The Question That Never Goes Away

I am a fan of Philip Yancey's writing.  His books always feel so raw, so real.  They speak to my heart and express in words things I am not always able to articulate.  I was intrigued when I found out he was writing a sequel of sorts (30 years later) to Where is God When it Hurts?  THAT book sold over 1.5 million copies, which goes to show how many people are asking hat same question.

Which brings me to Yancey's latest work, The Question That Never Goes Away.  

Here Yancey addresses those questions that still linger..."Why God?" and "Where is God when we suffer?"  These are not easy questions to answer.  In fact, just like many of his books, Yancey does not so much answer the question as he looks at the question in different ways.  His latest book takes you through many recent tragedies like Sandy Hook, the tsunami in Japan and visits Sarajevo to see the state of recovery over a decade and a half later.  

Philip Yancey asks the questions on everyone's lips.  I found comfort in reading this book.  Yancey looks at Psalm 23 in a way I never have noticed before and it sent me to the Word to read the Psalm and to make a few notes.

I also appreciated the attention he gave to "being present" with those who are hurting.  Instead of saying the wrong thing, Yancey encourages the reader to BE the church and to BE with those who suffer loss, pain, etc. 

A great stand alone book, this also makes a great companion to his previous works on the topic of pain.

I received a free copy of this book via the Booksneeze review program.


The Super Bowl, Human Trafficking and an iPhone App

The Super Bowl is one of the larger venues where human trafficking is rampant.

The USA Today has an article up right now that talks about the Super Bowl and human trafficking:

Human Trafficking at the Super Bowl


Here is some info on Human Trafficking from the Salvation Army: http://salvationist.ca/action-support/human-trafficking/

In addition, the Salvation Army has launched the first ever app that helps people spot the key signs someone may be being trafficked.

It is available on all iPhone and Android phones and is free to download http://sar.my/ahtapp 



So I was driving down the road this week and came across this song by the Sidewalk Prophets. I have never heard their music before. This song is from their 2nd Album, Live Like That.  

I found these words challenging

The first verse about brokenness reminds me of when we were preparing to leave Croatia.  Our friend prayed over us as we were going to leave and all I remember her praying was that God would break us.  I thought she was the worst friend in the world.

It took some time but I discovered the benefits of that prayer.  God did take us through a period of surrender and brokenness. Our lives were forever changed.

My prayer is that I live a life like this everyday.

I want Jesus Christ to be my one desire.

What about you?

Are you willing to allow God to break you, empty you out and make you lonely to the point where He is your one desire?


5 Questions With Don Richardson

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Don Richardson.

Following his 15 years of missionary service under World Team among tribal peoples in Papua, Indonesia, Don Richardson became a conference speaker representing World Team on behalf of Christian missions. He has authored numerous books.  His teaching and writing ministry has spread internationally and continues to this day. 

Don's books, Peace Child, Eternity in their Hearts and Lords of the Earth were the first mission books I ever read and profoundly influenced me as I began my own time as a missionary in Croatia.

OK, let's get to it:

1.What are Redemptive Analogies?

A redemptive analogy is something within a culture - a custom, ritual, tradition or story - that is cherished by the people in that culture but also anticipates an aspect of redemption provided in Jesus Christ. By the way, redemptive analogies are redemptive only in the sense of facilitating understanding as a lead-up to redemption.  Redemption itself rests solely on Christ's atoning self-sacrifice.  Redemptive analogies are either specific or generic.  

A. Specific redemptive analogies are found only in one culture or a select group of cultures: e.g., the Sawi peace child, the Asmat new birth, the Yali place of refuge, the Dyak scapeboat, the way the Chinese formed their word for "righteous," etc. The Apostle John favors specific redemptive analogies: logos, lamb of God, serpent of brass, et al in his Gospel. 

B. Generic redemptive analogies are common to all or almost all cultures: e.g., analogies based on marriage, parenting, farming, building, teaching, warring, commerce, working, music, sports, etc. The Apostle Paul, who moved constantly from one culture to the next, favored generic redemptive analogies in his epistles. 

2. Where do you see missions today as compared to 30 years ago?

Today's missionary activity is ever so much more varied, culture-sensitive, widespread and focused than it was in the past, especially more than 30 years ago.  Opportunities abound for people of all ages and from all walks of life to participate in cross-cultural ministry via short-term, project-focused trips. Veterans of such trips frequently commit to longer-term service.  Missionaries now serve in countries where a visa stamp of "missionary" prohibits entry; but they artfully enter and work therein as educators, medical professionals, engineers, environmental specialists, artisans, etc. Many mission agencies now recognize the wisdom of sending out workers with a heart to take the Gospel and help plant churches, via professions desired by the "host" countries.    

3. In your opinion, what challenges lay ahead for missions?

A. Recession-induced difficulty of raising and then retaining, let alone increasing, levels of financial support.

B. The resurgence of ultra-Calvinism in our midst. If this claim startles you, read my latest, Heaven Wins (2013). Surprise will soon give way to shock as I expose the aberrations that Augustine, Calvin, Luther and their state-church-favoring ilk imposed in place of the benign apostolic character the Church was meant to manifest and the mission she was created to fulfill. Tens of thousands of graduates from Reformed seminaries have been 'left in the dark' about the full story. Chagrin follows shock when readers discover how each aberration corresponds to at least one aspect of Calvinism's 'TULIP' formula. Defining God's grace as a force that operates irresistibly, for example, translates to the church unleashing similarly irresistible force against fellow-Christians like the Donatists, against critics, heretics, Jews and Muslims. Dutch Reformed Christians in South Africa, e.g., found racist apartheid to be thoroughly consistent with their theology. They refused even to baptize blacks who believed in Jesus. When Anabaptist missionaries arrived later and insisted on baptizing black converts, Dutch Reformed Christians forcibly deported the Anabaptists from South Africa! Any resurgence of that kind of theology - even if it seems benign at first - has the potential to resort to its own historical precedents over time.

C. The American population's naivete regarding what Islam is up to and capable of. I wrote Secrets of the Koran (2003) hoping to dilute that naivete to at least some degree. 

4. I noticed on your website
that you have turned to creating amazing works of art. How did that develop? 

In my youth, I constantly drew and painted my favorite things. Many thought I was destined to a career in art. Eventually, finding that whereas pictures tend merely to captivate, words have a much greater potential to motivate, I shifted my focus to speaking and writing.  However, in late 2007, after 44 years without touching a brush to canvas, I sensed God leading me to rediscover and employ the gift He had imparted earlier so as to depict positive aspects of Papuan humanity.  

5. You served on the mission field for years, then later worked with the US Center for World Missions, what are you currently involved in?

As minister-at-large for World Team, I accept invitations to speak nationwide and, to a lesser degree, worldwide. Yet all the while I have kept pursuing, and believe I have actually found the ultimate redemptive analogy for all of mankind. It proves to be a comprehensive, fully-integrated 22-law 'unified field' under-girding everything that true theology and valid science have been testifying to for ages. That is what my 5th book, Unhidden (2010, 2nd ed.--available on my website, www.donrichardsonbooksales.com)--is all about. In Unhidden, I zealously defend, for example, God's Genesis 1:6 planar mode of creating the cosmos against the Big bang Cosmology's everything-emerged-from-a-single-point concept.  

First God selects an "expanse" in space-time. On that vast expanse, God first creates and then immediately "separates" an atop-the-expanse plasma of antimatter (designated as "waters") from a seemingly identical under-the-expanse plasma of matter ("waters" again).

This contrasts ever so opportunely with Big Bang Cosmology's concept of a beginning in which matter and antimatter from catastrophically intermixed at a single point, resulting in their immediate mutual annihilation followed by the arduous task of trying to explain how this well-ordered cosmos could result from such and utter disaster.
Thank You Don!

Bless you Rick!

If you get the chance, check out Don's website here.  


High Speed Crash - Just A Thought #59

Though never officially diagnosed, I always believed I was a bit ADHD.  Growing up I was the kid who fidgeted constantly.  I would tap my hands while reading a book, watching tv, etc...  I moved around when talking on the phone and could never sit still for long.  As a kid I was called hyper...as an adult, annoying!

I just always seemed to have "nervous energy" and was in constant motion.  I talked a mile a minute and could have given an auctioneer a run for his money.  For those who have taken the True Colors test, I am a high Orange!

"Slow down", was something I heard a lot as a child.  Well, ok--I heard that as an adult as well.

When I preached I would walk around constantly and talk as fast as I walked.

One friend talked to me about using concentrated movement when I spoke.  I tried to apply it with limited success.  A management course I was in the last couple years taught me a lot about personality types, etc... It helped a bit.  Then I had a "high speed crash" and my life has never been the same.

A little over a year and a half ago I had a concussion--my 6th--and it left me altered in some ways.  Mostly in my speech and the speed of my responses.  I have been forced to slow down when I talk or else I stumble over my words more.  Sarah says that my speed now is normal for most people but for me it feels as though I am swimming through molasses!  Yet this slower time has allowed me to process more what is happening around me.  Suddenly all of the stuff I have been hearing the last couple years is jelling together.  The concentrated movement, the personality stuff and the concussion have all combined to make a ....new Rick in some ways.

I am more contemplative, more aware, more reflective and at times a bit more emotional than I used to be.  The old "speedy" me crops up from time to time but when it does, I usually say something silly....like pointing at a snowman picture and repeatedly calling it Santa Claus or telling my daughter to "have good", when she is going to a friends house, instead of "have fun."

However, I take comfort in 2 verses.  They have taken on new meaning to me.  One is found in Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." The other is found in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

I am aware that my behavior and the way I interact with others has changed somewhat.  I am also aware that, as we go deeper with God and press into Him more, He changes us as well.  I believe that He has used this concussion in a way that allows me to be more dependent on Him.   I am trusting that the change He is bringing runs deeper than how I operate post-concussion. 

Many want to change things in the new year, but the challenge is to let God be the one to work the change in us.