Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A sobering warning about the dangers of...

From a young man raised in a Christian home:

“I have found myself in deep trances and other worlds through the usage of this drug and have found my life radically altered and changed and by it. I found this drug to be a powerful driving force and easy gateway into a world of sex, other drugs, rebellion, homosexuality, alcoholism and many other dark things. I have found such an incredible power in this drug that will completely carry one’s mind away into a very real spiritual realm. My mind is completely controlled by this drug and there is no way at all for me to break free.

What is this mind altering life changing drug that has such an incredible power?
Well, one of the main persons who has helped make this drug a powerful force in my life has been Marilyn Manson…….

The drug that I use and am addicted to is commonly known in our culture as… Rock Music.

I sold my soul to rock and roll mind control……”

The young man who posted those words on an Internet forum is believed to have been Matthew Murray, who went on the shooting spree at churches in Colorado a few weeks ago.

For more details, see

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Learning the Price of Freedom...

This is a very short, very touching video of an American soldier being reunited with his daughters.

After you have watched the whole video, scroll down in this email for my commentary on it. (Don’t scroll down until you have watched it.)


  • Freedom is not free. There is a cost to it.
  • Freedom means more to those who have purchased it, and to those who love those who purchased it, than to those who are merely recipients.
  • The daughters are blessed to learn these lessons at such a young age.
  • These lessons apply just as much to spiritual freedom (freedom from sin) as to political freedom. God paid the ultimate price to offer us freedom from sin. Those of us who love the Savior ought to be stirred every time we sing of Him.
  • For God to sacrifice His Son to save us from our sin would like this sergeant sacrificing his daughters to save Osama bin Laden. Romans 5:10 (NASB), “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”

Monday, December 24, 2007

Scientific research validating the Star of Bethlehem

If you haven’t already heard about it, there is some new and very interesting research validating the Bible’s account of the star of Bethlehem.

If you are a cheapskate like me, you can save the cost of the DVD, watch the trailers for free, and read the synopsis of the data for free. -- the main site -- the trailers (watch BOTH) -- the stuff you can read

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I have recently been getting some very interesting articles and links from what amount to four different perspectives on Islam and its struggle with the West. I’d like to share them with you.

But if you don’t have time to read and watch all this, here is the bottom line, as I see it now:

Most Muslims have never seen a living demonstration of true Christianity. The battle with Islam will not be won with bombs.* If it is to be won, we must show the love of Jesus to them through our lives.

* As you will see, I am not against defending ourselves militarily. But as you will also see, our military defense is not going to win this war.

Perspective 1: The Violence of Radical Islam

There are credible voices showing how violence is connected with Islam.

If you haven’t seen “Obsession: The Movie” I highly recommend you watch the trailer and a 12 minute excerpt from the movie. You can watch them for free. The trailer is at And the 12 minute excerpt is at

You will notice in “Obsession” that a lot of their video clips come from Memri TV. Memri TV monitors Arabic TV throughout the Middle East and translates it into English. If you want to dig deeper into what the Arabic media is saying, is a gold mine of information.

Perspective 2: Muslims are the Victims

I have Muslim friends in the Middle East who are very upset by the accusations that Islam is a violent religion.

One thing I have learned from talking with them is how differently their media reports things compared to the way our media reports things. As “Obsession” says, Muslims (even the peaceful ones) see themselves as being the victims. They genuinely believe Islam itself is under attack by the West. They see themselves as fighting a defensive war.

As Americans, we believe we are the ones fighting a defensive war.

When both sides believe they are fighting a defensive war, it makes prospects of peace dismally low.

In an all-out military battle between the West and Islamic countries, I think the Islamic countries would probably win, because they are more motivated. They have a religious reason for fighting (to defend the honor of Allah).

If you don’t believe me, here is an informal essay written by a Muslim friend of mine from the Middle East. This young man is adamant in assuring me that he is not one of the terrorists (Al Qaeda, etc), and I believe him. And yet in his words you will sense the anger, the pent up frustration, of the common, “peaceful” Muslim young man.



Muslims are not all terrorists , I HEARD those words many times from u That is not a right meaning, u should say Muslims or Islam is not calling for terrorism coz in any side of life unfortunately terrorism exist in Islam and Christianity and in any field

do u forgot what in spain which called ETA terroristic group which explode many things in spain and lastly a train full of people

did u forget also in england and the irish forces which all the time get in wars with england

did u forgot the usual fights happened between certain christian groups in certain feasts in europe all that is terrorism too

and MAFIA in italy and all that violence from christian people

and u didnot answer my past questions about if any islamic country undergoing injustice killing and torturing and occupation upon any christian country ???

u will not find but u will find many christian countries making this upon us and u forgot that violence lead to violence so stop urs get out of our lands let our riches and oil and stay in ur countries and stop ,then u will find no crazy people harming anyone

1-did u forgot what russia made in chechnya and kosovo

2-did u forgot what serbia made in bosnia

the serbians made catastrophic mass destruction of the european muslems in Bosnia and HERSEK

awful ways of killing women and even killing 1st their children in their wombs by knives before they kill them and rap them and crush the men with their tanks in bosnia and chechnya by serbia and russia

3-did u forgot what is going in Iraq

u didnot hear about ur soldiers who rapped girls there and sometimes killing all the family afterwards to erase any evident after he enjoy the girl

4- did u forgot the awful techniques of torturing happening in guantanamo prison

yes it is awful do u wonna me to tell u what r they made in the humans there no i will not tell , u will not sustain such things
i read that in essays in our journals and such things ur media does not say or show it

5-did u forget what happened in Abou Ghrib prison in iraqe by ur christian soldiers

did u loved when ur soldiers unclothe the prisoners and put them naked on each other in sexual positions is that what ur soldiers have been learned in Christianity

should i say now christian terrorism and sex passion

did u know that any Iraqi man refused to be disgraced like so and be with dignity the american christian soldiers just shot him with cold blood with a bullet in the head in front of the others

was not those the american christian soldiers

and why even from the beginning the prisoners got in prison in Iraqi or even in Palestine coz they defend their land against that invasion

who invaded Iraq for nuclear weapons and then found nothing after he did nothing but destroying a nation and excited the civil war there did u forgot all that

didnot u notice Iraq before and after the war it was even very better under the bad saddam authority

what can i call all that ,it is the real terrorism

and afterwards u call us terrorists coz of some group of people call themselves Al_Qaieda

donot u know the history of that terroristic group u will be amazed when u know they have been grown up and be strong with the help of america when usa helped osama bn laden with money and weapons to struggle against the russian occupation to afghanistan the american helped bn laden to fight against russia that was invading afghanistan that was the original of osama bn laden u made him and now u suffer what u blot for others

why do u forget the reasons for that terroristic group they fight coz they found much tyranny of u like i mentioned b4 and coz also ur blind support to the Israeli invaders and occupiers they make terrorism coz they find u occupy Iraqi afghanistan and others for nothing but oil and to invest money in after u destroyed the country ,u take money back for building after the destruction u made for no real reason

did u know y that group gone crazy ,coz of ur endless war against us

6-did u ever heard that muslems dishonor ur holy book cut it or put it in dirties and so while u did that with our holy book many times in guantanamo and every where

should i say now all christian countries are lands of terrorism

that was in the recent times only

and i didnot talk about the last century that u were invading all Africa for their riches and oil and the crusade wars and others

and if u will say u also made wars in the beginning of Islam so come on lets discuss our so old so little just wars ,

some of those wars were only for defense after others attacked us

coz the people did not love to worship ONE GOD and loved to stay worshiping idols and statues

and in any other islamic war done in the old times u will find no muslem kill a kid or a woman or an old man or cutting a tree or burn plants or harm churches or harm any people devoted themselves to worship god in those churches read the history and know and stop ignorant accusations

that is our rules for just wars and never made a war with out informing the 2nd part 1st that we need to enter ur country to spread the word of god , we want them only to hear our call coz in those days there was no media and internet to know,that is why we should go ourselves and ask people to Islam if they love to convert that is ok and if they stayed like they are its ok too

and coz those unconverted people will not fights against any enemy come to them and we muslems who will fight to defend them they will pay [if they can afford and have money] so little money called [GIZYA] for protection coz we will protect them against any enemy come to them and if they want to fight with us against any enemy come they will not pay any thing

only those who pay is men who can fight not women or children or old men

and if we failed or could not be able to safe them from the enemy we will pay for them the money back coz we did not safe them so we do not need their money ,read the history and all that really happened in islam b4 we didnot took money from non muslems if they fight with us against the enemy came and we pay them the money back if we failed to safe them that is history and it is even ok if they didnot pay the money if they donot have and poor

for example christians in egypt donot pay any money coz they fought with us in army against any enemy like what happened when Israel invaded us in 1967 we both muslems and christians fought together against Israel and thank god we could later in 1973 liberate our land from them and last square kilometer from our land taken in 1989 so that every centimeter of our land had been liberated but for syria and lebanon and Palestine , Israel still occupy parts of those lands by force and help of big countries

so our wars was only to spread the word of god coz there was no media and to remove the obstacles hinder people to know what is islam but once they hear our words and call its up to them to believe in islam or not we not force them ,

all we need to spread the word coz the kings at those times prevented us to spread islam so we had to fight against the king army to tell the people then its up to them to believe or not that was the reasons of all the previous wars that can be counted on hands and many of them was just for defense when other empires hate our increase in number and thought they can eradicte Islam but no one can coz it is the last message of GOD

research again at least in the present time who is the terrorist who occupy and invade and kill and torture and unclothe people in such disgraceful way ................

and all those u claim they are terrorists and u keep them in ur prisons and torture them was just defending their own occupied land against the invaders either in Palestine or Iraq or afghanistan

plz stop the tyranny and u will find no reason for terrorism though it is not allowed at all to harm any peaceful civilian either he is with us or against us

sorry but i cannot sustain more claims while its us the muslems who bleeds every where and i will be glad to exchange more information about both religions without accusations

read history and research what u claim or ask for answers



The same friend also sent me a link to a short YouTube video. It’s in English, and I highly recommend you watch it:

Again, it shows, in a haunting, pathetic way, how Muslims feel themselves under attack.

Perspective 3: Pursuing Theological Harmony between Islam and Christianity

There is a movement underway to attempt to bring peace between Islam and Christianity through theological dialogue. A number of Muslim clerics have issued a 15 page statement calling for peace between Muslims and Christians on the basis of the two basic commandments, “Love God” and “Love your neighbor”. Full text of their statement can be found at

Headed by scholars from the Yale Divinity School, a Christian response has been written to the Muslim statement. The response is appreciative of the Muslim statement and basically welcomes further dialogue. Here are the last few paragraphs from the Christian response:

“Let this common ground” the dual common ground of love of God and of neighbor “be the basis of all future interfaith dialogue between us,” your courageous letter urges. Indeed, in the generosity with which the letter is written you embody what you call for. We most heartily agree. Abandoning all “hatred and strife,” we must engage in interfaith dialogue as those who seek each other’s good, for the one God unceasingly seeks our good. Indeed, together with you we believe that we need to move beyond “a polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders” and work diligently together to reshape relations between our communities and our nations so that they genuinely reflect our common love for God and for one another.

Given the deep fissures in the relations between Christians and Muslims today, the task before us is daunting. And the stakes are great. The future of the world depends on our ability as Christians and Muslims to live together in peace. If we fail to make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony you correctly remind us that “our eternal souls” are at stake as well.

We are persuaded that our next step should be for our leaders at every level to meet together and begin the earnest work of determining how God would have us fulfill the requirement that we love God and one another. It is with humility and hope that we receive your generous letter, and we commit ourselves to labor together in heart, soul, mind and strength for the objectives you so appropriately propose.

Hundreds of Christian leaders from a variety of denominations have publicly signed on to this Yale-initiated statement, including Robert Schuller, David Yonggi-Cho, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Leith Anderson (president of the NAE) and (most surprisingly to me) John Stott.

You can read the full text of the Christian response, as well as view the signers, at

I’m certainly not against Christians showing love to Muslims. In fact, we must do so. However, to me anyways, Yale’s “Christian” response seems to be heading in the direction of “I’m OK, you’re OK” theological fogginess. It seems to say that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, which is definitely untrue. There are certain common traits of the Muslim and Christian God (for example, both religions believe God to be omniscient) but the differences are fundamental. A genuine Christian and a genuine Muslim both believe (sadly) that the other person is going to hell. A genuine Christian and a genuine Muslim will always be fundamentally separated by their understanding of how we obtain God’s forgiveness.

Perspective 4: Love Our Enemies

David Witt’s excellent audio book, “The Spirit of Martyrdom: For the Love of Muslims” ( and Brother Andrew’s excellent book, “Secret Believers”, share a common thread which I find the most promising of the four perspectives.

As Christians, we believe that God loves not only the righteous, but even His enemies.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:6-10, emphasis added)

God is calling Christians to become living demonstrations of the love of Jesus for His enemies. God (who was the one offended, not the offender) took the initiative to make reconciliation possible with His offenders (us). It cost Jesus His life to offer reconciliation to His offenders. The Muslim Allah would never give his life for his enemies. The very concept would be repugnant to their religion. Thus, they have no theological pathway for reconciling with enemies. They can reconcile only with the repentant. Thus, in the collision between the two religions, it is up to Christians to be the initiators of reconciliation. We have available to us both the theological framework and the power of God to do what Muslims cannot: love our enemies in practical, tangible ways.

The only question is: will we?

Give us the courage and humility and understanding to do this, Lord Jesus.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Online places to read the Quran in English

If you talk to Muslims on Skype (or off Skype) you know how bewildering it can be to try to find out what Muslims really believe.

It is sometimes helpful to take the conversation back to their source: the Quran.

Here are a few links that I’ve found helpful for reading the Quran in English. (One thing you will discover is that there are not any really clear English translations of the Quran. They are all rather foggy. Maybe that is just the nature of the Quran?) (the most clear translation I’ve found) (compare 4 different English translations simultaneously; it also shows which verses have been abrogated (cancelled) by other verses). – you can download a complete “Study Quran” (called “The Noble Quran”) for free from this site. It has a lot of helpful explanatory footnotes, plus it is produced in Saudi Arabia and seems to be something of a standard reference. The only bad thing is you have to use the free (shareware) WinRar to extract the PDF file.

From talking to Muslims around the world on Skype, I’ve found that most of them are warmhearted, friendly people. I try to focus my conversations with them away from terrorism. Some of them do try to defend terrorism – their news media has been unbelievably skewed to where they see the US and Israel as violent aggressors and they think we are out to take over the world. Instead, I try to focus our conversations on the core difference between our religions, and the primary problem with Islam: how Islam deals with sin versus how Christianity deals with sin. In Islam, as well as all the other major religions of the world, sin is seen as something man can overcome and cancel out by good actions. The religions each have their own “checklist” of “do this and it will cancel out your sins and you can be right with God”… confession, prayer, giving money to the poor, fasting, attending church/mosque, visiting Mecca, etc. Jesus, on the other hand, has a radically different view of sin and atonement. The message of the Bible is consistently that my sin is so serious that nothing I can do could pay back for my sins. In God’s view, my sin is so heinous that only the blood of His perfect Son shed in a horrid death on a cross could atone for my sin. This view is offensive to Muslims (and indeed, to all other religions and the human heart in general). No one wants to believe they’re that bad of a person. But to say otherwise, to say that doing good actions can atone for our bad ones, is to say that Jesus died unnecessarily on the cross.

For a great video explanation of the Christian view of sin and atonement, see Or for a text version, you can visit

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A great reminder of the importance of prayer...

Think your prayers for suffering Christians don’t matter? Check out this 6 minute documentary movie from Open Doors to be encouraged that your prayers are vital for our persecuted brothers and sisters!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Great singing by a Christian Welsh tenor

Thanks to Gail Pate for sending me a link to a secular Welsh tenor singing. That reminded me of a Christian Welsh tenor, Huw Priday, whose music I thought you’d enjoy.

To watch a few samples, go to:

Just think how great the music will be in heaven!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If you've ever wanted to have your own web site...

If you’ve ever wanted to have your own web site, but were afraid you don’t have the technical skills to do it, Google has designed an easy web site hosting service that is totally free.

Thanks to Arne Gasch for telling me about

To see the site that Arne has created using Google Pages, go to

There are many options for how your web site can look, and Google Pages makes it very easy to do.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A handy, accurate, and free Bible

Recently I learned about a new translation of the Bible into English, called the “NET Bible” (New English Translation). Unlike some other modern translations, this one is extremely accurate. For heavy-duty Bible students, it has the most in-depth notes I have ever seen in a Study Bible.

It’s available for free download at

If you don’t want to download it into your computer and prefer rather to read it over the Internet, you can go to

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Scripture like you've never heard it before

This 11 minute video clip is really tremendous. A man named Ryan Ferguson quotes Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 from memory. That in itself is neat, but the way in which he quotes them is incredible. These chapters are what we would normally think of as theologically “heavy”, but when he gets to 10:23 the audience cannot restrain their applause, not for him, but for the message of the Bible itself.

He “preaches” the text with such enthusiasm and clarity that you at first think “He must be using one of those modern translations that ‘spice up’ the Bible to make it sound more interesting.” But no, he’s using the ESV, which is definitely toward the “literal” end of the translation spectrum, more literal than the KJV in fact. (See for a handy comparison chart of Bible translations, if you’re interested.)

The reason why Hebrews 9 and 10 “come alive” when Ryan quotes them is simply because of the way he quotes them. This shows that Scripture could come alive for any of us if we simply thought more deeply about what we read and read it with the same passion with which the writers wrote it.

Anyways, here’s the video. Enjoy it!

Monday, October 15, 2007

John Piper: "I am afraid... of the entertainment culture"

John Piper is unusual in his ability to talk in abstract theological terms in one breath and then (in this case, after pausing mid-sentence for a cough) plunge down into the depths of utter practicality with a speed that leaves you breathless. At first you wonder, “How does this issue relate to any of what he was just talking about?” and then he begins to connect the dots and you see that they were very much connected all along.

This short video is a great example – and a stirring message.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Life Without Limbs

Someone sent me this link and it is really incredible.

If you don’t have high speed internet, you can still get an idea what it’s about by going to

If you do have high speed internet, the link below will amaze you.

It’s a 22 year old man who was born without arms and legs, but who by God’s grace has a ministry of speaking around the world.

I hope you enjoy it! I think it will really encourage you.


This 25-min clip is amazing!
This guy is physically the most unusual motivational speaker you've ever
seen, and he has an unforgettable message. Check it out!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Richard Dawkins doesn't exist!

This 6 minute video is intriguing as well as humorous. It uses atheist Richard Dawkins’ arguments against the existence of God to prove that Dawkins himself doesn’t exist!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A challenge to Christians

A Muslim friend sent me a link to a video of a Christian preacher who became a Muslim.

You can watch it yourself at or read a summary at

To a genuine Christian, the conversion story of Skip (now Yusuf) Estes will not ring true. It’s obvious that he was not a genuine follower of Jesus before his conversion to Islam. (It comes out even more clearly in the video, than in the written account, how small his working knowledge of the Bible (and Islam) was when he was a “Christian” preacher.)

Nevertheless, this is a sad story and one we should take to heart. As Paul said, “Lest having preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.”

There is another valuable lesson in this. Estes over simplifies and twists facts to make his points about Christianity. I don’t know enough of Islam to know if he’s doing the same for Islam, but the fact that he was inaccurate in his description of Christianity causes me to wonder how accurate he was in his description of Islam.

The reverse is true for us as we try to share Jesus with Muslims. If we make inaccurate statements about Islam, they will not trust our words about Jesus. Unfortunately, there is inaccurate information about Islam floating around in some Christian circles today. What makes Islam confusing to understand is that there are so many understandings of Islam floating around even in the Islamic world. Some are violent and some are more peaceful. If we accuse a peaceful Muslim of being a violent Muslim, he will conclude we have an inaccurate knowledge of Islam and doubt our accuracy about Jesus also.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A sad story from China

A couple days ago a Chinese friend sent me an interesting item about a 90 year old American woman born in China to missionary parents, who returned to China 8 years ago after her husband died. Eunice Moe Brock has dedicated her remaining years to helping the poor in her section of China, and she shows no signs of dying soon.

You can read about her here:

I was about to proclaim her a modern day Caleb (see Joshua 14:6-14) when I made a terribly sad discovery.

On, several of Mrs. Brock’s recent emails are posted. The following is extracted from one addressed at Chinese people. Note first of all how articulate she is. How many 90 year olds do you know who can write this coherently? Second, notice how wrong she is. (Oh, how sad!)

Growing up among devoutly Christian missionaries I also accepted the Christian faith but even as a child I could not bring myself to believe that God would burn anyone eternally in hell. Since I was taught that doubting the church doctrines was a sin I was troubled by my doubts. The year of my fourteenth birthday my parents were in America attending many religious services to raise money for their missionary work in China. I was with them and heard many sermons about the sins God would punish and many dramatic descriptions of the bliss of heaven and even more dramatic descriptions of the fires and torments of hell. As I didn't agree with these preachers about a number of things, especially the doctrine of hell, my doubts became an unbearable weight on my spirit. The church was in a wooded area with a stream flowing by.

On my fourteenth birthday I hiked along the stream until I came to a spot secluded by trees and prayed to God. I expressed how burdened I was by doubt not knowing what to believe or where to seek for satisfactory answers. The only thing I could think to do was to seek for truth. I promised God that I would seek for truth and would live by the truth I found. The distressing burden of doubt vanished and I felt an exhilarating sense of freedom which I continue to enjoy… It took a number of decades to shed enough dogmas to join the Unitarian Universalist (U.U.) church…

Because we have within the membership of the church Jews, Buddhists, Christians, atheists and many who haven't decided what to believe, many programs and events are planned to encourage us to learn about and appreciate each other. The church provides not only programs to stimulate personal spiritual growth but also programs to deal with social problems within the community and world at large. Children and youth are active in church programs. One that I consider very significant is conducted for ninth graders. Several U.U. churches cooperate. Youth in the ninth grade who choose to take part in the program are taught through fall and winter in church school classes about the culture and religion of two very different native American tribes, the Navaho and the Hopi. In the spring they go by bus with their counselors to visit these tribes where they are welcomed and included in the tribes ceremonies. The youth develop an inside-their-heart understanding and appreciation of religions different from their own. The tribes' leaders understand and value what the church is teaching its young people. I believe in God whom I call Cosmic Consciousness (C.C.)... I believe every person to be a chip off Cosmic Consciousness. Therefore I respect not only your worth and dignity but also your divinity…

If you have trouble discerning what’s wrong with Unitarian Universalism, you can read this helpful link: Essentially, it contains a lot of “postmodern” ideas – you can believe anything you want as long as you don’t say that other beliefs are wrong… which means that truth is relative. It is certainly an appealing religion, but not one that can save anyone from sin.

I hope that Christians will take a lesson from Mrs. Brock’s passion and courage in getting out of her comfort zone at an age when most are thinking about TV, nursing homes, and Social Security benefits. If she can take such risks to promote her false ideals, can’t we take them to promote the truth? She believes error more committedly than we believe the truth.

Friday, September 28, 2007

An amazingly simple tool for watching Christian TV on your computer

A couple days ago a Christian in Morocco sent me a tiny executable file that he said would allow me to watch Christian TV on my computer. I was very skeptical that any file so small (about 150kb) could do anything so dramatic… but indeed, he was right. I soon found myself “surfing” between Christian broadcasts in Arabic, English, and Spanish (and probably other languages). I was impressed with the picture quality obtainable so easily over the internet – in another few years, if things continue like this, probably almost everyone will watch TV on their computer rather than via TV signal.

I’ve since traced the file back to a web site where you can download it yourself for free. It works on many different versions of Windows, does not “hog” your computer, and is quite simple to operate. Here’s the link in case you’re interested yourself.

It could be especially great for people who live in countries where Christian TV is not normally accessible.

However, I also need to issue a strong warning: those of us who live in the US know already that a lot of what is called “Christian” television is sad rubbish, full of errors, deceptions, things that tickle the ears but leave the soul unsatisfied. Such is also the case with this tool: a lot of the programs are dangerously deceptive. Use caution in what you watch, particularly if you are not strongly “grounded” in the Bible. Use caution in sending this tool to people who are not Christians—it could give them a wrong idea of Christianity and make them resistant to hearing the true message of Jesus.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Christian Consumerism--a humorous (and convicting) video

This short 5 minute video exposes how me-centered we can be when it comes to church.

It’s humorous but also packs a punch.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Susanna Wesley on child rearing

A couple days ago I discovered the following wise advice from Susanna Wesley about child raising. Her advice seems remarkably relevant even 275 years after she wrote it. If you don’t have young children, you may wish to skip reading this article. It is rather long. She is eminently qualified to write on this topic, as the mother of John and Charles Wesley, whom God used (along with George Whitefield) to ignite a revival that even secular historians credit with rescuing Britain from destruction. However, it’s interesting to note that when she wrote this letter to John, neither she nor her sons had yet truly become Christians. Although they were at this time very religious, they were still trusting in their own good actions to earn forgiveness for the bad. Still, we can see what a strong foundation was laid for their future usefulness in God’s kingdom by such a disciplined childhood.


July 24, 1732

To the Rev. Mr. Wesley,

In St. Margaret’s Churchyard, Westminster.

Dear Son,

According to your desire, I have collected the principal rules I observed in educating my family; which I now send you as they occurred to my mind, and you may (if you think they can be of use to any) dispose of them in what order you please.

The children were always put into a regular method of living, in such things as they were capable of, from their birth; as in dressing, undressing, changing their linen, and so on. The first quarter commonly passes in sleep. After that, they were, if possible laid into their cradles awake and rocked to sleep; and so they were kept rocking till it was time for them to awake. This was done to bring them to a regular course of sleeping, which at first was three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon; afterward two hours, till they needed none at all.

When turned a year old (and some before), they were taught to fear the rod and to cry softly; by which means they escaped abundance of correction they might otherwise have had; and that most odious noise of the crying of children was rarely heard in the house, but the family usually lived in as much quietness as if there had not been a child among them.

As soon as they were grown pretty strong, they were confined to three meals a day. At dinner their little table and chairs were set by ours, where they could be observed; and they were suffered to eat and drink as much as they would but not to call for anything. If they wanted aught, they used to whisper to the maid which attended them, who came and spoke to me; and as soon as they could handle a knife and fork, they were set to our table. They were never suffered to choose their meat, but always made to eat such things as were provided for the family.

Mornings they had always spoon-meat; sometimes at nights. But whatever they had, they were never permitted to eat, at those meals, of more than one thing; and of that sparingly enough. Drinking or eating between meals was never allowed, unless in case of sickness, which seldom happened. Nor were they suffered to go into the kitchen to ask anything of the servants, when they were at meat: if it was known they did, they were certainly beaten, and the servants severely reprimanded.

At six, as soon as family prayers were over, they had their supper; at seven, the maid washed them; and, beginning at the youngest, she undressed and got them all to bed by eight, at which time she left them in their several rooms awake; for there was no such thing allowed of in our house as sitting by a child till it fell asleep.

They were so constantly used to eat and drink what was given them that when any of them was ill there was no difficulty in making them take the most unpleasant medicine: for they durst not refuse it, though some of them would presently throw it up. This I mention to show that a person may be taught to take anything, though it be never so much against his stomach.

In order to form the minds of children, the first thing to be done is to conquer their will and bring them to an obedient temper. To inform the understanding is a work of time and must with children proceed by slow degrees as they are able to bear it: but the subjecting the will is a thing which must be done at once; and the sooner the better. For by neglecting timely correction, they will contract a stubbornness and obstinacy which is hardly ever after conquered; and never, without using such severity as would be as painful to me as to the child. In the esteem of the world they pass for kind and indulgent, whom I call cruel, parents, who permit their children to get habits which they know must be afterward broken. Nay, some are so stupidly fond as in sport to teach their children to do things which, in a while after, they have severely beaten them for doing.

Whenever a child is corrected, it must be conquered; and this will be nor hard matter to do if it be not grown headstrong by too much indulgence. And when the will of a child is totally subdued and it is brought to revere and stand in awe of the parents, then a great many childish follies and inadvertences style may be passed by. Some should be overlooked and taken no notice of, and others mildly reproved; but no willful transgression ought ever to be forgiven children without chastisement, less or more, as the nature and circumstances of the offense require.

I insist upon conquering the will of children betimes, because this is the only strong and rational foundation of a religious education; without which both precept and example will be ineffectual. But when this is thoroughly done, then a child is capable of being governed by the reason and piety of its parents, till its own understanding comes to maturity and the principles of religion have taken root in the mind.

I cannot yet dismiss this subject. As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children insures their after-wretchedness and irreligion; whatever checks and mortifies it promotes their future happiness and piety. This is still more evident if we further consider that religion is nothing else than the doing the will of God and not our own: that the one grand impediment to our temporal and eternal happiness being this self-will, no indulgencies of it can be trivial, no denial unprofitable. Heaven or hell depends on this alone. So that the parent who studies to subdue it in his child works together with God in the renewing and saving a soul. The parent who indulges it does the devil's work, makes religion impracticable, salvation unattainable; and does all that in him lies to damn his child, soul and body forever.

The children of this family were taught, as soon as they could speak, the Lord’s Prayer, which they were made to say at rising and bedtime constantly; to which, as they grew bigger, were added a short prayer for their parents and some collects; a short catechism and some portion of Scripture, as their memories could bear.

They were very early made to distinguish the Sabbath from other days, before they could well speak or go. They were as soon taught to be still at family prayers and to ask a blessing immediately after, which they used to do by signs, before they could kneel or speak.

They were quickly made to understand they might have nothing they cried for and instructed to speak handsomely for what they wanted. They were not suffered to ask even the lowest servant for aught without saying, ‘Pray give me such a thing’; and the servant was chid if she ever let them omit that word. Taking God’s name in vain, cursing and swearing, profaneness, obscenity, rude, ill-bred names were never heard among them. Nor were they ever permitted to call each other by their proper names without the addition of brother or sister.

None of them were taught to read till five years old, except Kezzy, in whose case I was overruled; and she was more years learning than any of the rest had been months. The way of teaching was this: The day before a child began to learn, the house was set in order, everyone’s work appointed them, and a charge given that none should come into the room from nine till twelve, or from two till five; which, you know, were our school hours. One day was allowed the child wherein to learn its letters; and each of them did in that time know all its letters, great and small, except Molly and Nancy, who were a day and a half before they knew them perfectly; for which I then thought them very dull; but since I have observed how long many children are learning the hornbook, I have changed my opinion.

But the reason why I thought them so then was because the rest learned so readily; and your brother Samuel, who was the first child I ever taught, learned the alphabet in a few hours. He was five years old on February 10; the next day he began to learn, and as soon as he knew the letters, began at the first chapter of Genesis. He was taught to spell the first verse, then to read it over and over, till he could read it offhand without any hesitation, so on to the second, and so on, till he took ten verses for a lesson, which he quickly did. Easter fell low that year, and by Whitsuntide he could read a chapter very well; for he read continually and had such a prodigious memory that I cannot remember ever to have told him the same word twice.

What was yet stranger, any word he had learned in his lesson he knew wherever he saw it, either in his Bible or any other book; by which means he learned very soon to read an English author well.

The same method was observed with them all. As soon as they knew the letters, they were put first to spell, and read one line, then a verse; never leaving till perfect in their lesson, were it shorter or longer. So one or other continued reading at schooltime, without any intermission; and before we left school, each child read what he had learned that morning; and ere we parted in the afternoon, what they had learned that day.

There was no such thing as loud talking or playing allowed of; but everyone was kept close to his business for the six hours of school: and it is almost incredible what a child may be taught in a quarter of a year by a vigorous application, if it have but a tolerable capacity and good health. Every one of these, Kezzy excepted, could read better in that time than the most of women can do as long as they live.

Rising out of their places or going out of the room was not permitted, unless for good cause; and running into the yard, garden, or street without leave was always esteemed a capital offense.

For some years we went on very well. Never were children in better order. Never were children better disposed to piety or in more subjection to their parents till that fatal dispersion of them, after the fire, into several families. In those days they were left at full liberty to converse with servants, which before they had always been restrained from; and to run abroad and play with any children, good or bad. They soon learned to neglect a strict observation of the Sabbath and got knowledge of several songs and bad things, which before they had no notion of. The civil behavior which made them admired when at home by all which saw them, was, in great measure, lost; and a clownish accent and many rude ways were learned which were not reformed without some difficulty.

When the house was rebuilt, and the children all brought home, we entered upon a strict reform; and then was begun the custom of singing Psalms at beginning and leaving school, morning and evening. Then also that of a general retirement at five o’clock was entered upon; when the oldest took the youngest that could speak, and the second the next, to whom they read the Psalms for the day and a chapter in the New Testament; as, in the morning, they were directed to read the Psalms and a chapter in the Old: after which they went to their private prayers, before they got their breakfast, or came into the family. And, I thank God, the custom is still preserved among us.

There were several by-laws observed among us, which slipped my memory, or else they had been inserted in their proper place; but I mention them here because I think them useful.

  1. It had been observed that cowardice and fear of punishment often led children into lying till they get a custom of it which they cannot leave. To prevent this, a law was made that whoever was charged with a fault of which they were guilty, if they would ingenuously confess it and promise to amend, should not be beaten. This rule prevented a great deal of lying and would have done more if one in the family would have observed it. But he could not be prevailed on and therefore was often imposed on by false colors and equivocations; which none would have used (except one), had they been kindly dealt with. And some, in spite of all, would always speak truth plainly.
  2. That no sinful action, as lying, pilfering, playing at church, or on the Lord’s day, disobedience, quarreling, and so forth, should ever pass unpunished.
  3. That no child should ever be chid or beaten twice for the same fault; and that if they amended, they should never be upbraided with it afterwards.
  4. That every signal act of obedience, especially when it crossed upon their own inclinations, should be always commended and frequently rewarded according to the merits of the cause.
  5. That if ever any child performed an act of obedience or did anything with an intention to please, though the performance was not well, yet the obedience and intention should be kindly accepted; and the child with sweetness directed how to do better for the future.
  6. That propriety be inviolably preserved and none suffered to invade the property of another in the smallest matter, though it were but of the value of a farthing or a pin; which they might not take from the owner without, much less against, his consent. This rule can never be too much inculcated on the minds of children; and from the want of parents or governors doing it as they ought proceeds that shameful neglect of justice which we may observe in the world.
  7. That promises be strictly observed; and a gift once bestowed, and so the right passed away from the donor, be not resumed but left to the disposal of him to whom it was given; unless it were conditional and the condition of the obligation not performed.
  8. That no girl be taught to work till she can read very well; and then that she be kept to her work with the same application, and for the same time, that she was held to in reading. This rule also is much to be observed; for the putting children to learn sewing before they can read perfectly is the very reason why so few women can read fit to be heard and never to be well understood.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I Need Heaven

This poem, sent to me today by a friend, touched my heart. English is not his first language, so you'll see a bit of awkwardness in the language. Nevertheless, you will still clearly sense the yearnings of his heart.

My friend is a Muslim.

If you love Jesus, join me in praying for him. He told me that the person(s) who hurt him claim the name Christian.

My prayer is that he will come to know the love of the real Isa (Jesus).