28 December 2006
23 December 2006
1) When I was six or so, my cousin chucked a plastic toy block at my head and knocked the corner off my left front tooth. We tried to repair it a couple of times when I was a kid, and the fake bit fell off both times, so I gave up.
2) I love to travel, but I've never set foot a different continent than the one I was born on. I've been to both Canada and Mexico a few times each.
3) I'm quite literally a bastard - my mom never married my biological father. However, my dad (who adopted me when I was five) and my biological father are both 100% Irish, so I'm 50% Irish no matter how you slice it. Which is why I try very hard not to hear my new nickname ("Mick") as an ethnic slur. ;-)
4) Tina and I have known each other since we started going to the same school in the 8th grade. However, we didn't start dating until we were freshmen in college.
5) I have a phobia about driving over suspension bridges. It's a really bad idea for me to atempt to do that. Freaks me out big time.
So, there you go. BrickDude, GoldenGirl, StaplerGuy, PassageChick, and BoredSeminarian: tag, you're it.
10 December 2006
09 December 2006
I will say this: I think Webb's got it right, pretty much. You?
A waitress, who was really moved by both the concert and our mission presentation at the bar, spent a long time talking with my wife and me. She is in her mid 20’s, I’d say, and she knows she has made some bad decisions with her life. Looking for help from God to get her act together, she began attending her mother’s church until the pastor told her that she wasn’t welcome unless she left her live-in boyfriend and stopped living in sin.
She told me that she really didn’t want to live with him, knew it was wrong and that it was also a bad example for her son. But, she said that she saw no way that she could make ends meet for the two of them without his help. She is trying to better herself and is taking classes at the local university in addition to waitressing. She thought that she could go to church where she could learn how to find a relationship with God and learn how to follow him and hopefully find a way out of her situation, but instead she was now both bitter and distraught over what happened with the preacher incident.
But, what we are doing in building this mission to the Ukrainian kids really got her attention and showed her a side to faith she hadn’t experienced in her mom’s church. Immediately, she wanted to help in any way she could. She told us she felt like she could jump on a plane with us and head for Ukraine were it not for her son. I explained that he could go too, as it would be good experience for him, although a bit young. We organize short term family mission trips, where the families temporarily adopt kids from the orphanage to stay with them and interact with them while they are there. It helps the orphans immensely and is life-changing for the entire family.
Anyway, I explained the unconditional love, grace and forgiveness of Jesus to the waitress and she began fighting back the tears. You could see the burden lifted as she began to grasp the idea of a God who would accept her at face value. She is looking forward to talking more with us.
But, here is what I see, and this is the kind of thing I experience all the time in evangelism:
1. This girl didn’t need anyone to tell here what was wrong with her; she already knew.
2. What she needed to know was that if she waited until she ‘got it right’ that she would never measure up, and that God just wanted her to give her heart to him despite how messed up her life was.
3. What she went to church to find, she was refused because some judgmental goof ball was unwilling to extend the same kind of grace to her that God extended to him when he got saved. I run in to this ALL the time and it is one of the biggest reasons, I believe, that people find religion offensive.
4. If this girl becomes involved with us in our mission, whether here or in Ukraine doesn’t really matter, her focus will change from inward to outward. She will grow more concerned with meeting the needs of others and will find true fulfillment in that, just as we all do. In the process, the sins that hold her captive will begin to diminish their hold on her because she now finds something much more worthwhile to live for.
We don’t spend a lot of time in discipleship training because we find that if we believe in someone, they begin to believe in themselves and they begin making the changes necessary in their lives as the Holy Spirit convicts. In the end, we have true missional disciples, not proud self-righteous Bible scholars who may appear religious but have little or no compassion or passion for those who are perishing. Of course, we believe this is true discipleship as well as the kind of obedience which pleases God.
All we really need to do is to go into all the world and live out the Gospel in their midst and God will take care of the rest.
03 December 2006
Instead, for now, I'm taking it an another direction - but one I didn't anticipate when I began writing the first post. It's also not a line of reflection with which I'm entirely comfortable, because it may make others uncomfortable, or even angry. But that's not until the next post. :-) For now, I'm just going to answer the question I ended with last time:
[I]s it an Acts-like Christian community if you just spend all your time with your fellow disciples? What about inviting, welcoming, and making room for the stranger, the unknown neighbor, the person in need? Is that important too?
Um...yes. It's pretty much the essence of the gospel, in my opinion. There's nothing more important for a Christian community than to do this. Without a primary emphasis on these missional relationships with the "other", there is, in my opinion, no Christian community. That was an easy one. Next question?
Next question is harder. I'm claiming that two key activities of a healthy Christian community are a) spending time with fellow Jesus-followers in your community, building mutual understanding, trust, and love, encouraging each other toward maturity, etc., and b) spending time with those currently outside the community, especially those in need, blessing and serving them. Those aren't in priority order; in my opinion, both are essential, and neither ought to be compromised. So my next, potentially uncomfortable question is this: what do the committed disciples in most churches actually spend their time doing?