Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Jesus Loves Osama" meets 1961

The "Jesus Loves Osama" poster campaign has received a lot media attention recently. The hype has gotten everyone talking ... How could Jesus possibly love Osama bin Laden?!!

But has anyone actually come to a saving faith in Christ as a result of seeing one of these signs? Who knows. If it's anything like the Gospel Blimp ... probably not.

This film produced in 1961 follows the story of a group of friends who brainstormed one evening how they could share the Gospel with their unbelieving neighbors. Take for instance, George's neighbor ... look at him over there! He's obviously not a Christian! He's drinking beer! ... everyone tutt-tutts and shakes their heads solemnly. And then a brilliant idea comes to one of the fellas ... Why not get a blimp that trails along a Bible verse in the back?!! Oh, and let's wrap up Bible verses in cellophane and drop them on people from the blimp (gospel bombs).

yeh ... brilliant ...

But their plans failed miserably. Their neighbors came to despise the blimp. They mocked it and everyone involved.

In the end, George resigns from International Gospel Blimp, Inc. and decides to spend time with his neighbor instead. George's wife goes to visit his neighbor's wife in the hospital and helps her with the cleaning around the house as she recovers. It is through their growing friendship that George finally is able to speak the truth of the Gospel in love with his neighbors.

(gasp!) without the help of the Gospel Blimp?!

But surely the slogans floating in the wind were effective. "REPENT" or "ALL HAVE SINNED" or "LOOK UP AND LIVE".

What about when you drive along the road today and you see billboards sponsored by local churches that read "JESUS IS LORD" or the last half of the 10 Commandments. Surely, that's mighty enough to convict a poor lost sinner, reducing him to tears of remorse, causing him to pull over and beg God for His redeeming grace. (Dr. Payne, professor of Church Planting shares some poignant thoughts on this phenomenon.)

Do I sound oh so cynical?

Indeed, I am. I am cynical about individuals or churches that neglect their personal responsibility to live and speak the message of reconciliation to God by depending on gimmicks to do the job for them.

I'm actually a fan of the "Jesus Loves Osama" poster. It has been worded in such a way that sparks conversation, giving believers the opportunity to answer questions about Christ or share what Christ's love has done for them.

But the poster itself isn't enough to do the job.

(I dare you to watch video clip of the Gospel Blimp by clicking here and then clicking on the link on the right.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

pride, my constant enemy

It is generally difficult for me to ask, much less accept, the gift of service from another. While I could conjure up grand reasons of false humility, the problem finally settles on my ever-present struggle with pride.

Two weeks ago, I had allowed myself to become overwhelmed with the stress of study, moving, and wedding preparation. In a sinful response, I spoke harshly with Mike. Although I hurt him, he was patient with me and in love asked me to allow him to help me as he could. I fought against the thought of accepting his request, not wanting to admit my own weakness.

As I struggled with my shame, Mike sent me the text to a song I had never heard before. When he asked me if I would read it out loud, I sat there in silence ... physically incapable of making a sound. I only had to glance at the first line and tears clouded my vision. He then proceeded to sing me this beautiful song.

Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant, too

We are pilgrims on a journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christlight for you
In the night-time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh I'll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we've seen this journey through

When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born of all we've known together
Of Christ's love and agony

Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant, too

I am a different woman since I first met Mike. I realize that my sin is not a hidden secret. My sin is more apparent, my pride is my constant enemy, and my tongue seeks to wound the one I love.

Mike has been God's greatest tool these past few months that we've been friends and then lovers to sanctify me. I understand more fully the necessity of daily killing that which is earthly in me as described here in Colossians. Through loving Mike, I learn what it is to love God fully.

In practical ways I am experiencing the theology of sanctification, never content with my present sinful state, always depending on the Holy Spirit's work in my life to make me more like Christ.

With tears, I thank Mike for his love and for allowing God to use him to change me.

interview with a deacon of Women's Theology and Training

Wendy Alsup is a deacon a Mars Hill in Seattle, Washington. In addition to being a wife and mother of two young ones, Wendy teaches the Practical Theology for Women class at the church in addition to coordinating other women's teaching and training events. In this four part interview with Adrian Warnock, Wendy outlines the philosophy of the church, the passion of the people in the church for God's Word, and her roll as a woman in ministry. What she is doing at Mars Hill is what I aspire to do in a local church.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Saturday, February 24, 2007

mike's paying

"So then his mother took the leash and pinched her son on the neck just like the Dog-Whisperer told her to do."

Laura and I stopped. With nachos and popcorn in hand, we stared wide-eyed at those already sitting in the theater. I abandoned the story I had been telling only to embrace suppressed gales of laughter.

Verbal communication was unnecessary ... our situation was blatant. As Laura later put it: "We were half the age of the next youngest person in the theater!"

And you know what? We were the only ones who genuinely interacted with the film gripping the arm rests in empathy with zeal of William Wilberforce and laughing with genuine appreciation for the earthy parson John Newton or the itinerant minister who's lack of hypocrisy was refreshing.

Mike had given me money for Valentine's Day for a CD that he knew I wanted and to treat myself to a "date" even though he could not be with me ... so ...

"Hey, Laura ... you have plans tonight? You want to see a movie with me and then go out for coffee? Mike's paying!"

After the movie, we ducked into a music store to purchase Evanescence's latest release. As I stood in line, I found myself glancing at the little knick-knacks meant to entice me to increase their net profits. For instance, there was the Believe in God spray.

"Hmm, I could really use this to help me in my Personal Evangelism class. Laura, do you believe in God? (squirt) Now you do!"

I considered purchasing the "Instant Irish Accent" gum ... but thought Mike might not appreciate such a frivolous expense. Why does he get to be the only one with the sexy accent?! (pout)

Then there was the book store. I am my mother's daughter. While the majority of my library is made up books of the theological sort ... I love reading a good essay on food or travel! Oh! and Newsweek's cover story this week was about men and depression ... hmm, fascinating!

"Did you eat dinner before the movie?" asked Laura.

"Um, I had a bowl of cereal at 3 o'clock."

Ramsey's said that we'd have to wait one and a half hours. Um, no. Instead, we had a lovely dinner at an Indian restaurant and enjoyed a fascinating conversation involving the musical structure of hymns vs. worship music.

Laura wasn't Mike. But when he's not around, she's an adequate substitute.

(There was no good-night kiss.)

what Mike's been up to

Settle down, girls! The guy with the sexy accent behind the camera is MINE!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mike explains ...

why we are getting married in Germany.

(Jiri, I hope you're reading this.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

another australian gem

introducing "we can be heros"

While in Australia, I really enjoyed watching the show We Can Be Heros. While the show definitely has it's tongue-in-cheek comedy, one REALLY has to appreciate the research Chris Lilley had to do to execute each of his characters so well.

Chris plays a wide range of characters from a self-absorbed 16 year old girl to a Chinese phD student who loves the stage.

Click here to watch an interview with the actor and see more clips of the other characters ... I think Ricky Wong is my favorite!

*click on the link above to find out about the characters Ja'mie, Pat, Phil, Ricky, and Daniel all played by Chris Lilley.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

the beauty of the law (part 1)

Imagine a world gripped in fear and uncertainty.

You are standing on a hill gazing up into the wide expanse above.

"Who am I? Where did I come from? What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose? What is expected of me?"

You know that there must be more to this life.

Look at the world around you. While your thoughts may be chaotic within you, the world has a complex sense of order and purpose. Is there someone ... something ... who moves the clouds to pour rain on the crops? Does he see me? Is he happy with me? Have I offended him?

Your eyes grow crazy with anxiety. Surely, the power behind the elements is not by chance.

Surely, there is a god.

What does he require of me?

You are reigned by fear of the god who only communicates with you through the elements and circumstances around you. To form some sort of tangible understanding of this ellusive being, you mold out of wood or stone an image of your "god" but frantic questions still plague your mind ... what is expected of me? how does god wish for me to live? what pleases him?

And then ... you hear the sweet music of another man's voice.

And he sings,

"In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
My soul is consumed with longing
for your rules at all times.
Your testimonies are my delight;
they are my counselors.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life!
for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.
When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O LORD.
At midnight I rise to praise you,
because of your righteous rules.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have given me life.
Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
Great peace have those who love your law..."

Your heart plummets and then surges with hope. This man knows such joy ... such peace ... the peace you so long for. This man's God has revealed Himself to him and has spoken to him what He delights in ... what He requires of him. Longing swarms over your whole being to have his understanding.

Yes, the law of God is beautiful.

The voice of the Old Testament Israelite sings with sweet regard for God's commandments for it holds answers for his finite mind.

God desires to see His people rest. When and how long? an hour? 2 days? 4?


God delights in His people giving back to him what he has already blessed them with. How much and what? half my crops?

10 %

His law is not grievous or burdensome. It is a comfort ... a delight.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

30 day challenge

I have long been looking for resources which enable women to creatively encourage the men in their lives (whether it be family, husbands, or brothers-in-the-Lord). Nancy Leigh DeMoss has an excellent 30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.

(scroll down to printable downloads ... also I recommend perusing her other resources and listening to her podcasts.)

DeMoss is a faithful expositor of God's Word with the practicality that reaches the hearts, minds, and wills of women. She inspires me in my own path of ministry.

(Will you accept the 30 Day Challenge with me?)

read twice and call me in the morning

Mike and I have been discussing the importance of rest for ministers of the gospel. Today I was reminded of a post written by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle, in which he lists some excellent tips on how not to have your death certificate read "Death by Ministry".

Saturday, February 17, 2007

so beautiful

I'm selling my gorgeous classical guitar.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

36 hours of valentine loving

From the man who loves you like no other man.
Mike can love you as a husband,
but no man can love you like a father!
I love you!

Valentine's day began for me Tuesday afternoon as Mike called me when he woke up and I was working on his Valentine's Day gift. (My first V-day with a lover.) It was Wednesday morning for him and he was leaving in a few hours to a camp where he will be speaking over the next few days. (Alas! We will miss our regular date night.) I had already opened his gift the night before ... a handmade poster of the 2 Ways 2 Live gospel presentation.

My gift to him? No where near as thoughtful ... in fact it's just downright cheesy ... but I hope it makes him laugh. Maybe he can use it as a place mat.

I also received my annual bouquet of flowers from my fabulous father. One of my most cherished memories of my father is of me sitting on the kitchen counter as a three year old while he held out flashcards of simple three-letter words that I was learning to read.

It's difficult to be separated by vast oceans from the ones you love most. Mother and Father to the east and Michael to the west. But I am neither sad nor lonely. I am filled with love from and for them. Beautiful thoughts of Michael float through my head all day and I remember to pray for him and this amazing opportunity he has to speak the gospel to a camp of 7th-10th grade students.

This year I pulled no crazy stunts around campus. Instead I made an appointment with a doctor, mailed a package (Mike's gift and wedding invitations), and went to the bank.

But for more interesting holiday fun, read past February 14 related posts.

I'd rather laugh than cry: black dress, white socks, and Purim

I'd rather laugh than cry: something besides chocolate

I'd rather laugh than cry: not from my secret lover in Venezuela

I'd rather laugh than cry: husbands, spend some quality time with your wives

I'd rather laugh than cry: Spargel Appreciation Day - 02/14/06

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dear Mark, My boyfriend and I ...

I think Mark writes more about having a godly relationship than I do.

it feels good to purge

Well, I've sorted through all my belongings and have reduced the amount of stuff I'm transporting to Tasmania to a much reduced wardrobe, books, and a few art pieces.

Everything else has got to go.

Friday, February 02, 2007

my mother on women's issues today

This is an interesting concept—that in a short 30-40 years something so important to one generation could be seen to the new generation as irrelevant.

I mean the feminism issue.

The world has changed almost completely in that time as far as women and their status goes. You can imagine that if you lived in an environment where equal education, employment, promotion, levels of responsibility, and protection by the law, were being worked out every day, it would be really important to your generation, as to mine.

Any social movement has its liberals, conservatives, and the vast middle. In the equal rights for women movement the liberals are the raging feminists. The vast middle are women who just wanted to be all they could be and were willing to work extra hard to make it happen.

Because of social changes in these years, there are advantages to your generation that my generation only dreamed of. That is a really good thing for the mothers to have given to the daughters.

I don’t think the following generation has to give special homage to their predecessors, but they do have to work out their own issues that have popped up because of the rapid societal changes.

The main issue today is that we have realized that we can’t have it all. Economic, intellectual, developmental, and creative achievements have a cost. Finding meaning in life through our family relationships—like finding and keeping a happy husband and raising a family of Godly young people who will make a positive difference in the world--has a cost. We figured out in the 80’s and 90’s that one person just doesn’t have the currency to pay both bills. The question is whether we can sustain a society that allows women to choose to be “equal” parts of the work force at the times of their choice—before their children are born and after the children grow up, or during the hours that the children are in school

Interestingly, most of the issues ironed out previously have to do with life in the marketplace, but now the issues are about life in the home. Because women are able to do whatever they want now, they have to choose what it is they really want to do. Those who want to climb to the top of the corporate ladder probably won’t be spending a lot of quality time with a houseful of kids. Those who homeschool their brood probably won’t have time to compose many symphonies. You can’t have it all. You have to be really creative to even come close.

Politically, the top three issues today for working women are childcare, childcare, and childcare. Affordable, reliable, and just like mom would do it if she was there. The political issues are affordable and reliable, but close to the heart of women is the third issue.

Then after that comes maternity rights—keeping the job, being able to opt for longer maternity leaves perhaps even without pay but with the assurance that the job will still be there for you, and not being penalized because of your “Mom” status. Related to that is the issue of how in the world a woman can prevent the perception that her children negatively affect her job performance. Also related is possible leave time for dads to take care of children.

Then is the issue of older moms returning to the workforce when their children are gone. When a woman is over 40, she has valuable skills to market, but because she has been raising a house full of kids for the last 20 years, her resume looks like trash to employers. So, just at the point where she needs to get a good job, commensurate with her education and skills, she finds herself “qualified” only for positions that won’t do much to pay for her kids’ college bills.

There is still a bit of an issue about equalizing pay across professions. Although it is better than before, the professions to which women often feel called are remunerated at lower rates than other professions requiring similar training and qualifications. That makes it harder for widows, single moms, and single women in general.

So, feminism may not seem to be an issue to young, upwardly mobile women without children today, but the moment the HPT says “positive” that all changes.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

green girl is moving Down Under

Sigh ... So much to do!!! I have so much on my mind that it has been difficult to relax and fall asleep at night. (I foolishly thought that watching a mindless/eye-rolling replay of Monday night's Miss America Pageant might somehow lull me into a deep slumber ... didn't happen.) Papers to write ... books to read ... stuff to get rid of ... things to pack ... a car to sell ... all simultaneously bouncing off the bouncy castle walls of my brain.

And then ... bing!

A light came on and all bouncing stopped for a split second of time.

What if ... what if I, instead of having a bridal shower where people bring me stuff (ergh! more stuff to pack and ship to Australia ... NO!), have a party where people TAKE stuff.


All of a sudden I went from bouncy castle status to McDonald's ball room mania.

It could be like e-Bay ... or a silent auction ... people come and make bids on the stuff and the best offer is accepted, no matter what. That way I could also raise the money I need to move to the other side of the world. There would be music, food, general laughter and fun ... hmm, I'm thinking March, that way we can get a whole bunch of green decorations cheap and I'd still have time to pack the remainder to ship overseas ... wait, I can't do this myself! I know! I'll get Cassey and Laura to help! ... what about my pile of clothes?! I don't want to be left with a bunch of leftover shirts no one wants. Ooo! I could just box them up into about 3 boxes and they could go as a sort of "grab-bag" box. And whoever bought a box could deal with whatever they didn't want...

I didn't fall asleep till 3 a.m.