Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mysterious King on the Throne

Part one of this story series ...

Second half of 8th Century, B.C.
The Hebrew Temple.

The king was dead.

He'd made a terrible error, one not of misunderstanding or accident, but of sheer pride, arrogance and deliberate disobedience.

He'd been mighty.




But he'd let all of that go to his head. His younger days, those in which he relied on God reverently and humbly, were a faint memory. He'd allowed the successes of his reign to fill his head, to pump him up, to give him a sense of self-exaltation and conceit.

It wasn't always that way.

He'd taken the throne at the tender age of 16 and immediately trusted God for guidance. As long as that frame of mind existed, God prospered him. He pummeled some of Israel's top enemies: the Philistines, the Arabians and the Meunites. Even the Ammonites, another vicious people, brought tributes to him. His fame spread, all the way to the palace halls of Egypt.

He enhanced the city of Jerusalem, building towers, digging wells, planting crops and vineyards, providing ample food supply for livestock, too.

Not only that, he had a team of warriors -- 2,600 "mighty men of valor" -- who oversaw an army of 307,500, which ws outfitted with shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and slings to protect the country. Skilled men, too, invented devices that shot arrows and large stones from the tall towers of Jerusalem.

And ironically, this very strength of his was the king's downfall.

He began to believe that he'd done all of this himself. And with that belief, he felt entitled to bypass the laws established through Moses.

One day, he strode into the Temple and walked right up to the altar, a place that was reserved for the priests. He began to burn incense. Eighty priests surrounded him and begged him to stop, but he continued. After all -- he was the king, wasn't he? He'd done all of these things, hadn't he? Who were they -- or who was God for that matter -- to tell him he couldn't burn a little bit of incense at the altar?

He told them so. Angrily. He spat the words at them.

And suddenly, they backed away from him, their faces filled with horror.

"What is it?" he demanded.

"Leprosy!" one of them shouted. "You have leprosy! It's breaking out on your forehead!"

That was all it took. He knew he was doomed, not only to live a solitary life from that point forward, but also to never -- ever -- enter the Temple to worship again. Mosaic law viewed leprosy as a breach of God's holiness. It graphically symbolized defilement.

So the end of his life was spent not in his beautiful palace ... but in an isolated house. Control of the temple and the state now passed to his son, who exercised power on the king's behalf.

He died in disgrace.

And it was at this time in history when a regular guy encountered the true King -- a mysterious King on a throne. He was high and lifted up, in the very temple where the now-deceased king had made his fatal mistake.

Where had He come from? Who was He?

The guy, whose name was Isaiah, was soon to find out.

What does this have to do with going to church and finding joy in the act of worship? Tune in tomorrow for part 2 of the story ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Troublesome Question from a Radio DJ

An introduction to a new story series ...

Radio chatter peppers my long drives around central Kentucky, from my home in the woods to various business appointments and church events in the city of Lexington.

Recently on one of these trips, a radio DJ on a Christian station posed a question that needled me.

"What I wonder," he said, "is what we're going to do in Heaven. I know we're going to worship God all of the time, but I'm not sure what that means. And I'm not sure if I really like the idea."

My jaw dropped. He continued.

"I mean, when we worship at church, most of us can only take about an hour of it, and then we're ready to go home. What will it be like to worship for an eternity? I guess we'll find out when we get there, but I'm trying to understand that, and I think a lot of other people are, too."

Do you feel that way? Do you dread going to church, look at your watch and think about your lunch, or feel like the fifth stanza of that last hymn is never going to end?

Or do you look forward to worship? Are you excited to get in your car on a Sunday morning and drive hurriedly so that you don't miss the opening prayer?

The DJ's question troubled me, because I realized that most people would agree with him.

But I have good news for you.

Worship doesn't have to be that way.

Tune in tomorrow, when we'll launch a new story series.

The title of the first one?

"The Mysterious King on the Throne"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Atheist Drinking Game on Twitter

I've seen references to this "drinking game" on Twitter among atheists for a while. Today I got to the bottom of it.

Now just in case you happen to think that your encounters with atheists are productive ... take a look at the rules of this game, which I have cut and pasted.

Yes, there are some atheists who are genuinely seeking and who have great questions. There are others who speak seriously to your face and mock the entire story behind your back. How can you tell the difference?

One way is just to shine a light on things like this and to see who is participating in it. Easy to figure out. The other way is to ask for prayer. A team of people at my church has devoted to praying solely for my encounters on Twitter with atheists. Since that practice started, I've been able to see the entire group of people much more clearly -- to wit, the discovery of this game today.

So take a look at it ... and if you're engaging someone, think twice about how you are using the lines below and whether you are a pawn in a game or a light that they are following. (grammatical errors, not my own. :-)


This is tacitly a drinking game but have a choccie, toke, drink, mark a score card... The point is to match the Christian argument to the list (the list will be expanded as needed)and share on thread,trend, where ever. so all players get a treat.

Psalm14:1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” - One Drink
You can only understand the scripture if you beleive (the Tinkerbell Defence) - One Drink
Variations on Pascal's Wager - Two Drinks (bonus drink if you pull the Wotan gambit)
Altering scripture in violation of Rev 22:18-19 to 'prove a point' - One drink
Crazy redneck preaching - (Pentateuch, Revelations) one drink (Epistles) two drinks
Witnessing of banal miracles - one drink
Out of context, or 'String of Pearls' exegesis - two drinks
You were never a real Christian Gambit - one drink
Accusations of being devil bought, possessed, or being the antichrist - one drink
John 3:16 - one drink (counter with John 3:18 is a bonus drink)
It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve - one drink
Where were You when I hung the stars? defence - one drink
Circular Logic - One drink
Pious threats of God cutting you so bad your mother won't know you - one drink
'We can't all be wrong' - argumentum ad populum - one drink
"Scientific evidence is fake!" style defence - one drink
Xian blocks you online - Triple to all players
"Scientists just want to disprove god" logic - one drink
Quoting Augustine as if 'scripture' - one drink (triple if you point out Augustines claims to see headless men and cyclopses in Africa)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Car Journey

My atheist friend Nick, who lives in the United Kingdom, wrote this really good story, entitled, "A Car Journey." I asked him if I could share it with you here at the Christian safehouse, and he agreed, provided that I allow him and other atheists to comment along with all of you.

The reason I want to share it is because it offers great insight into the point of view of someone who does not believe there is a God. When we chat and debate, it's really important that we first grasp the other person's rationality. This is one of the most well-stated atheistic positions I have come across. It's simple and to the point.

Please take a moment to read Nick's take on our faith. Then respond, constructively, with yours.

Note to atheists who would like to respond: I'll post your comments to this post provided they contain no vulgarity and address the issue. I won't post anything that attacks Jesus or people who believe in Him. I appreciate you stopping by the blog!

Here's Nick's story:

A Car Journey

We're going on a drive. We'll both have to be blindfolded, I'm afraid. But this is a very special car. It will never go off the road. But if we are at a junction, it can turn left or right. Or go straight on. But I don't know which way it's going to go. And neither do you.

But before we start: Look [circles a large area on the map]. This is where we are starting from.

Right. Blindfold on.

I'm going to drive for quite a while. So you might get a little bored. Sorry about that. Right ready? Good.

[Car moves off. Various left and right turns. Car stops and starts many, many times. More turns left and right. Sorry this journey is very boring.]

[Some hours later]

Right. Here we are! Blindfolds off.

See where we are now? Look at the map.This is where we are! (points at the map) What do you notice about the route we took? Anything you can say about it?

1) You could say. "It's amazing that we are where we are. Because of all those turns we took. And we just happened to have reached this point. Isn't that amazing. If we had taken just one wrong turn, we would have stopped somewhere else. It's like it's been planned. Like that was the ONLY place we could have stopped. And that we were supposed to stop here. After all, you didn't know what direction we were going in. You were blind folded, too. And you just stopped when you felt like it. Isn't that amazing."

2) Or you could say. "It's not amazing at all That we stopped here. Lets see [ look's around the car] Look, I've just found a lot of receipts on the floor of the car. And they have times and addresses on. And if I put them in time order, I can figure out roughly the route we took. Look! I can even say something about where we started with a little more accuracy! And I can say something about what happened when we were blindfolded. Isn't that amazing!"

So which is MOST amazing? The fact that we can sit and say, "Wow we are so lucky to have this big overriding plan for our lives. That can show us the way,"

Or, is it more amazing to look around us? Look at the information we have? And use it to learn something about the world? And what has happened in the past to inform our present?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chinese Official Says Gao Zhisheng "Went Missing"

I received this email this morning from China Aid, a ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. Please read about this brave Chinese Christian man who has been tortured and is now presumed dead. There is a link at the bottom for you to go and sign a petition. Prayerfully consider doing this. Thank you so much. -- Heidi.

Since mid-December, 2009, ominous rumors have circulated about Gao Zhisheng, hinting that he has died after brutal torture in prison. However, no reports have been confirmed, and the Chinese government continues to refuse comment on his condition and whereabouts.

Gege, Gao's daughter, had been reportedly "pale and tired-looking" with worry for months. After hearing a rumor of Gao's death just before Christmas, Gege became so emotionally distraught, she was forced to be hospitalized. She remains fragile and under medical watch in a New York hospital.

This week, after searching out the policeman who originally detained Gao Zhisheng back in February, 2009, Gao's brother Zhiyi was told that Attorney Gao allegedly "went missing while out on a walk" on September 25, 2009. Gao's wife refused to comment, but was reported to be extremely upset after hearing the news.

This is the first time a Chinese government official has hinted that they no longer have Gao Zhisheng in their custody, leading ChinaAid to believe Gao's condition has taken a turn for the worse.

"It is totally unacceptable for the Chinese government to lose track of their own prisoner," said President of ChinaAid Bob Fu. "It is absolutely clear that he was forcibly taken from his home in February 2009. Nearly a year later, the Chinese government now says they do not have him."

Though the rumors of death cannot be confirmed, Bob Fu remains extremely concerned for this new development.

"We have every reason to suspect that the Chinese government has something very serious to hide. Gao's family has every right to know what happened to him. It is unbelievable that a high security prisoner would go missing while "out on a walk," without suspecting that there is a major cover up of his condition."

The Chinese government can no longer hide their actions from the world and must be held accountable for their treatment of Gao Zhisheng. Now is the time to act!

Sign the Petition to Free Gao Zhisheng, and encourage your friends and family to join the effort.

Contact your U.S. Representative and call for them to pressure the Chinese government to disclose the true condition and whereabouts of prominent human rights Attorney Gao Zhisheng. Even if you have sent a letter in the past, this new development calls for renewed action.

Gao's family deserves to know the truth, and so does the world! For more ways to help Free Gao, visit

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Safehouse Hug of Encouragement

Please listen to and enjoy this song from Switchfoot, which I hope will encourage your heart today. After all, at a Christian Safehouse, we should sing together sometimes, shouldn't we?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Who is The Golden Pitcher?

Conclusion to this story series ...

The Temple guards returned empty-handed, their eyes glazed, their expressions vacant.

And jaws fell to the floor.

"Why didn't you bring him in?"

"No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards answered.

"You mean he has deceived you also?" they quipped back. "Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law — there is a curse on them."

See ... the gauntlet had been thrown. In that one moment when the Golden Pitcher made its appearance and its contents were poured over the altar ... in that one moment when Jesus chose to shout His declaration that He was the eternal God who could offer "living water," the stage had been set for a war that is being waged even now, and up to the end of time.

We all know the end of the story. We know that the Pharisees continued to harangue Him, set up traps for Him, and eventually, they managed to see Him crucified. And The Golden Pitcher is central to this drama.


Well, YOU are the Golden Pitcher.

Like the Pitcher, when you welcomed Him into your life, you experienced the abundance of the relationship with Him -- the same thing He proclaimed in that Temple all of those years ago. At the moment of your belief, the Spirit entered you and dwelled IN you -- like the water that fills the Pitcher and overflows it.

The story of the Golden Pitcher is a story of empowerment, too. When He permeats all aspects of your life, when He fills you with His living water, He EMPOWERS you! He desires to be your overflow, to be the blessing in your life!

With that empowerment, you become like Him. You proclaim to the world, just as He did loudly in that Temple in the moment of silence, that He is the living water, that He has the power to fill other precious Golden Pitchers now sitting on shelves. They, too, can overflow with Him.

Yet you must be ready. You have to understand that when Jesus courageously took that step during the Great Feast, it also sealed His fate. Those of us who love Him must be willing to endure what He did -- ridicule, anger, hatred, persecution, maybe even death.

But we are Golden Pitchers. We are treasures, used by Him, filled by Him, loved by Him. When we yield to Him, we will overflow with Him.

Do you need to yield?

Are you willing to be His vessel?

Are you willing to be The Golden Pitcher?

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Golden Pitcher and a Loud Voice

Part 4 of this story series ...

His voice shook the silence of the Temple, at the pinnacle moment during that great feast.

His words were mysterious to many, excitingly hopeful to others and downright incensing to the rest.

For His decision to disrupt the silence was finely coordinated and not at all coincidental ... with the celebrated appearance of The Golden Pitcher.

You see, every day of Sukkot, a liquid religious offering was given. The Golden Pitcher was paraded to the Pool of Siloam, filled with the water from there, then taken to the altar, where it was poured along with a libation. This beautiful ceremony was for the people to express thirst and pray for autumn rains.

But on the last and greatest day, amidst all of the turmoil surrounding Jesus, He chose this precise time to make His proclamation.

It stunned all of them.

As the priests poured the water over the altar and the people stood silently and reverently, His voice rang out.


In that moment, with that statement, Jesus had elevated the prayer for rain to one of a prayer of spiritual thirst. He was offering an abundance of "water," a relationship with Him.

The crowd stirred. Some said among themselves that surely, Jesus was the Messiah. Others questioned whether He could be, because He was from Galilee, and prophecies said He'd be from Bethlehem. (They didn't know, of course, that He was born in Bethlehem.)

But the spiritual leaders of the people were angrier than ever.

They'd had enough.

So they sent the Temple guards to arrest Him.

What happened next? And what does the tale of The Golden Pitcher have to do with a Christian safehouse? Tune in for the conclusion of the story ...