Welcome to tomthinking.com Tuesday, September 25 2018 @ 01:33 AM UTC

Mongolia Election Violence

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UPDATE (12:12AM ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA): PRESIDENT ENKHBAYAR HAS DECLARED A STATE OF EMERGENCY AND ORDERED THE SHUT DOWN OF ALL MEDIA EXCEPT STATE TV FOR FOUR DAYS.
EARLIER: I haven't gotten much sleep since the station began phoning me reports that protests over Mongolia's election results have turned violent. The MPRP HQ is under attack. Police have fired into the crowd. Protesters have become violent. There is bloodshed. Ambulances are on their way to address the injured. The MPRP building is on fire. Protesters are becoming more violent and blocking the access of emergency vehicles to the building and even pelting the fire engine with rocks. Army troops have been called to the scene. Eagle journalists estimate there could be as many as 20,000 protesters involved. If so, this would be the largest anti-government protest since Mongolia's peaceful democratic revolution.
While watching the events online through Skype, one our employees exclaimed, "I've never seen such a thing in Mongolia before! This is so scary!"
Eagle is broadcasting the events live, but apparently no other stations are reporting the events live. State TV did for a while, but for reasons unknown to me they have ceased. Though we did receive a report that their microwave equipment was damaged in the protest.
We are scrambling extra resources to cover the events. Associated Press is resourcing Eagle TV video for international coverage.
We have received some minor pressure to stop the broadcasts, but are continuing.

When Reality Beats Fiction

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I heard another wonderful story from the Steppe-by-Steppe team last week. While ministering in a Soum center last summer they learned that the person occupying the hotel room next to them was a Tibetan monk who traveled to the Soum three times a year to collect money from the townspeople and perform certain rituals to relieve their sufferings.
People from the Soum had been going to the monk for years with marital issues, financial issues, problems with their animals, crops, spiritual problems—you name it. They went to the monk for answers they thought that only the monk and his Buddhist ministrations could provide. In the testimony of the town's people, they kept going to him because they wanted to change their lives. There was only one problem.
Nobody's life was changing.

Mongolian Integrity

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Part of my grueling schedule of work, school, and Internet repair this week has been leading four days of strategy sessions with key members of our TV staff. We are in the process of evaluating the strengths and weakness of all programs and marketing. Our objective over the next few days is to completely reshape our TV operations in keeping with the higher level of competition in the marketplace.
My role has been training and coaching the team through the process of Mission, Goals, Strategy, and Tactics. I've truly enjoyed this role as I think it allows me to use my strengths with the staff as opposed to a top-down approach of strategy development and management. In fact, the more I've stepped back and listened, the more I've learned, and the more ownership our staff takes in our new direction. I couldn't be happier.
Yesterday as we were closing out our session, an interesting and sometimes heated discussion took place that grabbed my attention like nothing else for the last three days. We were discussing our marketing strategy for domestic news programming and the creation of sponsorable packages to better serve clients. A disagreement ensued between me and...uh...<I>everybody</I>...about a specific form of sponsorship for a certain news segment. I was advocating for a particular tactic, but the look I got from the staff said, "What are you? Nuts?"

Disappointed By My Night With The Queen

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I sat down in my hotel room in Beijing on Friday night to waste away a couple of hours on a movie – One Night with the King. The movie, now on DVD, tells the story of Esther, the biblical figure who saved the Jewish nation from destruction at the hands of Haman. Now, I may be late in seeing this movie compared to most back in the States, but when I did watch it I confess that I was disappointed.
One Night with the King was promoted as one of the best-produced movies based upon the Bible in decades. In many ways that is true. It’s production values, acting, directing, all very good. When I first read about the movie and saw the previews I was hoping it could be another movie for Eagle TV to use to tell the Bible’s story. After all, the official website for the movie asserts boldly: “The True Story of Queen Esther.”
It is not the true story of Queen Esther. It is a mix of biblical elements, speculation, and downright fiction. Only a completely made up story using the same names would be further from the truth.

Not So Subjective A Thing

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I’ve spent a great deal of time during the last few weeks talking with Mongolian Christians about their desire to reach all of Mongolia for Christ. If there is one thing that Mongolian Christians are not short of, it is passion for the Great Commission and their country.
One question I ask every person I speak with is, “What is it about the Gospel, or what evidences in the Gospel convinced you that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God?”
In the past whenever I’ve been asked a question like that I’ve always given answers about Biblical evidences: Fulfilled prophecies about Jesus, the truthfulness and accuracy of the Bible, etc. But what I’ve received from my Mongolian brothers and sisters is very different. Perhaps all these years I’ve been giving the wrong answer?
“What is it about the Gospel that convinced you that Jesus is the Son of God?” How would you respond that question? Recently, every single Mongolian believer I’ve asked, without a single exception, has provided the exact same answer.
God’s love.

I Sent My Daughter Away

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This is one of those blog entries that I wonder if I should post. It is so personal, so gut-wrenching personal.
I sent my daughter away.
It’s hard to describe at this moment, not quite an hour after Stefani’s plane took off, how desperately alone I feel. It was time for Stefani to go back to America, prepare for college, and learn how to begin living life on her own. It was time. And I know that what I’m experiencing at this moment is not unusual for parents who send their kids off on their own. It’s not usual. I’ve seen other parents send their kids away, halfway around the world—as I just have, knowing that I won’t be seeing my daughter for a very long time. Knowing that she’s not just around the corner, or down the street, across town, or even in the next State. Very soon her bright days will be my dark nights. But I know it’s not unusual. I know that the emotional earthquake inside will calm over time. I know. Still it’s hard for me to contain.
I sent my daughter away.
It was the right thing to do, but the overwhelming sense of guilt and loss at this moment is hard to take. I can’t recall ever feeling this alone. Not ever.
I moved up Stefani’s original date for departure by 8 months because I thought it was the right thing to do. It was the right thing to do. I’m her dad. Her future is my first concern, even if it means losing her early. As hard as it was, she also thought it was the right thing to do too. Still…
I sent my daughter away.

Communism Lite Strikes Again

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With dismay but not surprise I read the news about Venezuela’s dictator Hugo Chavez making a move to shut down the only independent TV station in his country, RCTV—one that routinely opposes Chavez’s communism and takes a stand for restored freedoms in that South American country. Thousands of protestors took to the streets in a remarkable demonstration for freedom of speech and press, demanding that Chavez restore the license to the station instead of letting it expire. Even worse, over the weekend military forces swept in and seized the TV station’s equipment before the deadline expiration.
Rhetorical question: Why are military forces need to seize domestic broadcast equipment?
In RCTV’s place Chavez is placing a new station patterned after his brand of communism. It will be one more in the many stations already bowing the head to Chavez’s communist propaganda machine.

The Rightness of the Rope for Saddam Hussein

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It is both sad and interesting to see the world’s reaction to the execution of Saddam Hussein. I’ve long been an advocate of the death penalty. If carried out with caution and extreme care, it is a proper tool for administering justice and preventing future evils against societies.
There are a lot of good arguments for the abolitionist view of capital punishment, some of which I sympathize with. But I think the arguments for the retentionist view are far stronger, and much more in line with the Bible’s teaching—though retentionists do have some faults of their own. Clearly, the manner in which most capital punishment is carried out in modern societies does not meet the biblical standards. The death penalty is often assigned on circumstantial evidence—though often very strong. The biblical standard is multiple witnesses if guilt for execution is to be established. This does not mean that a person is not guilty and should not be punished, only that the standard necessary for a death penalty hasn’t been met. The penalty is often carried out too quickly, sometimes within hours or days of a sentence—especially in the Islamic world. But the Islamic world isn’t known for its mercy. In Saddam’s case I think a quick execution was justified. The facts surrounding his nearly 30 years of murders were more than enough to warrant the gallows, even though the actual trial only focused on an incident of 148 deaths.
In the case of Saddam Hussein, the biblical evidence necessary for Christians to support his execution was met, and passed, and circled several times.

First Source Ethics

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Recently I’ve been developing a new series of Bible studies on Basic Christian Ethics for use with our Steppe-by-Steppe project and Ministry Production department. The studies I’m developing now will be used as the framework to create a 10-episode TV series that will begin airing in the fall season.
As I’ve been studying through a list of ten ethics, I’ve approached the series from what some might consider a rather unusual point of view (my usually unusual points of view notwithstanding). I have a number of titles in my library on ethical studies at various levels: Do the Right Thing, Francis J. Beckwith, Moral Choices, Scott B. Rae, How Now Shall We Live, Charles Colson, Ethics, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There are others sitting on my shelves that touch on the subject on ethics, but for most there is a problem.

Fear & Free Media

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“All fear societies are based on a certain degree of brainwashing. State-controlled television, radio, and newspapers glorify the actions of the regime’s leaders and incite their populations against those it deems to be enemies.”


The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror, has given me extra insight into the condition of media in Mongolia—and our mission of Faith and Freedom.
My ability to read the latest western books is limited by living in Mongolia (where’s a Barnes and Noblebaatar when you need one?) but during a recent trip to the States I stocked up with a good year’s supply of reading material. Sharansky’s book was my last pick-up; at the Denver airport while suffering through an 8-hour delay. Thank God for airport delays! The Case For Democracy, is one of the most insightful books on political freedom I’ve read.
You may remember from an earlier commentary that a recent analysis by Mongolia’s Press Institute and Globe International found that while there is sufficient media freedom for journalists to pursue their craft, there is, in practice, less freedom because of how ideological control of the media has developed over recent years. Keep in mind that Mongolia is a young democracy, without the foundation of Judeo-Christian traditions from which modern political freedom sprang (I explore this issue in my forthcoming book, Faith & Freedom: How the missionary principle facilitates political freedom). Like any nation going through a major political change, there are significant issues to grapple with and problems to overcome as the society experiments with new social concepts. Allow me to illustrate.