Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Unga to Inga

Currently Mike is doing a series on the Kingdom of God at Ashraya. Then I am also exposed to writings such as Rob action plan.

These thoughts have me thinking, many times 'the kingdom of heaven' is used in the bible. Do I really understand what that means for me. As a first start I checked wikipedia. According to Jesus, the Kingdom of God is within (or among) people[3], it is approached through understanding,[4] and entered through acceptance like a child,[5] spiritual rebirth,[6] and doing the will of God.[7] It is a kingdom peopled by the righteous[8] and is not the only kingdom [9].

That very much sounds to me like something here now. Yet most of my education points to that really it is all about heaven... 'in my house there are many rooms' but in truth Jesus asked his disciples to go out and teach about the kingdom of heaven before he died... his death was the door to eternal life the door that I have chosen to go through when I die. And to prove it I will live in Jesus' kingdom of heaven now, while I live.

Sometime in the future the kingdom of heaven will be the only kingdom. But for now for me it is here... how do I live in this kingdom?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Right now in our office we are doing a secret santa between different people, a little gift every day. Right now I have an apple on my desk. Pushing all my pessimism out the window I say I am happy, I am glad I have an apple, a gift, apples taste good, and I will peal the skin off and eat it... later, right now I am looking at it and smiling that I got a gift.

Some of the people are trying to figure out who is giving to them, others asking why they do not get something each morning... I am happy to receive. I am happy to give, disappointed when I see my gift given to another, that tells me I do not know my charge very well. :(

For several years I and I know many others have been trying to figure out this whole holiday gift giving thing. Frustrated by giving to each and every person and getting back in return. The economy is hinged on this season and the need to give and be given to... even if there is no heart in the gift.***

How can we say I love and respect you so much I did not buy you anything. Yet I did buy something for everyone else around you? I just sent a box to the states it has a gift in it for everyone but my father. We went out of our way to buy a gift for a seven year old because her brother had something in the box. But I have not given to my dad.

What if that was the case for me.** I am such a pathetic person unable to receive a gift well, Nancy is thinking of getting me a carved elephant that I kinda want, unlike many other elephants this one has both the body and head hollowed out so the whole body is a lace of stone (all others i have seen have been the body only.) Last night Nancy flat out asked if I would be happy if I got it. The truth is no... i did not buy it then because the craftsmanship was not what I desired, for me to appreciate it I would need to go see many other carved elephants to know that the craftsmanship is on par. Then and only then would I really appreciate the gift.

So I am stuck in between a rock and a hard place. I have trouble giving good gifts, I have trouble getting gifts.

Now one thing I plan to do is give to our friends in the slum, thinking many articles of clothing and other stuff... but will that be good? It is to those that can not give back equally. But will I give the right stuff?

Someone needs to write a manual on how to give and how to receive. I can tell you it would be a best seller. It would be even better if it was a Christ based book. I know I would buy it.

***Actually there is some heart in just trying... that only works when received well
**That happened last year, we drew names and while I got every gift I was supposed to I was dumbfounded by not getting anything from my brother.
*There is even a movie I might see if I was in the states.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The cost

I have had a cold this past week... coughing a lot esp when I lay down. When Nancy coughs like that I ask her to sleep in another room. I asked if she wanted me to she said no, but loving her I went out to the living room to sleep... after a couple of days I realized that sleeping on my stomach was the best for reducing the number of coughing fits. But the coughing fits still kept me up during the night. Giving me plenty of time to think, and mourn all the 'troubles' in my life. Being a pessimist I was having trouble remembering good stories I could tell my daughter about my past but i could remember lots of 'sins' I was not proud of. This made me more sad, then all these things that are so much frustration about being in another country. And the changes that are happening in my heart. So much 'cost' in my life, not much is easy right now like i 'used' to have.

This is when I went to lay next to Nancy who was reading her Bible: she read aloud "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." That sure did lift my mood. Nancy and I then had a conversation about good stories of my life... she prattled off eight one right after another. That further lifted my spirits.

A year ago I read Luke Chapter 14 about considering the cost of following Jesus. And I knew full well that following God to India would bring challenges upon me. And now here they were... not even big ones and i was almost ready to call it quits. But God quickly showed me the light.

I considered the cost, I chose, now I need to follow through with my choice, even when I have to travel through the 'muck' that makes up the path of this journey.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is it all about relationships?

In college I drew a series of poster sized drawings, in the center was a 2 foot tall stick figure, he was hanging by one hand onto the index finger of realistic hand that spread across the top. Along the bottom on one was water, on another fire... Last in the series is the stick figure curled up laying on the hand, a much safer place.

This past week my definition of culture shock and change was revised. What I thought was culture is only American vs Indian. But my culture is so much more. There is also my corporate culture way of living vs. a Jesus trust centered way of living. That means there is so much more that is available in my life for change. My organized way of living and thinking and working is also open game for change, all of me is open for change.

I am again hanging from the hand.

I was also reminded again this week that I let go of my goals I need to not make new ones.

I need to hold onto the hand...

I think the biggest thing that I am thinking now is all of life is about relationships. First with God, through Jesus, then on into other people.

...the Hand.

I am also thinking that I need to filter all my Living Theology thoughts with the Bible, find concepts in the Bible that support what I think. Not just verses out of context but passages in context.

...the Hand.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Messages from God

I have been aware for some time that at different times I am bombarded by a single theam of learning. These come at me in songs, my Bible reading, sermons, and life in general.

A while back it was 'Wait upon the Lord'

Last week it was being a christian is hard, the path is narrow and it has many hills and valleys and rocks on it. So many times we tell future Christians about the joy and good but do not let them know the hardship and cost. -What I have titled my Blog

This week it is the poor as supposed to be among us, our friends. With Rob Wegner's blog post being one of the sources.

I really need to start noteing these down consistanly so I can go back and see what the Lord is teaching me in my life over time.

A good map

Here in Chennai I have a great tool called the Eicher city map of Chennai. This 185 page book is great to help me know where i am in this strange land where most people do not even know themselves.

I am finding out that most people do not know how to read maps here. After looking it the book they will finally say 'well i don't think the book is accurate my house is about here.' I find it best to just go outside, walk up the street to the left a ways then the right looking at the landmarks. Then I will look at the book and without fail I find that the book is indeed very accurate. Their house does indeed exist on the map, and where they pointed was off by a couple blocks or more.

Do I treat the Bible like that? Saying that it is close but not accurate? Only to find out later that it is really very accurate?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The New Tithe

Does the tithe always have to be money or is it more?

In the bible Abraham gave a 10th of all he had. Sheep, cattle, slaves everything of value to him.

But now, in America, what is most valuable. Money has lost its value, 10% of what we have is a lot, it will hurt some, but after a little while it is just part of the bills.

What has the most value is time. We value it much more than money. And maybe for the idea of a tithe to work we should not only give that cash, that bill to God, but also think about giving 10% of your time. 2.4 hours a day to God. No not the sleeping hours, but the waking ones. Use the time in service, in Bible reading, as a sacrifice to God.

Granger Community church has Second Saturday... 5 hours of service on the second Saturday of the month. Easy in Easy out. There are bible reading plans for 15-20-30 min a day.

Would you do like the idea of iFIX and go fix problems in your community?

Would this work? or is it too much? Is this the next big thing, would it be a flash in the pan fad of Christianity? Could it work long term in affluent prone areas?

Bringing Heaven To Earth... Now

First I need to admit I am not up and fully educated on the idea of the 'emergent church' or what ever else it wants to be called or will be called. I know that there are people out there that see the way "Christianity" is done to be wrong, to need to change, because the world changed or because Christians just focused too hard in the wrong area and neglected what is more important.

The shift I see is present in America (living only two months away from there is changing my point of view) and most of the talk seams to be from those that live a life unable to zoom out to see the big picture, or who's big picture has anything other than the way they live as so surreal that it is fiction.

The truth be told the majority of the world knows nothing beyond themselves... like dare I say three blind men walking up to different parts of an elephant and describing it. In Christ following and Christian Church there is a need for change, and there is change happening. I am starting to see / feel the pull of that change. I am watching some of the leaders and those that closely follow them. Like a landslide the first crumbs have broken off, the larger piece are following now, and the whole mass of land behind it is starting to shift. Soon we will all be heading down the hill for who knows how long. And the stop at the bottom, will the land mass be in one piece still, or will it be such a jumble that it looks completely different?

To get more concrete in my thoughts about the change i am seeing. There is a shift from the idea that being a Christian is a life insurance plan of eternal significance to importance to how we live now. "how to bring heaven to earth now" is the question. Increasingly this has a environmental stewardship answer.

Chad Hall is talking about it here.

Rob Wegner talked about it here.

Rob Bell and Matt Krick and others talked about it at some Mars Hill Bible Church messages this past summer. number 444

But really how much of the Bible is about gardening (or other aspects of taking care of the earth.) Most of the bible is about people, and how people interact with God and other people. I mean even my two year old understands that. This is also part of shift that I am seeing, but where it is going and why is much harder to put a finger on. So any other change that happens needs to support the real importance of relationships. The goal is to make the earth livable not so we can live, but so we can interact with others. And the church as special directions to how to do that. The whole culture of church needs to change. The question of what Christians do between the point they accept Christ and they die will have a different answer soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Giving the Future

Above is an interesting link to churches solution to the cashless society, add ATM machines that can be used to transfer money in the lobby of the church.

I would like to see a study about if giving at churches is down because America is becoming a cashless society.

Read the comments also, they help fill out the response, worries, and reality of this type of giving.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Amazing Things

Each day while in Chennai I see some amazing things. Most of the time I can not get a good photo because of some reason (gone already, too dark, camera is at home, just not a good time to take a picture)

When Nancy and I were on the train Saturday a girl came in and did some gymnastic tricks (she looked about an American 5 so an was about 10 years old) if I took a picture she would have pestered me to high heaven for money and I did not want to pay 5 to 50 rs for a picture, (I would have paid if she did it out on the platform where i had good light and no movement of train)

I saw a boy about 3 ft tall riding a full size bike by sticking his leg through the triangle... bungi says that is common here in India.

seeing things like this makes me want to have a video recorder attached to my ear the whole time we are here. I hope I keep my eyes open to what is strange and different where ever I am in the world.... let it not be common that my two year old knows to pray for real people and not her stuffed animals, for others not herself. And when you ask her to sing she softly signs Jesus love me.

What things are worth seeing in this life for you?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I am rather grumpy today... not sure why.

Just wanted to share.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

God Is Green

Just recently Mars Hill Bible Church had a great series titled God is Green. I strongly recommend you take the time to listen to the series. (the easy way is to use Itunes to download past sermons.)

Go find it and listen, start with July first and listen the other 4... maybe you can not do it in one day as each is 45 to 55min.

If you do not want Itunes go get the MP3 from their website.

On a personal note:
I am starting to overcome the changes and such of moving to India and getting back to intentionally living and thinking about my theology. Note this is not theology that uses words with suffixes of -fication and -uration that would be talked in some university that those becoming preachers attend. But I am talking about my daily walk with the Lord, how I LIVE my THEOLOGY. Not theoretical theology, but LIVING THEOLOGY. This series at Mars Hill, and most information by Rob Bell has practical living theology and I strongly recommend listening to this series (or at least the Towers and Tomatoes, July 22nd) to understand.

For example talking about walking over driving at 35 min in. Here in Chennai walking is much more common, so is utilizing a vehicle to its fullest. That SUV you drive all alone to work in the morning, would have 12 people in it in India. If it is just you you would use your motor bike.

This is the 3rd time I have listened to this one sermon... not because I did not get it, but so that I will get it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What Is Inside You?

With traveling to India, getting settled and all my mind has been full of the mundane like trying to find food that will not empty out my system. After siphoning water from the sweet water tank to the bore well tank (which seams to have run dry) so we could again shower and flush toilets I saw a coconut that had fallen from a local tree. 4 hours of hacking with a dull machete and then a pocket knife I had the softball sized nut away from the volleyball sized husk...

So many spiritual discussions could be made talking about a coconut as example...
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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fast Forward

Life is happening very quick right now. Much like this picture I took of the skyline of Mumbai on our exit and travels to Chennai. Much too long of a shutter.

I can not wait until I have the time to sit back relax and digest what is happening.

No the pace is not too fast, it is just right. But add in the mix of a 30 month old and the stress can just get too high for the moment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

35 checkouts

Ok 35 is a guess, I did not count at the other end. This is the checkout area of a local store, but seeing this makes me wonder if we will see anything like this in India. We purchased our $30 worth of items at #10. Yes only 3, 6, 8, and 10 plus another 4 at the other end were open. To think this place can be busy enough (Christmas) that every station would be open.

I would love to hear what people think, esp those from other countries.
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Monday, July 23, 2007

Razzmatazz or Ragamuffins?

I have been trying to think what to post for a while now, rather than talk about my jitters of getting ready to go to India, none of which stay still long enough for me to write about...

Then I found this: and the July 23rd post Razzmatazz or Ragamuffins? Two non-Christians paid to visit churches are impressed with charity not facilities.

Go read it. Go read it. Go read it.

Thank You

July 23, 2007
Razzmatazz or Ragamuffins?

Two non-Christians paid to visit churches are impressed with charity not facilities.
It’s been done before. A non-Christian is paid to attend church and provide their honest feedback about the experience. The latest rendition of this experiment is occurring north of the border in Canada. Christian talk show host Drew Marshall has paid two college students, one male and one female, to attend five different churches in the Toronto area. Their observations can be read on Marshall’s website, but below are a few highlights from their excursion into Christendom.

The two students visited one of the fastest growing mega-churches in Toronto. Like many megas it has positioned itself as “the church for people who aren’t into church.” On this Sunday the pastor spoke about wealth and possessions. What did Drew Marshall’s guinea pigs think?
Why is it that I should not seek out possessions and money, but the church is permitted to do just that? Does taking 10% of every congregant’s income not count as seeking out money? Why should the institution be rich, and the congregation not? If you really believe you should be living the aesthetic life led by Christ and his apostles, why aren’t you doing it? If money and possessions aren’t important, why aren’t you meeting to discuss the meaning of Christ’s ideas and life in the local park? Notwithstanding the need to broadcast to your rather large congregation, and obviously you’d have to come up with a solution during the winter months, but really: why the son et lumiere? I found the medium more than a bit out of whack with the message.

Which brings me to another point: all that razzmatazz kind of unsettles me. We live in a culture where distraction is often misdirection - like a magician who gets you to look at his left hand while he’s disappearing something with his right. I found myself wondering why a group that liked its preacher so straightforward felt most at home in a medium of flashing lights and sound. Read more.

The paid church visitors also made a stop at the Sanctuary, a downtown congregation with deep involvement in the community—particularly with the homeless and poor. The Sanctuary provides free meals and cloths as well as medical care to those in need. One visitor’s first impression was telling:

I could tell then and there we had found what this experiment was set out to accomplish, a church that saw past the money, power and the heighten sense of moral superiority that we have grown accustomed to. Charity, real charity. About time.
He continues…

I was floored, for close to a month now I have been told of all the wonderful things the Christian church provides without any physical evidence of its truth, but here it is, in the flesh. I have to smile, we have traveled to the city’s massive churches where thousands worship and yet we find what we are looking for in a turnout of 35 on Sunday. Read more.

Overall, both Taylor and Sabrina (the non-Christians) gave the Sanctuary overwhelmingly positive marks—far more favorable than any other church they visited. Drew Marshall later tried to identify what set the Sanctuary apart. His conclusion:

This is the only Church where the majority of time, finances and energy is NOT spent on the Sunday service. At Sanctuary, it actually would have been unfair to only score them on their Sunday service, the smallest part of what they do. Read more.

What is the big lesson for church leaders? I’m not sure, and I’m hesitant to make any sweeping conclusions based on the opinion of just two people. However, Taylor and Sabrina do force us to ask an important question. Why does the majority of most churches' resources get funneled back into Sunday morning (facilities, staff, programs)? And, in a culture growing increasingly suspicious of “razzmatazz” is a spectacular worship production still the best way to draw people to God? (Has it ever been the best way?)
Posted by UrL on July 23, 2007

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Real and Unreal

Bungi is once again thinking deeply. Trying to figure out why if so much of this world is intangible why people favor the tangible. She wondered what a non-Asian view would be...

Now usually I am out of sync with her and her friends thoughts. So I will try without being trying.

But already I am stuck, do I base it all on money, or all on science, or try to define all things intangible?

I think for an average person in the USA science and education has stripped the world view of anything other than tangible. As that is where our faith has been placed in science, testing physics, engineering.

And with money you can buy enough stuff to fill your mind with tangible things, computers, cars, televisions, cell phones, games, furniture, plants, food. A human brain can only think about so much and fill it with all things 'real' you do not have time for the rest. So our education, and our money has helped us ignore the intangible.

What is left to be intangible? Stress and other emotional states? Gosh we can take physical pills and change our emotional states so no I guess that is really real. What is left intangible? God? yes that is about it, and the sad truth is science looks at Him and says 'any thing you can to I can do better' (For example look at transportation, the best God gave was a horse, science got us rockets!)

But what if this world is actually a lot more intangible? what is the proportion? Is it 50:50 tangible to intangible, or 60:40 or 40:60 or 99:01 or 01:99? WOW if 1% of everything was tangible, 99% would be beyond our grasp. What is in that 99%, God, life, feelings, other spirits... many people do try to grasp some of that, but most are happy with the physical.

Lets take one example of intangible, life, you can have a living person, alive, and they stop breathing, dead. All the physical is still there. But the intangible is gone, and that is more than them moving blood, and air. All the thoughts they have, all intangible, are they all gone or do they still exist in the intangible part of the world.

Gina talks about it in terms of music, add more and more chords, the music gets better and better sounding. That is what the world is like, but maybe we only hear some of the chords, the part we hear incomplete, sounds horrible.

Oh but to answer Bungi's question, why favor the tangible? because we have been taught too, esp me as an engineer. And we can afford to, esp me as a rich person.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Iphone Post

The new Iphone blend now that is amazing. Go watch the video and come back.

Notice how long the machine stayed on? That is some good engineering.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Missional Church

There is an organization called EnterMission, all about 'getting out of the seat and into the story.' They have some pod casts and I took the opportunity to listen to one this morning. I took notes then went back and filled in some gaps with my thoughts... sorry the two are fairly intermingled.

This podcast is called "Highway on ramp how to build entries into ministries" a conversation with Jack Magruder and Rob Wegener, who both work at Granger Community Church.

Like a real highway they want every event to have an exit ramp and entrance ramp. People need to know how to get in and people want to know that they can get out before they get in. Most people will not do something unless they know all the risks, and most people are very risk adverse. Unknown is a very large risk.

The church must create meaningful environments for projects, and show that doing missions is for everyone.

Missional activity is for everyone. Everyone can be missional no matter where they are spiritually from the 'confirmed atheist' to the 'wild eyed zelots 'From you have only erratic time to you can give your entire life.

The traditional way at a traditional church is: 'I know the church does stuff but I do not know how to do it with them.' Or maybe you need to be more of a christian before you become involved. Or projects would be fly in fix it and fly out, feeling good but what it feels like where you went is like a mosquito bite.

GCC chooses it's project to be long term to keep shining the light of God on one spot. They think about what they are doing, where they are doing, and why they are doing.

But there is an on ramp for everyone from the first timer to the long term guy. The mission opportunities that are provided fit in a variety of locations. Think of a x and y grid up and down is location of ministry Horizontal is the commitment level required.

In Church
Local a few minutes away
Nearby a couple hours away
Ends of the earth A remote Indian village

Access ministries
Project ministries
Ongoing Team ministries
Leadership ministries

GCC has access ministries in the church and local and they have leadership ministries in the church to the ends of the earth. It is not 4 separate types but 16.

More detail of the ministry types
Access: have easy entry points for people, overcome the fear of doing it eliminate every single barrier
'Keep it Sassy': simple accessible and scalable
simple show up no tools planning needed
accessible, don't need to do anything special anyone can do it no mater their theology knowledge or physical ability
scalable be ready for 4 or 40 people to show up Example is GCC second Saturday
Know that it is meaningful to society.
Access leads to 'what's next?' 'what is deeper?'
And because access ministry come in to support what is being done through a ministry team they can see that.

Project ministries are short term like to inner city Chicago or India first timers: limited in time and scope, a day a weekend, a week, a couple planning sessions, do it, then the exit ramp. But again tied into the long term Ongoing Teams. For example a bailout for a poor inner city Chicago family, after they complete some training with the ongoing ministry a team will come in and do an extreme makeover to where they live.

Moving deeper:
The foundation for the above ministries is the Ministry teams are ongoing. To be involved require a commitment of at least a year, they need you to be there, they depend on you being there.

And last is leadership ministries:
Jack and Rob may be at the top but most teams are lead by others and they don't micromanage others lead the ongoing ministries of GCC.

Also someone may be a leader in one area and at access in another area, a great greeter but never traveled to India.

They want people to go from access to leadership. They want people to develop, always taking the next step.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mission Possible

The full title of the book is Mission Possible - World Missions In The 1980s by Marian and Robert Schindler.

Why would I review and recommend a book written 20 years ago? Because it shows that some of the 'new' ideas now were thought of long ago, some of the material is dated, but most is timeless.

This book is a step back, while it has personal examples the goal is to look at the big picture. God's plan, why go, why send, why raise up missionaries, history of missions, and future changes.

The books concludes with the story of a missionary meeting a Chinese woman after missionaries were let back in. Her first words to him were 'let me hear you pray' ...

The whole reason for missions is to have a relationship with Jesus, prayer is such an important part. Christianity can flourish without buildings, clean water, bibles, hospitals, schools, and all the other things we take for granted. Christianity is not Christianity without prayer.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Last Goodby

This past Sunday my friend Brandon passed away. He had been fighting a brain tumor for the past 18 months. He was on a ventilator for the past year, bedridden, weak but not unresponsive. Brandon and Kerstin, his wife have a daughter, Cora, just 2 months younger than our Anna, 28 months.

We drove across the state for the funeral on Thursday morning, it was at the graveside. Many friends and coworkers of his were there. Anna and Cora were off behind the group, pointing out flowers and flags to Nancy and Cora's daycare worker for most of the service. Then at the end the girls came around. About the time that they were lowering the casket.

I was amazed that while Cora was not happy with dad going down into the hole she did not temper-tantrum. What she did do will leave an impression on me for the rest of my life, and will bring tears to my eyes. After the casket was down and everyone was returning to their cars she knelt down next to the hole and looked down, saying "Daddy, Daddy," from her questioning tone of voice I think she was wondering why something so valuable was being placed so far down into a hole.

Kerstin knelt next to her for a moment then they got up and also went away.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Strong Willed?

Anna is now 2-1/2. You know I never really knew before how smart kids were. I mean she can go to the bathroom. I always thought little ones went potty, you know that thing in the yard with flowers sticking out (flower pot.)

I was told yesterday that Anna is strong willed. And really I wonder about that. I laugh off most of her stubbornness and make sure my firm rules really matter. She is to not go in the road, no hitting, things like that. I give her respect for things that do not matter, what shirt she wears (though if she does not want to get dressed I just say OK you may stay in the bedroom.) I try to teach her what she wants to learn, parts of a tree when we are laying in the shade of one for example.

I was watching someone interact with her, growing frustrated trying to get this 30 month old to do and say what they wanted... you know I think if the reverse was happening Anna asking them to do exactly what she wanted Anna would be as frustrated as Elmo in his world. (FYI most things in Elmo's crayon drawn world do not respect that little red fuzz at all.) Yes Anna is independent, herself, and if strong willed means that she knows she is worthy of respect, then yes she is strong willed, and that is OK.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Watch Out For The Chipmunk

What does a conversation with God sound like to you?

For me it is odd because it is a talk in my own head with my own voice. So now if I hear something did I think it or did God place it there... and no God does not say thee thou and use kings english, I have had responses to my questions as 'yea dude' and 'rock' IE it is in my own voice, my own words. And as I already hold conversations with myself knowing the difference takes great discernment.

Are you worried yet about Ryan being crazy? I am! That is why I try to test what I hear via 1 John 4.

I took the opportunity yesterday to go behind the house and walk through the woods. My main purpose was to pray. For myself, my future, India, Growing Opportunity staff and clients, those that are supporting us. I reached a place where I was just standing praying by name for people that I should call about our needed support. "...and for John."
"Watch out for the chipmunk"
A deer 50 feet behind me snorts and runs off snorting again and again... not to happy to see me in the woods
"that was not a chipmunk!" my heart racing now
"yea if I said deer you would have freaked out"

And that is my most recent conversation with God... what was yours?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Column vs Row Thinking

This is an interesting video on talking about why we need to do something about global warming.

See all three of his videos here:

I think that this important to think about But the theory behind his argument is what I like. Column vs row thinking. I am developing an idea I call 'Living theology'. I guess Living Theology is the action a person takes, but true theology is debating the rows.

If this same method was used for Jesus, what would the results be?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wisdom From Mom

One of the things I remember from my mother is that she used to always joke about when her birthday was. Like many women she would be off by a couple years. But unlike most it was not that she said 39 at 50 but 60 and 50. By doing this she tended to look 10 years younger than her said age.

I was thinking how the same is true for clothing. To many people chose to wear something one size smaller than they are. The result... yup they may be proud to be wearing a size smaller but everyone looking on sees growth. By wearing something slightly larger the assumption is then that weight is being lost.

In each case you did not change, but because you changed the frame of reference you were able to sell yourselves in good light.

Now when I talked to Nancy about this she was not happy. It is her opinion that a person should be real, say their real age, admit their real size, be real, let the false marketing be done by the marketers for those products we buy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

God's Interaction

A discussion on Bungi's site about luck got me thinking. I went sleep last night trying to figure out how active God is in our lives.

When good things happen it could be attributed to luck or blessings, depending on how responsible God is in what happens to us.

But is God that directly involved in our lives? Does God have to be there for all good things to happen? God there when all bad things happen or is he not there?

I think God is around me always. But is he guiding every move like a many stringed marionette?
No. If that was true we would not have freewill.

For example lets look at how I interact with Anna, who is 30 months old. I do not guide her every step, I do not catch her every fall, I do not place every M&M on the table that she finds (though I do place some.) For God to be responsible for all our luck he would have to be the one placing each M&M for us to find. But I do not think he does, some of it does just happen.

Now the challenge:
If luck happens and we thank God for it - that is good.
If blessing happens and we attribute it to luck - God may not be happy with our ignorance.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


A week ago Dave gave me his list of news and blogging websites he watches via Google reader. Instantly I went from reading updates from six sites to 156. About 200 posts or more a day.
This was to many sites, 1000 posts a week or more. So this week I cull the sites, the first 25 were easy, It took a lot of work to get down to 100, then I was on a roll and deleted left and right to 60. Then slowly last night I looked at past posts for those sites with the hand on the delete button, Now I am down to 50 sites.
I had no new items to read last night at 10pm. Now, 18 hours latter I checked again, there was 24 updates, they took me 1 hour to read, even skipping several of them.

So over this week of reading what was important? A couple things were funny, a couple things were cute, and a couple were thought provoking. And I remember about 5 things of the 1000 updates from the week.

(Guess what Google reader does not have search capability on the reader site! WOW! else there would be 5 links right here.)

The most important of those five for me is an article talking about choosing each morning which 3 productive things you WILL accomplish that day. It is kinda like Randy Carlson always says, live an intentional life, think ahead and do the right thing. It is so easy to just let life happen to us.

Would I place spending 2 hours on a website reading on my to do list?
Will I now delete all the rest of the sites?
I am going to cut down the list so that I can read it in about 1/2 to 1 hour a day. The rest will go into a file for checking occasionally.

What are the primary goals of my life?
1) India
2) regrade the side of my in laws house
3) intentionally interact with Anna, teaching her things

What are your intentional goals for life?

Friday, June 08, 2007


Now this is very cool.

I am very impressed, if I could have a wall like this in my house I would have an expensive wall in my house.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Other Side Of Outsorcing

Thomas L Friedman and
The other side of Outsourcing

This video was found on (also found at you tube

It is interesting to see how these low wage jobs are growing the economy in India, did you know that soon these job will move to other countries with even lower economies.

The notes were written as a countdown timer

45m India’s way of life unchanged for generations
44m outsourcing from America jobs are going to Bangalore
43m how is the outsourcing affecting the traditional culture
42m British colony for 200 years, so middle class speak English
42m Bangalore first with satellite
42m call centers the how America talks to India
41m call center workers earn more than they ever needed, and they have free time
40m sales calls
40m hang-ups so you have to be able to take rejection
39m tech support
39m Indians are competitive because how many people there are you must fight to stay alive
37m accent neutralization… sound like who you are calling
35m they talk to us and imitate us how does that affect them
34m India coat of living is 1/5 of USA
34m Call center make 200 per month
33m America has been exposed to India for decades but now they can actually become America, before it was just a fantasy
32m a 21 was getting married or studying, but now they work
31m now becoming more materialistic
31m Call center people are becoming brand conscience (becoming a mini America)
31m the future is very good for India
30m the base on the guru is falling the new is Bill Gates
29m ‘my god is immortal for me’
29m older people respected their parents now they think independent they may say ‘no’ to your parents
28 m family bond is very strong still though
27m 54% of the Indian population is under the age of 25. 555m young people
26m is globalization to look more like USA?
22m they talk about traditions and the importance and the pictures tied to Hindu worship
22m [traditions are important, but why do something that was done? WHY? Yes we need to know what was done but we need to be smart about what we do don’t just do it because it was done but have a mind behind what is being done]
21m “glocalize” use what is best locally, and still be global
20m Changing traditional skills to the new world sculpting to digital 3d… that way the skills do not die
18m a 26part series about Krishna is being made for the world market, with American actors, American writers, and Indian illustrators
16m ‘the outsourcing is a tip of the iceberg, there is much more going to be done’
15m India middle class is 300million people a big marketplace to sell to
14m innovations is the future of America in America
14m globalization has to be two-way traffic (American money was gained at the expense of the rest of the world in the past)
13m Infosys campus is like a resort not a business.
12m almost all American corporation use Indian for an integral part of their livelihood
11m to make the world a safer place the *stans countries need access to this global market if they do not have it they will fight to get it. [Economics can stop wars]
9m only a small % of the Indian population is touched by the IT boom
9m 10% of India lives in slums
8m though they do work construction of IT buildings for 1-2dollars a day they live in slums without water children not going to school migrating from villages
6m local villagers make incense sticks for 5-10 rupees a day as a cottage industry; a corporation does it mechanically taking away whole villages of jobs [yunus says this is the next global activist for industry to support other people at the cost of a little bit of profits]
7m globalization must be good for everyone to work if the poor are left behind there will be problems.
5m do we let the poor village move to the city, or cherish them and figure out a job they can do in the village that is global
4m ‘quality of life… where is it all going?’ TL Freidman
3m it must be made good for all people
3m there is examples of the ‘ideal’ that is good untouchable kids learning computers at a young age.
2m an Indian who made it big in America using his money to help the poorest children of India
1m the poor are just as smart as anyone given the chance they can be as good as anyone1m the high tech segment in India is only 3million people today

The Story We Find Ourselves In

The story we find ourselves in –brian mclaren c2003
Book two of a three book series
A New Kind Of Christian
The Story We Find Ourselves In
The Last Word And The Word After That
This book has a pretty good idea, but the foundation and acceptance of evolution being right poorly skew most of the foundation arguments of the book. (After the many science articles I have read about evolution there is, in my opinion, more faith required for this scientific theory than is needed to believe in the easter bunny.) So by trying to base the arguments on evolution the result is very unsound theology. And while some ideas sound plausible in the short term when they are brought out into eternity (the same amount of time available for evolution) the conclusion is awry.

The largest of these theologically is it is assumed that as time continues that Christianity will take hold and the world will evolve towards the perfection of heaven on earth. Yet why then do we even need Christ, why over and over again is it said in the Bible that the world get worse for followers before it becomes renewed?

I have not yet decided if I am for or against the idea that the sin of man was gradual vs. starting with a single event (eating an apple.) Did Adam and Eve sin small while their son committing murder larger? Then the reasoning behind the sin in the book… God intended people to be dependant on him by following animals around, hunter gatherers. But when Cain settled down on land and owned it he killed his brother for using ‘his’ land. The conclusion is that God wanted us to be dependant on God by being dependant on roaming around. Why then is the future heaven described as a new City of Jerusalem?

The books does show the process of how and why a person would still want to accept Christ as a personal savior, and rightly struggles with why / how Christ dying on the cross can really work to get us in alignment with God.

My notes while reading the book:
Pxiv The goal of this book is to help ‘nonreligious be spiritual’ people discover how their lives in the context of this new old story, while helping modern Christians re-imagine our story beyond the grid of its modern telling.

Pxv do not accept the answers as right, but challenge to develop your own view that is better than this book has. [and I have / am if you look at my other posts]

P14 ‘then the bible was read aloud… then two questions were asked, what did you notice? what struck you?’ … followed by How does this relate to your life?’

P17 ‘Carol and I have been in pastoral ministry and around death and dying long enough to know that the best thing to do at times like this is not to offer assurances, but just listen. “I’m sure you’ll be just fine’ is intended to cheer up the person in pain, but it also give the unintended message ‘your not allowed to talk about death.” Dying is hard enough, but dying and not being able to talk about it – if you want to and need to talk – is harder still.’

P20 he was totally devoted to God, but not religious about his spirituality, it is like ‘he discovered a whole new way of being a Christian’

P30 ‘let there be…’ God created something that is outside of himself. My personal example would be a model railroad designed to complete detail in my imagination, then the real one made created, and able to exist when my thoughts change. To build my railroad I used stuff that existed, when God created he made the stuff that exists.

P33 ‘for me [genesis] is a story that gives us in-formation a story that forms us inwardly with truth and meaning.’ It is not a facts story but an illustration story just like the Native American Indian stories are about their stories. But as it fits closer with science somehow it all needs to become science.

P37 God intended for people to have relationships, with people animals and Himself.

P40 God created us in his image to be partners in what he created,

P49 every thing is both supernatural, and everything is natural, God is involved in all we know and he is apart from all we know.

P52 God made the world good not perfect / ideal

P52 the evil of humanity does not erase the goodness of God

P54-55 the ‘fall’ sin of man is tied to physical and technology advancement if evolution is true [to me there are large enough gaps to say it is as true as if God was like a prolific artist making drawing after drawing each one slightly improved.] Adam and Eve had more knowledge than they could handle morally this lead to awkwardness
Hunter gathers dependent on the world must travel light developed language etc
Herders traveled with the animals in their care, must travel light
Crop growers can stay put have lots of stuff own land etc
Cain a crop grower killed Able a herder in a field (maybe over land use dispute?)
[I could see this for Cain and able but not Adam and eve, I think they were influenced]
p57 the next technological advance cities and bricks

p56 human beings intellect grow beyond their moral wisdom and self restraint

p56 if you live in a city you do not feel much need for God

p62 gods in Abrams time were territorial, on a river the next a plain, a mountain… if you lived somewhere you tried to appease the nearby gods because they could tend to get mean

p62 [the book seams not to acknowledge that God does interact with us like Abram realized on his own there is only one God]

p66 God wants his people to be a blessing to others that is why he blesses them

p82 The bible is a book that does not tell you what to think but how to think

P101 the world is real separate from god (it is not in Gods imagination)

P102 a theory is like looking out a window at the sky you cant see it all but with different windows you can get a fuller picture

P113 conversations don’t all need to be deep / spiritual

P117 we need to see Jesus relative to when he lived [Jesus would have done different things if he lived in 2007 Chicago.]

P121 Jesus was master to the disciples as a master craftsman has his students.

P127 A new kind of Christina called together to learn from Christ then sent out to be an example and teach others the same way of life.

P147 we see it all as the past event makes the next event happen… what if we are being pulled to a goal the final needs the event before it to happen etc. [God is not fixing a broken world as much as he is making the steps for a final complete world, like baking a cake has many steps before it is good]

P160 what Newton called laws seams more like language, less important than what they make possible. Just as grammar is less important than the conveyance words allow.

P165 Jesus was not about creating a new culture but about showing how all the current ones are part of God’s story of history.

P165 the ‘blocks’ of understood religion are good it is just they need to be rearranged.

P167 [Is heaven eternal a steady state bliss like a happy rock? Or is it a story, active, real, changing?]

P169 to the middle classes it is not good to make a little bubble of good family values but include the poor in what is good.

P187 On the Galapagos Islands animals are not afraid of people because humans care for them as what they are, not how they could be exploited.

My Conclusions:This book does exactly what it says it would, I do not agree with most of it, but it is making me take the time to think through what I do think.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Last week I talked about writing what I believe, this week I took the opportunity to write something up for my mom as she thinks about some things, wanting my point of view. (Mom and I are a lot a like, we like to talk about things at a 'deeper' level.) The total of what I wrote is seven pages, and could be longer. I wanted to post a small section of what I wrote. To summarize: Everyone has a foundation for their life, many do not take the time to look at it. Where you stand affects a lot of what you do. A poor foundation causes problems for the whole structure above it and every one living inside it. Well here it is my personal creed, my personal foundation:

My foundation is Christ, Jesus, and the Lord creator of everything. I believe this world was created, in six distinct periods, and is separate from the creator, both the creator and the created are completely real. Each and every living thing in this created world reproduces. Everything real is interrelated and God gave man the job of caring for this world in a positive caretaker, gardener, nurse, zookeeper like way.

The earth, universe, and time was not created as good and then corrupted. Before even the start God had the time after the end in mind. God’s goal was not a
good world that was corrupted and he will destroy and trash and replace. It is like he is baking a cake, destroying eggs, flour, water, sugar and heat to in the end have something great, he made the ingredients in six days and on the seventh he is resting while it rises before it goes into the fire and out comes something much better than that going in.

Evil is very real also, a third part of reality, and as God has made us separate from himself we can choose and do choose to live apart from Him, evil in us is sin. But God
also gave us a way to live with him. The not completely understood fact of Christ dying on the cross gave me a focal point to say; ‘I cannot be perfect on my own. It is not enough for me to basically good, I need to be perfect and I need help to do that.’ Faith is accepting it as true even without full understanding.

I need an immovable goal and foundation to rest my life, my thoughts, and my actions upon. I give my life to Christ, his Father, and let the Holy Spirit inside of me to guide my life. I give up my life completely in order to live the life the Real God would like me to live. I never realized how much God would take of me, but he did. And my life is the better for it.

Each time I get swayed and corrupted I will try hard to return to the simple Rock foundation of my life, though not completely understood the Bible helps. I will guard my heart from other ‘good’ advice, knowledge, and efforts and instead focus on what is best.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

What would you say?

Remember some time back Robert Fulghum published ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN, a book about what is important to live a life? Each year he would write down his mission statement and about his world view. There is something so permanent about writing something down. It is hard, very hard if you want it permanent. Saying something might be much easier, but to write it, to refer back to it again and again... you want it to mater. I mean what would you write on your gravestone? That is something that is getting closer and closer to the front burner of an activity for me. My world view is changing, I am nearing a place where i want to write it down, look at it, review it, see where the holes are so I grow strong.

A small part will be talking about my funeral, but also I want to look at my life, what i can do now... my faith, and how I raise my daughter Anna. Some friends of ours took the time to write down what they wanted to their child to know as they brought her forward to God as part of their Church dedication. Ellie is now One, an adopted part of their lives, a permanent part of their lives. In their care and leadership and training. They have chosen to be the Eli in their little Samuel's life.

"Our greatest desire for you is to grow up intimately knowing your creator and to walk with Him your entire life. We believe that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live and we will do our part to help point you to your Savior." -Ben and Holly

How true that is... and what a long journey that will be. It will not be easy to do. To read their entire letter go to

If God adopted us what would His letter to us be? Would it change each year, as we grow and change, or would it be the same. Would it be short, or long? Who would read it to us? Would it change if we were born to him or if he had to choose us?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Young Engineer

It is great in this world that we can laugh. It makes life so much more fun.

In the Dilbert cartoon one of the episodes is called The Knack, about a young Dilbert and his mother. After a conversation with the doctor Dilbert's mom asks "will he be able to lead a normal life" the doctor's answer "no he will be an engineer" She breaks down crying. I represent that fact.

So should i worry that Anna could unscrew knobs since she was 9 mo old, and cares more about the machine filling the build a bear animals than the animals themselves? She has not yet taken apart a TV and put is back together, but again she is only two, she has time.

If you want to see the Dilbert spot it can be found on You tube here:

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Perfect Future

I just finished reading the book 'Revolution in World Missions', byK.P. Yohannan, a book I recomend everyone get and read, it is free, just go to to request your copy. One point in there he talks about who the Anti-Christ is, he says, and I agree that it is economic in source.

Then I read just now a news article about Muhammad Yunus next idea. Socialistic business. Running businesses with a socialistic goal as the bottom line, less hunger, better schooling, better health, etc. His first experiment is working with Danone to provide yogurt to the poor in Bangladesh. His motives are interesting. Quoting the article: "In a country like Bangladesh, paralyzed by strikes and inept governance, it's obvious why Yunus sees business rather than the state as the way to solve social problems."

Wow, the state can't do it, so lets try consumerism. It is ok that the whole idea of consumerism is to make money for the few, Adam Smith's perfect economies never has happened in real life. Consumerism involves money which easily corrupts.

What a noble idea. The government failed, but money will work. Sounds so noble, but think of Enron, Collins & Aikman, GE of the past, and so many others that have gone bankrupt, corrupt, or damaged the environment and so much else.

This is another attempt to solve the world without God. Make it good without the one who is good. Pull human nature up by our own bootstraps. The problem is, it will work. People will get richer, the poor will have their money, the rich theirs. Wells will be drilled, people educated, doctors paid, tv and phones bought and used. There will be no more need for spiritual things, no more worshiping of useless gods. No more needing to worship the one true God. It will be possible to work and survive your time on this life comfortably. We will not see millions of people dieing because of simple needs.

And yes even the church will get involved, they already are. Give loans to people, tell them to live biblical ways and all will be better and good, they work themselves out of poverty and live the way God asks them too. But how off the mark. We are called to go beyond biblical living, we are to have a one on one relationship with Christ, to give everything we have to him.

Do you know that most Christ followers in Asia actually have it worse off than those that live like the rest of their culture? Everything we read about in the Bible happens to them, they are hurt, killed, or banished. There is a great cost to following Christ. It would be rare for a westerner to have his shop burned down if he changed religions, but it is common in India. Yet there are 20million Christians in India alone, many sharing their faith, a faith that is growing. But so too is the economy, and money is 'good' for everyone, there are very few people that would disagree.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


One of these girls is Ruth, the Other Anna. They are no blood relation, but look very similar.

This past Sunday I was asked to stand up in front of a Jr. and Sr. High Sunday School class and talk. I prayed about what to talk about. I felt lead to take into the classroom a pebble, a rock, and a toy car. I started by saying that I started out life as an Engineer, then this past summer I learned about listening to God. I set the pebble on the ground and said "God talks to everyone." I rolled the car up to the pebble and said "we need to listen" I then rolled the car again, this time much faster so it went over the pebble, "we can chose not to listen." Then I set down the rock, "God may need to talk louder." While I rolled the car up to the rock. Nancy then said, "The louder God talks the more it is going to hurt."

Now the continuation of the story. God talks to us, but so does his enemy, the shameful thing is that it is with a similar enough voice that we need much discernment to know who it is. The good news is that we have the Bible! God's message is quite consistent, it is always good. Much like this picture I need to know and have an intimate relationship with my daughter. If I picked up Ruth or Josh picked up Anna the result would be a very unhappy child. But as Anna knows me and I her, picking her up results in a hug. The same for Ruth and Josh.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

The Genesis Questions

Another book...

This one by Hugh Ross is trying to interelate sound biblical teaching with sound science teaching. Like many of my favorite pastors he many times refers to the origional Hebrew version of the bible. One thing new I learned is that the Hebrew parts of the bible is only 3000 different words. (much of the first half of the old testiment if memory serves me right.) He points out that many times a single hebrew word has a couple scaler definitions such as day could be the 12 hours of light, the 24 hours from dark to dark, or era, a long period of time. So while KJV etc of bible translators used the 24 hour period it is the idea of ages that fit with society, with each ending and the next beginning.

He says that in the first six ages God created things, and the current age, now, is the seventh rest period with no creation work taking place but life goes on.

For a while I thought with confidence that Noah lived 4000 years ago, and Adam 6000. He points out that Hebrew geneologies skip generations, think how Isrealites all saw themselves as sons of Abraham.

He also says that the biomass as present in coal, oil, and limestone formations (all come from former natural sources) could not be present on the earth at one time, there is not room.

Also noted was some math about how many people should have been alive before Noah got onto the arc. Should have been around 56 billion. But there is no proof it was that high, the reason given is that there was a very high rate of murder.

I am glad that the book does not try to answer every possible question. For example why are there races, dark and light skin color, nose shapes and other small physical difference? There is not clear science answer, every answer it science can provide can be disproved. The bible is hush on the subject of why, but does point out that dark and light skinned people lived at moses time.

If you care about how science and God interelate this should be one of the books you read. Should it be the only one you read? I don't think so. It is good to get your thoughts from many different sources and you us your wisdom to reach your own conclusions.

One last point he stated is that Faith is based on facts, and actions based on faith. God askes you to love your God with your mind body and soul. Your mind is what you use to look at science. For me if there is a contradiction between God his word and science I place the error on our understanding of the word, or science, not on God.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A New Kind Of Christian

Another Book Review.

This book is an eye opener, an easy read as it is a dialog between two people, one asking many of the questions the reader will struggle with. As a solid Christian when reading it you will struggle with the middle chapters, but to stop there will only lead to frustration with McLaren. Read the whole book then think it over. McLaren admits that he is trying to define something that is not yet completely defined. Thinking about it this book is from 2001 and is getting out of date.

What is the purpose of the book. It is to open eyes. It is to realize that the way we worship God, the traditions we have, etc. Well they worked in the modern era, but they will isolate non-Christians in the future. The world is changing, for the past 400 years it has been a modern world. Defined as very scientific, structured, organized. Great for an engineer like me. But the post modern world is different. It uses the systems of the modern era but also relationship are much more important. One thing to realize is that the post modern era is not settled, it is still being defined. Look at the HighSchool generation now to get a glimps of the future.

Like I said last time Churches will have to change to relate to the world post modern. While I think Saddleback and Willow creek (Churches I have never been too) were on the path, McLaren thinks not, he thinks that churches will have to change even more than them.

What is good, McLaren thinks that the current idea of Christianity is wrong. He sees it as being selfish, and limited in sight. The idea of getting to heaven is wrong. He thinks Christianity is more about bringing God's intended world into fruition here, now.

I think I agree, God created a world, he allowed us to have free choice. In the start I think the angels had a lot more direct relation with humans Genesis 6:2-4. [A source for the stories of the Greek and Hindu Gods?] So God started over with Noah and Humans, then the tower of Babel... I digress will write that all down later. What I want to say now: God created a perfect world, it is even perfect today, with exception of the sin of man. God loves and lives in his perfect world. That ugly spider you hate, God sees perfection. Nature is perfection. God also gives us a lot of rules in the early Bible to live in the world the right way, in harmony with the perfect world he intended. For thousands of years the Jewish people tried to live by the rules but could not. So then The Holy Spirit comes and is inside us to help us do those rules.

Let me digress, it is not rules that are important but the spirit of the rules. Think about what Jesus said He did not come to abolish the law but fulfill it. The law is there to show us our sin, so we realize we need God, as Jesus to help us live in harmony with the perfect world. Jesus even made the rules more strict, it was do not commit adultery, now it was don't even imagine undressing the woman walking down the street. We can not live the way God wants us to without help. We need to understand not the rules the yes and no's but the why's. The great news is that life will get a lot simpler then.

So in the end acceptance with God is not just about the doorway to a happy eternity. It is about returning this world to perfection. The perfection that only Adam and Eve have experienced. Jesus was sinless, but he did not live in a perfect world. Everything I have of in the Bible describing Heaven is a return to the Garden of Eden, but with a lot more people it will be a city.

So saying that, in the perfect world, many of the things Christian Americans do is wrong. They should actually live more like American Indians. But while they worshiped the great spirit and talked about lesser gods, we understand GOD and his Angels and troublesome Demons. I do wonder again, many of the traditions that Hindu's use to worship, can they be used to worship God? I mean even modern Christian traditions really are realignment of worship of things not God to God. Can a Hindu do the same?

They have sacrifices to gods, so explaining to them that Jesus is our sacrifice would work. They try to live in harmony with Nature. I think that is what is missing from modern Christianity, somehow it became a goal to get into a sheep pen of heaven to just sit around. But like I said in my description of the blog, the building we enter is not a Church but a train station, after been there for a while we need to go out to the tracks and go on an adventure! But we do not go alone we have a guide with us.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Walking With The Poor

I think I have a new number one book. Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers is a book anyone thinking of doing any missionary work must read. While the beginning chapters get a little heady with the point counterpoint research of other authors the last chapter does pull it together.

This book is not an answer book or instruction book. It is instead a book of eye opening. It helps those going to help the poor to look at the full picture. To realize that the poor are not just those with poor health or no water but to make sure to understand the political, and spiritual history of the community of service. It stresses the importance of engaging everyone that will be affected by the change you are bringing.

Best of all the book is written from a Christian point of view. And recognizes that the worldview of a village has a lot of weight. It also recognises that the worldview of the western 'modern' world is incomplete compared to traditional and biblical world views. All world views have a physical world, and a God world, the modern world lacks a connecting world (a continuum of influence between the two.) But spiritual based models have the reality of acting lesser gods or spirits that affect the world around us. And can be used to affect the Gods.

What surprised me is the idea that we do not fully understand or have developed the biblical world view. Humans do not understand God's view of the world fully.

There is talk too in this book about how to bring people to Christ. It is not as simple as telling only about Jesus, you need to explain the history of the old testament and see the parallels in the history of your working culture. Then rewrite that history to be from God's eyes. Thing is this can not be done by and outsider, it must be done by those in the community. Not just the poor you are helping but also the 'non poor' who live with them. They also need to know of Jesus and his saving work.

The work you do is a opening to tell about Jesus and God. Don't be silent about the story. But don't if you use sonar to find a water source say it was your God that helped you. Technology and science do not bring people closer to God. But they have a lot of truth to them that will split the worldview. Science will be used for the physical world but the old god's will be kept for spiritual needs.

This book is a must read for anyone that is going to try to change a culture. The actions required boil down to asking again why why why until the foundational reason for a tradition is found. Then explaining how God views that.

This book talks about poor in Africa, India, and the influence of the culture and current religion on that culture. The reality is Hindu religion is written by the rich to explain why they are rich and why the poor need to be poor and not rise up.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Future of Church

I am reading many books right now. A couple in depth books looking at the future of the church, how what we go to on Sunday mornings will change, how what we do as community will change. The reason we all agree is that the current traditions are set from the modern era. The rest of the world is now transitioning from the modern era to the postmodern one. That is why I think so many Christians, Rob Bell, Bill Hyble, Brian Mclarin, and churches Willow creek, Mars Hill, Saddleback, Granger, and many many local churches are stretching the thoughts and comfortableness of life long Christians.

They all know that without change the next generation of Christians will be born into the faith, not choosing it at an older age, everything done will be tradition, abstract from society. So while Jesus will not change, and the way we believe, the laws that remind us that we sin, and when followed help us stay very close to God. But how do we keep the foundation firm. Traditions are hard to break.

Did you know that most Christian Traditions we have now are actually from non-Christian sources. Christmas and the Mesopotamians worship of Marduk, Easter and . Could Christ, God, and Holy Spirit be worshiped and obeyed through the methods of other religions instead of the former European methods? For a long time I saw the value in the Native Americans value of the earth. But those bringing Christ also brought them their own culture.

I am reading many books on Hinduism. The children's books are the best for the amazing subject that is so new to me. It reminds me most of what I have heard of the Greek gods. This is a religion without a central theme, it just builds and build. Odd thing is that at it source it is one God with three identities. There are some other things that make me wonder if as the post modern age becomes full swing it will be easier to bring them Christ without them loosing what is right in their culture currently.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

God's Economy

While I really like my thoughts on Mickey it is time to add a new post. This one again is long, lots of quotes from the book Friend Raising. This is a great book for all Christians to read.

God's economy is different than ours, Giving and Receiving is different than selling and buying.

Friend Raising building a missionary support team that lasts –Betty Barnett

P7 ‘generosity is the primary theme of “friend raising” ‘

Ch 1
P11 ‘many Christians considering full-time missionary service are more fearful of support raising than of being martyred on the mission field’

P11 living without a steady paycheck definitely requires a strong faith of God.

P11 ‘these principles of support raising are intimacy in relationships, interdependence, mutual love and sharing, and bearing one another’s burdens.’

P12 working / being self-supporting removes a reliance on God we become independent from Him.

P13 ‘we must conscientiously break independence in our own lives and conscientiously cultivate interdependence with one another and with God.’

P13 “Missionaries are not sparing verbally with others for their money. Interdependence is not Christian welfare. It is joining forces to defend the faith and fight the good Fight.’

P14 ‘none of us can go it alone. We must constantly strengthen our support web.’

P14 Jesus, the twelve, Paul, and Elijah were supported by others

P15 ‘If God called you, you are worthy, He has declared you so.’

P16 The first step if you feel called is to talk to those in authority over you, pastors, elders, parents, and God. This is a serious time of discernment, the advice of your home will be great, it may be how God directs you, or how you are held back from God.

P19 ‘four pillars are needed: friend raising, generosity, communication, and prayer with promise.’

P21 ‘We are to seek first the Kingdom of God, not the dollar’

P22 ‘others can tell what our goals are, to cherish and enjoy them, or to use them to serve our own goals.’

P22 a farmer gave 10 pounds of seeds to a missionary who gave it away when she arrived in her new village in the Philippines. [Giving does not have to be money, but other things of use too] Barb does not ask for support but does spend 10 hours a week just communicating back to those that do communicate with her from Minnesota.

P24 ‘in our fragmented society of broken families and broken relationships our greatest ache comes from loneliness.’

P25 [Many times as you work on your friendship people will give you money, and it may be awkward, but you need to recognize that at that point you are Jesus, they give their gift “as to God himself”]

P28 “if I have… but do not love, I am nothing” 1cor113:2’

P29 ‘During visits back home, our primary role should be to listen. To often we are quick to speak of our ministry … and seldom quick to listen.’

P31 ‘few people today are equipped to listen. We tend to offer quick fix scripture references and simple dos and don’ts

P32 to develop a true deep relationship takes time, and listening on both parts, and perception and the ability to ask the right questions.


P35 ‘suddenly I understood – it was not others’ generosity towards us, but our generosity towards others, that was the key.’

P36 even poor congregations in South America give a handful of rice or a tomato. As the poor gave God increased what they had so they could give more.

P37 ‘Earl Pitts “the kingdom of God's system of finance is giving and receiving. The worlds system is buying and selling.”

P37 buying selling is an equal transaction, giving receiving is not.

P41 it is easier to give than receive. There is much guilt / responsibility in receiving a gift given in truth to God.

P41 ‘there is no lack of money for God’s work. The money is there, but much of it is locked into some buying-and-selling systems [debt] that have consumed and robbed the church. Our own generosity can release others from ordinary buying and selling into giving and receiving.’

P43 as missionaries we must not only lay our life down for the people we minister too but also for those that ‘send’ us. Not just those who give us money but everyone that God lays on your heart.

P48 ‘many people want to express their love in actions, but do not know how.’

P50 sometimes the Holy Spirit tells others what financial needs are… other times we will be told who to ask

P57‘we are co-laborers with the Lord.’ Being a missionary is not by might or power but by the spirit.

P59 col 1:9-11, ps. 120:1, ps. 121:1-3 7-8, ps34:4-5 7, ps 145:13, 1 cor 15:58, 1 th 5:24 ‘the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it’, eph 3:20, 1 tim 1:12, 2 cor 11:30 12:9-10

P62 ‘prayer with promises will either be our point of greatest strength or, if we don’t pray, our point of greatest weakness.’

P66 visit face to face
P67 talk on the telephone
P68 hand written messages
P69 newsletters with a small handwritten message
P69 video’s bulletin inserts, whole church communication
P70 give and send gifts
P72 awareness

P72 to start talk with the people you talk to now then to people you used to talk to but lost contact with then to newly introduced friends.

P73 ‘a key principle: encourage people to first ask the Lord, then respond to us in accordance to his will.’

P73 ‘be careful not to select people we think should give to us. God does the selecting, we do the communicating.’

P73 Also remember to give specific areas of need like airline miles or a computer that could be given.

P74 personally invite people to respond. ‘Would you pray about providing monthly support of $5 to $100 a month?’

P75 ‘money should be the byproduct not the core of a relationship.’

P75 many people will wait and see before giving [just like those so many missionary go to serve it takes long term investments]

P76 you are developing a network of support, at the top is the close prayer and financial supporters, and others are just on our hearts. Some get a bi weekly update, others twice a year. God will tell you who and when.

P77 ‘the local church is a sending body’ as Paul says in Rom 10:14-15

P78 ‘if your pastor does not mention it feel free to ask for them to have a corporate time of blessing during the Sunday morning service soon before your departure to the field.’

P82 ‘friend raising is an adventure in dependence. A strong dependence on God and a interdependence with His people’

P86 Hindrances include:
using athourity to pressure results,
Spiritual attack,
Poverty mentality (love of money when we have none),
disobedience (SIN),
lack of integrity,

P93 ‘walking in freedom from the fear of death and be willing to obey God at any cost snatches the element of fear out of Satan’s hands. He loves to issue fear filled and life threatening taunts, especially as we venture into missionary service.’

P99 so often I will send letters about a need, with an over stated or understated budget, and God will provide EXACTLY what I need.

P99 many times I will buy the plane tickets then pray Ok God what should I do… ‘and watch God do the selecting, I walk a walk of faith not of sight’

P100 it is very important to send thank you notes to supporters

P101 make sure you have no sin in you

P101 ‘whenever a thank you is needed but not given the relationship is broken’

P102 ‘receiving a gift is an honorable thing’

P102 let the gift giver know they were acting on behalf of God

P105 ‘since the tithe belongs to God, paying it is not an act of generosity, but an act of simply paying what is owed.’ [Yes those in missions need to tithe!!!]

Malachi 3:8-10 ...test your God in this.

P106 ‘john Wesley believed as a christens income increased so should there standard of giving.’

P106 ‘Jesus asks us to live beyond the law in many areas.’

P107 forgive people for not writing, you sending info to them is still important

P107 ‘you need to trust the Holy Spirit on who to send and who not to send information too.’

P111 ”I have heard of many fund raising techniques and this one feels right in my spirit”

P111 scriptural principles are universal, practices are regional.

P113 a missionary should be sent by their own church, if they are from a very poor Indian village that church should send, a handful of rice at each meal and a prayer will add up.

P117 tent making still needs support, accountability, etc… it is important to have that base.

P119 ‘Testimonies that talk’

P125 sent letters to 11 people telling of a need, 5 meet the need, wrote letters to all 11 thanking them for their work, God gave exactly what was needed!

P129 the sending church is more than just financially involved; they also want to pray when decisions need to be made. They want to know specifically what to pray.

P132 don’t put all your eggs in one basket, layer your support response, and listen to the Holy Spirit for your correspondence, a written note on the newsletter is important.

P135 don’t let impersonal newsletters be your only source of support raising

P136 newsletters are vital to communication but include one line of your own hand in different color.

P139 don’t preach, don’t let the mind wander, clearly show prayer needs

P141 be real, show you are human and show the ministry uses you

P142 keep newsletters colorful and real! Pictures, tea bags local stamps, etc…

P144 try to get a response from the reader, not just money but personal

P150 God’s economy is based on giving and receiving not buying and selling

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mickey Took a Tumble

Anna has this cup that I dislike greatly. It even has a name Mickey. Yes the Disney mouse. To me it screams Disney! Why, because it only holds 4 oz of liquid. All show and not much worth. All her other cups hold much more. Then this one has a double wall and liquid in between you can't tell how much drink is in it very easy.

My parents went to Disney years ago, during my spring break. (I was home working) They brought back this CD of music, I think from one of the parades, it is all celebration, but emotionally empty. That CD is much like this cup, entertainment, not substance.

Now to let you know I am not anti Disney. I would love to go to Disney World and or land. I am an engineer, they have a lot of great engineering there to see, plus the people control, etc... my entertainment would be very different than most people that go to hug giant stuffed mice. I would have so much fun looking with a critical eye, though those around me might view it as a downer.

I also have watched, and will continue to watch, Disney related TV and movies. It is entertainment, and sometime I just want that. They have a cute movie called Jump In for example.

We hear all the time about the grown up MM club stars that have a outrageous life I wonder how many are doing life in a Christ centered focus.

Well today I got to throw Mickey out, a tumble on the cement gave him a crack and all his slimy showy liquid leaked out. He was just a shell of himself, and unable to do his meager 4 oz job anymore.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Aids in Asia -Susan Hunter

Aids in Asia notes

I have, while taking the time to read the book AIDS in Asia, written down many quotes and summaries of statements. While a 6% infection rate sounds small it is important to understand that these individuals are vital to the entire community, as farmers, and productive hard working young people. Without this group the entire population is crippled.

Px ‘Not only is the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic huge and growing unrestrained in most Asian countries, but when the underlying social, political and economic patterns that fuel its growth are brought together and analyzed, it is quite clear that there is little standing in the way of catastrophic impact.’

Px ‘To respond to the disease and its impact, individuals must literally rethink and restructure the societies in which they live and confront and change long-standing social institutions and relationships, often at great personal expense.’

P7 ‘As you finish each sentence of this book another person will have been infected with HIV.’

P10 Nicholas Eberstadt- expert in demographic and predicting population change

P11 ‘…India and China refuse to acknowledge the extent of the disease within their borders nor set up reliable means of monitoring and controlling it.’

P11 China’s estimates are 20 times lower than external estimates for same country.

P11 the reason of keeping data hidden is that it would expose the inequality of the population’s social and economic conditions.

P13 talking about western economies high cost it is pointed out that Netherlands needs an area 15 times it size to support it’s population at the level they are accustom.

P15 ‘Asian societies were shaped by a series of nomadic incursions and peasant rebellions that continue today in other guises.’

P27 In 2003 4% of Africa population is infected while only .3% of Asia, where the population is much larger. Estimates are that 5% of china will be infected 7% of India and 10% of Russia’s population will be infected when stable.

P33 STDs increase the transmission of aids by open soars, and the virus load increases in semen when a STD is present.

P34 STD levels are on the rise because of non-condom pregnancy prevention methods. The book gives many pages explaining the effectiveness of condoms and why governments and religious organizations have dissuaded them.

P34 ‘STD contribute to …and Alzheimer’s’ [I would like to see proof of that link]

P35-36 circumcision significantly lowers the rate of HIV transmission from individual to individual. ‘A majority of Asian males are not circumcised.’

P44-46 talks about the large migrant population moving about china and India and other states. Both legal and illegal to mines, construction projects farms etc. If someone is courageous enough to travel they have a more outgoing lifestyle.

P49 ‘poverty that drives migration is so fundamental that it turns life into a constant struggle to survive. “Poverty means working for more than eighteen hours a day, but still not earning enough to feed myself, my husband, and my two children,” says a poor woman in Cambodia. Poverty means loss of freedom, loss of dignity, loss of control over the fundamental course of your life.’

P50 the climb out of poverty is slow because disposable income is so small and could be lost by chance to natural disasters, poor crops, loss of employment, or a family illness.’

P55 In Hindu tradition if you have a disease you are sent far away.
P55 ‘Gita laughed, “Do you think it is any better for Islam?” Patwani … The shy young Pakistani woman said, “… My best friend was stoned to death because her brother raped another girl. The families agreed she should be sacrificed for his transgression. He was not even reprimanded.”

P59 ‘history and tradition are important to Asians themselves, esp. the years before colonial domination, when Asia lead the world in economic, political, scientific, and artistic achievement.’

P60 ‘the Asia continent was united by all of its great nomadic empires Hun, Muslim, Mongol, Mogul, and Manchu’

P63 ‘To Islam’s first raiders, (637ad) Europe was remarkably unattractive prey, a primitive backwater with few opportunities for trade, little booty and bad climate. The had headed east instead, across Persia and through central Asia to India, and remarkably rich city states fell to their sway all along the way.’

P65 in 1206 Genghis Khan united the Mongol people. Just like Muhammad six centuries earlier it was by uniting formally fighting tribal groups to a common cause, expansion to the whole world. [To unite people you need a common cause, else in-fighting will be the result, look at today’s examples, America, the Church, your family.]

P66 ‘The Kahn ravaged a good part of northern India in 1222’

P69 ‘Kublai had inherited Sung paper money and credit banking, streetlights, city sanitation, fire protection, hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the poor and aged financed by the inalienable trusts, smallpox variolation [inoculation], and textbooks in medicine, forensics, architecture, mathematics, geography, horticulture, and archaeology.’ [1270’s when Marco Polo was visiting Xanadu the capitol of the Mongolian empire.] [During the time of the Mongolian empire the leader of Europe was the pope.]

P72 Timur the last great nomadic leader attacked India in a quest to rid the world of the Hindi religion in 1398.

P75 “the most significant commodity carried along the Silk Road was religion” Oliver Wild. ‘The Mongols promoted religious tolerance so Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity easily spread.’

P76 ‘in India many Ethiopian slaves rose to positions of power and influence in armies and governments.’ [Castration of slaves was common throughout the world at the time]

P100 when sir James Brooke return from Asia to England in 1838 he argued that Britain should own territories in Asia rather than rely on treaties.

P102 ‘in 1820 Asia’s first economic crisis – colonialism – hit causing sustained economic decline that lasted until the 1950’s’

P103 in 1998 the majority of illiterate people are found in former Asian and African colonial locations.

P103 infrastructure, railroads, roads, etc were only developed in colonial area as suited to the owners.

P104 In reality what we worry today of Asia taking over the world is them just returning to their natural place. Up until the 1800 they produced 60% of the worlds GDP during colonialism that fell to 17% and now it is recovering to 60%; estimated to be complete about 2025. ‘Asia is doing in decades what the rest of the world did in centuries’ At the same time the governmental systems that were effective were destroyed by colonialism, and the current systems are still greatly affected by this dark period.

Transitioning to recent times, in china blood drawing is a support structure for the poor. The system is to have blood removed by ‘handlers’ from a group of people, the plasma removed, and the cells returned to the group. The donors are often corralled, and have the blood drawn several times a day. Their supply bolster by the use of drugs. Blood banks are also used as welfare means in other countries also. But due to the technique if one person is infected, quickly everyone in the entire area is infected.

P106 ‘almost ¼ of the people living with HIV/AIDS in Asia are Indian.’

P107 ‘India is “one of the great migration centers of the world,” says writer Michael Specter, because it has an excellent system of national highways.’

P107 ‘India’s 750 million strong rural population [would be] the second largest “country” in the world.’

P107 the higher infection rates are found in the southern states of India.

P107 ‘AIDS deaths are so frequent in southern India that locals erected a shrine to India’s new AIDS goddess, Aidsamma, at a temple near Mysore. [Reading more on this it was erected by an Indian science teacher, and a Harvard student Anna Portnoy going to study it for her thesis she gave it edification]

P108 HIV rose from 1.5% in 1995 to 6% in 1997 in Tamil Nadu, the reaction is the best response by government in all of India.

P109 India’s economy is growing, a middle class of 250 million ‘But an ever richer India lacks compassion for its poor, critics say. India has one quarter of the world’s absolute poor. … Most in the lower castes and tribes.’

P110 There are four castes the highest Brahmins, priestly teachers, the soldier-nobles, then merchants, Dalits or untouchables who were darker skinned and did all the work except cremations which were carried out by the lowest of the low, the chandals. [Dalits are called Sikkaliars in Tamil Nadu]

P110 ‘Ethnic discrimination in India is compounded by the Hindu Caste System, the world’s oldest form of social stratification, dating from the Aryan expansion into India in 1500 B.C.’ [yes the lighter the skin the higher the status, but also religion plays in, I have seen reference that becoming a Christian makes you a Dalits]

P110-120 There is way too much information here about India and the basic history and why there are so many people groups. The gist is that money and power moved these different groups into the area and out. Most came from the north pushing people south.

P110-120 Much of the extreme poor in Asia was caused by the colonization from European countries, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, and England each in turn. They encouraged further stratification of people, removed resources and product, such as spices, silk, and copper ore without compensating the locals. The goal was to amass as much wealth in the home country as possible. Much was done to control the native populations, withholding education being major.

P124 Britton used a divide and conquers system of encouraging animosity between groups to maintain control. [Once again the notion that people will always fight, either against each other or a common goal]

P128 the French were late to the colonization, started in the mid 1800’s and ended when forced to by an international conference in 1954. ‘By then France had convinced the United States, ridden with Cold War anti-Soviet paranoia, to bankroll its war for colonial restoration in North Vietnam…’

P142 ‘Nutmeg and mace may have driven the first phase of European colonization in Asia, but it was a different “spice” entirely that drove the second phase of colonial exploitation in the 19th and 20th centuries. This spice traded by early Asian merchant as medicine was opium.’

P175 the last numerous pages are talking about the drug trade with opium and heroin primary focus because both come from poppies. Heroin is injected, and needle sharing is a primary HIV path. It is amazing to see who was involved in growing drug use. The colonies used it to make the people complacent. Others supplied enemies with drugs to help their cause; this includes the US (CIA). Now to be smart it is only in the last 90 years has illicit drug use been banned, before that it was even common to give these addictive drugs to soldiers, government officials, and even schoolchildren to help with behavior issues. But the primary use was to place the workforce in bondage, addicts needing to work to get paid for the next fix.

P175 ‘the contemporary drug industry is fed by a commodities market created by European colonial powers that could “promote cultivation where needed (India) and suppress it where not (southeast Asia),” while integrating the whole into the global economy. Global prohibition beginning in the 1920s added another layer: “criminal syndicates emerged to link highland growers and urban addicts in a global illicit market.” Each subsequent effort to suppress production and use has had a chain of unintended consequences that has bolstered the drug trade and increased markets. Nearly 80 years of failed eradication efforts show that “the illicit drug market is a complex global system, both sensitive and resilient, that quickly transforms suppression into stimulus,” says McCoy.’

P185 ‘ The only reason women are not at the absolute bottom of the global feeding chain is because children are weaker.’

P186 ‘almost 70% of the 1.2 billion of the worlds extremely poor people are women.’

P207 ‘ 1/5 of humanity now follows Islam.’

P209 ‘The Positive Women’s Network of South India says that women rarely inherit property shared during a marriage, and may even lose the property they brought into the marriage when their husband die.’

P209 In Hindu culture women are not part of caste IE they are all untouchables.

P210 typical birth ratio is 5% more males than females. Because of preference towards males, and available technology the ratio in China and other parts of Asia can be 20% males.

P223 responses to growing orphan populations: 0 deny 1 state and charity orphanages 2 over flowing orphanages 3 search out community care solutions 4 paired community support with poverty relief, food support, education, healthcare for guardians and orphans

P233 Relatives usually confiscate the property of women in Africa and Asia.

P234 known trafficked people is about 1 million this is only people being brought unwillingly across firm country borders, not including in country nor unpatrolled borders.

P234 ‘there are 250 million child laborers under the age of 14, more than half in Asia “under appalling conditions, facing sexual abuse and even slavery”. Twenty percent are domestic laborers, mostly girls. … ‘

P234 ‘The same Hindu belief system that condemns women to permanently lower status provides a convenient philosophical underpinning for economic extortion of India’s youngest citizens. Human Rights Watch ways “one of the foundation of bonded labor is the caste system, through which a traditional expectations of free labor, lack of land, and the threat of violence and social and economic boycotts from upper castes conspire to keep many so called untouchables in bondage and perpetual state of poverty.” Vimali, a fifteen year old girl in Tamil Nadu bonded by her parents, to a silk loom owner for $167 says “this is the thing that god blessed me with, so I have to do work like this. It is written on my head. I don’t want to go to the looms, but there is no other way.” These children work 14 hours a day, sleep in the factories between the looms, rarely see their families, are beaten if they make mistakes and because of scurrilous accounting systems, the always stay in debt no matter how much the earn.’

P235 ‘Between 60 and 115 million children work in India’

P236 it is very bad karma to become an orphan

Conclusion: This book is written by someone frustrated by the common USA and Christian stance that only abstinence is the acceptable form of birth and disease control. Each of the major world religions frown upon the use of condoms. Add to this that though effective HIV treatment drugs could, and do, cost a dollar a day the US govt. is supporting its pharmaceutical companies in keeping prices at $10,000 to $20,000 a year. This book is very harsh on the reality, and while in some cases the numbers are being used sensationalize the HIV/AIDS epidemic that is coming to the Asian countries, it is at the same time factual.