Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brigada Today

One of my oldest Internet activities is reading Brigada Today. It has changed a little over the years but not much. It is still an e-mail list. (No RSS feeds here baby! I hope it stays that way.) It is still interesting. Doug who runs/assembles/distributes this simple newsletter is still figuring out how to say interesting things. You might consider signing up. They say they don't want us to forward their newsletter but posting on my blog I don't think counts.

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2008/04/11 -- Brigada Today
Compiled by Doug Lucas, Team Expansion, Louisville, KY
(See your subscription information at the end under "Closing Stuff.")
Click to http://www.brigada. org to read this issue & more on the web.
Click to http://www.brigada. org/brigade to give feedback on items.
---
In this issue...
1) OPEN LETTER TO BIBLE COLLEGES RE: ONLINE EVANGELISM
2) NEW DVD FOR OUTREACH TO ATHLETES
3) GET STRATEGY COORDINATOR TRAINING
4) THE UNENGAGED PEOPLES OF NAMIBIA
5) CHINA: UNREST RAISES FEARS OF EXECUTION OF CHRISTIAN
6) FIND WHAT YOU NEED AND SHARE WHAT YOU'VE FOUND
7) THE STATE OF THE GOSPEL DVD
8) RESOURCES FOR CHRISTIANS LIVING INTERCULTURALLY
9) THANKS FOR THOSE WHO HOLD BRIGADA'S ROPES
10) BECOME A STRATEGIC PARTNER WITH BRIGADA
11) THE BACKPAGE: WHO SAID VOLUNTEERISM IS DEAD?
12) CLOSING STUFF
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1) OPEN LETTER TO BIBLE COLLEGES RE: ONLINE EVANGELISM -- Internet
Evangelism Day would love to see more bible colleges teaching online
evangelism as a module or full course. Their Open Letter encourages
colleges to consider this:

http://ied.gospelco m.net/bible- college.php (Thanks Tony!)

____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
2) NEW DVD FOR OUTREACH TO ATHLETES -- Athletes in Action, the sports
ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ, has just released their newest
evangelistic DVD, "Struggle and Triumph," which has been designed for
use by individuals, churches, para-church ministries, and missionaries
around the world for outreach. This 26 minute film features the stories
and testimonies of 6 int'l Olympic athletes and comes in 36 languages on
a single DVD. To view a trailer of the film as well as to read the
stories of these athletes, browse to:

http://www.struggle andtriumph. com/

or call 1-888-244-9159 / 1-937-352-1000. As AIA's heart is to help
resource the body with this film leading up to the Summer Olympics in
Beijing (8/8/08), they would like to extend to a special ministry price
of $2 per DVD for orders of 100 or more to those who are interested in
using for outreach and distribution by contacting Shawn directly.
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
3) GET STRATEGY COORDINATOR TRAINING -- It's not too late to register
for a 4-week Strategy Coordinator Training in Singapore from 1-25 July,
brought to you by Asia Pacific Mission (APM) together with Singapore
Centre for Evangelism and Missions (SCEM). The cost is US$600 per single
person or married couple. Accommodations can be arranged on request.
This year, all SC trainees will be registered for the Go4th National
Missions Conference. The course deals with People Group Research,
Network, Outreach, Platform, and Church-Planting Movement (CPM)
Development and writing a Master Plan to reach an Unreached People
Group/Region/ City. Included in this training is a workshop/seminar on
Partnership Development. Furthermore, those who successfully complete
this training are awarded 10 credits from Bethany International
University (Singapore). For more info: Contact Frank
strategycoordinator

(at)gmail(dot) com with Subject: SCT '08. [As a means of preventing spam
for our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace
(at) with @ and (dot) with . then reassemble the address onto one line.]
Better act fast though. The registration deadline is 31 May.
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
4) THE UNENGAGED PEOPLES OF NAMIBIA -- There is a local association of
Baptist churches in the United States that is sending a representative
to pray and investigate the possibility of sending people and resources
on a regular basis to spread the Gospel among one or two of the
unengaged peoples of Namibia. Pray that the Lord will direct the
specific peoples and places for this association to work among. Pray
for the Nama/Damara, the Herero, the Coloured of Namibia and the
Mbalantu. To adopt one of these people groups for prayer or for more
information, visit

http://www.forgotte npeoples. info or email

forgottenpeoples

(at)telkomsa( dot)net [As a means of preventing spam for our
contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace (at)
with @ and (dot) with . then reassemble the address back onto one line.]
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
5) CHINA: UNREST RAISES FEARS OF EXECUTION OF CHRISTIAN -- The Compass
Direct News is reporting that as China deals with the fallout of
protests in Tibet and alleged protests in neighboring Xinjiang province,
the family of a Uyghur Christian fears he may be sentenced to death this
month after officials accused him of endangering national security.
Friends said a verdict is expected any time. Track this issue with
Compass Direct and don't forget to pray:

http://www.compassd irect.org

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6) FIND WHAT YOU NEED AND SHARE WHAT YOU'VE FOUND -- Need some ideas for
your next sermon, Sunday School lesson or communion meditation? Download
whatever you need at

http://www.thechris tianwarehouse. com

Have you already written some Christian material and wish that others
could have access to it? Upload your sermons, lessons, and more.
Membership is free to this brand new site. With your help they will soon
have thousands of helpful articles, devotions, sermons, lessons and much
more.
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
7) THE STATE OF THE GOSPEL DVD -- Now you can get the DVD of Operation
World author Jason Mandryk's striking presentation, "The State of the
Gospel", given at the 2006 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in
Malaysia. The DVD includes the 35-minute video of Jason's live
presentation, the audio version, his PowerPoint presentation, and the
related Momentum magazine article. Get the DVD for $2.95 plus shipping
from Global Mapping International: http://www.gmi. org/gospel Contact GMI
at

info

(at)gmi(dot) org for more information. [As a means of preventing spam for
our contributors, in the preceding email address(es), please replace
(at) with @ and (dot) with . then reassemble the address back onto one
line.]
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
8) RESOURCES FOR CHRISTIANS LIVING INTERCULTURALLY -- The Link Between:
Connecting Christians Living Between Cultures is a networking blog which
provides resources for Christians living interculturally through
marriage, adoption, career, or missions. Find hundreds of cross-
cultural resources and connections to other Christians living 'between
cultures'. Jody, the author, is also looking to build connections with
others in similar situations. Contact her to share your resources
through her blog at

http://thelinkbetwe en.wordpress. com

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9) THANKS FOR THOSE WHO HOLD BRIGADA'S ROPES -- You're willingness to
lower us into the goldmine of missions information is much appreciated!
Thanks to the friend who gave $10 from North Carolina, and another who
gave $25 from Texas. Thanks to others that have taken time to pass a
Brigada on to a friend, teammate, or missionary. You have the potential
to become our best marketing partners, simply by serving as "one beggar
telling another where to find bread." Thank you!!!
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
10) BECOME A STRATEGIC PARTNER WITH BRIGADA -- Want to become a
strategic partner? ... to undergird Brigada and its future? Just click
on the "Sponsor/Donate" page:

http://www.brigada. org/donate. html

You can choose to use PayPal or any major credit card (to do the latter,
when it asks for your PayPal account, just erase the user name and
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____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
11) THE BACKPAGE: WHO SAID VOLUNTEERISM IS DEAD? -- Not I, that's for
sure. I read with interest the item on the US Peace Corps at
Northwestern University's website:

http://news. medill.northwest ern.edu/washingt on/news.aspx? id=65843

Check it out... Stats say the first decade of the 21st century is on
track for having the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers since the
decade following JFK's original speech to the University of Michigan,
launching the whole idea. Applications struggled in the '70s and '80s,
but are now roaring in like a new tide of interest in all things cross-
cultural.

What have we, churches and mission agencies of our modern day, to say
about the fact that Peace Corps applications can, in many cases, leave
our own programs in the dust? No longer can we hide behind accusations
that "today's generation cares little for others," or "the current crop
of young people are concerned only with video games." If our numbers
aren't rising in step with the Peace Corps, perhaps it's time we take an
honest look at what we're saying... How we're recruiting. I remember
hearing that, at one point, the Peace Corps was struggling for new
prospects. They tried exotic recruiting techniques, ... "Come see the
world," etc. No dice. In desperation, they began just telling it like it
is. "This will be the hardest thing you've ever done." Call it "reality-
shock recruiting." Phone networks jammed. Some 30,000 recruits per
*month* began filling out applications.

Maybe today's new generation isn't as "me-oriented" as some would have
us believe. Maybe they've paid attention to images of "9/11", Hurricane
Katrina, and the war in Iraq. Maybe they're ready to answer the call
after all. Added to this, maybe their future employers are giving
preference to potential hires that have cross-cultural experience.

Could this next decade become the biggest decade for mission recruits
since the 1960s? How will *your* church or mission help make that
happen?

Comments about this "BackPage" editorial? Just go to:

http://brigada. org/brigade/ ?p=71

then click on "Comment" under the item. Mark it up. Talk it through.
Give your two cents. Either way, let's make it happen.

Doug
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
12) CLOSING STUFF --
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COPYRIGHT -- This issue of _Brigada Today_ is Copyrighted 2008.
However, permission is granted to freely redistribute these materials,
including those available on the Brigada website, provided that
such redistribution is to those who will help the Good News of Jesus
Christ to reach the unreached.* To copy or reproduce _Brigada Today_
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* When you quote or paraphrase material from Brigada, please include
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Brigada on the web at www.brigada. org."
____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _
2008/04/11 -- Brigada Today
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Study on Psalm 100

Psalm 100 (ESV)
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.
1Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth A
2Serve the LORD with gladness! B
Come into his presence with singing! A

3Know that the LORD, he is God! A
It is he who made us, B
and we are his; {and not we ourselves} B
we are his people, B
and the sheep of his pasture. B

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving, A
and his courts with praise! A
Give thanks to him; B
bless his name! B

5For the LORD is good; A
his steadfast love endures forever, B
and his faithfulness to all generations. B



Pattern Analysis

Hebrew poetry rhymes ideas rather than words. Sometimes scholars describe the patterns with letter. For instance, the ABB pattern means that there is the first line with an idea. The second line relates a new idea, but the third line is a repeat of the second idea, perhaps with a new perspective. Pattern analysis helps to understand the structure so that the reader can lift the meaning of the poetry out.

Big Idea
“Praise God for he is our creator.” While this idea is easy to get from the Psalm, it is not found in a normal American or Western Civilization format. Instead of leading with the main ideas, the main emphasis is in the middle of the poem where the writer tells the reader why to give thanks, that is God is the creator and he owns us.
Modern Ideas About Who Made Whom
The modernistic idea is that man needed ways in times past to explain the unexplainable. If a storm came they needed to explain why it came. So they would say that a god did it as a judgment on their sins. When a moral issue needed to be backed, ancient man could tell his fellow man that the gods required honesty and fairness. This anthropological explanation of the origins of religion reduces God to merely an Bogeyman used to control those who are controllable. Of course this view takes ancient man to be a simpleton and does not reflect the realities of evil. People sense when someone is manipulating them, but at varying degrees are people able to discern it and it depends on the skill of the person who is doing the manipulation. But to reduce everyone prior to the modern age to a simpleton may be a bit simplistic. Remember that the Old Testament prophets were accused of prophesying as merely a political means of control. Jeremiah 26 tells us that people did not merely bend to the will of the one proclaiming a message but evaluated it, sometimes misjudging it.
There is debate about how the phrase “and we are his” or if it is better understood as “and not we ourselves”. Part of the logic that we supports “and we are his” is that it is a repeat of the idea that God made us. The idea that if you make something, then you own it. This idea is true from the text no matter how you translate the second phrase. But part of the logic behind translating the second phrase as “we are his” is that it does not make sense to say “and not we ourselves”. However, we find from modern, anthropological ideas, that many people believe that we made God and that a man in a certain sense choose who he is, he can change his persona to be as he/she desires. When we use the phrase, 'he is a self-made man' we mean that we determine who we are. It apparently is not that far fetched to say that many people would think of themselves as creating themselves.

Transcendent Among All Peoples
Christianity is unique among religions because it is translated into other cultures. Christianity is no less Christianity in Ethiopia as it is in Glen Burnie, Maryland. By the way the church in Ethiopia claims its origin with the Ethiopian official who came to faith in Acts 8, so it may be a tad bit older than the churches in Glen Burnie. The worship of the one true God is transcendent above national boundaries or language barriers. This is why the psalmist says “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.” This ties into the Great Commission where Jesus tells his disciples to make disciples in all of all people groups.

Matthew 28:19: (ESV)
19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Acts 1:8: (ESV)
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Mark 16:15-17 (ESV)
15And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Luke 24:44-48 (ESV)
44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.

Transcendent Among All Generations
Not only is God transcendent among on nations, he transcends time and generations. He is not only the God of the people in Jesus' day, he is also my generation and your generation.

Public Worship
The response to God being our creator and being good is public worship. Often in our postmodern society we see religion as private, but there is a definite public nature to the praise and worship offered here in this passage.

Conclusion
God is good, he is our creator. He is worthy of our praise, let all the nations worship him. Let all generations worship him. Let us praise him in public.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Natural, Supernatural, and Providential

The Jollyblogger points to a post by Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost called Divine Demarcation: Why Christians Should Discard 'Supernatural'. For some time I have thought that the definition of a miracle commonly used, that is "something done outside the confines of laws of science"
is quite inadequate. God often uses means and controls and governs all things day in and day out. Then people place God's actions as supernatural and everything else is his grand wind up toy. That is not the picture we have in Scripture. God is guiding all things. Thanks Joe for your post.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How Do We Know Scripturally that Christ was Sinless?


A friend recently asked how do Christians know that Christ is sinless. Someone recently told this friend that Christ was fully God and fully man, so therefore Christ sinned since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Of course in this case, Jesus is the exception. Often times when we say “all” we exclude in a natural manner those not in the category, for instance no one naturally take it that this means all things in the universe sin. We don't take it that all rocks are sinful. This would be a category that would be excluded, even though a rock can be used for sinful purposes such as raw material for making an idol or it could be used as a murder weapon. In these cases, still we do not hold the rock as sinning but merely an object used for the purpose of sin. On the other end of the spectrum, we don't count the angels in heaven nor God himself as sinful. So the all excludes many things. The problem comes in since we would naturally count that the all in this since are all humans.

Since Jesus Christ is human, then should we not count him as a part of this category? Well looking at the category further, when we say that Adam was a sinner, we do not mean that he was a sinner prior to him eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Prior to that time, he was innocent. In reality, it is not the fact that someone is a sinner because he is human, but the fact that he or she is a child of Adam, the first man to sin and the one who passed sin down to all his children. Adam sinned and all those after him who were born from him are sinners. So it is slightly off to say that all humans are sinners, but it is more correct to say that all the offspring of Adam are sinners. While Jesus is human, he is not a son of Adam, but came to be in human form in a miraculous birth, pointing to whom is his true father, that is God the Father.


We can find many verses that show us the sinlessness of Jesus.

Hebrews 4:15:
15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 7:26:
26
For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

Isaiah 53:9:
9
And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

John 8:46:
46
Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

II Corinthians 5:21:
21
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I Peter 2:22:
22
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

I John 3:5:
5
You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Interfaith Dialog and Use of the Word "Cult"


The CBS Numb3rs episode which aired last Friday night, called “Atomic No. 33”*, made me start thinking about the use of the word “cult”. They used the word in Numb3rs to say that the FBI has a list of cults that they watch for violations of the law. I'm wondering if the FBI really does have such a list. If they do, should it really be called a cult list? It really does not matter if the organization claims if it is religious or not. It also does not matter if an organization is deemed by others to be religious or not. What does matter is if the group is breaking the law. However, if a law enforcement group such as the FBI does maintain a list of cults, then what is the criteria? I would suspect the criteria would be abnormal control of the members, abuse of members and/or illegal practices. What do I mean by abnormal control? I mean draconian methods of control such as pressuring members to giving up of all possession, requiring fasting and causing sleep deprivation. These are a common means of gaining control over members of a group.


For those who study ancient religions say the “cult” of Baal and do not really meant to be derogatory or that these groups were controlling or practicing something illegal at the time. Of course, the practices do not meet with my and probably my readers moral sense, but that is not the issue when an academic type is speaking of an ancient “cult”. It simply means the followers of a religion.


Sometimes in Christian contexts, the world “cult” is used to mean something entirely different than these two usages. I have used the word to mean that the group has left an essential doctrines of the faith such as the Apostles Creed, or Nicene Creed. These boil down to fairly basic points such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the doctrine of the deity of Christ, or the resurrection of Jesus. I am thinking in terms of interfaith dialog, the word “cult” may not carry the same message that I wish to convey since the other party may think I am merely insulting the group or misperceive the level of control the authorities in the church practice over the constituency. In thinking about terms that may be more descriptive, I considering the terms like “consciously embraced a creed that does not align with essentials of historic Christianity”. Wow, that is a mouth full so that probably will not work. But how do you describe the issue in such a way that gets to the point without insulting those who may think it is merely a jab at another group? Suggestions welcome in the comments.


* Note: The element in the periodic table with the atomic weight of 33 is arsenic. Arsenic was used in the church coffee pot which caused a mass poisoning.