Archive for October, 2008
I want to thank InterVarsity Press for the courtesy copy of Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary A. Haugen for review.
Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian
Gary A. Haugen
InterVarsity Press, June 2008
I think every Christian at one time or another is forced to ask, “Shouldn’t there be more to this Christian life?” Gary A. Haugen describes this another way, “Indeed, there comes a time in the life of every believer…where a voice inside us simply asks, Now what?” Mr. Haugen describes this phenomenon as “a voice of divine restlessness,” “a voice of sacred discontent,” and “a voice of a holy yearning for more.”
For anyone who has ever felt that “divine restlessness,” and, in particular, for those who presently have that feeling of “sacred discontent,” Just Courage might just be the holy kick in the church-pew-softened backside you need.
Haugen begins his book by recounting a relatable childhood memory about a trip to Mount Rainier with his father and older brothers. In short, Haugen laments letting fear and anxiety prevent his climbing to Camp Muir (the base camp used by summit climbers) with his father and siblings. Haugen spent the rest of the day in the visitor’s center waiting for his family to return. His father and brother had an unforgettable day and stories to tell, he did not. Haugen says he went on the trip but missed the adventure.
Haugen likens the regret of missing that adventure to the “divine restlessness” felt by many Christians. Haugen’s answer for satisfying this “voice of sacred discontent” is responding to the call of God in the struggle for justice. The justice to which Haugen is referring is not the typical 90-day sentences meted out by judges and juries to misdemeanants, but rather the international war against forced sex trafficking and slavery. Haugen maintains that the root cause of much of the suffering he and his organization encounters is violence.
Gary A. Haugen is the president and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), a human rights organization dedicated to securing justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of oppression. Haugen notes that the body of Christ has been mobilized to address many of the symptoms (hunger, homelessness, sickness, etc.), but that the root cause is the less-familiar problem of violence. An issue the body of Christ has yet to address.
Haugen provides riveting examples of how the IJM lawyers, investigators and human rights workers battle this international problem. One of the many examples worth noting is that of Sean Linton, a lawyer at an elite national law firm who decided to test a divine paradox, “the hypothesis according to Jesus,” that you find your life when you lose it. Linton left his life as a high-powered lawyer to work for IJM. Linton, who opened IJM’s first office in the Philippines, “thought, If I can rescue one child from the unspeakable horror of forced prostitution, it would outweigh any sacrifice I could possibly make.” Linton said, “It was like math…No emotion. I did not have the faith to believe that God could somehow provide for me and that I might even find joy in it. No, I just expected to be lonely and to suffer. But I signed on to try and save that one child.”
Linton noted the four things holding him back: 1) comfort, 2) security, 3) control, and 4) success. Haugen writes, as “Jesus said, ‘If you lose your life for my sake, you will find it.’” In return, Linton got 1) adventure, 2) faith, 3) miracles, and 4) deep knowledge of Jesus. “Who among us wouldn’t want these?” Haugen asks.
In contrast to the many other reports of international injustices, Haugen goes beyond reporting on the problem and offers practical advice for the reader who wants to get involved. Just a few of the practical ways anyone can get involved:
- Sending a text or an email to get people involved.
- Obtaining a IJM Mission Training DVD to assist churches and short-term missions teams in identifying injustices.
- Becoming a IJM prayer partner.
- Partnering financially with IJM.
- Engaging Congressional Representatives on justice issues.
- Join IJM’s church mobilization staff for worldwide field offices.
Just Courage is undoubtedly one of the most thought-provoking books I have read in years. More than just thought provoking, Just Courage is faith-provoking, action-provoking, and provoking in general. I strongly encourage anyone called to the mission or justice fields to read this book. For those who aren’t called into those fields, Just Courage might stir another calling or prompt you help others who are so called.
People who should definitely read this book:
- Pastors, missionaries and missions team leaders;
- High school and college students who are internationally or missions minded;
- Law and criminal justice students and professionals and law enforcement officers;
- Sociological, psychological, and social work students and professionals;
- Educators of any kind; and
- Anyone who is bored.
The book is a quick read, approximately 150 pages, only 130 or so of which are the book’s text. The remaining pages are the appendices and acknowledgments.
If there is a criticism I have, and I’m not entirely sure that I do, but if I do it is the focus of the book. Not the subject matter, but the scope. “Justice” as a subject is highly appealing to me (as a lawyer), but others may be less attracted. I think Haugen appropriately addresses this foreseeable objection by providing a variety of methods and opportunities to get involved short of being thrust into the brothels and sweat shops of some foreign and unfamiliar land.
I not only encourage everyone to read Just Courage, but to support and participate in the International Justice Mission’s mission:
I want to thank my good friend Wes Latham, author of Wes’ Blog and worship leader for Believer’s Chapel, in the thriving metropolis of Munday, Texas for alerting me to another ESV Study Bible Giveaway.
Abraham Piper at 22 Words is giving away a burgundy leather ESV Study Bible to his subscribers, new or old. All you have to do is subscribe, let him know you are a subscriber by email, and he will draw a winner this Saturday.
If you are interested, just click on the link above and follow the instructions. There are no additional obligations, and you will be justly rewarded, whether you win or not, by reading 22 Words.
You know that I will always let you know whether I myself will participate, and I have just sent my email off alerting Mr. Piper that I am a subscriber.
Here is some more really cool Bible stuff. If you spend very much time at all searching Bible stuff online, you probably already know about these, but, if not, enjoy.
Codex Sinaiticus – A fourth century Greek Christian Bible with a complete New Testament. The Codex Sinaiticus Project is an effort to digitize the entire Codex and make it viewable online. The website which was recently launched has several complete books of the Bible already available for viewing and is scheduled to have the entire Bible online by July 2009.
Hebrew for Christians – Just about everything you needed to know about the Hebrew language.
AmazingBible.org – An interesting site which treats virtually every major issue in Christianity. It is essentially one large index of Christian doctrine and theology. The site is the product of a Baptist person or organization, although I haven’t figured out who or what specifically, so file that info away for what it’s worth. Candidly, my wife and I were members of a spirit-filled Baptist Church for a while, although we attend a non-denominational church now, and I have no idea whether or not I endorse everything in the site because there’s simply so much information I haven’t even come close to seeing it all.
Biblioblogs.com – A fairly thorough list of biblioblogs, so if you are a regular reader of this or other Bible blogs and you just can’t get enough, check out Biblioblogs.com and discover other great Bible blogs.
Previous Cool Bible Stuff Posts:
I have spent the last few weeks in Genesis 11 reading about what might have been one of the greatest construction projects in world history. Out of the blue one day I was overwhelmed with the need to go back (or forward – since most of my time is spent in Genesis 1) to the account of Babel.
I wasn’t really sure what I would find or even whether there was anything new to be found in this familiar account. As always, there is some pretty great stuff there, there is some pretty challenging stuff, and then there is just some stuff that needs to be worked out theologically. So, who knows where this is going.
Also, this will have to be a series because I have absolutely no idea when or how it will all play out, and it probably won’t be continuous – for those that know me, you know that Part XII may appear some time next year. For now, this first post is just a quick look at the ancient Hebrew pictographs that make up the word “Babel.”
In Hebrew, Babel is spelled BET, BET, LAMED. The Hebrew letter BET is the equivalent of our letter B, and it is pictured in the ancient Hebrew pictographs as a house or a tent. The letter BET also symbolically represents a house or lineage, as in “the house of David.” The letter LAMED is the equivalent of our letter L, and is pictured as a shepherd’s staff or ox goad. LAMED symbolically means to shepherd, lead, teach and/or prod.
What does that give us? Something quite remarkable really. The story of the Tower of Babel is of a unified, homogeneous group, perhaps an extremely large family, the descendants of Noah, sharing one language and coming together for one purpose: to make a name for themselves by building a great city with a tower that reached to the heavens. God puts a halt to this by confusing their language and scattering the people, presumably into different tribes or people groups with different languages (one “house” being transformed into multiple “houses”). So, the picture painted by Babel is of God, the great shepherd, taking His staff and scattering His flock into different families or houses over the earth.
Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. Gen. 11:9.
More of the theological stuff later, but, for now, yet one more example of the divine nature of the language of God.
So, to help me remember stuff and find it (because my bookmark files are about as cluttered as the web), and because I always want to share the cool stuff I can no longer find, I’m creating a new category (“Cool Stuff”) for random cool (Bible-related) stuff.
Here’s some pretty cool stuff occupying my “Temp Blog Stuff” bookmark folder:
Eleven Ways to Care for Your New Bible – Rick Mansfield’s tips o’ the trade, with some surprising info, like Bible covers are bad for leather Bibles. I don’t use Bible covers, but I know a lot of people who do, and they need to check this out.
Preserve the Word – Give your Bible a makeover.
A (Bible) Reader’s Manifesto – Bible readers of the world, UNITE! 2 thumbs, 5 stars, 10/10, whatever. I agree.
What a Beginning – A remarkable treatment of the mathematics of Genesis 1:1. Oh, to be a mathematician.
It’s a compelling question, and one that has stuck with me for about a month now. I meant to tackle this question three weeks ago, but I have been swamped lately, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Here was my initial reaction to his post (copied directly from the comment I left):
I just learned about two ESV Study Bible Giveaways from the ESV Study Bible Blog, and you have a chance to win one (or possibly 2, I guess) of 15 ESV Study Bibles. Both contests are free with no additional obligations for winning.
The first is sponsored by Focus on the Family at Boundless.org and is entitled The Boundless Tell Us Why You Want the ESV Study Bible Contest. The contest is as simple as that: you send an email telling Boundless why you want an ESV Study Bible and a winner will be selected each day for ten days. The most convincing entry for each day will win. Send you emails to firstname.lastname@example.org with “ESV Contest Entry” in the subject line. The Boundless contest begins on October 6, 2008, and ends October 17, 2008. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. on October 17, 2008. The official contest rules are available here. Winners will receive one of ten non-calfskin ESV Study Bibles valued at up to $94.99.
The second is by Monergism Books at Monergism.com entitled ESV Study Bible Giveaway. To enter, send an email to email@example.com (note: “edit” not “editor”) with your 1) Name, 2) email, 3) whether you want to opt in or opt out of the weekly Monergism Newsletter, and 4) how you learned about Monergism.com and what you like/don’t like about the site. The giveaway ends October 16, 2008 at midnight and winners will be announced October 17, 2008. Five winners will be chosen randomly, and you are limited to one entry per person. Winners will receive one of five black, genuine leather (non-calfskin) ESV Study Bibles.
I have already entered the Monergism ESV Study Bible Giveaway, and I will be entering The Boundless Tell Us Why You Want the ESV Study Bible Contest as soon as I develop my most convincing reason.
Other ESV Links: