Photos from Uzbekistan

A view of the Registan in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Most of my friends know that I spent a year in Uzbekistan, and that I would give a lot to go back.

I posted a bazillion pics from my trip when I first came home, but the server I used for those has become bogged down with spam, and most of the folks who read this blog now didn’t way back when those photos were new to me.

So, I’m slowly porting some of them over to Flickr, complete with explanations and everything.

Not only that, but if you spot a photo you particularly like, I’d love to sell you the full-size version for any price, and I’ll give the proceeds to support many close friends who are working to spread the Kingdom of Jesus in Central Asia.

(For a point of reference, $20 is enough to support one full-time native believer within the country for one month)

Click here to view the photos, and check back for new picks throughout the next several weeks!

New Stuff From Louie

Steph already mentioned today that when I go to a christian bookstore, I can be a little like a kid in a candy store. That isn’t to say that I like everything they sell in those places. In fact, I’d say at least 50% of it outright unbiblical… but even the unbiblical stuff engages me because it helps to think through what I believe and why I believe it…

So, this weekend, the stars lined up: we were at a christian bookstore AND had a few extra dollars

…And that’s when I cam across this DVD from Louie Giglio.

As far as I know, this is the ONLY DVD from Louie that I haven’t listened to at least once. And what makes it even more exciting is that there are tons of people in my life right now who could really use some hope, and I could really use a good tool to help point them at the one True Hope.

So we snatched it up and we’re looking forward to watching it tonight. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Here’s the description from the 268 store:

Life isn’t easy. We experience problems and setbacks every day. But during the hardest parts of life, when the bottom seems to fall out, where do we turn for peace? Although God doesn’t offer any easy solutions, He does offer Himself and His cross as an anchor of hope no matter what we face in life. And more than simply enduring suffering, the hope we find in Him allows us to leverage our darkest moments for His fame. When life hurts most, the world listens most intently to our message, allowing us to broadcast through our pain the goodness of the One who loves us the most.

Food for thought

Very challenging words from Bill Hybells

I’ve been (slowly) reading “Just Walk Across The Room” by Bill  Hybells ever since I got it for Christmas. I’m still less than half way through it, but so far, I can’t recommend it enough! Last night, Steph and I were curled up in front of the fireplace reading, and these two pages really jumped off the page, so I thought I’d pass them on.

I know this is fairly length, but if you would consider yourself a follower of Christ, I really encourage you to give it a read, and then respond:

Perhaps you’re the type who agrees that evangelism needs to happen. You really do want for people to be directed toward God. But somewhere along the way, you decided that the task is reserved for spiritual superstars who can muscle a faith discussion into any conversation, anywhere, anytime. Your self-talk goes something like this: “I don’t have the right confidence level or the right skills. I don’t have the quick mind, the relational aptitude, or the gift mi. I just don’t have what it takes.” Some of you really do believe, for one reason or another, that you are disqualified from or ill-equipped for the work of evangelism.

 For those of you in this category, what perplexes me about your paradigm is the disequilibrium that must characterize your life. Here’s my point: If you genuinely think that evangelism should be a critical functioning the life of a Christ-follower, but you also fully believe that you are unfit to evangelize, at some point don’t you have to reconcile the two? I’m just curious how you live inside of that reality without the pressure to share your faith weighing you down and without guilt utterly overtaking you.

Continue reading

Good point

Got stuff?

I often wonder whether my whole life is a complete fraud.

Reading the REAL world news — not the stuff on tv or in newspapers — you have to go looking for it — and spending some time overseas probably has something to do with it…

I have these thoughts that seem so inconsistent my culture and even with my fellow believers that I don’t really know how to process them.

For example, right now, I’m sitting in my house. It’s nothing extravagant or wonderful compared to my friends or family… in America. But think about this: my monthly house payment is enough to sponsor 40 (FOURTY!) kids!

In college, in economics, they teach the concept of ‘opportunity cost’: A red sucker costs 10 cents. A blue sucker costs 5 cents. So a red sucker costs 2 blue suckers.

My home costs the care of 40 children who might die of poverty.

Think about that for a minute…

Now, let me put it in perspective: my house payment actually doesn’t cost me anything, because we carefully, prayerfully invested in it, and with God’s blessing, we’ll be able to sell it at a profit some day on our way overseas (if the Lord wills). But if Stephanie and I aren’t very careful and prayerful, we’ll fill it up with stuff, have a couple of kids, get deeper into debt, and a day will come when we don’t sell it and we don’t go anywhere and all this money will have been WASTED.

And we face similar choices day by day. I drive past a sign every day, twice a day, in front of the Durham Rescue Mission. It says, “$1.79 buys a meal and hope.” The ‘American’ thing to do is to say “Well, I pay my taxes and the government needs to do a better job of providing for our poor.” The ‘Christian’ thing to do is to say, “Well, we give to the Rescue Mission when we get some extra money.” But can I really, truly claim that when I stop into Starbucks 10 minutes later and spend 2 bucks on coffee that I can get for free at work?

In the past several weeks, I have been asking readers of this blog to consider helping my sister and her husband and their six kids (read about it here and here). My stat counter says that SEVERAL HUNDRED people have viewed those posts, yet only TWO have responded….   Why?

I could go on and on, but all this started — at least today — with a post over at ‘Vitamin Z’.

There’s some great discussion going on, so engage this topic with us!

Case in point…

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Google pointed me here this morning.

Here’s an excerpt:

Human rights group Forum 18 said Pastor Nikolai Zulfikarov has been sentenced to two years “correctional labor” in Uzbekistan for “teaching religious doctrines without special religious education and without permission from a central organ of administration of a religious organization, as well as teaching religion privately”.     

Zulfikarov will also have to pay 20 percent of his earnings to the state for the next two years for leading the five member unregistered Baptist church in the Khalkabad area near the city of Pap, said Forum 18 which closely monitored the case.