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I've added a new page of photos from our Vietnam trip before Chinese New Year. We had a retreat with our colleagues from several Asian countries. To see all the photos click on the photos link above in the navigation bar.
This will is just a quick recap of our time in Vietnam.
We had our retreat in Vietnam this year. It’s only about an hour and a half flight from Hong Kong. The weather was cooler and rainier than we expected, but still pleasant, nonetheless. There were red flags up at the beach every day, and other than the last two days, it was cloudy, and we had at least some rain.
We stayed a couple blocks from the beach in Da Nang, which is away from the main part of the city. The area where we were had constructions sites all over the place. Mostly the buildings going up seemed to be hotels. Ours was not right on the beach, but near enough, and was quite nice and roomy, and reasonable. Most meals were somewhere around $4-5 USD. We had lots of Vietnamese food, which we enjoyed but also pizza and even Mexican!
We had daily meetings from Sunday to Friday, which were good. The discussion this year was the interesting topic of Shame and Honor in relationship to telling the gospel story.
For most Westerners the gospel is explained more in legal terms, Sin, breaking God’s commandments, judgement, punishment and redemption. Those, of course are all part of the Gospel and coming to salvation, but that’s not where many of the non-Western cultures are. They would look at Adam and Eve’s fall as bringing shame and dishonor to God and to themselves, exemplified by realizing their nakedness.
Initially in creation God honored them by creating them in his image, making them managers of his creation, and giving them blessings and all good things. Salvation, therefore, is not seen so much in legal terms, but in God wanting to honor us. Because of the shame that sin brought it resulted in separation from God. However God came to bear that shame on the cross and now wants to restore that honor to us.
It’s not an alternate gospel as it’s totally scriptural, but it gives a broader concept of all that the Gospel and salvation does for us.
If you want to know more about that issue, you can go to honorshame.com/ , and watch the enlightening gospel presentation as it might be told in a fresh way to people who come from honor shame cultures. The video is called “Back to God’s Village.”
We’re back in Hong Kong now, and kick off our time back with three days church activity. Being Chinese New Year, we have 3 days of public holidays.
Wishing you all a Happy Chinese New Year of the Rooster.
I hope to get back on schedule next week. Blessings, Dave
At Ease or Uneasy
I found myself sighing with something like relief one day after reading a comment made by C.S. Lewis. He was responding to a statement made by a scholar who noted that he didn’t “care for” the Sermon on the Mount but “preferred” the ethics of the apostle Paul. As you might imagine, Lewis was bothered at the suggestion of Scripture alternatives between which we may pick and choose, and it was this that he addressed first. But his response also included an honest remark about the Sermon on the Mount as well, and this is what caught my attention. He wrote, “As to ‘caring for’ the Sermon on the Mount, if ‘caring for’ here means liking or enjoying, I suppose no one cares for it. Who can like being knocked flat on his face by a sledgehammer? I can hardly imagine a more deadly spiritual condition than that of the man who can read that passage with tranquil pleasure. This is indeed to be ‘at ease in Zion.'”(1)
To be “at ease in Zion” was the deplorable state of existence the prophet Amos spoke of in his harsh words to the Israelites hundreds of years before Jesus was giving sermons and causing commotion. Reeling in false security and erroneous confidence from their economic affluence and self-indulgent lifestyles, the Israelites, Amos warned, would be the first God would send into exile if they failed to heed his words: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion… who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches… you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood.”(2)
The Sermon on the Mount is equally startling. Lewis’s comparison of Christ’s words to a sledgehammer is not far off. Those potent chapters are not unlike the electric paddles used to shock the heart back to life, back to the rhythm it was intended to have.
The Sermon on the Mount is like the keynote address for the kingdom Christ came to introduce. On that mountainside, Jesus points out many of the mountains that blur visions of God in our very midst. He suggests that we may well not be seeing fully, not grasping reality as it really is. “You have heard that it was so…” he says again and again, “but I tell you…” His words are hard and thorough, and even the simplest of phrases is resonant with the promise of one who so values creation that he would join us within the very thick of it:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.(3)
Perhaps I have become at ease in Zion if I can lose sight of the one who wants to bless, who pours forth hope, who looks for opportunities to open eyes and hearts. Behind the haze of selfish ambition, guilt, or fear, Christ’s words become like a foghorn calling me to heed the hope of the one in our midst even when the following seems inconvenient at best, and more often impossible. “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.”(4) So easily I can move from the spiritual state of being at ease in Zion to being altogether ill at ease. Jesus is unapologetic about just how much there is at stake: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”(5)
For the crowds that gathered that day on the hillside, Jesus’s words were equally demanding. If God’s commandments were difficult before this sermon, they were now terrifying. Who can stand in this kingdom Jesus describes? And how is this good news? And yet, in the middle of his sermon Jesus proclaims astoundingly: “Do not worry.” To those trembling with the fear of certain failure and impending dread, he says with certainty: I am your way to all of this; I am your way through the law to flourishing. This, he says again at the point of the cross.
The Sermon on the Mount is a concentrated example of how Jesus lays down the law of God, even as he comes to fulfill it in a human body on our behalf. It is clear that he expects us to build the houses of our lives upon his own weighted words, even as he leads us to this house and welcomes us inside it. His very life cries out to all who are at ease in Zion, weary from self-indulgence, unaware of God at work among us. And his life also cries out to those who are ill at ease, unable to see God through their own convincing and consuming failure. Whichever scenario, his role is uncompromisable. He is both Lord to be obeyed and vicarious savior to bestow the very possibility.
~Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.
(1) C.S. Lewis,
(2) Amos 6:1-12.
(3) Matthew 5:8.
(4) Matthew 5:13.
Little Johnny asked his Grandma how old she was.
Grandma answered, "39 and holding."
Johnny thought about that and then asked: "And how old would you be if you let go?
@Sent Mike Niefert
A local Pastor joined a community service club, and the members thought they would have some fun with him.
Under his name badge they printed "Hog Caller" as his occupation. Everyone made a big fanfare as the badge was presented.
The Pastor responded by saying, "I usually am called the 'shepherd of the sheep'... but you know your people better than I do."
@Cybersalt Digest - Click here to subscribe: http://www.cybersalt.org/
Word Power New Words for the Week
2) Beelzebug (n.) Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at 3 in the morning and cannot be cast out.
3) Bozone (n.) The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4) Cashtration (n.) The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
5) Caterpallor (n.) The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
7) Dopelar effect (n.) The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when you come at them rapidly.
8) Extraterrestaurant (n.) An eating place where you feel you've been abducted and experimented upon. Also known as an ETry.
9) Faunacated (adj.) How wildlife ends up when its environment is destroyed. Hence faunacatering (v.), which has made a meal of many species.
10) Grantartica (n.) The cold, isolated place where art companies dwell without funding.
11) Intaxication (n.) Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
12) Kinstirpation (n.) A painful inability to move relatives who come to visit.
A tourist in Vienna is going through a grave yard and all of a sudden he hears some music. No one is around so he starts looking for the source. He finally locates the origin and finds that it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads "Ludwig von Beethoven, 17701827. Then he realizes that the music is the Ninth Symphony and it is being played backwards! Puzzled, he leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with him. By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward. Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar.
When they return with the expert, The Fifty Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th.
By the next day the word has spread and a crowd has gathered around the grave They are all listening to the second symphony being played backward. Just then the graveyard's caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the crowd asks him if he has an explanation for the music.
"Don't you get it?" the caretaker says. "He's decomposing!”
@Sent by Stan Hogshead
1. A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he wants. A woman will pay $1 a $2 item that she doesn't want.
2. A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worrie about the future until he gets a wife.
3. A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
4. To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and try not to understand her at all.
5. Married men live longer than single men, but married men are a lot more willing to die.
6. Any married man should forget his mistakes there's no use in two people remembering the same thing.
7. Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed. Women somehow deteriorate during the night.
8. A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.
9. A woman has the last word in any argument. Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
10. There are two times when a man doesn't understand a woman: before marriage and after marriage
@Sent by Ed Zinn