Thursday, May 07, 2015

Pray for Yemen

People who have been reading this blog for a while will know that I have a great interest in seeing the Gospel reach the people of Yemen. This is a country that has no indigenous Christian population, outside of a couple hundred converts from Islam. And their safety is often precarious of course.

And now, Yemen is undergoing a civil war, there are attacks from Saudi Arabia (and I'm not saying those are either good or bad, just tragic), and the country is cut off from the rest of the world. A small snippet of good news is that a five day halt to violence from KSA was announced so humanitarian aid can enter the country.

Pray for:

Yemenis to hear and believe in the Gospel
Indigenous churches to grow in each city and village
For the safety and boldness of indigenous Christians
For the civil war to end
For a lasting peace that comes from God, and not from killing

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Triune Human Soul

I very much liked this quote:
The human mind is triune in its being ordered to the transcendental splendor of the good, the true and the beautiful which resides in the Mind of God. Since the metaphysical is best expressed in terms of metaphor, we can say that the head can be seen as the seat of the True (reason), the heart can be seen as the seat of the Good (love or virtue) and the loins can be seen as the seat of the Beautiful (creation, pro-creation and sub-creation). The head, as the seat of the true, is the home of consciousness which seeks clarity; the heart, as the seat of the good, is the home of conscience, which seeks charity; and the loins, as the seat of beauty, is the home of creativity, which seeks chastity.
From HERE.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pray for Ali Khamenei: Terminally Ill with Cancer

This just in from Iran 30:

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is suffering from prostate cancer, which has reportedly spread to the rest of his body. Khamenei underwent surgery for his condition last September, and doctors estimate that the 75 year old has perhaps two years left to live.

And then the prayer points, which are very important:

Pray for
  • Khamenei’s salvation
  • His family
  • A successor that rules with justice and righteousness
Lord God Almighty, you know and love Ali Khamenei, and you have a wonderful and marvelous plan to glorify yourself and bring life to many through him, if only he will not harden himself to your love and grace. Even now, send your Holy Spirit to move in his heart, draw him to you, to your love and mercy, and above all to your Son our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury on Youth joining the Islamic State

Kudos to Archbishop of Century Justin Welby for grasping an important point and having the balls to say it out loud.

Going off to join the Islamic State (aka ISIS, aka ISIL) makes sense. I mean, it makes sense from the point of view that Christianity in Europe is pretty tame and lame and really offers no adventure for young men. And secularism? Ditto. You can play games, keep around, get stoned or loaded, you might even be able to be successful and make money (not likely these days).

But what if you are a young man who wants an adventure? Who wants respect and adventure and a great challenge in life?

As a Christian I would say become a missionary. God knows this has been a challenging and adventurous vocation for the last decade or so.

But the Churches in the UK don't do that sort of thing. Here are some key morsels from the article:
Young people are turning to Jihad because mainstream religion is not "exciting" enough, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury. 
The Most Rev Justin Welby told faith leaders that Britain's religious communities must do more to provide an alternative to extremism which gives young people a "purpose in life". 
He also warned against being too quick to brand people and groups with strong views on religious matters as extremists. 
Nothing will ever be achieved if the only conversations which take place involve "nice people talking to nice people about being nice", he said.
And:
But he added: "I would want to turn the question back to us as religious leaders and say to the faith communities: what are we doing that provides a narrative about purpose in life and commitment to society and benefits of a purposeful, flourishing life that is so exciting that the evil temptations offered by extremist groups of all cultures and types anywhere in the world including this country are simply paled into insignificance?

Read it all at VirtueOnline.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mark Steyn on the reprimitivization of the post WWII world

Mark Steyn is a provocative author and there is a great deal of panache in his style.

He recently wrote a post titled Living History which argues that the world after World War II is becoming more primitive and savage, not more enlightened and free. I find this thesis compelling.

Throughout the article he is debunking (and ridiculing) this Tweet from one Max Fisher:
People who think Christian sectarian militias are the solution to Iraq's problems could stand to read a history of the Lebanese civil war.
Here are a few sections that caught my interest:

A lot of things have gotten worse. If Beirut is no longer the Paris of the east, Paris is looking a lot like the Beirut of the west - with regular, violent, murderous sectarian attacks accepted as a feature of daily life. In such a world, we could all "stand to read" a little more history. But in Nigeria, when you're in the middle of history class, Boko Haram kick the door down, seize you and your fellow schoolgirls and sell you into sex slavery. Boko Haram "could stand to read" a little history, but their very name comes from a corruption of the word "book" - as in "books are forbidden", reading is forbidden, learning is forbidden, history is forbidden. 
Well, Nigeria... Wild and crazy country, right? Oh, I don't know. A half-century ago, it lived under English Common Law, more or less. In 1960 Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe, second Governor-General of an independent Nigeria, was the first Nigerian to be appointed to the Queen's Privy Council. It wasn't Surrey, but it wasn't savagery. 
Like Lebanon, Nigeria got worse, and it's getting worser. That's true of a lot of places. In the Middle East, once functioning states - whether dictatorial or reasonably benign - are imploding. In Yemen, the US has just abandoned its third embassy in the region. According to the President of Tunisia, one third of the population of Libya has fled to Tunisia. That's two million people. According to the UN, just shy of four million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and beyond. In Iraq, Christians and other minorities are forming militias because they don't have anywhere to flee (Syria? Saudia Arabia?) and their menfolk are facing extermination and their women gang-rapes and slavery.
And he has more to add to that. Check out the whole article HERE.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Son of Hamas: "ISIS is Islam"

With the Islamic State and others in the news so much, there has been a lot of thinking and talking and reflecting about to what extent the IS actually is (or is not).

President Obama recently came out with his standard, "Every religion has extremists" and "IS are not Muslims, they are terrorists" and so on.

I want to be clear that I am not saying that I necessarily agree with the following statement. It is provocative. I do think it is worth discussing though, because so many of the Christian converts from Islam that I know believe that this is accurate, and also, no one in the lame-stream media will even discuss this position.

So here is what the Son of Hamas has just posted:

When you recognize that ISIS is Islam, you free yourself from the naiveté of world leaders who tell you that ISIS is an anomaly of Islam, leaders that, I am sorry to say, include US President Barack Obama, who told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria recently that, “There is an element growing out of Muslim communities in certain parts of the world that have perverted the religion, have embraced a nihilistic, violent, almost medieval interpretation of Islam.”
What do you think? If you believe it wrong, then please explain why. Likewise, if you think it is correct, then why is it that most Muslims don't acknowledge the caliphate of Abu Bakr?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Atallah Hanna, the only Orthodox Palestinian Bishop

A colleague referred me to this interesting interview with Bishop Atallah Hanna. All the bishops of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem in the Holy Land are Greeks (weird, I know), with the exception of this single man. While almost all the indigenous Christians within the patriarchate are Arabs (or Palestinians), and most of the clergy are Arabs too, there is only one Arab bishop.

Here is part of one of his answers:

I am proud of my religion and nationality, I am proud to belong to my fatherland. I am a Palestinian, and I belong to this religious people who are fighting for the sake of their freedom and dignity to implement their dreams and national rights. 
I support Palestinians and share their cause and their issues. We the Palestinian Orthodox Christians are not detached from their hardships. 
The Palestinian issue is a problem that concerns all of us, Christians and Muslims alike. It’s a problem of every free intellectual individual aspiring for justice and freedom in this world. 
We the Palestinian Christians suffer along with the rest of Palestinians from occupation and hardships of our economic situation. Muslims and Christians suffer equally, as there is no difference in suffering for any of us. We are all living in the same complicated circumstances, and overcoming the same difficulties. 
As a church and as individuals we protect this people, and we hope a day will come when Palestinians get their freedom and dignity.
I just want to note that he doesn't mention here (or anywhere in the interview) that sometimes Palestinian Christians are mistreated by Palestinian Muslims. Indeed, I know of many such cases. 
Half the truth is a complete lie.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

"For the Sake of the Name: a letter to new missionaries in the Arab world" by Abu Daoud

I am pleased to share with you that I have recently published this article in St Francis Magazine (Vol 11:1).

I had the privilege of being part of the training and mobilization of this couple, and shortly before they moved to the Arab world, I wrote this letter to them. I thought it was worthwhile enough to share with a wider audience.

Here are a couple of the points of advice I offer:

  • learn from the ancient churches
  • remember that you are Americans and don't try to hide it
  • apply yourself to language acquisition above all
  • learn the history of the people and the country

And others. But read the article which contains a lot of other good stuff.

Read it all. Download the PDF from St Francis or check it out on Academia.edu.
But before I get to that, let me share with you my favorite Bible verse about missionaries, and I commend this to you: “For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles [that is, non-Christians]. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 7, 8). This might seem like the kind of verse you would use when fundraising, but I like it because it reminds us of who we are and what we do at the heart of our vocation: that we have gone out– out from our culture, from our homeland, from our language– and that this has been done for the sake of “the name”. Jews in the 1
st
 Century (as today) often did not want to pronounce the divine name (YHWH) because of its overwhelming holiness, so they would say “the Name” or “ha shem”. (May I note that the Hebrew 
shem 
 and the Arabic 
ism 
 are cognates?) But here John the elder means not God, but God as revealed in Jesus– 
Jesus 
 is now 
ha shem 
 or “the name”. There is much more one could say on these two brief verses, but let us move on to the heart and soul of this letter.