Jul 31, 2009

Authorities Abolish House Church in Sichuan; Christians Request Prayer

SICHUAN, China, July 31 /Christian Newswire/ -- Authorities abolished the Christian Church of Huaguan Town, a house church in Huaguan town, Nanbu county, Sichuan province, and arrested three church members on June 29, 2009. Since then, house church members have faced heavy persecution and are asking Christians around the world for prayer.

The church service started in 2002 in a member's house, and has been gathering at a church building built with the help of Christians from Zhejiang province since August 2006. On March 23, 2009 the church was raided by six Public Security Bureau (PSB) and government officers who confiscated both the property of the church and a check with more than 10,000 yuan which was the believers' offerings.

The PSB officers covered the Chinese characters "God Loves the World" on the top of the gate with iron plates. Authorities accused the Christians of being a cult, Falun Gong and a reactionary organization.

Three church leaders, Mr. Chai Yongwen, Ms.Yang Huimin and Mr. Ma Deyan, were taken away for interrogation. Later, Mr. Cai Yongwen received 15 days of administrative detention, and Ms. Yang Huimin received five days of administrative detention.

The Christian Church of Huaguan Town sent a statement to the international community in which they made the following request for prayer, "We hereby request the brothers and sisters to pray for the expansion of the Gospel in the disaster areas of Sichuan, and we implore God to give us His wisdom and strength while dealing with these rulers!"

Contact the Chinese embassy and ask that Christians of the Christian Church of Huaguan Town be allowed to meet freely.

Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong

3505 International Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008

Tel: (202) 495-2000

Fax: (202) 588-9760

Jul 30, 2009

Good Ministry, Bad Ministry, You Decide...

Good Ministry - Proclaiming the glorious truth of salvation in Christ alone with an unsaved friend, sharing your wonderful testimony, then inviting them over for dinner and Bible study.

Bad Ministry - Not bridling your tongue when you speak of them to others while you air their dirty laundry in the prayer meeting when you have not even went to the prayer closet for them yourself.

(James 1:26)

Jul 27, 2009

Missionary in the Pew

Have you ever stopped and thought about your personal effort to reach those around you for Christ. I mean seriously? Besides the exhortation that is given from the Pastor of your church during a sermon that has covered evangelistic passages, do you witness on a regular basis? Do you reach out to your neighbors or talk to strangers about Christ?

Is this a question that is best asked of our fellow Christian who is better at doing this type of thing? You know who they are! They're always doing outreaches, working at soup kitchens, and handing out tracts at the campus they attend school at. That is such a blessed thing that they do that, aren't you glad that God has given them that gift? If only you had that gift too, you would do the same. Wouldn't you?

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
(Mat 28:18-20)

And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:15-16)

and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:46-47)

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld."
(John 20:21-23)

Or, better yet, make sure to share these verses with the missionary in the pew, you know, the one sitting next to you on Sunday.

Jul 21, 2009

Book Review of "The Jesus Paradigm"

(From the Website, and the rear cover of the book) The Jesus Paradigm challenges modern Christians to become completely sold-out followers of Jesus, to make ministry and mission the work of every believer, and to give their primary allegiance to the kingdom of God rather than to any nation, political party, or movement.

At a time when Christianity is often identified with nationalism, a political party, a particular denomination, or even an isolated small group, Dave Black looks to the Anabaptists and their call not for reform, renewal, or revival in the church, but for rebuilding. He echoes that call to Christians today. From church structure to national government, from the personal economic responsibility in the marketplace to parental responsibility in raising children, from torture and militarism by our government to hierarchical authority in our churches, he calls for Christians to look for their answers in the person and message of Jesus, revealed in scripture.

“The author told me that nobody will really be happy with this book,” said Henry Neufeld, owner of Energion Publications. “I’ve read it, and I agree. In fact, I expect it to offend some people. That may sound like an odd thing for a publisher to say about a forthcoming book. But sometimes offense is needed when we have gotten far enough off track. What I do expect is that readers will find it challenging, informative, and above all convicting. I did. You may be annoyed, but you won’t be bored.”

In all the spare time I don't have, I have managed to barrel through this new book that was slated for release yesterday. You can purchase it on Amazon few reviews out there that have already done it justice. Arthur, and Alan, have both posted theirs online and will provide you with two good perspectives on the whole of the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the onset. I am hesitant to say that I affirmed all of what David Black has written, but found myself nodding in agreement often. From the onset of the book Black establishes his purpose, and quite remarkably remains true. Unfortunately, some of Black's assessments will be taken from the typical perspective that is adopted by those who are cautious and bold in their commentary of the modern Church. Its intriguing to see that those who have served as missionaries (like Black) develop a view of people that changes how we adhere and put into practice the commands of Christ. This 'Paradigm' that Black tries to illustrate is heavily described by his comparisons and descriptions of the ever unpopular Anabaptists. Like so many in the days of their persecutions, the Anabaptists, or those who would align to their teachings in our day, are marginalized and seen as antagonistic toward the established norm. Black does a fair job at assessing the current pragmatism we see today and challenges it not with reform, but restoration. As the book's title suggests, Black creates the 'Jesus Paradigm' by using scriptural practice as the standard and calls for an analysis of what we've become. The end surprised me with it's seemingly political commentary and spun the context of the previous chapters into a different direction than I had anticipated. The end brought it all to an amicable conclusion. To my pleasure I found this to be a fun read. It was smooth and hit the hard points fast and intelligently. By no means was it systematic or ever gave the impression as such, but what it did do was show the political nature of our current church practice, and why restoration is often rationalized away or ignored. The implications of such a paradigm shift would shake the fetters of nominal and institutional Christianity so much that the culture we know as 'Christendom' would give way to the true witness of those who hear the commands of our Lord, and obey.

(Energion is offering free worldwide shipping, order yours today! You won't regret it!)

Jul 19, 2009

Temporary Display Problems

It appears that there are some issues going on with the image hosting of the blog. I am going to wait them out and see if they fix themselves. They'll be fixed soon if not. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Jul 18, 2009

Get Ready to Rumble!

Normally I would've posted something related to my recent anniversary. It has been a pleasure of mine to reflect back on the former life I once lived and praise God for His mercy and grace. The 13th of this month has passed and gone and one more year (counting 5 now) has come since the last time I was in bondage to drug addiction and living in the streets. I wish I had time to offer up some sort of inspirational musing, but I don't have time! It's funny, the book of Ecclesiastes says that the sleep of a laborer is sweet (Ecc 5:12). Indeed, I'm sure that it is, especially once you finally get it! I am so looking forward to the day when I will go to bed without homework needing to be done!

I suppose the one reflection I could offer at this very moment is this. God is good. He has kept me and has been sanctifying me for this purpose this very day and I continue to look forward as I am transformed by the renewing of my mind (Rom 12:2) and going from glory to glory (2Cor 3:18)! What great inspiration this has given me and sustained me in the past few years as I've weathered much adversity, trial, even persecutions, and tribulation. At this point, the purpose of all these things is still only assumption, but where goal setting as served as motivation in the past, true motivation can be sought after be desiring to glorify God and the name of His son Jesus Christ (1Cor 10:31-33) regardless of the results of my labor. If it isn't for Him, it is in vein.

I do not wish to waste my life, and in all my busyness, still feel as thought I am. What a struggle. At this point I am wrapping up 3 major papers, 200 more hours of interning and preparing for graduation with a degree, an accomplishment that I would've never imagined. My hope and prayer is for a continuation of ways to redeem the time (Eph 5:16) that was once wasted but is now given for harvesting and the work I've been allowed to study for and prepare for will be used of God to help others and to serve them in humility. This is my desire, this is my hope. If I were to sum it up now in a single statement this is what I would say,

"Down with upward mobility and class assertion amongst my peers and our dignified social persona. Up with downward mobility, humility, and sacrificial servitude for those who are yet to hear the glorious Gospel. Let not my accomplishments be for my benefit and well being, but for the labor to be done amongst the nations, and those who are waiting to meet our Lord."

Hear the prayers of your servant Lord, hear my cry, and please let others beckon to this call.

Peace be with you,

Jul 12, 2009

John Calvin's Birthday and Celebrity Veneration

As the Christian world has officially celebrated the man who was John Calvin on the 500th anniversary of his birthday, I only have one question and comment related to the whole ordeal.

What good does it do to scratch your head and comment about the reverence given to a dead entertainer (ie. Michael Jackson) when we've managed to execute the exact same idolatry for a man who has not only been dead for 400+ years, but also to plan the idolatry years in advance?


Jul 7, 2009

Darlene Rose : I Will Never Leave Thee

"Why someone would be so afraid to answer the call to be a missionary I will never understand." -Darlene Diebler-Rose

Quite simply, I've heard a few powerful accounts of the working of God in the life of a missionary and this is one of the best I can recall. I would highly recommend you set aside an hour to listen to this message. It will move you beyond tears and encourage you to weep for joy that our Lord knows and tends to His children. It is an oldie, and you can still purchase the CD from Focus on the Family for $12.00.

Jul 6, 2009

World's Oldest Christian Bible Digitized

I had heard that this project had been underway for quite sometime. Glad to see that it has been completed! I tried accessing the link this morning to no avail. Hopefully it will work when you try!

LONDON (AP) — The British Library says the surviving pages of the world's oldest Christian Bible have been reunited — digitally.

The library says the early work known as the Codex Sinaiticus had been housed in four separate locations across the world for more than 150 years. It became available Monday for perusal on the Web at http://www.codexsinaiticus.org so scholars and others can get a closer look.

The library says the work will allow scholars to further study the "unique treasure."

The project united organizations from Great Britain, Germany, Russia and Egypt. Each possessed parts of the 1,600-year-old manuscript.

They worked together to publish new research into the history of the Codex and transcribed 650,000 words during a four-year period.

Jul 5, 2009

Letters to the Church: Century 1 The Beginning


I am thinking about starting a series of posts that will appear here from time to time @ the Deliver Detroit Blog. I’m going to call it, "Letters to the Church: Century 1." Here’s what I’m thinking, select an author of one of the NT books, whether they are a Gospel or Epistle, and write them with concern for the current state of the Church, maybe a report or request for advisement, encouragement, or exhortation, or even reverse it, and encourage them, maybe even view it as a report back to those who’ve shed blood for the message we here in America are allowed to claim without facing death. Or use your own creative license and choose the content you would submit. Select from the following,

(Some have been spoken for already, here is a list of the remaining options!)

John-Mark the author of the Gospel of Mark

Luke the Historian

Matthew the Tax Collector

Paul the Apostle

James the Apostle

Peter the Apostle

If you decide to participate that’d be awesome! Please remember to be reverent and consider that this is not meant to be satire or low brow entertainment, but a means of drawing a comparison between then and now. Let me know which one you’ve chosen and a possible timeline for the submission. I hope to start this series soon! I’m encouraged that it will be fruitful and would like to see how others living and being the 21st century church would write back to the 1st century church. While there will be joy, I’m almost certain there too will be lament. I’m looking forward to your responses, be it yay or neigh. Contact me with your selection or ideas here as soon as possible, I hope to begin the posting as soon as possible!

Jul 3, 2009

RePost 2007: The Paradigm of Christian Living

John 15:18-20 says,

18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

Can we rightfully examine ourselves against these scriptures? Is it possible that our minds tell us we do not have to adhere to this because it is entirely too difficult to be a Christian in today’s society? Can we imagine what it must have been like to walk with Jesus himself and be a light in a dark world? Do we speak of righteousness, love, and Christian living to the extent that we are mocked, scoffed, and sometimes even threatened for the things we stand for? Have you ever experienced co-workers, family, friends, or strangers avoiding you purposely because of the light you do shine? If this is not outwardly and inwardly a characteristic of your Christian walk, we must ask if we are Christian or a Hypocrite.

I John 2:15-17

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

What causes Christian living to become even more difficult than persecution? Let’s reflect on the aspect that non-believers, the lost, unsaved, and other pagan religions are constantly casting their eyes upon us to watch us fall. What are some of the most efficient ways to make us fall in this world? Being of the world, loving our materialistic possessions, bank accounts, self-righteousness, ego, pride, and participating in the God-less culture of our nation is condemned by violating the Second Commandment.

Exodus 20:4-6 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Worldly desires, thoughts, and living are indicative of either the narrow path or the broad path. Satan delights in the ease of steering believers off the path to the Kingdom. How is it that we can allow such trivial, minor things to consume our social patterns, habits, and language to the extent of eradicating the light within? Is serving the Father too painstaking? Is it shameful to proclaim the Gospel to the world? Is it too difficult to trade in the old life for the new? Is it not that being born again brings about new life, desires, and a clean, pure heart? If we are not walking in the ways of the Lord but of the world than we must examine ourselves against the scripture and we must dedicate our lives to the Lord.

Philippians 2:12-18

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

He laid down his life so that we may have everlasting life. Does the Lord not deserve every soul for which he gave his life on the cross for? Is your soul one of those souls? Are you like Jesus and accused of being a friend to sinners? We are called to share the love gift of Jesus Christ, not withhold it treasure it as if it were a secret only we know. Jesus Christ proved his love for us by dying on the cross 2000 years ago. We can prove our love for him by taking the Gospel to the world. We must bare our cross and die to self, the world, and our life must be resurrected with the Savior and reflect his light upon the world.

John 12:25

25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

In conclusion I urge you to look in the mirror of the Lord. Does your reflection shine back his grace and love? Or does it reflect an outward appearance of faith that contains an inward reflection of disbelief?

I John 2:28-29

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

Good Ministry, Bad Ministry, You Decide...

Good Ministry - Praying and fasting before going out to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Bad Ministry - Track bombing a buffet after gorging on a mountain of food, leaving a meager tip, and then asking folks if you can take pictures of them holding their tracts for your blog.

Jul 2, 2009

Sunday Service: The Name is Saint, Saint James.

When I speak to brothers and sisters in Christ I always hope to have conversations that edify and encourage one another. This is a primary motivating factor for me, and it is something I enjoy doing very much. In some of these conversations I'm positive that there are things I say that disturb, concern, or sometimes even offend (albeit unintentionally), and likewise in return. One of the things that I've alarmingly noticed more than before is the usage of titles when describing other believers, referencing them and their works, or when addressing them.

For instance, the term "Pastor" used in the manner that indicates position or stature. Most the occurrences that have caused concern is when I hear it used by people as if it were a proper name. "Pastor says that he's going to have a sloppy joe and then hit the sack, or Pastor is excited about his new set of commentaries, and Hey, Pastor! How are you?" For the sake of argument, and to the contrary of belief that I abhor authority or leadership, I have nothing against knowing someone as fulfilling the duties of the gifting they have received from our Lord, or better yet, put that gifting to use in the gathering of the Saints through servitude and humility. It is a great honor and a high calling to be placed into a position that will call for greater accountability before the Lord and a gift that should not be taken lightly.

However, the centrality of the pastoral position in the modern service has skewed our perceptions of the gifting itself and what the tenants of it's application may be in the gathering of the Saints. A report of the social tendencies and common behaviors of mankind to elevate others to positions of celebrity or authoritative status could easily indicate (historically, statistically, and definitively) that it is not uncommon for leaders to rise to a status of high importance amongst their respective groups. So is it easier to be led by men and therefore preferable, or is it better to be led by Christ and follow His commands?

The argument can, and probably will be made that following after a pastor is obeying the commands of Christ because the scripture states that we should submit to our elders (1 Peter 5:5). Or, is this a bad example of what elders are, what their functions are, and the roles of the rest of the members in the body? I think something could be said for the importance of knowing these things, and most importantly re-assessing the role of clergy and laity while comparing it to the priesthood of all believers,

The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ annulled the Aaronic priesthood, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews. There is no need to continue offering up literal expiatory sacrifices. As the perfect Son of God and High Priest, Jesus established a new covenant (Heb. 9:15-22) with better promises (Heb. 8:6) when he offered himself (Heb. 7:27) as the perfect victim once for all (Heb. 7:27) as our substitute (Heb. 7:27) and ransom (Heb. 9:15). By his death he took away our sins (Heb. 9:28), made us perfect (Heb. 10:14), obtained for us eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12), opened a new and living way in and through him to God's throne of grace, and sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12). He now invites every believer with a clean conscience (Heb. 9:14) to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19) to offer continually spiritual sacrifices (Heb. 13:15-16) as priests in Christ. (See Reference)

But yet, why do we see the pastor revered as if he were the sole mediator or more important than ourselves or others, and why do we replace their names with "Pastor" proper as if he is no longer a man or brother, servant, saint, co-laborer?

I suppose today, I'll just be Saint James. Matter of fact, from here on out, I wish to be known as Saint. If for some odd reason this post infers that I have an aversion to authority or calling folks pastor, you're deadon to the latter, but maybe in need of further inquiry on the former.

Peace be with you,

Jul 1, 2009

Persecuted Christians Really Exist

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)-- A Christian man was beaten to death in Pakistan's Punjab province for drinking from a tea cup “designated for Muslims,” the latest in several attacks against the Christian minority in this region, local Christians and rights investigators said Friday, June 12.

Advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) said it learned that “radical Muslims” running a tea stall beat Ishtiaq Masih last month after he ordered tea at a roadside stall in Machharkay village where his bus stopped “to allow passengers to relieve themselves.”

“When Ishtiaq went to pay for his tea, the owner noticed that he was wearing a necklace with a cross and grabbed him, calling for his employees to bring anything available to beat him for violating a sign posted on the stall warning non-Muslims to declare their religion before being served,” ICC said.

Ishtiaq had reportedly not noticed the warning sign before ordering his tea, as he ordered with a group of his fellow passengers. “The owner and 14 of his employees beat Ishtiaq with stones, iron rods and clubs, and stabbed him multiple times with kitchen knives as Ishtiaq pleaded for mercy.”

Read More Here, here, and here