Friday, May 26, 2017

Creation Care Seminar/Workshop

Wow! It's been a while since I posted here! Well, as you know, life gets busy, especially with ministry, kids, homeschooling, spring activities...whew!

So I wanted to let you know that next weekend I will be offering a Creation Care Workshop/Seminar at River Oaks Community Church. If you're close by, join us for some or all teaching as we dig into Scripture, look at practical examples, and discuss the impact of how creation care helps us restore people and the land into flourishing, sustainable, Christ centered communities. It will be from 6-9pm Friday, June 2nd and 9am-12 noon Saturday, June 3rd. If you are interested in attending part or all of it, you can sign up here https://goo.gl/O8HWPt (mostly for childcare numbers). Please spread the word to your friends and churches; all are welcome to come and grow in our understanding of the impact Scripture has on our daily walk with Christ
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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Dawn of a New Year

The Dawn of a New Year...
As 2016 comes to a close we reflect back on what God has taught us this year in our ministry and family life. Hebrews 12:12 summarizes it well: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” This year has been a year of learning perseverance - joyfully pressing on with homeschooling and support raising; patiently waiting for injuries to heal; praying for ministry opportunities and grace for each day.

In regards to ministry, I (Ben) did not travel as much this year due to low support, which meant a less active year in the advancement of our creation care initiative goals. My heart’s desire is to teach the church about the biblical stewardship of creation and I’ve spent countless hours praying for opportunities to share with the church in the US. My role at TEAM is very broad and I have been praying for others to join me in helping to organize trips and handle some of the detailed logistics. There are so many creation care needs around the world and this past year has been a time to pray through how God wants the ministry to grow and what countries and projects I need to focus on. I need to persevere in prayer and wait with joyful hope for what God is going to do.

Becky and I have also begun co-leading a small group from our church, meeting regularly in our home with an average of 10 adults and 16 children! It’s a full house on Tuesday evenings, but we are so thankful to be building deep, lasting relationships and putting down roots in Tennessee.

We continue to “joyfully” homeschool the kids, which takes lots of prayer, patience and overall perseverance. Caleb is in 3rd Grade and loves drawing and anything art related. Samuel is in 1st Grade and is really enjoying Math and figuring out how things work (often by breaking them and trying to fix them). David is our Pre-K athlete who loves sports and is excited about “building words” now that he knows his ABC’s.  Lilianna is our girly princess who loves to wear pink and play with her babies, but can “hold her own” with her big brothers.

We have begun “team” homeschooling with Ben teaching the core subjects to the boys while Becky prepares the materials and handles the extra-curricular activities. Due to our low monthly funding, Becky has returned to work at the hospital as a part time nurse to supplement our income. She has been working night-shift for the past year, but by February will be switching to days. Becky is thankful for her ministry opportunities at the hospital— and if you know her, you know that the light of Christ clearly shines through her smile, kind words, and compassion for those she cares for.

Yesterday morning as I was sharing with the kids, we talked about how God cares for us and we can be content in all situations because we have Christ. We have an Acappella song that we like to sing from Philippians 4:19 that says “and my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches, found in Jesus Christ”. That is what we cling to as we continue to serve Him and His Kingdom. Here is a link to the song:https://youtu.be/ILbIiZUwnyE.

So, as we head into 2017 we will persevere, committed to the Lord’s call on our lives to lead the Creation Care Initiative around the world, to minister to our kids, and to shine the light of Christ at the local hospital here in Maryville, TN. We look forward to what God is going to do and are thankful for your faithfulness in prayer and in giving. We hope you are encouraged to press on this coming year, regardless of how wonderful or challenging the past one has been. Our God is faithful and he calls us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer”.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Giving Tuesday?

Every email I receive around this time of year is either talking about the "#GivingTuesday" that is after Thanksgiving...or the Year End Giving. Honestly, it makes me sick to my stomach to write such an email to anyone I know--or even to those I don't know! Sure, we are missionaries, and we depend on the generosity and sacrificial giving of people to keep our ministry going, but I really struggle with this extra focus on the money! Here are a couple of reasons why:

1. We Christians are called to be generous people. We don't give because it's convenient, and we shouldn't give because we get a tax-deductible receipt. No, we give because we have been given so much in Christ! We can never repay the debt He payed for us on the cross. In fact, we are told by the Apostle Paul that our God will supply all our needs according to his glorious riches, which are found in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:19). I cling to that each and every day being a missionary; God will provide for my family's needs, somehow, and I believe his Word!

2. We Christians shouldn't bow to the cultural pressures of "giving" in a politically correct way. Who decided that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was a great way of raising extra funds for the slow winter season? As if the "end of year" requests we all get bombarded with weren't enough already? If we are going to give, we should give wholeheartedly, out of joy, not out of pressure.

3. We Christians should PLAN our giving as much as possible, allowing for extra funds for spontaneous giving, if possible. We are called to be generous people, and shouldn't be pressured or "guilted" into giving, so make a PLAN to give regularly to the things you value, but especially to those activities that will earn you a reward in Heaven. We are told not to store up treasures on earth, but to store up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20)--that which will last for eternity!

The only place it seems these requests we get so often for Giving Tuesday and year-end stuff would fit into my reasons for struggling with this is that I should be ready to give spontaneously if possible. However, this leads me to my fourth point:

4. We Christians should educate ourselves on what is worthwhile of our investments/giving. With so much information in the palm of our hands via our smartphones, we know of so much need around the world. Earthquakes, floods, drought, refugee crises, missionary efforts, and all the local needs such as the local food pantry and homeless shelter in our towns/cities are ever-present on the news. How do we not get overwhelmed by all the need? We can't respond to everything! What I believe we need to do is pray about what we should invest in/give to, give wholeheartedly to it, and intercede through prayer for the other needs we can't financially give to.

When I have done this, I have a peace that only God can give me because I know I am planning wisely, giving generously, and making an impact for eternity. I hope it can help you navigate this season of "giving"and beyond.

And, no, I'm not including a link to give to our ministry. What would be the point of me writing this if I did? If you wanted that, you could've asked me for it. Your job is to educate yourself and ask questions...remember?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park

A few weeks ago we went to Cades Cove, a beautiful spot in the Smoky Mountains that is encircled by the mountains. There are some beautiful views from within the cove, and many old cabins/homes are still there from when the park was created in the early 1900's. If you go this time of the year though when the leaves are turning, it can take you a few hours to circle around the cove b/c it's a one-way road and you are at the mercy of the person in front of you! If they stop to look at something or drive slowly, you just have to wait.
 One of the many homes still standing. They just don't build 'em like they used to!

 Fields behind an old Methodist Church and cemetery. This is a view up the mountainside.
We drove straight across the cove (shortcut--kids were getting antsy!) and got this view! Becky and some of the kids saw the black bears wandering around--I had my eyes on the road (mostly, sometimes on the view).

What a blessing to be so close to such a beautiful area, and that this area is a National Park! In fact, I believe it's the only FREE national park--so come visit us sometime!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Columbus and the rise of science: we've been lied to.


As I've (Ben) written before, if anything is true, it belongs to God, so as Christians we do not have to fear it. I believe it is important that we don't forget that this is what drove those Christians who came before us to excel in what they did, to make the discoveries they did. They knew generations ago that this world was created by God and would obey His will, laws He had established during the creation of this world, of all things. In fact, all things are being reconciled to Him, through his Son, Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18-20)...but not everyone accepts this reconciliation offered. Ok, on to Columbus and science!

This article is from BreakPoint.org, you can read it or listen to it there too. Here is the link: BreakPoint article: Columbus & Science lie 

-Thank heavens that Columbus was able to convince the world that the earth was round. Except, as Chuck Colson explains in this classic BreakPoint commentary, Columbus didn’t have to convince anyone.

-For well over a century and a half, secular intellectuals have promulgated the myth that when it came to understanding the natural world, medieval and earlier Christians were superstitious simpletons. As we mark Columbus Day today, read what Chuck Colson said back in 2003 as he debunks that pernicious fairy tale.

To paraphrase the opening of a popular ESPN show, these four things everyone knows are true: Before Columbus's first voyage, people thought the world was flat. When Copernicus wrote that the Earth revolved around the Sun, his conclusions came out of nowhere. Three, the "scientific revolution" of the seventeenth century invented science as we know it. And four, false beliefs and impediments to science are Christianity's fault.

There's just one problem: All four statements are false.

As Rodney Stark writes in his new book, "For the Glory of God," "every educated person" of Columbus's time, especially Christian clergy, "knew the earth was round." More than 800 years before Columbus's voyage, Bede, the church historian, taught this, as did Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Aquinas. The title of the most popular medieval text on astronomy was Sphere, not exactly what you would call a book that said the earth was flat.

As for Copernicus's sudden flash of insight, Stark quotes the eminent historian L. Bernard Cohen, who called that idea "an invention of later historians." Copernicus "was taught the essential fundamentals leading to his model by his Scholastic professors"—that is, Christian scholars.

That model was "developed gradually by a succession of . . . Scholastic scientists over the previous two centuries." Building upon their work on orbital mechanics, Copernicus added the "implicit next step."

Thus, the idea that science was invented in the seventeenth century, "when a weakened Christianity could no longer prevent it," as it is said, is false. Long before the famed physicist Isaac Newton, clergy like John of Sacrobosco, the author of Sphere, were doing what can be only called science. The Scholastics—Christians—not the Enlightenment, invented modern science.

Three hundred years before Newton, a Scholastic cleric named Jean Buridan anticipated Newton's First Law of Motion, that a body in motion will stay in motion unless otherwise impeded. It was Buridan, not an Enlightenment luminary, who first proposed that the Earth turns on its axis.

In Stark's words, "Christian theology was necessary for the rise of science." Science only happened in areas whose worldview was shaped by Christianity, that is, Europe. Many civilizations had alchemy; only Europe developed chemistry. Likewise, astrology was practiced everywhere, but only in Europe did it become astronomy.
That's because Christianity depicted God as a "rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being" who created a universe with a "rational, lawful, stable" structure. These beliefs uniquely led to "faith in the possibility of science."

So why the Columbus myth? Because, as Stark writes, "the claim of an inevitable and bitter warfare between religion and science has, for more than three centuries, been the primary polemical device used in the atheist attack of faith." Opponents of Christianity have used bogus accounts like the ones I've mentioned to not only discredit Christianity, but also position themselves as "liberators" of the human mind and spirit.

Well, it's up to us to set the record straight, and Stark's book is a great place to start. And I think it's time to tell our neighbors that what everyone thinks they know about Christianity and science is just plain wrong.
(The original commentary aired December 4, 2003). 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Drought and the need for wise stewardship of creation

If you know about the drought in Southern Africa, you'll understand why Creation Care efforts (biblical environmental stewardship) are crucial today! We can reduce the effects of drought by biblically stewarding the environment, but until we can do it widely and have a larger impact, we continue our ministries of compassion in Zimbabwe and around the world. Click on the video below to learn more.