This article originally appeared in the commentary section of I think it will be of help to all Christian men and parents of boys… You can read part 1 here. Read the article below:  

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Rob Bell is the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan (not to be confused with the Mars Hill Church pastored by Mark Driscoll, in Seattle, Washington), a congregation that numbers 11,000. The Chicago Sun-Times has heralded Bell as the new Billy Graham. His books (most notably, Velvet Elvis and Sex God ) have been bestsellers, and NOOMA, a series of excellently produced videos featuring his teaching (now 19 in total) have sold over a million units…

Bell is not officially a part of “Emergent” (an organization within the emerging church), but he is closely associated with two of it’s leaders – Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt. I’d consider him a part of the theologically liberal stream within the emerging church (as would many others). 

The emerging church is big on orthopraxy (living rightly), and honestly, we should all be big on this! In Bell’s opinion (and I think he’s right about this), Christians too often fail to live out their faith as they should… He uses the analogy of a trampoline, equating Christian doctrines with springs. He makes the point that often we spend all our time focussing on the springs, rather than getting on with jumping (living out the Christian life). As I said, I think this is all too often true. I have major concerns about where he takes the anaology next, however. Consider this quote from his book, Velvet Elvis: 

“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births?…

What if that spring were seriously questioned? Could a person keep on jumping? Could a person still love God? Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live? Or does the whole thing fall apart?” (Velvet Elvis, pp26-27)

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This article originally appeared in the commentary section of I think it will be of help to all Christian men and parents of boys… Read the article below:  

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Trying Something New…

April 25, 2008

Well, here goes…

Until a few months ago I hardly knew what a blog was, let alone how to insert creatively written anecdotes into one, and I wasn’t very interested in finding out!  But things and times change, don’t they?  Sometimes we would prefer for them not to, but it happens in spite of us.  When it comes to writing notes in a blog I must remind myself of what is important.  Jesus Christ.  It’s not about me, it’s about reaching people for Jesus Christ and encouraging one another through time, and the changes that time brings with it.  There is one (and only one) thing that does not change…, “For I, the Lord, do not change…” (Malachi 3:6), and therefore our hope that He has provided does not change.  His Word remains truth.  We may use new songs, new instruments, or new preaching styles to worship, evangelize, and learn by, but the message remains the same.  Jesus Christ.  And I must ask myself:  Am I being as effective as I can be in delivering that message to those around me?  I cannot remain stagnant and be effective.  I need to observe who and what is happening around me and find the best way to deliver that timeless gospel message.  The gospel is greater than the means by which it is delivered (Phil. 1:15-18).  Should we be sure that the means resides in alliance with scripture?  In as much as we can, by all means! *pun intended*  We all have oppinions on what is the ‘right’ way to do things in the church and there was a time when many of the ‘good ole’ hymns’ that we know and love would have been considered by many to be straight from the mind of Satan simply because of the chords used in the music, or because they were being played on a piano instead of an organ.  Is the piano any less holy than an organ?  Is a guitar or drum set any less holy than…what will the next new thing be?  The question really becomes, how effective can we become in sharing Jesus Christ.  We must understand that means change with time, like it or not, but the message does not.  Therefore I blog.  Therefore you…

In Christ’s Love, Joe

If you know anything of the current state of affairs in South Africa, you probably won’t be surprized that pretty much every South African who can leave does leave… In the course of 1 year, 2 people in my sister’s church of less than 150 people were held up at gunpoint (and one of them was pistol-whipped and shot in the leg). Towards the end of last year, would-be hijackers pointed a gun at my mom’s face and pulled the trigger. By God’s grace, the gun jammed. Her attacker pistol-whipped her, but incredibly she came out of the ordeal with only minor cuts and bruises and a headache (see my post “If the Lord wills…” ).

Katie Gurzi, a retired missionary and American citizen, moves back to South Africa this week in order to continue ministering to the Zulu people, particularly dozens and dozens who are dying of Aids… She knows the dangers, but she’s returning anyway… The article below is not written by her, but it expresses well the sort of biblical perspective that motivates such seemingly crazy decisions…

(This article was written by Michelle Cantrell. She and her husband Tim are missionaries to South Africa whom I’ve been blessed to fellowship with a number of times… Click here for their church’s website)


“Why I Would Die for South Africa”

South Africa has the best rugby this side of the world, the famous Big Five, fabulous weather, beautiful cities and friendly people. But it also has its darker side. It is dangerous to live in South Africa. Crime is rampant. We have the most liberal constitution in the world. We live in fear of an economic collapse like Zimbabwe’s. We see all the benefits of this country– including family ties and a rich history, but are they enough to keep us here? Why risk the safety of our family? Why gamble with the future university choices and career options of our children? Why stay?

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Hi friends!
So it feels like we’ve been here for forever already and a thousand things have happened. God is definitely moving and it is clear that we are meant to be here with these kids. 
We’re in an apartment in Sumy! Looking out our window, you can clearly see where we are – big communist flats all around. haha It’s very Ukraine. Its 3 bedrooms and a livingroom-ish place and we have it for 6 months technically. We love the apartment – it’s a little… um, shall we say old, but it’s good. There’s a soccer field and basketball court right behind our building which is wonderful for the kids! We like the owners and they like us so that is definitely a plus. The only problem is we’ve kinda got a crazy neighbor next door to us. Crazy as in… dirty cop who is an alcoholic who came to our door drunk around midnight a week or so ago and was causing some problems for us. We’ve talked to our landlord about it and they said they were gonna take care of it. But we’re praying for wisdom as to whether or not we should stay at this apartment. We will likely have drunk neighbors anywhere we go in this county… we’re just trying to weigh things out and figure out what is the smartest thing for us to do and what is safe. Please keep us in your prayers for this and we’re going to be talking and praying about our decision this week.
And while you’re praying for that, pray for this… There’s a kid we’ve been working with named Ivan Erimenko. He’s18 years old and he’s got 2 younger brothers we work with too. Ivan came to see us for the first time sinc we’ve been here about… 2 weeks ago. His right arm was obviously broken. To the point where the bone in his wrist was all but poking out of his skin. He broke it on the 1st of April and we took him to the doctor once he got to us and that was the 9th I think. The hospital we went to was… well, looked like we were in 1940. Seriouly. And the doctor sucked. They had to re-break his arm to set it – twice because they didn’t set it right the first time. They didn’t finish the cast they put on him and it is all but disinigrated at this point [sorry I have no idea how to spell that]. It was awful. We took him to a different hospital on Friday and they x-rayed him again. His arm has been healing incorrectly now for 3 weeks. Not only are his bones really off but there are now calcium deposits growing on his bones. The doctor in Sumy said he would re-break it a 3rd time and hope it works this time… but on top of his arm, Ivan has a heart condition. All the doctors have ever told him is that he has a weak heart. So to re-break his arm, they won’t be able to give him pain medication. So all of this news and the unsure-ness of the doctors has inspired us to take a trip to Kyiv. We’re leaving tomorrow, Tuesday, morning at 9:40 and we’ll be there till Friday most likely. Our goal is to get his heart checked out by a good cardiologist and get a diagnosis on that other than “weak.” Once that is figured out, we’ll get his arm looked at by a good doctor and he will likely need to have surgery.
So that was a long paragraph… here are the main prayer requests. Ivan is really nervous – pray for him to trust the doctors and us. Pray for us to be able to work out everything with the translator we are meeting up with there and that she will be able to understand the situation and help us find the best places to go to help him. Pray for wisdom for the doctors with both his heart and his arm. Also, this trip is going to cost us money… $100 a night to stay in this church/hotel – boo. And paying a translator there. And about $100 for our bus tickets. And hospital bills – which will be expensive if we take him to a good doctor at a private practice in Kyiv. If you want to contribute to this whole thing and helping get Ivan taken care of, please let me know! You can send checks with Ivan hospital in the memo line. And please, please just pray a lot! Your prayers and so essential to helping us in this ministry!
Um… I feel like my English is struggling right now… too much Russian/Ukrainian lately. And I’m tired. And it’s really hot in this room. And I haven’t actually typed much in 2 weeks. So sorry guys! [: I’d love to hear from you about what’s going on in the good ol US of A and in all your lives… feel free to shoot me an email!  Thank you for all your love and support!

PS. Also pray a lot about our kids coming to the Easter service with us next Sunday! I forgot to mention that… Easter is the 27th of April here this year – it’s Ukraine… they do everything weird and they follow the Orthodox calander. But a lot of kids have said they’re gonna come to church with us. Pray that God would speak His truth so clearly in the church we’ll be going to and that we would be able to communicate the message of the cross and ressurection of Christ to the kids! Thanks guys!
For other posts on this ministry, click here.
For their myspace page, click here.  

“Prince Caspian” opens on May 16th. It is the second movie based on CS Lewis’s seven classic books that make up“The Chronicles of Narnia” . View the official trailer below:


This is the trailer for the first Narnia movie, “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” :

This is another book I want to read soon… It’s by Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. I consider him one of the most sharp and insightful, biblically-centered theologians of our day, and a very helpful voice on how to communicate biblical truth in a postmodern age…

This is what he has to say about why he wrote this book:

“I’ve been working for some time on a book for the ordinary (which means very sharp) spiritually skeptical New Yorker. Ever since I got to New York nearly two decades ago I’ve wished I had a volume to give people that not only answered objections to Christianity (what has been called ‘apologetics’) but also positively presented the basics of the gospel in an accessible yet substantial way. I had some books that did the one and some that did the other, but only one did both—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. As you know, I think Lewis’ book is peerless, and foolish would be the author who tried to replace him!

However, the issues in the public discourse around Christianity have become much more complex than they were in the mid and late 20th century. The questions are now not just philosophical (e.g. Is there evidence for God’s existence?) They are also now cultural (Doesn’t strong faith make a multicultural society impossible?), political (Doesn’t orthodox religion undermine freedom?) and personal. Also fifty years ago, when C.S. Lewis was writing, there was general agreement that rational argument and empirical method were the best ways to discover truth. That consensus has vanished. Today there are deep disagreements over how we know things and how certain we can be about anything. Most of the older books presenting Christianity now are only persuasive and even comprehensible to a very narrow range of people.

All this means that there is a great need for new literature that speaks to our time and says, “Christianity makes sense.””

This video sums up how Keller has tried to achieve that goal in this book:

For more information about this book, click here.

For Tim Challies’ review of this book, click here.


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 
– 2 Corinthians 5:17
When I try to explain to people what kind of person I used to be, it is usually received with shock and awe that the person standing before them really could have been “THAT” bad. But that’s what makes God’s grace so amazing! He can take the worst of sinners and turn their life around in such a dramatic way, a way that is so inhumanly possible,  that only God can get the glory for it!  Read the rest of this entry »

The Open Arms girls need a new place to stay ASAP… Please be praying for a place that will meet their ministry needs, be safe, and be available right away.


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