Friday, December 24, 2010

The Digital Story of the Nativity

How the Nativity might have been if the internet were around in the ancient near east!

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Leo Harrington

Leo on the day he joined King of Grace church.
Leo Harrington went on to be with the Lord this past Wednesday afternoon after a sudden illness. It was very sad to see him pass so suddenly and the memory of his last days with his wife Maureen by his side will remain with me. But most of all I will remember the life of this man. I met Leo when he attended our Alpha course in 2007. We co-hosted that year with our friends at Ward Hill Church. Leo and his wife came because of their long-standing relationship with Pastor Alex Burgess and Maureen's recent friendship with my wife, Peg. They came and sat through the talks and Leo listened and wrestled with the truths of Christianity. As the course progressed, God gently drew Leo to himself out of the Jehovah Witness background that had painted such a wrong picture of Christianity for Leo into the wonderful grace and glory of God in Christ. Leo was baptized in January, 2008 and joined our church shortly after that. He was so grateful to be rescued from his sins and adopted into God's family and it showed.  He was always eager to be there for worship on Sunday and loved being around his friends and church family and worshiping with us in song and the word. I can still see his smiling face and hear his eager appeals to help him learn more about God. Amidst his battles with sickness, he somehow found the energy to help take care of our church building. He and his wife were such a part of the life of our church family - many in our church befriended Leo and Maureen and will miss him so very much.

Leo being prayed for at his baptism.
Please come join us at King of Grace Church, Tuesday, December 21st from 3-6:30 for his viewing and at 7 pm for his funeral celebration. We will take time to remember his life and celebrate the blessing he has been. And we will commit him to his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ who died for his sins and rose to life for his justification. Because of the Good Shepherd, Leo is in God's presence right now having the very best Christmas ever. We are so grateful for him and for the new life in Christ his Savior has given him.

Come to celebrate and say good bye to our friend.

Viewing: 3-6:30 pm, Tuesday, Dec 21st
Funeral: 7 pm, Tuesday, Dec 21st
King of Grace Church
28 Chadwick St.
Bradford, MA 01835
(978) 374-6562

Graveside Service: 
12 pm, Wednesday, Dec 22nd
Westlawn Cemetery
7 New Estate Road
Littleton, MA
(978) 540-2480


Donations made be made to cover funeral expenses to King of Grace Church, attn. Leo Harrington (or you can use this PayPal button.)




Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Some New England Phrases

I love how New Englanders speak. There are so many unique phrases that are endearing. Due perhaps to television and other media the New England dialect is morphing into something sounding more like the Midwest or Southwest dialect. But for now, here are some phrases to enjoy, some taken from the Wicked Good Guide to Boston English by Adam Gaffin.
  • "So don't I" - A negative positive, usually said elsewhere as "So do I." 
  • "Ghoulsticka" - somebody who stays close to home base in a game of Hide-And-Go-Seek. 
  • "Ollie Ollie In Come Free" - what the ghoulsticka says when he beats the seeker to the ghouls.
  • "Light dawns ova Mahblehead" - an epiphany of an obvious truth.
  • "No-Suh"...."Yes-Suh" - What is said in an argument after nothing else works.
  • "Wicked Good" - extremely good but better.
  • "I hosie that chair" - that chair is mine because I spoke first.
  • "Down Cellah" - located in the basement.
Do you know any other "New England-isms"?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why We Share the Truth and Love of Christ with a Disillusioned World

Warning: This material is very somber and intense, but a sober reminder of the reality of life without the purpose we can only receive from an infinite, wise and all-good God.

What he left behind: A 1,905-page suicide note
By David Abel , Boston Globe Staff
In the end, no one really knows what led Mitchell Heisman, an erudite, wry, handsome 35-year-old, to walk into Harvard Yard on the holiest day in his faith and fire one shot from a silver revolver into his right temple, on the top step of Memorial Church, where hundreds gathered to observe the Jewish Day of Atonement.
But if the 1,905-page suicide note he left is to be believed — a work he spent five years honing and that his family and others received in a posthumous e-mail after his suicide last Saturday morning on Yom Kippur — Heisman took his life as part of a philosophical exploration he called “an experiment in nihilism.’’..... 
“Every word, every thought, and every emotion come back to one core problem: life is meaningless,’’ he wrote. “The experiment in nihilism is to seek out and expose every illusion and every myth, wherever it may lead, no matter what, even if it kills us.’’
Over the years, as he became more immersed in his work, often laboring over it 12 hours a day, Heisman shared bits with friends and family but never elaborated on the extent of his nihilism — his hardened view that life is vapid and nonsensical, that values are pretense, that the “unreasoned conviction in the rightness of life over death is like a god or a mass delusion.’’.....
As his sister, Laurel Heisman, spent last week sifting through what remains of his things — a poster in German, a well-made bed, piles of books in a small room shrouded with a dark curtain — she said she received a separate, posthumous note from him asking that she preserve a website he created to publish his book, a burden she has agreed to bear.
“I love you,’’ he wrote to her.
She wishes she could have made him see more of the beauty of life, and how we create our own value and give our own meaning to life. She might have taken him up a mountain or held him more closely.
“He just told us the safe things, because he knew we would have tried to stop him,’’ she said. “It’s really hard. It’s not like someone who was really depressed because they lost a lover. His whole ideology was wrapped in this concept of nihilism. I wish we could have made him see things differently.’’
 Read the whole article here.

HT: Dave Herring

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to Name a Church

Jared Bridges has a really funny post on naming a church. It looks like we are somewhat safe from his satire with a name like, "King of Grace Church", but perhaps not.  Enjoy these excerpts:
While there’s ample biblical precedent for the naming of animals, textual support for the naming of a church is scant.Thankfully, we evangelicals (who are typically disoriented without written instruction) have found a way to remedy this. I’m not sure as to the origins of the method, but the system below can account for approximately 83.585 percent of all evangelical churches. It’s really a rather simple process.
STEP ONE: Start with the list of words below:
  • Grace
  • Life
  • Community
  • Covenant
  • Fellowship
  • Creek
  • Calvary
  • Fire
  • River
  • Road
  • Word
  • Bible
  • Memorial
  • Chapel
  • Spirit
  • Faith
  • Cross
  • Hope
  • Light
  • Redeemer
  • First
Of course, one could readily add the word “Pointe” into the mix above, but by all means, make sure that the trailing “e” is in place if you want to look like a bona fide evangelical church. Otherwise, congregants might miss the “point.”
STEP TWO: Take any combination of the words listed above, in any order, add to them your denominational (or lack thereof) appellation, and tack on the word “Church” at the end.......Voila! Your church now has a name.

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Christian and An American?

Collin Hansen has an excellent post, Pay Your Taxes But Put Your Trust in Christ, discussing a Christian's approach to government and politics. Much of what he says is taken from a sermon given by Mark Dever. Having a clear and biblically informed understanding of citizenship is so important as we live in this world awaiting Jesus' return.

Here are some excerpts:
Lincoln Memorial
Enjoying a sunny fall day, I walked around the National Mall on Saturday afternoon. Before visiting any other favorite sites, I ascended the temple steps where Father Abraham presides on his throne over American civil religion. ......
Only three weeks earlier self-appointed political prophet Glenn Beck claimed Lincoln’s imprimatur by packing these same steps for a rally. But religious nationalists who invoke America’s greatest president never seem to understand the irony of his memory. The man who saved the Union understood that God transcends and judges it. God’s ways often surpass our understanding. We cannot manipulate him to baptize our pet causes.....  Jesus Christ didn’t robe himself in an American flag...........

I heard from senior pastor Mark Dever the best sermon I know on Christianity and government [3].......In these days of overheated rhetoric and protest rallies, I pray that evangelicals will set aside 70 minutes to listen to Dever’s sermon. Much of the wisdom expressed here echoes the forthcoming book City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era [7], written by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, with a foreword by Tim Keller. We need to hear from the best evangelical thinkers about a faithful, biblical approach to politics. Perhaps I can help the cause by summarizing four pages of notes I scribbled from Dever’s sermon.
Mark Dever
Jesus Paid Taxes
....Jesus regarded the pagan state as legitimate when he said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17). The answer stunned the Herodians and Pharisees, because whatever their differences, Israel and Rome both derived their legitimacy by divine appeals.Human government is deeply biblical.....Government is not specifically Christian, but it is good. Certainly order is better than organizing society around unfettered self-interest.......In his second point, Dever argued that no earthly kingdom can be identified with God’s people. Christians are international. With his answer, Jesus unhitched God’s people from any one government, severing the national covenant that extended all the way back to Moses. If followers of Jesus could support Rome with their taxes, which government today—no matter how corrupt—can’t Christians support? “Christians are, by God’s grace, cockroaches,” Dever said. “We can survive anything.”.....With his third and final point, Dever argued that Christians are finally accountable to God. Many remember that Jesus told the Pharisees and Heroadians, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” Not so many remember that Jesus ended his teaching by saying we should render “to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
.....If Romans 13 calls Christians to obey government, then Revelation 13 illustrates what happens when the state rebels against God. No government commands the Christian’s unqualified support....
If we were ever tempted to invest our hope in the state, we should remember that Americans live in a country where spanking children is suspect but aborting children is okay. ....
Let us give to God what is God’s, Dever exhorted. Everything is God’s. Let us pay our taxes. But even more, let us trust in Christ.
You can read the whole article here.

A Christian Nation?

Joe Carter's post, Founding Believers, discusses the religious persuasion of some of the founding fathers. It is important for us to understand that many were not orthodox Christians but Deists. While Christianity has had a strong influence on our country we must never think that it is or ever has been a "Christian nation" in the true sense of the word.

Here are some excerpts from the post:
What were the religious beliefs of the founding fathers? That question is at the heart of many of the most contentious debates about the role of religion in the American public square. Countless arguments are centered on claims that the founders were either God-fearing Christians or Deistically-inclined secularists.....

David L. Holmes, a professor of religious studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, provides a useful methodology for examining the relevant evidence in his book, The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. Holmes offers four types of evidence that can help us discern whether a Revolutionary-era political leader was a Deist, an orthodox Christian, or something in between:

1. Examine the actions of the founding father in the area of religion (e.g., Did they attend church regularly?).

2. Examine the participation of the founding father in a church’s ordinances or sacraments (e.g., Did they have their children baptized? Did they take Holy Communion?).

3. Comparison of inactivity versus activity in regards to religious involvement.

4. Examine the religious language used by the founding father.

Using these criteria, Holmes claims that the religious beliefs of the founding fathers can be broadly classified as: Non-Christian Deists who rejected all sacraments and rarely attended church services’ Deistic Christians/Unitarians who held Deistic beliefs, attended church regularly, but rejected the Lord’s Supper and confirmation;. and Orthodox Christians who accepted orthodox Christian beliefs, attended church regularly, and participated in the sacraments and ordinances......

Applying the method to other founding fathers, the list could be roughly delineated as:

Non-Christian Deists: Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen.

Deistic Christians/Unitarians: Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe.

Orthodox Christians: Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, John Jay, Elias Boudinot, John Witherspoon.....

Most—whether they were non-Christian Deists or Deistic Christians—appear to have been held to the classic “five points of Deism”: (1) There is a God; (2) He ought to be worshiped; (3) Virtue is the principle element in this worship; (4) Humans should repent of their sins; and (5) There is life after death, where the evil will be punished and the good rewarded.

The views of the Deistic founding fathers would have been as repugnant to the modern secularist as those of the so-called Religious Right. The founding believers considered belief in a deity to be necessary for good citizenship, believed in intelligent design, had few qualms about establishment of state churches, and took a low view of atheists. They might not pass muster as orthodox Christians, but if they were around today they would considered theocrats.

Regardless of what was believed at the time of the founding, our country is not a “Christian nation” but rather, as the Baptist theologian Albert Mohler duly notes, “a nation of Christians.” America, he argues, “is not Christian by constitutional provision or creedal affirmation—but its people are overwhelmingly Christian by self-affirmation. Thoughtful evangelicals will not overestimate the convictional character of this self-identification. Secularists ought not to overestimate its superficiality.”

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Got Humility?

Not yet, really? Me neither....but we can keep learning by listening in on this excellent discussion on biblical humility between James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney. via the Gospel Coalition blog.


You can also learn more from CJ's book, Humility:True Greatness.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Have you heard of humble orthodoxy?

Check out this video by Bobby Shook  based on a quote from page 225 of the Humble Orthodoxy chapter of Josh Harris' book, Dug Down Deep:


DugDownDeep_Shook.mov from Covenant Life Church on Vimeo.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Should We Emphasize The Cross vs. the Resurrection?

Please take some time to read these excellent posts by Jeff Purswell, dean of Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College. Here's an index to the questions and Jeff's answers:
  1. Will focusing on the cross lead us to neglect the resurrection?
  2. Why focus on a crucified Savior when we serve a living Christ?
  3. Will a cross-focus lead us to be more aware of our sin than of our new life in Christ?
  4. Doesn’t the book of Acts stress the resurrection more than the cross?
  5. Will paying so much attention to the atonement lead us to make too much of the cross?

You can read all the posts in a PDF document here.

Reproduced from Tony Reinke's post.

A "Rant" on Worship Songs

Check out what Jeremy Pierce hates about some worship songs in his post, "Rant About Worship Songs".  (Warning: Be prepared for some tongue-in-cheek commentary.)

HT: Justin Taylor

What is a Hyper-Calvinist?

Do you  know the difference between "Calvinism" and "Hyper-Calvinism"? It is a very important distinction that is all too often confused.

Charles Spurgeon (via Adrian Warnock)
Iain Murray's book, "Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism", looks at Charles Spurgeon's struggles with the Hyper-Calvinists of his day. This book has been immensely helpful to me in navigating this important distinction and avoiding the serious errors of Hyper-Calvinism. Take a look at Ray Ortlund's summary from this book on his post, "Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism". I think it will help you avoid the danger of Hyper-Calvinism.

Here is an excerpt:
 “Genuine evangelical Christianity is never of an exclusive spirit.  Any view of the truth which undermines catholicity has gone astray from Scripture.”  Spurgeon regretfully disagreed with hyper-Calvinists who “made faith in election a part of saving faith and thus either denied the Christianity of all professed Christians who did not so believe or at least treated such profession with much suspicion.”...... “This controversy directs us to our need for profound humility before God.  It reminds us forcefully of questions about which we can only say, ‘Behold, God is great, and we know him not’ (Job 36:26).”  “It is to be feared that sharp contentions between Christians on these issues have too often arisen from a wrong confidence in our powers of reasoning and our assumed ability to draw logical inferences.”..........  “The final conclusion has to be that when Calvinism ceases to be evangelistic, when it becomes more concerned with theory than with the salvation of men and women, when acceptance of doctrines seems to become more important than acceptance of Christ, then it is a system going to seed and it will invariably lose its attractive power.”
Read the rest here.


Saturday, July 03, 2010

Grace - Driven Marriage

Some excellent biblical truth and insightful application on grace-driven marriage from Jared Wilson. Here are some excerpts:

Steps to Grace-Driven Marriage

What I mean by a marriage that is grace-driven is a marriage in which one or both parties have been captured by the grace of God in the atoning work and resurrection of Jesus Christ and therefore seek to glorify God in Christ in Spiritual power through the daily "drudgery" of their marriage. The chief step to this reality is believing the gospel.
In Ephesians 5:21-25, Paul writes:
. . . submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .

There is a snapshot of what a grace-driven marriage looks like. Its central theme is the Person of Jesus, and the dynamic of "mutual submission" to each other's needs is chiefly about reverence for him.

The wife shows reverence for Christ in her submission to her husband. Submission to his headship is an act of grace to him, reflective of the grace given to her by God. She can demonstrate this grace-driven submission in many ways, but here are three:

1. Respecting him verbally and publicly. Men are terrible mind-readers and context-clue-picker-uppers, not because they're stupid but just because of the way they're wired. They need to hear that they're respected, as well as shown. They need to be verbally encouraged, and even if a wife finds opportunities to publicly praise her husband difficult to come by, she can "settle" for not criticizing him in front of others or bringing disagreements/difficulties between the two of them into public conversations. This shames a husband and is a sabotage act of legalistic leverage, not grace. ...... Read More

Husbands, your call to grace in your marriage to your wife is deeper and more demanding. It is nothing less than self-crucifixion in "reverencing" your wife as you would reverence yourself. Her call is to submission; your call is to sacrifice. Here are three practical ways to love your wife as Christ loved the church.

1. Honor her by way of priority. Put her first. Above yourself, above your kids. Make her fulfillment the gauge of your success. Do not coast. There is no autopilot setting for husbanding. If you fail to take the initiative in loving and respecting -- verbally, actively, constantly -- you implicitly take responsibility for your marriage going over the cliff. Treat your wife as precious. She is not your employee. Do not exploit her submission, and do not abdicate your responsibility if she neglects hers. Do not grow weary in an effort to present her pure and spotless before the Lord. Passivity is masculinity at its most fallen.

2. Talk! Christ engaged the Church; he put skin on and communed with her. He dines with her, speaks with her, sings over her, delights in her. Open your mouth and talk to your wife. Ask her how she feels. Ask her what she needs/wants. Ask her what her dreams/struggles/fears/concerns/entertainments are. Be her friend. ....... Read More

HT: Peggy Buckley :)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Calvinist, Arminian, Pelagian or Something Else? Who Cares?

I have enjoyed reading and learning about the various Christian viewpoints on the atonement and how God accomplishes salvation for mankind. Recently Justin Taylor posted "A Primer on Limited (or Definite) Atonement". Please take some time to read his thoughtful post and, also, take some time to read Bruce Ware's outline here as starting points.

Sometimes in light of these historical controversies we say, "If all these smart people haven't figured it out why should I try?" Please don't do that - it is unhelpful. I think we could apply the same logic to just about every controversy - filet mignon vs. cheeseburgers, Red Sox vs. Yankees, Republicans vs. Democrats, Christian vs. Atheist - no matter what opinion we have on anything smart people will disagree. That doesn't mean the truth is unknowable.

May I suggest an alternative? Take some time to get to the bottom of why these smart people disagree. You might be surprise how well you understand the differences and how clearly you are able to form your own opinion.  I think in the area of the Calvinist-Arminian debate the 'bottom' is the understanding of what God's priorities are in arranging how he would work out the salvation of the lost.  Theologians call this the 'Order of God's Decrees'. Most likely you already have an opinion on these "decrees' whether you are aware of it or not.

Here is a neat table from Theopedia that outlines these different understandings in the Order of God's Decrees. I think you will see how and why Calvinist's (those to the left of Arminian), Arminians and the rest differ on salvation based on this table. I think this might clarify where you stand and why.

Once you have studied it consider what you think. What does the bible best support? You can find biblical arguments for each one. Take time to sort through these, recognizing there are some significant differences between them.  How you live your life can vary significantly according to your particular understanding.

Ultimately, God has an opinion on these - let us trust Him and seek His truth.  Where things are clear, as God has made them so, let us stand firm, where they are unclear, as God has allowed them to be, let us be charitable and patient.












FYI: I come out in the Infralapsarian-Supralapsarian range. I think this best represents God's revelation in scripture. How about you?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

D.A. Carson - One of My Favorite Living Pastor-Theologians

One of my very favorite living pastor-theologians is D.A. Carson. He is an unusual combination of a world-class biblical scholar,a very wise and insightful apostolic-type leader who approaches things with a pastor's perspective and heart. I have benefited tremendously from his books, sermons and his devotional, "For the Love of God".

I highly recommend listening to some of the 200 or so of his sermons on the Gospel Coalition site. Check out the D.A, Carson sermon archive here and enjoy!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Andrea Bocelli's Beautiful Story

A Beautiful true story from Andrea Bocelli.




HT: Tim Challies via Bob Kauflin.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Are You Contemporvant?

Thought you might enjoy this humorous critique. Better yet, read Bob Kauflin's thoughtful post on it here.


"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Want to Be a More Radical Christian? A Review of "Radical" by David Platt

I just went through David Platt's book, "Radical" in one wonderful sitting. I had first heard young Dr. Platt at the Together for the Gospel Conference back in April, 2010. I was very encouraged and challenged by his message, An Unadjusted Gospel in an Unreached World: Connecting Gospel Theology with Urgent Missiology This great book was more of the same. I hope I am able to similarly lead King of Grace Church in living radically for Christ and his gospel.

Rather than having me produce another review, take some time at Discerning Reader to read this review of "Radical" excerpted below:

Radical
Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
Reviewed 04/28/2010 by John Bird.
Recommended. A clarion call to live radically for Jesus Christ. But if you read it, will you?
David Platt has a burden—a burden to see believers in America acting like New Testament Christians. But for the most part, he says we're not. Instead, we are pursuing the "American dream" rather than Jesus. Jesus told his disciples not to lay up treasures on earth. They were to take up their crosses. They were to live for others. They were to be willing to die for others. But we live for ourselves. We live for security, for comfort, for ease, for entertainment, and for retirement.
With the best of intentions, we have actually turned away from Jesus. We have in many areas blindly and unknowingly embraced values and ideas that are common in our culture but are antithetical to the gospel he taught.
And, according to Platt, it's not just individual Christians embracing flawed values. Churches in America spend billions of dollars to build extravagant kingdoms and then praise themselves for sending a few thousand dollars to missions, while millions around the world are starving to death without ever hearing the gospel. Platt calls this lack of concern for the poor a "blind spot" in American Christianity. And it's a blind spot that should concern us: "If our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is really in us at all."....
In the end, Platt challenges readers to the one-year "Radical Experiment." This experiment involves five components meant to "radically alter the remainder of your life." My excitement built as I drew nearer to the final chapter. I imagined being called to martyrdom. I was nervous. "Can I do this? What will it cost? What will my wife say?" But when I got there, it was anticlimactic. Platt doesn't ask me to die, or even to sell my house. What he does ask is easier, something I can actually do. But the question remains: "Will I?" And as I consider the challenge, I realize that, in this selfish culture, it is radical. Indeed, to live as Christ calls His disciples to live is, in any culture, radical.
Get it for yourself and become 'Radical'.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Christian Hedonism Applied

Came across an excellent post by Douglas Wilson on the need to pursue our satisfaction in God across a comprehensive spectrum of life. Check out these excerpts:
The first thing to note is that John Piper has done the Church a valuable service in establishing the inescapability of hedonism in the well-tempered service of God. The point is hard for many Christians to swallow, but it is equally hard to avoid. On this subject, I would refer anyone with questions about it to the basic Piper corpus.
But once we have jackhammered up the foundation of dour stoicism, and/or anemic pietism, and have poured the foundations of what it means to seek our true pleasure, we still have the need to build on that foundation. Here are a couple blueprint sketches of some areas that still need work.....
By the nature of the case, we cannot present an exhaustive list, but the ramifications would include beer, mowing the lawn, sex with your wife or husband, brown gravy, sitting on the front porch, listening to a good poem, making movies, getting out the guitar, going to church, and getting a foot rub. There are two sacraments, true, but there is only one sacramental. The world is a sacramental, and everything in it. Grace is everywhere, and gets into everything. Faith can dig it out of anything. The grandeur of God can flame out from anything, like shining from shook foil.
You can read the whole article here. And, you can get John Piper's books here.

Have You Encountered Secularism?

Have you encountered secularism? It is a growing, if not dominant, religious viewpoint in the west and affects all of our lives. Sadly, there are many fallacies that go along with it and we need to be careful to detect them and defeat them.

For starters, check out Hunter Baker's interview with Sarah Harland-Logan at Harvard Political Review. The article by Harland-Logan did not fully represent the original interview. Here are some excerpts:
-What exactly is secularism about?  Why have so many people turned to this idea/ideology in the last few decades?
Secularism is about removing religion/consideration of God from public life.  The desire to do so does not have to be invidious.  Those who embrace secularism, including many Christians, often do so because they believe it is a good answer to the problem of religious difference among people in a political community.  They think that if they can remove differences among people, especially religious differences, our community will grow stronger.  At the same time, secularists tend to see religion as something human beings once needed, but no longer do.  They think religion is irrational and extraneous to the things that really matter in life.
On the other hand, some types of secularists are less well intentioned in their efforts to remove religious faith from public life.  Secular totalitarians (such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and others) have the desire to marginalize religious belief and institutions because they are potential roadblocks to enforcing the will of the state.  They would prefer there be no intermediary institutions between the state and the individual.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Have You Heard of Haverhill Massachusetts - Yahoo Ranked It Among the Top 7 Cities...

I love Haverhill...

So does Yahoo. Haverhill was ranked among the top 7 cities for good real estate deals in nice places. On the list: Pheonix, Orlando, New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Haverhill!

Read the whole article here.

HT: Jim Fiorentini

Friday, May 07, 2010

Funny Signs - Chinglish

www.nytimes.com
Some believe that China should embrace the fanciful melding of English and Chinese as the hallmark of a dynamic, living language.
.
HT: Kendra

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Wondering About Church Planting in Sovereign Grace Ministries?

Dave Harvey has started a series of posts on church planting in Sovereign Grace Ministries. In classic Dave Harvey style he communciated some of the thinking on church planting in SGM. Here are some excerpts.

It can be awkward, but only sometimes. It happens in certain conversations with other church-planting guys whenever the topic turns to vision for the future. Usually it goes something like this.
Church-planting guy (not me): So how many churches would you Sovereign Grace guys like to plant over the next ten years?
Me: Mumble, mumble, mumble… (sounds of me stuffing chips in my mouth to avoid answering)
Church-planting guy: We’re believing God for thousands of churches planted over the next few months. We’re calling it maniacal multiplication. So how many churches do you guys have right now?
Me (having no more chips to protect me): About 80, or maybe it’s 90—I forget exactly.
CPG: Wow, that’s great. How long have you guys been planting?
Me: Since “We Are the World” came out.
CPG: Wow, that’s incredible.
Me: The first one.
CPG (doing math in his head): Oh…I’ll pray for you dude.
End of conversation. Awkward.
Let me say something at the outset here. First of all, I am so grateful that there are church-planting groups who love the Savior and love the lost so much that they are willing to take the risks and send men so that many gospel-preaching churches can be planted quickly. That’s bigtime faith! And make no mistake, it’s being hurled at a bigtime need. I have no doubt God will bless those efforts. But as much as I’d like to see Sovereign Grace churches so widely and thickly planted that you couldn’t spit from a freeway without hitting one, that isn’t what God is calling us to. At least for now.

When it came to church planting, what mattered to us was that real, solid, gospel-loving, local churches would bloom. Churches that had shared values, relational connection with each other, and common purpose. We didn’t want to plant churches and walk away from them, or have them walk away from us. We call ourselves a family of churches because that’s what we’ve been. We wanted to build slow and plant slow because we wanted every church to apply the gospel and be a healthy contributor to the mission of church planting for years to come. We’ve made tons of mistakes along the way, but that’s what we’ve tried to do.

I highly recommend you read the first installment and stay tuned.

Do You Know the "New Atheists"?

Justin Taylor has a post, entitled, 'What’s Right and What’s Wrong About the New Atheism?,' where he mentions what looks like a great book on the "New Atheists" - a group that will most likely grow in influence in our culture.

Take a few minutes to read his post here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Keep Religion Out of Government?

Have you entered the fray about the National Day of Prayer?

As I listen to the wrangling about "separation of church and state" I am concerned for a major fallacy that seems to be the foundation of many folk's arguments (see USA Today and Comments on Franklin Graham's editorial in the Washington Post). The fallacy is that there is somehow the ability to separate religion from government. I believe this is impossible and not the concern of the authors and ratifiers of the first amendment.

Religion is really the cosmological and functional world view system one believes. We all have at least a functional world view system. If we didn't we couldn't operate in life. To be human is to have a world view, an understanding of our purpose and the general principles by which we live. Every human being has some sort of world view, from the most devout Christian to the most convinced agnostic to the most sincere pantheist. And, every government conceived by man operates under some religious assumptions.

So let's stop making the nonsense statement that we can separate religion from government. That's like saying we can separate breathing from being alive - we simply can't both be alive and not breath. Neither can we be alive and not be religious in some way. We can not have government and not have some religion shaping it.

I seems clear that the point the founding fathers were after was to keep the federal government from preferring a particular denomination or religious institution over another. They never meant to separate a belief in a supreme being from the foundation of our country. To do so unravels the very fabric of our government, a government predicated on a firm belief in a God who has created all men equal and endowed them with certain inalienable rights, a government reliant on a common and cohesive belief in a Supreme Judge. Without such an assumption the rest of what is asserted in the Declaration of Independence and all the founding documents comes undone.

So let's stop the nonsense understanding of "separation of church and state" as keeping "religion" out of government. Let's instead honor the wisdom of our founding fathers by seeking to be careful to not prefer one religious denomination or institution over another while maintaining a firm and foundational belief in a Supreme Being who has granted us and sustained for us the privilege of a just and representative government. We will sooner or later lose this privilege if we fail to honor the wisdom of our forefathers. 

A Government-sponsored non-partisan interfaith Theistic National Day of Prayer acknowledging our need for the help of the Supreme Being is not only constitutional but quintessential to our nation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

King of Grace Church VBS 2010!

We are looking forward to this year's Vacation Bible School.

Come be a part of this July 12-16, King of Grace Church, 28 Chadwick St., Haverhill, Ma, 01835.

Register Here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life-Changing Preaching

I heard David Platt for the first time at Together for the Gospel, 2010. Wow!

Check out these two messages below and let God use the preaching of David Platt to change your life!

David Platt: SBC Pastors Conference 2009 from Todd Thomas on Vimeo.



Friday, April 09, 2010

Phoebe Prince and the Golden Rule

I have been heart-broken at the tragic suicide of Phoebe Prince from South Hadley High School. Seeing a vibrant young girl so overcome with despair because of the wanton cruelty of others made me weep.

This tragedy coincides with our study of the Golden Rule as a church as we are learning about Kingdom Living from the Sermon on the Mount. If only Phoebe's classmates, her friends and her teachers and perhaps even her family had applied this simple and profound teaching everything might have been different.

And, if only I had done better at following this beautiful command when I was young. I am no better than any of the bullies and probably worse. I regret the many times I bullied others. God was merciful to keep me from participating in such a tragedy though I certainly have done things of equal wickedness.  And I continue to fall short myself in living the Golden Rule.

But there is hope and redemption. Christ himself fulfilled his own command in his beautiful life and his tragic death. His perfect life was offered as a sacrifice to pay the just penalty for those who willingly and knowingly spurn the justice and beauty of the golden rule and treat others cruelly. He died for bullies and young girls alike. He died that we might be forgiven for our horrible crimes and know perfect love.  And in knowing this forgiveness and perfect love, we might learn to love like Him - doing to others what we would want for ourselves. Would you look to Him to rescue you from your sins and lead you in His ways?

May God grant us wisdom and grace to live the Golden Rule as we look to the King and Savior who gave it to us, who shed his blood to cleanse us from disobeying it and who recreates us in Him to live it truly.

May God give us a someone like Pheobe to love and perhaps keep from such a tragedy.

As a side note: I was perplexed to see a post from Ethics Alarms focusing on how the Golden Rule is creating an unethical reaction to the situation. I would submit it would be better to say it is an incomplete application of the Golden Rule that might be functioning here.  Such an application of the Golden Rule is a violation of the Golden Rule in my opinion. I believe such a discussion is unhelpful.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Optical Illusion

Check this out. It is not a spiral but a series of concentric rings. Our minds take the information our eyes see and interpret - sometimes wrongly. Pretty amazing!
(Courtesy of Neatorama HT: Sarah H.)
Try squinting and looking at it - you might be able to see the rings.

Don't believe everything your senses and your mind tell you - they can be wrong. We need something better and more reliable than what our five senses tell us.....

Friday, April 02, 2010

Pray for Juárez

My friend Dave Harvey reports on one church's stand amidst the violence and turmoil of Juárez:
You may have seen reports of the murders of three people associated with the U.S. Consulate in Juárez, Mexico, earlier this month. ..As Mexico’s war on the drug cartels continues, the city of Juárez is embroiled in violence. On average, at least seven people have been murdered every day since 2009, including more than 500 murders since January. ...This ongoing social catastrophe has far-reaching effects. About 5,000 businesses have closed, and some estimate that as much as 15–20% of the city’s population has left. Those who remain face the daily threat of ruthless violence

Carlos Contreras..senior pastor of Iglesia Gracia Soberana de Cd. Juárez .. writes,
But there is good news also. The church in the city remains strong and has apparently become the only remaining source of hope for many people. We all pray and we pray a lot, and we pray boldly and we pray publicly for God to intervene in a miraculous way to change things and to do justice. But mostly we pray for revival and for the salvation of thousands.
Under the leadership of their pastoral team, Iglesia Gracia Soberana is taking the gospel to the streets. The most recent session of their Alpha class (an introductory class on the gospel) graduated 63 students, more than they’d ever had. The church is airing evangelistic programs on local TV. Earlier this month, 150 church members went to two busy intersections, handed out about 800 evangelistic tracts and about 200 New Testaments, and prayed for about 300 people. On Saturday they hit the streets again, handing out 6,000 invitations to church, 300 copies of the Gospel of John, and 200 New Testaments—and praying for 1,300 people.
You can read the whole article here.

Please pray for Juárez and Iglesia Gracia Soberana!
  • that God would grant wisdom and strength to Carlos Contreras and other pastors in Juárez.
  • that God would give sustaining grace to Iglesia Gracia Soberana and the other churches in this city.
  • that the gospel would be clearly preached and many would put their faith in Christ for forgiveness of sins.
  • that peace and justice would be restored to Juárez.
Check out this slide show of their prayer outreach:

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Wrestling with Biblical Studies?

Do you wrestle with studying God's word and preparing to preach?

Check out Andy Neselli's review of D.A. Carson's essay,  “The Trials of Biblical Studies” from
The Trials of Theology: Becoming a “Proven Worker” in a Dangerous Business (ed. Andrew J. B. Cameron and Brian S. Rosner; Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 2010).

It look's like this is another very beneficial resource from our friend Dr. Carson.

Here are 2 of the five points Carson addresses followed by Andy's bulleted summaries. (You can read the whole review here.)

3. Five facets of pride

  • Your desire to be admired and recognized is dangerous.
  • The sheer joy you find in your work does not make you spiritually superior to people who work in other disciplines.
  • Your academic specialty in an area of biblical studies does not make you a superior pastor.
  • Knowing more about the Bible than most people you serve does not make you a superior person.
  • You may experience inverted pride (i.e., being threatened because you are insecure and jealous) if successful professionals in secular work think lightly of your job.

4. Pressures to manipulate Scripture

  • Avoid the pressure from the right: safe exegesis that reinforces your confessional group.
  • Avoid the pressure from the left: clever exegesis that makes you academically respectable.
  • Avoid the nonconformist pressure to reach independent conclusions on nearly everything.
  • Avoid the pressure to so focus on the history of interpretation that you never decide anything.
  • Instead, genuinely and patiently listen to the text with integrity.

New Atheism Smackdown

I came across Gayle Trotter's review of Mary Eberstadt's new book The Loser Letters. It is a Screwtape Letters type satire of the New Atheism. I can't wait to read it! Here is an excerpt:
The Loser Letters, Eberstadt’s first published work of fiction, draws on a long satirical tradition from Juvenal to The Screwtape Letters.  Eberstadt’s protagonist, a young woman named A. F. Christian (as in, “A Former Christian”), details the journey of her enlightened abandonment of her “cradle Dullness” (namely, her Christian faith) and her adaptation to atheism.  Christian writes excited, star-struck letters to the self-described so-called “Brights” of the New Atheism, in which she gushes about the Brights’ superiority while candidly evaluating the weaknesses that limit the New Atheism’s ability to win new converts.  With this device, Eberstadt delivers a gripping story line with a chilling twist at the end and, in the process, administers a smackdown of the New Atheism.
You can read the whole article here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gospel-Centered Sloganeering?

Came across a post from my friend Toby Kurth (HT: Justin Taylor). We often use the phrase, "gospel-centered" - may it be more about a lifelong pursuit of a Christ-centered  lifestyle than a shallow passing slogan! 

Check out what Toby says:
Gospel centrality must not be reduced to a slogan or way of defining yourself that does not really describe how you view the world. Gospel-centrality says that all of life and the Scriptures must be interpreted through the person and work of Jesus Christ. If gospel-centrality becomes just a way of speaking about ministry with certain buzzwords and catch phrases then it will have lost all meaning.

We do not drift towards gospel-centrality in our own lives or in our churches. It involves an active and frequent application of gospel truth to every situation we face. What makes me nervous are phrases like “Is he gospel-centered?” or “That is not a gospel-centered church.” Let’s not settle for shorthand. Being “gospel-centered” is a life-long endeavor, not a slogan. It is not the ability to recite a few well-crafted phrases; it is rather the commitment to continually turn away from defining yourself or your church in accordance with anything other than the person and work of Jesus Christ.
You can read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"The Anti-Proverbs 31 Woman"

I enjoyed this post from Jared Mellinger, Senior Pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church. Sometimes we learn from the negative example.
“The Anti-Proverbs 31 Woman”
A substandard wife, who can find?
Her husband must micro-manage her,
And he hesitates to delegate anything to her.
She does him harm, not good,
All the days of her life.
She takes no delight in working,
And she labors with unwilling hands.
She finds a large number of tasks objectionable,
And carries them out with a languid footstep.
She looks first to her own interests in everything,
And avoids being inconvenienced at all costs.
Her household receives no attention,
And her children are neglected.
Her life orbits around herself,
She is lost in her own world.
She often sleeps in,
Her mouth feasts on the bread of idleness.
She is indecisive in decision making,
And her husband is a crutch in all things.
She rarely plans ahead,
And it brings chaos to her home.
She lives in the grip of fear,
Her closest companion is anxiety for the future.
Her husband is floundering in the gates,
Where he sits among the elders of the land.
She occasionally fears the Lord,
But cares far more about physical beauty.
She receives the fruit of her hands
When no one praises her in the gates.
Aren’t we glad that God’s grace and mercy overcomes our Anti-Proverbs 31, or Anti-Sermon on the Mount, or Anti-First Corinthians 13 tendencies so that we increasingly live conforming to God’s will and obedient to His word.

Christ's Sympathy

I hope you are encouraged by these thoughts from Octavius Winslow:

“Christ’s heart is a human heart, a sinless heart, a tender heart; a heart once the home of sorrow, once stricken with grief; once an aching, bleeding, mournful heart. Thus disciplined and trained, Jesus knows how to pity and to support those who are sorrowful and solitary. He loves to chase grief from the spirit, to bind up the broken heart, to staunch the bleeding wound, and to dry the weeping eye, to ‘comfort all that mourn.’ It is His delight to visit you in the dark night-season of your sorrow, and to come to you walking upon the tempestuous billows of your grief, breathing music and diffusing calmness over your scene of sadness and gloom.”

- Octavius Winslow, Evening Thoughts, January 10.

HT: Of First Importance

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peter Hitchens, “The Rage Against God”

Peter Hitchens, the theistic brother of renowned atheist, Christopher Hitchens has written a book about his journey to Christianity, "The Rage Against God", available May 1 from Zondervan. Wikipedia has this on the new book:
"Peter Hitchens argues in his book that his brother's verdict on religion is misguided, and that faith in God is both a safeguard against the collapse of civilisation into moral chaos and the best antidote to the dangerous idea of earthly perfection through utopianism."
Here's a preview:



HT: Doug Wilson, Justin Taylor

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Greatest Danger Affecting American Evangelical Christianity?

I have been enjoying Mark Noll's insightful, though perhaps dated, analysis of the place of the mind among evangelicals. His quotations from Charles Malik were provocative.  Charles Malik was a Lebanese Christian  intellectual, professor and politician. Read some of his comments from a speech at Wheaton College below:
This is a solemn occasion. I must be frank with you: the greatest danger besetting American Evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti intellectualism. The mind as to its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. This cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and the spirit. People are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the Gospel. They have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure in conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, and thereby ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking.

The result is that the arena of creative thinking is abdicated and vacated to the enemy. Who among the Evangelicals can stand up to the great secular or naturalistic or atheistic scholars on their own terms of scholarship and research? Who among the Evangelical scholars is quoted as a normative source by the greatest secular authorities on history or philosophy or psychology or sociology or politics? Does your mode of thinking have the slightest chance of becoming the dominant mode of thinking in the great universities of Europe and America which stamp your entire civilization with their own spirit and ideas?
You can read the whole speech here.

The Story of St. Patrick


One version of the famous story of Patrick. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Enjoy!

The Conversion and Preaching of (St) Patrick in Ireland


An extract from the “History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century” by J. H. Merle d’Aubigné (1794-1872)


On the picturesque banks of the Clyde, not far from Glasgow, in the Christian village of Bonavern, now Kilpatrick, a little boy, of tender heart, lively temperament, and indefatigable activity, passed the earlier days of his life. He was born about the year 372 A. D., of a British family, and was named Succat.1 His father, Calpurnius, deacon of the church of Bonavern, a simple-hearted pious man, and his mother, Conchessa, sister to the celebrated Martin, archbishop of Tours,2 and a woman superior to the majority of her sex, had endeavoured to instil into his heart the doctrines of Christianity; but Succat did not understand them. He was fond of pleasure, and delighted to be the leader of his youthful companions. In the midst of his frivolities, he committed a serious fault.


Some few years later, his parents having quitted Scotland and settled in Armorica (Bretagne), a terrible calamity befell them. One day as Succat was playing near the seashore with two of his sisters, some Irish pirates, commanded by O’ Neal, carried them all three off to their boats, and sold them in Ireland to the petty chieftain of some pagan clan. Succat was sent into the fields to keep swine.3 It was while alone in these solitary pastures, without priest and without temple, that the young slave called to mind the divine lessons which his pious mother had so often read to him. The fault which he had committed pressed heavily night and day upon his soul: he groaned in heart, and wept. He turned repenting towards that meek Saviour of whom Conchessa had so often spoken; he fell at His knees in that heathen land, and imagined he felt the arms of a father uplifting the prodigal son. Succat was then born from on high, but by an agent so spiritual, so internal, that he knew not “whence it cometh or whither it goeth.” The gospel was written with the finger of God on the tablets of his heart. “I was sixteen years old,” said he, “and knew not the true God; but in that strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and, although late, I called my sins to mind, and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children.”4


Such words as these from the lips of a swineherd in the green pastures of Ireland set clearly before us the Christianity which in the fourth and fifth centuries converted many souls in the British Isles. In after-years, Rome established the dominion of the priest and salvation by forms, independently of the dispositions of the heart; but the primitive religion of these celebrated islands was that living Christianity whose substance is the grace of Jesus Christ, and whose power is the grace of the Holy Ghost. The herdsman from the banks of the Clyde was then undergoing those experiences which so many evangelical Christians in those countries have subsequently undergone. “The love of God increased more and more in me,” said he, “with faith and the fear of His name. The Spirit urged me to such a degree that I poured forth as many as a hundred prayers in one day. And even during the night, in the forests and on the mountains where I kept my flock, the rain, the snow, and frost, and sufferings which I endured, excited me to seek after God. At that time, I felt not the indifference which now I feel: the Spirit fermented in my heart.”5 Evangelical faith even then existed in the British islands in the person of this slave, and of some few Christians born again, like him, from on high.


Twice a captive and twice rescued, Succat, after returning to his family, felt an irresistible appeal in his heart. It was his duty to carry the gospel to those Irish pagans among whom he had found Jesus Christ. His parents and his friends endeavoured in vain to detain him; the same ardent desire pursued him in his dreams. During the silent watches of the night he fancied he heard voices calling to him from the dark forests of Erin: “Come, holy child, and walk once more among us.” He awoke in tears, his breast filled with the keenest emotion.6 He tore himself from the arms of his parents, and rushed forth – not as heretofore with his playfellows, when he would climb the summit of some lofty hill – but with a heart full of charity in Christ. He departed: “It was not done of my own strength,” said he; “it was God who overcame all.”


Succat, afterwards known as Saint Patrick, and to which name, as to that of St Peter and other servants of God, many superstitions have been attached, returned to Ireland, but without visiting Rome, as an historian of the twelfth century has asserted.7 Ever active, prompt, and ingenious, he collected the pagan tribes in the fields by beat of drum, and then narrated to them in their own tongue the history of the Son of God. Erelong his simple recitals exercised a divine power over their rude hearts, and many souls were converted, not by external sacraments or by the worship of images, but by the preaching of the word of God. The son of a chieftain, whom Patrick calls Benignus, learnt from him to proclaim the Gospel, and was destined to succeed him. The court bard, Dubrach Mac Valubair, no longer sang druidical hymns, but canticles addressed to Jesus Christ. Patrick was not entirely free from the errors of the time; perhaps he believed in pious miracles; but generally speaking we meet with nothing but the gospel in the earlier days of the British church. The time no doubt will come when Ireland will again feel the power of the Holy Ghost, which had once converted it by the ministrations of a Scotchman.


1 In baptismo haud Patricum sed Succat a parentibus fuisse dictum. Usser. Brit. Eccl. Antiq. p. 428.


2 Martini Turonum archiepiscopi consanguineam. Ibid.


3 Cujus porcorum pastor erat. Ibid. p. 431.


4 Et ibi Dominus aperuit sensum incredulitatis meæ, ut vel sero remorarem delicta mea, et ut converterer toto corde ad Dominum Deum meum. Patr. Confess. Usser, 431.


Reference:
“HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY,” by J. H. Merle d’Aubigné, 1846. French edition 1835. Published by Baker Book House (USA), reprinted from the edition issued in London in 1846. Vol 5, pp 679-680.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Looking for a Good Daily Bible Devotional?

D.A. Carson's "For the Love of God" is probably the best daily devotional I know. And, it is now available via a blog from the Gospel Coalition.SWEET!

Read it here.

It is based on the Murray M'Cheyne daily bible reading plan and can be used to go through the whole bible in a year or two years.  I recommend the two-year approach for starters.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do You Worry You Are Passing On A Wrong View of God to Your Kids?

Tony Reinke has an excellent post about passing on to our children a right view of God. 

He includes some suggestions CJ Mahaney made to a dad who is worried that he might pass on his own misunderstanding of God to his children instead of the right view of God.
  • Communicating your affection for them—and joy when you are with them—promotes both good and accurate thoughts about God.
  • Initiate time with them at both planned and spontaneous times. Don’t leave them with the impression that they get most of your attention when they disobey. Let them know you are so grateful for them and love being with them as much as possible.
  • Bless your children with many gifts in many forms! See Luke 11 again. Study your children in order to discern what gifts would genuinely bless them and then purpose to surprise them as often as possible.
  • Requiring appropriate obedience does not promote hard thoughts about God. This only happens when we do so in self-righteousness or anger.
  • Frequently preach the gospel to them (and not at them). Reveal to your children just how far God has gone to show his love for sinners like us.
Take a few minutes to read the whole article here.  I recommend it!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

'They Need to Be Liberated From Their God'

Check out this fascinating interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef. He talks about his conversion to Christianity and his work for Israeli intelligence while a member of Hamas. He reports that he worked with Israeli intelligence to save lives on both sides. Listen to him speak about his conversion.
"I converted to Christianity because I was convinced by Jesus Christ as a character, as a personality. I loved him, his wisdom, his love, his unconditional love. I didn't leave [the Islamic] religion to put myself in another box of religion. At the same time it's a beautiful thing to see my God exist in my life and see the change in my life. I see that when he does exist in other Middle Easterners there will be a change." 
He also reports that the fundamental difficulty with Islam is that the God of Islam is not the right God.
"What matters is not whether my father is a fanatic or not, he's doing the will of a fanatic God. It doesn't matter if he's a terrorist or a traditional Muslim. At the end of the day a traditional Muslim is doing the will of a fanatic, fundamentalist, terrorist God. I know this is harsh to say. Most governments avoid this subject. They don't want to admit this is an ideological war. ..... The problem is not in Muslims...the problem is with their God. They need to be liberated from their God. He is their biggest enemy. It has been 1,400 years they have been lied to."
May God raise up millions of Middle Easterners who really know God and show it!  May they teach us in the West what it looks like when you really know God! May Christ reign over the Middle East in a way that shows the world who he really is - not some by-product of the West or corrupted icon of marauding Crusaders but something much better, purer, altogether different and glorious!

 أَبَانَا الَّذِي فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ لِيَتَقَدَّسِ اسْمُكَ.  لِيَأْتِ مَلَكُوتُكَ. لِتَكُنْ مَشِيئَتُكَ كَمَا فِي السَّمَاءِ كَذَلِكَ عَلَى الأَرْضِ