Archive for December, 2007
I love contemporary music. I love many of these songs because they cause us to focus on the Throne of God and Worship. One of the things that contemporary worship cost us was the old hymns. Powerful lyrics set to the music of centuries past. One of the great trends today is taking those powerful lyrics and updating the music to the contemporary sounds desired and loved today. Here is an example of another one I found today.
Regardless of your opinion of the movie, “The Golden Compass”, it is based on the first of three books with a defanant agenda to discredit the God of Heaven. Patty Slack has written an insightful article about this trilogy in the latest issue of Wineskins Magazine. Here is a quote from her article about the third book planned in this series.
The Third Book, The Amber Spyglass, offers the clearest picture of all. Consider this description from Balthamos, a rebel angel:
The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty—those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves—the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself…. He told those who came after him that he had created them, but it was a lie.iii
Dan McVey is Missions Coordinator for Africa at the College For Bibilical Studies at Abilene Christian University, in Abilene, TX. He is also a Board Member for Arewa Aid. This is an important essay that calls us to different approaches to missions and our own mission. Hope you enjoy!
Since its birth 2000 years ago, the Way of Jesus Christ has always been a flexible faith, emphasizing allegiance to Jesus Christ as its single most defining characteristic, capable of entering any culture, transforming it and moving in missionary waves to cultures and societies beyond. Christianity always has had shifting centers of influence in its history of expansion. From the Jewish temple and synagogues to the Greek temples and markets, and from the Roman legions and bishops to the Germanic monks and reformers, the Kingdom of Christ has seen gradual shifts in its centers of dynamism, theology and impetus for growth. Another such shift is happening right before our eyes. In shades and hues and now in brilliant flashes of light, the Kingdom of our Lord is expanding into new territories, and our theologies and vocabularies will reflect these changes in years to come.
What we are experiencing has been termed a “New Reformation,” the “Third Church” (Orthodox as the first, Roman Catholic/Protestant as the second, and this emerging World Kingdom as the third), and the “Renewal of Christianity as a Non-western Religion.” We are seeing a changing world, a growing Kingdom and changing expressions of missions. Where is the “mission field?” The word “missionary” has lost most of its traditional meaning (a westerner who travels to foreign fields of service), and is being redefined as cross-cultural servants from anywhere to anywhere under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Migration of believers, vocational missions, and creative access to unreached people are some of the most significant movements in church planting and evangelism.
In this changing world of Kingdom Times, we need new paradigms through which we view the opportunities and calls of God to serve in his world. Questions for the future include: 1) what is our role? 2) what message do we have? 3) what does partnership with God look like in this rapidly changing time? 4) what are our goals in missions? 5) how do we participate in God’s work in reaching the unreached portions of the world? and 6) how is the Spirit of God preparing the coming generations for their roles in these momentous times?
- We cannot continue to “do missions” as we have for the past 20 years. These are different times with different needs and we are different people with the unchanging message of Jesus.
- “The church that lives comfortably in the post-Christendom West is unable to respond to the pain and spiritual need of postmodern generations” (Samuel Escobar). We must reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in sincere/authentic expression of faith in growing communities of faith within our own culture. Furthermore, we must cast long vision into the future of what our own churches are going to look like and how they will function in the coming generational, revolutionary shift of religious expression in North America.
God is raising the bar for those who are called to participate in these Kingdom Times. Fresh looks at simple lifestyle approaches, partnership with emerging churches, and laying aside our fixation on personal safety so that we may target the truly unreached places of the world-these are some of the issues we must address if we wish to be strategic co-workers with God. These are exciting times. These are testing times. Church history abounds with examples of fellowships and movements that were marginalized through political compromise, and submission to overwhelming cultural influences and apathetic disconnection from the needs of the world. Our roles, needs and abilities may see change, but the Kingdom marches on. Some day, as a matter of routine rather than the exception, we will be studying Chinese and African theologians, singing African and Polynesian hymns, and imitating Indian and Korean disciplines of faith. And it will be just fine. We are getting closer to the vision of Revelation 7.9-10 all the time, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'”
The 12 Days of Christmas like you have never heard it before.
Thanks Bill for sharing this one.
The Lord has opened a wonderful door of opportunity for Barb and me, and has given a new direction for our lives. November 17th. I accepted an offer from the Executive Board of Directors of Arewa Aid to become the Development Officer for this 501C3 Non Profit Corporation. Arewa Aid is the support arm for Brad and Jennifer Blake who work and live in Maiduguri, Nigeria. Arewa translated means North, and is a common word used to describe the aired desert region of Nigeria just south of the Sahara.
This is a wonderful opportunity to work with a special couple as they build bridges and open doors to this Muslim area of Nigeria, West Africa. Islam came to this part of Nigeria over one thousand years ago. Long standing, and deeply imbedded traditions of Islam will not be easily over come, but we are beginning to see hearts opened and souls reached for the Kingdom of Christ. If you missed recent posts concerning this work click here, here and here to learn more.
Barb and I will be traveling to Maiduguri, Nigeria , Lord willing, in March of 2008 to see the work first hand. We solicit your prayers as we embark on this new chapter in our lives.
by Jim Black
Friday, Nov 30, 2007
It was Christmas Eve. I was delivering a basket of food and toys to a family that our church was sponsoring. And I drove by it again. There was the Nativity scene – Mary, Joseph, the angels and shepherds, and right in the middle, the baby Jesus – sitting serenely on the roof of the strip club.
The first time I saw this was two years before, and I laughed at the sight; it just didn’t seem to fit. The second year I wondered what the owners were thinking that they would do this. And on this Christmas Eve I just had to find out.
I noticed that the door to the club was open. It was around 3 in the afternoon, and I parked my car and walked to the door, glancing nervously over my shoulder. What if someone saw me, a pastor, walking into this den of sin in broad daylight? Would anyone understand? Would my career be over? I peeked inside, wondering what I would find.
To my relief, the club was not open and there was a Christmas party being held for the staff…with everyone fully clothed! I asked for the owner, and a woman around 60 years old approached me. I introduced myself, and I said how much I admired the Nativity scene on her roof. She began to tell me about her belief in God, and how much she needed the Lord’s help in her life. I hadn’t planned what I was going to say, and I didn’t feel the Lord prompting me to preach to her in any way about the obvious disparity of the scene. I told her I was a pastor and I encouraged her to keep on talking with and listening to Jesus. She told me that she had tried to go to church before, but she just didn’t feel like she belonged there, and she knew what they would think of her if they ever found out what she did for a living. I told her she was welcome at our church anytime. After wishing each other a Merry Christmas I turned to leave. She thanked me for stopping in, and she told me that she had never really talked with a pastor before.
As I drove away, the strip club Nativity scene in my rear view mirror, I suddenly realized just how much it fit – Jesus didn’t come to the world to stay away from sinners (myself included), but He was born right into the middle of the filth, pain and longing of humanity. He loved sinners, they loved him; he lived with them, touched them – they were the main reason he came. It was in the religious world that he didn’t fit.
I wish I could say that the owner of the club came to church and was transformed that Christmas (then I could have written a book that would sell!) but I never saw her again, and the club was soon closed. As I prayed for her that day I realized that our meeting was for my benefit.
If Jesus came again today for the first time, where would he be found? In a beautiful church? Or in a place that at first would shock us and not seem to fit? In my mind I heard Him saying to me, “I really do love the world… “Go and do likewise…”
Take from: The OOZE