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]