March 24, 2009
The days go by quickly, and much happens in a short time. Here is a 20 hour segment that I just got to enjoy.
March 22, 2009
Good morning! I’m writing from the backseat of a car en route to western Kenya. Our Gospel Revolution Seminar has really brought a revelation of God’s grace to pastors. Last night’s closing session was attended by Kenya’s Vice President, Mysukha Kalonzo. Pastors from every district of Kenya, as well as Rwanda and Tanzania are reporting that their lives have been radically changed.
March 18, 2009
I’m in my room now recuperating from the morning sessions and getting ready for the evening at our Pastors’ Gospel Revolution Seminar in Nairobi. We have delegates from every district in Kenya, as well as Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. Scott McIntyre from Celebration Bible College and Mary Felde from Oslo Christian Center are sharing in the teaching with me. When I say “recuperating” I don’t want you to think I’m sick. I inherited open pores genetically from my mom and grandfather, which means I perspire very easily; it really “pores” from me. When I preach in hot climates I get myself near dehydration after every session. So to recuperate is to fill up on H2O and get my electrolytes back; we have a lot do yet today.
March 16, 2009
After three wonderful services at the Celebration Church yesterday, I left for Africa at midnight. Now I have a seven hour layover in London, and, I must admit, I don’t think I will ever get fully adjusted to air-travel, security checks, lineups and your biological time-clock being turned upside down. I’ve found a quiet spot in a corner of Heathrow airport to try to sleep sitting in a chair: it’s not working very well. You can see the effect of the financial situation—-a lot less travelers than normal.
The title seems contradictory. Is there really such a thing as Christianity without the Gospel? It depends how we define Christianity. If it means to be born-again, saved and a follower of Jesus Christ then there is no Christianity without the Gospel. If on the other side we look at Christianity as an institutional religion, a doctrine or a mere Judeo Christian heritage, then it has little to do with the Gospel. Many today speak about threats against Christianity. There is a sense of being under attack from our secularized society, or from other religions, like Islam. We’re encouraged to fight against these forces if Christianity is going to survive, and many are doing just that: battling immorality, corruption and the secularizing forces.
Religious fervor is not new. Pope Urban II gave a stirring appeal at the Council of Clermont in 1095 AD. With the theme “Deus vult,” which means “God wills it,” he rallied people to go to war against the Islamic “infidels” that occupied Jerusalem. Young men from across Europe responded in a cause they believed to be from God. Parents viewed it as a privilege to see one of their sons dedicated to this “holy” crusade. Regrettably their cause was not to bring the word of reconciliation, but conflict and war.
Have you noticed how much God is mentioned in the public discourse? Politicians across the board end their speeches, “God bless America,” and some Canadian counterparts have added, “God bless Canada” as a closer. To talk about God or spiritual values is very non-offensive, but it gets a little sticky when Jesus is mentioned. Even then it depends on what aspect of Jesus you’re highlighting. When we speak of Jesus’ leadership skills, His servant-hood, His goal-setting abilities or the golden rule, everyone – atheist or believer – usually nods approvingly.
Today many around the world are filled with admiration for America, for its ability to renew itself, shed old prejudices and move forward. My grandfather immigrated to America almost 100 years ago, and through the twist and turns of my own life I have had an opportunity to live in America, although born in Europe.
When I enrolled in Zion Bible Institute in 1973 my roommate Steve Rodriquez, an African-American, opened my eyes to racism. This was brand new to me; I came from Sweden, which at that time, especially in the smaller towns and rural areas, was almost completely a homogenous country. We had little or no reason to interact with people of other races. Years of travel around the world and across America have caused me to hear many stories of prejudice and meet many who have been victims of terrible discrimination. Racism is an ugly sin, and regrettably the church has not always been at the forefront in rooting it out.
Passion for souls is a rare commodity. Let’s define the word. Passion is zeal, deep concern. In my blog last week, I talked about the value of a soul. I contrasted it with the emphasis we put on feeding the hungry, church buildings, programs for those who are already believers in Christ and humanitarian aid. These worldly projects receive multiplied billions of dollars, while very little is invested for the salvations of souls. Does that mean that I’m uncaring about people’s physical and material needs? Not at all. I’m grateful that United Nations, The World Health Organization, UNESCO, the US and Canadian governments, European governments, and a whole list of NGOs (Christians and others), who are relieving poverty. I believe it has helped many, and even lifted some out of poverty.