28 February 2011

Join the Amsterdam 2011 Team!

To our friends in Denver, across the U.S., and in Europe,
Susy and I will be bringing a team of people to work with Serve the City in Amsterdam from May 31-June 8. This is an open invitation to join this crew. If you are interested people email me at bnewman5280@gmail.com. Deadline for signing up is March 15th.
Have a look at an interview about Serve the City in Brussels. This was just done this past week:

27 February 2011

One More Day at California Pizza Kitchen

To Our Friends in Denver, print the flyer below and go to California Pizza Kitchen today (Feb. 27th) to support a good cause. Thanks!

26 February 2011

Just a Funny Commercial!

Wrestling with "The Law"

This coming Sunday is Week 3 of the Isaac-Ishmael class. The first two weeks have provided the foundation for talking about how Judaism and Islam converge and diverge from Christianity.
     On Sunday we will discuss LAW, specifically how we understand the purpose and function of the Old Testament Law, then what Jesus had to say about it (Matthew 5) and finally how the Apostle Paul saw it (see Romans 2, Galatians 2).
     I have been wrestling with all of this the past week, in large part because Judaism and Islam have both expanded, diluted, and changed their understanding of Law. In both traditions there are laws (plural), written commentary on law, and oral tradition around Law.
     Lest I be pointing fingers at only two of the three Monotheistic traditions, we who are Christians have strong tendencies to "live under the Law" as well. We add to it and define and describe ourselves by what we will NOT do. Sometimes I wish that Jesus had just said he came to ENFORCE the Law of the Old Testament. But he said he came to "fulfill it," and somehow he did not come as a Cosmic Cop but rather as Lion and Lamb.
     Still wrestling...

25 February 2011

Maturity is ... Maximizing Diversity

Human beings have a dramatic tendency to live in "homogenous units." That is, we seek out other people with our same skin color, language, religious views, political preferences, socio-economic status, etc. etc.
       We do this unconsciously, it's like breathing.
       But that's not what God envisions for His Kingdom people. On the contrary, it seems that God is all about maximizing diversity. Why would Jesus do this? Is he crazy? Perhaps it is because we learn to love best when we would otherwise disagree most.
       I think this means that Republicans and Democrats are to respectfully disagree politically and cultivate relationship;
       I think this means that wealthier people and the economically poor are to rub shoulders and "do life" together;
       I think it means that multi-ethnic communities offer a great opportunity to humble ourselves to listen to others and learn from their worldviews.
I think this is the picture that Jesus paints of the Kingdom of God. I so desire to live with this kind of diversity.

24 February 2011

Join a Revolution ... a Serving Revolution

Next Sunday (Feb. 27th): Info meeting for Serve the City project in Amsterdam, June 1-8. Meeting will be at Lookout Mountain Church in Golden, 12:00 to 1:00pm. Join a serving revolution.

23 February 2011

The Crescent Project

Recently I have started to get to know a great outfit called the Crescent Project, based in Indianapolis. Fouad Masri is their founder and director.
       I have found their video summaries under the Resource section very helpful. In 2-3 minutes the videos answer many of the most common questions about interacting with people from Islamic backgrounds.
       Check out their website HERE.

22 February 2011

Mideast Meltdown

The world is witnessing one of the greatest upheavals in the Mideast since the creation of Israel in 1948. So many of us are thoroughly confused by what is happening.
       Is it a good thing that long-standing dictators are being challenged and overthrown?
       Who will fill the power vacuum in these countries?
       What impact will there be in Europe as people from north Africa flee to France, Italy, and other European nations?
       As volatile as the conflicts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have been, I am deeply concerned about when and if protests spread in Yemen, Syria, Iran, and even in Saudi Arabia. When that happens it will make the Egypt uprising look like a minor spat.

21 February 2011

The Top 10 Genocides of Last Century

This is a very depressing subject, but an important one. Sometimes when we think of genocide we go right to "the Holocaust" in Europe from 1933-1945.
       Here is the top 10 genocides of the 20th century:
  1. China, under Mao Ze-Dong, 1949-50 and 1966-69: 50 million to 78 million people
  2. Soviet Union, under Jozef Stalin, 1932-39: 23 million
  3. Europe, under Adolph Hitler, 1933-1945: 12 million
  4. Congo, under Leopold II of Belgium, 1886-1908: 8 million
  5. Japan, under Hideki Tojo, 1941-1944: 5 million
  6. Armenia, under Turkish rule, 1915: 1.8 million (Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks)
  7. Cambodia, under Pol Pot, 1975-79: 1.7 million
  8. North Korea, under Kim II June, 1948-1994: 1.6 million
  9. Ethiopia, under Menghistu, 1975-78: 1.5 million
  10. Biafra, under Yakubu Gowon, 1967-1970: 1 million

20 February 2011

California Pizza Kitchen TODAY

To Our Friends in Denver, print the flyer below and go to California Pizza Kitchen today (Feb. 20th) or next Sunday (Feb. 27th) to support a good cause.

19 February 2011

Deuteronomy 29:29

God, our God, will take care of the hidden things but the revealed things are our business. It's up to us and our children to attend to all the terms in this Revelation."
~ Deuteronomy 29:29 (The Message)

18 February 2011

The Film "Juno"

I really like the film "Juno." I feel a bit awkward saying that, almost embarassed. Some will think I am "off my rocker," that I am "one apple short of a bushel," that the lift is "stuck between floors." You get the idea.
       I am not advocating teen pregnancy, nor am I advocating the lifestyles of the characters. But there are some brilliant and insightful themes in this film and these have captured my heart:
  • Bleeker's commitment to Juno. The fact that he is such a nerd makes it all the more special. And ya just gotta love the guy's running outfit!
  • Juno's grief at the end of the film over giving her baby away, all the while it being bittersweet because the baby has a loving adoptive mother;
  • Juno's father and step-mother are just classic characters. I love how the dad relates to Juno - raw, real, hopeful, realistic, broken and healing.
Such is my sacrilege for today!

16 February 2011

Mental Illness Talk by Stanley Hauerwas

Stanley Hauerwas' first talk as part of Fuller Seminary's Integration Symposium was quite overwhelmingly emotional. He gave highlights from his memoir about being married to someone with bipolar disorder.
       It was raw...real...unedited...heart-wrenching... confusing...even funny at points.
Two quotes stick with me:
"The DSM-4 is a legitimating document which helps the therapist do his work when he does not know what the hell he is talking about."
His final statement of the hour-long question and answer time was:
"What I have learned is that all that matters is: 'Jesus is Lord.' Everything else is bullshit."

God and Mental Illness

I just happen to be at Fuller Seminary on the week that they do their annual Psychology Integration Symposium. This year's speaker is Stanley Hauerwas. Click HERE to read more about the symposium and Professor Hauerwas.
       Dr. Hauerwas' first talk is: Mental Illness: My Story "will tell the story of Dr. Hauerwas' marriage to someone suffering from bi-polar illness.  In particular, he will focus on the suffering and pain the illness entails for the one so affected."
      All that is missing here is Susy, who would appreciate this discussion more than me.

Finishing the Quote in Isaiah 63

One of the speakers at the conference The Holocaust and the Bible quoted Isaiah 63 at the end of his talk, as an encouragement about the destiny of the Jews. The quote is from Isaiah 63:7-9:
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD 
And the praises of the LORD, 
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, 
Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies,
According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
For He said, “Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie.”
So He became their Savior.
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old. 
I love that passage ... but of course verse 10 follows verse 9:
But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
Hmmmm... it's a bit more complex and intricate in regards to the Jewish people than we would care to admit. I am not saying this is the ultimate state of we Jews. All I am saying is that it is more fair to Scripture to read the "good news" and the "bad news" as a unit.

15 February 2011

My Brother's Forthcoming Book

My brother Randy is coming out with a new book in a couple of months. It's called, "Bringing the Gospel Home" (published by Crossway Books).
       An excerpt from the book was published in Campus Crusade's magazine Worldwide Challenge a couple of month ago. It's about my mom finding faith - a really inspiring God-sized story. You can read it here: Bringing the Gospel Home | Worldwide Challenge 
        If you read to the very end of the article you will see that I get an "honorable mention" as the drunken younger brother! Yee-Ha! So glad that God does not give up on us!
       Well I cant wait to get a copy of the book and read about our family. Should be great. I'll be sure to get extra copies for people who are interested in sharing your faith with family members.

14 February 2011

A Week of Immersion

I am at Fuller Seminary in California this week to sit in on a class entitled, "Witness in Muslim Contexts." Three hours every afternoon, 20 students (mostly about half my age!), the professor is a long-time staff member of Frontiers. An incredible guy.
       This class is electric, especially since it is beginning three days after the Egyptian government fell and today a million people were protesting in Iran. Incredible times.

13 February 2011

Class Begins Today

Today begins the five-week class, "Isaac and Ishmael: Together and Apart" at Lookout Mountain Church. I am excited and nervous about facilitating this discussion. This is a first time for me so the adrenaline is flowing!
       I cannot imagine a more appropriate time than this to have this discussion. Two days ago the Egyptian government was overthrown, yesterday there were pro-Democracy demonstrations in Algeria. All of this is on the heels of the Tunisian government falling.
       Last week I attended a two-day conference on The Holocaust and the Bible at Denver Seminary, and tomorrow I head to Fuller Seminary to audit a course on "Witness In Muslim Contexts." Whoa!

12 February 2011

Serve the City Amsterdam - June 1-8

We are leading a team to Amsterdam (The Netherlands) for a week to work with many other volunteers to Serve the City. If interested email me at bnewman5280@gmail.com. If you are in the Denver area come to an info meeting on February 27 12:00 to 1:00 pm at Lookout Mountain Church.
       Check out this video from one of last year's Serve the City projects:

11 February 2011

"I feel sick to my stomach"

The conference on the Holocaust began last night with a talk by Dr. Susanna Kokkonen, Director of Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. She recounted the pre-Word War II movement in Germany from hatred of Jews to their murder.
       I felt sick to my stomach within the first 15 minutes of her hour-long talk. Sometimes I forget the depths of horror of genocide. What struck me so strongly was how quickly a culture can act on its hatred. Consider:
* In 1929, the Nazi Party won only 3% of the vote in national elections
* In 1932, the Nazi Party won 18% of the vote
* In January 1933, the Nazi Party won 37% of the vote and Adolph Hitler became Chancellor
* In April 1933 (2 months after Hitler's rise to power) the first concentration camp at Dacau was opened.
Insane! Speechless.

10 February 2011

The Holocaust and The Bible Conference

Denver Seminary is hosting a conference today and tomorrow entitled, "The Holocaust and The Bible." Check HERE for more info on it.
       I am looking forward to this for two reasons: First, this is a "biblical studies conference" so I am hoping the issue of the Holocaust will be addressed from a biblical theology perspective more than a sociological one; second, the Rabbi Chaim Urbach is presenting a talk called, "Redemption for the Wounds of the Next Generation: Children of Holocaust Survivors." This strikes a chord close to my heart as I am the next generation after much of my father's family was killed in Auschwitz. So it has much personal application.
       I will try to report on the conference in the next couple of days on my blog.

09 February 2011

The Adjustment Bureau Releases 4 March

The film, "The Adjustment Bureau," which I previewed with a group at Fuller Seminary a few months ago, releases in the United States on March 4th. Go see it - it's thought-provking.

08 February 2011

Simplifying and Maximizing

I live a schizophrenic life. There, I said it. This is what I mean...
       I returned two days ago from traveling more than 10,000 miles in 10 days and visiting one of the most beautiful, wealthy places on earth (a valley in Switzerland). I skied, ate great food, sipped expensive (and good) coffee on the ski pistes.
       Yesterday I got home and found that the faucet of the sink in our kitchen is kaput. It would usually cost $100 to replace this. But my friend Jim - who is a contractor - is remodeling someone's kitchen and can get me their old faucet for free. What a deal!
       I am a master at rationalizing my lifestyle, as we all are. I am a missionary who raises financial support and I live a higher standard of living than 90% of the world's population. I justify it by saying that I live a lower standard of living than many other missionaries.
       If this is not crazy-making I don't know what is!
       Well I am trying to formulate and live within some core values around simplifying life and maximizing it (especially about material resources). I have not figured it all out yet, but here is 3 things I am wrestling with:
1. If I can do without something I will try to. I want to always be asking, "how can I simplify my life?";
2. I hope to appreciate more and more the luxuries afforded my family and me (whatever they may be, great and small);
3. I want to maximize every resource - by using it up, fixing it up, or giving it up.

07 February 2011

From my friend Troy

This is from my friend Troy with whom we served in Europe for many years.  He and his family moved to Chicago last summer after being part of starting several churches in Madrid. This is insightful and so true.

ten things i never expected when i accepted a call to missions in 1989

1. I would have conflict with co-workers.
2. Uncertainty would be frequent and normal.
3. Asking forgiveness from people on my staff or in my church would minister more to them than any sermon I would preach.
4. Prayer would be hard.
5. Victories would often be followed by sadness.
6. Fame and calling do not coincide.
7. I would own a beagle that likes to eat snot rags.
8. Church could happen without weekly Sunday services.
9. I could wear pajamas while preaching.
10. Ministers have regrets that God redeems. 

06 February 2011

A Youth Revolution Goes Viral

It is not mere coincidence that Tunisia ousted their long-standing dictator president, Egypt has erupted in social and political unrest, and that the Hizbollah are demanding that they be allowed to form a government in Lebanon. All of this in a few weeks.
       There is a youth revolution in North Africa and the Middle East which is unfolding before the eyes of the world. It is the voice of disgust from a generation coming of age. 
That generation is exploding in age - more than 40% of the populations of Yemen, Gaza, and Iraq are 15 years old or younger. Wondering where the next socio-political hotspot will be in the next 7 years? Try Yemen.
       More than 50% of all North African countries combined are under 25 years old! That's Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt. Pick your hotspot.
       These are only the Arab countries. Now consider that one-third of Iran (Persians) are under 15 years old, more than 50% of the country is under 30.
       So what does this mean? At the very least it means that there will be tremendous change and upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa for the next decade. It could mean tremendous strife and a greater exodus of young people from these countries into Europe.
       I believe it also means great opportunity for positive change, for the gospel in places previously closed. It will demand risk on the part of Christians, to place ourselves in relation with people from these countries. But to be sure, this is a great opportunity.

05 February 2011

God's Beautiful Creation & God's People Together

I just returned from a great week with 40+ people from Crossroads Church of Amsterdam. It was their annual ski week, deep in a valley in the Swiss Alps. It is one of the most breath-taking places on earth really.
       The only thing that rivaled God's creation this week was God's people together. I realized how much I miss the wonder of a multi-cultural community where you hear different languages and have different perspectives on things.
       We worshipped together, laughed together, fell on our bums skiing together (at least some of us), I did a few reflections/teachings from Nehemiah.
       Thanks to all the folks who made this a great week!
In Geneva with Susy before the ski week. This is where it all began for us!

Susy with Janneke (left) and Geer (right) on the slopes.
The Lauterbrunnen Valley from the ski lift. Close to paradise.

04 February 2011

Traveling in Winter ...

Traveling from Swiss Alps to Geneva to Washington D.C. to Syracuse, New York today. About 5,000 miles in all. Winter travel is always quite the excitement!

01 February 2011

Serve the City Amsterdam Trip - June 1-8

Susy and I are leading a team to Amsterdam from June 1-8 to work with Serve the City. The nucleus of this team will be from our church in Denver, Lookout Mountain Community. However, if you are not part of Lookout you are welcome to join the team with us. Contact me at bnewman5280@gmail.com if you want more information.
       Check out the one-minute promo produced by the good folks of Serve the City in Europe. It's amazing.