Mar 26, 2011

Introduction to Hinduism from

The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 5th EditionI have always been an advocate of educating oneself about other world religions. When I was doing my undergrad I had the priviledge of taking a few philosophy courses that included surveying and investigating culture through world religions. A helpful book on the subject The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 5th Edition by James W. Sire also helps evaluate other world religions through an unashamed Christian lens.

If you ever interact with other world religions, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Judaism, you know that it is beneficial to at least understand their faith and know the talking points. It is hard to win the respect of other in conversation if you have not at least considered or possess knowledge of their faith. has published a course on the topic of Hinduism at their website.

From Dr. Timothy Tennet the website describes his course as an,
"In-depth survey of philosophical and popular Hinduism’s historical and theological themes. Exposure to current strategies being used to bring the gospel to Hindus and how Christian theology is being formulated in the Indian context."

Mar 25, 2011

Mourning is wise, and mourning death brings life - in memory of my Mother

Grief. The word itself imposes ominous undertones. When considered in the context of the loss of something you cherish or of great worth, it can strike a hard blow to any one's heart. Succinctly defined, grief is imposed by some cause of sorrow, or an event that causes affliction. Grief then, is usually found occurring in close association with mourning.

I believe grief is most profound in the expression of losing someone you care about. Experiencing the death of a loved one can prove to be very challenging. Amidst the various trials life is proven to offer, none are met with as much trepidation as is death. But, death can be confounding in its own right. Some accept it, some deny it, many do not think about it, and some run headlong toward it. The consensus is a mixed bag that has little effect on the end result of death's presence in our world.

Ten out of ten of us have to face death, no matter what.

Today marks one year since the passing of my beloved mother Jeanette. Her final breaths were drawn struggling with Cancer and other complications on March 25th, 2010 at approximately 6pm. She expired shortly after my brother and I had been able to say our final goodbyes, choke back the tears and acknowledge that our loss was inevitable. For the first time in our lives we were going to be without the backbone of our family and readily, we would both admit, it was scary knowing that we would no longer have her strength and resolve to fall back on in times of need.

The comedy of the relationship my brothers and I had with our mother is comforting. She was no gentle, dainty, and parasol toting woman who giggled shyly while handsome gentlemen passed by. She was a Harley riding, cigarette smoking, factory-rat whose perfume was hydraulic fluid from a General Motors transmission plant. But on the flip side, she was our best friend, confidant, counselor, inspiration, and gentle nurturing mother. She was the best mother we ever had. She was a strong foundation on which we were able to inherit strong values, work ethic, and determination that pushed for justice, equality, and devotion for the things we loved. Most importantly, she taught us the importance of sacrificing yourself for the welfare of your family.

She is deeply missed.

Coming to the thirtieth year of my life, I would have never guessed all that has happened, was happening, and was going to happen, would culminate in the events that took place one year ago today. I have not written about these events prior to today out of various respects, but mostly, because I have not known much of what to say about it all. I do know that of all that my eyes have witnessed in the realm of life and in death, there is no way to sufficiently answer all the questions that arise when we lose someone.

Reflecting back on that day, one year ago, I recall vividly the silence that shushed the room, and the great distance from my mother that I experienced as I sat next to her bed. She was gone, but her body still lie beside me. I kept waiting for her to take another breath, and it never came. I wanted to cry, but I was also relieved she was no longer gasping for air. I was confused and unsure of my emotions and wanted to be angry, but could not muster the strength to express it. All I knew was nothing, and nothing sure felt different than having everything all figured out.

You see, that day was a sober reminder. It was a visit to the house of mourning, a solemn reminder that hit so close to home that I could do nothing but call on Jesus Christ, and the Father in Heaven, and beg for comfort, or else I would have not made it through that night.
It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecc 7:2-4)
If someone would have came to me that evening and spouted off Romans 8:28 and said everything is going to be all good because I am a believer, I might have sneered and gave a puzzling look. At that point, telling me that this working out of my mother's suffering benefits my good makes her a means to an end for my own purpose. On the other hand, the author of Ecclesiastes demonstrates that a visitation to the house of mourning is more purposeful, if not rewarding, than laughter and festivities. But for me, reflecting on the death at the very moment death entered the room through the final breath of a loved one, my own mortality quickly came into view. Fundamentally, the wisdom found in the house of mourning does work good in the heart of he who is found there. But going there is not always the first, or preferable choice. We all too often are there involuntarily.

Standing at the doorstep of reality, my spirit was thrust to its lowest point and I could no longer rely on the flesh, but only hope in Christ. No longer having an opportunity to plead the truth of the redeeming sacrifice of the Christ to my mother, her eternal state was then placed into the hands of a just and merciful God. I no longer had to wrestle with uncertainty because I had resolved to trust God in all his goodness, and accept  that which he has given me to handle.

I always think about my mother, her life, and what it meant to my brothers and I. And in her absence, I find myself leaning evermore confidently in the consistence of Christ and his mercy. That day my mother died, I became more intimately aware of why the Savior lives. He has come to proclaim that in order to have life, we must first die, and to die with Christ allows us to be raised in newness of life with him. Going into the house of mourning at the cost of my mother's earthly life granted wisdom for some that day, and I pray, it continues to hold its testimony, that all man shall perish, and reflecting on that encourages our need for a savior. We may lose our breath and our flesh may pass into death, but for those in Christ Jesus, death is no longer a dreaded event or consequence, but a great reprieve from the afflictions of this world.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Mat 5:4)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (Jas 1:12)
Jeanette M. Lee December 16th, 1955 - March 25th, 2010
We miss you.

Mar 20, 2011

If you were an orphan, would you want help? Help an orphan today!

Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
(Isa 1:17)

Ever since this little boy has been brought to my attention, his situation has burdened my heart greatly. I suppose, due to my line of work, I have a propensity to advocate for the "little guy" or the "underdog." I believe it might be just more than the vocational essence driving me though. I believe it is because the underdog status resonates with me, in my spirit, very deeply. Andrey S., is a child with Down Syndrome. He is currently in an Ukrainian orphanage. At the age of 4 he is currently in line to be transferred to a 'mental institution' where most children (90%) do not make it through the 1st year. The conditions are poor, the social interaction is very little, and the digression of their condition is drastic. The cost to help out this child ranges from $20k to $25k on average.

What I am asking you here today on this blog is to give what you can, even if it is just $5. If just 200 people gave $100, Andrey would be halfway home. The biggest hurdle for this child's adoption is the funds. Once they reach a certain point, Reece's Rainbow, the organization involved in helping advocate for Andrey, will begin notifying potential families and alerting others of the grants available to help him be adopted. If you have a blog, please re-post this, if your assembly is looking for someone to help in benevolence, please plead this boy's case! Re-post this on your FaceBook or Twitter account. Whatever you do, do something! Pray, Fast, Pay, or Adopt him!

I will post the information concerning Andrey S., and the organization currently helping collect funds to create a grant for the child. After the information concerning the child, you will find some points of information that I collected to help alleviate ancillary concerns that may make donating worrisome. If you have any questions, please comment below and I will answer them the best I can.

Boy, Born December 28, 2006
Andrey is a tiny little monkey!   HE REALLY NEEDS A FAMILY.   He has blonde hair and blue eyes. He has also has strabismus, which can be corrected surgically here in the US. Andrey will greatly benefit from early intervention therapy, and will just blossom the way all of our other children have! This little one has an ASD and a PDA, with some impairment of circulation. He will need heart surgery when he gets home.

From a missionary who visited with him in November 2010:  " Andrey seems to have regressed since the last photo that was taken of him. He has very low muscle tone and, while he is able to sit up on his own, his not able to stand, even with help. He was playing with toys and I got lots of smiles and laughter out of him when I tickled him. He definitely has some significant delays but I believe he could truly blossom with the love and therapy a family would provide. Oh how I pray he gets the chance…"
From one of our adoptive families who visited with him in May 2009: " He is such a little cutie! I am not sure if he is sitting on his own because he was propped against this fence outside and I didn't get a chance to snuggle him. But he is good size, a bit small for a 2 year old, but with therapy and stimulation, it would only be a matter of time before he thrives!! "
From his caregivers in April 2010:  Selectively comes into contact with adults. Has commitment to the toys: rattles, musical toys.  Self-sitting. Not walking yet.   Eat with spoon, drinking from a cup with an adult.

  • Andrey S. was most likely the child of parents who willfully terminated their rights because of his special needs as a child with Down Syndrome.
  • Andrey is NOT part of a 'token' or 'novelty' demographic of children that US citizens target for adoption. Children with Down Syndrome are NOT a fad. They often encumber families with medical costs/care, time constraints, and constant engagement and behavioral monitoring. Along with the medical costs, the sheer challenge of socializing and raising a child with Down Syndrome is daunting. It would indeed take a special family to desire adoption of one of these children.
  • The specifics about how Andrey actually entered the orphanage and the strata/demographical data concerning his parents and their situation are not available at this time, and probably would not be available to anyone beside the adoptive family, and the social workers involved in the adoption.
  • Andrey is in an orphanage located inside the Ukraine. The Ukraine is not known for child trafficking and illegal payments to families for children.  They in fact are very restrictive regarding foreign adoptions and have closed the doors for outsiders in the past. There is current potential for new legislation that will re-enact the moratorium, but has been tabled in the latest legislature meetings.
  • Trafficking of children to the United States by countries who participate in illegal adoption activities were halted by the U.S. State Department in 2008 (Guatemala and Cambodia). The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption has been enacted and created to monitor, regulate, and standardize these situations.
  • Ukraine is not party to this convention but still has a US embassy in Kiev, regulates all adoptions to foreigners very tightly, and requires adopting families to be married couples and under the age of 45. This is on top of the requirements the United States imposes on families who adopt children. They also must consider the adoptee
  • Contributing to assist Andrey will NOT be contributing to an organized effort to traffic children to the United States, especially Down Syndrome children.
Some more facts about adoptions in Ukraine,

·  2009 adoptions: 610 children
·  Age/Gender: 53% Female, none under 1 year of age, 30% between 1 to 4 years old, in 2008.
·  Estimated Total Cost: $30,000+
·  Profile: 70% of children are age 5 or older; 30% are between 1 and 4 years old (2008).
·  Parent Ages: Prospective adopting parents must be at least 21 years and the maximum age difference between the adopting parents and the prospective adopted child is 45 years.
·  Family Status: Married couples only may adopt from Ukraine.
·  Travel: Usually two trips required. Only one parent required for second trip. First trip is 2 to 3 weeks long. Second trip is 1 week long. If only one trip, 5 to 6 weeks.
·  Timeline: From submission of dossier until appointment date, 5 to 12 months.

Why use Reece's Rainbow to help Andrey get adopted?
  • I spoke with the organizations founder, Andrea Roberts a few times already, and intend to maintain contact with her concerning Andrey's plight, and she herself is a mother of a child with Down Syndrome.
  • Reece's Rainbow is NOT an adoption agency, they are a granting/advocating agency. The more money that is available for Andrey's adoption, the more likely he WILL be adopted.
  • Reece's Rainbow is a 501(c)3 non-profit agency that would receive ZERO dollars in compensation for assisting with Andrey's adoption. However, when a donation is made to a specific child, the Voices of Hope Fund receives 10% of that donation to go toward assisting other children and advocating for them as well.
  • Andrea has assured me that the bulk of the cost for these adoptions in are consumed in the international travel and legal fees with both US and foreign entities. At least $9000.00 can be assumed to go straight to the Ukrainian government for costs alone.
  • As a side note. The adults I attend to on my caseload at work who reside in specialized residential settings can cost up to $3000.00 per month and receive minimal care. They are far from deprived, but are assuredly not "well" taken care of. With the cost of care being so high in an industrialized nation for adults, I could only imagine the costs for children in Ukraine with special needs.
  • Since 2006 Reece's Rainbow has helped place 500 children with HIV, Down Syndrome, and other medical special needs situations.
Here is an article concerning a couple who adopted in Ukraine, and received full grant funding for the actual adoption through Reece's Rainbow,

Believe it or not, I have found it next to impossible to dig up dirt on this organization. Since we have begun advocating for Andrey, his grant fund has grown by 45%.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
(Gal 6:10)

Please join me in praying for Andrey. I hope you can support his adoption.You can donate directly through PayPal. 

Mar 15, 2011

Book Review: Radical by David Platt

What is your dream? If you are a Christian, is your dream different that the one your unbelieving friend, spouse, or neighbor dreams each night? Do you both have a common dream? Maybe the American dream?

Being Christian in America can become easy living. Most American Christians enjoy the pleasures of their own vehicles, theatrically lit sanctuaries, and charismatic speakers that deliver relevant and punch messages, week in and week out.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American DreamAuthor David Platt attempts to weigh in with a new perspective on American Christianity in Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Platt evaluates the radical discipleship of New Testament Christianity and compares it to contemporary examples of Christendom. An unlikely critic, shepherding a 4,000 member church in Birmingham, Alabama, listening to a "mega-church" minister speak on radical separation from the American Dream creates an interesting dichotomy. If what Platt evaluates as a stark contrast between today's example of "discipleship" and the same "discipleship" laid out in scripture is true, we have a major disconnect.

Platt diligently demonstrates the difference in devotion through several means. When you can compare parking lots populated with millions of dollars in vehicles, bright lit meeting places, and freedom to worship when and where you please with secret meeting places, dimly lit gathering rooms, and bicycling from one meeting to another risking your life and not see a need for re-assessment of value, then something might be terribly wrong. Platt cleverly shows his readers how singular devotion to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ concerning devotion, giving, and fulfillment of the great commission in all that we do can revolutionize your life. The stupor and haze of the American Dream no longer has to confound your judgment concerning putting your own hands to the plow.

This book will encourage you to take a good hard look at your current situation, place it in perspective with the lives of the disciples, and other radical believers the world around, and allow you to make a fair assessment of the necessity for change in today's believers. I encourage you to pick it up today if you have not already purchased it. You may read the first chapter for free here.

David Platt has recently released a book called Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God.

“I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”.

Faith that's quotable: Jim Elliot

I have been reading Radical, by David Platt. I am almost finished, and will be posting a review soon. It has been a good read thus far. I thought I would share a quote from the book he utilizes with you that comes from a modern missionary whose life was ended taking the Gospel to the lost,
image from
Surely those who know the great passionate heart of Jehovah must deny their own loves to share in the expression of His. Consider the call from the Throne above, "Go ye," and from round about, "Come over and help us," and even the call from the damned souls below, "send Lazarus to my brothers, that they come not to this place." Impelled then, by these voices, I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish. So what if the well-fed church in the homeland needs stirring? They have the Scriptures, Moses, and the Prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bank books and in the dust on their Bible covers. American believers have sold their lives to the service of Mammon, and God has His rightful way of dealing with those who succumb to the spirit of Laodicea. -Originally excerpted from Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliiot by Elisabeth Elliot

Mar 14, 2011

Book Review: Keep Your Greek, Strategies For Busy People by Constantine R. Campbell

Keep Your Greek: Strategies for Busy PeopleAre you a Greek Student? Are you an accomplished Greek Scholar? Are you a diligent minister of the word who has let the knowledge of the languages creep into the recesses of your mind? Are you discouraged by the reclaiming of once prominent recall of the Greek from your overbearing and busy schedule?

These are all great questions with great answers in this new book from Constantine R. Campbell. This new release from Zondervan brings together a series of blog posts that were previously posted at the author's blog Read Better, Preach Better, and offers them in an easy, engaging, and encouraging format. The blog posts now converted to chapters in the book are complete with responses from the blog on each post, and now subsequent chapter. Campbell gives cause, justification, and technical advice that is both practical and wise. With the inclusion of quotes from respected scholars and teachers of Greek, this book reinforces the student or graduate of Greek studies with motivation to serve God through diligent study and understanding. In just under 90 pages, Keep Your Greek converses and equips you with tools, tips, tricks, and categorizes useful resources, web pages, and other materials to get you into the game...or for those who have forgotten their Greek, back into it!

I loved this! As a blogger, and active blog reader, I found it exciting to see a dialog transpiring between the author and his audience. The chapters were helpful, and the practical responses offered by the commentators made the whole discussion real. For me, a mere student of the Koine Greek, I found the tips from those much more experienced than I helpful and even preventative in my own labors to acquire a "dead" language. This book not only helps you internalize language acquisition as a task of love, but also reinforces that the Koine is in no way dead, but perfectly alive, so long as you engage it!

I received this book at no charge in exchange for an unbiased review. You can see other entries concerning this book during its blog tour March 14th through the 18th at the Koinonia Blog.

Mar 12, 2011

Good Ministry, Bad Ministy, You Decide...

Good Ministry: Forsaking all of your possessions for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel. (Mark 10:29)

Bad Ministry: Forsaking all thinking that you will gain in all back personally instead of in kind from those you meet on the way. (Mark 10:30)