Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A response to Da Vinci Code

The Last Supper - picture of Leonardo Da Vinci

By Roger Cotton

The Da Vinci Code claims to be only a novel and as such I found it to be very engaging. It fabricates a very recent search for the Holy Grail, which it proposes is really secret documents showing that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and produced a royal bloodline. The use of a narrator, who comments philosophically and theologically on life, religion, and the church — using exaggerated language — causes those assertions within the novel to sound like truths we should consider — hidden truths we need to recover to free ourselves from the lies of the church. That interests people and sells books.

However, a leading New Testament scholar, Ben Witherington III, in his book The Gospel Code, (InterVarsity, 2004), responding to The Da Vinci Code, said: “It can be quite entertaining but also misleading. We need to treat this book as what it really is—not historical fiction but almost entirely fiction, at least when it comes to its assumptions and assertions about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and early Christianity” (p. 27).

I would like to clarify both the major mistakes in relation to church history and the Bible, and as well, the key points of our Christian faith from the Scriptures which are opposed by the ideas of this book. I am indebted to Witherington’s excellent research into the facts.

The first major fiction asserted in the book is that there are many other documents equal to or better than our four Gospels, which the church has suppressed, and which would exalt the “sacred feminine” and teach that Jesus was only human and not divine. The truth is that all other such documents (around 20, not 80) are clearly written after the writing of the New Testament. They are by groups outside the mainstream of the Early Church. The Dead Sea Scrolls are Jewish and say nothing about Jesus. The Gnostic Gospels that Brown often refers to actually teach that the material world is evil, including sex, and that men should be in authority over women. These ideas are contrary to what Brown’s book teaches and yet he claims these documents support his ideas that are in opposition to the Bible. Brown says these documents clearly state that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, but Witherington shows that he misquotes these documents. Furthermore, they were never on any one’s list of inspired, authoritative, Scriptures.

A second major area of fiction is that Constantine and the church council of Nicea brought in the new, unbiblical, teaching that Christ is divine and voted out the truth of His humanity and marriage to Mary Magdalene and eliminated the books that taught those things. The truth is the council did not propose the beliefs stated in the creeds or the list of canonical Scriptures but formalized what the majority had believed all along. The New Testament clearly always taught that Jesus is God, John 1:1-3,18; Romans 9:5; Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 1:2,3; 1 John 5:20.

The third fiction is that the Church was threatened by the idea of Jesus having a wife and children because then He could not be divine and the Church would lose its powerful claim to be the only way to God. On the contrary, the Bible clearly claims that Jesus is the only way to God and the Church does not control the way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). On the other point, the Bible teaches that Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, is fully God and fully human so that He could have married and had children but He chose not to, in the plan of God.

Regarding the idea of the “sacred feminine” and the sacredness of sex the Bible and Christianity do not put down sex but affirm that it is very special and belongs only in marriage. However, it is not a route to spiritual fulfillment and experience of God as claimed in the book (p. 310). The whole Bible is against bringing sex into worship as the heathen have done since ancient times. The Bible clearly opposes all goddess worship. The One True God is neither male nor female but Jesus uses the term Father and teaches us to do the same. One major reason for not referring to God as mother is that, as Elizabeth Achtemeier has shown, in “Why God is not Mother” Christianity Today, August 16, 1993, it leads to the idea of God giving birth to us and thus lowering God to be one with us and with nature and raising us up to be gods.

The Da Vinci Code expresses many of the current popular ideas of our world and helps us see where the issues are for our faith. The attitudes encouraged by this book which are the most serious opposition to the truth God has revealed in the Scriptures are the following: to depersonalize God, to bring God down to our level and us up to deity—taking away from His holiness, to deny the need for a savior outside of ourselves and the need of repentance that sees ourselves as dead without Christ, to treat Jesus as only a great man, to deny that the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God, to make sex a part of worship, to take away most objective moral law, to deny that there is any absolute truth, to make our experiences the only spiritual/religious authority for our lives, and to disregard history as of any value.

The main Bible truths I think we must be clear on and affirm continually are the following: 1) God is personal, acting for our good in the world, which He created and from which He is totally distinct, and communicating openly with us in real human language, written down in the Bible, and not in hidden codes. 2) God made us, loves us, and wants to restore the personal, intimate, everlasting relationship we broke with Him through our selfish choices. He has provided the only way to Him through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, the Christ, who is fully God and fully human. He gives our lives meaning and purpose. 3) He made us to enjoy the greatest fulfillment through a life in harmony with His will, character, and values, through the Holy Spirit. This includes keeping sexual intimacy and intercourse within a life-long, exclusive, marital (male-female), relationship.

In conclusion, the best antidote is reading and meditating on the truth in the Scriptures and keeping our relationship with the Lord fresh and experiential. Here are some of the clear statements of the Scriptures that give some of the basic beliefs of the Christian faith. Matthew 16:13-20; Luke 24:36-49; John 1:1-5, 10-12, 14, 18; 3:16-18; 14:6, Acts 4:12; 10:34-43; 17:30-31; Romans 1:16-25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 17-19; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; Hebrews 1:1-3; 1 John 1:2,3, 5-2:2; 4:1-16; 5:1-5, 11-12, 18-21; Revelation 22:12-17.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Reverend Rick Warren and Obama Inauguration Day

This Pastor was invited by Barack Obama to conduct the Inauguration Day prayer.

Rick Warren

On Faith/Washington Post

The Reverend Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life” (2002), founded Saddleback Church in 1980 with one family. Today, the church has 83,000 members, of whom about 23,000 attend weekly services on its 120-acre campus in Lake Forest, Calif.

The Purpose Driven Life sold more than 30 million copies in English and became an international best-seller, translated into more than 50 languages. The “On Faith” panelist addresses priests and pastors at cross-denominational Christian training events organized through the Purpose Driven Network.

More than 700,000 church leaders in 163 countries have attended such gatherings. Warren also founded as a resource for clergy, and in 1995 authored The Purpose Driven Church, which is used as a seminary textbook. Warren advises international leaders on poverty, health, education, corruption, leadership development, and faith and ethics in culture.

He has spoken at the United Nations, the Global Health Summit, and the World Economic Forum in Davos. He originated the Global P.E.A.C.E. plan to Partner with local churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation.

He and his wife Kay donate 90% of their income to three charities: Acts of Mercy, which provides assistance to people living with HIV and AIDS; Equipping Leaders, which trains leaders in developing countries; and the Global Peace Fund, which facilitates congregations, businesses, and governments’ coordinated efforts to fight poverty, disease, and corruption.

Source: Newsweek.Washington Post


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Greetings from Michelle Obama

Message got from Michelle Obama


"This holiday season, the grassroots movement you helped build can make a big difference for those in need.

I hope you will join me in supporting your favorite charity or contributing to causes that are especially meaningful to me and my family.

While many of us will spend the holidays counting our blessings and sharing dinner with loved ones, millions of people around the country won't be so fortunate. Donating to your local food bank will help provide a holiday meal to people in your community who can't afford one.

Talking with the families of deployed troops was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during the campaign. Giving to Operation USO Care Package is a great way to send members of our military stationed around the world a reminder that someone back home is thinking of them.

This is a time to celebrate our blessings, the new year, and a new era for our country. But it's also a time to come together on behalf of those who need our help.

Do what you can to help today by locating your local food bank and giving your support:

Or send a care package to an American in uniform:

Thank you for all that you do and have a very happy holiday season,"



Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sermon: Rediscovering the lost precious values

Author: Pastor Martin Luther King

Detroit, February 28, 1954

Reverend Simmons, platform associates, members and friends of Second Baptist Church, I need not pause to say how happy I am to be here this morning, and to be a part of this worship service. It is certainly with a deal of humility that I stand in this pulpit so rich in tradition and history. Second Baptist Church, as you know, has the reputation of being one of the great churches of our nation, and it is certainly a challenge that, for me to stand here this morning, to be in the pulpit of Reverend Banks and of a people who are so great and rich in tradition.

I'm not exactly a stranger in the city of Detroit, for I have been here several times before. And I remember back in about 1944 or 1945, somewhere back in there, that I came to Second Baptist Church for the first time I think that was the year that the National Baptist Convention met here. And of course I have a lot of relatives in this city, so that Detroit is really something of a second home for me, and I don't feel too much a stranger here this morning. So it is indeed a pleasure and a privilege for me to be in this city this morning, and to be here to worship with you in the absence of your very fine and noble pastor, Dr. Banks.

I want you to think with me this morning from the subject: "Rediscovering Lost Values." "Rediscovering Lost Values." There is something wrong with our world, something fundamentally and basically wrong. I don't think we have to look too far to see that. I'm sure that most of you would agree with me in making that assertion. And when we stop to analyze the cause of our world's ills, many things come to mind.

We begin to wonder if it is due to the fact that we don't know enough. But it can't be that. Because in terms of accumulated knowledge we know more today than men have known in any period of human history. We have the facts at our disposal. We know more about mathematics, about science, about social science, and philosophy than we've ever known in any period of the world's history. So it can't be because we don't know enough.

And then we wonder if it is due to the fact that our scientific genius lags behind. That is, if we have not made enough progress scientifically. Well then, it can't be that. For our scientific progress over the past years has been amazing. Man through his scientific genius has been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains, so that today it's possible to eat breakfast in New York City and supper in London, England. Back in about 1753 it took a letter three days to go from New York City to Washington, and today you can go from here to China in less time than that. It can't be because man is stagnant in his scientific progress. Man's scientific genius has been amazing.

I think we have to look much deeper than that if we are to find the real cause of man's problems and the real cause of the world's ills today. If we are to really find it I think we will have to look in the hearts and souls of men.

The trouble isn't so much that we don't know enough, but it's as if we aren't good enough. The trouble isn't so much that our scientific genius lags behind, but our moral genius lags behind. The great problem facing modern man is that, that the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. So we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. The problem is with man himself and man's soul. We haven't learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem.

The real problem is that through our scientific genius we've made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we've failed to make of it a brotherhood. And the great danger facing us today is not so much the atomic bomb that was created by physical science. Not so much that atomic bomb that you can put in an aeroplane and drop on the heads of hundreds and thousands of people—as dangerous as that is. But the real danger confronting civilization today is that atomic bomb which lies in the hearts and souls of men, capable of exploding into the vilest of hate and into the most damaging selfishness—that's the atomic bomb that we've got to fear today. Problem is with the men. Within the heart and the souls of men. That is the real basis of our problem.

My friends, all I'm trying to say is that if we are to go forward today, we've got to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we've left behind. That's the only way that we would be able to make of our world a better world, and to make of this world what God wants it to be and the real purpose and meaning of it. The only way we can do it is to go back and rediscover some mighty precious values that we've left behind.

Our situation in the world today reminds me of a very popular situation that took place in the life of Jesus. It was read in the Scripture for the morning, found over in the second chapter of Luke's gospel. The story is very familiar, very popular; we all know it. You remember when Jesus was about twelve years old, there was the custom of the feast. Jesus' parents took him up to Jerusalem. That was an annual occasion, the feast of the Passover, and they went up to Jerusalem and they took Jesus along with them.

And they were there a few days, and then after being there they decided to go back home, to Nazareth. And they started out, and I guess as it was in the tradition in those days, the father probably traveled in front, and then the mother and the children behind. You see, they didn't have the modern conveniences that we have today. They didn't have automobiles and subways and buses. They walked, and traveled on donkeys and camels and what have you. So they traveled very slow, but it was usually the tradition for the father to lead the way.

And they left Jerusalem going on back to Nazareth, and I imagine they walked a little while and they didn't look back to see if everybody was there. But then the Scripture says, they went about a day's journey and they stopped, I imagine to check up, to see if everything was all right, and they discovered that something mighty precious was missing. They discovered that Jesus wasn't with them. Jesus wasn't in the midst. And so they paused there and looked and they didn't see him around. And they went on and started looking among the kinsfolk. And they went on back to Jerusalem and found him there, in the temple with the doctors of the law.

Now, the real thing that is to be seen here is this: that the parents of Jesus realized that they had left, and that they had lost a mighty precious value. They had sense enough to know that before they could go forward to Nazareth, they had to go backward to Jerusalem to rediscover this value. They knew that. They knew that they couldn't go home to Nazareth until they went back to Jerusalem.

Sometimes, you know, it's necessary to go backward in order to go forward. That's an analogy of life. I remember the other day I was driving out of New York City into Boston, and I stopped off in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to visit some friends. And I went out of New York on a highway that’s known as the Merritt Parkway, it leads into Boston, a very fine parkway. And I stopped in Bridgeport, and after being there for two or three hours I decided to go on to Boston, and I wanted to get back on the Merritt Parkway. And I went out thinking that I was going toward the Merritt Parkway. I started out, and I rode, and I kept riding, and I looked up and I saw a sign saying two miles to a little town that I knew I was to bypass—I wasn't to pass through that particular town. So I thought I was on the wrong road. I stopped and I asked a gentleman on the road which way would I get to the Merritt Parkway. And he said, "The Merritt Parkway is about twelve or fifteen miles back that way. You've got to turn around and go back to the Merritt Parkway; you are out of the way now." In other words, before I could go forward to Boston, I had to go back about twelve or fifteen miles to get to the Merritt Parkway. May it not be that modern man has gotten on the wrong parkway? And if he is to go forward to the city of salvation, he's got to go back and get on the right parkway.

And so that was the thing that Jesus' parents realized, that they had to go back and find this mighty precious value that they had left behind, in order to go forward. They realized that. And so they went back to Jerusalem and discovered Jesus, rediscovered him so to speak, in order to go forward to Nazareth.

Now that's what we've got to do in our world today. We've left a lot of precious values behind; we've lost a lot of precious values. And if we are to go forward, if we are to make this a better world in which to live, we've got to go back. We've got to rediscover these precious values that we've left behind.

I want to deal with one or two of these mighty precious values that we've left behind, that if we're to go forward and to make this a better world, we must rediscover.

The first is this—the first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws. I'm not so sure we all believe that. We never doubt that there are physical laws of the universe that we must obey. We never doubt that. And so we just don't jump out of airplanes or jump off of high buildings for the fun of it—we don't do that. Because we unconsciously know that there is a final law of gravitation, and if you disobey it you'll suffer the consequences—we know that. Even if we don't know it in its Newtonian formulation, we know it intuitively, and so we just don't jump off the highest building in Detroit for the fun of it—we don't do that. Because we know that there is a law of gravitation which is final in the universe. If we disobey it we'll suffer the consequences.

But I'm not so sure if we know that there are moral laws just as abiding as the physical law. I'm not so sure about that. I'm not so sure if we really believe that there is a law of love in this universe, and that if you disobey it you'll suffer the consequences. I'm not so sure if we really believe that. Now at least two things convince me that we don't believe that, that we have strayed away from the principle that this is a moral universe.

The first thing is that we have adopted in the modern world a sort of a relativistic ethic. Now I'm not trying to use a big word here; I'm trying to say something very concrete. And that is that we have accepted the attitude that right and wrong are merely relative to our convictions.

Most people can't stand up for their convictions, because the majority of people might not be doing it. See, everybody's not doing it, so it must be wrong. And since everybody is doing it, it must be right. So a sort of numerical interpretation of what's right.

But I'm here to say to you this morning that some things are right and some things are wrong. Eternally so, absolutely so. It's wrong to hate. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong. It's wrong in America, it's wrong in Germany, it's wrong in Russia, it's wrong in China. It was wrong in 2000 B.C., and it's wrong in 1954 A.D. It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong. It's wrong to throw our lives away in riotous living. No matter if everybody in Detroit is doing it, it's wrong. It always will be wrong, and it always has been wrong. It's wrong in every age and it's wrong in every nation. Some things are right and some things are wrong, no matter if everybody is doing the contrary. Some things in this universe are absolute. The God of the universe has made it so. And so long as we adopt this relative attitude toward right and wrong, we're revolting against the very laws of God himself.

Now that isn't the only thing that convinces me that we've strayed away from this attitude, this principle. The other thing is that we have adopted a sort of a pragmatic test for right and wrong—whatever works is right. If it works, it's all right. Nothing is wrong but that which does not work. If you don't get caught, it's right. That's the attitude, isn't it? It's all right to disobey the Ten Commandments, but just don't disobey the eleventh, "Thou shall not get caught." That's the attitude. That's the prevailing attitude in our culture. No matter what you do, just do it with a bit of finesse. You know, a sort of attitude of the survival of the slickest. Not the Darwinian survival of the fittest, but the survival of the slickest—whoever can be the slickest is the one who right. It's all right to lie, but lie with dignity. It's all right to steal and to rob and extort, but do it with a bit of finesse. It's even all right to hate, but just dress your hate up in the garments of love and make it appear that you are loving when you are actually hating. Just get by! That's the thing that's right according to this new ethic.

My friends, that attitude is destroying the soul of our culture. It's destroying our nation. The thing that we need in the world today is a group of men and women who will stand up for right and to be opposed to wrong, wherever it is. A group of people who have come to see that some things are wrong, whether they're never caught up with. And some things are right, whether nobody sees you doing them or not.

All I'm trying to say to you is that our world hinges on moral foundations. God has made it so. God has made the universe to be based on a moral law. So long as man disobeys it he is revolting against God. That's what we need in the world today: people who will stand for right and goodness. It's not enough to know the intricacies of zoology and biology, but we must know the intricacies of law. It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we've got to know somehow that it's right to be honest and just with our brothers. It's not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we've got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don't learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.

This universe hinges on moral foundations. There is something in this universe that justifies Carlyle in saying, "No lie can live forever." There is something in this universe that justifies William Cullen Bryant in saying, "Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again." There is something in this universe that justifies James Russell Lowell in saying,

Truth forever on the scaffold,

Wrong forever on the throne.

Yet that scaffold sways the future.

Behind the dim unknown stands God,

Within the shadow keeping watch above his own.

There is something in this universe that justifies the biblical writer in saying, "You shall reap what you sow." This is a law-abiding universe. This is a moral universe. It hinges on moral foundations. If we are to make of this a better world, we've got to go back and rediscover that precious value that we've left behind.

And then there is a second thing, a second principle that we've got to go back and rediscover. And that is that all reality has spiritual control. In other words, we've got to go back and rediscover the principle that there is a God behind the process. Well this you say, "Why is it that you raise that as a point in your sermon, in a church? The mere fact we are at church, we believe in God, we don't need to go back and rediscover that. The mere fact that we are here, and the mere fact that we sing and pray, and come to church—we believe in God." Well, there's some truth in that. But we must remember that it's possible to affirm the existence of God with your lips and deny his existence with your life. The most dangerous type of atheism is not theoretical atheism, but practical atheism that's the most dangerous type. And the world, even the church, is filled up with people who pay lip service to God and not life service. And there is always a danger that we will make it appear externally that we believe in God when internally we don't. We say with our mouths that we believe in him, but we live with our lives like he never existed. That is the ever-present danger confronting religion. That's a dangerous type of atheism.

And I think, my friends, that that is the thing that has happened in America. That we have unconsciously left God behind. Now, we haven't consciously done it; we have unconsciously done it. You see, the text, you remember the text said that Jesus' parents went a whole day's journey not knowing that he wasn't with them. They didn't consciously leave him behind. It was unconscious; went a whole day and didn't even know it. It wasn't a conscious process. You see, we didn't grow up and say, "Now, goodbye God, we're going to leave you now." The materialism in America has been an unconscious thing. Since the rise of the Industrial Revolution in England, and then the invention of all of our gadgets and contrivances and all of the things and modern conveniences we unconsciously left God behind. We didn't mean to do it.

We just became so involved in getting our big bank accounts that we unconsciously forgot about God we didn't mean to do it.

We became so involved in getting our nice luxurious cars, and they're very nice, but we became so involved in it that it became much more convenient to ride out to the beach on Sunday afternoon than to come to church that morning. It was an unconscious thing—we didn't mean to do it.

We became so involved and fascinated by the intricacies of television that we found it a little more convenient to stay at home than to come to church. It was an unconscious thing we didn't mean to do it. We didn't just go up and say, "Now God, we’re gone." We had gone a whole day's journey and then we came to see that we had unconsciously ushered God out of the universe. A whole day's journey didn't mean to do it. We just became so involved in things that we forgot about God.

And that is the danger confronting us, my friends: that in a nation as ours where we stress mass production, and that's mighty important, where we have so many conveniences and luxuries and all of that, there is the danger that we will unconsciously forget about God. I'm not saying that these things aren't important; we need them, we need cars, we need money; all of that's important to live. But whenever they become substitutes for God, they become injurious.

And may I say to you this morning, that none of these things can ever be real substitutes for God. Automobiles and subways, televisions and radios, dollars and cents can never be substitutes for God. For long before any of these came into existence, we needed God. And long after they will have passed away, we will still need God.

And I say to you this morning in conclusion that I'm not going to put my ultimate faith in things. I'm not going to put my ultimate faith in gadgets and contrivances. As a young man with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow, but to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Not in the little gods that can be with us in a few moments of prosperity, but in the God who walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, and causes us to fear no evil. That's the God.

Not in the god that can give us a few Cadillac cars and Buick convertibles, as nice as they are, that are in style today and out of style three years from now, but the God who threw up the stars to bedeck the heavens like swinging lanterns of eternity.

Not in the god that can throw up a few skyscraping buildings, but the God who threw up the gigantic mountains, kissing the sky, as if to bathe their peaks in the lofty blues.

Not in the god that can give us a few televisions and radios, but the God who threw up that great cosmic light that gets up early in the morning in the eastern horizon, who paints its technicolor across the blue something that man could never make.

I'm not going to put my ultimate faith in the little gods that can be destroyed in an atomic age,but the God who has been our help in ages past, and our hope for years to come, and our shelter in the time of storm, and our eternal home. That's the God that I'm putting my ultimate faith in. That's the God that I call upon you to worship this morning.

Go out and be assured that that God is going to last forever. Storms might come and go. Our great skyscraping buildings will come and go. Our beautiful automobiles will come and go, but God will be here. Plants may wither, the flowers may fade away, but the word of our God shall stand forever and nothing can ever stop him. All of the P-38s in the world can never reach God. All of our atomic bombs can never reach him. The God that I'm talking about this morning is the God of the universe and the God that will last through the ages. If we are to go forward this morning, we've got to go back and find that God. That is the God that demands and commands our ultimate allegiance.

If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover these precious values: that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.

God bless you.

February 28, 1954.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

A look on Word Mission

A Mission Voice from Latin America: Partnering for World Mission

By Valdir Raul Steuernagel

Original article: Lausanne World

This is an historical time in the Evangelical Church in Latin America. Never before have so many churches awakened to the universal nature of the missionary task, with such willingness to make their contribution.

Let us rejoice because of this new trend, but let us rejoice with caution. Never before have there been so many people willing to be sent out, so many missionary training schools available, and so many resources raised to sustain those sent. Still, we must proceed with caution and invest in a missions posture capable of balancing: quality, urgent sending with effective training; a sound financial base with the resources actually necessary; and a biblical and contextual understanding of the meaning of the task and of frontiers in mission.

Indeed, we have already learned from former and current missiological reflection that the concepts of nearby and far away, in biblical terms, are more of a salvation nature than of a geographic nature. In other words, the universality of the mission is verified in the keen perception of the need for saving our household and the next door neighbor, as well as those whose language and culture are radically different than our own. We must seek a balance between missionary action “there and here.”

Clearly, the missionary awakening of the Church in Latin America
comes at a time of significant church growth.

Clearly, the missionary awakening of the Church in Latin America comes at a time of significant church growth. The church that grows is very often the same church that is awakening to its missionary responsibility and sending workers to the mission field. But these churches should never forget that their own families and children are also missionary fields. That is, the task of evangelism has to be faced anew by every generation. Indeed, we face the challenges of continuity and consistency in many of our churches.

So we ask our brothers and sisters who have preceded us in the missionary awakening to help us sort out this dimension of evangelism. From the vantage point of the Third World, we face with great dismay the process of secularization, and to a certain extent, the faith and church crises in countries that once experienced deep revivals and were actively engaged in cross-cultural missions. Is it possible to avert or diminish this kind of “historic determinism” that seems always to go from “hot” to “lukewarm” and/or “cold”?

Further, it is important to point out that reflection on frontiers has merited two distinct observations. One has to do with today’s concept of communication and distance. The world has become smaller and what is done and/or produced in one place can be transmitted or makes its way to other places. Opportunities for evangelism (and missionary responsibility!) are multiplied.

The other observation has to do with the fact that mission frontiers are not only geographical, but social and economic as well. The gospel we preach and the church we try to establish should change toward justice and toward a collective lifestyle which embraces human dignity and environmental stewardship.

Healthy Participation with Mutual Enrichment
Today, as never before, we can put into practice the slogan that mission is a task of six continents for six continents. But this practice is not yet obvious. Our mission history in Latin America is one of dependence and we need to recognize that getting rid of such dependency might be easier than repeating the model.

The gospel we preach and the church we try to establish
should change toward justice and toward a collective lifestyle
which embraces human dignity and environmental stewardship.

Dependency does harm. To some, it gives a dangerous sense of control; however, to many more it generates a false sense of immobilizing invalidity. The challenge before us is to build a reciprocal partnership; this will be best seen when Latino missionaries work not only with Latino immigrants in Europe and North America, but with mainstream mission efforts and churches as well. The practice of partnership could help us to become a Church that will make a difference indeed.

Some Things Need to Be Learned

The missionary movement that has emerged in Latin America calls for a growing humility that is willing to learn from history. Youthful euphoria will only hinder this learning process. Such an attitude will cause us to think that our fathers and mothers “missed the point”—that we know better and are eager to send, go, and do better.

Yesterday’s experiences must be studied more, and the learning of our predecessors must be assimilated by today’s generation. There is no need (and we cannot afford) to repeat the same errors in each generation. Of the many areas in which we have accumulated experience that can enrich and challenge today’s Latin American missionary practice, I point to just four.

1. The cultural issue. We cannot think that just because we belong to a kind of Third World culture, our identification with other cultures in the missionary field will be automatic. The Brazilian culture, for example, is just as imperialistic toward other cultures as the United States is toward the Brazilian culture. Moreover, culture is so much a part of the people that we automatically tend to consider other peoples´ cultures as distant. There are many lessons learned and much accumulated reflection having to do with the relationship between gospel and culture which the young missionary movement of Latin America needs to review.

2. Missionary training. There is a latent risk of considering intense, longer training processes as the concern of mission theorists. After all, isn’t it more important to roll up our sleeves and go to work? Maybe not. We are not advocating training programs that simply copy the respective models designed abroad. What we are advocating is that in order to participate in such a serious, intense, emotionally-involved missionary mandate, a formation process is fundamental. The price paid for haste is too high to justify running the risk of not designing and implementing adequate training programs.

3. Perseverance on the field. Perseverance and persistence cannot be learned in a day; however, they are indispensable in missionary work. There are strong traits in many of our cultures which point to a personal and collective behavior toward rapid response, emotionally-determined decisions and support, and easy promise of engagement. One of the key issues is how one can learn to function in and internalize other patterns, such as persistence and the ability to cope with solitude and failure. These have proven to be fundamental in medium and long-term missionary work.

4. Faithfulness in support. As mentioned above, in missionary terms, our history is one of dependence, and hence, reception. The fact that mission also implies giving is a concept which most of our churches are still learning. They must go through a complete learning process that will lead them to understand that missions is serious business, involving financial faithfulness to those we send out in Jesus’ name. Learning to give in a systematic and disciplined manner over a long period of time is a challenge we cannot escape if we want to face up to God’s missionary moment.

There Are Things We Must Overcome

We come back to partnership, stressing that overcoming dependence does not naturally and clearly lead to mature autonomy. The phase subsequent to dependence often appears to be a copy of some other model. That is, the Latin American missionary experience tends to copy the emphases and models of the missionary enterprise they have seen and have been familiar with as recipients.

Learning to give in a systematic and disciplined manner
over a long period of time is a challenge we cannot escape
if we want to face up to God’s missionary moment.

After all, it is precisely those experiences which have been successful that seem the best and most appropriate to emulate. Here, however, I would point out three areas where a copy should not be the approach.

1. Seeking unity and overcoming division. The Latin American experience with North American missions was sharply marked first by the conflict between fundamentalism and modernism, which characterized Christianity in the US during most of the twentieth century, and later by a Cold War mentality. The theological and ideological conflict of the North caused much unnecessary division in the South, since our churches have very little to do with the European and North American theological conflicts.

Further, exported to our southern hemisphere was an ecclesiastical practice largely determined by a free-market mentality—also a typical North American experience. The seed of this ecclesiastical practice fell on a soil which cultivates a culture that has deep marks of emotional, charismatic, and authoritarian flavor. Merging these two worlds produced an extremely lacerated ecclesiastical picture. The ethical and communal principle of partnership and of community was usually overrun, and the geography of church founding, in many instances, corresponded to the history of personality conflicts and the establishment of personal or family feuds duly placed under the guise of revelation.

This lacerated ecclesiastical experience in Latin America is usually exported as the most natural way to operate. Hence, we must move from divisionism to an ecclesiastical experience that will respect the church that is already in place, seek to work in concert, and sometimes become integrated, with a posture of submission, into works already underway. And we must not forget that, biblically speaking, the testimony constituted by unity is itself a positive factor of evangelism.

2. The expensive missionary model of the North does not serve us, and the philosophy of pragmatism has deep, worldly roots. The introduction of belief and practice of the free market in the ecclesiastical realm brought with it still another issue—the establishment of a strategy aimed at growth and success. This strategy was established on the basis of pragmatism: you choose an area and/or challenge, you establish a goal and an achievement timetable, and you seek to fulfill both.

The problem is that not only does our culture not operate that way, but this philosophy runs counter to the biblical pattern and mandate which says that the person is more important than the goal. In the biblical pattern strategy is constantly interrupted and held in check by the blind man who cries out alongside the road to Jericho. Moreover, these strategies, their design, implementation, follow-up, and evaluation are very costly. The North American missionary enterprise has become very expensive, and for the paradigms and possibilities of the Third World, impossible. Following this reasoning, if we simply copy the typical model of the missionary agency developed in the US, we will fall into a bottomless pit. This approach will not work since that model presupposes and requires heavy financial resources, both to be sent to the field and to pay for the administration of the missionary machinery.

The North American missionary enterprise has become very expensive,
and for the paradigms and possibilities of the Third World, impossible.

Latin America must develop other models of missionary obedience that consistently reflect its reality of the poor and, hence, hopefully emulate the missionary model of the hiker from Galilee with the authority of a servant.

3. Caution with respect to bureaucracy and sophistication. We know from recent missions history that time after time the “mission” has been vested with the most advanced Western technology in the whole area, and often, in the whole country. This has caused problems concerning image and resources. Missions arising from the South do not have this technology and traditionally do not depend on it nearly as much. This fact can be of enormous help in many of the areas where the people and their respective communities live in extreme poverty. It could also help us to put into practice incarnation as one of the basic pillars of evangelical missions.

The Evangelical Church in Latin America, and the Third World in general, is experiencing a unique missionary awakening in Protestant history. The poor are engaged in missionary activity and are investing their potential, talents, and resources in fulfilling the universal missionary call of the Church.

With the growing involvement of Third World missionaries of different races and cultures, the geography and color of missions has been changing for quite some time. This trend causes us to rejoice. And yet together we must continue cautiously into the future as we explore the growing needs for effective training, sound financial support, and a biblical and contextual understanding of mission.

This article was originally published by MARC Publications as "From Latin America: An Open Letter to the North American Mission Community" in the Mission Handbook, 15th edition, 1993.

Inspire yourself through these wonderful Books World Vision Book Catalog 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

World vision History


Bob Pierce Founder of World Vision

World Vision began with the vision of one man—the Reverend Bob Pierce.

In 1947 Rev. Pierce met Tena Hoelkedoer, a teacher, while on a trip to China. She introduced him to a battered and abandoned child named White Jade. Unable to care for the child herself, she asked, "What are you going to do about her?" Rev. Pierce gave the woman his last five dollars and agreed to send the same amount each month to help the woman care for the girl.

This encounter was a turning point for Rev. Pierce. He began building an organisation dedicated to helping the world's children, and in 1950 World Vision was born. The first child sponsorship programme began three years later in response to the needs of hundreds of thousands of orphans at the end of the Korean War.

Over the next several decades, World Vision expanded its work throughout Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Resources from child sponsorship assisted poor children with food, education, health care and vocational training.

In the 1970s, World Vision embraced a broader community development model and established an emergency relief division. It attempted to address the causes of poverty by focusing on community needs such as water, sanitation, education, health, leadership training and income generation.

World Vision began the 21st century by strengthening its advocacy efforts, particularly on issues related to child survival and poverty alleviation. It became more active in working with governments, businesses and other organisations in addressing issues such as child labour, children in armed conflict and the sexual exploitation of women and children.

World Vision has become a leading humanitarian organisation. Some 31,000 staff members implement programmes of community development, emergency relief and promotion of justice in nearly 100 countries.


World Vision does community development, disaster relief and advocacy.

Transforming Communities
Transforming communitiesBecause poverty has both local and global causes, World Vision works within communities and across geographical areas to help individuals and groups improve the well-being of children and overcome poverty.

Responding to Disasters
Responding to disastersWhen disasters strike, World Vision is globally positioned to help with immediate needs like food, water and shelter. World Vision also works with communities to recover from disasters and prevent future catastrophes.

Seeking Global Change
Seeking global changeWorld Vision engages institutions, donors and the general public to address the global problems that perpetuate poverty. Advocacy staff empower communities to speak up for their rights, both locally and globally.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lyrics song New Hallelujah - from Michael W Smith new CD

A New Hallelujah

New Hallelujah MWS

Lyrics by Michael W. Smith

Can you hear, there's a new song
Breaking out from the children of freedom
Every race and every nation
Sing it out sing a new Hallelujah

Let us sing love to the nations
Bringing hope of the grace that has freed us
Make Him known and make Him famous
Sing it out sing a new Hallelujah

let the church Arise
Let love reach to the other side
Alive come alive
Let the song Arise

Africa sings a new song
Reaching out with the new Hallelujah
Every son and every daughter
Everyone sing a new Hallelujah

let the church Arise
Let love reach to the other side
Alive come alive
Let the song Arise

Whoa whoa ye'.ah
Let the song arise
Let the song arise ye'.ah (2x)

Let the world sing a new Hallelujah
From Africa to Australia
From Brazil to China
From New York down to Houston!

Everyone sing a new Hallelujah (2x)

Listen to New Hallelujah
Myspace Michael W. Smith Profile - Christian View Blog


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Luther King Biography

Biography of Barack Obama
The 44th President of the United States

arts: by Joao Cruzué
Barack Luther King

Barack Hussein Obama Jr. was born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961. His father, Barack Obama Sr., was born and raised in a small village in Kenya, where he grew up herding goats with his own father, who was a domestic servant to the British.

Barack's mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in small-town Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression, and then signed up for World War II after Pearl Harbor, where he marched across Europe in Patton's army. Her mother went to work on a bomber assembly line, and after the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved west to Hawaii.

It was there, at the University of Hawaii, where Barack's parents met. His mother was a student there, and his father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya and pursue his dreams in America.

Barack's father eventually returned to Kenya, and Barack grew up with his mother in Hawaii, and for a few years in Indonesia. Later, he moved to New York, where he graduated from Columbia University in 1983.
The College Years

Remembering the values of empathy and service that his mother taught him, Barack put law school and corporate life on hold after college and moved to Chicago in 1985, where he became a community organizer with a church-based group seeking to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued with crime and high unemployment.

The group had some success, but Barack had come to realize that in order to truly improve the lives of people in that community and other communities, it would take not just a change at the local level, but a change in our laws and in our politics.

He went on to earn his law degree from Harvard in 1991, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Soon after, he returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer and teach constitutional law. Finally, his advocacy work led him to run for the Illinois State Senate, where he served for eight years. In 2004, he became the third African American since Reconstruction to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
Political Career

It has been the rich and varied experiences of Barack Obama's life - growing up in different places with people who had differing ideas - that have animated his political journey. Amid the partisanship and bickering of today's public debate, he still believes in the ability to unite people around a politics of purpose - a politics that puts solving the challenges of everyday Americans ahead of partisan calculation and political gain.

In the Illinois State Senate, this meant working with both Democrats and Republicans to help working families get ahead by creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit, which in three years provided over $100 million in tax cuts to families across the state. He also pushed through an expansion of early childhood education, and after a number of inmates on death row were found innocent, Senator Obama worked with law enforcement officials to require the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases.

In the U.S. Senate, he has focused on tackling the challenges of a globalized, 21st century world with fresh thinking and a politics that no longer settles for the lowest common denominator. His first law was passed with Republican Tom Coburn, a measure to rebuild trust in government by allowing every American to go online and see how and where every dime of their tax dollars is spent. He has also been the lead voice in championing ethics reform that would root out Jack Abramoff-style corruption in Congress.

As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama has fought to help Illinois veterans get the disability pay they were promised, while working to prepare the VA for the return of the thousands of veterans who will need care after Iraq and Afghanistan. Recognizing the terrorist threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, he traveled to Russia with Republican Dick Lugar to begin a new generation of non-proliferation efforts designed to find and secure deadly weapons around the world. And knowing the threat we face to our economy and our security from America's addiction to oil, he's working to bring auto companies, unions, farmers, businesses and politicians of both parties together to promote the greater use of alternative fuels and higher fuel standards in our cars.

Whether it's the poverty exposed by Katrina, the genocide in Darfur, or the role of faith in our politics, Barack Obama continues to speak out on the issues that will define America in the 21st century. But above all his accomplishments and experiences, he is most proud and grateful for his family. His wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia, 9, and Sasha, 6, live on Chicago's South Side.


Addition from Joao Cruzue: On November 04, of 2008, 44 years after that Martin Luther King's famous sermon " I have a dream", to 250.000 people at Licoln Memorial Park in Washington, Barack Hussein Obama Jr, came to be elected the 44th Presidente of the United States of America, and the first one black man (or half black and white) to reach this highest position. The numbers of election is still not absolute but count 364 votes on his behalf and 174 to Senator McCain. Every World woke up happier on seeing one more prejudice coming down.

From Barack Obama:

Joao --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Christian families are displaced in Iraq

View of Adad Gate at Nineveh from the North, outside city. Reconstruction by Iraqi excavator was left unfinished, resulting in visible concrete reinforcing structure which was intended to be covered with mudbrick. Most of stone retaining wall is original ancient structure. Reconstructed Nergal Gate is visible in the distance at right. (Photo: GFDL)
View of Adad Gate at Nineveh from the North, outside city. Reconstruction by Iraqi excavator was left unfinished, resulting in visible concrete reinforcing structure which was intended to be covered with mudbrick. Most of stone retaining wall is original ancient structure. Reconstructed Nergal Gate is visible in the distance at right.

World News

Photo: IRIN BAGHDAD, 26 October 2008 (IRIN) - Fewer Iraqi Christian families are fleeing their homes in the northern province of Ninevah thanks to the heavy presence of security forces, but families who already fled anti-Christian attacks over the past few weeks are living in difficult conditions and are still reluctant to return to their homes, a local aid official said on 25 October.

"They are experiencing hard living conditions in the places they have ended up despite receiving aid on a daily basis," Falah Hilal, head of the provincial department of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS), said.

"Most of these families have ended up cramped in small rooms in churches and monasteries while others joined relatives or friends in their houses. Their children have left schools and employees can't go to their offices," Hilal added.

Hilal said that the IRCS had not registered any new displacements among Christian families over the past week as security forces had deployed in the areas where Christians lived.

"Yet we didn't register any return of families to their houses either," Hilal told IRIN.

Anti-Christian violence in Mosul, the provincial capital of Ninevah and some 400km north of Baghdad, erupted on 4 October when gunmen started assassinating Christians and threatening others, telling them to leave the city.

13,000 displaced Christians

On 24 October, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) estimated that more than 2,200 families, or some 13,000 people, had fled their homes since 4 October. UNHCR said this represented about half the province's Christian population. It added that about 400 families had crossed the border into Syria while others had gone to safe areas to the north and east of Mosul and others to neighbouring Dahuk, Erbil and Kirkuk provinces.

"Many left with little money and need help," the UNHCR statement said, adding that it had delivered relief supplies to over 1,700 Christian families.

Police estimated that 12 Christians had died in the violence. The latest incident was on 13 October when gunmen broke into a music store in Mosul killing its Christian owner and injuring his nephew.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Sunni extremists are believed to be behind the campaign, which is taking place despite US-Iraqi operations aimed at routing insurgents from remaining strongholds north of the capital.

The newly displaced 13,000 Christians add to the more than 4.2 million Iraqis who have fled their homes since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to UNHCR.

Of these, about 2 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries - mostly in Syria and Jordan - while the remainder are displaced within Iraq.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Indian christians rally before UN headquarter in New York


before UN headquarters - NY - October 2008
Against hindu caste system and the recent persecution, rapes and deaths in Orissa

photo: by Persis

News from By Brother Satish/Chicago Revival

photos by Persis
in slide show
250 photos of Rally made in October 2008 by Indian Christian l Church in NY


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

India - Christians denounce atacks by Hindu fundamentalists


Hindu rioters in Kandhamal, Orissa

The Associated Press

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008

"NEW DELHI - Indian church leaders said Tuesday that Christians killed in recent clashes were "sacrificial lambs" targeted by hard-line Hindus seeking an advantage in upcoming national elections.

The All India Christian Council said the toll after nearly two months of sporadic violence has reached 59 dead and 50,000 displaced. Officials in the eastern state of Orissa, site of the worst violence, say 34 people have been killed.

The recent violence began after Hindu activists blamed Christians for the slaying of a Hindu leader killed in Orissa on Aug. 23. Retaliatory attacks left scores dead, dozens of churches destroyed and thousands of people homeless, despite the government's claim that Maoists killed the Hindu leader.

"A frenzied and well-armed band of political criminals has threatened our community as perhaps it has never been in its 2,000 year-old history in India," said John Dayal, secretary-general of the All India Christian Council.

There is a long history of tension between the religious groups in Orissa because Hindu leaders accuse Christian missionaries of forcing low-caste Hindus to convert, charges denied by Christian leaders.

Leaders from the council on Tuesday said the violence was led by hard-line Hindu parties preparing for national elections, expected early next year, by whipping up religious fervor.

"The sole motive is to gain political advantage in coming national elections," said Dayal. "We have been made sacrificial lambs."

The Christian leaders blamed the violence on radical Hindu groups, including the Bajrang Dal and the World Hindu Council, organizations loosely affiliated with the hard-line Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP rules Orissa and Karnataka, the two states that have seen anti-Christian violence, and is looking to challenge the ruling Congress Party for power in New Delhi.

Roughly 2.5 percent of India's 1.1 billion people are Christians, while more than 80 percent are Hindu. India is officially a secular nation.

The Christian leaders called Tuesday for a federal probe into the violence"