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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Brownsville In The News

Here is a link to a Yahoo News story about one of the complications of life on the Texas border.

God/Great Part 2

For a readable and thoughtful response to Christopher Hitchen's best-selling rant against God, you should get "God Is....How Christianity Explains Everything". Available from Amazon here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Angel Tree

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matt. 25:37 - 40

Did you know that 1.7 million kids have a parent in prison? Chuck Colson's Angel Tree ministry is doing something about that. Through Angel Tree, the children of incarcerated parents receive Christmas presents with the aid of more than 10,000 churches in the US. This year our church got in on the action, and Saturday was "Christmas" for almost 100 children in south Texas. Parents were invited for a meal, some Christmas music, and a message from our children's pastor to remember the reason for it all. Thanks to Lupita, Trisha, Glenda and Captain for making the holidays a little more bearable this year.

Boths Sides Of The Border

It's been said that there are worse crimes than burning books, such as not reading them. This past Friday I, along with our children's minister Captain, participated in a book giveaway at Russell Elementary school here is Brownsville. We were working in connection with a Baptist ministry in our state called Literacy Connexus, which seeks to instill a love of reading in needy children across Texas. Each child received a small collection of books, and a small bookshelf to put them on.

Friday afternoon I met up with some friends from the Bannockburn Baptist Church (Austin) to attend the ordination service of a pastor they've been sponsoring. We spent a little time with his family at his house in Matamoros before the service. Like so many pastors I've met in Mexico, he is an humble man, without much education or material resources. But he's not lacking in passion. His road hasn't been an easy one, but he continues just the same.

Keep Christ In Christmas?

Every year Americans are admonished to "keep Christ in Christmas". What does this mean? How do we do it? Should we do it? Check out this fine article from Dr. Michael Brown.

Monday, December 19, 2011

God Is Not Great

Over the past dozen years or so atheism has enjoyed a wave of popularity throughout much of the English-speaking world. Through a series of best-selling books, interviews, and debates we have been encouraged to imagine a world free from the shackles of religion. If only we could rid ourselves of these myths and superstitions, we've been told, we would all sit down at the table of brotherhood and, unburdened of all the fanaticism that comes from faith, live together in peace.

The most entertaining of these "new atheists" was Christopher Hitchens. The British-born journalist became an American citizen in 2007. With an encyclopedic knowledge of the world he lived in, Hitchens wrote on a wide variety of subjects, and was never afraid to offend people on either the political left or right.

For the past few years Hitchens spent much of his time attacking religion, and anyone who had one. The title of his recent book, "God Is Not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything", is itself a glimpse into how this man operated: provacative, irreverant, and prone to exaggeration. His fans couldn't get enough; finally someone with his skill was publicly exposing religion for the sham that it is.

You could be forgiven for wondering why he expended so much energy battling a God who doesn't exist. It's because in Hitchen's world, religion is not just false, it is dangerous. Without religion there never would have been an Inquisition, or the terrorist attacks of September 11th. No, someone has to have the courage to say what all thinking people know: the physical world is all there ever was, or ever will be. Only science and reason can lead us out of this dogmatic wilderness.

But Hitchens never understood (though it was often pointed out to him) that by embracing atheism he had given away the store. If atheism is true, there's no way to justify the moral judgments that they make. It is only by "borrowing" morality from Christianity that atheists are then able to pronounce it evil.

I find myself a little conflicted about Hitchen's passing. Here was a man of rare ability; often witty, sometimes blasphemous, always thought-provoking. But his intellectual gifts should have led him beyond the physical world to the Source of all gifts. But they never did. Instead, like the dog who bites his master, he employed those gifts to rail against the One who had made him. And I find that to be very sad indeed.

Christopher Hitchens - dead of cancer at age 62.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Houses For Christ

In August of 2007 I participated in a mission trip with an organization called Casas Por Cristo, based in El Paso, Texas. A staff member from CPC takes mission teams over to Cuidad Juarez, Mexico to build a house for a needy family (since then they have expanded the ministry to work in Acuña, Mexico and Guatemala). In 5 days or less a team can build a 2 room house, complete with a concrete slab, electricity, insulation, and a stucco finish on the outside walls. It even comes with a ceiling fan! The trip was very enjoyable for me, and only served to increase my love for the Spanish language and the Mexican people.

Tomorrow night (December 11th), CNN will be airing a special called "CNN Heroes" at 8 p.m. eastern time. I understand that Casas Por Cristo will be featured briefly in the show. If you're not busy, it might be worth a look.

An blog post about the show can be found here. The ministry website is here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

If Joseph and Mary used Facebook

If Joseph and Mary used Facebook, it would look like this.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Casa Blanca

Saturday evening I tore myself away from the SEC championship game to attend a special service with our brothers at the Casa Blanca church in Mexico (it wasn't much of a sacrifice, since UGA got an old-fashioned whooping from LSU). In any case, the occasion was a celebration service for one of our church plants in Matamoros. It is now an official, autonomous church. We have been supporting their pastor, Adolfo Villarreal, for some time now. He has done a wonderful job over there; in fact, that church has now planted 2 churches itself! The service was very warm and lively, and the church was packed to the gills. I trust you will join me in praying for this church, and especially for the 2 church plants. There are many obstacles to planting a New Testament church in Mexico, but it can be done, and Pastor Adolfo is doing it.