Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Dear brother Mike,
Believing you reached home safely, I thank you with the whole team for coming to Kilifi and being a great blessing to us. I do not know how to express myself concerning the great change that God used you to bring in our marriage. The way God touched me personally. He spoke to me but I could not believe that he was the one speaking which made me cry for some hours before I said yes to what was said to me after the advice of my wife Eunice.
I started as a pastor on the third Sunday of June 1994. I have a certificate in theology and a certificate of primary Education. Eunice has a certificate of primary Education. I went to high school for only one and a half years because of school fees that my father could not pay.
We have six children. 4 boys and 2 girls.
Our church has 80 children, 40 youth, 30 women and 10 men.
Whenever, I think about the growth of the church, mostly the children and the youth, I have tears coming from my eyes. Please pray for me that God will show me how I can help these children and youth to become good servants of the Lord.
Winston, Kilifi, Kenya
I do wish that we would remember those of less worldly importance and celebrate the great lives of the unknown. It would be an amazing thing to see the obituary of someone no one knew highlighted simply because of their godly life. Imagine this on the evening news:
Mary Wilson, 84, died last night after a long battle with cancer. She was a wonderful Christian woman who serve God and other people her whole life. She was married to her husband, Harold, for more than 60 years until he died three years ago. Mary was loved by all who knew her, but she spent most of her life in rural Kansas and rarely traveled. Her goal in life was to imitate and serve her Lord. Everyone who knew her loved her dearly and she influenced hundreds of children over the decades as a Sunday school teacher and public school teacher. She will be greatly missed by those who knew her.
Of course this kind of life is rarely celebrated. For the tastes of the world it's too bland, too boring, but to live a godly life and leave this kind of commentary behind would be exciting to me. Imagine, living for the Lord and serving him....what more could you do to influence and impact eternity?
So, as the media outlets spend the next few days on the lives of celebrities I wait for the day when all of heaven will celebrate great lives never mentioned in the news. I wait for the day when God will highlight lives that REALLY made a difference.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We just got home a few hours ago from a wonderful week on the east coast of Africa. We met with a number of pastors and their wives for a marriage conference. They had a great time. This photo is part of the group just before our marriage renewal service. All the couples who attended the conference participated in the renewal ceremony and one couple was really excited because, for them, this was their wedding....I'll tell you more later. What was funny for us was their response to my closing words, "husbands, you may kiss your wives." They all did it, but the giggles and laughs that followed were really funny. They are not used to any public display of affection, so this was not "Kenyan", but they did it and had fun. It's great to be home, but I come back with new friends and relationships that have changed my life and I hope I have changed their lives in some little way.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Finally, a computer, Internet and a moment to update you. It may be a surprise, but the Internet is not alive and well in East Africa. Dial-up speeds are most common if you can find a place to get online at all. So, I am sorry for taking so long to update you, but this is literally the soonest I have been able to write. We arrived Saturday night, were in church first thing Sunday morning and teaching every moment since. It’s been wonderful to meet and interact with the believers here in Africa. We have made many new friends and have some wonderful discussions with the pastors here. They are not shy about debating with us….I’m enjoying the fellowship and interaction immensely! Keep praying for us and I will give you a more detailed report as soon as I can.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Posted on June 7, 2009 by Mark
Mark- What does your belief in God give that you couldn’t accomplish yourself?
Mike- Life, hope, a relationship with God, salvation, a future, forgiveness, peace, direction, purpose, promise....I'll stop with these few for now.
Mark- Does this belief give you a sense of personal security? Then why must you hide behind guns and locked doors?
Mike- Yes, I have an amazing sense of personal security because a sovereign God is watching out for me and is in charge of my life. I trust him and have found him trustworthy.
I don't own a gun. A belief in God has little to do with gun ownership, but I understand your point. I do lock my doors. Why? I'm not foolish. We live in a world with people who do not love and serve God. My trust in God does not mean I abandon common sense.
Mark- Does this belief give you an everlasting life or afterlife? Every physical being dies and no one has proven there is an afterlife. Religion is full of promises, but only if you obey it’s doctrine.
Mike- Yes, I believe that my belief (my faith in God's promises) does give me everlasting life. And, yes, we all die, but what I know that you may not believe is that one man came back from death as the resurrected God-man and proved that God is able to raise the dead, that death is not the end. Being God in flesh Jesus reveals the afterlife to us as no other can.
You said, "Religion is full of promises, but only if you obey it’s doctrine." Many religions are built on performance, I agree. But, Christianity is based on faith alone. There is no performance, no obeying doctrine to have eternal life. This life God has promised is completely free based on faith in Christ alone. I do understand your comment, but you have included all faiths in your statement and I believe the Christian faith promises something much different than you describe. Yes, there is a life to live after I trust Christ as savior, but salvation is completely free from works and gained by faith alone.
Mark-Does this belief give you food or shelter? Most people I know work to earn wages that provide them with food and/or shelter. Food doesn’t fall out of sky, does it? In other words, we provide food and shelter for ourselves. Many homeless folks believe in God. Where is their shelter?
Mike- No, my belief does not give me food or shelter alone. It is not a meal ticket, but what God promises is that he will care for me, provide for me and watch over my life and he always has. As King David said, "I have never seen the righteous hungry or their seed begging bread." No, food does not fall from heaven. Yes, we are to work and trust God. It may sound strange, but those two do work together in my life, both my work and my faith. Yes, there are homeless. It is sad. Many do believe in God. My question back to you, Mark, is are you helping them? Christians have, throughout our history, helped those in need. It is part of what God has called us to do...we are called to love and care for those in need. It's part of our faith and God's way of helping those in need. Now, I know you are talking about what God gives us, but faith in God is not a guarantee of a free ride in this life.
Mark-Does this belief protect you from disease and illnesses? There are millions of sick people in the world regardless of religion or belief in God.
Mike- No, my belief does not protect me from disease or illness. Yes, there are millions who are ill, sick and dying who believe in God. We are in a fallen world where sin and its results have affected everything. That does not prove that God doesn't exist, it only proves that the devil does exist. The Christian faith is the only faith that gives an answer to your questions of why there is sin, sickness and death and yet an all powerful God who is good exists at the same time. Christians look forward to the promised day when God will do away with sin and death. Then the world will be as God meant it to be.
Mark-Does this belief protect you from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes? Millions of people every year are killed or injured due to natural disasters…regardless of their belief in God.
Mike- No, it doesn't protect me from natural disasters, but I wonder how much God has protected me from that I don't even know about. I won't know that in this life. Yes, millions have died in disasters even though they believe in God. I do not believe in God for what I might get out of it. I did not come to him for salvation to get food, shelter or protection. I came to him because I needed one thing- salvation. I'm not in this for what I can get. I'm a Christian because I really do believe there is a good God who loves me. All of your questions and the ones yet before us look at God as if it were his job to do everything for me and protect me from all harm and woe. Is that what you really expect a god to do for you before you believe in him? Sadly, I think you are looking for the wrong things from God.
Mark-Does this belief protect your places of worship? Churches and temples are destroyed by fire, flood, tornadoes and other disasters just like other man made structures. In fact, most churches are financially protected through insurance companies. Your God doesn’t protect his churches from his created weather disturbances or quakes.
Mike- Again, no, my belief does not protect our place of worship. Your point? What do you expect him to do? Does my belief require that I'm exempt from all harm, all that the world brings? Clearly you don't understand God, the world or our place in it.
Mark-Does this belief protect its masses from starvation? Everyday, thousands die from food deprivation whether they believe in God or not.
Mike- No, it doesn't keep millions from starving. I agree, but what does that have to do with my belief in God? Way too many are dying because of starvation. Many Christian organizations are shipping food to these places and helping meet these needs. That, too, is part of what God has asked us to do, to care for one another. We literally get to be part of his work in the lives of those in need. This is not a selfish, self-serving faith. It is a faith in a sovereign God who calls us to be part of the solution.
Mark-So, what are the rewards in believing in God? You have accomplished or can accomplish most any goal with a faith in yourself.
Mike- What are the rewards for my belief in God? My, where do I start? I have given you a partial list above, but the list here will include, as you asked, things that I CANNOT accomplish by myself, this list is a list of things that come only from a faith in the God who is, and here are the rewards- eternal life, salvation, hope, peace, promises given and fulfilled, direction, a joy apart from my circumstances, guidance, someone to talk to who can help, I'm no longer alone, purpose, a mission for my life, answers to my questions (many of them are the ones you ask now, and God has given me answers to my questions), security, a family- the family of God, grace, mercy, kindness, someone who listens when I cry (I'm no longer crying into an empty night, but I have a living God who listens), and, Mark, there is so much more. I wish you knew the God I know. You would love him as I do. I know your questions are sincere, but even if they aren't I KNOW there is a God who cares for us, who loves us, who is seeking you. I pray you will trust the God who is for the salvation and peace you need. I'm praying for you Mark.
Monday, June 08, 2009
I got a few minutes to run up and see the kids this afternoon, or should I say the grandkids. Our little girls are all beautiful and wonderful, but today may I feature the boys? Here's our two handsome grandsons, Vaughn and George. George is on the motorcycle and was mad that I wanted it back to come home. I like him already. I know, one day, the bike will be his....whether I want him to have it or not. So, indulge me for a moment as I enjoy some braggin' time....
Billings brew pub hosts church
By LAURA TODE - Billings Gazette - 06/07/09
Billilngs Gazette photo by Paul Ruhter
- This May 24 photo shows a woman drinking a beer while attending a Theology on Tap gathering at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company in Billings. BILLINGS (AP)
— For all Christians who have done time on hard wooden pews in scratchy suits and ties, who have searched through musty hymnals and used church programs as fans while listening to sermons on the horrors of hell — relief has come. At The Well, shorts and flip-flop sandals are accepted attire, barstools provide ample seating and hymnals are not required. A cold beer can provide relief from the heat — fire, brimstone and otherwise. It doesn’t look like church, but that’s because The Well is a church for people who don’t believe in church. “Don’t read this the wrong way,” said Minister Ryan Tucker before the start of Sunday’s Theology on Tap gathering at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company. “There’s nothing wrong with church. I just sensed that there was more room at the table for people who aren’t into the conventional, traditional church.” Tucker and fellow minister Jon Hall started The Well last summer, and a core group of followers began meeting at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company taproom earlier this month. The church’s name is a nod to the water well where the people of a village would gather to discuss events of the day. Local bars and taverns have come to be known as watering holes for the same reason. They are also gathering places. Church attendance ranges between 20 and 40 people, and everyone agrees that a church that meets at a brewery is unusual. However, for most of the people who attend, the location isn’t as important as the acceptance they feel when they gather together. “For me, it’s incidental,” said Shawna Hawkins. “The location really has nothing to do with the message of community and living like Jesus did.” Shawna and her husband Tim Hawkins have been coming to Theology on Tap since it started. “I’ve been searching for what The Well offers us,” Tim Hawkins said. “I always struggled to understand denominational churches. I just couldn’t fathom how there were so many godly churches that were so quick to point to other churches and say, ‘We’re right and you’re wrong.’ ” The decision to hold church services at the brewery was not made to attract a beer-drinking crowd or to repel Christians with a strict churchgoing background. “We want to be there for people who wouldn’t ordinarily come to church — for whatever their reason,” Tucker said. From the start, Tucker and Hall decided they wanted worshippers at The Well to meet in common or public spaces. They believe that by not having a building more resources can be returned to the community. At least half of all the money collected during the service is given to support local charities, including the Montana Rescue Mission and Habitat for Humanity. Members also volunteer together for local causes. “For the old model of church, a building was certainly needed, but our culture is shifting, so it’s not as necessary anymore,” Tucker said. That The Well doesn’t have a building appealed to 21-year-old Libby Samson, who came to Sunday’s Theology on Tap for the first time with her father Mike Samson. She met Tucker and Hall on the campus of Montana State University-Billings when they invited her to “come to church and have a beer.” Sunday, most of the people in attendance drank a beer during the service, but bottled water and root beer were also available. Tucker sipped a beer while he delivered his sermon. George Moncure, of the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company, said he was open to the idea of having church services at the Garage Pub because of The Well’s focus on community. The tap room at the brewery isn’t typically busy on Sundays, he said, and customers who are not interested in the sermon can drink their beer at the bar. Tucker, a graduate of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, was a student minister for 11 years in churches in the Southeast U.S. before moving west to Billings. Hall previously worked as a student minister for five years before joining Tucker to start The Well. The Well is not affiliated with any denomination. The term Hall uses to describe The Well is “post-denominational,” meaning that it has moved beyond division based on doctrinal differences. Discussion and questions are welcomed during the sermon, and Tucker solicits interaction. His message is designed so that if discussion leads in a new direction, he is ready. Tucker strives for what he calls “profound simplicity” in both an understanding of God and in fulfilling the church’s mission, “to live community and serve others.” Although it’s not a part of the practice now, Theology on Tap will eventually include communion and occasional baptism services, Hall said. “And if we find a group of musicians that jive with our beliefs and they want to play, then that would be great too.”
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
"Here's a glimpse of religion in America. All gays all the time. It seems that nothing else can capture the spiritual imagination of this nation. Jesus came to the world to stop the damned gays. He had precious little else to say.
Forget the fact that we Americans desperately need to be liberated from our materialism and narcissism. Or that our youth are clamoring for anything other than American Idolto inspire them. America's clerics will get around to it just as soon as we stop them gays.
The latest installment in the American obsession with gay marriage comes from Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who said in the Miss Universe competition that she opposes gay marriage and was immediately championed as a Christian heroine throughout America. But it seems that her Christianity could not prevent her from posing topless for men or from having the Miss Universe pageant pay for her breast implants.
Now I ask you, what is a bigger threat to heterosexual marriage today? Gay marriage or porn? When a wife waits alone in bed for her husband who is downloading pictures of naked women on his laptop, do you really believe she consoles herself by thinking, "Well at least those gays can't marry"?
For all my Christian brothers and sisters who scapegoat gays for undermining the institution of marriage, I would remind them that we straight people have done a mighty fine job of destroying it ourselves. The gay population in the US is estimated at somewhere around 5 percent, while the heterosexual divorce rate is more than 50% and was so well before gay rights ever became a national issue.
THE FOREMOST DANGER to marriage in our time is the wholesale degradation of women in the popular culture. In magazines, on TV and especially on Internet porn, women are portrayed as the libidinous man's plaything, not an equal to be respected but a subordinate to be used. On college campuses male womanizing is an expected right of passage. Women like Miss California who participate in porn become complicit in their own degradation and further the male view that a woman's principle purpose is to satiate male erotic needs.
Beauty pageants don't help much either, and it's surprising that my Christian clerical brothers haven't spoken out against them as they have against gay marriage. Can you believe that 60 years after feminism rightly pointed out that a woman's mind is even more important than her legs, we still have televised contests of women parading around in their underwear for Donald Trump to rate their bodies? And what would Jesus say about Miss California's implants?
HOW ANY of this is congruent with Christian values is beyond me. It seems that we've entered some weird Twilight Zone where opposition to gay marriage alone makes one a Christian in good standing.
Look. I'm not here to condemn Carrie Prejean, and I can of course be just as religiously inconsistent. But my point is that America has real problems and can really use an authentic spiritual voice to lead us out of the shallowness, greed, divorce and teen sex that are plaguing our country. So long as we make gay marriage the only issue of importance, we abdicate our moral responsibility to provide spiritual leadership to a starving generation. Most of all, we shift our focus away from combating the misogyny that has become such a staple of American culture.
Patti Stanger of Bravo's The Millionaire Matchmaker and I recently debated her belief that women ought to marry rich husbands. I argued that this just fuels the stereotype of women as greedy gold-diggers prepared to sell themselves as a commodity to a guy with cash. When men come to believe these stereotypes, it affects their respect for women. Soon they believe they can neglect their wives as long as they give them credit cards. But three quarters of all divorces today are initiated by wives who are making their own money and would rather be alone than remain with a distant husband in an empty marriage.
Approximately 30 percent of married women in America are on an anti-depressant, and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times scored big by publishing a book suggesting that perhaps women are better off without men.
As for the guys - well, it seems the only ones who still want to get married are gay. While the gay men are out petitioning the Supreme Court for the right to get hitched, the straight guys are inventing brilliant excuses not to wed girlfriends with whom they have lived for years and even have children.
We can save marriage in America and get men to become gentlemen who treat women like ladies. But that must be accompanied by women not only demanding male respect, but by respecting themselves as well."
The writer's new book is The Blessing of Enough: Becoming Materially Content and Spiritually Hungry. He is the founder of ThisWorld: The Values Network. www.shmuley.com