Posts Tagged With: mission

Paul’s Reasons for Writting to Rome

Paul - Spain.001For Personal, theological, and for geographical reasons Paul writes to the church in Rome.

As I just said in a recent post, “Romans in not simply a theological book that Paul sought to write” but there were sociological reasons, perhaps political reasons. As we try to be aware of weather or not we are reading into Romans our perception of Paul’s theology we find that the book clearly addresses many things in the life of the church in Rome.

But I mean to highlight that Paul specifically in the beginning and ending of his book he speaks of 1) wanting to visit Rome, but 2) returning to Jerusalem from Macedonia region (likely Corinth) first, 3) finishing his work from Jerusalem to Illyricum and not wanting to build on others foundations, 4) wanting to finally come to Rome and get the churches help for further expansion west to Spain.

In other words one of Paul’s primary concerns outside of this specific group of believers in Rome is that he wants to see the ongoing mission of the church. He believes that since Jesus is in fact the Messiah then now is the time when Gods purposes for Israel are being realized when Gentiles believe and worship the God of Israel now revealed in the Messiah.

That said, if the church in Rome wants to be a part of this ongoing mission. Then they, a mixed group of Jews and Gentiles need to learn to get along. Paul speaks plainly in chapter 14 about not despising each other over issues of food and drink, or holy days. But before that Paul goes much deeper in chapters 1-11 as to what exactly they are to find their common ground in. Paul is careful not to shift the balance to far to one side which would lead towards anti-Semitic attitudes, or to attitudes of Jewish superiority.

This becomes more clear with just a simple knowledge of the timeline and historical events of the time. Paul is writing this letter in his third missionary journey 53-57 AD. He is near the end of it. At 54 AD Emperor Caligula died and his edict to ban Jews from Rome ended. The church that had once been Jewish and Gentile had become purely Gentile for a number of years, then the Jews came back. Not difficult then to image hostility towards the Jews from Gentile believers who do not feel the need to observe Jewish holidays and Jewish diet. The returned Jews may be causing some confusion. They may be narrowing the grace of God to yes embracing Jesus as Messiah but also doing the rest of the requirements in order to really be part of the Family of God. Gentiles are not only resisting this but perhaps getting into arguments and judgements directed towards those who historically rejected Jesus and depend on their traditions to much. They need some intervention and conflict resolution. Paul goes to the deepest possibly roots of this conflict. It is no wonder that this book has primarily been used to answer questions of how people get reconciled with God. Since there is a major emphasis on unity it is easy to narrow the discussion to unity between man and God. Really the roots of the problem presented here for the church in Rome goes then to the question of mans unity with God irrespective of their racial ethnicity. So it is not that Paul never talks about reconciliation with God but i would say the primary purposes of Paul in the letter and therefore the emphasis is on getting the church unified by the Faithfulness of God to his covenants.

Categories: Bible, Church, Context, Doctrine, Faith, Mission, New Testament, Romans | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How the OT helps develop the Meta-Narrative for the Coherent Mission of the Church

Metanarrative

So just in case we need another reminder of the purpose and need for the churches ongoing mission here it is. Also by way of introduction we consider the current world views of our western culture. Much of what people believe today is built what might be called a meta-narrative. This is a basically a story. A story that people have been telling for some time. A story that holds significance because it says something about reality and who we are and where we are going. A meta-narrative is a single story that encompasses all the diverse stories and makes them into one story. The Romans and Greeks were great at telling stories and reworking the stories of other peoples into their own larger and more excellent story about reality and destiny. For us the stories we find ourself wrapped up in might be the story of Human Progress. This is an enlightenment meta-narrative that sought to do away with God, and religion, and superstition, and free man so that progress could have its way and we have been on this track for some time now. Often you will here people speak of this anonymous progress or they will speak of religious people as hold it back.

Another common meta-narrative you might here of is the overarching idea that we are all headed towards a better modernization. That is that capitalism, globalization, and better economy will heal all the worlds ills. Countries are buying into this, it is a western idea. Certainly better economy is a good fruit of something going right in a nation. This meta-narrative clashed very hard with Marxism not many decades ago, and today it clashes hard with Islam. These in short are the two projects of world domination of our day. The western ideal and story of global economic progress. And Islam’s story culminating with the rise of radical militants who got everyone’s attention on September 11 2001. The opposing meta-narratives have never more clearly been at such odds then on this day on 2001. So what is the true Christian meta-narrative? We need to be asking that and re-familiarizing ourselves with it because of the onslaught of new ideas and old ideas pressing in on us and especially on the young or new generations. What story are they going to live by? What should be extremely obvious is that Christ is the central part of our story. The gospel assumes the finished work of Christ but also acts as a metonym for ‘the whole story’. So its clear that the churches mission is to get the story out so that people will meet Christ and receive their salvation. I want to focus in on the meta-narrative. In other words how do we tell many stories and still be telling one story.

I wish to submit very briefly an overview of an overview. In case the attention spans are lacking for you readers. I want you to get the meat of this in order to garnish your comments or questions.

There are three biblical thematic trajectories I want to point to.
1. Abraham and the trajectory of Blessing
2. Israel and the trajectory of Revelation
3. David/Zion and the trajectory of Rule

Each of these were singled out by God for a larger purpose. They are individual stories but they do not stay that way. Because the blessing on Abraham, was not just for him but to enable him and his offspring to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth.

Likewise, Gods revelation of himself was not merely for one nation Israel but by choosing one nation God would make a name for himself and reveal himself to the rest of the nations of the earth.
When God chose a people he also chose a place, and eventually he chose a representative from the tribe of Judah who would act as his deputy on earth. David became Israel’s second King and God made a covenant with him. David’s offspring would continue to serve as Gods representatives. Because they ended up failing at this role ‘messianic hope’ grew and the prophets began to speak of one like David, a son of God who would continue to establish Gods rule not only in Israel, on mount Zion but over the rest of the kings and nations of the earth.

So then we see that each time God singled out an individual, a nation, a place, it was for the purpose of extending that blessing, that revelation, that rule of God to the ends of the earth. Its like Gods little seed projects. Because God was seeking not to interfere with his own design of man, making him like himself, with his own will, God developed relationships with real, particular individuals with the universal scope in mind.

Therefore the “mission of the church” is more clearly understood when we identify what Gods mission has been since the beginning. That allows for the “mission of the church” to not just become what we want it to be, or to bend the goals based on what culture says and does. The OT is extremely useful for the church today because it is what makes the ‘mission of the church’ coherent and places it within the much large meta-narrative of Gods mission to redeem all to himself.

None of these roles Abe, Israel, David are strictly speaking missional. They are not sent out into the world to evangelize. But these three strands of the biblical story make the churches mission coherent with the rest of the biblical meta-narrative. They establish the movement from the particular to the universal. The churches mission echoes the ancient biblical vision to serve Gods mission of Redemption. When the world comes under the blessing, revelation, and rule of God.

Some lessons learned is that God singles people out for the sake of others. When God singles us out we end up on a mission and its purpose is the same as that of Abraham, Israel, David, and Zion. By that same toke we should image God singling out places where he rules for the sake of reaching new places and all places.

Comments and questions please. 🙂 Blessings

*** An Area of great credit goes to Richard Bauckham and his book “Bible and Mission”. I read it a few times on a recent trip and thoroughly enjoyed it. You will find many of the themes I have used in his book. I also recommend his other more impressive work “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”.

Categories: Bible, Church, Culture, Enlightenment, Modern, Old Testament, Society/Culture, sociology, Theology, Uncategorized, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Origins of Christian Tradition the Destiny of Christian Aspiration

For those seeking to affirm tradition need to be sure they are full acquainted with true Christian Tradition. For those seeking liberation from tradition the same aught to be required. Perhaps it is not liberation you seek but reformation to the basics of traditional Christian orthodoxy. For instance if you are looking at the church of 1400 AD you will see it littered with problems, and compromise. Most know this. However, you will also see an orthodox position for almost every issue in Christian belief. If you were outside of the orthodox position you were in danger of losing your place within the power structure of the Church of Rome.

But if you go back to the beginning you will find a more narrowed positive orthodoxy. Such as a the basics of Trinitarian theology. Early battles of the church against Gnostic Heretics were well worth the efforts to expel such teachings and if need be the teacher[s].

Original Church thought can be easily observed today on a number of free online sites. The Ante-Nicene Fathers works is public domain. If you read along in their letters to the church you will find two distinct features of the early churches accountability to a specific set of beliefs. Both features come under the same observation. By making note of each time men like Ignatius, Iraneaus, and Erasmus, quote the apostles. This constant observation emphasis two points; 1) The early apostles authority on matters of Christian Doctrine. 2) The ongoing use of the works of these apostles as inspired sacred text.

Thus, I suggest you begin with what is Holy Sacred and God Inspired. Begin with the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles. Then check out the stuff using this link.   http://www.studylight.org/his/ecf/ant.html

Perhaps However, you are not looking at 1400 AD, rather 2013 AD. Good luck attempting to grasp the problems in the church. At best its problems can be blanketed as apathetic, indistinguishable from society, exclusive, or irrelevant. Certainly these blanket statements are true of different parts of the body. But can not be true of all parts. Perhaps there is a common denominator in western Christianity. Each of these struggle with the same issue, how to respond to post-modern man. Do we immerse ourselves further into Christian orthodoxy, and hold the world at an arms length? Do we embrace the world void of any actual Christian position on morality, meaning, purpose or destiny? The issue is whether we believe truths in scripture to be relevant for today, or perhaps if we believe in truth at all. Perhaps we are apathetic, holding to the Christian Position, observing the sad state of affairs, daunted by the issues facing our generation and dumb.

Probably yes to one of those. Probably yes to at least understanding our struggle with these issues. So does the “Christian Position”, “Orthodoxy”, “WorldView” actually have something to offer post-modern man? The answer will not be complex. The issues are complex, the questions are complex. The answer is Jesus Christ. He will not disappear from History. As aptly summarized by Bruce Shelley;

“no other person in recorded history has influenced more people in as many conditions over so long a time as Jesus Christ. The shades and tones of his image seem to shift with the needs of men: the Jewish Messiah of the believing remnant, the Wisdom of the Greek apologist, the Cosmic King of the Imperial Church, the Heavenly Logos of the Orthodox Councils, the World Ruler of the papal courts, the monastic Model of the apostolic poverty, the personal savior of evangelical revivalists.”

Though his titles change, the truth of what he did and said has endured for all generations. The answer for the church today remains the same as it always has. Jesus Christ in us.

Deesis_Hagia_Sophia

Mosaic of Jesus Christ in Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey
Categories: Authority, Bible, Church, Doctrine, History, Modern, New Testament, Orthodox, Post-Modern, Society/Culture, Spiritual, Supernatural, Theology, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Desired Spiritual Temperature: Practical and Current Assessment of what is Spiritual

Socially and Historically there has always been those who desire an “intense” or “less intense” Faith. That does not mean for instance that say, Catholic Faith is less or more intense then Protestant Faith. But within Catholicism some adherents prefer a more intense faith full of self sacrifice, and service to those in need. Some prefer a more casual approach in their faith. That does not mean one is greater then the other so long as both maintain a genuine faith. It matters weather each adherent is faithful to Gods call, and committed to his work, submitted in obedience to God. The impact of the faith to the outside world will come by having these various degrees of intensity, so long as it is genuine.

Similarly, some who desire a very high level of spirituality in the protestant movement may not be content with any particular level of spirituality within his or her group. This has led to many fractions within the body of Christ. There is pushing and shoving from both sides, to be more of less content with higher or lower levels of spirituality, and for various reasons.

For our Community: Some may be content because they feel called by God to maintain a crucial role of say, Hospitality, as we have on all of our YWAM bases. Or maybe it is the role of accountant, or registrar. What then is most needed is a knowledge of the supernatural in what we do.

Because the attack comes not only on what some deem as ‘mundane’ but on the very thing God has called us (ywam sdb) to do. For instance, Is building homes supernatural/spiritual or just practical help for someone without a house? Is 20+ years of “doing the same thing” an act of God or an act of man? Should we be expecting something more? If so, how much more, and what? Do we expect mass conversions followed by mass DTS’s and the like? I will give some answers.

  1. The truth is “mass conversion” is a myth. Growth rates in the early church was about 2% by the year and over 250-300 years a 2% growth rate took over more then half of the total population of the Roman Empire. This illustrates that a “mass conversion/Revival” expectation is not realistic and not even needed. However, human pride says that, “a complete turn around must happen in my lifetime or it must never be going to happen.” We want the results now and we push others to have a more intense faith because we don’t recognize the necessity of a job that one might consider mundane and irrelevant to ‘the situation’.
  2. As well, 20+ years of YWAM San Diego Baja “doing the same thing” is to be praised not to glorify man, but to recognize the supernatural at work through human obedience, endurance, and commitment to the call of God. The supernatural reality of what just a few people in relationship to the all-mighty God can accomplish is breathtaking and awe-inspiring. If there is a need to push others into a more intense faith the language used aught to be that of; commitment, endurance, and obedience to the call of God on a life.

The work may ‘seem’ slow to some. It may seem ‘simplistic’ or even ‘non-spiritual’ to some. But those who have committed themselves year in and year out are to be praised for their Christ like devotion to serving the poor. Nothing has been more “heaven meets earth” then Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. And nothing says that the All-Powerful God of the Universe Loves you and has come to earth like, -when Christians make a sacrifice of their time (20+ Years) and resources (4,000+ Homes) to give hope in Jesus name.

Even in writing this I realize that I only know a fraction of the cost in dollars, actual blood, sweat, and tears. I hope for those reading that this brings to mind those moments of sacrifice, maybe for some its every day. But to also call to mind those times when you were inches from saying “I’m done, I’m going home”. Instead you stayed, and you build someone else a home. God Bless you for that a million times over. What an honor it is to serve alongside all of you.

Final thoughts for us; This comes at a time in our community where we are growing: New Staff, new schools, high level of interest in our training department from incoming students, teams who want to come to Mexico to build and give, large donations for base facilities, favor with authorities, open doors, and miracles all around us. My challange is not to press in for a  ‘mystical/unknown spiritual height’ but to press in to know the Lord, to recognize his work/miracles. Often we seek something that is already right in front of us.

In YWAM we maintain that we are inter-denominational. Often people treat the mission as though it is set on having particular high level of ‘spirituality’ thus pressuring some to limits that he or she is not willing to be pushed to and thus ostracizing some of genuine faith and love for God and people. When teaching, prophesying, and guiding the community do so with humility and honor so that God can use your gift to build ‘up’ and not tear down.

At YWAM SDB we maintain that “We Serve the Poor”. We do this because God said to. “God Said” is the most repeated words in all of scripture. It is a belief that the highest spiritual power in all of the universe actually speaks to man. Our brush with the supernatural begins here. And to gauge our own true spiritual temperature, you need only to look at yourself and ask one question; “Am I being obedient to what God Said?”

If your still interested some final ramblings on history and a few of the wonders of God that we may be passing on to the next generation:

What made one generation of Christians greater then the next? To answer that question I begin by asking another one; What defines greatness? One generation of Christians may seek to raise the bar of intense spiritual commitment. This is not bad. One generation may pursue innovative ways of doing things because God made us to be like him. This is not bad either. The first may see more converts in his or her lifetime, but the other may see more outside of his lifetime because his new idea was put into practice; it saved lives, it Glorified God, and many more came to a saving knowledge of God and deeper conviction of who God is and how much he cares about this world and his children living in it.

What we are doing on our base has the potential to do both. Reach as many in this generation as possible and build new things, have new ideas, and leave something better for those after us to use for reaching the world. goth

Aquaponics is one of these things that may seem really dumb to someone not considering the potential benefits beyond giving someone a meal, much like we do once a week in Zona Norte. But the potential it has for communities, families, orphanages, prisons, schools, churches, community centers, business, and our own base is huge. Also it encourages us to foster care for what God has made to know God better by learned lessons from what God designed to give life. Fish, poop, water, food, and a bunch of other ‘sciency’ stuff. Its Gods design, created a specific way in order to give life. But there are more innovations waiting for a person to try them, test them, and better understand Gods creation in order to bring more life for more people. Innovation is at the very heart of God for us as Christians to be at the forefront of, as dozens of Christian Scientists were long before the “Enlightenment & Renaissance” lade claim to the such innovation.

CSBS: We study the bible. Boring right? -Like thats not being done already. 🙂   We study the bible using a method that teaches our students and staff that before you take scripture in your hands to be used as a weapon for self satisfying “truths” you must admit that you are ignorant of its original purpose, that, that ignorance can cripple you from accurately applying that to your life, your culture, your family, your church. Its nerdy stuff, no doubt. But its necessary. What using this method begins to build in students is a principle much needed in the body of Christ today. That is, a desire to know the culture, history, and world view or common philosophy of our own day in order to rightly apply the principles of truth found in scripture, rather then literal/direct uniformed application of the words in scripture. This can fix some of our churchy problems, and lead the way to bringing in line some of our educational problems, family problems, and various other social issues. The bible is Gods tool for bring Godly Transformation to church, government, education, arts and entertainment, family, science and health, business and economics.

Youth Street: Once a week I go into ‘Antorcha’ with Omar who runs “Youth Street” and about 12-18 youth each week get picked up and brought over to the YWAM base were they have 15-20 minutes hearing a word from Omar then 2+ hours of soccer on our awesome soccer field. The potential of this ministry is growing in the heart and mind of Omar and those who assist him. He has taken a handful on a missions trip to England. A handful are beginning to work along side of the aquaponics program. Most of these boys have received homes through ‘YWAM SDB Homes of Hope’ program started over 20+ years ago. How many of them will graduate college, graduate DTS/CSBS at YWAM, join staff, and begin to acknowledge and respond to the hand of God on their lives? We don’t know yet but these are people that we may be able to observe the fruit of our own work within the next 5-10 years. Some works we will not see the fruit in our lifetime, some fruit will come at the very end of our life, some will come in the next few years, some we see right now, and of course some we will not see this side of eternity. But potentially there is a way in which we can observe and have hope in the fruit all around us by recognizing the work and the gifts of others as something that the Holy Spirit is doing.

Our work is not a spiritual competition. Our encounter with the supernatural happens everyday in the natural. Our God is invisible yet always present in every believer by the Holy Spirit, and is active among all unbelievers. In our immaturity we look for signs. Not that God refuses to give signs, he already has, they are all around us, and in our immaturity we will not recognize them.

I apologize for some reading this who are not a part of YWAM because it has more relevance for us working within this community. However, I hope those who have read have gained something. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments, or corrections if needed.

Also I apologize to staff reading this because I have only touched a fraction of what we are all doing and acomplishing by each of our commitments to Gods call on us individually and communally. God Bless you guys. Be encouraged.

Categories: Church, Mexico, Mission, Philosophy, Society/Culture, Spiritual, Supernatural, Worldview, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Having a Mission

So I have been working with the organization ‘Youth With A Mission’ now since 2007. Over six years. For the past 6 years I have mainly worked with a Bible School in which our primary focus has been to study the bible in its original context. That means lots of time researching. However, not researching opinion on how to interpret the bible. But researching the cultural and historical world of the bible. Then you go through the books interpreting ‘as if’ we were in the shoes of those people to whom the bible was originally written to.

Lots of work. Or at times there may have been short cuts. This no doubt would result in bad theology or just uninformed opinions about the bibles meaning. But when we are not cutting such corners this pursuit ends in the discovery of ‘Truth’. If its really true true, then it ends in the pursuit of Love for God and people.

This I feel is revolutionary. That we can say that something is absolutely true and still love people. Its anti-pluralistic which I realize is anti-my culture. Which may make me an enemy of some. This is where of course I realize that my revolutionary idea is not thrilling to most. We don’t want to make ourselves into others enemies if we are to be displaying the love of Christ to people. Yet I realize its just going to happen, but my mission is still double sided. Its truth and it is love. I can bring love and by doing so hope to communicate truth. Or I can communicate truth in the Hope that for some that will be the most loving thing I could do.

My next step in this mission, I am happy to say will not be about burying myself in a cave to study more, (as was my plan) but I will be taking a practical step in more mission.ywam

2014 My Goal is to partner with each ministry associated with YWAM San Diego/Baja (Mexico). That includes children after school programs, youth boys ministry, educational program for kids, homeless and prostitute ministry in the red light district of Tijuana, building homes for the poor about 10 weekends out of the year, partner with the aquponics (with my wife) gardening system for developing poor communities, and sports ministry. It is my desire to embrace a range of practical ministries such as some of these mentioned. My main focus will be closely related to my experience in inductive bible study and teaching. I will continue overseeing the work we are doing in the bible schools, training new staff as teachers of the word, teaching in our Discipleship Training Schools, serving local pastors and churches, and developing church based higher education.

I am so thrilled to be working with a group of people who take the name to heart and are actually striving to be in the mission of Christ in effectively bringing the truth of Jesus by extension of his love.

I have had a mission the whole time in YWAM. God made sure I was, and I am so grateful for CSBS and for the emphasis on the trans-formative power of the word in the real world. I am encouraged to be a part of a community centered in a common mission for serving the poor. By the years of active mercy, many doors have been opened for ongoing transformation of Mexico. Im excited to be a part of what I believe is a missions success story that is not complete.

Categories: Mexico, Mission, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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