Sunday, July 22, 2007

Parental Guidance Suggested

Online Dating

According to this site my blog is rated "PG." But I am told if I use the word "missionary" enough I can get a PG-13 rating...

missionary, missionary, missionary, missionary, missionary, missionary, missionary...

(Hat tip: Timmy Brister)


He was right...

Free Online Dating

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Spurgeon of Africa: Conrad Mbewe

You have got to listen to this guy preach. To do so go here and here. After listening go here for an interview with Pastor Mbewe. The following is a story from World Magazine, March 29, 2003.

Conrad Mbewe slices the air with his hands. His booming baritone soars to a frenzied pitch. "I ask, what is your attitude to authority in your home?" he says. "What is your at-ti-tude? If that's what characterizes your life, stop cheating yourself that you're a Christian." The congregation's eyes follow every jab of his finger, every sweep of his hands. They're hearing - and watching - a regular Sunday sermon from their pastor. But he also happens to be the Spurgeon of Africa.

Mr. Mbewe is the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia - a position he took 15 years ago when he gave up a career as a mining engineer. The service over, he strides down the pew aisle, wiping fingers across his brow. His face collapses in fatigue.

For one month, Mr. Mbewe preached only once a Sunday, instead of his usual two times. After three bouts of malaria and back-to-back preaching conferences in Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia early this year, he was exhausted. "What impresses me is how he manages to get things done," said church office assistant Lumpuma Chitambala. "The question should be, when does he rest?"Mr. Mbewe's doctor ordered two months of rest - which he loosely observed. "I would sneak in here - my wife was working so she couldn't police me," he said, sifting through a stack of paper at his office desk. Behind him a regal impala head dominates the wall. Just below, a framed portrait of Charles Haddon Spurgeon rests on a bookshelf, a gift from a pastor in Kansas.

Mr. Mbewe isn't sure why listeners compare him to the British "Prince of Preachers." Perhaps it is because Mr. Spurgeon too toiled to the point of collapse, ministering to a congregation of 4,000, delivering sermons 10 times a week, managing an orphanage, and running a preachers' college - all of which culminated in exhaustion and gout.Or perhaps it is because Mr. Mbewe shares Spurgeon's love for writing. Spurgeon edited and wrote for his monthly magazine, The Sword and Trowel; Mr. Mbewe has been writing two columns a week for the last 10 years in the country's Daily Chronicle newspaper. One is a sermon, while the other examines popular social questions and is tailored for the ordinary man, similar to Spurgeon's selection of parables, John Ploughman's Talk.

But where the Zambian pastor most resembles Spurgeon is in his challenge to the "mile wide and inch deep" church in Zambia. This year he declined to participate in Operation Sunrise Africa - an evangelical crusade meant to dispense gospel teaching to 50 million people in 50 cities in 50 days in southern and eastern Africa.

The cost to sponsor a city for the July and August campaign and three years of follow-up ministry is $160,000. Most of the funding has come from the United States. In Zambia, hundreds of pastors are taking part. "They were so excited about this. My question is, what are they doing that I don't already do? You can't win the world in 50 days. Every generation has to be re-evangelized.

"This outspokenness in the pulpit and on national television panel discussions has put the spotlight on Mr. Mbewe and his ministry. "People think that he's always serious - a sort of cold-blooded theologian," said Charles Bota, a 29-year friend of Mr. Mbewe. "He's warm. He's funny. He knows a lot about the world."

On a Saturday afternoon, Mr. Mbewe chugs to the church gate in his Toyota Corona, the one with the bumper sticker warning, "Don't let the car fool you - my treasure is in heaven." He's preaching to a youth group at another church. "My poor car is giving up," he says, as it stalls twice before reaching the road. Mr. Mbewe slides the stick shift into gear then rests his left hand on the wheel, poking a casual right elbow out of the window.

Inside the church, with the rare intimacy of a small youth group, Mr. Mbewe abandons the rickety wooden lectern and towers a foot away from the front row. For three weeks he has preached from Galatians. Now he fires questions at the group, then stops short as they flutter through notes and Bibles. "It's too late, I'm already complaining," he says, as one young man yells out an answer. "You know I always complain when I come here. You people don't make me feel like I'm in a youth group." His meaty, rippling laugh infects his audience.

Back at Kabwata Baptist Church, Mr. Mbewe chats with church members outside a rectangular building of church offices, school, classrooms, library, and sanctuary. None of this existed 10 years ago. In 1987 the 35-member church met in the local community hall. Now the congregation has grown to 200 members.

In that time the pastor has guided a steady treadmill of additions. Ceiling and paint were added to the sanctuary in 1997 so the congregation wasn't worshipping under naked steel roof sheets. An elementary school began in 1998. A printing press began in the garage in 2000.The growth proved to be the pastor's hardest test. Twenty members left over changes he instituted. When he arrived at Kabwata, he found a team of deacons and one elder heading the church. Within two years he created an eldership and divided the duties, which left the deacons out of some decision making. He also introduced Reformed theology.

Church members accused him of singling them out in sermons and said he was unfit to be a pastor. Dapson Mwendafilumba, a member who disagreed with Mr. Mbewe, argued in the pastor's book-lined study that Mr. Mbewe wasn't practising what he preached. "He was not being more of a caring pastor in terms of visiting when he left the pulpit," he said. "I called him an actor. I said, 'Look here, you don't seem to marry the two."' Mr. Mbewe described the period as the "worst in his ministerial life."

He used to joke, "If I coughed, people would say 'He's coughing too much,' or if I didn't cough they'd say, 'Why isn't he coughing? Isn't he human?"'

So five years into his pastorate; the congregation had to vote on whether it wanted him to stay or go. In the end, 92 percent of the congregation voted for Mr. Mbewe to stay. Mr. Mwendafilumba, who joined another church, said they are on good terms now. He maintains that Mr. Mbewe could have gone slower on the reforms. Mr. Mbewe agrees. "He is very headstrong and likes to lead, likes to push," said Mr. Bota. "He's rarely in a position where there's another guy that's better than him. He tends to get what he wants done, done."

Mr. Mbewe's wife, Felistas, recalls his patience when dealing with church members who opposed him. "You can't see my husband lose his temper," she says "If he's upset about something usually he withdraws: He was having sleepless nights, wanting to write everything that happened."

Today, Mr. Mbewe's reputation extends beyond Zambia. He has preached at Reformed and Baptist conferences in the United States, England, South Africa, and Brazil. Tom Ascol, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, first met Mr. Mbewe at a conference in South Africa in 1995. "Conrad has been gifted by God to preach to the consciences of people," he said. "He is a devoted student of Scripture and human nature, as well as a ravenous reader of theology. All of this he shares in common with Spurgeon. Also, like Spurgeon, though he is multitalented, he is first and foremost a preacher and loves to have it that way."

Even when Mr. Mbewe winds down on a Monday evening, his day off, church workers scuttle in and out of his front door. Several members of the college group slip into his study to borrow a book. "This is what it gets like at this time," he says, grinning from his living-room armchair. He doesn't know about being the 'Spurgeon of Africa'. But he does like being a pastor.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Reflection on Philippians 2:3-11

"Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

I am always acting out of rivalry and conceit. He acts out of humility. I want all the attention and admiration I think I deserve. Christ forsakes the attention he deserves so we might fix our attention on the glory of God the Father (John 17). We benefit from Christ’s humiliating death for the sake of the glory of God, his Father. Who benefits from my humiliation for the sake of God being glorified?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Wholly Yours

For about a month now I have been enjoying the music of David Crowder Band. One song has stood out among all the others. The lyrics alone are singular but the intensity of the music really makes this song one in a million.

I am full of earth
You are heaven’s worth
I am stained with dirt, prone to depravity
You are everything that is bright and clean
The antonym of me
You are divinity
But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I wanna be holy like You are

You are everything that is bright and clean
And You’re covering me with Your majesty
And the truest sign of grace was this
From wounded hands redemption fell down
Liberating man

You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy like You are

But the harder I try the more clearly can I feel
The depth of our fall and the weight of it all
And so this might could be the most impossible thing
Your grandness in me making me clean

Glory, hallelujah
Glory, glory, hallelujah
You are holy, holy, holy
All heaven cries “Holy, holy God”
You are holy, holy, holy
I want to be holy, holy God

So here I am, all of me
Finally everything
Wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly
I am wholly, wholly, wholly Yours
I am wholly Yours

I am full of earth and dirt and You

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Flame of Fire

If you have never read, Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot you really ought to order it now. You may be thinking, "Well, I saw End of the Spear, the movie about it." Trust me, the story of Jim Elliot and his passion for missions and his full-bodied effort for Christ to be glorified in all of his life is worth reading.

Here are a few qoutes:

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose."

"We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are "harmless," and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are "sideliners" -- coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!"

"Those whimpering Stateside young people will wake up on the Day of Judgment condemned to worse fates than these demon-fearing Indians, because, having a Bible, they were bored with it - while these never heard of such a thing as writing"

"'He makes His ministers a flame of fire.' Am I ignitible? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of 'other things.' Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul, a short life?"

I know no one like Jim Elliot. Therefore I long to be like him.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Stats on the Sale at Desiring God

From Abraham Piper at the desiring god blog

"In the 2-and-a-half-day sale last week, we took almost 11,000 orders and moved more than 125,000 books. To give perspective, we usually only process about a hundred web orders a day, and in 2003 we were excited to have distributed 75,000 books in the whole year.

Thanks a lot to those of you who participated! Thanks especially for your patience when the website was slow and the phones were busy.

In case you’re wondering, we were not expecting to turn a profit with this sale—we actually planned on losing money. As it turns out, we broke even—Praise God!

We are excited to see how God will use the books from this sale to glorify himself. And we are even more excited to dream up more ways we can join with you to keep spreading God-centered resources.

Enjoy all the reading and don't forget to give lots of books away!"

I ordered 10 copies of Don't Waste your Life to give away and 1 copy of A Hunger for God.