Tug of War

Berlin Sans FB – In summertime, tug-of-war is standard game people play at fairly large gatherings. I saw this commercial with people pulling on a large rope but I had to wonder. If you couldn’t see either end of the rope, how would you know if you are pulling in the right dirrection? Would you even know what team you are pulling for? The Oxford English Dictionary says that the phrase ‘tug of war’ originally meant the decisive contest; the real struggle or tussle; a severe contest for supremacy. Only in the 19th century was it used as a term for an athletic contest between two teams who haul at the opposite ends of a rope. The origins of this sport is relatively unknown, but I like the OED definition. There is a a severe contest of supremacy going on. The challenger is Satan and he has many demons on his team. God and his angels make up the other team. Those of us who aren’t pulling for God’s team are pulling for the other team. Unlike when TOW was an olympic event, you don’t win silver for comming in second in this sort of race. God could win this thing easy, but he’s being slow about it, knowing that some people from the other team will choose to pull on His team if given enough time to make that decision. 



Secularity is the state of being separate from religion. One approximate synonym for secular is worldly; another could be phrased as neutral in religious matters. Approximate antonyms for secular are religious and devout. Secularism is an assertion or belief that religious issues should not be the basis of politics, a movement that promotes those ideas or (in the extreme) an ideology that holds that religion has no place in public life. Secularist organizations are distinguished from merely secular ones by their political advocacy of such positions.

Sacred means to be set apart by solemn religious ceremony; especially, in a good sense, made holy; set apart to religious use; consecrated; not profane or common; as, a sacred place; a sacred day; sacred service. Holiness is to be exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.

Over and Out

Bell MT – Monday, I gave you the statistics about the Ten Forty (I keep on wanting to write it as Fourty) Window. Teusday was a day in the life of a Christian in an ally nation. Today I looked up news stories that say pretty much the same thing. About three thousand Christian families have fled their homes in Mosul, a city in Iraq (The number of actual people could be higher because families come in all shapes and sizes.)

Most of us could never imagine what life is like on the other half of the world everyday and how it changes once people identify themselves as Christians. Granted the 10/40 Window is huge and Christians don’t have equal treatment accross the board. Some areas are much more tolerant of Christians than other areas are.

The question is how do we bring the gospel in the areas where being a Christian could cost you your life? Christian, could you enter a country where your family might be murdered? Would you be able to face torture and death? If the Christians who have lived in the land are leaving it, will you enter it?

This isn’t the sort of area where you can throw money out of your car window and it’ll go away. One thing we can do is find out who is over there and support them with prayer. We can pray for a surge of truth brought into western knowledge. We can pray for an unprecedented ‘opening’ of the governments to allow missionaries to spread the gospel message. We can take up an offering to help missionaries who are serving over there.  There are three thousand Christian families who need us to help them out, food, shelter, and the basics.

Like the Bible says, 2 Corinthians 8:13-15, “13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.””

Life in the Ten-Four(ty)

Baskerville Old Face – You awaken to an unusually warm day as the seasons are changing. A leaflet left on every doorstep in your neighborhood by a small extremist group tells you nothing new, as one who had converted from the state religion, you deserve death. As long as they do not know that you have left their religion you are safe. Two houses up the street from your own a small group of people have gathered. Bullet holes riddle the building’s front door. The man that lived here had you had introduced you to Christ. Now he is with Him. You can’t mourn for him here, but the sadness rips through your heart. Slowly your feet shuffle away.

You are walking to the market because you will be hosting a small gathering in the evening and it was neccessary to buy more food. You notice a new checkpoint at the entrance of your neighborhood. They demand to see your card and take a long time to note your religious identification. The don’t say nice things about it, but there is nothing you can do.

The market is in a great hurry as it always is. The hustle and bustle tends to make it a target, but all people are in such a hurry they hope that they won’t be there when it is targeted. You buy what you need quickly and begin home.

The bullet-ridden home stabs your heart as you remember so many good things. You cannot stiffle the cry of your heart. Footsteps behind you have fallen in the same rhythm as your own. You look behind you and see nobody. Your pace quickens and so does the echo behind you. You think you see something moving in the shadows, but aren’t certain. Your heart skips a beat as you pick up the pace to make it home. Before you enter your house, you look left and right. The coast is clear. Long due tears fall from your eyes.

In as little as an hour your friends arrive in small groups. Today you are hosting the house church. Maybe as many as seven might show up, but too many more would risk attention and that nobody can afford. You open the service with a prayer of safety and a prayer of comfort for all of you knew the man that had been killed last night. No sooner than do you pass out the Bibles does a knock come at the door. The youngest member looks up with a mixture of fear and worry on his face. You turn to the door to see who has arrived.

Twelve men are there with the symbol of the religous police on their van behind them. You are declared guilty of having unsanctioned religous material. All of the Bibles you had worked so hard to find are piled up in the street and burned. All eight of you are arrested. They ask if you would consider returning to your former religion. You decline and are introduced to a world of pain.

Bruised, bleeding, and in pain, you are shoved into a cell. It’s very possible that you will one day be released, but not before you are a shade of the person you are. Maybe there will be nothing to you in physical strenth, but the experience will make you spiritually stronger than you thought ever possible. You pray for the other Christians who were arrested along with you. Deep in your heart, you thank God that you know Him and that He loves you because He is all you have.

(In the above story you are a Christian living in the Middle East in one of the nations that the U.S.A. considers as an ally. Life for Christians in the other nearby nations is much more difficult. The Christians in Mosul and Dora, for example are faced with very real threats of death. They are in need of support and prayer from us. The Bible is not a welcome book in their country, but they want nothing more.)

Ten Four(ty)

Arial – (I went to the doc’s today and was given something anti-bacterial for the cough, so I guess it’s a good thing. According to the record books, I was last there two years ago. It’s the price you pay for staying healthy. On other news, things seem pretty nasty out there with the bad economy and financial crisis world wide. I have yet to figure out how they managed to owe more money combined than the world has if all money were added together at one value. I’m not so worried because I’m on God’s team and he has my back.)

The 10/40 Window is a term to refer those regions of the eastern hemisphere located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator. The 10/40 Window concept highlights these three elements: an area of the world, with great poverty and low quality of life, combined with lack of access to Christian resources.  Roughly two-thirds of the world population lives in the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is populated by people who are predominantly Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animist, Jewish or Atheist. Many governments in the 10/40 Window are formally or informally opposed to Christian work of any kind within their borders.

The original 1990 GIS 10/40 Window analysis produced several insights, among them showing that the nations of the 10/40 Window represent (as of the research date):
82% of the poorest of the world’s poor (per capita GNP less than US$500 per year),
84% of those with lowest quality of life (life expectancy, infant mortality, and literacy),
the hub of the world’s major non-Christian religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc,)
close to 100% of those who are both most-poor and have least-access to Christian resources (two-dimensional analysis)
The least Christian resource investment and least sharing of the Christian message
The GIS analysis utilized country-level data from the Operation World almanac, the World Christian Encyclopedia, and the World Factbook.

The first edition GIS analysis maps highlighted the three major religious blocks in the 10/40 Window, specifically the majority Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist nations.
Later updates have been based more on census data and other estimates rather than forward-looking population estimates. The cited reference provides the following estimate of “unreached” non-Christian populations in the Window:
865 million Muslims or Islamic followers
550 million Hindus
275 million Buddhists
140 million in 2550 tribal groups (mainly animist)

The 10/40 Window encompasses Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chad, China, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Western Sahara, and Yemen. These are all eastern hemisphere nations with at least 50 percent of their land mass falling within 10 to 40 degrees latitude.

-The Wikipedia article pertaining to the 10/40 Window, Sadly, since 1990, not much has changed other than Japan and China have become wealthier, but the need for Christ is as great and maybe even greater.

Religion, Listening, and Doing

Verdana – James 1:19-27, ” 19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
 22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who
listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Just because Christianity is a relationship, we are not free from the religion aspect of watching out for orphans and widows. We are to behave ourselves. In the times of the Bible, orphans and widows had one thing in common. They were excluded from society because it was, in essence, a man’s world. The widow had no husband, the orphans had no mother or father. Few people would dare give them a second thought. The down-and-out of today’s society is a much wider category. There are still widows who could use company, orphans who need to know you care, youth in want of guidance, adults looking for help, the elderly who want to know that they have not been forgotten, the ill who wonder just where have their friends been, those in prison who don’t want you to give up on them, and many others looking for the love of Christ but don’t know where to begin.

This is where listening and doing come into play. A Bible with only listening is like a movie without a music soundtrack. It just doesn’t feel right. A Bible with only doing is like a color movie shot in they silent film style. It’ll look good, but that’s pretty much it. Too long have we ‘listened’ about our responsibilities and skipped out on ‘doing’ it. There are too many people in need of Him for me to go about my day ignoring them. Other Christians do that plenty.

“To keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Is a task sometimes easier said than done. We know the evidence of what it is to be in the world, anger, envy, lust, … and we know the proof that we’re in Christ, love, long-suffering, faith, … It’s very easy to exhibit traits of both. We’re human. We can’t use that as an excuse though. We have to work on traiding in the worldly evidence for Christian proof. James has advice for that. Get rid of the worldy evidence and accept the Word.

A Rare Request

Tw Cen MT – I’m usually a very healthy person. Only when a cold goes around do I get sick. Lately though, I’ve been wracked by coughing attacks. At first I guess they weren’t bad enough to notice until my dad pointed it out. I’ve been coughing, seemingly every day since. It’s been going on for a few weeks or so. The coughs of themselves aren’t very bad. It’s just worrisome when it could be an indication of a more serious condition. Say one that I’m genetically predisposed to and had been exposed to a substance that causes another form of it anyway. Today the coughing attacks have been slightly worse, but I can go several hours without a coughing attack between them. When it gets worse, I can go only a few minutes with barely a chance to catch my breath, but it lasts a short time. I’m hopeful that the coughing is a result of the change of seasons, the accumulation of too much dust, or the sudden development of an allergy. If it’s not though, I think I could be brave if the symptom got worse and proved it was caused by the aforementioned condition. I think I could meet it in battle and come out victorious. Until then, I have discovered that Hall’s Blue Ice Cough Drops can’t be beat by any other flavor. So if you could, please pray for me that no matter what the coughing is a symptom of that I can get through it. While you’re at it, please pray for two people from my church.  The first is a woman who has just discovered that she has cancer. The second is another woman who has recently learned that she has six months to live.

It’s so easy to get caught up in living we don’t realize how fortunate we are just to be alive. There are the days that we don’t even know how close we were to dying. When I wasn’t even a year old I nearly died once. Meningitis. Fortunately for my parents the docotor recognized the symptoms and sent me to the hospital right away. I don’t remember that week. So the theory that almost dying will change your life only holds water if you can remember it. It’s much the same way with sin. It’s the symptom that something isn’t right with your heart. (And you’re nature for that matter.) A blood transfusion from the donor Jesus will cure you. The question is if you want to be cured and give up your rights to your life.