Saturday, October 11, 2008

(Great) Quote: Resolved

Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
   ... Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Crossing the Street in Alexandria, Egypt

It's a real adventure crossing the street in Alexandria, Egypt. I was there back in August. Here's a close-up view of what it's like to risk your life just trying to get to the other side!

From 2008-9-2 MENA - Alexandria Egypt

Missing a Good Friend: Bassam Zawadi

A good friend of mine moved from Dubai over a month ago and I'm really missing him. Bassam Zawadi is a Muslim apologist and a good friend. Work took him back to Riyadh and I'm really missing our almost weekly dinners and discussions at Chili's. ;) To honor Bassam I want to point you to video of debates he did with a Christian apologist this summer in the U.S. I confess that I've not had time to watch them all. And you must know that I disagree with Bassam on many things including the divinity of Jesus and the authority of the Christian scriptures. And I have argued against him on many occasions.

Still, Bassam is a person of good character, he's helped me understand Islam, and I would urge you to check out his work. Here is his website.

Below are the first two videos posted on youtube... there are more but I'm sure you'll find them.

Thoughts on The Sermon on the Mountain - Part 1 - Matthew 5:1-11

I'm reading through the account of Jesus' life written by Matthew, one of his followers. I hope my thoughts and comments might spark some thoughts for you.

Today I'm considering Matthew 5:1-11.

I'm struck by the thing that seems to motivate Jesus to teach his disciples - the gathering crowds. It seems like he saw the crowds and knew that he needed to clarify what his identity, leadership, and Kingdom were all about. He did this with his primary leaders. They needed to represent his Kingdom well.

He starts with a list of "blessed's". It's as if he is stating the results of being in covenant relationship with himself and with God. Those who enter into his covenant will receive blessing.

The first four blessed statements seem to be all about recognizing your own sin and unrighteousness. They involve seeing our own inadequacies before a holy and pure God. The essential qualities are poor spirit, mourning attitude, meekness, and a hunger and thirst for righteousness. As a composite, this would describe people who recognize their emptiness, unrighteousness, powerlessness, and personal brokenness. In brief: humble and honest about their spiritual condition.

The next three fit together; the merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers. These strike me as the actions of humble people. The substance in the lives of those who have the first four inner qualities listed above.

The last two involve the the blessings that come to those who are persecuted by others for two reasons. First, those who are persecuted because they demonstrate righteousness in their lives. Secondly, those who are directly connected with Jesus. He's describing the eternal perspective that his followers must have about this life. They must live for God and be connected with him despite the persecution that he implies will necessarily come. He even encourages rejoicing and gladness in the face of persecution and this is only possible with an eternal perspective on life.

So do these things describe you? To what degree? Have you been humbled by your own inadequacy before God? Has that humility produced the actions of mercy toward others, a purity of heart only possible for those honest about themselves, or someone who works for peace between people and God and among people themselves?

Lastly, could you be accused of anything "on Jesus' account'?

Think about it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Quote: Lack of Missions During Reformation

I love the Reformation. And I'm grateful for the Reformers. But this a sad fact that, fortunately, was corrected in time by the Reformer's own focus on the supremacy and authority of the Scriptures.

One of the results of the Reformation,... which is
somewhat difficult of explanation, was the attitude of the
Protestant Church of the Reformation to missions during the
Reformation period (1517-1650). Having themselves been
emancipated from the superstitions and slavery of a false
doctrine and a harsh ecclesiastical government, it would be
thought most natural that the Reformers and those who followed
them should promptly turn their attention to spreading these
glad tidings among non-Christian peoples; but here a strange
anomaly is found in the fact that there had been hardly any
period, in the entire history of the Christian Church, so
destitute of any concerted effort to spread the gospel in
heathen lands [as] just this period of the Reformation.

... Alfred D. Mason (1855-1923), Outlines of Missionary
History [1912]

GulfNews Report on Speeding Bus Drivers

The GulfNews featured a report on construction labor bus drivers and the racing they engage in while transporting workers to and from work. They did some semi-undercover video to show what it's like riding in one of these buses and they've interviewed some workers.

I (like all Dubai drivers) pass these buses every day on the roads. It's hard to tell if and when they're racing each other. They are imposing vehicles and they're almost almost always packed to the "brim" with workers. You'll notice the the buses have speedometers that go to 100 kilometers per hour. The speed limit on the faster roads is 100 km/hr and up to 120 km/hr. Cars are supposed to go this fast but I often see cars passing me going at least 150 to 170 km/hr. I think these cars are the biggest danger on the roads.

One other issue. The government should penalize the companies for drivers who break the law. Unfortunately, I think it's usually the drivers themselves that get the full punishment and the companies go free. The companies need to be the ones that 'police' their own drivers. (Maybe they should check out the signs in the post office that I posted below :)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Basic Tech Tips from David Pogue @

There's a great article about basic tech tips on David Pogue's Blog at the New York Times. It's a compilation of things that most thorough computer geeks know but the rest of us don't. Here's a sampling below. Click here to read the entire list... It might save you some time some day :)

* You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page.

* You can enlarge the text on any Web page. In Windows, press Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it’s the Command key and plus or minus.

* You can use Google to do math for you. Just type the equation, like 23*7+15/3=, and hit Enter.

* Google is also a units-of-measurement and currency converter. Type “teaspoons in 1.3 gallons,” for example, or “euros in 17 dollars.” Click Search to see the answer.

* You can switch from one open program to the next by pressing Alt+Tab (Windows) or Command-Tab (Mac).

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Post-Ramadan Mosque Sermons in Dubai

The following are excerpts from the published mosque sermons in Dubai. All the sermons are supposed to be the same and they are published on the Dubai Islamic Affairs website in English. It's very interesting and I'm grateful that they're published in English for the expats like me.

The title from this past week was "What Comes After Ramadan". (excerpts below)

"I bear witness that our Master Mohammed is the servant of Allah and His Messenger. His Lord sent him with guidance and the true religion to exalt it over every other religion though the polytheists hate it Allah says ‘O Prophet! Verily, We have sent you as witness, and a bearer of glad tidings, and a warner. And as one who invites to Allah by His Leave, and as a lamp spreading light. And announce to the believers the glad tidings that they will have from Allah a Great Bounty.’

I recommend you and my self to fear Allah the great, urging you to obey Him, and warning you of disobeying and deviating his commands for He had granted us all the blessings we have. Allah says 'And He it is Who has put the night and the day in succession, for such who desires to remember or desires to show his gratitude.'

Ramadan has ended like everything else in life. Everything reaches an end. Every living thing eventually dies. Allah says 'Everything will perish save His Face. His is the Decision, and to Him you (all) shall be returned.'

We have bided Ramadan farewell in sorrow, because it allowed us to obey. We have said goodbye with hearts full of love because it helps us to love Allah more.

Brothers in Islam, Ramadan has ended. Some people had committed good-deeds and some people had not. We must thank Allah for the blessing of understanding that Ramadan is the month of prayer, worshipping and fasting.

After Ramadan we must pray and ask Allah to accept the tasks we had performed during Ramadan. We cannot guarantee that Allah will accept what we have done.

Brothers of faith, many Muslims are used to fear Allah during Ramadan and practice Islam by praying and avoiding sins. Once Ramadan is over, they stop doing that. True believers are those who fear Allah and worship him all the time. The messenger of Allah may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him used to say 'O you who can change what is inside our hearts, do not turn mine against your religion."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Speeding Is a Sin

From 2008-8-17 Phone Pics

I was in the Dubai post office last spring and noticed these posters that were part of a Dubai Police Department campaign against speeding. I suppose they might be effective if you have some fear of God.

As a Christian, the scriptures teach that we should obey the laws of the land, in as much as they don't command us to do things contrary to God's commands in scripture.

Romans 13:1-7 says:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."

But for the Christian there is the Gospel that tells how Jesus' death and sacrifice for us covers over all our sins past, present, and future. I'm grateful for that since I know I've surpassed the speed limit on occasion. Yet, the Gospel of Grace also encourages me to obey the laws even as I seek to obey God in thankfulness for what he's done for me in Christ.

Here's a few more pics of the posters...

From 2008-8-17 Phone Pics

From 2008-8-17 Phone Pics

NYTimes Article and Slideshow on Young Muslims in Dubai

From Desktop

There is a fascinating article and accompanying slideshow on the New York Times website that came out a few weeks ago. The article really rings true to me as I have contact with young Muslims in Dubai. At least check out the slideshow here.