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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Missionary Life

I’m not a foreign missionary, and I cannot imagine the difficulty of daily, independent ministry life in another country. So my interest is always piqued by personal accounts and realistic portrayals in case such is where God will later lead. Recently I read a post that touched upon some of these issues, including the issue of accountability that most missionaries are silent about, and maybe it may be of interest to you.

Excerpt:

The missionary life is, let’s face it, luxurious, unreal and a little bit scary. Now I don’t doubt that for some missionaries, the word “luxurious” may raise a few hackles. I know many of my brothers and sisters out there are having a really hard time. But at the same time, I imagine that most of them still have the freedom to decide their own schedules, to determine their own workload, and to prioritize spending time with people – rather than having to get up and do whatever someone else tells them, which is most of how their friends back home live.

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On Biblical Language

As a very short aside, I listened to a presentation on European missions this morning, and we prayed for our missionaries abroad.  The speaker passed out “prayer covenant” cards.

The idea of a covenant in the Old Testament in clear.  It is a serious, binding agreement in which at least one party commits on penalty of death (illustrated by the cutting of animals) to fulfill an obligation.  God, in wanting to assure his people, made a covenant (which was a form of agreement that they would recognize) and even initiated the ceremony.  He didn’t just give his word, though he could have.  Unfortunately we’ve lost some of the power of the words, and today many people see a covenant merely as a commitment.  We see marriages end tragically in divorce, and wonder what the pair were thinking when they had covenanted together before their family, friends, and the Lord.  There are endless examples of what I would call “Word abuse.”

What we need is not merely biblical language, but biblical understanding.

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A Lesson in Humility

I woke up late this morning.  I was supposed to be up at 6am for prayer and prep for an event, and instead woke up at the time of the event.  Sheepishly, I must admit that I didn’t want to go, that I would rather have missed it entirely than to arrive late.  Perhaps that is what a lot in our congregations feel about coming late to church.  Nevertheless, the encouragement of a friend propelled me out of the house and to the prayer breakfast.

Similarly, while at the breakfast there were some technical computer problems.  I wondered if I should help, since the presenter did not ask for assistance.  I’m not familiar with Vista, but as a past computer tech, I know it probably isn’t much different from what I do know.  If I offered, what if I were not help at all?  In the end, another person took care of it.

I didn’t realize until later, but there was a common theme between the two.  The fear of embarrassment which immobilizes us from helping or offering or doing fulfilling our responsibilities is powerful.  And though it is common, it must be addressed in our lives.  For me, it must stem from pride, not wanting others to think less of me, and preferring instead to avoid rather than risk and put myself out there.

I already knew that I would arrive late, and it shouldn’t have affected me that other people would know it too.

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Two Surprising Lessons

Tonight our fellowship had a workshop on the care of people with disabilities.  Among the different ideas offered was the advice to refrain from overusing the word “stop.”  Stop using the word stop!  The point was made largely in reference to instructing children, but the point has good theological grounding.  Just as we are commanded to “put off” the deeds of the flesh and to “put on” the deeds associated with the new birth, so too it is not enough just to go around telling people to stop.  As my professor says, “when is a liar no longer a liar?”  It isn’t when he stops lying; its when he tells the truth.  I take this as a very practical and important reminder that as Christians, especially interacting with culture, it is not enough to blow something out of the water but to suggest and encourage something in its place.

Secondly, I came to a realization regarding administration.  Our fellowship group started characteristically late, and ended late as well.  I’m always unsure of when to leave, because I want to stay to make sure everyone gets home safely, but often this means I leave at an obscene hour.  We often don’t start on time because the majority don’t show up on time.  But here’s the kicker: there is no incentive to show up on time if they believe we’re going to start late.  Rather, we need to just start at the appointed time and people will realize after arriving during song worship a few times that they need to come earlier if they want to be there for the beginning.

For both realizations, there is no reason to complain about our mistakes, but lots of glorious hope that we may continue to be refined and learn how to better minister to others.  And I apologize if these “realizations” begin to sound familiar after a while – it takes me a while before the ideas become habits.

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So now I’m trying to figure out how I got here – what was the chain of events that took me from being a reasonably abnormal church going, WOW Worship buying, bible-study leading church membership guy to, well, this deeply dissatisfied person who is very much on the outside looking in. Frankly, it began shortly after I started working at the Mission, when I began to experience God in profoundly personal ways amongst the homeless, the drunks and the drug addicts. It began when I started seeing a huge disconnect between what we did on Sunday morning – being all about God – and what I did on Monday morning, which was entirely of and through and in God. Looking back on it now, I realize that once I found God I almost immediately lost my interest in church, an equation that continues to puzzle me on many levels.

Today at the Mission is a blog that records daily life in a homeless shelter.  The above quote is from a post entitled Exile on Main Street, while below is quote from the post Truth and Beauty.  You may like the blog, and too be struck by the genuineness.

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I remember having a conversation a while back in which I offended someone, and then tried to explain why it was unreasonable that they were offended.  Let’s just say it didn’t fly.  That’s exactly what I thought of when I read the transcript of Ann Coulter on Donny Deutsch’s The Big Idea.  Well, read for yourself:

DEUTSCH: That there would be a bigger difference between the rich and the poor, a lot of other — tell me what — why this would be a better world? Let’s give you — I’m going to give you — say this is your show.

COULTER: Well, OK, take the Republican National Convention. People were happy. They’re Christian. They’re tolerant. They defend America, they —

DEUTSCH: Christian — so we should be Christian? It would be better if we were all Christian?

COULTER: Yes.

DEUTSCH: We should all be Christian?

COULTER: Yes. Would you like to come to church with me, Donny?

DEUTSCH: So I should not be a Jew, I should be a Christian, and this would be a better place?

COULTER: Well, you could be a practicing Jew, but you’re not.

DEUTSCH: I actually am. That’s not true. I really am. But — so we would be better if we were — if people — if there were no Jews, no Buddhists —

and later:

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Phil Johnson has what looks to be another thoughtful post, regardless if you agree completely with his convictions or not.  It is profitable to see such an exchange between him and Adrian Warnock on the topic of discernment and speech.  It begins like this:

The esteemed Dr. Warnock has made yet another post (plus a bonus follow-up comment)
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