Pray for Honduras

This is just a special bulletin to ask you to pray for the people of Northern Honduras who have been hit with almost constant rain for the past month. The country is calling it a national emergency, which (as you might expect) means something much different in the third world.

Please join me in prayer for this country - the people who are struggling to escape the rains and those who are coping over the loss of loved ones. A family at the base of this mountain (where I live) was swept away with their home yesterday and the news is getting closer to home.
Read here for more information.

Also, if you're not up on your third-world news, the current Honduran President has made and is making some pretty poor decisions. He is moving towards a stronger relationship with Hugo Chavez, the current Venezuelan President who has long been wreaking havoc on South American affairs and anywhere else he can flaunt his oil clout.
Read here for more information.

Long story short, this country needs the prayer.

Application to Date my Daughter

My uncle, after seeing the line-up, sent me this great application to "Date my Daughter." As a youth leader, my application would be a little different, but kind of the same gist. I wouldn't as much threaten bodily harm as threatening me as a chaperone at their next dance, butting in and creating space for the "Holy Spirit" between them and the lady. Anyway, this is the dad version- enjoy!

Application For Permission To Date My Daughter
Note: This application will be incomplete and rejected unless
accompanied by a complete financial statement, job history,
lineage, and current medical report from your physician.
Name:________________________ Date of Birth:_________________
Height:_________ Weight:__________ IQ:_________ GPA:__________
Social Security #:___________ Driver's License #: Number:_______
Boy Scout Rank:_________________ Telephone:___________________
Home Address:______________________________________________
City:__________________________ State:__________ Zip:___________

1. Do you have one male and one female parent? ____
If "No", explain:

2. Number of years your parents have been married: ____
Any brothers or sisters? ____
Are they normal? ____

3. Do you own or have access to a van? ____
A truck with oversize tires? ____
A waterbed? ____

4. Do you have an earring, nose ring, or belly button ring? ____
5. Do you have a tattoo? ____

If you have answered YES to #3, #4 or #5, discontinue
application and leave immediately.
(I actually disagree with #4 and #5, I think an explanation would be in order though  )
6. In fifty words or less, what does Late mean to you?

7. Who did you learn your dancing styles from?
a) Rap videos
b) The movie “Dirty Dancing”
c) The Puritans

8. In fifty words or less, what does Abstinence mean to you?

9. In fifty words or less, what does Real Pain mean to you?

10. Church you attend: ____________________________
How often do you attend: ____________________________
11. When would be the best time to interview your mother, father
and youth pastor?__________________________

12. Please fill in the blanks:

a. If I were shot, the last place on my body I would want
wounded would be my ____________________________
b. If I were beaten, the last bone I would want broken would
be my_____________________________

c. A woman's place is in the ____________________________
d. The one thing I hope this application doesn't ask is
______________________________

e. When I meet a girl, the one thing I always notice about her
first is______________________________

Note: If answer begins with "T" or "A", discontinue and leave premises--keeping your head low and running in a serpentine fashion is advised.
13. What do you want to be if you grow up?

I swear that all the above information is correct to the best of
my knowledge under penalty of death, bodily harm, dismemberment,
torture or mental abuse.
Signature of applicant _________________________________
Signature of father _____________________________________
Signature of mother ____________________________________
Signature of pastor ___________________________________
Signature of State Representative _________________________

Thank you for your interest, and it had better be genuine and non-sexual.
Please allow 4-6 years for processing. You will be contacted in writing if approved. If denied, please never apply again. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Church- closed to the public?

The day that Caroline was stranded on a mountaintop, I was safe in little Des Moines, IA. Even though I was safe and sound, I was also stranded like my sister.

Stranded outside Des Moines churches.

Why? You say. How could this be? Well, let's travel back a week. Our church is sponsoring one of the biggest bands in Christian music, Starfield. The Student Ministries team (some of the coolest folks I know) split up the city to head to big churches in the area to chat with them about the concert and invite their youth groups to the concert. We headed to the first church, (Kudos, Johnston E Free!) which wasn't hard to find, and friendly folks were inside, so we briefly chatted, gave them the poster, and headed to the next place.

This is when some problems arose. As we canvassed different churches around Des Moines, we realized that getting into churches is easier said than done. We pulled into one church, and since there were two cars in the parking lot, we assumed at least a few people were working. But we tried every door around the place, and from the locked doors all around, we thought, "Well, this church must be locked on Mondays!"

So we moved onto the next church, confused about a church shutting down for a day of the week, but alternatively feeling a little jealous that our church didn't have the same day-after-worship-day perks. With the next church we got super lost, so after 40 minutes I finally *411-ed it and they gave us directions to their house of worship. After kicking ourselves for not seeing it before, we headed in that direction. When we got there, though, the front doors, again, were locked and windows dark! How could this be? We JUST talked to a nice lady on the phone who gave us directions! Since I had (wisely) had a text message of the number sent to my phone, I called the church again. They said of course we're open! All the doors on the back side are open! Hmm. back doors? Ok! We found our way in and gave them the materials, happy to have found our way into a church, to speak with a human inside. We thought, if this church, with locked doors and dark windows, had people inside, maybe the last church did too? So I *411-ed that church as well and what do you know! That church was open too! If you call having to enter in through the side door and pushing a small black button to buzz the office, "open."

My goodness! So we thankfully gave the info to that nice lady as well, and moved on. Our next church was, of course, dark and locked as well. By this time we were fed up. If there were people in there, we were getting to them. We walked around the entire church, banging on doors and trying to raise the reclusive workers inside. As we were about to give up and walk away, a nice guy surprisingly opens the front door, answering our door pounding plea. We give him the poster and move on.

It made me want to call our Office Manager, and thank her for keeping her office bright and lit.
It made me want to thank my Church for keeping their, clearly front, doors unlocked the majority of the time.
It made me want to ask these churches- If you're locking the public out,
Who are you hoping will come to your church?

There is no God?

So, if you haven't already seen the documentary, "EXPELLED" you should. But, today I want to recommend another link from one of the sites I wish I could spend more time perusing.

Check this out from BeThinking.org:

Flew Speaks Out: Professor Antony Flew reviews The God Delusion

Solution for Mahn-days

When I wrote the weekly lineup, I happened to be in a discouraged mood (and it also happened to be Monday). Two days and many power outages later, I'm finding encouragement and joy for the simple reason that I am doing better than I deserve. I stole that line from Dave Ramsey, who responds to the question, "How are you doing, Dave?" on his radio show with, "Better than I deserve."

It's not that I'll never feel discouraged, but I guess it's sort of an issue of perspective. In any case, I want to change it up a bit and make a musical suggestion.
____________________________

If you’ve not heard the musical stylings of Jon Foreman, you are certainly missing out. After the startling success of the West Coast band Switchfoot, lead-singer Foreman broke out on his own to blaze a new trail.

His songs may not be getting the most radio time. You may not be able to hum a familiar melody off his new four CD collection: fall, winter, summer, spring. The tunes might not catch on and sweep across the country like his past top hits. But, I can tell you this: Jon Foreman inspires, convicts, and speaks where other artists fear to say a word.

One of his songs, “Instead,” talks about the misplaced comforts of modern day Christianity. Foreman sings through frustrations with Christians who put on a show every Sunday but miss the point. “Instead, let there be a flood of justice, an endless precision of righteous living, living. Instead let there be a flood of justice... instead of your shows, I hate all your shows.”

Pretty strong language. He must have been reading up on Isaiah 58:5-7 when Isaiah admonished the Israelites, to whom fasting had become such a show. True sacrifice is to “loose the chains of injustice, untie the cords of the yoke and set the oppressed free...” Revolutionary, yet strangely familiar is Foreman’s new tune.

Things I learned traveling in a developing country...

I learned many things on our trip, here are a few:

  1. When traveling in a third world country, never assume you can pay with a card (or find an ATM). Places like restaurants, hotels, boating expeditions, they only deal in cash.
  2. Don't expect a local vacation destination to have the same luxurious flavor as we are accustomed. When they say two single beds and a futon - that's really all the furniture you've got... when they say "mini-bar" they mean small college-size fridge. But when we said 'get-away' we got EXACTLY that!!
  3. When you arrange for a boat to take you to a random island, don't expect a glass bottom... expect a converted row boat with a motor thrown on the back and a piece of fabric stretched across the top.
  4. When you find the sincerely local get-aways, you don't have to worry about touristy resorts. Our hotel was right down the gravel road from an orphanage. We looked to one side and saw the sea and to the other and saw steep foothills stretch for miles.
  5. Last thing to remember when traveling in a developing country... never, and I mean never plan to take a bus on Independence Day. Every little town, pueblo, and village is having a parade or some such festivity with the townspeople in full dress and full blockage of the main road. And, of course the main road is also the only main highway going through said pueblo. Our bus took many detours on side streets (which of course are dirt, rock, and pot-holes), but we also got to see some pretty splendid parades! We drove right alongside a beautiful float with children dressed as beautiful animals (even in the heat!!).

Maybe the most important thing I took away from this past weekend is God's ordained time to rest. I spent time searching His Word, reading good books, and having delightful conversations. Resting is so very necessary for a productive life and I'm thankful for this past three-day weekend (afforded by the Day of Indpendence on September 15) and the rest it brought with it.

Listen while you work (la da da da da da da)

Just a quick plug from Christina today- I was gone on a day- long work trip today (so fun! yeah!) so I haven't had any time at the computer. But for people that spend a LOT of time at a computer (like I USUALLY do,) you might want to check out this website.
You can find all the messages from great Sovereign Grace pastors and teachers. If you are looking for great, gospel-rich messages to listen to at work or on the road, THIS IS IT.

Futbol in Tegus

Okay, so if you're not already aware, soccer is a pretty big deal here in Latin America. Right now I'm playing once/week with the staff we can get together, but tonight I had the special treat of going into the center of the city to watch a Honduras team play Argentina at the large stadium.

It was quite a site - US fans have nothing on these characters. There was FIRE coming from a cheering section... several times and pretty big! They also shot off fireworks and burned memorabilia (right there in the stands!!).

We asked our friend Malvin how many gringas (that's us white folks) were in the stadium and then he looked at us and counted and then said, "four." So, we're trying to do culture here the way it's supposed to be done. We don't want things sugarcoated... and there was no fear of that. I was glad to not know a lot of Spanish slang, because I'm not sure what some people were yelling... and there were lots of different things flying through the air.

But, the main thing is this: I am seeing more of the city and developing a greater heart for it. If you haven't heard the Chris Tomlin song, "God of this City," then you must. My roommates and I have been in prayer about the vision God is giving for this place, for the students, and for outreach to the community. We want to be a part of those claiming this city in His name. And, getting to know the city is a great place to start.

Montagua (the Honduran team) lost tonight by one heavily contested goal, but we enjoyed every bit of it.

"The Shack" built on shoddy foundation, according to Challies

Heard about all the hype about the best-selling book- The Shack?

Proceed with caution, my friends.

Check out our new guide to discerning reading on the right, courtesy Tim Challies. After reading this article about The Shack, I was more than motivated to be discerning in my reading. Tim Challies has an amazing website, Discerning Reader, with book reviews and resources, if you want to check it out.

holy heartburn; an invitation

pre-script: I have been doing some writing for the Gathering blog and so posted this piece there in response to Jeff's Sunday sermon. Sorry for the duplicate!

As I listened to Jeff speak on Matthew 25:31-46 this past Sunday, I realized I drastically misunderstood God’s call for us to serve the ‘least of these.’ The severity of the passage is evident in the language, but the heat rising in my chest seemed like more than realization of the weight in such a responsibility.We heard about the overwhelming amount of ‘least of theses,’ awareness without action, and the passion of service.

overwhelmed

It just takes a brief look at some of the alarming statistics to feel the overwhelming wave.

  1. Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.Source 1
  2. More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening.Source 2
  3. The poorest 40 percent of the world’s population accounts for 5 percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for three-quarters of world income.Source 3
  4. According to UNICEF, 26,500-30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” Source 4

I’ve had the conversation so many times with myself, “Seriously, Caroline, what can you really do to fight AIDS?” “Yeah, but I should probably help somehow” “But even if you help a little, the problem is so huge, it’ll never get better.”

How depressing! That’s the trouble. Instead of looking at the problems of the world and saying, “How can I serve?” we look at the problems and say, “How can my service possibly make a difference?”

Our focus is all wrong. We are accustomed to getting a decent return on our investments. I don’t want to be a part of anything that isn’t successful, so every time I serve I should be able to see results. But, wait a minute, does God call us to serve for success or just to serve unto Him, for His glory?

awareness without action
Jeff called us out. We all know - we’ve all read the headlines and watched the nightly news. We can’t escape the knowledge that there are people in need around the world.

“It’s not an issue about awareness for most of us … people watch the news and then go on eating their dinner”

So, if I do decide to break my routine and serve as unto the Lord, what really is the right action? Instead of gravitating toward popular movements and giant foundations, what if the right thing to do is make it as personal as you possibly can.

“Many people know about poverty, but very few know the poor by name.” John B. Hayes

When Jesus says, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,’” he’s talking about getting real personal. And, here’s the thing, it will be much MUCH more rewarding (for the Kingdom and for yourself) if you break your routine for personal service.

passion; an invitation
This holy heartburn I feel rising in my chest is not condemnation for all the times I have “gone on eating my dinner.” No, this holy fire is in response to the greatest of invitations. Service has, quite unjustly, received a bum rap because it appears weak to the world. Yet, what Christ offers in salvation is a share in His suffering and a share in His future glory.

The way we describe and define passion today is very different from its original meaning, which is ’suffering’ and ‘agony’ and to have compassion is to ’suffer with.’

Even as I write now, I’m feeling again the heat rising in my chest. And, now I am sure that service is not penitence. It’s not our payment for all God’s mercy and grace. It’s not piety. Service is an invitation to know God; to share in the sufferings of the ‘least of these.’

The Kingdom is already and not yet. And in this tension, God has extended an invitation to us to take part in HIS ultimate redemption story.

as servants.

So... if you dig this serving thing, check out Compassion in previous post!

Change a child's LIFE forever!

You know all those ridiculous TV commercials that show children starving in the middle of Africa. And then they ask you for money? DON'T do it.

Do this instead - find out about Compassion. Because it's not about throwing money at the poor - it's about sharing hope. If we are truly about the 'least of these' let's show them!

http://downloads.thespringbox.com/web/wrapper.php?file=23896.sbw

A General Masquerade


In light of our reading Animal Farm and its symbolism of the totalitarianism government, "classically inclined" met to watch a French documentary tonight. The documentary, made in 1974, invites the audience into the life of
Ugandan dictator Général Idi Amin Dada.

This film is truly surreal. At one moment you are entranced by this jovial, disarming man and the next you are appalled at his confused and evil mind.

Here is a clip from Youtube.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBLSU2DIY80&hl=en]

You can find it easily enough, or if you are really ambitious and thrifty you can watch all 17 parts on Youtube.

Let me know what you think!

Bella

Oh dear!

I am quickly going to write a post tonight about my most recent tears over this movie, Bella. Tragic and ordinary. Ugly and beautiful. Lonely and communal.

When we've come to rest all there is at the river's edge, we become aware of our brokenness. Jose and Nina are broken creatures. They each lived not ignorant or innocent of the world in all its white-washed charms. So, we wait on our seats to see what they make of it.

We are each one tempted to make homes in white-washed tombs. But, see there is a choice.

There is life!
(sigh)

x

Texas heat and Prince Caspian

I was almost uncomfortable today in the Texas heat. But, as my mother quickly reminded me, "that's what you like, you know." One of my strong arguments for Texas and the South is the weather, so I have to be careful about complaining.

I called my mom after I left work today and she was tending a fire, waiting for it to die down enough to cook some bratwursts. Now, that's an Iowa way to usher in the summer months! I almost felt like I was right there - within ten feet of the flame. Then I realized that I was just walking on pavement under a clear, hot Texas sky.

I don't think "hot Texas" would make news anywhere, so why don't we move on to something more interesting - one of my favorite topics: C.S. Lewis. I went to see Prince Caspian.
---------------------
Like any good reader of brilliant fiction, I was disappointed with the first movie because it simply failed to live up to the glory of the film I produced in my head. So, given that, my expectations were quite reasonable for Prince Caspian.

No matter how much of the story is lost in film translation, the pure innocence of the child remains. Lucy Pevensey is of course the most endearing. We love her because we all try to remember a time when we were like her. Maybe some people liken her faith to Santa Claus and fairy tales, but Lucy understands what others are convinced to "grow out of." But we all secretly hope that we could be more like Lucy. We hope that it is possible.

What is so magical... so brilliant... is that C.S. Lewis did not intend this series to be exactly symbolic of the Christian story as we perceive it here on earth. Lewis instead asked the question, "If God had created a world (a different world, where animals could talk and trees could move and all sorts of other mystical things might happen)... if God had created another such world, what would redemption look like?" (He says something like this in his replies to children - see "Letters to Children")

Lewis uses the artistic gifts God gave him to pursue this idea to its outermost reaches. He stretched his imagination and took us along. Sure, we are captivated by the characters, the magic, and the absurdities, but the true hook is in the brilliance of reflecting something much greater.

C.S. Lewis so artfully asks us to think about redemption outside of ourselves.

words - interrupted

I don't watch much television, but the little that I do see reminds me that society has just as much potential to regress as progress.

I just recently saw this ad by AT&T where the mother starts talking to her daughter (and mother?!) in text-speak. I actually found the clip on splendAd, called "IDK Scrabble."
http://www.youtube.com/v/zb7wRxXTZK8

So, the mom concedes defeat as a parent, but then AT&T tells us we should all be so lucky: now, it's FREE. That's just what I'm hoping for when I have kids someday - free defeat.

REALLY? Are we really okay smashing a bunch of letters together in place of thoughtful, intellectual conversation?

Today just after I finished up work I got a phone call from a fellow 'classically inclined' book clubber. We are reading "A Clergyman's Daughter" by George Orwell right now and he shared his sincere interest in the imagery, style, and character development. Our discussion lasted no more than 15 minutes, but when I got off the phone I felt a bit inspired. He mentioned this idea of 'the dumbing down of American society,' that we use so few words now and miss the weight of reality by doing so.

Words communicate ideas. If the only ideas we have running through our heads can be communicated by a string of disjointed letters, how much progress are we really making?

the world is bigger on FM 969

I almost gave up. I had driven back and forth so many times on FM 969 that I was tempted to stop at the roadside, knick-knack garage sale and head back home.

I drove in and out of several drives until I saw a wee-bitty sign poking out from an overgrown entrance. Austin Samaritans shared the sign with another local non-profit and between the two of them, the inches were precious.

I wound my way around the curves into a ghost town. The layout suggested maybe a school or education center, but the weeds had long declared this territory. I finally came to a cluster of cars, and, relieved, saw the most-welcoming registration table, where I signed a form saying I wouldn't hold anything against anybody if something happened.

This weekend my church organized Serve Austin at local organizations; to build capacity through service, to be obedient and effective as servants, and most of all to magnify the Lord. And that's how I ended up in a deserted school on FM 969. Not too long ago, Austin Samaritans moved their warehouse operations to a small portion of this school. From this humble space, they collect surplus medical supplies to ship to Nicaragua, where a hospital anxiously awaits every box.

Nicaragua, I learned, classifies 85% of their population as being below the poverty line (defined as $1/day). Next to Haiti, its the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

As we sorted today, we came across medicines, sterile needles, infant formula, x-ray film, syringes... the list is endless. As we worked, we speculated at the reception of this package. I came upon some loose cottonballs and instinctively wanted to trash them, but thought about how resourceful I would be if I didn't know cottonballs were so easy and cheap.

We are so flippant with surplus! Every single thing sorted today would have been in the garbage dump, completely useless and adding to the alarming amount of waste. But now, with the vision of a few to bring first the transformation of Christ, the people in this Nicaragua hospital might understand how the true gospel is to care for the orphan and the widow.

I just kept thinking, "This should be every day."

And so, as I meandered out of the hidden drive, I wondered at all the acts of service and all the giant foundations and galas and bake sales. For some reason it struck me that so much was happening in this little place just off of FM 969 with out any hoopla.

The world outside is still consumed, wasteful, and self-absorbed, but in this little place the world is a little bigger... and purpose a little greater.

expelled, a review

Before I forget, I went to see the movie expelled last week. I went alone because I didn't want to worry about what other people were thinking. Sometimes when I go see a movie with other people I try to figure out how they are processing everything and forget to process it myself.

There was much to process! In the fashion we've come to recognize as Michael Moore (though absent some of his antics), we look at the controversy surrounding evolution, intelligent design, and science. I thought the film brought long-hidden things to light, such as the faith of the early brilliant scientists who saw science not as separate but as another means to bring glory to God. I also thought interesting and poignant the critical conversation with Richard Dawkins in the middle of the film when Ben Stein asked (I would say to the point of insult) if he believed in any God.

After Dawkins said he certainly did not believe in any sort of God at all, Stein went on to ask him how sure he was.. and Dawkins came up with something in the 90th percentile.. and when pressed he was unsure and it could be in the 50 percent range. And then when pressed further about the origin of life he said it could be possible that something or someone reached down and set life into motion.

Interesting.

The rest of the film moved to social Darwinism, seen as a very different animal. The parallels of the Holocaust and even the Eugenics movement were presented as natural steps from Darwin's Origin of Species. I think this could spark some very interesting conversation. Because, whether admitted or denied, we arrive at science from a particular worldview. A darwinist is not going to prove macro-evolution by way of researching Creation. No, normally one proves a point by finding research to support that point. I think this is where we see the suppression the film talks about. I am not sure of the exact instances on which these scientists were released from their contracts and positions, but I did hear something similar in their reactions. These scientists were not setting out to prove macro-evolution; they were setting out to find truth.

It seems that controversy it will remain, but I hope that we can see (as those brilliant beacons in our history - Pascal, Newton) that science and Christianity will not lead us to two different ends.

We will all arrive at Truth. Some will be dismayed and others full of joy.

Justin Taylor has references Joe Carter over at between two worlds in his discussion on this topic.

Also another reference site for the evolution/creation/intelligent design debate is the Veritas Forum.