Jeff Iorg Blog
The Ayu Challenge
Aug 25 2015
A few days ago, I received an email that almost didn’t get opened. I receive so much email that unless it is clearly personal to me, it just doesn’t get read. There’s just too much to handle it any other way.
But something about the subject line piqued my interest. The email was from a girl named Ayu (whose father has a connection to our school). She wrote a beautiful email telling me about her plan to help people memorize more Scripture. It includes one or more verses for each letter of the alphabet, complete with YouTube videos she has made to reinforce the memorization for people who struggle with this discipline.
Her email touched a nerve with me. I was preaching on Scripture memory as part of my sermon the following Sunday. I remember when memorizing the Bible was more of a priority. I was even part of a Scripture Memory Club that encouraged accountability and focused effort. It was a meaningful time in my life and I regret it ended.
Ayu has come a long way in her life from a pre-mature birth to a gifted reader and musician who loves God and wants others to know him. Her challenge and her program are more than cute – they are insightful and helpful. Ayu told me since seven is the biblical number for completion, she wants to find 7,000 people who will memorize Scripture with her plan.
Sounds like a good idea to me. So, with her parent’s permission, here is a link to her website - http://www.a-zscripturememory.com/. Look, if a nine year old can do it, so can you. If you have ever wanted to memorize more of the Bible (and would like to have some fun doing it), check it out.
Thanks Ayu for thinking of me and for including me in your project.
A Theology of Rape
Aug 18 2015
Here are the opening paragraphs from a story by Ruckmini Callimachi in the New York Times on August 13, 2015.
“In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the preteen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted.
He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her. When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.”
It’s hard to imagine a religion so twisted, perverted, and – in a word evil - that it would sanction rape as an expression of spiritual devotion. That is the nature of Islam as interpreted by ISIS leaders.
The same Times article reports more than 5,000 Yazidis have been captured by ISIS, with more than 3,000 still missing. They are the victims of an organized slave trade operation complete with warehouses, transportation systems, and auction sites. It is a despicable form of sexual persecution of an ethnic and religious minority almost too horrible to imagine.
It’s sometimes easy to forget why we are at war with terrorists around the world. Their sympathizers portray them as misunderstood victims of military aggression or societal injustice. They are neither. They are evil personified, operating under a thin veneer of religious sanctimony and therefore enjoying the political protection their supposedly free exercise of religion provides.
It puzzles me why every American – particularly every feminist - is not demanding the President use every military, economic, and political weapon available to crush this kind of oppression on women. President Obama, you have two daughters – beautiful young women for whom you have been a devoted father. Thank you for that example. Now, use every resource you have to stop the rampant rape of innocent women – who are all someone’s daughters – by ISIS terrorists and others like them who engage in any form of human trafficking!
While speaking for a leadership training event at a church near a military base, I shared a meal with a woman who described herself as a “navy wife.”
When I commented on how tough that life must be, she replied, “Not at all.
It’s a great life.
My husband is protecting America and stomping out evil around the world.
His family is his support team and we are proud to serve.”
She then detailed what that meant to her and her children – bringing tears to my eyes that she has stood strong for more than 20 years, helping her husband do this job by patriotically doing hers and teaching their children to shoulder the load.
Another man, in a similar situation, apologized to his girlfriend for time away to serve his country. She told him, “I don’t mind being second to the mission of protecting freedom.” Women, not just the men they love, care passionately about defending freedom and protecting the weak. It’s a privilege to know people like this who truly believe “the mission matters most.”
Reflecting on these women reminded me of the significant sacrifices and support ministry wives provide their husbands. When young women at our seminary hear the story of Ann moving with me to plant a church - with children ages 6 weeks, 2 years and 5 years – they often marvel that she did it. But I can also see in their eyes a steely determination. They are ready to do the same and more for their generation to hear the gospel as well.
When God calls us to serve others – whether in the military or ministry – the most important missions often come with the least recognition and remuneration. A man who responds to these callings and who has a wife who sacrificially stands with them experiences a special gift from God – the blessing of selfless partnership. Thank God for women and children who believe “the mission matters most” and free those of us called to ministry leadership to serve wholeheartedly. They are the unsung heroes, serving the mission and sacrificing in a thousand quiet ways.
Navy wife, ministry wife – lot’s of similarities and both a special blessing from God!
Aug 05 2015
The smokers need a better marketing team. Drinkers have it much better, in almost every way, in modern America. The contrast between how smokers and drinkers are treated is amusing to me, in an ironic sort of way.
Smokers are evil. They are prohibited from smoking in almost every public place and restricted to small alcoves or outside areas when smoking is permitted. They get the evil-eye from anyone who smells second hand smoke, pay a huge cleaning fee if they light up in a hotel room, and are constantly reminded of the health risks associated with their habit through prominent warning signs on all tobacco products.
Drinkers, on the other hand, are celebrated. They are encouraged to drink in public places – like restaurants and ballparks. People joke about how much fun alcohol produces, hotel rooms have mini-bars, and (except for pregnant women) almost no one is ever warned away from alcohol because of its significant health risks.
The social differences between smoking and drinking are interesting. One creates social pariahs; the other is a social lubricant. One is perceived to be an unhealthy, dirty habit; the other a necessary part of adulthood. It would be almost unheard of for a parent to teach a teenager to smoke, but some parents introduce their teens to alcohol to de-mystify it and supposedly encourage its moderate use. One can kill the user; the other makes the user a potential killer whenever they operate a vehicle.
Yet, despite these differences, the drinkers have the social high ground and are celebrated for their maturity and sophistication. This double-standard is a good example of how public opinion is shaped by media and marketing influences. Imagine how different our culture would be if alcohol advertising, as was tobacco advertising, had been outlawed in 1971.