Monthly Archives: February 2011

Until Justice & Peace Embrace

Posted from my smartphone with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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recession or reality

I was having lunch with a learned friend yesterday and we were speaking about life in the ‘ville and America in general… I said something like this, ‘the recession is over, what we have is a new reality.’ That is a troublesome statement for a lot of people.

This morning I opened The Atlantic to two pages of charts… take a look… I think Lavin supports my assertion. Yesterday, as I watched the news, I was struck by the discussion on the 2012 USA budget – WATCH HERE… I tweeted “Recession’s over; what’s left is the reality. It’s time 4 ingenuity & hard work 2 build USA to 2 better reality: reduce deficit & debt now.”

When I look at the national debt and the continuing deficits and consider the long term cost, I am glad my hope is in God not in Washington D.C..

I feel bad for those whose trust and dependence is on their entitlement programs and whose hope for the future is in the government.

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in all things, give thanks

Do you believe this important Pauline teaching?

I continue to see how important it is to give thanks in all things.

I just wrote to a friend telling him that the “provisional acceptance” that I thought I had in a doctoral program is, it seems, far more provisional that I realized. But, since I invested sixteen years in the academy and learned about academic credentials and accrediting and so forth, and the importance of each of those concepts to individuals and institutions, when I learned that I am not as “provisionally accepted” as I once thought, I understood.

A friend recently said that we live in a world of credentials. If you’ve been following this story, you know that this possibility of doctoral study is not something that I went seeking. I was urged to pursue this and, to me, my wife and my advisors, it made a great deal of sense. Still does, and I have not actually given up on the possibility, and will continue to pray (and read). But I am reminded that life is about following Him and learning lessons.

When we are faced with news or experiences that are not exactly what we wished, we should step back and take a bigger view.  Indeed, it is incumbent upon us to seek God’s view. This takes a view that God is sovereign. A couple of hours ago, my board chair who was writing a letter toward this effort asked if this were going to happen, I said that I’ll believe it when I see it on paper. I am a not an optimist, but instead, am a realist who believes in possibilities, possibilities that God uses to change lives. I actually believe in this possibility and boldly ask you to pray and ask God to make that thing happen that is best for me, my family and my work in the Kingdom.

But, let’s practice the God view thing, looking away from the possibility in future and into the here and now, I must stand back and look at what I can be thankful for – now. Here is what I wrote a friend: “…But, a bit of disappointment aside, I am… …encouraged in several ways. I’m very glad for having gotten back into a disciplined study mode. Why, just in the last seven days of speaking with our partners on Skype and in person, I have been integrating material from the reading [750 pages that I’ve finished so far]. So, to renew one’s vigor for study is a discipline that God will use to bless both me and CEO. The other unexpected blessing is that the need to set 2-3 hours a day aside in the (earlier) morning for study has made me become a better manager of my time and has actually made me more productive in my day. The reading and the better time management have been a blessing to me… …Perhaps it is not God’s desire for me to be in this program, but He has already used this process to sharpen my ministry, for that I am grateful.  I am not quite ready to give up praying and working – indeed I think Mueller comes into play here: “pray like its all up to God and work like its all up to you.”

So, the lesson that I am reminded of today is that I am learning how to practice this urging of Paul: “in all things, give thanks.”

Oh, as I noted above, I have not quite given up. So please ask God to do that which is the best for us and if that is that I am granted admission on paper, thanks be to God! and if not, thanks be to God!

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Magnify Your Vision for the Small Church

By John Rowell… This is a story of a small(ish) group of believers who fearlessly walk through doors that others would not. God used this church to bring the Gospel to a needy place. Written in 1996 and published in 1998, the book then becomes a philosophy for and textbook of small church missions. Rowell challenges a great deal of  traditional thinking and methodologies in missions. He uses his own ministry and its successes in outreach anecdotally not only to illustrate but then to become the basis for “Synergistic Missions.” In the appendix to the book are found copies of agreements, strategies and plans for what one contributor in the appendix calls a paradigm shift. This work seems to be the publication of the author’s doctoral dissertation. It has been successful in its distribution since the copy I have is a second printing, done in 1999. The two biggest values to me were the story of ministry and the wealth of Scripture . The challenge I had was at times his passion came off as pretension. But this is the risk one runs when he believes that what he is putting forth is from God. In that case, it is better to risk pretension than shortchange the passion. Below are citations that I found helpful to my thinking.

“Jesus proved by feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two fish that it is not the size of our resource pool, but the limits of our faith and our vision that determines our impact for the Kingdom of God.” (p. 13)

Here is how this church identified a thoughtful strategy to adopt an unreached people group:

1. Select a people group for adoption

2. Organizing prayer for the people groups selected

3. Conducting research

4. Networking

5. Church Planting (p. 42)

“More opportunities to advance the gospel around the world have been lost in our lifetime due to caution than for any other reason. America;s missionaries are often hindered because they move too carefully and too slowly.” (p. 61  a quote from a missionary in Russia)

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Exclusion and Embrace

By Miroslav Volf

without repentance and forgiveness… “both victim and perpetrator are imprisoned in the automatism of mutual exclusion, unable to forgive or repent and united in a perverse communion of mutual hate.” (p. 120)

“…forgiveness provides a framework in which the quest for properly understood justice can be fruitfully pursued.” (p. 123)

“For the followers of the crucified Messiah, the main message of the imprecatory Psalms is this: rage belongs before God.” (p.124)

“Forgiveness is the boundary between exclusion and embrace.” (p. 125)

 

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Answered Prayers – updated

1. Joanna is on the mend, got her new cast, may even go back to her classroom sooner than once thought… God is good. Thank Him, would you?

2. God has seen fit to allow the powers that be to give me a provisional acceptance to the doctoral program that we’ve been praying about. There are still a number of details to be worked out, but I have been given the verbal green light which includes this instruction: “Read, read, read!” The syllabus includes a list of books and articles that, at present, is just under 4,500 pages of reading that is to be completed by early May. Whew. There is a two week residency requirement each year, this year the residency is in Eastern Europe (get it?). We figure there is just enough time to get this done. So, we are pushing ahead. I am trusting God for the time and energy to do the reading and writing and for funding. I told my friend that if God opens the door he will provide the time, energy and the money. God is always faithful. Please pray for the details to be worked out: final approval, the books read, the papers written and for God to teach me many things through this program. It is our belief that this is a needed step in our ministry, so we follow Him. I am reminded of a recent Tweet: “passion begins a thing, discipline finishes it.” Prayer for discipline is needed. Thank you for your prayers.

Here on Kingdomtravelin.com, you will be seeing postings from the reading. In fact, I think the blog will become the repository of quotes from the books so as to provide me with a ready resource for the writing that will come.

Thanks for your prayers.

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‘In Quest of the Father of Mission Studies’

This is an article by Andrew F. Walls in ‘International Bulletin of Missionary Research’… I am blown away by the ideas herein. Many years ago, in a missions class at Liberty taught by my second missions mentor, Larry Haag, I learned the word contextualization. In this article, Walls certainly does give us great fodder for how we must understand our culture in order to contextualize the Gospel into our culture.  Some sample from that article are…

What was God doing in the Greek world over all those centuries when he was preparing Israel for the coming of the Christ?This is not Paul’s question; for Paul, the Jewish missionary,the astonishing revelation was that the Gentiles were to havesuch a significant place in God’s salvation; it was the present andfuture, rather than the past, that gripped him.” But Justin and hiscontemporaries have to deal with the past. The Greek worldviewand its intellectual foundations were too comprehensive to beignored; they had to be converted. And so the second-century generation of convert apologists develop principles for the cri­tique of this Hellenic inheritance. Justin, still wearing the philosopher’s short cloak that was the contemporary equivalentof the academic gown, introduced the Christian-and especiallythe prophetic-Scriptures into Greek intellectual discourse as asourcebook of comparable, even superior, antiquity to that of theGreek literary tradition. All the time he is wrestling with theconvert’s question-how to turn an existing way of thought andlife toward Christ, how to critique the heritage, affirming, deny­ing, discriminating. (P.100)

Origen was the first, says Gregory, to incline him to philosophize-by his wordscertainly, but also by his actions. Christian theology was anno­tated, as it were, by Greek writers-“So that we were taught tocollate with all our powers all the writings of the ancients,whether philosophers or poets, rejecting nothing because we hadnot the necessary discrimination.” They should not, in fact, rejectout of hand any school of philosophy or any body of learning,Greek or barbarian, but bring them into critical relationship withthe body of Christian theology until they form a commentary onit, not a substitute for it. (p.102)

For Plato, as for the young Justin, the end of the philosophic questwas the vision of God. For Origen, the philosophic quest is thepreparation for the Christian life. In this and many other respectshe is most Greek when he is most Christian, and most Christianwhen he is most Greek. (p.102)

Still more striking is a passage in his letter to Gregory Thaumaturgus, where he connects the construction of the taber­nacle in the wilderness with the spoiling of the Egyptians. Thegold cherubim that indicated the holy presence were made fromEgyptian gold as were the pot that held the manna and the othervessels used in worship; and the curtains of the tabernacle weremade from Egyptian cloth. Materials that were being misused inthe heathen world were thus used, thanks to the wisdom of God,for the worship and glorification of God. The work to which heurges Gregory is to put Greek learning to the same sacred use. (p.104)

Egyptian gold and Greekmaterials are to be used for the glorification of God, but it isnecessary to watch out lest idols be manufactured in the process.For this reason Origen urged on Christians, learned and un­learned, the duty of discrimination and sought to provide themwith tools for the purpose. (p. 104)

There isno merit in unreflective attachment to opinions. For Origen, onlythe Word, the Logos, deserved unconditional attachment. (p.104)

Walls, Andrew, “In Quest of the Father of Mission Studies” (IBMR, vol. 23, #3, July, 1999).

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