Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Great Quote: A.W. Pink on Saving Faith

The nature of Christ's salvation is woefully misrepresented
by the present-day "evangelist." He announces a Saviour from
hell rather than a Saviour from sin. And that is why so many
are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to
escape the Lake of fire who have no desire to be delivered from
their carnality and worldliness.

... A. W. Pink (1886-1952), Studies on Saving Faith,
Swengel, Pa.: Reiner Publications, 1932, p. 9-10

This is one of the most interesting quotes I've run across lately. Like all great quotes it sums up a simple but profound truth in a short form.

It helps me answer many Muslim friends who ask me "what would motivate a person to live for God's glory and seek holy living after having their sins forgiven?". They see the forgiveness of sin (past, present, and future) as giving license to continual sinning. "If God will forgive all your sins why would someone stop sinning then?" they ask.

This quote provides a clue to at least one answer to my friends. The saving faith that God grants to those who put their faith and trust in Christ's sacrifice, is faith in a Savior who saves from sin and it's consequences. He's not a Savior who merely saves us from the consequences themselves. Sin is what brings condemnation to us all. It seems reasonable and logical that if Christ only saved us from an eternal hell then the Christian would indeed feel the freedom to continue in sin. But being saved from sin is what true saving faith brings through Christ's death on our behalf.

If the faith I have in Christ is a belief in being saved from sin then that faith will produce in me an ongoing desire to fight against sin in my life rather than just mere belief that I will avoid an eternal hell. This saving faith motivates the Christian to fight sin throughout their lives. And it is sustained in them by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

A second reason that the Christian is motivated to fight against sin rather than giving in to sin is that when we put faith in Christ for salvation we are bound to him as Lord. He is the source of our new life as it says in Colossians 3:3 "For you died and your life is now hidden in Christ with God." Romans 8:1 says "For now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus".

If we are "in him" then we are bound to him and are constantly and eternally with him. We don't just receive something from him. We are with him and in him. And the person who is with him will be motivated to continually fight against sin by his holy presence in them. Just like if a coach or parent were with us in every and all situations in life. If we truly loved them and had faith in them then we would be motivated to live for them at every moment as they urged and encouraged us. So it is all the more with Christ who is with us and in us all the time.

Each of these two reasons and explanations of why the true Christian fights against sin rather than welcomes it need some illustrations but I'll have to supply that later.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Good Quote: Murray on Sin in the Believer

There must be a constant and increasing appreciation that
though sin still remains it does not have the mastery. There is
a total difference between surviving sin and reigning sin, the
regenerate in conflict with sin and the unregenerate complacent
to sin. It is one thing for sin to live in us: it is another
for us to live in sin... It is of paramount concern for the
Christian and for the interests of his sanctification that he
should know that sin does not have the dominion over him, that
the forces of redeeming, regenerative, and sanctifying grace
have been brought to bear upon him in that which is central in
his moral and spiritual being, that he is the habitation of God
through the Spirit, and that Christ has been formed in him the
hope of glory.
... John Murray (1898-1975), Redemption, Accomplished and
Applied, Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1955,
p. 145-146

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Video Game Set in Dubai

Below is a new video game trailer showing us the storyline and scenes from an upcoming game set in Dubai.  The city seems to have been hit by a cataclysmic dust storm and the gameplay takes place among the wreckage of all the amazing buildings of Dubai.  Pretty interesting for those who see the buildings everyday we drive from home to work and back.  The game is a first person shooter.

Great Quote: C.S. Lewis on God and Impossibilities

God's omnipotence means [His] power to do all that is not
intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him,
but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power. If you choose
to say, "God can give a creature free will and at the same time
withhold free will from it," you have not succeeded in saying
anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not
suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the
two other words "God can." It remains true that all things are
possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things
but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the
weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually
exclusive alternatives--not because His power meets an
obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we
talk it about God.
   ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Problem of Pain

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Great Quote: C.S. Lewis on Humility

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the
virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility.
You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I
warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie
there. Well, now we have come to the centre. According to
Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is
Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are
mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the
devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is
the complete anti-God state of mind.
   ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Christian Behavior

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Taqwacore: Punk Islam Documentary

Now here's something very interesting. I'll have to catch this somewhere. Combines my interests in Islam and culture.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Foreign Policy Mag: "Dubai's Troubles Have Just Begun" ... Yikes.

I think these are not just nay-sayers. I'm concerned that denying these kinds of things will only add to the problems here.

Ravi Zacharias on "Maintaining a Christian Worldview in the Classroom"

Good stuff from Ravi Z. And maybe this is helpful for people in other intellectually restrictive environments as well.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Wear... Only in America

Only in America... Halloween is just around the corner in Amreica.  Actually, I think this might fit my dog but I would never treat my dog like that :)  You'd think PETA would picket against these kind of things. (just kidding).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great Quote: C.S. Lewis on the Law and the Need to Be "Born Again"

The very activities for which we were created are, while we
live on earth, variously impeded: by evil in ourselves or in
others. Not to practice them is to abandon our humanity. To
practice them spontaneously and delightfully is not yet
possible. This situation creates the category of duty, the
whole specifically moral realm.
   It exists to be transcended. Here is the paradox of
Christianity. As practical imperatives for here and now, the
two great commandments have to be translated "Behave as if you
loved God and man." For no man can love because he is told to.
Yet obedience on this practical level is not really obedience
at all. And if a man really loved God and man, once again this
would hardly be obedience; for if he did, he would be unable to
help it. Thus the command really says to us, "Ye must be born
again." Till then, we have duty, morality, the Law. A
schoolmaster, as St. Paul says, is to bring us to Christ. We
must expect no more of it than of a schoolmaster; we must allow
it no less.
   ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on

Saturday, October 03, 2009

UN to Fund "Safeguarding" of UAE Cultural Practices

Here's our country's UN dues at work...

Cultural Practices to be Assisted by U.N.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- The United Nations launched an initiative in the United Arab Emirates to prevent the death of age-old cultural practices, a press release reported.

Thursday, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage listed 76 traditions from around the world on the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Included were the tango, religious processions and fertility dances.

...The practices in need of urgent safeguarding are eligible for funding to ensure their survival.

Among these are Latvian female drone singing, a collective fishing rite in Mali, three Mongolian practices and a Belarus Christmas ritual.

Do you think Abu Dhabi really needs UNESCO funding to help with this?  (See this chart on the value of various sovereign wealth funds in the world... guess whose is at the top and valued at 50% more than #2)

And what are the cultural practices that are going to be "safeguarded"?

I'm in favor of preserving heritage for future generations to learn from them.  I'm not sure this is the best way to do it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Two Interesting Articles About the UAE

New York Times: The Possibility of a Nuclear Iran Alarms Arabs

The head of a prominent research center in Dubai said that it might even be better if the West — or Israel — staged a military strike on Iran, rather than letting it emerge as a nuclear power. That kind of talk from Arabs was nearly unheard of before the revelation of the second enrichment plant, and while still rare, it reflects growing alarm.

“Israel can start the attack but they can’t sustain it; the United States can start it and sustain it,” said Abdulaziz Sager, a Saudi businessman and former diplomat who is chairman of the Gulf Research Center in the United Arab Emirates. “The region can live with a limited retaliation from Iran better than living with a permanent nuclear deterrent. I favor getting the job done now instead of living the rest of my life with a nuclear hegemony in the region that Iran would like to impose.”

Another article here
. I won't quote it...see for yourself.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Local Dubai Opinions on the Economic Downturn

Over the last year I've been informally polling various friends in business and industry here to ask about the economic downturn and whether things are changing; getting better or worse.  Sometimes it's difficult to tell from the local media reports.

Here's a quick and brief sampling from friends...

Experienced Safety Engineer

"Our company is very precarious financially..."
"(The Dubai economy) will not get better... it cannot."

Experienced Industrial Designer

"Many companies were trying to hold on until after Eid to see if business picked up but there's just not enough to go around.  There are some 'big players' in the market that are going to go under soon... or just pull out."

Higher Education Administrator

"Enrollment is down significantly this year"

Taken together, these opinions paint a pretty bleak picture.  We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wedad Lootah: A Progressive Emirati Marriage Counselor and Author

There was a fascinating article in the Gulf News this past weekend.  It really pushed the boundaries for publishing in this region in my opinion.  The article is about a female marriage counselor who has stirred things up in local society here by publishing a book about Emirati marriage problems with a big focus on sexual problems.  The article is written in a stilted style and seems like it might have been poorly translated.  Nevertheless, it's worth a read to get a glimpse of what's "rocking the boat" here in the UAE and about some interesting cultural practices and norms in the society.  Here's an excerpt:

I always feel that the bedroom is the base for happiness in marriage. When bed and love are combined, it will be the climax of marriage happiness. And even if there is no love, treating the woman well also leads to happiness. But what is not acceptable is when there is neither love nor is the man taking care of the woman.

A recent example of this is the case of a woman who came to me asking for a divorce because she said her husband had abandoned her in bed for nine years. Other counselors might take the words and submit an "abandonment case". But I talked to her and told her she was like my daughter. She said she didn't want to live with him anymore, and she couldn't. I explained to her that I want to do her a favour and talk to her husband, which I did though she said 'No need'. When I called him, he laughed and told me it is she who refused to share the bed with him. He came to me and we discussed the case in person...

Read the article here

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Post Ramadan "Exhortation"

For those of you not familiar with an Islamic view of what Ramadan should accomplish in a Muslim's life I've cut and pasted an exhortation from a local Islamic learning center near my home.  The people there are kind and I've visited a few times before.  It will give you a sense of what Muslims feel Ramadan is and should be.


Assalamu  Alaikum Wa Rahmathullahi Wa Barakathuh.

Ramadan is over.

Yes, here we go again: Back to our "normal" lives, away from the obedience of Allah and back to disobeying Him, away from working towards the Hereafter back to working for something in this temporary glitzy world.

To attain Allah's Forgiveness and His Pleasure (i.e. Paradise).
Take Islamic classes as this will keep you in a religious environment. Volunteer in some Islamic/charity centre (okay, I'm heading somewhere with this, see below) so that you can continue to benefit others.

One of the signs that our Ramadan was accepted is that we continue to do good deeds after it, and one of the signs that our Ramadan was NOT accepted was that we continue with our pre-Ramadan ways and show no signs of improvement after Ramadan.

The Islamic Learning Centre has some ways for you to continue the "Ramadan spirit":

a) Send your children to our kiddie classes: Teach your child the beauty of Islam and complete your responsibility as a parent.

Aged group:  3yrs-4yrs. twice a week ; 3.30p.m.- 5.30p.m.(days will be notified later)

Aged group 5yrs - 6yrs.  twice a week; 3.00p.m. - 5.00p.m.(days will be notified later)

Aged group 7yrs - 13yrs (girls) & 7 yrs - 10yrs. (boys)  Saturdays 9.00am.-1pm.

 Please call us for further information and register your child.
 b) Volunteer to teach the kids: We are looking for committed volunteers, with  knowledge of Islam and Arabic Language. You must be patient (you're dealing with kids, after all). Creativity is a bonus. Those interested are requested to email ____  giving a brief note on their credibility. Do remember an excellent command of the English language is a must.
c) Join our Arabic and Tafseer classes: One of the aspects of Ramadan was that it is the month when the Quran was revealed. It was revealed so that we could apply it and how can we apply it if we don't understand it? Arabic is a must as is understanding the explanation of the Quran (tafseer). Don't say "Tomorrow, insha-Allah". Say: "Today, insha-Allah!"

  • Classical Arabic Module I starts on 3rd October, 2009
    Fee AED 3500/-/per module 
    Time  2pm. - 5.00p.m. every  saturday

    All those interested are requested to make the payment and join us for this course.
  • Tafseer class will resume on Tuesday 29th September 2009 at 7.30p.m.

    Remember that there are only three things that will continue after we die:

    1) A righteous child that does dua for us - How will he/she be righteous if they don't have any knowledge of the religion of Allah?

    2) Beneficial Knowledge - For example, you take lectures and then teach others. Teaching kids is another way to benefit others with your knowledge.

    3) Ongoing charity - Perhaps you can help out at the centre in some way.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Great Quote: Yearnings for Paradise

What a great quote from C.S. Lewis!

A man's physical hunger does not prove that that man will
get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the
Atlantic. But surely a man's hunger does prove that he comes of
a race which repairs its body by eating, and inhabits a world
where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do
not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves
that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that
such a thing exists and that some men will. A man may love a
women and not win her; but it would be very odd if the
phenomenon called "falling in love" occurred in a sexless
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), The Weight of Glory, and other
addresses, Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 6

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good Quote: Bringing People to a Point of Decision

[St. Paul] always contrived to bring his hearers to a
point. There was none of the indeterminate, inconclusive
talking, which we are apt to describe as "sowing the seed." Our
idea of sowing the seed seems to be rather like scattering
wheat out of a balloon... Occasionally, of course, grains of
wheat scattered out of a balloon will fall upon plowed and
fertile land and will spring up and bear fruit; but it is a
casual method of sowing. Paul did not scatter seeds, he
planted. He so dealt with his hearers that he brought them
speedily and directly to a point of decision, and then he
demanded of them that they should make a choice and act on
their choice. In this way he kept the moral issue clearly
before them, and made them realize that his preaching was not
merely a novel and interesting doctrine, but a life. [Continued
... Roland Allen (1869-1947)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Amazing Video Model of the Spread of H1N1 (Swine Flu)

There is a lot of concern here in the UAE about H1N1. It is an international place with many people traveling through from other countries. When we arrived from holiday we were scanned for fever with a special video camera that could see body temperature. I think there are 6 reported deaths here in the UAE so far.

Gulf News: Value of Prayers Increases in Final Week of Ramadhan

This article in the GulfNews paper highlights the importance of the last 10 days of Ramadhan for all Muslims. I suggest you read the whole (short) article but here are a few interesting quotes:

Article Link

"...The last 10 days of Ramadan have been chosen by Allah to be the peak of self-control, worship and abstinence...Muslims should spend the last 10 days at the mosque if they can possibly do so. This should not come at the cost of slacking on household, marital or work duties. They should spend time reading the Quran, praying with fellow Muslims and refraining from saying any bad or hurtful words to anyone."

"The purpose is to emerge from Ramadan with a cleansed spirit."

"Ramadan is the month that people will be closer to Allah and the rewards are doubled."

"Laylat Al Qadr is a celebration of when Allah bestowed the Quran to the people during that period in Ramadan. This makes devotion in Ramadan equivalent to a thousand months of worship."

Entire article below:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Great Quote: Unfinished Work (from a Great Man!)

I knew Charlie Hummel. I met him as a student at the University of Tennessee. What a humble and wise servant of God he was. Great words here to take to heart.

Jesus did not finish all the urgent tasks in Palestine or
all the things He would have liked to do, but He did finish the
work which Gad gave Him to do. The only alternative to
frustration is to be sure that we are doing what God wants.
Nothing substitutes for knowing that this day, this hour, in
this place, we are doing the will of the Father. Then and only
then can we think of all the other unfinished tasks with
equanimity and leave them with God.

... Charles E. Hummel (1923-2004), The Tyranny of the
Urgent, Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1967

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Stoplight Scolding During the Ramadan Fast

When Ramadan rolls around every year I always endeavor to not be an insensitive expat here in Dubai. I want to not cause offense to my Muslim hosts and friends by not eating in front of them if at all possible. Most restaurants are closed during the day but you can still find some open in the "free zones". Nevertheless, you can be arrested for eating in public during the Holy month.

So as my wife and I got into the car yesterday I thought to remind her about eating or drinking in the car since she had a small package of salted pumpkin seeds in her hand. I didn't say anything and, more than that, began to pop them into my mouth and chew as we drove down the road.

About 10 minutes into the drive I pulled up to a stop light, reached down to grab a few seeds, then began to chew them. I casually glanced to my left and promptly saw a man dressed in dishdasha glaring at me. He raised his hand and wagged his finger at me in disapproval. I was embarrassed and immediately wished to apologize in some way. I stopped chewing and swallowed. As I looked back at him he thrust his hand up in exasperation as if to say, "what are you doing eating during Ramadan?... you're obviously another insensitive non-Muslim unwilling to consider your host culture".

I wish I could apologize to the man. I have no desire to cause offense.

But later I began to think more about it. What is the good of fasting if all the "temptations" to eat are prevented by law or social convention? Why is it considered an offense if I don't participate in the practice of another religion; one in which I don't believe?

Again, I don't wish to offend and yet it seems inevitable that offense will be taken if we believe different things and live by them.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Christ-Centered Preaching... An Apt Metaphor

I just heard a simple but helpful analogy or metaphor for Christ-centered preaching. Kim Riddlebarger shared it on the latest edition of the podcast White Horse Inn.

The first idea to know is that all the scriptures are about Christ. Christ himself said so in numerous places but especially verses like Luke 24:26-27 and John 5:39.

Riddlebarger then states that much of today's preaching in churches is like pastors taking one puzzle piece and carefully describing it to the congregation. Christ centered preaching does that and then relates it to the whole picture into which it fits... the Gospel and Christ. He is the focus of the scriptures.

So pastors need to have a clear view of what the puzzle "box top" picture is when they enter the pulpit and they need to tell the congregation how the piece fits into the big picture of God's redemption of his people through Christ.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Muslim - Christian Dialogue 2009 - Full Video and Trailers Up!

Some of you may have noticed that over 2 months ago I spoke on this blog about an upcoming Muslim - Christian Dialogue being held in Knowledge Village. It took place on March 2 and it was attended by close to 300 people. It was a scintillating evening of conversation about "Who is God and how are we saved?".

The company I work for here in Dubai was a corporate sponsor and we also arranged for the event to be professionally filmed. Later we will offer the DVD for sale. But the video production is done!

Click here to go to our youtube channel to see all or part of the dialogue.

Embedded below are the two video trailers to whet your appetite for entire thing.

Trailer 1

Trailer 2

Entire Dialogue (~3 hours long)

I heartily recommend that you embed the videos in your own blog or link to it on your facebook page.

The flow of the dialogue was:

Muslim speaker opening statement (25 min)
Christian speaker opening statement (25 min)

Muslim questions Christian (15 min)
Christian questions Muslim (15 min)

Audience Q & A (1 hour)

Muslim closing statement (15 min)
Christian closing statement (15 min)

All of it is excellent. But if you have to choose I'd say to watch the opening statements first. Next the questioning sections (very entertaining), the closing statements are excellent as well. Audience Q and A is just as good but a little long.

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Banning Pork to Prevent Swine Flu?

This is surprising.

"UAE bans import and sale of pork as a precaution against swine flu"

It's surprising because you don't catch swine flu from eating pork. Nor is the virus transmitted on pork.

It's disconcerting to hear that the medical and municipal authorities don't understand the basic scientific facts related to this issue.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interesting Article: The Coming Evangelical Collapse

Read this article yesterday. Very provocative. What do you think?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In America: An Ode to the Financial Crisis

I've been traveling in America for almost a week on business. With 24 hour a day cable news it's a real "downer" being here during the financial crisis. At least in the UAE there are laws to protect us from hearing what's really going on from our local media. As an ode to the situation here I'm posting this wonderfully humorous song. Be sure and check out RhettandLink.com. They rock and they're "clean".

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

3rd Bienniel Knowledge Village Muslim - Christian Dialogue


Four years ago, the company I work for helped the students of the Christian Fellowship Club and the Muslim Student Association put on a Muslim - Christian Dialogue. Close to 100 showed up. That was 2005 and we think it was the first public Muslim - Christian dialogue to be held in Dubai or the entire Arabian Peninsula; perhaps the entire Middle East.

Two years later they did another one. This time almost 200 came. And video of the event hit youtube and google video.  I posted about it when it happened.

Next Monday, March 2nd from 7pm to 10pm the 3rd Bienniel Dialogue will take place in Knowledge Village Auditorium with seating for 350.  The Muslim speaker will be Bassam Zawadi (his website) and the Christian speaker will be Thabiti Anyabwile (his website).

If you know students, freezone workers, or others who might be interested please pass the word for this event.  Others who attend will not be turned away as well.  And I'll provide a followup posting to recap how it went in the days following the event.

Good Quote: The Difficult Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God

All Christians believe in divine sovereignty but some are not aware that they do, and mistakenly imagine and insist that they reject it. What causes this odd state of affairs? The root cause is the same as in most cases of error in the Church--the intruding of rationalistic speculations, the passion for systematic consistency, a reluctance to recognize the existence of mystery and to let God be wiser than men, and a consequent subjecting of Scripture to the supposed demands of human logic. People see that the Bible teaches man's responsibility for his actions; they do not see how this is consistent with the sovereign Lordship of God over those actions. They are not content to let the two truths live side by side, as they do in the Scriptures, but jump to the conclusion that, in order to uphold the biblical truth of human responsibility, they are bound to reject the equally biblical and equally true doctrine of divine sovereignty, and to explain away the great number of texts that teach it. The desire to over-simplify the Bible by cutting out the mysteries is natural to our perverse minds, and it is not surprising, that even good men should fall victims to it.

... J. I. Packer (b.1926), Evangelism and the Sovereignty
       of God, p. 16 [1961]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good Quote: The Ministry of Authority

Seven Principles for Eradicating Selfish Ambition in the Fellowship:

7. The Ministry of Authority

Jesus made authority in the fellowship dependent upon brotherly service (Mark 10:43). Genuine spiritual authority is to be found only where the ministry of hearing, helping, bearing, and proclaiming is carried out. Every cult of personality that emphasizes the distinguished qualities, virtues, and talents of another person, even though these be of an altogether spiritual nature, is worldly and has no place in the Christian community; indeed, it poisons the Christian community...

Genuine authority realizes that it can exist only in the service of Him who alone has authority... The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and the brethren...

Pastoral authority can be attained only by the servant of Jesus who seeks no power of his own, who himself is a brother among brothers to the authority of the Word.

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dubai and the "Downturn"

This is a graph about the indebtedness of Dubai that I've had on my desktop for months. This was published before the economic crisis. It seems ominous in retrospect.

Anecdotally, I've noticed the roads in Dubai are more clear more often. A sign of reduced population here. The malls also seem to be more empty as well. I was in a somewhat deserted Times Square Mall last night and shoppers were few and far between despite Dubai Shopping Festival sales all around.

Day before yesterday I went to close out a small checking account at a local bank here. When I told the man I wanted to close the account he pulled out a paper and asked, "Are you leaving the country?" Replying no, I then asked if a lot of people were leaving the country and closing out accounts. He paused, nodded his head, and said "yes, they are".

This is a telling article from the NYTimes titled "Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down". Pretty grim.

Good Quote: The Ministry of Proclaiming

Seven Principles for Eradicating Selfish Ambition in the Fellowship:

6. The Ministry of Proclaiming

Where Christians live together the time must ultimately come when in some crisis one person will have to declare God's Word and will to another. It is inconceivable that the things that are of utmost importance to each individual should not be spoken by one to another. It is unchristian consciously to deprive another of the one decisive service we can render to him...

The more we learn to allow others to speak the Word to us, to accept humbly and gratefully even severe reproaches and admonitions, the more free and objective will we be in speaking ourselves. The humble person will stick to truth and love. He will stick to the Word of God and let it lead him to his brother...

Reproof is unavoidable. God's Word demands it when a brother falls into open sin. Where defection from God's Word in doctrine or life imperils the fellowship... the word of admonition and rebuke must be ventured. Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin. It is a ministry of
mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine fellowship, when we allow nothing but God's Word to stand between us, judging and succoring.

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good Quote: The Ministry of Bearing

Seven Principles for Eradicating Selfish Ambition in the Fellowship

5. The Ministry of Bearing

Thus the law of Christ is a law of bearing. Bearing means forbearing and sustaining...

The Christian must suffer and endure the brother. It is only when he is a burden that another person is really a brother and not merely an object to be manipulated. It is,
first of all, the freedom of the other person that is a burden to the Christian. The freedom of the other person includes all that we mean by a person's nature, individuality, endowment. It also includes his weaknesses and oddities, which are such a trial to our patience, everything that produces frictions,
conflicts, and collisions among us.

Then, there is the abuse of that freedom that becomes a burden for the Christian. In sin, fellowship with God and with his brother are broken. To cherish no contempt for the sinner but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have to give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, to preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness...

The service of forgiveness is rendered by one to the others daily. It occurs, without words, in the intercessions for one another. He who is bearing others knows that he
himself is being borne.

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Monday, February 09, 2009

Good Quote: Ministry of Helpfulness

Seven Principles for Eradicating Selfish Ambition in the Fellowship

4. The Ministry of Helpfulness

Active helpfulness means, initially, simple assistance in trifling, external matters. There is a multitude of these things wherever people live together. Nobody is too good for the meanest service...

We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps--reading the Bible. When we do that, we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that not our way, but God's way must be done.

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Good Quote: Ministry of Listening

Seven Principles for Eradicating Selfish Ambition in the Fellowship:

3. The Ministry of Listening

The first service that one owes to others in the
fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God
begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love
for the brethren is learning to listen to them... Listening
can be a greater service than speaking... One who cannot
listen long and patiently will presently be talking beside the
point and be never really speaking to others. Anyone who
thinks his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will
eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for
himself and for his own follies...

We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak
the Word of God.

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Good Quote: Ministry of Meekness

Seven Principles for Eradicating Selfish Ambition in the Fellowship:

2. the ministry of meekness

He who would learn to serve must first learn to think
little of himself... Only he who lives by the forgiveness of
his sin in Jesus Christ will rightly think little of himself.
He will know that his own wisdom reached the end of its tether
when Jesus forgave him. He will know that it is good for his
own will to be broken in the encounter with his neighbor...

But not only my neighbor's will, but also his honor is
more important than mine. The desire for one's own honor
hinders faith. One who seeks his own honor is no longer
seeking God and his neighbor. What does it matter if I suffer
injustice? Would I not have deserved even worse punishment
from God, if He had not dealt with me according to His mercy?

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Friday, February 06, 2009

Good Quote: Ministry of Holding One's Tongue

Oh man... I need this one badly.

From Seven Principles for Eradicating Selfish Ambition in the

1. The ministry of holding one's tongue

Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we
absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words...
Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship
that each individual is prohibited from saying much that
occurs to him. This prohibition does not include the personal
word of advice and guidance. But to speak about a brother is
forbidden, even under the cloak of help and goodwill; for it
is precisely in this guise that the spirit of hatred among
brothers creeps in when it is seeking to create mischief.

... Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together [1954]

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Desert Campout with the Youth Group

We had a great time duning with the church youth group recently. Here are some pictures to commemorate the event.

Great Quote: A Faint Spark of Love for Christ

The love I bear Christ is but a faint and feeble spark,
but it is an emanation from himself: He kindled it and he
keeps it alive; and because it is his work, I trust many
waters shall not quench it.

... John Newton (1725-1807), in a letter [1776]

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's a Party Weekend in Dubai

Somehow the party commitments piled up this weekend in this multi-national, multi-cultural 'wonderland' that is Dubai.  First we'll be at a Filipino 18year old Debutante Party.  Next, it's a stop over at an Indonesian (late) Christmas party, and we'll cap it off with a Romanian Pig Roast.

All should be fun with friends from around the world... stay tuned for insights and pictures :)

First, pictures from the 18 year old Filipino Debutante Party... I was one of few people there over the age of 30. :)

18 young men (including myself) each brought a rose and danced briefly with the honored girl. I was asked while there... first time in a while I've danced with an 18 year old girl.

Guess what her favorite color is :)

Next on to the Indonesian Christmas party... hundreds were there.

Can't remember what the soup was called but it was fantastic!

And lastly, the Romanian pig roast. I only got a picture of the (poor) pig. But it was fun being with "frisbee" friends that evening.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

US Consulate Suspends Services in Wake of Unspecified Threat

I got an email last night while watching the US Presidential inauguration online.  It said that services would be suspended at the consulate today in light of unspecified threats against the consulate.  Here's the story on MSNBC.com.

The story states that there was no public notice given of suspended services but I got the broadcast email to all registered US citizens in Dubai so that doesn't seem correct.

Monday, January 19, 2009

2008-09 Global Village - Dubai Part 2; Obama Inauguration Special

Here a few more shots from Global Village in Dubai. And to cap it off you'll see below some photos of Obama and family. That huge poster and t-shirt were in the Kenya pavilion. They are tremendously proud of the Kenyan ancestry of Obama!

And regardless of your political "stripes", the inauguration of the first minority President of the USA is an amazing event. I'm praying for him and I hope you do too.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2008-09 Global Village - Dubai

We enjoyed visiting Global Village in early January. It's like a "world's fair" of sorts. Hope you enjoy the pictures as well.

Lots of Landcruisers in the parking lot as we arrived.

The Yemen pavilion is one of our favorites. Lots of silver jewelry...

... and khanjars...

And Yemeni honey (about 15 different booths for that including some honey labeled "for married only". I think it's supposed to have "viagra-like" qualities. :)

I love the Indian shoe shops.

More pictures in the next few days!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Arif's Quranic Talisman

From 2008-10-12 Dubai Beach Volleyball Etc

I bought a new car recently. The 1983 Mercedes was just having to go to the repair shop far too many times PER MONTH! So I found a 6 month old Altima in the classifieds and purchased it from a guy named Arif.

Arif was a fascinating guy. Very "Dubai". I couldn't seem to place his national identity through his facial features or his accent. When I asked I didn't feel so bad for not figuring it out. His parents are Pakistani. He was born in Tanzania and grew up there for half his life. They later moved to Sweden where he got citizenship and grew up through adolescence. They now live in Dubai and were about to move back to Sweden (I guess it was too much good weather here :). Pakistani, Tanzanian, Swedish, Dubai resident. Very "Dubai".

While I sat next to him as we were waiting to transfer the car registration I noticed this little container on his arm (pictured above). I asked him about it. He said that it contained Quranic verses and was constructed by an Islamic Sheikh from Australia. The family evidently follows the teachings of this Sheikh in particular. When I asked it what function it served he told me that he had recently received it as a wedding gift. It would prevent other family members from getting jealous of your life and possessions (maybe your wife too?) by preventing them from even seeing those things in your life. I guess the thought is that it almost makes them "invisible".

Comments or thoughts on this from readers?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Newsweek Article on Dubai: Is the Party Over?

From Desktop

This very interesting article showed up in December's Newsweek. It was the cover story on the edition that was released in the Middle East and Dubai. I saw a whole rack of them at the Geant store in Ibn Battuta mall a month ago. The downturn has just been hitting Dubai in the last two months. Seems that we're hearing of layoffs almost every business day. Projects are being cancelled. A friend who runs a job search coaching business is having business boom for him; not a good sign for the economy in general here. A number of friends have noted that the slowdown has visibly effected the number of workers you see on job sites just driving down the road. I talked to a construction safety engineer this morning who told me that his company was instituting mandatory salary cuts starting with 2% for laborers and up to 40% for top level people. It will be interesting to watch and see how Dubai weathers this 'storm'.

Great Quote: On Conversion and the Church

A conversion is incomplete if it does not leave one
integrated into the Church. By this we do not mean any
particular part of the Church; what we do mean is that
conversion must leave one linked in loving fellowship with
one's fellow believers. Conversion is not something simply
between a man and Jesus Christ, with no other person involved.
True, it may start in that way; but it cannot end in that way.
Conversion is not individualistic. It is, in fact, just the
opposite. It joins man to his fellow men, and certainly does
not separate him from them.

William Barclay (1907-1978), In the Hands of God [1967]

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Jesus in the Temple: First Century Computer Representation

This looks to be a great resource!  Check it out.