If you read only one article this week.

Make it these two.



Maybe you're aware of this website CatalystSpace.com
I have not been. But I'm impressed thus far.

The ground zero mosque. And you.

Apparently there is a lot of talk about what people have dubbed the "Ground Zero Mosque." Because I live outside of the United States I haven't heard much about it beyond what I get from my morning listening of the NPR news hourly podcast while shoveling yogurt and fruit into my 10 month-old's mouth. However recently I've been hearing a lot of strange opposition to the mosque being built and I wanted to chime in with my thoughts.

First of all I should mention that a lot of my thoughts have come from this article. Apparently this guy Douglas Wilson is kind of a big deal but he was a little bit heady for me to know exactly what he was saying. I did gleam some of his ideas about freedom of speech however and after talking it over with some friends these are my thoughts.

1. I'm an American. As an American I firmly believe in freedom of speech. I also love that our government also allows freedom of religion. Now I currently live in a place where neither of these two are freedoms and I have a very good understanding of what life is like without them. Remember our mantra about freedom of speech? "I disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

2. I'm a Christian who believes that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and no one has any chance of knowing the true Creator-All-Powerful God without going through Him. I do not believe that Mohammad was a prophet. I do not believe that allah is the same as the God I worship, nor do I think Jesus died on a cross to atone for people's sins before allah. As a Christian I do not WANT a mosque to be built ANYWHERE in America. I would prefer that only what I believe to be the One True God ever be honored anywhere.

But I would also prefer there not be Mormons building temples or 'churches' ANYWHERE in America.

That said I would defend to the death the right of the Muslims to build a mosque at ground zero. We cannot have freedom of religion and freedom of speech selectively. They have a right to build a mosque if they can afford it and have purchased the land no matter where their funding comes from.

3. Now having made these two points, I would also like to argue that we cannot say there should be no mosque at ground zero because it is hallowed ground (or whatever argument people are making). The only reason for the muslims not to build a mosque at ground zero is simply because it is RUDE.

That's it.

These are my points. We cannot stop them. We should not stop them. However we should certainly proclaim boldly that this is a RUDE thing to do and ask them not to do so (but they don't have to listen).

Islam is in a unique position, however, of being nearly immune to being ridiculed for doing rude things (mohammad cannot be portrayed in any way shape or form without someone getting their underwear in a bunch, but Jesus can be mocked mercilessly even by university professors). If a Christian simply says he is a Christian he is being inappropriately offensive in America (take Tim Tebow for example). But if an outspoken muslim group flies airplanes into buildings and kills many many people, then people feel the need to create an argument about 'hallowed ground' because they cannot simply say building a mosque nearby is RUDE.

Which is what it is. It's not wrong. It's not illegal. It certainly cant' be fought on any other grounds than the fact that it's just simply rude.

Life in a fallen world as a masquerade part - Paul Tripp

"Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn't present itself as evil, which is part of its draw."

- Paul Tripp from Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy (p.32)

I'm impressed with the accuracy of this list. Our daily prayer times lately have included readings from a number of different books. This one sunk in this morning.

Missions, evangelism, and strategy.

I've read the study of missions is divided into two parts (I believe I've mentioned this before):

1. The study of missions history
2. The study of missions theory

Both are fascinating to me. The first has become what I'm writing my masters thesis on. The second is my passion, my heartbeat, what I cant get out of my head. I think about the reasons we do mission, the way we do missions, the problems with missions, the way I can be a better missionary, what it will take to call others to missions, how to cast vision for missions etc... I think about it all day long - it's the top idea in my mind. Because it's what I do.

As I get older and learn more and more what I'm good at and what I'm passionate about I am finding that calling others to missions is the only thing I like better than missions. Going and telling people about Jesus is addicting, but then when you realize encouraging others to tell people about Jesus creates a much larger impact than you can as one person, it gets even more addicting. And so I spend even more of my time thinking about missions because I want to truly understand it and to someday be able to teach missions (my dream 5 - 10 years from now).

Lately one of the things on my mind has been the focus of my evangelism. I can return again and again to the same uninterested guy and share and share and share (and I think sometimes we're called to do this, often this is exactly what I do), or I can keep looking for people with hearts that are ready to hear and receive. My prayer recently has changed from "Lord lead those I share with to a saving knowledge of you," to, "Lead me to those you've already prepared to hear your truth." Whether you believe God 100% determines if a person will believe in him or God determines 10% and the person's own decision determines the other 90%, it doesn't really matter, either way you can agree there are those who have open hearts and those who do not. I'm begging the Lord to lead me (and my team) to those who are ready to hear and respond.

Not everyone I share with will be ready. And I'll keep sharing. Sometimes people here need to hear the gospel 4 or 5 times before they accept. There was a man here a few years ago I shared with who had heard the gospel before. I asked him if he believed and his response was, "Of course I believe. If you were the only one who preached it to me I wouldn't believe, but people from all over the world have told me of Jesus - he must be true!"

So I'm learning to be strategic in my evangelism. Like raising support you can bend people's arm hoping they'll eventually give money, or you can just move on - not take it personally - and pray the Lord leads you to those who are excited to give.

I can share with those who really aren't interested. I can preach the truth of their sin and of their need for God. But if they aren't ready to fall in love with Jesus then I am not going to be able to make them. Nor is it my job.

My job is to preach the truth. I LOVE that while that is the job of all of us, it's what I actually get paid to do. I pray the Lord leads me to those whom He has revealed Himself to, because without the Holy Spirit's work I cannot hope anyone will understand me, take me seriously, or know the truth.

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." - 1 Thess 1:4-5

When we preach the word we depend on the Lord and His work. No matter what your theology on it. The gospel when it is received - it comes in power and with the Holy Spirit. When a soul is snatched from eternal damnation into a loving relationship of hope and joy in Jesus it did not happen without the enemy noticing. It was not a little thing. The Holy Spirit was violently involved in the battle.

It's a great joy that the Lord can lead us to places where the spirit has already been fighting, and we get to be there to reap the fruit.

The utter filth of our sin. And how we gloss over it.

"I'll never know how much it cost to see my sins upon that cross." - Tim Hughes

One of the great advantages of a lamb sacrifice for the average person was seeing the blood of the lamb pour down. Watching a lamb die by having it's throat cut, watching the blood spurt out of the side of the animal in beat with the heart until there was nothing left - this, I will argue, was good for man.

One of the most common sins in the world (today as well as in history) is pride. I speak from experience. Four years ago I did a 40 day fast praying for the Lord to reveal to me three thigns. I prayed and prayed and obstained from any food and over a month later had: "pride," "pride" and "pride." Now pride would be a lot less prevelent of a problem if we didn't think so little of our sin and so much of righteousness. We begin to think our sins really aren't that big of a deal, and we forget what Christ had to go through on the cross in order for us to be made clean. It was no little sacrifice. Seeing "The Passion of the Christ" was a bit of an eye opener for a week or two until we forgot about it; wrote it off as actors. But I imagine seeing a lamb slain in front of me, trying not to vomit at the horror of it, would be an excellent reminder to me of what my sin costs.

If I had been there and watched my Lord be nailed to a cross, if I had watched Him suffer and die, I imagine I would weigh my sins more heavily.

The truth is that little itty bitty sin in our lives - ignoring the screaming child in the distance, or the begging man at the stoplight. Or even lying to our daughters over something small about which they'll never know the difference. These are serious sins. Because even a sin this small is enough to separate us from God. It doesn't separate us from His love, but from a relationship with Him. Our littlest sin was not little.

I heard a story about an American pastor who took a lamb into church and slit its throat and let the blood run down on him and get everywhere just like it would have pre-Jesus. Obviously animal rights people were not pleased with this, and I imagine many in his congregation were permanently scarred. But I also imagine it had a deep lasting impact on people. Making them realize the filth of their sin, and what it takes to to atone for that sin.

Praise God for the Great Lamb who was slain so our sins can be taken away. Praise the Lord for the blood that flowed from Jesus' head, hands, side, and feet. Praise Him because He gave up His son in a horrible terrible death to do what it took to cover over the sins we think are no big deal. Because He loved us enough to give His son for things we think trivial.

Praise Him.

Real missionary work is done on our knees

"Solid, lasting missionary work is done on our knees. What i covet more than anything else is earnest, believing prayer, and I write to ask you to continue to put up much prayer for me and the wrok here in Tengyueh." - James Fraser

As my masters thesis will be dealing with James Fraser and James Adam you can expect to see more quotes like these on the things by which I'm impressed. And please, feel free to take this to heart substituting Tengyueh for where I am. Even if you don't know where that is.

Good as the enemy of the best

Answers.com spit out this:

Every respectable Pharisee proves the truth of the saying that ‘the good is the enemy of the best.’‥Christ insists that we shall not be content with a second-best, though it be good.
[1912 J. Kelman Thoughts on Things Eternal 108]

‘The good’, runs the old aphorism, ‘is the enemy of the best.’ Nowhere is this better exemplified than in connection with self-deceit.
[1939 R. A. Habas Morals for Moderns vii.]

The first one here is not at all what I'm going for. I think many times we are to be content with the second best - even if it's not good. Sometimes second best is our lot.

This second one I'm just not sure I understand.

I read this phrase "The good is often the enemy of the best" in relationship to getting our priorities straight in a book on James O. Fraser (brilliant dude if you haven't googled him). In his young years as a missionary he was sorting through where to be spending his time. I found this particularly interesting because it's something that I frequently struggle with.

Recently I feel the Lord has led me to drop certain things I do. I've wrestled with Him over it though because I feel these things are 'good' and therefore are probably worth my time. But this phrase struck me today, because it occurs to me that sometimes what is 'good' is the enemy of what is 'best' - particularly when those things become a distraction.

Now I'm not saying never watch TV again because it would be better for you to be reading your Bible. While there may be some of you who are called to drop your entertainment because it has led you away from the Lord, I doubt this is the driving concern with most of you. For me this means I need to drop some of the worthlessness I do online because it is a distraction away from where the Lord has called me when I'm on my computer. Sometimes I need to be focused on email or work, but often I need to be away from computer altogether, reading for school or something.

Often I get caught up in stupidity. And because it is 'good' I'm distracted from where the Lord wants me in what is 'best.'

What 'good' in your life has become the enemy of what you could be doing that would be 'best'?