I can't believe how many people I've connected and re-connected to after many years on Facebook lately.
Do you have a Facebook account?
Look me up here.
A little over a year ago my buddy Norm handed me a DVD of Donald Miller giving a talk at a conference. It was incredibly interesting and, quite frankly, for me, unforgettable. The subject of the talk was God's use of narrative to tell His story in the Old Testament. The premise was that we all have a natural desire to be a part of the Story of God.
Anyway, here's a link to the audio version of that talk (* Windows Users: Right-click and select “Save Target As”; * Mac Users: Control-click and select “Save Link As”).
I just got done listening to it and I know I'll listen to it a few more times.
Here are links to a few other Donald Miller posts on this blog:
Last week I launched this new missions blog. I don't have much traffic to it yet and I'm still in the process of developing the site, but each week I'm going to list the past week's posts in order to raise awareness.
If you like news, stories and other things missions, keep checking back and link your blog to Missionary Scribbler and I'll return the favor.
And email me at info@missionaryscribbler if you have a story about a recent mission trip you took or have a something that people need to know about your favorite missionary.
This little girl is the most precious gift God could have ever given us. Susan and I were suffering from empty nest syndrome way too early in life so God, in His infinite providence and wisdom, gave our lives new purpose and fresh meaning. It is difficult to contain our excitement when we think about the possibilities and tremendous hope that Allie's little life will bring. We're thankful for the hope she has brought already.
What are you thankful for these days?
I posted yesterday about Team World Vision. Check the story below about Ryan and Sara Hall.
Olympic gold hopeful, Ryan Hall, and Team Running USA member, Sara Hall, have joined Team World Vision to use their running to make a global impact.
YOU CAN JOIN THEIR TEAMA message from Ryan:
"Joining Team World Vision was an answer to our prayer. Now we have something very tangible that we are fighting for out on the track, roads, or grass: to help the sick, orphaned, and poor all over the world."
> WATCH Ryan's story
To you from Sara:
"Running accomplishments in and of themselves, even when you've reached the top, are empty without being done for a greater purpose. Team World Vision equips you as a runner with a purpose for which to train, sacrifice, and compete: the ability to change lives of African children in areas impacted by AIDS!"
> READ Sara's blog
> ARTICLE from New York Times
I would love to see Team World Vision take off around the country. I was in a conversation recently with a woman that used to go to church with that was in a marathon in a large north eastern city. She noticed how small the Christian witness was in that race. It's not like that every where in the US, but groups like Team World Vision can definitely raise awareness for Christian causes in events that attract so much attention.
I appreciate Rockstar Runners blogger Glenn Lavender posting about this very cool way to sponsor a Christian relief organization and run a marathon. Check out Team World Vision's site to sponsor and run a marathon near you.
Obama has also put forward, if you look closely at the seal, the latin phrase Vero Possumus, which means (loosely translated) "Yes, we can."
The word makes me think of the abundance of possum road kill up around rural Vero Beach. But that's just me. That doesn't have much to do with politics or anything. It's just word association for me personally. It doesn't sell.
I like the seal below best. Change politics and stop there.
I could see this in ink on someone's bicep. It unforgettable. But Obama's artwork is quite forgettable.
This article is another study of Christian culture and marketing by a non-believer.
In Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, Radosh describes his experiences with the Cornerstone Music Festival, Christian comedians, creationist Ken Ham, Bibleman, Ultimate Christian Wrestling, Jay Bakker, and others.
Actually, he concludes, merging pop culture and Jesus isn't as bad as he expected:
"The best aspects of Christian culture the unabashed celebration of the transcendent, the challenge to crass materialism, the commitment to personal responsibility helped me see more clearly what is too often lacking in secular entertainment and media," Radosh writes. "Jesus' radical message of brotherhood, selflessness, and dignity may be just the antidote to our contemporary ethos of shamelessness and overindulgence.
A couple of years ago, I blogged about the book Body Piercing Saved My Life which was another look from the outside-looking-in at Christian Culture and marketing. Books like these, I think, are healthy to read and do a better job of telling the truth about our counter-culture movement than we ourselves do.
I'm in the process of creating a new blog that focuses on missions, missionaries, and the missionary curious. This blog will look at agencies, projects, mentors, missiology, books, training, and the nuts and bolts of ministering cross-culturally. This is a work in progress. Check in and see what's posted, how the layout changes, and most of all, give me some feedback.
Email me your missions stories at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell if you find a missionary's blog that we should all be reading.
A few years ago I had a column in the newspapers distributed by Scripps on Florida's Treasure Coast. I've not been able to ever find them online, but I found this reprint on a Christian newsgroup today. I was happy at the time to be a missionary on the field with the opportunity to tell my story from the African bush. Not too many people get that chance. I had to upload the text from a Sat phone from a place that ad no running water or electricity.
Since 1983, the year I graduated from high school, more than 17 million people have been killed in Sudan's civil war.
The mostly Christian South Sudanese are one of the most persecuted peoples in the world. Their brutal treatment and the violation of their human rights has only recently become common knowledge.
It is a heart-breaking situation that has left this African people isolated from the world community. Every day, people starve to death and are sold into slavery. Entire families are abducted or displaced, and news of it hardly reaches our ears.
The United Nations wants to provide famine relief for war-torn South Sudan, but U.N. guidelines will only allow the organization to distribute food and medicine through the Sudanese government. Since the Sudanese government considers the people of the south rebellious slaves, it rarely allows relief to reach the people who so desperately need it.
Humanitarian aid still reaches the south, but it must be done, for the most part, by missionary and humanitarian relief organizations. These groups deliver food, medical care, clothing and encouragement.
Operations are risky and expensive. They are handled with the same stealth, planning and precision that military special operations use when they launch secret missions. The government treats these missions of mercy as they would mercenary activity. The Sudanese government has even bombed hospitals in South Sudan operated by Samaritan's Purse, a Christian aid group.
Far Reaching Ministries
One unique organization has emerged to provide ministry and training to the people of South Sudan. Far Reaching Ministries, lead by Wes Bentley, 45, of Temecula, Calif., provides Bible and pastoral training to chaplains in the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army.
In a Bible college setting, candidates from churches throughout Sudan are sent to train for a year at the Chaplains Training School. New projects are launched regularly from the South Sudan ministry base. In Uganda, FRM ministers to orphans of the Sudanese war, provides medical care, and distributes clothing and blankets.
First missionary journey
When I first heard of FRM almost three years ago, I was not interested in overseas church work. But the moment I learned about the work that FRM was doing in South Sudan, something changed inside my heart. Somehow I knew that this was something to which I would dedicate my life.
On my first trip to Africa, I was met in Northern Uganda by a South Sudanese security team. The lead man was a Dinka tribesman named Peter Akech. Peter is my age and has been a fighting man since he was a teen-ager. His skin is so black that it has almost a purple hue. Etched into the skin on his forehead are tribal markings; two parallel V-shaped scars.
His team of six to eight soldiers drove us into South Sudan. The children in the Sudanese village chased the Toyota Landcruiser that brought me. I stepped out, and they crowded around me. They are fascinated by my white skin, hairy arms, and blue eyes.
Most of these children have never seen their reflection in a mirror. The chance that they will ever see a photograph of themselves is low. I take pictures of them with a digital camera and show them their pictures in the camera's viewer.
The women are strong, hard-working, and elegantly courteous. The men are friendly and love fellowship. They greet me warmly with a hearty handshake and a bright smile. When I teach in their churches, they soak up Bible teaching like a sponge.
The only thing these people possess is each others' friendship. I find myself praying constantly for these people. I pray that I would embrace friendship as naturally as they do. My heart breaks for their material poverty and desperate living conditions, but I am jealous of the community and ease they share. They lift one another's spirits even though they live in one of the world's worst danger zones.
On my third trip over, a friend who works in the ministry said something I thought was totally crazy. He said, "Bryon, the guys here really love you, and its obvious you are at ease around them. You and your family should move here and work with the Sudanese."
I had a long list of objections. But I knew that if the Lord was in this, He would overcome every obstacle I thought existed.
I began to see the Lord work through my conversations and circumstances. When I asked my wife, Susan, to pray about the direction the Lord appeared to be leading, she said, "I knew this was going to happen."
My son, Aaron, almost 14 at the time, said, "Sounds great, when do we leave?"
Charity, my daughter, would handle things differently. A 15-year-old daughter tends to be a little volatile when you tell her she will be moving someplace where Seventeen magazine won't forward her subscription.
Truthfully, Charity had been ready for something like this. She later told us she had been studying the book of Jonah in our church's youth group. Jonah's story inspired her to write a prayer in her journal. She told the Lord she always wanted to be willing to respond to God's call, no matter how difficult.
My house sold in record time. Family and friends rallied around us as our vision for ministry came into focus. Churches all over Florida jumped on board with us. In 90 days, all of the material possessions accumulated during 16 years of marriage were reduced to about eight boxes.
Our financial and medical needs were provided for.
The Lord confirmed His will and provided for us above and beyond all I could have thought possible. God taught me that He was leading and He would provide the faith, the resources, and the circumstances to fulfill His call.
Our introduction to Third World living has included several days without running water, frequent loss of electricity, and sleeping in mosquito netting.
We've eaten goat meat and fish heads. Some things we will adjust to quickly and others will take a little more time. But we will adjust. We are all aware that it is the Lord who has brought us here and that He has planned only good things for us. We are excited that He is preparing us for new ministry to people we are waiting to meet.
For more information about Far Reaching Ministries, or to contact the Mondoks, call (909) 677-4474 or e-mail frmoffice@.... © 2002 - The E.W. Scripps Co.
If you blog regularly, you need to know about Windows Live Writer. My buddy Rick write about it probably two years ago and I've been using it ever since. It comes with tons of tools to help you grab things like text and pictures from the Internet, re-work them on your computer, then post them on your blog. From time to time I'll publish the same post to two or three different blogs (this may be something about me that frustrates you). This is super easy to do with Windows Live Writer. You can click the link below to get more of the scoop.
Do you have an answer for fiery Islamic Religious Rhetoric? Do you have the guts to stand face to face against someone spewing it in your face and slamming your faith at the same time? Jay Smith does. Here's a bit I clipped from a Christianity Today piece about him:
At times, 10 passionate Islamic speakers, using a short ladder as a platform, roused equally passionate crowds of men in native dress, all punching the air, shouting "Allahu akbar." These individuals were imams or educated men of high standing. Women also attended. Combative free-for-alls between followers of different Muslim clerics erupted on occasion.
Smith decided to step right up and start speaking to the crowd. But he didn't get far. The crowd laughed at him. They pushed, punched, and cursed him, and yanked his beard (since shaved off).
"I was not expecting vitriol, aggression, physical abuse," Smith says. "This was way out of my comfort zone." Smith found addressing Muslims' objections to Christianity next to impossible. These adept debaters responded with challenges that Smith's years of apologetics and seminary studies had not prepared him to confront.
Click here for the complete article.
I was a pretty mean big brother to my littler bro'. I'm glad he didn't start working out or take on kick boxing so he could one day give me the trouncing I have coming to me. They say the best revenge is to live well. Don't get even. Get better. Well, my little brother Dan is working on becoming the best. This three time Iron Chef of Oregon was named Rising Star by Portland Metro newspaper The Oregonian.
I couldn't be prouder. Good job, Dan.
Diner's Rising Star 2008: Sel Gris by Roger Porter, special to The Oregonian Friday June 13, 2008, 11:07 AM The Oregonian Daniel Mondok
Daniel Mondok is a dreamer. He literally wakes up from sleep with an idea for a dish and wonders, "Could I do this?" He then sets about to figure it out. How to put an egg inside a pancake puff and keep the yolk deliciously runny? How to combine foie gras, tuna tartare and a bouquet of nasturtiums? Or make a potato soup with rillettes of skate and caviar? read the rest of the article here.
I clipped the following from Rob and Heidi Douglass' newsletter. They're serving down in Sri Lanka with Saving Grace World Missions establishing a Bible College.
Recently the American Embassy sponsored a BBQ and invited the American community to come out and meet each other. The hot dogs, potato salad and brownies were a taste of home! We sat down at a table with a young couple who were going to be in Sri Lanka for only three months. They were teaching English in a remote area and were glad to make the drive to the city to be with other Americans for the day. They asked us what we were doing in the country and that opened us up into an hour and a half conversation about the Lord. The young woman was from Morocco. She had been brought up Muslim and her father was an Imam (a Muslim spiritual leader). They asked how I had become a Christian. As I shared about my mothers influence upon me when I was a small boy, the girl kicked her boyfriend under the table. Clearly, he must have a praying mother back in the States as well! They kept asking questions, such as- "Why cant we just take the best parts of all the religions and put it all together?" We had an amazing conversation and I think I gave them one of the clearest Gospel presentations I had ever given. I really sensed God's Presence leading our conversation. Please keep this young couple in prayer- that the seeds of Truth they heard would take root in their hearts and they would come to salvation.
This is an interesting post over on Jan's blog...
Youvebeenleftbehind.com will do just that. You can subscribe to this service for $40 a year, and schedule alerts for up to 62 people. The notifications will be sent exactly six days after the rapture. According to Fox News, it's set up like this: "Final e-mails from vanished subscribers will be triggered when three of the site's five Christian staffers fail to log in for six days in a row." I was kinda wondering about that, because it wouldn't be very nice to have non-Christian staffers whose only job was to click the "Send" button after everyone else was gone.
Christianity Today has had some good articles about faith and politics. This one hit the web today...
Competence without virtue is poisonous. It simply makes one more effective at doing wrong. Furthermore, being virtuous is, in itself, an expression of competence. Since virtue is a requirement for leadership, a lack of virtue in a leader is a sign of incompetence and grounds enough for rejecting that leadership. Virtue is a personal matter, but it is never wholly a private one, certainly not in a President.
A man that has had a tremendous impact on me since my Bible college days is Gayle Erwin. I started to write about Erwin a few weeks ago when I saw him at the Calvary Chapel Pastor's Conference in Denver. He dusted off one of his old messages that the book Jesus Style is based on.
The question Erwin handles in this message is "how can I know when I've heard the voice of God?" A fair question; one we all would like to know the answer to. Erwin makes a case that if we have the attitudes and motivations that Jesus modeled, if we're living the Jesus Style, then the leading of God becomes quite discernable. So what is the Jesus Style? What are the attitudes/behaviors modeled by Jesus?
His end: Exaltation
Now contrast that with the, unfortunately, very familiar behaviors/attitudes of Satan:
Satan's end: Destruction.
I've found that when I'm most confused (which is most of the time) about God's leading is when ambition, making a reputation for myself, forcing my way, and self-exaltation are the highest priorities in my life. I want to know what God has in store for my future, but I'm trying to lead the way. So who's lord of whom? That's why I'm confused.
That first list, the Jesus list, is not the way I'm used to living even as a man in ministry. If you want to stay side-tracked, avoid the Jesus list. If you want to start knowing you're being lead by the Spirit of God, get the list up and running. It's simple. It doesn't seem like it's the way to make it to the top, but Jesus said, "the first shall be last and the last shall be first." Nothing seems so backwards as trying to be last or go unnoticed. But it's the key to clearly hearing the voice of God.
My wife signed a release form the first time I went to South Sudan to do missions work. She was warned that I could be taken hostage. I could be tortured. I could be dismembered or maimed. I could be murdered.
There are rebels. Beggars and bandits. Corrupt government officials. Pick-pockets. There are whole families of scam artists.
There are cobras. Black mambas. Scorpions. Land mines.
There's really not very many places to go potty that are comfortable.
But the most scary, horrifying, take-your-life-into-your-hands thing you can do is drive in traffic in Kampala, Uganda, the first stop on the way to Sudan.
These pictures are of a head on collision we got into fifteen minutes after I landed. I drunk driver was in the wrong lane. We were in an armored Landcruiser and they were in this little tin can. It was not pretty.
That's the car. The other drivers, our opponents, of you will, left the scene of the accident since they were drunk, hurt, and there's no ambulance service. You have to kind of find your own way to the hospital if you're hurt. It took about two hours for the cops to get there. They had about half-a-mile to drive from the police station.
If you're offered insurance before you go overseas, you should buy it. If you're not offered insurance, look into it yourself.
Am I wearing a hip pack? Oh, man. Sorry,