Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Parable from Sodom

Even if you disagree with his politics in general, I think you'll find this letter, and especially the story at the end, excellent. My commendation to Congressman Wolf for writing it.

February 23, 2009

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I write to share my dismay, also voiced by a number of leading human rights organizations, at your comments during your recent Asia trip indicating that human rights will not be a priority in your engagement with China. These statements come on the heels of the U.S. failing to participate in the United Nations review of the human rights record of China, among other worst offenders. Both are deeply troubling commentary on this administration's commitment to human rights, and are undoubtedly disheartening for scores of Chinese citizens, including the imprisoned Catholic bishops, persecuted house church leaders and repressed Tibetan Buddhists.

Certainly there is a place for pragmatism in diplomacy. It may be that the Chinese government, when confronted with its gross human rights violations, would dismiss U.S. concerns and tell us not to interfere in their "internal matters." But we need look no further than the Sharanskys and Solzhenitsyns of recent history to know that it is equally pragmatic to believe that bold, public proclamations on the importance of liberty, freedom, and the absence of repression are cause for great hope to those political prisoners who languish behind bars.

In short, words have power. They have the power to inspire, or deflate; they have the power to give vision or to stifle hope. But for words to inspire the hope for a day when the Chinese people can worship freely, where the press is not censored, where political dissent is permitted — they must first be spoken.

Silence is itself a message. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." America has always been a friend to the oppressed, the persecuted, the forgotten. Has our allegiance changed?

Words are, of course, strengthened by policy, and policy is shaped by personnel. You have a number of important decisions before you in this regard: Will the new U.S. ambassador to China be singularly focused on good bilateral relations, and increased trade — or will that diplomat tirelessly work to ensure that our embassy is an island of freedom in a sea of repression? Will the assistant secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor be someone known and trusted by the human rights community? Will the new ambassador for International Religious Freedom worship with the underground church and press the Chinese government to respect this first freedom?

This administration is young and finding its sea legs. My hope is that the solid rock of freedom will be your foundation, rather than the sinking sand of repression.

I urge you to change course, lest this country itself be changed.

I am reminded of a story told by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel which speaks to this very point: "One day a Tzadik came to Sodom; He knew what Sodom was, so he came to save it from sin, from destruction. He preached to the people. 'Please do not be murderers, do not be thieves. Do not be silent and do not be indifferent.' He went on preaching day after day, maybe even picketing. But no one listened. He was not discouraged. He went on preaching for years. Finally someone asked him, 'Rabbi, why do you do that? Don’t you see it is no use?' He said, 'I know it is of no use, but I must. And I will tell you why: in the beginning I thought I had to protest and to shout in order to change them. I have given up this hope. Now I know I must picket and scream and shout so that they should not change me.


Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress

To view the original letter, click here. To support human rights of Christians in China, I recommend China Aid Association.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Three Great Bible Reading Schedules

I was recently introduced by Tony Miano to Grant Horner's Bible reading schedule. Before you read further, I would encourage you to read Tony's exciting account by clicking here.

Like Tony, I do really like this system. There are three really wonderful advantages to it:
  • Every day you are reading from every section of the Bible (Torah, History, Poetry, Prophets, Gospels, Epistles). It's like eating a 6 course meal!
  • You will never read the same combination of chapters twice.
  • Saturating yourself in the Bible. You'll get to know it (and hopefully God!) really well!
After reading this, I made a couple of changes to Professor Horner's system and began using it myself. It has been a blessing to me already.

Rather than reading 10 chapters a day like Professor Horner recommends, I scaled mine back to 8 chapters, still including some from each "food group". Here's my schedule. I read one chapter from each group each day, using 8 index cards as bookmarks to keep my places.

Group 1 (Gospels)
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

Group 2 (Torah)
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Group 3 (Paul's Epistles)
Romans, I&II Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, Col, I&II Thess, I&II Tim, Titus, Philemon,

Group 4 (Other Epistles, Acts, and Revelation)
Acts, Hebrews, James, I&II Peter, I,II&III John, Jude, Revelation

Group 5 (Poetry)
Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes

Group 6 (Psalms)

Group 7 (History)
Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I&II Samuel, I&II Kings, I&II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther

Group 8 (Prophets)
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

If this sounds intimidating to you (perhaps reading is difficult for you, or you have a really busy life), you might want to try the Bible reading schedule designed by the wonderful 19th century Scottish pastor, Robert Murray M'Cheyne. In his schedule, you "only" read 4 or 5 chapters a day, but that's still enough to get you through the whole Bible once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. Here's a PDF you can print of his schedule.

In any event, I hope this encourages you, as I have been encouraged, to become a person of the Book!
I am a creature of a day. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God. I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. God himself has condescended to teach me the way. He has written it down in a book. Oh, give me that book! At any price give me the book of God. Let me be a man of one book. -- John Wesley

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beating Pornography

A friend in Colorado recently emailed me a message outline by Nate Herbst about battling the addiction to pornography. His insights were well arranged and he hit on many aspects of the fight rather than over simplifying. If you struggle with lust, or want to help someone who does, these links may help:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prisoner for Christ: Sun Minghua

At PrisonerAlert.com, you can write letters to people who are imprisoned in China, Vietnam, and other countries because of their faith in Christ.

You would think the letters would be confiscated by the prison authorities--and sometimes they are. Even then, at least it lets the officials know that people around the world are concerned about how they treat their inmates. And often the letters are successfully delivered, and bring incredible encouragement to the believers. They know then that they have not been forgotten.

On Saturday I sent a letter to Sun Minghua, a woman who has been imprisoned in China since September of 2001. You can write her yourself by clicking here. Or, for further background on her legal case, you can read a gripping report here (in the 2nd half of the article).

Join with me in encouraging those who are in prison for Jesus!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2029 Headlines

You may have already seen this circulating around on email... if not, enjoy! (And pray and work so that these are NOT the headlines in 2029.)

Ozone created by electric cars now killing millions in the seventh largest country in the world, Mexifornia, formerly known as California.

White minorities still trying to have English recognized as Mexifornia's third language.

Spotted Owl plague threatens northwestern United States crops and livestock.

Baby conceived naturally! Scientists stumped.

Couple petitions court to reinstate heterosexual marriage.

France pleads for global help after being taken over by Jamaica . No other country comes forward to help the beleaguered nation!

Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.

George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2036.

Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.

85-year $75.8 billion study: Diet and exercise is the key to weight loss.

Average weight of Americans drops to 250 lbs.

Global cooling blamed for citrus crop failure for third consecutive year in Mexifornia and Floruba.

Abortion clinics now available in every High School in United States .

Senate still blocking drilling in ANWR even though gas is selling for 4532 Pesos per liter and gas stations are only open on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Massachusetts executes last remaining conservative.

Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.

Average height of NBA players is now nine feet, seven inches.

New federal law requires that all nail clippers, screwdrivers, fly swatters and rolled-up newspapers must be registered by January 2030.

IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.

Floruba voters still having trouble with voting machines.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Black Hole

In less than 3 minutes, without words, a powerful video about the danger of lust -- in this case, the lust for money.

If you can't see the embedded video, click above on the words "The Black Hole" to view it online.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Free Book: Revolution in World Missions

The story of how God took a young man from rural India who never wore shoes until he was 17 and made him the founder of one of the largest missionary organizations in the world is bound to be compelling.

And it's free, too!

Revolution in World Missions by Gospel for Asia founder K. P. Yohannan is available for free in two ways:
  • You can get the print edition mailed to you totally free by clicking here.
  • You can download the book in PDF or MP3 format for free on this page.
A very readable, "outside the box" introduction to modern frontier evangelism, as well as a powerful testimony of God's working.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Beautiful Clouds Today!

These are exquisite harbingers of an approaching cold front. Words are poor tools with which to praise the Artist of these scenes.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Don't Install Skype 4.0 Yet

If you don't use Skype, you should. It is a fantastic communication device. But my experience with the newest release has not been good. I have a Pentium 4 with 2.8 Ghz processor and 1 gig of RAM. Skype 3.8 works great, but Skype 4.0 had huge delays between when I clicked "call" and when it actually started dialling. I actually sat here for a minute and 20 seconds one time. 3.8 is instantaneous.

I also am not sure I like the new layout of 4.0 -- it is substantially different from 3.8.

Currently you can still download 3.8 for a little longer from:


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Team Viewer: an amazing screen-sharing tool

If you ever wished you could take control of someone else's computer to help them fix a bug -- or if you ever wished you could show someone your screen, Team Viewer is what you need.  It's a free, small program that allows you to see or even control someone's computer (with their permission).  The screen picture is very clear and updates quickly.   

I recommend using the first "Portable" version from this page:

Thanks to Rob Liaison for telling me about this!