Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lots to Share

Hi friends,

These days I am in the middle of several exciting things.  Last Saturday was the Voice of the Martyrs regional conference in Scottsdale.  It was a great blessing and encouragement. 

This week and next week there is a full size replica of the tabernacle of Moses on display in Sedona, and I am working several shifts as a tour guide.

So far I've been too busy to write any of it up for my blog.  Keep praying for me, and I hope to have time to share some photos and thoughts with you soon.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Blessed Are His Sons After Him

"A righteous man who walks in his integrity--how blessed are his sons after him."  (Proverbs 20:7, NASB)
Me, my brother, and my father (Dad and I are wearing dashiki shirts that my brother and his family brought back for us from Uganda)

If you haven't already seen it on my Facebook account, we had a surprise birthday party for my Dad last month. This YouTube playlist shows Dad coming in for the surprise, my brother telling a humorous story from his childhood, and me sharing 3 things I appreciate about my Dad.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Singing a New (Old) Song

The song "My Song is Love Indeed" was recently introduced at our church.  I confess, the first time I heard this song's unusual melody, I thought it would be exceptionally hard to learn.  But after practicing a bit with this YouTube version, I have found that this song is really hard to get out of my head!

Not that I want to get it out of my head.  The words are rich.  They would have to be, to remain in use after nearly 350 years.  May they nourish your own worship of our crucified and risen Savior!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Deception from the Inside

Through a friend on Facebook, I found the blog of a young LDS man who is on a mission in Chile.  Never before have I had such an inside look at what life is like for an American Mormon missionary.  It is heartbreaking for several reasons:
  • He is completely deceived and entangled by his religion.
  • Even though ultimately his choice of this wrong belief system is not simply a matter of ignorance, but of willful rejection of the truth about God that is known to every human (Romans 1:19-20), it is still sad to see a fellow human spending his life for what in the end will lead him to hell.
  • He is leading other people into this same belief system.
  • And what is perhaps most frightening of all, he bases his faith on the same things that many professing Christians do: spiritual experiences, mental impressions, and pure faith. (Faith in faith does not save; only faith alone in Jesus alone saves.)
If you find your own faith shaken by looking at "Elder" Matthew Ward's blog, perhaps this is a good opportunity for you to re-examine what your faith is really based on.

I have another friend who was an LDS missionary in Argentina.  Brad Melton's experience as a missionary actually led him to discover the falsehood of Mormonism, and now he teaches Christians why Mormonism is wrong, why the Biblical gospel is true, and how to share it with Mormons.  Here is a short video with some excerpts from one of his talks.  Maybe you'd like to have Brad come share at your church or Bible study?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Captured by Orphans

My brother and his family returned safely to the US last month from a two-week trip to Uganda, Africa.  But maybe it wasn't completely safe, because love is never a safe thing. Although their bodies returned to the United States, chunks of their hearts have been imprisoned in Uganda.
Two of the orphaned girls

They came up to visit us last weekend and showed us pictures and videos and told stories.  They read us handwritten letters given them by the orphans saying heart-grabbing things like, "We'll never forget you.  Please don't forget us."  My brother told me, "When we went I expected that we would be changed by the experience.  But what I didn't expect was how we would actually be able to bless them."  And God did indeed bless them through my brother's family.  The unique talents each family member had, God used to help the orphanage, from cake decorating to automotive mechanics to math to digital photography to simply being a good listener (to name a few).
 Brent wrote me, "Oscar was born with his lip unattached and he would drool/slobber all of the time making simple tasks of eating and drinking extraordinarily challenging.   He actually already has had some surgery since being at OTW, and he has a sense of gratefulness that he is a bit more normal.   He has an amazing sweet spirit, and silently warmed up to me rather quickly."
My brother said the two most amazing things were how quickly his heart became attached to the orphans (within hours), and how little he even wanted to think about life back in the US while he was there.

There are far more stories and pictures than I can share with you here, but I really want to encourage you to take time to study their blog, photo gallery (over 1000 photos), and YouTube collection.  Here are the links for you:

Blog Remember, with a blog things are in reverse date order, so to see it chronologically you can go back to the beginning and read forward.
Photos (each photo on the main page is actually a folder containing many pictures, click on each to see the pictures within it)
YouTube (make sure to watch both the Uploads and Favorites)

I'd encourage you to sponsor an orphan there.  After hearing my brother's family's stories, I'm sponsoring a boy there myself.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Tribute to Charlie Wedemeyer

Charlie's Victory: An AutobiographyLast year when Mom was declining so rapidly, a friend gave us a copy of Charlie's Victory, a book about a Hawaiian football star (and subsequent coach) who contracted ALS.  Charlie Wedemeyer was originally given a year to live when he first was diagnosed in the late 70s.  Thanks to incredibly devoted care from his wife and friends, he did not decline as fast as predicted.  But by the mid 80s, he had lost the ability to speak, breathe, and eat on his own.  The only muscles he could move were a few in his face.  Yet amazingly, God used these incredible hardships to bring the Wedemeyer family to faith in Jesus, and then used them to minister to hurting people all over the world.  He became a sought-after public speaker, even though he couldn't speak (his wife read his lips).  Charlie also continued coaching football as an assistant coach. As we were finishing reading the book, I decided to check online to see how long Charlie lived.  The book was written in 1993, and he was still alive at that time.  I was stunned to learned that Charlie just died on June 3 of this year.  He had lived well over 30 years with ALS.  Amazing!  And, despite being so physically incapacitated, Charlie truly lived--he didn't simply exist.

The Wedemeyer's story was a tremendous encouragement to me.  Learn more on their web site at www.wedemeyer.org, and by watching the video below!  We've also purchased the complete documentary DVD from www.couragetolive.com, which you might enjoy as well.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review: Son of Hamas

This book is hard to stop reading.  The author, Mosab Hassan Yousef, is my age, but he grew up in a world startlingly more dangerous than mine.  From his bio:
"His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is a founding leader of Hamas, internationally recognized as a terrorist organization and responsible for countless suicide bombings and other deadly attacks against Israel. Yousef was an integral part of the movement, for which he was imprisoned several times by the Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence service. He withstood torture in prison only to discover Hamas was torturing its own people in a relentless search for collaborators. He began to question who his enemies really were—Israel? Hamas? America? After a chance encounter with a British tourist, Yousef started a six-year quest that jeopardized Hamas, endangered his family and threatened his life."
Mosab eventually became a double agent for the Shit Bet himself, helping them to prevent suicide bombings.  

The book provides a very helpful and balanced portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Mosab doesn't hesitate to lay blame at the feet of both Israeli and Palestinian leadership.  It helped me to see how complex the issues really are, and to understand better why the Palestinian people act with violence at times.  And yet the story is told with a tenderness and passion that prevent it from being even slightly academic.

His insight into the failures of both Judaism and Islam prompted him to consider a third option.  He converted to Christianity, although he kept it more or less a secret until he escaped to the United States. 

The story of his conversion to Christianity is the only weak spot I see in the book.  Mosab's description of his conversion is fuzzy.  The gospel itself is not mentioned until the Postscript, and then only in the briefest of rather cliched terms, in what appears to be an attempt by his American co-author to appease an evangelical audience.  One is left wondering whether Mosab came to Christ for rescue from the power of sin, or simply because he saw that Jesus' moral teachings were ethically superior to those of Muhammad.  I don't mean to imply that Mosab is insincere; I believe he is.  I just don't know how well he's understood the message of the gospel yet.

Let's pray for this young man.  He has seen and lived through things that no young man should have to face.  May God guard and mature the tender sprout of faith in Mosab's heart, so that it will grow and bear much fruit in due season.

If you want a book that will motivate you to pray for both Jews and Muslims, this book is a great pick.  Much more information is available at www.sonofhamas.com.