Welcome to tomthinking.com Wednesday, January 23 2019 @ 03:34 AM UTC

What's Enough For You?

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Several years ago I asked a good pastor friend of mine, Chris Bayer, this question about the Bible: “If God never spoke to you ever again, would this book be enough for you?” He thought about it for a while then said, “No. I need God to speak to me to tell me who to pray for and who to heal and to do my ministry. I need God to speak to me.”
Now, as we were just getting to know each other I have to confess that at the time I didn’t really like his answer. You see, for me, no matter what situation I’m in I want my reliance on God’s word to be supreme. This is because the Holy Spirit is the author of scripture. What he says is timeless in its ability to transform lives. The Holy Spirit, if he were to speak something new, would never contradict what he’s already said, or anything he’s previously done. Therefore, I always go back to the Bible as my final authority for all in the Christian life.
Recently, however, something came to mind that has given me reason to back off my own answer to that question. If God never spoke to me again, would the Bible be enough for me?

Radicalizing Your Religion

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Over the weekend two news items stood in contrast on the subject of religion, radicalization, and restriction. On Sunday the 28th CNN’s Belief Blog presented four signs that a person’s religious beliefs might be radicalized. This stood in contrast to a TED presentation released on the 27th that showed that 75 percent of the world’s population live in countries that impose legal restrictions on religion.
It was CNN’s Belief Blog that raised my ire (as it sometimes does). It’s four signs of radicalization are so broad that virtually any religious founder, or significant leader, or even people attending evangelical churches might be considered radicalized. Here are the four signs that, according to CNN, your religion might be evil:
1.) I know the truth and you don’t
2.) Beware the charismatic leader
3.) The end is near
4.) The end justifies the means

Why Churches Need Missions Organizations

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Recently I’ve become aware of some churches that prefer to send out their congregants on short term missions trips and have moved away from, to some degree, sponsoring full time missionaries who work with organizations like Cru, Wycliffe, Navigators, and others. These churches want to engage their people in the missions experience so that they will become more excited about soul-winning and sharing their own faith. It is a great motivation! However, I’d like to touch upon seven advantages that missions organizations have to offer churches and missionaries on the field. To be honest, churches, while serving a critical role in the development of the body of Christ, can’t take on the task of the Great Commission alone. Neither can missions organizations do it alone. Both need each other to bring Christ to the world—especially difficult areas of the world where many sponsoring churches have few to no inroads. 
Let’s briefly touch on seven advantages that missions organizations provide for the advancement of the Great Commission.

Why The Shroud Of Turin Doesn't Matter

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A recent report claims that the Shroud of Turin has now been dated to with 200 years, plus or minus, of the time of Christ. Many believers regard the shroud as a legitimate relic from the time of Christ, espousing the view that the image on the shroud was created supernaturally during Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The shroud is something that people often look to as affirmation of their faith in Christ. They see it as a form of evidence that Jesus existed and was raised from the dead.

I am not one of those people.

Hey Pastor: Five Things Your Missionary Wants You To Know

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Pastor, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate and the last thing you need is more stuff to deal with. But you ought to know about a few needs that your missionary has. And not just you, but your staff and congregation as well.
I’ve been fortunate to serve Christ in two countries for a total of 11 years. There were times when I wished my home church knew about some issues I was facing, but felt like they might not understand what I was going through, or perhaps think badly about it, so I kept my mouth shut. That got me thinking about other missionaries, wondering if they had the same thoughts I did. So I surveyed a number of missionaries currently serving overseas to ask them what was the one thing they wanted you, their pastor, to know. From their answers I’ve come up with five things that the average missionary wants you to know.
Now, I want to warn you, you might not like some of what you will read. In fact, you might be a little offended. But please don’t be. You see, your missionary has a unique point of view and set of experiences that the vast majority of pastors and congregants never get to have. In addition to spiritual warfare, they face unique pressures of culture, loneliness, and anxiety for a host of reasons. So when they come home for a furlough or time of rest they want to escape their host culture for a while and enjoy their home culture. But guess what? 

Recognition

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What do people recognize about you? I’ve been recognized from my association with a TV station in Mongolia. During my New Mexico days I was recognized for my radio work and political involvement. During my radio career I was recognized for my voice. I’ve even been recognized as the husband of Diane and the father of Stefani, Rochele, and Whitney. But I ask myself, am I recognized for being with Jesus?

I Want Pleasures Evermore, Or Something Better

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Part of serving in ministry in a foreign country is to identify the chief value(s) of your host country so that you will know what you should and shouldn’t do when trying to reach people for Christ in that country. I experienced this first hand during my 10 years in Mongolia. I listened carefully to what Mongolians talked about and watched their behavior. I listened carefully to the other foreigners I knew in the country, to learn from their experiences. After several years I think I began to understand the chief value of most Mongolians. That chief value is power. In fact, I can define most (not all) of my relationships with Mongolians in terms of power.
When I returned to America after 10 years away it seemed to me that many things here have changed. In a way I feel like I am an outsider from American culture. I’m still American. I still think and act like the average American (or so I think). But when I observe American culture I find myself trying to identify America’s chief values.

Boogers & Forgiveness

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What do you want to be remembered for? I’d like to think that the last ten years of my life will be remembered by my friends in Mongolia as positive ones—except for maybe one thing.
I flicked a booger at the nation.
I had been in my role of Managing Director of Eagle TV in Mongolia for only a few months. It was 2003 and we were covering the Iraq war live. We were the only TV station in the country to do so. Mongolian TV viewers had never seen anything like it. Our station, Eagle TV, was pulling as much as 90% of the TV audience. 
During the coverage, every hour we had a segment where people could call us and give their live opinions about the war, on the air, completely uncensored. We ran a live polling graphic on the screen. Nothing like this had ever been done in Mongolia before. Thousands of calls came in. A new threshold of freedom through media had taken hold and the people eagerly took advantage of it.
Within a couple of days of our coverage Mongolia’s Foreign Minister went on State TV to announce that once the government of Mongolia had decided its position on the war that the people of Mongolia should not be allowed to voice their opinion publicly. Some of the old communist ways still held sway back then, especially in the media. The next day an article appeared in the leading communist-friendly paper saying essentially the same thing.
I would have none of it.
I decided that our audience had to hear from the leadership of our station about why we were doing what we were doing. We needed to make a stand for free speech for all Mongolians. I wrote a two minute commentary, memorized my lines, and recorded a commentary to air during our prime time news. My goal was to assure the people that our station would always be a conduit of free speech and expression for the Mongolian people.

She's Raising Her Children Without God

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A recent article on CNN from atheist blogger, Deborah Mitchell, claimed that raising children without God is better than raising children with God. Mrs. Mitchell lists seven reasons why she raises her children not to believe in God. These reasons are:
  • God is a bad parent and role model
  • God is not logical
  • God is not fair
  • God does not protect the innocent
  • God is not present
  • God does not teach children to be good
  • God teaches narcissism

I'd like to briefly address each one of these objections to God's existence (or character). Keep in mind, however, that though I will present biblical answers to these challenges, many readers will likely not like the answers. In every question we have about God, in every challenge we have about him, we must remember that God is sovereign. He does what he wishes, when he wishes, for his own purposes, and he is not obligated to give us the feel-good answers we seek. We, however, are obligated to accept God's answers since we are the creature, not the Creator, and we are all accountable to him for what we think, feel, say, and do. God is not accountable to us or to our ideas of right, wrong, or fairness. We are accountable to him.

Keeping Your Religion And Your Guns

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Gun control has become a hot topic again because of recent tragedies. Politically, both sides of the American political spectrum are making their cases for and against tighter gun control. Some politicians are now beginning to openly call for the repeal of the Second Amendment.
My essay on this topic is not to address the political or social ramifications of the Second Amendment, U.S. political rights, or gun control. My first response to issues like these is to go directly to the scripture to see what principles we can appropriate to guide us in our views and actions. Yes, the Bible speaks to issues of weapons ownership, use, and misuse. The scriptures are sufficient for everything that we need for life and godliness.
So what ideas does the scripture put forth to help us navigate controversial waters such as these?