It is grieving when so many Christians in the west are out of breath developing polished ministry programs and large-scale events while rarely, if ever, giving thought to the abuse, devastation, and destitute people living in horror throughout the world. “Disney Church” will not turn the world back to God. A “theme park” agenda for “church activities” is impotent to deliver children soldiers and child sex slaves from their tormentors. Continue reading
As I looked through the tiny British Airways window the darkness underneath began to dissolve into the soft glow of an African dawn. The dim light gradually unveiled the mysterious continent thirty-thousand feet below. I was finally here. The sadness of goodbyes still gripped me but a growing excitement began to dull the pain. The jet landed on the tarmac in Kenya on January 26, 2000. I arrived with my wife who was eight-months pregnant, my three children who were all under four years of age, and more L.L. Bean duffle bags than they have on display in their store. It was hot and our bodies felt the toll of the journey as we stood in the long muggy line at customs. As we descended the stairs to baggage claim we tried to identify our “contact” amidst a sea of brown faces. I assumed finding a white face in Africa would be simple. That would be the first of a colossal list of wrong assumptions I would make about this continent and its people. Continue reading
Many of us have read and heard the story of the feeding of the 5,000 (probably more times than we can remember). It’s a great child’s story right? A willing boy, a lunch, the quaint scene of a picnic – you’re familiar with the scene. But are you sure you understand the full import of this miracle? I remember a sermon where the central teaching was illustrated by an evangelist running around the room pretending he was an ecstatic boy because Jesus chose “his lunch.” The scene of a grown man sweating and gasping for breath proved more distracting at that point in my life than missing the point of the text.
Well, let me ask you one question, “What is the purpose of this particular miracle?” I’ll give you a hint, Continue reading
While living in Nairobi an Indian man from our church invited us to an outdoor meal together with his friends and family. This former Hindu wanted to provide an opportunity for me to witness to his brothers about Jesus Christ. As we gathered, they were already grilling the Tandoori chicken and preparing the rice pilau. The smoke was billowing up from the grills and the combined smells of the chicken and spices were pungent and intense. Continue reading
Every Christian is faced with a very important decision. Are you going to drink alcohol or are you not going to drink alcohol? Both decisions are deliberate, neither decision is passive, and your default settings are not trustworthy.
I first posted this information on September 17, 2012. A few days later my daughter traveled from Colorado to visit her grandparents in Ohio. On September 24th (exactly one week after I issued biblical warnings about drunkenness) my daughter went to dinner with her grandparents, aunt and uncle, and her two cousins. While her aunt, uncle, nephew, and niece were traveling back to their home (less than 10 minutes from saying goodbye to my daughter) they were hit head-on by a drunk driver. My daughter returned to the scene of the accident with her grandparents and amidst the shattered glass and blood, put her arms around her two cousins to comfort them. She was there when her aunt was pulled from the car. She looked back and made eye contact at which time her aunt moaned when she saw her two children. The following morning (September 25) Emilee’s aunt, a young mother of two children, died (this happened just a little over five months ago). Continue reading
Have you noticed the competitive spirit among Christians? Maybe you’ve even been hit by the rocks thrown or hurt by the words said. I realize Paul used the illustration of running and wrestling but did he really want us running against and fighting each other? Why are Christians throwing other Christians down to the mat and even under the bus? What does this say to a lost world that needs to see the grace and humility of Jesus Christ? Doesn’t Paul also warn against selfish ambition and the clamor for celebrity status? Doesn’t Paul tell the Corinthians to stop being fleshly and to grow up? Sadly, ministry leaders often resemble two 3rd graders arguing over whose dad is better (or church or college or mission outreach). Continue reading
Today is the day we take down our Christmas tree. I think of heaven. Like most homes the Christmas decorations will be put back into their boxes for eleven long months. For many people “normal” will return (if you have that luxury setting on your life). In a flash it seems all the festivities are in the rearview mirror with the exception of a few college bowl games and some decent leftovers. Decorations become clutter and new gifts are used if they haven’t already been exchanged. In a moment it’s over. Thankfully this is not what heaven will be like! Continue reading
God does not need our service to Him this year. The King of heaven does not need our “ministry package.” The Sovereign LORD depends not on our designer label products. God may choose to glorify Himself through our death rather than through our life. Through our failure rather than through our success. Continue reading
Central African hunters coined a term which is now infamous on the continent of Africa. It’s the term “The Big Five.” The Big Five denotes five animals that possess the hardware and tenacity to lethally reverse the whole predator prey hunting concept. The Big Five include lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and cape buffalo. Hunters who know Africa well, however, say there should actually be a “Big Six.” Let me explain.
It was in the South Luangwa Game Reserve in eastern Zambia where we smelled death before we saw it. The dank smell of decaying flesh lingered in the warm African evening. There under a tree was a pride of lions gorging on the rotting carcass of a bull elephant they must have ambushed only a day or two earlier. We could hardly believe what we saw! The nightmarish feast was disturbing. An important lesson was driven home that evening in the bush of Africa. As our senses of sight, smell, and hearing were peaked the warning was clear – “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).