Thursday, June 29, 2006
W. A. Visser ‘t Hooft proposed that missionary witness is a test of Christian faith because of three requirements:
• In the missionary situation the church must demonstrate that it actually believes in the “happenedness” of
what God has done in Jesus Christ.
• In the missionary situation the church must declare whether it believes in the universal claims of the Gospel.
• In the missionary situation the church must affirm that God’s Word is not bound to any one culture, and especially not to Western cultural forms.
These requirements put the church on notice that it carries special responsibilities in relation to both God and the world. No other body or religious group is defined by these three criteria. When the church no longer makes these affirmations, it has changed character and has forfeited its distinctive purpose.
Do you agree? Why or why not?
In regards to this, John Fischer suggests that it's all about connections. The more we learn to connect God's truth to the physical world and the culture that surrounds us, the more we will be able to live a life of worship. Worship does not consist in leaving the world to see God, but in learning to see God at all times in the world.
Fischer share about this through our Lord's example, which I found very meaningful:
Jesus busted the whole paradigm because he was the essence of the spiritual – God himself, to be exact – in human flesh and bone. He ate and drank and got dirty walking the road of life, and made it all sacred in the process. He told stories about vines and branches and farmers and merchants and kings and widows. He changed water into wine, sickness into health, death into life. He healed people's bodies and forgave their sins at the same time. He paid his taxes, helped his disciples fish, and cooperated with Roman rule. And even after his resurrection, he made breakfast for his little band of followers and ate with them.
To Jesus, life was a mixed bag of the holy and the common, but mostly the common made holy by his touch. In Jesus, the sacred and the profane meet, resulting in the realization that the profane can be redeemed. Our earthly existence can be given spiritual value. The physical world is not disconnected from the spiritual one, nor is it at odds with it, but the physical world can embody all that is spiritual. The Word became flesh, and since then nothing has ever been the same. Now work, play, recreation, entertainment, and even commerce can contain God's glory. Indeed, the entire physical world is merely a front for the spiritual realities it illustrates.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Today the term "mobilization" is in vogue and helpfully describes the sending process in all of its aspects. It is encouraging to see churches recognizing that not only should so-called "front-line missionaries" be supported, but also those who are set apart to help mobilize the resources for the task. Whether we call these mobilization specialists "resource advocates," or mission representatives, it is important that we see them as all part of the sending process.
But what is involved in the sending process? One way to look at it is to start from the goal and look back at the required or necessary critical success factors to reach it. The Apostle Paul in Romans 10:14-15 outlines the sending process by starting from the strategic objective (outcome) and outlining the action steps or critical success factors along the way to the goal.
So what then is involved? Let me briefly examine the process:
- The end result of the sending process is simply that people will have an opportunity to "call on the name of the Lord" who alone can save them from the penalty and power of sin. This call to Jesus as Lord (10:9; 10:13) must come from personal conviction as an individual act of repentance and faith.
- Responding to gospel content, people must believe. There is no gospel without giving men and women something to believe. In order to believe we must be able to hear a message. The gospel needs to be preached (orally or in written form). While Christian presence and good works are important, proclamation is essential. God uses living messengers in the process. Preachers or proclaimers are critical. Visions, dreams even miracles may help prepare people, but alone cannot save. Messengers won't show up where they are needed, unless they are sent.
- The sending process then, is the God-given task of the church. Missions mobilization is all about enabling the unreached of our world to be able to "call on the name of the Lord."
- Let's go back to Matthew 10 for just a minute and remind ourselves as to what should be characteristic of the senders and the sent in the mobilization task. Jesus reminds us:To be sent means first to be called (10:1). "Call" is a word that we use or abuse in mission circles. But what is involved in being called? We are reminded first of all that Jesus called his disciples "that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach."
- Regardless of what we think of the so-called "missionary call," it is imperative that we send people who have a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. Both the senders as well as the goers need to be linked closely to the Lord of the Harvest or we'll end up sending ill-equipped and unprepared people.
- Mobilization can become simply an exciting program unless we stay bonded to our Lord.Jesus called each of his disciples personally to be a part of the apostolic team. The call to ministry or mission is very personal, and in our rush to get numbers to the field, we need to make sure that we send those who have a deep conviction that they are being sent by God, not just their peers.Keep in mind too that people are called in answer to prayer. There is much we must do besides prayer but nothing we can do without prayer.
- Labor shortages for the Harvest may have many causes, including poor "marketing" or recruitment efforts. However, without prayer, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 9:38, we will not get the right workers to meet the needs.
- We are called in response to needs. In Matthew 9:36-37 Jesus saw the crowds as harassed and helpless; like sheep without a shepherd. The scribes, Pharisees and priests should have helped, but failed because they lacked compassion. What they lacked, we may lack as well if we are not careful. Those whom we are sending out, need to see the world through the eyes of the Saviour, and respond not just to physical needs, but to the spiritual needs of people that only a right relationship with Jesus can meet.
- There is no higher calling than to participate in the sending process either as a sent one or a sending one. In our day of increasing technical sophistication in mobilization business, we need to heed afresh both the biblical ends as well as the means. It is only then that we truly partner with the Lord of the Harvest in His sending business.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Self-focus verus God-focus
Self righteousness versus Humble
Self power versus God power
Man pleasing versus Already pleased
Fake/Dishonest versus Transparent/real
Prideful versus Grateful
External focus versus Internal focus
Do (work) versus Done (rest)
Identity (what you do) versus Identity (who you are)
Are you focussed on law or grace?
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Keller asked this important question: ''How can followers of Christ be a counterculture for the common good? "
Two movies mirrored the fractured and confusing relationship between Christians and culture this year. The Chronicles of Narnia:The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe struck fear in many secular hearts. Some journalists saw it as an ominous sign of growing right-wing power that a company like Disney would make a movie that had such profound evangelical appeal (and, arguably, content). And why did Disney pull the plug on the gay-friendly TV reality series Welcome to the Neighborhood? Isn't this, the pundits asked, what happens when you let Christians influence culture?At the same time, The End of the Spear, the account of five evangelical missionaries martyred in Ecuador, upset some Christians when it was discovered that an active gay man was playing Nate Saint, the lead role in the movie.
Major questions about Christianity and culture were raised on hundreds of websites. What makes a movie "Christian"? Do all the actors have to be Christians? If not, which kinds of 'sinners' are allowed, and which are not? Is spiritual compromise inevitable when Christians try to enter mainstream cultural production? The relationship of Christians to culture is the singular current crisis point for the church. Evangelicals are deeply divided over how to interact with a social order that is growing increasingly post-Christian.
Many are attracted to the new culture and want to reengineer the church to modify its adversarial relationship with culture. Many in the "one heart at a time" party play down doctrine and stress experience, while some in the reengineering group are changing distinctives of evangelical doctrine in the name of cultural engagement.
We need Christian tradition, Christians in politics, and effective evangelism. And the church has always contextualized itself into its surrounding culture. There are harmful excesses in every approach, however. I think that is because many have turned their specialty into a single magic bullet that will solve the whole problem. I doubt such a magic bulletexists, but just bundling them all together is not sufficient either.Instead, we need a new and different strategy.
Cultural trends tend to be generated in the city and flow outward to the rest of society.People who live in large urban cultural centers, occupying jobs in thearts, business, academia, publishing, the helping professions, and the media, tend to have a disproportionate impact on how things are done inour culture.
Christians should be a dynamic counterculture in the cities. It is not enough for Christians to simply live as individuals in the city. They must live as a particular kind of community. Jesus told his disciples that they were "a city on a hill" that showed God's glory to the world(Matt. 5:14-16). Christians are called to be an alternate city within very earthly city, an alternate human culture within every humanculture.
Lord, may your empower us to do that!
Friday, June 23, 2006
Do you agree?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Last Sunday, Robb preached a sermon based on Jesus' miracles of using five loaves of bread and two fish to feed over 5000 people called "becoming a servant of God", which I was inspired by. Apparently it is the only miracle that is found in all four gospels, thus it must be important!
The followings are the six points that Robb shared about based on this miracle which will help us become faithful servants of God.
1. HAVING A HEART OF MERCY (Luke 9:11)
- Jesus is a person of mercy. Luke 7:13 shows us that Jesus has a heart of compassion/mercy.
- God desires all his children to have hearts of mercy.
- We can cultivate a heart of mercy: 1. Pray, ask God for a heart of mercy. 2. Understand our need of God’s mercy. 3. Everyday look for opportunities to practice mercy (at work, school, family, church,..).
2. UNDERSTAND JESUS HAS GIVEN US ALL AN IMPORTANT ROLE
- In Luke 9:12, the 12 disciples told Jesus to send the people away, but Jesus responded and said “YOU give them something to eat”.
- Today God has called all of us to feed the world.
- As Christians, we have the privilege to represent God and evangelize and make disciples.
3. BE WILLING TO TAKE OUR FISH AND BREAD AND OFFER IT TO GOD AND HIS PURPOSES
- The bread and fish represent our talents, gifts, time, and money, etc.
- The bread and fish in the hands of the disciples are not enough to feed the 5000, but in the hands of Jesus it is enough to feed the 5000.
- Are you willing to give over to God your bread and fish to be used for his purposes.? So often we use our money, time, energy, and talents for our work, school, hobbies and we give God our left over. We need to repent. We need to discovery our gifts that God has given us and use them to God’s glory.
4. WE MUST CONTINUALLY GO TO GOD TO BE REFRESHED
- It is important that first the disciples went to Jesus to receive his fresh bread and fish and then they passed it out to others.
- If we forget to first go to Jesus and receive his fresh food, than we won’t have enough to feed the people and our food will be spoiled.
- God gives us a great promise, if we are willing to draw close to him, he is willing to draw close to us. We can than give away his fresh love and mercy.
5. WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GREATLY IMPACT PEOPLE FOR GOD
- God gave the disciples the opportunity to see their impact on the people they served (they were “full”).
- Sometimes God gives us the opportunity to see the impact we have on people.
- Yet, sometimes we share the gospel and people don’t become a Christian, but God sees it. All we need to do is to be faithful.
6. AS WE SERVE WE WILL BE BLESSED
- There were 12 baskets left over for the 12 disciples. God promises us as we step out and serve He will fill us with his blessings.
- If I were one of the disciples and Jesus told me to feed the 5000, I would have said “who me?”, “who is going to feed me?” or “I am hungry too!”. Yet the Bible says in Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.
- Let us pray that we will live a life of giving and not just receiving.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I think all Christians should think like missionaries and spend more time listening to, eating with and playing with the subculture or neighbourhood we were trying to minister to. I have heard of a joke a non-Christian made in terms of them being addressed as 'un-churched' - "I'll make a deal with you. If you can first become un-churched, I'll become un-unchurched. Sound fair? The only reason I dare make a deal like that is because I know you can't do it."
According to Frost, the church should ensure that there is close, regular connection between the faith community and not-yet-Christians we are trying to reach. I agree with him, and I pray that in God's strength and grace we will be able to do that more often.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Potter & Clay
During the CLiMAT this Saturday, I'll be facilitating a discussion about the analogy of the potter and clay based on Jill Austin's book "Master Potter". Jill Austin, a famous potter, takes a familiar image of hers and creates an analogy that helps us to reach a deeper level in our walk with God. Jill has lived a life full of crises, first with an abusive alcoholic father, then as an 'entertainer' in a local establishment. After being accused of theft, she was tossed into Potter's Field, the garbage dump. On the edge of suicide, she cried out for help to 'Master Potter', a person she remembered hearing about from her grandmother. One victory for Heaven, but the battle has only just begun. Master Potter took her home and re-named her Beloved. She was then taken through many stages of learning how to trust, obey, and have faith even when she felt alone, tired, or bored. These stages were the darkest hours of agony and grief, painful and challening, but she came out of them like the diamond whose colours were formed by hot fires.
Jeremiah 18:6 “As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand…”
As Christians, our faith needs to be stretched and grown, and through it all, we are able to see that God is always present, though not always visible. The analogy of the Master Potter helped me to see my faith in a new and different light. The concept of a potter and clay being translated into the steps God goes through in molding us is really inspiring. What do you think?
Monday, June 19, 2006
(Church Linked Mission Awareness Training)
4 Saturdays: 24 June, 8 July, 22 July, 5 August
Venue: 75A Cotham Road (cnr Highbury Grove)
Kew, Victoria (Melways 45 D6)
For more info please leave a comment here. Otherwise you are welcome to just turn up to the venue this Saturday(24 June) at 10am.
CLiMAT: Designed to expose participants to historical, cultural, & Biblical components of the church’s mission
Week 1 (24 June):
The state of global outreach
The Gospel – a timeless message
Biblical view of God’s mission in the world
Week 2 (8 July):
Learning from Mission History
Preparing for Cross Cultural Living
Biblical Holism, where evangelism and deeds connect
Week 3 (22 July):
That Everyone May Hear
Learning from the pioneers
Teamwork in mission
Week 4 (5 August):
Loving one's neighbours, a look at world religions
Poverty, justice and the Gospel
Pioneer church planting
Saturday, June 17, 2006
- Have a solid friendship - "Ask yourself what kind of friend you are being to your friends / loved ones," Dr. Phil says. "If you want a good friend, be a good friend," he suggests.
- Discover and meet each others' needs - "The success of a relationship is a function of the extent to which it meets the needs of two people," Dr. Phil explains, so learning about your loved ones' needs is extremely important.
- Set specific goals and make conscious efforts. Even small things will accumulate over time and make a difference. Find a quiet moment each day and come up with a specific goal to improve your relationship, whether it's calling your loved one during the day just to say hi, or telling them that you love him or her more often.
- Get back to basics."The idea is to have some concept of what a relationship is supposed to be and start doing those things," Dr. Phil urges. Write down your definitions of a successful relationship and live up to those definitions. Focus on the fundamental things that are going to make a difference in the long run.
- Take responsibility to improve your relationship.You can't control the way your loved one acts in your relationship, but you can control how you react in negative situations, and always do it to improve your relationship.
- Turn the negatives into a to-do list. For example, if you don't have fun with your partner, you need to make a list of enjoyable activities you can do together. Ask yourself, how you can turn the negatives in your relationship right now to a positive.
Sounds interesting hey? Do you experienced people out there have more hints for me? ;)
Thursday, June 15, 2006
The followings are some suggestions:
- Consider the greatness of creation - mountains, sky, and oceans - that clearly portrays the immensity of the power, wisdom, and goodness of the triune God.
- Look at the multitude of creation - a forest has more plant and animal life than you could examine in a lifetime and shows us how God is capable of doing many things at once. Those who wonder how God can hear so many prayers uttered simultaneously have been out of the forest too long!
- Examine the beauty of creation - see the beauty of rocks and their shapes, the beauty of colors and shades, the beauty of individual elements (like trees), and the beauty of overall composition (like forests). God's beauty cannot be revealed through one form, but is so vast and infinite it can fill an entire world with wonder.
The outdoors speaks of God's abundance. For the true Christian naturalist, creation is a sanctuary, a holy place that invites you to prayer. See how you can awaken your soul with creation. As you commute to work or the grocery store, consider driving a few extra blocks or even miles if it means you can pass through a country road. Take an extra moment to look around you and appreciate what God has made. Decide that traveling will be even more important to you than reaching the next place. Make it an event!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Sacred Pathways - Gary Thomas
Have you read this book yet? In the Synosis it says:
"This book encourages readers to see strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies in their devotional approaches to God, and thus learn how to improve their devotional, quiet-time, and personal-worship life with God."
The author Gary Thomas thinks that many Christians seem stuck in a worship rut. He asked an important question, "If God intentionally made us all different, why should everyone be expected to love God in the same way?" He identifies 9 ways people draw close near to God, which I found intriguing.
- Naturalists - are inspired to love God in the outdoors and in natural settings.
- Sensates - love God with their senses and appreciate beautiful worship services that involve their sight, taste, smell, and touch, not just their ears.
- Traditionalists - draw closer to God through rituals, liturgies, symbols, and unchanging structures.
- Ascetics - prefer to love God in solitude and simplicity.
- Activists - love God through confronting evil, battling injustice, and working to make the world a better place.
- Caregivers - love God by loving others and meeting their needs.
- Enthusiasts - love God through celebration.
- Contemplatives - love God through adoration.
- Intellectuals - love God by studying with their minds.
What is your approach to worship and love God?
What do you think?
Monday, June 12, 2006
- "The missional church is reading both Scripture and culture with new eyes. It sees that what is determined by the Christian faith is more than being a good, upright citizen. This emerging church calls for honest, authentic faith that seeks to be church in the way of a more radical discipleship.” (Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Evangelism)
- “A missional church is one whose primary commitment is to the missionary calling of the people of God. . . it is one that aligns itself with God’s missionary purposes in the world. . . The missional church is a sent church, incarnating Jesus’ life and values in the culture it is embedded”.(Frost and Hirsch, The Shaping of Things to Come)
- A missional church has the following defining values: (1) externally focused.(2) culturally engaged without being absorbed.(3) incarnationally not institutionally driven.(4) about discipleship not church membership.(5) patterned after God's missionary purpose in the world.(6) seeks to establish Kingdom outposts to retake territory under the control of the Evil One.(7) seeks to plant,grow, and multiply missionary communities.(8) trains and equips new leaders to learn in the context of mission not in the security of our comfort zone.(9) highlights character, virtue, and compassionate deeds as the most effective witness to God's Kingdom.(10) connects to Jesus through mission not doctrinal precision.(11) adopts an organizational structure and internal forms based on mission not ecclesiastical traditions.(12) sees itself as organic and not in static institutional forms.(13) pursues relationships across generational, ethnic, economic and cultural lines of distinctions.(14) seeks to partner with the community to "seek the shalom" of the community.(15) assembles to seek God's presence and to be realigned with God's missionary purpose. (16) seeks to reawaken a movement ethos as together we engage our cultural context.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Whether you agree with the emerging church 'movement', there is clearly something fresh and important happening as people think adventurously about being the church in ways that are missional to the core. I suppose the terms 'emerging' or 'emergent' tell us that such groups are not fully formed, but one thing is quite clear, these groups want to encourage 'new missional communities'.
I learned that one of the biggest buzz words in missiology today is 'missional', which means different things to different people and needs careful definition. Every disciple of Christ wants to be missional, of course, whether seen as narrowly evangelistic or engaging more broadly in transformative ways in society, whether its personally, locally or cross-culturally / globally.
I like the term 'mission-shaped church', which I was told is the title of a recent report by the Church of England. I think a missional church is one that is shaped in all parts of its life by its sense of mission. That is, it exists for the world more than for the comfort of its members. It is outgoing to the core. I think mission-shaped church is a clear way of expressing what the emerging church is on about.
What do you think?
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The occurrence of the word "repent" in the messages to the seven churches is truly remarkable. I don't know about you, but I used to think that the word "repentance" was only connected with unbelievers and not with Christians. And yet I was reminded that the word used throughout the New Testament in the presentation of the Gospel message to unbelievers is exactly the same word repeated by our Lord in His messages to the churches.
- Ephesus - an energetic church and sound in doctrine. Nevertheless Jesus said they had left their first love, so need to repent.
- Pergamos - holding of the hated doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. Our Lord said, "Repent!"
- Thyatira - also rebuked and repentance urged.
- Sardis - the dying Church commanded to repent.
- Laodicea - neither cold nor hot - need to repent.
The word in Revelation 3:20, which so often is preached to people who don't know the Lord, is in fact to the believers in the church.
Therefore, the church must first repent. Let us be in earnest, change our warped mind, change our heart and wrong attitude, change our contrary direction. Let the church repent!
Friday, June 09, 2006
As much as I am an extrovert, and need to be with people to get 'energised', I am also aware that there are too many external stimuli around me. At times, my head would continue to keep spinning and asking questions, and thinking about issues and stuff. So even if I stop being stimulated externally, my inner world needs to be silent as well. I feel that I am so often reactive. I do believe that silence is of great value in the right contexts at the right times. "A time to be silent and a time to speak."
So do you believe that silence is golden? and if so, when?
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
- The foundation of ministry is character.
- The nature of ministry is service.
- The motive for ministry is love.
- The measure of ministry is sacrifice.
- The authority of ministry is submission.
- The purpose of ministry is glory of God.
- The tools of ministry are prayers and the Word of God.
- The privilege of ministry is personal growth.
- The power of ministry is Holy Spirit.
- The model for ministry is Jesus Christ.
Which out of these 10 principles can you identify with, or think is most important?
Monday, June 05, 2006
Stop thinking conventionally about how to do church, as if there is some presupposed purpose for church in the contemporary scene here in Australia. If many, many Australians don't see any great usefulness, far less relevance, for the church today, how can they see churches as anything but anachronistic and quaint? Start thinking mission. Start thinking in a missions-to-the-first-world kind of way. Start thinking of the church in Australia as an uninvited, intrusive missionary movement in an uninterested, sometimes even hostile, pagan land.
We are only now getting used to the idea that the church in the west must become a missionary church in its own milieu if the church is to survive. Institutionally, of course, this is a massive paradigm shift from our standard ministry focus. Before reading any further, pause for a moment and ask yourself the following question, "If we could completely dismantle everything we now know as church (its structures, its ministries, its institutions, its traditions etc.) and literally begin everything from scratch, would you still do it the way we do it today?" I am not asking you to question the biblical basis for Christianity, the teachings of Jesus. I am asking, if we took Jesus' teaching seriously and if we really cared about the eternal destiny of Australians, would we do church the way we're currently doing it?
Literally everyone I have asked that question of has responded with a resounding "No, I wouldn't do it the way it's being done." So why do we put up with an approach to being church that neither reflects the radical thinking of Christ nor makes a way for the lost to encounter him?
The seemingly steadfast refusal or resistance by the western church to seriously contextualise the gospel is one of its greater mistakes and will sadly hasten its declining influence on Australian society. We are not taking the gospel seriously. And we are not taking our cultural context seriously either.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
I AM: in love
I SAID: 'I need nothing', but......
I WANT: to glorify God in all that I do
I WISH: I could swim
I MISS: my dad
I HEAR: my inner noise
I WONDER: if my dad knew the Lord before he passed away.
I REGRET: being selfish and silly at times
I AM NOT: going to quit
I DANCED: with D in our good friends' wedding
I SING: when I lead worship celebration
I CRY: when I feel upset and depressed
I AM NOT ALWAYS: cheerful
I WRITE: all the time
I CONFUSE: others when I have mood swings
I SHOULD: spend more time with God and my loved ones
I START: to cry when I don't know what to do
I FINISH: dinner just now
I LOVE: to be able to love better
I TAG: you if you are reading this. (Please send me a comment once you've done it hehe)
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Friday, June 02, 2006
(1) Mobility of the church
(2) Use of new words or metaphors
(3) The Contextuality of the Church
(4) Faith in the Holy Spirit
(5) Focus on unity
(6) Fivefold ministry
(7) The importance of discipleship and training in ministry
What do you think?
Thursday, June 01, 2006
That really made me think and wonder - how do we as followers of Christ practise incarnation? If we did have the mentality that God is in the every day, would we live differently? Are we relevant? Do we in our churches expect relevancy in our worship and being church?