Monday, June 25, 2012

Bless God and Die?

A Muslim friend wrote me recently to ask why his Arabic (Van Dyke) translation of Job 2:9 says, "Bless God and die" while English translations say "Curse God and die".  I had no idea, so I did some research and here's what I replied.
hi my friend, that is an excellent question. You are very observant. I had never noticed this difference before. So, here's what I have learned.
This same thing happens in Job 1:5 ("Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed [blessed] God in their heart"), Job 1:11 ("he will curse [bless] you to your face"), and again in Job 2:5. It is used in a similar way in Psalm 10:3, "the greedy man curses [blesses] and spurns the Lord".
Whatever the word means, it's obvious that this word is being used in a 'bad' / negative way here. It's something that Job does not want his children to do. It is something that Satan does want Job to do. It is something that Satan knows will displease God. So, Job's wife is telling Job to do what Satan wants him to do.
So, why does the Bible use the word normally translated "bless"? So far, I have found two possible explanations. The first is that the men who copied the ancient Old Testament (Hebrew) texts were fearful of writing the words "curse God". So they substituted the opposite word ("bless") knowing that people would realize this was not the right word, and understand the correct meaning from the context.
The second possibility is that by "bless" they mean "say good-bye". There is a relation between 'blessings' and greetings of welcome or farewell. In English, for example, "good bye" literally means "God be with you". So it may be that Satan wanted Job to say to God, "I am leaving you now, I don't want to be with you anymore, bye!" You have asked a good question and I hope this helped some.
I am grateful that there are so many online reference tools available to help with questions like this.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Guinea for your thoughts (and prayers)

My dad recently sold a Staber washing machine for use by a customer in Guinea.  (The Staber uses very little electricity, compared to a normal washer, making it a favorite for people using solar.)

It turns out this customer is Nathan Kendall, a missionary with WorldVenture.  I Googled him and found a short video (below) and longer, very sobering audio (click here) by Mr. Kendall.  Take time to listen to these and pray for families like the Kendalls.  Because they are looking ahead to the reward (Hebrews 11:26), they have traded the "treasures" of American comforts for life in a hard and spiritually dark place.
Missions Like Solar Panels from Drew Hayes on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Age-old Debate

Sent to a father who is a friend of mine:

If any of your kids have an interest in creation science and/or apologetics in general, you might enjoy sitting down to watch this with them.

TBN had what amounted to an unplanned “debate” between Ken Ham, Eric Hovind, and Ray Comfort (representing young earth creationism) and Hugh Ross, Sean McDowell (Josh’s son) and John Bloom (representing old earth creationism). It ended up primarily being between Ken Ham and Hugh Ross. Matt Crouch (son of TBN founders) was the host. It’s a train wreck as far as debate was concerned (far too disorganized to actually cover anything adequately) but it is zany right from the cheesy introduction. And if one of your kids is interested in apologetics you could use this as a great teaching tool. Lots of examples of good, bad, and terrible apologetics.
In case you're wondering, I believe the Bible clearly teaches a young earth.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Favorite Snippets from Francis Chan's "Forgotten God"

I recently read Francis Chan's book on the Holy Spirit, called Forgotten God.  He doesn't delve into anything terribly controversial.  You'll find nothing on tongues, or and little on how discern whether an extra-biblical "word" is from the Lord.  I wouldn't say it's a deep or meaty book.  But what he does say, he says nicely.  Here are a few of my favorite sections.
Right now I want you to take a break from reading and spend some time asking yourself why you want the Holy Spirit. Is it for power? Is it for your own betterment and purposes? Or is it because you want to experience all that God has for you? Is it because you love the church and desire to be a better servant to your sisters and brothers?... As you look around at your brothers and sisters, do you think to yourself, I love these people so much. I pray God empowers me in some way to encourage these people toward a deeper walk with Him?
It is easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day. 

I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power.
When he asked an ex-gangster why he'd stopped attending church:
 “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week—we were family.”
Francis Chan speaks most compellingly when he speaks about radical generosity.  This comes out even in a book about the Holy Spirit.  He tells what happened after his church leaders examined Acts 2:43-47:
What followed was a beautiful time of sharing as our elders laid “everything” at one another’s feet. We surrendered the keys to our cars, homes, and bank accounts. The elders looked me in the eyes and said, “What’s mine is yours. If anything ever happens to you, I will support and care for your kids as much as I would care for my own. I will be your life insurance.” And because they had a history of genuine sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, I believed what they said.
And, later in the book:
My wife and I recently decided to give all of the royalties from my previous book, Crazy Love, to the Isaiah 58 Fund. All of the money goes to the needy in the world—the starving, sick, impoverished, and to those in the sex-slave trade...
People told us that we were being foolish and irresponsible with the gifts God gave us. They said we should have at least put some away in case of an emergency. My response back was, “Is it not an emergency that children in Cambodia and Thailand and even the United States are being raped every single day of their lives? Why is that not an emergency?”
Chan's writing shines not so much in content as in attitude: his genuine hunger for God's Spirit to rule his life is what makes this book stand out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ogden Outreach Outcome

Sent to a Christian friend in Utah who asked how last month's missions trip there went:

Hi Thomas,
Thanks for your notes and I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’m back in Arizona now. Had a great time there in Ogden.

We stayed in the home of Grant Kolkow and his family. He is planting a church in Ogden. They have been meeting for about a year in the Marriott in central Ogden, and are up to about 27 regulars. I was surprised at the maturity level of most of the people; most had already tried other churches in Ogden (some, for years) and were hungry for a church that teaches Scripture, not man-centered, seeker-sensitive fluff. Grant is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary (John MacArthur) and his doctrine and methodology are very close to MacArthur’s.
We went to the finish line of the Ogden Marathon and attempted to strike up evangelistic conversations and invite people to church. Gave out a lot of flyers but we found it very hard to get into conversations with people. I’m not totally sure whether it was just a tough crowd or we just were wrestling with too much fear of man. Most people were in a hurry to get somewhere (meeting family members running in the race, departing the race, etc.) or were exhausted from just having run the race.
On Sunday afternoon there was a public baptism in the creek in the Ogden Botanical Gardens. (Beautiful!) About 50 people showed up for this, and there were plenty of non-Christians walking by on the trail. None of them stopped to talk, although again we did give out some flyers.
On Monday evening we went door to door in north Ogden, in what is apparently a strongly Mormon neighborhood. We were hosted there by a man who just became a Christian back in January. His wife is “on the fence”, and he has 3 kids. I admire his guts in having us over to his own neighborhood; to some extent this will be the first time for some of them to know that he is no longer a Mormon. We went door to door (split into 5 groups) and basically the line we settled on was “Would you be interested in an invitation to a Bible teaching church?” We held out a flyer while saying this. It was interesting to watch the people’s faces when they heard this. Most of them said “no” although most were friendly. 4 of the 5 groups had at least one good conversation. My group had just one, with a woman who was a Christian already (former LDS) and was very excited to learn that there was another Christian in her neighborhood. She seemed interested in attending church. It will be interesting to hear whether she actually comes tomorrow.
On Tuesday we went to Weber State University. We were there from about 10:30 to 1:00 PM. The Kolkows had already arranged that we could set up a table in the “free speech zone” which is the square right behind the statue, in front of the administration building. I don’t know whether they had to notify the university that we were coming, but I don’t think so. We could also have done open air preaching in that location, if we had wanted. (The square is a central location in the campus, but at least that morning the foot traffic was light, and our energies were better spent doing one on one conversations than attempting to collect a crowd.) We were also allowed to walk anywhere on campus (outside the buildings) and talk to people and distribute tracts. And we were allowed to go inside the student union building and talk to people. I was amazed that we had so much access. Now I want to find out whether I can do the same thing at the community college near my home in Arizona. I had a number of great conversations (including one with three guys from Saudi Arabia) and this was my favorite part of the whole trip.

Tuesday evening we went door to door in the Riverdale community (the neighborhood of another man in the church). This neighborhood seemed a little more receptive than North Ogden. My partner and I spent about 40 minutes talking with one sparky 80 year old woman who was raised LDS and raised her kids LDS, but is now more of a spiritual “freelancer” who doesn’t want to submit to anything or anyone.
The team went to the Mormon Temple in SLC the next day. Two female LDS missionaries approached two of our women there to proselytize. Our women evangelized them back. It was a cordial conversation and they were surprised when 3 male LDS security guards came up a couple minutes afterward and said that they had been “intimidating” the female missionaries. The team left the visitor center at that point, under escort from the guards. (One of our guys did get to witness, on the side, to one of the guards. He actually seemed receptive!) As the team members were leaving the building, they saw the female LDS missionaries from a distance, and they looked like they’d been crying.
I hope that this encourages you and gives you some ideas about possible outreach strategies. Let me know if you have any questions!

In the joy of the gospel,


Friday, June 1, 2012

A Dead Neighbor, and God's Power

On Wednesday my Dad was visiting an elderly neighbor when the neighbor suddenly keeled over, dead.  In the video below he tells the story.