Don from a stroke was a testimony I'll never forget. I watched this man come back from a traumatic stroke that should have left him non-functional. I remember seeing him when he was not fully recovered and his vocabulary was limited, and I thought to myself, "For having few words this guy praises the Lord a lot." Don is probably holding tent meetings with Jesus right now.

Sex and marriage with robots? It could happen - Innovation- msnbc.com

Interesting article about the evolution of robots and their uses, and the possibility that they will become the romantic pursuit of humans. For "couples" where the man will be marrying "female" robots, the Ephesians command about submitting to your husband won't be such a problem.

I'm wondering how many pastors will have some sort of theological objection to marrying a human and a robot. Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman but Scripture doesn't say what kind of man or woman -- biological or engineered? Or what if the technology develops to the point of biological children with engineered parents.

This is going to bring up a whole slew of theological issues that aren't on our radar screens right now. We'll have to reinterpret or more clearly define Biblical sexuality morals in light of engineered beings potentially being sex partners.

I'm pretty sure I know which pastors won't object to the intermarrying of humans and robots. Sure. You thought I was going to say Episcopalians. Nope. At their current growth rate, they likely won't exist by the time these kind of robots appear. The pastors that won't object to the intermarrying of humans and robots are: robot pastors.

Robot pastors have a lot of potential. Won't have to worry about immorality issues unless the programmer is seriously devious. Robot pastors will likely get all their visitation done. Sermon Central will just be downloaded to them and we won't have to worry about plagarism. Always keep a spare robot around and there will be no sick days or high insurance costs. S/he will always be doing what the congregation, superintendent/bishop and denomination want. They'll be programmed to do so. Sounds like a win, win, win. Probably can even set him up with a spouse that plays the organ.

UPDATE: Just another news story about robots and their human qualities and our future relations with them. Expert predicts sex with robots for those under 35 | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Transformation Syracuse - Welcome -- index

Syracuse is being spiritually mapped, as many cities are, looking for strongholds and sins. Believers are then banding together to repent of their city/area's sin and break the strongholds. The theory is this: that sin opens the door for Satan to gain a foothold in a believer's life. Repentance closes that door. Unrepentance leaves that door open to Satan's power.

A further corollary: If it's true for the believer, it's true for the church -- both for individual churches and for the church catholic. Satan then gains a stronghold over a region when they continue to exist in disunity and unrepentant sin. Ed Silvoso, C. Peter Wagner, George Otis Jr., Chuck Pierce, Cindy Jacobs and others are promoting this theology.

You might not buy their theology but they are not heretics. They're Trinitarian and orthodox in their soteriology. And they promote unity amongst believers, holiness, deep prayer and evangelism. God bless 'em.

Transformation Syracuse is at the center of this in Central New York. Their next praise and worship gathering is next week: Friday, January 11, 2008 @ 7:00 pm at Faith Chapel -- Lee Simmons' church.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Civet Coffee - Porto Rico Importing Co.

I thought it was legend but it is not. Have you heard about the coffee that is harvested from the fecal matter of a Civet? Try this Google search for Palm Civet. The Civet eats the coffee beans, which then pass through their system undigested but processed. After the beans are harvested they are washed in mountain spring water, dried, roasted and sent to you to enjoy. All for $340 a pound. Read all about it here: New Civet Coffee - Porto Rico Importing Co.

No need to spend crazy amounts of money for good coffee. Buy Cafe Kubal coffee -- fresh roasted by Matt & Rachel Godard. Now that is serious good coffee. I've never had a bad cup of coffee from Matt. In fact, I've never even had a mediocre cup of coffee from him.