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New Years in Nambacola Part III: Life in town

Missionary Blogs - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 15:27
Nambacola is a sweet little town about an hour and a half from Loja.  It is absolutely beautiful there…   The views are incredible! It is warmer than Loja, but not terribly hot… The...

The Denmark Outreach Team

Missionary Blogs - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 11:22
The YWAM base where I serve at in Târgu Mureş, Romania receives a lot of outreach teams especially groups that are doing their DTS outreach and sometimes also groups from churches as well. We...

The Wrath of God Absorbed

Missionary Blogs - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 04:58
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the wrath of God that Jesus absorbed in our place.   All the wrath of God that I deserve in every breath fell upon Jesus and He loved me to...

Forward Thinking about Reading Backwards– Part Three

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 03:53
One of the interesting questions raised by Richard’s approach to the reading of the OT is whether or not it is reasonable to assume that the various Gospel audiences had the requisite ‘encyclopedia of reception’ that he assumes they do, in order to catch the allusions and echoes of OT Scripture in various of the [Read More...]

Musana Camps (2 of 3)

Missionary Blogs - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 02:42
We were only there at Musana Camps for two days, but the sunrises both mornings were magnificent!  This was the view we enjoyed the first morning just as the sun peeked up over the Eastern edge...

My Crazy Adventure back to Romania

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 21:17
On Monday January 12th I had spent the majority of the morning packing up my luggage to return back to Romania after three weeks of spending it in Canada for the Christmas holidays. It was really...

A new pastoral training program

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 18:21
The past month has been a great time of recasting our vision and purpose here in Mexico.  In January the Director of World Partners Partners came to Puebla to spend a number of days with our Mexico...

McFarland USA– A Feel Good Classic

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 18:18
You have to give him credit, Kevin Costner is good at sports movies (see e.g. Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, Tin Cup etc.). In terms of recreating on film a true and inspirational story, McFarland USA is his very best sports film. In this film Costner plays coach Jim White, who creates out of nothing [Read More...]

My Trip to Canada

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 18:15
The last time I was able to go home to Canada for the Christmas holidays was in 2009 which was five years ago and that did not even include being home for Christmas Day because I had flown home on...

New Years in Nambacola Part II: Leaping over the flames!

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 15:25
We took our container and our sleeping bags and headed for Nambacola. Everyone was so excited to say ‘adios’ to the container!  Dear Container….   We made it until dark and...

Amazing Week!

Adventures with God - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:14
What an amazing week!
On Sunday Shaddie and family joined with The Gathering and after he had ministered to us he felt God leading him to release us as a church from the past into the future. As part of this he asked Ziggy and Phillimon to hold my arms up while we prayed and as Shaddie prophetically released us into the anointing of God's freedom, released mandates over us and blessing.

Since Sunday Phillimon has been healed of his back pain. His employer was so concerned about him that he sent him to a local private hospital for a load of tests which all confirmed his healing!

One of our youngsters got a long prayed for school place despite being over 100th on the waiting list.

Mercy was healed of chest pains and high blood pressure.

Rejoice got a great new job which she's very excited about.

We had an excellent morning with dear friends from Zimbabwe who spoke prohetically into our lives, it was like standing under a refreshing waterfall!

On Wednesday we saw a potential building to rent for The Gathering and today we've been given the building. We will sign the lease in the next few days and have the keys by the 1st of March. Now we're planning a Celebration Gathering for the 8th of March.

God is awesome!

How are you really feeling?

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:56
This is the coast that's currently being battered by a tropical cyclone. We visited there before Christmas because some of David's family live there. We wouldn't be standing on that...

Our Week

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:52
I mentioned in my last post that the boys were sick.  They are doing much better now but are still on antibiotics and taking breathing treatments.  Just when we seem to be getting them well...

Forward Thinking about Reading Backwards– Part Two

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 03:06
The first proper chapter of this little gem of a book is a lecture on the hermeneutics of figural interpretation, and we shall spend this post on that chapter. Drawing on the famous words of Martin Luther about how the OT is the swaddling clothes manger in which the Christ is lain. So Hays argues [Read More...]

Five Minute Friday ~ Open

Missionary Blogs - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 01:44

For the Days You Feel You Can't Survive, Much Less Thrive....

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 21:29
At this point in my life, I write often about messes. Why? because I'm surrounded by them. Two little expert mess-makers live where I live, not including the other four that live in this house who do...

ANSWERS TO PRAYER: You will be amazed

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 19:31
Praise: The Anuencia that we have been waiting for is in the mail and on it’s way to us! Praise: We have a consulate appointment for Tuesday. We could leave as soon as Friday. Praise: Our...

A Missionary's Position on 50 Shades of Grey

Jamie The Very Worst Missionary - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 19:19
For the record, yes, I read the book and, yes, I watched the movie. And before we get into my review of them both, I want to offer you this tidbit of advice from the bottom of my crooked little heart -- For the love of God, if you haven't already subjected yourself to either of these atrocities, spare yourself
If you haven't seen or read 50 Shades of Grey and you're not really sure what the fuss is about, perhaps because you were lucky enough to be stranded on a desert island for the past year or so, I wrote a brief summary, just for you -- Read it HERE, and come back -- We'll wait...
Ok? Ok. Let's do this.
First? The story in 50 Shades of Grey only “works” because Christian Grey is a hard-bodied Adonis with an insanely awesome penthouse, sleek cars, loads of cash, and, oh, a helicopterIf he was an ugly dude who worked at a gas station, rode a dirt bike, and invited a cute girl into a “play room” full of torture devices in the back of his doublewide trailer, we would all be disgusted.
It's true and you know it. 
Take away the male hotness and the buckets of money and suddenly 50 Shades of Grey is a book about an insecure, young woman who meets a controlling, manipulative stalker, and finds herself in a mess of her own conflicting emotions. She enjoys being the object of his desire, but she's also intimidated by his demeanor. She's not comfortable with the things he's asking her to do, but he's only asking because she's “special” and he wants to share special moments with her. He smothers her, but only because he wants to protect her. And he punishes her, but only for her own good. She knows he's not perfect, but surely, if she sticks with him long enough, he'll change. She's freaked out by the demands she must meet to be in a relationship with this guy, but how else can she show him how much she really loves him?
No one wants to read that book, no matter how hot the sex is, because THATis not a love story. 
We all know someone who islivingthat story and we do not envy her
Most of us have watched painfully from the sidelines as a friend ignored serious red flags in favor of relationship - Any relationship! Even a super unhealthy one.
So why are we eating this stuff up? Do we really likethe story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey? Are our ideas of love and romance really this broken? Or are we just choosing to ignore the oogy parts because we enjoy a raunchy novel every now and again?
Honestly? I would rather believe this stupid book blew up the way it did because it gave everybody and their sister a lady-boner, than because we are so dumb we can't see 50 Shades of Bullshit when it's right in front of our faces. The real life story of 50 Shades goes like this: Christian Grey needs a therapist and Anastasia Steele needs to grow a pair. 
Sorry, friends. That is just not a good story.
But it is a relatable one.
I mean, maybe there's a little bit of Anastasia Steele in all of us.
I am drawn to characters like hers, I will admit, probably because I've spent a lot of my life feeling awkward, and clumsy, and ordinary, and little bit invisible -- and I'm not gonna lie, it's kind of nice to think that someone might see something special or valuable or good in me that I can't see in myself. And, like her, I've had my insecurities used against me by people who wanted to dominate me in some fashion, even people I loved. And I, too, have walked paths created by the insecurity of others, thinking, “If I just walk with him far enough, it will help him.”
Maybe it's not actually the dashing billionaire, Christian Grey, we fell in love with one poorly written page at a time, but plain old Ana. Sweet Ana, finally picked first over her cooler, richer, hotter best friend, finally learning how lovely she is, finally knowing she is desirable, and - most of all – finally feeling worthy.
I mean, that still doesn't explain why so many people endured this terrible, awful, painfully bad book. Seriously, why God, WHYYYYY???... It has to bebecause it gives us the sexy-feel-goods. That's the only reasonable explanation. This dictionary disaster of a book can only have become SO STINKIN' POPULAR because, ladies, when we read about sex, it makes us feel sexy. It makes us want to have sex. And we really like sex! Can I get a AMEN?! Like, can we all please just admit that's true? Say it with me now, “50 Shades of Grey makes us horny!”
We like reading about sex. There. It's said. 

Of course, it helped that the type of sex depicted in 50 Shades tested our imaginary sexual boundaries – that certainly made it a more interesting read. But I think Christian Grey's fetish could have been just about anything and, as long as the sex scenes were sufficiently steamy, we would have been ok with it. He could have demanded his woman be slathered in bacon grease, or that she put on a dinosaur costume and wait for him bent over a rocking chair. He could have asked Anastasia to wear a fake mustache while he gave her hickeys with a vacuum cleaner, and we probably would have kept reading. Because whatever. There's nothing wrong with liking weird things in bed. If you are in a healthy, committed, monogamous relationship (admittedly, I'd prefer the word marriage here, but, y'know...), and you've put in the time, effort, and emotion to get to a place where it's safe for both of you to try new things and maybe even explore your limits together, I say go for it. Your bedroom is your business. Go crazy.
The problem with this book is not that it's about rough sex or BDSM or bedroom fetishes, it's that if we want to enter into that kind of space with another human being, we should probably try to get there through mutual trust and relational intimacy.Not in a written contract. Not on a first date. And not under threat of rejection. 
There isbullying and abuse in 50 Shades of Grey, but I don't really think it happens in the bedroom. It happens when a rich, powerful, good-looking man exerts his money, power, and good looks to get his way without the permission of the woman he wants to bone. (One example: He takes her beloved, crappy, old car and sells it without her knowledge, replacing it with an expensive new one. Surprise! We're supposed to think this is romantic, but really, it's just bullshit.) Quite frankly, the only way 50 Shades of Grey could have gotten so big is that we consciously chose to ignore the icky underlying message of the story - that a woman should feel grateful to oblige a demanding, controlling, severely broken man if he's hot and rich - because we were too busy enjoying the sexy parts. 
Right?! I mean, that has to be it! Otherwise, I DO NOT GET ITS MASS APPEAL. 
Whether or not we should be using romance novels as sexual stimulants is gonna have to be a whole other conversation. But the fact of the matter is that most women do get turned on by lit-porn – and not just by the explicit, overly-detailed, frenetically paced descriptions of impassioned sexual encounters, but also by the enduring fantasy of being seenand wanted. That's what most of us are seeking in our own relationships, isn't it? To be truly vulnerable and deeply loved anyway
That might be the only redeeming piece of this stupid, fucked up story - that what it all boils to in the end is that all of us, women and men, alike -- all the Anastasia Steeles and Christian Greys of the world -- we all share in one great fear and one great need; to be known
We are all longing for someone we perceive as valuable to look at us and say, “I see something amazing in you and I find it irresistible.”
It's almost as if we were Created to be loved and cherished, and we're all dying to find our worth... but if the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon is any indication, we're looking for it in all the wrong places.


Jamie The Very Worst Missionary - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 19:19
The story got everyone talking and the sex scenes got everyone tingling, and then, to the horror of English lit majors and book publishers everywhere, E.L. James lusty novel, 50 Shades of Grey, spread across the nation like a literary strain of herpes.
I read the whole book. I sat through the whole movie. I survived the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon and lived to tell about it... So that's what I'm doing.
I don't even want to talk about how truly, exceptionally, remarkably bad the writing is, so I'll only say this; The writing is the worst! At this point, it's pretty much universally accepted that 50 Shades of Grey does not owe its popularity to prose. If you need an example of why, google it. Or you can just trust me when I say that, as far as books go, this is a really shitty one.
For those who are completely unfamiliar with 50 Shades of Grey, perhaps because you're lucky enough to have been in a coma or lost in the woods for the past year or so, the story goes like this:
Anastasia Steele is a socially awkward, clumsy, nerd-virgin who has no idea how super-duper hot she is under her frumpy cardigan sweater and messy ponytail. But when Christian Grey (the youngest, hottest billionaire in all the land) meets her, he instantly sees her naughty sex-kitten potential, and then she bites her lip and it's all over - he's smitten. He must have her! And by “have” I mean “own”. So he buys her.Sort of.
Anastasia is smart and educated, and she isn't really sure she wants to be bought, so whenever he spends tons of money on her she tells herself that she will give his extravagant gifts back eventually. That way it's more like a loan, or a rental agreement, and she feels much better about receiving costly gifts of books and clothes and computers and cars. SHE'S NOT GOING TO KEEP THEM, YOU GUYS. Anastasia Steel is a strong, independent woman and she will not be bought! So there.
Then there's this boring part where Christian starts to feel bad because he knows what he wants to do to Ana (which is tie her up and flog her) and so he pushes Anna away because he doesn't want to hurt her. I mean, he does, but he's a gentleman. He wants to take care of her. So for a minute he just, y'know, watches her and looks after her and protects her and stuff. Like a big stalkerbrother.
Some more things happen, I don't remember what, until finally Christian Grey is so deeply attracted to this unusual girl, so utterly enthralled by her natural beauty, so taken by her charm, SO TOTALLY TURNED ON BY THIS LIP BITING MINX HE CANNOT WAIT ANOTHER MINUTE TO BE WITH HER...so he has his lawyer draw up a non-disclosure for her to sign and return. Which she does.
So now they're like almostin a relationship. SQUEEEEE!!!
But wait! Christian has more paperwork for her to sign before he can “date” her, because romance. And also because it turns out this gorgeous, wealthy, hunk of man-candy comes with a liiiiiitle bit of baggage she needs to know about. He reveals his secret fetish to Anastasia by showing her his “play room” full of whips and chains and sex contraptions, and he explains that he likes women who like it rough. The rougher the better - but only as long as everyone is having a good time.
Cool? Cool.
But wait! Anastasia has a little secret of her own. Because, even though they've known each other for like two whole weeks, she's failed to mention that she's still a virgin. So when Christian tries to talk to her about sex and stuff, she bites her lip and admits that she's never, y' know, done itbefore. *womp womp* But Christian really likes this girl, so he's not about to let the inconvenience of an intact hymen get in the way of the possibility of their future mutually agreed upon relationship terms. So, like a true gentleman, he takes care of business, and Ana's first time is a festival of orgasms.
In fact, her very first sexual experience is so awesome - and not at all awkward or fumbly or goopy – she is like, “WAIT. IS THAT WHAT SEX IS LIKE?!?! I WANT MORE!!! GIMME GIMME GIMME!!!”
And he's like “Whoa girl, there's more where that came from. All you have to do is sign on the dotted line.”
By this time, you've got the idea that Christian Gray has some kind of weird sexual preferences, but he is pleasantly surprised by how much he liked having non-weird sex with Anastasia, just this once. He thinks her potential for weird sex is so great, he practically gets down on one knee to ask her to be his submissive sex partner. He tells her how he wants to dominate her in his play room, and he gives Anastasia a big, fat contract and a brand new laptop and tells her to do some research into the whole dominant/submissive thing. Which she does, cause she's cool like that.
At this point Ana is starting to think she mightbe seeing some red flags, like,everywhere. But Christian is super hot. And super rich. So she decides to think about it. While she thinks about it, they are cute with each other via email and text.
He is just dying for her to say yes to his proposal, and when it's time for her to make the big decision, she's basically like, “Alright, fine, I'll be your submissive. But no fisting.” And Christian decides he can live without fisting, so it's all good. UGH, SO ROMANTIC!So she signs a contract agreeing that he can tell her what to eat, what to wear, how often to exercise, and when and where to sleep. Among other things, she also agrees not to touch him or look him in the eye during sex and not to disobey him in any way. Plus, she agrees to being spanked as a form of punishment if she breaks any of his rules. Oh! And she agrees to wait for him naked, on her knees, head down, with her hair in a braid whenever she is beckoned to the boom-boom play room.
At first, she's kinda freaked out. But then she gets spanked for rolling her eyes and afterward Christian rubs her butt with lotion, and he is so sweet and tender toward her sore, beaten ass, she can't help but swoon a little. In the playroom, some whipping and flogging happens, but he is mostly gentle and kind as he grooms her to be more to his liking. They take it slow and much to her surprise, Anastasia finds out she's kind of into it. Like, it actually feels kinda good.
Many more orgasms occur. So many that you start to think Christian Grey is just a show off. 
Wait. What?!Between orgasms we learn things about this mysterious, bondage loving, philanthropist. Dark things. Things that make us go, “OOoooOOhhh, that makes sense!”
We find out the smokin' hot, gazillionaire was a crack-baby, tortured and starved in early childhood, rescued by rich people after he is severely traumatized by his birth mother's gruesome death, then sexually abused as a teenager by his adoptive Mom's BFF, who he swears is not a child molester, just a “really good friend”.
Naturally, Anastasia is like, “Oh my!” And she needs a little space to process all that's happened, so she flies out to visit her Mom on the East Coast and take a little break. Like 5 minutes later, Christian shows up. Because he cares about her! NOT because he is obsessed, or controlling, or creepy. IT'S ROMANTIC, YOU GUYS! The whole time, Anastasia is confused by her feelings, because she doesn't really like being stalked and controlled, and she can plainly see that this guy is like super fucked up, but she loves himand she wants to help him get better and she thinks that maybe if she just hangs in there, eventually he might let her touch him during sex. Or make eye contact.
Love is SO confusing!
Am I hot, or am I a dork?!
I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANY MORE!!!All these big feelings make her bite her lip. A lot.
When they get back to his rich people apartment, something I can't remember happens, and they get into a heated argument and Anastasia tells Christian to spank her as hard as he wants, so he does, and afterward he tries to rub some lotion on her butt to help her feel better, but she will not have it. Girl is PISSED. Then she's all, ''I don't think I can do this.” And she gives him all his expensive gifts back (thereby ending her unwritten rental agreement) and she leaves.
She never wants to see Christian Grey again! But, also, she wants to marry him. She wants to slap him! But she also wants to kiss him. She definitely doesn't want him to slap her with anything ever again! Except maybe a little. Mostly, she just wants to forget she ever met him... and slept with him... and let him strip her, tie her to a bed, and drool champagne into her mouth, baby-bird style. (Because that happened.)
The end.

Good grief. 
I have so many thoughts about 50 Shades of Grey, I don't even know where to begin...  

New Years in Nambacola Part I: Getting Ready

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:23
I promise 175% that this will not be a 17 part blog like the Container Conundrum! But, there were so many pictures and so many pieces to our time in Nambacola (and only so long to write before...
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