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In my opinion, it has been a long time coming for Baptists, a predominant denomination in America, to stand up for some social issued and begin to bring about change. Many of the issues discussed at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration are aspects of life that many churches apparently view as “too impolite” to discuss amongst themselves.
Whatever your opinion of former President Jimmy Carter and former President Bill Clinton, points they made in their addresses to the NBC attendees need to be echoed in churches across the nation and around the world. As yet another democrat (Barack Obama) said, “We don’t have to agree on everything to come together to bring about change.”
No matter what our differences, Christians can respond to criticism and need with love. 
No matter what our differences, Christians can be unified to end social injustices.
The person caught in sex trade, extreme poverty, repeat incarceration and in need of help do not care if you are a Conservative Baptist, Moderate Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Catholic or Church of Christ – they just need help. What we should care about is when we help; they see Christ’s love for them.

A friend of mine sent a link to an Ethics Daily article on a new program at a Baptist seminary if Fort Worth. I honestly thought it was some kind of joke. What got me wasn’t so much the fact that they have this program, but Paige Patterson’s comments about it and why.

Completely unbelievable. More on BaptistBlog (he’s mentioned in the article).

The name Mohammed is set to become Britain’s most popular boy name by the end of 2008 according to news sources. Just so you know, through the limited research I did online, Mohammed doesn’t even appear in the top 20 for boy names in the USA.

Eleven of the top 20 names for baby boys born in the USA come from Biblical characters: Jacob, Michael, Joshua, Matthew, Daniel, Andrew, Joseph, David, Noah, James and John.

The rise in the Mohammed’s popularity is due to the continued growth of the Islam. Britain apparently has a large and growing Muslim population. With this growth, are evangelical Christians “losing the battle of witnessing” to the Islamic religion?

A major contributor to the rise of Islam is the way many Muslims live out their faith in the midst of and in spite of society.

Researchers have compared the new portrait of mosques with a similar study in 1994. Some key findings:

• The number of mosques has increased 25%, from 962 in 1994 to 1,209 in 2000.

• Average mosque attendance at Friday prayers has nearly doubled, up 94% from 150 to 292.

• Most have an ethnic diversity unmatched in Christian and Jewish congregations, with 90% of mosques reporting a mix of South Asian, African-American, Arab and other groups born in the USA and abroad worshiping together.

• There may be more than 6 million Muslims in America today, researchers calculate, based on 2 million people who are formally affiliated with mosques, up from 500,000. They attribute the growth primarily to immigration.

But the most newsworthy finding is the determination of Muslims to make mosques “the platform for full participation in American life,” says Ihsan Bagby, co-chairman of the research committee. “The Muslim community is maturing and coming into its own.”

“Mosques today are not only centers for spirituality, they are also bases for political and social mobilization, focal points for Muslim life in a way they may not have been in more traditional Islamic societies,” says Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of the study sponsors with Hartford, the Islamic Society of North America and the Muslim American Society.

“Muslims believe that by involvement with the larger society, they can do service to America,” Awad says, citing last year, when mosques conducted their biggest and most visible voter registration drive.

The above information came from an older survey posted on Islam for Today.


This is something Christians could learn from Muslims. God calls us to be in but not of the world. Many times Christians aren’t “in” the world enough setting an example in environmental stewardship, financial stewardship and flat out good examples. Are all Christians good examples, no. I’m not, yet I strive to be.

I deserve a raise. I deserve to have a good job. I deserve to have a good family. I deserve to speed ahead and swerve back into traffic right before the lane ends. I don’t deserve the results of my bad decisions.

We as humans feel that we are entitled to benefits because of who we are. The thing is, as sinners there is only one thing that we deserve.

Feeling entitled can manifest itself when bad things happen to us. When they do, have you ever asked, “Why did this happen to me?” or said, “I don’t deserve this.”? Often God is thrown into this line of questioning. “Why did God let this happen to me?” What’s terrible is that the typical religious or non-religious answer is, “That’s just God’s will.”

While on the surface it provides a sense of comfort that God is in control, and God always is. By carelessly blaming God for an incident isn’t accurate and can ascribe false attributes to God. One of my favorite books, The Will of God, addresses this and how the term, “the Will of God” is thrown around carelessly.

An example of what I’m talking about….*(in the part below, this example is carried out)

When a young child dies of cancer and in comforting the parents, they are told, “it must have been God’s Will” – what does that tell the parents? Does it say that God killed their child? It is inside God’s Will only that God set the laws of nature and physics in motion but God did not cause that child to die. Man’s sin caused that child to die. Not the sin of their parents, but the natural sin of mankind. Cancer didn’t exist in God’s intended world. Sin was brought about by Adam and Eve. Yes, God allowed it.

Therefore, Dr. Weatherhead in The Will of God, suggests three “Wills of God.”

  1. The Intended Will of God – this is what God intends. God created man to commune with Him. Some choose not to. God intended Jesus to come to earth and be accepted.

*Children aren’t supposed to die; disease isn’t supposed to exist.

  1. The Circumstantial Will of God – this is God’s will inside the sinful earth. This is God allows us to make choices. Acceptance of Jesus without a choice isn’t acceptance. Since there is sin, this is what will happen. Jesus came to earth and was crucified.

*Disease was introduced after the fall of man

  1. The Ultimate Will of God – this cannot be thwarted. God’s purpose for Jesus on earth was to provide atonement for sins so we could go to Heaven. That happened.

*We have the opportunity to commune and live with God.

Tonight is the first time, since the birth of our son over 8 months ago, that we are without him in our house. We leave for a short vacation tomorrow morning and he went to his grandparents a little early so we don’t have to wake him at 0500. It’s a little strange not having him around. Frankly, I miss him already. The true test will come tomorrow night as we are out of the state and hours away from him. I’ve traveled with work since his birth, but my wife hasn’t. We’ll see how this goes tomorrow.
Through this I can’t help but think of how our Heavenly Father longs for contact with us – constant contact – prayer without ceasing.

One aspect of my personality that I need to work on is my self-restraint. At times, I just go on out there and say things I shouldn’t; do things I shouldn’t. Not really out of anger, but out of frustration. I can handle anger; but frustration – not being able to fix/correct something – really, well, frustrates me.

As we have just “celebrated” Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and anticipate Easter, self-restraint tops my mind every year. The self-restraint it took Jesus, both God and man, to not simply command the mockery, the torture, the pain to end is amazing. This act is the most powerful expression of love.

I continued reading The Jesus I Never Knew by Phillip Yancey this morning I looked at my son who was eating from his bottle and looking up at me. “I have marveled at, and sometimes openly questioned, the self-restraint God has shown throughout history, allowing the Genghis Khans and the Hitlers and the Stalins to have their way. But nothing – nothing – compares to the self-restraint shown that dark Friday in Jerusalem. With every lash of the whip, every fibrous crunch of fist against flesh, Jesus must have mentally replayed the Temptation in the wilderness and in Gethsemane. Legions of angels awaited his command. One word, and the ordeal would end.”  For me as a father to not stop the torture of my son – unimaginable. As much as I care for and love other people – no one would get away with torturing my son even with my limited power and even if it meant others would die in his place.

Imagine going through Good Friday and Saturday without knowing what happened on Easter morning. We read the story in light of the outcome – not as how people lived it. Your friend, your Lord, mocked, tortured, crucified, dead. Your thoughts, your actions, your life would be impacted on a greater scale not knowing that you will see Him again on Sunday morning.

Saturday I went on a local mission emphasis, Hands of Christ, with my church and had a great time. It was the first time I went with this group, but it won’t be the last. (By local I mean, it’s actually in the city in which I live, but a part of the city I never knew existed.) This group goes to people’s houses and does construction for those who are unable to do the work or pay for the work to be done. Hands of Christ secured the building permit and arranged for trash pick up with the city.

Hands of Christ doesn’t just go clean up and paint. This weekend we started reconstructing the house’s foundation and building a wheelchair ramp for one of the residents to be able to come and go.

While talking with the family, their appreciation was beyond words. During this time, the power of the name, Hands of Christ, actually hit me.

Below are a few pictures from our efforts.

 

under_foundation1.JPGbuilding_ramp2.JPGfoundation1.JPGfilling_bobcat1.JPG