Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "On Homosexuality" (Hot Potato #2)

(Word Publishing, 1998)

TITLE: 20 Hot Potatoes Christians are Afraid to Touch (Paperback) - Common
PUBLISHER: Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1998, (240 pages).

"I am not asking that Christian people gloss over biblical teachings or ignore their conviction that homosexual acts are sin. I am not asking that we make a case to justify homosexual behavior. I am simply reminding Christian people that we are supposed to love people - even those people who offend us. I am calling on Christians to reach out and show kindness and affection toward their homosexual neighbors. If we Christians cannot love these neighbors as we love ourselves, then we are violating the command of Jesus (Matt 19:19) and ought to cease calling ourselves His followers. Loving people is more than trying to generate some mushy sentimental emotions. Loving is a commitment to treating people as Jesus would treat them if He were in our places." (Tony Campolo, "Does Christianity Have Any Good News For  Homosexuals?" p109)

"It is very important that all of us distinguish between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior. Homosexual orientation is an inclination to desire sexual intimacy with members of the same sex. Homosexual behavior is 'making love' or seeking sexual gratification through physical interaction with members of the same sex. The first is desire. The second is action. The first is temptation. The second is yielding to temptation." (110)

"Please remember that I do think that homosexual behavior is contrary to the will of God. But I do not think the Scripture should be made to speak in ways which are not in accord with how it was intended to speak in order to make my case. It is too easy for any of us out of intense emotion to use Scripture in inexact ways to affirm what we believe to be right or to condemn what we believe to be wrong. While there is no doubt in my mind that homosexual behavior has always been unacceptable to Christians, I find it interesting to note that the New Testament does not give as much space or attention to this sin as it does to others, such as neglect of the poor or lack of love for others. Actually, Jesus never alludes to homosexuality in His teachings. The fact that homosexuality has become such an overriding concern for many contemporary preachers may be more a reflection of the homophobia of the church than it is the result of the emphasis of Scripture." (115)

Monday, September 18, 2017

BookPastor >> "Faithful Presence" (David E. Fitch)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Nov 16th, 2016.


TITLE: Faithful Presence: Seven Disciplines That Shape the Church for Mission
AUTHOR: David E. Fitch
PUBLISHER: Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016, (256 pages).

How do we manifest Christ's love in a world of brokenness and pain? Is there something Christians can do to counter the social injustice and poverty disparities? Can the Church do more than mere handouts? If there is a genuine desire to be part of the solution, how then do believers go about doing it? According to author David E. Fitch, the answer is in the title of this new book entitled, "Faithful Presence." He defines it as follows:

"Faithful presence names the reality that God is present in the world and that he uses a people faithful to his presence to make himself concrete and real amid the world’s struggles and pain. When the church is this faithful presence, God’s kingdom becomes visible and the world is invited to join with God. Faithful presence is not only essential for our lives as Christians, it’s how God has chosen to change the world. In this book I aim to describe what this faithful presence looks like."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "Answering the Challenge of AIDS" (Hot Potato #1)

(Word Publishing, 1998)
Two thousand years ago, when Jesus was physically present among us, He reached out to lepers. He touched the untouchables. He showed special compassion toward those who had been treated in such a cruel manner by the people around them. His willingness to lovingly lay hands on those who society deemed unclean should set an example for all of us who sing, "I Would Be Like Jesus."

There are some notable examples of Christians who have heeded the challenge which the victims of AIDS have posed for us all. In San Diego, there is a lovely Christian woman who has organized her church friends to start a hospice for those who are dying of AIDS. Realizing that AIDS victims need special love and care which may not readily be available, she has gotten together both the material and the human resources to provide a place where AIDS patients can live out their last days in the context of Christian love. What better way to witness for Christ than to touch the untouchables and to care for those whom the world rejects? What better opportunity to tell the story of God's salvation through Jesus Christ than as good Samaritans?

I believe the AIDS epidemic has provided Christians with a unique opportunity. We have always claimed to "hate the sin and love the sinner" - here is our chance to show them that we love them. By setting up hospices and serving the thousands who are expected to die as a consequence of this disease, we can demonstrate that we are people who love not only in word, but also in deed - which is what true love always does. (Tony Campolo, "How Do We Answer the Challenge of AIDS?" p17)

Monday, September 11, 2017

BookPastor >> "Create vs Copy" (Kem Wytsma)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Nov 18th, 2016.


TITLE: Create vs. Copy: Embrace Change. Ignite Creativity. Break Through with Imagination.
AUTHOR: Ken Wytsma
PUBLISHER: Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2016, (192 pages).

Be willing to change. Be excited about creativity. Exercise our imaginations. Let innovation and passion for new ideas lead the way. Leadership is essentially learning to lead in creative ways. This is the key message in this book, that to create is far better than to copy. Moreover, a creative new idea excites while an imitation tends to bore. Wytsma is not just passionate about intentional creativity, he longs to share this with many and this book is one way he is doing just that. He helps us go back to the basics.

In thinking about creativity, we are reminded that creating is very much a part of our relationship with creation. It is also a direct result of our relationship with God our creator. We learn more about God through our acts of creativity. This includes simple ideas in the head, various products on the shelves, memories of the past, recipes in the kitchen, sculptures in the art studio, sports and strategies, prayer meetings, campaigning, and many more. As long as we are kept creative, there is always something new to begin with. That is why as far as creativity is concerned, there is no end point. For God is constantly creating. It is also redemptive in the sense that creativity expands horizons and presents opportunities for growth. Moreover, the world we live in are constantly changing. If we fail to adapt and to change, we would be left behind. Wystma shares a powerful story of what it means to reach out to poorer countries like Africa. Some African countries have leapfrogged the communications technology moving directly from no-communications to wireless communications. Unlike many places in the US that are still dependent on fixed line infrastructures, such wireless advancements have accelerated the pace of progress in these African countries. No longer is it about white people sending white resources to Africa. Instead, it is about empowering African communities with new infrastructure that excites and motivates them to help themselves! Looking back to the culture state-side, Wytsma notes how modern sustained stress can negatively impact creativity. He then supplies four ways in which we can practice and facilitate creativity.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Midweek Meditation: "Ask Me" (William Stafford)

Photo Credit: Poetry Foundation
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

(William Stafford, 1914-1993, American Poet)                        

Monday, September 04, 2017

BookPastor >> "Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age" (Bob Cutillo)

This review was first published at Panorama of a Book Saint on Nov 25th, 2016.


TITLE: Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age (Gospel Coalition (Faith and Work))
AUTHOR: Bob Cutillo, MD
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016, (208 pages)

What is health for? With more advanced medical technology and world-class healthcare, should we not be happier people? Not really. In fact, there are some disturbing trends that are happening in our era. There are many top quality tests but there is a lack of accuracy in diagnosis. There are many different branches of healthcare but they are more fragmented than ever. There are also that disturbing lopsided orientation toward cure rather than care. With the experience of hindsight and the genuine concern for holistic healthcare, author Bob Cutillo summarizes his concerns and gives insights on what good healthcare looks like as follows:

  • It must be scientifically competent and comes with well-informed choices

  • It needs a measurable and efficient system

  • It must include genuine care

  • There are lots of areas that health insurance often leaves out, which means we need to taper our expectations accordingly.

  • Politics play a big part in healthcare policies

  • Healthcare must involve not only the curative but also the preventative aspect

  • Healthcare also requires vulnerability and trust; and acceptance.

  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017

    Midweek Meditation: "On the Psalms II" (Athanasius of Alexandria)

    "For just as one can find the themes of all the other books in the Book of the Psalms, so, too, what is special to this book is found often in the rest of the Scriptures; that Moses writes a song, that Isaiah sings, that Habakkuk prays with song and in the same way in every book we see the prophecies, lawmaking, and histories. The same Spirit is over all, and each book ministers and fulfills the grace given to it according to what is apportioned to each by the Spirit, to whom all these diverse gifts belong, and yet who is indivisible by nature. So that while the disclosures accord with the variety of gifts of the Spirit in relation to the ministry which each enjoys, yet the whole Spirit is in each book. Frequently, then, each one, in dependence on the Spirit, ministers the word as the need arises; thus, as I said before, Moses at one time or another makes laws, prophecies, or sings, and the prophets while engaged in prophetic utterance at times give commands: 'Wash, make yourselves clean' (Isa 1:16); 'Wash away the evil from your hearts, Jerusalem.' (Jer 4:14). At other times, they record history, as in the Book of Daniel, we read about Suzanna (Dan 12), while in the Book of Isaiah, we read of Rab-shekeh and Senacherib. (Isa 36:22, 37:21 LXX)" (St Athanasius in a letter to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms)

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