Friday, June 26, 2009

The Difference in the Death of Two People

I was informed of the death of two people today. One is Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop". The other is Christopher Leggett, an American working in Mauritania. The former will be talked about, the latter will remain unknown but to a few. Both are before King Jesus and have to give account for the life they lived in this life.

The BBC gives the report of Leggett's murder by Al Queda Maghreb in this article.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day! My Gift: A Little Book

Mars Hill Church is offering a free book to all fathers. In their usual manner, they've designed a cool website to distribute the book. It's called Pastor Dad: Scriptural Insight on Fatherhood.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Having Some Laughs at a Convention for Secretaries

Stéphane and hundreds of women in the same room. Occasionaly I bump into a suited male. I sat through a conference on note-taking and was the only guy sitting in the room. What shall I say? Life is hard, but someone has to live it. No seriously, I'm surprised to see so many secretaries for a convention. Most seem quite old and are looking for all the training they can get. I think the girls from my class are the youngest attendees.

On a side note, I found a great job opportunity. And even if it doesn't turn into a job, it would make a great scam. There was a bald, well-dressed middle-aged man drawing a large crowd around his booth. With a professional camera, an iMac, and photography equipement, he was offering his "coaching" services. He claims that his coaching allows people to project the image they have of themselves to the world. In other words, your self-image meeting what others think of you.
I'm not saying his services are great, but boy was he drawing a crowd! Coaching has a lot of potential. Image the hundreds of women that will meet him today. He takes some photos of them and then takes their email addresses to send more information. You don't need a lot of clients and the future is bright. There's never been such an image-conscious society.

Nathan Talking About Jesus in French-Class

Nathan is one of the staff working at BLF Europe. He shares with us a little glimpse of life in France and the daily morning French-classes. Recently, the topic of religion was brought up and Nathan was asked to explain (in French) Christianity's beliefs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recapping the Short-Term Missions Blog Series (by Abraham Piper)

Posted: 29 May 2009 11:19 PM PDT
(Author: Abraham Piper)
We thought it might be helpful to collect all the posts from this week's short-term missions blog series in one place:
We received a lot of good feedback from readers including this:
I've seen some disturbing trends form…. Volunteers are now dictating to the field what they will and won't be doing on their trip instead of being instructed by the field as to what is needed. We missionaries have allowed this…usually under pressure from sending or supporting agencies for an increase in volunteer activity.
The short-term mission trip has become sort of a spiritual merit badge that churches collect…I've actually had leaders, on several occasions, tell me my projects weren't exciting or flashy enough. On the flip side, the teams that come willing to do whatever and are ready to share their faith blow my socks off in the way they glorify Christ during the span of 5 or 6 days.
I pray that we can put the short-term mission trip back into the proper perspective because they can be such wonderful tools for advancing the Kingdom. I hope a lot of leaders will…be challenged and energized to make their short-term mission trip everything it can be for Christ and the sake of the gospel.

Book Review of Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Bresheare

This isn't the indepth kind of book review. I don't have the time, nor the desire for that. Instead, I just wanted to mention reading this book and what I liked about it.

A quick review
If you haven't heard of Mark Driscoll, you must live in a log cabin somewhere in Russia (as I've been for the past three years). All I can say is that God is using this guy. He's still a bit young on the job (a church-planter), but he's gifted and he's working on the humility part.

If you haven't heard of Jesus, you really need to. I know, what an original book topic: Jesus. But you know what? Mark and Gerry really pull it off! This is a great book about the greatest and most controversial man who's ever lived. Now for those who like reading religious books, let me warn you, this isn't for you. This is a deep book, but written with everyday words and some of the better parts are occasionally (seemingly) irreverent.

For your information
I would love to see a book like this come out in France. Of course, the media coverage would be a hard thing to get. But what ran through my mind was all other. I haven't heard of a French equivalent of Driscoll. You need someone with charisma, broad shoulders and loads of talent to pull off a book like this. I'm praying for such men in France.

What other books about Jesus have you found remarkable?

Buy the book on Amazon

Monday, June 15, 2009

Books, Where and When I Read Them

As I was going through the routines common to all men, I had a laugh. I really have books everywhere. It's almost obsessive compulsive. I'm not sure what is the limit, but you can tell me.

Francis Schaeffer's Christian Manifesto in the bathroom. Alcorn's Purity Principle in my school bag. The Deliberate Church, The Power of Mentoring, Mornings and Evenings (Dever/Alexander, Martin Sanders and Charles Spurgeon) at my bedside.
A New Testament in my coat pocket, a cheap Bible (1€50) always at hand and various books by John Piper can be found everywhere (did I mention how much I loved God is the Gospel?). From my bedroom, to the top of the stairs, the door and everywhere in between (almost), you can find books. Then there are the newspapers and magazines.

Most evenings, as I crawl into bed, I'm too tired to even read the growing pile of books. On top of all that, there are many books that BLF asks me to evaluate (and I gladly do). I recently read Vintage Jesus AND Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. Both were good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Importance of Doing Missions as Servants (by Mike Stachura)

To finish our series on short-term missions, we go to “Seven Principles for Highly Effective Short-Term Missions” by Mike Stachura of Operation Mobilization. He points us toward the importance of a Christ-like attitude as we move out to serve those in need.
Nothing is more damaging to cross-cultural missions, short-term or long-term, than a patronizing, paternalistic attitude.  Paul came determined not to present himself, but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  As for Paul, he wanted to be known as Christ's bondservant. A servant's spirit starts in the home church or group with a willingness to do whatever is asked. It is reflected in the team life where all members are willing to take their share of the workload. It means esteeming others, particularly national Christian workers, as better than ourselves.
As we prepare to go and serve this summer, let’s humble ourselves and ask the Lord to change our hearts as we meditate on his sacrifice for us.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)
May God grant you fruitful and joyful service in short-term missions!

So Operation Mobilization does have some thinkers after all. No seriously, I love OM, but I often wonder if we've forgotten that people have gone before us and have things to teach us. I really recommend Mike's seven principles. They may appear obvious, but their not. Nope not even for you. Thats right, you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Teaching as a Short-Term Missions Strategy (by Bill Walsh)

Day four in our series on short-term missions. David Livermore has written a book on this topic that we highly recommend, Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence.
In "American or American’t: A Critical Analysis of Western Training to the World," he addresses a  particular application of the short-term missions strategy: Teaching.
Some say that globally 85% of pastors have had little to no theological training whatsoever. Here at DG International Outreach, we are partnering with an increasing number of ministries using an informal, short-term approach for training pastors in developing nations.
David has some provocative analysis aimed to make us more aware of our cultural blind sides. This longer article is essential reading if you are focused on theological training of church leaders in developing countries.
Indigenous expressions of Christ’s Church exist in every geopolitical nation of the world. The entrepreneurial drive of American culture infiltrates our missions endeavors and therefore spills over into our cross-cultural leadership development initiatives. When we hear about the relentless growth of the global church, we’re inspired to bring our value-added contributions. But while the North American pastors consistently talked about urgency, the nationals consistently talked about the importance of process and of taking time to grow in relationship before developing a strategy for the kinds of collaborative exchanges that are truly needed for mutual benefit.

Absolutely. Teaching AND of course keeping a learning heart as you do so. Just because someone is not theologically trained doesn't mean he's stupid. SPK

Monday, June 8, 2009

We Need Them at Least as Much as They Need Us (By Bill Walsh)

Still following the posts on short-term missions. Everything is already online at Desiring God. But I'll still post it here in the next few days.

On day three of our series on short-term missions, we turn to Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, for an article with some unique twists, "Unexpected Global Lessons: How Short-term Mission Is Becoming a Two-way Street."
[T]he whole apparatus of preparation for short-term trips assumes that the reason Americans invest their time and treasure is to do something for others—to check off a list of activities that will supposedly help advance the gospel. In fact, it is the rare short-term team (with the notable, partial exception of medical and dental missions) that brings such unique skills and cross-cultural sensitivity that they can make a net contribution in their brief visit. Our counterparts in the developing world are more resourceful than we imagine—and we need them at least as much as they need us.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Church-Planting in France (Part 3)

This is the final post of a series of videos by Ed Stetzer. This video is particularly interesting as it is an American giving his impressions of his European church-tour.

John or Joan? The Good News for Transgendered

I thank God for Justin Taylor's blog. Several times this year I've been led through it to think about deep and important things about God and His Gospel. Yesterday he posted a link to Russell Moore's blog. The topic was assigned in a Christian Ethics examination. Here is the very real scenario I've just copy-pasted from JT's blog.

Here's the "ethics dilemma" Russell Moore presented to his ethics class for them to answer for their final:
Joan is a fifty year-old woman who has been visiting your church for a little over a year. She sits on the third row from the back, and usually exits during the closing hymn, often with tears in her eyes. Joan approaches you after the service on Sunday to tell you that she wants to follow Jesus as her Lord.
You ask Joan a series of diagnostic questions about her faith, and it is clear she understands the gospel. She still seems distressed though. When you ask if she’s repented of her sin, she starts to cry and grit her teeth.
“I don’t know,” she says. “I don’t know how…I don’t know where to start…Can I meet with you privately?”
You, Joan, and a godly Titus 2-type women’s ministry leader in your church meet in your office right away, and Joan tells you her story.
She wasn’t born Joan. She was born John. From early on in John’s life, though, he felt as though he was “a woman trapped in a man’s body.” Joan says, “I don’t mean to repeat that old shopworn cliché, but it really is what I felt like.”
Joan tells you that when she was twenty she began the process of “transitioning” from life as a man to life as a woman. She underwent extensive hormone therapy, followed by extensive plastic surgery—including so-called “gender reassignment surgery.” She has lived for the past thirty years—physically and socially—as a woman.
“I want to do whatever it takes to follow Jesus,” Joan tells you. “I want to repent…I just, I don’t know how to do it.”
“I am surgically now a woman. I’ve taken hormones that give me the appearance and physical makeup of a woman,” she says. “Even if I were to put on a suit and tie right now, I’d just look like a woman with a suit and tie. Not to mention the fact that, well, I am physically…a woman.”
“To complicate matters further,” Joan says through tears, “I adopted my daughter, Clarissa, when she was eight months old and she’s ten years old now. She doesn’t know about my past life as…as a man. She just knows me as her Mom.”
“I know the sex change surgery was wrong. I know that my life is twisted. I’m willing to do whatever Jesus would have me to do to make it right,” she says. “But what would Jesus have me to do?”
Joan asks you, “Am I too messed up to repent and be saved? If not, what does it mean for me to repent and live my life as a follower of Jesus? What is right for me to do?”
For Dr. Moore's insightful answer, see
Here's the conclusion:
You see, the scenario about “Joan” isn’t really all that hypothetical. Chances are in your town right now, there are people in that situation. Why don’t they show up in our churches? Is it because they doubt if our gospel is really addressed to them? Is it because we doubt it too?
If Joan comes to your church this Sunday and hears the gospel, if “she” decides to throw away everything “she” knows and follow Christ, will your church be there to love him, and to show him how to stop pretending and to fight his way toward what he was created to be? Maybe it would take a Joan at the altar call to make us question whether we really believe what we say and what we sing. Is there really power, wonder-working power, in the blood of the Lamb? Is our gospel really good news for prodigal sons, even for sons so lost they once thought they were daughters?

Update: The posts are now collected in one printable PDF.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Cool Youth Weekend

Mom blogs about it here: La Ferme des Kapi: Weekend at the Farm

I won't add much. I'd just say that we did something cool. We may have found a theme for next 20 years. As I've been really helped (and motivated) by John Piper's book: Don't Waste Your Life, we thought we would translate the concept to French.
Therefore, we can easily have a Don't Waste Your Sexuality, a Don't Waste Your Money, Don't Waste Your Treasure (aka Jesus) etc…
The concept went down really well. God was clearly working in our hearts. You can be praying that God would be glorified by lives lived fully for Him.

The Effect of Short-Term Missions on Poverty

(Author: Bill Walsh)
For day two in our series on short-term missions, we feature two articles by the Chalmers Center for Economic Development. Their vision is to train the church worldwide to minister holistically to the poor without creating dependency.
The article, "Short-Term Missions Can Create a Long-Term Mess," lays out the challenges and implications of how we serve the poor.
The approach of most short-term mission teams seems to be to do things to the people instead of with the people. This approach exacerbates the feelings of inferiority that already paralyze the poor in my country and the feelings of superiority that often characterize those of us from wealthy countries. This dynamic is particularly problematic here. The government and the church have such a long history of paternalism that the people often believe they cannot do anything without the help of money and resources from others.
"Doing Short-Terms Missions Without Doing Long-Term Harm" reinforces this by showing that to authentically serve the poor we need to examine our mindset.
STM trips can play a positive role in the lives of all those involved, but a different paradigm is needed. Rather than going as "doers," some powerful dynamics can be unleashed if STM teams go as "learners" from the poor or as "co-learners" with the poor.
Deciding what role a short-term team can effectively play is a difficult task. The staff at Chalmers recommends asking questions like these before the team even leaves:
What is the nature of poverty?
What does it take to alleviate poverty?
What is God already doing in this community?
Who are my brothers and sisters there? What issues are they facing?
How does this trip fit into the overall picture?

Source: Desiring God

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Church-Planting in Marseille (Part 2)

I didn't get the time to post this second video of church-planting in southern France. The previous video gave a good (though quick) understanding that France has never had a reformation. So we're peculiar. This video is an interview with Julien Bonnel, a young Frenchman church-planting near Marseille. As a teen, he went to the States and met Jesus there. He got married and (praise God) came back to France to plant churches while working a normal job.

This really rings a bell for me. I also feel that the French are just not ready to recognize pastors that don't have jobs. It's just so weird to them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Church-Planting in Marseille (Part 1)

Stumbled upon this video from Ed Stetzer. I've heard Mark Driscoll sing praises of Stetzer so many times, I thought I would check him out. Turns out, he was just completing a quick tour of Europe: Germany, Switzerland, Italy AND France.

Here is a video of an American church-planter: