Friday, December 23, 2011

When Love Came Down

I usually just post a blurb for the articles I write for Proverbs and Wisdom, but because it's a Christmas message, I thought I'd post the whole article today.

As we approach Christmas this year, let’s not forget the reason for the season: not the angels, not the shepherds, not the wise men, not Mary and Joseph, not even the infant in the manger, but the reason why the story in Bethlehem ever happened at all:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Christmas is all about God’s love for us. 

He loved us enough to send Love down to be born of a virgin. He loved us enough to send Love down humbly in a manger.  He loved us enough to send Love down giving sight to the blind, sound to the deaf, and freedom to the captives.  He loved us enough to send Love down to be nailed to a tree and take the punishment we all rightly deserve.  He loved us enough to send Love down to be the first born of the resurrection.  He loved us enough to send Love down that Love may once again ascend, so we may be empowered by the Holy Spirit and learn to love as He loves.

God’s love is who we celebrate on Christmas. 

And God’s love isn’t a baby in a manger any more.  God’s love isn’t just a teacher or a healer.  God’s love isn’t a broken man on a cross.  God’s love isn’t still in the grave.  And God’s love isn’t staying in heaven forever.

God’s love is Jesus Christ, the king of kings, and He’s coming back to claim all that are His. He is the reason for the season. 

So, this Christmas when you look at the nativity scene in your living room, at your church, or in all the retail stores, don’t focus on the story, except in worship of the living King of Kings and His abounding love. 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19) 


Featured Non Profit

This month a Christian non-profit that is worthy of support is being featured every post until Christmas.  The criteria for being featured are that they bring glory to God, they are financially accountable, and finally they must have a mission that includes one of the following: reach the lost, empower believers, or help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today's featured non profit is Wycliffe Ministries:

Today about 340 million people do not have any Scripture in their language. Wycliffe’s vision is to see the Bible accessible to all people in the language they understand best. To make this vision a reality, Wycliffe also focuses on community development, literacy development and church partnerships.

Wycliffe was founded in 1942 by William Cameron Townsend. A missionary to the Cakchiquel Indians of Guatemala, Townsend caught the vision for translation when Cakchiquel-speaking men expressed their concern that the Bible was not available to them in the language they understood clearly. As a result, Townsend resolved that every man, woman and child should be able to read God’s Word in their own language.

Since its inception, Wycliffe has made great progress in Bible translation all around the world. To date, they have played a part in completing more than 700 Scripture translations.

You can support Wycliffe by following this link.

View the video below to get a glimpse of the work Wycliffe does in the name of Jesus Christ:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The God Pocket

As we enter the final lap of the Christmas season, it seems an appropriate time to post a review of Bruce Wilkinson’s new book, The God Pocket.

I was first introduced to the idea of the God pocket in Wilkinson’s book, You Were Born For This, and it was honestly the best part of that book.  I remember thinking that he could have just left off everything else and just wrote a book on the God Pocket, and he did.

The God Pocket is essentially a special pocket or place in your wallet or purse where you set aside money for God’s purposes, and you do not give it or spend it without the Holy Spirit’s leading.  I’m sure many of you have had the experience where money has seemed to come out of nowhere from a stranger or a friend right when you needed it as an answer to prayer.  The God Pocket essentially puts you in the place of being on the other side of that scenario and being the answer to someone else’s prayer. 

The book is full of God Pocket stories that people sent in after reading You Were Born For This.  I found myself crying a lot while reading them.

The only downside is if you’ve read the first book, you don’t need to read this one.  Conversely, if you haven’t read You Were Born For This, you can skip it and pick this one up.

I highly recommend the book.  My wife and I have started our own God Pocket and have used it a couple of times.  It’s as much a blessing to the giver as the receiver; in fact as Jesus taught “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review.  All opinions are my own.

Featured Non Profit

This month a Christian non-profit that is worthy of support is being featured every post until Christmas.  The criteria for being featured are that they bring glory to God, they are financially accountable, and finally they must have a mission that includes one of the following: reach the lost, empower believers, or help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today’s featured non profit is The Salvation Army.

In terms of giving and helping people in need, there is probably no more recognizable Christian organization than The Salvation Army. Their mission as an international movement, an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church, has a message based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

I couldn’t even begin to list the services provided by the Salvation Army in the name of Jesus Christ, but the Salvation Army helped nearly 30 million people just this year.  All these things cost money, so the next time you see someone ringing a bell at a storefront, give more than your spare change.  You can also donate online by following this link.

See the video below for a glimpse of what the Salvation Army does in the name of Jesus Christ:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Struggle Against Sin

In today’s Christianese when we have a moral failing, aka sin, in our life, we say that we struggle with that issue. 

For example, my moral failing is gluttony.  I love food—I love gourmet food, and I love junk food.  There are very few dishes I dislike, and even less that I won’t outright eat. When I miss a meal, I get cranky and will bite your head off . . . literally.  That’s how hungry I get.

Needless to say, I’m overweight. 

I’ve tried diets and exercising, and when I first came to Christ, I was winning the battle and lost over 100 pounds.   Then when I got married, I took a job telecommuting to work via the Internet, so I could spend time with my family; my wife almost died during child-birth, so I was left raising an infant by myself while she was in the hospital; and when my wife recovered, her work schedule now frequently leaves me home alone with our son and the fridge. 

At this point the only time thoughts of diet and exercise come up is when my pants get too tight, and I have to go get the next size up.

I can look back and see how I’ve got to this point circumstantially, but the real reason why I’ve got to this point isn’t because of circumstances, it’s because of my own lack of self-control.  I’m losing the struggle against sin.

And I think anyone reading this can identify with me.  We all have areas where we fail; where sin wins the struggle and pulls us to our knees again and again. Lately, the scripture that has been coming to mind when I think about what we call “struggling” is found in Hebrews:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

That last verse really says a lot doesn’t it?  When we struggle, are we really resisting when we fall into sin over and over? 

That doesn’t seem like much of a struggle. The great cloud of witnesses “were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated”—Jesus resisted unto death. (Hebrews 11:35-37)

This is what the Bible defines as “struggling” against sin.  So, are we really struggling if we continue to sin, or are we just sinning?

The more I’ve thought and prayed about this, the less appeal food has had, and I think I’m on the road to victory and real resistance.  Won’t you join me in true resistance of sin in your life even to the point of suffering if that’s what it takes?

Featured Non-Profit

This month a Christian non-profit that is worthy of support is being featured every post until Christmas.  The criteria for being featured are that they bring glory to God, they are financially accountable, and finally they must have a mission that includes one of the following: reach the lost, empower believers, or help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today’s featured Non-Profit is the North American Mission Board.

Particularly I would like to focus on the disaster relief element of the NAMB.  If you’ve ever been in a disaster scenario in America or around the world, you’ll no doubt recognize the yellow insignia of the Southern Batist’s Disaster Relief group.  While they have many operations in disaster relief, one of the main things they do is setup feeding units for those without food and clean water. 

My home church has two of these units that can be called into action at any time and feed upwards of 40,000 people a day.  Tell me that’s not awesome.

What’s even more awesome is that they do it all in the name of Jesus Christ and give all glory to God.  They evangelize in word and deed, so that the Lamb of God may receive the reward of His suffering.

If you would like to support the NAMB, you can follow this link.

See the video below for more about what the disaster relief team does:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Love Overflows

I find myself talking about my wife and son a lot when I’m away from them.  I talk about the things my wife has done for me, how proud I am of her in her job, and how much I pray that God would heal her completely though we are so grateful that He did heal her partially.  I talk about my two-year old son and his accomplishments: new words he’s learning, new skill sets he’s developing, and even the tantrums he throws when he’s frustrated. 

I talk about them because I love them, and it’s like Jesus says . . .

Read the rest of the article on this week Proverbs and Wisdom: Love Overflows 

Featured Non Profit

This month a Christian non-profit that is worthy of support is being featured every post until Christmas.  The criteria for being featured are that they bring glory to God, they are financially accountable, and finally they must have a mission that includes one of the following: reach the lost, empower believers, or help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today's featured non-profit is The World Race.

The world race is a journey to 11 countries in 11 months to serve "the least of these" while amongst real and raw Christian community. It facilitates discipleship through the process of discovering into the abundant life He promised.  It takes 21-35 year olds out of their comfort zones and gives them exposure to what God is doing in the world before they commit to the American dream. Because it's not about them; it’s not about you; it's about the Kingdom.

A good friend of mine just got back from the race a few months ago, and she met with God in ways she hadn't imagined possible.  

The World Race asks each racer to raise a year's worth of support that includes their travel, lodging, and basic needs.  The cost is different for each race, but it's about $15,000 a person, which isn't too bad considering it covers an entire year.  If you're going to support the World Race, I'd recommend finding a racer to support.  You can find a list of upcoming racers here.  

Click on a name, go to their blog, and select "Support" to give your donation.

You can view the video below for more information:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

God Desires Mercy

A lot of times I’ve asked questions like “what does God want?” or “will You show me the desires of Your heart O Lord?”  And often times His answer is unexpected, so much so that I don’t really believe He’s spoken to my heart.  It’s unexpected because I think God is going to tell me to do something valiant or sacrificial to show how much I love Him, but often times the Holy Spirit’s whispers something profoundly simple like “I want to love you” or “I want you to love me.” 

I find myself questioning such messages because, well to put it bluntly, I’m a guy.

I’d rather watch action, shoot-em-ups over chick flicks any day.  My son has developed a whole repertoire of manly grunts to express himself, and he didn’t get them from his mother; I can assure you of that.  I don’t fully understand the concept of love beyond merit.  I want to work hard and be respected and loved for the things I do for my family, so the idea that God doesn’t desire my hard work or some kind of sacrificial act on my part in those moments of seeking His will makes me pause and question if it’s really Him I’m hearing.

But on the other hand, I know it’s not me because I wouldn’t come up with something as sentimental as “love”.  I’d almost certainly imagine some grand act of true sacrifice, like emptying our checking account and giving it to a homeless person as the measure of God’s will for my life. 

But then the Holy Spirit reminded me that through the prophet Hosea, God says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)  And Jesus later quotes this scripture when He says, “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Matthew 9:13)

This is the God I serve.  He’s not interested in anything we can do for Him.  Honestly, what could we do?  What could we give Him?  What could we do to help Him out?  Is there anything He doesn’t already have? 

He’s not interested in our works.  He’s not interested in our sacrifice on His behalf.  What He wants is our hearts.  He wants relationship.  He wants to show us mercy so that we can know Him and be known by Him in order that we might truly live.

And knowing that His desire is mercy and relationship just makes me want to work all the harder for Him, not because I have to or because I can move God by small actions, but because I have received such mercy, such love, how can I do otherwise?  So, I humbly, and somewhat sappily, love my God with everything I’ve got just like He asks me to; that is after all what He really wants.

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

Featured Non Profit

This month a Christian non-profit that is worthy of support is being featured every day until Christmas.  The criteria for being featured are that they bring glory to God, they are financially accountable, and finally they must have a mission that includes one of the following: reach the lost, empower believers, or help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today’s featured non-profit is the Abba Fund.

The Abba fund is a non-profit in Greensboro NC that provides financial assistance to Christian families going through the adoption process.  The costs associated with adoption today are astronomical; depending on the state, it can be between $10,000 and $20,000.

In addition to helping the fatherless as Christians ought to do, the thing that struck me most about the Abba fund was their system of operation.  They give interest free loans, without any kind of collateral.  They call them “Covenant Loans”.  Basically the couple looking to adopt enters into covenant with the Abba Fund and God that they will pay back the loans, so that other couples may adopt other children with the money.  If you read through their FAQ, you’ll see their biblical reasons for this system, and I for one think it’s sound.

View the video below if you want a better picture of the Abba Fund:

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Beatitudes And The Path to Salvation

The beatitudes in Matthew 5 are often read as a list of different qualities of different people.  There’s the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted: all different people with different blessings associated with them.

But what if this list was never meant to be about different kinds of people?  What if it is about one specific kind of people: the redeemed? 

Think about the path to salvation in terms of the beatitudes for a moment:

The first step is acknowledging that you are a sinner, that you have nothing to offer God spiritually.  Your religious acts to this point, if there have been any, have fallen short of the glory of God.  You are in fact spiritually bankrupt, or poor in Spirit.  

And the separation you feel between you and God breaks your heart.  What’s more when you look around at the fallen state of your life and the world you’re living in, you cannot help but mourn.

You mourn because there is nothing you can do about any of it.  You can’t help yourself, and you can’t help others.  In and of yourself, you just don’t have the power to change anything.  This realization results in humility and meekness.

But despite all this, you hunger and thirst for righteousness.  You long to do what is right and see justice in the world.  Not only do you want to live rightly, but also the thought of a child in Africa going hungry or a woman being sold into sex slavery tears you up inside. 

When you compare the evil others do to you to what you’ve done yourself, the differences are negligible, and you cannot find it in yourself to hold those things against them.  So you cannot help but readily forgive others.

Then you hear about Jesus Christ and how His blood washes away sin and restores relationship with God and with your fellow man, and you respond to His invitation by believing on Him.  He comes into your life and purifies the very innermost part of your being; you have a pure heart.

And with the peace you’ve found in your own reconciliation with God, you cannot help but share this good news with other.  You begin to tell others about Jesus, and how they can make peace with God.

But you find that the world’s reaction to this good news is not always met with joy and open arms.  In fact, people start to ridicule and insult you; some even physically harm you because of your message. 

Take heart because Jesus says that if you have followed the path of the beatitudes, you are blessed.  He has sent His Spirit to comfort you when you mourn (John 14:16).  He has clothed you in His own Righteousness (Philippians 3:9).  He has shown you mercy just as you have shown mercy (Matthew 6:14).  He is made you pure with the sacrifice He made at Calvary (Hebrews 10:22).  He has made you a coheir with Him, so you will inherit the Earth; you will inherit the kingdom of God (Romans 8:17).  And because you are a coheir, you will see God’s face (Revelation 22:4).

God’s plan of salvation is what makes the Beatitudes beautiful.  Praise God!

Featured Non Profit

This month a Christian non-profit that is worthy of support is being featured every day until Christmas.  The criteria for being featured are that they bring glory to God, they are financially accountable, and finally they must have a mission that includes one of the following: reach the lost, empower believers, or help those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today’s featured non-profit: Prison Fellowship

Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship has been reaching out to those behind bars all over the world since 1976.   Colson is a former aide to President Nixon who was incarcerated because of his involvement with the Watergate scandal.  When he came to Christ, he could not forget those he left behind in prison and formed Prison Fellowship to reach inmates with the Gospel.

Prison Fellowship not only shares the Gospel and disciples inside the prisons, but it also help connect and prepare those released for life with Christ outside the prison bars.  During the Christmas season, their Angel Tree program helps prisoners send gifts to their children who they have been separated from. 

If you want to support this ministry, follow this link.

View the following video for more information:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Begin: A Journey Through Scriptures for Seekers and New Believers

Begin is a journey through the Scriptures designed to help someone simply understand the structure and context of the Bible. Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge compiled this critical resource which brings to light often difficult concepts through easy-to-understand commentary. Readers will enjoy a quick and concise presentation of the following core concepts with a brief summary of events and history in-between Genesis 1- 11 (The Foundation), Exodus 20:1-17 (The 10 Commandments), John (The Gospel), Romans (An Epistle from Paul to the Christians), and Revelation 21-22 (The Fulfillment in Heaven).

The layout of the book is fairly good.  There are lots of spaces for notes, little factoids on every page, and the commentary is fairly light but focused on creation and the God story from beginning to end.  At the end of the book there are a few appendixes with some simple apologetics to answer the standard atheistic questions that arise.

While I was reading this, I tried to think what I would have thought of it as a new believer going through, and I’m pretty sure I would have devoured it in a couple of days, and it would have driven me to find out more about the claims they make, having been a fairly staunch atheist before coming to Christ.

However, I do not think this book would be right for every new believer.  I had just finished my Master’s and looking toward a PhD when I came to Christ, so I was thoroughly steeped in the world of academia and rhetoric.  So, something like Begin would have been a great starting point for me.  Someone just starting their walk with Christ without that background might find the apologetics a little heady and irrelevant for their life, and there are many other avenues of discipleship out there.

So, I’d recommend the book with the caveat that the new believer leans more towards the academic and theoretical than the practical and experiential.

I received a review copy from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Featured Non-Profit

This December with every post till Christmas, I'm featuring a non-profit worthy of support.  You can see a complete list here.

Today's featured non-profit is Answers in Genesis.

One of the author's of Begin reviewed above, Ken Ham, is the president of Answers in Genesis, which is dedicated to supporting the church in fulfilling its commission; being a catalyst to bring reformation by reclaiming the foundations of our faith, which are found in the Bible from the very first verse; proclaiming the absolute truth and authority of the Bible with boldness; relating the relevance of a literal Genesis to the church and the world today with creativity; obeying God’s call to deliver the message of the gospel, individually and collectively; resourcefully equipping believers to defend their faith with excellence; willingly engaging society's challenges with uncompromising integrity; sacrificially serving the AiG family and others; and generously giving Christian love.

In summary, they are an apologetics that has been engaging the scientific community for years.  They are often ridiculed and mocked for their beliefs in creation.  Do a quick search for some of their material on Youtube for instance and you find thousands of comments from angry atheists making fun of them.  They are at the forefront of apologetics in science, and I think are worthy of some support.

You can support them by following this link.

See the video below for some of their educational materials they are developing:

Friday, December 9, 2011

8 Things We Ought Not Love

We know that we ought to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), we know that we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18), and we know that whoever doesn’t love cannot know God because God is love (1 John 4:8).  Yet we continually fall short in terms of loving others.


Why can’t we love the way God wants us to?  First it’s because we need God to love through us.  Without Him, we’re incapable of genuine love.  And secondly we give our love away to things we shouldn’t instead of what God wants us to love.

So head over to Proverbs and Wisdom to read this week's article on 8 Things We Ought Not Love.

Featured Non-Profit

This December with every post till Christmas, I'm featuring a non-profit worthy of support.  You can see a complete list here.

Today's featured non-profit is Campus Crusade (CRU)

Campus Crusade for Christ was founded in 1951 by Bill and Vonette Bright on the campus of UCLA, and they now have a presence in 191 countries around the world.  The organization is quite well known for helping to fulfill the Great Commission in the power of the Holy Spirit by winning people to faith in Jesus Christ, building them in their faith and sending them to win and build others; and helping the Body of Christ do evangelism and discipleship.  

Their main focus is college campuses, and much like many other Christian groups, they ask their workers to raise a team to support them in prayer and finances.  And while the organization is quite large, often times the workers struggle to maintain support, particularly in hard economic times.  

I propose two options for supporting this amazing ministry.  Find out who your local CRU workers are and support them both financially and with your prayers.  You can search for local workers via this link.  

Another option is to support some good friends of mine: Aaron and Jenn Halvorsen.  They work with CRU in Boston on the campuses of MIT and Emerson College: two of the nation's leading technical and liberal arts colleges.  They are quite literally reaching the future leaders of our nation and can use your support. You can visit their website for more information on the work they are doing in the name of Jesus Christ:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You Are Such A Rebel

The following video presents a very straight-forward, easy-to-understand message of the Gospel, and not just a Gospel of salvation, but the Gospel of what salvation enables us to become.  I encourage you to not just watch it but to live it:

Featured Non-Profit

This December with every post till Christmas, I'm featuring a non-profit worthy of support.  You can see a complete list here.

Today's Featured Non-Profit is Life Action Ministries.

Life Action's purpose is to ignite Christ-centered movements of revival among God's people that display His glory and advance His kingdom throughout the world.  Life Action puts together events for churches, groups, and materials for individuals to empower revival through Jesus Christ.  Life Action ministries ask their workers to raise a team who will support each individual in prayer and financially.  If you would like donate to this ministry, I would ask you to find a team member to support.

Specifically, I would like to make an appeal for a good friend of mine.  Ben Cabe is in the process of raising support, so he can join Life Action's media team and create videos for the glory of Jesus Christ similar to what you see above.  Ben is also a fellow blogger, and you can read more about his vision and how to support him with Life Action Ministries at Life: General and Specific.

View the following video for more information about Life Action and the work they do in the name of Jesus Christ:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nearing Home

Billy Graham now in his nineties takes a look at old age and finishing well from a Biblical perspective in his new book, Nearing Home.

At one point he says, “When granted many years of life, growing old in age is natural, but growing old with grace is a choice.  Growing older with grace is possible for all who will set their hearts and minds on the Giver of grace, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Even though we're just starting out in life, my wife and I have talked a lot about the things Graham talks about in his book when it comes to old age, for instance God uses lots of people in their old age in the Bible: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Zachariah, etc; there’s a general attitude of disrespect for the elderly in our nation right now, which God specifically warns about multiple times; retiring when God retires us not when Social Security kicks in.

There were quite a few things I hadn’t thought about like leaving a will (and tithing ten percent of your estate in the will), building a legacy does not mean having children, but rather having good character because that is what your children will remember when you’re gone, and finally planning to use your retirement for the glory of God and not a vacation until you die.

Overall, I highly recommend the book to anyone of any age.  The wisdom presented within it is meant to help you finish life well whether you’re 25 or 105.   Ultimately, Graham points over and over to the author and perfecter of our faith as the means of finishing the race, which is what his message has been for decades.

I received a copy for review from the publishers.  All opinions are my own.

Featured Non-Profit

This December with every post till Christmas, I'm featuring a non-profit worthy of support.  You can see a complete list here.

Today's featured non-profit is Pulse Outreach

Pulse Founder and Speaker: Nick Hall
I used to work on staff with Pulse three years ago.  So I’m pretty familiar with their work.  Pulse has a remarkable story.  It started at North Dakota State University with a small group of students who met together and asked “how can we reach our campus for Christ?”  Since they had no answer, they turned to God.  They began a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week prayer meeting that lasted 3 months.  The group grew to about 300 students. 

Nick Hall wrote a proposal for evangelizing the campus for one of his English classes, and they took that proposal as their model.  This student-led initiative gave $30,000 of their own money and began to set up events on campus, which culminated in a large event/concert that attracted about 5,000 students from their campus.  That night 1,200 responded to the Gospel. 

Other colleges around the nation heard about what had happened and started writing and asked them to come to their schools and do the same thing, so they formed a non-profit ministry and started doing just that.

Nick Hall heads up the group, and tens of thousands more have come to know Christ because of their work.  On a side note, Nick emailed me about three weeks ago and let me know he was having dinner with his hero, Billy Graham, which is why I thought this book review was particularly fitting for featuring Pulse.

View the video below to see more about the work they do in the name of Jesus Christ:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Too Much To Do

Have you ever known someone who has gone on a mission trip who came back talking about how long the worship services went?  I’ve heard of worship services ranging from four hours to the whole day on Sunday.

When I was a younger Christian in college, I even got to experience some of those hours long worship sessions with some of my closest friends.  We used to meet out in an old barn loft and just worship Jesus and pray, every night, for hours. 

How do you sustain this kind of marathon worship?  The truth is it’s because people in third world countries and college kids just don’t have much else to do.

And therein lies our problem.  The typical American Christian has their proverbial plate filled with French fry football, mashed potato movies, whole-wheat work, sugar-coated shopping, and not much room left over for the Bread of Life.  But without Jesus we’re starving.

The Christmas season is infamously busy.  There’s a lot to do over the next 20 days, but don’t let the cares of the season choke out the life of Christ within you.  And certainly don’t add to your already too full plate, when you should be scraping some of the fillers off.

Be sure that you don’t just make room for Christ this Christmas; fill your life with Him.  He’ll help you through the holidays much better than going at it without Him anyway.

Featured Non-Profit

This December with every post till Christmas, I'm featuring a non-profit worthy of support.  You can see a complete list here.

Today’s non-profit is 24-7 Prayer.

One of the greatest aspects of the 24-7 Prayer group is that they see prayer as mission.  In other words, prayer is a catalyst for mission.  Whenever you approach the throne of God, He will inevitably share His heart and a message for someone with you, and you will be directed to share it accordingly.  They have prayer/mission groups all over the world in some of the most needed of areas, where most Christians would never even go because they wouldn’t want to be associated with the people there, like the island of Ibiza.

They serve the Church as a catalyst to spark movements and communities of Christ-centered, mission-minded prayer, network with people in like-minded movements and communities to encourage and equip each other for prayer, mission and justice, provide resources on 24-7 Prayer and the building of praying communities, and gather and train emerging leaders to be catalysts for 24-7 Prayer, mission and justice.

You can give via their U.S. website:  24-7 Prayer US or via their international website: 24-7 Prayer International.

Watch the video below to get a glimpse of this ministry’s work in the name of Jesus Christ:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Unveiling the Kings of Israel

David Down’s new book released by New Leaf publishing is an archeological journey through the holy land in which we get a glimpse of biblical life excavated from the mounds of sand and time.   The main premise is that far from being a book of myths, the Bible is an amazing historical record, and each year, more archaeological discoveries continue to prove its validity and significance.

There were a lot of things that I learned from book like how Abraham most likely brought advanced mathematics from Ur to Egypt, which is why he schmoozed with pharaoh, how much water a camel drinks and how hard it would have been for Rebekah to water 10 of them for Isaac’s servant, or even how there is huge amount of written history from other cultures like the Sumerians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans that correlate with Biblical history (including many of the miracles.)

And as much as I learned, the academic in me was disappointed by a couple of issues that I noticed in the book: 

First David Down frequently refers to his altered timeline that goes against the currently accepted one for the Egyptian empire.  He says it’s about two hundred years different, but there is not much in terms of actual or estimated dates, like 1600 B.C.  So unless you are deeply familiar with the Egyptian Empire and the dates of all the pharaohs he references; it’s hard to get a sense of when these events are taking place.

Second, the section on the last king of Israel is pretty sparse when it comes to any references to archeological or historical evidence.  And there is a lot he could have referred to, but instead he just recounts the story.

I definitely recommend Unveiling the Kings of Israel if you’re into this sort of thing.

I received this book free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion.

Featured Non-Profit

This December with every post till Christmas, I'm featuring a non-profit worthy of support.  You can see a complete list here.

Today’s Non-profit is the Joshua Fund

Since this post reviews a book on the Holy Land, I thought a non-profit that focuses specifically on the Holy Land would be appropriate.  The Joshua Fund was founded by Joel Rosenberg to be a blessing to Israel and the surrounding nations.  They help the poor in the area, as well as sharing the Gospel with Jews and Muslims alike.  They work almost exclusivity with local pastors, who in many cases are part of the persecuted church, especially in the Muslim nations.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Love Is a Who, Not a What

Any discussion of love must begin with the understanding that love is not an emotion, nor is it an action, it is in fact a Who.  1 John 4:8 says, “God is love”. 

If you want a picture of what love looks like, look at God; if you want an example of what love acts like, follow God’s actions; and if you want insight in what love desires, seek the will of God . . . 

Read the rest in this week's Proverbs and Wisdom article.

Featured Non-Profit:

This December with every post till Christmas, I'm featuring a non-profit worthy of support.  You can see a complete list here.

Today's Non-Profit is Compassion International.

Compassion International exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.

Founded by the Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion helps more than 1.2 million children in 26 countries.  You can sponsor a child for $38 a month and change their eternity forever.

Here's a video with more information:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Give a Chicken, Change the World

So, this December, much like every December is the Christmas season.  As of today, there are only 24 shopping days left till Christmas, and your kids will hate you forever if you don’t get them the Angry Birds live action game all their friends are getting.

I know you hear it all the time, but there’s more to this season than shopping.  On the other hand, giving freely as we’ve been given is one of the great markers of a Christ-follower.

On that note, here’s something you may not hear a lot about.  Almost all Christian non-profits make or break their budget in December every year.  It’s the month when supporters are most generous, but it’s also the most stressful month of the year if donations aren’t coming in.

In light of this, I’m going to be featuring a link and a little blurb about non-profits I think are worthy of supporting everyday from now until Christmas.  Some of them you may have heard of, and some of them you may not have.  The criteria for the non-profits are three-fold:  they must be God-centered, they must be financially accountable, and finally they must have a mission that includes one of the following: reach the lost, empower believers, or help those in need in the name of Jesus.

I encourage readers of these pages to take some of the funds you’ve set aside for holiday shopping and give to those in need during this Christmas season.

Click here for a complete list of the Non-Profits. 

Featured Non-Profit:

Samaritan’s Purse derives its name from the parable of the Good Samaritan who opened his purse for a man in desperate need.  Headed by Franklin Graham, they are an international Christian relief and evangelism organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to victims of war, poverty, natural disaster, and disease.

Here’s a video with one way you can get involved:


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