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April 30, 2009

He Qi: Holy Spirit Coming

79-Holy%20Spirit%20Coming.jpg Holy Spirit Coming, by He Qi.
He Qi's work, which Christianity Today has previously covered, is on display at Wheaton College until June 9. More of his paintings are in our slideshow, "The Dragon in the Belly: Patriarchs, Judges, and Kings."

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
- John 14:15-17

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
- Acts 2:1-4

April 29, 2009

Biggest Church on Earth


People rush in to Yoido Full Gospel Church, in Seoul, South Korea. YFGC says it is the biggest congregation on Earth. It has 527 pastors. In 2007, they reported more than 830,000 members. Seating is limited, even with seven Sunday services. Photo by Ray Chiang, all rights reserved.

April 28, 2009

Currier & Ives: God's Words

10commandmentsCI.jpg By Currier & Ives, "Publishers of Cheap and Popular Pictures," c1876.

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

"You shall have no other gods before me.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

"Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

"You shall not murder.

"You shall not commit adultery.

"You shall not steal.

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

These are the commandments the Lord proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me.

- Deuteronomy 5:6-22

April 27, 2009

Map: Evangelicals Around the World


White dots represent evangelicals in a map by the International Mission Board's Global Research Department.

April 23, 2009

Anti-Malaria Ministry


At the time Cyclone Nargis hit Win's urban community in Yangon, Myanmar, her family could not afford a mosquito net to sleep under. Tonight, under a donated net, Win can sleep safe from mosquitoes which could give her malaria or dengue hemorrhagic fever. She says the net is the best thing World Vision could have given her. Photo © World Vision, used by permission.

More photos after the jump.

0801RW_0559.jpg A Compassion International child development center health worker escorts Sam Mugabo, 7, home after the boy received a treated mosquito net at the center. The program worker walks Sam home each time he visits the center. Photo by Chuck Bigger, Copyright Compassion International.

0801RW_0538.jpg After Rwanda custom officials inspect the bales of nets, Compassion International workers and members of the community remove them from the truck. These long-lasting insecticidal nets are effective for up to five years. Photo by Chuck Bigger, Copyright Compassion International.

April 22, 2009

Earth Day: Floresta

2722814237_5995e6e492_b.jpg Floresta helped students at Ashira Secondary School in Tanzania plant trees in deforested areas.

April 20, 2009

'You have left your first love'

Letter-to-Ephesians.jpg Letter to the Ephesians, by Nicora Gangi

Gangi's pastel drawing points to the warning the church at Ephesus received in Revelation, "You have left your first love." Gangi says,

A watch indicates a set time for judgment--the complete removal of their smoldering lamp--to come on them. The Nativity by Rembrandt, behind the stack of magic books and letters, as well as the pomegranate, point to their early love for Christ. The sheets of music emphasize the church's need to "Sing A New Song, Sing to the Lord of all the earth" (Psalm 96:1).

April 17, 2009

An Uncomfortable Toy Story

Playmobil, after threatening to sue a German pastor over his toy Bible diorama website, said it would try to "work with him to find a way he can keep the site without violating the company's rights," reports the Associated Press.

Markus Bomhard has been making Bible dioramas of Playmobil characters for two years and posting them to his website.


The company's press release says their problem isn't with customizing the figures, but "that they were created by manipulating the toys in an unsafe manner," such as melting Playmobil Jesus' hands so they could be nailed to the cross.

Gisela Kupiak, a Playmobil spokesman, told The National Post

the pastor was violating the company's commercial rights for his own benefit.

"We are quite tolerant if this is done in the privacy of the home but if someone crucifies a Playmobil figure, or, as in the case of Eve, glues on breasts, then this is a completely different dimension," she said.

Bomhard said his scenes were created to teach children about the Bible. However, when compared to atheist Brendan Powell Smith's Lego Bible scenes, it's difficult to tell who's kidding. Playmobil smiles can be ghastly in the wrong place.

Cartoon: The Spies Return


From Balaam's Chicken by Kevin Frank.

April 14, 2009

Breakfast on the Beach

boat%20discovery.jpg Archaeologists unearth a first-century fishing boat on the edge of the Sea of Galilee. Photo courtesy of Yigal-Alon Museum.

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered.

He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

- John 21:1-14

April 13, 2009

'Were not our hearts burning within us?'

detail_Caravaggio%2CSupper_at.jpg Detail from Supper at Emmaus by Michelangelo da Caravaggio

Why did Christianity arise, and why did it take the shape it did? The early Christians themselves reply: We exist because of Jesus' resurrection. ? There is no evidence for a form of early Christianity in which the resurrection was not a central belief. Nor was this belief, as it were, bolted on to Christianity at the edge. It was the central driving force, informing the whole movement.
- N. T. Wright, The Challenge of Jesus

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
- Luke 24:30-35

1602-3_Caravaggio%2CSupper_at_Emmaus_National_Gallery%2C_London.jpg Supper at Emmaus by Michelangelo da Caravaggio

April 12, 2009

Easter Song

Rossakiewicz_Angel.jpg The Angel of the Lord (St John Passion - 9), by Jacek Andrzej Rossakiewicz

And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth."

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!"

- Revelation 5:9-13

April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday

peter-and-john-burnand.jpg Peter and John Running to the Tomb of Christ, by Eugene Burnand

Holy God, Holy and Mighty,
Holy and merciful Savior,
deliver us not into the bitterness of eternal death.
- The Burial of the Dead, Rite Two from The Book of Common Prayer

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;

I myself will see him
with my own eyes - I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

- Job 19:25-27

April 10, 2009

'I Am Poured Out Like Water'

tissot-what-our-savior-saw-from-the-cross.jpg What Our Savior Saw From the Cross by James Tissot.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.

In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

"He trusts in the Lord;
let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.

From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.

My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.

I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.

They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

But you, O Lord, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.

Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.

You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.

The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the Lord will praise him -
may your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,

for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him -
those who cannot keep themselves alive.

Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.

They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn -
for he has done it.

- Psalm 22

April 9, 2009

Lifted Up


The Brazen Serpent monument by Giovanni Fantoni, photo by David Bjorgen. The sculpture, on Mt. Nebo in Jordan, commemorates God's command to Moses to raise a sculpture of a snake on a pole in order to heal Israelites dying of snakebites.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
- John 3:14-15

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

- "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts.

April 8, 2009

Passover Feast

417px-Haggadah_14th_cent.jpg A 14th-century German illuminated Haggadah. A Haggadah is the script recited at the first two Seder meals of Passover. It tells the story of the Exodus.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there."
The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
- Mark 14:12-16

Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast - as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
- 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

April 7, 2009


forte_andpeterwept_72.jpg And Peter Wept by Wayne Forte.

Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
"'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will."
"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times."
But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same.

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said.
But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

- Matthew 26:31-35, 69-70

April 6, 2009

The Cup

kiefer_canyoudrinkthecup_72.jpg Can You Drink the Cup I Am About to Drink? by Fr. John Kiefer .

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

- Matthew 26:36-39

Christ's prayers fall into two categories with regard to this: conditional and absolute. As far as his conditional prayers were concerned, Luke 22:42 is a prime example: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." . . . This prayer was answered in the following ways. His mind was strengthened against the terror of the impending events. This enabled him to be perfectly composed to embrace God's will: "not my will, but yours be done." So Christ was heard to the extent he he had wished to be heard. Although, by nature, he desired deliverance, since he was human, yet he did not desire this absolutely, as he was wholly given over to God's will.
- Adapted from Hebrews by John Owen. Copyright 1998 by Watermark.

April 5, 2009

Palm Branches in Heaven


Victory over Death, by Frederick Wilson at Church of the Incarnation. Photo by Chester Burger.

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the King of Israel!"
Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
"Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey's colt."

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

- John 12:12-16

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.

- Revelation 7:9-12


April 3, 2009

Your King Comes

2334940696_24e4362db5_b.jpg A young man in the Philippines weaves palaspas for Palm Sunday celebrations. Photo by Regina Dycaico.

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
- Matthew 20:25-28

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
- Zechariah 9:9-10

Easter Hats for a Recession

2398985414_eaa8690a17_b.jpg By aptmetaphor/Flickr

Easter Hats Fall Victim to Economic Downturn
By Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

There are many things that Paula Settles is willing to forgo in these budget-conscious times, but an Easter hat isn't one of them.

"I wouldn't consider going to church without a hat on," said Settles, an African-American retiree of a certain age who's already planning her outfit for Easter services at her Baptist church in Washington, D.C.

She's decided on a saucer-sized number with two long pheasant feathers for Easter morning, but in an effort to keep costs down, she's pairing it with an outfit that's already in her closet.
"My hat will freshen up an old outfit," she said. "It was more cost-effective for me to get a new hat than a new suit, new shoes, all of that."

Settles isn't alone - either in her desire for a striking fashion statement to greet Easter morning, or her desire to keep costs in check, hat retailers say. "I bought a small hat this year," Settles said. "I didn't buy a huge, outrageous hat."

Despite the economy, a proper lady still needs a proper topper.

That's why at Andrea's Fine Hats here, owner Andrea Bray is spearheading an effort to acquire donated "gently worn" hats that can be refurbished or repaired for cash-strapped patrons.
The refurbished hats will be distributed to churches and nursing homes for Easter and Mother's Day. Settles is volunteering to give the hats another go with a steam press or fresh decorations.
"With the economy being so tough, some of the people that may be hardest hit by this are those who may be in nursing homes or maybe in the hospital or somebody at the church who can't afford to buy a new hat," said Settles. "If we can get it to look good enough, it'll look like a brand new hat."

While Bray has made a point of stocking more affordable options this year, she's still selling pieces of holiday haberdashery that costs of hundreds of dollars.

"We don't call anything in here cheap," Bray said. "We call it `popular price' - anywhere from $39.50 to maybe $100."

Some hat designers, in fact, are doing pretty well. Luke Song of Detroit's Mr. Song Millinery says he's been "riding the wave" ever since Aretha Franklin wore his gray felt and rhinestone creation to President Obama's inauguration in January. Sales have skyrocketed ever since, he said.

Though Franklin's jaw-dropper hat was an original - it has its own Facebook page and the singer is currently in talks to loan it to the Smithsonian - Song's staff is busily filling orders for $179 spring versions created with banana yellow or baby pink satin ribbons.

Song is trying to give his customers options - from tiny $19 "fascinators" that look like miniature hats to grand $900 pieces that are worthy of a day at Churchill Downs.
"Every boutique tells me their accessories are up," said Song, who caters to about 500 boutiques. "The clothing is struggling, but they're doing well with their accessories, which includes the hats."

And besides, Song said, everyone needs a little pick-me-up when most economic news is all bad, all the time. "Easter's always been good for hats," he said. "Despite the economy, I think it's a feel-good thing."

Gail Lowe, senior historian at the Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, said Easter hat traditions run deep, especially in the black church. There's biblical precedent for a woman to cover her hair, as well as the desire to greet spring with a new, colorful look. Lowe's museum currently features a pink, yellow and green hat, decorated with flowers and leaves, in the Easter section of its exhibit, "Jubilee: African American Celebration."

"No matter how trying times are, people try to ... hold onto certain traditions," she said. "This would definitely be a good example, and it's a very viable example that we're still keeping our heads up."
Michael Cunningham, a Washington-based photographer whose photos were featured in the book, "Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats," said the endurance of Easter hats - even in tough times - reflects the resilience of the women who wear them.

"I don't think they would ever say that things have been smooth throughout history," he said. "It's always been a challenge. Especially black Americans, we've always been challenged economically. I think they're going to keep on rolling with it."

April 2, 2009

Free Will and Destiny


Reflection, by Steph Roberts. "[My] recent diver paintings continue to explore the dichotomy of free will and destiny," Roberts writes. "Even in their precise and controlled movements, the divers themselves strain against pervasive natural forces. This relationship speaks to the assertion of human will in the context of circumstances beyond one's control."

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death -
even death on a cross!
- Philippians 2:5-8

April 1, 2009

An Easy Fast


"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."
- Matthew 6:16

O king, Araunah gives all this to the king." Araunah also said to him, "May the Lord your God accept you." But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
- 2 Samuel 24:23-24



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