Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I love you

Dearest Jimmy,

No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking off our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me.

I love you, I love you, I love you!

Yours Forever, Marie

P.S. And congratulations on winning the state lottery!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

“What has Jesus done?” becomes more important than “What would Jesus do?”

How to Avoid Christless Christianty
Mon, Nov. 22 2010 09:16 AM EDT

Scripture is of no use to us if we read it merely as a handbook for daily living without recognizing that its principle purpose is to reveal Jesus Christ and his gospel for the salvation of sinners. All Scripture coalesces in Christ, anticipated in the OT and appearing in the flesh in the NT.

In Scripture, God issues commands and threatens judgment for transgressors as well as direction for the lives of his people. Yet the greatest treasure buried in the Scriptures is the good news of the promised Messiah.

Everything in the Bible that tells us what to do is “law”, and everything in the Bible that tells us what God has done in Christ to save us is “gospel.”

Much like medieval piety, the emphasis in much Christian teaching today is on what we are to do without adequate grounding in the good news of what God has done for us in Christ. “What would Jesus do?” becomes more important than “What has Jesus done?”

The gospel, however, is not just something we needed at conversion so we can spend the rest of our Christian life obsessed with performance; it is something we need every day – the only source of our sanctification as well as our justification.

The law guides, but only the gospel gives. We are declared righteous–justified – not by anything that happens within us or done by us, but solely by God’s act of crediting us with Christ’s perfect righteousness through faith alone.

Preachers, read that paragraph over and over.

As I’ve said here before, don’t make the mistake of assuming that people understand the radical nature of gospel indicatives, so that your ministry is focused primarily on the imperatives.

The commands in the Bible are like a set of railroad tracks. The tracks provide no power for the train but the train must stay on the tracks in order to function. The law, in other words, never gives any power to do what it commands. It shows us what a sanctified life looks like but it has no sanctifying power. Only the gospel has power, as it were, to move the train. This is why the Bible never tells us what to do before first soaking our hearts and minds in what God in Christ has already done.

The fact is, that any obedience not grounded in or motivated by the gospel is unsustainable. No matter how hard you try, how “radical” you get, any engine smaller than the gospel that you’re depending on for power to obey will conk out in due time.

Preach the gospel!

William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is a Florida native, the new pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Tullian is the author of Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship (Multnomah), Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (Multnomah) and Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (Crossway). Tullian is also a contributing editor to Leadership Journal. He speaks at conferences throughout the U.S. and his sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program Godward Living.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reduce the number of missionaries?!

Southern Baptist Agency to Cut Missionary Force by 600
Thu, Nov. 26, 2009 Posted: 12:09 PM EDT

The Southern Baptist Convention’s international mission agency will cut its overseas force by as many as 600 missionaries in 2010.

Due to a severe budget shortfall, the International Mission Board decided to reduce the number of missionaries it has on the field, with the process already starting this year. The board will not bring home missionaries already serving on the field, but the reduction instead will result from natural attrition.

“We are simply not going to be sending as many new missionaries,” explained Wendy Norvelle, IMB spokesperson, to The Christian Post on Wednesday.

Some missionaries serve two- to three-year terms, Novelle pointed out, and the IMB will simply let those terms expire. Other long-term missionaries will retire or resign to take on positions in other ministries.

There are currently a little above 5,500 IMB missionaries overseas and the plan is to decrease that number to about 5,000 by the end of 2010.

The decision to reduce the missionary force is based on several factors, but mostly because of the economy, Norvelle said.

IMB has three major sources of income: regular offering in churches through the Cooperative Program, investments, and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which makes up more than half of the agency’s annual budget.

Last year, all three sources of income were down by millions of dollars each. The 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering was $9 million less than the total received in 2007. Moreover, it was $29 million short of the $170 million goal.

A smaller budget means less money to support overseas missionaries.

Norvelle said reducing the number of missionaries will have an effect on the Southern Baptist Convention’s mission work.

“Obviously, what we are about is taking the Gospel to people who never had the opportunity to hear and sending fewer people means there will be fewer forces and personnel on the field taking the Gospel where it needs to go,” she said.

“So yes, it will affect us. We are not able to, for instance, put some new personnel in an unreached people group.”

But Norvelle said SBC churches are widely becoming aware that the resources provided for mission work were not adequate and are discussing the concern. Many SBC leaders are “sounding the alarm” and saying the situation is unacceptable, she said.

“Southern Baptist [churches] took in $12 billion in 2008 in their offering plate,” the IMB spokesperson pointed out. “And so some of it may be a matter of priority of how churches choose to spend their dollar. Whether they use it to focus on reaching the lost world or spend it on programs and ministries that benefit themselves.”

The International Mission Board is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest evangelical denomination. The SBC claims more than 40,000 churches with nearly 16 million members.

Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter

The two enemies of the Gospel

Are You Holding Back?
By Colin Smith

"Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." Romans 1:5

God calls you to a life of obedience through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. God calls you to find in Christ what you do not have, to receive from Christ what you cannot offer, to accomplish through Christ what you cannot do.

The two enemies of the Gospel

The Gospel always lives in the presence of two enemies-one is called "legalism," the other is called, "antinomianism." Legalism says, "Obey God's command, so that you may believe His promise." But if you have to clean up your life before you come to Christ, how will anyone ever be able to come?

Antinomianism says, "Believe God's promise, so that you can ignore God's command." There will be some in every church who, having made a decision for Christ, live carelessly and sin presumptuously. There are others who, falling many times by the same temptation, are overwhelmed by the sense of their own unworthiness.

The Gospel says something radically different, "Believe God's promise, so that you may obey His command." The gospel answer to antinomianism is that God calls you to a life of obedience. The gospel answer to legalism is that God calls you to a life of faith.

Are you holding back because you think you cannot change?

Come to Christ and you will find you begin to love what you used to hate, and you begin to hate what you used to love. The obedience that is beyond you by nature, is possible for you through a living union with Christ that the Bible calls "faith." Through this bond He will give you new desires, new strength and new life that you did not have before.

Are you holding back because you have problems and wounds?

Stop looking at yourself. You won't find the answer there. God is calling you to a faith in Christ and a life of obedience that flows from His life in you.

Are you holding back because you have doubts and questions?

Come to Christ with your doubts and questions, "Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).

Are you holding back because you do not think you need Christ?

Your obedience is far from complete. God commands you to repent and obey the Gospel (1 Peter 4:17).

Are you holding back because your sins are many?

Look at the cross. The Savior is there for sinners. He is there for you. The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse you from every sin. This Savior is able to take you from a slimy pit and set your feet on the rock (Psalm 40:2). He is able to present you faultless and with great joy in the presence of Almighty God (Jude 1:24). Come to Him and find hope in Him today. Christ calls you to the obedience of faith.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Connecting with an old flame

N.J. Pastor Tells Church Leaders to Get Off Facebook
Thu, Nov. 18, 2010 Posted: 07:02 AM EDT

A New Jersey pastor is requiring all married church officials to delete their Facebook accounts in the wake of increasing marital troubles in his church.

The Rev. Cedric Miller of Living Word Christian Fellowship Church told The Associated Press that he has been in extended counseling with many couples because of problems posed by Facebook – namely a spouse connecting with an old flame.

"What happens is someone from yesterday surfaces, it leads to conversations and there have been physical meet-ups. The temptation is just too great," he told AP.

Church leaders have until Sunday to permanently sign off Facebook or resign from their positions. Miller also plans to delete his account this weekend.

Miller isn't the only one seeing Christian couples run into trouble because of the popular social networking site.

Texas pastor Kerry Shook of Woodlands Church told The Christian Post earlier this year that he has seen at least one marriage break up over connections made with a past girlfriend or boyfriend on Facebook.

"When you start playing around with that kind of thing, you think it's no big deal. 'They friended me. I'll find out what's going on with them.' [When] you start down that path, you know where that path ends," the megachurch pastor stated then.

At Living Word Christian Fellowship Church, Miller said the misuse of Facebook has posed problems for 20 couples.

Miller plans to warn his entire congregation this weekend about the dangers of Facebook. The mandate to delete one's account, however, won't apply to the congregation.

He told Asbury Park Press that though some may see his action with the church staff as controlling, he's more concerned about saving families and marriages.

Living Word Christian Fellowship Church is more than 20 years old and draws some 1,100 attendees.

Audrey Barrick
Christian Post Reporter

Copyright © 2010 Christianpost.com. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do you ever think about God?

Breaking the Ice to a Spiritual Conversation

When your non-Christian friends do not bring up a spiritual subject, make a statement about God, or ask a question about religion or Christianity. You may need to break the ice to a spiritual conversation yourself. These are nine suggested ways to break the ice:

1. Ask a question about your friend’s religious background.

This is a simple exploration of the history of your friend’s religious experiences that will provide you with information about where he is on his spiritual journey and how he came to be there. It may also reveal if he has excess baggage and/or false beliefs that you may need to deal with.

For examples:

“Jane, may I ask you a question?” After her response, ask, “Do you have a religion?”
“Andrew, you may think this is a strange question, but do you ever think about God?” After his response, ask, “What is your religious background?”

If he or she has no religious background, ask, “Then, Jane, who do you think God is?”

2. Ask a few exploratory questions about his belief.

For examples:

“Betty, I have a question for you. Do you think there is a God who created the universe?” – “What do you think about God?”

“Robert, you are a Mormon/ Buddhist / Roman Catholic, aren’t you?” – “Would you tell me something about your church / religion?”

Or, “Would you tell me what your view of God / the Bible is?”

Or, take the personal approach: “How long have you been a Mormon (or other)?” – “What led you to become a Mormon?”

Use your reflective listening skills to draw him or her out and show your interest (refer to point 7 on “Reflective listening, or speaking for the other person”).

3. Begin with an apologetics question

For examples:

“Alan, you are Mormon/ Buddhist / Roman Catholic aren’t you?” – “Well, I am interested in why people believe what they do. So, tell me this. How do you know for sure that what you believe is true?”

You can also ask your friend to describe his beliefs in these ways:

“Would you describe for me what you basically believe?”
“How does this help you in life?”
“What do you hope to gain from your belief?”

4. If you see a religious symbol.

If you see any religious symbol in a person’s home, car, place of business, or worn as jewelry, use the following questions to ask about it:

“I see a cross on your wall / I see you are wearing a cross. It looks nice. Is that just a decoration / piece of jewelry, or do you have a Christian background?”
“Is that a religious symbol you are wearing?” – “Can you tell me what it means?”
“I see a picture of a religious person on your bookshelf. Are you a member of Self-Realization Fellowship?”

5. When your friend expresses any sense of awe at the beauty of nature.

For example, if you observe a non-believer expressing awe and reverence at God’s creation, or new parents expressing such feelings as they look lovingly at their newborn baby, ask:

“That sunset is awesome. Have you ever thought about God being a beautiful artist who makes living art and not just still pictures on the wall?”
“You must be having a great time with your new baby. Have you ever thought about God being the Giver of wonderful gifts like this?”

6. After a tragedy that impacted the other person.

In this situation, use the person’s heightened sensitivity to death and eternity to lead him, first to express his feelings about the tragedy, and then to understand his need to know about eternity by saying, “Anna, where do you think people go when they die? Would you want to know for sure where you would end up?”

7. Reflective listening, or speaking for the other person.

There are some situations where a conversation about spiritualality is not easy to start. People who are not open to spiritual conversations often have something hidden behind the closed doors of their hearts. They either do not know how to say it or are afraid. This method helps to open a closed door to a person’s heart.

Reflective listening is showing your sincere interest and understanding by making your own statements that reflect back the thoughts, feelings and situation of the other person in a way that he could have said for himself, but didn’t. Reflective listening is non-judgmental and gives no advice. By paraphrasing, you show that you have been listening and therefore demonstrate empathy. People love to know that you understand or are trying to understand. It would help to draw out the deeper thoughts and feelings of the other person. For example:

Jenny: I came home last night and saw my lazy husband sitting in front of the TV while the dirty dishes were left in the sink. I had to wash them before I could fix dinner.
You: It certainly is tiring to have to do all the work around the house.
Jenny: Yeah, especially when I work just as many hours as he does.
You: I’ll bet you wish he would help with the work and make it a little easier for you around the house.
Jenny: I sure do.

Other examples of reflective listening concerning someone’s belief:

“Then you believe that you can know God through your feelings / experiences / understanding / meditation?”
“Then you believe that the Koran / the Book of Mormon is also from God?”
“Then you think you can get along fine in life by yourself without considering God?”
“Then you see Christianity as just a crutch, and you don’t want to have anything to do with it?”
“Then you are saying that, even if there is a living God who has the power of life and death over you, you don’t want to have a thing to do with Him?”

In order for your reflective listening to be effective, it is good to ask some exploratory questions to find out about the person’s belief first, before you can accurately reflect back his thoughts, feelings, and situation about his faith (refer to point 2 on “Ask a few exploratory questions about his belief”).

Sometimes it is helpful to reflect back what you observe, not just what you hear.

Examples are as follows:

“Wow, look at that stack of papers on your desk! You must be snowed with work.”
“It looks to me as if something heavy is weighing down that heart of yours.”
“You miss your mom, don’t you?”

These statements show your attention, interest, insight, and caring. Just simply
stating the facts of what you see about another person will show that you are aware of what is happening to him or her. Showing that you understand and are interested will help open the other person to share deeper thoughts and concerns with you and to be more open to what you have to say.

Suppose you know a teenager who used to attend church but who has mostly dropped out and is having some struggles or failures in life. After some preliminary conversation, you may say, “Jonathan, I have noticed something that may indicate that you are carrying a burden alone. When I look at you, I see someone who used to attend church regularly, but who now doesn’t find it important to him. [Pause] You are looking for something in life and you don’t see it in the church. [Pause] You don’t find any meaning in the worship service or in what the pastor says. [Pause] You don’t find any friends there that you would like to spend time with.”

He may respond at some point that this is not the problem, but he may also fail to give any additional information. You can then continue in your attempt to speak for the other person: “Maybe it is that you are facing some problems in life and don’t see any help from the church, the Bible, or God.” You indicate by your expression your sincere interest in him and your puzzlement as to what is causing his behavior.

At some point, he may give you a glimpse into the problem hidden in his heart. When he does, continue your statements in the same manner and tone of voice. You want him to understand that you can state his problem from his viewpoint with understanding and empathy and without any judgment, criticism, or advice whatsoever. This may go a long way towards solving his problem and opening his heart spiritually. You must not rush through this conversation, but rather, be patient in understanding his frustration and discomfort over his situation. If it is something that is deep within him, it probably would not be appropriate for you to try to give him your answers to his problem at this time.

Some people may slam the door harder by saying something like, “Don’t bother me about this. I don’t want to talk about it. Just leave me alone.” If he does this, you can respond empathetically that you don’t want to interfere with his life, but that you are concerned for his well-being. It is probably appropriate to leave the subject at that point, leaving the door open for him to approach you at a later time.

8. Use a truth statement.

A truth statement is a brief statement that links a person’s basic need to an action based on God’s truth. It provides a bridge, or emotional link, from where your friend is to where God is. These statements are made with a sense of urgency as one concerned friend for another. They provide a knock on the door of his heart that hopefully will lead him to open the door for further consideration and eventual acceptance of God’s truth.

You can learn to make your own truth statements from Scripture. Find a verse that relates to two conditions: one that you do and another that will be a result of what you do. Put the second behind the “going to” and the first behind the “need to”. For example:

For a fearful person: “If you’re going to get rid of your fears, then you need to get to know the God of peace who can help you and give you strength.” (Isa 41:10)

For a person grieving: “I know that you are grieving now and have a lot of pain. But our creator God is the God of peace. If you’re going to receive peace in your heart, you need to know the God of peace. He will help you through this. Do you know God?” – “Would you like to receive His comfort?” (2 Cor 1:3-5)

A feeling or need revealed by your friend can become a springboard to a truth statement. Present only one truth statement at a time, and then allow adequate time for him to think about and discuss fully the truth that this statement conveys to ensure that he understands it. If he has a negative reaction, don’t back off or soft pedal your statement. Your very conviction and genuine care and concern for him may eventually cause this statement to embed itself into his heart.

9. Use single sentence testimonies.

Give your testimony by allowing your natural reaction to come out about a circumstance that demonstrates your faith in God and Jesus Christ. For example:
During a conversation about a difficult situation in your life, you could say, “If it weren’t for my faith in Jesus Christ, I don’t think I could have gotten through this.”

If someone asks the reason for your cheerfulness or caring attitude, you could say, “Well, this may sound strange to you, but I have the love of Jesus Christ working within me; and He gives me meaning and purpose in my life.”

When you are speaking with a person who has expressed some personal problem or concern, offer to pray for him by saying, “I would like to pray for you [name the particular situation and party involved]. What specifically would you like me to pray for?”

If a close loved one has recently died, you could say, “You know, if it weren’t for my faith in Jesus Christ and my close relationship with Him, I would have had a far more difficult time getting through this. I had a very close relationship with [name the one who died]. But my strength at this time is the result of an even closer relationship with Jesus Christ who gives me meaning and purpose in life, and a desire to keep going and make new friends. Oh, at times it has been hard, but my relationship with Jesus Christ has made a big difference.”

A word of caution concerning personal testimonies – It can be risky to proclaim what God has done for you tangibly, especially to those who have little or no faith. They might think, “God healed his son. Why hasn’t God healed my daughter? Does God hate me? Are they better than we are?” Or “God brought him a car when he needed it. I just need a new lawn mower, and I can’t afford it now. If God can give him a car, why can’t God give me just a lawn mower? I guess God doesn’t care about me.” Hence, instead of testifying of tangible blessings, testify of your feelings and how God helped you through your difficult times.

Adapted from: Don Ashcraft, Tongue-tied No More: A Complete Guide to Conversational Evangelism (Fullerton, CA: Evangelism House Publisher, 2003), 15-18,38-47, 49-52, 54-56.

Count Your Blessings! Be a Blessing!

20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of the planet’s resources.GEO4, UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) 2007.

The world spends 12 times more on weapons than on aid to developing countries. OECD, 2008 (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

5,000 people die everyday because of polluted drinking water. 1 billion humans have no access to safe drinking water! UNDP, 2006 (United Nations Development Programme).
1 billion people are going hungry. FAO, 2008 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

75% of fisheries products are exhausted, depleted or are in danger of being so. UN (United Nations).

The average temperature of the last 15 years has been the highest since records began. NASA GISS data.

The ice cap has lost 40% of its thickness in 40 years. NSIDC, 2004.

There could be 200 million climate refugees by 2050. The Stern Review: The economics of climate change part II, chapter 3, page 77.

Over 50% of grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or biofuels. Worldwatch Institutue, 2007.

40% of arable land is degraded. UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme).
Every year, 13 million hectares of forest disappear. FAO, 2005.

1 mammal in 4, 1 bird in 8, 1 amphibian in 3 are threatened with extinction. Species are dying out 1,000 times faster than the natural state. IUCN, 2008 (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quickie marriages among young couples

Young couples quick to marry and quick to divorce

Thursday November 18, 2010

KUCHING: Quickie marriages among young couples is one of the factors behind the increasing divorce rate among Muslims in Sarawak.

According to statistics, about 50% of registered marriages in the state ended up in divorce.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said the divorce rate among Muslims in big cities such as Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu had risen.

“The number of Muslim couples getting married is increasing every year. Unfortunately, the divorce rate is also going up.

“The major contribution to divorce in the state is that couples are getting married too early and too fast.

“Initially, they think they are compatible but after some time, they realise they are not. Then, they bid goodbye and divorce. Some of them even left their spouses and disappeared,” he told reporters after attending the Aidiladha sacrificial slaughter of animals at the Nur Hidayah surau in Kampung Kolong 2 Wetan here yesterday.

Daud said the state Islamic Council offered counselling to couples who wanted to save their marriage. — Bernama

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Make listening to God a habit of your life

The Seven Foundations of Jesus’ Leadership
By Rick Warren

There are no perfect leaders. I’m not a perfect leader. Neither are you. But Jesus is. There’s no better teacher on leadership than Jesus. What made him such as effective leader? Lots of reasons. In this article I’ll give you seven of them.

1. Identification: I must know who I am. To be a leader you’ve got to know who you are. All great leaders know their strengths and their weaknesses. We’re a bundle of both. Leadership is not ignoring one in favor of the other. It’s being honest about them. Good leaders don’t try to be something they are not. They are self-aware.
Jesus had no doubt about his identity. He said:

I am the light of the world.
I am the Son of God.
I am the way.
I am the truth.
I am the life.
I am the bread of life.

Jesus defines himself 18 times by saying, “I am…” He didn’t let other people define him. He defined himself. If you’re going to be a leader, you must know who you are.

2. Clarification: Know what you want to accomplish. You must clarify what God has called you to do with your life. The direction of your life is your choice. If you don’t like the direction your life is headed right now, change it. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head. Nobody’s making you a victim. Nobody’s forcing you to serve in the manner you’re serving.

Jesus knew exactly what God had called him to do. He was a straightforward leader who established clear-cut goals. In John 8 Jesus says, “I know where I came from and I know where I’m going.” Jesus had a clear purpose. He knew not only who he was, but what was he trying to do with his life. He truly was a purpose-driven leader.
God has a purpose for your life and ministry. If you don’t fulfill it, you have wasted your life. You were put on earth to live for the purpose God created you for. A leader knows that purpose and pursues it with passion.

3. Motivation: Know who you’re trying to please. You need to settle the issue of motivation. You can’t please everybody. Just about the time you get one person happy, you’ll tick someone else off.

Jesus lived for an audience of One. His whole purpose was to please his heavenly Father. Jesus says this in John 5, “I only try to please the One who sent Me.” Jesus wasn’t trying to win a popularity content; he just wanted to please God.
That’s a lesson we have to learn as leaders. You’ve got to learn not to care about the opinions of others. You’ve got to focus on God’s opinion of what you’re doing. Don’t pay attention to those who cheer you or jeer you. Either one will sidetrack you.

4. Collaboration: Work with a small group. You never lead by yourself. You always do it in context of a team. All great leaders are great team builders. In fact, if you don’t have a team, you’re not a leader. You’re a loner. The test of leadership is whether anyone is following you.

Jesus modeled this kind of ministry. He never did ministry alone. Mark 3:14 says, “He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.” Jesus enlisted other people to serve the cause with him.

If God gives you a vision for your ministry, he’s going to bring other people with the same idea together with you. If nobody agrees on your idea, guess what? It’s not from God.

5. Concentration: Focus on what’s important. Leaders must focus on what’s important. Life is filled with things that will distract you from what’s important. Sometimes we can be distracted by good things as well. If Satan can’t mess up your life by getting you to do wrong things, he’ll mess up your life by giving you too many good things to do.

Jesus was a master of concentration. He focused his life like a laser. He refused to be distracted. Luke 9:51 says, “As the time drew near for his return to heaven, he moved steadily onward toward Jerusalem with an iron will.” He headed toward Jerusalem to die on the cross for us. He did it with an iron will. He would not let anything distract him from what was important.

Your ministry has incredible potential. But that ministry potential won’t be realized until you decide what’s really important. Settle on what’s most important, and God will use your life like you could never imagine.

6. Meditation: Listen to God. Make listening to God a habit of your life. Jesus did. Prayer was a regular part of his life. The Bible tells us in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

If Jesus needed to get alone and listen to God, don’t you think that you need to? You need quiet times to reflect, renew, and recharge. You need time to just get alone, be quiet, and listen to God.

7. Relaxation: Take time to recharge. Leadership is draining. It’s hard work. We all need time to just relax. Jesus encouraged his very busy disciples to take some time for relaxation. Mark 6:31 says, “Crowds of people were coming and going so that they did not even have time to eat. He [Jesus] said to them [the disciples], ‘Come away by yourselves, and we’ll go to a lonely place to get some rest.’”

Jesus realized the disciples had been busy serving, and they were tired. They needed a break. So he told them to get away and rest. Rest is so important that God put it in the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment says this: every seventh day you take a day off. Pastor, this applies to you as well. You need a day away from the church.
Years ago I learned a key to lasting in leadership: divert daily, withdraw weekly, and abandon annually.

Divert daily means doing something fun every day. Get a hobby. Do something that relaxes you.

Withdraw weekly means you take a day off every week for relaxation and restoration.
Abandon annually means you get away and forget everything for some time each year.

Your leadership is a key ingredient to helping your church become what God has called it to be. In fact, the Bible says this in Proverbs 11:14, “Without wise leadership a nation is in trouble.” That’s true of every single area of life. Without wise leadership, your church is in trouble. Learn about leadership from Jesus. We have no better guide.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund

Woman becomes first US transgender trial judge
Published: Wednesday November 17, 2010 MYT 7:44:00 AM

OAKLAND, California (AP) - A 49-year-old California patent lawyer has been elected as America's first openly transgender trial judge.

Alameda County elections officials say Victoria Kolakowski beat prosecutor John Creighton 51 to 48 percent - a margin of nearly 10,000 votes - in the Nov. 2 election to fill the vacancy in California's Superior Court.

Kolakowski had been leading since election night, but outstanding absentee and provisional ballots made the race too close to call until Monday.

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund has said she is the first openly transgender trial court judge in the country.

Kolakowski spent the past three years as an administrative law judge settling energy contract and environmental compliance disputes for the California Public Utilities Commission. She underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1991.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Praying for the folks in Belaga, Sarawak

Belaga folk left high and dry
Saturday November 13, 2010

BELAGA: Life is tough. That's a fact the people in the district have learnt the hard way.

The impoundment of the Bakun Dam in the upper reaches of Rajang River since a month ago has not only changed the natural landscape but also impacted the people's life socio-economically.

With very little water flowing from upstream, the river has shrunk and restricted navigational activities along the river.

Sandy banks and riverbed are visible and in some places, rocky beds are exposed, making navigation impossible for tugboats and express boats.

It has also become a joke in Belaga bazaar that people can play football on the riverbed.

Community leader Penghulu Neo Hood Joo, 62, said he had lived in Belaga all his life and had never come across sand banks or riverbeds until about two weeks ago.

Even in the driest months, between June and July, the water level was still higher than what it is now, he said.

Although he and other community leaders had been briefed on the impact of the impoundment and passed on the information to the ground, many were still caught by surprise when water level dropped drastically, he added.

"We didn't expect the water level to be so low that it stops express boats and tongkang operations from Kapit to Belaga," he said.

Neo said the government and experts should have anticipated this and built a road to link Kapit and Belaga before the impoundment began.

"Some shopkeepers still get their supplies through tongkang from Kapit because they do not have 4WDs to buy supplies from Bintulu, which is about four hours from here by logging road," he said.

He said the locals also feared that the coming rainy season would hamper transportation by land as some parts of the logging tracks would become too muddy and slippery.

"What if we were also cut off by road as well due to bad weather? Are we ready to face the challenges ahead?" he asked.

Neo said people in Belaga who worked in Kapit and Sibu would have problems getting to their villages for Christmas next month because the express service had stopped.

"They will have to fork out extra expenses to return by land from Bintulu. This also means a longer journey home, from just three hours by express boat from Kapit to two days by express boat from Kapit to Sibu, then from Sibu to Bintulu by land or air.

"A trip home that used to cost RM50 or less is now up to RM200 per person," he added.

All this would cause financial hardship to the people who were from low and medium-income groups, he said.

Neo said students studying at SMK Belaga would also face difficulty going back to their longhouses along the river.

"They can only use small longboats that will take a longer time to reach their villages compared to express boats. It is also dangerous because they have to navigate past rapids downstream," he added.

There are about 30 longhouse villages along the river.

Echoing the same sentiment, Penghulu Nicholas Mering Kulleh, 52, said most villagers could not afford to buy life jackets which cost between RM30 and RM50 each.

"If there are five people in a family, that's more than RM100 and the people, who are mainly self-sufficient farmers, cannot afford it," he said.

He said the impoundment had already claimed two lives, one at Korea Rapids upriver and another near Punan Biau downriver.

"Those living along the river are putting their lives at risk whenever they go to Belaga bazaar because of rapids, rocky riverbeds, jutting logs and dead trees," said the community leader, fondly known as Penghulu Nyalang.

Nyalang said he was also worried about sick villagers not being able to get help from Belaga Hospital due to the drying river.

"Life is tough. I am afraid it will be tougher in the coming days if the water level gets lower each day and there is not enough rain," he added.

He urged the government to build roads connecting some of the villages to the logging road that connects Belaga to Bintulu.

A villager from Rumah Tanjong, William Liah, 43, said he used to catch three to four fish a day weighing a few kilogrammes each, but that had changed.

"It's getting harder to catch fish as the fish have gone elsewhere," he said, adding that he planted padi and caught fish to survive.

Showing a fish weighing about 4kg that he had just caught after a week, he said it would fetch him about RM90, which was just enough to buy fuel to return home from the Belaga baazar.

"Some of us used to catch a lot of fish like labang, baung, mengalan, empurau and tapah further upriver near the dam's gate when the impoundment started. But that windfall was shortlived," he lamented.

He said he was among the few villagers who dared to navigate through the rapids to sell fish and buy rations.

"It's tough and risky, but do we have a choice? We still need to eat and live," he said.

On Thursday, former environment adviser to the Sarawak government, Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit, said water released from the dam should be about 150 cubic metres per second based on the Downstream Environ ment Assessment study done in the mid-1990s.

However, Sarawak Hidro was only releasing 110 cubic metres of water per second.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Having considered all evidence, I am left in no reasonable doubt

Former teacher gets 36 years and whipping for raping girl, 12

Published: Wednesday November 10, 2010 MYT 12:24:00 PM
Updated: Wednesday November 10, 2010 MYT 2:14:17 PM

KOTA KINABALU: A former teacher at a private school here has been sentenced to a total of 36 years in jail and four strokes of the rotan after being found guilty of two charges of raping his 12-year-old student earlier this year.

Sessions Court judge Duncan Sikodol ordered Adrian Simon, 31, to be imprisoned 18 years for each charge but allowed the jail term to served concurrently.

He also allowed a stay of execution pending an appeal.

Adrian was accused of raping the the 12-year-old girl between February and March this year at about 2.10 to 3.30pm.

He was also accused of raping the girl at about 10.25am on March 26.

The offences were alleged to have taken place at the store room of the school’s science laboratory.

Both charges under Section 376(2)(e) of the Penal Code provided for a jail term of up to 30 years and whipping.

Duncan said he found that the “very credible and consistent” evidence from the girl was enough to convict Adrian.

“Although I am aware of the danger of convicting the accused on uncorroborated evidence and having warned myself of the same, given the very credible and consistent evidence of the victim, I think it is safe to rely on her evidence alone as it outweighs the inherent risks.

“Having considered all evidence, I am left in no reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of both charges against him,” he said.

Adrian’s counsel Khairul V Othman immediately asked the court for a lenient sentence as his client had been cooperative with the authorities and suffered much anguish since his arrest.

In pressing for a deterrent sentence, Deputy Public Prosecutor Luke Ressa Balang said as a teacher, Adrian had the responsibility of caring for his students and that he had breached this trust.

“He raped a young girl. Imagine the stress and humiliation her family has to endure,” he added.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Money cannot buy happiness

Canadian lottery winners give most of cash away
By Agence France-Presse, Updated: 05/11/2010

An elderly Canadian couple have become beloved instant stars after winning more than 11 million dollars on the lottery -- and then quietly giving almost all of it away.

Violet and Allen Large, who live in a modest home in Lower Turo, Nova Scotia, scooped the jackpot in July.

But believing they already had everything they needed, they have been distributing the cash among charities, keeping only about 200,000 dollars in case of a rainy day.

The couple drew up a list of worthy causes, starting with their families and then adding hospitals, fire services, churches, cemeteries and charity groups, and sending off checks in the mail.

"Money cannot buy happiness," said Allen Large, 75, a former welder, explaining their decision to give away the loot.

His wife has been battling cancer, and chemotherapy treatment has caused her hair to fall out. But she said she feels lucky as it did not make her nauseous.

As news of their generosity filtered out they were first feted in their village, but now their smiling faces have appeared on television screens across the country and on the front pages of the national newspapers.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It has always been on my heart to reach the unreachable

New church aims to attract the 'unreachables'

For The Times
October 30, 2010

The Rev. Kenny Rice decided five years after "planting" Set Free Baptist Church in Dahlonega, it was time to create a church with the same rock ‘n' roll, biker feel in Gainesville.

With the help of the Chattahoochee Baptist Association, Good Samaritan Baptist Church was created and it had its first service last Sunday.

"I'm kind of a church starter; we were up there for five years and it was time to start another one," he said. "That was my seventh church, so that seems like what we do - start them up and then get another one going."

Set Free was known for its nontraditional meeting space in Dahlonega - an old converted chicken house.

Rice hopes that he can reach the unreachable in Gainesville.

"We had 40 people at our first service, and that was nice, so we'll just grow it from here. That was the first service, we may only have 25 or 30 this Sunday, I just don't know" Rice said. "The Chattahoochee Baptist Association has been praying for years to start a ministry like what I do, down here in Gainesville. Just reaching people that wouldn't normally go to church."

And the church won't just meet on Sundays, there are plans for Bible study in local apartment complexes along with a Wednesday morning service at the CBA headquarters.

"There are a lot of apartment complexes here in Gainesville, and we're going to be starting Bible studies in those complexes and then everyone come on Sunday together," he said. "Our mission is to mission all during the week, not just on Sunday.

"We are having a traditional Southern Baptist service at 9 a.m. on Sunday and then what we're having is the Good Samaritan Baptist Church ‘Unleashed' at 11 a.m. That will be more like I'm used to with the rock ‘n' roll music with the words changed.".

Currently Rice is looking for Christian musicians for the classic rock band during services at Good Samaritan.

Rice moved to Dahlonega with his wife, Judy, and son five years ago. Rice was born in Compton, Calif., in 1950 and saw hard times as problems began with drugs, alcohol and violence and an eventual prison sentence, he said in a 2007 interview.

In 1985, he became a Christian. He was ordained in 1992 by Set Free Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, Calif. Soon after, Rice was sent to Washington to begin new Set Free churches.

The outreach ministry to bikers and reaching the unchurched and unreachable is Rice's main emphasis as a self-proclaimed former "outlaw."

"My background is out of that environment," Rice said. "And it has always been on my heart to reach the unreachable, and outlaws are pretty much as close to unreachable that you can get."

He even has a bike shop in the works at his own home so local bikers can work on their bikes in a Christian environment.

"We are very excited (as well as) the people he is beginning to meet with," said Mike Taylor, a church start strategist with the CBA and pastor at West Side Baptist Church. "We are excited about Kenny working with a group of people that feel like they don't fit in a traditional church. He's gonna reach a group of people that aren't going to wear a coat and tie.

"They will have access to hope and coming to know the Lord."

I don’t know for sure if I’m going to heaven

Pastor Breaks Islam Code for Christians
Thu, Feb. 25, 2010 Posted: 06:19 PM EDT

A megachurch pastor who understands Islamic theology said the majority of Christians would agree for the most part with the five core beliefs of Islam.

J.D. Greear, who holds a Ph.D. in Christian and Islamic theology, told Debbie Chavez of the eponymously named Christian internet talk show that the five core beliefs of Islam is a good conversation starter when talking with Muslims.

“That is a real key in learning to dialogue with Muslims is starting with the things that we share in common,” Greear, who is senior pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., said on the radio show last week to promote his new book, Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim.

The five core beliefs of Islam are: there is only one God; God revealed His will to mankind through a series of prophets; God ‘s revelations are recorded in holy books; angels exist; and there is an afterlife.

Greear, who had lived in a predominantly Muslim country in Southeast Asia for two years, said Muslims believe God revealed His will to mankind through a series of 25 major prophets, 24 of which Christians would recognize.

Muslims are taught, for example, that the first prophet is Adam, the 23rd is John the Baptist, and the 24th is Jesus. The major difference is they believe the 25th and last prophet is Muhammad, who brings together the messages of all 24 previous prophets.

Regarding the Islamic holy books, most Christians only know about the Quran. But Muslims also believe God’s revelation is recorded in other holy books, including the Suhuf Ibrahim, scrolls of Abraham; the Tawrat, the writings of Moses or Torah; the Zabur, writings of David or Psalms; and the Injil, or the Gospel.

“In fact, one of the verses in the Quran, in Surah (chapter) 10, says to Muslims that if you have questions about the previous prophets ask the Christians who have read these things before you,” Greear explained. “It actually points Muslims to Christians because all the Muslims get is little bits and pieces of the story of the previous 24 prophets.”

The pastor and church planter said he would cite the verse in the Quran that tells Muslims that they should ask him, a Christian, if they wanted to hear the full story of Moses. Then he would sit together with an interested Muslim and read together the story of Moses in the Bible.

Statistics show that over a third of all non-Christians in the world are Muslims, but only .05 percent of Christian evangelists in the world focus on Muslims. The area in the world with the most non-Christians is in the 10/40 Window – from 10 degrees to 40 degrees north of the equator, which includes the Middle East and extends from West Africa to East Asia.

But the Bible, Greear pointed out, says that before Jesus’ return “every nation, tribe, people and language” will come to God. Looking at the history of the Roman Empire and communism, which both opposed Christianity, Greear believes God will next move in Islamic countries.

“Islam is the one great stronghold that we've never really seen a massive breakthrough of the Gospel really ever take place,” he noted. And that is why Greear wrote Breaking the Islam Code, because he believes that the next movement of God will be among Muslims.

Though Greear readily acknowledges similarity between Islam and Christianity and that it is a good conversation starter, he is also quick to point out the differences between the two religions.

Muslims believe Jesus is only a prophet, not the son of God, and that he did not die on the cross. They also believe Muhammad is the prophet of God and that Muslims are saved by their good works that earn them favor with Allah.

Greear, while talking about the five practices of Muslims, highlighted their prayer and how it is connected to Islam’s merit system. Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day facing Mecca. They do not pray spontaneously from their hearts, but repeat verses from the Quran after going through a washing ritual.

Muslims earn credit towards entering heaven by keeping their prayer standard, so they have to do them or make it up if they miss the prayer because it reduces their chances of getting into heaven. If a Muslim prays in a mosque it is worth 25 times more than if they pray at home. If they pray in Mecca, it is worth 50,000 times more than if they prayed at home.

But despite Muslims’ hard work to enter heaven, there is no guarantee they will.

“This is probably the saddest things about Islam, because nobody knows for sure,” Greear said. “[I]n the Hadith (the collection of Muhammad’s sayings) you find out that Muhammad said, ‘I don’t know for sure if I’m going to heaven.’"

“It’s sort of classic religion, if you do more good works than bad works then it increases your chances of getting into heaven,” Greear noted. “But nobody knows for sure.”

Greear, who has led Muslims to Christ, said one of the best ways to share the Gospel with them is simply by being their friend and letting them see the Christian community. Muslims consistently say that one of the key factors that made them accept Christ is seeing the love that exists in a true Christian church.

“It is a love that they have never known,” Greear said. “Let them just see the community and brotherhood.”

The Durham pastor also recommends allowing Muslims to read the Bible.

“It is like what Martin Luther said, the Bible is like a caged lion,” he said. “If a caged lion is attacked, rather than defending it, just unleash it. Let the Bible do its own work. The main goal talking with a Muslim is not to convince them that Christianity is true, but to invite them to read the Bible because when they do that the Bible will do its own work.”

The Muslim expert said one of the biggest objections Muslims have about Christianity is the trinity. They believe Christians are polytheists because the Quran teaches them that Christians believe God the father had sex with God the mother and gave birth to Jesus and that constitutes the trinity. Greear said Christians should just plainly state that they only believe in one God despite what Muslims think.

The former church planter in Southeast Asia said, like many other missionaries, that many Muslims are coming to Christ through dreams and visions. In their dreams, some Muslims say they see a person dressed in white handing them a book. After repeatedly receiving these dreams, these Muslims would look for Christians to ask them to interpret their dreams.

“God can send these dreams, but there must be messengers on the ground who can share the Gospel,” Greear stated. “That is the way that God has limited Himself, if I can say it like that. The Gospel has to move forward by people preaching the Gospel.

“So yes, God will do His part, but we have to do our part by being there and witnessing,” he said.

Michelle A. Vu
Christian Post Reporter

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This is a good and a timely step for them

Hillsong's Darlene Zschech Leaves After 25 Years of Service
Thu, Oct. 28, 2010 Posted: 06:17 PM EDT

After serving at Hillsong Church for 25 years alongside Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston, renowned worship leader Darlene Zschech will be leaving the megachurch to assume a senior pastor role at a nearby Pentecostal church.

She will be leading Church Unlimited, near Syndey, with her husband, Mark, beginning in January 2011.

“We are incredibly honored and VERY excited to be heading into this great opportunity to serve the people of the Central Coast and everyone at Church Unlimited. We are entering into what we believe will be a wonderful and fruitful season ahead,” Mark Zschech said in a statement earlier this week.

“We really feel like God's called us to the central coast and to really have an impact there. And really the two words that are on our hearts are to lead and to build. We're going to build a church for everybody.”

Church Unlimited began searching for senior leaders several months ago, in conjunction with Australian Christian Churches (ACC) State and National leadership.

“Our aim was to find God’s choice, those who would lead us into the incredible destiny God has for our house,” the church stated. “God is faithful!”

Hillsong pastor Brian Houston expressed good wishes for the Zschechs.

“I feel good about it ... and our church leaders and elders feel good about it because Mark and Darlene have really sown into our church for a long, long time,” he said in a message to his mega-congregation, which is also part of the ACC denomination, formerly Assemblies of God.

“The Zschech family have been an integral part of our church family and whilst they will be greatly missed, we feel as though this is a good and a timely step for them.”

The Zschechs will still be involved in various Hillsong praise and worship projects, including an upcoming live album as well as Hillsong conferences.

Mark highlighted, "Whilst Darlene will remain very much in her various roles in worship ministry and myself in mission and media endeavors in the developing world, we have always been local church people."

They will begin in their new role as senior pastors at Church Unlimited on Jan. 23.

Felicia Howard
Christian Post Correspondent

Monday, November 1, 2010

Alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine

Study: Alcohol more lethal than heroin, cocaine
Monday November 1, 2010 MYT 8:56:00 AM

LONDON: Alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, according to a new study.

British experts evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole.

Researchers analysed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services, and prison.

Heroin, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, or crystal meth, were the most lethal to individuals.

When considering their wider social effects, alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were the deadliest.

But overall, alcohol outranked all other substances, followed by heroin and crack cocaine. Marijuana, ecstasy and LSD scored far lower.

The study was paid for by Britain's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and was published online Monday in the medical journal, Lancet.

Experts said alcohol scored so high because it is so widely used and has devastating consequences not only for drinkers, but for those around them.

"Just think about what happens (with alcohol) at every football game," said Wim van den Brink, a professor of psychiatry and addiction at the University of Amsterdam. He was not linked to the study and co-authored a commentary in the Lancet.

When drunk in excess, alcohol damages nearly all organ systems. It is also connected to higher death rates and is involved in a greater percentage of crime than most other drugs, including heroin.

But experts said it would be impractical and incorrect to outlaw alcohol.

"We cannot return to the days of prohibition," said Leslie King, an adviser to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and one of the study's authors. "Alcohol is too embedded in our culture and it won't go away."

King said countries should target problem drinkers, not the vast majority of people who indulge in a drink or two. He said governments should consider more education programs and raising the price of alcohol so it isn't as widely available.

Experts said the study should prompt countries to reconsider how they classify drugs.

For example, last year in Britain, the government increased its penalties for the possession of marijuana. One of its senior advisers, David Nutt - the lead author on the Lancet study - was fired after he criticised the British decision.

"What governments decide is illegal is not always based on science," said van den Brink.

He said considerations about revenue and taxation, like those garnered from the alcohol and tobacco industries, may influence decisions about which substances to regulate or outlaw.

"Drugs that are legal cause at least as much damage, if not more, than drugs that are illicit," he said. - AP