Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Giveaway!


I Contributed to a BookIt has been quite a while since I held a giveaway, but I am hoping to bring a few back, (along with some more project posts, which I always seem to be promising). For those who are unaware, I co-authored a book on divine physical healing with my fellow missionary-evangelists of WMI. The book is part of a larger project designed to help train the body of Christ in ministering physical healing, which is headed up by the documentary Paid in Full. I am prepared to give away multiple copies of the 360 page 40-day Training Manual, simply asking that you post a review of the book in return. It is a quick read in spite of it's size and is designed for devotional reading. 

Here's how to enter:
1. Enter your first and last name in the comments section no later than Sunday July 13th
2. By entering you promise to read the book,
3. And post a 250 word review on Amazon.com
4. With a disclosure of material connection statement (example: "I received a complimentary review copy from the authors. I have given an honest review.")
For a bonus entry include the URL of your blog and promise to post a review on your blog as well. I will announce the winner on Monday July 14th. I will also contact the winner. The winner has two weeks to respond and claim their prize.






































Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Becoming Fruitful Soil (July 2014 Newsletter)

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. – Luke 8:15
In a discussion group, a friend and mentor recently asked "How does a person BECOME 4th Soil? (30-60-100)” referring to the “Parable of the Sower” in Luke 8 and Matthew 13, which speaks of a farmer who sows seed on four different kinds of soil. Only the fourth soil produces a good harvest, but it multiplies the seed that was sown into 30, 60, and 100 times what was planted. Jesus defines the seed as the Word of God (Luke 8:11). As followers of Jesus we are called and empowered to multiply the Living Word that God has planted in us. This includes making and multiplying disciples, and every gift and calling in the body of Christ.
Many who confess Christ find their fruitfulness and God’s Word stolen from their lives. These are first soil people (Luke 8:12). We must be aware that we are in a war, with a real enemy who seeks to destroy us. Others have shallow roots and do not endure trial or persecution, as the second soil (Luke 8:13). Many in our entertainment-addicted culture become unfruitful because of the concerns and pleasures of this present world. They are choked and unfruitful as the third soil (Luke 8:14). The fourth soil clings to the Word and endures, producing a harvest.
I responded to my friend from Luke 8:15 and Matthew 13:23 in a few translations, “4th soil: noble and good heart, honest, hear God's word and understand it, hold on to it, cling to it, retain it, persevere, endure, are patient. Luke 8:15 and Matthew 13:23 sound a lot like John 15:1-15 to me. Abiding in Christ, in His Love and in His Word, changes us into good soil.”
Abiding in Christ is our foremost responsibility. We are to find our rest and our roots deeply in Christ, His love, and His Word. We are to remain in Him, endure in Him, persevere in Him. We are to cling to His Word by reading and listening; we are to cling to Him in prayer. He promises, ““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5. This is the secret of fruitfulness. This is how we can change and become fourth soil. This is how we can persevere in what the Lord has done in our lives. As a full-time missionary, I know that my first and most vital responsibility is to abide deeply in Christ, to use my time and my effort to go deeper and deeper into a relationship with Jesus that fills my life with His life and overflows into the lives of others.
This month I was sharing with my Muslim friend W____, after sharing the story of Zaccheus with him from Luke 19, he asked me to pray for his kidney stones. He had been miraculously healed of a rotator cuff issue months ago. After praying for him the second time, he said the pain was gone. After he emphatically told me what happened. I warned him from Matthew 11:20-24, telling him that those who are healed but refuse to repent and believe in Jesus will face stricter judgment. I told him that he needed to think deeply about what God was doing in his life.
The next time I saw him, he told me that every time he tries to read the Bible I gave him, “Satan makes me fall asleep.” I was glad that he was acknowledging the war over his soul, and told him the story of the four soils, emphasizing how Satan steals the word from the first soil. After finishing the story I asked him a question I’ve learned to ask frequently of both unbelievers and believers, a question I ask about myself and I ask about those I work with: “What soil are you?”




Read the rest of July 2014 Newsletter.
Read previous Newsletters.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bibliotheca by Adam Lewis Greene

A friend alerted me to this astoundingly beautiful project by Lewis Greene, who it turns out is a friend of a friend. The brilliance, dedication, and pure art involved in this endeavor should make it a favorite among Bible aficionados. You can view the video below and then hop over to the Kickstarter page.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Review: Can You Be Gay and Christian? by Michael Brown

Michael Brown's newest book poses the question "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" and illuminates the Bible's clear prohibition of any kind of sex outside of heterosexual marriage, and specifically homosexual practice. Subtitled "Responding with Love & Truth to Question About Homosexuality," Brown's book is a bold, thorough, and uncompromising answer not only to the question of gay identity and practice converging with Christian belief, but also to arguments that homosexual practice is compatible with Christian faith.

This is a book primarily for Christians, for those who have bowed to Christ as their Lord and Master and seek to faithfully obey Him; however, it remains vital for all who seek to interact with the Christian Scriptures on this topic. While this is a popular treatment of the subject, it is filled with end-notes and a thorough bibliography of academic sources from across the field of study. Can You Be Gay and Christian? never becomes stuffy but draws heavily from the wide range of scholarship on homosexuality within Christianity. Dr. Brown's response to the question is exhaustive without being dense and clear without being dismissive. The book draws from gay authors and theologians and presents both the most compelling and the most horrifying arguments from those who identify as both Christian and homosexual. The question "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" must be answered within the context of Scripture and God's revealed will and Brown systematically examines the Scripture. He not only thoroughly examines the six passages that directly speak of homosexuality, but the whole scope and thrust and Scripture, and passages where gay theologians read homosexual relationships into the text. In spite of the controversy and the booming voices surrounding this question, "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" sounds a clarion call of truth and holiness, dismantling dissenting views of the Bible's clear witness against homosexual practice.

While the book is at no point unclear, there are moments when the undeniabley impressive scholarship overflows in the text. The sheer amount of quotes, and block quotes can be overwhelming, and undisciplined readers may find themselves skipping portions of text, willing to trust the author's citations. At other times, Dr. Brown seems to spend an inappropriate amount of space engaging his critics, especially in the first two chapters. Brown's first book on the topic of homosexuality was a thorough examination of homosexual activism and this book often strays into that realm, warning readers of the sheer number of voices seeking to obscure the truth on this topic. "Can You Be Gay and Christian?" is not as evangelistic as some might expect. The gospel is undeniably present, but the focus of the work is on acknowledging the truth within God's Word and obeying it without compromise. The stark reminder that regardless of our desires, no matter how strong or how integral, we must deny ourselves and follow Christ rather than affirm ourselves and reinterpret Christ should strike us all.

Dr. Brown writes more as a prophet than a pastor or even a missionary. While he expresses great compassion, he does not meet readers halfway; he does not bridge the discussion, but instead boldly launches into a call to truth and holiness. His clear teaching on the language of Scripture's prohibition of homosexual practice and the culture surrounding it, as well as his illumination of an accurate understanding of God's design and desire for human relationships leads to a strong exhortation to deny ourselves and follow Christ regardless of the cost. While some may desire a book that will simply confirm their beliefs and strengthen them against the culture onslaught of acceptance, Brown's presentation challenges readers to understand the grounds of God's demands for holiness, the purpose of God's design, and the challenges of those who are both struggling with the truth. This book is not fundamentalist blustering. It is a wealth of passionate thought regarding Scripture and homosexuality.

My thanks to Charisma House for providing a complimentary review copy. I have provided an honest review.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Good Seed on Good Soil (June 2014 Newsletter)

And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” – Luke 19:5
Jesus had a way of picking the hungry person out of the crowd. He was always looking for spiritual hunger and good soil. He was looking for those who would be honest with God and honest with themselves, confessing that they were sinners in need of a Savior. He was looking for those who would forsake all to follow Him.
When Jesus sent His disciples out, He told them to seek the lost. He taught them to preach everywhere, looking for a person of peace who would receive the message, instructing His disciples to stay in that place, sowing the word of God and bringing the kingdom to that home and community.
Some months ago I met H____, who came to the International Hope Center in Hamtramck looking for a pastor. I was there working with a mission team when H____ came in, and Andrew and I spoke to him. He was very open that though he came from a Muslim background that he needed to change his life. He was very disillusioned with Islam and its followers. I was adamant that his life could change that day if he gave his life to Jesus and made him his boss, but he wasn’t ready to make the decision that day. We exchanged phone numbers, but when I called the number he gave me, the phone was disconnected. I continued to pray for H____ and even tried his phone number again month’s later to no success.
While I was away at a conference in Florida, Andrew let me know that H____ had come back to the International Hope Center and that Andrew had shared the gospel with him and that H____ had made a decision to give his life to Jesus, agreeing that he needed to be baptized.
H____’s decision comes at significant personal risk. All of H___’s family and friends are Muslim and he is afraid of anyone finding out about his decision. He also has no background in church and very little knowledge of the Bible. He sincerely believes that he needs to be right with God and sees Jesus as the answer. In spite of his fear, he has identified two people that he believes it will be safe for him to share his faith with, and we are taking steps to see him obey Christ’s commands. I have met with H____ almost every day for weeks and we are moving forward to better know who Jesus is and how to follow Him. When we see Jesus, we fall more in love with Him and obey Him from a deeper passion and commitment.
There are many obstacles for a person like H____ and many distractions. H____ has many physical needs and problems that come with being an immigrant without a job and with limited English. While he has found brothers and sisters who are willing to help him with these needs, we always must be careful that each person’s commitment is to Christ Jesus as Lord and Master: that Christ alone is the focus.
I rejoice over every decision for Christ and all of Heaven rejoices when one sinner repents, but I know there is a soil that springs up quickly but has no root. I am looking for soil that bears fruit with perseverance that goes beyond a decision and follows through in genuine faith. My daily prayer is that Jesus would lead me to that one. In the same way that Jesus picked Zaccheus out of the crowd, I want the Spirit of God to pick out the hungry. I want to find the soil that is prepared. I want to find men and women who will forsake all and follow Christ in word and deed. I am encouraged that the Spirit drew H____ to us; I look forward to what God will do in His life. I know the best is yet to come.



Read the rest of June 2014 Newsletter.
Read previous Newsletters.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

God at Work (May 2014 Newsletter)

Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. Psalm 127:1
In the midst of hard work, busy schedules, and a longing to see a movement of disciples making disciples; God gently interrupts, reminding me that this is His work not mine. It is an easy concept to pay lip-service to, but one that often doesn’t sink into our hearts until we are at the end of our rope.
I am challenged daily by the enormity of God’s vision for my city, and daily aware of where my efforts fall short. I look back at what God has done, and I am fully aware that all of the fruit I’ve seen in ministry is the result of divine intervention. I am excited to see God at work and eager to join Him in reaching the world.
Last month I was blessed by an all-expenses paid invitation to a conference for disciple makers who were reaching out to Muslims in Austin, Texas. I was immensely blessed and edified.
One night after the conference sessions, we went to visit a Mosque in Austin to meet some Muslims and share the Good News. I was sharing with two gentleman when an older man came over and they told me that I should tell him all my questions. Usually I don't want to talk to the "experts" as they want to argue apologetics, but I felt that it was right, so I went with him, explaining that I was a Christian in a training and wanted to ask about something I had been told about the Qur'an in this class. We sat down in a small study and I shared with him; he went to get a commentary in order to look up the answer to my question. He was reading the commentary for quite some time out loud. As he was reading, I was praying. All of a sudden, I realized that I had seen all of this in a dream about a month ago. I remembered vividly the man and the room. In the dream, I shared two things with this man. I had nothing else to say, so when he wrapped up, I transitioned and said what I remembered saying in the dream: "We both agree that Jesus is alive." He said, "Yes. As a Christian, you believe Jesus is alive?"
"Yes, Jesus is alive in Heaven right now," I said.
"I agree with that," He said.
"As a follower of Jesus, who is alive right now, my message to you is that Jesus loves you," I said, looking into his eyes. He looked down, and then smiled and laughed. He said that he had a Christian friend who had just invited him to a conference called "Jesus Loves Muslims." He said the conference should be called "Muslims love Jesus." We continued to talk and he became more and more open. The second thing I remembered saying in the dream, was asking him if he had ever had a dream of Jesus. I asked, "Has anyone in your community had a dream of a Holy Man coming to them?"
He looked shocked. "Yes, Yes. It is quite possible. . . You know, many years ago I had a dream of a man in white who told me over and over again, "Say it, Say it!" I woke up and didn't know what he wanted me to say. The only thing I could think of was that I was forgetting a certain part of my prayers, so I went back and added something to my prayers. I began fervently praying that God would reveal to me what Jesus wanted him to say. In the meantime I asked him, "Could it have been Jesus in your dream?" He said, "Yes! Yes! It could have been Jesus in my dream." We talked much more and God brought up more things. He wants to talk to me again, we exchanged information. He told me, "I never tell anyone about my dream. Not even my wife knows about that." God is at work in the Muslim world, and we get to be His hands and feet.

Read the rest of the May 2014 Newsletter.
Read previous Newsletters.