Monday, August 27, 2012

Surprising the Septuagenarian

Traditionally our family hasn't done much for birthdays.  Once you reach a certain age you start hoping people won't notice when the odometer registers another year.  The last really big party in our family was when I turned 10.  (And in case you were wondering, that wasn't last year.)
But it's not every year your father becomes a septuagenarian.  And besides, a birthday is a good excuse to publicly praise Jesus and thank friends and family who have invested in our lives.

Actually his birthday was celebrated first in India.  Yes, you read right.  The evangelist-training school he visited earlier this year held special celebrations and prayer times for Dad's birthday.  They sent us pictures of the celebration.

For security reasons, this is the only picture I am showing online of the India celebrations.

At home, we had to plan carefully because Dad was suspicious that we would do something to surprise him.  On his actual birthday we gave him a "fake" surprise celebration at a church family's home, complete with delicious carrot cake and ice cream and blowing out the candles.  Mom's sister and brother came in from out of state.  Here's a video from that:

Other friends who couldn't come in person recorded audio greetings for him.  Here are a few classics:

One friend even recorded a video for Dad (his first time to make a YouTube).
Then after a few nerve-wracking near-giveaways of the big secret, the real moment of surprise arrived.  We were (supposedly) invited to a surprise party on Saturday for our pastor's mother.  Unbeknownst to Dad, it was actually a party for him.  He walked in and... Mom and I, still in the parking lot, could hear everyone shout "Surprise!!"
This is actually the look on his face at the moment of surprise, not Dad being a ham.
Now the embarrassment is setting in...
My aunt and uncle were still here, and my brother and his wife and daughter came.  In fact, a total of 51 people showed up!

Back row: my brother, me, my uncle
Middle: my aunt, Dad, my sister in law, my niece
Front: mom!

Friends also donated nearly $600 to help buy MegaVoice digital audio Bible tools for evangelists in India.

Here's a video of the speaking portion of the party, after the food.  

Thank you friends for your labors and time in honoring my dad.

Thank You Father for giving my father another year of life.  And thank You for giving us Your Son, so that we might know what life truly is.  Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Vote Recommendations for the AZ GOP Primaries

Picking candidates was harder for me this year than any previous primary I've voted in.

Fortunately (?), there is a choice on only three of the 17 offices on my ballot.  The other 14 offices have candidates who are running unopposed (at least for the primary).

For US Senate, replacing retiring Jon Kyl, I've selected Clair Van Steenwyk.  Jeff Flake is most likely to be the winner (and I will gladly vote for him against Richard Carmona in November), but quite honestly, Wil Cardon and Jeff Flake threw so much mud at each other that I don't trust either one of them.  Clair's web site is hokey, but I did like his performance in the PBS debate, and I think he represents my beliefs more precisely than Flake or Cardon.

For CD1, I've selected Gaither Martin over Jonathan Paton.  Paton and Martin have done their share of mudslinging too, but I think Paton would be an easier candidate for Ann Kirkpatrick to beat in November.  So I'm hoping Gaither Martin pulls through and turns out to be decent.

And for Yavapai County Supervisor, I've selected the incumbent Thomas Thurman.  I don't think John McReynolds has enough experience, and finding out that Martin Pangburn is a "bishop" under the umbrella of what appears to be a oneness pentecostal group was enough to turn me off on him.

Feel free to share your own perspective.  Voting is a great privilege, which we should use responsibly.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A review of Doug Wilson's Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families

When I first decided to review Douglas Wilson's new book, Father Hunger, I was afraid it might turn out to be a book trying to get me to unearth some hidden feelings of emotional deprivation caused by failures of my father. 

It actually turned out be a delightful read, something that perhaps would have been better titled Father Satisfied.

Even the subtitle reveals only half of the story.  Wilson not only does a remarkable job explaining "Why God calls men to love and lead their family", he also tells how.  It's not just theoretical (although there is plenty of philosophical and Scriptural foundation), there is also practical advice.

It's not a quick read.  But not because it's hard to understand (Wilson writes lucidly, with excellent use of analogies to explain complex ideas), but because it's so thought provoking.  A few samples:

Simply put, masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility. (pg. 41)
... authority flows to those who take responsibility.  Taking responsibility is the foundation of all true authority.... Often a simple reassertion of authority is an attempt to avoid taking responsibility. (200)
Your actual pursuits are a running scoreboard.  They reveal what you actually prize.  You do what you want to do.  The glory you pursue is the glory that you think is actually glorious. (104) 
In addressing men who avoid marriage for selfish reasons:
Perhaps someone will appeal to the chimerical gift of "singleness".  The apostle Paul had the gift of celibacy, which is quite a different thing.  The gift of celibacy is not a gift possessed by twenty-nine year old living in his mother's basement, looking at porn.  A single man involved in frontier missions, who does not struggle with sexual temptation, has the gift of celibacy.  A man with two Xboxes and a trophy from the regional Halo tournament does not. (116)
A quote that caused me to appreciate my own father more:
Gracious fathers lead their sons through the minefield of sin.  Indulgent fathers watch their sons wander off into the minefield.  Legal fathers chase them there. (185)
 In explaining a reason why female pastors have become increasingly common:

...we have come to demand essentially feminine virtues of our ministers but are stuck with this arbitrary line from the Bible that disqualifies the most qualified members of the church--as far as being sweet goes.  This creates a demand among evangelicals for some exegetical ingenuity. (124)
Real ministers do need to be tough, and we need to remember that the reputation of ministerial milquetoastery--of ministers as the third sex--is not really all that unfair.  Generations of "the nicest young man in the church" have been urged by the church ladies to consider the ministry, and because it was a vocation that by common consent involved no bleeding knuckles and lots of being nice to people, over time the church has come to consider the best candidate for future ministry to be "that sweet boy". (131)
A few small disagreements.  Wilson rejects the idea that vaccines cause autism (and that cell phones cause brain cancer) but suggests that maybe putting children in daycare might cause autism.  Then there is a particularly puzzling section where he warns about increasing "food weirdness" in our culture, while taking a pot shot at people who don't drink wine:
Just as the grape juice in the Lord's Supper is an anemic but fitting picture of the grape-juice gospel American evangelicals tend to preach, so also the frantic search for bread substitutes says about as loudly as anything that we are really in the market for father substitutes--which are much harder to come by, as it turns out.  (151)
In some of his other writings, Douglas Wilson has demonstrated a tendency to ride his horse of logic even when she departs from the trail of Scripture.  (How else could he be a Presbyterian? :)) But this book is excellent, and will be a valuable help to any father, husband, or son looking to found their relationships on the Bible.
For more quotes from the book, click here.

Disclaimer: I received my copy of the book for free from in exchange for writing this review.  But I was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Difference between Evangelists and Evangelicals

A Muslim friend from Turkey asked me today to explain the difference between Protestants and Evangelists.  I guessed immediately that he meant "Evangelicals". 

So, being my typical long-winded self, I started all the way back with the Greek.  "Ev" = good, "angel" = news (and yes, that is the same "angel" that we get our English word angel from).  And of course I explained what the Good News is (the perfect life, substitutionary death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus).

Then I finally got to evangelists.  I explained that an evangelist is someone who shares the good news about Jesus.  And (after pausing slightly to think how to explain the difference) that an evangelical is someone who believes the good news should be shared.  I wish I could remember the exact words he used, but it was something like, "I think I see the difference.  An evangelist actually does it, and an evangelical is a spectator?"

Uh, actually...yes!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Battle for Ganesh

As some of you know, my father went to India earlier this year to meet and encourage a group of Indian evangelists who are planting house churches.  On Monday he received an email from one of them.  I am pasting excerpts from it below, without correcting the English or altering any details. 

Ganesh a 12 year old boy born to fanatic Hindu parents and among 3 children he is the last one. He heard God’s story (Through mega voice) in one of our house church where he went to play with other children. To his surprise as he heard the God’s story, though he did not understand any things but he was amazed after hearing. And the Lord put a hunger in his heart to know more detail on the story and he was led to our house through our church children. and we make him watch the story on the laptop and he was not only able to listen but was able to see, he felt so fascinated and was convinced that God loves him and Jesus is his God.

And his parent came to know that he is going to a Christian home and learning about Christian God, and they threatened him, slapped on his cheeks, pushed him down and expressed their anger on him. Told him it is shameful for them to have other god’s and if the society will come to know they will not be able to put up their head. But the Lord is working in such a way in that boy that he even removed the religious mark on his for-head and the parent forcefully put the mark o his head again. You can see the mark on his forehead on the picture. And they restrict him very strictly yet he loves so much being with a Christian home, singing, hearing God’s word and having fellowship with Christian children.

and today he escaped somehow from his house and came to our house again, and the parents came to know somehow that he is in our house so both parents came running and very angry on us saying, we have done some witch and his boy is always saying Jesus, Jesus, Jesus at home. And in front of our house they scold us with abusive language and as our Hindu neighbor heard they also came running to watch what happened. And the parents told our entire neighbor that we have done some witch and their child is mad of Jesus. We just kept silent and talked nothing before the people in front of our house and as a family we were just praying in our heart, though we had no word heard outside but our heart was filled with joy that we did not feel ashamed or fear. They beat him and dragged and took Ganesh from our house.

A picture of Ganesh
We know Ganesh is having hard time at home and they are watching him where ever he is going. Ganesh feels insecure and fearful in his house and he loves the fellowship of Christian home. Ganesh is quiet a silent boy but very courageous and He is crazy to grow more in God’s love.  Please pray for him so that this boy will be more courageous to stand for Jesus and his parents Rammurthy and Devi, and 2 other children at home will know the love of Jesus.
The pastor did not mention this in his email, but my guess is that Ganesh was named for the Hindu god Ganesha.  Pray for him and his family!